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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instax camera love.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Instax Camera Love | Ann-Marie Loves

I recently found my old Instax camera and it has been a blast taking photos of Briar and sharing my love of photography in all forms with her. With the instant gratification of iPhones and digital cameras, the novelty of having to wait and see how an Instax photo turns out is super exciting. As soon as Briar saw the first photo pop out of the camera, she was intrigued. And THEN when it finally developed, well, let’s just say she was pretttttty impressed. (Toddlers make for the best audiences.)

Instax Camera Love | Ann-Marie Loves

This particular roll of film has been in the camera (and exposed to heat and cold) for over two years, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the photos turned out! The only minor imperfections are those three vertical dots on each photo but I kind of love them.

Instax Camera Love | Ann-Marie Loves

The reddish photo in the middle is of Briar’s thumb – ha! I tried to set up the shot and just have her press the button but clearly she had a different idea for the art direction ;) I can respect that.

Instax Camera Love | Ann-Marie Loves

This past Sunday was a particularly rough day in the land of raising a two year old, but the minute I busted out the Instax and let Briar play with it, both of our moods changed for the better. She toted the camera around, pretending to take photos of her toys and of plants and of mama, while I got to use the big camera to capture her in all of her adorableness. I’d say that’s a win-win.

Instax Camera Love | Ann-Marie Loves

Instax Camera Love | Ann-Marie Loves

Instax Camera Love | Ann-Marie Loves

John and I have talked about buying Briar her own camera one day soon. Nothing too fancy or expensive, just something that could capture the way she sees the world and foster her creative spirit.

Instax Camera Love | Ann-Marie Loves

Instax Camera Love | Ann-Marie Loves

Cheeeeeeese!

easy toddler meals.

Posted on: Friday, August 26, 2016

Toddler Foods | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar has always been a great eater. She’s taken everything from breast milk to formula to cow’s milk to just about every food you can imagine with no problems at all. I thought we were in the clear when it came to pickiness…that is, until recently. (Mom Lesson #235: Never assume you’re in the clear.) Over the past two-ish months, Briar has grown very particular about what she will and won’t eat. One day she will favor a food and then the next day she wants nothing to do with it. Needless to say, mealtimes have become a bit of a challenge.

Toddler Foods | Ann-Marie Loves

But after much trial and error, I’ve figured out that the best way to get her to eat is to offer her a wide range of simple foods in small portions. That way, we don’t waste too much and I can gauge what foods she is digging on that particular day for future meals.

Toddler Foods | Ann-Marie Loves

Using our beloved multiportion serving tray, I will fill up most of the slots with a rotating mix of tried-and-true finger foods: berries, cheese slices, Goldfish crackers, turkey, graham crackers, broccoli, bananas, beans, pasta, avocados, eggs (hard-boiled or scrambled), tangerines, pancakes, bananas, and occasionally a few chocolate chips (or “chips” as Briar calls them). She never eats everything that I offer but at least it gets her to eat something. And at this stage in the game, I’ll take something over nothing.

Toddler Foods | Ann-Marie Loves

I’ve also found that if I offer her a utensil to eat her food, she’s much more likely to dig in. I’m keeping the faith that this too is just a phase (pleasepleaseplease) and eventually Briar will go back to being an adventurous eater. But until then, I’m trying to stay patient (keyword: trying) and following her lead.

Any tricks for combatting toddler pickiness?

 

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34 weeks.

Posted on: Thursday, August 25, 2016

34 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

34 weeks! This is insane, you guys. I think I say it every week, but seriously, where has the time gone? At this stage in the game, I’m feeling alllllll the feelings — excitement, nervousness, delight, overwhelm — sometimes all within a few minutes of each other! The emotional roller coaster is real.

34 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

My body is feeling stretched further than it felt when I was pregnant with Briar. I wake up at least three times a night to use the bathroom. I don’t go anywhere without the antacids within arm’s reach. I am forever out of breath and am shocked at how tired I feel after performing the simplest of activities. But the strange thing is, I love it. I love being pregnant and I know I’ll miss it as soon as he’s here. But I also know that it will feel amazing to sleep on my stomach and drink wine and wear my wedding ring again. So there you have it. Pregnancy, much like every other facet of motherhood, is a mixed bag of tricks.

34 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

I’ve made it almost 35 weeks before I really gave any thought to the birth process, but here I am, feeling a bit nervous about doing it all over again. I can’t decide if the second time around is easier because you know what to expect or if the second time is harder because you know what to expect? I know it’s going to hurt like a mother but I can’t remember exactly what it feels like. It’s all worth it, of course, and clearly I wasn’t scared away after having Briar, but the fear of the unknown has been slowly creeping back into my subconscious. Especially in the middle of the night after getting up to use the bathroom for the umpteenth time. #pregprobs

34 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

There are lots of things that need to get done before baby arrives (i.e. packing a hospital bag, reinstalling the infant car seat, washing tiny clothes), but there are also a few fun things that I want to do while I still have the time. Like reread Dad Is Fat. And take lots of naps. And go places by myself. And shower Briar with my undivided attention for a few weeks longer.

34 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

I’ve begun daydreaming about all the fun moments to come and that always helps to quell my nerves. I’m excited for the weather to cool down a bit so I can take my two babies on long walks! I’m excited for Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas! I’m excited for all the photo ops! Heck, I’m even excited to run errands with them just so I can prove to myself that it can be done! I know it’s going to be a ton of work but I feel up to the challenge.

34 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

These next few weeks are going to be crazy!

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peach + strawberry mini pies.

Posted on: Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

The other day I was scrolling through my Instagram Stories feed and found myself mesmerized by Leah of Freutcake’s making of mini pies. I must have rewatched her short videos at least five times because not only did her cute little mini pies look delicious, but they looked DOABLE to someone like me who usually lacks the patience for baking. So yesterday I picked up the supplies to make mini pies and tried it out for myself!

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

Using Leah’s recipe as my guide, I stuck as closely to her instructions as possible but instead of rhubarb, I used peaches to go with the strawberries. P.S. How pretty do these fruits look together?

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

Creating the pie filling was my favorite part. It’s a mix of strawberries, peaches, lemon zest, cornstarch, and sugar cooked over medium heat in a saucepan for about six minutes and it smells divine! Of course I had to sample it after turning the heat off and I then realized it would make for a super easy, super tasty jam for rolls or biscuits. I’m adding that to my repertoire for future reference…

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

Next, I applied a large spoonful of the pie filling onto the dough. I should mention that I used a Pillsbury pre-made dough that simply had to be rolled out and cut into circles (I used a mug since I didn’t have a circular cookie cutter on hand). Maybe one day I’ll be adventurous enough to make my own dough, but for this time, the pre-made stuff was perfect.

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves
Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

After the filling was added, I placed a same-sized dough circle on top of each bottom and used a fork around the edges to secure the two layers together. Then I brushed an egg mix over the top of each pie and placed a tiny bit more of the filling along with chocolate chips over that for a bit of embellishment.

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

After baking in the oven for twenty minutes at 375 degrees, I was thrilled to see the final product! These mini pies turned out SO well and totally boosted my confidence as a novice baker! I don’t know why I’ve always viewed pie-making as a difficult baking endeavor but I am now happy to report that although it’s time-consuming, it’s very easy to do!

What should I make next?

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baby boy album.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

Happy Tuesday! Today I’m back with another installment in my ongoing baby boy album. I kept things pretty simple (as usual) so I could get more done in the short bursts of time that I have to create.

Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

Supplies: Baby On Board Digital Stamps // BasicGrey Spice Market Waterfall Pack // Project Life Page Protectors // Photo Paper

Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

This book is getting bigger and bigger all the time and that thrills me to no end!

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.

2016 album.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 16, 2016

2016 Album | Ann-Marie Loves

Happy Tuesday! I’m writing this blog post as one baby kicks me in the ribs, the other baby tries her hardest to hit the power button on my laptop when she thinks I’m not looking, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse plays in the background. Real life, y’all.

I’ve received a few questions regarding the printer I use for my photos, and honestly you guys, it’s a cheapo HP Deskjet 2130 that I bought on Amazon for $40 last year. Seriously. I’m a firm believer in maximizing the printer you have (no matter how basic or how fancy) by choosing the right settings for photo printing and using quality photo paper. I find that printing my photos and printables at home is a million times easier than ordering prints from a store because I can customize the size of each picture exactly to my liking AND squeeze in more creative time, as a result.

Here’s my latest pages that I made for my 2016 album:

2016 Album | Ann-Marie Loves

I have so many BasicGrey supplies that I’ve completely forgotten about and am now realizing are perfect for Briar pages. I’m guilty of only wanting to use the latest + greatest products on my projects, but this industry moves too fast to keep up! I love the colors in this line and am so happy to have rediscovered the Spice Market line from a few years back.

2016 Album | Ann-Marie Loves

Supplies: Studio Calico Page Protector / Patterned Paper / Die Cuts / Gold StaplesBlack Pen

2016 Album | Ann-Marie Loves

This particular page was completely inspired by the “Wish This Could Last Forever” card from Push Print Studio. I adore the colors and I knew I had the perfect photos to fit the sentiment. I made the little four-photo collage of Briar’s many cheesy faces in Photoshop and then threw in the photo of John wearing Briar’s sunglasses (much to her delight). Those two crack me up.

Supplies: BasicGrey Divided Page Protector / Journaling Card / Floral Patterned Paper

2016 Album | Ann-Marie Loves

And as always, my little photo assistant needed to sign off on the project before I posted. She approved ;)

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