A New NormalLet's talk about routines. 

All my life I've been obsessed with routines, rituals and those little things that make the seasons special. It can be something as simple as hot toddies and The Bachelor or as elaborate as Laura's insanely authentic 1960s cocktail party every year. I live for these things. 

Lately I've been working to create a stronger sense of "normal" here in Nashville. That means finding a whole new list of fun things... special places for each season. With our busy careers, it's something I have to really focus on, a hobby if you will! 

Lately we've been trying a new restaurant each weekend, eating some meals in our sunroom (when it's not crazy hot – haha!), buying our first concert tickets in, like, ten years (fun fact – we only go to our friends' concerts because we are LAZY and we are trying to change this). I am a HUGE fan of autumn, the holidays and spring (and during winter we travel, so I guess that's OK too), but summer...? I need to vibe more with summer. What are your favorite summertime things to do? 

A New Normal A New Normal A New Normal   A New Normal   A New Normal   A New Normal       A New Normal       A New Normal       Elsie's Wearing: Jacket/Madewell, Dress/F21, Bag and Sunglasses/Oui Fresh, Purse charms/H&M, Clogs/Swedish Hasbeens

Take it away, sister! 

Elles in Springfield MO Emma Chapman   Emma Chapman Lavender iced coffee Shoes Oui Fresh purseTotally agree, sister. The seasons always have me feeling nostalgic. When I lived in southern California for a few years after college, that was one of the things I missed most, the four seasons!

Probably not surprising, some of my favorite seasonal rituals have to do with treats. And summer is the best time for ice cream! I'm always sure to stop by Elle's at least a few times during the summer. They catered the ice cream at our wedding and I think they have the most interesting flavors in town, but they also have amazing lavender iced coffee. So sometimes I get that. I also love Pineapple Whip and Andy's Frozen custard, which are Springfield favorites for sure. 

Humidity hairThis summer ritual is called "trying to fluff my hair out so it doesn't look completely flat and a little bit greasy."

Humidity makes everyone's hair look amazing. I just love it. :) 

Pink bucket bag Emma Chapman  Emma's Wearing: Dress/Romwe, Shoes/ModCloth, Sunnies c/o BonLook, and Purse/Oui Fresh

What about you? What seasonal routines are you enjoying right now??? xx. Emma + Elsie

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

Spicy Brown Rice Bowls (via abeautifulmess.com)This dinner is easy to throw together, full of good-for-you things, and totally delicious. Really, it's everything a weeknight dinner should be. I love challenging myself in the kitchen and making all sorts of complex or new-to-me dishes, but what I make most often is something that resembles this. It's home base, what you return to over and over again. 

Spicy Brown Rice Bowls (via abeautifulmess.com) So what the heck is it? 

marinated, baked tofu (swap this out for cauliflower or shrimp if you don't like soy)
steamed brown rice (swap with black rice or quinoa if you're feeling fancy)
spiralized, raw veggies like zucchini, carrots, bell pepper (trendy food bc spiralizing is the new smoothie bowl)
a creamy, spicy sauce that kind of resembles Yum Sauce if you've ever had that before (but this is better)

That's seriously it. If you have some cilantro, toss that on top too. Dinner is served.

Marinated and baked tofuSpicy Brown Rice Bowls, serves two

3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
marinated baked tofu (see here for recipe)
1 zucchini
1/2 red bell pepper
1 large carrot

For the sauce:
2 heaping tablespoons of mayo
1 tablespoon reserved marinade (from the tofu)
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Prepare the tofu and steam the rice. I used the exact same method for the tofu as you see here. The only change was I cut it into small cubes instead of longer strips, or fries. I love this baked tofu recipe. I make the full 14 oz at a time (one package), and even if we don't eat all the tofu with this meal, I'll save it in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator and add it to salads or stir fries the rest of the week. Yum!

Steam your rice. I use a rice maker; it makes the whole thing super easy and impossible to screw up. I like that. :)

Easy brown rice bowlsClean and spiralize your veggies, or cut into thin matchsticks or very small cubes. I like the long strips that spiralizing makes, but it's not necessary. Since we're leaving the veggies raw, you do want to cut them up quite a bit so they are easier to chew and enjoy in this meal, but there are lots of options here. So feel free to change it up if you like. 

To make the sauce, simply stir together the mayo, reserved marinade, and chili garlic sauce. Taste and if you want more heat, add more chili garlic sauce or even just an extra sprinkle of red pepper flakes. 

Spicy Brown Rice Bowls (via abeautifulmess.com)  Once everything is prepared, assemble your bowls, drizzle on the sauce, and top with cilantro. Ta-da! Dinner is ready to be devoured. :) Enjoy! xx. Emma

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

Make your own essential oil diffuser! (click through for tutorial)      Like most people, I love my house best when it is clean and when it smells good too. I think I care about the fresh scent thing maybe more than usual because we have two cats (and two litter boxes), and I'm always terrified that we could become that house that announces multiple pet ownership to guests when they first walk in the door and take a sniff – NOOOOOOO! I have used candles in the past, but I'm also trying to make our house as healthy and natural as possible these days, so I thought it would be so fun to learn how to make my own essential oil diffusers so I can freshen the house without any icky toxins or chemicals. The best part is it will literally take you under a minute to make your own in whatever scent you choose!

Make your own essential oil diffuser! (click through for tutorial)      Supplies:
-essential oil of your choice (You'll want a total of .5-1.0 oz per diffuser depending on how full you want your diffuser to be.)
-sweet almond oil
-diffuser reeds
-glass or ceramic jar with a small neck or opening (I reused a container from an empty diffuser.)

Make your own essential oil diffuser! (click through for tutorial)      Clean out your container with hot soapy water and rinse well. Add in a ratio of 30% essential oil and 70% almond oil. Swirl the jar to mix. If the opening in your jar is too small to pour in the oils without making a mess, you can mix them together first in a glass measuring cup or bowl, and then pour them in with a funnel once mixed.

Make your own essential oil diffuser! (click through for tutorial)      I used a sweet orange oil and added in some peppermint oil as well. Smells so good!!

Make your own essential oil diffuser! (click through for tutorial)      Place 8-12 diffuser reeds in the jar, and give the oil some time to travel up the reeds before you start really smelling the scent. When the scent starts to lessen, simply flip the reeds upside down and the sent will be renewed. Repeat the process when the oil is gone!
Make your own essential oil diffuser! (click through for tutorial)      Make your own essential oil diffuser! (click through for tutorial)      Now, wasn't that easy?? There are so many combinations you can do besides the sweet orange/peppermint too. Try lavender/lemon/rosemary, grapefruit/lime/wild orange, or sandalwood/sage/lavender. The combinations are endless!

As I was making this, I was on hold with both an airline that had "temporarily" lost my luggage and a tax office that was saying we still owed taxes I had already paid, so you can bet I appreciated the aroma therapy from the oils!! I'm sure those of you who are really into essential oils have different places you like to get your oils from (I've been starting to buy mine from Young Living and Mountain Rose Herbs). So let me know if you have a source you love! xo. Laura

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

5 Reasons You Should Take a Break From Watching TV (click through for more!)    About a month ago, my husband Todd and I took a week-long break from TV. I just felt overall like we were watching too much of it and relying on it to be our sole source of entertainment. It seemed like a good time to cut the cord for a bit. A week without TV may not sound like that big of a deal to some, but I have never taken a purposeful break from that flickering light of the television ever before in my life (and I just really love TV in general), so it felt like a very big deal to me. While there were certainly ups and downs to the whole experience, I would totally recommend that you give it a try if you haven’t lately and here’s why:

You just might be addicted (and not even know it): I think the first day was a bit of a sobering experience for me to realize how much I really missed and felt like I needed television. I used to keep the TV on low in the background all day when I lived alone in an apartment because I liked the comfort of hearing other voices, and since my spouse travels a lot for work, I still keep up that habit most days. Having just silence was a bit unnerving to say the least and I really didn’t like it at first. However, by the end of the week, I could appreciate the other sounds that would normally be drowned out by the noise of a show – the birds singing in the yard, kids playing down the street, crickets chirping at night. I would have missed all those other great sounds if the TV was on just to fill the dead space. I also realized how much I rely on it at night and as a relaxation ritual. I came to realize at the end of the week that I think some TV is healthy for me as a way to space out and not have to do anything creative or cerebral for a while. Even too much of a good thing like creative projects or brain busting books or projects can wear you out after a while if you don’t have some relatively mindless downtime. So, some TV can be great for that downtime, but I realized it had been my only option to unwind and relax.

5 Reasons You Should Take a Break From Watching TV (click through for more!) You’ll engage with others more: This was kind of a big one for me. I absolutely love to watch TV while I eat for some reason. So once it wasn’t an option for me anymore, I would sit at the table with Todd for meals instead. Not watching TV while I ate made me slow down a bit and gave me another chance to interact with him instead. Since we especially love to catch up on shows at nighttime, we decided to have a few game nights instead and had a lot of fun playing card games and eating snacks with each other (or some invited friends). Even if you live alone, you can use the extra time to make the coffee date with a pal you’ve been putting off or schedule a longer-than-usual FaceTime call with your mom. Connect a bit more!

5 Reasons You Should Take a Break From Watching TV (click through for more!)  You’ll rekindle your forgotten hobbies (and may learn something new):
Cutting back on TV is a great way to finally get back into whatever hobby you’ve been pushing aside because you just didn’t feel you had the time or energy to spend on it. I spent more time doing things I really wanted to do and exercised more too! Hey, when you take away TV and you’re really bored, suddenly exercising sounds more fun than usual! Organize a dodgeball game or get back into sewing – this is the time to get back into it!

You’ll find out what amount and kind of TV is really worth it:
Like I said, I realized that some TV is helpful for me to unwind a bit from the day, but you’ll notice that you miss certain things a lot more than others and it may not all be necessary. If you have more than one TV platform (like cable and Netflix or Netflix and Hulu), you may realize that you were only missing one of those platforms and the other may not be necessary. I realized that I don’t really enjoy a lot of the “intense and constant screaming” reality TV shows as much as I thought I did. Not having those whiny voices floating through the house felt more peaceful, and I didn’t miss them. TV can also feature shows that have some amazing writers and actors, so it’s certainly not all bad and you’ll know which shows are really the most appealing to you and which have been merely filling up your time.

5 Reasons You Should Take a Break From Watching TV (click through for more!)You may even get more sleep:
This was a perk that I didn’t really expect! My musician husband usually goes to bed between 2-3am when he’s home (he’s always been like that, but it’s even worse when they are touring a lot). The first night of “no TV” he went to bed at 11pm! It was partially because he was going through TV withdrawal and felt so bored, but I think it was also because a lot of studies say you shouldn’t stare at screens a few hours before going to bed because it messes with your sleep quality. Most nights we went to bed earlier than usual because we felt tired earlier in the night. There’s been so many nights where I probably am tired and should go to bed, but you keep doing that “just one more episode” thing, and so you don’t get as much sleep as you should. Try laying in bed with a book or listening to music and see which other things help prepare your brain for sleep.

When the dreaded week of “no TV” was over, I didn’t even turn it back on until late at night the first day it was allowed again. I was enjoying the quiet (something I had been a bit afraid of before) and didn’t want to mess up the peaceful zone I had created. Of course at some point I remembered that I had missed a few episodes of The Mindy Project and proceeded to turn it back on, but it felt more like I was in control of what and how much I wanted to watch instead of the other way around. Have you ever taken a break from TV? Did you feel like it was helpful for you in some way? xo. Laura

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

Sherbet Water Marble Mani  Mani time has become a weekly ritual for me. It's a time for me to put my feet up, catch up on the latest episode of The Bachelorette (anyone?) and soak in the quiet while the littles are in bed for the night. I always like to joke that when the house is messy, my hair has been in a bun for 3+ days, and I'm still in my PJs at 4:00PM... that at least my nails are lookin' good. ;) 

Today I'm SO excited to teach you how to do this gorgeous, sherbet-inspired, water marble technique for your next mani night. This one requires a little patience and a little more time than usual, but the results are stunning and so impressive! I'm also going to sneak in some great pro tips so that your water marble turns out beautifully since marbling can get a little technical. 

Sherbet Water Marble ManiSupplies:
-distilled water (make sure it's room temperature, very important!)
-medium sized glass or bowl
-Scotch tape
-handful of Q-tips 
-pointed tool (I used a kabob stick, but you could also use a toothpick or a needle.)
-polish remover
-small, stiff makeup brush 
-3-5 bottles of nail lacquer (avoid glitters; cream colors tend to work best)
-top coat

Sherbet Water Marble Mani     Step One: Paint your nails with a white base and make sure you let it dry completely. I used the color Snow White by Zoya. This will really help the marbling look vibrant! A quick pro tip on my polish selection – I suggest nail lacquers over polishes. They seem to work much better with this technique. I personally love using the Zoya polishes because not only are they great for marbling, but they are also 5-free – a great, more natural choice!!

Step Two: Tape off your fingernail. I usually suggest just doing one finger at a time. I think three pieces of tape typically work best. One to go around the bottom of your nail and one to go on each side of your nail. This doesn't have to be perfect, just get it as close as you can to the outline of your nail. It definitely helps make the clean up process easier!

Sherbet Water Marble Mani      Step Three: Pour your room temperature, distilled water into a medium sized glass or bowl. The water can really affect how your polish spreads, so make sure you pay extra attention to this step. Some people have luck with just a bottle of room temperature water too!

Step Four: To make this step easier, I like to line up my polishes and take the caps off so they are easy to get to when I need them. It's important to be semi-quick with this step so that the polish doesn't dry on the surface of your water too quickly. To get the sherbet color scheme, I used the colors, Snow White, Blu, Tiana, Kitridge and Darcy. Starting with the white, hold the brush very close to the surface of the water letting a droplet fall in. (If you let the droplet fall from too high of a distance, it will just sink to the bottom of your glass.) You should notice that it spreads pretty quickly. Switching between colors, continue to add more drops of polish until you create a bullseye. The more drops you do, the more marbled your polish will look. I suggest somewhere between 6-12 drops. The reason I suggest avoiding glitters or polishes that are too thick is because they tend to have a difficult time spreading correctly in the water, making it more difficult to get your bullseye. 

To achieve my marbled look, I added a drop of white between every few colors. Since my white base won't come through, I wanted to make sure there was still some white in this particular look. The beauty of this project is that you have creative freedom to vary your color order. Each nail will turn out differently and perfectly imperfect. :)

Step Five: With your pointed tool, start on one of the outer colors and draw lines into the center to create your marbled design. This is the really fun part! Again, you want to be quick with this step so that your polish doesn't completely dry before you get a chance to apply it to your fingernail. :) Another pro tip, don't start with your pointed tool on the outer most ring of your bullseye since it's likely already dry. I usually start with the second most outer ring and go toward the center.

Sherbet Water Marble Mani       Step Six: With your taped off finger, lay your nail onto the part of the marbled design you want at a 45 degree angle until your finger is about halfway emerged into the water. Remember, where you lay your finger on the design is what will end up on your nail, so pick your favorite part of your marbled art!

Step Seven: With your finger still in the water, grab a Q-tip. You'll want to get as much of the excess polish off the surface of the water before taking your finger out so it doesn't mess up your design. I like to carefully blow on the surface of the water to dry the polish and swirl the Q-tip in the water to get the extra polish out. The same swirly motion you would use to get cotton candy on a stick! ;) Once you have most of the polish off the surface, carefully pull your finger out of the water. Ta-da!! 

Sherbet Water Marble Mani        Step Eight: Carefully remove the tape from your finger to reveal your beautiful marbled design! Now it's time to clean up your nail to get the excess polish off and give it a clean, fresh look. I love using small, stiff makeup brushes to clean up my polish. You can easily pick up a great one at the drugstore. Just make sure it's small enough and stiff enough to really be precise around your nail. Dip your brush in the remover and work carefully around your cuticle to clean everything up. This is really the trick to making it look fancy and professional!

Step Nine: Don't skip this step! Grab a good topcoat and polish up your marbled nail. This really helps smooth out any bumps or imperfections and also keeps your marbled art lasting longer! Using a topcoat can really extend the life of your manicure and help prevent chips. You don't have to wait until your polish is completely dry before applying your top coat. Pro tip, swipe a little top coat on the top edges of your nail to really seal it in and help prevent early chipping. 

Repeat these steps for each nail that you want to marble! You can choose just to do a few accent nails, which looks completely lovely OR you can go for the showstopper and get marble crazy!

Sherbet Water Marble Mani Sherbet Water Marble Mani
I just adore how each nail looks different and how beautiful and professional they look! There are endless patterns and color schemes you can try too! This just might be the perfect DIY mani for your next girls' night?! I think yes! :) Lots of love, Sav.

Credits//Author and Photography: Savannah Wallace. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions. 


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