Monthly Archives: April 2020

How to sew a mask

How to sew a mask

I know this is a popular topic right now, and I’ve seen tutorials for crocheted face masks, knitted ones, sewn ones, as well as with fabric bandanas, and elastics. After reading quite a few, I put together the bits and pieces, and figured out a way to piece them together that made sense to me

So let me start by saying that these are not hospital grade masks. They do help protect the wearer from spreading a virus, as well as offer some protection from breathing in particles. So, these are not for medical professionals, but the way I look at it is regular people like myself can use them so I don’t have to take a mask away from someone who really needs it.

I am also giving instructions to make these with an open top so a N95 filter can be inserted into the top. So that they can provide more protection to the wearer. The below is an Amazon listing for the N95 filters, just so you can see.

I started by picking some plain cotton fabric. I washed, dried and ironed it before starting.

I used a cardboard template to cut out two pieces for each mask. One out of plain white cotton, and one out of the patterned cotton. Both pieces measured 23x17cm.

Then I used my serger to serge around all of the edges. This step isn’t necessary, but I figured it would help them last longer, but if you don’t have a serger, just skip this step.

If you put a piece of wire or pipe cleaner at the top, it can be squeezed at the bridge of your nose to hold the mask in place, and limit the amount of air and particles that get in the top. So I found some nice, long twist ties that I thought would work perfect. I ended up using two twist ties in each mask.

I turned down the top hem of the patterned fabric and sewed the twist tie in

And I sewed down the top hem of the plain white fabric, about the same amount.

Then, I put the two layers of fabric, right sides together, lining up the finished edges on both pieces. I also pinned the elastic on both sides of the narrow ends, about a centimetre in looping from the top and bottom (See picture below) I pinned in between the two fabrics so when you turn it right side out, the elastic is already in place.

The two pins below are holding the elastic in place.

Then, I sewed around the sides, and bottom, leaving the top open. I clipped a bit of the excess fabric off the corners. Then I turned it right side out and gave it a quick iron.

I pinned a couple tucks in both sides, and tried to make both sides even. The reason you do these tucks is so when you put the mask on your face, it conforms to the curves of your face .

After I finished making sure the tucks were even and pinned, I top stitched around the sides and bottom to keep the tucks in place and I gave the mask another final iron.

That’s it, I purposely left the top open,so you can tuck in a filter and the fabric expands to cover your face. The twist tie inside lets you squeeze the mask tight around your nose.

I did do a bit of a production run! It’s much easier, and faster to make 10 at once, than make 10, one at a time. I also made little tags to go with the masks. Here are the results of my first production, most of which are already spoken for.

Here is a copy of the information I put with each mask. I basically gave instructions to wash first, the comparison to a N95 mask, and how to wear the mask.

I almost forgot, I did try out making a few smaller masks, hoping to make some that would fit kids, but I honestly have no idea how to size them, so I just trimmed off a couple centimetres off of each edge of the fabric.

Home made Ricotta!

Home made Ricotta!

I cleaned out both of our freezers and emptied our fridge last week, and I have been pulling stuff out to try out recipes and eat food that had been forgotten. Frequently, we would make grocery store trips several times per week to pick up things, and now, we’ve had to change that! Our fridge has never been so empty!

So, in our fridge, I had saved the leftover creamers and milk from Tim Hortons for the next time at work we had a special treat day, or maybe for a family get together… but it doesn’t look like either of those is going to happen anytime soon, so what do I do with about 50 creamers when no one in our family likes or uses cream? Make ricotta of course!

I started by opening and dumping them all into a saucepan. I used both the milk and cream.

I ended up with just under three cups of cream. Then, I put the cream onto boil at a medium heat. I made sure I stirred frequently until it was almost a rolling boil.

Then, i took it off the heat and I added about two to three tablespoons of lemon juice. Since I haven’t had any fresh lemons in a while 😦 I used the squeeze bottle kind.

I let it sit for about 2 minutes, and it looked like it was starting to curdle.

So, I pored it into some cloth and a strainer and let it drain for a few minutes.

As you can see in the second photo, it started to thicken as it drained. I tightened it into a bag and squeezed as much of the water out as I could.

And opened it back up, and it was actually pretty thick, had a ricotta type texture, and tastes pretty good too!! I think actually next time I would make it with regular milk, or maybe half cream and half milk, because it is very rich made with all cream. We will probably use this on top of pasta, it only made probably 2/3 of a cup. But, I would love trying to make a cheese cake out of home made ricotta!

Now, the question is, what am I going to make with the 50+ empty creamer containers I washed and now have?? Any ideas??

Home Schooling Thoughts

Home Schooling Thoughts

Hi everyone, 

   I thought I would use this platform to spread some of my thoughts surrounding homeschooling. It’s a hot topic that parents are having to deal with, and there is a whole spectrum of thoughts and emotions surrounding school at home. I have been reading facebook posts, social media comments, and looking at photos of how people are coping and dealing with this new reality, and it’s complicated, so complicated.

   First, I want to share that I am both a teacher and a parent of two teenagers. But, on both fronts, my perspective is the same. Before anything, the mental health of you and your family is what is most important! 

   First thing is first – you and your kids are going to have different comfort zones than someone else’s kids. You have to do what works for you. There are families that are faithfully following a colour coded homeschooling schedule, and work through their day by following that schedule. If that works for you, great, go for it! But for the families that don’t strive on structure, that’s ok too. If you have 5 hours of conference calls in a day and three kids, following an hourly schedule is going to be tough. So, once again, you need to do what is going to get you and your kids through the day. The worst thing you can do is start beating yourself up because you are seeing all of these fantastic things other people are doing to homeschool, and feel crappy because right now, your main goal for the day is to keep the kids from banging on the door while you make it through the conference call. If that’s what your goal is for the day, let’s start there. 

   I’m not going to lie, teachers are not feeling great right now. There are A LOT of unknowns, so please be easy on us too. We didn’t take a course in teacher’s college about teaching during a worldwide pandemic. This is new and scary for us too. This is scary for everyone. Things are changing for teachers on a daily basis, we are sifting through numerous board emails, virtual staff meetings and trying to wade our way through the enormous amount of information and resources that are being thrown our way right now. So, more structured work, linked to curriculum expectations is coming, we are working on it parents, I promise. Your child’s teacher should have reached out to you by now, and they are working hard to put together a learning program for your child. So please be patient, we are trying. In the meantime, let’s put together our resources together, communicate and get this done. Let’s figure out how to teach our kids so that somehow at the end of this, they learn something.  

   So, how do you teach at home? Great question! Let me start by saying I don’t know. Seriously. I’ve been a teacher for over 20 years, and once again, this is a new thing, we have never done this before. I can’t answer that question, but what I would like to do is share some activities you can do with your family that go beyond worksheets. There is so much learning that can happen through games, oral discussions, and hands on activities. I truly believe that if you spend time with your kids, talk to them, ask them to make observations, ask questions, play games, get them to help cook, etc. That is just what they need! You can integrate math and language into most daily tasks, and activities.

   So… the activities I will be sharing will not be worksheets, or assignments, but games, and challenges that I have made for my students and families at my school. That being said, if your family is enjoying the structure of pencil and paper tasks, and printing worksheets is working for you, go for it, you are doing great! If you want to have your child write a journal each day about the challenges, or write a procedure for everything they built, fantastic. But, if not, that’s ok too.

   For every task or challenge, I have tried to include family notes. These notes include ways you can adjust the activity for older or younger kids, and the purpose of the activity. What skill, concept, or expectation is the challenge addressing. 

   Please feel free to ask questions, share with others, and take photos or share what activities worked well for you. I will be trying to share ideas weekly. Hope you enjoy. Don’t forget that we are all doing our best, we are all struggling, and we all need to be easy on ourselves. You are doing a great job, keep telling yourself that. 

Here are the activities and challenges I put together for this week.

Monday – Race to 1000 game

Race to 1000 Math Game

Tuesday – Indoor Scavenger Hunts

Wednesday – Lego Challenges

Thursday – Math target Games

Friday – Brain Training 

Construction Paper Stones


Every once in a while, I’m going to post one of my more popular posts… this one is always in my top ten most viewed! It is how to make cool looking stones out of scraps of construction paper and white glue.

I first made these years and years ago, when John and I taught at a summer camp together. The process is very simple, dig up some scraps of construction paper…


Cut a whole pile the same size. The more accurate you are in your cutting, the less sanding you have to do. I had the kids cut out a temple and trace their shape before could do round or square, or any shape, but I would keep them on the smaller side, like less than 1 1/2 or 2 inches for sure.


It works well if you pour the white glue into little disposable cups and glue the construction paper shapes together by dipping our finger in the glue and rubbing it on the paper. Don’t skimp on the glue, in this case, it’s better to use too much.


Repeat this about 30 times until the paper is layered to the thickness you want. I like the look of when you alternate colours and use a gradual change like from red to orange, to yellow. But, you can also use two or three layers of the same colour or alternate two colours for different looks.


Here are the ones Dylan Sam and I made…they took about an hour to glue together…and we let them dry for about 4 days…


Then for the part that the kids were looking forward to… The sanding… We started with 150 grit, then 220 as we got closer to finishing. The technique that I found works the best is to sand all of the edges first…


Then, start sanding on an angle, so you can see all of the layers. I tried to show you the angle by sanding only two sides for this picture…


Keep sanding until the shapes look like you want them to. Notice that we did this outside, it does create a bit of dust, so we worked on the grass.


Here are the ones we finished sanding today…


Pretty neat eh? The final step was to add a varnish or sealer, and for that step, clear nail polish works wonderfully. Be sure to seal the sides and back too. You can see how it brings out the colours in the photos.


And here they are finished…