Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – A Review


I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast last night. It was a much anticipated event, and I was afraid the movie itself wouldn’t lead up to the hype. I shouldn’t have feared. Disney did it again.

Now, I would think as a production company, Disney would be slightly intimidated by taking an animated, well-loved classic and turning it into a movie full of real people (well except for the enchanted objects). And, the stress of getting just the right actor to play each role, especially when we have associated distinct voices with those characters for years, that had to be overwhelming. However, whomever was in that casting office did an INCREDIBLE job. Each voice and face worked harmoniously both with the character they played and as an ensemble. My favorite casting by far was Kevin Kline as Maurice. He brought a depth to that character we have not seen before that I really, really enjoyed.


Then, of course, there was the casting of Josh Gad as LeFou.

While I struggled a minute with Olaf singing in a tavern, I quickly admired the depth of character Josh brought to the role. We see a whole different side of LeFou in this version of the story that makes his character even more likable. And, it makes Gaston even more the villain. Now, I know there was much controversy before the release of the movie about the character of LeFou and his infatuation with Gaston. In my humble opinion, much was made from nothing. However, I’m not as eloquent with words as some of my blogging friends. If you want to read some excellent writing on the subject, visit my friend Amanda and/or Mary on their blogs. They’re the great writers, and I agree with them.

Several friends have already asked me if I think the movie is too scary for preschoolers. That’s an excellent question. First, let’s remember that this movie is NOT rated G. It’s rated PG, and that should be enough of a reason to not take the smallest princess lovers to the big theater to see it. I would say the scariest parts are the same ones that are scary in the animated version – the wolf attacks and the fight between Gaston and the Beast. Those wolves give me the creeps. Only you know what your child can handle. So be sure to think it through before taking smaller children who frighten easily. You might even want to see it first.

I REALLY enjoyed seeing this film and will be seeing it again in the theater. If you love this story, you will not be disappointed by this rendition. Here’s a little clip to get you ready.


So who else has seen it. What did you think?


I saw the movie with my own money and thoughts are all my own. Pictures and video are from the Walt Disney Company.


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.

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.

Product Review: HEX Performance Products

I was compensated for this post by HEX Performance. All opinions are my own.

If you’ve been reading the #HOHGETSFIT updates here on the blog or following the hashtag on Instagram, then you know I’ve been hitting the gym A LOT lately. And, when I go to they gym…. I sweat… A LOT. And, that means… my clothes stink…A LOT.

That’s why I was so excited to be contacted by the makers of HEX Performance products! They make laundry detergent especially for stinky, sweaty clothes. Like for real.

Well, actually they say it in nicer words.

HEX Performance has developed the first and only system designed specifically to clean and protect today’s performance gear and apparel.

See, told you they were pretty words.
They have three products in their HEX Performance line.



Ultra+ Dual Action Gear Wash
HEX Ultra+ Dual Action Gear Wash is the first and only product guaranteed to clean and protect today’s high performance gear.

That means all those nasty shin guards and pads and such. You can wash those with this stuff and not only will it get them clean, but it will protect them from future nastiness.



Power+ Laundry Detergent
The first high performance detergent with a long-lasting odor eliminating technology, all while staying gentle on fabric and skin. In addition, the detergent is naturally antistatic and restores fabric wickability. This eliminates the need for dryer sheets and fabric softeners, which saves you even more time and money.

Basically, it will take the stink out and keep it out. Whoop!



On Demand+ Spray and Go
It’s the perfect on-the-go solution for protecting and maintaining your gear and footwear. With all of the amazing benefits of HEX tech crammed into a spray that you can take anywhere, from your shoes to your yoga mat, you’ll never have to worry about odor again!

This is the stuff you throw in your gym bag so that you can spray your nasty shoes when you take them off at the gym. Or, you throw it in your sports gear bag so you can have it on hand when something needs a quick wipe-down at practice.


I was really excited to try the laundry detergent as some of my workout clothes and towels have been getting a little nasty. You can’t sweat in them day after day without a little buildup. Am I right?

I saved a big pile of nasty towels to wash to test the detergent.
I was VERY pleased with the results.
Everything came out smelling nice a clean, and I didn’t have to use any fabric softener – a bonus for sure.

I’m excited to have this new resource in the House of Hills.


Do you want to try HEX Performance Products?


If you want to get a free sample and coupon, ALL TARGET STORES IN COLORADO AND GEORGIA will be featuring HEX Performance Products tomorrow, May 16, 2015 from 11AM -4PM.

So, while you’re out running errands, be sure to stop by the kiosk and investigate further. You’ll be glad you did.

I got a new camera!

This summer was pretty exciting at the HOH because I got a new camera. I absolutely LOVE it. Like love, love, love it.

Now, I would not have made such an expensive purchase without it being on sale and having more than one person tell me it was a great deal and totally worth the purchase. So, when Leandrea from CouponsAreGreat.net said there was a quick deal going down over on Amazon I jumped on to check it out. My Facebook friends were quick to tell me that it was totally worth it, and this arrived in the mail several days later.

Camera Photo

Isn’t she beautiful? I thought so. I just checked Amazon and this model is no longer available (probably why it was on sale), but they have the newer model.

People, this camera has CHANGED my life. I’m having so much fun taking pictures and video. I had forgotten what it was like to have a real camera (not that I’d ever had one as nice as this). I was so used to getting by with my phone, that I didn’t know what I was missing. But, just look at the difference in the pictures!


Same kids. Same day. Same place. Pictures taken minutes apart. One with the camera so I could have a good shot and one with the phone real quick so I could Instagram it.

It’s amazing.

Do you have a “real” camera? What’s your favorite thing about it?

Disclaimer: Nobody asked me to talk about this camera. I just had to share the awesome. Links are affiliate links.

Book Review: The Tempus

So, my friend, Holly, wrote a book, The Tempus. I didn’t know she was writing a book. (Obviously, we’re not BFF’s or anything.) But, when I saw on her Facebook page that she had written a book, of course I wanted to support her. I purchased it immediately. And, it went from the Amazon box to my shelf.

I mean, let’s get real. I read for a living. So, when I read at home, it needs to be something that I know is going to be good, something that will take me somewhere, something that will help me escape.

The book sat on my shelf just waiting to be read. Then, I started to hear rumblings from others who had read it. “It’s really good. I can’t believe it’s her first novel.” was what I was told at every turn. Hmmmm… I thought. Maybe I should crack it open.

When Mags wanted to cuddle and read one night, I grabbed it and started reading. I got to chapter three, and put it down…quickly. Not because it wasn’t good. It was too good. I’d gotten only three chapters in (they’re not long), and my friend, Holly, had sucked me completely in…completely in. I knew if I went any farther I wasn’t putting it down that night, and I had work that needed to be done. So, it sat a few days more.

Then, I had several hours to spare (Well, not really spare. I carved them out for me.), and I let myself indulge in Holly’s book. And, it was an indulgence. I enjoyed every minute of it. EVERY MINUTE.

The character development was fabulous. I didn’t like them all, but I knew them all. The plot kept moving at a good pace. And, while it’s Young Adult Fiction, there wasn’t too much mushy stuff. Yes, there are guys and girls and they like each other, but there isn’t anything that would make me feel uncomfortable to let Mags read it. Oh, and there are bad guys and good guys, and good guys you think are bad guys, and bad guys you think are good guys, and all kinds of awesomeness at the end.

So, if you’re looking for a book to add to the spring and summer reading list, I’d consider this one. I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.

And, no, Mags hasn’t read it yet. I haven’t let her. I know her too well. She’s going to want the sequel immediately. And, it’s not out yet. I’m hoping for an early copy… might have to become better friends with Holly.

You know you want to go get it right now. You know you do.

Disclosure: Holly didn’t ask me to write about her book. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Yes, the links are affiliate links. 

Christmas Advent Ebook : Truth in the Tinsel

I am SO EXCITED to share this book with you today. My real and bloggy friend, Amanda, has created an AMAZING resource for you and your children. AMAZING I say.

Amanda has taken each day of December and made it a teaching opportunity for your child as well as a crafting opportunity. What an awesome way to spend the month celebrating the birth of our savior – quality time with our children reading scripture, discussing it and making it real for our littlest family members.

Here’s a few of my favorite things about this book:

  • There is a (short) scripture reading for each day. Each day you open the Bible with your child. Love that.
  • The crafts are EASY – mostly using things you have around the house. Meaning you don’t have to be super-mom in order to pull them off.
  • Amanda gives you the words to say in order to discuss the scripture with your children. What a gift.
  • There are multiple plans – as in you DON’T have to do a craft EVERY DAY if that overwhelms you. Just pick a plan and do several throughout the month.

This FABULOUS book will be available TOMORROW – BLACK FRIDAY at a reduced rate!

Do yourself a favor a pick up a copy!

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this ebook to preview. ALL opinions are my own.


Plan A Fabulous Party!

My amazing friend Mary from Giving Up on Perfect has a new ebook out today, and I’m so excited to share it with you today.

It’s called Plan a Fabulous Party (without losing your mind)! I LOVE her title.

How many of you have stressed over planning the absolute perfect party? Everything has to be just so. Mary frees us from that reminding us that it truly doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t. That just makes me sigh with relief.

I think the most amazing line of the entire book for me was “What is the PURPOSE of your event?” The purpose? I don’t think I’d ever thought about it that way.

But if the purpose is that we spend time with friends we haven’t seen in awhile, then I don’t need to have themed party decorations. I just have to have something good to eat and places to sit. If the purpose is to celebrate my daughter’s birthday with her friends, then I don’t have to impress the moms. I just have to make sure the girls have fun. By defining your purpose, you free yourself from trying to do everything perfectly. What a joy!

I highly recommend purchasing Mary’s ebook as we head toward the holidays. In fact, I challenge to to purchase it TODAY! Why today?

Today only Mary is giving all the proceeds from the sales of her ebook to Operation Christmas Child. And, you know I love me some Operation Christmas Child.

So click on over and check out this new ebook. It’s a great one to add to your collection.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this ebook for review purposes. All opinions are my own.


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.

New eCookbook from Once A Month Mom

My good friend Tricia over at Once a Month Mom has a new eCookbook out called Survive Before 5: Toddler Meals for Your Busy Days. She sent me a copy to look at so I could tell you all about it.

It’s awesome! That is all…

Well, actually, let me tell you more…

The one thing I remember from having a toddler is that you are ALWAYS moving. Either chasing the toddler or getting something for the toddler or doing the laundry the toddler created or playing with the toddler. Meal time would sneak up, and if you weren’t fast, you had a cranky, hungry toddler on your hands. Not fun! Tricia’s eCookbook helps avoid that.

In Survive Before 5: Toddler Meals for Your Busy Days, Tricia gives us some easy and yummy recipes that can be frozen so you can do one big cook a month and have the rest of the days to play! She even gives a sample monthly menu plan for breakfast, lunch, and snacks that incorporates all that you made on your cooking day. Talk about taking the pressure off! I love having a plan. It makes the day go so much better.

The recipes include…


  • blueberry pancakes
  • toddler french toast sticks
  • fruity breakfast burritos


  • homemade spaghetti o’s
  • individual mac & cheese cups
  • corndog muffins
  • homemade cheesy rice
  • apple chicken nuggets
  • individual pizzas


  • frozen fruit cups
  • homemade yogurt
  • peanut butter banana yogurt pops
  • peanut butter granola bars

Some additional features:

  • A choice of preparing for 1 child, 2 children, 4 children or 6 children.
  • Grocery lists for 1 child, 2 children, 4 children or 6 children.
  • Customized labels for each of your prepared items.
  • Recipe cards containing photographs and some step-by-step photos as well.

It’s the additional features that make Tricia the amazing Once A Month Mom. She takes all the hard work and does it for you. You just have to follow directions!

Originally $7.99, Survive Before 5: Toddler Meals for Your Busy Days is on sale through Friday, July 1st for $5.99. Just use the code OAMM599. So don’t waste time going to get it!

I’m off to make some granola bars. No, I don’t have a toddler anymore, but we still snack here at the House of Hills.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of the eCookbook for review, and all links are affiliate links. However, we all know I don’t tell you about stuff I don’t actually like. All opinions are my own.