“Mommies Mean Business” Monday: Melanie Searl

By Guest Author, Melanie Searl:



I’ve been teaching for a long time!  It was my life long dream since I was in middle school. I feel so blessed to have a career that I love!  Not everyone can say that!

I am very passionate about education and children.   I received my National Board Certification in 2007, I have written and received Donorshoose.org funding over the past few years and two grants for my school just this year!  I have created new programs within the schools where I have worked, reading programs, Kindergarten camps, and such.  I am very successful and I truly love my students.  So what’s the problem?   Teachers in NC have had a hard road the past 5-6 years…no raises, higher demands, fewer supplies/resources to name a few.  The price of everything is going up and our paychecks are not.   It is VERY disheartening for even the most dedicated teacher!  Life happens…. I wish I could do my job for free but I cannot…my family is growing up and so is the cost of living!   I have 2 boys of my own and I recently remarried and now have a step son and step daughter. They all range in age from 7-13.  Additionally, in 2011, I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer.  I am happy to say I am a survivor but the bills still linger on.  My kids are growing…2 need braces right now, then there are field trips, clothing needs, the cost of gas and health care!!!!

 I’m sure you can all relate…

 So, what is a teacher with one of the lowest salaries in the country to do (NC is ranked #47 out of 50 in teacher salaries) Some teachers can fall back on their husband’s salary and some leave the field altogether.  Many get a second job working part time…I tried that too!  They paid me $7.50 an hour minus taxes. I had to put more gas in the car weekly and I missed baseball games and school functions with my kids because I had to work.  Not a very good option, but I did it for over 2 years!  Ideally, I would love to open my own childcare facility but the cost and the risk is just to steep at this point and a franchise is a half million dollars.

 On January 1st of this year, I decided to begin a journey in direct sales…I can make my own hours, work around baseballs games, dental appointments, writing lesson plans and completing report cards.  Which one????   There are so many!!!

994693_702289513138793_890327440_nMy answer was…South Hill Designs.  It is a direct sales company that launched last year and has experienced tremendous growth!  I call it my “affordable little franchise.”  It costs $199 to start up and they even have a kit for$59.  I started with the $199 kit and made that back with out even trying.  The product is affordable interchangeable lockets and charms. “Share your Story…Wear your Story” is the company’s motto.  I’m not in it to make a fortune…just help out w

ith the bills and still have time to be a mom, plan for my students, and help out at my church.  It is a fun way to meet people, be creative, and make what is turning out to be decent extra money when I want, not when some tells me to be there!


 If you are looking for a way to supplement your income, I highly recommend you take a hard look at direct sales…of course, I highly recommend South Hill Designs!  If not South Hill, look for something that suits your personality. Find a product that would be easy for you to promote.


I am building a team of women that want to start their own “affordable little franchise.” You would be in business for yourself but not by yourself!  South Hill Designs has amazing trainings and support plus you’d have me to help you!

Please check out my website: www.southhilldesigns.com/melaniesearl

You can shop, host a social, or join!

“LIKE” my facebook page…  Charming Reflections

I welcome questions!  Please email me: melaniesearl212@gmail.com

Best wishes to you!!!!

Melanie Searl


Why My Kid’s Allergies Don’t Mean Your Kid Can’t Have a Birthday Party


I have so many reactions to this article I read today in Huffington Post called, “Why Do Your Kid’s Allergies Mean My Kid Can’t Have a Birthday?” By Carina Hoskisson.  I’m going to limit myself to 6 points.

1) I love to read a fully thought out explanation of the other side of this great debate. It can be hard to really get at the heart of why some people are against classroom food limitations when all they do is defend their “right to eat whatever they want” without showing any understanding of the real issue.  This mom seems to at least understand what the issue is and she addresses it.

2) I will never hold others responsible for providing my child with a safe alternative.  That’s my job and I’m equipped for it. You tell me when the treats are coming and I will make sure my child has a safe alternative.

3) The assertion that allergy free=unhealthy is ignorant.  Period.

4) The comparison of a child being left out of a celebration because they are allergic to the treat to her child choosing not to eat a treat because he doesn’t like it is a ridiculous one.  One is a life threatening condition that deprives children of treats they wish they could have which others are enjoying around them.  The other is a preference and a choice not to eat something that has been offered and you could safely accept.  Seriously????

5) The idea that you cannot have a celebration at school without cupcakes/cookies/brownies is part of why we’re facing a childhood obesity epidemic. Every celebration does not have to revolve around junk food or food at all. There are so many wonderful alternatives. One blogger, Cooking For Stella, suggests a book donation on her Facebook post where I originally saw this article posted. Yep, bring a guest reader from home to read a new book and donate it to your classroom library. Fantastic!

6) You are right about one thing.  You absolutely have a right not to show compassion and understanding.  Just because a child who is born with a life threatening illness that causes them to be excluded from life’s little celebrations daily does not mean you have to show any consideration for their feelings or well-being whatsoever.  Kindness cannot be demanded.  It is optional.  All I know is, we have been shown great kindness and understanding anyway from so many people around us.  It’s a choice and those who choose love and compassion are touching lives.  They are also teaching their children by example how to do the same.

By the way, if you choose to exercise your right to withhold compassion, you might be interested in the tutorial How To Crush A Food Allergy Mom.

I just want to add that my daughter came home from her Valentine’s Day celebration at school this week and we began the usual examination of her bag to remove all of the treats for label reading and inspection. The class had not been specifically told what to send, although they are all aware of her allergies. EVERY SINGLE VALENTINE was safe for her, with the exception of one sneaky cross contamination label. (Yes, I just teared up writing that sentence.) How many people think the other kids felt deprived or slighted because the candy was allergy safe? I’m guessing zero.  We are so lucky to be surrounded by a group of loving human beings who choose compassion.

YoDish Gets Ears, Say Cheers!

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If you are gluten and dairy free, your next trip to Walt Disney World just got a lot easier.  Sarah Norris of Gluten Free and Dairy Free at WDW, has contributed over 200 gluten and dairy free dish reviews to YoDish.  Check out the official news release from YoDish and even more info on the Gluten Free Dairy Free at WDW blog.

Sarah is an expert on dining with restrictions, especially at Disney.  Her blog is full of useful information on dining at Disney and we are thrilled to offer quick access to her reviews on the go, via YoDish.  Gluten Free Dairy Free at WDW is a valuable resource to anyone who will be dining at Disney with gluten and dairy allergies, as well as other restrictions which she sometimes is able to address in restaurant reviews on her blog.

YoDish is all about community.  Dining out with a restricted diet can be isolating and difficult, even dangerous.  There is so much leg work to be done in order to visit a restaurant for the first time with a restriction.  Collaborations, such as these, go a long way to eliminate some of the leg work, eliminate unwelcome surprises, and to make any dining experience more successful and enjoyable.  By seeing exactly what a modified dish might look like and reading a brief description of a meal, such as you will see in Sarah Norris’s reviews, the doors are opened for a better dining experience.  When you open the app, it will show you reviews that fit your dining profile based on proximity to where you are.  Here are a few of the GF/DF at WDW dish reviews that you will find on YoDish.

House Fries Pollo al Pastor Fantasy Roll Beignets

Download the Yodish App to your iPhone or iPad, free!

To find out more about the YoDish Blogger’s Program, go to Yodish.com and click on “Bloggers” in the top menu bar.


Recipe: Raspberry Filled Chocolate Candy (free from egg, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and gluten)

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Well, I set out to replicate a peppermint patty, using this wonderful looking recipe from Primal Palate as my base and ended up going in a different direction with it.  I still intend to do the peppermint patty eventually, but for now, I’m really glad we went with these.   They are the perfect decadent treat.

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Ingredients for chocolate:

1 bag Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels

1 tbsp Coconut Oil

1/4 tsp. raspberry flavoring, like this one from Frontier Natural Products Co-op

Ingredients for filling:

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 tbsp. honey (sub maple syrup for vegan option)

1/4 tsp. raspberry flavoring

1/4 tsp. clear vanilla extract

5 mashed fresh red raspberries  (frozen will work, but thaw completely first)

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Use a silicone candy mold for shaped chocolates or a mini muffin pan with liners for chocolate cups, similar to the soy nut butter chocolates found here.  I tried both ways and they were equally easy and delicious.

Melt together chocolate morsels, 1 tbsp coconut oil, and 1/4 tsp. raspberry flavoring in a small pot over low heat or a double boiler.  Spoon small amount of melted chocolate into the bottom of each liner or candy mold.  Place in freezer to harden for about 10 minutes.

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Combine all filling ingredients in a medium bowl and combine until all ingredients are completely incorporated.  Remove hardened candy layer from freezer and add a small amount of filling to each mold/cup.  Do not flatten, but press down if the filling is above the level of the mold.  Fill the rest of the cup with melted chocolate to cover the raspberry filling.  If your chocolate has begun to thicken, just reheat and stir until smooth before filling.  Place your candies back in the freezer for about 15 more minutes until hardened.  Remove from molds and enjoy!

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From silicone heart shaped mold

“Mommies Mean Business” Monday: Kelly Holtman

By guest author, Kelly Holtman
I am a Mom, I am an Addict.
Hello, my name is Kelly and I am an addict.  I am fully aware of this fact and will be the first to admit it. My addiction is stronger than me.  It is unrelenting and will be with me for the rest of my long life.  It has taken its hold on me and has a life grip.  I am addicted to being healthy, keeping my family healthy, and supporting others to get and stay healthy.  I don’t plan on kicking this addiction so please don’t plan an intervention on my behalf.  It will be a waste of time for all of us unless of course you adopt my addiction. Then we can be codependent health junkies and work together to recruit more junkies.  The more, the merrier, right?  Party time!
I am a full-time stay at home mom of two turned full-time stay at home mom of two with a home-based health and wellness business.  Many deep belly breaths and a glass of antioxidant-filled red wine are necessities most evenings.  My beautiful five-year old daughter, Brooke, is the entire reason I started my Juice Plus business.  I owe it all to her. Brooke had reoccurring sinus infections as a baby and toddler and caught every virus that lived in our town of Huntersville it seemed.  The pharmacists at Target knew me by name and were practically at the point of asking me, “The usual, Kelly?” Antibiotics were our friend…or so I thought back then.  A friend of mine suggested bringing her to a chiropractor. So I did, I was a desperate mommy. Within a few months her sinus infections were becoming  fewer and farther between!  Her immune system was improving a bit as well but she missed a good amount of school that year from catching those darn bugs.  Right around the end of her preschool year we were walking into our second home and I noticed a sweet petite woman buzzing around with Dixie cups and what looked like fruit gummies of some sort. Well, of course, a powerful magnetic force pulled my kids right to her and they gobbled down those gummies and smoothies like ravenous vultures.  I soon learned she was sharing Juice Plus gummies and Juice Plus Complete smoothies with us.  Little did I know that this woman was going to become my Juice Plus mentor and “Juice Plus Mama” as I now call her.   That day I learned why Juice Plus is something my family absolutely 100% needed. I learned that although it is no replacement for fruits and vegetables in our diet, it is a tried and proven way to bridge the gap between the fruits and vegetables we DO eat everyday and what we SHOULD eat.  I learned that 96% of Americans do not eat the 7-13 servings of raw produce per day they should be and in fact most Americans eat less than 2 servings on a daily basis. Say what? Sign me up! It just made sense to me, Juice Plus made sense. So we started to eat Juice Plus of course! It was the biggest no-brainer for me to date.
Fast forward one month.  I decided to start my Juice Plus business and I can honestly say it is the best decision I have ever made. It is the most fulfilling job I have ever had, besides being a mom of course.  There are a lot of things that make me happy in this world like blasting 90’s grunge in my car on a solo car ride or when my kids tell me they love me, but not much else tops the feeling of sharing Juice Plus with someone, having them make the choice to start, and then hearing how it is impacting their lives. It is my drug of choice.  A close second is when someone decides to join my team and help me spread the word.  Yay for more health junkies!  We are one big happy Juice Plus family of addicts and I am so proud to be a part of it.
Fast forward six months.  Brooke has missed ZERO days of school, my husband who has suffered from severe migraines on a weekly basis since the age of 15 has had a handful of mild headaches, and I have more energy than the Duracell bunny on 5 Hour Energy.  Within a month of eating Juice Plus, I experienced better mental clarity.  I had that foggy Mommy brain before (you all know what I mean) and now I can truly say that I don’t.  Now, I am not saying this will happen for you because everyone is different and have different bodies. However, I know the power of Juice Plus when it gets in the body and it is undeniable when you look at the research and hear testimonials from people.  When you give your body what it needs, it will become its own pharmacy and heal what ails it. It really truly will.  It is a beautiful thing!
I am full force into my business venture these days and my team is growing! I have made new friends and reconnected with old ones. Three of my four sisters are on my team and I couldn’t be more excited unless of course four of my four sisters were on my team. I am even undergoing a Complete Transformation! Think clean, think plant-based, think energy, think HEALTH. It literally transforms your mind, body and spirit. Sounds nice, right?
I even bought a Tower Garden which is a miracle in itself since the only green on my thumb would be nail polish.  It is an aeroponic way of gardening right on your back deck. No soil, no weeds, no sweat! My kind of gardening.
My name is Kelly.  I am an addict. I am addicted to feeling good. I am addicted to my family feeling good. I am addicted to helping others feel good. I am addicted to living life to the Plus.  Who’s with me?
*Any opinions expressed within this blog post are those of the author. For the most up to date information, prices, offers and more regarding this Mommy’s business and/or products, please contact the featured mommy directly. Supportive comments are also welcome!!!  Thank you for reading and sharing.