Well, we have been in Rochester for five days now, arriving on the train Monday night. We spent Tuesday getting oriented, ordering groceries, unpacking, etc and taking a test run to the Mayo Clinic. The next three days whirred by, as Rebecca’s Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program (PPRC) at Mayo is super intense and stresses not only lots of work but lots of socializing. They want the kids to get back to all aspects of their life before pain, so virtually every day there is some kind of activity, often planned by the kids. We’ve been bowling and had dinner out (kids and parents separately) and today there is archery. So much more activity–and energy–than Rebecca has seen in months. Not sure what the magic is, but fingers crossed it will keep working.
Now, on to the crafty part of this blog. We are in one of the many extended stay hotels that ring Rochester. Hardly surprising, given the Mayo Clinic’s reputation for cutting edge medical treatments. We have a two bedroom with a little kitchen and I knew from the beginning that we would need to make it our own and quickly if we were going to feel at home. So, how do you convert a sterile (clean, comfortable but no frills, pictures or knick knacks)hotel room into a home away from home? Here are my tips:
1. Remember the advice for business travelers: I’ve seen plenty of articles over the years recommending ways to personalize a hotel room. Bring a few pictures from home, maybe a candle or scented sachet, some small trinket that makes you smile. I tucked into our luggage a couple of pictures we love, three little jade figures from Hong Kong that represent our family, a silly poster that says “Be Nice or Leave” and some cards, including one that said “Keep Calm and Carry On,” one of Rebecca’s favorite expressions. Michael added the Xbox to our carryon luggage!. I also tucked the whole basket of pills we take into the food bag, so that we would be able to keep things organized and tidy (and it is a cheery red!).
2. Consider shipping a few things, too: Since we are here for a month (and living in Minnesota!) we knew we would probably need more than we could reasonably stick in our luggage. And given that we were shipping some sweaters and other bulky items, it only made sense to tuck in a few extra knickknacks, a favorite afghan, a stuffed animal, and our handblender. I added a tiny copper vase Michael and I picked up on vacation one year, some shutterfly photobooks, and Rebecca’s favorite pillow. Oh, and did I mention I shipped jewelry and craft supplies–but of course.
3. Repurpose/recycle: My dad used to make storage bins for virtually everything out of 2 liter soda bottles. I copied that idea here, sort of, cleaning out a small baked beans can, wrapping it with washi tape (from the Target across the street) and using it for a pencil holder.
I also cut down a 12 pack soda box to make two small catch alls. But my big crafty moment, thus far, occurred when I made several paper bag storage bins. I saw this idea recently and it struck me as a good way to use some of the twenty or so Hy-Vee grocery bags we suddenly had in our small hotel room. I made one bin out of a double bag and one out of a single bag.
The double bag is stronger but harder to work with. Anyway, here are the steps. Cut the garbage bag down the four folded sides until you reach the last horizontal fold (about 2/3 of the way down. Carefully fold over the long flaps, securing them on the bottom of the bag. Then, wrap duct tape from one end of the short side of the bag to the other (so that bottom is covered). Finally wrap duct tape around the full bag. Finish the top with washi tape or other brightly colored tape. Very sturdy and good for corralling papers and other small objects.
Yes, yes, you can go to Target and buy containers (and I ended up doing that, too), but I won’t feel guilty about tossing these and they made me feel like I was doing something creative even in the midst of corporate sameness.
4. Visit grocery stores, local markets and resale shops: When we ordered groceries, I included two pots of African violets. They will likely stay alive at least for the whole month, are colorful, and can easily be given away when we leave. Today, we went to a farmer’s market and picked up jam and bread and locally sourced meats ( we are roasting a half turkey to have around for the week). For Mother’s Day, I get to go to a flea market that happens to be taking place tomorrow. I’m almost certain to find something fun and silly to add to our temporary home.
5. When you run to Target for the inevitable things you forgot, look for colorful packaging and other “extras:” A clear shoebox is nice, but one with a turquoise lid adds a pop of color in the bathroom. Three bottles of sparkling cider suddenly become a display in the kitchen. The tissue paper around my African violets will become part of the gift wrap for Rebecca’s birthday presents next week.
6. Don’t forget the essentials: Pack a pair of scissors, tape, and glue at a minimum. I purchased duct tape and washi tape at Target, but probably would have packed them if I had more room. And leave room, of course, for the jewelry supplies or whatever your crafting heart requires. I will report on those craft essentials in a separate post, but suffice it to say I brought more than Michael or Rebecca thought prudent and far less than I wanted to bring.