Sunday, May 31, 2020

One Set, Two Styles...and Some Thoughts

With all the conflict, tragedy, and fear out there, I've felt a strong desire to escape and revisit some long unused stamp sets, and you'll see the results of these escapist visits with old friends over the next few days.

StampinUp's Nature Walk is such a lovely set, one of the first cling sets I bought from them. It's vintage-y, so my first card reflects that...along with a whole lot of white space on a 3 3/4" x 7 1/4" card.

The squares were punched with a 1" punch after coloring with watercolor pencils and stippling. After punching, I sponged the edges to make the squares pop off the white background more. 

Coloring with watercolor pencils is super easy. Since I use a water pen, very little water gets on the paper...just enough to move the pigment from the pencils around. No need to use watercolor paper.

After wallowing in vintage style, I wanted to do something completely different. The multiple matting is cut for +1/8", +1/2", and +5/8" larger than the stamped panel. The skinny, wider, skinny matting adds a touch of elegance to the card, I think.

I used Memento markers and dewdrop ink pads to color the stamps. The stem was spritzed lightly with water to blend the marker colors.

If you're not interested in devotions or hearing my thoughts on the state of the nation, feel free to click away.

I hope you're all safe in mind, body, and spirit today. While my body thankfully remains healthy so far, my spirit is deeply troubled and being moved. I'm scheduled to give another devotional on Friday this week (see the past ten devotional recordings and this week's upcoming five--every day at 9:30 a.m. EDST--at First United Methodist Church of Springboro's Facebook Page).

I'm not sure what exactly I'll talk about Friday, but it's likely going to be about listening to others' stories, unity, and the dangers of division. Divisive people are "self-condemned," as Paul says in his letter to Titus.

A friend shared THIS ARTICLE on white privilege this morning. So many people misunderstand the term; if you're feeling attacked or accused of white privilege and thus defensive, then this article might help you put it in perspective.

Several people unsubscribed from Simplicity within 24 hours of my posting "Ask, Seek, Knock." I get it. When I stated my support of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy, people unsubscribed as of which quite surprised me as we've had a very cordial relationship through stamping for over 15 years. Some people prefer their stamping without a side of commentary, especially when that commentary expresses opinions they disagree with.

But I hope that those who see the deepening divisions in this country want to learn how we can heal them, build bridges, grow and learn how to create a country that honors all people, regardless of faith, nationality, race, ethnicity, or identity. This sort of growth is uncomfortable, and we need to be still and listen, open our hearts and minds with compassion and an earnest desire to do better.

This is a stamping blog, and I'm not going to start preaching every post. But the way things stand right now, silence benefits the status quo. And the status quo sucks.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love for everyone,

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Ask, Seek, Knock

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” --Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Today's card speaks to me right now.

Asking for justice, peace, equity, and kindness...seeking them in and for all people...knocking on the hardened hearts of those who defend power and privilege and dismiss the realities of and their complicity in racism.

When will we acknowledge and value our shared humanity, the fact that we are all beloved children of God?

To my white readers, we white people need to stop whining that "all lives matter." Of course they do. That's missing the point entirely. We need to focus on the lives who are marginalized, who walk in fear where we don't, who suffer a million little cuts of racism each and every day that we will never feel. We have to say black lives matter because, on a fundamental level in this country, they don't matter the same. We need to own that, and change our hearts and behavior and the systems of our nation accordingly. Most of all, we need to listen and learn how to do better. 

To my readers of color, after staring at this screen for ten minutes trying to decide what to type, there just aren't any more adequate words that the ones I end each post with. I'm truly sorry.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Love-Bird Postage

A simple little love postage card. I put two birds on it!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Circles, Lines, and Postage...Oh My!

Today's post focuses on a fabulous color scheme of mostly aquas, but I varied the layouts with circles, lines, and faux postage. All three cards use Papertrey's Peaceful Garden set. Lovin' them all!

First up, circles.

Then, a straight line, with a tad of sponging to define the line better. I added Hero Arts Soft Pool to the aquas...a lovely, complementary color combination.

Finally, my favorite (if I had to pick one, just because Postage Infinity Dies are my favorite right now).

The butterfly was punched from some light green vellum that wasn't quite the right shade, so I sponged ink onto it to give it a bit more definition. I also masked the edges of the postage die cut with post-its and layered two identical die cuts to add some depth. I wanted to add a sentiment but couldn't bring myself to mess with the simplicity of the layout. It's kind of perfect...or I'm a coward. Whatever.

Such peaceful colors...perfectly in keeping with the Peaceful Garden images.

What brings you peace these days?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Wine-y Postage

I love sipping big, bold, chewy red wine, so a dear friend of mine gave me this glass, which is quite the joke because what you see in the glass is about what I drink on normal nights. I confess that quarantine has me drinking two of these a night, which means I might hit the "small glass" mark.

I'm a cheap drunk. If I drank all the way to the "Susan's glass" mark, I'd be plastered. Haven't done that since I was 21 and got drunk talking with my sister on the phone. We were both dealing with things, and the drinking was her idea. She's a bad influence. Younger sisters. What's a girl to do?

One and done, lesson learned, as far as I was concerned. Wow. That was a long time ago!

So I wanted to send this dear friend a quarantine card, and this happened. I can't really explain sort of evolved organically. But I really like it!

I pulled out some pigment inks, which I haven't used in probably a year. The Merlot is Impress Fresh Ink and is simply gorgeous. I don't have a dye ink that's even close to it, although SU cherry cobbler is close...but a bit too brown.

What are you drinking in the quarantine? In addition to my nightly wine, I have been drinking gallons of coffee. So. Much. Coffee. Plus, my firstborn has an espresso machine and makes me daily lattes. More coffee. Yummy!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Nature Journal

Papertrey's Traveler's Journal: Field Notes is a pretty set, and I had fun making two very different cards with it.

The first builds on the circle cards I've been making lately, inspired by a number of beauties on Pinterest.

The centers of the daisies were colored with watercolor pencils.

Size: 6 1/4" x 3 1/2"

The second card takes advantage of the left-justified quotation and the marvelous symmetry of butterflies.

Size: 7 1/4" x 3 3/4"

The butterfly was colored with colored pencil.

I hope you are staying healthy and sane in our world-wide situation. I tried to stamp today and hit a wall. Very frustrating. But I do very much want the new Speckled Egg Distress ink from Ranger. Maybe that will fix my funk!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Same Layout, Different Looks...and a PS of Dog Pictures

Today's post, like Sunday's, shows three different cards, but no circles. Well, unless you count bling.

First up, an elegant card with multiple mats. The branch stamp from Hero Arts is a wood-mounted beauty that came out years ago. It's got lovely flow, doesn't it?

I mentioned a few posts back that my two label sentiment sets were either too big or too small...I need a Goldilocks set that's just right. Well, after looking around, I didn't find anything to meet the need. Which convinced me that this is most definitely a first-world problem and I need to stop complaining about it. The three cards today use the set from Mama Elephant called Occasional Labels.

It's just right for these three cards.

After elegant came cute.

The butterflies are from Hero Arts and the grass is from Papertrey's Peaceful Garden set. I colored the butterflies with colored pencils and then sponged green ink in the grass to give more definition to the bottom of the raised panel.

Finally, well, I'm not even sure what to call this third card. Minimalist?

The ink is a dark gray, and the Stickles is magenta. The plant stamp is from Peaceful Garden, and the butterfly is from Martha Stewart punch. The die (from a set) was given to me by Eva...such a sweet and generous soul!

These variations on the same layout show that details matter and can change the whole look of a card.

I hope this post finds you all healthy and coping, perhaps even thriving in our weird new world. My main mental health self-care has involved ruthlessly limiting news exposure, actively seeking out comedy (cute dog videos, Parks and Recreation, Bloom County on Facebook, etc.), stamping, and reaching out to my friends and family. Around the house, I find myself wearing noise-canceling headphones with a jazz playlist to block my younger son's movies, older son's video games, and husband's conference calls. I also listen to Brene Brown's podcasts and am reading quite a lot.

This Friday, however, I'll be trying something totally new. My church has decided to offer morning devotionals led by different people--pastors and lay people--each weekday morning. I volunteered to do a Facebook Live devotional this Friday. If you would like to add a little peace and encouragement to your mornings, check the First United Methodist of Springboro Facebook page  at 9:30 a.m. EDST Monday-Friday.

Yesterday's video is available and features Pastor Amy Haines. Today's featuree our Pastor of Adult Discipleship Doug Dean. The two others for this week are Certified Lay Ministers Jennifer Fry and David Finney. All of us but Pastor Amy are noobs to the whole video devotional thing, but we all have hearts for Jesus and will do our best. If you bear with us, I assure you we will all get better as time goes on!

I find my reactions to and self-care for this crisis keep changing as time stretches out. What are you doing for self-care as we move into our third month of COVID-19 mitigation? Has your response changed? For better or worse?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

PS Several people have mentioned they miss seeing our dogs. Daisy's tenth birthday was yesterday. She's the good dog, 95% of the time. Cooper will be three in July. He's the good dog about 60% of the time.

The morning mooch:
"You has toast. We has no toast."

Cooper should be named Olaf...

...because he likes warm hugs...

...and always does the happ.

Nick took this gorgeous picture of Daisy. 

Slut puppy always ready for a belly rub. Both dogs
seriously need a trip to the groomer!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Inspiration Is for Squares

Or maybe circles. You be the judge.

First of all, THIS CARD  by Franka Thorenz totally caught my eye on Pinterest. It's both adorable and elegant. *happy sigh*

So I my first effort was a fairly literal version of the inspiration piece.

The vine turned out a bit different than expected. I'd inked the stamp (Papertrey's Turning a New Leaf) with Arteza watercolor brush pens, brushing the light green all over and then tapping on the darker shades. My spritz didn't really have enough water to blend the colors very well, but I sort of liked the mottled effect and continued to build the card around it.

By the way, I had to retrieve a bunch of large circle punches from cold storage to make these cards because my order from Hero Arts with the infinity circle dies hasn't arrived yet. Kudos to Hero Arts for staying open as they can right now. My gratitude enables my patience in waiting for the order. At least they are trying, which is all any of us can do under these trying circumstances!

And at least I have circle punches to work in the meantime. Who says having a hoard is a bad thing? Not I!

Anyway, I liked the results of my first effort but kept going.

The second effort felt a bit more like LateBlossom to me. In my search for stamps for a second version, I found this wreath from Simon Says. It gently begged to be used, and I'm so glad I did...even if it took me pretty far from the inspiration piece.

I colored with three different shades of green Copics, randomly scattering the colors around the wreath for a bit of dimensional effect. Then, using a Sakura stardust pen, I added some shimmer to the dots.

Finally, the last square inspiration (or is it circle inspiration? Does it matter?). This one is my favorite. The inspiration piece is much more evident here, although the architecture of it is greatly simplified with masking rather than cutting the top circle. I added a thin mat...cut using a Creative Memories Circle Cutter because the punches gave too much border (see card #2).

This set, also from Simon Says, is one of my favorites. The leaves were deliberately stamped a bit askew to add some whimsy. Since I didn't have cardstock to match the Hero Arts soft apricot ink for the punched leaf, I stamped a shadow stamp onto white cardstock and then punched it to create a perfectly matching visual triangle of the apricot, unifying the top third and bottom two thirds of the card.

Many thanks to Franka Thorenz and her beautiful inspiration card. I couldn't have made these three cards without it!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Wednesday, May 13, 2020


And I'm not talking about the weight you have gained since the quarantine because every time you walk by the candy bowl, you eat three or four Hershey's Kisses.

Or maybe that's just me.

Anyway, I pulled out my Peerless watercolors and covered a large piece of watercolor paper with blocks of colors...yellows, oranges, and pink. After the paint dried, I cut the blocks into sizes that would fit through my Cuttlebug and die cut a bunch of Tim Holtz wildflowers.

These two cards are the best results. They demonstrate the difference in design weight a sentiment can carry.

The label sentiment above is (to my eyes) ever so slightly too heavy for the card, but my other label sentiment set would have been too small and visually wimpy for the card. Perhaps I should have just used a one-word label sentiment like "thanks" or "hello."

This just goes to show that you can NEVER have too many sentiment sets. I'm going shopping for an in-between label set as soon as I finish this post. Ah!

The second sentiment, which is an old, old, old PSX stamp, is perfect for graduation cards that don't look like graduation cards. The idea to stamp it on vellum came from several cards I saw on Pinterest. For stamping on vellum, I recommend StazOn ink, which I rarely use. I forgot how good it smells.

Did I type that out loud? Really, just say no to ink sniffing. No good ever came of it.

Just like no good ever came from Hershey's Kisses.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and exercise,

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Bee Happy

Have you ever had the experience of commenting on social media--about something you are expert on--and having someone make an ignorant response? Then, you kindly and reasonably try to educate the ignoramus because ignorance is fixable? Then, you realize the ignoramus wants to be ignorant (which is just stupid, which isn't fixable at all)?

Will I ever learn? Who's the stupid one here?

That's a rhetorical question.

Anyway, today's card makes me feel much better because it's so gosh darn cute. It was inspired by this card by Mia, and you can see the influence quite clearly.

The bee-themed stamps are from Hero Arts, and the script is PTI. The ink is Distress. The card is 3 3/4" x 7 1/4"...a great size that fits into a standard envelope I bought at Marco's Paper.

This color makes me want to eat a spoonful of honey. Yummy!

I hope you are all staying safe and well. Ohio is starting to open up, which brings a lot of stress and worry with it. But today is my husband's birthday, so we're eating rib eye steaks and pretending everything is normal!

We all need some pretend in our lives. And I'm going to pretend that I really can change someone's mind on social media. One day. Today is not that day.

Bzzz, bzzz.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and birthday cake,

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Celebrating the End of a Very Weird Semester

Wow. That was weird. I learned so much transferring instruction from face-to-face to online. Mostly, I learned I don't like online teaching.

So that's something.

A few weeks ago, in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep, I made a series of three cards using distress inks: peacock feathers and mermaid lagoon, with a little mowed lawn thrown in for good measure. (At least, I think those were the was a few weeks ago and very late at night.)

The three cards are very different, but I adore them all because this color combo makes me incredibly happy...sort of like turning in final grades made me happy! Yay!

First up, I created a background for the first two cards using the watercolor technique. Then, I punched confetti using an EK Success confetti punch (of course) and assembled this pretty mosaic with sequins.

The sentiment seemed deeply appropriate.

As you can see, I snapped the photo before the glue dried.

The second card used a smallish rectangle of the background for, well, a background.

The dandelion die is from Tim Holtz.

The final card has a totally different vibe...very crisp and clean. I used the MISTI to repeat stamp to get a dense color from the distress inks, and I adore how fun and colorful the results are!

So let's celebrate! I'm celebrating turning in final grades...and the wonderful success of many of my students in an incredibly stressful time. What do you want to celebrate right now? Because we need to share our joys, even if they are small or perhaps hard to spot in the quarantine we're in. We need to share our sorrows, too, but let's save that for another post.

What do you want to celebrate?

(And which card is your favorite of the three? Inquiring minds, and all that.)

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and health,