Entries Tagged as 'american crafts'

diy painted bags.

Posted on: Monday, May 18, 2015

DIY Painted Bags | Ann-Marie Loves

Recently, I’ve been enjoying a resurgence of creative energy and I can’t even tell you how happy it makes me. Being crafty and using my hands is how I make sense of my world, so I am beyond excited to be back at it again. Yesterday as I was roaming the aisles of Target picking up the essentials (faux-Birks and loose tanks, as one does), I decided to try out a few new paints from Handmade Modern. I had a few crafty projects in mind and I couldn’t wait to get started!

DIY Painted Bags | Ann-Marie Loves

A few years ago, I purchased a handful of these small zippered bags from the dollar section at Target with the intention of using them to hold bridesmaid gifts. But as it turned out, I was never able to collect all six, so those plans were thwarted (sorry b-maids) and they’ve been sitting in my craft stash ever since. However, when armed with new paint and a need to corral Briar’s stuff in my backpack, I was able to turn those bags into something usable!

DIY Painted Bags | Ann-Marie Loves

To paint the bags, I used a mix of small brushes and different patterns. I allowed each side plenty of time to dry before I flipped them over and painted a similar pattern on the back of each respective bag. Super simple.

DIY Painted Bags | Ann-Marie Loves

Let me just say, I’m kind of thrilled that loose + free-form is where the current style trends are pointing to because I have never been one for straight lines. (There’s nothing that kills my creative mojo more than having to use a ruler!) I’ve also been making a concerted effort to just experiment strictly for the sake of experimentation. The more I can play around without any preconceived notions, the more fun it is to craft!

DIY Painted Bags | Ann-Marie Loves

Even Briar wanted to get in on the action, by slyly dipping her hands in my black paint when I looked down for half a second…!  Ay yi yi. But I guess it just goes to show that she’s a girl after my own heart ;)


briar’s scrapbook | part one.

Posted on: Friday, May 15, 2015

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

It’s been nine months since Briar was born, which means I only have about four million photos of her sitting on my hard drive. I cringe at the idea of those images living there forever, never to be seen by anyone other than me, so I finally had a bunch of photos printed. It felt so good to hold those pictures in my hands and reflect back on all the precious memories that they hold. It was right then and there that I realized that my Briar Bear deserves her own scrapbook. After all, I documented my pregnancy in scrapbook form…it was only a matter of time until I continued the story! So here’s the first installment of Briar’s scrapbook:

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

I can’t think of a more perfect overlay for Briar’s scrapbook than the one that came in A Beautiful Mess’ Messy Box kit…I’m obsessed! To add it to my album, I simply punched four holes with a Crop-A-Dile and popped it into place.

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

For the first page, I kept things pretty simple since I wanted the photos to do most of the talking. I also added in a journaling card with Briar’s stats and a few of my favorite gold papers + embellishments.

Supplies: Dear Lizzy Serendipity Papers // Dear Lizzy Heart Thickers // Amy Tangerine Fabric Stickers // Precision Pen

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

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

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

For this page, I used the backside of the first page protector and broke up the grid by placing a 4 x 6″ photo over four pockets filled with the same sheet of Dear Lizzy ombre paper. I also added a subtle title using Kelly Purkey white letter stickers.

Supplies: Dear Lizzy Serendipity Papers // Dear Lizzy Daydreamer Map Paper // Dear Lizzy Serendipity Sticker Roll // Dear Lizzy Serendipity Puffy Stickers // BasicGrey Flair Badges

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

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

For the third page, I decided to make a traditional layout…such a fun change of pace! This photo of John and Briar is one of my very favorites from her first day. She had just been cleaned up in the nursery and brought into our room and John couldn’t take his eyes off of her. Such a magical moment. (P.S. Since the 9 x 12″ page protectors are currently out of stock, I improvised and punched extra holes in an American Crafts 12 x 12″ sleeve and plan on cutting off the extra bit and sewing up the side.)

Supplies: Woodgrain Paper // Messy Box Kit // Dear Lizzy Serendipity Papers // Amy Tangerine Foam Thickers // Precision Pen

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


I’m excited to continue to work on Briar’s scrapbook each week! I plan on keeping the album as loose and rule-free as possible; if I miss a few things or go out of chronological order, that’s totally fine. I figure, as long as I’m capturing the big picture of her babyhood, then I’m doing my job.

upcycled ribbon spool turned wall hanging.

Posted on: Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Upcycled Ribbon Spool-Turned-Wall Hanging | Ann-Marie Loves

The other day, John was recounting just how upset I was when I first discovered that our Utah apartment did not have a recycling bin on the premises. I had totally forgotten about that! To combat the issue, I kept a huge box of recyclables in our place and then when it was full, I would force John to help me take them to a recycling center a few miles away. It was a major hassle, but it pained me more to throw away anything that I know can be recycled, or even better, upcycled. You can take the girl out of California…

So recently, as I neared the end of a spool of Dear Lizzy baker’s twine, I knew just how to give it new life.

Upcycled Ribbon Spool-Turned-Wall Hanging | Ann-Marie Loves

To begin, I pulled the labels off of the baker’s twine spool using an xacto knife.

Upcycled Ribbon Spool-Turned-Wall Hanging | Ann-Marie Loves

Next, I took baker’s twine from a different spool and wrapped it all the way around the spool until it was completely covered.

Upcycled Ribbon Spool-Turned-Wall Hanging | Ann-Marie Loves

From there, I busted out my Cuttlebug and cut out feathers using a nesting die and a few sheets of Daydreamer paper.

Upcycled Ribbon Spool-Turned-Wall Hanging | Ann-Marie Loves

Once I had the feathers cut out, I tied long strands of baker’s twine to each shape.

Upcycled Ribbon Spool-Turned-Wall Hanging | Ann-Marie Loves

Finally, I tied each strand to the upcycled ribbon spool and hung it in Briar’s room! Easy to make and easy on the environment.

diy paper bead necklace.

Posted on: Monday, December 8, 2014


Remember paper bead necklaces, guys? I totally revisited the idea using Dear Lizzy paper and I have to say…I love how it turned out! Sometimes it’s the simplest of projects with the most humble of supplies that reap the biggest successes. (I need to remember this.) (I tried scrapbooking again yesterday and it was an epic fail.) (More on this later.)

DIY Paper Bead Necklace | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza for Dear Lizzy

Supplies: Dear Lizzy paper // Tape Runner // Baker’s Twine // Wooden Skewers // Mod Podge (Optional)

You can read more about it on Liz’s blog!

dear lizzy projects.

Posted on: Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DIY Geometric Banner | Ann-Marie Loves

Before Briar arrived, I went into serious laser focus mode and cranked out as many projects as I possibly could. In fact, the night before I was induced (I didn’t know I would be induced), I stayed up late mopping the whole house, deep cleaning the kitchen sink, reorganizing the coat closet, and crossing items off my to-do list like nobody’s biz. I don’t know if I’ve ever been (or will ever be again!) so productive in my life! Now I’m thanking Pregnant Ann-Marie for plowing through those projects because lord knows that Mom-of-a-Newborn Ann-Marie considers having her coffee before 4pm a major accomplishment. But it’s all good, I promise :)

Some of my favorite projects that I managed to eke out pre-Briar were these three tutorials:

DIY Ribbon Weaving | Ann-Marie Loves

Woven Ribbon Wall Hanging. I think we all know by now that I love a good weaving project. Using ribbon instead of yarn was definitely a bit of a challenge, but with colors like those found in this ribbon set, it was well worth the extra effort!

Clothepin Wall Decor | Ann-Marie Loves

Clothespin Wall Decor. Decorating Briar’s nursery will forever be one of my all-time favorite ongoing projects. I love adding new touches here and there, so when I saw these adorable clothespins, I knew they would bring in a little playfulness to the spot above Briar’s changing table.

DIY Geometric Banner | Ann-Marie Loves

Geometric Banner. When it comes to pretty patterned paper and my Cameo, I simply cannot be stopped. I found this awesome shape designed by Amy Robison in the Silhouette store and had to give it a whirl. Now the banner hangs in my office (next to the much-asked-about bunny vase!) and makes me happy :)

diy greeting card box.

Posted on: Thursday, August 7, 2014

Greeting Card Box DIY | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza

I recently put together a tutorial on how to create a landing spot for all of those well-designed greeting cards that I amass at a rather alarming rate (and then have no idea where to store!). You can see the full shebang over here via Dear Lizzy. Enjoy!

Card Box | Kraft Cardstock | Cuttlebug Die Cut Machine | Project Life 3 x 4″ Cards | White Thickers

diy custom frame mats.

Posted on: Friday, July 25, 2014

DIY Custom Frame Mats | Ann-Marie Loves

You guys, I won’t even begin to tell you how ridiculously expensive it is to have an annual pass to Disneyland. It’s beyond the point of ridiculous. But in spite of the steep price point, John and I continue to renew our passes year after year, because, well, we love it! And soon we will have another person to take along with us (for free!), so of course, we’re in too deep to quit now ;)

DIY Custom Frame Mats | Ann-Marie Loves

Last year all annual pass holders were sent a calendar booklet complete with vintage prints from all of the big attractions and something told me that I should hang on to it for future use. Well, high five to me, because when I rediscovered the booklet while cleaning out my office the other day, I knew that three of the pages would be perfect for nursery decor! The only problem was that the dimensions of the pages didn’t exactly lend themselves well to traditional frame sizes.

DIY Custom Frame Mats | Ann-Marie Loves

So, I had to get a little creative. I went through the frames that I already had on hand and realized that if I used this simple white IKEA frame and made a custom mat with my Cameo die cutting machine, I could easily accommodate the prints! Boom. That was all it took to get my wheels turning…

DIY Custom Frame Mats | Ann-Marie Loves

To make the custom mat, I measured the prints and then created a slightly smaller-sized rectangle in the Silhouette Studio software and centered it within the 8.5 x 11″ paper allotment.

DIY Custom Frame Mats | Ann-Marie Loves
DIY Custom Frame Mats | Ann-Marie Loves

Once the mats were cut out, I turned the prints over and adhered them to the backs of each mat using scotch tape (washi tape would probably work well too!). Then I popped each print into the frame and mapped out where I wanted to hang them on the wall.

DIY Custom Frame Mats | Ann-Marie Loves

Initially, I was reluctant to hang anything above the crib given the high likelihood of earthquakes, but I managed to find a few workarounds. First of all, these frames are super light and the covers are made of plastic, not glass. Secondly, I pulled the crib away from the wall so that should the prints fall, they won’t come in contact with the baby. And thirdly, I wreak more havoc simply by running my clumsy body into things than any earthquake could ever cause, so maybe I’m the one who needs to be baby-proofed? HA!

stamped canvas pouch.

Posted on: Thursday, July 17, 2014

DIY Stamped Canvas Pouch | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza | via Dear Lizzy DIY Stamped Canvas Pouch | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza | via Dear Lizzy

Yesterday my stamped canvas pouch tutorial was shared on the always-inspiring Dear Lizzy’s blog! Hop on over to check it out :)

baby album | part eleven.

Posted on: Friday, July 11, 2014

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

As I work on my album each week, I keep thinking “is this the final week? Will I have a baby picture to pop in next time?” But based on my visit to the doctor this past Tuesday, I still have plenty of pages left in me before any baby faces grace this album ;)

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

I’m keeping things pretty simple these days with a full-sized photo flanked by a page of short journaling. Nothing too fancy. After all, those baby shower thank you notes aren’t going to write themselves!

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza
Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

For this page, I used an old sheet of Sassafras paper and embellished it with a Crate Paper journaling card, yellow washi tape, Thickers, and a Dear Lizzy dimensional heart sticker. I kept the journaling short and sweet as well.

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

For the second page, I printed out a 6.25 x 9.5″ photo from my maternity shoot a few weeks back and used a strip of mint masking tape and a phrase from a Project Life card for extra emphasis. Feeling the baby kick, roll, and punch is a feeling I never ever want to forget. It’s pure magic.

Last Day to Save on E-Courses + Printables! | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Ooh! Before I forget, today is the LAST DAY to take advantage of my 37% off sale on e-courses + printables! If you’ve been thinking about taking a class (this one is my personal fave) or getting your hands on some fun printables, now is the time! Use the code THIRTYSEVEN to save at checkout :)

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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