Warm Cabbage & Noodle Salad

Cabbage + Ramen NoodlesRamen noodles is one of those grocery items that we pretty much always have on hand at my house. Maybe I shouldn't admit that, I don't know. But hot (overly salty) noodle soup is the perfect quick comfort food during these cold months, especially if you happen to have a runny nose.

I sometimes like using just the noodles in salad or stir fry dishes. Then when I place that over-sized plastic "box" of ramen in my shopping cart I can think, "Oh that's for a salad I'm making and not for lazy week night dinners."

The lies we tell ourselves. :)

Cabbage + Ramen Noodles.  What's fun about this dish is that we are going to use an entire cabbage! It might look like a plate full of noodles, but it's actually a pretty decent sized serving of vegetables too. Spicy, salty, super flavorful veggies alongside warm noodles—yum! 

Stir fry cabbage and noodlesWarm Cabbage & Noodle Salad, serves two as a meal or four as a side.

1 cabbage
2 carrots
2 packages of ramen noodles (any flavor since we won't be using the seasoning)
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
juice from 2 limes
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

In a large bowl, place the noodles (do not add the seasoning packets). Pour enough hot water (almost boiling) over the noodles so they are fully submerged. Allow those to soak for 2-3 minutes until well softened.

Secret sauceIn a small bowl or cup, combine the minced ginger, minced garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir to combine. Set aside.

Chop up the cabbage and carrots. I like to cut the carrots into thin matchsticks or use a vegetable peeler to cut into thin strips. 

Cabbage stir fry dinnerIn a large skillet or saucepan, heat the oil over medium/high heat. Add in the cabbage and carrots and cook until just beginning to soften. Add in the noodles (drained from the water). Then pour the soy sauce mixture over everything. At this point the cabbage will begin to cook quickly, releasing some additional moisture. Cook just until everything is hot, then remove to a platter or plates.

Cabbage + Ramen Noodles. Top with chopped peanuts and cilantro. Taste, and if needed, sprinkle on a little more salt. I like to serve this along with a fresh lime wedge too, as I'm a citrus freak. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

Try This: Skull Succulent Planter

Succulent skull planter idea! If you like the thought of decorating for Halloween but don't feel very crafty (or don't have a lot of time to devote to decor), then this skull with succulent eyes is a quick idea to add a bit of spooky fun around the house. When you love growing things as much as we do, it's hard not to see the planter potential in most objects, and the abundance of plaster skulls in the craft stores seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a Halloween-themed planter.

I gave my skull a coat of semi-gloss spray paint to add a bit of luster to the surface, and then cut fresh stems off a larger succulent plant and added them into the eye sockets. Since these particular succulents are a bit top heavy, I used a drop of super glue to keep them in place so they wouldn't fall out. You can use real succulents if you'd like, or, if you want to keep the look for much longer, you can use fake succulents instead. Air plants would also be good for this project because you can just pull them out to water every so often and put them back in. 

Succulent skull planter idea!   Succulent skull planter idea!   Succulent skull planter idea! Besides the fact that I find this little guy visually adorable, I also like the contrast of a living thing (the plant) coupled with something dead (the skull). It kind of adds a poetic depth to it that you can totally pretend you did on purpose to be a super-duper smarty pants. Isn't that how highly intelligent people refer to themselves? That's what I thought. Now go plant some skulls! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Flower Grapevine Wreath

OpeningI love a pretty fall wreath hanging on my front door. The only problem is that in California it's still over 100° outside. So having a wreath on my front door when the weather screams summer feels kind of funny to me. Even still, I didn't let that stop me from creating a wreath for display, but instead of the front door, I hung it in front of one of our mirrors inside our home. It instantly gave that room a more cozy vibe. So while it feels like summer outside, it looks like fall inside. 

I've been into dried flowers lately and initially wanted to make a wreath with dried flowers. Instead, I chose flowers that would dry nicely and made a wreath with mostly fresh flowers (the hydrangeas were slightly dry), and then I allowed them to dry on the wreath. 

OpeningOpeningSupplies:
-18" grapevine wreath
-fresh flowers that would dry nicely (I used one bunch of each of these: hydrangeas, craspedia, seeded eucalyptus, marigolds, caspia, button poms, and pyracantha.)
-floral wire
-wire cutter

OpeningOpeningStep One: Cut the stems of the flowers to about 5" - 7" in length. Decide on the placement of your flowers on the wreath, and insert the flowers that are individually stemmed into the wreath first. The marigolds, craspedia, and caspia inserted into the form of the grapevine wreath nicely. I wanted to clump all the same flowers together instead of mixing them with each other. 

OpeningOpeningStep Two: Continue to add the remaining flowers and wrap the stems to the wreath with a floral wire until your entire wreath is covered. You can also wrap the stems of the flowers that were already inserted to secure them in even more. Tip: to keep the direction of the flowers continuous, have the stems of the flowers all going the same direction as you work your way around, layering the heads of the flowers on the previous flowers' stems.

Also, when working with hydrangeas, you want them be somewhat dry when you put them on the wreath, otherwise the petals will clump together and fall flat. A few days before making the wreath, place the hydrangeas in a vase with fresh water covering half the length of the stems. After a few days, when the water has evaporated, the hydrangeas will be dried, and that is the optimal time to use them in a dried wreath or dried flower arrangement. 

OpeningOpeningDSC_0474 copyThe last photo above is what the wreath looks like dried two weeks later. The marigolds aren't as full, and all the colors have dried to a muted tone with a little hint of brown in it, but it still looks perfectly autumn. Maybe once the weather feels more like fall here, I'll make another one for the front door. -Rubyellen

Credit // Author and Photography: Rubyellen Bratcher. Photos edited with Imogen from the Folk Collection

Roasted Sweet Potatoes + Black Beans

Roasted sweet potato and black beansThere are a couple things you should know about this dinner idea. First, it's WAY easy to make. Like, you really don't even need a recipe (although I'll still go ahead and tell you how I make my version). And the second thing is that I think this is the perfect dinner for October because... the colors! Black and orange—total Halloween colors.

Roasted sweet potato and black beans If you're not way into sweet potatoes, you totally should be. They are absolutely full of flavor, and I hear they are pretty good for you too. And my husband can tell you that I will put black beans on just about anything if you let me. I'm a black bean fanatic. 

Easy healthy dinner ideasRoasted Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans, serves two.

2 sweet potatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (15 oz.) black beans
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
salt + pepper

For garnish I highly recommend shredded cheese, sour cream and green onions.

Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes. Cut in half and then lightly cut the top 1/3 of the each side into cubes. Rub with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375°F for 45+ minutes. My potatoes were on the smaller side so 45 minutes was enough time to cook them through, but if your potatoes are larger, you may need to increase the baking time. Just check them by trying to cut through a thick part with a fork. If you can't easily cut through, keep baking.

Easy healthy dinner ideas Towards the last 10-15 minutes of the potatoes' baking time, get the beans going. Mince the garlic and cook in a small pot over medium heat in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil for a minute or two. Add in the drained beans. Stir in the spices and season with a little salt and pepper. Once those are heated through, you're ready to go.

Roasted sweet potato and black beans  Serve the beans alongside the sweet potatoes. Top with cheese, sour cream and green onion. Dig in! This is total comfort food—enjoy. xo. Emma

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

3 Ways to Decorate Halloween Skulls

3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls       Halloween is almost here! If you've been wanting to do a Halloween-themed craft, but keep putting it off, this is your chance to make some last minute decor before the big day. And, since all the Halloween crafts go on sale as it gets closer to Halloween, why not get more than one and try each of these 3 ways to decorate with skulls. Ready? Go!

3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls
3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls      For the first skull, ( I got mine at Jo-Ann) I decided to look up some sugar skull inspiration and hand-paint some colorful elements onto one of the skulls. You'll first want to paint the eyes, nose, and teeth a solid color and outline them. Then draw simple flowers and vines around the rest of the face with a thin marker (pay attention to where they place the flowers, like on the chin and cheekbones). Use more paint to fill in the flower petal details, and then go over the lines again with a thicker black marker to finish the look. Make sure to choose bright colors!

3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls  3 ideas for cute Halloween skullsFor the second skull, we are going to add glitter! I would suggest spray painting your skull the color of your glitter first (I painted mine gold), so that you don't have to do as thick of a coat of glitter later. It makes it much less noticeable if there is a spot that shows through the bottom. Once you paint your skull, put your skull in a cardboard box and paint a large section with a thick coat of Mod Podge. Very quickly before the Mod Podge dries, sprinkle fine loose glitter onto the glue. Continue until the top half of the skull is covered. Wait until the glue dries, shake off the excess glitter, and touch up any areas as needed. Repeat process on the other side. Once you shake off all excess glitter, you can either leave the skull as is, or spray a clear coat to keep the glitter shedding to a minimum. I find that using spray clear coat over metallic or glitter finishes usually dulls down the shine or sparkle a bit, so I usually skip it so I'll get maximum shine.

3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls
3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls For this last idea, we are going to add a funny prop! Spray your skull either a bold or metallic color and add anything that makes you laugh, like fake glasses, a small hat, or a bushy stick-on mustache. Bonus points if you have signature items that you wear, and you can get the skull to look like you!

3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls   There you go! Now you've got 3 ideas to create last minute decor for your Halloween night. I already plan on keeping the gold skull on the mantel for a while after the holiday is over. That's the perk of being a "skull" person all year round! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman, Project Assistant: Josh Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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