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Runs with Scissors… and persistence!

April 23, 2016


Here I am again, taking a break from running with my scissors to spend time on the Penny Black Blog. The studio is fresh and airy with the windows open and the April breezes blowing through. The azaleas and dogwoods are in full bloom where I live, thanks to the April showers.

And just in time for full blown spring, the Little Bit of Sunshine release is now available in the Penny Black Store.  As much as I love sneak peeks, they make it hard for me to wait for the new stamps and dies. But, as always, the Little Bit of Sunshine release was worth the wait.

My cards today are made with a mix of the So Special release and the Little Bit of Sunshine release. These releases play well with others!


If a stamping fairy godmother happened to land on my craft desk and offered me three crafty wishes, one of them would be to conquer the technique of water coloring. After several failed attempts at doing this Light Touch cling stamp justice, I switched to my Pigma markers and applied the color directly to the stamp, and then stamped onto the cardstock. I thought I would add a little Asian touch using part of a Geometric diecut.


The Bookmark die set comes with three smaller dies allowing you to decorate your bookmark in several themes. But for this bookmark I used the Folk Flower die from the new Little Bit of Sunshine release to decorate. What a gorgeous intricate die! I chose to use white cardstock with just a dusting of pink on the flowers, but you could use any number of colored papers to create your garden. Two of those Folk Flower diecuts would cover a card front and make a lovely textured background.


The Butterfly Dance cling stamp is a very large stamp that includes an incredible amount of detail. I prepared my white cardstock by blending Memento Luxe inks and drying with my heat gun. I stamped the Butterfly Dance image using VersaMark ink and heat embossing with white. I then cut the image to fit a standard card front. This stamp would be great to use for mixed media projects.  I stamped the sentiment onto vellum and added some dimensional butterflies. One can never have too many butterflies!

Chapter 3: Back to School, Eventually

(Chapter 1 HERE, link to: Chapter 2 HERE) link to:

During the weeks of winter break before the spring semester started, it became obvious to me that my giving up working and returning to school was creating stress on our newly formed family. Mr. RWS was seeing his savings disappear; the teen aged boys at home were having difficulty adjusting to another parent in the house; and I was feeling guilty for consuming family resources during such a time of transition for our family.

No one asked me to give up school. It was a realization I came to between semesters. It would take another two years of full time attendance to finish. Those two years were high school years for my teenagers at home which would include their band and sports events. The two little girls that became part of our family needed time and attention on the weekends they stayed with us. The dream was right, the timing was wrong.

When I announced I would not be returning for the next semester, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the men in my family.   I must have been very convincing when I told them this is what I really wanted because they declared we were going out to dinner to celebrate. I kept my sad feelings tucked away and consoled myself with knowing I was capable of doing college level work and if only things had worked out differently I could have been a college graduate.

And so the years went by. I went back to work, this time for the State of Wisconsin and began earning retirement benefits and a salary that became the golden handcuffs that made leaving for any other career a bad idea.

But the dream would not die. One day I was again sharing with a supervisor who had become a mentor, the sadness and disappointment I felt about not finishing school. I guess she had heard this tale of woe often enough that it caused her say to me, “Judy, you either have to go back to school and finish or stop talking about it.”

It was like a sharp blow. I had been talking about going back to school for so many years it had become a part of who I was. And the idea of not being able to do that anymore was too painful to contemplate.

I looked at our family situation and realized that the 7th and last child at home (both of Mr. RWS’ daughters eventually chose to come live with us) would be finishing high school in five years and then it would be her turn for college, not mine. If I didn’t go back before that happened, I would never go back. I signed up to purchase a U.S. Savings Bond each payday and began stacking them up.

After three years of saving I had enough set aside to enroll in Concordia University’s evening program for returning adults. No teenagers allowed! Classes were held on the nearby National Guard base to allow those members of the military to advance their careers by earning a college degree. We were all managers in our work life and were pursuing a degree in Business Management. It no longer made financial sense for me to change careers and become a teacher. This had become a purely personal goal.

Concordia University accepted all my credits and allowed me to earn thirty more by documenting life experiences equal to classes in their catalog (no small project).

I needed to take 15 three credit classes to graduate. Classes were held year around and it would take me almost two years to complete my studies. Best of all, because the classes were held at night I could continue working.

It had been more than ten years since I last dropped out of school and I was determined that this time nothing was going to stop me. Not even my breast cancer diagnosis and lumpectomy which took place on a Tuesday. I was back in class that Wednesday.

When I think back I don’t know how I managed to work full time and attend classes and do homework for the six weeks of radiation that followed my diagnosis. It had become do or die, now or never. I do remember being so exhausted that I was worried about being able to attend a son’s marriage. I skipped the rehearsal dinner in order to marshal enough energy to dance at his wedding.

Well, what cancer couldn’t stop, my class in Statistics almost did. With vivid memories of my difficulties with word problems in remedial elementary math, I began my Statistics class with great fear. Even Mr. Math Major husband was unable to penetrate the dense area of my brain where math ability was meant to reside. It took tutoring by my sister-in-law who somehow was able to explain things so that they seeped into my brain.

While my classes took place in a small classroom setting with about 25 classmates, graduation would be held at Concordia University of Wisconsin’s main campus in Mequon, near Milwaukee. It was my goal from day one to walk across that stage to accept my diploma with the hundreds of traditional students who would be graduating.

Eventually the day came to pick up my cap and gown which I arranged to do on my lunch break. I proudly hung that gown in the entry to my work space for all to see. I would have worn it for the entire week if I could.

Family and friends were in the audience when, finally, at the age of 57, mother of seven, cancer survivor, I walked across the stage and accepted my diploma.

It was finished. I had done it.


Look at the size of the amazing Floral Butterfly from the new A Little Bit of Sunshine release. I chose to use white cardstock for my butterfly, but imagine the possibilities if you created your own colored papers by blending inks. Pure white would be great for wedding or sympathy cards, too. I used the “amazing” die from the OMG die set, so this card will be used to recognize a friend’s recent completion of her graduate studies.


The retro telephones are from the Birthday Tweetings cling set. Here they convey congratulations and excitement for a job well done. I stamped the phones first on the white cardstock base with black ink and then heat embossed the images in white on black cardstock. I added some color to the set stamped on black with Copic markers, fussy cut them and popped them up with dimensionals.


Be still my heart! The Little Bit of Sunshine release includes seven mini sets of adorable children images. This stamp is called Big Shoes. I’ve colored her with Copics and did some masking to create the patch of color on the front of the card. When I thought I was finished the card seemed too monochromatic so I blended some Luxe green inks on cardstock and cut out two trees using the Trio of Trees die set. Now this little sweetie can head to the shade and take those shoes off for a bit. These images are perfect for coloring in any medium.


Cooper is going to have a sleepover with his friend Deuce this weekend so Mr. RWS and I can join friends for a day trip to visit Helen Keller’s home and a Frank Lloyd Wright house near Florence, Alabama. He stays in a lovely home, complete with a dog park and a gorgeous lake view. We are so thankful for the couple who treat him like family when we are gone.

Before I go I will share with you my remaining two crafty wishes. After conquering water coloring, I would ask for a sense of color to rival that of Jill Foster’s. And I would tell that fairy godmother there is no need for a third crafty wish. Running with Scissors on the Penny Black Blog is a wish already granted. What about you? What would your number one wish be if the fairy godmother stopped by your craft desk?

It’s time to put away the scissors and say good-bye until next time. Now that I’ve shared the tale of being a late blooming college student, I may have to depend on life itself to provide the next story. I appreciate (am addicted to) your comments and enjoy seeing your work in the Penny Black Circle Flickr Gallery.

Shop for today’s featured Penny Black supplies:


45 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2016 3:57 am

    Thank you Judy. I look forward to you sharing your stories as much as seeing your creations. Fabulous cards by the way 🙂

  2. April 23, 2016 4:11 am

    Well done all around Judy! My favorites are your asian-inspired and dreams taking flight cards this week. Enjoyed reading the triumphant conclusion of your college story–you’ve become part of my Sat. morning routine now:)

    As for the crafting fairy…I think I would like to be on a design team someday. Be well friend, and I’ll see you in the gallery.

  3. Sandy permalink
    April 23, 2016 5:05 am

    Thank you for sharing your personal story! What an amazing, dedicated hard working woman you are!!! Congratulations on all your accomplishments!
    I love your art work & look forward to your weekly creations!

  4. Gail permalink
    April 23, 2016 5:12 am

    i so enjoy your writing and you make me smile just reading about your world…hugs

  5. Nan permalink
    April 23, 2016 5:20 am

    You had me in tears this morning. You had a dream & made it happen. It doesn’t matter how long it took. You did it! This am we are celebrating the birth of my husbands great grandson. A healthy 9# 4 oz bundle of joy! They live far from us so we won’t see him in person for some time. But through the magic of IPhones, we had a picture within minutes. Life is good!

    • judka permalink
      April 23, 2016 5:49 pm

      Congratulations!! Technology enables us to “visit” via Facetime with the littlest grandkids. Yes, life is good!

  6. canadiancaroline permalink
    April 23, 2016 5:50 am

    HI Judy,
    I have loved your return-to-college stories. I went back to graduate school with a six-month-old. Some days, literally. I would wheel him in his stroller through the stacks in the library and he attended some seminars and behaved very well, not stealing any glory from the lecturer.
    After pregnancy #2 occurred (despite all efforts to the contrary) I too decided I couldn’t continue. However, I have three beautiful, well-adjusted, six-foot sons instead of another diploma.
    I have also loved your description of your time in Wisconsin. We lived in Milwaukee for 10 years, and your mention of suburbs and such tugs at my heart-strings.
    Looking forward to next week’s stories (BTW, you could have done a literature degree! You area wonderful writer).
    Caroline in Canada

    • judka permalink
      April 23, 2016 5:47 pm

      Caroline, I could NOT have majored in literature! When my kids went off to college I gave them very strong messages about being sure to finish college with a marketable skill! No liberal arts degrees! I think that was a reflection on my own experience, and I might reconsider now.

  7. April 23, 2016 6:15 am

    Don’t ask me to choose a favorite card because I would be hard pressed to do so. They are all beautiful. I love your color combos. When I was around 10, we lived about two blocks away from Helen Keller’ s home. The neighbourhood kids and I used to play all around the Keller house. This was back in the 1950’s and it wasn’t a big tourist attraction then. Also, I was recently in Eufaula, AL for the tour of the huge mansions. That was wonderful. If you haven’t been to Eufaula, you should add it to your To Do list. Hug to Cooper.

    • judka permalink
      April 23, 2016 5:45 pm

      Linda, we just got back from our trip to Helen Keller’s home. It was well worth the trip. And I think we need to head to Eufala soon!

  8. Deanna Morgan permalink
    April 23, 2016 6:17 am

    Judy, I have to agree with Caroline in Canada! You are a WONDERFUL writer! You remind me Erma Bombeck, whose humorous tales of life made many of my days brighter. I look forward to your next “episode” of life. AND I love that little girl in heals card.

  9. creatingincolors permalink
    April 23, 2016 6:24 am

    You are truly amazing. I admire all you have accomplished. And your cards are so beautiful.

  10. Nancy Yoder permalink
    April 23, 2016 6:33 am

    Bam! You did it…and what an artistic ending…the electric blue paper with the stunning ultra white butterfly conclusion! Your writing and artistic ability go so well together! Amazing! Keep it going girl!

  11. April 23, 2016 6:49 am

    I enjoy your lovely cards and your personal story!

  12. mjmarmo permalink
    April 23, 2016 6:51 am

    Congratulations!! Quite an accomplishment! Having gone through breast cancer twice, I can relate to those feelings! I was only working at the time, not going to school as well. You have incredible strength and courage!! Love your writing!

    • judka permalink
      April 23, 2016 5:43 pm

      “mj”, we are a sisterhood!! And there are too many of us. So glad you are doing well; I can’t imaging doing that experience twice!! Congratulations!!

  13. Di F permalink
    April 23, 2016 7:01 am

    Love your stories, cards and my favourite, pics of Cooper. If I were to ask the Craft Fairy at this moment it would be to have focus. After moving 5 times in the past 2 years (includes moving internationally) I am finding it difficult to get back into crafting. My go-to blog is always the PB one and I look for your column. You are inspiring !

    • judka permalink
      April 23, 2016 5:42 pm

      Di, my best advice is just do it … some weeks I procrastinate something fierce because I am not focused or inspired enough to write anything. But I have learned the best way to deal with that is just sit down at my desk and start writing … or start crafting .. getting started is sometimes the hardest part, but just get started and let it happen. Find the joy ….

  14. Jane permalink
    April 23, 2016 7:04 am

    Well done! Education is one of life’s greatest gifts. Your story of determination is inspiring. And what an example you set for your friends and family and those of us who love your writing. Congratulations on a most meaningful degree.

  15. cmt permalink
    April 23, 2016 7:04 am

    I have so much admiration for all you’re accomplished in your life. What strength and courage. Any one of those things you list would have been a challenge to me, let alone all of them. And, you make beautiful cards, to boot. Really love that first one. Wishing I could make cards as good as yours. Wishing I had the courage to create more.

    • judka permalink
      April 23, 2016 5:39 pm

      Oh, please, please, please just do it!! Do not wish to be anyone else but you .. and your art is beautiful because it is your art!! I think I need to post some of my first cards .. it will all come in time…. just sit at your work space and don’t stress about how it is “supposed” to look. Whatever you do will be beautiful! Find joy ……

  16. April 23, 2016 7:51 am

    I laughed & cried reading your post as I have my coffee while the rest of the family is still in bed. Ah yes–statistics almost kept me from graduating, too! Beautiful cards, my friend–the first one & the butterfly stand out to me! Love seeing Cooper & how I wish we were close enough for Fritz to stay there! Not sure we’ll ever board him for more than 1 night again, so we’re back to separate visits to far away family. Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

  17. Cathy P in AZ permalink
    April 23, 2016 7:54 am

    Judy – you are, in a word, AMAZING! I love your stories and crafty creations and I look forward to running alongside you with scissors every weekend! As for my wish for the fairy craft mother – I would ask that my craft room be perfectly organized.

  18. Cheryl Robertson permalink
    April 23, 2016 8:19 am

    Judy, wonderful post as always. If I had a wish, it would be to have half the talent you have. When I go to my craft area and try to make a card, it never turns out right. I’m really discouraged right now. But I’ll keep trying – not ready to give up yet!

    • judka permalink
      April 23, 2016 5:36 pm

      Cheryl, I hope you see my reply …. Sometimes I feel the same way when I see someone else’s work .. I don’t get inspired, I get overwhelmed. And then a good friend will remind me that we all have different styles and my work is not going to look like someone else’s work. Believe me, if you make enough cards you will get better each time. It’s ok to copy any of my work if that’s what you need to do to keep on creating. Perhaps one day I will post a photo of some of my earliest cards (15 years ago!). I still find it hard to believe anyone likes the cards I make … so perhaps you are being too hard on yourself. Never give up!! Find the joy …..

  19. Judy permalink
    April 23, 2016 8:34 am

    Congratulations on getting your degree! You certainly EARNED it! LOVE all your cards! With Penny Black you can’t go wrong. I, too, am dabbling in water coloring, but in my case, I emboss with fine detail gold and then color in the images. Not brave enough to color the stamp and spray water on it before stamping. May have to try it someday. Keep the stories coming. They brighten my Saturdays.

  20. April 23, 2016 9:08 am

    Congrats on earning your degree! I am so thankful that I got my degree and have enjoyed 37 years in my career–with some time taken off to raise my family. I understand your water coloring wish–as with anything, you just have to do it and go for it and not worry about it! I have recently gotten 1 wish fulfilled–I’m a design team member for Pazzles. I love having a “crafty job” in addition to my professional one. I wish my crafty godmother would also grant me a clean and organized craft room and perhaps another DT or “tester” for a wonderful stamp company like PB.

  21. Marty R permalink
    April 23, 2016 9:16 am

    What an amazing story! It brought tears of joy and pride to my eyes. Such an accomplishment. I did grad school while working on my twenties without kids. I can’t imagine studying with kids. On top of that, I love your cards.

  22. April 23, 2016 9:19 am

    What a remarkable and strong woman you are. You should have an “S” on your chest for Strength, Survivor, Student, Success, SuperMom. I’m so in awe of your path through life. A pat on the back seems so insignificant.
    These cards you made are terrific. Penny Black’s releases just get better and better and you, clearly, know what to do with them. If I had a crafty wish it would be for some imagination in this dull, structured, slightly OCD mind of mine.

  23. April 23, 2016 9:45 am

    Well JUDY…I think you have enough CONGRATULATIONS to be drunk by now – LOL! BUT, I want to add my Congrats too and just hope you don’t have too great a hangover tomorrow! You are a Pied Piper AND you also run with scissors…we love your every post!
    My crafting wish is to relax more and enjoy the process. Thanks JUDY for sharing your artistry – both in words as well as Penny Black art!
    Paper Hugs,

  24. barbara lassiter permalink
    April 23, 2016 9:48 am

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. It is so inspiring and proves that dreams can come true if we don’t give up, no matter the obstacles that might be in the way. Congratulations for all you accomplished! To create the way you and the other members of the Penny Black design team create, would be my crafty wish! 🙂

  25. Debra permalink
    April 23, 2016 10:15 am

    You re amazing Judy, not only did you beat cancer but did it while raising a family, going to school, and working at a fulltime job. Doing only one of thise things is amazing in itself, but you did all 4 at once! Incredible!
    As for my crafting fairy wish, I would love to be on a design team one day. I am a single parent and work full time and there just isn’t enough time in the day at the moment. I’d also like to be able to match design papers at the blink of an eye!

  26. susannev2014 permalink
    April 23, 2016 10:18 am

    Dear Judy, I finally have to let you know how much I enjoy reading your stories! You are such a good writer (and card maker)! I don’t have a college degree either and always think I am too old to start now but your story proves otherwise! I am so glad you realized your dream!
    My crafty wish is to be on one Design Team and maybe have more time to create…

  27. DebbieP permalink
    April 23, 2016 10:23 am

    Wow Ms. Judy! You sure had to work long and hard to get that degree. I’m so happy for you. I know I could not have done it. As always, I find so much inspiration in your stories and your cards. Your cards are always beautiful and make me want to get busy in my craft room. However, the fairy craftmother has not blessed me with vision/imagination to make use of all the goodies I have stashed. I think I would take more than 3 wishes….

  28. April 23, 2016 11:52 am

    Wow! I really admire you.

  29. Harriet permalink
    April 23, 2016 3:21 pm

    Congratulations on achieving a life long dream—college graduation. My daughter is in the middle of your experience and doing good. I’d ask my fairy godmother for more inspiration within myself. I do struggle not only with colors but composition as well. Like you…I persevere.

  30. alexandra s.m. permalink
    April 23, 2016 5:25 pm

    You are simply AMAZING Judy! and quite the inspiration in so many ways!!
    Your cards are beautiful! What is your secret?

  31. donna mikasa permalink
    April 23, 2016 8:46 pm

    Judy I am so proud of you and what you’ve accomplished, and to call you a friend as well. I love your cards, each and every one of them! Isn’t this the best time of your life?

  32. Henrietta permalink
    April 24, 2016 12:27 am

    What an inspiring experience! My crafty wish is to be organized – as if that will ever happen! Lovely cards thank you for the inspiration

  33. dawnnz permalink
    April 24, 2016 1:30 am

    Great post as usual Judy. Your story is fabulous and how proud you must have been to finally graduate. All today’s cards are fabulous, but the last one is my favourite.

  34. Julie Sweet permalink
    April 24, 2016 3:34 am

    Judy, your card creations are beautiful. I particularly like the bookmark card and the die cutting decoration which lends an elegance of its own.
    I also feel compelled to say you are a pillar of strength and determination. Congratulations on your college degree! I have a story with a similar experience, except mine wasn’t my own health problems, it was my mom’s. You rock!

  35. karenajo permalink
    April 24, 2016 9:13 pm

    Congratulations on accomplishing your goal – so inspiring to hear how you persevered through it all ! I look forward to your posts with all your super cards and stories and of course Cooper. I would ask the fairy godmother for the ability to ‘just do it’ – seems I have a very hard time just getting started. In the end, I am usually happy with my creations and enjoy making them !

  36. karenladd permalink
    April 24, 2016 11:51 pm

    Oh my Judy. I always look forward to reading every single one of your blog posts, and usually scroll through to the end for a peek at sweet Cooper. Your past several posts though, about your RVing experiences and now your collage journey have had me enthralled, as if by a best selling novel. Your story is inspiring, hopeful, nerve-wracking and, in the end, one that had me cheering! Good for you with your perseverance and spunk!! My husband teaches collage classes for students who have gone back to school after a long absence and I know how hard it is to juggle school, full-time work and family life. I don’t always comment on your blog posts but I ALWAYS admire your creative card designs and lovely narrative!

  37. April 25, 2016 3:50 am

    Thanks for sharing wonderful stories with us. I suppose I’d ask my crafty fairy godmother to teach me how to use the clean clear watercolor brush pens I bought two months ago. I’m so comfortable with Copic I haven’t even opened the package! Plus more crafty mojo — mine seems to have gone on spring break. Lol

  38. Marliese Zimmerman permalink
    May 6, 2016 6:25 am

    Wow! I admire your sticktoitiveness (is that a word). Congratulations! Love your stories and your cards. Thank you for sharing.

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