25 May 2010

Outdoor Setting

Memorial Day is around the corner and I always associate that with grilling and dining outdoors. We have a teeny fenced-in backyard, which makes for a lovely intimate setting. I have some paper lanterns I hope to bring out, and I always pull out our mishmash of melamine plates and platters to set the table (read: whatever is fool-proof for outdoors as our dog knocks against the table. Or one of us, for that matter.) Plus, I like what's available in the durable, reusable resin.

Anything Thomas Paul offers is always bold and stylish. ( I have a couple of his black and white patterned plates I picked up at Penhollows.)

This site has a few great options, including the endearingly old-fashioned floral print, and this bold, geometric pattern.

And of course, trusty IKEA and Target have some pretty cute options. Target is offering the Liberty of London print on platters, plates and bowls. A set of 8 is under $20. 

The one downside: melamine is not recommended for microwave or dishwasher (melamine shouldn't be exposed to high heat.) I find it a bit ironic that I can put my china in the dishwasher, but I have to handwash these plates after a messy burger. 

20 May 2010

Going Public

Friday is Bike to Work Day in Pittsburgh. Apparently just 20 years ago, it was the third worst city in which to bike, and now just received a bronze medal for its bike-friendliness. Considering our city is most livable, is the North American host for World Environment Day, and now has over 1,200 members in BikePGH, there is no reason we shouldn't be winning the gold.

My husband loves to bike as a stress releaser and cardio burner, while I am more of a runner. However, I truly wish I could easily strap on my helmet, put my reusable bag in the front basket and hop on and ride to Whole Foods without fear of being run over. We're just not quite there yet. 

Whenever I go to visit my family in Germany, I ride everywhere. So does everyone, including my grandparents, who still ride together to take care of their errands. There are more parking racks than parking spots. Cyclists and pedestrians share the sidewalk. You politely ring your klingel and pedestrians acknowledge and step aside. I truly appreciate that simplicity and lifestyle, and that is the one thing I cannot easily bring back in my suitcase.

Turns out there is someone with that same vision: Public, a company offering classic European city bikes and accessories started by the founder of Design Within Reach.

And form follows function: all of Public's offerings are the epitome of chic. I'd like the Parisian M in white, please (above), and this pretty pannier to tote all my belongings.

Or, this lightweight removable basket that doubles as a market tote?

Safety is always in style. How cheeky is this nutcase helmet with the I love my brain subtly stamped on the back? Need one say more?

Public's mission is to help make our communities more enjoyable. So we see ourselves as a more livable cities company. 

I sense a perfect match here.

17 May 2010

Tea Time

Finally, I am getting around to sharing the lovely afternoon I co-hosted over Mother's Day weekend. A friend started an annual tea party with sets of mothers and daughters, normally held in Boston. However, as luck would have it, she has been relocated to Pittsburgh for a year and we were able to convince the group to partake in a destination tea. Guests traveled by planes, trains and automobiles. We shared the prepping, and I was excited to officially christen our new dining room and entertain with our new chairs.
The menu: 

A variety of loose leaf teas, including Moroccan Mint and Ginger Peach from Prestogeorge in the Strip, and a sampler of Tea Forte organic teas. 

Cream scones with currants, served with clog-your-arteries clotted cream. 

Mixed berries with powdered sugar.

Tea sandwiches, including cucumber and cream cheese, chicken salad, and prosciutto and asparagus.

And for dessert! A dozen delectable cupcakes from Vanilla Pastry Studio in East Liberty. Carrot cake, red velvet, apricot, raspberry buttercream, chocolate fudge...  I can say with confidence that this is the best carrot cake cupcake in Pittsburgh.

15 May 2010

Something to Aspire To

The bidding has started for the Spring auction through Cleveland and Shadyside-based Aspire Auctions. Lots are open until this Thursday, May 20- Saturday, May 22. I'm watching some favorites, including this pretty still life that would work well in our living room.

How elegant is this portrait? A Gatsby girl with a pearl necklace?

This sideboard is gorgeous! I love the lines and the gold trim.

And the collection of baubles is always drool-worthy. I would love to play dress-up. It makes me wonder about the glamorous provenance of some of these pieces.

If you win, you can drop by the gallery on Ellsworth Ave. and pick up your prize a few weeks later. Happy Bidding!

13 May 2010

Spring Statement

One of my favorite shops is celebrating Spring this weekend! Now let's just hope Spring makes an appearance.

Roxanne's Dried Flowers is a little oasis in the middle of the bustling Strip, and the backyard garden is now filled with beautiful blooms and accents. Together with Collage across the street, both shops are also offering 15% off all next week. Update: the sale has been extended through May 31st!

12 May 2010

Need Reservations

Calling all foodies. A couple dates worth making it a date:

May 25-30th: Pittsburgh Restaurant Week 2010.
For five days, participating restaurants will be offering special menus for $20.10. For some local restaurants, that's (maybe even less than) a typical entree price. Last year we went to Eleven in the Strip, which was well worth it. Some great places on the list include Nine on NineCasbah and Plum. (Although Plum's menu has just about every delicious Asian dish, I always end up with the sushi, which is excellent.)

I do wish the list of restaurants had a little more meat-- it's a great way for patrons to experience a special place that may not be in their usual repertoire. That was how I was able to experience some of the A-list spots in New York. Practically every restaurant participated, from the corner bistros to the Michelin star picks.

Monday, June 14th: No Reservations: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain at Heinz Hall
This no-holds-barred chef/author/travel aficionado will be in Pittsburgh one night to share his worldly adventures with the usual charisma and bluntly honest remarks.

In the recent season of his hit show, Anthony Bourdain dines with none other than the hilarious Bill Murray. Funny enough, two of my most memorable celebrity run-ins were with these two gentlemen. Somehow or another, I ate hotdogs with Tony at his surprise birthday party. And I shared a priceless conversation with Bill. Good dinner talk, for sure.

07 May 2010

Flurry of Activity

The weekend is upon us, and this one is extra special with Mother's Day on Sunday. My mom is on her way to Pittsburgh as we speak, and I'm still torn with some of our potential activities! Some options:

Mothers, Makeovers & Mimosas at Saks, downtown
Saturday, May 8 at 9:30am
Shopping with a little kick. And proceeds benefit Women In Film and Media of Pittsburgh, dedicated to improving the status and portrayal of women in film, video and other screen based media.

May Market: Eco Garden Festival at the Phipps Conservatory
Saturday, May 8, 9:30am-5pm
Learn about and select plants and tools to spruce up the garden. Water Matters-themed gardening demonstrations in celebration of Pittsburgh's selection as North American host city for World Environment Day, and half-price entry to the conservatory.  (The image above is from the Orchid room at Phipps.)

Komen Pittsburgh Race for the Cure in Schenley Park
Sunday, May 9, starting 6:30am
It's not too late to register in person; visit the tent on Saturday from 11am to 4pm.

And of course, not to forget Dance Alloy's main performance, and to my husband's request, catching the Pens Saturday night!

Have a wonderful Spring weekend!

05 May 2010

Home Sweet Home

This house is exactly why Pittsburgh is a great place to live. If you wanted to renovate a brownstone in Beacon Hill or Brooklyn, you'd be out 7 digits. Featured in last week's New York Times What You Get for, this charming renovated rowhouse in Lawrenceville can be yours for just $275k!

In true Pittsburgh style, the owners preserved many features, including the original floors and staircases, and used lots of eco-materials.  My favorite part: the open master bedroom with large adjacent closets. The way to this girl's heart.
The home is listed with Coldwell Banker.

03 May 2010

Creative Elements

Dance Alloy Theatre's main stage event is ready be Unlocked this weekend. Newly appointed Alvin Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle and talented Pittsburgh-based Lincoln Center head trumpeter Sean Jones are part of the collaboration.  After experiencing an outstanding performance this winter, I am looking forward to seeing what Alloy has in the mix.

Four showings are set from Friday, May 7- Monday, May 10 at the New Hazlett Theater, each with a special social element and nibbles graciously provided by favorite local eateries. Tickets are available online or at the door. 
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