Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Holiday Gift Wrap Bundle Set Reviewed

Coordinated Packages Under The Tree

holiday gift wrap
Holiday Wrap For pretty gifting (image courtesy of pixabay.com)
Before you know it, the time for making sure we have enough supplies for our holiday gift wrapping will be upon us. I don't know about you but I like to have a nice variety of papers on hand but I also like for the packages to have a coordinated look to them. 

I found a nice bundle set to get for my gifts this year and I thought that I would share my discovery with you today. The set comes with three rolls of wrapping paper which have a design on both sides, gift tags and ribbon. I love that they are all color coordinated. The set that I plan to get is in reds and golds but there is an option to choose different color sets if the red and gold does not appeal to you. Our tree is predominately red and gold so this set will look really nice under our tree this year. 

Did you know that red and gold are very traditional colors for the Christmas holiday? Red is often used to represent the blood of Christ when he died on the cross but also the bishops robes were often red and later St. Nicholas and Santa Claus wore red. Gold represents one of the gifts brought to the Christ child and is also used to show the star over Bethlehem. 

Often times in the past I have purchased gift wrap and then tried to find tags and ribbon that would work well but that can be a real pain in the backside. Finding a set that is already matched will make my job so much easier this year. I know that most likely no one will even notice that everything is wrapped in a coordinated color scheme but I will know. Maybe it won't register with the family at all and that is just fine. It might be one of those subtle things that they know they liked it but can't put their finger on why. 

How about you? Do you like for all of your gifts to coordinate or do you just try to use up the paper you have on hand before purchasing new paper, ribbon, and gift tags? 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Jesus Always by Sarah Young Book Review

Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence
I seem to be able to manage stress and chaos less well as each year goes by. And I am very aware that when I meditate or pray I am able to feel more peaceful. Thing is, I'm not so good at the praying part. I have been looking for ways to slow down and find joy and peace. 

Recently, I was wandering around a Christian book store, looking for something I might like to read. This was probably the third time in my adult life that I've ever entered a Christian book store. I picked up Jesus Always and flipped through a few of the short devotionals. It was written in a way that was easy to read and it spoke to me, so I bought it. And thus far, I'm reading it daily and enjoying it. 

Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence


Susan Young is the author of the Jesus Calling series. She writes to help people connect with Jesus and the Bible. She and her husband were missionaries. They currently live in the U.S and she has written this series of devotionals.

Jesus Always consists of an entry for each day of the year. This devotional is meant to "bring joy for each day" and  "strengthen your relationship with Jesus" (from the author's website)

The hardcover version I purchased has easier-to-read print than many devotionals offered and is a well-made book. The book lays open, not quite flat, and includes an attached ribbon book mark. The book feels as though the paper and the cover will last for many years.

Why I Choose This Devotional


There are MANY Christian books for sale. Shelves full of devotionals, Bibles, testimonials, and more. So why am I recommending this particular book?

It is easy to read. Bible studies and reading the Bible alone feels too far over my head. Despite all of those years in Vacation Bible School as a child, I just "don't get it" when I read most of these types of books. I can't focus and it feels too much like work.

Susan Young has written Jesus Always as though Jesus were the writer. The daily entries are short - only a page in length. The writing is in a conversational and friendly tone which makes it very easy to read. 

Corresponding verses are listed. Each devotional is followed by several verses from the Bible that correspond with the entry. My skeptical side doesn't have to wonder how much of the writing is personal opinion - the verses repeat what was written in the entry. I like that. And there are not so many verses that it feels like homework.

My Birthday Entry. I sampled many of the devotionals on the shelves of that bookstore that day. Flipping through them, flipping specifically to my birthday, and considering each book. Some had print that was too small to read. Some had writing that was too much like a Bible study. Some used very formal language. Then, when I flipped open Jesus Always to the September 5th entry, I found this:


"Joy is a choice. You may not have much control over your circumstances, but you can still choose to be joyful."

That is exactly what I am looking for. A way to let go of my anxiety and grouchiness, and find joy. The photo below shows the remainder of the entry that spoke to me (and there are more samples on Amazon in the "look inside" feature).




Related Links and Other Books of Faith:

Our Bev Owens wrote a review of Mary's Message to the World. Bev writes, ".. if you are open to spiritual growth and want to grow in your faith; I recommend that you read this book." The book she reviews documents Annie Kirkwood's reported visits from Mother Mary.

Cynthia reviews the Bibles that make the best gifts. In her article she recommends different versions; from a family Bible, to a pocket version, to a study Bible, and more.

Olivia recommends watching The Young Messiah movie. In her review, she explains why she recommends this movie, especially during the upcoming holiday season, despite it being a work of fiction. 

Finally, in my search for peace, joy, and finding balance I am combining learning to pray with mediation from a variety of approaches. I have found meditation beads and chants (Christian and OM mantras) to be helpful. You can read my post about those things here. When I meditate, I am significantly more relaxed. And now I have added the Jesus Always daily devotions.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The App Calm - A Personal Review

I Finally Downloaded the App 'Calm' onto My Cell Phone

Since our computers spit ads and suggestions based on what we might like or want, it figured out I could use a little 'Calm' in my life.

After ignoring the App for several years, it finally got me! I downloaded it a few days ago.

The App has a free version and a paid version. I'm using the free features at the moment.

Scenes - The Feature I'm Currently Into

I use Scenes for relaxation and as a sleep aid.  However, it's the sounds of the scenes, not the visuals that I'm focused on. The scenes are beautiful and you can also watch while listening.

Scenes is essentially the same as the radios from back-in-the-day that feature a choice of background sounds such as waves, thunderstorms, forests, and more.

Simply, choose the scene and calming background sound you prefer. Put the headphones on, listen and relax. 

What We Get with 'Calm' Premium

A full library of music, meditation, and stories.
  • Guided meditations for stress, gratitude and more
  • Sleep stories are pretty cool! Put in your earphones and listen to a relaxing story to help you fall asleep. I've listened to one story included with the free portion of the App. It was hauntingly relaxing.
  • There's also music to help you focus, relax and of course, the obvious, to sleep.
  • They have Masterclasses by world-renowned mindfulness experts designed to help you take control of your thinking and guide you towards living in the now. I haven't tried this yet. However, this feature absolutely appeals to me.
Why Use Calm

With the internet and YouTube you might be asking yourself why would you need to use an App. After-all, why not just listen to videos from YouTube on your phone, or read articles you find via search. That was my original thinking as well.

The answers:
  • Convenience, no commercials
  • No need to search YouTube or the Internet for Meditation or Relaxation tools
  • Your calming tools are conveniently located in one place
  • Quick access on your phone when you need a calming break
  • Daily Calm inspirations added
  • Body Calm programs included
  • Masterclasses on Mindfulness
  • They add new music weekly
  • A full library of stories to fall asleep by, and new stories always being added
My gift to myself this Christmas, is to upgrade to premium. I do love the convenience of this App.

Here's to your peace of mind.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Top Ten Hallmark Christmas Movies Reviewed

Ready! Set! Hallmark! Today marks the beginning of Hallmark Christmas movies! This year Hallmark has 27 new Christmas movies on its' schedule: 22 for the Hallmark Channel and 15 for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel.


As an unabashed fan of the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies and a frequent fan who rewatches the movies  - this is my time of year to enjoy friendly romantic and romantic comedies offered by Hallmark. My top ten list of Hallmark Christmas movies contain a few of the actors we have come to know and love on the Hallmark: Danica McKellar, Lacey Chabert, Andrew Walker, Alicia Witt, Brennan Elliot, Candace Cameron Bure, Paul Greene and Nikki DeLoach.


My Favorite Top Ten Hallmark Christmas Movies 


  1. A Royal Christmas (2014)
  2.  A Crown For Christmas (2015)
  3. Christmas Under Wraps (2014)
  4. Christmas In Homestead (2016)
  5. Ice Sculpture Christmas (2015)
  6. A Christmas Detour (2015)
  7. Coming Home For Christmas (2017)
  8. A Very Merry Mix-Up (2013)
  9. The Mistletoe Inn (2017)
  10. Christmas At The Cartwright's (2014)


Actually it is very difficult to narrow down the selection to a top ten list and as Hallmark fans know their is a commonality amongst the plot lines of the movies. We know this! We like this! Escapism into the Hallmark world at Christmas works!


Countdown To Christmas

Hallmark begins their Countdown To Christmas the last weekend of October. Look for a schedule full of Christmas cheer new and original holiday movies mixed in their stable of Christmas movies from years' past. 


Where To Find Hallmark Christmas Movies?

Amazon offers a nice variety of Hallmark Christmas and Hallmark movies on DVD; many of which are affordably bundled to view at your convenience. If you do not have cable the Hallmark Channel is available through the streaming packages on Sling TV, Directnow and Dish plus Hallmark's own streaming channel Hallmark Movies Now.

Coming soon is the new Hallmark Drama Channel - Hallmark fans be on the lookout for a new addition to your Hallmark channel lineup.


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Friday, October 26, 2018

Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte Movie Review

Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte Movie Review
The old classic movies starring Bette Davis still stand out in my mind as the very best suspense movies ever made.  Pure acting excellence coupled with a great plot is all too often missing in current day films.  Therefore, when I want to see a really great movie, I frequently look to the classics of the past.

I was recently reminded of Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte and simply had to watch it again.  I remembered bits and pieces of the plot, but had totally forgotten the reason John Mayhew was killed and who was responsible for his death. 

Once again, I was pulled into the story of the movie and the mystery behind the murder.  I had totally forgotten the motive and the secrets surrounding the crime.  Ironically, I didn't remember the opening scene of the movie at all, and it sets the stage for the events that follow.  Actually, I wonder now if I had ever seen the opening before since it precedes the credits and the title of the movie.

This movie makes you think.  It will remind you that betrayal often bears a hefty price.  It will make you grateful that you are not wealthy.  Sadly, wealth makes you a target, especially when you are too old to defend yourself.


The Plot of Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte


 Hush.Hush, Sweet CharlotteCheck PriceThe movie and story begin in 1927 when Charlotte Hollis (Bette Davis) was young and in love with John Mayhew, (Bruce Dern) who is already married.  When Charlotte's father (Victor Buono) is informed that his only daughter is entangled with a married man, he is determined to see the relationship end.  

The movie opens with the meeting between Mr. Hollis and John Mayhew.  Mr. Hollis is furious and disgusted with idea of his beautiful daughter being involved with a married man.  He refuses to accept that this man will have both his daughter and her inheritance, the land and property he has struggled to make prosperous.  

Mr. Hollis demands to know their plans after informing John that his wife, Jewel Mayhew, told him about their affair.  When John tells him that they had planned to run off from a dance together the following night, Mr. Hollis instructs him to break off the relationship with Charlotte instead.  In reference to his home and daughter, he lashes out at John and says, "I created both and I am going to keep 'em."


The Murder of John Mayhew


At the dance the following night, John does as he was instructed and breaks off his relationship with Charlotte.  She is devastated and runs from the room after exclaiming "I could kill you!" 

Moments later, the murderer enters the room with a meat cleaver and John is killed by an unseen assailant who cuts off his hand and head.

When Charlotte enters the dance hall with blood on her white formal dress, the music stops and everyone turns to stare at her.  This introduction section of the movie ends with her father approaching her to remove her from the room.



The Tortured Spinster in Hush Hush Sweet Charotte


The movie fast-forwards to 1964.  Charlotte's father is dead and Charlotte is basically alone with only her long-trusted housekeeper, Velma (Agnes Moorehead), to care for her.   Rumors of the crazy spinster, perhaps murderer, prompts even the children in town to taunt and tease Charlotte relentlessly.  She never leaves her own property, but they come to her home to torment her.

If you enjoy a fabulous suspense movie that has a unexpected end, you will love the classic movie, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte starring Bette Davis.
This file is in the public domain on Wikimedia
Unfortunately for Charlotte, Louisiana seizes her property to build a bridge through her land to join roads.  But, Charlotte refuses to leave the house or even acknowledge the legality of them stealing her home & property.  She grabs her rifle and shoots at the demolition team with the road construction crew, which brings the sheriff out.  Even though he doesn't want the responsibility, the sheriff informs Charlotte that she has only 10 days to vacate the premises.  Charlotte is desperate.  She has already contacted her cousin to come and help her.  After all, Miriam (Olivia De Havilland), was taken into her home as a child when her own parents were killed, and subsequently cared for by Charlotte's father.  Surely she will know what to do to save the estate and help her.

When Cousin Miriam admits there is nothing she can do to save the property, Charlotte becomes enraged and reveals that Miriam was the one who told John's wife, Jewel Mayhew, about Charlotte and John's affair.  

It becomes all to clear that poor Charlotte is only hanging on by a short thread mentally.  She frequently lapses into confusion and mourns for John all over again.  It also becomes abundantly clear that someone is torturing Charlotte by sending letters and leaving macabre reminders of the murder in her home, as if she isn't tortured enough by the memory of her lover being killed.  She even begins to believe that John is visiting her again, playing the piano, and singing to her.


Dr. Drew Bayliss (Joseph Cotton), who was once Miriam's boyfriend, is Charlotte's attending physician.  He is certain she is close to needing full commitment due to her failing mind.

Charlotte clings to her love for John and highly treasures the gift he gave to her.  It is a music box that plays the tune of the his song to her. 



Another Important Character in the Plot


Mr. Willis is an insurance investigator who was previously a news reporter.  He is investigating why no one ever claimed the life insurance after the death of John Mayhew.  He wants to interview Jewel Mayhew, as well as Charlotte, in the hopes of finding the answer.

 Both of the women seem to like him.  Jewel Mayhew invites him into her home for a chat.  She gives him a letter for safekeeping along with her permission to open it at the time of her death.  She believes he will know what to do with the information in the letter.

Even Charlotte trusts Mr. Willis and talks openly with him until someone touches her beloved music box.  Then she flies into a rage and orders everyone from the house.


The End


There is no way I will  reveal the end, or even who murdered John Mayhew.  What I will say is that if you enjoy a fabulous suspense movie that has a unexpected end, you will love Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte.






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Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte Movie Review Written by:

House of Sylvestermouse







 





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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Photographing Historic Scituate Lighthouse



Scituate Lighthouse


On a trip between Boston and Cape Cod my husband and I made a small detour to see beautiful Scituate Lighthouse. This lighthouse is located on the South Shore of Boston. On this page I will review a bit about the history of this lighthouse along with sharing my photos from our visit.
 

Lighthouse History

Scituate Lighthouse is the 5th oldest lighthouse in New England and the 11th oldest in the United States.  It was activated in 1811 and is built of split granite blocks with a 1 1/2 story house attached.  While searching online for information on the lighthouse I found the interesting story listed below.  The information is from the Scituate Historical Society web page.



Captain Simeon Bates, the first keeper of Scituate Lighthouse, his wife, and nine children lived at the house. During the War of 1812 Abigail and Rebecca, young daughters of the lighthouse keeper, prevented the British from sacking the town. Noting the approach of two redcoat-filled barges from a British ship of war, the girls snatched fife and drum and hiding behind a thick cluster of cedar trees made such a din that the British mistook them for an entire regiment and made a hasty retreat. Abigail and Rebecca Bates have gone down in history as 'The American Army of Two" and their courageous act has been recorded in many textbooks and story books.    http://scituatehistoricalsociety.org/light/

I also find it fascinating that the captain and his family of 11 lived in the small house attached to the lighthouse.  Here is a photo I took of the lighthouse with the house attached.

The Lighthouse Today

Today the lighthouse is located at the  end of Lighthouse Road.  It is now an active private aid to navigation and is managed by  the Scituate Historical Society.  It is only open limited hours but we were able to walk around the grounds and I was able to capture photos from various directions.

As we left the lighthouse we pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant and I was able to photograph the lighthouse from across the bay.

Read More of Tales of New England

If you found the story of the two sisters fascinating you may  want to  read more tales from early New England or perhaps this story about a Rhode Island lighthouse keepers daughter.




Zazzle Candle from my Photo




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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dietland Book Review (2015)

Dietland Book Review (2015)Dietland by Sarai Walker is not a diet book. It is not a
non-fiction book. It is a fictional story about a woman who is waiting to lose weight before she begins living her life. She is not really living yet. She won't start until she is thin and can enjoy all that she thinks comes with being thin including beautiful and confident. She is saving for weight loss surgery. She is hoarding clothes that she buys online for her future self.

Plum Kettle winds up sidetracked by a group of women who have decided to make their own way and ignore the rules of society. In meeting these women, she learns about the costs of being beautiful. This book is easy to read but not lighthearted though it is definitely funny at times. It is an interesting read that takes a look at the weight loss industry, the beauty industry and even gender inequality.

Be forewarned that it has entire sections that are pornographic. The consensus of my book club was that the book could have covered that area of our society without actually being pornographic. Because of this content, many in my book club would not recommend this book to friends and family, which is a shame because I think that it is a good story.

Watch this video review of the book. I love it. It is very short but gives you a much better idea than I can in writing of what this book is about and of the spirit found within the pages of Dietland.

 

As cosproduction says in the video, this book is a work of fiction. Despite the title, it is not a self-help book, not a memoir and not a weight-loss guide. It is a book about “a group of kick ass women taking on society’s view of beauty.”

In 2015, this book was on Amazon's Top 100 Editors' Pick of the Year list, was one of Entertainment Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2015, was a New York Post Best Novel to Read This Summer book and an, O, The Oprah Magazine 10 Titles to Pick Up Now book. Is it RECOMMENDED by me? Yes, with the caution mentioned above. If you can get beyond that content, I recommend you give Dietland a try. Or not. Your choice but if you do read it be sure to come back and let us all know what you thought. Guaranteed, this book will give you something to think about. You can find Dietland here on Amazon in book, audiobook and Kindle formats.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Dietland on Amazon.
Read about Dietland, Season 1, on Amazon.






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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Whimsical Throw Pillow Covers Reviewed

Fun Ways To Cover Your Pillows

throw pillows
Pillows image from Pixabay.com
Today, I would like to show you a fun option to cover your throw pillows in an economical and whimsical way. If you are like me, you have several around the house that could be changed with your mood or even the season of year. 

I love the thought of covering pillows that I already have instead of having to go out and buy more pillows. Getting a few pillow cases that match the size of my pillows is an easy solution. 

I should mention that if you don't have many throw pillows, you can purchase the cover and a form to use. That just is not a problem in our home because I own more pillows than most already. 

For less than ten greenbacks you can surely find at least one pillow cover that you like. The option that I found has 43 different patterns to chose from. There are several that have a phrase about books and reading but there are also some for the different holidays during the year like Easter and Christmas and even some nice ones with an autumn theme. 

The cases or covers that I found fit 18 by 18 inch pillows and do not come with the pillow insert. They are made from a cotton linen fabric and are machine washable. The printing is on one side only and did I mention that they are really inexpensive? I did? Well, it was worth noting again. 

These are so fun that not only will I be getting one or two for myself but they will make a great gift for Christmas or a house warming party. 

What do you think? Do you like the idea of being able to have a few pillow covers to change the look of your throw pillows? 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, October 22, 2018

What Have You Done Book Review

Book Review: What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell
What happens when you are a forensics specialist and you realize that you are the prime suspect in a brutal murder of the woman you were dating? And how would your brother, a homicide detective, be able to help you? Or maybe he would be of no help to you. What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell is a psychological thriller full of twists and turns. It kept me awake at night, reading. And that says a lot about any book.

What Have You Done

Liam Dwyer is a forensics specialist in Philadelphia. The impact of his own childhood trauma follows him into adulthood - unwilling to take a bath so great is his fear of water. Unwilling isn't the correct description. He's terrified of the bathtub. For good reason. Liam is married to Vanessa and that marriage had been on shaky ground. But they've gone to therapy and are trying to repair their relationship.

Liam had been cheating on Vanessa but broke it off recently in an attempt to save the marriage. Then his girlfriend suddenly pops back into his life - as a murder victim at a brutal crime scene. Liam is the prime suspect not just because he dated the victim, but because of the evidence. His fingerprints are at the scene. And Liam has no memory of where he was or what he was doing during the murder. But he remembers the paper flowers his mother made when he was young. Why are they showing up now?

Sean is Liam's older brother. Sean has always taken care of his baby brother. And Liam turns to him now for help. Sean is a homicide detective so he has contacts within the department to help investigate Liam and the murder; before the assigned detectives figure out the connection between his baby brother and the murder victim.  Don is one of those connections.

Don is Sean's partner. He is juggling his job and looking after his ailing, aging mother. Don has mentored and looked after the Dwyer boys over the years. He's a good guy, but when Sean asks him to bypass procedures to buy Liam some time, he does. 

I chose this book from Amazon Primes' First Reads. I like getting free books. 

I do not normally gravitate toward police procedural and crime novels but I do like psychological thrillers. In this story, I liked the twists and turns. Near the beginning of the book, I thought I knew the "who did it". But the twists and turns threw me off. In the end, I wasn't fully surprised as my initial guesses were on track but even so I liked the journey of finding out the truth.

This was a quick read and interesting plot. It wasn't the most expert writing, but it kept my attention. I found myself wanting to know what would happen next and how the murder would be solved. I wanted the cover-ups exposed. And they were.

I believe What Have You Done is Matthew Farrell's debut novel. I look forward to his next book I Know Everything, due to be released in August 2019. 







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

5 Creative Household Pillowcase Hacks

Review of Multiple Ways to Use Pillowcases for Sorting, Storing, and Decorating

1. Use Pillowcases to Cover the Backs of Chairs

Last week I featured how to use a pillowcase to make a No-Sew Halloween Chair Cover

You can also use it to cover the backs of ratty or damaged armless desk chairs.

The worn faux leather desk chair in my son's room started to shed some of it's material. The pieces were making a mess on the floor. 

So not being in the mood to buy a new chair, I covered the back of it with a pillow case. The width of this particular chair was perfect. The pillowcase fit snuggly keeping all the worn pieces neatly inside. I simply tucked the excess pillowcase at the bottom of the chair into the seat.

2. Use Pillowcases to Line Baskets and Boxes

Have you ever been to the store and thought you'd love one of those lined hampers or decorative storage baskets but after seeing the price, changed your mind? 

You can make your own.

This no-sew pillowcase hack is very easy. Put the pillowcase inside the basket and pull it over the sides. For smaller baskets, just tuck the excess pillowcase up the side up and create a thicker border edge. If you want, use sticky double sided velcro strips under the pillow case border edge to keep it in place.

You could also put the excess in the bottom part of the basket.

3. Use Pillowcases to Cover Your Clothes

Instead of using plastic garment bags, cut a hole in the top of a pillowcase and pull it over your clothes on a hanger.

It's a handy way to store kids clothes. Place three or four items together under one pillowcase, tie it at the bottom. When you're ready to pass them down, they're neatly together in the closet.

Pass them down in a decorative way: Use pretty pillowcases and tie the bottoms with a satin ribbon.

4. Use Pillowcases to Organize Bed Sheets

How many times have you had to look for the sheets matching pillowcases? This hack is the best, it's my personal favorite. 

Put your sheets and other matching pillowcases that go with the set, folded inside one of the matching pillowcases! Best of all, your linen closet looks super organized. When you need your bedding, it's all together.

5. Use Pillowcases to Cover Stools and Create a Skirt

For taller stools this is especially simple. Pull the pillowcase over the stool. Take a ribbon or other decorative piece of material and tie it just under the seat part. The excess material will create a skirt. If there's room under the seat, you could also attach the material by using a heavy duty staple gun.

If the stools are small, use the smallest pillowcases you have. You may have to cut and hem them, or use a bit of creativity to pull the excess material up and then tie the tie below the seat.

These make a lovely decorating hack for parties and special events.

Have fun!



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.