Thrilling The Little Kid In Me

The little kid in me got such a thrill of delight out of this repurposed vintage gumball toy bubble machine. Bob even put two shiny quarters in for me to buy me a ‘petite poem’ and maybe even one of those trinket treasures, too. My heart sank as nothing came out. But the true prize is that my wheels are turning… How can I score one of these little machines and repurpose it into my very own creation? I love stuff like this, seeing how creative minds tick tick tick.


A Day In Pictures: Feeling Like A Family

What a day! I’ll share it with you in pictures. I officially reached the 25 pound mark at Weight Watchers. Here’s my celebratory picture. I love reaching milestones and celebrating at the meeting! I got a little 25 pound token to go on my 10% keychain. Exciting! I am such a kid at heart and love these little symbolic rewards, don’t you? It’s been a 9 month journey with ups and downs but here we are feeling good.

Then we dared try something new and exciting: getting Mr. P to nap in the stroller. After getting chai for me and coffee for Bob at what could possibly be my new favorite coffeeshop, we took the stroller down to the strand to walk and hope for the best. And drumroll please… it worked! We reclined the stroller, turned on the sound machine and kept on moving until at long last those droopy sleepy eyes closed. Heaven for mommy and daddy to be out and about walking with a sleeping baby.

Then it was time for me to be at the gallery for my Saturday shift. My favorite part was these three darling girls whole came in. They were so respectful and enthusiastic. Two of them, sisters, bought my “I dream” bookmarks after commenting on my work like they were gallery curators or art analysts in 12 and 14 year old bodies. I loved it.

Came home feeling like we’d already had such an action packed day to spend the late afternoon listening to Bob and Mr. P play music and have fun while I made some stuffed peppers and turkey veggie “cupcakes.” It was one of those peaceful times where it felt like a weekend a family would have and here we are A FAMILY having a weekend. So nice.

Now I’m blogging with a nice glass of wine that I’m sipping slowly trying to save just a few more sips to go enjoy with Bob. Baby’s sleeping, mommy’s tired, one of those days where I’m wiped out in such a good “I really really loved today” way.

What was the highlight of your day? TELL ME! You know I love hearing from you.

Big hugs, my darlings, bug hugs.


This post is day 10 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.


Learn more about Good Things Darling.

Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.



5 Things I Learned From Blogging Everyday

Day 7 of my 7 day commitment to write/post a blog in 30 minutes.

Mission accomplished! I made the plan and stuck to the plan. I am feeling so G-O-O-D. What a wonderful week it’s been with the anchor of this writing/blogging/posting time. Feeling beyond G-O-O-D. Which brings me to the point of today’s post. WHAT NOW? Do I stop? Do I keep going? Do I go to 3 times a week? Do I go to 15 minutes a day? One time I heard some very wise words. “What works for you works.” And this, it seems, works for me, so I will continue. I learned a lot this week. 

1. It’s so good for me to have a plan and stick to it. And share the plan out loud. I shared a version of this with my mom’s group (that plan involved getting up before Mr. P – then I came to my senses since he is already a very early riser!). Sharing my intention to write out loud to my friends was so helpful. It’s energizing.

2. My timer is my friend. I knew this already, but it’s kind of like we renewed our vows this week, Flylady and I. I love my Flylady timer. It’s the only reason I get anything done. It also helps me take time to myself in little spurts of time when Bob is home so that I can communicate how much time I need and know that when I actually get time that I stay focused. (Unless, of course, what I need is just a plain old break! And then the timer is good for that too!)

3. I have a lot to say. I am the kind of person who processes best by writing. So this is a great outlet for me. I know some people who process best by talking, by listening, by drawing, by dancing what have you. Writing is the thing that lets my deepest most honest soulful thoughts have a straight path out without getting caught in a quagmire.

4. We all thrive with feedback. Sharing my commitment and experience is like an invitation for others to participate. This one is one of my favorites. I loved hearing from people this week. I’ve gotten feedback in the form of facebook likes and comments, retweets, blog comments, email notes and even an email note connection from one very special friend to another. It’s making this blog that at times I felt like no one ever read has a life of its own. I realize no one read it because I wasn’t posting on it. It was feeling like a dead weight – yet another think to think about in this busy life of mine. Now it feels like a light floating cloud where I can happily pop in for 30 minutes a day to share something. Such a transformation. I am already thinking of ways to invite others to share their commitments and then leverage all of our shared energy.

5. I remembered who I am. I get so immersed in my role as mom that sometimes I forget that I had a life before. It felt so good/odd to write that whole post yesterday about speaking to my 6th grade self. But that’s what came up in that moment. It struck me as funny that I didn’t even mention Mr. P once in that post. It now also strikes me as kinds of awesome. I can be a better mom by having my attention go elsewhere sometimes (when he’s napping or sleeping or with daddy or those few precious hours that we have the babysitter come) so that when it comes back to Mr. P I’m fresh and true (ok, my best version of fresh and true post-baby), not fried and spent.

So, what do you think? What reminds you who you are? What is your best way of processing? What makes you feel light and free? What are you committed to that a 30 minute a day practice could help you achieve?


This post is part of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.


Get the story behind “Good Things Darling,” the name of this blog.

Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

A Day In Pictures: Patchwork Santa Ana

If you read my post last week about Patchwork Long Beach, you probably thought to yourself ‘Wow, life can’t get much better than that.’ Then came Patchwork Santa Ana. Something about the vibe, energy and location of this Patchwork made the event even more quirkily colorful and eclectically inspiring. If you haven’t seen the fantastic article in the OC Register about Patchwork Santa Ana, check it out here.

First stop, the Clean Getaway Soap Co to see soapmakers Lindsey and Mikel Stone. I got a sample of this “best soap on earth” at Craftcation and was dying to get my hands on some more…

So was my husband. He picked out a whole bunch. And now our whole place smells amazing.

The crowds were a-buzzing. Every booth I stopped by had people coming and going and oohing and aahing.

I just had to stop in to see Jeanette of Sweet Perversion. I bought one of Jeannette’s cards for one of my most beloved F-bomb-dropping friends at Unique LA this February. Jeannette and I got to talking and she told me all about Craftcation and Patchwork. I’m forever grateful!

If you haven’t seen the Sweet Perversion line of “quaintly crass greetings, sweet stationery and printed goodness,” treat yourself to some fun and check it out here.

More Sweet Perversion goodies…

We stopped by the Home Skillet for some fries and kale salad…

We felt more amazing energy of the pumped-up crowd… Did I mention it was about a million degrees out? No one seemed to mind.

We stopped by Sass and Peril to check out their zoo of creations. It was hard not to buy one of everything. I think we came close. I saw on their Facebook page the next day that their Raccoon and Pirate Kitty screenprints are in the new Kindle Fire commercial. How cool is that?

We stopped in the Road Less Traveled Store, owned by Patchwork co-creator Delilah Snell. Love this window treatment!

That welcome sign is so welcoming just like the store itself…

Here’s just a taste of the many live musicians there that day…

Go Patchwork! Now the countdown is on for Patchwork Culver City at Helms Bakery on June 10th. I better get back to work getting Said The Butterfly ready! Will I see you there? I hope so.

Thank you darling readers for reading this, for being here, for being you.

Love, Melissa


Become a fan of the Said The Butterfly Facebook page here. When we reach 203 fans (three is my lucky number and we are only FIVE fans away!) we’re having a party-style-drawing for this “Balance is beautiful” journal:

See the Facebook page for the details on how to enter. Who’s gonna win? Will it be you? And don’t miss out on any of the creative fun. Get Good Things Darling delivered to your inbox. Enter your email in the box on the right here. 

A Day In Pictures: Patchwork Long Beach

Nothing gets me more fired up than seeing artists, designers and crafters all in one place selling their unique, handmade goods. Except maybe when there’s also live music and food trucks… That’s why I planned my May around the Patchwork Indie Arts and Crafts Festivals. First stop, Patchwork Long Beach on Sunday May 20th. Even though we had an action-packed day for my husband Bob’s birthday, we made Patchwork a huge part of our day of fun.

As soon as we arrived we ran into some new friends… it’s such a tiny little world! That’s Sim on the left, yours truly in the middle and Jamie on the right. All of the products in Jamie’s company, Maisha Designs, were handmade in Tanzania by members of a women’s tailoring group. Proceeds help support programming that promotes the alleviation of poverty. How amazing is that? Check out the Maisha Designs Facebook page here.

Then, we were instantly drawn to the live music… we tried to capture a shot of this darling little girl playing her red piano but alas, the moment had passed.

Food trucks! As much as I love the concept of food trucks, I have never actually eaten at one…

Until now! I made a B-line to The Lobsta Truck for a lobster roll. That is my idea of heaven on earth.

Bob had something else in mind. A red velvet cookie ice cream sandwich for the birthday boy!

I love this idea by ISM: A Community Project. They support collaborative creativity by producing international art experiments and providing free public programs. They were at Patchwork spreading the good word about their “Cheers” project. The idea: pick up a coaster and use the blank back as a canvas to share your paintings, photos or poetry.

All coasters will be on display at the ISM 10 year anniversary exhibition on July 7, 2012. I picked up three… I better get to work!

As a stationary lover and creator, I was totally drawn to the Merry Blues Art booth and was so happy to meet Ana Belen. What can I say, Ana’s setup is just awesome and so are her eco-friendly cards and products. The view of the water is a pretty magical backdrop. Check out Merry Blues Art on Facebook here.

There were so many mind-blowing products and booths. Of course I didn’t capture them all, but here are a few more favorites… Here’s Camille Larson of Garden Gnome Arts. Turquoise is my favorite color so I’m pretty sure that’s what magnetized me to her booth.

Her work is so smiley and bright…

I told you I love turquoise! So when I saw the official Backyard in a Jar “Jam Van” in person I was so excited. I was even happier to catch Patchwork co-creators Nicole Stevenson, left, and Delilah Snell, right, together. These super-crafty ladies are also the dynamic duo behind the Craftcation DIY and Indie Business conference I went to in Ventura in Late March.

Backyard in a Jar is Delilah’s line of hand-crafted artisan preserves from the yards & farms of Southern California. I wish I had gotten a shot of the white picket fence that lined the side of her booth. So charming! Check out the Backyard in a Jar Facebook page here.

Random Nicole! It was so great seeing all of Nicole’s one-of-a-kind clothing, art and accessories. I especially went crazy over the quirky-awesome hand-sewn onesies and t-shirts. Check out the Random Nicole Facebook page here.

Here’s Bob checking out the onesies… And please note, Bob is still wearing his bright yellow pit pass from the 3-year-old’s monster truck birthday party we had been to that morning. Always an adventure!

Here’s an example of two creators working together to share a space. On the left, Gilded Moon Jewelry. On the right, Two Hand Design. Not my finest photography moment, it’s a little dark, but nonetheless…

I am such a fan of the artful and iconic nature of Two Hand Design.

And I love the soulful pieces by Gilded Moon Jewelry.

Well… that’s my photo journey of Patchwork Long Beach. This post is dedicated to all of the amazing creators out there, you rule! And a special birthday shout-out to my partner-in-Patchwork-crime that day, the birthday boy himself, my husband Bob. Here’s a shot of him enjoying some delicious wine at his birthday dinner later that night…


Now I better get back to work getting my Said The Butterfly gifts and goodies ready for Patchwork Culver City! Will I see you there? I hope so.

Thank you darling readers for reading this, for being here, for being you!

Love, Melissa


Become a fan of the Said The Butterfly Facebook page here. When we reach 203 fans (three is my lucky number!) we’re having a party-style-drawing for this “Balance is beautiful” journal:

See the Facebook page for the details on how to enter. Who’s gonna win? Will it be you? And don’t miss out on any of the creative fun. Get Good Things Darling delivered to your inbox. Enter your email in the box on the right here. 

A Day In Pictures: Stems Mother’s Day Art Show

I had such a great time at the Mother’s Day show at Stems Floral Design last weekend. It was an exciting day debuting the new line of Said The Butterfly originals plus all kinds of new items including bookmarks, notebooks and tiles. Most of all I loved sharing all of this with great friends old and new. So much to tell, so much to share. I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.

Here I am all set up and ready to go:

I can’t even tell you how exciting it is seeing all twenty originals as cards as last.

Tiles! Brand new Said The Butterfly offering…

Part of my new improved display thanks to soooo much new knowledge and inspiration from the Craftcation Indie Business and DIY conference I went to in late March.

First buyer of the day. She got teary eyed when she saw the “You’re My Favorite Song” card. I love love love knowing what speaks to people. I also love that that line came from a poem I wrote for my husband Bob for his 30th birthday a few years ago.

And there’s Bob! Taking a yoga break/lesson from Lincoln. Bob needed the break after helping me setup all morning. Lincoln is such a great teacher!

Lincoln picked out a few things. So did his Mama.

Bookmarks for Mother’s Day! Anthony, Francesca and Giana. They were going to add these to their Mother’s Day cards. Good thinking…

The Lublin clan. I think they bought one of everything, including an original. Selling an original is always especially meaningful to me. This one was “Life is one great big unfolding yes.” Jenn is the inspired and gifted photographer behind my recent Said The Butterfly photo shoot.

Maria! A Mother’s Day gift :)

I bet Judy is going to fill up this whole journal. How exciting :)

A print for Susan. “Every time I think of you I smile inside and out.” I am so in love with seeing which pieces speak to people.

Bernadette spotting! Bern is my oldest (as in I have known her the very longest since freshman year in high school back east) friend in LA and one of the most avid readers I know.

You guessed it! That’s my sister Lauren making a few Said The Butterfly purchases. I love that she didn’t even know I had tiles. It’s not often that Lauren does not know something about me. Is that smile priceless or what?

Courtney brings in the aloha…

A journal for Christina’s mom :) Christina was also selling her amazing creations at this show. Keep scrolling, you’ll see.

Gemma Del Rio and her magnificent scarves. I love how bright they are. They look so great blowing in the breeze. Peacocks and butterflies and leaves and flowers and abstracts, oh my!

Sarah Munoz of TSB Designs. That’s short for The Space Between. Her jewelry is stunning and so unique. Happy to say I have several pieces I’ve gotten as gifts from my sister.

Christina Pezzolo and her magical mermaid handmade wrap towels. I love how her daughter was her model in those photos in the front. Priceless!

There were about nine of us artists. I didn’t get pictures of everyone, but there was so much creativity flowing that day.

Happy shoppers, sunny gorgeous day. On more than one instance I found myself saying “I feel like I’m in a movie set.” That’s how charming Stems is.

More happy shoppers…

Yes, that is the ocean right across the way from Stems and its home in magical Malaga Cove. This place will always have an extra special place in my heart because my sweet, darling mentor and friend Gemma Taccogna‘s studio was in Malaga Cove for years way back when, way before my time here in Los Angeles. But her tile work is still all over the plaza… and of course, so is her spirit.

A big Said The Butterfly thank you to Katie, the owner of Stems and the mastermind behind this fabulous show. Thank you Katie!

My next show is Patchwork Culver City and I’m super-beyond-excited for that too.

Thank you friends old and new, near and far for showing me so much love that day. You are appreciated more than you’ll ever know. And thank you darling readers for reading this, for being here, for being you!

Love, Melissa


Become a fan of the Said The Butterfly Facebook page here. When we reach 203 fans (three is my lucky number!) we’re having a party-style-drawing for a journal. Who’s gonna win? Will it be you???

On Meeting Gemma Taccogna, My Mr. Miyagi

Hi darling readers, I am taking a break from the creative alphabet today. I sat down to write “C is for…” but then this poured out instead. And you know what, I am glad it did.

If you’ve ever talked to me for more than 5 minutes, chances are I’ve talked to you about Gemma Taccogna. But just in case I didn’t, or if you’re always up for more of my many Gemma stories, I have a new one for you today.

A peek into my studio. As you can see, I have not kept up the lesson to keep the paint organized by color.

I met Gemma in the spring of 2002. I had been in Los Angeles for just about a year and I felt like an alien. I knew almost no one and the prospect of feeling as connected and loved as I had with all of my friends and family back east felt slim to none.

Then one fateful day I met Gemma. I was 25, Gemma was 79. Her dear daughter Gemi inspired the whole meeting. See, they were my neighbors. But I, in all of my focusing on being an alien in martian territory, failed to realize this. Gemi came over one day and introduced herself. After just a few minutes she proclaimed, “You have to meet my mother.”

My eyes tear up every time I think of this. Right now, they are tearing up. For me, it feels like my soul has been struck by some magic chord. It felt like it then and now, almost ten years from that day, it still feels that way.

That summer, I joined Gemma’s classes that she taught in her living-room-turned-studio, right next door to where I was living. I’d stay long after class, for hours on end, talking to Gemma. She would invariably put me to work, which I loved.

Another peek into my studio. Paint bottles everywhere...

One of my first jobs was organizing the paint by color. That is, remove the hundreds, dare I say thousands, of small paint bottles from their racks, and order them by shades of colors so that from a distance the bright whites led to the beiges to the yellows to the oranges to the reds… you get it.

This took not just hours, but days. Was there a moment when I wondered what was this woman trying to teach me? YES! And I didn’t figure it out until years later. Part of it was commitment. Was she testing me out to see how committed I was? Part of it was she could use the help. Part of it was she enjoyed having me around and the job kept me there. The truth is, I so enjoyed being there I often did the dishes and scrubbed the counters and replaced the paper on the table just to stay longer and longer.

Eventually these charades were no longer necessary and Gemma proclaimed I was part of the ‘famiglia’ – a phrase I will forever treasure. Perhaps my biggest theory is that she was preparing me for some future I could not even imagine yet. It occurred to me recently I was not organizing the paint by color. I was “waxing on and waxing off.” I was Daniel-son and Gemma was my Mr. Miyagi. That whole summer and for the next five years – until her passing in 2007 – I studied with Gemma and had the honor and joy of calling her my darling, dear friend. A legendary creator took me under wing and now I could swear I have wings.

I would love for you to meet Gemma, too. If you have not seen this mini documentary by her granddaughter Evie Elman, I would love you to check it out. You can also check out this bio of Gemma that I wrote. It originally appeared as Gemma’s obituary – her family gave me the privelege of celebrating my dear friend’s life in this way.

PS – I am having so much fun with Pinterest right now, are you? Check out my Gemma Taccogna Board here.

A is for Amazement

"Abundance" is one of my favorite A words and the title of this piece I did in 2003.

There are words I use all the time. They’re my friends, my confidants, the pillars of what I care about and believe in. They’re my creative alphabet. I’ve decided to share them with you here, one at a time and in alphabetical order starting with the letter A.

My favorite “A” words are abundance, awe, amazing, adventure and “and.” They’re full of power, possibility, appreciation, noticing, celebrating and continuing. They can be summed up into one truly awe-some word. Amazement.

I can’t take credit for this one. This one comes from one of my poet-heroes, Mary Oliver. Here’s an excerpt from her poem, “When Death Comes.”

“When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

For me, this is about living, really living. It’s about being so open to absorbing the magnificence of the world around us. It’s about feeding our souls by the very way we live.

Here’s to amazement and to walking through life in a constant state of wonder. Thank you, Mary Oliver.

Good things,

Lessons from Twelve Resting Caterpillars

I have twelve caterpillars lying on my coffeetable. They’ve been there since last weekend resting and feeding and growing. But they are by no means ready to fly. Sometimes they scream at me:

“Hey you, get over here and work on me!”

“Don’t you wanna get a little creative?”

“Come on! Stop everything else. And start painting.”

“Can’t you finish what you start?”

But mostly, they whisper to me ever so sweetly:

“It’s ok… you’re doing your best.”

“We’ll be here when you’re ready for us.”

“You’re doing so many good things right now. We’ll wait.”

“Thank you for making us. We wouldn’t even exist without you.”

And then they confide in me…

“We’re in no rush. We are so happy to be resting and at peace.”

So I am reporting to you, darling readers, and I’ve made peace with it in my mind, that the major studio time that I told you was coming, has come and gone. And I have twelve half-sort-of-started caterpillar paintings to show for it. They are farther along than the blank panels you see above. But they are by no means ready to share with you. So I am faced with the great unknown. What to tell you? What to make this post about now that we are already this far into it? The truth. I promised this to you in my very first post, I just didn’t think it would be happening so soon. My creative process is taking a little longer this time. I need to listen to the lessons from my own writing and artwork. To have the faith to “just see.”

Another lesson? Balance really is beautiful. And I am proud of myself for not just writing that and painting that and selling cards that say that… but I believe that. And I’ve had a remarkably balanced few weekends. I joined a new gym. I’ve had some extra-special quality time with my husband. I even had a day-long business and budget meeting for Said The Butterfly. These things are so important. Almost as important as the paintings themselves are the managing the details that allow me to make them, sell them and share them with the world. I even took two naps and got a mani and pedi. I know! Indulgent and amazing.

I also think of my frustrated self this time about four years ago. I hadn’t painted or written one thing in what felt like forever. I confided in Gemma like I always did and she reassured me with clarity and brilliance like she always did. “You’re living it,” she said. “When you’re ready, you’ll make a million paintings and write a million books. Right now, darling, you are living it.” * Gemma made everything make sense. Everything was exactly as it should be.

I can’t wait to share with you completed works of art that emerge from these resting caterpillars. Until then, let’s have the faith to listen to the message from the mellow tree. Let’s remember that balance really is beautiful. Let’s live it. Good things, Melissa

*Please note it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken in person to my dear friend Gemma Taccogna. She passed away in May of 2007, the day before her 84th birthday. Any attempt I make to quote her on this blog is the essence of these beautiful memories that I am so grateful for. “You’re living it” is an exact quote that I will never forget. The rest is the essence of what followed.




The World Beyond The Painting

In my last post, you saw my most recent painting: Dream of the Sunrise Diver.

What you didn’t see is the world that existed beyond the painting. The tubes of paint and the kitchen-table-turned-ideal-studio space that, to me, in moments of total awareness and appreciation, became just as colorful and inspiring as the painting itself. I knew this was happening as it happened and I took a ton of photos of the still lifes that created themselves as I worked. Here are a few of my favorites:

If you’re new to Good Things Darling, I’d love you to check out my first post, a letter to you darling readers. And my second post, ten reasons to subscribe to this very blog.

That’s all for now, darlings. Have a wonderful evening, wherever you are. I hope you notice the natural compositions in your world. I hope I do too. Good things, Melissa