Start Small Dream Big eCourseWell over four years ago, Elsie and I wrote a course called Dream Job. We had started working together the year before and our small business (a local vintage store that sold some items online as well) was starting to grow. We began diversifying our business. We had made it through some tough times and we were excited to share the lessons we had learned. I loved writing that course because one of my biggest passions in life is small business. And as you can probably guess, we've learned SO much more since writing that first course. We've put all those experiences into our new course Start Small / Dream Big.

You can hear a little more about our story and the course in this video:

Elsie and I are so excited to share how we approach business ideas and lots of the lessons we've learned over the years as we've watched our company grow. While our old course focused mainly on local and online retail, this course is all about helping you go from an idea to launching your own small business.

We've approached the format of this eCourse a little bit differently based on feedback we've received from students in our program. What's different? Over two hours of videos! Each of the eight sessions in this course has a written lesson (as usual) but also a video lesson. The same information is covered and you also get more explanation, examples and candid (aka real) talk from me and Elsie. We recommend you read AND watch each session:

1. Introduction & How to Use the Course
2. How to Develop Your Big Idea
3. Create a Vision & Business Plan
4. Brand Your New Venture
5. Launch Strategies & Marketing 101
6. How to Evolve With Your Customers
7. Keep Them Coming Back: Customer Service
8. Scaling 101: What Can Scale & How to
What ALL comes with the course?
-Eight sessions plus an ever growing list of resources for entrepreneurs 
-Over two hours of lecture videos throughout the sessions
-A sample business plan to help you create your own (from session 3)
-Access to a Q&A board where you can ask me and Elsie questions and also read what other students are asking
-Immediate access and a printable PDF of the entire course so you will always have it
Course cost: $45 USD. You can learn more and sign up for Start Small / Dream Big here.
For a limited time, we're going to be offering $15 off to all our newsletter subscribers! This afternoon you'll receive an exclusive code that will allow you to get this discount in your email box. If you aren't subscribed to our newsletter yet, you can still sign up using the big pink box in the right sidebar of our site. Don't miss out on this awesome offer!

UPDATE: Our email subscribers already got the code, but we don't want you to miss out and we're feeling generous. :) So just type in ACTFAST when you check out to get $15 off. Code will expire November 19th.

Let us know if you have any questions about the course in the comments. If we get a lot of the same questions, we may post an FAQ later, so don't be shy! xo. Emma + Elsie
Credits // Author: Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson. Photo and Video: Janae Hardy. Music: Jeremy Larson.

Try This- Update Simple Frames With Gold HardwareI am so freaking excited to share today's project with you! Not only is it the first wall art I've put up in my new home, but I think it's my favorite wall art project EVER. 

Start by watching my video

We teamed up with our longest supporters and friends over at Canon USA for this post. Specifically, we used the Canon PIXMA iP8720 Crafting Printer on their Pro Luster Paper for this one because it handles B&W so well. Plus, it can print up to 13x19, which was necessary for the size of frames I chose.

Try This- Update Simple Frames With Gold Hardware Watch the video above for all the basics on how I created this project. I found my simple white frames at Michael's and here's my campaign hardware. If you don't want to use any tools, you can super glue these to the edges and just omit the screws. I used the super glue to secure them before adding screws (just makes it a bit easier). Just remember to let it dry 100% before continuing. Ohand here's the ceramic planter set I used to hang my plants. 

HardwareI printed a combination of personal photos, one Dolly Parton pic and a couple prints from Arrow & Apple

Try This- Update Simple Frames With Gold Hardware  Try This- Update Simple Frames With Gold Hardware  Try This- Update Simple Frames With Gold Hardware  Try This- Update Simple Frames With Gold Hardware  Try This- Update Simple Frames With Gold Hardware  Try This- Update Simple Frames With Gold Hardware  The finished wall is light and simple but still detailed and interesting. I love how it really fills up the space without being too busy. Our breakfast nook is starting to take shape! 

It feels SO GOOD to start the decorating process. I can't wait to share more with you! If you have any questions about this project, leave them for me in the comments. And even if you don't have a question, I'm in the mood to chat, so leave me a comment.

Off to plan more GOLD projects because it's addictive! xx- Elsie 

P.S. You can get $50 off the Canon PIXMA MG7720 Photo Printer by using the code 'ABM50', but you gotta hurry because the offer expires on Saturday. 

Credits//Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Video and Music: Jeremy Larson. Project Assistant: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

Creamy kale and cranberry salad  Creamy kale and cranberry salad copyTo keep our Friendsgiving plates colorful, we needed something green to add to the table. This salad features a few favorites including: crunchy kale, Brussels sprouts, and sliced almonds, a bright burst of flavor from fresh cranberries, and a whole lot of comfort from a creamy dressing and shaved Parmesan cheese. Oh yes, this is a kale salad that deserves to still be on the holiday comfort foods table. Yum!

Creamy kale and cranberry saladCreamy Kale, Brussels and Cranberry Salad. Serves 6-8 (possibly a few more) as a side dish.

8-10 oz. kale, large veins removed and chopped
4-6 oz. Brussels sprouts, shaved and any too crunchy pieces discarded
2 oz. fresh cranberries, chopped
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

For the dressing:
1 1/2 cups mayo
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
juice from 1/2 lemon
big pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

You can prep most of the vegetables the day before if you like, but for me this was the one dish that I prepared from start to finish the day of our meal. It doesn't take long to come together. Plus sometimes I like having a good chopping, shaving, etc. job right in the middle of frantically trying to figure out if a turkey is cooked through of if we have enough wine. There's just something therapeutic about chopping. 

Creamy kale and cranberry salad You can also stir together the dressing the day before if you like. Once I have everything together and tasting salty enough, I thin the dressing with a tablespoon or two of water. But this is optional depending on how thick you prefer your dressing.

I do recommend mixing the dressing over the salad and topping with the Parmesan cheese just an hour or so before serving. This keeps the kale and Brussels crunchy (in a good way!). You don't want to mix this together the day before. Also the cranberries will begin to transfuse their red color throughout the dressing, so you could end up with a pale pink salad if you mix too soon. Although, this year that would have matched our table nicely even if it would have looked a bit unappetizing. 

Creamy kale and cranberry salad  copyToss a few more cranberries on top if you want it to look extra festive. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

Cranberry MargaritaI try to make a special cocktail for each season. I definitely have my go-to flavors, like cider drinks in the fall and winter. And cranberry! A couple years ago I made cranberry jello shots, and I decided to carry on the tradition this year with a cranberry margarita! 

The best way to make a flavored margarita mix is to cut the water from the traditional recipe and use fruit juice instead! 

Cranberry Margarita Orange Cranberry Margarita Mix

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
1 cup lime juice (about 10 limes)
juice of three oranges

Squeeze the lime and orange juice into a bowl or measuring cup. Heat the cranberry juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

AR5A8859I added some fresh cranberries cut in half, oranges and limes to my mix just to infuse a little more flavor. 

Let the mixture cool a bit before adding in the lime juice, mix together, and pour into a bottle. Refrigerate the mix for up to two weeks. 

To mix a margarita, just add a shot of silver tequila to a short glass filled with ice. Then top it off with the margarita mix. EASY as pie. I normally use triple sec too, but since this already has so much orange flavor, I didn't necessarily think it needed it. Oh- and you get bonus points if you take the time to do a salted rim and fun cranberry and orange garnishes! 

OK...Funny story time..

When I was making this the day before Friendsgiving, I left the house to run an errand while Emma was cooking. I left it simmering on the stove and when I got back, I worried that I had left it on too long, so I gave it a quick taste. EW! It tasted really weird. I thought maybe the sugar had burned. As I was dumping it out to start over, Emma saw me and said, "Oh! I added my extra vanilla beans to your stove simmer". Haha! I was like, "NO, Emma! This was supposed to be margarita mix." #fail

We laughed about it for the rest of the day! 

Don't worry, I made another batch. ;) 

Cranberry Margarita    By the way, this is one of the most crowd-pleasing drinks I've ever made! Everyone loved it and we ran out WAY too fast (next time I'll make a double recipe of the mix). 

It tastes like a tarter, more flavorful version of a traditional margarita. 

Cranberry Margarita      If you guys make this recipe, please tag your photos with #ABMhappyhour. It would make my heart SO happy! 

Cranberry Margarita     Cheers to new traditions, funny kitchen fails and seasonal flavors! Love you guys. xx- Elsie 

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

Try This- Herringbone Marble TileThis past week we've been making some MAJOR progress on the master bathroom. It's been our "late bloomer" you could say. While most of the other rooms were getting painted and stained and tiled, it was just sitting there, gutted, all summer with no attention whatsoever. But now, its moment has arrived! 

I'll wait to share full details on this room's before/after transformation, but let me just tell you—it's been epic. I think it's going to win the award for "most improved" (and the kitchen is not too happy about that). 

One of the most exciting updates is the herringbone tile floor. I shopped all over for tile and I'll let you in on a little secret—it's expensive! Like, make-you-wanna-cry-expensive. And even when you save your pennies by choosing less expensive tile options, the installation is still typically twice as much as installing wood. Since we did multiple rooms at once, the cost added up FAST, and we realized quickly that fancy, patterned marbles were not an option in our budget. So for the small part of our bathroom that is tile floor, we decided to go with the same super-basic 12x12 marble that we did for our kitchen, breakfast nook and sunroom. I loved it in those bigger spaces, but for our bathroom I was concerned that it wouldn't look right. It's a VERY small floor space and I really wanted small tile to give it a fuller, more patterned look (but again, my budget said "NO"). 

One day when I was watching a contractor cut tile for our kitchen, I had the idea to cut down the 12x12 tile into strips to create a herringbone pattern for that small bathroom floor. It's a lot of extra effort (and usually an extra cost) to add a lot of extra cuts, but I worked it out with our (AMAZING) tile guy, and he agreed to try it for us. 

This simple technique took our bathroom floors from "pretty" to "pretty amazing". It's a great way to customize a less expensive tile to make it feel more expensive and custom. 

We decided to cut down the 12x12 marble to 4x12 strips, so each piece has two extra cuts. The results are incredible! Here are a few photos from the first day they went down (they're still pretty messy, so don't judge). 

Cut 12x12 marble into 4x12 strips for herringbone patternCut 12x12 marble into 4x12 strips for herringbone patternCut 12x12 marble into 4x12 strips for herringbone patternCut 12x12 marble into 4x12 strips for herringbone patternAUGH! It's SO GOOD, right? I'm so happy we tried something a little different for this space. It feels like the perfect fit! Renovating is such a funny thing because it's SO. BORING. for months and months and months, and then at the end, it's kind of like fun overload when the finishes start coming in. 

Try This- Herringbone Marble Tile Here's how it's looking today with white grout (the walls are going to be grouted with soon too). 

I can't wait to share more from our bathroom adventures (yep—adventures) with you. It's been a crazy year, and I have learned more about homes and renovating than the rest of my life combined. For now I just wanted to pop in and share this quick tip for making less expensive marble tile look more custom! xx- Elsie 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. 


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