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  • Leisure Arts at CHA


    The Craft & Hobby Association trade show is underway this week in Anaheim, California, which means excitement for crafters and needleworkers everywhere. Designers, manufacturers, and publishers come together to introduce new products and ideas that are sure to keep the creative juices flowing. Many of them are already available in stores and on websites that are quick to get the latest in front of you.

    A few fun highlights:

    Our editor, Susan Sullivan, participated in the consumer show as part of the Craft Yarn Council of America team. All around the booth, demonstrators were showing all kinds of things you can do with yarn, including teaching the obvious things you can – knit and crochet! The crowd was loving it. Susan entertained the imagination by showing how you can dye your own yarn with kool-aid! That’s right …kool-aid...it makes such beautiful colors and it’s oh, so easy. Click here for your how-to and join in the fun. (Note: Kids will love doing this with you.)

    One of our very favorite designers is Mary Taylor – that’s “Out of the Box with Everything Mary” – whom you may know from her videos on Crochetsoiree.com. She had a colorful booth chock full of super bags and organizers that she designed. As you can see, her ‘make it & take it’ was quite a hit. There was a whole lot of embellishing going on. You can start with a tote bag just like your neighbors, but with an idea or two from Mary - you’re sure to end up with something that’s everything you.

    More highlights to come soon. Only two more days and lots to see and share.

  • Christmas at Good Morning America

    When my publicist Inna Shamis told me back in November to clear my calendar and save the date for an appearance on Good Morning America, I could hardly believe my ears. I had never even been on local tv before and live national tv in front of millions of people a few days before Christmas was hardly the way I imagined making my television debut.


    Now Inna knows better than anyone that our budget is super tight with no room for ANY extraneous expenses. So when she strongly recommended hiring a media coach, I reluctantly listened and went for a morning of coaching with former MTV casting director Amanda Schatz Kitaeff. Boy am I glad I did. “More snap!”, she ordered. “Too serious! Smile like you’re on a third date.”, she chided. I felt like I walked away from that session with precious gems of media wisdom and felt ready for some real practice. With just under 2 months to prepare for GMA, Inna and I shifted into high gear and got bookings on no fewer than 5 local tv shows so I’d have plenty of practice before D-Day.

    D-Week finally arrived and I was told I needed to be in the ABC studio at 5:30am for my 8:30 segment. That didn’t sound too bad until I started to count backward to what that meant in terms of the alarm clock. Figuring an hour and a half for driving and parking in NYC and an hour to get ready, that meant that I had to be up at 3am! Plus we were having snow forecasts throughout the week which could mean treacherous driving conditions. I was talking this over with my sister Sarah and we started brainstorming ways I might avoid looking like a zombie when I finally went on the air. The next morning, she called me breathlessly and told me she had a great idea. As a Christmas gift, she was going to put me up at the Westin Hotel in Times Square! That meant an extra hour and a half of sleep plus no bad weather worries. Aren’t sisters the BEST?


    I had been to Times Square many times before, but driving past the ABC building the night before D-Day, knowing that I was going to be on those massive tv screens the next morning, was both absolutely thrilling and completely intimidating. I took a deep breath and decided to trust the pros at GMA. If they thought I could do it, then they must be right! I said a little prayer and then headed off to 32nd St. with my family for dinner at Kunjip, our all time favorite Korean restaurant. We finished off the night with some Pinkberry fro yo which was right next door, then said our goodbyes as my husband whisked our boys home for school the next day and I headed for the hotel to get some sleep.


    The next day I arrived at ABC studios at 5:30am sharp with my big pink suitcase full of props. After checking in with security, I was led to the green room which was nicely supplied with breakfast goodies and plenty of hot coffee. At about 5:45 I got a call from Darcy, the amazing producer who booked me on the show. She sounded nervous and asked me where I was. Someone apparently forgot to tell her I had arrived and she was worried that I hadn’t shown up! She met me in the green room and led me to the hair and makeup ladies who were wonderful and soon had me perfectly coiffed and all decked out in falsies (eyelashes that is!). They even matched my lipgloss with my bright pink vest, a purchase inspired by Amanda’s advice to “dress more fabulous!”.





    Next was set up and rehearsal with a short briefing with my host Sam Champion. In case you’re wondering, yes, he is every bit the charming Southern gentleman he is on tv and boy, is he ever handsome! There were a ton of people in the studio with the audience in the background and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir set up on the other side of the room. Right next to my table was the Food Network star Sarah Moulton with her selection of great holiday cookbooks. Still the atmosphere was relaxed and the crew and cast just seemed to go with the flow.




    After a few last minutes touch ups to the table display, I was as ready as I would ever be. I took a few deep breaths to relax and get the jitters out and before long Sam was segueing out of one story and into mine. We were live! My book, The Wrapping Scarf Revolution, was having its close-up and we started talking and wrapping and bantering. This was the first time Sam had wrapped with fabric and it would have been a disaster if his demo came out terrible. He didn’t falter for a moment and wrapped like a champion (sorry I couldn’t resist!). After a commercial break, Sam was sweet enough to highlight my stuff one more time.







    When the show was over at 9am, I got to mingle with the cast a bit and even met Ali Wentworth, the hilarious comedienne wife of George Stephanopoulos. I had met JuJu Chang at an event a couple of months back but was so happy to be able to congratulate her in person for landing her new job on GMA.



    After the show, I got a call from my office with news that The Wrapping Scarf Revolution had immediately sold out on Amazon and the ranking had shot up to #2 in the Craft/Papercraft section. In fact, the book kept selling despite not being in stock and it took Amazon nearly 2 weeks to get it back in stock. I took that as proof that the segment was indeed a small success and am so excited to hopefully take my little wrapping scarf revolution to other shows in the new year. Did any of you happen to catch the show? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
  • Trade Shows and Warmer Weather too!

    California, here we come! Twice this month we’ll make our way to the west coast. The TNNA trade show is taking place January 9th – 11th in Long Beach. The CHA trade show will take place from January 24th – 27th in Anaheim. There is also a consumer show in Anaheim on January 22nd & 23rd, so there’s something for everyone, whether you’re shopping for yourself or buying for your retail business.

    We’ve been busy packing up to go. The halls have been lined with books, posters and more to ship and we just can’t wait to share all of the exciting new products. (We’re also okay with heading west for a little bit of warm weather too; it’s cold and snowing here.)

    The highly anticipated Encyclopedia of Sewing by the Kooler Design Studio will make its debut. It’s the fifth book in the popular needlework encyclopedia series published by Leisure Arts. The 240 page book is filled with the history of sewing, basic techniques, custom details, quilting, embellishments, and more. This book is a required addition to every sewing library.

    Terrie Lee Steinmeyer, one of today’s most talented cross stitch designers introduces a super collection of over 140 designs for all occasions in The Best of Terri Lee Steinmeyer. We’ve published Terrie’s designs since 1985; her first leaflet (number 402), More Than Samplers, was a best seller and many more have followed. Her new book is sure to be another favorite.

    Get ready to play and learn some new tricks from some of the hippest scrapbookers in the biz. Creating Keepsakes 2007 Scrapbooker of the Year, Elizabeth Kartchner, has assembled an all-star cast of innovative designers in 52 More Scrapbooking Challenges. This book is packed with inspiring ideas!

    CrochetWear brings a terrific collection of crochet garments that will appeal to the urban woman and the rest of the world. The 25 classic fashions are crocheted in yarns from chunky to light-weight.

    We hope to see you at TNNA and CHA. If you can’t make it, be sure and check our website for a full review of everything from the comfort of home. We’ll share all the excitement this month right here.

  • Little Heartfelt Things, Big Smiles

    Getting ready for Christmas meant the usual shopping frenzy - making the lists and checking them twice. And once everything was accounted for I threw myself into the wrapping marathon. There are some parts of that activity that I really like to do, some I confess I don’t. I like ribbons of all kinds, so bow-making ranks on the “like” list. Making individual gift tags also goes on the “like” list. No pre-made tags for me; it’s so much more fun to pull out the papers and pens and make personal ones. It’s quick, easy and importantly, relaxing to grab some creative time in the middle of all the hustle and bustle.

    Once all of the papers, trims & other craft supplies were out and strewn everywhere, I was inspired to do more with it all. So, at the last minute I decided to create a mini-album for 3 young nieces and a daughter. I didn’t have a grand plan, I just jumped in. They turned out to be quite a hit. It was great seeing their delight in receiving little gifts made especially for them. I really think I’m the one who received the greatest gift - the time spent. Going through photos to find shots that could be used meant reflecting on each of them. Cutting and gluing, figuring out what could be done with little snippets of left over ribbons, brads and what have you was some of the best holiday time for me -- just thinking about the special people in our lives and doing something special for them.

    It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate, it doesn’t have to be a museum quality work of art …it needs only to be a little heartfelt thing, handmade by you and big smiles and hugs will come your way!

  • 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

    TO MAKE NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS…. OR NOT? HMMMMMM….

    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 health.msn.com 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 …..so 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, TwoPeasinabucket.com, 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 TheLeisureBoutique.com 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!

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