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Hey pals! We are so so so excited about our second month of Happy Mail since our relaunch in February. This month is fun and cheerful with a collection of warmer toned greeting cards (lots of great multi-purpose cards!), a mini journal, gold foil, a postcard, and a VERY fun extra treat this month—an enamel pin! This pin is close to our hearts and may look familiar to you because it’s the A Design Kit logo (you can read more about A Design Kit here)! We thought this would be a fun way to celebrate its launch and share a really cute pin with our subscribers since it’s such a colorful design.

Our featured artist for the month is Arielle Vey. You’ve probably seen her photography prints in a lot of homes on the blog—she’s so talented and the gorgeous floral print lent itself perfectly to the Happy Birthday card included in this month’s kit. You can also find her on instagram at @ariellevey (her feed and stories are amazing)! If you know you want to subscribe, go ahead and click here.

Let’s take a closer look at this month’s Happy Mail:

Hi friends! I’m so happy to share this project with you today! I have been working hard on finding homes for our photos throughout our home. In addition to catching up on ALL our photo books, one of my current goals is to fill our home with family memories.

In these digital times, it’s TOO EASY to leave my photos on my phone for years at a time without printing them out. But each time I do print, I get SO happy and motivated! Today, I partnered with our friends at Canon USA to make a big photo display with a 16×20-inch frame and 32 family snapshots from our past two years.

As you all know, I typically don’t use anything but my PIXMA iP8720 (which I adore and cannot recommend enough), but for today’s post I used Laura’s printer while I was waiting for an order of ink to arrive (it’s good to have a neighbor with a full supply of ink, you know what I’m saying?). I’m still loyal to my...

I am always on the lookout for pretty-yet-easy nail tutorials because, well, I guess I’m just usually more of a simple gal when it comes to my nails! I love a lot of elaborate things in other categories, but I usually like a less-is-more approach when it comes to manicures. I saw a picture of some pretty polished nails sporting some thin gold stripes and I thought that nail tape would be the perfect way to replicate the look and it’s waaaay easier than trying to freehand those tiny stripes with a brush! Supplies:
-thin gold nail tape
-nude or light pink nail polish
top coat
-sharp nail scissors or small sewing scissors
cuticle oil (optional)
Paint your nails with two coats of your favorite nail polish (the one I used is a 5-free polish!) with dry time between each coat.

Here in central Texas, spring has officially arrived and the warm weather is making its way in. Everything is in bloom and I could not be more excited to see all the wildflowers start to pop up around town. Unfortunately, the flowers won’t last more than a few weeks, so to keep the spring feeling going all the way through summer, I created a delicate crepe paper flower garland to adorn my mantel. Now I can enjoy the pretty spring florals inside and outside of my home.

Crepe paper flowers may seem a little intimidating to try, but they can really be as simple or as complex as you want to make them. So start easy and work your way up to the more complex flowers. And I promise the crepe paper is more forgiving than you might think! And when they are all strung together on a garland, you really won’t see that one misshapen petal or gap. I promise!

-crepe paper rolls in shades of pink, yellow,...

Hi friends, it’s Emma. Yes, this is the back of my head but I’m still saying hello. My friend, Erin Wheaton, is going to share this adorable heart shaped braid tutorial with you. Erin is a stylist at Blu Skies Salon in my town (Springfield, Missouri!) and a national educator for Paul Mitchell. If you love colorful hair or learning from a hair pro, you should also check her out on IG because she’s always doing something fun, especially in her Stories. She’s @erinwheaton.

Take it away, Erin …

I always feel like those months right in between winter and spring I get the urge to overhaul my style—whether it’s my closet, home, or hair, I always crave something fresh and new! But usually I’ve got so much on the calendar towards the beginning of the year, so there’s not a whole lot of time to get too crazy. And while I was able to do this ultra-cute heart braid on Emma, it’s not as intricate as it might look—which who isn’t all about that?! Work smarter, not harder, right? SO, with this braid, you’ll be able to...

Almost three years ago, I began my own “journey” to reduce the number of harmful ingredients in my makeup, skincare and cleaning products in our home. I started small and swapped one thing at a time. Today, I want to share a guide for anyone looking to create a cleaner, greener home in small steps.

This post is sponsored by Grove Collaborative, a website that sells natural cleaning products and personal care items. I have been trying it out for the past few months and have found a lot of new favorite products that I’ve never been able to find locally. At the bottom of this post, I’ll share a special freebie that Grove has for you, too!Here are my three tips for getting started with swapping to natural cleaning products: 

1. Stop buying any products that have artificial fragrance (if you check the ingredients and it says ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum,’ it’s probably an artificial fragrance). This small step completely changed my life.

When you see ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ on a label, this ingredient isn’t just...

If you are a lip balm addict, you probably have them spread all over the place—your purse, your car, your nightstand … well, I bet you didn’t know that you can create a lip balm that you can wear and have with you at all times! With only three ingredients you can make a moisturizing lip balm to pour into a locket with cinnamon leaf essential oil that boosts the circulation in your lips and give them a bit of a natural plump (no injections needed!).Lip Balm Ingredients:

2 tablespoons beeswax pellets
1 tablespoon coconut oil (use refined if you don’t want a coconut smell mixed in with your fragrance)
5 drops of cinnamon leaf essential oil (don’t use cinnamon bark oil on your skin, so make sure it’s cinnamon leaf)

Other supplies:
craft locket, chain, and jump ring to make a long necklace (or you can get one that’s already put together)
double boiler or glass heat-proof bowl and saucepan
pourable container with a spout

I love a bright, white kitchen, but mostly because a neutral kitchen is a nice backdrop for fun textural kitchen gadgets! Kitchens can feel bright and clean as well as cozy and welcoming. During my recent bright white kitchen renovation, I did away with an entire cabinet full of drawers, which meant I needed to use a utensil holder for the first time ever. I thought this could be the perfect opportunity to add a quirky yet sophisticated decorative element to our countertop. And here is the result!

To make this utensil holder, you’ll need to know how to use a hammer and glue. Oh, and an iron. I promise it’s a simple craft that will feel really satisfying when you can display the fruits of your labor on your kitchen countertop, next to your actual fruits.

-1 small sheet* of 3/8″ pine wood* (actual dimensions would be 1/4″)
-wire brads (I used 3/4″ length)
wood glue
duct tape
-sandpaper (120 grit)
-wood sealer (I used Minwax satin polyurethane)
-pre-glued wood veneer banding in 1″ width...

Organization! Who doesn’t need a little more of this in their daily routine to help them feel like they’re killing it at this whole adulting thing?! If you’ve got plenty of notepads on hand, thank you cards to send out, and paper documents that are time sensitive, a chic little letter holder will work some magic. Keeping things upright and within arms’ reach will help clear up valuable desktop square footage and make sure you don’t forget anyone’s birthday this year!

You can alter the width and length of this project according to your spacial needs or what types of paper items are collecting dust or multiplying overnight. Paint your wooden base to fit your aesthetic or leave it natural and seal it with a wax or poly. An organized desk is a happy desk!

-one 4″x10″ cut of pine
-three 8″ brass hoops (or four in case one doesn’t cut well)
-sturdy wire cutters
-super glue
-power drill
-5/64″ drill bit
-spray paint or acrylic paint and brush
-washi tape

Happy Sunday. We had a really great week! We spent part of the week with Jeremy’s mom and the rest of it doing a LOT of spring cleaning. If you have a toddler, you know how amazing it feels to pull all the little clothes out, reorganize them (storing some for kiddo #2 and putting away things that are way too big for next year …) and then being able to actually find what you need. Haha!

Jeremy and I haven’t had a cleaning service in close to two years now. It’s something I keep meaning to source and would be nice, but honestly we do enjoy cleaning so much. It’s therapeutic … just way slower with a 2-year-old’s “help”.

Here are 10n things I am loving …

1. Will Smith’s Instagram, which is pure gold. He’s everything!

2. New matching outfits from Rylee and Cru. I got this dress for me and this for Nova.

3. I got this book in the mail this week … SO good.

4. I picked up this rose body oil this week and it’s so nice! I’m a huge body oil fan. I put it on my entire body after every shower and now on Nova too.

5. It’s not quite spring here in Nashville, but...

I shared a little about our recent vacation to Norway earlier this week, so if you read that then you already know why we choose to go to northern Norway in the winter: hoping to see the northern lights!!!! Before we went, I had read a few articles online about the Aurora Borealis and generally what to expect (or not expect). I also read from other photographers about their experience photographing this natural phenomenon because, as a photo junky myself, I was really hoping that if we were lucky enough to see the lights that I could get a great photo that I could display in our home from the trip. After reading a bit more about it, I knew I would need to pack my tripod because a long exposure was going to be key to capturing the lights. We had also bought a drone to use on the trip (not for the lights, although I suppose you could?), so we packed that as well.

Trey and I NEVER check bags, we’ve both had bad experiences with it before. And most of the trips we go on aren’t super long (except for one month-long trip, but we drove there),...

If you are a mom, you know how important it is to have snacks at the ready at all times. But usually my kids’ snacks fall to the bottom of my bag and get covered with who knows what, which makes finding a snack on the go a difficult feat. We partnered with Wonderful Halos for this post, and I sewed up a quick mandarin orange slice snack pouch to keep all the snacks wrangled and together in my purse. The design is inspired by my families love for the naturally sweet Halos and the easy, portable, and healthy snack that they are. Now I just have to grab the pouch out of my bag for ready-to-eat snacks as soon as the kids start to fuss.

-2 large (12-by-18 sheets) of thick orange felt
-1 sheet of large thick felt
-1 orange 12″ zipper
-1 yard of HeatnBond Lite
-iron and scissors
-sewing machine and thread
-12mm jump ring and tassel (find these in the craft store on the jewelry aisle)
Wonderful Halos and other...

Right before we traveled to China, I asked my friend Elise for her advice on memory keeping with a child. I was (and am!) intimidated by the responsibility or documenting Nova’s childhood in an organized way (cough-cough). I was mainly asking her advice on organizing photo books and storing files, but Elise said to me that the BEST thing she had done for documenting her kiddos’ childhoods was 1 Second Everyday. I watched her videos (here and here) and CRIED … a lot.

So I downloaded 1 Second Everyday and started, just a week or so before we left for China. When I shared my project with Jeremy he was initially pretty disinterested. I have done a LOT of projects like this through the years, most of them highly annoying to him. Haha! But after we had Nova for just a few weeks, he watched back the seconds we had collected in China and he told me to “keep doing it no matter what”… it was so special.

Now every few weeks or so he asks to watch the whole collection back. It gets more special each time.

For people with small kids, it’s amazing because you can see them grow and you can capture all the little stages that come and go so quickly.


Recently, Trey and I went on vacation—to Norway! I shared quite a few pictures on my IG, but I wanted to share a few more details about where we were, where we stayed, and what we did because it was such an amazing trip and Norway was so beautiful (and full of kind people) that I want to encourage others to go there if they get the chance. You won’t regret it!

Why Norway, or maybe an even better place to start is why Norway in the winter?! I love to lay out on a beach as much as anyone so I totally understand that some people might scratch their heads at our vacation destination choice here. Trey and I both really wanted to see the northern lights, also called Aurora Borealis, sometime in our life. There is just something about them that seemed beautiful, a touch mystical and spooky, and a totally interesting challenge to photograph (and I LOVE photography, as you know). The northern lights is a natural phenomenon, so it’s not really like you can be guaranteed a viewing. It just doesn’t work like that; it’s probably more like whale watching (which I have never done but hopefully you get my meaning here). After doing a little research, I found multiple sources that said northern Norway during February or March would be a good option,...

While it can be so fun to make wearable items totally from scratch, my favorite DIYs tend to be the ones where you get to add something special to an existing item. Leather paint can be a great way to transform or add to leather items and I thought that a gold glitter star shoe would be the perfect accessory to add a little sparkle to my spring wardrobe!
gold leather paint
leather deglazer
-small paintbrush
matte acrylic finisher
gold glitter paint
star stickers
-yellow colored pencil to mark light leather and a white marking pen for darker leather
-cotton balls/pads or soft rag

First, you can use a leather deglazer and prepper to remove any glaze that may have been applied on top of your leather so your paint will stick better to the leather. HOWEVER, some leather shoes may have been finished with a different kind of finisher that...

It’s no secret that I love gradients. You may remember these large gradient planters or these gradient vases I made. Well, when I saw these mini egg cups in the Target dollar spot, I knew that they were just begging to be made into mini gradient planters for spring. A little bit of experimenting with spray paint later and these adorable mini planters were done and ready to display. They are perfect for a place setting for Easter or line up a bunch as a table runner, or they can even be put on your desk for a little pop of color and greenery at work.

-Spray paint in 2-3 colors for each planter
-Ceramic egg cups
-Dirt, succulents, and rocks (I actually used faux succulents and cacti I found at the craft store)

Step 1: I tried a few different methods...

The first time I had cookie butter was a life-changing experience—a spreadable cookie?? Yes, please. Cookie butter is also fun because you can make it and gift to friends in cute jars for birthdays or special occasions. We showed you guys how to make cookie butter from any cookie (Oreo cookie butter is preeeeettty amazing), but I thought it would be fun to make a version that tastes like you’re dipping right into a birthday cake, and holy cow, is it good! Sprinkles are definitely not optional on this one …
Birthday Cake Cookie Butter, makes 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups sugar cookie crumbs
1/2 cup funfetti cake mix
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons evaporated milk

Place your sugar cookies into a food processor and blend until you have fine cookie crumbs. Pour your crumbs into a bowl and add...

Lately I have been challenging myself to find spots in the house where we can eliminate waste and swap out a reusable item where we would normally do a disposable option, and I’ve decided to tackle my kitchen first! One item that most of us use a lot without even thinking about it would be paper towels! Got a spill? Paper towel. Need to dry something? Paper towel. Clean a baby’s face after dinner? Paper towel. You can really go through a lot in an average day without thinking about it. I’d been trying to use a giant rag pile under my sink more and more, and while it does help the paper towel usage, I don’t always want to dry my hands or clean off Lola with them since they can be rather stained and rough, as I tend to use them for the dirtier kitchen jobs. That’s where a roll of “unpaper” towels come in! The first time I saw a roll of these I thought it was the most genius thing I had ever seen. Reusable paper towels are basically mini cloth towels that attach together (I used the snap method on mine) so you can still have them in a roll on your counter and keep them accessible. But when you are done, you wash and reuse them...

Since this is a blog, an all white room with a random assortment of “props” doesn’t seem out of place at all. Ha! But nevertheless, I’d love to tell you a bit more about this space and give you a little tour today! As many of you know, Elsie and I own another company that is all about apps called A Color Story. Hopefully you’ve checked out our namesake photo editing app (and maybe even the desktop actions), and recently our company launched a second app, A Design Kit. We are super proud of what this little company has accomplished in a short amount of time and with a very small team (just four full-time team members at the moment, but we’re about to add one more this coming month!).

All of our Springfield, Missouri-based team works from the headquarters. Or at least that’s what I like to call it. We have a dual office space for both A Beautiful Mess and A Color Story that is located just above The Golden Girl Rum Club in our city’s downtown. We’ve shared a little tour of the main office room and front break room before, but until recently we had a third room that we weren’t really using and was kind of a combination...

One of my goals this year is to take small steps to create a greener household. Some of my goals will help to improve our air quality and reduce exposure to the harmful ingredients in our daily lives. Some are more focused on the environment and changing wasteful habits. Many are both!

I am a big believer that you don’t have to change everything at once! I think a lot of people get overwhelmed by how “bad” their lifestyle is (whether it’s the foods we eat, the products we use, the amount exercise we don’t get, etc.) and instead of making small changes, they just don’t make any. I’ve been guilty of this so many times in my life. For this reason, I now choose to focus on small steps in all the things I am seeking to improve in my life.

In January, we challenged ourselves to give up paper towels, which we were super reliant on. I started to notice that we really freaked out when we were out of or low on paper towels. It was as if we thought we couldn’t clean up if we didn’t have them—which is actually really funny.

The first step we took was ordering microfiber cloths. I got three of these 50 packs. I got more than we needed because I didn’t want us to run out...