My Wellness Rituals for Morning and Night

Over the past few years, I have fallen HARD for a wellness lifestyle. It started small, but over time I’ve worked on so many of my “bad” habits that my daily life and routines are almost unrecognizable compared to just a few years back. It’s so inspiring to me how much these small changes really add up over time. In this post, I want to share some of my favorite morning and night rituals.

A.M. Rituals:
Waking up early. To be fair, this was not by choice—at first. After we became parents, we pretty much never slept in again, but I love being a morning person now! We wake up at 6:15 every morning and are typically out the door to take the kids to school between 7 and 7:30. I love that I am able to have breakfast with my family every morning and still be working by 8 a.m. I think waking up later SOUNDS nice, but in practice it never made me happy. Waking up to lots of texts or feeling rushed was never good for me. Now I always feel like I am ahead of the day!

Morning coffee. I typically have one or two cups of coffee each morning, and I no longer keep drinking it throughout the day. This has been a good change for me so I can really enjoy and savor it every morning, but not overdo it to the point that I feel dehydrated.

Drink lots of water. After my coffee, I switch to herbal tea, water and sparkling essence waters for the rest of the day. I try to drink a LOT of liquids earlier in the day. It’s made such a big difference in my overall health and mood!

Morning skincare. Each morning, I rinse my face with water, use toner and moisturize with SPF. I don’t wear makeup every day, so those steps keep my skin feeling fresh even when I’m not.

Reading blogs. People are always telling me they don’t “have time” to read blogs anymore, which I think is such a shame. In my opinion, blogs are so much better than social media because they go so much more in depth. Every morning, the first thing I do in my office is open all my favorite blogs (I use Bloglovin as my reader, so I just see the new posts each morning) and read all the posts I am interested in. It takes 10-15 minutes and puts me in a great mood! This is one of the only “me time” activities that I can rely on doing every single day.

P.M. Rituals:
-Early to bed. I am in bed by 10 almost every night lately and it makes me SO happy. I go even earlier if I am tired. When I was younger, I would have laughed at this, but I’ve learned to truly value a good night of sleep—parenting will teach you that! I LOVE SLEEP.

Night skincare routine. I remove all my makeup every night and I swap between different favorite products. You can see the full list of what I’ve been using here. I love going to bed with my shiny “glazed donut” face … that’s my good life!

Essential oils. I like to sleep with essential oils diffusing beside my bed. My favorites are Lavender, Frankincense and Fir Needle.

Drinking less. I used to drink alcohol quite a bit. Now I save it only for special occasions. This was a difficult transition for me at first because wine was the main thing I looked forward to after a long day. I did several 100-day challenges to help get me where I am now, but I finally don’t miss it.

Reading actual books. I mean, duh. This took me long enough. I listened only to audiobooks for a long time, but recently I started reading physical books before bed (and also on airplanes … I still prefer audiobooks the rest of the time). There is something powerful about reading a chapter before bed and getting away from screens. I try to put my phone on airplane mode as soon as I walk into the bedroom.

Thinking a happy thought. This sounds cheesy, I know, but hear me out. I used to have a super bad habit of going to bed spiraling while thinking about all the things I didn’t get done or need to do the next day. I went to bed overwhelmed OFTEN. To change this habit I now have a rule that morning is the time I’m “allowed” to stress—not night. So I delay worrying about the next day until I’m in a position to do something and it has helped immensely. Before bed, I spend my last few waking minutes thinking about something happy like designing my daughter’s bedroom, what kind of vacation we should plan next year … anything that’s just a “fun” happy thought.

I’d love to hear your wellness routines if you’ve implemented anything that has helped you! I definitely think my 30s are my self-care decade because I’m always feeling motivated to make some sort of change or improvement. Especially small things that are simple to try! xx- Elsie

P.S. Here’s a link to my pajama top and bottoms (and they’re on sale!).

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Episode #19: Elsie’s Forever-ish Home Update

Happy Monday! This week, we’re sharing updates from Elsie’s phase one home renovation, which includes all the renovations happening before they move in.

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

This episode is sponsored by our friends at The Home Depot! We’ve worked with them on several projects and love that they have so many options and resources for home DIY and decor. Some of our favorite posts have been this kitchen remodel, Elsie’s storage room, and Emma’s accent wall update. Their app has all kinds of features to help you get more done with your projects, so make sure to check it out!

Show notes:
First things first … our kitchen before/after. In this photo, the kitchen is not complete (AKA—please do not point out the ceiling gap … I KNOW lol … we are fixing that next), this is just showing what a big difference that JUST painting the cabinets can make.

I also wanted to give a shoutout to our painter, Davis Custom Finishes. If you are in the Nashville area, I highly recommend Asa and his team. They were so quick and the work is 10/10 professional! We will have a post up soon with DIY details if you are looking to do this at home!

Can you even believe the before/after in this photo is just paint? I love how it makes the counters blend in a bit more!

Here is the new hardware we chose from Etsy!

-Here is Kelly’s pink kitchen that we mentioned.

-We talk about Nova’s bedroom makeover quite a bit and these are the ADORABLE sconces from Etsy!

-Here is the removable wallpaper we are considering for behind Nova’s bed. What do you think? Floral wallpaper or a simple mustard yellow painted wall?

-We chat about both terrazzo and Joy Cho’s home build. If you aren’t familiar, here’s an example of terrazzo as well as a link to Joy’s home updates.

-We’re very excited about our exterior paint job coming up, especially since we are using natural mineral paint that is good for the environment. We decided to work with a painter who is an expert in this area and we found Classic Finishes via Young House Love (Lance also painted their home)!

-We mention a couple past episodes! Episode 12, where we first shared details for new our home and upcoming move. We also mentioned Episode 18, where we share a four-step program for creating a mood board for the new home!

Thank you SO MUCH for listening! It means so much to us when you share our podcast! So whether you have shared it online or shared it with a friend, thank you! We have truly felt the love and positive energy! xx- Elsie + Emma

Elsie’s Holy Grail Skincare Routine

Hi! It’s been a while since I shared my skincare faves and a few things have changed. This past year, I’ve been more religious about my skincare but I’ve also become more consistent with the products I use. You’ve probably heard people say it’s not good constantly be bringing new products an ingredients in. So even though I LOVE to try out new products, I’ve been sticking closer to my favorites and it’s been really good for my skin.

Here are some of my tried and true favorites. These are items I’ve purchased over and over and/or have used for years. My skin type is combination, but I would say leans toward dry— especially in the winter. I’m 37 and am trying to embrace the natural aging process. For me, staying super hydrated (with products, extra water and less coffee/alcohol) are making a positive difference.

One more note— while I do use a few conventional makeup products, I stick more closely to only clean products for skincare. For me, I’ve noticed far better results using clean products and it gives me peace of mind to know I’m cleaning all the questionable ingredients off every night and sleeping in ingredients that will nurture my skin. So, if I had to choose between swapping to natural skincare OR makeup, I would swap the skincare first.

Masks: I do a face mask at least one time per week, but up to three times. I focus mainly on moisturizing masks with a bit of exfoliating, but I am careful not to over-do it. I stay away from anything that dries my skin, so clay masks are not for me.

Leahlani Mermaid Mask I have used this for years and re-purchased it over and over. With a base of honey it is ultra moisturizing and filled with superfood ingredients. I typically put this on 30 minutes before I take a shower or bath and it’s my go-to when I am feeling dry. For sure my most used mask.

Boscia Cactus Water Peel Off Mask I LOVE these peel off masks. I tend to stick with this one, the pink mask and the sake bright white mask. The peel off is super fun and they are hydrating.

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask This is my go-to mask to sleep in. It’s also good for flights (or anywhere you might wear it in public) because it looks like lotion—not a “scary” mask. haha

Biossance Squalane + Glycolic Renewal Facial I love this mask because it’s not harsh at all, but good for a light exfoliation during these winter months.

Bite Beauty Agave+ Nighttime Lip Therapy This is the most glorious super-thick lip mask. I sleep with it every night because I struggle with chapped lips pretty often. I got some for my sister and she didn’t like it because it’s so thick, so make sure you want something super thick. For something lighter I recommend Weleda Skin Food Lip Butter.

Cleanser + Toner: 

Honest Beauty Gentle Gel Cleanser When removing makeup. I often do a double cleanse by first rubbing oil all over my face (any carrier oil (jojoba, coconut, argan etc) works for this step— it doesn’t have to be labeled as a “cleansing oil,” Next, I rinse the oil off with a warm washcloth. After that I cleanse with this water-based cleanser. On days I don’t wear makeup, I skip the oil step and go straight for the water based gel cleanser.

Thayers Facial Toner I use this after I cleanse, before oils and serums everyday.

Acid + Oils: 

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 I use a couple drops of this every night before oils or serums.

Herbivore Prism Exfoliating Glow Serum Like I said above, I try to be very gentle with what exfoliators I use. This is perfect for my skin! I use it before bed either with an oil or by itself. This is one of my top must-haves for glowly skin.
*I love the gel mask version or Prism as well! These are definitely my favorite Herbivore products.

Herbivore Emerald This is a hemp-based oil. It’s super moisturizing and one of my favorite oils currently, but I will say— you have to be OK with a cannabis scent. If you’re not OK with that scent I’d recommend one of their other oils.

Serum: 

Skin Pharm Youth Serum This is incredible for helping my skin feel plump. I use it anytime I am feeling a bit dehydrated (in addition to chugging water and herbal tea).

Backuchiol Retinol Alternative Serum I’m avoiding retinols (or keep them super minimal) because they can be harsh. That said, I still want a potent serum. This serum has a thin gel-like texture so I use it anytime if I don’t want to go to bed slathered in oils. It is super moisturizing and gentle.

100% Pure Multi-Vitamin PM Facial Oil This is my oil-based serum. I love to go to bed with a super shiny face (aka a glazed donut face— lol) but since I wear eyelash extensions (oil causes them to fall out) I stay away from my eye area and don’t use this when my extensions are first filled each month. Swapping back and forth on my night serum has worked out pretty well for me!

Mist: 

Youth To The People Adaptogen Mist I am obsessed with this mist. I use it when I wake up, before and after makeup, before bed, and all over my body after a shower. If my skin is every looking dry I mist this on. I’ve used three bottles in the past six months— that’s how crazy I am about this mist.. Haha.

Other items I missed in the photo, but use ALL the time;

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen We go through a ton of this in our home— it’s a little pricey so I stock up every time I see a sale. I also use their makeup primer and finishing powder.

Weleda Skin Food Lotion I love that that carry this at Target. I use it as my hand lotion and body lotion. It’s perfect if you have dry skin— it’s VERY thick. I sent my grandma some (she wanted to try clean beauty!!!) and she hates it. So I guess it’s a matter of taste, but I love it.

Boscia Collagen Eye Mask I got these in a PR mailer recently (they’re brand new so I haven’t used them for long, just tried them out twice) and WOW. These are by far the most effective eye masks I’ve ever tried. They are crazy. My eyes looked so refreshed— I will definitely be repurchasing, but they’re pricey so I’ll be using them only for special occasions.

Other skincare tips This biggest change I’ve seen in my skin came a few years back when I drastically cut my alcohol, sugar and coffee consumption. I know that is no fun to hear, but it’s amazing what a difference it made for me. I had been using clean products for a few years, but when I made those diet changes I suddenly started to get a lot of compliments and questions about my skin.

There are two skincare treatments I got regularly last year that made a huge difference. They are both non-toxic. I got a lot of microneedling and a couple BBLs at SkinPharm in Nashville (they’re opening in Atlanta soon, too).

Microneedling is a collagen producing treatment. It can be pretty minimal (your face is a bit red) to pretty bloody (I started small and worked up to more intense treatments). I got prp injections with it a few times too, which is a natural treatment made from your own blood also known as “liquid gold.” I know it sounds gross, but it’s pretty much the best thing you can do if you want to work on skin texture issues the natural way.

BBL (or photofacial) is a light therapy that can help reduce sun damage. It was pretty dramatic on me and I definitely recommend it if you have an age spot you’d like to zap away. I’ve done my face, chest and arms and will definitely keep doing it over time. I have quite a bit of sun damage because I went to tanning beds when I was younger— the worst!

Anyway! If you have any questions I am happy to try and answer them! If you’re curious to learn more about clean beauty, see my article Why Clean Beauty Matters. And remember, I am absolutely NOT trying to shame anyone who uses and loves conventional skincare products. Even just swapping out a few clean items is a great step! Nobody is perfect and no one has perfect skin. xx- Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson, Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Episode #18: Making A Mood Board For Your Entire Home

Hi everyone! This week, we’re diving into how to make a mood board for your entire home in four steps. Defining the look and feel I am going for has been incredibly helpful as I decorate my spaces over time, so today we’re sharing tips for this process!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

This week’s episode is sponsored by Grove Collaborative. If you follow the blog, you know we’re big fans of their products— and we share more around why we love what they offer in the podcast. They have an offer for first time customers with our link, too.  You can get a 5-piece set to help you swap out plastics in your home! Visit this link to learn more.

Show Notes:
Here’s a link to a few older posts…
How to choose a color story for your home.
Tips for choosing decor with your partner.

-Once again, we mention The Curated Closet Workbook.

-If you look at my Pinterest you can see the DEEP dives I have taken to collect inspiration.
-Here’s a peek at Emma’s new podcast/music space!
-Here’s the episode of YHL podcast where we chat about white paint. I actually did NOT know white walls were controversial until I listened to this episode— haha.
We’d love to hear your questions at podcast AT abeautifulmess DOT com. Also we would love to hear what your favorite episode is so far!
xoxo- Elsie + Emma

Elsie’s Favorite Removable Wallpaper on Etsy

I have been spending a lot of extra time on Etsy recently since we are moving soon. I’ve been saving lots of pretty things in hopes of including them in future room projects, and I have been pretty blown away by the selection of removable wallpaper! I love using peel and stick because it saves on the expense of installation when you DIY, and it’s easy to swap out when the time comes to redecorate or move.

Here are a few of my favorite patterns I’ve saved on Etsy recently! Oh, and I am considering using peel and stick in our dining room and laundry, so I’d love to hear which patterns you love the most!

(By the way, the paper pictured above is from Chasing Paper and it’s what I used in Marigold’s nursery.)

1. Pink Mudcloth 
This is so pretty and cool. I can see it being used in all kinds of rooms!

2. Pink Cream Terrazzo
I have suddenly developed quite a big terrazzo crush and I’m really liking this pattern.

3. Hand-Painted Watercolor
This is so classic and very appealing to me! My favorite wallpaper patterns are typically soft and neutral.

4. Clementine
This makes me so happy because I had a DIY version of this wall in our first kitchen and I loved it SO much. I will always have a soft spot for a clementine wall.

5. Flamingo Flock
Obviously love this!

6. City Plan

This is FUN.

7. Muse Mustard
This is cute. It’s funky, but the color scheme keeps it a little more neutral. I love mustard.

8. Skylight
This is so gorgeous—maybe for a nursery.

9. Stone Lastriko
Pretty!

10. Vintage Peony
This is right up my alley. Love a large, neutral floral.

11. Pink Brush
What do you think of this? I’m into it!

12. Pink Terrazzo 
These colors are so nice!! I really love this one!

13. Chinese Cranes
Adorable, and of course you know anything Chinese earns bonus points in our home! 🙂

Have a great day! xx- Elsie