Author Archives: Jen

Blog Giveaway Roundup – January 30, 2015

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.

Think The Bouqs for your Valentine’s Day Flowers this year!

Disclosure:  I received a bouquet of flowers from The Bouqs to facilitate this post.

Valentines Day Flowers from The Bouqs

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and there is no better way to say “I Love You” than a big bouquet of beautiful fresh flowers.  Fresh cut flowers always make the home so bright and cheerful.  They are a great way to let someone know how much you care! If you are planning on sending your sweetie flowers this Valentine’s Day, be sure to check out The Bouqs.

The Bouqs offers a great variety of gorgeous flower bouquets for that special someone in your life.  Unlike most internet florist companies, The Bouqs uses sustainable and eco-friendly growing techniques.  They only cut the flowers that are ordered, so you will receive the freshest, most beautiful flowers possible – delivered directly to you from the farm where they were grown.

If you have ever ordered flowers online, you probably got hit up with a bunch of hidden fees.  One thing I really like about The Bouqs is that they charge a flat rate- $40 for their Volcano Collection and $50 for their California Collection.  All prices include shipping.  They will never hit you up for any additional handling charges.

Valentines Day Flowers from The Bouqs

I received a bouquet from The Bouqs so I could see the quality for myself.  I received their Peace Bouquet – featuring stunning white roses and purple accent flowers.  Their Peace Bouquet is part of their Volcano collection, grown on the side of a volcano in South America.

Valentines Day Flowers from The Bouqs

I am not the best photographer in the world, so my pictures don’t quite do the flowers justice.   I was very pleased with my beautiful bouquet and they graced my dining room table for well over a week until they faded.  I will definitely think of The Bouqs the next time I need to order flowers.

Valentines Day Flowers from The Bouqs

If you are planning on ordering flowers from The Bouqs this Valentine’s Day,I recommend that you order as soon as possible for the best selection.   For more information or to order, visit


Project Life – Birthday Celebration

Birthday Project Life Page

Now that the holidays are over, I am so happy to have time to once again play around with all my scrapbooking supplies and get some more pages done.  This week I was working on my youngest daughter’s Project Life album.  I am trying to fit all of elementary school in one album.  Since she is in her last year of elementary school, I figured it would be nice to have everything caught up for her by the end of the school year.  We’ll see if that actually happens :)

This page is from Miss S’s last birthday.  I can’t believe my baby is already 10!  We just had a small party for her as the next day my in-laws were taking both Miss S and Miss A on a New England vacation.   I made her some cupcakes and she had her best friend over to help celebrate, but it was just mostly a small family thing.

Birthday Project Life Page

I used my new Sweet Taffy Birthday Project Life Kit to assemble this page.  I just love the bright colors and fun designs of the Sweet Taffy designer series paper.  I made quick work of cutting the paper into 4×6 and 3×4 cards with my Project Life dies.

Birthday Project Life Page

For the title card, I used the Top Note die to layer on the card and then  added a couple of die cut balloons with baker’s twine as the string.  The presents are also die cuts and I used some cotton ribbon behind them to help the presents pop off the page.

I was so pleased with how this Project Life page turned out.  So colorful and fun!

Magnolia Lane Crafts Etsy Shop

Want to get the cards and die cuts that I used on this page?  The 93 piece Sweet Taffy Birthday Project Life Kit is now available in my Etsy shop – Magnolia Lane Crafts.   As a bonus, if you sign up for my Etsy Shop mailing list, you can get 10% off your first purchase in my Etsy shop.  In addition you will receive notice of my latest Stampin Up monthly deals.

While you are here be sure to check out the rest of my Project Life pages.  For even more ideas, be sure to follow my Project Life Pinterest board.

So tell me… Are you doing Project Life this year?


Book Review: A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker

Book review of Ted Dekker's A.D.30

About A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker

In A.D. 30, you’ll step back into the year of our Lord, and dive head first into a war that is raging between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.

The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father’s warriors–Saba who speaks more with his sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars.

From there, Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews. It would be a journey filled with great danger. If they can even survive the vast trek across the desert, they will enter into a brutal world run by kings and emperors.

On the way, Maviah crosses paths unexpectedly with another man. An enigmatic teacher who speaks of a way in this life which offers greater power than any kingdom. His name is Yeshua, and his words turn everything known on its head. Though following him may present even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people–and herself.

My thoughts

I signed up to review A.D. 30 based solely on the other books I had read by Ted Dekker.  I didn’t really know anything about the book or the plot.  Based on Dekker’s previous books that I had read, I expected A.D. 30 to be filled with suspense and plot twists – a thriller that would keep me turning the pages late into the night.  So I was a teensy bit disappointed to discover that this book was different.  At first glance, it didn’t appear to have any of the mystery or suspense that I normally associate with Ted Dekker’s books.  I have to be completely honest that I did not expect to enjoy it at all.  I was so happy to be proven wrong!  Despite my pre-conceived notions, Ted Dekker once again did not disappoint.   A.D. 30 might not share much in common with the author’s previous works, but I found the story of Maviah’s transformation from unloved slave girl to Child of God to be completely enthralling.

At the beginning of the story, Maviah is a former slave, unwanted by her father, and feeling very much alone.  A war sets her on a journey that eventually leads to an encounter with Yeshua, which leaves Maviah forever changed.  By embracing her new found faith, Maviah is able to become the “queen” that she never quite believed she was.

Although historical fiction is not a genre I usually pick, I quickly found myself caught up in the setting and Maviah’s story.   I have never really thought much about the time period in which Jesus walked this earth, other than what I have read in the Bible and what I learned in history class about the Roman Empire.  So I really enjoyed learning more about what was going on in the world during this time – the political unrest, the uprisings, the oppression by the Romans.  This book does a really great job at exploring what it must have been like to be a woman during this period in history.

Although Maviah and her traveling companions are fiction, others mentioned in the story actually existed, like King Herod, Aretas, his daughter Phasa, Herodias, John the Baptist, and others.  You can tell that Dekker has really done his research into this time period and you get the sense that the story really could have fit flawlessly with what we know from the Bible about Jesus’ public ministry.

I loved the way Jesus’ teachings are woven throughout the story as well.  Although a fictional story, it really made me think about what it must have been like for people to have actually been there to hear Jesus speak and how they must have been completely enthralled by his radical teachings.

Even though the story was set nearly 2000 years ago, Maviah’s journey throughout A.D. 30 really resonated with me. I too at times am crippled with doubt.  I too at times forget the lessons of Jesus and let fear influence my thoughts and actions.  I too at times feel like an utter failure.  Yet just like Maviah, when I stop letting the fear, doubts, and insecurities have power over me, I can truly see God’s will for me.

All things considered, I really enjoyed A.D. 30.  It’s not a book I probably would have ever picked up on my own, but I am so very glad I had the opportunity to read it.

Want to read A.D. 30 for yourself?  You can order a copy at

Enter to win a $10 Family Christian Gift Certificate.  The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends January 14, 2015.

And now for a fun giveaway. Family Christian Stores would like to bless one A Heart Full of Love reader with a $10 Gift Certificate.  The giveaway ends January 14, 2015 and is open to US residents age 18 and older.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book to review. All opinions stated are my own.

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year 2015 from A Heart Full of Love

I just wanted to take a moment and wish all of my wonderful readers a Happy New Year!  I hope the new year is good to you and your family.

It’s hard to believe a new year has begun.  The older I get, the quicker the years go by.  Now I sound like my grandma :)

We are spending today taking down the Christmas tree, as is our tradition. If it doesn’t take too long, we might go take the kids to the movies to see Into the Woods or Wild.   So tell me… how are you ringing in the New Year?

Buckeye Pretzel Bites

Buckeye Pretzel Bites RecipeI can’t believe another year is coming to a close.  Tonight is New Year’s Eve and I plan on spending it with my family, watching movies, playing board games, and eating copious amounts of snacks until we watch the ball drop at midnight.  Hopefully my kids will polish off the rest of the Christmas cookies so I can stop feeling guilty about eating too many of them myself :)

Even though we have a ton of Christmas sweets left, I did make some Buckeye Pretzel Bites at the request of my youngest.  Basically they are a Buckeye sitting on a pretzel.  The perfect blend of sweet and crunchy.  Yum!  They are really easy to make, but they do require some refrigeration between steps.  My recipe is adapted slightly from a recipe I found in Taste of Home magazine.  The original recipe was called Chocolate Peanut Sweeties but my kids always call them Buckeye Pretzel Bites, so the name stuck.  Plus I am from Ohio, and any little peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate have to be called Buckeyes :)

Buckeye Pretzel Bites Recipe

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (use the real stuff!)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • a bag of mini pretzels (you will need 40-60 for this recipe depending on how big you make the peanut butter balls)
  • 1- 12 oz bag of chocolate chips – or if you really want to be wild and crazy use white chocolate chips :)
  • 1 tbs coconut oil (the original recipe called for shortening but coconut oil is better for you and works just as well)

In a medium sized bowl, beat the peanut butter and butter until smooth.  Mix in the powdered sugar.  At this point,  I find it easiest to get in there and use my hands to form the mixture into a big ball.  If you are having a hard time getting the mixture to stick together, you can add a tbs of milk to help it come together.  Sometimes when I make this recipe, it works perfectly.  Other times the mixture is really crumbly and I have to add the milk.  I think it depends on the brand of peanut butter you use.

Form the peanut butter mixture into 1 inch balls and press each on onto the top of a pretzel.  (I use a small cookie scoop to make sure they are all the same size.)  Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate at least one hour.

Melt the chocolate chips with the coconut oil in a double boiler or in your microwave. Holding the pretzel between your fingers, dip the peanut butter ball into the chocolate to coat, then return to the baking sheet, pretzel side down.  Stick the buckeye pretzel bites back in the refrigerator for an hour so the chocolate can harden.  Store in the refrigerator.  Eat within 4-5 days or the pretzels will start to get a bit soggy.

Buckeye Pretzel Bites Recipe


So tell me… do you have any big plans for New Year’s Eve?

Teardrop Trailer Dreamin’ ~ Mickey and Minnie Go Camping

Department 56 Mickey and Minnie Go Camping

I have always wanted a teardrop trailer to use when our family goes camping in the summer. My husband bought plans on eBay to build our own, and I can’t wait until it becomes a reality. So when I found this adorable Mickey and Minnie Go Camping figurine, I knew I had to have it. I normally spend my Christmas money on more practical things, but I splurged and bought this little cutie to sit on my desk.

Department 56 Mickey and Minnie Go Camping

I just love the little details on the teardrop trailer from the Mickey ears on the side to the Mickey and Minnie on the galley door.

Department 56 Mickey and Minnie Go Camping

How cute is it that Mickey and Minnie are sitting on a log enjoying a thermos of hot cocoa?

I know the Mickey and Minnie Go Camping figurine is supposed to be part of the Mickey’s Christmas village, but I think I am going to leave him on my desk year round and dream of when I have my own teardrop trailer to enjoy.

Protect Your Clothes With New Dry Sprays from Dove, Degree, and Axe

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post.  I received a gift card and deodorant samples to try.  However, all opinions stated are my own.

New Dove, Degree, and Axe Dry Spray Antiperspirants dry instantly and last up to 48 hours.

Picture this…You are getting ready for your company holiday party.  You took the time to get your makeup and hair just right and you have the perfect black dress to wear.  You are getting ready to walk out the door, you look down at your sides and notice that your deodorant has left nasty streaks on your pretty new dress that took you hours of shopping to find.  Immediately you have to scramble to try to clean the stains off  your dress, or find something else to wear.  Has that situation ever happened to you?  I don’t even want to admit how many times something similar to this has happened to me!

Fortunately this holiday season, your little black dress has nothing to fear.  Dove, Degree, and Axe have all introduced new Dry Spray Antiperspirant that won’t leave any visible residue on your skin or your clothing.  I love that!   I can’t tell you how many times my ordinary stick deodorant has left white residue on my darker-colored clothing. I would either have to scrub at it with a wet wash cloth, or change all-together.   So a deodorant that won’t leave any residue on my clothing makes me excited!

Here’s more information on these innovation new deodorant Dry Sprays:

Axe® Dry Spray for men

  • Goes on instantly dry for a cleaner feel.
  • Provides 48 hour odor and wetness protection.
  • Designed to help guys feel confidently fresh, providing a high-voltage blend of premium fragrance notes.

Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant for woman

  • All the care of Dove in a surprising new Dry Spray.
  • Provides 48 hour odor and wetness protection.
  • Contains Dove’s signature 1/4 moisturizing cream which leaves underarms soft and smooth.
  • Is residue-free so it won’t leave white streaks on your darker clothing.

Dove Men+Care Dry Spray Antiperspirant

  • Goes on instantly dry for a cleaner, fresher feel.
  • Has a non-irritating formula that contains Dove’s Men+Care Signature Moisturizing Cream.
  • Provides 48 hour odor and wetness protection.

Degree Dry Spray Antiperspirant for men and women

  • Includes Motionsense technology designed to respond directly to your body movement – the more you move, the more it protects.

I recently received samples of the new Dove, Degree, and Axe® Dry Sprays so my family could give them a try.  I have always preferred aerosol deodorant, but didn’t like how I would have to fan my underarms to dry it before I could put on any clothes.  That is no longer a problem with these new Dry Sprays.  They all go on instantly dry so you can dress immediately.  No more waiting or fanning!  My husband, son, and I all have been using these Dry Spray Antiperspirants for a couple of weeks now and we have all been impressed.

New Dove, Degree, and Axe Dry Spray Antiperspirants dry instantly and last up to 48 hours.

My son immediately confiscated the Axe Dry Spray.  He really liked the scent.  One thing I liked about the Axe Antiperspirant was that there is no cap to lose.  You twist it and the nozzle pops up.  You twist it back and the nozzle retreats.  That may be a small thing, but our family has a bit of a problem with losing caps to health and beauty products. So it’s a feature that I definitely like about this brand.

New Dove, Degree, and Axe Dry Spray Antiperspirants dry instantly and last up to 48 hours.

My husband has tried both the Men’s Degree and the Dove Men+Care Dry Sprays.  He reported that both worked worked equally well.  He has problems at times with deodorants being irritating to his skin (usually gel-types), but was pleased that he didn’t have that problem with either of these Dry Spray varieties.

New Dove, Degree, and Axe Dry Spray Antiperspirants dry instantly and last up to 48 hours.

As for me, I felt both the Dove and Degree Dry Sprays for women worked really well.  I kept expecting my underarms to be wet after application but they truly weren’t.  It felt like I was just spraying air. Both varieties had nice pleasant scents.  The Dove was a bit of a lighter fragrance, while the Degree was a bit more of a floral scent.   And it bears repeating that they truly leave no residue on your skin and clothes.  I even tested it by spraying it on the inside of one of my shirts.  You couldn’t even tell I sprayed anything there!  Love that!

I really like that the Dove Dry Spray helps moisturize your skin.  I even used the Dove after I had recently shaved and had no problem with irritation at all.   I am definitely going to be looking for Dove and Degree Dry Sprays at the store the next time I need deodorant.

Want to learn more about these innovative new anti-perspirant sprays?  Be sure to check out or and be on the lookout for the new Dove, Degree, and Axe® Dry Sprays in the deodorant and antiperspirant aisle at your local Meijer store.  So tell me…  Will you be trying these new Dry Spray Antiperspirants when you see them in a store near you?  What feature do you like best?

5 Ways to Encourage Kids to Give Back This Holiday Season ~ Salvation Army #RedKettleReason #sponsored #MC

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Influence Central for The Salvation Army. I will receive a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Are your children all about their wish list this Christmas? Check out these 5 ways to encourage your children to give back this holiday season. #givingback #RedKettleReason #sponsored #MC

This time of the year, kids are all about the gifts.  It seems with every toy commercial they see on tv, my children’s Christmas wish list gets longer and longer.   While Christmas can be a magical time for a child, I want them to learn that there is also joy in giving to others.  Each holiday season, I encourage my kids to come up with ways that we can give a little something to those less fortunate.  If you are looking for ways to help your children think of others this holiday season, here are 5 simple ways you and your family can give something back to those in need.

Donate to a local food pantry.

Help your child go through your pantry for canned and boxed goods and take the donations to your local food pantry.  Use this as an opportunity to teach your child that not everyone has enough food to eat.  Ask your child to help think of other ways your family could help people who don’t have enough food to eat.

Help out your local homeless or battered women shelter.

A few years ago, my oldest daughter’s Girl Scout troop did a service project where they babysat for children of parents from the local Red Cross Emergency Shelter.  These were families who had lost their homes to the tornado that hit a nearby town.  The girls played with the children and watched them for a few hours while the parents had a few hours to deal with insurance and paperwork, look for an apartment, and get their lives back in order.  Your local shelter may offer a similar opportunity for your family to volunteer.

In addition, shelters are always looking for donations.  Call your local shelter and see what they can use.  Then help gather up donations as a family.  Use this as an opportunity to teach your child that not everyone has a roof over their heads and encourage them to think of other ways that your family can help those who are homeless.

 Make handmade Christmas cards to brighten someone’s day.

Pull out your craft supplies and help your kids make Christmas cards.  Then you can distribute these cards to local nursing home residents.  You would be amazed at how many nursing home residents there are who don’t get visitors regularly.  You could also send the cards to our military troops who are serving overseas and won’t be home with their families for the holidays.  Use this as an opportunity to teach your child that not everyone is able to have family all around them for the holidays and encourage them to think of other ways that they can brighten the day of someone who may be lonely over the holidays.

Look for ways to help in your own neighborhood.

There are many people right within your own neighborhood who could use a helping hand this holiday season.  As a family make a list of people in your neighborhood who are going through a hard time and the ways you could help.  Here are some ideas to get you started.  Shovel the snow off the driveway of an elderly couple.  Make a meal for a family who has been struggling with illness.  Offer to babysit for a few hours for a single mom in your neighborhood.  Use this as an opportunity to teach your child that we all go through hard times in life and it is a blessing to be able to help someone out in their time of need.

Donate through your local Salvation Red Kettle campaign.

Have your child go through their clothes, books, movies, and toys and pull out anything that they have outgrown or no longer want.  Take it to a consignment or secondhand shop that pays cash on the spot.  Let your child drop the proceeds in a Salvation Red Kettle.  Use this as an opportunity to teach your child about how the Salvation Army helps those in need in your community and around the country.  Encourage your child to think of other ways they might be able to come up with money to donate to the Salvation Army.  For example, they could donate a percentage of their allowance or they could do extra chores to earn money to put in the Red Kettle.

Are your children all about their wish list this Christmas? Check out these 5 ways to encourage your children to give back this holiday season. #givingback #RedKettleReason #sponsored #MC

Many years ago, my pastor was giving a sermon and told us about how the Salvation Army got started.  One thing that really impressed me was that the founder, William Booth, started the Salvation Army to help others help themselves.   The Salvation Army has been helping people in need worldwide for nearly 150 years.

The Salvation Army helps the less fortunate in many ways- providing meals to the needy, giving the homeless a place to sleep, providing disaster relief, helping substance abusers get rehabilitation, and much more.   What you donate in your local Red Kettle remains in your own community to provide assistance to those who need it most.

Ever since I learned of the origins of the Salvation Army, I have made it a point to drop a few coins in the Salvation Army Red Kettle any time I pass one.  Now that my kids are older, they have adopted this practice as well.  It’s not always a lot – maybe a few coins each time, but if everyone does that, it really can add up over the course of the holiday season.

Will you and your children be making a donation in one of the Salvation Army’s Red Kettles this holiday season?  If so, the Salvation Army wants you to share the reason behind your giving.  I encourage you to post on your favorite social media channels sharing your reasons for donating to the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign using the the hashtag #RedKettleReason.  Donors can view their posts and those of others all across the country at  It’s truly inspirational to see how many others are giving this holiday season and to read the reasons behind their donations.

So tell me… How do you encourage your children to give back during the holiday season?  Be sure to share your thoughts and ideas by leaving a comment below.  I hope you and your family are having a blessed holiday season!