The person behind the Mask


Wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay home and, now, consider wearing a face mask when outside of your own home.  These are the recommendations from federal and state governments during this current pandemic.

While following this advise, we can loose connection to the people around us.  We all need to reach out to our family members – our older parents who have had their ability to interact with their friends severely limited, our children (even adult children) who are home schooling or working from home, our friends whom we can’t see but can certainly talk with over the phone and internet, and our neighbors.

Everyone has a story.  And, while we are wearing our masks, we should consider their story and do what we can to help where needed. 

With the current recommendation for mask wearing, my son asked if I could make a couple masks for his girlfriend who works part-time at Target.  Her story is that she is a high school senior.  Like so many students, she is now separated from her friends and doing on-line classes.  And, she will be missing out on all the fun activities of her senior year – senior prom, senior project presentations, graduation, grad parties, etc.  On top of that, two weeks ago I implemented a quarantine for our family.  So she has not been able to spend time with my son. She is also working very hard at her part-time job.  To help support her, the least I can do is make some masks. 

Using the pattern described at North-Memorial-Health-homemade-healthcare-masks, I made some masks.  My son wanted plain black.  His girlfriend wanted a red one and a yellow one. 

This pattern has an internal pocket to insert a piece of HEPA filter material to  improve the effective filtration.  I also modified the mask slightly to add a nose wire for improved contouring to the face.  After topstitching around the entire mask, I stitched a channel 1/2″ from the top of the mask.  A pipe cleaner folded in half and inserted it into the channel can be molded to the bridge of the nose.  

Masks made from my fabric stash.

When thinking about making masks, I thought it would be nice to try to make some fun animal faces.  Using my Bernina DesignWorks software, I created a few patterns.

A couple cat faces:


Black cat, Rabbit, Bear and Dog:


I may try some other embroidery ideas soon.

Chocolate almost always makes life better!


Last weekend, my grocery delivery included a container of cocoa by mistake.  Since I already had plenty of cocoa in the cupboard, I decided to use the cocoa in several new recipes rather than just trying to find room for it in with my other baking supplies.  My favorite source for baking recipes is King Arthur Flour.  So, that is where I went for some inspiration.

The first recipe I tried was Cakey Brownies.  While tasty, I decided that I really prefer fudge brownies.  

The second recipe I tried was Almond Flour Brownies.  Being gluten-free, I wanted to see how these tasted.  I have to admit that I could not tell that they were any different from Fudge Brownie recipe that I have used numerous times in the past. 

The third recipe I tried was Chocolate Graham Crackers.  These were amazing!  I will certainly be making these again.  This recipe would be great for making homemade Oreo-type cookies or ice cream sandwiches.  

I also made some homemade Hot Chocolate Mix. While tasting okay, I really do prefer the different flavors of premade mix that I have left over from the holidays.  

Lastly, I made some Chocolate Waffles.  These were especially tasty with homemade strawberry jelly.  

Since I am trying to eat healthy, it’s a good thing I have two boys home to help eat these treats! img_2484

Living in Limbo


If someone had asked me a month ago what I would do if I had an unexpected three weeks off of work, I would have said that I have so many projects to work on and would certainly be able to complete a lot of them in three weeks. 

Well, today marks three weeks off of work.  And, I really don’t feel like I have accomplished much in that time.  I just seem to get distracted very easily.

Yesterday was an exceptionally difficult day.  I had a hard time settling into doing anything. I kept going from room to room trying to find something that would catch my attention and help my mind settle.

Watching the news is really getting depressing and so I kept the television off except during the evening local news broadcast. 

Working on stuff for my office has been using up most of my time the past couple of days so I tried to take a break from looking up ideas on-line. But, then my mind would come back to office things and I would not be able to focus on doing crafts or even cleaning.

I couldn’t settle in to working on my current quilting project or a glass project. I would go into my sewing room, but then get distracted.  I would go into my glass studio, but not having any interest in starting a project.  

Talking with my husband, he commented “If this is what retirement is like, I want nothing to do with it.”  Well, I really don’t think how life is at this time is how retirement will be.  We are currently living in limbo, not going anywhere.  

The first verse and chorus of Lauren Daigle’s song “This Girl” really resonates with how I feel.

I’ve been a winding road, oh, I know You know
Sometimes a stranger in my home
Keep going back and forth through the open door
I’m still learning to be still

This girl ain’t going anywhere
This girl ain’t going anywhere-ere-ere
I can promise You this, now I know for sure
This girl ain’t going anywhere

Hopefully today will be a better day!

Invention and Creativity


After having spent several days on call while my dental practice is shut down, I came to realize that our current call system was not ideal for a long-term office closure.

  • The parent leaves a message that is then forwarded to the doctor.
  • The doctor calls the parent back.
  • If a photo is necessary, you need to wait for the parent to text it, or maybe even hang up and call back after the photo is sent.
  • If a prescription is needed, there is another wait while the parent locates the phone number for the pharmacy that they prefer.

All of this is very inefficient and time consuming, especially when there are numerous calls coming in.

In an attempt to make our on call protocol better, I spent time over the past couple days using a service called FormStack to create an electronic form that parents can link to from our practice website. The form collects all pertinent information and sends it directly to the doctor on call.

Our new triage form allows the parents to:

  • enter the patient information
  • enter the parent contact information
  • upload some photos of their dental concern, and
  • designate their preferred pharmacy  and phone number

With this form, we now have most, if not all, of the information  prior to returning the parents call.  Because the information is saved as a PDF, we can import the images into the patient chart to easily document the emergency.

I learned a lot while doing this project.  I learned how to use FormStack.  I learned how to send a PDF and photos as a text to the different phone services that our doctors use.  Verizon, AT&T, Google Fi and Sprint all have different  ways to send information as a text.  And, the way to do this varies depending upon what is being sent.

To help explain how the system works, I even created a short video. In making this video, I learned how to import music into MS Powerpoint, how to setup custom timing of the transitions between images, and how to make a video out of a Powerpoint presentation.

Necessity and Creativity certainly put to work.

If you go to our office website to check it out, please DO NOT submit anything – the other doctors on call will not be happy!!



Yesterday was a dreary, rainy day which prevented my morning walk. 

Today, however, is a much nicer day. 

Having just returned, I can say that the fresh air during my morning walk was great.  The birds were singing, the spring bulbs are starting to pop in my yard and the rest of the day looks to be very nice. 

In fact, this afternoon it is supposed to be about 57 degrees outside.  So, after my office video conference, I am planning to spend a couple hours outside cleaning up some of my planting beds to start getting them ready for spring.


Lemonade and Brownies


InstaCart is a really nice service when you are self-quarantined at home.  Yesterday I had some groceries delivered. 

One of the items I had ordered was powdered buttermilk, which I use in many of my baking recipes.  While I know how to make replacement for buttermilk, the powdered stuff is really handy.  When the order arrived today, I received powdered baking cocoa instead!

Well, remembering the old adage about lemons and lemonade, I decided to make the most of the situation.  So, I made brownies for my boys.   

Maybe tomorrow, I will also make some lemonade