Textured Summer Braid

Textured Summer Braid TutorialHey, guys! It's Katie here again. It's really warming up here in the Midwest, and you know what that means—friends and swimming and BBQs and... frizzy hair. Honestly, if it weren't for braids and buns, my hair wouldn't stand a chance in the summer. I would definitely have to chop it before we made it to the cooler fall months. It's not an issue, though, because there are LOTS of braids to choose from! Here's a fun one I like to use to switch things up a little.

Step 1- Textured Summer BrainStep One: Divide your hair into three sections, as if you were going to do a normal braid. Braid the center strand and secure with an elastic.

Step 2- Textured Summer Braid DIYStep Two: To begin your braid, cross the two side pieces over the middle section. 

Step 3- Textured Summer BraidStep Three: Finish out the braid just like a standard braid.

Step 4- Textured Summer BraidStep Four: Once you reach the bottom, secure with an elastic and remove the first elastic.

Step 5- Textured Summer BraidStep Five: Finish your braid off with a pretty piece of fabric or ribbon, and you're all done! 

Textured Summer Braid DIYTextured Summer Braid via A Beautiful MessAs you can see from some of the photos above, my hair gets pretty dry in the summer, so it's nice to be able to run some coconut oil through my hair and throw it in a braid for some much needed conditioning. Happy braiding! xo. Katie

FGC: Almond Butter & Figs

Fancy grilled cheese from A Beautiful MessMaking a fantastic fancy grilled cheese sandwich is an easy skill that should be in everyone's repertoire. A good FGC takes minimal effort but can make any lunch or dinner at home feel like the best hometown dinner you've ever been to. Here's one of my favorite variations. The ingredients might surprise you, but I highly recommend you give it a try. 

My favorite grilled cheese sandwichFGC with Almond Butter and Figs, serves two.

4 thick slices of sourdough bread
2-3 tablespoons almond butter
2-3 ounces soft or semisoft cheese (I used Havarti creamy)*
3-4 fresh figs, chopped
2 tablespoons mayo

*You can use any kind of cheese you like, but for this sandwich something with a sweet or buttery finish is best (think Brie).

How to make the best grilled cheese sandwichMy number one trick for a perfect FGC sandwich: use mayo instead of butter or oil. It might seem a little weird if you've never tried this, but I promise it's delicious and produces a fantastic, crispy exterior.

Add mayo to each exterior side of two of the bread slices. Place the first slice mayo side down in a pan over medium/low heat (not too hot or the bread can burn before the cheese melts). Pile on the cheese and figs. On the other slice, spread the almond butter. Place over the top of the first piece and press down. Now spread the top of that piece with mayo. After a minute or two, flip to the other side. 

Fancy Grilled Cheese SandwichesContinue cooking until both sides are crispy and the cheese begins to ooze out the sides of the sandwich. Make these with some people you love this weekend; they'll be impressed. xo. Emma

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

At Home With Sarah Brown

At Home With Sarah BrownWe are happy to welcome Sarah Brown to A Beautiful Mess today to share her lovely home with us!

Love this bright dining space"My boyfriend Chad and I (and our two cats) live in a 1950s attached cottage in Montreal. So far we've spent all our free time renovating it. We were drawn to this house after looking at so many houses that had already been flipped without much care and were not to our taste. As soon as I saw this place I was drawn to its unique features—the brick wall in the living room (which turned out to actually be wallpaper, but is now painted black), the open living room/dining room, and the open second floor hallway that overlooks the main room. It had been lovingly taken care of by the same owner for many years and reminded me a lot of my grandparents' house and their attention to detail—also my grandma's love of pink. The whole house was painted various shades of dusty rose.

Beautiful kitchenEvery detail in this kitchen!"I think our space now feels open, modern, bright, and colorful and is a place we love to relax and entertain in. We've tackled smaller reno projects in the past, but seeing our vision for the space come to life and knowing that we put in the work to make it happen is really satisfying. While we had to work with a pretty tight budget, I think I actually work best that way. There is nothing I love more than the thrill of the hunt and digging through things in flea markets—now I can showcase all my vintage finds and family hand-me-downs in one space.

Amazing accent wallLove the starburst accent!"My favorite piece in the space is the metal starburst above the buffet. It was my grandmother's and had always been in the hallway of our family cottage. I love that I can now display it in my house.

Love everything about this bedroomLove the wall color in this spaceDarling bathroom"We've lived here for almost a year now. The space has really been completely transformed—you can see our befores and afters hereThe original space had the pink walls I mentioned, wall to wall carpeting, two layers of wallpaper in the living room, and a closed-in kitchen that was so small and awkwardly laid out that only one person could maneuver in it at a time. We refinished the wood floors and replaced all the old linoleum in the hallway and the bathroom. We basically wanted a modern space that still respected its past, so we tried to keep some of the more functional retro things—like all the original black and blue tile in the bathroom.

Love the black wall and hanging lightsSuch a fresh space!"The most unusual decor item in our space is probably the bingo sign. I made Chad drive to the Brimfield Antique Show and then haul back this gigantic working bingo sign. This was when we still had a small apartment, and it sat in the middle of our hallway until we moved into the house. The plan was to find a way to mount it on the wall, but its temporary home is on the floor beside the couch—which I'm kind of liking now. It's a great light source and always a conversation piece when people come over. Hopefully we can have a real bingo night soon.

Love the pops of colorBeautiful floors"We spend most of our time on the main floor, except for watching movies in bed—our guilty pleasure. I love that I have a brand new kitchen for the first time ever. It's so easy to use and easy to clean. Having it open the rest of the main floor is great, so we spend a lot of time in there. While we still have some projects left (the basement is a shrine to fake wood paneling), we're taking a break now and simply enjoying not sitting in a construction zone but instead relaxing in the living room, listening to records, and enjoying a drink after all our hard work." 

Thank you for sharing your beautiful home with us, Sarah! You can find more of Sarah over on her blog, Brownie, or her design site. xo. 

Credits // Author and Photography: Sarah Brown.

Tropical Pineapple Smoothie

Tropical smoothie (click through for recipe) This is the time of year when I get obsessed with smoothies. The warm weather makes a quick, healthy, and chilly smoothie sound like the perfect workday breakfast. Yum. There are probably about one million amazing smoothie recipes out there. Here's one I've been loving lately.

Tropical pineapple smoothie (click through for recipe)  Oh, also, if you make your own smoothies, I totally believe you should get to name them whatever you like. Just pretend your kitchen is your own little coffee shop or deli. Make up a name for your favorite flavors.

Toasted coconutTropical Pineapple Smoothie, makes one.

1 mango
1 cup pineapple (if you use a fresh pineapple, you can get about 3 cups out of it)
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes*
1-2 tablespoons almond butter
3/4-1 cup coconut water

*I used sweetened coconut flakes. If you use unsweetened, you may want to add a tablespoon of honey. But the mango and pineapple are plenty sweet as well, so you may not. Feel free to make it how you like it.

Best tropical smoothie recipeRemove the skins of the mango and pineapple, and cut into small chunks. Toast the coconut in a dry pan over medium heat until it begins to brown. 

In a small ziplock bag, add the mango, pineapple, and coconut flakes. You don't have to label the bag, but if you end up getting into smoothies, you can make lots of different kinds over the weekend, freeze them all in small bags with labels, and have smoothies for weeks on end with no extra work in the morning. Just FYI.

Once the contents of the bag are frozen, dump them in the blender, add the almond butter and coconut water, and blend away. 

Jungle baby smoothie (click through for recipe)You can top with a little more toasted coconut or some granola. Enjoy! xo. Emma

P.S. This post is missing a few photos and the original name has been changed. I had unintentionally named this smoothie something that turns out to sometimes be used in an inappropriate manner. I had no idea, and I want to sincerely apologize! Thank you to all our kind commenters for letting me know.

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

Vinyl Chair Makeover

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for makeover details.Hiya! Mandi here! Have an old vinyl chair that needs a makeover? I had thrifted a pair of black ʼ70s bar stools that weren't exactly uggos, but they were kind of boring and stood out a bit more than I'd like against the bright white office wall in our living room. I wondered if a little paint could do the trick, but my mind kept churning, and I got stuck on the idea of a patterned chair. A plaid chair! Kind of a bold idea, considering my original complaint about the chairs being too bold. Well, I think I settled on a nice, tasteful makeover for my vinyl chairs by combining some paint and gingham fabric. Check out all the details below!

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for makeover details.Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Supplies:
-vinyl chair (duh)
-lightweight fabric
-spray paint for plastic
-Mod Podge (preferably indoor/outdoor)
-varnish (only needed if you use regular Mod Podge)
-paint or foam brush
-fabric scissors
-painter's tape
-material to cover chair legs (I used plastic grocery bags)

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Step One: Thoroughly clean the chairs, then cover the legs with painter's tape and plastic bags.

Step Two: Cover the chair with a few light coats of spray paint. Make sure you use the type that bonds to plastic. I did two coats and waited a week to do another two.

This project was pretty easy, but it required lots of patience right after I got started. That's right—I waited an entire week for the paint to dry! The waiting period drew out the length of this project, though the individual steps themselves were accomplished fairly quickly. I'll admit, during that week of tacky paint, I really wondered if the paint would ever cure. But I had read Jenny's experience with painting vinyl at her blog Little Green Notebook, which gave me the confidence to see it through. So I waited. Then on the eighth day, the paint wasn't tacky anymore! So I added two more coats of paint and then moved on to the next step.

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Step Three: Cut out pieces of fabric to fit on the back and seat of the chair. If you're working with a pattern, make sure the lines are straight with the lines of the chair.

Step Four: Coat the back and seat of the chair with a thick coat of Mod Podge. If you don't already have a bottle of Mod Podge, buy the kind suitable for outdoors. If you have the regular kind, just get a small bottle of varnish to use in step nine.

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Step Five: Press the fabric onto the Mod Podge-covered sections and smooth it out with your hand.

Step Six: Trim away the excess fabric along the piping or seam of the chair. Be very careful—you need to cut closely, not not too close. If there's piping, make sure you have a little overlap for the next step.

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Step Seven: Using the curved tip of scissors (do not use scissors with a sharp tip) or your fingernail, push the excess fabric under the piping.

Step Eight: Cover the fabric with Mod Podge to complete the adhering process.

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for makeover details.Step Nine: If you used regular Mod Podge instead of the outdoor-safe variety to adhere the fabric, you will need to protect the surface from moisture by sealing it with a varnish. If you use an oil-based varnish, you probably shouldn't use a foam brush. Or just throw the brush away when you're finished.

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for makeover details.I love how the new chairs turned out, and thanks to the sealant on top of the fabric, they can still be quickly wiped down with a wet cloth. You never know what a little paint and Mod Podge can do to transform something from trash to treasure. -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Spring and Valentine of the Signature Collection

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