Repurpose your hoodie

Add a device pocket to your hoodie

I discovered another old cross-stitch project that I’d finished and tossed into a storage bin years ago, so I thought I’d put it to good use.

I turned it into a device pocket for my favourite hoodie, so now I can carry my Kobo eReader around in it… if I can ever go out again in the near future 🙂

Carrying around an eReader with a good book on it can be a blessing when you’re stuck in a lineup or sitting in a waiting room… which I hope to be doing again someday…

Well, I’ll be prepared just in case, anyway.

Bored shitless? Here’s a short story for the current times…

Better Get Betty Some Butter

Betty ran a hand through her silver-white hair as she stared down at the baggie on her counter. That baggie contained a thing most precious to Betty—a single slice of Wonder bread. There was a time when her freezer had been jam-packed with loaves of that good old, plain white bread and pound after pound of Gay Lea butter. But that was before the virus had turned the country into a wasteland of food stores with no food—just aisle after aisle of dust-laden shelves scattered with battered tins bearing no labels and perhaps some packs of cat treats.

Betty glanced between her toaster and the appetizing slice of bread nestled in ziplocked safety. Closing her eyes, she swooned at visions of golden brown toast dripping with real butter. Her last bit of butter had run out long before the loaves of bread, and she’d been forced to switch to the government-issued margarine, which was comparable to eating toast buttered with candle wax. Now, she was down to her last precious slice of Wonder.

Last week, she’d ventured outside and onto the doorsteps of some of her neighbours, yelling through their locked doors in an appeal for a spot of butter that they might like to trade for perhaps a tin of sardines? All she’d heard in response were a few muffled “fuck offs.” She’d never much liked any of the assholes anyway.

Betty was tired through to the marrow of her bones. The world had changed in the most terrible of ways and, after well over a year of social distancing with thousands of deaths reported every day in the news, she didn’t have much hope that she would live to see the world change back to how it once was.

Every Monday, government officials in hazmat gear performed a door-to-door delivery of a few essential dry goods, left in a sterile box on the front doorstep of each house. Stale bread. Pats of margarine. Well screw this, Betty thought to herself, I want a goddam piece of toast with butter.

Betty wrapped a bright fuscia scarf around her neck, then shuffled to her front closet and yanked out her sunny yellow spring trench coat. She shrugged into it, hung her purse on her arm, then out the door she went into the quiet of the new badlands.

The supermarket was only two blocks away. Residents were not permitted to go there unless they needed emergency essentials, which was why she was going. She needed butter.

Betty kept her head down as she marched along the sidewalk. She was in no mood to make eye contact with any of the jerkoffs peeping out their windows at her. Her arthritis had done a number on her hands—she couldn’t even give a proper middle finger any more.

The fresh air had Betty feeling slightly more chipper by the time she began to cross the empty supermarket parking lot. There were two cars parked up near the front door. She remembered the days when she would curse the fact that finding a parking spot was like panning for gold in the Don River. How she longed for those days again.

Betty entered the store. Most shelving had been dismantled, and only about a quarter of the store was now being utilized. It was really more a bodego than a grocery store. The proprietor stood behind the only cash register, glaring at her over his face shield.

“Lady, you should be wearing a mask,” he barked.

“Mask, shmask,” Betty snapped, “I’m 88 years old and more than ready to leave this hell-hole of a planet anyway. But I do need to purchase something first.”

The man shook his head and went back to wiping down the counter.

Betty made her way down the one aisle and around the corner to the dairy cooler, where a small, stooped figure draped in a long rain poncho and what appeared to be a beekeeper’s headgear stood peering through the glass doors. As she approached, the figure started, and turned toward her.

“Why aren’t you wearing a mask?” It was the gruff voice of an elderly man, whose features she could barely see through the thick black mesh covering his face.

“Why are you dressed like an apiarist? I don’t see any bees around here,” Betty replied, tightening her hands on her purse handle in case she needed to swing it at him.

A guffaw burst from behind the mesh hood. “How the hell do you know what an apiarist is—which is what I once was, actually.”

“Because I’m smart,” Betty said. “That’s how I know.”

“More like a smart ass,” he snarled.

Betty glanced at the cooler and gasped. “Butter! There’s a pound of butter in there!”

“Yep. And it’s mine,” the man said. “I was here first.”

Betty scowled. “Oh yeah? Beat it, buster.” She yanked the cooler door open and reached for the foil-wrapped treasure.

The man’s gloved hand swatted Betty’s hand aside, and as he grasped the butter, Betty coughed repeatedly on him. The man shrieked, dropping the butter on the floor as he hurtled his body away from her.

“Thanks! Don’t mind if I do!” Betty said, snatching up the butter and digging a five-dollar bill from her purse as she hurried toward the cash register. “Here,” she said, tossing the bill at the proprietor. “Keep the change.”

That evening, Betty savoured a large bowl of her favourite split pea soup…

along with a perfectly toasted, golden-brown slice of Wonder bread slathered in real butter.

Got a couple of overripe bananas taking up space on your counter?

Don’t toss them—treat yourself to the most heavenly Banana Fritters!

Super-easy to make, they’re mini “pancakes” that you can chow down on for breakfast with some bacon and a touch of maple syrup. Or indulge as a dessert by serving them warm with a healthy scoop of French vanilla ice cream.
It’s so easy…

Mash two ripe bananas, mix in one egg, ¼ teaspoon of vanilla, a dash of cinnamon, one teaspoon of brown sugar, ¼ cup of flour, and ¼ teaspoon of baking powder.

Once it’s all blended, drop big spoonfuls into a fry pan greased with a bit of vegetable oil. Use a bit higher than medium heat to brown on both sides, then set on paper towels to eliminate some of the oil.

Optional: I added a handful of raisins to the batter for extra yumminess.

Not optional: Looks like I’ll be adding an extra mile to my walk tonight!!!

 

What to do with a pair of socks (besides wear them)…

Look what I made with a pair of old (clean) socks yesterday…
Meet Mimi the sock monkey!

This is my first try at making a sock monkey and it was pretty easy. There are lots of good tutorials online, but you don’t even need a pattern if you just look at the shape of the sock and picture where the face and body would be. The heel is where the mouth is, so use one sock as the face/head/upper body, and use the other sock for the bottom half (bottom part cut halfway so you can sew each side to form the legs); then use leftover pieces to make the arms and ears. Sew it all together, stuffing as you go along. I made the eyes out of tiny pieces of black and white felt, stitched a mouth on the heel part in grey floss, and tied a bow at the top of her head in pink yarn. Very easy and a good way to recycle socks that are still in good condition.

I sure hope this pandemic is over soon, or I’ll have no clothes left, and lots of stuffed animals 🙂

A change of perspective might help. Try seeing this as an Isolation Vacation

With all social activities shut down, most people working from home, and everyone holed up in their homes 24/7, the words “I’M BORED” are becoming the most-repeated words in the English language (second only to “pandemic”).

BORED is just another word for OPPORTUNITY.

As an introverted type who is quick to choose seclusion over socializing (unless my spouse drags me forcibly out of the house), I have some suggestions to help you bust through your boredom. Even if one of these isn’t typically your thing, give it a try. You might discover a new interest that you would never have believed you’d enjoy so much!

Give your inner child a chance to come out and play.

When you were a kid and there was nobody around to play with, what did you do? Draw pictures? Make paper airplanes? Work on a jigsaw puzzle? Bake cookies? Write a poem?

I remember sitting in my room as a kid with a department store catalogue (remember Eaton’s?) and a pair of scissors, cutting out the pictures of models and turning them into paper dolls with different outfits, also cut out of the catalogue. Nowadays, I’ve seen some awesome projects online where people have used pieces cut from magazine pages to make art collages—there are so many inspirational ideas out there, even if you don’t consider yourself to be creative, some of these ideas may pique your curiosity. We all have some form of creativity buried deep inside, ready to be released with just a bit of encouragement. When you were a child, you did this without even thinking about it. Go online and check out what other people are doing. The ideas there are endless. Try to see self-isolation as an opportunity to meet up with your long-lost inner child and allow yourself to have fun playing again.

It’s never too late to learn something new.

Is there something new you’ve wanted to learn, but never had the time? Well, now’s the time! Thanks to YouTube, there are endless instructional videos online covering just about any topic. Think of a new skill you might like to learn, and look for an online video tutorial. Try learning a new language, a new recipe, tackling a small home repair yourself… the options are infinite.

Get a jump on your spring cleaning.

It’s definitely an ideal time to clean out and organize your closets and cupboards. Or tackle some early window cleaning. Or dismantle and wipe down your light fixtures. My window blinds throughout the entire house had about an inch of dust on them, so I took an afternoon to clean every one, as well as all my light fixtures. I need to wear sunglasses inside my house now! Put your confinement to good use, and by the time this pandemic is over, your house will put Martha Stewart’s to shame.

Here is—hands-down—the BEST way to relax…

Indulge in the extreme pleasure of curling up on the couch with a cup of tea or coffee and a really, really good book. There is no better way to unwind. The public libraries may be closed, but their online resources are not! If you have a library card, go online and check out your public library’s database of ebooks and audio books. You’ll be absolutely amazed by their selection of everything from fiction to memoirs to DIY manuals and so much more. There are no late fees like there are with hard copy books, and best of all, EVERYTHING THERE IS FREE! If you don’t like the book you borrowed, just click on return and borrow another one. As long as you have an electronic device (laptop, tablet, phone), all you have to do is download the borrowing app (you’ll find easy instructions on your library’s website) and start borrowing.

Your public library doesn’t just lend books—you can also borrow online magazines as well as music and videos! They even offer an incredible selection of learning resources and correspondence classes on just about every topic—all electronically. Again—everything is FREE. I’ve always said that most people don’t realize the great value they have at their fingertips in our public libraries; well now is a good time to make that discovery.

I’ve recently developed an addiction to audio books that I listen to while going for long walks outdoors. It’s like being a kid again and having somebody read stories to you—it’s honestly the most zen way to spend a chunk of time.

Get back to nature.

And speaking of being outdoors—you won’t get COVID19 by getting outside. Go for strolls around the neighbourhood (keeping social distancing in mind as you pass by other walkers) and clear your head with some fresh air (one good thing about this pandemic is that it has had a positive effect on the environment, since most cars are now confined to their driveways instead of clogging the roads and the air we breathe). Slip on some boots and go on a trail hike in a regional forest. There’s nothing better for the soul than getting out into the great wide open; it’s the most natural pick-me-up you can treat yourself to.

You can still enjoy lots of social time with friends.

Are you going crazy without face-to-face social interaction? That’s the beauty of Skype and FaceTime. A few times a week, I get a cup of tea and sit down in front of my computer for a FaceTime session with my girlfriends. It honestly feels no different than if we were sitting in the same room together. Sometimes we hang out on-screen for a couple of hours at a time. It’s so much fun… and I don’t have to clean the house before they come over 🙂

P.S.: The phone isn’t just for texting—you can also call people and actually talk to them!

Music is medicine for the soul and body.

To me, music is the ultimate mood lifter. When you’re feeling antsy, put on some of your favourite tunes and dance! Not only will your spirits lift, you’ll get in a great workout too. A friend of mine dug out her old skipping rope and plans to skip every day to burn off some of her restlessness. I have a bunch of old workout DVDs collecting dust in a cupboard. I may just dig them out and try different types of workouts for a change. Getting yourself into the habit of some form of daily exercise is guaranteed to give you more energy, improve your mood and boost your immune system. You will also sleep better than you’ve slept in years.

There are still many reasons to count your blessings.

No matter how bad things get, there will always be something to be thankful for. In the face of all of this doom and gloom, I challenge you to write down at least one thing that you’re grateful for every single day. There will always be something. You are alive and in good health? Be grateful for that. There are still sunsets to watch, and flowers that will bloom, and birds singing their songs, and people who love us, and there’s always hope if you keep the faith. I wish I could remember who wrote this impactful saying—I’ll leave you with it now: “The best often comes after the worst happens. You can either move on, or you can dwell on the things you can’t change. Either way, life will go on.”

F.Y.I.: I highly recommend the books below. They are among some of my favourites:
An Embarrassment of Mangoes – Claire Bidwell Smith

Around The World in 60 Seconds – Nas Yassin
The Light Between Us – Laura Lynne Jackson
Behind The Beautiful Forevers – Katharine Boo
Falling in Honey – Jennifer Barclay
From Broken Glass – Steve Ross
The Gratitude Diaries – Janice Kaplan
After This – Claire Bidwell Smith
I Heart My Little A-Holes – Karen Alpert
Humans: A Brief History of How We F—-d It All Up – Tom Phillips
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Messages – Bonnie McEneaney
Our Kind of Cruelty – Araminta Hall
Pandemic – Sonia Shah
The Accidental Veterinarian – Philipp Schott
The Afterlife of Billy Fingers – Annie Kagan
The Cow in the Parking Lot – Susan Edmiston
The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
The Joy Plan – Kaia Roman
The Killer Across the Table – John Douglas
The Noticer – Andy Andrews
The Pull of the Moon – Elizabeth Berg (ALL of Elizabeth Berg’s books are AWESOME)
The Rabbit Effect – Kelli Harding
The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
The Sex Lives of Cannibals – J. Maarten Troost
Getting Stoned With Savages – J. Maarten Troost
Messages From the Masters – Brian Weiss
Many Lives, Many Masters – Brian Weiss
Lessons from the Light – Kenneth Ring
An Invisible Thread – Laura Schroff
Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt
The Geography of Bliss – Eric Weiner
The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch
Night – Elie Wiesel
Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking – Susan Cain
Sht My Dad Says – Justin Halpern
The Soul of an Octopus – Sy Montgomery
Until I Say Goodbye – Susan Spencer-Wendel

And there are so many more. I would need thousands of pages to list them all.

 

A Spoiled Cat Lives here!

I was picking through a bin of my unfinished craft projects the other day and discovered an old cross-stitch picture that I’d done years ago, of Sylvester the cartoon cat holding a frame with the caption “Spoiled cat lives here.”

Of course, with it being a perfect representation of my spoiled fur baby, Otis, I was compelled to frame it for display in my front porch.

I picked up an unpainted wood frame at the buck store and used acrylic paint in three of the colours picked up from the cross-stitch to decorate it. Then I painted some wood letters that spelled out “Otis,” and glued them to the bottom of the frame. Once I stretched the cross-stitch fabric over cardboard and set it in the frame, I had a perfect “warning” for any visitors daring to enter my home. 🙂

Of course, the only way I could paint the frame in peace without Otis trying to dip his paw into the paintbrush water dish was to give him a paintbrush of his own that he could roll around with on the floor. Did I mention that he’s spoiled rotten?

Pandemics exist thanks to financial greed, corrupt governments and inept leadership. Here’s the proof…

The book, Pandemic: Tracking Contagions from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond by Sonia Shah, is essential reading for every person on this planet.

It’s one of the most important books for the 21st century and beyond. The prizewinning science journalist, author Sonia Shah, provides a compendium of brilliantly researched information that leads you on a journey through a history of world pandemics (unfortunately, it’s nothing new), along with lots of solid proof of why the human race does not seem to be capable of learning from past mistakes—and I don’t have much hope that we ever will, thanks to our global connection to those corrupt governments who lead first and foremost driven by financial greed and hunger for power, with little or no value placed on human life.

The only thing that we, the little people, have the power to do is to simply continue living our lives and building in habit-forming, common-sense precautions such as lots of hand-washing with soap and water (water alone doesn’t work—the soap binds to the oil in your skin thus causing the germs to slide off as you’re washing), and avoiding large crowds when possible. Most important, we must educate ourselves about why events like this happen and what we must do to keep ourselves as safe as possible. This book will do that for you.

With that said, I thought long and hard about the way the world is evolving these days, and it’s making me feel sad that so many people are living so fearfully. The piece I wrote below is how I feel about it all, and I hope it helps add a little positivity to all the negativity happening in the world right now.

LIVING IN FEAR IS NOT LIVING

The Coronavirus is frightening. No doubt about it.
BUT… wasting even one day of your life in the constraints of fear is not living.

Bottom line: when your number is up, it’s up. I do believe that those of us who haven’t yet completed what we were put here on earth to accomplish, or haven’t yet learned the lessons that we’ve been put here to learn, are not going anywhere, any time soon. But if the ‘powers that be’ have deemed our mission here to be finished, whether we depart by Coronavirus or are hit by a bus is a moot point. So why waste one more precious day living fearfully?

Instead, embrace the choice you have to live your life unafraid.

Naturally, you want to approach each day using the same common sense precautions that you would have whether or not you’d heard about the Coronavirus in the news. Do that.
Then go on and live.

Life is the greatest of gifts—to live it fully is an act of gratitude.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Prizewinning science journalist Sonia Shah presents a startling examination of the history of viral infections that have ravaged humanity―and how that knowledge prepares us to stop the next worldwide outbreak.

Over the past fifty years, more than three hundred infectious diseases have either newly emerged or reemerged, appearing in territories where they’ve never been seen before. Ninety percent of epidemiologists expect that one of them will cause a deadly pandemic sometime in the next two generations. It could be Ebola, avian flu, a drug-resistant superbug, or something completely new. While we can’t know which pathogen will cause the next pandemic, by unraveling the story of how pathogens have caused pandemics in the past, we can make predictions about the future.

In Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, Shah interweaves history, original reportage, and personal narrative to explore the origins of epidemics, drawing parallels between cholera, one of history’s most deadly and disruptive pandemic-causing pathogens, and the new diseases that stalk humankind today.

To reveal how a new pandemic might develop, she tracks each stage of cholera’s dramatic journey, from its emergence in the South Asian hinterlands as a harmless microbe to its rapid dispersal across the nineteenth-century world, all the way to its latest beachhead in Haiti. Along the way she reports on the pathogens now following in cholera’s footsteps, from the MRSA bacterium that besieges her own family to the never-before-seen killers coming out of China’s wet markets, the surgical wards of New Delhi, and the suburban backyards of the East Coast.

By delving into the convoluted science, strange politics, and checkered history of one of the world’s deadliest diseases, Pandemic reveals what the next global contagion might look like―and what we can do to prevent it.

“The power of Shah’s account lies in her ability to track simultaneously the multiple dimensions of the public-health crises we are facing.”―The Chicago Tribune

Crochet a Pink Flamingo Shawl


Summer will be here before you know it, and this shawl has a real tropical vibe–it’s perfect for throwing over your shoulders on a summer evening.

Materials: 1 ball pink ombre self-striping yarn / 6 mm hook / finished size: 48” wide x 31” from top to point

Note: Ch 3 at beginning of each row counts as 1 dc.

ch = chain; sp = space; dc = double crochet; sk = skip

To begin: Ch 4, sl st in first ch to make a ring.

Row 1: In ring: (ch 3, 2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc), turn.

Row 2: Ch 3, dc in same sp, dc in next dc, ch 1, sk next dc, (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in ch-2 sp (which is the center), ch 1, sk next dc, dc in next dc, 2 dc in last dc, turn.

Row 3: Ch 3, dc in same sp, *ch 1, sk 1 dc, dc in next dc, repeat across from * to centre ch-2 sp, (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in ch-2 sp, dc in next dc, *ch 1, sk 1 dc, dc in next dc, repeat from * across to last dc, 2 dc in last dc, turn.

Repeat this process, with a 2-dc increase at the beginning and the end of each row, along with a (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in each row’s centre ch-2 sp. Continue until you either run out of yarn or reach your desired size. Add a tassel to each corner (as shown in pictures), if desired.

Alcohol Ink Coasters

I love alcohol ink. I’m new at this art, so still in the experimental stages of my learning process, but I’m finding it to be a truly creative experience since you don’t plan out what you’re going to make—you just play around with it and whatever materializes is what you get.
I like painting on plain ceramic tiles since there’s just a small area to fill, and attaching felt on the underside turns them into great coasters.
First, I made my own alcohol ink, which is a fraction of the cost of store-bought inks. There are lots of blogs with instructions—here’s a link to a blog that explains the process clearly: https://www.dreamalittlebigger.com/post/homemade-alcohol-inks.html
I decided to make my sister-in-law four coasters for her birthday, so I got my materials together and played around with my alcohol inks over a Saturday afternoon. You can see pictures below of my results.
I have some of my inks in little spray bottles, and others in bottles with droppers. For the background in all four coasters, I began by spraying some black ink, and then some brown ink.
Then, to make each coaster a little different, I chose a two or three different colours to drip onto each background. At some points, I used a straw to spread out some colours, or I tilted the coaster so colours could run into each other. As I said earlier, it’s all a bit of an experiment, but very interesting and lots of fun to work on.
Once the ink on all four coasters was dry, I sprayed them with a clear sealant to add lasting protection.
All tied up with a bow and ready for gifting!

Care for a cat nap?

A winter Sunday…
It’s a great day to hang out with your friends.

Or perhaps just curl up and have a nice, long cat nap.

Whatever you choose to do… Hurray for Sundays!

 

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