Entries Tagged as 'adventures'

six weeks.

Posted on: Friday, September 19, 2014

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Today marks six weeks with Briar and everything has new meaning.

Our days are still punctuated with the standard newborn agenda (feedings, diaper changes, and lots of naps), but at this stage in the game, she’s much more receptive and vocal about these experiences. Despite any sleep deprivation I may have, I’m making a conscious effort to really be present and enjoy each moment + milestone while they’re here. When I went two weeks past my due date, those extra thirteen days felt like an eternity. But six weeks of having her here? LIGHTNING FAST.

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar’s personality is slowly starting to emerge and it’s such an amazing privilege to bear witness to her discovering the world. I try to remember that life is literally BRAND NEW to her. The other day the phone rang and as she looked at me with wide-eyed wonder, I realized she had never heard such a sound before! There’s so much that I take for granted that I’m suddenly revisiting with new eyes.

We’re still working on balancing sleep with feedings, but lately we’ve been staying up until 3 am. It may seem a little crazy, but I really do enjoy that time with her. We listen to the playlist I put together for her (“Isn’t She Lovely” and “St. Judy’s Comet” are in heavy rotation), we snuggle together, and every once in awhile, she let’s me get some work done! I know life won’t always be this way, so I’m rolling with it.

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

At six weeks old, she’s staying awake much longer and learning new “tricks” seemingly overnight. For instance, on Tuesday she could only hold her head up for a few seconds without falling back down. By Wednesday, she could sit upright for long stretches without any additional neck support from John or me! Proud parent moment right there.

Her brown hair is starting to fall out and is giving way to what appears to be blonde roots. It’s hard to tell which parent she looks more like, but with blue eyes, incoming blonde hair, and a fiery temper, I think she’s officially my daughter :)

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Babies, you guys. Such a wild and wonderful adventure.

how i imagined it to be.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 19, 2014

So much about these last few weeks did not go as I had envisioned.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that my baby would come early. At 41 weeks and 6 days, she certainly had other plans.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that the doctor I had seen my entire pregnancy would be the one to deliver my baby. She was not (even doctors need to take family vacations). Instead it was the most amazing, encouraging doctor who totally went above and beyond to make sure I was taken care of. He’s truly the best (and definitely the person I want to deliver all my future babies!).

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that I would go into labor naturally and John would have to rush me to the hospital in the middle of the night. Instead, I was induced in the middle of the afternoon on a random Thursday. I had a doctor’s appointment at 11 am and by 2:45 pm, I was hooked up to pitocin and starting my 17 hour labor.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that labor would be blindingly painful from start to finish. While it was painful at times, the rest of it was amazingly peaceful and relaxing thanks to the dream drug known as the EPIDURAL. I was able to sleep and allow my body to do what it needed to do without my interfering. The craziest thing is, while I remember certain parts being excruciating, within hours of giving birth, I couldn’t even tell you what the pain felt like. The amnesia is REAL.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined I would burst into tears of joy upon meeting my baby for the first time. While there was certainly intense joy, I was primarily overcome with a different emotion: RELIEF. I remember seeing Briar as they placed her on my chest and saying “OMG! It’s a baby!” and feeling so relieved that she was finally out. It was a magical moment, tears or no tears.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that staying in a hospital would be scary. Instead it was completely mundane, if not boring. All of my nurses and doctors were incredible, but being stuck in a cramped little room for two days was enough to make John and me go stir crazy.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that John and I would have a black-haired baby. Ha! Not quite. Briar was born with light brown hair and a full head of blonde highlights. With each new day, her hair gets blonder and blonder. Look at my pale genes go!

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that the recovery process would be brutal. Periodically it’s super uncomfortable and inconvenient, but for the most part, it’s completely manageable. P.S. I discovered that Boppy pillows aren’t just useful for nursing, they’re also the perfect shape and size for new mamas to sit on ;)

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that the exhaustion of caring for a newborn would render me useless in all other areas of life. Thanks in a VERY LARGE part to my doting husband, I’m tired but not entirely beat. By alternating nursing with pumping, I’m able to split the workload with John and get in 3-4 hour stretches of sleep at night. Whenever I find it particularly hard to get out of bed for another feeding, I remind myself that this phase is short-lived and eventually I will sleep again.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that breast feeding would be painful. I was totally right…and wrong. The first few days were rough. I started to dread feeding time as I braced myself for the pain of the baby latching on. But after strictly pumping for a day or two and giving my poor chest a much-needed reprieve, I was ready to try traditional feeding again. And what do you know…it wasn’t painful anymore!

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that I wouldn’t enjoy the newborn phase very much. Instead, I love love love it. I want to keep my little one a tiny seven pound human as long as possible! ;)

P.S. Thank you so much for all of your well-wishes! John and I are having the best time being parents to our sweet little Briar!

she’s here.

Posted on: Friday, August 15, 2014

Baby Announcement | Ann-Marie Loves

A week ago today, this little one was placed on my chest and our lives changed forever. John and I are overwhelmed with love — serious love — for our Briar and are enjoying every beautiful, magical, exhausting moment as a family of three.

the week of my due date.

Posted on: Monday, July 21, 2014

Caioti Pizza The "The" Salad | Ann-Marie Loves

Signing the book at Caioti Pizza.

Well, I’ve finally made it to the week of my due date. And by finally, I mean ALREADY?! I swear this has been the fastest pregnancy of all time. It feels bizarrely surreal, but at at the same time, incredibly exciting! John and I keep looking at each other and saying “yeah, so we could totally have a baby this week.” W H A T.

In an effort to move things along, I tried the famous “labor-inducing” salad at Caioti Pizza in Studio City last night. It was awesome and even if it doesn’t do the trick for me, it was wonderful to squeeze in last minute one-on-one time with my husband. There are moments that I temporarily mourn the loss of our lives as a twosome, but after almost ten years together, I am SO READY for the next chapter in our ongoing adventure. John is SO READY. And hopefully, sometime this very week, the baby will be SO READY.

P.S. As I head into full-on baby mode, my posts here may get a little infrequent. Once the baby arrives, I plan on popping in sporadically, but not on a regular basis for at least a few weeks OR until I figure out what in the world I am doing. (Whichever comes first.) Stick with me. I promise it will be worth the wait ;)

maternity shoot | style me pretty.

Posted on: Friday, July 18, 2014

John + Ann-Marie Espinoza | Maternity Shoot | Sorella Muse Photography

It’s always a surreal experience to see your own face on a well-known blog and yesterday was no exception, thanks to this little feature on Style Me Pretty.

John + Ann-Marie Espinoza | Maternity Shoot | Sorella Muse Photography
John + Ann-Marie Espinoza | Maternity Shoot | Sorella Muse Photography
John + Ann-Marie Espinoza | Maternity Shoot | Sorella Muse Photography

Last month, John and I had the pleasure of being photographed by Nicole of Sorella Muse Photography for a maternity shoot and it’s so much fun to finally go through the pictures and marvel at this fleeting stage of life. I remember thinking that I looked huge a month ago. Ha! Try 39 weeks, Ann-Marie ;)

John + Ann-Marie Espinoza | Maternity Shoot | Sorella Muse Photography
John + Ann-Marie Espinoza | Maternity Shoot | Sorella Muse Photography
John + Ann-Marie Espinoza | Maternity Shoot | Sorella Muse Photography

We started the shoot by letting Nicole work her magic in the nursery and our bedroom (who knew our early evening light could be so magical?) and then strolled along picturesque Green Street, followed by a trip to City Hall (of Parks and Rec fame) for the ultimate Pasadena photo. I have no idea where we will live when future little ones come along, but I’d love to get an iconic shot of each city that we have babies in.

John + Ann-Marie Espinoza | Maternity Shoot | Sorella Muse Photography
John + Ann-Marie Espinoza | Maternity Shoot | Sorella Muse Photography
John + Ann-Marie Espinoza | Maternity Shoot | Sorella Muse Photography

It’s a crazy thing to watch your body grow and change as each week goes by. I will readily admit that I don’t always love the way I look while pregnant, but I am so grateful that my body is doing what it’s doing, even without my consent. There are much bigger things to worry about than puffy cheeks and swollen feet. Like, for real…when is this kid coming? ;)

thoughts on diy weddings.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thoughts on DIY Weddings | Ann-Marie Loves

I’ve always known that my wedding would be comprised of handmade details. It’s who I am, it’s what I do. That being said, I had no idea just how much work those handmade details would take. Hours, days, weeks, months of work. But was it worth it? 100 PERCENT YES.

Thoughts on DIY Weddings | Ann-Marie Loves

Katie Pritchard Photography

John and I decided to tackle as many projects ourselves as possible, for both creative + financial reasons. Many things were never even a question of asking for others’ help, including our paper goods (save the dates, invitations, menus, place cards, etc). In the end, there were many projects I didn’t get around to (wine labels, programs, paper flowers, the list goes on…), but really, no one but me knew the difference. I had been told this by various people throughout the whole planning process, but of course, I didn’t listen. Some things you just have to learn for yourself!

John + Ann-Marie Espinoza's Wedding | As seen in Wedding Magazine

I will admit that seeing our hard work pay off in the forms of a wedding blog feature and a magazine spread were pretty awesome, but seriously. As cliche as it sounds, the best part of all was that I walked away with a husband at the end of the day. He’s the best and I couldn’t be happier that he stuck by my side despite all my crazy wedding ideas and late night crafting and art directing. We managed to pull off the wedding of our dreams, which was topped only by the honeymoon of our dreams.

Thoughts on DIY Weddings | Ann-Marie Loves

Katie Pritchard Photography

And now…we’re having a baby and the DIY madness has been reincarnated in a brand new, equally as passionate form. Once a DIY’er, always a DIY’er!

full term!

Posted on: Monday, July 14, 2014

Full Term! | Ann-Marie Loves

Being full-term means:

My wedding ring no longer fits my finger (which is good for my skin since I’ve recently developed an allergy to it! GAH.)

Trying to finish up last minute projects as fast as possible.

I’m never too far from my bottle of Tums. Heartburn continues to be the one constant throughout my whole pregnancy. (Maybe it’s because she has a full head of hair?)

Getting up in the middle of the night for the umpteenth bathroom trip and realizing “OMG, I’m going to be awake at this hour every night!

Savoring these last few weeks of being pregnant. Despite minor discomforts along the way, I have LOVED this experience.

Riding waves of being super tired and waves of being super energized. I never know what each day (or rather, each hour!) will bring.

I am much smaller and more able-bodied than I thought I would be at this point (which is not to say that I’m by ANY MEANS small or super able-bodied in comparison to others; just different than I imagined).

Visiting the doctor on a weekly basis.

My belly button is officially inside out.

Being on high alert for any signs of impending labor (“Is that a contraction? Is THAT a contraction?”). So far, no real signs.

Writing the shortest birth plan of all time:

  1. Walk into hospital pregnant.
  2. Walk out of hospital with a healthy baby. All the rest will be figured out when I get there!

The shape of my bump sadly does not allow me to use it as a table for food and drinks. The drop-off is far too steep.

Drinking lots and lots of water, from the time I get up to the time I go to bed.

Trying not to dwell on the logistics of actually popping this kid out. Oh lordy.

Wondering when (if?) the waddling stage will begin.

My hands fall asleep ALL. THE. TIME. I get that weird prickling sensation not just when I’m sleeping (although that’s the most common time), but also when I’m in the middle of a hand-intensive task. Um, hi, I was still using you?

Getting more and more excited everyday! All these months of planning, dreaming, shopping, decorating, worrying, and reveling are about to pay off in a BIG way.

Hoping for a happy, healthy baby above all else.

I have no idea what I’m doing. But I’m doing it.

daily walks.

Posted on: Thursday, May 1, 2014

Father of the Bride house | Ann-Marie Loves

Since moving to Pasadena (and being 40+ miles away from my gym), going on daily walks has become my primary form of exercise. While it’s not always as exciting or challenging as my favorite Zumba classes, it’s been the perfect way for me to get out of the house, spend some time in the sunshine, and keep my ever-expanding body in motion. It’s also been a fantastic opportunity for me to explore this big, beautiful town on foot. I’ve discovered new neighborhoods, cute restaurants + shops, and even the Father of the Bride house!

Most weekdays, I’ll wait until John is just about to leave work and then I’ll head out and walk as far as I can go before he reaches Pasadena and picks me up. With a good podcast, a big bottle of water, and knowledge of the key code to the Starbucks’ bathroom along my route (ha!), I usually fit in a 40-60 minute walk, which is just long enough for me at this point in my pregnancy. By the time John finds me, I am very happy to see him and his air conditioned car ;)

I’m already looking forward to the day when I can take my daughter along with me and show her how amazing this city really is!

styled shoots.

Posted on: Monday, April 7, 2014

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to help style, design paper goods, and put my thrifted glassware to use on two very different but equally exciting wedding inspiration shoots.

For the first shoot (Modern Watercolor Wedding Inspiration as Green Wedding Shoes dubbed it), my wedding photographer-turned-good friend Katie Pritchard invited me to help style various vignettes at the OC Mix Mart, alongside a talented team of vendors (including gorgeous paper goods designed by Alex Choura!). Not only was it a great way to meet new people, but I learned so much about what goes into a pulling together a shoot of this magnitude. So inspiring! Here are some of the beautiful photos from the day, as captured by Katie:

Modern Watercolor Wedding Inspiration | Photos by Katie Pritchard Photography | Assistant Styling by Ann-Marie Loves
Modern Watercolor Wedding Inspiration | Photos by Katie Pritchard Photography | Paper Goods by Alex Choura | Assistant Styling by Ann-Marie Loves
Modern Watercolor Wedding Inspiration | Photos by Katie Pritchard Photography | Assistant Styling by Ann-Marie Loves
Modern Watercolor Wedding Inspiration | Photos by Katie Pritchard Photography | Paper Goods by Alex Choura | Assistant Styling by Ann-Marie Loves
Modern Watercolor Wedding Inspiration | Photos by Katie Pritchard Photography | Assistant Styling by Ann-Marie Loves

For the second styled shoot, I worked with another good friend, Kate Doherty of La Rousse Photo, to bring a romantic, elegant, and slightly untraditional wedding inspiration shoot to life. After meeting up for coffee and exchanging e-mails back and forth to nail down the details of the shoot, I designed the paper goods, pulled aside some of my favorite thrifted pieces, and the had a blast pairing everything together on the big day. Not only is Kate an absolute dream to work with, but all of the other vendors and models were a delight as well! Here are my favorite photos:

Styled Backyard Wedding Shoot | Styling + Paper Goods by Ann-Marie Loves | Photo by La Rousse Photo
Styled Backyard Wedding Shoot | Styling + Paper Goods by Ann-Marie Loves | Photo by La Rousse Photo
Styled Backyard Wedding Shoot | Styling + Paper Goods by Ann-Marie Loves | Photo by La Rousse Photo
Styled Backyard Wedding Shoot | Styled by Ann-Marie Loves | Photo by La Rousse Photo
Styled Backyard Wedding Shoot | Styled by Ann-Marie Loves | Photo by La Rousse Photo
Styled Backyard Wedding Shoot | Styled by Ann-Marie Loves | Photo by La Rousse Photo

If you’re looking to collaborate on a creative project, let me know! I love helping others bring their creative visions to fruition :)

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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