Category Archives: An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past

Blog Post Flashback: Heart’s Desire

Hi there!  Today I’m revisiting a post I first shared a few years ago.  I love this project, and thought I’d share it again since the main “ingredient” in this project is a heart-shaped candy box.  With Valentine’s Day coming up, you may be gifted with a candy box – or may choose to treat yourself!  In either case you’ll have something great to do with the empty box, whether it’s heart shaped, square, or rectangular.  Not only is this Heart’s Desire Box fun to make, but it’s also a great goal setting exercise.  Oh, and I’m doing a mini happy dance because since I first shared this project I accomplished one of the goals I set. I published my book – woo hoo!

Enjoy…  :]

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Melody the Magpie?
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In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a bit of a scavenger.  Whether I’m up-cycling metal food cans or using cardboard packaging to make mobilesI’ve always got an eye out for cast-offs that can be used in a new way.  I enjoy making something wonderful from something simple.  Today’s “something wonderful” is essentially a box to hold your hopes and dreams – your goals.  How does that relate to chocolate box transformation?  Please read on…

Confession

I’m a sucker for heart-shaped Valentine’s chocolate boxes.  Bubble gum pink, lace, and silk roses aren’t in my usual rotation, but something gets me when it comes to those heart-shaped candy boxes.  Whether the box is a relatively plain gold or red, or is fully decked out with saccharine Valentine’s trim, I love them all.  Today’s project is how to turn one of these heart-shaped boxes into something that you can treasure – and put to good use – all year round.  So, if you (or a friend) are gifted with a heart-shaped box this year, don’t throw it away when it’s empty! (You can do this same project with a rectangular or square shaped box as well.)  Oh, and hopefully you can save the box’s liner, too.  It makes a great template!

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A Look Inside Your Heart…
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This project is called My Heart’s Desire because the outer box is intended to hold visual representations of your hopes, dreams, and goals.  Whether you gather small 3-D objects that represent what you hope to bring to fruition, or create paper “pages” that you embellish – like I have – I suggest you identify 5 to 10 things you’d like to work on in your life and include them in your box.  Here’s how I made my pages, including the materials I used.

Materials

Watercolor paper
Gesso
Paintbrushes
Glue Stick
Liquid Acrylic Inks or paint
Rubber Stamps
Black Ink Pad
Sticker & Seed Packet
Alphabet Stamps
Metallic Gel Pen
Rhinestones
Pen
Decorative Paper
Scissors
Walnut Ink
Double-Stick Tape
Heart Shaped Candy Box (you can actually use any shape you’d like)

How to Visually “Spell Out” Your Heart’s Desire
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1. Cut out one “page” for each of your heart’s desires.  Make your page by tracing the liner of your candy box, or by tracing the bottom of the box lid and then cutting just inside those lines.  If you’d like, you can add color to your page at this stage.  I brushed a mixture of acrylic inks and walnut ink onto watercolor paper. Alternately, you can use colored card stock instead.

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2. Note one desire on each “page”. (I chose “garden”, “travel”, “art program”, “nourish”, “get book published” and “run” and stamped the words on with alphabet stamps) It’s best to be as specific as possible when it comes to verbalizing goals though, so include as many details as you can.  You can write on the back of your pages, too.

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3. Add to these “pages” by drawing, painting, stamping, collaging, or otherwise embellishing your “pages”.  I’ve listed the materials I used, but you can use whatever materials or methods you’re partial to – there’s no wrong way to do it.  The pages can be a simple or as elaborate as you’d like them to be.

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Decorating Your Box’s Exterior
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There are a million ways you can decorate your box, if you choose to change it at all.  Whether you keep the box’s original look, or customize it to make it more “you”, is entirely up to you.

Here are a few décor ideas:

  • Paint your box
  • Decoupage your box
  • Cover your box with duct tape
  • Use some of the same materials you used on the “pages” to decorate the box’s exterior (which is what I did)

I opted to cover the red foil look of my box with a few coats of white gesso.  Next, I used some of the decorative metallic paper on the cover.  I stamped “My Heart’s Desire” on the box’s liner, stamped three flowers in the upper right, and glued a layer of tissue paper over the top to soften the text.  I accented the edge of the liner heart with metallic rub-ons and glued three rhinestones in the flower centers in the upper right of the heart.  Finally, I attached the letter-stamped liner piece to the box’s lid with a strong double-stick tape.

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Hurray!  It’s Done!  NOW What?
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The purpose of this box is threefold.  One, to identify what you really want in life and to spell it out in a tangible way.  Two, to have fun creating that tangible, visual representation of what you want.  Three, to regularly refer back to the contents of your box to remind yourself of your goals and to verify you’re taking steps, however small they may be, towards those goals.  So keep this creation within arm’s reach, and let it be your guide…

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments, dear readers.  I’m always happy to hear from you!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Just 9 Free Shipping Copies Left in My Etsy Store!

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Greetings!  One last reminder that I’m offering free shipping on my book via my Etsy store – and there are just NINE free shipping copies left!  To save on the $5 shipping fee simply enter the coupon code HOLIDAYS13 during check out.  If you’d like your copy or copies inscribed with your name, or the name of your gift recipient, please indicate this in the notes to seller.

This book is a great read, and the altered vintage photos work really well with the stories – but don’t take MY word for it!  To read reviews left on my book’s amazon.com page, click here.  Described as “A Must Read”, “Quirky and Imaginative” and “Imaginative Gems”, An Altered Existence has been very well received.  I hope you’ll pick up a copy.  :]

Warm regards,
Melody

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Free Shipping on Signed Copies of My Book!

books

Greetings!  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I’m posting today to share a special offer on my book – An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past.  As you may know, I have signed copies for sale in my Etsy shop.  I’m currently offering FREE SHIPPING!  Simply enter coupon code HOLIDAYS13 during checkout and the standard $5 shipping fee will be deducted!  I have a limited number of copies on hand, so place your order now.  :]

Each copy will be a mere $13 shipped to your door, and you can have your copy/copies inscribed with your name – or with the name of your gift recipient.  (Etsy free shipping offer applies to U.S. addresses only – standard 1st class postage)

You may also purchase unsigned copies of my book through Amazon.  If you order a copy through Amazon and would like it “signed”, you may contact me and I’ll send you a signed bookplate (or bookplates) via U.S. mail!

Please let me know if you have any questions, dear readers.  Happy Reading & Happy Shopping!

Warm regards,
Melody

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My Article in Somerset Memories Magazine!

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As you may know, I published a book earlier this year.  An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past is available via amazon.com and signed copies are sold through my Etsy store.  Well, I’m very happy to share some book-related news.  An article about my book has just been released in the Autumn issue of Somerset Memories magazine!

About the Article
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The article, which was written by yours truly, starts on page 59 and runs through page 61.  The article includes an introduction to the book, stories, and artwork, and then gives how-to information on six of the fourteen illustrations that appear in my book.  It’s a thrill to see my work in the pages of such a lovely publication, and I’m very thankful my project and book were selected to be included in this issue.

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More Great News: A Positive Book Review, Too!
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Some months back I sent Jana Holstein, the Managing Editor of Somerset Memories, a review copy of my book. She read it, enjoyed it, and was kind enough to include the following review in this same Autumn issue of the magazine.  Thanks so much, Jana!

review

“When talented author and artist Melody Nunez gave me a copy of her book “An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past,” I was intrigued because I knew it was a book that  centered around stories she created to with beautiful vintage found cabinet cards.  As I began reading, each story drew me in and I felt a part of the tale.  Each cabinet card is altered in a way that resonates with the story, so it’s fun to flip back and look at the art while reading the story.  There are 14 short stories in all, reflecting birth, death, family, romance, and even ghosts.  Well written and heartwarming, this is a fun, quick read.  I really enjoyed Melody’s book.  So much so, that I chose some of her altered cabinet cards as feature article in this issue (see page 58.

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So, if you’ve been thinking about purchasing a copy of my book, but haven’t done it yet, please do.  It’s good!  And don’t just take my word for it – take Jana’s.  And artist/author Seth Apter’s!  And the others who have reviewed my book on amazon.com!  ;] Help support a self-published writer and artist, and treat yourself to a book that can be enjoyed one story/illustration at a time (in multiple sittings) or in one fell swoop.

I hope you’re having a wonderful week.  Happy Fall, everyone!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Art Exhibit, Book Signing & Art Journaling class in Kansas!

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I was in Kansas last weekend – what a wonderful trip!  The 14 altered art illustrations from my book – An Altered Existence – are currently on exhibit at the Lincoln Art Center, and I spoke and signed books at an event there last Friday, July 19th.  It was a pleasure to be welcomed by both the gallery and the community, and it was such a thrill to see my work hanging on display in that lovely art space!  I also taught a class at the Lincoln Art Center on Saturday morning, and it was great fun to share art journaling with my 12 students.  A good time was had by all!

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Fun with Friends
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In addition to activities related to the art exhibit, I was there to meet up with some wonderful friends of mine.  Our adventures included a visits to a local wax seal manufacturer, antique shopping, and some yummy meals.  Some of us even went firefly “hunting” in the evenings.  We don’t have fireflies here where I live, and my Lincoln friends were kind enough to take me out in search of the luminescent beauties.  We didn’t find oodles, but I was entranced with those we did see!  I’m so thankful to all my wonderful friends for their kindness, support, and enthusiasm!

Antique Store Finds & Generous Gifts
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I invariably leave Kansas with more than I arrived with (this is my third such trip to Lincoln), and this year was no exception.  I was gifted with a number of wonderful and unique items, like a vintage crochet-trimmed handkerchief, books, vintage photos,  a ceramic pen holder, an Anasazi pottery shard and more.  Such wonderful treats!

photos

My antique store purchases included a bronzed baby shoe (I split a pair with one of my friends who also collects them), a manger cow with springy horns that truly looked like a “mad cow”, as well as a little purchase for hubby.  I also bought a jar of vintage buttons, and the jar itself was fab and rather unique.  Given the unusual size, shape, and contents of the jar, I wasn’t surprised that I was stopped at security when flying out of Wichita.  It was my first-ever on-the-spot bag search, so I suppose I was due.  Here’s a picture of the mad cow – I think he needs to turn his frown upside down!  :]

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Blessed Journey
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Every trip I’ve made to Lincoln, Kansas has been over-the-top fantastic, and this particular trip will always be extra special to me because of the art exhibit, signing, and class related to my book.  Big thanks to everyone who helped make my exhibit and overall trip so wonderful.  I’m most appreciative.  :]

Warm regards,
Melody

 

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Savannah’s Starlight Cookie Bar Recipe

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As you may know, I published a collection of short stories earlier this year.  One of the stories in my book makes mention of a cookie bar recipe.  This particular story is set back in the 1800’s in New England.  The story’s main character is Savannah Forrester.  During the course of the story she develops a cookie bar recipe – one that she bakes for runaway slaves as they make their way through a local “station” of the Underground Railroad.  They’re running for their lives, and Savannah decides to sweeten their perilous journey with her baked goods.

The particular story I’m referencing is And Some for the Road, and this month I’m sharing “her” recipe – Savannah’s.  (The story begins on page 130, for those who have a copy of the book and are curious.  The cookie bars are mentioned specifically for the first time on page 137)  Here is the altered photo illustration of “Savannah”, just for fun.  I attached the handwritten cookie bar recipe to the vintage photo with red twine….

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And now, on to the recipe!

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Savannah’s Starlight Cookie Bars Recipe
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Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips OR 1 – 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).  Beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, chocolate chips (or raisins) and nuts; mix well.  Press dough into the bottom of a greased 13″x9″ pan and bake for approximately 35 – 50 minutes.  Baking time will depend on whether you like your cookies softer or firmer.

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I hope you enjoy Savannah’s Starlight Cookie Bars.  Happy baking!

Warm regards,
Melody

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A Rite of Passage

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My book, An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past, is just over a month old now.  Self-publishing has been a wonderful adventure so far, and I thought I’d share a happy “new author” rite of passage I recently experienced.  Until a week or so ago, all my book sales had been done through Amazon and Etsy.  I hadn’t seen my book for sale in a bookstore, but that was about to change.

While on a road trip I stopped into a bookstore near my destination, and ended up selling them a copy of my book.  Yes, one copy.  They very nicely explained that because they’re a small store they could only start with one book, but I was so excited you’d think I’d made a best seller list.  I was even more excited when one of the two ladies I was doing business with walked over and put my book on their New Fiction section in the front of the store.

OMG – there it was!  My book – for sale – in a store!  It was a first for me, and naturally I had to take pictures to mark the occasion.  I was grinning ear to ear as I left the store and drove on down the road. It was a small victory, but I was elated anyway.  Woo hoo!  Later on in my trip I went to sell another 7 books, including five that were purchased by an antique store, and it was a wonderful feeling.  I wish I’d brought more books with me.  :]

It’s unlikely my little book will make a big splash in the literary world, and I probably won’t sell tens of thousands of copies.  This is a project that came from the heart, and seeing it through to being published – and beyond – is food for my soul.  I strive to be mindful and grateful in daily life, so you can be sure I’m going to appreciate all the firsts and unexpected joys this literary journey brings my way.

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Like the pleasure of seeing MY book on a shelf in a bookstore…

Warm regards,
Melody

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An Altered Existence – Giveaway Winners!

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Thanks to everyone who entered my book’s giveaway.  It was a treat to read your wonderful comments!
It is my pleasure to announce the lucky giveaway winners.  The following three people have each won a signed copy of my new book, An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past.

1. Mayah
2. Debbie M.
3. Amie*

For those of you whose name I didn’t draw, please visit my books’s amazon.com page and consider purchasing a copy – I’d really appreciate it.  Big thanks to those who’ve already ordered a copy!  :]

WANT A “SIGNED” COPY OF MY BOOK?

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If you’re planning to buy  – or have already purchased – a copy of my book from Amazon.com, but would like it signed, I can provide a signed bookplate/label for you to put in your book.  Simply send me a SASE – I’d be happy to send a signed book plate your way!  Here’s my mailing address:

Melody M. Nuñez
P.O. Box 60030
Irvine, CA 92602

Happy reading, y’all!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Books & Bunnies!

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Greetings from Book Central!

I received my first big shipment of books on Monday, which will be used to help promote the book, and I’m so excited!  Feedback on my book has been very positive thus far, and I’m a happy camper.  I’m looking forward to sharing my “baby” with more people in the coming months, so I also ordered some bookmarks and postcards to help with that.  They arrived last weekend and I think they look fab.  Hubby did such a great job on them!

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In other book-related news, some (very) informal market research has been done, and two out of two bunnies surveyed find my new book delicious!  ;]

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So, have you entered my giveaway yet?  I’m giving away 3 signed copies of An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past, and will announce the winners this Tuesday, March 5, 2013.  Please enter now by commenting on this link’s post, if you haven’t already!  :]

I hope you have a great weekend, dear readers…

Warm regards,
Melody

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