Tag Archives: Tiffiny Carlson

Peace of Mind: The Bedside Emergency Bag

bagMaybe it’s The Walking Dead’s fault or maybe it’s all the apocalyptic shows on the History channel, but end-of-the-world scenarios are on my mind more than ever before (thank you cable, I love too). Now that I’m so paranoid, I decided to employ the bedside emergency bag. If you like playing intellectual games, visit this site.

Why? Well, this is the line of thought that goes through your head when you rely on others to get out of your bed, and live alone: What if we were invaded in the middle of the night and I was stuck in bed? Who would get me up then? Or on the more realistic side of things: What if I need such and such in the middle of the night? I can’t very well get up to reach it. What then?

This and so much more is why I now have my bedside emergency bag. It’s full of everything critical – things I absolutely need to be ok without having to call for help. You just never know what may happen in the middle of the night, or what your PCA may forget to give you before leaving.

Be smart like me. Here’s what you should always keep next to you in bed, stored safely in a bag, just in case.


If have a sensitive stomach to pills, having Tums in your bag is a must. They’re so effective I just can’t get over it. If say you took a pill at midnight and started feeling queasy, chew a Tums and in a matter of seconds, almost all nausea you may be experiencing will be gone. My personal favorite is their tropical flavor. Goes down easy when the last thing you want is to eat something.

Check it out: Tums Extra Tropical


Another must for your bedside bag is your favorite painkiller. I prefer Advil, but if you’re Tylenol, Alleve or Bayer fan, that of course is just as good. You’ll just be glad you had this nearby if you need in the middle of the night. Trust me I’ve been there. It may start to feel like you’re bedside bag is becoming a mini-pharmacy, but if you can’t get out of your bed to get these things, it’s worth it.

Check it out: Advil

Extra Water

Water is another essential item to have. Make sure it’s bottled water so it can be in there for awhile without worry of it going bad. You can’t usually can’t fit a ton of water in your emergency bag, but having one bottle in there is always a smart idea.

Non-perishable Snack

Having some kind of food item in your bag that can’t go bad is also hugely important. This can mean candy bars, a small bag of crackers, even some almonds; anything that can last for several months. Sometimes food is the only way to get rid of nausea or even lightheadedness, which is why it’s always smart to have some in your bag.

Extra Catheter

A hugely important item if you use catheters is to always have an extra one.  If you’re like me, you also have a few in your catheter bag, but if you run out of those it’s nice to know you have an extra one just nearby waiting for you in your emergency bag.

Alcohol Swabs

If you do use catheters, it’s also a good idea to have a few spare alcohol swabs in your bag too. These are great for cleaning a catheter in a pincj if you need to reuse one and ran out in bed (been there). These can disinfect the tip of a catheter fairly well.

Zinc Cough Drops

And lastly, my cold prevention go-to: Lemon zinc cough drops. If I ever feel a cold coming on in bed, I pop in one of these and let the magic happen. I haven’t gotten one cold this whole winter thanks to these babies.

Check them out: Zand Lemon Zinc Lozenges

While this list above covers a lot, there are loads of other things you can include in your bedside emergency bag. A flashlight, a book, even a spare battery for your cell phone; anything you can think of that you know you’ll absolutely need if you need it. It may take a little bit of work to set all of this up, but it’s worth it in the end when you need Advil and cracker in the middle of the night and it’s right there waiting for you.

What’s in your bedside emergency bag?

Wheelchair Kitty Care: Taking Care of My Daphners

Almost ten years ago my mom gifted me with my feline companion Daphne. She’s a swell kitty. She loves deli turkey slices, sunshine and sleep, and she doesn’t jump on anything except my bed, which she knows is her spot. Nearly the perfect cat.

I’ve always knew a cat was the way to go for me. With not being able to walk plus having arm and hand issues, the prospect of owning a dog was overwhelming. I live in a condo, see. I’d have to walk my dog outside to take them to the bathroom, and then pick up after them. Try doing that sitting down with no finger movement. Daily frustration I tell you what.

When I received my kitty from my mom I wasn’t sure how it’d go. I was freshly single and my cat wasn’t coming out from the bathroom. I had no one around to help wrestle her out, so there she sat for days until finally she acclimated to my place and began exploring. That was the first hurdle, but figuring out how to care for her that…that was much harder.

Here are some of the things that help me take care of my awesome kitty, Daphne du Maurier, aka Daphner (yes, she’s named after the famous British author).

Authority Senior Cat Food

When my cat officially became a “senior” in 2008 (anything past seven years old considered senior in the cat world), she began to throw up a lot more. I know, gross. Ug. So I googled her problem, trying to figure out what was the cause, and I discovered old age can be the culprit. My cat simply has a sensitive gut, and it wasn’t about to change.

Everyone online of course had their own remedies, but the most popular answer by far was to try senior cat food for your cat. Senior cat food is already partially broken down, so less digestion is required. After trying this food about a year ago, I noticed a big difference right away. She went to throwing up daily to only once in awhile, and that’s what I call winning.

Check it out: Authority Senior Cat Food

Dried Catnip

Sometimes even cats need to chill out, and one of the best ways to relax your cat is with the old standby – catnip. I love getting catnip in a plastic, re-sealable bag, and I store it on the door of my refrigerator (where I keep all of my condiments) for easy access. I love to sprinkle dried catnip directly on my cat’s head or back, or I’ll pour a tiny little pile of it onto the floor by her food bowls.

Check it out: Fresh Catnip Resealable Pouch

Covered Litter Box

Dealing with the litter situation is never easy. A covered litter box however is awesome. You can get them anywhere and they’re a great way to keep out the smell and unsightly sights, but make sure to clean it daily. I would love one of those magical litter boxes that that cleans itself, but those are a bit pricey and require a plumbing hook-up.

Check it out: Catty Corner Covered Litter Box

Tidy Cats Non-Clumping 24/7 Performance Litter

When it comes to litter itself, I’m a big fan of non-clumping clay litter, with Tidy Cats still my favorite brand after all these years.  My caregivers help with cleaning the litter box, and each weed we add fresh litter.

Check it out: Tidy Cats Non-Clumping 24/7 Performance

When it comes to grooming, I can’t forget my newest tip – dedicating an old hair brush you can hold to grooming your cat. I use a Conair paddle brush with a round jelly handle, and using my old brush has been one of my smarted cat-care moves. With it I can truly brush her and it’s a great brush on short-hair cats.

What cat care items are on your must-have list?

Products mentioned

– Authority Senior Cat food

– Fresh Catnip Resealable Pouch

 Catty Corner Covered Litter Box

Tidy Cats Non-Clumping 24/7 Performance

DVR, Where Have You Been All My Life?

We are all busy people. We have family and friend obligations, we have jobs to go to – full-time, part-time or freelance – and if you don’t work, if you have a disability you’re likely still busy or feel so at least. Having a disability can do that to you.

We have appointments galore. Doctor’s appointments, therapist appointments, wheelchair appointments and don’t get me started on having to stick to a daily PCA schedule, which you mine as well call an appointment too.

Our days go just as fast as yours, and many of us don’t even have kids. My disability is like an insolent child I must constantly tend to anyways. Having an actual kid would certainly do me in. It really would.

My days can be rough. There are good days and bad, this is why I’ve fallen in love with my new friend. She tells me fabulous stories and keeps me entertained and she’s there whenever I need her; like a true best friend should be. Only problem, my new friend doesn’t have a voice or ears to listen with, but no matter, as long as she’s there everything is peachy.

I’m speaking of course of my DVR; my Directv + DVR receiver to be specific that has totally changed my world, well at the very least changed the way I consume media. Everyone seems to be going crazy for Hulu lately, cutting off their cable ties for good, but DVR to me could never be replaced by something like Hulu. TV has blossomed in the last 6 years and I’m all about it. On my TV and yes, even the commercials (some of them).

Each morning when I wake up or at night after work, I’ll check my DVR to see the list of what it’s recently recorded. It’s like a present to unwrap each time you hit the “Guide” button. It’s awesome, and I won’t lie – I’m all about simple pleasures in life. Who isn’t? Cheap entertainment. I can’t remember the last time I went to the movies. That is how much my little living room DVR machine has changed my world.

My shows set to record of course run on the feminine side of things: Fashion Police, Chopped, Project Runway, Downtown Abbey, Reign, Long Island Medium, House Hunters, Millionaire Matchmaker. But they’re also loved by all sexes too: Treehouse Masters, Pawn Stars, Comic Book Men, The Walking Dead, The Haunting of…, Oddities, The Dead Files and even (guilty cringe) Duck Dynasty.

What can I say? TV has become exponentially better. Maybe it’s because people my age are finally making the content decisions at the networks I adore (eh-hem Vikings on the History channel = brilliant). There is just so much good to watch. If you were to get really sick with a long-term illness that required lots of bedrest, right now would be the time. Helloooo DVR in bed.

Of course all of this DVR talk makes me sound dreadfully boring, and maybe my life isn’t as exciting as it once was (getting older will do that to you), but I’m ok with that. Again, another likely sign I’m getting older. What’s my DVR recording again?

I think the beauty of the DVR as a person with a disability is simply how it records everything you love, taking the stress out of live viewing, which can be so hard when you have a disability. Who has time to think about this kind of stuff anymore? No, we need our TVs to remember this for us.

Just know, if you’ve been deathly curious of DVR for years but have never made the switch, now is the time. I rent my DVR receiver for only an additional $10/month and it’s worth every penny; every hay penny even. Screw handguns; you’ll have to pry my DVR from my cold, dead hands.

Are you a DVR fan or could you care less?

Links in the post

Directv + DVR

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC

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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The 5-Minute Makeup Routine of a Quadriplegic

Every woman dreams of a futuristic world where we can just hit a button like Judy Jetson and have instantly fabulous makeup. No more rushed eyeliner jobs that look like a toddler did it, no more squiggly lip liner, just perfect evenly-applied foundation that looks flawless yet completely natural. Oh yes, this is the future I want.

Instantaneous beauty would also be a boon to ladies with arm and hand mobility disabilities; helping us look as good as we want, with no longer having to let our disabilities prevent us from looking fabulous. Unfortunately however, such a Jetson-esque gadget is still a ways away, leaving it up to us to discover makeup and tricks that work for us.

After trying out dozens of makeup tricks, methods, products and more, I’ve developed my perfect “go-to” 5 minute makeup routine which I can do completely independently. If you’re newly injured or just trying to get back into the makeup game, check out my routine below. Hopefully it’ll help!

Step #1: Wash and Moisturize

I always moisturize right before applying concealer/foundation. This is one of my number one beauty secrets, so make sure you try this. And I don’t use soap everytime I wash my face (far too drying for my fair skin), but I always use L’Oreal’s Age Radiance BB Cream each morning.

This is their “Beauty Balm” cream (where “BB” gets its name from) and it’s amazing. It’s a daily moisturizer, sunscreen, illumination and foundation all-in-one; eliminating several steps from my skin routine which is awesome when you can’t move your fingers. And this beauty balm replaces my liquid foundation. Didn’t think it would, but it surprised me.

Check it out: L’Oreal Age Perfect BB Cream

Step #2: Apply Concealer Where Needed

My next step is applying concealer, but only where it’s absolutely needed. I’m in my mid thirties, which means the skin under my eyes is becoming thinner, so I always must put concealer here every morning to even out my skin tone (and it makes me look younger; dark circles are hugely aging).

I dab and gently smear the concealer when applying it with the back of my hand, which works rather well with my hand disability and makes it look really natural.  Any type of concealer with a wand brush is good if you have dexterity issues. Just pat gently where it’s needed, then dab-dab-dab the area until you can’t see the concealer anymore.

Check it out: Mineral Power Natural Perfecting Concealer In Beige

Step #3: Apply Bronzer and Blush

After evening out my skin tone with BB cream and concealer, I use Neutrogena’s Natural Bronzer (in Sunkissed), which is a beautiful palette of brown tones to shade my face and highlight its structure; a critical step. I use a big blush brush with a long wooden handle and just shade around my face of a hairline, my cheekbones, the top of my nose, my chin…anywhere the sun would naturally hit.

I also close my eyes and apply bronzer on my eyelids. After that I use a small amount of blush on my cheekbones and eyelids to finish it off using the same big blush brush.

Check it out: Neutrogena Healthy Skin (Sunkissed)

Check it out: CG Cheekers

Step #4: Apply Eyeshadow

To make my makeup routine even quicker, I use the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Bronzer as my eyeshadow as well, but I use long handles eyeshadow brushes to apply the bronzer as a eyeshadow. I’ll first use the lighter colors as the base all over the lid, and then I’ll use the darker colors just for the lid covering the eye. I use my knuckle to blend the two areas, and it’s done.

Step #5: Apply Mascara

To make my routine fast I also skip eyeliner entirely and just use mascara.  If you apply it right, that’s all you need to look good in a jiffy. I love Maybelline’s Great Lash Mascara too. The wand is very dainty and makes it easy to apply when you’re trying to hold the mascara bottle in a clenched fist with no finger movement. I’ve found this is the best mascara for that. And their “Blackest Black” is a freaking awesome color.

When I apply it, I make sure to apply the lower last as well since I’m not using eyeliner. This is pretty important, so make sure not to skip it. And if you mess up, which I do a lot, just use a Q-Tip dipped in water, wrung out, then gently dabbed in lotion to remove any mascara smudges you may have made.

Check it out: Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

Step #6: Apply Lip gloss

To top off my quick makeup look, I add a bit of lip gloss, but the healthy stuff – Carmex’s Cherry Lip Balm Stick – so it looks and feels good (and it’s nice to kiss). I love this stuff in the winter, but I use it all year. I add a bit of tint by barely lining my lips with a brown or pink lip liner first and then filling in my lips with the Carmex.

Check it out: Carmex Cherry Lip Balm Stick

The whole point of my my makeup routine was to make it as easy and fudge-free as possible – something you can do in a rush, in about 5 minutes, even if your fingers don’t work. I do use my mouth a lot as well, to open caps and to wedge brushes in between my fingers, but I make it work, and hopefully you too will be able to do the same.

Now get out there and look beautiful.

What makeup products do you swear by for your disability?

Products mentioned

L’Oreal Age Perfect BB Cream

Mineral Power Natural Perfecting Concealer In Beige

Neutrogena Healthy Skin (Sunkissed)

CG Cheekers

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

Carmex Cherry Lip Balm Stick

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC

Thoughtful Gifts for Safer Cooking

41okrFQJoDL._SY300_The other day a glorious thing happened. I received one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received from a man I was dating. And it was a Christmas gifts too. Love, love, love.

He had wrapped four separate gives that were all intended for me, and all had a special purpose in which to make my life easier (that sure beat the unwrapped box of chocolate covered peanuts my ex-boyfriend got me last year).

You see I love to cook. And if you look at some of my past blog posts you’ll see this to be true in all its glory. I can’t move my fingers though, just my arms and wrists, so that makes cooking a bit tricky; even a bit dangerous as the burns on my hands will tell.

Because of this a very thoughtful person decided to gift me with a handful of gifts that all explicitly helped me out in this area of my life. Never had I ever received such a thoughtful gift before. Check out what he bought me below.

Ceramic knife

If you have a hard time moving your hands, the last thing you need is a big clumsy knife that isn’t sharp. I never knew they existed before, but there is such a thing as a ceramic knife and they amazing. I would say the weight difference is about 65% lighter. That’s a huge change for anyone, let alone someone who can only move half of the muscles in their arm.

He purchased a Faberware Chef’s Knife that’s ceramic.The one drawback to these knives is that they have a tendency to chip, so be careful when handling them and don’t let them hit anything too hard.

Check it out: Faberware Ceramic Chef Knife

Straight straws

Many people with disabilities are addicted to using straws, and I’m one of these crazy straw lovers. It all started in the hospital and I haven’t looked back since. They’re just so handy, especially when you can’t pick up a cup unless it has a handle (so lame). But any straw just won’t do. I really dislike flexible straws. When they’re in a cup and bent, the liquid always leaks out. One of my biggest pet peeves.

The natural solution is getting straight straws of course, but finding these is not easy. It seems they’re going to the wayside with flexible straws taking over the world. But if you look closely in certain stores, they can still be found. My awesome gifter found straight straws on Amazon. Now I need like 20 more boxes.

Check them out: Perfect Stix Clear Straight Straws

Silicone baking mat

In an attempt to help me cook safely and with less burns, he next got me a Healthy Chef Baking Mat. This brilliant invention is made out of silicone and can withstand temperatures up to 428 degrees. While its original intention is to put it in the oven as a cookie sheet to make food healthier (it has raised mounds to encourage grease to drip away from the food), it can also be cut up and used as a shield from the heat.

What we plan on doing is cutting a small piece to fit the outside of my hand, which is where a majority of my cooking burns occur. We’ll glue it to a Velcro strap back that will go around my hand to complete it. Can’t wait to show you guys how it turns out once it’s done.

Check it out: Healthy Chef Baking Mat

No-break acrylic dishware

About 10 years ago I got smart and started buying acrylic dishware. I can drop it without worrying about it breaking. That’s a huge bonus in my world. Lately however I’ve lost several of my pieces. So my very thoughtful gifter also decided to purchase me an adorable acrylic cereal bowl. And he bought one in a girly print that makes my mornings a bit cooler now, a Pikachu bowl.

Check it out: Pokemon Cereal Bowl

Don’t you think I’m not appreciating this very thoughtful gift too. This kind of thoughtfulness is rare and doesn’t happen every day, even though every girl deserves it.

What is one of the most thoughtful gifts you’ve received?

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My Favorite Product Discoveries of 2013

newyearseveclock-main_fullI can’t believe it’s already the end of 2013. It feels just like yesterday I was ringing in the New Year, and now I’m about to do it again. Strangely, 2013 ended up being a year of big transitions.

A relationship I was in for 3 years ended, my sister got married (and also become pregnant a few months later), I found out I’m moving, I started liking mushrooms (crazy!) and job-wise, I started three new writing jobs, and blogging for the Unlimiters is one of them.  It’s been a crazy year, and it’s awesome sharing all the products I could never live without with the disability community.

So I thought, Why not create a list commemorating the most favorite products I profiled my first year of blogging for the Unlimiters? I’m always talking about the latest product I love on here anyways, now you can get a “Best of” overview; and that’s the best kind.


Given to me as a gift from inventor Dale Lehn, My4Hands is the ultimate tool for anyone with a small kitchen, is lacking counter space or if your lap simply isn’t flat enough. This sturdy hard plastic piece sits on your lap and can be used as a cold/ heat protectant too. What I love doing is using My4Hands for the prep and the setting of hot pans. And the best part, MyHands only costs $20.

Check it out: My4Hands

Camelbak Water Bottle

Coming from someone who has used the same drinking cup for years, the Camelbak water bottle is one of the smartest water bottle designs ever. I had a bum shoulder this year and needed an easier way to drink in bed without overreaching. In comes this sweet water bottle. It has a unique top that makes it impossible for the water to come back up through the straw. All you do is flip out the straw and suck.  You don’t have to lift the water bottle up at all to drink, making it a great option for anyone with limited arm mobility.

Check it out: Camelbak Eddy Water Bottle

Gorilla Tape

Move over duct tape. Made with Gorilla Glue, Gorilla Tape is a must for temporarily fixing mobility equipment. This tape can literally hold anything together, even the body of a car onto the frame. Personally, I use it for all kinds of things – holding down sticky mat to create cushioning on the sharp parts of my shower chair and even putting it under the ramp for my patio so it doesn’t slide on my new wood floors. I use this stuff all the time; no joke.

Check it out: Gorilla Tape

Ugg Boots

I’ve always known about Uggs, gorgeous oversized boots made out of soft leather and wool, but I never tried them until a couple of months ago. Reason being – I thought they would be too hard to put on with paralyzed feet (my toes always like to curl whenever I put on a boot that doesn’t have any buttons on the side; my PCAs can’t reach into fix them).

But finally Uggs has created a style with buttons on the side, making it finally easy to put on. Since buying these boots, my feet have never been more warm or relaxed after a day of being in my wheelchair. They feel so good I can almost feel them on my feet.

Check them out: Ugg Bailey Button Triplet Boots

BB Cream

For a girl who likes to look her best before leaving the house but has limited arm strength, BB cream (standing for “beauty balm”) has rocked my world. This stuff is your daily lotion, sunscreen and foundation in one, and several brands are making their own version of it. It’s really great for your 30’s on up…my age range; giving you coverage but not over done.

This stuff really works and the best part – it has eliminated several steps from my beauty routine, preserving my arm strength for more important things. I’ve tried a few different brands, but my favorite by far is L’Oreal’s BB Cream. It has illumination in it; great to hide fine lines.

Check it out: L’Oreal Magic Skin BB Cream

Reverse Osmosis Water

I’m supposed to drink water all of the time because of my neurogenic bladder, and I usually just drink tap water. I live in Minneapolis and the water here isn’t that bad. However after suffering from unexplained bladder issues over the last year, I decided to change the type of water I drank and started buying reverse osmosis water by the gallon from the grocery store.  Reverse osmosis water is the most filtered water you can buy, as all toxins are removed in the reverse filtering process.

I buy five gallons of reverse osmosis water for $2.00 by bringing in my old plastic containers, which I now do each week with my PCA. And the water? Yes it’s definitely improved my bladder function.

Learn more: Reverse osmosis water

F.Lux Monitor Light Adjuster

I work on the computer all day long and the older I get, the less my eyes like this routine. As a solution, one of my friends recommended free software called f.lux to help my eyes feel better. This awesome software detects the light in the room and adjusts the light of your monitor accordingly, making sure it’s always the right level and not too bright on your eyes. I think my favorite part is when the software adjusts the lighting at night to a warm orangey glow. So cool.

Check it out: f.lux software

Re-Discovered Product: Touch Lamps

I also rediscovered something I forgot that really makes my life easier – touch lamps.  I used to have one in the nineties and loved it. I ended up purchasing another one for $10 from Wal-Mart in a pinch this year when my bedside table lamp broke, and I was delighted all over again by how awesome it is to be able to touch a lamp anywhere and make it turn on. Just be careful when changing the light bulbs . The wrong bulb can break the “touch” ability of the lamp.

Check it out: Mainstays Touch Control Mini Dome Lamp

Yup, 2013 was a great year for product discoveries. Can’t wait for 2014.

What products did you discover in 2013 that blew you away?

Photo courtesy of The Romantic Vineyard

Preventing SADD Disorder with a Disability

This time this year is often difficult for me. I live in Minnesota where we have 5 to 6 months of winter each year. These are long, very long winters and we have many days we never see the sun. After becoming disabled, this whole lack of sun thing became very un-cool.

One reason the lack of sun bugs me now – I’m more aware of the weather. I’m more aware of everything really. If it’s sunny, I feel happier. If it’s cloudy, I feel a wreck. And I also get cold way too easily, which definitely comes into play when the sun isn’t around.  So after suffering with my ever growing hatred of the winter, I decided to buy my first SADD lamp that few years ago.

I bought one of the most inexpensive lamps I could find.  I ended up purchasing the Verilux Natural Light, also known as the HappyLight, which emits light exactly similar to the sun, tricking the brain into thinking it’s actually soaking in real rays.

I bought it online and after receiving it, I decided to set it up on my computer desk.  I work from home and sit in the same spot most of the day, so setting up my lamp here was a no-brainer. But when I turned on the lamp my first time, I will say I was slightly disappointed.

It wasn’t warm it all, and as a quadriplegic who loves warmth, this absence definitely bugged me and made by new lamp seem very un-sunlike. How could a lamp claiming to mimic the sun not be warm? But I went ahead with the sun lamp regimen anyways to treat SADD, which is the following: Sit in front of your SADD lamp once a day, but for only 30 minute intervals, preferrably in the morning.

Slowly but surely, the lamp seemed to work. Throughout my first winter of having it, I was in love. No longer was the day tiresome. I was zinging at 2pm like I ought to, not nodding off wishing I was in bed. But I won’t lie, it doesn’t completely erase all symptoms of SADD.  I still craved a vacation to Mexico, per the usual, and use my neck warmer all winter.

Do you use a SADD lamp?

Products mentioned:

Natural Spectrum Light Therapy Lamp

Making the Long Tedious Mornings a Little Bit Better

coffeeWhen you’re paralyzed, getting up in the morning isn’tt the fastest thing in the world. In fact, it can be a downright nightmare, sometimes taking 2-3 hours to get everything done, and I’ve been doing my routine for a really long time.

Some would say I’m even an expert at it. But I will admit, it’s still tedious. I’ve figured out however how to make my routine much more pleasant. Secret tip – a little pampering can go a long way. Here are a handful of things that really truly make my mornings better.

Clay mask: There are a lot of reasons you should be using a clay mask a few times a week in the morning when getting up. Clay and mud masks pull impurities from the skin, which is a big deal if you’re paralyzed. We don’t sweat as much, which means bad things stay in our skin and never leave.

I like to put on a clay mask right before taking a shower. I just slather it on, let it dry for a couple of minutes, then rinse it off in the shower. Since my face is so sensitive sensation-wise, pampering my skin where I can still feel gives a huge boost to my overall happiness, especially during my morning routine. Any clay or mud mask is good. I use this one: Boots Botanics Complexion Refining Clay Mask

Banana coffee: Another thing to really make your mornings something you look forward to rather than the opposite is to make yourself a delicious beverage, and in my case that would be banana-flavored coffee. I just discovered this coffee a couple of months ago and it’s transformed my world.

I love anything banana-flavored and warm drinks soothe me so much now that I’m paralyzed, and I’m a big believer that anything delicious can almost make all negativity disappear. I love this stuff and as it turns out, it’s made from California. Very cool. Check it out: Life is Good Banana Bread Bliss Coffee

Multi-setting shower head: One of the best ways to pamper yourself after the dreaded bowl routine is to have an amazing hot shower, and even better than a hot shower is having a shower head with awesome settings. I just got a new one a couple months ago. Resting your head forward and letting the water massage your neck and shoulders is the best.

In fact, I’ll often have my caregiver turn on a couple of different settings during the entirety of my shower. Nothing can beat the feeling of pulsating water, especially on sore joints, and then changing it to the soak setting. Oh,so good; you may even forget about your disability for a moment or two. My brand new hand-held shower head: Delta 9-Spray ActivTouch Adjustable Shower Head

Personal wet/dry shaver: If you’re a gal or guy who cares about personal grooming, a personal wet/dry shaver is a must.  But if you have a disability and have troubles moving your legs and arms, using any old personal saver won’t do. My long-handled personal shaver from Remington has the longest body I’ve ever seen on a personal shaver, so it’s easy to hold.

It has a trimmer, a close-shaver and an exfoliator head. A great razor for sure, even if the battery isn’t rechargeable. While in my shower chair, I can reach everything I need to in order to shave independently. Check it out: Remington Smooth & Silky Body Grooming Kit

It can be easy forgetting all the happy, pampering things in life when medical tasks get in the picture, but don’t ever let go of the good things in life. A little bit of pampering can have a huge effect on your disposition. We are all still deserving of some fabulous guilt-free personal TLC.

How do you pamper yourself in the morning?

Christmas Cookie Season – Making Baking Work

Growing up I loved making Christmas cookies with my mom and sisters. We would designate a day before Christmas and make cookies all day long. That day was awesome; messy, but oh was it fulfilling…

After my injury things changed. My fingers were paralyzed, baking cookies was no longer easy-breezy fun. Heck, I couldn’t even hold a sugar shaker anymore without dropping it.  It wholly depressed me how difficult my passion had become.

And the worst thing was feeling like baking was the last thing I wanted to do; not at all like “me.” I resented how my injury changed so much about my life and personality. I was determined not to let this new feeling I had towards baking last.

So I made this resolution 8 years ago to figure out how to bake again, and I haven’t looked back. Ever since OT, I always knew baking was possible; they showed me it was. I just knew it was going to take a lot of work, patience and a few adapted instruments along the way.

I started by sticking with just a few simple Christmas cookie recipes.  Knowing your limitations is #1 rule when baking with a disability. This means I nixed a few of the more complicated recipes off my list – Rosettes, Peanut Butter Balls and a few others – and added a few more I knew I could do easily. Anything that required a VERY specific amount of dexterity was removed.

I learned the lesson of knowing your limitations the hard way too, not even thinking of my limitations in the beginning. My first go at it, I discovered midway through baking a recipe I couldn’t finish it (I sure felt silly). The thing to remember is this – always think critically about your skills when creating a list of the Christmas cookies you want to bake this year.

Keep it simple – pre-cut sugar cookies, bars, candy, drop cookies, no-bake cookies – anything that requires minimal dexterity is best. I also began using my toaster oven to bake since it was at countertop level, which made it way easier to put in/remove pans and I still use my toaster oven till this day.

I also created a nifty way to remove pans from the oven when they’re still hot by using an infinity scarf. I just push then scarf around the pan, then lift it up in the center of the pan to take it out of the oven. After taking the hot pan out, I love using My4Hands too, a thick piece of plastic that goes on my lap and protects my skin from hot pans. It works awesomely.

Don’t forget – homemade Christmas cookies make great gifts too. All your hard work is more appreciated this way too, when loved ones can see all the extra TLC you put into their gifts.

What’s your favorite Christmas cookie?

Products mentioned

Oster Stainless Steel Toaster Oven

Old Navy Fleece Infinity Scarf


Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

The Mall of America – My Happy Place


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

Reclaiming Christmas My Own Way

I am one of those girls who loves the holidays, but after my accident things got a little weird. From not being able to use my palms to roll peanut butter balls anymore to not wrapping presents with my mom on Christmas Eve like we’ve always done, I quickly found out that things were not going to be the same.

I’ve however refused to let this ruin my holiday experience. I did at first. I got down every Christmas for like over ten years straight, thinking about how much better the holidays were – going sledding hill during Christmas week off, ice skating on the lake, making homemade garland out of popcorn, I missed it all. And more than anything I feverishly wished for my innocence back.

I though had a change of heart on the holidays a few years ago. My grandpa died and I had one of those moments where you realize life is too short to only enjoy something unless you do it the way you want to. We rarely ever get what we want in life. I realized I wasn’t going to get better; I had to find a new way to enjoy the holidays, and that’s exactly what I did.

I started my goal of falling in love with Christmas again by trying to find things I could still do. While I couldn’t make many kinds of Christmas cookies anymore because the recipes were just too complicated, I did find something I was good at – decorating cookies; sugar cookies to be specific.

I decided to embrace this and I now have dozens of cool and unique cookie cutters that I love to collect. Everywhere I go I’m always on the hunt, and it’s fun. This is something I’ve become good at post-injury, and damn it feels good.

I’ve also discovered a new love for Christmas decorations. I was only 14 when I was injured, so decorations weren’t really on my radar, but boy are they on my radar now. I love snow globes, Santa Clauses, vintage Christmas decorations and the classic Christmas decoration – candles. A Christmas candle, whether it’s scented like pine tree forest or a gingerbread house – amazing.

And I’ve discovered a way to light candles; not easy to do with paralyzed hands. I used to use my Zippo lighter to light candles, but now I use a torch lighter; made for cigars but they’re SO easy to use. All you need is an incense stick and you’re set. Get a flame going on the end of the stick after activating the lighter by hitting the button, and stick the flame near the wick of the candle. See, candles lit, your place is all Christmas-ey; easy as pumpkin pie.

It’s awesome; I never thought this day would come – it’s almost Thanksgiving and I’m actually excited for the holidays. No longer do I strictly reminisce about what once was, and I must say it feels so good to reclaim Christmas. From James Bond movie marathons to tree ornament shopping, it’s crazy. I made it work.

Do the holidays make you sad?  How did you get over it?

Products mentioned

Unique cookie cutters

– Personal favorite: Angel wings cookie cutter

Christmas candles

Adjustable flame butane torch lighter

Photo courtesy of Diggita

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