Sunday, June 30, 2024

It’s Just Water over Beans

My firstborn Nick is a self-confessed coffee snob and works at “the best” coffee shop in Cincinnati. He sometimes he has to consciously remind himself that “it’s just water over beans.” 

In getting back to basics and this blog’s mantra “doing simple things well,” today’s cards fit into the “it’s just ink on paper” category.

Both cards use stamps from Simon Says for the shapes. These very basic sets have solid and outline circles and hearts in a wide range of sizes. Inks are all Simon Says pawsitively saturated ink, except the black, which is Ranger Archival. 

I challenge you to share a card that’s just ink on paper. Have fun making it! Then share it in a comment on the blog or on Simplicity’s Facebook page. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Saturday, June 29, 2024

Simple Card Set

 A lovely stamp set from Gina K features in today’s three cards. I wanted to make some very basic—but very pretty—cards. I’ve been messing around with dies and BetterPress plates and watercolors (making pretty trash, mostly) and wanted to get back to my roots as a clean-and-simple stamper.

So satisfying!

Lavender, aqua, and lime…a lovely combination for a set of monochromatic cards. I was so surprised I had coordinating colored card stock to mat each stamped panel. The tags were punched from an old StampinUp punch, and of course a bit of craft thread makes up the bows. A final little touch…I used a very old and still working Sakura stardust pen to accent the centers of the little flowers.

It’s so easy to be seduced by all the products and gadgets and techniques, but we used to make cards with paper, stamps, ink, markers and pens, and an occasional punch. I love that we have so many options today, but sometimes, back to basics is enormously satisfying!


Quick prayer request for a friend. Mary has stage 4 colon cancer, a recurrence of the disease from about 13 years ago. She has two surgeries in July and begins a new chemo treatment. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Monday, June 24, 2024

Hello in Gold and a Nightmare in Springboro, OH

A big thank you goes out to Kathryn and Pat whose boxes of cards for Karen's Card Shop arrived today!

For today's card, I needed something quick and remembered several cards I'd seen on Pinterest that had letters half-inked or half-embossed. Thought I'd give it a try!

While I did heat emboss the gold on the sentiment, the gold added to the stem was done with a Sakura stardust gold pen...much quicker and easier than embossing. I'm surprised how much the three different golds match in real life. The photo above distorts the colors somewhat on my screen.

This 6.25" x 3.5" card also has a mat of gold shimmer paper from Sizzix. The sentiment die is from Poppy Stamps, and the stem is from Alexandra Renke. 


Now for the nightmare!!! Beware!!! You cannot unsee the picture at the end of this post!!!

Now, you have to see it, right? And it will haunt your dreams as it does mine. 

So a few weeks ago, I was leaving church and glanced up at a building beside the parking lot. After a double-take, I saw a terrifying sight:

The cinder blocks and vines and wiring--not to mention the moss and iron bars--combine to make this SUPER creepy! 

She overlooks the church parking lot (who knows for how long!), and I want to save her. 

But I'm scared. So very scared!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love for sure.


Friday, June 21, 2024

Guy Cards

If you’re anything like me, you find guy cards difficult…just like guys, really, because they are hunters and generally approach life with a “see mastodon, kill mastodon, grill mastodon, eat mastodon” approach to life. The finer points of gathering flowers and cute little creatures and little embellishments are often lost on them. There are, however, exceptions to the rule, and my son Nick is one of them. He likes design, art, creativity. So there’s extra pressure to make him a card he appreciates. 

Here you go. A guy card that was super fun to make and looks (according to Nick, at least) great.

The square was die cut from a piece of watercolor paper I’d made with Twinkling H2O paints. The shimmer is lovely and works well with the gold embossing. The script embossing folder was used on a piece of watercolor paper cut from a large sheet (Arches 90lb) with a raw edge. The bit of gold thread sort of hugs the focal point. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love, 


Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Do You Have Favorites?

Many, many thanks to Eddie for the fabulous box of cards that arrived today for Karen's Card Shop. Stampers are the best, and Eddie has contributed so many cards for the shop! 

Now, on to stamping by way of books. As a lifelong and very vocal reader, I am often asked, "What's your favorite book?" That's like asking me which of my sons is my favorite...and thus the question is unanswerable. I don't have A favorite, but I do have a whole LIST of favorites, though, in no particular ranking.

When it comes to stamps, my tastes change, or I use a set to death and get bored, or I run out of ideas. Surely you know the feeling? But a few sets have withstood the test of time, and today's set--A Wreath for All Seasons by Papertrey Ink--is one of them for me. It's definitely on my list of favorites. 

It's not a terribly versatile set as far as design goes, but there are so many techniques you can use to make these stamps wreath your heart with joy!

The card uses Simon Says Stamp inks (honey and the warm grays) and incorporates a berry stamp from Simon Says and a tiny circle for the center of the flowers. The results are sweet, summery, and oh so pretty!

And on to life....

Computer gremlins have been messing with me. First, I can't comment on my own blog on my iPad, which explains the delay in replying to your comments on my recent posts. I caught up this afternoon on my computer and want you to know how incredibly honored I am that anyone takes the time to comment on blogs still. Second, I've not been receiving Simplicity emails from and suspect some of you may not be either. Not sure what's going on there, but I'm investigating. 

Third, my printer...can we digress a moment on that special place in hell for designers of printers? Seriously, I'm not a violent person, but our last HP printer almost had the crap beaten out of it BY ME with a baseball bat AFTER I spent three hours on the phone with HP support, only to be told my printer, which was four years old, was obsolete. My husband intervened on its behalf, but when I dropped that %$#&* into our trash bin, it was with force, I tell you! 

The sound of crunching satisfying.

Anyway, back to my third point. George can't get his work-from-home printer to work at home at all, and my printer prints only when the spirit moves it. The spirit wasn't moving yesterday when George needed to print a document. Sometimes, when his computer won't work with my printer, mine will. So I went to my computer to print his document, which he emailed to me, but my computer updated and rebooted yesterday, and for some reason, Outlook wouldn't work. It said it was "NEW!" and asked for passwords I haven't used in years...and then would not accept them. 

Now, after 20 minutes of trying to get Outlook working, and maybe but not definitely swearing and slamming of hands on a desk, George came in and very gently suggested that he could email the document and perhaps it was wine o'clock and time to Wordle.  

I love him. 

So today, I worked myself into a really good mood and decided to try to fix Outlook. First off, I restarted the computer...and magically, everything works now. No problems at all. 

And that's life in a nutshell. 

And now back to our topic of favorites. Do you have a few sets you love immoderately and have loved for a long time? Care to share?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Saturday, June 15, 2024

You Are Wonderful

Today’s Question: Have you ever used Sizzix stamps, and, if so, did you like them? I found a set on sale at Marco’s and bit. The images are darling, but the stamps themselves feel different from my usual brands. They obviously stamp just fine (see card below), but I do so love the smell of photopolymer in the morning, and these don’t really have an odor. So just wondering if this is an issue for anyone or just a variation on normal.

Today’s card goes out to all those who have contacted me about sending cards to Karen’s Card Shop! Charlotte A’s shipment arrived today and is already packaged for me to take to the shop tomorrow. Thank you all so much for supporting this little ministry. We’ve pulled in $5,000 since 2016, and keep in mind the pandemic hurt sales considerably for several years. EVERY ONE OF YOU who has donated over the years is wonderful!

To make the card, I took a 3” x 4.25” scrap and randomly stamped images from the set onto it in Archival black ink. I’d planned on coloring with Copics but forgot to use Memento Ink, so I flexed to Distress inks and water colored the images with them. (Note that Archival ink is waterproof but will bleed with alcohol markers like Copics.) For most of the images, I left a lot of white to keep the whole effect feminine and soft, and then I used a black mat, heat embossed the “you are” on black cardstock, and then diecut the “wonderful” twice, glued them together, and then glued them onto the card. The sentiment is from Hero Arts.

While this is a busier card than I usually make, it certainly was fun! What do you think?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love, 


Friday, June 14, 2024

Craft and Art and Thirty-Eight Years


Today’s card is another sympathy card, this one featuring the soft, sweet, peaceful technique of creating watercolors with multi-step stamps from Altenew. 

First, I inked the stem stamp with old paper distress ink, spritzed it with water, and stamped on watercolor paper. Then, I let it dry. Second, I inked the flower with tattered rose, spritzed, stamped, and let dry. Third, I inked the flower center with wild honey, spritzed, stamped, and let it dry. Fourth, I stamped the sentiment (Papertrey, very old) in Simon Says cozy ink. Finally, I flicked specks of old paper and tattered rose onto the card stock.

Drying time is pretty fast, but if you don’t give each impression a chance to dry, the colors might run together. If that’s what you want, go for it! If not, let that stuff dry in between impressions.


Our new dining room table is a work of art. Our previous table lasted 30 years, and we fully expect this one to last just as long or longer. 

I am in awe of the artistry of this furniture. The chairs are so comfortable, and the cherry top…simply magnificent.

Thirty-Eight Years

And today is our wedding anniversary. My word, we’ve gotten old!

Man, that cake sure was good…thanks to cousin Gail! 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Doggos and Butterfly

The dogs had me laughing this morning. For those who may be new, let me introduce our two English cream golden retrievers.

Cooper, age almost seven, aka 
The Goodest Boy

Lily, age 3, aka Mazikeen the Demon

This morning, Cooper came over to me and rolled over for belly rubs. I obliged. Lily, who was sleeping nearby, woke up and decided that Cooper shouldn’t be getting rubs when she was getting nothing. She came over to me and made a bid for my attention. I kept one hand on Cooper and scratched Lily with the other. But she realized what she really wanted was Cooper’s attention, so she rolled over right next to him and wriggled. I got the shot. Then she jumped up and bit his face. 

Lily is sweet as can be to people, but poor Cooper puts up with a lot. Bless his heart.

 Today’s card reinforces my request for Karen’s Card Shop. We are almost out of sympathy and get well cards. I’m doing my best, but not everyone likes my CAS style. A variety of cards boosts overall sales.

Butterfly cards do well at First United Methodist Church of Springboro because Karen Wenzel, after whom the shop is named, loved butterflies immoderately. Her best friend in the church, Anna, is on the worship committee and makes sure there is ALWAYS a butterfly somewhere near the altar. Karen was a Stephen Minister, and after she died, our Stephen Ministry group donated banners to hang on either side of the altar…with butterflies. They hang during regular time, which is right now, and so I’ll get a picture of them soon. 

Karen sent cards and postcards all the time. As I’ve commented before, she made sure my birthday card made it in the mail before she was transported to the James Cancer Center, where she passed away the next day. 

She would have loved this monochromatic blue beauty. 

The ink is Simon Says Stamp Pawsitively Saturated night…a new color in the line. The photo makes it look a bit darker than it is in real life, but it IS dark. Like night. 

Well, obviously.

Anyway, if you feel like donating cards (especially sympathy and get well!) to Karen’s Card Shop, we’d be grateful. Just email me at susanraihala at iCloud dot com. Remember that we prefer A2 size cards, for which I provide envelopes and cello bags to protect them. Please do NOT put any sentiments inside the cards as buyers cannot open and read the cards because they are in cello bags.

Here’s an older picture of our card shop (I’ve updated the labels and signs since it was taken) with Pastor Joe and young Will, the son of one of our biggest customers. Will is now much taller, and Joe is balder.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Monday, June 10, 2024

Sympathy Cards

Long-time readers know that my church has a card shop, and many of you have contributed over the years. If you want to make cards or have a stash of cards you would like to donate to Karen’s Card Shop, we are happy to take them!

Right now, we urgently need sympathy and get well cards, so if you feel inspired to help, I’ll be happy to send you my address! 

I’ve been making sympathy cards since I got home last week, and here are a couple I particularly love!

Back in the day, I bought from only three companies: Hero Arts, Papertrey Ink, and StampinUp. These stamps from Papertrey (Through the Trees) is at least 15 or so years old, but the design is timeless. 

I heat embossed the birch trees in white and used distress inks to shade the images. I also inked some plain card stock for the background squares. The asymmetry of the design and the hard edges and corners mimic how it feels to grieve, when life feels broken. The serene center, with a hint of light on the horizon, offers hope. 

At least that’s how I intended it. Whether someone else sees that is up for grabs. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Sunday, June 9, 2024

She Sells Sea Shells…

We had an unexpected delay getting home. Weather in Dallas meant a two-day delay, so we’ve been playing catch-up. So for today, you get a three-for-one using Julie Ebersole’s set Shells and the coordinating dies. 

I adore this set. Julie is a genius, and the sizes of these shells are perfect for clean and simple cards. The pink card uses a very subtle splatter of ink for the background, and is highlighted with dew drops. The teal card’s background uses a Tim Holtz 3D embossing folder and rhinestones for accents. The purple and taupe card uses a coral stamp from Hero Arts. 

Do you have a favorite? I don’t. 

It’s just so much fun to vary colors and designs with a single stamp set, and particularly enjoyable to mix and match sets as needed. Thank goodness for a healthy stash of supplies!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,



Personal stuff and life advice!

My father, a full-blown grandiose narcissist, disowned me when I was 19. The no-contact allowed me to get help and begin healing from a childhood of mental, emotional, and (early in life) physical abuse. I’m writing more about this experience in private ways right now (he died in February), but I do want to share a bit here so those of you who are fortunate enough to have two healthy parents might have better tools for helping friends who have experienced a narcissistic parent. 

First, when a person tells you they have gone no-contact with a parent, do NOT trot out Bible verses about honoring your father and mother. Do NOT tell them they only get two parents and they need to take care of them. Do NOT blame the victim. 

Instead, say something like, “This must be really hard for you. I’m here to listen if you need to talk.” Then, listen. Validate the person’s feelings (“I can understand how you would feel that way.”). Know that narcissistic abuse is like death by a thousand cuts…it’s constant, subtle, and relentlessly destructive to the victim.

And when that parent dies, the feelings an adult child has can be…complex. Again, listen. The feelings may go all over the place in a chaotic imitation of their childhood abuse. Or they may have reached a point in healing where they’ve processed and (mostly) healed. Or they may be somewhere in between. 

Do NOT tell them they should attend the memorial service. Do NOT tell them they need to “pay respects” to their abuser. Do NOT expect them to help write an obituary. 

Narcissistic abuse is insidious. Mostly, it’s invisible outside the home. I’ve listened my whole life to people tell me what a great man my father was, how generous he was, how kind, how supportive. That was not my experience…or my sister’s or mother’s experience either. We kept the secrets, we protected his image, and we suffered for his ego. 

The morning after he was found dead in a hotel room (heart failure at age 83), I spoke to the coroner. He asked me, delicately, if I knew why my father had a bullet-proof vest and four guns in his hotel room. I replied, “I have no idea, but I’m not surprised. He was paranoid, a conspiracy theorist, and a gun nut.” 

THAT sentence was the truth. And it felt amazing to utter it matter-of-factly. The truth DOES set you free. To then hear someone tell me a few weeks later that I needed to “pay my respects” to my abuser was upsetting to say the least, and then to have that same person bully me to help write the obituary was even more upsetting. I joked it off, saying he could put my name in it only if he worded “is survived by” as “Survivors are….” But seriously, dude. Your wife just told you not to mention the obituary to me, and you’re asking me to help you write it? WTF.

Don’t add to the suffering of an adult child of a narcissistic parent or spouse of a narcissist. If you can’t understand what they’ve been through, listen with an open heart and no judgment. Then thank God for your healthy parents and spouse. 

Because it was hell, I assure you. And no one, absolutely no one, deserves that.