Natural Deodorant DIY (click through for tutorial If you’ve ever gotten into making your own beauty products before, then you know how addicting it can be. One area that I hadn’t gotten to try yet (but was so curious to see if I liked), was making my own deodorant. If you’ve been trying to switch your body care products to more natural options, then you probably already know about some of the toxins that can be found in many of the antiperspirant and regular deodorants on the market (like aluminum, parabens (preservatives), and questionable chemicals labeled as “fragrance” to name a few). One thing that I like about the more natural DIY versions out there (as well as the one that I use), is that you probably already have most of the ingredients that you need to make your own version at home! And since you are making your deodorant from scratch, you can also customize the scent combination and strength as well.

Natural Deodorant DIY (click through for tutorial)   Natural Deodorant DIY
Recipe slightly adapted from Wellness Mama’s Natural Deodorant

3 tablespoons of coconut oil
3 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons Shea butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
6 drops of lavender essential oil*

2 drops of absolute vanilla oil*
container for deodorant (either a push-up stick or a jar)

*You can use whatever essential oil you like, but this is the combo I love.

Natural Deodorant DIY (click through for tutorial)      Measure out your ingredients into a glass mason jar and loosely place the lid on the top. Add 4-5” of water into a pot and bring the water to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and place your glass jar into the pot. Allow the warm water to melt the ingredients together (you can give the jar a swirl to mix every minute or two).

Natural Deodorant DIY (click through for tutorial)    Once your concoction is liquid, let it cool a little, and then pour it into either a jar or push-up deodorant stick for use. Since coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees, your deodorant will be more solid below that temperature and more of a lotion if it’s warmer. So, how cool you keep your house may determine if you want to use a jar or the stick for your container (you can use either your fingers to apply out of the jar or I’ve also seen people use little spreader sticks to apply).

Natural Deodorant DIY (click through for tutorial)  I was a little skeptical about making this category of product myself, but you know what? I really love it. The smell is great, and it works just as well as the other deodorants I’d been buying, but I can feel really good about what went into making it (my husband really likes it too!). Since it is an oil base, I usually apply it a few minutes before getting dressed so it has time to soak into my skin and I don’t get excess on clothes (kind of the same way you would if you use coconut oil as a lotion). As with all skin products, go easy on the amount you use until you know that it doesn’t react badly with your skin type. I love seeing all the homemade beauty products taking over my bathroom sink, and I can’t wait to find more options I love! xo. Laura

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

How to make a live-edge coffee tableI'm a little worried my coffee table is getting too big for its britches. Every time family or friends come over, they fawn over its beauty. I'm sure my loving gazes aren't helping matters. It's even become difficult for me to enjoy my favorite TV shows because I find myself just watching the table, as if it's about to do a new trick. Nah, it's just sitting there looking like my dreams come true!

Last Spring, Elsie and I were talking about styles of coffee tables that would look nice in her living room. We both loved the idea of a live edge table, but we quickly discovered nice looking ones were shockingly expensive. We're talking over $1K. Yikes! But the more I looked, the more I fell in love with the idea myself. Finally I decided I would DIY a live-edge coffee table if it was the last thing I did! Give me tree rounds or give me death!

This entire project cost me about $215, which shocks me now even as I type this. If you'd like to make your own, I have some tips for you! But you might want to start praying or crossing your fingers now for a little bit of extra luck.

How to make a live-edge coffee tablePlanning Your Coffee Table
The first thing to do when planning your live edge coffee table is to decide on what size and shape you'd like. I selected a relatively round shape because I had a large space to fill in the "L" of my sectional sofa. If I had a long, straight sofa, I may have chosen a longer, rectangular shaped piece of wood.

Be sure to carefully consider the size of your coffee table too! Live edge tables may appear heftier than you expect, dwarfing your sofa in comparison. So if you're uncertain about the size, I'd err on the smaller side. Also keep in mind the thickness of the lumber you'd like. I was sure I wanted a slab of lumber that was thicker than the 2-3" inches that is more commonly found from live-edge lumber dealers. Because of the thicker slab, I had to get shorter legs to keep my coffee table around the height of my sofa. (It's actually a couple of inches shorter than our sofa, which is ideal! We can still put our feet up.)

How to make a live-edge coffee tableLive-Edge Lumber Terminology
It's important to know what kind of lumber you want before you begin sourcing the lumber.

1. Burl Round—The rarest type of tree slice is burl, and it is difficult to get in large slices. Burl is cut from protrusions in the tree trunk—you know, the warty looking guys. These slices will have striking patterns through the grain rather than the even rings you see in tree rounds. Because they're anomalies and not a predictable part of the tree growth, burl is typically very expensive and used for veneer and fine woodworking. You may be able to work with a tree removal service to snatch up the burl from trees they've felled.

2. Tree Round—A tree round is just a horizontally sawn slice of wood which shows the rings of the tree and has a relatively round shape. The actual shape of a tree round will vary depending on the species as well as the individual tree. The base of a tree, near the trunk, will yield a more irregular shape of tree round. The higher up the tree is cut, however, the more uniform the border will be.

3. Tree Slab—A tree slab is a long slice of a log that includes the tree's raw edge. It is cut along the length of the tree rather than across its width. This is a good choice for a table you'd like to fill a longer space. The downside to long tree slabs is that the cut edges on either end of the lumber will not have a live edge. This may or may not be important to you.

Sourcing Live-Edge Tabletop Lumber
The most time consuming and frustrating part of this whole project is definitely sourcing the lumber for the tabletop. I spent many a late night searching local Craigslist ads as well as listings in nearby states. I scoured Etsy and eBay, and I considered how much money I was willing to spend to get the tabletop I wanted. For a while I was thinking that $300 would be the best price I could get on an oval slab about 16"x24" in size. The slab wasn't finished, and was only 2" thick. Not my ideal, and actually more than I was hoping to pay.

Then one night I found a local listing for this thick slab of curly ash, and my heart started pounding out of my chest. This was the one! It was already finished and only $175! And, it was 3'x3', which was an ideal size for the space I wanted to fill. I emailed the seller right then at three o'clock in the morning, and then every day until the poor guy finally responded! I drove out to pick it up within hours and couldn't believe my luck. It was beautiful, and just what I had been hoping for.

My best advice for sourcing lumber is to keep checking Craigslist for "live edge," "tree slice," "tree round," "natural table," and "tree removal service." If you don't have any luck finding ready-made slices, try calling tree removal services to see if you can either pick up lumber from one of their job sites, or maybe they can even work with you to cut a slice that suits your specifications. Make sure you have a vehicle big enough and someone strong enough to help. These big guys are no joke!

How to make a live-edge coffee tableFinishing the Tabletop Lumber
Curing the Lumber—If your lumber is freshly cut, you will need to have it kiln dried before sealing it. If you don't dry it, it will shrink over time and the finish will crack and chip. You can contact a lumber mill for kiln drying services. Kiln drying will cause the lumber to split open in one spot, as you can see in my coffee table. Some expert craftsmen will saw the round in half, and then join it again after drying to avoid this issue while others choose to let the wood dry naturally over years so no splitting will occur.

Filling Holes and Gaps—If there are large holes or gaps in the wood that you worry about (I'm thinking of food and stuff that little kiddos stuff into these things!), you may wish to fill them by pouring epoxy into the cavities. If the hole goes all the way through the wood, cover the bottom of the hole with duct tape before pouring the epoxy.

Smoothing the Edges—If you don't like the look of bark, use a wood chisel to remove it from the edges of your lumber. Then sand it down to smooth the surface. If the surface of your table is roughly sawn, you may wish to have a lumber mill sand it down with an industrial drum sander or you may wish for them to plane it for you. If it's not too rough, you can sand it yourself with a belt sander or rotary sander and lots of sandpaper.

Sealing the Wood—I purchased my lumber already sealed with a high gloss polyurethane, though I would have preferred a satin finish. From what I've read, brush-on polyurethane seems to be the finish of choice for these types of tables, though tung oil or wax would be alternative sealing methods that would require maintenance over time to keep up the waterproof seal. If you want a lighter finish on your table, keep in mind that sealing the raw lumber will generally darken it and bring out the grain, depending on your sealing method. Also, remember that wood naturally darkens over time. To lighten the table, consider pickling or white washing the lumber before sealing it.

DIY coffee table bases

Selecting a Table Base
There are a lot of options for pre-made and custom-made coffee table bases, which means your only limit is your budget. I chose hairpin legs for my table because I already had a set on hand. Who knows what I would've chosen otherwise. I do really like #5 above for a more oval or rectangular-shaped tabletop.

1. Hairpin Legs: These are very easily found online these days. Here is a set of four on Etsy that sells for less than $40.
2. Tulip Base: Finding these vintage bases is hit or miss but worth a shot! Here is one on Etsy currently for $129.
3. X-Frame: This is a great modern design that works with many styles. This one goes for around $100 on Etsy.
4. Cafe-Style Pedestal: These are easy to find and work well with smaller slabs, though short ones are tricky to find. Here is one for $35.
5. Industrial Metal Legs: I love this simple, industrial style of this pair of legs that I found for $68 on Etsy.
6. Steel Spider Base: This is a great masculine style for those who enjoy the industrial modern look. It sells for around $160 here on Etsy.

How to make a live-edge coffee tableBecause I had purchased my slab already finished, all I needed to do was attach the legs! I actually had two sets of hairpin table legs from an old coffee table (the top of which I sold recently to partially fund this project), so all I had to do was walk into the garage, dust off the legs, and grab some heavy-duty screws from my workbench.

How to make a live-edge coffee tableThe trickiest part was deciding on the placement of the legs. Should they form a rectangle? Should I just place them pointed outward at the widest parts of the table and not worry about symmetry or visual balance? I decided to place them in a rectangle and tried to situate the rectangle as centered as possible on the irregularly shaped table.

Hairpin Leg Tip: Use the longest screws that your tabletop thickness allows. Stainless steel screws are the best! If you don't use long, strong screws, the legs will begin to pull away if you drag the table. Use a long driver to reach the screw heads easily when driving them in.

How to make a live-edge coffee tableThis live-edge table is something I'm pretty proud of, even though the most work I did was scrolling through Craigslist ads on my phone. My poor thumbs! But I really love how well it compliments everything else in our living room, adding an organic shape and bohemian vibe to the other straight-laced furnishings around it. And any time I can make something for less than selling price, I think I've accomplished something to be proud of. Can I get a what what?! -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Sweet Potato and Kale Quesadillas (via   The movie Napoleon Dynamite has forever ruined me as I always see the word "quesadilla" and pronounce it in my mind like "armadillo". As if I didn't already mispronounce everything! It's an ongoing problem for me. 

But other than my pronunciation issues, I do love quesadillas! So easy to make, and you can pretty much just fill them with leftover bits of this and that if you are running low on grocery supplies for the week. These, however, are a bit more intentional. 

Sweet Potato and Kale Quesadillas (via I think the inspiration behind this meal, on some level, was me trying to still hold on to summer but add in some flavors that remind me of autumn. I went outside to walk my dogs the other day and it FELT like autumn. I can't totally explain it... the leaves haven't changed colors yet, but something in the air felt distinctively like fall to me. And I both celebrated and felt a little sad since I love both summer and fall – it's complicated. :) 

Anyway, if you like quick, easy, and delicious dinners, then you'll love these. I also have a fool-proof method for flipping quesadillas without all the filling flying out. 

Easy kale recipesSweet Potato and Kale Quesadillas, makes 2-3

1 medium to large sweet potato, approx. 9 oz.
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper
2 oz chopped kale
1 tablespoon oil (I used olive oil, but any cooking oil is fine.)
4-6 flour tortillas (4 if the larger "burrito" size, 6 if smaller. I used whole wheat flour tortillas. You could also choose something gluten free if you need.)
2-3 teaspoons mayo
5-6 oz shredded cheese (Colby or something mixed is great)
cilantro, lime, avocado, and/or sour cream to serve

Peel and rinse the potato and cut into small cubes. Chop the onion. Cook the potato and onion in a little oil over medium/high heat for about 8 minutes. Then add the minced garlic, cumin, chili powder, and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until you can easily mash one of the pieces of potato with the side of your spatula. Remove to a plate. 

Easy sweet potato recipesIn the same, still hot pan, add the chopped kale and cook just for 1-2 minutes until it turns a brighter green and begins to wilt. Remove to the same plate with the sweet potato. Turn the heat down to low.

Have two tortillas ready and sitting out on a cutting board or large plate. Spread a teaspoon or two of mayo over one side of each. Add one to the pan, mayo side facing up and top with 1/3 to 1/2 of the sweet potato and kale filling. Then sprinkle on 1/3 to 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Top with the remaining tortilla, mayo side down. Allow to cook for a couple minutes, then use your spatula to peek under the bottom tortilla to see if it's getting brown spots yet.

Once it looks crispy, but not burnt, slide it out of the pan and onto the cutting board or plate that previously held the tortillas. Top with another plate, so you've made a sandwich that is: cutting board or plate, quesadilla, another plate. Now flip this over so the uncooked tortilla is on bottom, and then slip this into the hot pan. If you need to add a bit more oil to the pan, do so before adding the quesadilla. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Repeat for each quesadilla. 

Sweet Potato and Kale Quesadillas (via with a bit of fresh cilantro and sliced avocado if you have it. I love to squeeze a little lime juice over everything just before eating. But that's it – easy as can be. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

Elsie's Guest Bedroom ©AlyssaRosenheckTo me there are two kinds of rooms when you decorate—rooms you makeover and rooms that evolve over time. 

This room is definitely the second kind. 

When we first bought the house, it looked like this, and while the walls were yellow, it wasn't the kind of yellow that inspires me. So we went white. Always a good choice. Fresh, clean, easy. And it looked like this. I liked it but didn't love it. I realized that what I needed was MORE of a statement. I decided to really go all out and decorate it like the ultimate hotel room. Since it's not one of the main living areas, I felt like it was a good place to really go BOLD. So we took a giant leap... wallpaper

Then I just ran with the theme and embraced sort of a sunny, tropical vibe. This rattan bed really completed the space. For, like, five minutes I thought about switching to a more neutral rug, but then I decided that the mix of patterns FEELS good to me. Rules are made to be broken, you know? (here's the link to this rug)

Our light fixture is custom made from Sazerac Stitches. It's super pretty and perfect for the space! 

I love having guests, and this room is one of my favorite rooms in the house. Here are photos taken this summer by Alyssa Rosenheck for our domino feature. This room didn't make it into the magazine. I think probably because it was the fall issue and these colors just aren't autumn. That said, I wanted to make sure to show you the photos anyway, since I had so much fun styling the room just for that shoot! 

Elsie's Guest Bedroom ©AlyssaRosenheck This portrait of my grandmother is one of my most prized possessions. In our last home, it hung right by the front door. It was really bothering me that I couldn't find the perfect home for it in our new house, so I'm really happy it gets to live in such a happy space. Also, ponytail palms are one of my favorite plants right now! 

Elsie's Guest Bedroom ©AlyssaRosenheck  My friend Jess of The Northern Needle made this macrame. I love it SO much! It works really well with the busy wallpaper. 

Elsie's Guest Bedroom ©AlyssaRosenheck    Still obsessed with these gold planters we found at a flea market in Missouri. Plants make any space feel more alive! 

Elsie's Guest Bedroom ©AlyssaRosenheck     I try to curate a little reading material for each of my guests. This is my favorite coffee table book of all time. So inspiring! 

Elsie's Guest Bedroom      ©AlyssaRosenheckWell, that's all the peeks I have of our guest room for now. It's been one of my favorite rooms to decorate, and I'm so thrilled with the almost-completed room. We've been having guests often, so it's a well-used and loved space in our home. 

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments! xx -Elsie 

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson, Photography/Alyssa Rosenheck


 Check out the new ABM actionsWe are beyond excited to share our new ABM actions with you guys today! We've been developing our new actions with Sarah and Mandi for months and months now. And after lots of testing and tweaking, we are finally ready to share them with you all—hooray!

First, some of you may be wondering what the heck is an action (sometimes called presets)? Photoshop or Lightroom actions are a fast and easy way to apply a wholly edited look to your photos. If you're familiar with how to apply filters within smartphone editing apps (like A Color Story), this is similar but is for Photoshop or Lightroom, but with different looks and even more customization options. Actions are easy to download and load into Photoshop or Lightroom, and they make editing photos lightning fast without sacrificing quality. Whoa! So if you love the look of the photos you see here on ABM, then you'll love using our actions on your own images. 

Why new actions? Good question! As many of you know and may have experienced firsthand, we created our first round of ABM actions and launched them in early 2014. Over the past few years, we've grown in our photography skills and watched photography styles change slightly over that time as well. Our entire team uses the ABM actions for almost every post you see here on our site, and we all began to feel it was time to refresh them. So we used what we've learned over the past few years to develop new sets for ourselves, to help with our own workflow. And of course, we are happy to offer them to you all as well! 

Basics exampleWe've created three collections for Photoshop and one big collection for Lightroom, so no matter which program you prefer to edit with, we've got you covered! We're going to show you everything you get in each collection along with some example images so you can get a feel for what you might like most. 

First off, every Photoshop collection comes with 5 basic editing actions. In the above images, I used only two basics to brighten and enhance my image. These are super useful as a starting place before you apply other actions in case your image is just a bit underexposed, overexposed, or just needs to be a little sharper. There are also times when I will edit an image with an action and then apply a basic afterward just to pump up the color, saturation, or sharpness before saving my final look. Our Lightroom Magic collection also includes a few basic editing actions. 

Natural Beauty Collection by ABMFirst up is our Natural Beauty Collection. This Photoshop collection comes with 15 actions in addition to the 5 basics. Our inspiration for this pack was all about enhancing everyday beauty. Most of the actions help to brighten your images while bringing out the colors that are already found. This collection is especially great for portraits, still life or product images, as well as everyday photos. 

Here's a few examples where I applied only one action from the Natural Beauty Collection to an image:

Just kissed exampleJust Kissed gives your photos warm afterglow, which is subtle but super flattering. 

Summer lovin exampleSummer Lovin' brings out those colors while still keeping whites bright and natural looking. 

Timeless exampleTimeless is a go-to for editing food images. We added just a touch of the Color Enhance basic that comes with this collection to the above image as well. You can decrease the opacity on all our Photoshop actions to lessen their effect, giving you TONS of control over your editing process. 

Clean and bright ex 2 wide box Next up is our Clean and Modern collection. This Photoshop collection is all about increasing the mood in your images. We've developed a wide range of actions in this pack to help deepen and enhance your images no matter what feel you are aiming for. This collection comes with 20 actions in addition to the 5 basic editing actions. This collection is especially great for landscape or nature photos, as well as everyday images of people, still life and everything in between.

Here's a few examples:

Hello california exampleWe used two actions from this collection to bring out the warm of this interior shot.

Sweet caroline ex  Sweet Caroline is another action we love for food or still life images—so pretty!

Dusk ex  Look how much one click with the Dusk action changed the depth and feel of this image!

ABM bw actions exOur third Photoshop action collection is called Black and White + Enhance. This collection comes with 10 black and white actions, 10 enhancing actions, and the 5 basic editing actions. We LOVE this collection because it allows you to get really artsy with your images. You can see a quick example of all the black and white actions above. The enhance actions are all about adding artistic elements like: light leaks, lens flare, color fogs, and holga blur. This collection is perfect for taking a cute image and turning it into something truly special! 

Here's a few more examples from the Black and White + Enhance collection:

Bw exMuddy Waters softens while keeping all the beautiful texture in your image. 

Enhance exYou can add a little flare to your images with this pack—photo pun!

And yes, you can buy ALL the Photoshop actions in our Total Collection—you'll even get a discount plus a bonus action just for fun! 

Presetcollage low res Blackandwhite low resAnd for all you Lightroom users—we didn't forget about you! Some of the ABM team prefers to mostly use Lightroom while others are Photoshop lovers for life. We totally get the appeal of both programs, and know that many photographers like using both for different functions during their own workflow. Therefore we've created the ultimate actions collection for you all—Lightroom Magic. Here's a few examples:

ColorEnhance low res Lightroom-ImListening low res Lightroom-mantauk low resOur Lightroom Magic collection includes 30 actions, with both color and black and white options—everything you need to make editing a breeze!

ABM-actions-email-final-1-animatedTo learn more about the A Beautiful Mess action packs, just check our shop site. Got questions? Check the shop FAQ or let us know in the comments. We can't wait to see what you guys will create with these—happy editing! xo. The ABM Team

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Emma Chapman, Elsie Larson, Sarah Rhodes, and Janae Hardy. Actions created in collaboration with Mandi Johnson and Sarah Rhodes. 


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