briar is two!

Posted on: Monday, August 8, 2016

Briar is Two! | Ann-Marie Loves

My baby is two! TWO. All I can say is, the days are long but the years are short.

I think back to individual moments that have made up the entirety of these two years: holding Briar for the first time, never-ending nursing sessions, waking up repeatedly in the middle of the night to comfort her, wearing her around the house as I learned to juggle work and baby, watching her roll / crawl / walk / run for the first times, holding her hand as we cross the street, reading her favorite stories over and over again, and having little conversations throughout the day.

Some days have felt incredibly long and draining but those are almost always followed up by days peppered with unannounced kisses and lots of laughter and long naps. It’s one life lesson after another (including some that I have to learn time and time again). It’s moments of intense joy and pride for the little person I am privileged to raise as well as overwhelming frustration and despair. It’s moments when John and I catch each other’s eyes and wonder how we got so lucky to have Briar as our own.

These past two years have been a wild ride complete with highs and lows, but what an amazing experience! I remember feeling pretty sad when Briar was about to turn one. I questioned whether I had savored her first year enough or if I had squandered it with worry and quiet desperation. This time around, I feel at peace with the passing of time. I truly believe that I was much more present for her second year (which sometimes meant leaving her with a grandparent for the day so I could appreciate the time we had together even more). I feel like this past year was when I found my footing as Briar’s mama and could finally appreciate each moment as it came (most of the time) because it goes by so fast. I can honestly say that I had so much fun this past year!

Two years in the books. What an adventure.

diy heart crayons.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 2, 2016

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar is at the age where she is constantly requesting to draw. “Colors? Colors” is what I hear on repeat until I break out her box of crayons and colored pencils and let her draw to her heart’s content. It’s a super exciting phase of life (my little crafter!) so I’ve been dying to make heart-shaped crayons after spotting a few tutorials on Pinterest.

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

The process is pretty simple: you take existing crayons and melt them down into multi-colored crayons using nothing more than a mold and an oven. Easy, right?

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

So I stocked up on two boxes of Crayola crayons at Target and took advantage of Briar’s nap time and the new season of Real Housewives of New Jersey to peel off the labels. This was definitely the longest part of the process but I barely noticed because, hello, Teresa just got out of prison and was reuniting with her family! I was riveted.

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

Once I had all the labels peeled off, I broke up the crayons into small pieces and laid them in an old IKEA heart-shaped silicone mold (similar one here!) that I had on hand. I tried to keep the color palette for each crayon pretty analogous, mostly for my own visual benefit ;)

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

From there, I baked the crayons in the oven for 20 minutes at 235 degrees and then took them out and let them cool down for a bit. After awhile they were still kind of runny, so I popped the mold into the fridge for about 10 minutes and that seemed to do the trick. (Next time I’ll probably leave them in the fridge for even longer just to make sure they completely harden because they were still a little pliable when I popped them out of the mold.)

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar immediately took a liking to her new “colors.”

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

Clearly there was lots to talk about!

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m fairly certain that I enjoyed this project just as much as she did! It was an easy, mindless task that yielded the cutest crayons! I can totally see myself replicating this DIY with different molds for different occasions.

Next on our crafty to-do list: make homemade play dough!

Save

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?

baby boy clothes.

Posted on: Thursday, July 28, 2016

My quest for cute baby boy clothes continues! Here are some of my favorite recent finds:

Baby Boy Clothes | Ann-Marie Loves

01. Mustard Cardigan. This Mr. Rogers-esque cardi is killing me with cuteness! I love everything about it.

02. Lace Up Moccasins. I am fully aware that shoes for tiny babies is impractical but I fully do not care. I looooove these little baby moccs!

03. Puppy Pajamas. Our baby’s wardrobe is heavy on the neutrals, so I’m making a concerted effort to bring in more pops of color. These puppy pajamas are beyond adorable and I love the shade of green.

04. Striped Pocket Romper. I love when a single item of clothing works for both top + bottom. Plus, how perfect is that tiny little pocket?

05. Bear Onesie. I’m not normally one for cutesy graphics but this hipster bear is just too much.

06. Striped One-Piece. John and I are determined to take our kids to the snow this winter and I know this striped one-piece would keep our little guy nice and warm.

07. Hooded Grey Cardigan. One can never have too many hooded cardigans, especially when they’re this cute.

08. Geometric Print Leggings. Finding cute boy leggings has been challenging, so whenever I spot a well-designed pair, I am thrilled to no end.

09. Raglan Sleeve Bodysuit. This onesie comes in a few different colors and I’m pretty sure I should just buy all of them. I adore this look.

baby boy album.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

Remember when I said that Briar has become my biggest motivator for keeping up with my ongoing scrapbooks? I totally wasn’t kidding!

Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

She pulls the albums off the shelf and drops them in my lap every chance she gets so that we can go through them together. I not so secretly love it :)

Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

So in an effort to keep her happy (ha), I realized it was high time that I added another page to our ongoing baby boy album.
Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

This spread is all about shopping for baby boy gear. What I once thought to be a hopeless endeavor (so dramatic) has quickly become my new favorite challenge! (Related: I may or may not have done some damage on clearance items at Zara for our little guy yesterday…)
Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

Initially I wasn’t going to use this family photo in the spread, but after playing around with it for a bit, I decided that the overall design needed something substantial in the bottom left corner.
Baby Boy Scrapbook | Ann-Marie Loves

For the right page, I used one of my favorite design tricks: adding a title over an image. Also, I ran out of “O” letter stickers for that particular green font, so I had to get creative with the wooden embellishment. I think I actually like it more this way than if I had had the full alphabet!

Supplies: Project Life Page Protectors // Amy Tangerine Project Life Journaling Cards // BasicGrey Flair Badge // Green Chipboard Thickers // White Letter Stickers

You can see more of this album here!

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.

027

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.

My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those other websites, so I encourage you to read their privacy policies.

third trimester essentials.

Posted on: Thursday, July 21, 2016

I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to pregnancy (postpartum is a completely different story), so I don’t require too many things as the months tick by, but there are definitely some items that I’ve found myself turning to as I get deeper into the third trimester:

Third Trimester Essentials | Ann-Marie Loves

01. Tums. Let’s be real: antacids are the REAL star of the show when it comes to pregnancy. I had crazy heartburn with Briar and I have crazy heartburn with this baby. (What can I say, I’m a lucky gal.) I keep these by my bedside so I can pop them in the middle of the night when reflux seems to be the worst.

02. Fan. I am always hot so I’ve turned my bedroom into a mini wind tunnel with an overhead fan and a portable fan running at all times.

03. Mustela Ultimate Hydration Lotion. The jury is out on whether or not stretch marks can be prevented, but I prefer to be proactive and lather on lotion after every shower. So far, so good!

04. Bathing Suit. Like I’ve mentioned before, Briar and I are beating the heat by spending the majority of our summer days in the pool. Normally I feel a bit self-conscious in a bathing suit, but when I’m pregnant? I’ll happily parade around town in one all day, everyday ;)

05. Peaches. I’m in love with peaches all year round, but when I’m pregnant, I can’t get enough. Lately I’ve been loving them in my morning oatmeal with almonds. Mmmm…

06. Liz Lange Maternity Shorts. I don’t even like to wear shorts normally (they’re not my best look) but when it’s hot out and I need to chase Briar around, shorts are ideal. These have a stretchy band that you can pull over your belly or fold over around your waist to keep them in place. I bought the bermuda style and then cut a small slit on the seam of each leg so they could have a bigger cuff.

07. Firm Pillows. I know a lot of people swear by their pregnancy pillows, but with a queen size bed, a giant u-shaped pillow is not exactly doable. That’s okay though, as long as I have one firm pillow behind my head and one under my top leg to offset the weight of my belly as I sleep on my sides.

08. Maxi Dresses. I’m obsessed with PinkBlush maternity dresses because they don’t scream MATERNITY. Instead, they’re super comfy, super stylish clothes that I can wear long after the baby arrives.

09. Birkenstocks. My feet aren’t swollen (yet) but with the rising temps and the amount of energy it takes to bend down these days, Birks are my go-to footwear.

how to make journaling cards with digital brushes.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday after I dropped Briar off with her grandpa for the afternoon, I decided to take my oft-neglected car to the carwash and give it the proper treatment it deserves. I absolutely love the carwash; there’s something so satisfying about sitting inside with the windows up, cranking the radio, and watching those high-powered wipers blast your car into oblivion…all for only a few bucks! It’s the stuff of nightmares for my poor Briar, but for me? Dreamy. Anyways, once I was finished with the washing part (have I lost you yet?), I pulled over to the free vacuums and gave my car a SERIOUS interior cleaning and it felt SO GOOD. I haven’t vacuumed that puppy in maybe a year (?!), so once I drove off with a super-clean car, I felt like I could conquer the world! Or, at least come up with a fun tutorial for a blog post.

So I decided that today I would share how to use digital brushes to create journaling cards. Coming from a graphic design background and using Photoshop on the daily, I often forget how I take my basic knowledge for granted, so I am breaking it down into bite-size pieces today for anyone who is just getting started. I totally understand how digital brushes may sound super intimidating, but I promise they are a lifesaver once you get the hang of them!

Here’s how to create journaling cards in Photoshop using my Summer Fun digital brushes:

CARD NO. ONE:

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

1. Open a new document with your desired size. For this first card, I sized it at 3 x 4.” Next I grabbed the Paint Bucket Tool and applied yellow to the whole card.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

2.  Pick another color to create a gradient effect (I went with a complementary aqua shade).

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

3. Click on the half-circle in the bottom of your Layers palette and choose “Gradient.” Cool, huh?

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

4. Once the gradient is applied, be sure to Flatten Image to merge everything back on to a single layer.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

5. Next, choose a few brushes to add to your card. For this particular one, I chose the heart and the “pool party.” Then I added a new layer of text below. Once this was completed to my liking, I went back up to Layer and chose Flatten Image again.

CARD NO. TWO:

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

1. Open a new document and choose a size for your card. This time I went with 4 x 6.” Next, I used the Paint Bucket Tool again to add a pink background to the card.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

2. Repeating the same steps as I did with the first card, I created a pink + yellow gradient.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

3.  Once the image was flattened, I grabbed the swan icon from the set of brushes and created a loose pattern on the left side of the card.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

4. Once I had both cards designed in separate files, I brought them onto the same document (8.5 x 11″) and combined them with photos so I could print everything on a single page. After I aligned all the cards and images to my liking, I clicked Flatten Image again and sent them to my printer.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

Here’s what the sheet looked like after it was printed and before I cut it up.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

And here’s how I incorporated my card designs into a page in my 2016 album! I hope this inspires you to try something new with digital brushes!

P.S. Summer Fun digital brushes can be found here!

Follow on Feedly

Theme by Blogmilk   Coded by Brandi Bernoskie