Enamel pin shopping guideLinks: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. <--- Ugh! So many fun choices! 

Hey, friends! I recently became a little obsessed with collecting enamel pins. You can see a few that I posted on my Instagram here. So I had a LOT of fun creating this little shopping guide for you. If you're looking to up your #pingame, your moment has arrived. Let's go shopping! :)

You didn't think I was going to write this whole blog post without buying at least a few, did you? Haha! Hope your week is lovely! xx- Elsie 

How to prepare tofu (3 ways!)I don't think I tried tofu until I was 20 or 21 years old. Right around the time I became a (mostly) vegetarian. At first I had NO idea what to do with that wet, white block of "food". It might has well have been that freeze-dried astronaut food you can randomly find at toy stores sometimes. It just seemed...foreign to me. I did not grow up eating tofu, and until I had it in a few Thai dishes at restaurants, I didn't realize that it could actually be really delicious. 

So, this post goes out to 21-year-old Emma. To her (young me) I want to say: life's gonna be OK. Just chill out. And that guy that just broke your heart, he's gonna ask you to marry him in about six years. Just work on yourself and have some fun. Oh—and also, Emma, here's how to cook tofu. You're gonna need to know this.

How to prepare tofuI almost always use firm or extra firm tofu when I plan to bake or cook it. It just holds its shape better under pressure and heat. First I drain the tofu from the liquid it's packed in and place it on a plate lined with paper towels. More paper towels go on top and then another plate and a can or jar or something with a little heft. The goal is the squeeze out excess liquid so all that liquid doesn't come oozing out once we start cooking, ruining the crispy texture we're going for. 

I usually let tofu drain like this for 8-10 minutes. 

How to bake tofuWhether I plan to bake or pan fry the tofu, my next step is to cut the block in half lengthwise and then cut into small cubes or triangles. I then gently toss the tofu in 2 teaspoons of either arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Either one works well here. 

The 2 teaspoons of powder here is for a 12-13 oz package of tofu. If you are cooking more, feel free to adjust this.

How to pan fry tofuPan frying produces my favorite texture. You'll get crispy exteriors with still soft insides. I pan fry in a tablespoon or two of oil (usually olive oil) for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Just make sure not to let the tofu stick to the pan and also rotate so that every side, or almost every side, gets cooked.

Once done, move to a bed of paper towels to remove excess oil.

How to bake tofu The method I probably use the most often is baking tofu. Why? It's pretty hands-off, unlike pan frying, so you can get a nice stir fry or curry going to add the tofu to. It also uses no oil, so it's a bit lighter as well. But it takes quite a bit longer. And there's all the pros and cons I can think of. :)

After tossing the tofu in the arrowroot or cornstarch, place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Bake at 400°F for 35-40 minutes, rotating the tofu every 12-15 minutes or so. 

All of these methods are best consumed the day they are made (within the first few hours really), but this one holds up the best over time. So any baked tofu you don't eat can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and added to salads or other dinners that week. It won't be quite as crispy as the day you baked it, but it's still pretty close.

How to marinate tofuThe third method is to marinate the tofu before baking. There are probably hundreds of different marinades you can make here, but the one I use most often is simply: juice from one orange, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Whisk together. Once the tofu is drained and cut, place it in a small baking dish (like a pie pan) and pour the marinade over the top. Let that soak for at least an hour, rotating once. Or you can cover and store in the refrigerator during the day while you're at work, or overnight. Then bake in the marinade pan at 400°F for 30-40 minutes. Halfway through spoon the marinade back over the tops of the tofu. 

Marinaded and baked tofu has the softest texture of these three methods but the most flavor. Yum! xo. Emma

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

Customize your closet doors with trim-so pretty! (click through for tutorial)      So, our new bedroom has a bit of a problem. It's a fine room. It's just, well, boring. It doesn't have giant picturesque windows or beams in the ceiling or a fireplace or well, much of anything that can give a room some personality. It's kind of just four walls and a few small windows that are weirdly high in the style of a midcentury modern house. That being said, I've made it my mission to add things into the room that give it some more personality, and I thought that customizing the double closet doors would be a great way to do that. I love all the trimmed closets and doors in Parisian apartments that make the room look so chic and expensive. So I thought it would be fun to add some trim details to our closet and bring a little of that vibe to the space.

Customize your closet doors with trim-so pretty! (click through for tutorial)          Customize your closet doors with trim-so pretty! (click through for tutorial)    Since we had metal doors on the closets, I had to first swap them out with flat front wooden doors the same size so I could build the trim on top of the doors. I couldn't find a link to the doors I bought, but I got them from Lowes so I would try your local home improvement place or door store if you need flat front doors. Each door will probably be installed a little differently, so just follow the directions for the doors you get.

Customize your closet doors with trim-so pretty! (click through for tutorial)   Once those were in, I used a tape about the same width as my trim pieces to decide what type of trim pattern I wanted to do. Since this is my first go at adding trim to doors like this and the trim I picked is already a pattern, I thought I would keep the design fairly simple. Once I had the tape estimate where I wanted it, I used a miter power saw to cut all the pieces to the right length. You can cut and fit trim pieces together at a 45 degree angle, but since I had the patterned trim with the squares, it seemed better to cut the ends off straight instead since it didn't seem like the pattern would line up as well on an angle. Trim wood can be pretty easy to cut by hand as well (especially the pieces that are made of softer wood like mine were). So you can also just use a hand saw and a miter box if you don't have a power saw. For this design I ended up using about 2 8' trim strips per door panel.

Customize your closet doors with trim-so pretty! (click through for tutorial)  Once I had the pieces cut, I used masking tape to hold each piece in place so I could make sure they all fit and so I could center the design. Once I was happy with it, I removed the tape on one piece at a time, used wood glue on the back of each strip, and nailed the trim in place with very small nails. It takes a bit of time to do all that. But remember...you're making your doors awesome, so quit whining and get back to work!

SIDE NOTE: Make sure to check and see if your doors fully open once you tape your trim pieces in place. It may sound like a no-brainer, buuuuut I totally forgot to do that, nailed and glued the whole door set in place, and then couldn't open the doors the whole way because the trim was in the way. D'oh! I had to rip off all the trim pieces, switch the door hardware the opposite way so the bad side was on the back, make a few cuts, and redo the whole thing on the other side. No fun at all!!!

Once the glue has dried, you can fill any gaps where the trim pieces come together with wood filler and lightly sand those parts smooth. I really wouldn't skip this step if you can. It helps make the separate pieces all look like one unit. If you get really fancy, you can even fill gaps between the crease where the trim hits the door front (kind of like you would with trim around doors or windows and the wall). 

Customize your closet doors with trim-so pretty! (click through for tutorial) Once your wood is looking good, pull the doors off and use a semi-gloss paint to paint the doors (I chose Beach Blanket by Valspar). Then put your doors back on when dry. I would suggest using painter's tape over the hardware where the doors come together when you paint so the metal doesn't stick together once you close the doors.

Customize your closet doors with trim-so pretty! (click through for tutorial)Drill a hole and install a door pull if there isn't one already on your doors, and your closet is back in business!

Customize your closet doors with trim-so pretty! (click through for tutorial)         Customize your closet doors with trim-so pretty! (click through for tutorial)       I. Love. These. DOORS! They add SO much to the room and look so custom compared to the basic doors that were there before. The trim looks sophisticated, but the color adds a pop of fun that modernizes a classic idea. The first few days of waking up to the new minty doors made me so happy. So even though it was a bit tedious of a project (especially with my big, stupid mistake), it was totally worth it, and I'm so happy with how they turned out. Looks like a good start to de-borifying our room if you ask me! xo. Laura

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

Easy No Bake Truffles (via abeautifulmess.com)    Easy No Bake Truffles (via abeautifulmess.com)It happened—it's not even October yet and I've already broken out my stash of googly-eye sprinkles. Ha! I try to reserve these for around Halloween because once I get them out, I've been known to add googly-eye sprinkles to LOTS of things...many of which aren't even sprinkle-appropriate. 

But can you blame me? Picture it: you make some toast one morning and after you slather on the peanut butter, you top if off with two googly-eyes. Instant toast personality! It's hard not to smile when your food is staring back at you. 

I feel like this will become more appropriate once I have kids (not pregnant—just dreaming). Then I can be that mom who adds googly eyes to their school lunches for the whole month of October. 

Life goals. Dare to dream.

Easy No Bake Truffles (via abeautifulmess.com) And speaking of life goals...guys, let's make some truffles. Top five reasons I love truffles:

1. Delicious
2. Cute (especially if you have googly-eye sprinkles on hand)
3. Easy to make
4. Known to friends when you show up places with these
5. Did I already mention delicious? I feel like it should get on the list at least twice. 

You could add a stick and turn these into truffle pops too (just like cake pops). Whoa. 

No bake oreo cheesecake trufflesFirst, make and freeze a no-bake Oreo cheesecake. Or any boxed no-bake dessert that you can find at your local grocery store. Up to you. Choose your own adventure here.

How to make no bake trufflesNext melt some chocolate chips with 2 teaspoons of oil (olive or canola is great) in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave. Do this on high in 30 second increments, stirring in between, just until it's melted (1 1/2 to 2 minutes total usually). 

Now you can use a melon baller to scoop small spheres of frozen cheesecake and cover in chocolate. Then add your sprinkles, chopped nuts or a little sea salt. 

Easy No Bake Truffles (via abeautifulmess.com)  Once the chocolate sets, I like to place my truffles in mini cupcake liners for a pretty presentation and to keep them from sticking to each other. Store these in the refrigerator for up to a few days or you can freeze them. Don't make these until you are having friends over, going to a party, or plan to take these into the office because they are highly addictive. You have been warned. xo. Emma

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

My color washed living room floor (formula and application)Hey, friends! A couple days ago we moved into our new home, and WOW, it has been a really intense week. Words cannot describe. I'll save the long version of that story for another time and skip to the best part of my week...these floors! 

We chose intense turquoise color washed floors for our formal living room, which is also the first room you see when you walk into the entryway of our house. It will be a while before the room is styled and ready to share as a tour, so I thought I'd just write a quick post about how and why we chose this crazy bold floor and how it is done in case you want to DIY it or share our recipe with your floor guy. 

But first, remember what this living room looked like a few months ago?? 

BeforeWe've already come such a long way! 

So, one of the first things we did when we closed on the house was check to make sure there were hardwoods under the carpets (yay—there were in all the rooms except the sunroom!). We debated leaving the floors their existing color to save money, but then we discovered that not all the rooms were stained the same color. They didn't match and most of them were really yellow. So we decided to have them sanded and restained. We hired a professional this time (mostly because we were still living in Missouri at the time). In the past we've done floors ourselves as well (Josh wrote a really good post about refinishing old wood floors here). 

Anyway! We decided that we wanted super light, whitewashed floors throughout the whole upstairs. This choice feels very fresh and clean to me, but it is also a practical consideration because our pug sheds light hair all the time. We actually like really dark floors too, so we decided to do those in Jeremy's studio where the dogs won't really be. 

When I told our contractor that I wanted super light, whitewashed floors, I could see that he wasn't thrilled. He explained to me that the benefit of using dark stain on old floors is that it hides every flaw. Light stain would show every flaw. But he was still willing to try it, and my heart was set on it, so we went for it. 

So all of the rooms in our house, except for the turquoise living room, are this color: 

White washed floorsThey turned out a bit more subtle (and less white) than I imagined, but I love it. 

As our contractor was working on the floors, he let me know that there were some stains (caused by a water spill or leak at some point) in the living room that couldn't be sanded out. They were in a really unfortunate placement at the front of the room (near the entrance), not in a place where a couch and rug would make sense at all, and one of the stains went across a whole bunch of boards. (So to repair it would require redoing most of that whole floor.) Not good. Here's what it looked like: 

Damaged areaBoo! This really put a kink in my plan. 

He suggested that maybe we do a dark floor in just the living room to mask the damage. 

So I went to look one more time at all the dark wood stain samples at the hardware store and I saw colored stain. The heavens opened up, light poured down, and I remembered the floors from The Surf Lodge (a rad hotel in Montauk).... 

The Surf LodgeOoh la la, am I right? 

So we picked up all the turquoise stains at the hardware store. The guy at the paint counter warned us that a lot of people return them, but we felt pretty good about them based on the swatches (which looked almost identical to the photo above, super intense/saturated color). 

Ummm.... no.Ummm...no. 


I took my issues to Instagram (my #1 spot for crowdsourcing all of life's problems). I got a few more recommendations. I tried a couple more stain brands (with similar results), and I started to become more open to a paint option. My husband wasn't as open to it. We've painted floors in the past that got scratched up and scuffed almost instantly. But our contractor assured us that it's really the poly, not the paint that makes it durable. So we decided to go for it...again! 

My task was to test the paint/water/poly combos on scrap wood (the same kind of wood as my floors, red oak) and figure out the formula for my contractor. We tried different proportions of poly mixed with paint and poly mixed with water. We wanted to make sure the grain showed through, so it looked like stain, not just paint. We also wanted really intense color. 

Stained Glass by Valspar I chose Stained Glass by Valspar for my color. 

Testing color wash techniques For the formula, my favorite was 1 part paint, 1 part water. It waters it down enough to show the woodgrain without being crazy runny and watery. I applied two coats of it with a rag. Then I gave it a coat of poly to see how that would affect the color. 

ApplicationFor the real thing, my contractor used a fluffy looking sponge brush for the application. It only needed one coat and we were happy with it. 

White wash to color wash transitionHere's a shot of the transition between the kitchen and dining room (it's still taped up from the application here). I really like how the colors mix.

By the way, the big stain is still (barely) visible. But it's not nearly as noticeable anymore because when you have a turquoise floor, it's so visually stimulating it's hard to nitpick the flaws. We could have covered the stain completely, but that would have meant losing the wood texture, which I did not want to do. 

Color washed floorWell, that's the story of my crazy turquoise floor! I can't wait to share more after the room is furnished and decorated! It's going to be a lot of fun. I can tell that I have zero regrets, which is a great feeling. 

With that said, I realize this isn't for everyone and I want to hear your thoughts! Love it? Hate it? What color would you have picked? 

I am so so excited to share more house projects with you this season. Follow me on Instagram @elsielarson for more updates. I am documenting all the steps with #thelarsonhouse. Thanks so much for reading! xx- Elsie 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson (mostly taken with the iPhone this time). 


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