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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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In the French manner

Turn onto the discreet drive on a pleasant street in Sewickley and suddenly you feel as if you’re in the French countryside. A long lawn, impeccably maintained and dotted with mature trees, leads to a French manor house that spans nearly the width of the property. It sits regally near the back, surrounded by gardens …

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Howard Hanna: Buy and sell with confidence.

Eurotrip revisited

Seven months after JFK was assassinated and four months after the Beatles played Ed Sullivan, 100,000 American students (I was one) became the first generation of middle-class American college kids who could afford to travel to Europe. That summer of ’64, thousands of us crossed the pond thanks to larger jets, cheap tickets and Arthur …

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Rudy’s Bar and Grill

His real name is Frank, but most people call him Gus, except for those who call him Rudy, and a lot of folks call him Rudy. For 40 years, Frank Aiello has operated Rudy’s Bar and Grill in McKees Rocks. Frank has been loafing here even longer, since original owner Rudy Gerger took the young …

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Berry Bounty

It’s an early spring morning and my neighbor mike and I work in our gardens, just a shaky chain-link fence between us. We garden for a while as if we’re both alone, just grunting and digging and pulling at weeds as the birds sing their heads off. Every so often one of us starts a …

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Di’s Korner Stone Diner

Diane Elias never gives up. When she was 41, the McKeesport eatery where she waitressed was suddenly shuttered, leaving her and her friends out of work and short on hope, a common refrain in the old mill towns around Pittsburgh. Amid abandoned factories, shops and homes, and too many broken spirits, Di could have called …

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Captivating collections

There’s a luminescent quality to the face, with its pale, translucent skin and eyes lost in thought and in time. Made of wax and preserved for a century, the doll sits on a shelf surrounded by hundreds of others. Each has a story that began somewhere but continued when Barbara Luderowski found it and added …

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Learning by the lake

The motto painted on the wall of Chautauqua Institution’s outdoor amphitheater exhorts the audience to “Share Your Light.” It’s a message that Chautauquans take seriously, returning annually to the lakeshore community to debate, learn and generally immerse themselves in ethics, arts, music and current events. But as the lakeside institution just over the New York …

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North by northwest

Summer has finally arrived, and there is no better time for a weekend (or mid-week) getaway. McKean County is a few hours from Pittsburgh and a great area to explore, play, relax and have fun. Whether your interests are historic, outdoorsy, culinary or sporty, you will find no lack of things to do. For the …

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Let us think lettuces

The garden’s palette yawns tan and brown as winter ends and spring nears each year. All that’s left after the crusty snow melts (if I’ve remembered to diligently clean up the previous fall) are blank brown beds—the clean slates of gardening. I like the do-over aspect of each new garden season, but I long for …

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Bon appétit!

Who wouldn’t love to spend April in Paris? However, if France isn’t in your immediate future, you can still enjoy its delectable treats right here in Pittsburgh. These three patisseries are like children; you love them all, but each has its own special talent. The granddaddy, and the one that has proven that this region …

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The Treehouse Effect

The woods of Fox Chapel hold many secrets—homes tucked away from view in settings so private they seem to exist as an extension of nature. The best of them take that into account, but none more so than the home purchased in 2009 by a downsizing couple. It sits on level ground in the front, …

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Cafe Raymond

Some neighborhood joints acquire an aura, off the beaten path or tucked away on some dicey back street, lending “insider” status to those who can get you there for a special lunch or evening out. A little bit like playing hard to get, this geographical inconvenience makes any great joint that much more enticing. Cafe …

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The height of city living

The sleek new Fairmont Pittsburgh is a glamorous addition to the Downtown scene. Movie stars including Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford have made it the go-to hotel for those seeking luxury, privacy and service. But even more exclusive are The Residences located on the top 10 floors of Three PNC Plaza, which adjoins the hotel. …

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Pickling plenty

As the garden tips from late summer to fall and the plants become a little woody, then crispy, the only thing to do—if you’re a gardener like me—is turn to the things you’ve put up during the months of productivity. It’s nostalgic, opening up a jar of tomato sauce or jam. Garden memories may seem …

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Shouf’s Café

Sometimes, when Rabih Fahed pauses during a hectic night at Shouf’s Cafe, the room filled with love and laughter, families and friends hugging hello and crowding in close, and exotic aromas teasing the air, he can close his eyes and be back in the Lebanon of his youth. As a boy, he roamed the souks …

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A cookware quest

Forget about Black Friday. If you’re interested in top-quality cookware at great prices, you can sleep off that Thanksgiving meal and make the drive to Washington County on Dec. 6–7 for the All-Clad Factory Outlet Sale in Canonsburg. The semiannual sale held the first weekends of December and June started as an on-site “factory seconds” …

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The Motel Era

It was then that began our extensive travels all over the states,” said Humbert Humbert in Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, “Lolita.” “To any other type of tourist accommodation I soon grew to prefer the Functional Motel—clean, neat, safe nooks, ideal places for sleep, argument, reconciliation, insatiable illicit love.” Poet and fiction writer James Agee ghostwrote a …

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Ode to Elegance

In 1872, when the residence of interior designer Louis Talotta was built, it was a grand place on a grand street in Oakland. But by the end of World War II, it had been carved up, much like the map of Europe, into many smaller pieces. The tall ceilings were lowered with acoustic tile so …

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Apple Obligations

There’s a point after leaving Pittsburgh, zipping in and out of lanes on Interstate 79, when you distinctly hit Country. Even the dog notices it, sticking his nose in the air, half-closing his eyes in window-seat joy. It’s the moment when the air rushing in smells sweet, like hay and dung and grass. Farther north, …

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