Valentine’s 2012

These are the girl’s Valentine’s that she’ll be passing out next week. Valentine’s Day is next week right? Pretty sure that’s right.

Anyway, I wanted to share it with you because I thought it was a fun idea.

I went onto to look at maybe doing a fun picture of the girl for her valentines this year. Everything I looked at seemed a little young. I mean, she is in the 4th grade now. She’s ALL grown up.

Then, I ended up in the label section. Hmmm… I thought. We could just get labels and stick them on candy. It’s the candy the kids want anyway. The cute little cards just end up in the trash.

So, I ordered some labels and bought some fun size candy bars.

And, valentines are already done.

Well, they’re almost done. The girl has to finish sticking the labels on.

I even picked up some of the giant chocolate bars that were on sale last week (or was it this week… it’s a blur) at Kroger. She’s going to give these to her teachers. Teachers need A LOT of chocolate. Trust me on this one.

This whole label thing made Valentine’s Day SO EASY this year. (I know all my Pinterest friends are rolling their eyes right now. But, I just don’t have time to be cute and crafty!)

And, you don’t have to order labels. You could easily make some labels using a word processing program and print them at home. How easy would it be for your five your old to stick a label on something rather than writing his name twenty times. (Been there, done that.)

What are you doing for your kids’ valentines this year?

My awesome friend, Jessica, did a little Tiny Prints research. She discovered that you can get stuff this weekend if you use the Rush Delivery. And, she found a code SR995 that will give you $5 off. So, thanks Jessica! BTW – I’m not being paid by Tiny Prints. I just like their stuff.

Linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Works For Me Wednesday: Freezing Sauce

My Katie taught me many things before she went to be with Jesus. She taught me about love and compassion and faith and friendship. All amazing things. However, right before she passed she taught me an awesome practical thing.

She taught me how to freeze spaghetti sauce.

Now, with as much batch/freezer cooking as I do, you know I’ve frozen spaghetti sauce before. I would pour it into Ziploc baggies using my purple cup method, struggle to get it out to the garage freezer and then hope to find a flat place to put the baggies so they would freeze somewhat uniform.

It NEVER occurred to me to create a flat place for them. Um, DUH!

So, the day that I was over at Katie’s house when she had just finished a batch of spaghetti sauce and asked me to freeze it for her was eye opening! She walked me through how she did it, and I had to pull out my camera/phone to take pictures.

She was brilliant!

Put a cookie sheet in the freezer, lay all the bags on top, and they freeze nice and flat.

Then, once they’re frozen, you can shelve them like books in a plastic container or basket in the freezer.

Total brilliance.

I made a triple batch of Katie’s sauce this weekend for her family’s freezer. Guess how I froze it for them?

Linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Summer is Here!! Packing for Camp

We took the Princess to camp yesterday. I am still struggling with that. I haven’t known what she’s doing for over twenty-four hours. This is SERIOUSLY killing me. Yes, I’m used to being in control. Like, seriously used to being in control.

I had to have a bit of control. So, I packed her as well as I could to make the trip as easy as possible for her.

I learned several years ago that it is easier for the Princess to be independent if I set her up to succeed. That means making it easy for to get dressed each morning.

What makes choosing an outfit as easy as pie? Ziplocs!!!!

We all know I have a love for Ziplocs. Love them!

I pack each of the Princess’s daily outfits in a Ziploc.

Then, I squeeze all the air out of the the bags and line them nice and straight in a duffle.

I added an extra Ziploc with spare panties and socks. I put in her jammies and swimsuits. I added her bag of toiletries and a pouch with her Bible, journal, flashlight and pens. She was all packed and ready to go.

The best part was that the duffle bag fit nicely on the shelf the Princess was provided at camp. She can live right out of the duffle…

And have a blast a camp.

Linked to Works for Me Wednesday because packing in Ziplocs works for me!

Works for Me Wednesday: Freschetta Pizza

Life is slightly INSANE at the House of Hills. Just slightly. We just moved. My company’s big conference, the Orange Conference, starts today. My sweetie hurt his back again. Ya, it’s insane.

So, the other night I cheated. I did. We had frozen pizza for dinner. We did. At the House of Hills. I made frozen pizza. Shocking for those that know me. I don’t do that often. I mean if I’m going to have pizza, I’m going to get some amazing takeout.

The cool thing is. The frozen pizza we had… it was AMAZING, and didn’t taste frozen at all. Freschetta was kind enough to send my family some coupons so we could try their new Freschetta By The Slice and Freschetta Simply…Inspired. Oh. My. Word. SO VERY GOOD!

The coolest thing was Freschetta By The Slice. That’s what I made for the Princess. We were able to give her cheese pizza while we enjoyed the more complex flavors of the Simply…Inspired. is available in BBQ Recipe Chicken, Vegetable Medley, Six Cheese Medley, and Chicken, Spinach & Mushroom. It was so very tasty.

Freschetta wants you to try some too! They do! They want to send you a coupon to try it. And, they’re going to give you a fabulous three piece storage set as well. Whoop!

So, to participate in this fun giveaway, let me know which of the Freschetta By The Slice Pizza’s you would try with your coupon. Tell me quick because this giveaway ends Saturday at noon!!!!

Since Freschetta Pizza works for me (and my currently insane life), I’ve linked up to Works For Me Wednesday.

Disclosure: Freschetta Pizza provided me with coupons for free pizza as well as a complimentary story set. As always, ALL opinions are my own.

Works For Me Wednesday: Sleeping in the Closet

The Princess has been having some serious trouble with the time change. She likes it to be PITCH DARK when she goes to bed. Ya, that is hard to achieve when you’re in bed by 7:30 during Daylight Savings Time.

We have used a sleep mask. We have made sure all blinds were closed and curtains drawn. We have done everything we could think of to help her out. She’s not fighting going to bed. She’s truly struggling with how light it is. The other night was overly difficult. She had a lot on her mind with our move and everything else going on and was just REALLY STRUGGLING to go to sleep. She suggested putting her head in her closet. We almost tried that. Then, I remembered that the walk in closet in the master bedroom gets AMAZINGLY DARK on one side.

So, we gathered ALL her sleeping paraphernalia (and there is a good deal of it), her sleeping bag and pillows and moved her into the closet.

It worked for her… and me.

We haven’t had to do it again, but she’s only got 3 more nights with access to that closet. I’m not sure she’ll fit in the closet at the new house.

Linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Works For Me Wednesday: The Gift Card Box

Life is often hectic here at the House of Hills. I always think it’s going to slow down and then nope, it doesn’t. I have therefore resorted to gift cards for kids’ birthday parties.

Yep, I said it. I’m THAT mom that brings just a card for the birthday princess¬† (or prince) to open. You are secretly clicking your tongue at me aren’t you? I know you are.

I’ve actually gotten SO LAZY about birthday party presents that I now keep a box/basket with generic “Happy Birthday” cards and assorted $10 gift cards in it. I do! It’s true! As we are preparing to go to the party, we pull out the box, choose a birthday card, and choose a gift card to go in it. No last minute trip to the store. No gift wrap to buy. No ribbons and tissue.

See, now you’re jealous. Now you’re thinking it might be a good idea.

Yep, the Gift Card Box works for me. In fact, I’m making one for my Katie’s widower. Then, he doesn’t have to think worry about kids’ birthday party presents either!¬† He thinks I’m brilliant by the way.

Do you do the Gift Card Box? Or, do you have the gift closet? How do you manage all the kids’ birthday parties you are asked to attend.

Linked to Works for Me Wednesday. You’ll want to pop over there. Kristen has a giveaway today!

Works for Me Wednesday: Edible Arrangements

I’m allergic to fresh flowers. If there is a fresh flower arrangement in the middle of the table, by the end of the meal, I’ve got a runny nose and my eyes hurt. It’s annoying. Truly.

When the Princess was born, people who didn’t know that about me sent me flowers…at the hospital…in that tiny room. Ya, that’s not so good. Whomever happened to be visiting at the time of the flowers arrival got to go home with a nice bouquet. The flowers couldn’t stay!

When my friend Katie passed away a few weeks ago, I got flowers from the #sisterchicks. However, they know me…well apparently. They sent me an Edible Arrangement. Have you seen these?

They are beautiful! And, you can eat them! All the fruit was fresh. The chocolate was high quality. There truly is NOTHING better than a chocolate covered strawberry. NOTHING. We at the House of Hills loved our arrangement.

So, if you want to send flowers and the person is allergic to them, send them some edible ones. They worked for me.

Let me just add a special THANK YOU to the #sisterchicks for reaching out to me during my grief. It meant more than you will ever know.

Disclosure: I was not paid for this post in any way. This is just my little opinion here.

Linked to Works For Me Wednesday.

Works for Me Wednesday: Sledding without a Sled

In case you haven’t heard, there has been just a bit (like half a foot!) of snow here in the ATL. And people, it ain’t going nowhere! As in, we are all snowed in, which isn’t a bad thing really. The first snow day we had a TON of fun sliding down the hill on the golf course, so we headed out there for a second day.

The problem was, the nice neighbors who had lent us their awesome sleds weren’t out, so we had to use our own stuff. I have an great sled with runners from back in the day, but this snow wasn’t good for that type of sled. We needed something slick that distributed the Princess’s weight evenly so it would go fast.

So, we tried….

A swim ring.

A boogie board from our last beach trip.

A pool boat for toddlers.

The verdict – the pool boat worked the best, especially when weight was distributed across the sides and no booty was in the boat. Then, another neighbor came out with his two girls, a can of silicone spray and two trash can lids. We shared our pool floats, and he shared his silicone spray, and they got some good speed going down the hill.

Sledding without a sled… it works for me… and it works for her too…

Linked to Works For Me Wednesday at We Are That Family.

Works For Me Wednesday: The Post of the Year

Kristen over at We Are That Family had the great idea for this last WFMW of the year. She challenged us to link up the one post we wrote this year that we really want people to read. I was struggling. I knew what post I wanted to share, but the reason I wanted to share was as important as the post itself. Then, I saw that Jill over at Diaper Diaries republished a post (and a mighty good one I might add) from earlier in the year with context around it. PERFECT! So, I’m totally stealing her idea.

The post below TOTALLY CHANGED MY LIFE. I think it lengthened it too. I cried when I wrote this post. I really did. It might have been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Truly. However, I am SO THANKFUL that I wrote it.

This post was originally published on February 26th.

This is a big one for me. HUGE!! I’m publicly announcing that I need to lose some weight. Now, anyone who has seen me, seen a picture of me, or even talked about me in the last… ummm… 30 years knows this. That’s not to say that I’ve been this weight for the last 30 years (that would be extremely frightening). However, since my parents’ divorce when I was eight, food has been my solace. And, no I’m not blaming you mom. It’s just a fact. Third grade I was relatively normal. Fourth grade I was chubby. There you go.

There have been two times since I was eight that I have been what would be considered a normal or close to normal weight. My senior year in high school when I survived on Diet Coke and NoDoze (remember NoDoze?). I can remember a time when I only took cat naps for three days straight because I had two AP papers due, was rehearsing for a play, and had drill team practice every day to get ready for homecoming. No, my mom didn’t know about that (I was sneaky) and NO, it wasn’t healthy. So, even though I was thinner then, I wasn’t exactly healthy.

The second time I was thinner, I did “Quick Weight Loss.” It worked, I lost it quick!! And then had to have my gall bladder removed. People, you can’t go from mega grams of fat per day to 0 grams of fat per day overnight and expect your body to have no problem with it!! I also couldn’t eat chicken for a year (literally – no lie – a year) after that because I ate so much chicken while on it. The amount of protein they want you to eat is insane! And, I don’t like fish – not helpful.

I’ve done Weight Watchers – TOTALLY WORKS – when you stick to it. I’ve tried other things too. Here’s what I think is my biggest problem. I have NEVER been happy when I’m thinner. NEVER. Both the times when I was almost normal – not happy at ALL. For a multitude of reasons that may or may not have had to do with how I looked. So, I’d rather be chubby and happy than thin and not happy. Seems logical to me.

However, now I’m realizing how UNHEALTHY I am. And, I think I’ve actually passed the chubby point. I’m now in the obese category. The clothes I wear MUST have a W at the end of the size to fit my hips. I’m really tired by the end of the day. And, I’m worried that I someday soon won’t be able to keep up with my family. Here’s the other thing. I have Crohn’s disease. It’s not a fun disease to have as it messes with your digestive system. It’s very sensitive to different types of foods (which actually vary by person). When I eat crap, my body is NOT happy with me – to the point of pain.

So, after consuming an entire sleeve of Thin Mints and several pieces of pizza tonight, I went to my Google Reader to see how my bloggy friends (well, I think they’re friends – they may or may not know me) were doing. MANY of those I read are doing the LOSING IT! challenge. It was humbling to see how these women are sharing their stories with the blog world, and they are all really trying to lose that weight!! They’re not trying to lose weight to look better – not one of them said that. They are all trying to lose weight to be healthier. To be better moms. To be better wives. To be able to stick around longer with their families and actually keep up with the kids.

It was VERY convicting to me. It was as if God said “Um, you see them doing it don’t you. They’re moms with real lives just like you. They don’t have personal trainers. You can do it too.” God talks to me like my best friend sometimes. So, here I am (almost in tears actually) telling you (whoever you are that reads this here blog) that I’m going to commit to doing the LOSING IT! challenge for the next nine weeks.

Here are my goals:

1. 8 glasses of water a day (and ONLY water to drink)

2. One sweet treat a day (I know myself. If I go cold turkey, it’s worse.)

3. Nothing deep fried (I live in the south, this is hard)

4. Exercise of some kind 4 out of 7 days (OK – this is HUGE. I NEVER exercise.)

Okay, I’m about to press “Publish,” and then this will be out there. I’m SO nervous. But, I know I’m really being led to do it, and He’s never led me wrong before.

If you want to know more about the LOSING IT! challenge go here. Do it with me! I’d love to cheer you on!!

I didn’t win the challenge, but I came in second. I’ve lost 28 pounds since the day I pushed publish on that post, and most importantly I’ve kept them off for several months. As we go into the new year, I plan on refocusing myself and losing another 28 at least.

So, this was my post of the year. A huge shout out and THANK YOU to the original Losing It Ladies and to those who continue to link up here each Friday. You have truly changed my life.

Works For Me Wednesday: OCC Box

You heard me talk about my Operation Christmas Child birthday party over and over again last month. We had such an AWESOME time that we are already planning to do it again. That’s right! Mark your calendars for next November 12th. We’re gonna party again. This time we WILL make at least 100 boxes! (We only made it to 89 this year.)

Since I KNOW I will be filing many many boxes next year, I’m already working on collecting things. I’m cutting out coupons for toothbrushes and toothpaste that I know I won’t use and watching for sales so I can get them for free. I’m watching the sales at Walmart to see when I can get clothes for almost nothing. (I got some cute shirts today for $3 each.) I’m snagging those Happy Meal toys that never got opened and putting them to the side. I’m collecting all the samples I can find that are able to go in the boxes. (Remember, no liquids.)

In order to keep all these things in one place, I started the OCC Box. Right now it is literally sitting in our living room. I’ve been tossing things into it as I find them. It looks rather empty now (although there are some things in the car I haven’t gotten into the box yet), but I’m pretty sure that by next November, it will be full.

My OCC box works for me!

If you weren’t able to make a box for Operation Christmas Child, you can still build one online. Go here and fill a box so that a special child can have a very merry Christmas.

Also, my bloggy friend over at is in the running for the best video in the Operation Christmas Child contest. Go here to vote for her video! Do it today as the deadline is approaching!

Linked to Works for Me Wednesday.