Category Archives: books

Picking Up a Needle & Thread


I’ve never been much of a sewer or a stitcher. I consider this a bit of a deficiency in my creative skill set, particularly since my grandmother was such a talented seamstress. She started when she was young, and passed her sewing knowledge on to my mom. The buck stopped there, however. The sum total of my sewing experience includes making a pencil-shaped pillow in seventh grade home economics, and doing a wee bit of embroidery as a teen. My adult sewing adventures are limited to sewing an apron (with the help of a teacher for the afternoon) and sewing buttons onto some art and craft projects. Oh, and I did embellish this tote with reverse appliqué and embroidery when I attended Craftcation in April.  I think it’s super cute.  :]


I’ve been wanting to further develop my skills with needle, thread and sewing machine for a while now. I’ve actually had an embroidery sampler (above) and a book on embroidery (below) awaiting my attention for about three years (!).  So, after a small delay (cough), I’m kicking off my adventure into the land of fabric and thread now. I’ll start with my trusty book and this embroidery sampler, and will go on from there. I’m not sure if I’ll stick to artsy applications of sewing and stitchery – embellishing accessories, making pieces to add to assemblages, and making mini art quilts – or if I’ll get into making utilitarian things as well. I’ll be interested to see where this road leads, and how far I’ll go. :]


What about you, dear readers? Do you embroider? Sew by hand or with a machine? Do you crochet? (That’s something else I’d like to learn) Have any of you learned to sew from a DVD or online class that you might recommend?  I hope to hear from you about your adventures in sewing and stitching…

Warm regards,

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Have You Heard of The Life Organizer?

I recently received a review copy of The Life Organizer from the folks at New World Library.  Created by Jennifer Louden, this is not a step-by-step guide on how to neatly organize your life and beat it into submission.  Rather, it’s a guide that focuses on self-kindness and self-care, and helps guide you to the discovery and implementation of that which will bring you happiness.  So much of our lives are “should” and “have to”, and this guide helps you to slow down and ask some questions of yourself that can effect positive change.

Given that the book guides you through 52 weeks of soul searching, and I just received it a few weeks ago, I haven’t had the chance to work through or read everything.  However, some things jumped out at me in the early chapters that may help give you a bit of a feel for The Life Organizer – these are pages whose corners I folded over.  :]

What Life Organizing Is (pg. 14)
Coming into the present
Asking for guidance, help, support
Listening, receiving, opening
Applying, taking the next step
Seeing if the path you are taking fits you, feels right, and aligns with your values
A structure for learning from your inner experience

What Life Organizing Is Not (pg. 10)
A rule
A should
A program
Something that must be done every day or done to make you good or right
About believing anything

Another little bit I liked, from page 18:
Life organizing doesn’t require you to be quiet, to be solemn, or to have a chunk of time.  It is to be used in the midst of all the insanity – that’s the point!

I compiled some of my life insights and my minimum requirements for self-care, as suggested by Ms. Louden, and am looking forward to working through the weekly questions and prompts in the coming year.  If any of this sounds intriguing, helpful, or otherwise sparks your curiosity, please take a moment to learn more about Jennifer Louden’s book The Life Organizer.  And happy reading!

Warm regards,

*I received one complimentary copy of The Life Organizer for review purposes, and will not receive any financial compensation for my participation in the book tour.  My opinions are my own.

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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 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,

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Free Shipping on Signed Copies of My Book!


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,

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My Article in Somerset Memories Magazine!


As you may know, I published a book earlier this year.  An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past is available via 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

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.


More Great News: A Positive Book Review, Too!

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!


“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.


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!  ;] 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,

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My Blog’s 3rd Birthday!

Yep, it’s true.  My blog is now three years old! I launched my blog in August of 2010, and have been blogging away ever since.  I’ve really enjoyed creating art and craft projects to share with you.  I’ve also enjoyed baking up recipes to entice you with, and am happy to have shared some of my other interests and adventures with you as well.

From trips to hole-in-the-wall restaurants to far-flung locales like Peru and Ireland, I’ve posted some of my images and experiences getting out and about in the world.  What fun!

I’ve also posted about my furry baby bunnies, Cypress and Pinto, and have shared my goofy pet mom pictures of them taken at holidays like Easter, Halloween, and Christmas.

I’ve tried to make giveaways bountiful, because winning free things is so much fun!  Many of you have won goodies over the past three years, and I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

Now What?

As I embark on my 4th year of blogging, I’d love to know: what would you like to see more of?

Fine art?  (Photography, collage, drawing, assemblage, etc.)
Crafts? (Card making, jewelry, gifts, tags, etc.)
Recipes? Do you prefer savory recipes, desserts, or both?
Giveaways? What are your favorite types? (Gift cards, books, art supplies, etc.)
Photo haikus?
Ethnic markets?

I value your input, dear readers, and would appreciate you leaving a comment sharing some of the things you’d like to continue to see , and/or things you’d like me to consider adding or beefing up.


I’m looking forward to more shared creativity and fun. Thanks for following my blog!  I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Warm regards,

p.s. If you’d like to “give my blog a birthday gift”, please consider making a donation to my Art Supply Drive to benefit at-risk children.  Details here.  Thanks!  :]

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Making Your Creative Mark: Giveaway Winner!

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Congratulations, Oksana!  You’ve won a copy of Eric Maisel’s book – Making Your Creative Mark!  Please provide your mailing address.  I’ll send your book out soon, and hope you enjoy reading it.

Thank you to all those who entered the giveaway. I enjoyed reading about your creative pursuits!

Warm regards,

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Making Your Creative Mark + Giveaway!

cover cover cover
Greetings!  Today I’m sharing a new book with you, published by the folks at New World Library.  The book is Making Your Creative Mark, by Eric Maisel, PhD – something that I think will interest a number of you. Not only will I share a bit about the book, I’m also offering a giveaway since NWL was nice enough to send me a giveaway copy.  Woo hoo!

Mr. Maisel is an esteemed creativity coach and a prolific author.  He’s written over 40 books, including both fiction and non-fiction, but his specialty is helping artists of all kinds (visual artists, musicians, actors, etc.).  He coaches internationally, trains creativity coaches, and lectures internationally, and has created a book that contains nine keys to achieving your artistic goals.

Here’s the text from the book’s back cover:

Writers, painters, singers, filmmakers, musicians, craftspeople, and actors confront daunting challenges every day. It is hard to produce new work, find success in the marketplace, manage relationships, and keep spirits up. Many doubt that solutions to these very real problems exist, but they do, and world-famous creativity coach Eric Maisel has compiled them in this book. You will learn how to:

* make sense of the challenges of your personality, the challenges inherent in creative work, and the challenges of culture and marketplace
* quiet your overactive mind
* increase motivation and avoid blocks
* engage in practices that create and reinforce meaning
* align self-talk with goals, avoiding negative loops that block creativity
* identify stressors and implement stress-management techniques designed specifically for artists
* maintain emotional intimacy and healthy relationships in the midst of the creative process
* claim your identity as an artist
* rekindle passion for your art and feed that flame during dark days and dry spells

Intended for professional artists and those aspiring toward professional status, this book offers the nuts and bolts of sticking to a successful and fulfilling life in the arts.

Topics include The Mind Key, The Confidence Key, The Passion Key, The Freedom Key, The Stress Key, The Empathy Key, The Relationship Key, The Identity Key, and The Societal Key.  In addition the book contains an Artist Plan and a Refresher Course of 97 Creativity Tips.

How to Enter the Giveaway

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment here on this post sharing one (or more) of your creative endeavors, whether it’s cooking, creating art, singing, etc.

The winner will be drawn at random, and will be announced here on my blog on May 9, 2013.  Good luck!

Warm regards,

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Rebuilding – From the Inside Out


This is a noteworthy year for me in many ways.  Not only will I be entering my fourth decade soon, I’ve recently published a book.  And, after having been laid off earlier this year, I’m looking for my next employment opportunity.  Suffice to say that much of my life has been turned on its head in one way or another.  And since I’m already upside down, so to speak, why not use this time to make some real, positive, and lasting change?

I’d been wanting to focus intently on improving my overall health for some time, and decided there was no time like the present.  So, to that end, I’m working on overhauling my health, nutrition, and exercise, and have made some headway.  I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been up to, in case you find it helpful.

A Lifelong Battle

I’ve been fighting my weight for most of my life.  But before I go on, please know this is more about overall health than it is about weight and weight loss.  Yes, I’m heavier than the medical community says is healthy.  Yes, I’d like to trim down and be a bit less “squishy”.  However, what I’m most concerned with is fueling my body well.  With being strong, fit, and healthy.  I want to live an active life without limitations, and that includes good food and some treats.  If I can do all that at a size 14/16, so be it.  I know from years past that I’ll never be smaller than a size 10 anyway – that’s where I start looking too thin.  :]

Getting back to fighting my weight, it’s been peaks and valleys.  Gain weight, lose weight, gain weight, lose weight.  And though there might be years in between each gain and loss, it’s been ongoing since high school.  I’ve probably gained and lost a significant amount of weight at least six or seven times over the years, which is not only annoying – it’s not healthy.  Repeated weight gains and losses take a toll on one’s body.

Trying Something New

Mark Twain said, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.”  Amen, Mr. Twain!  I’ve been using that quote as a bit of a guide, and have been trying to do things a bit different lately.  Rather than participating in a diet program, or guiding myself through a diet that focuses on low-fat and fewer calories, I’m starting at the very beginning: with nutrition.

I’ve been doing some reading, and it’s both confusing and eye-opening.  Confusing because there are hundreds of books on diet and nutrition, and many of them contradict each other.  Eye-opening because so much of what we’ve been told about nutrition is wrong.  For example, for decades folks were told that margarine was healthier than butter.  That liquid vegetable oils like corn oil are healthier than the animal fats people used to cook with.  It’s now coming to light that the opposite is true.  Certain oils are good (olive, avocado, coconut), but a lot of the oils used today are truly bad for us.  Much of the “food” in the grocery stores is manufactured by the food industry with the goal of making something that will last longer on the shelf and bring the manufacturer more money, rather than promote good health.  How do we know what to eat?  Who do we trust?


Doing Research & Taking Action

Thus far I’ve read five different books on nutrition, whole food, and our agricultural system, and am going with areas of consensus amongst the authors, with my personal observations, and with my gut instinct.  First and foremost, I’m focusing on eating whole foods and eliminating processed foods as much as possible.

I’m also:

  • Eating more fruits and veggies
  • Eating a wider variety of vegetables – like spaghetti squash, a new squash for me
  • Shopping at the Farmers Market when I can
  • Avoiding the bad oils (vegetable, corn, safflower, etc)

(I’m only using butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil for meals at home)

  • Adding more meat, shellfish, and eggs to my diet
  • Cooking more meals at home
  • Reducing my refined sugar intake
  • Vastly reducing processed grains like wheat, corn, oats, etc. for toxicity reasons
  • Greatly reducing the amount of soda I drink (both regular & diet are bad for us)
  • Brewing batches of iced green tea sweetened with stevia to drink instead of soda
  • Reading the ingredients on any packaged food I buy
  • Taking supplements like Green Tea Extract and Vitamin D
  • Working with my doctor to get my thyroid regulated and my TSH number down
  • Exercising 4-5 times a week
  • Exercising before breakfast whenever I can, since this encourages fat burning

Here are some of the books I’ve been reading, in case you’d like to do some research of your own:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo
The Perfect Health Diet by Shou-Ching Shih Jaminet & Paul Jaminet
The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen
Why Women Need Fat by Lassek & Gaulin

No Calorie Counting

Something I read in one (or two) of the books really resonated with me: it’s very possible to be both overfed and undernourished.  I was a good example of that.  I was eating too much of the wrong things and wasn’t providing my body the vitamins, minerals, and fuel it needed.  The healthy foundation wasn’t there, so my body kept asking for more food in search of what it really needed.

So, at this point I’m not counting calories. I’m simply focusing on eating healthy foods (with the occasional deviation) in reasonable portions.  I figure it’s most important to be eating the right kinds of foods since a typical Western diet – and dieting – haven’t worked for me.


Investing in Good Health

Eating healthfully can be more expensive and more time consuming, but what costs you time and money now will likely save you time and money in the long run.  Nowadays we spend a smaller portion of our incomes on food than in decades and centuries past, but our healthcare costs are also higher because we’re sicker – so there’s not much of a savings.  Many of the illnesses that run rampant today are directly related to our broken food system, and that’s a shame.  I’ve embarked on this adventure to see if I can’t turn that tide in my life.

We’ll See What Happens…

I don’t have all the answers, and still have plenty of questions.  I’m not exactly sure where this road will lead, but I know in my heart and in my head that eating mostly whole foods makes the most sense, so here I go.  I know I’m making better choices and am fueling my body better – whether or not that will be reflected on a scale remains to be seen. And though I’m dedicated to this new way of doing things, I’ll still indulge in some things that aren’t good for me from time to time.  Just not all of the time. :]

Please let me know if you have any questions, dear readers.  I’d be glad to hear from you and to respond…

Warm regards,

*Please note: I am not affiliated with or advertising any products listed in this post, am just sharing what I’ve been reading/using/eating.

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A Rite of Passage


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.


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

Warm regards,

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