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

17

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

18

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
Cardstock
Tags

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,
Melody

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

Morning Beauty

IMG_1625

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!

IMG_1618

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.

IMG_1628

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,
Melody

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,
Melody

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:

Art
Crafts
Recipes
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,
Melody

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

Quilt #3 – Jelly Roll Race Quilt

FullSizeRender

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.

IMG_0704

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. ;]

IMG_0716

“Drunken” quilting – after the quilt was washed

IMG_0709

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,
Melody

Posted in quilting, sewing Tagged , , |

Quilt #2 – Tumbler Pattern

IMG_0497

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!

IMG_0509

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.

IMG_0507

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,
Melody

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,
Melody

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.

Charles_Bridge1

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

Infant_Jesus2

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.

Group_dinner

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

St. Vitus Cathedral’s main entrance

St.Vitus

St. Vitus Cathedral interior.  Wow.  Just wow!

St.Vitus2

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

St.Vitus3

Another view of St. Vitus Cathedral

Changing_of_guard

The changing of the guard on Castle Hill

astronomical_clock

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.

clock_detail

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.

goulash

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.

Jewish_Cemetery1

Such history…

fall_foliage

The fall leaves were just gorgeous

  leaf  

Jewish_Cemetery3

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

LowerTown

Lower town

picnic

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

Day 7 – Karlovy Vary

KV2

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. :]

hot_spring

One of the springs we drank from…

KV1

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.

KV_horse

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

KV5

KV_canal

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

Mel_and_Queen

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.

London_residential

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.

London_park

Sunday at the park…

London_garden

A cute front garden in the residential area…

London_street

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,
Melody

Posted in travel Tagged , , , , , |

My Trip to Central Europe – Part 1

MN_overlooking_Pest

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.

Mathias_Church

Mathias_interior

View_of_Pest

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.

MarketHall2

Market_Stall

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…

Parliament

Parliament_meeting

Parliament_detail

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”.

Schonbrunn_Palace

Schonbrunn_oak_tiles

Schonbrunn_backyard

Schonbrunn_sunset

Schonbrunn_walkway

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.

Vienna_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.

Bratislava

Bratislava_door

Bratislava_Building

Bratislava_tree

Bratislava_streetcar

Bratislava_fall

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.

Stephens_Cathedral_Vienna

Stephen's_detail

St.Stephens_Vienna

Durer's Hare

Albertina

Apfelstrudel

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

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in travel Tagged , , , , |

Education, Sewing & Quilting

pillowcase

Hi there, how are you? I’ve been a busy girl lately, particularly with my new position at work. I’m working as a Community Manager for Ellison and Sizzix. On the Ellison side I’m managing their blog, working on social media (particularly Pinterest and a new Instagram account), and am launching a brand new blog team. This is a lot of fun for me given my enthusiasm for education and my love of children. I’ve spent many hours in the classroom volunteer-teaching art to kids, so I’m super excited to be supporting the efforts of our educators in this way.

I’m also working on quilting for Sizzix. I’ll be taking over the quilting and sewing members of our Sizzix Blog Team in the next month or so, and just came back from the International Quilt Show in Houston. I’m so pleased to have this opportunity to learn more about quilting and sewing. The quilts on display at the show in Houston were stunning works of art, and while I have no illusions that I’ll ever be that skilled or immersed when it comes to quilting, I am happy to start developing my sewing skills a bit. If you quilt you’ll probably recognize the lady on the right in this photo. I was lucky to meet Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt at the show. What a nice lady! :]

JennyDoan

Holy Moly, I’m Sewing!
*

Remember my May post called Picking Up a Needle and Thread?  It seems the universe heard me and is nudging me along a thread-lined path. Once I received my new position in late September I decided there was no time like the present and found some sewing lessons.  After all, a gal needs to know what she’s dealing with so she can take informed action in the workplace, right?  Held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, I’ve made the following things at my two classes:

Class 1 – a pillow case (photo at top)
Class 2 – I pieced together the tops of two quilt blocks, which will become placemats.

I’ll quilt the placemats together with the batting and backing, and will attach the binding the next time I’m able to attend a class. Woo hoo! I hope to post photos of the completed placemats in the next month or so. I used some vintage fabric I’d purchased at an estate sale years ago, along with some coordinating new fabric, and hope they turn out well.

Some Upcoming Projects
*

While at the Quilt Festival in Houston I purchased a five-yard pack of coordinating fabric that will become a first small lap quilt for hubby and I to use. I love the birds and the turquoise/red combo!

fabric

After that I’ve got my eye on making a larger quilt that consists of vintage handkerchiefs sewn together and then quilted. I was lucky enough to receive an incredible collection of handkerchiefs recently (Thank you SO much Lesa and Cleova!), and would love to use some of them to make a large quilt for our bed.

I hope you’re all well and happy, dear readers. What have you been up to lately?  Please comment and share!

Warm regards,
Melody

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Posted in quilting, sewing Tagged , , , , |