Orange and Coffee Moscow MuleFor those of you who are fans of the classic Moscow Mule, you are in for a real treat today! And those of you who are not yet Mule fans, I'm hoping to convert you. :) Often when a classic cocktail is updated, it's called "improved". Since Moscow Mules are one of my all time favorite cocktails, I don't necessarily think it needs "improving", but I do love swapping out flavors for seasonal favorites and also I just love trying new things.

We partnered with Smirnoff Vodka to create a special twist on the classic Moscow Mule using their Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka as the base spirit in this delicious and slightly surprising variation. Alongside the ginger (from the ginger beer), there are also notes of coffee and cinnamon with a big splash of freshly squeezed orange juice. Mmmmmmm.

Orange and Coffee Moscow Mule with SmirnoffOrange and Coffee Moscow Mule   Orange and Coffee Moscow Mule, makes one

1 can/bottle of ginger beer (approx. 8-9 oz. depending on brand)
1 oz. Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
1 oz. coffee liqueur
1/4 of an orange, squeezed
1 cinnamon stick for garnish
ice

Also, you'll need a copper mug if you want to have the real Moscow Mule look. :)

Smirnoff Moscow MuleFill the cup 2/3 full with ice. Pour in half to 2/3 of the ginger beer. Then add Smirnoff Vodka, the coffee liqueur, and squeeze in the orange juice. Give that one or two good stirs, then fill the rest of the way with the remaining ginger beer. 

Garnish with a cinnamon stick and another orange wedge or a piece of the rind. Might as well make it pretty!

Orange and Coffee Moscow Mule    Just a few quick notes to ensure your cocktail turns out perfect:

-The copper mugs I own can hold 16 oz. of liquid (this is if you do not add ice, just liquid). If you do not use this size of cup or glass, you will likely need to adjust the above recipe to fit your needs. 

-I used a jigger to measure the vodka and coffee liqueur here, as mine has two cups with one measuring 1 oz and the other 1.5 oz. If you use a shot glass to measure instead, be aware that usually a shot is 1.5 oz. So a bit more than you need here. This would be fine for the vodka, but on the coffee liqueur, I'd be sure to use a scant amount in a shot glass. Otherwise the flavor could overpower everything else, and we're aiming for balance here. 

Happy cocktail making, guys! xo. Emma

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

 

Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial)       I loooove a good hat in winter. They keep your head warm, look cute, and help hide any bad-hair-day issues. I have a collection of beanies in different colors and shapes (some with poms, some without), but I thought I could use a more "special" one since mine are basically just plain colored options. One easy way to kick up your beanie game is to add several beads to the hat in different shapes and colors since it adds a little bit of shimmer and texture as well!

Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial)Supplies:
-knit hat
-beads in various sizes, colors, and textures (I found mine in the JoAnns jewelry area.)
-thread in a color that matches the beads

Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial) I really like the tone-on-tone look with different shades of pink on the pink hat, so I chose mostly beads in the pink family with one white option that would stand out the most. I took my white beads first and placed several on the hat in the places I wanted to secure them. It's a good idea to think of how many other colors and beads you are planning on using so you don't fill up the hat on the first color. To remember the spacing, I took a photo with my phone and then used it as a reference for each bead I hand sewed onto the hat.

Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial)  Once the first set of beads was attached, I spaced out the next color of beads on the hat, took another photo, and then sewed those beads on as well. Keep going until you have all your colors of beads attached. Once you're done, it's time to take your hat for a spin!

Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial)   Cute Beaded Beanie DIY! (click through for tutorial)      Cute, right?! Adding the beads and pearls was an easy addition, but it makes the hat feel a little more special and unique than it did before. It can also be your "dress hat" now if you need to dress fancy, but warmly, for some outdoor event. Hey man, I've been to an outdoor wedding in Missouri in December, sooo, it happens! Hope you make one of your own! xo. Laura

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

How long does it take to write a blog postHey, friends. It's time for another edition to our series, Blog Q&A, which you can find all the past articles of here. Today's Blog Q&A question comes from a commenter. She asks:

"How long does it usually take to write or draft up posts and format them with photos and other content?" 

The short answer is: it depends on what kind of post it is. While it's probably fairly obvious to you guys that a post about a cookie recipe vs. a post that shows a before and after room tour are things that likely took very different amounts of time to create start to finish. What might not be as obvious is that pretty much ALL posts, or at least the ones that we share here on A Beautiful Mess, go through a similar 5-step process. So although I don't have a simple answer like, "It takes 4 hours to write a post," I can share our five steps to drafting killer content. 

1. Brainstorm + Plan

The first step to creating any kind of content is to brainstorm and plan. Here on ABM we aim to publish an average of 45 to 50 posts every month. We share all sorts of content from fashion-related posts (like Sister Style), craft projects, room tours + decor features, recipes, informational articles about blogging, small business, and photography, product launches, and some personal/just-for-fun type articles (you know, the randos) as well. Each writer aims for a certain number and usually specializes in certain areas, and we work backward from there each month. 

An obvious, but super helpful tool for brainstorming is a notebook. I like to have a notebook that I can have near me at all times, so I usually have something small in my purse. I will think of the most random recipe brainstorms at seemingly any time of day, so I like to jot down any idea (even if I end up thinking it's dumb later) when it strikes. Then we can evaluate strong ideas and things we are truly excited about from others that we eventually cut. This eventually becomes a more fleshed out list of post ideas, usually with some room to change them up if things don't work exactly as planned (which is a DIY hazard for sure :)).

With this list we can plan. This includes making lists of supplies to buy and noting if things can be found locally or if we will need to order online and wait for deliveries. Also, a loose timeline can be put in place once you have your list of posts. For example, I have post ideas on my list this month that will come together in just a day or two, while I also have a project I'm working on that I know will likely take 2-3 months for me to complete. Just knowing this helps me communicate, stay on track, and work within our editorial goals for ABM much more easily than if I were just "winging it" all the time. 

2. Create

This is arguably the most fun and most frustrating step in the process. Once you have brainstormed and made a plan of action, it's time to execute. This will include gathering supplies, making the project, and finding a way to photograph things along the way and the final looks for your article. The timeframe on this will vary a great deal depending on if you are working on a great salad recipe post or sharing your kitchen renovation.

Here's just a few tips from a gal who's been creating blog posts for years. First, give yourself time (like, build it into the schedule) to make mistakes. Things don't always work as you plan, so don't assume they will. It could be that a post will come together faster than you thought, giving you bonus time! But assuming it will come together in a day when it actually takes three is a sure way to stress yourself, and your team if you work on one, out. Boo to stress! And that brings me to my second tip, which is: enjoy the process. I truly believe one of the most joy filled things we can do in life is create—so don't blow past enjoying the process of it because you are so focused on maintaining a blog schedule. Sure, hitting deadlines are super important, but so is taking time to enjoy your work. It's a balancing act that I'm not perfect at but always looking to get better at.  

3. Prepare Visuals

For us this means editing and saving our images. There are times posts require other elements, like designed pieces for readers to download, etc. But most often our posts are made up of photos and text. So once the project is complete, it's time to edit those photos! 

This is one place you can save yourself a lot of time by learning to make your editing workflow efficient. First, if you don't use Photoshop or Lightroom, you should. We use one of these programs for around 99% of the photos you see on ABM. The only exception is if we've intentionally left something unedited, and for phone photos we mainly use A Color Story to edit. If you've been wanting to learn how to use Photoshop or Lightroom but don't know where to start, I recommend our course, Photoshop for Bloggers. It takes you from ground zero to everything you need to know. I also recommend using actions or presets when editing (you can also utilize batch editing tools as well) as it speeds up the editing process SO MUCH. And although I love the process of editing photos, it's not the part of my workflow where I want to spend countless hours. We have our own A Beautiful Mess actions you can check out, and there are other options available online as well depending on the look you are going for. 

4. Write + Edit Copy

I usually write all of the copy for a post at once. So, this means I take notes during the creation process so I can go back to those notes to make sure I convey all the information that I think will be helpful to readers. Some writers like to do a slightly different process, writing bits as they go. There really is not one set "right" way to do this, I think it depends more on your style and what feels best and results in the best, most coherent post. But, I do recommend writing a post and then waiting at least a few hours or day before re-reading it. The goal is to re-read your work with fresh eyes to see if you can add anymore info, or maybe you left a step out. Also, make sure to be linking anything relevant that readers might want to read more about. 

Then, have someone else proofread your copy. At ABM we've had a few different copy editors over the years. Currently, Sarah Sandidge proofs and edits all our posts and e-Course content. She's amazing—she makes it look like I know how to spell when the truth is, that's questionable at best. :) If you don't have the budget to hire this kind of service, at least having your significant other or a friend who might be a bit better at grammar than you would be a good place to start. But, generally this kind of service is affordable. So I would recommend looking into it if you are serious about your writing. 

5. Publish + Check Comments

The final step is to press that publish button! I know, the scariest part. What if everyone hates your post? Well, if they do at least you will likely get some feedback so you can create even better content in the future. Worst case scenario is you learn something, and best case scenario is the Internet goes CRAZY for your amazing blog post! So, you don't have anything to lose, my friend. Press that publish button. 

I'd love to say that we religiously check comments, but the truth is we don't always have the time to respond to everything as much as we would like. But, we still do make as much time as we can for it. It's important to engage with your readers, AND so often I learn from them on ways to improve my writing, photography, etc. for future posts. Also, if your readers are as great as ours, you def want to read comments because they can truly make your day. I've seriously cried from a really nice comment before, especially on days when I needed it. 

Bonus step: Update old, but still popular posts regularly. This is not only a great practice as you'll be improving your site's content for readers, but Google also prioritizes sites that do this. So you'll be upping your SEO game as well. The basic idea is to look at what posts are still being read on your site from last year or earlier (depending on how long you've been blogging). You can find this in Google Analytics or other backend analytics you may have access to. Read those old posts and see if you can improve them in any way, like adding more information, improving the photos, or adding a short video tutorial. Whatever would make the post a more useful resource is a great place to start. We have been working to do this on our own site this past year by adding short videos tutorials to some of our most popular posts like Homemade Bath Bombs and DIY Marbled Clay Ring Dish

Hope you fellow bloggers out there found something here helpful! And let me know if you want us to expand on anything from this article or have other blogging-related questions you'd love us to address in future articles in this series. Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photo: Mandi Johnson, Image Design: Mara Dockery. 

11Some of my favorite DIYs have been born from the need to solve a problem. In this instance, my problem was needing more tabletop space in a studio that was always needing to be rearranged depending on the task at hand. As it usually happens, I realized it would be easier for me to build my own and get exactly what I needed than to pay top dollar for something that mostly worked. I thought about it for weeks before coming up with a way to make a transformable desktop that would not only be easy to adjust by myself, it would be simple enough for you to build without owning a lot of power tools. I'm so proud of how this one turned out!

12Some days I need as much floor space as possible to work on a DIY, so a corner workspace made the most sense. Other days my husband needs a space to have a conference call or finish a project for grad school, so we both need a clear work surface at the same time. I've also been using this space for my first employee (yay!) to put together fiber packs and package looms, so I need a long surface for those assembly line days. This transformable desk is perfect because it is made of two pieces of plywood on each side that overlap like a perfect puzzle piece in the middle. You can have a corner workspace one day and an extra long workspace the next. Thanks to the beauty of powder coated hairpin legs, my new desktop space looks like a million bucks and retains that light, airy feel needed in such a small room. 

12SuppliesSupplies:
-one 3/4" x 4' x 8' sheet of Purebond plywood. This specific plywood is thick enough for a beautiful desktop but is also formaldehyde free, so you can breathe easy. You'll want to get this cut in half lengthwise so that you get two 2' x 8' lengths. Then cut each of those lengths at the 5' mark so that you end up with two 2' x 3' cuts and two 2' x 5' cuts as shown above. 
-six powder coated hairpin legs
-24 #6 x 3/4" flathead screws
-10 #6 x 1 1/4" flathead screws
-four 1/4" 20 x 13mm threaded insert nuts
-four 1/4" 20 x 1 1/4" flathead machine screws 
-1 qt. Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane in semi-gloss or preferred sealer
-Gorilla wood glue
-3" natural bristle brush
-power drill
-5/16" drill bit 
-1/8" drill bit
-orbital sander (optional)
-80 grit sandpaper
-120 grit sandpaper
-clamps (optional)
-hammer
-2 to 4 clamps (optional)
-carpenter's square ruler
-pen 

1Here's a visual on the threaded insert nuts that you'll need. They allow the two pieces to be screwed together and unscrewed a number of times without stripping the wood. Shout out to Dustin Stewart for introducing me to these little workhorses.

1-2Your one sheet of 3/4" x 4' x 8' Purebond plywood should already have been cut at the lumber store so that you end up with two 2' x 3' pieces and two 2' x 5' pieces. This plywood has a birch veneer (blonde), but you can see the other side has a reddish finish. Pay attention to the sides you want to use as you are glueing and screwing all of your pieces together for consistency's sake. 

Step One: This step is merely to double check your angles are all nearly perfect before gluing in place. Place one piece of 2' x 5' on the floor. It doesn't matter which side is up since this will be the bottom piece and it will not show. Then place a 2' x 3' piece of wood on top of it so that three of the edges are flush. Be sure you have the blonde side up. 

Step Two: Place your second 2' x 3' cut of wood down so that it creates a right angle with the 2' x 5' cut of wood from Step One. This bottom piece will not show so it doesn't matter which side is up. 

3-Step Three: Place the second 2' x 5' piece of wood on top of the piece from Step Three. Be sure the blonde side is right side up. Check to see that all edges are flush with each other and fit tightly together where they overlap. 

4.Step Four: Repeat a similar process with all of your pieces but instead of placing them at a right angle, overlap them so that they form a long 2' x 8' desktop. Again, you are merely checking to make sure all of your angles are straight and right so that there are no gaps. If there should be one piece that is shorter than the other, fit things together so that there are no gaps where everything overlaps and just sand down or cut off the overlap on the outer edge.

5-6Step Five: Pull your separate puzzle pieces apart. Place Gorilla glue intermittently around the space where your 2' x 3' cut of wood will rest on top of your 2' x 5' cut of wood. Gently place your 2' x 3' cut of wood on top of your 2' x 5' cut and make sure your three edges are flush. You can clamp these together if you have clamps available, but you can also skip that and move quickly to the next step. 

Step Six: Measure in 6" x 6" from each corner of your 2' x 3' and pre-drill a hole that drills into the 2' x 5' plywood beneath it but doesn't go through it. You don't want holes coming through your desktop! You can measure about 1 1/4" from the bottom of your drill bit and mark that spot with tape so that you don't press to far. Repeat this process of measuring and pre-drilling holes in all four corners of your top 2' x 5' cut of wood (which is the bottom of your table on that side), and then make a mark in the center and pre-drill a hole there as well.

7-8Step Seven: Use a screwdriver or the appropriate bit to screw five of your #6 x 1 1/4" screws into these holes. This will secure the two pieces of wood together. If any glue squeezes out between the two pieces, quickly wipe it off with a wet paper towel or sand it off later. Repeat the process with the two other pieces of wood. You will likely have to flip them over at some point in this process to get to the bottom sides where you'll screw them together. Just be sure you keep the blonde sides of the wood on the unscrewed side of both pieces. 

Step Eight: Fit the two pieces together so that they overlap at a right angle. They should both be upside down at this point. Measure out a perfect square so that it's centered where the two pieces overlap. It needs to be perfectly centered, so measure twice (or three times). 

9-10Step Nine: Just for visual's sake, I've drawn where the square needs to be positioned when you remove the two puzzle pieces so you can see how you'll be drilling through the top one and halfway into the bottom one. 

Step Ten: Prep your drill with the 5/16" drill bit and mark it with tape so that you only drill down about 1 1/4". With your two puzzle pieces still overlapping, pre-drill a hole in each corner of your square. Wiggle it around a bit as you drill out of it to give yourself a slightly larger hole. This will help your threaded inserts to go in but still fit snugly. 

11-12Step Eleven: Separate the two puzzle pieces where they overlap. Set aside the piece that you drilled straight through. Hammer your threaded inserts into the piece that you didn't drill all the way through. They need to be flush with your wood. 

Step Twelve: Place the two puzzle pieces back together as they were in Step Ten and screw the two pieces together with your four 1/4" x 20 x 1 1/4" flat head screws. This will bolt your two puzzle pieces together in the center. You should be able to unscrew these, place your two table pieces into a long table shape, and bolt them together again through the same screw holes as long as your measurements were centered. 

13-14Step Thirteen: With your tabletop still upside down, measure 1 1/2" in from each corner on both short ends and mark where your screw holes will be for those four hairpin legs. 

Step Fourteen: For a stable table, you'll need two hairpin legs attached to the area where the pieces overlap. For this design to look nice and be stable in both a corner position and a long position, I suggest placing your last two hairpin legs centered over the square you drew so that they are about 1/2" away from the square and facing each other. Mark your holes, pre-drill about 3/4" deep, place your legs in the appropriate places, and then screw them in. 

The final steps include sanding your table down on the tops and edges with an orbital sander or by hand using two different grades of sandpaper. Then wipe the table with a damp cloth and apply your stain, paint, or polyurethane following manufacturer's directions. I chose a poly because I love the look of natural blonde wood, but you may prefer a darker stain or even a painted tabletop. Just be sure you stain or paint all of the edges when they are not bolted together because if you transform them, different edges will be showing. 

89I designed this table knowing I'd use these beautiful mint hairpin legs from DIY Hairpin Legs. I've always used vintage black legs but have noticed my style moving away from such an industrial feel. These still have that mid-century charm with a bit of polish, and since they are powder coated, the color won't scratch off like they would if they were just spray painted. This table may look dainty, but it's a workhorse! 

617Once you are ready to transform your desk from one shape to another, clear your desk top, unscrew the four center bolts, reposition your two ends so that the holes align again, and screw it back together. It allows for a beautiful desktop space by keeping it's lovely lines in either position. 

12All in all, this project may end up costing about $225 as long as you already have the power tools and a brush. You'll end up with tons of polyurethane left over for other woodworking projects, too. The legs are the most expensive part of this table, but I also think they add the most impact for making this look like a polished, finished piece of furniture. THE GOOD NEWS is that DIY Hairpin Legs is offering 10% OFF every purchase over $50 through the end of January 2017 when you purchase through this affiliate link.

If you're not into hairpin legs, you could easily use the same tabletop design and attach a variety of IKEA legs (here, here, or here), or even a drawer unit for an even more customized end result.

I'm so pleased with how this project turned out and hope some of you will enjoy how functional this design is as well! -Rachel

Credits//Author: Rachel Denbow. Photography: Rachel Denbow and Janae Hardy. Edited with New A Beautiful Mess Actions

 

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