Before these, the only brownies I ever made came from a box.  I really thought that brownies would be  too difficult and that only grandmas baked "real" brownies.  Well, they are super easy and SO GOOD!!!  Here are the ingredients that I use:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the coconut oil on low heat.  Mix together the maple syrup, cocoa powder and vanilla, then add them to the melted coconut oil.  I didn't have enough maple syrup this time, so I made up for it with honey...it came out pretty much the same.  Add the coconut flour and baking soda.  Lastly, add the bittersweet chocolate chunks.  I used a semi-sweet chocolate bar (from Bolivia) and grated it.  You can also cut it so that you can control the "chunk" size.

Mix it all together and pour it into a greased dish.  Bake it for 25-30 minutes.

You can top it with chocolate moose or strawberries or anything!

Gluten Free Brownies:
3 tablespoons coconut flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Melt coconut oil on low heat
Add cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla to melted coconut oil
Mix together
Add all other ingredients and mix together
Bake for 25-30 minutes in greased dish

Chocolate Moose (topping):
1 avocado
1 tablespoon cacao powder
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Blend all ingredients VERY well (otherwise you get nasty avocado chunks)
Place in frige for about 30 minutes
Add a dollop on top of your brownie!


Now that I just posted about how much I love coconut oil, I want to share one of my favorite recipes (which of course contains coconut oil)!!!  One of my good friends, Minnemie, taught me this recipe while sitting around the table in her cozy little kitchen.  I have changed it a little bit, but it is mostly the same recipe that she gave me.  If any of you know Ironman, you know that he eats A TON of food.  So, the only thing that keeps him full from breakfast until lunch is a huge bowl of homemade granola with rice milk and a banana...and coffee...don't forget the coffee!  I make this recipe just about every two weeks to keep his supply stocked.  

I had always thought that homemade granola would be the hardest thing to ever make, but it is actually very easy!  These are the only ingredients that I use, but you can change them to make the recipe into what your taste buds prefer.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

First, I pour the entire canister of oats into a big container.  I add a cup of whole wheat flour, a bag of sliced almonds, a bag of chopped walnuts and a lot of cinnamon.  You can use a different flour or different nuts and you don't have to add cinnamon...it's your granola!  I mix all of the dry ingredients.  Then, I pour one cup of melted coconut oil (you can also use canola oil) over the dry ingredients.  And then one cup of honey over that.  

When all of the honey and coconut oil have been mixed in, the granola should look something like this.    It actually can wear your arms out mixing this well, so it is a good time to ask a man (aka Ironman) to do the hard work.  

Now it's time to cook your granola.  I put mine on two large cookie sheets and cook it for 30 minutes, stirring it every 10 minutes.  Try to keep the granola away from the edges because it tends to burn it.  If you want to add raisins, craisins, or something like it, pour them on top of the granola for the last 10 minutes.  If they sit on the granola the full 30 minutes, they end up bursting open and burning.

Once the granola is done cooking and cooling, you should store it in a large container in the freezer.  Then, if you have a husband that eats as much as mine, you will do this all over again in two weeks!!!

Homemade Granola:
1 canister oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 bag sliced almonds
1 bag chopped walnuts
cinnamon (I don't measure...)
1 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix all dry ingredients
Pour in melted coconut oil and honey and mix with dry ingredients
Cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes
Cool and store in freezer


The Coconut Oil CrAzE

     So a few years ago, my friend Jennifer stopped buying CANOLA OIL and replaced it with Coconut Oil.  She only used the coconut oil for cooking, but even then, I sort of thought that she was going too eXtReMe.  I love going chemical free and all natural, but I didn't even understand how to really use this new product.  Jennifer would spoon it out to use in cooking and I thought that was the strangest thing I had ever seen.  Now, years later, coconut oil is the new biggest and best thing!
     Nick and I have followed the trend and slowly done away with canola oil and replaced it with coconut oil.  We now use it for ALL of our cooking and baking and we LOVE it!  I keep sharing my favorite recipes with friends, so I thought that I would include them on my blog.  Nick and I are crazy for chocolate.  Click here if you love plain chocolate, here if you love peanut butter and chocolate, and here if you love dark chocolate and peppermint.  Each of these recipes is made with coconut oil and is "healthy", so you can have even more helpings (at least, that's what we tell each other)!  We love this blog because it has great recipes for eating healthy and because we love the documentary Fat Sick and Nearly Dead.  We actually watched it Fall 2011 and have been juicing ever since.  Anyway...I'm getting off track here.  You can even eat a spoon of coconut oil every day or add a scoop to your smoothies.  I've read that some people even use it on their toast instead of butter, but I haven't tried that one yet.

     So, after switching to coconut oil for baking and cooking, I learned (through Pinterest of course) that you can also use coconut oil for many toiletry replacements!  So, last fall I began using coconut oil for face wash/scrub, eye cream, body cream, hair moisture treatments and anything that I thought I could add to my growing obsession.  My sister Mary Ashley is super artsy and cRaFtY and for mine and Nick's Christmas gifts, she made us a years supply of coconut oil toiletries!  We received little jars (in the photo) of face scrub, body cream, shaving cream and hair treatment cream.  My sister made these special gifts not only using Coconut Oil, but added shea butter and essential oils, like tangerine and patchouli.  But, you can keep it simple and just use coconut oil (without anything added) for body and hair.  You can use it as an eye cream, but I wouldn't use it as a face cream...I read and heard about people who clogged their pores up by using it as a facial moisturizer.  

Here's the recipe for Coconut Oil Face Scrub:
Whip coconut oil and baking soda together.  
Keep adding baking soda until it is "scrubby" enough for you.  
Scrub face in circular motions.
Steam face with washcloth and wipe face when washcloth has cooled.
Repeat this until coconut oil and baking soda has been cleaned completely off.
Let face air dry.  Skin may feel oily, but it will quickly seep into skin.  You won't need a moisturizer.


Where have I been...?!?!?!?!

     So...you all may be wondering what happened to me?  Did I drop off of the face of the earth?  Did I quit blogging?  No...no...nothing like that.  I have just been BUSY!!!  I know that is the typical excuse, but it's true!  Although I can't update you on every little thing I've done since last September, I've tried to give you the biggest highlights!

     Well, as you all know (as my dedicated blog followers), we spent the EnTiRe month of September on a USA Road Trip!  It has been on my Bucket List my whole life and then switched to mine and Nick's joint Bucket List the day that we got married!  What a trip!  It was one of the best things that we ever did together and we suggest that every couple do it before they have kids!!!

     Then, once we got back home to South Carolina, I got heavily into my homemaker mode.  I cleaned and cleaned-out like crazy.  I cooked and tried lots of new recipes.  I was so happy to have switched from working full-time to working part-time...I feel like I have more time to be the kind of wife I want to be for Nick.  It's the best treat ever to have Nick get home from work and all of the cleaning, laundry, cooking and errands have already been taken care of by me!  After a hard day of work, I just feed Nick with yummy food, let him sit back and relax and it keeps us both happy!

     For the month of November, I had my friend Michaela visiting me from Northern Ireland!  That's the "curse" of traveling and living overseas...all of your friends end up in foreign countries.  But, the major blessing is that you get to travel to visit them too!  Nick and I are currently saving up money so that we can return the favor and visit her in Northern Ireland...:)

     During December, Nick and I took a trip down memory lane.  When we were dating, we drove to Asheville for the day and had lunch in this huge artsy booth place with a cute little soda shop.  We went back to Asheville for our five year wedding anniversary and walked around downtown until we found that same soda shop!  We enjoyed another great lunch, just like the one we enjoyed over six years earlier.

     Talking about wedding anniversaries, my sister Mary Ashley got engaged in August and then married in April!  We spent months talking about ideas, dreaming (mostly while browsing Pinterest) and planning.  We had lots of girl time with several special Bridal Showers, a Sisters-Only Bachelorette Weekend and, of course, the actual Wedding!
Bridal Shower

Bachelorette Weekend (YES, we made her wear that sash and veil the entire three days, everywhere we went, except while we slept)

Family Wedding Photo

While all of this was going on, we have also been in the process of getting our own little first home!!!  Last June, one of my dad's friends was planning on tearing down this cute little place in order to build something bigger and better in it's place.  Turns out, tearing down a house isn't cheap!  So, he told my dad that if we could figure out how to get it off of the property, we could take it!  My dad is a genius and came up with a great plan...

We stripped the house of all of the materials on the outside, inside, underneath and everywhere.  Everything was removed as carefully as possible so that we can REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE!!!

After removing all of the materials that we could, we cut the house in half to get it ready to be moved to its new home!!!

In took two days to move the two pieces of the house.  It only had to go 1/4, but the process was slow because of all of the tree limbs, power lines and one main street that we had to cross.  Many people stopped to watch all of the excitement and even followed the house to see where it was going...it's not every day you see a house rolling down the street!

Once the two pieces made it to our property, they were put side by side and the steel rods were removed once the foundation was built up under the house.

Here is the latest photo.  You can see the foundation, the new porch and on the right, we now have a third window!

It's such an amazing thing because of how Nick always said that he wanted to build us a house.  Although he didn't build this one totally from scratch, he (along with other guys, including my dad) has done months and months of work to remodel and fix it back up.  It will be so special when we finally move in and get to enjoy all of the hard work!

So...WOW...this was a very long post!  Now that the wedding is over and things seem to have calmed down, I am going to try to get back to blogging...I miss it!