Thursday, July 1, 2010

Keeping My Cool

Hubs will be the first to tell you that I'm a big weenie when it comes to heat. I honestly think there's a little glitch in my system somewhere that makes me that way, but I guess I won't know for sure until I get a chance to ask the Big Guy that made me, and once I get to that point, I'm not sure I'll care anyway.

But I digress.

This summer, Goose has wanted to spend more time outside than at any other time in her little life. I am just starting to wrap my mind around the fact that means tons of bug spray and baths, let alone the HEAT. (Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite bug repelling methods, by the way - I'm still looking for one that works besides greasy DEET.)

Today, I whipped up some neck coolers and sponge balls. I looked at a few tutorials for neck coolers (including Salihan Crafts, Heather Lessiter, and Aquadiamonds) but they're all more or less the same: make a long, skinny tube of fabric, stitch across the width of it several inches in on one end, add the crystals, stitch several inches in on the other end, fold in your edges and sew. You soak the cooler in water to activate the crystals, tie it around your neck, and do your thing.

[Edited to add: I made four more for my nieces, and I loosely followed the Aquadiamonds pattern which instructs you to sew several inches in (which makes your tie on one end), add 1/4 teaspoon or so of crystals, sew a few inches up to make a pocket or channel for those crystals, add more crystals, stitch across again, etc. I didn't follow the measurements in the instructions; rather I put pins to mark where I wanted the ties to end/cooler to begin on each end, then I pinned to mark the middle, then I pinned to mark the quarter-way points. So, I ended up with four pockets for the crystals.

Since one of the coolers was for my two-year-old niece, I made hers shorter than the others. I didn't change the amount of crystals I used (1/4 teaspoon per pocket or channel) and hers got pretty tight after soaking the same amount of time as the others that were larger. I plan to re-do mine and Goose's to add the pockets, and I will decrease the amount of crystals in hers.

Also, I discovered that after two days of soaking (in a bowl - not in a cooler!), the crystals that started out smaller than the "bead" on the non-business end of my sewing pins became a bit bigger than a marble. So these things really expand - be aware.]

I made one for me and a smaller one for Goose. Here they are before and after soaking:

(Should you happen to click on the above pic to make it larger, you'll notice that the fabric has kitties on it. :>))

Yup, that's my cluttered countertop, in all its glory. I didn't bother to measure the crystals and I wish that I would have... I was trying to get that part of the project done before the 3 year old got interested in what I was doing. Her smaller cooler could probably have used more crystals, I think.

My biggest obstacle in getting these made was finding the polymer crystals. I didn't want to buy them online and have to wait for them to arrive, but I couldn't get them locally via Wal-Mart or the regional garden store chain. This morning, in a burst of creative genius, I stopped at the local flower shop - success! I ended up with about 2/3 of a cup, which is way, way more than I need, and paid $5, which I thought was too much. But it was the best I could do, and it worked!

The other thing I made was Sponge Balls. I stopped at the dollar store after hitting the flower shop and picked up two bags of sponges for $1 each. Turns out they were miscellaneous and random rejects in varying sizes, shapes and types. I just cut them into strips and went with it, though. The results are kinda cute, I thought:

I'm really looking forward to smacking my brother in the back of the head with these--- I mean, tossing them around with Goose and my nieces.

If there's a Frugal Friday this week, I'll be submitting this post, so if you want more frugal tips, check out Life As Mom.


Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

The sponge balls are ADORABLE!!!

Kim said...

I need to make some of those neck coolers. They would be great for Hubs working in the yard and me in the garden. Just need to find some of those polymer crystals. Does WalMart normally carry such things?

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

Kim, my WM didn't, but yours might. I asked in the garden section, not sure if there's another place they might be. Check with a flower shop!

Jenn @ Delicious Ambiguity said...

Hi You’ve got a great blog and I think you’d be interested in mine. I’d love it if you’d link up to my Tot Tuesdays party- a linky party dedicated to all things toddler: Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

I made the sponge balls with Girl Scouts for the last day of camp! They LOVED them and had a great time on a hot day!