Best Beauty Products for Arthritis

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.

The Best Beauty Products for Arthritis

One of the most difficult tasks for people with inflammatory arthritis is getting ready in the morning. Between the fatigue, stiff joints in the morning and whether or not you’re in a flare, simply doing your hair and makeup can be a mountain of a task. Over the years, I’ve figured out the best products to help me get ready in a flash, flare or not.

Revlon One Step Hair Dryer & Hot Air Brush

I genuinely don’t know how I’ve gone so long without discovering this little gem, the Revlon Hot Air Brush! When my arthritis gets bad, sometimes my husband would have to help me blow dry my hair. While he had gotten really good at it, the time and effort this hot air brush has saved me is beyond words.

It used to be a three or more tool job, using both hands — hair dryer, round brush, then a straightening iron or curling iron after. Now, I can use the hot air brush and not even need to straighten my hair! And it gets the job done in a quarter of the time. I’m usually finished with my hair in five minutes flat! It’s absolutely a life-saver for folks with arthritis in their hands. 

Tip: Clip sections of your hair and dry one section at a time, starting from the bottom of your head and working your way up. Trying to dry huge sections of hair will take longer and is more difficult to manage.

Kristin Ess Blow Dry Mist

This blow dry mist by Kristin Ess is a huge helper in getting my blow dry and style time down to five minutes. In fact, a few days ago I forgot to use this product in my hair and it felt like it took me forever to dry my hair! In reality, it was ten minutes, but wow — what a difference! Less is more when it comes to this mist. I have shorter, thin hair and I use only two brief sprays to cover my hair. More than that and it gives your hair a greasy look — not pretty!

Aquis Fast Drying Microfiber Towel

This towel is a cult favorite for a good reason. As you can see, I’m ALL about getting my hair to dry quickly. For most people with arthritis, doing your hair can be one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks when getting ready in the morning. I’ve had my Aquis Towel for more than two years and it still looks and feels as great as it did when it first came out of the package!

This towel claims to dry hair from wet to damp 50% faster than regular cotton towels… and I believe it. And a bonus to it drying your hair quickly: It helps prevent damage and frizz, too! 

Beaky Makeup Sponges

When I’m having a rough hand day when it comes to my arthritis, sometimes putting on makeup with brushes or fingertips can be difficult. That’s when I reach for the makeup sponges. I love the multipack Beaky offers, because they’re different shapes that are easy to grip. Plus, they’re a bit larger and sturdier than the average makeup sponge, making them even easier to hold. They’re hypoallergenic, too, a must for most people with chronic illnesses.

The key for using these sponges with liquid foundation is to “dot” the foundation on your skin first, then use the sponge to blend it in using a tapping motion. Each sponge lasts about one month, but be sure to clean it every few days by rinsing and applying facial cleanser, then rinse clean.

Use Pump Bottles Over Twist Tops

For those of us with arthritis, we know the battle of twist top packaging. When you can, make sure the beauty products you purchase have pumps or other easily accessible openings instead of twist tops. Shampoo, body wash and face washes are typically easy to find pumps for. Brands like Lorac and Mac have magnetic or pump packaging that make it incredibly easy to use, too!

Do you have any products or tips that make getting ready easier when you’re in a flare? Tell me in the comments below!

Transitioning to solid foods with Beech-Nut® Naturals™ — Arthritis-friendly jars!

This blog post is sponsored by Beech-Nut® Naturals. In exchange for this post, I may receive perks and/or compensation; however, all opinions are my own. Click here to view our disclosure policy.


It feels like yesterday I was getting into the swing of having a brand new bambino, figuring out the whole breastfeeding thing and wondering why in the world my kiddo wouldn’t take a pacifier. Now, he’s eight months old and we’re onto solid foods! And boy, does he love his healthy fruits and vegetables.

 

Beech-Nut Naturals Baby Foods - BrendaDalton.com

As good of intentions we have as parents, not every single meal is going to be perfectly made from home, especially when you have a new baby in the family. Whether it’s a matter of time, being out and about or — for many of us with chronic illnesses — energy, sometimes we need an extra hand!

When looking for baby food to take on-the-go, I wanted something made with real fruits and vegetables with ingredients I can pronounce — nothing else.

 

Beech-Nut Baby Foods - BrendaDalton.com

Baby food that’s inspired by homemade

In comes Beech-Nut® Naturals, which is inspired by homemade. I’m excited to partner with Beech-Nut® Naturals as I continue to introduce more flavors to my eight-month-old. We were given a few cute little glass jars to test out courtesy of Beech-Nut® Naturals, but know that my opinion is 100 percent my own (okay, and baby Grayson’s, too!).

It was a no-brainer to introduce him to Beech-Nut® Naturals, since it’s 100 percent natural, nothing artificial. With that, I know that I’m starting baby out on the best of the best when it comes to real food.

Being someone with several chronic illnesses, it is so incredibly important to me to start my child off with the right nutrition and set the stage for healthy eating habits. It’s never too early to start!

Flavors babies love

Hands down, my favorite flavor is pumpkin, but I find it way harder to cook and puree pumpkin than any other fruit or vegetable; however, my baby absolutely adores pumpkin. He gives me a run for my money when it comes to loving pumpkin!

Beech-Nut Naturals Baby Foods - BrendaDalton.com

We tried out Beech-Nut®’s Apple & Pumpkin puree and it was a total hit. In fact, had I let him, kiddo would have licked every drop out of the precious honeypot jar! A few other favorites are Just Carrots, Just Pear & Blueberry and Just Green Beans.

Depending on what flavor I’m feeding him, I’ll halve the four ounce jar and pop the rest in the fridge for up to 48 hours. Grayson loves to mix up flavors and have a little taste of several different foods at a meal. We love offering a green vegetable like Just Green Beans and an orange vegetable like Just Sweet Potatoes, then giving a little fruit like Just Apples for dessert. We can’t wait to try out more Stage 2 foods in the coming weeks!

 

Beech-Nut Naturals Baby Foods - BrendaDalton.com


Arthritis-friendly jars

Plus, there’s a bonus for my rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis mamas, papas and others: Their iconic green lid is so incredibly easy to open. I struggle with jars, bottles and even those foil safety seals on food and drinks, but Beech-Nut® Naturals jars are a breeze to open. You’ll hear the handy little pop to know it’s open and you’re good to go.

Find Beech-Nut® Naturals™ near you

To learn more about Beech-Nut® Naturals, visit their website. Beech-Nut® Naturals is available at national retailers like Target and Walmart, but you can click here to find a retailer nearest you.

 

The Perfect Gifts for Mamas with James Avery Jewelry

This blog post is sponsored by James Avery Jewelry. In exchange for this post, I may receive perks and/or compensation; however, all opinions are my own. Click here to view our disclosure policy.


 

While Mother’s Day has come and gone, it’s never too late to gift that mama in your life with something special. And with that something special, I am so excited to be partnering with James Avery Jewelry here on the blog. Check out the bottom of the post for a special offer, including a free bracelet or necklace!

 

James Avery Jewelry - Gifts for Mom

My story with James Avery Jewelry

One thing I love about James Avery jewelry is that each piece tells a story — everything in their collection is meant to represent your heart and to remind you of important moments, people and things in your life. James Avery Jewelry was kind enough to gift me with a few pieces to represent my story.

James Avery Jewelry - Gifts for Mom

Family trips to the beach

One of my favorite vacation spots is Rosemary Beach, Florida. My husband and I first visited when we were dating several years ago, and since then, it’s become a special place for our family. From a girls’ trip with my own mom to our babymoon last year, our trips to the little beach town on 30A signify such important seasons of my life with those that I love.

I chose a sand dollar charm to commemorate these trips to the beach, reminding me of those incredibly special memories with my favorites. In fact, each time we go to Rosemary Beach, we find at least one untouched, beautiful sand dollar. That’s a big deal for someone from landlocked Oklahoma, ha!

 

James Avery Jewelry - Gifts for Mom

Welcoming our baby into the world

Most importantly, this year I became a mama! With chronic illness, pregnancy was quite the journey, but in early March, it was well worth it and more when our son came into the world – a bit early and by surprise! – via c-section.

I chose his birth stone to mark the most wonderful moment in my life, which is also a moment shared with loved ones. His birth stone even matches his crystal baby blues, making the charm even more special.

Every time I wear my James Avery necklace with its sweet little charms, I think about the most important things in my life and it brings me such joy. I am genuinely so excited to continue to build this necklace – and my family’s story! – with each and every lovely milestone.

 

James Avery Jewelry - Gifts for Mom

Get a free bracelet or necklace from James Avery

Do the same thing for a mama in your life and help her start her story with James Avery Jewelry. It’s the perfect gift for your own mom, an expectant mother or even the mama to your cute little nieces and nephews! From simplistic styles to 18k gold and gemstones, there is something for every woman and every budget.

When you shop at James Avery through May 29, you can buy two charms and receive a charm necklace or bracelet for free, up to a $70 value. What charms will you choose to tell your story?

 

Shop the collection here!

 


*Charm promo details: *Purchase two James Avery charms* and/or pendants and an eligible charm bracelet, hook-on bracelet, ankle bracelet or charm necklace and receive up to $70 off the transaction. Customers purchasing eligible charm necklace (NK-207; $30), charm bracelets (BR-20; $40 or BR-599; $50) or ankle bracelet (BR-613; $40) will receive that item’s value only. Offer valid 04/16/18 through 05/29/18 while supplies last. Available atJamesAvery.com, James Avery retail stores, through James Avery Customer Service, at select Dillard’s Department Stores and at Dillards.com. May not be combined with any other offer or applied to previous purchases. We reserve the right to limit quantities. No cash/credit back. *Glass Enhancer Beads do not count as James Avery charms for this promotion.

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis 

This blog post is sponsored by Planet Fitness. In exchange for this post, I may receive perks and/or compensation; however, all opinions are my own. Click here to view our disclosure policy.

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness - brendadalton.com

1) Get the go-ahead from your physician

First and foremost, if you have any sort of temporary or chronic health issue, always get the go-ahead from your doctor(s). They can recommend the best plan of action for your fitness plan, including how often, at what intensity and the types of exercises that will fit your body best now and in the future.

For someone dealing with arthritis, low-impact exercises like yoga, light weights and machines like the elliptical are perfect ways to get started in the gym.

2) Work with your physical therapist or personal trainer

Much like working with your doctor, if you have a physical therapist, they can recommend great exercises for you to take part in at the gym. They’ll also give you handy stretches that you can use before and after your workout!

It never, ever hurts to bring a personal trainer into the mix, either. They can help you learn the ropes if you’re new to the gym, the machines or even fitness classes, suggest workout plans that fit your medical team’s suggestions and your lifestyle. Plus, having a personal trainer is like having a personal cheerleader, pushing you and cheering you on along the way!

Planet Fitness gyms in the United States offer free fitness training with their memberships. It’s amazing, since working with certified trainers can get eeeeeexpensive! Learn more about their personal training here.

3) Take it one step at a time, don’t push it!

After working with your doctors, physical therapist and even a personal trainer, you should have a good idea of how often you should work out, the types of exercises you should do and at what intensity. Trust your team and stick to it! Pushing yourself further can bring upon injury – temporary or permanent – and with that, can ruin the fun of building up to your fitness goals.

Start with shorter, less intense sessions and work your way up with supervision from your medical and fitness team. Trust me, having patience in this area is well worth it when you meet your goals and stay healthy the entire time.

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness - brendadalton.com

4) Find a time that works for you

Finding the time is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when trying to make it to the gym on a regular basis. Personally, I love Planet Fitness because of the number of locations across the United States and they’re staffed 24 hours a day.

I’ve been a member of 24/7 gyms before, but was always totally weary going in the early, early mornings or late evenings due to the fact they aren’t actually staffed. Planet Fitness is key on safety and makes sure they always have someone in the building at all times to keep you safe, answer questions and help you meet your goals.

And even better, if you’re a PF Black Card member, you can visit any Planet Fitness location in the United States – at any time! – which makes it a perfect little companion whether you’re traveling for work, visiting family in other states or want to get a little workout in on vacation. In the Tulsa-area alone, there are six Planet Fitness locations, which makes it easy to stop in for a workout when out and about or running errands.

Pssst, check out the bottom of this post for current Planet Fitness specials — you could save big right now on a membership!

5) Bring a workout buddy

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but I’ll add it because it’s true: Find a workout buddy. Not only will they help hold you accountable – and vice versa! – it’s nice to have someone to chat with while you’re working out. Plus, they can give you a few pointers on your form, right? And here’s something fun: If you’re a Planet Fitness Black Card member, you can bring a guest for free as many times as you want. Goodbye, gym boredom… hello, endless exercise pals!

6) Try a fitness class

I love fitness classes for the fact that I can find a time that works for me, pop it in my calendar and I am way more likely to show up than if I were just going to do a regular workout on my own. It’s like a little can’t-miss-date in my calendar!

For those of us with chronic pain, yoga classes are a great way to stretch out those muscles and loosen up those joints. Most places that offer yoga classes offer a variety of levels. Start with the beginning classes, let your instructor know of any injuries or pain you currently have, and they’ll help walk you through the rest!

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness - brendadalton.com

7) Find a gym or facility that’s judgement-free

For those of us with chronic illnesses, especially those that can impede our physical capability, we can sometimes be a little self-conscious. Have you ever been to a gym where everyone looked like a supermodel and folks were lifting hundreds of pounds with muscles bulging? While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it can be incredibly intimidating for those of us who are just getting back in the swing of things or aren’t there to win awards.

I’ve had memberships at many other gyms and frankly, Planet Fitness has been my favorite. They pride themselves on being a Judgement Free Zone® (no, really! It’s even their tagline!). You’ll find folks of all ages and abilities working out at any time with staff that is there to encourage and support your goals and success.

8) Take advantage of those end-of-year and new-year sales!

This is the time of year that people are making New Year’s resolutions to get fit. Why not join in at a great price?

Gym memberships can be expensive, but if you keep an eye out for special promotions and sales, you can join a gym that suits your needs best for a fraction of the cost. That means you can save a little (or a lot ofmoney and put it toward cute new exercise clothes and comfy tennis shoes, right?

Right now, Planet Fitness locations in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area are offering a year membership for new members for just $99 until Dec. 14 (when paid in full) and $0 enrollment fee and then $21.99 a month for Black Card membership through Dec. 31. Use code DaltonPF to activate your Black Card membership for 2018 with no enrollment fee when you sign up here!

Black Card memberships cover all of the basics, plus you’ll get access to more than 1,400+ clubs in the United States, guest (aka bring a friend!) privileges no matter what club you’re visiting, unlimited use of HydroMassage chairs, half-price cooler drinks and so much more. Learn more about Black Card perks at Tulsa Planet Fitness locations here.

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness - brendadalton.com

This promotion is available for Tulsa, Oklahoma-area Planet Fitness locations only, including:

Broken Arrow | Claremore | South Tulsa | Tulsa (Admiral) | Tulsa (Riverside) | Tulsa (Memorial)

Click here or one of the locations above and use promo code DaltonPF to activate your Planet Fitness Black Card membership for 2018 with $0 enrollment fee!

How to Make Hosting Stress-Free & Easy During Holidays

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.

How to Make Hosting Stress Free This Holiday Season

As with most, the holidays often include hosting at least one event, whether it is at your house or helping others prepare a glorious meal or fun little event to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and everything in between.

Unfortunately, for those of us with chronic illnesses, hosting can be a daunting cloud, filled with worry as to how everything will actually get done.

Before I was diagnosed with chronic illnesses, I loooooooved hosting get togethers and entertaining friends and family. Whether it was a holiday, shower or just a fun little party, I loved every aspect: The planning, the mood boards, the shopping, the prepping, the celebrating – everything!

However, now that my energy levels have decreased and I have to choose wisely on how I expend energy, I’ve come up with lots of shortcuts to make hosting stress-free and easy during the holidays.

Make lists

I’m the over-preparer in my family and lists are an absolute lifesaver for me when I’m hosting any sort of get-together. For example, for Thanksgiving, I have several lists:

  • Menu
    • By appetizers, main dishes, sides and desserts and who is bringing
  • Shopping lists
    • Broken down by perishables, freezer items and non-perishables
    • Broken down by store, if applicable
    • This makes it easy to break shopping into several trips over the course of a month!
  • Preparation timelines
    • I make my timeline over the course of the week or two (see the next section on preparing in advance!)
    • Timelines include food prep and cooking, plus things that will need to be done around the house, like cleaning, organizing, pulling items from storage and so on

Prepare in advance

Just as I mentioned in my baby shower post: prepare, prepare, prepare! When you have limited energy, this is key. The week before, I start pulling out utensils, platters, crockpots and store them in a corner of my dining room. Wash table linens early and store in a clean area.

Take advantage of shortcuts

Over the years — and thanks to technology, too! — I’ve found a number of shortcuts that have saved my life:

You don’t have to make each dish from scratch. This is by far the easiest time saver. Pick up a frozen pie or two, add a can of whipped cream and I guarantee your guests will be just as happy as if it was homemade! Frozen vegetables can easily be put on the stove with your choice of seasonings. And of course, frozen rolls, biscuits or bread can be ready in the oven in a matter of minutes.

Try online grocery shopping or delivery. Our local (and my favorite) grocery store in northeast Oklahoma, Reasor’s, offers online shopping and pickup at the curb.

When I have an especially large load of groceries, heavy items or I’m short on time and energy, I take full advantage of placing my grocery order online or through their app. I pull up to a designated parking spot, call the store and they bring my groceries out and load them into the car. This is such an energy (and pain) saver, especially when my arthritis flares up.

Most services have a small fee per order (Reasor’s is $5 for orders under $100) or charge a monthly or annual fee. I just got started with Shipt, a grocery delivery service, and can’t wait to report back on the experience! And a bonus: you can get $10 off your first order with Shipt when you click this link.

Start cooking early

You would be surprised at how many things you can cook or prepare in advance and/or freeze! This is such a lifesaver, because who wants to be mashing potatoes and slaving over a stove over relaxing and enjoying time with guests?

For our family, we make the cranberry sauce and applesauce as far as two weeks in advance and both freeze beautifully. Pull them out 48 hours before guests arrive and it tastes like it was made that morning.

Many folks like the presentation of a beautifully cooked bird and carve right at the table. I like to make it a bit easier and cook and carve the turkey the day before. About 30-45 minutes before serving, pull the oven-safe platter with your turkey out, pour a little stock on top and reheat until warm. Place on a beautiful platter and you’re ready!

I also like to prepare any sides in advance, a day or two before, then place all of the ingredients in plastic bags. For example, the bacon is cooked a day or two early, placed in a large bag with green beans. I then place any seasonings in a smaller plastic bag and ta-da, everything is ready to be dumped into a Crockpot or slow cooker to cook the day of.

Slow cookers are a miracle!

Speaking of green beans in a slow cooker, this is a major thing for me for any gathering, holiday or not. From appetizers to reheating main dishes, slow cookers can save you time, hassle and space in the oven.

Slow cookers may technically take longer, but it cuts prep time and worrying in half when you don’t have to check on items in the oven or worry something might boil over on the stove.

All in all, thanks to my shortcuts I’ve mastered over the years, holiday dinner prep comes to about one hour per day the week of Thanksgiving or Christmas and with the help of guests, less than an hour of prep and active work the day of!

Tell me in the comments: How do you make hosting or preparing for the holidays easier?

A Rustic Farm Baby Shower

Please note: I received products or promotional items mentioned in this post for free as part of the HP Millennial Influencer Panel. Links in this post may be affiliate. All opinions are my own.


A Rustic Farm Baby Shower

A Rustic Farm Baby Shower, complete with bundt cakes, rustic decor, farm animals, baby shower games and popcorn bar.

Over the weekend, we hosted a co-ed baby shower (more appropriately, a sprinkle!) for my sister and their new arrival. Rustic farm and barnyard is the theme of his nursery, so I wanted to pull together a simple party that surrounded that theme.

We focused on farm-fresh vegetables, cheeses and meats for light snacks, “pigs in a blanket” as a cute nod to the theme, and more bundt cakes than you could shake a stick at! We also incorporated flavored popcorns from a local vendor in Tulsa, which was also a feature at their wedding three years ago. Everything comes full circle!

Typically, the guest lists for baby sprinkles are small, so we kept games to a minimum with baby Pictionary and little activities like writing a wish for the baby and guessing his due date.

I created all of the printed items from the baby shower like the food and drink cards, welcome sign and more with InDesign and printed with the HP AMP 100. It was my first test drive using this HP printer as part of the HP Millennial Influencer Panel for the next year.

And the AMP isn’t your everyday printer. Not only is the quality of printing perfect for at-home printing for things like parties, showers and other get-togethers, the printer has bluetooth capability and a speaker. Yes, a speaker!

I’ll be honest: I was a bit skeptical of a bluetooth speaker in a printer. I didn’t think I would ever find it useful; however, when testing the speaker out by launching Spotify on my iPhone and connecting effortlessly to the printer, I was blown away by the quality of sound. Even my husband walked into the office and asked, “Is that coming from the printer?!” 

It has much better sound than my MacBook Air, which is what I usually listen to music on while I’m working. The tones are great and unlike other Bluetooth speakers that are smaller and/or cheaper, it has a nice, full sound. I wouldn’t mind using the HP printer‘s speakers during a party!

Tips for hosting parties when your energy level is low

As a reader of this blog, you probably know I have autoimmune diseases, arthritis and I’m pregnant! So to say I had boundless energy was far from the truth.

Prep in advance. I began designing the printed materials weeks in advance. By the week of the party, they were ready to print and be cut! The day before the shower, we began setting up the tablescapes and decor and arranging the flowers so we weren’t rushing around the day of the event.

Enlist help. It’s okay to ask for help! Just because you’re the host doesn’t mean you can’t have an army behind you making things a little easier and more organized. I sent my husband on errands, my mother to the grocery store and by the time everyone chipped in, it took a major load off my shoulders. All hands were on deck after the shower was over, too.

Have a seat. A good host greets their guests and makes sure they have a good time, but you, too, deserve a good time! Due to arthritis, it’s difficult for me to stand for too long, but I made sure there were plenty of places to sit and socialize during the shower. In fact, chairs are a top priority for any event I plan and host! Another tip: Make sure your seat is in a central location so you can keep an eye on things.

Who are your favorite people to enlist help from when it’s your time to host?

First Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.


First Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

First Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

Wait, why would I be an expert on first trimester goodies for pregnant women? That’s right: surprise! We’re expecting our first child in early 2018. We’re over the moon!

However, it didn’t matter how prepared I thought I was for pregnancy and all of its symptoms… It still surprised me the severity of some, especially while dealing with autoimmune disease like arthritis and thyroid disorder. Here are some of my favorite tips and items that made things go a little bit smoother those first 13 weeks!

Rest, nap, sleep, breathe… When you need it

The hardest thing for me to cope with during my first trimester was my guilt surrounding my need to nap… every single day. Even when my rheumatoid arthritis was at its worst, I had never felt more exhausted by simply waking up once I was pregnant.

It was a definite shock, but after I came to terms with the fact that is is more than okay to not only need a nap, but schedule one into each day, the easier things became. A sleep mask doesn’t hurt for those mid-day slumbers either.

Keep your doctors in the loop

If you’re like me and have chronic illnesses — most specifically autoimmune diseases — that you are currently on medication for, always make sure your doctors are in the loop. Personally, I have four specialist doctors who communicate between one another and decide the best treatment for my rheumatoid arthritis during my pregnancy.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the women who goes into remission during pregnancy, so I’ve remained on injections during pregnancy. In fact, my doctors were second to know (outside of my husband and I!) that I was pregnant so we could decide the best course of action. Always make sure your medications are approved by all your doctors, especially your obstetrician(s). And don’t be afraid to do your own research and ask questions. It’s now about you and your baby when it comes to your treatment!

A wedge pillow

You’ll see so many people tout how wonderful maternity pillows are, but if you’re early in your pregnancy, it may be a little too soon to jump into the full body pillow. I’m a lifelong stomach-sleeper, so to get myself prepared to sleep on my sides, I dipped my toe in the water: I bought a pregnancy wedge pillow.

And you guys, the hiccapop wedge has changed my life! Not only is it great for pregnancy, but it is awesome for arthritis, too. It’s primarily marketed mostly for sleeping at night, but I use it when driving as a back support (hello, tailbone pain), when I’m at my desk, on the couch… everywhere! There are so many ways to use it, too: between the legs, elevating your feet, behind your neck to sit up comfortably in bed. This is definitely my favorite first trimester purchase, hands down.

Belly band

I genuinely didn’t think I would need a belly band until well into my pregnancy. You can imagine my surprise when, at 11 weeks, I would pull on a pair of shorts or jeans like usual and when I would attempt to button them… no dice. Ingrid & Isabel belly bands have been my favorite so far and they come in a variety of colors.

Early in pregnancy, you can fold the band down (in half) for a little extra support for your tiny growing bump. As it gets bigger, simply unroll it to cover your whole stomach!

Pregnancy bath salts and thermometer

These two little babies go hand in hand. Experts say no hot tubs during pregnancy due to how hot the water can get, but I absolutely love taking baths, especially for my arthritis. I invested – ha! – in an incredibly affordable bath thermometer I found off Amazon. Works quickly, is accurate and gives me peace of mind when I take a bath.

My other favorite pregnancy bath product is Pink Stork Flakes. I originally picked these up because they claimed they could ease morning sickness… and it helps! Salts are a great way to relax your muscles and ease pain in your joints, whether you’re an arthritis warrior like me or dealing with regular pregnancy pains.

Preggie Pops

I admire and I’m a little jealous of women who go through pregnancy without any sort of morning sickness. Luckily for me, vomiting didn’t come around too often, but the nausea was almost debilitating for the first 10 weeks. While I was given prescription medication, I would still pop a Preggie Pop if I was having a particularly nauseating afternoon or driving somewhere… anywhere (oh yes, I had pregnancy car sickness!).

Now that I’m off the medication, I use these every now and then to combat the errant nausea. They last a long time and are easy to keep in your purse or pocket!


What are your favorite tips on getting through the first trimester of pregnancy?

It’s World Arthritis Day!

You guys, it’s World Arthritis Day! I’m currently part of the Cure Arthritis Crew, which helps bring awareness to and support research to help fight arthritis diseases. Check out the awesome resources from curearthritis.org to learn more about how you can make a big difference on World Arthritis Day.
 
Last year, I was finally diagnosed with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis after several years of mysterious pain and frankly, it has changed my entire life. Since then, I’ve learned a few things:

1) Invisible illness is real, y’all.

You may think the healthy-looking young man or woman taking up a seat on the bus, train or even a bench in the park is being selfish or parking in the handicap spot is wrong, but you may not know the pain they’re in. Someone may be super bubbly and seem totally physically capable out and about, but when they get home, they’re out of commission for an entire week because of pain. We’re good fakers.

2) It’s okay to be a “flake.”

I’ve lost touch with people because I either don’t have the energy to hang out, because of an arthritis flare or the activity is something I can no longer physically do. Some days are great days and some days are no-way-not-happening – you never know until it’s go-time. It’s also really difficult to see people you care about struggle – silence is sometimes how people cope with seeing others change with chronic illness.

3) Girl, you gotta rest.

Before my joint pain started, I used to do yoga, bike, run 5Ks and want to go-go-go on trips. I was even training for a half-marathon! Now, I’ve learned that I need to space out my physical activity (yes, even running errands, traveling, getting dressed up or social activities!). This was the hardest thing to learn and probably the most life-changing. I recommend looking up the spoon theory, if you’re interested in how this works!

4) Needles aren’t so scary anymore.

Now, I inject my arthritis medication myself on a weekly basis and have bloodwork done every 3-6 weeks. Even after several months of being on injections, sometimes when it’s time for me to inject, it’s almost impossible to find the courage to do it, but… it gets done. You can, too.

5) People with chronic illnesses of any kind are SO INCREDIBLY STRONG.

And when people reach out to others about how they’re physically feeling, it’s most likely because they can’t do it alone anymore. Finding the strength to reach out and ask for help is difficult, but makes you a total badass. For those of you with loved ones reaching out for help, lift those people up, support them. Everyone is fighting their own battle and we especially can’t compare our battles – physically or emotionally – with someone else’s. We all must speak up and support one another!
 
So, raise a glass to all of those folks battling arthritis diseases today – young and old! They’re some of the strongest people I know.

Fall Decor Finds on a Budget

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.


Fall decor finds on a budget

The best fall decor on a budget

 

1 Round Metal Wire Storage Basket  | 2 Pumpkin Gourd Garland | 3 Distressed Wood Lantern | 4 Set of Six White Pumpkins | 5 Metal Filigree Pumpkin Tealight Holder | 6 Round Metal Filigree Pumpkin Tealight Holder | 7 Autumn Wooden Sign | 8 Harvest Candle | 9 Large Distressed Pumpkin | 10 Burlap Jute Acorns

While most people go all-out for their holiday decor in December, I’m a little partial to the warm tones and coziness of what autumn brings! Bright orange pumpkins don’t have to be the main event when decorating for fall on a budget.

Throw in some warm colors like deep oranges and reds for a traditional focus on the season. For more of a glam, or even relaxed farmhouse feel, add some distressed whites and grays to your mantle to showcase those gorgeous white and neutral pumpkins this time of year!

There is often a debate as to how early is too early to decorate for fall. For some, it’s when the air starts to chill and even when the leaves start to turn. Being in Oklahoma, my guideline is just after Labor Day, the official end of summer since it can still be relatively hot even in October.

The gorgeous natural tones and the thought of cooler weather makes me want to turn on the fireplace and curl up with a good book and a warm drink!

6 Things You Must Do Before Emailing Your Subscribers

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer! These are simple tips to protect your blog or business in the world of digital marketing. If you have additional questions, touch base with a lawyer specializing in your niche to help protect you and your business.

Some of the links on the blog are affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission – at no charge to you! – if you click on a link and make a purchase. These affiliate links help us keep things running! Click here to view our disclosure policy.


6 Things You Must Do Before Emailing Subscribers - 835 Creative

Did you know there are laws regarding how you should manage your email list for your blog, organization or website? Before you start sending emails to your list (or if you already have!), be sure to review the highlights of what you can and can’t do with your email subscribers.

Why is the CAN-SPAM Act important?

The CAN-SPAM Act was passed in 2003 and helps protect consumers (or in this case, email recipients) from spammers. You’re probably thinking, “But I’m not a spammer!” I know. Me neither.

You can accidentally step into dangerous territory in the email marketing world without even realizing it, which can lead to some serious ramifications, like having your email address/domain blacklisted. Yikes!

In no fancy words, the CAN-SPAM Act helps keep businesses honest in their marketing practices and helps keep your inbox sparkly clean.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when emailing your subscribers, whether you have 5 email subscribers or 500,000:

Always get permission to email your subscribers

If you have a subscribe box or landing page (thanks, ConvertKit!) on your website or social media, your subscribers have opted-in, or given permission, for you to send them emails. This is the safest way to add subscribers to your list.

By having several places on your website where people can opt-in to your email list, you’re allowing them the option – and opportunity! – to invite you into their inbox.

That being said, there are a few ways to add subscribers to your email list when they don’t subscribe directly through your website.

If you’d like to add subscribers manually to your email list, you can ask them directly via email for permission, send them a survey about your services and add an opt-in checkbox at the bottom encouraging them to sign up for your mailing list or in the case of businesses that are at trade shows at events, have a sign-up sheet where people can add their email.

Here are some ways you cannot add people to your subscriber list:

  • Add people who email you for any reason
  • Add prospective clients who use your website’s contact form
  • Add clients who have not formally opted-in
  • Add people who have commented on your blog or website
  • Add people who interact with you on social media
  • Use email harvesting or bots to gain subscribers

Keep your subject lines honest

It’s 2017 and you’re using the internet, so you’re probably familiar with the term clickbait. More and more social platforms and news outlets are cracking down on the use of clickbait, where the title of an article encourages you to click on the website, but the website is either irrelevant or lacks the information it promised in its title.

No clickbait in your emails. Don’t title an email “This is the best deal ever created!” and then only offer 10% off your services or products. Make sure that the title of your email is directly relevant to what’s inside.

That’s not to say you can’t have fun creating clever, click-worthy titles to your emails. They just have to be relevant. If not, you could 1) be flagged as spam and/or 2) get a hefty fine.  

Keep your “From” lines honest, too!

By law, you’re required to be honest in who your emails are being “sent” from. That means you can’t place Justin Bieber’s name in the from line of your emails, unless of course, you work in the Biebs’ marketing department, sending emails out to his mailing list.

Here are a few examples of what you can place in your subject lines:

  • Your organization’s name (or any abbreviation)
  • Your name (First only or first and last or first, last and business name)
  • The name of a current employee of your business or organization
    • As long as it is relevant to the email and the employee approves it

Add a mailing address to your emails

This rule is probably the most broken… but don’t do it! You must have a mailing address in your emails. In fact, some email marketing platforms won’t let you send a single email until you’ve filled out your address. While you can add your home address, it is highly discouraged for obvious safety reasons.

Pro tip for online business owners: Sign up for a mailbox at a local UPS Store or a PO Box at your local post office. You can buy the smallest and/or cheapest option and ta-da! You have a business mailing address.

If you take advantage of a coworking space, many offer a mail service, which allows you to receive mail from that location and use the coworking space’s address as your email marketing contact address.

Place an unsubscribe link in every email

If you’re using a credible email marketing platform, an unsubscribe button or link is something that cannot be edited or removed from the emails you send. If not, make sure you’re placing a link for your subscribers to easily opt-out of your emails.

Depending on your email marketing platform, you can also link to a page that allows subscribers to choose how often they receive your emails, as well. 

The unsubscribe link must be placed at the bottom of every email and cannot be concealed so it’s difficult for your subscribers to find. I personally moved from MailChimp to ConvertKit about a year and a half ago and I’ve been incredibly thrilled with it since day one! Click here to sign up for ConvertKit.

Remove unsubscribers from your list within 10 days

If you’re using an email marketing platform, this is most likely on autopilot and you don’t have to worry. Websites like MailChimp, Constant Contact and ConvertKit take care of unsubscribes through the handy link that’s at the bottom of the emails you send.

However, if you’re sending your marketing emails and have a ‘Reply to’ email address, sometimes you’ll get an email from someone asking to remove them from their mailing list. No matter how many clients, big or small, I’ve had, it still happens. You’ll need to make sure they’ve been removed from your mailing list, stat! Okay, not ‘stat,’ but within ten days, max.


What are some of your biggest email marketing struggles? Let me know in the comments below!