Sunday, December 8, 2019

A Knotty Christmas

Longtime readers of Simplicity know that every year, my Stephen Ministry group makes ornaments to hand out, reminding people that not everyone is jolly during the holidays. This year's ornaments  feature a gorgeous Celtic cross stamp. 

Below are a picture of the ornament and the presentation read aloud in services last night and today. I hope you find it useful and inspiring. And if you are one of those whose knots have gotten so tangled you feel sad and far from hope, please email me. I can put you in touch with a Stephen Ministry group in your area. Stephen Ministries is all over the place!

A Knotty Christmas

It’s easy in the holiday season for us to tie ourselves in knots. The to-do lists get so long! Sometimes, we get so knotted up in the doing we forget about the meaning.

The meaning is this: God loves us so much that he sent us Jesus, God with us, a baby in a manger, peace on earth, good will toward all.

As you go about the hustle and bustle of the holidays, please remember that some people in our church and community are struggling and need some extra love. Their knots aren’t caused by being too busy but by not enough money, or too much grief, or some sort of illness, or broken relationships. When the knots get too bad, people can easily forget God’s promise in Isaiah:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.”

You can be that promised strength and help from God by paying attention, reaching out, and listening to someone who’s hurting this Christmas season. You might also tell them about Stephen Ministry. We are here for those knotty situations. Talk to any of us with blue name tags.

This year’s Stephen Ministry ornaments remind us of God’s promise and that we are called to serve others in love and in His name. 

The ornaments were made in memory of our dear friend and fellow Stephen Minister Keith Wylie. His legacy of faith lives on in our Celtic themed ornaments, with knotty crosses on them.
Keith loved Celtic knotwork, with its intricate and beautiful designs, and these crosses show that no matter how knotty our lives may become, all things are made beautiful in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus.

God with us.
A baby in a manger.
Peace on earth.
Good will toward all.
Merry Christmas and thank you.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Veering from Inspiration

Today's card was inspired by THIS PIN shared by fraubluetenstempel on Instagram. My card deviates rather dramatically from the inspiration card, but I couldn't have made it without the lovely example to riff off of.

First of all, I don't use designer paper, but I loved the text behind the printed leafy branches and the white die cut branches. The whole effect is simply beautiful. So I improvised.

My text stamps are all small print, which completely changed the balance of the design, so I went vertical rather than horizontal. I stamped Text Style from Papertrey after masking off a vertical strip. Then I stamped the wildflower from Life (also Papertrey) in Memento Pear Tart, and die cut some wildflowers (Tim Holtz, I think) in white. Following the inspiration piece, I stamped some spots around to soften everything.

The bold black sentiment of the inspiration piece works equally well with my rather different design, though!

So my card may not bear too much resemblance to the inspiration piece, but it's very satisfying anyway. At least to me! And I hope to you.

Hope, love, joy, and peace,

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Birthday Inspiration

This incredibly gorgeous PIN by Karin Hogger inspired today's card. The color scheme, bling, and layers are extremely similar. But because my background of words turned out so much busier than Karin's version, I felt the branch die cuts would be visual noise.

On the whole, I'm happy with the card, and it will go to my nature-loving son for his birthday next year.

But it's a bit busy for me. And I like Karin's version better.

Oh, and it was Karin's card that inspired me to buy Gina K's layered eucalyptus set. Can't wait to play with that and perhaps try a more literal interpretation of Karin's gorgeous card!

Hope, love, joy, and peace,

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Thank You, Liz!

Okay, so I made a Thanksgiving card that turned out GREAT but photographed terribly, so I won't post it. I have my pride, and it would be pricked if you saw a photo that was so color-unbalanced coming from me. That's what happens when I use something other than white cardstock. *sigh*

By the way, if you have Apple Music, their 2015 Smooth Jazz Christmas playlist is festive!

So, my friend Liz, who's an OUTSTANDING graphic design artist and lovely human who drinks a lot of tea, gave me a gift card to Simon Says Stamp for my birthday. I bought two sets with it--one book-themed set from Three Room Studio and Gina K's layered eucalyptus because, why not?

Anyway, when I told Liz what I bought, she asked for a bookmark made with the book-themed set. The stamps arrived yesterday, and here's what I made for Liz to say thank you. Eeeep!!!!

Obviously, this is a GIANT cup of tea on VERY small books, but who cares about scale? Not me! Because this turned out even better than it was in my head, which almost never happens to me but must happen to Liz quite often because she's such a pro.

A few tips if you want to do something similar. Staples tend to rust (which would be sacrilege in a bookmark!), and I didn't have small ones anyway. So I sewed instead of stapled and pre-punched holes using a Stampin'Up mat pack and a fancy bookbinding awl. To reduce bulk caused by the fold, I used 80lb Neenah Solar White instead of my usual 110lb Papertrey.

The tea bag is made from a 2" x 5.5" strip scored at 2.5", 2.75", and 3". After stamping, coloring (with assorted Copics), and folding, I punched the corners with a Stampin'Up corner punch. After positioning the two holes using the mat pack template and awl, I sewed the paper-strip ends together and knotted the thread in the back, trimming one tail of the thread really short.

The tea tag is 5/8" x 1 3/4" strip scored at 7/8". Read is stamped on both sides, with the R at the fold end. I poked a hole in the middle, sewed the end of the long tail through to the inside of the fold, added a drop of glue, and stuck the end of the thread down.

And there you have most favorite thing I've made in a long time. Thanks, Liz! I hope you love it like I love you, my friend!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Birthday Snowflake: When Inspiration Takes a Weird Turn

So today's card was totally inspired by THIS PIN by Kate Wilson. I love it so much...the red square, the white snowflake, the little gemstones, the subtle sentiment...basically, I love everything about it. Kate is a genius!

But here's the card I made. Hmmm.

Where, you might ask (with complete justification), are the red square, subtle sentiment, and tiny little rhinestones?

Well, I realized something as I kept cutting down a square of red cardstock to get the perfect balance behind my snowflake. My snowflake punch punches a chubby snowflake. Whatever punch or die Kate used is delicate, curvy, and beautiful.

Her snowflake is also not a natural snowflake shape as snowflakes have six arms, not eight, but really, artistically, should we be sticklers on this point? I'm not going to hold wrong numbers of arms against snowflake stamps anymore because it makes me feel OCD and obnoxious. Feel free to condemn inaccurate snowflakes yourself, of course. I'm not going to tell you what to think because in addition to being irritated by inaccurate snowflake stamps, I used to hate turning odd numbered years of age, which, honestly, is borderline pathological weirdness, so who am I to judge?

By the way, I just turned 53, which is both odd and a prime, and I'm just fine with it. I considered the alternative. I also credit the meditation I've been doing lately with overcoming at least a bit of my OCD. Yay, me!

Anyway, my snowflake is not delicate. In fact, its chubbiness was not flattered at all by a high-contrast background that merely emphasized its thickness. So I ditched the red square. Now, my snowflake feels better about itself.

Without some contrast, however, the card looked rather blah, so I decided the sentiment needed to be bolder, and instead of clear rhinestones, an iridescent red sequin layered over a snowflake sequin would add sufficient interest.

It's interesting how the sequin flashes turquoise in some light. That's real, not some weird photography trick.

I've used the word weird a lot in this post. Perhaps it's time to go to bed.

Anyway, I hope to have lots of time to stamp over this Thanksgiving week, and I hope in between stuffing turkeys and baking pies, you do, too.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and gratitude,

Friday, November 1, 2019

Birthday Mission


I'm a crafter on a mission.

I sat down at my craft desk today to start making birthday cards for next year. Christmas is pretty much a lost cause at this point (Barnes & Noble has some lovely cards anyway), so I shall forge ahead with a mission to make all the birthday cards I need next year.

That's about forty cards. Which is about twenty more cards than I've made this year. But maybe, just maybe, I can do this.

Today's card is a promising start, completely indebted to THIS GORGEOUS CARD.

You'll note the obvious changes and similarities. First, I increased the white space around the focal point with a horizontal card (6.25" x 3.5") because, you know, why not? The color scheme isn't very different, but I used hearts instead of flowers with a watercolor effect. Instead of a single strand of string, I used two to bring together the colors of the hearts and add a little hearts are much more basic than Kleine-stempe's gorgeous flowers. And orange and hot pink look so fun and fresh together, don't they? I kept the black sentiment on a banner. 

For the mechanics, I used circle punches (1.5" and 1.75"), and to ever-so-slightly pop the top circle, I punched a 1 3/8" cardstock circle to glue under it. The Memento markers blend so nicely with a single spritz of water. What a simple, beautiful technique!

The Birthday Mission is definitely off to a satisfying start. Yay!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A Lot of Cards...One Even by Me!

I made a little time to stamp last weekend, and came up with this card, which is a little busy for me, but I like it anyway.

The sentiment is an old Stampa Rosa wood-mounted rubber stamp that's closing in on 20 years old. The holly comes from a Hero Arts clear set. The burgundy and shadow gray are such a dramatic, contrasting pair!

And now, a huge thank you to Lisa, Eddie, Kelle, and Jackie who all donated beautiful cards to Karen's Card Shop in the past couple of months. Special thanks to Kelle who included Christmas cards in her package because she knew I hadn't made enough of my own this year. What a treat to have some of her beautiful cards to send to my friends and family who are used to getting handmade "specials"!

Here the card shop donations are...all bagged, sorted, and ready to take to church. I'll be putting some of them out in the shop tomorrow.

And here are cards that people have sent to me in the past six months or so. Today, my cork board got updated. It felt so good, and I can't thank those of you who have sent cards enough. 

Stampers are awesome people!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,