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Mary Ann

 create, share, connect,    inspire!

If you're looking to level up your game, you're in the right place. 

From creating a successful online business to travel and photography tips, to dishing out banging recipes, while cozing up with glass of wine while getting real and personal, this is the place! Welcome to Mary Ann Life where it's all about the creating, sharing, connecting, and inspiring! 


Think of this as a larger classroom with endless possibilities!

Ya see, it's completely normal to wear many hats in life! I'm all about creating, sharing, connecting, and inspiring others to live their best lives. Believe me, the best it yet to come! 

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28 Days of Self-Love

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I was definitely late in jumping on the matcha bandwagon! I didn’t understand the hype and figured green tea bags immersed in hot water were sufficient. Oh boy was I completely wrong!

Matcha not only has various health benefits, but it also has a robust flavor that comes close to consuming a cup of coffee. Coming from a coffee-obsessed individual, that’s saying a whole lot. Perfect for the afternoon slumps, this latte can be made warm or over ice. The mint just makes it even more refreshing. Enjoy!

 

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Matcha Mint Latte

Prep Time5 mins
Active Time3 mins
Total Time8 mins
Course: Drinks
Keyword: iced, latte, matcha, tea
Servings: 1

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Matcha powder
  • ½ cup Milk of Choice
  • ¼ cup Hot Water
  • ½ tbsp Honey
  • 4-6 Mint sprigs

Instructions

  • In a saucepan, frother, or steamer pitcher, pour your milk of choice. Froth or heat up over the stove on medium-high heat. Pour the honey to sweeten it up a bit. 
  • Heat up some water, sift the matcha to avoid lumps, and pour the hot water while whisking the powder matcha in a small bowl.  You can also use a frother to mix the matcha powder with the hot water.
    FROTHERS: There are serval kinds of frothers. Some heat and froth, and some just froths:•Handheld FrotherElectric Frother & SteamerFrother attached to Espresso Machine
  • In a mason jar or glass, muddled the mint leaves to break them apart and release its oils. 
  • ICED LATTE: Add ice to the glass with the muddled mint, pour the frothed milk of choice, and the matcha. Give it a good stir with a metal straw, and enjoy!
    HOT LATTEAdd the muddled mint to a mug, pour the frothed milk of choice, and the matcha. Sprinkle a little more matcha, and enjoy!

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Growing up, Prego or any bargain spaghetti cause jar was our go-to for a taste of Italy during the weeknight. Little did we know that sugar and preservatives are what made these sauces irrestable. It wasn’t until venturing across the Atlantic to visit Italy where I truly experience the epiphany of real tomato sauce.

Making tomato sauce at home couldn’t be any easier and delicious. Using only a few key ingredients, it’s important to make each one count. San Marzano is my favorite can of tomatoes and I use any red wine on hand. Add some garlic, salt, and basil, and you have yourself an amazing sauce.

Arrabbiata is a spicer version of tomatoe sauce. Make this easy weeknight meal under 20 minutes. Prego and Ragu- fuggedaboutit!

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Arrabbiata Spaghetti

Prep Time8 mins
Active Time15 mins
Total Time23 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Italian, sauce, spaghetti, Spicey, tomatoes
Servings: 4

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 28 oz San Marzano Tomatoes crushed or whole
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 10 Garlic cloves crushed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp Red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup Red wine
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp Black pepper
  • Parmigiano reggiano
  • Basil

Instructions

  • In a large pot, boil water with 2 tbsp of salt. I know that sounds a lot, but this is the ONLY time to season the pasta. Cook two minutes under directed times. 
  • Peel and roughly chop all the garlic, and add them to a saucepan with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook to where the garlic cooks through, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add the can of San Marzano tomatoes to the garlic oil in the saucepan. Add the wine and a 2-inch parmesan rind. (the parmesan is optional, but it's oh so good!) Let it simmer, breaking the tomatoes up. Add some chopped basil, salt, and pepper.
  • Reserve a cup of pasta water, and cook the arrabbiata sauce along with the spaghetti noodles. No more of topping the noodles- the noodles deserve to soak in an arrabbiata bath! 
    Mix over medium-low heat, and if too dry, and the pasta water. (½ cup at a time) Let it simmer for 2 minutes. The pasta water will thicken the sauce a bit.
    EXTRA: Add about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream for a creamy arrabbiata! 
  • Serve the arrabbiata spaghetti in a large bowl, topped with more basil and parmesan cheese. Serve with a side salad, and a glass of red wine, Ciao!

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Pronounced “HOOM-uhs”, this is a Lebanese staple made weekly for my healthy snack cravings. Growing up in a Lebanese household, hummus was whipped into perfection on a weekly basis, served along with our meals. Contrary to the store-bought ones, it’s simply and deliciously made. With just a few ingredients, you’re definitely getting more for your buck, refraining from consuming an over processed product.

Personally, I stick to the original hummus, but there are times when the whimsical side of me dabbles and experiments with other flavors: pesto, sundried tomatoes, jalapeño, smoked chipotle, spinach, roasted garlic, and fried onion. Simply add any “extra” ingredients once the original hummus is whipped. Enjoy!

 

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Hummus

Prep Time8 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Arabic, Lebanese, Mediterranean
Keyword: dip, healthy, hummus, Vegan
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 15-16 oz Garbanzo Beans
  • ½ cup Water
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • cup Lemon Juice
  • cup Tahini Mix well if oil is sitting on top
  • Olive Oil
  • Paprika optional for finishing
  • Za'atar optional for finishing
  • Pinenuts optional for finishing

Instructions

  • Strain chickpeas, rinse, and transfer to food processor. (reserve a few chickpeas for garnish)
  • Smash garlic and add to food processor or blender, along with the salt, lemon juice and tahini, then process
  • If too thick, add some water. Taste to check for seasoning. 
  • Spoon hummus in a bowl or serving dish. Use the back of a spoon to spread the hummus over to create a little well ("canal"). Sprinkle some paprika, za'atar, and toasted pinenuts along with a few of the chickpeas, and pour extra-virgin olive oil in the center canal formed. Serve with warm pitas, pita chips, carrots, peppers, or snap peas.
    For various hummus flavors, process the following with the hummus mixture: roasted peppers, spinach, avocado, herbs, or caramelized onions.

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Chocolate and espresso go hand-in-hand in any drink or dessert. They compliment each other, quenching anyone’s chocolate obsessions. Fudge brownies just so happen to be the chocolate dessert of all the chocolate dessert. It comes to mind when I instantly think CHOCOLATE!

These Espresso Fudge Brownies are not super sweet at all. And that’s done on purpose. I want to basically eat fudge, and I think you do too! Serve warm with ice cream, or munch on them for breakfast- no one is judging! Enjoy!

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Espresso Fudge Brownies

Course: Dessert
Keyword: brownies, chocolate, dessert, espresso
Servings: 12 squares

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls
  • Espresso Machine (or brew strong coffee)
  • Baking dish

Ingredients

  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Cocoa Powder
  • ½ tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Espresso Powder
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 ¼ cups Sugar
  • 2 sticks Butter melted
  • 1 Single-shot of espresso (or ¼ cup of espresso)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 12 oz Chocolate chips semisweet

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a greased 9×13 baking dish. Press a piece of parchment paper (large enough so it overhangs the dish) into the baking dish.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder. Set aside.
  • In another mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth. Aggressively whisk in the sugar until incorporated. Next, add the melted butter, espresso, and vanilla extract. Mix until incorporated.
  • Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Pour the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes until set and cooked through. Let cool for 30 minutes. Gently use the parchment paper to lift the brownies out of the dish. Cut the brownies into 12 squares, and enjoy!

 

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Vegan lattes have become a new favorite of mine to whip up in the mornings. Oat milk stands out with its nutty flavors, and its thickness turns any latte into a creamy concoction. Pair it with condensed coconut milk, which is easily found in any grocery store, for an extra punch of sweetness. The mint gives this beloved latte a bit of brightness and freshness that’s needed to cut through.

Now to the best part: espresso. Perhaps due to my coffee obsession, I love using my favorite coffee subscription, Trade Coffee, you’ll instantly receive the best beans completely tailored to your coffee palettes. Get your first free bag on me!

 

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Minty Oat Latte

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cappuccino, coffee, latte, mint, vanilla
Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup strong coffee, single or double espresso shot
  • ½ cup Oat Milk
  • 4-6 sprigs Mint Leaves
  • 1 tbsp Condensed Coconut Milk optional for sweetening
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  • Make a fresh cup of coffee or a single or a double shot of espresso. 
  • In a metal frother steamer cup, add the oat milk and vanilla extract. Add the condensed coconut milk to the espresso (optional if desire more sweetness).  Froth the milk mixture for 1 to 2 minutes until it thickens to a nice, warm froth. 
  • Muddle the mint leaves in the mug to release its oil.
  • Pour the oat froth milk into the espresso or coffee, and top with a mint leaf, and enjoy!

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Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. Brené Brown

 

We all want to live a life filled with love, joy, and meaning. Research shows that our happiness depends on genetics, state of mind, and life circumstances. The majority of us believe that our happiness is dependent on life circumstances; however, to my surprise, research declares that life circumstances account for only approximately 10% of our happiness while genetics account for 50%, and our state of mind accounts for 40%. That’s incredible!

 

Genetics are out of our control and life circumstances are only partially under our control. Only state of mind is completely under our control. I realized this when I started Mary Ann Life Blog and read various entries in my journal. It’s definitely a story worth reading! But I digress–based on my life, state of mind was the ONLY aspect that I completely controlled.

 

The million-dollar question is how do you actually change your state of mind? The first step is self-analysis, which means: understand yourself. A good way to self-understanding is through journaling. I started journaling in high school during Morality class at an all-girls Catholic high school in Houston. The Morality teacher was onto something golden. She knew that we could discuss the in’s and out’s of moral dilemmas in our world, but, at the end of the day, to truly develop our moral understanding, we must engage in silent self-reflection. 

 

She handed out notebooks with our names, played Enya in the background (it’s still a one hit wonder), and asked us to spread out in the classroom, whether it be at a desk or on the floor. She turned off the lights, letting the natural light from outside illuminate the room, and gave us 30 minutes to journal. She promised that she would never read our journals, which freed me to completely express my thoughts and feelings. This exercise was the beginning of me understanding myself and controlling my state of mind.

 

 

I continued to covet journal time in college and well after: further analyzing myself, sifting through my confusion, insecurity, and self-doubt, and expressing my thoughts and feelings. Journaling was a way for me to process experiences and make sense of my life. Years later, the process continues to be just as important as it was when I was 16 years-old in Morality class. 

 

To attain a life of love, joy, and meaning, one must start from the inside and where you are. Tap into yourself. Be honest and compassionate with yourself about who you are and what’s going on in your life. 

 

This is definitely not an easy task. Sometimes self-doubt and self-criticism show up right after you dig deep within yourself. Without knowing it, our mind may naturally gear into protection mode, engage avoidance, denial, judgment, or distraction. Our mind wants to protect us, but in the end, it places obstacles in our path of self-understanding and self-love. 

 

 

My hope is that you will stick with the uncomfortable, and write down your thoughts and feelings so that you will understand yourself more deeply, which will lead to inner peace and happiness. 

 

Explore below a series of journal prompts, inspirational quotes, and exercises that will give you the opportunity to shift your state of mind toward self-discovery and self-love. They are designed to guide you on a journey of self-discovery from where you are now, to acknowledge and release your doubts, fear, anxieties, and confusion, to building self-understanding, self-esteem, and self-love which will radiate outward.

 

 

 

1. Start where you are: create a sacred space

Before you dive in, make sure that you have a sacred space where you can sit and respond to these journal questions and practice self-inquiry. Choose a space where you can go for a few minutes every day to focus. Place your favorite items, such as a candle or a picture of a loved one, a soft blanket and pillow, flowers, or an inspirational quote. Don’t be afraid to even change it up a bit by taking that sacred space outside to a coffee shop, art museum, or in a parked car. 

 

Notebooks for Journals range from simple to decorative. Choose what’s best suited for you. When the pen to paper method is not your forte, vouch for journaling on your laptop using Google Docs. Start where you are. Tap in to yourself. 

 

Add background music, or be in silence. I prefer stirring and relaxing music. YouTube has several stations for ambient music. 

 

2. Prompt Questions

As you sit down to write, take a few deep breaths and make a promise to yourself about how you are going to approach self-analysis and self-love. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and just be present. Take a moment to be aware of your thoughts and feelings associated with each prompt question. Take three deep breaths and repeat these phrases slowly and mindfully three to five times: 

 

May I be at peace. May I treat myself with kindness. May I accept myself just as I am in this moment.

 

 

3. A mantra to let it be

A mantra is a phrase or a sentence that you can repeat to yourself to improve your mood or reinforce a positive thought or feeling. Quotes poetically resonate and hold a powerful reminder to “let it be.” 

 

 

We have unique ways of experiencing our emotions, from happiness to self-doubt. When you have a feeling, thought, or a belief, it’s easy to think that it defines you as a person. Remember that your thoughts and feelings are a part of you and your life experience, but that they are NOT your identity. The French philosopher Jean Paul Sarte declared that a human being is “nothing else but that which he makes of himself.” 

 

In addition to journaling, here is a 28-Days Towards Self-Love that takes little time in your day. These will direct you towards finding the joys in the little things as you immerse yourself into a self-discovery and self-love journey. 

 

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Welcome to Today or Never Podcast where we will explore all of these questions, pursuits, desires, and so much more! 

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