Monday, June 20, 2022

Black Makes Colors Pop and a Mental Health Update

Stampy Stuff

Today's card began life as a white-on-white card, but the great colors of the butterflies looked anemic on all that white. I switched to a black mat, and the colors now pop!


The squares were cut with the Hero Arts Infinity Squares die set, stamped with Memento tuxedo black and butterflies from Hero Arts Antique Engravings clear set, and colored with Copics. The squares are 1.5", the mat is 5.5" x 2" (for 1/4" matting), and the card is 7.25" x 3.75". The squares are popped up, and though it's hard to tell in the photos, it looks great in real life. 


The speckling comes from watercolor crayons, which I scribbled on a scrap piece of acetate, dissolved in water with a small round brush, and tapped gently over the squares. The speckles add just a little bit of interest and softness to an otherwise rather bold and high-contrast design. 

Now that my stamping mojo is back, I'm trying to use some long-neglected supplies...like the watercolor crayons I've had for years. 

Neocolor II are water-soluble. Neocolor I crayons are not.

My artistic talent with watercolors may best be described as "minimal," and it's not a skill I feel motivated to improve. So I like easy, straightforward techniques like speckling (or splattering, if you prefer a more vulgar term) for watercolor media. 

Now let's shift to an unrelated stampy topic. I have a question involving clear stamps that have lost their stick. I have a number of older photopolymer stamps that have lost their stick. Most are sentiments. I've washed them with Dawn dish detergent and let them air dry, but they still don't stick well. Suggestions?

Personal Stuff

I mentioned a few posts ago that I'd update you on my mental health. The medication is working! It took a while, but my mood is much improved. I'm less anxious and more relaxed, and getting better sleep. The hormone replacement therapy is keeping the hot flashes to 2-4 a day. 

The doctor figured out the nightmares were caused by melatonin, which ordinarily gives me vivid and weird dreams, but given the heightened anxiety, the dreams went from merely weird to anxiety-provoking. No more melatonin, no more nightmares. 

My therapist and I are spacing appointments out a bit more. We are working mainly on building resilience to anxiety (stamping regularly is a part of that!) and on helping me strategize ways to manage boundaries better when I return to teaching in January. I should NEVER care more than college students about their success. Students and professors need to be partners with very clear responsibilities, or learning doesn't happen. My taking on more emotional commitment than I should doesn't help anyone. 

On a very happy note, one of the students who received an incomplete in May turned in the missing work, so I submitted a grade change to a B. He had a rough semester but got the work done! So yay! 

The other student who was going to turn in missing work has gone dark. I'm not at all surprised. 

The bottom line of my sharing this mental health journey is to help others who might be hesitant to ask for help. The help HELPS! Truly. Talk to your doctor if you're low. Many doctors get that medication can take the edge off, and the good ones insist that medication be accompanied by therapy at the same time. Many health insurance plans pay for psychological counseling, and telecare often carries no copay. I'm doing cognitive behavioral therapy, but other therapies can also be effective with treating anxiety. Your doctor should know where to point you.

If you're just feeling a little blue or off-kilter, consider a Stephen Minister. Stephen Ministers (SMs) are laypersons who are trained to provide one-on-one care for people going through a crisis or a chronic situation. SMs meet once a week for about an hour with their care receivers to listen, encourage, and help them process what they are going through. Most SMs bring only as much religion into the relationship as the care receiver is comfortable with...although that does vary from SM to SM. 

We provide care for grief, divorce, new moms or crisis pregnancies, the unemployed, the aging, the mildly or moderately depressed, and people who provide care to ill or disabled loved ones. We also care for loved ones of people struggling with serious mental health issues, drug use, or alcoholism. 

People with addiction or other serious mental health conditions (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, anger control issues) are not eligible for Stephen Ministry care as they require professional help. SMs are not professionals...we are volunteers with excellent training for what we do and a clear understanding of what we don't do. 

If you need a referral, I can find out what churches in your area offer Stephen Ministry. It just takes a quick phone call to Stephen Ministries headquarters, and I can point you in the right direction.  

In other words, if you're struggling, ask for help. And keep asking until you get it. I practice what I preach, and may my sharing help others to reach out!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Susan

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Black and White Bubbles

First of all, many thanks to those who answered the question on the last post about what you want to see on Simplicity. Today's post has design explanation, personal stuff, and a dog picture...the big triad of your requests! Read only what interests you.

The Card

Today's card was inspired by the coasters in THIS PIN. The simplicity of the white circles with black outline images captured my attention, and the card rose out of that. 

I experimented with different size circles and different proportions of cards. The background rectangle was sitting on my desk, and it's embossed with a woodgrain plate from Hero Arts. It's subtle (I couldn't quite capture it in the photos) but adds a bit of interest. The long rectangle base and woodgrain strip ground the bubbles and follow the "angles love curves" rule. Whenever your card has too many curves, add some angles; too many angles, add some curves. 

After dorking around with placement for a bit, I settled on this arrangement. The three stamped circles form an irregular triangle, with the sentiment toward the bottom to add some weight to the bottom and let it feel as if the other circles are rising up.  

Note too that the bottom leaf is pointing toward the sentiment, which is overlapped by the middle leaf, which is pointing up to the top leaf, which is pointing to the edge of the card. "Open the card," it's saying! Inside, I stamped a happy birthday sentiment. 


This feels like an excellent card for a man. It's high contrast, bold, and not flowery! The leaves are from Stampa Rosa, very old and precious! Sentiment is from Papertrey.


The Personal Stuff

Today is Father's Day, and that's always a weird day for me. My earthly father and I haven't spoken in over 36 years (and that's a blessing), but on the other hand, I had a grandfather and uncle who stepped up and served as amazing father figures during my formative years. 

So a really cool coincidence happened. Yesterday morning, I was out walking, heard an old airplane flying over, looked up, and a B-29 (WWII-era bomber) was overhead flying low over the neighborhood. Cool! Later that day, George told me that a B-24 was also in the area. They were open for tours on Father's Day at the Springfield, OH, airport. 

So what was the coincidence? Well, my wonderful grandfather, David Lee Willis, was a pilot during WWII and during the Berlin Airlift. He flew both of these types of bombers...among other planes. The B-24, he flew in combat in the China-Burma-India theater...over the Hump of the Himalayas. 

My handsome Papa

One of his planes was called the Dippy Dave and His 8 Dippy Diddlers. The Dippy Dave was shot up pretty bad and leaking fuel as it returned from a bombing mission. The crew had to bail out over China. Dippy Dave was the last man out...as was appropriate since he was the pilot. All the crew got back to base safely. 

The Dippy Dave is commemorated in a book on Vintage WWII Nose Art


So today, I stood in the cockpit of a B-24, behind the pilot's seat. 

Sadly, they wouldn't let me sit in the seat, but it's a good thing Papa wasn't a big man because there wasn't much room there. 

What a treat to have that connection. There's a B-24 called The Strawberry B*tch at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB here in Dayton, but it's a static display with no option to get inside. Only two B-24s are still airworthy, and now I can say I've been in one. 

Like I said, cool!

Dog Picture

And now, a gratuitous dog picture. 

Cooper...the Good Boy

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Susan

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Weird Email Update and a Card

Okay, so I happened to check my junk email when I noticed there were 25 emails in it, and I found a bunch of emails from people regarding the blog. This makes no sense to me as I did receive some emails in my inbox with no problem. Why some went to spam and other to the inbox is a mystery!

My apologies for not replying in a timely fashion, and I will reply today. Thanks so much for all the support and love you've shown since I returned to blogging. Y'all are the best!

Several of you have asked about donations to Karen's Card Shop. We could use more cards, especially Hello, Friendship/Love, Sympathy, Get Well, Thinking of you, and Faith. We already have a lot of birthday and thank you cards, but of course we will take whatever you can send. Remember that I supply white A2 envelopes and package the cards in cello bags. 

Please email me with questions or for my address. I promise to check my spam folder regularly!

I need to take a new picture of the card shop display. The church redecorated a few years back and painted the display black. It looks great. We also added a payment lock box when money began disappearing from the honor-system envelope we were using. How sad is it that people were stealing inside a church? Anyway, the lock box works great and was only about $35 from Amazon, for those of you who are running your own version of our ministry in your church.

And now for today's card, which was inspired by a bath collection from Macy's. The pin keeps defaulting to a picture of the toothbrush holder, but it shows the high-contrast blue-and-white color scheme I used with this oh-so-fun octopus stamp from Hero Arts, along with some Hero sequins. I just love that the octopus is waving hello!


The seaweed die was run through a texture plate from StampinUp, and the sentiment is from Papertrey's Peaceful Garden set. The dotty background is from the ancient StampinUp set Itty Bitty Backgrounds. 


Tomorrow, I will post an update on my journey through anxiety. Things are definitely looking up! But I'm curious to know what you would like to see on the blog. What sort of questions do you have, or what would you like to see in posts? Do you like series (how to use supplies, one set three ways, color variation, design lessons)? Dog pictures? Personal stuff? What would you like to read?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Susan

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Cancer Sucks

For a friend who's dealing with a recurrence of stage 4 colon cancer. 



Cancer sucks. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Susan

Sunday, June 12, 2022

CASE-ing Myself

After making a bunch of pretty trash searching for inspiration from other stampers, I decided to recreate a card I liked from my own Pinterest Board. I stuck with the same basic design and just changed the theme and colors.



I thought this would make an excellent guy birthday card...and those are always a challenge to me. So yay!

Best of all, this jump-started my stamping mojo, and I've since made quite a few cards! That has felt good. 

Also good is the fact that we've hit upon a good dose for the Zoloft. I'm feeling more like myself now, and definitely less anxious and panicky. My sleep has improved, too. So more yays all the way around!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Susan

Friday, June 10, 2022

Organizing Embellishments

Today's brilliant idea originally came from the brilliant Stacy Julian, the editor of Simple Scrapbooks magazine and author of The Big Picture:


In The Big Picture, Stacy recommends organizing embellishments by COLOR, not by type. When I read this bit of genius, it changed my life. I'd been forgetting what embellishments I had, finding bins of, say, embroidery floss or buttons only after finishing a card. It was frustrating. But as she points out, we actually USE embellishments based on the color, and so organizing them by color makes perfect sense.

Now, there's no such frustration. All my embellishments are in 12 x 12 drawers right beside my craft chair. Easy peasy. 

The drawers make it easy to purge unused supplies, and I go through them at least once a year for that purpose. I realized while taking these pictures that I recently combined the yellow/orange and green drawers into one but haven't changed the labels. Must take care of that little OCD detail. 


You'll note the trays that keep items organized. Those are lids and bottoms to Christmas card boxes. Since I mail out so many Christmas cards and can't make them all, I buy cards at Barnes and Noble every year. The boxes make excellent (and cost-effective) trays for keeping embellishments organized.


These drawers used to be packed full of stuff, but over the years, trends and my taste have changed, so things like eyelets, buttons, ribbon, and brads have mostly been culled as a result of disuse. 


That funky stick on the left of the metallics drawer is a stone burnishing tool for gold leaf. Just in case you were wondering. And you'll notice I do still have a few brads and eyelets and paperclips. Those occasionally get used on non-card crafts, like Christmas ornaments or bookmarks. I used to have those locking "pill-case" containers for every color. They contained buttons and other small but bulky embellishments. After not using them for years, I moved them out of the drawers and into storage. I recently gave them all to a friend who collects craft supplies. She appreciated them!

I recently pulled out my seals and sealing wax to play with. Those are extremely cool, but the wax can be oily and of course rather bulky for cards. Still, it's beautiful and has its uses.



I'm trying to use up all my colored gemstones. They are often not the exact color I want, and it's easy enough to use Sharpies to color clear gemstones. You can even blend Sharpies on gemstones to create just the right shade for a project. 

So if you're feeling frustrated, give Stacy Julian's idea a try. It's truly genius!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Susan

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Is That Leather?

Every now and then, something turns out quite unexpectedly. Such was the case with today's card. I made this months ago and can't remember if there was a specific inspiration for it (likely there was!), but I adore how the colored cardstock resembles leather. 



The stitched rectangle dies were a gift from my local stampy friend Eva, who gave me her unused Cuttlebug and a bunch of dies a few years ago. Layering them this way, with the three different shades of cardstock, really made for an interesting, yet still clean-and-simple design.

I need to play around with different colors of cardstock and different textures as well. This design could be quite versatile, especially given how many Tim Holtz stem dies I have amassed! It also gave me a chance to use some of my larger rhinestones, which tend to pile up as I mostly require the smaller ones. 

In tomorrow's post, I will address storage for embellishments. Someone sent me an email--which has since disappeared!--mentioning trying to find the right embellishments in all her stuff. I have a trick for that and will share tomorrow, with photos.

Today, however, I will leave you with this picture. You're welcome.


Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Susan