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Snowflake Nails

January 7, 2014 12:55 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I spotted this on Pinterest one day and decided to give it a shot. I was a little nervous since I've never tried nail art like this and Pinterest always makes things look easier than they really are. A while ago I bought a dress from Romwe.com and they sent me a set of nail art brushes so I had everything I needed. I practiced a bunch on a piece of paper before I started, especially with my left hand, and I'm pretty proud of the results! The holidays are already over, but winter is in full swing on the east coast. I hope everyone is staying warm in the "polar vortex!"

My snowflakes are a little chubby, but not too shabby, right?

(Inspired by Pinterest. I wish I could credit the original link, but the pin is a dead end...)

Filed under: DIY, fun, Beauty Tagged with: snowflake, nail art, holidays, winter, manicure, beauty, fun, diy
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Fun Fact: Why is Thanksgiving on Thursday?

November 28, 2013 12:06 pm · Posted by Lauren G

It's the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I'm so cool that I'm watching "The Real Story of Thanksgiving" on the History Channel. Don't hate...it's actually really interesting. It actually wasn't until 1941 that Thanksgiving was fixed to the fourth Thursday of November. Before that, the President had to declare the holiday every year since 1863. In the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared the last day of November to be a day of thanks for the good that could be found despite the terrors of war and strife. But why a Thursday?

Most historians trace the first nationwide day of Thanksgiving as Thursday, December 18, 1777 set by the Continental Congress and by George Washington. But again, why Thursday?

Back in the 1600's, Thanksgiving was actually a religious holiday. Thursday was the day the local minister would give his sermon, so it was only natural that Thursday would be the day to give thanks.

(Inspired by Wikipedia and Blue Star Equiculture)

Filed under: Facts, fun Tagged with: november, thanksgiving, History
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Fun Fact: Trick or Treat

November 9, 2013 9:52 am · Posted by Lauren G

This was supposed to go up on Halloween :(

Halloween is basically all about dressing up and begging strangers for candy, right? Well there's a little more history to it, but for a thousand years, Halloween has been all about eating sugar to ease our fears. Dating all the way back to the ancient pagan Celtic festival called Samhain, which ended with an opening to the spirit world, October 31st has always been a combination of sweets and the supernatural. These ancient Celts would use honey, and later sugar, to preserve their perishable food and prepare the bounty of the summer for the winter ahead. They would also mask or blacken their faces to keep evil spirits at bay. this practice was later seen in Scotland in 1895 when people carrying lanterns of hollowed-out turnips went door-to-door "guising," or begging for cakes and fruits. Learn more about turnip carving here.

 

It wasn't until 1934 that guising became known as trick-of-treating. By 1948, Jack Benny was doing jokes about it on his popular radio show, and by 1951, Charles Schultz was drawing the Peanuts gang wandering door-to-door wearing ghost sheets and witches' hats. Halloween was a thing people knew about, but before the 1950s, trick-or-treating simply wasn't a part of most people's Halloween celebrations. When these ghouls and ghosts did start showing up on people's doorsteps, only sweets would keep you from getting egged, TP-ed, or worse.

This finally clued the candy companies into the notion that they might have a million dollar baby on their hands. "There was a rise of advertisements that talked about Halloween, and candy companies started marketing candy directly to moms. The message was: 'If you buy the right candy, you won't get tricked!'"

 

In 1964, Helen Pfeil, a Greenlawn, N.Y. housewife decided to hand out arsenic-laced candy buttons in an attempt to teach local teenagers that they were too old for trick-or-treating. Then on November 2, 1970, 5-year-old Kevin Toston from Detroit died after eating what initial reports identified as heroin-laced Halloween candy. It turned out that the heroin never came from the candy, but by that point, no one was paying attention. Concerned with safety, parents started telling their kids not to take any sweets that weren't factory-wrapped. The candy industry reacted with fun-sized candy bars that were individually wrapped so parents could be certain had not been tampered with. Today, Halloween candy is big business. In 2011, $2.3 billion worth of Halloween candy according to the National Confectioner's Association.

So get out there and stock up on some good candy to make sure you don't get attacked by Halloween hooligans. Or, you can be like me, turn off all the lights, buy candy on sale tomorrow, and eat it all yourself. Happy Halloween!

Filed under: fun Tagged with: trick or treat, halloween, holidays, candy
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Organize Your Life

October 24, 2013 12:46 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I definitely need something like this, especially since I just turned 26. I know, it's not that old, but now that I'm officially closer to 30 than 20, I feel like I need to get a few things in order. Enjoy this great article from Refinery29.

Organize: Your Money

The Expert: Alexa Von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest, author of Financially Fearless(available December 31).

NIX THE UNNECESSARY

You work hard for your money, and frankly, you deserve to treat yourself to weekly drinks with the girls, an annual vacation, and all those SoulCycle classes. But, it's starting to add up. Von Tobel says the solution can be found right at home. "You may think your budget is as lean as possible, but there are always tips and tricks that can help you free up some extra cash," the financial-planning pro says. Re-evaluate how your money is spent in your home, and explore the alternative — and perhaps cheaper — options. "For example, the average U.S. household spends $2,000 per year on electricity, but studies estimate that 10% of your electric bill pays for power you aren’t even using. There are ways to avoid this, like making sure you don’t have any 'vampire electronics' plugged in, wasting energy (cell-phone chargers fall into this category, for example)." Von Tobel's advice is to find the best deals on those boring (or, rather, necessary-but-boring) items such as utilities or cable, so as to pocket more of your hard-earned cash for things you truly enjoy.

GET A GAME PLAN

Finding a two-bedroom for a reasonable price may give you a thrill now, but you have dreams of signing a deed in the next five years. So, instead of setting yourself up for a purchase you can't quite afford, Von Tobel stresses that we must make a plan. Consider your down payment — that's 20% of your new, dream house's price — and make adjustments, as necessary, to begin saving up the cash. This preparation is the most important step, our expert says. "If you buy a home that you can barely afford and then something happens to your income, you will be stuck in quite a stressful situation." 

The good news: If you set a five-year plan, you still have some time to improve your financial status before you sign on the dotted line. And, don't forget your credit score (i.e., check it now!) to ensure it's in a solid place for when you're ready to apply for a mortgage. Bonus: Save an extra few bucks with Von Tobel's suggestion for a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

MAKE IT PERSONAL

It's a proud day when you realize that you not only have enough money to live comfortably, but you're even pocketing a little extra. "I firmly believe that investing your money is one of the smartest ways to grow it over the long term," Von Tobel tells us. "It’s all about putting your money to work for you." Per our expert, first and foremost, you should make sure your finances are thriving (this means that you're debt-free, you're regularly saving for retirement, and you have backup funds in case your investment flops), then move on to making a selection. "Ultimately, investing is personal," she says. Do your research on the companies you believe in, and be willing to commit at least five years, as the market tends to be "unpredictable."

SPLURGING IS A GOOD THING

Go ahead. Read that again. Spending a little more than usual is a good thing, and it's even better when done properly. Thankfully, Von Tobel has filled us in, just in time for the season's bonus checks and a little extra pocket change. "Before doing anything with that sweet holiday bonus, put the bulk of it out of sight (and straight into your savings account) until you decide what you want to do with it," she wisely tells us. "Though this isn’t the most exciting way to spend the extra cash, you’ll want to use 90% of that bonus toward your financial future. Start by putting it toward any outstanding debt. Then, look to your emergency savings and retirement accounts." 

Once that's covered, the remaining 10% is dedicated entirely to the purchases that make you happy, she says. That pair of Acne boots, a color and cut at a fancy salon, or hitting the slopes for a weekend getaway may never feel sweeter.

CREATE A FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK

While all of our bank accounts may look different, Von Tobel claims there's one common goal we can set for 2014. "Get organized!" she says. "Creating a financial framework is definitely feasible to accomplish and implement." Begin with establishing a separate e-mail account, she advises, to keep track of your statements, set calendar reminders for your monthly bills and other financial responsibilities, and — her personal recommendation — use tools like theLearnVest Money Center that help you consolidate and manage financial responsibilities and goals in one place. 

Organize: Your Home

The Expert: Michelle Adams, editor-in-chief of Domino.

IT'S OKAY TO TAKE SIDES

As much as we love the contents of our closets, we don't exactly plan to spend hours in there looking for a piece to wear, nor do we have much time to create a Dewey Decimal System of every item we own. So, Adams, Domino's EIC and in-house pro, made it simple with a few tricks that will take you about an hour now — and save you tons of time later. 

First, pair like with like, she says. Hang shirts with shirts, pants with pants, etc., and then arrange by color. This will help with the whole grabbing-an-item-in-a-pinch dilemma (much like the one we face each morning). In addition, "dresses and pants should be hung at either end of your closet, shirts and skirts should be placed in middle," she says. "This will give you room to store shoes below, where you can clearly see them." Amen to that.

MAINTAIN TRAFFIC CONTROL

The entryway of your home is not only the first impression for guests who walk though your door, but it's also the area that you see first. And last. Ideally, this small area of transit should reflect comfort, convenience, and your personal style right off the bat. Adams has a few simple, yet largely effective, ways to get the job done. These are her must-have items: 
—  A console, to ground this highly trafficked, yet often un-designed area
— A mirror, for one last look at yourself before heading out the door
—  A lamp, to add warmth and to greet you upon your return
— A dish, so that you’ll always know where you put your keys
— An umbrella stand, to stash your wet things on rainy days

DOUBLE-DUTY IS KEY

When you're working on a budget, it's just as important to know where to save as it is to know where to splurge. And, when it comes to the latter, Adams says it's the double-duty items that are totally worth the $$$. Pieces like decorative hampers are beautiful and functional, to boot. While you can toss your socks in there as you so choose, they also "can double as design accessories or side tables after you’ve run out of closet space," she says.

Whether you're splitting a cavernous one-bedroom with your S.O. or a studio with five, found-on-Craigslist roomies, it's important to feel like you can find a bit of personal peace within your living space. And, as Adam says, you've got to carve it out yourself. Find a pocket that can be yours, be it an entire room that's barely used or a corner space that miraculously hasn't been taken over by your roommate's band equipment. "Fill it with the things you love," she says, "such as art, music, or plants." Establish your own little sanctuary, and perhaps encourage your roommates to do the same. It could make all the difference for your state of mind.

UPGRADE YOUR JUNK DRAWER

To junk drawer, or not to junk drawer: That is the question. And, more often than not, our answer is a resounding yes — one that sounds an awful lot like a drawer full of clutter slamming closed. But, there's a way to upgrade your nook of miscellany so that it doesn't feel or look like a pile of trash. "A silverware divider quickly supplies order to a junk drawer," says Adams. "It designates space for pencils, scissors, tools, and trinkets." It's also an all-too-easy way to find those barely used pliers or that yellow highlighter on the day that you finally need them.

Organize: Your Well-Being

The Expert: Gretchen Rubin, blogger and author of The Happiness Project.

MAKE YOUR BED — REALLY!

Hey, not every day is going to be an impress-the-boss, pay-off-your-credit-card, and throw-a-dinner-party-without-even-breaking-a-sweat kind of day. But, we firmly believe that starting out on the right note can have a lasting effect on the rest of the day. And, Rubin says it's as simple as making your bed. Yes, the thing you just rolled out of. Perhaps begrudgingly. 

"That habit of bed making is correlated with greater well-being and higher productivity," says Rubin. "But, beyond any study, people have told me anecdotally that it gives their life order, they start their day right, and they feel more in control." Think of it as a morning exercise that organizes just a small part of your day and prepares you for the rest. "You might not be able to meditate for 20 minutes," says our expert, "but you can make your bed.”

…AND, THEN SLEEP IN IT

Maybe we should have switched these last two tips, as your bed isn't only supposed to be made to look nice. Rubin, who is currently working on a book about habits, says we need to set and abide by a bedtime and break out of our tendency to devalue the time we need to rest each night. And, for the record, that means at least seven hours, she says. "Many people are chronically sleep-deprived. It’s hard to turn out the light," Rubin points out. "The last hour of the day is their true goofing-around, leisure time; they don’t want to give it up. It is, however, a lackadaisical kind of leisure. People fight more; they snack on food they shouldn’t be eating; they’re not doing exciting things with that leisure time. It’s really worth thinking about turning out the lights."

Of course, turning out the lights, and shutting out the world, is easier said than done. And, it doesn't help when we allow ourselves to get so tired that we fall asleep, say, on the couch, face full of makeup, Netflix still running. So, like the mornings, set an alarm that will alert you when it's time to go to bed. "What I’ve started to do is brush my teeth and take out my contacts before it’s bedtime," Rubin says. "I sometimes put off going to bed because I’m too tired to take my contacts out. By doing it before, you’re ready to jump in bed the moment your bedtime alarm goes off.”

FORGET THE BALANCING ACT

Maybe you've heard it before, or have said it yourself, but there's often a tendency to search for balance — a harmonious blend of work, play, Zen time, high pressure, family, friends, and self. It's a juggling act many people attempt. Rubin's advice: Let it fall. “I never think about balance. The thing about balance is that, if you get the right proportions, there would be room for everything. That’s not the case," she tells us. In forgetting the balancing act, Rubin suggests that you simply commit to those things you truly care about. "I have plenty of time for the things that are important to me. But, that means the things that aren’t so important to me get dropped. So, I then have to set my priorities."

Of course, letting things go is challenging, and doing tasks we don't love can sometimes be a part of life. But, for the most meaningful parts of your life — no matter how big or small — Rubin suggests putting them in your datebook. For example, she says, "If you have to have time to read for fun, put it on the calendar: 'Saturday afternoon, I’m going to read for fun.' Life comes, and things fall by the wayside. Put things down on your to-do list, and commit to it."

CHANGE YOURSELF, NOT OTHERS

We all have one: a friend who calls you for every "crisis" but is not really around for when you need a shoulder. Or, perhaps, a boyfriend or girlfriend who you love to take care of, but lately you're feeling more like mom than a partner. Whatever the case, your one-sided relationship needs to change now. Before you tell your loved one why their behavior is bothering you, Rubin says: Not so fast. "I don’t think it ever works," she says about the confrontation approach. "What changes things are if you change your own behavior."

First things first: Identify the problem. Recognize what it is, exactly, that's bothering you, and be truthful with yourself. Are you insulted? Frustrated? Jealous? "Once you do that," says Rubin, "a solution presents itself. For instance, if you and your sweetheart are having a bout over household chores, maybe you hire someone to do them to avoid conflict. It doesn’t have to be a ‘you do it, or I do it’ situation." Second, see what you personally can do to change the situation. Try to adopt a more carefree approach to housework, or be a little less available for dramatic, long phone calls. Committing to a change in yourself may not necessarily transform others, but in the end, it will bring you peace.

ACT LIKE A 10-YEAR-OLD

No matter what age you are, job you have, or relationship you're in, being happy may not always come naturally. It's not that you're sad, exactly, but maybe you've just lost sight of what brings you joy. So, what really makes you happy — the genuine, jump-up-and-down, lift-your-spirits kind of happy we all need and deserve? The answer to escaping your funk, Rubin says, is to think like a 10-year-old.

"We think fun is easy and spontaneous, but it’s easy to forget what fun is, too," she says. "We forget what we like, and going back to happy times in the past will help bring the fun back. It’s been there all along; we just lose touch with it.” Reflect a bit, and try to recall something that once brought you joy — dancing, drawing, swimming, helping your parents in the garden. Adapt your old favorite habits — that is, unless color-by-number activity books are still your thing — and commit to them. Those pastimes that once wholeheartedly made you happy will likely resonate for the long haul.

Filed under: living, advice, fun Tagged with: decor advice, financial tips, organize
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To Buy or Not to Buy: Kate Spade Flicker Tenley

July 11, 2013 12:07 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I saw this purse (the orange one) at Nordstrom a few days ago. I didn't buy it, but I've been thinking about it ever since! It's on sale for $119, but thanks to the internet, I found it (and the green one) for only $89 with free shipping on the Kate Spade website. I thought I'd show you the other colors just for fun. The lavender is regular price, but black and navy are available on Amazon for $96.46. It's cute right? What do you think?

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Lucky Charms

June 11, 2013 12:26 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I bought a horseshoe necklace a while back, and a wear it almost every day. I mostly like it because it's cute, but the horseshoe is a pretty common symbol of good luck. Hopefully I'll be getting some of that soon! I was curious to see why it represents luck, and I stumbled upon this list of other popular good luck charms from around the world. 

Insects

Cricket: These insects are considered good luck in Asia. Crickets have also made their way into pop culture, including Cri-kee in Disney's Mulan and Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio. There was also The Cricket in Times Square from the great Chuck Jones.

Ladybug: When a ladybug lands on you it is said to be good luck. Killing a ladybug is considered bad luck.

Dragonfly: Dragonflies are another lucky insect. The dragonfly was once considered to be a sign of a "good rice harvest." 

Scarab: Scarabs date back to Ancient Egypt, when scarabs where considered good luck beetles.

Natural Objects

Acorn: In Norse folklore, both the acorn and its bearer, the oak tree bring good fortune. A lone acorn is also thought to ward off lightening when placed in a windowsill. For more about the acorn and oak trees, read Superstitions About the Oak Tree and the Acorn.

Rainbow: Rainbows are considered lucky because we all know if we find the end of the rainbow there will be pot of gold. A rainbow also has seven easily discernible colors. The number seven is mentioned below.

Animals 


Dolphin: Dolphins are considered lucky in many different cultures including the Ancient cultures of Greece, Sumer, Egypt, and Rome. For "Christians and Native Americans, the dolphin is a symbol of protection, and its image is said to bring good luck."

Pig: Pigs are considered a symbol of good luck in Germanic cultures.

Tortoise: Tortoises are considered a good luck symbol in Feng-Shui decorating.

Elephant: Feng Shui and the Ganeshsa is the Hindu God of Luck. The elephant has also made its way into British, Canadian and United States cultures as a good luck charm in the 1930s.

Red bat: Red bats are considered lucky in China. The red bat is thought to ward of evil. Five red bats can also represent the "five good fortunes" of health, love, longevity, love, wealth and virtue.

Tiger: Tigers are considered lucky in Chinese astrology. The tiger is also considered a protector against certain evils including theft and fire. 

Icons and Figures

Buddha: A Buddha charm or statue is thought of as being lucky, especially if you rub the Buddha's belly.

Saint Christopher: As the patron saint of travelers, it is common for Catholics to have a Saint Christopher cross in their car. 


Man-Made Objects

Dream catcher: Dream catcher, from Native American culture are considered good fortune because they catch the negative images from dreams.

Red Chinese Lanterns: Red Chinese Lanterns are another red symbol of luck in the Chinese culture.

Horseshoe: Horseshoes were thought to bring good fortune when they were hung up on the wall of a home or above a doorway. When horseshoes were made by blacksmiths, this added to the idea of luck that embodies the horseshoe. Blacksmithing was considered a lucky trade. 

Coins: "See a penny pick it up and all day long you'll have good luck. Leave it there and you'll despair." Some even take the idea of luck to the other side of the coin, and believe that if the coin is face down that it's best to leave it on the ground. Coins have a place in Feng Shui as well, as luck bringers.

Pot of gold: A pot of gold is what you will find at the end of a rainbow, making it doubly lucky. 

Symbols and Numbers

Nautical star: The Nautical Star is seen as providing guidance, and it is a good luck symbol for sailors.

The Number Seven: The number seven is considered lucky by different cultures including the U.S. culture. The number seven is also considered a lucky number by people living in England (Wikiepdia.org). It's not just Western culture that holds the number seven in high regard on the luck scale. In the mythology of Japan, there are the Seven Gods of Fortune. The number seven is also important in world religions and spiritual beliefs including Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. 


Plants

Four leaf clover: The Four Leaf Clover is one of the better known Western symbols of luck, probably due to is popularity on St. Patrick's Day. Four-leaf clovers do exist, they just are not as common as the three-leaf variety. If you find one, it's considered good luck.

Bamboo: Although considered invasive by some, a gift of bamboo is considered good luck, specifically the Dracaena Lucky Bamboo. 

Wish Makers 



A Wishing Well: A wishing well is a place where you toss a coin (another symbol of good luck) and make a wish. Wishing wells can be seen in children's programming on shows like Dragon Tales. Another fun example of a wishing well in popular culture is the wishing well the movie Goonies.

Wishbone: A wishbone is a symbol of good luck. It also is a wish maker. Two people tug on the wishbone, each making a wish. After the wishbone breaks, the person with the bigger piece will have their wish granted.

Stray eyelash: A stray eyelash is seen as a wish maker, much like the wishbone. If a stray eyelash falls upon your cheek, place it on your finger and make a wish. Then blow the eyelash away.

Falling star: A falling star or a "shooting" star as it is sometimes called asks the person lucky enough to see it to make a secret wish.

(Inspired by Yahoo Voices)

Filed under: fun Tagged with: good luck charm, lucky charm, good luck
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Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

May 16, 2013 12:20 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I needed dishwasher detergent, and surprise surprise, I was too lazy to go to the store. If I can make my own laundry detergent, why can't I make my own dishwasher detergent? Well, I can! Some recipes I found online called for citric acid, lemon juice, or even citrus oils, none of which I had and was obviously not going to go to the store to buy. Then, I found the simplest recipe ever, equal parts baking soda and Borax. All you need to do is mix the Borax and baking soda together. Then, add about two tablespoons to your dishwasher's detergent compartment, and run as usual. I mixed mine in a jar so I could just pour it in to the dishwasher. 

The dishes seemed clean to me, so it looked like this homemade dishwasher detergent works. I'm not sure how it'll do with stuck on foods though because I'm one of those crazies that likes to scrub down my dishes before running through the washer. According to About.com, "Borax and baking soda are both natural disinfectants and mild abrasives – just what you need to blast away stuck on food and germs. In fact, you may be interested to learn that Borax is a common ingredient in many commercial detergents."

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

(Inspired by About.com)

Filed under: homemade, DIY, fun Tagged with: dishwasher detergent, borax, baking soda, Homemade, fun, diy
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Wrapped Sunglasses

May 7, 2013 12:29 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I got these glasses for free. I love them because they're my favorite color and they actually fit my face (which is extremely hard for my little nose), but they say Smirnoff on the sides. I thought about painting them, or covering it with paper, but then I remembered a box of emboridery floss my mom sent me home with after Christmas. I was planning on being nostalgic and making some friendship bracelets, but so far the box has gone untouched until now! I made this project extremely easy by using double stick tape, but you could do the same with glue for something a little more durable.

  1. Cut double stick tape to fit the length of your sunglasses.
  2. Starting with your first color, tie a double knot around the sunglasses making sure it is hidden on the inside.
  3. Wrap the embroidery floss around the glasses, pressing it into the tape as you go.
  4. To change colors, finish off with a knot and start your new color with a double knot.

That's it!

Filed under: crafts, fun Tagged with: crafts, summer, fun, sunglasses
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2013 Swimwear Trends

April 18, 2013 4:47 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I want to go to the beach tomorrow. 'Nuff said. Here are some great bikini trends to keep an eye out for.

1. Fringe - A super fun detail and great for small-chested ladies like me.
2. Retro - Mad Men anyone? High-waisted bottoms and sweetheart necklines can also create the illusion of curves.
3. Geometric - Bold a sporty. Plus, you can use color blocking to fake a perfect figure.

Let's go shopping!

Filed under: summer, fun, Fashion Tagged with: swimwear, summer, bikini, fun, Fashion
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A Guide to Laundry Care Symbols

April 4, 2013 12:49 pm · Posted by Lauren G

Ever noticed all those little pictures on your clothing tag? Some of them are pretty self-explanatory, but a few are a little tricky. Here's a great guide to make sure you're taking care of your clothes the right way.

(Inspired by Lifehacker)

Filed under: Laundry, Home, fun Tagged with: laundry, tips, fun, Home

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