Red white and blueberry milkshakesGuys, July 4th is almost here! Happy (early) Independence Day!!! This means fireworks, cookouts, ice cream, and patriotic-inspired treats. :) And if you're not from the USA, you'll have to just bear with us Americans. We love our Independence Day.

Red white and blueberry milkshakes    I whipped up these red, white and blue(berry) milkshakes in honor of the soon-to-be-here holiday. The base is a vanilla and strawberry milkshake, which you probably don't need a recipe to, now do you. 

But the top, well that's a blueberry whipped cream I decided to try out and loved how it turned out. Super easy to make and packs a fun little added flavor to the top of these milkshakes. 

Strawberries and blueberriesFor the blueberry whipped cream, just whip together 1 cup heavy whipping cream and a heaping tablespoon of blueberry juice. Whip until soft peaks form. You can buy premade blueberry juice or you can blend up 1/2 cup fresh or frozen (and thawed) blueberries, and then strain through a fine mesh strainer. 

Red white and blueberry milkshakes  That's it! Easy peasy. I hope this season is full of summer treats for you, especially if you're in the USA and celebrating with us this week! xx. Emma

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

Make these printable drink tags for your next party! (click through for more!)      So, we've probably all been to a party where the playlist is perfect, the food is amazing, and they even made a signature cocktail for everyone to drink! You pick up your glass to take a sip, but since all the glasses look alike, you start to doubt that it belongs to you and begin to ask everyone around you if it's your drink or their drink, and you all end up playing detective for a few minutes to figure it out. Don't you wish there was a better way to label drinks at your next party, and don't you wish that way was cute and available to you right now?!? Well, have I got a treat for you then...

We’ve teamed up with our friends at Canon USA to make printable drink tags for the stems of cocktails or wine glasses to help keep your drinks organized. Guests can simply write their name on a tag when they get their drink, and nobody has to play detective later! 

Make these printable drink tags for your next party! (click through for more!)Supplies:
-white card stock paper
-printable drink tags (right click to download)
-Canon PIXMA MG7720 photo printer

Print as many of the drink tags as you think you will need based on your guest list (there are six tags per page). I like to use the PIXMA MG7720 photo printer for projects like this because of how well it is able to capture all the details in the print.

Make these printable drink tags for your next party! (click through for more!) Use scissors to cut out your drink tags (you may want to use an X-Acto knife to cut out the middle).

Make these printable drink tags for your next party! (click through for more!)  Make a slice into the back of the tag so that you can open up the tag to place it on your drink stem.

Place your tags and a marker near the drink station and get ready to party!

Make these printable drink tags for your next party! (click through for more!)     Make these printable drink tags for your next party! (click through for more!)     Aren't they cute?! This is a quick and easy way to label your guests' drinks and add a bit of pattern to your party decor as well! Those short champagne glasses are actually my favorite glasses to drink out of because they always make me feel like I'm at the Stork Club in New York in a 1940's movie (mostly due to my Cary Grant obsession, I'm sure!). No matter what kind of stemmed glasses you use these on, I think you'll love them too! xo. Laura

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

 the secret to thicker braids (click-through for the tutorial)     The first secret to fuller-looking braids is that it isn’t one secret but many! When I first learned how to braid my hair, I was always disappointed by how thin my braids looked in comparison to those I was emulating. How much hair did they have?! Turns out not that much more than me; they just used a few easy tricks that made their braids look out-of-control thick! Over the past few years, I’ve learned some tricks of my own, and these are my favorites.

The secret to thicker braids (click-through for the tutorial)Tip One: Always pancake your braids. What is pancaking? Pancaking means to pull apart and flatten your braids a bit. By flattening them, you give them more apparent width. While you can pull all over the braid for a little extra width, to get really full-looking braids, focus on pulling on the outside of the braids.

Tip Two: Always leave a few inches of hair at the end of your braid and try not to tie off your braid before pancaking if possible. Instead of tying it off, hold it in one hand while you use the other hand to pancake the braid. If you have to tie it off (like with my Dutch braid below which would be too difficult to do one-handed), then again make sure to leave a few inches below the tie and adjust the hair tie as needed. The secret to thicker braids (click-through for the tutorial)   Tip Three: Volumizing powder. I really dislike putting product in my hair, but for the most impressive braids, volumizing powder is a must. I use Batiste XXL Plumping Powder, which I picked up at my local Boots, but really any brand should give the same results. The powder works by making your hair a bit stickier so it can’t slip out of the braids as you pull on it. You don't need volumizing powder to make your hair look thicker, but this product helps give you the more editorial-looking, crazy-thick braids. Also, a little goes a long way. I only used a lot in these pictures so you could actually see the powder in my hair. 

The secret to thicker braids (click-through for the tutorial)  Tip Four: With pancaking, start at the top and work your way down. You're pulling hair up from each section below, so you need to start at the top and leave a few inches of hair at the bottom as a resource. As you pancake, pull gently in the middle of each braid and pull harder as you get to the outer edges. You want the braid to stay together, you just want each section of braid to look thicker.

The secret to thicker-looking braids (click-through for the tutorial)Another trick: Some braids are just thicker looking than others. A French braid won’t make your hair look as thick as a Dutch braid (even without pancaking). Similarly, faux braids like the pull-through braid make your hair look really full; like a faux fishtail will be always be bigger than an actual fishtail braid.

The secret to thicker braids (click-through for the tutorial)As you can see from my before and after picture at the start of this post, pancaking your hair makes a big difference (pardon the pun!). When I want a more natural look, I pancake my hair without volumizing powder and only add the powder on days I want my braids to look out-of-control full! One thing is for certain, pancaking is seriously addictive, and I don't know if I can ever go back to "normal" braids. Cheers, Rebecca.

Credits//Author and Photography: Rebecca Stice. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Presets for Lightroom

Golden Salted Caramel with Cracked Black Pepper (via Caramel sauce is getting a little upgrade with the addition of turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and (of course) a little sea salt. Me and salted caramel go way, way back. I've been a big fan for years. I mean, who hasn't? And I thought it would be fun to play around with some added flavors to a classic caramel sauce. The result: spicy, creamy joy you can drizzle over just about anything. 

Golden Salted Caramel with Cracked Black Pepper (via you haven't tried the recently somewhat trendy combination of turmeric and pepper (often seen in golden milk, or golden whatever else you have created – it's amazing!), you must. It's SO good. But one word of warning, turmeric has a very yellow color to it, and it can stain white counters or dishes if left unattended too long. So just make sure you whip it up if you get it on anything. Just a little tip I may or may not have learned the hard way. :)

If you've never made caramel sauce before (or caramel in general), I will share exactly how to make this sauce, but some other great resources include this guide from David Lebovitz, and I love Rachel Khoo's simple instructions from My Little French Kitchen which I shared here some time ago. You can also just google how to make caramel. It's not difficult, but it can take a little more practice than other kitchen adventures. So if it's your first time, I'd read a little more about the process first just so you'll feel really confident and won't end up with a pan of crusted, burnt caramel that is a nightmare to clean. 

How to make golden caramel sauceGolden Salted Caramel with Cracked Black Pepper, makes about one cup of sauce

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons butter (I like unsalted here as we'll be adding more salt anyway.)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground or cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

In a medium size saucepan, combine most of the sugar (1/2 cup) and the water. Cook over medium heat until it becomes a deep brown color. You won't need to stir this much if at all, but if you do, use a heatproof rubber spatula just to scrape the sides so no sugar sticks along the edges. The mixture will first become a white colored liquid, then it will look kind of crackly or crunchy (don't worry, it's not ruined! keep cooking), and then it will begin to turn brown. Really keep an eye on it as it begins to brown as it may brown quite quickly. If at any point it begins to smoke, turn down your heat and remove the pan away from the heat so the caramel does not burn. 

How to make caramel sauceOnce the mixture has turned that deep, golden brown, remove the pan from the heat and add in the remaining sugar as well as the other ingredients. Be careful as you do this. It will probably spit and sputter at you as you add the other ingredients. You don't want to get hot sugar on your skin. Not only will it burn, it will also stick unlike hot water, which would just roll off. So be careful as you work. 

The mixture may appear to stay somewhat segmented here, like the cream isn't incorporating well with the sugar yet. That's OK. Now put the pan back over your heat source, turned down to low/medium, and use a whisk to gently stir the sauce until it comes together. Cook for another 2-3 minutes after it's become one cohesive sauce so that it will thicken up a bit. Remove from the heat and allow to cool some before transferring to a jar or small bowl. 

Golden Salted Caramel with Cracked Black Pepper (via  Once your pan has cooled a little, place it in your sink and fill with hot soapy water for an hour or more. This will make it easier to scrub your pan clean later. 

So, what is this sauce good on? Well, ice cream is obviously my favorite option here, but this would also be great drizzled over cupcakes, pound cakes, sheet cakes, bundt cakes (maybe I just should have said cakes?), cookies, brownies, peanut butter toast, or even added to some Greek yogurt or apple slices for a slightly healthier option. Whatever sauce you don't use within the day, just store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks (probably longer would be OK too). The sauce will harden some in the cold, but you can reheat in the microwave briefly if you want to make it easier to pour or drizzle again. Enjoy! xx. Emma

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

Five EASY To Care For HouseplantsHey, friends! We have had LOTS of requests for this post, and I am really excited to share it with you today! 

Over the past few years, I've gone from a plant killer to a borderline-crazy plant LOVER. They really are my favorite thing about our home and what makes it feel like HOME to me. 

Now, some are easier to care for than others! And there's nothing worse than buying a special plant only to have it die on you when you are trying your best to care for it (I'm looking at you fiddle leaf fig trees!). So today I've rounded up five types of plants that are on the easier side to care for, that can live in mixed lighting and are pretty low maintenance. These are the ones that are thriving and growing like crazy in my home. 

Hope you enjoy! 

Five EASY To Care For Houseplants  1. Philodendron – I have a lot of these in our spaces. They can live in high light, but don't need it, and they do pretty well with my slight over-watering tendencies. They grow very large. The one above is newer, and the one below we've had for about six months. 

Five EASY To Care For Houseplants (It's almost twice the size of when we bought it!) 

Five EASY To Care For Houseplants           I also love the split-leaf philodendron. It's slightly prettier (to me) and just as easy to care for. 

Five EASY To Care For Houseplants   We have four of these in the house and the oldest one is almost TOO big. They grow really quickly. 

Five EASY To Care For Houseplants     2. Cactus – It's no secret that I REALLY love Cacti. There are endless varieties. I am trying to buy more of the spineless ones from here on out, just to keep the house a little more safe for children (we have a LOT of kiddo house guests and visitors around here). I love the huge variety they come in! 

Five EASY To Care For Houseplants      These prickly pear cacti are probably my favorite to collect. Mine have been growing REALLY well. You can see here, all the bright green pieces are new growth. They're so pretty. There are even some varieties (not these) that can live outdoors in Tennessee through the winter. SUPER excited to plant some outside. 

Five EASY To Care For Houseplants    This huge eight foot cactus is super low maintenance. I'm only supposed to water it once a month (that's pretty normal for cacti). 

Five EASY To Care For Houseplants       3. Snake Plant – These snake plants are very easy to keep alive and work well in low light rooms. In rooms with high light (like our sunroom) they do well too, they just grow more. I love the shape they have, good for variety! 

Five EASY To Care For Houseplants         4. Ponytail Palm Trees 

A type of bonsai tree, these little guys have SO much personality and are very easy to care for. I have three in very different sizes (the mini is the cutest, though, I have to say!), and they live in rooms with high and low light, even though they are recommended for low light. 

Here's the big one... 

Five EASY To Care For Houseplants        I love that their leaves look like hair. So adorable!! 

Five EASY To Care For Houseplants          5. Ivy – These are my favorite for hanging planters because they can grow really long and pretty. This one is growing like crazy in our kitchen right now. 

When it comes to watering and keeping them alive, here are the two tricks that help me!

  1. Water on the same day every week. My day is Sunday. We usually tidy up on that day too, so that's the first step in that process. It's really good to get into a consistent routine so you don't forget about watering. When I buy new plants, I always check the tag or ask how much much to water and what kind of light, but after a while, it's up to you to use common sense and tweak things if your plant seems unhealthy. 
  2. Move them around. If you notice brown leaves or a lot of dropped leaves and you know you're watering the correct amount, then move them to a different lighting situation. Sometimes the smallest changes (like one room over) can be the difference between dying and thriving for my plants. Just pretend they are people who can't talk and keep trying different things until they seem happy.  :)

I hope these suggestions are helpful! If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them. And I would love to hear YOUR suggestions for any houseplants that have been easy to care for! xx- Elsie 

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


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