Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)   First of all, let me just say a resounding you're welcome to all you fellow cat owners out there. I know how tough it can be to love the adorable little kitty that naps on the couch with you but not always love the rest of the kitty gear that comes with that furry little face. So far, I've done my best to upgrade versions of cat essentials with a color-blocked scratching post, junk food kitty toys, a hand-stamped cat collar, and even a mini Palm Springs scratch house to make the feline essentials fit in (rather than stand out) from our home decor. Now, while all these things have really helped integrate our human and cat worlds, there is still one area I haven't gotten around to making aesthetic improvements in—the litter box. I think I didn't feel the need for a litter box cover in our last house because we had a separate laundry room where we could keep all those kitty necessities, and it was rather hidden under a shelf in a corner. At this house, however, the laundry is actually in the garage with no kitty access to the house. So we have to do the dreaded "litter-box-in-the-middle-of-the-room" scenario. Ever since we moved last year, doing a DIY cover has been on my to-do list. So here we are!  Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)
-sheets of 1/2" thick plywood (one big enough to fit your 4 sides or several smaller sheets)
-1 1/2" wide boards for your rooftop (I used 6 boards that were about 30" long.)
-wood glue
-miter saw (optional but needed if you want a top that opens)
-2 small hinges
-cat shaped opening template
-wax paper

To determine the size that your box cover should be, you'll need to first measure the length and width of your litter box to make sure it will fit. Take the measurements and use the guide above to find what size your panels should be (don't forget you need two sides and two front pieces). The above dimensions should give you a pretty snug fit with about 1/4" of perimeter space between the litter box and the cover, but you can always make the cover bigger if you want (you just don't want it smaller than your litter box obviously). 

Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)
Draw out your dimensions for all four sides onto your plywood sheets and use a jigsaw to cut out your sides.

Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)Determine how big you want your cat-shaped opening to be and print out your template the correct size. You'll probably have to print it on multiple pages and tape together unless you have a large printer. Remember that you want the opening to be big enough for the cat to use, so make sure they have room to get through it comfortably (I made mine about 12" wide). Trace the opening onto the center of the front panel 2-3" from the bottom of the panel.

Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)Drill a few holes (at least the width of your jigsaw blade) into your traced cat shape so you have an opening to get the jigsaw into. Use the entry holes to cut out your shape.

Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial) Sand the edges of each of your panels to remove any rough spots.

Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)Match up your panels so that the sides are between the front and back panels with sheets of wax paper underneath to catch any extra glue. It's helpful to have an extra set of hands for this part (thanks, Todd!) when trying to get the pieces squared up. Use wood glue and tape to keep the pieces in place while the glue sets (a few strategically placed boxes would work as well).

Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)Once the glue is set, use a few nails to hammer your box together from the front and back panels. 

Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)If you have access to a miter saw, you'll take your 1.5" boards and use the saw to cut four of them at the correct angle so they meet together at the peak of your roofline (on the front and back) with a 1/2" overhang on the bottom edges. While I'm sure there are more technical ways of figuring out what that angle is before cutting it, I just use scrap pieces of wood and keep cutting angles and adjusting until I find the right one. It's actually pretty fast that way and my dimensions ended up needing a 25° angle to meet up correctly. Center your 4 boards, and then measure the distance between the front and back boards and cut 8 more boards that will fit in between them.

If you don't have access to a miter saw, you can use your jigsaw to cut 8-10 of the 1 1/2" boards that will run from the front of the roof to the back (with about 1/2" overhang on both sides). Just space them out evenly across the roof and nail into place after painting. You won't have the option to open the roof this way, but it will look pretty similar and you can just clean the box from the front opening instead. 

Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)Space your 8 boards equally over some wax paper between your 4 angled boards and use wood glue to adhere into place. I glued them together over a cutting mat so I could use the lines below to make sure the pieces were squared up correctly.

Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)Paint your cover and your roof pieces your desired color, and then attach the two roof halves with your hinges once the paint is dry. Decide which half of the roof you'll want to open for cleaning purposes. Then glue or nail the other half of the roof shut for stability when opening the roof. Place your cover over your litter box and admire your hard work!

Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)Yes, Need This! Litter Box Cover DIY! (click through for tutorial)                  It looks SOOOOOO much better if you ask me! You can also add as many or as few slats to the roof as you want to expose more or less of the litter inside from the top view, but some cats don't like to be totally closed in from above (while others don't mind it), so use your cat mama judgement on that one. Either way, this is a giant visual improvement for us, so I'm thrilled with how it came out, and it got, ahem, used pretty quickly once it was put out. So I think the cats like it too. If you've been looking to improve your litter box situation, then this may be just the solution for you! xo. Laura

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

Rock Gem Soap               Diamond Soap
Hi, friends! I don't have a lot of experience making soaps, so when it came to creating this DIY, I was surprised to find how relaxing and fun it was to create different colors and combinations for these soaps. At first I was going to go with JUST the rectangle silicone mold and then hand slice facets to create a gemstone look. However, I got this crazy idea at the last minute to find a diamond shaped silicone mold and show you how those look too using this method. I couldn't resist! I just love how each one came out unique and beautiful... just like a gem. ;) 

-melt and pour soap base in clear and opaque
-soap colorants
-favorite essential oils 
-silicone mold, I used this rectangle one and this diamond one
-glass pyrex pitchers
-silicone spatula
-disposable plastic cups

Rock Gem Soap Rock Gem Soap  Step One: To create the different colors that you'll need for your soaps, first create 6-9 solid colored soaps. I used a combination of clear and opaque soap base and mixed in various soap colorants to create the colors I liked. This part is really the creative part. Have fun mixing up colors and using different soap bases for a beautiful variety. I found that using the same color and pairing it with the opaque or the clear gave me a totally different look. To melt down your soap base, simply (and carefully) cut away small cubes of your melt and pour soap and pop a handful in the microwave in a pyrex pitcher. Use your spatula to mix the base until it's completely melted. At this point you'll add in your desired essential oils (I used a citrus scent) and colorants.

Mix together and pour your color into a plastic cup. You'll repeat this for each color you want to create. I ended up doing 9 but probably could have done more since I enjoyed this step so much. :) Let your soaps cure before moving on to the next steps. I left mine overnight, but if you're impatient, you could store them in the fridge for a few hours, I won't tell. ;)

Rock Gem Soap   Step Two: Once your colorful soaps are done setting, take them out of their plastic cups. I ended up having to break the plastic cups to get them out, which was totally fine since they were disposable. Next, slice up your soaps into various shapes and sizes. Set aside. 

Rock Gem Soap
Step Three: To create the hand-cut gemstone soaps, I started by adding a sprinkle of cosmetic grade micro glitter to the bottom of the silicone mold. Please note that you definitely want this to be cosmetic grade and not craft glitter! After having a little too much fun with the glitter, I started adding the slices of colors into each mold. I liked adding a lot more to the bottom of the mold and making the pieces more sparse at the top. I also made sure to use colors randomly in order to get really unique looks. 

Rock Gem Soap     Rock Gem Soap      Step Four: Melt a block of opaque and clear base in two separate glass pitchers. I found that having them hot and melted at the same time created a more organic look to the soaps in the end since one or the other didn't get time to set too long before pouring in the other base. I started with the clear base and slowly poured it over each mold and finished it off with the opaque base filling it to the top. Let your soaps sit overnight or in the fridge for a few hours. 

Rock Gem Soap       Rock Gem Soap        Step Five: Peel your soaps out of their molds. I loved this part! It was so neat to see how each one turned out and the variations. Using a knife, I slowly cut facets into each soap bar to create a gemstone. There really wasn't any method to the slicing, I was just cutting away to see how each soap formed. Again, each one ended up looking totally different and so beautiful!
Rock Gem Soap              Rock Gem Soap           Rock Gem Soap
To use the diamond silicone mold instead of the rectangle, I did the exact same steps except that for the second batch, I used only clear soap base and one color for each soap to see how they would turn out. I love the semi-clear gem look with the single color a lot, especially with that deep indigo color! 

DiamondSoap   Diamond Soap Diamond Soap       Easy and beautiful! These seriously make the most charming gifts and would be great for a guest bathroom. Enjoy soap making! Lots of love, Sav.

Credits // Author and Photography: Savannah Wallace. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions

Spiced latte hand soapWe love making our own soap and bath products so much that we thought we would share some of our favorites with you. All of these make excellent gifts too! Let's start with this spiced latte hand soap. It smells so good, and it's great for exfoliation.

Homemade beeswax candlesHomemade beeswax candles burn clean, smell amazing and are so pretty when they are lit.

DIY soap on a rope Soap on a rope would be fun to make with the kiddos. Aren't they cute?

Rose water face mist DIYFace mists are super refreshing, and they help set your makeup. This one is made with rose water and other natural ingredients, and it smells so good!Homemade bath bombsHave you tried making your own bath bombs? Be sure to watch this little video tutorial!

Grapefruit mint poppyseed soapThese grapefruit mint poppyseed bars are an instant pick-me-up.

Make your own minty cooling body mistHit the reset button with our cooling body mist made with peppermint and lavender oils. 

Color blocked soap DIYColor blocked soap is easier to make than you think! Are you already dreaming of color combinations?

Make your own pillow mistElsie swears by this DIY pillow mist every night. 

DIY stained glass soapLove how pretty these stained glass soaps are.

Green tea and lemon bath bombsSo cute. You can get really creative with the packaging if you're gifting these green tea and lemon bath bombs.

Make your own grapefruit lemonade lip scrubPair our grapefruit lemonade lip scrub with a soothing face mask, and you've got your own spa experience at home. 

Treat yourself this weekend!! xo -The ABM team

Color Correcting          Color Correcting        Color correcting has resurfaced as a makeup trend this year, and numerous companies came out with color correcting palettes and products to make it easy for anyone to try color correcting for themselves.

To be honest, I'm not a fan of having too many layers on my face. I love letting my skin breathe as much as possible, especially since my skin tends to be dry and moody. ;) But every now and then I do love to go all out and do a full face, especially for a night out or a special occasion. Let's be real, having alone time to sit and listen to music or catch up on a favorite show (totally watching Once Upon a Time from the beginning right now!) and just spend way too much time doing my makeup is sometimes the "me time" I love and need! Anyone else with me?? :)

Today I'm going to break down the idea of color correcting and make it super easy for anyone who wants to give it a go! So who's color correcting for? Really, anyone! If you have some discoloration, spots you want to hide, dark circles under your eyes or uneven skin tone, using a color correction method under your makeup can seriously do wonders! 

Where I struggle with discoloration the most is having blue/purple in the inner corner of my eyes, darkness under my eyes and a lot of redness around my nose area. Not to mention a few acne scars from my teenage years (boo!) and a few breakout spots on my face. I'll walk you through my personal process for color correcting, and then leave you with some easy tips for doing it on your own at home!

Most of the time people get overwhelmed by the colors and don't really know where to start and what colors to use where. As an easy reference, I've included a picture of a color wheel below. We are going back to the basics of color theory! If you take a look at the wheel, you'll notice that orange is directly across from the color blue. Green is directly across from the pinks and reds. The color that is directly across from the problem color you are trying to correct is the color you'll want to use on that area. Pretty neat, huh? Let's jump into the step-by-steps.

Color Correcting           Step One: Prime your face before getting started. I like to use a light moisturizer to prime my face before applying makeup. I suggest using your favorite primer. 

Step Two: I'm first going to address the dark blue/purple area in the corners of my eyes. I'm using a cream product, so I'll dab my finger in it to help apply to the area and blend in lightly. The trick is to not apply too much and not too little, just enough to cover the area until you no longer see the problem color coming through. It's OK if it leaves the color on your face, don't worry, we'll get it covered up.

Pro Tip: I always suggest applying your creams before your powders. If you do it the opposite way, your makeup can tend to break up and look uneven. Since I have a cream foundation and concealer, I decided to use cream correctors instead of powdered ones. Most kits are creams, so you shouldn't have a problem finding one you like!

Step Three: Using the light peach (because my skin tone is very fair), I blended this out under my eyes to help the slight dark circles in that area.

Color Correcting Made EasyStep Three: The green shade is one of my favorites since it helps even out redness. I tend to have a lot of hormonal redness around my nose, chin and cheeks, so I used my fingers and a brush to lightly apply the green in those areas. 

Color Correcting  Since those are the main places I wanted to address, I went ahead and stopped there.

Here is an easy guide on what colors to use for your skin needs below:

Purple: Corrects yellow. Brightens and helps with dullness and sallowness. 
Pink: Corrects brown. Great for dark spots, age spots and sunspots. Ideal for fair skin.
Yellow: Corrects purple. Covers mild redness and purple/blue under eye areas. Brightening.
Green: Correct redness. Great for more intense redness, visible capillaries and breakouts. 
Red: Corrects green/blue. Especially great for covering dark circles on deep skin. 
Orange: Corrects blue. Covers dark circles, better for medium skin tones.
Peach: Corrects blue. Also covers dark circles and hyper-pigmentation, better for fair skin tones. 

Color Correcting            Step Four: Using a beauty blender, I applied my foundation over the color correcting. After this step, you shouldn't see the color correcting you've done, instead you should have a very even look to your skin. 

Color Correcting Made Easy Step Five: To add brightness, I applied my concealer over my foundation where my face naturally has the most light (under eyes, bridge of nose, forehead, chin etc.) and as a little extra to some of those pesky breakouts. ;) 

Pro tip: Since we used so many layers, I suggest using a setting powder to set your under eye area in order to prevent creasing.
Color Correcting Made Easy  And we are done! This will give you a very even but one dimensional look, so I highly suggest adding a little color back into those cheeks with some contouring, blush and highlight. Check out my highlighting and contouring post for some of my favorite tips on that method! 

Color Correcting
So what do you think of color correcting? Is it something you would try out for yourself? I like that it's an option for an extra special occasion and possibly for those times here and there when certain areas are really struggling and I just want to brighten everything up. :) There are a lot of good palettes out there too! I used the one by Tarte, but this one, this one and these have all had great reviews too. Enjoy, friends! Lots of love, Sav

Credits //Author and Photography: Savannah Wallace. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions.

Should I launch my blog with contentTime for another question in our Blogging Q&A series. If you missed the last few, check here. Today's question is again from a Blog Life student. I feel like I say that every time, but they have a lot of really good questions. :) She asks:

"This may be a silly question, but when I first launch my blog, do I launch it with posts in each category already posted prelaunch or just have a welcome post and a couple of posts on the day of launch? Just wondering what would interest readers more in your opinion. Thanks for all the awesome information!"

We actually hear this question pretty often from bloggers who are just starting out or who are in the middle of a rebrand and relaunch of their site. The number one rule is—don't over think it to the point that you don't press the go button! It's better to start than to be perfect. Because perfection is like a unicorn... we all understand the concept, but ultimately it's not a real thing. ;)

OK, here's a couple of considerations, even though we don't believe there's a black and white, right or wrong way to do this. So first, how many categories do you plan to write about? Some blogs are pretty focused while others have a few main topics and lots of mini topics from time to time. Here at ABM we fall under the "not super focused" category. Yes, we mainly write about home decor and food, but we also write about lots of other things that we are interested in or we've found our readers are interested in (like blogging tips, for example). If your site will focus on a bunch of different topics, it is a good idea to communicate this clearly out of the gate. This might mean having at least one post in each area, or it might be something you can communicate in your blog design or launch day post. But the main thing you are looking to avoid is if someone shows up the first week and it feels like your site is all about knitting, and then they show up the next week to a recipe post. They may feel confused, or if they don't like recipe posts, they may feel turned off. You don't want them wondering if it's the same site (since they are new, they may not have your logo, header, etc. committed to memory yet). And you also don't want them feeling like maybe you've already changed direction, so they shouldn't come back again. So think on those challenges before your launch. 

Second, if you already have an audience, like you are rebranding or you had a big audience on FB or IG and are just now starting a blog, then you also might want to consider finding ways to give them a taste of everything you will be focusing on. Again, this is just to help them understand what to expect and why they should keep reading. 

On the other hand, if you are launching and you are starting from ground zero (no audience to speak of, yet!), then you might be better off having 3-5 posts (or more) done in your drafts, but on launch day, just publish one post and save the others so you can spread them out and give yourself plenty of breathing room as you find your blogging zone. If you are new to blogging, finding any way to help take the pressure off and give yourself more time to create and make those posts the best they can be while you are still learning is SO helpful. 

But again, the most important thing is to START. Don't let small concerns, like how many posts to have ready before launch, slow you down. Choose something that fits your situation and get moving! We learn best if we are actually doing the thing rather than just thinking about doing the thing. :) 

Let us know if you have other blogging, business, or other questions that might pertain to this series as we love to know what your dealing with in your world! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Elsie Larson. Image Design: Mara Dockery.


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