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Candle Hill Farms

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Blog posts September 2016

I can't ride a bicycle any more either,,,,,,,,,,

September 30, 2016

Greetings!!

When posting on Facebook on Wednesday that I was going to finally get some time throwing on the wheel on Thursday I said I knew I was going to need some practice as it had been a very long time since I had thrown.  My loving and caring friends were very encouraging with comments like, "you will pick it back up in no time" and "you can do it, it's just like riding a bicycle".  I can't ride a bicycle any more either, LOL.

Yesterday was a comedy of errors on my part and very frustrating at times.  But if you know me, you know I am not a quitter.  I learned some lessons along the way as well.  First, fat people cannot throw pottery well on the wheel, the gut gets in the way.  Second, when you are having a gas build up day in your gut, step away from the wheel and come back another day.

I guess I better explain that second one, LOL.  Since my cancer surgery I have days where the gas builds up so much that my stomach sticks out even further.  Instead of looking like I am carrying triplets, (from being fat) I then look like I am carrying sextuplets!!  It presses against the diaphragm and I have a hard time breathing.  I drink baking soda and water in the mornings and that helps a lot, usually.  Yesterday it did not.

Third, never, ever, think you can throw on the wheel without the splash guard on!!  At least if you don't like making a mess with clay and water flying everywhere.  I try to keep my shop clean.  I really don't like a dirty shop.  I think that comes from being in so many ceramic shops that were just plain filthy.

What is wrong with this picture?  Aside from the fact that the clay really is not centered, the splash guard is not attached!!  Unfortunately I did not take a lot of pictures because most of the time my hands were covered in clay.  But I can say this,  after this shot, it was no longer pretty.  I very quickly learned just how messy it gets with no splash guard.

I had taken the splash guard off on Tuesday when I was setting up the Giffin Grip and cleaning and I could not get it to go back on.  I fought with it for over an hour and could not get it to fit right.  Yes, I got very frustrated and my hot temper showed.  Sure glad no one was here to hear it, LOL.  So after an hour or so, I gave up and thought, I'll just be careful, it shouldn't get too messy.  I should have put up warning lights and locked my cat out of the basement.  He is still walking around saying, "fricking meow, mom" LOL  Just kidding!!  It did get a bit messy though and required a mop and bucket, but lesson learned.

Ahhhh, yes, my nice clean splash guard is about to get muddy, LOL.  Took me another half hour but I finally got the splash guard on and locked in place.  It fits like it is supposed to.  Now I am tired, LOL.  But,,  you know me,,, I never quit.  Oh did I mention I had no sleep the night before, adding to the problems of yesterday?  I knew I should have gone back to bed instead of trying this,,, but,,,,, I never quit and these were my plans for the day.  Gosh, I am so stubborn!!

So, I started throwing and I thought OK, I am doing better than I thought I would.  But I would get the piece just so high and then have some problems.  Usually it was a finger getting caught up in the clay and wrecking the piece.  I could not figure out why that was happening.  It just did not make sense to me.  So,  I took a bit of a break and came up to the computer in the office and went to YouTube and watched a video about pulling a wall.  Ah-ha, I thought, as I watched the video, I had my hands on the wrong side of the piece so instead of working with the rotation of the clay I was working against it!!

I went back down to the shop and tried again. Yes, this is much better!!  But now, I am totally exhausted and my fibromyalgia is flared up with the rain.  I tried a couple of more things and then cleaned up for the day.  Win would be home from work before I knew it anyway, so this was a good stopping point for the day.

So, I actually have a couple of smaller pieces down there that I decided were keepers.  Today, I am going to use the Giffin Grip to trim those up.  I think the next time I go to throw on the wheel I won't have quite as many problems.  I have the splash guard on now, and I know where my hands need to be for pulling, LOL.  I am seriously afraid to try to ride a bike again after my experiences yesterday, I can't afford any injuries and besides, I don't think fat old ladies belong on bicycles, LOL.

I hope you enjoyed a good laugh with me!!  I would much rather laugh at the mistakes, enjoy the learning or I should say, re-learning process and keep moving forward than allow this to get me down.  As my brother Leon would say, "Laughter is a deadly weapon, it will kill what ails you".  Keep on laughing and have fun in life!!

Monday I will have pictures of the trimming on the Giffin Grip.  Have a great weekend!!

 

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An entrepreneur wears many hats,,,,,,,,,

September 28, 2016

Greetings!!

An entrepreneur wears many hats, especially in the beginning of their business when they cannot really afford to hire anyone to wear some of the hats for them.  I am one of those entrepreneurs, I wear all the hats in my business.

Yesterday I wore a couple of different hats.  One of student, because I am always trying to learn new things.  I do a lot of researching on line to learn new methods, design ideas and techniques.  I also wore the hat of advertiser and business promoter because of posts I made on Instagram, twitter and other areas online to promote my business. And finally yesterday, I wore the hat of handyman.  I assembled my new Giffin Grip for my wheel.  Not that it was very hard to do, but it still needed to be done.

Some of you might be asking, "what's a Giffin Grip"? It is named after the person who created it.  A Giffin Grip helps to center a throw object on the wheel to trim it and decorate it.  Without the Giffin Grip you can hope to get a thrown piece center and then stabled in place with raw pieces of clay and you might or might not be successful.  This guarantees you will be successful and be able to give your pieces a professional finish every time.

The Giffin Grip and be adjusted easily to accommodate any size piece from very large to small items.  There are also extensions for when you are working on tall pieces.  I am so happy I invested in this piece of equipment.  It will make life so much easier in the long run and save tons of time.

Tomorrow, the hat I wear will be that of potter.  I am so looking forward to it.  It has been a number of years since I have thrown on the wheel and I imagine I will need a little practice, especially since I am self taught and not trained.  I might try to shoot a little video while I am at it, but no promises.  I will also try to remember to take a few pictures to post.  Then again, this first time out in years might be a bit messy, so we shall see, LOL.

Until next time,,,,,,,,,,

 

 

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Computer work,,,,,,,,,,

September 24, 2016

Greetings!!

​I think everyone will agree, computer work, as in maintenance, is not fun work, but a necessary evil.  I hate doing this type of work and tend to procrastinate when it comes to organizing files and such.  But it needs to be done.  And I am in the process of going through files, deleting what I no longer need and saving what I want to keep to an external hard drive.  I tend to save a ton of files while working on genealogy.  I need to organize them in the worse way.

​I have tens of thousands of files on this computer.  Did I max it out?  Almost!!  Now going through them one at a time and deciding what to do with it is very time consuming.  Making myself a note to not wait so long the next time, LOL.

This is also good for security reasons and should be done more frequently.  If the files I want to keep are stored on an external hard drive they would be safe in case of a computer crash or a hacker.  And while I have been told it is a lot harder to hack into a Mac than a Windows based operating system I still do not want to take any chances.

On a regular basis everyone with a computer should clean their cache, delete history and cookies, run anti virus and malware cleaning programs.  These things are so important for the safety of your computer.  I really, strongly recommend people with Facebook to use a separate email account that NO ONE knows about and you use it for NOTHING else other than your Facebook login.  Also use a different password than you use anywhere else and that no one knows.  And I know you and Facebook will not like me saying this but for love of God, DO NOT repeating this, DO NOT connect your cell phone to Facebook in any way!!  Cell phones are the easiest way for someone to get in and hack your Facebook account.  I know, Facebook always asks for a cell phone number.  Just don't give it to them, they will stop asking eventually.

OK, so I hear ya, you want someone in your family to know how to log in to your accounts to close them out if something should happen to you.  I have a little book with lists of what to do after I am gone and that includes my account information for all my accounts online.  It is locked up in a safe along with other important papers.  The person designated to handle my estate knows where to find this safe and its contents when the time comes.

The internet is a very dangerous place these days.  It can do a lot of good but so many use it for pure evil, including stealing identities.  Protect yourself!!  By taking simple precautions to protect yourself and your information you are also protecting your friends and family from being attacked as well.  Did you know, if you have been hacked on Facebook and you just let it go thinking they will go away, you also cause everyone on your friend's list and in your email account to be vulnerable to being hacked as well?  I have deleted friends that I care dearly about because they were hacked and would not do anything about it and then could not understand why they were being hacked again.  I might procrastinate a bit a bout organizing saved files but never about security.  The internet is going to become more and more dangerous, please take the time to protect yourself and keep up on ways of blocking would be hackers and stalkers!!!

Until next time,,,,,,,,,,,,

 

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Another rug,,,,,,,,

September 22, 2016

Greetings!!

I have added another rug to the etsy shop and also the shop handmade store.  Yes, I am keeping busy!  I have a cream colored one in the works now but really need to take today off and get some laundry done and some other housecleaning.  Well, at least make an attempt at it, LOL.

     

This beauty is done in a charcoal gray and the three braids are a lighter gray.  It makes a great throw rug for just about any room at 29 inches across.  It is machine washable in cool to warm water and tumble dries on a low setting.  Children love to play on these rugs and even your pets will love them!!  Just $75.00 at either my etsy shop or at my shop handmade store.  Just click on one of the tabs above to go to the shop of your choice.  Thanks!!

     

​The picture on the left is the cream colored rug I have started.  It is coming along nicely.  The picture on the right is my "boss" "Faxon".  He is always checking on me to make sure I am doing a good job.  He tells me when it is quitting time as well.  :-)   My best buddy and companion!!!

Until next time,,,,,,,,,,

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Shop Handmade,,,,,,,,,,

September 19, 2016

Greetings!!

I am really excited!!  I found another craft site to sell my crafts on.  It is called ShopHandmade.com.  You can easily get to my shop by clicking on the tab above that says, "Shop Handmade".

I will have the same items for sale at both etsy.com and shophandmade.com so you can shop at either place.  It just means more exposure for me and my business.  At shophandmade.com you can only pay using PayPal and that might not be convenient for some people whereas at etsy.com you can use a credit card directly or use PayPal.  I also offer a third option,  you can contact me directly using the Email tab above and I can take a credit card using the Square credit card program.  I simply invoice you and you pay safely and securely through Square.  Shopping with me could not be easier!!

​I do not have the shophandmade.com completely set up.  I still have a lot of items to add, but it will get there.  I am excited about it and hope it does well.

For those of you that are crafters looking for places to sell your handmade crafts I highly recommend both of these places.  They each have their good and bad points but each are worth the effort you need to put in.  etsy.com has a minimal fee of just 20 cents an ad for 3 months at a time and you have to really work to get noticed, often buying additional advertising to get brought to the front page so folks know you are there.  It is longer established than shophandmade.com and is high up on google search engines.

shophandmade.com is free to the crafter.  There are no fees whatsoever at this time.  Update and add new items and you are automatically on the front page for at least a day if not longer.  It is a much newer site and is not near the top of the google search engine yet.  You have the opportunity to grow with the site and it is not costing you to do so.  Crafters can help promote the site by writing about it on their blogs and posting about it on Facebook, which is what I intend to do.  Free exposure will help to move the site up to the top of google search.  So crafters should do their part, which can all be done for free.  When you are a new business,  doing as much as you can for free is really important.

I intend to add just a few of my items every couple of days because that activity will keep me on the front page a little longer and that will let people know I am there.

You may notice I have added an "Email Me" tab at the top of the page.  I am trying to make it easier for my customers to be able to reach me easily.  You won't have to hunt around for an email button any more, just click on the tab and the email will open up for you.

Until next time,,,,,,,

 

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Prepping,,,,,,,,,,,,

September 16, 2016

Greetings!!

No, not "prepping" as in preparing for something bad to happen but prepping work, LOL.  Sorry if I confused anyone with my title of this blog post.

The thing with making hand crafted items to sell is if a person does not make any crafts, and believe it or not, there are people in the world who don't, chances are pretty good they have no idea what goes in to preparing to make a particular craft.  Yesterday, I spent the day "prepping" yarn.  I spent about several  hours just winding yarn into balls.  I do this for two reasons.  One, I want to make sure there are no tangled messes in the middle of the skein of yarn, which I have found on more than one occasion.  Not fun trying to untangle that when you have a crochet project attached!  The other reason is I can crochet much faster if the yarn is unwinding from a ball of yarn rather than having to constantly stop and flip the skein around to pull more yarn off.  And in business, time is money!!

     

On the left, just starting for the day, on the right, down to the last tree skeins to wind.

This is a rack that I keep my yarn in.  There are actually 4 baskets but I could not fit them all in the picture.  I wound close to 20 skeins of yarn yesterday getting them prepped for making rugs.  Now I am ready to go into epic crochet mode, LOL.

When you buy from a home crafter, please understand, to them, this is a real business.  They are in it to make money and lucky enough to be doing something they love.  Please support small business and remember it is a real business and not something that should be treated as anything less.

Until next time,,,,,

 

 

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Now available,,,,,,,,,,

September 14, 2016

Greetings!!

I am finally getting a couple of rugs posted in the etsy shop and they are now available.  I was hoping to have more done to post at the same time but,,,, well life happens and it didn't so I went ahead and got these posted.  I am going to be prepping yarn and fabric today for more rugs.  I like to wind the yarn into balls.  I think it makes the crocheting go by faster and also makes sure I do not have any big tangled messes in the middle of the skein which has happened from time to time.

     

Same rug, just slightly different angle and light,  This is a white with royal blue crocheted yarn rug.  It measures about 29 inches across.  It is available in my etsy shop for $75.  For more information click on the tab above that says, "Shop at Etsy".

     

This rug is made with mill end fabrics in a cotton/poly blend.  It is approximately 36 inches long and 22 inches wide.  All ends are sewn together rather than tied, so no big knots!  It is available in my etsy shop for $45.  For more info just click on the tab above to go straight to my etsy shop.  It will open in a new window for your convenience.

Enjoy free shipping on all orders now through December 31st.  I ship using only the USPS and in the US only.

 

Until next time,,,,,,,

 

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My shop,,,,,,,,,,,,

September 9, 2016

Greetings!!

Today I thought I would show you some pictures of my ceramic shop in my basement.  You will see there is still an area that needs cleaning and organizing but it is getting there quite nicely.  I still plan to pour molds again but there is a bit of a delay and it probably won't start until next year.  A huge disappointment to me but as I said in a previous post, "everything happens for a reason".  I accept that and am looking to other things this year.  I certainly have enough to keep me busy in the meantime.  There is still cleaning and organizing to do.  I have a shipment of yarn coming today for my crocheted yarn rugs that I make.  I have fabric for rag rugs.  I have not started on my polymer clay beads and jewelry yet or the soap making.  I have at least 3 boxes of supplies for soap making to sort through and then work on.  Plus I still have a ton of ceramics already fired and waiting for me to paint and decorate it.

This is the last area that I have left to clean and organize yet.  Actually it was not that bad until I was cleaning the other areas and things I knew I had to keep got shoved in here, LOL.  Now it is a matter of organizing them and finding them a home.

     

The picture on the left is where I throw pottery.  The one on the right is just one shelving unit with ceramic molds that get poured.

     

Just a few more shelving units of molds, LOL  Next we will get into the actual pouring area where there are,,,,,,,,, more molds, LOL.

     

​That basket that is hanging in the corner in the picture on the left is not just to have something pretty hanging around, LOL.  It holds a bunch of huge rubber bands that help to hold the molds together

Believe it or not, even after all these years I do know what most of the molds are and where they are in this maze of mold-mainium, LOL  I have a lot of utilitarian Kitchen ware.  Mixing bowls, canister sets, etc.  I have a lot of the various Christmas Village Buildings in both N gauge and HO gauge size buildings.  I have some holiday molds, mostly Christmas.  I have a lot of Native American and South West molds too.

Some of these molds you would be hard pressed to find today.  So many mold companies either went out of business or were bought out by other companies.  The ceramics industry has changed dramatically over the years since I was very active in it.  I need to make some changes to be competitive in today's market.  But hey, I am flexible that way, LOL.

I forgot to take pictures of my kilns, so I will try to remember to do that another day.

Until next time,,,,,,,,

 

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Everything happens for a reason,,,,,,,,,,

September 7, 2016

Greetings!!

Sometimes it is very hard to believe or understand but "everything happens for a reason".  Most of the time we do not understand why when it is happening and that is very frustrating.  Sometimes we never really know why it happened.  That is when faith really needs to kick in and take over so we can accept what happened and move on.  Sometimes, what happened is really tragic and more often than not it is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things but was very important to us.  Either way, we need to understand that there is a reason behind everything and trust in God's "Process".  Truly trusting in God is the most important thing we can do for ourselves.  It also happens to be the hardest.

I have really wanted to start pouring molds this month.  Went so far as to have a start date of September 15th.  Been working towards that goal and really looking forward to it.  Well, it is not going to happen.  Not this year anyway.  The price of slip has shot up so high I cannot afford it right now.  I would not be able to keep prices reasonable and still make any profit.  And this is a business.  I do need to make a profit.

​So, after spending the first hour very frustrated and upset I stepped back and thought about it.  Then I dug in my heels and did some research.  First, I still have a ton of bisque I can finish up and sell.  Plus I have the rugs and other crafts I have been working on.  I found I can actually cut the cost of slip by at least half if I mix it myself.  So, I just need to save up to buy a slip mixer and my first load of dry ingredients so I can make my own slip.  I am all for that.  I can keep the slip at the consistency I want and not watered down too much, which is not good for the molds.  In the long run it will increase my profit margin by about 200 % compared to buying the slip already made.  Those are numbers even Marcus Lemonis would like, LOL.  I can also keep the slip fresher by making it as I need it which will keep the quality of the ceramics top of the line.  And, very important to me, I won't have to drive up north to Chicago to pick it up in the winter time.  I'm all for that!!

Years ago, small shops never made their own slip.  They bought from a nearby distributor.  But times have changed.  Distributors are far and few between.  Not as many small shops are in business, or if they are, they sell bisque and do not pour their own molds.  I want to be their bisque supplier, but it will not be happening this year.  That's OK.  I have plenty to do to keep me busy until I save up enough money to buy the slip mixer and the dry ingredients to get started. 

So, I did not go down and work on cleaning the pouring table yesterday as I was making tons of phone calls and researching.  But I did manage to get the gray rug completely finished.  The lady that is buying it, loves it.  We are both happy campers!!

Until next time,,,,,,,

 

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Back to work,,,,,,,,,,

September 6, 2016

Greetings!!

​I wish I could say I really rested as planned over the holiday weekend, but I found I just could't lay still and "be lazy" when I knew there was work to be done.  I did rest a little bit but no where near what I wanted to or had planned to.  And that is OK, I am much happier keeping busy and working toward my goals.

So, over the weekend we got another load of "stuff" out and actually got the pouring table and area around it cleaned out and organized.  I am so happy about that as we plan to go get slip and start pouring molds in the very near future.  Today I plan to scrub out the pouring table and tank and make it shiny clean like it is brand new.  I have to be down in the basement doing laundry any way so it is a good time to do that.  Don't worry, I will take pictures, LOL.

I also managed to get most of the gray rug done.  I just have to weave in the orange braid this afternoon and it will be finished and ready to be packaged up and shipped.  Yup, this pretty baby is sold!

     

I really love this pattern it works up nicely and there is so much you can do with it.  I will weave in orange braids much like the blue ones on the white rug.

These rugs can be done in many different color combinations or just one color and will sell for $75.00 at my etsy shop with free shipping!  I don't have it posted yet.  I need to take better pictures and was hoping to get some more done first.    They are machine washable in cold to warm water, no bleach.  And machine dry on a low setting.

Until next time,,,,,,

 

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End of the week brain dump,,,,,,,

September 2, 2016

Greetings!!

It's Friday,  Thank God, it's Friday!!  I am taking the weekend off.  No work, no cooking, no thinking, just relaxing and maybe reading a book or two.  I don't plan on getting out of bed much the entire weekend or getting dressed.  So please don't stop by, LOL.  Seriously, it has been a very busy couple of months for me and I find I need to take a rest break and recharge a bit.

Not only has it been physically challenging working on the shop in the basement, cleaning up and throwing out to make room for new.  But it has been mentally challenging as well.  I have learned how to post on instagram, pin on pinterest, written blogs, re-worked the web site and fine tuned my etsy shop.  Now I am finding I need to learn how to tweet on twitter and start writing with #s and @s.  Ugh, whatever happened to the day when you started a business you just hung out the open sign?  LOL

If you are like me you spend almost as much time promoting the products as you do making them.  In the beginning it seems very hard.  Not many view you as a real business and some will try to take advantage of that, but stick to your guns, be professional and don't get desperate even though you might feel like that from time to time.  I have learned I have to make myself a schedule and stick to it as close as possible.  Not that I get distracted by anything else, I am very focused on my business but I don't want to spend so much time in one day on one thing and not get anything else done.  For example, I am usually up very early so I have allotted the time I am up before breakfast to be my computer work time.  Write the blog, add any updates to the etsy shop, post in Facebook, that sort of thing.  As for instagram and pinterest, that seems to happen throughout the day.  As I have pictures to post or pin I do it immediately.  That seems to take only a couple of minutes and keeps me active on those venues.  Now I have to add twitter to the mix, LOL.

My quitting time for the day has been running around 5 pm but that makes for a 12 hour + day for me. Typically my last hour or two of the day is posting new listings on etsy when I have them, otherwise it is reviewing computer work or doing the necessary business paper work.  There is always something to do besides making product.  And of course, making product to sell is really important too.  That fills up the middle part of the day, from just after breakfast (around 7am) till about 3 or 4 in the afternoon.

If you are a crafter who is trying to turn it into a business, don't sell yourself short.  You deserve to make some money for your time.  You need to "pay yourself" an hourly wage.  Figure out how much time you have working on each piece you sell and figure that time into your final price.  It might take a while before you "get paid" but it will be well worth it in the end.

​Today I am working on a #crochetedrug which will be available @candlehillfarms.  Yup, I need practice on that, LOL.

Until next time,,,,,,,,,,

 

 

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What a productive day,,,,,,,,

September 1, 2016

Greetings!!

What a productive day yesterday was!!  Win and I worked in the basement the first half of the day and boy did we get a lot done!  I now have a packaging/shipping area set up.  This will make things easier to get ready to send to my wonderful customers.

I have a variety of bubble wrap, packing noodles and various sizes of shipping boxes for both priority and regular mail.  Just out of view is a table to package things up on.  I also have a USPS postage scale and of course computer and printer to take care of labels.

This is just some of the bisque I have ready for me to glaze and fire.  Canisters, mugs, cookie jars, pitchers and more.  I should be very busy for a long time, LOL.  I will also be pouring molds again soon and plain to add on a "You Paint" section on my etsy.com shop.  I plan to start that about the middle of September if all goes well.

​Last but not least, I did manage to get the rug finished that I was working on and posted about yesterday.  I think it came out beautiful!  It is approximately 28 inches across.  I need to get better pictures of it and then I will get it added to the etsy.com shop.

Yesterday we spent the first half of the day cleaning and organizing in the shop.  It is amazing how much "stuff" we accumulated in the 30 years we have lived here.  We did a lot of purging yesterday of unnecessary things.  It felt good!  We have been doing a little each week for a while now.  I am definitely streamlining the shop.  It will be a well planned and executed process by the time I am done.

​I still have a few things to go through yet but we are nearing the finish line.  There are a few boxes of things that were piled onto the pouring table that I will go through.  Most of which will probably be thrown out.  And then part of my work area where I paint and get things ready for the kiln needs to be gone through.  I have my pottery wheel and throwing area set up, my shipping area is now set up and my bisque is being gone through and organized.  I plan to head north by the 15th of September to buy my first load of slip and get ready to pour molds again.  I think we are right on schedule to do that.  I am a happy camper.  Life is good and I am really enjoying myself.  Don't worry, there will be more pictures to come as we progress, LOL.

I do plan to take both Saturday and Sunday off and rest and recharge so I can hit the floor running next week.  On one hand I hate taking time off but on the other, I need to do this or I will crash and burn bad.  So, I plan on spending the weekend reading a book and not thinking about business or anything in particular and give both my mind and body a much needed break.  I hope you have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend!!

Until next time,,,,,,,

 

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