Six Months of the ABM Book Club

6 months of ABM book clubOh my gosh, you guys, did you know that this is the sixth-month mark for the ABM book club?! It's feels like we just started, but it's already been half a year!

Our book club was just a random idea I wanted to try. I love reading. I love connecting with all of you. Maybe some of you like reading too? So, we decided to give it a try.

One of my original goals with the book club was to force myself to make more time to read. I really love reading, but it's so easy to get busy and never make time for it. But having the book club keeps me more accountable to finish books in a reasonable amount of time. So, mission accomplished.

My second goal with the club was to have another means to connect with some of you. And I think that's worked pretty well. However, now that we are six months in together, I'd love to ask you all what you think. Do you have any suggestions for the book club? Different ways we could connect together? Do you have any specific books you'd like to see us read? Would you like to see more variety of genres covered, or less? Any and all suggestions are welcome. I'd just love to hear what you think, and I'm sure there are ways in which we could improve the ABM book club together. 

One idea I've been kicking around is to have a few different folks be the moderators throughout the year (so it's not always me). They could bring more variety to the types of books we read, and they will bring different perspectives. In July, Elsie will be taking over the book club and we'll be reading...

Hash tag girl boss!We both read this book while on vacation earlier this month and got REALLY addicted. You're gonna love it. So if you want to join the club in July, pick up your copy of #GIRLBOSS soon! 

P.S. Don't forget that on Monday, June 30, we'll be discussing the June selection, The Good Luck of Right Now. 

Soft Pretzel Wreath

Homemade pretzel bits (click through for recipe)Two things about pretzels (and me) that you should know. First off, I love pretzels. Elsie and I both have favorite airport "meals" for when we travel together for work. If Elsie gets to choose, and we have time, she usually picks Chili's. We call it "baby Chili's" because it's the smaller version. When I get to choose, it's Auntie Anne's pretzels every time. Doesn't matter if we're in-between flights at 8 a.m. If there are pretzels about, I want them.

Soft pretzelsSecond, there is an Auntie Anne's pretzels at our hometown mall. It's basically the highlight of the mall, if you ask me. And while these pretzels where still in the oven baking, Josh walked into the kitchen and said, "Hmm, smells like the mall in here."

It was the biggest compliment he could have given me. For reals.

So with those two random facts in mind, let's make a pretzel wreath together!

Homemade pretzels! Soft Pretzel Wreaths, makes 2 or about 20 regular pretzels.

3 cups warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons (one package) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups bread flour
6 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups water
3 tablespoons baking soda
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon coarse grain sea salt

Dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water and allow that to sit and foam up for 5-6 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the salt, bread flour, and all-purpose flour. Pour the yeast water into the bowl. Stir until combined. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes. This flour is probably more water-based than you might be used to (if you bake bread often), so feel free to really flour your hands or the surface as you work. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise for 1 hour (or until doubled in size).

Kneading doughFill a large pot with 3 cups water and 3 tablespoons baking soda. Stir to dissolve. Heat the water to a low boil. While the water heats up, on a floured surface, divide the dough into small balls, or roll into long ropes and shape like pretzels. 

Place each pretzel in the boiling water for 30 seconds, flipping halfway through cooking. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water, draining away as much water as you can. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.

How to make pretzelsBrush the tops of the pretzels with melted butter and sprinkle on the sea salt. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes. The pretzels should look golden brown but still feel slightly spring-y to the touch.

Also, can you spot me in the above photo? :)

How to make homemade soft pretzelsFor the pretzel wreath, I place my dipping sauce bowl on the baking sheet and arranged the balls around it. Then I remove the bowl before baking. Easy peasy. This is awesome to serve at a party; just add ranch or honey mustard to the bowl. These were a big hit at our office. :) Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Emma Chapman and Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with The Signature Collection. 

Photo-Filled Scrapbook Pages

Photo Filled Scrapbook PagesHey, friends. I'm so obsessed with scrapbooking right now. It's addictive. My last post was about full page photos, and today I'm back, teaming up with Canon USA, to share ideas for filling pages with multiple photos. I love the look of scrapbook pages filled with colorful photos. There is just something about seeing lots of memories packed onto one page that's so joyful and warm to me. 

Today I'm here to share some ideas for packing pages with happy memories! 

Time to print! I used my Canon PIXMA MG7120 printer to print the photos for these pages. I just put several 3" x 3" photos on 8.5" x 11" sheets of their semi-gloss photo paper to consolidate printing.  

Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages For this first page I used a 2" circle punch to create 20 circles. I adhered them in a grid pattern and then used a sewing machine to stitch small lines between every circle. 

Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages   This page is a great solution for times when you have a lot photos you love from an event, but you don't want to end up with 20 pages. It's perfect for detail photos and would look cool paired with a full-page photo in an album. 

Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages    Pocket pages! I used these square pockets to put together images from our trip to Palm Springs last year. I love mixing them with colorful patterns. 

Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages     I like to journal right on my photos as much as possible. I've never been good at adding long bodies of journaling to my scrapbooks, so instead I try to add little bits here and there. 

Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages      I stitched this pocket closed after I filled it with sequins. Fun! 

Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages       Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages       More circles! 

This time I used a larger (2 1/2") punch to make circles, and I embellished them with a few paper elements and a journaling card circle. 

Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages         For this page I pieced together square photos, journaled on them, and added a bunch of enamel dots to give it texture and color. 

Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages          XoxoSupply source list: Enamel Dots, Patterned Papers, Sequins, Photo-Safe Pens

Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages (via A Beautiful Mess)And this last page is a pocket page layout made with one big photo. If you don't have a wide format printer, and you want to fill a page with one giant photo, you can print it on more than one piece of paper, and then piece it together in the pocket pages! I love the look of these big, broken-up photos. 

Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages (via A Beautiful Mess) Photo Filled Scrapbook Pages (via A Beautiful Mess) Now who's in the mood to scrapbook? I know how I'm spending this next weekend. :) xo! Elsie 

Credits: Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Photos edited with Norma from The Folk Collectiontrack

Sister Stuff

CoffeeSarah created a fun photo series that compares Emma's and my favorite things. It's incredibly simple, but filled with so much personality. Can you guess which is me and which is Emma, left or right? 

BagsOur current handbags. 

FuitsOur favorite fruit. 

FuitsOur current reads. 

FuitsOur guilty pleasure food obsession. 

FuitsLipsticks currently found in our purses. 

FuitsOur favorite summer shoes. 

Did you guess who is who yet? Emma's on the left. I am on the right. This series really makes me smile. It's so simple, but I feel like Sarah captured us so well. You should totally steal the idea to document your favorite things! 

xo. Elsie 

Credits // Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Georgia from The Folk Collection and Stella from The Signature Collection.

Brown Sugar Rice Pudding

Brown sugar rice pudding (click through for recipe)While I was staring mindlessly off into the distance, stirring this rice pudding for the necessary 15-18 minutes, it dawned on me that rice pudding is nothing more than dessert risotto. 

It's basically the exact same process with slightly altered ingredients. I wonder which came first? I also wondered if anyone has ever served both, back to back. That would require an awful lot of stirring. 

Brown sugar rice pudding (click through for recipe) To me, rice pudding seems like a summer-month treat. Probably because it does not require turning on the oven to complete. And everyone knows that turning on an oven completely negates air conditioning and makes your electric bill one million dollars.

Okay. Maybe that's a slight exaggeration. That's just what my dad led me to believe when I lived with my parents growing up. Oven baking was strictly forbidden once the air conditioner was turned on for the summer. I give my dad a hard time about this from time to time, but the truth is I'm just as frugal. 

Dad says we are "Cheap-mans." Which is a play off our last name, Chapman. :)

Best rice pudding recipeBrown Sugar Rice Pudding, serves 2-3.

1/2 cup arborio rice
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low/medium heat. Add in the rice and cook for a couple minutes until the rice grains become somewhat translucent.

How to make rice puddingIn a small pot, combine the milk and cream, and warm over low heat.

Once the rice is ready, stir in the milk, half a cup at a time, stirring until most of the liquid has dissolved before adding more. It will take about 15-18 minutes of stirring for all the milk to become incorporated into the rice. 

Then add the brown sugar and vanilla extract. These will both add additional moisture to the pudding, so continue stirring and cooking for another 2 minutes so some of the liquid can reduce.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool. If you plan to store your pudding in the refrigerator overnight, press some plastic wrap over the top of the pudding (unless you are one of those weirdos you really likes pudding skin; then just cover like you normally would).

I'm just kidding. You're not a weirdo.

Brown sugar rice pudding (click through for recipe)  Serve with some sliced fresh fruit (I had figs) and a little honey. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

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