No Facebook, I Do NOT Like This

Like millions of other small businesses, I have a Facebook page for my little Etsy shop which I use to showcase and yes, promote my business. What else is a business page for?   But I just stumbled upon this info on my personal FB newsfeed -

 

“Facebook recently dropped a bombshell concerning business pages and promotional posts.

What does this mean for your business?

If you currently promote your store, products or services on Facebook (and what dedicated business owner doesn’t?), your business page will be able to reach fewer Facebook users than ever before.

What does Facebook consider promotional posts from businesses?

Posts that promote products or services (“Check out our new arrivals,” “Don’t miss our sidewalk sale, today only,” “Grab this look for only $50,” etc.)

Posts that encourage Facebook users to Like, Share or Comment to enter to win something

Posts that are created with the intention of getting Facebook users to purchase from you

Why the change? Here’s what Facebook had to say:

“As part of an ongoing survey we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they
feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see
more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional
content.”

And thus, Facebook announced a change that will allow less – and eventually zero – of your promotional posts to be visible to your customers.”

(via Retail Marketing Acadamy)

 

 

What? None of our promotional posts will be visible?  Why?

I can see people not wanting ads and links to buy stuff constantly on their news feed, but to solve that problem all they need to do is not like any business’s page.  I would like to think that the people who chose to like my page are perfectly ok with the fact that they might see some promotions.  That may even by WHY they liked my page in the first place, so they could see new items I have created, because hey, they might just want to buy them.  If they’re sick of it, they can just hide or unlike my page.  Facebook needs to leave this alone and let us users decide on what content we get, not them.

This is yet another disappointing move by Facebook, right up there with making businesses pay to have more of their own fans see their posts, or get more likes.  Um, no.

Now I know the skeptics might be saying the this Retail Marketing Academy is just trying to drum up some business by scaring us page managers, but let me tell you that I have seen a significant drop in the amount of reach in each of my posts the past couple weeks.  I’m talking 12 people saw a post compared to 100 last month.  That’s why this caught my eye.  I had been wondering what the heck was going on with Facebook lately.

So what now?  I guess it’s time to really figure out the ways of Instagram and Twitter, until they turn into the next Facebook that is.  Ugh.

Thanks for listening to my rant.  What do you think?  Don’t businesses have a right to promote?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Until Next Time,

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Butterscotch Popcorn with White Chocolate Drizzle

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Since my discovery of the deliciousness of Butterbeer, I must say I have become quite obessed with all things butterscotch.  And after creating a wildly popular butterbeer ice cream recipe, I decide to give it a whirl again.  This time putting the essence of butterbeer into a delicious popcorn treat.

A word of warning before we begin, this stuff is freaking addicting.  It is so gosh darn yummy, before you realize it, you’ll have eaten the entire batch.  So you may want to plan some extra work out time before making this.

Oh, and it’s also gluten free, win win!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Popcorn: 1 cup popcorn kernels, popped, or about 16 cups popcorn.  ( I didn’t measure the popped popcorn, so this is a bit of a guesstimate )

Butterscotch Sauce:

1 cup dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp water

6 Tbsp butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cider vinegar

1/2 tsp imitation rum extract

1 tsp baking soda

Drizzle:

2 cups white chocolate chips

2 tbsps shortening

 

Start by making the butterscotch sauce.  This is a 3 step process.

Step 1:

Combine brown sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan.  Heat over low-medium heat until temperature reaches 240° on a candy thermometer, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and add butter, cream, salt and vinegar. Stir until fully combined.

Step 2:

Allow to cool down to 100° or less, and then add rum extract and stir.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 200° and pop the popcorn.  Divide popcorn into two very large bowls for mixing.

Step 3:

Heat sauce to just boiling over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in baking soda.  The baking soda creates a fluffier sauce that is easier to mix with the popcorn.

Mix half of the sauce with each half of the popcorn, coating well.

Place popcorn into roasting pan(s) or any deeper pan(s) you may have.  I used a 13 x 9 baking dish and a huge round deep dish pizza pan.

Bake for about 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes until sauce becomes crispy on popcorn.  Place on waxed paper to cool.

 

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Once popcorn is fully cooled, you can add the drizzle.  Melt the chocolate by combining chips and shortening in a microwave safe bowl.  Cook on high for 45 seconds, stir and cook again at 20 second intervals until fully melted.  Place melted white chocolate in a ziploc bag and cut off a corner to release or use a frosting bag with a narrow tip.  Drizzle over popcorn as desired.  Allow to cool 15-30 minutes.  Place popcorn in an airtight container for up to a week.

And there you have it, the perfect, most delicious treat for holidays, parties, or anytime!  

Enjoy!

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Printable Recipe Here

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Out With the Old, In With the New

After losing a good chunk of my inventory in my Etsy shop (see my previous post for why) I have been equal parts completely bummed, and very excited.

On one hand, there went my best selling items.  But on the other hand, here came to opportunity to reinvent my shop.  To create brand new and exctiting items I had been putting on the back burner because I had no free time.  That’s not a problem now and I have been quite busy building up a new and diverse inventory of handmade goodies.

Check out my shop for all the new stuff!

Here’s a few of my favorites:

A gorgeous wreath perfect for the holidays and all winter long.

 

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A glow in the dark night sky pillow cover.  This is how it looks in the daylight.

 

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And this is how it looks in the dark.  How awesome is that?

 

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And last but not least, my favorite new jewelry piece.  What can I say, I just have a thing for snakes ;)

 

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Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!  Check out these and so many more treasures at my Etsy shop today!

 

Happy Holidays,

 

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Pushing the Restart Button

Every now and then, you just know it’s time for a change.  Maybe it’s a feeling you can’t shake, a new business idea, an event that makes you look at the world differently, or as it was in my case, a stern warning letter about copyright infringement.

I know, I know, I had this coming right?  Running an Etsy shop with a large inventory of “Harry Potter Inspired” items was just asking for trouble.

It’s not that I didn’t know I was walking on thin ice.  I suppose I never really thought they would care, I guess.  Figuring I was too small in the scheme of things to matter.  But my business was booming, and the wrong person took notice.  Or the right person, depending on who you ask.  I’d like to think that they actually saw me as a threat.  As someone who was creating popular fan merchandise that was better than the merchandise they offered.  That makes me feel a little better.  

Of course, I don’t own anything associated with the Harry Potter franchise.  No names, images, wand designs, whatever.  I never claimed to.  I just took something I loved, and created items that reminded me of that.  With my only intention being to share my creativity with other fans.  I didn’t create anything that was just like an “official” item.  I tried to do it my own way, with my own interpretation of the series.  I know so many other Etsy sellers will preach to artists like me {and there are A LOT of us} that we should just “create our own items, and stop stealing ideas”.  But I don’t see it that way.  While Harry Potter may have served as an inspiration to many of my creations, they were still uniquely my designs.  I don’t see how this is any different than simply being inspired by a pendant or silk flower.   Etsy is full of very similar jewelry pieces, wreaths, etc., all created by different artists.  Especially if a style is a current trend.  How does creating an item based on something popular or well known make it not your own creation?  

Still, I know I made mistakes, especially in my marketing.  In the end, it wasn’t necessarily my items that were a problem, it was that I used the name to sell it.  I naively thought just calling my items “inspired-by” or putting a “this is not a licensed product” would work, but it was not to be.

I must admit to being quite bummed.  I stand to lose a great deal of my business for who knows how long and have to essentially start over with building my fan base.  I’m also mad.  Why just me?  What about the hundreds of other Etsy sellers doing the exact same thing?  I have to say I have entertained the thought of reporting many of these shops so that they will not benefit from my loss, but I don’t want to be that person.  I’ll just hope it’s only a matter of time before they are all in the same boat.  If you’re going to make a stand Warner Brothers, you better go all out.

I know getting even with my competition will not help me in the end, so I want to turn this into an opportunity to reinvent my brand.  To build a new business that isn’t so heavily focused on one thing.  I have a million ideas right now for beautiful and unique creations.  I need to start making those the focus of my shop.  And hey, now I have the time to do that.  Thanks, WB.

A couple weeks before that fateful email, I was running myself ragged trying to keep up with my orders.  I considered it a good problem to have, but I was missing out on many simple things in life I had put to the back burner.  I was telling my youngest I didn’t have time to play with him.  And going out with friends, forget it, I was too busy for that.  Not to mention the neglect this poor blog of mine was getting.  I really wanted to have fun with this, but again, there just wasn’t enough time.  My shop that started so small was turning into a full time job, and that’s not what I wanted, not yet anyway.  But, greed would often win out, and I would bask in the joy of making well over a 1,000 sales and being quite a success, by Etsy standards.  Still, there were days, more often than not lately, when I would miss parts of the life I once had. 

And I really missed the joy of creating something new.  Of going out, and being inspired by a pendant, or fabric, or anything that would get my creative juices going, so I could go home and do what I loved so much.  Instead, I was in a rut, making the same items over and over, and not really having any fun at all.

Now I’ve always been one to believe in the notion that everything happens for a reason.  And it seems this experience right now is one of those moments.  With the arrival of that dreaded notice, I was forced to remove all those items that were infringing, losing a good chunk of my business and shop listings, but at the same time, I was suddenly thrust into the very thing I was wanting back.

Having learned a great deal from this experience, and having 2 years of running a successful Etsy shop behind me, I can essentially start over.  Only this time I know what I am doing.  I know how to get that success back.  And having a shop that is successful in the eyes of a buyer should only help me to rebuild quickly.  I have to say, I’m actually kind of excited.

It can be all brand new again.  I get to brainstorm and create and bring to life all the new things I haven’t had the time to make.  I will have more free time.  I can be a better mom again.  And a better friend.  I can stop thinking day and night about filling orders.  I have a chance to make this what I dreamed it would be.  Something just for me, a little side business that was only supposed be a part time job doing what I love more than anything.

Will I still inject a bit of fairy tale and magic into my creations?  Of course!  But they will be all mine.  Each and every one of them.  Warner Brothers doesn’t own magic, so I will just have to make a little of my own. And it will be so much fun to see these creations become as well loved as my former HP themed ones. I hope that one day someone will see something I’ve made and know that’s a Sweet Silly Chic piece, because they will all have an unmistakable personality.

And if it takes off as great as before, and still turns into a full time job, I might just be okay with that. As long as I promise to myself to not let go of what is truly important.

Sometimes the universe gives you a strong push in the direction you are truly meant to go.  So that’s where I’m going.  And it will be awesome.

Despite this, I will ALWAYS love Harry Potter.  It is one of the most amazing and inspiring stories I have ever read, and it has touched my heart too deeply to let it go because of this trouble.  I can’t blame them, it is their right, and I was pushing the limits of what I liked to call creative license.

I want to extend a huge thank you to all my fans who have made these past 2 years unforgettable.  It has changed my life, and I am grateful to have touched the lives of so many fellow Potterheads.  I have no regrets.  It was one hell of a ride.

I hope you will all keep visiting my shop, liking  my Facebook page and keep following me here.  I think you are going to love my new creations!

There is no better way to close this post than with one of my favorite HP quotes – “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

And that is exactly what I am going to do.

Lumos!

 

To a new beginning,

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Quick Update

Yes, I’m still here.  

Sorry I have not been posting lately.  Between being busy, a tragic loss in our family and some behind the scenes issues with this page, there hasn’t been much opportunity to write.

I promise to be back to writing very soon with updates on my newest creations, some delicious fall recipies and the story of our family’s loss.

Please check back soon.

 

 

Until Then,

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A Brand New Wand

Of all the items I create for my Etsy shop, my wands are my absolute favorite things to make.  I love watching the transition from raw materials to finished product.  How something that starts out looking downright awful, turns into a true work of art.  You may not believe it, but a mess like this:

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ends up looking like this:

 

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Now, most all the wands I sell are ones I slowly, carefully figured out how to make, and remake if necessary, until they looked perfect.  Then I would list them.  That way I knew exactly how to make it.  But, my ambitious side tells all my potential customers that if they want a wand that I don’t have listed, that I can still make it for them.  A custom wand, if you will.  Now, I love getting custom requests for wands, twice it has resulted in a new wand I am then anxious to list.  Case in point, these two:

 

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But I must admit that when one of these requests rolls in, I am more than a little terrified.  What if it takes longer than I say it will?  What if I really can’t make it look good?  I know I shouldn’t doubt my skills, as they have always proved to be more than good enough :), yet I still have that nagging fear.

So when one of these such requests came in about a month ago, I was equally excited and terrified.  This time it was for the wand of Sirius Black.  It is a relatively simple design, if you don’t count the intricate runes that are carved into nearly the entire surface of the wand.  I had actually made a Sirius wand before, when my family put on our Harry Potter play, but that time I just drew the design with a sharpie.  And that was so not going to fly in this case.  That one was not good enough to sell.

So I replied sure, I can make that.  I set up the custom order, and then started to panic.  Just a little.  A trip to Hobby Lobby and a purchase of a small, battery operated engraving pen later, and I was feeling much better.  It took nearly 3 weeks to work out all the kinks and get it perfect, but I loved the result.  The engraver was easier than I thought and now I have a new wand to offer at my shop.  And to top it all off, I got a 5 star review on the original Sirius wand, with a mention of my great craftmanship.  Phew, and yay, thank you so much!!  Here it is-

 

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I love designing and creating new wands for my shop.  It is very therapeutic to me when I am knee deep in creating a wand.  Just the smell of the wood is relaxing to me.   I’m weird, I know.  I really want to add more wands to my shop, but never know which characters’ are in demand.  Any ideas?  Who’s would you like to have in a real, all* wood,  just like the real thing would be wand?  I’d love some suggestions.

{ * I strive for all wood, but some wands include a non wood element crucial to their design.}

Want me to make a wand for you?  Sure!  Just hop on over to my shop and check out my entire collection. Or request a custom made wand.  I can do it, no matter how nervous I may be.

 

Until Next Time,

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Toasted Coconut Ice Cream – Gluten Free!

 

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If you’ve never tried making your own ice cream, you have to start, like, right now.  It’s a million times better than anything you can buy in the supermarket.  And the flavors are unlimited.  Ever since I bought my ice cream maker last year, creating new ice cream flavors has become one of my favorite hobbies.  I have this ice cream maker and LOVE IT.

This one comes from my obsession with coconut.  If it has coconut in it, I want it.  Cookies, cakes, candy, sparkling water, anything.   So of course,  I had to create the ultimate coconut ice cream.  And I must say, I think I have succeeded.  It is rich, creamy, and bursting with coconut flavor.  And as an added bonus, it’s gluten free.  Which is good since I recently decided to start a gluten free diet.  Let me tell you how awesome it is that many kinds of ice cream and chocolate just happen to be gluten free.   For someone with a sweet tooth like me, this makes the transition that much easier.  And being homemade means you know exactly what is going into your ice cream.  

So, how do you make this awesome ice cream? 

Before we get there, I need to share one point – I have found that homemade ice cream turns out way better when prepared in small batches.  If you want more, I highly recommend making it one pint at a time.  It will certainly not be bad made as a larger batch, but I do feel it tastes better made as a pint instead of a quart.

To make this amazing Toasted Coconut Ice Cream you will need {for about 1 pint}:

1/2 cup Vanilla Coconut Milk {I buy mine at Trader Joe’s}

1/4 + 1/8 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon imitation coconut extract

pinch of salt

1/2 cup toasted sweetened, shredded coconut {I use Baker’s Angel Flake}

Start by whisking together the milk, sugar and salt in a medium bowl until sugar and salt are dissolved, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the cream and coconut extract and mix to combine.  Cover bowl with foil and place in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Meanwhile, toast your coconut by spreading out some sweetened, shredded coconut on a baking sheet and baking in a 350 degree oven for 7- 10 minutes.  Be sure to toss your coconut every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. It should look like this when it’s done:

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Set aside to cool.  And try not to eat it all while you are waiting.

Next, mix your cooled toasted coconut into the cooled ice cream base and place into your ice cream maker for 15 – 20 minutes.

The ice cream will be very soft at this point.  Transfer the ice cream to an air tight container to firm up, it should perfect in 3-4 hours. Store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

The combination of the creamy coconut base with the added flavor of the toasted coconut makes this ice cream a coconut lovers dream.  The perfect treat for a hot summers day.  Cone it, bowl it, or eat it right out of the container, either way you are going to love this ice cream!  

Now, what flavor to create next?….

 

Happy Summer,

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Of All the Things I Still Remember..

Summer’s never looked the same.

Sound familiar?  Those are some of the lyrics to one of my absolute favorite songs {Daughtry’s “September”}.

But is there anything more true?  You grow up, get resposibilities, and suddenly it’s just another season.  The only thing that changes is the weather.

I used to love the carefree days of summer.  Those days so long ago {aka the 80s and 90s} where we’d just hang out in the neighborhood, with all our friends, just doing whatever.  And maybe, sometimes, our parents would take a picture.

And you know who would see those pictures?  Our parents, and those of us who were in them.

That’s the kind of summer I’d love to give my kids.  Just fun times, hanging out with friends, making memories, enjoying the long days, which, by the way, I will not be sharing every moment of with all my Facebook “friends”.

Of course, judging by my news feed, I am by far in the minority with this.  And it must appear to my friends that my kids are having the most boring summer ever.  You know, since I’m not constantly posting a picture, or video, or a daily essay telling the world the wonderful summer day we enjoyed together.   Seriously, no matter what anyone else may say, I will never believe that 200+ people need to know what I am doing every single day.  And my kids are having a great summer, thank you very much.

Yes, I do post.  Sometimes.  Birthdays, holidays, the occasional day I feel the need to be validated on Facebook, lol.  Oh, and of course any time I have a great shot of my husband in a ridiculous wig.   Some days I long for the social media free world I grew up in.

I think about it every time one of my kids asks me not to post something about them.  Mostly my oldest.  He’s 12, and in middle school.  I get it, so I listen, most of the time ;)

I am so thankful my middle school and high school days live only in the minds of those who lived them with me.   Dear lord if my mom had the ability to share every moment I was crabby, or put a picture of my new haircuts, braces, whatever.   I would have hated it.   Hated it.  Trust me, I’m glad my mom still isn’t on Facebook.  

I’m even thankful that there are so many memories I’ve made with my family and friends more recently, that are just for us.  It makes them more meaningful.  They are our private jokes, they are what makes us laugh, cry, and what bring us closer together.  They don’t need to be for anyone else.

I may be an under-sharer, but I’m proud of that.  Let everyone else share every detail of their lives.  Sure, I’ll be looking ,  just don’t wait for me to join in.  I am however, contemplating starting to figure out the world of Twitter and therefore subject the world to my random thoughts of the day.  I will first need to get past the overly self conscious part of myself that still thinks that is not a good idea.

My one exception so far in my under sharing ways has been my business Facebook page.  There I love sharing it all, and by all I mean everything related to my shop, with anyone and everyone, but that’s different to me.  I want the world to see my work, I don’t need them to be a part of my family.

What are your thoughts on the world of social media in your life?  Are you like me, or do you love to share it all?  Should I get over myself and start sharing more, or do I have it right already?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Happy Summer!

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Welcome Back!

Yea, that’s just me welcoming myself back to my blog.   You know, since I haven’t written in, well, forever. :)

I suppose I could have filled the gap with short posts about my everyday life.  But, I can’t bring myself to think that might be interesting for anyone else except me.  I’m an insecure online sharer, that’s for sure.  Maybe someday, maybe someday.

I will, however, write endlessly about my creations.  I love that.  They are awesome, of course, and quite possibly the most interesting thing I do everyday, lol.

And lately, I’ve been going crazy creating and listing new items.

First, I went on a wreath kick, and made all these gorgeous wreaths.  The red white and blue one is my favorite.

 

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I also made some new jewelry pieces.  I always keep one of each of my jewelry items for myself {free advertising!}, and out of all these new items, the little star necklace is the one I find myself wearing all the time.  Not that I don’t love it all, but that little star goes with everything.

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And last, but certainly not least, I added some wonderful new Harry Potter themed items.  Love, love, love all of these.  That 3 star ring is adorable, and the bracelets are so cool!  My absolute favorite is the St. Mungo’s necklace {first photo}.  That was designed after an amazing customer reached out to me with the idea.  It took me nearly 3 months to get perfect, but I am in love with the result.  It’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve made. Ever.

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So there you have it.  Evidence of what I’ve been doing, besides blogging :)  Hope you love these as much as I do.   All these items and more can be found at my shop.  Thanks for visiting.  Come back soon.  Oh, and I’ll try to conquer my fears and start blogging about anything and everything.   Maybe.

 

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Going Green, Again

 

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Just before starting my Etsy shop, I started another business.  I joined my then next door neighbors awesome team, Project Dream, and became a Shaklee distributor.

I did it because I love the products and loved their dedication to making their products safe, green and reliable.  So I wanted to share them with everyone I knew.

To get going, I had a grand opening party, and spread the word.

But it didn’t explode like I thought it would.  What I mean is, everyone I know didn’t just start buying a ton of stuff.

Yes, I thought it would be that easy.  I mean, that is all my neighbor did, right?  Knowing what I know now, I realize just how much work she put into growing her business.  It was and still is way more than I had first imagined.

About six months in, I was bummed out by the lack of instant success I was having.  And for sure, I was very distracted by focusing on my passion, aka, my Etsy shop, so I put Shaklee on the back burner.  I even stopped my website for a few months.

Being and doing creative things is truly my passion, and nothing was going to deter me from making my Etsy business a success.  I stuck it out, through some slow and tough times, but then it happened.   All my time and effort paid off, and I have met and even surpassed the goal I set for myself when I opened my shop.  I absolutely love having my shop and can’t wait to grow my business even more.

And I want to do the same for my Shaklee business.   I use and love their products every day.  From vitamins to laundry detergent, I couldn’t imagine my life without them.  My home and my family is healthier because of them.  It’s amazing what a difference no chemicals can make.  That is why I have been feeling re-inspired to start sharing Shaklee again.

In the coming months, I will be sharing all the amazing things Shaklee products can do.  And I hope you will try them for yourself and love them too.  I guarantee they will change your life forever.

Let’s go green together!

Click the Shaklee shop button on the sidebar to change your life.

And feel free to contact me here or on Facebook any time with any questions!

 

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