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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How to Wet Block Knitted Lace

Knitting lace can be a wonderfully satisfying challenge, but it takes a good wet blocking to see the complete transformation from a bit of crumpled up loops and stitches to the full beauty of a lace design.  Wet blocking lace can be intimidating, but it’s easier than you think! Here is a full tutorial on how to do it, step by step.

Tools:

  • Eucalan in the scent of your choice
  • Water and a sink/bowl large enough to hold your knit
  • Towels
  • Foam blocking boards, or a thick blanket
  • Pins (rust proof/stainless steel)
  • Tape Measure

Step 1:

Fill your sink or bowl with tepid water, and add one capful of Eucalan in the scent of your choice.  Gently place your knit in the water, and gently swish it around, ensuring that it is completely saturated.

Step 2:

Remove your knit from the water (no need to rinse with Eucalan!) and roll it firmly in a towel to remove excess water and moisture.

Step 3:

Lay your knit out on a large surface. You can use a bed, blocking boards, some thick blankets, anything that works for you. When pinning out your project, follow the main shape before pinning out any details. This means that you will start with the basic outline and pin all the straight edges before concentrating on more specific design features. Here is where the measuring tape can be very helpful – if you have two straight sides, you can measure to make sure they are both the same length.

When pinning out scallops or lace loops, use as many pins as you want, pinning each loop into place. it takes time, but it is worth it.

Step 4:

If your project has straight edges, blocking wires can be really helpful. You insert the wires through the loops in as straight a line as you can, and pin the blocking wires into place.

Step 5: Leave it to dry. once your knit is completely dry, unpin and remove blocking wires, if used.

Tips:

  • If you have pets or small children, pin out your lace somewhere where you can close a door to keep them out, or on something you can move to a place where they can’t touch it.
  • If you like to knit lace, it might be worth investing in T-Shaped pins and blocking wires for really crisp definition and blocking. Otherwise, stainless steel sewing pins will work just fine.
  • It takes a fair bit of time to pin out something with a lot of detail, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to do a good job.
  • If you would like to get everything you need for blocking all at once, we really like this blocking kit from Cocoknits.

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Jen’s Top 10 Backyard Fun Ideas for Summer

Summer feels so short, but there are lots of great ways to make the most of the beautiful weather without leaving your backyard. Here is my top 10 list of backyard fun ideas for summer!

1.Summer is a perfect time for s’mores, but who says you need to go camping to make them? Setting up a great backyard s’mores bar is sure to be one of the most memorable nights of the summer.

2. Make your own outdoor Jenga set for backyard games that are going be a hit with both kids and adults. So easy to make!

3. Bring the indoor furniture outside and set up a drink or food station to end all food stations. Don’t forget extra napkins!

4. Host an outdoor movie night in the back yard. Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows and popcorn- you can project a movie onto a hanging white sheet, and be sure to bring some speakers outside! Small projectors you can use with your smartphone make the project part easy.

5. DIY your own hammock bed from wooden pallets! Easier than you would think, and as dreamy as it gets for the backyard in the summer.

6. Nighttime backyard bowling with water bottles and glow sticks just might be the most fun thing for kids and grown ups alike.

7. An outdoor pizza bar makes feeding friends and family a breeze- setting out lots of toppings and flatbreads, then grilling them on the barbecue to perfection. So easy, and perfect for warm weather when it’s too hot to cook inside.

8. Flamingo ring toss has all sorts of fun retro vibes and is sure to make everyone smile. You can even rent flamingos, if you don’t want to buy any!

9.  Like the idea of camping, but without the hassle of actually camping? Set up a tent in the backyard and experience all the fun of camping without any of the yucky bits!

10.  It doesn’t get easier than this- inflatable pool, a pile of blankets and pillows, and snacks! An outdoor lounge comes together in a snap.

If you are looking for more summer inspriation, we have a Pinterest board full of the best summer ideas!

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How to Have the Easiest Picnic Ever

Summer weather often conjurs up images of picnics on weekends, but it often seems like a lot of work to plan, pack, and do. Never fear! We’ve put together some easy-peasy tips for a no-fuss, relaxing guide to your best picnic ever.

Picnic Prep

  • Plan your location. A nearby park is always great, but maybe there is a new park you would like to try, a little further away? Whatever your choice, try to check in advance to make sure there are plenty of trees for shade.
  • Keep the food simple – sandwiches, salads, fruit and other types of food that you would enjoy cold are ideal.  Or bring the fixings for a great cheese board – assorted cheese, great bread and crackers, and some fruit.
  • Try not to bring too many disposable things- melamine plates are a great lightweight choices for picnics that are reusable, and just bring your normal cutlery from home. Don’t forget napkins!
  • Bugs are no fun at a picnic- wash your picnic blanket in advance with Eucalan in the Eucalyptus  scent to help rerepel bugs naturally.

  • Check the weather report – weather can change quickly, and even though it looked clear when you checked yesterday, the forecast might be different on the day.

What to Bring

  • If you have a little wagon, it is a great way to easily transport all your picnic goodies to a great spot deep in a park, where it might be a little quieter and more relaxed.
  • While those beautiful (and expensive!) wicker picnic baskets are adorable, you don’t need them to have a great picnic. Packing your supplies in tote bags or in the wagon will work just fine.
  • Two plastic bags – one for garbage, to be disposed in the nearest bin, and the the second for keeping the dirty dishes all together until you can get them home for a wash.
  • It’s worth mentioning again – napkins! Good quality paper napkins or cotton napkins are perfect for wiping greasy hands or even giving the plates and cutlery a quick wipe before stashing in the plastic bag.

Keeping the Fun Going

Messes happen – a bit of ketchup here, some mayonnaise there. Stop potential stains in their tracks by bringing along some of the Eucalan Stain Treating Towelettes to make clean ups a breeze. Because sticky hands happen:

Don’t forget – picnics are really about enjoying being outside, not about transforming the outside into the indoors. Leave the music at a home, but bring a frisbee, ball, or other game that would be fun in a park. It’s a great way to make the most of that glorious sunshine, and the too-short summer!

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How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

If you enjoy wearing makeup, washing your makeup brushes is one of those things you are supposed to do regularly, but often feels like a hassle.  However, not washing your brushes can lead to clogged pores and breakouts, which is not great. Generally, you should wash your makeup brushes at least once a week, and we can show you the quick and easy way to do it. With Eucalan’s no rinse formula, you will save time because you won’t need the extra step of rinsing them! Let us show you the 2-minute method to freshen up and clean makeup brushes.

You will need:

A note about scent- Eucalan has only small amounts of essential oils that are used for fragrance, so you don’t need to worry about it being too harsh for your delicate skin. but if you are worried, you can always go with Natural, which is our unscented variety.

Instructions:

  1. Rinse your brushes under lukewarm water, to dislodge and soften any surface residue.
  2. Fill your sink or bowl (only about 1/3 full) with lukewarm water and one capful of Eucalan, and gently swirl your brush in the water. Try to focus mainly on the bristles, and not totally submerge to the metal (hard to avoid on small brushes, of course!)  If you need a bit more power, add a bit of Eucalan straight from the bottle to the bristles, and gently swirl across your palm.
  3. If the water gets really dirty and opaque from the makeup washing out, drain the dirty water and refill the bowl/sink again. But the more frequently you wash your brushes, the faster it is to clean them, since there won’t be as much makeup to remove.
  4. When you are satisfied, use a clean towel or cloth to wipe your brush clean, gently reshaping the bristles.
  5. To dry, lay your brushes flat on a clean surface, or stand them up in an empty glass.

Ta-da! Now your brushes are clean, and the lanolin in the Eucalan formula will prevent the bristles from drying out.  The best time to wash your brushes is either in the morning after you have finished applying your makeup, or in the evening, so they will be dry by morning.

You should pin this, so you’ll remember to clean your makeup brushes later!

 

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Family Vacation Planning? The Secret to Stress-Free Travel

Short or long, vacations require a bit of planning to help ensure that they are as enjoyable as they can be. One of the biggest hassles when traveling is trying to remember everything you need to make your trip go as smoothly as possible.  And if you are traveling with kids, the complexity just multiplied – getting from point A to point B can be a lot more challenging with little ones in tow.

Last fall, we had a great guest post on the blog about traveling with kids on a two-week vacation to Europe, and we got a great response. Building on that blog post, we’ve put together a free downloadable pdf that has all sorts of great tips and tricks for traveling with kids, as well as lots of handy checklists. The checklists also have room for you to write down your own items, because while traveling with kids has a lot of similarities, every kid is different and might need a few extra things that only you know about – like their special blanket, or an extra battery pack for the tablet that they burn out every time they play games.

You can get this amazing pdf for free right here, just by signing up for our newsletter.  And if you aren’t traveling with kids this year but know someone who is, send them the link! They will thank you for it.  After all, who wouldn’t love to have packing checklists  geared to them and their family?

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Best of Eucalan: Our Top Spring Posts

Ah, spring! A time when everything feels fresh and new, or at least you want it to feel that way! Spring is indeed a great time to freshen up your home and wardrobe, but that doesn’t mean it has to be all work. Here’s a round-up of our top spring posts to get you in the mood to freshen up your wardrobe, your home, and your routine!

Click here for great Tips for spring cleaning your wardrobe.

Click here for the best tips for spring cleaning your home to get it feeling airy and fresh.

With Earth Day upon us, here are 4 ways to celebrate Earth Day all year round.

But it’s not all cleaning – you have to make time for a bit of fun! Click the links below for crafts, recipes and fun decor ideas.

Washi tape tutorial to upcycle old Eucalan bottles

Think Spring – Time for a bit of fun!

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without our most recent spring post, all about the best way to shift your wardrobe from winter clothes to spring.

Happy Spring, everyone!

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