Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Happy Announcement and the One-Layer Wednesday 99 Pure Inspiration Challenge

The One-Layer Wednesday Team is happy to announce two new members: Karen Dunbrook and Ardyth Percy-Robb!  These two very talented ladies are enthusiastically dedicated to clean-and-simple stamping, and it's such an honor to have them on the OLW team.


And now for the OLW99 challenge. (Yes, I got stuck with an odd number again. I'll just put on my big-girl panties and deal with it.)

This week's challenge is an inspiration challenge. I have a board on Pinterest titled Pure Inspiration. Take a gander at it and get inspired by something you see. Perhaps it's a color combo. Perhaps it's an embellishment. Perhaps it's a layout. Perhaps it's a texture. Perhaps it's a shape. Whatever you can find to get inspired, go for it!

Here's my card, which was inspired by the colors and (somewhat) shapes of this interesting rug.

I completed the sentiment (from PTI's Quilter's Sampler set) on the inside of the card, and stamped a hexagon under it, but forgot to take a picture. To create the flat edges on top and bottom, I simply masked the card with a large post-it note and stamped the hexagons from PTI's Happy Hexagons set. Then, I masked each line of the three-line sentiment to stamp separately.

Rules for OLW99

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single layer of card stock folded in half. No other layers allowed!

2. Find inspiration from my Pure Inspiration Board on Pinterest. Remember to keep embellishments to a minimum and NO ADDITIONAL LAYERS of card stock!

3. Post your card and the link to the specific pin that inspired you somewhere on the interwebs. Then link to it using the InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity. If you link to your blog, please link to the specific post, not your blog's main page.

4. HAVE FUN!!!!

Monday, July 30, 2012


Okay, so Colorado Crafter reminded me that I hadn't announced a winner for the Saddle Up Again card.

Three people gave entertaining stories: Dee, Lucy, and Mary Hansen. I'm gonna send the card and a packet of bling to Lucy because she referenced Hopalong and Roy Rogers, but Mary and Dee will get different cards and packs of bling as well.

Just send me your snail mail address to susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com.

And thanks, Colorado Crafter, for keeping me honest!

Fun with Alphabets

Pull out an alphabet set and play!

It's fun, especially if you use clear stamps and a gridded acrylic block.

stamps: Hero Arts Typewriter Alphabet
ink: Memento yellow, pear tart, grape jelly
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: gridded acrylic block

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Winterberry Christmas

Winterberry is an awesome holiday set from Papertrey. I like almost every card I make with it. Like this one....

Nothing cosmic here, but the colors pop so nicely on all that white, don't you think?

On another note, I've been overthinking contemplating the rearrangement of my craft supplies and actually moving some stuff around and have done a few things to spruce up the space. Will post about that soon.

Plus, I've got an idea for a new papercrafting project that I'll share with you when I've worked out more details. I've been thinking about the happy fact of the military drawdown in the Middle East. That means the need for cards is decreasing, and as I don't like making cards that will just end up in boxes in my basement, I'm considering how to shift my papercrafting obsession in new areas, such as bookbinding and scrapbooking and gift-giving.

Don't panic! This blog will still be primarily cards. I send and give enough cards to keep the blog going. But some new stuff is gonna happen. I can feel it.

What things other than cardmaking do you do with paper? What would you be interested in seeing on this blog?

stamps: PTI winterberry
paper: PTI white, SU garden green
ink: Memento
accessories: corner rounder, half-pearls, Memento marker

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Distracted by Olympics

I'd intended to post last night, but was distracted by the Olympics opening ceremony, which was loud and bizarre and sometimes funny. The forging of the Olympic rings was brilliantly Tolkien-esque (not to mention ironic) and visually amazing. Kenneth reciting Shakespeare made me smile. JK reading Peter Pan made me smile. The Thames video sequence was exciting and meaningful at the same time. Mr. Bean made me laugh. The volunteers mostly seemed to be having a blast (as opposed to concerned that their families might be imprisoned if they beat their drums out of time), and I loved that.

But I got tired and went to bed somewhere around the M nations (Mongolia, perhaps) filing in.

I'm not hip or postmodern, and prefer cleaner, simpler, more coherent shows. But then, I'm also not English, just an Anglophile, and anything that includes royal corgis being adorable and the Queen as a Bond Girl has my vote.

Plus, there was none of that freaky-scary lock-step totalitarianism China served up in Beijeng that gave me nightmares. No surprise there considering Great Britain has given us hobbits, Jane Austen, the Beatles, the Book of Kells, and Cadbury chocolate (surely the reasons people don't defect from Great Britain), but what a relief! The scariest things about the London show were from its literature, and seeing Lord Voldemort deflated and a bunch of Mary Poppinses saving the day satisfied my soul.

And now to my card for today, which was inspired not by Olympic rings but by a picture from, you guessed it, 1,000 Bags, Tags, and Labels.

Here's the inspiration:

Here's my card:

The AR/OC side of me loved how the three leaves were lined up on the bottles, and the yellow and vermilion color combo speaks of fall and warmth and my favorite season of the year. I have at least 15 birthday cards I send in October and November to friends and family, so this card will be particularly useful.

I hemmed and hawwed about putting a couple of brown pearls on the card base next to the bottom of the raised panel on the right, but decided against it. That way, the leaves remain the focal point, not the sentiment (which would stand out more with the addition of brown pearls).

The leaf stamps are old, old, old from PSX (Personal Stamp Exchange). What a tragedy PSX went out of business so long ago.

And here's an update. I've finally started whipping my craft space into shape, inspired by V-Grrrl's before and after posts on her blog. Will have some after pictures of my own to show in a week or two, perhaps sooner, depending on how AR/OC I get about it.

stamps: PSX, PTI (Mega Mixed Messages)
ink: Memento
paper: PTI vintage cream
accessories: dimensionals

Thursday, July 26, 2012

OLW98 Reminder

Cheryl is hosting the OLW this week. Click on over to check out her Summer Challenge!

Also, the OLW will have some cool announcements next week. Good things happening, folks. Really good things!

Christmas in July

This is the reason I don't submit work for publication. I get so excited when I've made something I just have to share it as soon as possible...and as soon as I do that, I can't submit the work for publication.

But I have to share these with you because, dang, they make me happy!

First up, subtle Christmas.

How silvery and soft and white and pretty!!!!  You know, looking at this now, I think the design and colors would make a lovely wedding card.

stamps: Papertrey Silent Night, Winterberry
ink: Memories soft silver
paper: PTI white
accessories: flower punch, Icicle Stickles, tag punch, small circle punch, craft floss, dimensionals, corner rounder
Next up, colorful Christmas.

How festive and fun and pretty and colorful! This card screams Christmas.
Supplies as above, except
ink: Memento cottage green
paper: PTI white, SU real red
accessories: Gold Stickles

Now, think about it. To whom would you send each of these? The first might be more appropriate for someone whose Christmas is ambivalent...say, someone who lost a loved one recently or is struggling through a tough time in life. It's serene, soft, pretty, and the sentiment isn't in-your-face BE MERRY, but it acknowledges the holiday and lets them know you're thinking of them.

The second card is more appropriate for people who are happy it's Christmas. It's a bit formal, so you might send it to someone whose personal style is elegant. I wouldn't send this to my friend Rhonda, for example, because she would enjoy a House-Mouse-stamped card more.

Of course, most people can't make individualized Christmas cards for everyone on their list. But sometimes, cards just beg to be sent to a particular person. I have specific people in mind for these two cards.

How much customizing do you do for Christmas? How many cards to you expect to make this year? Have you started yet?

Inquiring minds, and all that....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Y'all Thought I Was Kidding...

when I said that 1,000 Bags, Tags, and Labels was a major source of inspiration. Well, I wasn't. Vicki got a copy of it. She knows exactly what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Uh huh.

Oh yeah.

Check it out.

My conversion of the above bag into the card below involved narrowing the standard card a bit (3 7/8" wide instead of 4 1/4") and the addition of bling. Because bling is good. And because in card form, I felt the need to unite the yellow and white areas of the card somehow. On the bag, the bottom is white all the way around. On the card, the white panel just looked stuck on rather than integrated into the design. By dotting the i with a small bling and putting two larger blings on the white panel, the two sections belong together better.

At least, that is how I see it. Any excuse to use bling, you know.

Please note the colored card base. It's either SU morning marigold (or was it marigold morning?) or summer sun. Not sure. Doesn't matter. Something sunny was all I needed. The sentiment is from a discontinued Hero Arts clear set, but to my way of thinking, any sunshine-themed sentiment would work here...walking on sunshine, you are my sunshine, sunshine on my shoulders.

Sending sunshine your way!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dude Birthday Card Inspiration

I saw this in 1,000 Bags, Tags, and Labels.

It made me think: "Great idea for a dude birthday card."

Not many things make me think that, so I jumped on it immediately. My card uses Faux Ribbon (Papertrey) and the biggest birthday sentiment I own (also Papertrey, but can't remember the set). I used post-its to mask off the ribbon stamps as I inked them to get varying lengths.

What do you have that you could use to make something similar?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Teeny, Tiny Christmas in July

I got a totally awesome Christmas-in-July  present today...I met Joan B, formerly of Paperlicious and now of Creating White Spaces. She treated me, my son Nick, and my nephew Mac to lunch at her workplace cafeteria (the site of the infamous couple about which she and her co-workers speculated so entertainingly). Today, her coworkers stared at us while we ate, no doubt relieved, as Joan said, that I wasn't a 54-year-old stalker pretending to be a stamper on the internet.

Nope, I'm a 45-year-old mom with humidity-challenged gray hair who peppered Joan with questions because SHE WAS RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF ME AND DANG I WASN'T GOING TO PASS UP THE CHANCE TO FIND OUT WHAT SORT OF LAW MIKE PRACTICES.

Because I'm nosy that way.

And no, I didn't understand the answer to the question of what sort of law Mike practices any better than Joan says she does, except that it has something to do with environmental law and is very important. But I got a chance to ask the question, so I'm happy.

Joan took us on a tour of her office and shared the plans for her new house with me. I adore looking at floor plans, and her new place is going to be absolutely adorable when it's built. I also got a chance to thank her personally for doing great work in special education.

So that's the scoop on my early Christmas present, and I can't thank Joan enough for making time for me in her busy day.

To celebrate my Christmas in July, and in honor of Joan's new blog and downsized home, I have some Christmas cards that play up a teeny-tiny focal point in a whole lotta white space.

The Martha Stewart postage stamp punch and Winterberry from Papertrey make a lovely combination. The numbers are from that tiny and annoying alphabet set from Papertrey. When I'm lucky, I get those tiny letters and numbers straight. Mostly, I just want to throw them at the wall.

And here's a use for those tiny, random strips of card stock that litter your workspace.

What sort of tiny focal point can you make this weekend? There's an informal challenge for you!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

More Green Galore Goodness and Heather's OLW97

Green galore has long been one of my favorite colors. It's so bright and happy and bright. Did I already say bright? Yep. It's bright. And happy.

So when I saw this picture in the 1,000 Bags, Tags, and Labels book, I got all happy and bright myself.

Of course, not only the color made sense. I have this Hero Arts Leaf Prints set. Which made me think that a pretty literal interpretation of the inspiration design was in order. 


Oh so flat, happy, and bright!!!

OLW97 is on Heather's blog, so click on over and line stuff up! I will play next Tuesday when my stamps and I are reunited. It'll feel so good. ;)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Here are two cards using the exact same design (at least as far as playing with positive/negative color patterns) but with completely different scale to see which I liked best just because I was curious and happened to have the right sized punches for an experiment.

Hmmm. I don't know. Part of me likes the smaller, cuter squares and flowers because, well, there is so much lovely white space. But another part of me prefers the bigger, bolder squares and flowers for the drama of it all.

Does this make me schizophrenic or merely indecisive?

I thought so.

A couple of comments on the design. First, before I send these, I might add a sentiment under the squares. Or I might not. It would just depend on the occasion. Second, the rhinestones are all lime green because when I tried a clear one on the green flower, it looked gray and totally ruined the card. Putting green rhinestones on both flowers is unexpected, given the positive/negative pattern here, but having something a little unexpected often makes a card more interesting.

In this case, I think it works nicely.

Which do you prefer? Cute or bold? I honestly don't think there's a right answer to this, just opinion. Do you have any supplies that you could conduct your own experiment on scale with?

That was a dreadfully worded question. Please forgive me. I drove all day to another state, and just minutes before arriving at my sister's house, we got hailed on. It's been a long day. But good.

paper: PTI white, SU green galore
accessories: punches

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Inspired by A Book Cover

The cover of THIS BOOK inspired the following card:

What a great design! I used an old SU set (can't remember the name) to make my blue strip and added a small piece of black stamped in white. LOVE the color balance on this one. Originally, I had the black piece just a bit too big, but trimming it down balanced everything nicely.

Off to spend some time with family, so I may be spotty posting the rest of the week...but I'll try!

Keep cool.

stamps: PTI Mega Mixed Messages, SU set (?)
ink: Memento black, SU white craft ink
paper: SU  bashful blue and black, PTI white
accessories: dimensional

Monday, July 16, 2012

Christmas in July--Edited

First of all thank you so much for your comments on yesterday's post. My heart is full.

And now, after yesteday's abundance of words, I shall be succinct.

Happy, happy sigh.

Edited to add: As CO Crafter points out in the comments, Michael's glitter paper is THICK and I did break my holly punch using it. This MS punch went through fairly easily, though. Maybe I just got lucky. But if anyone knows of thinner glitter paper, please kindly tell the rest of us!!!!

stamps: Hero Arts
paper: red glitter card stock (Michael's), PTI white
ink: Memento
accessories: Martha Stewart bow punch, dimensional, rhinestone

Sunday, July 15, 2012

This Little Light of Mine

The closing of Joan B's Paperlicious blog got me thinking. And please don't panic! I'm not going to stop blogging anytime soon. My life is in a completely different place than Joan's, and I need to stamp and blog obsessively for my mental health. That seems contradictory, but it's not.

Several other stampers and bloggers I know are contemplating quitting, and when I start seeing repetition of behavior in various places, the English major in me starts looking for patterns and meaning in it all. 

I'm a big believer in living intentionally, which means periodic questioning of what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and figuring out if I should be doing something else entirely. That's why my other blog is called Questioning my Intelligence. Questioning, indeed.

It's fascinating to watch others go through their own process of questioning, even when their answers don't make me happy, like the closing of Paperlicious. I appreciate how others can share their thoughts and feelings, especially in times of change and transition in life, because you just never know when someone else's ideas will help you or someone you love. We're all different, but in so many ways, we can help each other through this thing called life just by being open and honest and sharing our choices and how we make them.

Don't hide your light under a bushel!

Why do I stamp? Because it's fun and it satisfies some very deep, very personal needs. I grew up in a very crafty, artistic family. I couldn't do (or didn't enjoy) any of the crafts I grew up around, and honestly felt a bit like an outsider in the family because of it. Until I discovered papercrafts, whenever anyone asked what my hobbies were, I answered, "I read."

When I started papercrafting, I felt like a whole new world opened for me, but so often I felt like I didn't belong to the papercrafting world either. Oh, I wanted to belong, but my style, whatever the heck it was, didn't match what I was seeing in the magazines and online or, more importantly, what I was making.

One thing you might not know about me is that I'm part bulldog. When I decide to do something, I won't rest until I've exhausted the possibilities, and very little intimidates me. I just figure given enough time and obsession, I'll figure it out eventually. For instance, when I heard in seventh grade that women weren't welcome in the sciences, I resolved to be a scientist.

Because it would be hard.

Because men said I couldn't.

It took years for me to realize doing something just because people said I couldn't might not be the best way to live my life.

Language was both my true passion and my gift...reading literature and writing about it were much more natural to me than pipettes and ventilation hoods. I still love science and happily read about it, and I have no regrets for taking Cell Biology and Calculus and Organic Chemistry. But I made a choice to follow my light and have no regrets about that, either. It's all good.

So, with bull-dog determination, I eventually found a way to create papercrafts that reflected me--my personality, my vision, my passion, my light.

Clean and simple.

Who would have thought this crazy, overthinking, obsessive literary critic whose writing style tends toward long, discursive sentences and sophisticated vocabulary would find honest self-expression in a completely minimalist style?

Clearly not me, judging from how long it took me to get there.

It feels right for me to make minimalist cards. It might feel right for you to make minimalist cards or to make cards that could function as door-stops because they are so thick and heavily embellished. Or it might feel right for you to do a little bit of everything in between the two extremes, to play around and not commit to any one thing because you love it all. Or it might feel right for you not to make cards at all.

The message I hope I convey through Simplicity is that you should do what you want to do, what makes you happy, not what I do. I love that some people who read Simplicity don't make CAS cards. I also love that some people come here because they found someone who understands their own minimalist desire despite the industry push to buy more and use more product.

All options are on the table. What you serve up on your own plate should be food you love. Not what the person in front of you or behind you loves.

Aren't food metaphors yummy?

Tastes and styles can change over time because we change over time. Our inner light changes, our focus changes, our need to express ourselves changes. Sometimes, we get restless or bored doing the same thing over and over, and we want to shake things up. Sometimes, we need to quit one thing to move forward in another, like I quit science to take up English.

Sometimes, the direction forward is quite clear, a paved road well marked and smooth. I know people who walked away from hobbies they'd enjoyed for years and never looked back. Sometimes, though, we feel like we're facing a wall of tall trees and thick brush and have to blaze our own trail forward through it. It's intimidating, daunting, frightening.

And we think, "Isn't this just a hobby? Shouldn't it just be fun? Should it be this hard to figure out?"

If you're like me, the hard part is the fun part...a challenge, a windmill to joust. If you're like me, you are confident in your ability to rise to a challenge and have a never-say-never attitude. If you're like me, you've learned that not much in life should be taken seriously and knowledge of that fact takes a lot of the pressure off.

If you're like me, you might also need therapy because maintaining balance and sensibility when jousting with windmills is pretty darn hard.

And that's part of why I blog about stamping. It's my therapy. When I'm writing for others about stamping, in a sense, I'm accountable for my own balance. If I want you to come here to feel inspired, if I want to share my light and encourage your light, I'd better make darn sure my light is healthy and positive.

If I melted into a little puddle every time I got an unsubscribe email, would it be honest of me to encourage you to create what you want without worrying about what others think?


If I made cards just because I thought readers would like them, wouldn't I be a hypocrite?


Blogging can give us validation for our artistic voice. It can give us friends who share our interests even when no one in our real life does. It can allow us to connect with others in meaningful ways. But it can also keep us honest. We think about what we put out there for all the world to see, and if we're respectful of our audience (the first rule in writing...respect your audience!) and ourselves, we can make blogs that are good for us and for our readers. Everybody wins.

As I mentioned earlier in this beastly long post, we all change over time. Sometimes, to respect ourselves, we have to quit what isn't working for us, even if it's working for our readers. When that mile-high hedge of trees and bushes looms in front of us, sometimes we need to walk away rather than pull out our machete.

Joan quit Paperlicious for very good reasons of her own. Her readers were NOT happy about it for themselves, but we care about Joan and want her to be happy. When she started a new blog, lots of us followed her to it. I, for one, deeply appreciate her willingness to share her transition to her new life with a bunch of nosy strangers.

As long as I feel balanced and happy with stamping and blogging, I'll keep doing it. I'm glad you enjoy it (as you must if you've stuck with this essay until the end!), but if you ever stop enjoying it, if you ever stop feeling that it's useful to you, it won't hurt my feelings if you quit. I confess I might be a little sad, of course, and I will miss you, but I won't let my feelings hurt.

You have your own light to shine. I have mine. If our lights shine together for a while, well, that's just lovely, isn't it?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

This and That and a Card for You

Sue asked about the Hero Arts shadow set I used on my OLW96 card. It's from a set called Horizontal Graphics. I found an image of it HERE. Hero does occasionally re-release older images, and I'd love to see them re-release this set in CLEAR. I'd buy them again because when I use these as ground, as I am wont to do, I HAVE to use a stamp positioner. Clear would be more convenient.

Because I want my ground straight, not askew.

Isn't askew a fun word. Say it out loud. See? It's fun!

Do you always do what strangers on the internet tell you to do? If so, then wire me $1,000 so I can redecorate my craft space.

On another shadowy topic, A Muse has an oval shadow set in their catalog that makes lovely ground for little scenes. Can't find a link quickly, but it's there in the current catalog, so call or email a consultant if you are interested.  I bought two of their ovals in wood-mounted form shortly before they switched to a consultant-based business and offered a whole set of different-size unmounted ovals for less than I paid for just two in wood.

My timing is sometimes atrocious.

I am GIDDY with creative inspiration because of THIS BOOK I checked out at my public library. This is a treasure trove of graphic design beauty. I started putting scraps of paper between pages I liked and gave up when I realized that I was marking every page. Gonna buy this and keep it on my shelf for days when I need a creative boost. Check it out for yourself. Libraries are wonderful.

To the person who unsubscribed from Simplicity this morning, I say, "Blessings to you. Go in peace and happiness."

To those of you who choose to keep reading, I say, "I am ever so grateful to you. Thank you. Come again and often and may you always find peace and happiness and fun!"

Here's a card for you that shows how to turn a negative into a positive.

How's that for a design pun?

stamps: not a one
ink: well, not any
paper: PTI white
accessories: ah, here I can type something...burlap, ScorTape, half-pearls in chocolate brown, SU butterfly punch, dimensionals

Friday, July 13, 2012


I made a card that, well, disappointed me.

Here's what's wrong with it. It's crooked...and not crooked enough to be deliberate. See how the vellum slopes down to the right...just enough to look like a mistake. The crookedness, in and of itself, is unforgiveable. But the whole design feels unbalanced to me, too heavy on the right. That leaf. It's just doesn't work. Too...skeletal. Too...dead.

I'm really sorry if you like it. You're welcome to like it. It's a free internet, and you don't have to agree with me. Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.

But you're wrong.

I'm joking.

As far as you know.

Here's my do-over.

Here's what's right. This version is straight and tidy, with a cleaner frame of white space around the collage. It's much more balanced, too, with visual weight in the "sweet spot" and more pleasing asymmetry. You can see the message (the key to my heart...cliche, but hey, that key charm is adorable!) so much more clearly without that skeleton leaf. The three photo corners work much better than the two in the first version (visual triangle), and the piece of vellum has a more natural feel than the other, more botanical, less flourished and texty.


That's a word.

In my universe.

Welcome to my universe. A universe where collage is attempted, but often results in a do-over.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

OLW96: Birthday Blings

Sorry for the late time of this posting! Circumstances beyond my control and such. I'm sure you understand. Thanks for your patience!

This week's OLW is to make a birthday card with LOTS of bling. Your bling may be rhinestones or glitter or other shiny things!

Here's my card, which uses a discontinued Hero Arts shadow stamp. Hero seriously needs to bring this set back in clear. Seriously! Are you listening, Hero? PEOPLE WILL BUY IT!!!!

OLW96 Rules

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single layer of card stock folded in half. No other layers of card stock allowed.

2. Make a blinged-out birthday card. Bling may be glitter, rhinestones, or other shiny things.

3. Post your card online somewhere and link back to it using the InLinkz tool on the sidebar of Simplicity. If posting to your blog, please link to your OLW blog post, not just the main page of your blog.


stamps: Hero Arts (shadow), Papertrey (sentiment Birthday Basics)
paper: PTI white
ink: Memento
accessories: rhinestones

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

News on the OLW...and a Mess of My Own Making

First the news. Sadly, Jennifer Styles has to step down as a host of the OLW challenges. I am going to miss her enormously as her support and encouragement kept the OLW going when I was ready to give up on it. But she has a job that is taking her time away from stamping, and so I will post her last challenge here on Simplicity tomorrow (Thursday).

Second, I made a mess in my stamp area. Perhaps you can relate.

We'll be dealing with the rather appalling collage card in the center of the picture tomorrow, when I make it over into something that looks like I actually made it. (You can see even in this picture how crooked the vellum piece is on the card. Egads.)

But first of all notice the stained washcloth in the front center of the photo. That's freshly laundered and waiting to be put in a drawer where I keep my stamp-cleaning cloths.

I clean my inky stamps (as I work) with a dampened washcloth kept in a travel case for baby wipes (on the right of the photo). Behind that is my official Stamp Cleaning pad that I spritz with Ultra Clean (or whatever the stamp cleaner that PTI sells is called). That doesn't get used often because mostly the cheapo Target washcloths and water do a fine job.

Just don't close the travel case completely when a wet washcloth is in it. The sour smell makes me sick. If the case is left as it is in photo (the washcloth holds the lid up ever so slightly), the cloth will just slowly dry out over a couple of days with no unpleasant smell.

Before I embarked on the ill-fated collage card, I pulled out a gorgeous piece of printed vellum that I have owned--and I'm not kidding--for ten years. It's my last piece of this particular paper. How SAD! Every now and then, I pull it out just to look at it and decide it's too pretty to cut. Last year, I actually punched some butterflies out of it, and it hurt me to do so.

On this occasion, I decided I was being perfectly silly and resolved to use the pretty thing. So I made these, which you can see shoved to the left side in the picture of the mess.

I love the luminous quality of the yellowish, antiqued vellum on crisp white. Buried in the detritus of the picture are two L-shaped pieces of card stock that I used to find attractive sections of the vellum. Put the Ls at opposite corners to form a rectangle, and slide them around until you get something that looks interesting. It's a trick I picked up cropping photos back in my scrapping days.

Once the Ls were positioned, I used my quilting ruler to measure and then cut a slightly larger piece of the vellum so I could tape the extra to the underside of the window.

I cut the windows using my quilting ruler (in the forward left section of the photo) and a craft knife.

The paper is so appealing and contains words so that any stamping on the frames would just distract. I've now used up almost all the vellum and feel VERY happy that it's been put to good use.

What can you find in your stash that you've been unhealthily hoarding? Pull it out and use it!!!!!

It feels good!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ducky, and Multiple Requests for Advice

Warning: this is a needy post.

First of all, can someone please tell me what the heck is going on with Blogger? Every time my blogs load, they're missing the tool bar at the top of the page...it's just blank. For those of you bloggers out there, I'm talking about the tool bar that has the "New Post" link. Then, I refresh the page, and the tool bar magically appears. Huh?

And while nice people are explaining stuff to me, what about the fact that there is no rhyme or reason to staying logged in at various websites after you've shut your computer down at night? Sometimes, when I turn my laptop on in the morning, I am still logged in at Facebook (even when I've forgotten to click the "stay logged in" button), but the next tme, when I have clicked the "stay logged in" button, I'm not logged in. Same goes for Splitcoast and Pinterest. Google Reader, on the other hand, always needs both the username and password every single blessed day. Google, please give us a "stay logged in" button!

Could it have anything to do with Norton Anti-Virus clearing tracking cookies? Or is that a stupid question?

I'm sorry. But I just want to know if anyone knows the answers to these mysteries.

On to stamping-related annoyance. Has anyone had a punch break? I mean, the actual metal part of the punch, not the plastic parts. I've had three or four plastic parts break...no biggie because you sorta expect plastic to eventually wear out. But my holly punch broke on the metal part. ARRRGGGHHH. It's my favorite holiday punch, and I've had it for at least ten years.

I found it at an online vendor I've never ordered from: Stuff 4 Scrapbooking. Anyone have experience with these folks? Please do tell.
Anyway,  you're here for a card, and other than these weird internet issues and a broken favorite punch, I'm feeling just ducky and hope you are, too.

Note there is no mat today. I think the white border on the stamped panel substitutes for a mat. You get three layers for the cost of two!

Just two layers. It feels almost normal for me. Except for the kraft. Tomorrow, we're back to white. I promise.

stamps: PTI On the Farm
ink: Memento
paper: PTI kraft and white
accessories: dimensionals

Monday, July 9, 2012


I KNOW!!!! Shocking, but true. THREE layers.

PTI Vintage cream base, SU close to cocoa mat, and PTI white stamped layer. I tried to make it without the mat but it just looked weird. The twine is also from PTI. Because of the somewhat lumpy knot, I didn't pop any of the layers with dimensionals.

I rather like the soft, rustic stamped frame and the blotchy horse with the frayed twine...and everything else nice and crisp and clean. This is how obsessive compulsive stampers do cowboy.

Works for me!

And yes, I used a white eraser on the horse in hopes of getting better images in the future. It worked.

So tell the interwebs all about a time you didn't at first succeed and had to saddle up again. I have had several job hunts that felt like that, and of course there was the whole organic chemistry debacle my freshman year at Duke. I decided to saddle up a completely different horse and majored in English instead. And there was also my search-for-my-personal-stamping-style that forced me to saddle up repeatedly for about seven years.

An apropos sentiment for my life. How about yours? The best story gets the card!

stamps: PTI On the Farm
ink: Memento
paper: PTI, SU
accessories: twine, glue dot

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Text and Livestock

I wish I could trace the thought process that brought these cards to life, but it's gone. I'm just really, really glad I thought of it.

See? Curse me all you want, but this country rustic set can be modern fun!

Hope you had a great weekend. I sure did. Got all crafty and made a bunch of cards, including about a dozen Christmas cards. I decided to get brave and submit some of this weekend's work for publication. Will keep you posted.

What craftiness did you get up to this weekend?

stamps: various alphabets, PTI On the Farm
ink: Memento
paper: PTI white
accessories: gridded acrylic blocks

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Okay. I'm as subject to the power of consumer influence as the next stamper, but when a friend sends me a card like this, can you blame me?

Made by Linda, just photographed by me

Linda sent this sweet card (oh how I love the one-layeredness of it!...and check out the three red stamps forming such a balanced, stable design!), so of course I had to order On the Farm from Papertrey...the set she used to make it.

Because, you know, I am weak that way.

And of course the first thing I did when I got the set was try to make the simplest card I could with it.

Because if it's good for the goose....

And then another card.

I've got something to strut about....
And another card..

A whole bo-coop of merci....

Oh what a fun set! I'll be showing more cards with On the Farm in coming days. Cards that will blow your mind because I USED LAYERS!

Well, a few, at least.

And now a couple of replies to comments...

Colorado Crafter said she couldn't get more than four of the new Memento inks at Michael's. Well, that's all I found at Michael's, too. I ordered the rest from Creative Play Stamps. Love their speed and that they always throw in a little freebie gift. I got a sponge dauber with my ink order!

Joyce across the pond, I'm so sorry for your flooding. Your flooding, our drought, fires all over the U.S....sounds like Mother Nature is seriously PMSing with us.

stamps: Papertrey
ink: Memento
paper: white PTI
accessories: nary a one

Friday, July 6, 2012

More Butterflies

Here's another effort in restocking my stash. Not only have I run out of sympathy cards, but I'm down to just a few thank you cards. Fortunately, I send many more thank you notes than sympathy cards, and thank yous are much easier to make.

This one is sort of a modernist, minimalist riff on naturalist, artsy insect prints, sort of like THIS.

Maybe I'm riffin' in my dreams, though. Oh well. I like my version. It looks like I made it (even though the stamps are by Papertrey!).

Once again, I'm loving Memento's three shades of orange. I looked at Hero Arts' inks, which use the three-shade idea, which is quite brilliant. Sadly, the Hero Hues only come in full-size pads for $6.99 each. To get them all would cost more than I care to pay (considering how many ink pads I already have...oy!), plus I don't have anywhere to put them all. Perhaps I'll fill in some gaps in Memento's colors with them, though. Or is that really necessary and just my caving to our consumerist culture when really I should be perfectly happy with the gazillion inkpads I already have?

Oh, the first-world problems I have! Don't you feel sorry for me?

stamps: PTI Beautiful Butterflies
ink: Memento
paper: PTI white
accessories: rhinestones

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sympathy with Lace

First of all, mucho thanks to those of you who commented on yesterday's post. That was fun!

Today's card isn't much fun at all (though it is pretty), but I find that it's easier to make sympathy cards to stash for future need rather than to make cards when they are needed. I've used up my stash and know that eventually, I'll need more.

I wish I could share the design evolution of this card with you, but it sorta just happened. Before I added the lace, it looked too cold. Lace, of course, is pretty, old fashioned, warm (even when white), and comforting.

Attaching the lace took two strips of Scor-Tape...one 1/8" and one 1/4" strip. The 1/8" strip is right next to the fold of the card (this is a side-fold), and the 1/4" strip is under the denser part of the lace. I cut the piece of lace a little longer than needed and trimmed it flush once it was on the card. It's surprisingly sturdy.

I like how this card demonstrates how even a single little image can carry a card.

What's your plan for sympathy cards: make them as needed or create a stash when you're feeling good? I do sometimes feel the need to customize a sympathy card (as with the quilt card for my friend Karen's family), but generally, nothing comes to me except simple flowers or butterflies.

stamps: PTI Beautiful Butterflies
ink: Memento
paper: PTI white
accessories: lace, Scor-Tape.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Man Who Put Me in a Food Coma

I love my husband. He cooks. He loves to cook. He wishes he were an Iron Chef. So when food-centric holidays roll around, he gets his apron on and cooks. For Independence Day, he made the following:

  1. smoked baby-back pork ribs
  2. spice-rubbed and smoked baby-back pork ribs
  3. spice-rubbed (different spices) and smoked beef ribs
  4. three-cheese macaroni and cheese
  5. coleslaw

I made a peach cobbler because he ran out of time.

And now that we have eaten, I am in pain. So much pain. And I didn't touch the beef ribs because they were really fatty, and I didn't put ice cream on my cobbler because I'm from North Carolina and it's a sin in North Carolina to put ice cream on cobbler or apple pie.

At least it was in my family. And no one I was allowed to associate with put ice cream on their dessert either, except the Yankees who were lucky enough to live in the South and who, bless their hearts, didn't know better.

George puts ice cream on almost every dessert he eats.

It's a good thing I'm tolerant of sinners. And Yankees.

So why is it that I want to give him this card right now and not as a surprise in his lunch box next week?

I have no idea.

What did you eat Wednesday? Share your menu even if you're not American and didn't celebrate the birth of your nation by eating meat grilled on open flame, as we Americans are wont to do.

stamps: PTI Trendy Tree Tops
ink: Memento
paper: PTI
accessories: Scor-Pal

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

OLW95: Stars and Stripes

This week's One-Layer Wednesday Challenge is to make a one-layer card with at least one star and one stripe. Obviously, this week's challenge is in honor of Independence Day in the United States, but feel free to make a card of any theme you want.

I stuck with the holiday theme because I'm American and so gosh darn proud of it!

OLW95 Rules
1. A one-layer card is defined as a piece of card stock folded in half...no other layers allowed.

2. Make a card with at least one star and one stripe. Keep embellishments to a minimum.

3. Upload your card somewhere on the interwebs, and link back to it using the InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity. Remember, if you're linking to your blog, link directly to your OLW post...not to your blog's homepage.


stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Memento
paper: PTI
accessories: rhinestones

Monday, July 2, 2012

OLW...It's All about the Size

This is my second post today. To see my tutorial on exact placement of a grid, please scroll down.

I'm finally able to post my OLW challenge card for this week. Cheryl is the host, and she challenged us to make a card that isn't A2 size.

I decided to make a 3" x 5" card, in honor of all the index cards I used in school for Spanish and Italian and Latin flash cards. (Yes, I'm just literate enough to be ignorant in three languages... four, if you count Old English, but most people don't.)

Of course, my card looks nothing like a student's study aid. I never blinged my flash cards.

What a fun challenge! If you haven't already, join in on Cheryl's blog before midnight Tuesday, and then check back here on Wednesday because it's my turn again!

stamps: Papertrey Trendy Tree Tops
ink: Memento
paper: PTI white
accessories: rhinestone, corner rounder

Lining Stuff Up with a Gridded Acrylic Block

For the visual learners out there, here's a tutorial on creating a 3 x 3 grid with a lined acrylic block.

This tutorial will show you how to line up a shape that isn't a circle or square. Circles and squares are actually much easier because all of your aligning can happen using the intersections of horizontal and veritcal lines on the block. This butterfly is a rectangle (wider than it is high), so we'll have to do a bit of tweaking to get the spacing right.

1. Place your image in the exact center of the block, both horizontally and vertically. This block has a small circle marked in the center to help locate it. Ink the image, and stamp the central image of the grid. Notice how the vertical lines just inside the right and left edges of the paper are parallel to the edges and have roughly the same amount of blue paper extending beyond. That's how you can center without a ruler.

2. Ink the image again, and stamp below the first image. Notice the grid line that goes through the center of the butterfly stamp aligns with the first image I stamped. The bottom of the wings are lined up on the horizontal line just above the stamp. Remember that.

3. Now stamp above the central butterfly, this time aligning the centers of the butterflies with the central vertical line and the top of the first stamped butterfly with the horizontal line below the stamp.

4. Now move to the right column. Here's where it gets a little tricky because the alignment won't be the same horizontally as it was vertically since we're dealing with a shape wider than it is high. If we lined the grid up with the far left edge of the wings of the central column, the right column would end up too close and the whole grid would look off balance.

Look for a point on the central stamped image that you can align with a vertical line on the block. In this case, I took the left edge of the tail of the wing as my alignment point. See how the three stamped butterflies all rest on that second vertical line to the left of the actual stamp? Just make sure the horizontal line at the center of the butterfly also aligns with the center of the already-stamped butterfly as well.

5. Now repeat above and below, using the vertical and horizontal lines to guide your stamping.

6. Do the same thing to the left column of butterflies.

7. And so on.

8. And now you have a grid that looks fairly balanced! It's funny how the photo shows the left column slightly closer to the center column than is the right column. In real life, that minor difference doesn't show at all. Weird.

9. I like to line up sentiments on the center line of the acrylic block as well.

10. Stamp the sentiment on the edge of a piece of scrap paper to test it. Some sentiments use fonts that fool your eye into thinking they are straight on the block when they are not. Notice how the white line below the sentiment is completely parallel to the edge of the paper.

11. This is mostly straight...good enough for handmade, at least.

13. Line it up on the paper and stamp as you did the very first butterfly on the grid. Check out the vertical lines just inside the edges of the paper. Again, I am a little off (although it looks perfectly fine in real life).

14. No matter. The end result is fabulous.

I hope this helps! You should also know that I messed up the first attempt and had to start over. These things happen.

It's only paper, and we are not machines!!!!

P.S. What if you have a wood-mounted stamp and want to create a grid? That works best when you use a ruler and put pencil dots on the paper where each image should go, and then use a stamp positioner to place the images precisely. This is time-consuming and persnickity, and I wouldn't even try it with an image that wasn't a circle or a square so the spacing is completely even.