Sunday, June 6, 2021

Thanks, a New Puppy, a Graduate, and Email Subscription News

So let's start with the email subscription issue. Feedburner goes defunct next week, so if you receive this blog in your email, you will no longer receive it after Feedburner shuts operations. I am researching other options and will post as soon as I do implement one of them. You will be able to re-subscribe on the new platform if you wish. 

Until then, you are invited to bookmark this blog and check in periodically. I hope to post more frequently in the coming weeks as my stamping time is, indeed, getting longer during the summer.

Now, for the new puppy. Putting Daisy to sleep was so very, very hard, and we are all still grieving that loss. She was a once-in-a-lifetime dog, so very special. Cooper became very sad, too, and we called his breeder to see if she would put us on the list for her next litter. She did better than that: she offered us a puppy she had planned on keeping for herself, a puppy who was almost old enough to go to her forever home. We named this puppy Lily.

In addition to this wonderful new puppy adventure, our son Jack graduated from high school. From riding the "special" bus to tooting his horn and heading to community college in the fall. I'm so proud of this young man!

The Springboro High School Band Program offers a scholarship every year in memory of Kyle Chowen, a former student who loved the band with his whole heart, came early, stayed late, volunteered for everything. Kyle passed away far too young, and the scholarship named after him went to Jack this year because Jack loves the band with his whole heart, too. 

This momma's heart was full. So very full. 

And now for the thanks. Thank you all for reading this little blog, for all your cards and emails and comments of support and love, especially in the past month, and for loving this hobby so much. 

Thank you. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Grief and Balm

Author Dean Koontz wrote about his grief after his golden retriever Trixie died. One day, he and his wife were walking and saw a perfect golden butterfly flying by. That butterfly sighting left them feeling at peace, as if the butterfly carried a message to them that Trixie was fine and they would be, too. 

When our golden retriever Hoover died, we told him to send us a golden butterfly, and he sent us Daisy. She was our golden butterfly for 11 years. 

In the week and a half she's been gone, the longest I've made it without crying is 24 hours. She's been by far the hardest of our dogs to grieve for. Cooper is grieving, too. After the first few days, he became mopey and sad. 

Friends of my son sent us this message:

We heard that you had lost your precious Daisy and wanted you to know that we are very sad for your loss. Many times the loss of a pet is the hardest of all as we know that they always expect their humans to make it all better and usually we can...until we cannot. Our final takeaway from them after all of their years of giving us their absolute all every minute of their short lives is that we were always in their best place to possibly be when they were with us. We were their everything and the most excellent life we lived with them is all they wanted. Their true Heaven was here on earth with us. Now, go get a puppy!

We are taking their advice. Meet our new golden butterfly.

My husband wanted a new puppy ASAP, and I contacted Cooper's breeder. She informed me that a female became available from a litter that's ready to go to their new homes this weekend. She's cuddly, sweet, and not an alpha pup. 

Miss Lilac (so-called for the color of ribbon she wears to distinguish her from her littermates) is coming to live with us the weekend after next. (This weekend is Jack's high school puppy should have to deal with that chaos!) 

Neither George nor I can picture ourselves yelling "Lilac!!!" to call her inside, so the short list of possible names includes Clover, Lily, and Magnolia. Lily is the frontrunner, simply because it's close to Lilac and might cause her less confusion. I prefer Clover because it has "love" in the middle, and George likes Magnolia because we can call her Maggie for everyday and Magnolia (with a southern accent) when we're mad at her.

It's hard right now to imagine EVER being mad at that sweet face, but after she widdles on my shoes and chews a pillow to pieces, we just might raise our voices. 

A new dog never, ever replaces a dog in our hearts. The gaping hole left by Daisy will take a very long time to heal. But little Clover/Lily/Maggie will wiggle her way into our hearts and lives in her own uniquely golden way. 

Grief is love with nowhere to go, and I think Daisy, who was the embodiment of fur-covered love, will appreciate us pouring the love she can't receive right now into this new puppy. 

Cooper will have a playmate again. 

And Daisy will wait for us like the good dog she was, is, and forever will be. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and most of all love,


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Thank You

Thank you all for your emails and comments and cards of comfort, and thank you to all who have cried with us and told me so. You have no idea how much that means to me. The empathy and compassion we've experienced in the past week have been a balm. We've loved all our dogs excessively, but Daisy was a once-in-a-lifetime dog. The loss of her will take a very long time to process. 

Today, I want to share the cards I've received. 

From Eddie

From Angela

From June

From Rachel

I'm displaying these beautiful--and meaningful--cards on our mantel next to the box of Daisy's ashes and her clay pawprint. Thank you so much. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and gratitude,


Monday, May 17, 2021

Goodbye, Daisy

Those of you who've been reading Simplicity for a loooong time might remember 2010 as the year of the Daisy. This little ray of golden sunshine entered our lives eleven years ago, shortly after our first golden retriever died of osteosarcoma. 

Look at those ears! I can still smell the puppy breath.

It wasn't too long before she looked like this.

Last Tuesday, we learned that a mass in her throat was probably melanoma and that it had likely already metastasized to her spleen. She was given two weeks but only made it to Friday night, when we drove to the emergency vet after her breathing became labored. The tumor grew so fast. It hadn't been there a month earlier.

Our beautiful Daisy has gone ahead. Our hearts are broken. This happened too fast. 

I know many of you love my dog pictures (probably more than the card pictures!). Here's one of my recent favorites of Miss Daisy, taken by my husband in our front yard. She loved soaking up the sun in the grass, wriggling on her back in the grass, and chasing Cooper in the grass. 

And here she is begging with her brother from her brother. 

And then there's this one of her cuddling up to me on the bed as I read, not-so-subtly begging for attention. Note the line of dialogue on the screen..."What a good girl!"

Daisy was the best girl, a big heart covered in fur. 

Grief is love that has nowhere to go. I don't know who said it, but it perfectly sums up how I feel. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and most of all, love,


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,