Emma Chapman    Red jacket white hat Emma Chapman Emma of A Beautiful Mess Zebra bootsGive yourself a big high five, guys—we made it through the holidays! And we've almost made it through 2016! It has been a crazy, wonderful, stressful nail-biter of a year for sure. We've got big plans on the horizon for A Beautiful Mess and both personally for the coming year. But before we dive too deep into resolutions and big-dream plans, let's all take a moment to give thanks for what 2016 brought us. I'll go first. :)

I got to write a cookbook with my sister! This was by far one of the most fun and fulfilling projects I worked on this year and a total dream come true. I can't wait to see what you guys think when it comes out this spring. 

I got to visit the beautiful country of Chile with my husband and a few good friends. It was just magical. You can see a video we shared about the trip here. I got to go on a few fun trips for the year, and Chile as well as Big Sur, CA were among my favorites. :)

We opened the Golden Girl Rum Club in early 2016! We are coming up on our first anniversary, which I am so thankful for. As many of you know, small businesses and especially restaurants/bars often struggle or close within their first year. We certainly learned a lot this year, and we're so glad that we'll be sticking around for a while longer. ;) Thank you, Springfield! 

Emma Chapman Emma Chapman  Emma's Wearing: Cardigan/vintage, The Babe with the Power tee/Oui Fresh, Black slip dress/Foreign Exchange, Jeans/F21, Boots c/o Boden, Hat/Target, Sunnies/Moorea Seal, Bag/Rebecca Minkoff.

I have a feeling I know at least one thing that may be on Elsie's list, so take it away, sister!

Elsie LarsonElsie LarsonElsie LarsonElsie LarsonElsie Larson Elsie's wearing: Sweatshirt, Bag, Jeans/Madewell, Shoes/Swedish Hasbeens

Hey, guys! This was an incredible year!!! I know people are always talking about how hard 2016 was (and I feel that too—trust me), but for now I just want to point out all my favorite parts! 

The most exciting part of 2016 for me was launching our app, A Color Story. It was a huge passion project for me in 2015. We spent almost the whole year working on light, bright airy filters for the app. But seeing the app being used by ALL OF YOU was just the most amazing thing. I scroll through the #acolorstory hashtag every day to see people's photos. It's getting real close to 2 million downloads (in less than a year, you guys!!). I am so proud, so happy and so excited for the future of ACS. 

As Emma said, working on the cookbook was so much fun. It's been a lifelong dream for us, and I can't wait for it to come out in 2017! We're planning to even do a mini book tour this time, so it will be fun to meet some of you guys through that. I'm really excited for you to see the concept of the book because it's something really relatable that I think you will love! 

Some of my favorite posts that I worked on in 2016 were My Living Room Tour, Bedroom Progress, Our Sunny Guest Bedroom, Faux Cement Tile, Rosé Slushees, this watermelon margarita (OMG, you guys!), my Palm Springs inspired kiddo guest room (most loved room in my house by all kiddos!), and the DIY I am maybe the most proud of is this acrylic floating frame. Been considering doing a whole wall of them! 

Oh & this rainbow accent wall that I can finally admit to you is for our future PLAYROOM. AUGH! 

I would say that overall my favorite posts to work on this past year were room makeovers and Sister Style posts. This coming year it's a goal of mine to start sewing again (I want to make a TON of plush for my baby and maybe a quilt) and to learn to do royal icing sugar cookies. I also want to try to finish touring our home this year! Most of the rooms are pretty close since we did that big domino shoot last summer. 

A few highlights from my personal life were our announcement that we are adopting. (Keeping that a secret for almost six months is one of the hardest things I have ever done—ugh!) I can't tell you how incredible this year has been for Jeremy and me just preparing to be parents. It's the most exciting thing we have ever done. We even like doing the boring stuff like when we bought baby proofing stuff for our home study. It all makes me giddy! 

My favorite vacations were our stay at the seashell house and a trip to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree that was just so special and perfectly timed. This next year I would like to maybe go to Cuba or Aruba, keep with our Palm Springs tradition and maybe visit either Charleston or New Orleans. We're trying to really embrace our last seasons of being married without kiddos. :) Really these little trips are just a fun way to distract myself from getting anxious about adoption because it's a long process. 

Well I think I just sufficiently overshared! For NYE Jeremy and I are hosting our first ever seven course dinner party... we are making everything and we are so excited! I'll let you know how it turns out. Haha! Hopefully not a disaster! 

xx -Elsie 

Credits // Author: Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman. Photography: Amber Ulmer and Janae Hardy. Photos edited with the NEWA Beautiful Mess actions.  

Spiced Vanilla Bean Bushwacker (via abeautifulmess.com)If you've never had or at least heard of a bushwacker before, then you probably read the title of this post and thought, "What the wa???" while raising your eyebrows as high as they will go. I know. It's a weird name. 

The first time I ever had one was in Nashville with my then boyfriend, now husband, Trey. He had lived in Nashville and told me that bushwackers were all the rave. Although I was half sure that he was just telling me that so that I'd order one, and then look like a total dork because it wasn't really a thing. I was wrong, and it was delicious!

Spiced Vanilla Bean Bushwacker (via abeautifulmess.com) Most bushwackers that I've seen tend to boast more tropical flavors with ingredients like cream of coconut. This version is an easy-to-make-at-home winter variation with some of my favorite spices: cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Does it make me totally basic to say that some of my favorite spices are cinnamon and nutmeg? 

Don't answer that. 

Bushwacker recipeSpiced Vanilla Bean Bushwackers, makes two small servings

1.5 oz rum
1.5 oz vodka
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg plus more for garnish
4 scoops of vanilla bean ice cream
a big handful of ice

Combine all the ingredients and blend together until smooth. Pour into two small glasses and garnish with a vanilla bean (cut in half), a cinnamon stick, and another grating of fresh nutmeg. Or any combination of those. :)

Spiced Vanilla Bean Bushwacker (via abeautifulmess.com)    I know these servings looks small, but this is such a decadent and delicious drink that I personally love this small size. You could certainly serve the above as one big drink if you wanted. I won't tell. One quick note:

-I used Rhum Barbancourt (15 yr) for the rum in this as that's a rum we usually (at least lately) have at our house. It's a Haitian rum, so it's got some, well, funk to it (in a good way). So I think it goes well with the sweetness of this drink. But if you prefer to use a sweeter rum, as those tend to be what I like to sip on (and you can't just buy 1.5 oz for this drink), then might I recommend Ron Zacapa, Zaya, or Diplomatico. I am not as familiar with vodka I always have at least one at home since it's what I usually buy to make Moscow Mules, which is still a favorite. :)

Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

Turn Your Pants Into Maternity Jeans With This Simple DIY (click through for tutorial)              So, this is my first time being pregnant, and one thing I have learned so far is that there is SO much more stuff to figure out than I would have ever imagined! Aside from all the parenting methods and baby gear selections that I’m learning about, there’s also the teeny tiny issue of what on earth am I supposed to wear over the coming months?? Shopping is normally one of my favorite things, but lately it’s been way more confusing/frustrating than anything else. Everything I see I have to think, “Can I wear that in a month? Can I wear it in 3 months??” I know that some preggos like to stick with the flowy dress route because it’s easier to fit into them the whole pregnancy, and the dresses help keep the summer preggos on the cool side. I’m much more of a jeans girl for everyday life, and since I’ll be doing the majority of my pregnancy in winter (when I’m always, always cold), I wanted to make sure I had some good pregnancy jean options to fit my style. I have found a few pairs of maternity jeans that I like, but the styles can be more limited for sure, and they always seem to be so much more expensive too. With that in mind, I wanted to try out this maternity jean DIY that I saw to see if I could hack the system and make my own jeans from a "regular" pair that I already know I like. Turns out it's pretty easy and you end up with useable front pockets which can be hard to find in maternity jeans. So that's a bonus too!

Turn Your Pants Into Maternity Jeans With This Simple DIY (click through for tutorial)
Supplies:
-pair of jeans that fit from the thigh down (mine are from H&M)
-1/2 yard of knit ribbing*
-fabric scissors
-straight pins
-sewing machine

*You'll see at the fabric store that there are different weights of knit ribbing, and I would suggest pairing a thicker jean with a medium knit and thinner jeans with a thinner knit (don't use the really thick stuff). If you have a pretty heavy weight knit with a thin jegging type jean, you may end up with a noticeable line of pocket bulge with all the layers. So thinner is better with a thin jean.

Turn Your Pants Into Maternity Jeans With This Simple DIY (click through for tutorial)
Turn your pants inside out and use fabric scissors to cut out the back side of your pocket, leaving at least 1/4" of a seam allowance. This will also include cutting through the top of the waistband as you can see, but just make sure when you get to the start of the pocket that you are only cutting out the back layer of the pocket and keep the front pocket line as is. Most jeans have those tiny metal rivets at each side of the pocket, so you'll want to cut some extra room around those so you can still get your sewing machine around them.

Turn Your Pants Into Maternity Jeans With This Simple DIY (click through for tutorial)
This is what your cut will look like from the front of your jeans. The waistband above the pocket is removed but the front layer of the pocket is still in tact.

Turn Your Pants Into Maternity Jeans With This Simple DIY (click through for tutorial) Cut a long rectangle of your knit rib 1" wider than the width of your pocket and twice as long as the height of your pocket (make sure the lines of the knit are running the long way of your rectangle and not the short way). Fold the long rectangle in half and line up the folded edge with the waistband of your jeans. Pin the outside edge of your jean and pocket to the side of the knit rib and sew that side in place. Repeat process on the other side as well.

Turn Your Pants Into Maternity Jeans With This Simple DIY (click through for tutorial) Line up the top of the other side of your knit rib with the top of your waistband and pin that side in place. When lining up the second side, take a minute to think about how tight or loose you want the panels to be. If you had a pretty big gap to close the jeans when you tried them on, you might want more width of fabric in the pockets, and if they almost buttoned, you may want to pull them a little tighter so they aren't too loose. Best case scenario would be to sew the outside edge of each pocket, pin the two inside edges, and then try the pants on to see if you need more or less room (it may be a bit pokey, but it's usually worth it to get the fit right). Also, you might want to take into account how far along you are in your pregnancy and if you have a lot more room to grow or not that much more. Once you get your tightness adjusted, sew the two inside edges in place.

Turn Your Pants Into Maternity Jeans With This Simple DIY (click through for tutorial)        To close up our pockets, simply pin the pockets shut along the bottom line of the pocket and sew in place. Trim any extra fabric around the pocket, and your pants are ready to wear!

Turn Your Pants Into Maternity Jeans With This Simple DIY (click through for tutorial) Once you turn them back around, you should have "regular" looking pants with stretchy pockets that you can actually use—nice!

Turn Your Pants Into Maternity Jeans With This Simple DIY (click through for tutorial) Turn Your Pants Into Maternity Jeans With This Simple DIY (click through for tutorial) It's nice to have a few pairs of pants that have workable zippers, buttons, and pockets like my pants would normally have, and knowing that I can do this to just about any pair of jeans I like is also a great option to have in my arsenal. Since these are very subtle in their secret stretch pockets (normally I would wear a shirt that goes over the pockets and not tucked in), these would also be good post-baby jeans as well. If you've been on the hunt for good maternity options but are a total "jeans girl" like me, then I hope this is the perfect solution for you as well! xo. Laura

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

Hanging Leather Strap Planter DIY (click through for tutorial)         One of my favorite ways to scatter plants throughout the house is to have various sizes and at varying heights—on the floor, on a plant stand, on mantels/shelves, and wall and hanging planters too! I love these gold hanging planters that I made out of bowls last year, but I wanted something a little smaller to hang next to a print in our living room. A leather strap planter seemed like just the thing to take my plant dreams to the sky. So I used some brass hardware and chains to give it a bit more of a glamorous look, and it turned out to be just what I needed!

Hanging Leather Strap Planter DIY (click through for tutorial)Supplies:
-leather or faux leather (I got mine from a local leather store, so see what's in your area or look online.)
-brass chicago screws
-planter (I used the smaller one from this planter set.)
-rotary cutter, cutting mat, and metal ruler (you can also use fabric scissors)
-crop-a-dile or leather hole punch (should be able to punch the size hole of your chicago screw)
-brass chain or rope (check your local hardware store)
-gold key rings (4 per plant)
-cup hook to hang planter from (also use an anchor if hanging a large or heavy plant)

Hanging Leather Strap Planter DIY (click through for tutorial First you'll want to measure your planter to see how long a strap needs to be to go down the side, under, and up the other side of your planter. Add 6" to this length so you have enough room on each end to make the loops for hanging your planter. Use a rotary cutter, metal ruler, and cutting mat (or fabric scissors) to cut two 1" sections of leather your needed length.

Hanging Leather Strap Planter DIY (click through for tutorial  Fold down both ends of each strap 1 1/2" and punch a hole 1/2" from the end of your strap (the hole should go through both layers of leather). Use a chicago screw to attach your folded leather ends together.

Hanging Leather Strap Planter DIY (click through for tutorial   Hanging Leather Strap Planter DIY (click through for tutorial)    Measure up from the bottom middle of your planter where you want the horizontal loop to sit on your planter. Punch a hole through the middle of each strap and layer the straps on top of each other and secure with a chicago screw so they make an "X" pattern. Use the measurement from the bottom middle of the planter to mark 4 holes the same distance from the middle of your "X" (so one on each strap). Punch the holes with your hole punch.

Hanging Leather Strap Planter DIY (click through for tutorial)     Measure loosely the circumference around your planter, add 1" of length for a bit of overlap, and cut another 1" strap this length. Overlap one end 1" onto the other end and punch a hole through both layers. Measure and punch 3 more holes in this strap loop so you end up with 4 evenly spaced holes.

Hanging Leather Strap Planter DIY (click through for tutorial)      Use 4 chicago screws to attach your loop to the four holes you already punched in your "X" strap, and you'll have a little bucket harness!

Hanging Leather Strap Planter DIY (click through for tutorial)       You can also use rope to hang your planter with, but I used key rings and chain to hang the planter from the ceiling so they would compliment the gold of the screws in the leather.

Hanging Leather Strap Planter DIY (click through for tutorial)          Hanging Leather Strap Planter DIY (click through for tutorial)          I love using draping plants (like a banana plant succulent) for hanging planters, and this one looks so pretty with the pale pink leather and gold accents and is a great compliment to the DIY skinny plant stand under it! Variety is the spice of life, and I really do think it's also the secret to having a balanced and varied plant collection as well. So if you're ready to take your plants to the sky, then I hope this DIY is just what you need as well! xo. Laura

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

Homemade Whole Wheat Crackers (via abeautifulmess.com)I am completely soup obsessed right now, and I'm not sorry about it! And do you know what goes well with soup? Answer: crackers. So I've been experimenting with homemade crackers again. 

Homemade Whole Wheat Crackers (via abeautifulmess.com)  These little guys are pretty special as they are made with 100% whole wheat, no dairy, and packed with flavor from one of my favorite spice blends: za'atar.

What's za'atar you ask? It might vary a little depending on where you buy your blend from (or if you choose to mix up your own because you're crazy dedicated or something), but it's made of: toasted sesame seeds, thyme, sumac (yum!), oregano, and marjoram. It's totally delicious and a great thing to have on hand for all sorts of recipes, including these crackers. 

How to make crackersWhole Wheat Coconut Oil Crackers, makes around 30 square (Cheez-It size) crackers 

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon za'atar plus more for the top
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup water
1 egg or 1 tablespoon olive oil for the top

In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, 1 tablespoon za'atar, and coconut oil. Make sure your coconut oil is a solid, which it normally is at room temperature. You don't want to melt it ahead here. Process until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Add the water and process a bit more. You should be able to press the dough together and it will stick (see the image above).

Homemade cracker recipeLightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out so it's a 1/4 inch or even a bit thinner. Cut into squares. Brush the tops with a whisked egg or with olive oil and dust with a little more za'atar. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a baking mat or parchment paper. Any remaining dough from the edges press together, roll out and repeat so you use up as much dough as you can. This will result in around 30 crackers. 

Bake at 375°F for 15-16 minutes, rotating the pan half way so everything gets baked evenly. Then allow to cool before using or storing. 

Homemade Whole Wheat Crackers (via abeautifulmess.com) I immediately use some of these crumbled on top of some lunch soup. But they'd also be delicious for snacking. Any you don't consume just store in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot (like a pantry or shelf) for up to two weeks. And here's a few notes:

-If you don't care about keeping these non-dairy, you can replace the coconut oil with butter and the water with milk. This makes them a little more flaky, like pie crust. 

-Don't know where to buy za'atar? Well, you can always buy it online. Thanks, Internet. 

Happy baking! xo. Emma

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

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