How to Host a Gift Wrapping Party

Everyone is busy buying presents at this time of year, but wrapping  them can be another chore on a long list of to-dos that crop up in December. Thinking of planning a get together to see your friends before everyone starts disappearing for holiday travel and family time? Why not host a gift wrapping party, and turn a chore into a fun, festive gathering with friends?

Step 1: Set a Date

Ideally, you want to set it at least a week before, so that people have a chance to do some of their shopping in advance. It’s unlikely everyone will have ALL their shopping done, but it doesn’t hurt to get a jump on all the wrapping!

Step 2: What Guests Can Bring

Suggest everyone bring a roll of wrapping paper, one type of gift label, and one spool of ribbon. If each guest brings a little bit of the wrapping supplies, everyone can share and have a wide variety of wrapping paper and ribbons to use on their gifts. Oh, and of course they should bring anything they want to wrap! You can even make it themed – wrapping paper and labels need to have snowflakes on them, or focusing on blue and silver paper and ribbons, for example.  This will make it easier to coordinate ribbons, bows, labels, and paper all together, even if you only brought one or two things.

Step 3: Clear the Decks

If you have a large dining room table, clear it off and set out as many pairs of scissors and rolls of tape that you have. Don’t forget pens or markers for labeling! Also bring out your contributions for wrapping paper, ribbons, and gift labels.

Step 4: Snacks &  Drinks

Keep the snacks simple, people are going to need clean hands for wrapping. A festive drink like hot chocolate or a cocktail is a great idea, as well as snacks like pretzels, veggies, and cookies. Be sure to have a lot of napkins on hand!

Step 5: Organization

Put a basket or two in the center of your table, and keep all the tags in one, and all the ribbons in the other.  You might even want an extra basket for other fun gift topper ideas, like pom poms, bows, or decorations. If you have room to keep the wrapping paper together, that’s great, too!

Step 5: Cue the Music!

Put together a fun festive playlist, or use a service like Spotify or Google Music that already has lots of holiday playlists to choose from. Or you can turn on the radio and let luck be your guide!

And that’s it! A fun, festive gathering that not only helps you get your holiday wrapping accomplished, but you’ve had fun with friends, too.

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Free Knitting Pattern: Eucalan Lattice Cowl

We have something special for you this holiday season- a FREE knitting pattern for a gorgeous two-colour cowl, designed by Julie Crawford of knittedbliss.com.  This is the Eucalan Lattice Cowl, which is knitted up in two colours of worsted weight yarn and shown here in Kristin Omdahl’s Be So Brave yarn, 100% American wool (worsted weight) in colours ‘Picket Fence’ and ‘Plymouth Rock’.

The cowl can be worn loose, or you can loop it around your neck twice to really amp up the cozy factor:

Not to mention that it is a pretty quick knit, so there is still time to knit one or two before the holidays- either to give as a gift, or to keep for yourself.  The main colour (Picket Fence) requires two and a half skeins of Be So Brave Yarn, and the contrasting colour (Plymouth Rock) uses only 2 skeins. And the best part? The cowl is super easy to knit! All the stitches are knit, purl, or slipped. The stitch pattern is easy to memorize, and is both written and charted.

You can get your free pattern right here, just by signing up for our newsletter!

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How to Care for Shearling

Shearling requires a little bit of TLC to keep them looking brand new. Those wonderful Sheepskin rugs, shearling coats, and even Ugg boots are all so deliciously soft, but when you get them for the first time, it can be tough to know what to do.  But we have you covered!

Eucalan is recommended for washable sheepskins and furs. The tanning process determines whether the skin is washable or not. If you wash a skin that is not washable, the hide will become brittle and you will not be pleased with the results.

To determine if a skin is washable, check for a care label, contact the manufacturer or retailer you bought the skin from, or cut off a small piece of the skin and place it in water for a short time. Allow it to dry away from direct heat or sunlight. Once dry, if the skin is pliable and the fur/wool does not pull out and looks good, you can go ahead and wash the whole skin.

Most of the time, you can spot clean spills or specific marks that appear on your item. This technique works on shearling boots, too! To spot clean:

  1. Dab a small amount of full strength Eucalan delicate wash in the scent of your choice onto the spot.
  2. Wipe in the same direction as the sheepskin with a damp cloth, until the spot disappears.
  3. Blot any excess moisture with paper towels.
  4.  Lay out your rug or boots, or hang your coat to dry away from direct light or heat.
  5. Once the sheepskin is dry, brush gently with a soft bristled brush.
  6. If the shearling or sheepskin has a longer pile, shake it out to restore the fluffiness.

Thanks to Sprout Natural Parenting for the great photo!

Sometimes, you will need to wash the entire item due to normal dust and dirt, a really big spill, or perhaps it’s starting to look a bit grimy. Here is how to wash your sheepskin/shearling:

  • Fill washing machine (or bathtub for really large items) with water, then add Eucalan.
  • Soak for 1 hr, squeezing soap and water through item from time to time.
  • If the item is really dirty, repeat the process.
  • Spin to remove excess water and lay over a rack or rail to dry away from direct heat.
  • When nearly dry, give it a good shake.
  • May take 2-3 days to dry.

You can also wash your shearling boots the same way described above, and will no doubt contribute to them looking like new for a lot longer!

These tips will help keep all your shearling and sheepskin products looking great, but if you are concerned about a dark stain or a lot of dirt, it is worth taking the item into a professional cleaner. Many cleaners offer wet cleaning services and may also use Eucalan!

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Making Rag Rugs – Tutorials and Tips

Have you ever tried making a rag rug? They are perfect for recycling old clothes and fabrics, and are easy to make. Fall is a great time to cozy up with a new crafting project like this! Here are some of our favourite tutorials and ideas to make your own rag rug this fall:

This is a great no-sew version, and reuses old t-shirts:

If you want to try a crochet version, you can make a beautiful doily floor mat rag rug:

Here’s a colourful idea that uses up lots of bright t-shirts:

Looking for a simple woven rug? This one is probably perfect:

Want a fluffier rag rug? This is a cute version for a kid’s room:

If you have a lot of old denim, you can make some amazing rag rug crafts, like this runner:

Rag rugs can also be done in a limited colour palette, and by wrapping fabric around rope, like in this great tutorial for the rug below:

And who says these techniques can only be used for rugs? Check out this great tutorial on making storage baskets, using the same process:

Looking for more rag rug ideas? We have a Pinterest board full of them! Find it here.

Caring for Your Rag Rug

When you spend time crafting a rug, it is worth taking some extra care when washing it, even with Using Eucalan in your washing machine with a rag rug, set your washing machine to the delicate cycle  and run as usual. You may need to add an extra spin cycle if the rag rug is dripping wet when you take it out. Smaller rugs can be hung to dry, but larger rugs should be laid flat to dry, turning them over regularly to ensure even drying.

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How to Remove Common Party Stains

It’s that time of year- ramping up for party season! Fall brings more family gatherings, Thanksgiving, and the never-ending carousel of holiday parties won’t be far behind. Here we’ve put together a review of the best way to remove the most common party stains: Red wine, oils (olive, avocado, safflower, etc.), candle wax, coffee and chocolate.

Read on, and you’ll be prepared for anything at your next party!

Red Wine

Sprinkle salt liberally over the red wine mark , as much as needed to help absorb the wine. When as much is absorbed as possible, vacuum up the salt and pour club soda over it to help dilute the remaining wine. Then apply full strength Eucalan to any remaining marks, and let sit for 15 minutes. Wash item as normal.

 

Oils

Blot the oil immediately with a paper towel, and sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch onto the remaining oil mark and let sit. In the morning, apply full strength Eucalan to the remaining oil mark, and let sit for 15 minutes. Then wash item.

Candle Wax

Let the wax dry completely before trying to clean it. Apply an ice pack to make sure that the wax is completely solid before beginning to remove it. Remove as much wax as possible by scraping it with a butter knife. Get two paper bags, and place one underneath the fabric and another on top of it- you will be using a clothes iron to remove the rest of the wax. Gently iron the area with the wax on it repeatedly, moving the paper bags around so that any wax that transfers from the fabric to the paper bags isn’t being reapplied to the fabric again.

Coffee

Blot spill immediately until no more colour is coming away on a cloth or paper towel. Apply full strength Eucalan directly to the remaining coffee marks, and leave for at least half an hour before washing item as normal.

Chocolate

If possible, flush the fabric from the wrong side with warm water to help prevent the chocolate from being driven further into the fibres. When as much chocolate has been rinsed off as possible, saturate the remaining mark with full strength Eucalan, and let sit for 30 minutes. Gently scrub at the stain after 30 minutes, and repeat if necessary. Launder as usual once the mark is removed.

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How to Keep Your New Clothes Looking Great All Season

Even if you aren’t much of a shopper, there is something indescribably wonderful about purchasing new clothes for fall. The seasons are changing, all your summer clothes are looking tired, and the rich fall colours are calling your name. For many of us, the clothes we buy in fall serve us all through the winter as well- which means that they are some of our hardest working wardrobe pieces. Whether you want to protect the longevity of your favourite sweaters, or just aren’t a fan of shopping and want to minimize how much of it you need to do, we have great tips on how to care for your new fall clothes so that they keep looking great all through the season.

Clothing Care

  • Rotate your clothes. It might seem minimalist to only own one grey t-shirt or only two bras, but constant wear (and the subsequent washing) will cause fabrics to deteriorate faster. Make sure you have enough of any key pieces so that you can rotate them regularly.
  • Buy better quality clothing. Cheap tops are going to stretch out and look terrible after one wash, so why bother? It’s worth buying fewer items of higher quality that you can enjoy over and over.
  • Store between seasons. Storing clean items between seasons by using big ziploc bags to protect your sweaters and woolens from moths or pets.
  • Room to breathe. Don’t cram so many items into your closet that they are getting fold and crease marks because they are too squished together.

Laundry Tips

Take a quick look at the lint trap in your dryer – it’s plain to see that washing your clothes contributes substantially to the wear and tear of the fibers.  To reduce the damage washing does to your new clothes try:

  • Treat stains right away. Put some full-strength Eucalan or use a stain treating towelette on any spots before putting them in the laundry hamper. This will make it much easier to get the stains out of items when they are washed.
  • Using the gentle cycle as much as possible. The less aggressive the agitation in the washing, the less fibre damage. It’s that simple.
  • Only wash when items smell or look dirty. You know how long you were wearing it, and if all you did was sit still in an air conditioned office, that blouse might be fine to wear again without a wash.
  • Use a gentle but effective fabric wash. Harsh chemicals will speed up fabric deterioration. We recommend using Eucalan for all your washing needs, but we are a bit biased!
  • Turning clothes inside out to minimize signs of wear due to washing. It really does. Especially good for dark items.
  • Using mesh laundry bags for delicates. Ever try to pull something out of the washing machine and a sleeve or shoulder strap has fully pretzled around another item or two? It’s always scary when that happens, because you know that has totally caused some damage.
  • Wash in cold water. Hot and warm temperatures can cause more damage to clothes, and increase risk of shrinking. Plus, cold water is better for your electric bill!
  • Air dry your clothes away from bright light.  The dryer causes a lot of stress on fabrics, and causes many fibers to shrink. Air drying is better for your clothes, and your electric bill.

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Jen’s Top 10 Tips for Getting Organized and Back to School

Ah, September! The unmistakable feeling of a fresh start seems to be everywhere, even if you aren’t a student. I love this time of year, and thought I’d share my top 10 tips for getting organized – perfect for back-to-school, or just getting a fresh start this fall.

Homework Station Ideas, for More Than Just Homework

This is a brilliant round up of all sorts of homework station ideas, which can apply to more than just homework – think about how handy it would be set up something similar for incoming mail, paperwork you need to handle, or even just how to keep track of your family’s busy lives! Find them all here:

 

Colour-Coding Your Planner for Maximum Effectiveness

When juggling a lot of priorities (and possibly appointments and activities for multiple family members) colour-coding your planner can be a lifesaver. Here is a great way to get organized by colour-coding your planner:

Free Printable Calendars

Not into planners? No worries, there are lots of free printables out there to help you get organized, like this pretty one from Sparkles and Sunshine:

Portable Hot Lunch ideas

Whether you are a student or working in an office, everyone gets bored of cold lunches and sandwiches. Here is a great round up of easy and delicious hot lunch ideas that are sure to hit the spot:

Daily Folders

If you find that your life involves a lot of free floating paperwork, then this folder idea is going to change everything:

Organize Your Email

Email is one of those things that gets away from us so easily, and then when we need to find an important message, we end up sifting through thousands of emails. This is a great post on organizing your email with digital folders – so much better!

Increase Productivity with Priority Setting

When juggling a lot on your plate, it can be hard to set priorities in a way that helps you get more done and doesn’t feel overwhelming. This system (you’ll have to scroll down a bit, but it’s there!) is perfect for sorting out a massive to-do list:

Find a Time Management System that Works for You

There are lots of things that can crop up that can leave you feeling like you haven’t made any progress on your tasks. Here’s some great ideas for time management that you can use to help stay focused:

Staying Motivated On Multi-Step Tasks

Sometimes it can be hard to stay the course on a big project. Here are some tips on staying motivated, which you can also use to help motivate others that might need a little nudge on big projects for school or work:

Remember: Balance Prevents Burnout

It’s easy to get so focused on getting things done and prioritizing work and/or school, but it’s important to have balance.

And if you love Pinterest as much as I do, here is a Pinterest board to follow that is full of great back to school organization ideas and crafts!

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Round Up: Our Top Posts for Summer

As summer winds down, it seems like a great time to round up our best summer posts, in case you missed any of them.  From swimsuit care, keeping whites bright, to making the most of all-too-brief summer weather, you’ll find amazing summer ideas below!

Easy Swimwear Care: Chlorine and salt water can take a serious toll on the technical fibres that give swimwear its stretch. Check out our guide on keeping swimsuits in great condition for years to come.

Planning for Summer Travel and Family Vacations! We have a free travel guide with packing checklists that are perfect for your summer getaways. Find it here.

Summer and picnics are a match made in heaven. When the weather is glorious, having a picnic is one of the easiest, best ways to enjoy summer. Read our guide on how to have the easier picnic ever right here.

We tend to wear a lot more white in summer, but it’s easy for stains or yellowing to creep up. Here’s our top tips and tricks for keeping your summer whites looking bright!

Making the most of summer is important, since it feels like those beautiful weather days and nights are perfect for memory-making. Here are Jen’s top ten ideas for backyard summer fun– it’s not too late!

And when the end of summer becomes official, and the cool fall weather begins you’ll want to read this post again on transitioning your summer wardrobe into fall. Find it here.

Enjoy the rest of summer, everyone!

 

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Caring for Your Summer Whites

Wearing white feels so fresh and perfect for summer, but keeping your whites truly white is hard work, especially if you prefer to use plant-based detergents. We’ve put together a guide on keeping your summer whites looking as fresh as the day you bought them, all summer long! Read on for all sorts of tips.

General Rules:

  • Wash your whites after each and every wear. Body oils, sweat, perfume, and antiperspirants all contribute to the yellowing of fabrics. The less time your whites spend with any of that on them, the less likely they will yellow.
  • Treat any stains or marks right away- Eucalan wipes are perfect for this, and are so weightless you can carry them with you all the time.
  • Always separate your whites from other colours when washing. Even if it seems like the other fabrics are also light, it’s easy for other items to leech a little leftover dye into the water, especially if they are newer items.
  • Never use bleach. Bleach will yellow whites in just a few washes, and will also thin fabrics, shortening the life of your garment.
  • Don’t add too much detergent, or overload your wash. There needs to be enough freedom of movement between the items to ensure a full rinse of detergent from the fabrics. Using a delicate detergent like Eucalan helps protect your clothes while being effective on removing oil and dirt from fabrics.
  • Use deodorant instead of antiperspirant. Antiperspirant chemical bond with sweat and create the chemical reaction that causes yellow stains to occur in the underarms of your clothes. If you can make the switch to deodorant instead, it will help a lot.

And here are a few bonus tips that can really help go the extra mile on keeping your whites bright:

  • Don’t iron whites on too high a heat setting. Irons can scorch fabrics, leading to yellowing.
  • Check to make sure that your washing machine is clean. Wipe the inside with a damp white paper towel and check – you might be surprised at the dark lint that can build up inside the drum and contribute to dingy whites.
  • If you have hard water, add a water softener to each load. The minerals in hard water can remain on your whites and cause dinginess and yellowing.
  • If you know you are going to be eating stain-prone foods (we’re looking at you, spaghetti and tomato sauce!), wear a dark colour, not white. No point in tempting fate, right?

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A Brilliant Idea for Your Wedding

So much planning goes into crafting a perfect wedding day, but it’s easy to overlook small details of when things might go wrong- shoe prints on your dress from when an over-enthusiastic hugger stepped on it, makeup from yourself or family hugs, or food and drink from later in the reception. It isn’t just women who need to worry about this sort of thing- men’s suits are especially susceptible to makeup on the shoulders from all that hugging of friends and family, and it shows up on a black suit very easily.

This is why Eucalan wipes are about to become your secret weapon for your picture-perfect wedding. Eucalan wipes have stain-fighting and dirt-removing formulas that are gentle on fabrics, and are a concentrated version of our delicate wash.  They come in small, single use packages that make them perfect for all kinds of uses:

In the bathroom (both men’s and women’s!) at the reception. It’s common practice for there to be a basket of products that your guests may want to use while at the reception such as mouthwash, a sewing kit, nail file, hair spray, etc. Adding in some Eucalan wipes will be a thoughtful touch to help keep your guest’s dressy clothes stain-free and looking their best, even if they did spill a little something.

For your bridesmaid’s handbags. Those beautiful dresses are magnets for wine and food at the reception, or even traces of make up. Help them look their beautiful best by including some Eucalan wipes in their bags to spot clean whenever the need arises.

For YOUR dress! Be sure to tuck a few wipes in your own handbag, or wherever you are keeping your things that you might need during the wedding reception. With so many people hugging you and come up to congratulate you, it is easy for them to get make up, food or drink onto your beautiful dress, or possibly even stepping on parts of the dress. Eucalan wipes will clean up almost anything that ends up on your dress, and your attendants will be able to help spot clean any part of your dress that you can’t easily reach.

Here is a quick video that shows you exactly how to use the wipes:

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