Elsie Larson Hey, there! I'm not going to lie—I've been sitting here for 20 minutes starting and deleting opening lines. Haha! Blogging is weird like that. Some days you can just shoot the breeze and talk about the first thing that comes to your mind, and other days there's the overthinking. 

I'm trying not to overthink so much anymore. 

There are so many different ways you can blog. And, truly, I think there is no right or wrong. This past week I was catching up on some of my favorite blogs (a long list), and I noticed that there are so many extremes these days. The extremely styled blogs where you never see a photo that's not taken on a paper backdrop. Studios, big teams, fashion bloggers who fly to Paris to take outfit photos for a week's worth of content. It's mesmerizing to me! And I mean that sincerely. Each year I am continually blown away by how much blogging grows as an industry. Just when I think it's hit a peak... never! 

And on the flip side, I still read blogs where it's one random cell phone photo and a ramble-style update about somebody's week. Kind of a rare bird these days, but I still follow a few blogs like that, and it almost feels like a time capsule to me since that's how my own blog started all those years ago. And I see a special-something there that's sometimes missing in the blog world. I guess it's a lack of polish or a lack of filter. 

In my own brain, I am always trying to find a balance between both because I really see the beauty of both approaches. And if I had to classify our level of production, I think it definitely does fall safely in the middle. And, now that I think of it, I feel pretty OK with that! 

Emma, I'm curious to hear how you think food blogs have changed since you started reading (what, like, 8-10 years ago??). 

Elsie LarsonElsie Larson Elsie Larson Elsie Larson Elsie's Wearing: Plaid Top/Similar, Tie Waist Skirt/ASOS, Necklace/Madewell, Clogs/Swedish Hasbeens

Shift dress and flat sandals Glitter purse and shirt dressOmbre hairI've always read lots of different kinds of blogs, but I must admit that food blogs have probably always been my favorite. Not that you have to pick a favorite! I just think they are the ones I started using the most out of the gate, as I've always been interested in cooking. And I love to read blogs to catch up on what so and so is doing, but for me, I tend to gravitate toward things that I find useful, like an online resource. And I think in that way blogs haven't changed all that much. There's still tons of talented people sharing information or inspiration from their kitchen, their home, the crafting tables, their outfits, and their lives. And I love it, just as I always have. 

But back when I first started reading blogs, there wasn't Instagram, IG stories, or snapchat. And I love that these are available now! I love sharing random things and "behind the scenes" type stuff. Like just last week I shared two pie recipe attempts (it's still not there—but I'm still testing) on my IG stories and that was fun but not something I would have taken the time to photograph for our site, because again, it's not really useful. So, yeah, LOVE all the options we have available. Although I must admit, most days I forget to share anything. Ha!

Glitter purse and shoes Shirt dressEmma's Wearing: Dress, shoes/ASOS (similar here, here, and  here.), and Purse/ASOS (similar here.) (Can you tell I love ASOS?), and Necklace/F21

What do you all think? Have the blogs you loved changed over the years? Do you love following along online and via social media? Do you love sharing or are you are lurker? :) xo. Emma + Elsie

Credits // Author: Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy and Amber Ulmer. 

Bath Bomb
A sure way to impress your friends and family is by making them a homemade bath bomb. Seriously! I got so many oohs and ahhs after making this DIY at home and absolutely loved giving them away. My mom and mother-in-law didn't hate it either. Interesting fact, for those of you that don't know... I majored in chemistry for an entire semester... ;) So I kinda didn't hate feeling like a scientist putting together this recipe. Major throwback! 

In all seriousness, this is a really fun project to do during the weekend, or if you're really wild... on a week night! ;) There are so many beautiful combinations you can make with the colors, and they make beautiful gifts... or just a prize for yourself at the end of a long week. Hello, me time! 

I also recommend checking out Emma's bath bomb video. This gives you a great visual of the entire process! For this DIY, we have some slight variations and play with pigment/color, but I definitely suggest watching before starting the project. 

Ready?? Let's do this!

Bath BombSupplies:
-4oz. baking soda
-2oz. corn starch
-2oz. citric acid
-2oz. epsom salt (I used one that already had some essential oils in it, and it smelled divine!)
-1 1/2 teaspoons water
-essential oils (In addition to the epsom salt, I also used wild orange essential oil.)
-1 1/4 teaspoons coconut oil 
-food coloring
-gold lustre dust
-plastic ball ornament (to use as the mold)

I first want to note that I used the above amounts for each color I created. I made four colors for my bath bombs, so you'll want to make sure you have quadruple (or more!) of your ingredients depending on how many colors you make for your bath bombs. If following this recipe and doing four colors, you'll be able to make 6-8 bath bombs. 

Step One: Carefully measure and combine all dry ingredients into one bowl. Baking soda, corn starch, citric acid and epsom salt. Mix together and set aside. Do make sure your measurements are pretty exact. I used a scale to measure everything out, and it made things much easier! 

Bath Bomb               Step Two: In a separate bowl, combine your wet ingredients. Water, essential oils, coconut oil and food coloring. For the essential oils on top of the already scented epsom salt, I added about 10 drops of wild orange to each batch I made for each color. For the food coloring, I kinda eyeballed it until I got the desired color. I wanted these to be more of a jewel tone and make my bath water super colorful, so I added a lot more than I usually would. I suggest starting with 10 drops and going from there if you are looking for a more vibrant bath bomb. Mix all your wet ingredients together and set aside.

Bath Bomb              Step Three: Now for the fun part. Again, if you haven't watched Emma's video, check it out... it really helps clear up this step. Little by little you are going to add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. As you add in the wet ingredients, your mixture might start fizzing. We want as little fizz as possible, so be sure to add in your ingredients drops at a time and stir. Towards the end of adding your wet ingredients, I suggest using your hand to really mix everything together and make sure the consistency isn't too dry. If it's too dry, you'll have issues with your bath bomb potentially crumbling or breaking. An easy fix is to add in just a sprinkle of water until it holds together when squeezed. Set aside your mixture and repeat steps 1-3 per color you wish to add to your bath bomb. For this recipe, I did four colors. 

Bath Bomb             Step Four: Once all of your colors/mixtures are complete, it's time to add everything to your mold. I sprinkled a pinch of gold lustre dust to the bottom of my mold before adding in the mixture to give it a little shimmer and sparkle. Just make sure your lustre dust is food grade. Mine was originally meant for cake decorating and worked beautifully. After the dust, start to layer in your colors. I used a spoon to add in the mixture and pack everything in. I suggest using your fingers to make sure everything is packed in too. Slightly overfill each side before putting them together and closing the mold. 

Bath Bomb            Bath Bomb           Bath Bomb          Step Five: I let some of my bath bombs stay in their molds overnight and noticed that after they dried and expanded a little, they cracked the plastic mold. So I would suggest very carefully taking off one side of your mold after it dries for a few minutes. Finally, let your bath bombs sit overnight. Again, carefully remove the remainder of the mold the next day. If your bath bomb falls apart, you can put it back into a mixing bowl and add a little more water to try again. ;) 

Step Six: Wrap in colorful tin foil or store in a glass jar to keep it safe for giving or using in your own bath. Enjoy!

Please note, since we used a lot of coloring in these, I suggest doing a quick rinse out after taking your bath to prevent any staining.

Bath Bomb     Bath Bomb   Bath Bomb Bath Bomb  Bath Bomb       Have fun mixing colors and making your own rainbow bath bombs! Lots of love, Sav.

Credits//Author & Photography: Savannah Wallace. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions

Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess (photo by ©AlyssaRosenheck)Oh hey, guys! I'm excited to open up a big debate here today! So I just listened to the new episode of Young House Love Has A Podcast (one of my favorite podcasts, by the way) where I was a guest, and my mind is BLOWN. Let me explain...

When they asked me to be on the podcast, I was very excited, and when I heard that the interview I was giving was about white walls, I kind of shrugged. White walls ain't no thing to me. I paint all my walls white. It's my go-to. 

But when I listened to the full episode, I learned that 1. Some people think white walls look good in photo but not in real life (shocked), and 2. A lot of people paint walls white and then see them as unfinished, cold or boring. (whut?) 

Argh! This was a crazy discovery to me because I am exactly the opposite. The few colored walls I've tried out in my house never last long, and I end up painting everything white because it FEELS right to me. And colored walls (or even grey or black, etc...) are more photogenic, but I often feel like I like them better in the photo than in person. 

Now, I haven't always loved white walls. I remember the days of apartment dwelling (ever lived in a beige palace, anyone?) where living with someone else's paint color choices felt like the death of me. And this one time I had an apartment where they let me paint two statement walls, and I chose crazy bold turquoise and crazy bold orange and was so thrilled. Then in Jeremy's and my first space together, we painted and painted and painted... never white. 

But then four years ago, when we moved to our 1890s house, we went almost all white and never looked back. 

You can listen to the podcast episode here:


A Beautiful Mess (photo by ©AlyssaRosenheck) Here's our white bedroom with blush ceiling. 

A Beautiful Mess (photo by ©AlyssaRosenheck)And maybe the ultimate sin? Our natural stone fireplace that we painted white. 

So, I love a good debate! Here's my side. 

I love color. All kinds of color. But when it comes to my home, I find it very cohesive to stick with a simple color scheme anchored in white, with mostly white walls. I love the way it feels in person. I do think it's photogenic because it's so reflective and soft, but I personally think colored walls (or patterned walls) are MUCH more photogenic because they have a stronger catchiness factor. Like if I were decorating a room for a magazine photoshoot, I'd pick colored walls, but if I were decorating a room to live in, I'd probably stick with white. 

I love how white walls feel. And more than anything, I love a room that's light and airy with textures as the statement. 

I'm curious if in ten years I'll read this laughing from my colorful-wall house. Probably. I see trends coming and going ALL the time. I love trends, but I also tend to be someone who will drop it when I feel it's "played out" and never touch it again. I feel nowhere near that phase with white walls. If I moved again next week (definitely, definitely an imaginary scenario, you guys), I would buy more white paint. 

OK, I've rambled long enough! And I'm sorry if I am annoyingly passionate about my love for white walls. I loved hearing what John and Sherry and Katie had to say about white paint on the podcast. 

I want to hear what YOU think! Do you like white walls? Do you feel the trend is dying? Does it feel better to you in person or in photos? Would you, or have you painted white walls in your own home? xx -Elsie 

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Alyssa Rosenheck.

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsPillows are such an easy way to change up your living space with the change of seasons, but this fall I practically needed a matchmaking service to connect me with a pillow to have and to hold. There was a lot I wanted in just a little pillow! I wanted a graphic style but with a chill, bohemian vibe; natural fabric, but comfortable to the touch; and a perfectly autumn color scheme that wouldn't feel out of place during the rest of the year. I could've gone with the standard plaid pillow from a Target end cap, or I could actually create my own pillow that felt more like a kindred spirit than a decorative accessory. Obviously I chose the latter!

This project is also a great craft for those wanting to give quilting a try. You'll use some basic quilting methods, without the daunting commitment of completing a large blanket. This pillow is very simple to make, but I broke it down into detailed steps so you can feel confident making it without me standing beside you to hold your hand (although I would if I could). Check it out!

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsSupplies:
-1/2 yard and 1/4 yard of coordinating linen fabric (I purchased mine from this fine linen Etsy shop.)
-100% cotton quilt batting (1' x 12' piece)
-small piece of laundered cotton muslin (1' x 12' piece)
-coordinating thread
-coordinating embroidery floss (5 bunches)
-pillow batting
-quilt basting spray (Optional: You may use safety pins instead.)

-sewing machine
-rotary blade
-steel ruler (a cork-backed ruler is preferable to prevent sliding)
-cutting mat
-sharp fabric scissors
-straight pins (sharp quilting pins are preferable)
-darning needle
-free motion sewing machine foot

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsStep One: Cut your laundered fabric into nine 4" x 8.5" rectangles—five rectangles in the dominant color and four in the coordinating color. Using a rotary blade, steel ruler, and cutting mat will ensure precise, uniform rectangles, making the assembly process much neater.

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsStep Two: Pin together the rectangles, one row at a time, making sure the good sides (if your fabric has better sides) are facing each other. Then machine stitch the ends together, creating a 1/4" hem. Make sure you make each hem exactly the same distance from the edge of your material to ensure the rectangles match up when the entire piece is assembled.

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsStep Three: Iron open the seams before pinning and machine stitching together each row to complete the quilt top. Make sure all seams have been ironed open on the backside once the quilt top is complete.

Step Four: Stack the three layers of your quilt (the top, the batting, and the muslin) like a sandwich, with the good sides of the facing out and the batting in the middle. Join together the layers by spraying with quilt basting, or join them with safety pins across the entire surface of the top quilt (like step ten in this Animal Play Mat project). I prefer spray basting the layers because I can make sure the fabric is perfectly smooth and connected all across the surface, making the layers less likely to shift and pucker while machine stitching.

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsStep Five: Trim away excess batting and material, using the quilt top as your guide. Then use a water soluble pen or pencil to draw any lines where you would like to do top stitching. I did top stitching in the ditches (the lines where each contrasting rectangle is connected), and I also stitched four additional lines as shown above right.

Step Six: Use your sewing machine to do the top stitching on quilt. You may want to use a spring-loaded free-motion sewing machine foot, which will help you accomplish two things that may be important to you: 1. When you drop down the feed dogs of your sewing machine (the textured grips that feed material under the sewing machine foot) in combination with using a spring-loaded sewing machine foot, your layered fabric will not bunch up and pucker as you sew. 2. A free-motion sewing machine foot will allow you to feed the fabric into the needle from any direction, so you can easily stitch swirls, circles, or trace over any design that you drew in step five.

The downside of using a free-motion sewing machine foot with the dropped feed dogs is that it's difficult to both control the speed of your sewing as you manually feed the material into the needle. It also can be tricky to keep straight lines compared to using the pressure applied by a standard foot and the feed dogs. If you haven't used this free-motion method before, I definitely recommend practicing on scrap material before top-stitching on your quilt.

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsStep Seven: Cut a piece of your dominant color material to the same size of your quilt. Then stack this piece and the quilt with the good sides facing each other. Pin them together and machine stitch 1/4" from the edges. Be sure to leave about a 4" wide opening so you can reach your hand inside to stuff the pillow.

Step Eight: Flip your pillow case right-side out and wash and tumble dry it to create a textured top. The 100% cotton batting will slightly shrink in the dryer, creating crinkled texture, which I happen to love and definitely wanted for my comfy bohemian pillow. But if you aren't a fan of the textured crinkle of a worn quilt, simply skip the washing process and move on to the next step.

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsStep Nine: Stuff your pillow with batting and use coordinating thread to stitch close the opening.

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsAt this point you have a lovely quilted pillow that would make a great addition to your pillow collection. But I wanted to take it a step further and add some extra bohemian flare—tassels!

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsStep 10: Attach tassels to each corner of the pillow.

To Make Tassels:

1. Use one bunch of embroidery floss (still wrapped in its packaging) for each tassel. Tie it in the middle with a tightly knotted piece of matching embroidery floss. (The fifth bunch of floss is for tying and wrapping the tassels.) Make sure to leave a long end hanging free for attaching the tassel to the pillow.

2. Wrap together the end of the bunch with floss (first knotted tightly) and tuck the ends of the wrapping in through the tassel.

3. Remove the embroidery floss packaging, cut the loops open at the ends, and trim up any unevenness.

4. Use a darning needle and the excess embroidery floss from step one to stitch the tassels to the corners of the pillow, threading the excess thread through the pillow after knotting the tassel in place.

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsModern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsThis patchwork pillow is the perfect combination of simple and chic. The comfortable vibes created by the quilting process and natural materials makes it feel simple, but the addition of the tassels pushes it into chic territory.

Modern Boho Patchwork Pillow - click through for detailed instructionsAre you looking to add more graphic appeal and textural comfort to your home? This pillow should be your next project! Let us know if you give it a try! -Mandi

Credits //Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions.

Homemade buckwheat crackers (via abeautifulmess.com) Gluten free wheat free cracker recipeIt's soup season, friends! So I thought I'd share a homemade cracker recipe because it's the perfect companion to soup. These crackers are delicious and super flavorful, plus they also happen to be gluten free, wheat free, and dairy free. So if that kind of thing matters to you—good news. And if it doesn't matter to you, forget I said anything, but you should still make these because they are tasty! Or you could try these pepper jack crackers that I shared last year. 

Baked buckwheat crackers (via abeautifulmess.com)Baked Buckwheat Crackers, makes two dozen (depending on how you choose to cut them)

3/4 cup buckwheat flour
5 tablespoons cold, dairy-free butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon of each of the following: coarse sea (or celtic) salt, sesame seeds, cracked black pepper, cumin seeds, and celery seeds (see notes)

In a food processor or good blender, combine the flour, 4 tablespoons of cold butter, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse until the butter is incorporated well; the mixture will resemble small pebbles. 

Best gluten free cracker recipeAdd 3 tablespoons of applesauce and pulse until a dough forms. The dough will be soft and should stick together. If it doesn't stick together, because it is still too dry, add another tablespoon of applesauce and pulse again to incorporate. 

On a (buckwheat) floured cutting board, turn the dough out and press together. Press or roll into a thin sheet. You won't need a rolling pin since the dough is soft enough to shape with your hands, but you can use one if it helps you achieve a more uniform thickness. The dough should be 1/4 inch thick or even a bit thinner. 

Homemade cracker recipeMelt the remaining tablespoon of nondairy butter and brush over the dough. Sprinkle the coarse salt and seeds all over the surface. Then use a pizza cutter or knife to cut into thin strips or squares. 

Slide the dough off the cutting board and onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375°F for 25-28 minutes, until the edges are a very deep brown. Allow to cool before handling. You can enjoy these on top of soup (my favorite), or alongside hummus, on salad, with cheese (if you really don't care about the nondairy aspect :)), or give them a rough chop and use them as bread crumbs. 

Gluten free cracker recipeA few notes:

-If you've never used buckwheat before, keep in mind it does have a strong flavor. If you are unsure where you stand on this, you can substitute up to half the buckwheat flour in this recipe for whole wheat. If you do, you can replace all or half of the applesauce with cold water and reduce the bake time by 5-8 minutes. The applesauce is a natural sweetener that helps to mellow the buckwheat flavor without taking away from it (think salty and sweet). 

-Yes, you can use regular (dairy) butter in place of the dairy free kind if you like. 

-Feel free to change out the seeds for other flavorful seeds you might have on hand, just stick with things that have an overall nutty or savory flavor.

Happy cracker baking! And make some soup soon! Need ideas? Check out our soup recipe archive. xo. Emma

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


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