November 27, 2012

Handmade Dinosaur Crayons: As Featured in Etsy's Eco-Friendly Kids' Gift Guide

Say hello to the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus and Triceratops. Gift boxes of six (6) handmade dinosaur-shaped crayons are available at Ivy Lane DesignsThese handmade crayon gift sets were featured on the front page of Etsy's kids' eco-friendly gift guide, and have been selling like hotcakes ever since!  They are definitely the #1 nifty giftie this holiday season.  

Each dinosaur crayon is the perfect size (T-Rex is appx. 1.4" x 1.5" - or 3.5cm x 3.8cm) for little hands. Purchase two sets and get 12 different colorsGreat holiday gifts and/or party favors! 

Check out all of the eco-friendly holiday gift boxed crayon sets offered at Ivy Lane Designs HERE.

Happy Holidays!


November 19, 2012

Mexican Casserole with Cornbread Crust

I love casseroles, Mexican food and cornbread!  This Mexican casserole with cornbread crust is a marriage made in heaven.  My beloved declared that he could eat it three or four times a week.  Need I say more?  It is super easy to make, and yummy!

I will share with you from the get-go that I made my Mexican casserole vegan style, but do not freak out as meat eater instructions are included as well.  My vegan version is for my husband who took the plant-based plunge about four months ago.  At last count, he had lost 39 lbs. and feels like a million bucks!  Read my blog post about why and how he did it.


  • 1/2 cup milk (I used soy.  We drink almond milk and use it in our cereal, but it's a tad on the sweet side.  For savory dishes, I prefer soy milk)
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce OR 1 egg, lightly beaten (use one or the other.  Not both!)
  • 1 can (14 oz.) cream of corn
  • 1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies, drained
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning, divided
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) shredded cheddar and/or Jack (I used Daiya brand, equal parts pepper jack and cheddar - melts like a dream)
  • 8 1/2 oz. corn muffin mix - Jiffy contains lard (pig fat), just so you know.  If that's okay with you, then use one box.  I use appx. 2/3 of a box of Yankee Cornbread & Muffin Mix by Gluten Free Pantry, owned by Glutino. 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce, divided
  • 1 can (14 oz.) chili beans
  • 3 cups cooked meat (like shredded rotisserie chicken or ground beef), or meat substitute.  I used fake chicken, but Boca crumbles work nicely, too.
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease 9" x 13" baking dish.
  • In a bowl, combine milk, egg OR applesauce, cream of corn, chopped green chilies, 1 1/2 teaspoons of taco seasoning and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.  Add dry corn muffin mix and stir until just combined.  Pour into greased 9" x 13" baking dish and spread evenly.  Bake for 20 minutes.
  • While the corn bread is baking, heat olive oil and brown onions over medium high heat.  Add meat or meat substitute the remaining taco seasoning, chili beans (don't drain them) and 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce.
  • When the corn bread is ready, it will barely set and still be miost.  That is okay.  Pierce the entire surface with a fork.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the cornbread and use the back of a spoon to spread evenly over the top.
  • Evenly top with the meat (real/fake) and bean mixture and remaining cheese.
  • Return to oven for 15 minutes until it is warm and cheese is melted.
  • Top with chopped cilantro.



November 15, 2012

Turning 20, A Horse Named Rex, Hurricane Sandy, Chicken Pot Pie and Birthday Cake

My baby girl said goodbye to her teens and is now 20 ... the start of a new decade in her life when she'll get her first apartment, graduate college and achieve so very much.  It is our hope that she will move joyfully and effortlessly through life, leaping from success to success, from one wonderfully positive experience to the next - and we will be there cheering her on.

Birthdays in our house are huge and are celebrated with food, family and friends.  This year Lauren wished for a trail ride, boots, chicken pot pie and dairy-free cake.  Mission accomplished.

My dear friend Susan, who you first read about HERE, gifted Lauren with a trail ride at Kross Creek Farm on her trusty stead Rex.  Rex and Lauren immediately hit it off.  Thank you, Susan!  

For her birthday dinner, Lauren had only one wish and that was for chicken pot pie.  One was tucked away in her tiny dorm room freezer in anticipation of the big day.  Then Hurricane Sandy came to town and dinner plans were out the window, along with electricity for a week for an entire university. 

So, I prepared belated celebratory homemade mini chicken pot pies for her to take back with her to school.  I bought small aluminum pans at the grocery store, the perfect size for a hungry student.  Yum!  Crisis averted.

A birthday would not be complete without cake!  This year's celebratory cakes were provided by Vegan Treats.  We happened to be there the same day they had shipped a cake to Ellen DeGeneres who is vegan.

Another rite of passage.  Happy Birthday, dear Lauren.


November 12, 2012

Dora the Explorer-Inspired Chunky Crayons

I love the way these Dora the Explorer-inspired chunky crayons turned out.  Because they stand, little ones can play dolls when not coloring.  Best idea ever:  Cover a table with butcher block paper and let kids' (and adults') imaginations flow!  Sold in sets of six (6) at Ivy Lane Designs on Etsy HERE.

Check out all of the recycled nifty gifties at Ivy Lane Designs on Etsy.


November 9, 2012

My Daughter's First Time Voting: A Rite of Passage

There are so many firsts in our children's lives.  For me, my daughter's first time voting in a presidential election was right up there with her first baby steps.  We were both so excited as we traveled to our polling place.  She smiled proudly as I took her picture, not unlike when she took her first steps.  This time, though, they were steps into adulthood.

She knew what issues were important to her and continues to debate them passionately.  I am so proud of the young woman my baby girl has grown up to be. ♥ 


November 4, 2012

Good Food for a Good Cause

My beloved and I recently attended a fundraiser for Silver Springs - Martin Luther School, an agency that provides trauma recovery and treatment for abused children.  Philadelphia Superstar and Iron Chef Jose Garces selected the menu items, paired the wines and was on hand with his personal team of 14 to supervise the preparation of the dinner.  The sopa de castano, a truffle chestnut soup with duck and wild mushroom hash, was my favorite.  I understand they serve this at Tinto, one of his 15 restaurants.  I'm going!

Three boys served by Silver Springs.

Chef Garces autographed "The Latin Road Home," his new cookbook, travelogue and memoir which takes us to Spain, Cuba, Mexico and Peru.

Chef Garces and his wife, Dr. Beatriz Garces, run The Garces Family Foundation, dedicated to improving the health and education of the underprivileged migrant population of the Greater Philadelphia Area.  Excellent!