1.2.3…Projects, Warmth, and Lavender

Seattle’s onslaught of dreary drizzle has begun, and this weekend felt downright cold. When my alarm went off on Saturday, I begrudgingly opened one eye and saw only a sea of gray outside my window. It was hardly an inspiring vision as I tried to coax myself out of bed. Pulling the covers back over my head, I tried to ignore the outside a little longer, but my to-do list glowed brighter in my brain. Torn between what it would take to stay under my duvet forever and how many extra hours per day I would need to accomplish everything, my head began to spin in a familiar way. I can best describe it as ungrounded unrest – like a circus act trying to juggle too many bowling pins while balancing on a ball. To calm this feeling, there is one foolproof solution for me……Jesse Vincent

1) *Project* Time !

Doing a small art, craft, or cooking project has the power to ground and center me, and it clears my head. Some of my satisfaction in doing a project comes from its *completion.*  Life is a continuous work in progress. It is refreshing, for a change, to create, hold, and marvel at a finished product. The other thing I love about projects is the chance to create *beauty.*  To be clear, I don’t think a beautiful creation needs to look professional or even aesthetically pleasing. I’ve rarely made anything perfect, and sometimes the end product is a common place item. But even in the smallest, most mundane project, I find beauty in the act of creating something from unassuming parts and pieces, and in producing something that has form and function. I also find beauty in taking a break from routine and focusing on the sensory details of what is in front of me while truly becoming immersed in its creation. So on Saturday, I set out to do just that…

2) *Warmth*

Make Your Own Heating Bag

My to-do list suggested I needed a fairly quick and simple project, and I wanted to make something that would address the gloomy chill of the day. I seemed to be craving  *warmth.*

Growing up, we had “rice bags” around the house–simple sacks filled with dried rice that you could heat in the microwave and drape on your body to *soothe* an aching muscle or a chill in your bones. The memory of their warmth reminded me of *snuggling* up on the couch with one, hitting pause, and taking a little bit of time to relax. What a perfect and comforting project for the day…

I began by consulting my box of leftover fabric scraps from ghosts of projects past (I might be a hoarder). A Seattle Seahawks print and a bright green fabric caught my eye and seemed like they were meant to be paired together. An added bonus, I would now have the perfect accessory for watching football at home (Go Hawks!).  Since I would be putting the final product in the microwave, I made sure both fabrics were cotton so as not to take chances with zapping an unknown synthetic blend. I also made sure the  fabric had no glitter, plastic decals, or metal embellishments.

I cut the fabric in a 16”x10” rectangle , although you can make these any size. Lining up the fabrics so that both “right sides”  (the brighter, intended  pattern of the cloth) touched and faced inward, I sewed 3 edges together (2 long, 1 short) using a 0.5” seam allowance. Then, flipping the bag “right side out” so the intended pattern faced outward, I sewed 2 vertical lines parallel to the long edge, dividing the bag into even thirds. My intention with these divisions was to keep the filling somewhat evenly distributed. Next, I went to work identifying what to put inside. While the heating bags of my past were filled with rice, I wanted to try something different. I had a big bag of flax seeds in my fridge that I wasn’t using (did I mention I might be a hoarder?) and after a quick Google search to determine the effectiveness of microwaving them, I settled on flax as my heat conduit. Turning back to my sewing machine, I noticed a dried bouquet of lavender on my counter that I had harvested at the end of summer. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to include scent, so I grabbed it too.

I mixed about 5 cups of flax seeds with the dried lavender flowers from about 15 stems, and filled my fabric bag with the heavenly scented mixture, making sure that there was the same amount in each third. The bag felt about 60%-70% full. I liked this because the bag felt weighty while still having enough room for the flax to move and adjust without being too turgid, but really it’s about personal preference. With that, I finished sewing the 4th side. I opted to fold both shorter ends over about half an inch and sew them in place so that a little bit of the Seahawks fabric was visible from the green side. I always think boarders look nice, and it felt like an extra strong finish.

And that was that! In no time at all, I had made something. I felt accomplished and excited to tackle the rest of my work that day with a clear head and new focus-with my heating bag in use already, of course. As I felt it *radiate* heat, I smiled at the blessing and luxury of *warmth,* and let the gratefulness radiate inward.

3) *Lavender*

To use the heating bag, I put mine in the microwave for 2 minutes on normal power, and stand there and watch it spin in anticipation. It comes out warm, cozy, and beautiful. The real stroke of genius, however, was adding lavender because the smell is so *transfixing*. I usually take it out of the microwave, put it on my chest, and sit there for a solid minute to relax and breathe in its essence. Lavender has to be one of my all time favorite things. In the summer it grows so abundantly near my parents’ house, that the smell instantly transports me to the experience of standing on their lawn in the summer sun and watching the sea of purple sway in the salty breeze. Bees constantly swarm the flowers, hungry for the precious nectar. Even in the throes of our Fall rain, the smell reminds me of lavender ice cream, bubble baths, and sunshine. Lavender is also incredibly medicinal, helping  with insomnia, anxiety, skin maladies and beyond, as well as being an antiseptic, cleanser, and rodent repellent. What a *gift from nature.*  I’m so happy to have this small bag of purple sunshine now, to help me get through the long winter.  — —J

(c)photos by Jesse Vincent and Georgia Vincent

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