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I am wife to Stewart, mama of five, homeschooler, messy cook, and avid fermenter. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
944 articles written by Shannon


Yep, we’re throwing in the towel on the no spend months, for several reasons.

  1. While my husband is home we would like to attempt to heal a few symptoms in all of us. We are attempting to do this by cutting out all sugars, starches, legumes, grains and dairy. We both ate the SAD diet up until a couple of years ago. While our health has vastly improved since then, we still have many years to heal from. Our toddler also needs to heal his gut due to a round of antibiotics I had right after his birth. He and I have both had symptoms of an unhealthy gut since those antibiotics (he got them through my breast milk) and we are seizing this opportunity to heal up.
  2. There are a few things we would like to do and purchase while my husband is home. Namely a date for my husband & I while we have a babysitter & winter clothes for all of us. Our no spend challenge has opened my eyes to a concept I call mindful purchasing and so we will be purchasing clothes with that in mind. This will help us avoid the disgusting consumerism that goes on this time of year, while buying high quality & hopefully handmade clothing.
  3. We have both saved money and learned so much from this experience already. I will do a write up of all that I have learned later, but for now let me say that I am very thankful to simply have had this experience.


Spent: ~$28.00.

This was our milk & egg order for the week.

Car Mileage

Spent: $11.00

Other Expenses

Spent: $0

Wrapping it up

Total spent: $39.00.

Our last week ended well and while I had hoped to see this to the end of the two months, I know that we have gotten everything out of the experience that we could.

Thank you for joining me for another no-spend week.

Now THIS is the kind of chocolate I am talking about. I will try to talk my husband into see about ordering some of this chocolate once our no spend challenge is over.

I love how he talks about going beyond Fair Trade:

“I shop fair trade as much as possible. How do you pay your farmers and how do they share in the profits?
I love the Fair Trade idea. I believe that we have to be vigilant that Fair Trade does not become a marketing gimmick or reduced to a bumper sticker. We must ask the questions and dig deeper to find out how the company treats those that supply them raw materials AND how they treat their own employees. Fair Trade has been scrutinized because some question if the money ever finds its way to the farmer in the field and not coop bureaucrats. My chocolate is not “certified” Fair Trade mainly because the farmers I deal with cannot afford the certification and they are very very loosely organized. They are very poor. I go way way beyond Fair Trade and here is how I do it–

  1. I deal DIRECT with the farmers 100%. I have a rule that I will not buy beans from farmers I have not met – in person. This is hard because I travel a lot and while it is fun it’s not always easy. The travel is not the hard part; it is the complicated nature of importing that I do myself. I have a local company that handles shipping and customs clearing, but other than that it is all me. I am the only chocolate factory in the US (that I am aware of) that sources 100% of their beans direct. There may be one other person who does this, but I cannot verify this and he is a much smaller company. When I go to these origins I see the farms and determine myself the issues that a Fair Trade certifier would look at. The main thing is that I am building relationships with the farmers and their families. This is hard and takes time, but it is worth it.
  2. I pay far above the Fair Trade market price (which is set above the world market price) for beans.
  3. I have implemented a program called Stake in the OutcomeTM (a profit sharing program for the farmers) which is described below and on our website at The Farmers. This guarantees to the farmers open books. This is not a negotiation tactic to get them to lower the price on the beans; it is in ADDITION to what I pay them for the beans. I know the name of every farmer who contributed to the crop in both locations. This is something that I doubt any other chocolate maker in the world can say. You can’t share with someone if you don’t know their name. I distributed my first profits in Ecuador in December 2007 and in Mexico in January 2008. These were, by far, my best days yet in the chocolate business! They said that nobody had ever come back to thank them let alone share money with them and show the books.”

I also love that he’s a family man and isn’t afraid to show his sentimentality towards them in his product:

“What do the “1-2-3” and “toot-toot” mean on the back of the bar packaging?
1-2-3 is something that my wife and I have been writing in cards and notes to each other for nearly 25 years. Nobody but us knows what it means and this was my little tribute to her on the package. Our daughter says that we need to put the meaning in our will or safe deposit box so they can know what it means someday. As for “toot-toot”, when our daughter Lawren was little and we tucked her in at night we would leave her room and say “night night” and she responded “toot-toot” for some odd unexplainable reason. This phrase has carried on with us now for years. Putting “toot-toot” on the package was my way of remembering her in those days long ago.”

When If I order this chocolate, I will DEFINITELY do a review for y’all. Perhaps even a giveaway!