The Importance of Active Play Time

The Importance of Active Play by TheHillHangout.com

Fall and Spring are busy times of the year around the Hill Hangout. Our homeschool year kicks off, and so do all of our extra-curricular activities. I don’t know about you, but it is easy for me during those super busy times to focus on what “needs” to be done and neglect active play time for my kids.The importance of active play time really can’t be minimized. Kids need to get moving in order to stay healthy. One of my favorite Mr. Rogers quotes is, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” Children need time to play. They need time to create and imagine and move their bodies. They need time with friends to run and kick a ball and talk about silly things. We would all do well to remember the importance of active play time.

Why is it so important to build in active play time? Take a look at this from LetsMove.gov: “Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of the children are overweight or obese. If we don’t solve this problem, one third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives. Many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.”

Yikes! Those stats are startling!

How did we get here? Read on: “Thirty years ago, most people led lives that kept them at a healthy weight. Kids walked to and from school every day, ran around at recess, participated in gym class, and played for hours after school before dinner. Meals were home-cooked with reasonable portion sizes and there was always a vegetable on the plate. Eating fast food was rare and snacking between meals was an occasional treat.” Play is disappearing at home, in school, and in communities.  70% of moms played outside when they were kids; 31% of their kids play outside today.

I’m convinced. We gotta get our kiddos moving.

The Importance of Active Play

Your family may have its own favorite play activity, but ours is soccer. My girls LOVE some soccer! And I’m happy for them to play because it gets their activity level up (way up!!), teaches them to work with a team, helps with critical thinking and strategy, and gives them a terrific community of girls. Soccer certainly isn’t the only sport that gets kids moving. Maybe your kids are into basketball, volleyball, football, lacrosse, gymnastics, or cheerleading. All excellent options. Not a sports lover? Try one of these:

  • Walking around the neighborhood after dinner.
  • Have a family dance party.
  • Play a game of freeze tag.
  • Go on a nature hike.
  • Find a new workout video on Youtube.
  • Get the neighborhood kids together for a game of kickball.
  • Go on a bike ride.
  • Learn yoga.

Need a little motivation? Why not make it a family competition? Give each family member a pedometer or Fitbit and compete for the highest number of steps daily. Instead of video games or movies, give gifts that encourage physical activity like balls, jump ropes, or gymnastics mats.

Importance of Active Play Time by THeHillHangout.com

And while you’re encouraging your kiddos to move, don’t forget to properly fuel them up. As my girls get more active, they really do prefer healthier meals that give them the energy to play hard. They DESPISE being sluggish from too much sugar and starch. So we eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies and try to stay away from too many fried or sugary foods. And they require lots of healthy snacks between meals to keep their energy level up. My girls love CLIF Kid® snacks, especially a CLIF Kid Zbar®. CLIF Kid® makes nutritious snacks from organic ingredients that are specially-crafted for kids’ developing taste buds and active lives. Whether on the run from soccer practice, or in between homework sessions, CLIF Kid Zbars are perfect for growing kids (and busy parents!).

The Importance of Active Play

It’s difficult to fit playtime in around all the other activities back-to-school brings, but by getting creative and establishing a routine, you’ll be sure your kids are healthy and thriving all year long.

The Importance Of Active Play

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Vidalia Onion Dip

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AD #Tailgreatness #CollectiveBias

Vidalia Onion Dip from TheHillHangout.com

A couple of weeks ago, my team played my husband’s team in our annual college rivalry. It’s always a fun game because he and I celebrate our “house divided” with great food and great friends. When we are watching our favorite game of the year, the last thing we want is to be sidelined with heartburn from the rich and spicy food. Thankfully, I have Nexium 24HR so I’m always ready for Tailgreatness! Nexium 24HR is for the treatment of frequent heartburn. Since it can take 1-4 days for full effect, I take just one pill a day and I’m covered for whatever kind of spiciness I get into. For this week’s game, that spiciness included my Vidalia Onion Dip.

Vidalia Onion Dip from TheHillHangout.com

Vidalia Onion Dip super simple to make, and it only includes five ingredients. You’ll need two vidalia onions, an 8 oz block of cream cheese softened to room temperature, half a cup of mayonnaise, half a cup of grated parmesan cheese, and 3 cups of shredded cheddar.

The first step in making Vidalia Onion Dip is to chop the onions in a food processor or blender.

Vidalia Onion Dip from TheHillHangout.com

Pour the onions into a mixing bowl. Add the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, cheddar, and mayonnaise. Mix until well blended.

Vidalia Onion Dip from TheHillHangout.com

Pour into a greased baking dish.

Vidalia Onion Dip from TheHillHangout.com

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges.

Vidalia Onion Dip from TheHillHangout.com

Serve with Fritos Scoops, pita chips, toast rounds, or your favorite cracker.

If you need to stock up on Nexium® 24HR Capsules 42 count before your next tailgate, head on over to Walmart and look for the antacid and heartburn aisle in the pharmacy.

Vidalia Onion Dip

Get all-day, all-night protection from frequent heartburn with Nexium® 24HR. Use as directed. May take 1-4 days for full effect.

Vidalia Onion Dip
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Ingredients
  1. Two vidalia onions
  2. 8 oz block of cream cheese softened to room temperature
  3. 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  4. 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  5. 3 cups of shredded cheddar.
Instructions
  1. The first step in making Vidalia Onion Dip is to chop the onions in a food processor or blender.
  2. Pour the onions into a mixing bowl. Add the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, cheddar, and mayonnaise. Mix until well blended.
  3. Pour into a greased baking dish.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges.
Notes
  1. Serve with Fritos Scoops, pita chips, toast rounds, or your favorite cracker.
The Hill Hangout http://thehillhangout.com/

Fall Community and Home Show

Fall Community Preview

Do you love a good home tour as much as I do? One of our favorite ways to spend a weekend is looking at new houses, especially if we can go in and take a peek around. If you’re local to Birmingham, you can take advantage of the Fall Community and Home Tour sponsored by the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders. It’s going on October 7-9 and October 14-16 from 10:00-6:00 each day.

There are over 20 builders on this year’s Fall Community and Home Show, including Harris Doyle Homes. They are the builders of this lovely home in Trussville Springs. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Fall Community and Home Show

This beauty is by Prominence Homes and Communities, and it is in Helena’s Riverwoods.

Fall Community and Home Show

I know I’ve shown you several Murphy Home Builders homes in the past, but can you blame me? You can check out this one in Highland Lakes!

Fall Community and Home Show

Until the Fall Community and Home Show, I wasn’t familiar with Gibson Anderson Construction. However, look at this great home they’ve just finished in The Ledges in Pelham.

Fall Community and Home Show

I keep coming back to this Ridgecrest Homes jewel because I think the design is so interesting. This plan is called The Brownstones. I’m a big fan of this one in The Preserve in Hoover.

Fall Community and Home Show

And while you’re in The Preserve, you can take a tour of this home by Fargason Building.

Fall Community and Home Show

It’s a gorgeous weekend, so who’s up for a few house tours? Y’all let me know what you like best.

Easy Weeknight Dinners

Easy Weeknight Dinners

It’s back-to-school time around the Hill Hangout, and we are getting back into the busy fall routine. Soccer has started, as well as dance and church activities, which doesn’t leave us a whole lot of time to cook elaborate meals during the week. If you’re like me, you can benefit from some new recipes for easy weeknight dinners. I polled my favorite food blogger friends who graciously shared their most popular quick and easy meals with me so that I can pass them on to you.

First up is Chicken Fajita Casserole from my friend Stacey at Southern Bite. If you keep cooked, shredded chicken in the freezer (LIKE I’VE BEEN TELLIN’ Y’ALL!), then you can have this mouth-watering meal on the table in 30 minutes.

Easy Weeknight Diners

My friend Cris at Recipes That Crock brings our first slow cooker recipe – her Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup. Simple ingredients you will love!

Easy Weeknight Meals from TheHillHangout.com

One of our family favorites is my Greek Chicken Pot. Throw it all in a bag in the morning, and bake it when you come home in the evening. Super simple and quite healthy!

Easy Weeknight Meals from TheHillHangout.com

Another of our family favorites (as in, we have it at least once a week!) is Spicy Drip Beef. You can eat it on a bun as a sandwich, or as an entree with whatever starch and veggies your family loves. We love it cooked in the oven, but you can also use your slow cooker on low for eight hours.

Easy Weeknight Meals from TheHillHangout.com

Paula at Call Me PMc has a fantastic Cheesy Chicken Pasta that only requires, drum roll please… ONE POT! Goodness, I do love a one pot meal. Don’t you?

Easy Weeknight Dinners from TheHillHangout.com

Mmmmm! Leah at Beyer Beware has a fabulous Crock Pot Sloppy Joe recipe. I think the sloppy joe is the unsung hero of the sandwich kingdom.

Easy Weeknight Meals from TheHillHangout.com

Stephanie at Plain Chicken is known for her “Cracked Out” recipes, and for good reason. People LOVE them. Here’s her Cracked Out Chicken Tater Tot Casserole.

Easy Weeknight Dinners

Donya at A Southern Soul is one of the sweetest food bloggers I know, and you’ll love her Pasta Carbonara!

Easy Weeknight Dinners

If you’re a seafood lover like we are, you know that a weeknight seafood dinner is hard to come by. My Crawfish Stew is a super simple dump and cook recipe that our entire family devours.

Easy Weeknight Meals from TheHillHangout.com

Why go out for BBQ when you can have it ready when you walk in the door? Melissa at Served Up With Love shows us how with her Crock Pot Pork BBQ!

Easy Weeknight Meals from TheHillHangout.com

Another favorite from Served Up With Love is Melissa’s Pizza Casserole. This one is definitely going on my menu soon!

Easy Weeknight Meals from TheHillHangout.com

Spice up your weeknight meal with Tamale Pie from Brandy at Aunt Bee’s Recipes. Doesn’t this look heavenly?

Easy Weeknight Recipes from TheHillHangout.com

One of my favorite dinners is oven roasted chicken with veggies, and this one from Donya at A Southern Soul looks right up our alley!

Easy Weeknight Dinners from TheHillHangout.com

Have y’all ever used an Instant Pot? I have heard a lot about them, but have never bought one. I might change that since seeing this Cheesy Chili Mac from Mary at Chattavore!

Easy Weeknight Meals from TheHillHangout.com

Yum! Take a look at Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken Teriyaki from Christy at Southern Plate!

Easy Weeknight Meals from TheHillHangout.com

I hope your fall is off to a good start. I know it’s a busy time of the year for us all. It’s definitely the time of year I lean hard into Jesus and ask Him to order our days. My time with Him is more important to me during the busy seasons than ever if I’m going to keep in step with Him!

Happy cooking, friends!

Groupon Goods

This is a sponsored post. All opinions, as always, are completely my own.

I had such a great response to the Groupon Coupons post last week that I wanted to pop back in and let you know about Groupon Goods. Last week when we talked about Groupon Coupons, I told you that before you head out the door (or get online) to shop, you print off the coupon to take with you. With Groupon Goods, you get to take advantage of the deals WITHOUT LEAVING HOME! Y’all, this thing is so simple.

I checked out the deals on Groupon Goods, and right now they have almost 25,000 items that have ben deeply discounted. They have everything from groceries, toys, and electronics to jewelry, sports equipment, and pet supplies. They even have a designer collection with designer fragrances, sunglasses, and apparel. Just to give you an idea, here are a few of the amazing deals I came across on Groupon Goods:

I’m off to order a bunch of birthday gifts that I’ve been needing to check off my list. What’s the best Groupon Goods deal you’ve gotten lately?

Groupon Coupons

This is a sponsored post. As always, opinions are mine.

So maybe I’m late the party (what else is new, huh?), but have you heard about Groupon Coupons? I’m not talking about the regular Groupon deals we’ve known about for ages. I’m talking about coupons on the Groupon site for ALL KINDS of retailers.

So this thing is super simple. When you get ready to shop, either online or in store, just check Groupon Coupons to see what kind of deals are available. All you have to do is log onto Groupon, look for the Coupon tab (or go here), and choose the coupon codes you want.

I checked it out and found Groupon Coupons for so many of my favorite stores:

  • Old Navy (Currently 10% off Kids and Baby Items)
  • J. Crew Factory Store (Currently 40% off everything)
  • Amazon.com
  • Sephora (Quite a few different deals)
  • Under Armour
  • Bed, Bath and Beyond (20% off one item in store)
  • Cost Plus World Market
  • Barnes and Noble (20% off one item online)
  • Forever 21
  • Staples
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Walgreen’s
  • Nordstrom

Groupon has been a great way to save money on restaurants, entertainment, and events for years. With the advent of Groupon Coupons, we can now save money in new ways!

Have you used Groupon Coupons? I’d love to know about the bargains you found. Leave a comment and let us know!

2016 Parade of Homes

2016 Parade of Homes Ad

One of my favorite weekends of the year is coming up! The Birmingham 2016 Parade of Homes opens today and runs through this weekend and next, and it is always a fun weekend of design inspiration and beautiful interiors. If you’ve been needing to make a few updates to your home or are in the market to build, you can see some terrific ideas at the 2016 Parade of Homes.

2016 Parade of Homes

I was invited by B-Metro Magazine to take you on a tour of one of the Parade homes. As I toured the Highland Lakes home by Murphy Home Builders, I noticed that there are several design features that aren’t slowing down anytime soon. People still demand an open floor plan, and rightly so. An open plan is family friendly and visually appealing.

2016 Parade of Homes

Kitchen are still the heartbeat of the home, and homeowners want to see great appliances, countertops, and fixtures.

2016 Parade of Homes

2016 Parade of Homes

Comfortable living spaces with lots of natural light are also a must!

2016 Parade of Homes

Outdoor living spaces provide extra square footage of gathering space. This great area has room for lounging in front of the outdoor fireplace, as well as a full-size dining table.

2016 Parade of Homes

But while most new homes today have all of these features, it’s the details that really set a home apart. This home has terrific details that make it stand out from the rest. Why have a plain tray ceiling when you can add barn wood!

2016 Parade of Homes

And don’t forget to switch out boring interior doors for something more, like these five panel beauties.

2016 Parade of Homes

Laundry will be so much more fun for this homeowner in this beautiful laundry room. Additional details like wainscotting make a huge difference in how luxurious a room feels.

2016 Parade of Home

Murphy Home Builders called in Shannon Appling at Urban Market to add fabulous interiors. She did not disappoint, and these furnishings add to the charm and comfort of this lovely home.

2016 Parade of Homes

2016 Parade of Homes

2016 Parade of Homes

If you like what you see at the Murphy Home in Highland Lakes, you can check out the following for more home design candy:

  • Byrom Building at The Preserve in Hoover
  • Embassy Homes at Nottingham in Calera and Black Creek Station in Fultondale
  • Harris Doyle Homes at Trussville Springs in Trussville, Keeneland Valley in Pelham, and Fieldstown Crossing in Gardendale
  • Donovan Builders at Grey Oaks in Chelsea
  • Thoroughbred Homes at Ballantrae in Pelham
  • Taylor Burton Company in the Ross Bridge area
  • Newcastle Homes at Hillsboro in Helena and Carrington Lakes in Trussville
  • Lifescape Builders at Liberty Park in Vestavia

If you’re the uber-organized type (like me!!) you can plan out your Parade route here. The Parade will be open 10:00-6:00 on both weekends, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1.

*This is a sponsored post for which I received compensation. As always, all opinions are entirely my own.

Creamed Kale

Creamed Kale from TheHillHangout.com

When I first started hearing all of the interwebs about kale, I was more than a little hesitant. I hate greens. In fact, the first time I tried kale as a salad, it was a definite no go. However, kale has been labeled a superfood that will do everything from fight asthma, cancer, and auto-immune diseases to promote world peace and harmony among nations. Okay, maybe that last part is taking it a bit far. But the benefits of kale are so touted that I decided to try again. We love creamed spinach (especially with a hot, juicy steak), so I thought I might be able to make a thing of creamed kale. It did not disappoint. This stuff is terrific, and we can’t wait to have it again.

While anything with whole cream in it might not be labeled “healthy,” my creamed kale recipe is about as healthy as a creamed vegetable can be. Listen, we are trying our best to take care of the temple God has given us. Baby steps. Try the kale. Hope you love it as much as we do.

16 oz bag of frozen chopped kale
4 Tablespoons of butter
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon of each)
A dash of cayenne pepper
A dash of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of Stevia
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in skillet over medium heat. Add the frozen kale, Stevia, and spices.

Creamed Kale from TheHillHangout.com

Let saute until kale is heated through and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-10 minutes. Add the cream and Parmesan and stir to mix thoroughly. Leave cooking for about 1-2 minutes to let cream thicken. Serve immediately.

Creamed Kale from TheHillHangout.com

Creamed Kale
Think you don't like kale? Think again! This delicious dish is loaded with vitamins and minerals, but the taste is what will keep you coming back for more.
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Ingredients
  1. 16 oz bag of frozen chopped kale
  2. 4 Tablespoons of butter
  3. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon of each)
  4. A dash of cayenne pepper
  5. A dash of ground nutmeg
  6. 1/4 teaspoon of Stevia
  7. 1/3 cup heavy cream
  8. 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in skillet over medium heat. Add the frozen kale, Stevia, and spices. Let saute until kale is heated through and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-10 minutes. Add the cream and Parmesan and stir to mix thoroughly. Leave cooking for about 1-2 minutes to let cream thicken. Serve immediately.
The Hill Hangout http://thehillhangout.com/

A Prayer for Our Government

On this Super Tuesday, a prayer from the Lutheran Book of Prayer:

“Lord God, as I pray for all who are in authority, I thank you especially for the form of government given us in our beloved country. Give me the grace with my fellow citizens to value the officers and the magistrates of our government as those sent by You. Instill in me that honor and respect that is due them. Lord, endow them with wisdom for their several duties, with a spirit of sacrifice for the common welfare, with mercy and justice, with uprightness and kindliness. Correct the evils of selfishness, greed, a vain desire for honor, or abuse of power among us as well as in other governments of the world. Grant that the true purposes of government will prevail, safeguarding peace and prosperity, so that we may live soberly and uprightly in Your sight and have opportunity to tell of You and Your kingdom. These petitions I direct to You because in Jesus I know You as my Father and Lord. Amen.”

Cookie Butter Cobbler

**This post was sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market. Opinions, as always, are completely my own.

Cookie Butter Cobbler

Have you been introduced to cookie butter yet? This decadent treat has gained a huge fanbase in recent years, and many of us are wondering how we ever made it without it. It came to the US from Europe, and it has been enjoyed there for many years. My chickadees love cookie butter on pretzels, toast, and bagels. When Sprouts Farmers Market asked me to create a recipe for them using cookie butter, I knew my family would be all over it. Thus, Cookie Butter Cobbler was born.

Label

Cookie Butter Cobbler isn’t a super sweet dessert. If you want a really, really sweet desert, please feel free to add an extra half cup of sugar. If you’re a fan of nuts, Cookie Butter Cobbler would be delicious with a cup of chopped pecans or walnuts. We topped ours with real whipped cream, but a big scoop of vanilla ice cream would also be a great way to go. As with all of my recipes, please feel free to make it your own.

To make Cookie Butter Cobbler, you’ll need:

1 jar Sprouts Cookie Butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

With a hand mixer or stand mixer, mix together all ingredients except whipping cream and powdered sugar. Mix until a soft dough is formed. Press dough into an iron skillet that has been sprayed with baking spray. Bake on 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Whip together the whipping cream and powdered sugar with a stand or hand mixer until it is thick. Spoon a dollop over the top of the baked cobbler. Serve immediately.

Cookie Butter Cobbler from TheHillHangout.com

Cookie Butter Cobbler
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Ingredients
  1. 1 jar Sprouts Cookie Butter
  2. 2 cups all purpose flour
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1 stick butter, softened
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 1 tablespoon vanilla
  8. 1 cup granulated sugar
  9. 1 cup whipping cream
  10. 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. With a hand mixer or stand mixer, mix together all ingredients except whipping cream and powdered sugar. Mix until a soft dough is formed. Press dough into an iron skillet that has been sprayed with baking spray. Bake on 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
  2. Whip together the whipping cream and powdered sugar with a stand or hand mixer until it is thick. Spoon a dollop over the top of the baked cobbler. Serve immediately.
The Hill Hangout http://thehillhangout.com/

Cookie Butter Cobbler from TheHillHangout.com