Plopping: Amazing curls in 6 easy steps!

LogoI hope you’re not tired of hearing about my hair yet because today I have good news for those of you who, like me, struggle with what to do with your naturally curly locks. Not long ago, I had reached a point of total frustration with my partially grown and extremely unruly hair. I was almost ready to call my hairdresser and have it cropped off again. That’s when I decided to try plopping, a technique that my daughter often uses on her much longer, but equally curly, hair. I was absolutely amazed with the results and it’s so easy!

When curly hair is wet, the curls are smooth and defined, but when it dries, those lovely curls lose their definition and often become a nasty pile of frizz. Definitely not the look we want! What we do between wet and dry makes all the difference in the world. Plopping helps curls keep their shape, even after they dry.

So what are those 6 easy steps?

Step 1:

Wet your hair and squeeze out any excess water.

Step 2: 

Apply product. This may include a leave-in conditioner as well as mousse, gel, or curl creme. I use a handful of Herbal Essence Tousle Me Softly mousse.

Step 3:

Lay a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt on a flat surface (chair, bathroom counter, bed) with the sleeves closest to you. Using a t-shirt instead of a terry cloth towel is key to successful plopping. Terry cloth absorbs too much moisture, which curly hair needs, and its harsh fibres promote frizz. If you prefer, you can purchase a special microfibre plopping towel, but one of the things that I like best about plopping is that it doesn’t require any costly implements. I simply found an older t-shirt in my closet that I wasn’t wearing often and set it aside for plopping.

Step 4:

Bend forward at the waist positioning all of your hair on top of your head and at the centre of the t-shirt.

Step 5:

Take the far edge (bottom hem) of the t-shirt and flip it up over your head so that it rests at the back of your neck. Tie the sleeves of the t-shirt behind your head. If they are long enough, you may want to wrap them around to the front and tie another knot to make your turban more secure. Tuck in any loose ends and leave for 15 to 20 minutes. The t-shirt will soak up moisture without creating frizz and will also absorb any excess product preventing hard, crunchy curls. Some women leave their hair covered longer; even overnight. Experiment to discover what works best for you.

Step 6:

Remove the t-shirt and let your hair air dry or blow-dry it with a diffuser. Do not touch the curls while they are wet.

It really is that easy! I don’t take great selfies, but here’s what my very first attempt at plopping looked like.

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While the curls relaxed a little through the day, this is what it looked like 8 or 9 hours later, ready to go out for dinner with my husband.

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I can’t begin to tell you how many compliments I’ve had since I started plopping!

For a simple tutorial complete with photos, click here.

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Another photo challenge

I get very irritated by a lot of stuff that floats around the internet and lands on my Facebook page, especially the “pass it on” posts that are simply a newer version of the age old chain letter. Once in awhile, however, something more interesting comes along.

A couple of years ago, a friend and former student nominated me to take part in a Facebook nature photo challenge which I enjoyed very much. Over the past week, I participated in second photo challenge that was a little more difficult. The idea was to post one black and white photograph every day for seven days and to nominate one other person on each of those days to take up the challenge. The instructions were “Seven black and white photos that describe your life. No humans. No explanations.”

I found the “no humans” part of the exercise more challenging than I would have anticipated, especially given that the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and my “Still alive at 65!” birthday party fell in the middle of it. People and relationships are really what life is all about! I was surrounded by friends and family, but I couldn’t include them in any of the photos.

I also discovered how much colour adds to my life. I rarely convert my photos to black and white. I found that some looked good while others completely lost their impact. For example, here are a couple of photos of the heavily laden Mountain Ash tree in our backyard.

Take away the vibrant green and the brilliant red of the berries and the photos are just plain drab. Needless to say, I didn’t use them in the Facebook photo challenge.

Here are the photos that I did use and since this isn’t part of the challenge, I can even add some explanation!

#1   I love this one… open Bible, laptop, a library book, a steaming cup of green tea, and sunshine streaming through the window. This is where I can typically be found in the morning.

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#2  I love the texture of the grass in this one taken during my last round of golf before the course closed for the season.    

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#3   I spend part of every day in the kitchen where there’s usually a bowl of fruit on the counter and often a fresh loaf of multigrain bread cooling.    

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#4   No, that’s not my house. That’s the view from our front window; the huge, unfinished house across the street. Construction started in the fall of 2008 and almost nothing has been done to it in the past five years or more. The inside is still completely unfinished and no one lives in it.  😦 

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#5   This is the view from our back door with the Mountain Ash on the left. Notice that you really can’t see the berries at all in a black and white photo.    

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#6   When my daughter saw this one, her comment was, “Yes! This is you!” I’m what’s known as an arctophile, a person who collects or is very fond of teddy bears. These are just a few of mine who spend every day sitting on our bed. I’ve had the biggest one since I worked in a toy department one Christmas season while I was a university student in the early 1970s.    

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#7   Travel is very much a part of our life, so this morning our suitcases were packed again!    

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All of these photos were taken with my easy to use Canon point and shoot camera.

A new, updated look

Yes, you’re in the right place! I decided awhile ago that it was time to give Following Augustine a new, updated look and I’ve been tinkering with it for awhile to get it just right. Thankfully, WordPress made it easy.

The first and most important step was choosing a new theme which is the overall design. That might sound simple, but WordPress has hundreds, perhaps thousands, to choose from! After looking at quite a few of them, I settled on this one called “Hemingway Rewritten.” Of course, as an English major, that led my mind down a rabbit trail! I knew who Hemingway was, of course, and had read his work many years ago, but what was it about his style that prompted Swedish designer, Anders Norén, to use his name for a blog theme?

Hemingway’s writing style is simple, direct, and unadorned, probably influenced by his early career in journalism. I believe that it was this minimalistic style that inspired Norén to use his name for a blog theme with a clean, uncluttered look; a look that was exactly what I wanted for Following Augustine.

It was very important to me to choose a look that was not only visually appealing, but easy for you to read. I chose a font and a background colour that are meant to be easy on the eye. I refuse to read blogs with white print on black backgrounds. They’re simply too hard on my eyes. I didn’t want a stark white page either, and so I chose a subtle blue.

Have you ever noticed how many major social media platforms use various shades of blue? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype all use blue, a calming, relaxing colour. As a background, it tends to disappear rather than distracting the eye. Blue also represents communication which definitely makes sense for a blog!

And now, I want your opinion. Do you think I was successful in coming up with a simple, attractive, and easy to read format? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? After all, the blog is for you, the reader!

Ahoy!

LogoFor as long as I can remember, I’ve been fond of nautically inspired clothing. It probably goes back to my very early childhood spent on the coast of British Columbia where it wasn’t at all unusual to see sailors walking the streets in uniform. On leave from ships from around the world, they always seemed to be having such a good time.

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As a teenager, I was proud to wear my CGIT (Canadian Girls in Training) uniform which was clearly modelled after sailors’ attire. For those of you who aren’t familiar with CGIT, it’s a non-denominational Christian organization for girls in grades 7-12. Since 1915, it has provided girls with an opportunity to learn and practice leadership skills, self care, and social responsibility. As our purpose stated, it taught us to “cherish health, seek truth, know God, and serve others.” Perhaps this also influenced my fondness for the nautical look.

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Even my children were subjected to my love of sailor suits! Here are my oldest two in matching outfits that I made for them a very long time ago.

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I suppose it’s no wonder, then, that one of my favourite items in cabi’s Fall 2017 Collection is the Regiment Pullover.

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Reminiscent of the French sailors in their Breton stripes, the Regiment Pullover is a lightweight navy crewneck, featuring panels of sheer fabric down each side and under the arms. Thin horizontal stripes of light gray frame the side panels to create a flattering, slimming look. Here I’m wearing it with my anchor pendant from Nova Scotia’s Amos Pewter.

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A pro-aging revolution

LogoAs long as I can remember, advertising aimed at women has screamed one message loud and clear… youth equals beauty! We have been hoodwinked into believing that we lose value as we age. As a result, many women go to great lengths to try to fight off the natural effects of passing years. Thankfully, there is finally a “pro-aging” revolution beginning to happen in the cosmetics industry.

Perhaps we baby boomers have always been rebellious. In our youth, we protested everything from materialism to the Vietnam war. Now, as we reach our senior years, we’re rebelling against the concept that young women have a monopoly on beauty.

Thousands of women across America and around the world recently petitioned two major cosmetics firms, L’Oreal and Estee Lauder, to stop using the term “anti-aging” on their product packaging and in marketing campaigns. Last month, Allure magazine announced that it would no longer use the term.

I’ve been thinking about age a lot lately. When I was 59, I dreaded turning 60. Now, 65 is less than a week away and I’m embracing it! In fact, I’m throwing myself a “Still Alive at 65!” party! Perhaps being diagnosed with cancer shortly before my 61st birthday has something to do with that. After all, aging skin and greying hair seem like such insignificant issues in comparison!

Even before my cancer diagnosis, however, I had little interest in hiding my age. I may not be crazy about my marionette lines and the little wrinkles appearing above my upper lip, but I think that a young face, as pretty as it might be, is a bit like an empty canvas waiting for an artist’s brush. In my opinion, believing that beauty belongs only to the young is like thinking that a blank journal is more interesting to read than an autobiography!

I concur completely with the petition mentioned above which said, “We need to stop the anti-aging bias. Aging is perfectly okay! It’s a beautiful thing to be here on this earth, and with every passing day we gain beauty, experience, wisdom, and appreciation for life. This is why we need to start celebrating, not fighting, aging.”

Jamie Lee Curtis Pro Aging

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18 Tips for Successful Thrift Store Shopping

LogoPeople often wonder how I find so many amazing items in the two small thrift stores in our local area. Racks packed with clothing of every size and description can be overwhelming for even a seasoned second-hand shopper, but a few tricks can make the search much easier and a lot more fun.

1.   Let go of your prejudices.

Perhaps your idea of a thrift store is a dingy, cluttered mess of old and worn out clothing. While there may be a few of those out there, thrift stores are often clean, bright, and well organized. Also, second-hand shopping isn’t only for the poor amongst us. In troubled economic times, it’s definitely a good way to stretch your wardrobe dollar, but thrift store shopping is for everyone. If you must, think of it as doing a good deed. You can help whichever charity the shop supports while at the same time keeping perfectly good merchandise out of our already overcrowded landfills. It’s definitely a win-win situation!

2.  Allow yourself plenty of time to browse.

Be patient. Sometimes you have to sift through a lot of things to find one treasure, but it’s definitely worth it!

3.  Dress comfortably.

In my opinion, any second-hand clothing store worth its salt will have a dressing room, but some do not, so be prepared. If you have to try things on in the aisles, you want to be able to do it easily and modestly. Even if there is a dressing room, wearing leggings, a cami, and slip on shoes will make trying things on a breeze.

4.   Try everything on.

Just because it looks nice on the hanger and the tag says it’s your size doesn’t mean that it’s right for you. Don’t buy just because the price is right. Make sure it’s something you’re actually going to enjoy wearing.

5.   Don’t limit your search to the size you usually wear.

Sizes have changed over time. What used to be a size 12 might now be an 8, so when you’re looking at older or vintage garments, expand your search to take in sizes on both sides of what you normally wear. Also keep in mind that sizes vary widely between manufacturers as well as areas of origin. North American sizing is different from European.

6.   Consider making a list.

If you’re looking for specific items, having a list can definitely narrow the search and make it less overwhelming, but…

7.   Be open-minded.

Look beyond what’s on your list. Be creative. Think outside the box. Thrift store shopping is a great way to step out of your fashion comfort zone without spending a lot of money. It’s a perfect opportunity to try colours and styles that you haven’t worn before.

8.   Examine the item carefully.

Second-hand stores seldom take returns. Before you head for the till, check cuffs and collars for wear. Look for holes, stains, missing buttons, loose seams, and zippers that don’t work.

9.   Consider tailoring.

A vintage, designer, or high quality item that doesn’t fit quite right can often be altered to fit you perfectly. Investing a little extra might be well worth it if you end up with a quality garment that you love to wear.

10.   Look for quality brands.

Lots of well-made, expensive clothing can be found hiding in thrift stores. You may have to search for it, but I consider that part of the fun!

11.   Try new brands.

Thrift store shopping is also an opportunity to try brands that you may not have worn before.

12.   Know the current trends.

You can often recreate new looks with older items. For example, velvet is on-trend this season, but it’s been popular before. Look what I found for my daughter this week…

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Black velvet heels! Ooh la la! For myself, I’d love to find a velvet blazer.

13.   Go often.

Inventory is constantly changing.

14.   Learn when new inventory hits the racks.

Larger stores like Value Village and Goodwill tend to restock their shelves all day, every day, but smaller stores may not. For example, our local Good As New shop is closed on Mondays and Thursdays. Clothing is sorted and racks refilled on those two days, so obviously Tuesdays and Fridays are the best days to shop.

15.  Watch for sales and specials.

Whenever the Good As New is overstocked, they hold a “Brown Bag Sale”. With the exception of a few items such as jewelry, you can buy everything that you can stuff into a large brown paper bag for $5! Some thrift stores have regular half price days.

16.   Find out whether or not haggling is acceptable.

The second-hand stores that I regularly shop at have set prices and I’m glad they do because haggling is not something that I’m good at or care to do, but when in Rome as the saying goes. If haggling is part of the thrift store culture where you are, learn to bargain with confidence.

17.   Don’t be afraid to leave empty-handed.

Thrifting is like a treasure hunt; sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not, but don’t give up. Just try again another day!

18.   Thrift while on vacation.

If you have time, seek out second-hand stores in places that you visit and go home with mementos from your trip for next to nothing.

If you don’t shop second-hand, what’s stopping you? Why not follow these tips and give it a try. I think you’ll be glad you did!

 

Creating a distraction

LogoIt’s now been five months since I made the decision to let my hair grow out and I haven’t given up yet! I even survived six weeks of camping, often without power. I’ve been surprised and pleased with how well it’s gone, but there are days when I despair and consider giving up; days when the unruly curls and frizz almost get the best of me.

I’m enormously grateful to whoever invented hair combs. Some days sweeping the sides back and holding them in place keeps me from completely losing my mind, but I’ve also learned that accessories are a great way to create a distraction taking attention away from my hair and focusing it elsewhere.

Here I’m wearing a silky scarf designed by Northwest Coast indigenous artist, Clifton Fred, and a pair of eye catching earrings.

The same principle works to draw attention away from other flaws or body parts that you’d rather not accentuate. Hats, scarves, sunglasses, belts, statement jewelry, colourful handbags, or stylish footwear are all great ways to steal attention. Use them to draw the eye away from those parts you don’t particularly like and to enhance those that will give you your best possible look.

For example, if you have what is commonly referred to as a “turkey neck”, lose skin around the neck that often develops as a woman ages, you may want to camouflage it by drawing attention down and away from that area. Opt for scarves, necklaces, or earrings that create long vertical lines. On the other hand, if you are big busted and prefer not to accentuate that feature, shorter statement necklaces that draw the eye up to your neck area are a better choice.

Be careful not to overdo it by wearing too many accessories at once, but be sure to add one essential and inexpensive accessory to every outfit… your beautiful smile!

Before we leave the topic of my unruly hair though, I just wanted to share the fact that it’s a genetic trait inherited from my mother’s side of the family. Clearly, I have passed it on. Here’s my youngest grandson ready for his first day of preschool last week.

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And here’s what he looks like when Mommy tries to tame his locks!

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Photos of Simon: Melaina Graham