Author Archive

Blueberry Turmeric Granola

Written by admin on . Posted in Food

Make a double batch of this gluten free granola because you’ll miss it when it’s gone. Every bite promises to be a delicious crunchy combo of quinoa, oats, nuts, seeds, and antioxidant-rich blueberries and turmeric. Did you know turmeric may prevent  your liver from being damaged by toxins?


  •  ½ cup quinoa, uncooked
  •  1 cup oats
  •  ½ cup almonds, roughly chopped
  •  ½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped (or sub walnuts)
  •  ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  •  ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  •  ¼ cup cacao nibs
  •  1 teaspoon cinnamon
  •  ½ teaspoon turmeric
  •  ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  •  2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  •  4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup dried blueberries


1.Preheat oven to 300℉. Place quinoa in a small bowl and cover with water. Soak for 20 minutes.
2.Place oats, almonds, hazelnuts, coconut, sunflower seeds, cacao nibs, cinnamon, turmeric, and sea salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Drain quinoa, add to bowl, and toss again.
3.In a small pan, stir together coconut sugar, coconut oil, syrup, cinnamon, turmeric, and salt. Warm until coconut oil is melted. Whisk until ingredients are blended.
4.Remove pan from heat and pour liquid over ingredients in bowl. Toss to coat thoroughly.
5.Transfer granola to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and stir granola around. Return to oven for 10 more minutes.
6.Remove from oven to cool and sprinkle dried blueberries over granola. Cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container.


Makes 4 cups


Jennifer Cohen Katz RD LDN
Culinary Nutritionist

Buckwheat Banana Bread

Written by admin on . Posted in Food

This quick bread contains no gluten, a common hormone disruptor. The main ingredient, buckwheat, is a very good source of manganese and a good source of copper, magnesium, dietary fiber and phosphorus. This grain contains rutin and quercitin which are health supportive flavonoids.


• 1 ½ cups buckwheat flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 3 ripe bananas, mashed
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ⅓ cup maple syrup
• ¼ cup olive oil or melted coconut oil, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
• topping:
• ¼ cup rolled oats
• 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
• 1 pinch sea salt


1.Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease a loaf pan with oil and line with parchment paper.
2.Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3.In a small bowl, blend mashed banana, egg, vanilla, maple syrup, and 1/4 cup oil together.
4.In a separate small bowl, toss oats, walnuts, salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil together.
5.Fold wet ingredients into dry. Blend well and transfer to prepared loaf pan.
6.Arrange topping over batter. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes.


1 loaf


Jennifer Cohen Katz RD LDN
Culinary Nutritionist

Pumpkin Pie Bites

Written by admin on . Posted in Food

Portioned bites of moist pumpkin pie flavor without white sugar or high fat dairy. Enjoy a taste of dessert without feeling bloated.


  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked 2 hours, rinsed, drained
  • 9 pitted medjool dates
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ¼ cup vanilla protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ cup pumpkin purée
  • Maple Coconut Glaze
  • ¼ cup coconut butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • pinch of pumpkin spice
    dried cranberries for garnish, optional



1.Add cashews, dates, oats, protein powder, pumpkin pie spice and sea salt into your food processor and pulse until mixture is completely chopped. Open food processor and add pumpkin purée. Blend for a few more seconds, until a dough forms. Scoop dough from food processor and roll into small balls using your hands. Freeze for 20-30 minutes.

2.In a shallow bowl, whisk together melted coconut butter and coconut oil with maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Roll each ball into the mixture and place back in the freezer to harden. Press a cranberry into the top of each bite before freezing, if desired. Store bites in your refrigerator.


Jennifer Cohen Katz RD LDN
Culinary Nutritionist


Yield: 20

Razing the Bar

Written by admin on . Posted in Health and Wellness


Story BY Elizabeth Heubeck      PHOTOGRAPHY BY Mary C. Gardella

November/December 2017

It’s dinner time and you find yourself in the kitchen, chopping and sautéing—and, perhaps, pouring a much anticipated glass of wine. Whether you’ve been corralling kids all day or sitting through a series of intense meetings at the office, the resultant pent-up stress seems to ease with that first sip. By the end of some evenings, the recently uncorked bottle gets tossed into the recycle bin.

Sound familiar?

For countless women, the answer is “yes,” though few will readily admit it. There’s nothing wrong with a couple of glasses of wine after a long day. But the serious health threats associated with regularly consuming alcohol are fairly alarming. For instance, just one drink a day—that’s 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or a shot of liquor— raises women’s likelihood of developing breast cancer, say experts.

In spite of long-term medical risks associated with alcohol consumption (not to mention the immediate negative impact of the morning after), changing or even confronting alcohol consumption behaviors doesn’t come easy. For women, consuming alcohol is not only culturally acceptable, but often expected.

Summer Cullen, who works for an arts nonprofit in Baltimore City, says that women face unique challenges when it comes to juggling. “Many of us are in care¬giver roles; are expected to excel at work; be a model parent and care for our own parents; look fantastic; eat nothing but organic bean sprouts; complete “The New York Times” Sunday crossword; never miss yoga; and do it all without breaking,” says the 30-something who has given up drinking. Cullen had her first beer at age 12 and immediately liked how alcohol made her feel. As she approached 30, however, she thought she might soon be dead because of it.

As Cullen suggests, even highly successful women may turn to alcohol as a de-stressor. When asked by a reporter for “New York” magazine how she coped after her loss in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton responded: “Long walks in the woods. Organizing my closets. I won’t lie, chardonnay helped a little, too.”

As a baby boomer, Clinton falls into an age group whose alcohol use is on the rise. A recently released study by the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that, among women 60 and older, heavy drinking is increasing. Researchers tracked the drinking patterns of more than 65,000 respondents between 1997 and 2016 and found that, while men’s binge drinking habits remained the same over this period, women’s increased an average of nearly 4 percent every year. The study was published in the journal “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.”

Older women aren’t the only ones ramping up their drinking. In a national survey of thousands of women ages 35 to 54, 71 percent of white women described them¬selves as drinkers, compared to 47 percent of black women, 41 percent of Hispanic women and 37 percent of Asian women. Furthermore, the rate of alcohol-related deaths among white women in 2015—which account for 8 percent of all fatalities among this demographic—represents a 130 percent increase since 1999, according to statistics from the National Health Interview Survey.

Even so, recent studies suggest that consuming one alcoholic beverage, specifically a glass of red wine, per day, may reduce the risk of a heart attack and increase levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol. It has also been linked to a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes.

Eric Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition who has been researching the effects of alcohol and chronic disease for decades at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found that ethanol increases HDL, improves insulin sensitivity and slows down the ability of blood to clot. It also helps to decrease inflammation inside of the arteries, according to Rimm.

Despite these seemingly conflicting health messages, most medical professionals agree that indulging in more than one alcoholic beverage per day is detrimental.

Wine tends to be the drink of choice among adult women. In fact, women drink nearly 60 percent of all wine consumed in the U.S., according to the Beverage Information Group. Almost half of wine drinkers are college graduates and are more likely to drink daily, according to a 2008 Gallup Poll. Further, almost 35 percent of female wine drinkers hold graduate degrees, reports Stonebridge Research, which tracks the wine industry.

Many of these educated female drinkers learn to drink in college.

Patti Sapp, a Howard County-based hypnotist, has a fair number of female clients who struggle with alcohol dependency issues. Some tell her they started drinking in college for fun. Years later, some of those women say alcohol helps them to calm down. Evelyn Frank, a 39-year-old Howard County resident, can relate.

“I so enjoyed that one fat glass of really yummy wine. It made me feel relaxed,” says Frank, who has cut back on her drink¬ing in her late 30s for health reasons. Along with limiting gluten in her diet, she sought to curtail the feeling of melancholy she says would descend on her after drinking several days in a row.

Frank says she drank heavily in college. But many women are starting at ever younger ages. David Jernigan, Ph.D., who has spent much of his career studying youth and alcohol, says that sometime around 2001, the drink of choice for 12th grade girls switched from beer to distilled spirits. “The group that is arguably the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of alcohol is drinking the strongest products,” says Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Jernigan says this shift is at least partly due to product lines and advertising that appeal expressly to young girls. One of these is “alcopops,” alcoholic beverages flavored with fruit juice and other sweet flavors. Jernigan refers to these as entry level alcoholic beverages intended expressly for inexperienced drinkers who don’t like the taste of beer or straight alcohol.

Then there are the ads intended to attract sophisticated female buyers by pushing products like natural beer and vodka, that might indicate physical or environmental health, explains Jernigan. Then there’s the “mom-specific” alcohol push, which includes products like Mad Housewife, a popular, easy-to-drink chardonnay, and an entire line of products called Mommy Juice Wines.

In addition to alcohol products themselves, plenty of ancillary items promote women’s desire to drink. A quick stroll through an airport gift shop and you’ll find items for sale that include wine tumblers in bright colors with the word Swig on them; kitchen towels with the message: Caffeine, carpool, cocktails; and greeting cards that read, “You look like I need a drink.”

To some, like now-sober Cullen, these messages are not funny or enticing. Years ago, she recalls, “I saw a young woman with a travel coffee mug that said, ‘This is probably wine.’ However, it made me desperately sad at the time, because my crappy, nondescript travel coffee mug happened to actually be holding 20 ounces of even crappier wine, as I walked my shaking self to work for the day at 7 a.m.,” she says. “What I was feeling was not a sentiment that anyone would actually want to write on a cutesy coffee mug. The irony was palpable.”

For women like Cullen, who are doing their best to stay sober, our alcohol-centric society poses a challenge. Whether the event is a baby shower, a bachelorette party or a book club meeting, alcohol will prob¬ably be part of the festivities.

“Given how ubiquitous alcohol is in our society, it takes a lot of motivation to try and stay sober, and a community of like-minded individuals to provide the support,” says 34-year-old Nadia Williams, a Baltimore resident and psychotherapist who has worked with addicts in recovery.

Williams, who considers herself a social drinker, has an active group of friends who get together about once a week. Alcohol is usually involved in these social outings, although she and her friends get together to work out, too, and, increasingly, to travel as a group. So while alcohol is often a part of her social fabric, it’s not central to it. Williams says she knows when it’s time to stop. It doesn’t much bother her when others don’t.

“Because it’s legal, people don’t see alcohol as such a problem. But it can be equally devastating when someone dies from alcohol [as from opioids],” says Sapp. The Howard County-based hypnotist points out that while opioid-related deaths have captured widespread attention recently, alcohol abuse and its potentially tragic consequences tend to fly under the radar.

Although men are more than three times as likely as women to die from alcohol-related causes, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), some experts believe that women’s dangerous drinking habits are catching up.
That’s certainly the case among younger drinkers.

“It’s clear in surveys of younger women that they’re pretty well tied with younger men in rates of drinking and binge drinking,” says Mary McCaul, Ph.D., a professor in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “And they’re creeping up in terms of the development of alcohol use disorder.”

But females, who metabolize alcohol differently than men, aren’t built to drink like their male counterparts. “Drink for drink, women get more exposure to alcohol (than men),” McCaul says.

It doesn’t take much alcohol exposure to be harmful. Anything beyond moderate drinking—defined by the NIAAA as more than one drink per day for women—places women at increased risk for liver damage, heart disease and breast cancer. In addition, overconsumption of alcohol increases the risk for accidents, unplanned pregnancies, legal trouble, damage to relationships and a host of other social ills.

For countless women, it all starts with what seems like an innocent pour of wine at the end of the day. But, as McCaul reminds us, “That goblet probably goes up to 10 ounces. You do that every night, and you’re entering into an unsafe level of drinking.”*


Written by admin on . Posted in WHAT'S ON HER MIND

When it comes to aging, Mary Becker wants you to feel at home

Interview BY Martha Thomas      Portrait BY Mary C. Gardella

November/December 2017

As the aging in place manager for the Howard County Office on Aging and Independence, Mary Becker helps to ensure that older adults have access
to the services they need to remain safely in their homes. Becker, who studied psychology in college and has a master’s degree in occupational therapy,serves on the advisory board of Rebuilding Together of Howard County helping low-income homeowners with home repairs and modifications, and developed The Loan Closet of Howard County, which lends medical equipment to those in need.

Q How is the Loan Closet integrated into other services?

When people are aging and something changes, the first stop is the medical system. The medical system is very defined and linear. They tell you what to do, you go to the lab, you get your X-rays, you get your prescriptions. When you get back into the community, you don’t have a system where you walk in and someone says do this, do this, do this. Aging services are very fragmented. Making a transition from medical to community services can be very confusing.

People come to the Loan Closet because they’ve had a change in circumstances or mobility. They’re looking for a piece of durable medical equipment like a wheelchair or a walker or a cane. We might be in a position to refer them to other services.

People have questions about how they are going to get around. We have an education center that can talk about home modifications universal design and provide consultations—onsite or at the Loan Closet so people can remain in the home and in the community.

Q Research has shown that the majority of aging adults want to remain at home.

The AARP numbers are now at about 85 percent. It’s becoming a financial necessity too. The challenge comes when there is some functional change. People have a tendency to adapt to their environments, rather than adapting their environments to them, and they’ll do that until something significant happens—usually there’s an injury, or a disease progresses so they can’t do basic things. My checklist for remaining in the home is: if you can get into and out of your home, use your bathroom, go level to level within your home, and if you have cognitive abilities to manage your medications and respond in an emergencies. But if something happens that impacts one of those things it can be a deciding factor.

Q Aren’t some people thrilled to move into retirement communities?

People say they want to stay in their homes, but they don’t think about how nice it would be to live in a senior apartment complex with people who share interests and provide more social opportunities. Usually they’ll meet a peer and learn of their experience, that they’ve made this move and they’re so happy. Initially, at the pre-contemplation stage, they’ll say I’m going to stay here for life, and then someone asks them if they’ve heard about this senior apartment complex. Then they might visit someone … there are many steps to the process. Our target is helping people at all those stages.

Q How do you deal with isolation?

There are many answers, depending on the client. You need to find out where people are, what their past history is. For some, being alone is what they’ve done all their lives; you don’t want to suddenly expect them to be social. Some people might thrive on all the activities of a 50-plus center, others might need to get connected with Pets on Wheels or another program that can engage with them one-on-one.

Q All the Columbia pioneers who came here in their 20s and 30s as part of this social experiment are now in their 70s and 80s. Does their sense of community mean higher expectations as they age?

In Howard County, we have a highly educated population, higher income and individuals who have higher expectations. I can’t say it has to do with the early adopters of Columbia. You have to remember we’re one of the wealthiest communities in the U.S., and because of this, Howard County brings a variety of services that a lot of counties don’t have.

Q And these services are also available for low income individuals?

If you happen to be low income and aging in Howard County, you’re really lucky. You have to keep in mind that when you’re looking at aging services, you have multiple levels. We’re at a government level and our function is to provide basic services for those who have the greatest need. For higher income it’s more about being a resource for people who can use their means to make decisions for themselves.

Q How did you come to the field of aging services?

It was not by accident. My maternal grandmother lived alone in her home on $350 per month. She didn’t even receive medical care and died in a very sad situation because our family didn’t know what to do. As I went through school and learned about all the services that were available, I became determined that no one would have to experience the end of life like my grandmother. The quality of her life was so poor and could have been so much better, if our family had known about resources available.

Q You sound like the founder of AARP.

The one who found the woman living in the chicken coop. My grandmother literally—and this is a little gross—put her colon back into her body every time she went to the bathroom because she didn’t have the money to get medical care. She didn’t pay her Medicare Part B because she needed the $30 a month for other things. Before she died, she had ulcers on the bottoms of her feet and would stain the floor when she walked.

QHow did you come to be so involved in home modifications?

I lived for a while in a 55-plus community, Snowden Overlook. I was doing intergenerational living with in-laws; my father-in-law was quite ill and I wanted to create a home where we could provide nursing home-style care. I was one of the original residents and insisted on universal design features. I had them install one of the first no-step entries, continuous handrails—all had to be modified from the original plans.

Q Did that help redirect design in the complex?

Builders will do things when people request and pay for them. I managed to get my no-step entry, but the real change for builders comes from licensing and permits. Professionally, I was involved in making sure we put regulations in place.

Q What other regulations might help with aging in place?

The next thing I want to address at a county level is allowing accessory apartments for single-family homes, so you can create another space for adult children or caregivers to live. In some places, zoning doesn’t allow what they call a multi-family dwelling. You couldn’t put in a second kitchen. I ran into this with my own family. If you have a 55-plus home that’s 5,000 square feet, you should be able to adapt it to have family members or a caregiver live there. That solves a couple of problems by also creating affordable housing for caregivers. When you think of the workforce that provides care in the home—our region doesn’t necessarily have housing available for that income level.

Dividing up homes may work for younger families who might not want those huge houses.

Intergenerational living is on the rise, so our housing stock needs to accommodate it. I’m currently living inter-generationally— I’ve been divorced, and I’m now remarried and in the same situation. My in-laws have a home in Florida and they come up here and want to be with their family. They enjoy the hubbub of the family coming and going, so I’m back in the same situation. *


Written by admin on . Posted in Family


Story by Krista Threefoot

November/December 2017

Across cultures and religions, winter is a time for celebrating traditions. It’s a season that creates memories with deep roots, magical memories you want to recreate for your own children. Like wearing pajamas inside out to charm the snow out of the sky, or making marshmallow soup in a steaming mug of hot chocolate, or nestling into the perfect spot on the sofa with a beloved book and a child under each arm.

This last tradition is my most treasured. I love the magic of any good book, but for me picture books—especially those with winter themes—possess a special kind of magic. Through prose and images, we experience the shared emotions that stay within us throughout our lives. The beauty and simplicity of a good picture book allows us parents to connect our childhood selves to the children we now have.

Take Ezra Jack Keats’ “The Snowy Day,” a classic that has charmed families, my own included, for decades. It’s a quiet story about a little boy who wakes up one morning to a city transformed by overnight snow. As he wanders through his neighborhood, he discovers a new world, where mountains grow on the streets and his footprints tell the story of his adventures. Exploring a familiar landscape whose contours have been altered by a thick blanket of white snow is something I delighted in sharing with my daughters.

Andrea Davis Pinkney’s “A Poem for Peter,” is a new family favorite. In a beautifully poetic voice, it tells the story behind the story of “The Snowy Day” and how its main character, Peter, became one of the first African American focal characters in a mainstream picture book. It’s a biography, but also a love poem for the enchantment of a snowy day:

“Snow made opportunity and equality seem right around the corner. Because, you see, Snow is nature’s we-all blanket.
When Snow spreads her sheet, we all glisten. When Snow paints the streets, we all see her beauty.”
“Snowmen at Night” is a more recent classic, which became part of my winter book collection when my oldest daughter was in kindergarten. The premise of this story is a question: What exactly do snowmen get up to at nighttime?

“One wintry day I made a snowman, very round and tall. The next day when I saw him, he was not the same at all!
His hat had slipped, his arms drooped down, he really looked a fright! It made me start to wonder: What do snowmen do at night?”

The answer is an imaginative journey replete with snowman shenanigans. My favorite part about this book is that it allows our family to explore the question together—maybe snowmen fly to Egypt at night or to the moon? Maybe they play Go Fish or poker? Roast marshmallows by a campfire?

And then there is Jane Yolen’s “Owl Moon,” which is my all-time favorite winter picture book.

It tells the unique story of a young girl’s first experience of a cherished family tradition: searching for owls under a full winter moon.

The writing and illustrations are gor¬geous, but I think the best part of this book is the quiet, wordless bond between a girl and her father:
“When you go owling, you don’t need words or warm or anything but hope. That’s what Pa says. The kind of hope that flies on silent wings under a shining Owl Moon.”

All these books, along with many more winter holiday classics, can be found in the Howard County Library System. With the days growing colder and shorter, winter is the perfect time to begin your own family reading tradition. We all know it’s good for kids when their parents read to them, but it’s also good for us as parents. Reading together gives us a chance to enter our children’s’ worlds, where life and its stories are still new.*


Written by admin on . Posted in Shopping

Root Studio offers a space for collaboration and inspiration

Text BY Martha Thomas      PHOTOGRAPHY BY Mary C. Gardella

November/December 2017

Karen Isailovic paints large, expressive canvasses in an airy studio at Root Studio, the maker space she opened in Columbia.

Recently, she sat down at a computer in the adjacent music lab and started messing around with composition programs. “I never realized I had that kind of interest in music,” Isailovic says.

Isailovic hopes fellow artists at Root Studio will be likewise inspired. “I see our goal as cross pollination, cross encouragement,” she says.

She took over the 5,700-square-foot space in 2016 and has furnished it with a media lab, an area for painting, a photography studio with professional lights and a seam¬less backdrop (“where people can photograph their products for eBay and Etsy,” she says), and a small library stocked with art books. There’s a writer’s room furnished like a 1930s Hollywood bungalow, complete with a vintage typewriter; and a professional sound studio run by Mark Moreau, a sound engineer. Recently, Dianne Connelly, founder of Tai Sophia (now Maryland University of Integrative Health), recorded her book, “Medicine Words” in the room, draped with sound-muffling quilts.

Isailovic, who dropped out of UMBC and started a general contracting company when she was 19 years old, also hopes to draw young people into the creative process. “When I was in high school, I was lost, so I understand.” The mother of two teenagers, she has observed the challenges today’s young people face. “I’d hear through my daughters about their friends’ stress and anxiety,” she says. “I wanted to offer a place where people can express themselves without structure or judgment.”

Over the summer, Root Studio held a two-week residency with textile artist Julia Kwon. “The theme was women and independence,” Isailovic says. “We discussed making money, seeking out artists residencies and professional development.” But the retreat also provided space for participants to work on their art. Root Studio, says Isailovic, “is all about the process. It’s about bringing the creator out in each of us.”


• Glazed, non-porous white ceramic tile
• Plastic drop cloth
• Alcohol inks (range of colors)
• Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
• Felt pads (if tiles will be used as drink coasters/trivets)
• Paint brushes, small various shapes (round, flat, liner) and sizes
• Straws, various sizes (coffee stirrers, drinking straws)
• Spray sealer or resin (your choice)
Step 1 Start with clean, white tiles—preferably up-cycled from a source like Community Forklift in Hyattsville ( Clean tiles with rubbing alcohol and a lint-free cloth to remove dust.
Step 2 Pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol on the tile, and coat the surface by tilting in all directions.
Step 3 Start by dripping small amounts of alcohol ink of various colors onto the surface. The ink will blossom and spread. Play with tilting the tile, or blowing gently with a straw to direct the ink. Use a brush or a cotton swab to manipulate the ink colors into designs. Note: The alcohol dries quickly, so work fast. You can remoisten the tile by spraying it with small amounts of alcohol, but this may interfere with your original design pattern.
Step 4 If you don’t like what you see, wipe the tile clean with alcohol and start over.
Step 5 Like your design? Let it dry (24 hours recommended) and seal with a spray shellac or resin.
Step 6 Back coasters by gluing felt to the bottom.





• 2 Plastic drop cloths (Trust us, you will thank us!)
• Cotton yarn
• Glue (good old fashioned Elmer’s)
• Balloons (blown up to the size of your choice)
• Hanging light fixture socket (Home Depot, Ikea, Upcycle)
• Light bulb
• Bucket or bin
• Sharpie marker
• Clothesline for hanging wet balloons (This can be string.)
• Clothes pins or binder clips to hang lamp for drying
• Needle or push pin to puncture balloon once lampshade is dry
Prep Set up a drying line with string and push pins. Be sure that you set it up in an out-of-the-way place, as the lampshades will need to dry for a couple of days. Place a drop cloth beneath to catch drips. Spread the other drop cloth on your work surface.
Step 1 Inflate balloon to the size lamp you desire.
Step 2 Fill a plastic bin about halfway up with a 50/50 solution of glue and water and mix thoroughly.
Step 3 Place string in the glue concoction, making sure it is fully submerged.
Step 4 Use a sharpie marker to draw a circle around the bottom (knot end) of the inflated balloon. This will be the opening for the hanging lamp hardware. Draw a second circle on the top of the balloon large enough to fit your hand in so that you can screw in the light bulb. Make sure that you do not place string within these areas.
Step 5 Begin wrapping the string around the balloon. Start by making a firm base for the fixture hardware by wrapping several layers along the bottom. Continue to wrap the wet string, working your way to the top, and repeat multiple loops around the bulb opening to make a firm rim. You can make your lamp as light or as dense as you wish, crisscrossing the string in different directions. When you are satisfied, cut the string and hide the end. Brush or sponge an extra layer of glue around the top and bottom rings to strengthen.
Step 6 Hang balloon to dry for about two days.
Step 7 Once the string is thoroughly dry, pop the balloon and gently push and peel it away from the string. The hardened string may crumble around the edges; don’t worry, as long as it doesn’t break. Take your time to ensure the overall shape remains intact.
Step 8 Attach the light fixture socket and insert bulb. Plug in and enjoy! *


Written by admin on . Posted in Business, Food

Two local shops cook up delicious gift ideas

STORY BY Emily Johnson      PHOTOGRAPHY BY Robin Shotola

November/December 2017

My grandmother has clear preferences when it comes to gifts: “If I can’t eat it or wear it, I don’t want it.”

Edible treats appeal to both the giver and the recipient. On the giving side, we can feel assured that our offering will be enjoyed. For the giftee, there’s nothing left behind to clutter up your home. A box of chocolate or a family friendly tin of gourmet popcorn will disappear in a blink.

If there’s a sweet tooth on your shopping list this season, look no further than the entrepreneurs on Main Street in Ellicott City.

Sweet Cascades Chocolatier has been shelling out delicious treats in historic Ellicott City since 2005. Owner Sue Whary started her business as a caterer, providing indulgent chocolate fountains for special events—the origin of the name Sweet Cascades. When she found a shop for lease on Main Street, however, she and her husband, Rick, began making handcrafted chocolates like truffles, caramels, peanut butter cups and more.

The shop is small and cozy, with décor that features muted colors that don’t dis¬tract from the merchandise. A massive glass case in the center of the narrow shop displays all manner of enticing chocolates, across from tables piled with colorful, giftwrapped treats. A handful of tables on a porch tucked in the back overlook the river winding between buildings.

Whary started her chocolate fountain business as an alternative to the desk job she held. “I felt stuck,” she admits. Boredom soon sparked creativity and a desire to do something exciting—each catering event introduced Whary to new people and new places.

Soon, the catering gigs led to candy making. She taught herself to make truffles, peanut butter cups and malted milk balls. The Sweet Cascades offerings are decorated with chocolate swirls and scalloped edges; while consistent they aren’t so uniform that they look factory-made.

Whary seems to enjoy dipping things in chocolate. If you bring in a bottle of wine, she’ll coat the whole thing in molten sweet-ness. When it’s time to consume the extravagant treat, pull on an embedded ribbon to disrobe the bottle. The chocolate-dipped wine, says Whary, is a holiday favorite. Has there ever been a more unusual and delectable pairing of wine and chocolate?

Other holiday themed treats include Santas and Christmas trees, as well as custom Hannukah pieces, anywhere from menorahs to dreidels.

After the flood that swept through Ellicott City in July 2016, Whary found a kitchen space in Savage Mill where she already operated a second shop. She moved back into her Main Street space in February 2017. She’s happy to be back, she says. “There’s no place like Main Street.”

Her next goal is to expand into the building adjacent to her Ellicott City shop, adding an ice cream parlor on the ground floor and using the second floor space to host chocolate workshops. As for the third floor? “I’m bringing in my disco ball,” she says with a grin. Indeed, she owns a disco ball and plans to have it up and running for Midnight Madness.

The disco ball would fit nicely less than a block down Main Street at E.C. Pops. Classic ’50s rock blasts from the building throughout the day, morphing into’80s dance tracks at night. E.C. Pops stays open until 10 p. m. most nights, doing a brisk business in sweet coated popcorn, fudge and other treats.

The decision to keep late hours was a no-brainer, says owner Lance Sovine. The festive store with its blaring music attracts after-hours browsers from Main Street’s bars and restaurants, some drawn to the tunes, others with a craving for something sweet. “The party never ends here,” Sovine laughs.

Sovine discovered Ellicott City’s Main Street after he moved to Maryland with his partner, who was transferred here by Walmart. Once he saw the way the community came together after the 2016 flood, Sovine decided to quit his job (also at Walmart) and open a small business. “Everyone—from the businesses to the customers—supported each other so fiercely,” he says. E.C. Pops moved into its space as many other businesses were finishing renovations. “I said, ‘I want to be part of a community.’”

Inside the shop, a wall of popcorn competes for attention with brightly colored treats and toys. Virginia Atkins stands behind the counter in a cherry-printed vintage dress.

Sovine and Atkins have been friends since they both worked for Walmart in Connecticut. Atkins had retired and moved to Texas, but Sovine knew she’d want to be part of the popcorn shop. “She doesn’t like to sit still,” he says. Talking her into joining him in the venture was easy, Sovine says. “She’s like family. Plus, we’re both crazy, so we make a great team.”

Atkins, who favors bright vintage dresses and upswept hair, makes the 55 flavors of popcorn, from basics like butter and caramel to such offbeat concoctions as dill pickle and loaded baked potato. She also makes all the fudge for the shop, from classic chocolate to pink strawberry and mint. Along with fudge and popcorn, E.C. Pops is stocked with craft sodas and homemade jam.

Sovine says he looks for female vendors and purveyors to stock the EC Pops gift shop. His commitment to empowering women dates to his own childhood. “My mother was physically abused for years,” he says. “I don’t want any woman to be a victim.”

A lot of the products come from tiny startups, he says, pointing to the hand-painted glassware. “That company was started by two women at their kitchen table to make extra money. Now it’s a big company with employees.” As a manager at Walmart in Connecticut, Sovine says, he had many female employees in bad relationships. “I’d do what I could to help them get out of abusive situations. I remember paying out of my pocket for hotel rooms,” he says.

E.C. Pops also raises money for local causes like Blossoms of Hope (see sidebar). It may be the season for gift-giving, but Sovine’s charitable spirit is a year-round thing.

Each year on the first Friday of December, Main Street vendors stay open late for the annual Midnight Madness celebration. (This year, the event will be held on Friday, December 1.) Sweet Cascades, E.C. Pops and other Ellicott City businesses will ring in the holiday season with plenty of sweet gift ideas.*

Bills for Hope

Before he opened the doors of E.C. Pops, Lance Sovine stapled a dollar bill to the shop’s freshly painted ceiling. “I wanted to remind myself to pick a local charity to support,” says Sovine, a former Walmart manager who owns the popcorn and candy shop on Main Street in Ellicott City. When the shop opened in April, the bill remained, catching the attention of customers.

Sovine, who had decided to support Blossoms of Hope, the organization that funds breast cancer support services, decided to leave the dollar in place, and customers began donating their own bills to the cause. Today, the ceiling of the lively shop is plastered with currency, which will be taken down and counted on New Year’s Day, says Sovine. “We’re planning a celebration and presentation.”

In December, the E.C. Pops Facebook page will seek input on a charity for 2018, and as of January 1, the bill collection will start all over again. “Each night, part of closing is pulling out the ladder and stapling dollar—or five dollar—bills to the ceiling,” says Sovine.

For 2018, customers may choose another charity, or may remain with Blossoms of Hope. One way or the other, Sovine intends to continue his relationship with the organization, which plants cherry trees and raises money for the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center at Howard County General Hospital. Last year, E.C. Pops contributed 500 bags of pink popcorn to the annual Pretty in Pink luncheon.

– Martha Thomas


Written by admin on . Posted in Health and Wellness


STORY BY Molly Fellin Spence      PHOTOGRAPHY BY Robin Shotola

November/December 2017

Sana Waheed is all about the social aspect of exercising.

“For me, the best way to end a long workday is to meet up with my favorite running partners and chit-chat the miles away while we sweat,” said Waheed, 28, of Columbia.

While earning her master’s degree, Waheed also works full time and runs a photography business. So, fitting regular exercise into her schedule can be a challenge, as is finding the motivation to move instead of relax at the end of a long day.

“If I have plans to meet my running group or my trainer I am more likely and more motivated to get my workout in,” she says.

Another motivator for Waheed? Social media and workout apps. Waheed uses Instagram and apps like Run¬keeper and Sweat to gain inspiration and support, as well as to track her progress. She also frequently logs in to the PureBarre app to easily sign up for a barre fitness class when she’s on the run—literally or figuratively.

“I don’t have time at work to log on to a website to sign up for classes, so apps make it easy to get in a class, track my miles or get workout inspiration,” she says.

The apps also reinforce her efforts when she isn’t working out. “I love looking at how many miles I have run during the week and I am always encouraged when I see that I have set a new personal record.”

Waheed says that technology and social media have allowed her to connect with like-minded people to share her health and fitness journey. She tracks that progress on her blog,, and via Instagram (@thesupersana). Scrolling through others’ posts on Instagram inspires Waheed, and she says it makes her feel like she can achieve her goals, too. “When you surround yourself with hard working, passionate and healthy individuals you are more likely to live that lifestyle,” she says.

Most fitness enthusiasts and per¬sonal trainers embrace the benefits of using apps and social support to achieve fitness and wellness goals. Low physical activity leads to chronic disease, weight gain and all sorts of health problems as we age. The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s (ODPHP) Phys¬ical Activity Guidelines for Americans state that an active lifestyle can lower your risk of early death as well as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cancer and depression. And, being physically active can help you sleep better, too.

Though we know exercise and eating right can lead to weight loss and better health, getting started on the path to wellness can be daunting. Enter tech¬nology. According to the Pew Research Center, about 90 percent of Americans currently have access to the Internet, and nearly 75 percent of us own a smartphone. With these tools, it’s now easier than ever to get information, track progress and share results to help keep us accountable to our fitness and health goals. In short, if you want to get healthy and remain so, there’s an app for that.

In fact, there are about 100,000 apps for that. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, literally thousands of apps are available for free or low cost and are regularly downloaded to help smartphone users with health-related goals.

Stephanie Dignan, a personal trainer in Columbia, agrees that account¬ability and inspiration via apps and social media can lead to motivation for herself and her clients. Dignan teaches fitness classes in the Glen¬wood, Columbia and Clarksville areas through her business The Bootcamp Girl, which has existed for nine years.

A certified personal trainer, a group exercise instructor, a certified body flow instructor, a certified yoga instructor and a certified Tabata Boot Camp instructor, Dignan grew up in western Howard County where she was active as a child in gymnastics, cheerleading, swimming and diving at Glenelg High School. Dignan knows that an active lifestyle is important and encourages her clients to focus on sustainable changes to achieve their goals.

“We focus on the results, not just the workout,” Dignan said. “Helping people maintain the results for a lifetime is our goal.”
Technology, including smartphone apps, has helped many of Dignan’s clients track their progress and stay accountable. She encourages using the MyFitnessPal app to record daily food intake. Her clients can add her as a friend on the app so she can see what they are eating and offer feedback.

In poor weather or when traveling, fitness clients also use Skype on their phones or laptops to attend classes virtually and check in with trainers. “Any way that apps can lead to more accountability is where they help,” she said. Apps, she says, “have always been a positive for us.”

For some, though, apps may be less helpful. Kim Farrell, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor in Clarksville, says she has a different mindset when it comes to apps and tracking. Initially, she says she felt that using apps like MyFitnessPal, which help users track activities and food intake were helpful. However, she says, they may not create sustainable change. “For the long haul, I feel that it’s more about creating new habits and chang¬ing your mindset,” Farrell says. “There may be apps for that, but I haven’t found any that stand out.”

Instead of apps, Farrell focuses on teaching clients new habits through education and seminars to supplement their fitness classes. Through her own weight loss journey Farrell learned a lot about herself and how to change bad habits into good habits for life, which is the driving force behind her overall fitness philosophy.

There is limited evidence available to show whether apps can ultimately lead to positive, long-term fitness changes. A study published in the July 2015 edition of the “Journal of Medical Internet Research” stated that despite the ubiquitous number of apps avail¬able to track and facilitate physical activity, no systematic assessments have been performed to evaluate whether these apps are of high quality and produce results using sound fitness principles and scientific evidence.

The study reviewed a set of 30 popular mobile apps related to physical activ¬ity on an iPhone and compared content against the current guidelines and fitness principles established by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). A scoring method weighed the quality of content for aerobic, resistance and flexibility components of the fitness coaching apps.

Very few apps, the study found, use evidence-based methods or respect the guidelines for aerobic activity, strength/resistance training and flexibility set forth by the ACSM. And, ultimately, researchers advised caution when adopting a new app for physical activity purposes.

Even so, exercise and fitness apps are in their earliest stages. If they help give you a kick in the butt, they may prove worthwhile.*


Written by admin on . Posted in Business, Home and Garden


STORY BY Rebecca Kirkman      PHOTOGRAPHY BY Mary C. Gardella

November/December 2017

Lena Munther never does the same thing twice. The Swedish interior architect based in Howard County says, “Even when a client comes to me and says they would love something similar to my previous work, I always try to make it custom, so each client gets their own feel and their own touch.”

This custom approach won Munther the attention of restaurateur Steve Wecker, who hired Munther for his long-awaited project at One Merriweather. Cured, a farm-to-table restaurant, and Eighteenth & Twenty First, a speakeasy, are slated to open in January.

Since establishing her Maryland firm in 2003, Munther has grown to a team of three, all women, and completed ground¬breaking local projects including FX Studios Salon & Spa in Hunt Valley and the Creig Northrop Team offices in Clarksville.

From a desk in the office—a remodeled garage adjacent to her Highland home, a space flooded with natural light from windows on three sides—Munther gestures toward two concept boards loaded with material swatches.

On one, concrete with a matte, leather-like finish; a scrap of copper metal; and a photo of factory-style windows show the hip and industrial vibe planned for Cured, a toe-to-tail butchery focusing on Old World methods and forgotten cuts. The design will incorporate rustic materials, including wood milled from trees that once grew on the site. “It’s a combination of modern touches with classic, old-style finishes,” explains Wecker, owner of Columbia’s Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Past Cured’s custom-designed wine cellar made of factory-style glass, a hallway leads to the jazz speakeasy, Eighteenth & Twenty First. Its inspiration board channels the Roaring ’20s through sumptuous textiles, and deeper colors and textures. “You can just see, looking at the colors and heavier materials, that it’s richer and darker,” says Munther. “It’s the old Gatsby style, but it’s done in a functional, more contemporary way.”

The two restaurants, each unique in design and price point but sharing a kitchen, grew from the expansive space available on the ground level of One Merriweather, a 208,000-square-foot building anchored by MedStar. At the corner of Broken Land and Little Patuxent parkways, it’s part of the larger Merriweather District, an urban downtown development by Howard Hughes Corp., which is leading a $2.3 billion revitalization of downtown Columbia.

“I didn’t want a flat-out restaurant designer, because what I’ve discovered with some of those designers is they all kind of look the same, and I didn’t want the same,” says Wecker, whose business cards read “Idea guy.” He continues, “I wanted someone who would take our thoughts, our input, and incorporate it into the design—somebody I could work with closely.”

More than seven years in the making, the restaurant and speakeasy will bring a unique experience to Howard County diners and denizens of nightlife. “We’re trying to do some things that haven’t been seen locally,” says Wecker.

With a background ranging from luxury cruise ships to state-of-the-art veterinary hospitals and homes built from the ground up, Munther’s designs are anything but cookie-cutter.

Born in Sweden, the designer has been putting pencil to paper since she was 6 years old. “It was just natural to me to always draw on something,” she recalls. After graduating from London’s Chelsea School of Art and Design in 1984, Munther worked on cruise ship designs for Cunard Cruise Lines among others with an architecture firm in Oslo, Norway.

There, she learned to design amid the industry’s technical limitations—think confined spaces, no right angles and limited natural light. The training, she says, has endured throughout her career. “I thrive on challenges. I like when it gets a little tricky and I have to figure something out,” Munther says.

By avoiding pigeon-holing herself into any subspecialties in the industry, Munther is able to approach each project with a fresh perspective—although, she says with a smile, word-of-mouth has resulted in a growing number of veterinary-focused projects since she completed the Veterinary Orthopedic Sports Medicine Group facility in 2009.

She prides herself on listening to her clients. “It’s not about me, it’s not about my designs,” she explains. “The design is an extension of the client. It’s really their custom project that I put my spin on.”

Munther’s holistic approach and ability to translate a corporate brand into a physical space won over companies like Levi Strauss, one of her first clients after launching her own firm in Norway in the 1990s. The relationship lasted half a decade, encompassing the brand’s Nordic headquarters and several retail stores. She has continued to work on commercial projects.

Sometimes, though, a commercial relationship becomes more personal. Several clients have come back to Munther for help on residential projects, from kitchen remodels to the construction of a custom designed home. “We’ve already built a relationship,” explains Munther. “There’s a comfort there, and you can speak openly and honestly.”

Drs. Sherman and Debra Canapp, for example, worked with Munther to trans¬form a 16,000-square-foot warehouse in Annapolis Junction into Veterinary Orthopedic Sports Medicine Group. Lacking the sterile, impersonal ambience of a typical hospital, the facility’s warm design focuses on comfort and function with a contemporary feel. It won an award for veterinary design in 2010, and gave rise to a string of veterinary- and healthcare-focused projects for Munther Design.

Wanting to move closer to their new facility, the Canapps returned to Munther for help designing and constructing their 12,000-square-foot “Medieval meets modern” home, completed in 2015. A grand staircase anchors the large, open living space with double-high ceilings. Polished and stained concrete floors with wood inlays echo beams on the ceiling, while a custom-designed iron chandelier grounds a regal-yet-intimate seating area in front of a stone fireplace surround.

“They are very well traveled and have an eclectic, fun style,” says Munther. The couple brought ideas from abroad and asked the designer to incorporate them in the home design.

Whether commercial or residential, the Munther Design process involves bringing many ideas together into a cohesive concept. “Lena’s been a terrific partner,” says Wecker. “She’s overseeing the whole project, keeping everybody on pace—plus she’s incredibly organized and a ton of fun.”*.



When it comes to the home, how can I determine my personal style?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you see something that catches your eye. Interview yourself and say what do I like? What do I tend to come back to? If you follow that, you will develop a personal style and a baseline. Then, stay true to your baseline. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but maybe do it in a subtle way so you can live with it longer.  Otherwise, you’re led by what you see out in the marketplace.

What about designing space for entertaining?

I love having people around me, and we always open up our house to guests. I recommend an open practical area with materials that can take abuse. This will help relieve the host from running around protecting their home during gatherings. You can always make things pretty, but first think about whether they are practical. Another consideration is the ability to seal off floors and rooms, especially if you have family members who need to go to bed or get up before the party starts or ends. Many people like to have private and public spaces.