Easy Clay Votive DIY

Need to try this! Easy Clay Votive DIY (click through for tutorial)         I love that there are so many fun DIY projects that involve clay (these ring dishes are still some of my favorite things to make). It's easy to find, rather cathartic to work with, and if you mess up, you can just smash it back into a ball and start over. It's very forgiving. I also love having a few candles lit around the house for a little atmosphere, but sometimes I worry a bit about having open flames around the pets, and I've definitely forgotten to blow one out more than once before leaving the house (whoops!). That in mind, I thought I'd use some clay to make quick and easy votive holders that I could put an LED votive into so it would be pet-friendly (and forgetful-friendly) but still give me that flickering ambiance I'm looking for.

Need to try this! Easy Clay Votive DIY (click through for tutorial)         Supplies:
-oven bake clay
-non-stick mat and non-stick rolling pin
-ruler
-clay knives or X-Acto knife
-straws
-round object or circle cookie cutter

Need to try this! Easy Clay Votive DIY (click through for tutorial)         This votive is made up of two pieces—a round bottom and a rectangular shape that is wrapped around the circle bottom to create the cylindrical sides. Find a circular object (or round cookie cutter) that you want to be the size of the bottom of your votive (a can or jar would work well). Measure the circumference of the circle to determine how long your rectangle will need to be (so if your circle is 8" around the edge, your rectangle will need to be 8" wide). I made two votives that were both 8" around, but different heights for a staggered look (so one rectangle was 8x3" and the other was 8x4.5").

Using a non-stick mat and rolling pin, roll out your clay so that your rectangle is about 1/4" thick and slightly bigger than your rectangle measurements. To keep your thickness consistent, you can place two flat objects of an even height on either side of your clay as you roll it out. A stack of equal numbered playing cards is good for this, but I like to use two clear rulers that are about 1/4" thick. 

Need to try this! Easy Clay Votive DIY (click through for tutorial)         Use straws to punch holes into your clay. You can do as many or as few as you like, but just keep in mind that if you have more holes than clay, you may have a tough time getting it to stand up later.

Need to try this! Easy Clay Votive DIY (click through for tutorial)         Once your holes are punched, measure out your final rectangle dimensions and use a clay or X-Acto knife to cut the rectangle. You can cut the rectangle before punching the holes if you want your hole placement to be more exact, but it does stretch the clay a bit as you press into it. So your rectangle may be a bit warped if you punch the holes second.

Need to try this! Easy Clay Votive DIY (click through for tutorial)         Roll out more clay the same thickness and use your circle cookie cutter or trace around your round object to make your votive bottom.

Need to try this! Easy Clay Votive DIY (click through for tutorial)           Wrap your rectangle around the clay circle until the sides meet together. Gently press the two edges together where they meet all the way up the side, and lightly smooth the clay in one direction over the meeting line until the seam disappears. A gentle and soft touch goes a long way on this step, so take your time and don't rush it.

Need to try this! Easy Clay Votive DIY (click through for tutorial)           Bake the clay according to the instructions on the package and allow the clay to cool completely. Add an LED tea light to the bottom of the votive, and you're ready to see your new project twinkle!

Need to try this! Easy Clay Votive DIY (click through for tutorial)
Need to try this! Easy Clay Votive DIY (click through for tutorial)          I think the white votive is fresh and clean looking, but if the color and dot pattern remind you too much of Swiss cheese, you can always use a colored clay instead. You could also use different sizes of straws for a varied look, or use the dots to create a letter on each votive to spell out a short word or act as a monogram. Overall, I think they turned out really cute, and I like projects that are fast enough to make a few of them at one time for a grouping. Hope you'll add a little twinkle to your space as well! xo. Laura

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

Spring Salad Niçoise

Spring salad nocoise (via abeautifulmess.com)  If you are ever at a restaurant and see salad niçoise on the menu, I highly recommend you give it a try. There are probably one million variations on this classic salad, but most of them involve hard boiled eggs, potatoes, and olives. Plus, the salad is often served in a segmented fashion that I think is both pretty and fun to eat. Sort of reminds me of being a kid and "needing" to keep different foods on my plate separated. 

Spring salad nocoise (via abeautifulmess.com)   This version is all about spring flavors like asparagus and butter lettuce. The dressing is a lemony vinaigrette because I love the taste of asparagus and lemon together. So bright and flavorful but still totally good for you. I'm trying to get more into salads this season, and the weather is warming up. So this one is a real treat as well as super filling. 

How to cook asparagusSpring Salad Niçoise, serves 2-3 as a meal.

For the salad:
10-12 asparagus stalks (I saw white and green at the store so I got both!)
one head butter lettuce
3-4 strawberries
2-3 new potatoes
2-3 hard boiled eggs
5-6 niçoise olives (or Kalamata if you can't find niçoise)
protein of choice (options: cooked shrimp, canned tuna, or cubed tofu)
*You can easily change up the salad ingredients based on what is available where you live

For the dressing:
juice from 2 lemons
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons parsley
salt + pepper to taste

I like to cook at least 5-6 hard boiled eggs at once to use in this salad, and then have more throughout the week. Might as well if you're going to the trouble, right? I'll often do this a day or two before I make a salad so it's already done. This cuts your prep time down substantially. 

You can hard boil eggs by placing eggs in a pot filled with enough water to cover the eggs. Bring to boil over medium heat. Place the lid on top, remove from heat, and allow the eggs to continue to cook for 10 minutes. Strain from the water, and once cool enough to handle, peel for use. Or you can leave them unpeeled in the refrigerator for 4-5 days (probably longer, but I usually just make enough to last me this long). Another method is to bake eggs in the oven.

Lemon nicoise dressingRemove the woody ends from the asparagus stalks. Clean and slice the potatoes. Boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender. During the last 4-6 minutes, add the asparagus to the same pot and cook until the green ones turn bright green and are tender and easy to bite through. Strain and rinse in cool water.

For the dressing, combine in a medium or small mixing bowl the lemon juice, mustard, garlic and shallot. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in as you whisk so it will blend together well. Toss in the parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Spring salad nocoise (via abeautifulmess.com)Once all the different components are ready, simply slice everything up, plate, and top with the dressing. Here's to exciting and flavorful salads! xo. Emma

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

Scrapbook Sunday: New Messy Box Goods

Wohoo! New Messy Box items at shop.abeautifulmess.comHi, friends! I'm excited to share a bunch of new Messy Book items we've just released. I designed all of these pieces to coordinate with our Messy Books and Messy Boxes

Above I'm using our raw chipboard dividers. These can be used between pages to create sections, openers or just add more dimension to our Messy Books. You can recover them with photos, papers or paint them. You can also use an X-Acto to cut windows. I am really excited about the creative possibilities here! I love pocket pages, but I like having pages in my album that aren't plastic too! 

Wohoo! New Messy Box items at shop.abeautifulmess.com Next up, some more chipboard dividers that are printed and glossy. There are six protectors in a variety of fun patterns that mix and match but are all black and white. They're very fun to layer embellishments on! 

Wohoo! New Messy Box items at shop.abeautifulmess.com  This quote comes from a card in the April Messy Box that I cut into strips. 

Wohoo! New Messy Box items at shop.abeautifulmess.com   Also, I wanted to note that I use Glossy Accents to adhere clear things to my pages. It dries completely clear. 

Wohoo! New Messy Box items at shop.abeautifulmess.com     Next up, I have a set of six acrylic dividers. These come in fun patterns and phrases. My favorite one says "Our Adventure Book". They are great for layering over photos, painting the back for a cool effect, or just adding them between regular pages for a fun textured look. 

Wohoo! New Messy Box items at shop.abeautifulmess.com      They are a thick transparency type material. I stapled this photo booth photo to this page using my mini stapler

Wohoo! New Messy Box items at shop.abeautifulmess.com       Last, but not least, I am pumped about these cute attacher tabs! They come in mint, gray, and black. They are made of plastic and have adhesive on the inside like a sticker. So you can use these to make anything into a page without poking holes in your stuff (plus they just look really cute). 

Wohoo! New Messy Box items at shop.abeautifulmess.com        To apply them, just take the sticker back off, put them into your album rings (so the spacing will be perfect) and press the sticker part around whatever you want to make into a page. Done and done! I added mini staples to mine too (you can see above) just because I like the way it looks. 

Cool! Thanks for taking a look at our new products. You can see everything that goes with the Messy Book here and subscribe to Messy Box here! If you've already subscribed, please use #MyBeautifulMess to share your creations with us on Instagram! We LOVE seeing what you make each week. 

Happy Sunday! xx. Elsie 

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

Recent Read: The $100 Startup

$100 StartupJust wanted to share a recent read with you all this lovely Saturday. For the last few months, I've been (very slowly) reading The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. The reason it took me months to get through isn't because it's boring or I'm a terrible reader (I swear!). There is just so much good information and inspiring stories that I never wanted to read too much at once because it sort of felt like eating two cupcakes in a row—what a waste! Did that even make sense? Hopefully you get what I'm trying to say here.

If you've never heard of The $100 Startup, then I highly recommend you check it out. The book compiles tons of data + stories of creative entrepreneurs who started successful businesses on a shoe string budget (or no budget at all!). I thought it was incredibly inspiring and a great reminder to think outside the box when it comes to business. 

Also, if you've never heard of Chris Guillebeau before, you should totally check out his site. He has tons of great information and other resources that are super valuable if you are the creative/business-y type. :) Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photo from Chris Guillebeau's site. I read this book on my black and white kindle and I can't find a good way to photograph that darn thing, you guys!

Beginner's Guide to Laying Tile

How to lay tile (via abeautifulmess.com)Ready to see what we've done in the laundry room at our Habitat for Humanity project house? As you might remember, this room gave us quite the surprise when we discovered that the floor was rotted out and had to be replaced. The carpets were being removed when this discovery happened, so our tile plans got set aside while some other repairs took place. But now, we've made all our tile dreams come true! I (Emma) sourced the large, marbled-looking tiles locally and Josh installed them. Today he's going to share how he did it in case any of you have tile dreams of your own. Take it away, Josh:

Tile has been used for a good while, close to 4000 years. That's a pretty good run for a building/decorative material. I tried my hand at installing it for the first time about a month ago. Although laying tile takes practice and time to master, I found that the challenge was a lot easier to approach than I first imagined. With the help of a couple videos and tips from a contractor friend, I felt confident in starting the project. Also, the space is only about 75 square feet, so it was a good starting size. 

Marble tileHere's what I learned from doing it for the first time. I'm not going to be able to squeeze in 4000 years worth of information or instruction, but it'll be one more perspective you can work off of. Now that I've done it once, I feel pretty good about it. In fact, I love tiling! We spent about $350 to tile the floor including tile, supplies, tools, and tile saw rental. By installing the tile ourselves we saved at least $400!

SuppliesSupplies:
-mixing paddle
-tile markers
-screws
-drill
-backerboard
-mortar
-grout
-trowels
-tile saw (rented)
-measuring tape
-knee pads
-spacers
-bucket
-utility knife
-straight edge
-sponges
-level
-tile (We used a 12" x 25" ceramic tile called Calacatta by Happy Floors.)

Step one: The first thing I did was make sure the surface was free of dirt and dust. I vacuumed the entire area and checked for exposed nail heads and loose plywood. After everything was tidy and ready to go, it was time to install backerboard, which provides an even, protective, and moisture-resistant surface for the tile. I used Wonderboard Lite brand. The directions for using it are right on the board, so that was pretty straightforward. A couple things to remember when installing backerboard:

-To cut the boards, either using a scoring knife or utility knife, score, then snap the board along an edge.

-Stagger the sheets as you put them down. You don't want the sheets coming together corner to corner. Leave 1/8" gap between each sheet.

-Trowel a thin layer of mortar under the backerboard as you go along.

-You can nail or screw the backerboard on. I went with backerboard screws.  If you want, rent a nailer and save yourself a little bit of time.

-Here's the more in depth instruction for installing Wonderboard Lite.

Clean up the floorsNote: A step that you probably (hopefully) won't run into, was sealing up the floor. The laundry room was an add on, probably not built by a professional. There were gaps in parts of the floor (where it met up with the wall) where I could see down to the ground. I sprayed some foam into the cracks in hopes of sealing up the room a bit more. After the foam dried, I trimmed off the excess, making it even with the wall and floor.

Step two: After I had the backerboard down, it was time to start tiling! There are many methods when it comes to making sure your space is square, where to start the tile, etc. Since the space I was doing was pretty small and rectangular, I decided to start at the back wall and work my way toward the kitchen (see the layout in this post for reference.) I knew that we would have a washer and dryer up against the wall where I would finish, so any cut tile would be hidden. There are spec sheets (like this one) and installation requirements for each type of tile you choose (as seen here). You may not use all of the info, but it doesn't hurt to know about the tile you're using (like who knew that Calacatta tile had a friction coefficient of ≤ 0,60).

How to lay tileSo I started at the back wall, opposite the back door and worked my way down. I mixed the mortar, per the directions, and started troweling it on the backerboard using a slotted trowel. the size of the slots depend on the thickness of the tile. Since I was laying pretty big pieces, I used a bigger slot trowel. (I found that the correlation isn't an exact science. Basically, the thickness of the tile should be about the size of the trowel gaps.). I put down enough mortar for a couple tiles, laid one, and tapped it down. (You can use a rubber mallet, I just used my hands.) The goal for each tile, is to make sure they are level and line up with each other. Tile spacers aid in achieving uniform gaps between the tiles.  

A beginner's guide to laying tileTaking my time, I worked my way down, row by row. The tile saw was easy to use, as I had to cut end pieces. Before I knew it, I was at the last row, which took just a little bit more measuring and cutting. When I laid that last piece of tile, I felt like an old pro looking across my finished floor. Actually it wasn't done just yet. I waited a weekend, then came back, removed all the spacers and troweled in grout between all gaps. Keeping the tile as clean as possible at this stage is crucial. As soon as the grout dries, cleaning it up will be nearly impossible. 

Here are some tips I would pass on to somebody doing tile for the first time (since I'm a seasoned tiler now. OK, not really but I do have some tips I picked up.)

-Spend the extra time making sure the floor is free of any debris, dirt or even dust before starting to tile. 

-Unless you plan on doing a lot of tiling, like starting a tile business, (unlike painting tools) you don't have to buy the expensive tools. I got the cheapest trowels, spacers, mixing paddle, etc. and it all worked great. I think the more expensive tools are just sturdier, made to last longer, but if you're only doing one job, it doesn't make sense to drop a bunch of cash on tools.

-Keep your tools clean, the mortar and grout rinse off easily before it sets, after that—good luck.

-Have a good route in mind. You don't want to tile yourself into a corner. Fortunately I had two exits to work with. I still had to stretch out a bit to lay that last piece though. -Josh

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

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