Recipe for No-Sew, Washable, Reusable Face Masks

I’d lost my heart for publishing new recipes after the COVID-19 crisis stopped us all in our tracks. After all, who wants to shop when shopping is somewhat risky, and who wants to spend money not knowing how long they’ll have any income coming in? However, yesterday our governor said that everyone should start wearing a face mask anytime they’re in public. Do you have a face mask? I didn’t think I did, and I’m not a good seamstress, so I was thrilled when my brother sent me a link to how to make an easy, no-sew face mask. NOW, I thought—this is a recipe worth sharing!

One No-Sew, Washable, Reusable Face Mask

Ingredient List:
1 washable cotton handkerchief (other fabrics can work; the tighter the weave, the better)
2 hair ties

Step One: Flip the scarf or square of material over and fold the top quarter over so that it comes to the middle (center) of the cloth.

Step Two: Bring the bottom quarter of the material up so that it meets the top quarter in the middle. You now have a double layer of material.

Step Three: Carefully flip over your scarf so that the folds are on the bottom and the surface facing up is one smooth piece.

Step Four: Repeat the folding process exactly as you did in Step One, folding down the top 1/4 of the material so that it reaches the center line.

Step Five: Fold up the bottom quarter so that it reaches the middle. You should now have four layers of material.

Step Six: TURN THE CLOTH OVER (so that when you’re done, the front has no openings and is one piece with pleats).

Step Seven: Put one of the hair ties over each end of the material, about 1/4 of the way, although you can adjust this as needed to make it larger or smaller, depending on the size of the child or adult you’re trying to fit.

Step Eight: Fold over the left side of the mask toward the middle and smooth it down as much as you can. (It won’t really stay flat unless you have silk or something very thin.)

Step Nine: Fold over the right side of the mask so that they meet approximately in the middle.

Step Ten: TURN THE MASK OVER, so that the front (which you will wear away from your face) has pleats but NO open spaces.

Adjust the mask to your face, using the hair ties to secure it around your ears on both sides. Try to place it as far up on your nose as you can without interfering with your vision, and make sure it’s snuggly under your chin. You may wonder if the mask will slip off. I think this is a possibility with very thin material. The heavy cotton material that I used does not seem to slip at all and stays in place nicely, although it doesn’t really fit tightly around my nose.

Because my husband has asthma, he has to use masks to keep out dust and fumes when he’s doing some types of yard work, and thankfully I found a couple left over from last summer. They aren’t the really good ones (N-95), but they’re better than nothing, and they have a metal strip to pinch around the top of your nose to help keep out dust. I’ve read that you can also use certain types of vacuum cleaner filters that are certified to keep out 99% of dust and are antibacterial. If you have some, you could carefully cut them apart to make an extra insert into your face mask.

We don’t have such. BUT, if you have anything extra as a more protective shield, I would recommend that you use it!

If you have any type of dust/face mask, fit that on UNDER your washable, reusable mask. This will really make a tighter, more protective fit, particularly around your nose.

After fitting any inner mask (if you have one), adjust your reusable mask over it, and you’re good to go. Or at least, as “good” as possible. Obviously, the paper masks or filters are NOT washable. I’m hoping that as long as they don’t get directly exposed, they might be reusable for at least a few shopping trips. So far, we’ve not ventured to a grocery store since lock down, but I’m sure it won’t be too long before we run out of something pretty essential. BTW, some of my kids are going to the grocery store twice a week. If you can, please limit your shopping to once a week or less, and I’ve read that in Asian countries, they’re only allowing one family member to shop at a time.

Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake” (Daniel 9:17).

Here is the link where I learned how to make the no-sew mask. It has a video to help you visualize the process:

Ode to COVID Confinement

I cannot walk wherever I want, but I can walk.
I cannot talk with whomever I wish, but I can talk.
I cannot see whoever I want, but I can see.
I cannot do whatever I want, but I can be.
I cannot eat whatever I want, but I can eat.
I am confined in many ways, but life’s still sweet.

I cannot hug, but I can love.
I can’t do all I’m dreaming of.
I cannot touch, but I can keep.
I cannot guard, but I can sleep.
I cannot save, but I can pray.
Thank you, Father, for this day!

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

(No, we’re not on vacation with our two youngest sons in Ireland this morning; I’m sheltering in place at home. But, I am very grateful to be alive and more or less well after significantly recovering from the flu or a light case of COVID-19)!

C.S. Lewis Thinks About COVID-19

A friend sent this to me, and I think it’s timely. In point of fact, C.S. Lewis was writing about the atomic bomb back in 1948, not the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, so there are some important distinctions. COVID-19 is not a future threat; it is a present reality, and every precaution needs to be taken. We should not be out taking walks in crowded parks or enjoying carefree fellowship with friends and neighbors. However, the point is well taken—which is that the threat of death isn’t novel.* We should prepare for our own death and do all we can to prevent untimely death, but we should not live in a state of fear or panic. We need to keep our minds and hearts “stayed upon Jehovah” and at peace so that we can continue to live lives of love and good will!

This is what C.S. Lewis had to say seventy years ago:

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the COVID-19 Virus [replacing ‘the atomic bomb’ and so on throughout]. ‘How are we to live?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, an age of violence, an age of motor accidents.’

“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the virus began: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics and antibiotics. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by a virus, let that virus, when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things—praying, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, taking a walk, caring for our family, friends, and neighbors—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about things we cannot see. They may break down our bodies, but they need not dominate our minds or destroy our spirits.” (Written by C.S. Lewis “On Living in an Atomic Age” in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays).

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

*If you are not prepared to die and would like to be, please click on the link at the top of this page that says “Coming To Christ.” It explains what the Bible teaches about how to make peace with God through repentance from our sins, faith in Christ—who died in our place so that we can be reconciled to God—and receiving the free gift of eternal life. Please let me know how/if I can pray for you!!

April is NaPoWriMo! Are You Ready to Celebrate?

Ever heard of National Poetry Writers Month (NaPoWriMo)? Well, this year it’s become GLOBAL Poetry Writers Month (GloPoWriMo), so let’s go, GloPo! The challenge is to write 30 poems in 30 days, and I’d like to encourage you to try . . . even for one poem in the next 30 days (which might be more my speed)! If you write a poem and would like to share it, please add it in the comment box below whenever you get it written, or you can email it to me with a photo (kathrynwarmstrong at, as I’m hoping to feature some poetry by friends at some point this month.

During the insecure hush that’s fallen over our world, poetry might come more readily than during the crush of business as usual. Trying to write a poem would make a fitting assignment for a home school English class or a challenging occupation for a quiet evening’s reflection either alone or with family members all sitting around the kitchen table or fireplace!

When I was young, one of the hardest things about poetry was trying to make it rhyme and ensuring there were exactly the right number of syllables per line, but neither rhyme nor meter are mandatory requirements for poetry today. Modern poetry is often more about saying something worth pondering in an artistic way.

If you’re interested in exploring more about poetry, here are a couple of links that might help get you in touch with your poetic potential: This daily poetry podcast is hosted by America’s former Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, and yesterday’s reading (March 31, 2020, called “Interesting Times”) is perfectly apropos for the COVID crisis!! This website was developed by Maureen Thorson back in 2003 as a venue for sharing poetry. If you lack for ideas or inspiration, she will be suggesting prompts every day (which you don’t need to heed, of course!). You can also submit poetry into her comment box or submit a link to your website if you’re writing poetry on your blog for the 30 days of April each year. Maureen’s website is totally non-commercial and exists out of the generosity of her heart as a way of sharing people’s love for poetry.

My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer” (Psalm 45:1).

Ideas for Structuring Your Home School

Although I home schooled our kids and loved it, it’s been about 15-35 years ago, so times have probably changed a lot. Still, kids don’t really change that much, so I thought it might be worthwhile to share how we organized our days just in case you’re struggling to keep your kids channeled between now and the end of the school year. Of my five adult children who are married and have kids, all of them—those who live from Belgium to California—are now in school systems that are closed between now and ?? probably the end of the school year.

So, what did I do with my seven? (Alan, as a physician, was out early and home late, but he almost always made it home for dinner and some fun with the kids afterward.) For the kids and me—who were homeschooling together—Monday-Fridays looked something like this:
*Everybody got up, got dressed, made their beds and brushed their teeth
*Breakfast got made, eaten, and cleaned up with the help of some of the kids (We made a list of chores each week and kids helped self-assign themselves to which ones they wanted to help with . . . or else got assigned.)
*Family devotional time, which included Bible reading, prayer, memorizing one verse each day, and a short devotional lesson. (We used Keys for Kids and Our Daily Bread or other Bible story books and/or devotionals over the years.)
*Calisthenics: Fifteen minute routine that we all did together; stretching exercises mostly
*School work, which didn’t usually take the kids more than about 2 hours (3 hours max). You’d be surprised how fast kids can work if they know they’ll get free time when they’re done. 🙂
* Lunch, again aided by some of the kids in prep and clean up
*Rest time. I could never seem to make it through the day without a break, so I needed to rest even if the kids didn’t, although I think it was good for the kids too. Our “Rest Time” usually lasted one hour, and the kids could sleep, read, write, draw, play legos, or otherwise occupy themselves BY THEMSELVES, but creatively, not by watching videos, video games, or internet. Any unfortunate kid who hadn’t finished his school work could finish school during this time too, although my kids were usually setting their watches and timing themselves to see if they could shave off minutes, so motivation wasn’t an issue in our home.
*Snack time or “Fruit Break” as it was commonly called. One of my kids named their plush monkey “Fruit Break” in honor of this cherished tradition!
*Free time (roughly 3:00-5:00 in our family, but every family is doubtless unique). During this time, the kids could play together or separately, including video games or videos. When our kids were little there weren’t amazing YouTubes of everything under the sun, nor did we have Disney on Demand, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. We intentionally didn’t allow T.V., so the kids were definitely “behind the times” on their knowledge of cultural trivia, but some of them still don’t have T.V.s in their homes 30 years later, and none of them are big fans of T.V., so I think it was worth the effort. Instead, the kids were constantly challenged to be creative and do fun things together, such as making crazy home movies and all sorts of imaginative games.
*Dinner Time, including cooking and food prep (all but one of my kids are still great cooks) and clean up.
*P.E.—Probably one of our favorite times of day! After dinner and the dishes were done, we’d all play some sort of family sport with Alan too, such as touch football, volleyball, ice hockey (on winter ponds or iced rinks Alan would make), soft ball, bike rides, swimming, hiking, whatever! When we lived in neighborhoods with lots of other small children, we’d often incorporate neighbor kids, although after we moved out of town and the kids got bigger, we’d usually have enough for a couple of scrub teams of whatever seasonal sport was going.

Truly, this routine was so fun that we kept at it until our youngest went off to college.

All the kids graduated from various colleges and went on to graduate and professional schools afterward, so don’t be afraid to home school your kids for the next few months! In fact, you might discover what I discovered 40 years ago . . . that homeschooling is so much fun that nobody will want to go back to traditional school next fall! 🙂

I have more understanding than all my teachers:
for thy testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99).

Adventures in Home Schooling: Pepper COVID Science Experiment

Here’s an easy experiment my daughter shared with me to help kids visualize the importance of washing their hands with soap to cleanse away COVID viruses. Sprinkle pepper over a bowl of clean water. (Tell your kids that the pepper represents COVID-19 viruses.)

Dip one dry finger into the bowl, and notice how the pepper clings to your finger.

Next, dry off your finger and coat it with liquid dish soap.

Now gently lower your finger into the water and see what happens. Not only does the pepper no longer stick, it’s repelled! You can almost chase the pepper around the bowl with your finger, and the pepper ends up as far away from the soap as it can get, at the bottom and edges of the bowl!

There are other good applications for this lesson, as you can imagine! If we are spiritually dry, sin will stick to us like pepper on a dry finger! On the other hand, if we are protected by the “soap” of God’s pure word, sin won’t stick to us but will instead be repelled!

Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 13:8). “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).