Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye, 2016

Here's a recap of some of my favorite cards from this past year. For some months, it was easy to pick one favorite, but for other months, it was terribly hard to narrow it down to just one.













And now we say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017. Whatever will 2017 bring? No idea, but it's bound to be interesting!

Happy New Year!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Friday, December 30, 2016

Big Hearts

I learned a new word today: meraki. It's a Greek word that means putting a piece of your soul into your work. 

Today's card has a piece of my soul in it. What's especially wonderful is that I could NOT have made this card without a bit of inspiration from a picture in a magazine, which reminds me of how we are all creatively connected and fills me with warm fuzzies.

First, the inspiration photo, taken from a page in the latest Somerset Life magazine.The image shows how Rachel Emilie Jackson transformed a piece of business correspondence into something beautiful. 

I took her idea of a strip of paper anchored with a flower and made a Valentine's Day card out of it.

Minimalism at its most me: tons of gorgeous white space, words in the background, a giant heart-shaped rhinestone as a powerful--and meaningful--focal point. This card screams LOVE...very, very minimally. 

I love it!!!

The stamped strip of paper uses an old Hero Arts background stamp in Archival potting soil ink. I cut the strip to be only slightly shorter than the rhinestone, which hangs ever-so-slightly over the top and bottom of the strip. It's offset to the left for a pleasing asymmetry, just as Rachel placed her flower to the left. 
*happy sigh*

I meraki-ed!

Why don't you do the same? Close out 2016 by making something that includes a piece of your creative soul. Be fearless. Ring in 2017 with passion and paper crafting!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love at the end of a very weird year,

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Archival potting soil
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: giant red rhinestone shaped like a heart!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

One Little Thing

Being a minimalist, I am drawn to cards that have just one image and one sentiment, but with such a simple design, there must be something interesting about the image...and if possible, something to anchor the image visually so it's not floating on the card.

Consider this rough draft, if you will:

The added interest comes from the Kaleidacolor ink pad used to ink up the to hot pink to purple. The purple is continued into the sentiment for added unity of the design. So far, so good. But that lantern is floating in space (not typical behavior for your average lantern in earth's gravitational influence), and even if the light were better in the photo, you'd still think something is missing. 

What about a simple purple bow? Yes, the lantern is still floating in space...the only way around that would be to create a line across the card from which to hang it. But the bow adds a bit of dimension and gives the illusion of support for the lantern. The fact that it's purple unites the design even further. 

Sometimes, all it takes is one little thing to bring a clean-and-simple design together. 

On another note, I just read online (so it must be true) that a GoFundMe page has been set up to protect Betty White from 2016, and it's raised thousands of dollars already. This has been a terrible year of loss for entertainers, but the combined mother-daughter loss of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher within a day of each other seems particularly sad. My heart goes out to their family and friends and to all who are grieving loved ones lost this year. 

May all who are grieving find comfort. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love as we say farewell to 2016. 

stamps: Hero Arts Konnichiwa Lantern, Clearly Besotted A Little Sentimental
ink: Kaleidacolor 
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: purple craft floss

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Dreams Are Made with Tiny Embellishments: A Lesson

Hero Arts' new set called Dreams Are Made makes me so very happy. It's a lovely set, full of quotations mostly from Shakespeare and also mostly from A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of my favorites of the Bard's many plays.

One quotation, however, comes from Hamlet and is clearly taken entirely out of context, which inhibits my use of it, seeing as I'm a master of literature and all. (We have rules, people!) When Hamlet says, "To sleep, perchance to dream..." in Act III, scene 1, he's depressed as all heck and reflecting on suicide. It's not a nice line, yet here it appears in a gorgeous dream-land stamp set full of stars and the moon and an owl and clouds, sounding pretty dreamy and innocent.

Those of us who know better will struggle to dissociate it from its original intent. My apologies if I've now ruined that quotation for you. I still bought the set because, as I said, it's lovely.

The quotation on my card today isn't from Shakespeare at all, but from 19th-century British novelist Sarah Williams. I love it, though, and used it here happily.

With this set, the most logical use of it is to clear emboss images and sponge a dark blue sky over them, simulating night. I've done that HERE. But I wanted to see how it would look in blue on my beloved white card stock, and the effect was surprisingly pleasing.

The card looked fine with just the ink and paper, but it still needed a little something-something, so silver half-beads to the rescue!

Several people have asked about rhinestone/bead placement, and there are a few guidelines I use that might help you. But WARNING! I screw up cards all the time either by going "a bling too far" or by following one of my guidelines and not liking the results. There's no hard and fast rule that works all the time, and sometimes it feels like I'm using the Force. With that disclaimer assertively out there, here are some guidelines.

1. Odd numbers generally look better. Not always, but usually.
2. Arrange the bling in triangles...very irregular triangles, like acute or obtuse, not equilateral.
3. Vary size of bling when possible, and also consider using different colors if your color combination allows for it.

So when we apply these three guidelines to the above card, we see I sort of followed them. The top three half beads are almost an equilateral triangle, but since the bottom bead is on the raised panel of the card, the symmetry doesn't seem so noticeable. I didn't add the bling on the raised panel until all the other bling was placed...hadn't intended to put any up there because it'll make this card hard to mail. That bead placed right next to the beginning of the quotation went there to draw your eye to the words.

The two beads on the bottom of the raised panel form an irregular triangle with the bead at the beginning of the quotation, and also with the top bead below the raised panel. That helps pull your eye down and through the design. That bead just below the raised panel also forms an irregular triangle with the two beads directly above it.

See what I did there? All the triangles are linked, if you will. Pretend that the beads on the raised panel aren't there. Those top two beads form a triangle with the first bead below the panel, which then forms another triangle with the bottom two. Five beads, two triangles, both irregular. That was my plan.

I thought that would be enough, but it just wasn't. Adding another triangle on the raised panel created more links, drew the eye to the beginning of the quotation, and brought the fabulously starry owl into the design, unifying everything.

Also, you'll notice that all but one of the beads are medium-size. That one small bead on the raised panel made sense (especially when you have to put two beads pretty close together...the variation is size is generally more interesting), but as I held the small beads over the dark blue stars, I realized they just disappeared into the visual chaos of dark blue. The largest beads on the backing sheet overwhelmed the chaos. Thus, the plethora of medium beads.

So if you've followed all this, you realize that it can be hugely easy to screw this balancing act up, and the process of finding your way toward something successful is as much trial-and-error and plain good luck as it is thoughtful planning.

For me.

Believe it or not, there are people who look at a design and "see" in their mind's eye where everything needs to go. Those people need to keep their traps shut and not rub it in because the rest of us poor schmucks have to waste a lot of bling and paper getting this stuff right.

So I close with a comforting reminder of two simple mantras I repeat to myself frequently:

1. It's only paper.
2. Bling is really cheap if you buy it at Michael's for half price.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love in the new year,

stamps: Hero Arts Dreams Are Made
ink: Archival cobalt, Memento Luxe black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Prismacolor silver metallic marker, metal ruler, craft foam, glue, silver half beads

Monday, December 26, 2016

Complementary Pop and Thanks for Your Input

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas holiday (we did!) and are looking forward to celebrating a new year full of promise and hope!

Want a simple way to add instant pop to a card? Just use two complementary colors. In today's case, I'm using yellow and purple. Remember that complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel.

Card size 3.75" x 7.25"

Altenew's Simple Flowers lends itself to bold, bright cards that carry high impact with minimum fuss. The images are quite large, as is that word beautiful, so I went with a long, low card and used bling to add more movement to the design. 

The two trios of bling seemed necessary because those blossoms are big. My original plan was to have two pairs of bling and a fifth dotting the eye (odd number, of course), but the pairs simply didn't carry enough visual weight next to those incredibly bold gold and purple blossoms. Adding two more rhinestones meant there is still an odd total number, but they sparkle and stand out more. 

Isn't bling wonderful?

Of course it is.

Anyway, I asked you to challenge me with what you'd like to see on Simplicity, and the answers I got were as follows.

  1. Explain design choices more. As time permits, I'll do this. See above.
  2. Throw-back days: revisit old designs for new inspiration. Awesome idea. Will do.
  3. Washi tape. I need ideas for this myself and will go looking for stuff to share.
  4. Patterned paper. Not likely. It makes me twitchy. 
  5. Fibonacci sequence in design. It's as easy as 1, 1, 2, 3.
  6. Using die cuts. Highly unlikely. I'm a rebel that way. My friend Karen uses them beautifully.
  7. PTI's Doodlie-Do. Can doodlie-do.
  8. Surprises, going outside the Simplicity box. Absolutely!

For those of you who missed making suggestions the first time around, feel free to send some more my way. As one year ends and another begins, it's natural to want to freshen up all areas of our lives, and my blogs are no exception. Constructive suggestions are always welcome!

stamps: Altenew Simple Flowers
ink: Hero Arts butter bar, Archival leaf green, violet, and black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

To all of you, wherever you are and whether you celebrate Christmas or another holy day or nothing at all on December 25th....

I wish for us all four things:

Hope that things will get better.

Peace in our hearts, even in the midst of conflict.

Joy in every small blessing...and in every great one, too.

Love that is unearned, unrepayable, and unending, flowing to us and through us to others.

And to those who do celebrate Christmas, may you be blessed by the remembered presence of the Messiah in the manger, Emmanuel, God with Us.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Make-Over

I needed to make a few more Christmas cards, so I looked back over previous cards and came across THIS ONE, which, upon reflection, looks a bit odd. So I decided it was time for a Christmas make-over.

My issue with the first card is simply one of harmony. The holly, with its water-color effect, doesn't quite mesh as well as I'd like with the vintage feel of the script background. I can't remember why I pulled the holly from Hero Arts Holiday Pine Boughs set, which has stylized images, and the script and sentiment from Hero Arts Vintage Christmas Post, which has vintage images. But I decided to try again using JUST images from Vintage Christmas Post.

The results are far more satisfying to my eye!

Now, the card is far more unified stylistically, and I call that a successful make-over!

I hope you all are getting ready for Christmas and feeling the spirit of the season even amidst the busyness.

Hope, peace, joy, and love!

stamps: Hero Arts Vintage Christmas Post
ink: Archival fern, potting soil, red geranium; Hero Arts wet cement
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: none

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pink and Orange: A Happy Combination

A sure-fire color combo for kicky fun is bright pink and orange. When I realized I had a bunch of pink and orange enamel dots that have languished unused, I had to give them some love.

So much fun!

What do you have languishing unused in your stash? Too many things to name? Why not challenge yourself to use some of that hoard over the holidays? Cut loose, have some fun, and be creative because, shouldn't really need a reason, right?

And while I'm challenging you, why don't you challenge me. What would you like to see me do in the next few months? Is there a particular product or color combo or technique or stamp set that you'd like to see more of? (I won't buy new sets but I can find one in my stash that's similar!) Or a particular type of card, like birthday, sympathy, or get well? Is there a particular design principle you'd like me to play with? What do you want?

On another note, this holiday, please sprinkle mercy, grace, peace, and love all around you. We need more of those...and there's a limitless supply waiting to be tapped!

stamps: Papertrey Birthday Bash Sentiments, and I can't remember the leaf stamp
ink: Archival vibrant fuchsia, tiger lily; Memento Luxe tuxedo black
paper: Papertrey
accessories: craft foam, glue, enamel dots, scallop scissors (to slightly round corners of raised panel)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Letting My Freak Flag Fly

Do you remember that old HGTV show about neighbors house-swapping to redecorate a single room on a very limited budget? The designers would paint brick fireplaces or drywall over painted brick, and if the homeowners seemed to prefer earthtones, the designer would use neon. The idea seemed to be "do the opposite of whatever is there."

The worst episode of all included a bedroom wall covered in cork board tiles upon which the designer pinned...wait for moss. I don't know what she was thinking, but apparently, it smelled really bad. The homeowners were not amused.

Sometimes, inspiration affects me the way those brick fireplaces affected the designers: Hmmm, let's do the opposite.

Here's my inspiration:

Printable Wedding Invitation Set // Succulents Leaves and Herbs // by Oak House Printable Designs:
I focused on the layout of the invitation at the very top of the inspiration photo. It's so pretty and soft and natural and blue and green. I own several stamp sets that would have achieved a very similar look to the inspiration piece, but I didn't reach for those.

Oh, no. I let my freak flag fly.

Whoa!!! The cherry cobbler splatters really don't look as much like blood in real life as they do on my screen.

But seriously, and be honest, is this my moss wall? Does it stink and I just don't know it? Because I love it. There's so much energy, so much artsy freedom going on here. And it was hugely fun to make, especially when I found that saying about age being a work of art. Perfect!

You're entitled to hate it. I feel like I should because it's so not me. But you know, sometimes the heart loves what it loves, and there's not much you can do about it. Even if it's a moss wall.

Just so you don't think I've completely lost my mind, I made a second card using the same layout that makes me just as happy but for VERY different reasons.

The monochrome scheme definitely feels like me. The crisp white raised panel, the bling, the uncluttered feel, the trio of snowflakes arranged in triangle...happy sigh! I love a snowflake card that says some variation of "warm wishes" because the very best thing about snow is being inside, drinking a hot beverage, all warm and cuddly and comfy, watching snow fall outside.

I've been skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho,  and my favorite part of the trip was sipping cocoa in the lodge, reading a book, and people watching. (And no, I never saw Arnold or Bruce or Demi, though they frequented Sun Valley at the time.) Anyway, sitting in the lodge was much more fun, warmer, and less painful than my ski, ski, fall, ski, ski, fall technique on the slopes. That was embarrassing, that was.

Wow. This post has been all over the place. I mailed 98 Christmas cards today and still have to make about 30 more. Feeling a little overwhelmed and giddy at the same time.

Grunge, moss walls, warmest wishes, and Merry Christmas.

Life is weird.

That's why we need mercy, grace, peace, love, and warmth...and those are my wish to you this cold evening.

Grunge card
stamps: My Favorite Things Jumbo Abstract Art, Papertrey Grunge Me
ink; Archival plum, StampinUp cherry cobbler, Memento canteloupe, Hero Arts pumpkin pie and soft blossom
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue

Warmest Card
stamps: My Favorite Things Jumbo Abstract Art, StampinUp and Hero Arts snowflakes
ink: Hero Arts soft pool; Archival forget-me-not and paradise teal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue, rhinestones

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Pretty Pink Poppy and an Update on Jonah

The pink and gold color combination on today's card came from somewhere on the Anthropologie website and several pins on Pinterest. It's just so pretty!

I thought I'd finished the card when I added the bling, but the matte black center of the poppy looked sort of dead, so I pulled out some black Stickles and livened it up a bit. Much better.

In the close-up you can see the faint grid background for the raised panel. The Memento angel pink is VERY pale, but that subtlety pays off with this card. Stark white would have looked sort of, well, stark. This is softer, more elegant. The grid contrasts with the soft curves of the poppy, adding interest without making the design busy.

The stamped panel looked really odd on a white card, so I was grateful to my little stash of colored Papertrey cardstock for this lovely light pink.

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

Update on Jonah

Remember three years back when we had a card drive for a little boy named Jonah who was battling cancer? Well, in a strange coincidence, Jonah's mom Molly attended the funeral for my friend Keith a few weeks ago. She knows Keith's son Murray from her church, so she came to the funeral to support him.

My brain was definitely on the eulogy I was about to give, but I'm so glad Molly stopped me and shared that Jonah is doing great. You can see pictures from early this year on his Facebook page, and he's growing so well!  Molly shared that he often tells strangers that he had cancer and is fine now...a great way for a young child to process the trauma of cancer he can barely understand. Strangers, of course, are sometimes taken aback, but it's so good for Jonah to have a healthy attitude toward what happened.

If you're the praying type, send up a little prayer of thanksgiving that this precious child is doing so very well and that he continues to do so under the great care his family and doctors are giving!

Hope, peace, joy, and love this Christmas week,

stamps: Altenew Painted Poppy, Papertrey Mega Mixed Messages
ink: Hero Arts intense black, Memento angel pink
paper: Papertrey 
accessories: craft foam, gold metallic marker, glue, Stickles, rhinestones

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Clarification, Plus Two Cards for IC576

Important Clarification: Several readers have indicated they think Simplicity is going away. THIS IS NOT TRUE. The One-Layer Simplicity Challenge IS fact HAS ended. For details on that decision, please visit the OLS blog here. But all four of the OLS design team members (Heather Telford, Karen Dunbrook, Ardyth Percy-Robb, and I) are continuing to stamp and blog our hearts out. I've kept the links to their blogs on my sidebar because they are amazing and it was such an honor to work with them. OLS is finished, but Simplicity most definitely will continue to pump out posts of clean-and-simple cards for a long time yet, "God willing and the creek don't rise," as my grandma used to say.

Audrie's choice of a Pinterest board of ceramics is absolutely inspiring this week over at the SCS Inspiration Challenge. Here are the two cards I made for it today.

First up, a card inspired by an ugly pin (to my eye, at least, the pot looks diseased) and a fabulous one. Together they gave me this card:

Inks: Archival red geranium, Delicata gold

The lines come from Papertrey's Faux Ribbon, the circles from Background Basics: Circles, and the sentiment from Clearly Besotted's Holiday Sentiments. Obviously, the horizontal red beads were inspired by the ugly pot, and the fabulous pot gave me the idea of lines linking geometric shapes. I considered making the lines vertical as in the fabulous pots, but the horizontal arrangement allowed the perfect space for the sentiment.

The second card was inspired by this gorgeous pot, with its curvy branch and bird. The style of the pot is obviously very vintage-y (not my style, usually), so I wondered if I could make it over with a cleaner, more stylized feel. It took an inordinate amount of time to choose my stamps here, but I love the effect!

Inks: Archival Fern, Memento Luxe rich cocoa

The branch stamp is an old Hero Arts wood-mounted stamp, the bird came from PTI's Love Birds, and the sentiment from PTI's Birds of a Feather. I cut the stamped panel tall and thin like the vase and added an asymmetrical mat to give space for the half pearls, which complete the visual triangle of brown...which was necessary when my bird took up so much less space than the bird on the vase. It can't be the focal point because it's so small, so I arranged it so it's looking at the sentiment, making that the focal point. Adding the two pearls moves the eye around much more than just two spots of brown did.

Such fun inspiration at the Inspiration always! I hope you'll give it a go. There's quite a huge diversity on the ceramics board, and there are even some pots by an artist who hired me to babysit her child when I was a teen. As soon as I saw them, I thought, "Hey, I know that artist!" Too cool!

Hope, peace, joy, and love,

Supplies listed above in text and captions

Friday, December 16, 2016

Birthday Bling

What a week! I went to a Christmas party with my Bible study class, had to cancel our Stephen Ministry party because of "a light dusting of snow" that became five beautiful inches, and threw an open house for people to come laugh at Treezilla. The open house required some pretty massive cleaning on my part, but the house looks amazing now, and all my shopping and wrapping and shipping are finished.

All that's left is to finish addressing and sending Christmas cards.


On the Christmas card son was watching me work on them this morning, and he noticed that I was sending both store-bought and hand-made cards. "Why not do all of one or the other?" he asked. "Well, I don't make enough to send to everyone on the list, so I fill in with store-bought," I replied.

"If I were you, I'd just do store-bought. It'd be easier. I mean, how do you decide who gets which?"

He has a point. It feels like Christmas cards are the most complicated of holiday projects; I end up sending about 120-130 each year. That's a lot of Madonna and Child stamps.

We've also received WAY fewer cards this year...a trend that has been going on for a while now. That makes me sad.

Whatever. I like making Christmas cards too much to quit anytime soon, and what's the point of making them if you don't send them?

I knew you'd understand.

Today's card isn't a Christmas card; it's birthday...with bling.

Papertrey's Beautiful Blooms II has this stylized flower with a large center that is great for the Mega Mixed Messages set. I fussy cut the flower and put it up on dimensionals after stamping the leaves.

Sadly, the design looked so...boring.

Bling to the rescue.

The asymmetry is very deliberate and adds interest to the design. And sparkle. Love the sparkle.

Once again, and I cannot emphasize this enough, bling.

Bling, bling, blingity, bling, bling.

That is all.

So, please share how many Christmas cards you send, if you send them at all. Also, do you automate the process and send printed photo cards?

Hope, peace, joy, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Beautiful Blooms II, Mega Mixed Messages
ink: can't remember exactly, but probably Archival tiger lily, Hero Arts green hills and cup o' joe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, dimensionals, Cutter-Bee scissors

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Lime Birthday

As soon as I saw this pin, I knew there was a card to be made.

I opted for a brighter color scheme and butterflies rather than leaves, but the source of inspiration is very clear.

Such a fun card to make! More involved than I usually do, but still, it's got that fresh, clean feel that makes my CAS-lovin' heart happy.

Hope, peace, joy, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Birthday Basics, Tim Holtz polka dot background; Simon Says Stamp Envelope Sentiments, Papertrey Beautiful Butterflies
ink: Hero Arts lime and intense black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: baker's twine, craft foam, Martha Stewart butterfly punches, rhinestones

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Angel Ball Recipe and the Story of a Paper Ornament

As requested, here's my angel ball recipe, including the little tips that make it particularly melt-in-your-mouth.

Angel Balls

1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 lb. (two sticks) butter, softened but not melted
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract (be generous)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. pecans, chopped fine in a blender
1 boatload of powdered sugar

I use an electric hand mixer to blend the butter and sugar well. Add flour, vanilla, salt, and pecans and mix well. Roll dough into small balls and place on air-bake cookie sheets (prevents burning), and bake 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. While cooking, prepare a rimmed cookie sheet with cooling racks over it and get your sifter ready. (you could use a fine mesh colander).

Immediately remove cookies from baking sheet and put them on the cooling racks. Sprinkle GENEROUSLY with powdered sugar. When cool, move cooling racks off rimmed baking sheet. Before transferring cookies to a storage container, dip them in the remaining powdered sugar in the rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle more powdered sugar over the cookies every chance you get. The dough is not sweet...the cookies get all their sweetness from the powdered sugar.

Store in airtight container. Cookies are very delicate. Also, don't inhale when you take a bite, or you'll choke on powdered sugar.

And now for the ornament. 

Our Stephen Ministry group handed out our annual "Blue Christmas" ornaments. Many churches honor those who are not jolly during the holidays, either because they are grieving, have lost jobs, are burdened by stress or caregiving or illness. Here's this year's ornament and the presentation that was read at each of our church's three services.

The verse on the back of the ornament is 2 Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"

Here's the speech:

Did you know that in Scandinavia, holly is called Christ thorn? In fact, many Christians believe that the prickly leaves of holly represent the crown of thorns Jesus wore at his crucifixion, and the red berries symbolize the drops of blood shed from those thorns. We deck our halls with boughs of holly for a jolly Christmas to celebrate Christ’s birth. What an appropriate reminder that we owe our hope, peace, joy, and love to a Savior who gave His very life for us.  
For the past four years during Advent, Stephen Ministers have given away ornaments as a reminder that Christmas isn’t holly jolly for everyone, and that’s why this year’s ornaments have holly on them. For some, this holiday season is a time of worry or frustration, or a painful reminder of the loss of a loved one, a job, a marriage, health, independence, or even faith.

If you know someone who is grieving or in crisis this Christmas, we encourage you to reach out to them, listen to them, and encourage them. You might also tell them about Stephen Ministry and how a Stephen Minister can meet with them once a week to listen to and encourage them for as long as they need.  Ask their permission to give their name and telephone number to a Stephen Leader, and pass it along to Pastor Amy, Zandra Woody, or Susan Raihala.

God’s amazing grace is sufficient for each one of us, and His power is made perfect in our weakness. When someone is feeling weak and hurting, that’s just when Christians are called to step in and be agents of God’s amazing grace. God can work through each of us to heal the hurting, and Stephen Ministers are especially well equipped through training, through faith, and through love of Christ to serve those who are suffering.

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful Christmas present to connect someone who is hurting with Christ’s saving grace? Perhaps that person is you. Stephen Ministers are here to help.

Stephen Ministers will be standing at each exit after service to give one ornament to each family. If you would like an extra ornament to give to a hurting friend or family member, just ask.

We wish you a very Holly Christmas!

For those of you out there who are Stephen Ministers or Leaders, feel free to use our idea as you see fit. We love handing these out each year and almost always get several new care receivers as a result. 

To each one of you reading this, if you are hurting this Christmas, know that there are people of faith ready to help you. Reach out. Talk to a pastor. Talk to a friend. If you don't know of a Stephen Ministry group in your area and might be interested, email me and I will try to find one for you. 

If you know someone who's hurting this Christmas, reach out to them. Listen. Don't try to fix their problems or tell them what to do. Cry with them, listen, be there. 

I'll get off my soapbox now and wish you all hope, peace, comfort, and love this season and always.

stamps: Papertrey 
ink: Archival leaf, red geranium
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: corner rounder, red 1/8" satin ribbon, circle punch, Avery label sticker (for verse on back)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Soap Inspired IC575

Another IC card inspired by a photo on Anthropologie...this time soap packaging.

As you can see, it's a pretty literal interpretation that keeps the general shapes and colors or a portion of the soap package design. Very abstract, but I love the navy and gold! The images are from Altenew's Simple Flowers and the sentiment from Hero Arts' You Are My Happy. I tried to keep the font of the sentiment similar to the inspiration piece, but I wish it were a little heavier for balance. Still, not bad.

I hope you're playing along with this week's inspiration challenge at Splitcoast. Anthropologie has some amazing stuff to inspire paper crafters, and I'm so grateful to Audrie for sharing it with us!

And now for a couple of pictures that made me smile today. First, my son Jack plays trumpet in the 8th grade band, and their holiday concert was tonight. Jack, who has sensory issues that make him extremely hostile toward collared shirts, dress pants, and dress shoes, loves playing trumpet but hates dressing for concerts with a hot hate. He cleans up cute, though!

And yes, he's wearing a Loony Toons Christmas tie, but he liked it because it's mostly blue.

I rarely like pictures of myself and even more rarely like a selfie, but today I wore this extremely fun apron while baking a double batch of my famous angel balls (my family's name for Mexican wedding cookies...yes, go ahead and husband he's stuffing them in his mouth because they are divine.). The apron was a gift from a dear friend who lives in Idaho and protected my purple sweater from flying powdered sugar.

Everyone needs a polka-dot apron. Even people who only bake once a year. Like me.

Hope, peace, joy, and love,

stamps: Altenew Simple Flowers, Hero Arts You Are My Happy
ink: Versamagic night sky, Delicata golden glitz
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: gold metallic marker, metal ruler

Sunday, December 11, 2016

IC575 Again

I made a dreamy card inspired by this packaging from Anthropologie for this week's Inspiration Challenge at Splitcoast Stampers. Audrie continues week in, week out to find amazing inspiration all over the place!

The dreamy background is Tim Holtz Distress ink in salty ocean and chipped sapphire, applied with the Tim Holtz mini inking tool, which is pretty wonderful to work with. The sentiment and stars were clear embossed before inking, and the edge features gold metallic marker because the inspiration photo has a gold necklace on it.

The stamp set is a new one from Hero Arts called Dreams Are Made. It came with my first order from my birthday money. Here's the rest of my loot:

So much goodness!

Anywho, I encourage you to check out the IC575 and play along this week. I continue to find inspiration from the yummy pictures on Anthropologie...but I would never pay $625 for a beanie, no matter that it's got crystals sewn into it. I'll stick with looking, thank you very much.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Dreams Are Made
ink: Tim Holtz distress salty ocean and chipped sapphire; VersaMark
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Tim Holtz mini inking tool, clear embossing powder, heat gun, craft foam, glue, gold metallic marker, metal ruler

Saturday, December 10, 2016

IC575 Anthropologie...Oh, My!!!

This week's Inspiration Challenge blew my little creative mind. Four cards in a few hours, and two of them have *GASP* colored card bases. The Anthropologie website has an abundance of inspiration, and I'll be going back for more.

*happy sigh*

First up, the only Christmas card I made for the IC575. It was inspired by this product label.

This strip looked silly on a white card base...just too much white white space and visually boring. (Remember "white" space can be any's just empty space.) The celery base unifies the two borders and helps the sentiment stand out as the focal point.

I masked the central area of the panel, leaving half-inch borders. After sponging with Distress Ink (old paper), I stamped images from WPlus9's Silver Bells in Hero lime green and Archival leaf green. The berries are Archival red geranium, as is the sentiment.

More from the IC575 in the coming days. Thanks to Audrie for yet another amazing challenge. Why don't y'all play along!

stamps: Hero Arts Christmas Messages, Wplus9 Silver Bells
ink: Distress old paper, Hero Arts lime, Archival leaf and red geranium
paper; StampinUp celery, Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue, gold metallic pen

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Botanical Birthday

Thank you to all who commented on Treezilla. It's truly magnificent, and we are enjoying it enormously!

I am on a birthday-card binge, making them for my use, for my sister's use, and for Karen's Card Shop at church. Today's card is a spring delight for a relative whose birthday is in March. This relative is working on her masters to teach high-school English, so I combined Hero Arts' Shakespearean Poetry with Papertrey's Botanical Silhouettes.

I inked the blossoms with Memento rose bud and pounced some lilac posies on with a marker, spritzed with water, and stamped. The bright pops of color are so pretty!

This quotation is from A Midsummer Night's Dream, my favorite Shakespearean play and the whole reason I bought this set. I added some blossoms to the raised panel to unify the card, but the panel needed a little border, so a silver marker served nicely.

The matching envelope completes the ensemble.

I found the process of making a spring card at the beginnings of winter in Ohio to be delightfully out-of-sync. It pays to work out of season on occasion.

Hope, peace, joy, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Shakespearean Poetry, Papertrey Botanical Silhouettes, Simon Says Stamp Envelope Sentiments
ink: Memento rose bud, lilac posies; Hero Arts green hills; Memento Luxe black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue, silver metallic marker, water spritzer 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Curves and Angles and Treezilla

Let's start with the cards so those of you who have no interest in my babbling, bumbling life will get what you came for and not feel like I've done an ol' bait and switch.

I need a bunch of birthday cards, and out came Ombre Builders to give me two pretty, pink for a girl with a curvy personality and one for a girl who's square.

I like how this raised panel looks a bit
like a whimsically decorated cake layer.

These types of cards, with lots of white, splashes of happy color, and graphic style, make me bounce in my chair and clap my hands like a kid getting ice cream with sprinkles on top.

It's too cold in Ohio for ice cream right now.

Note that the curvy card gets a curvy sentiment, and the square card gets a square, sans serif sentiment. That's key. Also note that, on the second card, the word Birthday is on a line with the next-to-bottom square. That subtle alignment unifies the card subtly.

But there's nothing subtle about the hot pink and bright green. Reminds me of a wrap-around skirt my mom made me around 1978-79. Pink and green print with frogs on it. So very preppy. Yes, I wore the skirt with a white Izod shirt and carried a Bermuda bag with matching cover.

Ah, to be young and stylish!

Anyway, let's get to Treezilla before I go winging off to Never-Never Land. If you read my latest post on the other blog, you'll know I'm in a verrrry weird mood this Advent season.

We have a tradition of going to Big Tree Plantation to cut our own Christmas trees. We didn't go last year because we spent Christmas in Omaha with hubby's family. Clearly, missing a year has turned us into idiots because we saw this tree (pictured with my cute and cold 14-year-old) and thought it would fit in our living room.

Seriously, it looked large but not ridiculously so.

Here's a gratuitous picture of my 17-year-old hipster son and six-year-old furry golden sunshine.

Aren't all three just the cutest?

Anyway, we cut down the tree (and by we I mean my husband and elder son), and the nice folks at Big Tree shook out the old needles, trimmed the bottom branches, wrapped the tree in twine for easier handling, and tied it to the roof of our car. It was a lovely experience, full of festive laughter and joy.

Then, we got home.

"Man, the tree is really heavy," said my husband.

"Really, it's way heavier than I remember previous trees. I'm not kidding," he insisted.

"It's giving me a hernia!" he continued.

"It's too heavy for the tree stand. It'll tip for sure," he worried.

"Let me go buy a bigger stand before we take it inside," I replied.

"Okay, that's a good idea," he agreed.

Forty minutes later, the two big guys carried the tree inside, we got it in the stand, cut the twine off, and out springs...


Y'all, I laughed hysterically for about ten minutes. Hubs thought I'd never stop. This thing is ridiculously rotund. No wonder it was so heavy. We did have to trim the top a bit to fit our nine-foot ceiling, and the trunk is a bit crooked. But dang. Our furniture is all out of whack, and we'll need to take it out of the house in pieces, but what an awesomely great--and stupid--thing we did.

Here's the tree in its decorated glory.

Decorating this behemoth was intimidating, prickly...and exhausting, which is why I didn't post anything last night.

We will NEVER forget this tree. It's epic.

I love Christmas.

stamps: Papertrey Ombre Builders, Birthday Basics (second card sentiment), Gina K (first card sentiment)
ink: I can't remember
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue

Monday, December 5, 2016

Glitter Is Good

The motto of Faber College in the movie Animal House: Knowledge Is Good.

The motto of today's card: Glitter Is Good.

I could jibber-jabber about it, but pictures make the point better.

Before glitter:

After glitter:

The sparkle and shine add distinction to the brown dragonflies, which before blended into the vivid background even though I used Memento Luxe pigment ink, which is pretty opaque. I applied Stickles and spread it around with a damp paint brush for more of a distressed effect.

And yes, the background was made with Distress inks applied with a stipple brush. I dropped water onto it with a brush to apply the splotches for a dreamy effect.

A great card to give to a guy, even with the glitter, don't you think?

stamps: Papertrey Masculine Motifs, Side-by-Side Sentiments
ink: Distress wild honey, aged mahogany; Memento Luxe rich cocoa
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: post-it notes for masks, stipple brush, paint brush, Stickles