Vanilla Bean and Thyme Slice and Bake Cookies (via abeautifulmess.com) Slice and bake cookies are the best for two main reasons. The first is the most obvious. Having some frozen, ready to bake cookie dough in your freezer makes it super easy to just be minutes away from freshly, home-baked cookies. So if you end up with unexpected guests, this little trick will ensure you still end up looking like a real life Martha Stewart. 

Oh, that's not one of your goals? Well, just me then. :)

Vanilla Bean and Thyme Slice and Bake Cookies (via abeautifulmess.com)But the second reason is actually my favorite. Having cookie dough in your freezer, ready to go means you can bake just 2-3 cookies and save the rest for later. Freshly baked cookies just for me?! Uh... yes, please. Sounds more fancy than heated tiles. 

These little slice and bake delights combine the flavors of vanilla bean and thyme for a sweet and slightly herbal flavor. These cookies are rich and buttery with a texture somewhere between a crispy sugar cookie or a soft shortbread. They go well with afternoon tea. Or late night movie watching—whatever your speed. ;)

Slice and bake cookie recipeVanilla and Thyme Slice and Bake Cookies, makes 26-28 cookies 

1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus more for decorating
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

First, cream together the butter, sugar, and the seeds from the vanilla bean. To remove them just slice the bean down the center, and then use the tip of your knife to scrape the seeds out.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the thyme and egg and whisk together until well incorporated. 

Thyme glazeThen stir in the flour and salt until a dough ball forms. You may need to use your (clean) hands to press the dough together here. Roll the dough into long cylinder, cover in plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight. You can keep this frozen in your freezer for at least a month (probably longer). 

When you are ready to make cookies, remove from the freezer and allow to sit out for a few minutes while your oven preheats. Then slice into 1/4 inch or slightly thicker rounds and place on a baking sheet lined with a baking mat or parchment paper. 

Bake at 325°F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the cookies on a cooling rack. 

In the meantime, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Dip the cooled cookies into the glaze, then place back on the cooling rack to allow excess glaze to drip off (put some wax paper underneath for easy clean up). If you are feeling fancy (remember, we are going for real life Martha here), you can decorate the tops with a few thyme leaves as well. 

Vanilla and Thyme Slice and Bake Cookies (via abeautifulmess.com)Here's a few notes about these cookies:

-I find the best way to soften butter is to leave it out on the counter (out of the refrigerator) all day, or all night before you want to use it. 

-These cookies are super delicious even without the glaze. So if you ARE just making 2-3 for yourself one night, feel free to skip the glaze if you don't want to waste any. 

-You can use leftover vanilla bean pods (what you scraped the seeds from) for making your own vanilla extract

-You can swap out the thyme for rosemary or (food grade) lavender. I'd use a little less of either of these as thyme has a milder taste, at least to me. ;)

Happy cookie baking! Also, if you're not feeling these delicate little slice and bake cookies, might I recommend Chocolate Snowcap Mountain Cookies or Blueberry Muffin Cookies. xo. Emma

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

December DailyAh—December Daily. Such a fun tradition. What I love about it is it makes me more intentional about saving memories and getting cute photos throughout the month. This was probably the most rushed and stressful holiday season I can remember, but I can STILL look back on it with a smile because of this book. I love that! 

I've done this a few other years, I think this was my third time! Here's 2014's album and 2013's album. Last year I intended to do it, but I never got around to it. I definitely regretted breaking my tradition. So I vowed to complete it this year no matter what! 

December Daily On the inside cover, I added a fun little hand painted stripe. 

December Daily  Pro tip—always lead with your most flattering photo! 

December daily 2016I don't really like to journal that much in my scrapbooks. That will probably change when we have a kiddo, but for now this was about all I had to say. 

December Daily   December Daily    Pretty much 100% of the photos I used this year were taken with my phone. I remembered to screen shot a lot of stupid IG story and Snapchat photos this year... It adds character...? 

December Daily     This face swap moment was full-page worthy. 

December Daily      December Daily       December Daily        I'm thankful for my phone because if it wasn't for that, I probably wouldn't have any photos. You saved me, iPhone. 

December Daily         My favorite pages. 

December Daily          I decided to include our NYE party in the book because A. I have WAY more cute photos of it, and B. it was one of my favorite holiday memories ever. It was so much fun and a great bonding experience for J and I to tag-team throwing a big dinner party. 

December Daily           My favorite photo. 

December Daily             Awwwe. 

December Daily              December Daily              December Daily              And the main reason why I LOVE this project is that it gives me a place to store all the cute holiday cards we get in the mail. It hurts my heart too much to throw them away. 

OK! That's all for this year! Thinking ahead for next year, I think I would like to change it up next year. I was thinking about it as I was putting this together. I think next year I'd like to focus more on photography and maybe tell a handful of stories, but mostly make a big photo book with big photos. That's pretty far off, so we'll see what I'm feeling when the time comes. Laura also did December Daily this year, so here's a few shots of what her December looked like!

Laura's December Daily 2016 (click through for more!)Laura's December Daily 2016 (click through for more!)Laura's December Daily 2016 (click through for more!)Laura's December Daily 2016 (click through for more!)Laura's December Daily 2016 (click through for more!)Laura's December Daily 2016 (click through for more!)Laura's December Daily 2016 (click through for more!)All in all—this project is always 100% worth the effort! I love looking back on past years' albums! 

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson, Photography: Elsie Larson and Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Pearl Dangle Earring DIY (click through for tutorial)      Jewelry DIYs are one of my favorite things to make. They are relatively quick, easy, and you can make something that's totally specific to your taste. Do you wear silver? Gold? Like bright colors or mostly neutrals? The same exact concept can look like a totally different piece once you customize it to your taste and put your own spin on it. I thought I'd make some pretty dangle earrings, and a simple gold pair with pink pearls at the end sounded like just enough fun to be special but not too over the top so it could be worn a little more casually too. 

Pearl Dangle Earring DIY (click through for tutorial)      Supplies:
-jump rings
-jewelry head pins
-link chain
-jewelry side cutters, needle nose pliers, and round nose pliers (you can buy them all together if you don't have some)
-ball earring posts
-8mm pink pearl beads

Pearl Dangle Earring DIY (click through for tutorial)      First you'll want to use your cutters to cut two lengths of chain (make sure to make one set of two for each earring). One length will be 3" long and the other 2 1/4" long.

Pearl Dangle Earring DIY (click through for tutorial)      Use your pliers to open a jump ring, loop the top of both your chains through the ring, and attach the ring onto your ball post. Close the jump ring with the pliers.

Pearl Dangle Earring DIY (click through for tutorial)      Insert a head pin into a pink bead and use your cutters to cut the pin a little more than 1/4" above the top of the bead. 


Pearl Dangle Earring DIY (click through for tutorial)      Use your round nose pliers to make the top of the pin into a rounded hook like in the photo above, but right before you close it completely, attach the hook to the bottom of one of your earring chains so the pearl dangles from the end. 

Pearl Dangle Earring DIY (click through for tutorial)      Repeat the process 3 more times so each of your chain segments has a bead at the end of it, and your earrings are done!

Pearl Dangle Earring DIY (click through for tutorial)      So pretty! And so easy too, right? You can definitely do more lengths and segments, different colored beads or even multiple beads on each strand to mix it up a bit. If you're an earring girl, I think you'll have a really fun time making and customizing your own pair. So give it a shot and see what you come up with! xo. Laura

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

Loyal's Nursery Tour (click through for more photos!)Hey, guys. I'm Sarah from Arrow + Apple (and I used to take photos for ABM in another lifetime!). I'm so excited to share with you guys our little nursery we put together for our son, Loyal! Currently you can find us flipping and designing homes in Phoenix, Arizona, but I definitely get to have the most fun with our own home. I mean who doesn't like your own style more than you do, right?!

Loyal's Nursery Tour (click through for more photos!) Putting together a nursery is pretty daunting. Admittedly, poor Loyal didn't have his own room until he was like six months old. I knew I wanted to do something with big personality, lots of color, but not to overwhelming for him. It's kind of a tough line to walk! Another caveat: Loyal's room is TINY. We are talking maybe 6 feet by 9 feet! With such a small blueprint to work with, we had to get pretty creative! We also didn't want to lose any personality in the space, so we decided to go BIG with a pretty crazy statement wall, but limiting the painting to just one wall helps the rest of the tiny space feel airy and fresh.

Loyal's Nursery Tour (click through for more photos!)  I started out planning his nursery inspired by Salvation Mountain (you can see my pinboard for his nursery here). I love the freehand, creative feel of Salvation Mountain, and as we live in the desert of Phoenix, AZ, it seemed like a good fit for us, too. We are also both really passionate about encouraging creativity with our kids and want their rooms to feel like magical places full of life!

Loyal's Nursery Tour (click through for more photos!)   Loyal's Nursery Tour (click through for more photos!)   Loyal's Nursery Tour (click through for more photos!)   To start off with, I bought a couple different shades of blue sample jars of paint, mixed them with a little bit of water (to create the drippy effect), took a paintbrush and just went for it on his back wall! It turned out even better than I had hoped it would. It's pretty bold, so I get it's not everybody's style, but I think even on a smaller scale (smaller blobs, less water and fewer drips, a lighter shade), it could be really pretty. My husband, Josh, made the mountain backdrop to hang over the bed, as well as the wall shelf and the honeycomb nightstand. I'm so glad to have him on my team! I also hung a few photos from my digital print shop that went with the desert theme, and some photos of our little guy as well. Over the chair hangs the sweetest and most magical moon and stars mobile from Baby Jives (find it here). We had a Baby Jives mobile in Imogen's room (see her old room tour on ABM), and it's still hanging in her room now. It's a perfect bit of magic that every kid needs.

Loyal's Nursery Tour (click through for more photos!)      Loyal's Nursery Tour (click through for more photos!)      Loyal's Nursery Tour (click through for more photos!)      Speaking of this amazing chair, we were so glad to work with Article to find the perfect, smaller-profile chair to fit this crazy tiny little room! I love all of their furniture, and it's such high quality (similar chair here and pouf here). I know gliders are so big for nurseries, but we lived without a glider in Imogen's room, and so I didn't place a glider as a high priority. I figured an accent chair is a better investment for us because you only use a glider for so long, but accent chairs are so versatile and usable in pretty much any room (if you're insane and love switching your furniture around from room to room like I do!).

Our indigo dyed pouf is also from Article, and it's a favorite with the kids! Perfect height, and it's nice and plush for when things get rowdy. Plush things are kind of a must with littles, right? We also love our comfy rug from Rugs USA. It's nice and neutral, and will be able to work with pretty much any design we have as he grows into a bigger room in our next home! Plus, it was insanely affordable. When you dream on a budget, affordable helps!

Loyal's Nursery Tour (click through for more photos!)         So that's Loyal's little space in our home! Thanks for reading along—I'd love to know, do you think you would go bold on a nursery or stay soft and neutral? -Sarah

Credits // Author and Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Clean + Modern Photoshop Actions.

Lucite Block Photo Frame DIY (click through for tutorial)       I will quickly admit that I am a lover of all things lucite. There's something about it that looks so "otherworldly" and luxe that I'm always quickly drawn to it in stores or online shopping. While it can be expensive to buy large lucite pieces, I have several smaller bits of lucite throughout the house (like these bathroom towel and hand towel holders). When I saw some lucite blocks for sale, I thought they would make great photo holders for a mantel or bookcase.

Lucite Block Photo Frame DIY (click through for tutorial) Supplies:
-Canon PIXMA MG7720 photo printer
-photo paper
-4x6" lucite block
-gold photo corners
-painter's tape

Lucite Block Photo Frame DIY (click through for tutorial)We worked with our great friends and longtime partners at Canon USA for this project! I used my gold PIXMA MG7720, which I can always trust to create really quality images. First you'll want to resize your photo smaller than your lucite block so it will leave a border around the edge (I made my photo 3x4"). Print your photo onto photo paper.

Lucite Block Photo Frame DIY (click through for tutorial)Cut our your picture using scissors or an X-Acto knife.

Lucite Block Photo Frame DIY (click through for tutorial)
Use  a ruler to make sure your area is centered and mark off with painter's tape a space the size of your photo.

Lucite Block Photo Frame DIY (click through for tutorial)Attach four picture corners in each corner of your taped off space.

Lucite Block Photo Frame DIY (click through for tutorial)     Slide your photo into the corners (you may need to cut it down a bit more to fit depending on how thick the photo corners are), remove the painter's tape, and your new photo frame is ready for the mantel!

Lucite Block Photo Frame DIY (click through for tutorial)            Lucite Block Photo Frame DIY (click through for tutorial)Lucite Block Photo Frame DIY (click through for tutorial)LOVE IT! You can also orient your picture as a landscape instead of horizontal if that works better for your photo, and you could even make two sets of four photo corners side by side if you wanted to display smaller photos or two instax pictures. The lucite and gold look so pretty with the other gold accents around the house (and you can use whatever color corners you want), and I also like that I can switch out the photo whenever I like as well. If you ask me, this project is clearly a good idea! xo. Laura

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

 

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