Saturday, November 30, 2013

OLW168...A Card with Bling

Karen's fabulously timely One-Layer Wednesday Challenge this week is to use sparkle or bling on your card. I made a Christmas card with non-traditional colors and some very fun bling!

This card combines Signature Christmas and Faux Ribbon--both from Papertrey--for a graphic, modern pink-and-green Christmas card. Woo-hoo!

Memento's pear tart on a Christmas card...seems wrong somehow, but oh how I love that shade of green!

Great challenge, Karen!

stamps: Papertrey Signature Christmas, Faux Ribbon
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones, gridded acrylic block for lining everything up so gosh darn perfectly!

Thursday, November 28, 2013


This is my second post for the day. Please scroll down to see the first!

Just a reminder for those who are NOT going out on Black Friday...the One-Layer Wednesday Challenge is on Karen's blog this week, and it's perfect for this time of year: Sparkle and Shine! I hope you'll play along!

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah!

I am so grateful for all of you who read this blog. I hope your holiday season is filled with love and gratitude and light and all good things.

I am especially grateful to the many who have committed to sending Jonah and his family cards. (If you've missed their story, you can read it HERE.)

The cards (and packages!) for Jonah are starting to come in. Taking a hint from Operation Write Home, I'm going to list the names (first name, last initial) and town of all the senders on a tabbed page on this blog. That way, you can check to see if I've received your mail for Jonah, and Jonah's family need not feel obligated to acknowledge everything themselves. I'll give them an opportunity later to post a general thank you to everyone on this blog, too, rather than be burdened by sending individual thanks to such a generous group of people!

There are not enough thankful words in English to express how I feel about your compassion and kindness for Jonah and his family. So two will have to do: thank you.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Kaleidacolor
paper: Papertrey
accessories: metal ruler, copper metallic pen

Monday, November 25, 2013

Another Missing You Card for OWH

I have family visiting from out of town and haven't had time to do the One-Layer Wednesday challenge on Heather's blog, but I encourage you to click over and participate if you haven't already!

Today's card is another of the Miss You cards I made for Operation Write Home. The tiny stamped heart is SU cherry cobbler, but it's showing pretty dark here. Really, it's red!

To make this card, I punched a heart from a post-it note and attached it to a scrap of card stock, which I then stamped with a Hero Arts shadow stamp inked with SU's marina mist. The sentiment is from Papertrey's first set ever, called Paper Tray. It looked a bit plain, so I added a tiny dark red heart (from Papertrey's Heart Prints), trimmed the image, and popped it on a card.

The requests are still pouring in for Jonah's address! I'm just so touched by all the enthusiasm and willingness of strangers to offer up some love for this little boy and his family.

What a week to be grateful!

stamps: Hero Arts, Papertrey
ink: SU marina mist, cherry cobbler; Memento black
paper: Papertrey
accessories: heart punch, post-it note, dimensionals

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blown Away and a Noel

I have the best readers in the world.


I've already received over 50 requests for the address to send cards to Jonah. Some of those requests also included requests to share the story with stamping groups and even a RAK thread on Splitcoast Stampers.

Share away. Please!

If you missed the post about Jonah, who is four years old and currently receiving chemo and radiation for cancer, please go HERE.

Here's what Molly, Jonah's mom, has to say about his favorite colors and themes:

"Jonah loves COLOR and lots of it. His favorite colors have always been pink, orange and blue. His bedroom is blue and orange stripes. So, vibrant colors will be what catch his eye. If given a choice in a toy bin - orange wins out every time.
"As far as themes and interests, he's all boy. He likes robots, dogs, fire trucks, trains, dinosaurs, construction vehicles (dump trucks, cranes, diggers, etc), snowmen, penguins and dragons. He's into Veggie Tales, Super Heroes, the original Pink Panther, Mike & Sully (Monster's Inc), Lightning McQueen & Mater, the Incredibles, Wall-E and Scooby-Doo."

Hopefully that will help those of you stumped for colors and themes!

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I'd hoped for a few dozen cards. We're going to do better than that.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

And now for a card. A bit anti-climactic, I think. Anyway, I am trying to do some of the challenges in Paper Crafts Stamp It Card Challenges magazine. This one was to replace a letter with an image.

Fun, eh? I like how the silver border and clear bling add a bit more festivity to the shimmery Brilliance inks (poppy and thyme). My obsessive-compulsive self wanted to make the ornament perfectly upright, but the font of the letters is whimsical and loose, and tilting the ornament made more sense. I like it!

I'm not going to come close to making enough Christmas cards for my personal use this year, and will be purchasing a bunch of ready-made ones to supplement my stash. That feels sad to me but also realistic. And certainly takes the pressure off.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Brilliance poppy and thyme
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: silver metallic marker, dimensionals, rhinestones--yay!

Friday, November 22, 2013

When God Drops Something in Your Lap

This post appears on my other blog, Questioning my Intelligence, today, too. I hope you'll think about helping.

A few weeks ago, I posted on my stamping blog about keeping Christmas simple and asked readers to comment about their own plans for simplifying Christmas. One of the more than 50 comments stood out. Here's what a reader named Jane wrote:

Well -- on Sept. 28th my husband fell out of a tree while trying to help his 98 year old mother by trimming her trees. He broke 7 ribs in multiple places and his wrist. A week later we found out that our 4 year old grandson had a cancerous tumor on his kidney and within four days they removed his kidney and adrenal gland. After a second surgery for a bowel obstruction he is now starting chemo and radiation for his stage 3 cancer. So Christmas by necessity will be simple. The first thing I did was to give myself permission to not make my Christmas cards this year. So I have a good start on next year's cards! The other thing is to ask for help. So my son and his wife are coming tomorrow to help us decorate our Christmas trees. I think our simplest Christmas was the two years when we were missionaries in Africa.... we could not give or send cards or gifts... so it was very freeing. Yes we missed family terribly but the tension of the holidays was gone and the focus was where it should always be!

I asked Jane to send me her grandson's address so I could send him a Christmas card, and she did. I stared at that address for at least a minute without blinking. Then I prayed.

Seriously, God? What do You want me to do with this?

Because Jane's grandson, whose name is Jonah, lives ten minutes from me. Could this be a coincidence in the big, big world of the World Wide Web? Perhaps.

But probably not.

I believe God dropped information on my hurting neighbor in my lap, and as I prayed about what to do that might be useful, I realized Jane was my best guide.

Fortunately, Jane shared that Jonah's family is surrounded by the love and support of family, friends, and church. His mom, Molly, started a Facebook group for Jonah. You can read it HERE. Molly combines their daily experience with Jonah's cancer and an amazing witness for faith and leaning on God. Jonah and his parents are facing an unimaginably challenging situation with grace, courage, and generosity.

Most efforts I could make to help are unnecessary and would probably would feel intrusive. But card making brought me and Jane together, and card making feels like the best way to respond.

Because who doesn't love getting happy mail?

I'm asking my readers to shower Jonah and his family with cards for Christmas. Store-bought, hand-made...doesn't matter. If you have children, perhaps you could ask them to draw pictures or make cards for Jonah.

Let's shower Jonah in love and support as he fights this thing.

Email me at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com for my mailing address, or you can click here for an email link. I will collect all the cards and drop them on Jonah's doorstep periodically. If you choose to continue sending cards after the holidays, I'll keep delivering.

Sending cards is one small thing we can do to lift this family up. Another is to pray for them. If you pray, please add Jonah to your prayer list and to your church's prayer list.

God's grace, peace, love, and healing mercy are descending on this family in their time of trial. I'm so happy to be a small part of that. Will you join me? 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lucky Number Seven

You had to know this was coming.

After my mathematical miscalculation on yesterday's card, I absolutely had to pull off that challenge from Paper Crafts Stamp It magazine to use one stamp seven times.

Stamping seven of something in a row is pretty easy with a gridded acrylic block. Stamp the middle one first, then work outward on each side until you have seven.

It was dumb luck that the sentiment fit perfectly under the row of flowers. As my husband said during his Air Force flying years, "I'd rather be lucky than good."

(That's not true, though. I'd much rather be good than lucky. But I'll take luck when it comes my way. It would be silly not to do so.)

And while we're talking about challenges, click on over to Heather's blog to see OLW167: Just Add Water. Oh. My. Gosh. I love this challenge and Heather's sample card, too! Spritzing an inked stamp is one of my FAVORITE techniques.

stamps: Hero Arts (flower), Papertrey (sentiment)
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Girl Can't Count...

Okay. I swear I was on the math team in junior high and high school, back in the day when we weren't allowed to use calculators. I even took calculus during my senior year in high school. Calculus, people!

But when I read a challenge in Paper Crafts' Stamp It Card Challenge magazine to stamp one image seven times, this was the first card I made:

It wasn't until I stamped the last fish that it dawned on me that 4+3+1=8, not 7.

And I felt stupid.

Of course, when I was in high school and suffering a serious case of obsessive-compulsive perfectionism, I would NEVER have shared such a bone-headed mistake with ANYONE. I took stuff like this far too seriously back then.

Now, two days before I turn 47, it seems perfectly entertaining to share it with the entire interwebs.

Because if there's one thing that I've learned in just-shy-of-47 years, it's that we ALL make mistakes, and it's far better to laugh about them than to be embarrassed or ashamed. Besides, it's a fun card and whoever gets it will have no idea that it has the "wrong" number of fish on it.

And by the way, all that calculus leaked out of my head while I was in graduate school reading Ulysses and Beowulf and everything Chaucer ever wrote. These days, I wouldn't know a differential equation if it bit me on the tushy. But ask me about stream of consciousness, the importance of litotes in Anglo-Saxon verse, and how we know Chaucer wasn't anti-Semitic sometime.

That stuff's never going to go away.

Which goes to show absolutely nothing of value except we can remember the most useless information if we find it fascinating enough.

Can you tell it's been a weird day?

Early birthday fishes to me!

stamps: Papertrey Pond Life
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey Ink
accessories: gridded acrylic block because those fish don't line themselves up, you know! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

OWH Calls out for Miss You Cards

Operation Write Home needs Miss You least that's what I read on their Facebook feed. So I made some. With Miss You cards, I like to emphasize the emptiness and/or loneliness of the sentiment in whatever graphic element I use.

Nailed it!

Just think...from a design standpoint, here's an instance where trapped white space is a good thing!

(Psst: If you've forgotten or don't know what trapped white space is, read about it here.)

Take a peek through your stash and look for items that have holes in them. If you find a few, whip up some Miss You cards for OWH. That's one sentiment the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines feel the whole time they are deployed.

stamps: Papertrey Square Prints, Sign Language
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey Ink
accessories: none!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Simplicity Christmas Priority

This is my third year making Christmas ornaments for our Stephen Ministry at church. For those who don't know, Stephen Ministry is an international, non-denominational, caring ministry started over 30 years ago here in the States by a minister who realized that lots of people were suffering very real pain without the support they needed.

Stephen Ministers today are trained to provide one-on-one care for people who are in pain. The pain can come from almost anything...from the loss of a loved one to coping with a loved one's addiction to dealing with major life changes like empty nest or retirement or divorce. The support Stephen Ministers provide is primarily through listening, encouragement, and prayer.

It is a wonderful ministry, and I'm so privileged to have become a part of it three years ago.

During Advent, our Stephen Ministry group reminds our congregation that not everyone is happy this time of year. For some, the joy of the season feels completely out of tune with their sadness, grief, or fear. We encourage others to pay attention to the needs of those who might be silently suffering, and we hand out ornaments during Advent to promote awareness.

These ornaments include a verse or saying to encourage those who are suffering. Every year, we get requests for additional ornaments for friends or extended family. It's truly a wonderful gift.

This year's ornament is below. We will add a Bible verse on the back later (still deciding that part), but here's the design.

2 1/8" x 5 1/2"

Our group will make about 250 of these this year. The logistics for this year's ornaments are pretty simple. A single sheet of card stock cut into half and then quarters yields 8 ornaments, which are flat enough and big enough to also serve as bookmarks. A corner rounder and small circle punch are the only two tools needed. We'll print the verse on avery labels and stick them on the back.

I like the way these ornaments hang, with the peace flowing down to the bottom of the ornament just as peace flows down from heaven in the form of Jesus Christ.

As you begin your preparations for the holidays, I ask you to take a few minutes to think of friends or family who may need a little extra care this season. A number of you have shared with me your losses and grief from this year, the fears you face right now, and challenges that are weighing you down. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to pray for you. But please don't deny that privilege to those closest to you, those who can hug you in real life. Reach out and get help when you need it.

And if you want a Stephen Minister, call your church and ask for a referral. Not all churches have active programs, but most know how to get in touch with one.

Peace to you all this holiday season.

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Snowflakes, Wreath for all Seasons
ink: Kaleidacolor
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: corner rounder, circle punch, craft floss, avery labels, printer

Saturday, November 16, 2013

OLW166--Christmas Gift Tags

I had so much fun making these two tags for OLW166 on Cheryl's Blog!

The red tag uses A Muse's Nordic Noel set...and a spot of bling. The baker's twine is from Papertrey, as is the card stock, and the ink is SU's real red.

This tree tag uses an old, old stamp from Northwoods (tree) and a sentiment from Papertrey's Sign Language. The ink is Brilliance thyme and poppy, the thread is DMC embroidery floss, and the paper is Papertrey' white. The Doodlebug white glitter was applied with a Quickie Glue Pen.

The corner punch for both tags comes from StampinUp.

I've got some small rolls of nice, heavy, white wrapping paper and red ribbon to use these with. So exciting!

Almost makes me want to start Christmas shopping.


Thanks, Cheryl, for such a great challenge!

OLW This Week!

This week's One-Layer Wednesday is on Cheryl's blog, and it's a timely one! If your Simplicity Christmas includes making simple gift tags, this is the challenge for you.

OLW166 Christmas/Holiday Tags

Happy Stamping!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


A number of you asked questions about Smooch. It's an iridescent, opaque ink/paint that you can use like watercolor paint. It comes in a bottle with an applicator that (for me, at least) works primarily for making dots.

To make my wreath cards on yesterday's post, I simply stamped ALL the berries in a light color of Memento Ink, which is waterproof. Then, I used the Smooch applicator to add one color randomly onto roughly a third of the berries. Then, I used a different color of Smooch on another third of the berries. So on each card, there are plain ink berries and two shades of iridescent berries. But there are no more berries than were on the stamp, which never had Smooch on it at all.

I hope that makes sense.

Tips for using Smooch

1. Always use waterproof ink with it. If you add it over, say, StampinUp's classic ink, the ink will run unattractively. Ask me how I know....

2. You can use the applicator in a variety of ways, but I find I don't have enough artistic talent to do anything other than add dots with it. Just be careful with the applicator. Press too hard and you might damage the tip.

3. It makes a GREAT watercolor wash for sparkly and pretty! Just squeeze a bit onto a palette, use water and a brush to thin it, and apply to paper with the brush.

4. It can be used directly on stamps. I found the easiest way to apply it to the stamp is with a make-up sponge, but if you have ink pad blanks, you could use those for more even coverage. If you lightly spritz the wet stamp with water, you'll get an awesome watercolor effect.

If you've never played with Smooch, get yourself a few bottles and mess around. It really is quite fun!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I'm Back

Whew. What a busy visit from my in-laws...and so much fun!

And now for some more Simplicity Christmas. First, we varied red berry embellishments, and now we're varying color. Today's post is further evidence that having lots of supplies can be a very good thing.

A VERY good thing.

Blue Christmas
Red and Pink Christmas
Red and Green Christmas
Green Christmas
Here, we've covered all the main colors of the season, with a little pink thrown in because I could and it was cool.

To make these, I first stamped the wreath in gray, and then the berries in a light color to compliment the Smooch. The Smooch is opaque, so it completely covers the color you stamp and allowed the red and green card easily. It was so much fun to vary the colors this way, and it allowed me to use a whole bunch of my Smooch colors in one go.

Fun, eh? Which is your favorite?

stamps: Papertrey Wreath for All Seasons
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Smooch, corner rounder

Monday, November 11, 2013

Quick Post

My in-laws are visiting, and I don't have much computer time right now (we're having way too much fun!). But here's a quick card for you...a two-layer, white-on-white that I just love!

This card uses the set A Wreath for All Seasons as a garland on a narrow white panel and a sentiment from Happiest of Holidays...both sets from Papertrey Ink. It's a great--and easy--way to use the wreath a little differently!

And bling. Because everything's better with bling.

Back when I can!

stamps: Papertrey Happiest of Holidays, Wreath for All Seasons
ink: Memento cottage green, SU real red
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones, dimensionals

Friday, November 8, 2013

Inspired by Courtney Kelley

Courtney Kelly had a fabulous "Ka-Pow!" card published on page 41 of Paper Crafts Handmade Cards. It's made to showcase using ready-made embellishments, and Courtney came up with such a fun design and layout!

While I cannot make a nice card with premade embellishments to save my life, I felt totally inspired by her layout and lifted it almost completely for today's Christmas card.

The poinsettias are made using daisy punches, layered, and yellowish green rhinestones. I had originally only used the large flower, but the design felt incomplete and just too plain, so I added the small one and like the way it moves your eye around the design.

I couldn't have made this card without being inspired by Courtney's fab card, so thanks so much Courtney!

And check out Courtney's blog HERE for some amazingly beautiful, hip, and trendy paper craft awesomeness!

stamps: Hero Arts (shadow), Papertrey sentiment
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white, SU real red
accessories: flower punches, rhinestones

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Can You Have Too Much Stuff?

Y'all know I don't mass-produce cards because I have stamper's ADHD and get sooooo bored making dozens of the same thing. This is more of a problem at Christmas because I need about 120 cards, and making 120 different cards is hard work.

Y'all also know that the simpler the card design, the happier I am. Oh, I like making funky, experimental cards with unusual placements and white-on-white layers, but the results rarely fill me with as much joy as the simplest image and sentiment placed perfectly centered or following the rule of thirds on one white layer.

As part of this year's Simplicity Christmas, I wanted to capitalize on a lesson I learned last year...making a few simple product variations on a simple design adds fun and decreases time spent on making Christmas cards.

Of course, variations are easier if you have, ahem, a bunch of stuff in your stash.

So a very simple, basic design gets a little different treatment using three different forms of red embellishments, proving once again that you can never have too much stuff. Having three forms of essentially the same thing can serve a stamper quite well, thank you very much.

And here's the proof:

Small Red Pearls

Close-up of Small Red Pearls

Red Nail Heads

Close-up of Red Nail Heads

Red Rhinestones

Close-up of Red Rhinestones

Of the three, the nail heads are the most postal-friendly embellishment because they are the flattest. But the pearls and rhinestones look better to me.

You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion as to which looks better.

No matter which you prefer, however, you simply must admit that having all three is preferable to only having one or two.

And if you only have one or two in your stash, I won't judge you if you run out and buy the ones you don't have.

That way, I won't have to feel guilty about longing for those stupid enamel-looking dots all the super-star stampers are using on their cards these days, right?

Of course I'm right.

Happy shopping stamping!

stamps: Papertrey Wreath for All Seasons
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, pearls, nail heads, corner rounder

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Results of the A/B Poll and an OLW165 and UYS Christmas Card

This week's OLW is on Ardyth's blog and it's to make a holiday card without using red or green. As you'll see below, this is so very do-able! Click on over to Ardyth's blog to play along!

The results of the informal poll on THIS POST were interesting. I asked whether you preferred Card A or B, the only difference being the use of colored card stock for either the stamped circles or the mats under stamped circles.

Hands down, the majority of you liked Card A. Out of 50 comments, 34 of you said A, for a variety of reasons. Thirteen of you said you preferred B, and most of those said it was because they could read the sentiment stamped on white more clearly. Two of you said you couldn't decide.

I'm with the two. I was struck by how different the two cards are but baffled as to how to decide which one is "better." Each is good for its own reasons, and I suspect that what matters most is how important you consider the readability of the sentiment. I deliberately made it one word in a simple font so stamping it on colored card stock would be as readable as I could make it. For the majority of you, this seems to have worked! 

These sorts of design questions are so interesting, mainly because there isn't really a "right" answer. We're all right, I think.

Anywho, today's card results from Ardyth's One-Layer Wednesday Challenge this week AND my Use-Your-Stamps Challenge. This four-block shadow stamp from Hero Arts is among the first stamps I ever bought.

This card was hard to photograph/edit. The light snowflakes contrast a just a bit more on the card, so they have a bit more visual weight and look more balanced in real life.

Click over to Ardyth's challenge to see her lovely black-and-white-and-glitter card. She rocked that bottle of Stickles. My free-handing with Stickles NEVER looks as good as hers turned out!

For those of you doing the Use-Your-Stamps challenge, this time of year is excellent for using all those winter/holiday stamps. If you feel so compelled, you could challenge yourself to use each and every winter/holiday stamp you own this year.

Of course, if you're shooting for a Simplicity Christmas, you might not want to do such a thing.

In fact, forget I said anything.

stamps: Hero Arts (shadow), Papertrey Snowflake Serenade
ink: Memento, Versacolor
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: assorted rhinestones

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Using What I Have

Years ago...and I do mean years...I purchased a bunch of Fabriano Medioevalis cards and envelopes. These blank cards, made from beautiful, deckle-edge watercolor paper, feel too good to use.

How silly is that?

I have occasionally screwed up the courage to use a few of them and even messed up some of the cards (the horror!), leaving me with extra envelopes. Of course, using other supplies as part of my Use Your Stamps Challenge makes sense, and I'm happy to say I've now used up all my FM cards and envelopes.

The world, as far as I know, is still spinning.

Here are the results. Note that the cards are not standard A2 size; they are about 3.25" x 5.25".

The last card isn't Fabriano. It's Papertrey vintage cream cut o Fabriano size. The texture of the watercolor paper didn't work with the solid block stamps (Hero Arts) of the nativity scene (I ruined a card trying to make them work). This card and a bunch like it will go into one of the leftover envelopes from the cards.

The grand total made with these cards and envelopes was 15 cards...not too shabby!

What do you have lying around in your stash that you could use up?

stamps: various Papertrey and Hero Arts
ink: various
paper: Fabriano Medioevalis, Papertrey Vintage Cream
accessories: none

Monday, November 4, 2013

And the Winner Is...

Margaret, who said:

"My daughters have mentioned recently they're finding the idea of Christmas stressful, so I'm helping them by giving them permission to not get me a gift!
Loved your ideas, Susan, and really Christmas shouldn't been a burden. . ."
What a great way to reduce others' stress during the holidays!
Margaret, please send me an email at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com with your snail-mail address so I can send you your Copic markers!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Card A or Card B or Both?

I will announce the winner of the Copics some time on Monday.

In the meantime, thank you all for your comments and emails! Lots of good stuff.

Also, the current OLW is on Ardyth's blog and is really a fun one! Play the Game: make a card inspired by a game or some form of play. I really, really wish I had a stamp of a classic painting so I could do a card based on favorite board game ever. But alas, I hope I have time to play along with something....

Today's cards are a study in contrasts, and I'm curious to know which one you like better.

Card A: Stamping on colored card stock with white mats

Card B: Stamping on white card stock with colored mats

Which do you like better and why? Or are they the same in your estimation?

Inquiring minds, and all that....

stamps: Papertrey Ink (Paper Trey)
ink: Memento black
paper: SU turquoise, green galore, cool Caribbean; Papertrey white
accessories: MS scallop circle punch, circle punch, dimensionals, clear dome sticker