Happy Mail Unboxing: February

Happy Mail Unboxing FebruaryHey friends!!! Here's our monthly unboxing video for Happy Mail. We're super excited about the pieces this month! 

Happy Mail is shipping to subscribers today. If you aren't subscribed, you can sign up here. Once you are signed up, you'll get $50 value of cute, curated stationery each month for as low as $15. Pretty sweet! Get more info here. xx. Elsie

Credits // Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Video and Music: Jeremy Larson. Photo edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Wood Burned Photo Frames DIY

Wood burned frame trio diyI love large black and white frames for a gallery wall, but when I'm creating a smaller, more intimate vignette with family photos, I like to add in details that compliment the rest of my space. This trio of wood burned frames ended up being the perfect way to showcase some family photos we had done before leaving Colorado, and it was fun combining a rustic craft with some more modern designs. 

Inexpensive Frame Tutorial SuppliesSupplies
- natural wood frames from local hobby store
- wood burning tool
- pliers
- metal ruler
- pencil

Circle frameTo create a polka-dot effect, use the standard round attachment that comes with your wood burning kit. You can freehand your design or draw out a pattern with a pencil before going over each pencil mark with the tip of your wood burner. I suggest practicing on a scrap piece of wood or the back of your frame before attempting the front.  

StarburstTo create a starburst effect, use your pliers to switch out your round tip with the pointier tip. When placed flat, it will create a short line that you can use to make a variety of patterns. I practiced on the back side, and then carefully started placing my hot tip on the wood and rotating it as needed in order to get a star pattern. I just freehanded these shapes, but you could also use a pencil if you preferred.

TrianglesTo create a triangular pattern, I traced the right angle made from my metal ruler, and then used the same tip from the starburst frame and carefully traced the edges along the ruler. You could easily just burn straight lines into your wood using a similar ruler. Just be sure whatever you are using is not acrylic or wood as it will likely burn as well.

Wood Burned Frames for www.ABeautifulMessConsistency is key when working with a pattern, so do your best to keep your strokes about the same size and darkness. The longer you hold your tool to your wood, the thicker and darker your lines will get, so it's best to practice each new stroke a few times so you can see what effect each amount of pressure will have. 

Customize inexpensive frames with this easy tutorialOnce I was finished with my wood burning, I used a clear wax finish to seal the wood. I tested a stain as well thinking I might like the color, but it was pretty dark brown and changed the whole feel of the frames. 

Starburst frame diyWood burned circle frame diyTips for a successful and burn-free experience:

- Always be aware of how your tool is resting when not in immediate use. There is a metal resting mechanism where you can set it if you need to be hands-free for a hot minute. Don't just set the tool down on your table top as it will surely leave a mark. 

- When changing tips, I suggest unplugging your tool and allowing it to cool down before switching it out. This will keep you from setting a hot tip down on your work surface and either burning your table or your fingers. 

- Unplug as soon as you are finished and always be aware of your cord. Wood burning tools are obviously not a toy and caution should be exercised when used. Keep out of reach of children and pets. 

Frame TrioIf you've never used a wood burning tool, they're kind of fun to experiment with. You can find them at most arts and craft stores or on Amazon. I've created an art journal cover using one and have plans to personalize a few more wooden items this year. It brings back some Girl Scout memories, for sure! -Rachel

Credits//Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Try This: Upgrade Your Handbag with Colorful Spikes

So fun! Upgrade a Handbag with Colorful Spikes (click through for more)    Who doesn't love to take a good thing and make it just a little bit better? One of the fun aspects about DIYs is that you can either dive full in and make the whole item from the ground up, or you can take an existing thing and add a few tweaks to make it a little more exciting. Since I am always shopping for supplies for blog projects, I tend to find cool supplies unrelated to the project I'm working on, and I just can't help but make a project out of the accidental find too. I was searching Etsy for a few items and I found these adorable (and brightly colored) cone spikes that I thought would be perfect to add a little excitement to a wearable item. I loved this series of Christian Louboutin bags adorned with candy colored spikes, so that pretty much made the decision for me—a purse it is!

So fun! Upgrade a Handbag with Colorful Spikes (click through for more)All I needed to do was use an inexpensive plain bag with a flat surface (I love this one that I chose) and lay out the spikes before I glued them to get the right placement. Depending on the shape of bag you choose, you could simply outline a portion of the flap or bag shape, cover the entire front, or glue the spikes along the top of the strap (like on a cross body bag). I tested glueing a few spikes onto a different bag that was also a faux leather material, and both the super glue gel and the epoxy that I used secured the spikes really well. The super glue gel gives you a lot more control with where you put the glue, but I did notice that the faux leather would very slightly puff up under the spike where the gel was applied. So I decided to use the epoxy (applied to each spike with a toothpick) instead. However, I'm a pretty patient person, and if I didn't want to take the time to do the epoxy/toothpick method, the super glue gel would have been just fine.

So fun! Upgrade a Handbag with Colorful Spikes (click through for more) Also, here's a little tip for when you are glueing things down in rows: place the spikes where you want them to be glued, but glue and place the middle spike and the spikes on either end first. Once those are set, glue the spikes that are halfway between the middle spike and the outside end spikes, and then do the rest of the spikes in between. This method helps me to keep my spacing much more even than if you just start at one side and glue the whole way over from there. 

So fun! Upgrade a Handbag with Colorful Spikes (click through for more)     So fun! Upgrade a Handbag with Colorful Spikes (click through for more)  Even with doing the toothpick and glue method, it didn't take me very long at all to have all the rows securely glued down into place, and I love the colorful addition to the bag! You could also use these spikes on a bracelet, a jacket, or even across the top of oversized sunnies for a fun twist. What item would you add a colorful upgrade to? xo. Laura

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

Chia Seed Jam: 3 Ways

Easy Homemade Chia Seed Jam (via abeautifulmess.com)I'm a fan of the chia. I've made chia pull apart bread, chia pudding, chia breakfast smoothies, and of course chia pets. (Ha ha—I had to!) Recently I noticed on the back of my chia seed package a recipe for chia jam. What?! Hold the phone! That makes total sense since chia has this magic ability to make things, well, jelly-like. So I tried it. (The same recipe is online too, check it.)

Easy Homemade Chia Seed Jam (via abeautifulmess.com)  Easy Homemade Chia Seed Jam (via abeautifulmess.com) And guess what? Chia jam is incredible!!! Like, seriously, it's now my favorite way to enjoy chia seeds. And it only takes about 20 minutes to make a batch. I've been making a few different variations that I thought I'd share with you. 

Strawberry and vanilla bean chia seed jamStrawberry Vanilla Bean Chia Jam, makes about 1 1/2 cups of jam.

1 1/2 cups strawberries (tops removed and cut into fourths)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chia seeds
seeds from half a vanilla bean

In a small pot cook the strawberries and sugar over low/medium heat for 5 minutes. The berries will release moisture and soften. Be sure to stir as this cooks so the sugar doesn't heat too much in one spot and burn. If you like your jam more smooth than chunky (like I do), use a blender or immersion blender to puree it at this point. Then add the chia seeds and cook another 10 minutes, as it thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla seeds while still hot. Allow to cool before using or storing.

Cinnamon peach chia seed jamPeaches + Cinnamon Chia Jam, makes about 1 1/2 cups of jam.

1 1/2 cups peaches, if frozen thaw first
2-3 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a small pot cook the peaches and honey over low/medium heat for 5 minutes. The fruit will release moisture and soften. Be sure to stir as this cooks so the sugar doesn't heat too much in one spot and burn. If you like your jam more smooth than chunky (like I do), use a blender or immersion blender to puree it at this point. Then add the chia seeds and cook another 10 minutes, as it thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the cinnamon while still hot. Allow to cool before using or storing. One note about this variation is that the chia seeds will overpower the coloring of this jam, so be prepared for a more brown looking jam than a peachy colored one. Just FYI. I know that probably sounds trivial, but sometimes I think the coloring of food or the presentation in general can really affect the way we enjoy it. Just my two cents.

Blueberry lemon chia seed jamBlueberry + Lemon Chia Jam, makes about 1 1/2 cups of jam.

1 1/2 cups blueberries, if frozen thaw first
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chia seeds
peel and juice from half a lemon

In a small pot cook the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and peel over low/medium heat for 5 minutes. The fruit will release moisture and soften. Be sure to stir as this cooks so the sugar doesn't heat too much in one spot and burn. After five minutes of cooking, remove the lemon peels. If you like your jam more smooth than chunky (like I do), use a blender or immersion blender to puree it at this point. Then add the chia seeds and cook another 10 minutes, as it thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool before using or storing.

Easy Homemade Chia Seed Jam (via abeautifulmess.com)   Any jam you don't consume within the day you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days (although this amount usually only lasts me 4-5 days). 

So, yeah... that's my jam. ;)

Enjoy on toast with a little butter or cream cheese and copious amounts of chia jam—yum! xo. Emma

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

Scrapbook Sunday: Elsie's December Daily

December Daily 2014OK, I'm gonna be honest. I almost didn't finish this album. In January my computer was stolen from my car and a lot of photos I took in December were lost (as well as my sanity for a couple days—heh). 

But last weekend we were at Todd and Laura's house and she showed me her December Daily album (my first time to see it in person, which is somehow SO much better than seeing photos), and it inspired me to complete mine with the photos I had on my phone. 

I'm so glad I did because this album is so special! I can't believe I almost gave up. 

Ready to see? 

December Daily 2014 December Daily 2014 December Daily 2014 December Daily 2014 December Daily 2014 This year my book feels random and I'm into it because I know that 1. it almost didn't even get made, and 2. our December really WAS random. It was busy and crazy, but more special than ever. 

I shared before, but my album this year is made of three December kits (all designed by my friends, yay!), and Laura and I shared the kits. The main bulk of products used as well as the album is from Ali Edwards. I also used some pretty stuff from Kelly Purkey and Gossamer Blue

December Daily 2014      I would have to go back and look to be sure, but I feel like Jeremy was more represented in this year's album. I love that! He has had a lot going on in his career. His new studio is beautiful and his project, Violents, has been taking up a lot of our free time. It's an exciting season! 

December Daily 2014       In December I posted How To Scrapbook Your Memories With Not-So-Good Photos. Here they are in action. I'm learning that grainy photos really don't bother me that much. I might not post them on Instagram as much, but here in my scrapbooks I love and appreciate them because they're our memories with our friends and they make me smile. 

December Daily 2014           December Daily 2014           December Daily 2014           From one of my parties, I had a whole bunch of Instax photos. So I used a piece of elastic and my mini stapler to make some smaller pockets that hold the groups of photos inside. It's still pretty easy to pull the Instax photos in and out to peek through the piles. There are some pretty funny party pics in there. 

December Daily 2014           One of our happiest (and most hilarious) holiday memories this year was taking Penny to the mall the Sunday before Christmas to make a build-a-bear. Penny named her reindeer Lovie and it was basically the best $84 we ever spent. 

December Daily 2014           December Daily 2014           Christmas Eve is where my book gets REAL sentimental. It was our first year to host Christmas Eve at our home. My parents, my brother, and Penelope all spent the night and waited for Santa to arrive. 

As you can see above, Uncle Jeremy is really good at playing swords with wrapping paper rolls. That lasted... a while. 

December Daily 2014           (More Instax photos and another solution for storing them in my book where they don't fit in the page protectors.)

December Daily 2014
December Daily 2014           December Daily 2014           December Daily 2014           Another Instax stored with holes punched. And my letter to Penny Bloom for when she is much, much older. :)

December Daily 2014           And that's that. Here's a sparkler photo we took on NYE. 

December Daily 2014           Like last year, I saved a spot for storing the Holiday cards we received from friends and family (they are still in a drawer in our entryway, except for this one that arrived at my work!). 

December Daily 2014           To finish off the year, I thought it would be fun to put our favorite albums of 2014 (Alvvays and Beck's Morning Phase). I always like looking back on that kind of stuff in our older books.

December Daily 2014           And a couple party pics from NYE! I'm so glad I finished my messy, imperfect December album. 

The end. Till next time. xx! Elsie 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

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