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Easy DIY Wood Crates

I have a bookcase that I’ve been wanting to put some sort of basket in. I started sewing a fabric one, but wasn’t happy with the results. So I got the idea to do wood crates, but I wanted them to fit perfectly in the shelf space. This meant I would have to make my own. Woodworking always intimidates me because I don’t have any of the big tools most folks use. I’m excited that I was able to make these with only simple tools!

Step 1: Determine sizes

I measured the bookcase and determined that it needed to be 19″ long, 11″ deep, and 9″ high.

From that I needed to determine the sizes of wood to buy. I went to Home Depot with a plan, and learned that the dimension listed on the wood for sale is not actually the size. For example, a 2×4 is actually 1.5″ x 3.5″. This caused me to sit down on the floor in the wood department and rework all my wood sizes. Hopefully this will save you some on-the-fly measurement calculations yourself!

The sides and bottom were only 1/2″ in depth. The slats were 3/4″ in depth. The 1/2″ depth was very difficult to get a nail in without splitting, so keep that in mind, and maybe go up to 3/4″ depth for all wood. I was worried it would be too bulky, but in hindsight it would have been easier and not bulky.

Step 2: Get supplies

You’ll need the following supplies from a hardware store:

  • Wood per the sizes and amounts above. You can ask them to cut it to size for you! The exact kind of wood doesn’t matter, so we went with a cheaper wood, the benefit is that it’s lighter weight too then. Just make sure it’s not rough on either side or you’ll have a lot more sanding to do.
  • Wood glue
  • Finishing nails (the skinniest possible, but long enough to go through both pieces of wood)
  • Sand paper (around 100 grit)
  • Hammer
  • Primer
  • Paint

Step 3: Sand, prime, paint

The first thing I did was sand down the rough edges from the cuts. Then prime and paint all the pieces. These Painters Pyramids were a huge help at getting all the sides painted faster.

Step 4: Nail together

See the picture to the left for how you will assemble and nail the pieces together. The sides and slats will all be flush with the ground. Be careful when nailing that you don’t go too far to the edge and split your wood.

Nail the left and right sides to the bottom first. Then the slats. I did the top slats to make sure they were lined up with the top edge. Then the bottom slats to line up along the bottom edge. Then just measure and evenly space the middle slats.

Step 5: Finishing touches

Finally you’ll likely need to do a little touch up paint from the nails. Then add any final touches such as handles as you wish. I did also add some felt pads to the bottom since it was going into a wood bookcase.

Share pictures of your creations!

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Easy DIY Doll Jewelry

Doll BraceletIt’s easy to make doll bracelets and necklaces with a few simple supplies!

My 7 year old daughter loved making them herself as well.

Supplies:

To start you cut a length of elastic bead cord a little longer than the length you want the jewelry piece to be. For instance, for the bracelet, I looped the cord around the wrist, then added a bit more for the knot.

Doll BraceletTie a knot at one end of the bead cord just to keep your beads from falling off as you string them. Then start adding beads and charms! For an 18″ doll bracelet it took 39 beads and 1 charm. Once you have it the length you want, then tie a simple knot with the 2 ends, cut the extra, and enjoy!

You can use a variety of colors or charms, although I used the star charm because we were making them for an American Girl theme party.

Doll Bracelet

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DIY Ballet Barre

Ballet Bedroom

This has been one of my more popular projects! A ballerina bedroom with ballet barre! My daughter wanted to be a ballerina and loved this barre!

Make sure wherever you pick to put it in the room has floor space in front of it for your child to dance and move without hitting anything!

I looked online and found a giant mirror with height 59.5″ and width 39.5″. I wanted something tall enough to be full length, and fit the width of the space perfectly. I figured this was worth the investment since even when she’s a teenager she’ll still love having a big mirror.

For the barre you can certainly look online and just buy a wall mounted ballet barre. However, I didn’t like the look of the mounting brackets and lengths were limited. I tried a ton of lumber and hardware stores and couldn’t find the diameter I needed. Then I found an online stair railing website that would cut to any size you needed! Stair railings were the perfect diameter (I got 1.75″ diameter), and there was a ton of colors in different price ranges to choose from! I ordered the length I needed and it shipped right to my house. Make sure when you determine the length of your barre that you leave extra space for the brackets, and room for it to hang longer at the ends. My barre is 51.5″ long.

Then I ordered curtain rod brackets in the color I wanted. You do need to make sure you get ones that fit the larger 1.75″ diameter.

Finally I installed everything to the wall. Make sure the mirror is safely attached. Then I installed the curtain rod brackets so the barre would be 31″ from the floor to the top of the barre. Feel free to install higher or lower based on the height of your child, or measure the height of the barre they use at class.

Then we added some ballerina knick knacks and vinyl ballerinas on the wall to complete the look. Even though she switched from ballet to gymnastics she still loves using that space to practice, or even to just dance for fun! And the barre helps with fort building too!

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Family Calendar

Family Calendar

When my daughter was 3 years old, I made a family calendar. Her dad and I had recently divorced and she needed a way to visually see that she was always going to see both parents, and how far away each visit was. It helped a lot! Now that she’s 7, we still use it to help her see when there are special events, school functions, extra curricular activities, or changes to the custody schedule.

I have the calendar up in a common, main traffic area of the house that we pass by all the time. Additionally, I only fill out 2 weeks so she’s not overwhelmed with too much information. Every once in awhile if there’s something further out that she’s excited about we’ll put it on the calendar so she can see how far away it is and stop asking me 🙂

To fill out the calendar you could just write things in, but the best part about our calendar is the magnets! When she was 3 she couldn’t read yet, so the pictures were super important, and having the magnets made it so easy to update the calendar without having to redraw all the time. I do write in special one time events with either pictures or words.

Supplies:

Instructions to create the magnets:

Note: these instructions are for creating the images with a computer. However, if you don’t have access to a computer you can hand draw them on paper. Then start at step #7 below.

For image editing programs, I’m on a Mac and recommend iPhoto and Gimp.

  1. Find images: In order to get the images you can either hand draw them, or find images on a computer (search on the web!). For the Mom and Dad magnets I hand drew them, then scanned them into the computer. I’ve also considered using real photographs but worry they are so small it would be hard to see them. Simple images tend to do best.
  2. Clean up: Do this only if your image looks messy. Open your favorite image editing software and remove the bits you don’t like, edit as needed, etc. For my hand drawn image the scan added some messy bits to the blank areas. Since it was just black and white I increased the contrast on the image and it reduced the mess.
  3. Crop to square: Using your favorite image editing software, crop your image to a perfect square. Some images may not fit well in a square. In this case, you’ll first want to add more blank padding around the image so there’s more room to work. Or just find another image.
  4. Scale to size: Using your favorite image editing software, scale the image to the same size as your magnets diameter. Round down if you need to, it’s better to be a bit small than too large.
  5. Shape to circle (computer method): Some image editing software programs have the option to put a circle matte around your image. Sometimes this is called a vignette. Do this until the edge of the circle lines up with the edge of your image. If you don’t have software that does this, no worries, you can do it by hand in step #7.
  6. Print: Print as many copies of your image as you need. Make sure your scale is set to 100% so they don’t print bigger or smaller than your magnet!
  7. Shape to circle (by hand): If you weren’t able to use the computer to shape to a circle in step #5, you can do it by hand. Take one of your magnets and place it over your image. Trace around it.
  8. Cut: Cut each of your images out around the circle.
  9. Glue: Put a layer of mod podge on your magnets. I use a paint brush to easily apply it. Then put one of your image circles on the magnet and let it dry.
  10. That’s it! Hang your calendar on the wall, write in dates and special events, add magnets, and show your family!

    If you want more details on how to edit the images on the computer, just let me know in the comments! And share any cute magnet ideas you created!

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Easy Heart Hairstyle

Heart HairOur favorite hairstyle for Valentine’s Day is a heart shape! Here are instructions so you can do it too. It’s easy!
Heart Hair 1First, section off some hair and secure with a rubber band. I personally love using an inexpensive plastic rat tail comb like this one to section hair.
Heart Hair 2Slide the rubber band down a little and split the hair above the rubber band in half.
Heart Hair 3Now you want to pull the ponytail through the hole you just made. Do this by rotating the rubber band down towards the head, then up through the hole.
Heart Hair 4Pull the ponytail all the way through.
Heart Hair 5It should now look like this.
Heart Hair 6Pull the rubber band tight.
Heart Hair 7Use water or hair gel to get the ponytail smooth. Then divide into 2 equal sections.
Heart Hair 8Individually twist each section in the direction of the other one. This means the left section will twist over to the right, and the right section will twist over to the left. Keep twisting until you have the size heart you like. Secure the 2 ends together in a rubber band.
Heart HairThat’s it!
Heart Hair with RibbonYou can also decorate with ribbons…
Heart Hair with GlitterOr our personal favorite is to sprinkle with glitter!

I hope you found this hairstyle easy to do. Share pictures of your creations too!

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Thumbprint Heart Magnets

Thumbprint Heart Magnets

These cute little thumbprint heart magnets were easy to make and perfect for Valentine’s Day! We’ve also made them to give as gifts for other holidays as well.

Supplies:

First, have your child use ink to stamp thumbprints in the shape of a heart on a piece of white paper. Let dry completely.

Then use the mod podge to glue the flat side of the clear gems on top of the thumbprint hearts and let dry completely. Word of warning, if your clear gems have ridges on the flat side, use minimal glue or it’ll start to show uneven glue lines and spots. It’s also possible you could find gems that are more flat. We just made a ton and used the best ones 🙂

Using scissors, cut the paper to the size of the clear gems.

Using the mod podge again, glue the magnets to the back of the paper and let dry.

That’s it! Gift them, enjoy them! Another idea, instead of thumbprint hearts is to use a decorative fabric, scrapbook paper, or even photos to make these magnets! Share pictures of your fun magnet creations too!

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Kids Valentine’s Day Crafts

Valentine’s Day is coming up! Now that I have an elementary school child, we face the challenge every year of what to give to her classmates. Here are some favorite ideas we’ve made over the last few years!

For some of these crafts I used an old Cricut machine to make the shape cutouts more simple, but you could do it by hand, or buy pre-made shapes at the craft store.

When my daughter was really little I let her color her own valentine’s day cards. Using card stock, I cut a big heart in one color (I used a variety of valentine’s day colors like red, purple, and pink). Then I cut a smaller heart in white card stock. I used the Cricut machine to cut the “Love” word cutout from the white paper. You could also look for paper punches, or even stickers. I gave my daughter some crayons in valentine’s day colors and let her decorate the white paper. Then I used a glue stick to glue the white heart on the colored heart. Don’t forget to sign her name somewhere! We did it on the back, but you could also put it on the front.

Similar to the heart above, I cut out 2 butterfly shapes in different sizes and colors. I used the template from here https://www.skiptomylou.org/printable-butterfly-valentine/. I printed a bunch on plain white paper. Then I printed out one more in a slightly bigger size (use your print settings to scale to a higher percent until you like the difference). Then I used that larger size as a template to cut out from glitter card stock in bright valentine’s day colors. Glue them together with a glue stick. I used a hole punch on the pre-marked holes. Then add googly eye stickers to tootsie pops and poke them through!

This valentine looks like those conversation heart candies, but it’s a pocket with candy inside! I cut out 2 hearts of the same size in valentine’s day colored card stock. Then added stickers for the words (you can tell I used different font and size stickers here because finding a ton of the same was difficult). I punched holes along the edge used a simple hole punch. Then I laced white yarn on a plastic needle and had my daughter lace around the cards. Before it was fully closed we put a piece of candy inside! Then I tied at bow on the back so they can easily open and get their candy back out.

This is the easiest valentine! We did these when my daughter was in her slime phase. I bought Valentine’s Day slime from Oriental Trading company. It even has little heart glitter shapes inside. Warning: when you buy bulk slime it does tend to be more watery. My daughter likes it, but it is more messy. You can also make your own, but then you have to buy containers anyway. I liked that this was pretty much done for me! Then I got on my computer and made a simple red circle to the right size with the words “Happy Valen-Slime Day! From Ella”. I printed out a bunch and cut them buy hand. Then glue them to the top of the container. I used Modge Podge, but have found it’s starting to peel up, so I’d recommend a glue stick instead.

These valentine love bugs took a little more work, but were definitely the cutest! I bought a bunch of multi-colored pom poms at the craft store. I cut some pipe cleaners short, folded them in half, and glued the middle folded part to the top of a pom pom. On the ends of the pipe cleaners I wrapped them around some little open heart glitter that I found. If you don’t add the heart glitter to the ends, it’s still important that you fold the pipe cleaners down to avoid sharp pointy ends! I glued googly eyes to the face. Then I glued heart stickers on the bottom for feet. For glue, any craft glue should work, but I used Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue. We used varieties of colors for fun. You can also attach them to a valentine card, or add a little slip of paper with the recipient and your name.

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How I Reduced My Migraine Days and Got My Life Back

I suffer from migraines. They started in my late 20’s, but were rare at the time. In the last few years they’ve gotten worse. At my peak I was experiencing an average of 4 migraine days a week. Now I get them a few days every month, but I’m not out of the woods yet. Every person, and every migraine is different, but I figured I’d share my experiences, what I’ve tried, what worked, what didn’t in the hopes that others may find some relief as well, at the very least in knowing they aren’t alone and there is hope!

What does it feel like?

The first sign of my migraine starts with extreme fatigue, which continues through the entire migraine episode. Then I get sore, achy muscles in my neck (more than usual). Then it hits a day or 2 later. I’ll get a sharp, stabbing pain on one side, rooted at the top of my neck right at the base of my skull (the occipital nerve area). Which side changes every migraine, but always only one side at a time. This pain is excruciating, to where I feel like I’m having a stroke at times. This lasts for a few days, accompanied by the fatigue. As the sharp pain subsides, I’m left feeling hung over, like the end of a sickness, with fatigue, and feeling foggy. Finally I’ll have relief for a few days, with only the fear of the next one lingering. In my 20’s the migraines were also accompanied by auras and nausea. The auras are the worst, so I’m glad I don’t have those now! They are when you have visual disturbances. Mine were black dots. The only relief is to go into a dark room and close your eyes. I also get tension headaches that feel like my entire head is under extreme pressure and throbbing. These have mostly disappeared with the treatments I’ll mention below.

Emotionally you get in a vicious cycle of hope and despair. There are so many different possible triggers and solutions. It feels like most don’t work, so you go through moments of just accepting that you live with pain. I’m lucky I have medications that help me deal with the pain somewhat, so I can function and go to work at least. I have friends that struggle with even that. And as a mom, I felt guilty when I was at my worst because I’d often have to say no and just go lie down instead of playing with my daughter. I live in fear of migraines enough that I avoid all possible triggers. It impacts your life a lot when you are avoiding going outside, walking, certain foods, etc. You find yourself saying no and feeling like you are missing out. And then there are the moments you have something planned, so you hope the migraine comes sooner so you can just get it over with before your plans come up. Chronic pain has emotional impacts as well as physical. Don’t give up, keep hope, get help!

Possible causes

Determining the causes and triggers for your migraines will help a lot in figuring out the best treatment. However, it’s a needle in a haystack. For awhile I’d try solutions that didn’t work because there were too many other triggers for me to see any benefit from one change. Now that I’ve found a few solutions that help take care of those triggers, it makes it easier to see other causes more clearly. Some of my possible causes are:

  • hormones
  • astigmatism of my eyes
  • sleep position and pillow
  • not enough sleep (and I require a lot)
  • exercise, even very light
  • heat/sun
  • clenching and grinding my teeth
  • anxiety/tension
  • desk ergonomics
  • dehydration
  • diet
  • arthritis
  • chronic sinusitis
  • migraine medication overuse
  • ???

Where to go for help

I’ve gone to a few different kind of doctors for help.

My regular doctor has actually given me a few medications to both treat and prevent. They work pretty well, but I’d like to avoid just taking medications all the time.

XRayI tried a chiropractor who did an XRay and found arthritis, and my soft tissue and muscles are a mess. He admitted that chiropractic care isn’t generally a valid solution for migraines, but they also offer massages that have helped me deal quite a bit.

I saw a dentist to work on my teeth grinding.

I saw an eye doctor to test my eyes.

I also saw a neurologist. This is typically the doctor you should see to help you with migraines. They recommended physical therapy in their office, so I saw them as well. I’m now pending an MRI for further diagnosis.
MRI MRI

I am also pending an appointment with an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor to look at the possibility of chronic sinusitis.

Treatments that didn’t work

Magnesium

I’ve read a lot that taking magnesium pills can help prevent migraines. I took magnesium for a few months, but never once saw a difference.

Physical therapy

In general, I’m a huge believer of physical therapy. I’ve done it a few times for other injuries with huge success. It’s time consuming, but worth it. I was happy when my neurologist recommended physical therapy to treat and prevent migraines. I went once a week, and did additional exercises daily at home. My physical therapists were located right at the neurologists office and specialized in treatments for headaches, etc. They did some physical tests and said that most people have issues due to lack of flexibility. Physical therapy is very effective in that case. However, I have extreme flexibility. It’s unknown if that would cause my migraines, but we gave physical therapy a try anyway. I went to them for a few months and we did stretches, strength training, massage, heat, and even acupuncture with electro-stimulation. There was no progress, so eventually the physical therapists recommended I stop, go back to my neurologist and try a different treatment plan.

Tizanidine

Tizanidine is a muscle relaxer. My neurologist prescribed this in the hopes it would relax my neck muscles. This was done during the same time as physical therapy so that the medication would help increase the effectiveness of the therapy. The side effects of feeling drowsy and drugged out were not fun. And after a few months I didn’t see any improvement, so I stopped.

Treatments that are working

Eyeglasses

I always thought I had good vision. I never noticed any inability to see things near or far. However, my family has a history of poor eyesight, and I stare at a computer screen all day, so it was inevitable. Once the migraines were unbearable, I took matters into my own hands and scheduled an appointment with an optometrist. They diagnosed me with astigmatism and gave me a prescription. I was told I would only need to wear the glasses while using a computer screen, or night driving. However, I’ve found a profound difference in wearing them all the time. It really helps!

Theraspec sunglasses

One of my triggers is the sun. When I go outside on a sunny day (pretty much every day in Arizona), I squint so much I get a migraine. I tripped over these TheraSpecs Classic Migraine Glasses for Light Sensitivity, Photophobia and Fluorescent Lights. I got the outdoor lenses that are polarized, and 100% UVA/UVB blocking. The main point of these glasses is that they block 80% of the blue-green wavelengths, called FL-41 lens technology that theoretically can trigger migraines. Honestly, I don’t usually buy into marketing like this, but I got desperate and figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. Immediately upon wearing them I saw a difference! They also offer them custom made with your prescription, and I now regret not doing that! They have a few different styles and sizes, so check out their collection here: TheraSpecs

Sleep position

One of my biggest issues is that my migraines would be so bad they would keep me from sleeping. And not getting enough sleep causes a migraine. So it’s easy to get in a vicious cycle. A few times a week the migraine would start in the middle of the night while I was sleeping and the pain would wake me up. Well, I’m a stomach sleeper. Not a good position for people with neck issues. So, I changed my sleep position. I thought it would be hard to train myself, but just being conscious of it helped a lot. I start out on my back or side. Inevitably during the night I would roll onto my stomach in my sleep, but luckily I would wake up and remember to turn over. Every once in awhile I wouldn’t care because I was half asleep, but I’d remind myself of the pain and that was enough to motivate me. Now I mostly sleep on my side and never have a migraine start at night. Every once in awhile I’ll end up on my stomach and the neck pain will wake me up. I’ll shift position and the pain goes away. For those that are heavier sleepers, I’ve read tricks like taping a marble to the front of your shirt. The discomfort will wake you up enough to roll over.

Pillow

Related to sleep position, I found a better pillow that is actually made for my sleep position, and fits my size. This may take some trial and error on your part to find the right one. Give a new pillow a few nights to get used to it as well. I use the Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow for Stomach and Back Sleepers – Thin and Flat Therapeutic Design for Spinal Alignment, Better Breathing and Enhanced Sleeping and have had great success!

Massage

Massage BruisesWhen I saw the chiropractor he recommended massage therapy. They offer medical massage at their office. It gets billed under the physical therapy code, and luckily my insurance covers it! However, these aren’t like a relaxation massage at a spa. It’s deep tissue, so it gets pretty intense. They also do Gua Sha, which involves scraping the skin with a special tool to increase circulation. It usually leaves really nasty looking bruises down my whole neck and back, although it doesn’t hurt. I go twice a month, and while it doesn’t prevent my migraines, it does seem to shorten the length. It also reduces the severity of my daily baseline headache by relaxing the muscles.

Continuous birth control pills

One of my migraine triggers is hormones. This is fairly common in women. I would always get a very predictable migraine the day before my period would start, and it would last for about 5 days. Some women get it at the end of their period. When I was pregnant I didn’t have a migraine at all, but after my child was born, I had a nasty one that lasted a few months. I’m on the birth control pill, but that alone wasn’t enough. My regular primary care doctor recommended I skip the blanks and be on the active pills continuously. One benefit is that it completely stopped the hormone triggered headaches within about 2 months. Another side benefit is that I no longer have a period, at all, and it’s perfectly safe! As always, consult your own doctor first…

Rizatriptan Benzoate

Rizatriptan Benzoate (also known as Maxalt) is the medication I’ve taken the longest. You take it at the first sign of a migraine, and it helps decrease the symptoms and shorten the length. This has worked well for me. I use the orally disintegrating tablets which seem to work faster.

Over the counter medications

Advil (Ibuprofen), Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Aspirin, Aleve do not work on their own for a migraine. However, when taken in combination with the Rizatriptan Benzoate above, it increases the effectiveness, so I take them together for relief. Warning that taking Ibuprofen long term is not good for you, and can cause rebound headaches, so take only occasionally as needed, and consult a doctor.

Caffeine

So, caffeine does help reduce the symptoms as well. However, caffeine is a very common trigger, so I generally avoid it. There have been times I’d drink just a little during the worst of it, just so I could get through my day. But I’d recommend you find better treatments, and instead try to remove caffeine completely from your diet.

Ice/Heat

I’ve tried ice. I’ve tried heat. They both provide minimal comfort in the moment.

Biofreeze

Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel is a sports cream that works the best, in my opinion. Another treatment that can provide temporary relief of your pain symptoms, especially if they are accompanied by sore muscles.

Nortriptyline

Nortriptyline is another medication, but one that is meant to prevent. It used to be prescribed for depression, but they now use it more commonly at a really low dose for migraines. This actually does seem to work pretty well. I didn’t have a migraine unless I triggered it. But it also seems that you build up a tolerance. I used to only take one pill and it worked great. After a few months it worked less effectively, so I increased to the full prescribed amount of 2 pills. This also seems to work, but I wonder if it will also eventually stop. Additionally, this was prescribed by my general practitioner doctor. My neurologist recommends that I not be on this longer term, so we are continuing to explore different medication options.

Mouth guard

My dentist has diagnosed me with clenching and grinding my teeth. I’ve tried a few mouth guards with them. I’m apparently crazy at night since we were unable to find one that prevents the grinding completely. So now my mouth guard just protects my teeth and doesn’t stop it. However, most folks have better success at using a mouth guard to stop grinding. Ask your dentist if you grind!

Neck Hammock

The Neck Hammock Portable Cervical Traction Device for Neck Pain Relief and Physical Therapy looks a bit intimidating, but if you have migraines it also looks tempting. Especially if you get relief from physical therapy or massages. I tried this out and found it basically stretches your neck. Even when I’m not in a full migraine, it feels really good and does provide relief and comfort.

What’s next for me?

I’m currently waiting for the results from my brain MRI with the Neurologist. I also started taking Aimovig, which is a shot you give yourself monthly. If that works, I’d wean off the Nortriptyline. So far, it does seem to be working. I’ve also gotten advice to try Benadryl instead of Advil, so I may try that next time… I’ll keep you posted!

Also, check out this blog post from a friend who suffered from a severe migraine episode for 159 days and see how she managed to find relief: https://reneetumolo.com/2015/02/28/one-year-ago/

What works for you? Leave me comments!

* Some links may be affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something or take an action after clicking one of these. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.