Have You Laughed Lately?

Maintaining a sense of humor when you have a chronic illness is vital.

Roses Are Red Violets are Blue,

You have a Chronic Disease, the joke is one you…

Well, except it is not a joke. It is no laughing matter. We face challenges on a daily basis that would cripple most; we are forced to make decisions and then live with those decisions that are not always pleasant. Yet in spite of this, we keep going and are a pretty amazing group. There are days when laughing or trying to find something to laugh about is impossible. Which is why, that is the most important moment to find something to laugh about. “A day without laughter is a day wasted,” according to Charlie Chaplain. Let us explore what that means in the context of chronic illness.

Maintaining a sense of humor when you have a chronic illness is vital. We all know that after a while that sense of humor gets cynical, and sometimes a little sick in the head. As a demographic, we are more likely to suffer from depression. While this will not eliminate depression, it will lighten those moments or give us a brief reprieve when at that moment all seems dark.

You know that friend that always has the “cure” for your disease. Drink the boiled warts of wild boar, mixed with two teaspoons of lemon juice, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, mix in the ash of the death star, and when all done add to a triple green smoothie of kale, spinach, and broccoli and you will be magically healed. Oh, you thought that orange creamsicle smoothie was good? No, change that to a triple green of kale, spinach, and broccoli, add the powder of one dried beet, and drink when the rooster crows at dawn. It is pure magic; the immune system will heal itself. Wait….. no don’t wait.

Go on, admit it, we all have that one friend that will give us that magic cure to help us. They may have the best intentions, but the eye roll just came out didn’t it? You can admit it.

Do you have that go to tv show or movie? What about that friend that makes you laugh? We know that humor makes us feel better physically and emotionally. So the next time you are feeling down, or depressed, play with your puppy, cat, rabbit, or pet; find that YouTube video, call a friend, put on a show, or just make yourself laugh. Even the physical act of smiling releases those happy little endorphins. Never underestimate the glorious feeling of joy as that laughter rips through your belly as you lose control…. Just don’t pee your pants because you were laughing so hard. Oooops, some of us can’t help that.

“ I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know of millions who are dying because they are not laughing.” Dr. Kataria

Tips to Help You Get Moving in Morning. 

Those first movements of the morning. You know what I’m talking about. When you wake up and try to move for the first time of the day……. Painful? Stiff? Frustrating? Are these words you would use to describe the morning in your world? They are for me. There are mornings when I wake up and am almost in tears bc I literally can’t straightened or bend (depending on the joint) and extremity! What can we do to help this? What can we do to make our mornings a little less stressful and painful? 
 Tips for getting moving 

1. Take a hot bath or shower. 

2. Avoid nicotine, alcohol or caffeine before bed. These stimulate your brain and can make it hard to get a good restful nights sleep. 

3. Try a morning self massage of the areas that are the most sore. 

4. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach as it causes unnecessary stress on your low back. 

5. Try to avoid sleeping in cold damp areas as both these conditions can cause increased stiffness in the mornings. 

6. Do light and easy stretches while laying in bed!

7. Drink lots of water! It’s just good for you, period. But it will also help you be less stiff. 

8. Make sure to dress for the season as the extremes can make it harder on your body. 

9. Try to get regular exercise. Even 10min a day will help! 

10. Plan ahead! This one can be very helpful. This can be something as simple as making sure you have plenty of time to get up and around in the morning. 

11. Take your pain medication before getting out of bed. This one will take some planning, especially if you have to be somewhere. Because you will need to give the meds 30min to an hour minimum to kick in. 

12. Use your clothes dryer to your advantage. Before you need to get dressed put your clothing in the dryer on high for just a few short minutes. This will help soothe those achy joints! 

In the list of things that will improve your morning-time stiffness there are a couple catch 22s. The shower, yes it will loosen everything up and make you feel better. But it may also deplete you mr energy tank for the rest of the day. Also, regular exercise. We all know it will help. But it’s another that sometimes you just think “I hurt so bad, the last thing I want to do is exercise.” Or at least I know I do. However, exercise doesn’t have to be aerobics or heavy weight lighting. It could be riding a stationary bike or walking for 10 min. I know that my Rheumatolgist suggest some kind of exercise for at least 10 min a day. Doesn’t matter what it is, just get that badly moving!!  
Personally, my biggest suggestion is to make sure you have plenty of time in the morning. That way if you are more sore than the average day or if you need to jump in the shower to soothe those joints you have time. There is nothing worse than waking up late and having to push through the stiffness simply because you don’t have time to adequately deal with it. 

If you feel like your stiffness in the morning is getting worse or if you notice it primarily in one joint (like a knee), please make sure to contact your doctor and let them know. 

I included this little diagram of a few exercises you can do first thing in the morning to get moving.   


Hope some of these tips help!

-Amber 
Resources:
http://www.everydayhealth.com/fibromyalgia-pictures/7-ways-to-cope-with-fibromyalgia-morning-pain.aspx
http://www.fmcpaware.org/fundraising/176-movement-therapies/907-10-tips-to-overcome-morning-stiffness.html
http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/rheumatoid-arthritis-morning-stiffness

Future Product Reviews 

Below are pictures of products that I have received this week to review. So over the next couple weeks you can expect reviews on:

Essential Oils from Cure OilsOrganic Skin Care from The Natural Sisterhood (Etsy)

Port Pillow and back support pillow from Louise’s Sewing Basket (Etsy)

Candles and wax melts from Farmhouse Candles KY. (Etsy)Thanks to all the companies who sent me products to trial!!

Meal Prep and Recipes 

We all know that the routine things that need to be done around the house are often harder when living with chronic illnesses. One of those tasks is cooking. The thought of having to cook a meal at the end of a day can be exhausting in itself. But eating fast food or frozen dinners daily aren’t healthy and can actually be expensive. So how can we make the daily tasks like cooking a little easier? Simple…. meal prep and cook more than one meal at a time. 
The thought of meal preparing can be overwhelming. But there are a million websites out there these days that provide you with recipes that you can prepare ahead of time and then freeze. It’s so handy to be able to run to the freezer and pull out a meal that just needs to be heated up or cooked! Yes, this will take some time in advance. But will save you some time and energy on a daily basis. And it’s something that you get your kids or spouse involved in as well! 

There are a ton of different options as far as meal prep. There are meals you can put in the crockpot, meals that you can make in the oven. Simple things as sandwiches that can be prepared and frozen. Another way to meal prep if you don’t want to mass produce meals is to cook something early week and separate them into portion sized containers that are easy to grab and go. 

Other things you can do to help make sure you are eating the proper portion size and be ready for meals.  Is to prepackaged snacks, like chips or crackers. If you divide the chips into individual serving sizes and put them in baggies then you have them for when you want them. And you aren’t as tempted to eat the whole bag of chips. You can also do this with veggies and fruits. Anything I can do to make the morning easier as I run out the door. Or easier after work I will do. 
Below I will include three of my favorite meal prep recipes. One of a slider/sandwich, one of a meal you can make and divide into Tupperware and a prepare and freeze crockpot meal. 

Ham and Swiss on Hawaiian Rolls 

Prep: 10 Minutes

Cook: 20 Minutes

Serves: 12 

RECIPE DETAILS
Ingredients

24 Slices of deli honey ham

6 Slices of swiss cheese, cut into fourths
1/3 cup Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Poppy seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Butter melted
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 packages (12 count) KING’S HAWAIIAN Original Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls
Preparation
Step 1

Cut rolls in half and spread mayo onto 1 side of the rolls. Place a slice or two of ham and slice of swiss cheese in roll. Replace the top of the rolls and bunch them closely together into a baking dish. 

Step 2

In a medium bowl, whisk together poppy seeds, dijon mustard, melted butter, onion powder and worcestershire sauce. 

Step 3

Pour sauce over the rolls, just covering the tops. Cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes. 

Step 4

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for additional 2 minutes until tops are slightly browned and crisp. Serve warm.
TACO MEAL PREP BOWLS

YIELD: 5 SERVINGS PREP TIME: 20 MINUTESCOOK TIME: 40 MINUTES TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR

This saves you money, time, calories – you honestly can’t beat that!

INGREDIENTS:

* 1 cup brown rice

* 2 tablespoons olive oil

* 2 pounds ground beef*

* 2 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning

* 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

* 1 (15.25-ounces) can whole kernel corn, drained

* 3 Roma tomatoes, diced

DIRECTIONS:

* In a large saucepan of 2 cups water, cook rice according to package instructions; set aside.

* Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until beef has browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; stir in taco seasoning. Drain excess fat.

* Divide rice into meal prep containers. Top with ground beef mixture, black beans, corn and tomatoes.
Slow Cooker Shredded BBQ Chicken
Ingredients

* 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

* 1 cup ketchup (I like Simply Heinz)

* 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

* 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon brown sugar

* 1 tablespoon chili powder

* 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce

* 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

Directions

* Create homemade BBQ sauce by combining ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, chili powder, hot sauce, and curry powder.

* Add chicken breasts to your slow cooker and top with BBQ sauce.

* Cover, and cook on “low” for 8 hours.

* Shred chicken and return to slow cooker to mix with remaining BBQ sauce.

* Serve!

BONUS RECIPE – Mango Coleslaw

(My family loves topping our Shredded BBQ Chicken sandwiches with this simple, homemade slaw.)

Ingredients

* 1, 16oz bag of shredded green cabbage and carrots (coleslaw mix)

* 1 mango, peeled and shredded (about one cup)

* 1 cup mayonaisse

* 1 tablespoon honey

* 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

* Combine all ingredients.  (Can prepare day ahead and store in refrigerator.)
Hope you enjoy

-Amber 

Medical Marijuana….The Real Story! 

The big IT THING these days for treatment of just about anything is Medical Marijuana… How do you get it? Does it really work? How does it help with chronic illnesses? How do you take it, what forms does it come in? Lets take a look at a few diseases and how they are effected by Medical Marijuana! 

Although cannabis is still illegal in the United States under the federal government, many individual states have legalized cannabis for VALID medical reasons. Each state has its own list of qualifying condition, and some states allow doctors to approve a medical condition that is not ok the legalized list. There are too many states and conditions for me to write them all out for you. So if you are interested in the approved conditions in each state check out the link below. https://www.leafly.com/news/health/qualifying-conditions-for-medical-marijuana-by-state

Lupus is often manifested with joint pain and fatigue. Although it can effect many parts of the body and in many different ways. Medical Marijuana is often used to treat pain and inflammation mostly in Lupus patients. Patients are quoted saying they prefer using Cannabis rather than pain pills or muscle relaxers because there are fewer side effects for most when using Cannabis. It is said that the most effective ways to treat lupus with cannabis is to do so with high levels of CBD capsules taken orally daily. Although the capsules can be the most difficult to find. Juicing the leaves also seems to be an effective treatment according to research. And vaporizing CBD can be a good way to help lupus sufferers sleep. One can also eat the edible CBDs to help treat lupus. Although like anything finding the proper dosage can be frustrating, as it can be a series of trial and error. 

Fibromyalgia is said to effect nearly 5 million Americans. It is a poorly understood condition that can cause deep tissue pain, fatigue, depression headaches and even insomnia. Research from 2014 said that most find medical marijuana to be far more effective than any of the prescriptions on the market designed to treat fibromyalgia. From this study it was found that 62% of the people who tried medical marijuana as treatment found it to be very effective. While only 5% said it did not provide them with any relief. Most people will take the capsules for fibromyalgia or in similar forms to the treatment of Lupus. Most commonly for fibromyalgia it seems that the capsules, the edibles or oils/creams are the forms most used. 

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a pain bladder condition that effects more than 4 million people in the United States alone. Through research it seems that cannabis extracts may offer new hope for people with this very painful condition. IC causes symptoms like a urinary tract infections, abdominal discomfort and bladder spasms. In Illinois where cannabis is legal for medical treatment and IC is an approved diagnosis to receive cannabis. The IC Network found that about 63% of those diagnoses and use some sort of cannabis to treat their symptoms, and reported that the cannabis decreased their symptoms by 50%. Eighteen percent of those surveyed reported that cannabis completely relieved their symptoms. Fourteen percent said that it helped their symptoms by at least 25 percent. Although marijuana is still generally smoked to provide relief from pain, other forms are being developed that eliminate the effects of the “high,” yet preserve the medicinal effects. Since cannabis has had such a high rate of symptom control in IC, the pain relieving and anti-spasmodic effects of cannabis are now being looked into for treatment of other conditions. Vaporizing CBD or using CBD oils can be used along with capsules for treatment. 

FORIA a company based out of Colorado is saying that their cannabis based product can help relieve menstrual cramps. This compound has not been studied as to how it would effect endometriosis. But one could assume that if it can help with menstrual cramps that the mechanism of action would be the same or similar for someone with Endo. FORIA was formulated to to maximize the muscle relaxing and pain relief properties of cannaboids. Without the psychotropic or feeling of being high like actual cannabis. The capsule is a blend of THC which is known to relax muscles and cramping in the body. One could also use CBD oils and creams for treatment if Endo. 
Cannabis can be used to treat just about anything without the side effects of major pharmaceuticals. Cannabis has very few side effects and most could be viewed as positive effects. Like mood improvement, increased appetite, and better sleep. The major problem with getting medical marijuana is that in most states it is not legal. And in the states that it is legal your condition may not be on the approved list in order to get approved for medical marijuana. 

If you feel that you or Someone you know could benefit from the use of medical marijuana in a state where it is not legal. Please contact your legislator and check for any movements in your state for the legalization of medical marijuana. 

Note: To see the forms and ways to consume medical marijuana check out this website. https://unitedpatientsgroup.com/resources/methods-of-consumption

While this method of pain/symptom control may not be for everyone. Research clearly shows that it is helping people. It is not a common method of treatment yet, but based on the increased use of CBD I think it will become more and more common. 
-Amber

Resources:

https://www.leafly.com/news/health/treating-lupus-with-cannabis

Marijuana Rated Most Effective for Treating Fibromyalgia

Treating Interstitial Cystitis with Cannabis

Can Marijuana Relieve Menstrual (and Possibly Endometriosis) Pain?


http://www.impactcannabis.org/endometriosis/

https://www.whaxy.com/learn/does-cannabis-treat-lupus

Find beauty within- Do You!!!  Makeup Haul!

Now you might be wondering why I would include cosmetics, beauty products and makeup on this blog. The answer is simple. I feel it’s important that we all feel good about ourselves when our disease processes often make us feel so terrible. And if you are anything like me, most days unless I’m going somewhere, makeup or skin care is the least of my worries.

 I recently read somewhere though that changed my way of  thinking. I read that even if you are home in your sweats and you are a person who wears makeup normally, you should put on a little. Even if it’s just the basics. At first I thought it was hogwash and just a way for cosmetic company’s to make more money. But then I tried it. And most days it works. On days that I’m home and feel bad if I’ll at least put on my moisturizer, some mascara and some lip gloss and most of the time it will perk me up a little bit. There is something about laying around in your Jammie’s looking like a ragamuffin for days that can really bring down your sense of self and how you feel about yourself. So in the last few months I have been doing that most days. And I feel like it helps so much. So I really recommend that you try it. It doesn’t have to be a full face, maybe just your moisturizer, mascara and something on your lips. And nothing says it had to be the expensive stuff. Lord knows my makeup isn’t the high quality stuff. Just use what you like and have on hand.  To make you feel better about you. When so many days we feel so bad about ourselves. 

I know there will be some that read this and say that lady is just playing into the industry about how a women had to wear makeup to be beautiful!!  Ohhhhh so far from it. If you only knew me. I don’t believe you have to wear cosmetics to be beautiful.  My sister for instance is one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out. And most days you won’t find an ounce of makeup on her face. But she takes care of her skin by using moisturizers and cleansers. And that’s what makes her feel beautiful. That’s really all I’m saying. Don’t let your disease take your beauty away from you. Whatever it is you do to make you feel pretty and confident, THAT is what you should keep doing!!! YOU BE YOU!!!! 

Now on to my most recent makeup haul! I purchased a couple products from ULTA and got all the rest as a gift. So let’s dive right in. 

We will start with what I actually purchased first. 

First is the Ulta setting spray. Being that I’m really pretty new into this makeup game I knew I needed a setting spray but didn’t know where to start. I did know that I was tired of my makeup rubbing off on everything I touched to my face.  So I thought I’d start here. And I’ve been very happy. It’s a very light spray that I apply at the end of all my other makeup. And the best part it smells really great. Ok, so maybe that’s not the best part but I really enjoy the smell. Each time I’ve used it I’ve been very pleased that my makeup “look” has lasted all day (10+ hours) and doesn’t come off on my phone anymore. I would definitely recommend this product and will buy again. 

Next is the Ulta Brightening Serum With Vitamin C. I wasn’t completely sure what I was getting when I bought this but I LOVE it. It’s very light, I apply it in the morning before my moisturizer and the rest of my face. And then again at bedtime. I don’t always put moisturizer on top at bedtime. This product is so smooth and leaves my face feeling silly smooth.  It’s so far the best product in this category I have bought. And I will be buying over and over again!

It leaves my face looking fresh and almost dewy on its own. It’s my go to product on those days when I only want to put on one or two things. Great product. 

Now onto the gifts I received from Ulta after my above purchases

This is probably my least favorite product of the bunch. These are pre-moistened pads for eye makeup remover. I was teally excited to try them as I feel like my eye makeup is often the hardest to remove. However, I did not like the product once I tried them. I felt the pads were to moist and got everywhere. Even after trying to squeeze them out. And the liquid on the pads actually hurt my eyes. Maybe I don’t use them correctly but it seems impossible not to get a little in your eyes. And when that happens my eyes burn. They may work for some people but for me they did not.  Not a product I will be buying in the future. 

Next are these beautiful colors for your checks. I will admit I never wear anything on my cheeks bc they are always red due to my lupus. And I’m

Not good with blush vs highlighted.  (Like I said earlier this makeup business is pretty new to me). At any rate, I love these colors. I have been using the French Glow, which I’m thinking is more of a highlighter, and it’s beautiful. It takes some of the natural redness out of my cheeks and just gives me a really soft pretty glow!!  Another product I will buy in the future. 

On to this awesome eye shadow pallet. These colors are amazing. I didn’t get to pick them, but they are the colors I wear most with the exception of one. I have enjoyed this pallet. The colors are nicely pigmented and I don’t feel like I have to cake a ton on to get the look I’m going for. Very easy to layer and blend!!! 

Two of the three products Pictured here I love. The other isn’t for me. I had never really used any eye shadow primer and man I didn’t know what I was missing. The Ulta Beauty Nude Matte primer has been a game changer. It’s amazing that I can apply my eye makeup in the morning and it’s still in place and not all face by the end of the day!! What a difference it has made in my makeup game. The Ulta Beauty Amped Lashes Mascara is phenomenal!  I have really blonde lashes that you can hardly see, and with this mascara my lashes look full and voluptuous!!  The product that hasn’t been for me is the Ulta Beauty Medium Brow Tint. Like is said about my lashes my brows are also very very light. When I applied this tint it felt like it was WAY to dark and looked out of place on my brows. Not to say a different shade wouldn’t work better.  But for now the medium tint is much to dark.

Last but not least is this beautiful lip color, Ulta Beauty Matte Petal. When I first pulled it out of the package I thought. No way that’s wat to Dark I can never pull that off. Because I geberaly wear different variations of pink. But I tried it and LOVED it. My only complaint is that it doesn’t last very long. It seems like I am having to reapply within an hour or so. And I don’t have time to be reapplying lipstick all the time. Love the color just needs to be longer lasting. 

Here is a picture of the whole haul! Great products overall. And a line I would definitely recommend!!

The one thing I want you to get out of this blog isn’t necessarily about the makeup, although finding a new product to try is exciting. I want to to remember to DO YOU. Whatever that is. Do whatever makes you feel pretty. It doesn’t matter whether anyone else thinks you look gorgeous or not. It’s all about how you feel. And how it makes you feel on the inside.  So find a routine that works for you and make you feel pretty. That’s the takeaway. 

‘People often say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realising that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.’ Salma Hayek

Leave me a comment letting me know what makes you feel beautiful.  I can not wait to read them!

Xoxo, Amber 
*if you enjoy this types of blogs let me know. I may do more. 

Product Review

It’s time for another round of reviews of the products I received from the amazing owner of The Spoonique Boutique on Etsy. All of her products are homemade and amazing. I’ve yet to come across a product I didn’t like and if you remember she sent me a LOT of products. 

First we will start with BIRTHDAY CAKE candle.  Amazing, amazing smell!!!  Truthfully made me want to eat a cupcake, LOL. Was strong but not overbearing.  My only criticism,if you want to call it that, was that it didn’t seem to fill the whole room with the scent. Mainly, just the area where the candle was sitting.  And I like my candles to fill the whole trim. Some may not. That being said I would still buy another, simply because it smells so good. 

Next, I want to talk about the face masks. Both are AMAZING!!! They come in either calming scents or peppermint scent. My favorite was the calming scent.  The product went on so easily and provided a nice full coverage without feeling like your face was caked in mud. I usually left them on for about 15 minutes. And I was truthfully shocked at the results. I’ve used other masks in the past with little luck. But these made my face feel so amazingly soft. I have used them a couple more times and had the same result. She’s got a long time customer here. A+ on this product!!! 

Next on my list are the Foaming Bath Salts. These are a lot of fun and they smell amazing. They do just what what the label says they should. And makes taking a hot bath more fun and enjoyable. 

That leads me to the Himalayan Pink Salt Bath Scrub. This product is tremendous!! I have multiple rough areas on my body and after using these in the bath my skin was as smooth as a babies skin. And really a little goes quite a long way so this small container will last you awhile. The smell is tremendous as well.  Another product I will be buying in the future. 

Then the last couple of  products that I will be discussing today are soaps. The first one is the Goats Milk Sweet Pea Soap.  This is one of my favorite actual bar soaps I’ve found in awhile. Knowing that it is made clean and not with a ton of chemicals in it makes me even happier. But the small is great and it does good things for your skin.  After using it I felt very clean and my skin felt very smooth.  Another great product by this shop.  

The other soap that I have used from this shop I wasn’t as big of fan of and it make he the shape and size. I felt like I had a hard time holding on to it and so it was hard for it to do it’s job. But the product smelled wonderful and left a good after-shower smell!  Because of the Shea Butter it did leave my skin feeling smooth. If only I could have held on to it better. Lol 

I have a few more products to review but overall almost every product I’ve tried has been pretty fantastic! If you are interested let me know or you can find her on Etsy or Instagram @ Thespoonqiueboutique. 

I hope when you get your products you enjoy them as much as I do!! 

-Amber