Welcome to my blog!My name is Melody M. Nuñez, and I’m an artist and a writer. Please look around my website and make yourself at home. I post new blog entries weekly, and hope you’ll subscribe to my blog and come back often! To learn more about me, please view the “About” page…
Category Archives: holidays
Welcome to a new installment of Another Look! This post is designed to share a handful of goodies from my archive while I’m recovering from my surgeries. I hope you enjoy these links, whether you’re seeing them for the first time or have seen them once before. Today’s category is Autumn - and could also be recipes! Just click on the name of the post to link over to the original post…
I hope you’re enjoying Autumn thus far, dear readers. Will any of you be dressing up for Halloween this year?
Melody the Magpie?
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 mobiles, I’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…
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!
A Look Inside Your Heart…
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.
Liquid Acrylic Inks or paint
Black Ink Pad
Sticker & Seed Packet
Metallic Gel Pen
Heart Shaped Candy Box*
How to Visually “Spell Out” Your Heart’s Desire
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.
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.
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.
Decorating Your Box’s Exterior
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.
Hurray! It’s Done! NOW What?
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!
When I think back on my childhood Christmases, my favorite memories and most nostalgic images come from when I was twelve and younger. My family lived in a little two-bedroom apartment on Joanne Court for most of those years. Our celebrations were definitely simple, but they were festive and fun all the same. Though money was tight, we put out cherished decorations, had gaily wrapped packages under the tree, and enjoyed special holiday foods.
I’ve shared some of our holiday goodies here in recipe form, and it truly doesn’t seem like the Christmas season is complete without making – and eating – homemade Magic Cookie Bars and Chocolate Fudge. Some of the sweets in my cherished memories were store-bought though, and they were yummy.
I had yet to be introduced to See’s candy at that age, but we did usually get a box of Whitman’s Sampler. The chocolates were tasty, and their handy-dandy chart helped ensure you’d get a piece you liked. Another treat that sweetened the holiday season was Brach’s candy. Back in the day there was a Brach’s display at the grocery store, where you could mix and match your favorite candies and buy them by weight. I loved having Brach’s at home, filling our glass candy dish with their pretty colors and sweet flavors.
My favorites were Royals (flavored caramels), Butterscotch disks, and the Neopolitans – brown, pink and white hunks of coconutty goodness. Though the wrappers have changed, I still love the colored foil wrappers of the Royals. So pretty…
Brach’s are no longer available as a mix-and-match candy at my local grocery stores, but I did find Royals at a nearby party store and was really glad they weren’t gone for good. And having photographed the candy for this blog, I now have actual photos to go with my mental pictures. Sweet!
Fudge is always a welcome treat, but I usually only make it around the holidays. This recipe is the one my mom made when I was growing up, and it’s dee-lish! Perfect for sharing with family and friends at gatherings, it also makes a nice holiday gift for friends and co-workers. This recipe includes nuts, but they can easily be omitted for folks that don’t like nuts or are allergic.
Chocolate Fudge Recipe
18 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 pint marshmallow cream
2 cups chopped nuts (I use walnuts)
1 TBSP vanilla
2 sticks margarine or butter
1 large can of evaporated milk (12 oz.)
4 ½ cups sugar
Yield: 5 pounds of fudge
Directions: Place the first five ingredients into a very large bowl, then set aside. Put the evaporated milk and 4 ½ cups sugar in a saucepan and boil for a full 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture over the other ingredients and beat thoroughly. Pour the fudge into a 13″ x 9″ pan lined with wax paper. When cool, cut fudge into squares. Store in refrigerator.
I hope you enjoy this fudge recipe, dear readers…
‘Tis the season to create and decorate on a budget – at least it is for me – and I recently whipped up some darling ornaments made from empty Diet Coke cans. With just a few simple materials and a bit of time I was able to create several ornaments, and am thrilled with how they turned out! Please keep reading to see how you can make some aluminum star ornaments of your own.
Empty aluminum cans (I used 12 oz. cans)
Small, sharp knife with a pointed tip
Fine grit sand paper
Gesso or white craft paint*
Ball Point Pen
1/8” hole punch
Caution – sharp edges!
Please be careful: the edges of aluminum cans can be very sharp, so it would be wise to wear gloves – especially when first cutting up the cans. I do not recommend this project for children. The finished ornaments should be used and/or displayed in a way that children, animals, and accident-prone adults won’t be able to harm themselves on any pointy edges.
Beginning Your Ornaments
Begin by using a small knife to cut a slit in the aluminum can near to the top. Make an opening big enough to comfortably fit the blades of your scissors into. Use your scissors to cut along the top rim and remove the can top completely. Cut vertically down the side of the can, and then cut along the bottom until you have three pieces: the top, the bottom, and a rectangular piece of aluminum that was the “body” of the can. Carefully discard the top, and rinse the body of the can with water. If desired, put the bottoms aside for use at a later time.
Carefully dry the rectangular piece of aluminum, and trim off any particularly jagged edges that might grab at you while you’re working. Use the fine grit sand paper to sand off any of the can’s coloration or label that you don’t like. I sanded off the smaller Diet Coke logo, but left most of the large red and black shapes. Sand the plain silver side, too, being sure to sand it multiple directions. This will give the metal a nice finish.
Place a piece of aluminum can on on top of a soft surface, like a sofa or a bed, and hammer the piece lightly until it’s flat-ish. (Lay a cloth between the can and your soft surface to avoid scratching anything.) You can strike the piece randomly, and it doesn’t have to be perfectly flat. The goal is just to flatten the rounded curve of the original can to a flatter surface.
Next, dip a paper towel into a small cup of gesso or white craft paint, and smear a thin layer onto the surface of your metal on the printed side, making sure the application is relatively uniform. Let dry for a minute or so, then use another paper towel to wipe off a bit more of the gesso. Let dry completely.
A Star is Born
Use a star stencil that fits on your gessoed aluminum pieces and trace the star shape with a ball point pen. Cut the star out, cutting just inside the inked lines so they don’t appear on your finished piece. Punch a hole on one of the star’s points. You can hang your star with ribbon, fishing line, or an ornament hook.
*Please note: If you’ll only be showing the silver “inside of the can” side of your ornaments, you don’t have to sand the outside of the can or apply the gesso/paint.
I used 6 aluminum cans and made 12 star ornaments, but your results may vary depending on the size of your stars. Please let me know if you have any questions. As always, I’m happy to help and love hearing from you, dear readers! Oh, and be sure to read Tuesday’s post – I’ll be sharing photos of my work cubicle’s 2011 holiday décor, and these star ornaments are among my decorations…
Yes, it’s true – I’m a devoted “bunny mother”. Hubby and I adopted two adult rabbits from a local shelter in the spring of 2010, and we’ve been enjoying our furry little “bunnies” ever since. I try not to post about them too much, but thought it might be fun to do a fall/spring mash-up and photograph our bunnies with the pumpkins we purchased during our trip to the pumpkin patch a few weeks ago.
Bunnies and rabbits are most often associated with Easter and spring, but don’t they look cute posing with the bright orange pumpkins? Cypress, our female rabbit is the all-white rabbit, and Pinto, our boy, is wearing the spots.
In case you’re wondering, yes – it IS hard to get our bun buns to sit still for a photo shoot. Hubby was my bunny wrangler, and we bribed them with small pieces of carrots and banana – two of their favorite treats!
Halloween will be here before we know it, so I’ll take this moment to wish you all a Happy Halloween from our little family – bunnies and humans alike!
Fall is probably my favorite season, and I love Halloween. I guess I’m still a kid at heart! The company I work for allows employees to dress up, and in the past five years I’ve dressed up as Frida Kahlo, a butterfly, a beatnik, a cat, and a beauty queen. This year? I’m still undecided, but will likely indulge my inner child with some sort of costume. I’m a big believer in having fun and breaking up the monotony of the daily grind, and dressing up for Halloween is a great way to do that.
While Halloween can be great fun for adults, it’s a particularly great holiday for kids. Candy AND costumes? What’s not to like?! My favorite Halloween smell is still the smell of all the different types of Halloween candy combined, which you can enjoy when you stick your nose in a full trick-or-treat bag. Yum! When I was a child a favorite post trick-or-treating activity was dumping out all my candy, separating it according to type, and taking stock of my loot. It was then that I’d trade candy with my older brother – swapping any licorice I’d gotten for something more palatable.
Another fun part of fall is going to the pumpkin patch. We don’t have much of a change of season where I live, so I’m happy to embrace one of fall’s brightly colored symbols – pumpkins. Hubby and I recently visited a local pumpkin patch, and had a great time tromping around. We selected three small pumpkins, picked some veggies (including carrots for our bunnies!), and had fun being big kids. I snapped some photos to share with you (hubby took the photo of me and my scarecrow friend), and hope you enjoy this peek at our Southern California autumn.
Do you still dress up for Halloween? Do you decorate your home? What is your favorite kind of Halloween candy? Please leave a comment and fill me in.
p.s. Here’s a link to a Pumpkin Bars recipe from last October, in case you missed it the first time!Tweet
Nothing says “nostalgic childhood dessert” like popcorn balls! I used to love eating them as a kid, and still love them as a “big kid” of thirty something. They remind me of autumn, as they seemed to surface most often around Halloween, but they’re delicious any day of the year.
I found this recipe for popcorn balls online a few years ago, and was happy to discover that it’s a great one. They’re easy to make, and the recipe produces soft and delicious popcorn balls – not rock-hard, tooth-chipping ones!
Though the recipe doesn’t “require” coloration, you can add color to your popcorn balls by using food coloring. Orange for Halloween, red or green for Christmas, pastels for Easter? I chose to leave my batch colorless and added a pop of color in the packaging. (Cellophane, ribbon, tag, etc.)
Popcorn Ball Recipe
Yield: 20 popcorn balls
¾ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup butter or margarine
2 teaspoons cold water
2 5/8 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup marshmallows
5 quarts popped popcorn
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the corn syrup, butter, cold water, confectioner’s sugar and marshmallows. (Add food coloring now, if you opt to add color to your popcorn balls) Heat and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Carefully combine the hot mixture with the popcorn, coating each kernel. Grease hands with margarine or cooking spray and quickly shape the coated popcorn into balls before it cools. Once cool, wrap with cellophane or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
3 bags of microwave popcorn = roughly 5 quarts.
Pop the popcorn and remove all un-popped kernels of popcorn before coating with the sugary mixture.
Use a greased measuring cup (1 cup) to scoop up the coated popcorn and to ensure uniform portions – finish by rounding the portion into a ball by hand.
I hope you enjoy this fun, festive, and yummy recipe!