Welcome! I'm Melissa Gross, a dynamic and interactive teacher and speaker called to lead and encourage Christian women in their walk with the Lord through classes, workshops and retreats incorporating Bible study, devotionals, illustrated Bible journaling, paper crafting and mixed media projects that merge faith and art bringing God’s Word to life so you can find renewed excitement to dive into the Word, use your creative gifts, and apply the Truth as you draw closer to the Lord and serve Him in your everyday life. This site is where I share my everyday adventures, Bible Journaling pages, scrapbook layouts, handmade cards, and other crafty projects, as well as information on my upcoming workshops and events. I also post photos, ramble about books I'm reading, stuff I'm organizing, and other FUN bits & pieces of my wonderful life.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mama & Daddy

My parents are the type of people who are always there when you need them. A couple of weeks ago, Daddy was here cutting down two bushes in our front yard and I snapped a couple of pictures. This reminded me of all the things he's done to help us over the past several years and I created this scrapbook page about him.

Here's the list in the journal box since it's too small to read:
*to help fix the roof
*to drive the U-Haul
*to cut down your bushes
*to fix the sprinkler system
*to push over your dead tree
*to borrow some black socks
*to build a floor for your shed
*to paint the walls in your new home
*to install new phone jacks in every room
*to help you move from one city to another
*to talk you through installing a LAN connection
*to move the desk, again and again and again...

Then, I went out to look for a new dress the other day and was reminded once again that I really don't like dress styles right now! What's wrong with putting a sleeve and a little bit longer skirt on a dress anyway? This got me to thinking about all my favorite dresses over the years and how they were made by Mama. And of course that's not all she's sewn for me over the years - there are the quilts, the afghans, the bunnies, the pillowcases, etc. So, I created this page about Mama's sewing. The poem reads: Mama loves me, this I know, because for me she will sew, sew, sew.

Going Rogue: An American Life

I finished reading Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin. I really enjoyed the book. It was a pleasant read - it reads just like Sarah Palin talking, down to earth straight talk. The book chronicles her life from birth right through until the summer of 2009.

I already liked Sarah Palin and agree with her stand on most issues. I like the fact that she is not afraid to stand for what she feels is right for herself, for Alaska and for our great country. She's not afraid to mention God, readily admits to praying, and tries to make the best out of every situation. The book really helped me to see more of who she is as a person as opposed to just what the media chooses to report. I also found it interesting to read about the behind-the-scenes workings of an election.

I think Sarah Palin is a good role model because she models a strong work ethic, is a motivating and inspiring speaker, places family at the top of her priority list, and is courageous enough to take a stand for what she believes in. I would definitely recommend this book.

One of my goals in the past year or so has been to read/research more about topics that come up that I'm not all that familiar with rather than just passively thinking "someday I'll have to look that up." There were two things that sparked my interest in this book that I'm hoping to do more reading on in the next few weeks. First, Sarah Palin openly praises Ronald Reagan and his presidency many times, holding up those years as examples of how our country should be led. I don't remember much about the Reagan years as I was growing up and don't come from a very politically inclined family, so I am inspired to find a good book about Ronald Reagan at the library and do a little history research. Second, she obviously loves the state of Alaska and is proud to have been raised and to have worked and served there. So, I'm inspired to check out a little more information about our youngest state.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Closet #1 - Decluttering/Organizing

I've decided it's time to declutter and organize my closets. There are only five closets in the house, so I'm thinking I can finish them all in the next few weeks while I'm having this spring cleaning bug. I started this past weekend on the closet in the peach room which serves as an exercise/TV/extra guest room. I had moved some things out of it last year and put more stuff in it. Most everything was pretty well labeled, but I knew it was time to go through all those carefully labeled boxes and see what needed to stay, what needed to go, what needed to be used, and what needed to be moved to a better location in the house.

I ended up with quite a bit of paperwork that needed to be thrown out: old financial stuff that we no longer needed (mostly because I kept more than I really needed to the first few years we were married since I wasn't sure what all to keep!) and lots of student grade sheets and reports from my five years of teaching. I have spent a considerable amount of time shredding all this paperwork - 12 bags so far and counting (when my little home use shredder gets too hot, it decides to take a rest as it is doing now).

Here's a picture of me sorting through my box of bulletin board materials. I haven't touched any of this stuff since I packed it up 4 years ago! Some of this went in the trash, mostly materials that I had laminated for specific bulletin board theme projects or samples of students' work that I had kept to use as examples. The reusable stuff plus a box of bulletin board borders is in the car ready to deliver to a friend who is currently teaching second grade. And a few posters - my very favorites - plus a sunflower painting that a student made for me are waiting to be displayed in my office/craft room.


Here's a list of a few of the items that needed to be used or moved to different areas of the house:
*framed water painting that Robbie's dad did when he was a kid - hung this in the guest room in place of a bought wall hanging
*empty/new photos albums - moved these to the closet in my office craft room beside the other extra photos albums and scrapbooks
*puzzles - I'm planning to open up a shelf for these either near the toy room or in the peach room
*my favorite posters & sunflower painting - ready to be hung in my office/craft room

Using the four Rs - Recycle, Reduce, Repurpose and Reuse, I'd say I did a pretty good job.
Recycle - at least 12 large trash bags of shredded paper, a huge amount of recycled papers, magazines, and catalogs, three cardboard boxes plus two cardboard presentation boards.
Donate - six books ready to donate to the library, two boxes of bulletin board materials ready to deliver
Reuse- I saved all the paperclips, binder clips, rubber bands, folders, and dividers as I cleared my paperwork. All these items are now assimilated in with my other office supplies to be reused.

Repurpose - I added quite a few items to my craft/scrapbooking supplies - old CDs & DVDs, felt from puzzle mat, old dictionary that is falling apart

Check out these before & after photos.





Time to get back to my shredding so I can get that all done before I start on closet #2!

Friday, March 26, 2010

2000 piece puzzle, Time to Ride, Made by Brenda

Robbie and I finished our first 2000 piece puzzle today. We've been working on it since the beginning of March and had some help along the way from Natashia, Daddy and Sandra. The puzzle was made by Buffalo Games and is a scene of Times Square in New York. We had to have both leaves in our big dining room table to lay out all the pieces!




I also got inspired and made two scrapbook pages today. Both of these layouts were inspired by layouts in the Ultimate Guide to Scrapbooking book that I'm currently reading. They are both from 2008 since I just recently got all my digital pictures from 2008 printed. This first one shows us on our Harley (which we have since sold) and our good friends Dick and Iris on their scooter. They recently upgraded to a much larger machine - a spyder!

This next page shows us with the lap quilts that my sister Brenda made for us and a beautiful wall hanging that she quilted for our living room.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two New Digital Scrapbook Pages


We are four days into the Type+Writer class at JessicaSprague.com and have created two digital scrapbook pages. Both of these pages use templates, papers and embellishments from JessicaSprague. The first page lists 28 small things I am lost without, thankful for, and blessed with. The second page is about our trip to Tennessee in November of last year.

Heartbreak Hotel & Keeping Healthy and Strong


Yesterday I finished reading Anne Rivers Siddons' novel Heartbreak Hotel. The story is set in 1956 and takes its name from Elvis Presley's best selling single from that year. It's about Maggie Deloach, a Southern college girl, and how her view of the Southern way of life changes. I enjoy Siddons' books because her characters are always so well developed that it's easy to image they are real individuals. The story takes place during the time of the Civil Rights Movement, and Maggie is ostracized when she publishes an article in the college newspaper showing empathy for a black man. I've read quite a few of Anne Rivers Siddons' books over the last several years. I didn't realize until I looked it up today that Heartbreak Hotel was her first published novel and that it is in part based on her own life and experiences.

Today I also finished the 1954 elementary textbook Keeping Healthy and Strong that I picked up at a flea market recently to add to my collection of children's books. Over the past three years, I've been reading books on healthy living, exercise, and good nutrition. It was fun to read this book designed for elementary students, teaching them about their body and things they could do to stay healthy.

I'm always reading several books at one time. People often ask me how I can do this without getting them all confused, and I reply it's because the books are usually from different genres. It was interesting to be reading these two books at the same time - one was set in 1956 and had the Civil Rights Movement as a main theme and the other was published in 1954 and all the illustrations were of white students, teachers and parents. It just reinforced how racial integration had not yet fully occurred during that time frame. It also seemed strange to me since now all our textbooks show many diverse cultures and ethnicities. Many other things have changed too as evidenced by this quote from Keeping Healthy and Strong: Fresh milk, as you know, comes in bottles of glass or cardboard, which are usually delivered by the milkman.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Digital Scrapbooking

I'm beginning to learn how to create digital scrapbook pages using Photoshop Elements 7. I created this page yesterday.
Papers from JessicaSprague.com Holidays In Hand Class
Free Page Template from Jen Caputo
It's pretty amazing what all you can do with digital scapbooking, but I think for me traditional paper scrappin' is a lot more fun and rewarding. There's just something about cutting and gluing and punching and stamping and cropping that reminds me of being in elementary school creating something new. And then I have that tangible creation to put in my scrapbook. Of course, I can print my digital pages out, too. I don't have a wide format printer, but I can either print the page out as an 8x8 or upload it to Shutterfly and order a 12x12. Since I'll be making several digital pages over the next two weeks in the Type+Writer class I'm taking, I'm thinking I'll wait until I've finished all those then order the pages I create and see how I like them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Am I Really Going To Blog?

I've thought about this off and on for a little over a year now. Should I start a blog - a place where I can share what's happening in my life, post photos (including my latest scrapbooking pages), maybe even offer advice or inspire someone with my ramblings about books I've read or my latest organizing project? I don't know why today is THE DAY, but here goes . . . my very first blog post!

Here's a little snippet of what's happening in my life today:

1. The sun is shining today and the temperature has almost reached 60 degrees. It's hard to believe that when we woke up yesterday, there were EIGHT inches of snow covering the yard! For an area that has an average snowfall of 2 1/2 inches, we have really had a record winter with three major snows! I am so ready for springtime!


2. I'm in the middle of a four month class called Library of Memories (LOM) led by Stacy Julian. It's all about organizing your photos in a way that you will be inspired to scrap them and tell the stories of your life. Here's a look at my new LOM albums.


3. I started a new two week online class today from JessicaSprague.com called Type+Writer. Over the next two weeks, we'll work on journaling prompts and create six scrapbook pages using different typology. We will be making digital pages which is new for me as I am mostly a traditional and hybrid scrapper.

Well now, that was pretty fun - a little typing, a few photos, and my first blog post is out there for the world to see.