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!

santa barbara museum of natural history.

Posted on: Monday, July 18, 2016

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

This past weekend was one for the books! On Friday, my mom and Briar and I took our third trip to Disneyland for the week (had to maximize my annual pass until it expired!). Then on Saturday we went to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (more about that below!). And finally, on Sunday my mom and I saw the final showing of Beautiful at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. Whew!

Now onto the museum. First of all, I have no idea what it is, but the lighting in Santa Barbara is always incredible. Every time we’re there, I can’t help but stage a photo shoot. My mom and brother came with, so it was extra nice to pass the camera to them and sneak in a few family photos. Here are some of my favorite captures from the day:

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

I was more than happy to let John chase the toddler around while I took photos ;)

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Not too shabby for a 29 week bump photo backdrop, eh?

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar was not so sure about the real-life dioramas – haha!

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

The highlight of Briar’s day was definitely exploring the “Museum Backyard” where she was able to play with dirt, rocks, and water to her heart’s content. I loved watching her get down and dirty in her dress and I really enjoyed this sentiment that was tied to a tree:

The Backyard is a space for children to learn. Expect trial and error. Give your child a chance to meet challenges and assess risk. This is how kids develop self confidence. Let them figure things out for themselves. Problem solving is good for kids. It’s another way to develop self-confidence. Your choice of words can make a big difference. Instead of “be careful” which expresses your fears, tell your kids to “be smart” or “be aware.” Cuts, bumps, and bruises are a normal part of childhood. If your child has an accident, don’t panic. Children read you! When the child is calm, ask “what did you learn?” They will tell you. Expect children to learn from their mistakes. Don’t pass your fears on to your kids. Nature is amazing and kids are naturally curious. Allow them the experience without your judgment. Relax and let your kids decide what they want to do. Kids that experience non-structured play in natural settings are smarter, happier, and healthier.

YES. YES. YES.

new summer fun digital brushes + photoshop layering tutorial.

Posted on: Friday, July 15, 2016

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

When it comes to getting things done, I’ve decided that it’s the little pockets of free time that really yield the biggest accomplishments for me. For example, on Wednesday I brought my laptop to my one hour glucose test at the doctor’s office knowing that I could probably eke out a little bit of work while I waited to have my blood drawn. Little did I know, I was able to crank out a whole new set of summer-inspired digital brushes to use in my ongoing 2016 album! Being a mom has taught me nothing if not how to be more efficient with my time. Plus, I secretly love watching all the other pregnant ladies (and sometimes their nervous husbands or their newborn babies) in the waiting room, and hiding behind a laptop makes this much easier to do on the down low! I might need to bring my computer more often ;)

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Here are the latest designs, now available for purchase in my shop!

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

And here’s a spread I made using a few different brushes. I could sing the praises of digital brushes all day, everyday simply because they make creating so easy and so fast!

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

One of my favorite design tricks is to layer a solid block of text with an outlined version of the same text. It’s such an easy way to add depth to type without any cheesy drop shadows or glows. So for this group of digital brushes, I made sure to include both a solid and an outlined form of the word “SUMMER” (shown above) as well as the cacti graphics.

Here’s a little tutorial on how to layer the two different brushes in Photoshop:

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

First I dragged my photo into Photoshop and resized it to fit a full page protector.

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Next, I went over to my color palette and chose a bright yellow to act as the solid layer of the “SUMMER” title.

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Using the fill version of the two “SUMMER” brushes, I found a good spot on my photo and clicked to set it in place.

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Finally, I changed the color in the color palette (shown at left) to black and used the outline version of the “SUMMER” brushes and carefully layered it over the solid layer, slightly off-center to create a faux shadow effect.

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Once my title was in place, I added in my own journaling and two solid lines (using a 9pt solid dot brush). Then I flattened the image and printed it out to tuck into my album. Super simple!

Summer Fun digital brushes can be found here!

our favorite books for young toddlers.

Posted on: Thursday, July 14, 2016

Our Favorite Books for Young Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

We’ve been reading to Briar since she was teeny tiny and in the beginning I remember thinking “I know this is good for her in theory, but is it even working??” Well, joke’s on me. Books have played a noticeably huge role in Briar’s language development and IT BLOWS MY MIND every time she says something that I didn’t know she retained!

Our Favorite Books for Young Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

Our Favorite Books for Young Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

We’ve gone through a few different book phases over the past two years. In the beginning, it was all about soft and noisy books that would pique Briar’s infant attention. Then it was all about books that could hold up to lots of drooling and gnawing and tearing. Now we are at the stage where we go for books with educational value that reinforce concepts we are trying to teach her (i.e. a new baby joining the family, colors, numbers, etc).

Here are some of our recent faves:

Our Favorite Books for Young Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

01. Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth | 02. I Am a Big Sister by Caroline Jayne Church | 03. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle | 04. Just A Mess by Mercer Mayer | 05. Little Owl’s 1-2-3 by Divya Srinivasan | 06. Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz | 07. Duck and Goose Colors by Tad Hills | 08. Now I Am Big! by Stephen Krensky | 09. Llama Llama I Love You by Anna Dewdney

Our Favorite Books for Young Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

It always makes me happy when I catch Briar quietly paging through her books or when she brings me a stack to read to her. I was obsessed with reading as a kid and couldn’t get enough of American Girl or Babysitter’s Club books; I would be so thrilled if Briar took an interest in those series as well!

Our Favorite Books for Young Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

I know I’ve said it a million times before but it’s so awesome to watch this little person turn into a walking, talking, opinionated human with a mind of her own! I can’t wait to do it all over again with another baby very soon.

What are your favorite children’s books?

baked spinach + avocado salad.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Spinach Salad With Quinoa, Feta, Tomatoes, and Avocado | Ann-Marie Loves

Cooking is certainly something I aspire to be better at, but you know, I can always find a good excuse to put it off for another day. It’s not so much the cooking part that turns me away, it’s the freaking cleanup. Pots, pans, plates, measuring cups…ugh.

However, despite my hesitation to dive into cooking full-force, I have found a few simple, healthy recipes that I turn to time and time again. My favorite one is a baked spinach salad with some of very favorite flavors: quinoa, tomatoes, feta cheese, and avocado. I swear it is the easiest thing in the world to make and best of all, cleanup is a breeze!

Here’s how to make it:

Spinach Salad With Quinoa, Feta, Tomatoes, and Avocado | Ann-Marie Loves

Ingredients:

  • 1 Baking sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Spinach
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Feta Cheese
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocado

Spinach Salad With Quinoa, Feta, Tomatoes, and Avocado | Ann-Marie Loves

Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Create a bed of spinach leaves. The bigger the handfuls, the better!

Spinach Salad With Quinoa, Feta, Tomatoes, and Avocado | Ann-Marie Loves

Cover the top of the spinach with cooked quinoa, tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Then apply a generous amount of olive oil over the whole pan and sprinkle pepper on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes.

Spinach Salad With Quinoa, Feta, Tomatoes, and Avocado | Ann-Marie Loves

Once the salad has baked, scoop everything into a bowl and top with avocados.

Spinach Salad With Quinoa, Feta, Tomatoes, and Avocado | Ann-Marie Loves

Yum! I could eat this meal every single day and never get tired of it.

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

as of late | july edition.

Posted on: Monday, July 11, 2016

As of Late | July Edition.

Missing the Joy the Baker podcast! Come back, Joy and Tracy!

Speaking of podcasts, I’m adding a few new ones to my queue thanks to this list.

Wearing this bracelet on repeat.

Making the most of my Get to Work Book now that it’s finally July. Briar took a highlighter to the cover the other day and I nearly cried. So dramatic but I really love that planner!

Planning a mini family vacation in celebration of Briar’s second birthday. Instead of spending money on a party, we figured we would go on a trip instead. It might be our last hurrah as a family of three before her brother comes along!

Adding this striped maxi dress to my cart. Okay, and maybe this pair of reversible pants for the little guy. Annnnnnd while we’re at it, these popsicle jammies for Briar.

Looking forward to the Olympics!

Setting a goal to blog every weekday this month (and possibly after!) and am feeling really motivated and inspired about it!

Living and dying by my new favorite dry shampoo. I use it waaaaay too often in lieu of actually washing my hair (the worst task ever), but I love the texture and body it gives me!

Feeling overheated and sweaty at all times these days. There’s not enough swimming pools and air conditioners in this world to cool this pregnant lady down!

Agreeing wholeheartedly on this article about what it’s like to be an introvert.

Going to miss Disneyland when our annual passes expire this week but am more than happy to take the hot summer off. (Have I mentioned that I’m always hot?)

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!

summer bucket list + journaling card printables.

Posted on: Thursday, July 7, 2016

Summer Bucket List + Journaling Cards | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Every year I dread the summer and every year I am pleasantly surprised to find that my motivation shoots through the roof during those hot months. I don’t know what it is (maybe the longer days? the desire to spend more time indoors than outdoors?) but I can’t complain too much about the heat when my to-do list is getting crushed. Lately I’ve been feeling more driven and goal-oriented than I have in a long time, so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to make a summer bucket list!

Summer Bucket List + Journaling Cards | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Yesterday in a flurry of inspiration, I designed a set of 1 bucket list + 1 sheet of journaling cards and added them to the shop!

Summer Bucket List + Journaling Cards | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Summer Bucket List + Journaling Cards | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

I absolutely love writing out these kinds of lists. Even if we don’t accomplish everything, it’s still fun to brainstorm and think about all the cool things we can do (my personal favorite: eating watermelon!) this summer. It also helps me to shift my perspective from “WHEN WILL SUMMER END?” to “wow, there’s still so many awesome things left to do!” Simple mind tricks, y’all.

Summer Bucket List + Journaling Cards | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Included in the package is a sheet of four 3 x 4″ journaling cards for documenting all of the items on your bucket list. When I design things like this, I always consider alternate uses for them. For example, I could totally see myself using the heart and the yellow journaling block (okay, and the pink “daily adventures!”) in my baby boy album time and time again.

Summer Bucket List + Journaling Cards | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Summer Bucket List + Journaling Cards | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Summer Bucket List + Journaling Cards | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

And of course, I couldn’t design printables and then not try them out! Here’s a spread I made for my 2016 album using photos from our recent trip to Travel Town.

Summer Bucket List + Journaling Cards | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Summer Bucket List + Journaling Cards | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Cheers to making this the best summer ever! Printables available for purchase HERE.

What’s on your summer bucket list?

nana + briar bake chocolate chip cookies.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 6, 2016

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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:

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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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