as of late | april edition.

Posted on: Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ann-Marie Loves | As of Late: April Edition

Dedicating: this week to taking care of all of the tedious tasks that I have been putting off for quite some time. I keep reminding myself that by Friday, I’ll feel like a million bucks!

Digging: Nubby Twiglet! I found her blog by way of Breanna Rose (one of my daily reads!) and I’m gleaning so much inspiration from her posts.

Shocked: by how…ummm, sizable?… my baby bump looks at 23 weeks. I had no idea how big it really was until I saw a photo of myself from this past weekend. #whoababy #elasticwaistbandsftw

Reading: Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup with great fervor! Typically I have zero interest in books about money and finance, but this one is completely up my alley.

Uncharacteristically: unfazed by all of the recent seismic activity here in LA. On Friday night, John and I held hands and stared at each other (and the breakables in the room) with amusement as we rode out the earthquake. (Except now my weird “earthquake-preventing” superstitions that were created in 1994 are back in full-force, so there’s that.)

Glad: that I finally signed up for Amazon Prime! Free two day shipping and deliveries on Sundays? Why did I wait so long to get onboard?!

Inspired: by this this awesome article about the myth of creative inspiration.

Trying: new recipes from Sprouted Kitchen and loving the results! Cooking is becoming less and less intimidating all the time.

Trusting: that everything is working out exactly as it should be.

Getting: excited about kid’s crafts! I have stumbled upon so many creative and inexpensive ideas lately, I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to play. (I absolutely positively will be turning to this forthcoming book for lots of inspiration!)

Kicking: myself for not snagging a vintage Radio Flyer tricycle at the thrift store the other day. It was so awesome, you guys. #thriftersguilt

Loving: my daily walks around town. I walk as far as I can go and then John picks me up on his way home from work and we drive home together. It’s my favorite part of the day.

Thinking: that Kevin from Thou Swell has the most beautiful Pinterest feed I’ve ever seen. Would it be too much to repin everything?

Laughing: hysterically over the latest episode of the JV Club. And every episode, for that matter.

Using: my planner and my printables on a daily basis, but finding that nothing beats a good ol’ spiral bound journal for brainstorming and capturing all of my ideas. I always stock up at Target when the back-to-school season ends and the sales begin!

Enthralled: by feeling and watching the baby move more and more everyday. (P.S. She is totally kicking my laptop right now as I type this post.)

Incredibly: grateful for the amazing response my Styling | Shooting | Sharing e-course has received! Thanks so much, everyone!

styling | shooting | sharing e-course is live!

Posted on: Monday, March 31, 2014

Styling | Shooting | Sharing // An E-Course by Ann-Marie Espinoza

Happy Monday everyone! It’s been a busy weekend over here as I’ve been working hard to create my third e-course: Styling | Shooting | Sharing!

Styling | Shooting | Sharing // An E-Course by Ann-Marie Espinoza

In this class, I share all of my favorite techniques for styling, shooting, and sharing your photos + your personal voice to create blog posts that represent the amazing person you are! I divulge all of my top secret tips and tricks, including:

- six video tutorials on my most frequently used Photoshop editing techniques, ranging from adding text to photos to using the clone stamp tool to experimenting with the Gaussian blur filter
- lessons on how to style and compose photos to best fit your personal aesthetic
- my tried-and-true approaches for shooting and editing quality photos that you will be proud to share with your readers
- ways to hone your personal style and boost your blogging speed
- developing your online voice and expanding your reach

Styling | Shooting | Sharing // An E-Course by Ann-Marie Espinoza

As my blog has grown and evolved over the years, I’ve picked up several habits that have not only made my images (and in turn, my entire blog) much more visually appealing, but have also taught me how to blog smarter and quicker than ever before. I’m thrilled to be able to share my best-kept secrets with you!

Styling | Shooting | Sharing | A Blogging E-Course

*Please note: Although this e-course features tutorials and ideas using Photoshop CS3, a digital camera, and a WordPress blogging platform, you do not need any of these things to take this class. It’s also ideal for anyone looking to simply better their photo styling and shooting tips!

You can purchase Styling | Shooting | Sharing HERE.

P.S. This week only, all e-courses (including this one!) are 25% off with the discount code: SPRINGFEVER

coveting for baby | handmade edition.

Posted on: Friday, March 28, 2014

Coveting for Baby | Handmade Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

left to right, top to bottom: 

Swallow’s Return Cotton Blouse // Ajalor Toddler Shoes // I Love Doodle “Love Yourself” Print // Emily Isabella Card // Wren and Rumor Swaddle Blanket  // Sweet Reverie Throw Pillow // Siberian Berry Wooden Bear // Freshly Picked Moccasins // Juniper Wilde Knot Hat

It’s been interesting for me to see what I’ve gravitated towards when it comes to shopping for baby. Whether it’s clothes, toys, or nursery decor, I’m loving lots of neutrals with pops of color sprinkled throughout. These nine handmade items are exactly what my dreams are made of!

planting new seeds.

Posted on: Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ann-Marie Loves

This past week has been a bit of a doozy, to say the least. There have been many moments where I am overcome with feelings of “what am I doing?!”, except with more expletives and maybe a tearful outburst or two. But despite this week’s rocky start, I’m now feeling renewed and ready to jump back into the fold. I recently read my 2014 horoscope and whether or not it has any shred of truth to it, I choose to believe it wholeheartedly. I like imagining positivity whenever possible and this year is apparently full of it for Scorpios like myself!

Yesterday I left the house for a bit to run some errands and I have to say, being out and about in this beautiful city was like a breath of fresh air. Sometimes I spend so much time at home, I forget that I get to live in Pasadena (a longtime dream of mine!). I remember writing in my journal about wanting to move here a few years ago and at the time, it seemed like a long shot (this was back in my Utah days). But it’s amazing how a tiny seed of an idea can get planted in your subconscious and before you know it, you’re walking down Colorado Boulevard on a Wednesday afternoon because this is your neighborhood, gosh darn it! Life is a funny thing.

So what I mean to say is, I’m planting new seeds. I’m thinking about what’s next for me and I’m hoping for the best. First up: a brand new e-course in which I share all of my favorite tips + tricks for styling, shooting, and editing photos for blog posts! (Look for it to launch by the end of the month!)

P.S. The photo above? Old. Pre-wedding. Pre-baby. But totally fitting of my mood ;)

workspace wednesday | three tips for faster blogging.

Posted on: Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Three Tips for Faster Blogging | Ann-Marie Loves

1. Keep a running list of blog post ideas. Anytime a potential post idea strikes me (or better yet, when the post is basically writing itself in my head!), I scribble it down in an e-mail to myself or in my journal / planner. While I don’t schedule my posts too far in advance, I generally have a rough idea of what topics I want to cover on a monthly basis and then plug them in where I see fit.

2. Maintain a collection of your own stock photos. There are many aspects of my life that could use an organizational overhaul, but when it comes to my digital photos, I have systematized it down to a science. Because of this, I can pull up any photo at a moment’s notice when I need a picture for a blog post. I have a particular folder (aptly titled “BLOG”) in which I save images that I know would work especially well for my brand of posts, including stylized shots of my desk, landscape photos with substantial white space, etc.

3. Stick to a small selection of favorite fonts. If you’re anything like me, you have a million and one fonts in your collection that have the potential to be used in countless ways. By narrowing your list down to just a handful of favorites, you can expedite the process of incorporating text on photos or graphics considerably. (Here’s a list of my go-to typefaces!)

What are your tricks for cranking out blog posts?  I would love to hear them!

P.S. If you’re looking for more blogging and freelancing advice, you can check out my posts on generating content ideas, getting motivated, and many others under my Workspace Wednesday category!

wedding menu + food label cards

Posted on: Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wedding Menu + Food Labels | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza

Designing all of the paper elements for our wedding was a true labor of love. Going into it, I knew I wanted the whole “branding” of the event — from the save the dates to the invitations to the menus to the food labels and everything in between — to be as cohesive and unified as possible. The food-related paper goods were especially important for me to get right because not only did they have to fit in with the entire wedding suite, but they had to work in harmony with the table decor as well. (Or maybe I was just hyper aware of the details that nobody else would notice?) (Most likely!)

Wedding Menu + Food Labels | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza

Wedding Menu + Food Labels | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza

Like all elements of our wedding suite (minus the save the dates), I was able to print the menus at home on my HP Photosmart D110A printer. For the paper, I bought a bulk pack of paper bag cover weight cardstock from Paper Source and printed two menus per page.

Wedding Menu + Food Labels | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

At each place setting, the menus were tucked inside the napkins for safekeeping.

Wedding Menu + Food Labels | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza

The food labels were probably my favorite component to design, simply because they were the quickest! All I had to do was hammer out a complete list of the various dishes and desserts we would be having on the big day and then plug them into 2 x 3″ boxes in an Illustrator document.

Wedding Menu + Food Labels | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

The finishing touch to all of the food-related paper goods was a few swipes of Martha Stewart metallic gold paint to the top of each card and they were ready to be put on display!

Wedding Menu + Food Labels | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

The funny thing about having delicious food prepared for your own wedding is that once the big day rolls around, your appetite is nearly non-existent. John and I were so hyped up on adrenaline, we barely touched our dinners much less grabbed a bite of dessert! Ideally, we would have had a plate of leftovers put aside, because at the end of the evening as we were leaving our reception, our appetites returned in full-force! (Also, I could really go for a churro right about now.)

To see the rest of my wedding projects, click here!

Photos 3, 5, and 6 by Katie Pritchard Photography.

my favorite fonts.

Posted on: Monday, March 24, 2014

The number one question I get asked on a near-daily basis is “what font is that?” And I totally get it. I’m completely font obsessed myself. Here are some of my favorite typefaces that I use regularly:

Favorite Fonts | Ann-Marie Loves

Trend | Thirsty | Novecento | St. Ryde

All four of these typefaces were purchased through MyFonts, though there are plenty of amazing free fonts out there as well. Whenever I’m in the market for new font families to add to my repertoire, I look for typefaces that will work well with a variety of projects and media (i.e. everything from stamps to blog posts to design work for clients). It might just be the advice of my college professors echoing in my ear, but I find that paying for a font family that I love is always a worthwhile investment (plus, as a freelancer, it’s also a tax write-off!). Not only do I have killer typefaces to pull from at my discretion, but paid fonts also tend to be significantly less overused than free fonts. Win win.

P.S. One of my favorite tools for pinpointing the names of cool fonts that I stumble upon is the What The Font app for iPhone. While it’s not always 100% accurate, it’s helped me to discover so many awesome typefaces along the way!

baby album | part three.

Posted on: Friday, March 21, 2014

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

I really love working on this album. Really, really love it. Not only is it forcing me to document my memories on a regular basis, but it’s also pushing me to use up my stash and to experiment creatively with what I have on hand. Yeah for babies!

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

For the lefthand page, I used a sheet of BG’s number paper and embellished it with arrow stickers, aqua + yellow washi tapes, and quite possibly my all-time favorite product: gold feathers!

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

On the righthand page, I used a Fresh Cut designer insert as my background and included a faux photobooth strip of my 12 week ultrasound (which somehow was ten weeks ago…?!). I also incorporated a few sheets of patterned paper, letter stickers, and one of my favorite sentiments from the new “Moments to Remember” Capture stamp set.

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza
Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

On the lefthand page, I used another Fresh Cut designer insert (cut down to be the same size as the previous page) to house my story about having a girl. Since I had already written out my thoughts in this blog post, I simply copy / pasted the text into an Illustrator document and printed it out on white cardstock. No point in doing the same work twice!
Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

For the righthand page, I wanted my message to be bold and clear, but I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to do it. So when I saw this Instagram photo from my good friend Sarah, I remembered the gold foil sticker paper that I had purchased for my wedding ring box and knew instantly it would be the perfect material for my title!

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

Using my trust Cameo die cutting machine, I created this title (along with a few others) in a matter of minutes. I wish you could see how finite the words “we’re having a” are; they’re so tiny and incredibly precise! That machine never ceases to amaze me.

P.S. The fonts I used for the die cut letters are Thirsty and Novocento. I’ll be sharing all of my favorite typefaces in a post early next week!

wedding florals | willow + jade.

Posted on: Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ann-Marie Loves | Wedding Florals by Willow + Jade | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

While gathering inspiration for my wedding, one thing became perfectly clear to me: florals can singlehandedly MAKE an event. So when it came time to hire a florist, it was a no-brainer that I would be going with Willow + Jade. Not only is Veronica (the head stylist) an amazing interior decorator, but her floral styling skills are unmatched. I knew I was in good hands.

Ann-Marie Loves | Wedding Florals by Willow + Jade | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

For my bouquet, I requested something colorful, rustic, and as overflowing / gigantic as possible. I wanted it to look like I had just gone on a beautiful hike and collected bits and pieces of wildlife along the way to form a gorgeous bohemian arrangement. I didn’t even feel the need to pick out specific flower types; I knew Veronica was on the same page as me and would take my vision above and beyond. And she totally did.

Bridesmaids | Ann-Marie Loves | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography
Ann-Marie Loves | Wedding Florals by Willow + Jade | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

For my bridesmaids’ bouquets, I wanted to mimic the earthy, loosely-arranged vibe of my own bouquet, but on a smaller scale. I could not have been happier with the results! They were exactly what I was hoping to achieve.

Ann-Marie Loves | Wedding Florals by Willow + Jade | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography
Ann-Marie Loves | Wedding Florals by Willow + Jade | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography
Ann-Marie Loves | Wedding Florals by Willow + Jade | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

As much as I squealed with delight over the bouquets, nothing compares to the moment when I first caught a glimpse of the reception tables overflowing with gorgeous florals. I was BLOWN AWAY. The vibrant colors, the perfect flower choices (pink peonies!), the heavy use of eucalyptus, the citrus fruits…it was better than anything I could have dreamt up myself!

Ann-Marie Loves | Wedding Florals by Willow + Jade | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography
Ann-Marie Loves | Wedding Florals by Willow + Jade | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

There were beautiful arrangements sprinkled throughout the whole reception site. I truly believe that without the flowers as the design anchor, this wedding would not have been nearly as cohesive as it was.

Ann-Marie Loves | Wedding Florals by Willow + Jade | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

And finally, the eucalyptus photobooth backdrop! Veronica and her team staple-gunned large panels of orange fabric to three sheets of wood and then pinned eucalyptus and other various florals to the background to create this lush scene. (If only I could recreate the living wall in my own home!)

Ann-Marie Loves | Wedding Florals by Willow + Jade | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

Needless to say, I was one VERY HAPPY client :)

P.S. I learned early on that the secret to successful weddings is to hire vendors who naturally share your personal aesthetic and then let them run wild! The more you trust and the less you micromanage, the happier everyone will be. My florist, my photographer, and my videographers could not have been a more perfect fit for me. I trusted each of their creative visions implicitly and it paid off a million times over!

Photos by Katie Pritchard Photography

my freelancing story.

Posted on: Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Freelance Story | Ann-Marie Espinoza

I should start off by saying, I never intended to be a freelancer.

While it’s the lifestyle I’ve always dreamt about, it’s not something I imagined I would ever really have the guts to dive into headfirst. But life has a funny way of throwing you into situations you never expected and showing you that you are capable of so much more than you know.

A little about my background: I graduated from San Diego State in 2009 with a degree in Multimedia Design. At the time, I had no clear direction as to where I was going to go with my career. Using the economy as a blanket excuse for any and all problems is a tired justification, but if I can be real for a moment, graduating smack dab in the middle of the recession was terrible. TERRIBLE. I had zero job prospects when I was handed my diploma. Not a one. I moved back home with my parents and took on odd gigs here and there (medical billing, anyone?). I remember interviewing for temporary work at the mall that following November and going up against people who were far more qualified and far more educated than the job would ever require. And the result of those interviews? Futile. I couldn’t even get part-time, minimum wage, seasonal work! Needless to say, it wasn’t a high point in my 27 years.

But then in 2010, I applied for an In-House Scrapbooker / Product Designer position as American Crafts. I was absolutely positive that I would never get the job (I lived in Southern California, the position was based in Utah), but within three weeks, John and I were living in Orem, Utah. Life is weird, you guys.

Working at my (then) dream job was an amazing, invaluable, unforgettable experience that taught me so much about design, marketing, and finding things to do on a Sunday in the Mormon bible belt. But almost two years into the job, I was unexpectedly laid off. I was crushed. I was shocked. I was panicked. There was no way in hell that John and I were going to stay in Utah a single minute longer, but how in the world were we going to pay for all of our moving expenses and still have money left over once we got to California?

Out of desperation, I posted a few rubber stamp designs (that I had previously made for myself) in my online shop, not expecting anyone to buy them. Within an hour after posting, I had a handful of sales. I couldn’t believe it! People really wanted to buy my designs? This was incredible! And that’s where the ball got rolling. The sales continued to grow and grow and for the first time ever, I truly believed I could support myself without the steady financial backing of a company. I had cash flow and confidence. Things were looking up.

By the time I returned home to California (peace out, Utah), I begin working part time with Amy Tan, taking on various freelance design projects, and selling more and more stamp designs in my shop. I was lucky enough to receive some press from big names including Swiss Miss, Oh Hello Friend, Fab.com, Cup of Jo, Uncovet, and a handful of others, which helped launched my business even further than I ever imagined. Each day was a new adventure and I couldn’t believe I was actually getting to live life on my own terms!

Over the past two years, I’ve grown my business in different ways. I’ve expanded my shop to include new products. I’ve put my graphic design background to work on various freelance projects. I’ve tried my hand at producing e-courses. I’ve creatively collaborated with various individuals and companies. I’ve blogged professionally. I’ve delved deeper into photography and styling. And as always, I’ve continued to craft and make things with my hands. I’m nowhere near where I want to be professionally, but I have full faith that I will get there in due time.

Now, living in Pasadena with my husband and a baby on the way, I’m still freelancing and enjoying the adventure that it is. I will admit that life is getting more and more expensive all the time (private health insurance, car repairs, and baby expenses are a few of the big culprits) and there are many occasions when money can be tight. I’m fortunate that my husband works a steady 8-5 job as a graphic designer, so the consistency of his paycheck helps to balance out the unpredictability of my income greatly. But the truth is, we are a team. I feel just as responsible for our financial future as John does, so we both do our part to make sure we are creating a solid fiscal foundation month after month.

Even though everyday is a different experience and I often ask myself “WHAT AM I DOING?!,” it’s an amazingly gratifying life and I’m so happy to be along for the ride.

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