Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Love and a Winner

 For my impromptu Advent-in-April, I've crafted hope and peace, and now it's time for love. 

I think I'm sending this to our pastor, who will be leaving us in June to become a district superintendent in another district of our church. She's an amazing administrative leader and will be fantastic in her new post. One of her favorite sayings is, "God loves you, and there's nothing you can do about it!" 

And now for our winner. Many thanks to those who left comments, and our random winner is Joann!

Joann1964April 19, 2021 at 10:05 AM
Beautiful card! Love the happy colors! His Peace has sustained me in these last six months since I lost Darrel. Some days are harder than others but Joy does come to me in some part of every day. I also am a member of Peace Lutheran.

Joann, please email me at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com with your snail mail address so I can send you a piece of peace!

Hope, peace, love, and joy,


No More Email Subscriptions

I received notice that Feedburner will cease its email subscription service very soon. If anyone knows of a free feed subscription service, please let me know. I researched all this several years ago, and the available offerings then were just too expensive since I don't monetize this blog. 

If you want to follow Simplicity on Facebook, search for Simplicity by Lateblossom. I link all blog posts  there.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sending You Peaceful Vibes

It might be spring right now in the northern hemisphere, but I can't get Advent off my mind. The four themes for Advent are peace, hope, love, and joy. Yesterday, my card was about hope. Today, we're diving into peace.

There wasn't much peace, actually, during the nativity, except perhaps in Mary's heart. I've heard that peace isn't the absence of conflict but an inner serenity during it. If we can connect with peace--whether we call that peace the Prince of Peace or not--deep in our soul, it doesn't really matter what is going on outside us. 

That's the peace I seek to cultivate...and fail daily at. Oh, my! Stress just sneaks in around the edges and keeps me up at night. My dentist mentioned what he calls the COVID grind; he's made a lot of money in the past year fixing teeth broken by nighttime grinding. 

I wear a bite guard at night because my grind started long before COVID was a thing. No matter how many times I repeat the mantra "give it to God and go to sleep," I just can't get there most nights. The peace that passes understanding rises in me occasionally (thank you, Jesus), but rarely at night when I need it most. 

Maybe this resonates with your own experience. I HOPE not; I hope you give it to God or the universe and go to sleep in peace each night. But if not, then maybe this post and today's card will help you feel not alone. We are never alone. 

I'll pick a random commenter to receive this card in the mail. Wherever in the world you are. Comment before midnight, EDST on Tuesday, April 20, either on the blog post or on this post on Facebook. Share what's keeping you from peace or what brings you peace...whatever you need to share. 

Peace, hope, love, and joy,


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Hope Springs Eternal

Things I am grateful for:

Second Pfizer vaccine received, just one more week of quarantine.

The Calm app.

All the donors to Karen's Card Shop.



Today's card was inspired by our drive back from Cincinnati after receiving our second vaccine. We'd had lunch with our son who's at University of Cincinnati, and it was a rather dreary, drippy day. Along one stretch of I-71, the trees had leafed out in so many different shades of green. 

Green symbolizes hope. So many shades of hope. 

We are searching for a new house and have found one we love. Not sure it will happen, but I hope. (And since this is a crafty blog, I'll add that my craft room will be AMAZING if we can make this deal work.)

I hope. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Black Hole and Gratitude

February/March have been one long black hole event horizon. My mom got sick--very sick--and for about two weeks all I could do when I wasn't teaching was worry about her and my sister caring for her. I hadn't had my shots yet, and she'd only had one, so going to see her in Maryland wasn't an option. COVID sucks.

My house is a wreck, but my students are learning. There's something therapeutic about knowing that. Work has, in many ways, kept me sane.

Stamping isn't happening hardly at all right now, and I totally dropped the ball with acknowledging the awesome contributions to Karen's Card Shop. Today, I finally got thank-you notes written for almost all the donations. Muchas gracias to the following (many of whom are repeat donors!):

  • Tammy F.
  • Kelle S.
  • Charlotte A.
  • Carol V.
  • Deborah L.
  • Beverly Y.
  • Karen Mc.
  • Patti M.
  • Anne A.
  • Eddie VRD
  • Mick J.

Eleven people from ten states. Much love and appreciation to each and every person who's ever donated to Karen's. 

This isn't even all of them, y'all!

Mom is doing a bit better, and she got her second shot Saturday as I was getting my first. Soon, I'll have a chance to go see her. Thank you, God. 

My younger son graduates from high school in a few months. We are trying to teach him to drive. 

And my husband wants a new house, so we're shopping. 


God is good, all the time and most especially in black hole event horizons. The list of names above proves it. Receiving your packages in the last two months has filled my heart with gratitude and deep appreciation for this wonderful hobby and the wonderful people who throw their hearts and skill into it. 

Blessings from the black hole. We'll get through this.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and gratitude,


Thursday, February 25, 2021

So Much Gratitude

 Stampers really are the best!

In addition to the earlier packages, I've received donations from Carol V., Charlotte, Karen M., Tammy, Deborah, and Kelle. 

It feels like Christmas around here!

The previous batch of cards is at the church already, and I will package these with envelopes in the cello bags over my spring break in early March. 

Endless gratitude from First United Methodist Church. Seriously, y'all. We are so grateful for each and every card. 

Next time I restock the shop, I'll take a picture. In a re-decoration fit last year, someone painted our display case black. The cards really pop against the black backdrop now, and it looks lovely. 

Blessings to you all. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Lenten Thoughts

 If you are interested, I've posted on my faith-based blog, Transforming Common Days

Just some thoughts about Lent in times such as these.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and gratitude,


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Mixed Feelings

So things have been pretty bad for many, many people in the past two weeks. Between the normal tragedies of life to pandemic, weather, and infrastructure failures, people are struggling all over this world. I'm gonna call it like I see it right now, and send this card out to all who need their feeling of frustration, anger, hurt, or grief validated. I see you. 

This sucks. I am so sorry. 

But I am also so very grateful for the outpouring of cards for Karen's Card Shop. Over 160 beautiful cards have already come in from Beverly, Sue, Paula, Carol, Cheryl, Pat, and June. 

The second batch...

June had already put her donations in cello bags with envelopes, so I packaged up the rest and sorted them today. Wow. 

Just wow. 

I am truly overwhelmed and deeply appreciate each of these cards. They will be put in stock Monday, and I know they will sell like hotcakes. Stampers are the best people!

Blessings to everyone who is struggling and to everyone who is giving to the hurting world right now. 

From an overflowing heart,


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Sending All My Love

It's been a weird weather week in the United States, and my thoughts are with those in areas not equipped to deal with winter weather mess. I grew up in the south, have lived in the north, live in the mid-west, and know the struggle. Big hugs and lots of prayers to all!

My request for cards for Karen's Card Shop is already being answered by four amazing people: Beverly, Sue, Paula, and Carol. A number of others have said they are sending cards as well. What a generous bunch of people stampers are!

Such wonderful cards from everyone!

Muchas gracias! Y'all are awesome!

I'm slipping into my southern accent in solidarity with those snowed in without shovels and plows....

So, y'all just would not believe it, but today's card began with an attempt to CASE a card on Pinterest (can't remember which one) that was a lot more involved. After fussing around for about an hour, this happened...a retreat to my happy place of super-minimalist joy. Ahhhhh.

And that's all I have to say about that. Stay safe, stay warm, and wear your masks!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and kindness,

Saturday, February 6, 2021

A Request

Okay, talented and generous card-makers! Many of you have contributed cards to my church's card shop, and if you want to send more, we surely will appreciate them! If you're unfamiliar with the story behind Karen's Card Shop, please click the link. Karen was an amazing woman and friend, and the card shop is the PERFECT way to remember her giving spirit.

Although our worship attendance is quite low as a result of the precautions on worship services, the preschool and before/after-school care in our church has been fully functioning. Karen's Card Shop has kept up a slower but steady business. I got an email this week from the church secretary asking me to restock since the teachers were asking for more cards. As I restocked on Friday, I realized that we are short on the following types of cards:

  • Birthday
  • Get Well
  • Sympathy
  • Thinking of You
  • Friendship/Love 

We still have a LOT of thank-you cards. Oddly, faith-based cards don't sell well, nor holiday-themed cards. 

I will, as always, provide envelopes. 

If you feel called to support our efforts, email me at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com, and I will send you my snail mail address. 

I've been making birthday cards for my family and friends, and this one made me so very happy!

Only need a few more to finish my own needs, and then I will concentrate on making cards for Karen's Card Shop. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and kindness,


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Getting There...Eventually

So tell me if this sounds familiar. 

You see a stamp set. It's by a company you love. It's got the four words of Advent that you've been looking for for forever (they always leave out hope, for some reason). It's got an owl, fox, and bunny. It's got some tiny mushrooms and a stump. It's got some snowflakes. But most importantly, it's got a TREE...and you just can't say no to trees of any sort. Bonus: the images are block stamps so no coloring. 

Everything about this set screamed "BUY ME!"

So I did. 

And then I proceeded to make a bunch of pretty trash with it. 


In a fit of pique, I die cut a circle from a trash panel. Then another. 

And after ruining a whole bunch of paper and wasting a whole bunch of ink....

Be still, my heart. 

This card makes me so happy. And so grateful to have discovered the European stampers who taught me to play with circles. 

The set is Winter Tree and Animals from Hero Arts. The sentiment is an old Gina K stamp, I think. And this will be this year's birthday card for my hipster son who wears plaid flannel, suspenders, and a beanie. He's the young fox, and I'm the wise old owl he never listens to. 

He's going to love it!

Peace, love, joy, and HOPE, 


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Big Love

 I rarely go big and bold, but today's valentine does just that...and I love it BIG!

Oh, dear. Was that last sentence salacious? Maybe I should say, "I like big hearts, and I cannot lie." Is that better?

This big heart was made by cutting a stencil with a big heart die from Hero Arts Infinity Heart Dies set and sponging Distress picked raspberry onto a panel. The alphabet stamps are from Art Warehouse. I like how they appear to quiver. 

Oh, dear, again. Quivering love. I might have watched too much Bridgerton

Mercy, grace, peace, and non-quivering love, 


Saturday, January 23, 2021

My Purple Valentine

Today's card was so much fun to make, but once I finished it, I wondered why I stamped the colors and then die cut instead of just using colored cardstock. It's a mystery.

Oh, wait. I made this card at 1:00 a.m. after waking up and being unable to fall back asleep. My brain gets wonky at 1:00 a.m.

What crafty gifts did you receive (or buy for yourself) for Christmas? I have a little Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket and would appreciate some ideas!

And several people have asked for pictures of Cooper since I posted pictures of Daisy. I threw in a Daisy pic as well. Poor Daisy had surgery on Thursday. She's fine, but weird places are shaved, and she looks like she has a black eye (cyst removed from eyelid). These pics are from last weekend (pre-surgery, obviously) when we had a little snow. 


"Play with me, Daisy!"

Alert Dog

Zen Cooper

Mercy, grace, peace, love, civil discourse, and kindness,


Saturday, January 16, 2021

Clean and Simple

Yesterday's free-form card gives way today to a tidy design that warms my clean-and-simple lovin' heart. 

Or perhaps it satisfies my inner an*l-retentive, obsessive-compulsive neat freak. Whatever.

The row of circles comes from the same set I used yesterday. These heart bling fits perfectly, and I used 7 circles of the stamp on purpose because I only had three of the dark pink hearts. The odd number looks great and anchors the sentiment. 

And speaking of love, our Daisy girl is having surgery next week to remove a couple of growths (benign but bothersome) and to have her teeth cleaned (no known problems other than a fair bit of tartar). Tonight, we are getting snow, and she made a nest on our big chair. 

One night last week, we ate while watching A Big Year. You might think Daisy was enjoying the film, but in fact she's begging Nick to share his food. Daisy "The Mooch" Raihala. 

Goldens are awesome. And the movie is really good, too. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and kindness,


Thursday, January 14, 2021


My son, niece, nephew, cousin, and young friend who attend college will get care packages for Valentines again this year. And of course they will each get a card. I do enjoy making valentines and have some excellent stamp sets for them. My birthday order from Simon Says Stamp included their Mix and Match Circles set, which is proving to be loads of fun, not to mention useful for valentines! 

Each stamp got its own shade of red or pink (although I did use the Archival pink peony twice). Golly, I have a lot of pink and red inks...didn't even use half of them!

Can one ever have too many ink colors? 

No. One can never have too many ink colors. What a silly question.

On an unrelated subject, I recently watched Bridgerton on Netflix. A smile involuntarily stayed on my face through the whole thing, even parts where smiling was likely deeply inappropriate. I do love a good Regency-era love story. And the duke...he is easy on the eye, is he not? The series is frivolous and oh-so-fun escapist pablum, which is just what we need right now as the pandemic stretches on and on and on. 

What escapism are you pursuing now? Inquiring minds want to know.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and kindness,


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Week 1 in the Books...and Thoughts on Self-Talk

My first two days of class went very well. Yay! For the next week, I'll be doing more lesson planning for units 3-5, and I adore lesson planning! My Mon/Wed schedule means no class until next Wednesday because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday. 

Wow, do we need that holiday to remind us who we are, how far we have come, and--dear Lord help us--how far we have to go. 

After my second class today, I went for a walk in the brisk Ohio air (fresh air is good for the soul!) and hit my craft desk to play with a new set from Hero Arts called Winter Tree and Animals. 

So much paper ended up in the trash!!!! The frustration was palpable, and I felt my grip on patience slipping. "Should you just go read? Sheesh. This is too hard. Dang it! Ugh. You will never stamp anything pretty again. Arrrggghhh!!!!!!"

Y'all, catastrophizing is not normally my thing, but this afternoon, I went there. Thankfully, mindfulness kicked in, and self-talk shifted: "Susan, you are catastrophizing. This is only paper. Remember that you do this for fun, honey, and you can let the frustration go."

And I did. Just like that, the frustration evaporated. 

This is one reason I meditate and practice mindfulness daily. Mind your self-talk because when it goes negative, it gets in the way of creativity, of fun, of mental health. Acknowledge it, and let it go before it sinks you.

Then, this happened.

Yeah, the circles are back. But this works for me. Scenes, alas, rarely work out for me. The circles were die cut from a failed scene. These stamps are fairly large, so the scene was large. There wasn't a strong sense of perspective for depth with only white space, and no way was I going to sponge or paint or watercolor some background to make it work. Circles, however, gave me an idea. I realized they make me happy (in part) because they remind me of bubbles, and bubbles are so much fun!

And let me point out this is a PERFECT guy birthday card which I made without even intending to. So I've got that going for me. 

If you're a fan of Dear Paperlicious and missed Joan's most recent post about her lawyer days in legal aid, go read it. There is compassion on about fifty levels in her essay, and that warmed my heart. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and kindness,


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Happy Flowers

 After I spent multiple 10-hour days sitting at my computer putting my spring semester classes together, a professor friend of mine posted this perfect meme:

Look how happy the Good Dog is! That's been me as I take lessons learned teaching virtually last semester and apply them to this semester's English Composition II courses. The world might be burning down around us, but many teachers, instructors, and professors are doing their best to pull. something. together! Yay, us!

And that's all I'm going to say about the chaos. Let's escape it into a creative bubble, shall we?

After spending about six hours today putting final touches on my first two units, I sat down at my craft desk and made this card, inspired by this pin by Kim. Chartreuse and purple again, in one layer with bling. Oh, my!

I'm in birthday-card-making mode. Got to get 2021 organized. The rest of my day will be spent taking down Christmas decorations (very late for us, but I'm apathetic about it this year). The family also plans a thank-you-note writing session either tonight or tomorrow. Old-fashioned and important, especially in these uncivil times.

Be the civility you want to see in the world. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and kindness,


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

More Circles...This Time with Bling

 So this beautiful pin by Katrin totally inspired my post on New Year's Eve, and I forgot to credit it. And it also inspired today's card with a pretty little floral stem from Papertrey. As much as I loved the NYE card, this one is closer to my heart and style. White on white, some texture, some bling, a butterfly. 

And once again, I'm loving the subtle textile embossing folder from StampinUp. It's just perfect for adding that little bit of interest to white-on-white.

Wednesday, I have a Zoom meeting with the English department to make my virtual course comply with online teaching standards. My brain felt completely overwhelmed today after watching some tutorials for the faculty boot camp. Then, I reminded myself that it's all good, we'll be fine, and my classes will be good enough because, well, I'm good enough. That horrible monster of perfectionism can go back to its cave.

So I played Bananagrams to relax and distract myself, and made some pretty cool words...balm for my word-nerdy soul. Quaff, diode, whey, banns, doobie...so fun! And I promise no doobies were involved, although the same cannot be said of wine. 

What do you do when you start overwhelmed? For me, playing with words, reading, or going for a walk are go-to moves. Prayer helps, too. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and kindness,

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Fun with Type

I am a sucker for a pretty font, and Papertrey's Botanical Lowercase struck me as extremely clean and useful. 

It is.

For these two cards, I used full 4.25" x 5.5" panels and started stamping with the a, slightly overlapping each successive letter. One panel ended up being spot-on middle, and the other was off slightly. I just trimmed so the sentiment was  middling...an advantage to starting with a larger panel.

Obviously, these color combinations are outside my normal one- or two-color schemes. I started with color combos from Pinterest and adapted to inks I had. There was a third combination that I didn't like, so it went in the recycling. 

Remember. It's only paper. 

And now I'm off to write thank you notes for Christmas presents. What was your favorite Christmas present you received? 

For me, it's a tie between the Nook replacement George got me (an Android cellular tablet!) and the knitted wrap my sister made me. George knew my Nook (the original Nook Tablet from over a decade ago) was on its last electrons. The horror!!! After a bit of research, he learned that Barnes and Noble is doing a lousy job with their Nooks, so he went to the AT&T store (only place with tablets left in stock), discovered that we qualified for a military discount on our cellular bill, and so saved us a BUNCH of money on our monthly bill while getting me the perfect gift at the same time. Love that man!

I've worn the wrap nearly every day since Christmas. It's like getting a nice, long hug from my sissy. Love that woman!

Your turn. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and kindness,


Saturday, January 2, 2021

More Paper and Ink

This return to paper and ink is making me very happy.

Today's card riffs off the idea that angles love curves. The card looked rather boring with just the circle, and I kept trying to add more circles (as with the card card on my last post). I also fiddled around unsuccessfully with a sentiment strip. 

Nothing quite worked until I took a rectangular scrap of embossed paper and threw it down behind the circle. It anchors the design very subtly and keeps the focus on the flower. And then I found an old sentiment from a Technique Tuesday set that fit perfectly on the circle. The angles of the sentiment work pretty well, and I love how it looks like the flower frond is "presenting" the sentiment...voila!

And let's pause just a minute to appreciate the color combo of violet and chartreuse. It crackles with energy and somehow radiates harmony at the same time, at least to my eye. So happy!

Thank you all for sticking with me through the years. If there's one thing that's remained steady and true through all the chaos and mess, it's that stampy people are awesome and cement my faith in humanity! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and kindness,