Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sage winter advice, random

So I'm painfully aware that I dropped the blogging ball on you. I didn't mean to, it just kind of happened.

It was for mostly happy reasons, though. I've been in a most unusual creative frenzy for most of December and I have gotten quite a few things done around the house (must be the nice weather we've been having). One glorious victory then fueled another project and so on. I promise I will show you when I get my act together.

And then the last week of school my oldest got sick which ate up an unexpected amount of time and then Christmas kind of overtook me. Now I have no more excuses so here I am :)

Actually, one more excuse. My dear husband forgot our camera at the in-laws' over Christmas so there were a few pics on there that I won't be able to show you until we get it back. So this will be a pretty random winter post with advice that you may or may not be interested in. Be forewarned :)

You guys know we live in an older house. Old houses have lousy insulation and such, especially here in the South where we're supposed to just ignore winter because it's so short. I find the cold very hard to ignore even if it's only around for a few months.

During the day I can walk around with layers and layers of clothing and blankets and stay comfortable. At night the comforter keeps me warm. But the transition between clothes and bed can be a nightmare. If I hop into bed already cold it can take me a long time to get the body heat back up. For years my solution has been a hot water bottle to cuddle in bed. It's an old fashioned solution to an age old problem :) And it works! I've even converted my husband to liking it :)

This year as the weather was turning colder I decided to give every family member their own bottle, and to make them cute.

After purchasing the bottles at Walmart (they're hidden in the medicine part of the store packaged in a box. The reason for this is that people apparently use these for unimaginable nasty things which I won't go into here, I'm sure these procedures bring some relief for those who need it but I can assure you we use these for nothing but to heat us up in winter time) I also purchased four 1/4 yards of flannel in cute patterns to match the recipient. The flannel pieces were the perfect size for the bottles.

As you can see in the above picture I folded the strip in half right sides together and then folded the top down as well. Then I traced the shape of the bottle and marked the drawstring channel at the bottle neck. I have no pictures of the rest of the process but it involves sowing along all the marked lines, cutting off excess fabric and turning the pouch right side out and using scraps to make a drawstring closure.

And the result.

From left to right; daddy, mommy, daughter, son. Now they're cute and a lot cozier to cuddle up with at night. And easy to remove and wash if need be.

They're also wonderful to put under your feet as you waste time in front of the computer, to use on your belly during that time of the month or whenever you need some extra warmth in your life.

We heat the water on the stove (not quite to boiling, when the bubbles start rising to the surface it's about right) and then fill the bottles to about 2/3 of the way up. Gently squeeze the air out of the bottle and put the stopper in, tighten securely because you don't want half-boiling water all over you. Place in bed and add cold feet = wonderful!

Another thing I have a problem with during winter is keeping my skin hydrated. I know all the commercials make it out to be such a treat to step out of the shower and meticulously slather lotion all over yourself. I find it a complete hassle and a huge mess. It takes forever to put on and by the end of it I'm chilled to the bones. Then the lotion takes forever to be absorbed by the skin so you find yourself feeling oily for a long time afterwards. Needless to say it rarely got done which caused major itch.

When we had kids I discovered the wonders of baby oil and it wasn't long before I decided that what works for baby works perfectly for adults as well (I just use the non-scented variety). If you take baths this will be as easy as adding some baby oil to your water and you're done. I take showers and at the end of my shower I just sprinkle a liberal amount on a shower puff and rub all over. That's it! Since the water is still going I stay warm and by the time I'm toweled off and ready to dress my skin is silky smooth and itch free and stays that way until my next shower. An extra minute in the shower is nothing compared to the hassle free and mess free hydrated skin you get in return.

I know this is a great idea because my husband likes this one too :) Many men find it unmanly to put body lotion on. Adding baby oil to your bath may not qualify as manly either but at least it's quick and painless :) Add a rubber ducky and bubbles for hours of fun! :)

I will do my best to put together a proper post and get back to you with some of my fun projects of the past month. Happy New Year's in the mean time!

Ps. Linking up with
Someday Crafts

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fancy-pants trays

I've been making some trays. Stylish, glossy black trays of the modern school.

 And why would I be making trays when it's so much easier to just go out and buy one or a couple?

Because of this.

 Our tiny kitchen has - like many older homes - the washer and dryer in there, hogging space. If you -  like us - have the cheapo top loading variety you're pretty much out of luck for putting a countertop on there to make the space more functional (and to make the machines just go away. More on the going way part in a later post but the start of a shelf above the machines is part of this plan).

Unless you're handy and have a Lowe's or a Home Depot close by so you can make custom trays :)

This handy girl got a Lowe's employee to cut up a 1/4 plywood sheet (cost me just under $20) into chunks corresponding to the measurement of the washer and dryer tops minus about 1/2 inch on each side for wiggle room (the rest of the sheet was cut up into pieces that I'll be using for other projects). While I was there I also grabbed a few 1x2s for about $2 a piece.

Since I'm not a master woodworker and also kind of short on patience I decided to make the construction as easy (fast) as possible.

 Cut the long sides first and then the short sides to fit in between the long ones.

 No mitered corners here, figured it wouldn't really matter and this way it's faster and easier.

The markings on the bottom are made about 1/2 inch in from the edge to correspond to the middle of the 1x2s. Pre-drilled all my holes and assembled it all with screws and some wood glue here and there. Here and there only because I forgot to apply it everywhere :)

If you have more patience than I do here's where you should fill all the little imperfections with either wood filler or caulk. I did minimal prep by only sanding off the rough spots and then jumping right into painting. Two coats of a black house paint I had on hand. Since I didn't prime it almost looked like a black stain when it was dry because the wood soaked it all up. Pretty cool look. However, I needed these to be wipeable when done so I coated them in polycrylic. And added the cabinet pulls found at Walmart for about $3 a pair. Oh, and the felt furniture paws underneath so as to not scratch the machines.

And voili-daddily-da! 

Sure, you see the imperfections when the light shines on them just right. Where they're situated not much light will hit at this angle, though :) It's all about faking perfection. What people don't see and don't know about won't hurt them (this goes only for decorating, pretty much everywhere else in life this philosophy will mess you up, ok? Just making that clear :)).

 These turned out quite sturdy, I'm happy to report. Since they're big I just have to be careful not to overload them or I might not be able to carry it all. I'm positive the trays would hold up but I'm not sure I would :)

Now I have a light duty "countertop" with an elegant look. This formerly useless space has turned into usable space, either for decorative or practical purposes. They clean up easily. In fact, I can just pick them up and empty any debris into the trash or outside. Not to mention I can use them as trays in other places of our home, if needed.

And the best part? When I need to do laundry they stack easily one ontop of the other to give me easy access to the top loading washer, and whatever I might have sitting in the tray easily travels with it!

Now I'll just keep working on making the machines "go away". I have a plan but I'm not telling yet :) I'll keep you posted as I make progress as usual so stay tuned!

Ps. Linking up with
Someday Crafts
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