Sunday, July 14, 2019

Healing Wishes

Here's the last card I have in my computer from Before the Flood, or as I have taken to calling it, BF. As we've been purging and reboxing stuff in the basement, I've been labeling the new boxes "PF" for post-flood.

Which means I should be labeling stuff before the flood "AF" for anteflood, sort of like antebellum but with a flood instead of a war. But why label boxes that are going in the recycling bin? That's just silly.

I want my craft space back! It's hard to believe the flood happened on Father's Day. Almost a month ago. And this downtime has happened when I actually have had more time to stamp. It's not fair!

Since Father's Day. That's a lot of Whining Time. Or WT, if you will.

Instead of more WT, however, let's look at a pretty card using an old staple, Dot Spot from Papertrey.

The large Dot Spot was inked with Memento pinks, spritzed with Tattered Angels sparkly stuff, which doesn't show up on the pictures, but oh well. The center was inked with Memento Dandelion and spritzed. The paper is a Hero Arts handmade watercolor paper, which is delightfully textured.

And hopefully by the end of next week, I'll be able to make something new.

Thanks for your patience!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Saturday, July 13, 2019

An End in Sight

Whew. The insurance company finally came through, and the restoration company should be putting everything back to order starting at the end of next week. They call it "put-back," which isn't a very creative name, but boy howdy, do I want it.

The chaotic aftermath of the flood isn't over yet, but hopefully, it will be in a week or two. In the meantime, George and I are going through the mess trying to purge as much junk as possible. There may be some grab-boxes of crafty things for sale soon!

I still have a few cards from before the flood to share. Today's card makes fantastically minimalist use of some of the MANY bottles of Stickles littering my embellishment drawers.

My original plan was to add a raised sentiment over the stems, but there wasn't quite enough room so this card remains sentiment-less.

I think it's fine just as it is.

Because glitter. Glitter is good.

This style...mostly black with touches of bright color...truly satisfies the minimalist in me. It's a go-to design that always works.

What are your go-to designs? I can't stamp right now, but I can live vicariously through you!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and put-backs,

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Well, That Was Unexpected

Happy Treason Independence Day to all my American readers. If you haven't already read it, Signing Their Lives Away by Denise Kiernan (a friend of my sister) is a must-read for the holiday. It's entertaining, funny, and informative, and it celebrates the real humans who committed treason in the name of freedom 243 years ago tomorrow.

Now, for a couple of cards after such a long break. These were made over a month ago. I was playing with color layering stamps from Hero Arts. So much has happened since I made these two cards. 

This card was totally inspired by this photo on Pinterest, but June. June happened. I can't remember exactly the thought process that led to this super different version. Still, you can see the connection, I hope. And my signature white-on-white layering. These layers were made with 80lb Neenah Solar White, while the card base is 110lb of the same.

Note that I embossed AND die cut for this card. So out of my usual, but so possible because of Eva's gift of a Cuttlebug. Still so grateful for that! Thanks, Eva!

And then, this card evolved while I had the stamp set out.  The color combo came from a pin as well. Aqua and yellow. What a fresh and fabulous combo.

Okay, so June was a weird month.

First, while in Lakeside, OH, waiting for the start of the commissioning of a friend as a provisional elder in the United Methodist Church*, which was delayed by a tornado warning, I received a text from my hubby saying he was quitting his job. Wow.

That was weird. And wonderful, as George's skill set is in high demand in the Dayton area, so he landed a new job with little effort, no relocation required. He's currently goofing off between jobs, making homemade pierogies and roasted chicken and other yummy things.

Flashback to Father's Day when I woke up and found the carpet squishy underfoot. Basement flood. First, insurance said they wouldn't pay. Then, after a second flood, the restoration company figured out the problem was the sump pump. We have a sump pump rider on our homeowner's policy, so yay! It won't cover everything, but still, yay!

The second flood happened three hours after the restoration team of three big, strong men spent 8 hours ripping out wet carpet pad and floating the carpet with 16 blowers.

The second floating. Magic carpets make me sad, now. This
whole area is empty, awaiting new padding and carpet/baseboard reinstall. 
I completely lost it when I saw the water squirting up between my foundation and the wall of the basement. Squirting! Gushing! It poured through the cleaned out area, with nothing to impede its progress to completely dry parts of the basement. The second flood was worse, completely saturating the entire basement, ruining baseboards and drywall that had been unaffected by the first flood.

Hormones. I'm blaming the hormones for my sobbing phone call to the restoration company to tell them that all their equipment was running in a new flood and ohmygoshweareallgoingtobeelectrocuted!!!!!!

Perimenopausal hot flashes and vacillating between homicidal rage and thumb-sucking fetal  depression rendered me a (literal and figurative) hot mess in the face of the mayhem in my basement. 

Everything is dry now, but we can't move any of the piles of stuff until the restoration company does its repairs, which await insurance company approval, which is delayed by the higher priority of tornado damage in north Dayton from the Memorial Day tornados that did WAY worse damage to already impoverished areas of Ohio.

My craft area. So sad.

One great pile. I've started to go through this and throw away
damaged stuff or old stuff we should have thrown away years ago.

See, Eva. The Cuttlebug is fine.

A small bedroom stuffed with stuff.

The larger basement bedroom, also stuffed full.
What a mess.

Two unfinished areas are similarly chaotic. Our beautiful new sump pump is working away, keeping everything dry.

I'm just grateful we can get this all fixed up.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and dry basements,

*The UMC has made national news since its February, 2019, Special General Conference made some unfortunate decisions regarding policies related to LGBTQIA+ inclusion in ordained ministry and same-sex marriage. I'll be weighing in on my religious blog, Transforming Common Days (which hasn't had a new post since 2017), once I can type without either crying or raging...neither of which is very helpful. Or Christ-like. But crying and raging are most definitely hormonal. Ain't perimenopause grand?

Whine over.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Max Bling

Have you, too, hoarded embellishments? Have you, too, saved "the good stuff" for . . . what? The future? When you're a better stamper? When you have more confidence?

Seriously. I'm guilty.

But not anymore.

Thirty-seven little embellishments picked up on a whim at Marco's one day at least a year ago...used on one card. There are still some left but not enough to make a duplicate of this. This has to be a record for use of bling on a card.

And it was totally worth it!

Release your hoard! Use the bling!

After all, there's more where it came from. ;-)

The die is from Sizzix, the stamp is from Papertrey, and the bling is from Queen and Company.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Flower Fun

I have a confession to make.

I burned out on flowers.

There. I said it.

It's been a while since any flower stamps made me happy, but flowers often sell well in Karen's Card Shop. My flower stamps felt old and stale to me. On a whim, I bought a couple of floral sets from Simon Says and am feeling flower fun again.

This set (Favorite Flowers from SSS) is incredibly easy to work with because the loose design is very forgiving on the two-step stamping. There's lots of movement in the lines, too, so the images have lots of energy. Fun. Easy. Flowers!

The color combo here came from Pinterest and looks so spring-y and fun.

Random-stamped designs seem to be very popular right now, and I'm happy to see that. If you're stuck figuring them out, take a look at my old post on random stamping here: Tutorial on Random Stamping. It's not a terribly sophisticated tutorial, but there are some good tips!

Happy June to you! I hope you're enjoying the season. We've had storms pass through Monday night just 20 miles north of us. Tornados destroyed homes and businesses, and the clean-up will take a long time. Other areas of the U.S. have been hard-hit by floods and storms as well. My thoughts and prayers for all who have been affected.

Stay safe, listen to the weather service and police, and comply with take-shelter orders.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and safety,

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sending Happy Thoughts

Before we get started on today's post, let me thank Carol, Lisa, and Patti for their donations of cards to Karen's Card Shop! I've already restocked the shop with some of Lisa and Patti's cards (which arrived first), and Carol's will go in next week. Such lovely cards...and lovely hearts to share them with First United Methodist Church of Springboro!

Thanks in advance to all who said they were sending cards, too!

Now for today's card, which uses two new set from Simon Says Stamp: Sending Happy Thoughts and Artsy Flower Parts.

Breaking the stem over the sentiment made me so very happy! It enhances the unity of the card nicely.

And isn't that Archival black ink so very, very black?!?!?! Loving a well-inked, high-quality inkpad.

Now, let's talk about memory and stamps.

When one doesn't spend at least an hour a day in one's craft room, one forgets what one has...and it's much harder to stamp. I spent about two hours today making nothing, and what I learned from my frustration is that I need to go through all my stamps again to remember what I've got.

First-world problems. Definitely.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Monday, May 13, 2019

Revisiting an Old Set

Since Karen's Card Shop is particularly low on get-well cards, I decided to make a few using an old favorite from Papertrey: Modern Basics. 

Hadn't noticed that I photographed them in increasing order of simplicity, but there you go.

The first card contains sequins...and I actually like how it turned out! What a surprise. Sequins and I don't usually get along, but these from Hero Arts are kind of cooperative. So yay!

The second card takes advantage of opposites on the color wheel; blue and orange create such high energy.

And finally, a little green leaf with three tiny bling. Sweet!

The cardstock used for these cards is Neenah Solar White in 80lb and 110lb weights. The base is, obviously, the heavier weight. I have a huge stash of Papertrey Stampers Select and love it, but have experimented with shifting to Neenah simply for the two weights to lighten up my white-on-white layered cards. I'm not sure this shift will be permanent, but the Neenah sure works great!

Karen's Card Shop is in need of cards if you are interested in donating. Our best sellers are Get Well, Thank You, Thinking of You, Love and Friendship, and Birthday. All proceeds from the shop go to our church's general fund and Stephen Ministry program. Shoot me an email at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com if you would like my address!

Blessings to you all for sticking with me despite my sparse posting since I've gone back to teaching. Words can't express how satisfying and joyful it is to be working with students again. After a successful second semester, I've been offered one class over the summer and am waiting to hear about the fall. Nevertheless, I'm happy to have a lighter summer which will allow for more stamping, and the short summer semester doesn't start until June 11. Yay! Thanks so much for all the good wishes and encouragement you've offered up. My heart is full. Mwah!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Happy Stamping

Turns out my optimism that teaching wouldn't interfere with stamping too much was hopelessly silly. It's rare I can sit down and stamp during a semester (much less blog about it), but I have made a few cards and want to share them with you in a quick post.

The first card up is much prettier in real life. The front is cut away with polka dots stamped on the inside of the card. It's a lovely effect!

The wreath is loosely colored (basically, I didn't even try to stay in the lines) and the effect is soft and pretty. I used three different shades of yellow green Copics.

For this card, my Copic coloring is quite amateurish, but I love the violet and green color scheme.

The envelope couldn't handle Copics, so I stamped a gradient on the side in a straight line, on the theory that curves love lines. The effect works...for me. You might have a different opinion.

This uses a new-to-me stamp set from Papertrey.

I used a fun gold and purple color scheme for this birthday card.

The gold dots were made with a gold pen.

Finally, this wedding shower card was designed to match a store-bought gift bag (on left). It was shockingly hard to find inks that would match. But it turned out pretty nifty, especially since some sequins made it onto the card and the card did NOT end up in the trash as a result. Sequins don't like me, for some reason. But they cooperated here, and I thank them for it.

And that's that. Until next time, which will probably come after I turn in final grades on May 8, I hope you are stamping happily--and more than I am!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Yay! I Stamped!

First off, let me thank Lu C for sending me a Martha Stewart scoring board. What a kind and generous gift!

Someone somewhere at some time in the past recommended marking the key scoring lines on this device, so that's what I did. Thanks, some person on the interwebs!

And now for a card I made today using a new acquisition from Simon Says Stamp called Sending Happy Thoughts. The top panel is slightly raised by using an extra layer of card stock under it, cut slightly smaller. I didn't want to pop it up on craft foam because that makes cards hard to mail.

The black and white with just a pop of hot pink makes me very, very happy!

I hope it makes you happy, too, because I've been thinking about you all. Classes are swell, and I'm thoroughly enjoying all aspects of teaching again (even grading!). But I desperately miss my craft space and the interactions with you. Balance is hard to find right now, but it'll come.

Lord willing and the creek don't rise, as my grandmother used to say.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

After the Purge, Part 4

As promised, I'd like to share some of my favorite tools and supplies with you. These are work-a-day items for which I'm extremely grateful. Perhaps you already have tools and supplies you love (feel free to share them in the comments!), and perhaps you'll get a few ideas for things to try.

1. The Scor-Pal. This is the original pal, which I purchased at an Archiver's many years ago with a coupon. The scoring tool that came with it wore down very quickly, so I used my sturdier bone folder (the bottom ivory-colored one), which has worked well for many years. The folder on top is a teflon folder that is BRILLIANT! No matter how much you rub the paper, it won't leave shiny marks. It's too soft to score with, but once I score a piece of paper with the harder tool on the Scor-Pal, I fold the paper and burnish the fold with the teflon tool. When one tool won't do, use two!

Every now and then, I wish I had the more current Scor-Pal or the Martha Stewart score board with lines every 1/8". The oddly-spaced scores on this board do irritate me on occasion...but not enough to buy the new one until this one cracks!

2. Ott-Lites. I have two on my desk and love, love, love them. The bulbs last forever and give such clean light that stamping at night is no problem. The clarity of the light is easy on my eyes and shows the true colors of ink, paper, and embellishments.

3. Adhesives. These are my favorite adhesives. The Tombow Mono Multi and Scotch Tacky Glue are white liquid glues that won't warp cardstock. Ninety percent of my sticking happens with them. The glue pens from Zig have different tips: one a ball-point for tiny glueing and one a felt tip for bigger gluing. They work perfectly for gluing die cuts or punched shapes. The Scotch temporary tape runner serves all sorts of purposes...especially for attaching masks to cardstock for sponged or stippled backgrounds. The large tape role at top is Scor-Tape, which I keep in 1/8", 1/4", and 1/2" widths. Because. You know. Options. For dimensional tape, I mainly use StampinUp or the squares from Michael's, but recently, my new favorite is Thin 3D Foam Squares, which are very thin and perfect for subtler dimensional pieces that are ever so much easier to mail. I've also combined them with thicker pieces to add two layers of pop to a card, which is ever so cool!

I have a whole drawer full of other adhesives for specialty applications. Again. Options.

4. Stamp cleaning. Such a mundane topic, but cleaning stamps is rather important, as anyone knows who's gone to stamp an image in a light pink only to realize that residual ink on the stamp turned that light pink into mud. Mud, I say! The Huggies container holds a damp washcloth for general cleaning needs, but to remove the residue, I spray Hero Arts Extra Clean stamp cleaner onto one side of the stamp scrubber. That stuff gets off anything and makes your next image true color every time. I do generally wipe a stamp on the damp washcloth after using the scrubber...just to be sure.

OCD? Me? Heavens, yes!

5. For small cutting, my 6" Omnigrid quilting ruler and craft knife work splendidly. The guidelines allow me to cut in 1/8" increments very easily, and as long as I keep my fingers out of the way, nothing gets stained with blood. Yay!

6. Must give a shout-out to Tina S., who gave me a MISTI a few years back. What a handy tool this is, especially for all the multi-step layering stamps that are so popular these days. I did spring for the magnet bars to hold paper down and wrapped them in a few layers of washi tape to give them tabs for easy placement.

A word of caution...these magnet bars are strong, and if you get them too close together, it might take a big, strong man to separate them. Very frustrating.

7. A mascot. He's my fuzzy good-luck charm lording benevolently over my workspace. And when I ruin something despite his good influence, holding this soft, warm squishy owl calms me down.

8. Dear hubby bought me a Fiskars 12" cutter about 17 years ago for Christmas. This workhorse has cut perfectly straight lines at perfectly right angles for me all these years. I replace the blade and cutting track periodically...and have several of each on hand just in case. (One note: the cutting track rotates on four sides before needing to be replaced. Those things last a very long time!)

9. To store paper, nothing beats these Cropper Hopper paper holders. The accordion files hold scraps, and the magazine holders hold full 8.5"x11" sheets. Dividers keep the different white cardstocks labeled clearly and also separate my PTI and StampinUp colored cardstocks.

My favorite white cardstocks are Papertrey Stampers Select, Neenah Solar White in 80# and 110#, and Gina K Deluxe White. The Gina K is coated and perfect for coloring with Copics on one-layer bleed-through.

10. Sterilite Storage Drawers. These 3-drawer plastic storage units are indispensable for me. The three drawers in the picture hold embellishments, but I have plastic drawer units stacked all over my craft area to store everything from fabric scraps to stencils to envelopes to inks to spare blades for my craft knife. The drawers are labeled with simple return address Avery labels, which peel easily off if I decide to rearrange things. The drawers are removable, which makes them super handy. 

11. My embellishment drawers sort my doo-dads and gee-gaws by color. Shown is my neutrals drawer. It's representative of what's held in the drawers for other colors: rhinestones, sequins, Stickles, Smooch, Stardust pens, Wink of Stella (although I only have those in clear). The neutrals overflow into the next drawer, which contains thread, twine, and other embellishments.

If you don't sort your embellishments by color, consider giving it a try. It's pretty awesome.

12. This darling Irish tea mug was a gift from my sister. It holds my Tim Holtz watercolor brushes and aqua brushes. These brushes work very well for cardmaking purposes and come in a nice assortment of sizes and shapes. I do have some finer watercolor brushes purchased in my book illumination days, and those are in a protected case for when I get back to illuminating.

13. Tools in my cup. A sturdy metal cup next to an OttLite holds my tools. The needle-nose pliers are handy for holding paper that's being heat embossed, and the scallop scissors snip the corners off a piece of cardstock to give a more finished look. The butter knife is handy for all sorts of odd jobs, including scoring, removing staples, and such. CutterBee scissors cut fussy or otherwise very precisely. The tweezers are ever so helpful for placing small die cuts or punched shapes, and the wood-handled awl on the end with a wine cork protecting me from punctures pokes holes where needed. It's proof that once upon a time, I practiced bookbinding.

14. Thanks to my friend Eva, I have a Cuttlebug. And this little darling makes me very happy indeed!

What tools and supplies do you find indispensable in your stash? I invite you to share!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Valentines and the Birthday Card Holder

For Valentine's Day I sent care packages to the four college students whom I have adopted and to my son. The packages included lots of candy, gift cards to Starbucks, and the following cards:

These little cards were fun to make with a new-to-me stamp set from Papertrey called Be Mine, Valentine. The giant gem was so easy to cut out, and I went with a vintage-y, gender-neutral color scheme.

Now, the birthday card holder several of you asked to see.

A friend gave me this years ago, and it still looks pretty new.

It has a pocket for each month that holds cards.

I created a chart for making all the family birthday cards.
As you can see, I'm not quite finished with 2019.

Marjolein Bastin makes lovely stuff for Hallmark.

It never stays flat, so it takes up a lot of room on the bookshelf. 
Pretty cool, eh?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,