Christmas Letter 2011

Merry Christmas from the House of Hills!!!

The biggest news of 2011 was our move into our new home! Last Christmas, we were living in our temporary home (thanks F’s). This year we are celebrating in our little cottage and LOVING it. We’ve got a great neighborhood, excellent schools, and shorter commutes. It doesn’t get any better than that!

This is a picture of our courtyard before we moved in. We loved watching the build process and seeing it become our home. It’s a great house for entertaining (read that as it has an awesome kitchen) so come by any time!

Our Maggie is now a fourth grader. This is VERY hard for Mommy to take as that would be a grade she used teach, and those are “big kids.” The girl becomes more independent daily. (Unless of course she’s sick or tired and then can be found in Mommy’s lap.) Somehow I ended up being room mom this year, but it’s been fun and enjoyable to be back in the classroom some without all the paperwork.

This is the first day of school. She’s already gotten “older” than this. It’s crazy.

In addition to excelling at school, Maggie has become involved in musical theater. This summer she took a week long camp at Off Broadway Dance and played Thomas O’Malley in the “Aristocats.”

She decided she LOVED singing and dancing and being the villain, and was cast as Jasper in “101 Dalmatians.”

She auditioned for an made the company’s competition troupe and is now in rehearsals for “Mulan” in which she is mainly ensemble and has a few lines as a Hun. The troupe has performed several times this fall in preparation for the competition in February at Disney.

David and I continue to keep busy. David is still working at North Point Community Church as the North Point Store Operations Director (and, yes, I just had to ask what his title is). I am still the Editor-in-Chief of the First Look curriculum for Orange. I’m not sure what that title means, but I keep busy and curriculum gets loaded each month! We also started a new small group in March, and have so enjoyed the new relationships. We are both enjoying living closer to our church friends and have entertained quite a bit in our new home.

Here we are at my Christmas party. That man of mine… always making me laugh. We celebrated 13 years of marital bliss this December. So blessed.

We lost my best friend Katie this year. After years of fighting, the cancer finally won. I was with her until the end and honored to give the eulogy at her celebration service. (You can read it on the March 4th entry in her Caring Bridge Journal if you like.) While I (and MANY others) continue to struggle with missing her, we are learning to celebrate her time with us and figuring out how to live without her. We as a family are very involved with her kids and husband. I am so thankful that our move also brought us closer to their home. The silver lining in the pain are the amazing friendships that have formed in our mourning.

My Katie was an awesome lady whose ten years of friendship I will ALWAYS cherish.

We went to Disney TWICE this year! I was lucky enough to go to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in March. It was AMAZING! We surprised Maggie with that trip via a video David and I made. Watching her reaction was almost as fun as the trip. The March trip was so much fun and just what our family needed at that time. We felt so blessed to be able to go.

Then, I surprised both David and Maggie with a three day trip in November on our way to the beach for the Thanksgiving.

There is NOTHING more amazing than Disney decorated for the holidays. It’s so beautiful. We had a great time, and it was so cool to be able to surprise them both.

Throughout the year, we’ve enjoyed multiple gatherings with friends and family. Maggie’s cousins continue to play an important role in her life, and she enjoys getting together with them often.

These are the cousins from David’s side where Maggie is the youngest (by 8 weeks).

These are the cousins from my side (minus the youngest) where Maggie is the oldest (by 8 weeks). Maggie is especially close to E who is the only other girl in the gaggle of crazy on my side. They stick together on the annual Thanksgiving trip to the beach and at family gatherings at my mom’s.

That’s pretty much all that’s been going on in the House of Hills this year. If you’re stopping by because of our Christmas card, know that I post on this blog all year long. It’s the easiest way to keep up with us!

We wish for all our family and friends (and my amazing readers) a Christmas full of peace, joy, and love.

Recipe : Hot Cocoa Mix

I was making another batch of Hot Cocoa Mix today and realized that I have NEVER given all of you the recipe! What? A travesty of utmost proportions. I shall now remedy that.

What you need:

  • Nesquick (21.8 oz)
  • Lite Non-Dairy Creamer (22 oz)
  • Nonfat Dry Mix (what would make 9 quarts of milk) – I get the 10 pouch pack and use 9 of them.


Pour all of that into a BIG mixing bowl and stir. This is a great activity for little people once they’ve learned not to flip things out of the bowl. The girl usually does this part for me now. Actually, she can do the whole thing.



Then, pour it into whatever airtight container you would like to store it. I keep ours in a big glass jar on the counter. Yummy!

To use, fill your cup 1/3 full of mix and the rest with hot water. All the dry milk and creamer make it taste like you’ve been stirring warm milk on the stove. Oh so good!

This is also a perfect (and easy) gift for the holidays. Put some in a baggie and put it a cute mug. Or, layer it in a small jar with some marshmallows. I’ve given it to people every year.


Do you make your own Hot Cocoa Mix or do you buy it at the store?



OAMM Holiday eCookbook Sale

I am SO excited to tell you about this AWESOME sale that Tricia over at Once A Month Mom is having today! You’re going to want to jump on this one and the earlier the better!!

Once a Month Mom Holiday 2010 eCookbook

Tricia’s very first eBook, Once a Month Mom Holiday 2010 eCookbook, that she wrote for the holidays last year is going on sale starting at 9:30 AM THIS MORNING. As copies are sold, the price will increase, so click on over now.

Starting at 9:30 AM Eastern Standard Time Zone:

  • 100 copies will be available for  $1.00
  • 200 copies will be available for  $2.00 (Code: OAMMTWO)
  • 300 copies will be available for  $3.00 (Code: 300OAMM)
  • 400 copies will be available for  $4.00
  • 500 copies will be available for  $5.00
  • 600 copies will be available for  $6.00
  • 700 copies will be available for  $7.00

Coupon codes will be available on an ongoing basis over at Once A Month Mom’s Facebook Fan Page. I’ll try to keep up and keep this post updated as well.

This eCookbook is actually the first eBook I ever purchased, and I LOVE it. There are awesome recipes, but the BEST part of the eBook are the planning pages. Shopping lists and instructions for preparing and freezing key components to your holiday meals. Then, on the big day, you just thaw, heat and enjoy! Whoop!

So jump on over and check out Once a Month Mom Holiday 2010 eCookbook. You’ll want to snag your copy now.

Disclosure: Links are affiliate links, but opinions are as always my own.

Leftover Turkey

Did one of these come out of your oven yesterday? One came out of mine. It smelled so good that we couldn’t wait to eat it. So we didn’t. My sweetie and I just stood there and picked at it. There is nothing better than warm turkey right out of the oven…

We didn’t eat much. There were only two of us eating it as the poor Princess was under the weather and just wanted toast for dinner. That meant that I had this left over.

Oh my turkeyness! I was very excited. I put the majority of it in the fridge so we could eat on it this week. I made myself one of these…

And finally, I bagged some of it up. I always go ahead and chop and measure cooked chicken and turkey before putting it in the freezer. That way I know exactly how much to thaw when I want to use it.

Now, I just need to put recipes in the menu plans for the next few weeks that use chopped turkey. What’s awesome about turkey is that it can be used in just about any casserole that calls for chicken. In fact, I think it makes the casserole better when I use turkey instead of chicken. With that in mind, these are some of the recipes I’m considering using for my leftover turkey.

Cheesy Broccoli and Rice with Chicken (Turkey) :: I’ve made this for many people, and it is ALWAYS a hit. It freezes well and feeds a crowd.

Chicken (Turkey) and Noodles :: I made this last year for several new moms, and they RAVED about it. It’s a great meal for a cold day.

Chicken (Turkey) and Wild Rice Casserole :: I got this recipe from a friend YEARS ago and am realizing that I haven’t shared it with you yet. That will have to be rectified.

Turkey Cranberry Wreath :: I was a Pampered Chef representative many moons ago. This was one of my favorites to make in the fall.

Chicken (Turkey) Pot Pie :: You could use your favorite pot pie recipe or try this one. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve loved everything I’ve ever tried of Jessica’s is FABULOUS.

Broccoli and Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes :: SERIOUSLY considering adding turkey to this recipe. SERIOUSLY!

What are you doing with your leftover turkey?

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

from the House of Hills

We take a moment during the family celebrations and fun to remember whom we are celebrating.
We are celebrating a baby who came to save us all.
We are celebrating a child who changed the course of human history and became the most amazing gift we can ever receive.

Top Ten Tuesday: Christmas Letter 2010

Merry Christmas from the House of Hills!

I thought I’d do our Christmas letter Top Ten Tuesday style again this year.

Here’s a quick look at the year 2010 at the House of Hills


1. We SOLD our house in Woodstock! Yes, the House of Hills is no longer in Woodstock, GA. It is now in Cumming, GA. We’re actually in a temporary situation right now and are building a house that should be done some time in February. We are loving the short commutes. David is down to 20 minutes and I am down to 8 minutes. Whoop!

2. Maggie is in the 3rd grade. Yes, she’s in the third grade. I’m not sure how that happened. However, we’ve got a very grown up girl on our hands who continues to enjoy school and reading. She has joined the Science Olympiad team and always comes home from their meetings super excited about learning. She’s adjusting well to her new school and loves her teachers.

3. We finished our current Small Group. Just last night we had our last meeting with our small group. We had many AMAZING years with those couples and our Monday nights will never be the same without them. We are excited to meet some new couples and start a new group on our new side of town in January. So Cumming friends… we’re looking for some couples to hang out with us!

4. We had an AWESOME Operation Christmas Child party in November. We celebrated my birthday by packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child. It was SO MUCH FUN that we are already planning next year’s party.

5. I got seriously bloggy in the year 2010. If you’ve been hanging around the blog, you’ve noticed that I really stepped it up this year. In fact, I’m in the process of buying my own domain and doing this blog thing FOR REAL. I’m attending my first blogging conference in January. I’ll be heading Nashville for Blissdom with several of my local bloggy friends. It’s going to be AMAZING fun! I plan to learn LOTS!

6. Mags and I went to our first G Day Game. We had tons of fun with the Burson family and got to cheer for the Dawgs no matter who had the ball. It was a great time. We then were able to catch an actual game in the fall. GO DAWGS!

7. We went kayaking as a family for the first time! While in Edisto with Grandpa and Grandma Dot, the House of Hills ventured out on the water in kayaks. It was a true adventure! We had lots of fun even though the Mags didn’t make it in the water long. She got a little sea sick and asked to go back in pretty quickly. David and I shared a kayak and our marriage survived. We thought this was a true accomplishment!

8. We continue to be blessed as a family by where we work. David and I continue to be honored and humbled to do the work we do at our perspective jobs. We both work for amazing organizations who do so much to impact the world for Christ. We have lots of fun at work too. If you don’t believe me, check out this video of the North Point iBand. Then, check out this video of “Santa Went Down to Georgia” featuring one of my coworkers. Ya, we laugh a lot at our jobs.

9. We went on the Disney Cruise this year! We had an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING TIME on the Disney Cruise in September. We went to celebrate David’s 40th birthday (and Maggie’s 8th). We sailed out on a Sunday evening and returned on Thursday morning with perfect weather the entire time. We’ve already decided to go on another cruise and plan to take a 7 -day one this time for sure!

10. We made it to Magic Kingdom in November this year. We had planned to go to the parks after the cruise in September, but Maggie was hit by the flu while on the boat so we rescheduled for November. This year we went before Thanksgiving instead of after and LOVED it. The parks were empty (well, as empty as they get), and the Christmas decorations were already up! I highly recommend that week for enjoying the magic of Disney without the insanity of the crowds.

We wish you and yours a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and pray that the new year brings peace, love, and joy.


Top Ten Tuesday: Baking Day Recap

This Saturday was Baking Day! I had the entire day free, and I spent the whole thing in the kitchen. It was heavenly. **sigh** Now, all of that goodness is gone. Well, almost gone. I have one more delivery to make tomorrow. Here’s what I accomplished:

1. I filled 30 bags with muffins and treats for my volunteers and the Princess’ leaders at church.

2. I brought a tin of Cranberry Bread to share with my fellow “workers” on Sunday.

3. I took four tins of goodness to the office on Monday

4. I gave one big tin of goodness to our Church’s Family Ministry team to share at their meetings this week.

5. I sent one tin of goodness to work with My Sweetie

6. I have some muffins and bread to take to my friend Katie tomorrow.

7. I marinated two pork tenderloins for the freezer.

8. I cooked seven chicken breasts in the crock pot to shred and freeze.

9. I cooked two pork tenderloins for dinner using a favorite Paula Deen recipe.

10. I made a HUGE mess and ran the dishwasher three times.

I made a wide variety of baked goods this year. Some family favorites and some new to me recipes. I already plan on making more Pretzel treats for the Princess’ teachers since I ran out already. We’ll do those together this afternoon.

Have you done your Christmas Baking Day? What is your favorite treat to share with family and friends?

Linked to Top Ten Tuesday.

Snow Flurries in the ATL

We had snow flurries. That’s exciting!! Exciting enough to take pictures!! Exciting enough to share them with you!!

Catching flakes on her tongue outside church. She was jumping for joy at the flurries.


“Look Mama! Snow”


Look at all that snow at her feet. It’s almost a blizzard!
Yes, I’m being sarcastic.


Enough to make the gloves wet!

So, all my Yankee friends and relatives you can make fun of us here in the South now. However, I will say that a Southern child’s joy at even the fewest flakes is something to behold and a lot of fun to experience.

Just to get you in the Christmas cheer. Here’s a picture we took at church yesterday. My former neighbor Lare of Stuart Lawrence Designs decorates the church every year. He does an amazing job.

Quick Gifts from the Kitchen

I was asked a couple times at church today for quick gift ideas from the kitchen. So, I thought I’d round up the ones I have already talked about on the House of Hills and put them in one place for your convenience.


A note about this recipe: My cousin was just talking about these on Facebook and she uses candy wafers from the craft store instead of Hershey Kisses. Brilliant!! I say. No unwrapping!



All of these are quick to make, not too expensive, and easy to package. You can put large quantities in containers like those above. You can have your kids decorate white or brown lunch snacks with Christmas images and then put a baggie inside. OR, you can package your goodies individually like I did below.

What are some of your favorite holiday treats to give as gifts?