Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Thanksgiving Hello and an Update

Happy Thanksgiving! 

I wish our culture appreciated the spirit of Thanksgiving more. The holiday tends to get lost between Halloween and Christmas, with more emphasis on consumerism and Black Friday and football and stuffing our faces with delicious food than slowing down and appreciating our many blessings. 

Our Thanksgiving this year will be quiet (hopefully) and peaceful, with much reflection on how much better off I am now than I was in 2022. I certainly can be grateful for having hair!

I wish for you much joy in the holiday. If you’re not in the U.S., you can still take a moment to offer up thanks to God or the universe or whatever force you believe in. 

Today’s card uses a fun autumnal embossing folder, as well as an adorable stamp and die set by Julie Ebersole called Fallish from Ellen Hutson. The images were colored with Copics.


The very kind Marilyn asked for an update. I’m doing much better. My mood has improved, I have more energy, and all the symptoms left over from chemo and radiation are about 85% better. So yay!!!! My semester is going extremely well, with my face-to-face class pure joy. The online teaching experience is better than I expected but still not as much fun as being in person with students.

Also, Karen’s Card Shop is thriving, with over $4,500 in sales since it started in 2016 (I think! The years are blurring a bit.). I’ve actually felt like making cards for the shop recently, but one person can’t keep this show going. So many of you have donated, and First United Methodist Church is incredibly grateful for your kindness and generosity. 

Here’s the shop itself, painted black a few years ago, and the cards just pop right off that black background. It’s in a very high-traffic area near the church offices. We also added a locked cash box on the wall when a few hundred dollars went missing in 2021. 

If you have cards and want to donate, please check out my page on Karen’s Card Shop. It’s been a while since I updated the page, so the pictures and some information are out of date. We are most in need of get well, thinking of you, and sympathy cards. We do not carry Christmas cards or other holidays…they just don’t sell. Please do not stamp sentiments inside the cards as I package the cards in clear bags so people can’t see the sentiment before buying. I will supply the envelopes. Email me at susanraihala at for my address. And thanks in advance!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and gratitude,


Thursday, November 16, 2023

Soft Blue-Green for Christmas

So I have a lot of fun making watercolor backgrounds for cards, but then I struggle to use them. Today's cards were made with Distress inks smooshed onto acrylic blocks, spritzed with water, and then pressed onto watercolor paper. I let the block sit on the paper until it's mostly dry, which gives a more intense color. 

Of the two, I prefer the's cleaner and has a nice triangular design anchored by the straight lines. Plus, those poinsettia dies are to die for! The stag card is a bit busy for me, although I do like the ribbon base and bling, and how it contrasts with the matte finish of the watercolor square and die cuts.

Either way, using the watercolor backgrounds to create clean and simple cards with simple shapes definitely makes me happy!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Texture, Texture, and More Texture

The BetterPress system gives a nice, deep impression of whatever image you're using, and these pine boughs are no exception. When combined with a 3D embossing folder of more pine boughs for a backdrop, we get some lovely textures!

One note about the BetterPress system...get the recommended paper, too. The paper makes a difference in how the final image looks. I've experimented with my Papertrey white and Neenah Solar, and the BetterPress paper just works better.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Sunday, November 5, 2023

The Season of Thanks

The BetterPress is just so much fun, and these plates in the leaf set also come with dies. Obviously, the sentiment set also comes with dies. These make the plates so much more versatile!

And here's a close-up where you can see the letterpress effect pretty well! I water-colored the leaves using markers scrubbed onto an acrylic block. 

I hope you all had a lovely weekend (our weather in Ohio was PERFECT!). 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Saturday, November 4, 2023

Be There

I'm currently working on our Stephen Ministry ornaments, which will be distributed the first Sunday in Advent. These ornaments (I will post after we hand them out) represent our congregation's annual reminder that not everyone is happy for the holidays. In fact, this year, after so much has happened over the last three years and worldwide (especially in the middle east), the medical community is seeing a spike in mental health problems. Big surprise. 

The holidays bring a lot of pressure and a lot of loneliness for many people. For some, it's the first Christmas after a loss (whether of a marriage, job, health, or life of a loved one), and those firsts can be especially hard. 

So today's card reminds us to be there for each other, however we can. And to let others be there for us, however we can. 

Whenever you get a chance to be with someone who's hurting or stressed, you're fulfilling the teaching not only of Christ but of so many other faith traditions around the world. We are social creatures...even the introverts! We need each other. And sometimes, just getting a card helps someone know they are not alone. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Friday, November 3, 2023

Sympathy and Old School

Karen's Card Shop always needs sympathy and get well cards, and when we ran completely out of sympathy cards this summer, I went to work. 

When I was grieving my grandmother, someone sent me a handmade card that looked like it should have been a new year's card...bright colors and glitter everywhere. It struck me as an odd choice and one I never wanted to make. Ever since, I've generally gone for soft looks, and the old-school technique of inking a stamp with markers and spritzing with water creates just that. 

For our first card, I had a spare piece of embossed lavender card stock and was going to put a simple 1/4" mat under the stamped panel. The mat, however, wasn't quite big enough, so I opted for an asymmetrical mat instead. This happy accident was gratifying because it sort of looks like the lavender panel is reaching out for a hug. 

Our second card uses an ancient wood-mounted stamp from Hero Arts that's designed to look like watercolor.

Note that both cards use a FABULOUSLY versatile embossing folder from Tim Holtz. You see me use this a lot because it just adds texture and softness without meaning much of anything. 

Sympathy cards are extremely hard to make when you actually need one, so it's a good idea to make a bunch to have on hand when needed. I sent these and a bunch of others to Karen's Card Shop, along with the ones sent by Kelli, Charlotte, and Eddie. My own stash needs restocking. Guess I'll pull out my markers and spritz bottle and get to work!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Thursday, November 2, 2023

When the Sentiment Carries the Card

This fabulous sentiment from Simon Says Stamp just needs a little floral frame to be complete!

The flower dies are from Sizzix, and the blending in real life is much smoother out to the white than it looks in the photo. I used Copics to add just a bit of color to the flowers and leaves, but the card still needed something, so I took the chisel end of the lightest copic and edged the bottom mat. That anchored the card a bit!

And that's all I have to say about that. I'm off to buy new double wall ovens today. Hopefully they will be installed before thanksgiving. Fingers crossed.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Birding Craze

For Christmas last year, I bought my husband a Birdfy birdfeeder with a built-in motion-sensor video camera. 

Best gift ever, IMHO.

I've now become an avid birder...something I never thought would happen. Yeah, yeah. Such a GenX thing to do. But how can I resist these little cuties who visit every day! 

Which led me to make this card with a stamp set and dies from Ellen Hutson. I'm sending it to my mom, who also likes birds and bought a Birdfy as well.

And now, my assimilation into middle age is complete. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,