one-handed recipe – healthy chocolate shake

photoI’ve had a lot of new projects and hobbies on my plate recently, and I thought it’d be a cool idea to share some of those even if they’re not related to the topics I usually post about here. I love writing about my experiences living life with a limb difference, but one of my main goals when I started this blog was to not focus only on my disability. My life is still really full and awesome, and I wanted this to be a place where I could share some of my other interests in addition to personal experiences as a woman with a disability. I mean, I’d be a pretty boring person if I just talked about being one-armed all the time, right?

So with that said, I’d love to share a simple recipe I tried out the other day in my quest to find healthy foods that still taste delicious. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately, so this is one of many recipe experiments (most of which turned out to be inedible failures) I’ve tried recently. I have a major sweet tooth, so I need something sugary to wake me up in the mornings. Here are the ingredients I used:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa powder

3-4 packets of Truvia (or whichever artificial sweetener you prefer)

I blended them together with my Magic Bullet (I love my Magic Bullet blender), and voila! Sometimes I add a bit of instant coffee too, since I’m also admittedly a caffeine addict. The shake makes for a filling snack or an after-dinner treat on most nights. Whichever meal you drink it with, enjoy.

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Don’t tell Daniel, but I stole his school travel mug.

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

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in the kitchen

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One thing no one warned me about when I was looking for an apartment to move out on my own is this: you’re going to need to learn how to cook. Frozen meals and takeout, while convenient, are not permanent solutions because A) they’re not the healthiest options in the world and B) they can get expensive. So for the first time in my life, it was just me versus the stove. And to give you some perspective on my level of cooking experience, my skills in the kitchen were essentially limited to pouring milk into my cereal bowl and burning toast. I was also very good at warming up leftovers my mom had made, and the microwave was my best friend. That’s about it. So I had a lot of catching up to do when I started living on my own last month.

To be clear, my lack of cooking skills had nothing to do with my limb difference. It had everything to do with laziness and the fact that my mother made all the family’s meals while I was growing up. So I didn’t need to learn how to boil rice or whip up an omelet. Now I no longer have an excuse or an easy way out, so I’ve learned to love the process of preparing food for myself (and sometimes for my family and my boyfriend.) No one who’s eaten my food has gotten sick or died yet, so I’m assuming that means I’m a decent chef.

Check out some of the dishes I’ve made:

Anyway, I’m aware that having a limb difference can seem like a challenge in the kitchen. But I can assure you that cooking awesome and delicious meals is totally doable with a few minor adjustments. I’ve spent the past month trying new dinner recipes and baking like a maniac (making sweets and treats is a WONDERFUL antidote for anxiety, trust me), so I’ve learned a few tricks that have helped me out immensely as a one-handed chef. Check them out below.

One-handed cooking problems (and solutions): 

Knives – One thing I learned the hard way is that you should never buy cheap cookware and kitchen gadgets. The plastic spatula I bought at WalMart melted the first time I used it, and my Ikea knife broke in half a week after I bought it. Lower quality knives are more difficult to use because they’re typically not as sharp. So I bought a set of very good and very sharp knives that allow me to easily slice through any food with one hand.

IMG_2140Salt and pepper grinders – These things are the WORST. I hate when I eat out at restaurants and they leave grinders on the table like they expect me to figure them out. (I usually end up either asking for help or just eating a bland meal.) Silly restaurants – salt and pepper shakers are so much more convenient! Seriously. BUT if you absolutely need grinders in your kitchen, then there are options. Several cookware companies now offer grinder designs that don’t require two hands to use. I bought a really cute bunny-shaped magnetized set from Chef’n.

Cracking eggs – Okay, this one wasn’t an issue for me. I actually found out just a few days ago that most people use two hands to crack an egg. Really?! Why would you use twice as much energy and effort when it’s so simple to do it with one? I guess I’ve had a bit of practice with this. I can recall plenty of times when I was a kid and helping my mother bake cupcakes for school, eagerly cracking the eggs over the bowl and hoping that one of them would contain a baby chick that I could keep as a pet. Anyway, click the image below to see how I crack eggs just in case you were wondering:

How to crack an egg with one hand #cooking #eggs #food #onehanded

Cutting steak/chicken/etc. – This one’s not really related to cooking, but it’s something I’ve always struggled with. I suck at using knives to cut up my food when I’m eating dinner. I mostly just use the side of my fork to slowly cut through whatever I’m eating until the piece comes off. But recently, my cousin gave me a set of Knorks that have made the process easier. Knorks (knife/fork, get it?) are basically forks whose sides can double as knives to help cut through food. The company makes a variety of flatware, but the forks are the ones I find to be the most useful. The utensils are heavy as heck too, so prepared to grow some muscles. See? They even have fitness benefits.

So those are my super-secret one-handed cooking tricks, for now. As I continue to try more recipes and projects, I may run into different issues specific to my one-handedness. And hopefully I’ll be able to find solutions and alternatives in those cases. But if anything else comes up, I’ll be sure to let you know.

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

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guest post – a sister’s perspective on difference

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A few days ago, I asked my younger sister Meaghan if she would write a guest post on what it’s been like growing up with a sister who has a limb difference. She’s a talented writer and has her own blog, Hope in the Little Moments. So I’m pretty confident you’ll enjoy her piece.

I used to call it her “Baby Arm.” I was probably about six at the time, and she didn’t seem to mind this nickname. In fact, she would indulge my happiness over the fact that my older sister was unique. Drawing a face and hair at the end of her shortened limb with a Sharpie, she’d tuck her littler arm into the other, cradling it like a real baby. I really got a kick out of this. Sometimes she even threw a blanket over the arm to form the “baby’s” body, and I would laugh and be in awe of how my sister was able to pull off such an awesome trick.

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Matching outfits, circa 1997

Gradually, as I grew older, I realized that maybe it wasn’t right to be pointing out the fact that she was special, that she could do things that I couldn’t or – more often than not – that I could do things that she couldn’t. This tiny seed of awareness began to take root when my mother became increasingly furious every time I talked to my sister about her “baby arm” or even mentioned the loving term. I wondered what the big deal was. I was only showing my sister my appreciation of this difference that made her amazing in my eyes, but my mother shot me down. That was when I took note of how others would look at the girl who would walk beside me to school each day.

People turned away. They looked shocked. Children would point. Adults would point. But mostly, there was pity in their eyes. That…that I just didn’t understand.

One day a few summers ago, as I was walking with my mom to the supermarket, I saw a man in a power scooter trying to maneuver around sidewalk construction. He slowly (and with obvious difficulty) drove around the planks on the ground, getting his back wheel slightly stuck in one of the ditches between the wooden frames. Making his best efforts to find a spot that would grant him safe transportation from the elevated walkway to the street inches below, the man moved his joystick back and forth, searching for the best angle to make his way down. That’s when I heard a click of the tongue beside me that was followed by a deep sigh.

“What, Ma?” I wanted to know.

“It’s just,” she sighed once more. “Look at the poor, poor man!” She practically shouted this, as her ‘discreet voice’ was overridden by her innate Hispanic loudness. “I mean, he isn’t even able to cross the street. Can you imagine that, Meaghan? That’s so sad!”

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Done with the era of matching outfits (thank God)

Her face was full of pity and her eyes were slightly wet. I honestly don’t know if the man in the scooter heard us or if he ever actually made it off that broken sidewalk, but I was filled with so much shame that I just turned around and walked home by myself.

I didn’t think that the man deserved to be pitied. Sure, he may have had some difficulty crossing the street when there was a huge obstacle around him, but he would eventually overcome it. Yeah, maybe he’d gone through a great deal more than the average Joe, but that’s what made him awesome and unique, not pitiable.

Though my sister may have a limb difference, she is no less capable of doing things than anyone else. Sometimes the challenges in front of her may be more difficult than they are for me, but that’s what has made her such a strong person over the years. She doesn’t accept when the world tells her “No,” so she decides to answer back with a whopping, “Screw you! I can play guitar if I want to. AND run my own blog. AND work a full-time job. AND still be fabulous doing it all. What’s stopping me? This arm? What?! No! No to you, universe! I can do anything I set my mind on doing.”

And the great part about that all is that she basically does. She’s taught me to be bold and fight for what I want, something I tend to be hesitant about ever doing. Though she may not know it, she guides me and teaches me to be humble and accepting of others.

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Family time

One of the awesome things that has happened in my life recently is that I found a boyfriend. The amazing guy I met was strangely a little worried that I wouldn’t accept all of him. He thought I knew already, since we’d been friends before and had clearly seen him limping around campus, but I was surprised to discover that he had a club foot as a baby and had to have a surgery that left one foot much smaller and more twisted than the other. I laughed because I couldn’t believe he thought I’d reject that part of him; I actually think it’s cute, to be honest. It’s like a little “Baby Foot,” if I could exhume the nickname. So perhaps I didn’t care because I grew up around a sister whose limb difference taught me about accepting others with each and every part that makes them who they are.

Then again, maybe I didn’t care because it’s nothing worth really caring too much about anyway. It’s just…them.

 

Always,

Meaghan

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(role) model shaholly ayers

1911_550280571679024_415004854_nShaholly Ayers is the type of girl you can easily picture gracing the cover of any major fashion magazine. She’s tall and tanned with beautiful exotic features and the kind of perfect figure that women spend countless hours at the gym trying to achieve. She’s also very photogenic. So it’s not hard to believe that she’s a model. But Shaholly is up against some pretty tough odds when it comes to the fashion industry. It’s hard enough trying to make it in the modeling world when you have the looks and the talent, but Shaholly has something else that makes her unique in her chosen field: she was born without her right arm below the elbow. But if you think that’s deterred her from pursuing her passion in any way, you couldn’t be more wrong. Shaholly is determined to become the first amputee model to make it in the fashion world.

I recently had a Skype chat with Shaholly and asked her a few questions about her work as a model and her future goals. Read on:

So how did you get started in modeling?

Ever since I was a little kid, I loved posing for the camera and always wanted to be the center of attention. But as I grew up, I really started to feel that there was a stigma with disability in society. People said things to me like, “Oh, you’d be so pretty if you had two arms.” But I’m pretty just the way I am. I grew up thinking that I was perfectly fine and that there was nothing wrong with me. So when other people started saying condescending things, it made me realize that I was different. And now I’m determined to change other people’s notions of what it means to be beautiful. So my interest in modeling goes a lot deeper for me. It’s not all about just looking pretty. It’s a big statement I’m making on behalf of people like myself, who are amputees and who look different.

49526a1d05a86How old were you when you started modeling?

I entered my first modeling competition when I was 12. I remember getting really upset because I got honorable mention but no awards. My mom didn’t let me enroll in any more competitions after that. So I had to wait until I was 18 to really pursue it once I moved out.

Have you been to any any auditions where they commented on your arm or dismissed you because of it?

I tried out for America’s Next Top Model several times. I went the farthest in cycle 13, when they featured the shorter models – I’m 5’7″. I made the top 20, but I was surprised that I made it so far without anyone mentioning my arm. That was very different from my experience at the first modeling agency I went to. It was when I first got to Hawaii and didn’t have a portfolio but thought I’d give it a try. The people at the agency told me there was no way I would ever model, that having one arm meant I would never get signed. The woman said that she didn’t see anybody taking my photograph and that it was never going to happen for me. So that was my first encounter with modeling.

What has been your proudest moment as a model?

After being told by the first agency I visited that I would never be a model because of my arm, I worked hard to build up my portfolio. I went to photographer after photographer and started working with as many people as I could. Some of the photoshoots were bad, but overall I got a lot of good photographs out of the experience. When I went back to that same agency some time later and showed them my portfolio, the woman looked through it and immediately signed me. She said there was no way that she could turn me away after looking at my pictures. It went full circle, so that was really cool.

74410_549563358417412_1613244659_nIn some of your photos, you’re wearing a prosthetic. How do you feel about prosthetics in general? Do you prefer to wear one? 

I think a prosthetic is a tool, and I think it’s a very positive thing. I had one when I was little and used it all the time. But as I grew older and went through puberty, I had a stick-it-to-the-man attitude about it because I wanted to just be myself and not have to conform. So I took it off. But what I soon realized was that sometimes I need it. So I use my prosthetic when I work out and when I’m kayaking or paddleboarding, but it’s not something I use day-to-day. I think it’s also a tool when it comes to modeling. As a model, I’m going to have to fill out shirts and jackets. I don’t think wearing my prosthetic in that situation is negative at all. If anything, I can make it part of my outfit or make it really ornate and cool. If there’s something I want to convey that I can better convey with the prosthesis, then I’ll go with that. Otherwise, no. So I’m fine with both, but I’m more comfortable with it off because I can move better. It just depends on the situation. But whether or not I’m wearing my prosthetic, I don’t let it define me. I am my own person.

What sort of pressure have you, as an amputee model, felt from the industry or from people commenting on your role as a model?

When I first started out, there was a lot of hiding. Photographers often don’t want to show my arm, so I was turning to the side and hiding myself in the beginning because they would work with me only if they didn’t see my arm. But I felt like the industry forced me to be somebody else in order to create an image that wasn’t me and wasn’t the whole truth. I think the media and the society we live in pressure us women to think that we have to be perfect, that just because I’m missing a portion of my arm somehow means that I’m less of a person by beauty standards. That got to me a lot because no matter how much makeup you put on me, I’m still going to be missing my arm. That was difficult for me to deal with, especially when I was younger.

Were you ever teased or picked on because of your arm?

Yes, I was. I actually think that molded me and helped me to become who I am. I mean, it was hard. I grew up in a small town in central Oregon, and children weren’t the only ones who stared and made comments. When it was a kid who did it, I was a lot more understanding. But I never thought adults could be so mean too. In high school I was picked on by both teachers and students. My track coach used to refer to me as the “one-armed freak,” and I was teased quite a lot. I used to wear long-sleeved shirts to hide my arm because I didn’t want people to see it. I did that for about a year until finally – I think it was in seventh grade – I decided that I didn’t care anymore what people thought of me. It made me strong to say, “This is who I am, like it or not.” And I still got crap for it – I still do to this day. You don’t get used to that, but you learn how to deal with it.

4af60fcd226eeThe fashion world is very exclusive and usually sticks to a very rigid ideal of beauty. Do you think the industry will soon open up to diversity and include models with disabilities?

They’d better! I can just see it. Right now, I’m excited because there are so many women out there changing the way people look at disability. There’s Nicole Kelly, who was just crowned Miss Iowa and will compete in the Miss America pageant. And then there’s Sarah Herron who was on The Bachelor. I think that it’s only a matter of time before the fashion world embraces this kind of diversity. I mean, Lady Gaga is so avant garde and out there. Why not take somebody who was actually born that way, with a physical difference, and use her as a model? I honestly feel like this is right around the corner.

Who do you look up to in terms of inspiration?

I really admire the artist P!nk. She’s so strong and ballsy, I love it! She speaks her mind and I think she’s a great role model.

What advice or words of wisdom do you have for young kids with limb differences or disabilities who have big dreams?

Go for your dreams, whatever they are. Whether or not you’re disabled, people like to tell you that you’re never going to accomplish your dreams. Ever. But you have to listen to your inner voice and be true to yourself anyway. All of us have that drive and that voice inside us that says, “No, I’ve got this and I can feel this.” Follow that voice, no matter what your passion is.

I’ve read a lot about an organization called Models of Diversity. What’s your role with them?

This is a really cool story. When I first started modeling, I heard about a show called Britain’s Missing Top Model. I looked up one of the models competing on the show, Debbie van der Putten, and contacted her through a modeling website about wanting to be on the show. That was five years ago. In December of last year, Debbie emailed me and told me that they’d actually been using some of my modeling images to promote the show! It was very coincidental that I met her. And she was involved with Models of Diversity, an organization committed to promoting differences in the fashion world. Angel, who is the founder, wanted to use me as one of their models. So that’s how it all started.

What are you working on right now and what upcoming projects are you excited about?

At the moment, I’m acting in a movie that we’re going to start filming soon. It’s called Olympia Reborn and it’s an independent film, so it should be shown at the different film festivals. I’m very excited about that because I’ve never acted in my life, so it will be something new for me. I’m also hoping that I will be going to the U.K. soon. I’m trying to get more recognition and put some money together so that I can fly over there and get work as a model. I’m  filming a documentary for Models of Diversity right now too. It’s a new campaign for them. And I’m looking at putting together my own prosthetics company in the near future, so I’m trying to get all the people together for that.

 

Follow Shaholly on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

 

(I do not own any of the images in this post)
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media monday – april lockhart covers ‘i love it’

Happy Monday!

Start your week off with April Lockhart’s cover of Icona Pop’s “I Love It.” This girl seriously rocks. I’m so impressed by her talent and confidence.

Peace,
Caitlin Michelle

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