Entries Tagged as 'adventures'

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.


Posted on: Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday was one of those days where everything that seemingly could go wrong, went wrong. The morning started off with a nice little reminder that we live in the heart of earthquake country. Then my appointment at the DMV to update my name on my license was rendered useless when the computer system across the state was down indefinitely. Finally, a quick stop to the tire store to repair a minor leak turned into three new tire purchases. WHOA BABY.

But strangely, I was unfazed by all of this. I mean, what can I do? There are better ways to channel my energy. Like reorganizing my closet and purging as much of my personal belongings as possible (all when I should be filing taxes, natch). I don’t know if it’s the nesting instinct kicking in early or simply the spring cleaning bug, but I have been wanting to simplify and downsize my life like nobody’s business recently. I love when I can get into the mindset of “EVERYTHING MUST GO.”

While cleaning out my craft stash again, I managed to fill up another two boxes of supplies. The bare essentials are all I need these days! If you’re looking for a large flat rate box stuffed with awesome crafting supplies, I’m your girl.

Maybe I’ll go get started on my taxes now. Right after I organize the pantry ;)

pigment | san diego.

Posted on: Monday, March 17, 2014

Pigment | San Diego | via Ann-Marie Loves

I follow a few cool San Diego gals on Instagram and there always seems to be a common denominator amongst their feeds: Pigment! So of course, while in San Diego last week, I had to check it out for myself to see what the hype was all about. The verdict? Pigment far exceeded the hype. I mean, this shop has everything that I want: home goods, stationery, baby accessories, a succulent bar…!

Pigment | San Diego | via Ann-Marie Loves

I must have done five laps around the store, trying to take in every last detail, making sure I didn’t miss anything! I walked away with a Rifle card and a porcelain bunny nightlight for the nursery, but if money was no object, I would surely take one of everything.

Pigment | San Diego | via Ann-Marie Loves

Pigment, you’re a gem.

P.S. While in the North Park neighborhood, I also highly recommend stopping by Coffee + Tea Collective! Five words: BEST LATTE OF MY LIFE. Not only are the drinks wonderful, but the actual shop itself is modern, airy, and full of inspiring details that make me wish I was a local!

if this isn’t nice, i don’t know what is.

Posted on: Tuesday, March 11, 2014

20 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

I love Kurt Vonnegut’s quote: “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

Well, right there, on the beach in Coronado, as the sun was dipping into the Pacific and the waves were crashing at my feet, I was thrilled to be exactly where I was. Twenty weeks pregnant, married to an amazing human being, and happy in that moment.

John and I are not a perfect couple. Far from it, actually. I could provide you with a laundry list of all of our flaws, both individual and collective, but really…who is perfect? We’ve been together long enough to know that we can handle life together. It’s hard and messy and full of surprises, but we can handle it. We’re about to embark on our biggest adventure thus far and it simultaneously thrills and terrifies us. We’ve tried many times to wrap our brains around what having a child will be like, but have come to the conclusion that we won’t be able to fully grasp the sheer magnitude of it until we’re knee deep in the throes of it. And that’s okay. We can read baby books, we can pick the brains of every mom we know, we can Google any and all questions that come to mind, but we won’t know what it’s really like until it’s here. No need to plan the unplannable.

So in the meantime, I intend to savor our lives as they are, this minute, this week, this month. Because if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

bachelorette weekend in lake arrowhead.

Posted on: Monday, February 10, 2014

Ann-Marie's Bachelorette Party in Lake Arrowhead | Ann-Marie Loves

When it came down to my bachelorette party, my bridesmaids nailed it. I gave these girls very little information about what I wanted my bach party to be like (aside from avoiding Vegas at all costs), and somehow they totally read my mind. It was the perfect October weekend, filled with good friends, good conversation, and good food + drinks in Lake Arrowhead.

Ann-Marie's Bachelorette Party in Lake Arrowhead | Ann-Marie Loves
Ann-Marie's Bachelorette Party in Lake Arrowhead | Ann-Marie Loves
Ann-Marie's Bachelorette Party in Lake Arrowhead | Ann-Marie Loves

We spent most of our time hanging out at our awesome cabin (plotting ways on how we could steal the furniture!) and occasionally ventured out to the main part of town for excellent meals and countless photo-ops. (One thing’s for sure: I put together a solid group of camera-wielding b-maids!).

Ann-Marie's Bachelorette Party in Lake Arrowhead | Ann-Marie Loves
Ann-Marie's Bachelorette Party in Lake Arrowhead | Ann-Marie Loves
Ann-Marie's Bachelorette Party in Lake Arrowhead | Ann-Marie Loves

It was beyond better than anything I could have ever planned myself! And rest assured, there was plenty of booze and possibly a blow-up doll named Brad at this party to round out the bachelorette experience (;

P.S. My bridesmaids Jaymee and Janelle wrote about our fun weekend too!

take me to the water.

Posted on: Monday, January 6, 2014

Santa Barbara | via Ann-Marie Loves

These past few crazy weeks, I became completely fixated on getting myself to the ocean. I wasn’t overly concerned about which beach I ended up at or if I even put my toes in the sand. All I needed was to be in close proximity. I wanted to smell the air, feel the breeze, and soak in those negative ions.

So on Saturday, John and I decided to venture up north to Santa Barbara where we spent the first part of the day at the zoo (we both hadn’t been in years!) and then the second half wandering around State Street, stopping for some pho and major Anthro sales. It was perfect. Not only did it do wonders for my own mood but it helped to get our relationship back on the right track. Whenever we feel disconnected as a couple, we go on a day trip. Without fail, we always head back home feeling reconnected and happy to be in each other’s company.

Maybe one of these days, heading back home will mean heading back to our beach house. It can be in Santa Barbara or San Diego…I’m not picky! ;)

honeymoon | portland, oregon.

Posted on: Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon

I enjoyed each and every leg of our honeymoon tour for a variety of reasons, but there was just something about Portland that made me feel like I could stay forever. I still can’t quite put my finger on what it was, but man, I was in love. John and I actually had two visits to Portland. When we took the train from Washington to Oregon, we stopped in town for the best dinner of the whole trip at Tasty N Sons before driving out to Astoria. Sunshine cocktails and Southern-style food. We’re down.

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon

So when we came back to stay for the last part of our trip, we were pumped. We couldn’t wait to explore this amazing town that had piqued our interests a few days prior!

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Astoria, Oregon

Even though Portland was my favorite city, it also happened to be the city in which I took the least amount of pics. Too busy enjoying myself to be concerned with photo ops, apparently.

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon

One thing I LOVED about Portland was how stereotypically Portland it was, in the very best way possible. John and I get a huge kick out of Portlandia, but always assumed the show must be a comically exaggerated version of what the city is really like. However, after spending a few days there, I am here to report: THEY SPEAK THE TRUTH. Oh, it was too good.

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon

There were two particular conversations we overheard in which we shot each other the “is this real life SLASH are we on candid camera?!” look. During the first conversation in a boutique, a very concerned customer was inquiring about whether a particular item was made locally. The employee’s response? “It was created in California, but the artist used the quills from a Portland porcupine to construct it, so yes, it’s local.” #crisisaverted

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon

During the second encounter (at one of our very favorite restaurants), a patron interrogated his server about the type of water filter the establishment uses and where the water comes from for several minutes. The funny thing was that the server didn’t miss a beat. He even invited the customer back to the kitchen to see the filter for himself! Oh man you guys, these conversations truly made our trip worthwhile.

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon

A few rounds in the photobooth at the Ace followed by drinks and appetizers at Clyde Common for the ultimate hipster experience.

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon

Powell’s Books. One of my all-time favorite places. John and I could have stayed for days if our schedules allowed for it. I had quite a handful of books that I wanted to take with me, but given my severe lack of suitcase real estate, I only walked away with Garden Anywhere. Very apropos though, no?

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon

I’ve never seen such a colorful array of leaves before, much less in one place! Unbelievably beautiful.

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon
Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon

I’d like to think that Los Angeles as a whole is forward-thinking when it comes to being eco-friendly, but my hometown has nothing (and I mean nothing) on Portland. The push for biking over driving, the mandatory recycling, the composting at restaurants…I was in awe. I love a city that does their part to preserve and make the most of their natural resources. But even if the green scene isn’t winning you over, Portland has bridges, rivers, and incredibly talented + thoughtful people. I mean…

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon

And then there’s the shopping. Where do I even begin? Ink + Peat, Alder + Co, Lark Press, Pistils Nursery…the list goes on and on. I left each store feeling inspired and invigorated as a result of the amazing visual merchandising, the unique product selections, and the warm and friendly staff. And isn’t that how a shopping experience is supposed to be? Well done, Portland. You will forever have my business.

Ann-Marie Loves | Pacific Northwest Honeymoon | Portland, Oregon

Yeah, we dig ya, Portland.

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