Friday, August 29, 2014

4 Apps That Are Changing How I Live Life

*** Foul Language Alert***


It is nauseating. NAUSEATING. To know how much time I use to spend on my phone. The first day I had the app I vowed to use my phone in a normal way to get an accurate reading of just how much time I really spent on it.
Final reading for the day: 101 screen unlocks and 2hr 40 minutes of usage. Ugh. (don't judge me!) This app factors in ALL phone usage, and breaks it down into how long you have been on each app, including camera/text messaging/phone.
It is an excellent tool if you feel like you need a reminder to get off your phone. You WILL be reminded. A lot.
You are working on staying in the daily "green zone". When you start going into yellow, the adorable little monk mascot of the app becomes not as adorable, and instead turns into a nagging, raging, crazy person.

I love the challenge. It has brought back the mindfulness of using my phone for a purpose instead of a distraction. I had no idea I spent so much time on my phone since I always feel so busy doing other things. Now I get on my phone for a reason, and get off when that is accomplished. Instead of checking social media, or clicking random articles and scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.

Unf*&^ Your Habitat:

If profanity offends you DO NOT bother to read this. Me? I am occasionally a fan of "sentence enhancers" (thanks Spongebob and Patrick ) (e.g. when there are no kids around!!!) . Especially when I have to clean and I don't feel like it. Sometimes this ship runs smoothly, and everything is just as it should be. Then other times I get crazy, crazy busy, then I look around and this place needs some serious attention.

Profanity can be highly motivating, as proven by this app.
It makes me laugh. It motivates. Basically, it speaks my language.

What I have found most helpful is My To-UnF%$^ list. This is a list you fill out yourself of tasks that must be done. You choose which one you are working on, and a 20 minute timer starts. When that timer is over- a ten minute "break time" starts. I am almost always finished with the task way before the first 20 minutes is up. I loaded up my list with all of the random projects that are not part of our daily cleaning grind. I choose a few to do every day, depending on how much time I have and off I go.

If you are a runner, you have probably been using this FOREVER.  I have been using it since 2011ish. It is an important app as it tracks your route, your speed, and length of your run.
I want to say more, but really, if you run you know about this app and probably use it. If you don't yet, you need to.

This App is an absolute blessing. I love it. I've used it about a year now. It really helps you to track your daily consumption, not only of food,  but water and exercise too. I think everyone who cares for their health should have this app.
I love that it "remembers" what I eat, the database of foods is so vast, and it tracks nutrition. Not just calories. You can see when you are lacking iron, or have eaten too much sodium, etc. It is such a helpful health tool.

Which apps do you find help with your daily life? Please share!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This is My LiveJournal

I made a discovery about myself the other day. I miss Livejournal. So much in fact that I use this for stream of consciousness writing and daily journaling, just like Livejournal, only it never goes live. 

Until today. 

Here's whats been up:

My girl. My dollfaced girl. She's  9 now. 9!

We had the most amazing time at the Great Wolf Lodge with 2 of her good friends. It was maybe the most fun and freedom she has ever had. She got to run the place with her 2 friends, as long as they stayed together. 

It was fun to see how girls operate at different speeds and different comfort levels. I can see how they will be as high schoolers and even as young women. One of my daughter's friends moved very fast. Like superfast, caution to the wind, gogogogo.The other one was very cautious. Very reserved. Very slow.

My girl fits remarkably well between them. She was the glue that kept the group together. Though she really leans more on the side of free spirit, she knew she could not leave her other friend. She would slow the fast friend and encourage the slower friend to move faster. She is getting more and more aware of the needs of others, and their strengths. She has so many innate leadership qualities, and if I just step back a bit they shine through. I am super pleased with that. 

There was also a road trip to western Washington on the day of her birthday. It was cool, except for the unrelenting giggling from the backseat. Fun to see friends at our destination though!

So the very next day after my daughter's birthday is my husband's birthday. 

I took him out to dinner. Then he totaled our car on a foggy mountain road...

He is fine, but we are in the market for a new car now...

Luckily we were well insured so we will see a bit of a return for the car, and are able to put some money down on a new one. 

School starts next week, but we got a letter from the school district basically saying that our school failed to meet the NCLB testing requirements. We get to choose whether we want her to stay in her current school and get tutors if necessary or go to another school. Since she has always tested very well, and has thankfully always excelled academically we are choosing the other school I think.

Lots more has happened as well but it is really just summer stuff. Swimming, playing, events, walking, hiking, exploring, friends,  etc.

I am in such denial that Summer is ending. I haven't even done the school supply shopping...


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Berry Picking in the Sunshine.

This was a good day.

It didn't start out that way. 

It started out as many of the most frustrating days do. I had a giant list of things that "needed" to be done, and an overtired toddler who refused any sort of nap time.

I always feel so robbed at this point. Anger rises in me as I realize I will not have the productive day that I had planned, and instead I will spend the day dealing with meltdowns. Mine, or my toddlers. Could go either way.

There is a point on these days where I will still try to get everything done out of habit. Doomed from the start, but somehow I just think " today we will make it work". 

I just can't stop myself, and it ends up pretty catastrophically, at least for me. 

This day, I realized early on, the plans in my head were just not going to happen. My little guy was so grumpy.

 So we went for a drive. That calms us all down sometimes.

We ended up at a Blueberry Farm I had not known about before.

Two of my dudes favorite things. Being outside, and blueberries.

I pulled in.

Instead of fighting it, we changed plans. We chose to make the day a sweet, happy memory instead of a struggle.

 We mostly ran around exploring the acres and acres of blueberry bush aisles, stopping to pick a bit. Seeking shade. Taking photos. A little boy may have been, um,  "sampling" some blueberries out of his bucket.

We only picked about a pint. They had to live in my daughter's bucket to stay safe.

At the checkout the guy just slid the pint back across the counter and said "You can just have it, I think the birds and deer eat more than that in an hour". Yes, free blueberries & a fantastic day in the sunshine. 

Thankful that every day is a fresh new start, and that being open to a change of plans often leads to a better situation.

I also noticed my sweet little girl stepping in where she could help. Without being asked. She is getting so much more aware of the needs of others and I am so thankful I get to be her mom.

Though our blueberries were free this day, I would highly recommend finding a place to pick your own berries. They were only $1.75 per pound + kids LOVE this sort of activity. Win/ win.

Freeze what you won't use within 3 days to prevent waste. Frozen blueberries in greek yogurt is just like dessert!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quotes and Motivation

The most effective way to do it,  is to do it- Amelia Earhart

One of my favorite quotes, and one I often use. In my internal dialogue, and as a reminder to my kids.
Sometimes life is that simple.
Don't try to complicate things too much. Don't over-think things.
This just causes anxiety and stress.
Take action.
 Get it done.
Whatever "it" is for you in that moment.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

15/48 Walks - Reconnect

Earlier this week, I went on one of my favorite walks yet.

A walk with a great friend I had not seen in 10 years. One who moved very near to me a few months back, that is now leaving again.

She had not even gotten the chance to meet my kids yet.

We were always active with each other on the Facebook, little messages here and there.

I am regretting the time I spent in the periphery of my friends life. She struggled silently, for months, and I had no idea. Now she is leaving the area again. Probably for good.

I am beyond grateful that even amidst the stress of packing, and parenting, and relationship struggles she made the time to meet up so we could at least catch up before we said goodbye.

We had tossed the idea of going to see a movie. Maybe The Fault in Our Stars or Maleficent.
That meant I would need childcare because my 2 year old will not even sit through a kid's movie. Let alone a dialogue heavy grown up movie, or a possibly scaryish one. I really wanted my son to meet my friend and her kids though...

Then I thought- Movies are super expensive. She is moving. She doesn't have a job lined up yet,  she will be paying for 5 tickets + we won't be able to chat and catch up in a movie.

So I asked if she wanted to go on a hike instead, since it is way cheaper and will give us more time to chat.
Thankfully, she accepted.

We had such an awesome time. Our kids immediately hit it off.

I am totally kicking myself for not doing this sooner. We both just thought we would have more time.

In total there were 9 of us (including my husband and her daughter's boyfriend) wandering through the woods together. When we arrived at the Sound the kids dispersed with a little encouragement and we were able to sit quietly and talked until the sunset. A total luxury when there are small children afoot.

It was an intense talk that yanked on my heart strings. It also reinforced the respect I have for this friend's inner strength, compassion, and selflessness. She is a golden soul and I am so grateful to have these new memories to put in our lifelong memory bank.

On to the photos;

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Freedom and Wishes

It's the day after Independence Day for us in the USA.

Growing up this was always such a fun holiday,wasn't it? 

It still is so much fun. 

As a child, when the 4th of July arrived, I felt like it was a pre-party to my birthday, as my day is only 4 days later. Right around the 5th, I would get really excited for my day.

I'm not as giddy about it as I once was, but I am still so thankful to have taken my trip around the sun again.

Back to our celebration this year. I took the kids to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. Turns out noone goes to the movies on 4th of July, which is great since my youngest doesn't tolerate sitting still for very long.

The movie was good, at least the parts I saw whilst my son ran laps up and down the ramp at the entrance to the theatre, so as not to disturb the moviegoers.

My daughter liked it.

We went out to dinner, and afterward  got together with some neighbors and had a block party. Lots of fireworks and fun. 

This year I tried something different, and released sky lanterns. 

They will definitely become a tradition in this house. They are beautiful and everyone enjoyed them.

They created a perfect moment to reflect on our freedoms, make wishes for the future, release, and watch them float away. Bright and steady against the alternating dark, and perilously explosive night sky.

It was a great way to slow the kids down after they ran amok all night.

We are all bleary eyed today, but we are hoping to enjoy a hike together this weekend.

Hope yours is fantastic!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Post All the Walks!!!

 I am still walking, and posting the photos of my walks on the Instagram!

Instead of taking far too long to individually post every walk that I am behind in posting here (and possibly getting discouraged/distracted and leaving to doubletap on Instagram for my whole break)- Here are my walks up to this point :

Fort Columbia- Spontaneous Detour Walk

Fort Stevens walk 10/48walks

Beach Walk! Seaside, OR     11/48walks  

Downtown Seaside walk (and food!)12/48walks

 Mother's day hike 13/48walks

And finally- My anniversary sunset walk ended here. 14/48walks

Are we friends on instagram yet? If not, we should be! Find me @_lourab_ 

Monday, April 21, 2014

7 /#48walks

A bit out of order, but this was 7/#48 walks.

I feel like getting my kids outside and exploring is a gift, and hopefully a way of life for them in their future.

We live in such a gorgeous place. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Quotes and Motivation

Worth it.

8/ #48walks : Catching You Up

This run/walk was taken just round my neighborhood. It was the strangest of circumstances: I had no kids with me. Just my dog and I.

I was having a rough day, and I am trying to get better about creating boundaries. 

My husband took the kids out to frozen yogurt and park time, so I could "Run silent, run deep". 

Which of course ended with me walking around taking photos to cool down.

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen these photos already. If you aren't- lets be friends! @_lourab_ 

I have taken a few walks since this one, and will get them up here this week, to get all caught up.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When You Fall Off- Getting Back On

You guys,
The last ten days have been one lazy money decision after another.
We had family in from out of state and how easy is it to say "who wants some coffee!?" while we are out in the cold wind and rain. x4 x $15- $20 each time. Yuck.
Then how much easier is it to pick up some fancy food on the way home so no one ( a.k.a. I) don't have to cook or clean up afterwards.
In my defense- the whole family was ill until the day before our visitors came. I didn't have a whole lot of prep time, and what little I had was spent preparing our home.
It was humbling to see how quickly our new habits toppled.
And doesn't it seem like once you make one mistake, the others just keep getting easier and easier?
This week, we are back to normal, and so are our money decisions. Can't help feeling a kind of budget hangover.
It is important to move on and forgive yourself. There is naught to be done.
I think it is also important to share the failures as well as the triumphs in this process.
It happened. Let's move on.
For the record we did have a lovely visit, and I think it is very important to indulge your guests when they are in town.
I just wish it had been more intentional and less impulsive.
There's always next time though!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Don't Grow Up. It's a Trap!


This is a little bit different than what I usually post. It almost feels like what I would write in my Livejournal way back when. It may even be deleted at some point, as it is quite personal. It is about a realization that I had, that adult lifestyle changes and expenses can block our joy and connection.

 I felt compelled to write this up, after this conversation. I hope someone else can relate.

"Remember when we were teenagers?
When we would just hang out?
Remember when we would scrape together just enough cash to get some really cheap food to share by the lake?Or the campground by the river?"

During a recent conversation with an old friend it struck me that I just do not do any of these things with my current friends. Don't get me wrong. I love my current friends.

There has to be a point to a get together now. A birthday, a shopping trip for an occasion, a baby shower.

On most occasions there is wine now. I wish I liked wine. I like stouts and porters. And rum. 

And the food. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Whoever thought, when we were scarfing down oatmeal creme pies as teenagers that we would ever judge and be judged by how organic, locally sourced, free range, fair trade, gluten & gmo free the appetizers were.

It has become all too elaborate.

 When we make plans to get together with friends, it is to do something. Structured. Something entertaining. Something that will distract us from each other. Something that usually involves a gaggle of kids and all the patience we can manage so that we can attempt an adult conversation whilst being interrupted at least once per sentence.

Even at the playground it often feels like we are lifeguards at a very busy pool. Trying to keep everyone alive. Eyes catching every flail of a little limb, every sputter, every argument,  every possible slip and fall.

It is exhausting, and it is the reality of being the parent of active toddlers.

Relationships fade away, while new ones grow. Often the more accepting people in our lives, the ones who understand the struggles of this position in our life cycle, they are the only ones we call when we are in need.

 Many times it is too exhausting  to pretend you aren't exhausted in another person's company, so you pass it up altogether.

The last time I just hung out with a friend was when my daughter was a toddler. Our husbands were away at war, and we needed each other. We didn't want to be alone,  so we were alone together.

This person became so, so close to my family. Our children were inseparable. We were inseparable.

We were both on a enlistee's military budget, and I was going to school too. Money was tight.

So we would just hang out. I would go over there. She would bring her kiddos over here. We would do nothing. Just talking usually. Not the idle chatter at a moms meetup (I am so not good at those). Real talking.

The talking you do when you were a teenager. Only we were way older, and less melodramatic. It was brilliant.

I still miss my friend. Our circumstances changed, and we changed with them. Our husbands returned from war, and when that happens you try  to resume life from the place you were when they left. Only you can't actually do that because the time has passed very differently for each person. Sometimes it feels like a parallel universe situation.

Our focus returned to our husbands. My attention was also spent trying to find a job after I finished school so my husband could leave the military and go to school himself.

Once I started working full time, of course I could not come over and hang out at 2. I was working.
My friend and I grew apart. Angry words were said. We both felt abandoned I think.
We have not spoken in five years.
I have not felt a connection that strong since.
I can't explain why.

During the recent discussion I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my old friend said she felt so trapped by her budget, saying she could never have fun anymore because it cost too much. She is paying down student loans.  She is struggling. 

We had nothing as teenagers. Only nature, and spare change, and each other.

I wish I was there with her (she is in CA). We would go to the lake at dusk, invite whoever out, start a bonfire, and hang out

This was my recommendation to her. I hope she gets to it.

As soon as the weather is not freezing and rainy, I will be doing the same. Now I will do it with more kids, and maybe some (organic, non-GMO, gluten free...) s'mores ingredients.

I don't care how old or 'sophisticated' I get. Hanging out at bonfires will always be fun, and usually free.

So where are you at in your life cycle? Still hanging out? Living the toddler mom life?

More importantly, how do you feel about bonfires?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

6/ #48Walks : Yay, Sun!

For the 6th of my 48 Walks we were blessed with a gorgeous sunny day. We drove down south to the Millersylvania State Park. I love this park because it is so close by and child friendly. 
You will need a Discover Pass to visit this park.

I also love that there are many different options on what to do once you get to the park. There are trails, camping, swimming, fishing, and during the warmer months there are boat/kayak/paddle boat rentals.
This walk was actually taken the last day of February.

I still don't have a word, or a phrase for what I am figuratively walking towards. Maybe it should be clarity? 
I'm not really worried about it. It will come in good time.
Right now I am just so enjoying the last of our Winter woods, and anticipating Springtime. 

Now on to the magic.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

February Progress


By the time we get to the end of February we are just kind of battle weary. The glow of the new year has dimmed. We are tired of Winter's short, dark days. Even as the days are getting longer and stronger, they are just not enough at February's end. Are they?

At the end of February I am careful to remember that things can change so gradually that you will not notice it if you are not mindful. If you are drudging through your routine, head down and cursing your wet feet, you will just miss the change.

I look for the light, and the new growth, and the sunsets that are a minute or two later than the night before.

Then in comes March, with its joyful parade of light, and flowers, and greenery, and warmer days. St. Patricks day, and Guiness and corned beef and cabbage.

I love March. It has always been one of my favorite months.

Anyway, on to the financial update:
February was a great financial month! We were able to so away another $1900. Still working about 12 hrs a week at hospital, and only eating at home the majority of the time.

While this is pretty great, and far above what I assumed would be possible last December, we became unfocused this last week and spent a bit more on food than I wanted to.

I will do my best to make March even more organized. This helps any budgeting endeavor.

Just a quick blip today to mark progress. Hope your weekend is nice and relaxing!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Banana Pancakes

Happy Friday!

It is suppose to be 57° and sunny here today! That's practically a Summer day!
To make it even better, my husband has the day off. We will be heading out to one of our favorite Springtime hiking spots as soon as my eldest gets out of school this afternoon. 
I rose especially early this morning, for no particular reason at all. It is a strange phenomenon that I have so much more energy if I rise before the sun, even with inadequate sleep.
So I found myself with a quiet house, unable to go back to sleep. I did some yoga, and wrote a bit. Then I made these banana pancakes from scratch before I woke my girl for school.

Banana Pancakes:
1 1/2 Cup All purpose flour
3 1/2 Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp salt
1Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tsp cinammon
1 1/4 Cup whole organic milk
3 Tbsp egg whites or 1 egg
3 Tbsp melted butter
1-2 over ripe bananas

Pre-heat griddle or pan. Mix all dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and add in milk, egg, bananas, and butter. Mix until just blended. Lumps are ok.

Lightly spray griddle with oil, spoon batter onto hot griddle. Cook until done in the center, flipping halfway through. (I just wait until the bubbles are almost done on one side then flip).

And,  I don't make banana pancakes without singing this song at least once.

Have a happy, relaxing weekend!!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Frugal Living and Giving: 15 Ways to Help Even on a Budget.

All of us have times when we must lean on our family and friends. We also have times when we must be the friend someone leans on.
This should not change just because you are on a budget.
If, at the end of your goal, you find yourself with plenty of money and estranged friends, what was the point?
There are so many ways to help out that involve little or no money.
Sometimes just showing up for people makes the biggest impact. Even if you are empty handed.

Here are some ideas to help some friends in need for no money:

1.Do their laundry for them. No less than 3 loads. Washed, dried, folded and put away.

2.Babysitting. 2 hours. No big deal.

3.Clean out their car. Complete with vacuuming, and wipe down. (this was done for me as a birthday
present from a friend who was just laid off. It was one of my all time favorite presents).

4.Volunteer to make phone calls for them. Could be calling the doctor, insurance company, or even distant relatives that need to know some good, or bad news.

5. Shovel a walk/mow a lawn

6.Walk a their dog for them. Complete with a play session.

7.Take their kids for a sleepover with your kids. It is so nice to have a free night, especially so when you are dealing with stress.

8.Clean their kitchen for them. (As a new mom this was one thing I wish I had more of)

9. Go for a walk together, even if one of you is wheelchair bound (or especially so).

10. Volunteer to drive them to appointments. I work in the medical field, and this is a huge issue for many. So much that they may actually miss important appointments that can help them heal.

And for very little money:

1. A reach out meal- Bring a meal, paper plates/ plastic cutlery, and about 1 1/2 hours of good company.

2. Freezer meals- just do a search on the interwebs. You'll find about a million inexpensive freezer meals to make. Make 2-3 and a card appropriate for the occasion.

3. A gift card for a meal. +Bonus points for places that deliver.

4. A gas card (helpful for people traveling to and from hospitals and doc appts)

5. A good book. It may not seem like the time, but sometimes you need an escape. This one is more for hospital stays, and long treatment sessions. Not so much for new moms.

If you see a need, do what you can to help. It doesn't have to be expensive!

If you have any ideas to add, please do so in comments!

Monday, February 24, 2014

5/#48Walks : The Walk That Went Awry

My little guy is really, really into stories right now. He LOVES when people tell him stories. He likes to read, and we do every night, but what he is really into right now is the off-the-cuff stories that people tell upon request.
After hearing "you tell me a story?" About 30 times in one day, naturally you start just telling the stories about the day.
Our story of this walk was "Once upon a time, there was a cute little boy who set off on a mission to make it to the end of a loooooong walk to see if he could see some seals in the water. But, this little boy threw one of his shoes into the ocean and his Momma had to carry him all the way back to the start. The end."
This was our first real hike in about 10 days. After being shut up indoors due to unsafe windy conditions and that work thing I was elated to hear that sun was in the forecast. I finished my chores at a frenetic pace so we could just enjoy the afternoon out at one of our favorite spots.
I didn't bother checking tide tables. I just chased the sun.
We walked the mile to the boardwalk and arrived to find that it was lowtide, so we only got to see the strange wasteland that is usually hidden underwater. It is strange, but still beautiful, in a chaotic way.
Then, while I was distracted (by photo ops?), my son apparently threw his shoe off the boardwalk. I looked back to find one white little sock poking out from his pantleg. Then looked over the edge to see a tiny, lonely shoe.  Lost forever.
At this time I just started laughing like a crazy person. Just wondering what this little person could have been thinking. Age 2 is my favorite.
Maybe it got stuck under the railing and fell in?
Maybe, but the story I got was that he threw it.
He was pretty upset to learn we could not retrieve it.
I just picked him up and we walked together all the way back to the car.
And the whole time he was either telling or requesting the story of the little boy who threw his shoe into the ocean. The end.
Now, onto the pictures

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dust Allergy Life Hack: Keep Clean Linens Allergy-Free

Soooo, raise your hands if you have a dust mite allergy.

I do!

I am able to forgo daily allergy meds by limiting my exposure.

I do this mostly by cleaning, using allergy covers on all of my bedding, and washing all of that in HOT water every week.

I then have to replace my allergy covers every year, which I try to remember to do in January.

I bought allergy covers for my pillows for 2/$16.00 online last month, and that was a huge mistake. They were not breathable whatsoever, so air was trapped inside. It was like sleeping on an unopened bag of potato chips or something. It was super uncomfortable. 
The only work-around I tried was unzipping them a tiny bit to help the air escape but that basically renders them useless since then the allergens also have an escape route. Another fun side effect of my work-around was the whoopie cushion noise that was produced as you rolled your head around on it. You go ahead and say "It wasn't me! It was my pillow!" to whomever you share your bed with and see how that goes down.

 I ended up buying cheaper ones for $4.00 each. They feel like a dream compared to the more expensive ones.

Since I had already opened and washed the ones I bought online, I didn't feel comfortable returning them and getting my $16.00 back. I immediately thought of my second allergy dilemma- linen storage.

Our house has no linen closet. None, whatsoever.

Currently our linens live in a shelf tower inside my closet. This skeeves me out. 

I just know those little dust mite jerks are finding their way to them. In fact I put the sheets and pillowcases away in the tower, and will re-wash them before I put them on my bed. If I don't then I can't sleep very good because I am worried my eyeballs will be red and swollen and I will look like a troll in the morning. 

I realize this is neurotic, and probably wasteful.

So I made these clever linen storage bags out of my allergy covers.

 With a stencil and a laundry pen that I already had on hand. 

Pretty allergy protection for my bedding, and no wasting of money. 2 problems- SOLVED. Good job, me!

+++ Bonus points;  my water and electricity bill will be less, and my linens will not wear out as quickly.

Waste not, Want not!

I used:
Dust allergy pillowcase cover
Duck Tape (from a different project)
This pretty stencil (from a different project)
Rub-A-Dub Laundry marking pen. (Already had it)

I taped my stencil down. I did not iron my pillowcase beforehand. 

Then I just traced inside the stencil, took it off and added some freehand shading to the bird.

So pretty, so simple. The whole project took less than 20 minutes from start to finish.

Here it is all zipped up and folded. Ready to go on the shelf, and keep the dust out!

This would also be a lovely way to keep your guest linens clean and fresh. One pillowcase can easily hold a couple of blankets or a duvet as well.

Have other ways you might use this idea? Let me know in comments?