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  • 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!

  • Caps, caps everywhere!

    Caps, caps everywhere! I am inspired.

    It seems there is no end to all of the choices we have for the caps we will wear and share this year. No doubt about it, it’s a favorite project to knit or crochet around here. Every year Leisure Arts employees donate their time to “Knitting for Noggins”, making caps in every spare moment and having a great time doing it. I dare say there are often a few competitions among friends to see who can make the most and just to beat last year’s contribution.

    Knitting for Noggins

    We have long enjoyed participating in numerous charity efforts, both through the personal involvement of our employees and through the many books and leaflets we publish. One of the first ones I remember was “Caps for Kids”, started in the San Francisco Bay area by Bonnie Green in 1984. Bonnie owned the Yarn Country stores and suggested to her customers that they make hats with their scrap yarns and Yarn Country would find an organization that could use them. The program grew by leaps and bounds. Across the country thousands of hats were being given to needy children.

    In 1987, TNNA and the Hand Knitting Association sponsored a national hat design contest to generate new patterns. Leisure Arts published the winning designs and proceeds from the sale of the publication also went to help support “Caps for Kids”. What a great initiative, and knitters and crocheters are no less generous today.

    The cap fever I’m seeing isn’t limited to the work place. Neither is the act of giving by so many stitchers. Last weekend, I visited my mother. I entered her home to find an array of knitted caps and scarves of all kinds and colors. Yes, she had been in her yarn stash and it was wonderful. Kids and grandkids were invited to choose their favorites and the happy selection and modeling began! Now she’s starting on crochet styles. Lucky me! I’m counting on getting at least one of them.

    If you like to crochet, check out Drew Embrosky’s, All In Caps. My personal favorite is the pick slouchy beret on the cover. It doesn’t always turn out that my picks are on the cover but this time it did!

    If knitting is your preference, get into Deborah Norville’s book to find the pattern for these little cool-colored jewels.

    Caps are great gift ideas and ‘tis the season for giving so grab your knitting needles, crochet hooks and join in the fun. The recipients will love them. Be sure and treat yourself to a few – you’ll be warm and stylin’ too!

  • Stylish Texture, 8 crochet afghans

    On my way home for the evening, I walked past the lunchroom where a beautiful wave of color and texture stopped me in my tracks. I had to stop for a closer look and of course, to touch. Draped across a large table was a group of crochet afghans displayed together that made such a pretty picture I had to share it! No one was around at that precise moment but I soon learned these afghans were all made from patterns in the new Leisure Arts leaflet, Stylish Texture, 8 crochet afghans. I want them all, but realistically I have to start with one and think my choice will be the one called “Tranquility”. Soft, puffy popcorn stitches made in Vanna’s Choice™ Baby – the color: Sweet Pea. I even like the yarn color name, so it’s decided.

    Stylish Textured Afghans

    At least once a month, our editors have a show & tell where they share all of the finished projects from new books that are on their way to the printer. It’s a tradition that everyone enjoys and an opportunity for learning about all sorts of arts and crafts. The room was filled with a variety of other handcrafted items too, in the preparation for the event to be held the next morning – but this time, I was drawn in early by the crochet afghans and the color palette.

    4464 Stylish Textured Afghans
    Fantastic Yarn!

    The back inside cover of the afghan book lists all of the yarns our pattern testers used for photo models. If you love them like I did, check out this handy reference. Of course you can choose your own favorites for these stylish crochet patterns designed by Barbara Shaffer.

  • Patricia Lee | The Wrapping Scarf Revolution

    What a thrill to be blogging for Leisure Arts! It has been such a pleasure to work with the wonderful staff to get The Wrapping Scarf Revolution published and I have become thoroughly convinced that the world would be a much better place if we all had the lovely manners of the southern ladies down in Little Rock.

    Yesterday was a beautiful crisp autumn day here in Connecticut. My friend Tracy invited some friends over for lunch and I decided to bring some mandu which are tasty Korean dumplings. You may have tried Japanese or Chinese dumplings which are similar to mandu but I highly recommend you try Korean dumplings if you ever get the chance.
    Mandu is delicious steamed or boiled in a soup, but for Tracy's, I decided to pan fry in healthy grapeseed oil, so that the ladies could enjoy a fun finger food. To make things easy for the hostess, I love to bring food that is already nicely displayed in a dish. Transporting odd shaped dishes of food is a cinch with a wrapping scarf. I was also bringing some cookies in a separate covered container so I stacked the mandu on top of the cookies and wrapped it all up with a wrapping scarf. I used the lotus wrap which you can see demonstrated in this video.
    We had a ball catching up with each other's most recent sagas of childrearing disasters and workplace woes. The mandu was a big hit and I'd love to share the recipe with you sometime in a future post! Until next time, happy wrapping!

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