craft a life you love.

Posted on: Friday, January 13, 2017

Craft a Life You Love by Amy Tangerine | Ann-Marie Loves

This past summer, Amy casually mentioned to me that she was writing the book she had been wanting to pen for years. I was thrilled for her, of course. She has so much inspiration and wisdom to share, it would be a shame if she didn’t write a book ASAP! Then this past November, she told me that her book was finished and she was ready to publish it. I was blown away at how fast she was able to bring her dream to life! But then again, I wasn’t surprised at all. When Amy sets out to do something, she does it, and she does it BIG.

Enter: Craft A Life You Love.

Craft a Life You Love by Amy Tangerine | Ann-Marie Loves

Amy Tangerine is not only an amazing artist whom I’ve admired for years, but she has also been an incredible mentor to me. After I moved back from Utah, I began working for Amy a few days a week and never once has it actually felt like “work.” Instead, she’s given me an invaluable opportunity to hone all of my creative skills, including everything from scrapbooking and graphic design to photography and writing. Each time I show up for work, I never know what the day has in store, but I can always count on walking away having learned something new.

Craft a Life You Love by Amy Tangerine | Ann-Marie Loves

One of my favorite things about Amy is that she actually practices what she preaches. Girl walks the walk and talks the talk. I mean, she keeps a set of watercolors in her purse for those pockets of free time in her day where creativity can be squeezed in…if that isn’t dedication to her craft, then I don’t know what is! I can’t think of anyone more qualified to dispense advice on creative living than Amy.

Craft a Life You Love by Amy Tangerine | Ann-Marie Loves

One of my favorite things about this book is that it meets you right where you are. You don’t need to be a professional creative with a huge following to relate to the stories and advice that Amy shares. Craft A Life You Love is simply a guidebook for infusing your life with more joy and fulfillment through the process of creativity.

Craft a Life You Love by Amy Tangerine | Ann-Marie Loves

Before Craft A Life You Love went to print, Amy had me read the entire book from cover to cover to look for any grammatical errors and inconsistencies. Needless to say, I was thrilled to take on that job! With Landon sleeping in my arms, I was able to dive deep into an inspiring book without interruption…I can’t remember the last time I was afforded such a luxury! Now that I have my own copy of the book, I turn to it when I need a little boost. It’s like always having Amy’s kind and encouraging self at the ready!

Craft a Life You Love by Amy Tangerine | Ann-Marie Loves

Craft a Life You Love by Amy Tangerine | Ann-Marie Loves

I honestly cannot recommend this book enough. Go get your copy today!

toddler art table.

Posted on: Thursday, January 12, 2017

Toddler Art Table | Ann-Marie Loves

(Bed head in full effect ;)

Admittedly I’m an impulsive person. Once I get an idea in my head, there’s no stopping me until I can scratch that itch (just ask my husband). In this case, I had been on the hunt for a little table for Briar to use with the mini chairs that I thrifted a few years ago. Then I remembered the simple eight dollar side tables that I had used in former apartments and knew they would be the perfect size and color for the art station I envisioned. So on the day before Thanksgiving, I packed up the kiddos in their car seats and braved the holiday traffic, all in the name of IKEA!

Toddler Art Table | Ann-Marie Loves

I always get a little tooooo ambitious at IKEA and think that I can fit more in my arms (and my car!) than I physically can, but since I had two babies in a giant stroller with me, I was forced to keep my priorities straight. This impromptu adventure was well worth the effort because that eight dollar side table has not only been great for meal and snack times, but it has allowed me to live out one of my wildest dreams: watching my own child color and create.

Toddler Art Table | Ann-Marie Loves

You know the saying “out of sight, out of mind?” Well, that’s definitely the case with toys and art supplies. I have a basket filled with art supplies in Briar’s closet that I often forget about so I am making a much more concerted effort to bring it out and set up an art station everyday. If Briar can see it then she’s much more likely to pull up her chair and start coloring instead of begging me to turn on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. (Although, God bless that Mickey Mouse and the wonderful babysitter that he is ;)

Toddler Art Table | Ann-Marie Loves

Typically Briar likes to rope others into coloring with her (“draw a mommy triangle! draw a baby triangle! draw a Nana triangle!”), and even though I don’t always want to join in, I inevitably feel better if I do. It’s like when we go to the park and she wants me to play in the sand with her. I mean, I don’t really want to be a sand monster by the time we leave, but there is something incredibly therapeutic about these simple childhood pleasures. When it comes to coloring, I love to use the multicolored heart-shaped crayons that I made for Briar this past summer. They’re so satisfying!

Toddler Art Table | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m always looking for toddler-friendly crafts I can do with Briar, especially anything that requires minimal set-up and clean-up. Any suggestions?

family session | the militellos.

Posted on: Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography

If you remember back almost a year ago, I shot photos of Kim and Gabriel when it was just the two of them. Shortly after, they added Baby Ellie to the mix and now they’re a beautiful family of three! This past summer I had the pleasure of taking pictures of them again and Ellie could not have been more of a dream model if she tried…it was effortless to get all these shots! Here are some of my favorites from the Militello family shoot:

Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Militello Family Shoot | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography

holidays 2016.

Posted on: Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Holidaze 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves

Happy 2017! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season…I know I did! We celebrated three separate Christmases with all of our families and each one was special in it’s own way. One of those celebrations was our very own “Christmas morning” on Christmas Eve and it was everything I hoped it would be. We made a big breakfast and sat around and opened presents in our jammies all day. Briar is at the perfect age where she finally “gets” the magic of the holidays so everything was very exciting to her (and subsequently, exciting to John and me). Here are some of my favorite photos:

Holidaze 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves

Holidaze 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves

Landon is just a little dream baby. Seriously. John and I keep looking at each other like, how did we get so lucky?? He’s definitely my favorite gift from 2016.

Holidaze 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves

Holidaze 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves

It’s a toss-up between which gift Briar loved the most…her new kitchen or my new cordless vacuum! (For real!) Both have been in heavy rotation around here.

Holidaze 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves

Holidaze 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves

Sigh. I miss the holidays already!

quinoa with mushrooms + veggies.

Posted on: Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Five Minute Meal | Quinoa With Mushrooms + Veggies | Ann-Marie Loves

What does a quinoa recipe have to do with the week before Christmas, you ask? Good question. I have no idea. All I know is that I’ve been running myself ragged the past several weeks and all the germs that my family has been passing back and forth have finally caught up to me. I also know that moms aren’t allotted sick days (especially during the crazy holiday season!) so I’ve been trying to take extra good care of myself whenever possible. As a result, this recipe has become my go-to lunch option since it’s packed full of healthy ingredients AND it only takes five minutes to make AND it leaves minimal dishes for me to wash afterwards. BOOM.

Five Minute Meal | Quinoa With Mushrooms + Veggies | Ann-Marie Loves

Everything that goes into this meal can be purchased at Trader Joe’s (or any grocery store of your choice) and used for a variety of meals. Here’s what’s included:

+ Cooked quinoa (I cooked this batch with vegetable broth)

+ Handfuls of spinach

+ Cherry tomatoes

+ Frozen mushrooms (or you can do fresh if you’re feeling fancy!) (I’m never that fancy.)

+ A little bit of feta cheese (or A LOT of feta, if you’re me)

+ Olive oil

+ Pepper to taste

Five Minute Meal | Quinoa With Mushrooms + Veggies | Ann-Marie Loves

The process is pretty simple: Cook over low to medium heat on the stove with a little bit of olive oil for few minutes and then top with feta cheese and pepper. It really is that easy!

holiday packaging.

Posted on: Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Holiday Packaging | Ann-Marie Loves

When it comes to holiday packaging, I take my job verrrrry seriously. I love wrapping presents and as a result, I am a firm believer that the packaging is just as (if not more!) important the gift itself. While ordering holiday cards through Minted, I added a few rolls of this XO gift wrap paper to my cart because, well, it’s PERFECTION. Not only is this particular pattern great for Christmas, but it’s also perfect for showers or birthdays throughout the rest of the year.

Holiday Packaging | Ann-Marie Loves

Each gift is topped with a plethora of colorful pom poms (never enough poms!) and simple tags that I quickly whipped up in Illustrator.

Holiday Packaging | Ann-Marie Loves

I also picked up gold foil polka dot paper from Target and am making a mental note to stock up on this pattern during the after-Christmas sale! It’s so good.

Holiday Packaging | Ann-Marie Loves

I’d like to think my packaging obsession is rubbing off on Briar. She grabbed the hot pink washi tape when I wasn’t looking and helped to herself to a rather generous strip of it, which she promptly added to her own gift – ha!

Holiday Packaging | Ann-Marie Loves

Clearly I wasn’t doing it right. She kindly fixed it for me ;)

pom pom maker.

Posted on: Monday, December 19, 2016

My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

I have an abundance of crafting tools that admittedly collect dust most of the year. Sometimes they involve too much set up or maybe they’re on a high shelf that I don’t feel like rearranging to get to or maybe I just plain forgot about them. Regardless, there are only a handful of tools that I use on a constant basis (hello, heavy duty paper trimmer!). But since I’ve been obsessed with pom poms for a few years, I figured there had to be a tool out there that would help me improve on my creations. Enter: this handy dandy pom pom maker. For only $8 on Amazon, I received two different sized pom pom makers in one pack and they produce perfect little poms in a snap!

So in the spirit of adding toppers to holiday gifts, I thought I would share how awesome this little gadget is:

My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

Wind one side of the pom pom maker with your yarn color(s) of choice.

My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

Repeat the winding on the opposite arm.

My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

Move both of the arms towards the center of the maker.

My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

This is what it looks like once it’s closed.

My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

Grab a pair of sharp scissors and trim down the center of each side of yarn.

My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

Once you’ve cut all the way through both sides, it will look like a yarn sandwich.
My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

Cut a short string of yarn and wind it around the center of the pom pom maker and secure it with a double knot (this is what binds the two arms’ yarn together.

My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

Pull the pom pom maker apart.

My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

Here’s what the pom pom looks like! Pretty cool, huh?

My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

Finally, give your pom pom a little hair cut.

My Favorite Pom Pom Maker | Ann-Marie Loves

With a toddler who is constantly redecorating the tree, I love using these pom poms as ornaments AND as gift toppers! I never have to worry about them breaking or being so valuable that I would be sad if they went MIA. I’m just now thinking that I might thread them on a string and hang them as a garland in Briar’s room when the holidays are over…hmmmm. So many possibilities!

morris family holiday cards with minted.

Posted on: Friday, December 16, 2016

Family Holiday Cards 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves x Minted

Do you know what moms really love? FAMILY PHOTOS. Do you know what two year olds really hate? FAMILY PHOTOS.

Family Holiday Cards 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves x Minted

This year I was determined to get a few solid Morris family photo gems for my mom (and me!) to frame and treasure forever, but Briar clearly had other ideas. There were tantrums, there were tears, there were staunch refusals to even look in the vicinity of the camera — ha! It ended up taking two separate photo shoots on two separate weekends when all of us could get together in one place, but thanks to the powers-that-be, we managed to score a handful of cute shots (Briar included!) that were totally Christmas-card worthy.

Family Holiday Cards 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves x Minted

Once I got over the hurdle of getting a few decent photos, I then had to decide which option use on my parents’ holiday cards. And since my kids were in most of them and I am 150% biased on how adorable they are, it became a real challenge to choose a single image! Thankfully, Minted had this perfect collage design (in gold, no less!) which allotted me FIVE separate spots to include my favorite captures of everyone. It was perfect.

Family Holiday Cards 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves x Minted

Once I finally decided on a design (there are so many good ones to choose from!), it was super easy to fill the photos in and order the cards ASAP. My parents have been a tremendous help to me and my little family over the past year (and forever, for that matter) that the very least I could do was help them put together their Christmas cards to send to loved ones near and far.

Family Holiday Cards 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves x Minted

When the cards finally arrived, I was thrilled with how they turned out! But if we’re being honest, no one was more excited than Briar. For someone that put up such a fight against getting in front of the camera, she sure loves looking at the different photos of herself on the card — ha! Two years olds, y’all…

Family Holiday Cards 2016 | Ann-Marie Loves x Minted

If you like to the wait until the last minute (UHH, THAT WOULD BE ME), there’s still time to order your Christmas — or even better, New Years! — cards! Use the code GIFTEVENT to save 15% and be upgraded to priority shipping from now until December 20th. If I can get my two year old to cooperate, you can get your cards ordered! ;)

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

solvang.

Posted on: Thursday, December 15, 2016

Day Trip to Solvang | Ann-Marie Loves

This past weekend we joined John’s family up in Solvang for a little day trip and we had so much fun! The weather was total perfection: cloudy, cool, and feeling like Fall. I’ve been to Solvang a handful of times but this was the first trip for Briar and Landon. It’s always a treat to experience familiar things through brand new eyes…it’s easily one of the best parts about being a parent! Briar had a great time running around, marveling at the Christmas lights, and sharing an ice cream cone with her cousin Luna. Landon spent most of his time sleeping in his bear suit (which instantly puts him to sleep??) in the stroller. And Mama Bear had a great time drinking wine and taking tons of photos ;)

Day Trip to Solvang | Ann-Marie Loves

Day Trip to Solvang | Ann-Marie Loves

Day Trip to Solvang | Ann-Marie Loves

Day Trip to Solvang | Ann-Marie Loves

Day Trip to Solvang | Ann-Marie Loves

Day Trip to Solvang | Ann-Marie Loves

Day Trip to Solvang | Ann-Marie Loves

Day Trip to Solvang | Ann-Marie Loves

Day Trip to Solvang | Ann-Marie Loves

Day Trip to Solvang | Ann-Marie Loves

That night, my heart felt very full as I sat in the passenger seat next to my husband as we drove along the cloudy coast back home with our two sleeping babies in the back seat. It’s rare when I feel like I can just sit still and quiet my inner to-do list but something about that moment put me at ease and made me so grateful.

the grass is greener where you water it.

Posted on: Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It | Ann-Marie Loves x Cross Pens

2016 has been quite a year, no? I was reading an article that listed the worst years in human history and this past year made the cut…YIKES. Personally, it wasn’t my finest hour on record but it also wasn’t my worst. A lot of really great things happened to me in 2016: I got pregnant, I found a nice rhythm with work, Briar turned two, we moved into a cute place, I had Landon (!), and I came to the startling realization that the grass is greener where you water it.

crosspens-2

I’m sure you’ve seen that quote floating around on Pinterest many times. In fact, I’m sure I’ve pinned it at least three times, but it took until recently (when I really needed it) for the words to hit me over the head and finally sink into my consciousness. The grass is greener where you water it. So true on every single level, right? So what if I don’t have everything that someone else has…look at all the amazing things I do have! After years and years of comparing myself to others, I’ve learned the comparison trap is just that — a trap! — and it never fails to make me lose confidence in who I am and what I have.

The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It | Ann-Marie Loves x Cross Pens

My life may look pretty small on the outside: I spend most of my days balancing two babies with freelance work. I don’t drive a fancy car and I can’t quite afford California real estate just yet. I don’t take many fancy trips. Half of my wardrobe still doesn’t fit me as I maneuver my way through the postpartum phase of life. I spend many days wondering what in the world am I doing?! But in spite of all these perceived shortcomings, I find so much joy in my everyday when I focus on all that I have instead of all that I don’t.

The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It | Ann-Marie Loves x Cross Pens

It’s the simple things that really make life so rich: Drinking coffee from a French press in the morning. Listening to Briar’s little voice tell me stories. Going on adventures with my two babies. Shooting and editing photos. Listening to my favorite podcasts. Decorating my tiny but cozy home. Target runs (especially of the solo variety). Long conversations with my husband. Shopping with my mom. Drinking wine. Dancing until my feet hurt. Making things with my own two hands. Crawling into a warm bed at night.

The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It | Ann-Marie Loves x Cross Pens

One of the easiest ways for me to focus on how green my own grass really is is by writing down memories in my kids’ individual baby journals. We started a journal for Briar before she was born and we continued the tradition with Landon. I don’t write in them everyday or even every week, but whenever I carve out a few minutes to reflect on their milestones and how proud and in love I am with them, my sense of gratitude spills over into every aspect of my life. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more I express gratitude, the more things I have to be grateful for!

The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It | Ann-Marie Loves x Cross Pens

It only took thirty years but I’ve finally seen the light.

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

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