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Friday, November 9, 2007

Bun warmin' bed warmers

Freeze Yer Buns ChallengeAs temperatures start to dip, I thought I would start sharing some of my hints and tips to keep warm at night.

First off, I can't sleep if my feet are cold. It's almost painful - I think that's what keeps me awake. So, lately I've been quite bundled up in lots of layers in addition to adding an extra blanket.

We haven't busted out the down comforter yet and probably won't need to if we keep the heat at the new adjusted temp of 62 at night. But Mr. Crunchy has been sleeping back in bed again instead of upright so I may start sneaking it down lower when nobody's looking.

We don't do space heaters or electric blankets, although I do see their merit in allowing the overall house temperature to drop, without you truly freezing yer buns off. Since we don't own either and I'm not inclined to buy them, we use alternative methods instead.

So, do you want to know my secret weapon? I thought you'd never ask.

It's a bed warmer. Last year I researched like the dickens what the best bed warmer for me would be. You see, normally, my husband sleeps really hot so he can't stand extra blankets. I end up putting them on just my side of the bed. Plus he doesn't like flannel sheets very much. So, climbing into a cold bed with cold, cotton sheets isn't exactly comfy.

I thought about a hot water bottle and they come in all fancy sorts of varieties with fuzzy, plushy characters, but I was afraid that it would pop and then I'd be left with water soaking my bed. I know this probably isn't a reasonable fear, but I think a wet bed is worse than a cold bed. Plus, once the water cools down, now you have a cold water bottle. No thanks.

And then there are the microwaveable bed warmers. No, I'm not talking about those gel packs. I'm talking about those kinds that are filled with rice or some sort of other material that holds heat for a little while and conforms to whatever shape you want. Also, another woman has recommended using deer corn as the best filler. But the thought of having to microwave the bejeesus out of the corn to kill off mold spores, eggs and critters wasn't what I was looking for.

Cherry pit heating padSomehow I managed to stumble upon cherry pit bed warmers, which are like the rice ones but filled with, well, cherry pits. Not too surprisingly, it was from Mother Earth News. They have been used for ages to help heat up a bed and, traditionally, have been heated using a warming oven, but they can be put in your oven's warming drawer, or popped into the microwave. Now, why would I choose cherry pits over rice or another filler? Well, they hold heat for a lot longer - upwards of 2+ hours in my experience. And, it smells like cherry pie when you heat it. I must admit it is a bit noisy, but well worth it.

When I was in the market for one, I wanted to make my own, but didn't have a sewing machine or the skills, so I bought one (see fancy leopard print one above). However, it's incredibly easy to make your own. Since I'm sure you don't have several pounds of cherry pits lying about, you can buy sanitized pits in bulk from The Cherry Pit Store.

To make a heating pad, just sew a natural fabric bag into whatever size you want and fill halfway up with cherry pits. Sew it shut and heat in the microwave no more than 2-3 minutes until hot. You can make a cover for it or you can just hand wash it by sliding the pits to one side, washing the cover and the sliding them to the other side and washing that side. You can also put it in the washing machine (but don't do this with corn or rice bags!).

The only caveat is that the cherry pits are expensive. So, if cost is an issue, then use rice or cleaned deer corn.

And, if you want to read more than you ever wanted about making your own microwaveable bed warmer, check out the deer corn lady's site.

25 comments:

Deb G said...

Not for everyone, but a couple dogs and a cat make really good bed warmers too. Also, I sleep with socks on when the weather is really chilly. And sometimes a sweatshirt that has a hood. : )

Paula said...

You know, I already have one of the rice warmer things for when I get neckaches. I never thought of using it to warm my feet when I go to bed. My feet are almost always cold when I get to bed and I can't sleep until they warm up. My current warmer is my husband, but he's not happy about the situation at all.

My husband is always warmer than me, so he doesn't want extra blankets. Like you, I do use an extra blanket when it gets really cold, but only on my side of the bed. So far, I haven't needed it yet. But probably will tonight now that I've said that.

AnandaDevika said...

I agree with Deb G - a cuddly furry friend is the best bed warmer! My dog snuggles as close as he can get, so we both stay warm.

I cannot believe there is actually such a thing as a "Cherry Pit Store." :)

Hope everyone is staying warm!

dahlia said...

i have endometriosis and part of my keeping-well plan is a nightly castor oil pack. this means i go to bed with a hot water bottle every night. i've got a simple standard walgreens hot water bottle and it's never popped or leaked. keeps me toasty well into the night, too!

i find sleeping in socks unpleasant, but often sleep in legwarmers made from the sleeves of an old wool sweater; also super cozy and toasty!

stephanie said...

hi Crunchy Chicken,

I'm a (til now) lurker, but just wanted to say that your challenges are inspiring. I've turned my thermostat to 65 day, 55 night. So far, so good.

I have noticed that even with the down quilt, my hands and feet are extremely chilly when i first hop into bed. So this cherry pit bedwarmer idea really intrigues me.

I also happen to have a huge, old cherry tree in our back yard. The cherries aren't edible -- each and every one of them houses a little worm -- but I had never heard of this use for cherry pits before!

I'm wondering, what is the best way to harvest the pits? Does anyone know? How do I clean and sterilize them without using bleach or boiling the heck out of them?

I must try this because I so often rely on an electric heating pad. Sometimes I fall asleep without turning it off, so making these little cherry heating pads might be a more ecological alternative :)

Jennifer said...

I use a combination of two down comforters... one now, one will go on when it becomes unbearable.

Also, I have a pair of warm slippers and a oversized bathrobe right by my bed for middle-of-night excursions. They help incredibly when it is 54 in the house (I can't sleep with warm or bulky pj's on).

When I crawl into bed with freezing feet or hands (which I try not to have by wearing slippers), I stick them on my husband, who is a warm body in bed already. He squeals, and my hands and feet get warm!

Now this won't' work for everyone... I'm sure there are some who would divorce me for such antics.

QT said...

Never in my life would I have thought there would be such a thing as "The Cherry Pit Store" ~

We bust out the down once it gets into the teens at night, and that usually keeps me pretty toasty. My BF is also a VERY hot sleeper, so night time is usually not a time when I am cold at all. I think I might give one of those to my sis, tho. She is always freezing.

frugalrosie said...

I have a big electric heating pad that i plug in and place between the top and bottom sheet about 1/2 hour before bedtime. I have flannel sheets too. I take a hot shower and put on my pj's and socks and then climb into my toasty bed. (i unplug the heating pad first but keep it by my feet while it cools.

Melinda said...

Great suggestion. So far we've been good with a comforter and a couple of furry friends, with the occasional socks. The cherry pit idea intrigues me, though. We gave away our microwave to save energy, but I'm trying to think of another way to heat them up...

BTW, when I was in high school, I slept with an electric blanket because I was pretty skinny and always cold. One morning I woke up when my alarm went off and smelled smoke. My hair was on fire! I was extremely lucky that my alarm went off when it did - the electric blanket somehow got too hot, burned through the blanket, and was burning my hair. Be VERRRRRY careful with electric blankets!

I lived with short hair for a while and have not used an electric blanket since. Aside from the added electricity usage, it's just not worth your safety!

Oldnovice said...

My second daughter made me a rice heater 20 years ago or so because I suffered from back pain. My husband hurt his back recently, so I dug the thing out of the garage. It's an adult-sized tube sock with a knot tied at the end after the rice is inserted. No sewing required. She wrote instns for use in fabric marker. Microwave 1-2 minutes. Works really well, but I never would have thought to take it to bed.

Laura said...

My pup won't stay on the bed with me! :/ She cuddles and leaves and that does not warm the toes. Ah well. :)
So, my future my be in the Pits.
Stephanie ~ I was reading the Mother Earth link in Crunchy's post and it seems to tell you how to clean/prep the Pits. :) Sweet!

stephanie said...

Oops, I missed that -- thanks Laura!

Anonymous said...

I can't fall asleep either when my feet are cold, so I often wear wooly socks to bed. I've also found if I drape one of my kids' old baby afghans over my head, that helps me warm up enough to fall asleep. Usually once my body heat warms up the bed, I can take off the socks and afghan. The flannel sheets and 3 blankets are usually plenty for me - the wonders of being postmenopausal! lol

Carrie said...

I've used a hot water bottle for years and never had it break on me :) Love that thing.

However now I have to urge to slowly save our summer cherry pits. I mean, why not? :)

Anita said...

I can get in bed, and still be like a block of ice several hours later... I absolutely cannot wear socks when I'm sleeping - it drives me crazy! I used to use an electric blanket, but because of possible health concerns I stopped... My mom has several of these, and I keep meaning to make myself some... I think seeing your post has motivated me to get it done!! :)

camp mom said...

I'd heard about the cherry pits from a friend of mine but haven't tried it. I always had cold feet til my sis-in -law knitted me a pair of slippers from fibers sheared off her llamas. She also spins the fiber. Haven't had cold feet in several years just go to bed with the slippers on. While I am not fond of sleeping with socks ort slippers on the cold feet is far worse.

We are pulling out the extra blankets to use. We decicded on 56 degrees 24 hours a day until it gets and stays in the teens/or single digit (above or below zero) temps outside. After that we will probably go with 58 at night and 62 during the day.

I think I might just look into the cherry pit store-sounds like something that woudl work for us here. Hope everyone is keeping warm!

Riana Lagarde said...

We have a plethora of pits during the summer. I'll have to clean some off and makes a couple of pillows for everyone.

They call it a two dog night for a reason! My normally uncuddly cat is not snuggling with us. We dont have heat at night when the woodstove goes out. So it can get mighty cold. Polar pjs are very helpful for all of us (though staticy).

We are so happy doing the cloth wipes, btw!

Greenpa said...

Carrie- hurray! hot water bottles are great, and with a little experience, can be tweaked to do almost anything. The only time I've ever had one leak was when somebody ELSE screwed the top in- and just didn't bother to make sure it was seated properly. I've NEVER had the bottle itself leak; they're really tough.

And you don't really wind up with a cold water bottle- you wind up with a warm bed; and usually the bottle is still slightly warm to the touch in the morning.

Cynthia said...

I can't imagine pits in a bag to be very comfy. Warm yes, but laying my feet on them ... kind of bumpy?

I like the rice because it is small and squishy (only description I can think of).

Feedback on being bumpy, solicited.

kelley said...

i sleep in a second-hand cashmere sweater with holes - it's warm and feels a little luxurious, too.

stella said...

I was nervous about hot water bottles, too, but that's what we use when visiting my hubby's family in France. They are really cozy!

Patty said...

I smiled when I saw this, we heat with wood only, we use dead, downed trees to heat our house and I can tell that our house is feeling pretty good at 52 in the morning when the fire has died down ! Sometimes we can see our breath in the house when we all have slept too good and no one got up in the night to throw another log on : ) Great thing going on here !

Anonymous said...

Here in the UK traditional rubber hot water bottles are still very popular despite the many alternatives which are now available. You just have to see them all in our pharmacies and hardware shops to know how popular they are.
I love my hot water bottle and use one all the year round: In winter I have two!
As I have a duvet on my bed my bottle never really goes cold. Yes, it cools down overnight but is still around body temperature in the morning.
I’ve used hot water bottles since I was a child which is more years ago than I care to mention, but leaks in the bed have been extremely rare. The bottles last me for years, but when they get old it’s important to check them carefully for cracks, as the rubber will eventually start to perish. That’s the time to think about buying a nice new one.

Anonymous said...

I love Cherry pit hot pads! My feet are like ice in the winter going to bed. I was given a cherry pack a few years ago, and it is well used. Now we have one per person and my family each thinks they need a 2nd one. 2 mins in the microwave and toss them in the bottom of the bed as you crawl in - wonderful! I had a rice sock and it started to smell like urine and leave 'sand' in the bed as it disintegrated. No issues w/the pits and they smell good.

Lychee517 said...

I just found your blog and I really respect and admire what you do!
I live in Japan right now and the winters are COLD! Not so much because of the weather, but because there is no central heat at work or home, only 1room space heaters. So I've leaened a few tricks for staying warm. I also have a problem keeping my toes warm, and it took mild frostbite for me to really look for a solution! I'd like to suggest you give the hot water bottle another chance. Maybe look for a Japanese brand? Mine really heats up a good portion of the bed and stays warm (enough to wash your face) till morning! They don't use the rubber kind here so no worries about bursting. Mine is plastic (*ashamed* but it was cheaper and I won't be disposing it any time soon) but they have metal varieties. The antiques are ceramic. And they come with a cloth bag so it can't burn you. With one of these and a warm blanket, my husband and I can turn off the heat entirely at night!
Good Luck! And I look forward to reading your book!

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