Coconut and Toffee Bars

Coconut and Toffee Bars (via abeautifulmess.com)The very first time I can remember ever showing any interest in cooking/baking was when I was around 14 or 15 years old. I got obsessed with making M&M cookie bars based on a recipe from the side of the flour bag (don't remember the brand... probably Best Choice or something). 

I probably made that recipe 3-4 times over the course of a few months. I think what happened is I was in the mood for cookies but didn't really have a recipe, so I used the one on the flour bag. They turned out awesome, so I baked the same recipe again a week or so later. That batch didn't turn out as well. And then I became obsessed with figuring out why. I mean, I used the same recipe. How could it turn out so different every time?! It was infuriating. 

Coconut and Toffee Bars (via abeautifulmess.com)  I never did really uncover what I was doing differently back then. My love of eating cookies outweighed my knowledge of the scientific method, I would venture to guess. So... no real discoveries were made but lots of cookies got eaten. (I have a feeling it had to do with how long I blended the butter and sugar or how accurate I was being when measuring out my dry ingredients—but I'll never know for sure.)

At any rate, these bars remind me of that. Not because they are infuriating. Oh no. The main similarity is they are derived from a recipe that can be found on the product packaging. If you have ever had "Magic Cookie Bars" before, then you will likely love these, as they are quite similar. 

Condensed milk magic bar recipeCoconut and Toffee Bars, makes one dozen.
Recipe adapted from Eagle Brand's Magic Cookie Bars

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 a 14 oz can (so, 7 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 chopped Askinosie ABM CollaBARation Bar (dark chocolate + toasted coconut)*
1/4 cup toasted coconut
1/4 cup toffee chips
big sprinkle of sea salt (optional)

Cover the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter and press into the bottom of the pan. Pour on the sweetened condensed milk. Top with the chopped chocolate bar, coconut and toffee chips. Then sprinkle on the sea salt if using. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. 

*You can use 3 oz dark chocolate chips instead of the Askinosie chocolate bar if you just can't find it anywhere. But try—because it's good!

Coconut and Toffee Bars (via abeautifulmess.com) Allow to cool before removing from the pan. Keep in mind that these are meant to be ooey-gooey. But, if you find they are too ooey, just pop the baked bars in the freezer for a few minutes to firm them up a little. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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

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Casual Friday Vol. 20

Casual FridayWe are overdue for another edition of Casual Fridays! Ready to see some behind-the-blog peeks? Good!

ABM staffI like that Trey and I are kind of making a similar face in this photo and also clearly don't know what to do with our hands. 

Also, Josh's face.

ABM staff  ABM staff Recently we updated our staff photos. Can you believe it's been a year since our last ones? Honestly, that doesn't seem all that long, but it feels like so much has changed/nothing has changed. Time is weird like that I guess. Honestly, I feel so lucky to get to work with so many amazing and talented people. 

Emma ChapmanEmma + TreyEmma's birthday lunch    Emma's birthday lunchEmma's birthday lunch   Emma's birthday lunch Emma's birthday lunch  And since I love our staff so much, I made everyone celebrate my birthday this week with a lunch trip to Heritage Cafeteria. It's a little spot in town that is notoriously known for catering to, well, an older crowd. As in, they stop serving dinner and close at 7pm if that tells you anything. :) It's a nostalgic spot for me as we went there a lot with my grandpa (pictured above) growing up. Plus, they have a wide selection of pie! So, I love it. Most of our staff, my parents, and my grandparents came out, and it was a lot of fun. I also had lots of friends text, bring me donuts, bring me macarons, and generally just be really nice to me all day. I felt spoiled for sure! I also got a special surprise present from Elsie... more on that later. ;)

Hope you had an amazing week and TGIF! xo. Emma + The ABM Team

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy, Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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Make Lunches Easy This Year With Salads in Jars!

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)      OK. Let's get this out of the way. You either saw this post and thought, "That's genius! Why haven't I thought of that?" or, "Yeah, I know. That's so March of 2014..." I only say that because apparently the idea of "salad in a jar" lunches went crazy online at some point last year, but this girl (who is online A WHOLE LOT) had never heard of it until a few weeks ago. I felt a little dumb for being completely oblivious to a giant food craze, but when I started asking around, I realized there were actually a lot of other Pinterest-loving ladies that hadn't heard of it either. So, I thought I would check it out and share my thoughts with you since I wish I had heard of this a lot sooner.

The main pros to the salad in a jar thing are twofold: first, you can make all your lunches for the whole work week in one sitting (like on a Sunday), and your worries of what to eat everyday for lunch are already solved. I know this is a giant thing for me. I hate making my own lunches and I never know what to make, so I buy a lot of soups or make big batches of tuna salad and then eat that same thing for several days in a row. Second, since this isn't called "cheeseburger in a jar, " it's also a way to encourage you to eat better and make good lunch decisions. Of course, you can make a salad that's 99% percent cheese and ranch dressing and that one spinach leaf on top isn't going to help much, so make sure to pick a well-balanced salad that's still going to do you a lot of good.

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)       All that said, you can see why the concept is so appealing to a person that's lazy-yet-health-conscious like I am. I thought I would find 5 different recipes that I really liked and would be excited to eat everyday, and I think I did a pretty good job. Oh, and I also wanted salads that were filling. There's nothing worse than finishing your salad at 12:55 and feeling hungry again by 1:15, so I made sure that all the salads had either a meat or grain protein added to fill me up longer. Of course, if you do a mostly vegetarian diet like I do, you can always add more beans or grains in place of a meat option. To get a "making salad in a jar 101" lesson, this is a great post to start with. Some people suggest that you should keep more perishable items (like meat, cheese, soft vegetables (like avocado) and fruit) out of the jar and add them to the top that day instead, but I also saw that a lot of people said they didn't have a problem when they put them in at the beginning of the week.  Coating the soft fruits and veggies in a little lemon or lime juice first and packing the jar as tightly as you can helps them keep fresh all five days. Now that you've got the basics under your belt, here are the five salads that I liked the most!

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)    I am a big fan of Mexican food, and we make a lot of tacos and burrito bowl type dishes at our house. I can already tell this black bean and corn salad will be a pretty popular one for us, and I think next time I'll even add some rice or quinoa to the top to make it extra filling, yum!

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)    I love the mix of the mango, black beans, avocado, and quinoa in this salad. It's nice to have a bit of sweet in a savory salad and the mango gives it a bit of a tropical feel. I did run across a few salads like this one where they suggest making only three days' worth because of the shelf life of certain ingredients (so you would have to make that one twice that week), but hey, making lunch twice is still better than five times if you ask me!

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)    In the summer, I can't get enough of making Caprese salads with the tomatoes and basil we grow on the back porch. Add a little fresh basil into this tomato and mozzarella salad and you'll feel like it's summer again!

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)    The only problem with this quinoa and sweet potato salad is that I can't eat all the roasted sweet potato before I put it into the jars (so good)! I also appreciate that this salad has a lot of filling ingredients that will help keep you full long after lunch is over. 

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)    Olives are one of my favorite foods on the planet (I'm the only person I know who stands by the olive tray all night at a party), so adding Kalamata olives to this greek chicken salad makes me a very happy girl. A little salty feta cheese goes a long way on this salad and the baby cucumbers add a delightful crunch to the dish.

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)     Don't they look so delicious! At lunchtime, just pour the salad into a bowl and give it a stir with your fork—easy! I would definitely recommend making one salad to try before you make a whole week's worth of that variety. I had a giant taste fail with one of the first salads I tried, and I was really glad I didn't already have a week's worth of them in the fridge. I'm going to challenge myself to do a month straight of salad in a jar options during the work week and see how I feel and what tweaks I'd like to add to these recipes. Do you think you'll give the salad in a jar idea a try? Or, if you've already tried it, do you have any tips or favorite recipes that you love? xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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Emoji Nail Decal DIY

OMG! Emoji nail decal DIY!! (click through for tutorial)     As you might imagine, there are lots of projects here at the blog that are just plain fun. There are also lots of other people's projects that I like helping with, like when Emma needs "help" and wants us to eat her latest culinary creations and give her feedback. That is my favorite kind of helping. Especially when I forget to bring my lunch. Aaaaaaanyway, I had seen a few tutorials of people attempting to print their own nail decals, and I thought it looked like a really fun project to try as part of our Canon USA collaboration. Although I loved the girls that printed little cat faces to put on their nails (so cute!), I thought emoji nails would also be a fun statement. There were a couple of ways that people went about making their decals, but this way worked best for me, and I even made you your own emoji design sheet download with 3 sizes to choose from!

OMG! Emoji nail decal DIY!! (click through for tutorial)     Supplies:
-white nail polish
-clear top coat nail polish
-Rub-Onz Film Paper
-scissors
-tweezers
-popsicle stick or a coin
-emoji nail decal (right click to download)
-Canon PIXMA MG7520 Photo Printer

Start by painting your nails with a few coats of white nail polish. Then, follow the instructions on your Rub-Onz film paper and print your emojis onto the matte side of your frosted film paper. Of course you need the color to really pop on these, so using our PIXMA MG7520 was a big help here. Any time you're using these specialty papers, you have to watch for loss in color, and of course our printer didn't disappoint. :) Be sure to adjust your print settings for the best quality.

The downloadable images are already flipped backwards so they will look correct once applied, but if you make your own design, be sure to reverse the image before you print them. The Rub-Onz kit comes with two kinds of paper: one type of frosted film paper that you print your design onto and one type of paper that has an adhesive film with a white liner to transfer your design.


OMG! Emoji nail decal DIY!! (click through for tutorial)     Once your designs are printed onto your frosted paper, cut a piece of the white backed adhesive paper that is big enough to cover your emojis. Gently peel back the white backing from the adhesive film and place the clear adhesive film on top of your emojis. Make sure as you peel the two layers apart that the sticky adhesive layer is sticking to the clear film and not the white backing that you discard. Use a popsicle stick or a coin to rub the clear adhesive and printed layers together and remove any air bubbles between them.

OMG! Emoji nail decal DIY!! (click through for tutorial)      OMG! Emoji nail decal DIY!! (click through for tutorial)     Use scissors to cut around your emojis, getting as close to the printed edge as you can (the designs seemed to transfer better when I cut as close to the edge as I could). 

OMG! Emoji nail decal DIY!! (click through for tutorial)     Peel off the clear liner layer on top of the design to reveal the adhesive lining, flip the design over, and place the design onto your nail. I found it helpful to use tweezers for this part since the decal is rather small. Press the design onto your nail and use the popsicle stick or coin to rub the design in place. There is still a protective layer on top of the design, so keep rubbing until the corners on the protective layer begin to lift and separate from the decal. Once you see the corners lift, pull the protective layer off and finish the nail with a layer of clear topcoat to seal the decal on the nail. 

Repeat the process until you have all the desired nails covered. To remove, just use regular nail polish or acetone remover and it should come right off. 

OMG! Emoji nail decal DIY!! (click through for tutorial)      OMG! Emoji nail decal DIY!! (click through for tutorial)      OMG! Emoji nail decal DIY!! (click through for tutorial)      How fun are these nails?? And you don't have to do every finger on your hand either. You can choose just your thumb or ring fingers if you want a smaller statement. I saved all the extra decals in the studio bathroom closet so I can pop one on a nail whenever the mood strikes. You've heard of wearing your emotions on your sleeve, but I think it's even more fun to wear them on your nails...xo. Laura ;)

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Laura Gummerman and Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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