Pi Day That Became Pie Week

Pi Day was last week. Everybody knows Pi Day right? The day of the year that starts 3.14. That one.

Someone got really smart several years ago and named it that so we could all eat PIE on that day. I think that person is brilliant. I love pie.

My office decided to celebrate Pi Day by having Pie Week. Everyone was invited to bring in items to share. The only real rule was that they had to be round in some way. It was an awesome week of feasting for sure!

Because I love to bake (#HOHBakes on Instagram), I decided I’d do a different pie every day. This also gave me an opportunity to investigate new recipes for Thanksgiving. Because Thanksgiving = pie.

On day one, I went with the standard PUMPKIN PIE. But, I made two of them because nothing is better than a pumpkin pie than two pumpkin pies.

Pumpkin Pie - House of Hills

I’ve been using the same Pumpkin Pie recipe for YEARS and it’s basically the Libby one that is found on their website. You can see it here. The IMPORTANT thing about Pumpkin Pie is that you make it AT LEAST ONE DAY BEFORE you want to eat it. I actually recommend two days. That gives the flavors time to meld and become even more yummy.

On day two, I made a family favorite, SHOO FLY PIE. When I brought this one in, my coworkers from the North were very excited, but those who grew up here in the South were speculative. They’d never heard of it, and it had the word “fly” in it for goodness sakes.

Shoo Fly Pie - House of Hills

Now, I will admit that I’ve never made a Shoo Fly Pie that looks as good as those of my Pennsylvania Dutch extended family, but that’s never stopped anyone from eating it. Shoo Fly Pie is basically a molasses pie, and IT IS GOOD! I can’t give you the recipe (’cause it’s my Grandma’s), but if you do a web search for “Shoo Fly Pie” you’ll find a plethora of recipes.

For day three, I went to Pinterest to find something new to me. I decided to make Brownie Pie, and was very happy with my choice. So were my office mates. This one went fast.

Brownie Pie - House of Hills

This recipe was SUPER EASY and very yummy. It was even better with some whipped cream on top. I’m pretty sure it’s going to show up at Thanksgiving this next year.

On the final day of Pie Week, I decided to go big. I went for Smore’s Pie. This one hit it out of the park! OH. MY. WORD.

Smores Pie - House of Hills

People, this pie has FIVE ENTIRE HERSHEY BARS in it. The recipe called for eight Hershey bars. I couldn’t bring myself to put in that many. I might put in at least one more next time though. I highly recommend this recipe. It wasn’t hard, but wasn’t as easy as the Brownie Pie.

Not to be outdone by all my co-workers that were bringing in savory forms of “pie” during the week, I decided to bring in a Taco Ring one day.

Taco Ring - House of Hills

If you’ve never had a Taco Ring, you’re missing out on a quick, tasty dinner. It was a classic for Pampered Chef parties when I was a consultant YEARS ago, but sadly has gone out of style. Everyone at the office enjoyed it, and this recipe might be a great addition to your dinner rotation.

Did you celebrate Pi Day? What did you have?

Posted in Cooking, Fun, Recipe | Tagged | 1 Comment

Going on a Disney Cruise Again!

We’re about to set sail on the Disney Wonder for the second time and couldn’t be more excited! We sailed on the Wonder way back in the fall of 2010! It was actually our first cruise so we have MANY fond memories of the boat.

I’m telling you… there is nothing better than seeing this sign…

Disney Cruise - Port Canaveral Sign

And then going over the bridge and seeing this out of the corner of your eye. (Don’t worry. I saw it out of the corner of my eye because I was driving. Maggie was madly taking pictures every time she saw a glance of the ship.)

Disney Cruise - Disney Dream in Port Canaveral

Then, you finally get into the port and you can see the ship. Right there in front of you. It’s the ship! It’s the ship! The real bouncing in the seat happens at this point – even when you’re a cruise veteran.

Disney Cruise - Disney Dream in Port Canaveral 2

You get the car parked in the parking deck. You jump out and run to the railing and look at your home for the next few days. And, you’re just GIDDY with excitement. (Really, giddy is the best word. Overcome with joy works too.)

Disney Cruise - Disney Dream Port Canaveral

This just kinda sums up all the feels.

Disney Cruise - The joy

We can’t wait to have all those feels again in just a few short weeks!!

This time, we’re actually sailing out of Miami, but I’m sure the experience will be similar to the last time we were on the Dream (thus the pictures) out of Port Canaveral. We’re excited to try a different port and are going to be documenting our journey to share with all of you. Maggie has visions of a House of Hills YouTube channel dancing in her head.

Because we’re going back on a small ship that we haven’t been on in awhile, we’ll be experience some things as if they’re all new again.

For those of you that have been on the Wonder recently, what’s one thing we shouldn’t miss?

And, for those of you that haven’t sailed the Wonder (or any Disney ship), what would you like us to investigate and report back on? 

We can’t wait to enjoy FIVE NIGHTS on the Disney Wonder together as a family. Disney Cruises truly are our favorite form of vacation! Happy Spring Break to us!

Posted in Disney, Family | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Choose Joy : A Book Review

Five  years ago (I can hardly believe it’s been that long.), I went to a “little” blogging conference called Blissdom, where I shared a room with three strangers who became friends.

One of those amazing ladies, my very good friend, Mary, has written a book.
And, I was honored to receive an advanced copy. Isn’t it beautiful?!

Choose Joy Book

Before receiving the book and being part of it’s launch team, I knew a bit about it’s co-author Sara. I knew she and Mary had been blogging friends. And, I knew that Sara had passed away in the fall of 2011, just a few months after I had lost my Katie.

I remember reading some of Sara’s posts in that grief-induced fog that surrounded me in 2011.
I remember how inspired I was that she was determined to “Choose Joy” no matter the circumstance.
I remember that I couldn’t really imagine that at the time.

So, when I heard through the grapevine that is social media that Mary was pulling together a collection of Sara’s posts and putting them into book form, I couldn’t wait to read it… until I got the book.

Then, I was afraid. 

I knew that reading this book was going to pick at the scabs that are always tender around the wound losing Katie left.
I knew that with the fifth anniversary of her passing rushing towards me like a freight train, reading about someone else’s struggling with illness was going to be hard.
I knew it was going to hurt. And, I would cry. And, there would be snot. (Just being real here.)

Then, I received this for Christmas from a loving friend and co-worker who knew nothing of my reading the book plight.


And, I laughed. With joy.

And I read.
And I cried.
And there was the need for many tissues.

And, I healed… just a little bit. 

There are SO MANY things I could share from this amazing book that my friend put together to honor an amazing woman and make sure that her message of JOY is never lost. And, I hope to share them all with you over time. (I mean, I think I used half a package of Post-It flags on this thing.) However, this is my favorite.

“When asked how she defined joy, Sara said, ‘Joy is the unwavering trust that God knows what He’s doing and has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of it—not despite what’s happening in my life, but because of it. When everything earthly feels heavy, He gives me the internal lightness that can’t be touched.'”

Throughout the book, we hear again and again through Sara’s words that JOY=TRUST. When we trust God, we will find the joy. When we choose to let go of our fear and give it to Him, we CHOOSE JOY. 

As I read, I was reminded of how much I hold on to my fear. I plot and plan and prepare. I try to control the future. I try to predict what “might” happen. I don’t always let go. And, I for sure don’t always choose joy.

I’m praying that as I move into 2016, that I can “stop praying for what I want and start praying for Him to change my heart for what He wants. I pray that I can be aware of His opportunities. It requires me to trust Him completely.” It requires me to CHOOSE JOY.

I’m so thankful I was given this book to read, and I’m even more thankful for the two women who poured their souls into making it happen.

As of today, January 5, 2016, you can get your copy of Choose Joy, Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts. Go ahead and grab one for your girlfriend too. You’re going to want to read it together. Oh, and make sure you have some tissues. You’ll need them.


I was given a copy of Choose Joy to read for this book review. All opinions are my own. All links are affiliate links.
Posted in Blogging, Review | 1 Comment

I’m Going On A New Adventure…Filled With Pixie Dust

If you didn’t see the news on my Facebook, I made a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT last night.

Like HUGE!

Disney Travel Agent Kathy Hill

I’ve become a Disney Travel Agent! 

I’m with an awesome agency full of people I already adore called Travelmation LLC. They’re all dedicated to helping people plan the BEST DISNEY VACATION EVER!!

If you know the House of Hills, you know that we LOVE Disney, and we are constantly helping people plan their trips. So, becoming a Disney Travel Agent makes all kinds of sense!

The best part is that I can help you plan your trip at NO COST TO YOU! That might be my favorite part. I get all the fun of helping you plan your vacation, and Disney pays me to do it. Win-Win for everyone!

So, pop on over to Facebook to “like” my Travelmation page to keep up with all the latest Disney news. And, be sure to shoot me an email when you’re ready to book your trip!

I’m so EXCITED!!!!


Travelmation Logo - high res.

Posted in Disney | 2 Comments

Book Review: The Selection Series

A guest post from Maggie…

A lot of times, as a bookworm anyway, you’ll get asked by a friend what series they should read next. Well this series is SO STINKIN’ GOOD I thought I should share it with all of you.

The series is called The Selection.
It is made up of three books, all the same story but spread out into thirds.
The first book is called The Selection.
The second is The Elite.
The third is The One.

The story follows a 17-year-old girl named America Singer in a dystopian future. The United States has been given a new name, Illea, a monarchy, and a system of castes. These castes separate the people and what jobs they can have. Caste 1 is royalty while caste 8 is basically considered dirt. America is in the fifth caste, musicians. America is soon entered into the monarchy’s nationwide version of the bachelor, and all against her will.

To find out what happens you’ll need to read it yourself, I don’t want to spoil anything!

Just to let you parents know, this series has some adult themes when it comes to romance. There is also some violence, very complex violence. That’s a weird phrase…

Have a Beautiful Day!

Maggie may be the youngest in the House of Hills, but she is the one with the most joy. You can find her YouTube channel here

Links are affiliate links.
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HOHServe: The School Girl Project Via Mercy House

For those that have been around the House of Hills for several years, you know that I have a big heart for Mercy House. In fact, we’ve been supporters of  Mercy House since I discovered them back in 2010.


Well, Kristin has brought another need to my attention via her blog, We Are That Family. It seems that teenage girls in Africa are skipping school. They’re not skipping because they don’t want to go. They’re skipping because of their monthly cycle. They just don’t have the supplies they need to take care of business and so hide in their homes once a month.

Now, I have a teenage girl, and I can say that I see her wanting to hide in the house for a multitude of reasons in the future. (I mean, I remember wanting to hide in my house as a teenage girl. Don’t you?) However, I can say with some confidence that her cycle isn’t going to keep her at home. And, it shouldn’t keep these young girls in Africa home either.

Kristin has given us a VERY EASY way to help with this problem. And, she explains it quite well in her post over at We Are That Family. However, let me break it down for you.

You can mail: 
1. A check made out to “Mercy House” with “School Girl Project” in the memo line.
2. Sanitary Pads (all brands and sizes)  – please note that these girls don’t even have clean drinking water so while there are washable options available on the market, disposable is the way to meet the need right now.

If you want to mail sanitary pads, I did a little Amazon research for you. Both these options are Prime available. (affiliate links)



Mail your check or sanitary pads to:

Mercy House

8000 Research Forest Dr. Set 115-110

Spring, TX 77382

Deadline: Sept 26, 2015

Thank you for considering helping girls across the world so that they can continue to go to school. Nobody wants to miss the opportunity for an education.

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No First Day of School Picture… Yet

It’s the first day of school for our county, but there is no first day of school picture for Maggie. That won’t happen until Monday, and it will look very different.

After much prayer, discussion, seeking of wise counsel, meetings, coffee dates, conversations, tears, “what-ifs” and more, the House of Hills has decided to homeschool.

This year.
Eighth grade.


The HOH Academy is born. (Yes, Maggie created the logo.)

Now, as you pick up the coffee cup you’ve just dropped on the floor, let me try to answer all the questions.

What are you doing? How are you doing it? Aren’t you working?

  • Yes, I am still working full-time. I am blessed to have an office super close to the house and flexible hours. We see it working the way my summer hours do. I get stuff done in the early hours before anyone arises. In fact, I can get more done between 5am and 7am then I can in four hours at the actual office. (Can I get an amen?) I will go into the office for part of the day. She’s totally capable of taking care of this herself. I’m just facilitating.
  • We will be doing our county’s online education system. We are so blessed to live in a county where they actually have all the classes (even the advanced ones) available for her to do online. She’s still considered a student of the county. Her teachers just communicate with her via the county’s online system rather then in an actual classroom. We’re not confident on how it completely works as everything pretty much just went live yesterday. And, we’re obviously still learning. For those that live in our county, think of it as “snow days.” All the assignments go up on the system with deadlines. My understanding is that she’ll have her work given to her on a weekly basis by Sunday night and have to turn it in by Friday night. I’ve already seen some of what she has to accomplish for next week, and it looks pretty cool.
  • Yes, I know there are TONS of different homeschooling models that she would love. Believe me, I’ve researched. We think this is best for the HOH because it gives her the flexibility she’s craving but allows her to slide back into the public school setting with ease when she’s ready.

AKA: Did something happen? Is everything okay? You swore you never would homeschool – so what is up? 

  • Maggie begged us for over a year. Seriously. She has been asking since the sixth grade to homeschooled. It might even have started in the fifth grade. She finally made enough great arguments that we started to listen. She’s willing to take on the responsibility for it and is excited for the independence.
  • Maggie is not wired to sit in a desk all day. I honestly don’t think any kid is, but for my little kinesthetic learner, it’s almost painful. Ironically, the first few weeks of middle school, she took a quiz in study skills class to determine what type of learning she was, and she was off the charts kinesthetic. I could have told you that without a test. I’ve known that since she was little. The middle school learning environment is not set up for kinesthetic learners. It’s just not. Yes, there is movement between classes, but when the actual learning is going on (which is when she needs to move), they are to sit and face the board or teacher. She even had one teacher that fussed at her for doodling. Kinesthetic learners have to move. The only “safe” way to move in that environment is to doodle. It actually helps them learn to be moving something. (Please note that not only am I a mom of a child with a different learning style than my own – so I’ve researched it – I also have an education degree and they taught us this stuff.) By being at home, Maggie will be allowed to move all she wants. And, I’m pretty sure as much learning will be done standing at the kitchen counter where she can bounce around on her feet as will be done at her new desk.
  • Maggie discovered how much wasted time there is at school. My girl may not have my learning style, but she is similar to me in some ways. She and I share the “can we just get this done and move on to the next thing” ideal when doing something we know we have to do. She has other things she would like to do with her time, but knows the education part is necessary. By pulling her out of a brick and mortar school, we anticipate shortening her school day by several hours. This will allow for more time to practice what she really loves and wants to spend her life doing – singing, dancing, acting. We’ve already moved several lessons to during the day, and because we won’t have to rush around after school (which ends SO LATE), are looking into different opportunities. When your daughter tells you she feels like God has made her to do a certain thing, you want to help her attain that goal.
  • There are health issues to consider. Maggie was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome last year. She’s not shy about it, so I can share. It has changed our lives here at the HOH. She is on a restricted diet, and that’s easier to do at home. She missed over thirty days of school last year for illness. That’s a lot. There are just some days that she needs to have easier access to the restroom and good toilet paper. (I have Crohn’s Disease, and she has IBS. Good toilet paper is very important to the HOH.) She can still learn on those days. She just needs to feel comfortable in her surroundings. Home is much more comfortable.

What about her socialization?

  • Have you met her? Have you met me? We like people. She’s got plenty of friends and plenty of activities. We’ve had conversations about having to work harder at friendships now, and she’s listened. Given the amount of texting that was going on last night with people swapping first day of school outfits, I think we’re okay right now.
  • Being home during the day means she can babysit during the day. Maggie is looking forward to adding the role of babysitter to her life. We have a few friends that are thinking of using her during the day for different things, and she’s going to be actively seeking more employment. That’s a whole different kind of socialization.
  • Are kids today ever really disconnected from one another? There are some upsides to modern technology. She won’t be isolated as long as nobody is grounded from their smart phone. In addition, from what I understand, there will be group discussions via her online classes. She may even make some new friends that are in the county.

So, that’s why there’s not first day of school picture today. But, there will be one on Monday, because that’s when her school starts.

We’re going into this year with open hands and allowing God to lead us where He wants us. This is where we feel He wants us to be right now. It could change next year, next semester, next week. We don’t know. But, today, this is what we’re doing.

Maggie gets two more days of summer.

Posted in Family, HOHAcademy | 6 Comments

Attempting a Family Selfie at Woodlands Camp

We picked Maggie up at Woodlands Camp this morning. Before we left, I wanted to get a family selfie so I could Instagram that we were back together. The family selfie taker of the group is David, because his arms are the longest – obviously.

Here is how it progressed…

HOH Woodlands Camp 1

YAY! A good family pick with the lake in the background.

HOH Woodlands Camp 2

Maggie makes a crazy face as David zooms in a little.

HOH Woodlands Camp 3

Yay! Another one of everyone smiling, but my husband has cropped out all his hair.

HOH Woodlands Camp 4

My husband seems to be disappearing.

HOH Woodlands Camp 5

And, Maggie makes another face.

HOH Woodlands Camp 6

We all make crazy faces.

HOH Woodlands Camp 7

I’m laughing. Maggie is looking bored. David is still in crazy face mode.

HOH Woodlands Camp 8

I’m now cracking up just waiting to see what happens next.

HOH Woodlands Camp 9

I love them.

Sometimes it’s the littlest things that bring the biggest smiles. So glad to have the girl home again. Although, I did enjoy five straight date nights.



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21 Day Fix : Day 15

Today was weigh in day number two for the 21 Day Fix. Remember, when I weighed in after week one, I’d lost FOUR POUNDS. I was so excited. I was very sure I wouldn’t lose another four pounds, but I was hoping I’d at least lost a little bit. I was pleased to see I was down another TWO POUNDS when I got on the scales this morning. That’s SIX POUNDS in two weeks. Oh my wow! So awesome.

This is what I ate on Day 15.

Meal 1: 1 Red  1 Yellow  
2 Eggs
Sandwich Thin

21 Day Fix Day 15 Meal 1


Meal 4: 1 Blue 1 Red 2 Yellow 1 Orange 2 Green 3 Tsp
Chips (Yes, I admit to eating the chips. Not many, but I did eat some.)

21 Day Fix Day 15 Meal 2


Meal 3: 1 Red 1 Purple 1 Yellow
Skinny Pop

21 Day Fix Day 15 Meal 3


Meal 4: 1 Red
Deviled Eggs

Yes, I know there is all kinds of other stuff in there. We’re just ignoring that for a minute. Bad me. Bad me.

21 Day Fix Day 15 Meal 4


Meal 5: 1 Red 2 Green 1 Purple .5 Yellow  2 Tsp
1 Scoop Shakeology
1 Cup Berries
1 Cup Almond Milk
1 Cup Spinach
1 Cup Kale
2 Tsp peanut butter powder

21 Day Fix Day 15 meal 5


Totals for the day:
4 Green (short 1 )
2 Purple (short 1)
4.5 Red (under .5)
4.5  Yellow (over .5)
1 Blue
1 Orange 
5 Tsp

Workout: Gym Time

21 Day Fix Day 15 Elliptical and Bike



  • I cannot each just one chip at a Mexican restaurant. Nope, can’t do it.
  • I truly have a weakness for my deviled eggs.

The 21 Day Fix Series (June 2015)

Posted in Family, HOHGetsFit | Leave a comment

21 Day Fix : Day 14

Day 14 of the 21 Day Fix. I can’t believe two weeks are done already! Tomorrow is weigh in day two. I don’t expect to do as well as last week, but I’m hopeful for some more change.

Meal 1: 1 Red    
1 Scoop Shakeology

21 Day Fix Day 14 Meal 1


Meal 2: 1 Red 1 Purple
Greek Yogurt

This has become my go to snack for at church. I serve at the first service and then attend the 2nd. So, I enjoy this in between. I just throw it in a cooler bag to keep it cool. I will confess that Maggie usually steals some of my strawberries. They’re her favorite.

21 Day Fix Day 14 Meal 2


Meal 3: 1 Red
I ate a chicken leg fresh off the Big Green Egg when I got home. Could not even help myself. I love when the hubby smokes meat.

No Picture. :(

Meal 4: 1 Red 2 Green 1 Purple .5 Yellow  2 Tsp
1 Scoop Shakeology
1 Cup Berries
1 Cup Almond Milk
1 Cup Spinach
1 Cup Kale
2 Tsp peanut butter powder

21 Day Fix Day 14 Meal 3


Meal 5:  1 Yellow
Skinny Pop

21 Day Fix Day 10 Meal 4


Meal 6: 3 Red 1 Purple 1 Yellow 1 Green 1 Blue 1 Orange 1 Brownie
Turkey Burger
Whole Wheat Bun
Multiple Deviled Eggs

Our small group had a cookout with all the families. It was a BLAST! And, there was lots of amazing food. However, most of the food was pretty good for you. Oh, we had some chips and such, but there was plenty for us 21 Day Fix folks to eat. There were two of us there. Unfortunately, I made deviled eggs and brownies – two of my all time favorite recipes that I make. (No, I don’t have the brownie recipe posted. Maggie has decided it’s a family secret.) So, I did a little indulging there. Weigh in day is tomorrow. Oops.

21 Day Fix Day 14 Meal 6



Totals for the day:
3 Green (short 2 )
3 Purple 
6 Red (over at least 1)
3.5  Yellow (short .5)
1 Blue
1 Orange 
5 Tsp
1 Brownie

Workout: Gym Time – Elliptical and Bike
I really do enjoy working out in the gym. I feel like it uses totally different muscles than the videos. And, there is no pressure on my knees. That I really like.

21 Day Fix Day 15 Elliptical and Bike


  • Don’t make my brownies and then be around them. They are like a siren’s call.
  • It’s more fun when you’re working out and doing a weight loss challenge with a friend. You can then rely on each other when times get tough.

The 21 Day Fix Series (June 2015)

Posted in Family, HOHGetsFit | Leave a comment