January Book Club Selection

Midnight good evilHey, guys! Just wanted to let you know what we'll be reading for the A Beautiful Mess book club in January so you can order or put your copy on hold at the library soon. We'll be reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. If you're more of a viewer than a reader, you'll be happy to know this book was made into a film starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack. So feel free to cheat on your homework and watch the movie, or both. I can't stop you.

Jtb breadI'm super stoked for January because Joy the Baker will be guest moderating for us. I've been a fan of Joy's since before I even blogged my first recipe. It's true! Joy doesn't know it, but we go way back. :)

Joy might be mostly known as a baker and cookbook author, but she also has great book recommendations on her site and a whole lot of personality in her writing, so I'm excited to welcome her to the ABM book club next month. 

ABM book club year one selections!And as we near the end of 2014, I can't help but be amazed that it was nearly a year ago that we started the ABM book club. Time flies! My main goal with the club was to force myself to read more regularly and to share awesome books with my virtual friends (that's you guys!). It has been a year full of really fun books and interesting discussions. I've loved it. I hope you have to. I can't wait to see what we read in 2015 together. :) xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Joy Wilson, Emma Chapman and Sarah Rhodes. Most photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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15 Sweet Treats for the Holidays

Peppermint marshmallowsIt's the time of year when you are surrounded by all kinds of treats and goodies and you indulge and don't feel guilty about it because it's the holiday season, right? At least that's what we tell ourselves. :) We thought it would be fun to create a roundup of our favorite sweet treats to give you some baking ideas for all the family gatherings and holiday parties coming up. Let's start with these homemade peppermint marshmallows

Peanut butter sticky bunsThese peanut butter sticky buns would be the perfect treat to enjoy on Christmas morning.

Peppermint bark petit foursImpress your guests or co-workers with these delicious peppermint bark petit fours.

Pomegranate glazed donutsDonuts are always a good idea! These pomegranate glazed donuts are extra festive.

Favorite no-bake cookie recipeEmma's no-bake cookies are SO good and super easy to make. Warning: they are really addictive. :)

Mocha mint frappeDriving around to look at Christmas lights? This mocha mint frappe would be a fun treat to take along with you.

Candied gingerFill your candy dishes with this candied ginger for a little after dinner treat.

Skillet cookiesMake this amazing skillet cookie for your guests (and you won't be tempted to eat half of it by yourself!)

Eggnog cinnamon rollsLooking for something to add to your brunch menu? Try these eggnog cinnamon rolls.

Peppermint hot chocolateGet cozy by the fire with this peppermint hot chocolate

Sweet and spicy peanut brittleWe love this sweet and spicy take on peanut brittle

Baked french toast sticksLooking for something for the kiddos to enjoy too? They will love these baked French toast sticks.

Classic sopapillasNot in the mood for chocolate or candy? Try these classic sopapillas instead.

No-bake cheesecake trufflesCherry cheesecake without all the fuss. These no-bake cheesecake truffles are so good, and they are a little bit fancy!

Nutella hot chocolateLast but far from least, take your Nutella addiction to the next level with this Nutella hot chocolate. It's just plain amazing, you guys.

Happy Holidays! - The ABM Team

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Cards & Tags with A Beautiful Mess Stamps

Cards and tags made with A Beautiful Mess StampsYou never know when you'll need a cute greeting card or gift tag, and that's why I love making bunches of them to keep on hand. You know how much I love fancy gift wrapping—and a cute little homemade tag or card is the perfect companion to a thoughtfully wrapped gift.

I was so excited to receive three sets of A Beautiful Mess stamps to play with, and spent the next week dreaming up fun ways to use them to make cute and quirky cards. Emojis really are the perfect little accents to any kind of greeting card! It's like an Instagram comment sent via snail mail. Who wouldn't be delighted to get one?

Cards and tags made with A Beautiful Mess StampsFor this card, I filled a glassine envelope with confetti and sealed it with my sewing machine. Then I glued it onto a card and accented it with a little square of gold cardstock and a confetti emoji stamp. I added a celebratory "HIP HIP hooray" with the alpha stamp set and some little stamps I've had for ages.

This card would be perfect to send to a far away friend for New Year's Day. They can rip open the glassine envelope and throw confetti in memory of you!

Cards and tags made with A Beautiful Mess StampsThis naughty or nice card is a fun holiday greeting card—perfect for sending to a cheeky friend. I stamped two emoji stamps onto different shades of pink cardstock and elevated the cardstock with foam tape to give it dimension. I used an old set of little stamps for the "naughty or nice" phrase.

Cards and tags made with A Beautiful Mess StampsWe like to tease my sister-in-law for her excess use of "I can't" as an expression of amusement. This would be the perfect card to send to her! It was so simple to make too. I just stamped the blue card with the emoji stamp and added the words with an old alpha stamp set. Then I stitched angled pieces of olive green cardstock to the top and bottom. If you don't have a sewing machine, you could easily glue on the pieces of cardstock instead!

Sewing on Paper Tip: It's safe to sew through paper if there isn't adhesive on the paper. Make sure to change your needle to a fresh one before sewing into fabric again.

Cards and tags made with A Beautiful Mess StampsThese little round tags are just the cutest! I think it's probably because of the dancing twin girls, honestly. I made the top two tags with the cross and triangle stamp from the bow stamp set, and the bottom tag features the dancing girls from the emoji stamp set. I punched out the cardstock with circle punches and cut out the yellow cardstock with pinking shears.

Cards and tags made with A Beautiful Mess StampsIf you know someone who's been an angel all year (or would have you believe they've been good), the HO HO HO tag above would be a perfect way to adorn their gift! I used the alpha stamp set and emoji stamp set for these tags and accented the plain cardstock with pieces of glitter cardstock. Fancy and fun!

Cards and tags made with A Beautiful Mess StampsStamping onto plain gift tags is a super quick way to give your gifts a custom look. On these premade tags, I used the heart and heart eyes emoji stamps as well as the striped ribbon and triangle from the bow stamp set. Very quick and easy! 

 Cards and tags made with A Beautiful Mess StampsWhich one's your favorite? I think I'm going to have some friends over for hot chocolate, Christmas movies, and crafts so I can make my other dream cards into reality! Uh-oh... I might be addicted. -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella from the Signature Collection.

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Holiday Shopping Home Stretch (ModCloth Giveaway!)

Modcloth wishlist

We are in, what I like to think of as, the holiday shopping home stretch. I've got about half of the folks on my holiday gift list done. Their gifts are in my dining room, as our dining room table has become wrapping paper central for a couple weeks. But all this means is that I still have half my list to go! And the worst part is it's all the tough ones. You know the type, the family members who have everything, so your main objective is to just make them laugh or smile wide when they open their gift. I love to make my family and friends laugh! It's almost a gift to me really. :)

Maybe you're feeling like you're in the holiday shopping home stretch too? Or maybe you're one of those people who got something for everyone on their list before December even started? Either way I think I know what could help your predicament: $150 to Modcloth! You can use the gift certificate on those last few loved ones on your list or you can use it on yourself. I won't tell. Our good friends at ModCloth have their beautiful Holiday Gift Guide up and are working with us to bring you this fun little giveaway! You can enter below.

Holiday Home Stretch Wishlist: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12

ModCloth Giveaway

The giveaway is open until next Monday, and the winner will be contacted directly shortly after. Good luck! xoxo. Emma

A Beautiful Mess Giveaway Rules 

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Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!)

Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!You may not know this about me, but I am a champion gingerbread house maker. No really, when I was growing up I won the gingerbread house contest at the library three straight years in a row. Impressed? You probably should be. The ones I can remember were a Hansel and Gretal type cottage with a thatched (shredded wheat) roof, and a two-story English tudor style mansion. I really owe it all to my art teacher mom who taught us all the cool tricks to making unique gingerbread houses. When Emma suggested we make a house for the blog this year, I almost leapt out of my seat. I had Palm Springs on my mind at the time, and it seemed like the perfect style of house to "candify" for this project. Houses like this one are pretty involved, so instead of an exact DIY, I'll share my top tips for making a gingerbread house so you can make your own idea! 

Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!             1. Think outside the box. Listen, any gingerbread house is cute, but to take it to the next level, try to think of an idea that's different from the standard house. Put your house in a tropical location, make a French country cottage, or maybe a Swiss ski chalet for a winter house twist. The more unique the location, the better!

Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!          2. Royal icing is your friend. If you've made a gingerbread house before, you can probably sing your own praises about royal icing. It's great because you can make big batches of it, tint it as needed, and use it in lots of different ways. You can spread it with a spatula for larger areas of color (like I did on the sides of my house), or you can put it into a baggie, cut off the corner tip, and use it as decorative piping or to glue something in place. I used this recipe this year.

Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!         Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!                 3. Cheat! It's not the SAT/ACTs, people. You are free to cheat in any way you can think of when it comes to gingerbread houses. Since I was planning on covering all angles of my house with either graham crackers or icing, I didn't choose gingerbread as the base of the house and used a foam core structure instead. Another cheat is to use hot glue as needed. Even though the royal icing is what's holding almost everything in place, there were a few times I needed a little bit of hot glue to really secure the item. Ain't no shame in my hot glue game. Also, those palm trees weren't going to stand up that tall without a little help. I glued wire structures to the base so I could slide the cookie tubes down onto the wire. The palm tree leaves got some help from a thin wire as well.

Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!           4. First search for the candy versions of items you need (even if they are weird). Spending some time doing an Internet search or scouring your local candy stores before you try and make it yourself can really pay off (and you may be surprised at what you find)! I couldn't believe it when I found a chocolate mold for a prickly pear cactus, but it was exactly what I needed for my landscape. And since it was a mold that I could do myself, I was able to mix my own colors. Who would have thought that existed?!

Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!                5. Think about levels. Adding some levels to your gingerbread landscape can really give your house some depth and make it feel more realistic and interesting. Even though my house is a one story ranch-style house, the towering palm trees add a lot of height to the scene. I even made the base of the house two layers thick with foam core so I could cut out the pool in the top layer. That way it would actually sink into the ground. 

Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!                 6. Don't forget the details! I think gingerbread houses are really made in the details. It's the little things like mixing different colors of cacti and shrubs, adding little stone retainer walls around all the plants, placing an inner tube in the pool, or making two tiny pool loungers with a beach towel on the chair. And I know it's not edible, but isn't that vintage pink bug just to die for?? These are the things that really make the house come to life, so don't get so caught up in the big things that you miss adding some small touches too. 

Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!                  Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!                  In case you're wondering what all the items are, here are a few charts to identify all the materials I used. With the exception of the cactus molds, the pink car, and the bulk order of green sprinkles, all the materials were found locally either at a candy store or just at the grocery store. 

Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!                  Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!                  Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!    Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!    Palm Springs Gingerbread House (OMG!!) Click through for more pics!    This is probably one of my favorite projects that I've done this year. It was just too much fun! I can't wait to start thinking of ideas for next year. What kinds of unique gingerbread house would you like to see? xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Project Assistant: Josh Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella from the Signature Collection.

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