Wednesday, January 29, 2020

When Your Muse Goes on Vacation

Sometimes, the beautiful inspiration we embrace dances us off in odd directions, and it's hard to face the results. That's how I feel about today's card, which was inspired by THIS LOVELY PIN. The delicacy and layers of the inspiration card are so feminine and soft. It's a gorgeous balancing act of layers and color and softness.

Because my supplies are completely different from the ones used in the inspiration piece, I spent a LOT of time fiddling with colors, layers (so many layers!), different stamps, different papers, oh my. I should have taken a picture of the mess.

My card ended up looking clunky and weird and unbalanced. And it took an embarrassingly long time to get to this sad point.


I'm just not happy with this. At all.

But I wanted to show it nevertheless. Because sometimes, after days of percolating ideas and making layer upon layer of pretty trash in service to a single card, it's time to start singing "Let It Go."

The song really helps. "Conceal don't feel." Not a good plan for any part of life, and how often do stamping bloggers share the failures, the mehs, the not-quite-rights, the REALITY of our wonderful hobby?

Not often. And with good reason. Some people won't read the post and will think, "Good heavens! What was Susan thinking!?!? She's lost it completely!" Others will try to tell me, "Oh, it's a great card! I love it!" Others might make snarky comments, which hurt...even when I agree with them.

But the truth is, we aren't perfect. We are crafters who learn as much from failure--perhaps more--as from success. We show our best work and conceal the rest.

That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand in the light of day
Let the storm rage on...

And I'll stamp again another day!

Because it's only paper. Sheesh. We don't have to take it so seriously.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and slightly manic laughter,

Saturday, January 25, 2020

College Valentines and a PSA

Six young people receive college care packages from me. I try to send them out three times a semester...nothing cosmic in them, but the recipients appreciate them.

In a previous post, a reader asked what I put in the packages. Pretty much anything that fits in a small, flat-rate USPS box, including little travel-size toiletries, chapstick, hand lotion, pens, post-it pads, highlighters, binder clips, hot chocolate packets, candy, Starbucks gift cards, Altoids, Tic-Tacs, Mentos, tea bags, gum, fuzzy socks, whatever.

Of course Valentine's Day gives the perfect excuse to send something, and to include this simple card!

Oh, this simple design makes my heart go pitter patter! The heart dies are from Hero Arts Infinity Dies. and the script is an old Hero Arts wood-mounted stamp. Although I rarely mass-produce, I made six of these, using hot pink hearts on some because I ran out of red heart gems.

And now I want to offer up a public service announcement. Several of the young people who receive my packages suffer from depression and levels requiring medication and professional counseling--which they don't all receive. One is a male ballet dancer who struggled last semester with mono. Another lost her mother last year.

Our young people are being crushed under the weight of stress, and it's affecting them terribly. I see my students fail out of college because they become homeless, or have never learned how to focus on doing work, or have small children and little support from family, or have toxic people around them pulling them down.

Any time you can reach out to support a young person, please take the opportunity. One adult reaching out in support can make a huge different, to the point of saving lives. Suicide among youth is on the rise, and this is especially true for our LGBTQ youth. I was a suicidal young person, and I know first-hand that compassionate adults make a world of difference!

We "older folk" have an opportunity to be leaders here. Reach out. Buy a young person a cup of coffee. Ask how they're "really" doing. Listen. Provide unconditional positive regard. Send a card. Include a $20 occasionally. Build a relationship. Invest in them.

And don't believe the crap being shoveled that young people are all a bunch of entitled brats. There are no more brats now than in the past. Every generation for several thousand years has bemoaned the loss of morals, work ethic, responsibility, and "values" in the younger generation. It's no more true now than it was in ancient Greece. Don't use that as an excuse for apathy. I beg you.

Small moves won't fix big problems, but they just might strengthen and encourage young people to overcome their bigger problems. They need to know how powerful they can be! The human spirit is amazing, but it needs a little encouragement and help every now and then to grow resilient and succeed. And if you're feeling stressed like so many young people these days, know that reaching out to help others helps you, too!

If you're not sure how to help and want to, talk to your pastor about participating in (or starting) a college outreach ministry. If you live near a college, ask about "adoption" programs for students far from home or volunteer on campus as part of ministry or in campus outreach organizations. Ask about other volunteer opportunities in your community. Most have some sort of clearinghouse or central volunteer resource. Or get a few addresses and send them care packages.

If you feel called to help, act. Don't feel like you have to do something huge for it to matter. Just do something that feels right.

PSA over.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Subtle Spatter

So a common theme in many of the cards I've pinned lately is spattered paint.

Isn't "spatter" just an ugly word? Spatter. Splatter. Spitter. Sputter. Ugh.

Anyway, spatters of ink or watercolor or whatever artfully cover so many cards these days, so I thought I'd give it a try. It worked far better than I thought it would.

Given my photography equipment, my photos of subtle cards tend to be bad, and this one makes the sequins look far more garish than they are. Excuses, excuses. Please just accept that this card is prettier in real life than in the photos.

I made the spatters by coloring an Azteca brush pen on an acrylic block and picking up the color with a wet, small, round paint brush. I tapped the ferrule of the brush on my finger over the panel, and magically, spatter appeared.

Okay, not magically. I believe we can blame gravity for it. Nice and scientific and logical.

After repeating the process several times, there seemed to be a good density of tiny spatters that livened up the eucalyptus image.

Can I whine about layering stamps for a bit? Just skip this paragraph if you love them. I don't. This layered eucalyptus is from Gina K, and it's a lovely base stamp, but I can't line up the two top layers to save my life. I just inked the base with markers, spritzed with water, and stamped. You'd think I'd learn, but no. I keep buying layered stamp sets thinking they'll magically line up properly.

There I go with magic again. And me, a good Christian girl. Oy vey.

Anyway, I get to spend tomorrow grading the first major set of papers from my English Composition I students. It's a great class, and I'm looking forward to the grading. We shall see if I feel that way when I finish, LOL!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Happy Anniversary

This cardinal pair says happy anniversary in a loose and breezy way.

Light blue and bright red are such a happy pairing as well, don't you think?

At least they aren't a pair of pears. Bwaa haa haa! I'm so bad. Well and truly an English major, through and through.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love, sweet love,

Friday, January 17, 2020

Postage Dies Are My Favorite!

Okay, it took me a long time to decide to buy the Hero Arts Infinity Postage Stamp dies. I thought maybe they would be a waste of money...would I use all the different sizes? would I get tired of them? would the sun go supernova before I got my money's worth out of them?

Overthinking may be a wee bit of a problem for me. Perhaps. I don't know.

Anyway, I'm now thinking all the different sizes are a huge bonus, postage stamp designs never go out of style, and the supernova thing is sort of ridiculous. Soooooo glad I bought these!

The smaller sizes obviously fit better with my commitment to white space, as with today's card. But the huge die I used with the Hero Arts palm leaves stamp in my last post turned out spectacularly and convinced me to start exploring some new possibilities.

I'm in LOVE. And the old PTI Simple Alphabet has numbers and letters, so it's easy to add a faux postage's in pence, which made my Anglophile heart go pitter patter.

The leaves are from old punches in my stash.

The old and the new playing nicely together. YAY!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and postage,

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A Most Useless Post

When my wood-mounted leaf stamps were out (see previous post), I went looking for one and couldn't find it. After rummaging around in a panic in my unfinished basement area, I found it in a box labeled for potential sale.

Whatever was I thinking!!?!?!?!

How could I even consider getting rid of this glorious stamp? In my best Hermione Granger voice, "What an idiot!"

The stamp (from Hero Arts) paired nicely with the postage die (also Hero Arts) and some sequins (more Hero Arts) and an ombre ink pad (you guessed it...Hero Arts).

Of course I rummaged through the storage box for even more wood-mounted treasures that needed to come out and play. So. Many. Stamps.

No matter how much I like minimalism in my life, wardrobe, house, and aesthetic, it's just not realistic when it comes to stamps, now, is it?

I thought not.


Weak. That's what I am.

But oh so happy.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and hoarding,

PS What stamps do you have a hard time parting with? Seems to me, Hero Arts has my heart locked up. And their new catalog comes out soon. Tomorrow, perhaps. ;-)

Monday, January 13, 2020

More Leafy Birthday Greetings

Today's card was inspired by THIS PIN, though I went with a radically different color scheme and theme. Isn't the original inspiration piece absolutely gorgeous, though?!!?!

I enjoyed using a VERY old StampinUp spatter stamp (from Itty Bitty Backgrounds, I believe) to add Delicata gold ink to the design. So easy and pretty. The card was also inspired by my wood-mounted, Hero Arts leaf stamp collection, which is pretty sizeable. (Seriously, this isn't even all of them...just the natural looking ones!)

Today's card only uses the one leaf stamp in multiple colors. Love the soft greens and blues with the gold accents!

The design needed something to anchor it, so I experimented with various threads and twine, but the dark olive, which matches the sentiment ink, looked best. I poked a hole in the fold of the card, so the twine wraps into the inside of the card. If you plan better, you could wrap it around the torn panel, but this worked just fine.

Hope you all are having a very good start to 2020. The weather has been extreme in places, and of course to any readers living in're whole nation is in my prayers. Take care, and stay safe!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Saturday, January 11, 2020

So Many Steps...But Worth It

When I saw THIS PIN, it called out to me. Oh, my! It's simply lovely and begged for me to be inspired by it.

But there were so many steps. So many steps...and days of pressing the two wet-treated panels to flatten them out enough to use.

I adore the results.

The top left panel, obviously, was the easy one. The stamp is an old one from Hero Arts, and I used Ranger prickly pear ink. The top right panel took more time. First, the Happy Birthday sentiment (PTI, I believe) was heat embossed with white embossing powder, and then the panel was stamped with a water-spritzed acrylic block with Memento and StampinUp markers scribbled on it. The bottom panel was colored the same way with lighter shades of green.

I love how the original inspiration used black to anchor the design, but I couldn't bring myself to do that, using dark olive rhinestones instead. I also kept the bling to a minimum, with just three to keep the design from getting too fussy. Note how subtle the top left panel is in the inspiration piece...mine, not so much.

In all honesty, I'm blown away by the incredibly artsy, amazingly designed cards showing up on European blogs these days. The talent and skill and outstanding design represented there can be intimidating and overwhelming, I think. But it's just like 15-18 years ago when everyone started using prismacolor pencils and gamsol. I compared by work to theirs and felt bad about myself...until I woke up and realized this is a hobby. It's supposed to make you feel good and help you relieve stress and have fun.

So today's message is this: if you're feeling intimidated by other stampers' talent, get over yourself, dive in, and play around without comparing yourself or your work to them or their work. Look for ideas and inspiration, not a stick to beat yourself up with. Do stuff you don't normally do, throw away the messes (it's only paper, after all), and most important of all, have fun!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

PS This card won't be going through the mail. Hand delivered, yes. Or sent in a package, yes. But not put in an envelope and into the post office's brutal hands. Nope.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

I'm Torn

Today's card was inspired by THIS PIN, which is so peaceful and soft and lovely with its very neutral kraft and white color scheme. As I rummaged in my specialty paper box, however, a bold blue handmade paper grabbed my attention.

So, of course, I changed things up a bit.

It's been a while since I tore paper, but the combination of torn edges and layers wrapped around the base is irresistible. The light blue paper has a metallic shimmer that contrasts nicely with the rough, matte fibers of the handmade paper.

Here's a helpful tip. If you're going to tear, note the grain of the paper. Tear with the grain, as I did with the light blue paper, and you get a smoother, more even tear. Tear against the grain, and the resulting edge will be extremely rough and uneven. The handmade paper doesn't have grain, so it doesn't matter which way you tear it.

The inspiration piece has stars that are just the right size for the card, but my butterflies were either too small or too big. By combining the two, the balance felt right.

Bold, beautiful blue. Oh, how I love you.

I hope you love it too!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Monday, January 6, 2020

Fall Leaves in January Because Why Not?

Mias zauberhafte Dinge Zauberhaftes aus Papier posted this Pin which made me bounce in my seat with glee and make these.

The colors are StampinUp markers applied directly to the stamps,
spritzed with water, and then stamped..

I couldn't quite get the hang of looping the twine behind the mat, so old-school bows wrapped around the mat sufficed. I left the tails of the bows extra long, though, and really like the look. Mia's originals look much more delicate than mine, but the bold fall colors warm my heart on these cold winter days. 

And these cards are extra-popped with dimensionals between the white and kraft mats and under the leaves, so they will not be mailed...or will be mailed in packages. 

Today was the first day of class, and a great day it was! Last week, after having two of my three classes canceled, I was resigned to an easy semester. Then, Friday afternoon at three o'clock, my department chair called and offered me another class. What a relief that will be this fall when we have to pay tuition to University of Cincinnati for the start of Nick's junior year. 

Sinclair tuition is being moved to UC in a very expensive shell game, but I don't want to think about that too much. Oy!

Tomorrow I shall stamp, which makes me very, very happy!

What are you doing this week that makes you very, very happy? Inquiring minds....

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


Today's birthday card was brought to you through the inspiration of THIS PIN. I wanted to make a colorful version, for a teenage girl...and think I nailed it.

Hot pink and orange are such a high-energy color combination, and the handwritten font (StampinUp) works so well with this free and easy feel. The unusual layout makes me very happy because of the tension between the curvy, loose script and the bold, straight line of orange thread. So fun!

And of course, bling. Because everything is better with bling.

I hope you all had a safe and fun New Year's Eve. We received our perfect attendance award at our friends' formal New Year's Eve party: eight years running! It's always a fun time that includes great food, conversation, games, Fruit Ninja, and watching the ball drop in Times Square.

Blessings and stampy fun to you all in the new year!


PS I'm starting a new blog for those interested in reading the classics. It was inspired by Shakespeare 2020, but my plan involves more authors and a much easier reading schedule because, you know, reading 1,400+ pages of (let's face it) challenging literature in one year seems pretty daunting. Also, I'm never reading Titus Andronicus again. Sorry, Will.

I read a LOT all the time. But it's been years since I conversed with Shakespeare or Chaucer or Homer or Austen. The literary canon--those old books that are considered "great"--is neglected these days and shouldn't be. I want to replace some of the, ahem, less-well-written books I've been reading (yes, cozy mysteries, I'm talking to you!), with meatier fare. So if you'd like to level up your reading game and have a little fun along with me, check out The Canon Resurrected: Old Books, Modern Times. I'll be posting there shortly.