Scrapbook Sunday: March Messy Box

Scrapbook Sunday March Messy Box (via abeautifulmess.com)Hello! It’s warming up quick in Phoenix (it’s already in the 90s!), but I’m trying to soak up all the wonderful things about this time of year. Everything is green and blooming, birds are singing, and the sun is shining bright! The citrus trees all over the city have blossoms and they smell absolutely incredible. I’m working on building garden beds at my house, so everything lately has seemed so green and lively! I was thrilled to open this month’s Messy Box and find a plant-themed kit. Since I’ve been working on my raised garden beds, I’ve been even more obsessed with plants. Does anyone else have a hard time passing up small succulents and houseplants when you see them at the store? This kit is the cutest and so perfect for spring!

Scrapbook Sunday March Messy Box (via abeautifulmess.com)
Scrapbook Sunday March Messy Box (via abeautifulmess.com)

Scrapbook Sunday March Messy Box (via abeautifulmess.com) There were three plant-related layouts I wanted to create this month. One for my urban garden I’m building, one for my collection of houseplants, and one to record the beautiful citrus trees. The colors and journaling cards from this kit are so great that I only needed a few photos to tell my garden story. This Messy Box is extra exciting because it comes with a full-sized ink pad! My kit came with a cement ink, which matched so well. I made my own journaling card with the ink and a stamp set.

Scrapbook Sunday March Messy Box (via abeautifulmess.com)
Scrapbook Sunday March Messy Box (via abeautifulmess.com) The stamp sets that come in the Messy Boxes are some of my favorite. And this month is no different! That pot and plant are so fun! I used the grow stamp on vellum to create a fun journaling card.

Scrapbook Sunday March Messy Box (via abeautifulmess.com)
Scrapbook Sunday March Messy Box (via abeautifulmess.com) The smell of all the citrus trees deserved its own layout. I used one of the 9 x 12 papers that came in the kit to create this layout. It was super simple. It’s just the paper, photos with paper Polaroid frames, and alphabet stickers.

Scrapbook Sunday March Messy Box (via abeautifulmess.com) I had so much fun creating with this Messy Box! Spring is such a wonderful time of the year, and I love capturing all the details in Phoenix while everything is lush and green. What are you documenting with your Messy Box? And does your hometown have a special spring scent? xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Hager. Photos edited with Scrapbook from the A Beautiful Mess actions.

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New Look for A Beautiful Mess

Hey friends! You may have noticed but our site is looking a little different this weekend. What gives? For the last year (yes, a whole year! crazy, right?) we’ve been working to update our site in a LOT of ways. There are a lot of things we’ve changed, we hope for the better, and I’m excited to walk you through a mini tour. First let’s look at some of things you can see, and then I’ll tell you a little more about improvements we’ve made “under the hood” too. 🙂

When you visit abeautifulmess.com, you are landing on our homepage. That’s right, we have two main views on our site. We call them the homepage and the the blog view. The blog view can be seen by clicking “skip to the blog view” or by bookmarking abeautifulmess.com/blog.

So what’s the difference + why did we want to add this homepage view? A couple reasons. First, we wanted to create some better tools and resources for you guys, in case you were looking for a certain DIY or might’ve missed a particular post we’ve done in the past. And second, we realized our site might not be as “new user”-friendly. While many of you check in on our blog regularly and are able to keep up with the chronological feed, we also get a whole lot of new or more casual visitors that found us from Pinterest or a Google search. We will have created 10 years worth of content this year, so we wanted to give those new readers quicker access to the breadth of content we’ve done over time.

However, we didn’t want to transition the site into a whole new homepage-style structure, when so many of you, our core audience (hi friends!), were just fine with the OG blog view. So we left that entirely in tact with abeautifulmess.com/blog. The latest post is up top and you scroll to see everything. We had considered adding jumps (read more) to this page but decided not to for now, although that’s a tricky one. Here’s why. Our site is extremely photo-heavy. We like it this way and have a feeling you do too. But the problem with this is it can lead to really long load times, which tends to turn readers off a site. We’ve heard from many of you that our site takes a long time to load, and we knew that adding jumps would cut down on this. But ultimately we decided that for now, we are ok with longer load times so that our site can feel more like an old-school blog. We’re exploring other solutions for cutting back on load time, and I’ll talk about that more at the end of the post.We kept our newsletter sign up in the side bar and added a freebie! When you sign up you will get an article called ’10 Tips for growing your audience organically’. Fun, right? We hope to update the freebie every now and again so that you will be getting something extra just for signing up. And if you are already signed up for our newsletter, check your inbox later today, as we’ll be sending it out to all our subscribers shortly.

On the homepage if you scroll just a little you’ll see this area called ‘What are you looking for?’ Our goal here is to keep some of the most trafficked posts on our site easily accessible, again, in case a readers lands on our site from something that may not have been linked correctly and they want to find the project or recipe they are looking for FAST. We hope this area helps! If you’re curious what some of our most popular posts of all time have been, you’ll probably find them in this area. We’re actually still updating this section, as I write this. 🙂

We’ve also added a ‘DIY Destination’ area on the homepage. We are still tweaking this area some so right now you can experience the beta version. The main idea here is to highlight tutorial videos and other DIY content by certain categories (budget, difficulty, purpose, etc.). We hope that anyone looking to make something will be able to quickly find a great resource in this area. But again, you may see some changes to this area over the next few weeks as we finalize things.

And the last thing I’ll mention for now is something that you can’t really SEE. It’s under the hood. We have moved our site to WordPress! For the last ten years we were blogging on Typepad, which we really enjoyed. But as we’ve watched WordPress grow and grow, we felt the resources available on the platform suited our needs at ABM better. So, we’ve made the switch. With well over 5,000 posts and lots of needs and users to consider, this has been a MASSIVE undertaking for us. To be honest, it was really scary and still is.

But, we felt that making this switch would allow us to have a faster load time, a better experience for our readers, and more tools available for our blogging needs. So we held our breath and took the jump into the deep end of trying to move a massive site to a new platform. I am sure we will have more tweaks and things to fix in the coming days/weeks and we’d love your help! We’d also LOVE to hear from all you fellow WP users what your favorite tools and plugins are. We are new here and we’d love to learn more as we’re excited and a bit overwhelmed by everything the platform seems to offer.

OK, that’s the new site in a nutshell. We hope you love it as much as we do—we’re excited to continue doing what we love most here on the new A Beautiful Mess. Hooray! xo. Emma + The ABM Team

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Grown Up Strawberry Shortcake Shake

Strawberry Shortcake Shake with Vodka (click through for tutorial)

Once the weather starts to warm up every year, it’s time to catch up on the things I’ve missed all winter long–creamy milkshakes, cold cocktails and fresh berries, to name a few! This vodka-laced strawberry milkshake just happens to check all those boxes. Oh, and don’t forget the shortcake rim… in case you needed one more reason to drop everything and make one right now.

This milkshake cocktail is a breeze to whip up–just throw your berries and dairy in a blender. While the shortcake crumbles are getting golden and toasty in the oven, don’t forget to whip some fresh cream to top the whole thing off! It takes 10-15 minutes to make from start to finish and way less time to polish it off. Pro tip: use a straw to to get every last drop!

Strawberry Shortcake Shake with Vodka (click through for tutorial) Grown Up Strawberry Shortcake Shake, makes two

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 inch slice of shortcake or poundcake
2 cups strawberries
1 cup vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup milk
3 oz. (2 shots) whipped cream vodka
1/2 cup whipping cream

Strawberry Shortcake Shake with Vodka (click through for tutorial) Make a simple syrup by dissolving a 1/2 cup of sugar in the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat to cool. Combine the strawberries, ice cream, milk and vodka in a blender, and blend on high speed until smooth.

Strawberry Shortcake Shake with Vodka (click through for tutorial) Chop the shortcake into breadcrumb-sized pieces. Toast in an even layer on a parchment lined baking sheet in a toaster oven or in a standard oven at 200º F for 3-4 minutes until golden and slightly dry. Meanwhile, beat the whipping cream until it begins to thicken. Add the teaspoon of sugar, and then continue beating just until stiff peaks form.

Strawberry Shortcake Shake with Vodka (click through for tutorial) Add a shortcake rim to your glasses by dipping the glasses into a 1/4 inch of simple syrup and immediately rolling the rims in the shortcake crumbles. Fill the glasses with the strawberry milkshake and top with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with a strawberry slice.

Strawberry Shortcake Shake with Vodka (click through for tutorial) Strawberry Shortcake Shake with Vodka (click through for tutorial) This cocktail reminds me of strawberry milkshakes from my childhood, but the vodka adds a fun grown up twist! If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Don’t forget to tag your photos #ABMhappyhour so I can see what you make! xo, Kayleigh

Credits // Author and Photography: Kayleigh Kosmas. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess Presets for Lightroom.

 

Print

Grown Up Strawberry Shortcake Shake

Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 inch slice of shortcake or poundcake
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 oz . (2 shots) whipped cream vodka
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Make a simple syrup by dissolving a 1/2 cup of sugar in the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat to cool. Combine the strawberries, ice cream, milk and vodka in a blender, and blend on high speed until smooth.
  2. Chop the shortcake into breadcrumb-sized pieces. Toast in an even layer on a parchment lined baking sheet in a toaster oven or in a standard oven at 200º F for 3-4 minutes until golden and slightly dry. Meanwhile, beat the whipping cream until it begins to thicken. Add the teaspoon of sugar, and then continue beating just until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add a shortcake rim to your glasses by dipping the glasses into a 1/4 inch of simple syrup and immediately rolling the rims in the shortcake crumbles. Fill the glasses with the strawberry milkshake and top with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with a strawberry slice.

 

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How to Write and Pitch a Book Proposal

How to write and pitch a book proposalHi, friends! Today I am REALLY excited because we are opening back up our course, How to Write and Pitch a Book Proposal, written by our friend and literary agent, Lindsay Edgecombe. This course was originally launched in April 2014 and after re-evaluating, adding some new images, sprucing up the text, and just generally giving this course a few updates to make it that much better, we are excited to offer it up to you all again. 

This course is designed  to help aspiring authors take their book ideas and turn them into A+ proposals that will stand out to both literary agents as well as publishers, and hopefully lead to a book deal. How to Write and Pitch a Book Proposal is not overly long—but it definitely has everything you need. I cannot tell you how much I believe in this course, but you don't have to take just my word for it. We were super excited when Anuschka Rees, the author of The Curated Closet (a book we LOVE), agreed to share her story with you:

The curated closet"I’ve wanted to write a book ever since I can remember, but I never actively pursued a career as a writer because, 'There are too many jobless writers already' and, 'It’s close to impossible to get a book deal these days' – that’s what they say, right? It wasn’t until my blog gained some traction (after 3+ years) that I started to think, 'Hey, this stuff that I’ve been writing about… that would actually make a pretty good book!' 

I started to look around for information about how one might go about not just writing a book, but then also about finding someone to publish it. I eventually stumbled across Lindsay’s course on A Beautiful Mess, read the whole thing in one go–and felt very relieved because I now had a concrete roadmap for what I had to do next. 

The course walks you through every component of a great book proposal, from your pitch letter to your chapter summaries. Two things surprised me initially: for one, that book proposals have a set structure that you need to stick to, and secondly, that a huge chunk of it should be dedicated to marketing. In other words: You need to present your potential publisher with a clear plan of who is going to buy your book and what you will do to promote it. Those chapters were definite wake-up calls because while I had already meticulously planned out each chapter of the book, I had pretty much ignored the entire business side of being an author. Thankfully, Lindsay does a great job explaining both the creative and the business components of the proposal in detail and gives you plenty of ideas for everything. There are also several examples from real authors, which I loved, and of course, lots of insider tips from Lindsay herself. I also found it very motivating that throughout the course, she emphasized that agents and publishers WANT to hear great pitches and are rooting for their authors. That little bit of extra encouragement made me feel like my proposal wasn’t going to end up in the slush pile—at least not if I gave it my best shot. 

When I finished writing my proposal, I first sent it to the same literary agency Lindsay works at because I felt like I had already gotten to know her and her philosophy through her course. I was going to research more literary agents the next week, but guess what? I didn’t need to because Lindsay replied, we chatted on the phone, and just like that I had found my agent!

Within a couple of months, Lindsay had negotiated a book deal for me, and I could start writing my book! The Curated Closet came out in September 2016 in the US and Canada, and is due to be released in several more languages. Right now I am working on my next book. This time I already have an agent, but I am still going to use Lindsay’s course as a guide to fine-tune the overall concept of the book and make sure it’s well thought out from both a creative and a business perspective."-Anuschka Rees

How to write a book proposalIf you've ever dreamed of writing a book, this course can help you shape your ideas and maybe even turn that dream into a reality. Here's what you'll learn:

•How to know if you're ready to pitch your book
•How to write an awesome pitch letter (sometimes called a query)
•How to draft an overview of your idea
•Crafting an attention-getting biography
•How to think about your potential audience
•Growing your platform as an author
•Drafting a great chapter outline

Lindsay has packed the course with encouragement as well as industry insider knowledge from her experiences in the publishing world over the past ten years. The course also includes three sample proposals as a bonus! Giving you even more guides to follow. 

How to Write and Pitch a Book Proposal is a work-at-your-own-pace e-Course, available for $15 USD. 

Lindsay, Emma, ElsieLindsay has represented Elsie and I for many years. She helped us land our very first book deal, and we are currently finishing up work on our third book. Not only is Lindsay a great agent, she is also a friend, and there is no one else I would recommend learning from more. You're going to love her and her course. 🙂 You can read a bit more about How to Write and Pitch a Book Proposal, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask us in the comments below. Thanks! -Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy, Anuschka Rees, and Emma Chapman. 

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