Monday, January 25, 2016

Keeping it cozy between seasons

For most of us, the holiday decorations have been taken down and are packed away for the next 11 months. But without all of the warmth from the Christmas tree, garlands and wreaths and the sparkle from the holiday lights, the house can seem so cold. It’s too early to decorate for spring though, so how do you keep your home feeling cozy when it’s frigid out and springtime feels like a million years from now?

Keep it cozy with few decorating tweaks.

Don’t despair. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your home has to be on the inside. 

Here are some tricks to warm up your abode and bridge that gap between holiday and spring decorating.

Add ambiance with a new houseplant and a fresh candle.

Bring back some green. Add a few new houseplants – ivy, Cyclamen and Kalanchoe are good choices for winter months. 

If you don’t do well with live plants, try a couple of faux, moss-covered wreaths or boxwood topiaries.

Faux topiaries are a good substitute if you're not a "green thumb."

Light some candles. The soft glow of candlelight warms up any room. 

If you are leery about using real candles, the flameless, battery operated versions work wonderfully. They’re widely available, and many even come with timers and remotes.

Fresh flowers, candles and a change of pillows adds instant warmth.

Change your accent pillows, or just buy some pillow covers to swap out your holiday-themed pillows. Try a vibrant new color or pattern, and use warm fabrics like velvet and chenille.


A basket of comfy throws adds to the cozy factor.

Fill a large basket with a few throw blankets, and keep it near your couch. They’ll be handy for movie nights or just relaxing by the fire.

Earthy and textured pine cones are the perfect winter accent.

Embellish baskets and bowls. Pine cones are a beautiful winter accent to add to containers, baskets, and bowls as are decorative seed, greenery, and burlap balls.

Click below to watch my presentation beginning Sunday, January 31.

It may still be frozen out there, but a few simple tweaks in your home will lift your spirits and send old man winter packing. 

Have a great week! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sister Pie - a slice of heaven in Detroit's West Village

I have been enamored by the eclectic charm of Sister Pie bakery since I discovered it on Instagram a few months ago. I was lured in from the many artistic and witty posts made by owner Lisa Ludwinski who, by the way, is a brilliant social media marketer. Her ability to capture the every-day happenings at her big-city neighborhood bakery, including dancing and singing and a whole lot of pie making speaks to me and many others as it is apparent from her growing fan base.

Stacks of freshly baked cookies and scones await customers.

While visiting Detroit's Eastern Market to research (aka a quickie getaway for me and my husband) for an upcoming Plates and Places column, I knew we had to include Sister Pie as one of our stops. So glad we did.

Sister Pie bakery is part of Detroit's West Village neighborhood.

Located at the corner of Kercheval and Parker streets in Detroit’s West Village neighborhood, Sister Pie has been in business since Thanksgiving 2012 but only in its current location for eight months. You would never guess this. 

Lisa attributes her success to, “Lots and lots of work. You have to be willing to do it every day of your life.”

The day's coffee selections are listed near the help-yourself water station.

A bowl of Salty-Malty chocolate scones won't be full for long.

Sister Pie’s menu changes seasonally offering unique combinations of ingredients in their pies and baked goods such as Salted Maple Pie, Chocolate Peppermint Meringue Pie, Cheesy Kale Scones and Roasted Potato, Caramelized Onion and White Bean hand pies.

Lisa Ludwinski is the owner and creator of Sister Pie.

We chose a few items to take along and share over the next few days - a cheesy kale scone, a slice of salted maple pie, a potato and white bean hand pie, and a cranberry cream cheese muffin. 

All were delicious and memorable - making me wish I could run down the street to Sister Pie on weekend mornings.

The front case is stocked and labeled.

The bakery is truly unique and a place we hope to visit again. As for Lisa and her team, they have found a way into people's hearts with their fun-loving and hard-working attitudes, “Pie speaks to everyone. We took traditional mixtures and added our own personality."

L to R: Kamaria Gray and Tianna Bogan prepare pastry dough.

Have a great day, and visit Sister Pie! 

A cozy nook by the window at Sister Pie to enjoy coffee and a pastry or two!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Score with touchdown winning Super Bowl snacks

Don’t fumble over what to serve your game-day guests. Kick off your Super Bowl party with appetizers that will satisfy your home team and get you the extra point. The following recipes were recently presented by me and Boomers and Beyond co-editor Mary Helen Darah on an episode of WTVG's Full Plate with Rebecca Regnier. Watch the episode here.

Red Zone Taco Dip Cups

Linebacker Pizza Bread 
The crowd won’t go hungry with this loaded bread. Prepared in a Bundt pan, this appetizer hits the spot.

2 containers refrigerated pizza dough, cut in ½ cubes
Olive oil
½ cup Kalamata olives
¼ cup real bacon bits
1 small jar artichoke hearts
2 cups mozzarella cheese
6-ounce package pepperoni, chopped
½ teaspoon each – dried basil, thyme and oregano
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
Fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese for garnish
Marinara sauce for dipping

Heat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, coat dough pieces with olive oil. Add remainder of ingredients and toss to combine. Pour mixture into large Bundt pan. Bake for 35 minutes.
Turn bread out onto serving plate. Garnish with fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese. Serve with a side of marinara sauce. 

(Recipe from Mary Helen Darah)

Linebacker Pizza Bread

Red Zone Taco Dip Cups
Everyone loves taco dip, but let’s face it after a few people have dipped, it starts to look a little mushy. Individual servings keep your buffet looking neat, and no one has to worry about double dippers.

Yield: 16 appetizer cups
Two 16-ounce cans refried beans
1 package taco seasoning
16-ounce container prepared guacamole
8-ounce container sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
½ bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
4-ounce can green chiles, drained
3-ounce can sliced olives, drained
Sixteen 5-ounce plastic appetizer cups
Tortilla chips

In a bowl, mix refried beans and taco seasoning. In another bowl, combine tomatoes, green onions, green chiles and olives. In each plastic cup, layer a scoop of beans, then guacamole, then sour cream. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with tomato mixture. Serve with tortilla chips.

(Recipe from Jennifer Ruple)

Savory Cheese and Onion Bites

Savory Cheese and Onion Bites
Gain extra yardage by serving these creamy, cheesy appetizers.
Yield: 48 appetizers

6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 ¼ cups mayonnaise
12-ounce package English muffins, halved
Mix ingredients and spread on muffins. Broil until browned and bubbly. Cut muffins into 4 pieces.

(Recipe from Gina Ritzman, insane Perrysburg Football mom)

Tailgate Toasted Ravioli

Tailgate Toasted Ravioli
Cheese, beef or a mixture of both, ravioli are a game changer and perfect for dipping in marinara sauce.

22-ounce package frozen cheese or beef ravioli
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups bread crumbs
Olive oil for frying
Fresh herbs for garnish
Marinara sauce for dipping

Dip each ravioli in egg, then coat with bread crumbs. In a medium frying pan, heat oil and fry ravioli until brown and slightly crispy.

(Recipe by Mary Helen Darah)

Mary Helen Darah, Rebecca Regnier and Me

Happy New Year!