Monday, January 16, 2012

Don't Want No Cold Feet 'round Here

The temperature dropped below zero the last two nights. That's pretty cold.

I am not a fan of being cold. Not fond of being overheated, either, but that's not exactly an issue right now.

Christmas before last, my sister gave me a gift that was life-changing. Yeah, you laugh, but I'm serious. My quality of life improved tremendously once I didn't have to go to bed with cold feet and cold sheets.

She gave me corn bags she made for me. Heat them in the microwave for a couple of minutes, and you have a nearly instant mood improvement.

I have two. One for my feet, and one to hold onto. Truth is, it can get a little too warm, so after the first few minutes, they both end up at my feet, to be enjoyed by me and whatever critter is sharing the bed.

This year, I made some for my kids. I thought it was brilliant. That they'd be instantly grateful. Okay, maybe not, but I thought they would at least use them when it got cold.

They didn't.
What is up with that?
I reminded them. Suggested it. Lobbied hard for warmer feet, but got no response.

It wasn't until yesterday that I managed to have a breakthrough. I warmed up MY pair, and when one of the kids was sitting on the couch, complaining of frozen feet, I put one underneath his feet, and one on top, and a convert was made nearly instantaneously. Two of the kids are now using them. Still one hold out.

One added advantage of using the corn bags is that I get company at the foot of my bed. I woke up this morning with my feet surrounded by cats. Now, the dog is on the couch next to me, sharing the warmth. He was very quick to notice the addition of heat, and is not shy at all about cuddling right up. Smart dog.

The bags are very simple to make.
You can use a variety of things to fill them, but don't use popcorn.
The ones we have are filled with feed corn, some whole, some cracked. It doesn't seem to make a difference. I've also made them with rice.

You can sew bags, fill them, and then sew them closed. If you know how to sew, you won't need more direction than that. If you don't know how to sew, you aren't likely to make them anyhow. Use any fabric you have that can be heated. Cotton is good. Old, funky patterned cotton is particularly good. :-) Or cut up an old sheet, or one you get at a thrift store. Seriously. Don't spend a lot of money on nice fabric for these.

The ones I have are rectangular, about 10-15 inches long by 4-5 inches wide or so, and are sewed so that they have three or four "compartments," which keeps the corn from all shifting to one spot. You can make them quickly and simply, or, if you are making gifts, and are particular about such things, you can actually measure the fabric and make nice seams, and make them "pretty."

An easy shortcut is to fill socks and sew the top shut. Don't fill them very full; you want them to be moldable around your feet or other body parts. Bags made as gift bags for a wine bottle would also work well. Or cut an old pillowcase down and use the part that already has three sides sewn. In a pinch, you could probably use a paper bag and tape or sew it shut. (You could staple it if you're going to heat the bag some other way than in a microwave.)

When I first got my corn bags, I suddenly understood those old "bed warmer" pans-on-a-stick. People put hot coals in them, and then used them to slide over the bed, under the sheet, to warm it up before getting in. A lovely idea, but using coals so close to bedding makes me a bit nervous.

I think that's why the corn bags appeal to me so much. When it gets cold, people use all sorts of different methods to stay warm, and many of those are fire hazards. But not these.

It is amazing how much happier I am with warm feet.

I love finding something so simple, yet so useful. Sensible, too. Very inexpensive to create, can use recycled materials, and uses very little energy- but makes such a huge difference. The only thing I've used that did a similar job and was even simpler and used less ongoing energy, was when I was a kid and we heated rocks in the fire, to wrap in a shirt and put in the bottom of our sleeping bags, on camping trips. Same concept, really. The corn bags are a bit cuddlier than rocks.

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