Friday, March 24, 2017

Another Celtic Cross Card

As I stared at these two cards, it occurred to me that the layers could be reduced by one if I stamped the background on the base of the card.

Lo, it's simpler. And still quite lovely!

The silver border helps define the raised panel better...necessary given the incredibly light color of the Sicilian blue background. The London gray (Memento Luxe) and Sicilian blue (Impress Fresh Ink) create such a soft, serene effect, and a single light blue rhinestone brings focus to the whole design.

Soft colors may not be as eye-catching as bright ones, but there is a gentle beauty to them all the same.

And who couldn't use a little gentle beauty right now?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: PSX, Judikins
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Memento Luxe London fog, Impress Fresh Ink Sicilian blue
accessories: craft foam, glue, Prismacolor silver metallic marker, ruler, rhinestone 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

One of Those Days

Have you ever stepped on the scale and thought, "Wow, that's pretty good. I think I'll pig out today!"

Today was one of those days. I'm regretting (but only slightly) the pita bread wedges toasted with parmesan and mozzarella and dipped in marinara. And the Starbucks mocha. And the Little Debbie Swiss cake rolls. And the Girl Scout thin mints.

To be fair, there were only four thin mints. I found them in a bin on my craft desk where I'd hidden them from Son #1 who has even less control than I have with those little bits of Girl Scout crack minty deliciousness.

Tomorrow I will be good and eat lettuce and be sad, but today, I was AWESOME!

Of course, my pig-out was very un-Lenten, so we must shift our subject awkwardly to Easter and today's card, which is my second-favorite Easter card this year. (Yesterday's card is my favorite.)

6.25" x 3.5"

In contrast to yesterday's card, in which the contrast of the rough, angled cross and the crisp, clean sentiment created tension and wonderful balance, today's card is all about the harmony of crispness. I chose the short, wide card size to add a very strong asymmetry and balances the straight vertical of the cross.

And now I have two Easter card designs that are neither cute nor highly embellished. Whew.

stamps: Simon Says Stamp Rejoice
ink: Memento LuLu lavender, Archival black, Ancient Page amethyst
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: not a one needed for this totally flat, easy-to-mail card!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Easter Blessings

Have you ever noticed how few clean-and-simple Easter cards there are? Oh, you'll find a few stunningly CAS cards like this one from Pinterest, but mostly, Easter cards tend toward more embellishments, designer paper, layers, frills, and die cuts.

Plus, they are often cute, and we all know I'm cute-impaired.

So what's an ultra-CAS stamper to do?

Fret and ruin a bunch of paper, it turns out.


Today, however, my creative Muse chose to speak up after days of silence, and the blog posts today and tomorrow will spotlight the results of her rather condescending dope-slaps on the back of my head.

Truly, when I realized how simple these two cards were, it was definitely a duh moment.

Why is CAS so hard?

That's a rhetorical question.

Anyway, I now have two designs for my personal Easter cards that feel like I made them, which is a blessing.

The first card is absolutely not original. As soon as I made it, I knew that someone has to have come up with this idea before because it truly is so obvious once you see it. Who knows? I might even have seen this concept in my frequent scrolling through Pinterest, the idea might have lodged in my subconscious, and then it resurfaced today in this card and made me feel brilliantly creative for a moment.

This card combines Simon Says Stamp's Rejoice set and My Favorite Things Jumbo Abstract Art. I love how the pastel, loose, and tilted slashes of Memento LuLu lavender contrast with the crisp, clean fonts, dark colors, and perfect straightness of the black and amethyst sentiment.

Balance is a beautiful thing.

How many sheets of Papertrey white cardstock gave their lives before this card was born?

Too many. But persistence pays off.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and Easter blessings,

stamps: Simon Says Stamp Rejoice, MFT Jumbo Abstract Art
ink: Memento LuLu lavender, Archival black, and Ancient Page amethyst
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: not a one was cool is that?!?!?!

Monday, March 20, 2017

My New Favorite Blue

Colors make me happy...light shades, dark shades, everything in between. Colors, colors everywhere!

So many of the Archival ink shades I've been collecting for the past year have truly made me happy, especially manganese blue.

Oh, my.

It's intense, energetic blue. It's electrified blue. It's in-your-face blue.

Ordinarily, blue is a soothing, cool color. Many shades of blue (especially the ones I usually use) are relaxing, calm, serene.

But not manganese blue. It pops right off white cardstock like it was made to be the king of blue-y blues.

All-caps BLUE. Manganese blue pairs nicely with black and holds up well to it.

And really, the colors are my favorite thing about this card. I like how the sentiment coordinates with the images (love those fonts!), and the black Stickles on the flower centers is sparkly and fun, but otherwise, the design doesn't make sense. Why is that line blocking the flowers? How can they grow and "get well" as the card's theme suggests? It's just weird.

A good idea that shouldn't have seen the light of day.

The blue saves it, though. At least, for me, manganese blue saves the card.

It's okay if you don't like it the design, but you just gotta love that blue!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Floral Frenzy and sentiment
ink: Archival manganese blue, black
paper: Papertrey
accessories: black Stickles, corner rounder

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Floral Frenzy

In the Great Reintegration of Stamps last week, Floral Frenzy from Papertrey was saved from the Get Rid Of box. For the next few days, we'll take a look at some cards I made with it.

Today, we're looking at two similar cards. The first plays off a layout commonly used with flowers, snowflakes, or any other roundish image. Here's one example from my Cards Board on Pinterest.

These colors look so scrumptious! They are mostly Impress Fresh Ink colors (chamomile, mango, pink lemonade, sugar) with a little Mama Elephant thrown in (moonlight). They look so fresh and spring-like and happy.

The two largest daisy images come from Floral Frenzy, but the two smallest ones come from Beautiful Blooms II. Lovely match, actually.

The second version shifts the orientation to landscape and moves the spray of flowers to the center of the card, while keeping the sentiment in the sweet spot of lower right. The color scheme shifts also to pretty blues...calmer and more soothing than the pink-and-yellow combination.

Again with the Impress Fresh Ink (freesia and Capri) with the Mama Elephant moonlight. The Freesia was a bit too dark for me to feel safe stamping over it, even with black, so I raised the sentiment up on a white banner.

Several people have asked about donating cards to Karen's Card Shop at my church. We have a lot of cards in overstock already, but if you have any get-well or sympathy cards, we would really appreciate them. Those two categories sell really well, and we're having a hard time keeping them in stock. We can use A2-standard size cards. I have envelopes and clear bags to put with them. Email me at gsraihala at roadrunner dot com for the address if you are interested.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Floral Frenzy, Beautiful Blooms II, Keep It Simple sentiment
paper: Papertrey white
ink: see above
accessories: dimensionals

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Variations Inspired by Birgit

Y'all, Birgit (biggan of Splitcoast fame) has long inspired me with her clean and artsy style, and when I saw THIS PIN, I knew it was hers before even glancing at the signature. It inspired both my cards for today.

Here's the meandering path my stream of consciousness flowed.

Oh, the medieval manuscript background is sitting out on my baker's rack. Maybe I should do something sort of Celtic; after all, it's March, the month of St. Patrick's Day. What does my Pinterest Cards board have to inspire me?

Oh, wow! Birgit! That's perfect! But no, I can't make a tall, thin card because if these end up in Karen's Card Shop, I won't have a cellophane envelope to fit it. So scale will have to change. That's fine. And no buttons because, well, I don't do buttons. But if I go Celtic, I can use that PSX Celtic cross stamp, and oh boy is it a pretty one that doesn't need a button.

Sponging is fun with these Tim Holtz mini blending tools! My, how easy this is to put down some rich color. Background done, now start on the cross. Hmmm. Needs more definition. Oh, no. That dark brown is too dark. The cross looks dreary now. Try again. Oh, yes! That's much better! Assemble and see if it works. Make sure background is trimmed so one third is stamped, two thirds are white. Layer the cross so one third covers the stamped background and two thirds are over the white.

Rule of thirds squared!

That's more math than my middle-aged brain can handle, actually.

Oh, yes! A bling in the center of the cross draws the eye perfectly. And it's sort of St. Paddy-ish with the hints of green, or maybe an Easter card? Whichever. I like it!

Hmm. It's got lots of white, but might something without sponging be more Lateblossom-y? Let's look at my ink colors. Oh, yes! Sea glass would be lovely with the background stamp, and maybe ocean depth for the cross. Let's try taking our third for the background from the bottom rather than the left. Maybe that would look more grounded.

Dang it. Residue from the brown ink contaminated the sea glass. Ugh. Where's my Grandma's Stamp Cleaner. There it is. *squirt, squirt, wipe, wipe, ink, ink* Much better! Oh how I love the cross stamped in Versamagic ocean depth!

Time to put it all together. Add a bling. Wow, that doesn't look much like Birgit's inspiration card, but man, I sure like it a lot. The fresh, spring-like colors would make a nice Easter card. Yay!

And there you have it. Variations inspired by the brilliant and oh-so-talented Birgit.

Thank you, Birgit, for such a fun and beautiful inspiration card!

stamps: PSX (cross) and Judikins (background)
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Top Card: Archival fern, coffee; Bottom Card: Versamagic ocean depth, Avery Elle sea glass
accessories: craft foam, glue, rhinestones

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Susan for the Save!

The sentiment on today's card was stamped too low for another card design (which I never did get to work, sadly), so the card base with its too-low sentiment sat on my desk looking all forlorn.

Then I thought about Altenew's Botanical Garden and BAM! The perfect use for that sad mistake!

Doesn't that pink butterfly inspire you to get better? It certainly does inspire me as I seem to be coming down with a cold and can use all the inspiration I can get.


Hopefully, you're feeling like the butterfly and without a care in the world.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Keep It Simple sentiment, Altenew Botanical Garden
ink: Memento Luxe London fog, rose bud
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: silver metallic marker, craft foam, glue

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hanging on by a Tail

The layout of today's card was inspired by this lovely card by Serita Simmonett.

The seahorse looks so striking in shades of yellow. My original plan was to put more aquatic color on the card, but everything I tried (aqua card base included) just didn't work right for me. The gray allows the yellow to really sing, and there's just a hint of aqua in the bling bubbles.

My favorite part of this card is the pairing of the sentiment with an image of a seahorse holding onto seaweed with its tail.

Who among us hasn't had to hold onto something in the currents of life?

I hope you're hanging in there in this season of hacking and coughing.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Color-Layering Seahorse, Keep It Simple sentiment
ink: Memento Luxe London fog; Archival saffron; Memento daffodil; Hero Arts butter bar
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, Copic marker (to color rhinestones), craft foam, glue

Monday, March 13, 2017

Christmas Inspiration and Hoarding

So there's an awesome card by Jill Foster I saw on Pinterest that served as inspiration for today's Christmas card. I took the idea of clear-embossing resist and the layout from Jill's fabulous card, made the stamped area smaller (more white space!), used a Tim Holtz mini blending tool rather than watercolor, and simplified the design.

The influence of Jill's card, however, is easy to see.

To make the card, I used masks (simple post-it notes) to create a soft gradient on green for the top two-thirds of the stamped panel (after clear-embossing the pine branch, of course) and then the red strip on the bottom. The sentiment sits in the middle...uniting the natural, peaceful green with the joyful, energetic red. So simple. So clean. So festive!

Now, some thoughts on hoarding.

Regular readers might remember that I periodically cull older sets from my stash, store them in my unfinished basement (cold storage), and then revisit them a year later. The usual result is a sale of grab bags so I have more cash for new stamps. If I didn't pull the stamps out of storage in the course of a year, the logic goes, I clearly don't need them.

Something different happened this time.

Peaceful Pinecones, the stamp set used to make today's card, came from storage. It was so much fun to play with, I decided to go through the whole box and reconsider all the sets. In the end, all but four sets (probably thirty sets in all) went back into my regular stash, forcing me to rearrange stamps and pull out additional CD storage boxes.

It's all so surreal.

With such a massive influx of stamps I've not used in a year, it might be a while before I buy new stamps. Some (perhaps many) of these sets will likely end up back in cold storage, but Peaceful Pinecones won't be one of them. Its classic, clean images should never have ended up in cold storage in the first place.

I do not have a problem.

I do not have a problem.

I do not have a problem.

Do I?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Pinecones
ink: Tim Holtz Distress inks, Versamark (for embossing)
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: clear embossing powder, heat gun, post-it notes, craft foam, glue, mini inking tool

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Time for Wine

Thanks to Martha for catching that the set is from Simon Says, not Hero. Sorry about that!

I love coffee in the morning and a glass of wine at night.


It's interesting, though. I need several cups of coffee in the morning, but only a single glass of wine in the evenings.

I'm a cheap date.

The wine must be red. Big. Bold. Dry. A cabernet. A zinfandel. Or Apothic Dark, which is a delightful blend.

That's what I'm drinking now, actually.

So when I saw the Simon Says Stamp set Time for Wine, I knew I needed it. So much.

Of course, the set is mostly outline images in need of coloring, so I used Gina K's heavy-duty white card stock...which does not bleed through when colored with Copics. To create a hint of light hitting the grapes, I used a white gel pen. Not sure if that was a good idea, but my Copic shading skillz aren't awesome, and the effect is fine by me.

But perhaps it's the wine.

Reader Debbie asked about the job hunt. For those who missed it, my eldest son will be a senior next year and will go to college the following year. My younger son, the one with autism, is doing very well and no longer needs me at home all the time. I'm getting the itch to teach again and so will be applying for adjunct instructor positions at area colleges. If that doesn't work out, I'll find something part time as a writer/editor or as a clerk at Barnes & Noble.

Teaching is what calls to me, and I so hope that will work out. In fact, just before my younger son was diagnosed before he turned four, I was getting my resume together to teach again. His diagnosis derailed those plans, and I'm so grateful to have been in the position to dedicate myself full time to his treatment and therapy. He's now 14, and I have more freedom to pursue other interests. Teaching English is the most soul-satisfying professional job I've ever had. We have a number of universities in the area, so I am hopeful.

Stamping and blogging will continue! No worries there.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Simon Says Stamp Time for Wine
ink: Versamagic Concord grape, Memento black
paper: Gina K white
accessories: Copic markers, white gel pen, craft foam, glue

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cards Received

In the past week, I've received two splendid cards I simply must share.

First up, LuC sent me her unused bottle of yellow Stickles and this fabulous card, the focal point of which incorporates three of my favorite things: flowers, coffee, and the best book ever! What a great image, beautifully colored and framed with fun DP that echoes the colors of the big flower in the focal point. Gorgeous!

Next, Janet sent me a card to inspire and encourage me in my job hunt. It is splendidly shiny with silver embossing, has great use of negative space, and unites the front and inside of the card perfectly.

Check out that little silver star sticker after "bliss"!

Y'all, these two cards totally made my week. The job hunt is moving along slowly. It's a challenge to write a resume with an almost 20-year gap in it, but I'm leveraging my volunteer work as best I can. My plan is to start with an academic resume and try to get on adjunct lists at various universities in our area and then write a more corporate resume (read shorter) to explore writer/editor jobs if nothing pans out in academia. I truly would like to go back to teaching, though.

Thanks so much to LuC and Janet for lifting my spirits this week with their lovely talent and kindness!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Healing Flowers

Regular readers know that I started a card shop at church where we sell cards made by several members of the church (including me), as well as several kind readers of this blog who've donated cards. (Thank you, Lisa and Eva!)

The shop is dedicated to my friend Karen Wenzel, who died fighting leukemia in November, 2015. At her funeral, many people commented on cards she had sent them and how much they meant. I opened my birthday card from her just hours after she died. She'd sent it the previous morning before being transported by ambulance to the James Cancer Center.

Cards were just one of many ways Karen showed her love for so many people. She was always giving people little gifts (often books) and spent much of her time working with children, a butterfly rescue organization, and Stephen Ministry.

Proceeds from Karen's Card Shop go directly into the church's general fund, and this week, we passed the $500 mark after only eight months in business! The pastor decided some of that money would be used to purchase copies of a new book from Stephen Ministry to give to church members diagnosed with cancer. The book, titled Cancer--Now What?, is a practical guide for those with cancer and their loved ones. It guides and supports cancer patients and their families through the medical, emotional, relational, and spiritual challenges they may encounter.

If you would like to learn more about the book or order a copy, click here.

One of the best-selling categories of cards in Karen's Card Shop is Get Well. I played around with Beautiful Blooms II (Papertrey) and came up with this cheerful cascade of blooms in a fun and fresh complementary color scheme.

The ink colors are Archival French ultramarine, manganese blue, and black, and Memento Bahama blue. The pops of blue and orange add to the energy and movement on the card, as do the two opposing rounded corners.

Of course, I couldn't put a rhinestone on the envelope, but I did add some orange Stickles for a little shine.

I'm tickled blue and orange that Karen's Card Shop has done so well...and that we can use some of the money in Karen's memory to provide comfort and guidance to those who are fighting the same fight she fought.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Beautiful Blooms II, Keep It Simple Healing Wishes
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Memento Bahama blue; Archival French ultramarine, manganese blue, black
accessories: Corner Chomper, Stickles, rhinestones

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Fresh Take

One of my favorite layouts (harkening back to the first post on this here blog...many years ago!) is an oldie but a goodie. The challenge is making it still look fresh and fun. I think the newish set from Hero Arts called Birthday Celebrations does the trick.

Lots of white space with pops of color, geometric confetti shapes and linear circles (an oxymoron!), the tension of angles and curves, and a slightly distressed sentiment that contrasts with the crisp all just works.

My first post on this blog was March 20, 2009. That's almost exactly eight years ago. It was also 2,382 posts ago. Wow. If that's not a sign of obsession mental illness a whole lotta crazy a happy hobby, I don't know what is.

I challenge you to take this basic layout--three images in a line and a sentiment underneath--and make it fresh. Share your links in the comments!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Birthday Celebrations
ink: Archival Ink manganese blue, peacock, black; Memento Danube blue
paper: Papertrey white 
accessories: 1" square punch, dimensionals

Monday, March 6, 2017

More Gathered Garden

Y'all, this card took two tries to get right. The first time, I used a scrap that was just too small...and my bouquet ended up off the edge of one side and a quarter inch in on the other. It's so sad when everything about a stamped piece is perfect except placement.Ugh.

Plus, it's a rookie mistake. It's ALWAYS better to stamp on a too-large scrap and trim it down to fit, which is what I did the second time around.


This card is going to my MIL who had surgery last week. She'll love the color combination...and it's so cheery, don't you think?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Gathered Garden, Clearly Besotted A Little Sentimental
ink: Various dye inks
paper: Papertrey
accessories: craft foam, glue

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Playing with Gathered Garden

My last Papertrey order included Gathered Garden, which is a large, varied set with some cute bows to tie together a bouquet.

The bows, however, do not feature on today's card.

After attempting to make several cards with backgrounds using multiple stamps from the set (and failing spectacularly), I decided to pull a random scrap out of my scrap drawer and work with a single 3-step image from the set. I only used two of the three stamps, though, because the two stems turned out so nicely in Impress Fresh ink kale and merlot. So yay. But the strip was a bit too bare above the stems, so I added a little butterfly from Beautiful Butterflies (also Papertrey). The sentiment comes from a Penny Black set (not sure of the name).

A little bit of bling on the butterfly finishes the card.

All that white space made me so happy! In the end, I've decided that the images in the set are a bit too detailed and large for me to create a successful clean-and-simple looking background with them. And that's okay. Working with a single pretty, detailed image works just fine for my CAS style. And after a few cards, I even managed to make one that uses four different stems! Go, me!

But that will wait for another day.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. We did.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Gathered Garden, Beautiful Butterflies; Penny Black (sentiment)
ink: Impress Fresh Ink kale, merlot; VersaMagic pink petunia
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue, rhinestones

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Few Cards I've Received

Just wanted to share with you cards that kind readers have sent me in the past month or so. Know that every single card you send ends up on my inspiration board, where I continue to get joy from it for many, many months to come!

One side of Marty's darling layered tag
in pinks and browns.

And the other side!

Lisa sent bold get-well wishes from herself and her German
shepherd Annie. I'll bet Annie and my Daisy would
have fun running around together! 

The bling and metallic accents on the front and rear bumpers
draw attention to the cute pup saying hello! 

Michelle brought together a number of different elements--die cut heart,
embossed white layer, patterned paper, hand-colored focal point--
in perfect, clean-and-simple harmony.

Janet sent me this adorable valentine-tag-in-a-bag. Note the tiny
dimensional pink heart opposite the stronger red stamped heart
under the tree. Perfect!

Many, many thanks to Janet, Michelle, Lisa, and Marty for brightening my days in February with your kindness and your talent!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Amazing Grace

This card was inspired by this page at the website Dribbble, which is the Inspiration Challenge site for this week's IC586 at Splitcoast.

The words to the hymn Amazing Grace were written by John Newton, a slave trader who repented and became an Anglican minister and wrote a number of hymns. I felt the stylized ocean waves from the inspiration page made a perfect border for these two powerful words. The ocean is inconceivably huge, and so is God's grace. It floats us through life's rough patches and is unspeakably...amazing!

Even if you've heard the song a hundred times or more, I encourage you to listen to THIS VERSION of it. It's wonderful.

Mercy, GRACE, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey
ink: Hero Arts and Archival
paper: Papertrey
accessories: copy paper for masks, temporary adhesive, inking tool (Tim Holtz mini)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

First Christmas Card of the Year

Yes, today is the first day of Lent, but after staring at this particular pin for a few minutes, I decided the design was perfect for Papertrey's What the Doodle: Snowflakes.

And it was.

You can clearly see the inspiration of the pin in this narrow 3.5" x 5.5" card. The densely stamped strip at the bottom contrasts with the open spaces of the raised panel pleasingly, just as in the pin, although I did add a strip of silver to give some definition between the two looked odd without the silver. Adding some clear bling brings the silver into the design, though, and it all looks unified and snowy!

This stamp set is absolutely delightful, and I see myself making lots of cards with it. I needed a fresh and fun snowflake set, and this definitely fits the bill!

Today is Ash Wednesday, and I'd love to hear from those of you who honor Lent how you're preparing for Easter. Are you giving up chocolate or Facebook, doing extra volunteer work, praying extra, committing to going to church every Sunday, eating fish on Fridays, or some other observance?

While many benefit from giving up something for Lent (especially my mother), that practice has never felt spiritual or meaningful to me. Years ago, a pastor suggested that instead of taking away something, Christians should add something to their lives during Lent. It was a revelation that truly turned Lent around for me. My plan is to read Ann Voskamp's book The Broken Way and to send a card for every day of Lent.

I'm a big believer that we are all on unique spiritual walks with God or divinity or the universe...whatever you want to call it. As a consequence, I hope each of you who wants to do something for this season finds what leads you in the direction you choose to go.

And if you want to start making Christmas cards, well, go right ahead!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey What the Doodle: Snowflakes
ink: Archival sky blue, cornflower, black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, Prismacolor Silver Metallic marker, ruler, craft foam, glue