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Runs with Scissors

September 17, 2016


Hello, again. Has anyone else noticed how quickly September is marching into October? Finally and at last it is reasonable to expect the temperature and humidity numbers to dip here in Alabama. It is the time of year that our over worked air conditioning unit can take a well deserved break. Even the attic fan is running less and less.

Here in the Penny Black studio the windows are open, the curtains are dancing in the autumn breezes and there is apple cider simmering on the stove. (Thank you to whoever thought of that). The studio is an amazing place to be any time of the year, but when it is decorated in the colors of autumn it’s even better.

While Mr. RWS is at home power washing our sidewalks and driveway, I’ve been happily busy using the stamps and dies from the Magic of the Season and Autumn Splendor releases.


My apologies to anyone with a spider phobia. Once this idea entered my head, there was nothing to do but make a batch of spiders and add them to my Happy Haunting card, which I stamped using the Spooky Fun transparent set. I applied black enamel to each of the eight-legged little darlings. The background was created using Distress inks and a blending tool. I will have to think a while before deciding who “deserves” this card.


I stamped and embossed the evergreen tree from the Woodland Beauty transparent set several times using various shades of green ink. I created the sky using an ombre ink pad which gave me several shades of orange. I would be happy to spend time in this Chapel in the woods, made more dimensional by offsetting two diecuts slightly.


Nothing says Christmas card as clearly as red and green. It’s even better if the card includes a poinsettia and holly. I was happy to notice that the poinsettia stamp from the Red Sparkle stamp included a bow tying the stems together. This was a perfect opportunity to use the Bow Set die and add a dimensional red bow. Jill Foster demonstrated the technique of blocking off part of a sentiment with tape and using two different ink colors, which I used for this card.

Whatever happened to common sense and what has my insurance company done with theirs?

 I am going to write about this calmly and maturely, but please forgive me if I forget and turn into a ranting and raving lunatic!

Recently I received a large envelope from the company that provides our Homeowner’s insurance. Thank goodness I sat down to open the mail that day because I would have collapsed into a heap had I been standing!

It was a copy of our policy and the bill for the premium. I looked at the amount due at the bottom of the Declarations page. Where for the past 11 years there used to be a three digit number and some pennies, there was now a number with a comma and some pennies.

When I could breathe again, I took myself to my desk and racked my brain trying to calculate by what percentage the premium had increased.   Something to do with “is over of”. Finally I asked Mr. RWS, the math whiz, who calculated it for me. Actually, my body was trembling too badly to be able to use the calculator. The answer to the percentage riddle was 78%. Yes dear friends, our premium had increased by a whopping 78%.

Once I recovered the power of speech, I called Customer Service, fully expecting the voice on the other end of the line to say, “My goodness! That can’t be right. We would not do that to our customers. Let me find someone who can recalculate your premium for you.”

Dear Reader, that is NOT what happened. Mr. Customer Service proceeded to educate me on how they realized their old method of calculating premiums for the state of Alabama was not accurate and they now have a new method. They also had spent time analyzing future risk in our state. All Alabama residents received a rate increase, he said.

Now I began to panic. What did my insurance company know about “future risk” in Alabama? Was it the apocalypse? Melting glaciers crossing the Mason-Dixon line? Have they finally realized we deal with tornadoes? Tornadoes are nothing new down here, that should not be a surprise to anyone in the insurance business.

When I pointed out my premiums were increased by 78% and his reasons did not seem enough to justify such an increase, he was not impressed. I mentioned to him if all their customers in Alabama received such a hefty increase, people would be canceling left and right. He still was not impressed.

I very maturely asked to speak to his supervisor or someone who had the power to make changes or solve problems. He agreed to transfer me, but assured me nothing would change. Talk about quelling hope!

And he was right. Mr. Supervisor was no help at all.

I waited until the next day when my blood pressure had come down and called several other insurance companies for rate quotes. Dear Reader, this is not a short and simple process, but I persevered and received three quotes, each at least several hundred dollars lower than my insurance company was charging.

Next step: a letter to the Vice President of Customer Service (thank you, Google). I wrote a very pleasant letter assuring Ms. VP that we were the same lovely people that we had always been for the past 11 years in this home. We had not moved the house or removed the brick walls and replaced them with sticks or cardboard. The fire hydrant was still located across the street and we had new batteries in all the smoke alarms. I even assured her we have a fire extinguisher and alarm system, same as always. Our dog has never bitten anyone (nor has my husband). I asked for a review of this premium and for her company to share with me what factors influenced the increase. (I had been assured by the customer service rep that those factors are proprietary information and could not be revealed).

A week later I received a call from Ms. VP’s colleague whose job it is to handle complaints. She also began with the company speech which I now had heard several times. She did offer me the option of increasing our deductibles (substantially) which I chose to decline.

And then she said it: “Have you noticed we increased your hurricane coverage?”

What? Did she say “hurricane”? Yes, she did. I made her repeat it and then checked my declaration page and there it was … hurricane coverage lumped in with the premium for Property Protection, along with Dwelling and Other Structures and Personal Property, etc. And wasn’t I pleased to have this extra coverage?

Well, I told her, it might be a blessing if I wasn’t located just 100 miles south of Nashville and a six hour drive from the Gulf coast. And a hurricane would have difficulty crossing the mountains that surround us and dipping down into the “bowl” we live in. I couldn’t swear, but I was pretty sure our part of the state had never experienced a hurricane.

She did not miss a beat. Not even when I asked her to break down how much of my premium was for that hurricane coverage. “No way to tell”, she said. Well, I said, somewhere someone has the work sheet that was used to recalculate my premium and that would surely tell us how much of an influence that hurricane coverage was.

Dear Reader, I stayed sweet (like they do in the South) and I even commiserated with her when she told me her auto insurance rate went up when her husband had an accident. I had to point out to her that my home did not have an accident and I did not need or want hurricane coverage.

It worked. Our phone call ended with her promising to have an actual human recalculate our premium and share with me the factors that caused the huge increase.

I am not 100% certain, but I am thinking the hurricane coverage is to blame: especially since my conversations took place while Hurricane Hermine was threatening Alabama, Georgia and Florida. I may be breathing a sigh of relief prematurely but I will let you know how this story ends.


Don’t forget the convenience and beauty of Penny Black’s Stickeroos. This is the Berry Delight sticker just mounted on cardstock, trimmed and then applied to a card base. I did add sparkle to the leaves, berries and white trim on the pine cone; another detail that makes the card special. Christmas cards are the best opportunity to add bling and trim.


And here is my watercolored version using the Cones and Berries slapstick stamp. I painted directly on the stamp and used my MISTI so that I could be sure to stamp any area more than once that did not stamp clearly the first time. I added a sentiment and a little blue bird, just to have more detail and topped it all off with a snowflake and pearl.


I am still going strong with ideas for Snowy, but this is only number four out of the seventeen weeks from start to finish of this project. It isn’t time to panic yet. This time Snowy is delighted to be standing in front of the beautiful background made with the No Two Are Alike die. I may run out of ideas before I complete the challenge I set for myself, but I can’t imagine ever becoming tired of this adorable snowman.


And here he is … the little guy who is in charge of making every day sunny, every event more fun and every trial and tribulation a little less difficult to handle. We have all heard it before: why can’t we all be more like our dogs? No worries for tomorrow, no regrets from yesterday and full of unconditional love. I do believe pets are part of our world in order to teach us what they are born already knowing.

Oh, my. I have gone on so long about my insurance woes that I have overstayed my Penny Black welcome. Just know that I am happy you stopped by and I will be visiting the Penny Circle Flickr Gallery to enjoy your work with Penny Black products. Oh, yes, I have stowed the scissors and didn’t once mention to Ms. Customer Service that I sometimes run with them.


Shop for today’s featured Penny Black supplies




33 Comments leave one →
  1. dawnnz permalink
    September 17, 2016 2:31 am

    Awesome post Judy. Some stunning cards here today. Hope your insurance story has a happy ending. 78% is a HUGE increase and what a hoot about Hurricane coverage. I checked out Google Maps and you are very far from the coast!

  2. September 17, 2016 5:00 am

    I love the cards, thank you for sharing. Now you have me worried, we have a winter home in Florida on the gulf side…and I dread our next insurance bill!!!! It went up a little last year but not 78%. That is so totally ridiculous. Many people in our area started insuring themselves when prices went up I. Our area a few years ago. They rose about 50% then. I hope your insurance situation gets resolved to your and everyone in your area’s satisfaction.
    Isn’t it amazing how insurance companies are so,happy to take your money every year but complain bitterly when there is a claim and have the Gaul to raise your rates!!!!

  3. September 17, 2016 6:31 am

    Thank goodness for card making. It holds us together and keeps us from screaming bloody murder with people and company take overs. But, being in Mississippi I will have to say there was damage around here ( just north of the middle) after that last big one. And now they ( who ever they are) say we are due the earth beneath us moving. ..Sometimes it is hard to win.. Except in crafting. Then we are all winners. Yea!

  4. Sue CD permalink
    September 17, 2016 6:32 am

    That snowman stamp is calling my name. He’s just so so cute! And Cooper too. My insurance company says everybody all over the country has to pay for all the wild fires, tornado and hurricane claims the companies get because “after all, that is a lot of money to pay out”. Where I live we have none of those things. I have increased my deductible greatly to keep the cost down because I know the probability of having a claim is low. In forty years I have only had one claim. I feel for you Judy. Hope the resolution works in your favor.

  5. knurse22 permalink
    September 17, 2016 6:33 am

    Grrrrr….I hate insurance companies who do that! My Mom’s company raised her auto rates significantly without a cause, and I told them it was senior abuse! Made them nervous but didn’t change the rate.
    Love that poinsettia card with its vivid reds! And must get some of those Stickeroos to try, too. Cooper is just too cute!
    Enjoy this delicious cooler weather!

  6. jane harrah permalink
    September 17, 2016 6:37 am

    I so understand your frustration. We called the insurance company and got similar information that the “rates for Maryland” had been recalculated as they were “undercharging” for the last couple of years. I told them that I ha never made a claim and they were getting my money free and clear every year and not having to do anything to earn it I got the same rigmarole runaround you did and finally changed insurance companies! Love that snowman and the pine cone die must be mine! I need them! I already have the snowman and he is the best snowman ever!!

  7. Suzy permalink
    September 17, 2016 6:54 am

    I love your ideas !!!!! You’re stories too !!!!! About the home insurance, I have a story too. I live in Southern Florida. Yes, we have had devastating hurraines and minor ones. My last interaction with any home insurance company was 2010. I had a 30,000 deductible, and paid a 10,000 premium. That didn’t include replacement value but the appraised value which will not begin to cover even a third of what it would cost to rebuild. After using some investment money to cover the premium, I started checking around. None of the companies would even give me a quote, I was too “high risk.” Around that time, the State of Florida, started it”s own home insurance company to cover those that commercial companies will not cover. The premium was about 1,000 less. I have not had home insurance since 2011. I cannot afford it and should a major hurricane destroy my house, I will live in a tent, get whatever momentous left and clear the property. I will try to sell the land,although I think it will be worthless. I will pack up my husband and dog and drive to Northern Florida or further, to find a small parcel that will accommodate a mobile home or small house. I know it will take years to accomplish but I will never live here again. I couldn’t afford to live here even I wanted to. If my husband can make it to retirement without a natural disaster, then we will leave in 10 years. It’s not what I imagined retirement to be but I feel like I we will be blessed if we can find a place with a lower cost of living, a few good friends and a great Vetranaian. I hope God blesses you too and all the others in our situation.

  8. Betty H. permalink
    September 17, 2016 7:03 am

    I have to tell you that I subscribe to many card making blogs and I move through them pretty fast each day, taking in what new and wonderful things they have to offer. I love each one of them, but…yours is the only one I actually read from start to finish. I just wanted you to know that. It is a joy to read what you write, whether it’s about making each of your lovely cards or sharing stories from your life. I find that I look forward to what you are going to write about each Saturday! (No pressure!) 🙂 I love Penny Black stamps and own loads of them but there are oh so many more on my wishlist! I might give the Stickeroos a try. So, thank you for your stories and lovely cards. You’re a joy!

    • judka permalink
      September 17, 2016 7:34 am

      Betty, many thanks for your comment. I sometimes think I talk too much! I am honored and humbled by your kind words.

  9. Virginia L. permalink
    September 17, 2016 7:46 am

    As always ,you put your heart and soul into each card and every story. Thanks for sharing your beautiful cards, Judy. I think you are qualified for a 2nd job–“Billing Consultant”. Imagine how much money you can help saving!!!? 🙂

  10. creatingincolors permalink
    September 17, 2016 8:20 am

    Hope you persevere and get some satisfaction with the insurance. It is especially infuriating when they can’t or won’t tell you how they came up with the number. And they add insult to injury when you do have to file a claim due to storm (not hurricane) damage. That’s when they say well YOU need to call so-and-so, and so-and-so, like this is a do-it-yourself-project. What? Anyhow, love your cards as always. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ll never get tired of Snowy.

  11. Judy permalink
    September 17, 2016 10:14 am

    I’m from Wisconsin, so I will say “HOLY COW!” That’s really outrageous. I feel the same way when our tax statement comes from our township here. I keep telling my husband they are going to tax us right off the land! Our car insurance is nuts, too, but I guess being that we are retirement age, it will just get worse as time goes on. Nothing a person can do about it, but I will be looking forward to hearing what you find out. I really doubt they will give you a cut. It’s probably written in blood by now anyway. Thanks for entertaining me every Saturday.

  12. barbara lassiter permalink
    September 17, 2016 10:14 am

    Love all your cards, but the Happy Haunting card(with spiders), the Cones With Berries card, and the Snowy card really caught my eye. Can’t have too many Snowy cards! So sorry about your insurance woes… that seems too much of an increase at one time. We live in a hurricane prone area(northern DE) and our yearly bill has the comma before the some odd cents, routinely. We have our auto and home insurance together and that saves us a little bit each year, plus we had changed companies sometime back for a better rate. Five years ago, hurricane Irene roared through and deposited a tree on our house and our insurance company came through with flying colors, but they better because of our rate. They did not increase our rate because of that! At least, not yet, anyway! Good luck and keep making those gorgeous cards!

  13. September 17, 2016 11:04 am

    I totally agree with ‘Betty’ and no, you do NOT talk too much. Not only do I read everything you write, but usually read all the comments your readers leave…we all feel the same way – YOU ARE THE BEST!!! Thank you for your talent and inspiration Judy! We love you!
    Paper Hugs,

  14. Verna Angerhofer permalink
    September 17, 2016 11:17 am

    Such gorgeous cards and I had no idea Penny Black had stickers. That sure made a beautiful card and I can imagine it is a great way to hurry the task of card making. I am way behind due to surgery so I might have to try a few sticker cards too. And, I feel so bad about your insurance woes. That really is a bummer and way too big of an increase. I would be searching for answers and alternatives as well.Good luck on that!

  15. September 17, 2016 11:40 am

    I know how you feel with the insurance increase! We had ins. for 30 years with the same company, and every year they would increase it until a few years ago, and I finally said enough! Over the years we went from a few hundred dollars to it ending up being over $800 and we had never filed a claim in that entire time! Well I went shopping and found something a lot more reasonable in price. God love their hearts, we had a hail storm come through here and tore the car up and the roof and other items on the house. Well we filed a claim with the new company, and they came through like gang busters for us. Fixed all the dents in the car and believe me there were plenty, put on a new roof and new garage door and other things. Big bucks to get it all fixed.Yes, we had the car insured with the same company. I thought our insurance would go sky high and I would be out there looking for another company. Well, when the new bill came. no increase. Maybe they are just setting us up for the next time, and throw us to the wolves. Crossing my fingers! It is a nationally known company, and have the funny ads on T.V. They are, our good neighbor…for now! lol

    , Beautiful card creations Judy! I love that snowman and I don’t have him. I hope he is still available to order. I think he is one of the older Christmas stamp releases. My daughter has him, maybe I can talk her out of it, probably not, as she loves all of her Penny Black cute stamps, as do I! That is the most adorable photo of Cooper! That little cute face of his…just a sweetie pie! Take care Judy, until next time! Hugs to you and your’s!

  16. hobbitnoll permalink
    September 17, 2016 12:02 pm

    WOW!! Your insurance went up 78%? And you don’t even live near the ocean to need hurricane coverage? Do these people even look at the geography of where they are making these changes? Bless you that you were so patient with these people. I would not have been so nice. I am the type that can get a little hot blooded about these things.

    Your cards are really stunning. I did not have a clue that Penny Black made stickers!! Great design on every single card!

  17. karenajo permalink
    September 17, 2016 12:13 pm

    Love your cards today – Snowy looks really cute in this pretty setting !
    Price increases everywhere- 78% is WAY too much – where is all that money going ? Hope your story has a happy ending, but I am not averse to changing when a company you have loyally worked with for many years does something like that.
    I always look forward to seeing Cooper’s sweet face – brightens my day !

  18. Linda S in NE permalink
    September 17, 2016 1:09 pm

    Loved, loved, loved today’s post. Enjoyed your cards, so enjoyed reading about your insurance woes, (you have given me several good ideas and phrases to use in dealing with my own coverage company). As usual, my favorite part was the picture of Cooper, and especially what you wrote about him and his job responsibilities. I think he is due for a raise!!

  19. Jacqueline Green permalink
    September 17, 2016 1:50 pm

    My insurance went up this year but now I feel better, it was only about 20%. Glad you persevered – that what it takes anymore. Oh yea – loved the cards. 🙂

  20. Julie permalink
    September 17, 2016 3:23 pm

    Great post–we in California have seen huge increases in our home insurance because of wildfires elsewhere in the state and the ongoing drought. I tried to shop around but was told no companies are writing new policies in our area and to stick with what I have. We’ve been in our home 18 years, never filed a claim, and our insurance is now $1680 per year!

    • judka permalink
      September 17, 2016 5:59 pm

      Guess I better stop complaining. Thanks for sharing Julie.

  21. donna mikasa permalink
    September 17, 2016 11:50 pm

    Wonderful cards, Judy! I’m especially impressed with the Stickeroos and how quickly your cards come together using them. And bless your heart for keeping your cool and finding lower rates–Larry must be so proud of you!

  22. mjmarmo permalink
    September 18, 2016 11:09 am

    Such gorgeous cards! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!

  23. Dianne Crowe permalink
    September 18, 2016 11:22 am

    Love your cards, will check next week for the end of your story.

  24. Sandy C. permalink
    September 18, 2016 12:24 pm

    Sometimes it pays to have them recalculate from scratch what coverage would cost. Most companies increase your coverage by a fixed % every year. After awhile, it gets to be more coverage than the home is worth. I had this done (the person told me they would charge me a higher premium if the recalculation showed it should be higher). However, the recaluclation, showed it to be worth significantly less than the current coverage (just because of those % changes every year). So with that they re-did the insurance at the lower rate and that brought the premium way down again. I may have to go thru that again in the future. We are also outside a city and have a rural fire dept. The insurance industry uses ratings on fire departments. Our poor FD was rated very low, next class down is “no fire department”. This also made the rate jump again a few years ago.

  25. conil permalink
    September 18, 2016 12:40 pm

    The cards are, as usual, flawless. The conversations (plural) with your insurance company, are well considered and thoughtful. I, on the other hand, would have been through the phone, holding Mr. or Mrs. Customer Service by the throat if they told me they couldn’t determine how the calculated my premium. I so admire your restraint and can’t wait to here the outcome. Have you considered moving?

  26. Betty L Visotski permalink
    September 18, 2016 5:29 pm

    sounds like people in Alabama are going to be paying for the insured in Louisianan from there floods. Insurance companies are one of the most corrupt corporations right along with banking, oil and pharmaceuticals. I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this. Your stamping tho is fantastic. Thanks you.

  27. DebbieP permalink
    September 18, 2016 9:16 pm

    Love your cards…. the spider and church cards are my favorite. But about that insurance, I don’t know that I would have shown the same restraint as you. I would also be checking to see what kind of pay raises the employees of said insurance company received. I bet the management team all received really great bonuses at your expense!!! Looking forward to your next post to see the outcome. Good Luck!

  28. Mary Holshouser permalink
    September 19, 2016 8:37 am

    the birds in the second card can take care of the
    spiders in the first card 🙂
    Great cards.
    thanks for sharing.

  29. Diane permalink
    September 19, 2016 2:44 pm

    Wonderful cards and inspirational ideas as per usual ! Good luck with sorting out your insurance woes. We stopped insuring contents of our home years ago. Found they were all a rip off and did not like the idea of someone out there having a detailed list of all our valuables. We do not need to take insurance on our property, instead we have saved up and keep an amount one side in case of a problem. Saves us a small fortune every year and we get the interest. Sending hugs to Cooper. He is such a handsome boy and your writings about him always put a smile on my face. Take care.

  30. September 20, 2016 3:53 pm

    First off, I should be slapped for not coming to the Penny Black blog long before this! What beautiful work you all do. My friend Alexandra posts every Sunday about PB and I just didn’t get it. Second, I could have written this post about the insurance company as I just went through this too. I was aghast when I opened the bill this spring and called and asked them to shop the policy around to get a better rate. After a week went by I looked to see what it had been last time. It only went up $200 but it had been in three figures and now was four and that’s what shocked me. Then I realized before my hubby passed he totaled our new car and they paid out almost as much as we paid for it. Yes, the rate went up a little bit but you have to be pleased with that prompt service so I called and said I’d just pay the same company! I love your dog and that sweet little face. To end this saga I wanted to say I just encountered a fuzzy spider exactly like on your card today! I am so not a fan of the real thing but your card is cute. So glad I visited here and will be back again.

  31. September 25, 2016 7:43 pm

    I’ll admit to laughing as I read your story, Judy, but it’s a good thing you had to call Cust Service & not me–haha! Sure hope they come to their senses–thank goodness for competition giving you other choices! Finally catching up after my recent trip & work shifts–so glad I didn’t miss these wonderful cards! The double die cut for the church truly makes it look 3D–amazing! I love the Stickeroo & your stamped version & oh that snowflake background die is so neat! Thanks for all the inspiration!

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