Posts from the ‘tutorials’ category

DIY Watercolor Calendar | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

I realize it’s mid-June and to most people, it’s not exactly calendar season. But for me, I just want a change of scenery. Since I can’t write on my Rifle Paper calendar (thou shalt not deface any Rifle products with messy handwriting…everyone knows that), I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own. Here’s how I did it:

DIY Watercolor Calendar | Ann-Marie Loves Paper


  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolor paints
  • Ruler
  • Paintbrushes
  • Number stamps (mine are from The Curiosity Shoppe, which sadly appears to be closed!)
  • Cup for water

DIY Watercolor Calendar | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

To begin, I (roughly) measured out the lines for my calendar squares and then ran my paintbrush right along the edge of the ruler. I should preface this by saying that I am NOT a perfectionist. I have little interest in making everything look uniform; I just want to have fun creating and get things done. Plus, watercolors don’t exactly lend themselves to clean lines. The more freeform, the better!

DIY Watercolor Calendar | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

Once I have the lines and month name painted, I gather my number stamps.

DIY Watercolor Calendar | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

To stamp with watercolors, I simply paint the rubber stamp with the paintbrush and stamp directly onto the paper. Easy peasy.

DIY Watercolor Calendar | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

I decided to go with a light paint color so I can eventually write over the date without competing with the overall design.

DIY Watercolor Calendar | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

Let dry and let the planning begin!


DIY Muffin Tin Planter | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

The other day as I was browsing the shelves of the Goodwill, I spotted this muffin tin + knew instantly that I wanted to turn it into a planter. Once I picked up the muffin tin for $1.50 (50% day – look out!), I swung by Lowes and had a wonderful time picking + choosing my succulents.

Click here to see my Vine video of the planting process!

DIY Muffin Tin Planter | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

To create this planter, you will need:

  • Six succulent plants (I purchased all of mine for less than eight dollars at Lowes)
  • 1 muffin tin (the deeper the cups, the better)
  • Vinyl Bumpers
  • An awl or drill (and drill bit)

DIY Muffin Tin Planter | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

After cleaning the muffin tin as best I could (a good rule of thumb for all thrift finds), I flipped it over and punched drainage holes in all six of the cups using a bookbinding awl. Luckily the tin was super easy to punch through, but if yours is thick, I recommend using a drill with a small bit.

DIY Muffin Tin Planter | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

From there, I added a vinyl bumper to each of the four corners of the tin to allow for proper drainage. This is key if you prefer living plants.

DIY Muffin Tin Planter | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

I then played around with the arrangement of the succulents and placed them in the muffin tin.

DIY Muffin Tin Planter | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

Then I began moving the soil around, adding in a handful of small rocks, and finessing each of the plants to my liking. After that I lightly watered the individual plants and called it good. The thing to remember about succulents is that they require minimal watering. In fact, it’s best if you leave them alone until their soil is completely dry. (You can read even more care + keeping tips here!)

DIY Muffin Tin Planter | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

So there you have it! A quick + easy Springtime DIY that has yet again fueled my thrift shopping habit! I have plans to make a bunch of these for my wedding and display them amidst other floral centerpieces on our tables. Good times ahead!


I don’t know if it’s my “recycle, reduce, reuse” California upbringing (anyone else remember that song??) or if it’s simply my personal inclination to hoard anything made from a tree, but the thought of throwing away something that can easily be repurposed pains me. Especially anything from Anthropologie. (Have you ever watched an Anthro employee wrap a gift with the quintessential brown tissue paper + that giant washi tape dispenser? It is a true delight, my friends.) The other day while I was organizing all my various packaging supplies, I realized that the paper quality of an Anthro bag would be perfect for creating envelopes!

Turning Anthropologie Bags into Envelopes | Ann-Marie Loves Paper
Turning Anthropologie Bags into Envelopes | Ann-Marie Loves Paper
Turning Anthropologie Bags into Envelopes | Ann-Marie Loves Paper

The process of turning a paper bag into an envelope is as basic as you would imagine. First, I cut out one side of the bag (the side that doesn’t fold up) and turned it over to the backside. Using a 4-bar Paper Source envelope template as my guide, I traced the shape with a pencil and then cut it out by hand. Next, I folded up all the flaps, adhered with a tape runner, and applied a liberal amount of washi tape. Done and done!

Tis the season to repurpose!


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1. Put on your finest pair of sweatpants. Photographing inanimate objects is utterly exhausting. You’ll see.
2. Find the best source of natural, indirect light. For me, it’s right by a sliding glass door with a sheer curtain drawn to eliminate shadows + harsh light.
3. Use a white foam-core board as the background. This board is not only a great neutral for shooting + editing, but it’s strong enough to act as a tabletop.
4. Gather an assortment of “props.” For my latest shop designs, I used a mix of graph paper, a hot pink envelope from Jamaica, a photo of San Diego, and washi tape. Always washi tape. To keep things streamlined for future product shoots, I left two strips of washi tape on the board permanently.
5. Take a quick Instagram break.
6. Style the stamps to your liking. As much as I love elaborate set-ups, I know better than to do that to myself. When it comes to efficiency and personal sanity, the simpler the better.
7. Take several different shots of each product. I always zoom out more than what seems necessary, just so I can crop and rotate to my liking when I edit. Better to have too much to work with than not enough. Trust.
8. Style, shoot, repeat.
9. Take a step back and photograph your set-up. Who knows, it might make for a good blog post (;


P.S. New stamps are up!


Last Friday I saw this pin pop up in my Pinterest feed and within a half hour, I was rifling through the felts + fleece at Joann’s.

I didn’t follow the actual instructions that the source of the pin provided. Instead, I used my Paper Source envelope + liner templates, along with a little hot glue, a pencil for tracing, and some sharp fabric scissors. The bow was a quick + easy embellishment to make as well. All I did was fan-fold the fabric over itself a few times, pinched the center together with my fingers to create a bow shape, and then secured it with a thin strip of hot pink fleece. It was so much fun to make, but really, the best part of the process was giving it to someone whom I knew would appreciate it.

I’ve heard that many people are completely overwhelmed by Pinterest and can only handle it in small doses. I totally see where they are coming from (that’s how I feel about Facebook). But for me, it’s god’s gift to the interwebs. I can binge on it for hours at a time. And I do. Often. I don’t view it as a place to compete with other bloggers/crafters/makers. I also don’t use it as a place to promote myself (although it’s always a thrill when I see one of my own designs being pinned by others!). I simply see it as a much better alternative to saving all those photos on my desktop. That’s so 2009.


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Happy Tuesday! I’m writing this blog post from Newport Beach and am loving the change of scenery! I can’t wait to get outside and take a walk around the bay, but before I do, I want to share a little packaging tutorial on how I customize envelope liners.

First of all, lining envelopes is not only a fun surprise for the recipient when they open the package, but it’s also a great way to use rolled sheets of paper! I have a huge collection of rolled paper that has a tendency to collect dust simply because it is so unruly to work with. Well, no more excuses…it’s time to use my stash!

Here I’m using an A6 kraft envelope from Xpedx and hot pink patterned paper from Egg Press. I cut the paper down as small as possible to make it easier to trace and cut.

Since my Paper Source liner template is designed for triangle-flap envelopes, I made a little pencil mark on the template where my kraft envelope will end. This comes in handy when I go to cut my paper down to size. (If you don’t have liner templates, you could easily make them yourself with a heavy piece of cardstock or a manila folder.)

Lay the liner template on the backside of the patterned paper and trace just the bottom rectangle portion (not the flap).

Next, flip the template upside down and trace the upper portion of the paper (again, not the flap), using the first set of pencil lines as your guide. From there, cut along the pencil lines to remove the excess paper.

After I’ve cut out the patterned paper, I place it in the envelope and make light pencil marks to indicate the slight angling of the flap. (Personally, I avoid measuring at all costs and eyeball everything, but feel free to measure out the angle if you prefer exact proportions.) Once I make the pencil lines, I cut away the excess paper.

Tuck the liner into the envelope and position as you would like. Then add a little bit of adhesive to the portion of the liner that will be on the flap. That’s it! No need to adhere the whole entire sheet.

For an additional element of surprise, I stamped a phrase atop a strip of orange washi tape and stuck it just below the envelope opening. (This is covered by the flap when it’s closed.) The striped teal washi tape wraps around both the front and back of the envelope.

Both the front and back of the envelope are adorned with Paper Source labels (unfortunately no longer in stock) and embellished with my stamps. (You can find the “Cheers” stamp here).

Ta-da! Now stick a handmade card in there and send it to someone special!



Jamie recently picked up this beautiful necklace for me to wear with my bridesmaid dress for her upcoming wedding. I instantly fell in love with the powerful yet understated statement it made (if that makes any sense). However, once I tried it on with my dress, it just wasn’t jiving with the neckline and the thin straps. I was a little bummed about it until I realized how easy it would be customize the length!

First things first: I knew that if I totally destroyed it, I would easily be able to replace it with another one (gotta love Forever 21). Once that was settled, I picked up a small roll of gold chain and gold wire from Michaels for only a few bucks each. Luckily I had the wire cutters and pliers from previous jewelry-making phases, so I didn’t need to worry about that.

Once I had all my supplies laid out, I cut off the existing chain and then added the new chain to one side of the necklace. With one side attached, I could easily determine how long I wanted the rest of the chain to be. It also helped that I was wearing my dress while I crafted. (Doesn’t everyone get dressed up to craft?)

After deciding on my desired length, I cut the chain and added it to the other side of the necklace. Given that the necklace could easily be pulled over my head, there was no need to add a clasp.

Ta-da! Can’t wait to wear this baby on Jamie’s big day!



I’m a big fan of Photoshop actions.

As much as I love editing my photos manually, there’s something extremely satisfying about letting Photoshop do it for you. Actions, in a nutshell, are a recording of edits that you can apply to your photos by simply pressing the play button in the Actions palette. (It sounds far more complicated than it really is, trust me!)

I find that they’re especially great for

  • photos that lack a striking color scheme
  • creating a “mood” through color, texture and exposure, similar to what Instagram does.
  • editing photos in a hurry
  • attempting to resolve issues created by using the built-in flash on a camera (for the love of Pete’s dragon, avoid using the flash at all costs! Shoot in natural, indirect sunlight as often as possible!)
  • having fun with your photos!

I’ve downloaded most of mine for free from Deviant Art, but there are plenty of other great websites that offer actions as well.  Once you have your actions loaded into Photoshop, this is how you use them:

Step 1: Open your photo in Photoshop (any version). This photo was shot in mid-morning light with the automatic setting on my point-and-shoot camera. There’s a certain dullness to it that can easily be remedied by an action. Sidenote: I often use Auto Levels (Image > Adjustments > Auto Levels) before beginning any action, just to give the photo a good base. However, this is not a necessary step.

Step 2: Choose your action. Open your Actions palette (Window > Actions) and choose which action you would like to use. When I first downloaded mine from Deviant Art, I tried them out on a few photos and then renamed them based on what I thought I would remember them by (hence Sunny Love, Bright Love, etc). Don’t be afraid to customize with cheesy names! (; Once you have clicked on your action (I’m going with Sunny Love), hit the Play button at the bottom of the Actions palette.

Step 3: Watch your photo change instantly! Seriously, the best part about actions is that you get to sit back and let Photoshop take the wheel for a moment. Even if you already know the general look of an action, it’s always a surprise to see how it alters each individual photo.

Step 4: Evaluate and make changes (if desired).  In the case of this particular photo, I enjoy the overall feel of the complete action, but I would prefer to scale it back a bit. You can easily experiment with different results from the same action by opening the History palette (Window > History) and clicking on each step. I find my favorite result 7 steps back.

Step 5: Flatten Image. Once you are completely satisfied with your photo, be sure to flatten the image (Layer > Flatten Image) if you plan on saving it as anything other than a .psd (Photoshop) file. This is also a crucial step if you plan on making additional adjustments outside of the action adjustments (see step 6).

Step 6: Make any additional adjustments. I want to brighten to my photo slightly, so I open the Exposure window and adjust it accordingly.

Step 7: Enjoy your awesome new photo! Doesn’t the end result look so much more interesting than the original? I love actions!

A note about printing actions-enhanced photos: I feel like it’s always a bit of a crapshoot to have these photos printed by a professional service. When I don’t print at home, I use Kodak Gallery (so I can pick them up at my local Target) and the results are usually pretty decent. However, the occasional photo looks a little funky and you just have to learn to roll with it (:

What actions are you guys using these days? Do tell!


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Happy Thursday! Today I thought I would share some basic Photoshop editing tips for photos.

If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time with your photos, whether it’s shooting, printing, blogging, or scrapbooking, so naturally you want them to look great. Thanks to college classes and trial-and-error, I’ve come up with a go-to list of editing techniques that I use everytime I drag a photo into PS. Once you get the hang of it, editing becomes a breeze (and it also becomes addictive – I can’t use a photo unless I’ve edited it even the slightest amount!). Here’s how I post-process all my pictures:

Step 1: Open your photo in Photoshop (any version). I took this photo in mid-morning light with the auto setting on my point-and-shoot camera. It’s not too bad to begin with, but it’s not quite up to my brightness and color standards.

Step 2: Auto Levels. This is always my first stop on the editing tour, as it helps to adjust the brightness and color of my photo. Occasionally I don’t like the way it looks and that’s when I will manually fix the levels myself (Image > Adjustments > Levels). To undo any of your steps, go to Edit > Undo, or if you’re using a Mac, hit “Command+Z” on your keyboard.

Step 3: Exposure. I prefer my photos to err on the side of overexposed than underexposed, so I always adjust the exposure to achieve my desired brightness.

Step 4: Curves. Curves helps to lighten up any areas of your photo that still remain dark, even after you adjust the Exposure.

To use Curves: grab the diagonal line (either in the middle or at the bottom) and pull it to the left until you are satisfied with the brightness correction. Remember that you can always view your corrections before clicking “OK” by checking the “Preview” box on the open window.

Step 5: Hue/Saturation. Each person will have their own preference when it comes to the overall color of a photo, but I prefer mine to be yellowish-reddish (or “sunny,” as I like to call it). This is one of my favorite parts of the tour, so definitely experiment with it yourself to see how “warm” or “cold” you want your photos to be!

To use Saturation: I generally just grab the Saturation bar and pull it to the right slightly to achieve a warmer look. Rarely will I go above +5 because I want my photos to maintain a natural look. I almost never touch the Hue or Lightness bars, mainly because…I have no idea? Ha!

Step 6: Save your photo and call it good! This is exactly how I like my photos to be: Bright and Sunny without looking too photoshopped.

Note: I am by no means a professional photographer or Photoshop expert, so if you have any tips or tricks that you use, I would love to hear them!

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!



So my little Bits + Pieces book has nearly doubled in size! I’m loving just throwing stuff in there and not worrying whether it is a masterpiece or not (it’s not). I’ve also had some fun coming up with new ways to create inserts for the book. Here are two that I recently did:

Transparent Envelope

So the other day John found some GIANT paper rolls for me (boyfriend of the YEAR, right?). Carrying these heavy suckers up three flights of stairs was no easy feat, but well worth it! Here’s how I turned the transparent paper into an envelope:

1. Scissors, double-sided tape, envelope, and material of your choice (mine’s a little thicker and more opaque than a transparency).

2. Open up your existing envelope so you can use it as a template for your new envelope. (Or if you’re of the fanciful variety, you can use real envelope templates.)

3. Trace around your envelope.

4. Fold your new envelope where it should be folded.

5. Glue down to the two big flaps with two strips of double-sided tape. One strip on each side.

6. Embellish and fill with tickets, receipts and other memorabilia! Yay!

Plastic Packaging Page


Another great resource for fun pages is packaging! My favorite AC This to That adhesive is the Double Sided Tape – it sticks like you wouldn’t believe! (Or maybe you would?) It comes packaged in a heavy plastic covering, which is PERFECT for clear pages for my little book! Here’s how I did it:

1. Start with double-sided tape packaging (or any other decent-size plastic packaging) and sharp scissors.

2. Carefully open the package (try not to let it bend too much or else you will get creases). Cut the two pieces in half.

3. Using a paper trimmer, even out the edges of your plastic piece.

4. I stapled a fun card from Studio Calico onto mine. Clear sheets are perfect for double-sided memorabilia because you can see both sides! Done and done!


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