Entries Tagged as 'everyday'

life with a two year old.

Posted on: Monday, August 22, 2016

Life With a Toddler | Ann-Marie Loves

I realize we are only a few weeks in, but life with a two year old is…so much fun. So much work, so much frustration, so much to learn, but so much fun. I swear Briar woke up on her second birthday and was suddenly a new person. She speaks in full sentences, she says words I had no clue that she knew, she is starting to count and recognize letters, and she can throw one heck of a tantrum ;)

Life With a Toddler | Ann-Marie Loves

How cute is this cape??

Briar and I spend most of our days together and although there are (many) moments that I envy those with full-time jobs away from home, I wouldn’t trade this time with her for ANYTHING. Someone that I love and respect as a mother recently told me that even though I often feel like my life is a mess and I have no idea what I am doing, I’m right where I need to be when it comes to raising Briar. She encouraged me to view all the time I get to spend with Briar as an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I’ll never get back, so I might as well enjoy it and not wish it away. That simple shift in perspective has really changed my mindset for the better and gotten me through a lot of looooong days. I know Briar better than anyone else and it feels incredible to be the one (along with John) that she turns to when she needs comforting. John and I make plenty of mistakes but when I see Briar’s face light up when she sees us, I know we must be doing something right.

Life With a Toddler | Ann-Marie Loves

The other day as we were walking up stairs, Briar pushed on my legs and said “quicker Mama, quicker!” Quicker? No idea where she learned that.  When she colors with markers and inevitably gets ink on her hands, she demands that I take her to “wash your hands!” as soon as possible. She has definite opinions about her wardrobe (and the wardrobes of others) and often exclaims “cute!” or “pwetty!” when a certain look agrees with her. The best is when she loves something that Dada is wearing (“Cute, Dada!”) – ha! Every morning when she wakes up, she likes to run through the roster of her family members / animals and their whereabouts (“Dada is at work? Uncle is sleeping? Mac is at his house?”). Briar is now a fan of accessories (hats and glasses are her favorites) and will finally let us put her hair in a ponytail. Running errands with her is getting to be a little bit trickier and a little less frequent because she would much rather walk (read: run) than sit in a cart. But most importantly, Briar has been saying “I love you, Mama!” out of the blue, and THAT makes every difficult moment totally worth it :)

Here are a few of our must-have toddler items that we use on a daily basis:

Life With a Two Year Old | Ann-Marie Loves

01. Camelback Kids Water Bottles. We’ve tried a lot of different water bottles over the past two years, but this specific brand and model works perfectly for little hands and never spills! Plus, Briar loves pushing the button and watching the spout pop out!

02. Beaba Multiportion Serving Tray. So I bought this back when Briar was an infant when I had high hopes of making her homemade purées. But as it turned out, Briar was never much for being fed with a spoon by others and instead took to baby led weaning so she could feed herself. However! All was not lost with this tray. In fact, it has become my favorite way to serve Briar meals because the serving sizes are perfect for toddler appetites and it allows me to offer her a wide range of foods in one container.

03. Honest Company Conditioning Detangler. Having a daughter with wildly curly hair has proven to be a bit of a challenge. Not only is it tricky to style but it tangles so easily. Everyday we spritz her hair with Honest Detangler and carefully work out the knots with a soft-bristled brush.

04. GoGo Squeeze Applesauce Packets. Okay, these are not only great for stashing in my backpack and passing to Briar in the backseat to quell any hangriness but I love them too! Even in her pickiest moments, I can almost always get Briar to eat applesauce.

05. Kindle Fire + Kid’s Case. Say what you will about screen time but it has proven to be a very helpful asset to have in our back pocket. Not only is it handy for moments when I need Briar to calm down and stay in one place for a few minutes but I know she has learned so much from the shows we let her watch, especially Sarah + Duck! We bought Briar her own tablet and kid-safe case a few months ago and she can navigate Netflix with the best of them (Sarah + Duck, Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Hive, and anything with Mickey Mouse in it are her faves).

06. 360 Degree Toothbrush. I don’t know about you but it’s hard to brush baby teeth! Briar either flat out refuses to have her teeth brushed or she chews on the brush as we try to work it around her mouth. Luckily, this particular brush has bristles that go all the way around the handle which allows us to reach her top and bottom teeth in one fell swoop. Such a genius concept.

simple activities to keep toddlers busy.

Posted on: Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Simple Activities to Keep Toddlers Busy | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m always on the lookout for simple ways to keep Briar entertained, especially during these insanely hot summer months when the last thing I want to do is go outside. After a little trial and error, I’ve come across three foolproof methods for keeping Briar occupied for short periods of time and thought I would pass them along to you!

01. Crayons. I turned a pack of basic Crayola crayons into hearts recently and they have been in heavy rotation around here. Briar loves to color and often summons those around her to help her draw “apple, nanas (bananas), and duck!” (Always in that order.)

02. Stickers. I’ve been obsessed with stickers as far back as I can remember (Stickopotamus, anyone?), so it comes as no surprise that I’ve passed my love on to Briar. These neon dot stickers from the office supply section are less than two dollars and make Briar just as happy as any Disney or animal-themed sticker. Of course she loves to stick them to walls like any other toddler, but when I’m on top of things, I’ll redirect her sticker-ing to scratch pieces of paper or notebooks.

03. Pompoms. I picked up a pack of pink, orange, and red pompoms from Target and they have been some of the best three dollars and ninety nine cents I’ve ever spent! Briar loves to sort them into small bowls or the multi-portion silicone container that we use for snacks.

these three things: podcast edition.

Posted on: Friday, July 29, 2016

These Three Things: Podcast Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

On Wednesday, John and I took advantage of our upgrade eligibility and bought ourselves new phones. Even though we’ve had iPhones for years, there’s nothing quite like a brand new toy with 64 gigs of free space just waiting to be filled up! In fact, one of the first things I did (aside from download all the apps I had to delete from my last phone for severe lack of space) was take a 40 second video BECAUSE I COULD. Oh man, I feel like I have a whole new lease on life! And of course, having all this free space also means that I can take advantage of the podcast app and subscribe to allllll my favorite podcasts.

Here are three episodes that I listened to my commute yesterday:

Bitch Sesh. I could write a novel about how much I live for this Real Housewives-themed podcast each week…my love for Casey + Danielle knows no bounds! So I was particularly thrilled to find out that I could listen to the recording of their live show in LA from a few days ago, especially since I was SUPER bummed about not scoring tickets to it in time (luckily I snagged one for their next show in August!). Oh man, it did not disappoint. I barely noticed any 405 freeway traffic because I was too busy laughing hysterically.

Young House Love Has a Podcast. I recently discovered this podcast and was psyched when I realized their latest episode was focused on sponsored posts. My mind was BLOWN with how much Emily Henderson commands for a single post…so inspiring! This is a must-listen for any bloggers or social media influencers looking to gain more insight into the mystery of paid posts.

One Part Podcast. I adore this show and really enjoyed the latest episode with Julia Turshen. I find Julia to be so endearing and relatable, plus Jessica is always a gem.

What are you guys listening to these days?

early motherhood in one sentence.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Early Motherhood in One Sentence | Ann-Marie Loves

“I do feel that as my children grow [they’ll] be able to join in the problem solving side of things, but for now I feel mostly like a cruise director, keeping everyone blissfully occupied while constantly on the look-out for icebergs.” – C. Jane Kendrick

getting back into regular blogging.

Posted on: Monday, July 25, 2016

Getting Back Into Regular Blogging | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m in a good season of life right now as a mom and as a creative. Like I’ve mentioned before, as soon as Briar began sleeping through the night and her daily nap subsequently became a consistent thing, I felt like myself again. Sleep is hugely important in my world and even though I had grown accustomed to interrupted sleep with a baby, I hadn’t fully realized the toll it took on my whole life. I was basically running at half speed! Now it’s no wonder my creativity took a serious nosedive and my general outlook on life was, well…dim. I say all this knowing that I’m about to reenter another sleepless season, but this time I have the foresight to know that this too shall pass. That one day I will put both of my kids down for bed, turn off the light, and know that I have a good ten to twelve hours before they will wake up again. My baby is almost TWO and I swear to you, I feel like John and I just brought her home from the hospital. Time flies.

Getting Back Into Regular Blogging | Ann-Marie Loves

So anyways, back to blogging.

A few months back, I had a super productive weekend in which I took photos for blog posts and sponsored Instagram posts way ahead of time (with lots of help from my husband) and I felt SO GOOD about myself for the whole week after. I knew then and there that I needed to take advantage of having John around on weekends, not only for watching Briar but for taking photos of me that I could use for upcoming projects and posts. Now it’s become a regular occurrence. I keep a running list of blog posts I want to write and photos I want to take. Then on Fridays, I’ll write out the blog posts that I want to shoot over the weekend in my planner and prepare ahead so that my time and John’s time is used wisely and we can focus on more important things…like taking Briar swimming! I love sitting down at the computer on Sunday night and editing all the photos from the weekend and dropping them into blog post drafts (with the words to be added later). It has become one of my favorite weekly rituals as it not only helps me feel like I’m staying one step ahead but it also keeps my creativity humming consistently.

Getting Back Into Regular Blogging | Ann-Marie Loves

I’ve also really been enjoying the challenge of partnering with various brands to create occasional sponsored content. Of course I love being compensated for my time and ideas but I also really love having to push myself to create posts that feel in line with my own style and voice while showcasing another brand. It’s an exciting creative challenge, for sure! I get pitched potential collaborations on a regular basis but I’ve finally come to the point where I refuse to work for free, UNLESS it’s for a product that I would already be buying or for a really good friend / cause that I believe in. Like everyone else in this world, I have bills to pay, and sadly I can’t pay for them with free shoes. I don’t say this to sound pompous or self-serving; I say this to empower anyone who is in a similar boat as me. It’s taken years and a lot of encouragement from others, but I’ve finally realized that I deserve to be paid for my time and effort, just like every other non-blogging professional. I want the same for you!

Getting Back Into Regular Blogging | Ann-Marie Loves

But most importantly, blogging on a regular basis has been FUN. I’ve been writing about the things that interest me instead of worrying about whether my content is on trend or what I may have written about in the past, and it has definitely helped to keep the momentum going. I’m sure my pace will slow down over the next couple of months, but for now, I am enjoying this creative challenge all over again!

P.S. What kinds of posts would you like to see here?

backyard camping + kohl’s giveaway.

Posted on: Friday, July 22, 2016

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

I grew up camping fairly often, both with my family and with Girl Scouts, and I have incredible memories of sitting around campfires, sleeping in tents, and waking up to fresh air. There’s nothing quite like spending time in the great outdoors, yet for some reason I’ve become that person that values warm showers and air conditioning over tasty s’mores and sleeping under the stars. However! I am determined to give camping another go simply because I know Briar will absolutely LOVE it. That girl has never met a pile of dirt that she didn’t love and I owe it to her to give her as many outdoor experiences as possible.

So while I warm up to the idea of spending a few nights in nature, I’ve decided we can tackle the next best thing: backyard camping! In partnership with Kohl’s, we pulled together our camping essentials and “roughed” it in the backyard for a fun-filled adventure.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

First things first: coffee!

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Using the impossibly cool blue enamelware percolator + mugs from Stansport, I was able to enjoy a fresh batch of coffee while Briar enjoyed a cold mug of milk.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Things were off to a very good start.


We put together a little dining area and enjoyed popcorn made with Stanley’s 13-piece prep and cook mess set. Briar was all about the popcorn situation. She loved sneaking in bites and scooping spoonfuls back and forth between the bowls using the big ladle (which she quickly adopted as her own).

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Cheers to dining al fresco!

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

The ciao! baby portable high chair proved to be super helpful when it came to feeding this little gal. The cup holder kept her water bottle close at hand and the easy-to-clean surface was perfect for quick clean-up after polishing off a whole bowl of popcorn!

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

In addition to acting as the perfect makeshift table, the Stanley 30-quart cooler kept our beverages nice and cool during a blazing hot summer day.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Okay, how awesome is this tent?! I love the retro feel and was pleasantly surprised with how roomy it was inside! It felt very Moonrise Kingdom. Briar was also a big fan of turning the LED lantern on and off, on and off…

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

We quickly made ourselves right at home and read Briar’s favorite stories by the light of the lantern. It was such a relaxing evening and I loved having that cuddle time with my girl outside while a cool breeze blew through our tent.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Our first camping experience was a success! I’m feeling a little more confident now about taking our adventures on the road to a more remote destination. Three cheers for the great outdoors!


Now it’s your turn to stock up on camping goods! Click HERE be entered to win a $50 Kohl’s gift card! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends 8/1/16 at 11:59:59 p.m. PT. Open to legal residents of the US/DC who are 18+ yrs of age. For full details see Official Rules. Good luck! Winners will be contacted on or about August 8th.

Thank you to Kohl’s for collaboration on this post. I was compensated and received products from Kohl’s Camping department for my review, but all opinions and experiences are solely my own.

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mama + baby top knots.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mama + Baby Top Knots | Ann-Marie Loves

When I was pregnant with Briar and trying to imagine what she would look like, I always envisioned straight dirty blonde hair with enviable bangs and a tiny top knot. While I was right about her hair color, I certainly never would have guessed that we would be blessed with a super curly-haired gal! It’s still a bit of a mystery as to where those curls came from (we suspect it’s John’s side) but now I can’t imagine Briar having anything else!

Mama + Baby Top Knots | Ann-Marie Loves

Her hair has grown like crazy over the past couple of months which means it is long enough to put into a tiny little ponytail worn on the top of her head, the same way I put up my hair. And the best part of all is that Briar is finally allowing us to put her hair up and leave it there all day. Before now, she would instantly pull out any ponytails, headbands, or barrettes…girl just wanted to be free!

Mama + Baby Top Knots | Ann-Marie Loves

I get such a kick out of seeing her hair up because she look a entirely different person, albeit a very grown up person! Plus, I would be lying if I said I didn’t love having a matching hairstyle as my babe. I keep thinking I want to cut my hair even shorter (I’m in full-blown MOM MODE), but then I think, nope, you need enough hair for a top knot! We’ll see…

Mama + Baby Top Knots | Ann-Marie Loves

As for now, it’s matching top knots for the two of us!

summer in the pool.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

With summer in full-swing here in Southern California, we are spending our days underwater. If you’re a long-time reader, then you already know that summer is, well…not exactly my favorite season. It’s especially tricky to get through those endless heatwaves while pregnant and constantly sweating. Speaking of sweating, I have a theory (and please chime in and let me know your thoughts!): people that DON’T sweat tend to love summer while people that DO sweat tend to despise the summer. I mean, it makes sense right?

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

But I digress!

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

All of this is to say, Briar and I are living in the pool. We wake up, have breakfast, and then immediately throw on our swimsuits and sunscreen and head outside for a dip. I am not usually a huge fan of hanging out in the pool all day (I always feel like I could be doing something more productive), but Briar’s infectious love of swimming and my need to cool down + let my pregnant body feel weightless for a bit is really turning me into a regular pool-goer! We did mommy + me swim lessons in May and while I wouldn’t say she is a proficient swimmer just yet, her skills continue to grow and impress me everyday! It’s so awesome to watch these tiny little people morph into capable humans.

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

Plus, the very best part of all is that the time spent in the sun + the water almost always leads to Briar taking a looooong nap in the afternoon (sometimes she will sleep as long as 3.5 hours…!). And that, my friends, is the REAL gift that keeps on giving.

Briar’s Swimsuit // Briar’s Sunglasses // My Sunglasses

how i found my new normal with productivity.

Posted on: Friday, July 8, 2016

Change of Workflow | How I've Found My New Normal With Productivity | Ann-Marie Loves

My workflow these days is definitely a departure from what it once was. Before I had Briar (and even right up until she turned one), I was pretty lax about the structure and schedule of the day as a whole. I would work when I had the time or the inspiration, but if there wasn’t a firm deadline looming in my near future, I let the flow of the day dictate the amount of work I churned out. While this sounds great in theory (and for the most part, it worked for my past lifestyle), I always felt a bit all over the place. I’m not a planner by nature and the idea of a rigid schedule usually turns me off, but as I’ve gotten a couple of years of self-employment under my belt, I now understand the value of planning and setting goals.

Nowadays, a few things are different:

  • For one, Briar has become a consistent napper and I can almost always count on her to nap between 1-3 hours in the afternoon. I can’t even tell you how big of a game-changer her daily naps — and the fact that she sleeps through the night! — are! I use her nap time to really buckle down and focus on getting things done, especially tasks that require minimal distractions. I am also very lucky to have my father-in-law watch Briar for a few hours 2-3 days a week, which allows me to either work from home or to work with Amy in her studio. As much as I cherish my time with my baby, there’s nothing quite like time away from her to really make me appreciate just how much I love her and want to be with her.
  • Secondly, I’ve become a devoted planner user. I’ve always loved planners and agenda books (pretty sure they were the highlight of my school experience), but I haven’t been as consistent about using them regularly as I am now. I started last summer with a Ban.do planner (the spiral bound version) and absolutely loved it, but then when I saw that the new Get to Work Book was launching, well…I couldn’t help but finally order one for myself (and I’m so glad I did!). As a designer, I find that using beautifully-designed products enhances my experience, so I am more than happy to open up my GTWB each morning and set goals for myself. Every week, I like to write out all the things I know I have to get done and then fill in more information as it becomes available to me. In the mornings, I’ll make Briar and myself breakfast and while she is entertained for a few minutes, I’ll write out my to-do list for the day in my planner. I absolutely love this ritual and find that it really does help me set the tone for the entire day.
  • Finally, I’ve come to the realization that I can’t be the night owl that I once was. I used to be able to stay up wayyyyy too late and crank out work during those quiet hours, but I just can’t do it anymore. After chasing a toddler around all day (and growing another baby), the last thing I want to do at night is sit down and work. This realization has given me the push I need to get as much work done as I can during the daytime so that my nights can be free for relaxing with my family and getting to bed at a relatively normal hour. I find that I am much more productive when I set those clear boundaries for myself, plus, it plays into my theory that mini goals are really the most effective way for me to get things done!

I realize my life will once again get turned upside down when the new baby arrives this Fall, but this time I feel much more prepared to make adjustments as I go and use the tools I’ve set in place to work to my advantage.

P.S. I wrote an e-course on productivity called Make It Happen!

nana + briar bake chocolate chip cookies.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 6, 2016


We’ve been staying with my parents while we figure out our next move and while it’s not always ideal, there are definitely some perks. Case in point: Nana’s famous chocolate chip cookies! Last week while I was at work, my mom sent me photos of Briar helping her bake cookies (while wearing her new apron, of course). First of all, I couldn’t get over how cute Briar looked, but secondly, it totally opened my eyes to all the new things we can do together now that she is almost two years old! (I need to remember to include her in more activities!) So yesterday, Briar got back in the kitchen to help Nana with another batch of chocolate chip cookies and this time I was there to capture the process:













I was so impressed with how serious and focused she was! I am not a huge fan of baking (I am a huge fan of eating baked goods, however), so here’s hoping she takes after my mom and carries on the chocolate chip cookie legacy!

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