Category Archives: art

A New Assemblage: Solitary

 solitary4
I recently created the newest piece in my series of assemblages.  This one, titled “Solitary”, makes use of the same house-shaped box as its predecessors, and includes items like vintage wallpaper, a vintage photo, a mini tart mold (the “head”), key holder and keys, an old camera lens cover (the clear “halo” behind the silver tart mold), and other elements.

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I really enjoyed putting it together with my trusty friend, epoxy.  This piece is available for sale in my Etsy shop, so if you’d like this piece of handmade, original art please pop on over.  It’s signed, and is ready to be shipped out.  :]

Please let me know if you have any questions, dear readers.  I hope you’re having a great week!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Playing in My Art Journal: A Self-Portrait

I completed a few new entries in my art journal last week, and one of them was a self-portrait.  I started it during my lunch hour – just working with my journal and a black pen.  I finished the page that night, when I had access to my watercolor pencils, a paintbrush, and a bit more time.

This organic form is representational of me, and yes – that’s a pumpkin head!  The words near the leaves’ tendrils are things I associate with myself – they’re either some of my qualities and traits, or things that are important to me.

I find it very relaxing to doodle/draw, fill in the spaces with color, and then blend the colors with brush and water.  I don’t have any illusions of being skilled at drawing, but I do have fun playing – and that’s the whole point.  :]

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Black and white…

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Colored in but not blended…

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Color blended with water and brush…

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Up close…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at one of my latest art journal pages, dear readers.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Warm regards,
Melody

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A Peek at My Newest Art Journal

Greetings!  I hope you’re having a great week thus far, dear readers.  Today I’m sharing a peek at my newest art journal – art journal number #16!  I just started it last week, and thought I’d show you how I customized it.

The Book Itself
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The journal is an 8 ½” x 11” book that started out with a blank white cover and blank white inside pages.  I love getting these Possibilities Blank Books from skybluepink.com.  The proprietress of skybluepink, Christina,  is a longtime supporter of my art journaling program for at-risk kids.  Hooray!  :]  I believe the style I order is the large portrait journal with 46 sheets…

Personalization
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I decorated the exterior of my journal by covering it with vintage wallpaper.  (Thanks for the wallpaper, Karan!)  The central image on the cover consists of an original black and white vintage photo that I mounted on black cardstock and a vintage label stamped with the word “sixteen”.  I also traced around the edge of the label and photo with a bronze metallic gel pen.  The exterior of the journal is treated with a clear sealer in order to protect it from spills and muck.

The Spine
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I customized the spine of my journal with another number 16.  This helps me order and locate the journals quickly if I have them on a shelf.  The number was cut from a page of vintage ledger paper – I wanted to carry the vintage look throughout on the exterior…

Inside
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I always make sure to put my name and phone number inside my journal, in case it gets lost.  I also like to include the date I start and finish the journal.  Because I date virtually all the pages/entries in my journals I could also look at the first and last entries to figure this out, but I like having this quick reference in the front as well.

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On the right side of the inside spread I like to mount an envelope.  I use this envelope to hold odds and ends like movie tickets while I’m working in the journal.  In this particular case I’ve embellished the envelope with some washi tape and a butterfly that I die cut from fine wire mesh.  However, the envelope embellishment varies from journal to journal.

Credit Where Credit is Due
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Many of the ways I customize my book (decorating and sealing the cover, envelope in the inside, numbering journals) were adopted from the supremely talented artist Janice Lowry – I was lucky enough to take a class from her several years ago.  She was a lifelong journal keeper, and her 100+ journals are now part of the collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art.  Janice was an incredible artist and a lovely person, and I’m thankful to have had her for both a teacher and a friend.  :]

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick peek at my newest art journal.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Warm regards,
Melody

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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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box_detail

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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Making Art: Four New Assemblages!

I love the creative process, and assemblage is one of my favorite artistic mediums.  It’s perfect for me, since I’m a gatherer and collector. Many of the drawers in our art studio (aka converted dining area) are stuffed with odds and ends I’ve found at flea markets, thrift stores, and antique stores.  And I have an entire drawer full of vintage photos!  I guess it’s a good thing I’m actually putting some of my treasures to use in these assemblages. :]

These first four assemblages will be followed by ten more since I have a total of fourteen little wooden houses.  Some will be made available for sale – like the Fishhook and Bereft assemblages below – and some will stay in my personal collection.  The dress in the Mending assemblage was handmade by my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Lillian, so I’ll be keeping that piece.

If you’re interested in purchasing an assemblage you may do so by visiting my Etsy store.  You may also see more photos of each piece – there are five photos of each assemblage…

Mending

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mending3

Fishhook

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hook4

Bereft

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bereft4

Waltz of the Flowers

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at my artwork!  Please let me know if you have any questions regarding these four assemblages I’ve created.

Warm regards,
Melody

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News for the New Year

Happy 2014, dear readers!  I’m here to share some news today, and hope you’ll read through to the end.

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Thank You

I’d like to thank those who offered their condolences on my December 10th blog post or emailed me.  I appreciate your kind words, and appreciate you reaching out with comfort…

I’m Trying Something New

One of my goals for for 2014 is to focus more on self-care.  To that end, I’m going to give yoga a serious try.  I think it will be beneficial both physically and mentally, and since a new yoga studio just opened about a block away from home I have no reason not to give it a whirl.  Do any of you do yoga?  Do you have any tips or suggestions for a newbie?

I Checked Something BIG Off My List!

As many of you know, I volunteer-teach art journaling to at-risk children.  I’d been wanting to create some videos with supplemental art lessons for the kids for a while now.  The goal?  To offer art instruction beyond the Introduction to Art Journaling I teach during my initial visit.  (Ideally I’d visit each classroom weekly or monthly, but since I work full-time that’s not an option)

I recently worked with Bad Bunny Studios to bring these videos to life.  We finished production on the videos in late November, and the editing process was just wrapped.  Next up is the printing of the labels and DVD duplication.  Hurray!  Though I’m not one that loves being on camera, I’m thrilled that these videos have come to fruition.  This is a big step forward for the program, since the children will now receive more instruction and these lessons can be used each year.  I offer big thanks to Bad Bunny Studios – I appreciate your time and efforts!  :]

Quick & Easy Donations

Speaking of my art journaling program, I’m also pleased to share that making donations is now super quick and easy!  I’ve signed on with GoFundMe, a site that offers an easy and secure way to donate to great causes.  Please take a peek at my fundraising page here.  All funds received go directly to providing art supplies to at-risk kids, so please consider starting 2014 off with some good karma by making a donation.

Art Heals

It’s no secret that art is a therapeutic tool for me and for many others in this crazy world.  I often turn to art journaling to help me through tough times, but other creative endeavors work too.  My medium of choice in the last few weeks has been assemblage.  I’ve created four assemblages thus far, and anticipate making more in the coming weeks. I’ll be sharing these first works here on my blog, and may offer some of them for sale in my Etsy shop, so please keep an eye out.

What do you do when trying to work through something challenging, dear readers?  Make art?  Run?  Drink wine?  Journal?  Please share, if you’re so inclined.  Until next time….

Warm regards,
Melody

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My 2013 Art Journaling Classes for At-Risk Children

artists_at_work

Greetings!  Today I’m pleased to share photos from my recent visits to six different Southern California classrooms.  I provided art supplies (with help from many of you!), and taught an Introduction to Art Journaling to at-risk 4th graders.  My students are often facing a number of challenges, and I introduce them to Art Journaling in the hopes that it will help them cope, process their feelings, and express themselves in positive ways as they continue on in life.  I also know that art journaling helps their overall academic experience, and helps to develop their creativity.  Art journaling is a positive thing all the way around!

This year I taught in two classrooms in Ontario, and four classrooms in Santa Ana.  Through the generosity of dozens of kind and generous people, I was able to provide approximately 200 children with their own art supply kits, which will be used all school year and then taken home at the end of the year so the kids can keep creating.

kids_at_work

Preparing the Art Supply Kits
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The school in Santa Ana gathered parent volunteers to assemble the 125 kits we’d need in order to bring art journaling to their entire 4th grade.  The school purchased the journals, scissors, glue sticks, crayons, and plastic bags.  I (we) supplied the rest of the goodies, and the kits were ready to go when I arrived to teach.  Teamwork!  :]

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For the 80 Ontario class kits, I was lucky enough to have four friends come over and help assemble the kits.  Work that would’ve taken me an entire day working alone was completed in under two hours by the five of us – it was such a great help, and was fun to boot.  We got to visit, assemble, and eat some goodies.  I’m not above plying my team with things like homemade almond brittle to keep them happy.  :]  Big thanks to AC, LC, AT, and VT for your time and efforts!

What the Schools Received
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In addition to providing materials for the art journaling students, the schools received many other supplies and tools!

Ontario

2 carloads of assorted art/craft supplies, including several reams of paper
1 Big Shot die cutting & embossing machine (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)
A box of assorted dies (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)

Santa Ana

5 boxes of assorted art/craft supplies
1 box of Post-it notes
1 bag full of ball point pens
1 Big Shot die cutting & embossing machine (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)
A box of assorted dies (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)

ontario

In the Classroom
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cutting

The children were so enthusiastic about their art supplies and the opportunity to create!  They dug right in, and had a wonderful time creating their first two art journal pages while I was there – a page about five of their favorite things, and a collage page.  As always, I was delighted by the things they created, and loved the inventive ways they used the materials.  One little boy used a paper doily and crayons to create a lion’s head!

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Letters from My Students
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I received thank you letters from one of my Ontario classes the other day – what a treat!  I love the letters and drawings I receive from my students each year.  They’re among my most treasured possessions!  Here are excerpts from a handful of letters I received on Tuesday – I’ve corrected some grammar and spelling in the interest of clarity:

“Thank you for all of the supplies and for teaching us another way to express our feelings.  Not to punch, not to slap, but to draw a picture to calm you down a little.  And also, thank you for spending your time with us and the other classes.”

“Thank you for showing your journaling to the class and now I like art way more than I liked it before.  Because now I know that you can do art with just a pen or pencil and art can be about anything you want it to be.”

“Thank you for teaching us art.  It was fun, exciting, and it was colorful.”

“I think it is very nice of you to come and teach us a new way to express our feelings and do new things.  Now I express my feelings in a different way because of you.”

“The best idea that I like is to recycle paper and wrappers, like the peanut and jelly sandwich wrappers.”

“I never knew I could get out my feelings by drawing a picture. Thank you for all you have taught us about art.”

I was so pleased to read these passages.  I make it a point to emphasize that journaling is a great way to express one’s feelings – both good and bad – in my introduction class, and these letters let me know that the message was received.  And because many of my students are from low-income families (as I was when I was a child) I’m sure to let them know that art can be made from the simplest of things – they don’t have to have expensive (and possibly out of reach) supplies to create.

The Schools Can Make Use of All Types of Supplies!
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I just have to share a few non-art journaling photos I took at the school in Ontario. They used of some of the assorted arts and craft supplies I’d passed along when it came time for the children to create dioramas. This is why I’m very happy to accept donations of “other” art/crafting supplies, even if it’s not a perfect fit for art journaling.

The first diorama include a tree made from fabric and yarn.  The second picture shows clouds made from packing foam, rocks made from egg crates, and ocean plants made from yarn.  I love these – they’re a perfect example of what children can do with opportunity and supplies. :]  The schools use these assorted art and craft supplies for all kinds of things – from handmade greeting cards to paper robots and science projects.

diorama1

diorama2

Thank You SO Much!
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I offer big thanks to everyone who donated supplies, gift cards, or funds to my students.  This program truly does make a difference, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me to bring art instruction and supplies to these children.  I’ll be sure to post photos from the end-of-year art journal shows that will take place in May and June.

I accept donations year-round, so if you’re paring down your art/craft stash and would like to donate the items to my students – or if you’re inspired to provide new supplies for them via gift card or check – please contact me.  Everything gets put to great use, and is appreciated by the students, the teachers, and the school staff and administrators.  And me!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Haiku: For the Love of Art

art_supplies_haiku
Color, shape, writing –
nurtures their hearts, minds, spirits.
Love lending a hand…

Today’s haiku refers to the art journaling classes I volunteer-teach to at-risk public school students.

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be teaching six classrooms of at-risk 4th graders this school year – two in Ontario today, and four in Santa Ana over the next two weeks.  My heart is very happy that approximately 200 children will participate in my little program this year.  That’s a big jump from the 30 per year that I started with, and is even a big jump from last year’s 115!  Woo hoo!

Huge thanks to all who donated to my program for this school year – and for any other school year, for that matter!  I appreciate you helping me to bring some creative goodness to children who need it.  I’m thankful for the support you’re giving my program and my students.  I’ll be sure to post a write-up and some photos from my time in the six different classrooms after I’ve completed my initial visits to the schools and classrooms.

With thanks and a happy heart,
Melody

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My Article in Somerset Memories Magazine!

article3

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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Washi Tape Giveaway Winner

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I’m pleased to announce the winner of my Washi Tape Giveaway.

Congratulations, Marybeth! You’ve won a roll of Washi Tape from the new Artsyville Washi Tape line.  I hope you enjoy using it!  Please email me your mailing address via my contact page.

Thanks to all those who participated in this month’s giveaway.  :]

Warm regards,
Melody

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