Weekend Update: Masks, Family, & More

Susan B of une femme d'un certain age wears a face mask with Frida Kahlo print.

Los Angeles County has mandated that masks are now required for everyone outside their homes. For how long, we don’t know. But I think it’s prudent, and will be masking up. I know many of you sewists have been making your own. But I don’t have access to fabric or a (working) machine. So I was really happy to find some fun CDC-Compliant masks from a local company, Mixed Up Clothing. She’s also donating masks to medical personnel, first responders, essential workers and vulnerable populations through a variety of community groups, so every purchase is helping others too. There are limited quantities of each fabric, but still lots to choose from.


We haven’t been able to see Jeune Homme since early March. His group home is also under a “stay at home” order which means we can’t bring him back to our house on weekends or visit him there. We’ve just been told that “no home visits” has been extended until July 😬, but that we may be able to go see him at the group home as long as we maintain proper distancing. We’re still trying to figure out how to do this without upsetting him, as he has limited capacity to understand what’s going on, or why we’re not bringing him back to our house for a visit.

There was also a little scare earlier in the week when he developed a fever. He was taken in for a Covid-19 test, which fortunately turned out to be negative, and his fever broke after a couple of days. He’s been fine since. We are so grateful to the staff at his group home, and know he’s being well cared for there.

Le Monsieur was required to get a test yesterday in advance of a (routine) medical procedure next week. Just in case you’ve been worried about the testing process itself, he says it’s a breeze. (And he’s not one to minimize discomfort.)

He was supposed to be retiring in March, but with everything going on, he’s stayed on to help his team, and has been working full-time from home. It’s definitely been keeping him busy, but I’m hopeful that he’ll wrap up his projects soon and be able to step back.

So when he’s videoconferencing, I retreat to the backyard to work or read. Which brings me to…

Bugs Be Gone

Thermacell DEET-free mosquito repellent. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

While mosquitoes aren’t usually a big problem in Southern California, we do get a few. And I’ve had some bites recently. A couple of commenters had recommended this DEET-free mosquito repellent device when I posted my backyard tour. So I’m giving it a try over the weekend and will report back.

How are things with you?

Bon weekend!

Stay in touch.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for unefemme.net. See my complete disclosure policy here.


  1. SueAnne Robinson
    May 16, 2020 / 3:39 am

    First, I’m happy things worked out healthwise for your son this week. Phew! I am sorry you are unable to see him right now.

    These masks look great. Did you find that the molded nose wire helps to keep your glasses from fogging up? Also, did you get the Teen/Small Adult or the Adult Size? I already have a mask collection but have yet to find one that doesn’t fog up my glasses and isn’t too big (other than one that a relative made for me) Stay safe and well!

    • Susan Blakey
      May 16, 2020 / 5:56 am

      Hi SueAnne, this is the Adult size. At the time I ordered, only Adult or Kid sizes were available. I may try the Small Adult size next. One of the things I LOVE about this mask is the wire. I shape it around my nose and cheeks and it really does keep my glasses from fogging up! (Granted our humidity is lower here but it was a problem with other masks I tried.)

      • SueAnne Robinson
        May 19, 2020 / 4:17 am

        Hi Susan, The stock of small adult masks is pretty limited. I am clearly a small adult – 5 ft, size 4-6. If you could only order a regular Adult size again, would you? I seem to be collecting masks that don’t work for me and would like to not add more to my collection. Stay safe and be well and thank you for you the work you put into your blog for us!!

    • britta
      May 16, 2020 / 8:26 am

      I wear glasses and find if I put my mask on first and put the glasses over a small piece of the mask they don’t fog. …..at least not much. I live in humid Oregon, so if it works here it should work most places.

  2. Lori H
    May 16, 2020 / 4:22 am

    Best wishes for contact with your son that does not upset him – that is so hard.
    I have the foggy glasses problem too!
    I will be interested to hear how the mosquito repellent works – here in VA the mosquitoes are terrible.
    Happy weekend!

  3. May 16, 2020 / 4:42 am

    Glad to learn your son is well, and that his fever resolved. Here in the Detroit area, where covid-19 initially put us near the top in terms of cases and death rates, we’re now among the first states to show a decline in cases. As frustrating as it is to be in lockdown — and uncomfortable to wear masks in public — these preventative measures DO work and they are worth the extra effort. The way I see it, wearing a mask in public also conveys respect and care for the health of other people.

    Like you, I’ve been trying to have some fun with mask patterns. I have a small collection of prints, and a few solids, so I can attempt to look coordinated when I’m out walking. 🙂

    • Katrinka
      May 16, 2020 / 6:03 am

      What I am learning during this pandemic is that many people have no respect for others’ health and see wearing a mask as inconvenient, not a necessity. Susan, you are lucky to have a governor who has mandated masks. In SC it’s just a suggestion for many which means they don’t have to do it.

    • Susan Blakey
      May 16, 2020 / 6:34 am

      Yes! This quote in an article in the LA Times today sums it up nicely: “I think people are missing the point of masks,” said UCLA epidemiologist Anne Rimoin. “They’re not to protect you from someone else, they’re to protect someone else from you.… The science is pretty clear that if you can reduce droplet spread, you will reduce transmission. Along with social distancing and hand sanitizing, it’s another tool in the box.”

      • SuD
        May 18, 2020 / 5:14 am

        I really don’t understand why some people don’t get this. By the way your mask is very stylish, will have to check them out.

  4. May 16, 2020 / 4:45 am

    I hope you will be able to see your son soon. I know that I am missing my grandsons very much at the moment but hope to see them this weekend if I just go and sit in the garden and have a cup of tea with them. Luckily the weather is warm. Masks are not mandatory for us yet however I usually wear mine when I go out. best wishes to you both.

  5. Marcy Stollon
    May 16, 2020 / 5:11 am

    I’m glad your son is well, and hope you get to see him soon. Thanks for the info on the mosquito repellent device. Looking forward to how it works. Mosquitoes in Texas can make it impossible to sit out. Cute mask by the way.

  6. May 16, 2020 / 5:20 am

    I imagine it’s so very hard to not be able to see your son, and for him as well. I was about to fly home for some time with my 93 year old mum when all this started. She has daily carers, and we talk on the phone, but of course it’s not the same as being together in person.
    We’ve been wearing masks for a while here in Ottawa, when we do the weekly shop. Not everyone does. Like Cindy said in her comment, it conveys respect for the health of others, I think.
    Hope you and your family stay well. Happy spring. It’s finally here in Eastern Canada. At least today.:)

    • Lagatta de Montréal
      May 16, 2020 / 10:31 am

      Sue, for quite a while in nearby Montréal, it has been very difficult to buy masks. Buying online is difficult for many people, for different reasons. I’ll finally go collect mine this afternoon. It was a bit strange to have to take cash out of the bank, when it had became so unusable that I returned the $200 I had taken out of my account to it.

      Unfortunately I saw a case of rudeness bordering on violence when I went to the saq (=LCBO) to buy a bottle of wine. An irate man practically rammed his shopping cart into a worker, who happened to be a young Black woman (probably a student at Université de Montréal near that branch) and berated her in disgusting terms – she is a better woman than I am as she kept her calm.

      I was also thinking about jeune homme and many people with “different” mental abilities, including those at the other end of life who have dementia.

      • Lea
        May 16, 2020 / 7:52 pm

        Hi. May I ask which company you chose for your mask and how you like it? There are so many making masks at the moment that it becomes difficult to choose online. Thank you. Ça va bien aller.

  7. Dianne
    May 16, 2020 / 5:47 am

    We live in Florida and the mosquitoes get bad! I bought a Thermocell last summer and it does work. I use it on or near the table and chairs in our screen area though so it may not be as effective ‘out in the open’

  8. Sue Daugherty
    May 16, 2020 / 5:54 am

    I live in a Illinois and also have a daughter in a group home. They have been on complete lock down since mid March. We can’t visit or bring her home. She is nonverbal so we can’t even video chat with her. I am glad the home is doing what it has to do to keep the residents safe but golly I miss her. No word on when we will be able to see her.

  9. May 16, 2020 / 6:12 am

    The fact that buying a mask Will result in one being donated, and am debating the prints still available. My first choice is not. Interested in how you like the Thermocell, we use those Off mosquito coils and find they are pretty effective without being too offensive but Also interested in this one. My husband really attracts mosquitoes!

  10. Victoria D.
    May 16, 2020 / 6:39 am

    Susan, thank you so much for this source of masks. I just ordered four! While I have a few masks, none have the face wire and I think that will help so much to prevent my sunglasses from fogging. Realistically, we may be wearing masks for a long time to come. They might as well be cute!
    I also want to thank you for recommending the Chico’s utility pants. I ordered them in sage and, unlike almost every pair of pants I have tried on in recent times, they fit beautifully. So comfortable, yet cut well so they are flattering.

    • Jannie
      May 16, 2020 / 7:27 am

      Wow,Susan, how difficult it must be not to see your son. A dear friend of ours had a double lung transplant on February 23…it has been a very difficult road. Since the pandemic, his wife has only seen him 2 times. Thank goodness for iPads as that is there way to communicate.
      Haven’t seen our granddaughters since New Years as they live 7 hours away. Again thank goodness for iPad and FaceTime.
      Thank you for recommending Chicos utility pants…love them (opal and khaki) and also bought them on sale.
      Stay well!

  11. Jill Ann
    May 16, 2020 / 7:23 am

    I just discovered this fantastic source of masks; haven’t ordered any yet, but plan to. They are super cute, plus support one of my childhood favorite field trip destinations, the Detroit Institute of Arts. I’ll be getting the one that sums up my feelings recently.


    • Lagatta de Montréal
      May 16, 2020 / 10:35 am

      Those are lovely, I’d love one of the Diego Rivera’s. I bought one in my neigbhourhood but do need at least two more.

  12. Elizabeth
    May 16, 2020 / 7:32 am

    Hi Susan, Thank you for the wealth of information you share. I really appreciate all the resources you provide. Regarding the mask, I’m confused about the pouch that is a part of the mask. Do you have filters that you insert? I notice the site doesn’t provide filters so where are you suppose to get them.?

    • Susan Blakey
      May 16, 2020 / 7:36 am

      Hi Elizabeth, I don’t use a filter with it, but from what I understand even just a folded kleenex will work, as long as you replace it after each wear. Again, it’s really just about reducing the spread of droplets.

    • Joan
      May 16, 2020 / 10:41 am

      I bought several Mixed Up masks (they arrived so quickly!). You can use a paper coffee filter, cut or folded, to fit in the pouch

  13. LeeAnn
    May 16, 2020 / 7:37 am

    Thank you for featuring the masks again! This is just what I was looking for.

  14. Lee
    May 16, 2020 / 7:45 am

    So glad to hear your son did not have Covid and is doing better! My heart goes out to you, though, as you’ve been unable to visit him. I’ll be interested to hear how you like the mosquito repellent device. Living in Arkansas, we have a terrible time with them, so I’m always on the lookout for a way to enjoy my deck without ending up covered in bites.

  15. Anne
    May 16, 2020 / 7:55 am

    Hi Susan! I’m glad you like the Mixed Up Mask company. I’ve ordered 5 from them already and just love them. They fit well, go over the chin and are great if you wear glasses or sunglasses. They arrived after a couple of days, too. I get compliments on my masks all the time. . .. and that’s a sentence I never thought I would write, but I’ll take it. My best to all of you.

  16. Jacqueline
    May 16, 2020 / 8:32 am

    Thank you so very much for the mask source! I see ads for masks everywhere online, but I have absolutely fallen in love with Mixed Up Clothing! What an interesting person behind the brand! I would love to order but can’t find the Small Adult size right now. I’ll keep checking back. Again, thank you!

    • Leslie
      May 16, 2020 / 10:04 am

      Jacqueline–I think sometimes the size choice depends on the fabric–maybe what age range she thinks would find it appealing? Anyway, I just ordered 2 masks in the Small Adult size, the Black White Dashiki and the African Sabi. I sew, but haven’t had much time since we are moving my mom to a retirement apartment in just 2 weeks and there is so much to do. Not the best timing, but she has been waiting a long time for the apartment she wanted to become available and now wants to get this done. I’m hoping the visiting restrictions will ease a little within a month or so after she moves in.

      • Jacqueline
        May 16, 2020 / 10:21 am

        Thank you, Leslie! Good luck with your mother’s move. I am sure she appreciates all that you must do to help her with it. Stay healthy!

  17. Elizabeth
    May 16, 2020 / 8:45 am

    Thanks to your earlier reference I purchased 4 of the Frida Kahlo masks from Mixed Up for myself and 3 friends. Now I’m tempted by the new site (Detroit Institute of Art) you’re sharing. I agree with Jill Ann (earlier poster)- they offer one that rather sums this state of affairs up nicely. I’m surprised they haven’t sold out by now!
    I think masks are becoming the new scarves…and will kill the lipstick business.

    • Lagatta de Montréal
      May 16, 2020 / 10:37 am

      Yes, you need his and hers Frida Kahlos and Diego Riveras!

  18. RoseAG
    May 16, 2020 / 9:00 am

    The situation with your son sounds tricky but if he’s happy where he is, and not despondent you haven’t been there I wouldn’t worry. Transitions are hard for children and an abbreviated visit would be a transition. It’s probably good your sons’ home is locked-down because it’s awfully hard to stop the spread once it gets a foothold.
    The walking path near my home is pretty busy sometimes and I put my mask on. The pollen count has been very high here and I think it might be helping with the worst of the green dust that’s in the air.

  19. May 16, 2020 / 9:25 am

    I always enjoy hearing about your Jeune Homme as I have a brother in similar circumstances. He lives in a different province, so we aren’t able to visit him often even in better times than these, but since my father’s recent passing, I have become his primary family contact. Mon Frere usually goes out to various work situations Monday to Friday, but of course, has not been able to do that in recent weeks. He is mostly non-verbal, but in a recent FaceTime visit with him and the manager of his group home, he did tell me quite clearly that he’s on “days off” right now!

  20. May 16, 2020 / 11:05 am

    I wondered how Jeune Homme was doing and how you’ve been doing without being able to see him — thanks for the update. Sounds as if he’s got the best possible care and companionship — and consistency, which I imagine is very important.
    That mask is really cute. I’ve made a couple, but my pattern doesn’t involve wire molding and my glasses do steam up a bit. . . .

  21. Wren
    May 16, 2020 / 11:55 am

    Hi Susan,
    When I first found your blog, I noticed that some shots are taken outside of what I guess is your home. From the background, I thought it looked like one of the cute streets in Culver and low and behold, I was right! My son and DIL and family live there and I love walking in the neighborhoods, looking at the yards and homes that are so lovingly maintained. I am up the coast from you in SLO.
    Before we entered this dystopian new world, I would have been in Nice, driving up to Avignon and boarding a river boat on the Rhone to end in Lyon. So sad that isn’t happening.
    I have ordered a couple of the masks and thank you for recommending the website since so many places are outside the US and many are back-ordered. Love that I can support a CA business.
    I enjoy your blog more than ever in this time of isolation. I am missing my little grandsons so much; I can only imagine what it is like for you not to be able to see your son.

  22. Cher
    May 16, 2020 / 12:06 pm

    I have ordered masks from Johnny Was and can’t wait to get them. You have to order 5 or 50 so I got 5 and will give out to some friends. They have a thing where they donate for every one ordered so it seemed like a good place to order from. Like you, I felt if I’m gonna need one for the foreseeable future , it might as well become an accessory. I have glasses fog. too. Glad your son is Ok. My husband retired 11/2 years ago. There has been a learning curve for both of us! He loves to tell people he didn’t know there were so many rules of the house and I tell him there was no need for rules before he started staying home! Gotta laugh!

    • Christine Jensen
      May 16, 2020 / 3:47 pm

      I just received my Johnny Was masks, lots of color to coordinate with various outfits. Since I think we’ll still be wearing masks this winter (I live in a cold weather area) I’m ordering a flannel mask from Stormy Kromer based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

    • Jill Ann
      May 17, 2020 / 10:17 am

      A friend of mine just got her masks from Johnny Was, and was delighted with them. She also appreciated that each purchase resulted in masks being donated.

      • May 18, 2020 / 9:55 am

        I got my Johnny Was masks on Saturday as I was heading out the door, and took the package with me so I could wear them right away. They are lovely patterns and nicely made – highly recommend them!!

  23. May 16, 2020 / 1:20 pm

    Can we have the name of the woman who owns this business & a bit about her please?

    • Susan Blakey
      May 16, 2020 / 1:41 pm

      Hi Judy, I don’t know her personally, but her name is Sonia N. Kang. You can read all about her and her company HERE.

  24. Mimi Wan
    May 16, 2020 / 5:03 pm

    I love the mask! I made 4 masks with existing quilting fabric I purchased many years ago. It took an entire Sunday afternoon but we have been wearing them. I also modified them so that they go around the neck and head rather than on my ears–I have tiny ears and wear glasses so it was uncomfortable. I pretty much thought I was done but everyone in my town has been making them, some donating them to folks who need them, some selling them. But once I saw the Frida mask, I am now inspired to make some more. I tried ordering them from your link but she didn’t have any more Frida ones and I see they are ones that go around your ears. So I ordered fabric after calling around town. I also ordered other fabric so you have totally inspired me to up my mask game. Thank you!

  25. May 17, 2020 / 6:28 am

    Curious about the mosquito repellant. Couldn’t find just what the repellant was, if not DEET. My husband wanted to know that before we would buy it. Also wondering how much all the replacement cartridges, pads, etc. would cost. I’ll need to check it out, but I’m looking forward to your take on it.

    • Susan Blakey
      May 17, 2020 / 6:36 am

      Hi Christine, I tried it out yesterday and it does seem to work. The repellent is a synthetic form of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemum plants. There is no discernible odor when it’s on. Each butane cartridge lasts for 12 hours. Not sure how long each mat with the repellent lasts. You can get replacement packages with 12 mats and 4 fuel cartridges for around $20-22.

  26. Susan
    May 17, 2020 / 9:44 am

    I love your mask! I’m a big Frida fan. Unfortunately due to the size of my head (mine is larger than the average woman’s), I find the masks with ear loops to be VERY uncomfortable. But I found a small woman-owned company that makes their masks in the U.S. (Vancouver, WA) that has elastic ties instead: FacewearFashions.com. The masks cover well and also come in lots of patterns. If any of you have trouble with ear loops, you might want to try these out.

  27. Coach Laura
    May 18, 2020 / 11:38 am

    I just now saw this post. So happy that your Jeune Homme is well but sad that you can’t see him or help him through this time. I know, as a parent, that would be the hardest thing. I wish continued health for you three plus your pup!

  28. Juti
    May 19, 2020 / 8:36 am

    Susan, this post has been really helpful. I live in Kansas and my dad is in a nursing home in San Diego. He’s been doing well — his care home is terrific and forward-thinking — but we were hoping to get out to see him for his birthday in July and it’s really, really helpful to know what to expect when we get there. Thank you!!

    I’m sewing masks for myself and my husband (plus a few friends) and I’m glad to find out that I’m not over-preparing by having a nice little pile of them ready to take with us.

    The fun part is that I’ve got some quilting fabric stashed away, including some with designs by Amy Butler and Kaffe Fassett. My husband is angling for some with funny patterns on them. So yes, as long as we’ve got to have them, let’s have some fun with it!

  29. Estie
    May 19, 2020 / 7:14 pm

    Thank you for your posts, Susan, now and at all times. I always find something valuable to consider, as your take on style also includes substance. I hope your family can soon safely gather together.

  30. Nancy
    May 23, 2020 / 10:46 am

    Thank you for writing about Mixed Up Clothing! I ordered seven masks, they arrived quickly, and they are perfect! I love all the cute fabrics to choose from.

  31. Tabitha
    May 27, 2020 / 2:42 pm

    A friend of mine studied mosquitoes as an epidemiologist and has a lot of experience trying out bug repellents while doing it. She really loves the Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535 or the Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin. My family has now tried both for 2 years now and absolutely love them. They feel a lot better then Deet, but are just ask effective (from a scientific point of view!)

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