Create your own phases of the moon garden with oven bake clay. Get the full tutorial on www.ABeautifulMess.comThere's something pretty mysterious and powerful about the moon. It affects the tides, helps us mark the passing of time, and has inspired all kinds of poetry. It's also pretty gorgeous no matter how full it is. Sometimes you need a reason to make and celebrate something, and other times you just like how it looks and that's good enough. Enter the phases of the moon garland. It's made from oven bake clay and is an easy afternoon project to add a little more hippy vibe to your space. 

Clay phases of the moon wall hanging
SuppliesSupplies:
-3 small packages of oven bake clay in one or two shades. I used a white and a light grey with a touch of sparkle to it for a marbled moon effect. 
-parchment paper
-rolling pin 
-jar lid or circular cookie cutter
-cotton twine
-skewer for poking holes
-metallic paint and paintbrush
-access to an oven
-6" copper pipe (optional)
-pipe cutter (optional)

Note: When using oven bake clay, be aware that you should keep parchment paper in between any surfaces that you also use for food items such as cookie sheets, rolling pins, etc. Do not use cookie cutters on cookies after having used on oven bake clay. Safety first!

Step2Roll your clay between two sheets of parchment paper with your rolling pin for a smooth surface that is between 1/4" and 1/3" thick. I marbled my clay with two different colors for a subtle moon effect. For tips on getting a marbled look, check out Laura's tutorial here

Using your jar lid, cut out seven moon shapes. 

Cut Your MoonsLeave one alone and then lay the rest out in pairs. For the first set nearest the full moon, use your jar lid to cut into it just about 1/4 of the way. You can always cut off the same side on both sets and flip it later because you want them to be opposites for an accurate waxing and waning effect.

For the next set, cut into it almost 1/2 way. Then for the last set, cut into it about 2/3 of the way. You can save your excess clay for any mess up moons that you might need to remake.

Punch and PaintTurn on your oven according to manufacturer's instructions. Use your skewer to poke holes through each moon as shown. You don't want to poke too close to any edges, so start with your thinnest moons first and do your best to keep your two holes aligned so they'll hang straight. Be sure your holes goes all the way through. 

Place them in the oven according to manufacturer's instructions on top of parchment paper and a cookie sheet. Once they're done baking, let them cool and then paint the edges gold. Let them dry before moving to the next step.

Knot Each Top HoleCut your twine and thread it through your clay moons. Be gentle as you go so you don't have to rebake any more moons! Be aware of the position they are facing as you thread them for an accurate waxing and waning effect. To keep them from sliding around on your twine, tie a knot on the back side of one hole per moon. 

String TogetherI wanted to add a little copper pipe to my moon garland so I cut some 1/4" piping with my pipe cutter and threaded each end through before tying a knot. 

Tie Your Copper Ends and Trim CordThen I trimmed  the twine at my knot before finding a place to hang it. 

Phases of the moon 2It could easily be used as a science project for any kids learning about the moon or as fun decor for a space-themed room. 

Clay phases of the moon wall hangingThree cheers for the moon and all of its importance! Also, can we give a hand to all the things you can make out of oven bake clay? -Rachel

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

Sister StyleMany of you have asked how we're coping with my upcoming move. I'm not going to lie—we're up and down. On one hand, it's easier for us than most sisters/business partners because we travel together for work quite a bit. And we're planning to travel even more in 2016 for various projects we're involved with. So we're not so much scared of missing each other as we are just afraid of the unknown. And yes, we're nervous. We've never worked remotely for a long period of time, so we're about to enter new territory! 

Optimism is a driving force in our company. It always has been, and I will credit a lot of our successes to it. It's a daily choice whether to look at the positive or negative and whether to be driven by fear or excited by possibilities. 

Sister Style Sister Style Elsie's wearing: T-shirt/5 Pound Apparel, Skirt/Chicwish, Sandals c/o Modcloth, Sunnies/Wildfox

Sister Style   Emma's wearing: Dress/UO, Shoes/ASOS, Jacket/Express (couple seasons ago).

Sister Style    To sum it up, we're feeling all the feelings. Scared. Excited. Bummed. Hopeful. Determined. All of it. It's going to be a good season, and I'm sure we're going to learn a lot! xx. Elsie 

Credits// Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Jacki Moseley. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

Tips for bloggingLet me start by saying that I realize not everyone wants to treat their blog like a business. Many blog purely for fun and have no intention of changing—which is great! But, I know that many of you are interested in turning your blog hobby into a potential revenue stream because we get questions about it all the time. :)

Maybe you have goals to monetize your content? Or maybe you just want to use your blog as a way to promote your real passion—a clothing line/shop, a handmade business, photography services, books you write, etc. Whatever your goals, if you're looking to make your blog a bit more polished and professional, here are five tips to get you going!

1. Get Your Domain

I think there could definitely be a healthy debate on this point, but from our perspective if you want your website to feel more legit, get your domain name (and get the dot com if you can!). This may require you to buy it from another owner, or you may have to update your site to allow/account for the url change. Also if you haven't chosen a name for your blog yet, then you are in a great spot because you can find one that you can easily get the dot com to. 

Not only does owning your domain name signal to readers and potential customers or sponsors that you are a more professional site, it also helps to safeguard you from others who might want to use your name for other purposes later.

And once you have your domain name, make sure you have it on auto-renew so you don't ever lose it!

2. Answer Emails in a Timely Manner

If you just let out a little groan, trust me, I know how you feel. This tip is simple, but sometimes really hard to do. It can be easy to think, "I just don't have time to answer ALL my emails today." But then it's also easy to let a lot of those kinds of days pile up, and before you know it, opening your email box gives you nothing but anxiety. 

You never know when the next email might be a great opportunity for your brand, so don't let it get buried for days, weeks, or months at a time! Imagine receiving a dream opportunity, not writing back for a month, and then finding out that they've moved on to someone or something else. That would be a total bummer! Clean out those email boxes and stay on top of them as best you can, friends—it will likely pay off one day. 

3. Plan & Make Big Picture Goals

One of the biggest differences between a hobby and a business is having short term goals that get you to your long term plan. If you really want to jumpstart your brand this year, make a five year plan. It can be harder than you think, but it's so helpful. 

Once you have that big picture goal for your brand, make plans to work toward it. For example, let's say I have a goal to run a marathon next year. OK, I have my big picture goal. Now what if I just started running whenever I felt I had enough time. I don't really keep track of how far I run, I just try to "do a good time" each time. Do you think I'll be ready for my marathon next year? Nope, me neither! What I need is a specific plan of action. I need to know exactly how many days a week I plan to run and how far I will run each time. If I have a goal for how fast I want to run my marathon, I need to put that in the plan too. That way, when I have those days (and they WILL come) when I feel too busy or too lazy, too bad. I know I have to run anyway—it's in the plan. There will be days I don't want to run X number of miles. I feel tired or maybe distracted by something else from my day. But I have to run a certain distance because, well, it's in the plan. Now do you think I'll be ready for my marathon? The truth is, I don't know for sure, but I have a WAY better shot at achieving that goal than I did before. There aren't a lot of guarantees in life, but you give yourself the best possible shot but putting in as much as you want to get out of something.  

It's simple, obvious to some, and it's certainly been said before, but having a big picture goal and then a specific plan to get you there is the difference between "kind of, sort of" doing something and actually doing it. Don't stunt your brand by failing to plan!

4. Track Expenses & Income

Not only is this good advice for any small business, you also could get into some trouble if you fail to do this. If you want to treat your blog like a business, you must face the business side of it and not just the "fun side." We love coming up with blog post ideas, making content, taking pictures, writing, etc. That's the fun part that gets us excited about blogging! But the other side is the responsibilities that still exist even if you get to do a fun job, one of which is keeping track of how much you spend each month and how much you make.

I like to track this monthly, and I usually make it a goal the first week of every month to get these records in order. Save all your receipts, invoices, and other documents that will help you track these numbers. It can also be helpful to print bank and credit card statements and add notes so you can remember what specific transactions were all about months or years from now. Get a big accordion folder or a file cabinet depending on your needs. Hire an accountant when it comes time to do your taxes, and they will be impressed with your thorough record keeping. :)

5. Use Social Media to Build Your Brand

We all like being on Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites because, well, they're fun! You get to share and connect with family or friends all over the world. But it's no secret that social media is also a great tool to grow your brand. I feel like this could easily be a whole different post, or even a small course, because there's just that much to say about it.

Here's the number one rule: you should take your social media as serious as you take your blog. If you plan out your blog posts (and I hope you do if you're wanting to grow it and make it into more of a business!) and allocate time and resources to those posts, then you should also do this for your social media. Plan out what you will post on IG, FB or Twitter this week. Make mini goals to grow those platforms. And as you do this, make sure they all easily and clearly point back to your blog (or main venture). 

What about you? Are there any big (or small) steps you've taken with your blog recently that have made a huge difference?

P.S. Ready to take your blog to the next level? Check out our Blog Life e-course

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

Emma's favorite summer hair style For the most part I am a wear-my-hair-down kind of gal. I like braids and up-dos a lot, I just tend to mostly end up wearing my hair down with a few curls most days.

Emma's favorite summer hair style    Emma's favorite summer hair style  But, the summer is the one season I tend to wear my hair up more often because when it's hot, it feels good to get your hair off your neck. Am I right? The style I do most often is a super simple version of milkmaid braids. So I thought I would share a super simple and quick tutorial for how I style this look with my hair length.

How to style milkmaid braids (via abeautifulmess.com)First I brush and part my hair in the center all the way down the back of my head. If you have bangs or shorter bits of hair in the front, you can leave them out. 

Second I braid each side and fasten with a clear elastic band. I like to use a clear band because often the ends are somewhat visible since I have longer hair but not necessarily super long. After braiding I will gently pull at the braids to fluff them out a bit so they will appear a little fuller. This actually works even better when my hair hasn't been washed for a day or two, or I can use dry shampoo to get a little texture (my hair is super fine).

Next I pin the first braid (you can start with either one) with a couple bobby pins to the top, center of my head. The end usually sticks up at this stage which is pretty funny looking. When Trey sees me doing my hair like this in the morning, I usually tell him it's my Whoville hair. 

Last I pin the other side into place and tuck the ends under each braid. I usually give my head a shake to see if the braids feel secure, and if not, then I add another bobby pin or two.

Emma's favorite summer hair styleThat's it! Easy, right? This style seriously only takes me around five minutes to do, and I really like how it looks with my face shape, plus it gets my hair off my neck in case it's a hot, humid day. Thanks for letting me share! Do you have a favorite summer hair style? xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

Creme Brulee Topped Cinnamon Rolls (via abeautifulmess.com) Guys, I love crème brûlée. It's just awesome. You probably guessed this based on the fact that we already have four different crème brûlée recipes and one creme brûlée donut post on this site. It's probably overkill. 

With that said, guys, I made crème brûlée cinnamon rolls. And overkill or not, they are so yummy that I just had to share. :)

Creme Brulee Topped Cinnamon Rolls (via abeautifulmess.com)  What do I mean by crème brûlée cinnamon rolls? Well, these are the classic topped with a thin layer of eggy custard that gets a brûlée shell just before serving. So they are basically crème brûlée topped cinnamon rolls. You know, dessert topped with more dessert. Normal stuff. 

Easy cinnamon roll doughCrème Brûlée Topped Cinnamon Rolls, makes 12-14 (depending how you slice them).

For the rolls:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon yeast (instant dry)
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/3 cups flour (all-purpose)

For the insides:
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the custard:
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
2-3 tablespoons baker's sugar (or regular granulated is OK too)

In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Once melted, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the milk and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Pour in the yeast and give that a good stir (it does not need to dissolve). Allow that to sit for 6-8 minutes to allow the yeast to start working. 

Mix together the flour and salt. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour and stir to combine. Stir in the eggs. Knead for 3-4 minutes. Place the dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise in a cool, dry place for 2 hours (or until doubled in size). 

Best cinnamon roll dough recipeRoll the dough out on a lightly floured surface so that it's about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Brush the butter all over the surface. Sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon. Roll the dough up and slice into 2 to 2 1/2 inch thick pieces. Place in a well-buttered baking dish.

How to make creme brulee donutsNow use the end of a spoon or fork (or your clean fingers) to create a small well inside each of the cinnamon rolls. So unconventional! This is where our custard batter needs to be poured.

To make the custard batter, simply whisk together the egg yolks, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and corn starch. Pour into the wells. You may not need all the custard batter, but it'll probably be close.

Bake at 350°F for 28-30 minutes. The dough should begin to look brown on top while the custard will have likely moved around some, but the deeper parts will still have some jiggle. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Creme Brulee Topped Cinnamon Rolls (via abeautifulmess.com)   Then add the baker's sugar to the custard areas and brûlée with a torch. 

I decided to add a little glaze, made by whisking together 1/4 cup powdered sugar and a tablespoon or two of water. You don't need a ton of glaze since these rolls around have a fun topping. :)

Creme Brulee Topped Cinnamon Rolls (via abeautifulmess.com)Serve warm with some milk and enjoy! xo. Emma

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

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