A Beautiful Mess donates a house to Habitat for HumanityA Beautiful Mess donates a house to Habitat for Humanity A Beautiful Mess donates a house to Habitat for Humanity  This week is just FULL of announcements apparently because here's another one. Last week we officially turned over the keys of our project house to Habitat for Humanity Springfield. So many of you have been following along since last October when we announced the project, so we wanted to give you an update on where the project is at.

6a00d8358081ff69e201b8d1135fbe970c-800wiSigning the key We hosted a small open house with many members of Habitat as well as the ABM team and a few friends and family members. Sadly Josh + Sarah Rhodes could not be there as they are off on their new adventure in Phoenix, but before Josh left, he made us a big wooden key for the donation day that we attached to the real keys of the property. We handed over the keys during a short ceremony. Habitat also provided us with those giant ceremony scissors that politicians are always using in movies, and our niece, Penny, was thrilled to help Aunt Elsie cut the ribbon to the house during the ceremony. :)

6a00d8358081ff69e201b8d1135fd9970c-800wi6a00d8358081ff69e201b8d1135fd9970c-800wi6a00d8358081ff69e201b8d1135fd9970c-800wiWe even got to be on the local news

On the local news On the local newsIt was a thrilling moment to say the least! I kept telling Elsie that I'm going to refer to this project as "that time we gave away a house..." forever. Ha! It was such an honor to be able to give back to our city by using what resources and talents we have. I gave a super short speech at the ceremony and the first people I thanked were all of our readers because it's really because of you all and your support that we were able to bring this dream project to life. Thank you! 

Penny enjoys a cupcakeNow you might be wondering, "Why haven't you shown a tour of all the final room looks in the house?" Good question. During the process of this project, we were able to connect with a magazine that wanted to get involved as well. They provided the majority of the furnishings throughout the house (we did the reno + appliances). In order to work together on this project, we wanted to make sure that we didn't reveal the final looks until they are able to as well, and print moves a little slower than the ol' Internet since they have to, well, print everything first. :) For this reason, we won't be sharing the final tours of the house until August—so hang tight for that! But we wanted to let you know about the official donation since we feel you all are as much a part of this project as we are. 

Giant scissorsAnother question you might have is, "Is a family moving in yet?" And the answer is, not yet. Habitat has their own set process that families go through before they move into their homes. You can read more about it (or give a donation) by visiting habitat.org. We're hoping that by the time we share the final looks in the home, we'll have an update for you on this as we're still in touch with our contacts at HFHS. Even though our portion of this project is complete, the story of this house is still going and we're excited to see what happens.

Thank you SO much for being a part of this project with us this year. With this project completed, Elsie and I are already dreaming about what we should do next. xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions*Habitat homes are sold to qualifying families at a reduced price with a zero-interest loan. Mortgage payments then go into a revolving fund that allows Habitat to build additional homes for families in need. To learn more about Habitat for Humanity or to make a donation, visit habitat.org

Baby catchlightsHave you ever seen a portrait (photograph or painting) and you get lost looking into the subject's eyes? I went to an art museum that had a huge Daguerrotype (a type of early photography where the image was literally ingrained on the metal plate) collection on display. There is something about a Daguerrotype that makes the subject's eyes deep and alive. I stood in that museum for who knows how long studying each and everything about the portraits. I just couldn't help it...they were mesmerizing! The beauty of each Daguerrotype was amazing. I felt like I was looking at the person in real life (even though they were taken in the 1800s). A Daguerrotype has a way of making the human eye glow that no other photo process (in my opinion) can do. The subject's eyes are a huge part of a successful portrait...they are the window into the soul, after all! :)

A detail in portrait photography that often gets overlooked is illuminating the subject's eyes...when this happens it is called "catchlight". Utilizing catchlights are a great way to enhance any portrait. If you're not sure what a catchlight is, the explanation is super simple: A catchlight is the light source reflecting in your subject's iris. It looks like a tiny white spot in the eye, but don't let the small size of the catchlights fool you because those little highlights add depth and life to your portrait! An image without catchlights can easily appear lifeless. 

What are catch lights? Good photography tip to know!!  Let's talk about how to achieve catchlights and what you need to make them appear in your subject's eyes! 

Light Source: Catchlights will mimic the shape of a light source. Different light sources will create different shapes. If you're in a studio and the lights you're using are square or rectangular, then your catchlights will be square or rectangular.

What are catch lights? Good photography tip to know!!    If you are photographing your subject outdoors on a sunny day, then your catchlights will be round like the sun. Round catchlights are considered normal and realistic looking because the sun is the most natural light source.

When you are outdoors, you can get some interesting catchlight shapes! Say there is a canopy of trees that is partially blocking the sun, then your subject will likely have the image of the trees reflecting in their irises (if they are facing toward the trees). Some photographers like their catchlights hitting the iris at exactly 10 o'clock OR 2 o'clock. They like these positions because when a subject is outside on a sunny day, the natural placement of the catchlights from the sun usually fall on the eye at 10 or 2. By no means do you have to follow that rule. It’s just one of those rules of thumb in the photo world that is worth mentioning.

Posing to get strong catchlights: Have your subject dip (or lower) their chin. This gives the appearance that your subject’s eyes are bigger.

Laura catchlightsBigger eyes mean your catchlights look stronger! Another tip is to have your subject sit down with their head tipped up to you while you stand above them. (Like in the first photo.) I like this orientation when I really want to capture the subject's eyes.
Using a low aperture will also make your subject's eyes pop. The low aperture will make your subject's face and eyes sharp while the background melts away.

Using reflectors to achieve great catchlightsIf you really want to get the light bouncing off of your subject's irises, go for a reflector! Reflectors are an essential piece of equipment when you are photographing outdoors. Have your subject hold the reflector under their face and move it around until you like the catchlights. Snap a few pictures to see if you are liking the results! If you are not happy with the results, simply have your subject move to the side. I call this "shuffling". I usually have my subject do lots of shuffling until the lighting on their face is JUST right. Getting great light in your subject's eyes takes time and keen observation. Let's face it, it's such a teeny tiny part that it can easily be overlooked.

Quick tips when photographing outdoors: Have your subject face the sun to get catchlights. If the light is too bright, then stick them in the shade but still facing the sun. Sticking your subject in the shade will give you even light and you still get great catchlights if they are facing the sun. Use your reflector to bounce the light back onto your subject.

What are catch lights? Good photography tip to know!!         I go over the subject of reflectors extensively in the DSLR Basics e-course. You can use lots of things as a reflector if you do not own one (like a white foam board). If you don't have any kind of reflector on hand, then get your subject next to a white wall or a surface that will bounce the light back onto your subject. Sometimes it takes some searching and a little scouting beforehand. 

If you are indoors: You can create catchlights when you are indoors too! Find a window or door and put your subject in front of that light source. The light will reflect and create catchlights. 

What are catch lights? Good photography tip to know!!       Using an iPhone? Not everyone has a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex), aka a professional camera. The easiest way I describe DSLRs to people who aren't familiar with them is by telling them it is the kind of camera where you can take off the lens and put on different lenses. If you don't have a DSLR, don't lose heart! You can capture catchlights using your smartphone too. Some phones take better photographs than others. I'm typically not the kind of techno gal that likes to get the latest and greatest piece of technology, but when the camera is significantly better in a newer model phone, then I'll usually make the jump and upgrade. Having a newer model phone with a better camera will make a big difference with your photos. 

What are catch lights? Good photography tip to know! (click through for more)           I hope you guys learned a little bit about catchlights today. Thanks for reading! -Janae

P.S Want to learn more about DSLR photography? Take our latest e-course: DSLR Basics

Credits//Author and Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

Greetings from NashvilleHi, friends! Today I have some big news to share with you! This summer Jeremy and I are moving.....to Nashville. And....Laura and her husband, Todd, are moving too! We're shaking things up, big time, and I wanted to take some time to tell you all about why we made this choice, what our plans are, and (probably most importantly) what this means for A Beautiful Mess! 

Over the past few months as we've told friends and family about our plans to move, we've noticed that they all have the same questions! So I'm going to answer them for you here, and you can pretend we're having coffee or texting...you know buddy/buddy stuff. :) 

Q: When did this happen? I thought you were going to stay in Missouri forever?

A: It's true that I have lived in Springfield, Missouri my whole life, and I thought I would be based here forever. Jeremy and I are both super close to our families and never had any intentions of relocating....until we suddenly did. #neversaynever

Back in January, Jeremy and I were driving to get coffee one morning. We were talking about his career and some of the obstacles and goals. And I said, "We need to move to Nashville," and he didn't say no, which was a first. We were both suddenly open to it. It was weird how something could change so quickly inside us. And the feeling never went away.

So a day or two later I emailed Emma and Trey, "This is serious, would you move to Nashville if we did?" They said, "Ummm...maybe." A few days later (it was during the Super Bowl actually, maybe Katy Perry inspired us?), we texted Todd (Laura's husband and Jeremy's bff) "This is not a joke...will you move to Nashville with us?" They also said, "Maybe...OK, probably." A week later I was there for business, and I secretly went neighborhood shopping and started researching. 

A month or so later, we told both sets of our parents over dinner. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Honestly I was shaking. But they were both super supportive. Amazingly supportive

A week later we drove there and shopped for houses...and found one on the very first day (we're under contract now). So much to absorb, right?? I can't tell you how difficult it has been to keep this a secret! 

What I said above probably makes it sound like the decision to move is 100% about Jeremy's career. And it is more about his career than mine, but not totally. I am also really excited to move and try something new in our life together. I've heard that moving away from family is hard, but it can also be really healthy for a married couple's relationship. And I LOVE Nashville. I've been about ten times in the last two years, and it's definitely a place we can see ourselves thriving.

Todd is also a musician, so it is a great opportunity for him and Laura too. And having Laura there with me will be so nice—we're house shopping in the same neighborhoods so we can help each other with photos and blog projects! 

Q: So, if Emma's not moving, how will your business be affected? 

A: Emma is not moving this year, but it's still an open conversation and possibility for the future. The main reason she doesn't want to move right now is that she is opening a bar in Springfield later this year with Trey and some friends (I'll let her tell you all about that another day). 

We've talked at length about how often we will see each other (still a LOT) and how we will run our business long distance. Honestly, once you get over the initial "isn't that a bad thing?" thoughts, it's really not that bad at all. There are TONS of successful businesses that are run by partners in different cities. We feel very confident that, if anything, this transition will make ABM stronger than ever! 

Obviously, I am going to miss working with Emma every day. And I am sure we will have some rough days, but since we travel so much for business, I'm not worried about how we'll sustain both our friendship and our work. 

The truth is that this past year wasn't our best. Working in the office and managing a bigger staff was very difficult and hurt our creative side at times. As we entered 2015 (before I knew I was moving), we were both planning to start working from home more in hopes of nurturing some of that creativity that was lost in the office-type atmosphere. We spent many days feeling like we spent all day helping other people do the (creative) jobs we wanted to be doing. It was a huge learning curve, and we learned that we don't actually want to own a giant Martha-Stewart-esque company. We want to stay relatively small, at least that's how we're feeling right now. 

So, the honest answer is—we are both a little sad, but very excited to see what the future holds. We really wanted to shake up our process for writing blog content and this provides a great opportunity! I feel like being apart will make us more intentional when we're together. We are not afraid. 

Q: You already found a house? Can we see it? 

A: I am planning to film a "before" video tour for you after our closing date in May. Stay tuned. I am SO EXCITED! We found a really unique house that will be a great home, workspace for me, and studio for Jeremy! (insert all the emojis here) 

I figured you would want to also hear from Emma and Laura, right? Here are their thoughts... 

Emma—When Elsie asked if Trey and I wanted to move to Nashville, my initial thought was, "Why?" That's not to say I don't love Nashville, I certainly do! It's such a fun city. But if you read my story on changing dreams, then you already know that for about three years after college I lived in Los Angeles. Moving back to Springfield, MO felt so defeating at first, but now I've come to think of it as the beginning of my current stage in life. My career started in Springfield. I got married to my best friend in Springfield. I bought my first house here. The list goes on. I sort of view my hometown as the launching pad for everything good that I've been blessed with during the last few years. It's hard to think about moving away from that (and don't even get me started on moving away from my parents and in-laws—what a bummer!). So, it just didn't really feel like the right move for me, for right now. But it's certainly not something that I would say, "Oh no, we'll NEVER move to Nashville." I mean, who knows the future? I don't!

But I could see the excitement in my sister's eyes the moment she told me. And I am also very proud of her for wanting to support her husband and his career. Jeremy is an exceptionally talented musician and he deserves every opportunity, so I completely see why Elsie wants to support him in this. To sum it up, it made no sense for me to move right now, but it made all the sense in the world for Elsie to. Given that we're a mostly Internet-based company, I see no problem with us working in different cities. We often work from the road already. But I won't lie, I was somewhat depressed for the first month after I heard the news. I love my sister, and I never really pictured us living in different cities. So I will miss the everyday things. But ultimately I will see her plenty when they come to visit (with both their parents here, I have a feeling that will be often), and we do travel together often for work. Bottom line—I am excited for this new chapter of our lives together even if we are a little farther apart geographically. :)

Laura—Can I just say up front that I may be more surprised than anyone else about us moving to Nashville this year? I mean, we actually almost moved there right before I started working here at ABM two years ago, but once I got this job, I didn't want to leave anymore because I loved it and didn't want to lose the opportunity. When I realized that we could both move and still do what I love doing, well, the whole landscape completely changed. Neither Todd nor I are from Springfield, so while we love the friends we have (and a few particular pizza and brunch spots), we never really thought we'd be here forever. Being from Pittsburgh, PA I really miss a lot of the cool events and spots that bigger cities have to offer, and I hated being a two day drive from all my family. Todd is a traveling musician (and an amazingly talented one at that) with a band called Mutemath, and we always planned on someday moving to a place like Nashville or Austin so Todd could get deeper into the music world and create opportunities that are really difficult to make happen from such a small town. We just had no idea that it could happen this year, so we were pretty shocked at first. (Not to mention that I just got my house the way I want it after 2 1/2 years of slow renovations—agh!!) It will be really hard to leave. We have over 12 years of memories from this place, but we are so excited for all the changes and new adventures to come!

Thank you, guys, for following along on this journey! We're so excited to share the changes that this year will bring. Feel free to ask us ANY questions you may have in the comments. Also we'll be hosting another live chat event on May 26th (check the Live Stream page for more details) so you can also come chat with us more then if you have questions. xx- Elsie

Vanilla pie with marbled meringue One recurring daydream I have is to open a pie shop somewhere remote. Like in an Appalachian hiking town or something. A small business that relies heavily on foot traffic doesn't really make sense in a remote area...but hey, guys, I said it was a daydream not the best business idea I've ever had, OK!? Geez.

I think the real desire behind this daydream is to be left undisturbed to bake and eat pie all day, which is more of a weird vacation idea than a life aspiration. 

Vanilla pie with marbled meringueVanilla pie with marbled meringue  But you know what I say? Never stop daydreaming. Especially if it's snack related. 

So this pie is all about creamy vanilla. Since I realized the pie was going to turn out so monochromatic, I decided to jazz up the meringue. It's SO easy. I'll tell you how below.

Best pie crust recipeVanilla Cream Pie with Marbled Meringue, makes one.

For the filling:
4 egg yolks
14 oz. (one can) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup whole milk (2% is OK too, but don't break my heart and ask about using skim milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon corn starch

For the meringue:
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon corn starch
5 tablespoons sugar
2-3 drops food coloring (I used red and yellow)

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter
3-4 tablespoons cold water

First make the crust. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and use a pastry blender or your clean hands to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture. It should look like small grains or pebbles. Then add in 3 tablespoons of cold water and try to press the dough into a ball. If the mixture seems too crumbly to stay in a ball, then add another tablespoon of cold water. Once a dough ball forms, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to three days. I usually make my pie crust a day or two ahead of time so it feels like less work on the day I make the pie. :)

Vanilla cream pieAllow the dough to soften a little before rolling it out. Spray or butter the bottom of your pie pan and add your rolled out crust. I like to have this ready before I start on the meringue or filling because you want to cook the crust almost fully before filling it. So preheat the oven to 350°F. Cook the crust for 6-8 minutes or until it just begins to brown. Then remove from the oven until you are ready for the filling.

Next make the meringue. Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, corn starch, and sugar until soft white, stiff peaks form. Divide into two or three bowls and add a drop or two of food coloring. Fold gently just to incorporate the color throughout. Meringue is all about the air that you incorporated into the eggs as you whipped them, so don't over mix them now, deflating your work. 

For the filling, in a pot combine the condensed milk, milk, vanilla and corn starch. Whisk over medium/low heat until warm. In another bowl add a few spoonfuls of the warm mixture to your egg yolks and stir. Then add a few more spoonfuls and repeat. The goal is to warm up the egg yolks so they won't cook too quickly once you add them to the pot. Once warmed, add the yolk mixture to the pot and continue to cook and whisk over medium/low heat until the mixture thickens into a custard. If your mixture thickens too quickly, it can form lumps. Try to whisk these back into a smooth custard, but if you have difficulty, simply strain through a fine mesh sieve before pouring into your pie crust.

Vanilla pie with marbled meringue    In a large pastry bag or ziplock bag with a corner cut off, spoon the meringue in alternating colors into the bag (yes, all into one bag). Pipe onto the hot filling. Then bake for 14-16 minutes until the meringue begins to brown on the peaks. Allow to cool before slicing and serving. Eat a slice of pie, daydream. You'll feel better. :) xo. Emma

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

What to keep stocked for quick & easy parties! www.abeautifulmess.comAs sad as it is to admit, some of the best parties that have happened in out house have been unplanned. I love the planning aspect and can spend a whole lazy evening on Pinterest looking at photos of novelty appetizers and fun cocktail recipes. I LOVE planning. 

With that said, most of the time our parties are impromptu! We love inviting people over, and it's a joke that we have guests staying at our house every other weekend (a joke that is sometimes true!).

After a particularly stressful quickie party a year ago (I'm talking thirty minutes to prepare a hang out for ten people starting with nothing), I learned to keep a few things on hand. A "just in case" stash if you will. 

Party foods you can keep on hand: 

Chocolate1. Fancy Chocolates. We love Askinosie (especially the ABM bar that we helped create!) and Vosges (especially the coconut ash & banana and bacon bars). I haven't tried Compartes, but I want to just based on the packaging! 

2. S'mores makings. Do you have a fireplace or fire pit where you can make s'mores? These ingredients are easy to keep on hand, and I love that this treat doubles as a fun activity for groups! 

3. Quick pasta. It's sometimes hard to gauge how much food to serve at a party, or what guests will be interested in eating. Quick pastas are a great backup plan. My other go-to (for Autumn parties) is chili because I can keep all the ingredients I need for a veggie chili in my cupboard. At one party I made a GIANT pot and the whole thing was gone in an hour. 

4. Special Ice Cream. My all-time favorite ice cream is Jeni's Brown Butter Almond Brittle, but I also love picking out a bunch of Ben & Jerry's flavors for a party. At one party I bought a bunch of pints from our local favorite Elle's. It's easy and who doesn't love ice cream?
*Bonus points if you keep chocolate syrup, maraschino cherries and sprinkles on hand. 

5. Nuts. Jeremy and I always keep lots of nuts in our house since it's one of our favorite snacks, and I think they're a great component for a quick, but beautiful, cheese tray. 

6. Fancy Crackers. We have a local wine shop where we love to shop for all things party related. One of my favorite things to buy a big variety of is fancy crackers. Since they come in all shapes, sizes and flavors, it's fun to get a variety, and they make a cheese plate look more legit. 

7. Cookies. There is much debate about tube cookies, but Emma and I both agree that they CAN be delicious. Tube cookies are a good back up plan too. One night we had friends over to watch The Bachelor, and I did fancy popcorn with tube cookies. It was perfect (I like chocolate chip, Emma likes the slice-and-bake with the pictures inside). I'm also a fan of Milano cookies for a quick, but pretty treat! 

8. Chocolate Fondue Fixins. Raise your hand if you hate fondue? (I see no hands raised.) Fondue is a great party food! Keeping the ingredients for a quick chocolate fondue is a great idea. I typically like it with fresh fruits, but you can also serve it with pretzels, marshmallows or little cake bites. 

9. Fancy Popcorn. OK, popcorn is one of my top 5 favorite foods. I know it's weird, but I love it so much that I can't enjoy the movie theater without it, and I am very bitter that a popcorn shop opened in our mall (too much temptation). I like to cook it with oil in a pot on the stovetop (old school just like my grandpa), and for parties my father-in-law gifted us a GIANT popcorn machine (think high school basketball game size) for Christmas one year! My favorite ways to "fancy up" popcorn (that you can keep in stock) are adding parmesan cheese and pepper, tossing it in truffle oil, or adding cinnamon and sugar. 

10. Olives. Buy olives in sealed jars and packages that you can keep for a while before opening. These make great treats all on their own, or you can mix them into a cheese spread. My husband is a HUGE olive lover, so an olive plate is always sure to please in our home. 

Party drinks you can keep on hand: 

Champagne, please? www.abeautifulmess.comOK, we're moving along to drinks and mixers. These are things that you can stock now and use for impromptu parties or date nights at home. Some of these ingredients are random, so I'll try to list off how I would use each one in multiple ways! 

1. Champagne and frozen fruit. For life's little celebrations! My favorite fruit to add to champagne is frozen raspberries, but any berries will do. I also love it with cranberry juice. During the holidays every year I make a few trays of champagne ice cubes and serve them with juice. It's really good (basically turns into a slushy!). 

2. Fun beer. Even if you're not a beer drinker (which my husband and I usually are not), it's good to keep a small stash for parties because there are a lot of people who only or mostly want to drink beer. Bonus points if you go to a special shop (most wine and liquor shops) and grab a random variety of beers that are either locally made or made around the world. That makes you look cool even if you know nothing about beer! 

3. Fruit juices (buy single serve bottles or cans). It's helpful to have a variety of juices on hand, and if you buy single serve bottles or cans, they can last you through several parties. I mostly keep cranberry (for any party), orange juice (for brunch parties) and grapefruit juice. 

4. Mixers (again, single serve bottles are most practical). We normally just keep tonic water (for gin + tonics, which for some reason is the go-to in our group of friends), ginger ale and ginger beer. Ginger ale is useful for mixing with liquor (like rum or whiskey) if you don't want to keep a ton of sodas in your home. Ginger beer is for Moscow Mules (another favorite in our circle of friends). Both ginger ale and ginger beer are great for making mocktails, which you always want to be prepared to do. Club Soda is also useful for making low calorie drinks. 

5. Wine. You don't have to keep a giant stash, but I always like to have a few extra bottles for bigger parties because you never know how many "wine people" are going to be there. It's nice because it's a self-serve thing too. If you're not a wine person, I would recommend getting a variety—a Moscato (sweet and easy to drink), a dry red wine and a dry white wine. I personally favor red wine, so we always have a little extra incase we run low on other things. 

6. Spirits. I wrote a giant post about stocking a bar cart last year that has a ton of information about the basic spirits and what you can make from them. These collections should last you a while, and I personally think they are really pretty too. I always keep in stock vodka, gin and whiskey (most common and easy to make cocktails with), a bottle of Scotch (It should last a while. If you've never bought Scotch, try Glenlivit 12 year (it's not crazy expensive and a lot of different Scotch drinkers like it). We also love Ron Zacapa, which is a rum that's really good served just with ice. 

The only rule I would really suggest when it comes to buying spirits is to stay away from flavored stuff until you have a good collection of basics built up since they are more versatile. 

7. Straws and swizzle sticks. Stock up on paper straws (I also buy them on Etsy) and fun garnishes like swizzle sticks. Or you can make your own! Wine glass markers are a good idea as well. 

8. Fancy ice cubes. It's straight up silly how impressed my guests are by our giant ice cubes and spheres. All you have to do is buy the trays and it's super easy to keep these around for parties. 

9. Syrups and bitters. These are fun to collect, they look cool in your home bar, and they last a long time. Most of my bitters are from Fee Brothers and Bittermens. I usually make my own syrups (super easy—learn how here, and then customize them with any flavor), but for pre-made syrups, my favorites are Bang Candy (plus their packaging is really pretty!). 

10. Kahlúa. Emma insisted I include Kahlúa for White Russians, The Cinnamon Girl and Bushwackers (which is basically a boozy milkshake, and according to Emma, "the ultimate hot tub drink"). Sounds fun for summer! 

Drinks to keep on hand www.abeautifulmess.com Now, these are just ideas. I don't actually keep every single one of these items in our home at all times (I'm not Martha Stewart...), but I do have enough to throw a pretty decent cocktail party on the fly, pop a bottle of champagne or make the yummiest popcorn ever!  

Cheers to those sneak-up-on-you surprise parties. They're usually the most fun. xx! Elsie 

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

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