Sunday, August 30, 2015

How to "Plop" for Curly Hair

Let's talk about curls today greenies...specifically a technique called "plopping". I know it sounds a little weird at first, but plopping is basically where you "plop" your hair down onto a t-shirt, wrap it up and let it dry for a period of time and when you take it out you have curly hair!

I started using the "plopping" technique after being frustrated that the ends of my curly hair were going flat and straightening out. I figured maybe it was time for a trim to get some of the dead ends off and increase the curl, but even after the trim the ends were still not springing up. So after to reading up on plopping, I decided to give it a try. The first couple of times were a little off as I figured it all out, but once I got the technique down and figured out a system to do it I got great results. It's been several months now that I've been plopping and I now I'm hooked.

The reasoning behind the "plopping" technique is that when you wrap up your hair in the t-shirt while it is still wet and allow it to dry, the curls will stay in place and dry scrunched up as opposed to being straightened out. Another benefit of plopping that I noticed was a decrease in frizz since my hair wasn't air drying out in the open, instead it was saying in the t-shirt for several hours at a time during the crucial "drying phase" where my hair always seem to pick up some frizziness.

Now that you know why I "plop" let me share with you how I do it...

For supplies you will need...

1. A t-shirt...I love, love, love this vintage style shirt of Brandon's I borrowed (and have never given back). it's very worn in and super soft, this makes it much more comfortable for me to wear when I'm "plopping". Although I can't find this actual shirt,  here's a similar one.  I've tried using basic long-sleeve shirts but the longer sleeves just mean more fabric I have to wrap around my head, which I don't find to be very comfortable. Also in case you're wondering, this one is a size XL and I think it makes for a great plopping fit.

2. Some hair gel... I use my homemade "flax seed hair gel" that you can find in this post. I love this one because it is simple and easy to make with just brown flax seeds and water, even better it only costs 18 cents to make! Feel free to use whatever hair gel you like though as this technique works with all hair products.

My flax seed hair gel.

When I do it...I always do my "plopping" when I sleep at night that way I hardly notice that I'm wearing the t-shirt on my head. Plus in plopping my hair up for around 7 hours or so, it seems to give it the best amount of curling power. Sometimes when I plop for less time, my curls seem a little more flat. The only downside is getting comfortable with the t-shirt on your head when you're trying to sleep, but once you can get it right it can work great for you!  So plopping at night is my favorite, but you could give it a try during the day as well if you like it better like that.

Now here's my plopping routine:

As I said above, I like to plop while I sleep, this means I take a shower and wash my hair before bed.

Now let's start the steps...
1.  Wash my hair and wrap it up in a Turbie Twist microfiber towel to absorb most of the extra water.
I leave this in for about 5-10 minutes while I put on lotion and get dressed.

2. Then I take out the Turbie Twist, gently brush my hair with a wide-tooth comb, and apply some hair gel to each section. I find that combing out my hair decreases the tangles and the flax gel decreases the frizz.

3. Then it's time to start plopping. First lay out your old t-shirt on a bed where the collar is closest to you.

4. Then start to place your hair down onto the center of the shirt. I try to think of it like an accordion, let your hair pile on top of itself and then press the top of your head into the hair.

5. Now fold up the bottom of the shirt and place it at the base of your hairline/neck.

 6. Next start to pull together the sides and begin twisting them around. You can only see one side here, but it is a mirror image on the other side.

7. Then you take those two side pieces you've been twisting and bring them together at the base of the shirt and tie them in a knot like a shoe.

8. Now you're ready to lift up and start adjusting. I always check the front of the plop to make sure my "part" is correct. Meaning the hair in the front is on the right side. Trust me, you do not want to have it sit for 6-7 hours in the same position if the hair is on the wrong side of the fun! So I always just feel in a little and smooth down both sides of the front of my part.

 9. Then I adjust the back to make sure it's secure and to tuck in any other loose pieces.

This is all about preference. personally I don't like any extra shirt that hangs down so I tuck as much as I can into the wrapped up plop, and as you can see, sometimes a mirror helps with this.

10. Then I'm all plopped and ready to go to eyes are looking pretty tired! I then leave it on while I sleep all night (on most nights) to achieve the best curly results. 

 11. When I wake up in the morning, I leave it on while I take a shower and get ready and then last I fix my hair.

12. I then add another round of flax seed hair gel more precisely to each section of hair to help get the curl to shape the way I would like it and again, decrease the frizz.  I'm more gentle when I apply the hair gel this time around in how I don't want to change or mess up the curl I worked so hard to achieve by plopping it all night, so I go extra gentle on the tips of my hair and just follow the pattern of the curl instead of trying to manipulate it to go another direction.

I also do a lot of "scrunching" at this time to keep the curls bouncy and springy.  Then when I'm done it looks about like this...

Happy spring curls, no heat, no electricity, no expensive curl gels required!

So what do you think, will you give plopping a try? If you have curly hair, what's your favorite way to style it? Have you ever tried plopping? Share your thoughts below!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Where I Take "Hard to Recycle" Items

One thing I love to do, other than "green stuff" is to declutter. There's just something about getting rid of old stuff you no longer need or that clutters up your life and your space that's so freeing to me. And I'm not talking about just moving it from one pile to a cute little organizer box, I mean get it out of my house.  Unfortunately that's not always easy to do. Some things require proper disposal, others turn into nagging tasks, and some do you don't even know where you could take them if you wanted to get rid of them

That's where I come in. Considering my passion for decluttering + green living you can bet I've got a few green tricks up my sleeve when it comes to properly disposing of those "hard to recycle" items you might have sitting at home.  From light bulbs to old TVs and even those cans of paint, I'll share where and how I take my "hard to recycle" items to be disposed or recycled in an eco-friendly way so that you can have a cleaner house and take care of the Earth.

So let's start the drop offs! I'll share where I went, what I recycled, and links to find out if it's available in your area. 

No time for the video? Check out the pictures here...

Drop-off #1: Lowe's Home Improvement Center
Item to be recycled: Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
In my green journey, I started out using compact fluorescents and then have recently made the switch to using more LED lights, which left me with a bunch of old CFLs. These light bulbs freak me out because of the mercury...I'm just certain that I'm going to drop one and contaminate myself with mercury or something (never mind my irrational fear of CFLs!). Anyways, we found out Lowe's takes CFLs so I boxed up all the ones we had and took them down to the store.
Find out more here: at about the recycling services available in your area.

With my box of CFLs at Lowe's. 

Here's the little recycling area they had near the customer
service entrance of the store. The instructions said to bag
up the light bulbs and then drop them in the slot at the top.
Luckily we were able to put several lightbulbs in one bag,
instead of just one per bag...we would have been there all day!

As you can see they take rechargeable batteries too!
Drop-off #2: Best Buy
Item to be recycled: Old flat screen TV
This thing has been sitting in my basement for almost 2 years since it stopped working and I was so happy to cross it off my nagging task list! At first I thought I would take it to my city's electronic recycling program, but it costs $5 to do that. So I checked the Best Buy site and they said they would take it for free, all we had to do was drop it off. So that's what we did. Brandon carried it inside and when we got there an employee helped us load it onto a cart and away we went...without the old TV. Yeah! So long TV, hello more space in my storage room.
Find out more here: at about the recycling services available in your area. According to their website they take most electronics and even some appliances at no cost, and you don't even need to have bought it at Best Buy.

Good bye old flat screen TV. 
Drop-off #3: Target
Item to be recycled: Old cell phone and MP3 players
Well I probably could have taken these to Best Buy as well, but I knew Target had a recycling kiosk and I wanted to check it out. As you can see below they take MP3s, cellphones, ink cartridges as well as plastic bags, and other recyclable bottles. All I had to do was bring my old cell phone and two old iPods in and drop them in the appropriate drop box. Done!
Find out more here: at about the recycling services available in your area.

Recycling kiosk at Target.

See ya later old cell phone and iPods.

Drop-off #4: Ripple Glass
Item to be recycled: Glass bottles and jars
Since I'm pretty plastic-phobic, I use a lot of glass when purchasing my food. From spaghetti sauce jars to jelly jars and these things add up! Now in my pre-green days, I chucked my glass containers into the trash and didn't think twice about recycling them because they weren't included in my regular recycling pick up that got the usuals (paper and plastic). But then I learned a fact that changed my thinking forever about glass recycling...when you throw glass into a landfill, it NEVER breaks down!

Say what?! So that pickle jar you just tossed in the trash will stay in that state, essentially forever, and unlike food, paper, or plastic waste that will break down will not. For me this was a glass recycling game changer. Now I feel this ping of guilt when I go to toss a glass jar into the trash and I stop myself and think, "it will never break down!" Ahh! Then I switch gears, give it a rinse in the sink and then put it in my glass recycling container in the garage. Whew...that was a close one.

Need an extra incentive to recycle the glass, just know that glass is 100% recyclable and it can be recycled ENDLESSLY! (read more as to why you should recycle your glass here at the Ripple Glass website)

Lucky for me, in the Kansas City area we have free drop off facilities available all around our metro area with a company called, Ripple Glass. Ripple Glass has a number of drop-off bins often found in local grocery store parking lots, which collect the glass from consumers and then it's taken to their processing plant. Some of the glass is turned into fiberglass insulation, and some is recycled back into more bottles.

I love having a place to take my glass to be recycled locally, how about you?

Find out more here: at about the recycling services available in your area.

Drop-off #5: Cartridge World
Item to be recycled: Printer Ink Cartridges to be refilled
While there are many locations to take old printer cartridges to be recycled, I instead, like refill and reuse them. Here's a local place I've found that I take my cartridges to be refilled. Back when I first started going here several years ago, I had to drop of the cartridges and then come back later to pick them up. But as they have grown more popular there are more cartridges available, so they basically take my old cartridges, save them for other refilling, and then give me cartridges that match my printer that are already filled and ready to go. So no more waiting, but still the savings and reusable factor.

Speaking of refilling my printer ink instead of buying new ones I save $11! For new ink on Amazon, my ink would be $36...$15 for black ink and $20 for color. But at Cartridge World, it's $14 for color and $11 for black. Love it.

The only downside I've heard is that sometimes people have trouble with the ink cartridges not working when installed in your printer. I've ran into this once or twice, but the key is to save your receipt. Usually if it's within 30 days of purchase they will replace it for you for free as long as you have your receipt, so be sure to save that just in case.

Find out more here: at to learn more about them and see if you can find one in your area.

My local Cartridge World. 

What the cartridges look like after they have been filled. 

The black ink I use.

Installing the newly filled cartridges into my printer. 

Good to go and ready to print.

Drop-off #6: Hazardous Waste
Item to be recycled: Old paint, lawn care products, batteries, old cleaning products, toxic flea spray
This by far is my favorite group of things to "recycle" because it clears my house of toxic items that I do not want around. Now you may be thinking, "You're Ashley's Green Life, what toxic products could you possibly have?" But I do still have some. Most come from my husband (since I'm still persuading him to try out some greener lawn/pest care products), and others come from common household products like old paint and batteries. For this specific time, I had some of the "toxic" flea treatments and sprays we tried when our dogs had fleas last year that I was more than ready to get rid of.

Now you may be wondering, why not just toss these items into the trash, who cares? But actually dumping those products in the trash or pouring them down the drain can cause harm to animals, people, and the community. So luckily most counties/cities have programs available to help you dispose of your "hazardous waste" properly. In specific county, it's free and I don't need an appointment to drop off all the items I listed above. For example, the place I take my hazardous waste products collects: automotive fluids, batteries, fuels, household cleaners, lawn and garden products, pesticides, as well as paint and related products.  They do not accept: explosive yard waste, medical waste, commercial waste, pressurized gas cylinders, asbestos, tires, and appliances.

Take a look at the pictures below to see what it was like when I dropped off our load this time around...

Find out more here:  Check out the Hazardous Waste Facility in my county here, or search "Hazardous Waste Disposal" in your town or city to see what's available.

The sign for the Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Center

What we were taking: old paint, lawn care products, antifreeze, flea spray,
fertilizer spray, old spray paint. 

I hated seeing all the old cans of paint from when we painted our rooms, so
I just kept small jars that I labeled with chalkboard labels so I can
keep a small amount if it's ever needed for touch ups. 

You can see I named it
by the room it's in and the paint color. 

Much smaller and more compact for storage than large paint cans. 

I also brought a box of old batteries to recycle at the Hazardous Waste Facility. 

My local drop-off center. 

You just pull up under this roof and then they meet you to start unloading
your load.

Here's a view inside of the facility (through my door window).  ( :

That was all we had to do there, drive up, they unload it, (after checking our ID to make sure we live in the county) and then we drove off with our hazardous waste-free car.

I love dropping this stuff off specifically because it feels so good to get it out of my house. i just feel cleaner and greener without it all just sitting around collecting dust and taking up space.

So that wraps up where I take my "hard to recycle items" and boy do I love how much cleaner and greener my house feels. Where do you take yours? See any place new you might try? Do you have any more to add to the list? Share below. And if you have an item you still aren't sure where to recycle it at, you can always check out: where you can type in the item you want to recycle and your zip code and then find the closest place you can drop it off to be recycled or disposed of properly.

Happy recycling!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Vegan What I Ate Today: July 2015 (with kids!)

Okay now eventually I will get these posts in line, but it just didn't quite happen for here it is in August? Sure why not! So this is my last "Vegan What I Ate...with Kids" since I'm going back to my teaching job in a few days. It sure has been a fun and relaxing summer with my girls, and I'm going to miss them, but I'm also excited to get back to a job I love. So let's get started with my vegan food for the day for the month of July.

Here's the breakdown in this week's video....

No time for the video, here's a look in pictures:

5:00 AM: warm lemon water: 8 oz. warm water + juice of 1 lemon

5:20 AM: Pre-workout snack: Food for Life Sprouted Gluten Free Bread 
with Trader Joe's Organic Creamy Peanut Butter.

Workout: 60 minutes of Suzanne Bowen's BarreAmped Workout DVD. Read more of why I love this workout DVD in this post, "My Workout Routine". Basically it's an awesome full body workout that will get you "shaking" for a good reason.

Here's a preview of the DVD I did today: Suzanne Bowen's BarreAmped 

After my workout, I shower, get ready and then my girls get up. 

 Morning smoothie recipe:

Blend + serve.

7:30 AM: Breakfast smoothie. I make one smoothie and share a portion with
Mila (as Avery is not a fan).

8:00 Avery's breakfast: a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabar
She usually eats half now, and an hour or two later,
then she'll eat the other half. 
As Mila gets caught up on her reading in Avery's special little closet nook.

Then I give them about 20 minutes on our iPads while I jump in the shower,
change clothes, and get ready for the day. 

This is when I do my oil pulling too. 

9:00 AM: Morning snack #1: Fruit time! Avery made her own little fruit bowl
in this funny popcorn container of organic blueberries and strawberries.

Such a fruit girl!

Personally I've been loving frozen mango lately that I get from Trader Joe's.
I like to have it with 2 fresh bananas chopped. 

On this day we decided to head to the library once my mom, a fellow teacher on summer vacation came over, so Avery packed us some snacks for the road. 

Loading up some veggie straws.

We've been loving these Blue Avocado Clear Zipper Reusable Bags lately.

10:00: Morning snack #2 for my girls: fruit pouches. I made these
with a combo of frozen fruit and applesauce (I'll post the recipe another time)
using these reusable Little Green Pouches in the Large size..

They ate these pretty quickly in the car...before we even got out of the driveway!

So I'll say they were a hit. I've been trying to make my own snacks for them
lately, but although it's greener and cheaper...sometimes it's a bit more time
consuming, thank goodness for summer though!
On this day we headed over to my parent's house to hang out. They are both teachers like me, and also off on summer vacation so it's fun to have the chance to spend more time with them. 

10:30 Morning Snack #2: My snack Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar that I
ate in the car while we were out.

Time for the veggie straw snacks we packed. "Want one?"  ( :

Then we were off to Michael's Craft Store to get some craft supplies
for this artsy girl...can you tell she was in awe of them all!

Then when we got home it was craft time!

11:15 3rd Morning Snack: 1 organic corn cob with Earth Balance Vegan Butter, and
garlic salt. Some what of a strange snack for this time in the day, but I've been
trying to have more whole foods lately, instead of chips and crackers. So
instead of corn chips I had actual corn...yum!

Wait who's eating my corn on the cob...that's supposed to be for me!

To warm up lunch I use my stove top as you can see. So the night before
when we had this for dinner, I kept the food in the sauce pans and stock pot
that way when I'm ready for it the next day, I just place it right on the stove
top and start warming it up...since I don't use a microwave.

Lunch 12:15: Tinkyada Gluten-Free Spaghetti and organic green beans.

For the girl's lunch, I added some of Avery's little berry fruit salad from the
morning (that she didn't finish) and for their dessert they had some Annie's 
Gluten-Free Bunny Cookies.

After lunch I put them down for a nap, which they take at the same time most days (thank you!). I then lay down and take a 15-20 minute nap to recharge a bit since I've been up since 4:45 AM. After I get up, I head downstairs to "work" and snack. 

2:15 PM: My Healthy Chocolate Chia Milk (find the recipe here)
During this time I work on my writing blog posts, editing YouTube videos, and catching up on emails.

Yummy chocolate + chia seeds.

About an hour later, Avery gets up from her nap and to keep her in a happy mood you go get her some Almond Dream yogurt, then she comes around a bit...

No time for a smile, I just want my yogurt.

A little later Brandon comes home. Lately he's been trying to eat healthier
and he's doing so by having a smoothie a day. He usually has one similar
to the one I had for breakfast with rice milk, Sunwarrior Protein Powder,
bananas and he'll alternate other fruits or even peanut butter. Avery
loves it because she gets some leftovers...

...and so does Mila when she gets up!

4:45 PM Green Juice: Usually I make my own, but my juicer broke (my fault).
Luckily it was still under warranty, so a new one is on it's way. In the meantime
I got some store-bought juices like this Evolution one.

About an hour later, the girls were hungry again and Avery was heading
to gymnastics so she made this snack on her own with some
organic peanut butter, organic apple slices, and veggie straws. Mila
had the same snack too!

Then I got started on dinner, which for tonight was homemade pizza. I make
this "Gluten-Free, Vegan Pizza Crust" from Minimalist Baker

5:30 Pre-dinner snack: Roasted Sweet Potato Fries and organic ketchup.
Like I said before, I'm trying to swap chips for whole foods, so out are the
chips and in are the sweet potatoes. These fries are seriously one of my
favorite snacks. I like to make a big batch and then save the leftovers. So
batch was actually from the night before, and all I had to do was pop them
in the oven for 10 minutes and then were ready.

Before Brandon left to take Avery to gymnastics, he got his pizza all ready.
As you know he can have gluten, so he just gets a pre-made, whole-wheat
crust from the store. 

Roasted cauliflower with garlic is one of our favorite sides to have on "pizza night"!

Here's what my pizza looked like, hot out of the oven. I topped it with:
Muir Glen Organic Pizza Sauce, Daiya Shredded Cheese, mushrooms,
and black olives. 

6:30 PM: Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Roasted Cauliflower 

The girls had a side of organic applesauce with their dinner. 

For my dessert: 1/8 cup of Lily's Sweets Baking Chips (stevia-sweetened),
my favorite quick, easy dessert to satisfy my sweet tooth in a healthy way.

So there you have my food for the day, and all the things I did with my girls on one of my last days of summer vacation. Did you see any food you would like to try or do you have a special food you or your kids have been loving lately? Share it below! See you next month for the next "What I Ate" post.

By the way, if you're in the mood for some more "What I Ate" posts, be sure to check my others out here by clicking MarchApril, or June! ( :
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