September 29, 2012

Tailgating, Indian Food and Celtic Fest

Fall has officially arrived and with it brings football, tailgate parties and Parents' Weekend!  Go Lehigh!  

It was great spending time with Lauren and her Honors Fraternity friends.

We enjoyed lunch at a local Indian buffet where we had bhojia, samosas, basmati rice, chana masala, aloo gobi, tikka masala and more.  Yum!

After lunch, we decided to walk off some calories at Celtic Fest.  Lauren met a little wheaten terrier named Bear and they immediately hit it off.  I asked Justin if we were to get a dog what would he want the name to be.  His reply, "Cuddle."

It was a great way to bring in the fall season, with family, food and fun.  My favorites!


September 26, 2012

Shine On, Harvest Moon: 2012 Pottstown Cluster Fundraising Dinner

Here is a wonderful opportunity to help the homeless and the hungry in the Pottstown community.  On Friday, October 12, 2012, the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities will hold a fundraising dinner, complete with delicious food by Bause Catering, musical entertainment and a silent auction, at the Berean Bible Church at 2675 East High Street.  To register, click HERE.

If you follow my blog, you know that I believe the Cluster to be a worthwhile cause, and that I cook Community Meals for those in need.  In addition to providing hot meals to the hungry in the Pottstown community, the Cluster also distributes groceries through its Food PantryIn 2011, the Food Pantry provided approximately 550,000 pounds of food (about the weight of two Boeing 747s!) to more than 16,000 individuals, a 34% increase since 2010.  Wow! 

If you are unable to attend the dinner on October 12, then please consider making a donation online.  Or, send a check to: 
Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities, 57 North Franklin Street, Pottstown, PA 19464.  For questions, call:  (610) 970-5995Your act of kindness will help feed hungry children and adults in the Pottstown Community.  Thank you!

Here are photos from last year's extravaganza.

Thank you!


September 24, 2012

Meatless Monday: Avocado Pesto Pasta

My family is working towards a healthier lifestyle.  My beloved's total weight loss to date:  30 lbs.  Wow!  HERE is what got him started.  I have been auditioning new healthy dishes that don't sacrifice taste and found success with this avocado pesto pasta.  Delicious!  It's rich and creamy and the cheese isn't missed at all.  And, it's super kid friendly.


1 lb. of your favorite pasta (I used brown rice penne)
1 bunch of fresh basil, reserve some leaves to use as a garnish
2 avocados, pitted and peeled
1/2 c. pine nuts
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste


Cook pasta in boiling water per package instructions.  Drain.

To make the pesto sauce, combine the following in food processor:  fresh basil, pine nuts, avocado, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and vegetable broth.  Process until creamy.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine pasta and pesto sauce.  Garnish each plate with remaining fresh basil leaves.



September 22, 2012

Community Meal for Those in Need; Young and Old Alike

Every single day of the week, there is a place for those who are hungry to go for a FREE hot meal in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.  This is amazing and wonderful!  I am so proud of my community.   The Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities organizes the community meal program which takes place at various churches in Pottstown.  

For the daily meal schedule, click HERE, or scroll down to the bottom of the page.  If you are lucky enough to have food on your table every day and want to help those less fortunate, VOLUNTEER, or make a DONATION.  It's easy.  If you have questions, please feel free to ask me.  

For this meal, I prepared macaroni and cheese, stewed tomatoes, green beans, peaches, rolls and a plethora of fancy desserts, all provided at no charge to those in need in our Pottstown Community.

Many thanks to Fr. Terry and Christ Episcopal Church for allowing us to use their church to feed so many.  Christ Episcopal is located at 316 East High Street, between Rite Aid and the Farmers' Market.  Deacon-in-training, Robin, blessed the food before the meal.  Robin helped the disabled and young children with their trays and also joined the diners during their meal, discussing with them their concerns.  Thank you, Robin, and WELCOME!     

Feeding those in need would not be possible without the help of volunteers.  Thank you so very much for your big hearts!

Here is the meal schedule for Pottstown:

How can you worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?  You can't.  Volunteer

 Until next time,


September 21, 2012

Recipe: Spinach Salad with Chicken and Avocado

Savor the end of summer with this quick and easy salad that is perfect for any weeknight (or, weekend).  We serve it as a main course all year round.  Omit the chicken for a vegetarian version, and the cheese for vegan style.

Click HERE for Printable version 


8 cups chopped spinach (1 bag)
2 large tomatoes, diced
½ cup corn (frozen, canned or cut off the cob)
½ cups chopped cooked chicken (a Costco or grocery store rotisserie chicken is the easiest way to go)
1 or 2 avocados, sliced (we looove avocado so I usually use two)
cup crumbled goat or feta cheese (personal preference or whichever you have on hand)
¼ cup toasted pine nuts


3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Place all salad ingredients in large bowl.  Toss.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over individual plates of salad (that way, if there is any salad leftover, it will keep until the next day.  Not so if the dressing is added to the entire bowl).

Serve.  Enjoy!


September 19, 2012

Not So Scary Halloween Pumpkin Party Crayon Favors

We harvested the pumpkins from our garden so it must be time for Halloween!  I love the way these Jack-O'-Lantern pumpkin crayons turned out, available in my Ivy Lane Designs Etsy shop on Etsy.  They are colorful and not at all scary.

Each party pack set comes with 24 smiling pumpkin crayons in a variety of colors.  A super fun addition to any trick-or-treat bag, or cover a table with butcher block paper and let your Halloween party guests' imaginations fly!

Check out all of the nifty eco-friendly recycled crayons at Ivy Lane Designs HERE.

Happy Halloween!


September 16, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

After a weeklong birthday celebration, it was off to New York City for lunch, shopping and a matinee of The Book of Mormon.

When in Rome, I mean New York, eat as a New Yawkah so we had lunch at Carnegie Deli ...

... which meant matzoh ball soup for me.  Yum!

After lunch we cruised the aisles of a huge street fair on Broadway.

My beloved chose a new pair of specs for me, bedazzled with hot pink rhinestones.  Nice!

Coolest backpack.

Interesting choice of shoes to wear to a street fair.  Ouch!

We stopped for a bit of belt shopping in front of the famous Ed Sullivan Theater, home to the Late Show with David Letterman Show.  We went to a taping when Pierce Brosnan was the guest.  Tip:  If you go to see Letterman bring a jacket or, better yet, a down parka as it's freezing in the theater. 

Then it was on to the Eugene O'Neill Theater for The Book of Mormon.

The show was fun but totally irreverent.  Do not bring your kids.  Really.

There were birthday flowers purchased and arranged by my lovely daughter.

I had not one but TWO birthday cakes which is super duper as birthday cake is my favorite guilty pleasure food.  The first was a Minnie Mouse cake created by our neighbor, Chef Lily.

... and the second was from my beloved.

Food, fun and family.  The perfect birthday celebration.


September 13, 2012

Make It: DIY Photo Lampshade

Photo crafts are some of my favorites.  My daughter's elementary school held a dinner/fundraiser/auction each year, and every year I was tasked with making the item that represented her grade.  I always aimed for something that would be different - never seen before - that would bring in the big bucks at the auction.  This particular year I found success with the photo lampshade.  The lamp and shade sold for over $2,000.  Yowza!

I chose to use black and white photos for this project, although color would work just as well ... or sepia.  When the lamp is turned on, the photos shine providing a wonderful treat!  This photo craft would make the coolest ever baby or wedding gift.  For sure, handmade gifts are the best! 

Like it?  Pin it!


  • 1 Lampshade, with four straight sides.  I bought mine at Lowe's.
  • 1 Lamp base.  This one came from Target.
  • 1 Low watt bulb
  • 5 Sheets of overhead transparency film for a copier, or more for in case you make an oopsie [Tip:  Because this stuff is expensive, buy individual sheets from Staples, Kinko's or your favorite printer.  You can even use their copier to print your photos.  Don't buy transparency film for the ink jet as it's too flimsy.]
  • 4 Sheets of vellum
  • Scissors
  • Fine lined Sharpie-like marker
  • One piece of white paper
  • Small round hole punch (smaller than the holes found in notebook paper)
  • Black plastic gimp string (cheap stuff that kids at summer camp use to make lanyards)  
  • Green tea (or wine) and snacks (optional)


1.  Take shade apart - I took the shade apart, being careful not to rip it, so I could use one panel/side as my pattern.

2.  Make a pattern - Using the old lampshade, make a pattern that you will use for each of the four sides of the lamp.

3.  Acquire and resize photos - I mooched photos from my daughter's teachers and resized them so that they would fit my panel pattern - one photo per panel.   I made them all black and white.

4.  Print photos - Using my laser printer, I printed each photo on transparency film made for copy machines (one photo per transparency sheet).  The side facing the lamp will be the printed side so consider this when printing in case you first need to reverse the image.  

5.  Trace and cut out your photos - Using your pattern from step 4, trace around, being careful not to mark within the cutting area, then cut out your four transparency photos.  Cut inside the Sharpie marker lines.  [Tip:  You can also use this pattern to make one see through pattern from transparency film so it's easier to see where you need to draw around/cut].

6.  Cut out vellum - Using the same pattern, cut out 4 identical pieces of vellum.  These will line your photos.

7.  Make a punch pattern and mark it - Using your pattern once again, cut out one sheet of white paper.  Use a pen to measure and mark where you will punch the holes. 

8.  Punch your holes pattern - True confession:  At the time I made this lampshade, my very first, I did not own a small hole punch so I used a two-tined barbecue fork to punch my holes.  Word to the wise, use a teeny hole punch (smaller than notebook paper size).  It's so worth the five-ish bucks you'll spend.

9. Punch your holes - Punch your holes in your photo transparencies and vellum.  Take your time.

10.  Stitch - Place photo transparency ink side down on top of vellum.  Make sure all your holes are punched and line up correctly.  Use black plastic gimp string to stitch your film and vellum to the shade's wire frame.  Refer to the photo above.  Tie your stitches off in tight knots.

11.  Add a low wattage light bulb, turn on and ENJOY! 


September 10, 2012

Down 20 Pounds = Meatless Monday + Life-Changing Documentary

About a month ago, my beloved and I watched "Forks Over Knives" on Netflix.  My friend Vicki had recommended it last year, but we were busy with life and put it off, darn it!  You know how sometimes you wish you could have a do-over?  This is one of those times.  We have been telling everyone about this movie, which now includes you.  Don't wait.  Watch it right away.  TWO THUMBS UP! 

The documentary takes a look at the theory that most, if not all, degenerative diseases can be controlled, or even reversed, by following a whole-food, plant-based diet. The story traces the personal journeys of two pioneering researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell (author of The China Study and nutritional scientist at Cornell University) and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (top surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic).

Dr. Campbell was concerned in the late 1960s with producing high quality animal protein to bring to the poor and malnourished areas of the third world. While in the Philippines, he made a life-changing discovery: the country's wealthier children, who were consuming relatively high amounts of animal-based foods, were much more likely to get liver cancer. Dr. Esselstyn found that many of the diseases he routinely treated were virtually unknown in parts of the world where animal-based foods were rarely consumed.

These discoveries inspired Drs. Campbell and Esselstyn, who didn't yet know each other, to conduct several groundbreaking studies. One of them took place in China and is still among the most comprehensive health-related investigations ever undertaken. Their research led them to a startling conclusion: degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented - and in many cases reversed - by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet.

Their website, FORKS OVER KNIVES, has so many interesting articles, videos and more. Check it out
Found on page 27 of the book:  “The fact that so many diseases are dependent on diet is the reason why, for health and healing, it is far better to rely on food (i.e., your fork) than surgery (i.e. the surgeon’s knife). Simply put: forks over knives.” 

Super duper news is that my husband was so moved by the film that he immediately adopted a whole-food, plant-based diet.  He dropped 20 lbs. in one month and feels like one hundred dollars.  He didn't over think it but rather jumped in feet first.   I am taking the more timid big-toe-in-the-water approach but will get there, and will keep you posted.  Our kids haven't noticed much of a difference.  Our son, who happens to have autism, has been gluten-free for 18 years, and our daughter is dairy-free, so modifying diets is our way of life.

I will be posting yummy plant-based recipes HERE that have all been taste tested and approved by my family.

When you watch the film, let me know what you think.


September 3, 2012

Meatless Monday: Fresh Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce

I once thought there was no such thing as too many tomatoes, and then we planted a garden.  Our six plants produced so many beautiful tomatoes that we have been making and eating fresh pasta sauce at least once a week.  The sauce is equally as delicious atop homemade pizza.


This is a really easy recipe that uses a minimal number of ingredients.  I don't have the amounts as I just wing it each time.  I don't think there is a way to mess up this dish except, perhaps, if you were to add too much salt.  Taste as you go.


Tomatoes, chopped
Onions, chopped
(Zucchini, chopped, is optional, but if you have scads of it, you may as well toss it in)
Garlic, chopped
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil 
Fresh basil, chopped (add after cooking)


Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Combine tomatoes, onions, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in large bowl.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  (Tip:  I buy the glass pour bottles at WalMart for less than $5.00.  So handy)

 Drizzle with olive oil then mix ingredients thoroughly.

Transfer to a cookie sheet (or two) lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a 350ºF preheated oven for 60 minutes.

Remove from oven.

Transfer to a food processor and blend well.  Add fresh chopped basil.  Transfer contents of food processor to stove top and heat through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Top your favorite pasta with your delicious sauce and enjoy!