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  • New Year’s Traditions

    Being from the South I just took it for granted that everyone knew they needed to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck! Eventually, I learned that plenty of people were unaware of this practice and I must say I felt bad for them. Not only on the luck issue but just the fact that black-eyed peas are so tasty!

    This year I decided to go a little different route on the preparation of my good-fortune legumes. My husband brought home a recipe a number of years ago for a delectable little dip that puts those peas to a wonderful use. So, I want to share it with you so you can have good luck and tickle your taste buds on the first day of a new decade.

    Good Luck Black-eyed Pea Dip

    2 cans (15-16 oz.)black-eyed peas (plain, bacon or jalapeno added – your choice), drained

    4-5 green onions chopped – be sure and use the green tops, too

    8-10 slices of jalapeno, chopped

    1 cup of Chow Chow (sweet and spicy relish)

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Just mix it all up. You’re ready to dip! It’s great immediately on a chip or cracker (Trisket is my favorite) but if you can make it and let it spend time in the fridge with all those flavors mingling…oh my!

    Wishing you the very best in 2010! Happy New Year!

  • To Make New Years Resolutions


    Why am I so conflicted, you might ask. Well, the real reason is that I never keep them! I start off with good intentions (you know what they say about good intentions) and then somewhere between good intentions and March they disappear.

    Does that ever happen to you? I hope so. I would hate to think that I am the only breaker of resolutions out here. I was wondering today though…what kinds of resolutions WOULD I keep? I know which ones I should keep and those are the traditional gotta lose X pounds or I need to start eating healthy or I need to start working out.

    SO off I went on the trail of finding the perfect Health related resolution. I happened upon and an article called 50 ways to burn 500 calories per day. I am thinking that is doable and maybe I could stick to one of them that appears to be simple or easy. Let's face it; I am not big on will power. Then I read them and thought how appropriate it is to share my thoughts on just a few of them:

    DANCING – Two hours of dancing burns 500 calories…Are you kidding? Two hours of dancing and I would be dead.

    CLEAN HOUSE –Tidy for 2.5 hours and burn 510 calories…What and cut into my housekeepers livelihood?

    USE A SMALLER PLATE – You will eat 25 % less….that is if you don’t count eating out of the pot you cook in (and that doesn’t count does it?)

    STEP AWAY FROM THE NUTS – avoid unhealthy oils and save 500 calories … does that mean no Snickers just Hershey kisses?

    But next I found the perfect one. Pass it on to all our fellow knitters:

    AN AFTERNOON OF KNITTING CAN BURN MORE THAN 500 CALORIES (AT A RATE OF 100 CALORIES PER HOUR) not to say you can’t relax while you’re knitting!

    Girls/Guys let’s get knitting! Let’s see, if I make 10 hats, 20 scarves, a couple of sweaters…. I could lose 10 pounds! Enjoy and Happy New Year!

  • Baby, It's Cold Outside

    I have had the pleasure this week of working at our scrapbooking web company,, located in Wisconsin! And boy was it COLD! Snowy too! Check this out - right outside the door and a balmy 6 degrees! Thanks TJ for braving the cold....

    Take a look at some digital scrapbooking product that we have added to our downloadable product offering at If you have experience with any graphic software packages your options are virtually limitless. Create the page and send it to your friends and family electronically... in just minutes. The great thing about this product and scapbooking digitally is that you have it forever and it can be used over and over again. So if you are up to trying something new, check these out! Even better, when you have downloaded your kits send us your finished product. We love it when you share!

  • Wrapping it Up

    There’s a whole lot of wrapping going
    on here. I’m doing mine a little differently this year, thanks to Patricia Lee’s suggestion to try a little fabric. Instead of the kind of gift-wrapping I usually do, I’m tying it all up in jewel toned or sparkling fabrics. Not only do they make a pretty presentation but they become part of the gift. This is wrapping that won’t immediately end up in the trashcan! You can use a ready-made BoBo Wrap or use her new book, The Wrapping Scarf Revolution, for easy instructions to make your own. Once you’ve stitched your wrap, just follow Patricia’s diagrams for a variety of knots, ties and twists to create a perfect package!

  • The Screening of Mrs. Miracle

    I visited New York City on business (and a bit of pleasure) last week and I must say, a trip to New York City is unlike any other. There is always so much to see and do. Then add in the holiday factor and it’s really over the top!

    I had an extra special opportunity while I was there. Debbie Macomber, New York Times Best Selling Author and knitter extraordinaire was in the Big Apple for the promotion and screening of Mrs. Miracle, a made for TV movie from Hallmark that was adapted from her book by the same title.

    (Note: We are honored to publish companion knitting pattern books to compliment Debbie’s Blossom Street series novels that are set in a yarn shop in Seattle.)

    On Thursday, I visited a promotion at Borders Books in the Time Warner complex in Columbus Circle. Debbie and Doris Roberts (among other credits, she played Ray’s mother in Everybody Loves Raymond), who plays the lead in the movie, wrapped gifts for customers while 25 singing and dancing Santas entertained in the background. I purchased a CD of Christmas music and Debbie wrapped it with great care (it’s for my mother).

    Excited doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt when I received an invitation to attend the screening Friday night! A small but well appointed screening room on Park Avenue was the venue. In addition to Debbie and her family, Doris Roberts, Hallmark Channel Officials, Public Relation Executives, and many more were in attendance. The movie was great! I know a few tears fell before the curtain came down. I hope you have a chance to enjoy the movie on the Hallmark Channel before the season is over!

  • Back Home to Philadelphia

    Going to Philadelphia for a book signing at AC Moore was fun for a multitude of reasons.

    First, Philly is where I grew up! Second, AC Moore was celebrating it's grand opening in Willow Grove and the store was buzzing with special deals and other great authors signing their books. Third, Philly had it's first snow fall of the season right in the middle of my event and I do love snow!
    A lot of people were wondering if they could purchase wrapping scarves with the books so I started to look around the store for some things that might work.
    AC Moore had a small fabric section with pre-cut pieces of rectangular printed cotton that I was able to fold into squares and try a couple of techniques. The fabrics were very cute but the unfinished edges weren't very attractive and next time, I think I'll have them send me some of their fabrics ahead of time so that they can be made into finished DIY projects.
    Do you have pieces of pretty fabric lying around your home? Well, be sure to check out The Wrapping Scarf Revolution for ideas on how to create gorgeous wrapping scarves for all your holiday wrapping. If your local library doesn't carry the book, just put in a request and it shouldn't be too hard for them to get a hold of a few copies for lending.
    Until next time, Happy Wrapping!
  • Traditions

    When the big painted signs go up, I really know how very close it is to Christmas Day. This is so much more exciting than just looking at the calendar or the date on my cell phone. I see this welcoming view as I approach the office, begin to read the messages and start thinking back to all the people who have been involved in this annual show of art. It’s a tradition!

    Each year, all employees are invited to participate in a painting marathon to create over-sized holiday signs. That means painting on a 4’ x 8’ piece of plywood surface. Paints & workspaces are provided, departments & coworkers team up and away we go. Sometimes a particular theme is suggested or a contest is announced, but always - everyone gets busy deciding what their design will be this year. As the signs are completed, our super can-do maintenance team applies easels to the backs, takes them to the front lawn and lines them up along the edge of the street. Talk about spreading holiday cheer! It’s so much fun to get into the spirit with everyone, and we spread the word a good distance.

    Throughout the season, cars drive by often to take in the sight. Some are funny, some are serious, some are spiritual, some are masterpieces and some are intentionally not. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never even drawn a stick figure, you’re suddenly pulled into the activity and it feels good to grab a paint brush and start the art! What really come across are the special messages and reminders expressed by all.

    Jim Dittrich, retired from the military, is our VP of operations. He finds us the wide open spaces roomy enough to paint in and he is the one who helped us to start this tradition at Leisure Arts. (And importantly, he gets all of our book shipments out the door and on their way to you everyday! Kind of like Santa delivering the goodies…) I asked him to share how this idea came about. In his own words:

    For as long as I can remember, going back over 30 years, military units have painted a 4’ x 8’ piece of plywood, with a holiday scene that identifies their unit. Many were humorous, and many included the tools of their trade in the drawing. One had a C130 aircraft with Santa throwing presents out the back. Another had Army Infantrymen in combat gear riding camels, acting as the 3 wisemen. Often, there were competitions for the best Holiday sign. These signs helped remind us of the season, no matter where we were. We started this tradition at Leisure Arts 10 years ago. Besides getting us in the holiday spirit, we have identified some remarkable artists from all over the company.
    Jim Dittrich (LTC, USA, Retired)

    Enjoy your holiday traditions with friends & family this year! Please tell us about them - we'd love to hear from you. Maybe you'll start a new one - or even take up a little (or big!) painting project. You may enjoy personal stories & ideas from our readers and editors about their treasured family customs in Christmas Traditions. It's a beautiful book filled with ideas for starting new celebrations, gifts to create and wonderful recipes to enjoy for years to come.

  • Holiday Recipes to Share

    You may have seen our e-mail to you guys on November 24th featuring 5 fabulous holiday recipe!. Overwhelmingly, everyone loved the recipes downloads. In case you didn’t get a chance to download the recipes, here is a encore presentation.

    I made the Corn Pudding recipe for Thanksgiving, and it was a big hit! Click here to download the recipes today and share with your friends and family!

  • Holiday Recipes to Share

    You may have seen our e-mail to you guys on November 24th featuring 5 fabulous holiday recipe!. Overwhelmingly, everyone loved the recipes downloads. In case you didn’t get a chance to download the recipes, here is a encore presentation.

    I made the Corn Pudding recipe for Thanksgiving, and it was a big hit! Click here to download the recipes today and share with your friends and family!

  • It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!!

    It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!! I can hear the music now ; ) We have even started the process of putting the holiday decorations up in our lobby . The temperatures are co-operating this year ,WOO-HOO! Can it get any better??

    Since we are feeling festive, let’s talk about the spirit of giving. We’ve mentioned the generosity of our co-workers here at Leisure Arts in previous posts. At any given time you will find folks involved in knitting and crocheting items for charitable causes. i.e. Knitting for Noggins, Susan G. Komen, Warm Up America…just to name a few!

    I am so proud today to tell you about another endeavor. Leisure Arts has been partners with a neighborhood schools for many years. We share a passion with these kids for fund raisers, special events and education. Each year in mid – November, we begin collecting toys for a project called - Stuff the Sleigh. Stuff the Sleigh is a non profit organization whose mission is to provide a special Christmas for all the foster children in our state. So once again our employees and their families have been super generous and excited to join in. The kids from the school were delighted to receive the donations and we were delighted to give them.

    Christmas at Leisure Arts

    We know that our many friends and associates across the country do the same thing each year. Tell us what you are up to this holiday season.

    Happy Holidays!

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