Thursday, May 31, 2018

Well, That Was an Unexpectedly Long Break

Wow. I think that's the longest break I've taken from blogging Simplicity since it began back in 2009.

Let's start this post with a card...for those of you who aren't interested in my personal life. If you are interested, keep scrolling. So much going on. So much pleasantness. So much unpleasantness.

Oy vey.

The BIG EVENT in the past two weeks has been my son Nicholas's graduation from high school last Saturday and the attendant festivities, so let's honor that milestone with a graduation card I made for one of his friends.

Y'all know I love words, the alphabet, typewriters, books...basically anything having to do with language. But sometimes using cool stamps like this alphabet border stamp from Papertrey's Ombre Builders is a challenge. Teacher card? Quit making those years ago. Where else might a stamp like this be appropriate?

Well, I decided that it might work for a graduation card. After all, high school graduation is the culmination of a journey that began in kindergarten with the alphabet lined up and displayed prominently in the classroom. I like the results!

The sentiment comes from Clearly Besotted's Happy Days set. It's positioned in the upper right sweet spot, with the emphasis on HAPPY. Because graduation day is happy. And Springboro's colors are blue, black, and white. Hence, the blue focal point.

Now, let's get personal. The past two-and-a-half weeks have been, well, a bit insane. They've included raw sewage in my basement (the day after my mother arrived, two plumbers and three days needed to fix), a dead washing machine (and six-day wait for a new one), finding out we need new tires for my car (can wait a bit but will need to happen soon), and Cooper's massive allergic reaction that left his whole head swollen (cause: unknown). Plus, there were countless small crises and problems that left me on the verge of tears most of the time.

On the happy side, we had many visitors from out of town to celebrate Nick's graduation, and all of them extended mercy, grace, peace, and love in the midst of the craziness.

George's mom and dad. This is the best picture of Barbara taken in
years. She has the uncanny ability to have eyes closed in
virtually every picture she's ever had taken. 

My mom, who spent a morning with me at
the laundromat. We made the best of it with
Bill's doughnuts. She never once complained
about the smell of the sewage, either.

George's sister Angela and her husband Mike, who
fight for the pups' favor. Mike usually wins favorite
status, and this angers Angela. Understandably.

After the graduation ceremony with all George's family.
Our son Jack played trumpet in the band
for his brother's graduation. So proud of him!

Family picture with my mom.

The proud graduate

Nick and his friend Owen, the bow-tie buddies. Owen will
attend the University of Oklahoma to study ballet and graphic design.
The kid's got some awesome talent on stage and in the art room.

Nick and his girlfriend, Keara. She will attend
University of Cincinnati in the fall with Nick. 

Nick with Angela and Mike. Angela's graduation gift to Nick
is a trip to New York City in a few weeks.

The grad and his dad.

Selfie with mom. Oh how I love  this kid!
The two days of graduation weekend (the graduation on Saturday and the party on Sunday) went off without a hitch. I was so very grateful for that, given how those two days were preceded by chaos and followed by it.

This week, I've applied to teach as an adjunct instructor at three different universities and dealt with Cooper's allergic reaction. I didn't get a good picture of the full puffy horror, but here's a close-up of his eye after we got him home from the vet. It's still somewhat swollen, but nothing like it had been.

Add caption
Here's the same eye this afternoon. It's MUCH improved, as is the swelling all over his face and neck.

Just before the break, I received my Mother's Day shipment from Simon Says Stamp. I've not had a chance to even open the packaging. Hopefully tomorrow, I can hit my craft room and make something lovely. Or pretty trash. Doesn't matter. I just want to get back to normal and stop waiting for the next disaster.

Thanks for your patience. I'm so happy to be back!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Clearly Besotted Happy Days, Papertrey Ombre Builders
ink: Ranger, Archival
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: not a one

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Lots and Lots of Bling

There are three "kids" I know (other than my son and niece) who are graduating from high school this year. One is a young woman, and the other two are young men. I've known them all since they were about four.

I feel old.

Anyway, I wanted to make graduation cards for them, so here's the one for the young woman. I went a little crazy with the bling, but it makes me happy. Hope it makes her happy, too.

The grass is an old Hero Arts shadow stamp, and the tree comes from Papertrey's Father Knows Best set. The sentiment is from Clearly Besotted's Happy Days set. I wanted to make the colors happy and fun for a woman who is an amazing student and has a heart for God.

Looking at the close-up photo made me realized I missed a bling! So glad I noticed and can remedy it!

Graduation time is so much fun, and I'm excited to see where life takes these young people. Do you have a flurry of graduates this year? Are you making cards? Share links in the comments if you've posted them online and inspire me and others!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Father Knows Best, Hero Arts shadow, Clearly Besotted Happy Days
ink: Archival vibrant fuschia, electric lime, black; Hero Arts charcoal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, Sharpie to color them 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fungi Thank You

Today's card is a fun thank you to all who commented on or emailed me about yesterday's post--for the encouragement, for the stories, for the prayers and good thoughts. I had an awesome conversation with my amazing sister-in-law this evening. She had lots of good advice for me. Looks like I'll be creating a LinkedIn profile soon.

I feel so hip!

Anyway, today's card was inspired by a number of cards using the basic idea (I've used it before, too), but this time instead of flowers and leaves, I chose mushrooms and this awesome color scheme of greens, pool, and purples.

I started with the sentiment in the middle and added the mushrooms next. Then, I added the dandelion seeds to fill in the voids.

The shape of my oval ended up looking odd on a standard card (too circular), so I cut it down and made an irregularly shaped card that's 5" x 4.75" and will fit into a standard 5" x 7" envelope.

Now, there've been a lot crazy disasters in the past few days. First, my car tire picked up a nail...too close to the edge to repair. Of course the tread wear and the fact that the car is all-wheel drive mean we need four new tires, even though the tires still have life in them. We're seeking a second opinion on this. Grrrr.

The two bar magnets for my MISTI stuck together. (George got them apart. Go, George!)

Cooper ate my favorite scarf. (George can't fix that. No one can.)

I waxed my upper lip and it bled. Seriously, Mother Nature. Why?

As you might imagine, I need to go to bed and listen to a Calm meditation, pray, and go to sleep. If you haven't discovered the joys of Calm, download the app immediately and get started. Mindfulness, meditation, and prayer will get me through.

And the lovely support of you wonderful stampers. God bless us, every one!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: StampinUp Endless Thanks, Hero Arts You're a Fungi
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Corner Chomper  

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Bust and Stupid Fear

I haven't posted since Tuesday because I didn't have anything to post. The closer we get to my older son's graduation from high school, the less time I have to stamp, so expect sporadic posting in the coming weeks.

For Mother's Day, I made time to stamp, and then my camera battery died, so I still have no stamping to share. What a bust!

The battery will be recharged tomorrow, and I'll post a card. If you read Simplicity for the stamping, check back tomorrow. The rest of this post gets personal, and if you want to click away now, I totally understand. My life's not that interesting, but perhaps you might find my musings about middle-aged existential angst helpful.

Or not.

First of all, I'm getting my resume together to apply for jobs. It's time for me to get back to work. My boys are old enough to cope with my absence, Nick is heading to college in August, Jack has made phenomenal progress in the past few years, and I'm in need of a new challenge.

My preferred employment would be at a university as an adjunct instructor of English composition and literature. I did this job twenty years ago--very successfully. Teaching college suits my personality and skill set beautifully. My evaluations from students and department heads who observed my classes were always excellent. I am prompt, professional, knowledgeable in my subject (some might say a tad obsessed), extremely enthusiastic, and deeply compassionate toward my students.

This is, however, a scary transition, and I wasn't prepared for that. What is it about women that we doubt ourselves despite all evidence to the contrary? Yes, I've been a stay-at-home mom for eighteen years, but that hardly means I sat around eating bonbons and asking my children to peel me grapes. The two years before I had Nick, I worked at a major high-tech corporate headquarters as a writer/editor with all sorts of responsibility. Since then, I've worked hard as a volunteer in schools and in church, expanded my public speaking skills, taught Stephen Ministry and Bible study classes, researched the dickens out of autism, managed my son's treatment and reaped huge improvements for him as a result, organized four moves for our family, and generally keep everything running smoothly in our lives.

I am competent, smart, and talented in all the right ways. I can do this job...joyfully and well.

So why in the heck am I afraid to hit send on these applications? After all, what's the worst thing that can happen? I don't get a job teaching and end up selling books at Barnes & Noble (33% employee discount...yay!) and trying to work as a freelance writer/editor.

Not too shabby a worst-case scenario, in my opinion. Especially the discount. I buy a lot of books.

If I psychoanalyze myself, there are two possible explanations. One, I've still got work to do on the perfectionism that is the legacy of a childhood spent under the eternally disapproving eye of my father. What if I fail!?!?! How horrible!!!! My daddy won't love me!!!!

Seriously? I'm 51, and is this still hanging around in the shadowy recesses of my subconscious? Plus, stamping has taught me the value and fun of failure. Why should that bother me here? The consequences are certainly not life-threatening. The stakes were higher with my autism research.

Two, I'm feeling the pressure of having read a few too many articles about older women re-entering the workforce. But the only thing that's changed substantially in my career fields in twenty years is technology, and I'm a fast learner. Current best practices of teaching English are essentially the same. The rules of rhetoric and effective written communication haven't substantially changed in millenia. I've got this.

Just typing that last sentence made my stomach do a flip.

If you've read this far, thank you. Even though my stomach flipped, it's enormously helpful to share my feelings with you, kind and sympathetic stampers. Stampers are the best! I know I'm not alone in my insecurities, and if you're feeling a bit like me, afraid of taking a new step forward, I'm right there with you.

I also recommend reading Adam Hamilton's new book Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times. It's faith-based, if you're into that sort of thing, and extremely inspiring. I am finding it helpful, and you might, too.

Scripture tells us over and over not to be afraid. Well, I am. (Bad Christian, Susan! Bad!) But I'm doing this anyway. I'm moving forward, despite stomach flips and nausea. And if I'm overcoming my fear, you can, too.

If you feel so moved, share your fears and upcoming transitions in the comments. Let's all inspire one another to move forward.

And happy Mother's Day to all women who have mothered anyone anywhere at any time. What would we do without each other?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

PS Gratuitous family picture from George's birthday dinner last night.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

An Abundance of White Space

Today, you know you're at Simplicity.

A sentiment. Check.

A tiny image with glitz. Check.

Silver metallic border. Check.

Monochromatic pop of color. Check.



Some of you may feel the need to take Benadryl for the itching because you're allergic to this much white space, but boy, howdy! This card makes me sigh a happy sigh.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: StampinUp Endless Thanks
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Archival black; Hero Arts ultra pink
accessories: Stickles, craft foam, PrismaColor metallic marker, ruler

Monday, May 7, 2018

I've Been Reading Stampington Magazines Again

Yes, you've come to the right place. Sometimes, I just need to get my shabby chic on...stretch my wings...get funky...go wild!

Also, I wanted to die cut some fabric because I'd never done that before. It was fun. And I love the texture. But the card evolved from those two fabric leaves into something, well, different for me.

Kraft paper? Lace? A button? Kraft paper?

And seriously, this card will need a bubble envelope to mail. That button is HUGE!

Let's just call this my brief flirtation with an "abundant" phase. Tomorrow's card will compensate...and likely make some of you itch with all the white space.

I'm unpredictable like that. Avant-garde, even.

Wow. Delusion much, Raihala?


Mercy, grace, peace, love, and laughter,

stamps: Papertrey Leave It Be and Keep It Simple Thank You; unknown script
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey kraft, white
accessories: brown and white muslin, lace, button, twine, score-tape, coordinating dies, a dash of Stampington inspiration

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Thanksgiving in May

After seeing Joan B's post using a stencil in her die cut machine, I realized I hadn't even tried that yet. So here you go...Thanksgiving in May. Thanks for the inspiration, Joan!

I ran the stencil through the Cuttlebug and got a lovely embossed effect, but it was extremely subtle and I wanted to bring out the leaf shapes better. After adding various distress inks and cutting the panel down to size, I was very pleased with the bold color and highlights.

The leaf stamps and dies are from Papertrey's Leave It Be set. Papertrey's dies are closed, and I've decided I really prefer the Hero Arts open dies, which are much easier to line up with stamped images.

The card looked a bit plain so I added some dew first use of this kind gift from Linda E. LOVE how they turned out!

So now I have my first Thanksgiving card of the year. I usually send about 20 in November, so it's good to start early. And for those of you in the southern hemisphere who are in the fall season now, perhaps this will resonate!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Leave It Be, Hero Arts Color Layering Grateful Leaves
ink: distress inks, Archival coffee
paper: Papertrey natural 
accessories: Papertrey dies, twine, dimensionals, Tim Holtz inking tool and leaf stencil

Thursday, May 3, 2018

More Inspired Satisfaction

Today's card was inspired by Susanne of the blog Art Handicraft in the Village (translated into English) via her pin here. Once again, I never would have thought of making this card were it not for the lovely inspiration of Susanne's card.

As you can see, I stole was inspired by Susanne's stippled background and speckles (although her card has a much daintier, softer appearance than mine). I used a stamp to add the spots (my handy dandy StampinUp Itty Bitty Backgrounds stamp). The leaves are from Hero Arts' February kit, and I die cut three of them to look more vine-like as I didn't have a delicate enough branch or flower die to pull this off.

After I'd assembled the whole card, I decided that none of the threads I had would look nearly as nice as Susanne's, so I opted for (duh) bling as an embellishment.

And now, for no reason whatsoever, here are Cooper and George smiling at you. They hope you're smiling back.

Hard to believe that great big teddy bear used to be this tiny widdle puppy:

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: StampinUp Itty Bitty Backgrounds, unknown sentiment
paper: Papertrey white
ink: various green dye inks
accessories: dies from Hero Arts February kit, glue pen, stipple brush, rhinestones, dimensionals

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


My favorite cards don't emerge from my head like Athena from Zeus's noggin or Aphrodite on the half-shell from the ocean. They are inspired by other cards--or advertisements, or posters, or book covers or signs or whatever--and evolve from the inspiration piece into something that makes my heart sing.

Such a card as today's, inspired by this pin.

My version is a bit simpler than the original. First of all, my image is stamped rather than an adorable watercolor, although I did watercolor the stamped hummingbird with ink from Arteza real brush markers that I painted onto an acrylic block. There's also no die cut branch, although that wasn't for lack of trying. (My punch and die collection didn't yield anything satisfying.) My feather was stamped rather than real. I painted the Waltzingmouse feather stamp with the Arteza brush pens and spritzed it with water for a softer effect.

These changes take the original, gorgeous design to a simpler level, and the results make me so happy!

Honestly, this is my favorite way to's so satisfying! I'd never have thought of this on my own, but with a fabulous inspiration piece, I get to make something that has my stamp on it (so to speak). The many design choices and changes I need to make (because of my supplies, lack of artistic ability, color choices, etc.) feel like a treasure hunt with a pretty card at the end!

Mia's blog has so much inspiration to offer! You'll no doubt be seeing more of this sort of thing from me. If you have some favorite sources of inspiration, please share them in the comments!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Antique Engravings, Clearly Besotted sentiment set, Waltzingmouse Fine Feather
paper: Papertrey white, Tim Holtz watercolor paper
ink: Archival coffee
accessories: kraft twine, dimensionals, Arteza real brush markers, paint brush, water spritzer, 1/8" hole punch

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Darling Donations from Kelle

Reader Kelle S sent me an email asking if Karen's Card Shop would appreciate a donation of A-1 size cards. The shop has cellophane bags to fit A-2 cards (the standard 1/4-sheet cards in the U.S.), but since A-1 cards are a bit smaller, I figured they would fit into the bags and why not?

(If you want to donate to the shop, please email me before sending cards. Only certain types of cards sell, and cards need to be blank inside. My email is susanraihala at roadrunner dot com.)

I'm so glad I accepted Kelle's offer because her cards were, without exception, perfect! Just take a look at a selection of them.

Each of Kelle's cards has lovely little details, like the glitter glue on the strawberries or the rounded corners on the sand dollar card, that provide great finishing touches to fabulous clean-and-simple designs. Kelle also finishes everything perfectly, from the perfectly centered scallops on the strawberry card to the expertly tied knots to the clean stamping.

It's clear Kelle has some perfectionist issues that result in delightful cards and will certainly make her artwork appealing to the buyers at Karen's Card Shop.

Kelle, Carol, Patti, Patti, Shannon, Joan, Peg, Lisa, Cheryl, Marcia, Eva, and all the others who have contributed to the card shop bring their A game to their donations, and I cannot express how grateful I am for the wonderful support you've all given to a shop in a church you don't even attend. (And if I missed anyone, please, please, please let me know!)

Stampers have generous hearts, and First United Methodist Church of Springboro has benefited from your kindness. To date, we've made over $1,325 for the church, which supports several areas of ministry, including our cancer care and Stephen Ministry. Thanks so much to Kelle and all who have shared their lovely talent with Karen's Card Shop.

My heart is full.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and gratitude,