Skip to content

Runs with SIMPLE Scissors

December 12, 2015


Hello, dear Penny Black friends. I am happy to be spending time with you again on the Penny Black blog. Right now I am pondering Robert Frost’s poem about fog that “comes on little cat feet”. I believe December has done the same … just quietly crept in and established itself. December brings so many obligations, unlike April with just the 15th being of consequence or August with its final days of lazy summer. We turn the calendar page to December and realize daily life has just been turned up a notch or two.

Christmas is drawing closer and closer and at this point, the only way I will finish up my Christmas card making project is to keep things simple. Fortunately, Penny Black has images and dies suitable for complex as well as clean and simple designs.


One way to keep card making simple is to focus on the sentiment. This large die, A Very Merry, and a few layers of card stock work together to make a classic card. A snowflake from the Snowtime die set adds some depth and texture. This is a card that easily adapts to an assembly line technique.


I’ve used a panel of textured white cardstock as the base for this card. That’s a mix of red and green Distress Inks for a small background. I stamped and embossed the sentiment from the Season’s Gifts transparent set. That set has ten beautiful and meaningful sentiments with a few small snowflake stamps added.   Adding an embellishment will take a tiny moment longer, but adds to the charm of your hand made card.


This card uses a strong color combination to make the snowflakes from the Snowtime die set and the sentiment from Joyous Wishes pop. A little time at your die cutting machine cranking out snowflakes and sentiments along with some time assembling the parts equals beautiful last minute cards.

Before I pledged to keep our holiday preparations simple, I spent many a frantic December as a Mom in charge of creating some Christmas magic for the family. Some years there was a lot more frantic than magic which affected everyone’s holiday. Besides being a working Mom I was determined to maintain the traditions from my childhood and establish new ones for our family.

There were at least five different kinds of cookies to bake (each child had their favorite), the shopping for and wrapping of gifts, special meals to make and as the kids grew older and left home for school or careers, schedules to coordinate. One year I realized I was hosting five different “Christmases” in order to have a holiday with each of the adult children.

The year of the five Christmases, I realized the madness had to stop! It was time to keep things simple. From then on, the date to celebrate Christmas was chosen to accommodate the most family members in addition to the youngest, still at home kids. We would have one family gathering and one large festive meal.

I don’t enjoy baking and doing it in the evenings after working all day seemed more like punishment than fun. After some research I confirmed that nowhere in the Christmas story are cookies mentioned; frankincense and myrrh, yes; cookies, no. One by one, I deleted baking the various cookies. I eliminated the fussier ones first and finally put away the large collection of cookie cutters that we had used over the years as the children “helped” with the cutting and frosting.

At one point, we had adult kids in the working world, a son in the Navy, a couple in college and even one in high school still at home (If I count correctly, Mr. RWS and I have seven children between us). Obviously, buying gifts for each other was complicated. There was a wide range of ability to budget for gifts and logistical challenges in making sure they arrived in the right place at the right time. So we stopped exchanging gifts with each other or even drawing names. Instead we created a game with prizes which were originally provided by Mr. RWS and I, but as the game became a tradition, everyone brought gifts for the gift pile. We included some gag gifts, and some gifts more coveted than others which often exchanged hands several times before the game was over. For my very competitive family, this was more fun than swapping gift cards.

Instead of baking cookies, I make our meat-stuffed rolls and most years make the traditional Polish deep fried chrusiki.

I discovered I enjoyed the holiday more when it resembled Thanksgiving, a time to gather the family and share a great meal and make memories of time spent together.

Our Christmases now are rarely spent with everyone together. Mr. RWS and I have to be satisfied with the great memories of the times there were more than twenty of us gathered in our home for the holiday. We were blessed with many years of all the children coming home for Christmas along with their spouses or sweethearts.

As a philosopher named Heraclites wisely said back in the fourth century, “There is nothing permanent except change”. Indeed, our Christmases have changed. Some years we fly north; one year we had plans to travel to Atlanta but got snowed in and couldn’t make it; some years the Minneapolis daughter flies in. Our first lonesome Christmas occurred the first year we were full time RV’ers, far away from home in Yuma, Arizona. This year, once again, we will be just the two of us. I have boxes and totes full of Christmas photos from over the years and I think this Christmas will be a good time to go through the boxes together and share laughter and tears over the memories.  Well, for at least as long as I can stand it.   I saw a “billboard” on Facebook recently posted by “Trulife” that stated, “Sometimes memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.” I predict there will be memories rolling down my cheeks on Christmas.


Designer paper from Penny Black’s paper pad Holiday Trimmings provides a quick, but very appropriate background for Ms. Twinkle. Coloring the sweet images in the Twinkle and Wish transparent set is very relaxing for me and when I am finished coloring several images, I assemble the card, always taking advantage of the fact that Christmas is a great time to pull out the glitter and sparkle.


This cutie is also from the Twinkle and Wish transparent set, all dressed up and on her way to deliver a Christmas package. I’m sure the recommended method of designing a card is to select your designer paper or background first, then coloring the focal image. Because I run with scissors, I always color my image first, using the colors that inspire me as I go along. Sometimes that method works very well; sometimes I spend a lot of time searching for the right designer paper. Fortunately, the Penny Black designer paper pads have a huge selection of colors and patterns and I always find what I need.


If your hectic schedule of planning and creating the holiday has left you frazzled and frantic, enjoy this little guy’s advice – he’s hanging on tight! I love Penny Black’s krafty kats and was delighted to add this frazzled feline from the Hang on Tight slapstick set to my cards for today. I think we all can relate.

We visited the Atlanta family over Thanksgiving, enjoying the sunny 70 degree day as well as family; especially the teen grandchildren.


Honestly, I look at this photo of our Atlanta grandchildren, Lauren and Andrew, and realize how quickly the years have flown by. I am used to bending down a bit to hug these two but when we visited them over Thanksgiving, I realized they are as tall as I am and there is no bending down needed!


Yes, we are keeping it simple this Christmas, but family haircuts are a must. This is Cooper getting the finishing touches to his grooming session. We have followed his groomer to her new place of employment, even though it involves driving over the mountain, sometimes in rush hour traffic. Cooper is used to her and we are always happy with his haircuts.

With less than two weeks until Christmas Eve, I’m not sure any of my recommendations for keeping it simple are possible at this point, even for me. I have done what I could, even shortening the Christmas card list to include only those far away, those who have occupied a special place in our lives this past year and those who always include a letter or note within their card to us. I long ago left off the list those folks who only signed their name, or worse yet, had their names commercially printed on their cards.

Mr. RWS and I will no doubt miss the family but will take satisfaction and comfort in knowing they are creating Christmas traditions with their own families and are in the midst of their own struggles to figure out how to keep their Christmases simpler. I remind myself often that our job as parents is to give our children “roots and wings”. Oh, how I enjoyed the roots part; it’s the wings part that isn’t easy.

Speaking of wings, time to pack up and lock up for today. The studio is in pretty good shape considering all the work that has been going on here these past weeks. Santa will be very impressed with the neat and tidy artists who work here. I am hoping he is tending toward leniency for those of us who run with our scissors. We mean well! And just like Santa checks his list twice, I will be checking out the beautiful art in the Penny Circle Flickr Gallery.

Shop for today’s featured Penny Black supplies:

22 Comments leave one →
  1. mjmarmo permalink
    December 12, 2015 4:04 am

    I love reading this! We have two adult married children and I am missing the days of our being together and carrying on all the traditions we started. My mantra is that there will have to be new traditions for both them and us. I rarely bake cookies since it is just us. Maybe I will will up a batch of sugar cookies to be frosted when both are home for 4 days after Christmas. Cooper looks quite handsome.

  2. December 12, 2015 4:08 am

    Merry Christmas, Judy! As always, the cards are wonderful. I love the die cut words. They make easy and beautiful cards. And the silly cat makes me giggle. It looks like Cooper is definitely behaving for his groomer. He knows that Santa may have something special for him in his red sack. Like you, it will be a small Christmas for me. Just me, my son and my 99 year young mom but a small, quiet Christmas is good, too. Wishing you and Mr. RWS and Cooper a blessed Christmas.

  3. Nan permalink
    December 12, 2015 4:53 am

    Enjoyed reading your post today. Found it inspirational & calming. We have a combined family of 5 children, many grands & great grands so never are we all together in the same home but feel together in our hearts!

  4. Sue CD permalink
    December 12, 2015 6:39 am

    Thank you Judy for a year of wonderful cards and stories that made me smile. Wishing you and your family (and Cooper, of course) happy holidays.

  5. Carol Jones permalink
    December 12, 2015 6:42 am

    Wasn’t it Carl Sandburg who wrote about fog on little cat feet? I love your cards and also your family stories — I’m at the reminiscing stage with Christmas too, and completely agree that it’s a relief not to have to do all that baking! Thanks for sharing with all of us, and have a beautiful Christmas. And love to Cooper.

    • judka permalink
      December 12, 2015 7:48 am

      You are absolutely right .. and I even googled it and then wrote down the wrong name anyway! No wonder I have to keep things simple … thank you for letting me know!!

  6. Bonnie Kasper permalink
    December 12, 2015 6:59 am

    Judy, I just love your newsy narratives and feel like we’re a part of your family. Your designs and artwork are inspiring and make me wish I had all of the Penny Black stamps. Thanks!

  7. KAT. MO permalink
    December 12, 2015 7:17 am

    I enjoy reading your weekly comments and beautiful cards. Traditions do change. This year we are doing Christmas with our kids, spouses, and grandchildren on New Year’s Day! Less hectic and the grandkids three and younger won’t be tired out from visiting all of the other grandparents and family. Looking forward to a nice day.

  8. December 12, 2015 7:23 am

    One of my favorite posts from you, Judy. Loved reading it! I always come to check out your beautiful cards but end up loving what you write even more. Hugs to you and Merry Christmas! ♥

  9. December 12, 2015 8:00 am

    Loved, loved, loved your post today. The simplicity of the last minute cards …..brilliant! How to make the Christmas season more simple….great idea…but xxxxing out the cookies? I like cookies!!!! Had to laugh at shortening the card list….if we do that, what are we going to do with all these beautiful Christmas cards we have been making since July?!? Many hugs my friend to you and Mr. RWS and a pat on the head for Cooper. I know a lot of work goes into these posts and we admirers LOVE it!

  10. donna mikasa permalink
    December 12, 2015 8:26 am

    You know I love all your cards, but the CAS ones are my fave! And a little Mimi always brightens my day. Showed my hubby the pic of Cooper being groomed. He must really love that groomer to stand so still for the finishing touches! And your grandkids are growing way too fast! Enjoy them now because they won’t be sitting still for long!

  11. December 12, 2015 8:34 am

    Enjoy your Christmas memories, and thank you for your post…no longer any guilt over keeping things simple after reading your post. I’ll just sit back and enjoy!!!
    Paper Hugs,

  12. Jan D., FL permalink
    December 12, 2015 9:22 am

    Wonderful cards, as usual. Your post about family traditions took me back to many fond memories. Seems our family and friends over the years have spread further and further apart. Hubby and I, for the most part, spend our Christmases alone now…happy and a bit sad at the same time.

    Have a Merry Christmas!!! Always look forward to your posts.

  13. DebbieP permalink
    December 12, 2015 9:30 am

    Your cards are really wonderful this week. Not to say they aren’t every other post. It’s because I just love Christmas. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

  14. December 12, 2015 10:24 am

    Thank you for this blog. I will experience, for the first time this Christmas, not having my whole family around. Son and daughter and families will be in Colorado and I will be in California with my husband and his kids. Change does happen and if we look at it positively (my kids are so happy in Colorado) it isn’t so bad. Also, social media and iphones make it possible to almost be pyhsically with everyone all of the time. Merry Christmas and thank you for all of your posts.

  15. Diane J permalink
    December 12, 2015 10:40 am

    I can’t wait for weekends and your posts. They make me chuckle! Your cards are glorious. Somehow I have not found the simple yet. Thank you for sharing each week as I’m sure it takes lots of your time to do this for all of us. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  16. Maria permalink
    December 12, 2015 2:26 pm

    Thank you Judy for sharing your life and cards with us. I love reading what’s happening for everyone around Christmas. We also having a small one on the 24th (the Swedish version 🙂
    just the 3 of us but then the 25th (the English version) we are invited to a family do, ages between 6 month and 96 years old and we are 16 people!. Think I prefer the quiet one…..
    Don’t do presents so no stamps or dies from my wishlist will be had so have to wait to sometime in the new year for some new things.Not easy to get hold of Penny Black.
    Your Cooper is a star and very handsome with a little trim. Wish you, Mr RVS and your family a wonderful Christmas and looking forward to your cards in the new year. No I have not forgotten Gorgeous Cooper, like to give him a huge cuddle and a Merry Christmas too

  17. December 12, 2015 6:07 pm

    Love every card, Judy! Thinking I need to get those sentiment dies! Oh wow–Mr. Cooper looks just darling! Fritz had his Christmas cut a couple weeks ago. Don’t you wish we could look cute as easily as they do?! Just the 2 of us here, but we’ll see hubby’s daughter the weekend after Christmas. Big hugs, Greta

  18. Sheri K permalink
    December 13, 2015 8:04 am

    Love your cards, I’d love to come work in that studio with you, however I usually leave it a mess! We are in the “celebrating a few times” mode, with our daughter here this weekend to celebrate Christmas. But one celebrates when one can and it’s going to be awesome to see her!

  19. December 13, 2015 9:30 am

    Well, one thing is for sure, you really know how to bring tears to one’s eyes. Our Christmas’ have been toned down quite a bit, too. We’ve pared it down to one big meal and a little visit with our offspring and theirs. Still make cookies, though, for the folks at my man’s workplace. Other than that, it’s usually pretty quiet and we, too, get to remember the frantic, fun and truly festive years. I, honestly, don’t miss it or the accompanying labor associated with it. Everyone celebrates in their own way…and we have memories to treasure. Speaking of treasures…you cards are lovely…simple but they say it all.
    Merry Christmas to you, Mr. RWS and the precious Cooper.

  20. December 13, 2015 9:54 pm

    Aww Judy, how I enjoy your posts! I love, love reading them, and your cards are lovely also! Merry Christmas to you, your husband and Cute Cooper!

  21. dawnnz permalink
    December 14, 2015 9:25 pm

    As usual Judy, a stunning post (even though I’m really late catching up on it) You are so insightful as well as so creative. I totally agree that we always seem to overthink and overdue Christmas and sometimes forget the best part – to enjoy our family time. I am having the family here – total of eight of us and I’m trying to keep it on the down low and just enjoy their company.

    Merry Christmas to you and Mr RWS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: