digital brushes: greatest hits | now available!

Posted on: Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ann-Marie Loves Paper | New Digital Brushes! | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m excited to finally announce that all of my most popular rubber stamp designs from 2012 – 2015 have FINALLY been turned into digital brushes and added to my shop. It’s only been on my to-do list for, oh, a whole year? Turning files into digital brushes is not what was stopping me; it was the sheer volume of files that I had to go through that intimidated me for so long. I mean, seriously, SO MANY FREAKING STAMPS (ha!). It’s all good, though :)

Ann-Marie Loves Paper | New Digital Brushes! | Ann-Marie Loves

These are the sixty-seven designs that are included in the pack.

Ann-Marie Loves Paper | New Digital Brushes! | Ann-Marie Loves

As someone who loves to put type on photos, having brushes at my disposal is a huge time-saver! In case you’re not familiar with how to use them, Elise put together a fantastic tutorial video that I highly recommend watching.

Ann-Marie Loves Paper | New Digital Brushes! | Ann-Marie Loves

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing how I use digital brushes in my scrapbook, so stay tuned! :)

Ann-Marie Loves Paper | New Digital Brushes! | Ann-Marie Loves

You can find my Greatest Hits digital brushes HERE and my Holiday set (now on sale!) HERE. Yay!

how i reached inbox zero.

Posted on: Monday, July 6, 2015

Tips for Reaching Inbox Zero | Ann-Marie Loves

I recently heard a quote along the lines of “I cleaned out my closet and now I can switch careers” and it made perfect sense to me. Clutter, whether it’s physical, mental, or digital, is incredibly draining on our energy. So on Saturday, with over 1200+ e-mails in my inbox, I decided to tackle my digital clutter head-on. It took two days of work, but I am proud to say I have finally reached inbox zero!

I’m not exactly sure how my inbox had spiraled out of control, but I think it was a mix of stressful life events (I can’t even tell you how many unread e-mails I had from my wedding planning and maternity leave days…whoops!) and a lack of consistent routine for checking and responding to messages. It’s amazing how something so seemingly innocuous can add up so quickly! While I’m sure most of you are on top of your e-mail game, maybe some of you can relate to my situation. Here are my tips for getting to inbox zero:

Set aside a large block of uninterrupted time. I managed to clear out my inbox in two days because John was home for the holiday weekend and could watch Briar for several hours while I got down to business. I needed those large blocks of uninterrupted time to really focus and stay in the zone, otherwise it never would have gotten done.

Get inspired. When it came to taking back my inbox, there were a few sources I turned to for inspiration: this video on the concept of Inbox Zero; this Elise Gets Crafty episode on getting organized; and personal conversations I have had with Amy and Elise.

When in doubt, archive. There were many e-mails that I didn’t want to delete but I also didn’t want to be in the forefront of my inbox. The answer? Archive them. You can always retrieve specific messages by typing in a few keywords in the search box at the top of the screen.

When in serious doubt, delete. There were a ton of e-mails that I knew I would never respond to or that I would honestly never reference again. In that case, I sent them straight to the trash.

Use keywords to perform mass deletions. When I was rifling through my overstuffed inbox, I would look for patterns to help me clean up faster. For example, when I would spot several unread e-mails from Dropbox, I would type in “Dropbox” in the search query and then all of the e-mails with that word in the title or the body of the message would appear. By doing this, I was able to highlight a ton of e-mails at the same time and then clear them out instantly with the click of the delete button. For some reason, I found this to be an easier organizational method than simply going from page to page and deleting as I saw fit.

Create canned responses. Since I get a lot e-mails on the same topic (i.e. sponsored post pitches), I created a few canned responses that I can quickly pull up, copy / paste into the new e-mail, and be on my merry way. In the past, I would have let those e-mails pile up — even if I was interested in the opportunity! — simply because it required an immediate detailed response from me.

Forgive yourself. This is a big one for me. I spent so much time over the past several months beating myself up over not being more organized and on top of things, but at a certain point, I just had to let go. Sure, I may have missed out on some fun opportunities and I may not have given people what they wanted from me, but I’m starting fresh now. Life goes on.

I feel so much better now and I am vowing to never let myself lose complete control of my inbox again. What are your best tips for managing e-mail?

workspace wednesday | working with amy.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Workspace Wednesday | Working With Amy Tangerine | Ann-Marie Loves

At least once a week, I drop Briar off with one of her grandparents and jump in the car (by myself! ahhhhh!) to spend the day working with Amy in her studio. As much as I love being able to work from home and stay with Briar, I NEED this day to get out of the house, have inspiring conversations with one of my favorite creative people, and feel like a productive member of society again. I know I’ve said this before, but seriously: I had no idea how hard it would be to balance work and baby. Not only is it tricky in terms of finding the time to get assignments completed while still giving Briar my undivided attention, but it’s incredibly draining on me mentally and emotionally.

However, I’ve discovered that all of these stresses are relieved and put into perspective by doing one simple thing: working outside the house once a week. It really is as easy as that. Also, as if mental health wasn’t incentive enough to brave traffic on the 405, I work with Amy on Thursdays, which means that two of my favorite podcasts (The Lively Show and One Part Podcast) release their latest episode that morning. Thursday are OFFICIALLY my favorite.

baby registry essentials.

Posted on: Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Baby Registry Essentials | Ann-Marie Loves

Now that I have almost a year of parenting under my belt (what???), I feel like I have a pretty clear understanding of which items I consider to be essential in caring for an infant. Life most first-time moms, I looked to others to help me navigate the overwhelming world of baby products…there are so many options, it’s a wonder that anyone can make a decision! Here are the items that have made my life easier over the past eleven months:

Baby Registry Essentials | Ann-Marie Loves

1. Britax Travel System. I did a lot of research when I was car seat and stroller shopping, and given our budget (less than $500) and my desire to have an all-in-one travel system (car seat, base, and stroller in one), I decided on the Britax B-Agile stroller and B-Safe car seat. I love the Britax because it’s easy to maneuver, it folds up with one pull of a strap, and it’s a cinch to get the car seat on and off of it. I also love that the stroller works from infanthood well into toddlerhood. I think the biggest selling point for me was the fact that I didn’t have to buy any extra attachments to connect the car seat to the stroller; everything I needed was included in the travel system. If you have more than one vehicle in your family, I would highly recommend purchasing an extra car seat base so you can easily move the baby from one car to the other without the hassle of base reinstallation. (When we have baby number two, we plan on getting the Britax B-Ready stroller since it can accommodate more than one seat!)

2. Soft Gear Changing Mat. When I was in the market for a changing pad, I wanted something that would make for easy clean-up and not require any extra laundry, so when I discovered this particular model, I was sold. We have loved ours since the day we brought Briar home from the hospital. It cleans like a dream, it doesn’t slide around on the table, and it adds a fun pop of color to the nursery.

3. Ergobaby Carrier and Boba WrapThese two items are serious lifesavers, especially since I am a work-at-home mom who needs to be hands-free most of the time. I first invested in the Ergo (assuming that I would only need one carrier) but even with the infant insert, it felt way too cumbersome for Briar’s tiny little body during the first three or so months. That’s when I decided to try out a wrap and thankfully, it turned out to be exactly what we needed. The snug fit and cozy fabric were perfect for keeping Briar close without being too overwhelming. However, as soon as Briar got a little bigger and developed neck strength, the Ergo became our mainstay. It’s super easy to pop on and off and the weight feels evenly distributed.

4. Fisher-Price Whale of a Tub. We started off by bathing Briar in a Puj, but despite the amazing concept (seriously, genius!), our sinks were not ideal for that style of tub. That’s when we decided to try out the whale tub. Sure, it’s bright and clunky (everything I was hoping to avoid in baby products), but it has seamlessly transitioned from newborn to infant and beyond! (While you’re at it, be sure to add baby-friendly bath products to your list. I recommend anything made by California Baby and Honest!)

5. Baby Gap Footed One Piece Pajamas. Sometimes I feel like Briar’s personal thermostat; I’m constantly checking her feet and hands to make sure they are not cold! This is why I love Baby Gap’s footed pajamas. I never have to worry about Briar’s feet escaping her blanket and freezing in the middle of the night. Another reason why I prefer these soft and snuggly pajamas over others? The zipper! I can’t even begin to tell you how tedious snaps can be during a 3 am diaper change…! Stock up on zippered pajamas.

6. Summer Infant In-View Digital Color Monitor. Despite my initial hesitation to move Briar to her crib, I felt a lot more comfortable leaving her in the other room knowing that I could watch and hear her on the monitor. This particular model isn’t anything too fancy, but it has worked perfectly for us. I love being able to see Briar when she wakes up in the middle of the night and gauge whether or not she needs me without having to get out of bed. (My only complaint about it is that the battery dies fast, so in order to get through a whole night, I leave it plugged in to the charger. It’s not a huge issue, but can be tricky if your bed isn’t near an outlet.)

7. Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets. Buy as many of these as you possibly can! I remember thinking the price point was a little steep for such thin, gauzy blankets, but I assure you: it is money well spent. Briar was born at the height of the summer heat, so we put her in a diaper and then swaddled her in an Aden + Anais blanket every single scorching night. I was so terrified that she would overheat, but she did great! Even if your baby is born in the dead of winter, they are amazing swaddle blankets and can also be used as burp cloths, car seat covers, changing pads on the go, and nursing covers.

8. Mini Speakers + iPod. There was much trial and error when it came to finding the right “white noise” system for Briar. We were gifted the Sleep Sheep and as adorable as it is, the sound only plays for 45 minutes. So then we tried playing a lullaby video from YouTube on my iPad, but it would inevitably turn off at some point during the night. Finally, I decided to dust off my old iPod, invest in $15 speakers, and play an ocean waves track on repeat all night long…bingo! Even though Briar still doesn’t sleep through the night, the ocean sounds definitely muffle outside noise when when the rest of us are still awake.

9. IKEA Antilop High Chair. In my experience, you don’t need a fancy high chair with all the bells and whistles. Babies really just need a safe and sturdy place to sit and learn to eat table food, hence, the $20 IKEA high chair. Money well spent.

– Other items to note: a breast pump (find out if your insurance will provide one for you before you purchase! Mine was 100% covered); grooming kit, thermometer, and infant Tylenol (these are the kinds of things you will want on hand!); a cute (but not cutesy!) baby book; and most importantly…diapers, diapers, and more diapers!

homemade iced coffee.

Posted on: Thursday, June 25, 2015

Homemade Iced Coffee | Ann-Marie Loves

As the temperature continues to rise and Briar continues to wake up in the middle of the night, one thing has become crystal clear: I NEED ICED COFFEE. As much as I love hot coffee, I’m more than happy to switch over to the iced version during the warm summer months. I love it in the morning with my breakfast but I really love in the afternoon when my energy begins to slump…it’s the perfect pick-me-up! Recently I had been going through the Starbucks drive-thru (God’s gift to moms of babies) on an almost daily basis, but I realized I could save a lot of money by making it at home. So! I did a little research and experimentation and found my favorite new way to get my caffeine fix.

Homemade Iced Coffee | Ann-Marie Loves

What you’ll need:

– 1/3 cup of coffee grounds (anything but instant coffee)

– 4 cups of water

Cheesecloth

– Two pitchers or carafes

– Saran wrap

Homemade Iced Coffee | Ann-Marie Loves

Directions:

Pour 1/3 cups of coffee grounds into a pitcher or carafe. Then, heat up 4 cups of water on the stove for about a minute (no need to boil) and pour it on top of the coffee. Once both the coffee and water are in the carafe, cover the top with saran wrap and leave it on your counter for at least eight hours.

Homemade Iced Coffee | Ann-Marie Loves

After eight hours, remove the saran wrap and cover the mouth of a different pitcher or carafe with a few layers of cheesecloth. Slowly pour the coffee over the cheesecloth and let it filter into the second pitcher.

Homemade Iced Coffee | Ann-Marie Loves

Finally, fill a glass with ice and then pour in the coffee and any other flavorings (I like a splash of milk and the tiniest bit of homemade simple syrup) and enjoy! I store my pitcher of coffee in the fridge and cover it with saran wrap to preserve the taste. It usually only lasts a day or two before I find myself drinking it all up and starting the brewing process all over again! So good and so easy.

P.S. My daily coffee routine and coffee stories from my Utah days!

as of late | june edition.

Posted on: Tuesday, June 23, 2015

As of Late | June Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

Banana romper for the win!

Writing in my journal again and feeling clarity about the things I want for my life.

Wearing these clearanced Anthro pants, um, everyday? They’re so comfy!

Dreaming up Briar’s first birthday party. (I can’t even believe it’s already that time…!)

Catching up on the Real Housewives of New York. Because these are the kinds of things that I do with my life.

Writing out a summer bucket list.

Planning on spending this summer in the pool. Not only am I obsessed with the way Briar looks in her cute swimsuits, but the combination of the water and the sun knocks her out for almost a full night of sleep! My least favorite season just might become my new favorite ;)

Making my own iced coffee (recipe this week!) and drinking it whenever I need an afternoon pick me up. It is WONDERFUL.

Going for daily walks at golden hour and taking photos of all the flowers glowing at sunset. It’s sort of my new thing.

Listening to Atomic Moms, Jonathan Foust, and Totally Mommy / Totally Married these days. Having several episodes of new-to-me podcasts in my queue is kind of my dream come true.

Feeling so grateful that Briar survived her first (and hopefully last!) double ear infection. She’s been sick a handful of times in her short ten months, but never with high fevers and zero energy. My poor baby.

Wearing my Birks again this summer and feeling so grateful that a.) they got me through the swollen feet phase of pregnancy (the only shoes I could wear!), b.) they are comfortable as HECK, and c.) they are miraculously still in style. I’m a Birks believer.

Switching up the furniture arrangement in our bedroom and feeling new energy flowing through.

briar’s scrapbook | part four.

Posted on: Thursday, June 18, 2015

Baby Scrapbook | A Beautiful Mess Messy Book | Ann-Marie Espinoza

We’re already to part four of Briar’s scrapbook and I am still loving the process. I made this particular page using Dear Lizzy products and it was a fun way to utilize some of my favorite photos from the past several months in a single layout.

Baby Scrapbook | A Beautiful Mess Messy Book | Ann-Marie Espinoza

This page incorporated some of my favorite divided page protector techniques: placing embellishments on the top of the plastic and splitting the same photo up amongst multiple pockets. It always feels like a bit of a puzzle putting everything in it’s place!

Baby Scrapbook | A Beautiful Mess Messy Book | Ann-Marie Espinoza

I’ve been asked about how I print my photos and here’s my simple answer: I do what works best with the resources I have on hand. Since we moved in January, I haven’t gotten around to replacing the cartridges in my home printer (I have no idea why?), so I just order prints from Target instead. There are pros and cons to both options, of course. With a home printer, I can customize the size of my photos based on my project with a few simple clicks in Photoshop, however, it always takes way longer than I anticipate it will and it uses up a ton of ink. By printing straight to Target, I don’t get to customize the sizes (well, aside from 4 x 6″) and I have to pay every time I need prints, but it’s so nice to have a huge stack of photos to pull from when I sit down to work on this album each week.

Baby Scrapbook | A Beautiful Mess Messy Book | Ann-Marie Espinoza

Supplies: Messy Book album + page protector // Serendipity Sticker Roll // Pleather Bow // Serendipity Patterned Paper Pad // Fine and Dandy Paper Pad // Gold Foil Thickers // Circle Punch

P.S. Part One, Part Two, and Part Three of Briar’s scrapbook album!

thoughts on baby weight.

Posted on: Friday, June 12, 2015

Thoughts on Slowly Losing Baby Weight | Ann-Marie Loves

I’ll be honest: the baby weight has not exactly fallen off.

Half of it disappeared without any effort on my part (thank you, nursing), but the other half? Well, that’s on me. The surprising thing is, I don’t mind as much as I thought I would. Sure, there are many days when I wish I could be back to my pre-baby size, but the majority of the time, I’m just in awe. Not only did I create and sustain another life, but I’m continuing to feed that life. WITH MY BODY. I’ve come to realize that this is an incredible gift that should never be taken for granted.

Even though I’m still hanging on to a little extra weight, I feel great. I love taking Briar for walks, throwing her up in the air, and getting on the ground and playing on her level. I love that I’m back at my favorite gym, taking my favorite classes several times a week, and keeping up with the rigorous routines like I did pre-baby. I’ve been working out consistently since I was fourteen, so exercise is a huge part of my life. I went on daily walks all throughout my pregnancy and even picked them back up about a week after I had Briar (although the first time I stood up and tried to walk after giving birth and being stitched up, I thought my workout days were officially over! HA! #thingstheydonttellyoubeforehand). I’m also enjoying lots of leafy greens, whole grains, and of course, red wine (and Friday night margs!) shared with my favorite company. Of course, there is plenty of room for improvement, but I honestly do not have the mental bandwidth these days to be as disciplined as I once was. I know that this is a very short season of life and I would rather focus on how amazing it is be Briar’s mom instead of how amazing it would be to have a flat stomach again.

I am very aware that the things I say about my body will be the filter through which Briar sees her own body, so it’s extra important to me to set a good example for her. Life is meant to be enjoyed, thigh gap or not.

just the two of us.

Posted on: Thursday, June 11, 2015

Our Pre-Baby Lives | Ann-Marie Loves

The other day I was looking through photos on my hard drive and stumbled upon a forgotten folder I (cheesily) called “Just the Two of Us.” When I was pregnant, I had made a conscious effort to document our lives as they were. John and I both knew our days as a twosome were numbered, so I wanted to capture those leisurely days for us to look back on in the distant future.

Our Pre-Baby Lives | Ann-Marie Loves

Well, that distant future is now. I sent John a few of these images and quickly texted him, “Remember this??”

Our Pre-Baby Lives | Ann-Marie Loves

His response: “Oh, how we were missing something in our lives and we didn’t even know it.”

Touché, husband. Touché.

workspace wednesday | quick fixes.

Posted on: Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Workspace Wednesday | Quick Fixes | Ann-Marie Loves

Life goes in cycles. For awhile, I am super organized! I am working out everyday! I am on top of my inbox! I am feeling like a well-oiled machine! But inevitably, I began to let clutter accumulate. I choose sleep over morning workouts. I let my emails pile up. I feel, well, less than stellar. But like Elise says, it’s important to respect the ebbs and flows. In the back of my mind, I know I will always get back on track, but sometimes I just need a little boost to get there.

So yesterday, as I was staring down a mile-long to-do list and wanting nothing more than to lose track of time on Instagram, I emptied out my overstuffed backpack and got reorganized. I went through all the junk that had collected over the past few weeks and pared it down to the bare essentials:

For Briar: Sophie the Giraffe, a clean pacifiier, and a pacifier clip.

For personal hygiene: deodorant (I always keep this on me! you never know!), an eyelash curler, my favorite mascaranail polish for last minute touch-ups, lipstick, and a band-aid.

For traveling: sunglasses, headphones, iPhone, keys, and wallet (with all the dollar bills neatly stacked and facing the same direction…a little trick I learned from one of my favorite books, Money, A Love Story!)

For sustenance: an apple and gum.

For no real reason: washi tape!

The simple act of cleaning out my bag and knowing I have everything I need in it’s proper place made a huge shift in my energy. Suddenly, my to-do list didn’t seem so daunting anymore!

Other quick fixes:

Paint my nails. This often means touching up old paint jobs that I have neglected. It takes maybe two minutes (plus drying time) but it makes me feel a million times better.

Make the bed, do the dishes, clean off my nightstand. Small household chores that often get relegated to the backburner make a BIG difference when they’re tackled immediately.

Clean out the car. I have a tendency to let water bottles roll around the floor, receipts pile up in the cup holder, and sweaters accumulate in the backseat. Taking ten minutes to empty my car and start fresh is almost as nice as realizing I have a full tank of gas (isn’t that the BEST feeling?).

P.S. I share many more productivity tips in my e-course, Make It Happen!

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