A Home-Based Baker Shouldn’t Have To Choose Between Her Dog and Business

Hula is a good girl. She gets overly excited when guests visit, and sometimes she pokes her nose through the backyard fence and barks. But she follows one important rule: She avoids the room between the kitchen and the driveway.

No dogs are allowed inside. Hula, a 7-year-old Belgian shepherd mix, learned quickly when her human parents renovated the space in November 2022, adding an oven, freezer, cooktop and mixers. “She knows not to go in there,” says Hula’s mom, who uses the pet-free zone for a homemade cookie business and asked to remain anonymous for this piece.

The door mostly stays closed anyway, creating clear boundaries between the main kitchen for family meals and the workspace for “cottage food,” which refers to homemade food for sale. The setup eliminates any sanitation concerns about indoor pets.

“I have really high standards for myself,” says Hula’s mom. “My product is a reflection of me and my integrity.”

Despite the safeguards, Hula’s existence jeopardizes the business. North Carolina, where the family lives, bans pets in homes used for cottage food production. The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services makes no exceptions. Even a goldfish or hamster could turn an otherwise legal business into a criminal enterprise.

The pet prohibition puts Hula’s mom in a bind. She could stop selling cookies, move to another state, or lease space in a commercial kitchen, which would mean driving 30 minutes each way to bake on a fixed schedule while paying thousands of dollars in rent—killing flexibility and profit.

The other options are unthinkable. The family could return Hula to the shelter where they rescued her as a puppy. Or they could banish her permanently to the backyard. Hula’s mom refuses.

“Your pet is part of your family,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair to make me choose between business and family.”

Rather than comply, Hula’s mom took her cottage food operation underground. She pays taxes and obeys other laws, but she skips the mandatory home inspection and certification. Now she must look over her shoulders when she bakes. She cannot advertise, participate in big community events, or do anything else to draw attention to herself.

Too much success could alert government agents, who could show up and bust her. No puppy dog ​​eyes could stop the assault on economic liberty—the right to earn an honest living in a safe and responsible manner.

The zero-tolerance pet policy is just one example of misguided and sometimes unconstitutional cottage food restrictions nationwide. All 50 states and Washington, DC, authorize these home-based businesses. But most jurisdictions also hold them back.

Our public interest law firm, the Institute for Justice, filed lawsuits in Minnesota, Nebraska, and New Jersey to end some of the most stifling cottage food regulations. We sued Wisconsin twice. Yet these are not the only states with problems.

Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington state cap annual revenue at $25,000, leaving little room for profit after expenses. Hawaii tires online sales and mail-order delivery. Many

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Feeling stressed? Gardening might help

SAN ANTONIO – When people ask me why I love gardening? My answer is always, “It’s my escape.”

Whether I’m rushing out to get to work or letting my dogs outside, I love opening my front door and stepping out and seeing my flower garden for that brief moment.

It gives me a sense of peace, almost reminding me to take a deep breath. Another favorite part of mine is that it’s one-on-one time with nature.

I love discovering the Monarchs and caterpillars, to the family of toads living in my plants.

Science shows that gardening or just spending time in a garden or with plants doesn’t just reduce stress, but it also has several benefits for your mental health.

Texas A&M AgriLife experts say it can help fight depression, anxiety, ADD, PTSD, promote creativity, reduce the effects of dementia and even boost your self-esteem.

One study showed participants found spending time gardening just twice a week for an hour to an hour and a half helped them with their mental health.

So here is the good news. You don’t even have to be an experienced gardener or have a garden. Researchers say this is because just being in a garden helps you relax, by being in such a beautiful and tranquil place. It makes you feel peaceful in your mind and soul.

But why does being around plants make us feel good? A study out of Florida suggests the answer might be found in the important role of plants in human evolution and the rise of civilization.

The study says as a species, we may be innately attracted to plants because we depend on them for food, shelter and other means of our survival.

If you are a beginner gardener and want some tips on soil, how to plant a veggie garden or pollinator garden, check out the Gardening with KSAT segments here.

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River City Harvest offers spring gardening and planting advice

GREAT FALLS — If you plan to get out and garden this spring, the folks with River City Harvest (link) in Great Falls are a good source of information.

Treasurer Janel Kresowski is an avid gardener.

“It’s so relaxing. The garden is a happy place. You can just come and kind of lose yourself in the dirt and the plants and it’s such a good feeling when you get to harvest,” Kresowski said when asked why he likes gardening.

River City Harvest is a nonprofit that oversees several gardens in Great Falls, including Park Place Garden where the interview for this story took place.

If you’re wondering what to grow, you’ve got a range of options.

“There’s very few things that I haven’t been able to grow. We’ve had people who have actually grown artichokes here, which I would say could never be but they have beautiful artichokes. It depends on the season,” said Kresowski.

If you want some more specific information, River City Harvest President Janice Driver suggests checking out Montana State University Extension’s guides.

“There’s two of them that I particularly like. One is ‘Can I grow this here?’ and the other is ‘Growing a successful vegetable garden,'” said Driver.

The guides can be found online, at extension offices, and during the growing season at places where you can buy seeds.

At Park Place Garden, garden plots can be rented. To inquire about renting a plot, contact Kresowski at 406-868-1624 or 406-453-1155.

“The plots are all at least 300 square feet and the cost is $70 a season for the plot unless the plot has, or you wish to have, a drip irrigation system and then it’s $60. We buy our own water from Park Place’s owner and it’s less with a drip system,” Driver said.

Garden plots became available April 1.

Crops that do well in cool weather can be planted before the last expected hard frost, which is about May 15. Crops that don’t do well in cool weather should be planted after that.

When asked what her favorite thing to grow is, Kresowski couldn’t pick just one.

“Everything,” Kresowski said with a laugh.

On April 15, River City Harvest will hold a gardening workshop focused on developing gardens for nutrient-dense food. It will be at the Great Falls Salvation Army building at 1000 17th Avenue South from 1-4 pm Admission is $40.

Questions or comments about this article/video? Click here to contact Colter.


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Real-Estate Agents Face a Reckoning As Housing Market, Home Sales Slow

When Chrystina Arnold closed her first sale as a real-estate agent in December, she hoped it would provide a springboard to more deals and the start of a promising career. But almost four months later, Arnold is still trying to close a second sale.

Arnold, who lives in Port Huron, Michigan, paid $89 in October 2021 for a self-paced online course to become a real-estate agent. But by the time she got her license, in June, the typical mortgage rate had nearly doubled, leading to a dramatic slowdown in buying activity.

That drop-off has made the past year a struggle, Arnold told me. The first service she enlisted to help her find clients scammed her out of $600, and that December deal didn’t provide the financial windfall she needed. Even though Arnold represented both the buyer and the seller, the $57,000 sale netted her only a $2,300 commission — hardly enough to cover the various fees she pays to her brokerage, the National Association of Realtors, the company that sends her leads, and the multiple-listing service, a database where she can see homes for sale in her area. She’s occasionally worked at a bar or delivered pizzas to supplement her fiancé’s income and support her 6-year-old son. Despite the setbacks, she’s not giving up hope yet.

“I love my job. I love the flexibility of it,” Arnold told me. “The only thing I don’t like is the financial insecurity that comes with it.” 

Though she remains optimistic, Arnold knows the odds are not in her favor — agents with less than two years of experience earned a median gross income of just $8,800 in 2021, research from the National Association of Realtors found. But daunting statistics like that didn’t stop a wave of hopeful dealmakers from testing the waters earlier in the pandemic, when booming home prices promised hefty commission checks. The number of Realtors grew by more than 156,000 in the combined years of 2020 and 2021, according to the NAR, and peaked at a record high of 1.6 million in October. 

As the pandemic’s homebuying craze now seems like a distant memory, the slowdown in sales has forced a reckoning among real-estate agents who must decide whether the shrinking returns are worth the thousands of dollars and countless hours they’re pouring into their businesses. The challenges are most pronounced for newer agents who are still building up their networks, face fierce competition from their veteran counterparts, and haven’t yet weathered a downturn such as this one.

The spring homebuying season, when sales typically pick up and continue rising through the peak summer months, will be a crucial test for agents of all experience levels. A rising tide is no longer lifting all boats, and the industry is bracing to find out who’s in it for the long haul.

‘A low barrier to entry but a high barrier to success’

Jessica Reinhardt has seen this before. 

A second-generation Realtor, she’s watched plenty of people come and go from the

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Best house and home apps on Android in 2023

Now that it’s getting chilly outside, satisfaction with your living space is more important than ever. Wide-scale renovations, redesigns, and relocations are often repellently complicated and unflatteringly expensive. Even with the best communication apps, organizing a big building project or moving is hard enough. Lucky for you, the Play Store offers a few nifty apps for these occasions, equipped to help you maintain your place of residence, contact and lease with building contractors, or get in touch with landlords. These great house and home apps are a good place to start if you’re ready to put a fresh coat of paint on things. All it takes is your favorite smartphone or an awesome Android tablet to get going.


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Thumbtack

For any home improvement, you’ll need a lot of help, and that’s where Thumbtack is a lifesaver. This nifty app provides a platform for contractors to advertise their services to locals looking to hire, offering an impressive variety of services like movers, builders, interior/exterior renovators, and even DJs. Thumbtack also compares prices from the most professional contractors with whoever you are considering, giving you all the information you need to make the best hiring decision. So if the prospect of organizing a great deal of complicated, overpriced renovations, Thumbtack has your back.

Zillow: Homes For Sale & Rent

Everyone knows that moving can be stressful and complicated, and Zillow is invaluable for taking the complicated stuff down several notches to help you find the perfect change of scenery. Listing millions of properties for both purchases and renting, Zillow ensures you’re always in the loop with constant updates on the latest deals in your area and beyond. The app also provides filters for school catchments, local stores/restaurants, and residential real estate experts to help you make the right choice. No details are left to chance, with options allowing you to speak directly to landlords about deposits, rents, pets, and more. Never feel in the dark and find a new fireplace with confidence.

Planta – Care for your plants

It’s always nice to brighten up your living space with some plant life, and Planta helps you maintain indoor flowers, saving you from killing them from dying. The app identifies your plant’s needs and provides instructions on its unique treatments. Even if you aren’t a hardened gardening expert, Planta tells you when your plant needs watering, repotting, and even what level of light is suitable. If you like having some healthy greenery growing up your window sills, Planta is your best bet for getting through the cold months with your petunias alive and kicking.

Looking for great homes in your area? Realtor.com has everything you’ll need, whether you’re looking for property to own or rent. The app provides extensive filters for variables such as room size, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, and commute times. You are given the tools to assess potential deal breakers such as neighbor noise, proximity to shops and restaurants, and flood risks,

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