Happy Halloween!

The golden girls costumeHappy Halloween!! We thought we would share our Golden Girls costumes that we posted on our instagram today. What do you think? We hope you guys have an awesome Halloween!  :) - The ABM team

How To Style a Head Wrap

So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)Hi, guys; LaTonya here! After reading all of the responses from my head wrap tutorial, Elsie, Emma, and I thought it would be great to share how to style your head wrap!

There are many reasons to wear a head wrap; for every person you will usually find that a head wrap holds a different meaning. Here are a few of my reasons: it serves as a protective layer for my natural hair on days when I don't want to touch my hair, it locks in moisture (essential for the summertime), and it's a great stylish addition to every outfit.

I usually wear my wraps in two different styles. One style showcases my hair out in the front with a bow tie, and the other style has all of my hair tucked in the wrap, creating a knot on top. On a good hair day I'll wear the bow look, and on a bad hair day I'll wear the knot look. Both are pretty perfect in my opinion, though! Here's how to create your bow tie head wrap.

So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)  Step One:  Take your wrap lengthwise and stretch it out a bit to get rid of some of the wrinkles. After you're done stretching, wrap your wrap around the back of your head. Ideally, you want your wrap to be even on both sides of your head to create a finished, even bow. 

So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)            Step Two:  Take the two ends of your wrap and bring them forward and together in one hand. With your other hand (usually the hand you write with) pull the fabric from your wrap up and over the crown of your head. Depending on how much hair you have ( I have a lot), either your fabric will go past the crown without fuss or you'll have to pull and tug just a tad more to get it over. If you find you're having a hard time getting the fabric over your crown, just take your hand and lift the fabric off of your nape, giving you more fabric to work with. 

Essentially, you want the crown to be as flat as possible, so use your hand to push that fabric as flat as your hair allows.

So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)   Step Three:  Cross your two pieces of fabric. Once you are done crossing, take that extra fabric from the crown that you've got and pull it under the cross of the two larger pieces of fabric. Once the fabric is under, pull the two pieces of larger fabric tightly, and quickly create a knot to keep the crown fabric from coming undone. 

So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)    Step Four: Tie the two pieces of fabric in a large bow. Make sure you open up the inside of each end of the bow to create a larger effect. If you have extra fabric after creating your bow, just tuck each end inside of the bow; this will give your ends more fluff.

So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)     Step Five: If you have hair out on the sides, tuck it in. This is also the time to fix the hair that's out in the front. 

Time to make it pretty for the day! 

So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)           So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)          After following steps one through three of the previous style, here is how you can create your knot tie head wrap. 

So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)      Step One: After creating a knot, you should create about 2-3 more knots to create an even larger knot. That's a lot of knots, I know. ;)

So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)       So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)       Step Two: When you are done creating your knots, tuck the hair you have lying in the front, right underneath the knot. If you need to, lift up the wrap a bit to create some space for more hair. 

After your hair is all tucked in, take the left side of the extra fabric and wrap it around clockwise until it can't wrap anymore. Take the last bit of the fabric that's in your hand and tuck that under the knot too.  Then take the right side of the extra fabric and wrap that counterclockwise around the knot until you can't wrap it anymore. Take what's left in your hand and tuck that in your knot as well. 

So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial)         Step Three: Pull your wrap forward on your head.  I always pull it up enough to where the fabric is touching the top back of my ear. Tuck in your hair and voilà, your knot tie is complete! 

So cute! How to style a headwrap (click through for tutorial) If you are wearing a double-sided wrap like I made here, you could even bounce in between head wrap style and head wrap design! When you change up the design and style, you've got a new look a few different times a week!

Now that you know how to create these two styles, which one is your favorite? Xx. LaTonya

Credits // Author: LaTonya Staubs. Photography: Peter Staubs. Photos edited with Bella from A Beautiful Mess actions.

The Great Gatsby (Discussion)

The great gatsbyHappy Halloween! Did anyone read The Great Gatsby with me this month? Does anyone remember reading it in high school and want to join in?

I have a few confessions before we get started. First, I did read The Great Gatsby my junior year of high school, but I didn't remember a thing. Okay, that's not true. I vaguely remembered Gatsby's sprawling lawn being talked about a lot. But when I selected this book I was excited because I felt like I would be approaching it with completely fresh (albeit 12 years older) eyes. 

Second, I read half of the book and listened to the other half (the audio book is performed by Jake Gyllenhaal and is awesome!). This is the first audio book I've used in a long time, and it reminded me how entertaining they can be (and how great it is to be able to "read" and walk or knit at the same time).

And third... I really slogged through the first half of this book. In some ways I felt like I was back in high school with a reading deadline, and it was hard to make progress. But then the second half— chapters 6-9—FLEW for me. I couldn't put it down/stop listening. For me, the characters and the plot really came alive.
Elise blaha cripeSo on to the meat of this discussion.
1. Was this your first time through or did you re-read like me? Did you struggle to connect like I did in the beginning? Were you enthralled the whole time? Did you ever engage with the story? I'd love to hear.

2. What do you think about Nick as the narrator? I thought it was an interesting choice to basically have a "bystander" tell the story in first person when Fitzgerald could have just as easily "told" the story in third person. Nick knew everything. He knew about all the relationships. He knew who was really driving the car. The characters confessed a lot to him so we, the audience, could have a front row seat to the action. But Nick, while part of the whole thing, doesn't do much to drive the plot.

I thought it was so interesting how the story opens :

    In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
     “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

It's almost like Fitzgerald is saying, "Hey, these characters are all pretty screwed up, but let's not judge them too much and let that get in the way of this story, okay?"

3. In the end, Gatsby (The Great, which turns out is sort of ironic) dies in a quick—not really part of the action—way. We don't see it. We don't read much detail about it. It's just over in less than a paragraph. This flawed and somewhat fraudulent main character dies and then no one really cares enough to go to the funeral. What did you think of that? What sort of a statement do you think Fitzgerald wanted to make?

4. How did you feel at the end? Did you like any of the characters? I didn't really. It almost felt like watching a reality television show from the 1920s. Everyone's crazy and has too much time on their hands. But somehow I'm intrigued... and sad.

I would love your thoughts on these points and any others. I will be responding in the comments. Thank you so much for reading and chatting with me! -Elise (blog & Instagram)
P.S. Don't forget to pick up your copy of Not That Kind of Girl for November!
Credits // Author: Elise Cripe. Photos by: Sarah Rhodes and Elise Cripe. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Try This: Striped Candlesticks

Make these striped candlesticksThe days may be getting shorter, but that just means dinners are getting more romantic! As sunlight dims, I like to light candles to set the mood for cozy evenings at home. Put on some Ella Fitzgerald, and the atmosphere is complete! I'd been eyeing these gorgeous striped candlesticks at Anthropologie, but I thought I'd try to replicate the look for a little less money. 

Make these striped candlesticksI bought some fall-hued candlesticks from World Market in bordeauxwhite, rust, and olive. Then I selected acrylic paint for the stripes on each color. Regular water-based non-toxic acrylic paint will work with a little patience (just keep dabbing). See my notes about the safey of burning painted candles at the end of this post.

Make these striped candlesticksI used masking tape to make stripes in various widths on the candles, then I dabbed on the paint with a sponge brush. Make sure you don't use too much paint, or it will seep below the tape. It takes about 2-3 light coats to completely cover the wax.

Make these striped candlesticksGently peel off the tape, and now you have some striped candles!

Note: If you have any uneven paint edges, you can use the dull edge of a knife to carefully scrape off the paint from the candle pretty easily. Keep this in mind as you handle the candles, though. If you plan to move them around a lot, you may want to prime them before painting, or the paint will scratch off. (If you do use primer on the candles, do not burn them- unless you are using a water-based non-toxic primer.)

Make these striped candlesticks
Make these striped candlesticks
This project is so simple and makes a fun holiday tablescape for very little money. Take it to the next level with an eclectic array of candle holders. I found a bunch of candlestick holders at the thrift store and painted them all black. So easy—so chic! -Mandi

UPDATE: Some of you have expressed concern about the safety of burning these painted candles, or if they should be for decorative use only. I naively assumed they would be safe to burn because the craft paint I used was water-based and non-toxic. (Note: artists' oil-based/chemical-ridden acrylics are different from the water-based non-toxic craft acrylics.) But I did some research and found that many non-toxic paints may still contain less than 1% of preservatives, such as formaldehyde. Turns out, lots of items many people use everyday that are absorbed/ingested/inhaled have formaldehyde in them, so if this is something you have on your radar (like if you use organic shampoo, avoid decaf coffee, don't use nailpolish— that sort of thing), definitely look for a paint that specifically advertises being formaldehyde free. Look out for heavy metals too, which probably won't be found in water-based craft acrylic paints anyway.

I know some people that won't burn candles in their home at all because of the co2 it releases into the air. However, for use in my home, I'm okay with a little bit of co2 from the candles, and since there is very, very little "non-toxic" paint on these candles, I'm personally okay with the occasional burning of them. You may feel differently about it and choose to only use these for decorative use, or to find formaldehyde free paint, or to skip this project altogether, so I hope I did an okay job explaining what I found in my research so you can make the decision that's right for you. -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella and Valentine from the Signature Collection.

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