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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Scrapbook Expo & Clear Scraps

Last Friday,  I drove out to Grapevine (about an hour away) and met up with my friend Amy (from Austin) at the Scrapbook Expo. I've never attended one of these large scrapbooking shows, so I was excited to head out for a few hours and see what it was all about. First, we toured the show floor where vendors are set up selling all kinds of scrapbooking goodies.

Then we met up with Amy's niece and five-year-old great-niece for lunch at a wonderful Mexican restaurant inside the Atrium at the Gaylord Texan. I'd never been to the Gaylord Texan (a huge resort and convention center), so it was fun to check it out. Here's a look up at the top of the atrium.

I was especially excited to have a new friend to continue my year of FUN skipping.

Amy and I took a class from Clear Scraps and put together two 12x12 pages. This was my first experience with Clear Scraps acrylic pages. Here's how the pages looked at the end of the one-hour class.


I have these on top of a piece of cream cardstock for the photos, but here you can see that the background is clear.

The next day at home, I added photos and embellishments to complete these two pages. They were actually designed to be a two-page layout, but I decided to use them as two separate one-page layouts. This first one will go in my Early Years album, which holds all layouts about me before I met Robbie. (Again I have this on top of a sheet of cream cardstock for the photo.)

And this second one will go in our All About Us album. (For this photo, I simply laid the layout on the table, so you can see the tabletop through the Clear Scraps acrylic page.)
I'm so glad Amy invited me to join her at the Scrapbook Expo! It's always so much FUN to get together with scrappy friends!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Reviews - Painted Table & Peace Child

A couple of quick book reviews for y'all today. This first book is one that I received free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. I picked this book from the ones available based on the title and short description from the website.

The Painted Table follows the life of Saffee who is born to a mother traumatized by a  difficult childhood. The table that the title refers to was built by Saffee's great-grandfather and passed down to her mother, Joann. As a small child Joann often hid under the table and as an adult it brings back lots of difficult memories that she tries to forget by painting the table, over and over again in an unstable attempt to make things better. Saffee worries that she will become like her mother, but as the story goes along she grows into a responsible adult and eventually inherits the table herself. I enjoyed the story, however I thought this was a slow read. The story was pretty predictable, so it wasn't a page-turner and there weren't the twists and turns in the story that would normally make me stay up late reading to the end.

Peace Child is the second book my sister shared with me this year as part of our monthly book swap. This is one that she and Pun'kin Natashia have both read. The story is written by missionary Don Richardson. He and his wife were missionaries to the Sawi people in New Guinea in the 1960s. The Sawi were cannibals and headhunters who valued treachery, and it was extremely interesting reading how they were able to learn the language and customers of this primitive people and eventually share the gospel of of Christ with them. Just as Jesus taught using parables and stories and examples that people in Bible times would understand, Don Richardson found a way to share the gospel using an example from the Sawi culture. This book was also a slow read for me, primarily because the names are unfamiliar to me and there were several different groups of people involved so I had to concentrate more to keep it all straight. It was well worth the effort.

I'm starting two book this week - one is another Pulitzer prize winner (The Way West) and the other is for the library book club meeting next month (Big Fish). What will you be reading this week?

A Playful Page With May Flaum

I'm continuing to work my way through the Play! workshops and recently watched May Flaum's live presentation as well as the bonus video she had in the classroom. During this session of the event, we received a kit with Basic Grey patterned papers and waterfall pack, gold Thickers, distress ink, a Crafter's Workshop stencil, and a variety of embellishments.

May's class focused on a simple formula for completing pages: (1) layer papers, (2) add photo[s], (3) add your story, and (4) play with embellishments. I loved how she included "play" in her formula, tying it in perfectly with the focus of the event!

Since our focus this month in the Inspired Scrapbooking workshop is People, I took May's formula and these fun products and created a layout about May.

Journaling reads: I've taken several online classes from May Flaum over the past several years (Camp Scrap, May with May) and always enjoy the inspiration, challenges, and techniques that May shares. She packs a ton of materials into each class and is always very active on the message boards and available for questions via email. I even had a Skype chat with her during one class. So it was especially FUN to take a class from her in-person and get to meet her at the Play! in Anaheim event. She's very genuine and always has FUN crafting!

I scraplifted several of May's ideas on this page. First, I outlined my letters to help them pop more on the page.
I also used the stencil and sequins and silver hearts to create a random scattered look at an angle on the page.

While I had all these products together, I decided to create another layout - this one tells a story about Ali Edwards at the Play! event.

Journaling reads: After Stacy introduced the workshop teachers Tuesday evening, she asked if we had any questions for them. I asked Ali if she was thriving (her word for the year) wearing that balloon hat. I thought it was a FUN question and was trying to connect with her and her word, but her response was a little cool and I thought I had somehow offended her. It seemed strange to me until she shared in her workshop the next day that letting go and playing are out of her comfort zone, but she's working on it this year. It was nice to say Hi to Ali later that evening and to see her loosening up and having FUN during the remainder of the Play! event.

Have you recorded any stories about your favorite scrapbooking teachers?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Liebster Award

My friend Ellyn nominated me for a Liebster Award. Her blog post says "liebster means cute or darling, but in Blogland it's really just a way of connecting and getting to know each other better." I received this award several years ago, however this time the award comes with 11 questions for me to answer. (Actually it looks like there are two #4s, so that makes 12 questions!) So, here goes ....

1. Why did you start blogging?
Here's the statement I posted when I initially set up my blog - I've created this blog as a place where I can share what's happening in my life, post photos (including my latest scrapbooking pages), and ramble about books I'm reading, stuff I'm organizing, and fun classes I'm taking.

2. What is something this year that you are really looking forward to?
Having FUN, of course!

3. What is your favorite thing to do to unwind?
Hang out with Robbie, scrapbook, read, organize ... oh, was I supposed to only pick one?

4. Photo's say a thousand words so share a photo that means the most to you. Why is that picture important to you?
I love this man and our life together!

4. What quote inspires you the most?  
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

5. Name a quilting tool you can’t live without & why?
Well, not really a tool, but when it comes to quilts, I can't live without Mama & Brenda (because someone has to make them for me, right?).

6. Where is your favorite vacation spot?

Banff

7. What is your favorite blog?
No way am I going to even try to narrow my choice down to one . . . or ten . . . or twenty!

8. What is your favorite way to work out?

Riding the stationary bike . . . because I can read at the same time!

9. Where do you like to shop?
I really don't like to shop . . . unless it's at a scrapbook store.

10. What's the best advice you've ever been given? 
Near the end of her life, Grandma made me promise that I would travel every opportunity I had while I was young (and not wait until I was old because I might not be able to then).

11. What is your favorite blog post you've written?
I'm not sure that I can pick a favorite, but if you've been reading my blog for a while I'd love to know what your favorite was!

Now I'm supposed to award other bloggers the Liebster Award, so to all of you who see my name pop up regularly in your comments I nominate you for this award with no obligation to pass it on. However, I'd love to hear your answers to these questions if you want to share in the comments or on your blog.

10 Reasons To Work Puzzles

Earlier this month, we completed the 2000-piece puzzle we started in January.

We always have FUN working on puzzles, so I enjoyed the list of 10 Reasons To Work Puzzles sent out on January 29 (National Puzzle Day) by White Mountain Puzzles and thought I'd share my slightly revised version of that list with y'all today.

10. Puzzles exercise both sides of your brain and expand your creativity.
9. Puzzles come in all sizes (24-piece, 250-piece, 1000-piece, etc) and can be enjoyed by all ages.
8. Puzzles are a great way to entertain yourself while you are alone.
7. Puzzles are a great way to spend time with family and friends.
6. Puzzles give you a great sense of satisfaction and happiness as you see your image come together.
5. Puzzles are a great way to unplug from TV, cell phones and electronics.
4. Puzzles are a great way to escape to your favorite places, aspire to see new places and bring back fond memories.
3. Puzzles are a great way to relax and clear your head. Studies have shown they can actually lower your heart rate and blood pressure too.
2. Puzzles can sharpen your memory,  increase your life span and lower your chances of  developing memory loss.
1. Puzzles provide hours and hours of FUN!

When was the last time you worked a puzzle?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fall 2010 Layouts

A few more layouts for my 2010 album - a couple of places we went and things we saw that fall.
Dallas Museum of Art
(I had so much FUN with these embellishment clusters!)
 
Texas State Fair
  Texas Star at the Texas State Fair

 (a closer look at the journaling)
Tom Landry Exhibit at the Texas State Fair
 (Enjoyed using lots of bits & pieces on this one!)

I just have a few more layouts about the holiday season to complete my 2010 albums, which I'm hoping to do by the end of the month

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Technique Toolbox

I knew when I signed up for the Technique Toolbox workshop with Claudine Hellmuth at BPC that I was stepping outside my comfort zone, which I think is definitely a part of having  FUN! I enjoyed putting together the toolbox that Claudine designed to hold the recipe cards for each of the 25 techniques we'll be learning. It's amazing how something that starts out looking like this . . .


. . . can look like this with just a little bit of cutting, folding, and gluing.

I don't have the supplies needed for each technique, but I'm using what I have, making substitutions, and am committed to trying at least a couple of the techniques each week.

I started with the Photocopy Medium Transfer, which required a laser printed copy, gel medium, water, and patience. I tried to transfer the script font that Claudine provided as well as a copy of a columnar pad (which I thought would make a fun background). I ended up with this!

OK, so I probably need a little more practice with this technique, however I decided not to waste these efforts and I turned them into tags anyway.
 

I also made a card to try out Claudine's secret for gluing papers to get a smooth effect without bubbles.
Not too bad for the first week - I have three tags that I can use on layouts or cards! Anyone else taking this class? Is it outside your comfort zone?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gondolas

On our 2010 Banff Road Trip, we took two gondola rides - one to the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff and one at the ski resort in Lake Louise. We'd ridden the Banff Gondola before, but always in the winter time. On this trip, we were able to hike over to the Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site that is 1k away. It was a beautiful hike and I recorded that story on this 12x12 page.

I had other photos from our hike that I wanted to include, so I added this 12x12 divided page protector with eight 3x3 slots and one 12x6 slot.

The two page layout looks like this.

Of course, that left the back of the divided page protector ready to be used. I chose photos and the tickets from our second gondola ride to fill it. Robbie wasn't really excited about this ride because he'd never been skiing and hadn't ridden on an open gondola. However, it turns out we enjoyed it so much and it was such a beautiful day that we rode it up and down the mountain twice!

We were in bear country, but the only bear we saw that day was this beautiful painting in the visitor's center.

Did you notice that the handwriting was different on the Bears page? I gave Robbie a journal box and asked him to fill it in because I want to be sure to include his handwriting and perspective in our albums.

Have you invited anyone to share their perspective and handwriting in your albums lately?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Scrapping About Daddy & Dad

This month my Scrappin' Goodtime Design Team assignment was to create projects using Kaisercraft's Garage Days Collection. This is a fantastic masculine collection of papers, stickers, and embellishments filled with tires, cars, bicycles, grease, and accolades for dad! Check out my post on the Scrappin' Goodtime blog to see all the goodies that came in my kit.

So far, I've created three layouts with this kit. This first one showcases a favorite photo of my Daddy with the three of us girls all on his bicycle - I think I'm about three-years-old in this photo.

Next I used a 12x12 die cut paper to create a layout with a couple of photos of Robbie's Dad.

This last layout is a connections layout, one that combines photos from different times and incorporates a story over time. I put two silhouette photos of my Daddy together a while back with the idea that I would scrap them together and tell how Daddy's always willing to BBQ, even when we "volunteer" him. When I saw this embellishment in the Garage Days Collection, I knew it was time to complete this layout.

All the papers are from the kit, however I also added a journal card and two photo mats from the We R Memory Keepers Chalkboard Albums Made Easy kit.

And just because Jacky's been using her chevron punch lately, I was inspired to pull mine out and use it along with a strip of washi tape on this layout!

I've got one more layout idea and quite a few cards I want to create with this kit, so watch for those soon! Have you scrapped about your daddy lately?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

2010 Banff Road Trip Layouts

As I was evaluating my 2010 albums, I was thrilled to see that I've told several stories from our Banff Road Trip (including the ones about our walk into Banff and Robbie's problem with the broiler and the drive through Glacier National Park). However, I still had several pieces of memorabilia and photos I wanted to include in my album.

First, I had the journal pages from our trip. I had used a plain journal to record our adventures each day and had simply torn those pages out of the journal when we returned home and put them in my memorabilia box. I decided to staple the pages together and slip them into a page protector. I added some washi tape and a photo to the first page and put a piece of cardstock with washi tape borders inside the pocket behind the journal pages.
The pages can easily be slipped out of the pocket and thumbed through to see all the notes from our trip.
I added pieces of memorabilia and stickers to the back of the piece of cardstock, so when the page is turned it looks like this.
With all these notes and the previously scrapped stories in my album, I had FUN scrapping the few remaining photos without any pressure to tell a story on every page.

I have a few more pages from this trip that I'll be sharing soon!