2017 Reader Favorites

This year is quickly coming to a close (what?!) and so we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of YOUR favorite posts from the year. I’ve compiled this list from each month’s favorites based on page views as well as engagement (like pins, shares, and comments), and it was really fun for me to look back to not only see what you all loved, but also DANG, did a lot happen this year!

One pretty common thing I noticed is that you all LOVE room tours. And we had plenty of those this past year. Elsie gave a before and after tour of her Nashville kitchen.  We actually had a bunch of bathroom tours this year too … I guess we were in the mood to fix up our get-ready spaces. 🙂 I shared a before and after tour of my master bathroom renovation. Elsie shared her home’s master bathroom, her Airbnb master bathroom, and her Airbnb second bathroom. So much tiling this year! Elsie collaborated with her friend, Kacey Musgraves, and shared a tour of her living room and dining room. So fun!Elsie and Jeremy spent a good part of this past year preparing to adopt their daughter (Nova!), so she also shared a tour of her playroom and nursery.

Other than room tours, we shared lots of DIY projects, crafts, and beauty tips/hacks throughout the year that you all seemed to love. Here’s some of your favorites …


I think we all died when we saw the Larson’s soft book they made for their daughter and mailed off to her in China. Part of their adoption process including them sending off a little book with some basic information for Nova. Ugh, so cute!  You loved Kara’s colorful indoor herb gardenYou all loved these simple DIY custom nail polish shelves. Also, Elsie’s nail polish collection puts mine to shame. Ha! We shared a lot of natural beauty products this year (we’re all about it!), but one you all seemed to really love was this homemade pink salt hairspray. Hello texture!


We shared a lot of hair tutorials this year (see all our archives here), but one you really fell for was this easy messy updo for shorter hair.  We have some of the very best DIY and craft writers around if you ask me (I guess I’m biased, but still), so I always LOVE seeing what our writers come up with and so do you! One project you loved from Rachel this year was her hand-stitched floor pouf. Maybe the cute kitten helped? 🙂I’m glad you all liked this adorable ice skate pillow DIY as much as me.


We do love to share a few more advanced construction-type projects from time to time, and although this one is a lot of effort for a DIY, it’s totally worth it! How cute is this midcentury playset??? Loved this DIY transformable hairpin leg desktop; so awesome to be able to change the shape and size in case you move or just need to set up your space differently.  This was one of my favorite projects from Mandi this year, and apparently you all loved it too. She’s doing so many beautiful and inspiring things in her new home (and she’s going to share more with you all in 2018), but we all totally fell for this Channel tufted storage banquette.  And here’s another awesome natural beauty post all about what you can do with Witch Hazel.

In addition to loving room tours and craft projects, you all love FOOD. But then again, who doesn’t? Here’s some of our top food posts from the year …

We shared 5 cold brew coffee recipes. You better believe I’ll be pulling this out again as soon as the weather warms up.  Cocktails are always pretty popular with you all, and you especially loved this boozy apple cider recipe.  Make ahead healthy dinners are always a winner, and you really loved this recipe for crockpot butternut mac and cheese. (It’s a high-protein plant-based meal, so it gets extra points from me too.)

This was a fun one! You all loved this tutorial for marbled rainbow bread.  Along with launching our new cookbook, Weekday Weekend, which is all about finding a healthy balance in your diet, we also launched a new series with the two dietitians we worked with on our cookbook. We’re calling it Ask a Dietitian and you all have been loving those posts so far. Hooray!


This was a fun seasonal post you loved: Easter Bunny pancakes!  Who doesn’t love an easy and decadent chocolate dessert? I had so many of you tag us when you made this no-bake chocolate silk pie. Clearly, it was a hit!  Call me basic, but every autumn I just want to bake with pumpkin. Thank you so much for making me feel OK in my basic-ness because you all seemed to love these Pumpkin and Tahini Chocolate Chunk cookies just as much as me. 🙂 There’s still time to make this reader favorite for NYE: Rosé soaked gummy bears.

And finally here are a few more reader favorite posts that didn’t really fit into any category—we’ll call these ‘big events,’ if that’s alright with you. 😉

Our brand Oui Fresh expanded like crazy this year!!!! We launched our own line of natural lipsticks, lip glosses, and also essential oils. We added a natural beauty box subscription, which has sold out every single month since the launch. Thank you! We also added new T-shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, and our bestselling daisy sunglasses! We have some office supplies launching soon and we’ll be bringing back Happy Mail in early 2018 (the first month is already in production). We are so glad that you all are loving Oui Fresh because we are so immensely proud of all the products we are putting out with this brand, and we are so excited to share more with you soon. We added a few new cuties to the ABM family this year. First, Laura and Todd welcomed their daughter, Lola, into the world this year—and my goodness, she is about the most beautiful baby you ever did see. I’m currently trying to convince Laura that Lola should be a baby model—she’s gorgeous. Of course, it’s no surprise, given her genes. Here’s Laura glowing at her baby shower earlier this year.

And the Larsons very recently welcomed their daughter Nova into their lives as they are all back from their China adoption trip.  And speaking of awesome moms, our own mother wrote a really awesome post this year called Raising Creativity. It’s all about lessons from the film Mary Poppins that apply to raising children to be creative, full of love and self-confidence. I am trying to convince my mom to write more articles for our blog in 2018; I’m pretty sure I have an in on that situation. 🙂  And the last two ‘big events’ I wanted to point out from the year based on what you all loved is we updated you all on a few things at our bar, The Golden Girl Rum Club. We recently got new merch that I am STOKED about and we’ll be creating a little online shop for that soon.

Last, we celebrated our 10-year blog anniversary this last summer. So if you’ve been reading for a while and want to take a walk down memory lane, you can see that super long and nostalgic post here. 🙂

Thank you for reading in 2017—we love you guys and love creating content that you enjoy! It’s both an honor and our pleasure. We have a LOT of really fun stuff already in the works for 2018, so happy New Year and stick around. xo. Emma + Team ABM

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Disco Ball Cupcakes

With 2018 just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you want to ring in the new year. For me, the desserts I’ll be making (and eating) for the occasion are typically the first thing I think about … which may or may not be a good thing. Don’t judge me! To celebrate this year, I thought that I’d make some disco ball cupcakes because what goes more perfectly with NYE than shiny, glittery disco balls?!

You might think these are cupcakes topped with fondant tiles at first glance, but NOPE, no fondant on here! Believe it or not, there isn’t anything on top of these aside from buttercream frosting and a little edible glitter. I’ve covered all the details below; follow along so that you too can start the new year off on the sweetest, sparkliest note. Disco Ball Cupcakes, makes 12 cupcakes

1 box chocolate cake mix
silver cupcake liners

For the buttercream frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
black gel food coloring
edible silver luster dust 

Mix your box cake with the ingredients listed on the package. Line cupcake pans with silver cupcake liners. Even though the recipe says you’ll be making 12 cupcakes, each disco ball is actually two cupcakes (bonus!) so fill all 24 liners. Bake cupcakes at 325°F for 25 minutes. Once baked, divide the cupcakes by the shape of their tops. Set the 12 most level cupcakes together to serve as the bases for each disco ball, and the 12 larger (more dome-shaped) cupcakes together. Allow the cupcakes to cool to room temperature.

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare your buttercream. In a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter on low speed for 1 minute. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until smooth. Add in one small drop of black gel food coloring. Mix until the color is combined. If the gray is too light, add a little more until you’ve achieved the most similar shade to silver.

In a bowl, add one of your large (domed) cupcakes and break it down with your hands until you have a bowl of crumbs. Add one large dollop of frosting into the bowl, mix together with your hands (just as you would if you were making a cake pop), and roll the mixture into a ball shape.

Lightly frost the top of one of your smaller (more level) cupcakes, and then position the cake ball on top. Use your palm to gently shape the cake ball to a dome shape. Frost with a thin layer of gray buttercream, smooth with a spatula (or your finger), and then place the cupcake in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to allow the frosting to set. Repeat the process with your other cupcakes as well, pairing each of the smaller cupcakes with a larger cupcake for the topper. You’ll notice that once the frosting sets in the freezer it becomes MUCH easier to work with—any uneven spots can easily be smoothed with your fingers once the frosting has firmed.

Take a couple of your cupcakes out of the freezer and allow them to slightly come to room temperature. As they do, make your indentations into the frosting. Use a trussing needle, toothpick, or any flat edge (ruler, spatula, etc.) to make horizontal and vertical lines across the cupcake, roughly 1/2-inch apart. If you notice your frosting is cracking as you make the indentations, the frosting is too cold. Allow it to sit untouched for a little longer if you’re having that issue.

Once your lines have been made, use your fingertip to add the silver luster dust onto the surface of each cupcake. Make sure the frosting is still cold while you’re doing this. If it’s warmed too much while you were adding the lines, place the cupcake back into the fridge or freezer for a few minutes until the frosting is firm to the touch. And voilà, a disco ball cupcake! Repeat the indenting and glittering steps with your other domed cupcakes until you have a dozen disco balls ready to party!These cupcakes do take some time with all the in-and-out of the freezer business, but they’re totally worth it. If you’re attending or hosting a New Year’s party, they are the perfect treat to ring in the new year with! xo. Alana

Print

Disco Ball Cupcakes

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • silver cupcake liners

For the buttercream frosting:

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • black gel food coloring
  • edible silver luster dust

Instructions

  1. Mix your box cake with the ingredients listed on the package. Line cupcake pans with silver cupcake liners. Even though the recipe says you’ll be making 12 cupcakes, each disco ball is actually two cupcakes (bonus!) so fill all 24 liners. Bake cupcakes at 325°F for 25 minutes. Once baked, divide the cupcakes by the shape of their tops. Set the 12 most level cupcakes together to serve as the bases for each disco ball, and the 12 larger (more dome-shaped) cupcakes together. Allow the cupcakes to cool to room temperature.

  2. While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare your buttercream. In a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter on low speed for 1 minute. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until smooth. Add in one small drop of black gel food coloring. Mix until the color is combined. If the gray is too light, add a little more until you’ve achieved the most similar shade to silver.

  3. In a bowl, add one of your large (domed) cupcakes and break it down with your hands until you have a bowl of crumbs. Add one large dollop of frosting into the bowl, mix together with your hands (just as you would if you were making a cake pop), and roll the mixture into a ball shape.

  4. Lightly frost the top of one of your smaller (more level) cupcakes, and then position the cake ball on top. Use your palm to gently shape the cake ball to a dome shape. Frost with a thin layer of gray buttercream, smooth with a spatula (or your finger), and then place the cupcake in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to allow the frosting to set. Repeat the process with your other cupcakes as well, pairing each of the smaller cupcakes with a larger cupcake for the topper. You’ll notice that once the frosting sets in the freezer it becomes MUCH easier to work with—any uneven spots can easily be smoothed with your fingers once the frosting has firmed.

  5. Take a couple of your cupcakes out of the freezer and allow them to slightly come to room temperature. As they do, make your indentations into the frosting. Use a trussing needle, toothpick, or any flat edge (ruler, spatula, etc.) to make horizontal and vertical lines across the cupcake, roughly 1/2-inch apart. If you notice your frosting is cracking as you make the indentations, the frosting is too cold. Allow it to sit untouched for a little longer if you’re having that issue.

  6. Once your lines have been made, use your fingertip to add the silver luster dust onto the surface of each cupcake. Make sure the frosting is still cold while you’re doing this. If it’s warmed too much while you were adding the lines, place the cupcake back into the fridge or freezer for a few minutes until the frosting is firm to the touch. And voilà, a disco ball cupcake! Repeat the indenting and glittering steps with your other domed cupcakes until you have a dozen disco balls ready to party!

Credits//Author and Photography: Alana Jones-Mann. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
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Cranberry Spritz

I first fell for the delicious-ness that is a Spritz almost two years ago while on vacation (see here). We were staying in a little beach town with lots of wind surfing and cute little bar/restaurants right along the shoreline and everywhere we went I kept seeing “Spritz” on the menu. I am not sure if I’d even had an Aperol Spritz before, but I quickly discovered that I loved them! They are both refreshing and flavorful, being a fairly light cocktail that still manages to showcase bold flavors.

Which sounds like the prefect beach day cocktail, right? I think so. But lately, even though the weather is cold and anything but beach-like, I’ve been in the mood for a Spritz again. So I decided to slightly change up this classic cocktail to include one of my favorite flavors of the season: cranberries. The slightly bitter taste of cranberry and Aperol go perfectly with champagne or prosecco bubbles. And cocktails with bubbles always feel right for a holiday get together or NYE, so cheers!

Cranberry Spritz

3 parts Champagne or Prosecco
1 part Aperol
1 part cranberry juice
cranberry ice cube and orange wedge, optional

Combine the first three ingredients over ice in a wine glass. Garnish and serve chilled.

If you want your drink to feel extra festive, you can freeze some cranberries in your ice cubes beforehand to add a really pretty presentation element.

This drink is pretty simple to make—just one or two servings (use a small bottle of champagne if that’s all you need) or you can open a few regular-sized bottles if you’re having a party!

This is seriously such an easy and delicious cocktail to throw together—I’m totally obsessed with them this season! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Color Story for Desktop.
Print

Cranberry Spritz

Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 3 parts Champagne or Prosecco
  • 1 part Aperol
  • 1 part cranberry juice
  • cranberry ice cube and orange wedge optional

Instructions

  1. Combine the first three ingredients over ice in a wine glass. Garnish and serve chilled.
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Quick Weave Wall Hanging DIY

The title of this tutorial may be a little misleading because weaving is never really a quick activity. However, if you’ve been dying to make your own textural weave and don’t want to spend five hours sitting down to make one, this tutorial is for you. Using chunky yarns and these specific stitches, you can fill your loom in less than half the time it usually takes to make a medium wall hanging. This design can easily be customized to fit with your home’s colors or would make a fabulous housewarming gift for a friend. Follow along to see how to make your own!

Supplies
-lap loom (mine is 13″ x 18″)
-weaving sword or ruler
-one skein of super chunky cream yarn (90+ yards)
-one skein of neutral, worsted weight yarn for bottom fringe (140+ yards)
8 oz. of merino wool roving
cotton yarn for warp
-scissors
-3″ tapestry needle

Step One: Warp your loom so that you are using the full width. Start your knot on the bottom of your loom and end with the other knot on the bottom of your loom as well for an even amount of warp rows. Brand new to warping a loom? No worries! Review this beginner’s tutorial for those steps in more detail. Once you’ve warped your loom, add in four rows of plain weave. This creates a foundation before we add rya knots. Not sure how to plain weave? Again, check back in that beginner’s tutorial for detailed steps.

Step Two: We’re going to be making extra thick rya knots, so cut about 20 strands of your neutral, worsted weight yarn to measure about 20″ long. These don’t have to all be even because we’ll be trimming them later. I made one rya knot bundle for every five warp rows. Except I had 34 warp rows instead of 35, so I just fudged on one. If you’re using a more narrow loom, you can adjust accordingly.

Step Three: Find the center of your first rya knot bundle and lay it on top of your warp rows. Wrap the end closest to the outer warp row all the way around as shown.

Step Four: Then skip the next two warp rows and wrap the other end of your bundle all the way around the fourth warp row. Imagine the two ends wrapping towards each other and then away. Step Five: Pull the ends of your bundle towards each other and adjust things so that they are centered and gently pull down. Your rya ‘knot’ should rest gently on top of the foundational plain weave you added in step one.

Step Six: Skip the fifth warp row and then repeat. This means your next bundle would wrap around the sixth warp row, skip the seventh and eighth, and then wrap the other way around the ninth. Once finished you’ll have a nice chunky fringe.

Step Seven: The next stitch is called soumak and will create a braided design. You can use one strand of yarn but using five will add a ton of texture and take up more space. This weave is all about going big!

Cut five strands of chunky yarn that are about 8′ long each. Tuck one end down between the outer warp row and the warp row next to it so that you leave a 4″ tail on the back side of your warp.

Step Eight: Wrap all five strands together around that outer warp row and bring it back up between the outer warp row and that second warp row as shown.

Step Nine: Skip two warp rows and then wrap the entire bunch (all five strands together) over the top and around the fourth warp row. Make sure you pull it up above your wrap every time to keep things consistent.

Step Ten: Continue skipping two warp rows and then wrapping all the way around the next one. You should start seeing a stair step pattern.

Step Eleven: Gently push your stair step pattern down so that it rests on top of the rya knots. You can adjust your tension on these to make sure they are consistently spaced out. See how they all slant in the same direction? When you get to the opposite end, wrap your bunch around the outer warp row twice to build up your height for the next row.

Step Twelve: When continuing your soumak in the opposite direction, continue to skip two warp rows and then wrap over the top of your next warp row. You’ll see how it starts slanting in the opposite direction of your first row. This creates the braided pattern. When you get back to where you started, tuck your tail ends around the outer row and act like you’re starting a regular weft row by going over and then under. This will tuck your ends down behind your warp again. Trim to end up with a 4″ tail.

Step Thirteen: Count your warp rows and divide by eight. For this section, we’ll be weaving figure eights with wool roving. Each braided section will be split in half with four warp rows on one side and four on the other. If you have an extra warp row or two, you can add them in with a batch of four somewhere. You’ll want to use about 24″ of roving for each braided section.

Starting on the left side of your loom, tuck about 3″ of your roving down between the fourth and fifth warp rows. Then wrap the long end of your roving all the way around the four warp rows closest to the edge and back up between the fourth and fifth warp rows.

Step Fourteen: Then wrap your roving over warp rows 5-8 and back between the fourth and fifth warp rows. Essentially you are wrapping around the first four warp rows and then the next four warp rows back and forth to create a vertical braid.

Step Fifteen: Finish with an even braid, meaning you’ve wrapped around both sections of warp rows an even amount of times. Then tuck your tail up between the sixth and fifth warp rows and then back down between the fifth and fourth. This will ensure your tail gets woven in and secured without it showing.

Step Sixteen: However many times you braided on your first vertical row is how many you should braid on the rest of your rows. Feel free to fluff your braids so that they are consistent. This takes up a big section of your warp and adds tons of texture. The best part is it doesn’t take very long to weave!

Step Seventeen: Add a section of plain weave above your braided roving rows. I think I added about 10 weft rows (each horizontal row is a weft row). Then add another two rows of soumak using the same length and amount in step seven. This keeps it balanced and consistent. Then frame out the other side of your soumak with 10 or 12 more weft rows of plain weave in the same chunky yarn.

Step Eighteen: You may not want to weave to the top of your loom every time. No worries! Gently pull individual pairs of warp rows off of the top notches. Create a lark’s knot by folding the warp yarn back behind itself.

Step Nineteen: Then bring the two loops together in front. Then slip this loop over your copper pipe or wooden dowel. Do this one at a time and don’t pull your warp rows too much. You don’t want things shifting as you’re taking it off of the loom. Then gently pull it off of the bottom of the loom. Tie each of the loops at the bottom into little knots to keep things from shifting down too much.

Step Twenty: Once your pipe is added, add a hanger by slipping a 3′ length of cotton yarn through the pipe. Tie a double-knot and then hide the knot somewhere in the center of the pipe. Flip your wall hanging over and tuck your soumak tails behind the exposed warp rows. Trim your roving tails so they aren’t too fluffy. These will stay put.

After I’m finished with any wall hanging I like to hang it on a hook and brush through the rya knots with my fingers or a weaving comb to straighten things out a bit. Then I trim up my scraggly ends for a more finished look. Congrats! You’ve just finished a beautiful wall hanging in half the time it can take because you used the chunkiest of fibers!

Find the perfect place for your wall hanging and enjoy! – Rachel

Want to learn more about weaving or try a few more complex designs? Check out my book, DIY Woven Art, for 15 projects that take you from the most basic designs to weaving your own rug! No lie.

Credits//Author: Rachel Denbow. Photography: Rachel Denbow and Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
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