My LASIK Experience – The Healing Process (At 2 weeks)

I only widely (okay, via social media) announced that I’d be undergoing LASIK the day it happened..

Since it’s been done, the most questions I’ve received from friends and family aren’t about the procedure itself, but the healing and how they are now.

Please remember that everyone will react differently, and this is solely MY experience. For instance, I met a colleague last week saying that he had no light halos, but wasn’t able to really see at all for nearly 10 hours post-surgery. Very different from my healing, but his vision came out just great!

There are a number of known side effects that can occur, and they’re perfectly normal to have, and will likely go away over time. This is a huge thing I’ve made sure to keep in mind. Things will NOT be perfect out the gate, or even for a little bit after. But it’s NORMAL! If I take care of them properly, I know I’ll be just fine :)

My post-surgery regimen consisted of the following:

  • Wear sunglasses while outdoors for 3 months
  • Wear the provided lightweight goggles for showering and sleeping for 3 days
  • One set of drops 3x/day for 3 days
  • Two other sets of drops 3x/day for 7 days
  • Preservative-free artificial tears for dryness as needed
  • No swimming or sports for 3 weeks; Use eye protection after the 3 weeks.
  • No running/biking/strength training for 2 weeks (Wahhhhh)
  • No rubbing eyes or squeezing them closed

Since I’m 2 weeks into healing, my drops regimen is complete and I just use the artificial tears as needed. I still have light halos and need to wear sunglasses. Other than being careful driving at night, being mindful in general and making sure I don’t forget my sunglasses, it’s pretty low maintenance!

Sunglasses

Sunglasses in little drawstring bag
It’s harder to forget when it’s cute!

It was explained to me that protection from the sun’s UV rays is extremely important for healing! UV rays, as we know, are quite damaging. This is why we wear sunscreen.. To protect our skin cells from sunburn!

For the eyes, sunglasses do the trick. UV rays can harm your cells and increase the chance of scarring. I’m pretty sure that one DOES NOT WANT SCARRING ON THE EYEBALLS. So, I’m playing it super duper safe here and wearing them anytime the sun’s out and I’m out, even if it’s cloudy. Of course, not when it’s dangerously dark with em on.

I picked out a cute, cheap pair to start with, and Justin made sure they looked fine on me. They’re comfortable on me, have really good coverage, are polarized and offer 100% UV protection. Perhaps later, I’ll find a nice, quality pair instead of cute, cheap ones. Or not. Cuz these really do the job well, and I’m cheap frugal.

I’ve never needed sunglasses simply because I never been able to wear them with my regular glasses. Sunglasses are such a new concept to me! Regular glasses never left my face, so I’ve got a higher chance of losing these since I take them off.

To make sure I keep them with me at all times, I made a little sunglasses bag with some scrap fabric I had. I kept my drops (when I still needed them) and an extra tissue in the bottom, and I even put in a small pocket to store the artificial tears since they’re good to keep around.

Dryness

One of the first things I noticed was the increased dryness. I felt like I had to use the artificial tears multiple times per day to have them feel normal. The dryness decreased dramatically after the 4th day. I went from lots of times per day to just a few times per day. After about a week and a half, it was closer to once per day.

Yesterday and today, I haven’t needed them at all! I keep them with me in case I do need them. Plus, I have that little pocket in my sunglasses bag. It’s cute, okay?!

Light Halos and Light Sensitivity

I’ve read that light halos can last up to a few months, and I look forward to the night/morning that I look at my FitBit screen and DON’T see the cloudy halo. I can’t find a good photo on the internet of how it is for me, but I compare seeing light halos to seeing the moon on a slightly foggy night. You see the moon clearly, but it has a little cloud of light around it. I do not see a distinct circle at the outside of the cloud like some of the internet photos do. I can also pretty much see the shape of the light itself.

They can be kind of annoying and interfere with more than I realized.

The halos are more prevalent when it’s something light against something dark. It also happens, however, when you have something dark surrounded by something much lighter. Not necessarily brighter. This is the more annoying kind because the halo part kinda starts interfering with the dark stuff I’m trying to focus on.

For a while, I was thinking the vision clarity hadn’t settled in (which it probably hasn’t), but I realized that it’s the halos making darer things appear more blurry. The lighter things seem, the more halos there are.

It took me a while to realize that my eyes are more light sensitive now. I don’t know if this is is permanent or not, but it’s tolerable. Not at all like getting my pupils dilated that one time! Sometimes I have trouble transitioning from primarily light environments to darker ones. Like going from outside to inside. When I do this, the halos around the highlights seem bigger and my vision seems “worse” until I get used to it.

Again, I didn’t realize how much the halos were the culprit of the unclarity until I put my sunglasses on while in front of my computer at work. The dark text on the light screen was getting eaten by the cloudies! It really helped with the eye strain I was starting to feel. My coworkers know what’s going on, but I still felt the need to explain why I was wearing sunglasses at my desk. (Why am I so self-conscious??)

My first day back at work (4 days after surgery), my eyes felt so strained and it wasn’t terribly pleasant. I’ve had a couple days good and a couple days sub-par. But I realized that when I put my sunglasses on, everything turned much sharper, and I realized what was happening.

I now keep a pair of swag sunglasses, the kind that end up being given away for free as promo items, at my desk. They’re not polarized so they don’t mess with the LCD screens. I love rainbows and all, but not those ones! I still have a little bit of halo-ing, with sunglasses, but they’re drastically reduced.

Weird Effects I Wasn’t Expecting

These aren’t medically wrong things or anything. Just some life adjustments and differences I either didn’t expect or appreciate more than someone who might be used to having normal vision or contacts.

With all the drops I needed to use, plus not being allowed to rub my eyes, I found that I really annoyed that I couldn’t effectively clean my eyelashes! The drops would stick there and just dry because I didn’t want to risk rubbing or poking my eyes, even through my eyelid.

Things within up to about 3 ft of my face appear larger than they did when I wore glasses. Coins on the table look bigger. No, that’s a nickel, not a quarter (darn!). Food portions look huge!! I keep having to ask Justin if [this] is bigger than normal or if it’s just my vision. Insert kind of dirty joke here.

I wonder if people think it’s weird I’m wearing sunglasses when it’s cloudy and not particularly bright out. I don’t want to be judged as one of *those* people who can’t handle the day because they made less-than-good decisions the night before ;)

Seeing in the shower is AWESOME!! I can tell the shampoo bottle from the conditioner bottle without bringing them up to 4″ from my face. Objects in the shower have real SHAPES! The shower curtain, shower head, soap, bottles, drain, the tub faucet, etc.. They’re not just oddly shaped blobs!

I can read in bed, on my side, without threatening to smash my glasses and/or face into my glasses!

When things aren’t super clear, I’ll still try to move or adjust my now non-existent glasses.. And shamefully shake my head at myself for doing so. After reading in bed, sometimes I’ll even attempt to take them off. Only to find that they’re not there.

On particularly less good days (I don’t want to call them ‘bad’ because they’re not bad. They’re really just less good), my brain just feels like I can’t see because I’m not wearing glasses. Except I CAN see.. AND I’m not wearing glasses. This one is hard to explain. Maybe my brain is just tricked into not seeing well when I’m not wearing glasses? 23 years of association there, I suppose.

This probably goes with the objects by face are smaller than they appear thing, but I feel like things end up being a lot closer to my face than before. Especially during the first week, I developed a heightened fear or jabbing myself in the eye. I never came that close before with glasses, so it shouldn’t be different without. I think I’m just extra paranoid of ruining all the work I just had done.

Stuff I Look Forward to Doing Without Glasses

  • Seeing in the shower
  • Amusement park rides! I’ll be able to see where I’m going when rolling on a coaster around at 30-60mph!
  • Seeing at water parks
  • Use sunglasses
  • Using my DSLR’s viewfinder
  • Not stabbing people or my own eyes when hugging them
  • Swimming and being able to see and/or not risk losing my glasses

Well, that’s all I can think of for now! I’m sure I’ll add more as I think of them :)

My LASIK Experience – Appointment by Appointment

I got glasses at age 7. Young enough to not realize that my vision was terrible, old enough to know what that change meant for me as a 2nd grader developing her own identity.

My mom said I could only identify the big letter at the top and the two underneath. Thank goodness for those tests in school who notified my parents. I don’t ever remember thinking at all, “I can’t actually read this,” and probably just went for it with my best guess. *Shrug.*

Fast forward somewhere between 22 and 23 years.

Happy face at the beach
Pre-surgery beach adventure on a most beautiful day!

But now, here I am. I don’t wear prescription glasses anymore, and traded them for sunglasses and lightweight goggles (for a bit).

I had LASIK 13 days ago.

By chance, family and social media, I was given a very trusted referral to Orange Coast Eye Center in Fountain Valley, CA for LASIK. It’s something I’d more fantasized about doing, but never really took the idea seriously, for a number of reasons, until the beginning of this year. Once I realized it was actually feasible (bless my late grandmother for her gifts that led to this) I decided to fully jump in and go for it!

I live in Seattle, so I knew the traveling was going to make things a wee bit more complicated. I am so very lucky to have the support of my friends, family and the staff at Orange Coast for working with my very strategically planned schedule.

Consultation

Avantasia, a band I really really really reeeeeally wanted to see and only had three North American tour dates was playing in Anaheim, on a Monday night. I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and schedule my consultation. Three birds if you count getting to hang out at Disneyland with two fantastic friends I don’t see often enough. I don’t count this trip in my expenses since I was going to the show anyway.

The LASIK consultation was my first time discussing the concept and the procedure itself with a doctor. I had read a bunch so there wasn’t too much new information. I still have never watched a video of it (as I was warned by a number of parties not to do so before having it done myself. I still haven’t.)

There was a bunch of painless tests to check for a handful of different things to determine my eligibility. These included questions about past prescription and when it had last changed, the size and shape of my cornea, current prescription (of myopia, I’m nearsighted), amount of astigmatism, eyeball pressure, etc. I don’t remember all of them or what they did, but I guarantee they included fun lights shining in my eyes, the letters tests and temporarily numb eyeballs. I giggle at how funny numb eyeballs feel!

I was told right then and there that I was a perfect candidate for iLASIK, the most advanced kind!

I didn’t have a date yet in mind, but was told this was okay. I was also instructed that I’d need both pre- and post-op visits. The scheduling would definitely have to be strategic.

Pre-Op – The day before surgery

Unhappy with disposable sunglasses
What is this nonsense

These were both short, straightforward visits. We did most, if not all, of the same tests in pre-op as we did in consultation. This was to make sure that nothing had changed.

This time, however, they did opt to dilate my eyes. Despite being nearsighted for 23+ years, this was the first time I’ve ever had that done. The plastic/paper disposable sunglasses they gave me me for afterwards were oh so stylish. And extremely necessary.

But all was well and surgery was set for the next day.

The Big Day – Surgery Day!

No more real tests today. Just a more detailed briefing by the assistant, including my post-surgery care.

I felt I had read enough about the procedure itself and wanted to turn down the .5% Xanex they offered for relaxation. However, the assistant had explained more of what I would be actually experiencing as the procedure went on.

I changed my mind about the Xanex, was given that and some eyeball numbing drops before heading into the surgery room.

There are two steps for the patient.. Creating the flap, like a little door in your cornea, and the laser correction itself that happens through the little cornea door.

Creating The Flap

From the patient’s point of view!

This was the weirdest part of it and its description is what changed my mind about the Xanex. It all happened as it was explained to me.

I was lying on my back, given a blanket and a teddy bear to hold. That was pretty adorable :)

I was given some more numbing drops, I didn’t feel any pain at all. There was, however, pressure for this part, A tube-like thing was placed around my eyeball, and I could feel a little bit of pressure going straight down. Supposedly, it was like a little vacuum, holding my eyeball in place while the laser-cut flap was being made, and pressure was confirmed.

There were little lights, and my vision slowly went gray…. This is due to the seal created from the suction and the temporary loss of blood right there. ZERO PAIN, but a really, REALLY odd psychological feeling that oh wow, my eye doesn’t do seeing anymore. As soon as the assistant’s countdown finished, the apparatus was removed and I could see light and blurry everything again.

Each eye took like 20 seconds max.

I then had to sit up and move to the other bed for the correcting laser, and lie back down.

Laser Correction

The eye not undergoing correction at the time had a piece of gauze taped over it to keep me from opening it.

For my operating eye, my eyelashes were gently taped back and an apparatus was placed onto my eye and slightly under my eyelids to keep them from opening.

For this part, I was told that I’d see a couple of red dots forming a circle with a green one in the center. I was to stare at the green one.. Just keep looking at it!

I was a little worried that I’d stray my sight from the green light and it would get messed up, so I felt like I tried really hard to look at it. But at the same time, was just kinda letting my eye zone out on it.

I could feel myself try to instinctively blink a few times throughout, but the thingy they used worked, and no one said I was doing anything wrong. So yay!

When that one was done, I closed the finished eye, and the gauze+tape switched to make sure I kept that one closed. Repeat process for my left eye.

I don’t think each eye took more than a minute or two. It’s hard to say, and I wasn’t really counting or anything. It seemed so fast!

When both were finished, I stood up, slowly, as directed. It was only now that actually realized I felt the Xanex. I had never used any sort of heavy medications before, so I didn’t know what to expect. It was a little dizzying for the first 3 seconds.. Whooooaaa. But then I was good to go.

I went back to the regular room and we tested each of my eyes on the letter chart.

It was blurry, but I could make out almost all the letters at the 20/30 row. WOW. Kind of a huge improvement, no?!

Post-Surgery (not an appointment, except an appointment with the hotel bed and In n Out Burger)

After heading back to the hotel, I put on the eye shield goggle things and went to sleep.

I remember waking up a few times and my eyes finally hurt since the numbing wore off. It was really dry and scratchy feeling, and I could tell they were tearing and watering like crazy! It wasn’t like OMG I’m dying, but it was really uncomfortable, so I just rolled over and went back to closing them and sleeping.

I started the eye drops regimen that the doctor had given me, and carefully went about my night, including some celebratory In n Out Burger feasting!

Justin and I at In n Out Burger
First post-LASIK photo!

I admit that we went to Downtown Disney in the evening to wander around. I even got to see a few of the fireworks.. First ones without glasses! (As an adult.. I’d, of course, seen them as a kid, but I don’t even know if they were blurry or not!)

Next Day Follow-Up

I was told that everything looked great, and that I would heal quickly. LOVED the sound of that! Only the next day, and I missed just one on the 20/20 line!

It’s been just about two weeks now, and I still have some of the normal side effects, which I will post my experiences with later. But here I am, 13 days later, and my eyes work!!

Also… I STILL haven’t watched a video of the procedure yet!

PSA for People who Play Pokemon GO and Those who Don’t

As a 90’s kid, the news of Pokemon GO was one of the greater things I’d heard last year! And now it’s finally out, and everyone’s playing! Not everyone, but this is what I’m going to address here.

This mobile, augmented reality game has people of all ages out and about looking for and capturing cute little creatures in the real world, on their mobile devices. Pokemon GO allows people to finally get a chance to find and catch ’em all. Both the 90’s version of the game have evolved, and so have we.

I, too, am engulfed in the nostalgia and the new take on the game. Our dreams have come true. There are POKEMON AND POKEMON TRAINERS IN OUR WORLD!! WE are them, WE are catching and training and researching and battling and leading the gyms. On Day 1, I met six other grown adults playing. I chatted with strangers which nearly unheard of these days. They didn’t feel like strangers at all. We had something in common.

People know what Pokemon are, and they know that people are out there catching them. It’s affected so many more people than I would have imagined. Whether they choose to partake or not, they know it exists. This concept hit me the other day when I saw the following sign posted.

Note to trainers

Now, onto some important notes for everyone:

PSA for Pokemon GO players

BE SAFE. It sounds cheesy to say “Safety first!” But seriously.

SAFETY EFFING FIRST, FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE

Don’t ruin it for the rest of us and get it banned in miscellaneous places. It really is just a game. Sure, it makes some of us really happy, and that’s an understatement in some cases, but it is absolutely not the essence of your existence. For the safety of yourself AND OTHERS, and all of our abilities to continue playing, please use common sense. Do not put yourself or anyone else in harm’s way to capture a Pokemon.

DO respect those who do not want to play, nor understand why you’re so excited. Just keep being excited, and let them be excited about whatever it is that excites them. I like to believe that our generation is better than that. Please don’t prove me wrong.

PSA for those who don’t

TL;DR: It’s okay to not want to play, or not even like the game. If you’re concerned about safety, say so, and make your words a positive impact. It helps people so let them have their fun.

Upon release, I’d seen a huge influx of posts about the game, as I’m sure all of you have as well. To me, it was refreshing. However, to some, people found the need to loathe “it”. It’s okay to not play. It’s okay to be annoyed at all the Facebook posts you see. It hasn’t even been two weeks. The hype WILL fade, just like everything else.

But please think twice before simply bashing on those who do play.

My guess is that 98% of those who say these things haven’t even given the game a shot. In essence, what you’re really putting down are the people who play, and that’s just not right. If you’re concerned about someone’s actions while playing Pokemon Go in a dangerous manner, address them directly and voice your concerns appropriately. A positive way of alerting players to danger is a great use of the care you have for your community.

Calling people [expletive] on social media is not ever going to get your point across. So don’t.

It does not make it appropriate to cast a negative judgement upon them just because you don’t empathize with them.

This game is getting children in hospitals up and out of their beds. Do not judge them.

This game is positively impacting players’ mental health by giving them a fun reason to get up and go outside. Do not judge them.

Is there a TV show that you enjoy? A movie? A favorite food? Watching a favorite sports team? Playing a sport or game? ANYTHING you’re passionate about? That’s great! But chances are, there are people who don’t feel the same way as you. And that’s okay, too! Instead of making a big deal about it, they’re happy you’ve found something in it that you really like.

Pokemon GO is their smile-maker. Their reason to go out of their rooms, a factor in the road to better mental health, something that makes them just happy.

Let them play. They don’t need your blanket negativity, and neither do you.

Go watch your TV show/movie/sport, eat your favorite food, bond with your kids the way you already do.. Enjoy YOUR Pokemon GO :)

Simple Chia Seed Pudding (With Add-In Suggestions)

I’ll add photos some day! Not them fancy food blog photos with white shimmering counter tops and chia seed pudding in a martini glass garnished with orange zest but with real, reused peanut butter jar and IKEA spoon photos on the break room desk at work ;)
Now with photos! Sorry to disappoint, but I had a good small, lidded bowl that worked quite well for portability and ease of eating. No idea what brand the spoon from work is…

If there’s one thing that I’ve found I enjoy eating, but don’t do it often enough, it’s chia seed pudding.

It takes night-before prep to get my chia seed pudding the way I love it: A little thick, but not globby; A little thin, but not runny. This is probably why I don’t end up having it as often as I think I want to.. For most things, I prefer putting food/meals together at the last minute. There’s not to say I don’t like prepping. For instance, I bring sammich ingredients to work, and construct it when I’m ready to eat. Not that you need to know about my weird eating preferences. I like chia seed pudding!

The best part is that you can tweak the consistency to however you want.. And make it with whatever liquid you want.. AND add in whatever you want!

Here is the most basic recipe for a medium consistency chia seed pudding. I’d suggest starting with this and then seeing where your tastebuds want to take you next!

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 Teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
image
Chia seeds first, then milk

Prep

  1. In a container with a lid, stir chia seeds and milk together. I like to use a wide-mouth, shallow container so I can just eat it right out of the container because I’m lazy I’m efficient.
  2. image
    I'm all mixed up, wuh-huh-huh
  3. Cover and refrigerate for around 20min
  4. After 20min, give it another stir. They start to absorb the liquid right away and this extra stir helps to spread them out a bit so they don’t clump up later.
  5. Refrigerate overnight
  6. Chow down! Grab a spoon, give it a stir, enjoy!
image
Chia seed pudding in its natural breakfasty habitat

Options

Substitutions

You can substitute the milk with pretty much whatever liquid you want.. Regular milk, nut milk, soy milk, etc. Perhaps mixing chia seeds with juice would give a more “chia jello” than pudding! (Note to self: Try this when you’re feeling daring.)

You can experiment with consistency by changing the proportion of chia seeds to milk. If it gets too thick, you can always thin it out with more milk. If you prefer it thinner, add a little more milk at the start. If you prefer it thicker, add more chia seeds at the start.

There’s no harm in eating it before it’s sat for hours. If you find you like it thinner, dig right in! I’ve let mine sit up to two days and didn’t have any issues either. I may have had to add a bit more milk to thin it to my taste. Like that was hard :)

During Prep Add-Ins

Sweeten it up with a little brown sugar, white sugar, or your preferred sweetener. Just taste it as you’re mixing it up. I’ve heard that honey is tasty but can be difficult to stir in. Maple syrup is bound to work better here.

Spice it up! A little ground cinnamon goes a long way. Make sure you stir it in well. Cinnamon seems to like to float on top of the milk’s surface tension. Add bit of ground ginger and clove for some fall spice flair.

Cocoa powder!! Add a teaspoon of cocoa powder for a chocolate pudding. Sweetening is always optional. I prefer the “dark” chocolate taste, but I can imagine a maple cocoa chia seed pudding being pretty fantastic.

Afterwards Add-Ins

I love it in its simplest form.. Seeds, milk, vanilla, and prefer to have my add-ins later.

When you’re ready to eat it, mix in some fresh fruit. My favorite is to add some cut up strawberries. Yuuummmmmm.

Chocolate chips are a fun way to add some extra sweet, too.

You can probably add any toppings that you’d normally add to oatmeal. Maybe not peanut/other nut butter though. It’s not warm so it won’t melt the nut butter and mix in very well.

Be adventurous! Share your chia seed pudding concoctions!

Re-Creating Ultimate Dance Party ’97 on Spotify

Today, I was prompted to create a playlist based on Ultimate Dance Party 1997. It’s the album my mom would have on in the car. Then, my sister and I would put on while traveling for whatever reason. Little brother and I just laugh and reminisce about what we call “Mom’s Car Songs”. It’s just silly stuff that reminds me of good times with my family :)

https://open.spotify.com/user/mewmonster/playlist/3T3Ir4saXF5LGmNgKN17AB

Most of the songs are remixes of the originals, but luckily, Spotify had most of them. Some may not be the right remix so if you find a version closer to what was on ye olde Ultimate Dance Party 97 album, please let me know!

Also, you’re welcome ;)

Snow Lake Trail

Snow Lake Trail

Last weekend, Justin, Dixie and I hiked the Snow Lake Trail in hopes of making it to Gem Lake. We didn’t make it to Gem Lake, for reasons below, but this hike was still awesome!

Growing up on the central coast of California, I don’t know what seasons are. The idea of hiking in the snow on a warm day (forecasted at 75 degrees) sounded like a really odd, but fascinating thing to me. Not to mention the promise of a gorgeous lake to picnic at. This was my top choice from the ideas that J made.

Snow Lake covered in snow
Snow Lake covered in snow

The beginning was the steepest, but it quickly leveled of and led into a very gradual incline the rest of the way. I’m not a huge fan of hills, but they’re usually pretty inevitable here and end up being totally worth it. The gradual incline was quite welcome and posed no discomfort for me! Even after the switchbacks started (just under 2mi in) the incline wasn’t bad at all.

The terrain itself was the challenging part..

There were snow chunks scattered throughout the whole trail, and some were much larger than others. It was definitely slippery, especially coming down hill. You kind of had to anticipate sliding down, which I thought was pretty fun! I only ended up with one butt slide, but a couple where I was able to anchor myself on the slope next to me to prevent a full crash n burn. I don’t think I did too bad, though I feel like I’ve got pretty good balance.

Justin and Dixie, snow on the trail
Justin and Dixie

There were a handful of places where the snow runoff crossed the trail and we had to stepping stone through them to avoid total foot submersion. Nothing crazy though. Still, totally glad for my waterproof hiking shoes! One of them, however, was pretty big and if you missed, you’d probably end up knee-deep in the cold water. I liked the water parts a lot, too. Something new to do, and the water was so clear and pretty, I just wanted to play in it! I world probably take that back if I tried to though.. It was probably freezing!

There were A LOT of rocks. The trail was really rocky. According to my step tracker, I must’ve taken many tiny steps because I ended up with way more steps per mile than I normally do… By a lot! I’m sure challenged my ankle integrity, and, unfortunately, had to keep my eyes on the ground in front of me.

Alpental trees and snow
The Alpental side

When I did look up, the view of the mountains opposite the one we were traversing was stunning! They were covered in snow and trees like something out of a ski or travel brochure! At one point, on the side of the one we were hiking, you could see four or five areas with water trickling down the huge rock cliff face.

Me holding a small snowman
Little snowman!!

There were also a few slope areas where you could trudge up and play in the snow a bit. I definitely got a kick out of those and even made a mini snowman.

At the summit, before the trail normally leads down to Snow Lake, there were slightly flatter areas you could play in the snow. It was still hilly so you couldn’t do too much, but Dixie and I tried to run around anyway. She did better than I did, but we both loved it.

From this point, the rest of the trail down was covered in snow, making it difficult to find the trail at all, let alone head down to the lake itself. It was super pretty anyway, even though it was frozen and covered in snow. I would have loved to make the trek, but safety first! Maybe if we had hiking poles. I’ve never used them, but I think I understand their purpose after this trail!

Melissa and Justin
Slightly blurry us!

This was definitely a moderate hike, and the things that made it challenging also made it fun for me! I’d like to make it to the lake sometime as well as continue on to Gem Lake. It was one of the most varied trails I’ve hiked and really beautiful everywhere. If only my DSLR wasn’t so bulky, I’d have loved to have it with me!

A California Girl On A Short Drive In The Midwest

The first leg of this trip began with a 12:50a redeye flight from SeaTac to Chicago O’Hare.

The airport at 10:30pm was the emptiest I’ve seen an airport. The security line was short, the terminals were peacefully quiet and empty and even Starbucks was closed.

I think the weirdest thing was brushing my teeth in the airport bathroom and having strangers coming in and out. It’s one of those things I’ve never really thought of. I have zero problem doing so around people I know, but strangers seeing me brush my teeth? Weird. Not uncomfortable, really, just weird.

Everything seems slower at night when it’s quiet. Boarding felt slower, the waiting to taxi and take off felt much longer, but it really wasn’t.

Us on the plane
Plane faces

I had taken a 2hr nap after work and before making final preparations, and the sleepy was starting to kick back in. Perfect!
I was a tad worried when a little one was very clearly upset on the plane, but she had calmed down before takeoff. I don’t have children (yet..?) but I’m pretty sympathetic.. I felt bad for the parents who were probably getting all kinds of angry looks from travelers hoping to get some sleep on a 1am flight in which passengers lose two hours.
Foregoing the neck pillow purchasing, getting into a comfortable position that wasn’t going to destroy me was quite difficult. Luckily, this plane’s seats had those head wing thingies that you can position outward to lean on. They were very helpful, and I didn’t need any additional cushion. It was still uncomfortable, and sleep was difficult, but I got a bit. So yay :)
Landing at almost 7am on a weekday at O’Hare did not lend well to my hopes of seeing the actual city of Chicago. Our destination today is in Indiana so heading towards Chicago was not the best of ideas. That’s okay though; I was so sleepy anyway!
We grabbed something quick to eat and began the drive. A car nap stop was necessary, because safety. After seeing signs for a candy factory, a candy shop stop was also necessary.

Albanese Candy Factory sign
Albanese Candy Factory

Definitely necessary. From Albanese Confectionery, I picked up only a tiny bag of dark chocolate almonds, pretzel balls and amaretto pecans. And a bag of gummi bears. That tiny bag really should have been a medium. It’s taken so much willpower to not devour it’s delicious contents over the course of like five miles. A stop there on the way back out miiiiight just be a trip requirement.

So Indiana is flat. At least the part that I’ve just ridden through. It’s very green, which I love! I have this thing, however, likely due to growing up with the Santa Cruz Mountains or other tree-covered hills as a constant background nearly everywhere I looked.

I never noticed it until I traveled across the country. If I can’t see big level changes, the landscape automatically feels boring to me. No matter how gorgeous the immediate area is. It’s a silly thing, and I have to tell myself that it doesn’t make a place any less beautiful. Maybe it’s too much sky and not enough everything else? I dunno; It’s just a quirk of mine, I suppose.
Overall landscape aside, I’m awed by how much open space and land there is between each of the cute little houses!! It’s so cozy, adorable and refreshing to see after living in and around larger cities. AND I WANT ONE! OR ALL OF THEM!
I’ve always wanted a house that’s cute and mine. It doesn’t need to be huge at all. I figure I’ll be able to fill it with everything that makes it into a true home, regardless of size :) A girl can dream… And hopefully not be disappointed later in life, hah.

We’ve almost reached our first real destination now :)

Medium

The silence of the blank canvas is overwhelming. Any clank or clatter, a welcome distraction from my mind that tries so hard to sing the notes yet no sound comes out.

But what is the picture? I feel the rhythm, but as soon as I reach for it, it ceases. The color fades to a dull whiteness.

Out of reach. There are no words. There is no sound. There is no color, no lines.

Just the emptiness of my soul longing to reach and find something. Anything.

Butter/Shortbread Cookie Variations

This is like the Lvl 2 to my post about 3-Ingredient Butter Cookies or Shortbread Cookies. Obviously, these variations increase the number of ingredients, but who’s counting.

Try one, try all, be inspired to create your own! GO COOKIE CRAZY!!!!!! Okay.. Maybe not. Please be safe in the kitchen.

Sprinkles

Because duh. Sprinkles.

  1. Add sprinkles!!!!!
  2. Bake as normal

Chocolate Chip Buttons

Just a little extra sweet and a lot of extra cute! You could also use M&Ms or make other patterns with the chips.

  1. Make slightly smaller round cookies
  2. Arrange four chocolate chips like the holes on a button
  3. Keep the baking time on the lower end of the recommended range

Apple Butter Thumbprints

You can probably use other types of “butters” instead of apple butter, but the time I tried these, they came out pretty awesome. If you haven’t tried apple butter, it’s kind of like more spreadable applesauce. YUM. (Thanks @rabbd for this one <3)

  1. Using the back of a spoon or your thumb, make a small impression in the center of the cookie. Be careful not to press all the way through!
  2. Fill the impression with apple butter (or whatever else you can think of)
  3. Bake as normal

Heath Bar Cookies

*Heart eyes smiley face*

  1. Pick up a bag of crushed Heath bar (usually found by the chocolate chips in the baking section of the grocery store)
  2. Top each cookie with about 1 tsp of the mix
  3. Spread it out and lightly press it in with the back of a spoon
  4. Bake as normal

Alternatively, mix the Heath bar pieces directly in the dough.
NOTE that the baking time will be reduced by a few minutes!! Keep a close eye on them. Heath bar pieces heat up faster and, thus, help cook the dough faster

Hershey Kiss Cookies

If you’re feeling adventurous, try experimenting with the non-traditional Kisses.

  1. Similar to the hand-pressed method (found on the original cookie recipe post), roll each bit of dough into a 1″ ball
  2. Use your hand or something flat and stiff to flatten the ball to be about twice the width of the bottom of the Hershey Kiss
  3. Press a Hershey Kiss into the center
  4. These will be a little narrower and a ltitle thicker so adjust the baking time accordingly. Keep an eye on them!
  5. The thickness supports and helps the Hershey Kiss stay in the cookie

3-Ingredient Butter Cookies or Shortbread Cookies

Lately, I’ve been on a shortbread & butter cookie kick. They’re so simple and versatile! They’re not overly sweet, and you can top them with pretty much whatever you want!

These cookies are great for rolling and cookie cutters, roll-n-slice, or even just pressing them with your hand (my main method, because I’m impatient and just want to eat cookies!)

The recipes for both are pretty much the same and are easy to scale to accommodate how many cookies you need. I live alone and don’t have friends who come over so I tend to half the batch with ease.

This basic recipe can give rise to so many variants..Let your tastebuds take over your imagination! See my favorite shortbread or butter cookie variants here! Give them a try and let me know what you think :)

The difference between the two is the type of sugar used.

Choose Cookie Type and Consistency

Chewier butter cookie – Use GRANULATED sugar
Crumblier, buttery shortbread cookie – Use POWDERED/CONFECTIONER’S sugar

Ingredients

2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup sugar of choice (chosen above)
2 cups flour

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (Optional, but recommended)
1/2 tsp salt (Optional, but recommended)

Making the Dough

  1. To begin, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar
  3. Mix in the vanilla extract and salt
  4. Mix in the flour. I find that it’s easier to mix in the flour by the 1/4 cup or so
  5. Pack and knead the mixture with your hands or use something like a smooth, sturdy cup to really smash it together to form dough

*NOTE* Roll the dough into a tube shape now if you plan to use the roll-n-slice method below!

Chill the dough for about 30min if you have the time. This step isn’t necessary, but it helps stiffen the dough and bring a little more flavor.

Shape the Cookies

Lightly grease a cookie sheet or cover it with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets (my best friend)

Here, you have a few options.

Cookie Cutters

  1. Flour a flat surface and rolling pin
  2. Take a clump of dough about the size of your fist
  3. Roll it out on your floured surface, sprinkling flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until dough is about 1/4″ high
  4. Tetris your cookie cutters to your heart’s desire!
  5. Use a spatula to carefully transfer your cut cookie shapes to the pan
  6. Repeat with the excess and remaining dough

Roll – N – Slice

This option works best combined with the refrigeration.

  1. Using all of the dough, use your hands to roll it into a thick tube-like thing so that the diameter is the size you want your cookies to be. About 2″ in diameter is a good size.
  2. Place onto a cutting board or plate and cover
  3. Refrigerate for about 30min
  4. Cut 1/4″ slices from the tube and place onto the pan

Hand Pressed

I think this is the easiest method.. It also works with a flat-bottom glass, but it tends to stick more than by hand.

  1. Take a small bit of dough and roll it into a 1″ ball with your hands
  2. Place it on the pan and flatten it with your palm until it’s about 1/4″ tall
  3. Make sure that the height is even across the whole cookie
  4. Repeat until the pan is full!

Bake

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 min or until the outsides begin to darken

Let the cookies cool and set before attempting to eat.

EAT!!!

Let cool and enjoy with milk, tea, hot chocolate, or whatever you want!

Don’t forget to share :) Because sharing is caring!