Hi Friends, 
I've been super busy getting my DIY Christmas gifts in order. I staid up all night and finished everything. Designing & Printing labels and decorating hundreds of gift was taxing but it was worth it, everything looks great. 

That's only half of the table!!! 

I have lots of pictures, crafts and recipes to share.

Time for bed!
Peace & Love,
Mary




Fitness Challenge
Standing Side Crunches

Challenge Synopsis
I challenge you to complete 4 sets, 12 reps of Standing Side Crunches, each side

Why Why Why
  • You can get a serious abdominal workout while standing, you don't always have to lay down while targeting your abdominals
  • Standing side crunches challenge cardio endurance why toning obliques, lower - middle - and upper abs
Materials
Just yourself

Directions
Standing Side Crunches
Complete 4 sets, 12 reps each side


Start with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent
Right hand on head, left hand on left hip
Placing all weight on right side of body
Simultaneously lower left hand while lifting left leg around hip height
Elbow and knees should connect 
*If they do not connect that's ok
*Make sure to use abdominal strength to lift left
That's one rep

My Take
Christmas is almost here and I want to look GOOD! These standing leg crunches raises your heart rate, challenges your endurance, while working your obliques, upper and lower abdominals. What more could you ask for in one exercise?

Nutrition Challenge

Challenge Synopsis
I challenge you to eat and drink something green everyday this week

Why Why Why
  • Green foods are packed with vitamins, nutrients and are an important past of your diet
  • Green foods are rich in phytonutrients and have healing powers
  • Green foods can revitalize your health, they are lower in sugar, and packed with water and fibers
  • Green foods can help regulate blood sugars throughout the day
  • Green foods also 
Materials
  • Lots of green food like 
    • green smoothies
    • green juices
    • green apples
    • kale
    • spinach
    • swiss chard
    • celery
    • broccoli
    • green beans
    • peas
    • artichoke 
    • bell pepper
    • cucumbers
    • mint
    • zucchini
    • fresh herbs
    • greens
    • kiwi
    • avocado
    • seaweed
    • grapes
    • okra
Directions
Incorporate green foods into your daily diet
It's as easy as that
My Take
Your week should include lots of fresh green fruits and vegetables, as well as soups, smoothies, and juices. Get creative with it and try something new. 

Self Improvement Challenge



Challenge Synopsis
  • Complete random acts of kindness everyday this week
  • Do kind acts for random people, That's right... help out strangers
Why Why Why 
  • Research has proven doing good deeds for random people can make socially anxious people feel better
  • When you are kind to others you feel like a better person, more moral, optimistic, and positive
  • Random Acts of Kindness release a hormone called nitric oxide a "carido protective" hormone that protects your heart by lowering your blood pressure
  • Random Acts of Kindness motivates and inspires others to do good kind things for their fellow man

Materials
  • A kind heart
  • An open mind
  • A little extra time

Directions
  • Here are some examples of Random Acts of Kindness
    • Fill someones expired meter
    • Pay toll for the person behind you
    • Buy a coffee for someone you don't know
    • Get extra food and pass it out 
    • Complement a stranger
    • Pay buss fair for the person behind you 
    • Let people merge in traffic
    • Send a letter to a friend
    • Call everyone you know and tell them you love them
    • Give old clothes to the homeless or needy
    • Bring donuts to work
    • Let someone sit on a crowed buss or subway 


My Take
This is an old challenge but always a goodie. The holiday season tends to bring out the best in people, what a perfect time to help others. Have fun with this challenge, get creative and help make somebodies day. 

That's all today folks
Peace & Love,
Mary


Reference:
www.cooks.ndtv.com
www.tinybuddha.com



Hi Friends!

I'm freakin tired today!!! I spent last night putting together Hot Chocolate and Detox Tea mason jars. 

Step by step directions to all of my mason jar gifts will be posted next week
 Detox Tea

Hot Chocolate

I put together 60 of each, that's 120 Mason jars!!!! 

Today I got up early and attended my regular yoga class, it was harder then usually but that's ok, it just means my body is getting stronger. Then I went to Michael's, CVS, Orchard Hardware Supply, Smart & Final, Trader Joe's, Safeway and Molly Stones! I didn't get home until 4 and it took me 20 minutes to bring all my bags, boxes, and jars downstairs. It was a long one, all of the stores were pack to the brim. There is a serious storm coming into town, 60mph winds combined with heavy rains, I was instructed by my Mother and the 5o'clock news to stay in doors all day. I gathered all of my ingredients for the rest of my DIY Mason jar Christmas presents and tons healthy food to prepare.

I'm actually excited about the storm tomorrow, rain inspires me. Playing Christmas music, drinking hot tea, having a good ole' time, while knocking out 60 Jars of cookies for Santa and 60 Jars of Sugar Scrub sounds like a good time to me.

If I'm successful I'll be more than halfway done with my gifts. I'm leaving the S'more kits and Homemade almond brittle until next week, to ensure they will be nice and fresh on Christmas day. 

Right now we are heading to dinner with Tony's cousins. Later tonight will be a knitting and movie night. Nothing better than knitting and watching movies into the wee hours of the morning. 

Well that's all I have for you guys today!
Peace & Love, 
Mary  

Hi Friends!!!

Deep deep down inside I'm still a little kid. Left to my own devices I stay up late, eat bad food, and cuss like a sailor. My boyfriend is starting a new business so I've been spending a lot of time by myself these last few weeks. Last night I staid up until 3am looking at Mason Jar ideas on Pinterest and searching my Rent the Runway app. We are attending a formal wedding in Miami on January 4th. I'm pretty excited about this one, I will get to see my man in a tux and I'm going to wear a expensive gown. I'm super nervous about renting a dress online, but I've only hear great things about this service so I'm going to bite the bullet and try it out. Plus I don't have $200 to spend on a dress I will only wear once. 

It's between these dress. I would love your opinion on which one you guys like the best. I'm thick voluptuous woman, with a big, high, and tight butt, a small waist and some serious boobs up top. It's hard finding dresses that accent my curves without making me look like a prostitute. That's another reason why I'm going with Rent the Runway, all the dresses I've found thus far look cheap or make me look cheap. I will never complain about my coke bottle figure I just wish people designed dresses for my body type.

I still haven't decided which dress I'm going to rent. I might even try to pull off a short dress. Who knows. 

Last night I made the most delicious Minestrone soup. It was quick, easy and feels like a Mom made it with a lots of love and care. The soup is super hearty, great for the winter time and full of fiber. I had one bowl and decided to eat another serving straight out of the pot, it was that good. The weather is perfect for such a delightfully hearty soup. The broth is also super tasty, I had to add a little more seasoning so I amended the recipe to reflect my changes. I need bold, in your face flavors, passive flavors don't make this blog. 





2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium leek, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
8 cups vegetable broth
1 cup whole wheat pasta shells
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 bunch red Swiss Chard, washed and sliced into large strips
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
1 cup small red onions, peeled and left whole
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper

In large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add leeks cook until softened, about 5 minutes
Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute

Add can of tomatoes (with juice) and allow it to cook down for about 5 minutes until juice thickens

Add bay leaf and vegetable broth and bring the soup to a boil


Add pasta, carrots, red onions, while onions, and celery and cook for 5 minutes

Add Swiss chard, cabbage, zucchini, and chickpeas, cook until zucchini softens but still has a crunch, about 5 minutes
Remove bay leaf and discard

Season with salt and pepper 

You have to try this soup! It was excellent. I'm having a bowl for breakfast right now. 


That's all I have for you guys today,
Peace & Love, 
Mary 



Hi Friends!

Today was a great day. I didn't make it to any yoga classes last week and my body wasn't happy with me. This morning I woke up on a mission to get some serious stretching in. I knew it was going to be a great day when I realized my favorite teacher was teaching. I meditated a few minutes before class commanding my mind, body and soul to connect and quiet down, which is always hard for me to do. I had a fabulous class, the teacher even gave me a few tricks to improve my triangle pose. I left feeling energized and ready to take on the day. 

After yoga I sat in my car for over an hour sending emails, texts, making calls and creating my to-do list for the day. Today was the day to start tackling my Mason Jar gifts. I am putting together over 300 jars which would be overwhelming to most, but as long as I keep it organized and set a goal date I should have everything done by early next week.... Hopefully!!!

I found a sale on the jars that I want to use for my sugar scrubs, 50% off at Cost Plus. Of course the sale ends today, so I cleaned out Cost Plus and they are calling around searching for more jars just for me. 

I got all of my herbs and spices for my New Years Detox Tea and all of the ingredients for my Hot Chocolate mix. I have 3 different people coming to my house tomorrow, the water company is coming to check for any leaks, my security system has been on the fritz so they are coming over and someone is coming to check out my car. My day will be full of talking to service reps as they funnel through my house. I think it will be the perfect time to knock out my detox tea. I love this stuff! I make a simple assembly line, turn on some music and get in the zone. 

I also purchased a 25 pound kettle bell today. I've been eyeing it for a year, but could not bring myself to spend 60 bucks on weights, but today was the day. I put my cheapness aside and purchased my extra heavy kettle bell. I can't wait to workout with it tomorrow. 


Tonight I'm trying out some fiber-rich recipes that might get featured on the blog this week. I love cooking, creating, adding and editing healthy recipes, I can't wait to fill the house with decadent flavors and scents.

This week's challenge is to add more fiber to your diet. Since I'm not well-versed in fiber I found some fiber facts that I wanted to share with all of you. 



  • The average person gets only 15 grams a day
  • Women should eat at least 21-25 games of fiber a day
  • Men should eat at least 35-40 grams of fiber a day
  • Fiber, and lots of water, helps achieve and maintain a healthy digestive tract
  • A high fiber diet can help reduce risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes
  • Fiber can lower blood sugar, cut cholesterol, and even prevent colon cancer
  • There are two types of fiber insoluble and soluble fiber
      • Insolube fiber does not dissolve in water, helps prevent constipation, found in whole grains, wheat cereals, carrots, celery, and tomatoes
      • Solube fiber attracts water, which slows digestion, found in boat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables
  • Benefits of eating and maintaining a high fiber diet
    • Helps maintain bowel health
    • Can lower cholesterol levels
    • Helps control blood sugar levels
    • Can normalize bowel movements
    • Maintaining a high-fiber diet lowers the risk of heart disease by 40%
    • For every 7 grams or more of fiber you consume daily decreased the risk of stroke by 7%
    • Can improve acne and skin issues


Foods High in Fiber 
  • Corn 
  • Legumes
  • White beans
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Avocado
  • Whole Wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Edamame
  • Quiona
  • Whole Wheat bread
  • Lentils
  • Pear
  • Artichoke
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole Wheat
  • Raspberries
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Apples
  • Almonds
  • Barley
  • Lima Beans
  • Blackberries
  • Bran Flakes
  • Pearled barley

Add more fiber to any meal
  • Adding flaxseed meal to oats, smoothies, yogurt, and baked goods - 2 tbsp contains 3.8 grams of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Chia seeds have 5.5 grams of fiber per tbsp - when mixed with water they form a sticky goopy gel that s great of thickening smoothies, creating healthy puddings and egg replaces in baked goods
  • Puree cooked fiber rich vegetables and add them to sauces and stews 
Fiber Cheat Sheet


Raspberries - 1 cup - 8 grams
Pear, with skin - 1 medium - 5.5 grams
Apple, with skin - 1 medium - 4.4 grams
Banana - 1 medium - 3.1 grams
Orange - 1 medium - 3.1 grams
Strawberries - 1 cup - 3 grams
Figs, dried - 2 medium - 1.6 grams
Raisins - 1oz (60 raisins) - 1 grams

Spaghetti, whole-wheat, cooked - 1 cup - 6.3 grams
Barley, pearled, cooked - 1 cup - 6 grams
Bran flakes - 3.4 cup - 5.3 grams
Oat bran muffin - 1 medium - 5.2 grams
Oatmeal - 1 cup - 4 grams
Popcorn - 3 cups - 3.5 grams
Bread - 1 slice - 1.9 grams

Spilt peas, cooked - 1 cup - 16.3 grams
Lentils, cooked - 1 cup - 15.6 grams
Black beans, cooked - 1 cup - 15 grams
Lima beans, cooked - 1 cup - 13.2 grams
Baked beans - 1 cup - 10.4 grams
Sunflower seeds - 1/4 cup - 3.9 grams
Almonds - 1 oz, 23 nuts - 3.5 grams
Pistachio nuts - 1 oz, 49 nuts - 2.9 grams
Pecans - 1oz, 19 nuts - 2.7 grams

Artichoke - 1 medium - 10.3 grams
Green peas - 1 cup - 8.8 grams
Broccoli - 1 cup - 5.1 grams
Turnips greens - 1 cup - 5 grams
Brussels sprouts - 1 cup - 4 grams
Sweet corn - 1 cup - 4.1 grams
Potato - 1 small - 3 grams
Tomato paste - 1/4 cup - 2.7 grams
Carrot - 1 medium - 1.7 grams

That's all I have for you today!
Peace & Love, 
Mary 

References:


It's Challenge Monday! 
Lets get to it

Fitness Challenge
Squat Holds 

Challenge Synopsis
I challenge you to complete 4 sets, 12 reps of Squat Holds

Why Why Why
  • Squat holds are an isometric exercise, similar to planks
  • Staying still, holding a position is just as challenging as completing multiple squats
  • Squat holds simultaneously challenge flexibility, strength, mobility and balance
  • This exercise builds tendon and ligament strength without weights
  • Adding non-movement exercises into your workout routine keeps your muscles guessing    
Materials
Just yourself

Directions

Squat Holds
Hold Squat holds for 10 seconds 
(that's one rep)
Complete 4 reps, 4 sets 



Start with feet slightly wider than hip width apart
Keeping chest high, eyes straight forward 
Move  hips back and down
Squat down until hips and knees make a 90 degree angle 
If you feel any pain in your knees soften your stance
Extend arms straight out in-front of body
Hold squat position while keeping your weight in heels, not toes
Hold for 10 seconds
That's one rep
*holding squat above a 90 degree angle will make this exercise easier
**if this exercise is too advanced for you start with wall sits 


My Take
I have a big butt, my Mother has a big butt, my Aunts, Grandmother, and cousins all have big butts. Big butts run in my family, it is what it is. Big butts were not always in style but now they are the epitome of a desired physic. But having a big butt is just half the battle. Since I have more cushion for the pushing I have to keep it firm, high, and tight, which is getting harder and harder with each passing year. This exercise firms, tightens, shapes and tones my big ole butt. You might hate me this week, but your booty will love me.  


Nutrition Challenge 

Challenge Synopsis
Eat more fiber in your diet

Why Why Why
  • The average American consumes less than 15 grams of fiber a day
  • Women should consume at least 25 grams of fiber a day
  • Men should consume at least 40 grams of fiber a day
  • What is fiber?
    • There are two types of fiber insoluble and soluble fiber
      • Insolube fiber does not dissolve in water, helps prevent constipation, found in whole grains, wheat cereals, carrots, celery, and tomatoes
      • Solube fiber attracts water, which slows digestion, found in boat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables
  • Benefits of eating and maintaining a high fiber diet
    • Helps maintain bowel health
    • Can lower cholesterol levels
    • Helps control blood sugar levels
    • Can normalize bowel movements
    • Maintaining a high-fiber diet lowers the risk of heart disease by 40%
    • For every 7 grams or more of fiber you consume daily decreased the risk of stroke by 7%
    • Can improve acne and skin issues
Materials
High fiber foods:
Corn, White beans, Black beans, Kidney beans, Garbanzo beans, Avocado, Whole-wheat pasta, Brown rice, Edamame, whole-wheat bread, Lentils, Pear, Artichoke, Oatmeal, Raspberries, Peas, Broccoli, Apples, Almonds, Barley, Lima Beans, Blackberries, Bran Flakes, Pearled barley

Directions
  • Increase the amount of fiber in your diet everyday this week
  • I will be featuring fiber-rich recipes this week

My Take
I've never paid attention to my fiber intake so this is the perfect Challenge for all of us. 

Self-Improvement Challenge

Challenge Synopsis
I challenge you to give at least 8 hugs a day everyday this week

Why Why Why

  • When you give someone a hug for at least 20 seconds a hormone named oxytocin is released into your blood stream
  • This hormone can lower blood pressure, improve memory, reduce stress and anxiety
  • Research proves hugging is effective in healing sickness, disease, depression, and stress
  • Holding a hug for an extended period of time can raise the serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness

Materials
Yourself and a few close friends and family members

Directions
Make sure to give at least 8 hugs a day

My Take 
I'm a hugger. I usually bypass hand shakes and go in for a strong long hug. I can read peoples energy and intentions through a simple prolonged hug. Get to hugging and enjoy your week. 

That's all today folks,
Peace & Love,
Mary 

References:
www.shape.com
www.mayoclinic.com
www.mercola.com
www.skinnymom.com
www.mindbodygreen.com
Hi Friends,
I've been knitting like crazy, trying to knock out some holiday gifts sooner rather than later. 
Can't wait until they are all done, pictures coming soon. 

Staying true to this weeks nutrition challenge I have another seafood recipe to share with you today.

It's been raining all week which always inspires me to get creative in the kitchen

Everyone has their go to item on a menu, miso glazed black cod is my all star, hands down, go-to. It's usually served at Japanese restaurants. If prepared correctly the fish is flaky and tender, with a hardened sweet miso glaze. 

This recipe is pretty simple, it requires you to marinade the black cod for at least 2 hours but preferably 2-3 days. I don't have much patience in the kitchen but I did marinade mine for 29 hours.

Black cod is a fatty fish full of omega3. It has a mild fishy flavor and is almost impossible to over cook. 

Let's dive into this recipe:

Miso Glazed Black Cod
Recipe found at www.thekitchn.com


Marinade
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup mirin
4 tbsp miso paste
3 tbsp white sugar
4 black cod fillets

Bring sake and mirin to boil in small sauce pan over med-high heat
Boil for 15-20 second to allow alcohol to evaporate 


Turn heat to low, add miso paste and whisk to combine


When miso is dissolved turn heat to high and add sugar

Whisk to make sure sugar doesn't burn 

Remove from heat once sugar is fully dissolved 


Allow marinade to cool to room temp 


Rinse black cod fillets and pay dry with paper towel, place in plastic bag
Pour marinade over fish and remove as much air as possible from bag
Place in refrigerator for 2 hours or up to 2-3 days 


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Remove fillets from bag, do not rinse 


Place fish, skin side up, on grill or broiler pan
Grill or broil until fish turns brown with blacken spots, about 3 minutes


Flip and cook other side until brown, transfer to oven and bake for 5-10 minutes
Fish is done when it is opaque and flakes easily 

That's all today folks,
Peace & love,
Mary



About

My name is Mary! I was obese for most of my life, around 7 years ago I decided to take control of my life and successfully lost over 150 pounds. But that's just the beginning of my journey. Join me as I evolve into the person I was born to become. I love to cook, craft, read, and make people smile. I'm happy you've stumbled on by. Let’s Evolve Together.

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