Product Review: Foster-Stephens, inc White Heirloom Wedding Gown Storage and Preservation Box

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

This past week, my husband found a $100 Visa gift card and did a very kind thing for me. He gave me the gift of a wedding dress preservation box, something I had been dying for months to get.

I loved my dress. I loved it so much I wrote an article on Offbeat Bride about it. But I love my husband more.

My husband and I have been through some real hell. There is no doubt in the medical professionals’ minds that I have PTSD although I’ve been saying that for years in an attempt to get help. It all exploded when I married Bear. I exploded HUGE twice.

I’ve got some major guilt about what I’ve done in the light of my PTSD. But I’ve started trauma therapy (and missed one day due to being extremely ill) and hope that I’m on the path to recovery. Bear is who I want and who I love. He’s who I am eternally grateful for in the midst of all this crazy inner turmoil.

Lately I’ve come to realize that Bear is a human being *GASP* who has dreams, and gets frustrated and anxious when those dreams are delayed or seem thwarted. This realization came to fruition with the writing of my next book, when my beta readers wouldn’t get back to me, finding editors and agents, and not knowing my way around the book world whatsoever.

I mean, I always knew that Bear had dreams, interest, and goals. But the experience of chasing after things most people would deem trivial, such as Master Gardener, while constantly being thwarted by circumstance, enabled me to understand him on a deeper level.

When it comes to marriage, it’s easy to make the bogeyman out of your spouse, but most of the time they have good intentions. At least that’s the case with mine.

Anyways, those are my marital musings of the day, on to the review!

Product Review: Foster-Stephens, inc White Heirloom Wedding Gown Storage and Preservation Box

The Foster-Stephens box arrived in style with a neat color scheme and design. But because it’s a box within a box within a box, the actual box that holds the dress ripped when I attempted to take it out. This wedding dress preservation kit is all cardboard.

The box within the box whose corner ripped.

It’s an attractive box, in a grandma sort of way. Cheaply made and flimsy, we only paid $75 when some kits are over $200. As I was working to put the acid-free tissue around my dress, the cardboard box was bending.

This is the inside bottom of the box where the DIY bustier form is. I could somewhat make the cardboard bustier, but it was too large for my wedding dress as my dress had an empire silhouette. Or maybe it just wasn’t cooperating. In the end I stuffed my dress with acid-free paper provided with the box.

I don’t know how I was supposed to wrap the rest of my dress and stuff my bodice with the acid free paper provided because the pieces were so small. My dress doesn’t even have a train.

The DVD included with the information zip-lock, I just watched their YouTube video.

This Wedding Dress Preservation Kit Comes With

  • DIY Cardboard bustier
  • Window viewer
  • Acid-free paper
  • Cardboard box
  • DVD
  • Instructions with how to watch on You-Tube

This Wedding Dress Box Does Not Come With

  • Muslin
  • Gloves
  • Dress cleaning supplies

Before using this box or any other, you should get your dress dry cleaned!

Overall?

I put my dress in a white box partially wrapped in acid-free paper.

It cost me $75.

If you really want gown preservation, I suggest saving up and going elsewhere, but if you have a case of the poors like we do, this is a box and it does something for your dress.

If you’d like to buy it, try here.

Writer’s Block and Chronic Pain

For the past three weeks, I have been writing and revising a book. During this time the book was all I cared about. I didn’t eat or sleep – I could even ignore pain. Did I hurt like hell? Yes I did. But I put in 12 hour days working on my book in search of the holy grail of literary perfection.

I even hired an editor, who I start with in a week or so. But now the creative flow has ended, and my pain has hit me like a drunken bus driver with a load full of bricks. The stop sign was open, but he kept on driving straight into my measly Honda.

OUCH!

There’s nerves about the book. This time around I’m seeking to be professionally published. I want to know I can do it and there’s no guarantees. This is the bus full of bricks.

I also want my medical leave to be successful and I can go back to school when it’s appropriate – that is, when I have more answers and can manage my pain better – and also write this book to its polished shininess. AAAND this is the bus full of bricks slamming my Honda.

But if there’s one thing Disney movies have taught me is I can have it all, I just have to align the pieces in the balance of life. I don’t doubt Disney, y’all.

Metaphors for Marriage When You Have Chronic and Mental Illness

I once heard a foolish preacher tell a bunch of teenagers, of all people, at a youth rally that marriage is like a fragile baby bird. Maybe this is true if the couple is neurotypical and teenagers, but the analogies that come to my mind are a bit more dramatic and dangerous. My husband is on the spectrum, and I have PTSD, among other issues on top of my chronic pain. Everyday life in our marriage feels more like an action movie sometimes than sweet little delicate birds.

With that information, here are my metaphors for marriage:

1. Marriage is a trip to Mordor  and each of you takes turns being Frodo or Sam.

2. Marriage is a trip to get the soul stone but you figure out a way that neither of you dies (because love) and you both agree to enchant some regular rock there to bring back to the Avengers ( because one of you has magic powers and one of you is a rogue).

3. Marriage is that 80’s song The Promise. Everyday. And you’re in the closing Napoleon Dynamite scene with the tetherball that features that song.

Can anyone else think of other analogies?


After all, love is a battlefield.

Trauma Therapy: Beginnings

My marriage counselor has been urging me to begin trauma therapy for PTSD for about a month now. I’ve been afraid to because Bear and I have been doing so well and I don’t want to have another meltdown. Then COVID happened, and I was even more afraid.

It turns out trauma therapy is not that hard to begin, but I suggest anyone reading this doesn’t do this alone. Please consult your friendly neighborhood psychologist.

Every Sunday, I write in a journal one traumatic memory. Then the rest of the days of the week, I read the memory aloud. On Saturday I read and process the memory with my counselor and my husband.

I’ve only been doing this for two days now and chose a relatively mild memory to start out with as I’m going through a medication change. I need to come up with a list of things for my husband to watch out for. So far, here’s what I’ve got:

  • Sudden lack of communication
  • Catatonia
  • Not wanting to cook
  • Sudden willfulness in my attitude against him
  • Sudden negative talk about our marriage
  • Use of the ‘D’ word (no, not the body part…)
  • Staying in bed all the time

Although, parts of these do sound like a pain flare, honestly. But parts of these sound like my version of a nervous breakdown.

Overall I’m glad I took the plunge while my husband is working from home so I can be monitored. I’ve been told that doing trauma work could possibly cure my pain, along with switching off of my psych med.

It’s gonna be a wild ride!

Wedding Dress Preservation Gift

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

As most of us are short of cash due to this COVID nonsense, every time I would wistfully express my dream of getting my wedding dress preserved I was met with a staunch “no” from my husband and my finances.

Most of the bridal industry is aware of the state of the world, such as David’s Bridal, whose prices have slashed to $119 for their gown preservation, but that still wasn’t low enough.

This weekend my husband and I finally got around to writing our thank-you notes. We finished in one go, and in the process found a $100 Visa gift card. I figured we would save it for grocery shopping.

At the end of writing our thank-you notes, my husband turned to me and said, “M.B., I think you should use this on that thing you want. The thing that’s wedding related.”

I literally did not know what it was in that moment, so I said, “I don’t want to guess, sweetie,” More books?

“Come on, you know what it is. You’ve been asking for it for months.”

“I don’t want to be presumptuous. Jus tell me hon.”

At this point he smiled huge and said, “You can use this to preserve your wedding dress!”

Well, my goodness, finally!

At first I did try to go to David’s bridal, thinking I could use two forms of payment, but to no avail. Then… I had an idea.

Go to Amazon.

I had seen wedding dress preservation kits there before while googling for them.

I saw one for $101… another for $101…

Finally one for $75.95 with decent ratings and an instructional video link on YouTube.

This is not a product review, but I ended up purchasing the Foster-Stephens, inc White Heirloom Wedding Gown Storage and Preservation Box, and I am ecstatic. I called my mom and sister about it. I told my old roommate about it.

I will have a product review of the kit when it comes in on Sunday.

FYI: My husband had written me a calligraphy note, and did you know he’s designing me my dream garden in Autocad?

Sometimes, people think of you in the strangest of times. I guess that’s part of marriage.

Real Spoonie Weddings: Interview With the Reluctant Spoonie’s Katherine! Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

All wedding images, except for this cover image, are Katherine’s.

Katherine gave me a wonderful love story in her wedding interview – virtual interview Q + A. It was amazing to hear what her husband and she went through to be together. That’s the stuff books are made of ( and I do believe Katherine does have a book – please check out her blog, it’s lovely and very informative).

Katherine was one of my first followers on this blog when it was a wee zygote, and my blog is still in it’s embryo stages. On my last Spoonie Bride post I talked about collaboration. Collaboration can be as simple as supporting someone’s work. So, thanks Katherine!

Now, on to the interview.

Q1. Tell me everything there is to know about your condition & how it specifically relates to you.
I have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) which is a condition that causes dizzy spells, chronic fatigue and a fast heart rate. These symptoms mainly occur when you are standing up (hence the postural part) and those with POTS fall onto a spectrum with regards to the severity of their condition. I have a very severe form of POTS that left me bedridden for several years. 


Q2. What is your wedding story?
My husband and I met in our first year and he proposed after just 6 months (he was 18, I was 19). My husband was on a three-year course and I was on a four-year course. We had always planned to get married the year after I graduated from university. However, I developed POTS in my final year and became bedridden almost instantly, so we decided to postpone our wedding until I was well again. When I found out that I had a long-term chronic illness, we had to make a decision on when and how we would like to get married. We decided that we didn’t want to wait any longer as we had been engaged for almost 5 years at that point. We scaled down our wedding plans and I started physiotherapy so that I would be able to walk down the aisle. I planned our wedding in the space of 6 months and made sure that we still had all the little details that we’d originally planned such as themed ring boxes and a chocolate fudge wedding cake. 


Q.3 What was your venue, how many did you look at, and what factors did you consider in looking at a venue?

As we only had a short space of time to plan our wedding, we didn’t have a huge amount of venue options for our wedding reception. We ended up booking the venue next-door to the registry office who catered for wedding parties and had a dedicated wedding planner to organise these events. Everything was going smoothly until I disclosed my illness and requirements to the wedding planner 2 months before my big day. Communications were sporadic after that and they didn’t even show up on the actual day! My Maid of Honour even had to take over and organise the cake.

Q.4 Did you require any special catering?
Because of my POTS, I am not able to drink alcohol so I arranged for a non-alcoholic alternative for myself. Unfortunately, I was still given a glass of champagne when I arrived. I can’t manage large meals, so we chose to have an afternoon tea style wedding reception instead of the standard 3-course meal so that I could enjoy the food without fear of overloading my stomach. 
Q.5 Did you have any symptoms on your wedding day? If so, how did you manage?
I planned the day to minimise symptoms. I arranged to have the ceremony at 2 pm, a time when I am most alert and my morning meds have kicked in. I also sat down for my vows which I thought would ruin the photos, but they turned out great! 
Q. 6 How big was your guest list and wedding party?
We only had 20 people attend our wedding which included close friends and family. I had 3 bridesmaids and 1 brides-man. My husband had 3 groomsmen. 

Q. 7 What was your dress like, where did you find it, and was it a certain way to accommodate you?
I wore a vintage 50’s style tea-dress which I had altered to fit me. I had a coloured petticoat added so that it would look nice when I was sitting down to give a pop of colour. 
Q. 8 What are 3 things you would like a wedding vendor to know?
1. Not everyone is able to have a big wedding. Small weddings deserve your full attention as well. 2. Accessibility and accommodations are not optional and are requirements for everyone to enjoy the day.
3.  Be professional. Educate yourself on your client’s disability or illness to better understand their needs. 

Want more Real Spoonie Weddings?

Read about Jess’ and Jenny’s! If you’d like to be featured, email me at spoonielifestyle@gmail.com.

Managing My Pain Well: Green Light Bathing and Rescue the Spirit Dietary Supplement


Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

Oftentimes I find myself taking a burning hot shower 12 times a day because I’m in so much pain. In an earlier post I went over the benefits of green light and how I found significant pain reduction. The past few days I have turned my office space into a green light chamber by using green LED lights in a broken Wal-Mart floor lamp. So far, the past two days after using my green light chamber for four, I have:

  • only showered 3 times a day
  • gone on a walk without feeling winded or in pain
  • was able to finish writing all of my thank-you notes for wedding gifts
  • gotten it onnnnn…. OH BABY
  • been able to relax some away from pain

Let’s talk about that last bullet. My acupuncturist prescribed to me Rescue the Spirit. I shit you not, this stuff works better than klonopin in a crowded airport and you’re somehow a comedian doing standup in the security line. Rescue the Spirit is a dietary supplement, and if you have a natural pharmacy or acupuncturist you can call about med interactions then please do. Take care of yourself. And acupuncturists need jobs, so call one to talk about medication interactions.

I combine Rescue the Spirit with my green light chamber, the Dance Pop station on Spotify, and have myself a grand old time reading books and zoning out. Zoning out has been basically impossible since I started my bizarre health journey because of my pain. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still there, but man, can I take a nice staycation now.

Point of this article: green light chambers are good for pain, you should make one.

Secondary point: Rescue the Spirit is also great for managing pain and anxiety, call up your Chinese medicine professional.

Third point: Meditate for 10 minutes a day as soon as you wake up. Make it the absolute first thing you do in your green light chamber.

Fourth point: enjoy reduced pain if you suffer from fibromyalgia or migraines!

On Collaboration and COVID-19

In the midst of COVID, children are being homeschooled now when they have never been homeschooled before. Teachers have jumped in to volunteer. More and more often, domestic violence calls have doubled to the police. In some areas the police are not answering their phones.

What I see here is a need for collaboration, for communities that already exist online – because really, who isn’t online – to reach out to one another, to look out for each other.

It’s being aware of the world, your neighbor, and yourself.

I think we could all use a little Mr. Rodgers right now.

Real Spoonie Weddings: Interview With Study in Fitness’ Jess! hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Jess was kind enough to go over her heartwarming wedding experience with me today. During these troubling times I know it’s hard to carve out space for collaboration, so I am doubly thankful for her getting back to me with my standard 8 questions.

I am hoping the Spoonie Bride Project will be a great collaborative project where all of us Spoonie gals come together for a bigger goal: turning the bridal industry upside-down. After joining the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network, I am thankful for the ability to connect with other bloggers trying to make a difference – most in more nobler ways than I do – and putting me in communication to better realize my loftier goals.

So, thank you, Jess, let’s get on with the interview. Check out her blog please and thank you!

Question #2 was omitted per request.

Q1. Tell me everything there is to know about your condition & how it specifically relates to you.

I have hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. For me, it means that I manage a lot of leg, hip, and neck pain and my ribs and vertebrae subluxate frequently (less frequently after a year of physical therapy!). I’m fortunate in that I don’t dislocate at all and have done enough strength training that I do not require bracing of any joints. My hEDS really affects my gut, which affects my skin a lot, so I am constantly watching my diet to avoid trigger foods that could cause gut issues and acne/eczema. Stress management is crucial for me too because any stressors (good or bad) will trigger pain, gut and skin flares.

Q.3 What was your venue, how many did you look at, and what factors did you consider in looking at a venue? 

Our backyard was our venue. I looked at probably 5 other venues but they were all so expensive and many of them had minimum guest requirements. We never wanted a very big wedding and even inviting everyone we would have liked to have there, we wouldn’t have met the minimums. Plus when we realized that the venue money would be better spent doing a lot of the landscaping we already wanted to do to our backyard, we decided that was the way to go. And the whole stress of planning a wedding at an actual venue was too much for me.

Q.4 Did you require any special catering? 

We took our wedding party out to dinner at our favorite local New Mexican restaurant. I was able to special order my food so I could (sort of) stay in compliance with my elimination diet, but I didn’t make too many dietary concessions because I just wanted to enjoy my wedding dinner! I paid for it a little over the next few days, but not too bad.

Q.5 Did you have any symptoms on your wedding day? If so, how did you manage?

I was still having some head cold symptoms and a fair amount of fatigue but didn’t have any gut, skin, or pain flares thank goodness! Everyone was really helpful and all I had to do was ask for help if I needed it. We had already communicated well with everyone about how we wanted to keep things relaxed and enjoyable and everyone really stepped up to make that happen.

Q. 6 How big was your guest list and wedding party? 

We had 9 people total, not including my husband and I. And we didn’t really define a wedding party.

Q. 7 What was your dress like, where did you find it, and was it a certain way to accommodate you? 

I got my wedding dress from JuneBridals.com. It was the only place I could find the wedding dress I wanted – none of the bridal stores in town had the bohemian/fairy tale style I wanted, or if they had it, it was WAY too expensive. I found a beautiful dress that I love for $200 from JuneBridals.com. It didn’t fit perfectly (even though I put in my measurements prior to placing the order), but it worked out really well. My mom had to modify it a little in the shoulders to make it fit a bit better – I have very slight shoulders which makes it hard to find dresses that fit anyway. Not sure if that’s from the hEDS or just my skeleton!

Q. 8 What are 3 things you would like a wedding vendor to know?

I would love wedding vendors to know how to work with a couple to create a calm, small, intimate ceremony. I didn’t get the impression that I could have that with any of the vendors we looked at. There were too many details, the guest minimums were huge and it all felt too commercialized. 

So I guess the 3 things I’d like vendors to know is that not all brides want everything 1. overanalyzed and over-planned, 2. HUGE, and 3. Commercial. I just wanted a beautiful space where someone else took care of the decorations, and I could show up in my pretty dress, commit my vows to my husband, and then kick back and enjoy celebrating with a small group of people whom I love.

See previous Real Spoonie Weddings here.

Want to be a part of the Spoonie Bride Project?

Find me on twitter @MOShea00660361 or email me at spoonielifestyle@gmail.com.

Song: Get Tired of Me

wooden planks with the words "song get tired of me" overlayed

I like to write songs, and from time to time I think I make a good one. This one hasn’t been set to chords yet – and when it would be it’d be ukulele chords – but this is in 3/4 time and is a little indie pop/jazzy tone to it. Most songs I write are a bit soulful, this one is more whimsical (as it fits the instrument).

If you can imagine ukuleles sounding sad, that’s what I do with my music.

I actually wrote this song feeling happy while hanging out in the living room with my husband, and some melancholy apparently came out.

Get Tired of Me

Oh please don’t you never get tired of me

Oh please don’t you let yourself wander from me

How you smile all the while

I am dying inside

Can’t forget how I missed

The fact that you’re lying to me

Oh please don’t you never get tired of me

Oh please don’t you let yourself wander from me

Dark as day

Breaks as moonlight

By the stairs

In a bar fight

How you smile

I forget how to breathe

Oh it’s you’ve takes the wind out of me

Oh please don’t you never get tired of me

Oh please don’t you let yourself wander from me

I am sad and I’m happy

To see that you’re laughing

Aren’t you glad

On the precipice

Of uncertain love

And broken promises

Shattered hopes

Lonely days

Happy Christmas

It is night

And I’m dying to miss you

Won’t you stay

Won’t you ever be tired of me?