Real Food Meal Plan - Week of December 10, 2017

As I noted in the last post, my focus on our meals is healthy, budget-friendly, homemade, and quick & easy when possible.  We try to eat locally and in-season although we don't hold ourselves to only local or in-season.  In-season veggies, for instance, in upstate NY in the winter are limited.

I mean, a girl can only eat so much winter squash......

And I truly believe that eating greens, cruciferous vegetables and berries daily is a must, so, that means it will not be a fully in-season diet.  One benefit to running our business is that we are at the farmer's market every single Sunday so it is an easy way to incorporate local food shopping into our week.

I have been asked where we grocery shop.  We shop at our farmer's market, the military commissary, Hannaford, Fresh Market (mostly fruit, veggies and sometimes meat/seafood) and Aldi for a few things.  Price Chopper only when we are buying a special sale item in bulk.

On to this weeks menu!

Weekly Meal Plan:
Breakfast - Breakfast Burritos
Lunch - Black Bean, Cilantro & Veg Soup (me), Ham Sandwich & Chips (J)
Dinner - Roasted Mushrooms & Veg (me), Marinated Chicken Breast (J), Crispy Roasted Parmesan Potatoes, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Breakfast - Oatmeal with Berries & Raw Almonds
Lunch - Black Bean, Cilantro & Veg Soup (me); Ham Sandwich & Chips (J); Apple with Nut Butter = snack
Dinner - Jambalaya (chicken, sausage, & shrimp) and Oven-Roasted Broccoli

Breakfast - Oatmeal with Berries & Raw Almonds
Lunch - Minestrone Soup (me); Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (J); Orange = snack
Dinner - Vegan Pad Thai (me), Quick & Easy Chicken Parm, Penne Pasta, and steamed Spinach (J)

Breakfast - Oatmeal with Berries & Raw Almonds
Lunch - Black Bean, Cilantro & Veg Soup (me); Ham Sandwich & Chips (J); Apple with Nut Butter = snack
Dinner - Skillet-Fried Pork Chops (J), Potato Pierogies, and Oven-Roasted Veggies (winter squash, cauliflower, mushrooms & peppers)

Breakfast - Oatmeal with Berries & Raw Almonds
Lunch - Minestrone Soup (me); Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (J); Orange = snack
Dinner - Marinated Steak Tips (J), Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Stir-Fry Veggies (broccoli, peppers, & onions)

Breakfast - Oatmeal with Berries & Raw Almonds
Lunch - Black Bean, Cilantro & Veg Soup (me); Ham Sandwich & Chips (J); Apple with Nut Butter = snack
Dinner - Beans & Greens (me); Salisbury Steak (J), Steamed Rice, and Spinach

Breakfast - French Toast
Lunch - Tortellini & Sausage Soup (J); Kale & Bean Soup (me)
Dinner - French Chicken In A Pot (J), Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, and Oven-Roasted Brussels sprouts, Sweet Potato, & Carrots

Sunday Prep:

  • Make Black Bean Soup, Tomato, & Minestrone Soup

Additional Notes:
  • The steak tips and pork chops were put in marinade prior to freezing so that as they un-thaw in the refrigerator they also marinate.
  • We already had the squash (from our garden) & chicken (from those we raised & harvested) 
Weekly Grocery Expense:
  • Commissary = $83.75
  • Farmer's Market (spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots & burger) = $27.00
  • Fresh Market = $12.00

Weekly Meal Plans Are Back!!

image courtesy of

I know, I's been a while.  Although I've continued to plan our meals weekly I haven't taken the time to share them.  I'm trying to get back in the swing of things and sharing these posts is part of that.  Thank you to those who have emailed asking for their return!!

So, meal planning has changed a bit for me this year.  Last year my focus was on trying to keep the weekly budget at $60.00 or less.  This year I changed it to trying to do more "local" eating - farmer's markets, our garden, etc.  Next year my focus changes even a bit more.....I'm focused more on freezer meals, using the slow-cooker and/or instant pot, as well as quick & easy meals (1/2 hour start to finish).  I, like all of you, need things simplified.  But we want it to taste good too.  I will absolutely share any recipes that we find fit within this guideline AND taste delicious.  With this, we are still trying to keep everything under budget AND trying to continue to eat as local and healthy as possible.

You've read about my change to a more vegan diet.  This was to help control some health issues.  I continue to eat very little animal products although I do, from time-to-time, have seafood, chicken, butter and/or Parmesan.  You may recall that I had dropped dairy to help control my seasonal allergies (I'm not allergic to dairy at all, rather molds, pollen, dust, dogs, and cats) and it has worked SO WELL!!!  Although there is absolutely positively no good alternative to cream or half & half in coffee ( can't get me to buy into the thought that nut milks or coconut milk are fair me they just aren't), I'm learning to deal with it.

I've shared in the past that meal plans are such a time saver!!  They really help both our budget (we aren't eating out as much and we aren't wasting money on groceries purchased that we don't eat) and sanity (I know exactly what I'm cooking each night).

So although I plan our meals monthly, I'll share them weekly.  I'll also share my monthly freezer prep at the end of every month.  Spending a few hours prepping meals and parts of meals for the next month is a real timesaver.  It just takes getting into the habit of doing it.

Meal plans will start this Saturday. 

How about you?  Do you use weekly or monthly meal plans?

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 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.

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......


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.

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.


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.