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Beat The Flu and Keep Away The Vampires!

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Posted by Judy Moon

Since there are still some colds, flus and viruses floating around here in Philadelphia, I thought I would share a recipe that I received from my sweet sister in law who is a hospice nurse. I am not sure of the original source of this recipe, so thank you to whoever came up with it.

My husband Joe was recently down for the count and I pulled this baby out of the recipe file and was not disappointed.

It was quick, simple, smelled divine, made my hubby feel better and I think it may have helped me too! (I somehow managed to dodge the flu!)

It may sound intense, I know – 4 whole onions and 2 heads of garlic- it sounds like a lot but it definitely mellowed as it cooked.

The recipe instructs you to strain it and just use the broth, which I did since Joe just wanted broth, but I tasted it with the onions, etc, before I strained it and it was mighty good. I will be adding this soup to our regular repertoire of go to recipes.

Old Fashioned Garlic and Onion Soup 
For colds, flu, respiratory infections or for prevention especially in winter season
4 large white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 whole heads of garlic, separated and peeled
2 tsp. thyme
4 tbs. olive oil
6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
2 tbs. honey
4 tbs. each fresh basil and parsley
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
sea salt, fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large stockpot sauté the onions, garlic and thyme in olive oil until golden brown. This step sweetens and mellows the intensity of the garlic and onions. (To peel garlic cloves, smash the individual cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife and slip out of the skins.) Add the vegetable stock, white wine, and bay leaf. Slowly cook for 2 to 3 hours. Strain liquid, and then add honey, fresh basil and parsley, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and cayenne.

Onions and garlic are both antibacterial in action, as in the herb thyme. Cayenne pepper is recommended if there is a fever present, while basil and parsley are detoxifying herbs.

This is an excellent soup to drink during any type of infection or cold, or to simply enjoy as a first course to a meal.

Enjoy and be well!

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Nurse Lewie to the Rescue!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

It all started with a text message sent to Judy last week. I was in the midst of week two of a mean cold. Judy was checking in to see how I was faring or if I was being smothered by the mountain of tissues that comes with such a cold. UGH!

I responded that “ Nurse Lewie is on the scene. Catnip mice are very healing!”

“haha! That’s a good blog post, lol” Judy returned… and so it is!

Even though I was feeling lousy, I did my best to play chase the string, bouncy ball and all sorts of other foolish but fun things to entertain this sweet little kitty. I improvised a bit while lying in bed or on the couch, but she tolerated my lack of energy and raised my spirits with her silly cat antics. Snuggling at my feet, purring like crazy and generally keeping this miserable soul excellent company was healing for sure. Lewie may not have “fixed” my cold, but I’m sure her presence dropped my stress/anxiety level about missing work (and feeling guilty about it!) and just feeling yucky in general and probably gave my immune system a much needed boost with all of the giggling and snuggling.

If you have pets you know how healing they are. Loads of research out there on how stroking a pets’ fur lowers anxiety levels and provides a sense of calm and stability especially to folks that are older, alone and /or very ill.

So here’s to the Nurse Lewies of the world! A hearty thanks to our furry friends!

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The Skinny on Skin

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Posted by Judy Moon

Winter is here whether we like or not. It has it’s good and bad, just like anything. There’s nothing like a steaming cup of hot chocolate on a cold day, or snuggling in to watch a movie on a snowy day rocking your favorite sweater.

One of the down sides for sure is dry skin.

I have recently read over and over on various Facebook posts and blog posts about how we don’t need to shower every day and how it is actually bad for you to do so especially in winter.

I couldn’t disagree more with this, in fact it makes me crazy!

My first reaction is what are people washing with – Spic and Span?

First my disclaimer – I am not a dermatologist, skin expert or esthetician. I am speaking from what I have learned, (as a massage therapist, I touch a lot of skin!) and what I have observed from my own experience and my own skin. Clearly if you have skin conditions you need to talk to a doctor, but I think this type of skin care makes sense for most people.

The skin is an organ. Let’s repeat that out loud – “my skin is an organ”

“I need to treat it like that.”  In fact it’s the largest organ of the body. It has three main functions – protection, regulation and sensation.

The skin renews itself about every 30 days. If this dead skin builds up, it can leave a dull, flat even scaly appearance.

Exfoliation is key! You must remove the dry dead skin first. This will also help with the penetration of whatever products you are using. If you moisturize without exfoliating, you are just moisturizing that already dead layer of skin.

How do you exfoliate?

There are lots of ways to do this –

  • Dry Brushing
  • Hot Towel Scrubbing – ditch that nylon scrubbing thing you have in your shower and treat yourself to an old friend – a wash cloth. It is much gentler on the skin and holds the hot water better – the hot water stimulates the pores to open. Rub the warm washcloth in gentle circles all over your body. Guess what – you are also stimulating your lymphatic system – an added bonus!
  • Salt and Sugar Scrubs – once a week I use a lavender sugar scrub for an extra deep exfoliation. There’s tons of DIY recipes and already make products to purchase – I personally love the Lavender Scrub from Trade Joe’s 

All of these stimulating things are doing just that – stimulating the skin to do what it is supposed to do – function, regenerate cells, breathe, produce it’s own natural oils. Wake it up!

What the heck are you washing with?

Now that we have our skin alive and awake and doing it’s job, what are you going to wash it with? That’s a personal choice, but I would suggest using something that doesn’t have a ton of ingredients in it and if it does, can you pronounce them and do you know what they are? Now that your pores are open do you want to absorb those ingredients? I love Copa soaps. I feel clean and fresh after a shower and they smell divine. We sell them at the studio or you can purchase them online. My favorite is the Vetiver.

So, you’ve exfoliated, cleansed and now you need to moisturize.

Again, personal preference. Same rules apply. Read your label and think about what you are putting on the largest organ of your body. I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth. That’s extreme for sure, but it kind of makes sense. I use coconut oil right from the jar. I bought a cute flip top jar that I transfer it to and I add some rose essential oil to it. But you can literally use it straight from the jar it comes in.

We offer a dry brush treatment that can help get you started with a good skin care regime. We dry brush your whole body and then follow it with a therapeutic massage letting all of the oils soak in to your fresh new skin. You get to take home your brush, instructions and your new soft skin.

Showering every day is bad for you skin? I take a screaming hot shower daily, so I say, I think we have to agree to disagree.

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

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Posted by Judy Moon

You wake up, and you notice that itchy, scratchy, sore tickle in your throat. You feel a little fuzzy, congested, you begin sneezing, you start to feel chilled, your body is sore and achy as if you just worked out. That’s right – you’re sick! The cold /flu season is upon us again.

Do I come in for a massage or not? It might make me feel better, right?

Here’s the truth.

The cold and flu are thought to be spread primarily through the droplets that occur in the air when you cough or you sneeze. They can remain in the air or land on surfaces that others may touch. When you enter a massage treatment room, you will be in a small space that usually doesn’t have great ventilation – there aren’t typically lots of windows to let fresh air in. We want a dark, cozy room, right? Not only are you exposing your therapist to the risk of infection, but other people who will be seeking treatment.

Although it may seem comforting to receive a massage while you are experiencing those symptoms, your body is already working hard; your immune system is doing double duty. Massage can be too taxing on the body that is already in fight mode. You may also actually feel worse after the massage.

However, when you are FREE OF SYMPTOMS, massage therapy can help you push that reset button and get back in the groove. It is important to wait till your flu/cold symptoms have passed before you come in.

We sometimes ache when we have a cold or flu. Why is that?

According to clearlyexplained.com – One of the main reasons that your body aches when you are sick, like with a cold is that your body’s immune system is producing plenty of anti-bodies. These anti-bodies also produce histamines, which typically dilates (widens) blood vessel near an infection, this allows for more of the body’s defenses to get at the infection.  There are histamine receptors in blood vessels that cause them to dilate. As these chemicals are released into your blood stream they can end up in your muscles or other body parts. Various body systems can have receptors to histamine that can then trigger a pain receptor.

So when you start to feel like you old self again, schedule a massage. You’ve probably been laying around a lot. You might be stiff. Your immune system could use a boost. Some pressure point work in the sinus area would feel divine. You’ve been coughing -those back muscles could use some TLC.

Better yet, schedule massage as a preventative. Massage is great for helping the body stay strong enough to resist the infection even if you are exposed:

  • It increases circulation of blood and lymph- which is immune boosting
  • Decreases stress levels , which makes us less susceptible in the first place
  • Encourages better sleep, which is one of the keys to good health

Be well and don’t forget your vitamin C!

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The One Word I Encourage You To Eliminate

Posted by Judy Moon

If I could suggest a word to you to eliminate from your vocabulary, it’s not a four-letter word, it would be the word “try”.

One of my best and favorite teachers, Dr. Darren Weissman planted this seed in my head and I do my best (see, did you notice, I didn’t say “try”) to avoid it at all costs

Webster defines the word –

Try – verb, make an attempt to do something. 

So when we try to do something, there is the possibility that you will succeed or fail.

However, when we do our best, there is no failure, you did your best!

It may seem silly and like you are splitting hairs, but it feels different when you start replacing “I am going to try”, with “I am going to do my best”.

Give it a whirl, do your best, and let me know what you notice.

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Squeaky Clean!

Posted by Judy Moon

I am in the home stretch now of the 21 day Clean Program and feeling fantastic! My last post Let’s Talk Dirty described in detail just how I roll up my sleeves and dive in to this yearly endeavor. There’s a lot of information to share and I tried to break it down and keep it simple. I forgot to mention two important things –

The Blender!!!

I would HIGHLY recommend getting yourself a high speed powerful blender. If you have the cash, the Vitamix  is the Rolls Royce of blenders. Everyone who I know who has one LOVES it. At the recommendation of a friend, I went with the Montel Williams Health Master, 4 payments of $33.33. I wasn’t sure if this was something I was really going to stick with at the time, so I wasn’t ready to make the commitment to the Vitamix. I can honestly say that blender is used at least 4 times a day in my house between my husband and myself and I love it. It does everything the Vitamix does and it’s never disappointed me. There are several other options out there, Nutri Bullet, Ninja, Blendtec to name a few. There’s lots of comparisons and charts and blogs – do your homework, see which one speaks to you. You won’t be sorry you did.

Bodywork!

Getting some extra bodywork during the cleanse is a great way to support all of the hard work you body is doing. You may feel a little headachey if you are a big caffeine drinker, you may feel tired and sluggish in the beginning, or your digestion may get a little sluggish at first. Getting some therapeutic massage, reflexology, thai massage, shiatsu or reiki will make the process so much easier.

I leave you with one of my favorite recipes that I discovered last year during Clean. It’s from goop – you can always count on Gwyneth, like if you are looking for a juicer – her 2014 gift guide listed the Easy Health Angel Juicer Gold, only $4,739. I love what it said underneath it – “Absurd, but awesome.” All kidding aside, I found this super yummy recipe on goop last year and it is the perfect breakfast when the sky is grey and the thermometer outside reads ten degrees!

Chai Gingerbread Shake 
Dr. Alejandro Junger
Blend until smooth. Drink before it cools for optimal digestion and to warm you up!

  • 1 cup warm brewed rooibos chai tea (easy to find)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger (or a tablespoon or two of fresh squeezed ginger juice)
  • 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • coconut nectar, raw honey or stevia to taste
  • optional: 1 scoop protein powder of your choice

Enjoy!

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Let’s Talk Dirty

Posted by Judy Moon

January is upon us and you know what that means – Clean Program!

Every January my husband Joe and I do Dr. Junger’s Clean Program – I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve done it, I think it’s maybe 5 or so. It has become our go-to way to kick off the New Year and push the reset button after a month of holiday fun and good cheer. It’s also a nice path to take to starting off your year on the road to health and wellness. It’s kind of the ultimate wellness seed.

I was inspired by a client years ago who would do it every January and then often after a vacation. I always said to her “I could never do it, 21 days without x,y and z…” anyone who knows me knows x,y and z stand for red wine, cheese and at that time pasta. I then reached a point of switching from “I could never do it” to “I have to do it”. So I bought the book Clean, made my husband read it as well and we were sold.

A lot of clients, and friends ask me “how” we do it. There’s a few ways you can go about it. When we first did it there were 2 options available on the website, I think they were called Renew and Refresh. One option was to buy the kit, drink a shake for breakfast, a meal from the list of foods you can have for lunch and a shake for dinner. Snacks could also be from the list and it came with a boatload of supplements.

The other option was a kit with shake mix and less supplements and you had the shake for breakfast and 2 smaller meals from the list of foods you can have, again having a snack if you need one from the list.

Since my husband was being a good sport and doing this with me, I opted for the second option since I knew this beer drinking, chicken wing eating dude was not going to have a shake for dinner.

We did great, lost some weight, had more energy, stopped having food cravings and felt like a million bucks. Was it as big of a detox as if we had done the other option, no, but I felt so much better and I was sold.

The following year, the second option wasn’t available on the site, and they explained to me that they felt the other option was a better detox, more thorough, etc. and that was what they were promoting, but I could always still do it the other way if I chose and just buy the ingredients separately.  So I reread the book and just purchased what I needed without buying the kit.

For a protein shake, I went with the Chocolate Plant Fusion 

For the supplements, we took PB8 probiotics, Enzymedica digestive enzymes, Milk Thistle, and Oregano oil Capsules which I picked up at Whole Foods. The other supplements are also available there as well.

I drank Natural Calm at night to help “keep things moving” and it helps you sleep well.

We eat from the list of foods you can have and avoid the things you can’t have and drink tons of water. We actually find that by week 2, we are just having soup for dinner or sometimes we actually have a shake, your appetite does change and your portions get smaller. You get fuller faster.

So over the years we’ve added some things to increase the detox process and some of these things have become daily habits.

Here’s what a typical day looks like on Clean (and sometimes even after Clean)

  • Wake up and Tongue Scrape
  • Oil Pull for 10 minutes with coconut oil (this is new this year for me!)
  • Brush teeth
  • Axe Detox drink
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Dry brush
  • Shower
  • Plant fusion shake with frozen berries, flax seed, almond milk, raw coconut cream, colloidal minerals (the minerals are a new addition this year),
  • Cup of Kukicha tea with stevia
  • Snack if I need it – raw nuts
  • Lunch – salad from the list of foods you can have
  • Snack – green drink with wheat grass powder, kale, more berries, coconut water and an apple. (this is my go to afternoon pick me up everyday)
  • Dinner – meal or soup from list of foods you can have.
  • Water with lemon throughout the day. (also started adding chlorophyll to the water)
  • Herbal tea after dinner, Tulsi Rose is a favorite.
  • Natural Calm before bed
  • I take the supplements according to directions on labels.
  • Alternating detox epsom salt baths, and Castor Oil Wraps through out the week.
  • The Castor oil wraps are new to me this year as well. I just rub it all over the abdomen especially near the liver and the lymph channels wrap some saran wrap around myself, put on an old T shirt and chill for 45 minutes.

Is this the best most thorough detox on the planet, probably not, but it works for us. At the end of the 21 days, we’ve shed some weight, feel less puffy, have more energy, have more clarity, feel inspired to take better care of ourselves, and are motivated to eat better.

I would call that a success!

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Thirty Second Hand Rescue

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Posted by Judy Moon

I don’t know about you, but as soon as the weather shifts and gets the slightest bit nippy the skin on my hands instantly protests! My hands get a very dry scratchy feeling – not optimal for a massage therapist.

Since I handle oil all day while working, you would think that would be enough moisture. I also wash my hands a thousand times a day so I guess that my hands just require some extra TLC.

My secret weapon for combatting dry hands is to use a sugar scrub of some sort to exfoliate the dead skin away and really hydrate the soft skin left behind.

Recently, after doing a ton of dishes, I noticed that my hands were looking pretty sad – so I scooped out about a half teaspoon of coconut oil straight from the jar in to my palm, added about the same amount of raw sugar, straight from the sugar bowl, and threw in 2 drops of lavender essential oil because that’s how I roll and I rubbed it between my hands and on my cuticles and really massaged it in.

I washed my hands and voila – brand new baby soft sweet smelling hands!

I’ve experimented with different brands of sugar scrubs, I like the lavender one from Trader Joe’s, in fact – there is always a jar of that baby in my shower, but this was a fast, quick fix and it did the trick! If you don’t exfoliate, you are simply lubricating dry, dead skin.

There’s all kinds of DIY recipes out there for scrubs and butters, etc. For this version, all I needed was 3 ingredients, a spoon, my hands and about 30 seconds.

Keep it simple my friends! Your hands will be so thankful.

 

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Enjoy the Cave

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

It’s hibernation time folks, one of my favorite times of the year as I think I have said in the past. I do love being outside and active in the warmer months, carrying on in the garden, soaking up the sun. But I also love the hush of winter. Running around in the cold and then hunkering down indoors, warm and sleepy under a blanket and a cat, a good book by my side.

In the past few years though I find that instead of allowing myself to snuggle up and enjoy this time of being indoors, being internal, I fret that I should be doing something!

Getting things done!

Yikes. Give it a rest dear girl!

This year I’m giving myself permission to settle in to winter. To read the books on my shelves that have been calling me, to rest, to write (no, the next post will not be about arithmetic, I promise).

To be. We tell ourselves we don’t have enough time, but sometimes I think we just have to take the time. Make it our own.

Happy hibernating!

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Pen to Paper

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

I heard a fabulous interview a few months ago with writer Richard Ford. I’ve never read any of his work, but he is now on my “books I must read” list. He spoke with clarity, wit and with the wisdom of someone who has explored the mystery and wonder of language, emotion and the human experience.

Mr. Ford talked about writing quotes that interested or intrigued him on 3×5 cards and reading them every now and again. He chuckled when Terry Gross asked him why he didn’t organize them on the computer. He then told her that he writes his novels by hand. On paper. With a pen. No computer.

This made me smile, a great big goofy grin and then I gave the radio a big thumbs up and a YES! Why?

Because I’m really a luddite at heart (as I type away on the keyboard! HA)?

No, I just related to Ford’s feelings about putting pen to paper, that writing is thinking out loud(I think that’s a quote from one of his 3×5’s).

When I have a large amount of writing to do, I write by hand. It makes me feel more connected to the thoughts, the emotions and the subject I’m writing about. When I write this way I don’t edit as I let my thoughts flow.

I create these blog posts at the computer most of the time and I find it hard to just type without editing. The thoughts don’t flow as easily, which isn’t bad it’s just different. Don’t get me wrong, I love that delete button and cut and paste is magic in my mind! Writing on paper takes more time and most of us don’t have much to spare these days. So I’m very grateful to have the luxury of this machine (I liked typewriters too!) but I have been thinking that I want to write more regularly, because I want to not just when I have to.

Journaling or writing letters, trying to do a bit each day. More than a shopping list scrawl or notes in my client’s files. Bringing back the pleasure of putting pen to page. Maybe using it as a form of meditation, a creative endeavor to keep my mind sharp, my eyes bright and my heart and hands connected.

Happy writing!

If you are interested in reading about the “how to” of writing, Natalie Goldberg’s book “Writing Down the Bones” is an excellent resource and a fun read too!

 

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The (Not So) Fading Beauties

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

My nephew and I were driving on a recent autumn day, admiring the still fabulous but beginning to wane colors of the leaves. He said that soon everything would look drab and depressing with winter and wouldn’t’t it be cool if the trees kept their colors until the new leaves arrived in spring. I agreed that it would be cool but it might make spring less exciting as we would have nothing to look forward to after all of that dark and cold. Those first few electric green leaves spark our spirits and get us up and moving!

As we continued to talk I thought about our yearly trips to upstate New York for the winter holidays and the long ride when I have plenty of time to gaze out the window. Fields of burnt orange and sandy colored grasses, icy purple and brownish red raspberry canes and brambles, mountains covered in as many shades of green, gray and blue as you can imagine. I always feel inspired by these wild colors and it often spurs a drawing or sewing project once I get back home.

I was glad to be reminded that even though the skies may be heavy and the deciduous trees seem so skeletal in winter, there is still so much color to be seen all season long (even before the witch hazels, hellebores and snow drops show up!). And if we can’t make it out to the woods, maybe it’s the red brick building that glows in the late day sun or the pattern on the moss green and gray bark of the sycamore trees that brightens our spirits.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of looking a little longer and allowing that spark of color to find you.

Enjoy the colors of winter!

 

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Setting the Table for the Spring Feast!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

I just finished ordering a few bulbs for fall (soon to be winter!) planting/spring blooming. 800 is a few, right?!

Yes, I am serious! My dear friend (and gardening partner in crime) Carolyn and I always plant lots of goodies for the honey bees and other pollinators to feast on when they start to venture out after the wilds of deep winter. And also, let’s be honest, to cheer our human spirits after the long, dark days. Crocus are a favorite for the bees, so we decided to plant a bunch. 300 to be exact.

But then I saw the grape hyacinths, added another crocus variety, the scilla siberica, some anemone blanda… and I couldn’t help it, those bright species tulips that called to me, Sirens that they are! Honest, it all started with my love of the bees…

We’ve been focusing more and more on flowering plants for the bees. And not just our honeybees at the garden. There are many varieties of native pollinators that need help these days. These amazing creatures are part of the backbone of our food supply, pollinating fruit and nut trees and many of the fruits and veggies we consume. Even though we are getting into hibernation season, soon enough we’ll be back out there with our fingers in the soil. So remember the pollinators and plant a few extras for them this fall and next spring. Let your herbs flower (especially mint, thyme and chives!), let a few lettuce and radish go to seed. And plant some crocus! And then buy some local honey! Makes a great gift, since we are fast approaching the holiday season…

And I just learned something new about pruning away old hollow stems. Many pollinators use these stems to lay their eggs for the next season, so leave some of those stems in tact until spring (raspberry canes seem to be a favorite). I often do this just because I like the “sculptures” created by the old seed heads and stems. Gives the winter garden form and texture and looks super cool dusted with snow.

Happy planting!

P.S. I ordered everything from a larger company this time since I waited until the last minute (arrgghh!), but one of my very favorites for heirloom varieties of bulbs, corms etc. is Old House Gardens up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Good for them, they are sold out of most bulbs for the season! I order Dahlias and gladiolas from them most years. Lovely company, excellent product and an always helpful and very dedicated staff.

 

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