Friday, October 12, 2007

Bean Bags

Hot water bottles are great for keeping your toes cosy in bed at night, but they're not ideal for cuddling, or applying heat to achey body parts, because they're rather stiff and hard. Bean bags are better because you can make them any shape and they mould to your body. I like long snakey ones that can wrap around your neck and shoulders, and squarish ones that you can hug to your belly or back. You heat them up in the microwave and they're blissful.

Eleanor made herself a bean bag whilst she's been off school. She decided she wanted to make a dog. We cut out a piece of dog-coloured fabric using a sheet of A4 paper as a template (just a plain rectangle - I decided making it dog-shaped was a bit too advanced, but we added features to make it look dog-ish). We folded it in half, and Ellie sewed up two sides with the sewing machine. We turned it inside out and added dog features using scraps of felt and fabric pens, then we filled it up with beans. We used aduki beans; I buy dried beans in bulk for cooking and sprouting so we had plenty. It took about half a pound of dried beans to fill a bag this size. I also added some dried lavender from Steph's garden. Ellie slip-stitched it closed (and I went over the seams to make sure there were no holes big enough for beans to escape through), and it was finished.

Thirty seconds in the microwave heats up the bag so it's cosily warm but not too hot to hold against your skin. It also releases the lavender scent. The bag keeps its temperature for half an hour to an hour, so it's not as good a bedwarmer as a hot water bottle, but it's a cosy cuddle for aches and pains, or poorly children at bedtime.

16 comments:

bartb said...

You could try cherry pits instead of beans; they can be heated a bit longer and keep their heat for quite a while...

benjymous said...

What are the "best before" issues with these things? My wife had a commercially bought one which sat in a box under our bed for years - she came to use it a few months ago only to find it'd gone off, and seemed to be inhabited with a colony of tiny weevils!

Chile said...

That is an adorable bag!

Joanna said...

Great dog!

I was going to ask just the same question as benjymous ... how long before you need to renew the beans? And do you renew the essential oil every time you use it? Or every few times?

Love the idea of using cherry stones, although we'll have to wait until next year, then keep them safe until it's cold enough to want to use them ... I think there are several hurdles there for me to fail at ;)

Joanna
joannasfood.blogspot.com

Melanie Rimmer said...

As long as they don't get wet they last forever. Did yours get damp somehow, Benjymous? I've bought dried beans that suddenly developed little critters inside a sealed jar. Must have been eggs in amongst the beans.

Shona said...

I used to make these out of cheap white rice and knee-length cotton socks. No sewing involved, just tie a knot in the end once you've filled it with rice.

With those I found that after several months of continuous use the rice starts to disintergrate and they would need refilling.

If left unused, then they are liable to attack by the usual storecupboard pests that eat dried foods: flour beetles, psocids, etc.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I don't agree.
For me you just can't beat a nice cuddly traditional rubber hot water bottle. They are the best invention ever!

Matron said...

What a brilliant idea! My electric blanket has just broken down - I might just make one!

kethry said...

the only thing i would add, as a cautionary tale with this kind of home made warmer (whether using cherry pits, rice, beans) is that repeated heating can dry the contents out to the point where they start to smoulder.. and you can imagine the consequences then. The NZ fire brigade put out a warning a while back about people using this kind of thing to heat beds before they got into the bed, or even while they were still asleep - the bags would smoulder inside for a while before catching flame. The way to avoid it is to either put a cup of water in the microwave with your bag, so that steam enters the bag (and thus prevents it drying out) or to flick/lightly spray water over the surface of the bag so that, again, on microwaving it, steam is created. You don't need to do this every time - one in three times will do.

Sorry to be so cautionary and sensible, but i figure: better forewarned and forearmed.

other than that: the bags are lovely! I made some rice with lavender ones for christmas last year for people, little ones to act as handwarmers inside pockets. They do the job lovely :)

keth
xx

Allotment Lady said...

What a lovely and comforting bag - and I agree - lavender is a wonderful smell and so soothing at bedtime

Steph in Roker said...

I love the idea of handwarmers, a new twist to add to winter walks. Hang on, I like holding hands with my 'babies' to stop their fingers turning blue. I'll be redundant. Arrgh. I'M GOING TO START A CAMPAIGN AGAINST HANDWARMERS. WHO'S WITH ME??????

tegdirb92 said...

what a great idea! I used to make bean warmers like these when I was quilting to ease my aching neck when straining. The beans keep the heat for a long time!! Great job.

joanie said...

What a great project for children with it's straight edges - and cozy too!

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Anonymous said...

Try using wheat when making a heat pack the heat stays for quite awhile also use a cup of water when your microwaving it

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