Thursday, May 29, 2014

A much needed weekend in the woods

Hey friends! Geez, it has been a while since we blogged. I think we needed a little break from the norm  in order to get ourselves emotionally readjusted. It's definitely not healthy to keep on plugging away at the same ole grind after you've gone through some tough stuff. You need to reset, relax, and re-enter your life gradually. And now that we're back I really really want to thank you all for all of the love and kindness you have shown us lately. It has been really good medicine. Right now our normal life is nearly back on track. Our days consist of filling orders, painting new things, getting supplies, packing, shipping...and always lots of good cooking and eating.
We were just beginning to get caught up with our work when my brother Walt asked if we'd want to drive upstate NY to my parent's cabin for Memorial Day weekend with him and his girl Val. Normally we'd stay home and work. We sorta never ever take time away. But in this case we really really needed some air and we really wanted to get up to see my parents. So we said yes! The above is a pic of us just before we left for the 7 hour drive. We packed everything up and laid on the bed knowing that we wouldn't be stretching our legs for a while. 

My parent's have been upstate for two years. The first project was getting the property ready. It was solid forest pretty much. They had to make a road and clear a lot themselves. And once that was ready my dad pretty much built the house by hand himself. It's amazing when I think back to these photos of my Dad and brother Jason building the foundation one block at a time. They still have so much to do before they can say it's finished, but they are in there!! It is currently their place of residence and they're making do with the in-progress living quarters. But even unfinished it's fantastic. When it's done there will be a big wraparound porch, but my dad simply couldn't wait and went ahead and built this temporary front deck just last week while my mom was grocery shopping! Yes, he is a wildman! 

I love how it's built into the hillside. From behind, the cabin is super tall looking.

Upon arrival we walked up the stairs to "the loft" where we'd be sleeping for the weekend. We couldn't believe how much space there was...just holy crow! There was plenty of room for all of us plus more people. The second we saw all the beds in a row we then only referred to the upstairs loft as "the orphanage." Right now the whole upstairs is my brother Jason's room, but in the future there will be a walls to separate the bathroom and to split the sleeping area into two separate bedrooms. The high ceilings really give the space a great feeling of openness. The ceiling is still just bare insulation and will eventually be covered in wood planks. I was nervous about things not being completely buttoned up, especially after talking on the phone with my mom last week and hearing that there was a bat flying around inside! I'm happy to report that we made it through the weekend without one bat encounter.

This is the view of the other end of the loft from where we slept.

The other side will be an upstairs sitting area and it'll remain open so that you can see down into the living room over a log railing. I think Christmastime will be amazing. They plan on getting a very tall tree that reaches up to the loft area! Right now the loft is full of their stuff...boxes of decor, clothes... And downstairs they still need to install kitchen cabinets and shelving, and also get their real deal stove and fridge. Right now they've just got small temporary appliances. But there's already a working laundry room, and also a nice master bathroom with a great shower and a big tub. 

This is the view at the top of their hill...and by hill I mean mountain really. We rode quads up to the top just before sunset. The views are endless. 

My little baby brother Walt is very accustomed to being covered in mud. Even though he lives less than an hour from NYC, he is Rural at heart. He loves this stuff. He owns a lifted jeep, a Cummins, and a quad, and while he works on these vehicles the soundtrack is country music. I don't know where or when this happened! So this weekend up in the woods we saw Walt 100% in his element. The entire weekend was filled with the sounds of power tools, chain saws, engines, hammers. At one point Walt even made us some benches for around our camp fire.

And of course this had to happen. I use whatever you can when you need a workout in the woods.

We had a fire going each night. 

Campfires really are everything they're cracked up to be. You simply can't have a weekend in the woods without a campfire. Walt and Val camp often so Val knew what she was doing. She'd say "lets get a fire going." way before the sun even set. And yeah...we made S'mores.

By the end of each day all of us were completely covered in mud. Both from working on dirty projects and from riding quads through the woods.

What you don't see in this pic is that from the thigh down we are totally covered in mud. I even have it on my face. Oh, and that epic looking fire behind us is a 6 ft deep fire pit for burning cardboard and papers, and wood scraps. Every property up there has one being that there is no such thing as a garbage garbage truck could ever make it up the dirt road.
 I myself am not a fan of giant flames like this. I'm always scared that they can get out of control. But this fire pit is seriously isolated. Way down in a pit surrounded by mounds of gravel. 

My dad the Marine/Hockey player was thrilled to have us up...this was his face most of the weekend! And yes...almost all of his clothes are USMC or hockey related. ha! Every single day is spent building or fixing something, so he's always covered in sawdust and dirt. And on the right is my brother Jason who lives up there with them. For any newer blog readers, I am the oldest of 5 kids!

Muddy Buddies 

On Saturday we stopped at an Amish farm. Their signage is just as rustic and utilitarian as their lifestyle. I didn't take any pics past this point because it wouldn't be proper. Photographs aren't part of their deal. 
They set up a a few tables on their front porch and fill them with the day's fresh baked goods. The gal has an old timey calculator and of course only takes cash. And holy cow the prices are great for what you get. There are amazing jams, cookies, breads, candies, and Doughnuts! Oh my gosh the Doughtnuts!

We weren't in the door of the cabin 5 minutes before we busted one out. Oh Em Gee! They were honestly the best Doughnuts we've ever had! Glazed, and kinda like a zeppoli or funnel cake. Ridiculous! The size of your face! I'd say one of 'em is the equivalent of maybe 4 regular sized. Oh and remember what I said about the prices?? They are .79 cents each! whaaat? They'd cost like $4.50 in Jersey! and people wouldn't blink. 
They were so darn delicious and probably the craziest thing we've eaten in a year.

So after we woke from our doughnut comas we knew we had to balance things out food wise. So we made one of our favorite meals. The Roasted Sweet Potato, Wild Rice, and Arugula salad. Ohh that homemade lemon dressing was so amazing! Even though we didn't have a counter top to work on or our big cutting board, we still made do. It's an easy enough recipe to pull off on the road. I actually loved that we were able to cook one of our home staples up there in the cabin. My mom took a break from the burgers and sat down with us for a bowl of this awesomeness.

This right here is a sight that could be seen all weekend long. After every rip through the woods something needed to be fixed on one of the quads. And I think Walt invents repairs even when one isn't necessary ;)

My dad was so psyched to have dudes around. He had this big tub up in the loft. It was balanced on boards across the beams. They originally brought it in to be the upstairs tub, but then they found out that it wouldn't fit right. It took 5 guys to get it in and 4 guys to get it out. They had to take the door off the cabin. My mom was covering her eyes the whole time they were trying to maneuver it down the stairs and out the door and onto the trailer. I'll admit that it was pretty darn precarious.

And this here is just plain ol' ridiculous. There was so much ridiculousness all weekend. Boys really being boys. 

Once they got it on the trailer there was no room to turn it around so Walt backed it down this very steep hill that curves around to the back of the cabin. They had to get it into the basement where it will be stored until the basement is all finished. In the end the cabin will have three floors of living space with full bathrooms on each floor. Like I dad is a wildman.

So yeah...up there on those beams is where the big tub was balancing. As soon as it was out my dad wanted to play daredevil...which he does often...maybe to see if he can get my mom's heart to literally pop out of her chest. He was walking on the unsecured planks vacuuming sawdust. You can't tell in the photo, but he really is pretty high above the living room.

And the projects didn't stop there. They had to run the flue pipe for the wood stove. First cutting out a hole, and then adding extensions and capping it off. Aaron was the inside guy, standing up on a chair holding the pipe. Every once in a while my dad would yell through the pipe to Aaron "are you still in there? still holding the pipe?"
And yeah, my dad was on a ridiculously high ladder...and if you look closely you can see that the ladder is placed on a steep angle with a cinder block under one of it's feet. 

Here they are proud of their hard work. Again...there's Dad and his thrilled face.

The entire area is just so beautiful. The greenery is so bright and the skies are endless...both in the daytime and nighttime. Blue blue blue in the day...and at night there are more stars than we ever see in Jersey.

See this? This is where you get your drinking water. It's not really definitely want to drive there. It's just some ever flowing pipe on the roadside. It's drilled into the mountain and the people in the area have been getting their water from it for generations. It's definitely been flowing right here for more than a hundred years. And it doesn't freeze in the winter...which I find to be crazy! 
My parents stop by and fill their jugs each week. When my parents moved up there they got a test kit for the water and tested it just to be sure. They compared the results to the water from the tap at the townhouse they were living in and the water from the spring tested cleaner.
 Truth be told, I myself didn't drink it. I watch way too many television shows and read too many articles about weird things...parasites...whatever. Call me fancy if you want...I only drank seltzer all weekend.

This here is "The Pink House" of Wellsville. Isn't it Incredible?! It has been a privately owned property since it was built.  My brother Jason who paints houses in the area heard that they have their pink paint imported from France. 

I found this rare photo online...the way it looked before the gingerbread and music room were added. 

And this photo from 1880 of the reception room. There are so many fantastic photos of the Pink House online. 

The Main Street of Wellsville has so many great old buildings. This is the Modern Diner. The glass in the windows was so wavy and old. And the inside looks like it hasn't changed in 50 years.

My brother Jason has painted like a dozen buildings downtown. This is one of them. 

The owner wanted something different yet classic. Jason just shot from the hip and did a copper paint finish. I love what he did! His work is so seamless and neat. 

All of the old buildings have tin ceilings. We stopped in to the local coffee shop which is also a performance space.

My mom had been telling me about Trend Addictions for a while and she was so right! What a great shop! And not just by middle of nowhere standards. This shop would be great anywhere. 

I loved this vignette as we entered. Love the color blocked piece on the bottom paired with the rustic cabinet and kitchen items on top.  

We loved these distressed wood numbers. 

There are great displays throughout the store.

I love the ceiling, and the way these lanterns and jars are displayed on the old ladder. 

I'm kicking myself for not grabbing one of these wire baskets. 

They carry a fab collection of wood watches, which they also carry in their online shop.

There's a really cute kids section. Loved this old chippy rustic piece.

I also loved this wood tray with bottles set. This is another thing I wish I had purchased. I may have to order it! 

Another shop we visited was New Vogue. There are some great rustic display pieces. 

The ceiling was gorgeous. Like a wedding cake!

This pair of tables was great. Black and cream seem to be my go-to colors for furniture.  

I'm amazed at the great style this little town has to offer. By my perspective they really are so far away from everything. But way up there Wellsville is a bigger town than most. But they are off the beaten path...I believe about 2 hours from Buffalo...and that's probably where the nearest Starbucks is located.

 After spending the day in town and then coming back up the miles long dirt road to get to my parents cabin it put everything back into perspective again. Just rounding the bend and seeing their cabin standing so tall and big out there in the woods is so impressive. They built this themselves! And this is really really where they live!

Here's me and my mom on the morning we left. They still have to seal some flooring and frame windows, but it's already a cozy and inviting space. I love their little coffee cart in the corner. And yep...that is one of our Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake prints hanging. They will be painting an accent wall in the livingroom the same red as the print. All of the outer walls are the logs, but some of the  dividing walls will be painted so that there will be pops of cabin-y colors throughout the interior. 

Walt and Val brought Bruno for the weekend, and he loved it! He loves to trample through the ferns. He pushes his little face right through to clear the way.

A classic pic of my dad and a dog. I'm pretty sure it's my dad's go-to schtick. The instant a camera comes out, the hat goes on the dog.

My squinty eyed parents. The sun was super bright and they were under an umbrella on the deck. I am  so proud of them. Their dream has always been to build a log cabin. Really...for as long as I'm alive I've heard them talk about it. A couple of kids from Hells Kitchen New York City...go figure.  

And here's Walt giving his childhood pup a big hug before leaving. Walt and Arnold slept curled up in the same bed for most of Walt's childhood.

The way home was such a long trip but we got to drive through lots of small picturesque Pennsylvania towns. 

Just so much greenery to see. At one point we ended up hitting crazy holiday weekend traffic in the Poconos which was pretty crummy. Val kept checking our arrival time, and the traffic added about 2 hrs to our drive. And it was pretty hot. We weren't as steadfast on the drive home so we stopped once to grab some food. The ride home is always harder than the ride there.

Even though this was still hours away from home it was great to see that New Jersey sign.

We had so much fun. I'm amazed at what my parents have built, and what they do in their day to day. They have seamlessly adapted to country life. We may be going up again in July for the Great Wellsville Balloon Rally

Aaron and I were just talking about how we have been sharing little bits and pieces of our life with our online friends for many years now. Some of our friends go waaaay back. It's so cool to think that some of our waaaay back friends might still be reading along. So great to make connections with people who we have things in common with. And it's equally great making new friends and finding new readers. Just so so fun. Thanks so much for reading. We hope to live a bunch more life in the coming weeks and months...and we'll be sure to share all we can.

Hope you all had a great Memorial Day Weekend.

xo Jenny & Aaron


  1. Wow, that place is awesome!!! Your family is a bunch of sawdust-covered rock stars!

    Next time you guys are kicking around here in my neck of the woods we need to do coffee or something! Not Starbucks, of course (I think the closest one IS probably in Buffalo. haha!). ;)

    Many back and forth trips were made to Wellsville this past weekend by The Manflesh - I'm going to have to go next time just to see that pink house.

  2. Wow! What a fabulous adventure! I sooooo want a log cabin up in the mountains, it looks like a beautiful place to be. Thanks so much for sharing a little bit of your world, love reading your blog, hugs from across the pond
    kaz X

  3. wow! what a great place! isnt wellsville beautiful?. I havent been there in years, but I remember all those hills! Im glad you had such a nice weekend. Your parents are very ambitious and Im sure you cant wait to go back.. One of these times when you come this way again we'll have to meet up for sure. Happy Day!

  4. Wow!! What an amazing weekend!! Loving the photos!!! Makes me miss home even more!!!

  5. Wow! This looks like beautiful country, I would love to see it for myself! And the cabin is amazing! Too bad you didn't try that spring water, I bet it tasted great! I grew up on a farm and we had the best tasting well water! xoxo :)

  6. I really enjoyed reading this, your parents achieved so much and have such a great family to show for it. I never even heard of Wellsville before until you wrote about it. So sweet of you to share your weekend with us like this.

    Bless you guys! ♥

  7. I love, love this post! So sweet seeing your parents, and WOW that is some house they're building! Totally impressive. I also had never heard of Wellsville and it sure is up, up and away! I wish it was a little closer (my mom is in the Catskills) because those shops look adorable -- I think I would have left with that little collection of bottles on the wood tray for sure! I'm glad you had a lovely weekend with your family -- time away in the mountains is a nice way to re-energize.

  8. The "orphanage" made me laugh and the log lifting! I'm definitely not an outdoorsy or roughing it kind of girl, so I don't think I could do it, but kudos to your parents for building a home out of nothing. That's seriously impressive! Some of these photos made me cringe though! Like your dad walking on those planks. Or even that there were unsecured planks? That's the sort of thing that would scare me! Haha. And I'm with you about large fires. I feel the same way that they are going to get out of control, even when people assure me that they won't. I guess I watch too many tv shows too. ;) And that pink house is AMAZING! What a dream it would be to live there!

  9. I loved this post! I felt like I was actually along for the ride. Thanks for sharing. <3

  10. I give HUGE props to your parents & brother for living out in the middle of nowhere. I'm such a city girl; I need street lights, running water, a grocery store within 5 minutes and cement sidewalks.
    Anyway, glad you had such a good time. It does look fun!

  11. (*o*) Holy crow! The cabin, the store, the town!
    Everything is just brilliantly amazing!
    Thank you for sharing!

  12. In love with everything in this post! What a gorgeous house your parents have. It looks like it's out of a movie. I'm so glad y'all got to have some good quality family time.


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xo Jenny & Aaron