Sister Style: Frocktober

Smoke Bombs and Dresses Smoke Bombs and Dresses   Smoke Bombs and Dresses      Smoke Bombs and Dresses In high school we spent some of our years (me more than Emma) at a private school where our dress code was to wear long dresses (past our knees) every day except for Fridays. We've always loved dresses! And because we're freaks and not normal people, we loved this restriction and got super creative with our dresses and skirts. We had to be creative in order to make dressing fun. It was that or wear a long denim skirt to school every day. The horror. Haha! 

Also, sidenote: I sure am glad we're "allowed" to wear shorter dresses and skirts these days. Makes for more fun tights selections. 

Smoke Bombs and Dresses  Smoke Bombs and Dresses    Smoke Bombs and Dresses        Smoke Bombs and Dresses         To this day, I regret cleaning out a lot of my old high school staples (hoarder tendencies, I know...) and wish I could have back my purple crushed velvet maxi skirt and my 1950s butterfly dress. At least I saved my Mary Jane Dr. Martens (with added glitter- ha!). 

Smoke Bombs and Dresses             Smoke Bombs and Dresses           Smoke Bombs and Dresses                Now I have a pretty awesome stash of memory clothing from my twenties. I fully expect that my love for weirdo clothing will skip a generation, but someday someone will appreciate it. I just know it. 

I love the memories that clothes can create. I think about it often when I see my grandma's glittery 1950s Lucite reading glasses sitting on my bedroom table. 

Smoke Bombs and Dresses                 Smoke Bombs and Dresses            When I look back through the archives of this blog, I'm both horrified and extremely sentimental about all the things I've worn throughout the years. So many extremes, so many changes, so much fun. I love it! I regret absolutely nothing (not even owning three pairs of crocs- don't ask). 

I think when I was younger, I would have assumed that by the time I entered my thirties I'd be done with experimenting and settled into a normal (boring?) style. Young Elsie was such a dumb-dumb because that's not the case at all. 

I mean, don't get me wrong– I LOVE "boring" clothes. But I also feel like it's still exciting to try something new each and every season. And I'm beginning to see that's a feeling that will be with me my whole life. And I love that. 

Smoke Bombs and Dresses               We worked with one our oldest, dearest partners and supporters Ruche and their newest collection on this Sister Style. 

Emma is wearing: Dress, Boots, Hat

Elsie is wearing: Dress, Ring, Clutch, Shoes

Cheers to new dresses, old dresses and trying new styles every season! Happy Frocktober. xo. Elsie 

Credits// Author: Elsie Larson, Photography: Sarah Rhodes. 

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ABM Products Coming Soon (& The Full Story!)

ABM product line storyHi! In August I shared with you the exciting announcement that this autumn we will be expanding our website to include physical products. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) And even though I was way vague, you guys got really excited with us. Thank you. Today I'm back to share the story of why we decided to create our own products and how it's all been coming together over the past year! It's a good story. Grab a cup of coffee and here we go...  

Over the past few years, Emma and I began to notice two things:
 
1. There's not a great one-stop place to buy crafty stuff online. We buy supplies constantly, and we shop at dozens of different stores every month. Locally, we are lucky enough to have a couple nice big-box stores that have a lot of the basics we need, but we have readers all over the world who don't have access to these stores. Often readers will comment or email us that they want to try a project, but they are having a hard time finding supplies. 
 
This was light-bulb moment for us. Wouldn't it be nice to somehow have all the supplies we love and use most often in one shop? Even better, what if we could have a shop that was accessible and shipping-friendly to our readers all over the world? Our wheels were turning. You see where this is going, right? 
 
Washi
2. The second thing we began to notice was that, even though we have big chain craft stores here and we shop online constantly, we STILL have a hard time finding certain supplies. We modify a lot of things. We mix our own fabric paint colors. We alter things to fit our needs. 
 
We began to realize that if we were craving certain types of products in awesome colors and cute patterns– maybe our readers were too? 
 
Mixing our own paint colors
So last winter I spent the month working with a graphic designer creating mockups of all the products we wanted to create. In the process of designing ideas, I got SUPER attached to the idea of making these products real. Obsessed. It was all I could think about for a little while. 
 
One of our first instincts was to do the product line here. We priced out what it would be like to buy a warehouse, hire a team to fulfill orders, and source all our products from scratch. We were tempted. And this is something we still might do someday down the road, who knows? But for now, we decided not to go that route because we wanted to do this product line right. We wanted you to have a great experience with our products from the design, to the ordering process, to receiving them at your doorstep. We knew that if we did it ourselves, we'd face a huge learning curve, and so we chose to partner with another company in the interest of "doing it right the first time." Basically, we didn't want to screw this up! 
 
So we pitched our ideas to a giant company. They liked them. We started working through the details. But we quickly realized that to work with a big company meant that we would have to prioritize the big box stores (their big accounts) over our online shop. Don't get me wrong, I hope to sell in those stores eventually. But our first priority was to create an awesome direct-to-consumer website that our readers all over the world could shop. 
 
Soon after, I was in Nashville on a business trip with my husband. Samantha from Studio Calico asked us to have coffee to discuss our future product plans. I was hesitant at first, but having met them at a book signing a few months before, I was like, "why not?". So we met. I had oatmeal. We talked about our companies, our goals. They told me the story of how their product-based company grew, how highly they prioritize their customers, and how (no offense, guys) crazy they are about quality. 
 
I had a good vibe. We signed all those lawyer papers that swear you to secrecy. And we started working out a deal. 
 
We finalized our contract in May and have been working daily to prepare our products for a late October launch ever since. I've been to their offices in Bowling Green, Kentucky many times. (It's near Nashville. That's why we're constantly there if you ever wondered). We've been working very closely for the last season. 
 
At Studio Calico headquartersAt Studio Calico headquarters At Studio Calico headquarters At Studio Calico headquarters (Here we are at a meeting a few months back at SC. We were discussing the holiday product lineup, looking through samples, and planning details for what our subscription boxes would look and feel like.) 
 
We've talked to the customer service team personally about how I want them to take good care of you (they would anyway, they're old pros at that stuff). We've seen how they pack kits and orders in the warehouse (it's crazy!) and the level of detail that goes into preparing every order. We really like their team from the marketing, to the board members, to the designers and the people who handle all the technical stuff.
 
We like them, we trust them, and we're excited because we believe they'll give you the best possible experience with our new products. 
 
When the website launches, you might not even notice that there is a team in Kentucky working on things. They have worked super hard to make sure our new website, products, packaging, and all the other little details will be true to the ABM brand. 
 
Hooray– awesome partners. Check! 
 
Elsie + april(This photo is from just last Friday with Studio Calico CEO, April Foster. I was at the SC offices meeting all day about our curated collection of accessories, home goods, and paper products that will be included in the launch. So many serious discussions about funny holiday cards and tea towels.) 
 
For the past few months some of you noticed that I was posting here, on ABM, a bit less. That's not a permanent thing (Promise!). I was in a temporary fog because we designed SO. MUCH. STUFF. in a very short amount of time.
 
Over the past month we found our groove, and we're finding a balance. I design a huge percentage of the products in the shop and consult and curate on all of the rest. This has been quite a process, but I'm so glad we did it that way because I can honestly say that I love every single item we will be selling. We're already working on the new year. It's a dream job. 
 
The official launch date is TBD, but I can say it will happen soon (late October or early November), in plenty of time for holiday shopping and everyone's favorite.... Black Friday! 
 
The launch is set to include a monthly stationery kit (designed by us!) and a huge selection of craft goods like paint, ink, stamps, pretty paper, and stickers. It will also include a curated selection of accessories, home goods, and paper products. 
 
Oh... and did I mention we designed a 2015 planner? I can't wait to show you! 
 
Our new shop site will continue to offer our e-courses (we have some awesome new classes coming!) and photoshop actions. 
 
Whew! I know that is a lot of information in a short amount of time, but I wanted to share our story with you. When the new site launch happens, I want you to know just how many hard-working, creative people were involved in the process. It's been quite an adventure! We're so so excited. 
 
Thanks so much for sharing our joy. We cannot wait to share the next stage of our adventure with you. xo. Elsie 
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Try This: Easy Homemade Cronuts

Easy homemade cronuts Hey guys, have you heard about this brand new food trend: cronuts? Probably not because it hasn't really hit the Internet yet. 

Yeah, I'm totally cutting edge. I know. I congratulate myself all the time. "Emma the trendsetter" they call me. 

Easy homemade cronutsJk. Cronuts are not new. Everyone is way into them. I'm late. So I'm really, really excited to try some homemade cronuts sometime in my near future. I'd love to try this recipe, or this one, or maybe this one. We'll see. But as you can guess, cronuts (like many donut recipes) tend to be a little labor-intensive. I love a good kitchen challenge, but I also like easy stuff. I'm lazy sometimes.

So this made me curious... What would be the best ready-made dough to use when you want to make lazy cronuts?

Cronut cheatsI tried two different doughs. I bought some puff pastry and also some crescent roll dough. Seamless. Yep. I said these are lazy cronuts, and I wasn't joking.

Guys, one of these made some really yummy donuts... while the other was... not the best. Are you on the edge of your seat yet???

Easy homemade cronuts  First up, I layered each dough before cutting it into donuts. This is how you get all those crazy layers in a cronut. This also means you'll only get 3-6 cronuts out of each package. So, if you wanna make a ton, you better buy a lot of dough. That's a pro tip. You're welcome.

Frying donutsNext, I fried the dough (I used canola oil) at around 350°F. For the puff pastry dough, I fried for about 45-50 seconds on each side. For the crescent roll dough, I fried for about 30 seconds on each side. A good rule of thumb in deep frying (non-meat) items is they should be done within about 60 seconds total. But always do one first, cut it open and see. If it looks undercooked then you'll want to adjust your fry time, not temperture. 

After frying, I removed the cronuts to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess grease. Then I made a glaze from 1 cup powdered sugar and a few teaspoons of water whisked in. 

Easy homemade cronuts      The cronuts on the right side are made from crescent roll dough. As you can see, they cooked all the way through while the outside was crispy. Fluffy inside, crispy outside is exactly what we were going for. These were delicious!

Easy homemade cronuts   The puff pastry cronuts did not work as well. They remained doughy on the inside while the outside was fully cooked. I did try cooking a few even longer and found that they would burn on the outside while the inside remained undercooked. 

Since the puff pastry cronuts seemed to be too dense, I decided to try a few with less layers. So I just cut out one layer of puff pastry and fried that. It was better, but still kind of greasy while sort of undercooked in the center. I will say the puff pastry had a better, buttery taste than the crescent roll dough. But if you want easy cronuts, stick with crescent roll dough. 

Thanks for coming with me on this cronut kitchen experiment. :) xo. Emma

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

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At Home With Julie Williams Driemel

At Home With Julie Williams Driemel via A Beautiful MessWe are so happy to welcome Julie Williams Driemel to the blog today to share her lovely home with us!
 
Lovely living spaceGorgeous chairLove all the colors in this space"This space was a pretty good blank canvas when we bought it. While it's been home from day one, after two years worth of projects, it feels so us and has become super functional to fit our lifestyle. I love the bright windows with big mountain views as well as the mix of pretty little bits gathered from thrift stores, our travels, gifts, and special family hand-me-downs. Our decor is such a mishmash of items we've gathered over the years, which I love. Nearly everything has a story of some sort – clippings of plants that have been passed down through both our families for years and years, colourful vases that were collected for our wedding, the big long shelf in Morris' room is constructed from a set of retired vintage jumping skis my dad snatched from his local ski club, beach treasures we've gathered while visiting Adam's hometown on Vancouver Island, several pieces of art and wall hangings from family members [the tapestry above the mantle was a wedding gift to my great grandparents from family members in Sweden shortly after moving to Canada], the table and chairs are the same set that Adam grew up with, a vintage camera collection that my mother-in-law keeps adding to, the red mid-century rocking chair my mum bought for us..."
 
The light in this space is perfect!Sweet nurseryDarling nursery"The latest project around here has been Baby Mo's room – it's such a bright and cheery space. It was important to me that it be a part of the house that I would love hanging out in...I've been logging some serious hours in there since he was born back in January."
 
Love this gallery wall!Green walls in the bedroom"Our home is small and modest, but it's all we need and I can't wait to watch our little family grow here. We are so lucky to live in the awesome community of Canmore, in the Canadian Rocky Mountains...the outdoor surroundings are a huge part of our lifestyle."
 
Love the couch in this spaceKitty!Love the built-ins in this spaceLove the pops of color in this space!Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful home with us, Julie! You can find more of Julie over on her website or blog! xo. 

Credits // Author: Julie Williams Driemel. Photography: Julie Williams Driemel and Lindsay Ross.

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Try This: Easy Dry Erase Wall Art DIY

Dry Erase Blueprint Poster DIYBlueprint copies are an inexpensive way to create personalized, large art for your home, but they can also encourage creativity and help develop those fine motor skills at the same time. I made this dry erase poster for my daughter to enjoy after she showcased her first wall mural last week. It was lovely but we're renters and are two weeks away from moving out! I knew I needed to continue to encourage her artistic tendencies in a way that would still help us get our security deposit back, so I started scheming. 

IMG_1608Supplies:
-printed photo
-access to a blueprint printer at a major copy shop
-dry erase markers
-washi tape 
-poster putty

IMG_1607I decided we'd start with a fun little photoshoot with her dressed to the nines in her favorite princess accessories. I didn't have to twist her arm for this part at all. I then loaded my photo onto my Mac with iPhoto and exported it to Photoshop. I converted it to black and white using the A Beautiful Mess actions and printed it out on my home printer. 

Next I took it to my local Kinko's and got help printing it on a blueprint sized printer. Then I had it laminated on glossy laminate. I then attached it to my wall using poster putty and added washi tape to the corners just because it's pretty. Do you really need a good reason to use washi tape? You really don't. 

Dry Erase Poster Turned Wall ArtI talked to Ruby about using these special dry erase markers on the poster and ONLY on the poster. I also showed her how easily they wiped off with a tissue so that she understood she could enjoy drawing on it, but also easily change something she didn't like. It takes a lot of frustration out of the process when a kid knows they can fix something if they don't like how it turned out. 

One Photo-Two WaysWe worked on the first one together, and then I made her a special drawing while she was occupied in another room as a surprise. She loved having fairy wings and seeing how easy it was to not only color in her clothes but to add on to the picture as well. 

IMG_1651We used a tissue to fix mistakes and change colors, but I think we might just keep a pretty wash cloth nearby from now on so we don't end up with wadded tissue all over the floor. 

Dry Erase Wall Art DIYAfter letting a drawing stay on overnight, I noticed the Office Depot markers wiped off quite easily, but the Expo markers needed the Windex to sit on it a bit longer before it wiped off. My suggestion would be to have your little artist wipe it down at the end of each day it's used for it to last the longest if you're using the Expo brand markers.  

Sometimes all it takes is a trip to the copy store to buy yourself and your littles a few hours of fun! What kind of fun photo shoot would you dream up before printing out your own blueprint? -Rachel

 Credits//Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions.

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