Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial.                 One thing that can really make or break an outdoor space is lighting. Lighting is what really sets the mood as a hot summer night starts to wind down and a cool breeze (hopefully) begins to blow. Our last house had a pergola already built on the property, so it was easy enough to string some globe patio lights around the edge of it and call it a day. But at our Nashville house, well, there is no pergola to speak of. So what’s a mood-lighting-lover to do? Figure out another way of course!

Since we are just starting to work on the outside of our house, I don’t know what kind of deck or pergola we might want to build in the future. So I wanted a solution that would stay as long as I wanted it, but wouldn’t have to be permanent in case our plans changed. I started investigating online and saw that there were a few variations of outdoor lighting that one could rig up using a long pole mounted inside of planters, and I decided that would be the perfect solution for the space. And since you don’t have to install anything permanent for this set up, it’s totally something you could do if you were renting a house as well. Let’s get started!

Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorialSupplies:
-10’ metal pole or pipe (about 1”-1.5” thick)
-3 J-bolts long enough to go through your pipe and 2 corresponding nuts for each bolt
-metal drill bit the size of your J-bolt
-outdoor globe patio string lights
-Christmas light gutter clips
-tall planter
-ladder
-rebar (optional)
-50lb bag of quick dry cement (I used 2)
-dirt and decorative rocks (optional)

First I determined how high I wanted the lights to be off of the pipe, and since 10’ seemed like a good height, I left the pipe the length it came in (you can have them cut it shorter at the store if you need to). Mark your hole locations with a marker and use a metal drill bit to drill three holes (all the way through) spaced about 2” apart at the top of the pole. Put your J-bolt through each hole with a nut on each side of the pipe to keep the bolt in place.

Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial. Place your pole in the middle of your planter and pour the cement into the planter one bag at a time. Use a hose to add water to the planter. Then use a scrap piece of wood or a strong stick to stir the water with. You can follow the amount directions on the package or basically just get the cement to where it’s thoroughly wet but not soupy, and it should turn out just fine. It’s best to have a helper on these steps so you can have one person to stir and mix and one to hold the pole straight as the cement sets. Add another bag of cement as needed. You want to make sure that your pole and planter aren’t going anywhere, so make sure to also take into account how skinny or wide your planter is and how tall it is when deciding how much to fill it (I filled mine about 18” deep with cement). Since the pole isn’t that thick, wind just goes around it, and it feels very sturdy in the base.

Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial.                     Use a level to make sure your pole is standing up straight in the container and allow the cement to dry (make sure your hooks at the top are facing the direction you want as well). You can either fill the planter to the top with cement or leave some room to fill with dirt and a few small plants or some decorative rocks instead.

Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial.  Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial.  Measure the distance from your pole placement to the gutter line at each area you want to attach lights and sketch out a rough estimate of your light strand path. Knowing the distance will let you know what length of light strand you need and allow you to make placement adjustments before you start. Believe me, it’s way easier to do it on paper than when you’re on the ladder! I haven’t found any light strands that will let you go longer than 100 feet without blowing fuses (I learned that the hard way after stringing up too many strands and having to redo the whole thing!), so adjust your design as needed or add in another extension cord to plug in two lights. Anyway, once your plan is mapped out, use a ladder and the gutter light clips to string your lights from the gutters to one of the pole hooks and back again until you have your lights set up!

Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial.
Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial.         You can have an outdoor extension cord plug into your lights at the top of the pole to give you a few more hanging lights, or you can wrap them around and down the pole if you have lights to spare. We have an outdoor electrical box in that corner of the porch from where an old lamppost used to be, but you can also just run your extension cord to your closest outdoor plug instead and watch your porch glow!

Important note!! Make sure to hang the lights without the bulbs first, and then add the bulbs once the lights are secure. This will save you cleaning up lots of broken glass if you accidentally drop light strands onto cement. Twice. Just believe me OK…

Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial.            Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial.            Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial.            Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial.            Create Outdoor Patio Lighting Without a Pergola (Renter Friendly!) Click through for tutorial.            Isn’t it so cozy looking?! As soon as we put the lights up, I knew that’s what this space had been missing all along. I love being able to sit back here now and just take in the hot summer nights and listen to all the crickets and cicadas in the woods behind our house. If you are looking for a short or long-term lighting solution in your backyard, I hope this option works for you as well! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Project Assistant: Collin DuPree

A Color Story 1.1 UpdatePhoto: @elsielarson

We're super excited to announce our A Color Story 1.1 app update!! We've added in a handful of fun features based on feedback and suggestions from you guys! Watching the app grow has been super exciting, as we're already up to over 900,000 installs. So we want to make sure we're keeping it exciting for users with new features for an overall better experience.

A Color Story Fvorites Feature!!Favorites!

So this is a big one, since one piece of feedback we get often is that the sheer quantity of filters available can be overwhelming—especially for users who've bought all the +packs we have available. So we wanted to make it faster to find your go-to filters or effects. Now each filter and effect has a small heart icon that when tapped, will add that filter to the new Favorites folder. There's a folder for filters as well as a folder for effects.

A Color Story Update 1.1 Photo: @whitneyleighmorris

Tools Updates

Highlights + Shadows: We have the option to adjust isolated RGB for highlights and shadows but not total highlights and shadows (outside curves), so we've added those two options.

Better crop + tilt: To help align any cropping and tilting as you're making the adjustment, we've added a live grid that works dynamically with your adjustments as you edit.

EXIF Data on iOS

We had a handful of iOS users request this, so photos saved with the app in iOS now retain original EXIF and geo-location.

A Color Story Update 1.1   Photo: @isntthatcharming

If you haven't gotten a chance, head on over to the App Store or Google Play and get the new update! We've also got a couple new filter +packs in the works that we can't wait to share with you guys. Stay tuned. xoxo. Elsie + the ACS Team

P.S. If you like using the app, please take a minute to review this version of the app. It helps us out so, so much!!

Rosé All Day Jello Shot! (click through for recipe)          With the explosion of all things pink lately (which you won't find me complaining about), rosé has gotten a bit of a second life in the past few years. I mean, it's pink, comes in all sorts of delicious variations... what's not to love? While you can certainly earn your pink points by simply serving it at your next party (pretty glasses get extra points!), why not make it into a jello shot and really take the trend to the next level?

Rosé All Day Jello Shot! (click through for recipe)          Rosé All Day Jello Shots, makes 4 large shots

1 1/4 cups rosé sparkling wine
1/4 cup gin (You can also do a flavored gin like the juniper gin I used.)
1/4 cup club soda
1/4 cup simple syrup*
2 packets of unflavored gelatine
cherries and lemon peel for garnish

*If you are using a relatively sweet rosé, you may want to lessen the more concentrated syrup and add a bit more of the champagne instead to balance out the sweetness.

Rosé All Day Jello Shot! (click through for recipe)          Add the club soda and simple syrup into a small pan and pour the packets of gelatine over the top of the liquid. Allow the gelatine to bloom for two minutes, and then heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring often, until the gelatine is dissolved. Pour into a medium size bowl. 

Rosé All Day Jello Shot! (click through for recipe)          Add your rosé wine and gin and stir to combine. 

Rosé All Day Jello Shot! (click through for recipe)          Pour your mixture into short-stemmed champagne glasses (called coupe glasses), add in your cherry, and allow them to set in the fridge for 3-4 hours. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve!

Rosé All Day Jello Shot! (click through for recipe)          Rosé All Day Jello Shot! (click through for recipe)          Rosé All Day Jello Shot! (click through for recipe)          Aren't they beautiful?? The cool thing is the club soda and wine will add bubbles to your drink and the faster you get them into the fridge to set, the more bubbles will stay once frozen in time and make your shot look like it was just poured from the bottle. I've seen this sort of jello shot served both in pretty glasses or also put into molds and served on a platter instead, so do whatever you like if you don't have this type of glassware on hand. I would suggest putting some small dessert spoons out with the shots if you do the glasses though so they can be eaten right out of the glass. Cheers! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman

Will deleting old posts help or hurt my blog?We're here with another question from our Blogging Q&A series. If you want to see past articles from this series, just check here. Today's question comes from a Blog Life student. She asks:

"I've been blogging for just over a year and getting in to it more all the time, though I want to start giving it more direction because I feel I have been in the experimental phase... So this is a logistical question. Do you delete content from the early days, or as you go along, if you find that with hindsight you're not happy with it? I tried one feature in particular that I don't like now and also my early posts suck! Should I quietly delete them or let them sit there as part of the journey?"

This is an awesome question because truly there is a LOT to consider when it comes to deleting old content from your site. The answer to this will also vary a great deal depending on what kind of site you write and what your big picture goals are. So keep in mind that we are coming at this question from our site's perspective and our own goals for it. Also I'm just going to focus on three big considerations you should take into account when thinking about deleting old content.

1. Usefulness

For us, A Beautiful Mess is a blog that is mostly focused on education. Yes, we will share lifestyle posts, behind the scenes, or what we are wearing in large part because we know our readers enjoy this content, and it helps them connect to us (we're REAL people with faces and lives, I swear!). Ha! But the main goal of ABM is to share tutorials or other information to help fellow makers do just that – make. We love the homemade lifestyle and believe that making things is one way to enjoy the experience of life. I could go on, but that's a different subject for another post. 

My main point is the majority of our posts aim to be useful. They should help you learn to build a piece of DIY furniture, cook a recipe, make a craft project, find the perfect lip color, etc. If your site is similar in that you teach about a certain subject (food, fashion, DIY, home decor, photography, small business, etc.), then your site too is aimed at being useful. SO, when you are evaluating wether you should delete old posts, first ask yourself, "Is this still useful?" That's the first test I would put any post through. If the answer is no, then it may end up on the chopping block (but I've got a couple more things for you to consider first). If the answer is yes, then I would really consider keeping it.

But also, if the answer is yes but you feel you could do a better job writing that post now, then why not go ahead and update the post with new info, photos or whatever will make it more useful, and then re-promote the content on your social channels or put a link to it in your sidebar for a while to let your readers know you've updated the article. You'll want to either keep the original url or if you want to rewrite the post completely (giving it a new url), then redirect the old one to point to the new one. The reason is if you have links out in the Internet universe from other sites or people have pinned that post, etc., then if they show up and the content isn't there anymore, they will immediately bounce away from your site. But if you redirect them to the new content, or if you've kept it in the same place (same url they already had saved or linked), then they will land on your new, updated useful content and hopefully enjoy reading it. 

2. Traffic

Before you go deleting those old posts, you might check in and make sure you understand where your website traffic is coming from. A good place to start (if you haven't installed this already) is Google Analytics. Understanding where your traffic is coming from, where they land on your site, and if they stick around or leave quickly is all very useful to bloggers in LOTS of different ways. But when considering deleting past content, you want to check in on your traffic to make sure you aren't deleting something that a large or significant amount of your traffic is landing on. 

It might help if I illustrate this a little. Let's say that for the past year you've been blogging about fashion. But within the past few months, you just bought your first home and now the only thing you want to blog about is home decor and renovations. You think the old fashion posts on your site really distract from your new mission. So you decide you're going to go through and delete many of them, especially the early ones as you feel your photography wasn't as good as it is now anyway. If you really go through with this plan, it could be that you will see a very large drop in your overall site traffic. Ultimately if this fits your goals and what you truly want to do with your site, then, of course, it is your site so you can do as you like. But I would advise you to keep your old posts that might still be getting traffic and add something to the end of them (go into the old post and update it, keeping the same url) about your new content. For example, in an old post where you talked about color blocking and how it worked in your outfit, you could add some text and maybe one image to the bottom of that post that says something like, "If you love color mixing, be sure to check out what colors I choose to decorate our house in" with a link to your newest blog post about what colors you choose for your home. This is just an example, but the point is you don't want to brick over a door that people are still using – let them come in, but try to direct them to new, more relevant content if needed. 

3. Nostalgia

Yes, you read that correctly, the third thing I am suggesting you consider before deleting old posts is nostalgia. First, if you have old posts that are meaningful to you, but they aren't useful, don't get much traffic, and don't support your blog's overall goals, then you certainly can delete it if you want (it's possible this may also help your site be more searchable, but it also may not make a huge difference as there are lots of factors). But, if you do, be sure to save the content somewhere – like a hard drive or something because it's memorable for YOU and that's still valuable. 

If you have old posts of a personal nature that you just don't want out there online anymore, then, of course, feel free to remove those – just save the content if it's valuable to you in any way so you don't lose photos you might not have saved anywhere else. 

The other thing to consider is if leaving old posts might be somewhat encouraging or instructive to future readers. I actually really like it when bloggers I admire have left their old content up and sometimes even point back to it as a way to say, "We all start somewhere." Because truly we do! Starting is more important than being perfect. You will be a better blogger during year three than you were during year one if you stuck with it because that's what happens – we get better at things. I think sometimes we can really shy away from showing past inexperience because we are afraid people won't think of us well if we don't act like we have everything together and ALWAYS have. But I like seeing fellow bloggers' past content that they maybe aren't as proud of now – I don't think less of them. In fact, I sometimes think even more highly of them because I can see how far they have come and how hard they have worked to get there. So, just something to consider. 

What do you guys think? Does deleting old posts get a thumbs up or a thumbs down from you? Or does it just depend on the type of post? -Emma

P.S. If you're looking to learn more and grow your blog, you might check out our best selling Blog Life eCourse.

Credits // Author : Emma Chapman. Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Design: Mara Dockery

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