How to build a photo ledgeToday I am excited to share a simple and very useful DIY with you! 

We all have these walls in our homes that we don't know what to do with, right?  In Jeremy's studio there was one such wall above this small side table. Originally I was planning one large print for this space, but since there is already a big photo in another part of the room, it just didn't feel right. The idea of photo ledges appealed to me because the art could be changed from season to season, and what's even better is it doesn't ALL have to be art. For these photos, I threw a few favorite records up there, but I think some framed sheet music or other personal mementos would also be nice. 

And of course, we printed some special photos as well! 

Canon PrinterThis post is part of our long-running work with the amazing folks at Canon USA, and I used my personal favorite printer, the Canon PIXMA iP8720 Crafting Printer for the photos you see up there. I love having the large format to print multiple photos on a page. It gives me a little more freedom with the sizing. 

Photo ledge DIY! (click through for tutorial)Supplies:
- 2.5" x .75" board
- 1" x .75" board
- 1.5" x .5" board (sometimes these only come about 3' long, so you may have to use two if making a long ledge)
- jigsaw, chop saw, or have the nice people at the lumber store cut it to size for you!
- 1" nails
- 1.25" wood screws
- wood glue
- small clamps
- drill
- keyhole hanger
- paint
Canon PIXMA iP8720 Crafting Printer

Photo ledge DIY! (click through for tutorial)Measure how long you want your ledge to be and cut all three of your board sizes to that exact length. To create the back and bottom of your photo ledge, glue and clamp the side of the 1" x .75" board to the edge of the 2.5" x .75"  board. Allow the glue to set a few minutes. 

Photo ledge DIY! (click through for tutorial)  Use some wood screws to securely attach the smaller board to the larger one through the back of the larger board. This back side is also the back side of your ledge, so the screw heads won't show when done.

Photo ledge DIY! (click through for tutorial)  Use more glue and clamps to clamp the edge of the 1.5" x .5" board onto the other open side of the 1" x .75" board. Allow the glue to set for a few minutes.

Photo ledge DIY! (click through for tutorial)  Once the glue is set, remove the clamps and drive a few small nails into the edge of the board to keep the front board secure.

Photo ledge DIY! (click through for tutorial)  Attach some keyhole hangers onto the back of your ledge for hanging, and paint or stain your boards whatever color you choose. Now you're ready to hang and add your photos!

How to build a photo ledge How to build a photo ledge How to build a photo ledge I love how it turned out! This is a project that can be done in a day, fit to the exact size of YOUR space, and makes a huge impact in the room on a small budget. 

xx! Elsie 

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

Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess 2016In a few months we'll celebrate ten years since the first post here on A Beautiful Mess. And while there is so much to celebrate, I'm feeling the need to slow down and ponder all that's happened with our small company. It's been a miracle in so many ways. Ten years ago no one was trying to be a "full-time blogger". It was a different world, and one that I often miss. People blogged solely to share, solely for fun. In those days, most of the blogs I followed shared their daily lives and a few just shared random things they found beautiful, like decor and design. 

Fast forward ten years and so much has changed. There is incredible opportunity in the blog world, both  for bloggers and for brands. We've created our own little industry and I'm so proud of that. With that said, I do feel nostalgic for the beginnings of our own journey. So for the next few months, I plan to set aside time for a lot of reflection. Entering a new decade in blogging is something I never considered. I had no idea we'd do this for so long. And now there's no end in sight. So I feel like it's time to try to envision what these next ten years could be, or at least what we dream them to be! Because, really, it's up to us to decide. 

Keep scrolling to hear Emma's thoughts. ;) 

Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess 2016 Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess 2016  Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess 2016  Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess 2016  Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess 2016  Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess 2016  Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess 2016  Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess 2016  Elsie's Wearing: Jacket/Madewell, Necklace/Madewell, Dress/(similar), Purse/Ruche, Bossy Pin/Moorea Seal, Clogs/Swedish Hasbeens (probably my favorite pair of all time!!) 

Take it away, sister!! 

Oui Fresh Good Vibes tank Pins! Red purse white sandalsMy, my, how the time has gone by so fast! There are a few things, like you, Elsie, that I miss from the good old days of blogging. :) I guess the number one thing I miss would be the low stakes. It wasn't an industry or a "job" at first, and there were a lot less people reading, so there wasn't as much pressure as there is now. And low pressure situations tend to be more fun, or at least less stressful. (Obviously) I also think the Internet and social media moves so fast that when you think about having to be creative and keeping up with all of that forever, it can feel overwhelming. Sometimes I think I was built for a slower-paced world than the one we live in right now. 

But my goodness I would be remiss if I didn't point out all the truly amazing things that blogging has given me. I have a career I LOVE where I get to make things and connect with people from all over the world. I get to own a small business, write books, travel, take photos, cook stuff, make things, work from home, we got to donate a house once (!!!!), and the list could go on! Sometimes it feels like I have to give so much to keep up with blogging, but I've also received so much in return. It has been a crazy wild ride so far, and I'm excited to see what the next ten years holds for us – no doubt it will be full of changes and new challenges. 

I personally LOVE to constantly (maybe too much at times?) reevaluate and try to big picture plan – so glad I'll be coming to Nashville at the end of this month to shoot cookbook photos, and we can also talk about blogging for, like, EVER while we're together, sis. Sounds like a good ol' time to me. :)

Emma Chapman Emma of A Beautiful Mess Good Vibes tank Red purseEmma's Wearing: Shirt and Sunnies/Oui Fresh (coming so soon!), Jeans and Jacket/Levi's, Shoes c/o Seychelles from Threadsence, Purse c/o Modcloth, Flare pins: The Uncommon Place, Georgia Perry, Greenwich Letterpress, Hello Apparel, The Golden Girl Rum Club.

Credits // Emma's Photography: Janae Hardy, Elsie's Photography: Amber Ulmer. 

Festival ready messy knotted ponytail (click-through for the full tutorial) Coachella might be over but Faux-chella can live on forever in your heart (and on your head in a festival-inspired hairdo)! To me, festival hair is all about messy but adventurous style, and this knotted ponytail has both of those categories covered and should help keep you cool while you spend all day dancing outside – even if you’re only dancing around in your backyard!Festival ready messy knotted ponytail (click-through for the full tutorial)Step One: Take two sections of hair from either side of your face. Tie them in a knot.

Step Two: Take the two strands of your knot, wrap them around the rest of your hair, and tie them together towards the nape of your neck with a small elastic.

Step Three: Repeat the previous step; take two sections of hair from either side of your "ponytail" and tie them in a knot.

Step Four: Again, pull the sides around the rest of your hair (sometimes easier if you turn your head upside down and let all of the other hair fall forward) and secure with an elastic.

Step Five: Repeat another time, and then start carefully pulling at your ponytail between each knot to add volume.

Step Six: Add a few more knots if your hair is longer, or just pull your ponytail a bit more into a messier, fuller look.

Festival ready knotted ponytail (click-through for the full tutorial) Festival ready knotted ponytail (click-through for the full tutorial)  That’s it! Easy, right? I love how this style looks as it gets messier and messier, perfect for those warmer days when you’re outside all day having a good time and too busy to worry about “maintaining” your look! I’m not going to any musical festivals this summer, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be rocking my faux-chella look and dancing outside on the weekends! Cheers, Rebecca.

Credits//Author and Photography: Rebecca Stice. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Presets for Lightroom. 

Spiced black rice pudding (via have been on a pretty serious whole-grain journey for the past year or so. In general I like the idea of living a very curious life. I want to always try new things, learn new things, and I also think staying curious keeps me humble (because it's very hard to be a know-it-all and curious at the same time). What does this have to do with whole grains? Well, I guess my point is that I've been trying lots of new things. And there are SO many different whole-grain options out there and seemingly endless ways to prepare them. It's a very delicious way to apply my "stay curious" motto to life. :) 

One ingredient I've completely fallen for: black rice (sometimes called forbidden rice). You might remember me dishing up some butter tempeh over this stuff a few months ago. 

Spiced black rice pudding (via  There are lots of ways to enjoy black rice. We mostly use it in savory meals at our house. We are BIG into stir fry, as it's about the quickest meal you can make with so many ways to change it up that you don't have to feel like you're eating the same thing all the time. 

But here's a sweeter option – black rice pudding. If you like rice pudding, you're probably going to love this whole-grain variation. It's still got all the creaminess of rice pudding with some added nutrition. I used coconut milk and added some chai spices to this recipe, making this a great little treat option if you're looking for something dairy-free and maybe a little lighter (for a treat). 

Black riceChai Spiced Black Rice Pudding, makes 2-3 servings

3/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup black rice
pinch of salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
big pinch of black pepper
coconut flakes and chopped nuts for serving

In a small to medium sized pot, combine the coconut milk, water, and black rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 42-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. You don't have to keep a constant eye on this, but you do want to stir every now and again so the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of your pot.

IngredientsAfter 42 to 45 minutes, much of the moisture will have absorbed into the rice, so it should look like rice pudding. Taste a few grains and make sure they are cooked through. If not, add another tablespoon or two of water and continue to cook. 

Stir in the sugar and spices. The spice measurements I've included here will result in a lightly spiced rice pudding. I tried one batch where I doubled the spice ingredients (as listed above), and I thought it was still really good but maybe a little too spicy for some palates, so I've reduced it here. The good news is you can taste it at this point and add more spices if you like. :)

And if you're not feeling the chai spice, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the mix at the start of cooking. Also, you can change the amount of sugar if you like. For me, the 1/4 cup was a good amount to make this feel like a treat but not be overly sweet. You could substitute with coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup, or even reduce or increase the amount based on what you like. I haven't tried all of these variations myself, but I don't think they would affect the rice pudding texture much, mainly just the sweetness level. 

Spiced black rice pudding (via Top with coconut flakes and chopped nuts, or even some fresh fruit. If you want even more creaminess, you could drizzle some more coconut milk or cream into the bowl just as you serve it. Like I said, endless options, but I highly recommend you try black rice in some capacity soon – it's so good! xx. Emma

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

Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler (click through for recipe     Summer drinks have a totally different vibe than winter drinks for a good reason. Gone are the thick, warm fare of hot chocolate and egg nog, and in its place we want fresh flavors served as cold as possible. I love the flavor of fresh fruit and herbs together, and I like to have little pots of herbs on my back porch in warm weather so I can step out and get mint, rosemary, or cilantro any time I want. I've been really into grapefruits for the first time in my life lately, so I thought I'd combine the slightly tart citrus flavor with one of my favorite herbs for a pretty sparkling summertime cocktail.

Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler (click through for recipe  Rosemary Simple Syrup, makes 1/2 cup

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 sprigs of rosemary

Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler, serves one

1 oz gin
2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
2 teaspoons rosemary simple syrup 
seltzer water
rosemary and grapefruit peel to garnish

Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler (click through for recipe)To make the simple syrup, add the sugar and water into a small pot and warm over medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Add in the rosemary sprigs and let it simmer on medium/low heat for five minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the mixture to sit for another 10 minutes before straining out the rosemary.

Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler (click through for recipe For the drink, squeeze some fresh grapefruits and add 2 oz of juice to a cocktail glass with ice. Add 1 oz gin and 2 tablespoons of the rosemary syrup to the glass and stir.

Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler (click through for recipe   Top off with seltzer water. To make it look a little fancy, you can add a rosemary sprig and use a vegetable peeler to peel some of the grapefruit rind for a garnish.

Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler (click through for recipe      Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler (click through for recipe      This is a little tart, a little sweet, a little bubbly, and a whole lot of refreshing. Totally the perfect drink for a summer porch party kind of night. And, if you also enjoy having a little container garden on your back porch, you can easily grow a pot of rosemary to enjoy this drink all summer long! xo. Laura

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


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