Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to a new category here on Women Managing Stress: “Around the House.” Though most of our posts will center on how to bring happiness to your life by reducing stress and anxiety, and by building better connections to those you love, there’s no doubt that things around your house can definitely add to your stress level (do you have any idea how many couples get into “discussions” in my office on the proper way to fold towels?).
And since I love doing things around the house (yes, it’s actually one of the things that makes me calm), I thought I’d add some fun to the blog and share some things around the house that can help lower your stress.
And I’m kicking that off with today’s post on ironing!
I have to admit- “iron” was a four-letter word to me for many years.
My junior year of college, I had moved across the country to have an educational adventure. I needed a job, and it just so happened that my aunt needed some help around the house. It was perfect!
I got there for my first day of duty, eager to work. My first task: iron my uncle’s button up shirts. I quickly set up the ironing board, asked for some spray starch, and went to work. I had done laundry when I worked at the vet’s office, and I’d been doing my own laundry for some time now. Even though I did avoid ironing as much as possible, I was pretty confident about getting his shirts ironed.
I plugged along, making sure that I didn’t somehow miss those pesky little places under the sleeves. I carefully worked on the collars, and then I did my favorite part: the front where the buttons line up! Oh, it was like driving matchbox cars through a track, except there were no cars. And if I wasn’t careful, I could burn myself with the iron.
Imagine my surprise a couple of days later, when it came to my attention that I was horrible at ironing. I was ashamed.
And then, I really avoided ironing from that time forward.
Even when I was sewing.
“Press seams open, then proceed…” I just skipped over that part.
No ironing for this girl. Oops, I mean press. When you sew, you don’t iron, that can stretch the fabric. You press. (My home ec friends will be happy that I explained the difference.)
Fast forward until this May, when genius here decided to join the Farm Girl Vintage sew along, where I would be joining thousands of women from around the world to make some of the cutest squares ever known to woman-kind. I wanted my attempt at this totally cute quilt to be just perfect, so I read the entire pattern book, carefully selected my fabrics, and then…dum dum dum…I set up my ironing board.
Yes, in order for this quilt to turn out just so, I would have to press my seams. (Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to avoid that pun, “just sew?” My inner cornball is shocked I let that one go so easily.)
Thank heavens for YouTube and lots and lots of quilting videos. I saw what I needed to do, and soon found that pressing my seams was not only easy, but it lead to my work turning out the way it should.
Now, even though you, too, may run for the hills at any mention of ironing, and though you may take great strides to make sure that you buy clothing that doesn’t need ironing, the reality is, at some point, you will need to drag out that little device that makes you feel like you are clueless at running something hot over something cold and wrinkly.
So today, in this segment of Around the House, I’m going to show you how to make your own spray starch. This will make it so easy for whatever you’re ironing to come out pressed and perfect. And, get this, I’m going to show you what you can add to the mixture to ensure that you lower your stress while you work.
How cool is that?
What You Need to Relax While Ironing
You only need a few things for this magical remedy:
- A spray bottle (you can recycle another bottle, but make sure that you can adjust it so that it sprays all over)
- A measuring cup (it makes it so much easier to pour into the bottle)
- Cornstarch (1 tablespoon for each cup of water to make a regular starch. For medium starch needs, use 2 tablespoons for each cup of water and for heavy starching needs use 2 tablespoons for each cup.)
- Lavender, either in a dried form from your garden or spice cabinet or as an essential oil (about 1 tablespoon dried and crushed into the water mixture or 3 tablespoons fresh; approximately 10-12 drops of essential oil)
Now, you may be wondering, “Why lavender?” Good question. Lavender is known for it’s calming effect. If you’ve ever purchased that little purple bottle of baby lotion, there’s lavender in there to help soothe fussy babies and get them ready for sleep.
Lavender can also help with soothing anxiety and helping you fall asleep, too. It’s great stuff! If you don’t have any lavender around, use what you have to make this first batch. You can always use whatever herbs or essential oils you have on hand.
But I like lavender because I focus on stress and anxiety. 🙂
Let’s Make It!
- Decide how many cups you want to make first. It’s recommended that you only make 1-2 cups at a time, since you’ll want to change this out about once a month to keep things from going “funky” inside the bottle.
- Then, decide how heavy you want your starch. If you’re ironing a regular cotton shirt, then a regular mixture of 1 tablespoon per cup of water will work nicely. But the heavier the fabric, the heavier you want your starch to be. So double or triple the amount of starch you use to make medium or heavy duty starch.
- Go on and add the right amount of starch to the bottom of the mixing cup before you add the water. This will help you to mix it better and to avoid as many lumps as possible. (Hint: this same trick will work great at Thanksgiving when you’re trying to make gravy, too.)
- Add 1/2 cup of cold water to the measuring cup. Using a fork, stir the mixture to form a think paste. Then add the rest of the water and stir.
- Pour the cornstarch mixture into the spray bottle.
- Add the lavender. If you are using fresh lavender from the garden, you may want to run a knife through it on the cutting board first to help it to release the scent.
- Shake the bottle (another great way to release your stress- just shake, shake, shake), and spray!
- To really make this extra relaxing, put on your favorite movie or TV show in the background while you iron, or play your favorite podcast.
- Spray this on your pillowcases and toss them in the dryer or run a warm iron over them right before bed to help you relax and drift asleep easier.
So whip up a batch and let me know what you think! If you find any other fun scents or uses for this, please let me know in the comments below.