3 twists on the Moscow Mule via A Beautiful MessIt's no secret that one of our favorite cocktails is the Moscow Mule. With only three ingredients, it's super easy to make and has become our go-to party cocktail. 

Today we're teaming up with Hangar 1 Vodka on this post, which is kind of perfect because it's definitely a go-to vodka for me. Aside from being tasty, it's just a very, very pretty bottle. :) Anyway, here are three flavorful twists on the classic Moscow Mule recipe! (Spoiler—they're delicious!!) 

Smashed Cherry Mule recipeFirst up—the Smashed Cherry Mule. I'll take any excuse to buy fresh cherries this time of year. This drink is both flavored and colored with beautiful, bright red cherries. It's super refreshing! 

Smashed Cherry Mule recipe Smashed Cherry Mule, serves one. 

2 ounces Hangar 1 Straight Vodka
4 fresh cherries
ginger beer
lime 

In the bottom of your cup, muddle four cherries (cut in half, seeds removed) with the juice of half a lime. Add vodka, ice and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime slice and a fresh cherry. 

Smashed Cherry Mule recipe  SO good! I love eating the cherries when the drink is gone. 

Frozen Mule RecipeNext up, the Frozen Mule. His appearance is a little modest, but don't be fooled—this drink is legit! The blending step takes away the carbonation, making it a unique slushy consistency. You have to try it. 

Frozen Mule Recipe Frozen Mule, serves one. 

2 ounces Hangar 1 Straight Vodka
ginger beer
lime

Blend together two ounces vodka, a can of ginger beer, juice of half a lime and a few handfuls of ice to make this super yummy treat! Garnish with a lime slice and a bit of fresh mint. 

Garden Mule recipeAnd last, but not least, the Garden Party Mule. I have talked before about the importance of scents with cocktails. The rosemary and cucumber do add a mild flavor to the drink, but even more so, they create an awesome fresh scent that captures all the senses as you enjoy your drink. Bonus points for edible flowers. It really looks like a garden party in there, right?! 

Garden Mule recipe Garden Party Mule, serves one. 

2 ounces Hangar 1 Straight Vodka
ginger beer
lime
rosemary
mint
cucumber
edible flowers (optional)

First, make a traditional Moscow Mule by combining two ounces vodka with ginger beer on ice. Squeeze juice of half a lime. Next, add fresh herbal elements for garnish, taste and scent! 

3 twists on the Moscow Mule via A Beautiful Mess There are infinite flavor combinations that you can try! If you love citrus, make a Blood Orange Mule. If you like berries, make a Mixed Berry Mule. Use whatever you have on hand to add fresh flavors to your simple cocktails this summer! xx. Elsie 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

Things we learned during our Whole 30Hey, friends! Recently I completed two Whole 30 challenges in a row. My husband got interested during my first thirty days and decided to join me on the second 30. I learned so much during those two months. It was full of ups and downs, highs and lows. 

Today I'm here to share ten things I learned during my Whole 30. Jeremy helped me write these. So really, it's from both of us! 

1. Cooking at home is not that hard

Before we started Whole 30, we ate out almost every single night. We sometimes made lunch and occasional dinners at home, but for the most part we went out for dinner to one of our 3-4 spots that we rotate through. I was definitely one of those people who thought they didn't have time to cook because, after a busy day of work, all I wanted to do was unwind and talk with Jeremy...not run to the grocery store and make a meal. 

I learned very quickly that eating out is not fun while doing Whole 30 (at least it wasn't for me). Eating at home, on the other hand, was simple. Making dinner could be done in 15 minutes and I liked almost all the foods I made. So we very quickly switched to preferring to eat at home for almost every meal. And I love my new addiction to eating at home. Obviously, it saves money, which is great, but it's also WAY healthier. Now that I'm aware of all the hidden sugars in foods, I love cooking at home because I know for sure what's what. 

2. Sugar is in everything. 

When I first started the challenge, I remember I was at the grocery store with my sister trying to buy a package of bacon. I looked at the back of every single package shocked that they all had sugar. Deli meat is the same way (and often has gluten too). There are so many normal things that you probably eat every day (that don't taste sweet) that have sugar as a main ingredient. Things like soup, sauces and salad dressings are very hard to find without any sugar. This was eye opening to me. 

3. Traveling without cheating is possible. 

OK, so I already told you above how much I love eating at home now and really prefer it over a restaurant whenever possible. But travel is a big part of my life and I was never going to find a thirty day period that didn't involve any travel. So I chose one that at least didn't have any vacations (all work trips and some travel involving our move). In the past I have always used travel as a "free pass" for food, indulging in sugary foods at the airport and in all the new cities I visit. But for these two months I traveled four times without cheating at all! 

Here's how I did it—First of all, I was always honest with friends about my situation. I tried to always warn people that I was doing Whole 30 but that they shouldn't worry about me because I knew what to order anywhere we would go. Getting that social aspect out of the way is huge! I always kept a few Lara bars and some roasted almonds in my purse in case I got super hungry. My favorite places to eat on the road are any breakfast place and any place that serves guacamole (because that was my favorite salad dressing). One last tip—if you feel super sad to be missing a "food moment" that feels special (travel can be full of those), just promise yourself that you will indulge in that food next time. Putting it off always helps me, rather than feeling like I'll never eat a donut again (wahhh!). 

4. This is a chance to kick other bad habits. 

Giving up sugar was the number one habit I was trying to kick during my Whole 30, but given how much it shook up my normal life, I felt like it was a good time to look at all my habits. Spending too much money eating out was a big one. Every time we do our budget, we vow to eat out less (but it's SO hard!). So this was the perfect opportunity to switch eating out to a special occasion thing like we always wanted to. If you have a personal goal, I highly recommend using your Whole 30 to multitask it and conquer two goals at once. 

5. Snacking is a powerful habit. 

Whole 30 encourages you to stop eating after dinner. This was difficult for me at first because Jeremy and I love having a night snack while watching a TV show. When he would show up at night with his little snack that I couldn't share, it was a bummer at first. It made me realize how powerful habits and routines of food can be. Drinking is the same way. I didn't think I could go that long without being able to have drinks with my friends because it's a big part of our social life, but routines make things feel more impossible than they really are. (#youcandoit)

After a few weeks I didn't mind the no snacks after dinner rule, and now, after several months, I prefer it. When you're at the beginning, remember that it won't always be that hard. You just have to develop a new routine! 

6. Healthy food makes you feel full. 

This is one of the best, most important things I learned. I talked a little bit about this in my fitness story, but I think that the reason Lose It didn't work for me (even though it did work for my husband and a lot of our family members) is because I wasn't using my calories on the right foods. So I was always hungry and that's not something you can live with long term. 

The super cool thing about eating super healthy foods (protein and vegetables) is that you never really have an issue with overeating them. You just get full. So even though I was doing one of the most challenging things I've ever done, I was full after almost every meal, which I think is important. 

If you don't believe me, just try to eat as much kale and salmon as you want and you'll see! It's pretty drastically different than pizza, which I could keep eating...forever. 

7. Unsweetened soda is awesome. 

I know some of you are like, "no way", but I'm serious. The La Croix addiction is real. And once you make that transition, the idea of a Coke will no longer be appealing. And when I think now that a Coke has basically the same calories as a donut, I can't believe I was drinking them so casually. 

Jeremy was into diet sodas. For the last few years he lost a lot of weight and got into fitness (yay!), and diet sodas became his go-to (boooo). I kept bugging him to try to quit them because of the artificial stuff and chemicals. And let's just say he was not open to it. 

But when I did my first Whole 30, he started drinking La Croix with me, and once he got used to it, it's now the only soda he will drink. We drink one every night and it's been a good replacement for wine and cocktails (now we only drink alcohol on the weekends—yay!).

Main point—try it for long enough to get used to it before ruling it out. It OBVIOUSLY does not taste as good as real soda at first, but after you adjust it's still really good. 

8. You have to push to keep trying new things! 

As with anything, it's easy to get settled into a boring routine. Jeremy has a pretty high tolerance for eating the same foods every day, and I do too, but then we get SUPER burned out on that food and can't even look at it for while. 

If you're thinking of doing Whole 30, try to challenge yourself to try at least two new recipes every week. Getting new items into your menu is really important for not hating everything. :) I promise. 

9. Homemade lattes are a thing! 

If you love coffee, this next part is important. A lot of places have coconut milk and/or almond milk lattes on their menu, but they're usually sweetened milks, meaning they have added sugar (some of them a LOT). Maybe you'll find a local place that has unsweetened nut milk, but you're not going to find that at a chain (soy milk is the same way). This is kind of a bummer because basically the only things you can order at Starbucks while on Whole 30 are an unsweetened black coffee or an unsweetened tea. 

So making lattes at home is a really good option (we make them at work too). Try making a homemade latte or cold brew coffee and adding cashew milk and a little bit of cinnamon. That's my favorite. 

I've gotten to where I enjoy black coffee now too, but for a more special treat, lattes are really delicious. 

10. Some foods aren't special. 

Since completing my challenge I haven't gone back to a totally normal diet and I'm not planning to. I basically just reintroduced the foods that are really special to me, that make the weekends fun. But I haven't had any bread whatsoever and I'm not really missing it. Maybe yours will be different, but one of the best things I learned during Whole 30 was which foods are special to me. For example, we now have "cheese night" every weekend where we make a cheese plate and I look forward to it all week. And breakfast sandwiches—I can live without those. I'm so happy to have found this balance! 

Want to read more? Here's my fitness story. :) xo. Elsie (& Jeremy too) 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. 

How to create mermaid wavesLove this hair! mermaid waves tutorial (click through for more)    I think of all the hair possibilities that are out there, my favorite hairstyle is a wavy, loose curl look. While I like that it feels soft and feminine, the curls are loose so it's not as dressy, and you can wear it with jeans and a t-shirt as well. It's like the perfect cross between beachy waves and the signature Victoria's Secret hairstyle, and it's probably what I get asked about most around town or online. The secret is that it's actually a really easy hairstyle to achieve (lucky you!). So you can totally recreate it yourself at home.

Love this hair! mermaid waves tutorial (click through for more)1. Start with your "best loose wave" hair. By that, I mean, whatever kind of hair works best for you to hold a loose curl. If I curl freshly washed hair that hasn't been straightened, I will get curls that hold the wave really well, but they are actually "too curly" for this look. You want loose waves, not ringlets. So I usually do this style the day after I wash my hair so it won't hold the curl as tightly.

2. Pull up in a bun or clip the top 2/3 of your hair so just the bottom section remains. Hold a 1" curling iron downwards and wrap a 1-2" section of your hair around the barrel starting near the handle and wrapping down towards the end of the curling iron. Curling wands are actually best for this since we don't use the clip on the curling iron, but you can use an iron and just hold the clip open while you curl. Wrapping your hair this way instead of clamping the curling iron on the end of your hair and rolling up will give you a totally different result and more of a wave throughout than a ringlet at the bottom. 

3. Repeat the process through the bottom section of your hair.

4. Pull down the next 1/3 of your hair and curl that section the same way, and then finish with the top 1/3. When curling the top section, start your curl around 6" from the top of your part so it's not curled all the way to the root.

5. Lightly tease under your top section of hair to add a little volume.

6. Finish your look by spraying some spray wax or texturizing hair spray on the tips of your fingers and run your fingers lightly through the roots and tips of your waves to give a more textured piecey look.

Mermaid waves
If your hair takes the curl "too well", try sleeping on it for a night and that should loosen out the waves a bit for a tousled look in the morning. You may even want to try this look on hair that's clean and again on hair that's a little dirty to see which gives you a better loose wave, but once you get the hang of curling your hair like this (if you haven't already), I think you'll love it too! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

DIY Photo Notepads Did you know that making your own tear-off notepads is really (and I mean REALLY) easy? It's true! You can use your own photos, original artwork and other design elements to create something really unique to jazz up your desk area. Or you can gift your DIY notepads to friends. 

And yes, I still use phrases like "jazz up." What can I say? I've just always had a way with words. :)

DIY Photo Notepads (tear off edges)To create my notepads, I worked with Canon USA and used my PIXMA MG7520 photo printer to create my own little notepads. For this project I loved the convenience of being able to print as many pages as I needed to create my notepads. I printed on plain copy paper so these would be easy to bind and write on, but I still wanted to use our photo printer to get the best quality I could. I didn't want any of those weird stripes that more traditional office printers make. Just be sure you're adjusting your paper type settings to plain paper when you print. 

How to make a notepad Supplies:
-Canon PIXMA MG7520 printer
-plain copy paper (I used 5-6 sheets per notepad)
-thin cardboard for the back of the notepads (recycle a cereal box for this!)
-book binding glue (I used PVA)
-clips or small clamps to hold the pages together as they dry

I have heard that other glues will also work for this project (like rubber cement) although I've found that PVA is the best quality for book binding projects. You need very little glue to hold these together, so this project is super budget friendly.

How to make a notepad    Step One: Create the pages for your notepad. I chose to make my entire note page a photo, so I took down the opacity by about 50% so it would be easy to write over the images (for to-do lists or notes). You can do this in Photoshop or even Microsoft Word. Once I decided on a size for my notepad, I tried to fit as many pages onto one sheet of paper before printing. 

You could also add text to your notepads. I made one of mine say "Take Note" and one say "To-Do List" at the top. Go nuts and design some stationary that you want to use.

Canon Pixma printerHow to make a notepadStep Two: Print and cut out your pages. Try to cut them as perfectly as you can so your notepad will fit together easily.

How to make a notepad  Step Three: Cut out a cardboard back for each notepad. Assemble the notepads so the top edge is flush and then hold them together with clips or small clamps. Use a thin layer of glue on the edge. The goal here is to make sure some glue touches every page and the cardboard back. Allow to fully dry (3-4 hours) before using.

Best glues to make your own DIY notepadNow you're ready to take notes and tear off the pages. Enjoy your new notepads! xo. Emma

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

Tools to trackWe are so very proud of how our blog has grown over the years—we feel so lucky! We get to connect with about 1.5 million people from all over the world every month. That's just crazy! From time to time people will ask us about blogging: how to grow their blog, how to get started, etc. We tried to put everything that we've learned over the past 8+ years into our course, Blog Life, which is on sale (get $10 off!) until Saturday. Just FYI. 

But I also thought it would be beneficial to put together some of our top posts on blogging. We'd also LOVE to hear your questions in the comments. First let's start with free tools for tracking your blog's performance

Photography gearOur blog wouldn't be where it is today if it weren't for the power of photography. Click here to see what gear we have and use on a weekly basis. 

How we plan blog postsEver wonder how we plan all our posts? Here's our process.

Ways to self promoteWe shared a bunch of ideas on ways to self-promote without being (too) annoying.

Start your blog with a bangFor all you who are just starting out, read our tips for how to start your blog with a bang!

Sponsored postsTrey wrote about how to best evaluate sponsored post opportunities while still staying true to your brand. 

Young industriesWe consider blogging a new and emerging industry. It's felt like the wild west for some time, but we have some thoughts on how this young industry seems to be shaping up (and how we can shape it). 

Blog brainstormingEver feel like you just don't have any ideas? Yeah, us too sometimes. Here's a few tips for brainstorming success

Distressed wood backdropsIf you photograph DIY steps, projects or food, you could likely benefit from making a few photo backdrops to enhance your images. Check out how to make your own distressed wood backdrop.

Tips for laying out blog postsNeed some tips on how to layout a striking blog post? Check here

On working from homeWe've worked from a storefront, a rented loft, a studio house, the car and sometimes even on vacation (I know—but we had too). But, the place we've worked most often is from home. If you are a full time blogger or other work-from-home individual, then you know that working from home can have its own unique challenges. Read our thoughts on the subject here.

Blog planning marker boardWant to take a peek into our blog planning organization? Look no further.

If you want to learn more about blogging, don't forget to check out our course: Blog Life. And let us know what questions you have about blogging in the comments—we just might write about them sometime. :) xo. Emma + Elsie 

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