Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Post-Op Report

Yesterday was quite the adventure. The cancer is out of me (yay!) and only one lymph node needed to be removed (yay!). I'm feeling okay today, just sore and tired. 

The highlight of my day yesterday was having two radiologists argue over who would inject the tracer into my boob. Both wanted to do it. The one who did my biopsy won, and then apologized for having to stick more needles in me. But he was fast, efficient, and got it done!

Everything about this journey is weird, including the blue pee that results from the tracer clearing my system. Someone really ought to warn patients about that one.

Now, the focus is on recovery from the surgery so we can start radiation. Spectacular. 

So today's card is in honor of all the many, many people who have supported me thus far...friends, family, doctors, nurses, technicians, pastors, counselors, and so forth. My card was inspired by THIS Beautiful PIN. Mary Ann's card is gorgeous, so I did some minor tweaks to make it all about a butterfly. Also, square cards in the US require extra postage, so I went with standard A2 size. 

The butterfly and leafy stem dies are from Tim Holtz, the crimper is from Fiskars, and the stamp is from Simon Says. The butterfly was cut from a piece of watercolor paper with a wash of Twinkling H2Os. You can see a bit of the shimmer in the close-up photo. 

I colored the clear rhinestones with a Copic marker to match. 

What a great layout from Mary Ann! I'm going to play with it again.

Many thanks are also due to the fabulously talented Eddie, who sent a box of cards to Karen's Card Shop last week! They are already packaged and at the church, ready to sell. 

In anticipation of recovery, I placed a largish order with Ellen Hutson last week. When the shipment arrives, I should be finished with the "good" drugs and therefore safe to wield an Exacto knife again. 


Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Sunday, August 28, 2022


Texture, bubbles, and cheers! My husband's birthday card, which I believe I forgot to post many months ago:

The man loves beer. And I love easy-to-use layered stamps.

Five circles zig-zag down the strip of textured cardstock, and a wide vellum strip conveys the sentiment. The card design plays around with circles and straight lines, wavy and smooth and textured cardstock, and foregrounds the beer because that was the most important part of the card.

At least as far as my husband was concerned. 

Tuesday, August 30, is the big day. The tumor will go bye-bye, along with a few lymph nodes. In a few weeks, we will have the final pathology report. Assuming clear margins and no lymph node involvement, I'll begin radiation in mid-October. So yay!

Many thanks for all the good wishes, prayers, cards, and such. I've no idea how I'll feel this week, but I'll update you as soon as I can. Please show grace if I blather-post under the influence of excellent painkillers. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and the joy of modern medicine,


Friday, August 26, 2022

Happy Accident

So back in July, in the depths of worry about what that lump was in my breast, I did a little prescribed retail therapy and bought a jar of White Pearl Hero Paste from Simon Says Stamp, along with a few other goodies. 

Why I bought the paste remains a mystery. I've tried mixed media stuff before and decided it wasn't for me. But all those pretty cards on Pinterest using stencils (I have a drawer full of those) and paste called to me. I thought maybe I could make a subtle background that would enhance my cards, well, subtly. 

I'm all about adding interest subtly.

So my first experiment involved a Tim Holtz stencil that I'd used before with a blue distress ink and not cleaned...this is important. 

Guess what happens when you use White Pearl Hero Paste on a stencil you forgot to clean? 

There's nothing exactly subtle about this background. You can see how the blue ink settled unevenly in the bubbles. That's interesting! The effect made me think of aquarium bubbles, which made me think of the Newport Aquarium, which reminded me that my son's birthday was coming up and for the 18th year in a row, I'm taking him to what he used to call "the Blue Fish Museum." 

And through this happy accident and associative thought process, a card was born. 

Because of my distracted state of mind, it took about a week to put this together, and the results lack my usual white space, but I doubt Jack cares about that. He's going to the Blue Fish Museum, which is what he does for his birthday. And the card will remind him of that. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and happy accidents,


Thursday, August 25, 2022

Pretty Paper, the Joy of Receiving, and Karen's Card Shop

I rarely use patterned paper, but several years ago, my Aunt Sylvia gave me some beautiful papers from her trip to Japan. This piece is just so pretty I let it carry the card!

The happy banner was die-cut from another one of the Japanese papers, which I included on the inside of the card. Isn't the gold in both papers just lovely?

I sent this card to my Aunt Sylvia for her birthday. She loved it! And that, my friends, is why we do this crazy, obsessive, colorful make people happy. 

The cards are pouring in for me, and I'm so very appreciative for each and every one of them. I display them on the wet bar so when I'm sitting at my desk or walking past it a million times a day, I get to look on their loveliness! 

The printed one that says "We're really sorry..." came from my pastor's wife and daughter, along with a gift of button-up-the-front pajamas. Inside, it says, "...that your boobs are trying to kill you." I couldn't stop laughing because it's so true! Sheesh. I've taken such good care of the girls, and now they betray me like this. Ungrateful wretches!

Laughter is the best medicine. 

You'll also see some handmade cards that were purchased at Karen's Card Shop and sent to me from friends at church!

I'm also ever so grateful to those who've sent cards to Karen's Card Shop. The very kind and generous Joan B sent a HUGE stash of gorgeous cards, as well as a box of soup, rolls, and cookies from We will enjoy that meal tonight, and some of her cards are already in the card shop! She sent so many, I had to order more cello bags, which arrive today. Love them and Joan!

If you are interested in sending cards to the card shop, here's what we need most, in order from most urgent to least: 

  • Encouragement
  • Faith
  • Get Well
  • Hello
  • Sympathy
  • Thank You
  • Birthday
Please remember that the insides of cards should be blank (no sentiments or sayings) since people can't open them before buying. And I provide A2 envelopes, so you don't need to send those. A2 size is great, but I also have the smaller notecard size (4 7/8" x 3 3/8") bags as well but not the envelopes. If you have any questions or want my mailing address, please email me at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com.

Once again, I am deep in my bones appreciative for this wonderful, creative, and kind community!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Sunday, August 21, 2022

Giant Faux Postage

I'm loving the Hero Arts Infinity Dies. The postage stamp dies are particularly fun, and when combined with a large Hero block stamp inked with markers, spritzed with water, and stamped, the results are fresh and fun!

And here are a few recent Lily pictures.

Little Miss Happ, or Mishap
depending on the moment

Lily's unconventional begging position.
Cooper takes a more traditional approach.
Neither is successful.
So sad.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Twinkling Flowers

Today's card features a product that's been in my craft room for years and hasn't been out for a while: Twinkling H2Os. These shimmery watercolors are lovely and add an extra touch of interest.

First, I painted a wash of pink on a piece of Tim Holtz Watercolor paper, and then painted a green wash on another piece. Once they were dry, I used punches to cut the flowers and leaves. Epoxy circles accent the centers of the flowers and magnify the shimmer of the paint. 

You might see the effect better in the close-up, but even then, the real beauty of the shimmer doesn't show. Bad photographer, Susan!

Anyway, playing with the Twinkling H2Os made me want to play with them even more! 

Cancer update: I've met with the oncologist who will manage the endocrine therapy, and tomorrow morning (Friday) I will meet with the radiation oncologist. Should be fun. Anesthesiology, primary care, and genetics happen next week. Woohoo!

So. Many. Appointments. Who knew I'd need to meet with my allergist to discuss this? Not I. That was today. 

My friends locally have been amazing, and several of you have reached out as well. Thank you all so very much. The twinkling flowers are for you.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Using SSS Inks in Graduated Colors

So in my last post, I used two colors (Iris and Violet) Simon Says Stamp Pawsitively Saturated Ink with a spritzing technique. Today, let's see what happens when we use all three shades (Heather is the lightest) to create depth in a card.

The results are gorgeous. To achieve this look, I stamped the dark image (Iris) first, positioning it in the one-third spot on the panel. Then I added the light images (Heather) and filled in with the medium images (Violet). The Iris image is the focal point, and the Violet and Heather images fill in the background. I love how solid and clean the inked images are and will likely buy a few more sets of colors that will work well for this sort of layering. 

It's getting to the point where I may have to go to a support group for ink addicts. Do I have a problem? Probably.

The image is from Hero Arts Floral Silhouettes set, and the sentiment is from Simon Says Stamp Tiny Words. The bling was colored with Copic markers, and the background was embossed with a folder from StampinUp. 

Lily chased a deer off our property yesterday. She was very proud of herself. I was proud that she didn't break through the invisible fence boundary. Good girl! The deer will learn her limits and eventually taunt her, I'm sure. 

Today's appointment is with the chemo oncologist. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Monday, August 8, 2022

Playing with New Supplies

Thanks to everyone who's commented or emailed me on my last post. Cancer sucks, but the thing that will get me through is the love and support of family and friends, including YOU! Thank you.

And thanks to those of you who subscribed using the button! Please make sure to confirm your subscription in the email sent, and let me know if you have any problems. 

Today's card gave me a chance to play with some new supplies: Simon Says Stamp inks, Hero Arts stamps, and Honey Bee deckle-edge rectangle dies. Because the watercolor paper was off-white, I used a base of cream cardstock...unusual for me, but fitting for the card. 

The butterflies come from Hero Arts' new set Critter Silhouettes. There's also an adorable snail in the set which will be awesome stamped on envelopes for mailing. 

Silhouette stamps invite several different techniques, but most especially spritzing. Ink up a stamp, spritz it with water, and see what happens. Some inks work better than others for this, and I wanted to see how the Simon Says ink worked. The results are interesting!

The bottom two butterflies use Iris ink, the darkest of the three shades I bought. The top uses Violet, the middle shade. The blotchy results work well, I think, with the silhouette stamps, but the images are not as soft and watercolor-y as, say, Memento inks look.

To add interest, I flicked slightly diluted Smooch gold lame ink on the the panel with a watercolor brush, and used Prismacolor metallic gold marker to edge the stamped panels to bring out the deckle, which was too subtle without the edging. I used to do this sort of edging all the time (especially on Christmas cards), and now I remember why!

The dogs are keeping us laughing, so here are a few pictures for your enjoyment.

"You has bapple and peanut butter. I has no
bapple and peanut butter. May I has some?"

Note how impishly happy Lily looks while Cooper is biting her face.
She knows that she'll get even and is looking forward to it.
For the record, she did get even.

The imp has worn herself out and is irked that 
I'm disturbing her. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Saturday, August 6, 2022

A Fresh Look, a New Subscription Link, and Thanks

Greetings! Feedburner finally stopped sending emails, so if you want to subscribe via email to Simplicity by Lateblossom, click the link at the top of the sidebar! 

And since you are here on the blog, you'll notice that I've freshened up the design. I hope you like the simplicity of it!

Today's card was made to thank a friend who's being extra supportive of me right now. You see, she had breast cancer last year and went through that terrible rollercoaster of fear, hope, pain, surgery, treatment, and long-term healing. Cancer sucks. 

I made this card to thank her for her support of me because two weeks ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer myself. 

Hero Arts butterfly and dies, StampinUp embossing
folder, Copic markers

My provisional diagnosis is invasive ductal carcinoma, no specific type, grade 1, stage 1. So it's early. I found the lump when rolling over in bed. My thumb grazed the spot, and I thought, "Hmm. That was weird." I felt the site thoroughly and knew it was bad. I got an appointment, where the nurse practitioner said, "Wow! It just jumps right out at you, doesn't it?" Yep. She ordered a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. The radiologist found the lump "very concerning" and ordered a biopsy, which came back positive for hormone-receptor positive breast cancer. 

Check your boobs, ladies. 

I'd planned on getting a mammogram that month anyway, as I was due for it. Nothing shows on last year's mammogram, and the biomarker testing indicates it's not a particularly aggressive cancer. I'm feeling rather lucky in that. 

So August is filling up with appointments and will end with a lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node removal on the 30th. After the pathology report comes back on the lump and nodes, we will decide treatment. 

Any of you who've been where I am now (and surely there are plenty of you!) know how scary and overwhelming this is. My plans for this fall for refreshment and focus on creativity have been derailed. I'm angry about that. I'm angry at my boobs for betraying me because I've taken very good care of them over the years. I'm angry that so many people I love are affected by this and are scared for me, too. I'm angry about becoming a statistic. 

But I'm also grateful--deep in my bones and radiating out of my heart grateful--for women's health nurse practitioners, radiology technicians, radiologists, surgeons, oncologists, and my psychologist. I'm grateful for family and friends who have prayed for and supported me in this unexpected challenge. I'm grateful we caught this early and the prognosis is good. I'm grateful I've spent the last year of my life getting fit and losing weight and focusing on my mental health. I'm grateful for my faith in a loving and healing God. 

And I'm grateful for you for sharing my love of simplicity and stamping and laughter. So of course I have a funny story about this experience. 

My darling husband went with me to the surgery consult on Monday. When the surgeon told us about his post-op infection rate, he said, "I've only had one post-op infection, and that patient was clearing her drain with a rusty screwdriver." WHAT!!!! After the gasps of horror, George said, "So what you're saying is we clear the drain with a CLEAN screwdriver. Got it." 

The surgeon, without missing a beat, said, "Dip in in alcohol, light it on fire, and you're good to go!"  

It was awesome! 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,