AT for Frozen Treats in the Summer Heat!

Up close picture of a waffle cone holding ice cream.

By Jen Mullins, BS, CTRS, MATP Staff

The weather where I live in lower Michigan has been fairly hot lately (or at least, hotter than I would like!)  Frozen treats seem to help with cooling down, but sometimes aren’t the easiest to access. Typical ice cream scoops require a good amount of upper body strength, cold temperature tolerance in hands, hand strength & grip, and muscle endurance.  For someone who has a disability that impacts any of these areas, scooping hard, dense, frozen cream/sorbet/gelato/custard with a traditional scoop is not always possible. Thankfully, there are some great Assistive Technology supports available!  

Photo of a person using the Ice Cream Scoop & Stack in a carton of frozen ice cream. The device is then shown putting ice cream onto a cone.#1: The Ice Cream Scoop & Stack cuts slices of ice cream (instead of scoops): “Push the Ice Cream Scoop & Stack into firm ice cream.  The beveled front edge of the scoop makes it easy to cut through even the hardest ice cream. Twist just a bit and then lift. Press the button on the top of the Ice Cream Scoop & Stack to release the ice cream.”  No traditional scooping needed!

Oxo Good Grips I-Series Ice Cream Scoop#2: “Beaked” ice cream scoops like the Oxo Good Grips I-Series offer a more precise solution: the large, aluminum beak of this ice cream scoop breaks into hard ice cream and the ejector or trigger button on the scoop handle helps to get the ice cream out of the scoop.  I like that this scoop also has Oxo’s usual non slip coating; making it easier for my dry-skinned-hands to grip it while I’m scooping.

Zeroll ice cream scoops and spades, shown holding scoops of ice cream#3: Heated-conducting scoops & spades like ones from Zeroll have heat conductive fluid sealed within the handle.  The scoop or spade uses the heat from the user’s hand to warm the fluid in the handle which transfers to the scoop and glides thru the frozen ice cream with less resistance.  Something to note about this scoop is that it needs to be hand washed and can’t go in the dishwasher.

Graphic of an empty muffin panA low tech AT idea for scoops is to use a muffin tin.  Let ice cream soften for a while and then scoop soft ice cream scoops into muffin tins (lined with plastic wrap) & refreeze. When you want a scoop, it’s ready and waiting without having to fight with the chilled cream.

Oven mitt with grippy dots on the surfaceA piece of nonslip drawer liner or a silicone baking mat can be helpful when placed under an ice cream carton.  The liner or mat will do a better job of keeping the container stable while you scoop than a smooth counter surface. And, if the carton is too cold to touch with your non-scooping hand, consider sliding on a grippy oven mitt to better hold the container while you scoop.  You can put the other grippy mitt on as well to help better hold the scooper.

Home ice cream makers can also be great AT for frozen treats as they allow you to decide which ingredients to include to meet your specific dietary requirements.  I also like homemade ice cream because right after it’s done churning, its consistency is like soft serve and it can be “scooped” and enjoyed without the need for brute scoop force!  In a previous blog post, I shared about how I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer as one of my AT supports in the kitchen and it’s worth noting that Kitchenaid does have an ice cream maker attachment for their stand mixers.  A few years ago my sister gifted me the ice cream maker attachment and I’ve really enjoyed using it (plus, it takes up less space than a whole, separate ice cream machine).

Strawberry popsicleFor treats that you can enjoy straight out of the freezer like ice pops, Popsicles, Drumsticks, or my favorite: fudgesicles, there’s also AT that can help with holding, gripping, and cold temperature tolerance:

DripStiks holding a popsicle and an ice cream coneA DripStik can make a small treat handle larger/easier to hold while catching melty drips and can be used to hold larger treats like ice cream cones!  Bonus: you can easily set down your treat when it’s in a DripStik. 

Ice pop sleeves provide a layer of material between the frozen treat and your skin so it’s easier to hold & grip.  Bonus: they are reusable & insulated so they keep the treats colder!  If someone needs a thicker sleeve, duct tape can come to the rescue: position the sleeve on a frozen ice pop and gently wrap the tape around the sleeve until it’s at the desired thickness.  Be careful not to tape so tightly that the sleeve won’t come off of the pop.  

Ice pop sleeves, person holding a sleeve on an ice pop

If you’re  looking for AT supports for your whole bbq or picnic (and not just for dessert), check out our archived webinar: AT for Your Accessible Picnic.

I hope this information helps you stay cool (& frosty!) during this summer season! 😉  Do you use any AT supports for enjoying frozen treats or during a picnic? Comment below; I’d love to learn about them!

Two hands holding two chocolate popsickles together

A Jagged Gorgeous Winter

By Jen Gosett, BS, CTRS, MATP Staff

December is one of my favorite months! There are lots of holidays and (it seems like) more opportunities to celebrate together with friends & family. The holiday I enjoy celebrating the most during this month is Yule. Yule, also known as the Winter Solstice, is celebrated today & tonight on December 21st, “this is the longest night of the year, meaning that despite the cold winter, the days get progressively longer after the winter solstice.  The winter solstice is celebrated by many people around the world as the beginning of the return of the sun, and darkness turning into light.”  Generally, on Yule/the winter solstice my framily (friends who are more like family) and I gather around the fireplace, drink mulled cider, exchange small gifts, play board games, eat a cake decorated with a sun on it, burn the yule log, and just enjoy time together.  “The yule log is a remnant of the bonfires that the people would set ablaze at the time of winter solstice. These bonfires symbolized the return of the Sun.”  In recent years, we’ve also claimed The Main Drag’s “A Jagged Gorgeous Winter” as our holiday song!

During these dark months, I often feel much less motivated and have found that listening to podcasts can be really motivating for me.  I really don’t feel like doing the laundry or dishes or cleaning in general, but I’ve found that if I put an interesting podcast on, I can distract my brain a little and get some work done (or maybe reward my brain for doing the work!).  pexels-photo-374703I think of podcasts as a form of Assistive Technology as they’ve gotten me through some mentally & emotionally challenging times in my life. 

Though I know some friends who listen to podcasts, I’ve found that many people still haven’t heard about them or know how to listen & enjoy them.  I’ve written this post to try to help with that.  If you’re not currently listening, I think you’d really enjoy podcasts if you gave them a try :)!  So let’s start at the top, what’s a podcast?

A mic standing on a laptop computer with headphones in the background.“Podcasts are free audio programs distributed over the Internet. You can download them and listen to them as you please, essentially creating a radio station focused entirely on the topics you want to listen to. There are podcasts out there covering almost any topic that you can imagine – and probably dozens of podcasts on that topic.  Because you can choose programs that match your interests and can swap programs in and out as you wish, it becomes much like having a customized radio station for yourself that you can even take with you wherever you go if you have a smartphone.”

The Podcast Host has created a great guide, How Do I Listen to a Podcast?, that will help you get started, “Here we look at the different ways that you can listen to a podcast, from Smartphone to smart speaker.”  Podcasts can also be enjoyed on your desktop computer and even in your car.  In the car, I especially love that I don’t have to listen through songs I don’t like or NPR shows I’m not particularly interested in.  I can be my own radio show programmer!  Stitcher logoMy favorite way to listen is by using the Stitcher podcast app on my iPhone (also an Android app).  I load the app, scroll through shows I’ve saved, and search for new shows I might enjoy.  There are built in help features so if I forget how to do something, the app reminds me.  🙂  The Stitcher podcast app is free and so are the shows I listen to on there (they do offer a paid, premium version, but I feel like I need it).

As I was preparing & planning to write this post, I started to think about podcasts I wanted to recommend. Two people looking on their smartphones together.Then, I had a better idea: include what others AND I like.  There are so many different podcasts that cover so many different topics!  From America’s Test Kitchen to Anderson Cooper 360; the topics & show choices are endless.  Here are a few suggestions from people in my life; my own recommendations are at the bottom of the list.  If you listen to podcasts, what do you listen to? Comment! 🙂

Katie W’s recommendations: I listen to Buffering the Vampire Slayer-which is about…Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Each week the hosts watch episodes one at a time (it starts from the pilot and as of right now they’re in season 3), and they discuss the episode.  I also just started Rupaul: What’s the Tee? with Rupaul and Michelle Visage-they basically just pick a topic and talk about it. Usually relating it back to their own life

Greg’s recommendations: Tanis, Rabbits, & The Black Tapes are all great sci-fi/horror stuff. Wolf 359 is a more comedy leaning space adventure. If you’re interested in history, History On Fire is a great in depth look at a variety of historical figures and eras. If you like old time radio, Thrilling Adventure Hour is a comedic spin on that style.

Katie C’s recommendation: She-Explores is my favorite! It focuses on women’s adventures in the outdoors. It’s empowering, inspiring, and often includes good story telling.

Jessica’s recommendations: Heard a great one on Living Myth. I listen to podcasts from End of Life University. There are some interesting topics.

Bri’s recommendation: The only one I listen to with loyal regularity is Thinking Sideways. It’s a round table style (two men and a woman) discussion on an unsolved mystery each week. They cover true crime, cryptozoology, mystery people, conspiracies you name it. They have great chemistry and I like their approach.

Diana’s recommendations: I love The Moth Podcast, Ted Radio Hour, Ted Talks Daily, and StoryCorps.

Beth’s recommendations: I second “The Moth“. Also enjoy “99% Invisible” it kind of sort of focuses on the broad topic of design.

Lindsey’s recommendations: For politics + humor: Lovett or Leave It, Throwing Shade, Fake the Nation.

Jesse’s recommendation: The Fantasy Focus Football podcast; I listen to stay up to date so I can manage my fantasy football team.

Mike’s recommendations: I like listening to podcasts while I’m driving.  I like Intercepted, it’s political and keeps people in check.  Pod Save America is a good political one; some of the hosts used to work for Obama when he was in office.  Adventure Zone is fun; people get together & play d&d (Dungeons and Dragons)! And Radiolab has interesting stories that are compelling.

Arika’s recommendations: The Longest Shortest Time is a good parenting one.  Majority 54 & Pod Save the People are a good political ones.  Dear Sugar is a realistic advice column podcast.  Oprah’s Super Soul features Oprah herself talking about spiritual things with different people.

Aimee’s recommendations:
Happier
Another Round
Book Riot
Sporkful
Death, Sex, and Money
Note to Self
Double X
Mom and Dad are Fighting

My recommendations:

  • This American Life‘s show usually focus on topics all of us usually have a relation to (like topics of conversation over dinner).  I like this show because the stories shared on there seem to somehow better connect us all/make us more aware of each others’ life experiences. 
  • The No Sleep podcast is a horror fiction show with voice actors who read fantastic stories!  I can’t see scary movies or shows, but I can listen to podcasts and enjoy the creativity of the stories shared! 
  • Anderson Cooper 360!  My partner and I don’t have cable and thus don’t have access to watching Anderson’s nightly news show.  BUT this audio version of his show is a pretty good free option.  I like & respect Anderson Cooper and appreciate the multiple, different points of view represented on his show.
  • Game of Thrones podcast!  After I watch this show with my partner, he usually has to go to bed and I don’t get to recap/chat about the episode with him.  This show features 2 hosts who recap the episode, talk about theories, and read listener feedback.  I often will learn about things I didn’t pick up during the show and hear interesting takes on the various characters & their motivations.