Yoga Ball Chair For Health

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My second ball. A new ball about every 10-ish years. Not bad.

Switching out a “chair” for a yoga ball! What?! Yep, that’s exactly what I did. I use a yoga ball daily for not only exercise but to “sit” on!

I’m always looking for ways to be kinder to my body and I’m always looking for ways to exercise while not “exercising” if that makes sense. What I mean is I try to get in exercise wherever I can. For instance while brushing my teeth I do leg lifts or wall squats.

Since I do a lot of computer work I wondered if I could work out my abs, legs, and back by sitting on a yoga ball. One thing I noticed right off the bat is my back feeling really good. No more achy feeling. My body didn’t feel tired and I felt more alert.

I experimented by moving my legs forward and back and wiggle side to side; both moves engaged my abs. I was onto something! Both fun and beneficial! I like that! Also, it gave me a great excuse to get rid of my highly uncomfortable chair! (In my forever quest for less stuff, that was another plus.)

I also noticed things like my back “self-adjusting”. And let me tell you… feels amazing!

So this is what I do: Sit on the yoga ball. My feet are flat for support. My legs are about shoulder width apart (I adjust feet positions for a change-up). There’s no rhyme or reason to any of my movements. The key for me is to not be still. I might tap my toes up and down or lift the heels of my feet up and down. I will wiggle side to side, rotate my hips around, move my legs forward and back.

If you give this a try, you can experiment with moves. I find it fun and anything to keep the blood moving is good in my book.

What sitting on a yoga ball does for me:

  • Reminds me to sit tall.
  • Reminds me to pull my tummy in. (Very important.) Always working the core!
  • Helps to adjust/align my spine. I’m always striving for ways to keep my back/spine healthy.
  • Relieves my back pain. I don’t have that nagging pain in my lower back when I’m done sitting anymore. I get up… and back feels great!
  • My abs feel stronger.
  • My low back feels stronger.
  • I’ve always had good posture, but the ball makes sure I do!
  • Keeping my body in motion is important to me, and this does just that!
  • I prefer sitting on a yoga ball now to a standard “office” chair. Or really any chair for that matter. I guess you can say it’s more comfortable.
  • No tailbone pain. I cracked mine a few years back. Owie. Long story…
  • My hips feel stronger. I don’t get that painful “pop” in them as often as I did. And really as I type this now, I can’t remember the last time that happened.
  • If you know me, you know I like doing things that have more than one benefit. If I must sit (computer work) then I want to exercise!
  • Not using a standard chair, I can stretch my arms behind me periodically.
  • My neck and shoulders are more relaxed and I feel the tension is much, much better.
  • Even though I am moving on a yoga ball, I still stand by my “standing up” every 15-20 minutes thing I do. I will do jumping jacks, squats, or even sit-ups and push-ups using the yoga ball. Check out Dr. Mercola’s post here on sitting too long.
  • I am more awake/alert. And that’s important especially if I’m doing research on a topic I find boring.
  • And most of all, it makes me happy!
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See how-to on lamp and desk.

Happy is good! We all have challenges, constant obstacles that get us down, but it’s up to us to get up, challenge those challenges and push those obstacles out-of-the-way. Sometimes as I work, a sad thought will creep into my mind and I know I can’t do a thing about that sad thought…I start bouncing on the yoga ball, almost as if I’m on a trampoline, and well, the sad is still there, but deeper in the back of my mind. In the midst of bouncing, the endorphins go up and I can actually find my smile again.

So if challenges and obstacles are pushing at you…push back!

Hugs to all my Awesomenesses!

Peace, Koko ❤

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Fitness Challenge Push-ups

Fitness needs to be fun. You are more apt to stick with something if it’s fun. If it’s not fun, at least find something about it that motivates you!

I was chatting with a fellow blogger, Matt from https://techchucker.wordpress.com about my son and I challenging each other to a push-up contest. He had to do double what I did. We were playing video games that night and every time he’d “die” or do a bad move, we’d have to drop and do push-ups. During about 2 hours of game play I did 300 push-ups which my son happily did 600. We both still had more push-ups in us, but decided we might regret the soreness the next day! Surprisingly we both weren’t that sore. Though on day 2 we could feel it in the pecs! It was a fun challenge I won’t forget.

Matt and I decided to challenge each other to do push-ups! The rules are really relaxed…just do as many as you can in a day. Now both of us made a base line video to kick off the challenge. He did a whopping 50 in one shot. I got in 25. You can see his here. And mine below.

The challenge started on June 17, 2015. It’s to go for 20 days straight. I started that day (6-17) doing 85 push-ups (Not on my knees but “military” style or otherwise known as “guy” push-ups) with reps of 10-15. I continued with doing 85 on the 18th and 19th. On 6-20 I had to switch up and do incline push-ups, using a chair as my incline, gripping the sides so my hands/wrist placement can be altered. As I mentioned on the video I am trying to heal a bad injury to my left elbow. The pain was getting pretty bad that I couldn’t sleep on day 3. This ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury is a long time healing process. The elbow also dislocated too. In the beginning the injury was so bad I couldn’t move it and for almost 2 weeks I couldn’t really use the arm. I’ve actually come a long way. I have full use of it, but in certain positions it will remind me very quickly that it isn’t 100%. I know what you are thinking…, “Then why the heck are you doing push-ups?” Believe me I’ve asked myself the same question. The short and simple; I was challenged! More so, I love the fun it brings.

The new incline chair push-ups: side grip did wonders for my elbow (as well as for my neck and traps. Another injury I won’t bore you with). No intense pain or outward swelling. I really wanted to do this challenge justice for the sake of the challenge, but I also had to take care of my elbow. On 6-20 I did 180 push-ups with new grip doing reps of 20-40.

On 6-21 I finished the day with 260 incline chair push-ups: side grip

I know my elbow isn’t happy and it has started to dislocate a couple of times on me, even with that, and some shooting pain before I started the different position, so far, it’s been worth it. The incline isn’t agitating my neck and traps too badly either. I’m already noticing a difference in my body and that is what it’s all about. Shocking muscles! If you keep shocking your body to do different things, amazing things happen. I’m excited to see how I feel and how I look on day 20!

Come on join us. You’re already a winner! There’s no pressure, so just have fun with it. Challenge yourself; do as many as you can in a day!

Follow me on twitter as I will be posting my push-up numbers using the tag #PushUpChallenge

I believe in you! Come on let’s spread the good energy!

Thank you for supporting me with your kind words, your follows, and shares! My followers are the best. I really mean that!

Monday’s around the corner, make it awesome!`

Best, Koko

Shoulder Exercises (Tip 11)

Are we sitting?  No problem.  Reading perhaps? On the computer? Watching television? Listening to music?  If you can get your hands free, here are a few movements you can do while you are reading email, blogs, watching your favorite show.  If you are a big-time book reader get a book stand you can prop your book up with and do these exercises!  I’m a huge reader and if I have the time to treat that indulgence, I try to get exercises in.

This exercise helps to strengthen and tighten the shoulder muscles all around the rotator cuff.

1. Sit tall (pull in that tummy!) Align your head with your spine. Arms out to the side (shoulder level) (you look like the letter T ). Now at this position you want to tighten your arms (if you have problem elbows…don’t lock them out.  Have a slight bend in them, but still tighten your arm muscles the best you can) and bring them about five inches up and about five inches down.  Kind of like you want to flap your arms but with tight control.  The movement is small.  Don’t bother counting.  Just do it until it burns and then count like ten more past the burn.  What I like to do when it starts to burn is widen my “flap” and move my arms about two feet up and two feet down.  I do this for about 10-20 past the burn point.  You can do this movement with a wider up-and-down movement if you’d rather.

2. Same position….tummy muscles in, and head, and spine tall.  Tighten your arms and do small circles forward until burn….Don’t stop!….after the burn going forward; now do them backwards and do them until you absolutely can’t anymore. When you do the next set start off backwards and then after the burn do the circles forwards.

3.  Same position…tummy in and head and spine tall.  With your tight arms out to the side in your “T” formation, in this exercise all you do is move your arms towards the back. It’s a small movement.  Your arms go back about 6 inches.  Then back to the starting position. Burn them out! ;P

4. Same T position…remember pulling in that tummy helps to protect the lower back. With arms out, turn palms facing toward the ceiling.  Now flip the palms towards the floor.  The movement is as if you had something in the palm of your hand and now you are turning your hand down to drop it.  Flipping a burger or flap-jacks!   Do those until you can’t do them anymore.

*Try all these exercises with palms facing up towards ceiling, or down towards the ground, or palms facing forward, or palms facing towards the back of the room. You will feel it deeper in muscles and in different areas of the shoulder.  The stretch you get from all these positions feel really good!

*It’s important with all theses exercises, your shoulders are set in correct position, and even height (you don’t want one shoulder higher than the other), and muscles around them to be tight as well, because you want your ball and socket inside your shoulder to be stable.

*Don’t lift shoulders up or down. Try and keep them stable.  It is your arms only that move and when you are counting inches, use your hand position as the starting and stopping point.

*Don’t forget to breathe! I like to start off all exercise movements with a couple of deep cleansing breaths.  It kind of resets my breath.  I too, fall into shallow breathing, and I must remind myself to breathe correctly.

*It helps if you tighten up your whole upper body.  Chest is tall too. Helps to lock in those shoulders.

Okay folks, so while you are doing your brain some good through reading, you can be doing your body a favor by keeping it strong and healthy.  I care is why I share…if anyone out there would like other tips that I haven’t mentioned yet, send me an email.  I’ll be happy to blog or personally help you out.  Let’s keep finding ways to move our bodies!

Here’s to awesome health. Go grab you some! ✾ Koko❀

Please like, follow and share…your support means the world to me!

Raw Honey

Honey can vary in taste and color.

What kind of vessel the honey is put into has a huge impact on how the honey will taste. Glass is the best container to put honey in as it helps the honey to retain its original taste. That is my number one choice. I prefer most of my containers especially if it is for food to be in glass containers. Say NO to chemicals leaching into your foods! 😛

If you take that same honey and put it into a metal container or a plastic container, both, will have a different taste. Both metal and plastic leech chemicals into the honey and can affect the flavor and the same goes for the color of the honey. The vessel can cause a reaction and the honey color can change. But to be fair, nature changes the honey color as well. For instance raw honey gets darker as it ages.

Flavor, taste, and color can also be different from season to season as well and where/what flowers the bees are getting the pollen from.

Now let’s talk “raw” honey. The main difference is raw honey is NOT heated. The honey you mostly see in stores; the clear, liquid honey, has been treated with heat through pasteurization. It gets filtered this way. Processing honey this way, kills most of the beneficial enzymes and nutrients.

Raw honey gets some filtration action, but they do it in such a way that the good stuff is still in the honey.  Unprocessed honey will give you the maximum amount of all natural antioxidants and the benefits as a whole food.

What I look for when buying honey is the wording raw and the wording un-pasteurized on the label. But it is not as simple as that; I know annoying! Make sure you know where your honey comes from and you can trust the source. Some honey producers will mix their honey with outside sourced honey. It’s cheaper for them to do this and what you are getting is not a good quality honey. Check it’s source!

Raw honey should look thick and cloudy. (see picture). It is a solid at room temp and of course a liquid when heated. The cloudy look means the honey still contains all the healthy goodness; vitamins, minerals, live enzymes, bee propolis and pollen granules.

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Notice how the honey stays on the spoon and the color is not clear.

There are also a variety of unpasteurized honey you may have heard of; there is the raw honey, and buckwheat honey, manuka honey (from New Zealand), wild flower, and a few others.

For the healthiest, best for you honey, go for the raw. You want it unpasteurized, unfiltered, unheated, unprocessed, as it comes straight out of the bees home! Keeping all the goodness in so your body can reap all the benefits!

Go raw!

In awesome health, Koko

Apple Spiced Infused Tea

I baked an Upside-Down Apple Cake last night.  Part of the directions was to boil water and then add the sliced apples, cloves, and cinnamon stick, turn it down and simmer for five minutes…then discard the cloves, cinnamon stick, and water.  Well if you know me, you know I don’t like to waste, as well as I LOVE getting more than one “thing” out of something.  So instead of dumping out this amazing apple/clove/cinnamon infused water, I made tea!

I remembered a tea that http://hariqhuang.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/apple-cinnamon-tea/ Hari made and it sparked my brain, “Brilliant I know what I can do with this apple spiced infused water”!  Oh my! It was so good, that I am doing this every time I make this cake. In fact perfect compliment to it.  When I was a kid and not feeling well, i’d add sliced ginger to this concoction.  Ginger is very soothing for the tummy!

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Apple Spiced Infused Tea

Now even if you are not making this Upside-Down Apple Cake you can still make this infused tea.

Boil 6 cups of water.  While water is boiling…

Peel, core, and slice two apples.  I used granny smith. I like the tartness to them.

After the water comes to a boil…

Add the apple slices

Add 8 cloves

One stick of cinnamon

Simmer for 8-10 min.

Strain out the solids.  Enjoy!

Makes 4 nice mugs full of apple spiced tea!

FYI: If you want you can grate the apple like (Hari) did.  Or, you can slice the apple, then chop up the sliced apples, to expose more of the apple for a deeper infusion. I found just slicing them and simmering them for the 10 minutes did the trick. No real right or wrong.

The flavors will depend on the types of apples used, but if you are an apple lover, then any type of apple will make for a nice tea.

An herbal infusion is a tea that is steeped longer than a couple of minutes and usually more than one herb is used in a larger amount.  By steeping it longer you get the maximum amount of essential nutrients from that particular herb/flower/etc.

Herbal tea is really any “tea” that is non-caffeinated made from an infusion process using any herb, flower, or spice. 

True teas come from the tea bush (Camellia sinensis), which is where we get our green, black, oolong, etc. teas from). 

By the way…The upside -down apple cake was a hit.  Family had it for dessert, then the next morning with half and half poured over top!

This was a happy cake.  We all couldn’t help smiling while eating it.

Here’s to you all having a happy day, no matter what kind of cake your are eating!❀

Flavored Water…Simple and Inexpensive!

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An easy way to drink more water…Get a container, preferably a large one with a lid.  (The one pictured is a 56 oz. bottle). Fill up the container with good clean water.  (I say that because not all water is created equal!)  I don’t always; but drop a tea bag in, any flavor; this one happens to be a passion tea by TAZO.  And sip away.  I will drink one to two of these bottles a day.  And that doesn’t count the hot teas or a cup of coffee I may have throughout the day.

Water is so important for the body.  Did you know that hunger pains you feel could also be a sign of needing to be hydrated?  Water is necessary for many functions of the body; for proper elimination, for great skin, for energy (yep, feelings of sluggishness can be a sign of needing more water). So go grab a bottle and sip throughout your day.  Make it into a game.  My sister-in law and I will text each other back and fourth….”Drank another glass!”  It makes it silly fun 😉

That’s my version of flavored water.  Simple and inexpensive!

What do you do to help you drink more water?

Here’s to Awesome Health,  Koko❀

Chia Seed “Pudding”

Remember the …. Cha cha cha Chia!–The funky clay heads you plant seeds on its head and it grows “hair”?  Same seed, but really a food!

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Magic seeds! Not really, but still amazing! 😉

Chia seeds; This endurance enhancing super-food is one of my top faves. Energy and stamina booster, I so crave and need. These amazing seeds are pumped up with fiber. One ounce gives you 11 grams, as well as 4 grams of protein! Also rich in omega 3 fatty acid, not to mention manganese, phosphorus, and calcium.

You can use Chia seeds as an “egg” replacer in a lot of your baked goods…Hear that vegans?! 😀 Use a 1 to 6 ratio of seed to water. Making a “gel” with it. This replaces one large egg! Very cool right?!

All you do is grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder/spice grinder.  Then measure out 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to 3 tablespoons water. Let stand until it forms a gel like consistency! The magic takes about  5 minutes.  Wah lah! 

When liquid is added to chia seeds, they swell up to 12 times it’s weight! It’s great for helping to feel full longer, to keep you hydrated, which is why they are so popular with athletes. I wish I knew about these in my long distance running days.  A gel like substance actually forms around the seed!  It’s like the seeds own protective bubble. This gel substance is full of nutrients.

Chia is an herb. Salvia hispanica-or-Chia; native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. This super food was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times. And some historians say that the Chia plant was just as important as the maize crops were in that time period.

You can add these awesome seeds to puddings, on top of hot oatmeal, cold oatmeal, in dressings, in your smoothies, tossed in yogurt, add them to sauces for a thickener, in lemonade; the possibilities are endless. Use them in place of poppy seeds too! You can also use them in place of flaxseed meal in baked goods. I like them best in my drinks, smoothies, oatmeal, and my favorite: a refrigerated no cook “pudding” that I eat for breakfast, lunch, or snack, and sometimes dinner!

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Refrigerated overnight “pudding”. Healthy, energy packed goodness!

Chia pudding can be made a million ways! Really! Made as a dessert or healthy snack.  Even when I say dessert; I still make it healthy-good-for-you-amazing!  The basic recipe is below.  The possibilites in what you put in it really are endless.  Bananas, chopped apples, berries, any fruit really can be added.  Any nuts such as chopped walnuts, toasted almonds, sunflower seeds, roasted pecans…are you getting it? 😀  Even the liquid you use can vary; almond milk, coconut milk, moo milk, water even!  Can you sweeten it? Yep, try honey, agave, maple syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar….whew!  Oh and you can spice it up too; cinnamon, Himalayan sea salt, nutmeg…see how this can go on and on and on? 😉

Okay here’s what I put in my pudding that I had for breakfast today:

Chia Pudding

1 cup of coconut milk

2 tablespoons of Chia seeds (I buy NOW foods and Nutiva brands as well as a few others. Nutiva Organic Chia Seeds, 12-Ounce Bag is what I use right now.  I am partial to anything ORGANIC! You can buy these at most health food stores.)

2 tablespoon of Organic Goji Berries

1 tablespoon of Organic Coconut Flakes

Stir and put in refrigerator overnight.  I mix mine in a glass dish that has it’s own lid.  Pop the lid on, put it in the refrigerator…next day take lid off, give it a stir, and enjoy!  If you want to eat this for lunch, snack, dinner, you can make this about 3 hours before you want to eat it.  Overnight is just easy for me.  I will make a few variations at night and the next day or two I will have them ready.  I wouldn’t make more than I can eat up in 2 day period.  This doesn’t take long to set up; really you are waiting until it gets cold and the chia seeds soak up all the liquid goodness.

Just keep in mind 1 cup of liquid to 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds.  If you want it thicker or thinner; just adjust the liquid.  Try this amount and go from there. 😀

FYI: I try and buy everything organic when I can.  If you see a recipe/ingredient/anything consumable-edible that I write about; if I’ve left out the “organic”, just know I try my utmost best to buy organic.  Because I didn’t write it doesn’t mean it’s not.  So what I am saying is, try and eat organic as much as you can.  😀

Hope you’ve this post and if you make this amazing pudding and or your variation on it; PLEASE let me know. I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with!

In Awesome Health, Koko

Shoulder Press Exercise, Sneak Them In!

Are you especially chatty?  Talk a lot on the phone?  Here’s another great way to easily sneak in some exercises throughout your day. (Tip number 10!)

Shoulder Press is a great way to strengthen the deltoids, those muscles that cup around your shoulder.  You know the muscles at the top of your arm.  Toning those muscles will give your arms that sexy look when wearing a strapless or sleeveless top/shirt.

Talk on the phone hands free and while you are doing that, grab some light weights and do shoulder presses.  What’s that? Glad you asked.  Here goes; get a set of 3, 5,or 10 pound hand weights.  If you don’t have hand weights then go to your pantry and get a couple of soup cans.  (But really, invest in a set of proper hand weights. Heck, go ask a neighbor, chances are he/she will have a set in their basement collecting dust and will happily send them your way.)  You can also find some nice dumbbells on Amazon like these Reebok Speed Pac 25 Adjustable Dumbbell Pair which I own a set of.  I have vinyl dumbbells, as well as, solid hex dumbbells.  I do love the adjustable weights because of the simplicity; I can easily go from 10 pounds to 25 pounds with just shifting the plates.  Also it’s nice not having a lot of dumbbells lying around.

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Vinyl dumbbell. Well loved as you can see.
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Hex weights. They are called that because of the “hex” shaped ends. You can get these in increments from 2 pounds to over 100 pounds each!
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Adjustable dumbbells. See the pin? It slides to adjust for weight increments. Very handy when doing trickle down sets.

Hold a weight in each hand. Bring hands to shoulder level. Palms facings forward.  Tighten arms and pull in that tummy!  Push the weights straight up towards the sky and back down in line with your shoulder.  That is one rep! Yay….now do that movement until your muscles start to burn.  Rest for a few seconds and do it again.  If your conversation runs long, hey take advantage of that and do other exercises we’ve talked about!  Get your workout in while chatting. How cool is that?  Make every day count and sneak in those exercises!  In a future post, I will have total body workouts you can do in under 20 minutes!

In fabulous health, Koko 😀

Cacao or Cocoa…or Potato or Pa-tah-to…

It’s like saying potato or pa-tah-to…tomato or ta-ma-to…

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Chocolate experts say that cocoa should be pronounced ka-kow. When you hear cacao (ka-kow); that usually is referring to the tree itself, the pods, and the bean inside of the pods. When you hear of cocoa (ko-ko) that is usually referring to the by-product of the cacao bean; which are the cocoa powder and the cocoa butter.

Cacao nibs and cocoa powder both come from “cocoa beans”. The difference is cacao nibs are still in the “raw” state. It hasn’t been cooked or processed, whereas cocoa powder has been cleaned, roasted, and processed.

As for the taste; I just did a taste test…I am probably not a good person to ask this as I can eat both plain and not mind it at all, since I do add both organic cocoa powder as well as organic raw cacao nibs to my yogurt and smoothies. The taste doesn’t come off as unpleasant. But If I had to describe it, I would say both have somewhat “bitter” taste. But again, I don’t mind that at all. I eat a lot of things for the health benefits. And actually now I enjoy the taste of them plain.

I hope this clears up a little about the differences in raw cacao nibs and cocoa/cocoa powder/cocoa butter, all stemming from the same little bean. 😀

Cacao Nib Smoothie

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Happiness Smoothie!

I enjoy smoothies.  It’s fun to experiment and also a great way to get down more nutrients in a single glass.  My smoothies change with what I know I need nutrient wise and what I am doing in any given day.

Today my smoothie consisted of about 6-8 ounces of milk, one whole banana, 25 almonds, 1-2 tablespoons of raw cacao nibs, and a scoop of whey protein powder. All blended up in a high-powered blender until…well….smooth.  Hehehehe 😉

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FYI…..

Cacao nibs: Rich source of antioxidant flavonoids.  Great for promoting cardiovascular health.  It fights against toxins that we constantly face. The flavonoids in raw cacao nibs can help improve circulation and blood pressure.  My favorite is it helps assist the body to repair and resist against free radicals; a toxin no one needs in their body.  There are other benefits too, being a good source of manganese; which helps to oxygenate the blood and a fab source of magnesium which helps with brain power, (I so need that!).  Cacao nibs are rich in sulfur and that means stronger hair and nails and awesome skin. Consuming cacao nibs helps with PMS and depression.  It stimulates our endorphins boosting our mood naturally! There’s 5 grams of protein in an ounce serving, not to mention 7 grams of fiber.

Try them in smoothies, granola, cookies, just popping them into your mouth!

Are you a smoothie drinker?  Any favorites?

I’m off to bike the hills in my neighborhood.  I shoot for 5 miles; that makes me happy, 8 miles I am excited, 10 exhausted, but super satisfied.  We will see what I can do today.  The weather is beautiful. The sun is out and sky is blue; touched with white puffy clouds. It will be a good thinking day as I ride.

Have a happy day, Koko 😉 ❀ ✿ ❁ ✾