Healthy Chocolate Bars 3 Ways!  (click through for recipe!)       I am totally one of those people that absolutely has to have some sort of chocolate after dinner. Or after lunch. Or just randomly when the feeling hits me. Since I do a pretty low sugar diet, I've developed a few sweet treats over the years to satisfy that chocolate craving without having to dump a dose of refined sugar into my body as well. The base of cocoa powder and virgin coconut oil is great because the cocoa has the benefits of iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc, and the oil is an antioxidant that contains lots of benefits for your skin and hair. It's actually way easier to make a coconut oil chocolate bar than you would think, and you can customize it a million ways too! Here are three of my favorites right now...

Healthy Chocolate Bars 3 Ways!  (click through for recipe!)Lately I like to use Xylitol as the sweetener in my bars, but you can use whatever you like! Sometimes I will sprinkle it into the mold before I pour in the chocolate to add a little crunch to the bar, and other times I make a Xylitol simple syrup and pour that in to taste to keep the bar smoother (just warm equal parts water and Xylitol over medium heat until it dissolves to create the syrup). You can use refined or unrefined coconut oil for this recipe, but the unrefined has a bit more of the coconut taste, which you may or may not want depending on your flavor combo. I like to use this chocolate bar mold since it creates dividing lines. That way I can snap off a square at a time, but you can also line the bottom of a loaf pan with wax paper and pour it into that.

Healthy Chocolate Bars 3 Ways!  (click through for recipe!) Tropical Coconut Bar
4 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
dash of salt
2 tablespoons of dried bananas, chopped
2 tablespoons of coconut flakes, chopped
2 tablespoons of dried mango, chopped
sweetener of choice to taste
chocolate bar mold (or you can use a baking pan lined with wax paper)

Mix together the coconut oil, cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl. Add your sweetener of choice to taste. Pour the chocolate mixture into your mold, and then sprinkle the banana, coconut, and mango on top. Place in the refrigerator until set, and store set bars in the fridge as well.

Healthy Chocolate Bars 3 Ways!  (click through for recipe!)   Cherry Crunch Bar
4 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
dash of salt
2-3 tablespoons dried cherries, chopped
1-2 tablespoons of raw cacao nibs
sweetener of choice to taste

Mix together the coconut oil, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt in a bowl. Add your sweetener of choice to taste. Pour the chocolate mixture into your mold and then sprinkle the cherries and cacao nibs on top. Place in the refrigerator until set, and store in the fridge as well.

Healthy Chocolate Bars 3 Ways!  (click through for recipe!)    Almond Swirl Bar
4 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
dash of salt
2 tablespoons of smooth almond butter mixed with coconut oil until smooth
2 tablespoons of chopped almonds
sweetener of choice to taste

Mix together the coconut oil, cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl. Add your sweetener of choice to taste. Mix your almond butter in a cup with a bit of coconut oil until it's a consistency that you can drizzle. Drizzle the almond butter into the bottom of your mold and put in the refrigerator until partially set. Pour the chocolate mixture into your mold, and then sprinkle the chopped almonds on top. Place in the refrigerator until set, and store in the fridge as well.

Healthy Chocolate Bars 3 Ways!  (click through for recipe!)      Healthy Chocolate Bars 3 Ways!  (click through for recipe!)     The only downside to this type of bar is that since coconut oil has a low melting point, you have to keep it in the fridge or it will start to melt pretty quickly (even as it warms up in your fingers!). I usually just break off a few squares at a time and pop them in my mouth as I walk away from the fridge. So good!! I love things that I can customize based on what I have on hand, and since I always have coconut oil and cocoa powder around the house, I know I'll never be more than a few minutes away from a square of chocolate ever again! Isn't that a great feeling? What flavor combos would you be excited to try? xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman

How I recolored my appliances with vinyl ©AlyssaRosenheckWhen we moved away from our previous home, we chose to sell our Big Chill fridge with the house, even though it was one of my favorite things we owned. The reason we chose to sell it was because the dimensions and the handle side didn't fit the layout of our new kitchen. So we said a sad goodbye. 

But my heart wasn't ready to move on from colored kitchen appliances! No way José. And when I saw the Big Chill Pro line, I fell in love all over again. They're clean, modern and you can choose almost any color. 

But as we got deeper into our renovation, other things started going over budget, and I had to start getting creative with what things I could cut from the budget, save for later or replace. I decided to replace the fridge and stove with a DIY option. 

I've been promising for months I'd explain how we got this fun mint color, and so here it goes!!! 

But first, the before pics... 

Fridge beforeThe fridge we bought was this one. Since I knew I was recoloring, I tried to order a simple white fridge, but in the end, for what we wanted (clean lines and no ice maker on the front) and what we needed (counter depth) to fit the space, we had to go with a stainless steel fridge. 

Stove beforeThe stove is from a random small company I found online. I actually think it is out of stock now. It was a good deal, and I love the shape of it, but functionally it hasn't been our favorite stove, and I wouldn't recommend it (so I am not linking to it, sorry!). If I could go back, I would probably choose another stove, but during the past year, we've grown accustomed to its quirks (the stovetop is hotter than anything we've ever had and the inside is a little cooler than it's supposed to be, so we've learned to make adjustments on our end for accuracy). Anyway! It's pretty to look at! 

At the phase that the kitchen was here, I could have stopped. I fully realize that probably 90% of people would rather have stainless steel than a colored stove. But I'm not 90% of people, so I kept going! 

How I recolored my appliances with vinyl ©AlyssaRosenheck So first we researched paint! 

My friend kept telling me not to paint, to use vinyl. But I was like, "EW NO!" because I am really stubborn, and I was concerned the vinyl wouldn't look as legit as paint. 

Well, fast forward a couple months, and after Laura had called every paint company we could find who made "high heat paint," nothing was really safe enough to use on the oven. And especially not the paints you could custom color. Since the oven heat is so high, especially when you open it up, we had to find something that could withstand heat. 

So I finally caved and revisited the vinyl idea. 

We called a local "custom vinyl" shop. This is basically a car shop that puts the big graphics on the sides of buses or puts flames on the side of a sports car. I was definitely out of my element, but they said their vinyl was safe up to 900 degrees (or maybe it was 1000, I can't remember). Either way—it was safe. 

So I went to the shop with my measurements and a paint color swatch I was hoping they could match. They said they could custom print any Pantone color. They could also do the matte finish that I wanted (and it was still supposed to be easy to clean). Awesome! 

It took a few rounds of sample prints to get the color just right. I also had a lot of canceled appointments because a girl wanting to get her fridge recolored is not QUITE as high a priority as a bus that needs a country music singer's face on the side of it. 

But after about a month of going back and forth, they came to my home and installed the vinyl for me. 

I opted to get it professionally installed because I've worked with big surfaces of vinyl before, and it's very tricky to avoid wrinkles completely. I valued the polished look more than saving a bit more $ in this instance. 

They had to remove the doors from the stove and fridge to install it, and then put them back on when the vinyl was on so that it was one big, seamless surface. 

All in all, I paid about $400 for the vinyl and install. I think it's more worth it than painting because, in addition to the safety issue, it's also fully removable if we ever want to go back to the stainless steel! I intend to keep it forever, but just in case we have to move or whatever, it's good to have options! 

I've had it on for about 3-4 months now, and it's still blowing my mind on a daily basis. I love the color. It adds so much personality to our simple kitchen. Before I was nervous that it looked like EVERY kitchen on Pinterest. Now it has its own custom detail. 

How I recolored my appliances with vinyl ©AlyssaRosenheck     These photos were taken during our domino shoot by Alyssa Rosenheck.  

How I recolored my appliances with vinyl ©AlyssaRosenheck     Here's a photo of our kitchen all zoomed out! I am thrilled beyond words with how it looks today. It's definitely my dream kitchen. I hope I explained all of that well for you. Please let me know if you have any questions at all! xx -Elsie 

Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Alyssa Rosenheck

Natural Deodorant DIY (click through for tutorial If you’ve ever gotten into making your own beauty products before, then you know how addicting it can be. One area that I hadn’t gotten to try yet (but was so curious to see if I liked), was making my own deodorant. If you’ve been trying to switch your body care products to more natural options, then you probably already know about some of the toxins that can be found in many of the antiperspirant and regular deodorants on the market (like aluminum, parabens (preservatives), and questionable chemicals labeled as “fragrance” to name a few). One thing that I like about the more natural DIY versions out there (as well as the one that I use), is that you probably already have most of the ingredients that you need to make your own version at home! And since you are making your deodorant from scratch, you can also customize the scent combination and strength as well.

Natural Deodorant DIY (click through for tutorial)   Natural Deodorant DIY
Recipe slightly adapted from Wellness Mama’s Natural Deodorant

3 tablespoons of coconut oil
3 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons Shea butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
6 drops of lavender essential oil*

2 drops of absolute vanilla oil*
container for deodorant (either a push-up stick or a jar)

*You can use whatever essential oil you like, but this is the combo I love.

Natural Deodorant DIY (click through for tutorial)      Measure out your ingredients into a glass mason jar and loosely place the lid on the top. Add 4-5” of water into a pot and bring the water to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and place your glass jar into the pot. Allow the warm water to melt the ingredients together (you can give the jar a swirl to mix every minute or two).

Natural Deodorant DIY (click through for tutorial)    Once your concoction is liquid, let it cool a little, and then pour it into either a jar or push-up deodorant stick for use. Since coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees, your deodorant will be more solid below that temperature and more of a lotion if it’s warmer. So, how cool you keep your house may determine if you want to use a jar or the stick for your container (you can use either your fingers to apply out of the jar or I’ve also seen people use little spreader sticks to apply).

Natural Deodorant DIY (click through for tutorial)  I was a little skeptical about making this category of product myself, but you know what? I really love it. The smell is great, and it works just as well as the other deodorants I’d been buying, but I can feel really good about what went into making it (my husband really likes it too!). Since it is an oil base, I usually apply it a few minutes before getting dressed so it has time to soak into my skin and I don’t get excess on clothes (kind of the same way you would if you use coconut oil as a lotion). As with all skin products, go easy on the amount you use until you know that it doesn’t react badly with your skin type. I love seeing all the homemade beauty products taking over my bathroom sink, and I can’t wait to find more options I love! xo. Laura

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

How to make a live-edge coffee tableI'm a little worried my coffee table is getting too big for its britches. Every time family or friends come over, they fawn over its beauty. I'm sure my loving gazes aren't helping matters. It's even become difficult for me to enjoy my favorite TV shows because I find myself just watching the table, as if it's about to do a new trick. Nah, it's just sitting there looking like my dreams come true!

Last Spring, Elsie and I were talking about styles of coffee tables that would look nice in her living room. We both loved the idea of a live edge table, but we quickly discovered nice looking ones were shockingly expensive. We're talking over $1K. Yikes! But the more I looked, the more I fell in love with the idea myself. Finally I decided I would DIY a live-edge coffee table if it was the last thing I did! Give me tree rounds or give me death!

This entire project cost me about $215, which shocks me now even as I type this. If you'd like to make your own, I have some tips for you! But you might want to start praying or crossing your fingers now for a little bit of extra luck.

How to make a live-edge coffee tablePlanning Your Coffee Table
The first thing to do when planning your live edge coffee table is to decide on what size and shape you'd like. I selected a relatively round shape because I had a large space to fill in the "L" of my sectional sofa. If I had a long, straight sofa, I may have chosen a longer, rectangular shaped piece of wood.

Be sure to carefully consider the size of your coffee table too! Live edge tables may appear heftier than you expect, dwarfing your sofa in comparison. So if you're uncertain about the size, I'd err on the smaller side. Also keep in mind the thickness of the lumber you'd like. I was sure I wanted a slab of lumber that was thicker than the 2-3" inches that is more commonly found from live-edge lumber dealers. Because of the thicker slab, I had to get shorter legs to keep my coffee table around the height of my sofa. (It's actually a couple of inches shorter than our sofa, which is ideal! We can still put our feet up.)

How to make a live-edge coffee tableLive-Edge Lumber Terminology
It's important to know what kind of lumber you want before you begin sourcing the lumber.

1. Burl Round—The rarest type of tree slice is burl, and it is difficult to get in large slices. Burl is cut from protrusions in the tree trunk—you know, the warty looking guys. These slices will have striking patterns through the grain rather than the even rings you see in tree rounds. Because they're anomalies and not a predictable part of the tree growth, burl is typically very expensive and used for veneer and fine woodworking. You may be able to work with a tree removal service to snatch up the burl from trees they've felled.

2. Tree Round—A tree round is just a horizontally sawn slice of wood which shows the rings of the tree and has a relatively round shape. The actual shape of a tree round will vary depending on the species as well as the individual tree. The base of a tree, near the trunk, will yield a more irregular shape of tree round. The higher up the tree is cut, however, the more uniform the border will be.

3. Tree Slab—A tree slab is a long slice of a log that includes the tree's raw edge. It is cut along the length of the tree rather than across its width. This is a good choice for a table you'd like to fill a longer space. The downside to long tree slabs is that the cut edges on either end of the lumber will not have a live edge. This may or may not be important to you.

Sourcing Live-Edge Tabletop Lumber
The most time consuming and frustrating part of this whole project is definitely sourcing the lumber for the tabletop. I spent many a late night searching local Craigslist ads as well as listings in nearby states. I scoured Etsy and eBay, and I considered how much money I was willing to spend to get the tabletop I wanted. For a while I was thinking that $300 would be the best price I could get on an oval slab about 16"x24" in size. The slab wasn't finished, and was only 2" thick. Not my ideal, and actually more than I was hoping to pay.

Then one night I found a local listing for this thick slab of curly ash, and my heart started pounding out of my chest. This was the one! It was already finished and only $175! And, it was 3'x3', which was an ideal size for the space I wanted to fill. I emailed the seller right then at three o'clock in the morning, and then every day until the poor guy finally responded! I drove out to pick it up within hours and couldn't believe my luck. It was beautiful, and just what I had been hoping for.

My best advice for sourcing lumber is to keep checking Craigslist for "live edge," "tree slice," "tree round," "natural table," and "tree removal service." If you don't have any luck finding ready-made slices, try calling tree removal services to see if you can either pick up lumber from one of their job sites, or maybe they can even work with you to cut a slice that suits your specifications. Make sure you have a vehicle big enough and someone strong enough to help. These big guys are no joke!

How to make a live-edge coffee tableFinishing the Tabletop Lumber
Curing the Lumber—If your lumber is freshly cut, you will need to have it kiln dried before sealing it. If you don't dry it, it will shrink over time and the finish will crack and chip. You can contact a lumber mill for kiln drying services. Kiln drying will cause the lumber to split open in one spot, as you can see in my coffee table. Some expert craftsmen will saw the round in half, and then join it again after drying to avoid this issue while others choose to let the wood dry naturally over years so no splitting will occur.

Filling Holes and Gaps—If there are large holes or gaps in the wood that you worry about (I'm thinking of food and stuff that little kiddos stuff into these things!), you may wish to fill them by pouring epoxy into the cavities. If the hole goes all the way through the wood, cover the bottom of the hole with duct tape before pouring the epoxy.

Smoothing the Edges—If you don't like the look of bark, use a wood chisel to remove it from the edges of your lumber. Then sand it down to smooth the surface. If the surface of your table is roughly sawn, you may wish to have a lumber mill sand it down with an industrial drum sander or you may wish for them to plane it for you. If it's not too rough, you can sand it yourself with a belt sander or rotary sander and lots of sandpaper.

Sealing the Wood—I purchased my lumber already sealed with a high gloss polyurethane, though I would have preferred a satin finish. From what I've read, brush-on polyurethane seems to be the finish of choice for these types of tables, though tung oil or wax would be alternative sealing methods that would require maintenance over time to keep up the waterproof seal. If you want a lighter finish on your table, keep in mind that sealing the raw lumber will generally darken it and bring out the grain, depending on your sealing method. Also, remember that wood naturally darkens over time. To lighten the table, consider pickling or white washing the lumber before sealing it.

DIY coffee table bases

Selecting a Table Base
There are a lot of options for pre-made and custom-made coffee table bases, which means your only limit is your budget. I chose hairpin legs for my table because I already had a set on hand. Who knows what I would've chosen otherwise. I do really like #5 above for a more oval or rectangular-shaped tabletop.

1. Hairpin Legs: These are very easily found online these days. Here is a set of four on Etsy that sells for less than $40.
2. Tulip Base: Finding these vintage bases is hit or miss but worth a shot! Here is one on Etsy currently for $129.
3. X-Frame: This is a great modern design that works with many styles. This one goes for around $100 on Etsy.
4. Cafe-Style Pedestal: These are easy to find and work well with smaller slabs, though short ones are tricky to find. Here is one for $35.
5. Industrial Metal Legs: I love this simple, industrial style of this pair of legs that I found for $68 on Etsy.
6. Steel Spider Base: This is a great masculine style for those who enjoy the industrial modern look. It sells for around $160 here on Etsy.

How to make a live-edge coffee tableBecause I had purchased my slab already finished, all I needed to do was attach the legs! I actually had two sets of hairpin table legs from an old coffee table (the top of which I sold recently to partially fund this project), so all I had to do was walk into the garage, dust off the legs, and grab some heavy-duty screws from my workbench.

How to make a live-edge coffee tableThe trickiest part was deciding on the placement of the legs. Should they form a rectangle? Should I just place them pointed outward at the widest parts of the table and not worry about symmetry or visual balance? I decided to place them in a rectangle and tried to situate the rectangle as centered as possible on the irregularly shaped table.

Hairpin Leg Tip: Use the longest screws that your tabletop thickness allows. Stainless steel screws are the best! If you don't use long, strong screws, the legs will begin to pull away if you drag the table. Use a long driver to reach the screw heads easily when driving them in.

How to make a live-edge coffee tableThis live-edge table is something I'm pretty proud of, even though the most work I did was scrolling through Craigslist ads on my phone. My poor thumbs! But I really love how well it compliments everything else in our living room, adding an organic shape and bohemian vibe to the other straight-laced furnishings around it. And any time I can make something for less than selling price, I think I've accomplished something to be proud of. Can I get a what what?! -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Sweet Potato and Kale Quesadillas (via   The movie Napoleon Dynamite has forever ruined me as I always see the word "quesadilla" and pronounce it in my mind like "armadillo". As if I didn't already mispronounce everything! It's an ongoing problem for me. 

But other than my pronunciation issues, I do love quesadillas! So easy to make, and you can pretty much just fill them with leftover bits of this and that if you are running low on grocery supplies for the week. These, however, are a bit more intentional. 

Sweet Potato and Kale Quesadillas (via I think the inspiration behind this meal, on some level, was me trying to still hold on to summer but add in some flavors that remind me of autumn. I went outside to walk my dogs the other day and it FELT like autumn. I can't totally explain it... the leaves haven't changed colors yet, but something in the air felt distinctively like fall to me. And I both celebrated and felt a little sad since I love both summer and fall – it's complicated. :) 

Anyway, if you like quick, easy, and delicious dinners, then you'll love these. I also have a fool-proof method for flipping quesadillas without all the filling flying out. 

Easy kale recipesSweet Potato and Kale Quesadillas, makes 2-3

1 medium to large sweet potato, approx. 9 oz.
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper
2 oz chopped kale
1 tablespoon oil (I used olive oil, but any cooking oil is fine.)
4-6 flour tortillas (4 if the larger "burrito" size, 6 if smaller. I used whole wheat flour tortillas. You could also choose something gluten free if you need.)
2-3 teaspoons mayo
5-6 oz shredded cheese (Colby or something mixed is great)
cilantro, lime, avocado, and/or sour cream to serve

Peel and rinse the potato and cut into small cubes. Chop the onion. Cook the potato and onion in a little oil over medium/high heat for about 8 minutes. Then add the minced garlic, cumin, chili powder, and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until you can easily mash one of the pieces of potato with the side of your spatula. Remove to a plate. 

Easy sweet potato recipesIn the same, still hot pan, add the chopped kale and cook just for 1-2 minutes until it turns a brighter green and begins to wilt. Remove to the same plate with the sweet potato. Turn the heat down to low.

Have two tortillas ready and sitting out on a cutting board or large plate. Spread a teaspoon or two of mayo over one side of each. Add one to the pan, mayo side facing up and top with 1/3 to 1/2 of the sweet potato and kale filling. Then sprinkle on 1/3 to 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Top with the remaining tortilla, mayo side down. Allow to cook for a couple minutes, then use your spatula to peek under the bottom tortilla to see if it's getting brown spots yet.

Once it looks crispy, but not burnt, slide it out of the pan and onto the cutting board or plate that previously held the tortillas. Top with another plate, so you've made a sandwich that is: cutting board or plate, quesadilla, another plate. Now flip this over so the uncooked tortilla is on bottom, and then slip this into the hot pan. If you need to add a bit more oil to the pan, do so before adding the quesadilla. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Repeat for each quesadilla. 

Sweet Potato and Kale Quesadillas (via with a bit of fresh cilantro and sliced avocado if you have it. I love to squeeze a little lime juice over everything just before eating. But that's it – easy as can be. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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


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