Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Pocket Face Mask (for Virginia, with love)

I like being helpful.  And in this weird pandemic time, it's hard to be helpful when you are supposed to stay home. So, I'm trying to be helpful by sewing and returning to this good old blog. 

There is a shortage of medical masks, and lots of crafty/sewing types are cranking them out.  I am, too.  And lots of people want to know more about the pattern.

I was using the basic pattern from Deaconess Hospital in Evansville (where I think our godson was born 35+ years ago); it can be found here.  But then my friend, Stephanie Williams, founder of Roxie Rose Kids and The Lemon Seed Boutique in Bedford, Indiana (and Hen and Chicks Barn Market Vendor!), made some improvements to the basic pattern and made a video outlining every step, with some great tips for less waste of fabric and better sewing in general (as in, trim your stray threads as you go, which I always regret not doing!)  Her version has a great inside pocket for inserting some sort of third-layer filtering sheet; she also suggests making ties for the mask from strips of jersey material pulled tight and threaded through the mask (it reminds of of the surgeons on MASH).  However, our local hospital is requesting elastic which fits over the ears and I happened to have a supply of elastic, so that's what I am showing here.

A dear friend - hi, Virginia - is hoping to make 100 masks for the New York hospital where her cousin is a doctor.  I told her I would make some for her, too, and take pictures of the process and send her the steps.  Then I realized that it would probably be easier if I put them all in one spot. (This is how I blog post is born, I suppose.)

(And just as an FYI, I did masks like I do quilt piecing - I cut many pieces at once, and run them through my machine daisy-chain style.  I do about 10 masks at a time; the first step with all 10, then the second step with all ten, etc.  Also, I don't pin if I don't think I need to - you may want to.  And I don't iron much - please iron as much as you like - yours will probably be much neater, like Stephanie's!)

Needs:  Good quality cotton fabric, thread, pins, pipe cleaner, 1/4" elastic, some sort of filter/barrier

First, cut your main fabric into an 8" x 16" rectangle:

 Also cut two strips, 2" by about 6" (this can be the same fabric or a contrast):

On the main piece, press 1/4" down on an 8" side, then another 1/4', making a small hem.  Repeat on opposite 8" side, then sew:

Fold your mask into a sort of pocket, and pin:

On the top edge, sew a channel 4/8" from the top:  (I marked 4/8" on my sewing machine plate with a piece of washi tape - this really helps when sewing many masks at one time):

Using side cuts, cut the pipe cleaner in half:

Then fold it in half:

I used a needle-nosed pliers to bend the end of the pipe cleaner in and gave them a good squeeze, because I noticed - after I had sewed up my first 20 - that the pointy end of the pipe cleaner can stick through the fabric, and who needs that?

Sew 2 1/2" from the end of the channel, perpendicular to your channel seam (again, I have the 2 1/2" marked with washi):

Slide the folded pipe cleaner into the channel until it reaches that seam:

Then smooth out the channel.  Sew 2 1/2" from the other side to secure the pipe cleaner.  This will make a nice tight fit against the wearer's nose:.

Lay the mask back on your work space and start the pleats.  There are 3 pleats, but you don't have to be precise - you can just eyeball the spacing, pinch and pin:

Sew across pleats on both sides of mask:

(I just didn't believe this would work until it worked!)
Trim seam:

It looks so small and tidy,
But look how those pleats allow it to open up!
Now for the 2" strip -  with the front of the mask and the right side of the strip facing, position it so there is about 1" of fabric on both top and bottom; pin and sew:

Fold "ears" of the strip to the inside, and make a small seam to hold them down - 4 times, on all 4 "ears" -  this will prove invaluable when you go to thread the elastic through, I promise:

Finger press a small hem on the outside of the strip:

Fold in and stitch, creating a channel for the elastic.

Repeat for second side.

Cut 1/4" elastic into 7-8" pieces.

Using a safety pin, thread one piece of the elastic through the channel:

Sew the ends of the elastic together (I find this the trickiest part, and use a chop stick to hold and guide the elastic so I don't sew my fingers.  It's happened.)  Go forward and reverse several times to make sure the elastic is secure:

Thread the sewn junction of the elastic into the channel and secure with a small seam to keep it there.

I've seen and heard about people using all sorts of things for the filter inside the pocket - I'm not sure what is best, but I've been cutting out pieces of heavy interfacing and sending it along with the masks - at least it's one more layer between germs and other people:

The filter goes in the pocket, the pocket faces the wearer's mouth and the pipe cleaner channel is the top, along the nose.

I hope this helps those who are helping those who are helping to keep us all healthy.

Peace, love and hugs, from a social distance, of course.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

The End to the Beginning

I wrote my first post on this blog on July 2, 2007.  It started as a knitting blog, progressed to a crafty blog/family blog/look at my cute dog and cats blog/whatever-I'd-like-to-say-at-the-moment blog. 

But I have let it go too long.  I tried resurrecting it a couple of times.  Unsuccessfully. 

So I'm saying good-bye to Old Sweet Songs, and starting a new blog -- Pudding and Pie.  You can find it here


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Taste of the Seasons Recipes

About 4 years ago my dear friend, Blake, asked me to help him with an event for the Brownstown Fund for the Arts, where he was a board member, and because it was Blake, I said, "Sure."  I prepared and demo-ed 3 appetizers and 3 cocktails for about 50 people.  It was fun, and we repeated the fun for three years.  Last year he took a break, but this year, my friends in the Psi Iota Xi Chapter in Brownstown wanted to revive it, both for their chapter anniversary party and as a fund raiser -- and they said they would give the proceeds to the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts where I am a board member.  So I said "sure" once again.
I didn't do a recipe book (both to save a little money and because my computer and printer weren't talking to each other); the event chairwomen Andrea and Jeanna (amazing, fun and hard-working Psi Ote sisters) suggested posting the recipes online, so here they are:

Herb Roasted Nuts
Although I called them "herb" roasted on the menu, I actually made "spice" roasted nuts.  I adapted this recipe from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.  If you are in Savannah, be sure to go to this adorable vintage bakery.   

2 T. butter
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
1 t. cumin
1/8 t. cayenne
4 cups unsalted mixed nuts (any that you like -- I used almonds, cashews and walnuts)
1/4 cup sugar

Melt butter in a large skillet over low heat.  Stir in spices and continue to stir, cooking for about 2 minutes.  Add nuts, and stir for 5-6 minutes.  Sprinkle sugar over all, and cook another 3-4 minutes, or until you can't see the sugar any longer.  Pour nuts onto parchment-covered cookie sheet, and sprinkle with salt.  You can vary this recipe any way you like, with any spices or herbs that you enjoy.  There are lots of great spice mixes that would work perfectly.

French Mule Cocktail
We had this delicious cocktail at a French luncheon last month at Epcot.  This is a fairly close copy, I think.

For each drink:
2 oz. Chambord Liqueur (although I used my homemade blackberry liqueur)
1 oz. vodka
Juice of half a lime
1 can of cold ginger beer or ginger ale

Mix all and pour over ice.  Add a raspberry (or blackberry) and a sprig of mint.

Homemade Fruit Liqueur
Just because

Lightly fill a quart Ball jar with fresh, clean fruit -- berries, peaches, plums, cherries.
Pour vodka over fruit, filling the jar almost to the top, with a little room to stir.
Cap the jar, and place in a cool, dark place for a month to 6 weeks, stirring (or shaking) once a week.
When ready, make a simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water, boiled until clear and cooled completely).  Strain the fruit through a sieve or cheesecloth.  Add simple syrup to the jar, making it as sweet as you like.  I store it in the refrigerator.  This is great with some club soda or 7-Up, and I've been told it's pretty delicious on ice cream, as well!

Pam's Cheese Balls
This recipe is from my dear friend, Pam, who won an appetizer contest with these.  Someone Thursday night suggested they were "praline cheese balls" -- I think she was right.  I thought this recipe was perfect for a Beta Mu event -- those sisters had just made over 1700 of their famous cheese balls the weekend before for their annual fundraiser! 

8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons grated onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried dill

Mix all together and form into small balls (I used a cookie scoop); refrigerate while you make the sauce:

4 Tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix all the above and spoon over cheese balls.  Refrigerate until serving.

Whipped Goat Cheese on Puff Pastry
This was another French Epcot dish. They didn't give us recipes, but again, I think this is close to what we enjoyed there.

4 ounces plain goat cheese
2 Tablespoons whipping cream
2 teaspoons lightly chopped rosemary
Frozen puff pastry

First, defrost puff pastry according to package directions, and cut into small squares (I did mine about 1" x 2"); place on a parchment-lines (or lightly sprayed) cookie sheet and bake according to package directions.  Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, beat the goat cheese and whipping cream together with an electric mixer until smooth; (you might need to add a little more cream to make it pipe-able); mix in rosemary.  Transfer cheese to a piping bag and squeeze onto the puff pastry squares.  Top with a dot of honey.

Christmas Margarita

1 ounce tequila
3 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce orange liqueur
1 ounce club soda

Shake the above ingredients together, pour over ice and serve with a lime wedge and pomegranate seeds (arils).

This recipe is from my favorite magazine, Southern Living, and I think it is just delicious. Click the link above for the recipe.  For Thursday evening, I reduced the jalapenos to just 1, and omitted both the hot sauce and the horseradish. 

This is another great Southern Living Recipe.  We cooked the pork in an electric pressure cooker (InstaPot).  I will confess that the biscuits we served Thursday evening didn't have any BBQ sauce, as I had left it in my refrigerator.

This is the third recipe from SL.  The changes I made to this recipe were: 1) I used a brownie mix; and 2) I omitted the peanut butter from the chocolate mousse.  Just make sure you whip the cream to stiff peaks, and this will set up beautifully.  

Holiday Sangria
This is my recipe, inspired by lots of other winter sangria recipes.  Omit the wine and brandy for a more kid-friendly punch bowl!

1 gallon apple cider
1 cup brandy
Spice ball

Mix cider and brandy in a punch bowl or other large container.  For the spice ball, combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks, a teaspoon of whole cloves and a slice of fresh ginger in a cheesecloth square; tie up into a ball and immerse in the cider for a few hours or overnight.

Before serving, prepare fruit.  Chop or thinly slice an apple and a pear, and slice an orange thin.  If you're serving from a punch bowl, add the fruit to the bowl.  Or, add fruit to the indivual glasses. 


4 cups of orange juice
12 ounces of club soda
1 bottle of dry white wine

I had such a great time at the Taste of the Seasons; I think there are plans to do it again next November!  Thanks to my friends Lori and Jenny for coming over Thursday afternoon to help me get ready, and to Clay, Maggie and my sister, Karen, for helping to prep and serve.  And thanks to the women who attended!  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Checking In - A Little Writing

So it turns out I'm not much good at checking in every week. But this is not a surprise.
 Let's just say all is well here, I am deeply concerned about our country and our world, I've been reading some good stuff, and writing a little.  Not enough, as our writing circle "assignment" was to write every day this week, and I don't really think Facebook posts should count.

In way of checking in, this week I'll share what I wrote for the circle last week after thinking about the "how" of my writing.  I'm thinking this might turn into a poem -- it feels like a poem.  At least it's listy.

My Mode of Writing:  The Pen

I belong to a regular small-town family.  We live in a regular house and have regular but lovely children and grandchildren.  We love birthday parties and Taco Tuesdays.  We usually go to mass on Saturday nights then come home to pizza and morally questionable TV shows.  See? Regular.

But Clay is what they call a "worldwide expert" in his field, and travels the world keeping people happy and doing something important to great big engines that I couldn't begin to explain or understand.  He is gone from home for weeks at a time, usually in remote areas of the world:  the Australian Outback, mountaintops in Indonesia and the literal middle of nowhere Siberia.  We installed a huge map of the world in our living room so we'll always understand just where he is, and our home is decorated with  interesting things from his travels.  Delicate tea sets from Japan and China.  Happy little Buddhas and figures of Ganesha.  A candle holder from Sweden, a Union Jack teacup, a vuvuzela, a boomerang.  Many sets of Russian nesting dolls.  Scarves, kimonos, jewelry, maps, books, teas, jams and chocolates.

Many years ago, I told him I didn't need him to bring me anything -- his return was gift enough, plus I am rotten at dusting all the knickknacks.  So he started to bring me yarn.  "Really useful," he said.  First was Russian yarn, which we found after deciphering the label was made in China.  Lovely Japanese yarn I can buy more cheaply at my favorite shop in Indianapolis.  When he told me the story of how his taxi driver guided him through the sketchy back alleys of Pune, India to buy some yarn from the drive's cousin, I said no more yarn.

But he seemed desperate to bring me something, perhaps in restitution for all the months of our marriage that he's been gone, for the holidays and family gatherings he's missed.  Maybe for the time I had to retrieve our middle child from a party after a 2 AM call from the sheriff.

So now he brings me pens.  Pens labeled with Cyrillic alphabets, pens with crowns on top, pens that switch from red to blue to black to pencil, depending upon how you hold them.  Short little pens that extend to regular length at the flick of your wrist.  Pens with fine, fine tips, because he know those are my favorite.
Those fine tip pens allow me to write fast.  They let my hand and brain keep closer pursuit in the race to get my words only paper.

So I write.  Fast little poems for friend's birthdays, or to commemorate their addiction to Peeps.  My novel that sits stagnant in a notebook as well as in a file on my computer.  Pages and pages of journal entries on my life as a mom, mimi and wife who has struggled to be joyful and at peace in a marriage when she is so often alone, but yet never alone as long as I have a pen.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Checking In

This is Olive's sweater I knit for her last year.  I'm not really sure what happened, but it looks a little like how my life/schedule currently feels.  Looking to remedy both ASAP.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Check In

What I'm Reading:  Still, My Brilliant Friend  and The Brothers Karamazov.  I resorted to downloading the Audible version of MBF in an attempt to get it completed before tomorrow.

What I'm Writing:  Re-wrote memoir notes; may have another memoir in the pipeline.  Another poem.

What I'm Crafting: Orange socks!

I finally joined up with the "Procrastinate No More" Christmas knitting project started by Brenda and Heather on Ravelry.  (They started the project on July 25, I signed up today -- procrastination is the name of my game!)   These socks are for Nate; if he decides to wrestle for the North team instead of the East team this winter, I guess these will be for Clay (who can wear them when the Browns play!), and buy a skein of B&H Blue Blazes.  See that cute little camper stitch marker?  From B&H -- they're so fun.

What I'm Sewing:  Patches onto Jenny's volleyball ref shirts.

What I'm Cooking:  Eggplant Parmesan (just "eh" -- the melty cheese was good) and peach cobbler (yum) were about the extent of my cooking last week.  I did freeze 7 quarts of peaches.

Fun Stuff:  Watching Good Behavior with Clay.  It's splendidly non-edifying.
Lunch at Batar with Deanna -- we talked until the restaurant closed and then talked outside for another 40 minutes, which is the definition of fun in my book.
An auction on Saturday, which I had decided to skip until Jenny called and told me I really needed to go -- she was right.  I promised myself "no linens" and "no dishes", but a violet tea set is too sweet for me to pass up.  Some kitchy stuff, some costume jewelry and a jewelry box, a cow picture (much like the one my grandma had at her house), turquoise-handled silverware, sturdy end and coffee tables, 3 bamboo fishing poles and a vintage kitchen step stool completed the day.  Plus all the stuff we bought for the market (especially an adorable yellow kitchen table and chair set!)  And, I got to talk to Blake a little, which always makes me happy.

Difficult Stuff:  2nd Anniversary of Joannie's death; went to Mass and breakfast with Linda and just cried a little a couple of times.  I miss her every day -- she laughed at my weirdness, gently tried to steer me straight when I got off track, and made hard work great fun.  I've made it clear to Linda that she may not die before me -- she gets me just like Joannie did, and even through she tries to convince me that she's rotten and not to be compared to Joannie's goodness, she's wrong.

And then, Charlottesville.  But I am too sad to write anything else about that this morning.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Checking In

Every Monday, I'm going to blog about what's shaking around here.  Hopefully.

What I'm Reading:  My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (for book group), Lead With Humility:  12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis by Jeffrey A. Krames, Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie (because I want to read what the cool kids are reading) and The Brothers Karamazov by Fydor Dostoevsky, because I think I should.  (I really want to start Britt-Marie, but am making myself wait until at least one of these others is completed!)

What I'm Writing:  A couple of poems.  This blog post.  Memoir notes for a friend.  I'm thinking about the novel.

Only 60 more squares to go!

What I'm Crafting:  A knitted afghan for the Welcome Blanket project, a crocheted shawl for hospice (with really squeaky acrylic yarn -- it's painful.), and hoping to cast on for some Christmas gift socks soon -- my friends, Brenda and Heather, are hosting a "Procrastinate No More Along" on their Ravelry page, and one of these days I'm actually going to join in, as soon as I stop procrastinating.

What I'm Sewing:  Nada.  But I want to be -- I have so many quilt ideas banging around in my head.

What I'm Cooking:  Dishes with beautiful produce.  And blackberry cobblers.

Fun Stuff:  Watching Hidden Figures outside at Jenny and Brian's farm Friday night with a fun group of people, a little alcohol and s'mores.  
Going away supper for Carly as she gets ready to leave for her sophomore year at Belmont.
Birthday supper for sweet friend, Ann, with Tammy and Lori.
Delivering 47 blackberry cobblers to my generous friends; ergo delivering $1000 to the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts from the sale of those cobblers.

Difficult Stuff:  Funeral for Helen, my dear friend, Laverne's mother.  Visited with our friend, Pam, who lost her beloved dad last week.  45 is still the POTUS.

Big Question of the week:  Why do people hate Ed Sheeran?