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?  
Please drop me a note.  


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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!

Shop My Outfit:

- 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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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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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).

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

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

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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!

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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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Going “KonMari” on my Daughter’s Bureau

Our daughter’s bureau was a train wreck and I just couldn’t take it anymore. She’s been very much into picking out her own clothes lately and tends to dig around in her drawers until she finds what she wants, without putting anything back the way it was. Today I finally decided to tackle the disaster and emptied her bureau, folded everything in the “KonMari” style, and put it back with order.

 BEFORE

BEFORE

What’s the KonMari style? Well, technically the first step is to only keep what you truly love or use, and purge the rest (I pulled out a few items that she was starting to outgrow, but most of her clothes stayed). Then you fold everything uniformly so it can stand up in the drawers and be “filed,” allowing you to see everything at once. This is a great way to fold your clothes as you can see everything all at once and keeps you from falling into the rut of constantly wearing just what’s on top.

 AFTER

AFTER

As you can see I came up with a basic system for the drawer too - I grouped all her t-shirts together, then long-sleeve shirts, then sweatshirts and tank tops. (This folding technique also seems to be a lot more efficient as there’s even some empty space now!) I also tackled her other drawers too and tidied up her jeans, pants, and PJs. Overall I think it looks great and should help make getting ready for school in the morning a breeze.

How I organized it:

Going "KonMari" on my Daughter's Bureau:  AFTER

I already had my own drawers folded in the KonMari style and love it - it’s so nice being able to see all your options at once when you’re getting dressed in the morning. As for our daughter, I explained the new setup to her and she understands it (she was honestly really excited about her neat drawers when I first showed them to her) - but the reality is she’s five years old and there’s no way it’s going to stay this organized on it’s own. I also don’t think it’s worth nagging her over it to keep it this way, it’s really not a fair expectation for a five year old. So, we’ll see how long this lasts… I’ll do my best to tidy it up when I can and try to keep some semblance of order but it won’t always be picture-perfect and that’s okay. That’s life ;)

One Week Update: She actually kept the system perfectly! Just a few things had fallen over and one item was crumpled up and put back, but 95% of it was still perfect. I’m super impressed that an almost 5-year-old can keep the system that neat. But it goes to show, that if she can do it - so can you!

Related Post:

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Favorite Find: "Find Momo" Books

We’ve been huge fans of Momo for years (in fact he’s my celebrity crush! haha). If you’re on Instagram you likely know exactly who Momo is - he’s a sweet border collie who’s always playfully hiding while out on adventures with owner Andrew Knapp. | This post contains affiliate links |

“Find Momo” became an incredibly successful series on Andrew's Instagram that turned into three, and soon to be four, books. These books are great for grown ups and kids alike; our girls LOVE Momo, especially our 4 year old. She really enjoys looking through the pictures, trying to find Momo. It’s just like Where’s Waldo, but a whole lot cuter! When she was just learning to talk, she got a great sense of accomplishment finding him, pointing him out, and declaring "MOMO!"
We’re really looking forward to the fourth book, "Find Momo Across Europe" coming out later this winter and can't wait to see all the cool places Momo and Andrew have adventured to.

Favorite Finds:  "Find Momo" Books are perfect for all ages!

Shop “Find Momo” Books:

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Money Saving Tips for Back-to-School

Sending the kids back to school usually means shelling out a lot of money on school supplies, clothes, and more.  Here are some of my tips on how NOT to go broke this fall.  | This post contains affiliate links | 

Money Saving Tips for Back-to-School

Invest in a Good, Basic Backpack and Lunchbox

Question:  How many parents buy their kids new backpacks and lunchboxes every single year? 
Answer:  Wayyyy too many! 

There's really no reason to shell out money that often on items that can can stand the test of time if you pick them right. I highly suggest NOT picking a character or crazy pattern backpack or lunchbox. Kids' tastes change from year to year (and sometimes week to week), and if you pick themed or cheaply made items they will not last. Our general guideline is upgrading backpacks once every "big transition" in school - so one backpack to last kindergarten through elementary school, a new one to last through middle school, and then finally a new one for high school. We love solid-color backpacks from high-quality companies like LL Bean - you just know they're going to last and never go out of style. (Pro-tip: check out the Outlets to get great, name-brand backpacks for less!)

Consignment Shop for Back-to-School Clothes

If you've been following the blog for any amount of time now, you know I'm a big fan of consignment selling and shopping.  It's a great way to get rid of any clothes or shoes your kids might have outgrown or refuse to wear and make some money back to use on gently used, name-brand "new" items.  That way you're essentially "trading up" for new clothes, and spend a lot less out of pocket. 
{You can read more on my Consignment Selling and Shopping Tips HERE}

Quality backpack and clothes from a consignment shop stretch your back to school budget farther!

Buy Snacks in Bulk and/or Store Brand

If you pack your child's snacks and lunches the cost can definitely can add up over time.  One way to save is to buy in bulk whenever possible.  If you can buy prepackaged snacks in larger quantities the price-per-item is a lot lower.  Buying store brand items over name brand is another great way to save.  

Reusable Water Bottle

Juice boxes are expensive (and arguably unhealthy), so having your child take a reusable water bottle to school saves a lot of money and also helps keep their sugar intake in-check.

Reuse Last Year's School Supplies

Money Saving Tips for Back to School

A lot of times the school supply list will include things like a set of binders, markers, glue, a pencil case, etc.  Many times there's no reason to repurchase these things - they can often be reused from year-to-year.  Empty out the old papers from last years binders and reuse those.  And the makers, crayons, glue sticks, etc?  They likely have plenty of life left - no need to buy more just yet!  

Coupon and Rebate Apps

And of course, a great way to save if you need to buy items is to use coupons or rebates whenever you can. We really love Coupons.com for printing coupons and the rebate app Ibotta for earning money back on purchases. At the beginning of the school year, coupons and rebates on back-to-school items are usually plentiful, but make sure to only buy what you really need!

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Back-to-School Amazon Picks

It's almost that time!  Are you ready for back to school yet?  
I've put together a list of some of my favorite Amazon back-to-school finds for all ages and grade levels.  | This post contains affiliate links |

Back-to-School Amazon Favorites!

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