Cooking With Heart – Preorder Now

Updated July 9, 2018.

It’s time to preorder your copy of COOKING WITH HEART: Recipes, Inspiration, and Art from the Determined to Shine community.

We’re putting the finishing touches on our community cookbook! It will be full of nearly 300 recipes from DTS students from all around the world. There’s something for everyone in here – whether you’re a meat lover or a vegan, a bread-lover or gluten-free, there are so many things for all to enjoy. Plus you’ll also find recipes for non-edible treats like essential oil blends and bath salts. AND you’ll find tons of kitchen-inspired art journaling tips and tricks. PLUS full-color art from community members!

order your cookbook

The cookbook is available as a preorder ONLY. We won’t be ordering extra copies, so get yours today. We are still in the proofreading process. Books will be shipped in about 90 days.

Each cookbook costs $12. I was hoping to keep the cost under $15, and I’m so glad we were able to do that! Shipping is available worldwide. I apologize for the higher rates to other nations. International shipping rates have increased in the USA. We are charging actual rates and for some countries, the rate we are charging is lower than the actual rate and Determined to Shine is making up the difference for you.

There is no limit to the number of copies you may order. Order your cookbook now:

We’re also offering an ebook option! This is great for those who don’t want to pay shipping or who simply prefer using an ereader. eBooks also need to be preordered as it will pay for the ebook production fees. You will be receive a PDF copy via email when the cookbooks are received. Your purchase is for ONE ebook only – if you wish to “gift” an ebook, you will need to purchase an additional ebook for that person. We ask that you do not share the file outside of your immediate household out of respect for Determined to Shine and all contributors. eBooks are $10. Order your ebook here.

Contribute recipes

Recipes will still be accepted until July 16, 2018. This deadline will not be extended.

To enter your recipes, visit Log in using username “determinedtoshine” and password “recipes”

You can also submit recipes by emailing them to with the subject line “Cookbook Recipe Submission.” If you email a photo or scan of your recipes, please make sure that all text is visible and legible. Please also make sure to include your first and last name as you’d like it to appear in the cookbook.

Contribute artwork

Artwork is still being accepted until July 16, 2018. This deadline will not be extended.

We’ll be using artwork from Determined to Shine students and community members on the cookbook cover, as well as the dividers and possibly other interior pages of the cookbook.

Art can be any theme or medium, but it must be 100% owned and created by you. If you are submitting a collage, please make sure that you own the copyright to all included images (or that you have permission from the copyright owner). ALL SKILL LEVELS ARE WELCOME AND ENCOURAGED TO PARTICIPATE.

To submit your art, email a photo to with the subject line “Cookbook Art Submission.”

Surprise! Announcing 30 MORE Days of Art Journaling!


You have all been asking for this for more than a year, so I’m excited to announce that starting February 1, I will be bringing you 30 MORE Days of Art Journaling – the sequel!

This will work just like the original class, with some added bonuses:

  • Daily email with an introspective prompt and a page sample from me
  • All 30 prompts archived in online classroom for you to access at any time
  • Video tutorials for some prompts throughout the class (at least four – plus one more video added for every 50 people registered before December 4!)


The original 30 Days of Art Journaling class was (and always will be) free of charge. I’ve spoken with lots of you, who have valued the class at more than $500. While I won’t be able to offer the new sequel class for free, I am still wanting to give you a great deal! So this class will be available for just $2 a day – $60!

But when you sign up this weekend, you can enroll for 50% of that – just $1 each day for 30 MORE Days of Art Journaling! Hooray!

Plus, when you sign up by December 4, you have the chance to win one of three prizes – some awesome stamps sets and a year’s subscription to Cloth Paper Scissors magazine are up for grabs!

I am beyond excited to be bringing this to you!


Personalized Handmade Journals: Black Friday Day Three

Our final Determined to Shine Black Friday offer is here!

By HUGE demand, I have decided to offer customized, handmade junk journals for a VERY limited time. Here are the details:

  • 6″x9″ disc-bound junk journal with plastic protective covers (size does not include discs)
  • Journals are approximately 1.5″- 2″ thick
  • All pages/inserts chosen for YOU based on YOUR favorite colors, designs, and brands
  • Survey for personalization options will be emailed within 48 hours of purchase.
  • Journals will be shipped by December 18, in time for holiday delivery within the United States.(If you need holiday delivery and are in Canada, this can be arranged. Please contact me after placing your order.)
  • $60 + $5 shipping. USA and Canada only.
  • Limited quantity available.

Here’s our Fall Retreat sneak peek video where you can see another journals and learn more about how they are customized (info about the journals starts around the 1:25 mark.)

Here’s a walkthrough of my personal journal, with a few embellished pages:

Order your journal now – LIMITED SUPPLY AVAILABLE. This is a great holiday gift for you or someone you love!

Unleash Your Joy Virtual Retreat: Black Friday Sale Day One

Okay, so Black Friday is a week away. But I’m home with the stomach flu, so I decided to start the party early! I’ll have a few consecutive days of deals – all of which are BRAND NEW offerings!

We’re kicking things off in style with the first-ever Determined to Shine Virtual Retreat!

January 13, 2018
10am-5pm US Central Time (will be recorded – you do NOT need to attend live in order to participate)
Held via Zoom videoconferencing

Our virtual retreat will be a mini version of our fall live retreat, Unleash Your Joy! Here’s what to expect:

  • Discover 17 specific, practical ways to increase the joy in your life.
  • Live online retreat focused on unleashing your joy – we’ll talk about what kills our joy, how to conquer those things, and how to lift ourselves out of bad moods in minutes
  • Use art journaling, guided imagery, and creative techniques to dive deep into discovering your joy, manifesting your dreams, and finding your life purpose.
  • Start a Negativity DetoxTM
  • A full day of live interaction via Zoom videoconferencing – the chance to ask questions, share with others, and participate in a real community. You can join via video or audio-only.
  • The retreat day will include time for both learning and creating together in real time!
  • Pre-retreat video workshop to help you create your own Book Of Joy Art Journal to use during the live retreat
  • Downloadable workbook featuring 17 specific joy-boosting techniques
  • Retreat is recorded and you will have lifetime access to those recordings if you cannot attend live or want to revisit the event at a later time

Retreat price: $119
Black Friday Sale Price: $69 (SAVE $50!)

**Every Black Friday deal is a brand new offering. More details and video announcements will follow. However, the Black Friday price is the BEST price that will be offered, and it’s your reward for taking the plunge and diving into an exciting new offering!**

Inspired by Angels: A Holiday Art Journal Project Using Coloring Book Pages

It’s December, and the holiday season has officially arrived. For me, this means I can officially pull out my holiday coloring books. (Because yes, I love adult coloring books so much that I have ones devoted just to the holidays.)

One of my favorites is the Jim Shore Angels Coloring Book, featuring folk art angel images for each holiday, as well as several year-round and religious images.


I spent some time coloring in this beautiful holiday angel using Copic Sketch markers. (Colors used: E000, E00, E02, E55, Y26, Y32, YR23, YG17, C2, B12, B14, B91, R35) I didn’t color the background or border as I knew I wanted to use the angel image in my art journal.

To create the background of the page, I used a gelli print I’d created earlier. Gelli prints make great art journal backgrounds, and I love having them on hand. (You can learn how to make your own by checking out my Inspired by Autumn blog post.)  I cut out the angel image so I could add it to the background.


I cut the gelli print to fit my favorite disc-bound art journal, and punched the edges so it would fit inside. I adhered the angel to the background. To finish it off, I grabbed a tube of metallic gold Heidi Swapp Texture Paste.

I wanted to add a metallic sheen to the page. Using my fingertip, I rubbed a thin layer of texture paste around the edges of the page. Texture paste has a strong, thick consistency, so it’s important to make sure you add a smooth, thin layer.


To finish it off, I added just the smallest touch of paste to the tips of the angel’s wings. Then I let it dry, and I added it to my art journal.


I love how this page turned out. I often like to add words to my pages, but in this case, I really felt that less was more. You’ll notice the page is curling up a bit, which is from the gelli print process. The page will flatten out over time inside my journal, so I’m not worried about it at all.

Originally, I wasn’t sure how I felt about adding a Christmas angel to my art journal that’s focused on self-discovery. But in the end, it was perfect. While I was working on the coloring, I was able to reflect on my faith and my thoughts about angels among us. Adding the gold brought it to life, and I love the idea that this holiday angel will be keeping an eye on me all year long.


Enjoy this project? Check out my new online class, Coloring Made Meaningful. You’ll discover how to turn your coloring books into inspirational projects for yourself and others. Step-by-step instructions and videos make creating easy. Take this class for lots of easy holiday gift ideas, including step! Or purchase a gift certificate and gift this class to someone you love – along with a coloring book, of course!


This post is part of the Pinterest Party 2016 Winter Blog Hop. The Pinterest Party is a group that helps people grow their Pinterest following. Find other posts in this blog hop below:

1. Steampunkary – Steampunk Christmas Ornaments & Decorations Gift Guide
2. Grammie Knows How – Winter Essentials for Safety on the Road
3. Determined to Shine – Inspired by Angels: A Holiday Art Journal Project Using Coloring Book Pages (you are here)

Coming soon:

Note: Some product links on this page are affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you purchase products through these links. Your purchase supports the continued availability of Determined to Shine’s free and paid classes.


Crazy BeYOUtiful

There’s been a lot going on in my world. The blog may have been a bit quiet over this past month or so, but my world most definitely has not. I launched 30 Days of Art Journaling, my new free email-based class, and I don’t think I’ve taken a minute off since! More about that in the days and weeks to come.


In the meantime, I’d like to share the latest episode of Amy Kunkle’s Crazy BeYOUtiful podcast. I had the chance to be a guest on Amy’s show. We talked about my story, the power of creativity to heal, and why I started Determined to Shine.

You’ll also hear a lot about 30 Days of Art Journaling and how women around the world are coming together to share in this creative journey.

Listen in:

You can learn more about the interview on Amy’s site, and there are also some listener-only bonuses for you to enjoy.

So much more to come. 🙂

A Letter to My Four-Years-Ago Self: What I Want You to Know About What Lies Ahead

I wasn’t planning to post today, but I’ve had one of those days where I feel kind of blah and discouraged and tired. And when those feelings hit, one of two things usually happens: I nap, or I write.


This is the last photo of me from “before,” blissfully unaware of what’s going to happen in just two days. Two days, four years ago. The anniversary of Dan’s death has come and gone. Every year, it’s a little bit different. This year, I just kept thinking of the days and weeks immediately after. After the funeral, after my mother went back home to Illinois, after I went back to work. When I was just trying to survive but had no idea how I could possibly be okay.

I saw an article online recently where young widows were asked what they’d want to tell themselves at the one-year mark. For me, it goes back further. I have some words for that one-week-after-he-died woman, and I hope they bring her some peace today.

Dear Allyson,

Right now I know you are drowning. You are lost. You cannot fathom what it will be like to live this life without him. You haven’t moved his shoes away from the front door where he left them. You keep thinking of things you need to tell him – important things and silly things and little things – all the things you’d only share with him. The truth, as you already know, is that you’re not going to be able to talk to him again. But you will, in time, be okay.

Last week at the visitation, several people told you that everything would be fine because “you’re young and you’ll find love again and can still be a mom.” You stood there in stunned disbelief. How could someone say that to you when a casket was just a few feet away from where you stood? Four years from now, you will indeed find love again, and it will be strong and powerful and real. Make no mistake, however – this does not mean everything will be fine. All of this is still going to hurt, and if anyone tries to make you feel bad about that, you can just tell them to take a walk. They have no idea what this journey is like. But you will, in time, be okay.

I know you’re going to have to take a pregnancy test tomorrow, and you don’t know what you want it to say. You’d been hoping for a child for SO long, but this wasn’t the way you imagined it. I know that the idea of being pregnant right now and being a single parent is terrifying. Take some deep breaths and trust God on this one. The test will be negative. Four years from now, you still won’t quite know how you feel about this. In all likelihood, you aren’t going to be a parent. I know that seems unfathomable, and you’ll even think about adopting as soon as a month or two from now. But there is a different path ahead for you, and when you get there, you’ll know it’s the right path to take. The loss of the child you never got to have with him is still going to hurt. But you will, in time, be okay.

You still cry every night and wonder if it’s going to stop. It’s going to take about six months, but you will finally have a night where you don’t cry. Once you realize that’s happened, you’ll cry again. Your tears heal. Let them fall. I know it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. But you will, in time, be okay.

You wonder what Dan’s death means for your relationship with his family. His family is YOUR family, now and always. Please trust that. You are all grieving, and it’s impossibly hard for all of you right now. There are going to be some times during your grief in which you say things to each other that you don’t mean. In time, you’ll learn that everyone has been hurting, and that you’re stronger together than you are apart. Four years from now, you’ll be chatting with his sister constantly, and you’ll bicker with your father-in-law about Donald Trump. It will almost feel just like it was – perhaps even stronger, somehow. It’s going to be rough in the middle. But you will, in time, be okay.

In about a week, you’re going to find shotgun ammunition in his bedside table drawer. This is going to wreck you. You’ll be able to take the shotgun shells to the police station. You will never be okay with guns again. Four years later, this will still haunt you and this will still hurt. When there are mass shootings and political debates about firearms, it’s going to hurt and bring up many things you won’t want to deal with. Brace yourself, because the next four years are going to be filled with more of these tragedies than you can fathom – starting in just about three weeks in Aurora, Colorado. Do yourself a favor now and in the future. Just turn off the television and don’t engage on Facebook. You do have a valuable perspective. But trying to share it with people who have no interest in hearing it is going to hurt more than it’s going to help. I wish I could provide more comfort to you on this issue. So far, it hasn’t improved – and in many ways, it gets worse. You will start to heal from losing Dan. I don’t yet know if you’re going to heal from finding him. But I have to trust that somehow you will, in time, be okay.

Hold on tight, sweet girl. The road ahead is rough. It will make the other hard things you’ve dealt with in your life look like a walk in the park. You’ll clean up your house in Iowa, paint new rooms, and make it start to feel like a place you can feel at home in once again – only to turn around and decide you need to leave. Moving will be hard. You’ll move away from Iowa not yet knowing where you’re going to live. You’ll have to do a job interview on your wedding anniversary. You will spend those first few weeks in a new state alone wondering if you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life. You haven’t. You will, in time, be okay.

Before I go, there are just a few logistical things I’d like to address:

  • Stop letting Gracie eat cheese with you when you’re sad. She’s already overweight, and it’s going to get worse. It’ll take four years for her to get back to a reasonable weight – in fact, she’ll get to a healthy Beagle weight for the first time ever. When she does, she’ll be more energetic than she has been in years – which is a great thing and an exhausting thing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • Just hire Todd now to take care of the lawn. You’ll try. You’ll have to run down the street to get someone to help you start the motor. It will be ridiculously hard for you. You’ll hate it and cry a lot. Save yourself the trouble and let Todd take care of it. He’ll do a great job, and you’ll get to sit on the porch drinking lemonade. It’s a much better deal, I promise.
  • It’s okay if you want to indulge yourself right now. Some VIP seats to see Taylor Swift are going to come up for sale in a few months. Go ahead and splurge. It’ll be the best concert you’ve ever attended.
  • You do not have as much time as you think you do to pack boxes and load them into the POD for the moving truck. Start early or you’ll have to spend three nights in a row sleeping for just two hours, and you’ll be cleaning out a garage at 1 a.m. in tears because it’s still not over. Be thankful, though, for your next door neighbors. They’ve been there for you in 100 ways so far, and they will be there for you right up to the last minute. Those 17 trash bags on your driveway you have no idea what to do with? They’ve got it handled. But really, it would be much easier for you if you just got started on time.

My heart breaks for you right now, and tears run down my cheeks as I write these words. The pain you’re going through is unbearable and unfathomable. And to make it worse, for a while you’re going to try to keep it to yourself. I know that you don’t want people to have to know how bad it is. But they love you. They can handle it, because they know what you don’t know quite yet. That you will, in time, be okay.

Love yourself and trust your gut. It won’t let you down. After all, I’m living proof. Because even though it still hurts like hell and I weep right now as I write to you, I think that maybe, just maybe, I might be okay after all.

…And We’re Back!

Welcome to the all-new Determined to Shine! Many of you have been waiting for our new site for more than a year, and I’m proud to announce that the dream is becoming the reality. As requested, all of the posts from the old blog have been transferred over to this new site. I hope you enjoy our new site design.

I’m also excited to announce that Be Your Own Inspiration, the very first online class offering from Determined to Shine, will be open for registration on June 15.

If you’re new here, I recommend reading my original introductory post, Time for the Truth. Even though it’s three years old, my story and my vision for Determined to Shine remain very much the same.

So much more coming soon. Stay tuned. 🙂

Press pause.

I had a fun post planned for you today. But as I was finishing up the edits this afternoon, I heard the news from Boston.

Explosions. 2 fatalities. Many injured. Blood on the sidewalk.

And at least at the moment, no one knows how. Or why.

So stop for a moment. And if you’re the praying sort of person, take a second to lift up the husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers who are hurt.  Those who are the family and friends of the ones no longer with us. Those who are still trying to find out if their loved ones are okay.

At the end of the day, very few things really matter. Love. Kindness. Joy. Hope. Life can change in one horrible blink of an eye. Let’s not miss the time we have.

So please quit worrying about whatever it was that was on your to-do list. Hug your spouse. Call your mom. Tell that special someone how you really feel. No more waiting. No more excuses.

And even if just for a moment, please take the time to hold those people in Boston in your heart today. Trust me – they’re going to need it.

Love big, people. Love big.