Entries Tagged as 'everyday'

settling in.

Posted on: Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ann-Marie Loves

This past weekend we moved to a new place and I’ve been feeling all the emotions (as you do when you’re about to pop out another human being). It’s SO EXCITING to have a cute little place to call our own. I am so eager to get everything unpacked and make it feel like home, I just wish my giant pregnant body could move a little faster!

Ann-Marie Loves

John and I have been agonizing over where we wanted to start this next chapter of our lives for months. We both work in Los Angeles but our families live in the suburbs just outside of the city limits so we were torn over what we should do. Was it worth it to have a shorter commute but pay more in rent and daycare (LA is expensive!)? Or was it worth it to be closer to grandparents and pay a little less but spend more time fighting traffic everyday? Trust me, it was a huge debate that I thought would never end. Finally, after a hormonally-fueled meltdown, I decided that we needed to stay close to family at this stage in our lives. John agreed. Once we made our decision, we found a place almost instantly and the two of us breathed a collective sigh of relief. Plus, we have a washer / dryer AND a dishwasher!! Basically, I’m high on rental life right now.

Ann-Marie Loves

I’m already so grateful that we prioritized staying close to grandparents because I want to ensure that Briar maintains the slightest shred of normalcy as we throw curveballs her way over the next few weeks. She has a new home with a new bed and will have a new brother in a matter of days. It’s a lot for me (an almost thirty year old) to wrap my brain around; I can only imagine how overwhelming it is for a toddler! But like every significant change before, I know she will roll with the punches better than her dad or myself! I envy that kind of blind faith that comes with childhood.

Ann-Marie Loves

I’m also kicking myself a little bit for spending so much of this summer feeling stressed about the future and how things would (if ever!) come together. It’s times like these when I wish I had the foresight to trust in the universe and just enjoy each stage (not matter how “imperfect”). Worrying is such an epic waste of precious energy.

Note to self: GO WITH THE FLOW.

apple + peanut butter cookies.

Posted on: Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Apple + Peanut Butter Cookies | Ann-Marie Loves

Recently I was asked what my favorite snack is and it took me a moment to figure it out. I’ve been through many different snack phases but right now I am deep in an apple and peanut butter “cookies” stage of life. They’re basically the perfect combination of sweet and crunchy that sometimes I forget I’m not actually eating a real cookie! Okay, that’s a lie. I never forget ;) But honestly, I feel like these are even better than a real cookie!

Apple + Peanut Butter Cookies | Ann-Marie Loves

I think the reason that I love this particular snack so much is that it takes approximately one minute to make and that’s about the max amount of time that I am willing to invest in a snack. All you need is an apple, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and Craisins…that’s it! I take the apple, cut it into thin slices, and then layer it with all the aforementioned toppings.

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This is a great snack food but I’ll also eat it for breakfast or for dessert!

diy magic foam.

Posted on: Thursday, September 1, 2016

DIY Magic Foam | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt like I exhausted every one of my tried-and-true toddler activities by early afternoon. We played with play dough. We watched many an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We read several of her favorite stories. We went to Gymboree and Target and Starbucks. We did just about everything (including her taking a much-too-short nap) But nothing seemed to hold her attention long enough for me to get a little work done. So! I finally realized that I needed to call for backup and consult Pinterest for new ideas. Lo and behold, I spotted a recipe for creating amazing colored magic foam and knew we had to try it!

DIY Magic Foam | Ann-Marie Loves

The ingredients are pretty basic: 1/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup of Dawn soap, 1 tbsp of cornstarch, and a few drops of food coloring mixed together at a high speed. I used a KitchenAid stand mixer but I know that a hand mixer would work just as well.

DIY Magic Foam | Ann-Marie Loves

With Briar as my trusty assistant, we made the first round of magic foam. I’m not sure who was more impressed: the toddler or her mom! It’s so much fun to watch simple ingredients turn into such a cool sensory experience.

DIY Magic Foam | Ann-Marie Loves

I made about four batches which was enough to create a shallow layer around Briar’s water table. She had a blast playing in the colored magic foam with her water toys. That is, until she got a taste of it. I should warn you that this is a very cool diy just so long as your child knows not to put it in her mouth. Just ask Briar ;)

DIY Magic Foam | Ann-Marie Loves

Luckily, her first (and hopefully last) taste of soap was not enough to deter her from playing. This simple activity proved to be a big hit (minus the minor taste test snafu) and it bought me a nice chunk of time to get a little work done. It’s all about the small victories, right?

frozen cookie dough.

Posted on: Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

My nesting urge is manifesting in unfamiliar ways these days, specifically in the kitchen. I’ve been thinking a lot about having meals and snacks on hand and ready at a moment’s notice for those crazy early days of newbornhood. After spending an afternoon with my inspiring friend (and mama of three), I realized the one thing I was missing in my life was having frozen cookie dough on hand!

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

If I can only have one dessert for the rest of my life, it is, without a doubt, cookie dough. Cookies are great and all, but I’m just here for the dough. However, I know other people (ahem, my husband) enjoy the finished product, so having cookie dough on hand to make a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies is ideal.

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

The instructions are pretty easy: make your favorite cookie dough recipe and then prepare it for the freezer. I always use my mom’s favorite recipe, which can be found here.

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

Once you cookie dough has been thoroughly mixed, grab a sheet of parchment paper and roll the dough into a cylindrical shape using your hands. I found that it was much easier to mold the dough once I wrapped the paper all the way around it, so don’t worry if you can’t get a nice shape right off the bat.

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

Finally, secure the dough with a few rubber bands and toss into your freezer until you’re ready for cookies at a moment’s notice!

 

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life with a two year old.

Posted on: Monday, August 22, 2016

Life With a Toddler | Ann-Marie Loves

I realize we are only a few weeks in, but life with a two year old is…so much fun. So much work, so much frustration, so much to learn, but so much fun. I swear Briar woke up on her second birthday and was suddenly a new person. She speaks in full sentences, she says words I had no clue that she knew, she is starting to count and recognize letters, and she can throw one heck of a tantrum ;)

Life With a Toddler | Ann-Marie Loves

How cute is this cape??

Briar and I spend most of our days together and although there are (many) moments that I envy those with full-time jobs away from home, I wouldn’t trade this time with her for ANYTHING. Someone that I love and respect as a mother recently told me that even though I often feel like my life is a mess and I have no idea what I am doing, I’m right where I need to be when it comes to raising Briar. She encouraged me to view all the time I get to spend with Briar as an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I’ll never get back, so I might as well enjoy it and not wish it away. That simple shift in perspective has really changed my mindset for the better and gotten me through a lot of looooong days. I know Briar better than anyone else and it feels incredible to be the one (along with John) that she turns to when she needs comforting. John and I make plenty of mistakes but when I see Briar’s face light up when she sees us, I know we must be doing something right.

Life With a Toddler | Ann-Marie Loves

The other day as we were walking up stairs, Briar pushed on my legs and said “quicker Mama, quicker!” Quicker? No idea where she learned that.  When she colors with markers and inevitably gets ink on her hands, she demands that I take her to “wash your hands!” as soon as possible. She has definite opinions about her wardrobe (and the wardrobes of others) and often exclaims “cute!” or “pwetty!” when a certain look agrees with her. The best is when she loves something that Dada is wearing (“Cute, Dada!”) – ha! Every morning when she wakes up, she likes to run through the roster of her family members / animals and their whereabouts (“Dada is at work? Uncle is sleeping? Mac is at his house?”). Briar is now a fan of accessories (hats and glasses are her favorites) and will finally let us put her hair in a ponytail. Running errands with her is getting to be a little bit trickier and a little less frequent because she would much rather walk (read: run) than sit in a cart. But most importantly, Briar has been saying “I love you, Mama!” out of the blue, and THAT makes every difficult moment totally worth it :)

Here are a few of our must-have toddler items that we use on a daily basis:

Life With a Two Year Old | Ann-Marie Loves

01. Camelback Kids Water Bottles. We’ve tried a lot of different water bottles over the past two years, but this specific brand and model works perfectly for little hands and never spills! Plus, Briar loves pushing the button and watching the spout pop out!

02. Beaba Multiportion Serving Tray. So I bought this back when Briar was an infant when I had high hopes of making her homemade purées. But as it turned out, Briar was never much for being fed with a spoon by others and instead took to baby led weaning so she could feed herself. However! All was not lost with this tray. In fact, it has become my favorite way to serve Briar meals because the serving sizes are perfect for toddler appetites and it allows me to offer her a wide range of foods in one container.

03. Honest Company Conditioning Detangler. Having a daughter with wildly curly hair has proven to be a bit of a challenge. Not only is it tricky to style but it tangles so easily. Everyday we spritz her hair with Honest Detangler and carefully work out the knots with a soft-bristled brush.

04. GoGo Squeeze Applesauce Packets. Okay, these are not only great for stashing in my backpack and passing to Briar in the backseat to quell any hangriness but I love them too! Even in her pickiest moments, I can almost always get Briar to eat applesauce.

05. Kindle Fire + Kid’s Case. Say what you will about screen time but it has proven to be a very helpful asset to have in our back pocket. Not only is it handy for moments when I need Briar to calm down and stay in one place for a few minutes but I know she has learned so much from the shows we let her watch, especially Sarah + Duck! We bought Briar her own tablet and kid-safe case a few months ago and she can navigate Netflix with the best of them (Sarah + Duck, Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Hive, and anything with Mickey Mouse in it are her faves).

06. 360 Degree Toothbrush. I don’t know about you but it’s hard to brush baby teeth! Briar either flat out refuses to have her teeth brushed or she chews on the brush as we try to work it around her mouth. Luckily, this particular brush has bristles that go all the way around the handle which allows us to reach her top and bottom teeth in one fell swoop. Such a genius concept.

simple activities to keep toddlers busy.

Posted on: Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Simple Activities to Keep Toddlers Busy | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m always on the lookout for simple ways to keep Briar entertained, especially during these insanely hot summer months when the last thing I want to do is go outside. After a little trial and error, I’ve come across three foolproof methods for keeping Briar occupied for short periods of time and thought I would pass them along to you!

01. Crayons. I turned a pack of basic Crayola crayons into hearts recently and they have been in heavy rotation around here. Briar loves to color and often summons those around her to help her draw “apple, nanas (bananas), and duck!” (Always in that order.)

02. Stickers. I’ve been obsessed with stickers as far back as I can remember (Stickopotamus, anyone?), so it comes as no surprise that I’ve passed my love on to Briar. These neon dot stickers from the office supply section are less than two dollars and make Briar just as happy as any Disney or animal-themed sticker. Of course she loves to stick them to walls like any other toddler, but when I’m on top of things, I’ll redirect her sticker-ing to scratch pieces of paper or notebooks.

03. Pompoms. I picked up a pack of pink, orange, and red pompoms from Target and they have been some of the best three dollars and ninety nine cents I’ve ever spent! Briar loves to sort them into small bowls or the multi-portion silicone container that we use for snacks.

these three things: podcast edition.

Posted on: Friday, July 29, 2016

These Three Things: Podcast Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

On Wednesday, John and I took advantage of our upgrade eligibility and bought ourselves new phones. Even though we’ve had iPhones for years, there’s nothing quite like a brand new toy with 64 gigs of free space just waiting to be filled up! In fact, one of the first things I did (aside from download all the apps I had to delete from my last phone for severe lack of space) was take a 40 second video BECAUSE I COULD. Oh man, I feel like I have a whole new lease on life! And of course, having all this free space also means that I can take advantage of the podcast app and subscribe to allllll my favorite podcasts.

Here are three episodes that I listened to my commute yesterday:

Bitch Sesh. I could write a novel about how much I live for this Real Housewives-themed podcast each week…my love for Casey + Danielle knows no bounds! So I was particularly thrilled to find out that I could listen to the recording of their live show in LA from a few days ago, especially since I was SUPER bummed about not scoring tickets to it in time (luckily I snagged one for their next show in August!). Oh man, it did not disappoint. I barely noticed any 405 freeway traffic because I was too busy laughing hysterically.

Young House Love Has a Podcast. I recently discovered this podcast and was psyched when I realized their latest episode was focused on sponsored posts. My mind was BLOWN with how much Emily Henderson commands for a single post…so inspiring! This is a must-listen for any bloggers or social media influencers looking to gain more insight into the mystery of paid posts.

One Part Podcast. I adore this show and really enjoyed the latest episode with Julia Turshen. I find Julia to be so endearing and relatable, plus Jessica is always a gem.

What are you guys listening to these days?

early motherhood in one sentence.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Early Motherhood in One Sentence | Ann-Marie Loves

“I do feel that as my children grow [they’ll] be able to join in the problem solving side of things, but for now I feel mostly like a cruise director, keeping everyone blissfully occupied while constantly on the look-out for icebergs.” – C. Jane Kendrick

getting back into regular blogging.

Posted on: Monday, July 25, 2016

Getting Back Into Regular Blogging | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m in a good season of life right now as a mom and as a creative. Like I’ve mentioned before, as soon as Briar began sleeping through the night and her daily nap subsequently became a consistent thing, I felt like myself again. Sleep is hugely important in my world and even though I had grown accustomed to interrupted sleep with a baby, I hadn’t fully realized the toll it took on my whole life. I was basically running at half speed! Now it’s no wonder my creativity took a serious nosedive and my general outlook on life was, well…dim. I say all this knowing that I’m about to reenter another sleepless season, but this time I have the foresight to know that this too shall pass. That one day I will put both of my kids down for bed, turn off the light, and know that I have a good ten to twelve hours before they will wake up again. My baby is almost TWO and I swear to you, I feel like John and I just brought her home from the hospital. Time flies.

Getting Back Into Regular Blogging | Ann-Marie Loves

So anyways, back to blogging.

A few months back, I had a super productive weekend in which I took photos for blog posts and sponsored Instagram posts way ahead of time (with lots of help from my husband) and I felt SO GOOD about myself for the whole week after. I knew then and there that I needed to take advantage of having John around on weekends, not only for watching Briar but for taking photos of me that I could use for upcoming projects and posts. Now it’s become a regular occurrence. I keep a running list of blog posts I want to write and photos I want to take. Then on Fridays, I’ll write out the blog posts that I want to shoot over the weekend in my planner and prepare ahead so that my time and John’s time is used wisely and we can focus on more important things…like taking Briar swimming! I love sitting down at the computer on Sunday night and editing all the photos from the weekend and dropping them into blog post drafts (with the words to be added later). It has become one of my favorite weekly rituals as it not only helps me feel like I’m staying one step ahead but it also keeps my creativity humming consistently.

Getting Back Into Regular Blogging | Ann-Marie Loves

I’ve also really been enjoying the challenge of partnering with various brands to create occasional sponsored content. Of course I love being compensated for my time and ideas but I also really love having to push myself to create posts that feel in line with my own style and voice while showcasing another brand. It’s an exciting creative challenge, for sure! I get pitched potential collaborations on a regular basis but I’ve finally come to the point where I refuse to work for free, UNLESS it’s for a product that I would already be buying or for a really good friend / cause that I believe in. Like everyone else in this world, I have bills to pay, and sadly I can’t pay for them with free shoes. I don’t say this to sound pompous or self-serving; I say this to empower anyone who is in a similar boat as me. It’s taken years and a lot of encouragement from others, but I’ve finally realized that I deserve to be paid for my time and effort, just like every other non-blogging professional. I want the same for you!

Getting Back Into Regular Blogging | Ann-Marie Loves

But most importantly, blogging on a regular basis has been FUN. I’ve been writing about the things that interest me instead of worrying about whether my content is on trend or what I may have written about in the past, and it has definitely helped to keep the momentum going. I’m sure my pace will slow down over the next couple of months, but for now, I am enjoying this creative challenge all over again!

P.S. What kinds of posts would you like to see here?

backyard camping + kohl’s giveaway.

Posted on: Friday, July 22, 2016

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

I grew up camping fairly often, both with my family and with Girl Scouts, and I have incredible memories of sitting around campfires, sleeping in tents, and waking up to fresh air. There’s nothing quite like spending time in the great outdoors, yet for some reason I’ve become that person that values warm showers and air conditioning over tasty s’mores and sleeping under the stars. However! I am determined to give camping another go simply because I know Briar will absolutely LOVE it. That girl has never met a pile of dirt that she didn’t love and I owe it to her to give her as many outdoor experiences as possible.

So while I warm up to the idea of spending a few nights in nature, I’ve decided we can tackle the next best thing: backyard camping! In partnership with Kohl’s, we pulled together our camping essentials and “roughed” it in the backyard for a fun-filled adventure.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

First things first: coffee!

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Using the impossibly cool blue enamelware percolator + mugs from Stansport, I was able to enjoy a fresh batch of coffee while Briar enjoyed a cold mug of milk.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Things were off to a very good start.

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We put together a little dining area and enjoyed popcorn made with Stanley’s 13-piece prep and cook mess set. Briar was all about the popcorn situation. She loved sneaking in bites and scooping spoonfuls back and forth between the bowls using the big ladle (which she quickly adopted as her own).

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Cheers to dining al fresco!

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

The ciao! baby portable high chair proved to be super helpful when it came to feeding this little gal. The cup holder kept her water bottle close at hand and the easy-to-clean surface was perfect for quick clean-up after polishing off a whole bowl of popcorn!

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

In addition to acting as the perfect makeshift table, the Stanley 30-quart cooler kept our beverages nice and cool during a blazing hot summer day.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Okay, how awesome is this tent?! I love the retro feel and was pleasantly surprised with how roomy it was inside! It felt very Moonrise Kingdom. Briar was also a big fan of turning the LED lantern on and off, on and off…

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

We quickly made ourselves right at home and read Briar’s favorite stories by the light of the lantern. It was such a relaxing evening and I loved having that cuddle time with my girl outside while a cool breeze blew through our tent.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Our first camping experience was a success! I’m feeling a little more confident now about taking our adventures on the road to a more remote destination. Three cheers for the great outdoors!

 

Now it’s your turn to stock up on camping goods! Click HERE be entered to win a $50 Kohl’s gift card! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends 8/1/16 at 11:59:59 p.m. PT. Open to legal residents of the US/DC who are 18+ yrs of age. For full details see Official Rules. Good luck! Winners will be contacted on or about August 8th.

Thank you to Kohl’s for collaboration on this post. I was compensated and received products from Kohl’s Camping department for my review, but all opinions and experiences are solely my own.

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