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No, you don’t have to worry about the long-term environmental effects of 100% organic oils on your hair, face or body.  I know it’s trite word-play on a not so trite current event, but this year’s headlines provide me the perfect platform to herald the virtues of incorporating organic oils into your daily beauty regime.

For Hair:  Look to Ayurvedic oils and herbs like Sesame, Neem, Sunflower, Coconut, and Meadowfoam for lustre, shine, and a good slip for the all important scalp massage. Brahmi, Bringraj, Jatamansi are therapeutic herbs, long-revered for their ability to fortify the nervous system and thus, the entire follicle and scalp environment.  Organic scalp and hair oils smell terrific too, as they are usually scented with pure steam distilled essential oils of Hibiscus, Rose, Rosemary, Ylang-Ylang, Peppermint and Basil.

Hair oils are renowned for their ability to deter thinning hair and hair loss, defend against premature graying, strengthen and nourish the hair shaft, and provide an immediate improvement to hair’s texture.

For Face and Body: Many people are scared of putting oils on their face.  They falsely believe it will lead to break-outs, or it will be too heavy and greasy.  Not true. In fact, many oils including aloe, erand, neem, sariva, and sandalwood actually help clear up congestion because they contain natural anti-bacterial qualities that sooth, heal and calm the skin.

Face and body oils stimulate skin functions, necessary for its elastic retention. Quality oils will moisturize and quickly absorb into the skin.

I love using oils like virgin cold pressed organic Jojoba, St. John’s Wort and Andean Mountain Rose Hip seed.  Other oils of good merit include apricot, almond, borage, black currant seed, evening primrose, rose hip seed, sea buckthorn, comfrey, and carrot seed.

Oils go a long long way.  Use them sparingly for beautiful results.  Bonus? Find a product that is a multi-tasker – one that you can use on both your face and body.

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Philadelphians understand that when a business is awarded a “Best of Philly” by Philadelphia Magazine, it’s time to sample the business’s offerings.  Well, juju salon & organics is proud to have received this year’s “Best of Philly” award for Best Hair Salon!  What makes this award truly amazing is that a green, all natural salon was selected out of a pool of hundreds of chic and style-setting salons in the area.  Further, the fact that we are organic, and well, very, very different from conventional chop-shops, says something about the growth and acceptance of green businesses in general.  Doing business in a green and sustainable way is completely “normal.”

I’ve often hoped that the press and the general public would one day, perhaps, embrace one of my firmest business tenants: that is, that juju, like any other top-notch salon will give its clients great hair and will provide a resource for cutting-edge and attainable style and beauty, all in an eco-friendly way. Being green is just the icing on the cake. You really can make the healthier and more responsible choice and not have to sacrifice style and beauty.

So, come in! See what everyone is raving about.  Schedule an appointment with one of our organically educated and truly talented stylists.  Get safe, beautiful and long lasting color, a flattering style and find out for yourself why juju is this year’s Best Hair Salon!  Thanks to our clients, Philadelphia Magazine and my wonderful staff at juju for making this award possible!

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Recently, after my client Joan had her hair done at juju, I invited her to join me for a trip to nearby Garland of Letters.  Garland of Letters, you ask? Well, THE place for Inspirational literature: New Thought, Spirituality, Self-Help- generally for seekers of self knowledge of any and all disposition.  Garland of Letters has been offering Philadelphians everything from yoga to incense for the last 30 years. In a word, “bliss.”  Joan, a fellow soul-mate/soul-seeker needed no convincing – we were off!

Happier, by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., fell from the shelf as I wished for guidance. “Oh! I gave this book to a few friends for Christmas last year.” My friend assured me this was more than just happenstance. ‘Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment…’ it promises.  Sold.

Once again, I am reminded, as I chapter through Ben-Shahar’s pages, that “Happiness depends upon ourselves” (Aristotle).  As suggested, I’ve committed to a gratitude journal, my meditation practice and exercises to simplify and de-stress my life.

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OK, so maybe not Grey Gardens. But if any passers-by had stumbled upon our small, city garden, surely “over-grown garden” would more than likely come to mind; overgrown with weeds and last fall’s foliage, that is. One of the best decisions of 2010 was to enlist the help of Philadelphia’s green guru, Grace Wicks, of Graceful Gardens. Grace, with the aid of her experienced assistant Bernie, skillfully tamed our ornery weed population while bending the out-of-control shrubs and vines to her whimsical way. Make no mistake, Grace is very serious about what she does, and she does it all with a smile on her face that reveals a true passion for what she does best. A snip here, a cut here, some more color over there, and four hours later the garden was brimming with delightful beds of flowers and grasses that rejuvenated our once grey block of land into a green sanctuary. The addition of edible flowers and vegetables was just what we needed and our little Japanese maple has never seemed so happy being the center of attention amidst a charming, little rock garden. If only “Big Edie” & “Little Edie” Beale had known someone like Grace Wicks in 1975, history would have been rewritten; instead, these eccentric socialites would have squandered their fortune surrounded by beautiful landscapes and greenery…hehe.

Alas, my very own Graceful Gardens is where I want to be. I reach for my cup of coffee, step through the french doors, and I’m there…once again.

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The end of an op-ed this weekend in the Times states, “The precautionary principle suggests that we should be wary of personal products like fragrances unless they are marked phthalate-free. And it makes sense — particularly for children and pregnant women…” This principle has been toted by many in my field as a necessary avoidance. In fact, no phthalate-containing nail polishes, shampoos, perfumes and body lotions can be found at juju or many other forward minded locations peddling safer beauty products.  Now, peer-reviewed medical science articles are being written about the absolute link between autism, for example, and exposure to environmental toxins. A wonderful fact-driven migration: from granola crunching health food stores to the JAMA!

The science community knows that Phthalate exposure to pregnant women can lead to their children displaying behavioral issues. So why is this toxic ingredient still being added to hair sprays, shampoos and conditioners? A quick search on “phtalate” in the Environmental Working Group’s website, Skin Deep database, found almost 23,000 products containing phtalates!  Sure, I wasn’t surprised to find Versace’s Red Jeans perfume listed, but Aveda’s Detoxifying Shampoo (detoxifying? what a misnomer!) and cleansers from Kiss My Face?!!

My advice for now: avoid buying any product with “phtalate” listed in its ingredients. Moreover, avoid buying any beauty product that lists “fragrance” in its ingredients, unless, there is an asterisk explaining that the fragrance is an unadulterated essential oil. Scary.

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I’d love to title this post, “My Top-5 Must Have List”, but…how can I limit my organic beauty product must-haves to just. Not to mention, I’m no natural beauty, and well frankly, I have some needs!

1. Dr. Alkaitis Face Cleanser: it’s raw, it’s great, it’s family friendly, good for all skin types, though I don’t easily share this one!  Every ingredient in this 4 oz. wonder has a unique property and specific purpose.  And, it lasts forever.

2. Suki Eye Balm: it plumps, it protects, it works morning, noon or night.  Another miraculous ‘fish & loaves’ product…never seems to run out!

3. USPA’s Wheatgrass Shampoo: Wheatgrass offers unique UV filter properties which can reduce damage to the hair- the perfect choice for color-treated hair – yep, there are more than one silver strands on my head;

4. USPA’s Wheatgrass Conditioner:  ditto!  Super-conditioning for my baby-fine hair – not too heavy, but just right!

5. Starflower Essential’s Seaflower SPF Moisturizer: contains borage (see previous post re: Top 5 Anti-Aging ingredients) and jojoba oil. This nutrient-rich sunscreen moisturizer for is light enough to use under make-up and provides long-lasting moisture too!

6. Suki Spa’s Renewal Bio-resurfacing Facial Peel:  Um….guess who’s 43 and is coveting a, let’s say, a ‘dewier’ more youthful complexion?  Your’s truly uses this magic serum once a week to get my glow back.  People have noticed! Comments are good! ‘nough said!

7. Innersense’s Inner Reflection Finishing Polish: Keeps the ‘do in place and looking fresh all day. Trust me, I work in front of mirrors all day, it’s nice to see my hair looking styled and shiny without having to fuss between clients.  This makes me happy!

Check out my finds now!  And keep me posted as to what’s behind your cabinet!

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Though there are dozens of organic herbal and plant-based infusions that should be listed as an ingredient in your anti-wrinkle creme, here are my top picks:

1. White Willow Bark, also known as Pussy Willow.  The inside bark of this plant is rich in naturally occurring salicylic acid, a marvelously gentle tool for cellular turnover when applied to the skin. White Willow Bark is also an anti-imflammatory for oily, combination, acne or blemished skin and scalp. Great relief for rosacea, psriasis, eczema, dandruff and any skin or scalp condition that produces redness and/or inflammation.

2. Retinol liposomes from Vitamin A.  The ultimate source of the vitamin A is carotene. Look for the listing of organic yellow vegetables (carrots, tomatoes) and yellow fruits (papaya, mangoes) in your brightening creme.  Reduce fine lines, clear your pores and (again!) speed up cell turnover with these essential vitamin A carriers.

3. Rosa Centifolia is known for its anti aging components when applied to skin.  Packed with antioxidant for keeping those free radicals at bay, tannins, which have a toning effect on skin, emolient (moisturizing) ingredients, as well as anti-viral and anti-bacterial ingredients. Think roses for dry, weather-beaten skin too.  Really! We’re all, young and old, in need of some skin protection in this extremely cold winter weather.  Add to this blasting furnaces and dry indoors, and anyone’s skin can look grim no matter what the age.  Roses to the rescue!

4. Vitamin C Glucoside.  Think tart refreshing citrus!  Its brightening power and collagen stimulator are just two of its charms.  Another great provider of antioxidants (we need these internally and externally!) Vitamin C Skin Care is an important component of most anti-aging skin care regimens. Topically applied Vitamin C is proven to help protect the skin from photo-damage from sun exposure. Vitamin C taken orally does not have the same skin care benefit – it must be applied directly to the skin.

One more, one more…what to choose… Carrageenan/Irish Moss is an all natural anti-wrinkle miracle ingredient …what about green tea with its above-average antioxidant power?  burdock…..Nope I’m choosing….

5. Borage…don’t let the name fool you, there’s nothing boring about its aid in the pursuit of youthful skin. Borage Oil was used in ancient Rome to enhance natural beauty. It was even used by ancient beauties like Cleopatra and Nefertiti. Borage’s composition contains omega acids that are not only beneficial for the skin but are very effective in skin repair. Consider this a green beauty tip via antiquity!

Once again you’re reminded to READ YOUR LABEL! Before you spend a dime, read the listed ingredients and watch for these top 5 to appear. If they don’t, keep looking!  What are your top 5?  Creative criticism and helpful insight wanted!

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I mean, take it easy when it comes to shampooing your hair.  Real life snippet:  I noticed how silky, soft and strong my client’s hair had become. We had been working together for over a year.  What was once bleached out, dry and weak had transformed into beautiful tresses. Of course we new the non-ammonia, organic color we’d been using on her hair had helped in this amazing transformation. But it was the client who credited her only shampooing once a week to the change. I knew it worked!  She had taken my advice, early on, and nixed the daily shampooing routine.

Most shampoos, hand soaps, dish washing liquids, toothpastes, etc. contain a soluble detergent and surfactant known as Sodium Lauryl(laureth) Sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), It is an inexpensive, synthetic ingredient and a known irritant.  This synthetic detergent can also be found in floor cleaners and other household cleaning products – it is very strong and effective in cleaning and de-greasing.

Our hair, especially colored hair, cannot withstand the effects of such a “tough” cleansing agent. This chemical literally strips hair of its color.  Conventional shampoos mask the harsh effects of this ingredient by putting additional (synthetic) chemicals in the products to act as conditioners and fragrances.

Remember this: Hair, in general, and our scalps, need only small amounts of shampoos and detergents.  It is well known in the industry that hair can actually be cleansed by only using a conditioner (creme rinse) and forgoing the shampoo altogether.  I advise all of my clients to cut back on shampooing and/or water down their shampoos, to lessen the harsh effects of these cleansing agents.

See what changes you can make with this simple omission!

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I love what I do, creatively and professionally and I wanted to work in an environment that reflected how I lived my life: healthy, concern for the environment, sustainability, education, learning, cruetly-free, and responsibility.  When it comes to hair and body care, I wanted products that are pure and organic, products that me and my clients demanded. Organic hydrating conditioners, sulfate-free shampoos, paraben-free cleansers, non-toxic soy candles, pomades and texturizers made from pure plants and essential oils and vegan lip balms. My businesses are dedicated to procuring products from companies who utilize,  respect and promote organic harvesting and growing. And, of course, all of our products are cruelty-free.

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This is important because it makes one a well-rounded and sound eco-fashionista! I’m reprinting some easy to follow tips for making your make-over cruelty-free, eco-friendly and fun!

By Einav Keet, Natural Solutions magazine 

“If you think your beauty cabinet passes muster just because you’ve banished parabens, think again. “A health-minded consumer’s responsibility does not end with the purchase of healthy and eco-friendly bodycare products,” says Julie Ebner, founder of Philadelphia’s Juju Spa and Organics. “We must also spend our money wisely on the related accessories.”

Washcloth. Skip the standard washcloth (which can harbor millions of microbes), and try one made of sustainable ayate from agave plants. “The fibers are renowned for their natural antibacterial properties, and these multipurpose cloths can be used wet or dry,” says Ebner. Exfoliate and boost your circulation when you use your ayate washcloth dry, or lather up with it in the shower. Best of all, these cloths resist mildew and can last up to a year.

Makeup brushes. If you wouldn’t wear a fur coat, you should definitely forgo animal-hair brushes, made from squirrel, mink, sable, horse, and goat hair that’s been inhumanely sourced. “Consumers should demand cruelty-free makeup tools,” says Ebner. Apply your makeup with brushes made from vegan fibers such as nylon. “Not only are these brushes humane, they are non-porous and smooth, providing a more sanitary application.””

There was some flack about me recommending “plastic” make-up brushes…let me clarify…try these goodies from EcoTools –  available everywhere.  The brushes are made with bamboo handles, the metallic binding on the brush (the ferrule) is made from recycled aluminum cans and the bristles are made with animal-free taklon. Try it!

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I can’t believe my eyes…right there, on the back of a bus, bigger than big, is this wonderful image: Persepolis reading Persepolis!  My family LOVES Persepolis: we’ve watched the movie 100 times, Santa filled the stockings with Persepolis books 1 and 2…now it seems, Persepolis fever has infected not only my family, but the whole city.  The Philadelphia Free Library (god love them) has chosen Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolisas the featured selection for 2010’s One Book, One Philadelphia.   This “is a joint project of the Mayor’s Office and the Free Library of Philadelphia that promotes reading, literacy, library use, and community building by motivating tens of thousands of people to read an annual featured selection. Marking the eighth consecutive year for One Book, the 2010 program runs from January 20 to March 17, 2010.”  Previous books featured in this project included Steve Lopez’s The Soloist.

Persepolis, a graphic novel…er…comic book, is Ms. Satrapi’s personal story about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  Favorite parts include ‘Margie’s’ young adult life in exile in Paris, befriending, hanging out and trying to fit in with sophmoric Euro-poseurs. The Free Library’s One Book Committee chose this tale, in part, because of recent election protests in Iran.

Read this now! You’ll have Persepolis fever too, I promise.

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What better way to let Jack Frost know what you think about his weather?  In addition, I for one, am tired of the oh-so-sleek-keratin-treated-toxic-formaldahydey-mammal-pelt look!  This beachy, bumpy, voluptuous look not only tips its hat to Pre-Raphaelite muses, but is downright simple, natural and gorgeous.

Here’s how you can do this at home:

Shampoo and condition your hair before bed and towel dry your hair. Evenly distribute either  John Master’s Sea Mist (sea salt and lavender styling spritz), an organic aloe vera based gel or other product with hold to it, in even sections throughout your hair. If you have thick or wavy hair, apply some curl-creme or leave-in (Hamadi Shea Leave-In is the best) to smooth your curls and discourage frizz. With your fingers or a comb, distribute this mixture through your locks.

Then, either gently twist small or large sections of hair or scrunch your hair before you fall asleep.  When you awake, you’ll have big, sexy tousled hair!  Don’t be in a hurry to wash your hair for a few days, the ehem…dirtier…the hair, the better the look.  Enjoy!

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Ok I get it…it’s the 3rd day of the new year, and yes, it’s COLD!!! with the wind chill, it’s barely 0. And I have to walk my hounds? The only, literally, only thought that cheers me at this moment, is the delight I take in slathering on my Vanilla Creme Organic Shea Body Butter – Woodsprite – the Best!

Banish flaky, chapped, red, raw, ashen, frozen, aged, wintry skin…FOREVER! Woodsprite’s Get Whipped, a salon and spa favorite – buy it when it’s in stock ’cause it flies off the shelf, works even better than it smells. Rich Fair Trade Cocoa Butter, Kukui Nut Oils, Avocado and Madadamia Oils enliven the time-tested, dry skin cure-all Shea Butter base. You cannot live without this in the winter.

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If I had a penny for each time I heard someone say, “It smells so good in here” referring to our salon and spa, of course, I’d be in financial heaven.  I know that what the clients are actually experiencing, olfactorially that is, is the Lack of a Toxic Scent or Artificial Odor in our stores. No usual toxic voc’s from hair coloring agents, no artificial or synthetic fragrances of any kind can be found at our salon or spa. Synthetic, artificial fragrances can contain toxic chemicals linked to not only allergic reactions but to cancer, birth defects and central nervous system disorders.

That’s why is this so important. Synthetic fragrances are one of the most common environmental toxins around…soaps, shampoos, cleaning products… all of these common household items are loaded with artificial fragrances containing synthetic compounds derived from petroleum including benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and many other known toxins.  Yuck! watch out too for ‘fragrance-free’ items such as shampoos and conditioners, which may contain chemical fragrance ‘maskers.’

Put your pennies in cosmetics, cleaning products and such that contain naturally derived fragrances from pure plant essences.

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I cannot forget that I am 43…43…43…over 40, by a landslide!  Today’s NY Times health blog featured results of a new study, proving that flexible middle-aged bodies may be less prone to cardiac disease than stiff computer potatoes…”In short, the study concluded that ‘a less flexible body indicates arterial stiffening, especially in middle-aged and older adults.’ ”  more Aha! my New Year’s Resolution Solidified – albeit, in a flexible way!  More yoga, more yoga more yoga more yoga more yoga….I internally chant.  Here’s where I love to practice in Philly:Wake Up Yoga,  friendly, knowledgeable, grateful yogis abound here!  Shankya Yoga in Northern Liberties – a loving and  peaceful oasis,  and my new favorite for authentic Jivamukti (and Ashtanga when I’m daring!) Shanti Yoga Shala, newly opened in Old City by the beautifully souled Shiya.  For 2010, I’m making my home away from home these three beautiful studios.

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Like others, I came across calendula late in life. In fact, my first born, Lucie, with her never-ending diaper rash on the cutest behind in the world, inadvertently turned me on to its healing powers. It is “one of the top five healers and skin tonics aiding everything from acne and rosacea to eczema and psoriasis. healing, soothing herb which repairs dry, damaged skin, prevents premature aging, aids in the treatment of bruises, spider veins, boils, sores, burns, wrinkles, swelling, and stretch marks to name a few. also imparts shades of gold and yellow naturally.” As I lathered her behind, with Weleda’s Calendula Baby Cream , I began to notice how great my cracked and aging hands started to look. As Lucie was a winter baby, my mitts were cracked and sore!

Calendula, etymologically speaking (Latin), “by the month” referring to the flowers’ long lasting blooms. Calendula, related to the pot marigold, is an herbaceous plant with yellow-rayed flowers. Look to calendula to help heal your skin! You won’t have to look far. Of course, the calendula should be sourced from an organic, biodynamic and holistic source. Try Suki’s Complexion Brightening Creme which lightens, brightens and really heals all types of stressed, discolored or sun-damaged skin. And for healthy, gorgeous hair, I recommend Sevi Organics Sea Berry Shampoo and Condition, rich in calendula and babussu, olive and lavender oils. Best of all, the smell of this healing flower is beautiful, your skin, hair and nose will thank you!

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Ok, liabilities up front: I am not a chemist. Chemistry class remains a vague, distant and confused high-school memory and something I avoided at all costs in college. However, I do know, as we all do, that plastics, polymers, copolymers, epoxy, polystyrene, to name a few… and most important to your hair style – polyvinylpyrrolidone or PVPs are usually synthetically formulated with non-renewable and hazardous petroleum-derived chemicals. Inhaled particles can cause serious problems in our lungs. Plastics, in all their glorious forms – goopy, sticky, stretchy, durable, and bouncy, are found in every conceivable product and/or its packaging – it’s hard to escape them. We all know that recycling these plastics and cutting back on their use is imperative.

Oh, a day without plastic….what would that look like?

Let’s start that day with you – getting yourself ready. PVPs are used in hairsprays, styling gels, nail polishes, mascaras – all the “must-haves” for many of us. And, what about those plastics in your hairspray….how are they going to be recycled? In what recycling bin does one dispose of PVP particles? No need to fret. Read your labels, of course! Rule of thumb: if your scalp or skin feels itchy and flaky, chances are there’s probably some suspicious ingredients in your body products.Some good suggestions and great products follow: Zoya Nail Polishes! Toulene, phthalate, formaldehyde and acetone free….great long-lasting colors…love them! Miessence’s styling gel conditions and nourishes the hair while providing terrific hold without flakes or build-up.

And my personal can’t-live-without, Morrocco Method’s Blood of the Dragon Gel – full of restorative and rare conditioning herbs – provides hold and encourages healthy hair growth -it’s full of hair restorative goodies from the sea including kelp, nori, kombu and fucus! See previous post on hair loss! Remember the inter-connectiveness of everything – let your grooming rituals be plastic-free!

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Big day at juju salon & organics in Philadelphia today!  Today, juju sponsored Greyhound Angel Adoption‘s Meet and Greet. Some four-legged furry friends, in need of “forever” homes, came in for a green beauty day.  Alicia and Hannah were able to convince a few salon goers and passer-bys, that greyhounds make Greyt City Pets!  And juju was the perfect salon setting to stage this meet and greet, after all, juju salon is completely cruelty free – all of the wonderful organic products contain NO animal by products and are NEVER tested on animals.  Most of juju’s organic products are vegan, and we sell straight-out organic doggy shampoo (John Master’s Organics, Dogpoo) and other pet-friendly balms and oils!

Why Greyhounds?  We’ve rescued two amazing and beautiful greyhounds, Neshi and Mimi, and we want to share our fabulous furry fortune with everyone.  We are city folks, with city kids and now city dogs.  Most people who don’t know greyhounds think they need a big yard and lots of running around.  Not necessarily.  Greyhounds are known as the 45 MPH Couch Potato, because of their penchant to sleep a good 16-18 hours a day!  A few walks daily will keep them very happy…as will a big, cushioned dog bed and someone to give them the love and attention they need.

Look for more greyhound action at juju organics soon! Our on-line store launch party on January 20, 2010 will benefit Angel Greyhound Adoption.  In addition, we hope to sponsor many many more meet and greets (and sniffs and petting!) at juju!  How ’bout a spa day for some greyhound girls!

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