want what you want.

Posted on: Thursday, July 30, 2015

Want What You Want | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday I took myself on a solo date to my favorite coffee shop in my favorite city (I’ll give you one guess where that is!), listened to inspiring podcast episodes (this one, this one, and this one), and really allowed myself to dig deep. In doing so, I came to the startling realization that IT IS OKAY to want what we want. In fact, if we don’t acknowledge our deepest desires, how in the world will they ever come true?! When I think back on my life, there have been a few key moments where I am positive that I manifested my dreams. For example!

- After I graduated college at the onset of the recession (when I couldn’t even get a seasonal part-time job at the mall!), I was hell-bent on working in the scrapbooking industry. I had absolutely no idea how it would happen or what I would even do or how I could possibly find work in a Utah-based industry when I was a California resident. But everyday I would go on walks while listening to The Secret on my iPod (2009, y’all) and imagine being paid to play with paper until I could literally feel it in my bones. Fast forward to July 2010 and I was living in Orem, Utah and working as an in-house scrapbooker / product designer at American Crafts.

- I have always dreamed and journaled and talked about living in two of my favorite cities: San Diego and Pasadena. Both of those dreams have come to fruition.

- And finally, at the beginning of my senior year in high school, I kept a post-it note on my shelf (where I would see it as I put on my makeup everyday) with the Christina Aguilera lyric: “day by day, I’m going to get my way.” Within a matter of weeks, I started dating John (now my husband!) and a few months later, I was accepted into my college of choice.

I know this all sounds hokey and woo-woo and quite possibly, huge coincidences, but I truly believe that our thoughts create our reality. I’ve spent way too many days over the past year caught up in a fog of fearfulness and uncertainty. There have been some particularly dark moments where I could barely get out of bed, I was so terrified of what was around the corner. Having a baby in my life has filled my heart with more joy and pride than I could have ever dreamed (seriously, I could burst at any moment), but it has also brought a lot of my inner demons to the surface. I’ve gotten lost in the mindset of “this is not how it’s supposed to be” or “I should be at x-place by now and I’m only at y-place.” While I still have lots of work to do, my focus is much clearer now. I’m finally allowing myself to want what I want and to be completely at peace with those desires, no matter what others may think of them.


This our life, you guys! We have to open ourselves up to the possibility that AMAZING THINGS WILL HAPPEN if we work hard and trust that the universe has our back.

Have you ever manifested any of your dreams? I’d love to hear about it!

adventures at underwood farms.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Having grown up in Ventura County, I’ve been on many a trip to Underwood Farms in Moorpark. However, it had been years since my last visit and Briar had never been before, so John and I (along with Jamie, Kareem, and Luna!) decided it was high time to revisit the farm. We had an awesome time (despite the heat) exploring the grounds, visiting the animals (how amazing is that horse!), and digging in the fields for ripe strawberries and olallieberries. Sadly, Briar was developing a double ear infection that day (unbeknownst to us at the time), so she wasn’t her normal cheery self. But that’s okay…we’ll be back for Halloween festivities come October!

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

diy cheerios necklace for baby.

Posted on: Friday, July 24, 2015

DIY Cheerios Necklace for Babies | Ann-Marie Loves

If your baby is anything like my baby, she likes to snack. A LOT. From the time we introduced Briar to solid foods, she was pretty adamant about taking matters into her own hands (literally) and feeding herself. While this was frustrating at first, I’ve learned to view it as a huge help (I can eat my food while she eats hers!) and an amazing way to foster self-sufficiency.

Most of the time, I can plop Briar in her high chair, place her meal in bite-size pieces on her tray, and let her happily munch away. But when we are out and about or when she’s stuck in her car seat for an extended period of time, it’s not so easy to let her feed herself. The solution: Cheerios necklaces!

DIY Cheerios Necklace for Babies | Ann-Marie Loves

The supplies are pretty self-explanatory: Cheerios, twine, and scissors. Just string the Cheerios onto the twine until you feel like you have provided your baby with a decent sized snack and then tie a knot and place it over your baby’s head. If I know we are going to be out for awhile, I like to make a couple of necklaces so I can swap them out as need be.

DIY Cheerios Necklace for Babies | Ann-Marie Loves

It didn’t take much convincing to get Briar on this bandwagon — she’s a believer!

handmade greeting cards.

Posted on: Thursday, July 23, 2015

Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves

As much as I LOVE well-designed greeting cards (especially of the letterpress variety!), I will almost always resort to making a card by hand versus buying one in a store. It’s just something I have always done and I will probably always do, as I’m more than happy to sit down with my favorite paper supplies and craft up a love note for my favorite people! Here are three cards I made for the special women in my life in celebration of this past Mother’s Day:

Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves
Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves
Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves

Supplies: Dear Lizzy Serendipity Patterned Paper Pad // Dear Lizzy Serendipity Sticker Roll // Dear Lizzy Serendipity Puffy Stickers // Dear Lizzy Serendipity Pleather Bows // Dear Lizzy Fine and Dandy Sticker Roll // Multicolored Chipboard Thickers // Gold Foil Thickers // Craft Scissors // Tape Runner

I look forward to the day that I can recruit Briar to help me make cards and show our nearest and dearest just how much we love them :)

workspace wednesday | work hard, reward hard.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Workspace Wednesday | Work Hard, Reward Hard | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday at the gym, with the song lyric “work hard, play hard” echoing through the speakers, I started to wonder if there is any truth to the concept of work / life balance.  As much as I love to work hard and then crash into bed at night knowing that I gave a project every last bit of my energy, that type of lifestyle is just not realistic for the long haul. Balancing a freelance career while caring for an eleven month old full-time is downright exhausting on every single level: mentally, physically, creatively, and emotionally. (Oh, how I thought it would be easier!). I’ve spent WAY too much time over the past year beating myself up for not being able to give 100% of myself to every facet of my life. So after much soul-searching, I have come to the conclusion that I need to cut myself some slack and build rewards into my day, whether or not I’ve checked every last item off of my to-do list.

Here are a few ways that I build rewards into my day:

- taking a favorite workout class at the gym

- leaving Briar with her amazing grandparents for a few hours

- reconnecting with my husband on a Friday night date

- crawling into bed (relatively) early so I can watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians on my iPad

- taking impromptu field trips (last Thursday, Briar and I went to Santa Barbara for the day with my mom — so fun!)

- going for walks at sunset while listening to a good podcast and pushing Briar in her stroller

- drinking good coffee in the morning

- drinking good red wine at night

- sleeping in on weekends while John gets up early with Briar

If you’ve been beating yourself up for not being more, doing more, or accomplishing more, consider this your permission slip to RELAX. We are all doing our best and we are all doing just fine :)

as of late | july edition.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 14, 2015

As of Late | July Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

Serious Sally on the Fourth of July – ha!

Spending many an afternoon in my parents’ pool with my little fish. My “mom” bathing suit sure is getting a lot of good use!

Enjoying weekly e-mails from Hannah Brencher. She is killing it with the inspiration vibes.

Loving Hey Claire’s YouTube channel. Even though I’m not much for makeup tutorials, I love her storytelling abilities and her clean aesthetic. (P.S. I made a cameo in Amy’s video!)

Wearing one of two outfits most days: this neon pink workout top with leggings or any shirt with my Anthro lounge pants. I’m a work at home mom, guys. Comfort is KING.

Feeling more tired now than I was when Briar was a newborn; the only difference is I’ve become much more adept at pushing through the exhaustion! She’s still waking up 1-2 times a night (LORD BEER ME STRENGTH), so it’s safe to say I haven’t had a full night of sleep in almost a year. Oh em gee.

Listening to Totally Mommy nonstop. It’s my new podcast jam.

Dreaming of taking Briar on a bike ride…while protecting her noggin with this watermelon helmet!

Combing Pinterest and Instagram for birthday party ideas. I can never get enough!

Craving a really good fictional read that I can get lost in. Any suggestions?

Feeling so grateful to all of you who have purchased my new (and old!) digital stamps. It’s so fun to think that my designs are continuing to live on!

Enjoying golden hour walks with my best gal and my iPhone close at hand so I can capture all the gorgeous flowers in bloom!

Thinking back on this time last year when I was “willing” Briar to make her appearance on dates that I thought would make for pretty-sounding birthdays: July 14th, July 22nd, or her due date, July 26th. Of course, she didn’t arrive until AUGUST 8TH, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Scouting out amazing photo locations for future shoots. If you or anyone you know is in need of a photographer, send me an e-mail! :)

briar’s first birthday | invitation progress.

Posted on: Monday, July 13, 2015

Hand-lettered Birthday Invitations | Ann-Marie Loves

This past weekend was a big one. There was a sprained ankle (Mine! Zumba! Gah!), first steps for Briar (I’M SO PROUD I COULD EXPLODE), and lots of fun working on my almost-one year old’s birthday party invitations! It’s hard to believe that in just a few short weeks, Briar will have made a full trip around the sun. I could swear we just brought her home from the hospital?

Hand-lettered Birthday Invitations | Ann-Marie Loves

But instead of wallowing in the fact that my baby is getting older, I am focusing on all the fun things ahead. Namely, birthday crafting! For the invitations, I’m jumping on the hand-lettering bandwagon and pairing my handwriting with a little watercoloring. (There will also be a photo involved, if only I could just get her to stay in one place for five seconds…)

Hand-lettered Birthday Invitations | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m pretty sure I could write out her name all day, everyday. I used to FILL notebooks with lettering just because I loved playing with my handwriting and trying out different words in different ways (anyone else?). The thing about hand-lettering is that I need a marker with a wide tip to achieve my best look, so I busted out my forgotten Copic markers and went to town. Those markers are expensive but they really do work like a dream.

Hand-lettered Birthday Invitations | Ann-Marie Loves

I also had a great time creating full page watercolor washes to use as a background texture. I am by no means an expert painter, but I do find it to be incredibly relaxing, especially with a fun podcast on in the background.

Hand-lettered Birthday Invitations | Ann-Marie Loves

I’ve already scanned in all of my favorite samples of the lettering and watercoloring (using this method!) and I am so excited to pair them together to create a finished product. Stay tuned for more party updates coming soon!

briar’s scrapbook | part five.

Posted on: Friday, July 10, 2015

Baby Scrapbook | A Beautiful Mess Messy Book | Ann-Marie Espinoza

So here’s why I love digital stamps: this entire spread, from start to finish, took twenty minutes. Twenty. THAT’S IT. In fact, the hardest part was choosing which photos to use…! When I first started scrapbooking, the concept of “digital scrapbooking” could not have been less appealing to me. I mean, who would want to their supplies to be on the computer? Wasn’t the tangibility of traditional scrapbooking where all the joy of the hobby lived? But as the years have passed, I’ve come to think of myself more as a hybrid scrapbooker. While I still love physical products and shuffling papers between my hands and holding a tangible layout before my eyes, there’s definitely something to be said about using the computer to streamline and expedite my scrapbooking process. I love adding titles or journaling to my photo BEFORE I print it; not only does it expedite the situation but it also looks good. The minimalist graphic designer in me love love loves it.

For these two pages, I used my new (or should I say old?) digital brushes to add titles where I saw fit. Here’s how it all turned out:

Baby Scrapbook | A Beautiful Mess Messy Book | Ann-Marie Espinoza
Baby Scrapbook | A Beautiful Mess Messy Book | Ann-Marie Espinoza

Photo by La Rousse Photo

Lord knows I love a massive photo, so for this page, I sized one of my favorite images to 8 x 10,” added a pink gradient and the “Let’s Go On Adventures” brush to the top, and then mounted it onto a sheet of patterned paper. Couldn’t have been easier!

Supplies: BasicGrey Aurora Paper // Yellow Washi Tape // Aurora Die Cut Tag // Amy Tangerine Heart Sticker // Greatest Hits Digital Brushes

Baby Scrapbook | A Beautiful Mess Messy Book | Ann-Marie Espinoza
Baby Scrapbook | A Beautiful Mess Messy Book | Ann-Marie Espinoza

For the second page, I used a mix of photos (when did my baby get so big?!) and digital brushes, with a few physical embellishments as well. It’s funny…I designed most of these rubber stamps-turned-digital brushes waaaay before Briar was born, but now the sentiments are SO FITTING for our parent / child relationship. I love how that works.

Supplies: Greatest Hits Digital Brushes // Amy Tangerine Epoxy Stickers // Amy Tangerine Die Cut “Love”

So maybe I was wrong about the whole digital scrapbooking thing way back when I was a newb; now I can’t imagine my style without the computer close at hand!

P.S. Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four of Briar’s scrapbook album!

digital brushes: greatest hits | now available!

Posted on: Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ann-Marie Loves Paper | New Digital Brushes! | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m excited to finally announce that all of my most popular rubber stamp designs from 2012 – 2015 have FINALLY been turned into digital brushes and added to my shop. It’s only been on my to-do list for, oh, a whole year? Turning files into digital brushes is not what was stopping me; it was the sheer volume of files that I had to go through that intimidated me for so long. I mean, seriously, SO MANY FREAKING STAMPS (ha!). It’s all good, though :)

Ann-Marie Loves Paper | New Digital Brushes! | Ann-Marie Loves

These are the sixty-seven designs that are included in the pack.

Ann-Marie Loves Paper | New Digital Brushes! | Ann-Marie Loves

As someone who loves to put type on photos, having brushes at my disposal is a huge time-saver! In case you’re not familiar with how to use them, Elise put together a fantastic tutorial video that I highly recommend watching.

Ann-Marie Loves Paper | New Digital Brushes! | Ann-Marie Loves

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing how I use digital brushes in my scrapbook, so stay tuned! :)

Ann-Marie Loves Paper | New Digital Brushes! | Ann-Marie Loves

You can find my Greatest Hits digital brushes HERE and my Holiday set (now on sale!) HERE. Yay!

how i reached inbox zero.

Posted on: Monday, July 6, 2015

Tips for Reaching Inbox Zero | Ann-Marie Loves

I recently heard a quote along the lines of “I cleaned out my closet and now I can switch careers” and it made perfect sense to me. Clutter, whether it’s physical, mental, or digital, is incredibly draining on our energy. So on Saturday, with over 1200+ e-mails in my inbox, I decided to tackle my digital clutter head-on. It took two days of work, but I am proud to say I have finally reached inbox zero!

I’m not exactly sure how my inbox had spiraled out of control, but I think it was a mix of stressful life events (I can’t even tell you how many unread e-mails I had from my wedding planning and maternity leave days…whoops!) and a lack of consistent routine for checking and responding to messages. It’s amazing how something so seemingly innocuous can add up so quickly! While I’m sure most of you are on top of your e-mail game, maybe some of you can relate to my situation. Here are my tips for getting to inbox zero:

Set aside a large block of uninterrupted time. I managed to clear out my inbox in two days because John was home for the holiday weekend and could watch Briar for several hours while I got down to business. I needed those large blocks of uninterrupted time to really focus and stay in the zone, otherwise it never would have gotten done.

Get inspired. When it came to taking back my inbox, there were a few sources I turned to for inspiration: this video on the concept of Inbox Zero; this Elise Gets Crafty episode on getting organized; and personal conversations I have had with Amy and Elise.

When in doubt, archive. There were many e-mails that I didn’t want to delete but I also didn’t want to be in the forefront of my inbox. The answer? Archive them. You can always retrieve specific messages by typing in a few keywords in the search box at the top of the screen.

When in serious doubt, delete. There were a ton of e-mails that I knew I would never respond to or that I would honestly never reference again. In that case, I sent them straight to the trash.

Use keywords to perform mass deletions. When I was rifling through my overstuffed inbox, I would look for patterns to help me clean up faster. For example, when I would spot several unread e-mails from Dropbox, I would type in “Dropbox” in the search query and then all of the e-mails with that word in the title or the body of the message would appear. By doing this, I was able to highlight a ton of e-mails at the same time and then clear them out instantly with the click of the delete button. For some reason, I found this to be an easier organizational method than simply going from page to page and deleting as I saw fit.

Create canned responses. Since I get a lot e-mails on the same topic (i.e. sponsored post pitches), I created a few canned responses that I can quickly pull up, copy / paste into the new e-mail, and be on my merry way. In the past, I would have let those e-mails pile up — even if I was interested in the opportunity! — simply because it required an immediate detailed response from me.

Forgive yourself. This is a big one for me. I spent so much time over the past several months beating myself up over not being more organized and on top of things, but at a certain point, I just had to let go. Sure, I may have missed out on some fun opportunities and I may not have given people what they wanted from me, but I’m starting fresh now. Life goes on.

I feel so much better now and I am vowing to never let myself lose complete control of my inbox again. What are your best tips for managing e-mail?

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