Activity of the day: Make an oat, rice or bean herbal microwave hot bag
These are lovely and reassuring if you’re feeling a bit under the weather or it’s cold or just generally could do with something warm.
Most commercial hot bags are filled with wheat grain- which isn’t something you’re likely to be able to get hold of easily. Fortunately, rolled (porridge) oats, rice, maize (NOT popcorn!) or beans also work well.
You can make a simple rectangular or round hot bag, or go a bit further and make a teddy as something a bit more special. Sock bears work really well as hot bags, or of course choose any fabric you like. Use cotton or linen to make sure the fabric will be OK with heat- plastic fabrics like polyester and nylon can melt and burn so aren’t such a good idea in case you overheat the bag by mistake.
If you're feeling poorly and not up to sewing, simply filling a sock with oats and tying it shut will work fine, too- though it will be a bit less elegant and leave you with an unmatched sock (so maybe make two oat bags in that case?)...
For a simple hot bag
Cut out two pieces of fabric about the same size as A5 paper (half a normal sheet)
Sew around the edges using backstitch or a small machine stitch, leaving a gap about 5cm long on one side.
You now have an inside-out bag.
Turn the bag out the right way
If you want to be really certain the bag won’t leak and make it softer, you can line the inside of the bag with another layer of scrap fabric- the photos show a double bag like this.
Fill with your grain and herbs. You could add a little herb essential oil or perfume if you like but this is not necessary if you use a strong-smelling herb like lavender, mint or coriander seed. Choose something you like the smell of or you’ll get very fed up!
Sew the hole in the bag closed using small stitches- they need to be small so the filling doesn’t fall out!
You now have a complete hot bag. Put it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until it’s as hot as you like- the time will depend on your microwave’s power and how big your bag is. Be careful not to make the bag too hot and don’t leave unattended while heating. Make a note of how long the bag took to heat up so that you can do it all in one go next time.
Give the contents a squidge to make sure there are no very hot spots, then enjoy your lovely warm bag!
If your bag doesn't seem to be working so well after a while, try spraying or sprinkling on a little water to revitalise it- microwaves heat up the bonds in water really well and water is very good at holding on to a lot of heat, so this is a good trick for making your bag work better!