Chocolate Orange Madeleine Cookies (via abeautifulmess.com)I feel sort of bad because I don't have anything red, white and blue to share with you before our Fourth of July weekend begins. Total fail on that. I'm pretty sure you can click around and find plenty, but still.

No, instead I decided to fill your mind with thoughts of chocolaty goodness—total weekend food no matter what you're celebrating this weekend. 

Chocolate Madeleine Cookies (via abeautifulmess.com)Before we jump into how to make these deceptively easy cookies, I just need to point out a possible serving option. I HIGHLY recommend you slice these in half and fill with Nutella and fresh strawberries (or raspberries). It's the tops! You go from just a good cookie to A TOTALLY AMAZING WHOOPIE PIE.

Just saying.

Chocolate madeleine recipe Chocolate & Orange Madeleines, makes one dozen standard size madeleines.

4 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup melted, cooled butter
zest from one orange

In a bowl beat together the eggs, sugar and salt until well combined and the batter begins to slightly change in color. Stir in the vanilla.

Chocolate madeleine recipeStir in the flour and cocoa. Then stir in the melted and slightly cooled butter. Stir until just combined and nearly no lumps remain in your batter (you do not need to over mix here).

Naked orange!Excuse me, but your rind is showing. 

(Lame naked fruit joke.)

Now add in the orange zest. Then spoon the batter into your buttered madeleine pan. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Allow to cool for just a few minutes before removing from the pan to a cooling rack.

Chocolate Orange Madeleine Cookies (via abeautifulmess.com) If you've never had madeleines before, they are dense and cake-y. Great for making little whoopie pies (as already explained) or you can serve one or two along side a scoop of ice cream. You can also just eat them warm out of the oven by yourself while still wearing your dusty apron. Maybe you can guess which one I did. :) Enjoy and happy 4th of July weekend! xo. Emma

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

Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)We moved into our little corner of Brooklyn a little over three years ago. And silly enough, it has taken me all three years to truly appreciate our back porch. Our porch was sort of the saving grace for this move initially. We didn't have the big open kitchen, nor did we have tons of closets, but we had a porch—a shared backyard too. But there was just something about the exclusivity of our porch that really got me. 

I had initially planned to have it all ready many summers ago, but life got in the way. This spring, instead of setting an actual date, I worked on it gradually, giving myself space to design and think. And you know what? It was much more enjoyable than I could have imagined! Every free moment I had I put into our porch. I purchased plants and rugs gradually, and it wasn't as much of a "project," as it was simply a hobby of mine for some time. Last week, I finally completed the porch! It's kid-friendly, comfortable, and it's ours to enjoy—that feels so incredibly good to say.
 
Here are iPhone images of it before.
 
Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)
 See, not terrible, but not amazing. Right?
 
Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)  Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)  Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)
Of course, I decided to add lots of plants and flowers. We even have a strawberry plant and some basil growing about. The kids get to help pick things for dinner and snacks. I've noticed that the hardness of a space tends to disappear when you add colorful flowers and an array of easy plants. That was my goal, and I think I accomplished it. It also helped bring in the space, to make it a little more cozy. 
 
Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)      Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)      Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)      Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)
The other end of the porch I saved for more adult watching and relaxing. I found a comfortable school chair on the street that is great for withstanding inclement weather. And then to help lift up the patterns in the rugs and flowers, I received this vintage Eames chair from Patina NYC, which is extremely comfortable. 
 
I also took some time to slowly collect old coffee cans to use as planters. A while ago, a friend of mine gave me one, and I've been hooked ever since. By simply drilling a hole in the bottom and two holes in the back, they become fantastic hanging planters. I really want to add more, but I know that will take time since I thrift them all locally. The plants are hanging on a little fence we purchased at Home Depot and an old window gate as well. The gate is heavy and weird and beautiful to me, so it worked well in the space. I also hung some lights around the fence and gate for nighttime use. 
 
Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)          Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)          Cute makeover for a small outdoor space! (click through for more)
I'm not going to go so far as to say the porch wasn't functional before, it definitely was. But it wasn't me, and it didn't inspire us to enjoy it. Now, our baby Oak climbs under the window and taps at the wall and points outside first thing in the morning. River keeps inviting all of her little friends to come play in her "garwen," and my husband and I are completely enjoying it for our simple date nights when the kids go down. I know our summer in New York City is fleeting, and I am excited to finally have this space completed to enjoy it even more. 
 
Thanks for letting me show you our space! - LaTonya 
 
Sources: Rugs/ Fab Habitat, Salmon Chair/ Patina NYC, Table/ Ikea, Fence/ Home Depot, Lights and Bolga Basket/ Amazon
 
Credits// Author: LaTonya Staubs. Photography: Peter and LaTonya Staubs. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions 

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)         Here in the USA, the 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. I'm a total summer girl at heart, so I always love a good outdoor hangout regardless, but my family used to live next to the main park of our township so we could actually see all the firework festivities from our front yard. I love seeing all the fun red, white and blue foods and treats that people come up with for their celebrations, but when I saw that you can make cupcakes look like snow cones, I knew I had found the winner for this year's celebration. It's not much more work than making regular cupcakes, so with just a few decorative tweaks, you can have the cutest treats on the block!

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Supplies:
-box cake mix
-colored and white sugar crystals
-white sugar

-white icing 
-food coloring
-paper cupcake liners
-small spoons or straws to decorate with

Mix your box cake with the ingredients listed on the package. Fill each paper liner with cupcake batter until it's a little over 1/2 full (make sure you buy paper liners that are for baking though, some are lined with a wax lining that can't go in the oven). Place the liners on a baking sheet and bake until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before icing.

Also, if you can't get a hold of paper baking cups you like, you can also bake them in regular cupcake liners and then place them into short styrofoam cups to hide the liners.

Have to make these! Snow Cone Cupcakes (click for tutorial)Take your white icing and divide it into the number of icing colors you want. Use the food coloring to create your desired hues.

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       For the solid colored snow cones, ice the cupcakes until it just touches the paper rim of the cup.

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Mix together some plain white sugar, white crystals, and the colored crystals that match your icing color. Place your iced cupcake on a large plate and pour your crystal mix over the top and sides of the cupcake until it's covered. Use your fingers and palm to gently push the crystals into the icing so more of them will stick, and gently shake off any excess.

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       For a multi-colored snow cone, ice a mohawk of icing down the middle of your cupcake, shake that color of crystal on top, and press the crystals down gently.

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Ice the side of your cupcake the second color, and repeat the process. I found it easiest to hold the iced cupcake over the plate at an angle and then pour the second color of crystals onto the icing getting as close as I could to the cupcake so I could control where the crystals fell. Repeat again with the third color and you're done!

To make it a little easier if you aren't as confident in your icing skills, just frost the whole cupcake white and sprinkle on each sugar color with a small spoon to get the multi-color effect. I think it looks best with the colored icing underneath, but it would still be pretty darn cute either way...

Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Have to make these! Snow Cone cupcakes (click for tutorial)       Complete your look with tiny spoons or cut paper straws into shorter pieces and stick those in each one to add a bit of fun. Aren't they just the best?? I love novelty food ideas that only take a little bit more effort to make a much bigger impact than the regular version.

Of course, this can be done at any summer gathering if you tweak the color selection a bit, so don't feel like this is only a 4th of July treat. Hope these make an appearance at one of your summer parties! xo. Laura

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

How to light paint with sparklersLight painting is a beautiful phrase, isn't it? Light painting happens when your camera records the movement of light. In this post I'm going to show you how to paint with light using sparklers!

Spelling words with sparklers tutorialI'm sure you've seen the photos with sparklers lighting up a picture with text or shapes. Today I'll share with you some quick tips on how to achieve this look with your camera. 

 What you will need:
-a DSLR camera
-a tripod or something to set your camera on
-sparklers!
 
Wait until dusk to get the best results with your sparklers.
 
How to spell words with sparklersThe light is really low right after golden hour, but you should  have a tiny bit left to light up your scene. The light from your sparklers will not be as strong because it is not pitch black, but that's OK. If you are trying this out for the first time, I would hold off photographing in pitch black until you can really master light painting with your camera.
 
Light painting with sparklers   Some photographers like the ambient light from magic hour and others don't. It's totally up to you! If you do decide to shoot in the dark, bring a flashlight and buddy to hold it for you. Set your camera on a sturdy tripod or sturdy spot (pile of books, table, etc.).
 
Why use a tripod?
When you have to keep your shutter open for a long period of time, you will get camera shake, which means that your picture/scene will be blurry. You want to make sure that your scene is as sharp as possible.
 
In-camera technical tips:
To ensure you get a sharp image, take your f-stop to a higher number (more depth of field). That way more of your scene will be in focus. Turn your ISO down to 100 (this will reduce grain/noise in your photo).
 
Light painting with sparklers
Focus tips for photographing in the dark:
If you are photographing a really dark scene, your camera will have a tough time finding your subject. To focus your scene, have your subject light themselves with a flashlight, turn your lens to manual focus, and focus your scene until it appears sharp in your viewfinder.
 
Another way to do it is to set your lens to auto focus (AF) and have your camera focus on the lit subject. Once the scene looks sharp, switch your lens back to manual (M) mode. This will freeze the focus! 
 
It is really important that your subject doesn't move once you have locked in your focus. When your subject is ready, have them move the sparkler. If you have a ten second shutter speed, tell your subject when to start and how long they will have to move the sparkler around. A faster sparkler movement will create more fluid lines, a slower sparkler movement will have more choppy lines.
 
 Light painting with sparklers
It's all about the shutter speed.
 
Why use a long shutter speed?
A longer shutter speed means that your camera shutter (the part of your camera that opens to let in the light...think of it as a door) will be open for a long period of time. While your shutter is open, it will record everything that happens in that time frame. This is where the term "light painting" comes into play. Light painting is just a fancy way to describe the light's movement. When you are writing, cursive looks best because your camera will pick up all of the light's movement.  Shapes are really fun and easy too!
  
Pro tip: If you want to spell a word with sparklers, you'll need to spell it backwards or have your back face the camera. 
 
Light painting with sparklers
Quick tip: Use this same technique with fireworks. The effect is very cool. With your camera and a slow shutter speed, you can capture the firework's path while ascending up into the sky! -Janae
 
P.S. Did some of the technical terms in this post leave you feeling lost? Check out our DSLR Basics e-Course which is designed to help you understand all the necessary basics (and beyond!) of using your DSLR camera! 
 
Credits//Author and Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

My favorite peach pieHappy Wednesday! Here's a look back at our favorite posts from June. Let's start with food!

Spicy tempeh taco salad5 veggie-based breakfast smoothiesBeet-dyed deviled eggsEasy (and healthy) 3 ingredient ice creamWe shared some delicious recipes including Emma's favorite peach pie, baked rosemary parmesan chickpeas, spicy tempeh taco salad, pineapple coconut daiquiri (in a pineapple cup!), veggie-based breakfast smoothiesbeet-dyed deviled eggs, easy (and healthy) 3 ingredient ice cream, rose-flavored rock candy, and more!

Elsie's Nashville home tour video (before)We're opening a bar!Elsie bought a house in Nashville (you can read about her moving plans here) and shared her Nashville video home tour (before). Another exciting announcement this month—we are opening a bar!

Style Muse Mad MenStyle Muse Life AquaticWe started a new series called Style Muse. Super fun! Laura showed us her Mad Men look and Elsie chose The Life Aquatic for hers. Have any future requests?

At Home with Janae HardyWe love featuring our readers' homes every week! This space was amazing. And you can see all our wonderful At Home With features here

DIY stained glass soapFaux stained glass bottles5 temporary cake stand ideasVintage-inspired toySo many fun craft projects! We showed you how to make stained glass soap, colorblocked clay coasters, faux stained glass bottlestemporary cake stands, needle felting on a photo, a vintage-inspired wooden toy, magnetic ironing mat, and more!

How to choose a color story for your home10 tips to add personality to a rentalCustomize stairs with removable wallpaperDecorating tips were on our mind last month. Elsie wrote a really helpful post about choosing a color story for your home. We also showed you ways to add personality to a rental, and an easy way to customize your stairs with removable wallpaper!

Fashion Mixology via abeautifulmess.com

My homemade denim dressLast but not least, we brought back our Fashion Mixology series and created 8 outfits from 8 pieces, and Emma made the cutest denim dress (without a pattern!).

Here's to July! xo. - The ABM Team

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