Friday, December 31, 2010

Laundering Denim

Prevent Bleeding Denim!

* High quality denim is less processed and tends to bleed more
* Always wash before wearing, even pre-washed denims
* The first few launderings, wash separately; add white vinegar to the water
* Wash in medium temperature and low dry

Above tip courtesy of

Removing Stains From Denim

Denim is a fairly low-maintenance fabric, but stains will set into it if not cleaned right away. For most stains, all you will need to do is blot at them with some cold water mixed with a mild detergent. If the stain is stubborn, try some stronger solutions, like a dry-cleaning solution or white vinegar.

Grease stains

Grease stains most often result from petroleum-based spills, and the stains are extremely stubborn. Using solvent cleaners can usually remove the grease, but these cleaners may contain bleaching agents that can damage the fabric, so make sure to try them on some inconspicuous area of your garment before you apply them on the stain.

The best way to go about it is to blot the stain with the solvent. Now, use the familiar mix of mild detergent and tepid water and gently blot the stain. Third, use a clean white cloth dipped in some alcohol to further blot the stain. This should take care of the matter, but if the stain remains, try scrubbing it gently with dishwashing detergent and then rinsing the area with a mixture of white vinegar and water.

Food and oil stains

The first thing to do is to blot the stained area with a cloth soaked in dry-cleaning solvent. Then, sponge the area gently with a mixture of a mild detergent and tepid water. This blotting and sponging should remove most food and grease stains. You should wipe off the residual detergent with a damp cloth.

Go to the link above to find specific instructions for other types of stains.

REMEMBER, regular stain removal products contain bleach that will blotch your denim forever.

The images used in this post are from "The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen", an impromptu gift for family and friends recorded on Christmas Day 2008 by Narelle and her sister Sarah, which you can view below.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Closet Stuffer

A wee browse in the NZ Spotlight online craft Inspirations Room produced a handy closet tip using that leftover Christmas paper wrapping that costs so much but doesn't seem to have any further usefulness.

Closet Tip:
Stuff scrunched up wrapping paper into hats or the toes of shoes to keep their form while in your closet.

Check out the Inspirations Room link for other ways you could recycle that pretty paper.

If you're in Australia, will take you to the Inspirations Room video tour for a glimpse of the crafty possibilities you can access there.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Your Tribute to Femininity

Here's a holiday project for you. Boutique Narelle invites you to send us a picture of a woman who provides you with an attractive example of Godly femininity. We will select from that collection to post on this website as a tribute to these Titus 2 women.

High resolution digital photos are preferred. If you are scanning an image, 200 dpi and 200% scaling should be fine. Send to BoutiqueNarelle(at)

And what do you get out of this if not fame and fortune? You get a chance to notice and be thankful for the women who have been a positive influence in your life. Count your blessings, and determine to be a blessing in the lives of other girls!

Thanks for spending time here with us this year. A Happy Holiday to you from BoutiqueNarelle!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Noodle in Your Boots

Summer temperatures send you joyfully fishing for your flip-flops and dancing off into the sunshine with almost bare feet while your winter boots droop in the wardrobe gathering dust for the next four months.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

Here's how to protect your boots while you're not wearing them. That sideways droop is damaging to the fabric, so it's beneficial to the boot and your pocketbook to use boot stuffers.

Boot stuffers can be as basic as stuffing newspaper down the boot leg, but if you've ever tried that, you'll know how messy and unsatisfactory it is. I've seen Inflatable Boot Stuffers advertised in the Avon catalogue priced at $12.95 a pair. I have 2 pairs of boots so that works out at $26. If you're like my boot fiend friend with 9 pairs, that's $116.55 in boot storage! Outrageous. The good news is we have here the perfect low-cost answer.
The solution is a pool noodle. Yes, that's right, those coloured foam tubes that you float around on in the swimming pool. They're also useful in your closet!

I purchased one pool noodle for NZ$2.99 (even though the Warehouse label said $4.99) and measured it into 6 sections, a pair at 20cm, a pair at 25cm, and a pair at 30cm. Dad cut them for me using a .....saw. I vacuumed the shavings off the ends, then stuffed a noodle segment into each boot.
A pair of my mother's boots benefited from this experiment. Between us we made a saving of $35.86. Enough for another pair of boots!
My boots are now ready for their summer hibernation, stuffed and blanketed. The dust cover is an upturned recyclable grocery bag (valued at about NZ$1.50).

The Warehouse doesn't stock pool noodles during winter, so get them now!
Thanks to USE YOUR NOODLE AND LOOK AFTER YOUR BOOTS provided by Maxine Berryman in "Simple Savings: Hint of the Week", and thanks to my sister Katrina for passing on the tip!
"The Secrets to Saving Money in New Zealand" free newsletter
9,328 easy hints to reducing your living expenses
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Ed: Is anyone else annoyed with Blogger's new post formatting that ignores instructions such as image settings?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chain Reaction

Have you ever gone shopping for a necklace to set off your trendy new outfit but not been able to find ANYthing near what you had in mind? What did you do? Buy the next best thing to what you envisioned? Or wait and keep looking?
I've learned, through many misplaced dollar donations, that it's best for me to wait. If I buy something less than what I had in mind, I won't wear it because I'll always be annoyed that it's not quite right, that it's not quite me.
What if you find the style or colour necklace that is exactly what you had in mind? You fall in love with how it looks on you, and what it does for your outfit. But there's something not quite right with the necklace...faulty workmanship, a few beads that clash with the outfit, poor fit... Now what do you do?

I had a fun fashion experience at Kooky in Palmerston North's Downtown Mall. The Kooky ladies helped me find an overlayer for the dress I had with me, and as I dithered over whether there was enough of the right colour near my face (white tulle coat over black and red dress), shop attendant Pat produced a vibrant necklace that emphasized my favourite colour in the dress.
But she hung the thing around my neck so that the clump of beads and links rested in my cleavage. I wanted it nearer my face. We refastened the chain so it fit just so...and I found myself with a 20cm tail of chain dangling on my chest beside the curve of beads.

My sloping shoulders meant that the excess length was never going to remain hanging down my back.
Pat said, "I just chop my jewellery until it's right."
"Chop?!" I queried.
"With pliers," she said.
I had a pair of jewellery pliers at home. I purchased the necklace with high hopes.
That night, before I did anything to the necklace, I tried it with another outfit (the one I'm wearing in the photo above), and again dithered. The full length necklace looked great on the merino poloneck, but the winter climate here means that I usually have a zipped jacket on top of the poloneck. The necklace would be swallowed up in lapel. I decided that mostly I need short chains that will work with a revere collar shirt or a poloneck jumper.

That decision made, I got out my bead board and pliers. It's easier to control the tiny pieces if you have two pairs of pliers, which I don't, so I supplemented my tool kit with tweezers. They weren't really strong enough, but I managed.
I calculated the total length of chain I needed, divided it by two (27 chain links per side), then pried open about four links and closed as many again as I redistributed the length to match my measurements. The whole operation took about fifteen minutes and didn't cost me a cent.

I left 8 links on the extension for a slightly longer dangle at the front if I choose.

My shopping advice is:
Ask yourself ---
  1. Do you want the necklace for just one outfit or multiple outfits?
  2. If you want the necklace to work for multiple outfits, what is the neckline style you wear most often? Will the necklace work with that?
  3. If the price is perfect but the style, setting, or colour isn't, is there something you can do to fix it at home? If you don't think you can do it, is it something that can be inexpensively fixed by a jeweller or beadshop/experienced beadworker?** If not, keep looking.

**You may have to research your options there. I was on holiday in North Canterbury when I forgot to take my pearl necklace off before I removed my poloneck jersey, the result being the necklace wire popped out of the crimp and pearls spilled into my hand as I grabbed for the swinging wire. Bearing up in hope, I asked a Rangiora jeweller if they could fix it. They could, for NZ$40. That was as much as I paid for the necklace. It was my favourite, but it wasn't worth $80. The kind jeweller suggested I try the bead shop across the road. The owner of the bead shop took one look at my sad pile of pearls and wire and said, "Not a problem. I can restring that for $14." She had it done by the next day, and I shall be forever grateful to her.

These blue pearls are what I wore with one of my costumes on tour with Jules Riding. You can click here to see me performing. If you'd like to know more about my experience, subscribe to or

By the way, if you think something wild is going on with the post formatting, it is. Blogger's New Advanced post solutions are not something we are happy about.
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