Weighed Down for Better Sleep

By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP Staff

a cartoon person awake in bed with bloodshot eyes, sheep jumping over them and a cat snuggled in on their lap.I have a long history of battling insomnia. Lately, I have been having even more problems sleeping following a series of life traumas and increased anxiety. My therapist suggested trying a weighted blanket. I had previously heard of weighted blankets as calming options for people on the Autism Spectrum. I never knew they have a variety of other uses.

According to an article in Psychology Today,

“Weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset, [and feeling out of sorts],” says Karen Moore (link is external), OTR/L, an occupational therapist in Franconia, N.H. These special blankets are filled with weighted pellets, which are sewn into compartments to keep them evenly distributed. Weighted blankets are also sometimes marketed for general use as an aid to sleep and relaxation.

“These blankets work by providing input to the deep pressure touch receptors throughout the body,” Moore says. “Deep pressure touch helps the body relax. Like a firm hug, weighted blankets help us feel secure, grounded, and safe.” Moore says this is the reason many people like to sleep under a comforter even in summer.

What a revelation!  After posting on Facebook, to friends inside and outside the disability community, looking for local resources to try a weighted blanket, several  friends chimed in that they too thought these blankets would be helpful for them. Some even said they were using one without realizing it—heavy comforters were their preference all year. One friend, who runs an Autism Center, connected me with some online options for buying weighted blankets and making your own. Another connected me with Christie DePrekel at Peaceful Product . These chance connections via social media have changed my life!

Christie of Peaceful Product is local and offered me several weights of blankets to try as I was hesitant to commit to the investment without knowing if the blankets would help me—though I had a feeling they would. I stopped by later the same day to pick up the sample blankets.

I tried a 15 pound and a 10 pound blanket and found I far preferred the heavier variety—and that my sleep and anxiety were much improved. I slept soundly (for me) the night before I had to give a speech to a nationwide audience—which normally would not be how I’d sleep before such a big event. I have found I also like sitting on the couch with the calming weight on me.

Christie mentioned that some members of her family have sensory processing disabilities, which is why she started making the blankets herself—looking to make quality items to meet their needs. Talking to her more about sensory processing, I realized that I too am sensitive to sound, pressure, smell, sight, and touch. Since I was a child I remember self-soothing by rolling my hands back and forth over a favorite blanket. I also achieve great peace when watching repetitive things like sprinklers or machines at work. I have met others friends who have the same type of soothing response. I also have created my  own type of squeeze machine having my partner hug me hard and/or lay on top of me while I’m on the floor, comforted by the intense pressure (until it’s hard to breathe). I wonder if it is all related?

Christie has seen weighted blankets help people with Autism, Aspergers, ADHD, Anxiety, PTSD, Insomnia, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Restless Leg Syndrome.

After deciding I definitely wanted my own weighted blanket, I met Christie at a fabric store and picked out some microplush fabric to cover my blanket (you should have seen me at the store with my eyes closed plunging my hands into the bolts of fabric to test their softness and soothingness). I then specified the size and weight I wanted, and one week later, my blanket was ready.

Weighted Blanket
I choose a colorful pattern of birds for one side of my giant weighted blanket and a lush blue for the other side.

I now sleep with it every night. The pressure is comforting on a primal level. I have trouble with night sweats, so the lightweight microplush has been helpful (the sample blankets were a thick fleece). If the weight didn’t affect the heat of the blanket at all, I would have gotten even heavier of a blanket.

The formula commonly used to choose the weight of the blanket is 10% of the body weight plus 1 or 2 pounds for children.  In older teens and adults this formula can be quite heavy so trying different weights like I did might be your best option. I found that in my arms a 10 pound blanket felt very very heavy.  But, once that weight was spread out over me, I thought it was way too light.

Have you tried a weighted blanket or have you been doing your own version of weighted blanket sleeping without even realizing that is what you were creating on your own?

Do you think something like this might work for you or someone you know?

Music is my Assistive Technology

Tablet, laptop computer, mouse & mouse pad, and headphones on a desk.

By Jen Gosett, BS, CTRS, MATP Staff

Woman listening to headphones connected to a smartphone.How often do you listen to music?  Do you turn it on when you wake up?  Do you listen in the car/transit as you head to work & go about your day?  Is it on when you’re in the shower?  When you’re doing chores?  While working out?  Maybe a better question to ask is when is music not on?  In my life, music is almost always on (either I’m actively listening or have it on in the background); that is to say, when I’m not listening to podcasts. Music has a powerful, positive effect on my mood, productivity, and attention.  “It turns out that a moderate noise level is the sweet spot for creativity. Even more than low noise levels, ambient noise apparently gets our creative juices flowing, and doesn’t put us off the way high levels of noise do.  The way this works is that moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. In other words, when we struggle (just enough) to process things as we normally would, we resort to more creative approaches.”

Vintage radios stacked on shelves.

Music can illicit memories and feelings from a different time in my life and gives me all the good nostalgic feels.  Stevie Wonder was quoted saying, “Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.”

Lit up keys on a soundboard.Music has been able to lessen the pain of a headache and give me more energy & motivation.  Usually if I’m anxious, worried, or upset it’s partly because it’s been a while since I heard a song I enjoy.  As soon as I can turn on music which I have chosen, I feel relief and hope; music is my Assistive Technology.  A study showed that, “Preferred music was found to significantly increase tolerance and perceived control over the painful stimulus and to decrease anxiety compared with both the visual distraction and silence conditions. Pain intensity rating was decreased by music listening when compared with silence.”

Child playing with an electric guitar.While I was growing up, music was strongly integrated into many things that my family did; especially family road trips where we would listen to (and sing along with) Crosby, Stills, & Nash!  I learned my love (and need) of music from my parents; I learned how it can help me throughout my daily life.

When I was in high school, my family got cable and I got to sneak listening to 2 music video channels, MTV and VH1 (I still miss those pop up videos!)  During that time in the 1990’s, music was still on CD’s and downloading 1 song from the dial up internet took hours (there was no YouTube yet!)  Cassette tapes.I remember it being such a struggle to listen to the music that I wanted to hear (tape recording songs off of the radio when they were played was a challenge and I always got some of the DJ talking over part of the songs).  As I’ve grown, so has technology.  I read an article recently about Menials (or Xennials) growing up with the Internet & technology.  It shared, “As we were growing up, technology matured along side us. We had time to get used to it and were still young enough to feel right at home with it.”  I feel like the same applies to access to music.  Starting with cassette tapes, moving to CD’s, then to MP3 players, and now to streaming services on our smart devices.

This year I decided to start paying for a subscription to Amazon Prime’s music streaming service, Prime Music.  I now have access to virtually all of the music I want (the teenager inside of the 32 year old me rejoices daily about this!)  I can listen on demand on my iPhone, in the car, on my computer, etc.  Having access to music that I choose to when I need to listen to is extremely cathartic and helpful for me.  I can listen to old favorites from high school years (oh hello Spice Girls), expand my appreciation for indie music, and enjoy new music (I have fallen in love with Miles Davis’ ‘Concierto de Aranjuez: Adagio‘)!  Person blowing chalk into the air. It looks like magic to me.As Tom Petty once said, “Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.”

How does music impact you?  How do you access it?

The Coolest Halloween Costumes Include AT!

By MATP Staffer Laura Hall

I have to admit, this is my favorite blog post of the year.  For the past few years, each Halloween, I have written a blog that features Halloween costumes that incorporate mobility devices and other AT into them.  Every year I find costumes that are more innovative than the year before.  Not only is it a fun topic, but it gives me a good feeling because these costumes represent not only pride in one’s disability identity but pride in one’s assistive technology as well.  So often, ableism and internalized ableism makes people feel as though their assistive technology is something shameful or something that should be hidden.  By creating a costume that uses AT in its design, it is a way of claiming your assistive technology, and your disability with pride.  So without further ado here are the top five Halloween costumes I wish I had thought of as a kid.

C’Mon Down!

Boy in wheelchair with Wheel of Fortune wheel on his wheel covers. He is holding a $5000 wheel piece.

A Giraffe in its Natural Habitat

Girl in a giraffe costume. Her crutches make up the front long legs

Winter is Coming

Young man in a powerchair wearing clothing from the series "Game of Thrones". His wheelchair is fashioned to look like the Iron Throne

No High Sticking!

Young child in wheelchair wearing a hockey jersey and holding a hockey stick. His wheelchair is surrounded by a penalty box

My Little Pony Chariot

Girl in her wheelchair that has rainbow wheels, a cloud surrounding the chair, being pulled by a "My Little Pony"

Halloween is a special time for many kids and Magic Wheelchair is an organization that strives to make it, as they say, “epic”.  A volunteer group of designers and builders work together to create extra special costumes for kids with disabilities picked through an application process each year.  The My Little Pony costume above is an example of their magic.

Costumes are not the only barrier for people with disabilities on Halloween.  The Connecting for Kids website has helpful considerations to think about related to creating an inclusive Halloween.  For example:

  • Keep in mind that children who are nonverbal may not be able to say “trick-or-treat” or “thank you.” Do not push for verbal responses and be sensitive to children who do not give expected social feedback.
  • Be prepared to describe treats for children with blindness or low vision issues.
  • Make sure that you are handing out treats in a well-lit, accessible area. If your house is not accessible, consider handing out treats in a different location (for example, in the driveway or in a community common area).
  • When addressing trick-or-treaters, make sure they can see your face and mouth as you speak. This can help children who struggle with speech and hearing issues. Better still, learn some simple Halloween signs (video).
  • Be observant. Children with anxiety or other issues may wander from a caregiver or safe area.

Happy Halloween!

Introducing: The Flash!

By MATP Staffer Laura Hall

Laura her power wheelchair

Last week I got a new power wheelchair.  It’s hard to explain to people who don’t use mobility devices, but getting a new wheelchair is like Christmas, Easter and your birthday all rolled into one. Way more exciting than a new car.  Obtaining a new wheelchair is usually a long process.  Typically you can only get a new chair every 5 years, and that’s assuming your prior chair is worn out and your seating needs have changed (from growth, etc.)   It involves an individualized assessment, a mountain of paperwork, a pre-authorization process, and a ton of waiting as the insurance cogs slowly turn. Needless to say, delivery day is exciting.

 

A manual wheelchair reclined back showing the various angles of the tilt in space feature

My new wheelchair (also known as “The Flash” for it’s red and yellow design is a Permobil M3  It is a mid-wheel drive configuration, which gives me a tighter turning radius than my previous chair.  This is helpful for getting around corners in my new home.  The are other drive configurations, front wheel and rear wheel that have their benefits and drawbacks.  People often tell me that my wheelchairs are fancy or have all the bells and whistles.  My chair has a lot of features that allow me to change my positioning, but they’re certainly not luxurious or frivolous in any way.   The tilt-in-space feature allows me to shift my body weight to prevent pressure sores.  Pressure sores, once you have them, are serious and difficult to heal.  It is also the way I transfer into the chair because it allows my hips to flex and slide back naturally.  The other benefits of tilt-in-space functions have been well documented.

 

 

Woman reaching into her microwave using the Active Reach feature

My chair also reclines, meaning the back only reclines, so I am able to stretch my hip flexors.  Spending 16 hours+ in a wheelchair can cause contractures and shortening of the muscles if not stretched periodically during the day.  To help with circulation and blood clots, the footrests also elevate out.  There is a new feature on the Permobil M3 is called Active Reach, this feature is invaluable, as it tilts the seat up slightly and forward.  This enables me to reach doorknobs, counters and lowers the seat a bit for easier transfers.

 

Finally, the Flash has a seat elevator that raises me up about 12 inches.  I use this feature when I’m getting into bed, cooking, needing to reach something at the grocery store and even when I want to have a conversation eye-to-eye.  People often don’t understand the importance of the seat elevator of having a conversation at eye level.  There is a certain power dynamic that you feel when someone is looking down at you.  Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t usually cover this feature, deeming it “not medically necessary”.  This is a feature I will be paying for out of pocket for quite some time, but for me, it is absolutely necessary.

Wheelchairs that are custom fitted and have features like mine and called Complex Rehab Technology, meaning that they are not the type of wheelchairs you could buy as off the floor at a medical supply company.  Unfortunately, insurance companies have steadily been lessening their coverage for equipment like mine as a cost containment measure.  In particular, customised manual wheelchairs that have features like tilt and recline are at risk, as insurance companies are now calling extremely critical parts of wheelchairs “accessories” that are not medically necessary.  The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART) is an organization of suppliers and manufacturers of Complex Rehab Technology working on legislation and policies to change and improve what is covered by insurance companies.  In my previous work with this organization, they have stressed the importance of users of this type of technology telling their story to legislators.  If you are interested in this type of advocacy, NCART would be a great place to start.

I am off to the races with my new sidekick the Flash.  We hope to see you sometime….if you can catch us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nights are Longer and SAD is Here

By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP Staff

I can feel the change in the seasons and I’m not enjoying it. Shorter days and longer nights start the cycle of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for me. This time of year I start feeling the energy drain and the pull of my bed increase. According to the Mayo Clinic, the causes of SAD aren’t entirely known but there is felt to be a genetic component and a chemical component the chemical components are related to reduction in sunlight and a corresponding reduction in serotonin and melatonin. Lower serotonin can trigger depression and melatonin helps with sleep.

The risk factors for SAD include living in places like Michigan—the further you live from the equator, the more common SAD is which is likely due to the decreased sunlight during winter.

Luckily for me, there are some treatment options involving assistive technology (AT) and lifestyle changes that really help me:

Light Therapy

light therapy boxA couple of years ago, when I was complaining about the dark falls and winters in Michigan and my belief that I had SAD, my coworker told me about light boxes. Each morning I start the day with 45 minutes in front of my lightbox. In fact, I’m writing this blog with it on. The bright light mimics outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood, most likely increasing serotonin. Studies have found that light therapy is effective for SAD and may be effective for nonseasonal depression.

I position myself 12-24 inches from the lightbox and have it off to the side of my computer monitor. I use it in the morning almost every day.  My box has bright white full spectrum light and produces 10,000 lumens. In the past, many SAD light therapy boxes were using blue light wavelengths, but recently research has indicated that broad spectrum light is more effective. For the past several years, my lightbox has helped make my SAD much more manageable.

I want people to know about possible side effects of light therapy and contraindications so I’ve copied some warnings below to be very aware of:

Are there any side effects or conditions where light therapy should be avoided?

“Individuals whose skin is especially sensitive to light, such as those with lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) should consult a physician before attempting light therapy for any condition. You may be advised to avoid light therapy if you have a history of skin cancer or if your eyes are sensitive to light because of conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment and retinopathy. In addition, light therapy has been reported to lead to mania in some patients with bipolar disorder (manic depression) and to cause suicidal thoughts. For these reasons, patients using light therapy boxes should report any mood changes or disturbing thoughts to their health care practitioners.
Certain drugs can increase sensitivity to sunlight and may cause skin reactions as a result of light therapy. These include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, some anti-histamines, lithium, the supplement melatonin and the herbal remedy St. John’s wort. If you’re taking any drug or supplement on a regular basis, check to make sure it won’t cause a reaction to light therapy.

Some ophthalmologists have warned that blue light, part of the full spectrum of light used in light therapy, could damage the retina and increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a progressive eye disorder that is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55. So far, however, no research has confirmed that risk.

If you’re bothered by the glare from your light box, the blue light is probably responsible. You can screen it out by wearing special eyeglass lenses or clip-ons during treatment. There are also light boxes available that filter out the wavelengths believed to be most harmful.

Other side effects of light therapy are minimal. Some patients report headaches, eyestrain or eye irritation or nausea when they begin treatment, but these effects usually are mild and disappear after a few days.

Exercising

In this case, my DVD player and online streaming device are AT. My therapist informed me that exercise boosts serotonin and I find it helps me feel better about myself while reducing anxiety and stress. I regularly start my day with an exercise DVD or a streaming program when it’s too cold, dark, wet, or snowy outside to exercise out of doors.

Getting outside

There were brief periods of sunlight this past weekend and I made sure to get outside and hike and work in the yard. The Mayo Clinic suggests that getting outside within two hours of waking in the morning is most effective and that even on cold and cloudy days, getting outside is helpful.

Brightening my home and office

I make sure to open my drapes and have installed solar tubes in darker areas of my home (our hallway). I have painted the walls in our darkest rooms bright, light colors. When I’m up before the sun, I turn on all the lights in the area of the house that I am in.

Taking a vacation someplace warm and sunny

Florida-Mangrove-forests-in-the-south-of-the-peninsula-of-florida
One of my favorite vacations was to Florida. I especially loved paddling the mangroves with my husband in the bright sunshine and warmth in the middle of winter.

I know that I hit my limit of coping with Michigan weather every February so I save up all year to go someplace warm and sunny many years. If only I could find a way to bill that to my health insurance. Funny thing is, the article from the Mayo Clinic even recommends taking a trip as a way to manage SAD, Take a trip. If possible, take winter vacations in sunny, warm locations if you have winter seasonal affective disorder .”

Do you have SAD as well? What AT or strategies have worked for you?

 

Butterflies, Bracelets, and Rocks

By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP Staff

My Facebook memories have been showing me that October is often a very hard month for me with many anniversaries of stressful events. I want to share a blog post I wrote two years ago as it came up in my Facebook memories as well and sparked a lot of discussion on my wall.

So here it is–how I was doing two years ago, and what AT got me through (and I’m still using these tools and techniques):

I have PTSD and have been triggered a lot lately. I can sense it happening. Something reminds me of a traumatic event and I start reliving it in my head. I started seeing a new therapist for EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) after my old therapist left her practice and no longer takes my insurance. I dreaded having to start over—and having to share with her what has happened to me. Talking about past traumas re-traumatizes people and exacerbates PTSD. Luckily, my new therapist knew this and didn’t want to dig in—just wanted some generalizations, but as we were getting started, she could tell that I was going back to the experiences—and she had some great new techniques that helped me self-soothe enough so that I could interact with her. I’m now adding the Butterfly Technique and a large egg-shaped rock to my Calming Techniques and Items Toolbox in addition to the bracelet and weighted blanket that were already in there.

The Butterfly Hug Technique involves crossing your arms over your chest and linking

Butterfly Hug
A webcam shot of me holding my hands in the position I use for the Butterfly Hug.

your thumbs at your sternum. Your fingers are pointed up towards your collarbones, not towards your arms, and the finger tips rest just below or on your collarbones, palms facing down against your chest. You then pat yourself in this position for 1-3 minutes. This bilateral stimulation provides a sense of calm. It helps ground you and keep you in the present moment. It was originally used in Mexico helping survivors of a hurricane and has been used with inmates, many of whom have a trauma history, and others with PTSD. I put an image of a butterfly on my phone to remind me that I can do this technique any time. There is a great youtube video on the butterfly hug technique created by Debbie Augenthaler.

Rock
This snowflake obsidian rock fits well in my hand and offers enough weight and size to register strongly with my brain as I pass it back and forth between my hands. It helps with mindfulness.

The other technique she taught me uses a super low-tech piece of AT (assistive technology), a 3-4 inch egg shaped rock that fills the palm of your hand. She instructed me to take this rock (hers was polished marble) and pass it back and forth between my hands. I felt stupid at first, but then realized it was helping and did it for my entire appointment. I asked her what the technique was called and if the size of the rock/weight were important. She said it was a type of Brain Gym technique that also promotes bilateral brain stimulation. The size and weight are somewhat important—the rock needs to be big and heavy enough to register in your hands.  I found a large enough egg at a local store that carries crystals and meditation supplies. I find it helpful to use this technique to reconnect and calm—it allows me to return to mindfulness, being in the present moment and noticing my thoughts without judging them. Mindfulness is universally beneficial and helps with chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and stress and promotes well-being. There is now a free online course for Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (other courses in person and online are $350-$450). I’m going to give it a try.

metta-bracelet.jpg
The different colored stones in this bracelet help me remember the different pieces of the lovingkindess or metta meditation.

While I wrote about my weighted blanket before, I haven’t shared about my loving kindness bracelet. I originally learned about loving kindness meditation as a mindfulness practice—a way to become present, decrease stress, and increase positive emotions and well-being. There are dozens of studies on the benefits of a loving kindness practice. I had been practicing it irregularly, especially when I was experiencing insomnia, and then more regularly after attending a workshop by Kristin Neff, an expert in self compassion. The loving-kindness meditation is a way to tap into the calming practice of sending love to yourself and to others and the world. I had trouble remembering to stop and do the loving kindness meditation and make it a part of my daily routine until I added my loving kindness/metta bracelet I got from Jan Lundy, an author, speaker, and spiritual director. Jan co-designed a bracelet with four different kinds of stones to represent each of the phrases you repeat in a loving kindness meditation. I can sit and meditate and use the stones as keys to remember:

May I be safe

May I be strong

May I be happy

May I live with peace and ease

I work my way around the bracelet first a couple times for myself, then for others. Jan has full instructions on her website. When I am anxious and overwhelmed, I need a visual cue to help me reset. Having a reminder on my wrist does just that, and then guides me in my practice. Jan’s bracelet is beautiful, but if cost is a barrier, you could go to a craft store or raid your closets and jewelry boxes and pick out beads with meanings for you and string your own.

What AT, techniques, and resources do you tap into for stress, anxiety, depression, and self-soothing?

Tasty Tools: Assistive Technology in the Kitchen (Part 6)

Kitchenaid stand mixer

By Jen Gosett, BS, CTRS, MATP Staff

Welcome back to our Assistive Technology in the Kitchen series, Part 6 :-)!  Today we are talking about using a stand mixer (or standing mixer) as an Assistive Technology support in the kitchen!  

Graphic of a handheld mixer with beatersMixing by hand can require precision, endurance, and fine motor control.  Handheld, electric beaters can be difficult to use; holding the power button down can take a lot of grip/pinch strength and holding the device itself takes a fair amount of upper body strength. Knowing I can set the stand mixer to do its job makes cooking and baking seem less daunting and more accessible to me. 

When you think of a stand mixer what comes to mind?  Having a lot of time available to “play” in the kitchen?  That’s what I thought at first too and I couldn’t justify spending a larger sum of money on something I’d maybe use once a week.  But then I searched “uses for kitchenaid stand mixers” on Pinterest and found that (along with other surprising uses), I could shred cooked chicken breast using a stand mixer!  

2 forks shredding cooked chickenI have been making bbq chicken in my slow cooker for years, but there’s a step in the recipe where I need to shred the cooked chicken with 2 folks.  Using 2 forks to shred up a protein (even if tender) can require upper body strength, fine motor control, and muscle endurance.  Not to mention that your hands are really close/touching hot meat and that can be painful.  By using the stand mixer to shred the chicken, I now just use tongs to place the hot, cooked chicken into the mixer, mix for 30 seconds on low with the paddle attachment, and all my chicken is all shredded and ready for bbq sauce & bun (maybe a little coleslaw too)!  😉

Shredded BBQ chicken sandwich, topped with coleslaw

I use my mixer with the whisk attachment whenever I want something really thoroughly mixed: Jello, instant pudding, ranch dressing/dip, fluffy eggs for scrambled eggs & omelets, box cake mix, meat for meatballs & meatloaf, etc.  

Tray of soft pretzelsStand mixers often come with that paddle attachment I mentioned with the shredded chicken, the whisk attachment, and a dough hook attachment.  You can make lots of great, yeasty dough’s for soft pretzels, breads, rolls, etc. using the dough hook.  I especially love using the dough hook to make quick breads; the dough hook attachment doesn’t over mix and ends up giving them the best texture!

  • Pro tip 1: When I bought my mixer, I purchased a second bowl & paddle attachment so that when I was making a recipe that required 2 different batters or preparations, I didn’t have to stop to wash my one bowl & paddle.  The bowls I have are the lighter, stainless steel ones.  Kitchenaid has some pretty ceramic and glass bowls available, but they are heavy and therefore can be cumbersome to use, wash, scrape batter out of, etc.  In addition to the food weight inside of the bowl, the glass & ceramic bowls add 3 additional pounds!  

Stand mixer with ceramic mixing bowl

  • Pro tip 2: Stand mixers are heavy and can be difficult to lift (even just to scooch over a bit).  Mine lives on my counter so I don’t have to deal with moving it to store it after I’m done using it (besides, it’s pretty and I like looking it lol).  I’ve found that by putting small, furniture felt pads on the bottom of the stand, the mixer scooches around on the counter a lot more easily.  And if the pads get dirty they are easily replaceable.

3 stand mixersStand mixers in general are relatively expensive and if you’re going for the bright, colorful, and popular models (ahem, Kitchenaid), be prepared to pay $300-$400.  I saved for a few years before I purchased mine and during that time did a lot of research to find out which model would be best for me.  After visiting stores (Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table tend to have various models in their stores) to physically touch the mixer controls & watching the America’s Test Kitchen equipment review of stand mixers, I purchased an Artisan Kitchenaid Stand mixer (in the green apple color) with the “head tilt”.  I got mine from Kohl’s when it was on sale.  At that time, I had a 30% off coupon and they offered a rebate (saved me about $100).  I bet you could get the same deal if you checked their site (I think they list sales on Saturday’s) and keep your Kohl’s coupons/look up Kohl’s coupon codes.  Note: I wouldn’t recommend the Kitchenaid mini because I’ve seen that it doesn’t mix as well as the other models.

Do you have a stand mixer?  What do you use it for most?

If you missed them, check out Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4, & Part 5 of this AT in the Kitchen series!