Feature Articles

Backyard pool offers swimmer's delight

Todd took the term “custom-fitted” to a whole new level. Wrapped in plastic, he immersed himself in the wet cement in the main pool, making a contoured outline to create four built-in lounge chairs. “This was designed in a way that was more upright, so your knees are more raised and contoured for the small of your back and neck,” he says, adding that the design makes it less likely to float off them and provides an additional measure of comfort. A sun shelf, also known as a tanning shelf, immer

Butler County Barn Trail | Where & When

Driving along the Butler County Barn Trail is not a typical activity for this suburban Pittsburgh mom.  When I get in the car, invariably it is to chauffeur my kids between activities and friends' houses.  Rarely do I get a chance to drive for the pure pleasure of taking in the scenery. The self-guided Butler County Barn Trail was the perfect escape. Meandering through the countryside with a friend, we marveled that the busy city was only a few miles south of our destination. How was this po

Custom ranch home a natural fit

Set on a secluded, 35-acre wooded lot, the modern home is intended to integrate the outdoors, both from an architectural and an interior design standpoint. Windows highlight virtually every room, except the powder room. “One of the key organizers for how we arranged the house with the site was a very linear form running east to west, which optimizes daylight and views from the house,” says architect Robert Gaskill, owner of Gaskill Architecture, who spearheaded the project. The exterior of

Family perseveres in fighting pediatric disorder

Bonnie Markowitz does not like Feb. 2. Twice on that date, several years apart, it was as if her son had vanished, even though he was still right there, next to her. The first time was on Feb. 2, 2007, when Brandon, then 5½, had a typical strep throat infection, which was treated with antibiotics. But a day or two after he got sick, his personality seemed to shift overnight: Uncontrollable tantrums and extreme separation anxiety kicked in, which was completely at odds with the person he had be

Bella Christie & Lil’ Z’s

If you stop by Bella Christie and Lil’ Z’s Sweet Boutique on Butler Street in Lawrenceville for your daily spoonful of sugar, you may notice that the bakery has pared down its display cases. But don’t panic; you can still find a Hot Mess cookie (peanut butter, toffee, and white milk chocolate) or perhaps a HoHo cupcake (self-explanatory). What you will also notice are three interactive dessert stations that overflow with a rotating cornucopia of delectable goody-ness. The stations, which change