The Making of a Twiddle Muff

What IS a twiddle muff?

It’s a knitted, crocheted or otherwise constructed sensory sleeve with lots of fiddly tidbits attached inside and out to keep Alzheimer’s, dementia and autism patients’ busy hands active and warm.

I’ve been hoping to invest something of my creative self into a project that would be a help to people in need of all ages and backgrounds — one that would inspire as well as be an outlet for artistic expression, and that I could do in my spare time. I was instantly intrigued when I learned about these sensory sleeves, and could see endless possibility!

In truth, as I get going, I’m realizing that it takes a good amount more time than I imagined to make just one sleeve. But as I develop some favorite textures through a variety of crochet stitches and bitsy gizmos, I hope eventually to ramp up my output and bring lots of comfort and joy to patients and their families and caregivers through these colorful, cozy little fabrications.


And, of course, now my eye is always on the hunt to collect interesting new bits to incorporate!

I’m hoping to make enough twiddle muffs to be able to donate in good quantity to care centers in my area. To help with the cost of purchasing supplies, I’ll also be offering affordably priced sensory sleeves through my new Etsy Shop (once I can get some extra ones made!) to individuals looking for unique and purposeful gifts for special loved ones.

Here’s a video of my very first twiddle muff. I’ve gathered so many ideas, and just hope my hands can keep up with my heart and my imagination!

May we all contribute from the heart to serve our family, friends and neighbors in need.

Warmly, Jessi



Knitting Renewal for Fall

As is true every year, after many months of hot, rainy, steamy summer weather — and a crazy hurricane to boot! — I was ready for Fall BIG TIME! And what better way to usher in the much anticipated change of seasons than to make myself a cozy new scarf!

Inspired by my recent surge of yarn-craft creativity, I signed up for a beginner’s course in knitting at my local yarn shop — because I needed a refresher AND the project was a curly shawl type scarf. Perfect!

After much consideration and deliberation, as one does when selecting the perfect materials, I chose a wonderful autumnal selection of fibers in varied textures and shades of purples, oranges and yellows.

I had loads of fun with the ladies throughout my class. Picking the knitting back up was a fair breeze, and in a few weeks time, I had the perfect new accessory to wear from Halloween through Thanksgiving!

May we all enjoy an extraordinary fall season!

Warmly, Jessi











‘People with Pets’ Emergency Shelter Tips

I recently worked for the first time at a local emergency shelter during Hurricane Irma in Central Florida. Most communities have a few types of shelters, and each is set up for serving different needs, including housing the general population, providing extra resources for people with special medical needs, and housing homeless people. This particular shelter where I worked was open to ‘people with pets.’

All in all, my shelter was well run with caring, knowledgeable staff. Most all of the residents made the best of it and helped each other feel comfortable. Community organizations including a local Salvation Army team brought extra meals and supplies. Based on my experience over these few days, I really think most shelters are a good option when it isn’t possible to stay with family or friends, or to evacuate out of the area altogether.

I thought I’d share a few personal observations from my time there, and some tips for planning for a future emergency shelter stay.

PLAN: Know your local climate and seasonal weather issues. And even beyond weather, it really can’t be overstated to have a general emergency plan with a checklist in place for preparing your home and the possibility of an evacuation. Be as ready as you can, and you’ll save yourself and your family a lot of anxiety.


PETS: In my emergency ‘people with pets’ shelter, we had dozens of dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, turtles and hermit crabs! All pets had to remain inside a secure carrier or crate at all times. The only exception was for a brief dog walk, always on a leash, outside when weather permitted or inside in designated spaces during the height of the storm. Then right back into their carrier they went.

If you have an animal, get yourself an appropriate crate to have on hand for times of emergency. For cats, have a crate that is large enough to also have a small litter box inside. Pets that get along well can share larger crates.

Our shelter did have many crates in different sizes available to loan to people, but it was not a limitless supply. I’m sure there are other pet shelters that don’t have those resources. There are many types of crates and cages that collapse and stow away easily. I recommend all pet owners have the appropriate type and size of crate for their animal’s comfort.

Would you say this crate is big enough for this kitty to stay at the shelter?

Not all shelters allow pets. Of those that do, some shelters allow crated pets to stay with you in your shelter space. At most others, pets must stay in a separate area of the shelter facility. Know what is available in your area and what is required for pets.

Have a copy of current pet vaccination papers handy for quick gathering when needed. You may or may not be asked to show them, but have them ready just in case. In addition to a crate, bring pet food and treats, collars/leashes, waste bags, scoopable kitty litter, and various clean-up supplies. Everyone cleans up after their own pets. It’s also useful to have a sheet to throw over the pet crate. This really helps keep pets calm and quiet.


BEDDING/CHAIRS: I really recommend something to get you off the floor, like a cot, an air bed, a lightweight mattress, a foam pad, lawn chairs (layout and sitting types), a bean bag chair, whatever is easy to carry and setup yourself. For many, it can be difficult getting up off the floor, and it gets cold down there. Bring enough blankets, sleeping bags, sheets and pillows for your family.


SUPPLIES: Bring a cooler with plenty of food and ice, water, snacks, medication, layers of clothes (because they usually crank the air conditioning while the electricity is still working), flip flops as well as shoes and socks, a jacket or sweater, flashlights, batteries, device chargers, activities and games, various paper and cleaning supplies, trash bags, and lots of patience for you, your family and your pet/s for possibly several days. Make it fun for the kids. Let them be involved in the planning and prepping as you feel comfortable. Let them know that they are safe and well taken care of. It can be like indoor camping!


Finally — and this is just me saying this, because everyone is truly responsible to bring everything they could need for themselves — if you have an extra blanket or two, or a couple of pillows to spare, maybe some extra water or snacks, pack them in. There are so many people who have so little; elderly that are very frail; people that may be alone or without familial support; people that do all they can just to get themselves and their pets to safety. It would be wonderful to able to share extra resources with a shelter-mate in need. I saw this happening during my shift, and it was amazing to witness these compassionate acts.


Many shelter residents also pitched in and helped out with unloading fellow residents’ gear, checking and restocking bathroom supplies, tidying up, and just wherever they could be useful. It was tremendous!

I hope these tips are helpful for you in thinking about a new or updating your existing home emergency and evacuation plan, especially if you have dear pets in the family.

If you’ve had a positive emergency shelter experience, or have some helpful tips to add, please share in the comment section below.

Wishing you many safe and sunny days to come!


Making a “Lost in Time” Shawl

I’ve had a chance to get back into the crochet groove with some basic projects, mainly blankets and wash cloths and such. I’m enjoying it all so much!

I decided for my next piece, I wanted to create something really special. I’ve been looking at several more advanced crochet a-long blanket patterns, but then I decided to do something a bit smaller and quicker, needing some instant gratification! There are so many patterns and gorgeous yarns to choose from, it’s deliciously overwhelming!

Taking a deep breath, I chose the beautiful “Lost in Time” shawl, designed by Johanna Lindahl and available via Mijo Crochet. (Click the picture below for a link to this gorgeous pattern.) I love the look of this wrap so much! And it would be a good practice piece for some of the larger projects I have in mind. (In fact, yarn is already on order for a gorgeous blanket I’ll be starting soon!) So this will be my first more advanced pattern in crochet.


For yarns, I went with Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable. I’ve never been a huge Red Heart fan, although I’ve worked in it plenty because it was really cheap back in the day (and scratchy). From everything I’ve read, Unforgettable is a pretty fussy yarn, lots of tangling if you’re not careful, and very difficult to frog (pull out >> rip out >> rippit >> ribbit — get it?!).

But Unforgettable is also simply some of the prettiest yarn I’ve seen lately in the big box stores. I thought the luscious colorways, glorious luster and slightly less than worsted weight, along with the fairly fast color change striping, would be amazing with this pattern. So I decided to just go for it and work especially delicately and loosely. I thought I might even practice the pattern in cheap stash yarn beforehand, but you know what? I didn’t. I just jumped in with extra care.


Polo is my primary colorway, and I also worked in a couple rows of Sunrise, a similar but more vibrant pallet, to occasionally pop up the colors. I wanted some contrast as well, so I placed swaths of Tidal into a few of the rounds for accents. (The photo above shows l-r: Tidal, Sunrise and Polo.) This color combination really excited me as red-browns and turquoise is generally a favorite combo of mine. I couldn’t wait to see the outcome!

I thought I had purchased MORE than enough yarn, with two skeins of Polo and one each of Sunrise and Tidal. The work was such a pleasure, and I definitely got “Lost in Time” quite a bit, very much in the flow of the hook and fiber. But OF COURSE I ran out of yarn in the final repeater section with only one row to go, plus the border rows, plus the tassels. So off to the store I ran for more Sunrise and Tidal, bringing the purchase count to two of each. And I picked up some beads for the tassels while I was there. And more yarn, for other projects coming down the pike, as one must.

So I worked to complete the body of the shawl, but I wasn’t as close to the finish line as I had thought. It did take some time to do the final border rounds, the better part of a weekend actually. I think finish work is always a bit more detailed, and you want it to really set everything off well. And so it was a slower process for me, and I started to get impatient. But oh how happy I was to make the last of those border stitches!

The next day I made the tassels. I had intended to make a bit fancier style of tassel than the usual, but it was more advanced stitching than I initially realized. So I went back to the standard variety tassel, and I’m plenty happy with the outcome.

That evening, I blocked the shawl for overnight drying, which maybe I didn’t really need to do since it’s acrylic, but did it anyway hoping it would enhance the final shape and drape. The next morning I attached the tassels, and voila! Ready to photograph, share and wear!!

Except that it’s still 95 degrees outside! It’s August in Florida after all! I’ll have to be patient, and wait to wear it out and about this coming fall season. I think in the meantime, I’ll submit it as my first ever entry into our County Fair! Why not?

Here are some pics HOTH! (Hot Off the Hook) What do you think? And what’s on your hook at the moment?

Have an amazing day, and thanks for visiting GoodMorningGal! If you’d like to connect with me on Ravelry, I’m JessiJSmith 🙂

Warmly, Jessi

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Yarn-Craft Revisited

I’ve been super-cleaning the house this summer and, after years ignored, have rediscovered a motley treasure of yarns from my last bout of Knitting Fever that had me entangled in its knotty grip eons ago.

And I have it in my mind that I need to reduce the clutter, minimize the piles, purge the stuff that’s been weighing me down in life … So I’ve pulled the fibrous masses out of hiding with the thought that I need to get rid of it once and for all. But for some reason I can’t just pitch it, can’t just donate it. I know, I’ll just make a “few” things!

For the most part, I’ve only ever been a scarf knitter, and an occasional granny square crocheter. So I thought I’d try my hand at some larger stash-busting projects, maybe learn another stitch or two, try a new pattern while I’m at it…

For my first return to the hook and needles, I thought I’d build on my granny crochet experience. I’ve done multi-square granny afghans and large stand-alone granny squares. This time, I wanted one that was rectangular, so it would be long enough cover down to my toes, which are always cold no matter what time of year!

I figured out how to alter the pattern from this tutorial: Crochet Crowd – Granny Rectangle Afghan. I’ve got just an absolute ton of Red Heart yarn in these — what I call 70s retro tomato, celery, wheat type — colors, so I’m really going for the gusto with the size of this thing. Here’s the WIP. I’m liking the looks so far!




Next up in planning, I’m going to do another biggie crochet blanket, and in my mind I’m pretty sure, but not absolutely decided, that I’m going with some type of V-Stitch stripe. I’ve got a mondo heap of discontinued Patons Divine bulky yarn in several colors that I think will make a really soft, cozy blanky. Here are those shades.



Although I’m supposed to be fazing out all this yarn, I’m already feeling the addictive pull of the craft. And I mean there’s social media and zillions of patterns and pictures out there now, so I’m pretty much a goner. Not to mention, my knitting needles are feeling left out. So there might be a third something or other project coming down the line. We shall see!

I’ll check in now and then and let you all know how it’s going. Comment below with a link to your WIP too, if you’d like!


Morning Exercise is my Jam! Here’s Why –>

I love making morning exercise part of my regular daily routine!

In fact, I’ve found that, for myself, mornings are really the only time I can stay truly consistent with an exercise program.


I’ve learned this about myself over the years as I’ve become a busy adult with more side projects than I can even believe. Despite all of my obsessive planning, you just never know where the day is going to lead or what may be in store for you by the evening time.

Some years ago, after losing nearly 100 pounds, I decided to take up running as part of a major wellness overhaul and to help maintain my weight loss. I joined a run club and really enjoyed the camaraderie of my running community. I also appreciated the feeling of safety in numbers when running in the darkness of the early morning and evening hours around my day job.


The runners’ 5:00 a.m. group runs several times a week worked perfectly into my schedule, and also into a new “Morning Person” lifestyle I was creating for myself based on leadership guru Robin Sharma’s philosophies, and his 5 o’Clock Club plan. The 5 AM Club sets out the notion that if you want to live a world-class life, you should arise and breathe life and energy into each morning, nourishing your body, mind and soul.

Sharma encourages everyone to set aside the first hour of every morning to enjoy some type of exercise, to read something inspirational or educational, and to journal our goals for the rest of the day. I just loved this way of thinking, and it’s really made a huge difference for me in my life.

And so my 5:00 a.m. group runs became the beloved core of my fitness routine for a couple of years. I relished being outdoors and exploring all kinds of different neighborhoods, parks and trails I hadn’t known about before. And it was easy to throw on an audiobook or podcast and take in some great personal development.

Then I changed day jobs, and unfortunately I couldn’t make that particular activity work for me anymore. It was hard to give up, and without something to easily replace it, I got lax about waking up early. I experimented with after-work walks, bicycling, group fitness classes, a little of this and that, but for whatever combination of reasons, I found I wasn’t staying consistent in this evening time slot.

Happily, I have returned to morning exercise, and I’m back where I belong. Right now I’m doing activities that my schedule will allow, namely getting my workouts in at home. I joined a web-based On Demand program with an online library bursting with dozens of today’s most popular fitness programs. It’s fun and there’s plenty of variety to keep from getting bored. And I’m a member of some great social media coaching and accountability groups, which is extra-awesome! Now I reserve outdoor activities for the weekends, and some evenings, if I can squeeze it into the daylight hours.


So once again, as part of my daily 5:00 a.m. plan (actually more like 4:30 but who’s counting?), I try to make sure that morning exercise is automatically built into that first hour of my day. Granted and in all honesty, sometimes life gets hectic and I fall away from this ideal to grab a few extra winks. My weekends are more like the 7 or 8 AM Club. But still, I always come back to setting the early bird alarm through the week, because I know that morning exercise works best for me. Here’s why:

Obviously, it’s energizing. Morning exercise wakes me up, gets my blood pumping, and my brain functioning. It gives my complexion a lovely flushed glow, stokes my endorphins, and helps me start my day in a happy mood.

Morning exercise revs up my metabolism for a nice steady burn for the rest of the day. Plus, some studies suggest you burn more fat on an empty stomach. Whether that’s true or not, who knows? I just know I do better, and am more comfortable, without any food on my stomach.

Exercise in the morning forces me to drink a few glasses of water right away as I’m getting through the warm-up, workout and cool-down. Otherwise, I’d be straight into the coffee pot. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But still. Water!!

I really hate to shower more than once a day. It’s such a production! And constant double-shower days get pretty dehydrating for my hair and skin. So one shower in the morning after a good sweaty workout suits me just fine!

I feel confident with the rest of my day knowing I’ve completed my morning exercise. It’s like a big red check-mark on the list of really important things I need to accomplish. That’s so empowering!

It’s not hanging over my head, and I don’t feel guilty if something comes up later that I need to attend to, like a late business meeting, or an impromptu get-together over cocktails!

After my morning exercise, I start my day off with a healthy mindset and am more apt to put the effort into sticking to my meal plan.

I sleep better at night when I exercise in the morning. It’s too hard for me to wind down after a great evening workout! I mean, if I have to do it on occasion, I will. But no-can-do on the regular!

Collage 2017-05-08 14_27_40

If you’re not already an early riser, why not try waking up a little earlier and get your 5 a.m. fun on?! What are your favorite morning exercises? Leave me some comments below!

May we all enjoy many energized and empowered mornings to come!

Warmly, Jessi




Why Doesn’t Your Makeup Last All Day?

I get asked this quite a bit. There are a couple of reasons having to do with the moisture level in our skin. And the good news is, there are some manageable solutions to help your makeup last all day!

Dry Skin – When our skin is overly-dry, it draws moisture from wherever it can. This includes our makeup, as it is the most readily available source right at the skin’s surface. So our makeup sinks down into the skin and leaves us looking blotchy and uneven.

Oily Skin – If our skin is oily to combination, direct contact with our natural oils breaks down and discolors our makeup, and it appears to be gone in no time.

And are you ready for a double whammy? When your skin gets too dry, it goes into overdrive and produces an overabundance of oils! Aarrgghh!!!

The key is to keep skin as balanced and close to “normal” as possible, and that happens by a paying attention to your skin type and observing changes in your skin by the seasons. Heck, by the day in some climates!


If you want your makeup to last all day, it certainly helps to maintain a good, consistent skin care regimen, and to know when to make adjustments according to those changes. For examples, attend to dry skin with a good hydrating moisturizer and regular exfoliation in the winter, and switch to an oil-control moisturizer and frequent detoxification masks in the summer time.

In addition, a must-have step in preparing your skin for your makeup to last all day is to use a face primer. It acts as a sealant to help keep makeup from sinking down into dry skin, and also as a barrier to prevent contact between our natural oils and our foundation products. Primer is a win-win no matter what type of skin you have, and too simple of a step to pass up!

Once your foundation is in place, what about your blush and other color cosmetics? For the same reason I noted above, our natural oils breaks down and discolor our color cosmetics. Avoid placing powder blush directly onto bare skin or even your foundation. Always use a setting powder, whether a powder foundation or a translucent powder, on top of your foundation to further prevent any oils from reaching your blush. Your makeup will last all day and stay true to color. And as an added benefit, the powder will create a cushion for the blush for a smoother, more blendable application.


Okay, I’m going to sound like a mom right now, but truly, keep your hands off your face! You’ve done all that great prep work to get your oils in check from underneath. Don’t smear them back on from the top — our fingers are full of oils, not to mention the grime of the day! You’ll be right back to square one, and there goes your all-day makeup!

I hope these common sense solutions were helpful! Feel free to let me know in the comments if these tips help your makeup last all day, and please share any other challenges you’re having with your makeup and skin care!

Sunny regards, Jessi

P.S. If you found value in today’s article, please like this post, and share with a friend in need. Thanks