My hair routine - Curly Girl method

A couple of years ago, I took up the "Curly Girl" method for my hair. You can read about the switch and details here. I stuck with it for about a year, but then drifted away and started trying a bunch of products with silicone again. Then, this winter, my hair just revolted on me. It was looking sad and limp and pathetic. So, I dove back into the world of Curly Girl devotees, did a bunch of research and realized I had been missing a few key steps.

My hair has been looking 100% better the last few months, and I'm using fewer, less expensive products. Double bonus! Here's what's been working for me and how my morning routine works:

Notes: If you're going to try this, make sure to do one last wash with normal shampoo to get rid of all the built up silicones in your hair. Also, I don't see why someone with straight hair couldn't incorporate a lot of these steps. They're cheaper and cut down on the heavy products in your hair.

Here's what I do:
1. Get in the shower, get my hair wet and squirt A LOT of Suave Naturals Coconut Conditioner in my hand. Plop it on the top of my head and rub it into my scalp with the pads of my fingers. Rinse it out. (This takes the place of shampoo. Trust me, it really does clean your hair - even after a sweaty workout or swimming!)

2. Put a pretty good amount of L'Oreal Vive Pro Hydra Gloss Conditioner in my hand and work it into my hair from the ends up to the crown of my head (but not into my scalp.) (Seriously, this is the best conditioner I've ever used!) I leave it on my hair while I do the rest of my shower routine. Then, with the conditioner still in my hair, I comb my hair with my fingers. Last, I wash out the conditioner.

3. Get out of the shower and dry off my body as usual, but DO NOT use a terry cloth towel on your hair. Keep your hair away from that soft but deadly terry cloth.

4. I put a generous squirt of gel in my hand - either Pantene's Curly gel or Herbal Essence Totally Twisted - and rub it into both hands. (The reason these gels work is that they don't have silicones.) I flip my hair over and shake it out. Then scrunch my hair with both hands. From here you can go straight to drying it, or "plop."

5. When I don't get ready at the gym, I plop in the mornings - which basically means putting my hair up in a special plopping towel or t-shirt. You can see how to do it here. I usually just leave it in the plop for 15-20 minutes while I make coffee, etc. At home, I just use a long-sleeve t-shirt to plop.

You can buy special towels for curly hair. I recently bought the Curl Ease towel to use at the gym (since I don't want to walk around the locker room with a t-shirt on my head, like a crazy person.) I put the towel on my shoulders to absorb some of the moisture from my hair right when I get out of the shower, and then flip my head over and scrunch with the towel, then apply gel as usual.

6. Then, I dry my hair with a diffuser following these instructions:

Leaving the blow dryer OFF, accordion curls into the bowl of the diffuser up to the root.
Turn dryer on.
When dryer gets hot, do a “cool shot.”
When dryer gets cold, turn off “cool shot.”
Turn off dryer, release curls, move to next section.

7. Then, DON'T TOUCH YOUR HAIR. I used to fix my part right after drying, but that just frizzed out the front of my hair. I've found it's better to just let it dry wherever it naturally parted during styling, and once it's 100% dry I fix the part.

8. You can add a little hairspray right after you dry it, while it's still partially damp, or once it's totally dry. I LOVE the Aveda hairspray - it's really light and smells good.

I know this is all very specific and detailed, but this really is a science. Once you do it a couple times, it's no big deal and it doesn't take me any longer to get ready in the morning. There is A TON of information and tips on this method - so I encourage anyone interested to do a little research and figure out the routine that will work for their type of curly hair! One good place to start is NaturallyCurly.com, where you can find lots of forums and articles.

A lot of people who use this method have also been raving about oils like Flax Seed Oil and Coconut Oil - applying them to their hair right before gel. I may give that a try at some point. Good luck and have a great weekend!


In need of greens

Photo via

Yesterday was Election Day, which always means a huge potluck at my office. I ate my weight in See's Candy, and threw in some doughnuts, deviled eggs, pulled pork and curry chicken. Does that sound like a recipe for disaster? What am I, eight years old? Well, I  had a massive tummy ache last night and could not wait to have a green smoothie this morning. Ah, already feeling better. And, now I've got a big salad, cottage cheese and hard boiled easter eggs for lunch. My body, and tummy, are thanking me.

What is a green smoothie, you may ask?

Right about the time that my acupuncturist suggested I try to get more greens and vegetables into my breakfasts, a friend posted a link to something called the Green Monster Movement. The idea is to make breakfast smoothies that include greens like spinach, kale, chard and collards. I usually get into a smoothie kick each spring and summer, but I had never thought of adding the greens. Great idea! I've been experimenting with some combinations lately, and I've had some great breakfasts!

In-a-Hurry Green Smoothie

Add in this order to the blender:
1 T Flax Seed (or peanut butter)*
1 scoop protein powder - optional!**
2 cups of pre-washed, bagged spinach - about one big handful
1 banana
1/2 cup frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, etc.)
1 cup milk or soy/almond milk

Blend until smooth. Add 4-6 ice cubes, if you'd like. I now leave out the ice cubes.

Fabulous Green Smoothie

This is what I went for this morning!

Add in this order to the blender:
1 T Flax Seed (or peanut butter)*

1 scoop protein powder - optional!**
2 cups of spinach (or kale, chard, collards) - about one big handful
1/2 banana
4-5 fresh strawberries
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
5 frozen cherries
1/3 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup milk or soy/almond milk

Blend until smooth.

* I had never had flax seeds before I started making these smoothies. I get them in the bulk aisle at grocery stores. My naturopath said it's good to have them in there, but you could certainly leave them out, substitute them with a nut butter, or just forget the nuts/seeds altogether!

** Protein powder is another new product to me. I proudly described my morning smoothies to my naturopath recently, and then she promptly told me that although they're great, they're probably  not giving me enough protein. Good point! So, she suggested I add a scoop of protein powder. It certainly doesn't improve the taste of the smoothie, but you can hardly tell it's there. I found mine at Whole Foods.

A few last notes: 
The bags of pre-washed spinach are definitely the easiest green to use. You just grab a handful and throw it in! Other greens are great, but involve more prep with washing and cutting.

A don't like raspberries or blackberries in smoothies because of all the seeds! Just my opinion, though.

Rinse out your cup and blender right away, or you'll come home at the end of the day with some hard-wash-dishes. (And, blenders are especially annoying to wash.) I rinse out my blender right away, and then let it soak during the day with a little dish soap.

I use organic spinach and strawberries, since those seem to be ones that are always recommended to buy organic.

If you're growing greens, those early little leaves that are starting to pop up are perfect for smoothies. I used some of the small chard leaves from our garden this morning!


Easter Review

Photo via Martha Stewart

A quick run down of the Easter weekend highlights. (These are too late be to helpful to anyone this year, but may be good to file away for next year.)

I cooked lamb. It was super delicious. (Plus, I got to use my new food processor!) I will definitely make this again next year.

Pete and I made a spring kale salad. Yum! (Recipe posted below.)

We dyed eggs using turmeric, beets and red cabbage. You have to leave them in the dye overnight, but the colors turned out really saturated and cool.

We got to sing to lots of organ music in church. (I love seeing all the kids in their Easter outfits!)

We went to an amazing Easter potluck and drank some lovely Washington whites: CMS Sauvignon Blanc (left over from our wedding) and Maryhill Pinot Gris.

I started reading through Heidi Swanson's new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day.

We watched Winter's Bone, which kept my heart rate elevated for the entire movie. A little stressful, but still a good film. (Also made me more excited to see Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games.)

I had a nice run on Saturday morning, and have finally gotten to the point where I can add a little mileage every Saturday. My goal is to eventually run the 6.2 mile Cheshiahud Loop, which goes right by our house.

I decided to do the Seattle Danskin Triathlon after hearing that a friend is planning to do it. Fun!

I read a book in the sun for hours (and got a sunburn!).

I went through my clothes and took a load to Goodwill. (Therapeutic purging.)

We grilled with friends.

And, finally, I had a bit of a fiasco with hot cross buns. I went with Nigella Lawson's recipe, which is in her Feast cookbook. I mixed and kneaded the dough on Saturday night, and then put it in the fridge as directed so that I could bake them in the morning. The next morning, I had . . . a very cold, hard lump of dough that just didn't look right. So, there were no hot cross buns for Easter brunch. But, I let it raise over the course of the day, and then finished out the recipe last night. And, they're really good. I might try it again next year, but I'm not sure about this "let it rise overnight in the fridge" thing. Any suggestions?

Happy Easter!

Spring Kale Salad
Adapted from this recipe

1 bunch kale (I used curly), washed, dried and cut or torn into bite size pieces
1 lb. strawberries sliced
1 pear cut into bite size pieces
1 cup roasted nuts, I used sesame seeds, slivered almonds and macadamia (I think it's easiest to roast them on the stove top for a few minutes, moving the pan back and forth like you're making Jiffy Pop. I tried doing the macadamia nuts in the oven and burned half of them - hence adding the other nuts.)

For the vinaigrette:
2 Tablespoons shallots, minced
2 whole lemons, juice & zest
2 teaspoons dijon mustard 
2-4 teaspoons sugar or honey 
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Put the chopped kale into the a mixing bowl.

Make the vinaigrette. In a medium sized glass or ceramic mixing bowl, add the shallots, lemon juice, lemon zest, mustard, sugar/honey, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix this well with a wire whisk. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to emulsify properly. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. You want this to be a little sweet with a good tart background (remember that you’re adding fruit to sweeten it up).

Dress the kale. Pour about half the vinaigrette over the chopped kale – reserve the rest in case you want to add more later and to finish off the salad. You don’t want to over-dress this salad.

Toss the kale. Now for the messy part – “massage” the vinaigrette into the kale. Kale has a water-resistant exterior that needs some coaxing to take hold of the dressing. I work my hands through the kale and massage the leaves for about 1-2 minutes. The kale should feel well-coated with dressing but not drenched. Add more dressing if needed.

If you have time, marinate the kale. This step is not necessary, though, and ours marinated on the table while we were waiting to eat. Cover the bowl with plastic and let it set in a refrigerator or on the counter while you’re preparing the rest of your meal. The time marinating will also help to tenderize the kale a bit.

Assemble the salad in a large bowl. First add the kale, then the strawberries and pears, and then the nuts. Finish off with a little dressing over the top.


It is finished.

The wedding, that is. It was . . . fantastic, amazing, beautiful, fun, wonderful! Any more adjectives I should add? For all you brides and grooms and parents and friends working on planning a wedding right now - all the hard work really does pay off in the end. Thank goodness!

I'm thinking of posting a series of "lessons learned" while planning a wedding in Seattle. They would be the type of posts I kept desperately, fruitlessly searching for while I was planning our wedding. I just have to get back in the habit of posting.

In the meantime, I now have this weird obsession with continuing to look at photos of other weddings on wedding blogs and Facebook. Why? Maybe I'm comparing them to ours. (Ours is better, of course.) Maybe I can't quite let go of the whole process.

I mentioned earlier that I think Scottish weddings look so dreamy and romantic. Well, Indian weddings look like the most colorful, fun, festive parties ever! I hope to go to one someday. I usually think wedding videos are too cheesy and silly, but this one is pretty amazing.

Oh, and if you want to see more of our wedding, check out the blog post from our phenomenal photographers Red Fish Photography.

Have a great weekend everyone!