Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Hey! Read This If Your Hands Go Numb When You Look At Your Phone

We're a tech-heavy crowd here - by which I mean we're on our phones and computers a lot - so I bet some of you have your hands go numb while you're typing or looking down. Am I right?

My fingers started going numb probably 4-5 years ago, usually while I slept. I'd wake up and shake my hands around wildly to get the feeling back, not realizing the problem wasn't in my wrists, but my neck. Eventually I learned that a few neck twists looking over my shoulders would bring the feeling back, but even then I blamed it on tight shoulder muscles, and didn't think much of it.

Over the years the numbness got worse, though, so I finally did some Googling and found a name: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Even better, I found a diagram showing exactly where the problem is:

via Johns Hopkins

The culprits are the scalene muscles, which connect the neck to the clavicle. Things like "tech neck" and poor posture cause the muscles to tighten over time, pulling in the clavicle and constricting the nerves underneath against the top rib. The result is hand and arm numbness, tinging, pain, etc. (I'm not a doctor, of course, so hit that link to Johns Hopkins to learn more.)

The diagram was a revelation. Now when parts of my hand went numb I stopped simply twisting my neck - which was working less and less - and instead banged on my neck with my knuckles, all over the scalene area. This worked like a charm, but never lasted long. As soon as I lifted my arms or looked down at my phone again, the numbness would come back. It shifted around, too; sometimes my thumb and forefinger were out, other times the entire pinky side of my hand. My fingers would also ache from time to time, deep down.

I mentioned the numbness to our chiropractor many times, but nothing he did ever helped. So save your dollars if you're considering chiropractic; TOS is a muscle issue.

Over the years the numbness went from an occasional nuisance in the morning to an almost constant impediment. I was stopping over a dozen times a day to bang on my neck, and when we volunteered as painters a few months back my hands were so numb I couldn't hold the brush without stopping every few feet, for fear of dropping it. I knew that TOS doesn't cause permanent damage, so I wasn't worried, but it was so. dang. frustrating.

Now here's where we turn to the good news. Yayyyy.

If you've researched Thoracic Outlet Syndrome then you know the recommended treatment option of "physical therapy" is annoyingly vague. I couldn't find any recommended stretches or exercises, just repeated recommendations of "physical therapy." Harrumph. I'd been doing yoga almost every night since before Christmas, but that wasn't helping, no matter how many neck and shoulder stretches I did. So with the only other options being surgery or nerve blocks, I finally caved and asked John to find a physical therapist.

We were directed to an osteopath, which is a doctor who uses "physical manipulation" in addition to conventional medicine. Osteopaths aren't as common here in the U.S. as they are in Europe, but I'd heard good things. (It was an osteopath in the Netherlands who helped my mom recover full range of motion in her arm decades after a car accident, something no other doctor or chiropractor had been able to do.)

As soon as I sat on the table the osteopath and his assistant raised my arm, tilted my head back and to the side, and took my pulse. How's this for fascinating, y'all: because TOS constricts blood flow as well as nerves, they can diagnose TOS by a diminished pulse. They could even tell that my left arm was worse than my right, just by my pulse! So within two minutes I had an official diagnosis of "severe" TOS. Not the worst he'd ever seen, but definitely bad.

This is getting kinda long, so
as the TikTokkers say, let me skip to the good part.

I've had one 15-minute treatment a week for 6 weeks, and while I'm not fixed yet, I'm happy to report my hands only go numb a few times a day now. Considering it took most of my adult life to develop TOS, this much improvement in a month and half is incredible, and honestly more than I hoped for.  It's actually more frustrating now when my fingers go numb, because I'm not used to them being numb all the time anymore - and that's a wonderful feeling.

I also won't keep you in suspense; I'm going to tell you what the treatment is. Mostly because it is absolutely fascinating, and something I couldn't find online. Hopefully this will help if you're considering physical therapy yourself.

It's, uh, also quite painful. The description may bother you a bit if you're squeamish.

As the doc explained it to me, the scalene muscles are too tight and need to be stretched, but there's no way we can stretch them ourselves. Instead we need a doctor to stretch the muscles for us.

To do this, the doc pulls my arm out at a right angle, applying constant pressure, and uses his other hand to dig his fingers in above my collar bone. He gets a grip around the collar bone with hooked fingers, and yanks. He uses all his strength, bracing his foot on the table below me and leaning back with his body weight. Then he stays like that, for several, excruciating minutes.

It hurts, y'all. And apparently it looks like this:

Friday, March 25, 2022

HIP HOP DON'T STOP: My Top 10 Dollar Tree DIYs For Easter

'Allo and happy Friday, my furry monster tree-loving friends! (AKA, my people.) I wasn't expecting quite so many votes in favor of furry monster Easter eggs last post, so feel free to help me brainstorm ways to not end up with a pile of pastel tribbles. Although, let's be honest, none of us would be mad at pastel rainbow tribbles. (Especially ones with 'uge pointy teeth.)

{Hey John, could you photoshop Kirk wearing bunny ears in a giant pile of pastel tribbles for me? Kthxluvyoubye.}



{Happy Easter to meeeeee}

Now I know it's bad form to do two craft posts in a row, but I've been amassing an EGG-cellent list of Dollar Tree DIYs, and hey, this gives you plenty of time to make a few.

Starting with:

1) This wire egg wreath that's all the rage in my craft groups:

(By Mary Ellen in Dollar Trees Creative Minds, click through for her materials list.)

It's made with two DT wreath forms clam-shelled together with zip-ties, and filled with moss and faux eggs.

People are decorating these so many different ways, and I love all the variations! From soft Shabby Chic like that one, to bright and bold like this:
You could even go pastel rainbows if you wanted. Eh?


2) Dapper Bunnies

I'm in 3 or 4 different craft groups specifically for Dollar Tree, and the other hot trend right now is taking these plain DT bunnies:

... and dressing them up in adorable lil' outfits and accessories using the DT fabric squares:

So. Stinkin'. CUTE. And they look like they'd cost $15 each at Home Goods, easy.

(Both sets by Michal M. in Dollar Trees Creative Minds)

D'awww. And let's just assume the "Free Carrots" sign placement is completely innocent. ::grin::


3) Egg-Shaped Wreaths

Dollar Tree carries a bunch of shaped wire wreath forms, so the challenge is filling them out without breaking the bank. Here's a cheap and clever solution: use a shower puff!

Shower puffs are made of giant tubes, so there are no snaggy edges like with with deco mesh. Brilliant! Plus I love how Denise used the long stemmed spray at the bottom, that's lovely.

I promise I'll stop showing you two of everything after this; I just have a hard time picking only ONE favorite.

(Destiny S. in Dollar Tree Crafts)

Besides, these colors are AHHHH-mazing. Who'd have thought of lavender, yellow, and fuchsia together? And with the bright white daisies and carrots? Swoonsville.


4) Eggy Topiary Tree

Teeny topiarys are always in style, and check this out:

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

DIY Chonky Velvet Mushrooms: The Cheaper, Dollar Tree Way!

There's an excellent mushroom DIY by Emma of ystreetstudio over on Instagram, and as soon as my Craft Night crew saw it, they put in requests to make our own.

So good, right? And a fairly simply process, so of course I was onboard.

That is, until John and I went to JoAnns and saw the price of those large Styrofoam balls. o.0

Aw HECK no. Even with one ball making two 'shrooms, this drives the material cost up to about $15 each! If you're a lone crafter that might be doable, but our Craft Night averages 4 to 6 people, so... nuh-uh.

(Smaller foam balls cost less, of course, but I wanted nice chonky 'shrooms like Emma's.)

(Also "Chonky 'Shrooms" is my new favorite phrase. It's so fun to say! Seriously, try it.)


So off to Dollar Tree we went, because I was determined to DIY these fun guys on a DT budget.

It took a few days and some trial and error, but y'all, we did it.

Behold mah big mushy babies!

Hang on, that's not the best photo - it's more for size reference. Here are some better angles:

My fairy ring is a-growing.

I love the pleated undersides:

Though you have to get real low to see the yellow one's:

I made each one a little different, so you can see a variety of styles and heights.

My total cost per 'shroom was about $4, and could be even less, depending on what's in your craft stash. (I had the white velvet, so we only needed to buy the base pieces & top fabric.) These are great for group crafts, or for amassing your own magical mushy forest.

Ready to see how?



Friday, March 18, 2022

Let's Spend A Rainy Day At Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival

Hallooo, happy Friday! Ready for a virtual Disney trip?

John and I haven't had Disney passes in years - even before Covid we'd let them lapse - so when our cast member friends Christie & Chris invited us to Flower & Garden at Epcot last week, we jumped at the chance.

It was a gray, rainy day, and we were all drenched under our umbrellas even before making it to the park. (Epcot still isn't running the trams.) Getting caught in a downpour is kind of fun, though, and I like the challenge of taking photos in that watery, desaturated light:

Plus this was my first time seeing the return of the crystal plinths in person! Ahh, this sight made my retro-Epcot-loving heart happy, I couldn't wait to see them lit after dark.

I wore my Ukraine colors that day, and these combat boots are the best rain shoes I have.

I had a pocket full of blue-and-yellow silk flowers I pinned on our friends, and to give to anyone who complimented us, but sadly no one did. I think the rain made the crowds a little less sociable.

My phoenix necklace seemed the most appropriate.

Now back to Epcot, which still has most of Future World hidden behind construction walls.

The walls divert you to the sides of Spaceship Earth, so the area behind it - where the big fountain and Club Cool used to be - is blocked off.

Instead you're brought around by Living with the Seas and The Land.

Anyone else thinking someone at Disney is a BTS fan? :D

I didn't see any new topiaries this Festival (boo), but Disney shuffled them around to new spots, at least.

Many of the topiaries have better backdrops for crowd-free photos, which is awesome. Even with the rain and on a weekday afternoon in the off-season, Epcot was bustling. Apparently it's true that there are no more slow days at Disney.


There were so many people I had to master the art of the off-center cropped photo to get most of these shots, haha. Just imagine a bunch of heads and elbows an inch off to every side.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Stepping Out: Spooky Cookies, An Epic Thrift Score, & Criminal Cats

Happy Tuesday, 'bots! I bring you the mug shot of an unrepentant criminal:

Last night while I was trying to read in bed this little gremlin yowled at the door until I let her in, then scrambled over my book and rubbed poop on my arm, and finally - while I was scrubbing myself clean in the bathroom - gnawed off the ribbon bookmark attached to my book. I came back just in time to see her slurp it down, looking extremely satisfied with herself.

So now we're on poop patrol for the next 48 hours, and why do we put up with this?

Oh, right, that's why.


(Y'all send good poop vibes our way, yeah?)

Meanwhile I'm writing this post with my keyboard in my lap:

... because Suki has decided I can't work without her RIGHT HERE. She bullies her way up, stepping on the keyboard if I don't snatch it away, kicks it off into my lap, and then closes her eyes like she can't hear me yelling at her, purring loudly enough to rattle the monitor stand.


In happier news, we've had a run of "bonus winter" down here in Florida, with temperatures dropping all the way to the mid-60s.

[I'll pause here for you northerners to sputter indignantly and tell me how cold it is there, ha]

While everyone else was breaking out the boots and sweaters, I was bopping around in my latest and greatest thrift score:

Friday, March 11, 2022

Thirst Trap E.T., Behind-The-Scenes At Fraggle Rock, & Princess Bride Memes - Because It's FRIDAY, Dangit

Hiya, my splashy rain puddles of joy, how's your week been? John and I spent a stormy afternoon at Epcot today - which will be your yesterday - so I'm sitting with my feet up, drying my socks. We had a lovely, soggy time - our first visit since 2019! -  and if my photos seem interesting I'll pop them in a post for you next week.

For now, though, I found many ridiculous, cool, and ridiculously cool things to show you. Starting with this absolutely hypnotic tentacle collar by Casey Curran:
I'm guessing you'll either love this truly, madly, deeply, or find it unsettling. Or both. (Both is good.) Either way, we need an Ursula cosplay with it, STAT.

Check out Curran's Instagram account for more other-worldly art and kinetic couture, it's a wild ride.


Ah, here's something you'll all love: Tyler Harron, the production designer on the new Fraggle Rock, is a member of the fan group Jim Henson's Creature Shop. That's pretty amazing in itself, to have an IP creator hanging with the fans, but get this: Tyler has been sharing dozens and dozens of his behind-the-scenes photos in the group!


I love that all the sets are real, not CGI. And the lighting. Wowie.

How badly do you want to be helping out on this set? (Dibs on Marjory The Trash Heap. I feel like she and Junk Lady would be two peas in a pod, ha.)

Tyler also shared build photos, both of sets:

And characters:

Doozers! I don't care who you are, you want to pinch those lil' cheeks.


Click over to Jim Henson's Creature Shop to see the rest of Harron's photos - there are so many more.
I've only watched the first episode of Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock, btw, so I don't have an opinion on it yet. I loved the nostalgia blast, and it looks amazing, just have to see how the writing and stories go from here. How about you, have you seen it? Any thoughts?


Now let's check in with one of my all-time favorite Facebook groups, Weird and Wonderful Secondhand Finds.

Marjorie found a Trojan cat, y'all.


What a time to be alive.

Front view:

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

10 Amazing Artists In Ukraine You Can Support Right Now

For this month's art roundup I thought it'd be fitting to highlight some indie artists from Ukraine - and since I fell down the rabbit hole, you get about twice as many as my usual art roundups, awww yeah. (I had to force myself to stop; so much great art!)

I did my best to only feature artists who currently live in Ukraine, so we can support folks on the ground who need it most. This took some detective work, since there's a lot of hashtag misuse out there (grrr). That also means some of these artists' home feeds will include disturbing imagery of destruction from the war. Just a heads up.

Many of today's artists have digital downloads available, so we can purchase their work and support them even while they're not able to ship physical products. I'm also including some artists who don't have digital options, because 1) their art is incredible and I want you to see it, and 2) even just following on Instagram is a form of support, a way to say, "We see you." So please, follow and send supportive messages to your favorites here! Virtual hugs still count.

Beginning with Alexandra of @DogArtae:

Her colored pencil pet portraits are INCREDIBLE,  y'all.

Alexandra is a young mom, and her IG feed right now includes her kids smiling in a make-shift bomb shelter.

The good news is Alexandra has fled Ukraine and is currently safe in Poland, where she's doing her best to continue working. You can still order commissions and prints, but for now I'd recommend purchasing her digital downloads instead. Head to Alexandra's Etsy shop to see all of her digital options like these:


Next, Valentyna of @valli.d:

Her art has a sweet storybook style:

Valentyna created a poster we can purchase and download digitally to help support her:

 It's an instant download on Etsy, click over to see.


Daniel of @daniel.skripnik has been painting sunflowers to show support for his home:

Friday, March 4, 2022

We Toured Disney's New Galactic Starcruiser: Part 2!

I'm back and we have parsecs more to go, bots & droids, so walk/roll this way:

The cruise cabin hallway views are SO satisfying. Ahhhh. Just try not to imagine two twin padawans holding hands at the end and asking you to play with them.

Our preview night had two cabins open for our gawking pleasure: a standard size and a suite. Let's start with the standard, and work our way up.

Like the hallway, the cabin design is extremely satisfying: so many doors, hatches, and bits of furniture that fit seamlessly into the walls. There's a pull-out table & seats on the far wall, and see the little handle on the lower right of the viewport? That leads to an emergency exit of sorts: it looks like a closet, but I believe if you push through the far wall it actually goes outside the building. o.0

The viewport has moving spacescapes beyond it, but is suuuper glare-y, and almost impossible to photograph or film well. Boo. We did play with the buttons that lower the shield, though.

On the right under the TV screen is a fold-down bunk, and to the left of the bed are these adorable bunk beds:

The bunks are roomier than they look; over 6 feet long. The urge to crawl inside one was strong, but I figured the other people in there might disapprove.  (I had to wait for a break in the crowd to get these people-free shots.)

Loooove the pops of orange.

The bathroom feels like any other cruise ship bathroom, except for the nifty Death Star lights on the mirror:


Now let's scoot over to the suite, which is about to make this standard size cabin feel like a clown car.


Tuesday, March 1, 2022

We Toured Disney's New Galactic Starcruiser With The Cast & Crew. Come See!

My NDA lifts today, bots and babes, and while I'm the last in line of media coverage to hit the internet (all other press was allowed to post 2/25), I'm grateful for the extra time to collect my thoughts, ride out the emotional high, and sort through my hundreds of photos and dozens of videos. I've also been watching the flood of media coverage - largely negative, but not entirely. So that's all in my head today.

So what am I talking about? WELL. Let me tell you.

Last week John and I received a last-minute invitation to the exclusive entertainment cast preview onboard the new Star Wars' Starcruiser Halcyon. (!!) This was not a media event. This was not a guest event. This was only for the Halcyon entertainment cast & crew - just over a hundred individuals - who each were allowed 2 guests for a 4-hour tour. Most brought their spouses and family, others their closest friends. Needless to say this was an incredible honor, and legitimately a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I'm still reeling. More on that to come.

Because this was not a press event, I'm going to tread carefully with this post. John and I saw things not meant for the public, and besides our CM friend who invited us, we also knew a lot of people there and chatted with many of the off-duty cast. We got a lot of background info and even a few insider scoops, which was just, super awesome. I'm going to respect the performers and the Disney magic, though, by not revealing any cast member names. You also won't find any sneaky backstage photos or anything unbecoming to the show here. You will, however, find lots and LOTS of spoilers. I'm about to tell all, so if you want to be surprised during your own Halcyon stay, turn back now.

This preview was so the cast could perform for their loved ones and show what they've been working on all this time, and you could feel it. The energy, the affection. Every person working that night was working for someone they loved, and every person in the crowd was personally rooting for someone on stage or behind the scenes. It felt like a giant family reunion... combined with a school play... except on a Disney level. ::silent happy flailing::

To give the full cast a chance to perform, I noticed the on-stage characters switched out through the night. They would never do this for press or guests, because it could be confusing to see two different cruise directors, captains, etc.

Gaya's manager, Raithe, looks a LOT like Joe Rhode. Back me up on this, Dizgeeks.

So with all that said, obviously this isn't going to be a typical media review. In fact it won't be a review at all, but more of a "come with me while we see and do SUPER COOL STUFF on one of the most amazing nights of my life."


Sweet. C'mon, we're running through this lightsaber arch: