Summer mixed texture braid (click-through for the tutorial)Summer really is the season of the braid. I love the way braids look in all seasons, probably because I still remember what it felt like when I had a pixie cut a few years ago and had so much hair envy for long-haired ladies! There’s really not much styling you can do with a pixie cut. Of course now that I have long hair, I realize that braids aren’t just a chic summer hairstyle; they’re also practical. Long hair gets hot! Some of the best summer braids aren’t one braid but actually a combination of several braid styles – like the one I’m showing you how to create today. It should keep you cool through the latest heatwave.Summer mixed texture braid (click-through for the tutorial)Step One: Start by creating a Dutch braid. A Dutch braid is just an inside-out French braid. So create this style by starting with three small sections of hair and cross the sections under one another rather than over. (Confusing? Find full instructions for a Dutch braid here.)

Step Two: End your Dutch braid at the nape of your neck and tie off with an elastic. 

Step Three: Take a small section of hair and wrap it around your elastic and pin in place with a bobby pin pointed vertically towards your head (double up on bobby pins if it doesn’t feel secure).

Step Four: Split your ponytail into two even sections and make a fishtail braid. Take a small piece of hair from the outside of your right section and cross it over to your left section, pull tight. Repeat on the left side taking a small piece of hair from the outside and crossing it to the right, pull tight. Repeat to the end of your hair and tie off with an elastic

Step Five: Pancake and mess it up a bit. Pull on the outer edges of your fishtail braid to make it a bit fuller.

 Summer mixed texture braid (click-through for the full tutorial)That’s it! Once you’ve mastered a couple of different braiding techniques, mixing them together is easy and really ups your braid game! If you struggle with braids, you could also try combining a couple of faux braid styles like the pull-through braid into a faux fishtail. Don’t worry either if your braids end up a bit messy; I think messy braids with layered pieces sticking out are some of the chicest styles! Besides, at the end of a full summer day, everyone’s braid should look messy from their adventures. Cheers, Rebecca.

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

Seqin lips sweatshirt DIY (click through for tutorial)       . When shopping, I'm a bit like a bird in the sense that I tend to gravitate towards all things bright and shiny. So the gold or sequin items always catch my eye. I was so excited to find an adorable t-shirt the other week that had this awesome pair of lips made entirely from sequins, but was so sad when the t-shirt didn't really fit me in a flattering way. What's a girl to do? Make her own version on another shirt of course! And the secret to this project is that it's SO much easier than it looks...

Seqin lips sweatshirt DIY (click through for tutorial)       . Supplies:
-quick dry fabric glue
-sequin trim in white, pink, and black
-lips pattern (right click to download)
-washable fabric chalk or pen to mark pattern
-scissors

Seqin lips sweatshirt DIY (click through for tutorial)       . First print and cut out your lips pattern and place it where you want it on your shirt. Trace around the outside edge with a fabric marking pen or chalk that will disappear when washed.

Seqin lips sweatshirt DIY (click through for tutorial)       . Once you have the outside lines, cut out the teeth area and trace the remaining shape to get the rest of your lines.

Seqin lips sweatshirt DIY (click through for tutorial)       . Take your glue and outline the edges of one of the teeth with the glue. Place your white sequin trim on the glue outline until you have the shape traced with sequins. Add more glue to the inside edge of that sequin outline, add the sequin trim on top of the glue (overlapping slightly with the other sequin line), and keep repeating the process until you come to the middle and have filled in the shape completely. Cut the trim where the shape is completed and glue that edge down well so it won't unravel later.

Repeat process with each tooth.

Seqin lips sweatshirt DIY (click through for tutorial)       . Take your black trim and do the same thing by outlining the black area with glue and then placing the trim onto the glue line, moving inward each time around until the whole area is full.

If you find that the glue is drying by the time you get to the end of your outline, add more glue before placing it and work in smaller lines so it's still wet when the sequins are added.

Seqin lips sweatshirt DIY (click through for tutorial)       . To complete the mouth, take the pink trim and outline around the teeth and mouth, around the outside edge, and then fill in the top lip completely. Cut the trim and glue in place when that top lip is full and start a new thread to fill in the bottom lip. That's it!

If you use a good amount of glue, I think you can risk washing this on the gentle cycle on cold (it should feel pretty sturdy with a lot of glue), or you can always hand wash if that makes you nervous...

Seqin lips sweatshirt DIY (click through for tutorial)       . Seqin lips sweatshirt DIY (click through for tutorial)       . How cute is that?!? Of course, depending on where you live this time of year, you may want to do this on a t-shirt or tank top (I may just make another one on a crop top for a summer pool outing option), but I'm always cold, so I end up keeping my sweatshirts out year round. Do you think it's time for a sparkly addition to your wardrobe? xo. Laura

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

Are you faux real? (How to find convincing fake plants)  Fake plants are a WEIRD SUBJECT, and I get that. But today it's what we're talking about... let's go there! 

For years I didn't want any fake plants in my house. Then I finally cracked due to one really dark nook in our previous home. It was a total DEATH ZONE for plants. Do you have a spot like that in your house? If you do, listen up – it's not your fault. (hug) I'm here for you. 

So I bought a few cheap fakies from Ikea for that stubborn hallway corner. And I was instantly converted. They never died, required no effort, and when I moved a couple years later, they moved with me. So I bought more... obviously. 

Today, I still have a lot of real plants in my home, but there are plenty of fake ones too. You can't really tell unless you look closely or touch them (which is the sign of a good one). I use them to fill high shelves that are tricky to water, and, for the most part, to replace succulents and air plants. 

It's so weird because I hear people say all the time that succulents don't die.... Ummmm – what? They definitely die on me. Kind of fast too. Cacti are pretty reliable for me, but succulents aren't. They either shrivel up, melt into a weird puddle or grow into a really awkward shape. Some are better than others (for sure), but a friend recently told me, "Don't think of succulents as plants. Think of them as flowers that die slower." Haha! So true. 

Are you faux real? (How to find convincing fake plants)Here's my Ikea fakie still going strong, like, five years later! It's not even the most convincing fake plant, but up there on the shelves, you can't tell. 

Are you faux real? (How to find convincing fake plants) On the shelves here, six out of the eight are fake. It doesn't get the best light in this spot. At first I filled it with all real plants, but had to move a bunch of them when they started looking sad. So I just refilled it with fake guys (mostly from craft stores and West Elm). 

The bigger ones on the ledge are real, but they're low light varieties. 

Are you faux real? (How to find convincing fake plants)   Close up you can tell it's fake, but stand back 5 feet when you're trying to decide at the store. This one looks totally great on my shelves; I might even buy more! 

 

How to Find The Most Convincing Faux Plants! (click through for links)Here's a guide to some of the best we've found online! I generally like to pay around the same price as what I'd pay for a real one in that size, whatever that is. A lot of the big box craft stores sell them and you can use weekly coupons there. I've also found some pretty decent ones randomly at places like Home Goods, just keep an eye out! 

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Are you faux real? (How to find convincing fake plants)     Here's a fake one next to a real one, for reference. 

In my opinion, the best places for fake plants are on high shelves, in naturally dark rooms or rooms where you rarely open the windows (like a bathroom, for example), and anywhere in your home where you have to move a plant away because it starts to die. 

I will probably always have at least 75% real plants in my home. I love them, for one, but I also think it helps the fake ones seem more real. But if you live in a SUPER dark space or travel constantly, there's no shame in faking it. I mean, it's way better than letting them die over and over!

Now, it's your turn! What are your thoughts about fake plants? Love them or hate them? Have you found any sources for really good ones? And what about fake plants for the outdoors?? I can't wait to hear what you have to say! 

xx- Elsie 

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

Marinated Spicy Tofu Spring Rolls (via abeautifulmess.com)  Lately we've been making spring rolls at home a lot, so I thought I'd share a fun variation: marinated spicy tofu! If you're already a tofu-lover, then I probably don't need to convince you to try this. But, maybe you're not so hot on tofu? Too bland and mushy for you? Then you've GOT to try this, as it's a simple way to make super flavorful tofu with a little texture to it. Plus all the goodness of spring rolls and spicy peanut sauce – yum!

Marinated Spicy Tofu Spring Rolls (via abeautifulmess.com)I seriously love this tofu recipe. If you have leftovers, turn them into a wrap, sandwich, or add it to a stir fry. You could also skip the spring roll wraps and just make a big, flavor-packed salad from the same ingredients with the sauce as the dressing. 

Need even more options? You could also totally change up what's inside the rolls. I've included what I like best for these in the recipe below, but some other options includes: carrots, quinoa or brown rice, avocado, or cucumber. 

Best marinated tofuMarinated Spicy Tofu Spring Rolls, will make 6-8 rolls (a solid meal for 2-3+ people as I can usually only eat 2.5 before I'm full)

14 oz extra firm tofu, one package
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ginger

For the peanut sauce:
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (natural is best)
1/4 cup coconut milk
salt to taste

For the spring rolls:
6-8 spring roll wrappers
3-4 cups lettuce (one big head)
6-8 basil leaves
6-8 mint leaves
6-8 chives
12-16 cilantro leaves
1/2 red bell pepper

Remove the tofu from the package and place between two plates, lined with paper towels so that the tofu is in the center. Place something slightly heavy on top of the second plate, like a can of beans or a bowl. The goal here is to press out as much liquid from the tofu as you can, while that moisture absorbs into the paper towels. Let that sit for 3-5 minutes.

While that sits, in a glass measuring cup or a small mixing bowl, stir together the soy sauce, ketchup, honey, sesame oil, vinegar, pepper flakes, chili powder, and ginger. Set aside.

Spicy baked tofuRemove the tofu from the paper towels and cut lengthwise into three pieces. Then cut into thin rectangles, almost like tofu fries. (See photos if that doesn't make sense.) Pour about 1/4 of the sauce into a shallow bowl or baking dish, add the tofu pieces in one layer, then pour the remaining sauce over the top. Allow that to sit and absorb for an hour (or longer if needed). It will absorb fairly quickly, but if you need to make this in the morning, cover and refrigerate all day while you're at work. That's totally fine too. Not all of the sauce will absorb into the tofu, and that's fine! Reserve this before baking (it will be around 1/4 cup of liquid).

Place the tofu pieces on a baking sheet lined with a baking mat or parchment paper. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes, flip the pieces, and continue baking for 12-15 minutes. I baked the ones you see in this post for the full 30 minutes, as I really like having a few crispy (but not quite burnt) edges. If you want to bake them for slightly less time, that's fine too. 

Marinated Spicy Tofu Spring Rolls (via abeautifulmess.com)   To make the peanut sauce, combine in a medium to large mixing bowl the reserved 1/4 cup marinade, peanut butter, and coconut milk. Whisk to combine. Taste and season with salt if needed. If you want the sauce to be a little thinner in consistency, add a tablespoon or two of hot water and whisk, but I like the sauce on the thicker side myself. 

Roll up your spring rolls so that each gets two pieces of tofu, lettuce, a torn basil leaf, a torn mint leaf, a chive, two cilantro leaves, and some thinly sliced bell pepper. If you've never made spring rolls before, check out this basic tutorial

Marinated Spicy Tofu Spring Rolls (via abeautifulmess.com) Serve with the sauce and a lime wedge. I like to squeeze a little lime juice inside the roll just before eating. It's a bit of work, but such a delicious and I think pretty impressive dinner option. We love them anyway! Thanks for letting me share. xx. Emma

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

Easy Highlighting and Contouring (click through for tutorial)  How to Highlight & Contour Naturally (click through for tutorial)One of my very favorite ways to add dimension to my makeup look and give myself a little bit of a glow is by highlighting and contouring. For some people, the technique can be overwhelming and seem way too time consuming! While there are different methods, today I’m going to share a super easy way to give yourself a little bronzy glow and add a little definition that looks both lovely and natural. 

Easy Highlighting and Contouring (click through for tutorial)   Step One: Using a bronzer a few shades darker than your natural skin tone, apply bronzer from your hairline to the middle of your cheekbone. Be sure to blend up and on the cheekbone line and NOT blend down below the cheekbone. This helps create a more defined cheekbone. If you accidentally get a little too heavy-handed, blend blend blend! When it comes to bronzer, blending is your best friend. ;) Since I have such fair skin, I love using the Milk Chocolate bronzer from Too Faced (it smells like chocolate too!) I also LOVE the Shade & Light Contour Palette from Kat Von D. It has a great selection of shades for so many skin tones. Just a little tip, whichever bronzer you use, for this method, make sure it has a matte finish!

Easy Highlighting and Contouring (click through for tutorial)    Step Two: With just a touch of bronzer on your brush (I love this bronzing brush btw!), lightly dust/blend the top sides of your forehead avoiding the middle. Also dust the sides of your nose and your jawline. The trick is to use hardly any product and build up the bronze very slowly until it has just a hint of color. Don’t forget to blend, girl! 

Easy Highlighting and Contouring (click through for tutorial)     Step Three: Time to apply your blush. The blush will go right above the bronzer you just put on. For the spring and summertime, I love using an illuminating blush that leaves a slight glow. I’m constantly reaching for this one, and it’s a great price! You can find my favorite blush brush here; it applies like a dream. (This one is pretty great too!) 
 
Step Four: Highlighter might very well be one of my favorite makeup products. I love the shimmery glow it can give and how effortless it is to look bright and awake using a highlighter. I'm convinced they are made from unicorns. ;) Use a highlighter brush to lightly dust your glow on the very tops of your cheekbone, above the blush. Be sure to keep the highlight from getting too close to the side of your nose. Just a little dusting from your hairline to your mid-cheekbone will do perfectly. If you’re looking for a beautiful highlighter, check out the ones from Becca, The Balm and Wet n’Wild… They are fantastic! 

Easy Highlighting and Contouring (click through for tutorial)      Step Five: With just a little more highlighter added to your brush, lightly dust the bridge of your nose and your cupid's bow. This will give you such a lovely, sun-kissed glow! Voila!

Just a little tip, when applying your bronzer, blush and highlighter to your cheekbones, think of it as a sandwich. The bronzer goes at the bottom, then comes the blush, and the highlight tops it off right at the high-point of your cheeks! 

How to Highlight & Contour Naturally (click through for tutorial)
Easy Highlighting and Contouring (click through for tutorial)Here is a little before and after so you can see how subtle it is, but also how it really does define my cheeks and nose and adds a nice little dimension to the entire look!
 
Easy, right?! This is such a beautiful way to define your face and make it shimmer. I’m not gonna lie… it’s hard to hold back on the highlighter sometimes. If I don’t practice a little self-control, I’m tempted to bathe in it. ;) Rock that gorgeous highlight and contour, babes! Lots of love, Sav.

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

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