Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate—Yes Please! (click through for tutorial) It's the most hot-chocolatey tiiiiime of the year.....isn't that how the song goes? Well, maybe it should. As I was in the middle of making this Nutella hot chocolate a few weeks ago, I got to thinking, "Man, I bet gingerbread hot chocolate would be great too." Turns out, I was right! After a little digging, I found that it seems to work best if you make a gingerbread syrup first and add that to your milk. (Maybe because all those spices don't dissolve as well as some other things?) So that's the route that I went. I added a little more variety of spices to my mix, and I think it gives it a bigger flavor profile. 

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate—Yes Please! (click through for tutorial) Gingerbread Syrup, makes about 3/4 cup.

1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Hot Chocolate, serves 2

2 cups milk
3 tablespoons gingerbread syrup
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons sugar

For the syrup, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan, mix well, and bring to a light boil over medium heat. Turn the mixture down to low-medium heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes. It should thicken over time and become like a maple syrup consistency. 

When the syrup is done, warm the milk over low heat and add in the sugar, cocoa powder, and syrup. Pour into a mug and top with marshmallows or whipped cream if desired. Refrigerate any leftover syrup in an airtight container. 

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate—Yes Please! (click through for tutorial) Gingerbread Hot Chocolate—Yes Please! (click through for tutorial)   You can vary the amount of cocoa powder, sugar, and syrup levels to your particular liking. You could also use this syrup in a latte or a cocktail as well. Last weekend I had a few friends over, and we made my husband's family Christmas cookie recipe and drank Nutella hot chocolate, but oh man, this would have been a great choice too! It's recipes like this that keep my chin up through the cold winters here in Missouri. Hope you'll give it a try! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Laura Gummerman and Janae Hardy. Photos edited with Stella from The Signature Collection.

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Try This: Stitched Leather Ornaments

Leather state ornaments via A Beautiful MessIf you look closely, you can see me reflected in one of the ornaments on the tree. It's a Where's Waldo holiday edition for you. :)

So Trey and I have a pretty good sized collection of ornaments on our tree already. His parents did a wonderful job of gifting (and then storing) an ornament for him every year as he was growing up. And I have a number of ornaments from my childhood as well. So, I thought it would be fun to create a few handmade ornaments that somehow reflected us to add to our growing collection.

Leather state ornaments via A Beautiful Mess I thought it would be fun to find a way to create ornaments that showcased the states we were born in. I'm a Missouri gal and Trey was born in the great state of Texas. If you can't tell from the photos, these ornaments are made from leather and yarn. You probably don't need a whole lot of explanation from me on how to make these, but you might be surprised by some of the tools used. Maybe. Let's find out.

How to make leather state ornamentsFirst, I google searched a few state shapes and printed them out the size I needed. As you can see, I went for images that also showed where the capital was located because I planned to highlight that in my design as well.

How to make leather state ornaments I cut out the leather using fabric scissors (using the printed paper states as my template). And then I used a cropodile to add small holes all around the border of the state.

How to make leather state ornaments  I added stitching with a thin yarn, stitching both ways to create a border around the state. Then I added a little star to the capitals. Both Laura and Trey pointed out (and I LOVED this idea) that you could add the star where the recipient was born, rather than the capital, if you wanted to personalize it just a little bit more. 

Star stamp!I love this little star stamp. So cute and easy to use. Just place the leather on a super hard surface (I used the clean pavement outside) and hammer the design onto the leather. It takes about two seconds but lasts forever.

Easy homemade ornament ideasEasy homemade ornament ideas I realized these could make a fun little gift for friends as well. So I made a few based off where Elsie, Jeremy, Laura, and Todd were all born. You could also change this up and make a country instead of a state if you wanted. Easy, right? These are already hanging on our tree at home. and I love them. Can't wait to pull them out and hang them again for years and years to come.

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

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Stitching My Places We've Been Map

Places We've Been mapHi, friends! This week I am taking a break from Scrapbook Sundays due to holiday craziness, but I still wanted to drop in and share a crafty project I've been working on. Many of you asked to see an example of how you would stitch on the Places We've Been map, so I started stitching my map this past week, and it's become so fun and addictive. It's the perfect relaxing activity to do when I'm listening to my new favorite podcast, Startup. God knows we all need a little relaxation this season, right?! 

I've been collecting personal pieces of art and tidbits for a family memories gallery wall in our home. It will have things like the keys to our first houses, paintings people have made of our dogs, and personal stuff like that. This map is perfect for our wall!

I am filling in all the states where we've been together (and, no, I am nowhere near done yet!). It's kind of exciting to realize many states where we haven't been as well (like Alaska! Maine! Wyoming! Utah! We're coming for you soon....) I think this map will become a pretty special keepsake and maybe we can even expand it worldwide someday? 

Places We've Been map   I decided to do crazy, messy stitches and make each one a little bit different. I don't have a plan, I am just filling them in with various patterns and lines, some more dense than others. 

Places We've Been map Well, that's my project for the week!  I will definitely share our art wall with you when I get it completed. I am doing it in our biggest hallway (upstairs) so it has room to expand. 

You can get this Places We've Been map in this month's Happy Mail kit. Last month sold out pretty quickly, so don't wait too long if you're planning to sign up! xo. Elsie 

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A Tale of Three Dogs (Our 2014 Holiday Card)

Posing with three dogs isn't easyThis is Trey's and my second year sending out holiday cards together. I feel a little foolish calling it a "tradition" when we've only done it twice. So, let's just say that I hope to make it a tradition in our family for years and years to come. 

Also, we have a hard time coming up with serious card ideas. I don't know if we'll attempt to do something funny every year, but we both like the idea of at least trying to make our friends and family smile (maybe even laugh out loud!) when they get our card in the mail. 

Holiday card 2013Last year we did this Neverending Story card because (1) love that movie, and (2) it was hilariously corny. Into it. I'd guess somewhere around 60% of people "got it", 10% probably couldn't even figure out who sent them, and 30% just didn't know that Artax gave into the sadness. So we should probably pick something more recognizable if we do another one based on a movie again. Or maybe not—it's our card after all. :) 

This year I wanted one with all three dogs. I didn't really have a specific idea, but it was our chance to get photos of the five of us, even if they were going to be ridiculous. So, we decided to try and get coordinating outfits and do some poses we found while googling "awkward family photos." Should be simple enough, right?

Trey George and Emma Chapman      Trey George and Emma Chapman       Trey George and Emma Chapman  Trey George and Emma Chapman    We had about five or six pretty awesome poses we wanted to try out. We started on this city stoop. We very quickly learned trying to strike a simple, funny pose we found on the Internet with three dogs was, well, not simple. Then Steve and Mrs. Bananas (the dingo and the beagle) saw another dog and it was over. They just felt that barking at that dog across the street was way more fun than posing for photos. So... we moved.

Trey George and Emma ChapmanTrey George and Emma Chapman Emma Chapman and Trey George       Emma Chapman and Trey George         Next we tried taking some up on a foot bridge nearby. No other dogs up there to distract them. Should be easy. We tried to talk them into sitting and looking toward our photographer, but as soon as one would get it, another one would get bored and start trying to walk off. But we were determined....

Emma Chapman and Trey GeorgeMaybe if we just try holding one of them for a minute.

Emma Chapman and Trey George Yep. Nailed it. OK, well, let's try some where we get down on their level. Maybe that will help them feel more in the mood to pose for a photo.

Emma Chapman and Trey George  Emma Chapman and Trey George    Here we go. A classic kissy one. And all three dogs are sort of looking at the camera. Wait, where's the beagle at? Hmm.

Emma Chapman and Trey George     Please take a moment to see the expression on our pug's (Love Love's) face in this one? Jabba the Hutt.

Holiday card 2014In the end, we really only got to try one of the poses we had planned. Luckily it worked for our "awkward family" holiday card this year. :) Who would've guess the old disembodied floating ghost head was the easiest idea to pull off? And let's all appreciate Trey's smile for just a minute. 

All kidding aside, I actually LOVE all these photos. I think they capture the sometimes chaotic nature of having three dogs, and I love that. I am printing all of these for our photo albums, and I hope when friends receive our cards in the mail this year, that it makes them smile. So, although this photo might kind of look like a hot mess to an outsider, I could not love them more. This is the state of our family in December 2014, and I'm so happy we have photos capturing this stage of our lives together. Big thanks to Janae Hardy for being up to snap these photos and the hilarious Photoshop job! And thanks for letting me share a little behind the scenes from our family holiday card this year. :) xo. Emma + Trey

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy. Emma's wearing: boots c/o Seychelles, tights/Target, skirt/H&M, sweater/my mother's high school cheerleading sweater. Trey's wearing: shirt + cardigan/Topman, jeans/UNIQLO, shoes/H&M. Dog sweaters from PetSmart and Target. 

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