Big Party Party App Update!

Party Party Update!We launched our Party Party app just a little over a month ago with big plans for updates already in the making. We’re excited to announce that some big, new features are now available in the new Party Party update!!

Party Party UpdateIMPORT

This is a big one! You now can use any photos from your Camera Roll or Photo Library in Party Party! Make a slideshow out of old photos or start stacking photo apps (the below was made with DSLR photos, A Beautiful Mess App, and Party Party!). And then in whatever order you select your photos is the order they’ll appear in the app. So that means you can start playing around with reverse order, like Sarah’s awesome .gif above!

Party + A Beautiful MessREVIEW

We added a step to the app’s flow, so you now have the option to review the photos you’ve taken or imported. In this screen, you can delete, reorder, crop, and add photos. So maybe three of the photos you took were perfect, but that last one was a little off. Now you can fix it!

Party PartyUNLIMITED PHOTOS

The Party Party app has the 1, 4, 9, and 16 photo options, because they can all be laid out in a square if you wanted to do the collage option. However, with so many of you using the stop-motion option, we wanted to give you the flexibility to take as many or as few photos as you needed! So we added the ∞ option!

Party Party Update  We can’t thank you enough for supporting this app and really everything we do. We’re so excited to see what new creations you come up with, so be sure to tag it #partypartyapp, and we’ll feature our favorites on @abeautifulmessofficial! xo. Elsie (+ Trey)

P.S. For any questions on app functionality or Android, be sure to check out our FAQ post, or email support at partyparty AT redvelvetart DOT com.

How to Grow Your Own Crystals

How to grow your own crystals That's right, you CAN totally grow your own crystals. I've been wanting to try this since last April, when I kept seeing them around Easter. This is a sciency-craft project that people often do with kiddos. I've seen a number of tutorials for these online, but I believe it was originally developed by Jim Noonan for the Martha Stewart Show (see his tutorial here)

How to grow your own crystalsYou can find me more often in the kitchen than the, uh, craft room. But this is part craft and part kitchen experiment, so I had to give it a try. I learned a few things and am happy to share my own personal results. AND I use my crystals in another project that I'll be sharing later this week. I think you'll like it. But first, let's grow some crystals. 

Hollow out the eggsSupplies:
-egg shells
-X-Acto knife
-alum (sold at most grocery stores in the spice section)
-Elmer's glue + paint brush
-food dye
-hot water
-plastic containers
-gloves

Step One: Use an X-Acto knife to cut your egg shells in half. This is messy; do it over the sink. The original tutorial suggested using blown egg shells, but if you've ever blown out an egg shell before, then you know it's not exactly fun (also not the safest activity since it involves raw eggs). You don't really need to blow the centers out; just cut the egg shell in half over the sink, then wash out the egg shell and let it dry. As you can see, my egg edges were NOwhere near perfect, and that was perfectly fine.

Apply alum to the egg shellsStep Two: Paint on a thin layer of Elmer's glue to the inside of the egg shells. Sprinkle on the alum. I do not recommend powdered alum. I did one of my eggs with powdered alum and the other three with the kind that you usually use in pickling (it looks like tiny crystals). The powdered alum did not work almost at all, while the other three grew massive crystals. Once you've sprinkled on the alum, let this dry out overnight. 

How to grow crystals in an egg shellStep Three: Heat 2 cups of water until it's just about to boil. Now add the food dye (I used about 40 drops of dye per color) and 3/4 cup alum. Stir until the alum is completely dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes. Pour the mixture into your container (it may color your container, so I used inexpensive plastic tubs so it would be okay if they got ruined) and add one egg shell, open side facing up. Now let your crystals grow for 8+ hours. I let mine grow for about 20 hours, and the crystals got quite big!

How to grow your own crystals  Remember to wear gloves anytime you are adding eggs to the dye bath or taking them out, as it can really stain your hands. Gently rinse off your finished crystals and allow to dry. 

Why egg shells? Good question. I liked the idea of using egg shells because they create an inverse kind of dome for the crystals to grow in/out of, like a geode. You could use lots of different objects to grow crystals on, though; it doesn't have to be egg shells. Like, you could easily follow the steps above and use a small rock as your base instead.

You might also be wondering how fragile these are; I know I was. They are fragile enough that if you dropped one, even from only five or six inches, they would likely crack. If you dropped them from fairly high, like waist-high to the floor, they would likely shatter. But if you don't drop them, they can last for a very long time. I've had mine for over three weeks now, and they still look like the first day I made them. So, what to do with these new crystals? There are probably a million ideas, and I'll show you what I decided later this week. Let me know if you have other questions, and if I have an answer based on my experience, I'll let you know. xo. Emma

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

Honey + Miso Stir Fry

Honey + miso stir fry (click through for recipe)We make a lot of stir fry at our house. It's not just a weekly thing; it's a couple times a week at least. I love stir fry because you can use basically any vegetables you want (so whatever's about to go bad is always a good choice). You can add protein if you want, like tofu, tempeh, shrimp, chicken, whatever. And then you get to mix up a sauce. That's the really fun part; it's like when you were a kid and played scientist. Did any of you do that? I love that slight changes can make such different sauces, so it never feels like a boring meal.

Honey + miso stir fry (click through for recipe)  I also LOVE how quickly it can come together. Cooking vegetables for short periods over high heat (I've heard) is also pretty healthy because they retain more of their natural vitamins than if you cooked them for longer periods. That's cool, right?

This particular stir fry recipe is so yummy because it features a thicker sauce with honey and miso flavors. Mmmmm. 

How to make the best baked tofuHoney + Miso Stir Fry, serves 2-3. 

14 ounces extra firm tofu (or whatever protein you want to use)
2 small bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon miso paste
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
2-3 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 cup steamed rice to serve with

Remove the tofu from its package and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Place another paper towel on top of the tofu, then another plate, and on top of that a heavier object (like a can of tomato sauce or something). This will press more liquid out of the tofu so it will bake faster. Cut into cubes and place in a large ziplock bag with 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Give the bag a shake, coating all the cubes. Now place the cubes on a baking sheet lined with a baking mat or parchment paper. Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes, flipping the tofu once in the middle of baking.

Tips for making the best stir fryIn a glass or a small bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce, miso paste, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and the remaining 1 tablespoon corn starch. Stir with a fork to combine well. Set aside.

Cut up the bell peppers and sauté in the olive oil over high heat. Once they begin to soften (1-2 minutes), add in the baked tofu and pour the sauce over everything. Allow that to cook for another minute or two; the sauce will begin to thicken and coat everything nicely.

Honey + miso stir fry (click through for recipe) Serve over steamed rice with a few green onions and sesame seeds, if using. If you have leftovers, take them to the office the next day and make your coworkers jealous :) Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

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