December 29, 2012

Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle: Eco-Friendly Map Necklace

Necessity really is the mother of invention.  Finding new uses for old things has always been my thing.  When I was a kid, I would paint rocks and add felt to bring them to life as alligators, or turtles, or ladybugs.  These days I am collecting prescription pill bottles with plans to design a piece of furniture.  [Be sure to watch this space.]

One recent creation from an everyday item is my map necklace, available in my Etsy shop, Ivy Lane Designs, that I crafted from pages of a vintage road atlas.  The necklace currently has over 8,000 views on Etsy, which is quite a lot. 

My map necklace has also been featured on the front page of Etsy several times, which always makes me do a little happy dance.

... and it was chosen out of thousands of entries to be a finalist in GOOD Magazine's "Take a Picture of Something Repurposed" challenge. 

Creative repurposing is fun AND eco-friendly!


December 19, 2012

O Christmas Tree

Over the years, my family has delivered hundreds and hundreds of small living Christmas trees to teachers, therapists, neighbors, family members and friends.  Because our son, Justin, has autism, there have been scads of people who have needed a sign of appreciation at the holidays (and other times, too).  Now that Justin has graduated high school, he no longer has that wonderful support network.  In fact, the lack of accessible services for those with mental health and neurological challenges in the United States is heartbreaking.  If you haven't yet read "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother," you should.  It will take you less than five minutes.  Something must be done.

If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a [Christmas] tree. - Jim Rohn 

This year, we focused our tree efforts on those who live alone and do not have family members nearby.  These are people who would not likely otherwise have a Christmas tree.

Each package included one live tree, a sparkly frame with a picture of our kids, mini ornaments, ornament hangers, LED battery operated lights and AA batteries.

Small trees are available at nurseries, and even grocery stores.

The mini ornaments and hangers were from Target.

 The battery operated LED lights were also from Target.

If the recipient lived far away, we packed everything inside a free Priority Mail shoe box, available online from the United States Parcel Service HERE, and mailed it.  The USPS will deliver shipping boxes to your home for free.  

This is Justin last year at a nursing home, delivering trees.

This holiday season (and throughout the year), surprise someone who needs it.

Merry Christmas! 


December 16, 2012

Tabasco Cheese Cookies

Our Pottstown Mercury's Town Square community bloggers' group recently asked for our favorite cookie recipes.  Here is mine.

My mom bakes Tabasco cheese cookies for me every Christmas.  I hide my cookies from everyone so that I won't have to share.  Sometimes I hide them too well and have to decide, months later, if I should still eat them.  That is a sad moment.  But then I make a batch for myself and “God’s in is Heaven – all’s right with the world” (thank you, Robert Browning).  

Now that we have adopted a plant-based diet (my beloved has gone all-the-way vegan, and lost 40 lbs. in the process, see: and I am almost vegan), I adapted my mom’s recipe to suit.  I am including a version for those who eat dairy and gluten and those who do not.

There are only six ingredients. 


One of the ingredients is Tabasco, of which I am a huge fan.  These are individual serving size bottles that I acquired while in New Orleans.  Adorable!



1 cup grated sharp cheddar (for dairy-free use Daiya shredder cheddar cheese)
1 stick butter (for dairy-free use Earth Balance)
1 cup Rice Krispies
1 cup flour (gluten-free use King Arthur Flour gluten-free multi-purpose flour)
1 pinch (ouch!) salt
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce  


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Allow cheese and butter to come to room temperature.  Combine and blend well.

Mix in remaining ingredients until dough forms.

Pinch off walnut-size pieces and roll into balls ... or use your handy dandy cookie scoop (I bought mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but they do not have it available online).

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes for walnut-size, or 25 to 30 minutes if you use a cookie scoop.

Thanks, Mom!  XO.


Happy Holidays!


December 14, 2012

A Wig Spin of a Week

When I was a flight attendant for Pan Am, we would call short somewhat harried trips "wig spins."  JFK to Mexico City, for instance, would be a wig spin ... just long and a bit nutty enough to spin your [figurative] wig around.  Now, whenever I have a week filled to the gills with projects and deadlines, I immediately think "wig spin."

Here is my wig spin of a week in review:  This week I ate chocolate for breakfast, sailed past 5,000 sales in my Ivy Lane Designs shop on Etsy (yippee!), was featured in House Beautiful Magazine's 10 Cool Kids' Gifts Under $10 (dinosaur crayons) and Young House Love's Kids' Holiday Gift Guide (people crayons), celebrated 12/12/12, mourned the loss of our microwave, shipped over 100 orders and sang loudly to AC/DC's Back in Black.  My work here is [almost] done.

A big thanks to my beloved for understanding why every waking moment has been spent filling orders, and why our house isn't tidy ... and why the Christmas ornaments remain in their boxes. <big hug!>  

Yay, 5,000!

 House Beautiful Magazine featured my dinosaur crayons.

Young House Love featured my people crayons.

We celebrated 12/12/12.

Over 100 orders are off to their destinations.

Wishing you and yours many happy weeks of wig spins,


December 10, 2012

5,000 Etsy Sales at Ivy Lane Designs

I am proud and delighted to report that today I made my 5,000th sale in my eco-friendly Etsy shop, Ivy Lane Designs.  Pinch me!    

It seemed like not long ago that I was voicing to my beloved how much I was looking forward to reaching 100 sales.  One thousand sounds like a lot, but 5,000 ... WOW!  As a happy-as-a-lark Etsy shop owner, I thank you.  

Be sure to check out all of the eco-friendly goodies, including matchbox party favors (as featured in BRIDES magazine), food journals, drink journals, miscellaneous fun journals, record album journals, the ever-popular recycled crayons and mini jot-and-go journals


December 5, 2012

What's in a Name? Creativity, of Course!

When a child's name is spelled out in letter crayons, creativity abounds!  I have been working fast and furiously creating kids' chunky handcrafted letter crayons for a teacher in Virginia who ordered them for her entire class! <BIG HUG for teachers!> They are the perfect size for little hands.  

A cellophane bag, shredded recycled (natch) paper, personalized tag and ribbon are included at no additional charge.  Ready for giving.  Colors are representative.  Big letter crayons make the perfect party favor or stocking stuffer!  Brought to you by Ivy Lane Designs on Etsy. 

Size varies by letter. The dimensions of the letter M, for example, are appx.: 1.75" x 1.6" x .7". CHOKING HAZARD-Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

All eco-friendly crayons from Ivy Lane Designs are handcrafted from repurposed, non-toxic crayons.  It is never too early to teach our children about helping the environment.

7, 8 and 9 letter names on request, so don't be shy! <winkie face>

Happy Holidays!