Monthly Archives: August 2013

Guest Accommodations

Unless you have extra rooms or you are an ’empty nester’, you may be pressed for room when you have someone stay overnight or longer. Consider planning ahead and being creative.
Years ago I had the most darling townhouse. I had planned on finishing the basement and adding a bedroom, as many people in the complex had, but I never got that far. The two bedrooms upstairs were occupied by my husband and me in one and the other by our sons. What I did do was instead of buying a sofa, I put a daybed in the living room. We had several guests stay on it and it came in very handy when my husband broke his ankle which made going upstairs very difficult. It was very handy when I was ill, as I could rest while the kids were nearby. And it was deep and comfortable enough for the boys to nap on when they were little.
When we moved, it was here, twelve-hundred miles away to a bigger place, but no one liked my daybed. The people here refused to sit on it. It didn’t look like a bed, per se. Even with its cover set and some extra sofa-type throw pillows, it just wasn’t something the “Locals” accepted. So I moved some of my book shelves from my ‘library’, moved them into the living room and put the daybed in there. Someone I knew was moving and offered a sofa-bed to me, which I put in the living room. Someone else offered a nice set of bunk beds which I put in one son’s room. The other son decided that he liked the top bunk, so I had an extra bed in his room. When an old friend brought his son and three daughters to visit us, I had more than enough room for them all. I no longer have all that room, the daybed is gone. But I still have the bunk beds and I now have a double bed in the other bedroom, and we have always had a roll-away bed. So although it is usually just my husband and me, we often have our grandson, and sometimes our two granddaughters, stay with us. What we have now, I have plenty of room when my cousin, her husband and their two children come from two states away for Thanksgiving, which is nice.
That is a luxury, I know, but if you don’t have a spare room or two, do consider a sofa bed, a daybed, or a futon that flattens out or some of the other ideas within this posting.
There are air mattresses that I am told are very comfortable and convenient; frankly, I could not get up and down from them any more,(bad knees). I had a group of young people here some years back and even the recliners were taken as sleeping places. (I insisted that fitted sheets be pulled over the chairs before they slept and they really make an acceptable bed.)
Be creative. If there are young people, consider using the floor. With enough extra quilts underneath, it usually works. Young ones like to build ‘houses” or ‘tents’, in living rooms or on the floors of their parent’s room; let them have fun.
If you have camping equipment, pad and sleeping bags work well for this. If you don’t have pads, use quilts.

Find those quilts on sale and be stocked; throw none away when they are a bit worn, you redecorate or change the size of your bed, and that goes for sheets. You can always use them as ‘tents’ or for sofas and chairs. Where do you put them? Under beds, up high in closets, stacked on the floor in closets, in cubby-holes under stairs, piled on a spare bed, or folded and stacked in an empty corner of a bedroom or den, out of the way. You can use one of those extra sheets or thinner bedspreads to cover them, if you don’t have the blanket bags they came in. (If you sew or know someone with a sewing machine, you can straight-stitch a couple of sheets and make “bags” for the blankets…You could do it by hand. You can buy blanket storage bags. If you have room, you can buy a blanket box. (I have a large one, but it holds material for sewing projects that I usually take forever to get done!). Is anyone old enough to remember “Hope Chests”? In some circles they were given to teenage girls in the ‘hope’ for their future home. In it they collected fancy housewares, especially linens, to take with them to their home when they got married. I am sure this practice in the United States has fairly well died-out, since it was a hangover from a girl going into a marriage with a dowry and a trousseau. At any rate, if there is one in your family or you find one at a garage sale, grab it. They were made to fit at the bottom of a bed and can be used as a blanket box. A foot locker will do, too. Fine blanket boxes can be placed in any room and could easily be used as a coffee table, or if padded as mine is, can be as a window seat or a bench.

Some of my quilts are in a wardrobe, some stay stacked on an unused chair in my bedroom. And do have extra pillows. You can put shams on them and leave them in plain sight or even used on a bed sofa as boosters.
There are a number of not only sofas but large chairs out there that open up to beds. I have seen a revival of ‘trundle beds’, small, low beds that roll out from under other beds. These are nice for children to have guests in for ‘sleep-overs’. Some people are putting “Murphy beds” in rec rooms, dens or bedrooms that they usually use for other purposes. Murphy beds are beds that pull down from a wall, they were very common in studio apartments at one time. They are usually hidden behind fold-away doors until needed; sometimes they look like paneling or stand free in a frame that looks like a set of shelves. Some hidden, fold-away beds are build to slowly lower and gently tuck the shelves that usually show underneath, so that the shelves are useful,(they remain upright and won’t dump what is held on them; think “Ferris Wheel”). Some fold away beds are build high, over another bed, to be pulled down when needed;( think “train compartment”).
I have seen antique furniture that look like a dresser, but found that they open to a bed. I guess people have always looked for a place to put guests when they have little space. The modern answer to that are upholstered ‘cubes’ that look like a large ottoman but unfolds to a narrow bed. Very convenient! I have seen what looks like a nice upholstered bench that turns into a single bed, as well.
Some of the newer, lighter, ‘roll-away’ beds now fold very flat and can be stored under another bed, or daybed. Or some that look like a beautiful narrow upholstered or wooden box that will fit up against a wall or behind a piece of furniture.

So, seriously consider where you just might be able to have an extra person or two sleep, or as I did, have a, (reasonably), comfortable place on each floor of your home, be it a daybed, futon, or fold-out sofa/chair or a hidden bed. You never know when you just might get a chance to have a nice visit with someone, or, in keeping with my recent theme, be prepared in an emergency.

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Personal Emergency Preparedness/Gift Idea

In the previous five postings I discussed emergency preparedness from food to clothing, lighting and health care in general. I’d like to take this opportunity to advise you about being packed or semi-packed for an emergency, and what a thoughtful gift either a full travel bag or partial one makes.

Although I normally consider the bags necessary for hospital stays , they would be time-savers and life-savers in any other emergency that made you leave home quickly.

It took me some time to think of this, several emergencies, actually. After nearly sending my husband home with instructions as to what to bring to me when our then two-year old son had a concussion, I should have known that a bag should be ready. But, like most people, even a near-stay in a hospital with a child,(the docs decided to release him), I figured it would never happen again. When I got sent to the hospital some years later with a kidney stone, I was not prepared.
The docs saw another problem and when the kidney stone gave me trouble two weeks later, I had a bag packed, and was ready for subsequent hospital visits, even those for tests that should not have been overnight stays; I was ready anyway.

Even then, it took me until a couple of months ago when my son went unexpectedly to the hospital and I had to run out and buy some basics for him that I did consider throwing a bag together that any of my men could use in an emergency.

Ten years ago I had thought to give given a small suitcase to my daughter-in-law before the birth of my grandson. I packed in it what I considered most of the essentials: A nice robe, matching slippers, tooth brush, tooth paste, hair brush, hair ties, dusting powder, deodorant, disposable pink razor, nice lip balm, hand and body lotion, nice soap, facial cleanser and moisturizer…and room for her personal effects.

This idea is not just good for a new mother; anyone you know who will be going into a hospital or finds themselves in a hospital to be with a loved one appreciates the thought and help.

You can go as personal as you’d like, or as expensive as you’d like…depending on your budget, their needs and how well you know the gift recipient. Let those factors be your guide. Does she really need your help? Get as many basics as you can in travel sizes or samples from a cosmetic counter or beauty sales representative and make sure you add the robe and slippers. Can you afford better? You can add her personal fragrance, or line of fragrance products, skin care items, a book, etc. If you don’t feel comfortable giving a particular person hygiene products, then I gave a small case with a bedjacket, maybe some nice dusting powder or lotion, a pair of slippers, a notebook and decent pen, as I have done. Those have been big hits, especially with women facing surgeries that may make them feel that they are losing some of their femininity. Help make them continue to feel womanly and attractive; give them pretty, personal, pampering gifts.

For my men, I have in my closet a bag packed a couple of new boxer briefs, and tee shirts,(fortunately, they are all approximately the same size and only my husband lives with me now), a couple of pairs of socks, slippers, a robe, soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste and a couple of disposable razors…just enough to make any hospital stay comfortable, or to get them ready to get out of there. As a gift for a man, or young man, you can leave out the undergarments, (depending on your relationship, the man’s needs and his embarrassment threshold), but leave the robe and slippers. I’d add a notebook and pen, a book or magazine,(depending on their taste), and lip balm and maybe a nice men’s, or basic, skin lotion . If you know their taste, add aftershave or  body spray,(especially nice for a teenage fellow).

For a child, I’d give a robe and slippers or slipper socks, lip balm, body powder, nice soap. And add a book,(coloring books and crayons for smaller ones, game books for older ones, reading books for all). Add a game that can be played from bed.(I made a tabletop hopscotch game for a young girl who had leg surgery) Or any other without small, lose-able parts that you can think of.
If a family member is spending a great deal of time at the hospital with a loved one, consider a bag for that person. You might consider adding some food treats,(reasonably healthy ones) to the bag as well.

If you are packing a prepared bag for yourself, by all means add undergarments and some very comfortable clothing. You may be somewhere looking after someone else, and you will not be wearing hospital gowns. Make sure you have comfortable shoes.
Pack at least one book, pen and paper or notebook, plus any and all personal needs. Make it items that you will not miss in your daily life, but would be comfortable having or wearing. If money is a problem, start putting away some at a time. Do one for everyone in the family and take into consideration growth-spurts for children. Just today a train derailed and 1000 people needed to evacuate their homes in a southern state. You just never know.

The case need not be expensive, or even actually a case. A zipper or drawstring bag will do just as well. Remember to use your knowledge of the person for whom you are creating the gift. Use the person’s needs, embarrassment threshold and your own budget as a guide.

[Note: I just received a shipment from “Faith ,Soap and Love” of solid cake moisturizer.Tracy makes incredible soaps and lip balm and now this,a spill-proof heavy-duty fragrant moisturizer.  These would be great for a traveler’s gift as they can be taken on airplanes in carry-on luggage,(it isn’t liquid.) See  her products here:Faith, Soaps and Love.

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