Author Archives: Jen

Blog Giveaway Roundup – October 31, 2014

Blog Giveaway Roundup

Welcome to our weekly giveaway roundup! Every Friday, we offer you the chance to share your giveaways. If you love to enter giveaways, be sure to browse the selection below.

Blog Giveaway Roundup

Good luck! If you’ve had any blog giveaway wins this last week, feel free to let everyone know about them by leaving a comment below.

5 Delicious Ways to Get More Fiber in Your Diet #FiberOne #paid @PlatefullCoop

5 Delicious Ways to Add More Fiber to Your Diet #FiberOne #paid @PlatefullCoop

Disclosure:  I was provided with product samples by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op to help facilitate this post.  All opinions stated are my own.

Most of us are aware that having enough fiber in your diet is essential for good health. It helps keep the digestive system running smoothly, it can help lower cholesterol, and it can help you maintain a healthy weight. Yet despite this knowledge, the average American does not get enough fiber in their diet. The recommended daily intake of fiber is around 30 grams, yet the intake of most Americans is half that. So today I thought I would share some easy ways that you can increase your fiber intake.

5 tasty ways to get more fiber in your diet.

1. Have fruit for dessert. Fruit is really the perfect ending to a meal. It’s sweet, full of vitamins and minerals, and it adds a couple of grams of fiber to your daily intake.
2. Make faux-fried foods. I like to crush Fiber One cereal, add some seasonings, and use it to coat chicken pieces. Baked in the oven, it makes a delicious (and fiber-filled) alternative to fried chicken.
3. Make bean purees and add 1/4 cup to your favorite gravy, casserole, or soup recipes. This adds a good amount of fiber without affecting the taste. I have been doing this for years and my kids have never caught on!
4. Make a delicious frozen dessert with frozen berries. Puree frozen berries and banana slices in your food processer for a yummy dessert that has the consistency of ice cream, but without all the guilt.
5. Have a mid-day snack of Fiber One Streusel Bars, Cookies, or Meal Bars.

5 Delicious Ways to Add More Fiber to Your Diet #FiberOne #paid @PlatefullCoop

We had the opportunity to try an assortment of Fiber One snacks recently. They were a huge hit with our family. I received Fiber One Strawberry Streusel Bars, Fiber One Chocolate Chunk Soft Baked Cookies, and Fiber One Dark Chocolate Almond Meal Bars to try. All were delicious and my kids had no idea they were chock-full of fiber.

5 Delicious Ways to Add More Fiber to Your Diet #FiberOne #paid @PlatefullCoop

By far the Strawberry Streusel Bars were the favorite. Topped with a crunchy brown sugar and oats streusel topping, these bars are made with real fruit and reminded my kids a lot of the strawberry cereal bars they love. Each Streusel Bar contains just 150 calories and 5 grams of fiber. Not surprisingly since I am a chocoholic, the Chocolate Chunk Cookies were my favorite. Each cookie also has 5 grams of fiber. The Meal Bars are also quite tasty. My kids have been eating them as an after-school snack. Thet kive the dark chocolate and nuts. Each bar contains a whopping 9 grams of fiber.

You can find the new Fiber One Meal Bars, Streusel Bars, and Cookies at Target.  I love that they are individually packaged so they are easy to grab and go!

Adding more fiber to your diet doesn’t mean you have to munch on salads all day long. With the tasty suggestions I’ve mentioned, it is easy to up your fiber intake. So tell me… How do you increase your fiber intake?

Join the VeggieTales Fun at Your Local Family Christian Store

Upcoming Fun at the Miamisburg Ohio Family Christian Store

Disclosure:  I will be receiving a gift certificate in appreciation for sharing this information with my readers.  However, all opinions stated are my own.

I love shopping at my local Family Christian Store in Miamisburg, Ohio.  I am an avid reader and they always have such a wonderful selection of Christian Fiction.  We also love their selection of family-friendly movies and music.  We always seem to spend at least an hour there any time we go!

When my kids were little, any time we visited a Family Christian store, they always made a beeline to the children’s section to check out if there were any new VeggieTales movies.  Even now that they are getting older, they still love the Veggie Tales silly songs.  If you are like me, you probably know all the words to the VeggieTales theme song and other favorites like “I Love My Lips,” “The Hairbrush Song,” and “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.”  (And I apologize profusely if any of those songs are now running through your head for the rest of the day!)

Dress Like a Veggie Event at Family Christian Stores Nationwide

Are your kids fans of VeggieTales too?

Then I have a treat for your family!  On October 31st, all Family Christian Stores nationwide will be hosting a fun “Dress Like a Veggie” Event.  I encourage you to bring your kids into your local Family Christian Store dressed as their favorite veggies.  Each child in attendance will receive a special treat.  If you take a picture of  your child and share it, you can win a $250 Family Christian Gift Card.

For those of you in the Miamisburg, Ohio area, the VeggieTales will be in the store at 6 and 8 pm.  How fun is that?  When my oldest was just a toddler, we got some fun photos of her with Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber.  So you will definitely want to bring along your camera if you are able to attend.

Want to get an early start on your Christmas shopping?

Click on the link below for a printable coupon to save 40% off any one item at their local Family Christian Store or online at FamilyChristian.com.  It would be great to use to start some early Christmas shopping!  The coupon is good through November 13, 2014, so if you want to use it, be sure to print it now.

Printable Coupon – Save 40% off 1 Item at Family Christian

So tell me… Have you been to your local Family Christian Store lately?  Will you be attending the “Dress Like a Veggie” event?

Breakfast Gets a Blast from the Past with Big G Retro Monsters Cereals #retromonstercereal #PlatefullCoOp

Whether you love all things Halloween, or you are nostalgic for a bit of your childhood, Big G Retro Monsters Cereals are fun for the whole family.  Available only for a limited time at Target. #retromonstercereal #PlatefullCoOp #paid

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op to facilitate this post. All thoughts are my own.

I am a child of the 80’s so it is always so much fun to see retro food packaging.  It’s like stepping back in time to my childhood, when things were a little bit simpler.  When Saturday mornings meant a big bowl of Count Chocula cereal while watching cartoons.

Whether you love all things Halloween, or you are nostalgic for a bit of your childhood, Big G Retro Monsters Cereals are fun for the whole family.  Available only for a limited time at Target. #retromonstercereal #PlatefullCoOp #paid

Just in time for Halloween,  Big G is giving us all a blast from the past with retro versions of Count Chocula, Boo Berry, and Franken Berry cereals.  How fun is that!?  Big G’s Monster cereals in special Throwback packaging are back for a limited time and only available at Target.  On the back of each of these boxes of cereal is a fun mask that your child can cut out and wear.

Whether you love all things Halloween, or you are nostalgic for a bit of your childhood, Big G Retro Monsters Cereals are fun for the whole family.  Available only for a limited time at Target. #retromonstercereal #PlatefullCoOp #paid

Joining the Monster cereals in their retro packaging this year are 3 varieties of fun Monster snacks.  Count Chocula Treats are yummy cereal bars with marshmallows and chocolate galore.  Just perfect for taming a chocolate craving.  Also available are Boo Berry and Franken Berry Fruit Roll Ups.  Those were a favorite with my kids.

The kids really enjoyed the cereal, but we also had fun using it to make some marshmallow treats for after-school snacks.  We used a mixture of Franken Berry and Count Chocula cereals to make a marshmallow treat that is reminiscent of chocolate covered strawberries.  I have included the recipe below in case you want to make some with your own kids.

ChocoBerry Marshmallow Treats

3 cups Count Chocula Cereal

3 cups Franken Berry Cereal

1/4 cup butter

1 10 oz bag of mini marshmallows

In a large bowl, combine the cereals and stir gently to mix.  In a large pot, melt the butter.  Add the marshmallows and stir continuously until melted and smooth.  Pour over the cereal and gently stir until all the cereal is coated.  Drop by large spoonfuls (I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup sprayed with cooking spray) on a piece of waxed paper and allow to cool.

Whether you just really love Halloween or you are feeling a bit of nostalgia for your childhood, Big G’s Monster cereals and snacks are fun for the entire family.  So tell me…  Have you seen the retro Monster cereals at your local Target?  And just for fun… what was your favorite cartoon to watch on Saturday mornings?  Mine was the Chipmunks.

Protect Your Eyesight! Contact Lens Safety Tips You Need to Know

Disclosure:  I wrote this review while participating in an Influencer campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. and received a promotional item from Mom Central to thank me for participating.

Contact Lens Safety Tips

I have been wearing contact lenses since I was a teenager. Back then, we didn’t have disposable lenses. I wore the same pair for a year, if you can believe it. Each week I had to soak my contacts in a special solution to remove protein. Nowadays, we have disposable contact lenses, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for proper lens care and safety to help avoid an eye infection.

My son first started wearing contact lenses two years ago. He had been asking for them ever since he started wearing glasses, but we told him that he needed to wait until he was in high school to get his first pair. We felt by that point he would be responsible enough to to take care of them properly.

Contact Lens Safety Tips

When my son got his first box of disposable contact lenses, I made sure to sit down with him and go over lens care and cleaning habits before he was allowed to wear them for the first time. In typical teenage fashion, he groaned and rolled his eyes at me. I am sure that at the time, he thought it was a bit silly that I was making such a big deal out of it. However, I would rather be safe than sorry. Good hygienic practices are vital to keeping your eyes healthy and avoiding infections that could damage your sight. Good eyesight should never be taken for granted.

Whether you wear contacts to correct your vision, or are just going to be donning decorative lenses as part of your Halloween costume this year, here are some safety tips, courtesy of Johnson and Johnson Vision Care, that you need to be sure to follow.

Contact Lens Safety Tips

Contact Lens Tips to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

  • Always get your contact lenses from a licensed professional. All contact lenses, even ones that just change your eye color, require a prescription.  Don’t be tempted to buy from a less than reputable internet source because you are only wearing them as part of a costume.  It’s not worth the risk to your eyesight!
  • Wash your hands thoroughly any time you are going to be handling your contact lenses.  Be sure to rinse your hands well to remove any soap residue.  (Trust me, getting even the teeniest bit of soap on your contact lens stings like you wouldn’t believe!)  Dry your hands with a lint free towel.
  • Follow the lens care instructions set by your eye doctor.   With disposable lenses, cleaning and disinfecting isn’t as much of a pain as it used to be, but it is still important to follow your doctor’s recommendations and use the cleaning solutions they recommend.
  • Never use regular tap water to clean your lenses.  You could be risking an infection and it could damage your lenses.
  • Replace your lenses following the recommended schedule.  It may be tempting to get more use out of your disposable lenses and wear them a few weeks longer than you should.  (Confession time!  I am guilty of this one.  I used to routinely wear my 2 week lenses for a month before I would throw them out.  Now that I am getting older though, I realize how risky that was and now dutifully follow my eye doctor’s recommendations.)
  • If you ever experience any discomfort while wearing contact lenses, remove them immediately.  It may be something as simple as getting an eyelash between your eye and the lens.  A good rinsing with contact solution may take care of it.  If the problem persists after you have cleaned the lenses, contact your eye doctor.
  • If you have redness of the eye, excessive tear production, or vision changes, take out your contacts and call your doctor right away.
  • Don’t share contact lenses with someone else, even if they have the same prescription.

Contact Lens Safety Tips

If you wear contact lenses, following the simple tips I mentioned will help ensure eye health and protect your vision.  For additional contact safety tips and information, be sure to read through this Healthy Vision and Contact Lenses information sheet.  It is wealth of information for contact wearers.

One last thing I wanted to share with you is a free service that will send you automatic reminders when you need to replace your contact lenses.  If you are like me and can never remember exactly when you need to throw out your disposable lenses and start a new pair, then you need to check out  http://www.acuminder.com

The Acuminder tool is completely free to use.  It will send you an automatic reminder via text message or email when you need to replace your contact lenses, order new lenses, or schedule an eye exam.  That is one less thing us busy moms need to worry about!

So tell me… Do you wear contact lenses?  Do you have any lens safety tips to share?

Clever Costumes Kit Review – Make Your Own Halloween Costumes This Year

Make easy, inexpensive DIY #Halloween Costumes with the Clever Costumes Kit.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary Clever Costumes Kit to facilitate this review.  However all opinions stated are my own.

I love going out for Trick-or-Treating with my kids, but I have always had a bit of an issue with paying $20 to $40 for a Halloween costume.  With 4 kids, that expense could really add up.  So a lot of my kids’ costumes over the years have been handmade.

This year is bittersweet for me.  Our kids don’t go trick-or-treating anymore once they hit middle school and this year is the last year of elementary school for my youngest. Even though it will be her last time trick-or-treating, I still can’t stomach the cost of buying an expensive Halloween costume for my daughter at the store.  So I was super excited to learn about the Clever Costumes Kit.

Make easy, inexpensive DIY #Halloween Costumes with the Clever Costumes Kit.

Although I love to make handmade Halloween costumes, I always have problems coming up with ideas.  Well Clever Costumes definitely solved that problem for me this year.  The kit comes with a 64 page book, filled with ideas for 50 different costume ideas that you can easily make at home. In addition to the book, the Clever Costumes Kit comes with a few materials to get you started.  In the recloseable plastic case in the front of the kit is red satin, duct tape, elastic cord, and adhesive backed recloseable fasteners.

What I love about Clever Costumes is that all of these ideas are quick and easy.  No sewing required! I didn’t see any tutorials in there which would take more than a couple of hours.  Which is great if you are like me and tend to put things off until the last minute :)

Make easy, inexpensive DIY #Halloween Costumes with the Clever Costumes Kit.

The costume tutorials in Clever Costumes all use common materials that you probably already have on hand – such as cardboard and plastic bags.  You shouldn’t have to buy much, if anything, to make most of the costumes in this book.  As a frugal mom, I definitely appreciate that!

Be sure to check out this video to see one of the tutorials in action.  The author uses plastic bags to make a skirt for one of the costume ideas.

My youngest daughter has already decided that she wants to use the Queen of Hearts tutorial for her Halloween costume this year.  This isn’t surprising, given her current obsession with the tv show Once Upon a Time!  I love that the Queen of Heart costume uses Target bags to make the pattern for the skirt.   I think that is so creative!  The book definitely lives up to its name.  We have been saving up all our Target bags and we should have enough by Halloween to make the costume.

Some of the other costume ideas from the book that caught my daughter’s eye were the Cupcake (her favorite books right now are the Cupcake Diaries series),  Space Person – which uses the cardboard roll from gift wrap to make the jet pack, Mermaid – uses a shower curtain to make the tail, and the Princess.

Make easy, inexpensive DIY #Halloween Costumes with the Clever Costumes Kit.

All of the ideas in the book are simple enough to make that your kids definitely can help make their costumes.  Older kids might even be able to make an entire costume on their own. My daughter and I sat down to make a cape with the materials. She was excited to be able to do all of it by herself.

Make easy, inexpensive DIY #Halloween Costumes with the Clever Costumes Kit.

Here is my daughter in her finished cape. It took her only about 10-15 minutes to make. It would make a quick and easy Little Red Riding Hood costume.

Make easy, inexpensive DIY #Halloween Costumes with the Clever Costumes Kit.

Since my daughter is going as the Queen of Hearts this year, she decided she was going to use it for the Queen of Heart’s skirt.

My daughter and I definitely enjoyed the Clever Costumes Kit.  I would recommend it to anyone who wants to make their Halloween costumes this year.  It’s also great to have on hand if your child loves to play dress-up like mine always did when they were little.

To learn more about the Clever Costumes Kit, visit Downtown Bookworks or you can purchase the kit on Amazon.  Happy Crafting!

Fun New Halloween Paper Crafting Kit and Exclusive Free Video Lessons

Jillibean Soup Halloween Paper Crafting Kit

Disclosure: The links included in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage of the sale price should you purchase something. However, I don’t promote anything I don’t find neat or useful.

You may be aware of Craftsy’s awesome craft classes, but did you know they offer patterns and craft supplies as well? Just in time for Halloween, Craftsy has a new Jillibean Soup Halloween Paper Crafting Kit that will have you creating fun decorations in no time.

This frightfully fun kit is full of all sorts of crafting goodies.  In addition you will get some great ideas for using the supplies to create stylish Halloween decor projects with exclusive video lessons. Paper crafts expert Ronda Palazzari will show you how to use Jillibean Soup’s paper pads, black glitter beanboard alphas and festive embellishments to create a witch’s hat, pumpkin centerpieces and even a spooky banner!

Happy Crafting!

Gone Girl Movie Giveaway #GoneGirl

Gone Girl Movie Giveaway

 

I am so excited for the upcoming premiere of Gone Girl on October 3rd.  Since I first shared the trailer with you, I have gotten a copy of the book and found I couldn’t put it down after I started reading it.  I can’t wait to see how it is adapted on screen.

About the movie Gone Girl

Directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Gone Girl Movie Giveaway

To learn more about Gone Girl, follow the conversation using the hashtag #GoneGirl.  You can also check out the official movie website and follow the movie on the following social media channels.

Enter to win a Gone Girl Movie Prize Pack that includes a copy of the book and a $25 Visa Gift Card.  The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends October 9, 2014.

To help promote the the release of Gone Girl, I have a fun giveaway for you.  One lucky A Heart Full of Love reader will win a Gone Girl Movie Prize Pack that includes a copy of the book and a $25 Visa Gift Card so you can see Gone Girl in the theater.  Entry is open to US residents age 18 and older. The giveaway ends October 9th at 11:59 pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I will be receiving a prize pack  from 20th Century Fox as a thank you for writing about this upcoming film.

Easy Halloween Crafts for Kids


October is fast approaching, and I am already thinking of Halloween.  Each year I like to pick out a few easy Halloween Crafts for kids to make with my daughters and a few of their friends.  We make an afternoon of it, complete with a special Halloween snack.  Afterwards, my kids always have so much fun using their new creations to decorate their rooms for Halloween.

Want some simple Halloween crafts to make with your kids this year?  Here are a few ideas to spark your imagination…

Decorate a pumpkin- no carving required

What would Halloween be without a Jack-o-lantern?  If your kids aren’t old enough to trust with pumpkin carving tools, there is a great alternative – pumpkin decorating kits.  These kits have translucent pegs (think Light Brights) that are pounded into the pumpkin with a small wooden mallet.

Kids can use the included patterns or come up with your own design.  When they are done, you put a small battery powered light inside (sometimes included with the kit) and the light shines out through the design the kids made.  They are really cool looking all lit up at night.  When my kids were younger, we did this with them every year.  They were always so proud of the pumpkins they created!


Pumpkin Masters Kid's Fright Lights
Pumpkin Masters Kid’s Fright Lights

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Halloween Shrinky Dinks

What kid doesn’t love Shrinky Dinks?  There’s something fascinating about watching your artwork grow smaller and smaller.  Did you know that you can make your own Shrinky Dinks?  You just need a clear plastic container like the ones you get at a deli or salad bar.  Just make sure that the plastic is labeled on the bottom with a #6 surrounded by recycling arrows.  Not all types of plastic will work, so make sure it has that “6”.

Cut away the sides of the container so you have some flat plastic sheets.  Now hand your kids some permanent markers and instruct them to create some Halloween pictures on the plastic sheets.  When they are done, bake on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 3-4 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before handling.  (Adults should handle all the tasks involving the oven, of course.)  Now you can take your miniature works of Halloween art and make them into jewelry or whatever else you desire.


Shrinky Dinks Halloween Fun
Shrinky Dinks Halloween Fun

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Halloween Clothespin Crafts

Another easy Halloween craft idea is to make Halloween clothespin dolls with your kids.  You just need a wooden clothespin for the doll body, scraps of felt for clothes, embroidery floss for accents or hair, and white glue to hold it all together. In no time, your kids can be creating all sorts of spooky Halloween characters like ghosts, witches, zombies, and more.  You might be amazed what they will come up with!


Halloween Clothespin Craft Kit
Halloween Clothespin Craft Kit

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Halloween Foam Crafts

Halloween foam craft kits are a great idea when you want to make a craft with your kids that can be finished pretty quickly.  Halloween foam haunted houses are always a huge hit with my kids, but there are other types available as well.

Last year our youngest daughter’s Girl Scout Troop used Halloween foam frame kits at one of their meetings and they turned out so cute.  The leader took a picture of each girl in her costume to put in their frame.  My daughter put a magnet on the back of hers and we hung it on the fridge for all of October.

Giant Haunted House Halloween Foam Activity
Giant Haunted House Halloween Foam Activity


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Create a Halloween Mask

Another great Halloween craft idea is to let your kids make masks.  This is a super easy craft to get ready.  All you need are plain white paper plates, scissors, markers, and ribbons.  Start by cutting eye holes in a paper plates.  Older children can do this themselves, but if you are dealing with preschoolers or toddlers, you might want to do this ahead of time.

Let the kids go wild decorating their masks with markers.  You can also supply glitter, glue, and crafty odds and ends like feathers if you want. After the kids have decorated their masks, attach a ribbon at each side so the kids can wear them.


Animal Paper Masks Kit
Animal Paper Mask Kit


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For even more easy Halloween crafts for kids, be sure to check out this video.

So tell me…  What sorts of easy Halloween crafts for kids is your family making this year?