Buy Leather Goods Locally in Allensville

The distinct smell of leather met me at the door of Thomas Kepler’s leather workshop this fine Central Pennsylvania morning. In search of a new leather belt and hearing rumors of a leather craftsman plying his trade in the picturesque village of Allensville, I planned my trip and was not disappointed.

Mr. Kepler, a self-taught craftsman, has been honing his craft over the past few years, and, in my assessment, I find him to be an accomplished practitioner of the leather trade with a varied inventory of quality goods.

I had in mind a solid belt for everyday use and soon found one to my liking. I was also impressed with his selection of more refined designs for dress apparel, although I could not find one in my size. This was of no problem to Mr. Kepler. He assured me that a short 15-minute wait would result in just the product I had my eye on.

I was fascinated by this craftsman’s work and the assortment of tools, both old and new, throughout the shop. As Thomas worked, we engaged in a friendly conversation. I soon found that he was born and raised right here in our community and that I was acquainted with his extended family. I discovered that not only does Thomas produce a variety of leather products, he also engages in saddle and tack work.

The belt was soon completed, and our business transacted perhaps a bit too quickly for my liking as I could have lingered a little longer in his shop to observe the finer points of leather craft. But the chore list at Cowhill Cottage is not growing any shorter, and preparation for the coming change of seasons requires my attention.

I invite you to contact the Kepler Leather Company and hope that you find this shop full of leather products as interesting as I have. I believe you will be impressed with the quality and variety of his work. Of course, our support of local artisans is foundational to the development and sustainability of our collected communities throughout this region we call home.

Here is the contact information for Kepler Leather Company:


Streamside Produce—From Farm to You

I stopped by an excellent produce farm this weekend and found a real gem here in the Kishacoquillas Valley. Streamside Produce is just one mile off of Route 655, east of Allensville, Pennsylvania. As I drove down the long farm lane, I could not help but notice field after field of all sorts of produce, thus assuring me that their goods are grown right here on the farm. Although the purchase of regional produce from other growers, either directly or through one of the many regional produce auctions, is an acceptable practice to fill the needs of the farm stand due to demand or perhaps crop failures, I prefer to buy product that has been grown on location whenever possible.

I found a large, well-run, and clean farm operation featuring many late-season favorites, including tomatoes, beets, and squash of all types, as well as fall mums and decorative gourds and pumpkins. I also found late-season sweet corn and the last of the watermelon and cantaloupe.

The Streamside Produce tables also offer local honey and farm-made jams and jellies, and you’ll find a quality line of farm-baked goods like dinner rolls, breads, sweet goods, and pies. I can personally attest that the egg custard pie was outstanding.

So, when you’re in the Belleville/Allensville area and want to buy grown-on-the-farm produce, plug 97 Streamside Lane, Belleville, into your GPS to visit Streamside Produce, one of many local fresh-food producers that make living in Central Pennsylvania a real joy.

Tour de Lancaster and Lititz Wrap-up

What a great group of people! I cannot say enough about the enthusiasm and curiosity of those who accompanied me on the first culinary day trip to the Lancaster Central Market and the Historic Village of Lititz. The time we spent interacting with the many purveyors, farmers, and producers of local and handcrafted products was just the perfect way to spend a day.

Our group was blessed with the passion of the Master Distiller at Stoll and Wolfe Distillery as he spun the tale of how he and his company searched out and saved an heirloom red rye from extinction. He used it to make the first batch of whiskey in more than 50 years distilled from this specific grain. The Market Manager at Lancaster Central Market enlightened us to the challenges and joys she experiences in running the oldest continuously operational Market House in the country. The owners of Olio, an independent importer of Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegars, exuded sheer joy as we participated in a tasting of their unbelievable line of products.

And the capstone of our day was the dedication and friendship the owners of The Savory Gourmet expressed to us as they hosted our After Hours tasting on the sales floor of their small specialty food store that they had transformed into an elegant but rustic restaurant. We enjoyed course after course of specialty meats, cheeses, and gourmet delights, each paired with the wonderful wines of Seven Mountains Wine Cellars. As we sat at a communal table, I could not but think what an experience this day has brought to my guests and me and how these experiences contribute to a simple life well lived.

For those of you who missed out on this trip, fear not. I am planning to schedule more in the future, along with additional forays to the Strip District in Pittsburgh and a multiday wine-tasting excursion to the Finger Lake Wine Region of New York State that is tentatively scheduled for fall of 2020. I hope to have an official schedule posted here by the first of the New Year, so please keep an eye out for this information.

As the first fire of the season crackles in my Cow Hill Cottage hearth, I contentedly pour myself a second cup of tea purchased from the specialty tea shop in Lititz Village and contemplate the many experiences to come as my guests and I explore the backroads and byways of this great country and the inspirational people we’ll meet along the way.

P.S. A special thanks to Ann Thompson for many of the photo’s you see here. And please enjoy additional photo’s below.

Culinary Adventure

I am happy to announce that I will be offering my first Culinary Adventure with the exploration of the Lancaster Central Market and Historic Lititz Village on Tuesday, October 8, 2019.

Ten participants will join me as we spend the day exploring and tasting the many culinary delights that Lancaster County has to offer, including the Historic Central Market of Lancaster City and the many shops and culinary purveyors of Lititz village.

I have planned for much tasting of both food and beverages throughout the day. We’ll enjoy a tour and lunch at a historic distillery, a private tasting at an olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop, and the charms of an English tea emporium. Also, we will tour a well-preserved 1793-era historic Lititz home as well as have plenty of time to visit the many purveyors and specialty shops that both the Central Market and Lititz Village have to offer.

Our day will end with a private after-hours specialty food tasting provided by the enthusiastic owners of a local gourmet specialty food store with wine provided by Seven Mountains Wine Cellars.

This trip will allow you to explore the rich culinary culture of this historic area of Pennsylvania and is an opportunity to stock your pantry with tasty delights in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season.

The tour will leave Reedsville, PA, at 7:00 a.m., with an anticipated return time of 9:30 p.m. that evening. The price of $150.00 per person includes transportation, all tours and tastings, lunch, and the after-hours dinner event.

Payment options include credit cards, cash, and checks with payment in full expected at the time of reservation.

I will provide ice chests to allow you to stock up on perishable market finds, and the van will allow plenty of room to store your nonperishable treasures as well.

I am looking forward to joining you in this culinary adventure and invite you to RSVP to my phone at 717-250-8334 or email at