Let's Talk About Swimsuits

Let's talk about swimsuitsLike many of you, we hate swimsuit shopping. It's discouraging to step into the dressing room with a pile of swimsuits only to walk out empty-handed and frowny-faced. We've been there. 

With that said, there was something about looking forward to our seven-day vacation to Costa Rica that motivated us a just a litttttle bit more than usual. We knew we'd be spending our days relaxing, swimming, and beach hopping, so we tried to collect several swimsuits for the trip. And, I'm not going to lie, we had fun doing it. For the past few months we were always texting each other photos and links to cute suits that we thought would be cuter on another gal. I can't believe I just said it was fun. But yeah, it was kinda fun. #victory 

Let's talk about swimsuits Katie: ASOS Top + ModCloth Bottoms. Elsie: Victoria's Secret Bikini (Top + Bottom).

Tip 1: Get over yourself

Before you start swimsuit shopping, you might as well accept the fact that 100% of women (and humans for that matter) have insecurities. We're not perfect. Swimsuits can be freaky territory, but realizing that we're all in the same boat makes it feel a little safer. So much of how we see ourselves is a mind game anyway. Instead of focusing on what you don't love about your body, give yourself a compliment and a high five. You deserve it! 

Let's talk about swimsuits  From the top left: ASOS Top (old), Victoria's Secret Bottom, Victoria's Secret Top, Rashguard. From the bottom (left to right): ModCloth, ASOS (Katie and I accidentally bought opposite pieces of the same suit!), Urban Outfitters

Tip 2: Dress for your body type

I know this one should be super obvious, but it's tough—especially when you're shopping online. When you've been scrolling through pages and pages of models wearing swimsuits, it's easy to forget what you're even looking for. I start noticing colors and cute styles, and then I'm like, "Waiiit a minute—I can't wear that!" Ha! It doesn't matter how cute it is if it's not a style you'll feel awesome in. Gotta stay focused! :)

Everyone's body-type solutions will be different. I've sworn off both one pieces and two pieces that are sold as pairs because I need different sizes on the top and bottom. Whatever works, right?!

Let's talk about swimsuits    Katie: One piece/Anthropologie (Similar).

Let's talk about swimsuits     Laura: Dillards Bikini (Top + Similar Bottom). Katie: Top and bottoms/Urban Outfitters.

Let's talk about swimsuits      Laura: ASOS bikini (Out of stock—aw, man!).

Let's talk about swimsuits       Laura: Dillards Bikini (Top + Bottom).

Let's talk about swimsuits        Emma: One piece/Urban Outfitters.

Let's talk about swimsuits             Emma: Top/H&M (Similar), Bottoms/Target.

Tip 3: Mix + Match 

Emma and I have adopted the habit of collecting black pieces, and pieces that match with black. It's super convenient to be able to mix and match pieces depending on your mood and the activities of the day. I highly recommend finding neutral pieces that you can mix with patterned and colored pieces. 

Let's talk about swimsuits          Also several of you asked questions about our swim caps. I found one of these at a vintage shop on our honeymoon and the other from eBay (I think!). They are super easy to find on Amazon, too, for cheap! 

Our favorite places to shop? ASOS, Victoria's Secret, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, ModCloth, and Dillards.

I hope this has been helpful. Happy swimsuit shopping! xx. Elsie 

Credits // Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Elsie Larson, Katie Shelton, and Laura Gummerman. 

Birthday Cake Jello Shot

Yes please! Birthday Cake Jello Shot (click through for recipe)    If you pay much attention to the "boozier" posts on this blog (i.e., the ones containing alcohol), you'll notice that we have a special place in our hearts for cute jello shots (like here and here). I am totally that girl who orders the crazy sweet martini with sprinkles and whipped cream on top, so I thought it would be fun to make jello shots that look like little birthday cakes with all the appropriate trimmings.

Yes please! Birthday Cake Jello Shot (click through for recipe)           Birthday Cake Jello Shots, serves 8.

1 cup cake-flavored vodka
1 cup white chocolate Godiva liqueur
1 cup milk
3 packets of unflavored gelatin 
cylinder silicone mold
sprinkles and whipped cream for garnish

Yes please! Birthday Cake Jello Shot (click through for recipe)        Warm the milk in a saucepan over low-medium heat and add the unflavored gelatin. Mix together with a whisk until all the gelatin is dissolved.

Yes please! Birthday Cake Jello Shot (click through for recipe)      Add the milk, vodka, and the Godiva liquer in a bowl. If you have a few bits of gelatin left that aren't dissolved, you can strain the milk before adding to the other ingredients. Mix together and transfer the mixture into a pourable container. 

Yes please! Birthday Cake Jello Shot (click through for recipe)     Pour the mixture into your silicone molds, and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours until set (keep the mold on a flat surface like a small cutting board so you can place the board inside the fridge). When firm, insert a toothpick between the jello and the sides of the mold, and go all the way around the mold to gently separate the jello from the sides. Push up from the bottom of the mold until the jello shot is removed from the mold. To serve, place the jello shots on a bed of sprinkles, and garnish with whipped cream and more sprinkles.

Yes please! Birthday Cake Jello Shot (click through for recipe)Yes please! Birthday Cake Jello Shot (click through for recipe)   Yes please! Birthday Cake Jello Shot (click through for recipe) Yes please! Birthday Cake Jello Shot (click through for recipe)  These are definitely a 2-3 bite jello shot, as they are a little bigger than usual (about 2 1/4" wide), but I wanted them to look more like mini cakes, so I bought the bigger mold. If you want a more bite-size jello shot, just buy a smaller cylinder mold instead.

These are a super cute way to celebrate someone's birthday (or even an unbirthday if you can't wait that long). Keep in mind, though, there are 364 unbirthdays every year. Pace yourself people... xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman. Photography: Laura Gummerman and Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella from The Signature Collection.

Turn a Birdcage Stand into a Mod Floor Lamp

Turn a birdcage stand into an amazing mod floor lamp— So easy!Hi, guys! It's Mandi here with a really simple floor lamp project. It seems like every time I went antiquing or hit up the flea markets, I saw so many lonely birdcage stands just waiting to be loved. All of those pretty stands would haunt me at night as I lay awake making plans to take one home. But I just couldn't think of how I should re-purpose one. Plant stand? Nah. Actual birdcage stand? Double nah. But wait... what about a floor lamp? Yes! A mod floor lamp even! My home could always use another globe light (says the girl who's obsessed with orb lamps), so I headed out to the antiques district and adopted a birdcage stand to call my own. My own floor lamp, that is.

If you're having trouble finding an affordable vintage birdcage stand to re-purpose for this project, you could also use an indoor plant hanger like this. In my experience, birdcage stands are everywhere antiques are sold, and where I live (Northeast Ohio), you can find them for anywhere from $25-$70 each.

Turn a birdcage stand into an amazing mod floor lamp— So easy!Turn a birdcage stand into an amazing mod floor lamp— So easy!Supplies:
-birdcage stand or hanging plant stand (like this)
-large acrylic globe (I found my 14" globe here)
-tape (I used black electrical tape because it matched my stand)

-hanging light kit (like what you would use in a paper lantern)
-1 1/2" hole saw (shown in drill)
-power drill

Turn a birdcage stand into an amazing mod floor lamp— So easy!I only wanted a small portion of the light kit to peek through the globe of my light, so I measured the diameter of the end of the kit and bought a carbon hole saw the same size—1 1/2". Your light kit measurements may vary, so before buying a hole saw, you may want to measure the diameter of your own light kit.

My birdcage stand cost $60, though the day I went shopping for mine, I saw five stands I liked, ranging from $25 for a rusty, wobbly, white one to $65 for a more decorative wrought iron one. I liked the shape and simplicity of this birdcage stand, so I decided it would be perfect for this project.

Turn a birdcage stand into an amazing mod floor lamp— So easy!Step One: Drill a hole into the center of the globe (the factory opening of the globe is resting on the table). There will be a little dot at the center from the production of the acrylic globe, so no need to measure. Have someone firmly hold the globe while you drill. (My assistant was taking this picture, but afterwards he held it for me!) Make sure you keep the drill steady, because it will want to skip around a bit. If the surface is too slick, you can cover it with painter's tape to help keep the drill from sliding around.

Step Two: Pull the light kit through the globe, and make sure you like the fit. My hole was maybe a hair too small, but the graduated shape of the light kit made this not a problem at all.

Turn a birdcage stand into an amazing mod floor lamp— So easy!Step Three: Hang the light from the hook of the stand, and make sure it's centered. String the wire along the metal of the stand, securing it with tape along the way. I used black electrical tape, but honestly, clear tape would probably do just fine!

Turn a birdcage stand into an amazing mod floor lamp— So easy!I was amazed at how simple this project turned out to be! It seemed suspiciously easy in theory, but I know from experience that little unexpected things can quickly turn "easy" projects into complicated ones. I promise—this one was a cinch and fun from the very beginning. I love a good antique hunting trip!

(P.S. Interested in the leaning ladder from the first image? Check out the DIY instructions to make your own right here.) -Mandi

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

Exclusive Peek: Happy Handmade Home!

A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade HomeA Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home          A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home         A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home      Happy Handmade Home by A Beautiful Mess    A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home            Happy Handmade Home by A Beautiful MessHappy Handmade Home by A Beautiful Mess We are so excited today to share a few sneak peeks of our upcoming book, A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home. It feels totally crazy to us that in just a few shorts months our second book will be released! We LOVED working on this book, and we can't wait to see what you think of it.

So what's it all about? Creating an inspiring space that you can fall in love with. Elsie and I take you on a room-by-room guide through our own homes (with lots of never-before-seen rooms!). We showcase over 15 different spaces with tips and stories to get you dreaming about decorating your own home.

But that's not all.

A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home             A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home   Happy Handmade Home by A Beautiful Mess     A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade HomeA home is all about the memories you make there, if you ask us. And one great way to start making more memories is to host a party for your family or friends! We share our own inspiration for entertaining through five different parties throughout the book.

But that's not all.

A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home        A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home       A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home     A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home  No A Beautiful Mess book would be complete without a "few" homemade projects. And good news: we share over 115 projects throughout this book! Our goal was to keep the majority of the projects simple and inexpensive but with the bold design that you've come to expect from ABM. We want you to actually USE this book and not just have another book sitting on your shelf. We want this to be a real resource that inspires you to create your own happy handmade home. 

You can read more about our book here. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions. We'd love to share more information, although nothing that could spoil the book for anyone. :) Thanks for letting us share!

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Janae Hardy. Preorder your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound.

Hammock Chair DIY

Hammock Chair DIYSo many of my projects are inspired by my kids and born out of a need or opportunity to facilitate some kind of activity that will either teach them independence or nurture their creativity. This hammock chair DIY is one of those. I made it specifically for my older son who loves to read and often needs a little bit of quiet space away from his talkative sister. Our front porch has often served as a little retreat from the chaos of a family of five and was the perfect place to hang out (literally) and enjoy a book. 

While I made this chair for my kids, it could be used by adults as well. I used supplies strong enough to hold up to 200 lbs. so that it might withstand a sturdy plop from either of the older kids, but supplies are available at most hardware stores that will ensure it holds more weight. 

A Cozy Reading ChairReversible Hammock ChairHammock Chair TutorialSuppliesSupplies:
-1 1/4" x 3' oak dowel (oak is a hard wood and considered safer than poplar for supporting weight. Also, I had mine cut to 3')
-3/8" x 16' braided polypropylene (get this by the foot)
-2 yards of plain canvas 
-80mm stainless steel spring snap link (holds up to 220 lbs)
-3/16" stainless steel quick link (holds up to 660 lbs)
-black fabric paint (my acrylic paint is fabric friendly)
-paint brush

-drill and 3/8" drill bit
-sewing machine
-iron and ironing board

Steps1Step One: Fold your two yards of canvas in half and lay flat with the fold on the left as shown. Measure in about 7" from the top right edge and mark. I cut mine about 12" in, and it was a bit too much, so I'm suggesting 7". Using a yard stick or ruler, draw a line from that top mark to the bottom right corner, and cut through both pieces. Open your canvas. 

Step Two: Fold your top edge down 1/2" and iron flat. Then fold it in again 1/2" and iron flat. Pin and stitch the bottom of the fold as shown above. Repeat with the long bottom edge. 

Steps 2Step Three: Flip your canvas 90 degrees to the left so that the longest edge is on the right. You're going to create pockets for the rope to slide through on each side. Fold each corner in about 1 1/2" and iron flat. Then fold the unhemmed top edge in 1/2" and iron flat. 

Step Four: Fold again 1 1/2" and iron flat.

Step Five: Stitch two lines along the bottom folded edge as shown. Reinforce your beginning and ending with back stitches. Repeat with other side.

Step Six: Make a mark 2" and 4" in from both ends of your dowel, and drill through. Sand your rough edges and stain if you'd like. I chose to leave mine natural.

LastStep Seven: Place your canvas on a large sheet of cardboard, and paint your design on one side. Let it dry, and then paint a design on the other side (optional). If you're using printed fabric, be sure it's upholstery weight or outdoor fabric to ensure its strength. 

Step Eight: Tie a knot at one end of your 16' rope so that there is about 3" of a tail. Melt the end so it won't fray. Thread it down through the outer hole of your oak dowel and up from the widest corner of one side of your canvas seat to the narrow corner of the top. Then tie a knot about 3' from your first knot, and thread it up into the oak dowel. Continue to thread it down into the hole 4" from the other edge, and measure 3' from the loose end, and tie a loose knot. Thread it down through the other canvas pocket and back up through the last hole before tying a knot with a 3" tail. If your two sides aren't even, adjust your knots before pulling them tight. 

Hang itStep Nine: Find the center of the rope above your dowel, and tie a knot with about 8"-10" of room above it. Attach your spring link, and then your quick link, and finally hang it on a hook screwed safely into a ceiling beam or large tree branch. Be sure to adjust all of your knots to make sure the seat sits evenly. Test it out by hanging on it before sitting in it to make sure everything is secure. 

Handmade Hammock ChairReading ChairIndoor Hammock Chair DIYA soft, round pillow in the bottom of the seat can be added for extra cushioning for smaller sitters. Height can be adjusted depending on the height of your ceiling. Our porch ceiling is lower than the inside of our house, so you can add another loop of knotted rope, or just cut your rope to be about 2'-4' longer depending on the height of your ceiling. I hope your chair gets as much use as ours is getting! -Rachel

Note: As always, use this tutorial at your own risk. This chair is made for gentle swaying and not actual swinging. Please use with caution. A Beautiful Mess and Rachel Denbow are not responsible for any injury or loss from execution of this tutorial. Safety first, y'all!

Credits // Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with Paris from the ABM Fresh Collection.

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