Thursday, May 31, 2012

Paint Party Friday: Week 12

Happy PPF!

Can't wait to show you what I've been working on . . . .

Okay, so if you read this post about "A Boy & His Guitar," then you know I've been working on some annual Birthday Gifts that I give to my little friends Camden and Ashton, a brother and sister who were born on the same day exactly seven years apart.

Well, Ashton's is now complete, and this time around, I took step-by-step pictures of the gift - a 20 x 20 decorative canvas pillow - as it was being created. I've never painted a pillow before, but when I saw the canvas case online recently, I knew that I wanted to give it a try. Wanna see the process?  

Canvas case covered in Gesso and sketched in pencil

Adding color with Caran D'ache watercolor and acrylic paints

Finished with metallic and gel pens, additional pencil and polka dots

Oh! And a handmade fabric flower with a Swarovski crystal button for her hair

"Love Lives Here"

I know the colors will compliment her room (because I helped her Mom decorate it ;) and I hope that the (newly) 12-year-old will love it as much as I love her!

Thanks for your time and have fun at the Party . . . .

Kristin xo

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Boy & His Guitar!

"Cam's Guitar"
12 x 12 Gallery-wrapped Canvas

My little friend Camden turned 5 yesterday. He loves guitars (we may have a future Rock Star in our midst) so it was no surprise that his Birthday Party invitations featured them. Now, I have - for every year of his life - made a scrapbook for he and his sister, who were each born on the same day, seven years apart (I know, right) for their special presents. 

Remember this one?

From Camden's Birthday Book, 2010

But this year, I decided to go another route and create something for them both that spoke about them and their passions. I hope they're a hit . . . here's my attempt for Camden:

Drawn freehand from an image on his invitation,
using the colors of his room for inspiration

Acrylic, Caran D'ache watercolor, oil pastels and fine glitter

Gallery-wrapped sides covered in distressed wallet-sized photos
from last year's birthday party.
{Giving credit to the hubby for this idea}

A smudge of oil pastels completes the look

Whew! One down, one to go (er, complete) . . . finger's crossed, I'll have his sister's special gift to share with you for PPF . . . .

Until then,
Kristin xo

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ice Cream Facts & Trivia . . .

(Web source)
"Life is like an ice cream cone, you have to lick it one day at a time" 
-- Charles M. Schulz

As we continue to count down the days, I thought it would be fun to share a few facts about the star of our show: sweet, cool & colorful Ice Cream . . . . 

Did you know?

Ice cream was made available to the general public for the first time in France at a cafe in 1670.

In 1700 the delectable treat was historically documented as being enjoyed in America. This date was in a letter written by a guest of William Bladen, Maryland's governor at the time. However, Ice cream was enjoyed in the Far East and Europe for over a thousand years before the U.S. even existed. A popular legend is that, in the first century, a Roman emperor commanded his slaves to run up to the mountains to collect ice and snow. The flavored ices supposedly preceded the ice cream that we know and love today.

The first advertisement for ice cream appeared in the New York Gazette in 1777.

In 1904, a New York City ice cream seller is reported to have invented the cone. He ran out of serving cups, so he asked a nearby waffle vendor to make some thin waffles to wrap around his scoops of ice cream. He patented his cone idea and they were a big hit at the World's Fair the following year.

In the 1920's, immigrants that arrived at Ellis Island were given some food that was considered typically American. When given ice cream, many of them tried to spread it on bread - they thought it was frozen butter!

Americans consume the most ice cream in the world. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, each American consumes over 48 pints a year. Surprisingly, it is not the hot dry states that consume the most. Nebraska is the #1 state for eating the most ice cream every year.

The United States produces 800 million gallons of ice cream every year.

It takes 12 pounds of milk to make one gallon of ice cream.

98% of all households purchase ice cream. Children ages 2 -12 and adults aged 45 and over consume the most.

There is more ice cream sold on Sunday than any other day of the week.

The biggest ice cream sundae ever made was on July 24, 1988. It contained 20.27 tons of ice cream, 4.39 tons of syrup and 5.22 pounds of topping!

The average number of licks it takes to polish off on single scoop on an ice cream cone is about fifty.

{Information found from web searches and sources such as Happy Life Quotes}

Hungry for more? Check out all the SOC2 links below:

Kristin xo

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Paint Party Friday: Week 11


First let me say how excited I am to have been selected as this week's Featured Artist for Paint Party Friday! I'm amazed and inspired week after week by all the talent showcased through PPF, and am honored to share a bit about my painting journey this time around. Thank you Kristin and Eva for your hard work, care and support of us all. Blog Land would not be the same without you!

For my submission, I wanted to create something that was colorful, quirky and representative of my most recent work. Since I've been doing a lot of long-necked ladies lately, I thought PPF might like to live there too and and since it's for a Paint Party, I decided to play with the idea of multi-colored strands of hair. The funky, glittery stars (which I seem to pop in everywhere these days) are a nod to my blog, Twinkle, Twinkle.

Wanna see more?! Well, okay then:

9 x 12 Acrylics on Watercolor

A mix of matte and iridescent acrylics, acrylic ink and fine glitter

The smudging of PPF was a last minute "accident." 
I liked the look so much, that I went back and "messed it up" even more

Thanks again to Kristin, Eva and You! I so appreciate your time and support.

Kristin xo

Looking for The Summer of Color? Read all about it here!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gifts, Goodies & Giveaways . . .

Okay, so I lied. I told you that I'd use a Random Number Generator to select the winner of my giveaway for Amy's All TOgether Now, but I didn't take into account the other kind comments from those who weren't playing along, so I had my kid stick her hands in a bowl and pick a winner that way instead. (I think it makes for a cuter picture anyway). But before we go there, I want to show you some beautiful things I recently received from Blog Land. . . .

So I was hopping around a while ago and saw that Cameron was offering to send some of her handmade stickers to anyone who asked. I thought that was so generous (which really describes her: she does trades with other artists and puts her heart and soul into personalizing each one) so I threw my hand up and stalked the mail lady (okay, patiently waited for like 2 days ;) until I got these:

Not one, but 4 beautiful stickers from Cameron

But they didn't come alone! She also included several, beautiful, vintage and otherwise goodies as well. Now, how cool is this:

Look: tiny handmade envelopes and a vintage valentine

Thank you Cameron, I am thrilled to have them!

Then, I made an Etsy purchase from the lovely Jenny. I admired her recent journal page and asked to buy a print or necklace made with it. Well, not only did she make one especially for me, but she sent along a bevy of beautiful things to go with it! Aren't bloggers wonderful? Thank you so much Jenny, I absolutely love my new goodies:

Gorgeous "Finding Balance" necklace

Lastly, remember this one? It's my giveaway for Amy's event:

"Dreamer of Dreams" 8 x 10 Original collage
(You can find the original post here)

And the winner is . . . .

(Tomboy hands ;)

Yay Natasha! I'm so happy it's headed your way! Please send me your address when you can and I'll pop it in the mail . . . .

Thanks to you all, it was a great event and I was thrilled to meet a few new (to me ;) bloggers along the way.

See you Friday,
Kristin xo

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ice Cream Flavorology . . .

(web source)

I know. I've never heard of it either. But according to, your favorite ice cream flavor actually says something about you! The list is limited (where's the Bubblegum? Rainbow Sherbet? And what would they do with Neapolitan's split personality?) nevertheless, I thought you'd enjoy a little laugh as we continue our countdown until The Summer of Color 2: Ice Cream Inspirations . . . .

Whatcha think: Is there any truth in this for you? How 'bout the "Romantic Compatibility"?

Butter Pecan 
If your favorite flavor is Butter Pecan, you might be characterized as the perfect worker. You are devoted, conscientious, respectful and fiscally conservative. You hold high standards for right and wrong and show integrity in all of your actions. This includes an extreme sensitivity for others’ feelings. You aren’t one to wear your heart on your sleeve; it takes a little encouragement from close friends and family to share your deepest thoughts.

{Romantic Compatibility: You are most romantically compatible with those who prefer Mint Chocolate Chip.}

Chocolate Chip 
As a chocolate chip lover, you are competitive and accomplished; no victory is sweet without a little hard work. Although you are competent and ambitious in love and work, you are generous with your time and money, never taking your blessings for granted. Your captivating personality makes you a shining star in social situations.

{Romantic Compatibility: You are most romantically compatible with those who prefer Butter Pecan or Double Chocolate Chunk}


As a coffee lover, you are lively, dramatic and flirtatious – thriving on the passion of the moment. Because you throw yourself into all that you do, you tend to be over-committed, starting new projects without finishing old ones. You tend to become bored by dull relationships and thrive on new and exciting ventures.

{Romantic Compatibility: You are most compatible with those who prefer Strawberry.}

Double Chocolate Chunk 
If you love Double Chocolate Chunk, you tend to be lively, creative and dramatic. Always the life of the party, you charm everyone you meet with your enthusiasm and sense of style. You enjoy being in the spotlight and prefer to be in the company of friends rather than left alone to reflect on life. You prefer passion and excitement in your romantic relationships, and require a lot of attention from your mate.

{Romantic Compatibility: You are most romantically compatible with those who prefer Butter Pecan or Chocolate Chip.}

Mint Chocolate Chip 
As a Mint Chocolate Chip lover, you tend to be ambitious and confident… yet a little skeptical about life. You are a realist who prepares for the future, needing a solid plan to feel secure. While your stubbornness is a business asset, it can add a challenging element to your relationships. Nonetheless, your loyalty, honesty and dependability create lasting friendships and close family ties.

{Romantic Compatibility: You are most compatible with other Mint Chocolate Chip lovers.}

Rocky Road 
If you opt for the rich, indulgent taste of Rocky Road, you tend to be a balanced mixture of charm and practicality. While you are outgoing and engaging in social situations, in the business world you tend to be more aggressive and goal-oriented. You enjoy being catered to, and appreciate the finer things in life. You are very sensitive to minor slights and respond best to encouragement rather than criticism.

{Romantic Compatibility: You are most compatible with other Rocky Road fan.}

A love for strawberry reveals a thoughtful, logical person who carefully weighs each option before making decisions. More a follower than a leader, you are content and effective working behind the scenes and out of the limelight. In relationships, you are often characterized as shy and reserved. Although you don’t fall head-over-heels in love at first sight, once you commit to a relationship, you are loyal and supportive.

{Romantic Compatibility: You are most compatible with those who prefer Strawberry, Rocky Road, Mint Chocolate Chip and Vanilla.}

There is nothing plain about Vanilla. In fact, if you love Vanilla, you are actually a colorful, dramatic risk taker who relies more on intuition than logic. Emotionally expressive and idealistic, you tend to set high goals for yourself, and push yourself to meet and exceed them. On the romantic front, you tend to rely on secure romantic relationships that fulfill your emotional needs while working toward future objectives.

{Romantic Compatibility: You are most romantically compatible with those who prefer Rocky Road.}

Hungry for more? Check out all the SOC2 links below:

What is The Summer of Color?
The Summer of Color on Facebook
The Summer of Color on Flickr

Two weeks and counting . . . 
Kristin xo

Friday, May 18, 2012

All TOgether Now!

"The Dreamers of Dreams"
Original 8 x 10 on watercolor paper

It's HeeeeeRe! 

Cool, Funny, Generous, Uber-Talented & Pretty, Pretty Amy is hosting the best-est ever Brag Party / Blog Hop this weekend, All Together Now. The crux of the event? Each participant is to offer a little giveaway and do a little bragging . . . . 

Um, K, so the whole bragging thing doesn't come naturally to me - I'm nervous just thinking about it - but I agree that it's important to celebrate ourselves once in a while, and Amy's soirée is a brilliant way to learn more about each other in the process.

So, ready or not, (deep breath Kristin) here I go. Bragging: 

* I am intensely loyal and generous. I'm the good kind of friend to have as I will always have your back, be your loudest cheerleader and never forget to tell you that I love you.

* I'm a great Wife and Mom and much more traditional than I ever expected to be. It's important to me to be there for Dave and Kendra and I know how lucky I am to be able to do so. I volunteer in the kid's class once a week and am at every school function helping out where I can. (Except for being the Otter Pop lady, a position I've successfully avoided for the last year). I also try to be the best wife to my (usually ;) sweet and incredibly handsome husband, whom I will be married to 10 years this November.

* I'm pretty stylish. I try to keep up with the latest fashion trends, eat well so I can fit into them (lotsa spinach around here), and when I leave the house, I'm always made up & put together. (Not the same story when I stay in, but since we're supposed to brag, I'll leave the description of PJ pants and old T-shirts out at this time).

* I have some decorating chops. My Mom is an interior designer / furniture restorer and as a result, I grew up with my room (and our home) being changed and "improved" every few months. Remember puffy fabric-framed mirrors? Yeah. I even had one of those at one point. As an adult, I've followed in those footsteps. I'm the girl you go to if you need any decorating advice, and I am also the one you ask to help decorate your nursery or kid's room. I've done over 13 rooms for my friends and their kids (see point one) in the last ten years.

* I know my way around some makeup. Before Mommyhood, my career was as a Beauty Director and Makeup Artist. I used to travel a lot, putting on fashion shows and speaking engagements for retail cosmetics. I would give Beauty tips and seasonal trends to audiences of hundreds of women and behind-the-counter beauty advisors. I've done makeup for the cover of an industry magazine and have even worked a couple of celebrity weddings. 

* I'm lucky to get to do what I love art wise, and am pretty proud of the way I've gotten myself "out there" in the last couple of years. I am the happy host of The Summer of Color, a Blog Hop / Giveaway event that is going on it's second year this June.

From The Summer of Color, 2011
Featuring vintage nursery-rhyme imagery, vintage text, and a lotta shimmer and shine, 
including a smattering of Swarovski crystals.
(Original post can be found here)

Speaking of which, we are meant to give something away here! I was racking my brain trying to figure out what I could offer, and thought of this original 8 x 10 on watercolor paper that I particularly love. I think it's appropriate for this event (and a group of arty souls) as it features this quote:

"We are the music-maters, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams; World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams; Yet we are the movers and shakers, Of the world forever, it seems." -- Arthur William O'Shaughnessy.

To win this original collage, all you need to do is (1) be a participant in All Together Now and (2) leave a comment saying so in this post. That's it. I'll pick a winner via the random number thingy and announce it here next Wednesday, May 23rd.

Why don't you join us? After all, every girl needs a chance to brag (and win stuff!) now and then . . . .

May 18 - 20

Kristin xo!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Countdown Begins . . .

Only three weeks to go before the deliriously sweet ice cream social . . . Join us for The Summer of Color 2: Ice Cream Inspirations, a fabulous FREE event celebrating art in all of it's hues.

Speaking of sweet, remember this one?

Eighteen Flavors

Eighteen luscious, scrumptious flavors
Chocolate, lime and cherry,
Coffee, pumpkin, fudge banana
Caramel cream and boysenberry.
Rocky road and toasted almond,
Butterscotch, vanilla dip,
Butter brickle, apple ripple,
Coconut and espresso chip,
Brandy peach and lemon custard,
Each scoop lovely, smooth and round,
Tallest ice-cream cone in town,
Lying there (sniff) on the ground.

-- Shel Silverstein

Hungry for more? Read all the details here, check out all of last year's Summer of Color artwork here and get the party started by joining the Facebook group here.

Kristin xo

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Kendra Ann, 6 

I got my Dolly when the leaves were falling
It was the end of September, you know
When this tiny gift was presented to me
To teach my heart to grow.

She was small and bright
And as I held her tight, 
I whispered into her ear:

"Don't worry, baby, I'll be your Mommy
I will love and protect you here
I will dress you and feed you and kiss you and need you
And in my heart, you will always be near."

The seasons changed
But my vow was the same
And as we grew together fast,
I remembered the day when she came to me
And I was a Mommy at last:

"Don't worry, baby, I am your Mommy
I will love and protect you here
I will dress you and feed you and kiss you and need you
And in my heart, you will always be near."

And now, look at her!
My darling little girl,
Tiny fingers holding on tight
A baby for Dolly, just presented to her
On her fifth birthday, tonight.

I watch them together and lean in close
As she rocks her baby with care
A small, sweet voice repeating with pride
The words I had hoped to hear:

"Don't worry, baby, I'll be your Mommy
I will love and protect you here
I will dress you and feed you and kiss you and need you
And in my heart, you will always be near."

-Kristin Van Valkenburgh 
(You can find the original post from August of 2010 here)

Wishing you and yours the happiest-ever Mother's Day,
Kristin xo 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lost in Transition

"Lost in Transition"
5 x 8 Strathmore Visual Journal

It's that time of week again! And I'm eager to show you the final results of my (journaling) labour over the last couple of months. I also promised to tell you the story behind this journal, a story which is literally ten years in the making . . . .

{I must warn you that this was hard to write, pretty personal - and perhaps a bit too long - but I've decided to share my entire journey anyway. So, yeah, here goes:}

This book, this journal which I am titling, “Lost in Transition,” is very special to me. I didn’t know when I started it that it would become such an important tool in helping me get over a hard time - or transition - in my life, but as it progressed, it seemed to take on a life of it’s own, whispering words of encouragement that I desperately needed to hear. 
Please allow me to explain. Most of you know by now that I’m an adoptive Mother. Because of this, my art tends to focus on the world of mothering and adoption. I collect everything babies: from vintage cabinet cards to tattered and torn report cards and all the good stuff in between. It’s fair to say that I’m a tiny bit obsessed with babies, children and the desire to have more of my own. In my personal life, I’m the girl that throws every baby shower and helps to design and decorate every new baby’s nursery that comes along. 
And yet, I struggle to build a family of my own. I long for children to “complete” our family and to provide a sibling for our daughter, who is now six. It’s been ten years from infertility to now - with one successful (dreamy, perfect ;) adoption - and several disappointments since. And this to be honest, has been my greatest life struggle. To be a woman who can not give birth, and yet want children so badly. So, being a person who believes that I can have everything I want as long as I work hard enough, I have dedicated my adult life to getting that family. It’s the reason I started my blog, to get the word out about our hope to adopt again. It’s the reason I create the art that I do, to get the word out about our hope to adopt again. And it’s the reason I have not really “moved on” in my life, because I felt that my work - completing my family - was not finished.
But the thing is, I have been drowning in my determination. And it’s getting old. It is so hard to be in a position of having no control over something that you want so desperately while at the same time, trying to live a life content with what you do have. In other words, at some point I began to realize that I was spending my time, energy and focus trying to get a new baby, when my baby was already sitting beside me. And I was missing out. Missing out on every part of her, missing out on celebrating the family of three that we are, and missing out on being happy in the moment. So, after many years, we have decided to stop pursuing a goal that has eluded us and start living the life that is before us. 

And that is where this journal comes in. When I cracked open this new book, it was to participate in an e-course that my friend Leslie was hosting, Mind. Body. Soul. An e-course of art and life. The crux of the event was to create journal pages based upon six separate and motivational words or phrases. 
I began the first pages just as I would any other, longing for a baby. By the time I got onto page two, my husband and I were questioning wether or not we should stop trying, hence the second entry which suggests that I “just sit with it for a while.” By page four, I was feeling desperate and therefore, “But I feel like giving up” came out. The middle of the book (“O.ver.come”) is just black and depressing, but a couple of pages later, a conversation that I had with my Mother-in-law started to change my perspective. The quote from her is highlighted in my purple spread, “who among you are willing to be dark so that the others can shine?” Symbolically, this page also includes a vintage crystal hanging from it, which I used to represent my art and blog. It's the page that changes the feel and mode of the book. “Renew” comes immediately thereafter - the only page I actually drew in - which also seemed symbolic to me at the time. The rest of the book, from a page in which I use pieces of Kendra’s baby clothes (immediately after I gave most of them away) as my collage materials, to a page in which I celebrate life as it is with a beautiful Rumi quote, all just seemed to come together. 
And as I finished the journal, I noticed that there may have been some hidden secrets along the way. Perhaps, the first page in which I question, “you ARE enough,” was really telling the story in a different way. Maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t about wether or not I could handle another child as I originally thought, but rather, it was about being enough as we are. “YOU are enough.” And although this decision is new and it still hurts, I am now in a place where I can actually believe that. 

Kristin xo

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mind. Body. Soul. (Art Journaling)

Believe it or not, I am almost done with the journal started for sweet Leslie's online course, Mind. Body. Soul. Good thing too, as the prompts ended about two weeks ago. (sigh). . . .

Below are shots of the last journal spread for Anxiously Engaged, followed by the first and last pages of the book:

"Oh the places we will go"
(Vertical spread)

Vintage music, vintage stamps, Stampington art papers (bike) and personal photo

Opening page /  Table of contents:


Featuring all of Leslie's prompts

Carefully selected papers hint at what's to come

Back / final page:

"Put on a happy smile"

Swarovski crystals, rub-ons and paint chip

There you have it. Only one thing left to complete: the cover! Oh, and the story behind the book as a whole. On a personal note, when I started the course, I had no idea what or where I would be when I ended it. I don't mean to sound cryptic, I will finish the cover, put it all back together, and share the story in it's entirety in my next post for Paint Party Friday

See you then,
Kristin xo

{Looking for The Summer of Color? Get the whole scoop here.}

Monday, May 7, 2012

I Scream, You Scream . . .

We all scream for Ice Cream . . . 

It's that time of year again! The highly anticipated (and ever so fun ;) blog hop is back: join us for The Summer of Color 2, a fabulous FREE event celebrating art in all of it's hues.

(web source)

Beginning Monday, June 4th, pop over here for six (6) weeks of creative prompts inspired by the colors and textures of our favorite ice cream flavors. All mediums are welcome - from inchies, to moo cards, to ATC's, postcards, jewelry, greeting cards, scrapbook layouts, canvas work, altered books, journal pages, assemblage art, digital art and even poetry and photography - as long as it features the "Flavor" of the week. It's all about color, connection and fun during the lazy days of Summer.

As with last year, there will be weekly color prompts, weekly linking opportunities and weekly giveaways open to all who take the plunge . . . 

Hungry for more? Read all the details here, check out the (over 400!) pictures from last year's event here and get started on the conversation by joining The Summer of Color Facebook group here.

It's gonna be a Summer full of bold colors, beautiful textures and sticky fingers. After all, what could be better than art & ice cream . . .

See you soon,
Kristin xo

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Paint Party Friday (Week 8)

"The World Grows Green Again"

It's PPF!

And I thought I'd bring a journal page I've been working on for Mind. Body. Soul. to the party. The last prompt in Leslie's e-course is based upon the words Anxiously Engaged, and after much consideration, a quote I read by Rumi finally determined what I would do with it. . . .

"The world grows green again and runs with gardens. Jewels from the mines glitter in each tree. 
Souls open like suns and link with one another."
-- Rumi

Acrylics, watercolor crayons, decorative papers, stamps and Swarovski crystals.

Elements from the previous pages peeking through

Only one more spread (and okay a front page, back page and cover ;) and I'm done with another journal. Oh happy days . . . 

And speaking of happy days, the next Summer of Color is just around the corner! Only one month to go until SOC 2: Ice Cream Inspirations . . . . Pop over here to read all about it . . . .

Kristin xo

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mind. Body. Soul. (Art Journaling)

Okay, so I guess I lied. I thought I was onto the next word in the series of journal prompts from sweet Leslie's Mind. Body. Soul. e-course, but for some reason, it seems that Renew was not done with me. . . 

Here are two more pages in the almost-complete journal:


Scrapbook materials enhanced with glitter gel pen and ink

Martha Stewart Glue pen and glitter on neck and lips

"Gave 'em all away"

Background of decorative paper, stamps and acrylic

Collage using pieces of Kendra's baby clothes

Page tab created with a baby label and accessory

That's it! Now I'm off to create the final pages for Anxiously Engaged . . . whew . . .

Kristin xo