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Amazon Influencers now have categories which makes browsing my Favorite Finds so much easier!  Check out my lists and let me know if you have any questions on the products - I have different lists for Home, Kitchen Favorites, DIY Supplies + Tools, Fashion + Beauty, Outdoors, and Baby + Kid Items. 
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Mission Accomplished: First Half-Marathon

Well, I finally did it!  I ran my first Half Marathon :)  

Shipyard Maine Coast Half Marathon 2016

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.  

 Before the start of the race, so nervous!  

Before the start of the race, so nervous!  

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!  

 After the race is done!  Ahhhhh...

After the race is done!  Ahhhhh...

Related posts from Birch Landing Home:  

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Family Weekend in Ogunquit, Maine on a Budget

Last Friday we decided at the last minute to spend the weekend in Ogunquit, Maine - the weather looked great, my husband was itching to take some Milky Way photos, and it had been too long since we did a little family trip.  It was also right before "the season" starts, which meant that there would be less crowds and cheaper hotel rooms (yes!).  All-in-all as a family of three we spent less than $175 for the whole weekend, including the hotel room, so I would call that a huge success!  

Family Weekend in Ogunquit Maine on a Budget by Birch Landing Home

For hotel we stayed at The Beachmere Inn which is conveniently located right on the Marginal Way, a 1.25 mile scenic walkway following the edge of the ocean.  Even though we were calling for reservations the day before, The Beachmere thankfully still had a few rooms available.  We opted for the least expensive one ($100+tax, which was this particular room's preseason rate).  It was a nice, modest room with a queen sized bed in the Victorian building of the hotel complex.  This room didn't quite have the view that most rooms at the hotel have, but we didn't mind since we knew we'd be out walking most of the day and then to bed early with our little one.  

  The Beachmere Inn

The Beachmere Inn

 
  The view from our private balcony.  

The view from our private balcony.  

To save a little extra money we packed our lunches from home for that first day.  We got to the hotel around lunch time and since our room was ready they let us check in early (very nice!).  We were able to enjoy our lunch on our own private balcony overlooking the great lawn of the hotel.  

That afternoon was spent wandering up and down the Marginal Way and walking into town to explore some of the little shops and buy some delicious pastries at Bread & Roses Bakery.  We highly recommend their Cinnamon Butter Puffs and our daughter was a big fan of the massive chocolate chip cookies bigger than her head (no surprise there).  

  Running along the ocean = perfection.   

Running along the ocean = perfection.  

Mid-afternoon Daddy watched Miss M so I could get a training run in.  I ran four miles along the Marginal Way and through the high-end coastal neighborhoods, and even did a short stretch of running in the sand on Ogunquit Beach.  This run has to be the most fun and scenic I have done to date - why can't all runs be so pretty?

Dinner options in Ogunquit were a bit limited as it's still the "off season" (many seasonal businesses and seasonal rates start April 14th).  So we opted to drive up the road a few minutes to the Moody Beach area and have dinner at Jake's Seafood where we ate our weight in delicious fried seafood.  The bill for the three of us came in at $40, which was a little more than we were expecting but splurging on fried food is pretty much a must-do of any seaside trip.  

  The views along the Marginal Way are breathtaking.  

The views along the Marginal Way are breathtaking.  

A peaceful scene along the Marginal Way in Maine.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and played outside a bit before turning in early.  Adrian was planning to get up at 3AM to capture some Milky Way shots as long as the weather cooperated.  Luckily for him, the clouds held off and he was able to just walk off the hotel lawn and get some amazing Milky Way and sunrise shots (you can see more of his photos on his Instagram, @adrianpelletier).  

The next morning we enjoyed a nice continental breakfast at the hotel.  They had coffee, tea, cereal, bagels, fruit, and yogurt as well as selection of locally made donuts.  (I had yogurt with granola and a very delicious Boston creme donut, because you know, balance.)  

  Bread & Roses Bakery - so much deliciousness!  

Bread & Roses Bakery - so much deliciousness!  

After breakfast we walked back into town to do some last minute poking around and pick up more pastries from Bread & Roses to bring home, between our two trips here we spent about $20.  Then we went to Ogunquit Beach to let our little one run around and play in the sand a bit.  It was brisk but sunny and we pretty much had the whole beach to ourselves.  After that we decided to check out a little early and head home to catch Miss M's nap, but if we had stayed in Ogunquit for lunch we would have grabbed some sandwiches from The Village Market, which looked yummy and reasonably priced and had a picnic on the beach or along the Marginal Way.  

Overall it was a great, affordable weekend in Ogunquit.  Lots of beautiful views, good food, exploring downtown, running and photo adventures, and, most importantly, some quality family time.  

 Early morning walk along the Marginal Way.  

Early morning walk along the Marginal Way.  

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Getting Back into Running

I've never been a fast runner at all, in fact I'm definitely more of a "slogger" (slow jogger) - but it doesn't matter how fast or slow you run as long as you're getting out there.  I used to run pretty regularly but took a break from it for awhile after getting stress fractures training for my first half marathon years ago.  After that I ran when I felt like it but never seriously and never with a big goal in mind.  | This post contains affiliate links |

Getting back into running.  #motherrunner

Since we're hoping to try for baby #2 later this year I'm working on my "Pre-Baby Bucket List", which includes finally running a Half Marathon.  While I'm sure I'll be able to cover the distance, I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it in the strict timeline set for the course since I'm such a slow runner - but here's hoping!  I've been following a wonderful training plan made by my sister-in-law (who has a Masters in ESS), that includes a lot of interval runs, stretches, and one long run a week to help minimize my risk of injury again.  

Along with following a great plan that builds mileage slowly and includes varied runs and cross-training, I thought I'd share some of my favorite running must-haves:  

Good Sneakers.  I can't say how important it is to have the right kind of running shoe.  Don't just go by what looks cute and feels comfortable at the store - go to a running specialty store and be properly fit for your gait and foot type.  (Also, if you have any inkling that you may have something going on with your feet don't hesitate to see a podiatrist too.  I was properly fit for sneakers but still hurt my foot because I had a structural issue that could only be identified with x-rays and helped with custom orthotics.)  

Running Belt. These little belts are handy for carrying your phone, keys, and fuels for those long runs. I've really liked the SPIbelt because it's very streamline - the pouch stays small and stretches to fit your items so they don't bounce around.

Running App.  I've found using a running app to be very helpful.  It reminds me what pace I'm currently running, as well as distance and elapsed time.  It's a great tool to keep on track and follow your progress.  I've been using the free version of Runkeeper for years and love it but have also heard great things about the app Strava too, so I think I will give that app a try once my half marathon training is done.  

Reflective Vest. If you're doing any running on the road at all it's very important to be seen. Wearing a bright reflective vest gives traffic a better opportunity to see you and keep you safe.

Road ID. Do you run with your driver's license and medical info on you? I didn't think so, which is why you really should have a Road ID. I've never needed it - and hope to never need it (knock on wood) - but it's so important to have, especially if you run solo. These totally customizable IDs are lightweight, sporty, and streamline but contain important information like your name, year of birth, emergency contact info, and medical information that paramedics may need if you had an accident (God forbid) or have passed out.

Pssst... I have a $5 Gift Card to RoadID to share with the first five people that purchase using this link. You're welcome :)

Running Stroller. If you're going to do any training with your little ones in tow, it's important to have a great stroller that you can take on those runs. We have a BOB and it's perfect for running on back roads and flat trails. These strollers can be expensive though, so don't be afraid to look for one second-hand - we got ours for only $40!

There are also a few items I haven't used yet but would love to try, including recovery sandals (which look amazing!), hydration belts and packs, and compression sleeves. Getting back into running has been fun and rewarding and I'm hoping to improve my distances and times more and more. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can finish my half marathon in the allotted time! ;)

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Cheers to 2016!

Every time the New Year comes around it really gets me motivated.  I want to overhaul everything in the house, with Birch Landing Home, and my fitness goals and this year is no different.  

Happy New Year!  Time to make resolutions.

I've decided to take most of January to focus on our home:  it's time to do our yearly closet purge, deep clean all the carpets, and reorganize the dumping ground that our basement has become.  While I haven't read the book myself yet, I have read a lot of articles on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I'd like to try to use these techniques to purge more unused items from our home.  Though I can't make too many promises on this front.. I can be pretty sentimental about little things so we'll see how far I get.

I have big goals for Birch Landing Home too and I want to grow my Etsy shop and blog in many ways.  I'm planning on expanding to more New England-inspired decor in the shop including signs, handmade boxes, and painted sap buckets (don't worry, we'll still have our signature hand-etched ornaments available).  I'd also like to get our products carried at more local retailers too.  
The blog will still be a mix of DIY projects, product reviews, and lessons learned as first-time parents but there will a be a stronger underlying New England vibe to it.  I'd like to blog more about our favorite places to visit in NE as a family as well as showcase more great local products and makers (by the way, if you're a New England-based maker and want to collaborate this year please send me a message).  

And then there's fitness goals.. every year I say I want to get back into running and while I did run a lot more this year than I have in a while, I still didn't get to where I want to be.  So this year I want to make the push to finally run a half-marathon!  For those of you who aren't familiar with my running backstory, I was training for a half-marathon about six years ago when I suffered a couple stress fractures, mostly due to a structural issue with my foot (which I now wear orthotics for).  
We're hoping to expand our family again within the next year or two and so I feel this year will be my last chance to try for a half marathon again before I'm too pregnant or busy with a newborn to seriously run for awhile.  

Start your New Year's Resolutions now!

Whew, so those are my top goals for 2016!  Wishing everyone lots of health, happiness, and success in the New Year - cheers!  

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Reflections and Resolutions (Happy New Year!)

Hope everyone had a wonderful and safe New Years!  With a little one now I spent my evening like I do most.. putting her to bed, working on Birch Landing things, then curling up on the couch to watch some TV with the hubby.  
Pretty wild and crazy, huh?  I wouldn't have it any other way.  

Happy New Year from Birch Landing Home - Reflections and Resolutions

Reflections

This has been a pretty big year for me, for us:  Becoming a new mom with ten million new things to learn (and am still learning), getting into the groove of staying home full-time with our little one, starting this little Etsy business, and getting a photo of our ornaments into Martha Stewart Living, to name just a few of the amazing things that happened this year.  We're very blessed and I am so very thankful.  

Resolutions

What's New Years without some personal resolutions?
1.  I'd love to get back into running.  I ran pretty regularly until I was 8 months pregnant, stopped, and then never really got back into it but it's about time I do.
2.  Ruthlessly cleaning out and reorganizing the basement and closets is also a priority.  We have too much stuff (and I have wayyy too many clothes), it's time to lighten that load.  
3.  And of course I'd love to grow this little business as much as I can - I have lots of ideas for wedding decorations, decor, and accessories all in a rustic theme.  I'm planning on phasing out some items in my shop over the next few months to transition Birch Landing Home into its new identity.  You can expect our Etsy shop to officially find its niche in 2015.

I want to thank you all for giving me a great start in 2014 and I'm looking forward to making 2015 even more successful!  

Cheers!

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