Tag Archives: Our HIlltop Home

The Devaurs’ Do Disneyland

I’m not a Disneyland fanatic, but it is definitely my favorite theme park. It’s the only one I’ve visited multiple times, and the only one that makes me smile when I think of it. It’s also a little bittersweet to me- my father always swore he would take my brother and I to the park, but never did… but because he wanted to do it, no one else could. Therefore, I didn’t get to experience the magic of Disneyland until I was 11.

Needless to say, it was and is very, very important to me that my own children get to go to Disneyland when they are small enough to really fall in love with the characters and to fall under the Disneyland spell.

However, and this is a big however, I was scared to go to the park with my small children. My children are on a pretty strict schedule and theme parks aren’t really conducive to nap times. Nevertheless, as David’s third birthday approached and the realization that we’ll have to pay over $100 for him to get into the park after he hits the that third birthday, it hit me, now or never. My frugality won out.

So… we did it. IMG_20180311_222810_129


I don’t think I was fully prepared for what to bring or expect, but I did learn a few lessons and have a few tips that I think might help other families planning their own trip.

Firstly, we only did one day, and yes, that’s a luxury of living only a few hours away from the park. Some people might say that’s not long enough, but for my almost 3 year old and 10 month old, one day was plenty. It’s been three days since we got home, and they’re still recovering! We arrived on Saturday evening, went to the park all day on Sunday, and left Anaheim Monday morning.  Obviously a weekday would have been less crowded, but the park was pretty empty when it opened, and it was drizzly, which kept some people away. (We didn’t mind the rain at all.)



I’m really glad we brought our stroller, but regret not having a double stroller. David wanted to ride in the stroller all day, and between Caroline’s napping and need to be out of the Ergobaby carrier (which was another good call), he didn’t get enough rest time from walking. He ended up on Jensen’s shoulders a lot, which David didn’t mind, but Jensen’s shoulders did. The stroller carried our snack bag, which was a good call- I could keep the kids fueled up and didn’t need to buy a lot of extra food besides meals.

If you have the money in your trip budget, I cannot recommend Breakfast in the Plaza with Minnie and Friends enough. The meal was delicious and both kids really loved meeting Chip and Dale, Minnie, and Tigger. It was also a nice way to start the day- low key and a filling meal.


Even Caroline loved Breakfast with Minnie and Friends. 

Disneyland offers a baby center for moms and babies, and I loved this resource. I wish there were more around the park, honestly. It was a quiet place to nurse Caroline, and she’s pretty easily distracted now, so I appreciated that she wasn’t constantly flopping over to see all the goings-on. It also offered a really nice changing table, and even potties for little kids. I imagine it would be great for babies in the summer, as well, because it would be air conditioned.


Napping hard in the stroller. 

David liked most of the rides, especially the train and Pirates of the Caribbean. Caroline loved the carousel and It’s A Small World. Word to the wise- don’t take your toddler on the Haunted Mansion. It was a pretty rough start for David, and we got a lot of dirty looks when he was yelling “I gotta get out of here!!!” (Again, it ended well, but getting started was always the hardest part of each ride for him.) He also loved the tea cups, and now says he loved the Tiki Room. (I think the Dole Whips helped, just saying.)


He loved the train best of all. 


On It’s a Small World. Do you detect a theme?


In the Tiki Room. David now won’t stop singing the Tiki Room song, but at the time, he was not feeling it. Caroline loved it, naturally


I love this girl. Such a trooper through such a long day. PS- the rose gold Minnie ears are SO basic and I SO love them anyway. 

I think my most important lesson here was to just go with the flow. My kids’ schedules are still off, but I really forced myself to be in the moment and not worry about the clock. They’ll get back to normal, eventually, and watching my children laugh and smile nearly all day <<only a few meltdowns on David’s part, yesssss>> is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. Sometimes, you just have to go all day to get the most out of a short period of time. They’re not little forever, so I had to force myself to embrace it. I’m so glad I did.  I couldn’t help but tear up a few times throughout the day, it means that much to me to be able to give my children the experiences I never had myself.


End of the night- ears on, saggy pants, tired boy

Our messy corners

I think EVERYONE has that one spot in their house that they struggle to keep organized. Ours is our built in china cabinet. It’s the place we dump our keys, purses, wallets, mail, magazines, packages, and any odds and ends that haven’t found a place yet. (Any other believers in “a place for everything and everything in it’s place?”) Here’s our messy corner:

I got sick of looking at the mess, so I decided to tackle the project, and in just a few steps, I was able to make it look presentable. I realized that our bar would make a great mail management station, and would ease the eyesore of seeing this  massive mess the moment you walk into our home. The bar is right by the dining table and both entry ways, but its much smaller, making it more difficult to “pile file” on it.

 First- back to that rule of a “place for everything-“ I put the books where they belonged and the Etsy package in my daughter’s room. I also busted out the paper shredder, and destroyed anything that had personal information. If you deal with junk mail right away, it can’t multiply and overwhelm you quite so quickly. I’ve found that if the shredder is in an easy to access spot, you can manage the mail much more easily. I put mine in an out of the way spot behind our dining table so it’s not quite so noticeable.


Continuing with the thread of managing household papers, I found this really neat monitor stand that I’m using to hold important papers in for storage until I can put them into our filing cabinet, or keep them there for easy access if I need them sooner than later.


I’m a magazine addict- I subscribe to at least 10- so I always have something in my to be read pile. I found this clean lined, simple magazine holder where I can corral all my publications. I also get a fair number of catalogs (Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, and Boden come to mind) that I like to peruse for inspiration when I get a spare moment.


I added a few personal touches, like this sweet painting from L’Isle sur la Sorgue that my aunt picked up when we traveled together there when I was a little girl, a cool vintage frame, and a snap I took during our babymoon in Cabo San Lucas in 2014. I also placed an orchid because plants make me happy.



My built in cabinet now looks like this <big smile>:


This little clean up took less than  $30 and an hour. Never underestimate how much you can accomplish in little pockets of time! What little projects have you worked on that took a little bit of effort but gave you a whole lotta payout?


I remember when I first got pregnant with David, I feared that I would never, ever loose the baby weight and I would never have an interest in fashion or makeup or… anything… ever again. Our culture seems to expect a mom to loose herself in her children, and if she doesn’t, she isn’t a very good mom.

I’m sorry to burst that bubble, that’s total crap.

That’s not good for a woman, that’s not good for a family and a marriage or relationship, and that’s not good for a child (for a lot of reasons!)

You have to embrace AND. I can be a mom AND enjoy getting dressed. I can be a good mom AND need time away from my children to recharge. I can like expensive things AND like a bargain. Why does one thing have to exclude another? This all or nothing sentiment isn’t healthy. Life isn’t black or white- there’s so much grey. Love that grey area. You’ll be happier, from my experience.

This leads me back to my original sentence- as a soon to be mother, I belived I wouldn’t really have an interest in fashion again. I realized this was complete bollocks at about two weeks postpartum, as I stared eagerly at my pre-baby clothes. I couldn’t wait to reclaim that part of myself, in the midst of a sleep deprived fog.

Almost three years of motherhood later, and I still like getting dressed up. I certainly think differently about the clothes that I buy (can this be washed if my Caroline spits up on it? is a major concern), but that hasn’t stopped me from having fun with clothes.

My momiform this week balanced cold rainy weather, an evaluation meeting, and a grumpy toddler. (Any one else find that their toddler was particularly irritable this week? Full moon, maybe?) My husband kindly snapped some highlights this week.


Sundry clothing tee, Frame denim (no longer available) Frye boots (no longer available)



Abercrombie jacket (linked to similar), Target tee shirt and dollar spot scarf. 

I’ve fully embraced AND. I can be a mom AND still follow my love for good clothing.  You gotta do you, friend.


Please note- I have no affiliate links or sponsored content on this post


When your Sunday routine gets pushed into Monday

I love Sundays. I CHERISH Sundays. It’s the day my family takes it slow. I finish up laundry, the babies take long naps (hallelujah), and my husband and I menu plan. Shoot, sometimes even I take a nap. Sunday blues are a real thing, and nothing makes me happier than investing time with those people who fill my world with sunshine.


Sundays are so easy… after breakfast, we play and hang out. (Some of us like to hang out in our undies. No judgement. )

However, sometimes, our Sunday routine gets pushed off, and yesterday was one of those. I couldn’t get to all of those little things I do on a Sunday that ensure the week gets off to a smooth start.

Here’s the deal. I could let this make me feel all flustered and hectic and stressed and icky, or, I could choose to grab Monday by the horns and say “not today, not ever.”

So, yes, I didn’t get my laundry finished yesterday and I had no idea what the plan was for meals this week, but I’m not going to let that make me panicky or stress me out for the rest of the week. I worked an extra long day today, which also added to the hailstorm of stress as I walked through the door at 5.45. (Side note- dinner is at 6 PM at our house, every night. We’re big on a schedule.) When I got home, my husband and I looked through the fridge, pulled a meal together [really grateful I at least grocery shopped!], and got the littles to bed.

After David and Caroline were in bed, I started that last load of laundry, got the day care bag ready for tomorrow, and finally, finally, got to pull out my cookbooks to plan what my family was going to eat for the week.


Menu for the week of Feb. 26. All ingredients are on hand. 


These aren’t all the cookbooks I have….

A few notes on menu planning in our house:

Firstly, I’m not a short order cook. I don’t make separate meals for our children (even Caroline, at 10 months, is eating a lot of what we have for dinner.) If David doesn’t like it, he can eat all the other things on his plate that he does like. Every family is different, of course, and you have to do what works for you, but this method has been pretty successful for us thus far. (David eats curry, sushi and Thai food without blinking an eye. Just about the only thing he won’t eat is broccoli. I don’t get it either.)

Secondly, I don’t plan sides. I probably should, but that’s just not for me. We keep a ton of fresh veggies in the fridge to pull from, and cook with whatever we feel like from our selections. We have a gazillion herbs and spices <not exaggerating> so this keeps our side dish game feeling exciting, not bland. (A recent hit has been carrots with crushed garlic, Everything But the Bagel seasoning from Trader Joe’s, and salt and pepper to taste. You’re welcome.)

Thirdly, I have a lot of cookbooks, so I make it a point to go use a different one each week to mix it up. Growing up, my family would play the “what do you want to eat for dinner” game, and that meant we ate the same 6 things all the time. That’s pretty dull, and I found Jensen and I getting into the same pattern. The cookbooks have been collected over the years, and all of them have been used. Okay, except for the 1976 cookbook I found at my grandmother’s. Hot dog aspic just does not sound appealing. This little gem of a cooking encyclopedia is best explored on another day, however.

So, here’s to those of us who are having a Monday that provides lots and lots of opportunities for growth. It’s going to be a great week.



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