Friday, February 10, 2012


On Monday, February 6, my sister Rachel and I had a delightful time with the innkeepers at City House B&B. We had visited them earlier for an art exhibit and got to talking. I mentioned a pear pancake recipe from another B&B that I liked and later sent it to them. Rachel went a step further and sent them a box of luscious pears.

Before you knew it, we were invited to try their version of the pear pancake! We enjoyed that delicious confection, along with some pineapple, tea, and coffee -- but most of all, lively conversation. They're a great couple, and we're happy to know them.


The next day, Susanne and I headed west to New Brighton to visit with our daughter Sarah and her two kids and to babysit for them when Sarah had to work one evening. During our visit we took Cole and Chloe to Applebee's for dinner. The onion rings, pictured below, were seriously good.

We spent the rest of the evening helping the kids with homework and reading. Cole and Chloe played some games on the computer until bedtime. Obviously, Chloe was close to losing her mind.

While the kids were in school, Susanne and I drove over to Monaca to the mall. It had snowed lightly during the night, and the trees were dusted and looking lovely. At the mall we made a bee-line for Marshall's, Susanne's new favorite store. As she looked around, I prowled the "home décor" section and began to see a pattern. Many, many products are cast with a French accent.

For example, below, clockwise are Le Creuset cookware; jam from Provence in the south of France; a three-tiered cookie plate from Collette et Cie; wall art featuring the Eiffel Tower; and Le Nibble, a snack cracker.

I was surprised to find even more French-themed products, such as, clcokwise, a casserole dish from the Art de la Table series; Joie brand wine aerator; a pillow touting Bon Vin (Good Wine); an Eiffel Tower magnifying glass; a poster of Parisien tourist sites; and another pillow with French stamps and post marks.

Exhausted for Marshall's, Susanne wanted to return home for a nap. I, ever on the move, preferred to take a driving tour of New Brighton, looking for some interesting houses, of which there are many. 

Here are some composites of some of the more interesting.

The first set is up on a hill overlooking the town. There is even a scenic overlook that provides a nice view of the falls in the Beaver River. I thought the house in the middle might have real potential. It was situated in an interesting crook in the road and just needs some tender, loving care. Don't you agree?

There are several houses nearer to Sarah's house that always catch my eye. I would really like to get into the ramshackle brick mansion in the two top row photos. And I'd like to know its history. It must be the largest house in town, although in awful condition. Left to right in the bottom row are a Queen Anne mansion and a brick Colonial on Third Avenue; and a brick house-turned-office building not far away.

Also on Third Avenue is the childhood home of New Brighton industrialist Edward Merrick, who created an outstanding collection of art now on display not far away at the Merrick Art Gallery. The gallery contains a collection of French, German, English and American paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries collected by Merrick, a collection probably unequaled in western Pennsylvania.

In the next block is this impressive home, built in 1835 by a Quaker industrialist and abolitionist. If memory serves me correctly, it's a funeral home now.

Clockwise from upper left: A frame house with a large porch and fanciful window decoration; birdies camped out on a snow-covered bush; a fanciful tile roof; a large foursquare; a garage door that suggests this was not always a residence.

Clockwise from upper left are homes close to Sarah's. I wish the color were closer to the real color of the purple house on Penn Avenue; the gorgeous façade of a mansion Penn that is now a funeral home; a Dutch Colonial across the street from Sarah's house. In the center photo is Sarah's corner house with an old address stone lying in the garden. Have you noticed that there are virtually no row homes in New Brighton?

In the kitchen, I noticed the striking resemblance of Sarah's baking dish to the Shroud of Turin. The dish is on the left if you're confused.

On Thursday, Susanne ventured into the cold to help the kids board the school bus. Meanwhile, I stayed in the house and thanked the inventor of the telephoto lens.

After the kids left, we went downtown to have breakfast at Waffle INCaffeinated. Susanne had waffles with chicken salad, and I had French toast. It was a pleasant experience, although next time we will try the family restaurant on the other end of town. Read my TripAdvisor review here.

After breakfast we returned to Sarah's, packed our bags, and headed for home.

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