Spicy Peanut Noodles

Spicy peanut noodles  I'm going to file this under meals-that-take-30-minutes-or-less-to-make. I'm a big, big fan of this file. Actually, we don't have a tag for this on the blog?! I should add one.

I often find myself at home, getting ready to make something that I've shared on the blog before, and all of sudden I can't remember all the ingredients or the quantities. I have the WORST memory! I blame technology (and myself; that's only fair). But think about it, anything I need to know is basically just a few taps away on my smart phone. So, why remember anything when I could just look it up anytime?

So, I remember nothing. For example, I only know two phone numbers by heart. My parent's landline and Elsie's cell. I don't even know my husband's cell number by heart. And I think it's because I've known those first two numbers since before I ever had a cell phone, so I had to remember them.

Spicy peanut noodlesEnough about technology. Let's talk about pasta. I think pasta might be my favorite food group. This dish may seem sort of strange at first. I mean, peanut butter in a pasta sauce? What? But it sort of reminds me a thinner version of peanut dipping sauce, which is a heavenly thing.

It's best to use a natural or less-sugar peanut butter for this, but use whatever you have on hand. Also, you could easily add more vegetables to this dish to add more nutrition. Sometimes when I make this at home I use about 2 ounces less pasta and add another bell pepper. Feel free to customize to your heart's desire; that's what cooking is all about. :)

Spicy peanut noodles recipeSpicy Peanut Noodles, serves two.

8 ounces linguine or spaghetti noodles
1 bell pepper
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1-2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (depending how much spice you like)
2-3 tablespoons pasta water
1 tablespoon chopped green onion

Cook the pasta according the package directions. Once it's time to drain the pasta, be sure to reserve 2-3 tablespoons for the sauce. You can use water if you forget, but the pasta water is just a little bit more starchy so it works well in sauce.

Spicy peanut sauceIn a bowl, stir together the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire, and chili garlic sauce. Set aside.

Cooking bell peppersRemove the center of the bell pepper with the seeds, and slice thin. Sauté in a little sesame or olive oil over high heat for a couple of minutes until they begin to soften.

Once the pasta is ready, toss the pasta with the peppers. Pour the sauce, with the pasta water added, over the top of everything, and toss to combine.

Spicy peanut noodles Serve warm topped with a few green onions. Eat, preferably while watching your favorite TV show (The Mindy Project). Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

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How to Stay Motivated & Achieve Your Goals (Part 1: List-Making!)

Great tips for using motivational lists to reach goals (click through for more)  Hey guys, it's Laura. You may have noticed that we are very goal motivated here at ABM. We love to challenge ourselves to new ideas or ventures and encourage you guys as well to achieve your own “reach for the stars” ideas. While the first step to reaching new goals is deciding on what you want to accomplish (new business idea, read more books, create new art, eat healthier, etc.), the next part is figuring out a pathway to making that dream a reality. Sometimes the steps to that goal are clear, sometimes it’s a learn as you go approach, but either way there is one giant thing that you need to know in order to reach your ultimate goal—what motivates you? By that question I don’t mean, “What gets you out of bed in the morning and drives you to succeed?” but more so the question of, “Now that I know where I want to end up, how do I keep myself moving from point A until I get to point B?” I’ve talked about this question a lot with different people as we’ve shared different strategies (and struggles) to stay motivated, and I’ve learned that there is certainly not one motivational trick that works for everyone. That being the case, I thought I’d ask a few others on our ABM staff to share the ways that they personally keep on track when working towards a goal, and hopefully, if you’re struggling to stay on track you’ll find that one of these ways will work for you too. Emma is up first to share what works best for her! Take it away, Emma!

Great tips for using motivational lists to reach goals (click through for more)I'd like to say that staying motivated is only tough in the middle of a super hard task. But the truth is way worse. Staying motivated is ALWAYS tough. Whenever I'm dreaming up my next big thing, I'm usually daydreaming about the end result. We all long for that moment when you cross the finish line, when you launch that new website, when you publish that book, when you land that promotion at work, etc. The end of the story is so exciting; it's what you are striving for! But all the rest, which is basically 99% of the task, is sometimes really tough to get through. 

You want to know my secret to staying motivated? It's simple, and it doesn't have to cost you a penny. It's this: to-do lists! That's right. Make a list and watch your dreams become reality. Really! It is amazing how much you can get done when you employ the simple act of writing down everything you need to do. Why does this work (other than being plain ol' black magic!)? Here are my three theories on the magic of list-making:
1. Making a list keeps you from getting distracted. 
I am convinced that most dreams in life don't get discarded because of failure or lack of drive; I think they fall by the wayside most often simply because we get distracted. I mean, I can't speak for you, but I often feel like I'm being pulled in a million directions every day. Having a to-do list (whether it's for your day or a list of your big goals for the next five years) can bring focus to your life. It can help you to know when you need to say no to a good (but not great) opportunity. It can help you to cut the time-wasting activities out of your life, unless watching a million hours of TV this year IS one of your goals. Especially if I'm feeling overwhelmed, like I have way too much to do, if I take a moment to list everything out and see what's most important and pressing, this will save me so much time. And I have a greater chance of completing my most-important-to-me tasks. 
2. Making a list keeps you going.
Have you ever been guilty of what I like to call the half-finish? See, if you are half done with something, then you actually aren't "finished." Right? Yet for some reason I'll get halfway done with a task or goal and feel either accomplished or overwhelmed and think, "Well, look how much I already got done," and then promptly pat myself on the back.
Half-finishing is not finishing. And that's the sad truth. And a solid to-do list can help remind us of this. If I have ten things written down on my to-do list for the day, and I only have five marked off by 3 pm, then I know I better not spend ten minutes congratulating myself, because I'm actually behind! Move it, Emma! You've got five more things to get done today! 
A good to-do list can, gently, remind you to keep going. A clear finish line lets you know when the race has been run.
3. A fully crossed-off list is one of the best feelings in the world. AND it's addictive.

I love that feeling of accomplishment. I know I keep sort of throwing in running analogies here, but it just seems to fit. And here comes another, although this is more of a personal story. Did you know that last year I ran my first half marathon? I am NOT a runner. I am pretty un-athletic all around. But Elsie and I wanted to run a half marathon, so we trained for months and months, and then we did it. My time was nothing to brag about, at all. But I remember crossing the finish line with a few tears streaming down my cheeks because I felt SO proud. I know I was so glad I had sunglasses on at the time because I was really embarrassed of those tears. But there were moments in the race when I didn't know if I could do it. There were so many times during training when I thought, "What am I doing? I can't run this far!" But I did it. And crossing that finish line was such a great feeling. 

And marking off a final item on a big to-do list is really very similar. It's a moment to be proud of. And believe me when I say, it's totally addictive! You'll want to do it again and again once you feel that first rush of success. 
Great tips for using motivational lists to reach goals (click through for more)Go forth and achieve great things, you guys. You totally can! I'm rooting for you. xo. Emma.
Credits // Author: Emma Chapman and Laura Gummerman.  Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Lillian from the Lightroom collection of  A Beautiful Mess actions.
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Marbled Clay Ring Dish

So pretty! easy marbled ring dish (click through for tutorial) I've come to a realization, and I have a confession to make—I am a litterer. A ring litterer that is. Ever since I started doing the multi-ring stacking trend, they are scattered all over my house, as I take them off to work outside, do the dishes, or hop in the shower. So far I've been lucky, and I haven't had any mysteriously disappear, but I thought it might be a good idea to keep some ring dishes throughout the house to insure it stays that way. And what's an easy and cheap way to make a ring dish? Why, out of clay of course!

So pretty! easy marbled ring dish (click through for tutorial)
-white, black, and colored oven bake clay
-X-Acto knife or plastic clay knife
-small bowl that is oven safe
-gold liquid gilding and small paintbrush
-rolling pin or large round jar
-large can or jar to trace around

So pretty! easy marbled ring dish (click through for tutorial)             1. Roll each color of clay that you want to use into a snake about 5" long. I usually make two larger rolls of white, a medium roll of grey, a small roll of any color I am using, and then an extra small roll of black.

2. Combine the smaller rolls into one big roll and twist together.

3.  Roll the large twist into a snake about twice the original length to combine the colors. Twist the ends opposite ways after every few motions to give the colors more of a candy cane look. Once it's twice the length, fold the snake in half and twist the two ends together, as pictured above. Repeat the rolling, folding, twisting, and rolling again process 2-3 times. 

4. Smoosh all the clay into a ball. You want to see most of your colors on the surface of the ball, so pull the ball in half and re-smoosh together if you don't. 

5. Use a rolling pin or glass jar to roll out your marbled ball. I like to use a glass jar so I can see what is happening as I roll harder or softer over certain colors. The colors should blend together and create a marbled pattern as you roll over it. Try rolling different directions, from the edge, from the center, etc. to push the clay from different angles. Roll to 1/4" thick.

6. Use a round item about 6" wide as a template and cut out your dish circle with an X-Acto or clay knife.

7. Place your circle gently into a oven-safe bowl that is a little smaller than your circle so it will sag a little in the center and give you more of a dish shape. Bake the bowl according to the temperature on the clay package (mine was 15 minutes at 275°F). Remove the bowl from the oven and allow the clay to cool before turning the larger bowl upside down and tapping lightly until the clay dish falls out.

8. Use a small brush to paint the rim of the dish and allow the paint to dry.

So pretty! easy marbled ring dish (click through for tutorial)            So pretty! easy marbled ring dish (click through for tutorial) While the color combinations are endless, my favorites were made with white, grey, black, and two bright colors that make a pretty third color when mixed. I would definitely suggest using a oven-bake clay like Sculpey that is already soft to start with. It will save you a lot of time and finger strength than if you use the clay that requires a lot of kneading to get it to that softness.

These bowls turned out even better than I hoped they would, and you can see I was able to make quite a few of them, so I'll definitely be giving a few away as gifts. How cute would one of these be as a present with a piece of jewelry already in it? xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman. Photography: Laura Gummerman and Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella from A Beautiful Mess actions.

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5 Bean (Vegetarian) Chili

5 bean vegetarian chili recipe via A Beautiful MessLately we've been eating chili about once a week at my house. This is how dinner goes: I list off three or four things I can make for dinner, and Trey picks one. I usually list them in the order I want to eat and/or make them. So if I really want pizza, I list that first. But lately, no matter what, if chili is on the list Trey always picks that. And I can't complain, as it's SO easy to make and can take just around 30 minutes (or less!). So we've been eating a lot of chili lately.

I'd also like to let you know that Trey often cooks dinner too. He's a master at stir fry and boxed macaroni (among other things). :)

5 bean vegetarian chili recipe via A Beautiful Mess Anyway, back to chili. Since we are mostly vegetarians, most of my chili's revolve around beans as the main ingredient of the dish. This is the version I've been making most often at home. You can cut this recipe in half if you are feeding just two, or you can warm this up the next day for another chili dinner. 

Ingredients for vegetarian chili5 Bean Vegetarian Chili, serves 4.

45 oz. canned (cooked beans), usually 3 cans. You can use any beans you like, including pinto, kidney, black beans, great northern, or even garbanzo.
14.5 oz. (one can) diced tomatoes
8 oz. (one small can) tomato sauce
1/2 cup cooked corn (canned or frozen)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Easy vegetarian chili recipeCook the onion for 2-3 minutes until it begins to soften. Toss in the garlic and spices, and cook for another minute, stirring so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. 

Now add in the diced tomatoes (and their juices), tomato sauce, beans (drained), and corn (if frozen, thaw it first). Stir and continue to cook until everything is hot. Taste and add salt and pepper as you need. You can serve this as soon as everything is hot, or you can lower the heat and let the flavors mingle a little longer. We pretty much always eat it as soon as it's ready. We're total foodies, obviously.

5 bean vegetarian chili recipe via A Beautiful Mess  At our house we nearly always serve chili over Frito (corn) chips. But tortilla chips or cornbread are great options as well. Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, and some chopped green onions or chives. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

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Sister Rituals

Emma and Elsie of A Beautiful MessAviary in Springfield MOSweet treatsBlueberry tartLately I have been SO thankful for any sister time Elsie and I have been able to find together. Having a big sister for support has been an important part of my emotional health since middle school. 

And everyone knows it's so much easier to talk about life over coffee or while browsing at your favorite store. :)

Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson  Sister shopping dateBootsEmma Chapman Staxx in Springfield MO TightsEmma's wearing: shirt/Target, flannel shirt/F21, skirt/H&M, tights/Nasty Gal, boots c/o Seychelles, purse c/o R.Riveter, hat/Walmart (hunting section-ha!)

Elsie's wearing: Dress/Urban Outfitters, Blazer/Target, Boots c/o BC Footwear

Sister shopping date Elsie is also the kind of shopping companion that will hold up a super cute, but super short skirt or jumper and declare, "This would look perfect on you!" Sometimes I feel like she almost likes shopping for others even more than for herself. Almost. ;)

Over the years we've developed a sort of sister ritual. It's not all that unique or specific to just us (I'm sure a lot of best friends do this too). We will just go shopping and maybe grab a quick coffee and talk about whatever has been going on in our lives. It's funny because I bet you would think that since we work together we do this all day at work, but there just isn't usually time. So we make time to talk and listen to each other. And a little shopping never hurts either.

A Beautiful Mess sistersWhat about you? Do you have any rituals with your best friends? xo. Emma (and Elsie)

P.S. And a big thank you to Staxx and Aviary for letting us take pictures in your establishments. You rock and we love your businesses!

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

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