Bookshelves projectThe. Time. Has. Come. 

So, I've mentioned before that I've gone back and forth on this back wall in our living room. My heart has always said, "Bookshelves," but my brain was saying, "Do something else." Well, I gave it some serious thought and there is "nothing else". Ha! 

No matter how hard I try, I can't imagine anything more perfect than a big, floor-to-ceiling library wall! 

Here's some of my inspirations—

Home library inspirationThis first photo (via Design Sponge) has been on every home mood board I have made for the past 5-7 years. It's just crazy inspiring to me how the books fill the A-frame shape around the door. And since this space is so similar to our living room wall, it just seems crazy not to go for it! 

This second photo (via Little Green Notebook) has always spoken to me as such a great family space. I have considered the lights and ladder that she did quite a bit. (We decided to skip the ladder for now since we have a baby on the way, but I'm still considering adding lights to ours.) Everything about how this is styled appeals to me so much. 

Side note—if you want to add closed shelves to the bottom of your DIY bookshelves, definitely read her post

So, we're building the shelves now. After that I need to work on filling them. I have a two season plan for how they could be styled. And I'm off to hunt for cool vintage books that match our color scheme, with special consideration for finding children's books. 

I have bookmarked our local Nashville library sales, but where else should I hunt for books? 

Ugh! I am so excited about this project. It's truly a dream project!! I'll share more photos with you as we move along! xx -Elsie 

Emma Chapman Eye patches Emma of A Beautiful Mess  Emma Chapman  Oui Fresh dress Emma of A Beautiful MessThe other night I was hanging out with a few friends, and the conversation turned to what we would pick if we had to make a list of top five perfect albums. We ended up having quite the varied list, and it was so fun! Plus it reminded me of so much good music I haven't taken the time to listen to in a while. So I thought it might be fun to share what I said, and hear what you think, Sister. The pressure is on! 

Emma's Top Five:
The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel
The Blue Album by Weezer
The Crane Wife by The Decemberists

You guys should try listing your top five in the comments—it's really hard! If you get too stressed out, just add a few honorable mentions. ;) 

Cute enamel pins Emma Chapman Emma of A Beautiful Mess Boots and tightsEmma's Wearing: Dress/Oui Fresh (sold out but we have other great stuff avail), Boots/ModCloth, Purse/Rebecca Minkoff (similar here), 'E' Charm c/o Fossil, Choker c/o Bauble Bar, Tights + hat/Target, Jacket/Levi's, Pins/Big Bud Press and Frank Norton, Eye patches/M&J Trimming

Take it away, Sister!

Elsie LarsonElsie Larson Elsie Larson Elsie Larson   Elsie Larson   OK, this is a fun idea, but it's also REALLY tough. Jeremy and I are always talking about how Spotify (which we love and use daily) has kind of made us listen to full albums less and less. When we were growing up (in the 90s) and CDs were the thing, I would often buy a CD where I only knew one song, and in those days I feel like I really got to know albums in a deeper way. I miss those days of knowing every word of every song. 

Thank God for Vinyl, because this is a great way to still listen to albums start to finish. So I'll do a few of my most-listened-to vinyl. 

Elsie's Top Five: 
Back To Black by Amy Winehouse 
Fly By Wire by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin 
FutureSex/LoveSounds by Justin Timberlake
Where Did Our Love Go by The Supremes 
Nevermind by Nirvana

Elsie Larson      Elsie Larson      Elsie's Wearing: Top/OuiFresh, Mom Jeans/Swedish Hasbeens, Bag/Madewell (similar here), Sunnies/ZeroUV, Banana Charm/Kate Spade (thanks, Claire!), Louise Clogs/Swedish Hasbeens

Can't wait to hear some of your favorite albums as well! xx- Emma + Elsie 

Credits//Author: Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson. Photography: Janae Hardy and Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Orange and Coffee Moscow MuleFor those of you who are fans of the classic Moscow Mule, you are in for a real treat today! And those of you who are not yet Mule fans, I'm hoping to convert you. :) Often when a classic cocktail is updated, it's called "improved". Since Moscow Mules are one of my all time favorite cocktails, I don't necessarily think it needs "improving", but I do love swapping out flavors for seasonal favorites and also I just love trying new things.

We partnered with Smirnoff Vodka to create a special twist on the classic Moscow Mule using their Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka as the base spirit in this delicious and slightly surprising variation. Alongside the ginger (from the ginger beer), there are also notes of coffee and cinnamon with a big splash of freshly squeezed orange juice. Mmmmmmm.

Orange and Coffee Moscow Mule with SmirnoffOrange and Coffee Moscow Mule   Orange and Coffee Moscow Mule, makes one

1 can/bottle of ginger beer (approx. 8-9 oz. depending on brand)
1 oz. Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
1 oz. coffee liqueur
1/4 of an orange, squeezed
1 cinnamon stick for garnish
ice

Also, you'll need a copper mug if you want to have the real Moscow Mule look. :)

Smirnoff Moscow MuleFill the cup 2/3 full with ice. Pour in half to 2/3 of the ginger beer. Then add Smirnoff Vodka, the coffee liqueur, and squeeze in the orange juice. Give that one or two good stirs, then fill the rest of the way with the remaining ginger beer. 

Garnish with a cinnamon stick and another orange wedge or a piece of the rind. Might as well make it pretty!

Orange and Coffee Moscow Mule    Just a few quick notes to ensure your cocktail turns out perfect:

-The copper mugs I own can hold 16 oz. of liquid (this is if you do not add ice, just liquid). If you do not use this size of cup or glass, you will likely need to adjust the above recipe to fit your needs. 

-I used a jigger to measure the vodka and coffee liqueur here, as mine has two cups with one measuring 1 oz and the other 1.5 oz. If you use a shot glass to measure instead, be aware that usually a shot is 1.5 oz. So a bit more than you need here. This would be fine for the vodka, but on the coffee liqueur, I'd be sure to use a scant amount in a shot glass. Otherwise the flavor could overpower everything else, and we're aiming for balance here. 

Happy cocktail making, guys! xo. Emma

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

 

Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial)       I loooove a good hat in winter. They keep your head warm, look cute, and help hide any bad-hair-day issues. I have a collection of beanies in different colors and shapes (some with poms, some without), but I thought I could use a more "special" one since mine are basically just plain colored options. One easy way to kick up your beanie game is to add several beads to the hat in different shapes and colors since it adds a little bit of shimmer and texture as well!

Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial)Supplies:
-knit hat
-beads in various sizes, colors, and textures (I found mine in the JoAnns jewelry area.)
-thread in a color that matches the beads

Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial) I really like the tone-on-tone look with different shades of pink on the pink hat, so I chose mostly beads in the pink family with one white option that would stand out the most. I took my white beads first and placed several on the hat in the places I wanted to secure them. It's a good idea to think of how many other colors and beads you are planning on using so you don't fill up the hat on the first color. To remember the spacing, I took a photo with my phone and then used it as a reference for each bead I hand sewed onto the hat.

Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial)  Once the first set of beads was attached, I spaced out the next color of beads on the hat, took another photo, and then sewed those beads on as well. Keep going until you have all your colors of beads attached. Once you're done, it's time to take your hat for a spin!

Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial)   Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial)      Cute, right?! Adding the beads and pearls was an easy addition, but it makes the hat feel a little more special and unique than it did before. It can also be your "dress hat" now if you need to dress fancy, but warmly, for some outdoor event. Hey man, I've been to an outdoor wedding in Missouri in December, sooo, it happens! Hope you make one of your own! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Laura Gummerman and Todd Gummerman. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions

How long does it take to write a blog postHey, friends. It's time for another edition to our series, Blog Q&A, which you can find all the past articles of here. Today's Blog Q&A question comes from a commenter. She asks:

"How long does it usually take to write or draft up posts and format them with photos and other content?" 

The short answer is: it depends on what kind of post it is. While it's probably fairly obvious to you guys that a post about a cookie recipe vs. a post that shows a before and after room tour are things that likely took very different amounts of time to create start to finish. What might not be as obvious is that pretty much ALL posts, or at least the ones that we share here on A Beautiful Mess, go through a similar 5-step process. So although I don't have a simple answer like, "It takes 4 hours to write a post," I can share our five steps to drafting killer content. 

1. Brainstorm + Plan

The first step to creating any kind of content is to brainstorm and plan. Here on ABM we aim to publish an average of 45 to 50 posts every month. We share all sorts of content from fashion-related posts (like Sister Style), craft projects, room tours + decor features, recipes, informational articles about blogging, small business, and photography, product launches, and some personal/just-for-fun type articles (you know, the randos) as well. Each writer aims for a certain number and usually specializes in certain areas, and we work backward from there each month. 

An obvious, but super helpful tool for brainstorming is a notebook. I like to have a notebook that I can have near me at all times, so I usually have something small in my purse. I will think of the most random recipe brainstorms at seemingly any time of day, so I like to jot down any idea (even if I end up thinking it's dumb later) when it strikes. Then we can evaluate strong ideas and things we are truly excited about from others that we eventually cut. This eventually becomes a more fleshed out list of post ideas, usually with some room to change them up if things don't work exactly as planned (which is a DIY hazard for sure :)).

With this list we can plan. This includes making lists of supplies to buy and noting if things can be found locally or if we will need to order online and wait for deliveries. Also, a loose timeline can be put in place once you have your list of posts. For example, I have post ideas on my list this month that will come together in just a day or two, while I also have a project I'm working on that I know will likely take 2-3 months for me to complete. Just knowing this helps me communicate, stay on track, and work within our editorial goals for ABM much more easily than if I were just "winging it" all the time. 

2. Create

This is arguably the most fun and most frustrating step in the process. Once you have brainstormed and made a plan of action, it's time to execute. This will include gathering supplies, making the project, and finding a way to photograph things along the way and the final looks for your article. The timeframe on this will vary a great deal depending on if you are working on a great salad recipe post or sharing your kitchen renovation.

Here's just a few tips from a gal who's been creating blog posts for years. First, give yourself time (like, build it into the schedule) to make mistakes. Things don't always work as you plan, so don't assume they will. It could be that a post will come together faster than you thought, giving you bonus time! But assuming it will come together in a day when it actually takes three is a sure way to stress yourself, and your team if you work on one, out. Boo to stress! And that brings me to my second tip, which is: enjoy the process. I truly believe one of the most joy filled things we can do in life is create—so don't blow past enjoying the process of it because you are so focused on maintaining a blog schedule. Sure, hitting deadlines are super important, but so is taking time to enjoy your work. It's a balancing act that I'm not perfect at but always looking to get better at.  

3. Prepare Visuals

For us this means editing and saving our images. There are times posts require other elements, like designed pieces for readers to download, etc. But most often our posts are made up of photos and text. So once the project is complete, it's time to edit those photos! 

This is one place you can save yourself a lot of time by learning to make your editing workflow efficient. First, if you don't use Photoshop or Lightroom, you should. We use one of these programs for around 99% of the photos you see on ABM. The only exception is if we've intentionally left something unedited, and for phone photos we mainly use A Color Story to edit. If you've been wanting to learn how to use Photoshop or Lightroom but don't know where to start, I recommend our course, Photoshop for Bloggers. It takes you from ground zero to everything you need to know. I also recommend using actions or presets when editing (you can also utilize batch editing tools as well) as it speeds up the editing process SO MUCH. And although I love the process of editing photos, it's not the part of my workflow where I want to spend countless hours. We have our own A Beautiful Mess actions you can check out, and there are other options available online as well depending on the look you are going for. 

4. Write + Edit Copy

I usually write all of the copy for a post at once. So, this means I take notes during the creation process so I can go back to those notes to make sure I convey all the information that I think will be helpful to readers. Some writers like to do a slightly different process, writing bits as they go. There really is not one set "right" way to do this, I think it depends more on your style and what feels best and results in the best, most coherent post. But, I do recommend writing a post and then waiting at least a few hours or day before re-reading it. The goal is to re-read your work with fresh eyes to see if you can add anymore info, or maybe you left a step out. Also, make sure to be linking anything relevant that readers might want to read more about. 

Then, have someone else proofread your copy. At ABM we've had a few different copy editors over the years. Currently, Sarah Sandidge proofs and edits all our posts and e-Course content. She's amazing—she makes it look like I know how to spell when the truth is, that's questionable at best. :) If you don't have the budget to hire this kind of service, at least having your significant other or a friend who might be a bit better at grammar than you would be a good place to start. But, generally this kind of service is affordable. So I would recommend looking into it if you are serious about your writing. 

5. Publish + Check Comments

The final step is to press that publish button! I know, the scariest part. What if everyone hates your post? Well, if they do at least you will likely get some feedback so you can create even better content in the future. Worst case scenario is you learn something, and best case scenario is the Internet goes CRAZY for your amazing blog post! So, you don't have anything to lose, my friend. Press that publish button. 

I'd love to say that we religiously check comments, but the truth is we don't always have the time to respond to everything as much as we would like. But, we still do make as much time as we can for it. It's important to engage with your readers, AND so often I learn from them on ways to improve my writing, photography, etc. for future posts. Also, if your readers are as great as ours, you def want to read comments because they can truly make your day. I've seriously cried from a really nice comment before, especially on days when I needed it. 

Bonus step: Update old, but still popular posts regularly. This is not only a great practice as you'll be improving your site's content for readers, but Google also prioritizes sites that do this. So you'll be upping your SEO game as well. The basic idea is to look at what posts are still being read on your site from last year or earlier (depending on how long you've been blogging). You can find this in Google Analytics or other backend analytics you may have access to. Read those old posts and see if you can improve them in any way, like adding more information, improving the photos, or adding a short video tutorial. Whatever would make the post a more useful resource is a great place to start. We have been working to do this on our own site this past year by adding short videos tutorials to some of our most popular posts like Homemade Bath Bombs and DIY Marbled Clay Ring Dish

Hope you fellow bloggers out there found something here helpful! And let me know if you want us to expand on anything from this article or have other blogging-related questions you'd love us to address in future articles in this series. Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photo: Mandi Johnson, Image Design: Mara Dockery. 

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