Category Archives: Shopping

Guilty Pleasures to Keep My Happy Up

When you have a disability, it’s easy to have more bad days than good. Maybe I’m speaking for myself, but that seems to be the case for a number of us at least. More things can go bad when you’re dependent on more things, from wheelchairs and van ramps breaking to PCAs not showing up.

I’ve found when I have those bad days, those really really bad days when I wish my disability to go away forever (hey we’ve all had those days), I’ve found nothing helps more than doing something off my “guilty pleasures” list. Yes that’s right, I have a list dedicated to my guilty pleasures and it’s helped me through a lot of bad moments.

When you’re alone and have no one to talk to, or just think you don’t, doing a simple thing that makes you immensely happy – a guilty pleasure – can be more effective than taking a pill; believe me. There’s something so soothing about a guilty pleasure…even more than you might realize.

Maybe you already know this and employ it often, but if you don’t and aren’t sure what your guilty pleasures are, perhaps my list will help. Check out a few of my favorite items from my guilty pleasures list that helps keep my happy up.

Chocolate Glazed Donuts

They may be a trend right now, but I’ve always loved donuts, ever since my church would put out simple glazed doughnuts after service as a kid. And after my injury, donuts strangely began had an especially healing effect on me. Maybe it was because they reminded me of happier days, and my favorite donut by far – chocolate glazed.

These two things – chocolate AND glaze – are the best worlds of yumminess in a single donut, and surprisingly Market Pantry (Target’s off-brand) is one of the best out there. You can get 6 of these delicious bad-day melters for only a $1.50, which makes them one of the cheapest most tasty guilty pleasures ever. These unfortunately however are only available in-store, but they’re worth it.

Check them out: Find the Target nearest you

Silk Scarves

When you have limited sensation in your lower extremities, pampering your upper extremities is hugely important to keep your sanity, and nothing feels better than a little bit of silk on the skin. When you have quadriplegia, this means wrapping your neck and shoulders in silk; aka just put on a silk scarf goshdarnit.

I have had several silk scarves in my day, for the best one I’ve had by far is one I recently bought from MommaGoddess on Etsy, dyed in beautiful rainbow colors. It is so soft and feels so wonderful it helps me forget the crazy world outside everytime I wear it. Plus, the bright colors make me feel like I’m Rainbow Brite. Winning.

Check it out: Hand-Dyed Over the Rainbow Silk Scarf

Caramel Rolls

Another pastry that calls my name on a bad day are the quintessential caramel rolls. Warm and soft sweet rolls drizzled with caramel and stuffed inside and out with pecans; how can anything be more delicious? Having one in front of me ready to be devoured is a visual pleasure trumps any flat tire or memory of a rude stare.

And the greatest thing about caramel rolls, it’s really easy to eat just one because many places only sell them singularly, and one of my favorite places to get one is Cinnabon; the high school haunt of my youth that I’m darn glad is still around today.  They’re giant, warm pastries of amazingness and they’re worth every dollar, which will set you back about four of them these days. #worthit

Check them out: Caramel Pecanbons

Dove Dry Shampoo

If you’re a girl, chances are feeling pretty is a guilty pleasure too. Getting your nails done, your hair foiled or maybe just buying something pretty can help you feel worlds better. In my world, nothing makes me feel prettier than sexy hair, and Dove’s Dry Shampoo – a product that was released a few years ago  – makes my hair look amazing with just a quick squirt.

It’s infused with powder that cleans your hair in an instant and it smells just like Dove soap, one of my favorite smells in the world. No longer do I need a PCA to look fabulous, and that feels better than anything.

Check it out: Dove Refresh+Care Dry Shampoo

Strawberry Milk Straws

I’m not sure why, but I really like artificial strawberry flavoring; another vestige of my youth no doubt. Making my own strawberry milk on the fly however is not easy when you have paralyzed fingers. I could buy it already mixed of course, but the strawberry milk straws from Magic Milk, that flavor your milk as you drink it, is so much more fun.

These inadvertently are the perfect thing for people with upper-body disabilities. Tiny sliver crystals jam-packed into the straw that once moistened by the milk, they release their awesome flavor. No spoons, mixing or anything else required. And they come in other tasty flavors too – chocolate, cookies ‘n cream, vanilla and strawberry banana.

Check them out: Magic Milk Straws

The moral of my story: Utilize your guilty pleasures for a higher purpose when you have a disability. Get smart, recognize what makes you happy and use those things as your bad-day arsenal when needed. Trust me, it really works.

What guilty pleasures help you after a bad day?

Products mentioned

Hand-Dyed Over the Rainbow Silk Scarf

Caramel Pecanbons

Dove Refresh+Care Dry Shampoo

Magic Milk Straws

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Best New Year’s Resolution Ever: Buy More Clothes

tribal-leggingsWith 2014 commencing I decided to try a different kind of New Year’s resolution this year – buy more clothes. Yeah I know what you’re probably thinking, “Aren’t you that fashionista in a wheelchair?” I am, well I was rather until I let a little thing called a man into my life.

My ex was a strange egg. He didn’t like me putting effort into looking good. Whenever I tried he’d actually get upset with me. So, after a year into our relationship, I decided to see things from his perspective, “Maybe he’s right?” I thought, and thus began the great unfleecing of my fashion-obsessed persona.

You may be thinking, “Girrrl…you’re crazy for even considering this,” but you know how we women get around guys we love. We think they’re brilliant and have deep insight. We take their advice. The last thing I ever wanted was to become too into materialistic things. His heeding made me paranoid. Maybe I have become too vain?

Unfleecing my fashion-obsessed self began with putting a stop on buying any new clothes. I also went through my closet and removed a ton of stuff; clothes I hadn’t worn in years. I even (regrettably) threw out redundant items and items I was on the fence on. Before I knew it, I had a simplified “not trying too hard” wardrobe that seemed to be perfect, only it wasn’t.

I was with this anti-fashion man for 3 years. New trends arrived, and I had no idea how to wear them, but when I was with him I didn’t care. I stuck to my leggings, cotton skirts, boots, t-shirts and cardigans. It sounds cute, but this was all I wore. All the heels in my closet had collected dust, all my cute “sexy tops
were long gone, the notion of dressing sexy was a forgotten memory.

But suddenly 5 months ago I found myself single, and slowly after my tears dried, the anti-fashion haze also began to lift and holy cow was that not a happy moment – the moment I realized I had been brainwashed. It’s ok however. I’m not the first woman to fall prey to falling in love with the wrong man.

I’ve decided to look back at this bizarre dating experience as a huge life lesson, and even better, I can now use it as an excuse to completely replenish my wardrobe in 2014. But but but, I have not become rich. I have not been given a $5,000 gift card from What Not to Wear. Buying a ton of new clothes isn’t in my budget, buying cheap clothes online is.

My replenish-my-wardrobe savior has come in the form of SammyDress.com, a website my younger, shopping-obsessed PCA told me about, and holy cow you guys I’m in love. The clothes on here are cuter and cheaper than anything you’d get at Forever 21; it’s a miracle site for anyone on a strict shopping budget.

I got my first order last week and purchased 6 items for $66 dollars – funky tribal leggings, a polka dot silk blouse, a military silk blouse with shoulder pads, a hoodie dress, 3 pairs of earrings and one of those adorbs collar necklace that’s all the rage right now. It’s times like these I’m so glad I got the Mitroffanoff surgery to my belly button, allowing me to ditch indwelling catheters and drainage bags and opening me up to the world of leggings, jeggings, skirts, boots and dresses.

Replenishing my wardrobe however will definitely take some time. Getting all of the key items has never been my forte. I’m always easily distracted like a magpie, but at least I’ve made a great first step at cobbling back together some kind of respectable wardrobe.

Who knows where I’ll be a year from now? I know this for sure – I’ll be in a much better place fashion-wise, and definitely not the opposite.

What kind of fun New Year’s resolutions have you made?

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The Mall of America – My Happy Place

twinkly-lights-at-the-mall-of-america

I may not be the luckiest gal in life (points to damaged spinal cord), but I haven’t struck out completely. I live 20 minutes from the biggest mall in the United States – the Mall of America. Oh yes, all of you shopaholics out there be jealous; very, very jealous. This place really is that good.

If you haven’t been here before it’s pretty spectacular. I’ve been going since the mall first opened when I was 12 years old. My dad brought me to the top floor my first time visiting so I could see the indoor amusement park, and it’s been my happy place since; especially after my injury. A lot of things changed after I became paralyzed, but the Mall of America wasn’t one of them.

It’s funny how a giant concrete building full of stores can make me happier than Prozac (I guess that means I would not be happy in North Korea?). The place has so much meaning for me. When I was 17, I would take the bus to the Mall of America with my rehab-mates; newly injured people also looking for a place to forget their problems.

We’d take the number 19, get off and go to the 4th floor to see a movie, then hit up Hooter’s for some wings (yes I was hanging with the guys lol). I even worked at Victoria’s Secret on the first floor while in college.  It was quite the interesting experience selling lingerie as a wheelchair-user, especially in the front room where they put me. Selling bra and panty sets to traveling businessmen for their wives back at home was always movie script-worthy.

And I was there again just last Monday for my up-teenth time; this time to cruise the newest stores before the holiday rush, or shall I say “holiday insanity.” People fly here from all over the world – Europe, Japan, the US – to do their Christmas shopping. It’s a beautiful holiday spectacle, and I know where all the elevators are.

But here’s the deal, I really can’t handle the crowds anymore. I now only go to the mall on Monday mornings, and let me say nothing gets you in the “Christmasey” mood more than going to the Mall of America right now. They have their twinkly lights up, garland up; it’s breathtaking. The whole place feels like a fairy wonderland, and the best part are all the new stores they’ve opened just in time for the holidays.

Tilly’s (a massive skater clothing store from California), A’gaci (a women’s clothing store from the South that has amazing deals on sexy stretchy pants that look great when you can’t walk), Moods of Norway, a free-standing Pink store, Free People, and these are the new ones as of this month. Did I also mention they have the biggest Forever 21 store in the planet, housed in the old Bloomingdale’s? The store is so big it has its own coffee shop. I got lost there once.

If you like shopping, you need to add the Mall of America to your bucket list. As someone who’s been going since it opened, it’s better than ever right now, with more high-end, hard-to-find stores. And the best part there’s no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota, which means all of your clothing purchases are exactly as it says on the price tag.

After returning home from the mall, I unpacked my bags and felt like I had won. There’s nothing like scoring on clothes at your favorite place in the world. $3 and $5 leggings, a $7 “lip” print scarf, sexy off-white stretch pant leggings for $22, a few v-neck long-sleeved tops from Old Navy; it was a good shopping day. I felt pretty and SO excited to get dolled up. I forgot how much escaping to this place can boost my mood.

I will admit though the mall is far from perfect, crowds, materialism at it’s best, but it still holds so many memories that will always warm my soul. Have I spent too much money here? Probably, but I’ll never ever regret it.

Where is your happy place?

Products mentioned

– Stretch pant legging from A’gaci

– Lip print scarf from Wet Seal

– Long-sleeved v-neck tops from Old Navy

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Amazing Disability Garage Sale and Craigslist Finds

Like any true Midwest girl, I go crazy for a good garage sale. Tables lined up with treasures just waiting to be discovered, musky garages deep with God knows what, nothing makes me happier than dedicating a morning or a afternoon to garage saleing. Well almost nothing; scoring a deal on Craigslist comes in a close second.

And these cheap shopping venues become a million times better when you find something you really need – an item related to your disability. Yes, finding a deal on a product manufacturers would otherwise love to stick it to you on feels good. We all know upcharges abound on medical products.
From wheelchairs to automatic beds, you can go house-poor just getting what you need. Here are four items I’ve either bought or sold on Craigslist or at garage sales that have completely improved my life as a person with a disability.
Rolling overbed table: You know these tables well if you’ve spent any time in a hospital, rolling bedside/overbed tables are lifesavers when you’re in the hospital, but they’re also pretty great when you’re at home and have a mobility disability.  Nothing beats having everything you need on a rolling table right by your bed. 
I would be lost without mine, and I wouldn’t even have it in the first place if it wasn’t for a garage sale I went to nearly 18 years ago (a person with a significant disability died down the street from my family and their family had a garage sale). When we went, this is where we found the rolling overbed table. 
We got it for $5 and I’ve been using it every night since (I don’t think I’ve spend $5 on anything better in my whole life). 
Trapeze bar: Not as cool as the circus trapeze, a bed trapeze is one of those must-have items if you need it – it helps people sit up in bed when they can’t move their torso muscles. This is a great thing for people like myself who can still move their arms, but not their torso muscles.
A trapeze is basically the cheapest alternative you can find to purchasing an automatic bed. While it’s not as cool and definitely not as easy to use, it gets the job done. And we found this at the same neighbor’s garage sale mentioned above too. We got it for $10, and since they’re made of steel, they last forever. 
I don’t you use mine anymore since I upgraded to an automatic bed, but we still have it just in case. 
Automatic bed: Back in college I made one of my biggest used disability equipment purchase – a full-sized automatic bed. I had been wanting one for awhile, but could never afford it. I was still using a twin hospital bed my sophomore year at Augsburg College. So I finally I got smart and looked online, Craigslist of course, and found a used bed that was just in my price range and exactly what I was looking for – a full-sized automatic bed for $399. Something bigger than a twin, but not too big for my britches.
That bed served me well for almost 7 years and it was extremely comfortable. Sure, it probably came from someone who had died (let’s just hope not in it lol), but it was a huge life enhancer. Sigh…I still miss that bed. So comfy.
Hoyer lift: Now we’re talking an extremely important piece of equipment for millions of people with disabilities – the Hoyer lift. This is literally the bridge for people when getting from their bed to their wheelchairs (and vice versa). I had a Hoyer lift I no longer needed and felt I should send it back into the world and sell it on Craigslist.
So that’s exactly what I did, selling it to a middle aged couple who were taking care of an elderly parent. I was more than willing to give them a deal and pass along the good juju vibes.
So the next time you’re about to stress out because you need to buy medical equipment you just can’t afford, pause the freak out session and check out both Craigslist and garage sales to see what you can find instead. And when all else fails, remember to visit DisabledDealer.com; a not too shabby site that can sometimes lead to some pretty interesting used disability equipment finds too.
What awesome deals have you scored on disability equipment?
Products Mentioned
– Hoyer Manual Hydraulic Lift

Photo courtesy of Vivmilano

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