A weekend’s events ~ Pittsburgh Marathon

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Welcome to Pittsburgh’s Marathon weekend. Through the Fort Pitt tunnel, the cityscape is seen through one of the iconic yellow truss bridges.

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The expo was held at the Lawrence Convention Center in downtown where racers could pick up their bib numbers, new shoes, temporary tattoos and more. We met up with Jamie Summerlin, the man behind the first Morgantown Marathon, happening this September 20th!

IMG_9048 IMG_9052 IMG_9053We took pictures of the city before heading over to Osteria 2350 for an early dinner. At Osteria our group met up with fellow 7 @ 7ers, a group of mainly women who have been running at least 7 miles every weekend day for the last 7 years. There are more than seven of us now and we let boys join in occasionally!

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Muffin, in the foreground, has been preparing for her first marathon, so the group got together and made her a book of inspiration! In the background 17-times-a-marathoner-Sue and 5-time-marathoner-Cath are obviously enjoying themselves.IMG_9061 IMG_9063

Early the next morning the 5-guy relay team prepares for what will be a 3:09 marathon. It’s 5am and we wake up before dark to do push ups on built-in bookshelves. It’s the life of crazy runners.

I ran a 2:02 half-marathon and enjoyed every mile in the strip, through the North Shore, down Carson Street, over the West End bridge, and then the Birmingham bridge which led to an elevated view of the city before running back into downtown to complete the race. The pack of runners never really thinned out. I was however, able to find my cheering parents along Carson Street.

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A nice shot from the running competitor.

Clara Santucci, a girl who I can watch running often around Morgantown, won the woman’s marathon! The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a nice feature on her here.

Our large group enjoyed dinner across the river from the finish line at Station Square sharing stories about the unseasonably warm weather, the funny signs, the spectators and the bands. Our seasoned marathoner friend ran a 4:18, and the girls running behind her came in about an hour later. I ran alone but finished within minutes between two of the 7 @ 7ers. I couldn’t catch a new friend who ran the half in the 1 hour 40 minute range but the fastest of the girls almost caught him. She ran the 1/2 marathon with a 7:30 minute mile pace! Cheers to all of the finishers!

This weekend promises a run with a finish at Morgantown’s Farmer’s Market. Welcome summer.

Morgantown Marathon

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Morgantown, West Virginia is hosting it’s first Marathon! View the site here. The course, which promised to include all of the neighborhoods of Morgantown before being published in March, is certainly not to be taken lightly. With over 1600 feet in elevation gain, the language of the site warns the competitive person against trying to achieve a personal record. It’s close to home for many seasoned and new runners in the area. Begin training from Mile 1 as late as May and still have time to participate in the Half Marathon. Other races that weekend include the Mountain Mama 8k and the Inaugural Mile. My husband and I look forward to being a part of the inaugural Half Marathon race September 20th!

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The Tini Testers

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 Pascal’s Bistro

We visited Pascal’s Bistro on a Tuesday to enjoy drinks with French fare. As the three of us -Mariah, Caitlin and I approached the restaurant with a camera in hand, Pascal stepped out from the kitchen. DSC_0004

We were seated in the upper dining room, next to the open span of new windows along the front. As the evening darkened the traffic light from the passing cars provided a natural connection to where we were, that is, in the Cheat Lake area of Morgantown, WV.

map2The interiors are being filled with art, and more from a local artist is soon to come. The bar area was managed by a friendly gentleman who introduced himself as we stepped inside. The red bistro seats aligned the built-in banquet painted black. The wood floors slid to the far wall where a fireplace nook was ablaze with glass and candlelight. DSC_0014

The built-in book shelf/ wine glass display spans that entire far wall and has french accessories mixed in as well. Small pictures are set in gilded frames throughout the restaurant. Once in our seats, we ordered a Pear and Port Martini and a glass of red French wine. (You’ll need to enjoy this at one of their BIG RED events!) The difficult part was deciding what to order for dinner.

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1399992492menu2The tiger shrimp appetizer began our meal. We all ordered something different, and chose the steak, the chicken and the salmon for entrees. For dessert we chose the marmalade special soaked in rum, the steaming chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, and of course, the creme brulee. We topped off the night with french press coffee and left at a time when there were only a few people remaining at the bar.

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Before leaving though, Pascal offered us a tour of the kitchen. We went downstairs into the bright new white room where the stainless steel appliances shone.  The space looked like a wonderful place to work within view of the outdoors through the glass garage door. The transformation has been amazing and credit is due to the general contractor. Mills Group provided architectural services and Allegheny Restoration did a beautiful job pulling the space into it’s new use.

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We all left lightly filled and excited for our next visit of a Tuesday night escape!

Check out Mills Group’s recent spring newsletter where Pascal’s is featured! Below is the full story.

What once was a split-level home is now a fancy French restaurant in the Cheat Lake community of Morgantown. Owners, Katie and Pascal met in New York over the same sort of circumstances, in the kitchen. The kitchen is definitely the focus here, as an all-glass garage door at-grade greets the well-heeled guests. The interior takes on the same sort of atmosphere, sparse, clean, and completely focused on the food.

Mills Group assisted the couple on their search for a place to host their talents and decided on this location because of the surrounding community of homes along the lake and position away from Morgantown. Pascal’s Bistro is removed from the saturated number of restaurants in downtown. Their location at 186 Fairchance Road, just off of Route 43 is a destination and that’s the type of aura Katie and Pascal plan to host all of their guests within.

Allegheny Restoration was contracted to make the transformation. Led by Pete Heydon, the interior plan opened as walls were taken down to provide two dining areas, ADA compliant restrooms, and a new bar. Food storage areas and a full commercial kitchen are below grade, providing tricky solutions for fire protection and hood exhaust requirements to be incorporated into the plan. The building is very visible from nearby interchanges, and Mills Group designed a new front entry complete with large second story windows to attract visitors. Future plans to develop the rear patio area for an outdoor dining experience are in the works.

Enjoy Big Red wine as offered by wine steward and hostess Katie, the savory escargot persillade and crispy crème brûlée for desert as prepared by Pascal and his staff. Or, sneak a peek through the all-glass garage door to see a view of the show and partake in the important knowledge of knowing where your food comes from.

~ Enjoy! ~

Photos by Mariah and Caitlin!

Pascal’s New Restaurant / Morgantown WV

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 Looking for a new restaurant in the Cheat Lake area of Morgantown?

Try Pascal’s, a restaurant my firm, Mills Group, helped make a reality.

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It went from the home above to the demolition below to…
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…to ? You will have to go visit to see the end product!

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Allegheny Restoration took on the construction of the new restaurant and worked closely with the owners to assure that they had the kitchen, dining, and atmosphere the young couple desired. I look forward to my first visit soon.

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See the menu here.

2015 Miles

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2015 (Miles!) Run The Edge Challenge

A friend of mine signed up to run the 2,015 miles challenge and then invited his friends to help him make his goal.

For the month of January I’ve totaled 34 miles. The year ahead is full of opportunities to win some bling, as my running friends say. With three months and five days until the Pittsburgh marathon, I’m ready to begin training for the half.

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photo from Sabor PGH

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Closer to home, Morgantown WV is planning its first ever marathon this September! The Morgantown Marathon is to be challenging, with over 1650 feet of elevation change. With views of Coopers Rock on the website I have no doubt of the challenge. I’ve been visiting their site often to find out when registration opens.

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Morgantown photo from Wiki Travel Coopers Rock photo from MDM Pix

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ogden half marathon

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Two other races I am considering are the Wheeling WV Ogden, and the Wineglass Marathon in Corning NY.

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The wineglass medal seems to be the base of a wine bottle. Isn’t running 13.1 miles at least worth that?

Wheeling photo by Wiki Media   Wineglass photo

Go for the Gourd

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The East Wheeling Wednesday Farmers Market is trying to get ‘The Word out On The Street!’ Word on the street was the theme a few months ago. This week, below, colorful banners flew across the road signaling passersby to stop. The event challenged attendees to ‘Bitter Sweet Tie Dye’ their clothes. The corner is a creative force in the neighborhood that brings children and adults together.

Black Swan Organics is the driving force behind the stand. A few years ago, when Danny Swan began farming the green areas in the neighborhood in need of care, the area began to flourish. He’s determined to bring affordable, healthy food to those people who have no other place to turn for groceries within a close walking distance beyond the corner convenient store.

These weeks before Halloween the stand is flourishing with pumpkins, dried corn sprays, and gourds of all sizes. The orange explosion is hard to pass by. I encourage you to visit the stand every Wednesday that you can from noon to 7!

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From Ohiopyle to Pittsburgh – 85 Miles by Bike

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Technically my title is wrong. It should take about 75 miles to get from one destination to the other, but I’m including the extra to account for the necessary back and forth trip we biked from Cedar Creek campsite to an evening brew at the Trailside Restaurant and Pub Saturday night. The trip between Ohiopyle and Pittsburgh began earlier for my brother who took off from Pittsburgh Thursday morning on the Great Allegheny Passage – GAP trail. He made it to Ohiopyle Friday and Phil and I joined him for the return trip. We biked a longer trip last year and decided to shorten the mileage per day in order to incorporate more sight-seeing along the way. Connellsville was hosting a river-side arts festival, breakfast at Gary’s Chuck Wagon Restaurant surprised us with great coffee and dense donuts, and at the terminus Point Park in Pittsburgh we were greeted by a fantastic thunderstorm!

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Ohiopyle June

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Ohiopyle Family shot

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It’s been a wet June. We were more fortunate on the return trip to find an underpass, or to be sleeping beneath a lean-to when storms crossed the trial. Beginning in Ohiopyle Saturday morning was bright and sunny. Outdoor adventurists were crawling over the rock studded river sides, cyclists were gazing to the cascading falls from the bridges, and we were partaking in the breakfast bar at Falls Market and Restaurant. After scampering along the water’s edge ourselves we hit the trail and took the scenic ‘GAP’ bridge over the river. We followed the Youghiogheny River as it wove at a downward grade through the tulip forest. Ferns feathered the hillside as brush beneath the many single-filed tree trunks. Waterfalls generously poured into the thickening river, turning over stair-stepped banks of rock. We were shaded, the trail muddier than usual, and we could hear a few raindrops falling late from the previous night’s storm. From Mile 70, to 80, to 90, we rode mostly in quick conversations side by side at 13 mph. Then, at other times, in the pure silence of nature rushing by.

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GAP Trail Maps

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We set-up camp at Cedar Creek for free. With a hikers hut and restrooms available we were set for the night. Sharing the campsite with only four other campers made for a very peaceful evening. Well, that’s what we thought until we had a rude awakening.

Storms rolled around us through the night, but that was nothing compared to the sound of the train! Three or more times a thumping, screeching, rambling distraction made noise like we were about to be run over. This was the music of progress I suppose, the only sound cutting through the crickets and raindrops in an otherwise secluded (feeling) place.

As I mentioned earlier, before turning in we biked to the Trailside Restaurant and Pub in West Newton, PA. We enjoyed fresh food and bottled beer along with another small rain storm. The Pirates were playing and the mood on the deck porch was easy-going.

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West Newton PA Trailside.

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We woke up as well as we could and biked the four miles back into West Newton where we found coffee at Gary’s Chuckwagon restaurant. The placed filled up as Sunday service concluded and as we left. We were only thirty miles out of downtown Pittsburgh.

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Gary's Chuck Wagon, West Newton PA

The map below is a piece of what can be found on the GAP website. It details the places along the trail for bikers and hikers alike to enjoy between Greenock and Pittsburgh, PA. We were in luck pulling into little Boston that a bike shop / kayak and canoe rental had WD-40 to help with my brothers’ squeaking bike chain. They were really helpful and I told the man there that I’d blog about his shop. The place is called Ted’s Peddler’s Village, and the brochure is here:

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~Trail side rentals near Boston PA aerial below~

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We felt so close to Pittsburgh, but drove through the pathways around McKeesport, up and over the bridges crossing railway tracks near Duquesne, and into Homestead for quite a few more miles.

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The trail at Homestead is a very nice trail running between the river and new development. The path alone made me want to live there. The iron fencing running for miles would make iron workers drool. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail criss-crosses the GAP here, and offers bikers another reason to bike in Pittsburgh. The GAP leads to the rear side of Kennywood and skims the side of Sandcastle Water park, teasing hot cyclists as we drive on to finish our ride. And, finish our ride we did, just before the thunder show. We rode through the raindrops and circled the Point. We stopped quickly for pictures before the fountain and found cover beneath the concrete shell overpass at the point with many others as the storm passed.

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A good ride, good company, and a great accomplishment achieving 85 miles feels good for a weekend!

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Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

One good thing about Christmas shopping (yes, actually only one) is that more people are walking. It’s a phenomenon that people will walk miles in a mall (because of the canted designs that don’t show you a true end point) but refuse to walk a football field’s length away from the entrance. Interesting. It’s why downtown shopping in the 50’s era communities are having a difficult time doing business these days. Where is the parking?! Well, enjoy this month of unplanned exercise and take the stairs when you can!

Gardening Year Round

{ It’s time to close the Garden }

Gardening has become, in the last few years, a wonderful way in which I release. It grows alone, and well, even when I forget about it for a few days. Composting kitchen scraps and weeds to make black soil is such an easy way to make rich dirt. I enjoy pulling black earth from beneath my compost pile, knowing that I made this! Last week I spent some time pulling up carrots and beets, finding all of the Jerusalem artichokes (if you were wondering what those tree-like flowering bushes were on the left), turning down the tomato plants, and planting a winter rye as a cover crop.

I enjoy knowing how my food is grown. This year my tomatoes and peppers did wonderfully. Last year we had an abundance of potatoes and broccoli.

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During the winter my husband and I spend time planning our
garden for the upcoming year.

I recommend referencing a book by Joan Gussow. Her book, This Organic Life, may be found online for a quick peak. My copy is full of markers noting Gussow’s year round planting advice. I thought I’d share the following notes that I’ve found helpful from her book and from my own experience. Enjoy!

Crops to consider for the winter: Buckwheat & Barley. Mache, lollo rosa salad mixes that survive 10 degree weather in a cold frame are great too.

Feb or March, begin artichoke seedlings inside. Plant can go outside in May to get an artichoke in the fall.

Spring planting outside: Snap Peas, Bok Choy, spinach, carrots, beats, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, and green beans. (Start broccoli, tomatoes, and peppers inside.)

Late May –  Sweet Potatoes – take newspapers topped with grass clippings, when soil is 70 degrees, slit paper and push through rooted sweet potato (sprouted sweet potatoes put in water, if they don’t root in  week, flip the cutting over). Let the sweet potato ramble, and begin digging them up in September. When sweet potatoes are cut, they need to cure in a warm (80 degrees) humid place for a week.

Transplant indoor plants outdoors.

Ground Cherries, the fruit keep indefinitely as long as you leave them in their husks. The plant produces fruit from June through September.

When spinach went to seed in the summer, we planted parsnips in the same bed as a winter crop. Plant Parsnips, sauté in Feb or January or make parsnip pancakes.

June – broccoli seeded outdoors – when harvesting broccoli heads, cut the stem just above the first two leaves so that the sturdy stalk would send up new shoots for a second crop in early fall.

My brussels sprout just needs a little more time this year… Photo Sept. 2012.

Plant kale: Fall planting.

August – seeded outdoors, carrots, beets, winter salad and spinach

Cover crops: Rye or Austrian winter bean planted in October three weeks before a good frost. We did this last fall, the fall of 2011. We ended up sewing some of them back into the soil in March. Some was left to grow until May, when I pulled it and used it as a base to plant my tomato plants. My aunt and uncle have a method for tomato growing perfected. Check out a blog all about their home and garden at

Old World Garden Farms ~

See this site about year-round gardening tips too: Vegetable Gardening Online

This was a shot in September 2012 that we took after harvesting the Jerusalem artichoke trees… oh there’s an entire garden behind them!