Autumn Bliss Salad with Stuffing Croutons (via abeautifulmess.com)It might be too early to be dreaming about Thanksgiving menus (or is it?! :), but autumn is in full swing and I am celebrating with STUFFING CROUTONS! Can you tell I'm excited? This salad not only tastes amazing, boasting crisp apples, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and all the flavors of Thanksgiving day stuffing in those croutons, but it's also incredibly easy to make. Plus it makes your kitchen smell like Thanksgiving day (I suspect it's the sage-rosemary combo). 

Autumn Bliss Salad with Stuffing Croutons (via abeautifulmess.com) Autumn Bliss Salad, serves 2

3-4 oz bread, cubed
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped sage
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1 celery stalk, sliced thin (approx. 1 oz or slightly less)
1 clove of garlic, minced

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
plenty of salt and pepper

For the salad:
1 head of romaine lettuce 
1 apple cored and cubed, I really like honey crisp here
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Cube the bread and slice the celery, then place in a bowl. In a small bowl or cup, stir together the melted butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, herbs, and minced garlic. Toss with the bread and celery. Place on a baking sheet lined with a baking mat (or lightly oiled), and bake at 400°F for 10-12 minutes. 

Stuffing croutonsEasy apple cider dressingMeanwhile, in a small jar, combine the apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Shake to combine well. (You could also whisk in a small bowl, but shaking is more fun!) Taste, and add salt and pepper. 

Wash and dry the lettuce (if needed), then chop up. Toss the lettuce, cubed apple, and dressing. Divide onto two plates. Top with the pumpkin seeds, cranberries and the stuffing croutons. 

Autumn Bliss Salad with Stuffing Croutons (via abeautifulmess.com)  Notes:

-I used a small pretzel loaf for the bread here, but pretty much any bread you have can work. I think something on the thicker side is best. Also cornbread would probably be amazing. So don't be afraid to change it up. You can also double the crouton recipe listed above and save some for another salad later in the week, just keep in a sealed bag or container after baking.

-My one issue with dried cranberries is it's extremely difficult to find them without added sugar. I try to avoid added sugar in savory foods so I can enjoy it more in treats. :) If you're feeling similar, you could swap out the dried cranberries here for pomegranate seeds instead. 

Make this salad soon, guys—it's too good to miss! xo. Emma

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

What to do about hatersWe're back with another article in our Blog Q&A series, which you can see all of here if you need to catch up. Today's question comes from a Blog Life student:

"My blog exploded in readership when I started, and because of that paired with the content of the blog (vegan recipes), I received so much negativity from the beginning. Ever since, I haven't looked at any of the press we've gotten, and I rarely check comments. The worst part is, I've been stuck posting really 'safe' content that's boring to me only about once a week because I'm scared of going through all of the hate again. How do I get back to being positive and not letting negative people dictate what I want to say?"

This is such a great question, as I feel like it applies to SO many areas of life and not just blogging. If you've ever put something out there that you worked hard on (especially if you put it on the Internet), then you may have encountered some "hate" before, no matter whether you're a blogger, artist, writer, politician, mom, business owner, etc. This list could go on and on! Pretty much anyone who is doing something (as opposed to just watching—more on that in a second) is going to encounter some form of criticism or even hate during the course of their life. So what can we do about this?

Haters vs. Constructive Criticism

First I think it's SUPER important to understand the difference between negative feedback we should ignore and negative feedback that we should consider. I'm sure we could define "haters" all sorts of ways, but what I think of is spectators who are not interested in adding to a conversation or building anything. They would rather tear you down possibly to make themselves feel better about their inactivity. It's easy to criticize; it's much harder to create. So if you are creating anything—articles, projects, content, music, literature, anything really, then you are likely to stir up some hate as those spectators have to face that they are not creating while you are. As Aristotle said, "To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing." Does that sound like an exciting and fulfilling life to you? Yeah, me neither. :)

So if you encounter criticism that you can basically summarize as, "You are ugly. You are dumb. You should stop doing things. You disappoint me because you did something I personally don't enjoy. You suck." Or any combination of these, here's what you do—ignore. If needed, delete those emails, comments, or whatever. Don't even respond because it's a waste of your time. You are on a mission to make and the spectators in the cheap seats are just gonna slow you down. Press on, friend! I know I'm making this sound easy, but trust me, it's incredibly hard to do. We all struggle with this from time to time. 

But what about that criticism that we should consider? I would call this constructive criticism (from non-crazy people). This usually comes in the form of questions that they feel your project didn't address, or offerings of solutions to perceived problems or weaknesses in your project. Most of the time people are either A.) Actually interested but something about your project confuses them or doesn't work for them, or B.) They see how they think your project could be better and so they tell you. Even if this criticism has been worded in a way that stings a little, try to assume they mean well and do your best to evaluate the feedback. Useful, constructive criticism can make us SO much stronger—so don't live in a bubble and miss out on these opportunities! You may receive feedback that you don't agree with, or that doesn't fit your overall goals for the project, and that's OK too. But it doesn't hurt to evaluate it as it will help you see things from other perspectives. And if you are selling or monetizing your offerings, then it's especially important to care what your customers think, even if you can't cater to every single suggestion.

Don't live in a bubble, but do protect yourself.

If you need to take a break from reading comments on your site or something from time to time—do it! Just give yourself a week or a month and come back to it later so you don't miss any useful or kind feedback while you try to avoid some hate for while. Also, don't google yourself or go to areas of the Internet that you know are just filled with hate (like mean message boards or gossip sites). If you're gonna waste your time, waste it on something fun. :)

Protect yourself as best you can and ask for support from family and friends when you need it! We all feel down sometimes, we go through ruts, we feel completely uninteresting, unoriginal, useless. It happens to everyone, reach out to loved ones for support—we all need it!

Don't let negativity steal your creativity. 

Take a second to think of your favorite writer, musician, or artist. The person you are thinking of right now, I promise someone told them they sucked and they should quit. Aren't you glad they didn't! The world is full of beautiful and interesting things because people refuse to stop making, and I personally want to join in this movement in whatever way I get lucky enough to contribute. We can't let negativity stop us from doing this or scare us from trying. Sometimes it's hard, but you have to force yourself to go all in and do the thing, or write the post, that you are most passionate about. Do not let fear of negativity water down your brand/vision/goals! As Andy Warhol said, "Don't pay attention to what they write about, just measure it in inches." Ha!

And for anyone going through the hate right now, please hear this: YOU are valuable no matter how much people like or dislike your stuff. This is totally something my mom would have said to me in middle school when I would wear the weirdest, homemade clothes to school. But you know what—she was right. Don't let anyone else dictate your worth!

I could probably talk about this for WAY longer as I am a big believer in the power of creativity and positivity, the enemy of which is usually ourselves or haters. But I've already made you read over 1000 words, so how about I let you add to the conversation now. What do you think? Have you dealt with hate? Did you let it steal your creativity or did you do something else? Share your story or questions! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Image design: Mara Dockery. 

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                             It's been a few months since I've done a room tour of our new Nashville diggs, but I can't wait to share with you the room we probably hang out in the most—the den! We have a front sitting room connected to a dining space in the front of the house, but since we have our TV in the den and a large sectional couch, we tend to spend most nights lounging around in this space instead. I think this is probably the room that has seen the biggest transformation for me since we moved in, and below you'll see why!

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                             This room had a lot of red-toned wood and brick detail when we first moved in that really gave the space a dated feel. The floor was a mix of brown tile and shag carpet (you can see it better in another before photo later in the post), and it felt, and looked, so odd to have two different flooring options in the same room. Since we installed hardwood floors and stained them dark, I painted the walls, wood shelving, and fireplace a bright white (just untinted paint straight from the can is my favorite white) to brighten up the space as much as possible since dark floors can suck up a lot of light. For balance, I painted the ceiling beams a dark grey to mimic the floor tone and bring some contrast to the upper part of the room.

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                                We replaced the standard looking ceiling fan with this gorgeous light fixture from Lucent Lightshop. As you'll see, we have a few brass mid-century inspired light fixtures in the space, which helps to keep the look consistent throughout the room.

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                                       I usually keep our mantel pretty simple and just switch out greenery, gold objects, and prints as my mood dictates (love those prints by Wilder California and Garance Doré).

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                                       Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                                       These brass unicorn fire pokers were one of the first things I bought after we moved. They were from a local vintage shop and were just too unique to pass up!!

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                             To give the space another custom touch, I replaced the metal accordion closet doors with wood ones, and then cut and painted geometric wood panels to match. Doors with special trim work or panels always feel a bit Parisian to me, which is probably why I've done it in a few spots in the house!

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                                        My husband had been trying to convince me to get a sectional for a few years, and I'm so glad that I finally gave in and got this beautiful Joybird Braxton sectional (in Notion Thunderbird). The mid-century design is clean and sleek but still looks timeless and modern when added to the space. Not only can we both fully stretch out now when we watch a movie, but there's also plenty of room for both cats as well, and the fabric is really pet friendly (so easy to vacuum clean). Since I knew I wanted a colored couch, I decided to make the rest of the decor nearby mostly neutral so that the couch could really be the big pop of color for the space. So glad that I did! I was so happy to find this round marble pedestal coffee table to compliment the design. The marble is so pretty, and I love the gold against the teal of the couch and the white cowhide. Once I added a gold leather pouf and some gold foil pillows, our nightly hangout area was complete!

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                             Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)
How cute is that vintage kitty letter holder?? I use it to hold photos instead but I love it...

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                              I wanted to make sure all the furniture in the room felt cohesive, so I restyled an Ikea TV stand to give it a bit of mid-century flair. I also try and think of a few ways to add some fun into each room, and while I was stuck for a while on how to do that in this space, it all became very clear when I saw this giant (and freaking awesome!) Palm Springs dinosaur print. I trimmed it down to fit the space above the TV and built a quick custom frame for it (using this method). The moment I hung it up, I knew it was just the vibe I had been looking for.

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                             Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                             These globe sconces were my first lighting DIY project, and I'm still so happy with how they turned out. There's not a lot of floor room for lamps in this room, so adding some lighting to a wall really helped (and they are on dimmers, which I love).

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                             Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                                          Above you can see what I was talking about with the "half tile—half carpet" before situation. So odd, right? Having flowing hardwoods that now go through the whole house with the same floor stain makes the space feel much less disjointed. We also added a light over the breakfast nook table as well and added long curtains (hung at the top of the wall) to make the shorter ceilings look taller.

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                       The light that we added over the table is this lovely brass pendant globe. The globe is such a classic mid-century look that I actually have it in a few spots in the house (including our covered porch entryway). The gold and roundness of the globe mimics the DIY round table and gold legs below, so they are the perfect compliment for each other. 

Remember how I was just saying that it's really important for me to add elements of fun to each room? Well, what's more fun than a neon pink pizza sign?!? I worked with the darlings over at Electric Confetti to create this custom sign I designed, and they made all my neon dreams come true. It also comes with a remote so you can adjust the brightness to your liking or set it on one of several flashing modes for a party. A big plus is that it's totally quiet as well as cute—no annoying hum at all! What's not to love??

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                                          Our kitty Mac still uses this Palm Springs scratch house that I made for him just about every day. Nothing makes me happier than to see his little face in there looking out at me through the window. Sometimes he goes in just to take a nap!

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)  We love to use our little breakfast nook for Saturday brunches or just to sit with some coffee in the winter and stare out at the backyard squirrels and birds (the cats love it for that same reason). I added a light-colored shag rug to break up the dark flooring a bit, and those lucite ghost chairs are a fun addition to the set as well.

Also, how amazing is that giant cactus!! Such a special guy deserves a special home, so I found him that = to live in. NEVER DIE, I LOVE YOU!!

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                    I made a quick key and coat rack out of wood and brass cabinet pulls, and since I used those same pulls throughout the room, it fits in nicely with the space. Also brought along that Big Lebowski print from our last house, and the Dude seems very happy here as well.

Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)                    Laura's Den Tour Before + After (click through for more!)    Hope you enjoyed the tour of our Nashville den! In case you missed them, you can also see our bedroom, dining room, kitchen, and guest bathroom tours as well. Our home is becoming such a cozy and cheery place lately, thanks for stopping by! xo. Laura

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

Beet, Goat Cheese, and Honey Bagels (via abeautifulmess.com)You know how many grocery stores have a big, clear case of pastries somewhere near the bakery? Temptation island, am I right. :) I don't always open the case and pick out a treat for myself, honestly. Or at least I don't as often as I think about it. Also, why do they always seem to be right by the produce section?! At any rate, more often than not, I think about getting a donut, but when it really comes down to it, I end up reaching for a bagel. Of course I love both, and in a world where calories and carbs don't exist, I reach for both, always—but that's not where we live. :) 

I am a sucker for bagels though—I really am. They are just so comforting! I love the almost-crusty outside and then the soft, chewy insides too. And every now and again, I get the itch to make them at home so that the smell of baking breads fills out the house. One of my favorites is Everything Bagels, and this is sort of a variation on that recipe. It's got some stronger flavors but nothing is overwhelming, just interesting. If you've never made bagels at home before, I highly recommend you give it a try—it's super easy and sort of fun!

Beet, Goat Cheese, and Honey Bagels (via abeautifulmess.com)  Beet, Goat Cheese, and Honey Bagels (via abeautifulmess.com) Beet, Goat Cheese, and Honey Bagels, makes 8

1 large beet (mine was 8 oz.)
1 1/3 cups water
1 tablespoon honey + more for the tops and serving
one package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 oz goat cheese + more for serving
1/4 cup chopped nuts or seeds (I used almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and poppy seeds)
1 egg
coarse sea salt (1/4 teaspoon or so, no need to be exact here)

First we make some homemade beet juice, but without a juicer.

How to make beet juice without a juicerPeel and cube the beet. I wear gloves and use a potato peeler to do this. Beet juice will stain your hands, wood cutting boards, and sometimes marble counter tops, so do be careful when you work with beets—they can be messy! Add the cubed beets to a small pot with 1 1/3 cups water, bring to a low boil, and cook for 10 minutes until the beet has softened some. Then pour the entire contents into a good blender (I love my Vitamix here!) and blend until smooth. Strain into a glass measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer. You're aiming to get 1 1/4 cups liquid here, but if you come up a little short, just add a little water until you have that amount. 

How to make bagelsNow, while the beet water is still warm, stir in 1 tablespoon of honey, and then pour the yeast over the top of the mixture. Let that sit for a few minutes. It should begin to foam a little, which just means the yeast is working. Doing its yeasty job.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the 3 1/2 cups bread flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Pour the beet/yeast mixture in and stir until a crumbly dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough ball becomes somewhat elastic feeling, the surface becoming slightly shiny and smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise for 1 hour in a warm, dry spot in your house. If your house is a bit chilly, you can warm your oven a little (not too hot or you'll bake the dough), then turn the oven off. Place the dough in there, with the door slightly ajar or closed (depending how warm you got the inside) and let it rise there. I almost always do this as we tend to keep our house on the chillier side. 

By the way, don't you think the dough kind of looks like a brain here? I don't know what it is about the pink, beet color, but it kind of looks like a brain to me. So maybe this could double as a Halloween baking project for kiddos/adult Halloween enthusiasts? :)

Homemade bagel recipeOnce the dough has risen, turn out onto a flour surface and divide into 8 pieces. Roll into a ball and then use your index finger to gently press a hole in the center, then shape into a bagel shape. Once you've shaped all the bagels, allow to rest for 10 minutes. 

In the meantime, heat a medium sized pot with water to a low boil. Boil each bagel for 1 minute on each side. The dough will float about the first few seconds of cooking here. Then remove to a baking sheet lined with a baking mat or that's lightly oiled. 

Whisk the egg in a small bowl and brush over the tops of each bagel. Top with the goat cheese, nut/seed mix, a drizzle of honey, and a little coarse salt. Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes. Then remove to a cooling rack. 

Beet, Goat Cheese, and Honey Bagels (via abeautifulmess.com)    Once cool enough to handle, slice and serve with a little more goat cheese and honey. Yum!

Notes:

-If you can find or make fresh beet juice, feel free to use that instead of the water/beet juice mix suggested here. The flavor of your final bagels will likely be stronger, but I suspect it will be just as good and the color may even be richer.

-I do wear gloves when peeling or cutting up beets, but once you've incorporated the juice into the dough, it won't as easily stain your hands or counter tops. I kneaded the dough on my white counter tops and no stains appeared. 

Hope you enjoy these! xo. Emma

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

Elsie's Dining Room Tour ©AlyssaRosenheckToday I am so excited to share our dining room with you! It's one of my personal favorite rooms in the whole house. It's where we love to host parties and dinners and where Laura and I have ABM meetings about interesting topics like soap recipes and jello shot ideas. 

What's interesting about this room is that it's visually bold, but to me it's the most minimalist room in our home. We hardly did any decorating because the wallpaper is so bold. When we have parties, we don't really decorate this room, because no matter what you put in here, the wallpaper is all you see. It makes it pretty easy if I'm being honest, and I can see why a lot of hotels and restaurants go this route with their decor. It kind of simplifies this whole process. 

I have a bunch of photos to share with you from my shoot with Alyssa Rosenheck for domino. I decided to share these photos as my tour because they really got all the angles. But if you notice a few things moving around, just know it's because that's what you do during magazine shoots. It's the magazine way! Haha! 

But FIRST, a walk down memory lane is in order, don't you think? 

AR5A4787Elsie's Dining Room Tour©AlyssaRosenheck     Before vs. After. Always a good moment to look back and see how far we've come! 

We fell in love with this house for 100 different reasons. The formal dining room with doors that walk out into the sunroom was a big one for us. We love the flow of this house. It's very open and natural, but not so open that it feels like just one big room. In the layout, this room sits between the kitchen/breakfast nook and the living room. 

The visual change is pretty dramatic, but the steps we took to get from point A to point B were a lot less intense than a lot of the other rooms. We removed the heavy drapes and repaired the trim so that it was flush with the rest of the trim. That's the biggest reason why it's so much brighter now. We refinished the floors with a light whitewash color. We removed the chair rails and added some bold wallpaper. BOLD wallpaper. After that, we kept the decor pretty simple. The most exciting moment in this renovation for me was putting up this dream light fixture. I got it from Shop Candelabra. It looks like it's no longer on their site, but there are a lot of similar options and really dreamy sputniks on there. 

Elsie's Dining Room Tour©AlyssaRosenheck  The Jane Birkin poster really pops with the wallpaper. It's a blueprint copy of a photo I found online. The frame is DIY

Elsie's dining room The wine shelf is a custom piece that Josh Rhodes made when we still lived in Missouri. I loved it in that space, but I love it even more now! It was a beast to move, but since we're never moving ever again, it's all good. 

Elsie's Dining Room Tour©AlyssaRosenheck      Let's talk about the white rug. Yeah, I saw your judgy looks. 

Haha—I'm just kidding! But seriously, read this whole paragraph before you judge. 

We chose a Marrakesh Shag Rug for a couple reasons—
1. It's GORGEOUS. I'm not going to lie to you and say I didn't choose it because it's so beautiful. I am not above being vain about my rug choices. I realize a dark rug would've been more practical and potentially lasted longer, BUT I didn't want a dark rug, and it didn't fit this space. I mean—can you even visualize a dark rug here. 
2. I've had a rug like this before, and I'm OK with spot cleaning it. I'm also OK with the wear and tear that is going to happen over time. I'm happy to say that almost a year in, it's still looking almost brand new! But there are a few spots here and there from parties, and I can live with that because in the BIG PICTURE, the room looks and feels how I want it to. That's more worth it to me than a rug that promises to "never age" because we all know that rugs don't last forever. If you want to hear me over-explain my choice some more, look no further

OK, now you can judge me if you still want to! 

Elsie's Dining Room Tour ©AlyssaRosenheck    Elsie's Dining Room Tour ©AlyssaRosenheck    Our wallpaper is Redoute Rose-Hot Pink by Peacoquette Designs via Spoonflower

I have so many feelings about this wallpaper. It was love at first sight for sure. It's not really compatible with much other decor, which is a love and hate thing for me. Mostly love! I like that the room always looks complete and pulled together (as long as the table is cleared—haha). And it's visually stunning in a way that truly makes my heart skip a beat when I walk into the room, even after all these months! BUTTERFLIES. 

But I will admit the downside to having such bold wallpaper is that the room is not very versatile. You want to throw a halloween party or a themed party or a themed birthday party? Well if it doesn't match pink floral... forget about it. As with most extreme choices, there's an up and a down. For that reason I like to think of this room as the diva of our home. Every person who comes over wants to take a photo by the wallpaper, so I told her she's Instagram famous. :)

Elsie's dining room  Well I hope you enjoyed my little tour! We are so happy here. 

Elsie's Dining Room Tour ©AlyssaRosenheck         I'm so grateful for the natural light. It's by far the best thing about our home and the reason why I sometimes jokingly and sometimes very seriously say I will never move.  

Fun fact! The cabinet you see to your right holding glassware is actually this cabinet repurposed! 

Thank you so much for reading! If you have any questions at all, I'll be popping in to answer them even though I'm on vacation this week because THAT'S how much I love you guys!! xx -Elsie 

Other sources: Mirror/Rejuvenation, White Chairs/Amazon, Teak Wood Chair/Lulu & Georgia.

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Alyssa Rosenheck and (photos of me) Laura Gummerman. 

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