32 before 32– A Little Wonder in Troy Hill: St. Anthony’s Chapel

32 before 32– A Little Wonder in Troy Hill: St. Anthony’s Chapel

I bet you’d be surprised to know that the largest collection of Catholic relics outside the Vatican is housed in a small church in the quiet hilly neighborhood of Troy Hill in Pittsburgh. Well it is. it is in St. Anthony’s Chapel.

I can’t remember where I learned this, but it was probably on some Rick Sebak special, because that is where I learn a lot of this type of stuff. Anyway, when I learned that there was a massive collection of relics right in our own city, I just had to see it. Because with something so unique in our backyard, why wouldn’t I?

Relics inside St. Anthony's, as photographed by Roadside America

Relics inside St. Anthony’s, as photographed by Roadside America

Many of the relics are tiny pebble-sized fragments of bone or teeth or what have you. There are also some larger bones, skulls and a tooth of St. Anthony of Padua. The chapel is simply gorgeous inside, with ornate frescoes and life-size hand carved and painted sculptures of the Stations of the Cross. I am not Catholic, but I believe that religious art from all faiths is beautiful. It is amazing to see the beauty that people create, inspired by their faith.

The chapel offers guided tours on certain days, but also offers a handheld audio tour if a guide is not available. I did the audio tour and really enjoyed it. It’s about 30 minutes long, tells you the history of the chapel, including the story of its founder, Father Suitbert Mollinger, as well as an overview of the relics and art in the chapel. It’s amazing that the whole thing is sustained by volunteers and donations, so if you visit, be sure to leave a contribution. The Chapel is now on my short list of must-sees in the City. If you’re a resident and haven’t made your way over there, it’s absolutely worth a visit. It’s close, it’s quick, and it’s wonderful.


I’ve totally cracked. I’m dreaming of Greenland.

I’ve totally cracked. I’m dreaming of Greenland.

Either the prolonged cold or my kid’s incessant obsession with Frozen has finally made me crack. I’m dreaming of vacation, but instead of beaches, I’ve suddenly become mildly obsessed with the possibility of visiting GREENLAND.

What’s in Greenland? Pretty much nothing. Well there are mountains. There is ice. There are lichen. In my mind there are lots of tiny ponies, but I don’t know if there really are tiny ponies in Greenland. I really hope there are.

Obviously the first step in planning my imaginary vacation to Greenland is to secure airfare. There are a couple of tiny airports, all of which are indistinguishable to me because they have crazy names and I don’t know anything about Greenland. There is like one flight a millennium out of Ottawa, occasional flights out of Iceland, but most of the flights are out of Copenhagen. So Copenhagen it is, and I’m picking my flight to Narsarsuaq. Because why not.

Flight to GreenlandAccording to the internet, that’s about $2,600 for the Denmark to Greenland part of the flight. I still gotta get from Pittsburgh to Denmark, so this flight is going to be PRICY. And look at me, how nice, I’ll even invite Mr. Beez along.

Step two of the trip, pick a hotel:

Greenland HotelsTHE SELECTION IS BAFFLING. It is hard to resist the party that is sure to be DiscoBay, but honestly, the “sadest hotel in the arctics” is just too enticing to pass up. The reviews characterize the place as having a “barracks” ambience. It even has a cafeteria (who needs a dining room, anyway?). Although TripAdvisor suggests the lodging is somewhat rugged, the hotel’s website makes the place actually look pretty nice.

Since I’m writing this blog post fairly late at night, and I am feeling less ambitious about my online travel-planning, I’ll rely on Greenland’s travel website to figure out what to do while I’m there.

First things first: Food. It looks like Greenlanders like lots of fish, mushrooms and various green things. Those sound good to me. I just hope they don’t like rotten shark, Iceland-style.

Arctic Char Fishing

I would also be sure to take an excursion to the ICE SHEET. I’m not much of a rugged outdoorswoman. In fact, once the temperature dips below 40, I would prefer to stay indoors thankyouverymuch. But in my adventure to the Greenland-thats-not-green-but-rather-icy, I would for sure check out the ICE SHEET.

Ice Sheet

Also I would absolutely go on a wildlife excursion. It looks like the tiny ponies in my imagination aren’t really in Greenland, so that’s too bad. But they have polar bears, and that’s cool. Also, Reindeer. Hello, Sven!

Greenland Animals

And then I will return back to a warmer clime, and remain puzzled over how anyone could be OK with being that cold ALL THE TIME.


Happy Birthday to Me and 32 Before 32 Roll Out

Happy Birthday to Me and 32 Before 32 Roll Out

Good morning all and happy birthday to me!  I was greeted with a birthday card and birthday smooch from my husband this morning.  Baby Beez kept asking about cake, but I did coax her into singing “Happy Birthday to Mommy!”  And yes, I’ll be stopping at Prantl’s to pick up a cake to share with the fam.

I’ve been getting so many warm birthday wishes this morning, it is just wonderful.  My celebrations today will be low-key.  I have work today, but it’s luckily a dull roar of chaos, instead of its usual complete deafening roar of chaos.  We celebrated yesterday with fancy brunch with friends at Eleven, and will be celebrating again next week with buffet dinner at Taj Mahal.  Food food food. Now that’s my kind of party.

In celebration of this new year, I’ve rolled out my 32 before 32 list! I was so excited to get started that I even put together a crock-pot dinner for tonight (beef stew!)  Please do share your crock pot favorites with me!

And in the spirit of Item No. 30, my Healthy Living goal this week is to TRACK ALL MY FOOD in Weight Watchers. All of it. Not just the food I eat before lunch, but all the food I eat, all day. Even if it means I blow the points out of the water.  I’ll let you know next week how it went!


30 down. Time for 31.

30 down. Time for 31.

Tomorrow it are my birfday. Which brings my 31 before 31 list to a close. I crossed quite a few things off my list. I did not get everything, either because things did not fit with my availability, or I lost interest (see: dirty car. Don’t care.)
My ___ before ___ lists are part challenge, part reminder. I like the challenge of trying all these new things. I like the reminder that despite life’s frustrations, I do manage to do quite a lot of fun things. When I get stressed and feel like my life is all work work work, I take a look at my list and think about all the cool things I did get to do during the year, so I should quit that whining.

There were a number of other cool things that I did this year that weren’t even on the list. I went to two amazing foodblogging conferences, I ran a 10 mile race, and I visited four different countries this year. While my 20s were full of growth and change, I feel like in my 30s I’m hitting my stride. I’m comfortable with my work, I’m comfortable with my family, my life has a pretty solid foundation and now it’s up to me to maximize opportunities and live it to the fullest.

So tonight I lay my head on my pillow knowing that I made good use of this year, and have high hopes for the year ahead. Goodnight, friends.


31 Before 31: Movie Marathon. LOTR!!

On October 13 we had our MOVIE MARATHON! I had a WW meeting in the morning, and then I stopped at Market District to pick up a pint of Jeni’s Splendid Whiskey and Pecan’s Ice Cream, and admittedly got distracted by the amazing beer and wine selection they have accumulated, and also got stuck wandering around the cheese fridge, and managed to lose an hour in glazed-over wonder, because as much as I hated Market District when it first opened, they have stepped up their game and really are developing a selection of very nice things.

So anyway, by 11am, it was finally time to begin our movies. And more important than the movie watching, we ate like Hobbitses! I did a little internet research on appropriate LOTR menus, and persons more ambitious (and with more free time) than myself have developed truly ambitious menus. I, however, went with the approach of buying a ton of food that looks tasty, and then just eating all darn day long.

Our first dish of the day was spinach and cheese foccacia from Colangelo’s.  Foccacia doesn’t have any special tie to LOTR, other than hobbits like to eat a lot of bread. Really, we picked it up because Baby Beez had her ballet class in the Strip District on Saturday morning and I whined to Mr. Beez that he haaaaad to drop me off to pick up something tasty from the bakery. And foccacia looked the tastiest. So there we are.

Next up was lembas and leetle feeshes. I can resist yucky stale swedish fish, but something about not-stale swedish fish, despite their potent cough-syrup taste and my better judgment, I just. can’t. stop. eating. them.  Same with the shortbread.  I can’t help myself. So I ate these things until I had a ridiculous bellyache.  Because I am ridiculous.

In the late afternoon we ordered take-out from Piper’s Pub. YES I know this looks totally, totally, totally gross. But it’s shepherd’s pie, and I do not have the magazine worthy food styling skills that are necessary to make shepherd’s pie look palatable. But it was hearty and tasty (not like after many hours of steady eating I needed anything hearty, but still, not complainin). Mr. Beez got the beef shepherd’s pie and ate it all before I got a bite, so I guess he liked it. I usually prefer the lamb & chestnut shepherd’s pie, but on this particular day they had elk on the menu, and I am entirely too exciteable when it comes to trying new things, so ELK IT WAS. It was quite the belly filler, exactly like a stew should be, but I do admit that the lamb shepherd’s pie has stronger flavors, which I prefer. Even though I like lamb better, the elk was no slouch.

And, no question, the most essential component of the LOTR marathon was the beer! I assembled quite a variety of seasonal beers (oh how I love pumpkin beer), and the selection complemented our day of endless eating quite well.

And yes, we have a 3 year old. We let her watch the movies with us. I do think the movies are violent and scary, but we talked with her the whole time they were on, and she had the full opportunity to go do other things that did not involve watching TV. On the whole, though, she asked a lot of pertinent questions and made interesting comments, and was only scared for a short bit during Fellowship of the Ring. So I think we did not scar her permanently.

We took a couple of breaks, and the entire marathon took until midnight to wrap up. I did laundry and worked on a brief and poked around on the internet a little bit while the moves were on. Mr. Beez said that in a “real” movie marathon, you sit and attentively watch all the movies. I, however, am unable to even attentively watch a 30 minute TV show, so I declared that he’d either have to tolerate my multitasking, or nothing resembling a movie marathon will happen ever. He ended up conceding that it was a pointless issue to argue with me.

I am so over-eager to fill my days with this, that and the other event and outing that I really enjoyed having a day designated for being homebound. It was neat to watch all the movies back to back. Mr. Beez and I discussed our favorite characters. Mine are Gollum and the Ents. I saw the animated version of the Hobbit when I was a little kid, and I was just fascinated by Gollum, and he has been my favorite ever since. The Ents are just so strange and interesting. I love them. Mr. Beez’ favorite is Galadriel. I’m guessing he just likes hot-tempered, bossy women.