Flower Grapevine Wreath

OpeningI love a pretty fall wreath hanging on my front door. The only problem is that in California it's still over 100° outside. So having a wreath on my front door when the weather screams summer feels kind of funny to me. Even still, I didn't let that stop me from creating a wreath for display, but instead of the front door, I hung it in front of one of our mirrors inside our home. It instantly gave that room a more cozy vibe. So while it feels like summer outside, it looks like fall inside. 

I've been into dried flowers lately and initially wanted to make a wreath with dried flowers. Instead, I chose flowers that would dry nicely and made a wreath with mostly fresh flowers (the hydrangeas were slightly dry), and then I allowed them to dry on the wreath. 

OpeningOpeningSupplies:
-18" grapevine wreath
-fresh flowers that would dry nicely (I used one bunch of each of these: hydrangeas, craspedia, seeded eucalyptus, marigolds, caspia, button poms, and pyracantha.)
-floral wire
-wire cutter

OpeningOpeningStep One: Cut the stems of the flowers to about 5" - 7" in length. Decide on the placement of your flowers on the wreath, and insert the flowers that are individually stemmed into the wreath first. The marigolds, craspedia, and caspia inserted into the form of the grapevine wreath nicely. I wanted to clump all the same flowers together instead of mixing them with each other. 

OpeningOpeningStep Two: Continue to add the remaining flowers and wrap the stems to the wreath with a floral wire until your entire wreath is covered. You can also wrap the stems of the flowers that were already inserted to secure them in even more. Tip: to keep the direction of the flowers continuous, have the stems of the flowers all going the same direction as you work your way around, layering the heads of the flowers on the previous flowers' stems.

Also, when working with hydrangeas, you want them be somewhat dry when you put them on the wreath, otherwise the petals will clump together and fall flat. A few days before making the wreath, place the hydrangeas in a vase with fresh water covering half the length of the stems. After a few days, when the water has evaporated, the hydrangeas will be dried, and that is the optimal time to use them in a dried wreath or dried flower arrangement. 

OpeningOpeningDSC_0474 copyThe last photo above is what the wreath looks like dried two weeks later. The marigolds aren't as full, and all the colors have dried to a muted tone with a little hint of brown in it, but it still looks perfectly autumn. Maybe once the weather feels more like fall here, I'll make another one for the front door. -Rubyellen

Credit // Author and Photography: Rubyellen Bratcher. Photos edited with Imogen from the Folk Collection

Roasted Sweet Potatoes + Black Beans

Roasted sweet potato and black beansThere are a couple things you should know about this dinner idea. First, it's WAY easy to make. Like, you really don't even need a recipe (although I'll still go ahead and tell you how I make my version). And the second thing is that I think this is the perfect dinner for October because... the colors! Black and orange—total Halloween colors.

Roasted sweet potato and black beans If you're not way into sweet potatoes, you totally should be. They are absolutely full of flavor, and I hear they are pretty good for you too. And my husband can tell you that I will put black beans on just about anything if you let me. I'm a black bean fanatic. 

Easy healthy dinner ideasRoasted Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans, serves two.

2 sweet potatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (15 oz.) black beans
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
salt + pepper

For garnish I highly recommend shredded cheese, sour cream and green onions.

Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes. Cut in half and then lightly cut the top 1/3 of the each side into cubes. Rub with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375°F for 45+ minutes. My potatoes were on the smaller side so 45 minutes was enough time to cook them through, but if your potatoes are larger, you may need to increase the baking time. Just check them by trying to cut through a thick part with a fork. If you can't easily cut through, keep baking.

Easy healthy dinner ideas Towards the last 10-15 minutes of the potatoes' baking time, get the beans going. Mince the garlic and cook in a small pot over medium heat in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil for a minute or two. Add in the drained beans. Stir in the spices and season with a little salt and pepper. Once those are heated through, you're ready to go.

Roasted sweet potato and black beans  Serve the beans alongside the sweet potatoes. Top with cheese, sour cream and green onion. Dig in! This is total comfort food—enjoy. xo. Emma

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

3 Ways to Decorate Halloween Skulls

3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls       Halloween is almost here! If you've been wanting to do a Halloween-themed craft, but keep putting it off, this is your chance to make some last minute decor before the big day. And, since all the Halloween crafts go on sale as it gets closer to Halloween, why not get more than one and try each of these 3 ways to decorate with skulls. Ready? Go!

3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls
3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls      For the first skull, ( I got mine at Jo-Ann) I decided to look up some sugar skull inspiration and hand-paint some colorful elements onto one of the skulls. You'll first want to paint the eyes, nose, and teeth a solid color and outline them. Then draw simple flowers and vines around the rest of the face with a thin marker (pay attention to where they place the flowers, like on the chin and cheekbones). Use more paint to fill in the flower petal details, and then go over the lines again with a thicker black marker to finish the look. Make sure to choose bright colors!

3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls  3 ideas for cute Halloween skullsFor the second skull, we are going to add glitter! I would suggest spray painting your skull the color of your glitter first (I painted mine gold), so that you don't have to do as thick of a coat of glitter later. It makes it much less noticeable if there is a spot that shows through the bottom. Once you paint your skull, put your skull in a cardboard box and paint a large section with a thick coat of Mod Podge. Very quickly before the Mod Podge dries, sprinkle fine loose glitter onto the glue. Continue until the top half of the skull is covered. Wait until the glue dries, shake off the excess glitter, and touch up any areas as needed. Repeat process on the other side. Once you shake off all excess glitter, you can either leave the skull as is, or spray a clear coat to keep the glitter shedding to a minimum. I find that using spray clear coat over metallic or glitter finishes usually dulls down the shine or sparkle a bit, so I usually skip it so I'll get maximum shine.

3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls
3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls For this last idea, we are going to add a funny prop! Spray your skull either a bold or metallic color and add anything that makes you laugh, like fake glasses, a small hat, or a bushy stick-on mustache. Bonus points if you have signature items that you wear, and you can get the skull to look like you!

3 ideas for cute Halloween skulls   There you go! Now you've got 3 ideas to create last minute decor for your Halloween night. I already plan on keeping the gold skull on the mantel for a while after the holiday is over. That's the perk of being a "skull" person all year round! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman, Project Assistant: Josh Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Let's Make Monster Cocktail Stirrers!

Let's make monster cocktail stirrers!Halloween is coming up soon! If you're anything like me, you had lofty goals of all the zillions of cute Halloween decorations and recipes you were going to try. But alas, who's got time for that? 

Now it's go time! Time for something quick, simple and festive! 

There's still time!!! Let's do this! 

Candy teeth! All you need is creepy crawly gummy candy and wooden skewers (the kind you use for grilling). We got ours from our local candy shop and Amazon! 

Monster skewersPut your candy onto the wood skewers. I liked starting from the top better. That way any sticky areas get covered up! Shape them to look like monsters. Easy. 

Try not to eat all the gummies before you're done (by far the hardest step!). 

Monster skewers   Monster skewers   Use the sticks as cocktail stirrers or enjoy them as is! 

Hope you have a fun, easy-going Halloween. It's the little things. xx. Elsie 

Credits// Author: Elsie Larson, Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions. 

DIY Flapper Costume

Easy DIY Flapper CostumeWay before I had ever read about Jay and Daisy, I was a little girl fascinated by flapper culture. I knew about those 1920s rebel-rousers from Saturday morning movies on TV—the grainy ones where nobody talked and the speed of the film seemed unnaturally fast. Those dark-lipped, gum-chewing gals wore old-fashioned dresses and danced the Charleston at light speed, making their swinging arms and legs impossible for me to mimic. (But that's never stopped me from trying!) It wasn't until I was much older that I learned that the style of the flapper was actually very daring for the time, and their bubble gum chewing and flirting just wasn't done by proper ladies. By the time I read The Great Gatsby in high school, my fascination with the era was complete.

I've always thought it would be fun to dress up as a flapper, but alas, I've never been invited to a 1920s party, and for Halloween, I was too busy being Mary Poppins or film noir characters to try out a flapper costume. But this year I finally did it! I found my inner Clara Bow and freaked out my husband when he thought I had chopped off all my hair. Check out how I did it below!

How to make a flapper headbandFLAPPER HEADBAND When I think of flapper accessories, I think of pearl beads. The more the merrier! You could also use a headscarf or turban for your flapper costume, but I decided on a simple pearl headband. I spent a few dollars on these supplies and assembled this headband in less than an hour.

How to make a flapper headbandSupplies:
-pearl beads (in size of your choice)
-feather clip
-sparkly barrette or brooch
-elastic cord (the thinner the better)
-scissors

How to make a flapper headbandStep One: I cut out two lengths of elastic cord—one about 1" smaller than the circumference of my head, and the other 1/2 the circumference of my head. I knotted off 2/3 of the longer cord and strung the pearl beads onto it. Then I tied the ends together.

Step Two: I strung the smaller cord with more pearl beads and then tied the ends of it to the longer cord from the previous step. You may want to try on the headband to see where you want the pearl strands to be joined. You don't want any slack in either of the strands, or you will have beads falling into your eyes.

How to make a flapper headbandStep Three: I clipped the feather to the end of the longer strand of beads and topped it off with a sparkly crescent barrette. You could also use a brooch, or forego the bling.

How to whip up an authentic flapper Halloween costumeFLAPPER DRESS 1920s dresses had dropped waists and straight silhouettes. Most "good girls" wore their skirts below their knees—but not the flapper! An authentic flapper dress would reveal knees and maybe even a portion of the thigh. I wanted fringe on my dress because that's what I think of when I envision flappers. So I began searching for a simple black dress and bought some fringe to add some flapper flare to it.

Easy Flapper Dress TutorialStep One: Find a black dress suitable for stitching on fringe. I wanted something sleeveless with a scoop neck, because that's what I usually saw in pictures of 1920s fashion, though more important than the neckline is the shape of the dress. Look for something loose fitting (like a shift or drop-waist style) for a period-specific shape. Woven material is better for stitching on the fringe, though I ended up using a knit dress and it worked out just fine. I found my black drop-waist dress on clearance this week at Old Navy for $12.

Step Two: Tweak the dress. I cut off length from this dress so that it covered my tush, but would allow the fringe to move about below the dress hem. Starting at the bottom of the dress, I pinned the fringe around the circumference of the dress, leaving about 2-4" scrap at the end. Why did I leave scrap? Because I was working with a knit dress, I slightly stretched the material as I stitched, which meant I used more fringe than it looked like I would when pinning it.

Note: The dress took me about an hour from beginning to end, and I will warn you— fringe is rather expensive by the yard at Joann, and I used 7 yards! So you may want to buy it for less here on Amazon, use a store coupon, or else just do 2-3 rows of fringe at the bottom of the dress, instead of all over.

Flapper Hair TutorialFLAPPER HAIR & MAKEUP Even if you couldn't find the perfect dress, and your only accessories are pearl beads, you can pull off a flapper style with makeup and a hairdo worthy of a silent movie starlet.

MAKEUP:

-brows: Keep them long, thin and straight. I didn't want to pluck my eyebrows thin, but I used a sharp pencil to draw a long line down the middle.
-eyes: Use very dark eyeshadow and smoky eyeliner above and below your eyes to give them the soft, romantic look of the day.
-cheeks: Skip the bronzer and go for a light, powdery finish on your face with a pinky blush right at the apples of your cheeks.
-lips: Cover your lips with foundation to disguise their natural shape. Use a dark lip pencil to redraw them in a heart shape, focusing on creating a dramatically sharp cupid's bow (the "v" in the middle of your top lip), and a plump bottom lip only in the middle, then thinning their shape at the edges. Fill in the lips with the pencil then cover with lipstick and set with powder.

HAIR:

When considering what flapper 'do to go for, just remember—there are more options than you might think! Louise Brooks, the quintessential flapper, had a sleek, straight bob with short blunt bangs, while other flappers had chin-length frizzy curls, or finger waves set close to the face, or even long hair pinned around the base of the neck to simulate a bob style. If you need easy tips for creating a period-accurate style, I'd say stick to chin length hair, deep parts, and for straight hair styles, a dramatic curl at each cheekbone.

My hair is fairly long, but I created a faux bob inspired by Clara Bow. Check out how I did it below.

Flapper Hair TutorialStep One: Pull up the top half of your hair into a clip, and braid the bottom half.

Step Two: Wrap the braid in a circle at the base of your head, pinning it into place.

Step Three: Use thin curlers (or good ol' Hot Sticks) on the top of your hair to create frizzy curls à la Clara Bow.

Flapper Hair TutorialStep Four: Curl your bangs (I made waves with a curling iron), put on your headband, and take the curlers out.

Step Five: Spray your hair generously with hair spray and fluff it up with a brush. Spray again.

Step Six: Pin the length of your hair in small sections into the braid bun at the base of your neck. Set with more hair spray.

Tips: To make the style last longer, use mousse or a setting cream before curling your hair. You may want to bring some bobby pins with you in case your style begins coming loose, as mine did in the wind.

Easy DIY Flapper CostumeI finished off my flapper look with black fishnet tights from Target, simple black pumps I already owned, and from the costume store, a long strand of pearl beads and white gloves.

Easy DIY Flapper CostumeSince Halloween is often pretty chilly here in the Midwest, I thought I'd wear this vintage faux fur coat I had bought a few years ago. I think it fits with the look, don't you? It couldn't be warmer!

Easy DIY Flapper CostumeIf I had lived during prohibition, I'm quite certain I would have been a goody-two-shoes, and definitely not a flapper. But for one evening out of the year? It's a character I can really get into. Now where's my bottle of moonshine? -Mandi

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

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