Fence Fox Painting

6U8A1240Remember the party cove nook we posted all those days ago? On the other side of the polka dot fence is a painting I got to do a couple of months ago. Elsie told me I could paint anything I wanted! Since we had just had our baby Imogen and just moved half way across the country, I didn't have a lot of time to paint; so I was super excited to pick up a brush and create something! I didn't really do much planning for it. I just knew I wanted to do something colorful, and I wanted the shape to fit proportionally to the length of fence. I think I also wanted to paint something I normally wouldn't; I wanted to try something new. After a bit of thought, I initially wanted to do a fox made from geometric shapes. After painting for a bit, I didn't like how it was turning out, so I changed direction a bit. There wasn't any real reason behind the painting; I don't believe there always has to. I think sometimes we can create things just for the sole purpose of creating something! The process and time spent is the reason.

One sort of funny thing that happened while I was painting: I was getting to the point where I wasn't hating the painting (the proportions were driving me crazy the whole time), and I was going to add some white. Well, I popped the lid and walked up to the painting, and the bucket basically jumped out of my hand, and in slow motion, a bunch of paint splashed on the painting! It wasn't a super big deal, but after hours spent, it seemed to be. All I could do was repaint the sections and carry on.

FoxfenceI just used regular exterior paint. I had about 12 colors picked out and mixed in the paint department at my local hardware store. Hopefully it lasts for a while!

6U8A1235If you have any questions about my process, I will try to answer them in the comment section. Have a great weekend! Maybe you have an old wall you could paint ;) -Josh

Credits // Author Joshua Rhodes. Photography: Sarah and Joshua Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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Bucatini Carbonara (+ A Little Giveaway!) CLOSED

Bucatini Carbonara (click through for recipe)There's a new restaurant that opened this past year in my hometown that I just love. It has super cute decor and serves a menu filled with locally-grown/raised menu items. One dish I keep seeing is pappardelle carbonara, which is the same dish as spaghetti carbonara, just different noodles. Every time someone orders this dish it looks just amazing. One of the main ingredients is jowl bacon though, and since I don't usually eat pork I haven't ordered it myself. But, I decided, why not make it at home?

This post was created in collaboration with Barilla and their new Collezione pasta with cuts and textures inspired by the regions in Italy. We used their scrumptious Collezione Bucatini pasta, inspired by the Lazio region in Italy, to create this vegetarian-friendly version. For those of you unfamiliar with bucatini pasta, it's like a hollow spaghetti—similar to a straw—which gives it a thicker comfort-food feel, without being too heavy.

Bucatini Carbonara (click through for recipe) Another component of this dish you'll notice is that little yellow egg yolk sitting on top. The sauce for this dish is usually made of egg yolks and cheese, but there are lots of different ways to prepare and present it. I personally love this presentation so you get to stir the yolk into your hot noodles just before eating, but you could also choose to do this ahead of time in case the sight of egg yolks just doesn't excite you like it does me. I'll give you a few more ideas on how you could customize this recipe to suit your particular tastes. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so customize away, my friends!

How to cook pastaBucatini Carbonara, serves 4.

12 ounces Barilla Collezione Bucatini pasta
6 slices of facon (could be swapped for mushrooms if you're not crazy about fake meat)
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 egg yolks
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
salt + pepper

Begin by cooking the facon (or bacon, if you must). Once cooked and crispy, chop it up into small pieces and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Just before draining, reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid. 

CarbonaraWhile the pasta cooks, mince the garlic and sauté in a pan with butter and olive oil. Toss in the pasta, cheese, and facon, and let everything get nice and hot and lightly coated in the butter and oil.

Divide the pasta into four servings and place on a plate. Add the egg yolk and drizzle a couple teaspoons hot pasta liquid over the yolk. Sprinkle on some salt, pepper, and parsley.

Bucatini Carbonara (click through for recipe)  If you prefer, you can toss in the egg yolks while the pasta is still in the pan and let the yolks coat and cook a little before removing the pasta to plates. You could also choose to skip the yolks and just drizzle in 2-3 tablespoons cream along with the cheese to create a light and creamy quick sauce. Totally up to you.

I love the simplicity of this dish. It's just such a comforting and easy-to-make meal. Yum! Make this for someone you love this week.

Pasta giveawayAnd now for something fun: a giveaway!!!!!

THE PRIZE: One lucky winner will get a gift basket full of goodies from Barilla, which includes a wooden spoon set, a fresh herb saver, a $50 gift card to Williams-Sonoma, and of course plenty of Barilla pasta. And you'll have to option to receive recipe ideas and tips from Barilla's executive chef, Chef Lorenzo!

TO ENTER: Just leave us a comment telling us your favorite Italian region or dish! Giveaway is open until August 8, and the winner will be contacted shortly after that.

Happy cooking! xo. Emma

NOTE: We were aware of the Barilla CEO's ignorant comments last fall. Elsie and I fully support equal rights and consideration for all, so it was troubling to hear. However, we agreed to work with Barilla, because the company immediately apologized and distanced itself from the CEO's offhand comments made in that interview—taking actionable steps directly contradicting the comments. We believe in allowing the opportunity to acknowledge, apologize for, and actionably correct mistakes. 

A Beautiful Mess Giveaway Rules

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


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Free print downloads with book pre-order!

Get these free downloadable prints when you pre-order A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade HomeHey, friends. We have fun news! Josh and I designed two fun home decor prints that you can get for free when you pre-order our upcoming book, A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home

To get your free prints, just pre-order the book before August 26 (that's our release date!). Next, send an email with your proof of purchase to abeautifulmess@penguinrandomhouse.com You'll receive our set of two downloadable wall prints that come in three sizes each.

In book world, pre-orders are really important to authors and are a HUGE part of both achieving our goals and ensuring we can write more books in the future. It's a big deal, so we wanted to reward and thank every single one of you who pre-orders! 

A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade HomeOur new book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and iBookstore

We can't wait to share more as our release date approaches! We poured so much into this book, and we are so excited that it's finally just about time to share it with you.

Thank you so much for your love and support! Elsie 

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Make This Belt Strap Memo Board

Make a memo board out of old, worn-out belts.Hi, it's Mandi! I can't remember the last time I bought a new belt. They're so prevalent at the thrift stores, I just go there first when I need a new one. The problem is old belts don't exactly last forever. I had a few belts lying around that were beginning to crack and split apart, so I thought they would be the perfect candidates for project supplies! Inspired by the trompe l'oeil artwork of Evert Collier, this simple memo board puts to use old or thrifted belts to conveniently hold your notes, pictures, and reminders, or could even make a nice display for a seating chart at a wedding or party!

Make a memo board out of old, worn-out belts.Supplies:
-edge-glued board or 2 cut boards cut to the same length (I used a pine 1x12x48 board cut in half)
-wood glue (only if you aren't using an edge-glued board)
-long clamps (only if you aren't using an edge-glued board)
-upholstery nail heads
-fabric scissors
-picture hanger hardware

Make a memo board out of old, worn-out belts.Step One: If you aren't using a prepared edge-glued plank of wood (which runs about $20 for a 24" x 36" piece), you will need to assemble your own board. To do this, you will need two planks of wood cut to the same length. I used one pine 1x12x48 plank cut into two 24" pieces for my board. Then I applied glue to the edge of each board and clamped the planks together tightly while the glue dried.

Make a memo board out of old, worn-out belts.Step Two: Before the wood glue dries (which happens somewhat quickly), wipe away the excess glue that seeps out during clamping. If the glue dries, it's difficult to sand away.

Step Three: When the glue has dried, remove the clamps and stain or paint the wood to the color of your choice. After the stain set up, I chose to sand down the surface with steel wool. This knocked off the rough wood hairs that stick up after staining, making the surface silky smooth.

Make a memo board out of old, worn-out belts.Step Four: Cut the belts to fit on the plank (with room for a border around the edge), and fix them to the board by hammering nail heads through the belt and into the board. If your wood is really soft (like my inexpensive pine plank), you could just push the nail heads into place without using a hammer.

Step Five: Attach picture-hanging hardware onto the back of the board, and you're ready to hang!

Make a memo board out of old, worn-out belts.Make a memo board out of old, worn-out belts.This is a really simply project that's a great way to use up leftover supplies and recycle old belts. I used the leftover lumber from my horse bookshelf project and nailheads from this old ottoman project, so this memo board was free for me to make! I like free, and cute is an added bonus. -Mandi

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

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DIY Light-Up Café Sign

Make this fun light-up café sign for less than $25!Hi, guys! Mandi here. Ranking among my favorite decor trends this year is definitely the light-up kitchen sign. I adore the neon lights and vintage beer clocks, but something that most of us can afford and appreciate is a light-up café sign. And who knew? They're pretty easy to make too!

My inspiration for this project came from this light-up frame found on Handmade Charlotte, and after searching the Internet to see if anyone else had made something similar, I found this great project from Vintage Revivals. I wanted to make something much smaller, though, and also wanted to use as many pre-assembled and inexpensive supplies as possible. So check it out, kids! Here's my small shadow box café sign project that's really easy to make in a single afternoon!

Make this fun light-up café sign for less than $25!Supplies:
-small but deep shadow box (I bought mine in the wood crafts department at a local craft store and had hanging hardware attached): $6
-wood stain (I used leftover from many previous projects)
-2 pieces of 1/4x1x24 basswood: $4.50
-stencil plastic: $1
-contact paper (I used leftover pieces from previous projects)
-spray paint: $4
-small LED string lights (I ended up using these tiny lights, not the ones shown above:) $6.25
-printed clip art template available here

Total cost of supplies: $21.75

-paint brush or rag for applying stain

-miter box saw (like this inexpensive one), or electric miter chop saw, or a small craft saw as shown (I bought a small craft saw for $3, but it was difficult to get accurate cuts. I suggest as least getting the miter box saw for this project.)
-craft blade
-hot glue gun

Make this fun light-up café sign for less than $25!Step One: Cover the rough side of your stencil plastic with contact paper. Trace around the shadow box onto the contact paper to create the parameters of your coffee cup icon.

Step Two: Lay the stencil plastic over the top of the coffee cup icon (printable from here) and trace the image, making sure it's centered inside the border you drew in step one. Be sure to draw on the contact paper, not the stencil plastic.

Make this fun light-up café sign for less than $25!Step Three: Cut out four frame pieces using a miter box saw or carefully using a handsaw. Your goal is to cut out four pieces the exact same size with the same 45-degree angle ends. Lay the pieces over the top of the shadow box to make sure they make a square. Trim angles as needed if they don't meet up tightly at the corners.

Step Four: After you know your frame pieces are cut accurately, you can stain them along with the shadow box. You may choose to sand them down after staining with some steel wool for a nice, silky finish.

Make this fun light-up café sign for less than $25!Step Five: As your stain is drying, trim the stencil plastic a bit smaller than the size of the border you drew in step one. Cut out the shape of the clip art from the contact paper, being careful to press very, very lightly with the craft blade, or you will accidentally cut out the plastic stencil as well. The goal is just to cut the contact paper, but not the stencil material behind it. After you cut around the edges of the clip art shape, peel away the background of the image, leaving contact paper only where the steam lines, cup, and saucer are. 

Step Six: Spray a few light and even layers of spray paint over the masked image and onto the rough side of the stencil.

Make this fun light-up café sign for less than $25!Step Seven: After the paint has dried, very gently peel away the contact paper from the stencil plastic, revealing the shape of steam, cup, and saucer. Protect the painted surface of the stencil with a fresh layer of clear contact paper.

Step Eight: Use a hot glue gun to attach the stencil to the front of the shadow box. Then use glue to attach the frame to the front of the stencil.

IMG_8705Step Nine: Using hot glue or adhesive-backed cup hooks (as I did), place your string lights* into the back of the box, trying to arrange the grouping of lights as evenly as possible. I ended up putting a cup hook on the middle of each wall of the shadow box and stringing the lights every which way around them. The lights I bought are strung along wire, so they bend nicely and stay in place really well!

*For safety reasons, make sure the lights you put inside the box do not put out any heat. LED lights are the best option for this project. Also, never leave lights turned on when leaving your house or going to bed at night.

Make this fun light-up café sign for less than $25!To display the light, you can use the pre-attached hanging hardware on the shadow box or use wall-mounting adhesive, as I ended up doing on my brick wall. I'm glad I bought a set of tiny string lights for a nice, even glow inside the box, and the battery-powered function hides any ugly wires. I don't have to use this light near an outlet! Victory!

Make this fun light-up café sign for less than $25!Make this fun light-up café sign for less than $25!Turn on the light for a cozy glow in the kitchen, and make a pot of coffee to enhance the atmosphere! Not a fan of coffee? You could browse the Internet for other free clip art shapes, like martini glasses, wine glasses, or even fruit or animal shapes! -Mandi

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

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