3 Natural Products I am LovingHi there! I have some really good products to share with you this week. Actually, most of these are game-changers for me! 

First up, dental care. Did you know a lot of common toothpaste brands have really high toxic ratings? I didn't. But I took a class locally a few months back and was really convinced I needed to change them out. I tried a homemade toothpaste (I didn't make it; I bought it from a local farmer's stand), and if I'm being totally honest – it was gross. And I didn't feel like I could travel with it. I didn't want to completely give up, so I found the best store-bought things I could. And I am really happy with what I found. 

3 Natural Products I am Loving Dr.Bronner's Toothpaste + Jason Sea Salt Mouthwash 

This toothpaste looks and tastes pretty normal. It's better than a lot of the more natural brands and has a lower rating (remember, lower=better). I am very happy with this toothpaste, and I like that it's pretty easy to find. I get mine at Whole Foods. 

This mouthwash is half the toxic rating of what we used to use. It does taste like sea salt, which was weird to me at first, but then I really got into it. I am still looking for an even cleaner product, but in the meantime, I like using this and it's much better than what we were using previously! Let me know if you have any suggestions. 

3 Natural Products I am Loving  Suntegrity Sunscreen

I am new to this brand, but I love it A LOT. First of all, it smells like citrus, and it does not burn my eyes (I have really sensitive eyes and always seem to accidentally rub sunscreen into them). It's the best I've ever used. It is kind of expensive, but it does last a long time for the face. If you want a less expensive alternative for all-over sunscreen, try Burt's Bees or The Honest Company

If you search "sunscreen" on the Think Dirty app, you can see that there are lots of VERY toxic products in this category, even ones that are sold at health food stores and ones made for children, which is a bummer. We're all wearing sunscreen in an effort to be healthy, so it doesn't make sense to choose products that have a 10 out of 10 toxicity rating. I feel like this product is especially important since we use so much of it all over our skin. Here's a helpful link

3 Natural Products I am Loving    Antonym Blush in Rose 

This is another product line I found locally at Poppy & Monroe (it's on Amazon too!). This blush is very close to the Nars Orgasm blush I used to use (which was also rated a 10 for being toxic – when does it end??), but I loved the color and was happy to find an alternative. I also really love their peach color for a more neutral look. I'm going to try their eyeshadows next. 

I hope this has been helpful!! All of these products stack up in quality against the toxic ones I used to use. Some of them I had to try 3-5 things before I found a good one. So please know that I am very passionate about this subject and excited to share it. But at the same time I never want to come off as preachy or depressing because when I first started getting into this, I found it very overwhelming, expensive and frustrating for a while. I get that! So I'm here to help if you need me! :)) xx -Elsie 

Credits//Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. 

When decorating your house, don't forget about the hallway! (click through for tips!)       When you are renovating a new house (or just trying to refresh an existing space), it's really easy to forget about one important space – the hallway! Now, you may be thinking that you wouldn't exactly call your hallway "important", but if it's the central walkway that connects all your most used rooms like in my house, you may go through that space more than any other in a given day. So it's a place you'll actually spend a lot of time. I had been so focused on getting the rest of the rooms of my house put together, that I totally neglected the hallway. Partnering with our friends at Canon USA, I decided to update this space and give it some love and personality. Here are some simple tips that anyone can follow to bring life to your "boring" hallway as well!

When decorating your house, don't forget about the hallway! (click through for tips!)
You can see why I wasn't impressed with the original hallway scheme. Definitely needed to kick it up a few notches to freshen it up a bit!

When decorating your house, don't forget about the hallway! (click through for tips!)
When decorating your house, don't forget about the hallway! (click through for tips!)         1. Photos, photos, photos! Hallways are the classic spot for treasured family photos for a good reason. Since it's such a heavily traveled area, it's a great place to be reminded of your loved ones (and furry loved ones too!) each time you pass through. A simple row of photos or a staggered gallery wall are great options depending on the size space you are wanting to fill. The PIXMA iP8720 is perfect for this type of project because you can print large photos to fill the wall and the image quality is amazing. I also always like to put up paper mock ups of the frames so I can easily determine placement and frame size before hammering in any nails. 

2. Stay away from the dark side. Since most hallways already have a tendency to feel small and dark, use a light wall color to make the space feel as open and airy as possible. I just used an untinted white interior paint for my hallway, and it's amazing what a difference it made even though the previous color wasn't that dark of a shade. The light color will allow what sunlight does get into the hallway to bounce around more, making the space seem as bright as possible.

When decorating your house, don't forget about the hallway! (click through for tips!)     3. Go for a runner. Adding a runner to your hallway will go a long way in making it look like a thought-out, finished space (I used this rug for mine). Depending on how long your hallway is, you may need to add two rugs together to make a long enough one, or you can use several smaller sizes for a mismatched look. I also did a dark floor stain in my house to contrast with the white walls and a lighter rug helps keep the space bright as well.

When decorating your house, don't forget about the hallway! (click through for tips!)   4. Switch out your light. You probably don't remember any of the lights from hallways you've been in, so why not switch out your boring "don't notice me" light for something that's worth looking at! A decorative light will add some flair and personality to your space, and it's another way to show that you pay careful attention to detail. This little beauty is from LucentLightshop and is the perfect choice for a small entryway or hallway area – so pretty!

When decorating your house, don't forget about the hallway! (click through for tips!)    5. Add some green. Plants add a "living" element to spaces because, well, because they are alive! If you ever feel like a space looks good but is missing something, add some plants, and I bet your problem will be solved. Depending on your set up, you may want to have a planter on the floor or in the corner, add some hanging plants to a wall, or if you have a classic mid century home like me, use the old telephone nook as your planter ledge! Love that little tabletop planter too...

When decorating your house, don't forget about the hallway! (click through for tips!)  When decorating your house, don't forget about the hallway! (click through for tips!)      So as you can see, following those simple rules made a giant difference in my hallway makeover. I never noticed anything when walking though the hallway before, but now I like to admire all the cute touches as I pass through the space. I also like that I can see the hallway photos from the different rooms that connect to the hallway. Hope you found some good ideas to transform your boring hallway in your space. I think you'll be so glad you did! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. 

Beyond the basics photography ecourseWe are beyond excited to share our latest photography e-Course with you guys! It's called Beyond the Basics, and it's all about pushing yourself as a photographer to the next level creatively. We've had so much fun developing this course over this past year, and we are SO excited to see some of the amazing images we know you all will create as a result. 

Beyond the Basics ecourse   Beyond the Basics ecourse Beyond the Basics ecourse Beyond the Basics ecourse  Beyond the Basics ecourse     But really what is this course all about? Good question. 

Beyond the Basics is a creative followup course to one of our best selling courses, DSLR Basics. Taught by the same instructors, Janae Hardy, Elsie Larson, and Emma Chapman, this course will take any photographer who is already comfortable setting their camera manually and push them to the next level creatively! With 25 sessions full of challenges, information, and examples, students will be pushed to think outside the box and break through any photography rut they might find themselves in by being exposed to new techniques and encouraged to photograph in many different situations. By the time students complete this course, they will have created many photographs they can be proud enough of to hang in their homes! 

Whether you are a professional photographer or passionate hobbyist, this course will help push you to that next level. With that said, we do recommend students have either already taken DSLR Basics or that they feel comfortable setting their ISO, aperture, and shutter speed manually. As long as you feel like you have the basics of setting your DSLR camera down, you will have success with this course. 

You can check out the full list of every session on the shop page here

Beyond still life photography Intentional blur On vacationSunset Have fun with self portraitsFoil pictureJanae HardyAs mentioned, Elsie and I (Emma) wrote a few of the lessons in this course, but the majority were written by Janae Hardy. You all will remember Janae from DSLR Basics, and you can also see her archive of posts she's contributed to ABM right here. She also shot our second book, Happy Handmade Home. She is a very talented and experienced photographer, but honestly, my favorite thing about her as a teacher is her excitement is absolutely infectious! All of our course lessons get read, edited, and proofed a number of times before we launch any course, and as I was reading through all of Janae's lessons, I felt absolutely PUMPED UP to go challenge myself as a photographer. I know that anyone who takes this course will feel that same excitement, and that's really one of the things I love about it the most. :) 

You can read more about who this course is for, what you need, what you get with the course, etc. right here.

Camera gearBeyond the Basics is $38 USD and available NOW. So go check it out, and if you've been in a photography rut, do yourself a favor and join today. xo. The ABM team

P.S. If you feel that you need to get a handle on the basics of setting your camera first, you can still join in our DSLR Basics course. 

Credits// Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Janae Hardy, Elsie Larson, and Emma Chapman.

Strawberries and champagne galette with a chocolate crust (via abeautifulmess.com) Just the mention of strawberries and champagne makes me think of Pretty Woman. Which quickly turns into me reminiscing about movies I grew up watching (mostly because it's what they'd play on TV, like before Netflix and all that). Some of my favorites included: Pretty Woman (as I already mentioned), Pretty in Pink, Say Anything, Footloose, The Beverly Hillbillies and for reasons I cannot fully explain, Crocodile Dundee (which now that I think about it has a lot in common with The Beverly Hillbillies). 

I guess I like romance and people who don't quite fit in. Hmm. Let's not analyze that too much. 

:)

Strawberries and champagne galette with a chocolate crust (via abeautifulmess.com)  Strawberries and champagne galette with a chocolate crust (via abeautifulmess.com)Old movies aside, this galette (or you could call it a free form tart if that feels better to you) does boast strawberries and champagne among its ingredients. But the most prominent flavor would have to go to the chocolate crust – you know I love chocolate! The cocoa gets a flavor boost from a shot of espresso. Now that I'm explaining all this, maybe it sounds a bit too fussy? Well, I promise it's not. It's just as easy, if not easier, than making pie. Plus we're gonna make some extra strawberry and champagne jam to enjoy later on, so it's almost like this galette comes with a sidecar or something. :) 

Strawberries and champagne jamStrawberries and Champagne Galette with a Chocolate Crust. Makes one galette and a heaping cup of jam. 

For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa 
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 shot of espresso over ice + plus enough water to make 6 tablespoons liquid

For the jam:
1/2 cup champagne (Make this on a day you can drink the rest of the bottle with someone!)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
16 oz. (one carton) of strawberries
an additional 16 oz. (one carton) strawberries for the top

To make the crust, first make a shot of espresso and pour it over ice. I used my Nespresso to do this, but you could also buy instant espresso powder and follow the directions for that if you don't have any kind of home espresso maker. (I get it, you hate homemade lattes. :)) Allow that to just sit and cool and also melt some of the ice while you complete the next steps.

Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the 1/2 cup cold butter cut into cubes. Use a pastry blender or your (clean) hands to blend the butter in with the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles very small pebbles. You don't want the butter to melt at all during this process, so if it's warm in your house, one trick is to place your dry ingredients in the freezer (in the mixing bowl) for 15-20 minutes to help keep everything cold as you work. Now add the espresso. Measure so you get 6 tablespoons of liquid. My espresso shot plus melted ice only came to about 5 tablespoons so I added an additional tablespoon of water. Do what you need here to get the right amount of (cold) liquid. Stir and press together until a dough ball forms. Press into a disk, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. 

Chocolate and strawberries galette To make the jam, cut the tops (with the leaves) off the strawberries and also cut each in half. Combine the strawberries, champagne, sugar, and vanilla extract in a small pot. Cook over medium to medium/low heat (so it's just bubbling but not a rolling boil) for about an hour, stirring occasionally. You don't have to hover over the pot, but do give it a stir every now and again so nothing sticks to the bottom, especially in the beginning while the sugar is melting into the mixture. The jam will break down and then reduce some. Once it's quite thick (see photo above), remove from heat and place the jam in a bowl to cool. If you aren't baking your galette that day, you can store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 

You won't use all the jam in the galette, but it's quite delicious (and not overly sweet, which is how I like my jam). So if you are going to all that trouble, why not make enough so you can enjoy it on morning toast for a week or two. Plus it's difficult to make smaller batches than this, so I feel this is the best option. But if you want to try to make a smaller batch, be my guest. :)

Chocolate and strawberries galetteRoll out the crust, top with about 1/4 cup jam, and a layer of sliced strawberries. Roll up the edges of the crust. Then bake at 375°F for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing into pieces. 

Strawberries and champagne galette with a chocolate crust (via abeautifulmess.com)    This galette has some really rich and interesting flavors, but it's not super sweet. So feel free to top with powdered sugar or a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you like. Enjoy! xx. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

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