Entries Tagged as 'life happens'

creating routines + getting things done.

Posted on: Monday, April 14, 2014

Thoughts on Creating Routines and Getting Things Done | Ann-Marie Loves | Quote by Pearl S. Buck

I go through phases where I spend my last few minutes every evening either scrolling through Instagram + Pinterest or by reading a book on my Kindle. Lately I’ve been turning the former way more often than the latter, but last Thursday, I decided to revisit my Kindle and ended up purchasing Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by Jocelyn K. Glei. Turns out, it was exactly what I needed to read! (What’s that saying about when you’re ready, the teacher will appear?) I quickly burned through half the book in a single evening and felt so inspired by the quote above, that I decided to create a new tradition: Friday morning coffee dates with my laptop and my to-do list. I am 100% guilty of waiting until my mood is “just right” or when inspiration strikes or when a deadline is dangerously close before I actually begin, so you better believe this quote was the kick in the pants that I desperately needed ;)

P.S. Normally I save work / life balance posts for my Workspace Wednesday series, but this quote just felt like the right note for kicking off of a killer Monday!

baby bump | 25 weeks.

Posted on: Friday, April 11, 2014

Baby Bump | 25 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

Here’s something my pre-baby self never thought I would say: I love being pregnant.

There’s a lot of responsibility on me to keep the show running, but I am more than happy to play that role. At nearly 25 weeks, this baby is beginning to feel like a REAL baby. Not only can I feel her kicking all day long, but I can actually see her jolt my stomach! (If ever you want to kill thirty minutes straight by staring at a moving baby bump, come on over.) I feel like I’m in that sweet spot of still being able to live a normal life while simultaneously enjoying all the perks of pregnancy. Aside from intermittent bouts of heartburn, having to use the restroom every fifteen minutes, and getting tired more easily than before, I feel pretty darn good.

Baby Bump | 25 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

And then there’s the shopping.

I don’t know if I’ve ever known such shopping joy as I have while looking for clothes, toys, books, furniture, and all kinds of gear for this tiny little person growing inside of me. I’ve loved being able to share this experience not only with John, but with my mom as well. She is beyond excited about adding a little one to the family and has been incredibly giving. Every time I see her, she has a new outfit or toy or book that she picked up for her granddaughter, “just because.”

Baby Bump | 25 Weeks | Ann-Marie Loves

Striped Dress by Old Navy

These past couple days have been spent putting together my baby registry, which like all baby shopping, is so much fun. I’ve been turning to my favorite new mamas for their sage advice about what I should buy vs. what I don’t need. Never in a million years did I think I would be so excited about bottles and burp cloths and Bumbo seats!

Every chapter of life has it’s perks, but this one seems to be especially sweet.

happy at home.

Posted on: Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lately John and I have been commenting on how nice it feels to be “home.”  After a weekend spent with family, it felt great to return to our Pasadena abode and get re-settled back into our daily routines. We’re both well aware that in just a few short weeks, this place will become even more baby-central than it already is, so we’re enjoying every last minute of the limbo phase while it’s still just the two of us.

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

This basket went from holding laundry to holding blankets to holding rolls of paper and I’m sure it will one day hold toys. I love to repurpose!

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

Our daughter’s wardrobe is already bursting at the seams! I need to start taking inventory of which sizes I have and which sizes I need before I fill an entire closet with 3-6 months.

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

Instax photo from our engagement photoshoot which feels like, oh, five million years ago.

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

The ever-changing bench! It’s still my favorite flea market find to date.

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

Most of our shoes get kicked into the closet as soon as we get home, but I dig this little pop of hot pink as part of my “decor.”

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

Overflowing copper cans of pens, pencils, scissors, rulers, bone folders, paintbrushes, xacto knives…

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

The most difficult part of the apartment to photograph! SO MUCH GLARE. But we love curating our fridge displays on a regular basis. Currently it boasts an Artifact Uprising calendar with wedding photos (thanks Katie!), well-wishes on our wedding from the President and First Lady, random photographs, a holiday card from Go Forth Creative, a recipe for homemade waffles, and a hilariously accurate description of our relationship.

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

This is by no means my favorite vignette (decorating is always a work in progress, no?), but I love being able to incorporate the gold-fringed letters from our wedding into our home.

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

You guys. I thrifted this glider for $65 the other day…! Every time I find a killer deal on baby ephemera, it feels like the universe is rewarding us for jumping the gun on the baby train five seconds after getting married. Eventually it’ll get moved into the nursery, but for the time being, we both kind of dig it’s current location.

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

So many stacks of paper around here. I feel like my life is an endless exercise in corralling stacks of paper.

Nesting | Ann-Marie Loves

And finally, the baby goods that are slowly but surely taking over the whole office (soon to be nursery). Can you believe those little shoes? They are SIZE ONE. I don’t care if she only wears them for fifteen minutes of her life for the sake of a photo op…they’re irresistibly cute!

P.S. All of these photos were edited using the Photoshop fade tutorial I shared last month!

as of late | april edition.

Posted on: Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ann-Marie Loves | As of Late: April Edition

Dedicating: this week to taking care of all of the tedious tasks that I have been putting off for quite some time. I keep reminding myself that by Friday, I’ll feel like a million bucks!

Digging: Nubby Twiglet! I found her blog by way of Breanna Rose (one of my daily reads!) and I’m gleaning so much inspiration from her posts.

Shocked: by how…ummm, sizable?… my baby bump looks at 23 weeks. I had no idea how big it really was until I saw a photo of myself from this past weekend. #whoababy #elasticwaistbandsftw

Reading: Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup with great fervor! Typically I have zero interest in books about money and finance, but this one is completely up my alley.

Uncharacteristically: unfazed by all of the recent seismic activity here in LA. On Friday night, John and I held hands and stared at each other (and the breakables in the room) with amusement as we rode out the earthquake. (Except now my weird “earthquake-preventing” superstitions that were created in 1994 are back in full-force, so there’s that.)

Glad: that I finally signed up for Amazon Prime! Free two day shipping and deliveries on Sundays? Why did I wait so long to get onboard?!

Inspired: by this this awesome article about the myth of creative inspiration.

Trying: new recipes from Sprouted Kitchen and loving the results! Cooking is becoming less and less intimidating all the time.

Trusting: that everything is working out exactly as it should be.

Getting: excited about kid’s crafts! I have stumbled upon so many creative and inexpensive ideas lately, I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to play. (I absolutely positively will be turning to this forthcoming book for lots of inspiration!)

Kicking: myself for not snagging a vintage Radio Flyer tricycle at the thrift store the other day. It was so awesome, you guys. #thriftersguilt

Loving: my daily walks around town. I walk as far as I can go and then John picks me up on his way home from work and we drive home together. It’s my favorite part of the day.

Thinking: that Kevin from Thou Swell has the most beautiful Pinterest feed I’ve ever seen. Would it be too much to repin everything?

Laughing: hysterically over the latest episode of the JV Club. And every episode, for that matter.

Using: my planner and my printables on a daily basis, but finding that nothing beats a good ol’ spiral bound journal for brainstorming and capturing all of my ideas. I always stock up at Target when the back-to-school season ends and the sales begin!

Enthralled: by feeling and watching the baby move more and more everyday. (P.S. She is totally kicking my laptop right now as I type this post.)

Incredibly: grateful for the amazing response my Styling | Shooting | Sharing e-course has received! Thanks so much, everyone!

planting new seeds.

Posted on: Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ann-Marie Loves

This past week has been a bit of a doozy, to say the least. There have been many moments where I am overcome with feelings of “what am I doing?!”, except with more expletives and maybe a tearful outburst or two. But despite this week’s rocky start, I’m now feeling renewed and ready to jump back into the fold. I recently read my 2014 horoscope and whether or not it has any shred of truth to it, I choose to believe it wholeheartedly. I like imagining positivity whenever possible and this year is apparently full of it for Scorpios like myself!

Yesterday I left the house for a bit to run some errands and I have to say, being out and about in this beautiful city was like a breath of fresh air. Sometimes I spend so much time at home, I forget that I get to live in Pasadena (a longtime dream of mine!). I remember writing in my journal about wanting to move here a few years ago and at the time, it seemed like a long shot (this was back in my Utah days). But it’s amazing how a tiny seed of an idea can get planted in your subconscious and before you know it, you’re walking down Colorado Boulevard on a Wednesday afternoon because this is your neighborhood, gosh darn it! Life is a funny thing.

So what I mean to say is, I’m planting new seeds. I’m thinking about what’s next for me and I’m hoping for the best. First up: a brand new e-course in which I share all of my favorite tips + tricks for styling, shooting, and editing photos for blog posts! (Look for it to launch by the end of the month!)

P.S. The photo above? Old. Pre-wedding. Pre-baby. But totally fitting of my mood ;)

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.

nesting.

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 ;)

workspace wednesday | freelancing.

Posted on: Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Things I've Learned About Freelancing | Ann-Marie Loves

It’s always around this time of year that I start to question why the heck I ever became a freelancer.

As everyone else (or so it seems) is turning in their W-2′s and talking about how they will spend their tax refunds, I’m gathering together a mountain of receipts, tallying up miles driven, calculating my expenses against my income, and kicking myself for not being more organized the year before. Ah yes, tax season.

With that said, freelancing is a wonderful thing. Sure, maybe I hate myself for a few days out of the year, but for the other 360? I love my life. It’s unpredictable, it’s stressful, it’s a straight-up breeding ground for self-doubt, but gosh darn it, I have no one to answer to but MYSELF. I set my own schedule. I go to sleep and wake up whenever my body wants. If I need to take a day off, I take that day off. I am constantly pushed to try new things and grow creatively to keep income flowing (for better or worse). And most importantly, once my daughter arrives this summer, I’ll be able to stay at home with her for as long as I need to (although paid maternity leave sure would be nice!).

Here are some things I’ve learned about being a freelancer over the past two years:

Taxes are expensive.  I pay taxes on a quarterly basis and while I dread writing a meaty check to the IRS every three months, it’s a small price to pay to be able to live life on my own terms.

Time is finite. Time is precious and the time to make things happen is now. In the past I tended to drag my feet when it came to taking charge of my goals and making things happen, but recently I’ve been able to break out of that mindset more often and it’s paid off tenfold. After all, if I don’t go after my dreams, who will?

Charge what you are worth. Oh gosh, I hate dealing with pricing. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I hate sending off e-mails with my price sheet and wondering if I charged too much or too little for the task and the client at hand. I hate asking for raises. But even more than that, I hate working for free. Sure, it’s okay to do pro-bono work every once in awhile (especially for a person or a cause I truly love!), but when projects get dragged out longer than expected or additional assignments get tacked on without any extra compensation, it leads to resentment and discontent. And really, that hurts both parties. This is why it’s paramount to charge what you are worth from the very beginning. (Remind me of this the next time I tense up over a pricing inquiry!)

Money is a renewable resource. This is probably the biggest lesson I keep learning and re-learning over and over again. When the jobs are rolling in and the money is flowing, I feel powerful and confident and hopeful. But when the gigs are less frequent and my bank account is starting to dwindle? Not a good feeling. Money often feels elusive, like it will never return again, but somehow, some way, it always comes back. Recently I’ve learned that the best way to break out of money ruts is to get creative! Being forced to come up with new sources of income is a great way to push my creative boundaries and try new things that I may not have otherwise had the confidence to pull off. Many of the ideas that I put into action out of a need to pay the bills (i.e. rubber stamps and e-courses, to name a few) have turned out to be my most profitable revenue streams yet! BE BOLD, BE BOLD, BE BOLD.

E-mails are a necessary evil. I’m going to be honest: I don’t love dealing with e-mail. While I would choose it ANYDAY over talking on the phone, it still has a way of taunting me. Lately I’ve been making a conscious effort to stay on top of my inbox every single day, but admittedly, I still fall short.

Be honest. Even when you are your own boss, you’re still going to deal with unpleasant circumstances. When an unhappy customer e-mails me about an issue, I listen to their concerns and offer solutions to the problem (even if it means my feelings are hurt or I have to eat the cost of an item). When I make a mistake on shipping, I own up to it and fix the problem on my own dime ASAP. When I find out a client and I have a miscommunication, I take a step back and apologize where need be. But most importantly, I have to be honest with myself. If something doesn’t feel right or I’m not 100% in love with the product I am about to launch into existence, I have to own up to it and make the necessary changes (even if I hate every minute of it!)

I am never stuck. Knowing that I have a college degree and real-world experience in my back pocket provides me with a mental safety net. I feel confident that if someday freelancing is no longer a viable option for myself and my family, I can always go back to a more traditional career path. (However, after having a taste of self-employment, I am more motivated than ever to stick with it as long as I possibly can!)

The beauty of freelancing is that it really is freedom; just so long as you are doing things that make you FEEL free.

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.

workspace wednesday | generating blog posts ideas.

Posted on: Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Generating Blog Post Ideas | Ann-Marie Loves

One of the biggest hang-ups that I hear about blogging on a regular basis is the issue of trying to come up with enough content to generate post after post, day after day. I know I struggled with that mental block for years! But ever since I made the decision to write five posts per week, the momentum of the commitment has carried me through and given me more ideas than I ever thought possible! Here’s how I do it:

Generating Blog Post Ideas | Ann-Marie Loves

Brainstorm. To begin with, I always break out my notebook and start brainstorming ideas about posts I’d love to write / create / photograph in the near future. At this stage in the game, I don’t judge my ideas; I simply write them down as they come and move on to the next.

Think about the time involved. Once I have a solid list built up, I think about the logistics of each post and approximate how long it would take me to pull it all together. For instance, a DIY post can take a solid chunk of time, so I plan for it to go live further down the road. But posts about how I’m styling my house or what I’m loving at the moment? I can put those together with minimal planning involved.

Pinpoint recurring posts. Being able to count on recurring posts to fill in gaps is a great way to bulk up my editorial calendar. For example, I like to write Workspace Wednesday posts once a week and provide updates on my baby album at least twice a month.

Let life be your guide. I have to say…getting married and having a baby has done WONDERS for my blog post ideas. I mean, it’s almost like free material! Using the current events in my life as a compass for sharing my story while still contributing relevant ideas to the interwebs (i.e. designing wedding decor, planning a big event on a budget, decorating a nursery, etc) has made scheduling posts a million times easier.

Go with the flow. Even if I have a rough outline about the topics I want to cover in a week, I like to leave a bit of wiggle room for spontaneous post ideas. Lately I’ve been composing the majority of my blog posts in e-mails to myself late at night as I’m getting ready for bed. That’s when all of my clearest thought patterns arise, so I grab my phone and furiously take notes! In the morning, I copy / paste my words into blog posts and then take photos to correspond with each topic.

Prioritize. Let’s say I have a photo-heavy post planned for tomorrow, but the sun is going down and I have run out of time to take decent pictures. That’s when I put that idea on the backburner and use another day’s post in the interim. While I value photos and words pretty evenly, the quality of my images takes the cake as the most important aspect of my blog. All of my pictures must pass my own self-imposed test of “Would I pin this?” If the answer is yes, I happily add it to the post. If the answer is no, well, it’s back to the drawing board. Figuring out what matters most to you is key to lasting success.

Take 30% off ALL rubber stamps using the code "FLASH5" until 3/6/14 at midnight! | Ann-Marie Loves Paper on Big Cartel

P.S. I’m having a flash sale on ALL rubber stamps in my shop! Use the code “FLASH5″ from now until Thursday night (3/6/14) at midnight to stock up and save!

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