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  • Labor-free Labor Day

    {Hope you’re having a glorious Labor Day weekend! We’ve got a guest blogger today! Our Leisure Arts Food Editor, Celia Harkey, is celebrating Labor Day by making kitchen work easy and sharing a free recipe for Mexican Macaroni and Cheese!}

    Mention Labor Day and I think, “What makes your life in the kitchen easier than a casserole?” Well, besides the dishwasher (both the electric model and the man that doubles as Official Taster at my house), my immersion blender just for fun, and shredded cheese (can sprinkle it on anything!) — nothing is easier. Since Labor Day is based on celebrating the accomplishments of American workers, I say we think about making our kitchen work easy for this Labor Day!
    I can safely bet that each and every one of you has made and eaten a casserole or two in your life plus carried a casserole to at least a few dozen places for a potluck — the ultimate sampling smorgasbord. If you’re from North Dakota and Minnesota, like my friends Char and Kim, you have relied on the “hotdish” as your main meal or side dish for many a church potluck or family gathering. Every region of the country has their interpretation of the casserole or hotdish. The following are some of the many ingredients used: a stick of butter, a can of cream soup, potatoes, pasta, rice, meat or fish (think canned tuna), buttered cracker crumbs or crumbled chips for topping, cheese (lots of cheese), veggies to make it a meal, and milk or cream that’s sometimes thickened with flour. 

    The other really wonderful, almost miraculous thing about making a casserole or hotdish — if you don’t have the ingredient in the recipe, substitute whatever sounds good out of your pantry! I have shared the tasty Mexican Macaroni and Cheese recipe below from Celebrating Party Foods (pictured with Orange-Pineapple Punch, Cheesy Bean Burritos, and Mini Beef Nachos from the same book) and, believe me, all ages will love this hotdish. So, get creative and change a can or two! The Official Taster loves black beans, and we both love things spicy, so I will assemble this hotdish for Labor Day using black beans (instead of kidney beans) and substituting a can of diced tomatoes and green chiles for the stewed tomatoes. In fact, we might just add a few jalapeño slices and use the Mexican blend of cheese. YUM!!!
    Mexican Macaroni and Cheese
    1 package (12 ounces) large elbow macaroni, cooked
    1 can (16 ounces) dark red kidney or your favorite beans, drained
    1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes, drained
    1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chiles
    1 can (4-1/4 ounces) chopped ripe olives
    1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    1/4 cup butter
    1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2-1/4 cups warm milk
    4 cups (16 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend, divided
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
    1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
    In a large bowl, combine cooked macaroni, kidney beans, tomatoes, green chiles, ripe olives, and cilantro. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté green onions in butter just until tender. Remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer onions to macaroni mixture.
    Return butter to medium heat; whisk flour into butter until well blended and mixture begins to bubble. Stirring constantly, add warm milk; cook about 6 minutes or until smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add 3 cups cheese; stir until melted. Stir in cumin, garlic salt, and red pepper. Pour over macaroni mixture.
    Spoon mixture into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese over top. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer or until mixture is bubbly.
    Yield: about 14 servings
    Enjoy this recipe from Celebrating Party Foods along with 100 other party food recipes and 13 themed menus for entertaining.  You’ll find more casseroles like Baked Bean Blitz, Brunch Eggs, and Coconut Candy Bar Cake (well, you have to have dessert at a potluck!). And if you want to get started cooking right now, order the downloadable version—the Celebrating Party Foods eBook!
  • Marshmallow Creme & S’Mores Day—The Perfect Combo!

    It's National S'Mores Day! Let's celebrate! Do you remember making s’mores as a kid? We used to go camping every summer when I was little, and we always sat around the campfire made them with graham crackers, chocolate bars, and giant melted marshmallows. S’Mores were also a staple at Brownie and Girl Scout cookouts. Unfortunately, as hot as it’s been outside this summer, I don’t think I’m going to be making traditional s’mores today…but, luckily, I’ve found an upscaled recipe in an old Leisure Arts book that I can make in the oven. Check out our recipe for Cookie S’Mores featuring a chunky peanut butter crust that’s layered with marshmallow creme, chocolate candy, and peanuts!
    Cookie S’Mores
    1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
    1 large egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
    1 cup candy-coated chocolate pieces
    3/4 cup salted roasted peanuts
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; add sugars, beating well. Add peanut butter, egg, and vanilla; beat well.
    Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture, beating well.
    Press dough into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Spread marshmallow creme over dough. Sprinkle chocolate pieces and peanuts over marshmallow creme. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until marshmallow creme is lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack; cut into bars.
    Yield: about 2 dozen cookies
    Happy National S’Mores Day! Hope you enjoy our free recipe! How are you planning to celebrate the occasion? Do you have a fav S'Mores recipe?
  • Depression Glass — My Junk Update

    I’ve been putting away the newest additions to my collections and thought I’d share some photos to get Sunday off to a good start. I’ve had really good luck with depression glass lately and have managed to acquire a few nice new (old) pieces from auctions and estate sales!

    This is Mt. Pleasant pattern black amethyst depression glass. It was made in 1920s-1934 by the L.E. Smith Glass Company. This is very cool glass! It looks black until you hold it up to the light…then, you can see amethyst! 
    From MacBeth-Evans Glass Company, circa 1929-32, here’s a stray Dogwood patterned pink depression glass sugar bowl. Now I’ve got to find the creamer!
    I really scored on my two crystal Iris & Herringbone pattern depression glass footed tumblers. They were made by the Jeannette Glass Company in 1928-1932, and I’m thrilled to add them to my growing collection of this pattern. (This is a hard pattern to collect because so many pieces of it have been reproduced!)
    Not sure why, but I just had to have these crystal Oyster & Pearl pattern depression glass candleholders. (The markings sort of look like octopus tentacles to me…) They were made in 1938-1940 by the Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation.

    I also picked up a few pieces of Jeannette pink Cherry Blossom pattern depression glass. It dates from 1930-39.
    This Moonstone pattern is also by the Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation. Well, this isn’t technically, really, depression glass at all (it does show up in some depression glass guides) since it didn’t start being produced until 1941, but I really like it! It looks cool in the cabinet with my milk glass.
    What’s your favorite depression glass pattern? How do you display it? I’d love some inspiration!
  • Vintage Collectibles Update

    I scored on vintage collectibles during my last weekend’s rounds of flea market, auction, and yard sale venues! Came home with some cool 1950s-era snack sets, an Iris pattern depression glass candle holder, a Hazel Atlas Chevron pattern depression glass milk pitcher (my only auction loot this week), a fun pincushion, some sterling silver jewelry, tatting shuttles (bone and sterling), two John Wayne biographies (for the Love-Of-My-Life), plus a bound copy of the movie script of Casablanca (for me)!
    During the holidays, my family likes to have appetizer nights, so I was tickled to find two snack sets still in their original boxes at a flea market—
    Federal Glass Company Homestead Snack Set
    Anchorglass Serva Snack Set
    Snack sets work great for appetizers with the cups filled with dip or soup!
    Yard sale treasure: Gotta love this vintage, Made in Japan, Lovebirds double pincushion! (I can’t help but wonder about the first owner of these lovebirds. Did she fall in love on a trip to Dallas? Am I being lame?) Plus a not-very-good peek at my tatting shuttles...
    My turtle ring! Its head, feet and tail actually move! Too much fun!
    How’s your vintage collectibles search going? What’s the greatest find you’ve made lately? I’m on the lookout for a new glass display case for my vintage goodies (need more no-dust-allowed storage space)…
    Now, I need to get busy planning how I’m going to use my new vintage snack sets for the 4th of July!
  • Vintage Goodies from Auctions & Estate Sales!

    I’ve been going to auctions and estate sales way too often lately! It’s sort of getting out of hand. Last Saturday, we drove 3 hours from Little Rock to Memphis, so the Love-Of-My-Life could bid on a ukulele banjo. He didn’t get it. I bought a bowl (a vintage jadite Swirl pattern mixing bowl), and then we drove another 3 hours home. (It actually took longer than 6 hours total ’cause we got lost in Memphis!) I didn’t even get a Krystal burger…
    It was evidently a weekend for green vintage purchases…
    I also came home from assorted estate sales lately with a green mailbox bank & a green teapot!
    Other folks crave chocolate, I indulged myself to a bag of assorted crochet hooks, knitting needles, bottle openers, and a green shoe button hook! (Plus, I was tickled to find a Reynolds Metals Company paperweight! My Daddy retired from that company many years ago!)
    From other auctions, I acquired some of those wonderful old green canning jars plus some neat vintage Hazel Atlas jars and Ball jars.
    Couldn’t resist these rusty, crusty vintage implements…

    I’m liking this claw-looking tool in my green button bowl!

    And to break my green streak, I had to have this red Tonka truck…
    It’s a Jeep (and I’ve been driving Jeeps for around 15 years now)!
    What have you been adding to your vintage collectibles collections?
  • Knooks, Duct Tape, Deals & Downloads!

    Happy Friday Y’all! We’ve got a lot going on at Leisure Arts today! We’ve got new Knook how-to videos, a Knook & Tell Design Contest, a Duct Tape Festival, and it’s National Flip-Flop Day! Check out the details and the deals!

    Knookers! You’re going to love our brand new, better-than-ever, FREE how-to videos for the Knook:
    How To Knook Videos - Left Handed
    How To Knook Videos - Right Handed

    Knook & Tell Design Contest
    Knook Fans! Have you entered our Knook & Tell Design Contest yet? Combine your Knook and your imagination to create an original Knook design for a chance to win a $500 shopping spree, a yarn package from Bernat, & assorted Knook products! Entry period ends July 15!

    Knook Bundle Summer Special
    If you haven’t discovered the art of knitting with a Knook yet, check out our Knook Bundle Summer Special! Learn to knit with a Knook this summer with our Knook Bundle! Receive *free shipping with your $50 purchase of Knook soft cover pattern books and tool kits with coupon code: KNOOKPROMO! *Credits shipping costs up to $8! Limited Time Only! Ends July 5!

    Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival
    Can you go? Patti Wallenfang, designer of all the cool duct tape projects in the Just Duct Tape It! & Go Crazy with Duct Tape craft pattern books from Leisure Arts is going to represent Leisure Arts with the Duck brand folks at The 9th Annual Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival, starting June 15, 2012, just in time to celebrate Father's Day. The festival will be an all-weekend event starting Friday at 4:00 p.m. at Veteran's Memorial Park in Avon, Ohio. Check out the official Duct Tape Festival web site for more info!

    Duct Tape Product Special
    Buy our Just Duct Tape It! & Go Crazy with Duct Tape craft pattern books & get *free shipping with coupon code: DUCTTAPE! *Credits shipping costs up to $8! Duct Tape special ends June 30!

    Last but not least and definitely the most fun—Today’s National Flip-Flop Day! Are you wearing your flops? To be really unique, you could make your own! Get a copy of our craft pattern book—Just Duct Tape It! to find out how! 

    Bonus! Shipping on Just Duct Tape It! is only $3.99 with coupon code: JDTIFS! 

    You can also get reduced shipping on Go Crazy with Duct Tape with coupon code: GCWDTFS!

    Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend! You might check back here at Everyday Life at Leisure later today for an update! We’re working on a last minute weekend BOGO deal for eBook & ePattern fans!

  • Happy Memorial Day!

    I first posted these images on the Everyday Life at Leisure blog on last Memorial Day, and I think they’re just as appropriate today…

    And know that all of us at Leisure Arts wish you and yours the happiest of Memorial Days ever! Eat something good, visit with family and friends, do something creative with a hook or a needle, enjoy the day off if you’ve got it, and REMEMBER!
  • After 25 Years, Carol Mulach Retires from Leisure Arts!

    Yesterday, we threw a party at Leisure Arts! A sad and glad party all rolled into one because it was a retirement party for our beloved, always smiling, “I’ll get it done!”—Carol Mulach!
    Carol started at Leisure Arts in February 1987 in the Consumer Service Subscription Department. In May, she moved to the sales department working for Rich Tignor—and, eventually, she simply took over running the place! Any operational day to day office situation that came up, Carol has been the go-to gal. If something needed arranging, Carol has been the right woman for the job. She arranged breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, company parties, put together travel arrangements for people going out and people coming in, right along with everything else, from ordering floral arrangements to stocking the office supplies. Carol also became the “Voice of Leisure Arts”—if you ever called Leisure Arts during the holidays or inclement weather, it was Carol’s voice you heard in those recorded phone announcements!
    The retirement extravaganza kicked off with Carol’s choir group—the Sweet Adelines, singing her down the elevator…
    Carol, a bit teary-eyed, joined in to sing along.
    And we indulged in a Mexican potluck!
    Carol opened going-away gifts and told stories…
    While we ate some more!
    And then we ate a little more!
    We all wish Carol well as she ends and begins her “Life of Leisure.” She’ll be missed by one and all!
  • Sneak Peek 2: Go Crazy with Duct Tape!

    Did you like my little peek at Go Crazy with Duct Tape from last week? The folks here at Leisure Arts can hardly wait to get a look at a fresh from the printer copy of our coming soon crafts pattern book—Go Crazy with Duct Tape—designed by Patti Wallenfang and featuring 40+ projects made with Duck® brand duct tape!

    The photos I’ve seen of the projects are just way too cool! There’s simply something for everybody! Kids, tweens, teens, adults, guys and gals are sure to be inspired to get crafty…

    I know you want another little sneak peek! I can’t resist sharing:

    Suitcases will never have to be boring again once they’re detailed with Duck tape!

    Imagine transforming a resale shop vest into a “Duck-pleather” Vest!

    Get ready to head for the beach or playground with your very own custom Duck tape-embellished soccer ball and water bottle!

    And Patti’s even figured out how to combine zippers with Duck tape to create the greatest little zippered bags!

    Be the 1st! Pre-order to get your own hot off the press copy of Go Crazy with Duct Tape. We’re expecting to have books in our hands at Leisure Arts sometime around May 1st!

  • Leisure Arts Beach Party 2012

    Yesterday afternoon was our annual Leisure Arts Beach Party! We logged off the computers and headed for the Leisure Arts patio for food, games, dancing, and some good fellowship!

    Here we are in the buffet line…chicken, shrimp, catfish, hush puppies, fries, slaw, beans and all the trimmings!

    This was my plate…YUM! And aren’t you proud of me? I didn’t go back for seconds!

    Of course, while we ate, we visited!

    The DJ played tunes…(The green lawn chairs were door prizes!)

    That’s Rick, our CEO, getting ready to throw the beach ball through a hoop!

    That’s the hoop…hanging from a skytrack!

    Check out the decorations that doubled as door prizes…

    I actually won a beach towel!

    And a good time was had by all! Thanks Leisure Arts! We truly enjoyed our beautiful afternoon in the sunshine!

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