Today, I want to share the volunteer effort my niece took on. She’s become a homemade mask making machine! I’m so very proud of her. By telling her story, I’m hoping to motivate others who can also chip in by sewing, or donating supplies and funds.

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Many people are helping in ways both large and small. Some, like Mr. Buzz, have donated much-needed blood.

For many of us, doing our part means staying home as much as possible, taking care of each other, and protecting our health so not to become a burden on others.

Because of our age group, that’s mostly what retired hubby and I have been doing for nearly six weeks now.  Since we can no longer volunteer, we support our community by making financial contributions to the food bank, and other efforts to help those most adversely impacted by the pandemic.

Through Debbee’s Buzz, I’m trying to communicate a sense of community, to offer a pleasant distraction, and ways to keep productivity occupied. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to, and how you’re doing.

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Handmade Mask for Heroes

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These is my niece Kathleen, with a completed package of 30 handmade masks for nurses in the Charleston, S.C. area. You might remember her from the Hand Painted, Wedding Champagne Flutes I made as a gift last year.

While still working outside the home, she managed to make several hundred masks over several weeks, .

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All the materials were provided by a local Joann Fabrics, with curbside pickup. See their website to be part of the 100 million handmade mask goal. Others supported her effort by contributing monetary donations for mask making supplies.

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Since elastic was not available, Kathleen used biased tape for most of the handmade masks. As supplies of those also dried up, she switched to using ribbon for ties. Her spouse — who is working remotely from home — is on ironing and packaging duty.

The pattern Kathleen used is designed to be a washable covering to fit over a N95 mask. Since there are short supplies of protective gear for those on the frontlines, the goal is to extend the longevity of a medical grade mask.

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A piece of florist wire is inserted along the top of each handmade mask for a better, tighter fit over the nose. Before knotting the ties, wearers just mold the wire over the bridge of the nose. That helps to seal the handmade mask around the face.

Isn’t that clever?

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Each handmade mask is accompanied with care and use instructions. They are not medical grade.

Good Kind of Contagious

Sistah B, her husband and my elderly mother started a branch operation which took over the entire dining room — and then some! They work in an assembly line, with my brother-in-law cutting the fabric, Sistah pinning and sewing, and mom ironing. Go Team!

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They’ve made about 50 so far, with my sister sometimes working until midnight. My millennial niece dropped off the supplies at their door. She’d return to pick up completed batches of the handmade masks.

Right now, the operation is suspended for lack of materials. Especially since last night a stay at home order went into effect.

My younger son has volunteered to work at either a popup hospital or testing center on weekends in Philadelphia. I’m extremely proud of him, but anxious he’ll have adequate protective gear. So, I’m very appreciative Sistah B sent masks to both my boys.  Thank you!

Make or Buy Your Own

Now that the CDC is recommending we all wear masks when out in public. So you might want to consider making a handmade mask for family and friends.

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If you’d like to make a handmade mask, check online for oodles of different patterns. Or think about purchasing them online from the Etsy marketplace to support small businesses. You might also find someone local.

Above all, please wear some kind of face covering — even if only a scarf or bandana —when you are in public!

Remembering Furry Friends

As I mentioned in, DIY Arts & Craft Project Ideas, I’ve been online learning and practicing acrylic painting.

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I recently finished my first painting of my Sweet Scottie Dog. Although I may go back and add more texturing, I’ve decided to set it aside and start on something new.

How do you think it turned out?

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After losing Fibber at Christmas time, I was doing okay until recently. It’s a painful reminder when I see others walking their dogs. The worst part is not having Fibber to snuggle with during this stressful time.

I also really miss volunteering at Animal Friends, a no kill shelter where I work on the adoption floor.

Although now closed to the general public, they are still caring for dogs, cats and rabbits. That includes several essential programs on a limited basis. Admissions and adoptions continue, but are by appointment.

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If you aren’t in a position to adopt a pet, consider fostering or making a donation to your local shelter.

Puzzling Times

Mr. Buzz and I can’t point to any major accomplishments these past six weeks, but we did finish our second large puzzle.

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This one caused us both to crave chocolate, long after what little candy we had was gone. We settled for making a batch of brownies, lol!

Our favorite was a colorful, 1000-piece puzzle of a coral reef. Both puzzles were purchased at our local Hallmark two days before the governor shut-down non-essential businesses in our county.

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We got a little competitive on what was suppose to be “play” time. Neither was allowed to work on a puzzle without the other. And there was some complaining about staying within one’s own section or “stealing” pieces…

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After the weather improved, we took about five days off from doing puzzles. It was wonderful to see the large Bradford Pear bloom in the backyard. It fills the view out the back windows.

Yearning for Fresh Air & Exercise

Hubby continues to his running routine. On warm, sunny days we take long walks or hikes. Sometimes it’s just around the neighborhood.

Other times, we take a short drive to our large county park. There, we tend to stick to wooded hikes, where we see few people. Although, we were able to view the small herd of buffalo that live in the park. There were several new calves. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone with me to take pictures.

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We’ve also gone several times to do the 1.35 mile loop trail around Gilfillan Farm in the adjoining suburb. Dating back to 1849, the remaining 15 acres of farmland and buildings was donated to the local historical society. Although not much is blooming or greening up yet, it’s a lovely walk.

Both times we’ve been there, I think we only saw six to eight people in total.

Since the rain returned, I pulled out three more puzzles from the basement Ski Lodge Theme Family Game Room.  All look quite difficult. We’re hoping the force is with us as we just started a very dark Star Wars puzzle!

Navigating a New World

Because of their industries and positions, both my sons are working crazy, long hours. And, they are navigating living in urban hot spots — Manhattan and Philadelphia.

Both run outdoors, weather-permitting — away from others as much as possible in crowded urban areas. Although Central Park is only a few blocks away, it now has a virus field hospital. So, my eldest son and his girlfriend are running over bridges and along either the Hudson or East River.

He also has a Peloton bike in his apartment as an option. And, both sons setup mini-gyms with weights and other equipment at home.

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My youngest son lives in an awesome vintage building apartment, but it lacks a balcony. Sometimes you have to get fresh air and stretch your legs.

Grocery Shopping Challenges

Shopping for groceries and necessities is a challenge. And, even though they aren’t riding subways anymore, stores and streets can be crowded with people. Sometimes, it takes visiting two to three stores to get what is needed. And then you’re riding in an elevator with bags of food.

We had our first family Zoom visit last Saturday. Youngest son set it up and was sporting a new beard (I like it!).  My eldest kept putting up funny background pictures behind he and his girlfriend. Later that day, V texted us before and after photos of a meal they were making.

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When I first saw this picture I thought, “this is all they could find at the market?!” But no, the octopus was part of a Vietnamese inspired meal.

Although the finished octopus does look delicious, I don’t know if this is for me. But, V’s made-from-scratch dumplings had my mouth watering.

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I’ve had some misfires using online grocery shopping and delivery. After repeatedly trying to find open slots for either order delivery or curbside pickup from my regular market and Whole Foods, I’ve resorted to Instacart. The monthly subscription fee of $10 for orders over $35 is a good deal — just please be sure to tip generously!

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the service. It’s just hard to get used to each store’s setup and selections. So far, I’ve used Instacart for Aldi, Fresh Market, and another local grocery chain. There’s been just a few minor hiccups.

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I was supposed to get a single onion or small bag of onions. Instead, I got the world’s biggest onion — a two-pounder as big as a cantalope! Have you ever seen such a humongous onion lol?

How are you doing your grocery shopping? Able to find what you need? Tips to share?

Hoping you are all well. Whatever you do, please stay home as much as possible, take care of yourselves, and wear a mask out in public.

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