Make May Matter: How to Raise Awareness for Ehlers-Danlos

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May is an important month for me. Not only is it the month of my birth, but it is also Ehlers Danlos Awareness month. Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are a group of connective tissue disorders that can be inherited and are varied both in how affect the body and in their genetic causes. The Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) are currently classified in a system of thirteen subtypes.

I have Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS).  The diagnosis of hypermobile EDS (hEDS) remains clinical; there is no molecular, genetic cause yet identified.

In order to help spread the word about EDS awareness, I wanted to create a list of ways people can get the word out this month, and really use this month to make a difference.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Use Twibbon to create a zebra print profile picture on Facebook! This is a quick and easy way to get the word out. Zebra print is the “awareness color” for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Click here to use Twibbon. image
  2. Participate in The Lemon Challenge! This is similar to The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. The concept is simple, and there is even a graphic for you to share with your 30 second clip. imageimage
  3. Go Live! Your Facebook friends get a notification whenever you go live. Create a short video of you discussing Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and why raising awareness matters to you. Make it fun!
  4. Share an infographic! These are easy to read informational images. The Ehlers Danlos Society is sharing one every day in May on their Facebook page. Like their page to see a daily post. image.jpeg
  5. Put up a poster! If you can get permission from your school, place of business/work, or local a public bulletin, go ahead and use it as a means to share. The Ehlers Danlos Society offers a free poster that you can print and display.
  6. Contact local media! This one is a little more difficult, but if you have the time, try reaching out to your school news, whoever writes your weekly work newsletters, or even a local news paper or news station and see if they would be willing to do an article/segment on EDS.
  7. Wear Stripes! The Ehlers Danlos Society is selling zebra merchandise to help raise funds for research into EDS. You can purchase EDS awareness merchandise here.  image
  8. Sell zebra ribbons to fundraise for EDS. If you want to raise money for EDS, consider printing zebra ribbons and selling them, or making zebra ribbons out of zebra craft ribbon to sell. image
  9. Do a 50/50 raffle! If you can talk to your school or workplace, see if they will allow you to arrange a 50/50 raffle to raise money for EDS! image
  10. Add a signature to your e-mails! If you routinely send e-mails, add a quick signature about EDS awareness. image
  11. Decorate your lawn! If you live on a busy street, consider putting up a homemade sign, zebra lawn ornaments, or painting “EDS Awareness” on your front lawn. image
  12. Have a conversation! The easiest way to spread awareness is to have a conversation with someone else. Spark a conversation with someone around you every day to try and get the word out. Tell a teacher, your hair stylist, the cashier at the grocery store, your friend, someone at a party, the new intern at the office…literally anyone who will listen. Tell them about EDS and your efforts to raise awareness.

I hope this gave you some ideas on how to make May a great month for EDS awareness. If you want more information on Ehlers-Danlos, please check out The Ehlers Danlos Society.

Thanks for reading!

Thinking About Plasma Donation? Good.

Thinking About Plasma Donation?

Good.

Woman donating blood in busy hospital donation bank

Today I went to donate blood plasma for the very first time. I have been in a bind for cash, with Shasta needing another bag of very expensive food (she’s got allergies, just like her Mom!) and a round of vaccinations. I was pretty hesitant about it. Donating whole blood in and of itself is very frightening to many, but I’m here to tell you that it wasn’t that bad! You are compensated for your time and you are doing a GREAT thing for those who need plasma donations.

Here’s what I can tell you about Plasma Donation:

  1. The first time you donate, you will have to arrive fairly early. There are a lot of regulations and requirements for donating plasma, including answering the same questions over and over again. The staff was very helpful in explaining the process and answering any and all questions I had, including the qualifications of the people working in the facility. I was informed that in my facility all of the people working in the lab had acquired a minimum of an EMT or an LPN education.
  2. You have to pass the test. When you donate plasma they have to ensure that you first have a healthy amount of iron and blood proteins to be able to donate – they don’t want to take it if you need it more! This involved a finger prick to take a small sample of blood. You also have to undergo a short physical exam in which a nurse examines your lymphnodes to ensure you do not have an infection/are sick, and the check your general health.
  3. You’re compensated for a reason. The entire process took four hours for us to complete, with all of the first time donor requirements for reading and testing. They compensate you for this time. They don’t compensate for donating blood, because that does not take nearly as long.
  4. The plasmapheresis itself might be a little frightening if you usually are afraid of having routine blood work done, or hate having an IV placed in the hospital. I recommend not looking when they place it, just to be safe! image
  5. The plasmapheresis process took about an hour for me. It is faster for some, depending on your blood volume, clotting factors, and a million other things I’m not aware of.  It ran in three cycles, withdrawing blood and removing the plasma. I was able to see the plasma as it was collected (it is that straw colored liquid in the image) so I could gauge how close I was to being through.
  6. They STRONGLY encourage you to return. Not only is your donation important, but you MUST donate again for them to use the plasma you donated on your first visit. Regulations require that the plasma be tested twice for any abnormalities  for it to be used to make the important medications that it is used for. It also takes SIX plasma donations to make ONE plasma-based medication. These medications are used for patients with ailments varying from severe burns and hemophilia to pregnant mothers with an Rh factor incompatibility. Visit this page to learn more about who benefits from your plasma donations. image
  7. Once I was finished, I was able to pick up a pre-loaded VISA card, and head back out into the world, with both some extra money, and a new found knowledge on the importance of plasma donation.

Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, simply a human who donated. This is my experience, and they may vary depending on the facility and person. For more information on plasma donation, please visit plasmadonation.com.

DIY Mardi Gras Tree

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Mardi Gras is just around the corner here in Louisiana! King cakes abound, parades coming through town, and beads all around. It’s a unique holiday that is especially celebrated here in the boot state, and one that is full of fun and folly.

Mardi Gras is french for Fat Tuesday, which is, in it’s own way, celebrated in my home state of Michigan with packzis binges. Side note – keep an eye out for the king cake/packzi mash up recipe I am going to be popping out soon! But here in Louisiana, Mardi Gras is a season-long event that only ends on Fat Tuesday.

Today I have decided to share with you all, a simple decoration that I have brought together to celebrate the Mardi Gras season. In this house, the Christmas tree stays up all year long. Not because we are too lazy to take it down, but because we have absolutely nowhere for it to go once it comes down. Because of this, I have decided to decorate the tree for Mardi Gras!

It truly wasn’t too hard, and is budget friendly. I already had the tree, so all I needed were some decorations!

The purple lights were bought from Lowe’s after Halloween when they were having a clearance deal on purple, orange, and lime green string lights.

Here are some purple string lights on Amazon that would do nicely, if you don’t own any.

purple-lights

Next, you can choose a garland, if you’d like. I used some Mardi Gras beads that Taylor and I bought last year. You can also choose to use Mardi Gras boa scarfs from Dollar Tree!

Here are some beads I found on Amazon!

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You can also decorate using ornaments. We actually had some purple ornaments from Christmas that I kept on the tree, and then I went out and bought some additional ornaments from Walmart. They had some purple, green, and gold combo sets!

If you missed the Christmas clearance, here are some ornaments I found on Amazon!

purple-ornament

You can also jazz it up with some unique Mardi Gras style masks. Dollar Tree has a small selection. They also have adorable mini gold, green, and purple hats. I am in love with these French Quarter street signs.

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For a tree topper, I decided to go with a jester hat!

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Put it all together, and you’ve got a focal piece for your Mardi Gras celebration.

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3 Reasons to Celebrate Your Pet’s Birthday

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Shasta turned three years old recently, and Taylor and I decided that it was a grand idea to throw her a small birthday party. It included music, games, and a dog-friendly cake. But, why even bother going through the effort of throwing such a thing for an animal who has no concept of time?

Here are our reasons.

Number 1:

Even if Shasta doesn’t have any true concept of years, or birthdays, and won’t understand why we are giving her extra treats, extra love, and new toys, she understands that it makes her very happy. Who doesn’t love a happy animal? She was so hype for the cake, and played with her new toys all afternoon.

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Number 2:

A dog birthday party requires no invitations, little cleanup (especially if you buy a cake mix like this Carob Cake Mix and Frosting) and you can make it as big of a deal as you want to. Shasta would have been off the wall for her birthday no matter what. She’s not going to sit there and cry like a child because we forgot to get the right kind of candles, or because her friend couldn’t make it. She’s happy, we’re happy, and we didn’t even have to put “real” clothes on.

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Number 3:

There are a lot of really awful things happening all over the world, every day. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the negatives, and forget the little positives. Shasta’s birthday was a small event that made so many people smile. Sometimes we all just need to have a slightly silly holiday where we can laugh, dance, and eat.

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Have you ever thrown a pup-party? How did it go? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Party in a Pin: Navy & White Picnic

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Here is my guide to a proper, classy picnic. Just imagine, the warm sun, the soft grass, the birds singing in the distance…

It would be perfect for a bridesmaid’s brunch, or anniversary party!

First things first. You need a basket. Here is one of my favorites. It is a deluxe picnic set, but you can easily find a basket from the thrift store, and buy some cheap dollar store dishes to make your own, if you’d life.

VonShef Deluxe 4 Person Folding Handle Picnic Basket Set

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Once you have your basket, you can get some decorations for your picnic. If you plan on having your picnic under a tree, consider some hanging decorations to give extra dimension to your scene. I think these ones would pair nicely with the VonShef basket.

Furuix 10 Piece White & Navy Blue Decorations

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You will also need some romantic candles! Get some flameless ones to avoid an accidental fire. The ones I listed below are 24 for 8.99. That’s a pretty good deal for those suckers.

Flameless LED Tea Light Candles (24 Pack)

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You can even get some glass votive jars for them.

Hosley Set of 12 Crystal Clear Glass Votives

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You will also need at least one flower vase, so if you don’t have one, consider one like this:

Glass Vase 10″x2″, Blue

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Next, of course, you need to figure out food arrangements. Is there a restaurant near by? Consider picking up carry-out meals if you are wanting a more sophisticated lunch or dinner. This way, it will still be hot by the time you make it to the park. You will also want to make sure you’ve packed up a couple closed bottles of wine to take, too.

Then, you need to consider what you will wear. I think that a lovely fit-and-flare dress just screams picnic.

Missmay® Women’s Vintage Style Fit & Flare

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For shoes, I recommend flats or sandals.

Fioni Women’s Silver Women’s Prize Flat Sling 9 Regular

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There you have it! Your guide to a high-class picnic.

Don’t forget to check the weather!

Netflix Girl’s Night – January Edition

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Today, I am really missing some of my best friends. You might know how it is, just wanting to eat junk food, vent it all out, and not wear pants.

Did I make you miss your bestie?

Here are 5 Great Netflix Rom-Coms so you can pencil in a last minute girls night.

Don’t have Netflix?

You can buy ALL of these movies for just $30 to add to your collection.

Click the titles to buy on Amazon.

1.) How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days

This is one of my favorite romantic comedies of ALL TIME. No matter how many times I watch it, it’s still funny, and still cute.

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2.) 10 Things I Hate About You

I love you baby, and if it’s quite alright,  I need you baby to warm the lonely nights….

You know you can’t resist that scene, no matter how improbable it is.

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3.) Can’t Buy Me Love

In my personal opinion, this movie doesn’t get enough love.

Long before he was Dr. McDreamy, he was nerdy little Ronny, trying to earn- or well, buy, – the love of the beautiful Cindy Mancini.

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4.) The Prince & Me

This is another one of my favorites. Finally, a fairy tale for college girls.

Remember that scene in the Library? I think you need to see it again.

NOTE: I do not endorse any of the several sequels it spawned. Sub-par.

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5.) Kate & Leopold

Because Meg Ryan is the only of the three Rom-Com queens to not have the name Julia,

and to prove Hugh Jackman could be a dashing time traveler, and a mutant.

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Thanks for reading!

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Games That Give Family Game Night a New Edge

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I love games. I have always enjoyed sitting down with some close friends or my family and challenging each other to a round of Monopoly, or some other game that had been dusted off for the evening. Games offer a special opportunity for us to sit down, see one another, and actually enjoy the company of others around us. Sometimes you’re working together, sometimes you’re working against each other, but at least you’re together.

Here I have compiled a list of some modern games that can amplify your family game night so that you don’t have to play Sorry! again this week.

1.) Betrayal At House On The Hill – 2nd Edition by Avalon Hill

I learned of this game through a friend, and we played it for hours. Not because it’s a long game, but because it was fun. The premise of this game is that every person selects a character from the game (think Clue) and your characters are trapped in a derelict house. The characters explore the house, by placing room tiles where they explore. In the room, you could get extra boost points for fighting, or movement, you could find a special item that will help you defeat “the bad guy,” or you could trigger an event that could change up the game. Each game is different depending on the cards drawn, and the dice rolled. This game is on the darker side, so it is rated 12+. It can have 3-6 players.

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2.) Pandemic Board Game by Z-Man Games

This game, like the above, is suggested for teenagers. It is designed for 2-4 Players, and it is similar to Betrayal of the House on the Hill in that you are assigned a character. This game, however, is intended to be slightly less…morbid. The premise is that each of you has set skills, and you must work cooperatively to destroy a dangerous and deadly disease before it causes a Pandemic. It has high ratings for a reason – it’s almost addicting. The game changes every time you play it, so it will keep you on the edge of your seat, too.

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3.) Ticket To Ride by Days of Wonder

Ticket To Ride has a younger age range than the others above. It is recommended for ages 8+ and can have 2-5 players. The idea of this game is that you have to try and visit as many cities in America that you can, in seven ‘days’ by travelling by train. The challenge is to get trains from city to city, which is how you earn points. The longer the distance, the more points you earn.

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The game also has an expansion package that you can buy:

Ticket To Ride 1910 Expansion

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4.) Hasbro Speak Out Game

You may have  seen this one making the rounds on Facebook this holiday season.Why?  Because nothing is more fun than watching your friends and family look completely idiotic. This game is comprised of mouthpieces, and when it is your teams turn, one team member puts the mouthpiece in and pronounces a sentence from a game card. Your partner has to guess what you are saying before the timer runs out. If they get it right, they get a card. The team with the most cards at the end of the game, wins.

This game is designated for ages 16+ because the mouthpieces are for adult mouths.

Find kid’s mouth pieces: Airgoesin 12pcs Kid Children Dental Oral Cheek Retractor Lip Opener Watch Ya Mouth Game Speak Out Game Lipless Game

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Detroit in 3 Days

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Detroit is very near and dear to my heart. It was the closest large city when I was growing up, so I have had many day trips downtown. This is a three day itinerary for someone who wants to experience a long weekend, or short vacation, in the renaissance city.

Friday 

8:00 AM: Wake up, and get ready.

9:00 AM: Have breakfast at The Hudson Cafe

10:15 AM: Head to The Henry Ford Museum

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Have Lunch at the Museum

1:00 PM: Cross over to Greenfield Village

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4:00 PM: Leave the Museum, head downtown.

4:45: Have dinner at Tony V’s Tavern

6:00 PM: Head to the Detroit Institute of Arts

(They are open late ONLY on Friday)

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9:00 PM Leave the DIA.

9:30 PM: Have a drink and snack at Northern Lights Lounge

10:30 PM: Head back to your hotel.

Saturday 

9:30 AM: Wake up, and get ready.

10:30 AM Head downtown, and find a parking spot

Try the Greektown Casino Parking Structure.

11:00 AM: Have greek brunch at Pegasus Tavernas

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12:30 PM: Leave Pegasus Tavernas

Take The People Mover to The Renaissance Center

1:00 PM: Walk to Mariner’s Church Historical Marker

The Guardian Building

The Spirit of Detroit

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The Monument to Joe Louis

The Michigan Labor Legacy Monument

Hart Plaza

Finally, end up in Campus Martius.

Enjoy the band, or the ice skaters.

3:00 PM: Have a Coney dog at American Coney Island AND Lafayette Coney Island

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Pick a favorite.

4:00 PM: Walk down to Michigan Avenue People Mover Station

Go to Grand Circus Park People Mover Station

Walk to:

The Fillmore Theatre

The Fox Theatre

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Comerica Park

Ford Field

5:45 PM: Walk back to Grand Circus People Mover Station

Head back to Greektown

 Stop at Astoria Pastry Shop

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Snag some dessert that doesn’t need refrigeration

Head to your car.

6:20 PM: Park between Union Street Restaurant and Max M Fisher Music Center

Have dinner at Union Street.

7:45 PM: Head down to the Music Center and see the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

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11:00 PM: Head back to the hotel

Sunday:

9:30 AM: Wake up, get ready.

10:30 AM: Head to Rose’s Fine Food

Pick up a picnic basket

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11:00 AM: Head to Belle Isle

Have a picnic

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12:00 PM: Take a tour through The Belle Isle Aquarium

1:00 PM: Leave Belle Isle, head to The Detroit Zoo

1:45 PM: Arrive at the Zoo.

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4:30 PM: Leave The Detroit Zoo.

5:00 PM: Drive downtown, to the Renaissance Center

5:45 PM: Sit down and finish your trip with a skyline dinner from:

Andiamo Riverfront

or

Coach Insignia Detroit

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7:30 PM: Head back to the hotel, and pack up.

If you like this post, also check out New Orleans in 3 Days! 

Follow for more destinations in our 3 Day itinerary series.

Thank you for reading!

Disclaimer: I do not claim credit for any photos pictured here.

Valentine’s Day Gifts Your Man Will Actually Want.

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Alright. I am going to come out and say it. I am not in a relationship with a man, but I sure do know that they DO NOT want another throw away gift. Stop with the teddy bears, the funny boxers or ties with the hearts on them. Here is a list of some ideas, that would make your man’s Valentine’s day one to remember, instead of one that leaves useless junk.

Give them something they will like. Something that shows that you know him as well as he knows you. He deserves that, doesn’t he?

  1.  Has he ever expressed an interest in playing paintball with his buddies? Is there a billboard for a paintball center that always seems to catch his eye? Call around and see how much it would cost for him and his friends to go a few rounds. Join them – if you’re brave enough. Photo credit: LEGOpb
  2. Does he watch comedy specials on TV? Check out the websites of a few of his favorites, and see if they will be coming around any time soon. Get him tickets for a night of laughs, with you – the one he loves most. funny
  3. Athletic type? Get tickets to see a game with him. Baseball season is coming around soon. jv
  4. Does he drool when he looks at an exotic car? There are lots of locations around the U.S. where you can go to DRIVE some of those cars. See if you can make his day by letting him drive the car of his dreams.fer.jpg
  5. Another car idea – get him tickets to go to an auto show. Let him look at the new makes, models, and modded cars that are on show. auto
  6. Everyone has something they’ve always wanted to learn how to do. For me, its dancing. For your man, it might be playing the guitar, learning how to fly a small plane, or try golf. Get him a private lesson so he can test it out.plane
  7. Does he have a hobby? Get him something that suits his interest. Whether it’s video games or cooking, find a memorable gift that he can use.controller
  8. Find an arcade. Battle each other in silly games. Make it a challenge. arcade
  9. Give him Valentine’s day off. Tell him that YOU’RE planning the night. Maybe even go as far as finding a cozy getaway spot for the two of you. It might be nice for him to not have to worry about setting everything up.hotel
  10. If all of these are too expensive, or not his style…make him dinner. Food is the key to the heart. Grab his favorite drink. Have a relaxing, stress free night at home. Throw together a salad, and a little romance.

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Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. I do not claim these photos as my own, except from the title image.