Caramel Dreamin' Wishlist

The fall leaves are starting to drop, and we've got dreams of caramel apples, cozy sweaters, and warm mugs of tea on the brain. We've teamed up with Werther's Original to create a caramel-themed wish list for you all—in case you're feeling like us. :) They've put out this cute quiz that you can take to see which caramel flavors match your personality. From their Classic Hard Caramels to the Caramel Apple Filled Caramels, there's a flavor for everyone! When I took the quiz, I got Werther's Original Caramel Popcorn, which is perfect because I love the salty mixed with sweet flavor combination! 

1. The easiest ever caramel apples made with Werther's Original Chewy Caramels. Check our IG for a quick how-to in case you want to make your own. 
2. Cozy turtleneck sweater
3. Warm AND cute gloves
4. A delicious smelling candle
5. Pom pom stocking cap for the win (see how to make your own stocking cap)
6. A roomy and stylish backpack
7. Classic Dr.Marten boots for all you 90s lovers (You can't see it, but I'm raising my hand.)
8. Snug throw blankets
9. OMG this coat is too cool!
10. Love, love these mugs bc you can never have too many mugs

What about you? Do you have anything on your wish list this season? xo. Emma

Credits // Author, Photography, and design: Emma Chapman. Images from sources linked throughout. 

Mid-Century Modern Planter with gold legs... and it's a DIY!!!  As I've posted house photos and room tours this past year, one of the biggest requests we hear from you guys over and over again is the cry for affordable mid-century inspired decor! 

These plant stands are affordable, doable and super pretty! The pots themselves come in a huge variety of sizes via Amazon (the 12 inch ones we used are here). I've used the smaller sizes a lot throughout our home, like on our kitchen shelves! 

Anyway! I hope you guys enjoy this project. Here are the DIY instructions! 

_MG_1533 copy
-2 pieces of wood 1' x 2" x  3/4"
-4 1" square pieces of wood (cut to whatever length you want your plant stand to be) 
-countersink drill bit
-tape measurer
-wood filler
-sanding sponge 
-white paint
-gold leaf paint

_MG_1535 copyStep One: Start by determining what size you want your stand to be (this will be based on what planter you're going to be using with it). Measure the bottom width of your planter and add an extra 2" to that measurement. Cut your 2" x 3/4" pieces of wood to that length. Next, mark a 3/4" notch in the middle of both pieces of wood with a pencil and use your jigsaw to cut out the pieces. These two pieces will connect later and create the base of your plant stand.

_MG_1541 copy_MG_1541 copyStep Two: Drill two holes below that line in each leg with a countersink drill bit. Next, take your legs one at a time and hold them up to your 2" x 3/4" pieces of wood but make sure the 2 inches you marked with a pencil are hanging over the top. Then screw your legs to your base pieces with one leg on opposite sides of each piece of wood.

_MG_1545 copy_MG_1545 copyStep Three: Next, line up the notches you created earlier to connect your two base pieces together. Attach the pieces by drilling a hole through the bottom of them and use a screw to secure.

_MG_1551 copyStep Four: Lastly, give your planter a light sand with a sanding sponge, and then it's ready to paint!

_MG_1551 copyFor an extra touch, you can tape off the bottom few inches of each leg and paint the sections gold for a "dipped" look. Let the paint fully dry, and you're done!

Mid-Century Modern Planter with gold legs... and it's a DIY!!! Mid-Century Modern Planter with gold legs... and it's a DIY!!! Mid-Century Modern Planter with gold legs... and it's a DIY!!! If you guys make your own set, PLEASE share them with us on Instagram with #ABMathome Love you guys! xoxo! Elsie 

Note: While making this post, we were training Collin on writing DIYs. Please leave him a little thumbs up or high five if you like this post!!!! :) 

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Project and Photography: Collin DuPree. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions.

Should I insure my equipmentHello, friends. Time for another round of Blog Q&A! Although today's question could easily apply to bloggers as well as many small business owners. If you want to see the past questions and answers from this series, here is our archive of blogging advice. Today's question came from the comments section of our blog:

"I know it's an individual choice, but does ABM normally insure their photography equipment when you buy it? Have you found that you need it due to such heavy use of the equipment on your blog? Thanks so much!"

There are lots of different ways to approach the concern here (protecting equipment used for business), and I'm pretty excited to see if others have thoughts. Our company, like all small businesses, is unique, and the challenges we face are probably not exactly the same as everyone else. So, know that I am approaching this question from my perspective, but I'm also hoping to just give you some things to think about knowing that your situation may be quite different. 

Here are a few questions I would ask anyone who is considering insuring their business-related equipment. Also, when I say business-related equipment, I'm referring to smaller priced items like DSLR cameras or laptops, not necessarily company cars or larger priced items like that. But we'll talk a bit more on that at the end. 

What kind of business are you running? 

I am sort of getting at two things here. First, if your business is somewhat similar to A Beautiful Mess—a blogger, content creator, lifestyle based company—then first I would just question what items are truly necessary for business functions. If you are in the beginning stages of your business, whatever you do, it might also be a good time to think about making sure you have all your business files set up and you are official with the federal and your state government (possibly your county too if you need certain licenses or other business documents). I bring this up because as soon as you establish your business, you should seek to get liability insurance, also sometimes called commercial general business liability insurance. This does not protect your business from EVERYTHING, just many of the big, bankruptcy type fears. I know, fun stuff to think about. :) 

You will likely need to find an insurance broker or agent that you trust and feel confident working with in order to get this set up. Just as a quick note, a broker can quote you insurance from multiple companies while an agent generally works with just one company. We work with brokers most of the time, but the most important thing is to find someone you feel confident working with. That way when something does arise in your business, you can ask them lots of questions and get things sorted quickly. Now, the liability insurance will probably not cover damaged property like a camera. It's possible, but I know ours does not. So I would ask your broker their thoughts on coverage for any specific equipment your business might own or what they feel is the best way to protect your needed equipment in case something should happen to it. If possible, get a few quotes and make sure you pay attention to what it truly covers. Many policies will not cover "wear and tear" type issues but may cover equipment if it's lost, stolen, etc. Take note of any deductibles as well since we're thinking about lower priced items. If your deductible is high enough that you might as well buy a new camera, then it may not be worth it. 

What about warranties or other coverage? 

Insurance companies are not the only entities that can help you if your equipment gets damaged. They are a good option that you should explore (get those quotes!), but exploring a few other options might prove more cost effective. Most manufacturers offer some kind of warranty, so make sure when you are getting ready to buy that you take note of this. Often it will cover certain types of damages and not others, and it may only be for a set limit (1 year, 2 years, etc.). In order to take advantage of the warranty, you sometimes have to register your equipment or at least save the original purchase documents so you can prove how long you've owned it. File these with your other business papers. I recommend a file cabinet from here (they are so cute! makes business filing at least a little fun). 

When shopping, it's good to also check into other, extended warranty options that sellers may be offering. Just as an example, if you purchase your camera equipment from Best Buy, they offer a protection plan (additional cost at time of purchase) that can last up to four years and cover all sorts of damage. If you use your camera often, like we do for work, then this might be the most cost effective option. So no matter where you plan to buy, before you do, see if they offer additional protection warranties, how much they cost, and what all they cover. And be sure to save your paperwork/receipts to take advantage of the plan should you need. And just to be 100% clear, I am just using Best Buy as an example because I have a photographer friend who told me about their plan, and when I looked into it, it did seem really worthwhile. This is not sponsored or an affiliate of any kind, just something I've seen that could be useful to you, but do some research and see what you think. Go look into options in your area for what might work best for you. 

The bottom line: make sure you are covered in some way, but I'd research insurance vs. warranty options before investing in either. 

Also, one more quick note regarding business equipment: consider depreciation rates for your business taxes. Typically any equipment over $2500 will be depreciated over years if you plan to use it during that time for business. We use an accountant for our business taxes, so if you do too, then ask them how this works or at the very least make them aware when do you buy equipment that could fall within this range. It could be that the camera equipment you use doesn't quite fall into this range, but larger ticket items certainly could. So I figured I'd at least mention it. 

Insurance, warranties, taxes—oh my! That was a fun one, huh? :) What about you guys? Any other small business owners out there who have more thoughts on insuring equipment? xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Elsie Larson. Image Design: Mara Dockery.

Easy Tips for Redecorating a RoomDo you ever find yourself noticing the widening gap between the home you want versus the home you have? Life happens, and like most people, I just don't have the mental space or physical dollars to think about the decor situation in my home—until it's late at night and I'm scrolling through my Pinterest feed pining for change. But then I wake up, and my baby's diaper is also pining for change, as are the sheets on the bed, the dirty dishes in the sink... you feel me!

This year I've been very aware of my decor restlessness, but also mindful of our family's goal to move to a new home in the next couple of years, which has made me reluctant to put any of our precious money into changing anything about our current space. But then I decided. Let's just make a few changes that would make a big impact in the enjoyment of our home while we're still here, and maybe we end up a couple of months behind on our goal to move. No biggie, right? Actually it was a big biggie... because we are so happy with how relaxing and cohesive our home feels now, and I'm tickled pink—like, actual pink—that beneath my tootsies is a gorgeous pink shag rug that makes me happy every single day! No regrets.

Revamping the decor in your space can be pretty daunting, especially if it's something you haven't worked on in quite some time. So let's talk a little bit about how I prioritized items in our living room refresh and how you can make big impact changes without spending a lot of money.


If you have a lot of things that you want to change about your space, think about breaking it up into two stages—one being the bones of the space and the other being the decorative details. What I'm sharing with you today is actually part two of fixing up our living room. The first part happened two years ago when we bought a sectional and installed the built-in office behind the sofa. At the time, we didn't think too much about the decorative details because we couldn't spend the money on it. So, much of what you see in the before pictures above was second-hand items, like thrifted art and hand-me-down furniture. They were placeholders that we liked enough to use before we were able to spend money on the things that we really wanted for the space.

When you're ready to pay attention to all of the decorative details in your space, the cost can certainly add up. Here are some suggestions that can save you money.

Sell Your Stuff
Clear out everything in your home that you don't love and don't need. Determine what you could sell for a good price and list it on Craigslist, eBay, or post it to your social media channels. I often will post something I'd like to sell on Facebook first and usually will get the asking price from a friend, without having to worry about shipping or having a stranger come to my house. In addition to selling your nicer things, have a garage sale (invite friends to contribute and also help with the sale) to get rid of everything else. Anything that doesn't sell—donate. You don't want that stuff back into your house cramping your style. Believe me.

Slipcover Your Furniture
I had been engaged in a love/hate relationship with our sofa for quite some time. It was perfect for the space, giving us the most seating for the area and separating the office from the other side of the room. But I've never been a fan of how "Ikea" it looked (because, well, it's from Ikea), and I've never loved the medium cool gray color. Obviously we weren't in the market for a new sofa, but I was able to completely change the look of it with an Ikea replacement slipcover made specifically for the Karlstad sectional, which Ikea no longer makes. I got my slipcover from Comfort Works, which is a company that specializes in Ikea and Pottery Barn slipcovers, but they make custom slipcovers as well. Slipcovers are so much more practical and environmentally responsible than buying new furniture for aesthetic reasons!

Host a Swap Party
My friends have had swap parties to get rid of clothes and accessories they no longer wear, but why not host a swap party for home goods? I know I'd love to shop my friends' home accessories that they're either tired of or no longer have room for in their own homes. So invite friends (preferably who share a similar style to you) to your home to bring some of the nicer things they'd like to get rid of, and swap with each other to get some new stuff for free.

Shop Thrift Stores, Flea Markets, Garage Sales, and Craigslist
It's easy to find a lot of stuff to love at your favorite home decorating stores, but it's more fun (and thrilling) to find unique treasures secondhand. Plus, it's usually so much less expensive. Mixing in secondhand or antique pieces is also a great way to build character into a space. If everything is new, it just seems to lack personality. Think of the difference between a room pictured in a catalog versus a room in your favorite home decorating magazine. Most likely the spaces you prefer are filled with things that have been collected over time, which is why redecorating is a process and not usually an event.

Make a Wish List
I always feel so uncomfortable when family members ask me what I'd like for Christmas or my birthday. But some people really stress out about gift giving, and because of their practical personalities would really love to give you something they know you'll use. The curtains in our home are actually Christmas gifts from family members who knew we wanted nice drapes but didn't have the money to spend on them.


As you can see, our living room serves so many purposes, and because of that, I wanted to focus the decor direction a bit to make it less eclectic and calmer. This space functions as our office, playroom, and sole living room. The only other rooms in our house are for bathing, sleeping, or eating. We have no den, basement, or "sitting room" to either exile our clutter to or escape from it. We desired organization and a calm style for our living room, which led me towards more subtle and neutral items in this revamp. Everyone's home is different, as is their personal style, but here are some objectives that I focused on which I knew would make a big impact in our living room.

Easy Tips for Redecorating a RoomEasy Tips for Redecorating a Room1. Consider a Cohesive Theme

In general, I don't do "themes" in a room (such as a beach theme or even simply a color scheme), but I definitely needed to decide what direction this room was taking, because while having a patterned rug, colorful pillows and furniture, and lots of busy artwork on the walls might work somewhere else, it was making this room feel chaotic. Narrowing down the colors in this space helped it feel calmer and more put-together. 

My desire for a calm and bright space, in addition to the small windows and our heavily wooded yard, led me to want mostly light colored objects for the furniture and walls (including curtains). We have a desk that's very visible, but it being all white helps it fade into the background, and lightening the sofa color made for less contrast, creating a more soothing view. I decided I would use mostly light colors with a base of white, lots of neutrals, and accents of orange and dusty pink, without too much contrast in their varying shades. This decision to focus the colors and reduce contrast made such a huge impact in this space!

Easy Tips for Redecorating a Room2. Reduce Visual Clutter

In addition to incorporating a more cohesive color scheme, I wanted to calm the space a bit more by decreasing some of the visual clutter. I thought the busy wall art, patterned rugs, wire-storage baskets, and gallery wall was all a bit too much for this space. So I sold some things and moved others to different spaces in our home. I swapped out the gallery wall for more wall shelves, which in combination with the TV cabinet, created a media center and a much-needed visual anchor in the room. I kept these shelves looking pretty neutral by choosing to store light-colored books on this side of the room, and darker books on the other side. Rather than selling or donating my old textbooks, I turned their spines to the wall and used them as decorative shelf-filler until my record collection grows vast enough to fill that entire shelf.

I still have a bit of a gallery wall in this room, but it takes up much less space visually, and isn't so busy with lots of color and pattern. This mini gallery is a great space to display some of our family's personality and also my kiddo's art projects. I'm not opposed to gallery walls, but I am more drawn to large, oversized art for this room because it is helpful to anchor zones in the space, while multiple smaller pieces were adding to the disjointed feel that had bothered me about this space before. And much like gallery walls, I love patterned rugs but just not in this room. A light, dusty pink rug still makes a statement, but anchors the seating area rather than adding to the visual clutter.

Easy Tips for Redecorating a RoomEasy Tips for Redecorating a RoomEasy Tips for Redecorating a RoomEasy Tips for Redecorating a Room3. Incorporate Stylish Storage Solutions

Focusing the color scheme and style of your space certainly helps tone down the visual clutter, but we all have actual clutter too, right? Or maybe that's just me. Nah, it's totally just my kids. Incorporating lots of nice-looking storage pieces was a high priority for this room. Our wall-mounted desk system is actually just a series of Ikea kitchen cabinets, so there's plenty of storage on that wall. I also made this long storage cabinet to organize toys behind our sofa, which also acts as a sofa table for drinks and snacks. The vintage sideboard that serves as the base of our media center holds the electronics and movies you might expect, but also extra blankets, extension cords and cables, and other household items in its drawers.

Another opportunity for me to reduce visual clutter was with what toys I allow into our living room. Just using the word "allow" might make you cringe, but if I'm going to put a play kitchen set and doll toys in our living room, I don't want them to be neon colored plastic monstrosities covered in garish stickers. I was able to find these nice-looking wooden items at garage sales and antique malls and added an on-theme curtain to cover the baskets of food toys that are stored beneath the kitchen "sink". Of course we also have plastic toys that beep and ding and are covered in stickers, but they don't sit out all the time, and are kept neatly stored away in the cabinet behind the sofa. I put more of an effort into the style and appearance of the larger toys that have become fixtures in our living room, and I think it makes such a big difference!

Easy Tips for Redecorating a RoomEasy Tips for Redecorating a RoomEasy Tips for Redecorating a Room4. Incorporate Layers and Texture with Decorative Accents

I didn't want a lot of color and contrast in this space, but I definitely didn't want the space to feel empty and cold. So I considered elements that would incorporate layers and texture to the room, warming it up and adding interest without adding clutter. For me, that meant choosing decorative items that might be more neutral, but very textural in their material—such as my pink rug, which blends looped jute fibers with shaggy pink fibers, a beige throw blanket with rows of fringe, knit, linen, and furry pillows, and ivory knit poufs that not only add interest, but also additional seating.

Another way to add life and texture to a space is to add houseplants. I've always enjoyed taking care of houseplants in other rooms of my home, but because this room also functions as a play room, I had really been hesitant to keep them in here too. I'm so glad I decided to move so much greenery into our living room finally, because wow—what a difference it makes! The girls have learned how to nicely touch the leaves and not dig in the dirt, and these plants really add a missing element of life and texture that this space needed.

Easy Tips for Redecorating a RoomEasy Tips for Redecorating a Room

While keeping in mind all of these goals, I did change very specific elements in the room, and figured it might be useful to list them all below:

Easy Tips for Redecorating a RoomThe itch for change and the creeping dissatisfaction with things can certainly be a slippery slope in my life. I do enjoy being in our home more now than I did before the living room revamp, but I really try to focus my brainpower on keeping the main thing the main thing—and that is the life that happens in these walls. (And I'm not just talking about my houseplants.) As cheesy as my words may be to read, it's so helpful to remember what's important and what you're grateful for when feelings of envy and discontentment come into your mind. Every day I remind myself of what I really treasure, and I gotta say, it's not my coffee table... as rad as it might be. -Mandi

Credits //Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions.

Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding (via think my love of rice pudding started sometime in early 2008. I had recently graduated college and moved across the country to Los Angeles. Before that, I had probably seen rice pudding in those little, plastic cups in the refrigerated area of grocery stores, but in my mind it was just like green jello—something you might get served at your grandmother's house or a hospital.

(Apologies if you love green jello.)

I'm really glad I came around to it though because I seriously LOVE rice pudding. Yes, it has a kind of strange texture for a pudding. Usually I think of pudding as something super smooth and creamy like ice cream. But rice pudding is more like tapioca pudding; it's got some texture to it, but I find that this makes it all the more interesting. 

But if tapioca pudding conjures up more thoughts of hospitals for you, then forget I said anything. Because rice pudding is seriously where it is at! And this recipe adds some of my favorite fall flavors to the mix. Try this soon—I promise you'll love it (bonus points because it's incredibly easy to make!).

Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding (via   Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding (via  Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding, makes 4-6 servings

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Arborio rice
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup cream (half and half works well, heavy whipping would be even more decadent)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
whipped cream for serving, optional

In a medium size pot over low heat, combine the milk, cream, and vanilla extract. Keep warmed but not so hot that the mixture develops a skin, because ew. 

Rice pudding recipeIn another medium to large size pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the rice and stir in with the butter until the rice begins to turn translucent. Then slowly begin adding the milk mixture to the rice pot, stirring as you cook to incorporate the liquid and cook the rice. Once most of the liquid has absorbed, add more milk to the pot. It should take you about 30 minutes to add all the liquid and for the rice to be nearly cooked through (test by eating a piece and checking for doneness). This is basically the same method as making risotto, another favorite dish of mine. 

Wait, do I just really love rice? Or maybe I just really love carbs. :)

Then stir the pumpkin, spices, sugar, and maple syrup in with the rice pudding. Cook until everything is warmed through and well mixed together. 

How to make rice puddingAlthough this rice pudding recipe isn't overly sweet, I would still consider this more of a sweet snack or dessert option since it's quite rich from all the cream. If you are serving it as dessert, I highly recommend topping it with whipped cream. It begins to taste just like pumpkin pie to me at that point since I always top pumpkin pie with whipped cream. 

I like this recipe warm, as it just feels right for the season. But cold rice pudding is excellent as well. You can store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, probably longer, but mine never lasts that long. 

Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding (via A few notes:

-You can easily cut this recipe in half if you don't want to make 4-6 servings. If you do, I would recommend tasting and possibly adding more of the spices as cutting them in half, even for half the amount of overall rice pudding might make them taste too faint. So, just check and add a bit more if needed. 

-You can swap out the Arborio rice for brown rice or even black rice to add a bit more nutrition. You may want to increase the liquid a little (about 2 tablespoons) if you do. You can also swap out the butter for vegan butter, and the milk and cream for soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk. Some of these will result in a less creamy consistency, but if you can't have dairy, it's still really yummy. I shared a black rice pudding recipe made with coconut milk earlier this year. So check that out to see how things might translate. 

Make a big, warm bowl of this soon and enjoy it curled up with a good book—especially if it's rainy or when it starts to threaten to snow here in another few months! Cozy times. xo. Emma

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


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