Today is October 19 which means that I am 19 days into the 30 Day Challenge that my yoga studio is holding. The first day of the challenge, I went all out and took 2 classes. I started out ahead. Now, 19 days in, I’ve completed 15 classes. I am behind. Between life, Lasik and birthday celebration, I’ve missed a few days but I still think 30 classes in 30 days is attainable.
You might be wondering, how does it feel to do yoga basically every day? It varies. I’ve had days where child’s pose (which I almost never take – I want to feel the burn, baby!) has been my refuge during class. I’ve had days where I’ve woken up so sore that I was sure that doing another class would be the end of me. I’ve had days where I’ve listened to my body and also considered my sanity and decided that squeezing in a class in the midst of everything else that is going on wasn’t the best thing for me. I’ve had days where I’ve left class feeling stretched and strong, even relaxed a time or two.
This evening I went to a Shake Your Asana session. It’s basically regular yoga with the music pumping. It’s a class that I enjoy and today, man – the music really…energized me. I moved through the asanas with ease, feeling strong and confident. And I kept having the urge to get up and just shake my butt. I blame that on the fact that Britney’s “I’m a Slave 4 U” was on tonight’s play list – followed by “Sexy Back” – I mean come on, that music is made for dancing. That feeling is still going strong and when I get home I felt like going for a run. Strange. Too bad it was pitch dark outside and pouring rain. I settled for a bowl of popcorn instead.
Over the next week I will be spending lots of time at the studio, 15 classes in 11 days is totally do-able. I’m ready to complete the challenge. Funk yeah!
At the age of 7, I had my first eye exam at school. It was a standard exam, all of the students had to complete it and I didn’t think much of it. A few days after the exam my mom told me we had to talk. I remember where we were standing, at the bottom of our staircase in the family room. She told me that I had failed the exam and needed to get classes. I was a sensitive child (who has grown into a sensitive woman) and immediately began to cry. I think my mom was holding me so she couldn’t see my face and asked if I was crying. I said no, I was laughing, I thought it was funny. I wasn’t willing to admit that I didn’t want glasses. Maybe I was afraid that I’d be teased, maybe I was worried about the unknown. Maybe I cried because it was the first time I failed an exam and the first time I found myself of the other side of “normal”. The truth is, before that day, I had no idea that I couldn’t see well. I thought everyone saw things blurry, that the fuzzy border around an object disappeared for everyone as they approached it.
The day we picked up my glasses is still fresh in my mind. I remember when we pulled out of the parking lot and I said to my mom, “I can read that sign!” It said “Mother Hubbard”, which I still think is a clever name for a convenience store, and my mom said “Well, good! You should be able to read that sign.” I read every sign aloud the rest of the way home. I was in awe. I could see. An amazing epiphany for a girl who hadn’t known she couldn’t.
And so, I became grateful to have glasses. They were a minor annoyance when I wanted to lay in bed to read, when it rained (I once “invented” tiny windshield wipers for glasses that I was sure would sell like hotcakes), that one time when I got hit in the face with a soccer ball and they cracked in half and of course I still couldn’t see during swim practice and got to be quite a pro at blind flip turns. By the time I was going into middle school, at the age of 11, I graduated to contact lenses, another revolutionary change for me. Sight without the limitations of glasses was a huge improvement and I’ve worn them ever since.
Then, a few weeks ago, Todd and I decided that it was feasible for me to have LASIK surgery. The procedure is simple, they use a laser to reshape your cornea so that you can see without glasses or contact lenses. I have been dreaming of having LASIK since I was 15 and my optometrist told me that I might be a candidate after I turned 16 and my eyes had stopped changing. Ten years later, on Thursday, I had LASIK surgery.
The procedure was fast. From the time I entered the surgical suite to the time I walked out, it was only about 15 minutes. The experience was so strange. You’re operated on while awake and can see what they’re doing the whole time. Of course my eyes were numbed before laying down and then, once in position, I spent the next fifteen minutes staring at a green light. They opened my eyes with a lid retractor and started the procedure by creating a flap with a laser that was placed directly on my eyeball. That part involved a lot of pressure and a few seconds of complete darkness. Thankfully, my doctor walked me through everything as he did it so I knew that the darkness was to be expected, that I wasn’t going blind. After that portion was complete, I could see not only the green light but a large red circle that was caused by the release of pressure on my eye. It looked like I was in a bad 80s music video. A second laser was used for the actual vision correction to reshape my cornea. The doctor counted down from 15 and it was done. Repeat on the left, and I was sitting up and seeing.
Everything was foggy as they walked me over to have my eyes examined. The doctor asked me to look at a wall that was about 20 feet away. Normally, without glasses or contacts, I wouldn’t have been able to tell that there were large letters on the wall. He asked if I could read it. I could.
I walked out of the office, glasses in hand, wearing nothing but the awesome sunglasses that they gave me to wear home.
I was also instructed to take a 4-5 hour long nap to sleep through any pain or discomfort I might experience. I gladly obliged.
Besides waking up once and feeling as if someone had poured a scoopful of sand into my eyes, I had no pain. After waking up from my nap, I’ve had no other discomfort apart from a little dryness.
I see now without any enhancements.
My follow-up appointment yesterday verified that one of my eyes was already at 20/20 vision. After LASIK, your vision is expected to continue to improve for the next 3 months to a year. I am already seeing just as clearly as I did with my contact lenses.
For someone like me who was once told that I could’ve gone blind if they hadn’t caught my eyesight problem when they did, this is hard to fathom. It still seems unreal that I can see, on my own. Last night, I grabbed my contact solution and started to take my contacts out. Then I realized I didn’t have to. I am so happy with the results and so blown away by the simplicity of it. I only took one afternoon off from work and was back at my desk the next day.
The whole process has left me feeling thankful for a generous and loving husband and supportive family, amazed by the wonders of modern science and blessed to have my vision restored.
Have you had LASIK or another procedure that changed the way you experience your world?
What are you thankful for today?
Good morning! It is a beautiful, sunny day here and the perfect day to announce the winners of my first giveaway. The two grand prize winners will each receive one 8 ounce jar of Catarina dulce de leche and the two second prize winners will receive one 4 ounce jar of Catarina dulce de leche.
Everyone had great ideas for this dulce de leche including frosting brownies with it, putting it on toast, making apple bars with it….my mouth is watering just thinking about how delicious all of that woud be.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the winners!
Kelly from Laughter, Strength and Food
And the winners of the second prize are:
Rachel at The Avid Appetite
Congratulations! I cannot wait to hear what you do with your dulce de leche! Please send your mailing address to pomelosunshine [at] gmail.com and your prize will be sent to you this week!
If you did not win you can still get your own dulce de leche at Catarina.co!
*The winners have been selected at random using a random number generator.
Forgive me for sounding like an elderly person but, I just can’t believe that it’s the end of September already. This month has flown by! September is always a great month, not really summer but barely fall. October though, is one of my favorite months. It’s the month when sweaters come out of storage, you start to crave pumpkin pie, visits to orchards are planned and apple cider becomes a staple, in our house at least. Not to mention it’s my birth month, and birthday month’s are always full of festivity and joy.
In addition to all of the comforts and simple pleasure that come with October, I’m also excited about a few other things that will be happening in my life next month.
First, I’ve signed up for a 30-day challenge at my yoga studio: 30 classes in 30 days. Yes, that means that my free time during the month of October will be largely spent in a hot yoga studio, increasing my flexibility, finding balance and pushing my limits. I’ve scheduled all of my classes through the end of the month and will be kicking the challenge off tomorrow with not one but two classes. I’m going to start this month off with a bang and I am so excited to see what life looks like with a daily yoga practice.
Second, Todd and I will be embarking on a new challenge together. We’ve decided that paying off our debt, both personal and educational, should be a priority. We have a plan in place, parts of which have already been implemented, and tomorrow marks the start of a new lifestyle. Like I said, we have a plan but what is that quote? “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”, right? We are diving in headfirst but have yet to experience what living intentionally with a carefully defined budget looks like, especially as a couple who will have to be accountable to each other. It won’t be easy but we are dedicated to our plan and I think we can do it.
Also, as it relates to our budget, we will be spending less money on meals and entertainment which will mean spending more nights at home. Of course that will call for dedicating more time to prepare home-cooked meals and I already have some great menus planned. I love to cook and try new things and I cannot wait to spend extra time creating in the kitchen.
Oh, and my sister will be in town this weekend so we will be celebrate our family’s fall birthdays – mine and my baby brother’s, he just turned 24! – on Sunday night. The joy and festivity will be off to an early start!
Enjoy the last few minutes of September and don’t forget that you have until midnight tomorrow, October 1 to enter my very first giveaway. It’s easy to enter and the Catarina dulce de leche is totally worth your time!
What are you looking forward to in October?
Have you ever done a yoga or other fitness challenge?
Welcome to another edition of What I Ate Wednesday hosted by the clever and fabulous Jenn over at Peas and Crayons. Tons of bloggers link up every week so don’t forget to head over to the party and check out their eats while discovering new blogs!
1) I took the GRE on Saturday.
2) Our fair city has been overrun (in a good way!) by ArtPrize. Here are some of my current favorite pieces:
3) I got a new car! I’m now the proud new owner of a used Jeep Grand Cherokee. My little old Hyundai Elantra has seen better days so we decided to just go ahead and replace her. We officially registered the car and transferred the license plate so I’ve been driving the new Jeep since this afternoon.
4) I am so excited to be hosting my very first giveaway here at Pomelo Sunshine. YOU could win a free jar of Catarina dulce de leche. The giveaway is open until Saturday evening at midnight so get your entries in. Winners will be announced on Sunday. I’m seriously excited to be sharing this amazing product with you so spread the word!
Now that you’ve been caught up on what I’ve been up to, here are my eats!
Breakfast: Instant oatmeal with a sprinkle of brown sugar for added sweetness. Eaten out of my favorite coffee mug, of course! Spreek jij Nederlands?
Treats: Some gummy dinosaurs, chocolate covered pretzels and a caramel covered marshmallow – can you tell I’ve had a sweet tooth lately?
Lunch: Yogurt + Pretzels + Apple = not exciting enough to photograph, sorry!
Dinner: Todd and I had a date night and ended up at CitySen – a new hotel lounge in town. We split a burger, fires and chicken pot stickers.
There may have been a pitstop at a pizza place down the street where my parents and brother were eating. And there may have been a cheesy breadstick consumed as well. I really need to eat more veggies, huh? I promise to get into salads again soon.
Has anything out of the ordinary been going on in your life lately?
Have you entered my giveaway yet? If not there’s still time!
If you read the blog regularly, you know by now that I love fall. And what flavor is more quintessentially fall than pumpkin? None, I’d say. Todd and I recently started attending a group at church for newly married couples and I signed up to bring snacks as soon as they announced they needed volunteers. An excuse to bake? Yes, please!
Since I was feeling creative I decided to dream up the most autumnal, decadent cupcakes I could think of – pumpkin cupcakes with dulce de leche filling. Whoa, mama.
To top it off I made homemade cream cheese frosting. Oh yeah, they were as good as they sound. Honestly, I’ve never heard so many compliments on one of my baked goods. Plus, I was asked for the recipe, always a good sign. Of course, pumpkin recipes abound in the blog world so it was the dulce de leche filling that really made these puppies unique. Of course, I used Catarina dulce de leche to fill them. I’ve raved about this stuff before and I don’t plan to stop any time soon.
The best part? This post is my very first giveaway post! That means that YOU could be the next lucky person to try Catarina dulce de leche. I am so excited to be hosting my first giveaway and am so grateful to Mary-Catheryn, the heart and soul behind Catarina for offering up these treats for my readers! More about the giveaway after the recipe. You need to know how to make these, right?
pumpkin cupcakes with dulce de leche filling
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cups canned pumpkin
cream cheese frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 ounces Catarina dulce de leche
yield: 12 cupcakes
adapted from the joy of baking
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Alternately add the dry ingredients and pumpkin in three stages, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
Fill the muffin cups evenly with the batter using an ice cream scoop. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes until cooked through. Cool completely.
When cupcakes are completely cooled, cut out a small cone shape from the top of each one and remove the cone from each cupcake and cut off the pointy tip of the cake cones leaving a flat piece of cake behind. Fill a plastic bag with dulce de leche and make sure it is well sealed. Cut the tip off of one corner of the bag and fill the space once filled by the cake cones with dulce de leche. After the cupcakes are filled, replace the cake tops to close up the cupcakes.
Beat together the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and beat until incorporated and smooth. Add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Pipe or spread frosting on the cupcakes.
And now for the giveaway!
There will be four (4) winners. Two (2) winners will win an 8 ounce jar of Catarina dulce de leche and two (2) winners will win a 4 ounce jar of Catarina dulce de leche. Winners will be selected at random and prizes will be awarded in the order of selection.
Leave a comment telling me how YOU plan to use your Catarina dulce de leche. Will it be to bake? On top of ice cream? To eat by the spoonful?
For additional entries:
1) “Like” Pomelo Sunshine on Facebook.
2) “Like” Catarina Dulce de Leche on Facebook.
3) Follow Pomelo Sunshine on Twitter AND tweet about the giveaway. Something like, “I just entered to win @catarinadulce in @pomelosunshine’s giveaway. Have you entered yet?” will do.
4) Follow Catarina on Twitter.
IMPORTANT: You must leave a comment for each way you are entering or your entries will not be counted. Everyone will have up to 5 chances to win so start spreading the word about my very first giveaway!
So sorry to my international friends, this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. I promise to get you in on the next one! The giveaway will be open until 12:00 midnight on Saturday, October 1, 2011. Winners will be announced on Sunday, October 2, 2011.
Testing, testing. Can you hear me?
Just kidding, I’m not talking about that kind of testing. I just got home from taking the GRE.
I haven’t really mentioned that I was taking it mostly because well, (honesty first) I haven’t really be studying for it. I know, I know, I should have. But I didn’t. The truth is, I’m not sure whether or not grad school is in my future. I hope it is but the timing hasn’t been right so far and, while I’d love to be a student again, I’m not in a huge rush to make that decision. Anyways, I signed up to take the new revised test and since it was within the first two months of testing, I received a discounted rate. I couldn’t resist the 50% savings and vowed to study my butt off and get a good score. And then I got busy and, yes, a little lazy and I studied a bit. Well, a little bit at least. Math isn’t my strong suit so I spent some amount of time with my nose in my GRE math workbook over the last week or so.
By the time the test rolled around this morning, I was feeling ready to take the test. Basically, I was glad to be taking it for the experience, interested to know what my score would be, not overly concerned about the results and thankful to be taking the test now to get a feel for the format and what to expect. I walked into the test feeling relaxed and I think that was a good thing.
The most surprising thing about taking the GRE was the level of security. When I arrived my ID was checked and I signed a confidentiality statement – sorry no GRE tips or secrets in this post! After that, test-takers were taken in one by one into a pre-testing area. When I was called into the pre-testing area I was the only participant in the room along with the proctor and another woman. The proctor assigned me a locker and instructed me to remove my scarf and watch if wearing one and place it in the locker. I was also told to empty my pockets completely and store all of my personal items, except my ID in my assigned locker. After locking everything up I was taken to another area where I was told to stand on a line on the floor and turn my pockets inside out. It was then that the second woman got out her metal detecting wand and gave me a once over. When my pockets were empty and I was deemed metal-free, I was allowed to tuck my pockets in and proceed to the photography area. My picture was snapped and then I signed into the test. High security much?
This was all repeated when I came back from my 10-minute break halfway through the test. It’s still me, I swear!
I have no idea why they are so thorough with security. It’s an important test but it’s just a test, people. It’s easier to get on a airplane!
Anyways, in case your wondering, the test went pretty well. There were a few times when I just thought, “I don’t know and who cares, ugggggh, I have no idea.”, and then made a guess but overall I was happy with my performance. They give you an estimated score at the end of the test. Mine wasn’t bad – not astronomical but not bad at all. I was surprised that my Quantitative scores were estimated to be higher than my Verbal scores. Official scores will be sent in November so we will see.
Now, it’s ArtPrize time here in Grand Rapids and I need to eat some lunch before going to check out some of the pieces downtown.
If you haven’t heard of ArtPrize, it’s an art competition that is in its third year. There are a few unique things about it. First, it overs a $250,000 prize to the first place winner. Second, the public determines the winner. Third, the entries are spread through the city. Fourth, it has singlehandedly revitalized our downtown and it is so cool to see so many people here, interested and getting involved in such a great event.
Here’s my favorite piece from last year:
We’ll see who the favorite is this year!
I hope you all have a lovely Saturday. I need to find something to eat!
Does your town have any unique events or competitions?
Have you taken the GRE? How did it go for you?
Happy Wednesday! Of course since it’s hump day, it’s time for What I Ate Wednesday, the link party hosted by the lovely Jenn at Peas and Crayons. Make sure you swing by there to see what everyone else has been noshing on.
1) Pretzels – one of my top ten salty snacks, I love to munch on these salty twists.
2) Fall Treats – I can’t help but drink apple cider and eat caramel apples. Qell, one so far but more to come, I’m sure!
3) Fresh Fruit – Apples and peaches are both in season here and I’m loving every juicy bite.
4) Jell-O Pudding! – I love these sugar free puddings. I get the dark chocolate flavor, they actually satisfy my sweet tooth in only 60 calories, totally unheard of!
So there it is, What I Snacked on Wednesday.
What do you look for in a snack?
What snacks can’t you get enough of lately?
Last night I made a big pot of pasta with red sauce. Just simple ‘ol spaghetti.
Why all of that carb-y goodness? Today was a race day! We felt we had to carb load the night before.
This morning, Todd and I got up bright and early to participate in the Grand Rapids Bridge Run. I ran the 5K and Todd did the 10 mile run – perfect timing to fit into his training for the upcoming half marathon. It was definitely a cool fall morning, probably 50 degrees so we were in no rush to stand around outside in our shorts, thankfully we had already picked up our packets so we arrived downtown only about half an hour before the race.
Todd’s race started at 8:03 so I wished him luck and watched him line up and start the race. My race started at 8:15-ish so I went to line up shortly after the 10 milers took off. My goal for the day was to beat my last 5K time of 29:08 from July’s Coast Guard Run, hopefully finished under 29:00. That meant running sub-9:25 miles the whole way. I thought it was a reasonable goal. When lining up, there were no placards for lining up with people who run a similar pace as you so I just picked a spot near the middle of the pack near people who looked like they might run 9:00 or 10:00 minute miles.
We took off down the street and by the end of the first quarter mile, I had a cramp in my right side and a charley horse threatening to flare up in my left calf. I was using RunKeeper and couldn’t wait for the lady to tell me I had completed a mile. She didn’t when I thought she would, right when I was cursing myself for not knowing where my running gloves were because my fingers were freezing. I was off to a bad start. Finally though, the RunKeeper lady started talking. Current time: 8….what!? 8-something? Turns out I was going faster than I thought, my first mile was complete in 8 minutes and 45 seconds, far under the pace I’d been hoping to set. With that I decided to ignore the cramp in my side and run the rest of the race at that same pace. Two miles in, I was still at 8:45/mile and feeling much better. Besides, at 2 miles there’s only a little more than a mile left to go, piece of cake.
Approximately 9 minutes later, I was waving to my in-laws, who had come to watch, as I crossed the finish line.
So, did I beat my goal of 29:00 or less?
I was so excited about my time, it’s my fastest recently and my second fastest ever. My fastest 5K ever was back in 2009 when I ran a race in March with snow falling. I ran it in 26:04 and was shocked that I went that fast. I was freezing and just wanted to be done. It seems cool or cold weather is the way to run, I always run my fastest when it’s chilly out!
After my race, I grabbed some waters and a muffin and met up with Todd’s parents. We chatted for a bit and then went to watch the end of the 10 mile run. Todd’s goal was to finish in 90 minutes or less. His friend, Dave, was running too and was hoping to finish a little faster than Todd, with 8:15 miles. We watched for Dave to finish and then Todd came in just a few minutes behind him. The both did great!
Todd finished faster than he expected, about 6 minutes faster so both of us had really good races. Of course, we had to celebrate so we all went to brunch at San Chez. No pictures of this one but my breakfast quesadilla was delicious and full of protein. I ordered spicy black bean quinoa cakes on the side and asked for a little herbed goat cheese to spread on them, my favorite breakfast side there.
Naps and football have filled a healthy chunk of the rest of our day. I’d call it a nicely balanced day.
Do you run faster in the cold?
Do you make goals before a race?