Monday, February 19, 2018

Toasty Toes (and other things)

I get asked a lot of weird questions.  Like, “Mom.  Which would win in a fight: ankylosaurus or a stegosaurus?" (Does it matter since they're extinct?) or “Do you think I look like a cat?” (What answer do you want to hear?)  One time a complete stranger asked me if I had any horseshoes.  Weird.

Consequently, I was unfazed when My Child Who Shall Remain Nameless asked me recently if it was okay to microwave socks.  I thought for maybe two seconds about how I’ve made heating pads out of old single socks filled with uncooked rice that you warm briefly in the microwave and use for things like cramps and muscle aches and answered, “Sure.”

Somehow, though, I was still shocked when, several minutes later, the acrid stench of smoke filled the apartment.  

“What’s burning?” I asked as I quickly trouble-shot the usual suspects — stove, oven, toaster, iron and curling iron.  Everything seemed fine and/ or unplugged, but the smoke smell was getting worse.  And then I noticed it wafting out of our microwave cupboard (it has a tinted door, so you can totally miss the fact that it’s even on until you see billows of smoke!).  I hit the “cancel” button as fast as I could, turned on the kitchen fan, and raced around opening all our windows.  Never mind that it was 22 F outside.  I would rather have an icy wind blowing through our apartment than be that family that caused the whole building to have to evacuate.  

When I felt like the smoke situation was mostly under control, I decided to investigate what meal had been overcooked.  I popped open the microwave door, waving away the new puff of smoke and to my utmost surprise, I found what might have once — very recently — been a pair of socks. They were now something more like ash that crumbled in my fingers when I tried to pick them up.

“What—?  What the —? How — ?  Why?”  I couldn’t even find words for all my questions.

My Child Who Shall Remain Nameless came around the corner as I was trying to sweep the “socks” into the garbage.  “Oh, my socks.”  I gave her a hard stare.  “What?  You said I could put my socks in the microwave.”

All the words were returning to me now. “I meant for like maybe a minute! How long did you put them in for?!” I asked incredulously.  

She looked a little sheepish. “It’s probably better I don’t say.”

“So.... why... were your socks in the microwave anyway?”  

“Because I wanted my feet to be warm and dry.”

Duh.  Of course.  

Can you imagine if my entire building had had to evacuate and they found burned up socks in my microwave?  How would I have explained that? “No, no,” (awkward laugh), “we weren’t going to eat them! We just wanted warm feet!” We’d have been Those Crazy Americans.  Actually, we probably are anyway, but this would have been solid evidence.  

Friends and *coughcough* offspring, please know there are better ways to have warm feet (and other body parts) than by putting clothes in the microwave.  Until a few days ago, it's been seriously cold, enough to where any exposed part of me felt like this (found near my kids' school).

But I've survived reasonably comfortably, thanks to the following:

1) Fleece-lined tights and leggings. It recently occurred to me during the course of conversation with some friends that not everyone knows about these! But I would not be surviving here, I’m sure, without them. My favorite leggings are these (the image is a little weird, IMO).  They have super thick, plush fleece on the inside, like wearing a cozy coat on your legs.  There are two small drawbacks: first, they’re so thick you can’t really layer them under skinny jeans, so I usually wear tights for that.  I love wearing dresses, though, so these are what I grab on cold days when I want to wear a dress.  The other problem is their weird seams in the front and back (just check out the link).  I would wear them with more items if they didn’t have that.  But they hold up great; I’ve worn mine pretty constantly for almost two winters now and they are barely showing any wear.  

My favorite fleece-lined tights are these.  They are fairly thick and hold up well too. They just aren’t quite as cozy as those leggings, but I can squeeze them under skinny jeans and still breathe.  

Because I do try to buy ethically made as much as possible, I tried these made-in-America tights, but I don't love hem.  They aren’t really fleece — actually aren’t really cozy at all — and their material seems to snag too easily.  I do wear them under jeans, though. 

2) the Land's End Coat pictured above.  How do you do gifts for your spouse or significant other?  I usually send Matt a list of things to choose from, though sometimes he goes out on a limb — with varying degrees of success.  But for this, I laid it all out there: “Honey, I know I have other coats and jackets, but I want this coat and I need it for my life, and I have a fifty-percent-off code.”  Honestly, we’d talked about me getting a coat like this long before Christmas, and he kept asking why I didn’t have it yet, but the coupon made it feel very present-ish.  I have been living in this thing, though, and it would have been worth full price.  (This is not a sponsored post, just my honest opinion.). This is what most of my local friends have seen me in since Christmas if they ran into me outside. It's apparently sold out, so I'm not the only one who loved it, but here's a similar one.  (different zipper, and mine is longer)  I’m trying to figure out a male equivalent coat that Matt would like, and hoping to snag a deal as winter comes to an end.  Any recommendations?

3) Uniqlo has wonderful layering items for the winter.  I didn’t know about Uniqlo prior to moving here, but there is one a quarter of a mile from my apartment.  Then I found out they are opening stores stateside.  Their HeatTech shirts are amazing.  I bought both the lighter ones and the extra-warm.  I only wear the thicker ones when we have plan to be outdoors in the super-cold, like when we were walking all over Seoul or playing in the snow — they are very warm.  But I wear the thinner ones all the time.  I’ve bought them for Matt as well, and he loves them (so guys, this post is also for you.  You’re welcome.).

There’s plenty more I could talk about, but these are the essentials keeping me toasty — without cooking any of my clothes.  What are your favorite winterwear items for staying cozy and warm sans microwave?