holiday gift guide for guys + free printable!

Posted on: Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Shopping Guide for Guys | Collaboration with Kohl's + Free Printable! | Ann-Marie Loves

Despite the inevitable madness that ensues each November / December, I love the holiday season.

I love the decorating. I love the baking. I love the music + movies. But what I really love is dreaming of the perfect gifts to give to all my loved ones. The girls on my list are always a breeze to shop for. The guys, on the other hand? IMPOSSIBLE. I don’t know what it is, but I find myself struggling to come up with ideas for them, year after year! So when Kohl’s approached me about putting together a holiday gift guide for guys, I knew just the person to recruit for help: my husband! (After all, that’s what husbands are for, right?) Thankfully, John was more than up to the task.

Here are twelve of his top picks for guys:

Holiday Shopping Guide for Guys | Collaboration with Kohl's + Free Printable! | Ann-Marie Loves

01. Boat Shoes | 02. Classic Fit Sports Coat | 03. Stainless Steel Chronograph Watch | 04. Solid Twill Cardigan | 05. Mini Jambox Speaker | 06. Tapered Leg Jeans | 07. Hybrid Chino Pants | 08. Aqua Dress Shirt | 09. Plaid Casual Button-Down Shirt | 10. Keurig Coffee Brewer | 11. Nike Toki Low Sneakers | 12. Sherpa Hoodie

Thanks to this list, I won’t be racking my brain at the last minute for the perfect gift for all the wonderful men in my life. (Thanks babe!)

Holiday Shopping Guide for Guys | Collaboration with Kohl's + Free Printable! | Ann-Marie Loves

To help you get a jump on your holiday shopping, I designed a free printable for you to take with you (whether it’s to the mall or your computer!) so you can stay organized in style. Click HERE to download!

This post was sponsored by Kohl’s, but the ideas + opinions are all my (and John’s!) own. For more ideas on what to buy this season, check out Kohl’s holiday gift guide here!

100 days of briar.

Posted on: Monday, November 17, 2014

100 days of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday marked 100 days of life for my favorite sunshine girl! ONE HUNDRED DAYS. The baby that I thought I’d be pregnant with for-ev-er is already well into her third month of life. Whoa.

100 days of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

It’s been:

100 days of changing diapers.
100 days of snuggling her close.
100 days of fragmented sleep.
100 days of balancing work and motherhood.
100 days of sharing her with friends, family, and Instagram.
100 days of being a mom.
100 days of seeing John as a dad.
100 days of nursing.
100 days of wiping down spit-up messes.
100 days of keeping a pacifier (or five) on my person at all times.
100 days of admiring her tiny little features and big blue eyes.
100 days of trying to figure out which direction to comb her hair (the jury is still out on that one).
100 days of coming up with new nicknames.
100 days of swooning over her funny little noises.
100 days of doing load after load of baby laundry.
100 days of wanting to give her the best life possible.
100 days of attempting tummy time.
100 days of swaddling Briar into a tight little burrito.
100 days of watching a newborn turn into a smiling, laughing, always-active baby.
100 days of wondering about her future.
100 days of playing dress-up (except for that whole summer situation when all she wore was a diaper).
100 days of sending John hourly updates on Briar’s activities.
100 days of snapping photo after countless photo of my growing baby.
100 days of being a family of three.
100 days of laying in bed at night and going through all the iPhone photos I took that day.
100 days of feeling overwhelmed with an equal mix of worry and elation.

100 days of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

100 days of life with our Briar Soleil.

28.

Posted on: Friday, November 14, 2014

28 | Ann-Marie Loves

Photo by La Rousse Photo

Twenty-seven was full of surprises, some of which were amazing and some of which were challenging. It was a year of tremendous growth on nearly every level imaginable. But mostly, it was the year of the BABY. Such a beautiful, crazy ride.

Here are my favorite moments from 27:

1. Briar Soleil. She singlehandedly made 27 a year that I will never, ever forget.
2. Celebrating one year of marriage and ten years of togetherness with my wonderful husband.
3. An impromptu trip to San Diego.
4. Meeting my beautiful niece Luna just an hour after she was born.
5. Blogging regularly for the first half of the year. (I’m determined to get back on track!)
6. Taking Briar to Disneyland for the first time.
7. Decorating a nursery.
8. My baby showers.
9. Daily walks around town.
10. Enjoying lattes from Float, Copa Vida, Jones Coffee Roasters, and Abricott, just to name a few. (Have I mentioned that I LOVE Pasadena?)
11. Feeling the baby kick. There’s nothing else quite like it.
12. Writing four different e-courses (Styling | Shooting | Sharing is still my fave!)
13. Contributing to Elise’s fantastic podcast a handful of times.
14. Finding out Briar was a girl…!
15. Weaving!
16. Sharing our big news with our families.
17. Reliving our wedding on Green Wedding Shoes.
18. Dying over Parenthood! How had I never seen this show before?! Also, Veep was pretty killer.
19. Having a whole new reason to thrift.
20. Trading in my VW Bug for a family-friendly Honda.
21. Downing watermelon like there was no tomorrow.
22. Reading Money, A Love Story and Great with Child; two books I know I’ll revisit time and time again.
23. Listening to this tiny voice all day, everyday. Music to my ears.
24. Reading about my blog in a magazine.
25. Designing holiday stamps while listening to Anthro’s holiday playlist in October. It’s never too early!
26. Making a tutu for my little bunny.
27. Watching my #briarsoleil hashtag on Instagram grow and grow!
28. Discovering my favorite role yet: motherhood.

I’m so excited to wake up tomorrow morning as a 28 year old with my daughter and my husband by my side. I have a good feeling about 28…

holidays stamps!

Posted on: Thursday, November 13, 2014

My 2014 holiday stamps are finally here!

Limited Edition Holiday Stamps | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

01. Merry Christmas | 02. Open Me | 03. All I Want for Christmas Is | 04. May Your Days Be Merry + Bright | 05. Shiny + Happy | 06. Happy Holidays | 07. Let It Snow | 08. Made With Love | 09. Holiday Cheer Inside | 10. To / From | 11. Wish List | 12. Sending You Joy This Season

to_from

When designing these stamps, I tried to think of all the various projects they can be used for: holiday cards, packaging, tags, December Daily albums, Project Life, etc. I fully realize that wooden rubber stamps are an investment, so I want to be sure that the style + tone of my designs will lend themselves to creating year after year.

Over the next handful of weeks, I’ll be sharing all the different ways I incorporate these stamps into my holiday crafting. (p.s. let me know if there are any particular projects you would like to see!) This really is my most favorite time of year and I can’t wait to make things festive :)

Find these stamps + more HERE.

as of late | november edition.

Posted on: Monday, November 10, 2014

As of Late: November Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

Loving: Jessica Murnane’s One Part podcast! Ah, so good. I’ve been binge-listening all week and can’t wait for the next episode. (P.S. I know everyone and their mother is dying over Serial, but I’m so not a murder mystery-kinda gal. Should I still give it a whirl?)

Marveling: at my tiny little person and her ever-growing repertoire of tricks. This one cracks me up.

Launching: my next great adventure this month! So many feelings about it. Most of which involve excitement. Some of which involve anxiety.

Turning: 28 on Saturday! I asked John if he thought that sounded old (he’s 4 months younger than me ;)) and he said “no, but it does sound like an age where you should have your shit together.” Yeah, so not there…

Laughing: over photos from Briar’s first few weeks of life…she was never wearing any clothes! #summerbabyproblems

Speaking: of birthdays, this hat and this coat are totally on my list. Oh, and maybe this chair. Also, is it weird to want baby clothes for my b-day? Because regardless, I so want these dachshund-print leggings for Briar.

Splurging: on overpriced lattes these days. It’s my one big vice that makes me way too happy, especially since Pasadena is chock-full of awesome coffeehouses.

Craving: this healthy cake that my friend Heather made! It was unbelievably good.

Hoping: for cooler weather. But really, what else is new?

Trying: to get to bed before midnight, like I did in my days of yore. We’ve dropped our morning bottle feeding now that Briar is sleeping longer (7 hours is her record!!). Fingers crossed it will stick!

Wearing: Briar in the Boba Wrap every single day because a.) it’s a guaranteed nap, and b.) it’s the best feeling in the world.

Knitting: baby leg warmers and a baby beanie. Because why the heck not.

Enjoying: the fact that after a long day of relatives loving on my baby, I’m the one that gets to take her home. Gah, I love that girl.

Remembering: how much I love burning candles, especially now that the sun sets so early. This one is a favorite!

Reintroducing: Christmas music back into the fold. I’M SO EXCITED FOR THE HOLIDAYS, I JUST MIGHT EXPLODE.

briar + luna.

Posted on: Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Briar + Luna | Ann-Marie Loves Briar + Luna | Ann-Marie Loves Briar + Luna | Ann-Marie Loves Briar + Luna | Ann-Marie Loves Briar + Luna | Ann-Marie Loves Briar + Luna | Ann-Marie Loves

Luna Dalia (5.5 weeks old) + Briar Soleil (9 weeks old) in their ballerina best.

Briar was expected to arrive in late July and Luna was expected to arrive in late September. But as it worked out, one decided to come early and one decided to come late (guess which one), making these cousins just shy of four weeks apart. It’s been so much fun watching the two babies quickly morph into tiny little humans with distinct personalities and temperaments. We get them together (and take countless photos!) as often as possible and it’s amazing to see how much they change in such a short amount of time. Briar + Luna still have yet to acknowledge each other’s presence, but in due time, I know they will be lifelong partners in crime. Love these two girls oh so much!

last day for october stamps!

Posted on: Monday, November 3, 2014

Last Day for October Stamps | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fantastic Halloween. John and I loved every minute of Briar’s first big holiday. Her costume lasted a whopping fifteen minutes before she spit up on it, but hey! Not too shabby for an almost three month old.

Just a friendly reminder that today is the LAST DAY to stock up on October stamps! I’ll be rolling out the November / December holiday stamps this week…so much fun! I’m finalizing the designs today, so let me know if there are any particular holiday-related phrases or sentiments that you want to see :)

P.S. The winner of the Ameda pump has been announced!

workspace wednesday | work at home mama.

Posted on: Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Workspace Wednesday | Work At Home Mama | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m not the first person to admit this and I certainly won’t be the last, but here goes: working from home while caring for a baby is tough.

It’s not so much that caring for a baby is hard, per se. I mean, if you break down all the components that going into parenting an infant, they’re pretty simple, albeit tedious. Trying to do long division in my head is hard. Trying to push a baby out of my body is hard. Trying to get from one side of Los Angeles to the other during rush hour is, well, that’s just impossible. What’s been the most challenging part of  working at home with an infant is that I just can’t seem to see a single task all they way to completion. My life has become one long string of half-finished (sometimes three quarter-finished, if I’m lucky!) tasks. And it drives me b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

Workspace Wednesday | Work At Home Mama | Ann-Marie Loves

Whether you work at home or away from home, you just can’t win. I freelance from home which is an amazing gift in so many ways, but I also feel like I’m never “done.” I’m forever battling with a nagging feeling that there’s always more that I could be doing, more opportunities that I could be pursuing, more money that I could be making, etc. It’s a guilt-inducing feeling that I just can’t seem to shake. On the other hand, I can’t even wrap my brain around how difficult it would be to have to go to an office everyday and leave Briar with someone else. My heart shatters into a million tiny pieces just thinking about it. (Hats off to all you mamas who do this! You’re stronger than I’ll ever be!).

Workspace Wednesday | Work At Home Mama | Ann-Marie Loves

So needless to say, it’s a daily struggle. In the (almost) three months that I’ve been a parent, I’ve learned a TON. Every single day I learn something new about my roles as a mom, wife, daughter, friend, freelancer, blogger, housekeeper, social media user, bill payer, etc, and I’m positive that I still have so much more to learn.

Here are a few things that have helped me balance work + baby:

“Out of Office” response. Right after I had Briar, I put the “out of office” (or in my case, maternity leave) auto reply setting on my Gmail account and it helped to ease my guilt over not responding to e-mails in a timely manner. I contemplated leaving it up until Briar went to kindergarten (or maybe college?), but I caved and turned it off the other day. I’m nowhere near caught up on e-mails yet, but maybe one day…

Make lists. Before Briar was born, I could easily keep dates, appointments, and assignments neatly filed in my memory. These days, I can barely remember if I washed my hair or not while I’m still in the shower. Yeesh. I’ve realized that writing down what needs to get done is the only way anything will actually get done.

Ask for help. We spend most of our weekends back home with our parents these days and I can’t even tell you how wonderful that has been. There’s no shortage of grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and friends who generously give their time + energy to our sweet girl, which frees me up to get a few things done, catch up on sleep, or better yet, do nothing at all! I’m not usually one that feels comfortable asking for help, but in this case, I will take alllllll the assistance I can get.

Forgive + forget. There are many days as of late that I feel less than stellar about myself. Between the unfinished tasks, the number of e-mails that begin with “my apologies for the late response!,” the fact that I still can’t wear half of my closet, the fear that I’m not paying enough attention to Briar (thereby ruining her life), and the unconventional hours I keep…gah. I just want to wake up and be GOOD at life. I mean, is that even possible? Until that day comes, I’m trying to focus on what I AM doing right and let the guilt fall by the wayside. #easiersaidthandone

Keep your eyes on the prize. Being a mom is the best thing ever. Despite all the stressing and worrying, I derive so much joy from my wild-haired little one that I can’t help but want to work hard so I can give her the best life possible. When she goes to college one day, I won’t remember all the e-mails that went unanswered. I won’t remember the dishes that were left in the sink overnight. I won’t remember all the minutia that momentarily consumed me. So keep your eyes on the prize, Ann-Marie. Eyes on the prize.

Moms, how do balance working with parenting?

 

one year.

Posted on: Monday, October 27, 2014

Ann-Marie + John | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

Photo by Katie Pritchard.

John’s and my first year of marriage will forever go down as the year we packed as many major life events into 365 days as possible. We got married. We went on an amazing honeymoon. We moved to Pasadena. I got pregnant. We bought a new car. We had a baby. Life was / is C R A Z Y. I’ll admit that packing so many things into a single year was stressful. Draining. Overwhelming. And yet, so incredibly rewarding.

Yesterday marked our first anniversary as a married couple. One year down, one hundred more to go…

how to sleep when you have a newborn (and a giveaway!).

Posted on: Friday, October 24, 2014

How to Sleep When You Have a Newborn | Ann-Marie Loves

My biggest fear about having a baby (aside from, ummm, how the heck is she going to come out?!) was that I would never sleep again.

You see, I come from a family that fiercely guards their sleep. And when I say fiercely, I mean fiercely. On weekend mornings, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Morris family will be sleeping in as long as possible. There’s no way we willingly forgo an extra second of our precious sleep for anything less than a life or death situation. (Kidding!) (Kind of.). So needless to say, I was a little worried about what would become of my tried-and-true sleep habits.

The first few nights after Briar was born, there understandably was not a lot of rest going on. Between a hungry baby and a sore mama, those two nights in the hospital were the exact opposite of restful. Then we got home and that first night was utterly exhausting. I was having one heck of a time getting comfortable with nursing and being that Briar was underweight, I needed to feed her every two hours. It seemed like as soon as I fed her and climbed back in bed, it was already time to get back up and repeat the cycle again. I began to worry that this phase of life was going to be the death of me.

But ironically, the struggle with nursing totally saved me. Since I needed to plump up an underweight baby and I really wanted to let my body heal a little bit, I pumped exclusively for two days straight. It was a lot of work, but man, it gave me a sense of freedom knowing that John could give Briar a bottle and I could get a little extra sleep. We alternated middle-of-the-night feedings so that we both could be semi-rested and present for our new baby. We fell into a great routine that kept my sanity intact (and my eyeballs open).

When John had to go back to work a week after Briar arrived, we came up with a nice little feeding schedule: I would handle the middle-of-the-night feedings and he would give Briar a bottle before heading to the office. Since I work from home, it didn’t matter how long Briar and I slept in in the morning. I soon realized that it was easier for me to stay up late (2 to 3 am) and then sleep straight through until 10 or 11 am than it was to wake up every couple of hours in the middle of the night and feel groggy. So that’s how we do it: stay up late + sleep in.

The main reason I do it this way (aside from the fact that I’m naturally a night owl) is because John feeds her between 6-7 am everyday. If I were to go to bed earlier, it would defeat the whole point of having my husband take a feeding. I’ll admit that there are days when Briar and I don’t get out of bed until noon, but maui wowee, I’m a much better mom + wife when I have a nice chunk of sleep under my belt.

How to Sleep When You Have a Newborn | Ann-Marie Loves

Here are the keys to my personal sleeping success:

Let someone else feed the baby. Pumping has been a LIFESAVER for me. Not only did it help me to plump my tiny little newborn back to a healthy weight, but it allows me to get a longer stretch of sleep than most new moms probably get. Pumping a bottle every single day takes a little extra effort, but being able to sleep 6-7 straight hours? WORTH IT.

Learn to nurse while laying down. Oh man. Once I realized that I didn’t actually have to sit up to feed Briar, I felt like I had a new lease on life. After John leaves for work in the morning, he lays Briar next to me in our bed and I sleep until she wakes me up for another feeding. Given the convenience of already having her in bed, that morning feeding is a breeze! Of course, I still have to get up to change the inevitable diaper, but it’s much easier to go right back to sleep afterwards.

Find good TV shows to watch. The secret to being able to stay awake until 3 am? Jimmy Fallon. Parenthood. Gilmore Girls.

Have breakfast ready to go. When I get out of bed in the morning, Briar is usually hungry again, so I’m left with only one free hand to make breakfast. (Have you ever tried to make oatmeal + coffee with one hand while nursing a 10 pound baby in the other? Not so seamless.) Thankfully, I just discovered the wonderful world of crock pots, so I’ve been finding all kinds of awesome breakfast recipes that I can put together the night before and eat as soon as I get up. The same thing goes for my coffee. A little prep work goes a loooooong way.

Keep a bedside basket of necessities. I keep a small basket on my nightstand that contains burp rags, extra pacifiers, and snack foods, so I don’t have to get out of bed to grab these items.

Go with the flow. While I would love to have a more conventional sleep schedule, I know that these odd hours won’t last forever. So I’m doing what works best for myself + my daughter, right here, right now. I feel incredibly lucky that Briar is an easygoing babe (for the most part ;)) and that John is a hands-on dad and that my work schedule is super flexible. The combination of those three things makes my life so much easier.

How to Sleep When You Have a Newborn + a Breast Pump Giveaway! | Ann-Marie Loves

In the spirit of getting some shut eye, one lucky reader will win an Ameda Purely Yours double electric breast pump! Even if you’re not currently nursing, this would be a great gift to a new mom who could use an extra pair of hands to feed her babe. To win, simply leave a comment below letting me know what kind of baby-related posts you’d love to see here in the future. The winner will be announced next Friday (October 31st). Good luck!

UPDATED: And the winner is…Whitney! Congrats! When you get a chance, shoot me an e-mail with your shipping address and the pump will be sent your way :)

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