Pumpkin Cream Cheese Quick Bread


It's pumpkin season and this may be a perfect way to put it to good use.  This bread is light on pumpkin flavor but super moist and extremely delicious.  You can also freeze pumpkin puree measured into 1 c. containers to make this throughout the winter.  


I have not yet attempted a vegan version of this.  If I get brave I'll let you know......  Be careful not to over bake it.


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread
This recipe makes 2 loaves.

3 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1 - 8oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature
12 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 1/2 sticks)
2 c. granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 c. pumpkin puree (either canned or fresh)
3/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Coarse Sugar for the top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two loaf pans (9x5x3").

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Stir until blended.

In a separate bowl, with a mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy.  Add the sugar and beat, at medium speed, until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, continuing to beat after each addition.  Add the flour mixture, gradually, beating just until blended.  Stir in the pumpkin, nuts (if using) and/or chocolate chips (if using).

Spoon batter into the prepared pans.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar if using.

Bake 45 - 55 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and allow to cool completely on the wire racks.

Fall Is Almost Over?



Is it possible that fall is almost over?  Temp's here are in the upper 60's and low 70's so you'd never know that it's the end of October.  This just doesn't usually happen!  Even the leaf peepers were likely disappointed this year........it was so warm that the leaves just kind of crumbled off of the trees.  Although they were pretty, there didn't seem to be the same brilliance of color that is typical in this area.

To celebrate the warmer temps, I dressed the boys up in sweaters and took photos for this year's Christmas card.  I tried to sell it to them by explaining that they wouldn't even be chilly!!  They still hated it. They are not fans of sweaters and not fans of the camera......

Regardless, I think they look handsome!

Hoping your fall is marvelous!!

10 Tips For Selling At Craft Shows & Farmer's Markets



So you've followed along with the first 5 years of our business, Cobble Hill Farm Apothecary.  You've learned that it's been a crazy ride with a business that (thankfully) has truly taken off.  You've also learned that we've never worked harder in our lives.

It's true!

Please know that it hasn't all been lollipops and rainbows.  We have had many many struggles.  Certainly some financially, but also in so many other ways, as all businesses do.  But we've pushed through them.  I've been at wits end and declared that I don't care if the business succeeds or fails (I was sleep deprived.....), we've had issues with products or packaging, or setting up at a show that has sent us over the edge (temporarily).  But this happens with any profession.

And those moments always pass.

We've made a lot of sacrifices, we've certainly made mistakes, poor decisions, etc.  But we've survived.  And even thrived!!  And we've met some amazing people through it all.  We have also learned just what it is to be grateful.  It's not just a word, it's a feeling that goes through your whole darned body, right into your bones and comes out in a huge smile.

We've done our fair share of markets and craft shows.  I really enjoy them.  I enjoy getting to know the other vendors, touching base with customers we only see at those shows, and getting to meet new customers.  Here are a few things I've learned about selling at craft shows through our last few years:

1. Figure Out Your Space BEFORE The Show.
     If your application does not tell you what size of space you will have, email the person putting the show together to find out.  Then, spend some time figuring out your space to best display your products as well as for the flow of traffic.  Customers must be able to have enough space to spend time at your booth.  If not, they'll likely pass on by without making a purchase. Figure out how many tables, chairs, etc. you will need to bring.
     We used to find out the space size and then lay out our tables in our yard to figure out product placement and flow.  Now we've been in just about any type of space and worked them all out so we keep photos on our phones.  Once we're at the show we pull up the photo and we're good to go!


2. Keep Your Product Pricing True To Your Company
     At every single show/market you do, unless you have a very unique item, you will have some sort of competition.  It's very easy to walk around, looking at the competition, and then question your own pricing.  Keep it the same show to show.
     I cannot stress enough how critical it is to the success of your business to figure out your pricing early on.  Changing it once you've created a following can be very difficult.  Trust me, I know.  When we first started, we offered much smaller bars of soap.  When we decided to go larger with our bars, we knew we'd also need to increase costs.  This made sense to customers.  But we were also still trying to get customers to purchase our soap over a competitors.  We knew that if they would just use our soap, they would feel the difference and purchase ours again and again.
     So, we only adjusted our pricing by $1.00, although we should have adjusted it by $2.00 per bar.  We went for 1 year before increasing to where we needed to be.  Because the bar size had not changed with the second increase, we had a few negative comments.  And I completely understand that.  It was a decision we made and then we had to stick with.
     Always display your prices.  Think from the viewpoint of a consumer.  There's nothing worse than entering a booth, admiring the items in it, and then realizing you'll have to ask the person for pricing of every single thing.  You will lose sales if this is the case.

3. Make Connections With Your Customers & Don't Let Negative Nancy's Get You Down
     We have the best customers.  We truly do!  I will tell you that 99.6% of the people we meet are supportive, kind, gracious with their feedback, and are the best darned customers anyone could ever have.  We make true connections with them.  (They actually sell our products for us many times which is amazing that they believe in them, and us, that much!!) And then there's the .04%......  You will always have someone who isn't so gracious with their feedback.

     --You must have thick skin if you're going to deal with the public.--

     The thing that the .4% forget is this.  Your products, those things that you pour love, blood, sweat and tears into, is an extension of you.  You take it personal.  How could you not?  People who lack tact or who are just plain mean will come into your life.  Thankfully, not frequently.  But they will.  Learn to let it go.  What we try to do is to weed through the nonsense (making faces, condescending remarks, etc.) to see if there is any value at all in their (very poorly delivered) message.  If not, let it go.  If there is, we let go of the manner in which they provided the message and try to just deal with the message.  The good thing is that this is so very rare, in the grand scheme of things, it's easy to let go of.
     Be kind and not used-car-salesman-y.  Think about how you like to be treated when you shop and provide that same experience to your customers.  Every.single.time.



4.  Presentation Is Everything
     I know this seems obvious, but it can easily be overlooked.  You need people to want to enter your booth.  You have seconds to make this happen and it all comes from what they can see from the aisle.  Think about aesthetics and use props that fit your product to evoke a feeling (comfortable, warm, friendly, decadent, etc. - whichever fits your product).  Don't think of it from an "I'm standing in my booth and this is what I see", rather from an "I'm walking by in the aisle and this is what I see".  It's a bit of a different perspective.
     Build your display up, not just out.  Use risers for your tables to get products in better view of your customers, and use shelving to help get your products higher, at eye-level.  Your booth automatically looks fuller and customers don't have to squat to see something.
     And keep it clean.....not too much clutter.

5. Go To The Right Venues For Your Products
     Obviously, this can be hard when you first start out.  You'll do a lot of trial and error.  But often, if you've been to the show or market in the past as a consumer, you get a sense of whether or not it's right for your product.  Don't return to (or go for the first time) to a show that's not the right fit.  It's a waste of time and money.
     We have a show that we've done for the past 2 years because it's near our home.  We do "ok" at it.  But the reality is, it's not the right fit.  We had to admit that to ourselves after doing it this year.  It's a nice show, great venue and well organized, but we won't return.  There are too many others out there on the same weekend that will likely be a better fit.
     Another part of what makes that decision for us is sales.  We've set a dollar amount that we must do per show in order to continue it.  Again, there's just too many shows out there to waste time settling for less.  We do override that rule if there's a show that seems a good fit but we aren't making what we'd like.  We'll give it a few years to see if we can tweak our booth to increase sales.  If it doesn't happen, we cut it from the schedule.

6. Offer Products In High And Low Price Points
     If you can do this, it's the one thing that can make a huge difference in making a sale versus not making a sale.  Many small sales will amount to as much, or possibly more, than a few big sales.  Additionally, you get your products into more hands which means there's a better chance at building a larger following of repeat customers.
     Think about when you enter a store that you are just in love with.  You love their look, you love their products, you love everything about them.  You want to bring something home from that store to remember it by.  If you can't find anything within your price range, you likely don't buy anything at all.

7. Be Prepared
     So this category is very broad, but it's the little things that can make it much easier for you.

  •      Think about sales - do you have a way to record them?  A calculator?  Do you know the county sales tax amount?  Did you bring enough change and will you keep it in a cash box?  What if someone wants a receipt?  
  • Will you take credit cards?  Will your credit card reader work without internet connection? (some spaces have limited or no connection)
  • Think about food.  You'll need something to eat.  Is there a snack bar?  Will you bring your own food and drink?
  • Think about bringing a second person.  This will allow you to run to the restroom, take a quick break and/or eat without being at your booth.
  • What will you package purchases in?  If you're going to purchase paper bags, why not also purchase labels that you can print your website and business name on as well?
  • What about "down time"?  Is there anything productive you could do if you have the time to do so?  For instance, I always bring soap to wrap.  It's easy to do in a small space and I bring a limited amount so I'm not packing excessive items that may not get completed.
  • What about if it rains?  Can your products get wet?  If you're outside, what will you use if your tent leaks?  If you're inside, what will you use to cover your products while loading and unloading?


8. Advertise Your Business
     Purchase a banner so that customers know right away who you are.  Think about where/how you will hang this.  If you are inside and don't have a wall behind you, will you be able to bring something to hang it from?  What about a banner that goes on your table instead?  (the only downfall is if people are standing in your booth, it may not be visible)
     Bring business cards, brochures, post cards, etc. that people can take with them.  We've also created "thank you" cards that go into every single bag.  This way they have our online store address (even though it's on our products and bags, it's sometimes more obvious on a card) and we've thanked them yet again for their purchase.

9. Streamline Your Process
     If you're planning to sell at multiple shows/markets throughout the year, keep basic things that you may always need packed in totes.  i.e. clips, string, scissors, pens, notepad, credit card reader, napkins, silverware, business cards, brochures, price signs, tablecloths, banner, etc.  Replenish it after every show (literally the same day you return) and then you're sure to not forget to do so before the next show.

10. Make Connections
     You can find out a wealth of valuable information regarding other craft shows and farmer's markets from the other vendors.  Do keep in mind that their experience is not necessarily what your experience will be, but what they share will still be very beneficial.



I'm hoping a few of these ideas come in handy to those of you just starting out.  The next business post will be tips for starting a home-based business.

My Story: Building A Soap Business To Earn Six Figures In 3 Years


As promised, here's a little bit about the business we've created from the ground up.

When I started  Cobble Hill Farm Apothecary in 2013, it was meant to be a "someday" retirement business.  With all of the other soap & skincare companies out there, we honestly had no idea that it would even be a possibility of doing as well as it did so soon.  But it has, and for that we are incredibly grateful. (I purposely start with "I" and change to "we" because it truly did start as my project but very quickly became a team effort)

**Just a "heads up" - I am VERY wordy so this is a lengthy post.**

In The Beginning
In 2013 I made a difficult decision to leave a career that I truly did enjoy.  I left because although I enjoyed the career, I was no longer enjoying the company I worked for.  Without going into detail, the company and I had drastically different ethical viewpoints which, by Spring of 2013, were becoming glaringly obvious.  Because of the position I held in the company, not only was I aware of things I didn't agree with, but I could be held personally and/or professionally responsible for them as well.  So, J and I made the decision that I should leave.

I had nothing lined up, so yes, it was definitely scary.  I'm not entirely sure why I decided to start a business, but one day, just a few weeks into searching for a new job, I announced that was my intention.  J's hours were not consistent - he was a contractor employed by a small local company.  Sometimes they worked full-time, and sometimes part-time. We had not planned on me leaving my career and, therefore, had not properly financially prepared.  The good thing was our current debt situation: we had purchased a home below what we were approved for, we had no car payments, and we had no credit card debt. Because we hadn't properly prepared, it probably wasn't the best time to start a business, but, there's really never a perfect time for anything, is there?   Despite all of this, J was VERY supportive and so the journey began.

We knew from the get-go that we did not want to incur any debt.  So everything was purchased with cash.  I had some recipes I had formulated for products we were already using, but I knew I needed to formulate a few more items to start with.  While I worked on product development, I also started seeking out craft shows.  If you've participated in any, you know that they typically book out 6-12 months in advance.  So, we didn't have a lot of choice, but we did get into a few.

I also wanted to get some honest feedback from people who weren't in my circle of close friends or relatives.  I asked a few fellow bloggers as well as blog followers if they would mind receiving free products and providing honest feedback.  And they all agreed (thank you ladies - you helped immensely!!!).

We both still remember our very first craft show (which we still participate in), the first weekend of November.  We had two tables with 2 small soap boxes, a few herbal salves, a few bottles of lotion, and a selection of gift sets.  I had no idea what to expect.  There were 3 other handcrafted soap and skincare vendors and 2 vendors who were selling brand name soap & skincare.  All had many more products than we had and much larger displays.  At the end of the day, with the small amount of products that we brought, we did pretty good!  We even picked up our first wholesale account.

I was also selling our products in an Etsy store, which actually did very well.  Keeping with the no-debt thought process, as we sold products I used the proceeds to purchase more ingredients, packaging, etc.  We paid the show fees (and all related expenses - gas, food, etc.) from our personal account.  Finances were tight, but we were committed to making it work.

And this is how we slowly built our business from nothing.  As products sold we reinvested, over and over.

Our First Farmer's Market
I went back to work outside of the home once the business was almost a year old.  The reasons were: 1. because we needed a second income and 2. because we were determined to be without any debt with the business.  Everything was (and is still) cash.  Times continued to be tight because we were using our personal account to fund much of the business as we remained in the red for the first 1 1/2 years.

We participated in our first farmer's market that summer.  I'll use one word to describe it...... "depressing".  We are so grateful for the fact that we participated though, and that alone made me remember the potential of every single experience.

It was depressing because it was an incredibly slow market.  There were days we made $30.00 (although after deducting gas and coffee it was a wash), and days we made just over $100.00.  We did not have many larger days than that.  We are grateful, however, first for the very loyal customer base we were able to build there.  Although it was small, it was absolutely worthwhile.  Second, we were grateful that a farmer's market manager from a much larger market (which we had been turned down by that summer) stopped by one day and suggested I apply to his market.  When I told him I had but had been turned down he said "try again" and smiled.  I did, and we were accepted.

That was the first really big break that helped turn our little struggling business around.

This has happened a few times for us - we felt like we were wasting our times with trying new shows that weren't working out financially, and instead of finding sales, we made invaluable connections.  I try to always remain open to what the Universe is offering.

We both distinctly remember the first few markets at this new (to us) farmer's market.  We made almost $300.00 per day and we were ecstatic!!  And little did we know then that would be the smallest amount we would ever make at a show or market going forward.

We had also applied to many fall and winter craft shows that we were accepted to going into year #2.  We received amazing feedback from customers and our sales were doubling and tripling over the year prior.  We started an online store and ended up discontinuing Etsy.  It became difficult to keep up with the inventory between the shows, market, Etsy, and online store.  I streamlined it to just our online store for internet sales.


Growing The Business
Within a year of me returning to work the business had EXPLODED and we had a decision to make.  Stop the business or one of us quit our job to run it.  My husband raised his hand.  It made sense.  My hours, although long, were consistent and his were not.  So J retired from his second career (first was 20 years in the Coast Guard) to start his third career of manufacturing all of our products and managing the farm and the day-to-day.  This was a big step for him.  Up until now he helped (tremendously) with packaging and selling but had little to nothing to do with online sales, customer questions or manufacturing products.

Isn't that how life works?  While we were at one irregular income, our focus was constantly on how to get the business making money in order to stand on it's own.  We were worried that it would take years.  Once we stopped worrying and started actually enjoying the business, it all came together.

Here's the perfect opportunity to put into perspective the (many) hours required for making and selling handcrafted products.  While I was starting the business, I had ample time to formulate, create, package, and sell products.  I always tried to have everything completed by the time J was home from work, or at least the formulating and/or manufacturing portion.  I also devoted time to the blog (which many customers came from) as well as our Etsy and then online store.  Most weekends were devoted to being at craft shows and/or farmer's markets.

Once I returned to work outside of our business, I would formulate and manufacture in the evenings.  I work outside of the home from 6:30a to 5p., five days a week.  When I would get home I would make dinner, do dishes, and take care of the animals.  Then it was time to make/package products, return emails, update the online store, package products for shipping, etc.  Go to sleep, then do it all over again the next day. Weekends were again either selling at craft shows and/or farmer's markets or manufacturing, packaging, etc.  Year-round.  Now, with J doing almost all of the manufacturing of products, it has helped tremendously.  But we still both work 7 days a week.  Year-round.

Trying to grow a business quickly in which you make AND sell the products takes a lot of hard work.  You have to prepare yourself for it.

Me working for someone else has allowed us the opportunity to continue to pour all profit back in.  We've never taken any money from the business. If we had, it could still be successful, it would just take longer to get to where we're at.  Same goes for hiring help or outsourcing some of the process.  There's a cost associated with all of that.  I'm not saying it's wrong to do, it's just not for us.  Additionally, we would have to revisit some of our pricing.  Overhead such as rent, employees, etc. has to be figured into your margin and it currently is not. Last year we hit six figures.  SIX FIGURES!!!!  Crazy, right?  We spent 1 1/2 years in the red.  Year 2 we were in the upper 5 figures and then we hit 6.  This year, even though we've scaled back slightly, we have hit our mark again.

Today
So now we are again at a point of having a handful of more decisions to make.  One of them was to build a new manufacturing space on our property and, as I discussed in a previous post, we have decided to move ahead with that.  We are SUPER excited.  The electricity, plumbing and septic was run last week.  Hooray!!! In the spring the existing building will be gutted and rebuilt.  This brings up the question as to why it wasn't moved out of our home sooner.  The answer is one word......

Overhead.

We are purposely trying to keep our overhead as low as possible.  Would we love to manufacture out of another space?  Yup.  Could we afford to rent a space?  Yup.  But it would be overhead.  Money that has to be made and paid every single month.  We are lucky that we have the space on our property to convert.  We waited until it made financial sense to do it and that time has come.  We will not have any monthly payments associated with it which is a relief for us.

I have only ever advertised our business on a couple of other blogs in addition to our blog.  Our sales outlets continue to be our online store, local craft shows, and farmer's markets.  Although we do have a handful of wholesale accounts, we have purposely not ventured into this arena as of yet.  For really one main reason:  No time to keep up.  Remember, wholesale doesn't have the same margin as retail since you're selling your products for half price.

So you ask, why haven't you left your job to work at your business?  It's a fair question.  We are both very conservative people and we wanted to make sure the money we were making wasn't a fluke.  I am back to working in human resources and am really enjoying it, which certainly makes it much easier to hold off.  We also really wanted to continue to grow the business which we could only do as quickly by putting money back in.  And, of course, we want to remain debt-free.  I know the hours we currently work are not sustainable, but the new manufacturing space (with all new, much larger, equipment) will help out tremendously.

Tomorrow
We certainly have dreams of where we hope this adventure will lead us.  We dream of a much larger farm on a property that will enable us to have a home at one end, and a manufacturing/retail space at the other.  We'd like to have goats, sheep, chickens, and a few rescue farm animals.  Allowing customers on the property to see the animals, watch the manufacturing of products, and shop at our very own store is exactly what we wish for.

I have a ton of ideas on a to-do wishlist including a few products to develop, as well as ebooks or courses on starting a home-based business, selling at craft fairs and farmer's markets, and possibly, a soap & skincare business course.  I also would like to refine a few things within our current product packaging.

Someday.......

One thing is for sure.  Without the amazing support of my husband (financially, emotionally, as well as his willingness to help with everything within the business) it would have been incredibly hard.  I'm sure one person can do this on their own, but I can't imagine growing the business the way we have with just one of us.  Certainly having a single income, that's not related to the start-up business, is the easiest way to get off on the right foot.  Having a limited amount of debt when you do reduce to one income is a huge benefit as well.

If you can do it, despite the very long nights and very few days off, starting your own business really is worth it.



My next post will be a few of the lessons learned and things to consider really for any business primarily selling at craft shows and/or farmer's markets, not just soap & skincare companies.


How To Fail At Homesteading.....


Ok, so the title is a tad bit dramatic.  But friends, it's simply reality.  I could teach a course on how-to fail at homesteading, particularly this year.

sigh......

Probably not a good thing since this is a homesteading blog.  It seems that the attempt to keep all balls in the air whilst one also tries to also craft a homemade life is, um, not possible.  At least not on this small homestead.  And at least not with all of the balls I'm attempting to juggle.

This is just the reality of our life.  I'm an over-achiever (and recovering perfectionist) who hates to wave the white flag but the white flag is raised and waving proudly.

So here's what we've done well, what we've done so-so, and what we've flat out failed at:

Garden.  Not so good.
Outbuilding upkeep/updating.  With the exception of the new soap manufacturing building, not happening.
Making meals from scratch.  Not too bad, but not where I would like it to be.
Food Preservation.  Ummm......what is that?
Products in our online store.  Constantly out-of-stock.

And around the house.....
Deck stained.  Nope.
Stairs built for the front porch.  Nope.
Front porch stripped and re-painted.  Definitely not.

The good news in all of this?  Everyone is well cared for, happy (except a couple of the grumbling coop girls who don't believe they get enough goodies....), and the business is booming.

The garden started off GREAT.  (even shouty all caps worthy!)  Using the black plastic "mulch" was a huge timesaver for weeding, however, the garden still needed some of my time that it just couldn't receive.  Also, as I've complained about for years (and have yet to fix the problem, so it's my own darned fault), the critters feasted heavily on every single thing that did well.  The only thing I can't blame the critters for was the potatoes.  I have no idea what happened to those.

The chickens are doing well but the stress of combining the new girls with the old girls was a lot for the newer girls who had just started laying.  That slowed right down but (thankfully) has picked back up.  The older girls are slowing down anyway, due to age, but I'm sure the stress didn't help any.

I wanted to get flower boxes installed under the chicken coop windows but just didn't find the time to do this.  The barn also needs a bit of TLC that it just couldn't receive this year.  And those darned cold frames I keep promising myself, well, we just didn't get to them again this year.

Cooking from scratch is something I switched to quite a few years ago now and have been very adamant about following.  Because I'm splitting my time between 2 full-time jobs, it does get difficult.  We, for the most part, eat very healthy, but we do go out for lunch and dinner more than I would prefer.

Ah food preservation......what I've been so happy about doing in the past few years just wasn't happening this year.  We were successful at freezing a lot of peppers, some corn and are in the process of freezing winter squash.  We did not, however, get to terribly much in the way of tomatoes preserved.  I made some freezer spaghetti sauce but that's it.  I also didn't get any berries socked away, broccoli, cauliflower, greens, beans, etc.

Around the house, we had a honey-do list a mile long.  We did hire someone to help with a few of the items so those could get checked off but there just hasn't been time to do any of the rest of it.  It's truly a blessing and a curse.  The blessing is that because our business is so busy we run out of time to do anything else.

And now on to the business.  So here's the thing......we are incredibly grateful that we are so crazy busy that we just can't keep up.  Juggling the full-time business with working another full-time job is the reason I did not achieve my homesteading goals this year.  We are so incredibly busy that we just can't keep up with the demand.  Again, incredibly grateful for it, but I know it can be frustrating if you're a customer.  And for that, I am sincerely sorry.

There's been a lot going on with building and running a business, so my next post will be all about that.  It will be all about my venture into creating a soap & skincare business starting with nothing (literally) and growing it to an annual total in the six figures in 3 years.  When I think about it, it just seems crazy!  I've contemplated writing the post and have finally decided to do it.

Please know that I'm not throwing out that we have achieved six figures in sales for any reason other than to let you know that it's possible.  It's possible to create a home-based business that provides an income for your family.

So that's where we're at!

I'm hoping your homestead living went a little smoother this year........

Around The Farm - September





Fall is officially around the corner although based on the temps you would never know it around here.  It's hot.  I am not a fan of the heat and humidity and that's what we're in the midst of currently.  It's been an absolutely beautiful summer (my opinion), mostly because of the lack of the typical warmth.  And now that I long for fall, Mother Nature says "um....not quite yet".

Tomatillos

The garden is about done for the season.  We got hit (again) by critters.  Mostly woodchucks and bunnies.  We do need to fence it off, it's just finding time and making it a priority.  I've planted a few cold-weather crops, although I did plant them a bit late so we'll see how they do.  More herbs, lettuce, broccoli and kale.  I guess if the temps stay up this will give them a good start for fall.

Peppers did pretty well this year.  We've put up quite a few gallon size bags
in the freezer.  We ended up going to a u-pick field for winter squash.  Ours got hit by squash bugs and because I didn't take the time to regularly look at the plants, when I finally figured it out, it was too late.  We had a HUGE infestation.  We were able to harvest quite a bit of summer squash but they took out the winter squash and most of the cukes.




The Coop Girls are doing very well.  The newest of the flock are now laying regularly!!  They have not yet fully integrated with the bigger girls though.  It's very funny.  We had sectioned off the coop with chicken wire panels to keep them all separate until they got bigger.  We also built another outdoor run (this makes 3) so that they would have a safe place as they grew.  We took the panels down last month but they have yet to venture to the other side.  Some of the bigger girls have visited the chicks side, although they choose not to stay for too long, but the chicks say "no way" to visiting them.



We've had a pretty busy summer.  Between our farmer's market on Sundays and miscellaneous craft shows on Saturday, and work, product manufacturing, product packaging, bookkeeping, shipping, and keeping up with all things online, let's just say we're keeping out of trouble.

We've discovered a few new (for us) craft shows that were a lot of fun.  There was one at Round Lake, NY that falls in that category.  The crafts were all of high-quality and it was a great crowd.

We enjoy checking out new shows.  The reality is, not all craft shows are ones that make sense to return to year after year.  Crowds change, the other vendors change, the people running it change, and you discover that it's just not the right fit any longer.  We've had 2 fall in this category, so we're always keeping an eye and ear out for potential replacements.


Round Lake, NY
We have some pretty exciting news!  The red outbuilding on our property (shown below) that currently is J's woodworking shop is going to be gutted and renovated into the new Apothecary shop!!  We have an electrician coming in a couple of weeks to upgrade the electrical panels and run new wiring to this building as well as across the other end of the driveway where we will build J's new woodworking shop.  The reason we're taking this building over is because we can run plumbing to it easier.

It will become the space for manufacturing all of our products as well as storing and shipping too!  The electrical, cable and plumbing will be run this year and the actual renovation will happen in the spring.  We are SOOOOOOOO excited!!  I will have my house back again!!!  We continue to grow organically and slowly because it's important to us not to have debt.  So far so good!


Business now picks up for the holidays so our days are filled with soap, lotion, and the like.  Soon enough Christmas will arrive and the hustle and bustle will slow.  We're trying to remember to slow down (at least a little.....) and enjoy the moments.

Simplify


I've been reading about simplifying your life and came across this quote that I really like:
"When we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past, or a fear for the future".

So very true!!

And then this one: "Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including your relationships with people and your job."

Does this resonate with you as well?