Peach Pavlova with Bourbon Whipped Cream

Easy make ahead dessertLast week Elsie and I hosted a housewarming party at the ABM studio. I know, we're super late! But we've only just recently felt like the house is *almost* finished. Many of our friends haven't even been over to see it in person, so we decided to throw a little party. Next week we'll be sharing more about the party, like how we decorated, activities we had prepared, food we served, cocktails we made, who was there, what they wore... all the juicy gossip.

Jk about that last part. Guys, it was just a fun little party. NBD. But, I think parties can be intimidating to host. So seeing how others do it is something I've always enjoyed. 

A Beautiful Mess front porch party A Beautiful Mess front porch party  A Beautiful Mess front porch partyFancy make ahead dessertFor dessert I served peach pavlova parfaits with bourbon whipped cream. I know, sounds fancy and somewhat unusual, right? Maybe you've never had pavlova before. I certainly did not grow up knowing what this delicious dessert was. Here's the secret, it's simply sweetened fruit (think jam or pie filling), meringue, and whipped cream. Once I figured that out, I was all in. I grew up loving lemon meringue pie and absolutely anything topped with whipped cream. 

What I love most about this dish as a party treat is you can easily make the meringue the day before, the whipped cream earlier in the day, and the peaches just sit in a slow cooker until you are ready to serve. So you won't be stuck in the kitchen while guests are over having a good time. You can have a good time too. I think it's a host's duty to have the best time, if you can call that a duty. :)

How to make pavlova Peach Pavlova Parfait with Bourbon Whipped Cream, serves 6-8

6 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup sugar

24 oz frozen peaches
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon

For the meringue, beat together the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt for about 3 minutes until the mixture begins to look white and frothy and starts to thicken. Slowly add the sugar while your mixer is running until you have added all the sugar and the mixture forms stiff peaks (see the photo above). You should mix for about 6 minutes total. 

How to make pavlovaPipe the meringue onto two baking sheets lined with a baking mat or parchment paper. You can do this using a pastry bag fitted with any tip you like (I used a star tip), or you can just dollop small amounts onto the baking sheet using a spoon. Just depends what kind of look you are going for. Bake at 250°F for 1 hour and 20 minutes, rotating the pans once during baking so they will bake evenly. 

Once they are done baking, allow to cool before you try to remove them from the baking sheets. Place in a large ziplock bag or other air tight container to store them (they will last for up to 3-4 days this way!).

For the peaches, simply place the thawed peaches (or mostly thawed is fine), brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 2 hours. Most slow cookers will keep food on a warming setting once the cook time is over, and this is perfect for a party so guests can assemble their dessert whenever they are ready. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon to remove excess liquid when you are ready to serve.

For the whipped cream, you probably don't need any directions. But, just in case, beat the heavy cream on high for a couple minutes until it begins to thicken. Slowly add the sugar and then bourbon. Once the mixture looks like, well, whipped cream, you're done. Store covered in the refrigerator if you don't need it right away, but it's best if you use the whipped cream the day it is made.

Peach pavlova parfaitThanks for letting me share my fancy-seeming but actually way-easy-to-make-ahead dessert! xo. Emma

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

How to Apply Bronzer Like a Pro

Pro tips for applying bronzerPro tips for applying bronzer. I love using powder bronzer to contour. It's quick and easy and looks very natural when done properly. This is how I incorporate bronzer into my every day routine.

How to apply bronzerBest bronzer and brushStep One: Bronzer goes on after face makeup (foundation, concealer, and powder) but before blush. You can use any type of brush you like. My personal preference is a brush with soft, short bristles so I can control my placement.

How to apply bronzer  Step Two: Using a sweeping motion, you're going to imagine that you're drawing a number 3 on your face. Bronzer should go along the hairline/upper forehead, just below the cheekbone and just below the jawline. 

How to apply bronzer Step Three: Blending is super important, especially down the neck. Make sure everything is smoothly blended. If you feel like there's a harsh line that you can't get rid of, try using a little bit of translucent powder to smooth it out. 

Pro tips for applying bronzer.  This is a great trick for when you know you're going to be photographed! Just like the contouring with concealers, sometimes it takes a bit if practice to get the placement right. Emma has killer cheekbones, so she's a great example of where to put the product! xo. -AnnaRose

Credits // Author: AnnaRose Kern. Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions.

Modern House Number DIY

Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)             Have you ever gone to a party at a house you haven't been to before and driven slowly up and down the street squinting at all the front porches trying to spot the right house numbers? I always appreciate visible house numbers in situations like that, but I figured there must be a better way to display your address than the standard format. I came up with this house address DIY and tried it out on our studio space. Now we have the cutest address on the block (at least in my opinion...)! Ready to add a little personality and fun to your front porch?

Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)Supplies:
-house numbers (I used these)
-faux grass (I bought mine at Michael's but this is similar)
-3/4" wood* (you can also use a shadow box display case of the right size instead of making your own box)
-2 1/2" wood screws
-wood glue
-exterior paint
-multi-surface glue

*Like I mention in the supply list, you don't have to make your own box from scratch for this project. A shadow box with the glass removed will also work, but I've been practicing my woodworking skills, so I wanted to make the box myself too.

Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)  Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)   If you are also into making the box yourself (yay!), you'll want to cut your wood into the dimensions above to create the back panel and sides of the box. These dimensions worked perfectly for the size of my house numbers, but you'll want to adjust the size of box you make (or shadow display case that you buy) to fit the numbers you want to use.  

Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)    Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)      Once your wood is cut, put some wood glue on the bottom inside edge of each of the side panels, place them up against the appropriate side of the back panel, and nail into place (either with a nail gun or with a hammer once the glue is dry).

Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)     Once your box is put together, fill the nail holes with wood filler. Sand flat when the filler is dry. Now you can paint your box your desired color. I would suggest using an exterior paint since this is an outdoor project, but if your house numbers will be under a deep porch like ours are, you could probably get away with interior paint instead. If you bought a shadow display case, remove the glass and paint the frame at this point if you want to.

Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial) While your paint is drying, cut your grass mats to fit inside your box.

Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)       Put some multi-surface glue on the bottom of the inside of the box and place the grass on top of the glue. Allow the glue to dry.

Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)        Arrange the house numbers on top of the grass and drill screws into the box that correspond with the holes on the back of the numbers. You want to use screws that are long enough to be just a bit shorter than the height of your grass when screwed in so that the numbers will look like they are nestled into the grass when you hang them on the screws. 

Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)         Once your numbers are in place, you can either place hangers on the back of your box and hang the house number sign using vinyl siding clips (or use brick clips on a brick house), or you can place screws directly through the box into the siding. We had several holes in our spot already from an old mailbox that used to hang there, so we figured we may as well add two more since they would all get covered up by the sign anyway.

Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)                 Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)            Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)
Love this! Modern House Number DIY (click through for tutorial)           If eyes are the "window to the soul" of the face, then front porches are something equivalent to that for the rest of the house.  Porches really show the personality of those inside, and I think these house numbers are the perfect compliment to our bright teal door. They let the outside world know that this is a fun house on the outside and inside too. Think you'll spruce up your home numbers as well? xo. Laura

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

How to Hardwire a Light Fixture

How to Safely Hardwire a Light- a great skill to learn!The simplest act of switching out a light fixture can dramatically change the atmosphere of a room. But if you don't know how to hardwire a light, it's not such a simple act, is it? I've spent all of my adult life calling my dad whenever I've wanted a light fixture changed. It's gotten to the point that I could never move away, or I would be doomed to live with ugly lights for the rest of my days. Or else call an electrician, I guess. But why would I do that when I'm perfectly capable of learning how to hardwire a light myself?

I had three lights that needed changed during our recent renovations, and instead of calling Dad to hardwire them for me, I asked him if he could walk me through the process. You guys, it's so easy— I don't know why I thought it was so scary! It's a good skill to keep in your mental tool box (aka brain), so read on to find out how simple it is to hardwire a light without calling an electrician.

How to Safely Hardwire a Light- a great skill to learn!When we first moved into our house, I thought I'd probably replace our kitchen light right away with the light from our old bedroom at my brother's house, but I never got around to it. Pretty soon, the kitchen light became invisible to me. I never really noticed it until we began renovating our kitchen, when it suddenly stood out against all of the changes we were making. So as things were wrapping up with our renovation, we swapped out the light that came with the house for the light from my old bedroom.

How to Safely Hardwire a Light- a great skill to learn!Supplies:
-wire stripper
-wire nuts*
-optional: voltage detector
-screw driver (You may need both a flat head and a Phillips head depending on the hardware for your light.)

*Wire Nuts

Wire nuts are for finishing the connection of wires from the light to the wires coming out of the electrical box in the ceiling. You can select the type of nut for your project by looking at the box of nuts and seeing what wire groupings they're rated for. These yellow nuts are rated for 1-3 12 gauge wires, or 600 volts maximum. You are probably only going to be joining two 12 gauge or two 14 gauge wires with the nuts.

Wire Gauges & Safety Warning

If you're working with a 15 amp circuit, the wiring will probably be 14 gauge, though a thicker 12 gauge wire is acceptable as well. If you're working on a 20 amp circuit, you need to be sure the wires are 12 gauge, which is thicker than 14 gauge wire. If you're not sure about the amps on the circuit, just check your breaker box— the number should be right next to the switch. Don't assume you're working with 12 gauge wire just because they're on a 20 amp circuit. Use scrap pieces of partially stripped wire to compare and verify what gauge wire you're working with.

Older homes often use 20 amp circuits, which may be wired with 14 gauge wires. This is a fire hazard and will not pass inspection. Rather than upgrading all of the wiring on that circuit to 12 gauge, you can just downgrade the circuit to 15 amps to meet code standards.

How to Safely Hardwire a Light- a great skill to learn!Step One: Turn off the breaker for the circuit housing your light. To make sure you have the right circuit, turn on the light. Flip the switch on the breaker box, and if the light turns off, you're good to go. This would be a good time to label the breaker if you haven't yet so you don't have to guess in the future.

Step Two: Remove the existing light from the ceiling by twisting bolts and pulling it away. Remove the old wire nuts and untwist the wires. Loosen the grounding bolt and remove the grounding wire. My house doesn't have a grounding wire coming from the electrical box, so I only had to remove the grounding wire from the light. Finally, remove the screws that are securing the metal plate and remove both the screws and the plate.

Step Three: Determine which of the two wires is the hot wire. This is the one that will shock you if it's live. Usually black wires are hot wires while white ones are neutral, but my house just had red wires. We flipped the breaker back on and used a voltage detector to determine which wire was hot (it lights up red around the hot wire), then flipped off the breaker before continuing.

How to Safely Hardwire a Light- a great skill to learn!Step Four: Decide how much slack you want in your hanging chord if it's a pendant light. This can be adjusted later. To set our chord length, we used a strain relief that was tightened by screws. Some lights just use a plastic piece that looks like an s-hook.

Step Five: Mount the light fixture's metal plate to the electrical box with the mounting screws. This is what keeps the light securely in place. Make sure the wires from the electrical box are coming out from one side of the metal plate.

How to Safely Hardwire a Light- a great skill to learn!Step Six: This can be done at any point in the process. You'll need to strip away the plastic sleeve of the wires to expose enough wire to twist together. Wire strippers have a series of holes in them for various gauges of wire which prevents the cutters from touching the copper part— you only want to cut away the plastic.

Step Seven: Twist together the neutral wire from the electrical box and the neutral wire from the lamp's chord. Do the same with the hot wire. Like I mentioned in step three, usually neutral wires are white and hot wires are black, but that's not always the case, so it's a good idea to verify the hot wire with a voltage detector.

If you have a grounding wire in your electrical box, connect it along with the lamp's grounding wire to the grounding bolt as shown in image two.

How to Safely Hardwire a Light- a great skill to learn!Step Eight: Twist wire nuts onto the wire connection. Then shove the wires and excess lamp chord back into the electrical box.

Step Nine: Twist the light fixture into the metal plate using whatever connectors are provided with your light fixture. Mine just twisted into place at the base of the chord.

How to Safely Hardwire a Light- a great skill to learn!Wiring a light is a great skill for any DIYer to have, but if you're uncomfortable doing this yourself, you should invite someone skilled to observe you the first time. I've had college level training on electrical wiring and building plans, but I was still too nervous to try it myself until recently.

How to Safely Hardwire a Light- a great skill to learn!Working with electricity is a little intimidating if you're inexperienced, but if you follow my safety tips and have a second set of eyes on your work, it's not something to be afraid of. -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella of the Signature Collection.

Breakfast Root Cake

Root cake   (click for more info) It's been a few years now, but I used to work at a little neighborhood market in Nashville. Before then, I had never tried (or even considered) eating beets and never even heard of celery root. The produce guy talked me into trying them out, and ever since then, I've loved eating and incorporating them into different dishes. I feel like I missed out on so much by not trying things! I don't even consider myself a picky eater. I just thought I didn't like certain things for some weird reason. I only found out a couple years ago that I like peanut butter...what was I doing with my life? :/

Since then I have tried to try everything and anything that I might initially think wouldn't be very good. By branching out, I'm able to discover that I like most everything and that there are some amazing flavors out there! Like peanut butter.

One of my favorite dishes that's become a staple around our house is called root cake. It was a dish that I messed with when I first discovered celery root and fell in love with beets. It's a great hearty weekend morning breakfast (or brunch) dish.

Root cake (click for more info) Root Cake, serves 3-4

1 medium celery root
1 medium beet
2-3 smaller carrots
2-3 smallish red potatoes (or 1 sweet potato)
1 red onion
1 bunch of cilantro
2-3 fresh garlic cloves
about 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
5-6 eggs
feta for the top (feta's betta)
salt, pepper, cayenne, and cumin to taste

Root cake - chopping (click for more info) Alright, so this dish is super easy, and (I think) fun to make. I love chopping veggies. At the studio, we have the heaviest cast iron skillet. I think it weighs close to 50 lbs (maybe a little more.) It works, but I'd prefer a lighter weight medium to large nonstick pan. (No offense, Emma!) I started out by getting the skillet heated with a bit of butter (you can also use olive or coconut oil). Then it was chopping time, starting with the denser veggies like the beet, celery root, potatoes, and carrots. They were chopped into smaller than bite size pieces.  I probably cut about a cup to a cup and half's worth of each. I threw the veggies in as I cut them. The pan was about medium to high heat at this point. After stirring the veggies in with the butter and letting them fry for a few minutes, I started on the rest of the veggies (cilantro and onion and sunflower seeds). I save the garlic for very last. 

Root cake (click for more info)    Stir fry the veggies on medium to high heat till they are almost cooked through. Then turn the heat way down. I don't want them overcooking while the eggs cook, and with the lower heat, it can take close to 10-15 minutes. When the celery starts warming up, it emits a very unique savory smell. So good!

Root cake - pouring eggs (click for more info) As soon as the veggies are ready, I flatten them out in the pan. Then pour the (not overly) whipped eggs over top.  I don't mix the eggs in with the veggies. I just want them to cook, and everything will come together at the end. 

Root cake - cover solution (click for more info) Since the skillet doesn't have a lid, I improvised and stuck a cookie sheet on top while the eggs firmed up. I try to keep everything covered as long as possible without peeking – it helps to have a glass lid. :)

When the eggs look about done, I flip the entire thing, which was impossible with the 90 (or more) pound skillet. So I just kept everything covered, and the eggs eventually cooked through. I season everything when it is about 5 minutes from being done. I even throw the minced garlic in at this stage. Garlic that is just warm enough that you can smell it, is one of the best smells in the universe! 

Root cake (click for more info)       When everything is cooked just right, cut it into slices and serve with a bit of fresh cilantro, some feta (or salsa or both), and some sliced tomato. This hearty, nutty, rooty dish will get you and 2-3 people nice and full and ready for the day. 

Have any of you guys ever cooked with celery root before? What did you use it for? -Josh

Root cake (click for more info)

Credits // Author: Joshua Rhodes. Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Piper from the Signature Collection.

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