I was recently interviewed by Lori over at B. Gatsby Blogs to talk a little bit about Birch Landing Home and being a mamapreneur. Check out her post here to see the full interview and while you're visiting her blog make sure to check out other interviews from fellow mom bosses!
New to the Etsy shop for 2016, Compass Rose Hand-Etched Ornaments in Birch. These are a fun way to add some nautical flair to your home decor or Christmas tree - also a perfect favor for a coastal-inspired wedding!
As always, wholesale inquiries are welcome - please send me a message for pricing information.
I'm a New Hampshire native, born and raised. I love this state and all the great things it has to offer. I thought I'd share some of our favorites - from the city, mountains, ocean, and countryside, New Hampshire has it all!
Things to Do in New Hampshire This Summer
- This list will be continually added to, so be sure to check back often for more ideas -
Located in the White Mountains, The Flume is a fairly short loop trail that brings you right through a narrow gorge with a rushing river and several waterfalls. There is a covered bridge, stairs, and deck walkways to help you through the tricky parts with ease.
Castle in the Clouds
I confess I'm biased to this place - afterall it's where my husband popped the question and where we got married :) But Castle in the Clouds does offer some of the most breathtaking views of the Lakes Region from the lawn of the Lucknow Estate (aka "The Castle"), where you can also explore the rooms of the mansion during your-self guided tour. There are also miles of hiking trails, horseback riding, and a restaurant on site.
Polly's Pancake Parlor + Lupine Festival
Pancakes - do we really have to say more..? But seriously folks, Polly's has amazing pancakes, delicious hearty breakfasts, and great views of the mountains. We recommend making the trip up there in June for the Lupine Festival and checking out the gorgeous fields of lupines in bloom after your hearty breakfast.
Strawberry Banke, a 10-acre historic collection of buildings along the seaside in Portsmouth is rich in history and historic architecture. The buildings on the property span 300 years and costumed guides and artisans fill you in on interesting stories and facts from an era gone by. I especially love seeing all the quirky features of the buildings there.
4th of July Parade in Wolfeboro
As "The Oldest Summer Resort in America," Wolfeboro does the Fourth like no one else with the largest parade in the state complete with their traditional Precision Lawn Chair Drill Team, Antique Tractor Brigade, and Presidential hopefuls. Jimmy Fallon and Mitt Romney are frequent attendees of the parade.
Isles of Shoals
The Isles of Shoals is a group of islands off the coast of NH is known for it's rugged coastal beauty and it's historical significance. Guided tours are available through the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company. (Taking a tour of the islands is something we haven't done ourselves yet but have been meaning to for years - this year we plan to change that though and finally go!)
There are various places around NH that offer this new trend, one being Full Moon Paddleboard in Wolfeboro. It's a lot of fun and adds a whole other level to your yoga practice. Whether you're a yogi master or just a beginner, you'll have a fun (yet challenging) time.
There are many places throughout the state that offer zip line tours and obstacle courses. We've gone with Alpine Adventures in Lincoln before and highly recommend them - great staff, great views, and a lot of fun.
There are countless mountains and great hiking trails in New Hampshire (this website is a great resource for trail info), but Mount Monadnock is definitely the most popular. After all it's one of the most-hiked mountains in the world, and with good reason - a moderately difficult hike rewards you with great 360-degree views atop it's rocky peak. If you hike Mt. Monadnock we recommend getting there early to beat the crowds, then getting lunch and ice cream at Kimball's in Jaffrey after.
A must-do, the Cog Railway brings you up Mount Washington (the tallest mountain in the Northeast) on the first mountain-climbing train in the world! Make sure to bring extra clothes for the summit since Mt. Washington is also home to some of the world's worst weather.
There are countless campgrounds across the state, with varying degrees of amenities. Two of our personal favorite campgrounds are Fransted Campground in Franconia and Crawford Notch Campground in Hart's Location - both are family friendly, well-kept, and convenient to hiking trails.
There are also many canoe tour companies throughout the state, but we really love Contoocook River Canoe Company in Concord, NH. They offer many choices for rentals, shuttles, and tours of surrounding rivers and lakes. I've done the 9-mile Contoocook River Tour a few times and can't say enough great things about it.
Clark's Trading Post
A true NH novelty, Clark's Trading Post is a little theme park tucked away in the White Mountains. It's best known for it's trained black bear act and "The Wolfman," an ornery prospector who chases the train ride to keep visitors away from his mine.
A day in Portsmouth
Portsmouth is a gem of a city tucked away along the seacoast - there are countless amazing restaurants to eat at, unique shops to explore, and historic buildings to see. Get into downtown before 11AM to best ensure finding a parking spot in the downtown parking garage, then spend the rest of the day eating and shopping your way through town.
Fisher Cats Game
The Fisher Cats is NH's own Minor League baseball team - their beautiful new ballpark is located conveniently in Manchester where affordable tickets ensure everyone can enjoy America's favorite pastime.
Storyland is a wonderful theme park where kids of all ages will find rides and attractions to enjoy. I have so many great memories of going to Storyland with my parents and exploring the different themed areas. I'm really looking forward to taking our little one there this summer for her first time!
A Day Out with Thomas
If you have a Thomas fan in your family, going to A Day Out with Thomas in North Conway is a must. You'll not only be able to meet Thomas, Percy, and Sir Topham Hatt but you'll also be able to go for a ride on the famous trains!
This time of the afternoon all directions point to coffee (duh), but I thought I'd share a sneak peek of a new ornament design for 2016 - the Hand-Etched Birch Compass!
New England-inspired painted signs will be coming to Birch Landing Home soon too ;) Stay tuned!
Statement necklaces are big right now, and why not put that style to good use by working double-duty as a teether for your tot? Sounds like a great solution to me! Nûby was kind enough to send me two of their new Teething Trends statement necklaces to style and review - and one lucky winner will get to choose one necklace for themselves from Nûby's line!
All of the teething necklaces in Nûby's new line are both on-trend and on-hand when you need them most. By having a teether that you wear, you always have one at the ready when your little one is in need of something to teeth on - especially handy to keep them from gnawing a finger off while you're stuck in a long line at the post office.
These teething necklaces are BPA-free and made from soft silicone so they're easy on tender gums. They also feature a break-away clasp in the event of an overly-grabby toddler but please keep in mind these necklaces are meant for moms to wear, not your teething littles.
There are a variety of colors and styles available, as well as bracelets (not pictured in this review), so you can find one - or seven - that match your style and every item in your wardrobe. What I love most is these don't even look like teethers - they're stylish enough to wear to work or a girls night out.
Necklaces featured are Nûby Teething Trends Medium Oval + Pearl Necklace in Teal and Nûby Teething Trends Pearl Necklace in Grey.
This week we made the trek up north to check out the Lupine Festival. The flowers were in full bloom and still gorgeous despite the constant drizzle (though I wish I could have said the same thing about my hair). We dressed for breakfast out and walks around the lupine fields, and the Medium Oval + Pearl Necklace in Teal was a great pop of color against my white button-up and black quilted vest.
A teething necklace of your choice from Nûby
One winner will be chosen to receive one (1) Nûby statement teething necklace in their choice of style/color. Open to US entrants only, 18 years or older - winner will be contacted by the email address provided.
You can select how many entries you would like to complete but keep in mind an invalid entry (i.e. stating you're following on Instagram, but you are not) will result in disqualification. Thank you and good luck! :)
My husband and I have been married for nearly five years now but it seems like our wedding was just yesterday. We got married before Pinterest was a thing and so it was up to us to figure out all the details on our own. It was a learning process and we came up with some great ways to cut costs and still have our dream wedding. | This post contains affiliate links |
From the start we knew exactly where we wanted to get married - a beautiful historic mansion overlooking the lakes and mountains we love (it was also where my husband proposed). So that helped narrow things down quite a bit. But the downside? It was expensive and didn't include much of anything. In order to have our wedding where we wanted, we had to cut costs in other parts of the budget and in doing so we saved thousands of dollars.
Tips for Saving Big on Your Dream Wedding
Start planning as early as you can. We started planning our wedding about 13 months out; we thought we had plenty of time but we were shocked at how many dates were already taken at our venue of choice, how many DJs/photographers were already booked, etc - even more than a year out. Starting early means you have the most options to choose from and are more likely to find affordable vendors that you like. Waiting until the last minute can leave you stuck with expensive options or ones you aren't happy with.
Find a venue that includes a lot. Okay, so this tip did not really apply to us (our venue included little other than the physical ceremony location, reception hall, and a day-of wedding coordinator). But many venues include at least something, and some include a lot more than others. Some items that may be included in the venue cost include: the wedding cake, toasting champagne, linens, DJ, flowers, cake cutting fee, bar credit, coffee service, hors devours, or even all of the food/catering. If you can find a nice venue that includes at least some of these items, it can save you big in the long run.
Pick a venue that's beautiful in itself. If you can find a venue that looks pretty as-is, you don't have spend a lot (or anything) on decor costs! An outdoor wedding with a pretty view means you don't need anything for the ceremony. And a pretty looking old hall with a lot of character means you can get away with little or no decorating for the reception. We spent almost nothing on decor costs since we felt our ceremony location was so beautiful already.
Use details of the wedding venue to your advantage. One of the little touches that people remembered most about our wedding? The wishing fountain! Our venue had a beautiful fountain in the middle of the ceremony location and we decided to use this feature as part of our day. We put out a jar of brand new shiny pennies dated our wedding year (which cost $2 - literally), and put a little note in our wedding program about throwing pennies in the fountain and for happy wishes for the bride and groom.
Don't get married on the weekend. I know this sounds strange but many locations offer a great discount if you get married on any day other than a Saturday or a Sunday (and some locations offer off-season discounts as well if you get married in the winter). The date we really wanted for our wedding had already been booked (even though it was over a year out!), and so when were deciding on a new date we chose to have our wedding on a Friday evening. By having it on a Friday we saved around $750 just on the venue cost!
Opt for the buffet. When selecting a caterer (presuming it's not included with your venue), look for ones that also offer a buffet option and compare that price to their "plated meal" price. Buffets generally cost about 1/3 less than having the meal plated and served to your guests. We choose the buffet option for our wedding and saved a lot on meal costs!
Make your own invitations - or at the very least assemble them. Originally we wanted to design, print, cut, and assemble our invitations ourselves. But with all the time and stress going into wedding planning on top of regular work, we decided to forgo the stress of designing and sourcing paper/printing services and order our invitations. We found a beautiful invitation design that fit our theme and colors perfectly and it was all printed on thick, gorgeous paper. The best part? It was from a small designer/paper goods company that was priced really reasonably and also had the option of sending all your invitation materials uncut and unassembled for $150 less which was a great savings.
Don't get sucked into buying "wedding-specific" items. Next time you're at a bridal shop or craft store, check out wedding day items like guest books and flower girl baskets and you'll be in for some sticker-shock. I still remember looking at a flower girl basket and not believing it cost over $25! Because of that we decided to for-go the (ugly in my opinion) while silk flower girl basket and get a basic woven basket at a craft store for $5 and tied a piece of coordinating ribbon to the handle. We also skipped the traditional guest book and had guests sign the photo mat of one of our favorite engagement pictures - this keepsake is now hanging in our master where we can see and appreciate it every day. These days with Pinterest the alternative guest book ideas are endless!
Borrow your petticoat. If your wedding dress calls for a petticoat, see if any of your friends or family has one you could borrow for your wedding. (If they do, make sure to try it on with your dress before your dress is altered to make sure it will work.) No one sees the petticoat and it's not a sentimental part of the day, so there's no need to actually buy one.
Offer to do the leg work. If you're working with a vendor and have some extra (and very reliable!) hands willing to help on the day of the wedding, offer to do the leg work for the vendors - in exchange for a discounted rate of course. For example, the cost of our linen rental included delivery and pick-up of the linens but my husband's parents offered to take care of it since they lived nearby. By having them pick up the linens the day before the wedding, and then drop them back off the day after the wedding it saved us $100. Also, our florist was about half a mile from the hair dresser where we all were getting our hair done - so, rather than pay the delivery fee for our bouquets my mother-in-law ran over and picked them up for us.
Take advantage of family and friends' talents. If you know someone that has a great talent or hobby, feel them out to see if they'd be willing to help you with an aspect of your wedding. My sister-in-law is super-crafty and an AMAZING baker. She made our gorgeous custom wedding cake for us and my brother-in-law made the cake base, saving us hundreds of dollars - not to mention it's much more meaningful knowing it's made with love by someone we know.
DIY wedding centerpieces. If you choose flowers for your centerpieces each arrangement can easily cost $80+ and that adds up to a lot, fast. We decided to make our centerpieces ourselves and save this money. My husband and I opted for flower-free centerpieces that we could make way ahead of time; we used birch logs with hearts and table numbers carved into them (a nod to when we carved our initials into a tree while dating), along with river rocks and some other natural elements. Everything we choose for our centerpieces meant something to us which made our them very personal. In order to make them we only had to purchase the candles and some river rocks - for all 10 centerpieces it cost us about $35.
(My only other piece of advice for making your own centerpieces would be to bring it to your venue and see it on one of their tables ahead of time, if possible. Our centerpieces looked awesome on our kitchen table and we thought they were the perfect size, but once they were set up at the venue we realized they didn't fill in the center of the tables quite enough and we should have brought some smaller elements to fill in around it.)
Borrow a fun car instead of renting a limo. We had the advantage of having our ceremony and reception at the same location, so we didn't need to transport the wedding party from one place to another. Even still, we wanted a fun "getaway" car to leave in at the end of the night. Luckily for us, our family is into restoring cars as a hobby and we got to use a '66 Chevelle that we all helped fix up - definitely made it more fun and more meaningful than using a limo service.
The One Thing Worth Splurging On
A great photographer. Seriously folks, hire a great photographer and you won't regret it!! Your wedding photos will be what you look back on to remember the details of your day, and it's so important to have ones you're proud of and that truly capture all the magic. A great photographer can also do wonders with what they have - even if you don't have the most ideal backdrop for a photo they can make it look amazing with some artful focus or composition.
When hiring a photographer make sure to look at their full portfolio; see if you like their style, if they're consistent with editing techniques, if the overall mood of the photos fits your personal taste. It's also a good idea to hire a photographer that comes with an assistant photographer - this way you get double the photos and more angles of the ceremony. It also allows the photographers to be in two places at once, especially helpful for taking getting-ready photos.
You also want to find a photographer that gives you full rights to your photos - after all you want to be able to print as many copies as you like, make photobooks, send photos to your local newspaper for your announcement, post them on Facebook and other social media, or even possibly submit them to be featured in bridal magazines. Without a letter stating you have full ownership and publishing rights to your photos you'd be unable to do any of that without going through your photographer every time (and doing so would cost you extra money each time).
And don't forget to quiz any potential photographer on things that may go awry and how they'd handle it... just in case. A personal emergency came up and they were unable to photograph your wedding at the last minute? (They should have some photographer associates of equal or better caliber they can call on to fill in for them at no additional cost to you) If a camera or lens gets dropped on the big day? (They should have backup equipment with them as well as extra fully-charged batteries). A great, experienced photographer should have a game plan for anything that may come up and still get you beautiful photos of the day despite any challenges that may arise.
Photos from our wedding were featured on New Hampshire Bride Magazine's website, Maggie Sottero's website, and in Super Chevy Magazine.
All photos by Steve Holmes Photography
Disclaimer: Please note this post shares my opinion and prices and information mentioned are based on our experience of planning our wedding five years ago. *Prices and packages from vendors that we used may have changed.*
I've been very busy around the house lately, working on a lot of spring cleaning and garden projects.
It seems like there isn't enough time to get it all done... raking, weeding, mulching, planting our veggie garden, cleaning out the closets and donating/consigning our unwanted warmer weather clothing... just a few of the things on my to-do list. Whew.
But you certainly can't beat lilac season! These beauties are from our next door neighbor and a reminder to stop and smell the roses (or lilacs) no matter how much there is to get done.
Happy Spring from Birch Landing Home!
Well, I finally did it! I ran my first Half Marathon :)
Finally completing a Half has been about seven years overdue. I got stress fractures training for one in 2009 and gave up running long distances for awhile after that. But this time with a great plan by my sister-in-law that focused on interval training over long distance runs I was finally able to accomplish my goal injury-free. I'm very thankful that I was able to do it, along with all the support I got from family and friends, and especially my husband.
If any New Englanders are looking for a great Half Marathon to run, I'd highly recommend the Maine Coast Half. It was great, fun race with beautiful ocean views - and you get Shipyard beers at the end ;)
Now that I've done this Half, I'm looking forward to focusing more on the blog and my Etsy shop again - so look for more coming soon from Birch Landing Home!