Baby Lola’s First Photo Book

Life as a parent can be quite the whirlwind. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine and forget to stop occasionally and document all the milestones that have happened recently. I wanted to make sure and capture the first few months of our daughter Lola’s life in a little photo book before time got the best of us, so I made a little collection of some highlights from the first three months.I love to use these mini photo books when making small albums and I usually just print all my photos onto a 8.5 x 11″ sheet of photo paper and then cut them out myself with an X-Acto knife, ruler, and cutting mat. I also stock up on different sized gold letter stickers whenever I see them because I can always find a place for those …Since this is a baby book, I used different sized gold letters for the inside of the photo book to give it an alphabet feel (I love those marquee letters).I also cut-to-size a sweet “happy new baby” card that my friend Sarah sent me to use as the opening image—it works perfectly! I LOVE having an instax printer so I can make any photo into cute little instax. Printing some of the birth center pics this way really gives them a special look that sets them apart from the other photos in the book. Did you know I had a birthday baby? How crazy is that?!I also included her newborn, one, two, and three month progress photos as well. They help show how much she has already changed in just a few months (excuse me while I go weep over that) and they also serve as little chapter dividers since the photos are chronological as well.  She loves her baby gym right now … if you’re looking for good toys, that pizza teether, rainbow ball, and bunny are some of my faves.AGH, she’s the best!! Those portraits above were taken by Elsie when I took Lola to meet Emma and they are just too heart melting for words. It’s fun to commemorate special moments like her first bath or meeting her extended family (that’s her and my Grandma in the one photo—too cute!), but I know there will be so many more special moments in the future, so there’s a lot to look forward to! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
3 Comments | leave a comment

3 Traits of Being Boss 

Today, I wanted to do something a little different. Last year, I had the great pleasure of getting to speak at the Thrive Creative Conference. And although I would definitely describe myself as an introvert, I love the challenge of getting up to speak at events like this every now and again. I also LOVE getting to meet online friends and blog readers IRL. So I was absolutely delighted to deliver the keynote at Thrive last year. As I started work on a new speech (for a different event that recently got canceled, sadly), I thought it might be fun to turn my Thrive speech into a blog post for you all. Why not?! And although the experience of reading a post is pretty different from attending a conference, I still thought it might be fun and beneficial to share what I talked about with all of you.

I choose to talk about three important traits that I think you must have in order to be boss. Not to be the boss. But in order to be excellent or first-rate (which is one of the definitions of “boss,” according to Merriam-Webster), you need certain traits or habits in your life.

Starting a talk off by essentially saying, “I’m gonna tell you how to be awesome” is a bit of a gamble, right? Ha! Of course we all want to be awesome, but figuring out a sustainable path to said awesomeness is a daunting task. And I, for one, am not an expert. I do not claim to be awesome, BUT I do claim to have learned some really valuable lessons while on my own journey so far.

(Here’s me speaking at Thrive. Was all black a good choice? Hmm.)

I shared the story of how I became a blogger and small business owner. It’s a story that starts off with a pretty epic fail. You can read a longer version of the story in my post On Changing Dreams, but essentially my dream was to become an actress. After a few years of trying in Los Angeles, I not only was not an actress, I didn’t want to be one anymore. So then I was broke AND I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life (I also went through a big breakup that year—it was a pretty tough year, to say the least). From this failure I have learned SO much. In fact, I would say at this point in my life I wouldn’t change that part of my story for the world because although it was a really hard time to go through, I learned so much about myself, what I want, and how to keep going through hard times. I don’t really even view it as a failure anymore, but more on that in a minute. The point of sharing my story of failure was to showcase how I learned some valuable lessons that once I started putting those in place, life totally changed. My life is not perfect, and I am NOT perfect (oh my, not by a long shot). But I am so, so happy in life right now and I think it’s in large part to learning how to be boss. 😉

Trait #1: Set Measurable Goals Often.

I really believe that this is the key to achieving most of things you may want to do in life. It spans pretty much any area that you can think of (fitness/health, career, personal finances, hobbies, etc.). So let’s unpack this trait a little. First, the goals we set must be measurable. This is SO important. You have to have some kind of measurement for if you have succeeded or not. Let’s say my goal is to “get healthy.” That’s going to be a lot harder to measure than a goal like “lose five pounds” or “run a mile everyday for a month” or “find and meet with a primary care physician I feel good about.” The goal really can be anything, but it MUST be measurable. Otherwise you’ll never know if you’ve achieved it and you’ll forever be in a nebulous state of trying.

Second, you should set these measurable goals OFTEN. I’m talking monthly or even weekly, depending on the goal. There are two main reasons for this. You want the goals to be somewhat bite-sized. I am ALL for big goals and dreams. But it’s important to take those big dreams of yours and break them down into smaller, measurable goals you can work toward. And you also want to be setting goals often because it will help you get good at it. I believe goal-setting is like a muscle. You have to exercise it! If you want to be a world-crusher who achieves big things, set goals often so you’re goal-setting muscles can grow strong! An easy way to get into this is to make to-do lists everyday. Set daily goals. Set larger weekly goals. When you’re ready, think big picture and work on mapping out some five-year goals. It’s all good, but even with the big goals you have, look to break them down into small, measurable bites. Start with a to-do list everyday (even on the weekend, people, but it can be shorter or you can include “chill out for an hour” on the list) because it is the habit of making small, meaningful changes over the course of a long period of time that can change your life. It’s real. It’s almost like magic. Really slow magic.

Trait #2: Embrace Learning and Failure.

Here’s the thing that I wish someone would have told me a long time ago: Failure is part of it. It’s not a thing to avoid or be embarrassed of. I’m not saying we should aim for failure. And I would never wish failure on anyone, because it stings for sure. But it’s part of the path to success. So don’t think you can avoid it. When it comes your way, learn from it and keep going. Don’t label yourself a failure and throw a pity party. I’ve wasted valuable time doing that and it’s not helpful and doesn’t even feel good. If you’re going through a hurtful time, I’m not asking you to ignore it or stuff those feelings away as if they aren’t there. No, I’m telling you to embrace it. Embrace failure for what it truly is, a part of almost every successful person’s journey.

I also believe that if you really want to be boss, you’ve got embrace lifelong learning. We try to encourage and model this on A Beautiful Mess (hopefully it shows!). Sometimes it’s hard to admit that you don’t know everything—but I actually think there’s a lot of power in that too. Now if you happen to be very knowledgeable in a certain area or a bunch of areas, I’m not suggesting that you claim ignorance or hide the fact that you may be an expert. That’s awesome and I hope you find ways to share your expertise with the world. But no one knows it all. That’s simply impossible. So if you really want to be boss in life, you’ve got to accept that you have a long journey ahead that should be full of learning and asking for help. (Me too!) This goes hand in hand with being able to embrace failure. I think it’s true humility, a very boss trait.

Trait #3: Power Through or Shrug Off Negativity.

I think most often we all think of online trolls (haters) when someone says the word “negativity” on the internet. And I’ll get to that. But I actually think there are two more prevalent and more powerful potential sources of negativity in our lives.

First, it’s you. I am (and you are) probably our own worst hater. There really isn’t anyone else that points out my flaws and shortcomings as often as I do. And while I do think being honest with yourself is important, constantly putting yourself down is self defeating and can be really difficult to move past. It can become a habit we fall into that keeps us from living that happy, fulfilling life we all want. There’s no easy way out of this. Like most bad habits we have to break, it’s going to be a daily struggle full of small (but important) choices that eventually gets easier. Instead of putting yourself down all the time, be intentional about building yourself up. Write lists of things you love about yourself. Treat yourself when you achieve a goal. When you do mess up or something doesn’t turn out how you wanted, don’t turn it into a personal attack, but rather think through how things could be improved for next time. Give yourself the same grace you would give your best friend.

And on that note, the second biggest potential source of negativity in our lives is from close relationships. If you have people in your life that you spend a lot of time with that constantly put you down, I really want to urge you to evaluate that. It is really hard when this is a relationship you didn’t necessarily choose (a parent, sibling, or close family member). In those cases, you will just have to navigate it as best you can, but please think of yourself and your own well being as part of the equation, as I know many of us tend to just think of others and always put others first. There has to be a balance there. But for relationships we choose (friends, spouses, etc.), I urge you to choose people who fill you up with love and encouragement. You should work to be this friend for others, and therefore you should expect the same in return. You deserve love, we all do.

But what about the peanut gallery? This is a term I’m totally stealing from Brene´ Brown (from her book, Rising Strong, which is awesome and you should read!). Let’s talk about a third and final source of negativity which pretty much includes everyone who doesn’t fall into the first two groups. This could be people who follow you on IG, or your blog, or just people you casually know but you mostly see on Facebook or something like that. So what about negativity from this area, from haters? This is going to sound incredibly simple, but here’s what I honestly think as someone who has had to deal with this type of negativity. If there is something useful and truthful about what they are saying, try to learn from it. If there isn’t, ignore it. If you can learn and grow from the negativity, then think of it as a small failure (aka the path to success) and let it change you for the better (even though, yes, it will hurt a little). But if you read something that there really isn’t any way for you to grow from it, then put on your blinders and ignore it because we’ve got to-do lists to conquer and boss lives to live. Ignore, ignore, ignore. I promise, it gets easier as you go.

(What face am I making here? Ha!)

BONUS Boss Trait: Be Guided by Love.

I said this during my speech last year but it feels even more relevant today. If you really want to be boss in life, you should aim to be guided by love. Yes, have big goals in life that you go after. But the big picture goal of your life should not be about profits, or achievements, or fame; it should be about love. It’s what truly matters.

You should love yourself. It’s easy to overlook. Try to seek some balance, self-care, and let go of guilt in your life in order to truly love yourself. You should love others: coworkers, team members, family, followers, friends, and yes, even those haters. Use your goal-setting muscles to make some plans around ways you can love yourself, your family, your friends, your work family, and your community. A true boss leaves the world a better place as she moves through it.

Of course if you have questions, let me know in the comments. And thanks for letting me share the main points of this past speech with you all! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Sarah Rhodes and images from the conference are from Kati Hewitt.
23 Comments | leave a comment

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom RevealWhen we were house shopping, the master bathroom was one of the things that drew us to this property. The original clawfoot tub is such a treasure and the light in this room is incredible! We fell in love with this space and I have no doubt that our guests will as well.

Decorating this room was a complete dream. Since I committed to completely new inspiration for this project, I have had the MOST fun stretching outside my typical comfort zone. I am so happy with how this room came out with a relatively small and budget-friendly makeover.

This post is sponsored by Delta Faucets. Like many of our sponsors, I have been a longtime fan and customer of this company before they became a sponsor. They are one of my go-to sources for beautiful and affordable faucets (I used them in my own home as well), and so I am proud to have them as a sponsor on this project. They have several exclusive faucets and bath products available at The Home Depot and there are a variety of styles and finishes to choose from! All of the faucets in this post are available there.

I am super excited to share all the details from my bnb master bathroom today. But first, a walk down memory lane!

BeforeThis room was formerly painted purple (along with the master bedroom). We were able to keep the frosted block window that is private while still letting in a lot of light. We also updated the existing vanity and kept a lot of the bones of this room intact, while just changing colors and finishes. My friend who does a lot of house flips calls a room like this a “fluffy do,” meaning it looks like a big makeover, but really it’s just cosmetic changes (i.e. big, fluffy Glamour Shots hair??).

Before I was inspired by this little nook, but something felt kind of off. I knew it had a lot of potential, but I needed to up the cozy factor a lot.

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal
#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal
To upgrade the bathtub, without replacing, we painted the outside of the tub (it was already painted, probably many times though the years). We used the color Thunderbolt by Valspar, same as what we used in the bedroom. I plan to use it bit by bit throughout the entire home.

We also added a fancy Matte Black standing faucet by Delta. I love the contrast of the black faucet against the crisp white. Choosing higher contrast design in this home has been super fun.

In case you’re curious, there is a shower downstairs in this home. I know some of you will probably say we should make this into a shower, but I had a shower like this in our previous home and it was not my favorite—the curtains kind of stick to you from all sides. Didn’t love it. I think it’s 100% better as a bath (but feel free to disagree). I LOVE baths! #executivedecisions

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal #ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal #ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal Let’s talk about this color scheme! Like I said above, the green paint color is Thunderbolt by Valspar and the white is Marshmallow (which we recently learned is a universal color, so you can order it from any paint brand, I believe—we’ve done Valspar and Sherwin Williams). I also mixed some neutrals. Normally I would never think to mix gray and brown, but it felt right in small doses and I love it. Along with pops of black.

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal One of the best ways I’ve found to save a good amount of money on a bathroom or kitchen renovation is to reuse the existing vanity or cabinetry. It also reduces waste. In this room, we painted the existing cabinet, added new hardware and had a new quartz counter made. I LOVE quartz because it won’t stain or scratch, so it’s great for having lots of guests. I like to get the super square, modern edges.

By the way, the paint finish on the tub is semi gloss and the vanity is satin.

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal Above the toilet can be an awkward space, so I almost always add a shelf or two. I snagged these from Target along with art that was on sale for $13.

We swapped out the toilet handle and toilet paper holder with these from Delta. Little details like this make a room feel intentional and pulled together (even though we didn’t even replace the toilet).

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal These are actually the same Delta faucets I have in my bathroom, just in Matte Black here. They are technically bar faucets, but they work great for bathrooms.

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal
#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal My number one tip for creating a guest space of any kind is to use it yourself. If you make a guest room, spend a night or two in it. If it’s a guest bathroom, get ready there without relying on your other spaces. This is the best way I’ve found to notice little improvements you can make like adding an extra hair dryer, putting some travel toiletries in a drawer in case something is forgotten or making sure there are the right lineup of towels. I highly recommend keeping light and dark towels and wash cloths in a guest bathroom! White towels can get ruined really easily with makeup or hair dye.

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal On the other side of this room we spruced up the empty wall with a cute bench and print. Then we made the window seat area a lot more cozy with a mini rug, some cushions, a small table and a new curtain.

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal When I design a room with a lot of white (which is often), I try to add as much texture as possible. A soft pattern on the curtains, and a textured pillow and rug make this space feel inviting instead of sterile.

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal This print is by my dear friend, Arielle Vey. She has the most beautiful prints that add a bit of color to a space.

I am really surprised by how obsessed I am with this black bench. It’s something that I normally wouldn’t call “my style,” but I just LOVE. The combination of the two really speaks to me!

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal In this home, I have been choosing black hardware, faucets and finishes. I am really loving the high impact look.

Source list: Faucet/Delta, Tub Filler/Delta, Toilet handle/Delta, Toilet paper holder/Delta, Towel bar/Delta, Black Bench/Wayfair (similar), Orange Car Print/Arielle Vey, Towels/Target, Shelves/Target, White Mirror/Wayfair, Side Table/Wayfair, Seagrass Basket/Wayfair, Pillows/Target, Rug/Target, Black Cabinet Pull and Knobs/The Home Depot, Jute rug/Amazon, Fiddle Leaf/Target.

Let me know if I missed any sources in the comments!

#ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal #ElsiesNashvilleBNB Master Bathroom Reveal Thank you so much for following along. This project has inspired me so much! I am so happy I decided to branch out of my typical color palette and finishes because it’s been a huge learning experience for me so far!

And just a quick update on my bnb project. Since we recently found out we’ll be adopting Nova SOON we decided to wait to rent out the bnb until after we’re home with her. We’re planning to use it as a place for our family to stay because we’re expecting a LOT of visitors and it’s not advised to have a bunch of house guests with a newly adopted child (too confusing for her). So the timing worked out perfectly for us! In the meantime, we’ll be finishing up projects and sharing them with you here all throughout autumn!

xx. Elsie

Credits/Author and Design: Elsie Larson, Project Assistant: Collin DuPree. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story presets for Lightroom.


48 Comments | leave a comment

Hologram Dot Manicure 

I love pretty nails in general, but what I love the most are manicures that are easy to execute too! I found some small circular hologram confetti and I realized it would be so pretty attached to the base of a nail for a simple DIY manicure. I’m obsessed with all things holographic, so why not add some to my nails as well, right?
nail glue
small and medium hologram dots
-base color (I used this color)
top coat
wax pencil
-toothpickStart off your manicure with a base coat. This hologram glitter mostly has pastel tones in it, so I chose a complimentary light mauve color. Spread out some of your dots onto a piece of paper and add a little bit of nail glue to the paper as well. Take your toothpick, lightly dip it into the glue and dab a bit just above the base of your nail and then again about 1/4″ above that. Use your wax pencil to pick up and place a medium size dot on the bottom glue spot and a small dot on the top glue spot. Repeat for each nail. Try and find a balance of using as much glue as you can for stability, but not so much that it all spills out the sides of the dot.Once your glue is dry, add two layers of a top coat (with dry time in between each coat) and your new mani is ready to go!See? Simple but pretty. You could just do one of the medium size dots on each nail or do a row of three small ones as well—it’s up to you! I definitely suggest rocking this with another holographic accessory (like this fun bag) to really make a statement. It’s kind of addicting to look at your nails and watch the dots change colors with the light, so I would make sure to get outside at some point with this manicure and watch it shine! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop. If you’re interested in checking out the ACS actions / presets you can get 20% off with the code abeautifulmess20 
9 Comments | leave a comment