keeping things clean.

Posted on: Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

John and I just moved to a new place with only days (hours?) to go before our second baby arrives and as I mentioned before, I have been in crazy nesting mode. This flurry of third trimester activity has included but is not limited to: faux wallpapering a huge wall in the shared nursery, getting on my hands and knees and scrubbing the tub into oblivion, washing item after item of baby clothing and linens that I own, sterilizing all the bottles and pacifiers that this child might come in contact with, and wiping down every last surface of our space at least ten times. Needless to say, I want to welcome this baby into a squeaky clean home.

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

Thankfully, I have partnered with Lemi Shine just in time to get the job done right! That means, no toxic chemicals or harsh ingredients that would be unsafe for me to inhale or for any member of my family to come in contact with.

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

Briar is in this awesome stage of wanting to help me with almost every task, especially anything that allows her to use the step stool at the kitchen counter. When I’m busy loading the dishwasher or preparing a meal, I keep her occupied by filling the sink with a little bit of water and Lemi Shine concentrated dish soap and let her “wash” her own plastic bowls and cups.

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

Let me tell you, she takes her job very seriously! I get such a kick out of her enthusiasm plus I don’t have to worry about her tender skin encountering harsh chemicals.

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

When it comes to the bathroom, I like things to be CLEAN. No toothpaste left in the sink, no hair in the tub, no towels hung haphazardly on the rack, and no spots on the mirrors. Thankfully, Lemi Shine’s Glass + Surface cleaner as well as their Shower + Tile spray gets the job done right.

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

Life with a toddler (and another baby on the way) is a messy job. Briar’s latest trick involves taking bites out of all the fruit on the table and leaving them scattered throughout the house. I mean, I love this girl to pieces but the sticky spots and the toddler teeth marks on all our produce are not exactly my jam.

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

Ann-Marie Loves x Lemi Shine

Luckily Lemi Shine makes all kinds of household products that keep everything from my countertops to my floors in tip top shape. I’m so thrilled to have found them right before we add another baby to our family and take everyday messes to a whole new level! You can find Lemi Shine products sold at a store near you. (P.S. Don’t forget to bring coupons before you shop!)

This post was sponsored by Lemi Shine but all opinions, ideas, and photos are my own.

diy polka dot wallpaper.

Posted on: Tuesday, September 27, 2016

DIY Polka Dot Wallpaper | Ann-Marie Loves

There’s nothing quite like the threat of a new baby arriving at any time to light a fire under your butt and compel you to NEST SO HARD. Two week ago I had one of those days when I woke up feeling so invincible that I loaded Briar up in the car and headed to IKEA where I proceeded to wrangle her and a huge bag of unwieldy items for two hours. In the back of my head I knew I was pushing my luck but when the desire to take on IKEA appears (even at 38 weeks pregnant), you don’t ignore it! It was definitely an adventure complete with sweat, tears, and a $2 plate of macaroni and cheese. So overall, a success!

DIY Polka Dot Wallpaper | Ann-Marie Loves

Well, once I got a taste of the nesting bug, I decided to tackle another semi-big project that I have been thinking about forever: DIY polka dot wallpaper! I’ve had my eye on removable wallpaper for months but decided to do the next best thing and make it myself. I was really inspired by these loose, freeform dots and was determined to try it a different way! I figured, if it’s a total bust, I can easily remove it. But if it’s a success, I could revel in my crafting glory until the end of freaking time.

DIY Polka Dot Wallpaper | Ann-Marie Loves

To cover this long wall, I picked up three rolls of black vinyl and freehand cut out circles. I had thought about using my Cameo to expedite the process, but I kind of love the look of the imperfect circles. So scissors it was! Sometimes low tech is the best way to go.

DIY Polka Dot Wallpaper | Ann-Marie Loves

The whole wall took about 4-5 hours from cutting the vinyl to applying the last dot. Not too bad! I had many podcasts to keep me company and a wonderful father in law to entertain the toddler while I got to work.

DIY Polka Dot Wallpaper | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar’s room (that she will eventually share with her brother) was the very first room I tackled when we moved in. I wanted to make sure she had a fun and welcoming place to play and read and get acclimated to her new surroundings. Somehow it has ended up being the room that all three of us love to hang out in! It sadly doesn’t get great natural light so we have filled it with warm lamps (including this heart-shaped beauty!) and lots of bright, happy colors to make up for the void. I’d say she’s pretty happy with the results :)

39 weeks.

Posted on: Monday, September 26, 2016

39 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

“Thirty Nine Weeks” from Baby On Board Digital Brushes

Well, here we are. A few days shy of 40 weeks and absolutely no signs of labor to speak of. I don’t know why I’m even the slightest bit surprised…my babies historically like to stay put! Luckily, this little guy is not as big as they predicted he would be, so as of right now, there’s no reason to rush the process. I had a nice long chat with my doctor (love him) and we both agreed that an early induction was unnecessary and we still have the breathing room to wait and see if anything happens on its own. So we wait.

39 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

39 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

I have been feeling either super exhausted or super energized these past few weeks. There’s rarely any middle ground which makes planning ahead a bit of a challenge. While I’m not exactly looking forward to the delivery /recovery process, I am feeling eager to sleep on my stomach again. And go for walks without my feet killing me. Oh, and WINE. (That’s the only way to do it when you have multiple children, right?) I’m also pretty darn excited to put his wardrobe to use. I hung up all his tiny clothes the other day and now I get excited every time I open the closet doors.

39 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

39 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

I absolutely loved being pregnant with Briar and for the most part, I really enjoyed this pregnancy as well. However, after wrangling a toddler while growing another human these past nine months, I’m feeling very ready to have him on the outside. I know it will be A LOT of work and I’m sure I’ll be overwhelmed most days, but it will be nice to be able to stand and run and get through life without feeling instantly tired. As for Briar, well, she has no idea what’s coming. We talk about “baby brother” all the time and she vaguely grasps the concept of him living in my stomach, but it will be interesting to watch her take on the big sister role. I know she’s going to be great.

This week we have Santa Ana winds rolling through and I’m hoping the onslaught of positive ions that make some people crazy / sick / angry will work in my favor and put me into labor. Wishful thinking, I’m sure ;)

My robe // Briar’s dress

diy painted wooden bead necklace.

Posted on: Friday, September 23, 2016

DIY Painted Wooden Bead Necklace | Ann-Marie Loves

Sometimes I go through these obscure crafting phases where I feel compelled to buy supplies that I don’t normally gravitate towards. Case in point: wooden beads. Initially I bought a variety of wooden bead shapes so that I could make Briar a necklace, but then I realized that I kind of wanted to make one for myself!

DIY Painted Wooden Bead Necklace | Ann-Marie Loves

The supplies are about as easy + cheap as they come: a pack of small wooden beads, white twine, acrylic paint, and q-tips.

DIY Painted Wooden Bead Necklace | Ann-Marie Loves

By a very happy accident, I came to the realization that q-tips are the perfect way to hold beads in place for painting. Just make sure you don’t let the fuzzy part of the q-tip come in contact with the paint, unless hairy beads are your jam.

DIY Painted Wooden Bead Necklace | Ann-Marie Loves

For the polka dot bead, I painted it white and then once it was dry (like, four minutes later…I love acrylic paint), I added dots using a regular black Sharpie.

DIY Painted Wooden Bead Necklace | Ann-Marie Loves

Once all five beads were painted, I strung them on a long strand of twine and tied a knot to seal off a circle shape.

DIY Painted Wooden Bead Necklace | Ann-Marie Loves

DIY Painted Wooden Bead Necklace | Ann-Marie Loves

And here’s the finished product!

settling in.

Posted on: Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ann-Marie Loves

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

Ann-Marie Loves

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

Ann-Marie Loves

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

Ann-Marie Loves

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

Note to self: GO WITH THE FLOW.

hospital bag essentials.

Posted on: Friday, September 16, 2016

Before I had Briar, I spent lots of time researching what I should pack in my hospital bag to make sure I covered all my bases. While I did a pretty good job (considering I had no idea what I was doing), it was definitely way too much stuff for a three day stay in a tiny little recovery room. This time around, I’m much more realistic about what I will actually use. I only want to pack the bare essentials and then if I need anything else, I’ll have my mom bring it to me (that’s what moms are for, right?). Here’s what I’m definitely packing for baby number two:

Hospital Bag Essentials for Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

01. Infant Car Seat. This might be a no-brainer, but having a way to transport the baby from hospital to home is key. John and I just got this new car seat so that we can accommodate both babies in both of our cars without having to do any switcheroos.

02. Mints. When you don’t have nurses and doctors all up in your business, you probably will have guests that will want to come see you when, quite honestly, you look like you were just hit by a bus (ha!). Being able to pop mints for all those interactions is a win-win for everyone involved.

03. Dry Shampoo. When you’re in the hospital and you have a baby attached to you almost 24/7, styling your hair is not exactly a top priority. Being able to freshen up your look in just a few minutes with a little bit of dry shampoo is so handy.

04. iPhone Chargers. This is one of those items that might be overlooked, but it’s so crucial to have your chargers on hand! You don’t want to miss a moment of your newborn’s first few days because you ran out of battery!

05. Delivery / Nursing Robe. As soon as I saw this robe from Pinkblush, I knew I had to have it. I wore a plain white robe almost nonstop for the first few months of Briar’s life; this time I’ll have something much more stylish!

06. Nursing Pillow. These kinds of pillows are not only great for those long infant nursing sessions, but they’re also the perfect cushion to sit on after having a baby. Take my word on this ;)

07. Hat, Booties, Outfit. Well, this is definitely the most exciting part of the packing! I love going through tiny clothes and choosing the right look for baby’s first introduction to the outside world.

08. NUK Pacifiers. Before we had Briar and we were in the thick of baby care classes, one of the biggest takeaways we learned was not to introduce a pacifier before nursing was well-established. Well, I’m here to tell you that we broke that rule on night two of Briar’s life when I had my mom smuggle a few pacis into our hospital room. As it turned out, they worked like a charm and we never once experienced any kind of “nipple confusion” during our nineteen months of nursing. You do what’s best for you and your family!

09. Camera. Self-explanatory. Take as many photos as you possibly can! Your baby will grow up so fast and you’ll forget just how teeny tiny he was when he made his debut :)

how i edit instagram photos.

Posted on: Thursday, September 15, 2016

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

I’ve seen a handful of people write this post and each and every person (all of whom have impeccable taste!) has a completely different method for achieving her beautiful images. I love learning new tips and tricks so I figured I might as well chime in and share my personal take on getting Instagram photos to my liking.

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

Here is the photo I took using the built-in Camera app on my iPhone. I always try to make my photos look as good as possible from the very start so that when I go to edit them, I don’t have to make any major cosmetic changes. In the case of a flat-lay like this shot, I used a white foam board (a must if you take a lot of overhead shots!) and placed it near a window with plentiful natural light.

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

01. Once I have my photo, I open up the VSCO app. Not only does VSCO make my favorite iPhone photo app but they also sell my favorite Lightroom filters that I use with my DSLR images. Needless to say, I’m a big fan! To begin, I almost always use the C1 filter and adjust it to suit the needs of each particular image.

02. Bumping up the Exposure is a must. I try not to go higher than 2, however, because it quickly diminishes the quality of the photo.

03. Sharpen is a handy tool for bringing in a little more polish and drama to the image.

04. For a colorful photo like this, I love using Saturation to really exaggerate the bright colors.

05. I prefer that all my images have a warm quality to them, so a little bump of red from the Shadows Tint feature makes my eyes happy.

06. In the case of this image, I felt that the overall picture could use a little more depth, so I ended the VSCO editing process with a slight bit of Contrast.

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

And here’s how the image looked once I exported it from the VSCO app. I adore the way this photo looks but I knew I could make it even more eye-catching if I used two small tweaks in Instagram.

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

07. I bring my edited photo into Instagram where I apply a small degree of the Clarendon filter. I love how sharp and white this filter makes my photos look! You can still see a little bit of the pink-ish hue created in VSCO, but the overall image is much brighter and more striking.

08. Finally, I use the Brightness feature to pump up the image even further. I really love how far Instagram has come with their built-in editing features!

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

And here is the final image! Pretty crazy how a few small changes can really elevate a photo, no?

What are your favorite photo-editing apps?

faux letterpress tray for toddler room.

Posted on: Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

John and I are moving this week and possibly having a baby next week, so I figured, what better time to ignore all my responsibilities and work on a project I pinned? Ha! All I have to say is, when you feel the need to make something, MAKE SOMETHING. You’ll feel so much better once you give in to your creative urges. Even if it means ditching your to-do list for a few hours ;)

Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

I have been obsessed with the idea of filling a letterpress tray with miniature animal figurines basically from the moment I knew I was having Briar, but I haven’t been able to track down a cool letterpress tray for a decent price. So! I decided to do the next best thing: buy a $6 divided wooden tray from Michaels and paint it myself!

Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

This tray is pretty shallow so it didn’t take too long to cover it with white paint. I think applied maybe three coats? As usual, it’s not a perfect paint job but that’s more than fine with me.

Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

While the tray was drying, I painted each of the animals’ ears pink and added a little heart to the donkey. Because why not?

Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

And once everything was ready, I styled it up! The animals fit into the slots perfectly, plus a few of the recent Instax photos of Briar make for a fun addition to the overall look.Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m so happy with the way it turned out and I’m already excited to swap out the animals for bottle brush trees in a few months! Yay for procrastination crafting!

full term!

Posted on: Monday, September 12, 2016

Full Term! | Ann-Marie Loves

As of last week, I reached the 37 week mark which officially means I’ve made it full term! Hooray!

Full Term! | Ann-Marie Loves

It always feels like a bit of a relief reaching the official “the baby can now safely come at anytime” milestone. It also feels a little bit insane! I mean, the baby could technically arrive AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT. Am I ready? Is John ready? Is anyone ever really ready? I don’t think it’s possible to fully wrap my brain around what lies ahead of me.

Full Term! | Ann-Marie Loves

Part of me is thrilled to meet this little guy and finally see his face, but the other part of me is slightly terrified to begin the newborn phase all over again (and this time with a toddler!). My body is definitely feeling pretty run-down these days. I feel more physically taxed now than I did at this stage when I was pregnant with Briar. Sleeping is also getting to be a much bigger challenge simply because I need a million bathroom breaks in the middle of the night! I’ve also noticed that I’ve been turning inward a lot more than my usual introverted self prefers, which is exactly what happened with my first pregnancy. It’s almost like nature’s way of forcing me to turn off any outside noise and focus on the upcoming task…so interesting! But the baby is constantly moving and grooving, which always gives me pause and makes me feel SO GRATEFUL for what my body can do, in spite of the minor discomforts and inconveniences.

Full Term! | Ann-Marie Loves

I have another ultrasound scheduled to determine just how big this baby is (definitely way bigger than that watermelon above!) and that will be the deciding factor in whether or not I am induced around the 39 week mark. I just realized last night that my little family may only have one more weekend as a threesome before we add another member to the gang…crazy! I’ve been feeling the itch to start nesting, so this coming week will be filled with washing tiny clothes, packing a hospital bag, and getting everything ready for our next big adventure!

apple + peanut butter cookies.

Posted on: Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Apple + Peanut Butter Cookies | Ann-Marie Loves

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

Apple + Peanut Butter Cookies | Ann-Marie Loves

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

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

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