What To Do With Hotel Shampoo-Soap-Conditioner-Lotion

What do you do with hotel toiletries?

What do you do with hotel toiletries?

What do you do with those little mini one use size bottles and bars of soap you get in hotel rooms? Most folks who travel regularly already have a bag with their personal toiletries.   We bring from home our preferred personal care products for an assortment of reasons.   You like to use the same face cleanser you use at home.   You are trying to get the most mileage from your last salon visit and use a special shampoo and conditioner.   You may have sensitivities to ingredients or scents.   No matter what the reason those little bottles either go unused or worse yet brought home and still never used.   There is an alternative.   Bring them home and turn them in to a local shelter.   You can collect all those little odds and ends in a box in your home and turn them in a couple times a year to a shelter.   That is what I used to do when I lived in Minneapolis years ago and traveled lots.

This job has put me back on the road tons and once again. I found myself collecting hotel toiletries. I got to thinking about the local woman’s shelter, and how I imagined many of them left with little and what extra they did take was likely for someone else, their kids. I know that organizations that help folks in these circumstances are prepared to help and work with people who leave with just the clothes on their back.   They have donations and supplies that they give out to the folks they help, and the folks they are helping are probably keeping things in garbage and zip lock bags. It inspired me to take a different approach to my travel goodies this year.   Rather than just turn them in,   I wanted to put together not only a travel kit, but a bag that might be used to keep things together for them.   I know how much I appreciated my travel bag that keeps all my personal care products together.

First I had to make or buy the bags for this use.   I had some odds and ends of fabric from quilts I had made, zippers from projects planned never finished and some quality vinyl that I had no idea how it ended in my stash.   I worked up a design and made personal toiletry bags.   Each was unique, some bright and some with more subdued natural colors.   All of them were designed to zip tight for storage.   One side had the vinyl so that you could see all that was in the bags.   It was a little bit of a trial, but I loved making them and seeing all the wonderful fabrics that were sitting around collecting dust take on a new life.

Once I had finished the bags, RangerSir and I loaded them up with the hotel goodies I had brought home this summer. It was then we then we realized that we had several collections of dental visit “prizes.”   There were not enough dental kits to do all the bags, but we added them to as many bags as possible.   This was the moment we realized it was in our power to make these more than a bag with hotel freebies in them. We headed to the local K-Mart to shop.   We got darn lucky in that they had some full-sized toothpaste for $1 each.   It was more than the travel size and less expensive. We had gotten nice things for less than we had planned to spend.   We were now inspired and on a roll.   We stocked up on single package toothbrushes. We found a dental floss on sale.   We found multi-pack combs and bought a couple sets so we could tuck combs in each of the bags.  RangerSir found travel pack Kleenex that I had not thought to include.   Finally we added razors to each one.

My decked out travel bags for the women's shelter

My decked out travel bags for the women’s shelter

These bags will be going to a woman’s shelter here in the local county.   I was thinking of lots of other things that could be added to my bags, but we know not if the recipient will be young or old, alone or in the company of family members.   So I stopped and hope that this is enough to get a person started and know somewhere out there someone is thinking of them and wishing them the best in what is likely a very bad situation.

Gift of Friendship

Now that Christmas has come and gone there is no question what was the greatest gift for me.  It was the gift of friendship.

We have our Montana family friends.   The friends who welcomed RangerSir and I into their home and treated us just like family. Though they have lived in Montana almost their entire lives they get what it is to move and live far away from friends and family.  They have taken us in and treat us like family and include us in holiday activities, birthdays and graduations.   We have attended funerals and met their  extended family.    They are who we call in an crisis and we hopefully provide support when they need it as well.

My lifetime friends now live far away.  The amazing part of this friendship is   though we don’t get together often when we talk it is just like we saw each other just a few days ago.   When we get together we can chat for hours or sit in silence either works and both are OK.   My lifetime friends  know me better than I know myself some times and provide the moment of clarity when I need it most.  We have been through lots together, some of life changing, but most of it just plain fun.  A connection like that has last years, no matter how long the distance, no matter the changes in our lives we are their one another and their friendship makes us whole.

The like a sister friend who lived with me years ago and 20 years later is still like a younger sister to me.    We worry about her and cheer her every success.   Just like I imagine I would if I had a sister.

I have a large collection of social friends as well. Some are co-workers and former co-workers.   Others are family and old neighbors.    Folks who I exchange cards with during the holidays, catching up with them and all that has gone on this past year.   Some we don’t hear from but once a year but we look them up when we get in their neighborhood.

They are part of what makes my life so rich and I am so thankful for their friendship.

Photo Challenge Day 6 – Shiny and Day 7 – Shopping

Apologies to the photo challenge followers.   Day 6 I continued to feel under the weather and although I did not post that day, I did take my challenge photo on day 6.   Today, day 7,  I am starting to feel better and we went out shopping and I was able to sneak in  a photo today using  my phone.

Photo Challenge Day 6 – Shiny

This was taken of a small vintage aluminum tree in a local store where I teach card making. The glitter covered ornaments just caught my eye and I knew that this was my shiny photo.   I played around taking snapshots of to the tree trying to find the right light and depth of field.    This one was the best of the what I came home with.

 

There is something magical in about this tree.

There is something magical in about this tree.

Photo Challenge Day 7  – Shopping

Those who know me, know  I am not one who enjoys shopping.    Today we went to town to do our adopt-a-family shopping.   RangerSir’s office adopts a family and the employees and several of the retirees all shop for this family.   Then the day of the office Christmas party they wrap all the gifts and get it ready for delivery to the contact person.    No matter how I feel about shopping I always find myself getting a little crazy picking out just the right things for the adopted family.   RangerSir and I hit the local store and it was not long until we had a full cart of goodies we had picked out for the family.

I am not going to win any awards for this photo, but I got more joy from this shopping trip that you can possibly imagine.

I am not going to win any awards for this photo, but I got more joy from this shopping trip that you can possibly imagine.

Like thousands of others who shop for others who are not as fortunate,  we dig up our best memories and try to share them with strangers by what we pick to give the family we will never know.    We want to help them create memories of holidays and family.   RangerSir and I by tradition always give pajamas and socks.    I remember having warm double brushed flannel PJ’s at Christmas.   I am not sure if they were a new pair or not but  I want these little kids to have something warm to wear to bed and lounge around in the evening.    My family was a great bunch of game players so we always get the kids each a game that hopefully they can play with their siblings.   Of course I have to add books to the collection, because they can take you places and let you do things you may never get a chance to do otherwise.     This year’s family of kids are being raised by a Grandmother and Great Grandmother.   I can not imagine have four kids under 9, as a grandma to raise, but thousands of grandparents find themselves doing just this.    Keeping warm in Montana is always a challenge.  My boss has a cuddly throw she swears by and I have one that I am sitting under here as I write tonight.    RangerSir and I decided that the grandma’s should have some thing like this as well.   We found one for each of them that we hoped each of them would enjoy as they spent time with their grand kids     Lastly like so many others in the group of employees we added a local grocery card.   The family  can buy what they need most or a special holiday treat. They know best for their family.  I came home feeling better about the day and encouraged that maybe I will make the holidays and the new year special for a family who I will never know.

How many Christmas Cookies do you really need?

Diana's-personal

I spent Saturday and Sunday in my own little world baking to my heart’s content.     After a few years of not allowing myself this time I was unsure if would enjoy it.   Did I stop because my job “took too much of my time” or did I use my job as an excuse to stop an annual ritual I did not enjoy.

I spent Friday night picking one classic recipe from previous years and the rest came from cookbooks and the internet.   If I was going to turn over a new leaf, let’s get out of the box as well.   If I had quit because it was no longer fun, maybe it was making the same cookies year in year out.   I was going to make things that no one had ever seen in a cookie box of mine before.

Saturday came and I plugged holiday movies in the DVD player and set my kitchen up for baking.   I baked cookies and more cookies.   I finished off supplies I had to the point that Saturday night meant a shopping trip for more flour, sugar and eggs.  It had been a great productive day.  I had made my one classic and some new ones.

Sunday morning came and my kitchen was restocked.  My second and final day of baking  was to begin.   My first question of the process began when my husband tasted one of my beautiful new cookies made on Saturday.   I had thought they were nasty yucky, but my husband is like Mikey he will eat anything.   He spit it out.   This was the pivotal moment was I going to let this stop me.   Lucky for my cookie recipients  despite the baking disaster, I was not deterred. Sunday would bring more Christmas movies and many more batches cookies.

Sunday night brought the  reason I do all of this, to give it all away.   I got out my containers, put notes on each as to who they belonged to and how cookies of each variety that meant.   I took each batch and divided them up between my boxes, making sure each box got enough that everyone in each family got a taste.   If there were a few left over I would think what family would really like this cookie.   I had this silly moment of “did I bake enough varieties?”   I am not sure how many Christmas cookies you need, but am sure that  this number is the perfect number for me.  There were Fudgey Bonbons,  PB&J Blondies , Snow Cap Meringues,  White Heavenly Hash, Cherry Macaroons, Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars, Italian Lemon Drop Cookies, Dave’s Christmas Crunch Cookies,  Peppermint Bark and Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal..   Once they were divided up in to containers, I got out my collection of priority mail boxes and made them ready for shipping.   They left our little post office in Montana on Monday destined for family and friends.

I had a great time.   I was also glad it was all done, baked, packaged and shipped.    I had spent two days making gifts of the heart.  I am likely to do it again next year, it seems I had not lost my baking spirit after all.

In case you are wondering he disastrous Pumpkin Orange cookies went to the chickens.   Probably gave them a sugar high, but could not eat them, nor give them.

I Feel Special

My husband and I don’t do Christmas, birthday or anniversary gifts, with each other, family or friends.     Instead we get gifts when we see something that speaks to us and tells us it the perfect item for some one and we want to share with them.   It is a statement that you are special.  My husband just told me I was special when I got my first bike in over 20 years.  I had been thinking about one, and looked at models for many weeks, but last Saturday it was coming to be.

I used to live in the city and ride my road bike daily back and forth to work.  It was one of my fittest periods in my life.   I made that commute  daily, and then carried my bike up three flights of stairs to my brownstone apartment.   Unfortunately I was part of an accident with someone who failed to yield.  That accident changed me, I no longer had the confidence on my bike and definitely had lost the gumption I needed to be out there with rush hour traffic and metro buses.

Over the years I have tried to get back “on that horse” more than once.   Finally I was ready and my husband let me know that he knew it too.   I now have a bike.

Today I rode it twice, taking little jaunts of 3/4 mile.   It shows that I have a long ways to go to getting fit enough to really go out there and do some serious distance.   The coolest part of it all is that this gift makes me feel pretty darn special.

Thoughts Turn to the Holidays

Homemade usually requires a glue gun

With the first snow thoughts turn to the holidays. I pull out my Christmas list and look it over and figure out where I stand.   I try to make as many of my gifts as possible, and that requires I start early.   As the holiday pulls closer, I have to re-evaluate my plans of homemade gifts.  I was pulled outside by the short warm season with the long days that are now a distant memory.   I am realizing the price I must pay.  Sometimes I throw up my hands and head to the local stores, when I realize  the best laid plans have gone awry.  Christmas gifts are not started and there is no hope of getting them done in time for this year’s holiday.   Disappointment.

I have two gifts  I started in the spring and they have got pushed aside by time and nice weather.   Now, November is here and I better get crack’in and work on getting those two gifts tied up.   One I feel pretty good about and the other still has a way to go.   Oh well that is what November and December are for, getting ready for the holidays.