handmade greeting cards.

Posted on: Thursday, July 23, 2015

Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves

As much as I LOVE well-designed greeting cards (especially of the letterpress variety!), I will almost always resort to making a card by hand versus buying one in a store. It’s just something I have always done and I will probably always do, as I’m more than happy to sit down with my favorite paper supplies and craft up a love note for my favorite people! Here are three cards I made for the special women in my life in celebration of this past Mother’s Day:

Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves
Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves
Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves Handmade Greeting Cards Using Dear Lizzy Products | Ann-Marie Loves

Supplies: Dear Lizzy Serendipity Patterned Paper Pad // Dear Lizzy Serendipity Sticker Roll // Dear Lizzy Serendipity Puffy Stickers // Dear Lizzy Serendipity Pleather Bows // Dear Lizzy Fine and Dandy Sticker Roll // Multicolored Chipboard Thickers // Gold Foil Thickers // Craft Scissors // Tape Runner

I look forward to the day that I can recruit Briar to help me make cards and show our nearest and dearest just how much we love them :)

workspace wednesday | work hard, reward hard.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Workspace Wednesday | Work Hard, Reward Hard | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday at the gym, with the song lyric “work hard, play hard” echoing through the speakers, I started to wonder if there is any truth to the concept of work / life balance.  As much as I love to work hard and then crash into bed at night knowing that I gave a project every last bit of my energy, that type of lifestyle is just not realistic for the long haul. Balancing a freelance career while caring for an eleven month old full-time is downright exhausting on every single level: mentally, physically, creatively, and emotionally. (Oh, how I thought it would be easier!). I’ve spent WAY too much time over the past year beating myself up for not being able to give 100% of myself to every facet of my life. So after much soul-searching, I have come to the conclusion that I need to cut myself some slack and build rewards into my day, whether or not I’ve checked every last item off of my to-do list.

Here are a few ways that I build rewards into my day:

– taking a favorite workout class at the gym

– leaving Briar with her amazing grandparents for a few hours

– reconnecting with my husband on a Friday night date

– crawling into bed (relatively) early so I can watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians on my iPad

– taking impromptu field trips (last Thursday, Briar and I went to Santa Barbara for the day with my mom — so fun!)

– going for walks at sunset while listening to a good podcast and pushing Briar in her stroller

– drinking good coffee in the morning

– drinking good red wine at night

– sleeping in on weekends while John gets up early with Briar

If you’ve been beating yourself up for not being more, doing more, or accomplishing more, consider this your permission slip to RELAX. We are all doing our best and we are all doing just fine :)

as of late | july edition.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 14, 2015

As of Late | July Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

Serious Sally on the Fourth of July – ha!

Spending many an afternoon in my parents’ pool with my little fish. My “mom” bathing suit sure is getting a lot of good use!

Enjoying weekly e-mails from Hannah Brencher. She is killing it with the inspiration vibes.

Loving Hey Claire’s YouTube channel. Even though I’m not much for makeup tutorials, I love her storytelling abilities and her clean aesthetic. (P.S. I made a cameo in Amy’s video!)

Wearing one of two outfits most days: this neon pink workout top with leggings or any shirt with my Anthro lounge pants. I’m a work at home mom, guys. Comfort is KING.

Feeling more tired now than I was when Briar was a newborn; the only difference is I’ve become much more adept at pushing through the exhaustion! She’s still waking up 1-2 times a night (LORD BEER ME STRENGTH), so it’s safe to say I haven’t had a full night of sleep in almost a year. Oh em gee.

Listening to Totally Mommy nonstop. It’s my new podcast jam.

Dreaming of taking Briar on a bike ride…while protecting her noggin with this watermelon helmet!

Combing Pinterest and Instagram for birthday party ideas. I can never get enough!

Craving a really good fictional read that I can get lost in. Any suggestions?

Feeling so grateful to all of you who have purchased my new (and old!) digital stamps. It’s so fun to think that my designs are continuing to live on!

Enjoying golden hour walks with my best gal and my iPhone close at hand so I can capture all the gorgeous flowers in bloom!

Thinking back on this time last year when I was “willing” Briar to make her appearance on dates that I thought would make for pretty-sounding birthdays: July 14th, July 22nd, or her due date, July 26th. Of course, she didn’t arrive until AUGUST 8TH, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Scouting out amazing photo locations for future shoots. If you or anyone you know is in need of a photographer, send me an e-mail! :)

briar’s first birthday | invitation progress.

Posted on: Monday, July 13, 2015

Hand-lettered Birthday Invitations | Ann-Marie Loves

This past weekend was a big one. There was a sprained ankle (Mine! Zumba! Gah!), first steps for Briar (I’M SO PROUD I COULD EXPLODE), and lots of fun working on my almost-one year old’s birthday party invitations! It’s hard to believe that in just a few short weeks, Briar will have made a full trip around the sun. I could swear we just brought her home from the hospital?

Hand-lettered Birthday Invitations | Ann-Marie Loves

But instead of wallowing in the fact that my baby is getting older, I am focusing on all the fun things ahead. Namely, birthday crafting! For the invitations, I’m jumping on the hand-lettering bandwagon and pairing my handwriting with a little watercoloring. (There will also be a photo involved, if only I could just get her to stay in one place for five seconds…)

Hand-lettered Birthday Invitations | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m pretty sure I could write out her name all day, everyday. I used to FILL notebooks with lettering just because I loved playing with my handwriting and trying out different words in different ways (anyone else?). The thing about hand-lettering is that I need a marker with a wide tip to achieve my best look, so I busted out my forgotten Copic markers and went to town. Those markers are expensive but they really do work like a dream.

Hand-lettered Birthday Invitations | Ann-Marie Loves

I also had a great time creating full page watercolor washes to use as a background texture. I am by no means an expert painter, but I do find it to be incredibly relaxing, especially with a fun podcast on in the background.

Hand-lettered Birthday Invitations | Ann-Marie Loves

I’ve already scanned in all of my favorite samples of the lettering and watercoloring (using this method!) and I am so excited to pair them together to create a finished product. Stay tuned for more party updates coming soon!

briar’s scrapbook | part five.

Posted on: Friday, July 10, 2015

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

So here’s why I love digital stamps: this entire spread, from start to finish, took twenty minutes. Twenty. THAT’S IT. In fact, the hardest part was choosing which photos to use…! When I first started scrapbooking, the concept of “digital scrapbooking” could not have been less appealing to me. I mean, who would want to their supplies to be on the computer? Wasn’t the tangibility of traditional scrapbooking where all the joy of the hobby lived? But as the years have passed, I’ve come to think of myself more as a hybrid scrapbooker. While I still love physical products and shuffling papers between my hands and holding a tangible layout before my eyes, there’s definitely something to be said about using the computer to streamline and expedite my scrapbooking process. I love adding titles or journaling to my photo BEFORE I print it; not only does it expedite the situation but it also looks good. The minimalist graphic designer in me love love loves it.

For these two pages, I used my new (or should I say old?) digital brushes to add titles where I saw fit. Here’s how it all turned out:

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

Photo by La Rousse Photo

Lord knows I love a massive photo, so for this page, I sized one of my favorite images to 8 x 10,” added a pink gradient and the “Let’s Go On Adventures” brush to the top, and then mounted it onto a sheet of patterned paper. Couldn’t have been easier!

Supplies: BasicGrey Aurora Paper // Yellow Washi Tape // Aurora Die Cut Tag // Amy Tangerine Heart Sticker // Greatest Hits Digital Brushes

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

For the second page, I used a mix of photos (when did my baby get so big?!) and digital brushes, with a few physical embellishments as well. It’s funny…I designed most of these rubber stamps-turned-digital brushes waaaay before Briar was born, but now the sentiments are SO FITTING for our parent / child relationship. I love how that works.

Supplies: Greatest Hits Digital Brushes // Amy Tangerine Epoxy Stickers // Amy Tangerine Die Cut “Love”

So maybe I was wrong about the whole digital scrapbooking thing way back when I was a newb; now I can’t imagine my style without the computer close at hand!

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

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


– Two pitchers or carafes

– Saran wrap

Homemade Iced Coffee | Ann-Marie Loves


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!

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