Greetings from Melody!

Hi Everyone!

Just thought I’d pop in and give you an update on what I’ve been up to.  Believe it or not, this life-long California girl has moved to Texas, and is enjoying life in the Austin area.  The bunnies have joined me and are happy and healthy, and hubby will be joining us soon, too.  I can’t wait!

I have a wonderful job that I started in February, and am super excited to share that I’m working in a creative industry again. I’m around fabric, quilting, and other creative people, and I love it!  I recently attended the Spring Quilt Market in Salt Lake City, Utah, and had a great time seeing “old” friends, meeting new ones, and taking in all the gorgeous fabrics.


I’m really enjoying my new home state so far. My top 5 favorite things thus far?

  1. Spending time with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. I really appreciate their hospitality!
  2. Exploring a fun and beautiful new area. I love the mixture of big city and country!
  3. The outdoors: Austin is in Texas Hill country, and it’s lovely. Where I’m living and working there are gently rolling hills, gorgeous trees, wildflowers, wildlife.  It’s perfect for me since I love nature.
  4. The food – it’s amazing!  And I’ve just scratched the surface of the dining options. Yum!
  5. The people. People are friendly and courteous, which is great by me . :)

Here are some photos from my first four months in Austin.  I hope you enjoy them.

My niece and I at her brother’s 7th birthday party

The rotunda at the beautiful capital building

The cutest mini donkeys – they’re on my way to work

I’m lucky to live near a seriously delicious BBQ joint – The Salt Lick in Driftwood

Some friendly cows, in a field near where I work. (Yes, I was behind a fence)

The wildflowers have been putting on quite a show since spring began – I LOVE them!

These pictures were taken in March

A gorgeous day in April, on the way back from Wimberly


Yep, I’m still quilting.  I’ve completed several projects since my last blog post, including these:

My first attempt at a Dresden plate and applique – eek!

Another quilting first – following a pattern and using flannel. The flannel was a bear to work with!

On a more positive note, I love how this mini heart quilt turned out!

The quilt I made for my nephew’s birthday – he’s an artist, thus the color palette.
(The palette portion is comprised of two panels, lest you think I see all those tiny colored rectangles together! LOL!)

The green side of the quilt, which he likes the best since it looks like a Minecraft Creeper.

I love how this one turned out.  That pinky purple is my favorite color!

My quilting skills are improving bit by bit – hurray!

I hope you’re all well and happy, and hope you’ll comment and let me know how you’ve been and what you’ve been up to.

Warm regards,

Posted in food, life in general, quilting Tagged , |

2015-2016 Art Supply Drive: Please lend a hand!


Greetings, everyone!  I hope you’re enjoying your summer!  Though many of us are still right in the middle of our summer fun, school will be starting back up soon for many and Back to School sales are in stores now.  As you may know, I teach art journaling to at-risk elementary school children in two Southern California schools. I donate my time and gather donations from kind folks who’d like to help provide my 4th and 5th grade students with a positive form of self-expression and art materials and instruction that their schools can’t provide.

I’ve been teaching these classes for over a dozen years now, and have taught nearly 700 children so far.  I will teach six classrooms full of students in the 2015-2016 school year (approximately 180 kids) and would really appreciate it if you donate supplies or gift cards to help provide the supplies we’ll need to make it happen. Art journaling helps the kids in countless ways, from improved motor skills and conflict resolution to improved communication skills and self-esteem.

If you are unfamiliar with my program, and would like to learn more, you’ll find these links helpful.

Program overview: click here
Most recent Art Journal Instruction post (posted on the Ellison Education website): click here
Most recent end-of-year Art Journal Shows post (also on the Ellison Education website): click here

custom made wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses at

Ready to do a good deed?  Here is a list of what I’ll need in order to bring art journaling to my new students:

70 blank journals

70 pairs of scissors
140 glue sticks – any brand
70 packs of Crayola crayons (8-color packs)
Ribbon (at least 1/2″ wide, please)
Decorative Papers/Patterned Paper
Glitter Paper
Business Envelopes with windows
Playing Cards
Joss Paper

If you can contribute by sending some of these items, or by providing gift cards so I can purchase some of the needed supplies, I would be most appreciative!  (I usually shop at Office Max/Office Depot, Target, and Michaels) Alternately, if you’d like to send money via Paypal I can provide you with my Payee information.

Please note: I don’t expect any one person to supply the entire dollar amount for the journals, all the glue sticks, etc.  You’re welcome to donate in any amount or quantity. Every dollar and glue stick counts!  :]

The deadline for me to receive the supplies is August 20, 2015. If you’d like to donate, please contact me here and I’ll send you the mailing address or Paypal address.

Please let me know if you have any questions, dear readers, and thank you in advance for your consideration!

Warm regards – and thanks,

Posted in art, art journaling, art supplies, helping others Tagged , |

Morning Beauty


Happy Weekend!  Just thought I’d pop in and share a few photos I took earlier in the week.  I’m trying to get back into a morning walk routine – not only for the exercise, but so I can also enjoy fresh air, birdsong and nature regularly. That said, rising earlier and getting out for a walk was particularly well-rewarded on Tuesday.  It was a foggy morning, and as I walked in a particular area I was treated to the sight of dozens of dew-laden spider webs. What a stunning sight!


I also saw some thrill-seeking adrenaline-junkie snails climbing up these dried brush stems – a good four or five feet off the ground.  It made me giggle to see those daring snails.


And yes, the California drought continues but (plant) life goes on.

I’ve been missing doing photography lately – particularly nature photography.  I hope to get back to this beloved pastime soon, and will be sure to share the best images here.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Warm regards,

Posted in art, nature, photography Tagged |

Quilt #4 – A Baby Quilt for Caleb

Quilt #4 - A Baby Quilt for Caleb

Hi everyone!  I hope you’re all well and happy. Work has been keeping me very busy – both in the office and with traveling – but I’m still working on my creative projects and thought I’d pop in and share my my most recently completed quilt.

I actually finished this quilt about a month ago, but I haven’t posted it until now because I made it for my newest nephew, Caleb, and didn’t want to share the quilt until after he’d arrived and the gift had been given.  I’m so happy that my adorable little nephew arrived safe and sound!  He’s the 14th of my nieces and nephews (!), and I love him so.

Caleb’s parents are total Disney fans – Lilo & Stitch is one of their favorite movies. They went with a Finding Nemo-ish theme in the nursery and blue is a favored family color.  I decided on fabrics that are a nod to Finding Nemo and Lilo & Stitch without being super obvious/licensed prints.

Quilt #4 - A Baby Quilt for Caleb

My thoughts on the different fabrics – starting with the shark/fish print:
1. “Fish are friends – not food!”
2. This orange is a fishy color, really makes the blues pop!
3. This print looks subtly Hawaiian-esque to me, referencing Lilo & Stitch
4. This fabric looks like fish bubbles, and I believe these two colors are a close match for Stitch

I used my Sizzix Big Shot and a square die to cut out all the squares (I believe it was this die) quickly and easily.  Then I moved on to the piecing and quilting.  I kept the actual quilting simple – I sewed simple, horizontal wavy lines to look like ocean waves.

Quilt #4 - A Baby Quilt for Caleb

The back of the quilt is a dark blue version of the orange fabric (fine/small dots) , and I used it to bind the quilt as well – giving the front of the quilt a slightly darker frame.  I love how this baby quilt turned out.  It was made with so much love, and is the first quilt I’ve given as a gift.  :]  I hope little Caleb uses it and treasures it in the coming years.

Until next time…

Warm regards,

Posted in family, quilting, sewing Tagged , , , |

My Article in Where Women Create Magazine

Where Women Create article
I’m pleased to share that my creative space and article have been published in the May/June/July 2015 issue of Where Women Create magazine.  I’ve come to know the magazine’s creator and publisher, Jo Packham, through my work at Sizzix – what an amazing, talented, and stylish woman!  I’m honored to be included in her beautiful publication.  The article runs from page 82 to page 89.

Given that my creative space is tucked into our small apartment my “studio” space isn’t nearly as grand as many of those featured in WWCreate, but I’m hoping readers will find the article and photos interesting and inspirational nonetheless.

If you’re new to my blog, and have found your way here through the magazine and article, welcome!  I’ve been focusing on quilting lately, but have a wide variety of posts in my archives, including:

DIY projects, including jewelry and more!
Photographic Tours of places I’ve visited (Europe, Peru, Ireland, New York City, New Orleans, etc.)

You can learn a bit more about me on the About Page, and read about the book I published here.  I have photos of my creative work in the Gallery, including photography, mixed media, collage, and art journals.  Information about my art journaling program for at-risk kids (including a brief video) can be found here.

Whether you’re a long-time blog follower or a new visitor, I thank you for joining me on this creative journey called life – and for stopping by!

Warm regards,

Posted in art, art journaling, art supplies, writing Tagged , , |

Quilt #3 – Jelly Roll Race Quilt


Hi there!  I hope you’re all having a great week thus far.

Quilt Mania continues!  I just finished my third quilt – a Jelly Roll Race Quilt.  (I watched this video featuring the fabulous Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Co. to help me assemble it.) The idea behind this quilt is that you use a pre-packaged “jelly roll” of fabric, pull the 2 1/2″ wide strips off in the existing order, and are able to sew the quilt top together very quickly. Some quilt guilds even get together and race to see who can finish their tops the fastest! Given that I’m still pretty new to sewing and quilting, this quilt top took longer to put together than it would for some, but I still finished it in an afternoon.


Fabric: I used batiks – Hummingbird Bali Pop by Hoffman, and Oh. My. Word.  This jelly roll combines two of my favorite colors, purple and teal/turquoise, and I LOVE it!  As I was sewing I found myself focusing on little snippets of the quilt – places where different colors and patterns converged – and I was so happy. I enjoyed drinking the fabrics in, and know this quilt will be a favorite!

Thread & Quilting: I opted to quilt with a variegated cotton thread by Coates.  The thread is a variety of purples, and I quilted in a meandering vertical pattern.  I need lots more practice with the actual quilting.  This one looks like I was engaging in drunken quilting (I wasn’t!), so I’m hoping the beautiful colors and patterns of the fabric distract from the erratic quilting. ;]


“Drunken” quilting – after the quilt was washed


Other details: The backing fabric is Dahlia Blooms – one of the fabrics included in the Jelly Roll package.  The finished size of the quilt is 49″ x 62″. I chose to machine bind this quilt working with 3″ binding strips to avoid any gaps as I sewed, and this did work as far as adequate coverage and overall tidiness, but the extra fabric is a bit excessive so I’ll probably try to perfect machine quilting with 2 3/4″ binding strips and a s-l-o-w-e-r pace.

I may try to work on a few smaller projects next to use up some of the batting scraps I have.  Waste not want not, right? :]

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at my newest quilt.  Until next time!

Warm regards,

Posted in quilting, sewing Tagged , , |

Quilt #2 – Tumbler Pattern


Hi everyone, Happy Spring!  Just thought I’d share my newest quilt with you, made in a Tumbler Pattern.  I finished it over the weekend, and love how it turned out.  With each quilt I make I’m trying new things: new piecing shapes, quilting patterns, color combinations and more!

Piecing shapes: I used the Big Shot Pro and a Tumbler Die to cut the pieces, which made the cutting process quick and easy, and it didn’t take long to sew this quilt top together since the Tumbler pieces are so large – about 8″ (finished).  I also think these large quilt pieces are perfect for showing off the gorgeous Kaffe Fassett prints!


Quilting pattern: I tried a meandering wavy line for the actual quilting, and also tried my hand at machine binding this quilt.  It’s a bit wonky-looking close up, but I think that if I keep practicing this technique – and go more slowly while sewing – my bindings will look “nice enough” while still saving me the hours and hours of hand stitching on the back of the quilt’s binding.


Color combinations: This quilt is a riot of color, which is a departure for me.  I love color, but often use neutrals as a base with a pop of color when creating.  Using all these patterns and colors together has definitely pushed some of my boundaries, and I’m so glad!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at quilt #2.  The quilt top for quilt #3 is already complete, and I’ll be sure to share it once it’s quilted and the binding is complete.

Warm regards,

Posted in crafts, quilting, sewing Tagged , , |

My First Quilt!

My First Quilt!
Greetings, dear readers! I’ve been a busy bee at work, and have been spending much of my free time learning how to quilt and sew. I’m having a great time learning these new skills, and am pleased to have a finished project to share with you. I just completed my very first quilt, and though it’s far from perfect I’m very pleased with how it turned out – especially for a first quilt from a newbie sewist.

My First Quilt!

As you may recall I purchased the fabric for the quilt top at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in late October, which I attended for work. I decided on a simple pattern using squares, and used my Sizzix Big Shot and a Square Die (Sizzix has square dies in different sizes) to cut the fabric shapes, which was quick and easy.  You can cut up to 8 layers of cotton fabric at a time using a Sizzix Steel Rule Die and I didn’t have to worry about cutting imprecise shapes, which might’ve happened if I’d used a rotary cutter and a mat.

My First Quilt!

The backing fabric was purchased at Flying Geese Quilt Store in Tustin, and I used over a hundred safety pins when basting all the layers together for quilting – yikes!  Some people send their quilt tops out to be quilted by long arm quilters, but I wanted to try and do it myself and quilted it on my little machine at home. I used a simple box quilting pattern within each fabric square, and though it was time consuming it worked well.  Bonus – all the sewing was good practice for me!  This quilt will be used as a lap quilt, or used for a bit of extra warmth on the bed, though it’s not big enough to cover our entire queen size bed.

My First Quilt!

I’ve already started my second quilt, a Tumbler pattern featuring super colorful fabrics by Kaffe Fassett. Kaffe Fassett is an artist who works in many mediums – paint, knitting, quilting, mosaics and more – and I’m enamored of his fabrics. I’m actually reading his autobiography, Dreaming in Color, too.  Consider me a fan!  Using such a riot of color and pattern in a project isn’t typical for me, so this is an “expanding my horizons quilt” – we’ll see how it turns out.

I hope all is well with you, dear readers. Until next time!

Warm regards,

Posted in quilting, sewing Tagged , , |

My Trip to Central Europe – Part 2

Greetings!  Here’s Part 2 of my November trip to Central Europe.  Today’s post will include my time in Prague, Karlovy Vary, and London.

Day 4 – Prague, Czech Republic

Our tour’s last stop was Prague, and it’s a truly stunning city.  It was barely touched by bombs during the second World War, so it’s a wonderful place to see historic architecture dating back centuries.


After checking in at the hotel our group took the streetcar down to the Charles Bridge.


Infant Jesus 1

I also visited the church of the Infant Baby Jesus, whose altar is over-the-top ornate. The statue of the baby Jesus has hundreds of lush, ornate outfits, and the church is a pilgrimage destination for many.


That evening we had a group dinner at a local restaurant. The food wasn’t spectacular, but a lively older gentleman played music (keyboards, trumpet, violin and vocals!) and it was a fun outing with my tour mates.

Day 5 – Touring Prague (Last day of the official tour)

We started our day at Prague Castle up on the hill. We only saw a tiny bit of the castle complex, but what I did see was fantastic! We started at St. Vitus Cathedral, took in the changing of the guard, and looked out over the river and the city.


St. Vitus Cathedral’s main entrance


St. Vitus Cathedral interior.  Wow.  Just wow!


There were at least 6 stunning windows this size and shape featuring colorful scenes.  


Another view of St. Vitus Cathedral


The changing of the guard on Castle Hill


We also visited Old Town Prague, and saw the famous astronomical clock. The square there has a bit of a carnival feel, with live music, horse drawn carriages, and street performers – oh, and loads of tourists. I wandered the streets and did a bit of shopping that afternoon.


Closer shot of a section of the astronomical clock

Czech Pub

That night I grabbed dinner in a pub that seemed to be a hangout for locals – Restaurace U Parlamentu. People drinking beer (Czech’s love beer!), smoking, and visiting with friends. I have an aversion to cigarette smoke, but put that aside in order to take in a non-touristy scene.


I had Czech goulash with dumplings, and was super curious about the table of eight older men who were drinking, smoking, and visiting at the table next to me. I wish I’d been able to tell what they were talking about – who they were. :]

Day 6 – Old Town Prague

After sleeping in and grabbing some breakfast, I took the streetcar to Old Town and visited a few antique stores. I also visited the lovely Tyn Cathedral and the Old Jewish Cemetery.


Such history…


The fall leaves were just gorgeous



Later in the afternoon I crossed the Charles Bridge again and revisited Lower Town, and then had a picnic in my room for dinner.


Lower town


Hotel room picnic with food from the market near the hotel…

Day 7 – Karlovy Vary


For my last full day in the Czech Republic I signed up with a local tour company and took a day trip to Karlovy Vary. Approximately 2 hours away, this town is known as a bath town because of the numerous mineral hot springs. People come from all over to take in the healing waters, and I tasted water from at least four of the springs. They didn’t taste too good, but I like the idea of improved health. :]


One of the springs we drank from…


Our tour meandered through the town, stopping at many of the springs and the geyser. We had lunch, and then had time to wander along.KV_hotel

I saw the Grand Hotel Pupp, which was in Queen Latifah’s movie “Last Holiday” and the Bond film “Casino Royale” – fun. Mostly I just wandered, and drank in the sights of the lovely town. It was such a treat to be there and to see another part of the Czech Republic.


I loved this horsie – so cute and sweet natured! :]



Happy to be spending time in Karlovy Vary…

Back in Prague, I saw the astronomical clock do its “on the hour” thing again, and had a tasty dinner before heading back to the hotel, packing, and preparing for my trip home.

Day 8 – Missed connecting flight and my night in England


So, yeah. I was supposed to be home Saturday evening. Unfortunately, I missed my connecting flight at Heathrow in London. Booking agents are supposed to allow one and a half hours between flights, and I only had one hour and ten. I didn’t get to the next terminal (you’re bused to other terminals), through security and to my gate in time, so I stayed overnight in London. I wish I could’ve gone to London proper and seen more than the airport area, but by the time I got to my hotel it was too late and it just wasn’t in the cards.


However, after breakfast on Sunday I did go for a walk in the area surrounding the hotel. I saw some residential streets, visited a park where some adorable kids were playing soccer, and got a tiny bit of a glimpse of life in England on a Sunday morning. The missed flight isn’t something I would’ve chosen, but I made the best of it and saw yet another tiny bit of the land of some of my ancestors.


Sunday at the park…


A cute front garden in the residential area…


Standing on English “soil” – so cool!

Summing It All Up

I really enjoyed all the countries and places I visited. I had the best time, and am so thankful for all I did and saw! I’ve just provided highlights here – otherwise this post would be (even more) forever long – but I hope you enjoyed a peek at my travels. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Oh, and if you’re interested in a similar trip, I’d totally recommend Gate 1 Travel’s Affordable Central Europe trip. Gate 1 did a great job (except for the London connecting flight timing – LOL) and this is my second time touring with them. (Also went to Peru with Gate 1) I added two days at the end, which worked out well, and hope to travel with Gate 1 again. Next on my list? Maybe Thailand, India, or China.  Something to work towards…

Warm regards,

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My Trip to Central Europe – Part 1


Greetings! I hope you’re all well and happy, and hope you have a wonderful December. Whatever holidays you celebrate this December, may they be joyous. :]

I traveled to Central Europe last month, and thought I’d share some of the photos here. I went on a quick tour with Gate 1 Travel, and had a fantastic time. The trip started in Budapest, Hungary, went on to Vienna, Austria, and finished up in Prague, Czech Republic. I also took two excursions to Bratislava, Slovakia (Woo hoo – a fourth country!) and Karlovy Vary – which is west of Prague. Bratislava was a half-day, and the Karlovy Vary excursion was the whole day. Since this would make a very long single post I’m breaking it up into two parts, and the second post will be shared tomorrow. Part 1 will include my time in Budapest and Vienna, and Part 2 will include my time in Prague.

This trip fed my spirit in so many ways. Not only did I have a change of scenery and see new things, the artist in me was jubilant. The architecture, fall foliage, and overall environments were truly amazing. I was also able to see the work of many masters at the Albertina Museum in Vienna, something that this art major was super happy about. Seeing work by the masters in a museum in Vienna? Pretty freaking cool!

The eternal student in me was happy to learn so much about these places I’d heard about but had never been to. Kudos to all the guides on the trip who taught me so much – particularly our Tour Leader, Dean. He kept our group of 40+ on track, taught us along the way, and always had a big smile on his face.

I was also so thankful to have an opportunity to travel to parts of the world that some of my ancestors reportedly hailed from – including Austria and the Czech Republic.

Day 1 – Budapest, Hungary

My time in Budapest was brief – one day of sightseeing – but I saw so many wonderful things.   Our tour started at Hero’s Square then moved on to Castle Hill where we saw the stunning Mathias Church. We took in views of the Danube River and the city Pest side of the city from the Fisherman’s Bastion.




Next came an optional afternoon excursion that took us to the Great Market Hall, where many locals were shopping. I did a bit of shopping and grabbed a quick bite to eat.



The second stop was St. Stephen’s Basilica. The stunning architecture housed the mummified hand of St. Stephen. Oh my!

St.Stephen's St. Stephens2

The final stop of the afternoon was the Parliament Building. Amazing architecture, Hungary’s Crown Jewels and a changing of the guard were just a few hightlights…




Day 2 – Moving on to Vienna, Austria

It didn’t take long to get to Vienna, and we stopped in the center of town for an hour or so before meeting a local guide for our tour of the Schonbrunn Palace. Schonbrunn Palace was spectacular! The “modest” summer home of the Hapsburgs, it’s truly stunning. Unfortunately photos aren’t allowed inside the palace, but some of my favorite details included the blog room with hand painted wallpaper, an exquisite room walled and furnished with inlaid wood, and “the backyard”.






I took the subway from the hotel to the Karlsplatz stop and found some dinner. I was proud of myself for managing the subway in a foreign land on my own, and enjoyed seeing the buildings lit up at night.


Day 3 – Bratislava & Vienna

I jumped at the chance to go across the border into Slovakia, and really enjoyed the morning’s trip. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, and we went to the historic old city center. Some of the buildings and architecture I saw date back 500 years. Crazy and cool. :] Many famous musicians lived, studied and played there – like Beethoven.







Back in Vienna I visited the spectacular St. Stephen’s Cathedral (no mummified hand in this one! I had a late lunch/early dinner of bratwurst with fried potatoes and sauerkraut – it was yummy! Next I visited the Albertina and was treated to the work of artists like Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Renoir, Munch, Kandisky and Magritte. There was also a whole exhibit on Miro. I finished up a wonderful day with Apfelstrudel at Café Mozart and took the subway back to my hotel.




Durer's Hare



Tomorrow I’ll share the rest of the pictures from my trip. I hope you’ve enjoyed Budapest and Vienna!

Warm regards,

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