Make a Statement Wall with Paint Pens!

Easy and cheap! Make a statement wall with paint pens (click through for tutorial)      You guys know how much we love statement walls here at ABM (you can see all the previous walls here!), but it occurred to me recently that we haven't done a wall with paint pens or markers yet. I know, I know; shame on us and all of that, but don't yell too hard because I'm about to share one with you today. My musician husband Todd has a music room in our house where he can practice, write, and record, but until lately it's been dubbed the most boring room of the house. He insisted on keeping a giant couch (that he's had for the last 13 years!) in the space, and it felt like it was literally taking up half the small room, so I never really put much effort into decorating it. Once he decided to move the couch to his off-campus studio space, I jumped at the chance to add some personality to his room, and I thought a statement wall recreating this amazing geometric print would be just the ticket for the space. Since the walls are a medium grey color, I decided that a stenciled wall design with a white paint pen would work out perfectly. Here's how I did it:

Easy and cheap! Make a statement wall with paint pens (click through for tutorial)

-scrap cardboard (just ask a local store for boxes if you don't have any; the bigger the better!)
-painter's tape
-thick white paint pen (this one and this one are good)
-X-Acto knife
-push pins to hold template on wall

First I decided how many rows of the pattern I wanted on the wall. Once I chose four rows I measured the wall height, marked the four section measurements on both ends of the wall with a pencil, and used painter's tape to mark off the rows.

Easy and cheap! Make a statement wall with paint pens (click through for tutorial) Once I figured out the height, I got a big piece of cardboard, cut it to the row height, and traced my shape across the cardboard as far as it would go. I alternated the shape orientation so that it would look like an interlocking pattern once all together. Keep the shapes that get cut out of your template since you'll need those in your final step.

Easy and cheap! Make a statement wall with paint pens (click through for tutorial) I used push pins to secure the template to the wall so I could trace without having to hold the giant template in place. Pay attention to where the middle of the wall is, and make sure that you have the middle of a shape line up exactly in that spot. If you line up the middle carefully, the outside edges of the wall will both end at the same point in your pattern.

Easy and cheap! Make a statement wall with paint pens (click through for tutorial) Taking the paint pen, I just traced inside of the shapes and allowed the paint to dry (which it does rather quickly) before going over it a second time. If you have a lot of corners to get into like I did, I would also use a smaller point of paint pen as well so you can get into the corners a little better.

Once you have completed all your outline shapes for that section, remove the push pins and move the template over. Make sure to overlap the first shape of the template with the last shape you traced so that your spacing will be the same throughout. Since it can be hard to get the big template to line up exactly with the ends of the wall, you can use the leftover cardboard shapes that you originally cut from your template for this final step. Trim the cutouts vertically as needed and to use them as smaller templates to complete your shapes right next to the corner wall seam. Once your shapes are all traced, you're done!

Easy and cheap! Make a statement wall with paint pens (click through for tutorial)
Easy and cheap! Make a statement wall with paint pens (click through for tutorial)
Easy and cheap! Make a statement wall with paint pens (click through for tutorial)
The wall only took me a couple of hours to complete, so I was pretty happy with how fast it went, and since I was able to use one paint pen (well, one thick pen and one thin pen for the corners) for the whole wall, the project only cost me around $10 too! Not bad if you ask me. I love the vibe that the geometric shapes add to the space and the room definitely feels like it's got some personality happening now. I will for sure be expecting a lot of love songs to be written about me in this room from now on—I think it's only fair, don't you? xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with Stella from The Signature Collection

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Paper Flower Bouquet

How to make paper flowersWith Thanksgiving happening in the month of November, my daughters and I like to do something special for our neighbors and others we come into contact with weekly through their extra-curricular activities. We might drop off breakfast for their dance teachers or bake our neighbors some dessert. It's just a little something to let them know we appreciate them.

Besides food, which usually people take gladly, I thought some pretty paper bouquets would make a nice surprise too. Wouldn't someone handing you a paper bouquet make you smile?! I know it would make us smile for sure! 

-paper flower template
-cardstock in various colors
-green crepe paper streamer
-floral tape
-floral stem wire
-glue gun and glue stick
-wire cutter

Step1aStep One: Cut your wire to your desired stem length and wrap the entire length of your wire with floral tape. 

O-step1Step Two: Using the template, cut out all the necessary pieces for your paper flower: petals, center, and leaves. Tear two 2 1/2" strips of crepe paper for the calyx. Be sure to cut a slit from the base of the each petal upward to the middle. 

StepthreecollageStep Three: Near the base of the petal, add a dab of glue on one side, and glue the other side of the petal on top. This gives the petal a little bit of an upward curve. You may need to hold the petal in place for a few seconds while the glue sets. Repeat for each petal. After, add a dot of glue at the base of the petal (on top of the overlap section), and layer another petal on top. Continue layering the petals all the way around. It's totally up to you how many layers of petals you would like to create. 

Step Four: Cut out thin strips of paper and glue them to the center of the flower. Next, cut out a small circle and cut around towards the center of the circle, and then glue that on top of the thin strips. 

Another flower center option is to cut a 1" x 4" strip of paper and cut 3/4" slits down along the strip. Add a dab of glue and roll the strip, and glue again at the end to secure. Glue this fringed center to the middle of the flower. Just like there are many petal shapes you could cut out, there are various ways to create the center of the flower. You can have fun mixing and matching the different options. 

Step5collageStep Five: Poke the wire through the center of both 2 1/2" strips of crepe paper, fold about 1/2" of the end of the wire 90 degrees, and add a dab of glue to secure it in place. This green crepe paper acts as the calyx of the flower. Add more glue and attach the base of the flower on top of the calyx. 


Step Six: Add a leaf to the stem by wrapping the bottom of the leaf onto the stem and then wrapping floral tape around it. 

Paperflowers-horizontalNow, you know the basics in creating simple paper flowers. Have fun experimenting with different petal shapes and centers. You can even use this tutorial to make some giant flowers and use whole sheets of cardstock for each petal. Giant paper flowers would be extra fun to give to someone! 

Bouquet of paper flowersNo matter what, though, whether you give friends a single flower or give them whole bouquets, you're sure to pass good cheer around with this little gift of thoughtfulness. Take it a step further by adding a sweet note to let them know exactly why you are thankful for them. No doubt thankfulness and thoughtfulness are areas we all could probably work on. Don't you agree?! -Rubyellen

Credits // Author and Photography: Rubyellen Bratcher. Photos edited with Imogen from The Folk Collection

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Peanut Butter Cup Bars

Peanut butter cup bars  I guess I am just in a peanut butter mood this week! First I made spicy peanut noodles and then I decided I wanted to make some kind of no-bake peanut butter bars. And I'm the boss of me, so I did.

Actually, I also hosted Friendsgiving this week at the office. If you haven't been reading since last year, Friendsgiving is an annual tradition we have here at ABM. It's a friend or office Thanksgiving. It's my favorite event every year because it's basically a cooking marathon, which is fun! If I had to do it every week it probably wouldn't be as fun, but hosting a giant dinner party is such a pleasure for me. 

Anyway, one item I had planned was a chocolate pie. I had practiced it before and it was great. Then I went to make it the day before Friendsgiving and I decided to try a slightly different cooking/baking method, and it was an EPIC FAIL. And I didn't have time to make another. I had another dessert planned, but it didn't feed everyone, so I ended up also serving these peanut butter cup bars since they were in the freezer. Life saver.

Peanut butter cup barsSo not only are these delicious (think giant peanut butter cups!), they also are awesome to have in your freezer, ready for unexpected company or when a planned dessert goes terribly wrong. :)

I realize this is also dangerous advice, as you could end up just systematically eating them all over the course of a week. Not that anyone would ever do something like that (wink).

Peanut butter cup bars recipePeanut Butter Cup Bars, makes nine (8" x 8" square pan).

3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups graham crackers, crushed
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 1/2 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup chocolate chips (dark or semi-sweet)
1/2 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped peanut butter cups

In a bowl stir together the first five ingredients listed. Butter a square baking dish and press the peanut butter batter into the pan. 

How to make peanut butter cup bars In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and oil. Melt on high for 30 seconds, stir, then melt for another 30 seconds. If needed you can melt it for an additional 15-30 seconds. Pour the melted chocolate over the top and spread to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle on the chopped peanut butter cups.

How to make peanut butter cup barsCover and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour (or overnight). Once hardened cut into squares. You can serve these right away or wrap each bar and store in the freezer.

Peanut butter cup bars I'm not positive how long these will last in the freezer if wrapped. We ate all of our ours within two days, but I bet these would store well for months if kept frozen. These are quite rich, but I still think they go well with vanilla ice cream. Just saying. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

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DIY Slatwood Bench

Make this simple slatwood bench- it's easier than you think!Making furniture is one of my favorite things. There's very little more empowering than imagining a piece of furniture and actually making it a reality with a little hard work. Not only is furniture making a great way to potentially save money, but it's a really practical way to put your creativity to work!

Recently my mom asked my dad if he would be able to find time to make her a bench she could use at the dining table for family feasts and also in their entryway. I said, "Ma! Why don't I make you that bench?" Girls know how to use power tools too! So we worked together to come up with this simple slatwood bench design in a slightly distressed ebony finish.

DIY slatwood bench with tapered legsDIY slatwood bench with tapered legsMaterials:
-3 1x3" boards* ($3.82 each for pine)
-1 1x4" boards* ($4.58 for pine)
-8 1x2" boards* ($2.48 each for pine)
-4 angled leg plates (like these) ($1.14 each + $5.50 shipping= approximately $10)
-4 tapered legs in 12"-16" length, depending on your desired height—I used these ($17.95 each for pine), but these are less expensive ($5.38 each).
-8 1.5" Kreg screws
-32 1.5" flat wood screws
-16 finishing nails (at least 1.5")
-Gorilla Glue
-wood filler
-wood stain or paint and primer
-120 & 220 grit sandpaper
-extra fine steel wool

Total Cost (including lumber, legs, and leg mounting plates): $68
Cost assumes the less expensive table legs and does not include screws, paint, glue, etc., because those are items I already had on hand, and you may too. Also, cost of lumber will be lower if you buy longer boards and cut them down to size.

-miter saw
-power drill
-Kreg pocket hole kit (with jig, drill bit, and driver)
-standard drill bits & drivers
-2 short clamps & 2 long clamps (not pictured in supplies)
-belt clamp (not pictured)
-tape measure
-rag or sponge
-optional: power sander

*The length of the boards is up to you, but I used 4' long boards.

DIY slatwood bench with tapered legsMake this simple slatwood bench- it's easier than you think!Step One: Use the miter saw to cut 45 degree angles on the ends of two 1x3 boards as shown above. Cut down the length of the 1x2s to match the inside length of the freshly cut 1x3s. It is very important that the 1x2s are perfectly cut to exactly match the inside length of the mitered 1x3s.

Step Two: Use an extra board to space out the planks as shown above, arranging the 1x2s in the middle, and the 1x3s on the ends. Use scrap wood to make sure the ends of the 1x2s are even.

Make this simple slatwood bench- it's easier than you think!Step Three: Measure the distance between the 1x3s and cut two pieces of the 1x4 to that length. These will be the support boards for the bench. Screw them to the previously spaced-out 1x2s, as shown above. I attached mine 6" from the ends of the 1x2s. Make sure to keep pressure on the board while drilling the pilot holes and screwing in the wood screws, or you might mess up the board spacing.

Step Four: Clamp the Kreg jig onto the ends of the attached board and drill 2 pocket holes which will be used to connect the 1x3s to the edge.

Tips for Making Pocket Holes: It's difficult to give specific instructions for what stop point to set your Kreg jig when drilling pilot holes, because there are variants involved, such as where the stop collar is placed on your drill bit, what length screws you are using, and the exact thickness of your wood. My suggestion is to practice with scrap pieces of wood to ensure you do not over-drill or under-drill for the pocket holes.

Make this simple slatwood bench- it's easier than you think!Step Five: Loosely clamp the 1x3s to the edge of the attached support boards. Use a scrap piece of wood to make sure the edge of the 1x2 boards perfectly line up with the inside of the mitered 1x3 edge. Once each end of the bench is perfectly even with the mitered 1x3s, tighten the clamps. If the ends do not match up evenly, you may need to trim the attached 1x2s with a table saw, or else shave a bit off the mitered 1x3 before attaching them.

Step Six: While the 1x3s are tightly clamped, screw the 1.5" Kreg screws into the support boards, attaching the 1x3s securely to the base of the bench.

Tips for clamping: When clamping soft wood like pine, use scrap pieces of wood as a buffer between the clamp and your finished piece, or the clamp will imprint the wood. 

DIY slatwood bench with tapered legsStep Seven: Measure the entire width of the bench base to find the length to cut the last of the 1x3s to create the mitered end caps. Cut more than you think you will need, then slowly, slowly trim a tiny bit more off the ends until you get the perfect dry fit.

Step Eight: Loosely fit a belt clamp around the entire bench top, preparing for fitting in the mitered end caps you cut in step seven. Soak the end grains of the wood with water and cover with some Gorilla Glue.

Make this simple slatwood bench- it's easier than you think!Step Nine: Fit the mitered end cap into place and completely tighten the belt clamp. The pressure from the clamp and the moisture in the wood will activate the Gorilla Glue, creating a strong bond. I added some finishing nails to be extra sure the wood won't pop out of place due to natural shrinking/growing that occurs with moisture changes in the environment.

Step Ten: Sand down the entire bench with 120 grit sandpaper to fix any unevenness in the seams. If you have extreme unevenness, you can fix it with 60 grit sandpaper and a power sander. Add wood filler to any small gaps in the seams and to cover the nails, which should be slightly recessed into the wood. (You can recess nails by tapping them with another nail.) When the wood filler has set up, sand down the entire bench again with 220 grit sandpaper.

Step Eleven: Stain or paint the bench to your desired finish. If you are painting, make sure to wet sand the primer with 400 grit sandpaper and water before painting. This will ensure a silky smooth finish. If you are staining, always sand down with 0000 grade steel wool after each coat of stain and also after the first coat of sealer, unless you are using wax as a sealer.

DIY slatwood bench with angled tapered legsStep Twelve: Attach the leg mounting plates to the support boards of the bench. I attached mine about an inch from the support board's edge, making sure to work around the screws that were already in place. Make sure the placement of the angled leg plates will direct the legs' angle to the outside corner of the bench. Then screw the legs into place until they are perfectly tight.

Make this simple slatwood bench- it's easier than you think!DIY slatwood bench with tapered legsThis bench works great as a coffee table, extra seating, or a place to put your house plants. It's such a simple piece of furniture with lots of style!

DIY slatwood bench with tapered legsI love how sleek the bench is, and while I like the way it looks in my modern home, it will fit right in with my mom's transitional-styled decor too! -Mandi

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

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Colorblocked Envelope Clutch DIY

So cute! colorblocked envelope clutch DIY (click through for tutorial)            I have to admit that I am totally that girl who carries around a giant purse that is always stuffed to the brim with everything you could possibly imagine. As much as I like feeling like I'm prepared for whatever situation may come about, it's such a freeing feeling when we have a date night and I choose to take a small clutch out on the town instead. It feels so light and dainty in comparison to my heavy-duty everyday bag. I thought it would be fun to make an envelope-style clutch with a colorblock element that I could use for date nights and dress down for weekday use as well. It's a beginner project, so if you've never ventured into bag-making before, this project is a great one to start with!

So cute! colorblocked envelope clutch DIY (click through for tutorial)Supplies:
-2 colors of real or faux leather of medium stiffness (one for the body of the clutch and one for the flap)
- Download ABM Clutch Template (right click to download)
-hole punch pliers
-X-Acto knife (or rotary cutter), metal ruler, and cutting mat
-waxed thread
-yarn needle
-small binder clamps
-twist-lock purse lock (I used this adorable pony one!)

So cute! colorblocked envelope clutch DIY (click through for tutorial) Print, assemble, and cut out your paper clutch template. Trace the appropriate template (either the main body section or the top flap) onto the wrong side of each of your colors of leather.

So cute! colorblocked envelope clutch DIY (click through for tutorial)  Use your X-Acto knife and/or rotary cutter to cut out the main body section and top flap from the two templates. On the main body section of leather, mark a dot every 1/4" on both the top edge and along the left and right sides of the bottom flap. Use your hole punch pliers to punch a hole in each marked spot.

So cute! colorblocked envelope clutch DIY (click through for tutorial)  Fold the two side flaps inward and fold the bottom flap upwards on top of the side flaps. Use the binder clips to hold the flaps in place. Stick a pen or thin marker through each punched hole on your bottom flap so that it makes a corresponding mark on the side flap underneath it. Unfold the sections and use the hole punch to punch those marked holes as well. Repeat the process with the top flap that is cut from your other color of leather and the holes punched across the top of your main body section (the template shows where they should line up).

So cute! colorblocked envelope clutch DIY (click through for tutorial)             To sew your sections together, thread a medium-sized yarn needle with the waxed thread, make a knot at the tail of your thread, and begin to sew through the holes. To create a continuous sewn line without any gaps, just sew back through the opposite holes again once you reach the end. Knot the thread on the inside of the clutch and trim the excess. Repeat process on the opposite side of the main body and on the top to connect the top flap to the main body section. 

So cute! colorblocked envelope clutch DIY (click through for tutorial)      If you want to add an extra finish to the inside of your clutch,  cut out another top flap template that is 1" shorter on the bottom than the original top flap. Line the two flaps up with each other (wrong sides together), mark and punch 1/4" holes along the edge, and sew them together. This gives you an extra sturdy top flap, brings a pop of color to the inside, and adds a nice stitching detail. I didn't backtrack once I reached the end on this stitching detail because I liked the look of the gaps between each stitch. Of course you can add the stitching detail even if you don't add a second layer to the top flap, so keep that in mind. 

Now that your clutch is assembled you can install your twist-lock purse lock on the top flap and on the front of the main body section underneath it. Each purse lock will install a little differently depending on the design, but you should only need an X-Acto knife to cut holes or notches in the correct spots and maybe a small screwdriver, depending on the type. There are lots of styles out there to choose from!

So cute! colorblocked envelope clutch DIY (click through for tutorial)
So cute! colorblocked envelope clutch DIY (click through for tutorial)
So cute! colorblocked envelope clutch DIY (click through for tutorial)
Isn't that little gold pony closure just the cutest? I think this clutch is perfect because it's not too dressy, so you could wear it during the day with jeans, but the gold detail adds enough glamour for an evening out as well. Of course, you could use metallic leather instead if you wanted it to go even dressier. What do you think? Are you up for giving bag-making a try? xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman. Photography: Laura Gummerman and Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella and Lillian from A Beautiful Mess actions.

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