Sunday, May 31, 2015

Howdy, Placement, and Geometry

First of all, a big howdy to the new subscribers who found Simplicity via Operation Write Home! I'm so grateful you're reading and hope you find plenty here that is useful, encouraging, and occasionally funny.

Sometimes, I'm even funny on purpose! By the way, if the pear jokes confuse you, you might want to check out THIS POST for context.

Anyway, welcome!

Today's post is a design lesson on placement and visual triangles, with before and after cards to illustrate the point.

First, I'm using a new Hero Arts set, Stamp Your Own Cactus, which I purchased because my in-laws live in western Colorado and it might come in handy for cards for them. It's been a fun set to play around with. I particularly like the combination of block and outline stamps.

The saguaro is just adorable, so I stamped it simply in Fresh Ink Mojito and proceeded to embellish the layout with a triangle of flowers stamped in Fresh Ink Harvest.

GACK!!!!! WHAT NOT TO DO!!!!!!

My thinking--erroneous as it turned out--was to integrate the sentiment into the design better by placing the third flower down below it. As soon as I stamped it, I knew I'd made a horrible mistake.

Can you spot the problem?

Both flowers on the right align with the y-axis of the card. They form a straight vertical line...which results in a pretty awkward design, does it not?

Of course it does. In this design, only the trunk of the cactus needs to be purely vertical. It's so thick and centered and heavy, the other design elements need to create some tension to break the symmetry of it. Note that the stamp designer put the arms on the cactus asymmetrically. She/he did that on purpose.

So I tried again. This time, the triangle is irregularly placed, and not one side of it aligns with either the x-axis or y-axis of the card.


Doesn't that look so much better? Nice, solid, unified. Makes you want to sit up and say, "Howdy!"

Like a good CAS design should.

So don't be upset if you place things awkwardly on a card the first time. Just learn from the mistake, make it right, and move on. After all, it's only paper.

stamps: Hero Arts Stamp Your Own Cactus
ink: Fresh Ink mojito and harvest, Memento espresso truffle
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: tiny little rhinestones

Friday, May 29, 2015

Soft Pool and News

Today's card made me very happy that I bought Soft Pool ink from Hero Arts.

*happy little sigh*

The dandelion stamps in Gina K's Sun-Kissed Autumn are lovely, but they don't have much visual weight when stamped in soft colors...they actually look a little wimpy. It dawned on me that stamping the dandelion in black over a large circle of a soft color might work better...and it does!

The circle of soft pool is echoed in the border of pool polka dots (not too small, not too big, just right!) and by the soft aqua pearl accent. The black sentiment has an exclamation point, the shape of which mimics the points of the dandelion, further enhancing unity.

That particular shade of blue just makes me so happy!

Now for the news...I am the Featured Friday Card Maker at Operation Write Home this week! I'm so honored that Sandy asked me, and I hope you'll click on over and take a look.

Have a great weekend!

stamps: Gina K Sun-Kissed Autumn, old wood-mount circle stamp, Papertrey Polka Dot Basics
ink: Hero Arts soft pool, Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: half pearl, dimensionals, corner rounder

Thursday, May 28, 2015


The row-of-trees stamp in the Gina K Sun-Kissed Autumn set is so much fun! Y'all know my coloring skills are iffy...sometimes I surprise myself (like here) and sometimes I laugh at myself. After two attempts to color the trees with Copics and laughing at myself, I decided to try something different. Spotlighting popped into my head.

First, I stamped the trees in Kaleidacolor ink (cappuccino) for that lovely spectrum effect. Then, I cut a mask out of copy paper, removing just one tree's insides with a craft knife.

Adding sponged ink through the mask was fun. I debated how grainy to leave the ink (the more ink you put down, the smoother the ink looks) but finally decided the grainy texture worked fine.

And I added the bling because the design needed a little shine.

I haven't given up on coloring these trees...but I'm happy I tried spotlighting them!

stamps: Gina K Sun-Kissed Autumn
ink: Kaleidacolor, Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: sponge, rhinestones, copy paper, craft knife

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


The design principle of repetition is extremely useful in kicking a design up a notch. Today's card was made with a two-flower stamp from Gina K's Sun-Kissed Autumn set, stamped repeatedly for added interest. One image is bright and colorful; the others are subtle and soft. Note that this is a great way actually to use those super-pale ink colors you have lying around.

First, I stamped the flowers in Hero Arts Raspberry Jam, and then I filled in around the focal point stems using the same stamp inked with Memento Angel Pink, which is a super-light pink. The sentiment uses Memento Luxe Tuxedo Black for its richness.

Light pink bling--repeated--completes the design, because, you know, BLING! (And I have lots of light pink bling stashed away and in need of being used, too.)

The bottom right corner is rounded for a bit of added interest as well.

And that's all I have to say about that.

stamps: Gina K Sun-Kissed Autumn, Papertrey Keep It Simple Thinking of You
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Memento, Hero Arts, Memento Luxe
accessories: corner rounder, rhinestones

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sunshine and Coloring

The stamp set Sun-Kissed Autumn by Gina K is gorgeous...full of all sorts of goodness. Y'all know that I can't put away new sets until I use every image in them, so for the past few days, I've been working my way through the set, but I started with the most atypical image for me...a person.

You may or may not have noticed the complete lack of people in my stamping, and there's a reason for that. But this lady holding a sun balloon is shown from the back (no face to color, so yay!) and she's extremely stylized. So I took a stab at it and rather like the results!

A few things to note....

First, aqua and orange are opposites on the color wheel and therefore make a very kicky color combination.

Second, our lady needs something to stand on...people floating around on cards look weird. So I gave her some sand to "ground" her.

Third, I don't have enough shades of brown in Copics/Sharpies/Bics to do anything interesting to shade her hair. Must go shopping.

Fourth, the sun's alcohol ink feathered ever so slightly outside the lines because I put too much color right on the edge. Don't do that.

Fifth, this mistake doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would. George won't even notice, I'm sure, although he will notice that I'm nowhere near as skinny as this chica is!

Sixth, Gina K's 120# white deluxe card stock won't let alcohol markers bleed through, so it's perfect for one-layer cards you want to color! It's extra-thick, though, and will sometimes crinkle on the fold, even if you score it. I used my Scor-Pal with a Teflon "bone" folder to repeatedly score the card, and then I used a butter knife repeatedly to break down the fibers even more. You can see the results are still a bit crackly, but it is better!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

stamps: Gina K Sun-Kissed Autumn
ink: Memento black
paper: Gina K 120# white Deluxe
accessories: alcohol markers

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day

In the United States, we honor and remember all those who have died in service to our country on Memorial Day. It's not about barbeque or fireworks or a day off from work and school. It's about not forgetting that every day we wake up to freedom because others--men and women from centuries ago and from yesterday--fought for that freedom...and gave their lives for us.

No card today, but please take a few moments to think about and appreciate those who gave their all in the cause of freedom, not just in the United States, but throughout the world. Freedom isn't free...anywhere.

I will not forget. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Butterfly Sympathy

Making sympathy cards is never easy, and I--like so many of you--prefer making them when I don't need them, keeping a variety of cards ready. It's hard to generate much creative enthusiasm when your heart is hurting.

When I was in my teens, my mom took me to the Hallmark store to buy a sympathy card for a friend. As I looked over the cards, mom told me to find something with just a few words and soft images. When, years later, I received a sympathy card that looked like a child's birthday card with a sympathy sentiment stuck on it, the truth of mom's advice hit me. (Moms are always right, aren't they?)

Now that I make my own cards, I try to use soft colors and simple statements of sympathy. The sentiment from Papertrey's Beautiful Butterflies is perfect not just for sympathy but for any "difficult time" someone might be experiencing. It works inside the card as well as on the front, too.

I always keep my handwritten comments inside as simple and short as possible, avoiding the empty platitudes or upsetting phrases that can add to people's suffering. As a Stephen Minister, I can assure you that saying "it was God's will" or "she's in a better place" is NOT helpful. Ever. Let the grieving persons come to these conclusions on their own, and then affirm them if/when they do. But don't be the first to say them. Fact is, there are NO words that really help, unless you can share a positive memory of the deceased. The blessing of a sympathy card is that you let the grieving know you are thinking of them, acknowledge and share their grief, and offer kindness and support.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

The colors here are Brilliance platinum planet, pearlescent beige, and pearlescent chocolate. I love how the curly antennae mimics the flourishes of the sentiment, and how the focal point is a stable triangle. Chocolate is softer than black would have been, but it's dark enough to anchor the design and create a very strong focal point. It's hard for your eye to move to the border, isn't it?

That shimmer works so well for butterflies!

So why create the border in the first place? Well, my thinking behind this card is that our loved ones leave this earth alone, but they go to join the saints who've gone before. (In the Methodist and other protestant traditions, all who go to God are saints.) The background here, shown only as a narrow border, represents those we see again, the hope of heaven and reunion, and butterflies are such a lovely representation of death and resurrection.

Maybe I'm being too English major about this, but it works for me.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Do you have any rules you follow while making sympathy cards? Have you ever received one that was particularly comforting or particularly hurtful?

stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Butterflies, Papertrey Beautiful Butterflies
ink: Brilliance
paper: Papertrey
accessories: corner rounder, dimensionals

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Vellum Feather Fun

Here's the first card I made using the feather die cuts sent to me by Sonya. YAY! Thank you again, Sonya, for your generosity!

I love the translucence of the vellum and how the two feathers provide a border for the gorgeous sentiment (one of my favorites!). Who doesn't love Emily Dickinson?

stamps: Waltzingmouse Fine Feathers
ink: Memento Luxe black, Memento Bahama blue
paper: Papertrey
accessories: die cuts (Waltzingmouse, courtesy of Sonya), dimensionals, vellum tape, corner rounder

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kindness and Generosity

Recently, reader Sonya sent me an email asking for my snail mail address because she wanted to send me die cuts of the Waltzingmouse set Fine Feathers. She knew I had the set but didn't have a die cut machine. What a kind and generous offer!

Beautiful Card by Sonya!

I certainly did smile when I opened this Canadian envelope full of goodness: a beautiful CAS card and several dozen feathers cut from white card stock and white vellum! Don't you just love that iridescent butterfly!?!

Sonya's generosity delighted me...and reminds me how truly blessed I am in my readers. Y'all are the best.

Thank you, Sonya, for making my day!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Using My Hoard: Watercolor Crayons

Note: Reader Amy asked about how I organize my inks. I did a post HERE on the subject, but I've changed inks quite a bit since then. I'll take some pictures and do another post in the next few days to show the updated hoard, but the gist of the system is covered on that previous post.

Some products in the Use-My-Hoard challenge are no-brainers. While I might not use watercolor crayons all that often, they are delightful, easy, and a bit unpredictable. In other words, watercolor crayons are FUN!!!

To use watercolor crayons, you simply color them onto a clean, dry stamp, starting with the lightest color and moving to the darkest, then spritz with water (2-3 sprays with a mister will usually work), and let the stamp sit wet for a few seconds as the pigments dissolve. Stamp the image onto heavy card stock or watercolor paper. (I use Papertrey white, and it doesn't buckle.) Depending on the color saturation, sometimes you can mist the stamp again and get another good impression, though slightly lighter than the first.

There's Wink of Stella on the flowers, though it's hard to see even in the close-up. I used a light hand since adding a liquid to watercolor crayons can make them run or smear. Be careful to let the watercolor dry before adding anything over it.

Two Variations with Watercolor Crayons
  1. Shade as I did above with a light and dark shade of the same color. (I used two shades of pink and two shades of green.) No need to be terribly precise, either. It adds some depth to the image.
  2. Spritz with Glimmer Mist instead of water for a shimmery finish.
And that's all I have to say about that.

stamps: SU, Clear and Simple Stamps (sentiment)
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey White
accessories: watercolor crayons, dimensionals, silver metallic marker, clear Wink of Stella pen

Monday, May 18, 2015

More Butterflies

Let me apologize now to any of you who are sick of butterflies. I know the feeling of disgust over-familiarity can breed. I feel the same way about the color brown. But butterflies are so pretty, so colorful, so delicate and helpless and symbolic.

The world can't have too many butterflies. So for today's cards, I created borders using lots butterflies.

Up first is a study in warm colors...Hero Arts rust and Ancient Page henna combine with the layered stamping for warmth and richness. The sentiment is stamped in Memento cocoa. The border line is metallic copper ink. Rather than stamping the butterfly bodies, I put a single large dark-red pearl in the center. This keeps the design cleaner. And I like how the butterflies are beside the sentiment as if they really are flitting by!

Next, we have cooler blues (Hero Arts cornflower and Memento Danube blue), combined with silver metallic ink and silver half beads. The sentiment is stamped in Memento tuxedo black. These butterflies are heading up like a happy thought!

This stamp set--Hero Arts Color Layering Butterflies--has been a delight to work with. I'd really been wanting to play with combining colors, and my experiments yielded lots of scrap paper with some weird and wacky color combos, some that looked okay, and some that were amazing! This play proved to me once and for all that we stampers truly can never, ever, never have too many colors of ink.

It also proved that organizing stamps by type (dye vs. pigment) and then by color, rather than by vendor, is useful. Note that each of today's cards uses ink from multiple vendors, but the colors work so very well together.


stamps: Hero Arts, Gina K (thinking of you sentiment)
paper: Papertrey white
ink: various
accessories: half pearls, half beads, silver and copper metallic markers

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Butterfly on the Edge

Y'all know I don't do fancy cutting. It's too hard. My fingers hurt. I might cut myself. Mars is in ascension. Life's too short....

But every now and then, a project is so simple that a little careful knife work with an exact-o doesn't bother me.

A close-up, angled picture.

This sort of cut--smooth, not too big, no notches or weirdness--is easy to do with a craft knife and quilting ruler. And it adds interest to an otherwise very simple card.

So YAY!!!!

By the way, is Mars in ascension? What does that even mean?

Never mind. It's not important.

stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Butterflies
ink: Hero Arts ultra pink, Ancient Page amethyst
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, gemstone, craft knife, quilting ruler

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Goldilocks of Stamp Sets

First up, let me share my last two orders with you. These used the last of my Christmas cash, and I must say it's been fun going on a wild spending spree in May.

From Impress Rubber Stamps. Yes, that's a Tim Holtz set. In case
you didn't know, I love coffee. That's also my first Mama Elephant set.

From Gina K. The order qualified for their incentive program,
so I got the dimensionals and canvas stickers for free.
The paper is 120# white, and I picked up another long, narrow
gridded acrylic block for convenience sake. That stamp set
is gin-ormous! Lots of goodness!

It'll likely be a while before I buy anything else. After all, I have to use all the stamps before putting them away, and with the earlier orders from Ellen Hutson, that's a LOT of stamps!

Now, today's cards. The first set I played with was Color Layering Butterflies from Hero Arts. You can catch a peek of it in this picture:

To my knowledge (which is incomplete and entirely unreliable), this is the first release for which Hero Arts has multi-step stamp sets. Generally speaking, I avoid this sort of set because lining things up perfectly, even with clear sets, can be tough, and y'all know how I like perfect. But I threw this set into the order to give it a try, and I'm so glad I did!

The set is sort of forgiving...things can be a little off but not really noticeable. And I had a BLAST playing with all my colorful inks to come up with color combinations that would work. I found, however, that for my style, using all three layers for the butterflies resulted in a pretty--but busy--image. The butterfly below was stamped with Hero Arts mint julep, tide pool, and ocean.

Too Much!!!
So next I just used the base layer for the same layout. I like it much better, but it's not really enough.

Too Little!!!
So I made a third card, and it's just right!

Just Right
This card, made with Hero Arts fresh peach and red royal, leaves out the middle layer stamp. It has interesting detail but isn't too busy for my style. Yay!

This large butterfly stamp trio allows for flexibility. The solid base stamp could stand alone with a spritz of water or Glimmer Mist, stamped in Kaleidacolor ink or using a rock-and-roll technique, or  colored with watercolor crayon.... Lots of options. I'm also going to experiment with just using the top detail stamp as well.

The smaller butterfly trio in the set turned out a little differently, but more on that in a later post.

Anyway, I'm definitely happy I bought this set. We'll see if I feel that way about all the sets I just splurged on.

Only time will tell if they're all "just right."

stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Butterflies
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: none

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Couple of Orders and a Cheap Light Box

Recently, it occurred to me that I hadn't spent all my Christmas craft money yet, so I went a bit crazy.

These are just two of the orders, both from Ellen Hutson. Gina K and Impress Rubber Stamps both shipped orders for me today. Yay!

I plan on having fun...assuming I will ever again have time to sit in my craft space and make something. Things have been just a little crazy around here. Not bad, just crazy.

A few months ago, I got fed up with taking pictures with four pieces of card stock propped against each other as backdrops, so I cobbled together a virtually no-cost light box. It's working pretty well for shooting cards. The photos require less photo editing because the light is better.

A cardboard box with one side cut away serves as the base for my light box, which is lined with smooth Bristol board paper that I had lying around, although I would have preferred to use lighter-weight paper. The top is ordinary white tissue paper that softens and filters the light pretty well. Everything is held together with masking tape, but I used some left-over carpet tape to secure the draped sheet that curves from the top-back of the box to the bottom-front.

The light is provided by two desk Ott lamps positioned on either side.

I'm NOT a professional!!! But, this nearly-free box is easier to use and gives better results in my opinion than my previous method of creating a temporary "box" of four sheets of card stock propped against each other.

If you just play around, you could easily make your own version. When I find some good, white wrapping paper, I'm going to replace the Bristol board, which isn't quite as white as I'd like.

But it's good enough for government work, as my husband says.

Random Funny Story: Years ago, when my husband was stationed in Wichita, Kansas, we stepped out of a Barnes and Noble to see a pair of teenage boys cruising the parking lot. One hung out the window, saw me, and shouted, "Book-worm bitch!"

I cannot make this stuff up. Book-worm bitch. My husband and I cracked up.

Today, my book club considered naming our group Book-Worm Bitches. But we're not bitches, so we decided not to. When I told George, he said, "Just call it Book-Worm Babes." I'll propose that when we re-convene in September.

You'll sleep better tonight knowing this.

Or not.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The End of the Line

If you're a long-time reader of Simplicity, you know I love pulling elements from advertising and package design into card design, and one of my favorite elements is lines. When designing with lines, precision of placement is very, very important, as I discovered trying to make a simple Christmas thank-you card yesterday.

My first effort has a few things going for it...everything is straight and stamped cleanly, but the sentiment placement just doesn't work. My plan was to line up the end of thank you with the end of the line as a way of putting the line and sentiment into some sense of unity, while the tail of the final s in Christmas would lead the eye to the inside of the card, but the attempt fell flat. My eye, at least, just stops dead at the end of the line.

Fortunately, it was an easy fix. Relocating the sentiment increases unity and helps the eye keep moving past the line.

There's almost a sense of movement here as the line "pushes" the sentiment into white space...much more dynamic and interesting.

And that's how you get to the end of the line...only to find yourself one happy stamper!

stamps: Papertrey Faux Ribbon, Signature Christmas
ink: Fresh Ink mojito, VersaMagic rocket red
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: acrylic block with grid

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day, and a Little UYH

If you are a mother--through birth, adoption, or spirit--Happy Mother's Day. My day included reading aloud the longest passage ever in the history of liturgy during our worship service; receiving a card, chocolates, and flowers from my boys; taking the dog on a family walk around the neighborhood; eating scallops expertly prepared by my husband who had successfully beaten his personal record at a local sprint triathlon; placing an order (the fourth in two days) for new stampy stuff; and actually stamping some cool stuff with watercolor crayons.

Successful day all around. There weren't even any hard words in the Bible passage I read, despite its being so long. Yay!!!

By the way, if you ever want to know how to pronounce hard words in the Bible like Epaphroditus or Syntyche, don't go to Wikipedia. Their pronunciation symbols are designed for people with PhDs in linguistics..."Say what?!?" Instead google "how to pronounce Epaphroditus..." or whatever. Several websites pop up that provide audio clips of those hard-to-pronounce people, places, and things. For free. Yay!

Yes, you heard right...I've ordered quite a lot of stuff in the past few days. Mostly stamps, ink, and enamel dots, and a new stash of Gina K 120# white card stock for making one-layer cards colored with Copics/Bics/Sharpies. I predict much playing in my near future. This little spending spree should keep me happy until Christmas...or July. Whichever comes first.

And now for today's card, which uses one of the Tim Holtz background stamps I bought last week at Marco's. I can't imagine Tim ever making a card that looks this clean, though. Can you?

Of course not. This has LateBlossom written all over it. But I love the dot background because the dots are so close together. No ribbon needed to demark the line between background and white space. Yay!

This card also allowed me to Use My Hoard (remember the Use-Your-Hoard Challenge?). The circle and scalloped circle punches hadn't been used in forever. I have been off and on wondering about getting rid of all those scalloped punches that were ever-so-popular a few years back. This card disabused me of the notion.

So, how are you doing on your personal UYH Challenge? What sort of things have you tried and loved, and what have you tried and realized it was time to say bu-bye? Or have you forgotten all about the UYH? If so, hop to it!

But only if you want to. I'm certainly not the boss of you.

stamps: Tim Holtz, Dare 2B Artzy
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: circle and scalloped circle punches, dimensionals, rhinestones

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Branching Out, and Inspiration from Lynn Mangan

So I stopped by Marco's Paper the other day to buy envelopes. Marco's has lots of artsy stamps, including what appears to be the entire line of Tim Holtz stamps from Stampers Anonymous. These background stamps caught my eye.

Yep. I bought Tim Holtz stamps! Me! LateBlossom!

Actually, though, these two backgrounds are not too much a stretch for my kind of CAS, un-distressed cards, so really, I'm not branching out very far, am I?

Just wait 'til you see what I ordered today! *wink*

Anyway, the reverse image stamp in the pair had a lot of flat rubber to ink, so before using it, I rubbed it firmly with a white eraser and cleaned it thoroughly. This conditioning helps the ink spread nicely on the rubber without beading and blotching.


Big background stamps are perfect for creating smaller focal-point panels on white cards, so I perused an old issue of Stamp It Card Challenges from 2013 and found this lovely card by Lynn M. Mangan for my inspiration.

My version of the layout sticks mostly with Lynn's elements...get-well theme, bird punch/die cut, twine/floss, but notice how different the two cards feel.

The point I wanted to make is just how little needs to change on a design to completely change the feel of the card. Lynn's reds, ivory, and brown colors; canvas texture; and natural speckled card stock give her card a warm, natural, comforting feel. She adds interest with fuzzy twine tied in a double bow, as well as perfectly-placed colored pearls. Perfect!

My card, with just a few key changes, feels completely different. LOTS of crisp white and a springtime monochromatic palette give my card a cooler, fresher, lighter feeling. I add interest with a tilt of the purple bird wing (like he's taking off to better health!) and a gemstone eye.

Next time you are looking for inspiration in a magazine or a blog or Pinterest, don't think, "This style doesn't look like me." Instead, ask yourself, "How can I make this mine?" Then, just do it. Sometimes, it works, and sometimes, it doesn't. But at least you tried to branch out...and that's a very good thing.

After all, it's only paper.

And if you're looking for inspiration, check out Lynn's blog. You'll find lots there!

stamps: Tim Holtz, Gina K
paper: Papertrey white, unknown purple
ink: Memento
accessories: craft thread, dimensionals, rhinestone, SU bird punch

Thursday, May 7, 2015

OWH Is a Star!

Regular readers know that my husband served in the US Air Force for twenty years. One of the happiest days of my life was the day he retired. No more deployments! No more PCS's!

PCS stands for Permanent Change of Station...meaning "a move to yet another place." We moved nine times in 16 years...all but one of those moves was a "permanent" change of station. The odd-ball, by the way, was called a TDY en route, or "temporary" duty on the way to a "permanent" destination. We spent six months in Abilene, Texas, for George's transition training from the B-52 to the B-1, and then moved to Wichita, Kansas, where we lived "permanently" for two-and-a-half years.

It's crazy.

But it was worth it. I am so proud of George's service in peace and in war, and I am so proud to have been a part of that life. But it is a hard life, away from family, always on the move, holding down the fort while the military member is off getting shot at...or sailing and drinking margaritas in Key West because his jet broke down during an exercise with the Naval Air Station.

While George was waiting for his B-52 to be fixed, I was shoveling two feet of snow in Michigan. George came home after two weeks with a sunburn. I might have hated him just a little bit for that.

But all kidding aside, the deployments were the worst. Absolutely the worst. I don't have funny stories about them. Even now, years later, just thinking about them ties my stomach in knots.

Operation Write Home provides an invaluable service for our deployed service men and women...and for their families back home. Each card we make and send to OWH serves as a little life-line of love between us and our military and then between them and their loved ones.

What an amazing organization to support! Over three million cards have been sent overseas, and despite draw-downs, there is still a need for cards.

Today's card left my house in a box yesterday bound for OWH, along with 70 other cards, all stamped with the OWH logo, stuffed into envelopes, and sorted by theme. Who knows where it will end up, but I sure hope it serves its purpose of letting the troops know they are loved and supported...and letting a family member or friend feel connected to his or her soldier, sailor, airman, or marine on deployment.

On this card, I was going for the "looking through the telescope at something far, far away" idea. The single star by the sentiment helps unify the design, as do the rounded corners, and the inks are Brilliance pearlescent...which are so shimmery and pretty and perfect!

Many thanks to all of you who support OWH. If you want to start sending cards, please make sure you read all the guidelines and shipping details on the website: Operation Write Home.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Brilliance galaxy gold, poppy
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Creative Memories circle cutter, Corner Chomper, dimensionals

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Another Blossom Card for OLS16

With Mother's Day coming up, it seems appropriate to share the card I made for my MIL, who loves coral reds....

Remember to click over to the OLS challenge and play along this month with Heather's Blossom Challenge!

stamps: Papertrey, not sure about sentiment
ink: VersaMagic, Impress Fresh Ink
paper: Papertrey
accessories: none

Sunday, May 3, 2015

"She Colored!"

While contemplating the SOS#199 Challenge (Opposite Day), I thought about coloring because that's the opposite of what I ordinarily do. As I looked through my stash, however, I realized why I rarely color: I don't own many outline stamps.

This seems obvious now that I think about it, but it sure makes the Copic/Bic/Sharpie collection I have seem sort of superfluous, doesn't it?

This envelope stamp was already out for my other SOS card, so I used it. The results are colorfully happy!

Yellow, two shades of orange, and two shades of green...arranged so the same color never edges itself (though they might meet at points). I prefer coloring images with thicker lines...makes things a little more forgiving for those of us without rock-steady hands. But this turned out better than I thought it would!

Note to self: must order more Gina K Deluxe white card stock in the 120# weight.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend! We in Ohio were blessed with perfect weather...which we deserved after all the rain we've had lately. Sunshine is so uplifting!

stamps: Hero Arts CL404
ink: Memento tuxedo black
paper: not sure, but it bled through slightly, which is annoying
accessories: alcohol markers

Saturday, May 2, 2015

OLS16 Blossom Times Three!

For One-Layer Simplicity #16, hosted by Heather Telford, our challenge is use blossoms on our card, or, if you're not feeling the love with blossoms (i.e., you live in the southern hemisphere and it's autumn), you may get your inspiration from one of my cards since my screen name is LateBlossom!

Mostly, I think it's pretty easy to make a card with a blossom on it, no matter the time of year. Poinsettia much, anyone?

Anyway, I pulled out Uniko's Flower Power #1 set and went to work making three cards to share. And yes, there were six cards actually made, but three ended up in the recycling bin, which puts me in the fiftieth percentile for Saturday.

Can you tell my kids are about to suffer yet ANOTHER round of standardized testing? Arrgghh.

Breathe, Susan. Breathe. Deep, cleansing breaths. That's better.

Here are the three successful cards:

A simple border treatment, outlined with silver metallic marker, is made more interesting by combining Hero Arts Pool, Soft Olive, and Soft Leaf inks. I want to add a focal point to this in the worst way, but couldn't really come up with a way to do it. The crisp lines, though, make me happy!

After keeping all those blue and green flowers jammed into a tight space, I decided to create a more open and random border (this time vertically). The tiny black gemstones give unity to the design and reinforce the focal point sentiment nicely...better, perhaps, than the first card. The colors are Memento Angel Pink and Hero Arts Soft Blossom and Red Royal.

The third card was inspired by Tetris and is my favorite of the three. The colors--Hero Arts Ocean, Tide Pool, and Soft Pool--make such a lovely, monochromatic combination! The falling flower, slightly tilted, just won't stay in its tidy row, as if it were a pretty thought separating itself from the crowd.

Or is that too English major-ish for you? I live in a house full of literal-minded males, and they make me question my humanities training sometimes.

For example, my son Jack (who is 12 and has autism) and I had the following conversation recently:

Jack: Mom, do you remember when Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were in a race against each other?
Me: Yes.
Jack: Were they racing on foot or in cars?
Me: [trying so hard not to laugh out loud] Oh, sweetie, an election is a different kind of race. Each person tries to convince the most people to vote for them. Whoever gets the most votes wins. At least theoretically.
Jack: Oh. [walks away totally confused but unwilling to waste more time on kid]

This got me thinking. Perhaps it would be better if our elections were, in fact, foot races. Then, primaries would look like Olympic track sprint trials, and the election itself would be over in just a few minutes, especially if we made candidates run from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, dodging in and out of the monuments in between just to make it interesting.

At least then we would be spared having to listen to a bunch of candidates perjure themselves for 18 months while the press tries to discredit them with made-up controversies, innuendo, and outright lies. It costs BILLIONS of dollars to suffer through our kind of elections. I bet Jack's foot race thing could be pulled off for a few hundred million dollars, tops.

And that's if we print nice t-shirts. 

Just a thought.

And on that note, race on over to the OLS challenge and have some unelected fun!

Friday, May 1, 2015

OLS16 Blossom

May's One-Layer Simplicity Challenge, hosted by Heather Telford, is Blossom! Use blossoms on a card, or use one of my cards as inspiration since my screen name is LateBlossom. I'm honored Heather thought to do this, and look forward to using all the amazing inspiration spring has laid out here in Ohio. Oh, my. Our blooming trees are simply stunning right now!

Click on over to the OLS blog to see Heather's card, which is beyond stunning. Her ability with inks...through sponging or so impressive.

I hope you'll play along! I will be!