Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Little Love and a Break

This card idea came to me a few weeks ago, and I put it in my husband's lunch box one day to surprise him.

We all need a little love, don't you think? While my wifely heart belongs to George, my crafty heart belongs to all of you who read and comment and send me emails and cards and keep me going creatively. I so appreciate my wonderful corner of the world wide web because YOU are so wonderfully in it.

It's spring break time, and I need a little break from blogging to spend time with my husband and boys and some extended family for Easter. Don't worry! I'll be back in time for the April OLS Challenge, which I'm hosting. Take care and enjoy the beauty of spring (in the northern hemisphere) and the beauty of fall (in the southern hemisphere). If you're in the middle, things don't change much this time of year, so sip a mojito and just enjoy!


stamps: Clearly Besotted Paired Up
ink: Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft paper, corner rounder

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Inspired by a Candy Wrapper and Eating Crow

Today's card was inspired by these candy wrappers:


And here's my card!

Because the stamped area is so busy, I cut it down to fit on the card base with a very wide white mat showing. That keeps the idea of the original wrappers but makes it my own with some space to breathe.

The raised panel is one layer. The blue rectangle was stamped using a Hero Arts shadow stamp and Hero Arts soft sky ink. Then, I masked the blue with a post-it note and randomly stamped various images from Papertrey's Doodlie Do set in Memento black. The sentiment is from Papertrey's Mega Mixed Messages and is stamped in Memento Luxe black.

Of course it would be easier to use a rectangle of light blue card stock instead of ink for this, but whoever said anything worth doing had to be easy?

Well, I've probably said that myself on occasion. But for this, I figured two layers were quite enough.

Have you ever announced you were finished with something only to realize that, no, indeed, you still had a whole bunch more to do? Surely you've finished washing the dishes, turned around, and found a dirty pot or two on the stove behind you.

Well, a while back, I announced I'd made all the birthday cards I needed for 2016.

Oh, how I wish!

Seems I send/give way more birthday cards than are included on my formal birthday list (which contains mostly family and friends who live far away). I had to raid that stash just the other day, stealing a card intended for a cousin with a November birthday, just to send a card to one of our Stephen Ministers. We have 16 Stephen Ministers. And a pastor. And other church friends. And a few other local friends. Oh my.

So now I'm back to making more birthday cards.

One of you actually commented something to this effect on my original "last birthday card of 2016" post. Whoever you are, you were right. I was wrong.

Never again will I say I'm finished. With anything!

stamps: Papertrey, Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts, Memento, Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey
accessories: craft foam, glue, post-it notes

Monday, March 21, 2016

Modern Art Inspiration

This really cool pin from the IC534 challenge proved to be an intriguing source of inspiration.


Wow. That bold orange and dark purple are so visually striking. I expected to snap off a card from this relatively easily.

Pride goeth before the fall.

Y'all should know that a lot of pretty trash has been made because of this diabolical pin.

And then, finally, this happened.

Taking advantage of the delightfully designed Funky Feathers set from Waltzingmouse, this card mimics the artwork in its balance of orange (Ancient Page henna) and purple (Hero Arts raspberry). I added bling because bling is good. I enhanced the colors of the bling with Sharpies to make them match the inks better. The black sentiment has a curvy imitation of the iron banisters. It's not exactly the same, but the idea is there. On purpose.


stamps: Waltzingmouse Funky Feathers
ink: Ancient Page, Memento Luxe, Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, alcohol markers

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Window Inspiration

IC534 from four weeks ago still inspires me. Take a look at this pin from Peg Schoenfelder's minimalist board.


How utterly striking!

So here's my version.

Card Size 7.25" x 3.75"
As with the bubble-bath-box inspiration yesterday, my take is pretty literal, with just a few tweaks. I wasn't about to put a big tub on my card, so silver nobs on the side of the panel wouldn't have made sense. My touch of silver is a visual triangle drawing the eye to the ferns at the bottom instead. Without the silver beads, my eye was fixed in the middle of the's just so pretty!!!

To make the blue background, I used washi tape to mask the strip and a torn post-it note to create the mountain effect at the top. Memento Danube blue ink was stippled onto the strip until it was a deep, rich blue. Assorted fern/branch punches hang over the sides a bit, but were trimmed flat on the bottom.

While I love my monochromatic blue card, this idea would also be beautiful with oranges and reds in an ombre effect, don't you think?

On another topic, it's Holy Week, the most important week in the Christian liturgical calendar. I hope my readers who are Christian have a meaningful week as we reflect on Christ's great sacrifice and the glorious good news of the empty tomb. I'll be posting an Easter reflection on my faith blog later this week, if you're interested.

May all of us--no matter our faith practice or lack thereof--make it a great week in which we all do what we can to promote peace, love, mercy, and grace in this world! Blessings!

stamps: none
ink: Memento Danube blue
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: various punches, craft foam, glue pen, silver beads, post-it note, washi tape, stipple brush

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Inspiration via Bubble Bath and Reminders

A few reminders...
If you want to follow my cards on Pinterest, you'll find them on the board Cards by Susan Raihala. Many thanks to the 419 people who are already following it, even though it's only been up for about a week. You make me feel like a rock star!

My Pure Inspiration board on Pinterest has tons of inspiration (631 pins to date) if you are interested in a random assortment of images that caught my eye as potentially useful. Sort of like today's inspiration!

Plus, it's easy to follow Simplicity on Facebook. Just go to Simplicity by Lateblossom and join up! I link to all posts there, so you'll find out in your Facebook feed when there's a new post. If you use Facebook, it's a great way to keep up. But don't join Facebook just to follow me. It's not worth it, and it will suck your life away in a most annoying fashion.

Today's Card
Sometimes, a pin on Pinterest screams at me to BE INSPIRED, DARN IT!!!! This pin is such a pin.


Eeep. Love, love, love the red, wavy shapes. So I went to work and used stamps from five different companies to make a card that makes me very, very happy.

Note that I placed my stamped panel on the right while the sentiment hangs off to the left, putting it in the upper left "sweet spot" for a focal point. That arrangement provides some nice asymmetry and movement that would not be there had I left the stamped panel larger (I trimmed it quite a bit) or put it in the center with the sentiment centered one-third of the way down as it is on the bubble-bath box.

To link the stamped panel and the sentiment better, I used Hero Arts charcoal on both the text stamp and the sentiment stamps. For my purposes that seemed to make more sense than using black, as the labels on the box and bottle do.

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

stamps: Papertrey Text Style, Hero Arts Antique Engravings, PSX three shells, A Muse coral, My Favorite Things Label Maker Sentiments
ink: Hero Arts red royal, charcoal, sand; Memento rhubarb stalk
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: dimensionals

Thursday, March 17, 2016

CRS Strikes Again

Today's card (especially its layout) was totally inspired by...some card I saw. Somewhere. Maybe in a magazine. Maybe online.

I can't remember.

CRS. Can't Remember Stuff.

It's sad. I'm not even 50 yet.

If you know the source of this layout, please pretty please let me know. I'd love to give full credit to the artist who came up with this delightful idea because she's a bigger genius than I will ever be.

To make this card, I trimmed the sentiment panel and rounded the corners with scallop scissors. Remember those edging scissors that were all the rage years ago? Well, I still use them. The panel on which the dragonfly, circle, and line are stamped is popped on a piece of craft foam, but the sentiment panel is popped with StampinUp dimensionals.

There's an element here of collage-style stamping...but in a very clean-and-simple version. Which makes me very, very happy!

stamps: Hero Arts Antique Engravings (dragonfly), Clearly Besotted Paired Up (circle), Papertrey Sign Language (sentiment) and Faux Ribbon (line)
ink: Hero Arts sky blue; Memento Luxe love letter, espresso truffle
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, craft foam, rhinestones, scallop scissors

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

We Interrupt Spring for this Christmas Card


It's March, but when an idea comes to you, you just need to go with it.

White, gray, and red go together so perfectly for winter-themed cards, don't they? Of course they do. And a little red glitter paper is the icing on the cake.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Oh, my. Now I want cake.

And icing.

Merry Christmas in March, y'all.

stamps: Concord & 9th Love You. Mean It.; Hero Arts (discontinued) sentiment
ink: StampinUp real red; Memento London fog
paper: Neenah heavy and light weight card stock, red glitter paper
accessories: Tim Holtz branch punch, circle punch, glue pen

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Wildflower Day 4: Wild Color

And now we're at Day 4 of experimenting with Concord & 9th's Wildflower set. Of course, outline stamps like those in this set are made to be colored, but y'all know that's not my strength. I tried. Really, I did. But trying Copics yielded a rather blotchy mess, and my effort with colored pencils came out only slightly better.

Recovering from my disappointment, I pulled out some happy pink and purple inks (and a touch of green) to make this MUCH BETTER and MORE ME card.

Oh, frabjous joy!

These colors pop right off the white with a happy abandon that fills my heart with satisfaction...far more satisfaction than my coloring efforts.

Play to your strengths. If your strength is coloring, you'll probably love coloring the images in Wildflower, but it's a delightful set for those of us who really just want to stamp pretty colors and be done with it.

Either way, you won't be disappointed.

Note: No one paid me to post this. I just really, truly love this set!

stamps: Concord & 9th Wildflower, Clearly Besotted A Little Sentimental
ink: Hero Arts raspberry, ultra pink, passion flower, lime; Ancient Page amethyst; Memento grape jelly
paper: Papertrey White
accessories: craft foam, glue

Monday, March 14, 2016

Wildflower Day 3: Another Kind of Gold

Welcome back to our exploration of different things to do with Wildflower, a gorgeous set from Concord & 9th. Day 1's card showed the set used with Delicata gold ink, but today's card uses another kind of gold: the real thing!

Card Size: 4.25" square

Isn't it amazing how one small spot of genuine gold leaf can elevate a card from simple to spectacular?

To apply gold leaf, put down a bit of glue from a glue pen on the center of the poppy and let it dry completely. Then, lay the backing sheet of gold leaf* gold-side down over the glue spot and rub lightly using an agate burnisher (fancy tool from my calligraphy/illumination days). Repeat until you're satisfied.

After layering three or four layers of gold leaf and burnishing them smooth, I got this brilliant gold spot!

Of course, if you don't have real gold leaf, you can use any of the alternative leafing products. You could also use metallic gold gouache paint (an opaque watercolor), a gold leaf pen, or any number of other gold-ish products.

But nothing looks as bright and shiny as the real thing.

Stamps: Concord & 9th Wildflower, Gina K (sentiment)
Paper: Papertrey white
Ink: Memento Luxe love letter, Impress Fresh Ink mojito and black
Accessories: gold leaf, agate burnisher, glue, craft foam

*Real gold leaf comes in two forms: loose leaves of gold and leaves attached to a backing sheet (a.k.a. transfer gold). Go for the transfer gold. The loose leaves are so thin, it's easy to crumple them and waste them, plus you need some extra supplies. What a nightmare! Buying the transfer gold can be pricey, but I've had my packet for 15 years and it's still more than half full. A little goes a long way! An agate burnisher will last a lifetime or two. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wildflower: Day 2 and IC536

Concord & 9th's beautiful set Wildflower makes my heart happy, so I'm doing a series of posts showing different uses for the outline images in the set. To see yesterday's post, click HERE.

Today's technique (watercolor with markers and spritzing) is one I usually limit to solid just doesn't occur to me to use it with outline stamps. But this card shows how pretty the results can be!

The layout and colors of this card were inspired by the Inspiration Challenge this week at Splitcoast, which is called Easter Egg Hunt. The pin I used as inspiration can be found HERE.

If you look at the inspiring pin, you'll notice that the droopy flower and oval shape are directly copied, as closely as my supplies allowed, but in mirror image, since my flower looked better drooping to the right. It's great that clear stamps can be bent on the acrylic block to create different looks...the stem stamp is straight, but it bent adequately to allow for the droop.

Tip: If your clear stamps aren't sticking well enough on the acrylic block to bend them, clean them with water and a bit of dish soap, and let them air dry. They should stick nicely after all the accumulated dust and oils are removed.

To ink the flower stamp, I covered the whole flower in Memento New Sprout ink and added Bamboo Leaves from a marker to try to mimic the coloring of the flower in the photo. Then, after lightly spritzing the stamp with water, I pressed it firmly to the paper. The stem is just stamped with Bamboo Leaves and spritzed, but I added a bit of New Sprout marker inside the lines.

The layout came to me when I realized how much I dislike ovals stuck on cards. Not sure why, but the oval shape feels odd and old-fashioned to me. Then, it occurred to me that cutting a larger oval out of the front of the card would create an interesting mat for the popped up focal point.

For cutting ovals, I have the old Creative Memories oval cutting system, so you can make three oval mats. For this card, the smallest oval was cut from craft foam and used to elevate the stamped oval. The CM cutter won't go all the way through foam, but it will mark it clearly enough that you can use scissors to cut it out all the way.

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

Why not give the watercolor technique a try on some outline stamps? Or if that doesn't sound fun, check out the IC536...there's some beautiful inspiration in this week's challenge!

stamps: Concord & 9th, Papertrey
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: markers, water spritzer, Creative Memories oval cutting system, craft foam, scissors, glue

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wildflower: Day 1

So, after seeing the fabulous use to which Joan B put Concord & 9th's Wildflower set, I had to get it for myself. Over the next few days, I'm going to share with you the various ways this set of pretty outline images can be used to create a range of clean-and-simple looks. It truly is a wonderful set...and I'm completely sold on Concord & 9th.

Up first, a card that was directly inspired by a recent post on Joan's blog using a different stamp set. I loved her gold monochromatic approach and took that as my starting point.

The Delicata gold ink is yellower than the PrismaColor gold metallic marker, but it's close enough for government work.

Let's not think about government right now. Our heads might explode from all the crazy.

Instead, let's think about stamps. And ink. And shiny things.

Ahhhh. A happy place.

stamps: Concord & 9th Wildflower, Papertrey Keep It Simple Thinking of You
ink: Delicata gold
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: gold metallic marker, post-its for masking

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pinterest Board

Quick note.

Moving forward, I will be pinning my cards to a board on Pinterest, so if you just want to see my cards without all the jibber-jabber, check it out!

Cards by Susan Raihala

If you're reading this in email, scroll down for today's card post.

Not Exactly Mondrian...Cool Nonetheless

Thanks for the neat responses to my last post! I'm very excited and have already started experimenting and screwing stuff up. It's fun!

Today's card grew out of my staring at the wreath from Concord & 9th's Love You. Mean It.

Staring, staring, staring.

What would happen if I stamped it twice and colored in the spaces?


Maybe this.

card size 4.25" square
Since it was stamped twice (rotating between impressions), there are more spaces to color, which means more fun in the coloring!

It's not exactly Mondrian-ish, seeing as it's round and pink and purple instead of gridded and red and blue and yellow. But the idea's definitely Mondrian-ish.

It's always so much fun when a stamp can be used in an unexpected way!

stamps: Concord & 9th Love You. Mean It.
ink: Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, assorted StampinUp and Memento markers, corner rounder

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Joan B Is Wise and Wonderful

Many of you know I'm a long-time fan of Joan B at Dear Paperlicious. Joan is wise and wonderful and so very talented, not to mention laugh-out-loud funny and ever so kind.

If you haven't read THIS POST on Dear Paperlicious, I encourage you to do so now. It's not long, and you get to see a cool picture of the lovely Joan posing amidst a really fabulous work of art.

Are you back? Oh, good!

Joan's words resonate with me so very much. I heard an interview on NPR several years ago during which an artist pointed out that children make art for the joy of making, not the joy of using. As an adult, I've been conditioned to believe that things must be practical and useful to be worthwhile. I want some justification for the effort and expense and time spent.

But how practical, really, are things like Zentangles? Or cards with weird sayings I'll never send to anyone? Or little handmade books that sit in a box in my basement? Or tags and paper trinkets?

Thinking of it another way, how practical was my sister's career as a ballerina? Sure, there are some videos of her performances, but isn't the point of performing arts that, well, you perform them? I saw the American Ballet Theater perform Swan Lake in Chicago many years ago, and I consider that art. But I have nothing to show for it other than the memory. Does that make it less--or more--meaningful?

And can I, a paper crafter, apply anything learned from the performing arts?

Methinks it's possible.

I'm willing to give it a try. I'm going to focus on playing, on creating and making and growing and experimenting, with a lot less thought for the utilitarian nature of the end product.

I'm going "to art."

Art for art's sake.

My own little wonderful, as Joan put it.

Let's see what happens. Care to join me?

(Note: Please don't panic. I'm not going to start doing collage/mixed media art journaling or crocheting doilies. Not that there's anything wrong with those things, actually, but I get that you don't come to a paper-crafting blog called Simplicity for collage or quilling. No. I want to stick to my minimalist style but play with new expressions of it that are, perhaps, less strictly practical. Let's see where it goes!)

Today's card is made with a fun set from Concord and 9th (awesome stamps!) called Love You. Mean It. This simple, hand-drawn wreath is fabulously simple!

In the spirit of simplicity, I created a very simple visual triangle of the small blooms (outlines stamped in Hero Arts stone wash and filled in with soft sky) accented with a tiny branch (in Hero Arts green). The wreath is Hero Arts lime, and the sentiment is Memento Luxe black. I love how the dense flowers contrast with the openness of the wreath!

A note on the sentiment. "Smile" is part of a larger sentiment in the set, but I suspected I would never use the larger one (not my favorite word choice/arrangement), so I actually cut the word Smile out of the sentiment. I'll use it a lot by itself. Thanks to Jennifer McGuire for getting me over my anxiety about cutting stamps apart.

stamps: Concord and 9th
ink: Hero Arts, Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, corner rounder

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Narrow Window in Winter

Remember this pin from the IC534 challenge last week? Well, I used the same layout, with a slightly wider window, for this winter card.

This layout takes full advantage of that red bird to draw the eye to the focal point scene...its hard to even notice all the white space, so strongly does that spot of red in the white and gray draw your eye.

I love how this card is simultaneously peaceful and dramatic.

stamps: Papertrey Masculine Motifs (tree) and Through the Trees (bird)
ink: Memento 
paper: Papertrey
accessories: Memento marker, ruler, post-its for masking

Monday, March 7, 2016

IC535 Paintings for Ants Inspiration

Oh. My. Goodness.

Check out this woman's artwork. Her tiny paintings are simply fabulous...small images surrounded by glorious white space. And they are the source of inspiration for Audrie's Splitcoast Inspiration Challenge this week.

Here's my card for the challenge, which is based on this painting. It was so much fun to make!

Like Lorraine Loots, the artist, I started by marking the center of the card stock with a pencil and then stamped the dragonfly in Memento black ink. Lorraine uses a palette of soft colors frequently in her art, so I chose shades of aqua prismacolor pencils to color the image very simply.

Her art pieces are so much more detailed, and my little dragonfly looked a bit plain, so I painted a think layer of crystal Stickles over its wings for a little added interest.

This idea would make a FABULOUS card set, don't you think?

Stamps: Hero Arts Love Bug
Ink: Memento black
Paper: Papertrey white 
Accessories: craft foam, glue, prismacolor pencils, Stickles

Sunday, March 6, 2016

IC534 Gives Me Good Luck

There's just so much awesome inspiration on this Pinterest Board. Audrie used it as the basis for last week's IC534 at Splitcoast, and I'm still geeking out over it.

Check out this amazing picture.


That green chair with the lime-green pillow got me thinking about shape and color and abstract design. This was the result.

The stipple brush made the panels look velvety, just like the chair and pillow in the inspiration photo. Cool, eh? Makes me think of Ireland. And geometry.

I always liked geometry, and I'm descended from Irish royalty. Bet you didn't know that about me.

Don't be too impressed. One-thousands years is a long time for the crowns to get lost. Plus, my 23 Mayflower ancestors mean that for a time my family tree didn't branch very much. I try not to think about that much.

I hope you had a great weekend. We started ours with a Friday night trip to the ER for my husband, who got an ash in his eye while grilling a chicken on his Big Green Egg. Fortunately, he will be fine.

It's always something, isn't it?

stamps: Clearly Besotted A Little Sentimental
ink: Mojito and Celery from Impress Fresh Ink; Memento Luxe espresso truffle
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: stipple brush, craft foam, glue, square punch

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Inspiration Challenge Again

I had so much fun playing the Inspiration Challenge 534 at Splitcoast. This photo from the inspiration board on Pinterest is simply gorgeous!

Here's what I did with it,

The purple Sakura stardust pen is absolutely pretty in real life, even if my photography can't keep up with it.

Ah. Cleanliness and simplicity.

What are your favorite places--other than Pinterest and Splitcoast--to find inspirational ideas? Inquiring minds and all that....

stamps: Papertrey Gracious Vases, Uniko Flower Power #1
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Memento
accessories: Copic marker, Sakura Stardust pen, craft foam, corner rounder

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bring Your Towel

All of us have days when we need this card.

Because, you know, life.

Or, you could use this card to tell your significant other that you're pregnant.

Because, you know, funny.

Either way, make sure you have your towel.

"Don't Panic. It's the first helpful or intelligible thing anybody's said to me all day." --Arthur Dent, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

stamps: Hero Arts alphabet
ink: Memento black, Hero Arts red royal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: corner rounder, craft foam, glue

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Masculine Get-Well Card

So many get-well cards feature flowers, but I wanted something for my stash that would be suitable to send to a guy. Up steps this pin from my Pure Inspiration Board to help me out.

The combination of neutral shades; sprinkled background; clean, crisp image of a tree; and classic serif font give this card an unmistakable masculine feel.

But I'm a chick and I'd love getting something like this!

stamps: Papertrey Keep It Simple Surgery, Through the Trees; SU speckled bitty background
ink: Hero Arts wet cement; Memento Luxe espresso truffle
paper: Papertrey white, 24lb. copy paper
accessories: tape runner to adhere strip inside card

OLS25: Let Green "March" In

The always fabulous Karen is hosting the One-Layer Simplicity Challenge for March with my favorite color: GREEN! Use shades of green and one neutral on a white card.

Although it's hard to tell in the picture, the large rhinestone is dark green (not black), thus giving me two shades of green, with a black neutral for the lines and sentiment.

For once, I've actually managed to combine challenges. I'm also submitting this for the IC234 at Splitcoast, because my card layout was completely inspired by THIS PIN.

I chose to run the sentiment vertically because it reinforced the vertical emphasis of the inspiration photo (and it looked totally weird when placed horizontally). The rhinestone overlaps the line just a little, and I like the way it balances the sentiment.

Get your green on and join us for the OLS25 Challenge!

Happy March!

stamps: Papertrey Dot Spot, Clearly Besotted A Little Sentimental
ink: Hero Arts lime, Memento Luxe black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Bic marker (to color the rhinestone dark green), Micron black 8mm pen, ruler