Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Boilers and Burners and Barns, Oh My!

First impressions count, right?  I sorta hope not actually!  The first leg of our trip brought us to Hard Work Homestead where Jane and The Ice Man met us out front with puppy dogs and hugs.  I always appreciate a good hug.  Not the spaghetti-arm-hold-a-person-away-from-you type.  I hate those.  Why bother?  Hug it like you mean it!  Jane and I did that the right way! 

And then I promptly spilled coffee down her back.  MmmHmm.  That be me.  But what farm girl doesn't have stains on her clothes from hard work or in this case, good friends?  Ah yes, I made a great first impression!  Not.  Hey, I was excited and caffeinated!  :o)

First order on the agenda was a tour.  Pig Pen was in love immediately!  With so much ground to cover, so many cool things to see from off-grid systems to boilers, and burners, and barns, oh my!  What should have been a relatively quick peek and then breakfast of french croissant toast out on the town; quickly became the grand tour instead! 
But that was ok, it's not like Jane didn't have plenty to show me either!  Yes friends, her boot collection really does line the front pretty (sigh)! 

They took us for a countryside tour as well.  We were able to meet her Mom (wonderful woman!), go to the local Flea Market for good deals, visit the Strip District in Pittsburgh to see where Jane goes for local fare, see the Ice Mans "shop" which was most impressive to Pig Pen since he really appreciated all the fabrication and ingenuity. 

Now let me tell you, the Ice Man is pretty darned smart.  Granted, I don't "get" all that mumbo-jumbo man talk, but these two magpies did.  Two guys and gears...It was non-stop talk.  Which was a huge relief actually!  I knew Jane and I would have zero issue, but with guys, one never knows.  So us girls were simply able to leave them behind...which we did.  Often.  Well, that and Jane walks pretty fast ;)
Of course we went into the mountains for ya know -boots and belts! 
Where else in the country can you travel (literally) an hour into the mountains for boots and belts???  And see these right out the back door? 
Seriously!?  I would get lost hunting all these places down!  But Jane knows her stuff and where to find it!  Here at home, we have malls.  (blech!)  Out there, they have...longhorns???

We also went to her local dairy where I finally got to sample non-homogenized milk with the cream top!  We had homemade brick oven pizzas made by Jane herself!!!  That was a real treat......if only I had a brick oven!  I did pick up some of the pizza dough flour she uses just in case an outdoor brick oven should mysteriously arrive at my house someday.  Even Pig Pen agreed they were darn good, so maybe!

And....I got to try her Elderflower wine!!  I think I finally nailed the comparison for you:  have you ever had Squirt?  The pop, that is.  Ok, soda?  It is somewhat like that but smooth.  Not watery like soda pop though.  Smooth and sweet.  Oh it was really good!!

Of course we went to the Mother Earth News Fair also.  The weather barely held out for this one!  With all the rains the East has been getting, we were lucky to have dry days.  The nights, when we were driving-  whole other story!!! 

The Fair was at a ski the mountains.  Can you tell we come from flat lands?  Every time we'd hit a teeny-tiny hill, Pig Pen would say despairingly, "I think we are out of the mountains."  I kept assuring him we weren't.

With so much ground covered in such a relatively short amount of time, it's a wonder we had any giddy-up left for the next stretch of the trip.  But remember...I was highly caffeinated the entire time.  Pretty sure I'd have to be if I lived at The Hardwork Homestead. 

I now know firsthand the Homestead is appropriately named.  Jane and The Ice Man are very hardworking, humble and good.  Their hospitality far exceeded anything we expected.  It was an honor just to have met them let alone come home with a goodie basket the size of a truck bed!  We both agree that someday we will be back.  That's what friends do.  They come back.  And they say, "Thank You!"

Thank you, Jane and Ice Man...we had an awesome time!

I know you are all waiting for this one - here she is!!!
Hey, us girls gotta stick together!  ;-P 
The road out...

Eek!  The fog encountered onwards, in the rain, in the mountains!
Upon leaving the great state of PA, it was on to NC...where we visited my Aunt and Uncle and what I dubbed:  The most beautiful piece of property I have ever had the privelege of seeing.  Gorgeous!!!

Ok, more of your posts to catch up with!  You guys need more bon-bons!


  1. It's such a neat area out here (I'm about 30 min south from what I gather from where Jane lives) as an outsider I love the quick transition from city to country we enjoy here.

  2. Looks like you guys and gals had a great time! I want to know where the boot place is. My cousins live in that area and my one cousin has a Hotel/Restaurant/Bar out there.

  3. Carolyn, I took nearly 200 pictures. You sure you want more? ;)

    CitySister, get out! I had no idea you were that close! Shoot, we probably drove past you and didn't even know it!

    Robin, you are asking the wrong gal for sure! In my mind, here is how you get there: find a long and windy road, drive fast and take chances, look for longhorns and turn in. :oP No good, huh? hehehee

  4. Boots! Cool! Glad you all had a great time. Love hearing about bloggy buddies getting together. More pics would be great!!

  5. Well, hey, that's more of Jane than we've EVER seen! Sounds like such a great visit. Some day we need to plot out a central point and have a major convergence of blog sisters(brothers)! How was the MEN extravaganza? Feel free to put all 200 pictures on. I find I am not allergic to chocolate, so bon bons are a 'go'.

  6. I know exactly how Jane looks on the other 1/2-beautiful-she has to be!and I agree with Carolyn---more,more ,more.I read so slowly and carefully not to miss one single word. I'm glad you 2 are now good friends and even your hubby's get along. Wonderful to have you home tho,we missed you terribly,now show us more

  7. Lori, I am gonna work on that. Stay tuned :)

    Susan, I really think we should do that. Ohio Amishland anyone?

    The MEN fair was nice. Alot of information being passed out, vendors etc. I think it is particularly good for new comers. Maybe give them a place to start and things to chew on and keep motivated. It was worth the ticket, which was only $10! However, for us if we go back to PA, I am more interested in hardcore hardwork. If ya know what I mean. Not knockin' MEN by any stretch. I love the magazine and look forward to it always. They had a GREAT bookstore! Like kids in candyshops all the books us wierdo-s love!

    Judy, at risk of making her blush, she is beautiful! She will argue, I know. But I stand behind the statement. :)

  8. That was fun -- a blogger giving us the low-down on anothr blogger :-) I'd like to see that boot colection!

  9. Well, half a pic is more than Jane has given us, LOL! Sounds like so much fun, I'm glad you had this opportunity, isn't it cool?!! Love hearing about all the adventures, and the boots :)

  10. My oh my oh my! What fun we had. And it was a drop of coffee that came right out. Silly girl. I sure wish I had taken some pictures :( Why didnt you remind me? ;) Well you are welcome anytime! The weekend went so fast. We need a week next time. We will put the boys out in the pasture and have ourselves a good time. Unfortunately, I know more boot places. I think I am just going to start looking for a piece of property for you and you can move in next door. Sure would be easier to just yell over the fence.

    Robin, the boot place was actually in Apollo, a ways out of the 'mountains'. What is the hotel/bar called, maybe I have been there?

    I would love a blogger convention. That would be fun.

  11. Don't tell didn't spill Dunkin down her back, did you!??!!? That's coffee abuse ;-) Looks like you had a grand time!

  12. Ok, who here is jealous they missed out and wants to join in on the fun next time??

    Seriously it looks like you had a GREAT time, that you hit it right off (the guys too!) and how much better can it get than that?

    So glad you got to meet in person. Oh, and that you kept your promise about headless shots to Jane. ;)

  13. (Laughing...) Great recap! Love to hear more too. I agree with others that getting together would be fun. Maybe use the Mother Earth Fair for a blogger pow wow.

    I could just see all the pictures of all of our bottom halfs.

    Blogger Butt syndrome?

  14. Dr Momi, maybe we can convince Jane to snap a shot of that entry way????

    Erin, as you know from your MN trip last year, it's worth the drive!

    Jane, agreed. Put them to pasture! I will start making a list of all the things we didn't get to do/see and one by one we will nail it!

    BrokenRoad, you know it!!! Call the coffee police, guilty!

    MamaTea, I was afraid if I got a headed (?) shot, she'd never let me back! Pig Pen would be so ticked! ;)

    Tami, I think a convention would be the most fun!!! And by the way, when I's NC all the way! I love your state!

  15. Such good times! And you got a tour of the homestead! Did you tell Jane she should do a video tour for the rest of us who aren't so lucky as to get to visit? And you got to see all the homesteading hotspots in the area, only to finish the weekend off with a festival! Such good times! Even better, such great people. Thanks for sharing the experience with us.

  16. How fun to meet a fellow blogging friend! Sounds like even the guys got along great. Love hearing about your trip!

  17. I wouldn't want to stumble into a pasture with those cows! Good thing you had a couple of good friends to take care of you and show you around :)

  18. Where oh where has our apple pie gal gone-oh where oh where has she gone?