Real Life Results: My attempt at plopping for curly hair

Every now and then, a new tip pops up on the internet that I feel compelled to try. This month, it was “plopping” — a way of priming your curls by drying them in a t-shirt. A few hours later, I was supposed to have beautiful, shiny, perfect ringlets. Here’s the whole process, from start to finish, from Buzzfeed.

And here are my results…

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Step 1 – Wrap wet hair in a t-shirt, carefully rolling. I also put in plenty of my favorite product at this time.

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Step 2 – When your hair would normally be dry, unwrap the t-shirt. This is after an hour and forty minutes of drying. I was not impressed.

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And here’s the final result. As you can tell by my beauty pageant expression, I found my curls more Hermione than plop-perfect. Maybe I didn’t wait long enough for the t-shirt to dry on my head, but after an hour and 40 minutes I was over it. I find I have better results by gently blotting with a towel and air drying, or using my nifty microfiber hair wrap.

So, I dunno. Internet, you lose on this one. However, a friend of mine tried plopping and she said the results were amazing. Curly-heads, try it out and let me know if I’m just a plop novice, or if this trick is for the birds.

 

 

Why Pedego is a good fit for me: bikes for all sizes and shapes

Stuff the FTC makes me say: This post is part of a series of posts about Pedego I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks as part of my agreement of being a Pedego Brand Ambassador. Pedego did provide me a complimentary bike in exchange for my review and discussion.

A few weeks ago I was helping a friend pick out a cruiser bike. We were shopping online, and this friend is plus-sized, like me. “Oh, wait,” she said, as she looked at the bike’s details. “This one has a 200 pound limit.” That bike was a no-go, because despite dieting best intentions and what that number on the scale COULD be, you want a bike that will safely carry your body weight now. One of the things that first attracted me to Pedego Bikes was that their bikes come in all kinds of ranges and sizes, perfect for many different body types. In fact, one of their customers, Rhonda, used to weigh 457 pounds, and her Pedego was a main reason (in addition to healthy eating) that she lost over 250 pounds.

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Picture from Pedego.com

“The first time I rode a Pedego, it was freedom to me. It was back to being a kid again. It was the best feeling I’d felt in a long time. The smile I had on my face when I got back — I swear I had it for days,” said Rhonda.

Because her mobility was so limited, the Pedego was a perfect stepping stone to becoming active again. It empowered her to get some exercise, fresh air, and social interaction — and it was fun. “Riding my Pedego was something that I wanted to continue to do. It wasn’t something I dreaded. It wasn’t a chore. It was just enjoyment for me.”

I definitely understand what Rhonda is saying, because if you gave me a choice between riding a bike around the neighborhood and going to kickboxing, well, the bike wins any day – and I LIKE kickboxing. But it feels less like one more thing you have to do, and more like you’re a kid again – just cruising around the neighborhood. It’s kind of like tricking your body that you’re exercising 😉 Matt and I went up to Pedego 101 a few weeks ago today to test out the bikes, and the best part about the Pedego was that heading up hills was a lot simpler with the throttle option. I’m noticing that pregnancy has me out of breath a lot faster than before I was pregnant, and I guess now I’m breathing for two. It was so awesome to give the throttle a twist and get a little zip, allowing my body to rest when it needed it. Did that make the ride easy? No, but it made it easier — which is perfect. I still got a great workout that day!

The other size-friendly or age-friendly thing I love about Pedego is they offer some very advanced options for bike frames, in terms of mobility. My bike model has what’s called a “Step Through” which means instead of swinging my leg over the seat like I’m about to hop up on a camel, I just step through the frame of the bike and gently sit myself down. There’s no heave-ho or grunting as you try and hoist yourself up on the seat. For people who want an even easier option, they have the Boomerang, which has an even lower frame (9″). This is perfect if you have knee or joint issues, or just want a bike that’s less of an ordeal to hop on. I’m so jazzed that my bike has the step-through, because as this bump grows into a beach ball, it’s going to be a lot more convenient to have a prego-belly friendly bike.

Boomerang from Pedego.com, with easy step-through access.

Boomerang from Pedego.com, with easy step-through access.

While I’ll be in New York for a few more days and am away from my Pedego Cora, I’m still thinking of my lovely bike… including wishing I had it as we wrapped up a very looooong day of walking in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. I had to snap a pic of myself with this cool bike mural in Brooklyn because it reminded me of Pedego.

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Not quite an easy step-through on that model… but awesome, nonetheless. I hope you have a wonderful day!

 

A bundle of joy arrives in November!

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My husband and I are very excited to share that in November, we’ll be parents! We enjoyed an awesome five years of marriage before deciding to expand our family, and now that we’re expecting, we’re over the moon. I’ll be sharing more on the blog later about what it will mean to have a plus-sized pregnancy (hint: nothing dramatic. With healthy eating and exercise, you can have a healthy, normal pregnancy — I have so far been lucky to have not gained a pound, and have felt great!), and how I ultimately made the decision to move forward with my life despite not reaching my goal with weight. But for now, I wanted to share a little bit about how we broke the news.

Matt and I went on a Caribbean cruise in mid-March, and thankfully, even though I was about eight weeks along, other than fatigue, I felt really good (I did miss my mojitos, though!). We decided to take a photo on the beach and write “Baby C” in the sand (See below). I’m wearing my weekly bump shirt that I made (thanks to my pal KJ Pugs), and two awesome gals on the beach helped us stage a mini photo shoot. Because we live eight hours away from our immediate family, we knew we’d have to break the news digitally to some people. Thankfully Matt’s Dad was coming down to visit, so we got to surprise him in person with a custom mug that says “Grandpa, Est. 11/15″.

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We also got to tell my best friend and sister in person. I bought them aunt onesies, wrapped them in boxes, and had them both open the boxes at the same time. My sister screamed so loud and jumped up and down that I’m pretty sure the cats thought it was the apocolypse — it was awesome! Here she is right after hearing the news, and right after putting on her makeup (sorry, Ape! My timing was off on that!), hair still wet in a babushka.

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Surprising my parents was a little bit more complex. We decided to have my sister print the photo from the cruise, and present it to my parents while we skyped them. You’ll hear my sister say we shipped the picture. Thanks to my awesome brother, we have this video of my mom’s insane reaction. (Back story: My mom has been annoyingly obsessed with becoming a Grandma since I was about 18 (not kidding!). She had to be sternly reminded several times that we would have kids when we were ready, and I always told her good things come to those who wait. See, Mom? It finally happened!) PS if you’re offended by F-bombs, do not watch this video because there are several of them! My favorite part is the dog jumping up and down with my mom.

I’d been trickling out the news slowly to family and friends, and as of today I’m 13.5 weeks pregnant and thanks to a detailed scan last week, we know that Baby C. looks great and is so far nice and healthy! (Please say a little prayer, send good thoughts, or make a wish on a dandelion that all continues to go well.) :)  To pre-emptively answer a few questions I’ve been getting lately:

  • How am I feeling? As I mentioned earlier, my only major symptom has been fatigue, but I’m starting to perk up a little bit. I haven’t had any morning sickness and I feel so fortunate that so far I’m feeling really, really good. Being crazy excited helps :)
  • When is the due date? November 12, a Scorpio!
  • Will we find out gender? Yes! Definitely. I think we still have a few more weeks to go before we’ll know. I definitely have a “feeling” it’s one gender, so I’ll be curious to see if I’m right!
  • Any cravings? In the earlier weeks I craved a Veggie Delite sub from Subway, and have been super averse to chicken. In fact, I’m struggling with eating meat in general. I’ve never been a big meat eater and am having to be creative about getting enough protein. The most consistent craving I’ve had is berries – strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, which I have almost daily. I’ve also craved Sour Patch Kids and Cheez-Its, but am trying to keep my junky indulgences to a minimum.
  • Was the baby planned? Yes, indeed! I am very grateful to have conceived as having PCOS can make things dicey in terms of fertility, and I am well aware of the struggles so many people go through to become parents. I am holding all of the hopeful parents to be in my heart that one day their dream is fulfilled.

So that’s my news, Double Chinners! I’ll be back on the DCD more often now because, heck, I missed y’all, and even though my new blog is cool, DCD will always be my home. Thank you as always for your loyalty and time, and for reading my little old blog. I’m a pretty lucky gal! <3

Big News: I’m a Pedego Electric Bike Ambassador!

Hi friends!

You may have noticed I’ve been hanging around the DCD again lately, and it feels good to be back! Today I’m thrilled to share that I’m one of four brand spankin’ new Pedego Electric Bike Ambassadors! Over the next few months I’ll be blogging weekly about my experience with my beautiful Pedego bike. Now, the first thing people want to know is: what’s an electric bike? Well, it’s a bike you pedal and ride just like any other bike; but this one has the option to get a little boost if you need it (up to 20 mph!). I have the Pedego Interceptor, which is a cruiser and has an easy step through, so there’s no need to swing your leg up high to get on the seat. Once you’re on your bike and ready to go, you can pedal like normal, twist the throttle, or turn on Pedal Assist, which helps speed up and power your pedaling. It’s pretty much the coolest thing ever. I’ll share a meme next week about how it makes me feel :)

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I chose the coral and aqua Pedego with brown wheels, seat, and handle bar trim. Isn’t it gorgeous? I love the bright, beachy feel and the retro styling. I have decided to name her Cora (And yes, of course I have color coordinated shoes. Gotta make sure my pedaling fashion is on point.) However, the best thing about this bike isn’t its cute styling — it’s that this bike is going to help me maintain my fitness and reach new levels of health. Now, a few people that hear about electric bikes always say the same thing “If it’s electric, how is that going to help you get exercise?” While on my lazier days I may *want* to just use the electric option the whole time, I find in the 7 miles I’ve already ridden that I only use the electric options when accelerating from a stop, or heading up a hill. In fact, because I have the electric option, I end up riding longer and further — certainly something you can’t debate when you’re biking for exercise. You still get the exact same benefits of biking on a Pedego that you do from a normal bike — the wind in your hair, the breeze kissing your cheeks, the joyful “WHOOSH!” as you cruise down an empty street. Plus, isn’t anything better than nothing? (Always. No matter how slow you go, you are always, always, always lapping somebody who is still on the couch. Progress, not perfection!)

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Because I work from home, I’m most excited about using my Pedego for errands rather than driving my car. For example, this week I already rode to the post office, the grocery store, and even my acupuncture appointment! On Friday, I’m having lunch with some friends and I can’t wait to check out Reseda’s new protected bike lane. Of course, I’m learning all about bicycle traffic laws and always make sure I wear my helmet (the photo above was just for photographic purposes!). I’m looking forward to seeing how Cora helps me accomplish my fitness goals, because I know I do best with exercise when I can make it multi-purpose. If I have a nice long bike ride while doing an errand, it doesn’t feel like exercise: it feels like a fun way to be productive. That’s why I had success last year when training for the 3-Day, because suddenly I was able to walk long distances to do things like visit the crafts store or meet friends for dinner. When I’m able to make exercise less tedious I always end up doing more of it!

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I’ll be sharing more about why exactly Pedego makes such unique bikes in the coming weeks (spoiler alert: USB charger on deck, a range of sizes for all body shapes and sizes, over 6 models of bikes including a tandem and a cargo version, awesome customization, super sturdy build, the list goes on…) If you’re interested in learning more about Pedego, definitely check out their website, and see if there’s a dealer near you. Almost all dealers offer bike rentals, which is a fantastic and low-cost way to get to know the bikes. I’m lucky to be working closely with Pedego 101 in Westlake Village, which is even cooler because it’s owned by a friend from journalism school, Linda C.

Allright… I’m off to take a bike ride! Do you have a bike? Do you love bike riding, too?

Disclosure: I have received a Pedego bike in exchange for blogging and sharing on social media about my experiences over the next several months. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Alyssa’s California Avocado Adventure: Rancho Rodoro and Mission Packing Plant

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Stuff my lawyer made me say: Holy guacamole! The California Avocado Commission provided me free lodging, transportation, meals, and awesome avocado swag. I am not under any obligation to write or share about my trip.

After our first tour of the day at the avocado nursery, Brokaw Nursery, we boarded the bus and headed out to Rancho Rodoro — a beautiful avocado farm nestled in Santa Paula, Calif. Rancho Rodoro is named after the farmer Randy Axell’s parents, a combination of their names Ross and Dorothy. Randy has been growing California Avocados for over 40 years, and he grows Hass and Lamb Hass avocados. It was really interesting to hear him talk about how avocado farming works; how precise the weather, soil, water, and nutrients need to be to produce a bountiful avocado crop. The photo below shows buds of soon to be avocado babies.

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We were given the opportunity to pick some of our own avocados, and that was a blast. I spotted this beauty and knew it had to be mine!

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Did you know that avocados don’t ripen on the tree? Avocados only ripen once you pick them. Once we all  harvested to our heart’s content, we headed into Randy’s awesome barn, where Chef Pink from Bacon and Brine of Solvang was preparing us a delicious lunch.

Farmer Randy, Jan, the VP of Marketing for California Avocado Commission, and Chef Pink of Bacon and Brine share a laugh in Randy's barn

Farmer Randy, Jan, the VP of Marketing for California Avocado Commission, and Chef Pink of Bacon and Brine share a laugh in Randy’s barn

To start, Chef Pink prepared avocado gazpacho, bacon and kim-chi sliders with avocado, and while I unfortunately can’t remember the name, this delicious appetizer that was a very thick, wheaty slice of bread with avocado and crushed almonds and peanuts with Korean seasoning. It was like eating a grilled cheese — the flavor had the savory intensity of amazing cheese, yet there was no cheese at all.

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All of this deliciousness clearly only whet our appetite, as our main course was a slow cooked pulled pork with avocado apple relish. This sandwich was just the hearty meal I needed to pull me out of my mid-day slump. It was served alongside mixed greens with ruby red grapefruit slices and avocado (of course)! Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of it (I wolfed it down too fast to stop and snap… whoops), but trust me when I say we ate some amazing food that weekend, and the pulled pork was my favorite!

Once we all wrapped up our lunch, we said our thank yous to Randy and his wife, and were back on the bus for our last stop of the day, the Mission Avocado Packing Plant in Oxnard, California. Mission Packing had just moved into their new facility, which was formerly a post office! While we weren’t able to snap photos at all points during the tour, I did get a few photos of the packing process. It was mind-blowing to see pretty much all of the state’s avocados rolling through conveyor belts, being weighed, and then being bagged up in variously colored mesh nets.

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We got a great tour by Mission Packing’s Project Manager, and you can bet we rocked our sexy hair nets. Don’t we look great?

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Several of the rooms in this plant were ice cold to keep the avocados a consistent temperature, but what I was most impressed with were two things: 1) the cleanliness of the facility and 2) the efficiency. This facility was squeaky clean, spotless, and it felt VERY secure in terms of being a place where food comes from. I’ve been in other food facilities before and this one felt immaculate! Also, the efficiency here couldn’t be debated. From the machinery to the employees, you could tell Mission has productivity and packing down-pat. Those avocados were preparing for their journey from machine to mouth in a highly-effective fashion.

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It was really cool to see the exact same kinds of avocados I buy (from Costco) get bagged up and ready to go to the store. Did you know that stores can specify a ripeness of avocados when they order them wholesale? There is something called a ripening room that releases the gas ethylene, which causes ripening (you can do this for free in your house by placing an avocado in a brown paper bag with an apple).

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We left with our own sack of avocados and headed back to the Four Seasons Westlake, where our last avocado treat was an amazing dinner full of avocado goodness. Before dinner, we got to hear from R.D. Katie Ferraro (in green) (standing next to Jan, VP of Marketing for CAC), who told us about some of the nutritional benefits of avocados and showed us her go-to method for avocado toast (hint: mash the avocado before you put it on the bread. I always did it after and would end up tearing a hole in my toast!). Another thing she told us that I tried this weekend with rave results was how to store a fresh cut avocado: sprinkle the fruit with lemon juice, lime juice, or white vinegar and place it in an air tight container. Your avocado will remain springy green! Also, if you have an abundance of ripe avocados, consider freezing them. Pureed avocado freezes very well and can be used on sandwiches and in dips, if you use it within four months.

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What are some of the nutritional benefits of California avocados? Let’s discuss!

  • One fifth of a medium avocado has 50 calories and nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.
  • California avocados contribute 11 beneficial carotenoids to one’s diet, including lutein, zeaxanthin, and alpha and beta carotene. In California avocados, the greatest concentration of carotenoids is in the dark green fruit of the avocado closest to the peel.
  • Avocados contain 23 mg of beta-sitosterol, which may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

After Katie’s informative sesh, we headed into the beautiful Four Seasons dining room for our last avo-amazing feast. Here’s the menu from our feast!

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This avocado adventure was totally amazing, and just one more rad opportunity made possible by this lil’ old blog over here! Big thanks to the California Avocado Commission and Golin Harris for hosting an action-packed, informative, and delicious weekend in Ventura County. Now: because I’m sure you guys love avocados too, leave me a comment telling me your favorite way to eat avocado for a chance to win a California Avocado Commission avocado masher. This stainless steel gadget looks like a mini-potato masher, but makes mashing your avocados (for toast, guac, baking, you name it) a breeze! US only, must comment to win.

(Need some avo-inspiration? Check out my grand prize winning recipe, California Avocado Mascarpone Tartlets with Nectarine and Strawberry, or Guacahummus.)

Alyssa’s Avocado Adventure, Part 1: Brokaw Nursery

Stuff my lawyer made me say: Holy guacamole! The California Avocado Commission provided me free lodging, transportation, meals, and awesome avocado swag. I am not under any obligation to write or share about my trip.

Oh, avocados. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I was thrilled to be invited to the California Avocado Grove Tour last weekend with my friends from the California Avocado Commission. We’re in the heart of California Avocado season, and we celebrated this green-hued fruit with a delicious dinner at Salt in Calabasas on Friday night. We sampled delicious noms like Ruby Red Grapefruit and Avocado Salad, Kalua Pork and Avocado Egg Rolls, and my favorite, Short Rib with Avocado Smashed Potatoes. After our bellies were full, we headed to sleep, knowing that we’d be up early the next morning for an avo-amazing breakfast and on our way to our first stop, the Brokaw Nursery in Ventura, Calif.

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Those of you who’ve stuck with the DCD for awhile know that I’m a big ol’ plant nerd. I love digging in the dirt, smelling tomato vines, and planting pretty flowers around my front steps. When I found out we’d be seeing the growth process of avocado trees from their very start, I knew it would be right up my alley. Avocado trees were first planted in Ventura in 1871. During the next 100 years, growers planted avocado seeds and grafted the seedlings with clippings from avocado trees known to have good fruit. William “Hank” Brokaw was born in 1927, to a family of citrus and avocado growers. Initially a math teacher, in 1956 he borrowed $200 from his in-laws and planted 500 avocado seedlings in his backyard.

Connie grafts avocado trees, preparing for a new generation of delicious fruit-bearing goodness.

Connie grafts avocado trees, preparing for a new generation of delicious fruit-bearing goodness.

Brokaw spent 20 years refining a method of growing avocado trees. A clipping from a disease-resistant root is granted onto a seedling from an avocado seed. The plant is grown in the dark for a short period and the clipping grows roots. The original seedling dies, and the stem of the new plant is then grafted with a clipping from a tree with the variety of fruit desired. By the 1970’s, Brokaw’s method was practical, cost efficient, and catching on. Avocado production soared, and Brokaw is currently the state’s largest avocado tree grower. Brokaw has sold more than 10,000,000 avocado trees.

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California produces 90% of the nation’s avocado crop, and avocados are grown by hand on nearly 5,000 small family-owned farms. Most of the avocados in the state of California grow in Central and Southern California, where warm sunshine, rich soil, and cool coastal breezes result in strong trees and delicious fruit.

While at Brokaw Nursery, it was so cool to see the beginning stages of an avocado tree’s life cycle. As you can see from the pictures above, the sheer volume of seedlings, plants, and trees was simply amazing. Now that I had seen how avocado trees are made, it was time to see where these trees graduate to when they’re big enough: an avocado farm! Stay tuned for part two of my avocado adventure, where I share with your our wonderful lunch and grove tour from Rancho Rodoro.