Shop My Favorite Finds on Amazon!

We're huge Amazon fans in this house - living out in the boonies like we do means that a lot of home and grocery shopping is done online and you can't beat Amazon for their selection and Prime shipping!  | This page contains affiliate links |

I've created a page on Amazon to showcase some of our favorite Amazon finds - everything from home, to beauty, to baby and kid items.  Items with a "speech bubble" in the corner means I've added a note about that item, just give it a click to see what I have to say about it.  

Feel free to check our Favorite Amazon Finds often since I'll be continuing to add more items as they come up.  

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Cataloging Past Family Christmas Cards

Creating our family's Christmas card each year is a tradition I greatly look forward to.  I especially love looking back at past years to see how much everyone has grown.  I used to tuck these old cards away in a drawer but I've found it much more accessible and enjoyable to put them within reach, displayed in a special photo album.  | This post contains affiliate links |

Cataloging Past Family Christmas Cards

Luckily, we've always done 5x7 inch photo cards which fit perfectly inside a festive perfectly-sized photo album I found on Amazon. If you've done different sized or odd-sized cards through the years, it might make the most sense to use a big scrapbook to chronicle them. Just make sure to order an extra card to add to the album each year and cherish the memories!

Cataloging Past Family Christmas Cards
TIP:  Create a photo album with your family's yearly Christmas Cards

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Mom Hack: Creating a Nursing Nest

For those new mamas that breastfeed, it can be an exhausting and draining ordeal at the beginning.  Expectations are high but reality is that's it's often much harder than expected.  One way to make it easier on yourself is to set up a "nursing nest" to make those marathon nursing sessions at 2AM (and all other hours of the day and night) easier to handle.  | This post contains affiliate links |

Mom Hack:  Creating a "Nursing Nest"

First you'll need to set up somewhere convenient and quiet.  I set up my "nest" in a corner of our master bedroom since our baby will be sleeping in a co-sleeper next to us and I wouldn't have to go far to nurse in the middle of the night. 

Then outfit this area with all that you need for nursing:

  • cozy rocking chair with footrest
  • side table within easy reach
  • nursing pillow
  • blanket
  • water bottle
  • extra pillow
  • snacks (mine are tucked away in the drawer)
  • clock
  • phone charger
  • lanolin cream
  • books, magazines, kindle
  • phone (watching Netflix on my phone was sometimes the only way I could keep myself awake)
Mom Hack:  Creating a Nursing Nest - set yourself up for success!

By setting yourself up to make it as easy as possible, you can help make those super-tough early weeks a bit more bearable.  Breastfeeding can be one of the most challenging - and rewarding - things you'll ever do.  Hang in there Mama - you got this!  

Mom Hack:  Creating a Nursing Nest
Mom Hack:  Creating a Nursing Nest
Mom Hack:  Creating a Nursing Nest

Log Cabin pillow c/o Hills & Trails

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A Family Outing with L.L. Bean

Whew, this post was a long time coming!  The end of our pregnancy really knocked me for a loop as did the reality check of having a newborn again (how you forget these things!).  So the past couple of weeks really has been a whirlwind.  Thankfully L.L. Bean had been kind enough to send me their new diaper tote insert to try along with their large boat tote bag and it's been so helpful to carry around our gear as a new family of four.  
| This post contains affiliate links as well as an honest review of products provided by L.L. Bean |

A Family Outing with L.L. Bean - L.L. Bean Diaper Tote Insert and Boat Tote Bag

Since we got home from the hospital after the birth of our little one, we've kept our outings pretty minimal - grocery store, doctor appointments, school, that sort of thing.  But now that momma is feeling better and baby has been doing well it's high time we get back outside and enjoy this beautiful weather before the snow flies.  

So much room and so easily organized!

So much room and so easily organized!

L.L. Bean Diaper Tote Insert

Packing a diaper bag is always a little tricky - and even more-so when you have both a newborn and a toddler! After all, you don't want to be caught without a necessity, but you don't want to overpack either. Thankfully using the Diaper Tote Insert has made packing so much easier. In the insert I am able to pack all the necessities like a changing mat (which is included!), diapers, wipes, a change of clothes for the newborn, small first aid kit, nursing cover, bottles, etc - all in handy pockets and zippered compartments.

L.L. Bean Diaper Insert and Boat Tote Bags

After the Insert is packed it's easily interchangeable between a Medium or Large Boat Tote Bag, depending on what fits your needs best. We've found that putting the insert in the Medium Tote works perfectly for grocery trips, school drop-offs, errands etc. The insert fits snuggly inside with all your necessities.

For longer outings we've really loved putting the insert in the Large Tote (with long handles), which allows for extra room along each side of the insert as well as at the bottom of the bag.  This additional room gives plenty of space for extra changes of clothes, blankets, toys, etc and the long handles make it a breeze to carry, even if you're juggling two kids.  

Getting ready to use our L.L. Bean Boat Tote and Diaper Insert

By using the Boat Tote Bags as diaper bags, they really pull double duty!  Their classic looks never go out of style and by going with a simple last initial monogram for the large bag, it becomes something that will grow with us and can be repurposed by anyone in our family.  By picking something classic like this you won't be stuck with a diaper-specific bag that you'll never use again, and that's so important.  

L.L. Bean Boat Tote and Diaper Organizer

This past weekend we finally got out of the house as a family of four and headed to do something fun - and what better way to take advantage of this beautiful day than spending time down by the lake and hitting up the playground before visiting family.  

Since we were going to be out for the full day, I made sure to pack the insert in the Large Boat Tote so I could pack extra supplies for everyone - and it's a good thing I did!  Right before we left our toddler got her pants all dirty playing in the wet sand at the edge of the water so it was great to have clean clothes packed for her for the rest of the day.  

We had a lot of fun exploring around this brick boathouse from the 1900's!

We had a lot of fun exploring around this brick boathouse from the 1900's!

A family outing with L.L. Bean

Diaper Bag Must-Haves

Wearing baby makes it easier when you're out and about!
  • changing pad

  • diapers

  • wipes

  • baggies for dirty diapers and soiled clothes

  • nursing cover

  • change of clothes for baby

  • small first aid kit

  • hand sanitizer

  • wrap carrier

  • pacifier (and a backup one!)

  • snacks and water for mom and older siblings

  • bottles

  • formula

  • a small receiving blanket or swaddle blanket

  • small toy or book

Overall, having the versatility of this diaper tote organizer has been so helpful!  And I especially love that I can easily switch it between bags on the way out the door to best fit our needs for the day.  

L.L. Bean Style

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- I received the Large Boat Tote and Diaper Tote Insert from L.L. Bean but all opinions expressed are my own.  Please see our full Disclosure Policy for more information.  Thank you to L.L. Bean for providing these items to me for review. -   

All outdoor photos by Adrian Pelletier Photography.  

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Even Harley is a fan!

Even Harley is a fan!

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Creating and Maintaining a Monthly Budget {Free Excel Spreadsheet}

With baby #2 coming, we've been more mindful than ever about where our money is going and working hard to stay on-budget.  By closely keeping track of everything we're getting a better idea on where everything is going and where we can shave off a few dollars.  With only one income and a lot of expenses (both expected and unexpected) it can make it very challenging to stay on-budget each month.  

Creating and Maintaining a Monthly Budget - FREE Customizable Excel Spreadsheet

Here I've shared a more simplified version of the spreadsheet we use (since we're self-employed we also need to set aside money for quarterly taxes and other expenses).  You can change the Expense titles in the left hand column to fit your needs, but I've tried to include all the basic expenses that most young adults will have.  

Next replace the monthly Income in the example with your own monthly income (I had to put in a number here as an example so the formulas wouldn't result in error).  Then go down the Budget column and fill in what you expect or budget your bills to be.  As your bills come in, put in these figures in the Actual Spent column.  All of the percentages and totals will auto-update as you fill in the chart.  

Over the course of the next few months, you'll see how your expectations (Budget) line up with reality (Actual Spent) and will be able to identify trends.  Maybe you spend more for Gas than you thought you did.. or maybe you realize that you spend too much on Entertainment and should put some of that towards other bills...?  Keeping track of where everything is going is very eye-opening and will help you stay ahead.  The most important thing is writing everything down and sticking to it!  




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Easy DIY Book Rails

In our daughter's small bedroom, space is at a premium.  We try hard to make the most of the space and keep the floor as open as possible to help the room feel a little bigger and give her more area to play.  On one wall of her room, there is a very shallow nook I wasn't sure what to do with but wanted to make it an efficient use of space.  After some thought, I decided building some custom book storage would be the perfect solution.  

DIY Book Rails, Book Ledge, Storage.  Kids Room / Nursery

Materials:  

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  • 1x3 boards
  • 1x2 boards
  • screws
  • wood glue
  • spackle
  • level
  • painters tape

How-To:  

1.  Cut the wood the desired length of the rail shelf.  You will need two 1x3 boards and one 1x2 board for each rail.  

2.  Line up the boards as shown below (the wide ones on the bottom and back, and the narrow one at the front).  Pre-drill, then glue the edges, and secure with wood screws.  

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3.  Once it's dried and secure, spackle the screw holes, let dry, and then apply 3 coats of paint (I used semi-gloss trim paint).  

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4.  Next mark the location of the studs and the approximate spacing of the book rails.  I could have easily put three rails in this space but I didn't want our toddler trying to climb it like a ladder, so I decided to only do two.  

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5.  Center the book rails in the space and use a level to hang the book rails, pre-drilling and screwing the book rails into the wall studs.  

Leveling the book rails for hanging.

6.  Decorate and add your books!  While these are pretty sturdy, I would recommend being mindful of the weight put on the rails - don't put too many books or large, heavy books on them, especially since your little one will be reaching up to pull books off and you don't want anything heavy to topple off.  

And finally I decided to build a simple, sturdy narrow crate to hold our daughter's bigger, heavier books.  



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Cape Cod Inspired Toddler Room

It's been a long time coming, but we've finally moved our little one up to her "big girl room"!  Decorating and organizing this space has been a challenge since it's such a tiny room.  And while arrows, deer, and gold polka dots are all the rage right now, we wanted to get the biggest bang for our buck and go with a timeless, classic theme that our daughter can grow into.  | This post contains affiliate links |

Cape Cod Themed Toddler Room - Classic!

We decided to go with a blue, white, and yellow color scheme (which always reminds me of Cape Cod) and just a few decorative touches that can easily be changed out as our little one grows and tastes change.  Keeping everything pretty light in the room helps make it feel just a little bit bigger too.  

The bed and dresser came from Ikea and were very reasonably priced. In fact, these were my first purchases from Ikea EVER (gasp) and I was very impressed with the quality and sturdiness of them. While not shown in these photos, we have under-mattress bedrails that are typically on the bed so she doesn't roll out.

Country quilt and handmade sign for toddler room.
Love you to the moon and back

The bedding was one of the most reasonably priced quilt sets I could find and came from Amazon (*at the moment it's listed for double what I had paid, but Amazon pricing can change often so hopefully the price will come down again soon). I just love all the different blues, greens, and creams in the bedspread! It keeps with the Cape Cod color scheme and adds a country touch.

The "love you to the moon & back" sign was made by me and will be coming to our Etsy shop soon ;)  

Cape Cod themed toddler room

This little dormer was the perfect spot to tuck the dresser in as well as some decorative touches like the wooden oar, which was a freebie find. The custom name puzzle is from Amazon, and both the lamp and the curtains are from Wal-Mart.

Custom alphabet name printable by Birch Landing Home

We also added this Personalized Alphabet Printable from my Etsy shop as well, and our daughter loves finding the letters from her name in it.  

Custom moon bed and New England-based art.

This Moon Bed was a custom creation from my brother and sister-in-law as a gift for our baby shower - it makes the perfect spot for snuggling up with a good book and some stuffed animals. The starfish watercolor painting is by New England artist Jen Scully of Mack & Ro. I love how it compliments this corner with the "moon and stars" theme but also fits in perfectly with the overall coastal vibe of the room.

New England farm for toddler

What's New England without a farm? This little Pottery Barn table was a yard sale find (score!) and makes the perfect spot for a barnyard scene. The wooden barn is from Melissa and Doug but the animals are Little People (all yard sale finds again). The woven rope basket to hold accessories for the farm adds a coastal touch. This rope basket is old, but I've linked a very similar one here.

New England themed toddler room

This room has a very shallow alcove and to make the most of the space I built custom book rails in it for storage and display.  I debated on putting one more rail down lower but decided against it since I know our toddler would try to climb it like a ladder.  Instead, I made a custom narrow wooden crate to sit on the floor and hold her heavier books that I didn't want to put up on the wall.  

Custom book rails in tiny alcove - great use of space!

The book rails make for great storage that doesn't take up a lot of room, as well as gives us a chance to show of some of our current favorite books (including some fun New England-themed ones).  

Ready to Wake Clock is an important part of our toddler's room.

And last but not least, possibly the most important addition to our daughter's big girl room, the Ready to Wake Clock! I was a bit skeptical at first, but this clock really has been a lifesaver (and no, this is not a sponsored endorsement). Our daughter used to get up between 4-5AM everyday, but once she learned that she needs to stay in bed until the clock turns green she now sleeps to the decent hour (6:45AM) that we set her clock to (thank goodness!).

I've tried to link all my sources for the room but if there's anything I'm missing that you have a question on, please send me a message.  

Cape Cod Inspired Toddler Room by Birch Landing Home
Unique Toddler Room Details

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Reusable Weekly Planner - Plan your week, meals, and goals! {Free Printable}

For a while now I've been striving to get better about meal planning, so a few months ago I designed this weekly planner to keep in our kitchen and see if it helped.  After using this method for several months I'm happy to report that it has been a HUGE success and wanted to share it with all of you who may have staying organized, planning meals ahead of time, or reducing your grocery bill as goals for 2016!  

Reusable Weekly Planner Free Printable - to-do list, menu and meal planning, weekly goals

This weekly planner can either be printed and written on directly - or you can print, frame it, and simply write on the glass to keep reusing it (which is what I have done).  I love having it under glass because it means it's always on display and easy to refer to, and it saves a lot of paper and ink.  I didn't include too many photos of it it in our kitchen because it was so hard to photograph.. the glare from the glass makes a decent photograph nearly impossible.  

Reusable Weekly Planner in the kitchen
Pro-tip:  Write on the glass with a Sharpie to avoid smudges, then erase with a little 91% rubbing alcohol.  

Pro-tip:  Write on the glass with a Sharpie to avoid smudges, then erase with a little 91% rubbing alcohol.  

To write on the glass, you can use a fine-tip dry erase marker or a Sharpie marker.  I prefer the Sharpie because it writes cleaner and won't smudge.  

"But how to erase it!" you ask?  

No problem at all:  simply put a little 91% rubbing alcohol on a paper towel and it wipes off with no problem and no residue.  

Example

Example

Every Sunday I sit down and first fill in all the daily "to-dos" for the week.  These are things that have to happen that day, like appointments.  This gives me a sense of what the week will look like and how much time I may have to cook dinner that day, etc.  Days we won't be home means I don't have to cook (wahoo!).  Because I lay it all out ahead of time I can plan ahead for groceries... leftover potatoes from Monday can be thrown into Tuesday's chili.  The chicken I buy can be portioned out for dinner on Thursday and Friday.  Planning ahead means less waste and saving money in the long run (and you know how hard I try to save money on groceries).  

"Goals for the week" is where you put in projects and goals you can pick at over the course of the week when you get spare moments.  I feel like this list makes me more motivated (and accountable) to be productive when I have down time.  

Reusable Weekly Planner

{Download free PDF of our Reusable Weekly Planner HERE}

Reusable Weekly Planner Free Printable - to do list, menu planning, weekly goals

So that's my Reusable Weekly Planner!  It's been a huge help to keep me more organized, more motivated, and save more money on groceries.  I hope that it will be as helpful for you!  

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