Christmas Break in Pennsylvania

The Christmas season chills your lungs with the crisp cold air and warms you up with warm spiced fresh apple cider.  On the last leg of our train journey, we went from Chicago, IL, to Harrisburg, PA, with a one-day stop in Pittsburgh, PA. It was only a day, but we really enjoyed Pittsburgh. We ate breakfast at a great neighborhood diner where everybody knew everyone’s name (except for us) and our breakfast, coffee and tea totaled $11 including tip.

I went for a run along the river, going by the old Heinz 57 varieties factory. Then we both went for a long walk from the Bloomfield neighborhood to downtown all the way to the joining of rivers at Fort Pitt.


olive bar


Cheese for yards at Stamoolis Brothers Co. Grocery




















On the way to downtown, we passed through The Strip district where we found many old specialty shops, selling meats, cheese, produce, biscotti, candy, and most any other food you could think of. It must be nice living in this area, and probably expensive, too, since it is right next to downtown.

We appreciate friends of a friend Jordan, Boback, and Kathryn letting us stay at their home with their dog-like cats. And thanks to Dan for helping us arrange this stay!


Graceful bridges of the Alleghany River











We hop back on the train for our last 6 hours to Harrisburg and had lunch with Rich, Wendy, Mom, and Dan.

The next day was Christmas Eve and in this family that means making Welsh cookies and going to see Dad’s side of the family at Aunt Elaine’s. Anna is now old enough to help make the cookies. It is a family recipe that seems to be the only remnant of our Welsh heritage.


Anna really enjoyed mixing the dough by hand.


The cookies are no-grease fried on a skillet. Plenty of shortening in the dough, so they don’t stick.




















The Welsh cookies look like this when they’re done.












We’ve had a great time with family. Christmas eve was at Aunt Elaine’s home in Maryland. Every year we exchange gifts, eat cheese crackers, ham, and lots of sweets, and take lots of pictures.


Grandma Lois with her grandkids and great greatkids











Practicing alphabet letters. Rich’s gift letter “B” for Brandy.













Mom and Dan came to visit on the 26th. We exchanged gifts and they got to play with the kids.


Mr. Dan with Gammy holding grandbaby Lucas. Stu and Anna look on from behind.










A couple days after Christmas, we took a day trip to Philadelphia where Mags and cousin Jodi saw each other for the first time in eight years!


cousins very happy to see each other












Cousins Mags and Jodi reunite in Philly after 8 years.











We walked from Philly City Hall to touristy-but-fun South Street. We stopped at a vegetarian restaurant for lunch and to wait out the pouring rain. We looked through windows at the Magic Garden, browsed Wooden Shoe Books, a nice anarchist bookstore, then saw The Descendants, which was a great movie! For dinner we stopped by Jim’s Steaks. It is a very famous place for Philly Cheesesteaks. It is traditional to get Cheez Whiz on your steak.


In the City of Brotherly LoveThe detailed mosaic art inspires art around the city

















We then had a day in Maryland. We saw Berger at George’s Restaurant. I worked at George’s for 3.5 years. Rich also worked there for a year+. As far as I am concerned, they have the best pizza around. We also got to walk around the neighborhood I grew up in and even play a game of basketball on the court Berger and I have played on hundreds of times.

We finished Maryland day by visiting family at Kim and Chi’s house. They have two kids, Sammy and Ben. Uncle Henry, Aunt Barb, and Keith were also there. It is always nice seeing them and catching up.


Stu and Berger enjoy their favorite pizza at George’s Resturant, Arnold, Maryland










We will be celebrating New Years Eve at Rich and Wendy’s home with champagne and board games. Then we are off to Southern Maryland for a few days to visit an intentional community.

Here are full pictures from part 1 (Pittsburgh) and part 2 (Philly) of this portion of our trip.

Happy New Year to all!

This entry was posted in Family. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Christmas Break in Pennsylvania

  1. Next time you’re in Pgh be sure to stop in the Strip…I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the prices. There are some upscale prices, but since most of the businesses are primarily wholesale they can keep their prices lower than many groceries outside the Strip. This is where much of Pgh comes to shop – people from all social and financial levels. Particularly be sure to check the cheese at Penn Mac and the fish at Wholey’s for the biggest and freshest selection and best prices in the city!

  2. Katie Carlson says:

    Mags and Stu – You’re trip sounds so romantic and whimsical! I will travel vicariously through you until I can take a trip of my own. Happy and safe travels to you….. with much love, xoxo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *