Tag Archives: A beautiful life

What to expect if you get a Frenchie

If you know me, you would know that I’m passionate about French bulldogs. Something about those squish faces, bat ears, and little corkscrew tails just makes my heart pitter-patter. I loved Frenchies long before I owned one, so I had lots of time to research and decide if this breed was right for me. <PS- it is. I don’t think I’ll ever not own a Frenchie in my lifetime.>


If you know me, you would also know that I didn’t find out the gender of either of my children while I was pregnant, because there are so few pleasant surprises in life. The third biggest good surprise of my life was when Jensen had a Frenchie waiting for me when I got into town to visit him. I literally collapsed into tears, and some days, I still look at this dog- nearly seven years later- and can’t believe I get to have a Frenchie, this Frenchie, in my life.

Kermit has been one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given, but he has been labor intensive… a lot like a child. I’ve noticed that my Instagram posts about Kermit tend to get a lot of attention, and that doesn’t surprise me, because he’s pretty cute. Because of this, I thought I would share my Frenchie experience so that anyone considering the breed has a little more information available from an owner.

Please bear in mind, I’m not a breeder, just an avid enthusiast, and I’ve been lucky that Kermit has been relatively healthy, though we have had a few hiccups.

SO… what to expect when you have a French bulldog:

1. They’re loud breathers

Kermit snores like a man. Worse than a man. He also sleeps with us. (Jensen fought this battle, and he didn’t win. See post #7). This is due to the fact that they are brachycephalic- their nose is too short. This causes a whole host of other potential issues (see #7,again)  but be prepared to deal with a dog who will saw logs whenever they sleep. He also makes weird noises just because. It’s a Frenchie thing.


2. They have bad gas

This can be alleviated by diet- we do a grain free food and saw a big improvement- but when I say they have bad gas, I mean clear the room bad.

3. They have allergies

This is the biggest issue we’ve had with Kermit, and he’s on a daily medication to minimize the problem (Apoquel, if you were wondering- about $35/month for his prescription). I’m pretty confident he has a grass allergy, although this hasn’t been confirmed by a blood panel. Before we put him on medications, he used to lick his paws incessantly. Allergies are a really common problem for this breed, so you’ll probably be locked into doing some kind of method to deal with it. Medications work for us, some people can get away with wiping down paws. I’ve seen Frenchies with severe skin allergies all over their bodies, so there’s definitely a range of severity.

4. They’re stubborn

This will make your life harder with any kind of training- house breaking, leash training. We actually have a harness for Kermit because he pulls so strongly at times, and I don’t want to damage his wind pipe. I know people do agility with Frenchies (and it’s really cute!) but sometimes the dogs won’t cooperate. It’s just something to expect.

5. They’re amazing friends

Kermit is sitting with me as I write this… and it makes me kind of emotional to think about how much this dog loves me and how much joy he brings to my life. Yea, he smells, and he’s loud, and obnoxious- and he has some bizarre neuroses- but if I’m having a bad day, he’s always down to cuddle, especially as he’s gotten older. Kermit has comforted me through some really hard stuff, and I dread the day when I have to watch him leave this life. He’ll leave a big, big hole in my heart.



He’s a little bit of a stalker…


6. People will think you own a pug or a Boston terrier

It’s annoying, but it happens.

7. They sink in water

It’s true. While there are a few Frenchies who can swim (check YouTube!), mine cannot. Thankfully, they make hilarious dog life jackets, and he loves wearing it.



This is a picture from a day we spent at the lake. Kermit loved his lifejacket!


8. They overheat and chill easily

Because of that shortened nose, and also because of their compact body size which doesn’t allow for adequate cooling, Frenchies overheat easily. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have one if you live in a hot (or cold) climate, you just have to take some preventative measures to keep your dog comfortable. I’m an expert at dealing with the heat problem, so I’ll share some things I learned:

  • Fans are your dog’s best friend. We had a box fan that sat on the ground so Kermit could lay in front of it.
  • If they seem really hot, DO NOT put them in cold water. You’ll shock them. Lukewarm waters and towels will help them get comfortable.
  • Always have fresh, cool water available- duh statement, but I need to say it as a responsible owner
  • Don’t play outside during the hot part of the day
  • Watch your dog for signs of distress- they’ll tell you if they’re in trouble.

9. Be wary of trend colors

I’m probably going to offend someone, but I don’t care- I studied animal science and biology in college, and I have to say this. The trend colors some Frenchie breeders are pursuing worry me. It’s not breed standard, and I’m not sure what kind of breeding practices they’re doing to get those colors. I read the AKC standard before I got my dog, so I knew what to look for and what not to. If you want one of the off-standard colors, be aware you might get more than what you bargained for.

10. They will run your life

And I don’t regret it, one bit.





11. Adoption is an option!

Maybe you’re not in the market for a puppy- I completely understand! Kermit was a terror when he was a puppy. I’m dead serious, he was awful. I cannot recommend the French Bulldog Rescue Network enough! They are a very responsible rescue with dogs located throughout the country, and they always have middle aged and senior dogs who need a good home. They’re also always looking for financial support. Sometimes they get rescue dogs with some dire health issues, and they get these dogs healthy before the adopt them out- sometimes to the tune of thousands and thousands of dollars. They do it because they love the breed, and I think they are a great organization.

12. Spay and neuter

People gave me flak for neutering my dog because he was pretty expensive- they thought I should stud him out to make money! No. Way. I’m not going to breed a dog just because of the cost. There are so many dogs- even Frenchies- who need loving homes, and I didn’t want contribute to overpopulation. In addition, it also helps your dog lead a healthier, much less stressful life.


I think this is the longest post I have written to date- obviously this is a passionate subject for me. ❤ If you have any questions, drop a comment below or comment on my Instagram , and I’ll be happy to have a dialogue with you. Frenchie owners, think I missed anything? Let me know!



Instagram Squares & Pinterest Saves



My personal scapegoat. 

Social media can be a beautiful, positive tool. It’s hard to imagine doing anything creative without a little Pinterest scrolling to get our minds flowing, or tapping through Instagram to find some fabulous home before and after’s. A well phrased Google search can find a solution to just about any question you might have. I can spend hours and hours looking for inspiration. My social media home design inspiration board, on both Pinterest and Instagram Collections, is big.


It can, however, hinder us. I see square after square of beautifully designed spaces, and homes that always look clean, and it makes me feel like I’ll just never get there. I’ll never have the money, I’ll never have the talent, I’ll never have the time, I’ll never… you get the drift.

I was starting to feel really discontented last week. And when I say discontented, I was REALLY upset. I started to hate our new house. I started to get really angry at all the little “surprises” that keep on popping up (especially the retaining wall on the side of our house, which, all of a sudden, decided to fail within the first week of us moving in. Repairing this retaining wall is going to prevent a bathroom remodel for at least another year!!!! And we need to remodel THREE bathrooms!!!!!!!!)

I was getting more and more upset, and then I made myself pause. I reminded myself of two truths I know and so easily forget:

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Don’t judge your beginning to someone else’s middle. 

Here’s the thing… I can choose to be angry or I can choose to be content. It really is a choice. Jensen and I worked really hard to get this house- we jumped through a lot of hoops and sacrificed a lot to get to a place we love. It’s not going to be perfect. It’s never going to be perfect! No one has the perfect house, and I do mean, no one. Every home has it’s quirks.

Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere had a thought provoking Instagram post a few weeks back of a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Her caption was talking about how everything in her home is a huge mess because she’s been busy living her life and working so hard and being a mom, but this one corner of the house, with this vase of fresh flowers- it was “killing it.” It was a poignant reminder that we use social media to show the best of us, and, while that’s ok- who doesn’t want to see more beauty?!- we need to ground ourselves and realize that it IS just the highlight reel.

It’s okay to feel the mean reds once in a while. It’s okay to wonder if you’ll ever get to where you want to go, in whatever way that means to you. But please, for your sanity, don’t stay in that space. Use that to fuel your fire, to push yourself to where you want to be. You are capable of so much more than you realize. You’ve made it through every trial you’ve been through before- don’t let social media be the thing that stops you from growing and building and living your best life. That’s right- YOUR best life. It’s your life, and your definition of best is yours alone. You can’t compare pizza to ice cream- they’re both so good, and doing so would be ignoring the great things that each of these foods have. Your life is the same way- don’t deny the beauty and meaning of what you’re creating by comparing it to someone else who is living their journey.

Last Friday, I took a big deep breath, and I made a weekend to do list. It was tangible things I knew Jensen and I could accomplish on Saturday that would help me feel better. We worked really, really hard, and let me tell you- working on that back patio and getting my closet shelving fixed helped change my outlook. I felt like I made progress on what is, unquestionable, a big project. And I felt a whole lot happier.

We’re all just doing our best, friends. Just keep on trying, and keep on making your life beautiful. Enjoy the journey.




Bedtime Routine for My Toddler

I’ve gone over how I put my one year old to bed on this post linked here, and I think it’s worth a post of it’s own to discuss how our three year old handles his bedtime routine as well.

With the development of his language ability, he’s become much more vocal about how bedtime should go- and rightfully so. It’s his night, too! For a long, long time- until he was about 18 months old- his bedtime routine was the exact same as his sister’s. We have adjusted and added to his routine as he needed to grow with his needs. This was mentioned in the book, The Happy Sleeper. This book has really worked for our family, and I can’t recommend it enough. I know everyone has their own special sleep book, but for us, it’s been a game changer and worked with two different babies, so…

We eat dinner at 6 PM- and I know, it’s really hard to stop life to make dinner. This is something that’s really important to my husband and I, however, so we eat together most nights as a family. As the children get older and activities are added, I’m sure this will have to be adjusted, but I think time spent around the table is a good way to reconnect as a family at the end of each day, so every day at 6pm, you’ll find us around the dining room table.

Some nights he isn’t interested in what we are cooking, and that’s fine- he can pick at what he likes, but he STILL has to sit at the table with us. He isn’t a very big fan of this, but table manners are important, and I think this is an age appropriate one for him.

After dinner, we take a bath. This is definitely his favorite part, there’s a lot of splashing and laughing. He might fight us when he gets in, but it always ends with a smile. Sometimes it’s hard getting him out, too. (Hellooooo, three- an opinion on everything!) It’s helped us tremendously to use sand timers so he can see his time pass by. Three year olds can struggle with transitions, and these little sand timers from Amazon have helped us all so much! He can see the time lapse, and we don’t get a meltdown- win, win. Best $6 I’ve spent in a loooonnnnngggg time!

We apply his body lotion- Eucerin Eczema Relief has been a life saver for him and his dry itchy skin, and it doesn’t have a strong fragrance- comb his hair, brush his teeth [and man, this is a post in and of itself- he fought tooth brushing for ages!!!!] and put on clean warm jammies.

For a long time, David would go straight to his room for story time after finishing up his bath, but recently, he’s seemed to need a little personal unwind time, so we now give him 10 minutes to play with his toys- again, using those sand timers make the end of play time much easier.

We clean up all of our toys, and then we head to his bedroom. We turn on his white noise machine, his Benjamin Bunny alarm clock {again, another post- this is more for the morning wakeup stuff}, read a book, and sing Twinkle Twinkle. I’m not lying when I tell you that some nights, he’s so tired he asks to go to bed and skip story and song time. He climbs into bed, I tuck him in, and turn off the light.

He’ll lay in bed and talk for awhile, but there’s no screaming, no fighting. He asks to go to the potty and for a glass of water, but he isn’t stalling, he’s just getting needs met.

I don’t think this is the end-all be-all routine. I think the reason it works so well is because we are very consistent with bedtime, even when we travel. Even with our move and all of the emotions he’s experiencing, he doesn’t fight getting into bed… I wish I could say the same with all of the other steps, but that isn’t our truth right now. I know this is just a phase, however, and he’ll go back to normal, because we’re consistent and he’ll adjust to this new normal.

What special things do you do for your kid’s bedtime?



Affiliate links were used in this post ❤

Bedtime Routine for Our Baby Girl

I’m a bit militant about my children’s sleep. Make that A LOT militant. I have struggled with sleep for most of my life, and I don’t want my children to do the same. I did a lot of research, I tried a lot of things, and I found what works best for my littles. I think they sleep pretty well, especially at home, so I thought I would share my routine with you in hopes that it will help some other tired mama out there.

First and foremost, this book  was my favorite one that I read, and the one that I felt the most comfortable with. It’s called The Happy Sleeper. I couldn’t stomach the Cry It Out method (and if it works for you, you do you, but it just about broke my heart!) This book’s methods allow your baby to learn, with your loving support, how to self-soothe to sleep. I didn’t start with this method until they were both about 4 months old. This method really focuses on routine and consistency, which is something I firmly believe in as a classroom teacher, so this really felt natural to me.

We eat dinner at 6 pm every night, and Caroline is in bed between 6.30-6.45 pm.  I get a lot of guff from friends that we eat early, but by 6 pm rolls around, she is READY to go to bed.


After we eat, Caroline either gets a proper bath or a sponge bath. I’ve been using Mustela since David was a baby, and I love the smell. If she gets a proper bath, I’ll use the Mustela Two in One bath gel.


When we go into her room, I turn on the lamp and white noise machine and draw the curtains. I dry her off in her special unicorn bath towel, put on a fresh diaper using //ws-La Petite Creme diaper creme (heavenly scent, really!) and give her a thorough once over  with Mustela Hydra Bebe lotion.   After she gets her jammies on, we brush her teeth with this Orajel baby toothbrush and gel. You might wonder why I’m going into so much detail about this whole deal- it’s because all the sounds, smells, and noises indicate to her that it’s time to go to bed. If you consistently use the same products in the same order, it’s a signal to your baby that bedtime is eminent.


After we go out and give kisses to her brother and dad, we go back to her room and she nurses, and then we read a short story. (Every night… from when she was a month old. I think reading has made a huge difference for David’s language ability, so I’m dedicated to this for her, as well.) I turn off the light, sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and I rock her for a minute or two. I quietly lay her down in her crib and tell her “Good night, Caroline, I love you.” I  then walk out of the room. She’s not even partially asleep at this point- she knows how to put herself to sleep every night. There’s no tears, no yelling, nothing. It’s so peaceful.


So, that’s it… That’s how I put my 11 month old to bed every night. I have found that by remaining peaceful and calm, it helps her as well, and we both love our routine. I hope this helps!



PS: I should add- it didn’t start this way when I first got her started on her bedtime routine. She would cry for about 5 minutes, I would walk in and tell her “It’s bedtime, Caroline, time to go to sleep,” and leave. I did this as many time as it took. Caroline learned much more quickly than David, but they both learned how to soothe themselves to sleep.

.Affiliate links are included in this post. No content was sponsored- recommendations are strictly from my own experience. 

Easter Egg Magic

I love dying Easter eggs! They are so bright and joyful, and are a happy reminder that Spring is finally here. I’m one of the few people who actually hard boil and dye eggs for our family’s egg hunt each year (no suprise that the plastic eggs filled with candy or money are more popular! Haha). I figured I should make them something special.

I was scrolling through Facebook and found a video for creating marbled Easter eggs. Intrigued to see if it works, I decided to try it out. The worst that could happen was I would loose $4 in eggs and Cool Whip. I’m delighted to report that this does indeed work!

Supplies are simple- vinegar to soak eggs in, one to two tubs of Cool Whip, defrosted, hard boiled eggs, and food dye. You’ll also need a toothpick to marble the food dye.

Before everything starts, soak the eggs in vinegar for about two minutes. As the eggs were soaking, I spread Cool Whip in a small metal roasting pan (I only did a dozen eggs). I put drops of food dye in various colors all in random pattern throughout the Cool Whip and then used a toothipick to distribute the food dye throughout.


I was holding a baby while trying to photograph this… forgive me 🙂

Then comes the best part, at least according to my David. I did this step outside on the patio table, and I recommend not doing this alone if your child is three and extremely active. I gave David eggs, and he rolled them around in the Cool Whip mixture.

Be forewarned- it’s going to look a little messy and you’re going to wonder if the eggs will turn out. Your toddler’s hands are going to be dyed. My son wanted to bang the eggs into the dish, so they got a little smashed. I say, it adds character to the eggs. No biggie.

Let the eggs sit for ten to fifteen minutes in the Cool Whip concoction. The Cool Whip acts as a medium to let the dye sit on the eggs, much like you would soak the eggs in the dye in cups.

When the time is up, rinse in cool water and set to dry on a drying rack.


I’m wearing black to hide any stains. Pro tip. 

Your finished product will look something like this:


Let me know in the comments if you try this yourself! Does your family dye eggs, or do you prefer the plastic treat filled variety?



Making the old new again

I have a passion for vintage furniture. Ever since I was a little girl antique shopping with my aunt in Mid-Coast Maine <which, BTW, has some of the best pieces I’ve ever seen, and every time I visit her and we go shopping, I curse how much it costs to ship items so large across the country>, I’ve loved finding those pieces that have real character and beauty. I’ve learned that many pieces of antique or vintage furniture are of a quality far superior to the particle board pieces that are made today. There’s a time and a place for Ikea, but sometimes, it just makes sense to get something that’s going to be able to withstand wear and tear from my family.

I’ve been hunting for a pair of matched chairs for ages- easily going on 6 years. I’m pretty frugal, and I know that if you buy vintage chairs, it’s likely you’ll have to get them reupholstered… which isn’t exactly cheap. I wanted the chairs to be a fair price with a good shape, with some interesting details, and I needed them to have  deep seat. (I love curling up in a chair… all of my chairs and couches have deep seats, like at least .)

As I was scrolling through Facebook, I found a link to a local business that specializes in used furniture. I haven’t ever been in, but thought I would take a peek at their offerings. And then, there they were. My chairs.

For $75 each.

Before I jumped and purchased, I got a quote from an upholstery company. Her bid seemed fair, so I had to do it. I know that if I wanted to buy solid chairs like this brand new, I’d spend several thousand dollars to get a matched set.

I have never gotten furniture reupholstered, and I’m really excited to pick out the fabric that I want. Any tips or hints? My current sofa is a soft muted wheat and my chairs are in the grey family.

IMG_20180223_143840_087Chairs from Farm Girls Vintage Finds

Hello, hello!

Welcome to Our Hilltop Home! I can’t wait to get my hands started on taking a home with “good bones” and turning it into a beautiful space that my family can live and love in.

I’ll be documenting our journey of remodeling, gardening, cooking and all the life that happens in a home.

I hope to share inspiration, get inspiration from you, and remind you that a beautiful life isn’t a privilege or for rich people or people with lots of time- it’s achievable, step by step, for every person.



Photo Credit- unknown