Kale cobb saladStill on my salad kick, as you can see. Here's the deal, I'm going on a short vacation next month and I decided that until then, I'm working on a few goals which pretty much include: eat more salad, eat less (white) bread and refined sugar, and don't bite my nails. Yes, it's the sad truth: I'm nearly thirty years old and I still bite my nails. There have been periods when I quit before (one time I went three months!). But then I have a moment of weakness, I bite them all off, and then my nails look terrible for at least two weeks. It's SO frustrating. 

My favorite chopped saladI digress. This post isn't about nail biting (at least not entirely). It's about a salad I'm obsessed with. I call this a Cobb salad, but it's a pretty loose interpretation of one. So if you feel like that's just blasphemy, then feel free to rename this in your mind as a kale-chopped-salad or whatever you like. Really you could add all sorts of ingredients on top of kale and spinach to make a version with whatever you have (just be sure to get some protein on there!). 

What I really love about this salad isn't necessarily the salad itself, but rather the dressing. Oh yes, that isn't a typo in the title. I'm using facon and I'm not sorry! I really don't eat tons of "fake meat", but when I do, I must admit that facon is one of my favorites. But I have a confession to make about that. Read on and you'll see.

Healthy and creative salad ideasKale Cobb Salad, serves 2.

3-4 oz. spinach
3-4 oz. kale
2-3 hard boiled eggs
6 oz. raspberries
15 oz. (canned) black beans
2 ripe avocados
2 oz. feta
2 strips facon
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 small shallot
1/3 cup olive oil
salt + pepper

First, cook the hard boiled eggs and allow to cool before use (you can easily do this ahead or make all the hard boiled eggs you need for the week at once).

Remove the thick veins from the kale and chop into small pieces. Toss with the spinach. Drain and rinse the beans. Assemble salad. 

The truth about faconSo here's my confession about facon: I will only eat it if chopped up into facon bits first. I know, sort of weird. But I just think it sort of looks like... well... a dog toy. It tastes good, but it looks sort of hilarious. However, if you chop it up into bits, then no one will be the wiser. :)

To make the dressing, cook the facon in a little oil over medium heat until crispy on both sides. Chop into small bits. Also finely chop the shallot. In a bowl combine the vinegar, facon and shallot. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Spring cobb saladDrizzle the dressing over the salad and devour while the dressing is still a little warm—or at least that's how I like it. Could be that I'm just impatient to eat though. :) Happy salad days! xo. Emma

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

So you want to paint your table, huh?On our holiday break (right after Christmas) I got the itch to change up our space. Isn't that how is always goes? When you're supposed to be relaxing, project inspiration sneaks in! 

So I painted our dining room table (see how it looked before here) with three coats of oil-based paint. I'm in love with the result! I also loved it before, but after almost three years of daily use, it was ready for either a fresh staining or a coat of paint, and I felt like the room could use a little more white now that we have the wood walls. So I just went for it! 

So you want to paint your table, huh? Here are five quick tips for painting a table (or other heavily used furniture): 

1. Choose oil-based paint.

Both Laura and I have had an experience where we asked for a recommendation for what type of paint to use on a table and chairs at a home improvement store, and the person working there recommended using latex. Both projects were epic fails! 

Do not use latex paint for furniture that needs to be wiped down often or will be heavily used. Laura's table (painted with latex) is very hard to clean and leaves wipe marks each time she wipes it down. The chairs I painted with latex started scuffing and rubbing off immediately. 

This is the exact paint I used for this, my yellow chairs, my white piano and my bar cart. 

Rust-oleum Gloss WhiteI also love Rust-oleum brand spray paint. 

Tips—Be aware that oil-based paint will take longer to dry and SMELLS. Try to open the windows if you are painting indoors. You can't wash your brush out in your sink like with latex paint, so you'll either need paint thinner or a throwaway brush for this project. 

The only downside to oil-based paint is that you can't usually get the colors mixed, so you have to choose from what they have available (which is why all the projects listed above are white, yellow, and olive green). 

2. Take your time. 

Be sure you choose a time for this project when you can let your paint dry between coats and cure for at least a couple days before you start using your furniture again. Oil-based paint dries slowly, so these are not good one-day projects. i.e. Don't try this the night before a big party or event you are hosting! 

3. Choose glossy finish. 

In my experience the glossy finish looks the best when completed. That's what I used for this table and I really like it. Cleans up like a dream too! 

4. Don't be afraid of pattern. 

Just because you can't get this oil-based paint in a huge variety of colors doesn't mean you can't try patterns. Use black and white to create something customized for your style! 

5. Keep a touch up can at home. 

Even though this paint is super durable, any furniture that is used daily will eventually get chips or scratches. I always keep a touch up can hidden away in our laundry room for this reason, making it easy to keep pieces looking fresh for longer! 

So you want to paint your table, huh?  So you want to paint your table, huh?   So you want to paint your table, huh?    I hope this was helpful! If you're thinking of painting a piece of furniture in your home, be sure to pin this post so you can refer back to it! 

I love my painted table! It really brightened up our dining space. Thanks so much for reading! xx- Elsie 

Credits// Author: Elsie Larson, Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

Have to try this! Glitter sunglasses DIY (click through for tutorial)

I love this part of spring when you start to switch your brain into warmer styles and fashion—sundresses, shorts, sandals, and of course, sunglasses! While I don't quite have the manufacturing technique down to make my own pair of sunnies from scratch, I thought it would be fun to team up with our wonderful friends at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores to take an existing pair and give them a glam summer makeover by encrusting them in glitter. It was easier than I thought it would be to create the look, and I love the shimmery results!

Have to try this! Glitter sunglasses DIY (click through for tutorial)
Supplies:
-sunglasses that have removable lenses* (I used these and these) + eyeglass screwdriver
-Mod Podge
-Triple Thick Glaze
-fine loose glitter
-brushes
-super glue
-fine grade sandpaper

*NOTE: You could also try this with sunglasses that don't have removable lenses and use painter's tape to protect the lenses instead, but I found that after several coats of the glitter and glues, it was really difficult to remove the tape with a clean line result. So, try it if you like, but I think the removable lens route gives the finished product a much cleaner look. 

Have to try this! Glitter sunglasses DIY (click through for tutorial)First you'll want to remove your lenses from the frames. You can tell if sunglasses have removable lenses or not if there are little screws on the inside of the glasses that are holding the lenses in place. Use an eyeglass screwdriver to remove the screws and the lenses. Don't worry about saving the screws. The glitter and glues cover over the tiny holes, so it's actually easier to just glue the lenses back into the slots when you're done.

If you bought sunnies with a matte material for the frames (not shiny or a bit textured or rough feeling), then you won't need to use the fine sandpaper. But if your frames are a really slick or glossy plastic, I would suggest a quick run over the frame with the sandpaper to give the Mod Podge a better surface to stick to (just make sure to wipe off any sanding dust when done).

Have to try this! Glitter sunglasses DIY (click through for tutorial)Take your lensless frames and use a brush to cover the middle, front, and back with a thin even coat of Mod Podge. Don't worry about the sides yet, we'll get to those later. Quickly pour fine glitter over the glue until it's evenly covered. You'll want to work fast on this step because the glue needs to be as wet as possible so that the maximum amount of glitter will stick. Shake off the excess glitter and allow the Mod Podge to dry. I would suggest pouring the glitter over a box or other container so you can save the glitter if you like, or at least keep it from going all over your house. Fine, loose glitter can haunt your house forever if you don't keep it contained.

Once the glue is dry, repeat the steps with a second coat of Mod Podge and glitter and allow that coat to fully dry as well.

Have to try this! Glitter sunglasses DIY (click through for tutorial)When the Mod Podge has set, use a brush to add a coat of Triple Thick Glaze. The glaze will seal in the glitter so you don't end up with fine glitter specks in your hair for weeks, and it will also help even out the surface a bit so it doesn't feel as rough against your skin. Allow the glaze to fully dry for 24 hours. Then repeat the process of glittering and glazing the two side ear pieces the next day. Allow the sides to dry for another 24 hours once you glaze them before adding the frames back in.

The reason for doing the sunnies in two parts is so that you always have the other part of the sunglasses to hold on to while you are painting the glue or sprinkling glitter on the other half. And trust me on letting the glaze cure for 24 hours before handling the frames. You'll end up with smudged glitter if you don't.

Once your glaze has cured, use a precision tip super glue to put some glue into the eyeglasses slot where the lenses fit in (don't go overboard or the glue will overflow out onto your lenses). Before you glue them in permanently though, do a test run without the glue to make sure they still fit properly after all those layers have been applied. If your lens channel got a little clogged with glue or glitter, use a small tip like an X-Acto knife or the flat-head end of your eyeglasses screwdriver to scrape out the channel until they fit again. Once your glue has set, you're ready to share your new and improved sunnies with the world!

Have to try this! Glitter sunglasses DIY (click through for tutorial)      TestHow fun is that? I can't think of anything better for getting in the warm weather mood than a pair of glittered sunnies. Perfect for beach trips, outdoor parties, or, who am I kidding, just sitting around in my backyard reading magazines and eating popsicles. Think you'll add some sparkle to your sunnies as well? xo. Laura

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

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Baked (Vegetarian) Sloppy Joes (via abeautifulmess.com)   There are certain foods that I will probably always love because they were childhood staples, like: hot dogs, sloppy joes, and fudgsicles. Probably quite a few other things too, but I just listed the first three that came to mind. Now we really didn't eat sloppy joes all that often at home. It was more of a school cafeteria food for me. 

Baked (Vegetarian) Sloppy Joes (via abeautifulmess.com)These are a baked vegetarian version. I know, I'm really breaking all the sloppy-joe-rules here, aren't I? But this is how I like it. Plus, this version features one of my favorite party tricks for making a bunch of slider-sized sandwiches at once. These are seriously easy (and fast) to throw together.

How to make vegetarian sloppy joes Baked (Vegetarian) Sloppy Joes, serves 6-8 with a side.

8 oz. tempeh
1 bell pepper
1 small onion (I used a shallot because I had some on hand)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt + pepper
12 Hawaiian sweet rolls (or other small rolls you prefer)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

Finely chop the onion and bell pepper. Use a cheese grater to grate the tempeh so it resembles ground beef (sort of, similar size anyway).

Sauté the onion in a little olive oil over medium/low heat until it begins to caramelize (turn light brown and smell sweet). Toss in the bell pepper and continue to cook until it begins to soften.

How to make vegetarian sloppy joesWhile all that cooks, in a small mixing bowl combine the ketchup, tomato paste, cayenne, cumin, and a generous sprinkle of salt + pepper. Stir to combine. Thin the mixture so it flows easily, but is still quite thick, with some water.

Now in the pot with the onions and peppers, add the grated tempeh and the ketchup mixture. Stir so everything gets coated in the sauce well.

Baked (Vegetarian) Sloppy Joes (via abeautifulmess.com) Remove the rolls from the package and slice through the centers (you can do this while all the rolls are still connected). On an oven sheet place the bottom half of the rolls. Spread the sloppy joe batter in an even layer. Place the top half of the rolls on top. 

Melt a little butter in a small bowl. Whisk in the brown sugar. Use a kitchen brush to spread this over the tops of the rolls. Top with sesame seeds if using. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes for a crowd!If you like, you could also add some thin sliced or grated cheese to the top of the sloppy joes before baking. Up to you. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

Make a whimsical pair of pom pom striped curtains for surprisingly little money.Curtains are a great finishing touch for any room, but I often have a difficult time settling on the perfect pair for the windows in our home. I'm in the midst of decorating my daughter, Lucy's "big girl room," and wanted something fun and fresh for her windows, but nothing too bold or overwhelming. I had been eyeing pom pom trimmed curtains, but thought I'd try my own spin on the project with stripes of pom poms across the top of a pair of plain white curtain panels. When using existing curtains, it's a really simple project that adds a subtle yet special touch to a window.

Make a whimsical pair of pom pom striped curtains for surprisingly little money.Supplies:
-pair of long curtains (mine are from Ikea, also available on Amazon)
-thread to match curtains
-pom pom trim (here is my exact trim)
-fabric scissors
-straight pins
-tape measure
-iron and ironing board
-sewing machine

Cost of materials: $63

The key to this project being a money-saver was finding inexpensive pom pom yardage and a cheap pair of long curtains (that would be shortened during the pleating process). After thoroughly searching the entire world wide web and local stores, I found a really economical pom pom supplier on Etsy. I only needed 16 yards, but because the trim is sold in 5 yard increments, I purchased 20 yards for $22 plus $16 for shipping. I found long linen-like white curtains at Ikea for $25 (on Amazon here), which put the total for these two pom pom curtain panels at $63. Not too shabby, eh?

Make a whimsical pair of pom pom striped curtains for surprisingly little money.Note: It's important to use curtains that are a few inches longer than your desired finish length. The extra amount you need will depend on the number of stripes you make as well as the size of your pleats.

Make a whimsical pair of pom pom striped curtains for surprisingly little money.Step One: I made a 3/4" pleat right below the top hem of my curtain panel, then ironed it flat.

Step Two: Pin the pom pom trim into the pleat so that only the balls and not the banding is showing below the pleat.

Make a whimsical pair of pom pom striped curtains for surprisingly little money.Step Three: Stitch near the bottom of the pleat, making sure your line of stitching is right where the banding of your pom pom trim is underneath the pleat.

You can use a wider stitch for this—it'll go faster. There won't be strain on the pleats, so you don't have to worry as much about strength.

Make a whimsical pair of pom pom striped curtains for surprisingly little money.Step Four: Measure out a row three inches from the bottom of your previous pleat. I marked my row along the width of the curtain with straight pins.

Step Five: Iron another 3/4" pleat along the row you just marked with straight pins. You can see above that I kept the pleat 3/4" lower than the line of pins. You can do yours however you please, just make sure each pleat is parallel to the one above it.

Repeat Steps 2-5. After ironing the pleat, pin and stitch the pom pom trim inside of it the same way you did with the first row. Repeat this as many times as you want. I personally found 5 pleats on each panel to be just the right amount without going overboard.

Make a whimsical pair of pom pom striped curtains for surprisingly little money.Step Six: When it comes time to work on your second panel, Be sure to line up the panels beside each other before ironing your pleats to make sure your rows are matching up perfectly.

Step Seven: After all of the pleats and pom poms are sewn in place, flip the curtain over and stitch along the loose top of the pleat on the reverse side of the curtain.

After the curtains are finished, hang them to see what the length is like. If you need to take some length off the bottom, and you've used the same simple-hemmed Ikea curtains as I did, all you need to do is pin them to the length you want, iron the hem flat, and stitch it in place.

Make a whimsical pair of pom pom striped curtains for surprisingly little money.Originally I had intended to make these curtains striped all the way to the bottom, but after thinking it through, I thought that would be a bit much. I just wanted a subtle touch of whimsy—nothing too crazy here! I think if you selected a lighter and more subtle color for the pom pom stripes on your white curtains, it could be a fun look to go all the way to the bottom. You'll just have to buy curtains long enough to take up the length that much for pleating, and be prepared for lots of ironing! In the end, you may also decide that simpler is better.

Make a whimsical pair of pom pom striped curtains for surprisingly little money.Make a whimsical pair of pom pom striped curtains for surprisingly little money.I love how the curtains turned out—a little bit Moroccan meets 1970s vintage, though still modern enough for my taste. This would be a fun look for simple cafe curtains in a kitchen too. Do you think you'll give it a try? -Mandi

P.S. Want to up your sewing skills? Check out our new e-Course Sew with Us!

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

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