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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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

Transitions

LogoI live on the Canadian prairie where we have very distinct seasons. As a result, I have two distinct wardrobes, summer and winter. Sadly, it will soon be time to pack away my shorts, capris, and all my other warm weather gear and prepare for the cold months ahead, but tucked in between summer and winter are the shoulder seasons, spring and fall. Times of transition. What do you wear when it’s 5ºC (41ºF) first thing in the morning and 30ºC (86ºF) that same afternoon? That’s the kind of weather we’ve been having this week and that’s why there are some pieces that stay in my closet year round.

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My new Graph Blouse from Cabi will be one of them. Though it’s from the Fall 2017 Collection, it’s floaty layers make it a perfect stand alone item for summer days and warm autumn afternoons.

To ward off the morning chill, I’ll simply add one of the lightweight cardigans that spend the summer at the back of my closet. As long as my shoulders and upper body are warm, I’m comfortable.

When winter arrives (I hate to think of it!), the Graph Blouse, tucked in or worn loose as shown here, will continue to serve me well under warmer sweaters and jackets.

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Stepping out of your fashion comfort zone

LogoDo you ever feel like you’re stuck in a fashion rut? Are you tired of looking in the closet and seeing the same old, same old? Are you unhappy with what you see in the mirror? Perhaps you’d really like to try something new, but you have no idea where to begin. Maybe it’s time to step outside your fashion comfort zone!

Most of us get stuck in a fashion rut from time to time. I know I certainly have. There was a time when almost everything in my wardrobe was some shade of blue or brown! How boring is that?

Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be scary. Take it slow. Experimenting can be fun, but this doesn’t mean that you should try to change everything at once. Small changes can make a big difference.

The first step might be to look for ideas and inspiration. Though magazines can be a good source, I like to read fashion blogs written by real women just like you and I. You can find several of my favourites here. If you do a bit of searching, you’ll find others that may be more your style, especially if you’re significantly younger than I am.

People watching is another fun way to gather ideas. Try sitting in a mall for a little while and really looking at what the women who pass by are wearing, especially the ones who seem to exude confidence. You won’t like everything you see, but you might pick up some ideas that you’d be willing to try. Don’t make the mistake of trying to copy exactly what you see someone else wearing though. You want to put your own stamp on an outfit and allow your unique personality to shine through.

The easiest way to step out of your comfort zone and switch up your style is to try wearing a colour that you typically wouldn’t wear. If red isn’t part of your present wardrobe, that would be a great place to start since it’s a popular colour this season and there will be lots to choose from in the stores. For advice on how to choose the right red for your complexion, see my post from last Friday.

Accessories are a great, budget friendly way to update your look. Adding jewelry or shoes in a style that you haven’t worn before will instantly take your outfit to a new level. Be adventurous! I remember reading of one woman who admired hats on other gals. Eventually she bought herself one. She told of sitting in her car outside the mall, hat on head, terrified to get out and be seen because this was such a new look for her. I don’t remember if she ever wore her new chapeau into the mall or if it stayed behind in the car. I really hope she wore it!

Sometimes a wardrobe update is as simple as embracing a new, on-trend version of your favourite fashion item. I spend a great deal of my life in jeans and I admit that I’m not always quick to adopt the newest cuts. It took me awhile to accept the low rise variety and now that I’m accustomed to them, waistlines are rising again!

Stepping out of your fashion comfort zone doesn’t have to involve shopping for something new. Sometimes it can be as simple as combining items that you already have in new and different ways. Again, be adventurous! You might find several new looks right there in your own closet!

Are you waiting to lose a few pounds or to get in shape before you try to climb out of your fashion rut? Please don’t! Instead, begin by dressing the body you have. Again, look at the women around you. Not one of us has a perfect body, but by stepping out of our fashion comfort zones we can begin to feel better about ourselves just the way we are and maybe by doing so, we’ll be challenged to take the necessary steps to make those dietary changes or to join that gym.

What changes will you make this fall? You’re worth it!

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