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Cleaner to the Stars

It’s time to don your best apparel for holiday parties, dinners and events. And then, of course, you’ll need to have those clothes cleaned. There are countless options, but Jerry Montesano’s Shadyside Valet is a standout. Jerry was born into the business—his father owned a dry cleaning company in Penn Hills and then sold dry …

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The Kindness Meter in Various Cities

Returning home last Monday from a weekend trip to visit our newly transplanted daughter and her family in Seattle, we had a delightful conversation with our Uber driver, a native Pittsburgher, on the way back from the airport. He had recently retired from his full time job, but enjoys meeting people and figured driving for …

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Car Trouble

At 5:30 a.m. one recent morning, I was driving the Parkway East to Monroeville, and actually ON TIME. I began to hear a loud “ka-thunk” from the front left of my mini-van. Suddenly, my front left wheel popped clean off. Had it been later, I would have been horrified at the idea of my wheel …

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Now Entering “Happy Valley”

The Pennsylvania State University has more than 645,000 living alums. Obviously, they know about “Happy Valley,” as do the throngs who attend football games each fall. But if you’ve never visited Penn State, State College or Centre County, it’s well worth exploring, especially on a quieter, non-football weekend. While there are chain hotels available, go …

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Howard Hanna: Buy and sell with confidence.

A Collector’s Eye

Tradition winds through the leafy streets of Sewickley like a summer breeze, ruffling the flags on stately old homes and the flowers that adorn each perfect lawn. In a neighborhood filled with beautiful houses, the 1950s French-inspired stucco stands out, as it did when Anne and David Genter bought it 10 years ago. “This had …

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The Old Ways May Be Best

Marino floro plucks a perfectly shaped fig from a tree in his Sewickley yard, opens the door to his chicken coop, and offers the fruit to a chamois-colored hen, which clucks with enthusiasm. Three chickens inhabit this paradise of a mini-farm, where trees yield four different kinds of figs, as well as peaches, plums, apricots, …

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On the Road to Prosperity

Prosperity means different things to different people. But to the residents of a village by that name in Washington County that’s been significantly affected by fluctuations in the coal and Marcellus Shale gas industries, Prosperity is home. Some of the 1,105 residents have made a lot of money. Some are working hard to just get …

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Sail Away to Annapolis

Just about every place in Annapolis will tell you it has the best crab cakes in town, and they’re all right. The Chesapeake is famous for its blue crabs, plucked daily from the bay and served any number of ways, but always with abundance. There is so much crab in Annapolis, a visitor can get …

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A Classic Redefined

It’s difficult enough for many couples to agree on a new home, but the challenges were even greater for Stephen and Helen Hanna Casey. He’s an award-winning architect and she’s the president and CEO of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, the fourth largest real estate company in the U.S. “Steve knows architecture and design, and …

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An Art Full House

“We’re art addicts so we’re always buying stuff, ” says the owner of a wood-clad modern home in Fox Chapel, laughing. She and her husband are just back from a major art fair and the question, as usual, is where to put the new piece. From the outside, no one would suspect that the discreet …

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Boom, bust and disaster

Located at a horseshoe bend of the Monongahela River in Washington County—the heart of today’s Rust Belt—what would become Donora, Pa.was a farming community of 12 people in 1900. Within one year, it exploded to 4,000—as hordes of workers built and manned numerous factories. Its population topped 14,000 by 1920, but today numbers only 5,500. …

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Cheers! from around the world

Consider how the weather transforms our lives. As the thermometer drops, so too do our windows and doors as we make the seamless transition from shorts to sweatpants, smoothies to soups, flip-flops to snow boots and a cotton blanket to a 16-pound down comforter. What we often enjoy most about this season are the traditions …

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Global Glamour

It took Phileas Fogg 80 days to go around the world in Jules Verne’s classic novel. It took closer to three years for a Shadyside couple to complete their residence, a mélange of influences from their international lives and travels. The result is a journey of a different sort; a home that reflects both their …

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New Zealand

Like everyone else who saw the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy, I was somewhat stunned by the dramatic beauty of New Zealand. But I’d never seriously considered visiting until Christmas 2014, when my oldest son was home from Shanghai and said, “Let’s go fly-fishing together in New Zealand.” I’ve always loved fishing, but not …

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The shrine on Troy Hill

The story of how St. Anthony Chapel in Troy Hill came to house the largest collection of Christian relics outside of the Vatican begins in the 1850s with a young man from a wealthy Belgian family. After attending medical school, Suitbert Mollinger became a Catholic priest who followed his vocation to America. By 1868, he …

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Millvale’s Grant Bar

Amidst the worldly comings and goings, observe how endings become beginnings,” says the Tao Te Ching, the Chinese book of philosophy and religion from 6th century BC. Despite the separation of millennia, the ancient author could have been inspired by the comings and goings at Grant Bar in Millvale. Since 1933, Frank Ruzomberka and his …

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Someone Else’s Bar

When Else Franzmann is asked where she is from, she is quick to say, “I’m from everywhere and nowhere. I never really had a hometown.” Else lived in five different places before she was 10, her family never sinking roots. After her first job, she moved seven times in 10 years. Later, she started tending …

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The Greening of Hazelwood

Like a Polaroid picture never quite developed, a snapshot of the entire urban farming movement in Pittsburgh is fuzzy at best. But move in for a closeup and it’s clear that urban farming is on the rise, especially in Hazelwood, where a new breed of farmers is restoring the connection between our food, health and …

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Having a great time in Beaver, Pa.

Rudyard Kipling visited Beaver, Pa, during the summer of 1889 and referred to it fondly in “Sea to Sea: Letters of Travel.” Spend a day or two there, and you’ll understand why. Established at the confluence of the Ohio and Beaver rivers in 1802, Beaver is the Beaver County seat with an historic district built …

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Kentuck Knob

In London, he is Baron Peter Palumbo, a property developer, art and architecture collector, former chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain and a member of the House of Lords. His wife, Hayat, comes from a Lebanese newspaper family and exudes the graciousness of a woman used to navigating in tony circles. But in …

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Ireland: Mind Your Manors

Whether you spend the day on Dublin’s bustling Grafton Street or peering over the Cliffs of Moher, odds are good you will encounter some sort of precipitation accompanied by a chill wind and gray sky. It’s what makes stopping by the pub at the end of the day such an appealing Irish tradition. A welcoming …

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Of Irish Roads and Distant Kin

So I’m hauling eight of us—my wife Kay, her brother and his wife, her sister and her husband, and their two Irish cousins Ann and Peggy—down this dinky road in the farmland outside Galway, Ireland, in a blue beast the rental agency calls a “mini-bus.” Peggy is riding shotgun (“Careful of this turn now!”) and …

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