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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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Howard Hanna: Buy and sell with confidence.

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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The ease and élan of Ireland

I can’t really recall why we chose Ireland for our honeymoon 27 years ago. Neither of us is Irish. Maybe it was the writers—Yeats, Wilde and Joyce. Maybe the fishing (not for my wife). It certainly wasn’t the weather or, back then, the food. My wife noted that the same boiled potato and chicken meal …

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Hiking Boots & Shamrocks

While most travelers to the west of Ireland enjoy golfing, visiting castles or fishing, my wife and I hit the hiking trails. We rewarded ourselves for all the hoofing by staying in two quaint Irish hotels with great food and above average hospitality. Before leaving, we invested in L.L. Bean hiking gear—boots, pants, socks, rain …

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The Curated Condo

When Karen and Jim Johnson decided to downsize, what they had in mind was not a smaller version of their large property in Churchill. The couple wanted a complete change, from traditional with antiques to contemporary with all new furnishings.   “We only brought three pieces from our other home – the piano, a marble-topped …

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The Bulldog Pub

This place has roots. decades before it became the Bulldog Pub, the little neighborhood joint on Morningside Avenue was Petrilli’s Tavern. Opened during Prohibition, it was a basement speakeasy while groceries were sold in the upstairs storefront. After the scourge, the grocery became a proper barroom. The men of Morningside worked tough, physical jobs in …

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Still Life

Each day, I post at least one photograph on Instagram. Most of my postings are of food or cocktails: my oatmeal highlighted by the morning light through my kitchen window, a beautiful loaf of sourdough bread from a local bakery, tomatoes perfectly ripened from my garden, a cocktail on my deck with the Pittsburgh skyline …

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Days of Wine and Music

There are few things more enjoyable during beautiful weather than sitting outside with family or friends, listening to live music while sipping on wine. Fortunately, there is a charming, local, Tuscan-themed venue where one can do just that. Narcisi Winery, on route 910 in Gibsonia, is a family-owned endeavor that began in Italy generations ago. …

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Cooking the Books

For me, it started with “The Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls.” My sister-in-law loaned me her copy when I was 7. The 1950s spiral-bound edition depicted smiling, neatly dressed girls in aprons stirring batter and beating eggs in (now vintage) bowls with the boy in the background tasting from a pot resting on …

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Pitaland

If breaking bread is the key to world peace, Joe Chahine has a jump on it at Pitaland in Brookline. A Lebanese Maronite Christian, Joe has pita customers of all faiths and nationalities. An Italian baker, Cellone, delivers Joe’s pita to area groceries. And if you are eating pita at any area Mediterranean restaurant, and …

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Vintage Fox Chapel

For some, the best thing about the movie “White Christmas” is the Vermont lodge where most of it takes place. Its timeless charm is the essence of classic American style. Though it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes it so appealing, the same elements appear again and again in movies made during the 1940s and …

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Remembering the Great One

Walking into The Clemente Museum at Engine House No. 25 in Lawrenceville, one word comes to mind: passion. The athletic passion of one of baseball’s greatest players, his passion for helping the less fortunate and making the world better for his and all children, and the passion of the man who created this moving monument …

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Bon Bouquet

As last year’s polar vortex blew in its snow dumps and sub-zero temps, I huddled inside by the wood-burning stove. When the spring thaw came and I ventured out into the crispy, frosted mornings, I was reminded that nothing is forever. My lavender plants were toast, along with the tarragon and sage. I expected the …

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Korea Garden

Seok Kun Han was born in the mountains of South Korea as the Korean War recovery had begun. It was a time of great hardship, and his family suffered as much as any. In those tough times, it was great luck to get hired as a delivery boy for a local kitchen, working for a …

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A house well traveled

“I think I’m an old soul,” laughs the owner of the 1920s brick residence that commands a leafy corner lot in Squirrel Hill. She is one of Pittsburgh’s most stylish women, and those who don’t know her may be surprised that behind her trendy exterior lies an appreciation for all things antique, eccentric and whimsical. …

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Giddy up, let’s go!

Horse-drawn sleigh rides. These icons of old-fashioned winter are lauded in carols and featured in Currier and Ives lithographs. And a great one is available just northeast of Kittanning, in Cowansville. Denise and Flavius Brinsfield grew up with a love of horses. Denise enjoyed an equine way of life, both riding and driving horses. Flavius …

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Fall rising

An epiphany moment comes when a person bakes bread, waiting forever for its puffy belly to inch up above the bowl. Waiting and waiting until the time comes when it has doubled itself and the baker takes a light fist to its risen center, pushes, and the bread exhales all the air the yeast has …

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Chagrin Falls

Sometimes it’s nice to escape to a place with a slower, more relaxed pace—a quaint community that isn’t teeming with chain stores and traffic, where kids ride their bikes into town to have a cone and hang out with friends. There is a town, just this side of Cleveland, that fits the bill—Chagrin Falls, Ohio. …

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