Change-Your-Life Vegan Brownies and Tattoos

>> Friday, October 29, 2010

Before I begin, I want to thank the 850+ people (WOAH!) who have filled out our 1-year Blogiversary survey. We are completely overwhelmed in an AWESOME way with the response. We thought maybe a couple people would chime in with some suggestions and criticisms. But we've had friends, online friends, family, a few foes, and lots of self-titled "lurkers" fill it out. We can't wait to read through all the comments in full this weekend.

And what we like best is that a load of the feedback is positive (leaving up grinning from ear-to-ear), but we've also received a TON of great suggestions and constructive advice. (Lots of funny cat stories, too!) So, if you're interested and haven't had a chance to fill it out yet, check out the survey. There's no deadline. And we really appreciate the info.


This vegan brownie recipe must certainly have been brought to Earth somehow by the gods. I've made countless attempts to perfect a brownie without real butter, eggs, etc., and I've never completely been satisfied. I've come close -- and my Tangerine Brownies are definitely a crowd-pleaser.

But I set out the other day to find the best vegan brownie recipe I could find. So, when I saw the photo of Mattie's "ultimate" creation, I just about passed out.
  • It looked SO good.
  • The texture looked SO authentic.
  • The chocolate-chewy-gooey-ness looked . . . PERFECT.

As with many baking pursuits, the trick is all in the method. I learned all about carefully attention to process when I made the Pecan Chocolate Chippers several months ago. So, if you're ready to have your world turned upside-down, follow his instructions EXACTLY.

A couple modifications I made to the ingredients:
  1. I used 2 ounces of chocolate chips instead of 1. (I used Sunspire semi-sweet chips.)
  2. I omitted the instant espresso powder.
  3. I used regular flax meal instead of the golden variety.
  4. I did indeed use tub margarine despite its instructions to use stick. (I used Earth Balance.)
  5. I added 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in at the end, pre-baking, for extra chocolate-y goodness.
For full ingredient list and instructions, visit Mattie's recipe on


We've received a number of questions about our tattoos. We weren't ignoring requests to explain what they are. What they mean. Why we have them. Etc. It's just tricky. Those of you out there with tattoos inevitably get the question: "Ohhh, cool -- tattoo, but what does that MEAN?" And no doubt, the tattoo SHOULD mean SOMETHING if you have it permanently inked onto your skin.


However, I find whenever I tell people about my tattoos (when they ask, of course -- I don't just go around obnoxiously wearing long-sleeve shirts with cut-outs on the arms so people bring them up or anything), there's this disappointment. A let-down that the meaning isn't so essential to the core of my very being. Part of why I have my tattoos is because I love art. I like how they look. They meant something to me at the time I decided to get them. And that meaning sticks with me, but may sound plain silly to others.

Since we've received so many requests, we decided to tell y'all about 'em. There's nothing earth-shattering here. :)

My infinity symbol. This was my very first tattoo. I got it during college. I was going through a rough time I felt I'd never get out of. But I knew in my head that life goes on. Situations come and go. So, to me, the infinity symbol means the continuity of things. The artist who did it thought I was a joke because I wanted it so small. Oh, well.

Stephen's tattoo is his first and only. It says "Burst and Bloom" -- a song lyric by a band called Cursive. I may not be explaining it the best, but to him it means growth. That you need to go through tough stuff to grow, come into your own. He got it done like days before we started dating, just as a fun tidbit.

My left wrist says "Aria" and people often ask if that's someone's name. No. It isn't. It's the Italian word for lyric melody. I was so involved with music -- singing, particularly (go altos!) -- in high school, I thought forever that I'd devote my life to music. But competition is stressful and took the fun out of it for me. Though I did well at festivals and other events, I decided to give up my music-major dream in college. But this tattoo always reminds me of my passion for music.

My right forearm has an "&" ampersand symbol. In French Script. This is about Stephen. I designed all the wedding stuff for us (save-the-dates, invites, programs, etc.), and EVERYTHING had a "Ashley & Stephen" on it. I liked the symbol so much . . . and it made me think of our wedding, basically just US, so I got it done the week after we were married. Sappy, I know.

Do you have tattoos? Or do you want a tattoo? What do you have . . . or what would you get? I thought this would be a fun Friday question! Let us know! Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

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