Try This: Washi Tape Mirror Frame

Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror    Sometimes good things come out of being lazy. For example, I was trying to get our studio living room ready for its room tour (yay!), but our simple white mirror looked a bit dull against the plain white wall. I thought maybe it could benefit from some stripes, but the idea of pulling out all the paint and taping off the necessary areas sounded like a bit of a chore at the moment. Then I thought, "Hello! Washi tape!" and my stripe problem was solved. 

Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror  Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror   Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror
Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirrorOnce I wrapped the tape around the back side of the frame, I just used an X-Acto knife to trim the excess on the inside. If you're worried about the ends pulling up, just use a bit of glue to tack them down for good.

Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror     Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror      Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror       This mirror is definitely getting into the spirit of the rest of the room now! Bring on the color! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Sarah Rhodes & Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with Stella of the Signature Collection.

Creamy Garlic Mac & Cheese

My favorite mac and cheese recipe you can make in a crock potOh man, you guys. I LOVE macaroni and cheese. It's got to be one of the all time best comfort foods in the world. It makes sense that it tends to be a kid's menu favorite. Kids know what's up when it comes to macaroni and cheese. 

You'll notice that this particular macaroni and cheese is made in a slow cooker. Although my slow cooker doesn't appear to be turned on. 


Guys, it's not witchcraft. Everyone calm down. After this was done cooking, I unplugged my slower cooker and moved it by a window to take this photo because my kitchen was super dark. It was raining outside, which made it the best time to eat some mac and cheese.

Best slower cooker mac and cheese This mac and cheese is thick, creamy, super garlicky and so good. You'll eat so much, you'll end up needing a nap afterward. You have been warned. 

Secret ingredient for creamy mac and cheeseCreamy Garlic Mac & Cheese, serves 5-6.

16 oz. macaroni noodles
4 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
4 oz. cream cheese
3 cups whole milk
2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, colby jack, or a mixture)
2 eggs
salt + pepper
chives to serve with (optional)

Cook the noodles according to the package directions for al dente. You really want the noodles to be slightly undercooked (as opposed to overcooked) because they will absorb more moisture while they cook in the slow cooker.

Slower cooker macaroni and cheeseIn a large sauce pan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Now add the cream cheese, 2 cups of the milk and the shredded cheese. Stir until well combined and the cheese begins to melt. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and remaining 1 cup of milk. Add a little bit of the hot, cheesy liquid to this bowl and stir. This will help to temper the eggs so they don't cook too quickly. 

Now add everything to a slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Give it a stir. Place the lid on top and cook on low for 1 hour.

Best slower cooker mac and cheese  While that cooks, you could steam some broccoli to serve alongside this and make yourself feel better about all the cheese and carbs you're about to consume. Also, steamed broccoli is delicious. Top with chives and maybe a little more pepper. If you have leftovers, warm them up the next day for lunch. Don't waste good mac and cheese!!!! xo. Emma

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

Tips for a Shared Kids' Room

Shared Room TipsOur oldest son has had to share his room with his little sister ever since she arrived on the scene almost five years and two houses ago. We have had a few different furniture arrangements between cribs, twin beds, and now a bunkbed as their needs and room sizes have changed. We have also switched their room decor from vintage-inspired to something more modern, but have always managed to make it a fun space that reflects each of their personalities whilst feeling as cohesive as possible.

It's a little tricky making one space work for both a boy and a girl, but I love a good design challenge. Below I've shared a few things I've learned along the way.

Gender Neutral Shared Boy Girl Room1. Design with each of them in mind.

I've already shared how I won my battle with the dark built-ins in a tutorial here. I wanted to use this space as a way to display their stuff without it turning into an eyesore. One of the ways I was able to keep it both interesting and gender neutral was by using pattern and color instead of relying on a theme.

I repeated the same geometric-style theme and colors elsewhere in the room in strong amounts but left the rest in smaller doses. You'll notice a lot of black, white, and yellow tones. However, Ruby's handmade quilt also has plenty of pink, red, aqua, and green in it. I also chose to display items that belonged to each of them that fit within the black, white, and yellowish color scheme. Sebastian's black Darth Vader clock is displayed alongside Ruby's yellow stuffed elephant. Decorating with belongings within your chosen color palette allows the room to be both personal and cohesive.

Wall Decor in Kids' Shared RoomOrganize and Stash2. Aesthetically pleasing storage is important.

The loud and proud pink princess accessories are contained in the coordinating yellow bins in the bookshelf, and Sebastian's primary color lego pieces are neatly stashed in clear plastic tubs hidden under the bottom bunk. Stuffed animals live in a large coiled basket and larger toys are stashed in their shared closet. Their possessions each have a home where they can be easily accessed and that look lovely when their room is picked up. I can make no promises for an aesthetically pleasing space halfway through a play date though. 

Special TouchesSave Space When You Can3. Give them their own special spaces.

Ruby spends a lot more time in their shared room because Sebastian's in school, so it's usually just her stuff spread all over the floor at the end of the day. I knew Sebastian needed a place to put his lego creations once he was done building them with the peace of mind that his little sister wouldn't break them apart during a feisty round of pet shop.

I moved all of the out-of-season linens and board games out of the built-ins in their closet and stored them elsewhere so that Sebastian would have a place to display his many creations. It's a little dark in there, so I also added a battery powered LED light from Ikea so he can see even with the door closed. He said it feels like a secret fort and loves knowing they won't be smashed. Ruby and I love that we aren't stepping on legos all day. 

Shared Kids' Room4. Utilize furniture that is multifunctional.

Put your stuff to work! Not only is the furniture in the kids' room appropriate for their age, it'll still be useful a few years down the road barring it's still in good condition. The shared dresser used to belong in our bedroom but is now split between the two kids. The Ikea shelving unit holds toys and books but might also one day hold Sebastian's budding record collection. The bean bag is an easy spot to lay a squirmy baby but also useful for when the kids have friends over. The coiled basket full of stuffed animals will someday hold all of their dirty laundry. The bunk bed will be used in one of their own rooms purely for sleepovers when they no longer share a space. 

The point is, that having multifunctional items will help save you money when you transition spaces. Think about what your kids' needs are at the moment and what they will be in the next two years. They grow so quickly that sometimes it's more practical to save a little on the items that won't stick around long and splurge on those that will. 

Art Wall 5. Involve them in customizing their room.

I like to give my kids controlled choices. I really wanted them to feel like they had a part in decorating their shared room without handing over the reigns completely. Part of this was to keep it from becoming a battle over how much Captain America was too much Captain America and whether or not it was fair to have a pink floral rug in an eight-year-old boy's room.

For example, I asked them to create some art for the art wall but limited their color choices to black, yellow, or shades of blue so that whatever they created would be cohesive with the rest of the room's design. Ruby made a fun abstract painting and Sebastian drew a battle scene of some Star Wars legos. I mixed those in with a photo of all three kids, enlarged a photobooth picture from a few years ago of the older two, and made a fun felt pennant utilizing one of Ruby's favorite sayings. They love to show off their work to any company that come over, and I love that this was a joint(ish) effort.

Personal CollectionsWe're actually moving soon to a house where Sebastian will get his own room and Ruby and Smith will eventually share once he's moved out of our room, so I'll be referring back to my own tips in a few weeks! What have you learned about decorating a shared room? -Rachel

Credits//Author: Rachel Denbow. Photographer: Rachel Denbow and Heather Gray. Most photos edited with The Signature Collection.

Try This: Transform Kiddo Scribbles into Modern Art

Transform your kid's scribbles into modern art— so fun and easy!If you've ever tried your hand at creating abstract art, you may have wished you could just turn off your brain and get your Crayola on like a kid again. Been there! But amidst my frustration, I had a fun idea. Why not actually get some markers and let Lucy do just that?

I'd love some fancy modern art for my walls, and would love it even more if my toddler created it. So I set her loose with some washable markers, and then worked a little copy machine magic to transform her scribbles into modern art.

Transform your kid's scribbles into modern art— so fun and easy!Okay, so here's how the art making process went down. I dragged Lucy's play table into the dining room (where the light is prettier), and she started getting really excited. Something special was going to happen, she just knew it. More like something magical really. Magic markers, you see. Why are these markers magic? Well... I've never thought about it until I started typing it out. Maybe because they're amazingly washable? I basically let Lucy go to town on several pieces of cardstock, black marker getting on herself and the table in the process. She became a little concerned about the marker on her hands and table, but we wiped it all down, and it magically disappeared. So that's why they're called magic markers! Good to know. (First time mom here, obviously.)

Transform your kid's scribbles into modern art— so fun and easy!Transform your kid's scribbles into modern art— so fun and easy!Lucy is two years old and finally interested in making art. When I gave her the paper, she excitedly sat down and then thought about what she was going to do for a second. It was hilarious to watch. She would slowly move her marker, then quickly begin to scribble, then make dotted marks, à la Georges Seurat. She's obviously going to be a famous painter one day.

Transform your kid's scribbles into modern art— so fun and easy!Transform your kid's scribbles into modern art— so fun and easy!Transform your kid's scribbles into modern art— so fun and easy!When Lucy was finished, I chose my favorite of her scribble sheets and did a little copy machine trickery. Using my Canon printer, I blew up the portion of the page I liked most, then took it to a copy shop to have it enlarged to fit an Ikea frame I had on hand. I also inverted the colors for extra drama. The other pink and orange piece was made with some Photoshop layer magic— the orange layer used the "lighten" blend mode over top of the pink layer, which used the "multiply" blend mode. But if you want to do something similar, the look could easily be replicated by using colored markers and cardstock.

Transform your kid's scribbles into modern art— so fun and easy!Transform your kid's scribbles into modern art— so fun and easy!Pretty fun, huh? I might try making more fun colors and giving small prints of them to family for Christmas. Of course, I'll keep the originals because they might be worth lots of money one day. -Mandi

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

Apple Pecan Pies

Apple pecan pies from A Beautiful Mess  This recipe combines two of my favorite autumn treats: pecan pie and apples. Pecan pie is possibly one of the more decadent pies you can eat, while apples are totally healthy (you know, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," that whole thing). So, it's basically one of those really odd couples you see and think, "Really, those two?" But somehow it makes sense.

Apple pecan pies from A Beautiful MessOh, you never see opposite looking couples and think anything of it? Well, aren't you just a better person than me.

Answer: Yes. Clearly you are.

But hey, I make treats. So... at least I'm contributing to the world via sugar... uh...

Pecan pie fillingApple Pecan Pies, makes 4-5 servings.

2-3 apples (any variety, but firmer apples that hold up well when baked work best)
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

In a pot, combine the butter, sugar, and corn syrup. Stir over medium heat until combined, then increase the heat to bring to a boil. Allow to boil (a low, steady boil) for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans and vanilla extract. Let that cool while you prep the apples.

Easy baked applesI cut the apples in half, then used a melon baller to scoop out the insides. Be sure to leave enough apple so it will keep its shape and serve as a sturdy "crust." What do you do with those apple insides? Up to you, but might I suggest making applesauce

As I was prepping the apples, I would place a finished one in a big bowl of water before starting the next. This helps them not to turn brown while you work.

Once the apples are ready, go back to the filling. It should be cooler now. Stir in the egg and pour into each apple shell. I probably could have filled five shells, but I only did four and had a little filling left over. This will vary based on your apple size. 

Bake at 350°F for 35-38 minutes. Allow to cool before eating.

Apple pecan pies from A Beautiful Mess Serve with ice cream. Eat while sitting in a pile of autumn leaves. Wear a stocking cap. Start thinking about holiday shopping. 

OK, those last three suggestions are optional. But not the ice cream. xo. Emma

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

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