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Monday, February 28, 2011

Muffins & Inspiration



I had blueberry muffins and coffee with the Leisure Arts design ladies this morning while they shared ideas for upcoming publications (super secret ideas that I can’t tell you about yet!). It’s so cool to work in a place where I get the creative inside info and where they feed me…What a great way to start a Monday!


If you’re looking for a way to kick a favorite someone’s day off on a high note take a look at Fresh From the Farm featuring 21 food gifts from Gooseberry Patch and Leisure Arts. It includes great recipes for Farmhouse Apple Bread, Almond-Lime Bread, Chocolaty Rice Pops, a Chocolate Cheese Ball, a Bucket-of-Sand Cake, Peanut Butter Popcorn, and more. Yum! And each recipe comes with an idea for packaging to make each present perfect!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Severe Weather Season in Arkansas

This is the stairwell at Leisure Arts. We become very familiar with it during certain times of the year in Arkansas. It’s where we hide from tornadoes, and where we found ourselves last Thursday afternoon.

March through June is the official severe weather season, but, being precocious, we, of course, started early this year. Thankfully, nothing serious happened this time, just repeated tornado sirens and too many nervous folks all crowded into too small a space…

Sort of a stark environment, huh? Needs some artwork, maybe some floor pillows? We’ll have to work on that.

Hope you’re having a safe Sunday! I think we’ve got more scary weather on the way...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wedding Bells Are Ringing

We had a Wedding Shower here at Leisure Arts on Friday, for Lindsay, one of our knit & crochet editors, and her husband-to-be, Adam.

They got lots of goodies to help start their new life together…


…And we got to celebrate with lots of treats!

Check out the cake. Isn’t it pretty!

As usual, the decorations were simply beautiful thanks to some of the talented ladies that work here at Leisure Arts who combined lacy doilies, mason jars, buttons, and a couple of bouquets of flowers to create lovely, vintage-look centerpieces.

These would be easy to recreate in no time for your next event.

Congratulations Lindsay and Adam! Best wishes from all of us here at Leisure Arts!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lil’ Monsters

Have you got your own little monsters in your house or do you have a baby shower coming up? If cross stitch is your thing, you need to check out a copy of Lil’ Monster Bibs by Judith McCabe.

No teddy bears or fuzzy duckies here. Created with non-traditional themes and contemporary colors, our zany (and way too cute) little monsters are easy to stitch on purchased toddler or infant bibs with 14-count inserts and guaranteed to make meal time much more fun!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Leisurely Bird Watching

It’s a bird!

It’s birds on my dining table. Actually, salt and pepper shaker birds in a bowl on my dining table…(Aren’t they cute? My kids gave them to me for Valentine’s Day.)

And it’s birds in our books…to make and keep for your very own or give as gifts:

If you knit, you could create the Wren Twins from Little Knitted Creatures by Amy Gaines. This book features 26 amigurumi designs (26 cute little knitted creatures) including Forest Friends, Fishbowl Friends, Friendly Sea-ciety, and more. Very very cute!

For those of you that sew, the front cover of Home Stuff from designer Linda Lum DeBono shows off a simple, modern-looking appliqué bird silhouette on a pillow that would be just perfect in a contemporary setting. Featuring a variety of other home décor projects, this book promises fuss-free designs that you can create in no time.

I really like embroidery, so I’m thinking this Branching Out design from Stitch This! might be one of my favorites. From the Leisure Arts in-house designers, this book teaches you how to use simple embroidery stitches, artist’s pastels and chalk, a few beads, and some scrap felt to create this charming design plus nine others using our patterns or your own.

And that’s just a small sampling from the flock of bird designs we offer!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Welcome to the Photo Studio

I wandered into the Leisure Arts photo studio the other day, and I thought you might like to take a peek. It’s a mysterious place—dark with lots of cables running everywhere…walls with multiple layers of paint, walls with windows that can be moved around the room, and tall poles with lights at the top.

Our photostylist and photographer were shooting photos of food for an upcoming publication.

Basically, (I’m making this sound much more simple than it really is), the stylist styles the shot, the photographer sets the lights and takes the photo, and then they look at a computer screen to see if they like it or not.

In truth, our talented photography folks create magic—The magical photos you see in our publications!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spring Fashions

Are you optimistic? Do you think Spring might be coming soon? The flowers in my yard seem to think so. I’m still crocheting hats, but I guess we need to start thinking about our Spring wardrobes…And Leisure Arts has got the knit and crochet books to kick start your style after this long, cold, bundled up winter!

If you knit, check out the appropriately named Warm Weather Knits from designer Deborah Newton. You’ll find 23 breezy knit fashions to take you from Spring and into Summer. Featuring cardis, pullovers, twin sets, shawls, tank tops, a dress, and even some great bags, these designs will take you anywhere you want to go once the weather warms up.






Crocheters! Go everywhere. Do anything. You can—if your wardrobe includes the 13 innovative fashions in Crochet It. Love It. Wear It! by The Crochet Dude. Designer Drew Emborsky’s original sweaters, skits, tops, and jackets are for the woman who longs to stand out from the crowd. Create them all and be ready for life’s extraordinary moments!

And for those of us who aren’t quite ready for Drew’s hot little strapless bustier party dress…

Take a look at CrochetWear. It features a collection of classic crocheted garments from designer Ann Regis. Featuring tops, warps, vests, skirts, and hats in sizes from extra small to extra large, these 25 stylish designs will have you ready for work or play as soon as Spring gets underway.

I rhymed…oh well…

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Presidents’ Day!

Is today a holiday for you? It is for Leisure Arts folks! Imagine, a whole day to do with as I will…What do you have planned to celebrate the day?

In honor of George Washington’s birthday (which is really what Presidents’ Day is all about), I just finished mixing up a Cherry Cream Cheese Dessert for our dinner tonight. Isn’t it pretty? It tastes pretty good, too…yes, I had a sample for breakfast.

Here’s the recipe I used. It’s from a discontinued Leisure Arts book:

CHERRY CREAM CHEESE DESSERT

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling
Toasted slivered almonds to garnish

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Lightly swirl pie filling into cream cheese mixture. Spoon into serving dishes. Cover andchill. Garnish with almonds.

Yield: about 6 servings

If you’re looking for more luscious Leisure Arts desserts, you’re going to want a copy of Avner Laskin’s Celebrating Cobblers and Pies. It’s filled with lots of yummy stuff!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Me Day

Happy Sunday, everybody! I had an “All About Me” Saturday. That doesn’t happen very often. The Love-Of-My-Life was out of town for the day, and the children found more interesting folks to hang out with, so I was on my own.

Started out getting my hair cut. I don’t really enjoy the whole beauty salon concept because I’m not so much a girly girl plus they take my glasses away from me, and, being very nearsighted, I can’t actually see what the stylist is doing. It’s just a little scary.

Next stop, the bookstore. I love bookstores. While crocheting, papercrafting, antiquing (junking), watching classic movies, cooking and eating, and just staring at my family all hold important spaces in my life, reading a good book rates right in there with them. After a couple of hours in the bookstore and three new paperbacks I couldn’t resist…

I treated myself to Mexican food. I could rhapsodize over the luscious cheese, grease, sour cream, salsa, and jalapeños that I inhaled, but I won’t subject you to such torture.

From there, I moved on to shoes. I still wasn’t feeling the girly thing, but I needed brown shoes. Just maybe not the brown shoes I left with the store with…only time will tell if the shoes and I are able to coexist.

Then on to the electronics shop. Even though I’m really really a novice, I bought myself a new camera. It’s been years since I’ve had my very own camera that I didn’t have to share with husband and children. Now, I can practice up taking good blog photos. Wish me luck…

Final destination: the flea market. Have you ever walked around a flea market or antique mall? I tend to get lost in the aisles and lose all sense of time. I eventually forced myself out to the car clutching a vintage-looking Casablanca print and some aqua mason jars.

And arrived home worn out, full of nachos, and feeling sort of like I’d accomplished something, to find the Love-Of-My-Life, who greeted me with the dreaded words, “What’s for supper?”. Have you been there, done that?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Collections

Do you collect anything? It seems like most creative/crafty people collect stuff like pincushions, buttons, matchbooks, postcards, quilts, vintage jewelry, salt & pepper shakers, and who knows what all.

I, being a packrat, have several collections, but right now, I’m having a lot of fun with my buttons. Normally, my buttons (that I pick up randomly at auctions, estate sales, and flea markets) live in mason jars and bottles all lined up in a pretty row, but on one of our snow days, I got inspired.

I used scrapbooking glue dots to attach some of my buttons inside the little compartments of a cut-down vintage type tray. I like all the different colors and shapes all displayed together in a touchable format. What do you think?

The Leisure Arts design ladies have their very own button collection. Being very organized, their buttons are stored in color-coded tubs.

Tubs that I can’t resist picking through whenever I have an excuse.

Fellow button collectors—How do you display your buttons? Please share photos of your treasures (buttons or otherwise) and the clever ways you showcase them with the Leisure Arts Community on Facebook.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Basketweave Scarf

While I was stuck at home watching the snow not melting, I started crocheting a new scarf for myself—a Basketweave Scarf. I love the color of the green yarn I’m using, and this richly textured basketweave pattern is so wonderfully easy with it’s repetitive Front Post/Back Post Double Crochet stitches that I’m sure to actually finish this scarf in no time.

If you’re looking for easy skill level projects to stitch up quickly, I found this pattern plus 9 other hat & scarf designs to crochet in designer Bonnie Barker’s Noggins & Necks from Leisure Arts. These pretty sets are perfect for crocheting in a weekend or less!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

20 Years at Leisure!

We had a party yesterday! We celebrated Janie’s 20th anniversary at Leisure Arts with BBQ and cake.

Janie has worked her way around the company in those years. From pattern tester to plastic canvas production assistant, to charting plastic canvas and cross stitch, she had a hand in it. Next, she took on scrapbooking, helping out in our Design Department, and coordinating tradeshows. From there, she found a place for her skills in the Art Department. Now, she’s settled in Prepress. And she’s been a most appreciated asset in every position! (Forgive me, Janie, if I’ve left anything out!)

Congratulations Janie! Thank you for all your hard work over the years.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Last Minute Winter Hats

The groundhog may not have seen his shadow on Feb. 2 (indicating an early spring), but I missed three days of work last week because of snow! To me, that means there’s still time to make hats and wear them this winter…

Have you seen the three newest and cutest Leisure Arts knit/crochet hat books?

Celebrity Slouchy Beanies for the Family to Knit or Crochet

Got stars in your eyes, teenagers in your house, or little kids with cold ears? My teenage daughters really like the hats the celebrities are wearing these days—those casual-yet-confident slouchy beanies worn by lots of big movie, television, and rock stars when they’re out and about. You can knit or crochet your own with these 14 patterns by Lisa Gentry (7 to crochet in one book and 7 to knit in the other. Too fun!

In All Caps!

You gotta love this collection of crocheted headgear from designer Drew Emborsky, also known as The Crochet Dude, famous for his wildly popular blog, magazine features, books, and television appearances. His six designs—each perfect for the woman who loves original style.

I can’t wait to get started on my last minute winter hats, and it’s never to soon to start stitching up a few extra hats for charity!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CHA

Check out our booth!

A bunch of our Leisure Arts folks traveled to Los Angeles on January 29-Feburary 1 for the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) Winter Conference and Trade Show. CHA is where designers, publishers, and manufacturers come together to show off their new and coming soon products to the people who buy them to sell in your favorite craft stores and websites.

Be sure to browse our website for our newest releases!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine’s Update

I just had to update my Valentine’s Day blog! Can you imagine my excitement when I saw this cart of luscious chocolate cupcakes coming down the hall? Anne, one of our in-house designers, made cupcakes yesterday (on her day off) and bought them to us for Valentine’s Day break time. Wasn’t that sweet of her? She even made the toppers herself!

We work with some wonderfully thoughtful people here at Leisure Arts. Thank you, Anne!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

One of our designers found this wonderful collection of vintage valentines hidden away here at Leisure Arts. The dates on them range from 1939 to 1945 and the sentiments they express are just too precious:

“Dear Valentine! If a gal like me would send you a line, would you ‘LET-TER’ be your Valentine?”

“My heart is yours just for the asking; my pledge insures, love that is lasting.”

“Hello Honey! It’s fun to greet you and nice to say, ‘You just grow sweeter every day!’”

“I’m up in the air over you—my Valentine! You take my breath away!”

“My heart will dance, my eyes will shine…if you will be my Valentine!”

“I love you dearly, but I’ll need a lifetime, Sweetheart, Mine, to tell the million reasons why—so be my Valentine!”

Hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with hearts, flowers, chocolate, and maybe even a little bling!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Just a Reminder

Don’t forget what tomorrow is! Better still...why not start celebrating today?!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Welcome to the Pincushion-of-the-Month Club

All crafty people gotta have pins, needles, and other pointy objects, right? If you’re like me, those little stickers are all over the place, so in the interest of organizing our creativity, I’m instituting the Pincushion-of-the-Month Club. Each month, I hope to share an idea for a new pincushion to add to your collection or to give as a gift to another crafty friend.

For February, I found this really quick and easy design using red fabric and white buttons (just in case you need a last minute Valentine’s present). The base is an old-fashioned fruit jar, canning jar, mason jar…whatever you want to call it, with a lid and band. (I found my vintage jars at a flea market!)

1. Cut a circle of fabric a little bigger than your jar lid.

2. Place a handful of fiberfill on top of the jar lid.

3. Place fabric on top of fiberfill.

4. Slide band down over fabric and lid to hold the fabric in place, and hot glue fabric to bottom of lid.

5. Fill the jar base with buttons, a mini sewing kit, or any other goodie your heart desires and screw on the lid.

6. Done!

This project took like 5 minutes to make—no time! (It took me longer than that to take a photo of it.) And it’s practical as well as pretty. Make one quick and share it with the Leisure Arts Community on Facebook.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hip 2 B Square with Crocheted Granny Squares

I’ve been experimenting with crocheting granny squares again lately, mostly in cotton yarn, and mostly by turning them into potholders or dishcloths because they’re easy projects to carry around from breakroom to waiting room to craft group. Not particularly inspiring projects perhaps, but small scale has been all my schedule would allow for in the past month or so. Although…

It’s possible that I have found a new and much more appealing option. Have you taken a look at the new Hip 2 B Square series from designer Melissa Leapman yet? There are three books, and each one includes 15 mix-and-match squares to inspire your creativity. The squares are even interchangeable between the three books (which include Totes & Bags, Throws 4 Home, and Baby Wraps) for a total of 45 squares to choose from and 15 inspiration projects.

I’m really finding myself enamored with the Totes & Bags book. Guess I’ve kind of got a baglady thing going ’cause a tote bag (currently filled with knit projects to edit, two books I’m reading, a granny square in progress, some empty shopping bags, two notebooks containing info necessary to my life, a salt shaker, my e-reader, and a auction catalog) travels with me everywhere I go. I often trade out totes, so I may have to expand my crocheted square possibilities and get started on the tote on the front cover.

You just can’t help liking Melissa Leapman’s designs. If you want to learn more about her, check out her bio.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pretty Views

Isn’t this a pretty view? This is what you see from the front door of Leisure Arts. I’ve spent much much time being distracted by this panorama.

See this pretty view? It’s even more distracting…This is the Quilt Dept. hallway at Leisure Arts—filled with quilts that will be featured in upcoming publications. I want to take them all home with me…

How lucky am I to get to enjoy such beauty every day?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cupcake Stands

I like these domed stands/pedestals that I discovered over in our design department. I’m not sure what our design ladies have planned for them, but I bet they’re destined to be photographed for a book that comes out later this year.

What would you display on these stands if they were yours? I keep, for some reason, envisioning cupcakes—three of them in all their iced glory, one on each stand! They seem, to me, to be the perfect size for a cupcake. Or, maybe I’m just hungry….

Maybe I should pull out my copy of Celebrating Cupcakes and Muffins. I’m sure one of the 76 recipes in this cookbook from the Leisure Arts could satisfy my cupcake cravings.




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