Dining areaToday we are welcoming Emory Kurysh to the blog as she shares her beautiful, rustic home with us!

Emory Ann Kurysh"My husband and I built our home from the ground up. We had originally wanted an acreage and had searched for one with an old farmhouse for nearly six months. We weren't having any luck in finding our perfect home. On a whim, I went for a drive to a provincial park that was only 20 minutes from the city in which we currently lived and worked. I immediately fell in love with the area, and had a feeling that this was the type of country life that would best suit us. With very few homes for sale in the park, we ended up purchasing an empty lot, and thus began building our new home. Being influenced by the lake and the surrounding area, and having both lived on an acreage, we decided to build our version of a reclaimed cabin and barn-like home. We designed it from scratch and employed contractors that I have known for seven years. It came together like a dream. We named it The Little Barn, and moved into our new space in January 2015.

The little barnLiving roomAt Home with Emory Ann KuryshKitchen"My favourite space in our home is our kitchen. In five years, this is the fifth home that we have lived in together, and it is also the first one with a kitchen that is big enough to fit a table. Our kitchen is technically 9' x 12'. However, because it is open concept, it is more like 12' x 24'. It seems like such a silly thing, but actually having a large kitchen is the one of the reasons why I love this house so much. To celebrate this achievement, I ordered a custom picnic table with built-in seating on one side. The other side is a 9' church pew that was gifted to us from my mother. I put a childhood blanket of my husband's on the pew, as well as a few animal hides that were my Baba's. Her antique household items are displayed on top of our table, in addition to some from my mother, and a plant from my in-laws on the large kitchen windowsill. I do all of my reading and blogging whilst sitting at the table, and I love when my two dogs curl up at my feet on the shag rug that I placed underneath the table. 

Kitchen storageShelving"In keeping with a rustic home, we specifically decided against countertops and cupboards. Instead, we hung vintage crates from my antique store and use an old armoire that my mother restored when I was a child to hold all of our kitchen wares. We purchased a stainless steel commercial sink, and kept with the industrial theme with a 7' tall fridge and double oven. Our only countertop is a reclaimed wood island with metal sheeting for a workspace. I just love it!

Entertainment areaDecor details"Our entertainment unit is one of my favourite pieces. We designed it to fit the long, narrow space beneath the stairs, and my husband constructed it out of reclaimed barn wood that he collected with my brother-in-law. I adore the items that I collected from my Baba's estate as well as the ones that were given to us by my mother.

BedroomBathroomGuest bedroomBedroom details"I love our IKEA purchases, mainly our stainless steel shelving solutions and all of our lighting that can be found throughout our home.  I could not live without our vintage wool blankets or cast iron antique spare bed, nor could I part with our record, book, and movie collection. I have hand-picked every item to fit into The Little Barn. It's still not much, but all that we own, I can honestly say I cherish."

Thank you so much for sharing your space with us, Emory! You can find more of Emory on her blog and on Instagram. xo.

Credits// Author and Photography: Emory Kurysh

15 Kitchen Gadgets to Help You Eat Healthier (click through for more)Let's face it—we could all use a little help making healthier choices throughout the week, right? It can be hard to choose the right thing (and we all have slightly different descriptions of what's "healthy" anyway), but there are a few kitchen gadgets that I've discovered over the years that can help you not only make better better choices with your food, but also make it easier as well. 

15 Kitchen Gadgets to Help You Eat Healthier (click through for more)     Vegetable spiralizer: I actually found out about this one through Elsie who was spreading the good word about her vegetable spiralizer through the office. I wasn't able to eat pasta at the time, so this was a lifesaver since you can make your own veggie noodles out of vegetables like zucchini (and it has other attachments for different foods). You can eat the "noodles" raw or toss them in a pan with olive oil and salt and pepper first to warm them up. Pass the sauce please!

Dehydrator: Snagging a food dehydrator is a great tool to make your own granola, dried fruits and veggies, beef jerky, fruit leather, or seasoned nuts. While you can do some of the same things in the oven, the dehydrator is more time and energy efficient and leaves your oven free for other cooking chores. 

15 Kitchen Gadgets to Help You Eat Healthier (click through for more)   Immersion blender: If you love making homemade soups at home, then an immersion blender is basically a must. A lot of recipes require you to transfer most or all of your soup to a blender at some point to give the soup a smooth consistency, but it's not the easiest thing to transfer piping hot liquid (usually in batches since it doesn't all fit at once) from the pot to the blender and back again without making a mess. The immersion blender does it all in the pot, in seconds, without having to transfer the soup, and it's small so it stores easily. 

Infusion water pitcher: Instead of sugary soda or sweet tea, try making some yummy infused water instead! My favorite flavors are strawberry, orange, and mint and cucumber. So refreshing!

Smoothies to go: I love that I can make to-go individual smoothies in my blender just by using a different cup. It's easy and fast and I can add in lots of greens and chia seeds or flax seeds to give the fruit another nutritional kick. Plus, when you don't have to pour the smoothie into another cup to drink it, it's one less thing to wash—yes!

15 Kitchen Gadgets to Help You Eat Healthier (click through for more) Handheld chopper: A handheld chopper is a great way to quickly chop vegetables for you to add to dishes or use as toppings. It's especially suited for items like onions or jalapeños that would usually make you tear up or get oils on your hands you'd rather avoid. 

Steamer: One of my favorite all veggie meals to make is a main roasted veggie (like squash or potatoes) with a few different steamed vegetables on the side. You can go low tech with a steelor silicone version or get fancy with a stackable unit. Steamed broccoli with garlic salt or steamed carrots with dill (and a tiny bit of butter) are the perfect compliment to any meal.

Herb saver: To make sure you get the longest shelf life out of your fresh herbs, try an herb keeperthat acts like a little greenhouse in your fridge to help your herbs last longer.

15 Kitchen Gadgets to Help You Eat Healthier (click through for more)  Citrus press: When you quickly want to squeeze a lemon or lime for a recipe, salad dressing or a drink, a citrus squeezer is the way to go. Just make sure to invest in a solid steel one rather than one that's just coated with metal but hollow on the inside. I've had more than one of the cheap ones snap while squeezing hard and pinched some fingers pretty hard in the process. Ouch!

Food (shaped) savers: I love using food shaped storage containers to save the other half of a lime, tomato or onion when I don't need the whole item right then. Not only do they keep your produce in a cute container, it also makes it easy to find the item you're looking for in the fridge later. If there isn't a food shaped one for an item, you can also use these silicone food huggers to create a seal as well.

Garlic peeler and press: Garlic has lots of nutritional qualities (including it's ability to boost your immune system), so adding lots of garlic to your diet is a good way to add flavor to your food and do your body good. Since it's not always the easiest to peel, use a garlic press and peeler to make removing the peel and dicing the clove a snap. The other upside is the lack of garlic smell on your fingers once you're done...

15 Kitchen Gadgets to Help You Eat Healthier (click through for more)    Hot air popcorn popper: Try some homemade popcorn with a hot air popcorn popper where you can control the kind of kernels you buy and the level of salt, butter or oil that gets put on top. Ever since I tried popcorn Emma made with salt, butter, pepper and some Parmesan cheese, I've been hooked. It's definitely more of a treat snack, but it's delicious!

Food processor: Now I know this one may seem like cheating for this list since it's more of a normal kitchen gadget that you may already have, BUT, hear me out on this one. This is one of the top gadgets that you'll use to make all kinds of delicious dips and spreads, and any counter or cabinet space that it will take up in the meantime is so worth it. (I make this healthy cookie dip and red pepper dip in mine all the time.) Think of all the fresh hummus you can make at home!

15 Kitchen Gadgets to Help You Eat Healthier (click through for more)      Oil mister: If you are cooking with an oil (even olive oil), you can end up using a lot more oil than you realize to coat the pan or dress a salad with, so this olive oil mister helps you get an even coat while using less overall.

Banana ice cream maker: One of my favorite items! For a delicious frozen treat with less fat than regular ice cream (and only natural sugar), try using this frozen dessert maker to create a sweet treat out of frozen bananas, berries, or mango for a fruity soft serve sorbet. Or mix in some cocoa powder for a chocolate version!

Hopefully you have a few things on this list already, but if not, at least you have a good idea of where to start! And yes, it's totally possible that you are already a champ of healthy eating and need no help whatsoever. But if you're like me, when that frozen pizza is staring at you from the freezer, you may need a little extra help to eat your veggies instead ;) xo. Laura

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

DIY denim dress (without a pattern) via abeautifulmess.com  Homemade chambray dress (via abeautifulmess.com)  DIY denim dress (without a pattern) via abeautifulmess.comOne of my goals for the month was to sew a dress. Yes, I have weird goals. And last weekend I finally got to mark that one off the list! For all you super experienced seamstresses out there, this likely doesn't impress you much. But, I'm pretty new to using my sewing machine (it was a wedding gift two years ago), and I've been making 2015 my year to try and learn and grow in my sewing skills.

I'm actually a little intimidated to show you all my latest project if I'm being honest. I feel confident in the kitchen and happy to share whatever I'm up to in that department, but sewing is a whole different thing. 

DIY denim dress (without a pattern) via abeautifulmess.com But hey, we're all friends here. So here you have it—I made a dress. And I want to share a little more about how I did it with you all, but this isn't really a full-on DIY tutorial. It's just something I did last weekend that I want to share. I like to make things and I like to share them, which I guess is how I came to be a blogger in the first place. :) 

I actually used a lesson from our e-course, Sew With Us, on using an existing garment to make your own pattern. So if you want to see a more in-depth look at this type of project, check there. Katie is a little more experienced at sewing than me, and I think she and Rachel did a great job teaching that course. 

Supplies for a diy dress without a patternFor this dress I used my very favorite green Mexican embroidered dress as my template to figure out what size I wanted. I LOVE this dress and wear it all the time (see me wearing it last year in Costa Rica and in Hawaii three years ago). I thought this would be a good dress to use because it doesn't have a zipper but can easily fit over my head and shoulders. I'm still working on mastering zippers, so I wanted to make a dress that I could easily take on and off without one. 

You can kind of see in this photo that I have scissors at home labeled "fabric" with black Sharpie, which totally reminds me of that old Ryan Gosling meme that said, "Hey, girl, don't worry. I know which scissors you use for fabric and which scissors you use for paper." I always thought that one was the best one of those. It's funny AND a real issue. :)

How to draft a patternPin the edges before stitchingI drew out my design (which is basically a rectangle with sleeves) with measurements and cut out my front and back pieces. I pinned the edges in place and stitched the dress up. 

For me, when I'm making a garment or tailoring something I already own (which I do more often since ALL my jeans tend to need hemming), I put the garment on inside out, over and over as I work to make sure things are fitting and falling in a way I like. If something isn't, I can usually just undo my last stitching and try again. I never cut off extra fabric until I'm sure it fits how I want. 

You can kind of tell from this photo that I used the opposite side of a denim fabric because I liked the color better (sort of chambray). Just a tip in case you're fabric shopping and just don't see a denim you like...check the other side. :)

Press the seamsCan I just say that my least favorite part about sewing is pressing seams. I just don't like ironing very much. I don't know why. It's not hard. It doesn't take very long. But I just don't like it. 

And now you know me a little bit better. 

Making the front detailI wanted to add some kind of weaving piece to the front of my dress. I saw something kind of like this (but much more intricate) at a store in Kansas City a few weekends ago when I was there with some friends. (I wish I had written down the brand name!)

I used Fray Check to seal the edges of the rope so it won't fray (too much) over time.

I'm not sure if you can tell from any of the photos, but the weaving piece attaches by removing the last two rope strands and looping through what are essentially two button holes on the dress. I wanted the piece to be easy to remove so I can wash the dress as needed. 

Homemade chambray dress (via abeautifulmess.com) Homemade chambray dress (via abeautifulmess.com)The weaving piece makes it just a little different, which I love. I can't wait to wear this out on a date night soon. Anyway, thanks for letting me share my latest exploits in learning to sew. And if you're looking to up your sewing game, I cannot recommend Sew With Us enough. xx. Emma

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

Crunchy and Cheesy Asparagus Sticks (via abeautifulmess.com) Oh yes. Today we're making some total comfort food for the season! This is a melty, cheesy, crunchy treat featuring one of my favorite vegetables from this season: asparagus. Yum! 

One thing you might be wondering is what the heck that wasabi is doing in the photo. What does wasabi have to do with cheesy asparagus? Good question. 

Crunchy and Cheesy Asparagus Sticks (via abeautifulmess.com)This appetizer idea is based on a favorite appetizer at a sushi restaurant in my hometown. To be honest, I'm not sure what fried mozzarella and asparagus have to do with sushi, but it's SO good! So I had to try and figure out how to make my own homemade version. These do involve a little bit of prep work, but you can do everything ahead of time and then just quickly fry them (and I mean quick, like 30 seconds per asparagus stick) before serving. So these make a fantastic party appetizer that is sure to wow your friends. 

That's also my tactful way of saying, guys, don't make these unless you're having a few friends over to help you eat them because they are so good that you'll end up eating a LOT of cheese all by yourself otherwise. But if that happens, at least there won't be any witnesses... :)

Fried cheesy asparagusCrunchy, Cheesy Asparagus, serves 6-8 as an appetizer.

12 string cheese sticks
12 stalks of asparagus
2 eggs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
oil for frying (I used a combination of peanut and vegetable because that's what I had on hand.)

First, trim the asparagus stalks so they are about the same length as the cheese sticks, or a bit longer. Use a knife to cut a slit down the center of the string cheese, only cutting about 1/3 to 1/2 way though the stick and not quite all the way to the end. Insert the asparagus stalk. Dip the whole thing in flour, then into the whisked eggs, and last into the Panko crumbs. Set on a plate and repeat until you've assembled all the sticks.

You may find that some of the asparagus don't seem to want to stay inside the string cheese perfectly. That's OK! The egg and bread crumbs will act as a binder to hold the sticks together, so don't worry if they don't appear perfect.

How to deep fryOnce you have all the sticks assembled, pop them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes and up to a few hours. This will help them to stay together better once you start frying, and this means you can prep these hours before you need them. 

Heat enough oil in a large pot so the asparagus sticks will be fully submerged once you start cooking. Heat the oil to around 350°F. I like to use a candy thermometer when frying, but you can also simply test the oil by dropping in a small piece of bread and see how quickly it cooks. 

Fry each stick for 30-35 seconds, no need to flip these. Then remove to a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil. You can cook a few of these in the pot at once (depending on your pot size), but don't crowd the pot as it can lower your temperature and make things stick together. I also recommend using kitchen tongs when frying as it makes it much easier to remove things from the hot oil. You want to be careful as that hot oil will really hurt if you get any on your skin. 

Crunchy and Cheesy Asparagus Sticks (via abeautifulmess.com)  For a quick sauce, I combined 3/4 cup mayo, juice from one lime and a teaspoon of wasabi. You can add more or less wasabi depending on how much spice you like. Serve warm with the dipping sauce and watch them disappear. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

Make a vintage inspired, ride-on, wooden toy with this step-by-step tutorial. Get the details on www.ABeautifulMess.comWooden toys have my heart, and I've been keeping my eyes peeled for the larger, ride-on trucks that used to be so common years and years ago. Finding them on eBay for a reasonable price can be tricky enough, but then you factor in shipping costs for a big hunk of wood and sometimes it's just easier to consider doing without. I finally decided I could probably make something that would do the job and fit my design aesthetic, so I enlisted the help of a friend with a jig saw and the kind employees at Lowe's to help me get started. 

Make a vintage-inspired, ride-on wooden truck for your little one. Get the step-by-step tutorial on www.ABeautifulMessThe end result was a fun new toy that can be used as a ride-on as well as a truck. It has already passed inspection and been approved by both of my younger kids, and is recommended for use by ages 18 months to 4 years. Mine are a little younger and older than that, so it's up to you, but be sure to use under adult supervision just like any other ride-on toy. Safety first!

SuppliesSupplies2Supplies:
- 1" x 8" x 4' pine pre-cut wood for top, bottom, and front piece
- 1" x 6" x 4' pine pre-cut wood for sides
- 2" x 2" x 4" cut of wood for handle
- 3/4" x 2" x 6" cut of wood for open end of truck
- four 2" rolling rubber casters 
- 16 3/4" steel screws (be sure they have a wide head)
- 16 8 x 2" wood screws
- jig saw
- power drill and bit
- thin finishing nails (nail gun is optional)
- wood glue (optional)
- acrylic paint (optional)
- varnish of choice (optional)

Cut your 1" x 8" x 4' piece of pine to get one length that measures 16" (seat), one that measures 20" (base), and 8" (front). Cut your 1" x 6" x 4' piece of pine into two 20" pieces.

StepOneStep One: Place your two pieces of 1" x 6" x 20" on top of each other. Measure 16" from one corner and make a mark. Then use a circular object like a salad plate or lid and trace the curve starting at the 16" mark. Round off the edge so that it ends about 2" from the bottom of that short end.

One trick my assistant, Dustin, used to be sure the angle was cut evenly on both pieces of wood was to use a nail gun to attach tiny finishing nails through both boards—one on the rounded end and one on the opposite end—to cut through both pieces without slipping. I then removed the finishing nails after it was cut and the tiny holes are hardly noticeable. You could also try this with clamps if you don't have access to a nail gun.

Use your jig saw to carefully cut the curve along your boards and sand down your edges when you're done. 

StepTwoStep Two: Place your curved pieces along the long sides of your 8" x 20" cut of wood. Mark and pre-drill holes along the edges of the 8" x 20" cut of wood about 1/2" from the long edge. Mine measured about 1" from one corner, about 10" in from the same corner, and 16" from the same corner as shown. Make the same measurements on the opposite side of your 8" x 20" cut of wood. Then line up those holes you've pre-drilled and mark where you need to pre-drill into the bottom of your curved pieces as shown. Pre-drill those holes as well. 

StepThreeStep Three: Center your 3/4" x 2" x 6" cut of wood on the short end so that it's flush with the back edge and make a mark. Then pre-drill two holes near each end of your mark so that they are centered. Then use those two holes to mark where you should pre-drill into your small piece as you did in step two. Next, use two 2" wood screws to attach it from the bottom side or wait to paint it before you attach it. You can also add wood glue to all of the areas you'll be attaching wood together with screws if you prefer. It'll add extra support, but it's not necessary.

StepFourStep Four: Pre-drill six holes in the 1" x 8" x 16" piece of wood that will be your seat. Drill about 1/2" from the long edge again. Two holes should be centered and two in each corner as shown. You can then use these holes as your template to pre-drill holes into the top edge of your rounded pieces of wood as you did in step two. I have them upright in this photo for reference, but I hadn't yet screwed them onto the base. 

StepFiveStep Five: Place your 2" x 2" x 4" cut of wood for a handle about 2" in from the front of your seat edge and center it. Mark along the back edge for reference and pre-drill two holes about 1" above that line. Then use those holes to pre-drill holes into your handle. Use a screwdriver or screw bit on your power drill to attach the handle with two 2" wood screws from the bottom side.

StepSixStep Six: Flip your base piece (1" x 8" x 20") over and place your casters as close to the corners as you can without covering over a screw hole. Be sure not to drill any closer than 1/2" from each edge as you can cause the wood to split. Mark your screw holes, pre-drill, and then attach your casters using shorter 3/4" screws. 

StepSeven
Step Seven: It's time to screw the sides on to your base. 

StepEightStep Eight: Screw your top on to the sides. For added stability and a finished front, you'll want to attach your nose piece. This is the 1" x 8" x 8" cut. Sand it down and pre-drill two holes on opposite edges about 1 1/2" in from each corner and 1/2" from the edge. Then use those as a template to mark your screw holes on the front of your truck. Screw it on and sand down any edges to create a smoother surface. 

StepNineStep Nine:  Sand the entire truck and then wipe it down with a damp cloth. I chose to add some painted details to mine to make it a little more fun and will likely add a coat of non-toxic sealant to protect it from smudges.

Ride-On Wooden Toy DIYRide-OnWoodenToyTutorialWooden Truck Back EndThis toy is not picture perfect, but I'm incredibly proud of my first attempt at a wooden toy for my kids. It's strong, safe, and will surely outlast their rough and rowdy ways! Smith's favorite part is that he can load and unload it with blocks or his sister's shoes. I'm sure I'll find all kinds of random items hiding in there!

It's a ride-on toy as well as a truck
Ride-On Wooden TruckI'm really proud of myself for putting this together as it's been awhile since I've done any woodworking projects. It's a great reminder that you can make almost anything if you want to badly enough! Are you feeling brave? -Rachel

Credits//Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions.

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