Emma and ElsieHello, April! Time to go through our favorite posts from March. Ready to take a look back?

Sky high lemon meringue pieFrench toast bitesLavender latte milkshakeStir fry breakfast quinoaFood is a good place to start, right? We showed you how to make sky high lemon meringue pie,  peaches + ricotta pancakes, French toast bites, Josh's sweet potato + bacon hash, lavender latte milkshakes, stir fry breakfast quinoa + wild rice, flourless chocolate chip cookies, cheesy baked cauliflower and more!

Messy Box subscriptionMessy Box Sew with Us e-courseWe launched a monthly scrapbooking subscription, Messy Box, and a new e-course, Sew with Us. Sew exciting! ;)

Make your Own Photo CandleHomemade bath bombsGem mirror DIYMake your own pineapple night lightWe shared plenty of fun DIYs to try like transferring a photo to a candle, invisible bookends, homemade bath bombs, tabletop tic tac toe, gem mirror (+ easy glass cutting technique), suede colorblocked catchall, pineapple night lights, and more.

How to marble with shaving cream and inkWeaving with Wool RovingBleach-spotted fabricStamped leather passport holderAnd crafts! We showed you how to marble with shaving cream and ink, how to make granny squares (and a blanket), weaving with wool roving, how to make a buffalo plaid stamp set, bleach-spotted fabric technique, quilted laptop sleeve, and how to make a stamped leather passport holder.

Designer Dates with Lulie Wallace At Home with Shailey MurphyIt's always fun to peek inside other spaces. We shared Lulie Wallace's beautiful studio and this amazing home.

A Beautiful Mess Brooklyn travel guideThe Madonna Inn20 things every traveling gal needsMarch was filled with travel posts. We loved this Brooklyn, NY travel guide. Elsie went to the famous Madonna Inn, and we shared 20 things that every traveling gal needs. 

And if you saw our first post this morning, you might agree that April is already off to a good start. :) xo. The ABM Team

A Beautiful Mess Doc PosterWe are soooo excited to finally announce A Beautiful Mess: The Documentary!! It's been so hard keeping it a secret after almost a year of having cameras following us around all the time gathering footage.

Our good friend Brandon Goodwin had just wrapped up his work on Linotype and was looking for his next documentary project. He approached us about potentially doing one on A Beautiful Mess, and at first we kind of shrugged it off. We just didn't think he'd get much of a story out of us, but this past year has been such a roller coaster! It's so amazing he was here to capture it all. Anyway, we'll blog more about the whole process and everything that went into it later, but for now check out the trailer!!

A big thank you and congrats to Brandon and everyone at Goodwin Films for bringing this project to life. It turned out so beautiful! xo. Elsie + Emma

All the Light we Cannot SeeHi, guys! I hope you all enjoyed this book as much as I did. For me, trying to pick out one book to read is like picking out my favorite star…I pretty much like them all because they’re all brilliant in their own way! (OK…maybe not ALL, but you get the idea.) But after reading reviews about All the Light We Cannot See, if felt like the right one for this month’s book club. 

I’ve read so many WWII/Holocaust novels both fiction and nonfiction, watched documentaries, seen movies, been to museums and concentration camps, etc. I used to be obsessed with the topic throughout junior and high school. So I was actually a little hesitant to read this book because I feel like I’ve covered that topic pretty thoroughly for myself, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a completely new take, new viewpoint on the subject. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book from the standpoint of a Hitler youth. It was fascinating and horrifying at the same time to watch the brainwashing taking place and how Werner reacted to all of it. 

On top of that, Anthony Doerr’s writing is so beautiful. It was such a pleasure to read just for the sake of the writing. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar, said, “Anthony Doerr sees the world as a scientist, but feels it as a poet…” I think that sums it up precisely. I haven’t read any of Doerr’s other works, but I definitely intend to. How about you? 

OK…I could talk about this book endlessly, but this is a post, not a dissertation! So let’s get to some questions! (THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!)

1. First of all, did you like the book overall? Why or why not? Along with that, did you like Doerr’s style of writing? 

This is always a big deal to me, but I know not everyone thinks about it. I can hate a story but love the writing, or vice versa. In this case, I loved both the story and the writing. I love a book that's a page turner yet savory at the same time. You can't wait to read the next sentence, but you can't help but dwell on the one you just read because there's so much meaning packed into it and it's just so beautifully and well-written. This might seem a bit sentimental or dramatic, but nothing pleases more than a well-constructed sentence. Except maybe a well-constructed dessert. :) So Doerr’s style suited me perfectly. I love poetic, beautiful, well-written descriptions, but not when they go on for pages. He was so succinct, putting a whole world into one sentence. Like this one when he was talking about the boys at school with Werner, “They are each a mound of clay, and the potter that is the portly, shiny-faced commandant is throwing four hundred identical pots.” I was underlining so many great sentences that I just stopped at some point because there were too many! 

2. Along with style, how did you feel about the time going back and forth between future and present? 

Usually this doesn’t bother me in a novel, and I often like it. But in this book, I didn’t. I feel like it would’ve been easier to understand and just as dramatic and interesting if it had been written chronologically. There was so much intensity at the end of the story that kept getting interrupting by returning to the present. So I wasn’t crazy about that. But that’s just me! 

3. Favorite character? 

I loved all the characters and how they were developed and the roles they represented, but I really loved Madame Manec and the part she played in the story. I have a thing for spunky women, and she fit that role to a T. :) I was so excited for her when she got involved in the resistance, and a couple of her lines seemed to sum up the book for me. “‘Seventy-six years old,’ she whispers, ‘and I can still feel like this? Like a little girl with stars in my eyes?’” Doing something right, noble, just brings life to your veins, is rejuvenating. 

And then this conversation between her and Etienne when she’s trying to get him involved: 

“Then help us.”
“I don’t want to make trouble, Madame.”
“Isn’t doing nothing a kind of troublemaking?”
“Doing nothing is doing nothing.”
“Doing nothing is as good as collaborating.”

4. What do you think? Do you agree with Madame? Is doing nothing a kind of troublemaking…as good as collaborating? 

I tend to agree with her. This was something Werner had to deal with when he stood by and watched Fredde get bullied and beat. Think of all the people who stood by and did nothing. If they had all risen up and done something, what changes might’ve been made, people been saved so much sooner? You can’t redo history, but you can stop it from being repeated in the same way. I’m getting preachy…let’s move on. :)

5. What did you think of the main character being blind? How did this change the story for you? 

I thought it was fascinating to “see” through Marie-Laure’s eyes. I thought Doerr did an excellent job of helping us use different senses to imagine what was going on in the story. Though because she’d had help all along, it wasn’t until everyone was gone that I really was able to imagine what it would be like to be blind. (As much as one can without actually experiencing it, of course.) I felt terrified for her and terrified at that thought of not being able to see and especially having no one to help you see. I thought this gave an extra texture to the story that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. 

6. Is it easy or difficult for you to believe in curses and things of that nature? The supernatural, if you will? More specifically, did you believe that if Werner had had the stone at the end, he might’ve been saved? 

Though I thought the ending was tragic and not the way I wanted it to go, I felt like Werner did the right thing by letting that cursed stone go. It was the best way for him to end his life…doing the right thing, which he’d struggled to do all along. Even if it wasn’t truly cursed, it was obviously causing problems for people who obsessed about it and just seemed like a dangerous thing to have around. Do I think he would’ve survived if he’d had the stone with him? That’s hard to say…especially since this is fiction, but the romantic dreamer in me wants to believe the stone would’ve saved him, and then he could’ve gotten rid of it. :) 

7. Was anyone else annoyed by the conversations that happened at the end of the story???

I wanted Jutta and Volkheimer to have a much deeper conversation, and I wanted the same for Jutta and Marie-Laure. There was so much to say and so much that was left unsaid. I especially wanted Jutta to tell Marie-Laure that Werner loved her. A person can live on that kind of information for a lifetime! But perhaps the past is best left in the past, and it’s best to leave old wounds alone. But no, I would’ve wanted to know the person who saved me was also in love with me. 

8. What did the title mean to you? 

At first and even throughout the book I felt that it was talking about goodness that we can’t see. Of course, with Marie-Laure being blind, the title could be read literally for her. But Doerr explains that he meant it literally…as in the literal light we can’t see such as in radio waves, and he also meant it metaphorically. He said, “...that there are countless invisible stories still buried within World War II — that stories of ordinary children, for example, are a kind of light we do not typically see. Ultimately, the title is intended as a suggestion that we spend too much time focused on only a small slice of the spectrum of possibility.”

I could ask a million more questions about Werner’s training, the events with Fredde, what happened to Jutta, etc. This book was so rich. But I’ll let you have a turn now! Feel free to discuss anything about the questions above or add anything that really stood out to you that we haven’t covered yet. Looking forward to reading your comments! -Sarah

P.S. Big thanks again to Sarah for moderating this month! Also for any of you who have asked, we will be taking a break from the book club next month. I'd like to change up how we present it and offer interaction, so we're looking into ideas on that in the mean time.

Make this $240 Anthro necklace for only $40! (click through for tutorial)        Although there are so many great things that the Internet has to offer, there are a few downsides as well to the old world wide web. While I love that I can choose from a seemingly endless online pool of items to buy, everyone knows the pain of clicking on a Pinterest photo only to see that either the item isn’t actually for sale or it sold out two years ago and it’s never coming back. Of course, if you are a DIYer, that may not be the end of the road for you! Take for example this adorable two strand pendant necklace from Anthropologie. It was sold out by the time I got to it. So, I thought why not try to create something similar from supplies I can find?

Make this $240 Anthro necklace for only $40! (click through for tutorial)         Necklace supplies:
-gold eye pins
-faceted black onyx oval beads (around 8 mm long)
-gold cable chain
-2 gold hammered rectangle blanks
-6 gold jump rings and 1 lobster claw closure (or any other type of closure you like)

You’ll also need:
-round jewelry nose pliers
-flat nose pliers
-wire cutters (buy them in a set if you don't already have some!)

Make this $240 Anthro necklace for only $40! (click through for tutorial)     First you’ll want to link together your beaded sections. Take an eye pin and place a bead onto the wire. Use the flat nose pliers to bend the remaining wire at a 90 degree angle and trim the wire about 10mm from the bend with the wire cutters. Use the round nose pliers to bend the wire back in the opposite direction into a loop. At first you’ll use the part of the pliers near the wider end to create the overall loop and then the skinny end to adjust the loop as needed. Right before you close the loop with the pliers, slip the eye of the next eye pin onto the loop you’re about to close so it will connect to the next bead. Continue this process until you have 10 beads in a row, and then make another separate row of 10 beads.

Make this $240 Anthro necklace for only $40! (click through for tutorial) Make this $240 Anthro necklace for only $40! (click through for tutorial)  Connect the two strands of 10 beads with a jump ring, and then connect your hammered rectangle onto that first connecting jump ring with another jump ring. Now you have the bottom strand of your necklace! Repeat the process again with two separate rows of 7 beads instead of 10 beads for the top necklace strand.

Make this $240 Anthro necklace for only $40! (click through for tutorial)   Once you have your two beaded strands with the hammered blanks attached, cut a piece of chain that is 16" long with your wire cutters and attach both ends of the chain to your longer beaded strand (just open up the eye pin end loops enough to slip the end of the chain onto the loop and close it again with your pliers). Repeat the process with an 11" inch chain for the shorter strand. Use the wire cutters to cut both chains apart in the exact middle of each chain so you can attach your closure.

Make this $240 Anthro necklace for only $40! (click through for tutorial)    Use a jump ring to attach one end of the long chain and one end of the short chain together and attach that jump ring to one side of a lobster claw closure. Repeat the process with the other sides of the chains and the other half of the closure. That’s it! Your necklace is done!

Make this $240 Anthro necklace for only $40! (click through for tutorial)          Make this $240 Anthro necklace for only $40! (click through for tutorial)While the original necklace cost $240, the necklace supplies for my DIY version only cost around $40 instead—what a savings!! Since you are the boss of this DIY, you can also make the chain longer or shorter and vary the amount of beads to your liking as well. It’s moments like these where both the DIY and the thrifty side of my brain are united in utter happiness and all is right with the crafting world. Think you'll get in on the savings game too? xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Laura Gummerman and Janae Hardy. Photos edited with Stella from the Signature Collection.

Learn to weave your own pillow with this detailed tutorial. Get the full instructions on www.aBeautifulMessWoven pillow tutorial for A Beautiful MessDon't let the wall hangings have all of the fun!

Once you've figured out the basics of weaving, you can make all kinds of household decor. I've long been inspired by flatweave kilim rugs and love seeing how so many are repurposed into pillows. So I decided to see if I could make something on my lap loom that would have the same kind of texture.

I used cotton and wool yarns because I wanted something that wouldn't pill easily and would stand up to being used on a daily basis. I was able to finish this decorative pillow in two long sittings at my lap loom. After finishing this size, I'm determined to obtain a larger loom so I can make a standard 14" x 14" or 16" x 16" size.

-lap loom or handmade loom. Mine is about 12" across from peg to peg, but you can DIY your own or purchase a larger loom for a larger pillow. 
-cotton yarn for your warp
-natural fiber yarn (cotton or wool) yarns for your weaving
-two cuts of fabric measuring about 2" longer and wider than the finished weaving. A fat quarter would work really well for the size shown. One layer is to back the weaving so you don't have Poly-fil poking through any gaps, and the other layer will contain the Poly-fil and be the fabric on the back side that you see. 
-Poly-fil or natural stuffing
-tapestry needle
-shed stick (optional and not shown)
-access to sewing machine. You can also hand stitch the pillow together but be sure to use short stitches for a more finished look.

Step1Step One: Warp your loom. As always, you can find more detailed instructions on the basics of weaving in this post and more photos on how to create shapes in your weaving in this post

Due to the size of my loom, I needed to make the pattern something that would work horizontally as a pillow so I had to think ahead with my shapes and colors. I also had to think about how it would look stuffed as a pillow and added a little thickness to the edges since about 1/4" of the perimeter would be folded under when sewn to the back of the pillow. 

I wove across the bottom of my weaving about 1/2" to stabilize things and to add some contrast to what I knew would be a colorful top. Then I created my edges in black by weaving ten warp rows in on each side (well, nine on one side. oops!) and then reducing a warp row after every two weft rows. Once I got down to three warp rows, I increased a warp row after every two weft rows. For more details on creating shapes, particularly triangles, see steps eleven through nineteen in this post

My tip for making your edges symmetrical is to do one edge until you run out of yarn and then do the other side. Then switch back to the first side and then to the second until you're done. It'll help keep your points lined up! 

After finishing my black edges, I added another 1/2" of white cotton to the top so that it would match the bottom. 

Fill in your shapes and negative spacesStep Two: I went back and added a diamond in the center knowing I wanted a little bit more color. Had I had the patience, I might have added another smaller diamond on each side of the center one, but I wasn't sure if I wanted it to be that busy. I did decide to add some rya knots to give it more texture but needed to fill in some of my empty space before I added those.

Step ThreeStep Three: I cut cotton yarn so that I had three strands per rya knot. I ended up with eight rya knots to fill in my space. For more details on how to add rya knots, see steps 17-22 in this post

Step FourStep Four: Once they were in place, I continued weaving and filling in my negative space. I was careful to press each row down to keep things tight and secure as I went. You can do this with a weaving fork or your fingers. 

Counter Soumak stitchStep Five: Before working around my diamond, I decided to add a layer of white to outline it. I just stitched a loop around each warp row as I followed the outline of the diamond. This is a counter soumak stitch. 

Step SixStep Six: Again, I wove in the negative space with more of the blue cotton yarn. I tend to weave counter clockwise around shapes to fill things in but you could also work from the bottom up on both sides and then continue with one of the lengths all the way across the top.

Add more tasselsStep Seven: Once I got near the space on the other end where my rya knots needed to be, I flipped my loom upside down. I wanted my knots to be facing opposite directions and lying flat with the ends pointing away from the center. Flipping it just made it easier to tie them in that direction.

Step EightStep Eight: Once my rya knots were added, I turned it back the way it started. I folded my rya knots over and filled in the weaving down to the row of rya knots. Then I flipped the rya knots the way they were supposed to lay and filled in the rest of the negative space. I trimmed my knots down to keep things tidy, but you can keep yours long and wild if you like that look.

Back of weavingStep Nine: Instead of weaving in my ends on the back side, I just tied them in double knots to secure them. They weren't going to be adding much bulk and I knew they wouldn't be seen once I had turned it into a pillow. If you want to stop here and keep your weaving just as it is, I suggest stitching them down the back of a row and trimming them off as in step 36 of this tutorial.

Remove your weaving from the loom and tie knots with your long strands as close as you can to the top of your weaving as shown at the end of this tutorial. Almost finished!

Step TenStep Ten: Cut your two pieces of cotton fabric to measure about 2" longer and wider than your weaving. I used a printed cotton and a white cotton. 

Step ElevenStep Eleven: Place the white cotton fabric down first and then the printed cotton fabric on top of it with the right side of the fabric facing you. Then place the weaving face down and centered on your printed fabric. Pin them together around the edges of the weaving. 

Step TwelveStep Twelve: Starting near the middle of one of the long edges, stitch along the perimeter of your weaving with the edge of the presser foot running along the edge of your weaving. This will create about 1/4" of space between your seam and the edge. Stitch all the way around until you get about 4" from where you started. You can see the seam on the back side above. Cut your corners off but don't cut through your weaving or the seam.  

Note: If you don't have access to a sewing machine, you can stitch this by hand. Just make small stitches.

Stuff and Stitch Up-Step ThirteenStep Thirteen: Turn your pillow right side out and poke your corners out with something pointed but sort of dull. Also, make sure your white fabric is pressed up against your weaving. You want to create a pocket to insert your stuffing in so that the stuffing is sandwiched in between the two fabrics, not the weaving and the fabric. Then use a needle and thread to blind stitch your opening shut. 

An afterthought: Throw in some crushed lavender or rosemary along with your stuffing for a lightly scented treat. Just be sure not to add anything that might leave a stain on your fabric or weaving.

Finished Woven PillowTa-da! Fluff your tiny pillow and place it somewhere that needs a little more personality. You've suddenly added some magic to your space! 

Woven Pillow DIYWoven Pillow Tutorial for ABMOnce you've woven yourself a pillow, you get to cozy up next to it with a good book. Mandatory rest time has never looked so fancy! -Rachel

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


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