Monday, December 22, 2008

Perhaps She's Gone On Holiday ? - Sending Holiday Wishes

(lovebird on my tree - I made 12 of them ! I love them !!!)

So I was extremely impressed with how very busy and productive people were with their Blogs over the weekend and today as we enter the final prep days before Christmas. Where are you finding the energy to do it all, People ??? And can you pul-ease pass some down my way ???

I have been having a hard time keeping up with the reading of the wonderful blogs in my blog roll let alone finding the time to write or edit photos, get a post up here ! I want to play but the other stuff is taking over. Stuff like the baking and wrapping and card writing...
But also stuff like a 13 hour power failure on Saturday - from 1:00 in the afternoon until 4:30 or so in the deep, dark, freezing cold, icicle toilet bowl of a night ! Or the 16 inches of snow we got between Friday afternoon and this morning !

(Chica says "Snow, schmow ! Like any good Lab, I like my water in liquid form !!!)

Were we excited about the Winter Solstice ? Only the part that means the longer days are coming back eventually !

Were we still able to find the beauty in the Winter Season ?

Yes ! As long as it was from the warmer side of the window glass ! "Let the HIBERNATION begin !" says Kim !

But there is still some holiday stuff to celebrate and enjoy first !

So my friends, I have decided to take a break from posting until after I return from my Christmas Weekend in Montreal on the 29th or so. I will be visiting my good friends and spreading holiday cheer until Christmas day whenever I have a chance !

I am sending sincere and very warms wishes to all my Blogland friends for a holiday full of peaceful soul moments, heartfelt laughter and glowing love all around !

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My True Love Gave to Me ....

Our First Christmas - Christmas 2001

When David and I got married, it was time to start new traditions as a couple. This was and still is important to me. I come from a family that had some wonderful if not weird traditions that somehow marked us as uniquely "deBroin", like the fact that we had to tape the plastic doll head of our hideously ugly tree topper angel on each year but kept on using her anyway. (My sister, Kristina, just finally retired her this year !) Or the fact that my dad would shine up his mother's silver nut bowls (we were so not a shiny silver family the rest of the year !!!) and fill them with almonds, walnuts and filberts. We had lots of ups and downs growing up but Christmas was sacred somehow and all other crap was shelved in favor of the de Broin Christmas.

This added some pressure when it came to creating new traditions just for the two of us. David's family is a lot less focused on traditions and I think he was open to anything that would make his new bride happy.

One of the things I wanted to include was an advent calendar. We used to have the cheap paper ones with the few chocolate pieces taped inside when we were kids. I remember being so excited about the marking off the days until the 25th by opening up those little doors! I also thought about the song the Twelve Days of Christmas and the gifts given from one's true love. Put all of this together and you get :

the Mailhot 12 Days of Christmas Love Calendar !

Okay, I just named it today so it isn't perfect but the tradition has become so !

We have one of those 25 pocket felt advent calendars. As December starts, I cut up some cardstock into little cards that fit the pockets and make a pile of 12 cards for each of us. We take time to write some Christmas Love notes on the cards and fill the pockets of the calendar up, the 13th through 25th. Some years we set a theme of sorts, like "What I love about you is.." or last year's "If there were no money, time, location, etc constraints, I would give you ...". We read the notes with each other each morning for 12 days, our special moment together as each wintery day begins.

Here's a sample of some of what we wrote last year :(you can click to enlarge it)

We are just two in our family (I know, plus the furry kids), and David and I will be celebrating our 8th Christmas together as a married couple. We have built our own special Christmas traditions, wonderful and weird, that I treasure each year. Christmas is never really perfect all around - it wasn't when I was a kid either. But finding ways to make the love light that is perfect.

Merry, merry Christmas to the man
who makes me laugh each and every day,
the man I love more than any one else in the world,
my Husband
and my best friend forever,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hot Tramp, I Love You So !!!

Today is Play Day at The Queen of Arts Studio ! Woohoo !

Started off by decking the hall a little - finishing up the tree, hanging the mistletoe, putting bows on some stuff, etc...

Then I needed a break from Christmas so I headed to the studio to do a journal page. Looking for inspiration, I picked out one of my "Trust Cards" I just bought from Jen Lemen. The card said :

"You can be Brave in the dark."

Ooooo... I can ???

Can I ???

I can be brave in the dark if I know I will eventually be back in the light.

This made me think of a butterfly, growing from its caterpillar stage, deep in the darkness of its coccoon. The caterpillar is brave in the dark because it knows that when the light comes, it will be ready to spread its wings and fly...

"A Butterfly to Be" - Art Journal Page
The background for this page has that glorious black Golden gesso sponged on with a makeup sponge to make the block pattern in the back. Then I used Portfolio Water Soluable Oil Pastels in black and teal scribbled in between the blocks. A wet brush to smear the whole thing around and I had a gorgeous wash of color on top of the gesso resist. One thing you should know about these pastels, is that though they have magnificent bright color, they contatin oil that is very difficult to write with anything on top of, even when dry. I have killed quite a few Sharpies, paint pens, gel pens, etc. trying this out. You can paint over them with acrylic which is what I did around my butterfly's red "coccoon" cocktail gown. I did manage to use a paint pen for the quote at the top but I am not sure if I will be able to use it for anything else in the future ! (If anyone knows of anything else that works, please let me know !)

After my journal page, I decided it was time to play with ......


Yes the Baby has arrived ! And since Hubby is at work today, I get to play with Baby all by myself !!!

You got your Mother in a Whirl is right !!! Man, this baby can shoot !

Check these out (I had to shrink them big time to get them onto Blogger but still !) :

Azzy Cat

The Chica-Girl

Some Hall Decking taken on the deck outside

Close-up - How Festive, n'est pas ?

A window shot of my Decked Branches in the Livingroom

Imagine what the photos will look like when I actually figure out how the Canon Rebel Xsi really works !!!!!

Now it's time for some Rockin' Around That Christmas Tree, Baby !!! Listen to this and boogie for me !!!!

Hot Tramp, I love you so !!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Queen's Got Her Groove Back ! - Joys of the Season

So the Queen has her groove back. I am not dancing to a crazy, rocking beat or anything ! But I am gently swaying, enjoying the mood... Think Johnny Mathis singing "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." more than Brenda Lee or Hall and Oates "Rockin' around the Christmas tree.." but at least I am getting there.

Getting there in Kim time...the only way to go for me, it would seem, this year...
I think this is a good thing. You know, it seems like the world puts expectations of the Perfect Christmas on us, but really it is the expectations I have for myself that can be a real killer !!! This year, I lowered them waaaaaaaay down - almost to nothing and I think it will be a Christmas to remember just because of that fact.
The only expectation I kept was that I give some extra loving to those I love and to let them know how much I care. That can be in a word, a card, a gift, a hug, a shared song, whatever... I could never find a gift that would equal their significance in my world anyway so I have left that "perfectionist" attitude behind in favor of the really perfect gift ... Love !

Along the way, I have been learning some more about that never-ending lesson - Loving Myself ! I have been focusing only on what brings me joy and not on what fulfills my screwed up notion of what the perfect Christmas would be ! Now that is loving yourself !!! And I have discovered what I really love about the holiday in the process - the colors, the smells, the old traditions (only if they still work !!!) , the new traditions (finding ways to make it work in the Moment) and the time spent loving one another. Ah, the Gifts of the Season !

**********************(seg way)************************

I have been so luck lately in terms of receiving gifts ! Gifts from the universe keep landing in my lap and I am so very grateful for that ! It feels like that thing about when you give a little extra, give consciously, you will receive the rewards. I feel so rewarded !!!! Here are a couple of gifts that came my way recently:

1) I won a huge and very generous giveaway from Inka at Inkastamps about a month ago. Inka hosts blog candy giveaways of her magnificently arty unmounted rubber stamps on her blog each week, but I was fortunate enough to win the mother load of stamps from the BLOG Candy Party that Inka and several of her designers hosted ! Check out my extremely generous prize !!!(Thanks again, Inka !)

(There are over 20 gorgeous stamps here but they are difficult to photograph well - I promise to play with them a a lot soon and show you better pictures )

(This is one of my favorites - a fabulous new alphabet for the Queen's Art Journal !)

2) I also won the prize for the GPP Street Team Crusade #25 - Properties of Gesso for November. Michelle Ward is always a source of amazing inspiration for me - whether it is for creating art that is a true expression of self or living a creative life. I feel so lucky to have won a gift from her. She also takes the time and puts such care into making her gifts feel like a party in a package ! (Thanks again, so much , Michelle !!) Check this out phenomenal "Black and White and Red All Over" Prize as I like to call it :

(All of this was in my cardboard box !!!)

(Lots of little packages wrapped up added to the opening fun ! Love PopRocks - candy of my childhood!)

(Gorgeous hand written note from the Wonderful Michelle herself !!!)

(All the gifts displayed - included a "HIM" CD, the coolest goth tattoo scissors, and designer tissues with black and white flourishes !)

3) Another gift I received lately actually comes from myself ! A gift for me from me !!! Don't you just love that ?! The great thing is that I always know exactly what I want !!!;-)

I purchased these fantastic little tools from Jen Lemen's Etsy shop - Trust Cards. Not only are they gorgeous (love the toes !) but they hold little loving messages on each and every one - talk about gifts from the Universe ! And you can choose one from the cute envelope whenever you need one ! Jen's is one of those blogs that always brings me sighs and peaceful hums of understanding. Check her out here.

And finally I have to acknowledge the gifts I receive everyday from my Blogland Sisters - the arty ones, the deep seeker ones, the perfectly crazy ones, the questioning ones, and the "let's get real" ones. The gifts you give me are support, acknowledgement, hugs, laughter, eye-candy, food for thought, and above all, incredible inspiration to live my true creative life to the fullest.

To all of you, I am

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What Is Right With You ?

"Do We Have To Do This ?????!!!!" OR

"Does this hat make me look fat ?"

Today I don't feel like it. I don't feel like being the best me. I don't feel like creating. I don't feel like improving myself. I am tired. I just want to go brain dead for the day.

Even as I type this I know it is not completely true. What I want (at least what my soul really wants !) is to be filled effortlessly with an amazing energy of love and courage that will carry me through the day and see me arrive at the other side with wonderous accomplishments that have made a difference in the world.

But effortlessly, you know.... not with the big struggle to push the weights weighing me down off my shoulders, back, neck etc....

Know any tricks to make it easy ?

"Just be in the moment" is the answer that keeps coming to me.


"Love is the answer to every question" - self-love today I think...


"Be gentle with yourself." - that's a nice one...


"Cradle your wounded places like precious babies." - my favorite Sark words ever I think. That one makes the hot tears come...

I know I get into these kinds of moods when I come back from time with my family and especially Katie. I get my love fix big time but then I come back home and it takes just a few days for it to all get sucked out of me. I also know that seeing that baby brings up things about our decision not to have kids. I don't regret that decision - if I could go back, I would make the same one again. It was made with a lot of love and understanding at the time and I think it will be all okay in the long run. It is just that seeing Katie and all her wonder, and knowing I am 43 and there is no way I will ever give birth to a child of my own, well, somewhere in me, I am mourning that... If I will never be a mother, will I ever feel like a complete woman ? I have hope that I will but I think I have to get over the mourning part first ...

Those are some of my wounded places that need some cradling...

I will be gentle with myself and let myself feel that sadness...

I will love myself through the rough days, because I am so exquisitely beautiful inside and because, I know, love is the answer...

And in this moment, I can really see so very many things that are right with me....

Monday, December 8, 2008

Susan Tuttle's Exhibition 36 Book Giveaway Contest

So by now so many of you must have seen the wonderful book recently released by the talented and beautiful Susan Tuttle, Exhibition 36 - Mixed Media Demonstrations and Explorations now available on Amazon and in bookstores.
It is the Number 1 Book on my Christmas List !!! Please Santa ! I have been a good little artist all year !
Anyhow, Susan has a book giveaway contest right now on her blog Ilka's Attic and just in case Santa has other plans for me, I wanted to have my chance at winning this wonderful work of art.
If you are unfamiliar with Susan's work, you really should check out her blog to see the wonderful things she is up to, including the book and her digital, mixed media and photography work. She writes magical and moving posts, and she has the best taste in studio play time music around ! She is also one of the kindest and most sincere commentors I have ever had the pleasure of having visit my blog. Basically, I love this awesome artist chick !!!!
Good luck to all the contest participants ! And Susan, I wish you all the success and bliss this life has to offer!

So In Love with You, Baby ! and Some Christmas Alterations

Hey there ! I am back ! Man, being away from Blogland for 4 or 5 days sure means a lot of catch up when you get back ! You guys have all been up to such creative stuff ! And the pace of the holidays is rolling into high gear, it would seem. I don't think I could ever catch up so I have really decided to give up trying. It will be what it will be... I give myself permission to do things in Kim Time and not feel guilty about it !

So, I am completely and totally in :

(art journal page- December 08)

******** CAUTION ******** Baby Photos Alert !!!***********************

How could I not, though ? Check out some of the many faces of Kate :

She wakes up singing...

She is The Princess of Wet Raspberries !

She has discovered her innner voice and uses it full force whenever possible !

She has happily mastered the fine art of choosing
Cheerios over mango chunks with delicate fingers.

She has great taste in music - her favorite right now is
"If You Are Happy and You Know It" !

But this Baby is not all fluff !
She has her serious moments of deep thought too.

But it's that sense of humour that gets me every time !
(I dare you to not giggle out loud when you look at this shot !)

Okay, that's done ! Baby Photo Alert is now over !

(feel free to grab this image if you want it - it is a free sample from Dover)

So I have been asking around and it would seem that I am not the only one that is not feeling the Christmas Season as per usual this year. I honestly think this is a very good thing. I think that between the scary economy we are dealing with and the scary world in general, many of us are feeling the need to get back to what is real and what is important. What could be bad about that ?

This will be reflected in the decorating, the gift buying and the tradition building in our house this year for sure ! I used to be pretty Martha-esque in the old days, but this year, I am especially conscious of only doing what brings me real joy.

A little tree, a few strings of white lights on the pines trees in our front yard, and a little shrine to the season on the hutch. A few evenings with eggnog and spiced rum as cocktails will set the mood too. Candles and some gentle Christmas tunes to create by will make my nest a cozy place to winter...

David and I will even be skipping the usual Christmas Eve 6 hour drive up to Montreal and actually spend our first Christmas alone together at home in 8 years of marriage. We will head up and have a Boxing Day Bonanza of Family Fun for the whole weekend after the 25th. (Tobogganing, potluck meals and lots of time with the wonderful nieces and nephews !). My two sisters and I are so excited about the extended time we will have together and the fact that we no longer have to run around trying to make every one else happy ! Taking away that pressure to make it all "perfect" on that one day is the best gift to our family we can give and we intend on maiking it a new tradition !

Our only extravagance, (and I mean extravagance !!!!!) is the gift what David and I bought for ourselves as a couple this year. Now keep in mind that we don't have kids. And that we have been married for 8 years as of this December 30th. Remember that and try to keep your jealousy at bay when I tell you that we bought this :

SANTA BABY !!!!!!!!

along with all the bells and whistles, two additonal lenses and the case, a great deal on Cyber Monday !!!! (Way to Go, Computer Geek Bargain Hunter Extraordinaire !!!) I am so excited ! Just wait to see what Katie Photos come out like with this baby !!!!
Our new addition, Rebel Rebel, as I call it ( love Bowie !!), will play a central part in the festivities on Christmas day too. David and I are planning a special Christmas photoshoot outing on the day, taking Rebel for a test drive !!! I am thinking Elf Hats for us ( David will so love an elf hat ! ;-)) and maybe reindeer antlers for the Chica-Dog ?!
Are you altering your Holiday Season this year ? I hope whatever you do, that it is a magical one full of memory-making moments !

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Following My Northern Star...

So my sister calls me up and says "Listen to this." So I listen... What do I hear ? I hear the music of Kate. She is cooing and "da-da-da"-ing and then laughing to herself. My heart is melting, crying really, to see and hear her make those noises in person.

Then, the kicker !

My sister send me these, telling me she is trying my photoshoot technique outside in the snow :

Now keep in mind, it is December 2nd and I am still thinking about how I wish I could go out and take a dip in the pool in between making stuff for the Etsy shop. (Pool has been taken down since Sept.1). I have bought exactly two gifts so far - one on line and one because I had a coupon to use at the craft store.

I haven't made myself a beautiful advent calendar like I have been wanting to do.

I haven't finished the ornaments I wanted to add to the Etsy shop a week ago.

I haven't brought Christmas decorations up from the basement.

I haven't made Christmas cards.

I haven't even thought about baking.

Not to mention, Tim Holtz is doing his "12 Tags of Christmas" this week with fantastic giveaways everyday and I will miss it all if I go away to to my sister's house two hours north of Montreal where Dial-Up Internet is still the Vogue !

Does all of this stop me from dropping everything and packing my bags up to hit the road to see that Sweet Baby Girl ????

Nope !

Life is too short and that Baby is growing too fast ! Got to go where my heart takes me.

The real meaning of Christmas for me is sharing love with your family and friends. I figure by heading up there today and sharing the love with that kid (not to mention her mom, her brother, her dad and all the other great people I will see while I am there !), I am actually putting myself out in front in the Christmas race...

Oh, you mean, it is NOT a race ??? My bad !;-)

Talk to you Sunday when I get back from getting the best gifts of the season !

Monday, December 1, 2008

Give-away winner and a Heart-Felt Weekend

Welcome to the month of December ! I am still feeling like this season is rushing me on big time, but it is gradually getting a bit better. I am good as long as I keep things going at my own pace and avoid giving into the crazy mad dash towards .... towards I don't know what, but it sure seems like the world is in a hurry to get there...

Anyhow, this weekend was a great girlfriend time. My friend Suzanne was here from Thursday night until yesterday morning and we had a good mix of girlie/arty things going on, like usual.

Suzanne is an artist too. She says she is more of an art technician but she does have a fantastic eye that she doesn't always give herself credit for. She does beautiful stain glass pieces, sews wonderfully and has also gotten into the fiber arts, felting her heart out all over the place. I asked her for a felt scarf for my birthday back in October but she suggested that we make it together this weekend and that's what we did !
Friday afternoon, after the crazy morning crowds, we headed to a wool and yarn shop Suzanne found nearby and bought some gorgeous wool fibers. Saturday am we started the designing process. After about 4 hours of wet felting, rolling the fibers into felt, and at least a pound of candy to keep us going, my beautiful 6 ft long felt scarf was done ! Check it out :

The colors in these pretty crappy photos read more blue than the turquoise the scarf really is (damn flash, no sunlight for photos in NH today !) but it is just beautiful and oh so cozy ! I love how the flowers turned out so watercolor-ish and also how the synthetic wool fibers for the stems added such great texture ! Thanks again, so much, Suzy ! I love it !!!

I also did some needle felting as Suzy rolled our scarf-sushi for a few hours. I used a foam (washed) ball of Chica's and created this cute felt bowl, perfect for your change :

your jewelry :

or your rocks :

and it's even cuter with a twin !

Not only that but it won't break into a million pieces if you drop it on your tile floor ! Guess what a few of my friends may be getting for Xmas ?

And now an important announcement :

The cutest Computer Geek in the land has chosen and

the Winner of the 100th Post Give-Away is :

Lesley at the Funky Art Queen !!! Yay !!! Lesley chose the "Diva" magnets from my Etsy shop as her prize, wanting a couple for herself and to share the others with her "diva" friends ! Cool , huh ? Lesley, send me your snail mail address at and I will send you off your prize asap !

Thank you so much for all the wonderful congratulations and encouragement in your comments ! It means so very much too me. This blog and my fantastic blog community are often my bright sunshine on a cloudy day, and for that I am truly grateful !

Let's go forth and conquer December !!! Happy Monday !