Finally Donated my Hair!

Donating my hair has been a bucket list item since Middle School and I finally did it! In the past I could never seem to get it long enough before needing to get it cut, or I had highlights at the time (most places will not accept blonde highlighted hair because of the bleach) - but finally it was long enough and highlight-free so I went for it :)

I’m sending these 10 inches in to Children with Hair Loss which provides hair pieces and wigs to children and young adults with medically-related hair loss at no cost. I hope it can be put to good use for someone who needs it.

Donating 10 inches to Children with Hair Loss.
Finally donated my hair - 10 inches gone!

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Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!  Today we stopped by the garden center to pick up some lavender plants for our deck.  Lavender not only smells and looks beautiful but it can help as a natural bug repellent.  Win-win! 

Earth Day 2019

I’ve also updated my Amazon Storefront to include a list of “Green Living” products and ideas to help you live like it’s Earth Day every day - because it is!

Birch Landing Home's Amazon Storefront

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Inheriting Family Recipes - Interview in The Wall Street Journal

I was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about inheriting family history through recipe cards.  I was honored to share a little bit of my Great Aunt Stefie’s legacy and love for cooking with them.  WSJ also interviewed experts on the best way to preserve these treasures!  You can find the article in print in today’s newspaper as well as online. 

Saving Memories, Dish by Dish - Wall Street Journal Interview

( If you'd like to read the full article without subscribing, the Twitter link from Leah Latella, photo editor from WSJ should hopefully get you there )

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Giving Back - Who We Donated to This Year

A tradition I started two years ago was to donate a percentage of profits from my Etsy shop and blog at year-end to Charity.  I’m so happy to say that this year we were able to help support The American Cancer Society in addition to our donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Thank you so much for all your support for my Etsy shop and blog this past year, I hope to continue to grow them and be able to give back more each year in return. 

Birch Landing Home Giving Back

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Tips for Perfect Christmas Cookies + Boston Family Entertainment Giveaway!

Christmas is right around the corner and boy has it sneaked up fast! It’s always hard coming up with gift ideas for family and friends… but these days we’re personally trying to cut back on the amount of “stuff” we buy and give, and focus more on homemade items and experiences for gifts. What better gift than something made with love and the opportunity to create lasting memories? Read on for my tips to make the Perfect Christmas Cookies and then be sure to enter the amazing Boston Family Entertainment Giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win some spectacular tickets to Boston-area events!
| This post is sponsored and contains affiliate links |

Tips for Perfect Christmas Cookies + Giveaway!

5 Tips for Perfect Christmas Cookies

Sift

Make sure to sift all your dry ingredients. Doing this breaks up any clumps of flour or baking soda, combines everything evenly, and helps make your cookies light and fluffy.

Parchment Paper

Always line your cookie sheet with parchment paper, this is key to getting the cookie bottoms that perfect light golden brown. If you're planning on doing several batches of cookies make sure to round the corners of the parchment with some scissors first, as the sharp corners of the paper can start to burn after a few times in the oven.

Cookie Scoop

A cookie scoop is probably one of the best little investments you'll make in the kitchen and I don't know how I ever lived without mine. Using a cookie scoop ensures you get uniform-sized cookies every time and makes the whole process of getting your cookies ready for the oven go so much faster.

Time

Always bake your cookies for the lower suggested time.  Cookies that are just cooked all the way through make for the softest, chewiest cookies.  If they aren't cooked in the middle yet you can always put them back in for another minute or two, but it's best to start with the lowest time.  

Your Secret Weapon - the "Bread Trick"

Accidentally over-cook the cookies?  Forget to cover them on the counter?  Believe it or not, the magical solution for over-cooked or stale cookies is just a slice of sandwich bread and a big ziplock.  Put all the cookies in a gallon ziplock bag, throw in a slice of bread, seal, and leave for a few hours - the cookies will get softer as the bread gets staler.  Magic!  


Boston Family Entertainment Giveaway
There is so much to see and do for families visiting Boston. We have an amazing Boston Family Entertainment Package that will mean loads of family fun for one lucky winner! Get those Perfect Christmas Cookies Ready! Today's giveaway has been brought to you by the following sponsors: This holiday season, consider experience such as tickets to a show, museum passes or a gift certificate for other fun family entertainment. Experience gifts are a great way to help families create lasting memories.

Ultimate Boston Family Entertainment Package

One lucky winner is going to receive the Ultimate Boston Entertainment Giveaway Package that includes:
  • (4) tickets to Bricktacular at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston (every weekend in Dec.)
  • (4) tickets to Blue Man Group (to be used after Jan. 1st)
  • (4) tickets to American Girl LIVE, a new musical featuring the iconic American Girl characters playing at the Boch Center, Feb. 22-24 (for Friday, Feb. 22 at 7:00 pm)
  • (4) tickets to Archery Games Boston (can be used anytime)
  • Dinner for 4 at South Street Diner (can be used anytime)

Boston Entertainment Giveaway

Official Rules and Conditions: One winner will receive the Ultimate Boston Entertainment Prize Package. No cash value. Open worldwide to adults 18+. One (1) winner will be chosen. Prize must be claimed within 48 hours of announcement or a new winner will be drawn. Prize will be delivered electronically. All entries will be verified. This giveaway is in no way associated with Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Rafflecopter, or any other entity unless otherwise specified. Giveaway ends 12/16/2018. Enter using the widget below. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out all the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways!

Click to Enter More Giveaways

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Giving Back 2018

Did you know I donate a percentage of profits from Birch Landing Home (blog + Etsy shop) at year-end?  So every time you place an order or visit my blog that donation gets the chance to grow.  Last year I was able to donate to St. Jude and Susan G. Komen.

I haven’t decided where this year’s donation is going yet so if you have a favorite charity please share!

Giving Tuesday

#givingtuesday #giveback

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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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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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