When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Worth Keeping In Your Pockets -- January 2014

Last week was apparently a time for breaking down.  I spent seven days knocked flat by the flu (a rare occurrence for me as I don't usually get sick); Matt fell ill a couple of days after I did, and then, as if in sympathy for our misery, my laptop decided to break down, too, getting stuck in a continuous loop of trying to start itself up without getting anywhere at all.  Matt and I are both feeling better this week (hooray!), my laptop is fixed after a visit to a repair shop (hooray!), and I figure today is a good day for a winter edition of Worth Keeping In Your Pockets.  Here are a few wonderful things that have brought me some comfort and happiness during a rather challenging week.

Loose Leaf Tea:  Matt discovered a Distinctly Tea shop near his office a few years ago, and every year since, I've been happy to find several little bags of their loose leaf teas in my stocking at Christmas, which I especially enjoy in the winter months.  There are many different varieties available, and all of the ones I've tried have made a lovely cup of tea that smells incredible and is deliciously warming.  I steep the teas using a Bodum at home, or in a stainless steel travel tea mug similar to this one if I want to take my hot drink to go. My favourite blends are the Rooibos ones; the Cinnamon Delight is especially nice.

The Book wild by Cheryl Strayed:  There's nothing that quite helps you to forget about how awful you feel than getting lost in an excellent book.  I picked up this novel one day last week while I was lying around and I couldn't put it down; Cheryl tells a beautiful and compelling story of how she hiked a thousand miles of the Pacific Coast Trail on her own after the death of her mother.  The book is both heartbreaking and triumphant -- it was one of the most affecting books I've read in awhile.

Homemade Hand Warmers:  I was browsing Etsy one day before Christmas and I came across some great little homemade hand warmers, small rectangular cloth "bean bags" filled with rice or barley that could be heated in the microwave for thirty seconds or so and tucked into pockets or mittens to keep hands toasty warm on cold winter days.  My friend Yolanda, who has a wonderful talent for sewing and a fantastic collection of fabrics, kindly agreed to make some of these for me and they've been such a useful thing during the awfully cold days we've been having here.  The hand warmers measure about three inches by four inches, and Yolanda lined them with cotton flannel inside to give them a nice weight and feel.  I sent a set to my mom, and she told me they also work great to relieve sinus pain when you're suffering from a cold.  They're such a simple little thing, but they make a big difference in the bone-chilling winter weather.  If you're good with a sewing machine, you could easily make some of these for yourself!

Badger Eucalyptus and Mint Rub:  It's hard to get the sleep you need when you're sick and you can't stop coughing at night or your sinuses are completely blocked and it's impossible to breathe right.  A soothing ointment rubbed on the chest and throat can help relieve these symptoms temporarily, but the popular commercial brand of this kind of product I used to use contains some ingredients that I'm uncomfortable with, so I stopped using it on myself and the boys a number of years ago. Last winter I discovered a natural chest rub made by Badger -- it contains soothing and pleasant essential oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, and tangerine, and they're mixed in a base of olive oil, castor oil, and beeswax.  I used this rub at bedtime several nights last week and found it worked really well to help me breathe and rest more comfortably.

Upcycled Books:  I love when someone is able find a creative way to take something that is simply going to be thrown out and make something new and useful out of it.  Such is the case with Margi Laurin, who rescues old discarded library books on their way to being destroyed and turns them into charming notebooks and journals.  Margi intersperses blank pages with pages from the original book, some of which have handwritten names or notes on them, and binds them with the book's original cover. All of these details give the new notebooks great character.  Matt discovered Margi's work at The One of a Kind Show in Toronto and has given me a couple of different notebooks as gifts.  They are some of my favourite places to jot down ideas.

Q.bits Extreme:  Will saw this game in a local shop several months ago and immediately put it on his Christmas wish list.  Santa delivered, but really the game has been a gift for the four of us because we all love playing it so much!  Each player has his or her own set of coloured cubes and must race to recreate the pattern shown on the card that is turned over.  There are four unique rounds that can be played, each one offering a different kind of brain challenge.  This is a great game for families to enjoy together when the cold weather keeps people indoors.

A Cute Squirrel:  This little fella has been hanging around our kitchen window quite a lot in the past week, and his antics (plus the fact that when he squeaks he sounds just like one of the dearly loved Woodsey toys my brother had when we were little) have brought some lively cheer to dreary winter days. I can't provide a link where you can get a cute, feisty little red squirrel of your own, unfortunately ;) , but hopefully this picture will bring you a smile today.

What great things have you discovered and are you enjoying this winter?  I'd love it if you'd share them in the comments section below.  Keep smiling.  :)

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