Recently our heater went on the blink. The heating company that DF prefers wasn’t able to give us an appointment for almost two weeks – unless, that is, we wanted to pay extra for an after-hours visit.
Nope, we didn’t, even though temperatures dropped into the mid-20s at night and only into the high 40s during the day. We had plenty of split wood so we kept the fireplace insert stoked.
Nothing froze. In fact, the living room got a little too warm from time to time. However, the home office is farthest away from the heat source and it wasn’t exactly toasty. Most days I was plenty comfortable with a bathrobe over my sweats and T-shirt.
And when I wasn’t? I used the perfect frugal chill-chaser.
The rice sock, also known as “the frugal heating pad,” made all the difference in the world. Draped around my neck, the solid heat radiated warmth all the way down my spine. If your neck is warm, the rest of you is warm, too.
Rice, rice baby
It’s a pretty simple to make: Pour raw rice onto a sock or a cloth bag, tie it shut and microwave it until it’s very warm. Most people use this for aches and pains, but it’s also a great way to stay cozy in a chilly house.
Rice isn’t the only possible medium. People use popcorn, wheat, flax, oatmeal and even cherry pits. Anything that’s malleable enough to mold itself around a stiff knee or aching neck should work.
Last year, shortly before I moved back to Alaska, a severe windstorm knocked out the power in Anchorage. Outage lengths varied, but DF’s neighborhood was juiceless for about three days.
The fireplace insert blazed then, too – with a clay baking dish atop its ledge. DF put a rice sock in the dish, and at bedtime would run the sock up and down the bedsheets to warm them before he had to crawl in.
Back in the day people used live coals inside a warming pan to heat their sheets. It was also common to put a hot brick wrapped in flannel at the foot of the bed to radiate heat during the night.
DF and I keep each other warm, but we did recently treat ourselves to flannel sheets. No sense leaping into a pool of icy percale night after night. Besides, we used a coupon.