Number 12

I went back and counted. Since I began my CrossFit journey, I have created 12 blogs about CrossFit. Counting this one. So clearly, you can see that this one is a CrossFit blog too. This one is all about Community and Connection.

You all know that I’ve been doing CrossFit in my garage gym since…November 2019. Okay, if you didn’t know that, I’VE BEEN DOING CROSSFIT IN MY GARAGE GYM SINCE NOVEMBER 2019. Now you do know (not trying to be snarky, just trying to be funny…)

When you work out alone in your garage, you tend to lose the concept of community that CrossFit thrives upon. As much as I love my online CrossFit community (WODprep…you should check it out), there is a “disconnect” with online communities where you don’t have the immediate feedback of a CrossFit Affiliate (the gyms we go to…that aren’t in our garage). It’s fine. I’m not complaining because I have made some very very very dear friends through WODprep and I love and support them as much as they love and support me….you hear the “but” coming, don’t you?

Community is the fabric of CrossFit. Sure, it’s a sport that we (the participants) love…and it’s fun to watch the elites claw their way to the podium but it’s not about who wins at The Games. It’s not about who is the fittest man or woman in the world…it’s about incremental improvement. It’s about comparing yourself to yourself. You today vs. you yesterday or you last week or you last year.

I didn’t understand that at first. And sometimes I still don’t, I admit. Frequently I get angry with myself for not being able to go as hard as people half my age. I get angry at myself for not being active my entire life. Not starting athletics as a kid. I even get mad at my parents (who are both dead, as long time readers know) for being musicians instead of athletes. Encouraging piano lessons instead of gymnastics. Things I can’t change now. Things that are beyond the reality of my situation.

After reading all that, you’re probably thinking, “Great, so where does Community come in, Mary?” Recently, I traveled to Miami to attend Wodapalooza. It’s a functional fitness festival which includes some competitions. It also includes some really cool scenarios to meet elite athletes, get autographs and photos elites, and….meet the general CrossFit community which includes (at least for me), WODprep staff and athletes, A-list coaches like Aimee Everett, get some cool swag, and meet some of the “media.”

I got to meet my coach, Savannah. She is the best and she is everything I imagined she would be. Smart, helpful, strong, understanding, kind, and a SUPER coach. I got to meet Ben from WODprep. Like meeting a CrossFit rockstar to me. I’ve been watching his videos since I started in April 2019 and have been a loyal fangirl ever since. I also got to meet some cool WODprep athletes like Ulrika and Michelle. Both of them are exactly as I expected. Super fit, really cool, and awesome to chat with. And, I got to meet John Wooley, a.k.a. @MakeWODsGreatAgain … cohost of the Kettlebells and Cocktails podcast and the Scale and Bail podcast. Both Savannah and John made the Wodapalooza experience a very positive one for me, although it could have gone horribly wrong (mostly because I haven’t been in a crowd that large and that loud in several years…pre-lockdown.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Jim & I got home from church on Sunday and there was a package at our front door. I was pretty surprised to see it came from John. He shared that Savannah gave him my mailing address and so he sent me a gift – two things that had been mentioned to him (one by me, one by Savannah) which just totally brightened up my day. The community connection which normally is fostered through in person training and interaction is still pretty strong … across the interwebz.

I have one more piece of community that is truly essential and this is my opinion, no science behind it. A key to the community aspect of CrossFit is having someone who supports you and is in your corner forever…a trusted friend, a parent, or a spouse/significant other. I have that. When I want to give up and just let myself be crushed by the world, my continual injuries, my lack of motivation, my stress of the work week…Jim is my rock. He never limits me, he never puts down my efforts, he never makes disparaging comments. Quite the opposite. He almost embarrasses me by telling everyone that I do CrossFit and I’m strong. And he is behind whatever effort I want to make. If you don’t have a partner in crime like that, even if it’s only a gym-buddy…well…you are missing a vital part of the community. Jim doesn’t do CrossFit but he accepts it as part of my life. He is the best part of my community.

Posted in advice, Aging and Strength, Crazy Random Thoughts, crossfit, Daily Fat Fight, Daily Stuff, Exercise ramblings, Health and fitness, Journaling, Life After Mom, Lifestyle Blog, My Thoughts and Musings, Photoblogging, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Protein Packed Granola

I’ve been making my own granola because I haven’t been able to find my favorite protein bars. I have approximate macros if anyone is interested. This is just what I made for a “big batch”

1/2 c pecan chips (I buy them already minced)

1/2 c unsweetened, flaked coconut

1 c rolled oats

1/4 c dried cranberries

1/3 c dark chocolate chips

1/4 c protein powder (I’ve used both chocolate and vanilla, vegan and whey…any kind or flavor works

1/4 c coconut oil, melted and cooled

1/4 c egg whites

1 tsp local honey

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a medium sheet pan.

In a dry pan, toast pecans, then coconut, then oats. Combine in a bowl and set aside.

Combine cranberries and chocolate chips in a small separate bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, combine protein powder, coconut oil, egg whites, and honey. Whisk until completely smooth.

Pour liquid mixture over oat mixture and combine well. Press into sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Break into clusters (whatever size you prefer and mix with chocolate chips and cranberries.

Store in an airtight container.

Makes approximately six 50 g portions.

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Strong Body Healthy Mind 1

I’ve decided to do it. Focus my blog on getting and being strong, keeping my mind healthy, and talking to other WOMEN who have similar goals – strength, health, overcoming the horrifying stereotypes women have to deal with in the fitness/health community.

So you know, every few weeks, I’m going to select 3 women from my incredibly small list of friends (who knew my list was small…reach out if you want to be added to the list) and ask 3 questions. I’m also asking for photos but that’s not required…and I can keep you anonymous if you want. Those are the only ground rules. You’re a woman, and you want your voice to be heard.

This past week, Chris answered my call. (Others may too, but Chris did for sure, so I’d like you all to meet Christine (or Chris), also known as @Healthy_Strongr_LX Here are Christine’s 3 questions/answers:

What is my Why?  I’ve been working out in some form for 40 years (running, aerobics, cycling) but never weightlifting.  When I started doing CrossFit 6 months ago at 59, I realized the years of not lifting heavy things has cost me a lot of muscle loss.  My Why is so I can increase muscle and bone density so I can feel good, stay mobile, balanced, and active.  Plus, the endorphins from a hard workout are so wonderful. I need that high!  

A lot of women (and men) go into their 60’s expecting that aches and pains are a part of aging.  I’ve never believed that and I don’t want any part of my body to hurt — ever.  

What workouts motivate me?  I’m motivated most by any lifting workout. Since I’m so new at it, I can see an improvement in technique and weight each week and that’s super motivating.  Even on the days I have to scale everything, I’m motivated by knowing I’m getting stronger every day. 

What workouts crush me?  I find that I really dread it when I see wall balls, box jumps, and bikes on the WOD so I guess those are the crushers.  The whole time I’m doing them I feel like I should be in so much better shape than I am – which is a crappy feeling.  I am still scaling a lot of the workout so there is probably more that would really crush me but since I scale them, that will come later. 

Here’s Christine after her Deadlift PR:

Christine smiling and barbell with bumper plates

I’m not sure how I’m going to go about this in the future, but I want to thank Christine for answering my questions and being an Instagram pal. If you’re on Instagram, you should follow her. And me (@1charlestonsc) ….

Most seriously, if you are a woman who wants to contribute to the “awakening” of the media/social media to those of us who are a. older women (older than 25), b. not stick figures (mature, curvy, muscular, healthy), and c. interested in health (fitness, clean eating, avoiding pill-popping to cure), please feel free to reach out to me at and I’ll include you in my 3 questions.

I hope to ask some “elite athletes” to contribute occasionally too but that’s not a thing yet. For now, let’s give Christine a round of applause and some LIKES and FOLLOWS!!

Posted in advice, Aging and Strength, Crazy Random Thoughts, crossfit, Daily Fat Fight, Exercise ramblings, Health and fitness, Journaling, Lifestyle Blog, My Thoughts and Musings, Photoblogging, Service to Others, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

It Changed My Life

I get pretty passionate about CrossFit. I know it may seem like I’ve been indoctrinated into a cult but I wish I could explain fully what the CrossFit community means to me. It’s great that we work out and do hard things and root for each other. Each of those components are super important to me. And those three components break down into many reasons why I love the CrossFit way of life. Let’s take those three components and expand on each of them.


If you hadn’t heard, exercise is a fantastic way to prevent disease. The more I read about aging and strength training, the more I’m convinced that I’m doing the right thing for my overall health and my aging body. I’d love to say that I’m not growing older, but that’s just fantasyland. The reality is, as we age, we naturally lose muscle mass…and some studies I have seen recently indicate that menopausal and post menopausal women lose muscle mass more substantially after a certain age – dependent on when you enter menopause, etc. Because all this is “new science” (which is odd to me because aging has been around……..for ages, and so has menopause) the facts/figures are all over the place but a couple of articles I’ve read seem to say that the drop off into almost muscle atrophy is significant as you get into your 60s. I feel that the benefits I’ve seen in just my overall health – decrease in “bad cholesterol”, ability to lift stuff without hurting myself, reduction of “down-time” due to my persistent back issues – prove this one hundred times over. If I could just encourage one person to look into CrossFit as a regimen … even if exercise is brand new to you … and especially if you are a female … then I feel as if my journey would be beyond just a personal journey to fitness. CrossFit is accessible and DOABLE by all, especially if you commit and get the right help. The workouts can be scaled to any fitness level and the gains are extremely measurable.

Do hard things

I’ve exercised. I’ve exercised off and on since 1990. Each time I stared exercising, it was hard. But, I also know myself and usually when things get hard, I bow out. If I had all the time in the world and a good shrink to help, I think I’d probably discover that I don’t like pain and I don’t like to look like a loser/weakling so instead of getting to that point….I drop out. BUT, what CrossFit has taught me is that hard things build stamina and improve ability to complete everyday tasks exponentially. Because CrossFit is, at it’s heart, functional fitness – what we do as an exercise has a direct correlation with daily tasks such as reaching, bending, and stepping – I feel the change in my body’s ability to carry groceries, get up from the ground if I have to dig through a low cabinet, and pick up awkwardly shaped items when cleaning or moving things to our storage unit. Again, as we age, we find some of our “tasks” become more difficult or impossible due to “not flexing the muscles”. Instead of allowing that to happen, I fight it with every ounce of my being. And, even more than the physical doing of things, I show up regularly. Some people find it hard to work out alone. Even some CrossFitters don’t like the idea of being a garage-gymer. I love the community environment of CrossFit at an actual gym but since I have very specific time-frame issues for working out, I just can’t go to a local box because none are open at the time I work out. I’ve learned to get my inspiration and motivation from within and from my online community. The not-in-person aspect does make the whole experience a bit harder.

Let’s GO!

I think what I love the most about CrossFit is this part. While I don’t work out in a “Group” setting, I have. And, one of the things that KEPT me interested in the CrossFit style of working out was the feeling that my last place finish was equally as vital as the first place finisher. While listening to “Miles to Madison” yesterday, one of the judges for the CrossFit games was speaking of the iconic finish of The Capital event from 2022 where Rebecca Fusilier had the “power of the crowd” behind her as she struggled her way up the Wisconsin State Capital steps to finish (last) in that event – and he said (of the crowd) – “They will cheer for the person in first just as much or more than the person in last….that’s just the CrossFit way.” First or last, all are important. Everyone matters. Fittest to not, elite to novice, young, old, black, white, purple, male, female, either, neither….all matter in CrossFit. You stay til the last participant finishes and you cheer as loudly for the last as you do for the first (maybe moreso!!) I mean, when does THAT happen, huh? You get cheered on as you come in last as much as the person who came in first. It’s all about remembering that everyone can do this. EVERYONE. It’s accessible to all at any level. (If you remember nothing but those words from this blog, my job is done…)

Gotta throw a couple of photos to drive home the community aspect but also the fact that smallest to largest and weakest to strongest … all matter in CrossFit.


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Modification of Crock Pot Dog Food

I will 100% credit Dr. Ruth Roberts for the basis of this recipe, but I’ve thought multiple times about writing down my bastardization of it and now I am…For a friend.

I tended to get everything organic and tend toward items that were non GMO.

  1. 3 lbs meat – I used to mix it up – 1 lb turkey, 1 lb chicken, 1 lb lamb
  2. 6 cups of greens (again, I tend to mix it up, but kale or spinach were my go-to
  3. 1 cup of vegetables (I tended toward carrots and green beans but broccoli or cauliflower would also do))
  4. 2 sweet potatoes or yams
  5. 1 can of kidney beans (although you might think GASSY, they will be cooked to DEATH and the gas will be gone)
  6. 1 Tums tablet (yeah, really)
  7. 1 cup of broth (chicken, beef, lamb) NO SODIUM!

Put in the crock pot in the order shown. Cook on low for 8 hours (I did overnight). Then add 1 cup of barley. If you don’t think your dog can digest barley (or quinoa or farro or even a small grain pasta like Orzo), add another cup of potatoes cut into small dice and cook for another hour.

Once it’s all done cooking, use a potato masher or a meat fork to smoosh it into small bites – also, consider (once cooled) using a food processor and just pulsing a few times.

I always froze half and then stored the other half in the fridge. Serving size depends on the dog. For my greyhound it was 1 cup. Sometimes I would add it to some high end kibble, if she was eating it.

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When to push UP and when to stay

Don’t think, based on the title, that I actually have the answer to this “dilemma” because I don’t. But I wanted to kinda report in on what happened today and pose this idea to you for….the future.

Often times my focus during my workouts, especially my LIFTING workouts, is to go big. Get that next weight, because I’m still such a novice that I don’t like being “under 100 pounds” for every single lift. Watching the elite athletes (either CrossFit or any weightlifting athlete) push triple digits overhead like they’re lifting a pillow, not one hundred plus pounds makes me hope that some day I will be able to do the same. Not today, for sure.

But this IS a story about TODAY. Because I’m super competitive with myself, I sometimes lose focus on the trees and see only the forest. With post-workout perspective, I am seeing both the forest AND the trees. Here’s what happened.

My morning workout included Squat Snatch, Power Clean, and Overhead Squats. The snatch and the cleans were 3×2 at 80%, 85%, and building off 86%. The overhead squats were build to a heavy triple in 10 minutes. I approached the snatch hoping to go big. I wanted to get close to 50 pounds overhead in a full snatch. But I also knew that I’ve been having trouble making contact at the hip-crease with the 2nd pull in my snatch so I tried to focus on improving that. Eighty percent for me is 35 pounds which is my empty barbell. I got through 3 rounds of 2 reps at 35 pounds and felt okay about the contact I was making. It wasn’t perfect but it was better than it had been so I loaded my 5 pound fractionals onto the bar and decided to see how 40 pounds went. Quite honestly, it went better than I thought. Feeling confident about those lifts, I switched to my 45 pound plates and went for it. The first lift was okay, but no contact and I felt I didn’t get under the bar quickly so I tried a second lift with 45. That one seemed the same shaky slow pull under the bar with less contact than I wanted (although a bit). At that point, I knew I wasn’t going to PR my snatch and so I just refocused, trying to get the right amount of extension, a bit more contact, and some speed into the squat. It wasn’t perfect but it was something to build on.

Lots of times, when that first lift doesn’t go as I had hoped, the rest of the morning is a bust. But, I knew my power clean could be good if I focused, and I love me some overhead squats!

Not only did my 45 pound power clean go up easily, my turnover was good and I felt powerful! Up we went to 50# and then 55 pounds! All of them went *fairly well* and I felt my form was holding. Come to find out, that was the most weight I’ve power cleaned (2 rep) and I had a personal best there!

Moving into the overhead squats, I wanted to see how heavy those could get for me – I’ve failed 40 pounds in the past few months so had no idea what I could do. The directions told me to start with an empty bar and move up which I did…25, 37, 40, 42…43….45……..47!! And then 50!! I was stunned! I got 50# over my head in an overhead squat…3 reps!

This story isn’t really about just setting personal records. What’s about is pivoting. Making the best of where you are. Making the best of the situation you see yourself in. Could it be better? Sure. Can’t everything? Could it be worse? Certainly.

At the point where you realize things aren’t going exactly as you planned, can you stop and ask yourself, “What did I learn here?” When you find what you might consider to be a failure, can you extract a lesson from that? Can you put the failure into perspective and find a way to use it as a stepping stone to moving forward?

If you are learning from what you consider to be a failure or a NON-success, then you are on the right path. Not just in exercise or weightlifting, but in life too.

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For the girls (and women) … maybe this is you, too!

So, this past weekend I had a revelation. It’s actually a big one for me and maybe you too.

While watching the Atlas games, I came across the stats of an athlete and what I saw gave me pause. She’s 5 inches shorter than I am, and only 19 pounds lighter. Doing the math there…that’s around 2 pounds per inch. I don’t know why I did the math there. But it proved a point to me.

The point: Here’s this elite athlete who is half a head shorter than I am who weighs almost as much as I do. Right then and there, my brain did one of those “Bugs Bunny” screeching to a stop after running full speed things. I heard it in my head. If an elite athlete weighs as much as I do (ballpark) and doesn’t care. Why am I staring at a scale thinking that it’s ruling my life? I’ve been pissed for … a long time – around 4 years – that the scale hasn’t moved a pound and I try to eat sensibly, exercise regularly, and get as much rest as I can.

Maybe there is something to this, “Muscle weighs more than fat” thing. Does it? Should I believe that? All I know is that when I read that and I thought to myself how weight may not be the best indicator of fitness…it changed something in my brain. It made me think that I was looking at this inanimate object with hatred (the scale, to be specific) and cursing it because it wasn’t helping me. In all honesty, the scale wasn’t supposed to be helping me with my self image.

Now I’m gonna admit something I don’t admit often. I used to feel that the scale wasn’t a good indicator of my overall body composition. I used the way my clothes fit as the indicator. Funny thing is, as I have been building muscle, especially in my legs, my clothes don’t really fit well anymore. It’s not my waist, it’s not my butt….it’s my thighs! Squats, jerks, snatches…all helping to build my thigh muscles. Running, biking, rowing…building my…….quads.


What I really want to do is, remember that although the scale doesn’t tell the whole story, that is NOT license to go hog wild. I still need to be aware of my nutrition. Keep my carbs in line, stick to the appropriate protein grams, and keep my fats under control. All while continuing to work on building muscle.

What’s the moral of this story? Well, two things.

  1. Inanimate objects should not control your self image.
  2. Understanding that weight does not tell the whole story isn’t an excuse to eat irresponsibly.

I’m interested in your thoughts too.

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It’s Just a Number

I’m looking at you. Yeah, you, 59. Just hold your horses cuz I’m not there yet.

A great deal of my CrossFit journey has been focused on aging more gracefully. Actually, that’s a lie, it’s focused on not aging at all. But since that’s a farce, I will cop to focusing on battling the signs of aging that a “normal” body might go through – loss of strength, loss of tone, overall reduction of fitness. That’s not for me. I want to thrive.

As I enter the final year of my fifties…….holy shit how did THAT happen….I want to feel better and stronger than I did ten years ago, because quite honestly, ten years ago I did NOT feel healthy. I was slipping into this decline where my weight, my cholesterol, my liver…they were all showing signs that I was abusing them. The liver wasn’t from drinking because I don’t really drink, but the weight and cholesterol were affecting my liver and starting to indicate that I would need medical intervention. It took a record high cholesterol reading (I think 224/200) for this vegetarian to realize that something had to change. I didn’t know what but when my doctor told me I needed to start on a statin I said, “Hold up…that is NOT for me!” And I tried to figure out a way to fix the problem.

It’s only been 3 years doing CrossFit and sometimes my body is REALLY mad at me for the things I do to it. And quite honestly, I look at other athletes and think, “WHY can’t I do those things?” But then I follow the program I am working….and I push myself….and sometimes I catch a glimpse of the work I’m putting in…just a glimpse. And it makes me smile.

Those arms! I’m finally getting biceps and triceps. Before my 59th birthday! Happy Birthday to ME!

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Yes You Can

Today’s lesson is about yes.

Today I taught myself a lesson about saying YES. I wanted to share this lesson so that you, my beloved readers, know that you TOO can say yes to things you didn’t expect were able to be “yessed”. Let me explain.

Frequently, I do CrossFit workouts alone in my garage at 5 AM. And by frequently, I mean every week day. I started on this journey in 2019 and I’ve tried to be consistent with my working out as much as possible. Life has gotten in the way a few times, but overall, I’ve been motivated and have gotten the job done.

There are days (we all have them, I’m pretty sure) where the morning is overwhelming and actually gets bad enough where I either cherry pick or totally bail. Those days I just chalk up as a loss and try to forget.

But for this YES moment, I want to point out that because I work out alone, I don’t have the benefit of other “gym” members cheering me on at the point where I do something GREAT (or even just a little bit good). I have to be my own cheering squad. That’s sometimes hard. Specifically hard recently as I’ve been sick and am just getting back at it this week.

The YES moments I am experiencing this week are YES you can do technique work and still have a moment where things CLICK … and your lifts (or whatever) seem to be exactly what they’re supposed to be.

This morning, I was doing pause push jerks. Although after the fact I think I realized I wasn’t doing the pause – push correctly, the receipt of the bar on just about EVERY single rep was a beautiful “float through the air and land in my hands” feeling which is kinda the way a lot of lifts are supposed to feel. Also, I got the true sensation of GETTING UNDER THE BAR in the receipt. It was phenomenal. I did my lifts with no more than 45 pounds, which is good for me, but not a record in any way.

And, I’m going to do something else YES that I need to do more often. Post a picture of myself that shows my stomach. I never do that. But damn it, I’m one week shy of 59 years old and while I don’t have abs of steel, I am proud of the shape my body is in…and I need to stop shaming myself for “getting fat” and not being able to shed the pounds.

This is 59.

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Roasted Plum (Roma) Tomatoes

Let me just say – if you like tomatoes (and maybe if you don’t) – add this to your arsenal of things to do with tomatoes. The recipe is simple and stolen from someone on Food Network – maybe Val Bertinelli or Aarti Sequeira, I’m not sure. And I’m going to make it even simpler – because it’s kinda one of those, “Do what you like best” types of recipes.

What you need:

A decent sheet pan
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Spices and herbs – choose your favorite flavor profile
2+ lbs of roma tomatoes

Core the tomatoes by slicing the top off (create a level spot to set them).
Slice tomatoes lengthwise, approx. 1/8-1/4″
Place in bowl and add olive oil
Add salt, pepper, herbs, and spices
Let sit for 30 minutes
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F
Place on sheet pan spaced slightly
Roast in oven 3-4 hours
Use hot, or place in airtight container and add to salads, omelets, pasta
If you want, store them in an olive oil “bath” – this is NOT necessary

Don’t worry if some get browned and others don’t. The difference in texture and doneness add to their amazing sweetness and flavor.

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