Briefs: Lawrenceville cookie tour begins Thursday |

Briefs: Lawrenceville cookie tour begins Thursday

Lawrenceville merchants will serve up tasty samples of cookies during the 11th annual Joy of Cookies Cookie Tour from Thursday through Sunday at participating stores along Butler Street, Penn Avenue, 43rd, 44th and Hatfield streets.

Merchants invite visitors to experience the many fabulous, independently owned shops, galleries, and boutiques that offer a range of eclectic and handcrafted treasures perfect for gift giving. While shopping, visitors can nibble on samples of home-baked cookies at 21 different shops and take home free recipes.

On Saturday, visitors can catch a trolley cruising the neighborhood from 34th to 55th Streets and side streets in between. Also on Saturday, visitors can attend a Cookie Mall bake sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Teamsters Temple, 47th and Butler streets. The bake sale, organized by the Lawrenceville Rotary, will benefit local community groups. A map with participating businesses and “Take-A-Break” stops can be downloaded at

Habitat celebrates award

Habitat restaurant, in Fairmont Pittsburgh, 510 Market St., Downtown, is celebrating the hotel’s recently awarded AAA Four Diamond Award by offering its signature Habitat Burger — executive chef Andrew Morrison’s sophisticated spin on a classic hamburger — for just $4 during lunch through Dec. 31. Along with the burger, guests can choose from a side of soup, french fries, mixed greens or sweet potato fries.

Details: 412-773-8848.

Holiday open house advice

As the entertaining season progresses, consider these tips:

• Prepare most of the food ahead of time. Refrigerate until needed.

• Arrange risers under the tablecloth to elevate some of the serving dishes and add dimension. Use items you already own, such as pots, bowls or milk crates turned upside down.

• For added color and texture, drape a variety of fabrics over the risers.

• An open house can last for hours. Put out small amounts of food at a time, and freshen the table when needed.

• Enjoy your own party. Consider hiring a friend or acquaintance to keep your table stocked.

• Keep your guests mingling and moving. Standing cocktail tables are a good idea. Consider placing the desserts in another room.

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