Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Bee-Day Bubbles

Today’s card uses one of my favorite bee sets from Hero Arts, Busy as a…. Colored with Copic markers, the bees and two ombré circles are just so much fun! The bees’ wings are highlighted with clear Wink of Stella. 

I’m enjoying my time visiting family in Maryland and am so glad I flew. Even with a layover in Atlanta, it was much easier with my current level of fatigue. 

A reminder to Marilyn to email me about the gift card, please. I don’t want to forget!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Saturday, March 4, 2023

Winner, Winner! And Two Sea-Themed Cards

 Our winner in the Butterfly Challenge give away is Marilyn! 

Marilyn, please send me your snail-mail address at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com. I’ll send you the gift card to Simon Says Stamp ASAP!

And now for today’s cards. First up, one that’s full of texture and pattern, almost collage-like. 

To make this card, I used an ancient Hero Arts shadow stamp to create the circle background, a stamp/die set from Julie Ebersole for the shell, and Simon Says for the sentiment. The scrap of cheesecloth looks a bit like a net, and the bling echoes ocean bubbles (and adds shine to an otherwise matte card). 

It’s a glorious mess grounded in the triangle of bling and plenty of glorious white space.

The second card, which uses the same stamp set, is much cleaner, simpler, and modern in feel. Instead of rhinestones, I used dew drops

You’ve got one guess as to which is my favorite. Yep. Card #2. The cleanness and simplicity make me very, very happy. But I certainly like the first one; otherwise, I would not have showed it to you!

I’ve not had much chance to stamp this past week. Lots going on, including some not-so-happy stuff with my mom, who isn’t feeling well. I’m going to Maryland to see her this upcoming week. I was supposed to visit back in late July, but breast cancer had other plans. 

I did get a favorable check-up with the radiation oncologist. My boob is looking great. I’ll see the medical oncologist on Monday. I have lots of questions for him. For me, radiation was a piece of cake compared to chemo, and the symptoms that are lingering are definitely chemo related. 

And that’s all I have to say about that. 

A friend in her 50s told me last week that she got her first mammogram ever after my diagnosis. Please get your boobs squished regularly and get familiar with them in between so you can identify what does and does not belong. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Friday, February 24, 2023

A Butterfly Challenge—Day 7

This is the LAST post in our butterfly challenge series! If you’re just joining us, you can go back to the previous six posts, leave comments, and be entered for the $25 gift card from Simon Says Stamp. Each comment counts as one entry, so if you comment on all seven, you’ll maximize your chances to win. 

When you comment, have fun answering the daily questions on each post except the first. The deadline for commenting is midnight EST, Monday, February 27.

Now for today’s card, which has a shocking THREE butterflies on it. Can you believe I got that crazy? We revisit Gina K’s Tapestry embossing folder to add some context and intense texture to the card. Love that folder so very much!

The green and blue (my favorite color combo) butterflies are arranged in a triangle, and the bling adds to the sense of movement on the card.

I’ve combined birthday sentiments and so have no idea where this one comes from. Sorry about that.

And now for today’s question: which of the seven butterfly challenge cards is your favorite and why?

To help you, I’m reposting the cards here:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

If I had a gun to my head and had to choose one, it would be Day 2, just because it’s the most minimal design. Day 4 is the least minimal and also a favorite. Basically, I love them all! My style obviously uses a LOT of white, no matter what, but each one of the these feels authentic to me as a crafter. 

If your authentic self prefers more color or pattern, you could adapt these designs by coloring the die cuts, using colored card bases or mats, or integrating designer or specialty paper. You could also use bigger butterflies to give your designs more weight and color. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Thursday, February 23, 2023

A Butterfly Challenge—Day 6

Today’s card, like the card from day 5, uses two butterflies, but the design concept is completely different. Instead of restricting the space and letting the relationship of the butterflies stand on its own (with a little bling), I put these two into context, with a die cut flower to flit around.

Today’s question is this: what colors do you avoid or neglect in your crafting?

For me, it’s yellows, oranges, and purples, generally. But over the past few years, I’ve challenged myself to explore them more, and now I can honestly say I embrace all colors. 

So how about you? And remember, comments on the blog will be eligible for the drawing for the $25 gift card to Simon Says.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Sunday, February 19, 2023

A Butterfly Challenge—Day 5

If you’re joining us late, we are in the midst of a series of cards made with Copic-colored butterflies. The first four cards (see previous posts) each used one butterfly die cut and explored various ways to let a single small image enhance a card…or carry it entirely. 

Today, we’ll get totally crazy and use TWO butterflies on one card. Wow. Really getting out of my box, am I not?

Regardless, one commenter from the seven posts in the series will win a $25 gift card to Simon Says Stamp. So get commenting! The drawing will happen 48 hours after the last post in the series.

Let’s dive in to Day 5!

These two butterflies were grayer shades of teal and yellow/orange, and they seemed to complement each other. Now that I see the photo on my screen, it seems that the sentiment is crooked. 

Darn it. 

For this design, I created a very small space for the focal point, keeping everything in close proximity and overlapping the butterflies. If the sentiment were straight, it would be perfect! 

Alas, rarely do we get perfection in real life. 


And now for today’s question: what is your strategy for purchasing/owning ink? Do you have pigment, dye, oxide, solvent, spectrum, distress, chalk, or some other kind I can’t think of right now? Or do you stick with good black inks to stamp outline images to color with markers or pencils or paints? Which ink or inks do you use the most and why? 

I’m an unrepentant ink whore. I’ve never met a quality ink pad I didn’t love, and I have at least a few pads of every single one I listed above. Dye inks are my most used. I’ve now got the entire collection of Simon Says Stamp pawsitively saturated inks, quite a few of the Ranger Archival permanent dye inks and the Hero Arts older inks, a dozen or so StampinUp old-school inks, and a bunch of Tim Holtz distress ink cubes. I’ve also got Kaleidacolor and Hero spectrum pads. Then there are the dozens of pigment and chalk inks…which rarely get used but are too pretty to get rid of. All the pretty colors of all the inks are too awesome for me to resist!

I might need an intervention. 

So, what’s your strategy for purchasing/owning ink?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Friday, February 17, 2023

A Butterfly Challenge—Day 4

Remember that each comment you make in this Butterfly Challenge series is an entry for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Simon Says Stamp! (Obviously, only one comment per post will count for the give away, but I love it when you reply to each other’s comments!)

Of the seven cards I made with the Copic-colored butterflies, four have only one butterfly on them. You’ve already seen three of those cards, and today we’re looking at the LEAST clean and simple of them all. The card was inspired by so many of the “circle” cards posted on Pinterest (mostly by European stampers) that have inspired me for quite a long time. 

For this card, I gave the butterfly more context, with a stamped sprig of lavender-ish plant and white-on-white fronds. The different sizes of circle and their arrangement create a sense of movement, and the ombré purple circle was colored with the same Copics used on the butterfly. The rhinestones were colored with Copics and/or Sharpies.

I adore these types of cards, as they are the closest I get these days to collage. The monochromatic color scheme—with lots of white—works great for keeping the busier design clean and simple for my CAS-lovin’ heart!

So now for today’s question: what’s a favorite storage product, strategy, or tool? 

For me, it’s my strategy for organizing embellishments by color, not type, an idea I got years ago from Stacey Julian’s book on scrapbooking. So all blue embellishments are in a drawer, all green and yellow in another drawer, all neutrals, and so forth. I also really appreciate Sterilite Storage drawers. They pull out easily, are light-weight, and stack on my desk. 

Your turn. What’s a favorite storage product, strategy, or tool you use and love?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Thursday, February 16, 2023

A Butterfly Challenge—Day 3

Remember the Give Away!!!! One random comment on a post from this series will be chosen for a $25 gift card to Simon Says Stamp. I’m enjoying the answers to each day’s questions so much. This hobby is such a complex one!

Today’s Copic-colored butterfly card layout was inspired by a card on Pinterest that I cannot now find. Grrr. I’d love to give credit to the inspiration. 

The mat was colored with the same Copics as the butterfly, and the leafy branch (Hero Arts rubber) took three attempts to get it in the right spot. 

Oh, well. It’s only paper, right?

I like the design because there’s so much movement in it. The monochromatic colors keep things simple, but the eye has a lot to keep it occupied. 

And that butterfly is stinkin’ cute!

And now for today’s question: what’s a favorite embellishment? This question occurred to me when I was shopping at Marco’s the other day. So. Many. Embellishments. Glitter, glitter glue, Nuvo drops, mica, rhinestones, sequins, powders, ribbons and cords, mixed media stuff, Tim Holtz stuff, quilling, shaker card parts and filling, etc. 

You’ll notice through this butterfly series every single card has rhinestones on it. They’re mostly colored with Copics or Sharpies to coordinate with the rest of the card. I’ve tried hard to embrace sequins, but the colors or sizes don’t seem right half the time. I love the simplicity of rhinestones and the ability to customize the colors. 

What about you? What’s a favorite embellishment of yours?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Tuesday, February 14, 2023

A Butterfly Challenge—Day 2

 Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Don’t forget about the give away! A $25 gift card to Simon Says Stamp to a randomly chosen comment from this 7-day series of posts. 

Today’s card fits with the the theme of the day…LOVE!

The butterfly is colored with dark pinks, as are the rhinestones. The heart die is from Hero Arts Infinity Dies, and the 3D embossing folder is my new favorite from Gina K called Tapestry.

It’s just perfect. 

That little butterfly can carry the design because she’s a bright pop of color on a richly textured and rather large white heart.  The white dots help unify her with the card, and the hot pink rhinestones balance her. The message is clear without a sentiment, so I didn’t add one here. It would have been a distraction, unlike yesterday’s card where the sentiment is the focal point.

Yesterday’s question asked about what supplies you rarely use and wish you used more often. Today’s question is this: what trend or supply have you consciously avoided?

Over the years, I’ve consciously avoided several products and trends for various reasons. First, I avoided clear stamps, and then I tried Papertrey and was a goner. Next, I avoided the MISTI, and now it’s within easy reach at all times. Next, I avoided Copic markers, and now I have 104 of them. Then it was dies, and Eva gave me a Cuttlebug, and we know how that turned out. Just look at today’s card.

I’ve figured out that we should never say never, but for me, right now, I’m consciously avoiding hot foiling. A number of STUNNING foiled cards have come into Karen’s Card Shop and have been sent to me in the past 6 months. But hot foiling requires quite an investment and seems to be a rather a finicky endeavor, and my life is complicated enough right now, not to mention expensive with two sons in college. So I will continue to appreciate other stampers’ efforts and skill, and keep pushing in other areas…like Copic coloring because 104 sketch markers are already an enormous investment that’s begging to be used.

Can you feel me?

Now it’s your turn. What trend or supply have you consciously avoided?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Sunday, February 12, 2023

A Butterfly Challenge—Day 1

 Good day to you all!

I’ve been very productive craft-wise for the past two weeks but also very distracted from posting. So to kick off my sharing, I’m going to give a $25 Simon Says Stamp gift card to a random commenter on a post in this Butterfly Challenge series. Comment on one or all the posts as you feel motivated! The drawing will be held after the seventh (and last) post in the series. 

So I challenged my self to use my Copics because I’d bought more and felt guilty because I haven’t really gotten my money’s worth from the ones I already had. So I stamped multiple images of a little butterfly from Hero Arts From the Vault Bugs set and colored them. I have the coordinating dies and so cut all these out.

I didn’t like all of them, but most made their way onto cards using a variety of layouts, supplies, and inspiration. For today, we’ll take a look at this card in shades of green and teal:

The card uses the Blessings Stamp and Cut set from Hero Arts, the Kaleidacolor spectrum ink Caribbean Sea, and rhinestones colored with Copics and Sharpies. The card size is 6.25” x 3.5”. 

This is the only card in the series where the butterfly plays a supporting role. The lead actor here is that fabulous, bold, beautiful sentiment. I often forget that sentiments don’t have to be small and unobtrusive, so that was my lesson from this card. Many of us have SO. MANY. SUPPLIES. It’s hard to remember all we have and then actually use them.

So today’s question, should you choose to comment, is this: What stamping supply or type of stamp do you rarely use, but when you do, you realize you should use it more often? Fishing for ideas here!


Sort of a Cancer Update

Radiation is finished, and my boob no longer looks angry. YAY! I was invited to ring the bell in church today. So fun! And if you want to hear an awesome sermon about focusing on Jesus things, check out the video on YouTube or Facebook. Search First United Methodist Church of Springboro. Pastor Joe was in rare form today. Start watching at 8:20 or so to skip all the announcement slides. 

I’m still not sure how to put this cancer experience into words. Honestly, I feel a little bit numb, a little bit raw, and mostly optimistic. Either all my support and coping strategies are working just fine, or I’m headed for a breakdown. Not sure which. If this had happened thirty years ago, it would definitely be breakdown time, but now, whether it’s my faith, my therapist, Zoloft, my friends and family and you all, my medical team, my inner strength from years of hard self-improvement, or a combination of all those things, I feel like I’m coming out of the furnace in a good mood. Only time will tell if the breakdown is going to happen. 

One thing I know with certainty. If I do break down, there will be so very many people and resources to help. I am blessed beyond deserving, and am so very, very grateful. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Wednesday, February 1, 2023


Today's card is all about the blessings and continues my last post's technique of inking with markers and spritzing with water. This time, however, the stamp is an outline rather than block stamp. The effect is lovely.

The daisy stamp is from Papertrey, the sentiment is from Simon Says, and the script background is from Hero Arts. The deckle-edge dies are from Honey Bee. I'm finding the deckle-edge dies don't work with all images. There needs to be a "reason" for using them. In this case, the softness of the watercolor effect invites softer edges, along with the handwritten script. Unity of design is so important!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Warm Wishes on a Cold Day

First off, I want to thank Cheryl and Eddie for their lovely donations to Karen's Card Shop. Y'all are awesome!

Second, today's card uses one of my favorite techniques for solid image stamps: color with markers, spritz with water, and stamp. I cut the focal point using a die set gifted to me by my friend Eva, and the frond behind the stitched rectangle is from Penny Black. The flower stamp is Hero Arts and the sentiment is from Simon Says.

This card may have been inspired by a card on Pinterest, but I made it so long ago, I can't remember. 

And third, my radiation treatments are finished. My boob is still very angry about what was done to it, red and painful, but generally, my mood is improved. I vacillate between feeling quite justified in her punishment for trying to kill me and guilt over victim blaming. The poor girl didn't ask for cancer, did she? 

Next step in treatment is starting at the end of next week...leprozole to suppress estrogen and progesterone. I'll take that for five to seven years, as well as a drug to keep my bones strong since leprozole leaches calcium from bones. Yee-ha. 

My hair is growing back but still not quite a pixie. I can see quite clearly what my hairdresser means when she says my hair growth pattern is "irregular." Swirls, cowlicks, and weirdness abound. 

Fatigue is the main problem now. For example, I just today got all my Christmas decorations put away. And I wanted to take a nap. I puttered around my craft space instead, and that was useful. And fun.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Monday, January 16, 2023

A Birthday Card and Dog Pictures

Today's card uses an old StampinUp set colored with Copics, a festive embossed panel, and a random sentiment. It made me happy...and best of all, its recipient was happy, too!

And here are some dog pictures from the last few months. 

Lily likes her chewy toy.

They do cuddle sometimes, 
but it never lasts long.

Lily loves all of us, but she has a special
fondness for Nick.

The snarling was quite festive.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Sunday, January 15, 2023

Very Old and Somewhat New

Today's card features a stamp from one of the first stamp sets I ever bought...back in the early 2000s. The copyright date on the wood-mounted stamp from Hero Arts is 2000. 

The stamp paired perfectly with a falling snow embossing folder (new-ish), deckled square and rectangle dies (also new-ish), sequins (new) and a Cathy Zielski sentiment set (not new, but not used enough).

Does anyone else crave peace? I do. There's been precious little of it in my circumstances of the past six months, and I have to remind myself that peace doesn't come from our circumstances but from our relationship with the divine: the peace that passes all understanding. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty good at leaving my burdens at the foot of the cross...and then going back and picking them up again. 

I am working on this. 

A friend gave me a weekly planner for Christmas. I already had a planner, so I keep the new one by my bed. Each night, I write down at least three things I'm grateful for and at least three "Woo-Hoo" accomplishments for the day, though some days the accomplishments are quite small, such as a shower, a card, and a few chapters in my latest book. The planner has a place for monthly prayers and suggests praying to cultivate kindness in January. 

What a beautiful planner!

What do you do to cultivate peace? Do you have a daily ritual? Do you journal? Curious minds, and all that jazz....

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Saturday, January 7, 2023

The Winner Is...

 Cheryl L! Cheryl won the three Simon Says inks. Cheryl's comment was on the blog and said:

"No crafty gift, but got gift cards to my 2 favorite places...Starbucks and Aldi!!"

Now, I'm all for Starbucks, but must admit I'm not a fan of Aldi, simply because the landlord of our Barnes & Noble wouldn't renew its lease in favor of Aldi and now we have to drive a half hour to get to the Beavercreek Barnes & Noble. My husband and I fake spit every time we pass the old, more convenient location. Stupid Aldi. As Erasmus said, "When I have a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes."

But I don't hold the landlord's decision against Cheryl, who's a long-time and loyal reader of Simplicity, and am so happy to send her the ink! Cheryl, please send me your snail mail address at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com, and I'll get the inks out to you early this week!

This week's cards were both inspired by THIS PIN by Helga Hopen. Her card design is so perfect that my versions are pretty much copies with different images and colors.

To make the colors coordinate, I used an old Hero Arts red rubber shadow stamp to make a green square that was the same color as the branch (also Hero, but from a clear set). The embossing folder is new, but the sentiment is old, old, least 15 years ago from Papertrey. 

Now, I really liked the above card for a masculine birthday, but decided I wanted to try for more color and pop in the design. So I added the cardinal from the same Hero Arts clear set, colored and masked it, and stamped the branch behind it. I stippled on a bit of lighter green ink to complete the focal point and used a newer Papertrey sentiment to complete the effect.

I can see myself playing around more with this gorgeous layout! Thanks, Helga, for the inspiration!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love, 


Thursday, January 5, 2023

When Old and New Play Together Perfectly

My spending spree over the last few months included several (ahem) embossing folders such as the one used on today's card. I pulled out the old A Wreath for All Seasons set from Papertrey, and this is the result.

The embossing folder has an empty circle surrounded by a snow burst. The wreath fits perfectly!

This 4.25" square card is part of my birthday planning for 2023. I've made cards for everyone on my list who has birthdays through April. May is a big month in my family/friend group, so that will take a while!

It's been a bit of a rough week, and I'm looking forward to choosing a winner Saturday morning for the give-away! Don't forget to comment on THIS POST for a chance to win.

And for today, I have a crafty question. Do you usually stick with new product for your stamping, or do you mix and match old and new? Do you get tired of old stuff, or get excited about finding new ways to use the old stuff to make it "new" again? I guess that's two questions, but I'm curious.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Sunday, January 1, 2023

One Set, Two Cards, and a Giveaway

So, one of my bigger purchases in the past few months has been Simon Says Stamp Pawsitively Saturated Inks. I bought three colors back in July to test them and posted about them here and here. I adore monochrome cards, as you know, and these inks will make that easier. 

Today's cards combine the graduated colors with SSS Jubilee Sentiments set. These graduated flowers were made to work with the inks...and work they do...beautifully.

The pink card was inspired by various layouts from Pinterest, and the orange card is a very ordinary, old-fashioned layout (one of my favorites!). It uses some fun giant sequins, also from SSS.

And now for the giveaway. When I first ordered the inks, I didn't think I would need all the colors. Once I had my chosen ones, I figured that while I might not need them, I wanted them. Unfortunately, I mistakenly ordered three pads that I already had. 

So I'm going to give the new-in-wrapper pads away to one random person who comments by sharing one gift you received for Christmas on this blog post or on the Facebook post before midnight EST on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. 

The giveaway is open to anyone with a U.S. mailing address. If you want to comment but want to be EXCLUDED from the give away...some of you may want to share but not be in the U.S. or may already have the inks...or perhaps more inks than you can handle. Sort of like I do, now. Please share one of your gifts anyway!

I'll go first. My husband, who knows me so well after 36 years of marriage, got me a pilgrim cross pendant that dates from between 7th-10th centuries. This period of history is one of my favorites, and to have an actual pilgrim cross (refurbished) that may have gone to the Holy Land or Rome from someplace in Europe over a thousand years ago just thrills me no end. 

So tell me what you got!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,