briar’s first birthday party album.

Posted on: Thursday, August 27, 2015

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Since having Briar and accumulating a never-ending supply of baby paraphernalia, I’ve been much more conscious about not bringing extra “stuff” into my life. I used to raid the Anthro sale section for cute housewares and hit the thrift store for awesome deals on home decor, but I just can’t do that with the same abandon anymore. So when I spotted this three dollar binder in the dollar spot at Target (knowing it would be the PERFECT catchall for holding the cards and photos we have from Briar’s first birthday party!) I went back and forth over whether I needed it. I walked with it all around the store and almost put it back, but in the end, it came home with me.

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t spend any longer than two hours on the project and I certainly held up my end of the bargain! Armed with a few basic supplies, I whipped out an entire mini album in a single naptime. BOOM.

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

To keep things simple, I only used the cards and envelopes that Briar received as the pages to the book; no extra patterned paper necessary. I was then able to quickly add them in with the help of my handy dandy Crop-A-Dile tool. Here are some of my favorite spreads from the book:

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday Party Mini Book | Ann-Marie Loves

This project could not have been easier! It feels great to have Briar’s first birthday party documented and in the books (literally). I’m so glad that three dollar binder found its way home with me.

SUPPLIES: Kelly Purkey Wood Alphabet Stamps // Gold Foil Thickers // Gold Foil Number Stickers // Washi Tape // BasicGrey Aurora Element Stickers // Amy Tangerine Transparent Stickers // Enamel Dots // Die Cut Shapes // Tape Runner // Crop-A-Dile

 

as of late | august edition.

Posted on: Wednesday, August 26, 2015

As of Late | Ann-Marie Loves | Card by Goldpress Paper

Wanting to frame this adorable hand-lettered card from Goldpress Paper!

Feeling incredibly grateful for my health after a bout with food poisoning last week. Also, it makes me think I may not be THAT ready for first trimester nausea again ;)

Reading The Year of Magical Thinking after renewing my library card on Monday. So far, I really like it!

Listening to The Momo Show nonstop. Also! I have a title for my future podcast series. I’ve told a few people about it already and I’m excited to get the wheels in motion.

Walking now more than ever thanks to the encouragement of my new Fitbit! Late night laps around the house to reach 10k steps is a daily occurrence.

Eagerly awaiting the end of summer (not until late October for Southern California), but still trying to enjoy “summery” moments: feeling the A/C on my face as I shower, having so many hours of daylight to shoot photos, taking Briar swimming…I guess summer’s not that bad. Actually, yes it is.

Rewatching Parenthood and feeling all the emotions on a deeper level now that I’ve been at this parenting gig for a whole year.

Planning upcoming photo shoots and feeling total excitement, which is how creative projects should always feel!

Loving everything ban.do at the moment! I seriously love my new Florabunda planner (I FEEL SO ORGANIZED!) and the watermelon cooler bag that I turned into Briar’s new diaper bag. Give me all the kitsch.

Reveling in happy memories from the bridal shower that we threw for my dear friend Janelle last Saturday. I’m beyond excited for her big day.

Thinking ahead to the holidays! We have a few good Halloween costume ideas up our sleeves. Let’s see if we can execute them before October 31st at 4pm…

Loving Elise’s Get to Work Book videos. I love to get inside the minds of super organized + efficient people.

Treating myself to iced coffees from the Starbucks drive-thru every few days. Yes, I could totally save money by making my own iced coffee at home, but there’s nothing quite like somebody handing me my drink through the window of my air-conditioned car. Also, it keeps Briar contained for five minutes and that is NO SMALL FEAT.

Hearing good things about this book and adding it to my wish list.

Living by this quote from Danielle LaPorte: “Focus on the energy of the solution.” BOOM.

briar’s first birthday party invitations.

Posted on: Thursday, August 20, 2015

Briar's First Birthday Party Invitation | Ann-Marie Loves

With an active toddler, a busy workload, and a million other things I need to get done these days, I decided to save my sanity and send out Briar’s first birthday party invitations via e-mail. As much as I love paper and sending out physical happy mail, I knew it was way more important to spread the word about the party ASAP than to worry about packaging / addressing / stamping, etc. Plus, I figured if anyone (i.e. grandparents) really wanted a hard copy of the invite, they could easily print it out themselves. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past year, it’s to avoid needlessly overcomplicating simple tasks whenever possible!

Briar's First Birthday Party Invitation | Ann-Marie Loves

However, just because I sent out the invites via e-mail, it doesn’t mean I scrimped on design. If you remember back a few weeks ago, I happily spent an afternoon hand lettering Briar’s name and then scanning it in and formatting it in Photoshop. I also was super picky about the photo I wanted to use, so it took many a photoshoot (and many bribes with treats!) until I was able to capture Briar just the way I  had envisioned. Once I had my photo, my handlettering, and my text in place, it wasn’t hard to pair them all together to create the finished product.

http://annmarieloves.com/2015/07/13/briars-first-birthday-invitation-progress/

If you’re planning on sending out an invite via e-mail, here are a few tips for making sure you get your message across successfully:

Make sure your file is sized appropriately. I have made the mistake of sending out GIANT files before and as a result, many people were not able to open the file. This time around, I made sure that my file was small enough to easily open and read.

Include your message in the body of the e-mail. Just in case your recipients can’t (or choose not to) open your attached image / PDF, include all the information from the invite in the body of the e-mail. Also, be sure to create a catchy, informative subject line so that people open your message promptly.

BCC. If you plan on sending your invite to multiple recipients, use the bcc function of your e-mail to quickly reach everyone without having to worry about the dreaded “Reply All.”

Include links (if necessary). The benefit to mailing out an invitation via e-mail vs. snail mail is that you can include appropriate links (i.e. registries or wish lists) in the message. While I wouldn’t recommend sending out wedding invitations or maybe even shower invitations through e-mail, I think it’s a great option for birthdays or informal gatherings.

 

workspace wednesday | share your voice.

Posted on: Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Share Your Voice | Ann-Marie Loves

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of sharing your voice, even when the market seems like it can’t accommodate one more person. I have fallen into the trap of “there’s no more room for me, so I’ll just sit on the sidelines and watch others shine” way too many times to count. I’ve convinced myself that this world has enough bloggers / photographers / Instagrammers / designers / podcasters already, so why would anyone care about my point of view? When I type it all out like that, it makes me feel sad! I would never ever tell a friend that there’s not enough room for her at the table, so why would I treat myself that way?

But after a recent workout class, I had a radical change in perspective…

Here’s what happened: Zumba is my favorite workout and it has been for a few years now. There are three teachers at my gym who are amazing in their own unique ways, but there’s one in particular who is INCREDIBLE. He’s the type of teacher who fills a class every single time. In fact, I have to get to the gym a half hour before each class just so I can reserve my spot! He’s one of those teachers who makes a challenging workout feel like play…I smile and laugh the whole entire sweaty hour. During his class on Monday, I couldn’t help but think, “I am SO GLAD he is sharing his gift with us!” He could easily dismiss the idea of teaching since there are so many other people out there doing the exact same thing as him. He could talk himself out of getting in front of the class for fear that people may not like his style (and the truth is, some people don’t!). He could come up with a million and one reasons to stay home and avoid the hassle of creating a workout routine, finding the right music to dance to, and then memorizing it all so that others can follow along. But the thing is, he doesn’t. He shows up, day after day, week after week, and brings so much light and joy to his loyal students. His innate knack for motivating others to work hard while having a great time is CONTAGIOUS.

The moral of the story? THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR YOU. Even though your point of view may not align with every single person on the planet (nor should it!), it will absolutely align with some people. So please, share your voice! The world needs to hear from you.

P.S. I just listened to Elise’s latest podcast episode and I loved her guest Caroline Burkle’s quote: “Your strengths can benefit someone else’s strengths.” Perfect.

staying present in motherhood.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

From the moment you find out a baby will soon be joining your life, it’s hard to keep yourself from constantly fantasizing about the future. What will my baby look like? What costume will she wear for Halloween? How are we going to pay for college?! In fact, most of last year, I made all of my decisions based off of the timeline of “Pre-Briar” and ‘Post-Briar.” Pre-Briar life meant attending loud concerts on a whim, spending a whole day of working without interruptions, and sleeping in on any given Saturday BECAUSE I COULD. Post-Briar life means lining up babysitters when I want to go out, squeezing in work during naptimes, and not sleeping in on any given Saturday BECAUSE I HAVE A BABY. I think it’s only natural for moms to be preoccupied with the future; after all, we’re the ones steering the ship!

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

However, I am now on a mission to stay in the present moment as often as possible and enjoy each fleeting second exactly as it is. Sure, it’s not always how I envisioned it would look or feel, but that’s all part of the fun, especially as a mom of a young toddler. Briar is growing up SO FAST (so fast, you guys!) and I want to live every minute with her, instead of wishing for a more “perfect” scenario or mentally plotting out the distant future. This is why I am now bucking my to-do list for a short time everyday and really allowing the both of us to enjoy time together.

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

This past weekend, we spent some time outside so I could work on her scrapbook and she could play with her toys. Even though we were only going out in the backyard, I found it was so handy to pack up my craft supplies in a Creative Options’ Two Tray Box and Briar’s toys + books in a fabric Craft Caddy.

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar’s caddy was filled with all of the essentials for briefly occupying a girl on the move: her favorite books, her BlaBla doll (whom we named Olivia), her gold Saltwater sandals (should she decide to venture off the mat) (which she immediately did), and plenty of Cheerios!

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

My box was stocked with all the essentials for a crafty gal: neon pink ink, sharp scissors, wooden alpha stamps, colorful pens, and lots of washi!

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

Our joint playtime was certainly not perfect (as it turns out, mom’s “toys” are way more fun than Briar’s toys!), but it was a great way for the two of us to spend some structured quality time together. Plus, when it was time to go back inside, all I had to do was pick up our caddies and our mat…no extra clean-up necessary! Life is good, you guys. Let’s embrace it just as it is!

P.S. For more ideas on how to incorporate Creative Options’ products into your life, be sure to check out their Facebook page, Amy Tangerine’s blog, and this fun video!

santa barbara zoo.

Posted on: Monday, August 17, 2015

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

Last week marked Briar’s third trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo, and this particular time was easily the best one yet. Twelve months is a really fun age for taking her places. She’s generally agreeable (assuming there’s an endless supply of snacks on hand), she’s super easy to entertain (hello, car keys!), and allowing her to explore her world on foot (she’s a walking gal!) is such a treat to watch. There’s also the whole not-having-to-nurse-her-every-other-hour thing that makes the whole trip so much more enjoyable than it was during her first trip at three months old.

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

While I always feel a tinge of guilt to see caged animals, there’s nothing quite like being face to face with a wild creature whom I otherwise would never see. This gorilla was AMAZING.

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

My mom and I packed a lunch at home so that we could enjoy a picnic on the huge grassy hill overlooking the ocean. (I mean, life is really hard.) It was the ideal place to let Briar roam free and test out her sweet new walking skills. She was also really into eating all of my food, opening and closing the cooler, and climbing her stroller. Toddlerhood is a contact sport!

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves
Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

Did you know that flamingoes get their pinkish hue from the brine shrimp that they eat? I thought that was a fascinating tidbit! Also, they’re from South America, which I was also (embarrassingly) unaware of until last week. Everyday is a new lesson!

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

Since the zoo is not only a great place to see animals, but a GORGEOUS place to hang out, my camera gets plenty of action while we’re here.

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

For Briar’s first birthday, my parents gifted us with a year-long membership to the zoo, so I have no doubt that there will be plenty of fun adventures in our near future! (P.S. Thanks Nana + Papa!)

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

And just for the heck of it, here’s a photo of Briar and me from her first trip to the zoo, way back in November. Can you say TINY BABY? Oh. Em. Gee.

diy wooden cacti.

Posted on: Thursday, August 13, 2015

DIY Wooden Cacti | Ann-Marie Loves

While brainstorming ideas for Briar’s birthday party a few months ago, I kept mulling over different ideas but always came back to the theme of “summer fun.” Truth be told, I never wanted to have a baby in the summer. When I was growing up, I always felt bad for the kids in my classes who couldn’t celebrate their birthdays during the school year. I also worried that my child would be super old or super young in comparison to her fellow classmates.  Plus, it’s HOT…way too hot. Needless to say, it was a road I didn’t want to go down. But as we all know, things don’t always go according to plan (whoops!) and as a result, I am now the proud mom of an August baby. So in the spirit of embracing Briar’s summer birthday, I wanted to throw a party for her that would embody all things related to summer and warm weather. My sister-in-law actually came up with the idea of incorporating cacti into the decor and I instantly jumped on the bandwagon!

DIY Wooden Cacti | Ann-Marie Loves

With the help of my dad and his carpentry skills, we took a rough sketch of three cacti and cut a huge sheet of wood into party decor.

DIY Wooden Cacti | Ann-Marie Loves

In true Ann-Marie fashion, I waited until the day before the party to paint each cactus (the pink flowers shown above didn’t dry in time for the big day), but I’m so happy I followed through with the plan! I painted the cacti using a mix of Handmade Modern craft paints from Target and love the way they turned out. For the polka dots and prickly spine details, I didn’t have a small paintbrush handy, so I just used a bunch of q-tips dipped into the lid of the paints.

DIY Wooden Cacti | Ann-Marie Loves

I love the way they helped to accentuate the tribal-print rug and the large teepee! I’m pretty sure Briar could not have cared less about the cacti (she was too busy living that water table life!), but I received a ton of compliments of them from other partygoers, which helped to make the whole creative process worth it.

DIY Wooden Cacti | Ann-Marie Loves

Eventually when we have a house with a backyard, I plan on putting the cacti near the cute playhouse (a la Lay Baby Lay!) that I’m going to build for my little ones. But until then, we might just bust them out for every summer birthday party ;)

diy watermelon banner + free cut files.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 11, 2015

DIY Watermelon Banner | Ann-Marie Loves

When I was in my second and third trimesters of pregnancy with Briar, I could not get enough watermelon. There was not enough watermelon in the world that could satisfy my cravings! It was like clockwork: every afternoon I would get a serious hankering for watermelon, so I would chop one up and scarf it down before heading out on my daily walk. INSANE. I’m pretty certain that Briar is made up of 75% watermelon (the other 25% being the bagels I lived on during my first trimester), so it’s no surprise that she loves watermelon as much as I did. In honor of Briar’s favorite fruit, I decided to make a watermelon banner for her birthday party.

DIY Watermelon Banner | Ann-Marie Loves

The supplies are basic: neon cardstock, my Cameo die-cutting machine, adhesive, and a black Sharpie pen. I designed and cut out the shapes using the Cameo, adhered them together, and then added seeds with the pen…super simple!

DIY Watermelon Banner | Ann-Marie Loves

I hung the banner behind the teepee and I love the way it added an extra pop of neon to an already colorful scene! It now lives above her changing table where she can admire it (read: try to rip it off the wall) as I change her diapers.

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

I created a free download of the watermelon cut files (for use in Silhouette software) that you can find HERE. If you use them and take a photo, tag me on Instagram! Enjoy!

briar’s first birthday!

Posted on: Monday, August 10, 2015

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

On Saturday, we celebrated Briar’s first birthday in my parents’ backyard. I have to say, as excited as I was to throw Briar a party, I was dreading the fact that my little baby was officially making the jump from infant to toddler. I may or may not have cried my eyes out the night before as I was putting her to bed, but by Saturday morning, I felt like a new person with a renewed excitement for all the good things still to come. Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

We had a loose “summer fun” theme for the party, so I made wooden cacti, a paper watermelon banner, colorful tissue paper tassels, and a few other handmade details. I also busted out the cotton canvas teepee, my favorite colorful rug (a Rose Bowl find!), a thrifted rattan horse rocker, and various inflatable toys.

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar has never met a baked good that she didn’t like, so to have a whole cupcake to herself? Best day ever. She dove right in and didn’t stop until she was completely covered in frosting.

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

My favorite part of the party decor was definitely the wall of Briar photos from her first year of life. I had such a great time going through thousands of photos on my computer, having my favorites printed, and then taping them up on the wall. Being able to see a whole entire year’s worth of memories in one place is pretty incredible. I definitely want to do this every year!

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

However, the real hit of the party was most certainly the water table! Every time I looked over, there were babies screaming and splashing and living it up over at that table. (I seriously think it’s one of our best investments in baby gear thus far!)

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar skipped her nap, ate a whole chocolate cupcake, and got to celebrate her birthday with her favorite people…it was a good day, indeed! But I think the best part of all was that she slept through the night (the whole night!) following the party! I don’t want to jinx anything, but I sure hope this habit sticks!

It’s hard to believe that a whole year has come and gone, but I’m so grateful that we made it this far. John and I can’t remember life before we had our sweet girl!

the first year of motherhood.

Posted on: Friday, August 7, 2015

The First Year of Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

Tomorrow my baby will be ONE.

I know everyone says the first year flies by in the blink of an eye, but I really had no clue just how right they were until I lived it myself. I still distinctly remember the way it felt to be pregnant with her. I remember the nervous / excited energy I felt as I was admitted to the hospital on that Thursday afternoon. I remember seeing her face for the first time and trying to comprehend that she was mine. I remember bringing her home and feeling the reality of motherhood quickly sink in. It’s been a really good year. The hardest year of my life, hands down, but also a really good year.

Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a first-time mom over the past 365 days:

Trust that you will rise to the occasion. The logistics of giving birth (ouch), and learning to breastfeed (ouch again), and not sleeping through the night for an entire year (super ouch) are majorly daunting. There were many times that I could hardly wrap my brain around the tasks at hand, but somehow, some way, I rose to the occasion and continued to do so day after day, night after night. Trust that your body and your instincts will not steer you in the wrong direction.

It’s harder and easier than you could ever imagine. I swear that I am constantly reflecting on this simple statement. I honestly thought that working from home while watching a small baby would be fairly simple (“I’ll just work when the baby sleeps!”), but it turned out to be way trickier than I could have predicted. Briar has never been a consistent sleeper for naps or at night, so finding a good balance between work and motherhood has been my biggest challenge thus far. On the other hand, I thought that it would be a huge production every time I had to leave the house with the baby in tow, but it’s actually pretty easy! She’s a great little traveler and I enjoy having her as my sidekick wherever we go. Needless to say, motherhood is full of surprises at every turn!

Get outside every single day. In those first few weeks (and months!), it’s all too easy to get bogged down in the nonstop care of a newborn and lose track of the outside world. I found that getting fresh air at least once a day, whether it was for a long walk (my favorite) or just a quick stroll to grab coffee, was not only a necessity for my mental health, but it did — and continues to do — wonders for Briar, too. Those walls start to close in on you pretty fast if you stay cooped up inside for too long.

The baby fever doesn’t go away. From the day we brought Briar home the hospital, I’ve had crazy baby fever for more babies! I think the whole experience of growing a baby, having a baby, and then watching that child grow into a little person is so intoxicating that I can’t help but want to do it over and over again! (The sleepless nights, however…not so much.)

Take the classes. John and I took a few different classes offered by our hospital prior to Briar’s arrival and we both loved them. It’s not so much that you’ll remember everything or that you’ll be an inadequate parent if you skip out, but it was nice for us to immerse ourselves in baby culture with other soon-to-be-parents. Plus, on our breaks we ate at the amazing (and amazingly cheap!) cafeteria. Win win ;)

Do what works for YOU. There’s so much societal pressure to be a “perfect” mom and to do everything “right,” but really, what does that even mean?! Since we are all approaching life from a different perspective, it’s impossible for us to follow the same path as individuals, much less as mothers. Follow your own trail and figure out what works best for you and your baby. No comparisons necessary.

Ask for help. Don’t be a hero. Ask for help OFTEN. You need that break, not only so you can recharge your own batteries but so you can be more present and engaged with your baby as well.

It just gets better and better (seriously!). For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had momentary pangs of sadness over the fact that Briar is almost a toddler and no longer my tiny little newborn. But for the most part, I LOVE each new phase even more than the last. When she laughed for the first time, I thought it would never get any better. And then she started crawling! And saying words! And now walking! Watching her morph into a real human with distinct opinions and a strong personality has been a total JOY. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

I am so happy / proud / overwhelmed with love for my Briar Bear. Happy birthday, baby girl!

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