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!
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.
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.
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.
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 ;)
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.
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!
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.
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!
I have been on a serious scrapbooking kick lately and I must admit…I’m super excited about it! I started an album for Briar two weeks ago and am happily filling it up whenever I can find a few hours to sit down and play with paper. These pages were made thanks in part to a long naptime, coffee, and the Kardashians on repeat via Hulu. #essentials
To fill up the backside of the previous layout, I made another page using my favorite colorful sheet from the first Messy Box kit and the photo I carefully selected to announce Briar’s arrival on social media (such a big decision!). For the embellishing, I was so excited when I remembered that I had some of my favorite stamps on hand: Martha Stewart alphas and Kelly Purkey wooden alphas. What is it about stamping a title that feels so satisfying? I also used a handful of Amy Tangerine stickers, gold Thickers, and lots of enamel dots!
As it turns out, I’m really loving the whole “cut photos up and stick them in separate pockets” thing. It’s such a fun way to work a divided page protector! For this page, I kept things simple and used three photos, white watercolor paper, and gold heart Thickers. Holy moly, that middle photo of one day old baby Briar kills me.
These photos of Briar in the hospital tug at my heart…how was she ever so tiny? I’m so grateful that we brought the big camera and our iPhones to document those crazy first few days! For this spread, I chose some of my favorite pictures and cropped them to 3 x 3″ to fill out the center pockets of both pages. I also cut up a sheet of watercolor paper that I had loosely painted with black craft paint and used that to tie the spread together. Super easy!
P.S. The first installment of Briar’s scrapbook!
The other day, John was recounting just how upset I was when I first discovered that our Utah apartment did not have a recycling bin on the premises. I had totally forgotten about that! To combat the issue, I kept a huge box of recyclables in our place and then when it was full, I would force John to help me take them to a recycling center a few miles away. It was a major hassle, but it pained me more to throw away anything that I know can be recycled, or even better, upcycled. You can take the girl out of California…
So recently, as I neared the end of a spool of Dear Lizzy baker’s twine, I knew just how to give it new life.
To begin, I pulled the labels off of the baker’s twine spool using an xacto knife.
Next, I took baker’s twine from a different spool and wrapped it all the way around the spool until it was completely covered.
From there, I busted out my Cuttlebug and cut out feathers using a nesting die and a few sheets of Daydreamer paper.
Once I had the feathers cut out, I tied long strands of baker’s twine to each shape.
Finally, I tied each strand to the upcycled ribbon spool and hung it in Briar’s room! Easy to make and easy on the environment.
You want to know what Briar loves more than anything? Wires. Doggie doors. Hanging off the edge of the bed. Putting shoes in her mouth. You name a dangerous situation and I can guarantee Briar is a fan. In fact, I feel like I spend most of my days hiding things from her (“let’s not eat the baby monitor”) or picking her up and moving her to a safer spot (which buys me, oh, five seconds of free time before the cycle repeats). Needless to say, the girl is fearless and I am…exhausted. Ha!
So the other day, as we were strolling the aisles of Target, I spotted this white shag rug and realized it would be perfect for creating a safe spot in my bedroom for Briar to play on. Since we spend a good chunk of time in there everyday, between feedings, snuggling, reading books, and hanging out while I get ready, it was about time that I made it more baby-friendly. I laid out the rug by my side of the bed and gathered together a basket of books and toys as well as a tall canvas bag filled with blankets and a few stuffed animals. I already had a bedside basket of immediate essentials, so the combination of the three containers plus the super plush rug made the space extra inviting for an inquisitive eight month old.
While she’s still on the prowl for the electrical outlets or the sharp corners in the room (#lordhelpme), this new Briar-safe space is definitely helping to keep her distracted!
Good news, guys: the nesting instinct is still live and kicking! (Insert a million “thumbs up” emojis here). My free time may be more limited these days, but I am still very much obsessed with making this house a home for my little family.
The other day, I decided to take advantage of one of Briar’s midday naps and paint the back wall of our dining room hutch. It was a simple project that took maybe an hour and only required a single bottle of Martha Stewart craft paint + a paintbrush. As a new mom, I’ve learned that any kind of task that can be started + finished in a single stretch is a major victory!
How it looked before painting the back wall.
The back story behind this hutch:
A few weeks after moving to Pasadena, I spotted it abandoned on the curb and instantly knew it had to be mine. I had SO MANY pieces of glassware from our wedding just sitting in boxes…needless to say, the timing could not have been better! Sure, the hutch wasn’t perfect and the brown paint job was, well, not exactly my favorite. But the price point! (Or lack thereof.) It was truly meant to be. So I convinced John to help me lug it in the house and it’s been sitting in our dining space ever since.
I still have grand plans of painting the whole thing white + then wallpapering the back wall, but in the meantime, the bright pop of aqua is totally filling that void. I love the color that it brings to our dining room and I am so thrilled with the way it showcases my glassware!
Nesting instinct, feel free to stay forever.
One of the most surprising things I’ve noticed since having Briar is that although my roles + responsibilities have changed, I still feel like myself. For some reason, I had assumed that being a mom would essentially turn me into a brand new person with brand new likes + dislikes, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Instead, I’m still the same ol’ Ann-Marie, who wants to make stuff and decorate my home and go thrifting for treasures, just with a lot less time (and no free hands!) to actually do those things. If anything’s changed, it’s that I’ve learned to seize those short bursts of free time and get things done as fast as possible. They may be infrequent but they’re perfect for squeezing in quick projects that satisfy my need to create + make my living space a happy place for the three of us.
One of my recent projects: a gold fringe mobile to hang over Briar’s crib!
The gold fringe was leftover from our wedding and I had no idea what to do with it until it hit me to cut it into 3 foot increments and turn those pieces into tassels. Then I stapled each tassel along a lengthy strand of baker’s twine and somehow managed to fold it in half enough times to create this cool chandelier shape.
The best part of all (aside from the fact that I was able to incorporate my beloved GOLD into the baby’s room) is that it’s super lightweight, making it both easy to hang from the ceiling with super tape AND earthquake-safe.
Briar is still sleeping in a bassinet in our bedroom (where she will stay until she’s at least 18), but we spend a lot of time in the nursery / office. As the sunlight shifts throughout the day, the golden light reflecting off the mobile bounces around the room like a disco ball, completely captivating both the baby and myself.
Long live gold fringe!
To say that I like to experiment with my living space would be an understatement. I LOVE to experiment and play and tinker my life away with all of the big + small pieces that make this house a home. But because our budget for decor is, oh, next to nothing these days (hi, scary hospital bills.) (p.s. did you know that an epidural costs three thousand dollars? THREE THOUSAND? I mean, money well spent, but whoa there.) (p.p.s. in my next life, I’m becoming an anesthesiologist.), I have to get resourceful and only invest in pieces that will work in any room, in any season, in any home.
Case in point: the Vibrant Diamond pillow from Tiny Prints.
When Tiny Prints approached me about putting my own spin on their new customizable home decor line, I jumped at the chance. Not only am I a huge fan of their products, but having the ability to personalize them? Icing on the cake.
I decided to go with the Vibrant Diamond pillow and put my favorite phrase, “XOXO,” on it, since it would lend itself perfectly to any room in my home. Here I have it styled in our master bedroom, but you can see how it works just as well in Briar’s nursery too!
This post is sponsored by Tiny Prints, but the opinions and ideas are all my own.
Before Briar arrived, I went into serious laser focus mode and cranked out as many projects as I possibly could. In fact, the night before I was induced (I didn’t know I would be induced), I stayed up late mopping the whole house, deep cleaning the kitchen sink, reorganizing the coat closet, and crossing items off my to-do list like nobody’s biz. I don’t know if I’ve ever been (or will ever be again!) so productive in my life! Now I’m thanking Pregnant Ann-Marie for plowing through those projects because lord knows that Mom-of-a-Newborn Ann-Marie considers having her coffee before 4pm a major accomplishment. But it’s all good, I promise :)
Some of my favorite projects that I managed to eke out pre-Briar were these three tutorials:
Woven Ribbon Wall Hanging. I think we all know by now that I love a good weaving project. Using ribbon instead of yarn was definitely a bit of a challenge, but with colors like those found in this ribbon set, it was well worth the extra effort!
Clothespin Wall Decor. Decorating Briar’s nursery will forever be one of my all-time favorite ongoing projects. I love adding new touches here and there, so when I saw these adorable clothespins, I knew they would bring in a little playfulness to the spot above Briar’s changing table.
Geometric Banner. When it comes to pretty patterned paper and my Cameo, I simply cannot be stopped. I found this awesome shape designed by Amy Robison in the Silhouette store and had to give it a whirl. Now the banner hangs in my office (next to the much-asked-about bunny vase!) and makes me happy :)