Fall Morning at the Lake with Harding Lane

Fall this year has been a crazy weather-wise in New England - it’s rained practically every-other-day for the last two months and we even had a Nor’easter, complete with snow, before Halloween. The weather hasn’t lended to us getting out of the house much lately, so when there was a break in the rain this weekend (finally!) we ran down to the lake to enjoy the quiet docks. | This post contains affiliate links and an honest review of product provided by Harding Lane |

New England Style | Harding Lane

Typically the docks are bustling with boats, people fishing, and kids swimming at the beach nearby, but now that November is here most people have closed up their camps and put the boats away for the winter - leaving the docks and the lake all to ourselves. After a busy summer, it’s nice to enjoy the peace and quiet.

With the cool breeze down by the water, this hat from Harding Lane is the perfect finishing touch. I really love the needlepoint design which makes it so unique. Harding Lane is a Massachusetts-based company with many hats and other accessories to choose from, all with beautifully (and ethically!) made and manufactured needlepoint designs most of which are New England and coastal-inspired.

New England Style | Harding Lane

Another thing that I love about Harding Lane is they give back - donating a percentage of annual profits to The Trustees of Reservations which helps preserve land and cultural treasures of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Giving back and supporting businesses that give back is something I feel is very important. So if you’re looking for the perfect finishing touch to your weekend or everyday look, be sure to check out this wonderful and caring New England-based brand!

New England Style | Harding Lane
New England Style | Harding Lane

Shop my Outfit:

- This post contains an honest review of product provided by Harding Lane but all opinions expressed are my own.  Please see our full Disclosure Policy for more information -   

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New England Maker: Two Little Beans & Co.

As you know by now, I love sharing about companies and products we love on the blog and our Instagram - and most especially those made right here in New England.  Next in our series of interviews from New England Makers, we have Kristina Grabarz of Two Little Beans & Co!   

New England Maker: Two Little Beans & Co.

Two Little Beans & Co. is best known for their beautiful bibs, booties, and apparel for babies and small children - and especially their Maine/coastal-inspired designs!

Tell me a little about yourself and your business.

I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Biology. A few years after graduating, I moved back to Maine with my husband and worked in a Microbiology lab for almost 7 years. Shortly after the birth of my second son, I transitioned to being a full time stay at home mom. I’ve always been a creative and around this time sewing grew into the perfect creative outlet for me. Two Little Beans & Co. specializes in handcrafted goods for baby, including baby booties, bibs and apparel.

New England Maker: Two Little Beans & Co.

How did you start Two Little Beans & Co.? Had you been making baby goods for awhile or was this a new leap for you?

When both of my boys were babies, I sewed quilts and blankets for them. When my youngest was little, I took a real need to find him a pair of shoes that fit (and stayed on) and developed the pattern for our booties. The current pattern is based off of his feet and I was able to design the booties to grow with him with a non-slip soft sole to help when he eventually started walking. I started to make them as gifts for family and friends and was encouraged to turn this into a business!

What does a typical day look like for you?

Each day is a little bit different depending on if my boys are in school or not. There are three days that they are both in school and those days start with getting out of the house early for school drop-offs and running back home to work. I try to get as much as possible done during those days so that the remainder of the week can be a little less chaotic (haha!). Depending on the week, it’s finding a few minutes whenever I can find it, always keeping my fingers crossed for a good nap out of my littlest one!

New England Maker: Two Little Beans & Co.

What is your favorite part about owning your own company? And least favorite part?

I will always love seeing a new baby wearing a pair of booties or outfit that I’ve made. It’s so special that customers believe in the quality and designs of my products enough to dress their baby in them.

My least favorite part is probably all of the behind the scenes bookkeeping and paperwork that goes into running your own business. I don’t mind working on the numbers but I would much rather be picking out new fabric!

New England Maker: Two Little Beans & Co.

What has been the most exciting moment for Two Little Beans & Co. since you started?

It’s been so surreal to have my products featured in a few local magazines and newspapers but when Michael Phelps posted a picture of his son Boomer on his first Christmas wearing my lobster bib – that was definitely exciting to see!

What advice do you have for people just starting out?

I have a quote hanging on my sewing machine that says “nothing in this world is created without passion” and I truly believe that if you love something and put your mind to it, you can accomplish it (with a BIG side of hard work!). I would also say, learn everything you can about what it is you want to do. I went into this with zero experience or knowledge about business. I do a ton of reading, listening to business podcasts and researching every aspect of running a small business.

New England Maker: Two Little Beans & Co.

What is your long-term goal? Where do you see yourself in five years?

I definitely plan to continue to grow this business over the next five years. Our booties and bibs continue to be the most popular pieces and I want to expand those options but I’ve also been working on some nursery décor items that I would love to put out there over the next year or so. I’ve also brought on another Mom to help part-time with production, which means I can work to continue to expand the wholesale side of Two Little Beans too.

Who’s one of your favorite New England Makers?

Erin Flett – Love her bright, bold colors and designs!

Keep Up with Two Little Beans & Co.!

New England Maker: Two Little Beans & Co.

All photos courtesy of Two Little Beans & Co.


DO YOU OWN A NEW ENGLAND-BASED BUSINESS AND WOULD LIKE TO BE FEATURED IN AN UPCOMING INTERVIEW?  OR WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN HAVING ME STYLE, REVIEW, AND FEATURE ONE OF YOUR PRODUCTS?  
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Town and Country Tote + GIVEAWAY!

As a mom of two little ones, I’m always on the hunt for a stylish way to haul our gear when we’re out and about - which is where Town and Country Tote comes in! They are the perfect solution for your diaper or work bag. | This post contains an honest review of product provided by Town and Country Tote |

Town and Country Tote + Giveaway!

Town and Country Tote is a small business that offers quality, Made in USA classic tote bags with a twist - these tote bags come in a variety of colors and patterns as well as a really handy durable canvas insert that organizes all your gear perfectly! I just love the variety of compartments in the organizer, and how it’s set up like it’s own little filing system with everything at your fingertips!

Town and Country Tote + Giveaway!
Town and Country Tote + Giveaway!

These classic tote bags are super versatile and would make the perfect diaper, work, or gym bag for both women and men. They also offer great personalization options which can machine embroider, hand embroider, or hand paint your monogram and/or coordinating stripes on the tote bag. These special details really set the bag apart from others and make it unique and beautiful as well as practical!

Town and Country Tote + Giveaway!
Town and Country Tote + Giveaway!

Want to win a Custom Tote Bag for yourself?

Go over to my Instagram (@birchlandinghome), like our Town and Country Tote post, follow both accounts, and tag a friend! Winner will get to choose a Classic Tote Bag with the personalization option of their choice - up to a $160 value!

  Giveaway Ends 10/31/18 at 5PM EST.

Giveaway Ends 10/31/18 at 5PM EST.


Town and Country Tote + Giveaway!

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- This post contains an honest review of product provided by Town and Country Tote, LLC but all opinions expressed are my own.  Please see our full Disclosure Policy for more information -   

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Getting Ahead on Our Christmas Cards with Basic Invite

Typically I am such a procrastinator when it comes to ordering our Christmas cards. I always have good intentions on getting a jump start on them but things always get busier and busier as November comes along. — But not this year! This year I’m happy to say I got them done early - and perfectly - with some help from Basic Invite.
| This is a sponsored post with my honest feedback of Basic Invite |

Our Christmas Card!

^ Our Christmas Cards 2018 !

This was my first time using Basic Invite and I can honestly say that I was very impressed! Basic Invite has tons (over 500 actually) of Christmas and holiday card designs to choose from so the hardest part was picking my favorite design! I decided to go with a cute elf design for our unique holiday photo cards to compliment our own little elves.

But what really blew me away with Basic Invite’s designs? You can customize just about every single detail! Want to make the elves’ shoes purple? You can do that, and choose from many shades of purple to boot. The ability to change all the colors on their card designs - from the background, to the text, to the details - is just incredible with over 180 color options to choose from. This feature is incredibly useful, especially for something like wedding invitations since you can customize all the colors to your exact theme. They also offer over 40 colors of self-seal envelopes to choose from too, so even your envelopes can be on-point.

Basic Invite is also one of the few websites that gives customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation - that way you can see exactly how it will print as well as feel the paper quality before placing your final order. And when it comes time to place your final order, you can order exactly how many you need - that way you don’t get stuck purchasing card sets in wasteful large lots (a huge pet peeve of mine).

Basic Invite also offers lots of great holiday cards buisness to choose from too! Sending out cards from your business is a smart marketing move and can help boost sales and repeat business in the coming year.

Right now Basic Invite is offering 30% off with the coupon code “HOLI30” - order now and get ahead on your Holiday cards too!

Here are some great holiday card examples from Basic Invite:

Keep up with Basic Invite

- This post was sponsored by Basic Invite but all opinions expressed are my own.  Please see our full Disclosure Policy for more information -   

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New England Maker: Sara Fitz Studio

As you know by now, I love sharing about companies and products we love on the blog and our Instagram - and most especially those made right here in New England.  Next in our series of interviews from New England Makers, we have the Sara Fitzgerald O’Brien of Sara Fitz Studio!   

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

Sara Fitz is best known for her beautiful coastal-inspired watercolor prints and stationery. More recently they have expanded to carry fabric and wallpaper as well as home goods such as pillows, plates, and more!

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your business.

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

I'm the mom of two beautiful little boys and the wife of a super sweet guy named Miles. We've been married for almost 11 years.  I'm an artist and designer with a Master's in architecture and minors in visual arts and painting. I've been in the creative industry since about 2007 (on and off around having babies). Our family lives along the coast of Maine and frequents Nantucket Island. I'm constantly inspired by the beauty around me. We spend a lot of time at the beach, exploring seaside towns, and feeling grateful to love where we live. Together with Miles, I own Sara Fitz. Our company is a New England-centric lifestyle brand, launched in 2016.  Sara Fitz incorporates my watercolor illustrations onto a variety of goods; various lines including wallpaper, textiles, gift wrap, and other small-batch collections. The aesthetic of our brand is coastal and clean, yet detailed, colorful... with a bit of whimsy. My goal as an artist is to celebrate those simple everyday things that one comes across when they're in New England, like a vintage life jacket or a vase of hydrangeas. 

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

How did you start Sara Fitz Studio? Had you been making watercolors for a while or was this a new venture for you? How did you make the leap into offering home goods as well?

Back in 2007, prior to having our boys, I founded a custom stationery studio. It was focused solely on weddings and events, and the papers were designed around my watercolor artwork. I very much enjoyed my day-to-day and ran the studio happily for quite a few years.  When I found out we were having our second baby, I decided to take a step back from the industry to soak in all the amazing mama moments. I stayed home full-time with my kiddos (and loved every second, knowing it was a fleeting time). There was always the intent and desire to re-enter the industry in one way or another when the time was right. And Miles and I had dreamed of one day working together -- designing a family business. In 2016, our dream became reality and we officially launched Sara Fitz. In many ways, the company is a rebrand of my original studio, in that we continue to offer custom wedding stationery, as well as our lines of home goods. 

As far as watercolor goes, I've been enjoying the medium for as long as I can remember. Most people think of watercolor as lax and unbound. Funnily enough, what I thrive on is my ability to control it, to give it shape, detail, and crispness. I love the range of color one can achieve, the lightness, and the transparency. There's an authenticity to watercolor that I gravitate toward.

Expanding Sara Fitz into the lifestyle arena came somewhat gradually, but very intentionally. Both Miles and I grew up around interior designers (our moms) and find ourselves drawn to many aspects of design in our daily lives. It felt very natural to branch into collections that encompass what we enjoy most about design: simplicity and color, a coastal casual look. We began by introducing framed art prints and then gift wrap. This past summer we announced lines of wallpaper, textiles, pillows, dishware and a few other fun goods! It's been an exciting road!

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

What does a typical day look like for you?

I tend to be an early riser (when you have little ones, there's not much of a choice!). We start our day at about 6 a.m., taking our time with family breakfast and chatting about the day ahead. The boys head off to school and Miles and I have a quick work meeting to get on the same page. Often I'll spend some time in my studio painting (either a commission project, custom wedding or new design for the brand). I'll likely be on the phone quite a bit, and answering emails. When we're introducing a new product, there's a prototyping period that I really enjoy, including testing out/tweaking designs. Each day looks a bit different, and some are more creative than others, but I love so many aspects of running Sara Fitz and feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to pursue my goals for the company.  

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

What is your favorite part about owning your own company? And least favorite part?

My favorite part is the creativity... turning my ideas into reality. To see our products used and enjoyed by our clients is so satisfying. It brings me a lot of happiness. It means a lot to me and Miles that our boys can witness our hard work and determination, as well... and they take pride in Sara Fitz. That's quite special for us. 

My least favorite part? I think when you run your own business you want to do all the things. While wonderful, working for yourself can certainly be exhausting and stressful. It is definitely non-stop.  I struggle with feeling like I'm not accomplishing as much as I'd like.  (I'm a perfectionist, for sure -- so keeping that in check can be a challenge).

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

What has been the most exciting moment for Sara Fitz Studio since you started?

Honestly, there have been so many moments since we launched that have felt surreal. We've had the chance to work alongside some very inspiring people, which is always a treat! I'd say our recent home goods launch will stand out to me as an exciting achievement! There was a tremendous amount of effort put in behind the scenes, a team of people coming together, a lot of balls in the air. I'm proud of the direction we're headed.

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

What advice do you have for people just starting out?

I think the most important thing I'd say is to keep your eyes on your big picture. Remain authentic and true to your vision. I believe it's important to emphasize what makes us unique. Believe in yourself and your ideas and know that everything takes TIME... more time than you'd think, and a ton (a ton) of hard work. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Guidance and advice from others can really go a long way. Roadblocks will happen often, you've just got to stay motivated and push through. 

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

What is your long-term goal? Where do you see yourself in five years?

We have quite the long to-do list over here! Over the next few years, I'd be thrilled to continue doing what we've been doing, branching into the interior design arena with our product lines,  exploring new designs, and enhancing our existing collections. I love the idea of collaborating with other brands on creative projects and hope to do more of that in the future. Perhaps at some point, we'll have a small flagship shop that represents our brand.

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

Who’s one of your favorite New England makers?

There are so many talented makers in New England! One that never ceases to inspire me is Erin Flett. You know what she does that I just love so much? She cares. She sincerely cares about encouraging others, putting out positivity, and creating beautiful, happy products. I really appreciate and respect that :)

Sara Fitz Logo

Keep up with Sara Fitz Studio!


DO YOU OWN A NEW ENGLAND-BASED BUSINESS AND WOULD LIKE TO BE FEATURED IN AN UPCOMING INTERVIEW?  OR WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN HAVING ME STYLE, REVIEW, AND FEATURE ONE OF YOUR PRODUCTS?  
Please drop me a note.  


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DIY Library Tote Bag {FREE Printables for Iron-On Transfer!}

If you have kids you know how tricky it can be to keep track of library books in your home… you bring them home, read them on the couch, and then before you know it they’re mixed in with your own books and quickly forgotten… until you get that late notice from the library (ooops). The best way to keep track of them is to have a designated place to keep them - for us we made a special library tote that has served us well. We use it to bring home books from the library, and as we read them we make sure to return them to the tote so they’re never misplaced. I’ll show you exactly how I made ours, along with two free printables so you can make your own! | This post contains affiliate links |

DIY Library Tote {FREE Printable Designs for Iron-On Transfer!}

Materials:

How-To:

1. First, run your canvas tote bag through the washer and dryer - you need to make sure it’s clean and there’s no more sizing on it from manufacturing which might keep the iron-on transfer from adhering well.

2. Print out your design on the transfer paper. (Please note that the designs I have available for download are ready-to-print PDFs for printing on iron-on transfers, therefore they are already in mirror image - aka backwards.)
*You can find links to download our designs at the end of this post - there are two different designs to choose from!*

DIY Library Tote {FREE Printable Designs for Iron-On Transfer!}

3. Cut out the iron-on transfer design, leaving a border around the edge of the design to help ensure the design will adhere well to the fabric and not lift at the edges.

DIY Library Tote {FREE Printable Designs for Iron-On Transfer!}

4. Make sure to read the instructions for your particular brand of iron-on transfers as these next steps may vary slightly from brand to brand. For the transfers we used, the next step is to heat up the iron then pre-iron the bag to get rid of wrinkles and preheat the fabric for the transfer. Our directions recommend working on a hard surface with a piece of scrap fabric underneath.

5. Carefully place your design face down on the bag and iron it on using a LOT of pressure. I actually stand on a chair to put my full body weight down on it too. You want to iron over the whole design, paying particular attention to the edges to make sure it really adheres well.

DIY Library Tote {FREE Printable Designs for Iron-On Transfer!}

6. After going over your design like a thousand times (an exaggeration, but make sure you go over it a lot to adhere it well). Let it cool completely before carefully pulling the paper backing off and you’re done. Time to go to the library!

DIY Library Tote {FREE Printable Designs for Iron-On Transfer!}

Download FREE Printables for Iron-On Transfer Here:

 Explore Books Logo (prints to approximately 4”x5”)

Explore Books Logo (prints to approximately 4”x5”)

 Go on an Adventure Logo (prints to approximately 4.5”x4.75”)

Go on an Adventure Logo (prints to approximately 4.5”x4.75”)

*Please note that the downloaded PDF files will have the logos in MIRROR IMAGE (aka backwards), since it needs to be printed in reverse on the iron-on transfers.


Want to make a Custom Design?

Build Interactive on Creative Market

I made the designs for these library tote logos by using design files from my husband's Creative Market Shop. If you want to edit these designs or make your own, you can purchase the files from Creative Market and personalize them yourself!

The designs I used were from his Vintage Outdoor Travel Logos and Retro Industrial Logos, Volume 2 series.


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Bean Boot Buying + Styling Tips

Those iconic bean boots - everybody's wearing them and everybody wants them, but they can be hard to find!  Last year they were backordered for quite a while - this year I'm sure L.L. Bean will be well prepared and they will be a lot easier to find, but I'd still recommend buying early so you don't risk having to wait.  But before you order, there's some things you should know first!  | This post contains affiliate links |

Tips on Buying Bean Boots

Sizing

The sizing for L.L. Bean's "Bean Boots" is definitely kind of tricky and I'd highly recommend trying them on in-store before purchasing, even if you're going to order them online. Bean Boots only come in whole sizes and run BIG. For example, I typically wear a size 8-8.5 (sometimes even a 9) shoe but in Bean Boots I'm a size 7 and they still feel roomy. When trying on the boots make sure to wear what kind of socks you're planning on using them with (whether it's regular thin socks or thick ragg socks ), to get a better idea of the fit.

Women's Bean Boots come in two different rises too - 6" rise or 8" rise.  Try both on to see what's more comfortable and what style you like better.  I personally prefer the 8" rise - here in New England it's a bit more practical with the deeper snow in the winter and I also feel like it's the more classic style. 

L.L. Bean also makes Bean Boot Moccasins and some limited edition styles with fun colors and linings - there are so many options!  

IMG_6043.JPG

Where to Buy

During Fall and Winter when there's a big rush on Bean Boots and it may be very difficult to find the exact style and size you want in-store or even online.  You may need to shop around a bit to find what you're looking for.. or wait for your backordered item to come in.  L.L. Bean Outlet stores can be a great resource too!  Boots and other items that were ordered online and returned often end up at the outlets - and at a discount to boot!  (Ha, couldn't pass up a boot pun.)  In fact, I got my Bean Boots for 40% off at the outlets - now that's a great deal!  

One thing to keep in mind about outlet shopping is that they will likely have a large selection of bigger sizes of Bean Boots, and less of the smaller sizes... this is because so many people mistakenly order their normal size without realizing how big they run.  When I bought my Bean Boots at the Outlets, they had tons of sizes 8, 9, and 10 - and the ones I bought were literally the very last pair of size 7's.  

If you decide to purchase your Bean Boots online, keep in mind that coupons or regular L.L. Bean sales may not apply to them because they're such a popular item - you may have better luck earning some rebate money back on your purchase with a program like Ebates.

Styling

What doesn't go with Bean Boots?  Seriously - just about anything goes with them (I've even seen people wear them to their wedding!).  But really you can't go wrong with some fitted jeans, ragg socks, and a cozy pullover.  I've linked to some of my favorite L.L. Bean looks below and all would look great paired with Bean Boots.  

L.L. Bean Style

Scroll sideways to see more ->

Related Posts:  

Originally published 11/1/17

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DIY Wooden Teal Pumpkin | Teal Pumpkin Project

Every Halloween we participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project to promote awareness and inclusion of all trick-or-treaters, no matter their dietary restrictions.  Unfortunately a lot of kids have food allergies, ranging from mild to potentially very dangerous.  These allergies can include dairy, chocolate, nuts, soy, gluten, artificial dyes, and more.  These kids either can't participate in trick-or-treat or have to throw out most of what they get - and when you're a kid that's really rough.  
| This post contains affiliate links |

DIY Wooden Teal Pumpkin | Teal Pumpkin Project

By having a teal pumpkin out, you're letting kids and their parents know that your house is a safe place to trick-or-treat and you have non-food items available. These can be things like novelty pencils, erasers, stickers, bubbles, crayons, small toys, etc.  You can still give out the usual candy, but it's a good idea to keep the non-food items separate.  This is a great project to allow all kids a chance to feel included in trick-or-treat on Halloween. 

We usually paint a real pumpkin teal each year, but this year the squirrels and chipmunks have been eating all the decorations we put out on our porch (*shakes fist*). So yesterday afternoon during nap time I whipped up a Wooden Teal Pumpkin that can be used for many years to come. And the best part? It cost me NOTHING! I made it all with scraps from our wood bin and paint we already had.

Materials:

How to:

1. Cut your wood scraps down to size if necessary. You need one larger piece for the face, one small piece for the stem, and a piece for the support at the back (the support piece does not have to be triangular, that’s what I happened to have though).

FullSizeRender.jpg

2. Next attach the support piece of wood to the back of the large piece with a screw or nail.

IMG_9594.JPG

3. After that, give it at least two coats of teal paint. Paint it all over, including the sides and back.

IMG_9595.JPG
IMG_9597.JPG

4. Once that’s dry, use black paint to paint a jack-o-lantern face on it and paint the stem piece black as well.

5. Once everything is dry use wood glue to attach the stem to the top of the pumpkin and give a good spray of clear sealer if you’ll be putting it out not under the cover of a porch, etc.

And that’s it! Now you’re ready to put your teal pumpkin out to welcome all kids for Halloween. Happy Halloween!

IMG_9603.JPG

FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) has some wonderful resources on their website - including crowdsourcing maps to identify participating houses, printables you can use to proudly show your support and educate others, and fundraising opportunities to help fund food allergy research and awareness.

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