Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)         Here in the USA, the 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. I'm a total summer girl at heart, so I always love a good outdoor hangout regardless, but my family used to live next to the main park of our township so we could actually see all the firework festivities from our front yard. I love seeing all the fun red, white and blue foods and treats that people come up with for their celebrations, but when I saw that you can make cupcakes look like snow cones, I knew I had found the winner for this year's celebration. It's not much more work than making regular cupcakes, so with just a few decorative tweaks, you can have the cutest treats on the block!

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Supplies:
-box cake mix
-colored and white sugar crystals
-white sugar

-white icing 
-food coloring
-paper cupcake liners
-small spoons or straws to decorate with

Mix your box cake with the ingredients listed on the package. Fill each paper liner with cupcake batter until it's a little over 1/2 full (make sure you buy paper liners that are for baking though, some are lined with a wax lining that can't go in the oven). Place the liners on a baking sheet and bake until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before icing.

Also, if you can't get a hold of paper baking cups you like, you can also bake them in regular cupcake liners and then place them into short styrofoam cups to hide the liners.

Have to make these! Snow Cone Cupcakes (click for tutorial)Take your white icing and divide it into the number of icing colors you want. Use the food coloring to create your desired hues.

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       For the solid colored snow cones, ice the cupcakes until it just touches the paper rim of the cup.

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Mix together some plain white sugar, white crystals, and the colored crystals that match your icing color. Place your iced cupcake on a large plate and pour your crystal mix over the top and sides of the cupcake until it's covered. Use your fingers and palm to gently push the crystals into the icing so more of them will stick, and gently shake off any excess.

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       For a multi-colored snow cone, ice a mohawk of icing down the middle of your cupcake, shake that color of crystal on top, and press the crystals down gently.

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Ice the side of your cupcake the second color, and repeat the process. I found it easiest to hold the iced cupcake over the plate at an angle and then pour the second color of crystals onto the icing getting as close as I could to the cupcake so I could control where the crystals fell. Repeat again with the third color and you're done!

To make it a little easier if you aren't as confident in your icing skills, just frost the whole cupcake white and sprinkle on each sugar color with a small spoon to get the multi-color effect. I think it looks best with the colored icing underneath, but it would still be pretty darn cute either way...

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Complete your look with tiny spoons or cut paper straws into shorter pieces and stick those in each one to add a bit of fun. Aren't they just the best?? I love novelty food ideas that only take a little bit more effort to make a much bigger impact than the regular version.

Of course, this can be done at any summer gathering if you tweak the color selection a bit, so don't feel like this is only a 4th of July treat. Hope these make an appearance at one of your summer parties! xo. Laura

Credits// Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

How to light paint with sparklersLight painting is a beautiful phrase, isn't it? Light painting happens when your camera records the movement of light. In this post I'm going to show you how to paint with light using sparklers!

Spelling words with sparklers tutorialI'm sure you've seen the photos with sparklers lighting up a picture with text or shapes. Today I'll share with you some quick tips on how to achieve this look with your camera. 

 What you will need:
-a DSLR camera
-a tripod or something to set your camera on
-sparklers!
 
Wait until dusk to get the best results with your sparklers.
 
How to spell words with sparklersThe light is really low right after golden hour, but you should  have a tiny bit left to light up your scene. The light from your sparklers will not be as strong because it is not pitch black, but that's OK. If you are trying this out for the first time, I would hold off photographing in pitch black until you can really master light painting with your camera.
 
Light painting with sparklers   Some photographers like the ambient light from magic hour and others don't. It's totally up to you! If you do decide to shoot in the dark, bring a flashlight and buddy to hold it for you. Set your camera on a sturdy tripod or sturdy spot (pile of books, table, etc.).
 
Why use a tripod?
When you have to keep your shutter open for a long period of time, you will get camera shake, which means that your picture/scene will be blurry. You want to make sure that your scene is as sharp as possible.
 
In-camera technical tips:
To ensure you get a sharp image, take your f-stop to a higher number (more depth of field). That way more of your scene will be in focus. Turn your ISO down to 100 (this will reduce grain/noise in your photo).
 
Light painting with sparklers
Focus tips for photographing in the dark:
If you are photographing a really dark scene, your camera will have a tough time finding your subject. To focus your scene, have your subject light themselves with a flashlight, turn your lens to manual focus, and focus your scene until it appears sharp in your viewfinder.
 
Another way to do it is to set your lens to auto focus (AF) and have your camera focus on the lit subject. Once the scene looks sharp, switch your lens back to manual (M) mode. This will freeze the focus! 
 
It is really important that your subject doesn't move once you have locked in your focus. When your subject is ready, have them move the sparkler. If you have a ten second shutter speed, tell your subject when to start and how long they will have to move the sparkler around. A faster sparkler movement will create more fluid lines, a slower sparkler movement will have more choppy lines.
 
 Light painting with sparklers
It's all about the shutter speed.
 
Why use a long shutter speed?
A longer shutter speed means that your camera shutter (the part of your camera that opens to let in the light...think of it as a door) will be open for a long period of time. While your shutter is open, it will record everything that happens in that time frame. This is where the term "light painting" comes into play. Light painting is just a fancy way to describe the light's movement. When you are writing, cursive looks best because your camera will pick up all of the light's movement.  Shapes are really fun and easy too!
  
Pro tip: If you want to spell a word with sparklers, you'll need to spell it backwards or have your back face the camera. 
 
Light painting with sparklers
Quick tip: Use this same technique with fireworks. The effect is very cool. With your camera and a slow shutter speed, you can capture the firework's path while ascending up into the sky! -Janae
 
P.S. Did some of the technical terms in this post leave you feeling lost? Check out our DSLR Basics e-Course which is designed to help you understand all the necessary basics (and beyond!) of using your DSLR camera! 
 
Credits//Author and Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

My favorite peach pieHappy Wednesday! Here's a look back at our favorite posts from June. Let's start with food!

Spicy tempeh taco salad5 veggie-based breakfast smoothiesBeet-dyed deviled eggsEasy (and healthy) 3 ingredient ice creamWe shared some delicious recipes including Emma's favorite peach pie, baked rosemary parmesan chickpeas, spicy tempeh taco salad, pineapple coconut daiquiri (in a pineapple cup!), veggie-based breakfast smoothiesbeet-dyed deviled eggs, easy (and healthy) 3 ingredient ice cream, rose-flavored rock candy, and more!

Elsie's Nashville home tour video (before)We're opening a bar!Elsie bought a house in Nashville (you can read about her moving plans here) and shared her Nashville video home tour (before). Another exciting announcement this month—we are opening a bar!

Style Muse Mad MenStyle Muse Life AquaticWe started a new series called Style Muse. Super fun! Laura showed us her Mad Men look and Elsie chose The Life Aquatic for hers. Have any future requests?

At Home with Janae HardyWe love featuring our readers' homes every week! This space was amazing. And you can see all our wonderful At Home With features here

DIY stained glass soapFaux stained glass bottles5 temporary cake stand ideasVintage-inspired toySo many fun craft projects! We showed you how to make stained glass soap, colorblocked clay coasters, faux stained glass bottlestemporary cake stands, needle felting on a photo, a vintage-inspired wooden toy, magnetic ironing mat, and more!

How to choose a color story for your home10 tips to add personality to a rentalCustomize stairs with removable wallpaperDecorating tips were on our mind last month. Elsie wrote a really helpful post about choosing a color story for your home. We also showed you ways to add personality to a rental, and an easy way to customize your stairs with removable wallpaper!

Fashion Mixology via abeautifulmess.com

My homemade denim dressLast but not least, we brought back our Fashion Mixology series and created 8 outfits from 8 pieces, and Emma made the cutest denim dress (without a pattern!).

Here's to July! xo. - The ABM Team

Brunch me!Hey, there. Here's another Sister Style we snapped while visiting Nashville recently. The very first time I (Emma) ever visited the city, I was meeting up with Trey, who wasn't quite my boyfriend yet but there were some sparks to say the least. Anyway, one place he took me was Marché. Trey isn't even much of a brunch person, but when I visited, he had made a giant list of places to take me to eat and shop. He was trying to romance me I think. And, well, it obviously worked since we just celebrated our second anniversary this past month. :)

Anyway, it was nice to visit that spot again as I (sadly) haven't had the chance to go back since. The food is delicious, but I think it's an extra special spot for me because, you know, #feelings.

Brunch me! Brunch me! Elsie's wearing: T-shirt Dress/SheIn, Hoodie/Forever21, Sunnies/Karen Walker (in black here), Bag/J.Crew, Shoes/Steve Madden

Brunch me!   Brunch me!   Brunch me!   Emma's wearing: Dress/ASOS, Shoes c/o Seychelles, Purse c/o ChicWish, and Glasses are A Beautiful Mess for BonLook (Jack & Norma)

Brunch me!      We had so much fun traveling with our friend and co-worker, Jacki. It was her first time to visit Nashville. We enjoyed showing her a few of our longtime favorite spots (like Marché) as well as trying out a ton of new places where none of us had ever been. 

Brunch me!       Brunch me!       Brunch at Marché is pretty amazing. Gotta get that tartine if you go. xx. E + E 

Credits// Author: Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, Photography: Jacki Moseley and Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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