February 28, 2012

A Visit by Lee Harper, Author and Illustrator of "Snow! Snow! Snow!"

Snow! Snow! Snow! That is the book that award winning author/illustrator, Lee Harper, read Saturday morning to all those gathered in the children's department of the Pottstown Regional Public Library.  Mr. Harper spoke to the group about how he loved to draw from an early age, and the inspiration provided by Chuck Jones, illustrator of The Grinch and Bugs Bunny.  These days his inspiration comes from everyday life, whether it be his four sledding children or something as simple as a trip to a fair.  His presentation included an interactive drawing demonstration where he, step-by-step, sketched a dog and a turkey while those attending followed along with paper and crayons provided.  

Mr. Harper has five published books (all available by clicking HERE), and his sixth, Turkey Claus, is due out this fall. 

Pottsgrove High School's National Honor Society held a book drive in December where they collected over 2,000 used books for the Friends of the Library book sales.  Thank you, Pottsgrove NHS!   More on this wonderful community service project at a later date.  

The Friends hold five HUGE Back Door Book Sales a year and operate the Book Nook store where used books are sold daily during regular library hours.  The Friends raised over $10,000 in 2011 to help our library. 

(thousands of books for adults and children)
  • Friday, March 16, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 17, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Friday, May 18, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 19, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
We are collecting Redner's grocery store receipts.  Please save them and drop them off the next time you visit the library. 

For information on joining 
The Friends of the Library, call:  

Don't miss out on the next exciting event at the library.  Click HERE to view the calendar of upcoming events.  Once you are on the site, choose Pottstown Public Library from the drop-down menu.  See the example to the right. ------------->

When asked to bring snacks for the big day, I knew that cookies and brownies just wouldn't do.  I expanded on my crayon fish party favors that I wrote about HERE, and created Goldfish cracker treats.  They were a big hit!  To view oodles of super duper cool stuff I have made, click HERE.

What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. Thank you, Pottstown Regional Public Library!


© 2012 All products, photography, graphics, text and copy are the property of Ivy Lane Designs, LLC.

February 25, 2012

Under the Sea Fish Crayon Party Favors

YOU ARE O'FISH-ALLY WONDERFUL! That is the message that party goers will receive with these super cute (and unique) Under the Sea Fish Crayon Party Favors, found HERE at Ivy Lane Designs.

I added two fish crayons to each cellophane bag, along with a hand cut fishbowl coloring card, and closed each bag with a silver twist tie.  Too cute!

To check out all of the under the sea-related crayons available at Ivy Lane Designs, click HERE:  


© 2012 All products, photography, graphics, text and copy are the property of Ivy Lane Designs, LLC.

February 22, 2012

For the Love of Ombré

Ombré:  Shaded or graduated in tone: said of a color.

The way a single color moves gradually from light to dark is beautiful.  I think the ombré love seed was planted while I was watching Project Runway (Team Mondo!).  I had seen it before but watching the contestants dip-dye made me a bit giddy.  I am so happy to see that lovely ombré has made a successful comeback.

DIY Pink Ombré Cake | Eddie Ross

 Seafoam Green Ombré Dresser | Organized Design

Blue Ombré Manicure | All Laquered Up

 Ombré Paint Chip Lampshade | The CSI Project

  Blue Ruffle Ombré Macarons | Bubble and Sweet

Ombré Wine Cork Heart | Lovely Morning

DIY Ombré Onesie | V and Co.


February 21, 2012

Best Berry Smoothie Recipe

A few of my New Year's resolutions included eating breakfast daily (I was a habitual skipper) and losing weight.  A friend had seen Alton Brown, of Food Network fame, talk about his Food Lists for Weight Loss on the Dr. Oz Show (thanks, Linda).  I gave Alton's show appearance a google and came up with four lists:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Nuts
  • Carrots
  • Green tea
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Yogurt
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potato
  • Avocado
  • Oily fish
  • Tofu
  • Red meat
  • White starch
  • Desserts
  • Alcohol
  • Soda
  • Processed meals
  • Canned soups
  • “Diet” anything
Of the six foods to eat on a daily basis, I could knock three out by whipping them up in a blender:  nuts, whole grains and fruits.  Oh, I should add that Alton lost 50 lbs. following this diet.  Pretty darn impressive!

After a wee bit of trial and error, I came up with the perfect smoothie recipe that I now enjoy most every morning.


  • 2 handfuls of frozen berries (I buy the big bag at Costco)
  • 1 carton of Greek yogurt - I like the honey flavor, but you can use plain and add a squeeze or two from the honey bear
  • 6 roasted almonds (you can buy them raw and bake on a cookie sheet at 350° for 10-12 minutes)
  • 1 handful of uncooked oatmeal
  • 1 splash of light vanilla soy milk (you can use cow's milk.  Personal preference).

Add all ingredients to the blender and liquefy.  Try it.  It's super yummy!  I feel the lbs. dropping off. ;)

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! 


February 20, 2012

Shepherd's Pie for 100

In 2010, one in seven families was food insecure, the highest number ever recorded in the United States.  In Pottstown, Pennsylvania, volunteers gather five days a week to serve free, hot meals to those in need.  This is just one of the wonderful programs provided by the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities

Although I have helped for the past year, this was my first time preparing the meal.  Ground beef, veggies and potatoes were available so I knew right away that I was going to make shepherd's pie, a first for me.

With help from my wonderful husband (), we browned the ground beef, added chopped onions and made gravy using Better Than Bouillon (magical stuff - I bought it at Costco - try it, really). We then mixed the meat, veggies and gravy together, and divided it between two ginormous pans.  Then it was time to top both pans with mashed potatoes, and VOILA!  Shepherd's pie.  Oh, and I find that writing the oven temperature and internal cooking temperature on my hand with a Sharpie to be most helpful. ;)


Makes two 20¾” x 12¾” x 4” pans

20 lbs. ground beef, no more than 24% fat
3 lbs. onions, diced
13 lbs. canned mixed vegetables, drained and rinsed
16 cups water, divided
1 cup Better Than Bouillon
1 ¾ cups cornstarch
1 ½ Tbsp. dried thyme
1 ½ Tbsp. onion salt
1 ½ Tbsp. ground black better
1 ½ Tbsp. salt
Potato topping:
6 cups margarine
56 cups water
26 cups milk
7 lbs. instant mashed potatoes (we used 8 boxes that were 13.75 oz. each)

  • Brown ground beef in large skillet (we had to cook it in four different batches using a 14” nonstick skillet.  Add onions to ground beef during the last five minutes of cooking.  Drain fat and discard. 
  • Drain and rinse canned mixed vegetables.  Combine half of the meat and veggies in one huge bowl, and the other half of the meat and veggies in a second huge bowl.  (*we didn’t have a bowl that was large enough to accommodate everything, which is why we divided it) 
  • Bring 14 cups water to a boil.  Add Better Than Boullion.  Stir.  Combine cornstarch with remaining 2 cups cold water in a bowl.  Slowly add cornstarch mixture to beef stock, stirring constantly.  Reheat to a boil. 
  • Add thyme, onion salt, black pepper and salt to cornstarch gravy.
  • Add half the gravy to the first bowl of meat/veggies, and the other half to the second meat/veggie bowl.  Mix well.
  • Spread meat/veggie/gravy mixture into two 20¾” x 12¾” x 4” pans aluminum pans.
  • Prepare instant mashed potatoes according to the directions on the box.  We made two 13.75 oz. boxes at a time (4 boxes to a pan).  Spread half of the mashed potatoes over the ground beef mixture in each pan.

We made the meat/veggie/gravy mixture the day before and refrigerated both pans.  On the morning of the Community Meal, we whipped up the potatoes.

Place each pan on a large baking sheet for support.  Cook covered with aluminum foil at 450° for 2 hours, removing foil last 30 minutes so that potatoes will brown.

The shepherd's pie was a huge success!  We started with approximately 50 lbs. and there were no leftovers.   

Feeding those in need would not be possible without the help of volunteers. 

Because it is the Presidents' Day holiday, we had many teen volunteers.  I would especially like to thank the students from Pottsgrove High School who spent their day off from school rolling silverware, pouring drinks, serving food, making coffee and tea, helping children and the disabled carry their trays through the line and cleaning tables following the meal.  Today's volunteers included members of the Key Club and the Girl Scouts, as well as parishioners of Christ Episcopal Church.  Thank you BIG TIME! 

Big thanks go to Christ Episcopal Church for so generously allowing us to use their space every Monday to serve hot meals to those in need.  Christ Episcopal also hosted the homeless every night, overnight, for the months of November and December of 2011.  Wow! 

No one should go hungry.  Period.  YOU CAN HELP!  In the Pottstown area, the Cluster needs you.  Click HERE for information on how you can sign up to help those in need.


© 2012 All photography, graphics, text and copy are the property of Ivy Lane Designs, LLC. 

February 19, 2012

We Have a Winner!

All of the names of those who entered our Ivy Lane Designs Facebook contest to win a free set of dinosaur recycled crayons went in a hat and WE HAVE A WINNER! Congratulations to Donna D. (and her son, Max)!  Many thanks to all who entered.

Hello, and Welcome!

Hello, and welcome!  My name is Merrill and I'm an East Coast girl bent on bringing more beauty and happiness into our daily lives, in a way that helps the planet. Ivy Lane Designs is my imaginative outlet. When I'm not crafting using recyclables, I'm busy raising my two kids and making a home in the pretty Pennsylvania countryside near Philadelphia.