7Nothing makes me want to print out my summer vacation photos like some palm leaf scrapbook paper and acrylic pineapple cutouts! This month's Messy Box has a tropical, retro vibe with vintage colors and so many great patterns to mix and match. Since we just got back from our Florida vacation, this was the perfect set of papers and embellishments to make a few pages. 

6I could use this palm leaf print on any room in my house and be a happy girl. Kind of wishing it came in rolls! I used a single photo to show off the pattern but may add journaling to the back of the photo so I don't forget the details of when we took this one. 

53The specialty stamp set included only in this month's kit is so fun and versatile. I used the 'sweet summer' stamp in Elsie's handwriting on a photo above and did a repeat pattern using the pineapple stamp and yellow ink included in my kit to make my own patterned paper below. 


Scrapbook Sunday-June Messy BoxThere are so many good color pairings in this kit which makes it a great month to use up your favorites and then still have plenty to pair together with the rest of your summer photos. I also can't wait to see how everyone uses their acrylic pineapples. They are so adorable! 

Have you started printing any of your summer vacation photos yet or are you anxiously waiting for it to get here already? -Rachel

Credits//Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Vegan tempura sushi (via abeautifulmess.com)I really struggled with what to call this. It's SO good that I didn't want to scare anyone off with the name, but I also wanted to describe it as accurately as I could because you can't taste things through a computer screen. 

Here were the other contenders:
vegan crunchy rolls
plant-based tempura rolls
fried plantain sushi
yes-this-is-weird-but-please-give-it-a-try sushi

I know. I should have gone with that last one. What was I thinking?! 

So, the truth is I'm not a big sushi lover. Trey (my husband, in case you're new around here) is though, so we end up eating it fairly often, as I certainly don't MIND eating sushi or just getting to eat out now and again. But then I had this AMAZING shrimp tempura roll while we were in Big Sur. Now I know what you're thinking, "Man, she must really not like sushi if she thinks a shrimp tempura roll can be anything but bland and mildly crunchy." I know, it's a boring thing to order. BUT, this one was amazing. Chef Yancy Knapp truly inspired me. You could tell he was so passionate about what he does (making the best sushi ever). And although I have no idea what he put in that shrimp tempura roll I had, there was one ingredient I tasted and immediately loved: granny smith apple. 

Whoa! Why had I never thought to use granny smith apples in place of cucumbers in a sushi roll before? I don't really make sushi often at home. In fact, this is the first time I've been inspired to do so for quite a few years. But man, my mind was blown. Don't get me wrong, I love cucumbers in lots of things. They are crunchy and refreshing. But a slightly tart and crunchy apple slice in a sushi roll just worked so well, or at least that's my (apparently strong) opinion. 

Vegan tempura sushi (via abeautifulmess.com) Vegan shrimp tempuraI eat shrimp now and again, but most of the time I stick to a vegetarian diet. I just feel better when I'm eating mostly plants. So, I was curious to replace the shrimp with something else that might add a little flavor as well as some crunch from the tempura treatment. I've been playing around with plantains in some other recipes I've been working on, and sometime last week it dawned on me: why not use plantains as the base for the "shrimp" tempura? Hmm. 

Now you might be thinking, "Plantains?! You mean those big bruised looking bananas?" Yes, yes I do. Plantains are actually a really cool ingredient I've fallen for recently. They are less sweet and quite a bit more starchy than their cousins, bananas. They hold up well in cooking and deliver just a subtle amount of flavor. 

So, I gave it a try. The result: my new favorite at-home sushi rolls. I mean, whoa, if you like sushi, you've got to make these. They are simple but absolutely packed with flavor. Plus we're gonna make a savory, creamy black sesame sauce to go with them. Let's do this. 

Rice rice babyVegan "Shrimp" Tempura Rolls, makes 5-6 rolls (enough for 2 to 3 as a meal)

1 cup (uncooked) sushi rice
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1 large plantain, mine was 9.5 oz before peeling
1/3 cup panko flakes
enough oil to fry in (so it's 1/2 inch or a little more deep in your pot)
1 granny smith apple (the green sour ones)
1 avocado
5-6 soy sushi wraps or nori sheets

For the sauce:
1/4 cup Vegenaise (or mayo if you don't care about keeping this 100% vegan)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 teaspoon brown sugar or maple syrup

I basically think of this as a meal you make in four steps:
1. Make the rice.
2. Make the tempura.
3. Make the sauce.
4. Put together the sushi rolls.

You can technically do the first two steps at roughly the same time once you get the rice going. But let's talk about each of these a little more. 

Plantain tempuraTo make the rice, just follow the package directions. Generally this involves rinsing the rice, adding it to a pot with the water, bringing to a boil, then reducing the heat to simmer for 18-20 minutes. Once the rice is cooked through, remove to a large bowl and stir in the apple cider vinegar. 

While the rice is cooking, peel and cut the plantain into small strips. I cut my plantain into 16 strips by first cutting it in half widthwise, and then cutting eight pieces lengthwise. Check the photo above, as I think it helps to illustrate the process. Then sprinkle these with a little salt and pepper, coat in panko, and fry for 30-45 seconds until a deep golden color. Then remove to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil. 

Fried plantainsTo make the sauce, simply add all the sauce ingredients to a small food processor and blend for 30-45 seconds. 

To assemble the rolls, lay out a soy sheet, add rice and press into place. Then add plantain tempura, thinly sliced apple, and thinly sliced avocado to the center, lengthwise. Roll up and gently press so it holds together. A sushi mat works well here. Then slice into bite size pieces. I'm not a sushi rolling expert at all, but I felt that after my first one, I sort of had the hang of it, at least enough for me to enjoy it. I don't think I'll be hired as a sushi chef anytime soon though. :) One thing that helped is I would lightly oil my (clean) hands and work with the rice mostly by hand. I thought this worked better than using a spoon or wooden spatula to spread the rice. But, that's just me. 

Serve alongside the sauce... and maybe some sake too. ;)

Vegan tempura sushi (via abeautifulmess.com)  You guys gotta make this some weekend. It's certainly more labor intensive than my usual dinner routine, but such a fun and delicious meal to prepare if you have a little more time. Also, if you'd like to add a little more nutrition to this, try swapping out the sushi rice for brown rice. Dana did this in a post here, and I thought it was pure genius. :) xx. Emma

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

Casual FridayHey, guys!! Welcome to the randomness that is Casual Friday

This week we've been working on the final photos for our cookbook, which will be out next spring. This coming month is our BIG deadline, and we're excited to be almost finished working on something we are so excited about and so proud of.

Here are a few snapshots from our week! 

Casual Friday  Casual Friday  Messes all around. 

Casual Friday    We've photographed almost all our food in my sunroom.

Casual Friday      Casual Friday      Trying to talk her into a selfie... 

Casual Friday         My babies. 

Casual Friday          Casual Friday          Casual Friday          We had so much fun yesterday making necklaces and having coffee with cute sisters Kelly and Kacey. We chatted about our mutual loves for Lisa Frank and home decor and heard some sneak peeks of Kacey's upcoming holiday album. (Which is bananas – you are going to LOVE it!!) And as you can see, our dogs are obsessed with new friends! 

Hope you guys had a great week! xx- Elsie 

Bedtime routine organizer Getting five people groomed and out the door on time is no simple task whether you've got one tiny shared bathroom (our last rental) or three bathrooms on two floors (our current rental). It can be just as frustrating in the evenings when the kids can't remember which bathroom they left their favorite hairbrush in or why their toothpaste is missing AGAIN. I decided to take advantage of one of my favorite small space organization solutions and create some vertical storage in one of our central bathrooms to see if we could streamline our morning and evening routines and save everyone's sanity in the process. 

We're thrilled to be partnering with IKEA, one of our favorite affordable home goods stores, for this small space solution! They have so many well-designed home organization items for each room in your house, but sometimes the best solutions can come from unexpected places. As I was flipping through their website, I came across the SATSUMAS plant stand in the outdoor department and noticed the size and amount of pots included were perfect for storing each family member's personal hygiene essentials. Here are all the items I used to create this renter-friendly vertical storage solution: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Bedtime routine organizer     Not only did this unexpected storage solution show its usefulness in helping us keep all of our stuff in one visible location, it's also helped keep the bathroom countertops clutter free. An added bonus is it keeps everyone's stuff out of reach from our curious two-year-old who likes to test out all of the toothbrushes. True story. Thankfully, I'm pretty quick. 

I arranged the pots according to height so that each child could easily reach their own items and be responsible for replacing them when they were done. They love that they each have their own special space for storing their stuff, and I love that they are more likely to not wander off with their toothbrushes and leave them on a random bookshelf in another part of the house. 

To make this storage solution as pretty as it was practical, I added color-coordinating FRÄJEN hand towels and colored SVARTSJÖN tumblers for rinsing. There's still plenty of space in each one to add their own combs or anything else that is used more than once a day. 

Bedtime routine organizerBedtime routine organizer        Bedtime routine organizer    Bedtime routine organizer  Another fun way to personalize each pot would be to hand-letter each family member's name on the outside of their pot or add an oversized vinyl alpha sticker with the first letter of each person's name. You could even spray paint each pot if you're looking for something even more colorful!

Bedtime routine organizer     I love looking for the potential in anything we bring into our small space because it almost always ends up needing to do more than one job in its lifetime as our needs change. This beautiful plant stand may eventually hold plants, but until then, it's going to make our mornings and evenings a lot more peaceful! -Rachel

Credits//Author: Rachel Denbow. Photography: Janae Hardy and Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.


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