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.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Meeting Karen

Today I'm celebrating the fact that I completed Cate's challenge to blog every day in May! I have a wonderful feeling of accomplishment as the month comes to a close.

As I end this month of blogging, I'm reminded of how much this blog as brought to my life over the past five plus years . . . most importantly, new friendships. This past week, Robbie and I were able to meet up with another one of my blog friends!


We met Karen for lunch in Buffalo, New York as we were heading back to Texas on our recent nine-day road trip to Niagara Falls. Karen had sent me directions to one of their favorite restaurants, and we had a fabulous visit and delicious meal.

As Karen mentioned during lunch, people who don't blog really don't "get it" that it's not  like meeting someone you don't know. Karen and I have been reading each other's blogs for several years, so it was just like getting together with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. It was comfortable and FUN and the time flew by much too quickly. Karen is warm and friendly and energetic . . . and, of course, she snapped a photo of her meal before digging in (because that's what photographers and scrapbookers do, right!).


I was delighted when Karen pulled out a lovely set of handmade cards that she'd created as a gift for me! They are colorful and beautifully stamped with a variety of sentiments.


I don't think there was even a slight lull in the conversation as we visited and shared about our lives and places we'd been and places we hope to go. Karen and her husband enjoy traveling as much as Robbie and I do, so I'm hopeful that our paths will cross again in the future.

Thanks for driving through the summer construction to meet us for lunch Karen!!

BTW - have y'all noticed that there were quite a few blog friend meet-ups recently? Alison and Rinda visited an enchanted garden and Sian and Ruth chatted over a cuppa. Have you met up with any blog friends lately?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Me In Other Places

This blog is my favorite place to share and connect with others on the Internet. I truly enjoy writing posts and reading the continuing discussion in the comments. I also like to read and comment on other blogs and am so glad for the connections and friendships that have come my way through blogging. However, I do venture into other (social media & scrapbooking) spaces on occasion, so you can find me:

On Facebook (HERE) - where I occasionally post a photo of something FUN I've been up to . . .


or a link to information about I class I'll be teaching . . .


or an event I'll be participating in.


And every once in a while someone else will tag me in a post.


On YouTube (HERE) - where I currently have a few scrapbooking videos posted. I'm hoping to add a couple more over the summer.

On the Scrappin' Goodtime blog (HERE) - where I  share projects I've created as part of the Design Team for this fantastic (not-so) local scrapbook store and retreat.

On the new Big Picture Classes website (HERE) - where I'm enjoying INSPIRATION from the variety of classes offered. Although I'd already created a layout based on  the challenge to use circles in the Paige's Pages class, I found another example in the class gallery that I just had to try. I punched scalloped circles from some orange and yellow paper scraps for this FUN layout.


I have to admit it was a little tedious cutting the scalloped circles and reassembling them to create this look, but I like the way it turned out!


As I mentioned in an earlier post, although I have a Pinterest account, I don't really pin. And I haven't even explored Instagram or Twitter. But I was thrilled to read Becky's comment yesterday and learn that I was featured during the Mail Segment of a recent Paperclipping Roundtable episode!

Do you venture into any of these (or other) social media & scrapbooking spaces?


Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Thoughts On Blogging Every Day

I have truly enjoyed following along with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May! I have especially enjoyed the variety of topics in the prompts she provided and feel like it has been a wonderful way to get me out of the blogging rut I'd fallen into. I also enjoyed seeing other bloggers' interpretations of the prompts.

As we're closing in on the end of the month, I have to admit that I was also reminded that it takes time and effort to produce blog posts on a daily basis. I found the prompts to be FUN as well as a little challenging at times. If you've been following along, you'll know that I occasionally adapted the prompt to make it work for me. (Or I simply threw in something random, like these gift tags and card I created as samples for my upcoming Pocket Page Scrapbooking & More class at Scrappin' Goodtime!)



Another challenge for me this month was the fact that we had ten days of travel planned! I typically have my computer with me when we travel, and often take time to blog or read and comment on blogs in the evenings. However, my philosophy is that vacation is for taking a break and having FUN and enjoying life as it happens, so there are times when the laptop never makes it out of the backpack. Luckily, I was able to schedule posts for the days we were on the road! (I'll be sharing photos and stories from our trip very soon!)

I want to send a huge thank you to Cate for providing the challenge and INSPIRATION to blog every day this month!!

(Don't worry, I know there are two days left in the month, and I'll have a post for you both days!)

Did you participate in Cate's challenge? What did you learn along the way?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Christmas Ornaments

It may seem odd to be discussing Christmas ornaments in May, however, when we travel any time of the year, we're always on the lookout for new Christmas ornaments to add to our collection. We started this tradition our first trip together and have amassed quite a collection. When it's time to decorate the Christmas tree, we get to remember the many trips we've taken and the places we've been. It's a wonderful trip down memory lane!

I have a small box in the guest room closet where I store the ornaments we collect each year, so the new ones are always the first ones on the tree. So far this year, we've added two new ornaments to our collection. The first one we picked up when we finally stopped at the Sam Houston Statue on I45.


The other we picked up at the gift shop at Johnson Space Center. We have an ornament from our previous trip to the Space Center, however this one is different. I always mark the date somewhere on the ornament, so it's definitely ok to have more than one from any given location.


What types of items do you collect when you travel?


Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Remember When

I've recorded quite a few of my childhood stories over the past several years. Some of them are ones that I'd told often, like how I came to love my blond hair and why I didn't get to compete in the second round of Brain Battle. I've recorded special events (like the year I got a shotgun for Christmas) and captured my feelings about special people (like Grandma and Josey). And I've scrapped lots of photos of my growing up years, from Easter trips to Kindergarten portraits to the senior prom.

However, I realize there's a favorite quote from my childhood that I've never shared. Daddy often reminds me that I used to say this all the time, probably in my tween years. I don't remember where I first heard it, but it was a rather smart-alecky FUN retort that I would spout out very quickly. It's really not very nice, but I'm sure (most of the time) I said it in a joking manner. It definitely shows a little of my rather spunky attitude at that age. So, for your amusement today . . . here's my favorite tween/early teen quote!

Your brain is so small that if I took it out of your head and put it on the edge of a razor blade it would look like a BB going down a four-lane highway!

This quote, without punctuation because I didn't pause while repeating it, reminds me of another story . . . about pausing at the end of sentences when reading out loud and my sixth grade teacher's concern that he should get off the road when I started driving . . . just in case I treated stop signs like those periods. Which reminds me . . . there are still lots of childhood stories I need to record!


Did you have any favorite sayings when you were a tween/early teen? Please tell me I'm not the only one who had a quick retort during those years! :)


Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in our country's armed forces. As we celebrate today here in the States, I thought I'd share a pocket page layout I created with photos from our visit in 2013 to the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum in Abilene.  The 12th Armored Division trained at Camp Barkeley near Abilene and adopted the name "The Hellcats." This division served during World War II, and although it suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Herrlisheim, it continued on and was instrumental in liberating several concentration camps. The exhibits, memorabilia, and preserved stories in this museum are great reminders that many fought and died for the freedom we have today.


Happy Memorial Day Y'all!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Capsule Wardrobe Failure . . . or Success?

As I stood in our closet several weeks ago, once again trying to figure out what I wanted to wear, I knew it was time for a change. The closet was jam-packed with clothes, yet I couldn't find anything I felt like wearing. I grabbed a favorite pair of capris and a t-shirt, and decided it was time to act.

I've seen several mentions of a Capsule Wardrobe on the Internet over the past few years, so I did a little research for INSPIRATION. I even pulled out a notebook and jotted down some notes and why I wanted to give it a try.


I knew there was no way I would cull my clothes down to the recommended 37 pieces, or even down to 50, but I was excited to try something new.

I pulled all my pants (jeans, capris, shorts, slacks) out of the closet and set to work. I started with 28 pairs.


When I was finished, I hung 13 back in the closet, placed 9 in the pile to donate, and put 6 aside to save (because they are just slightly too small). I was feeling pretty good about having cut the amount of pants in half. This photo looks similar to the one above, but if you look closely you'll see there are a lot less hangars in that same space.


Next I pulled out all my shirts . . . all 87 of them!


I piled them all up on the bed, with the colors that I had chosen for my Capsule Wardrobe on the left and the remaining colors on the right.


Things were going pretty smoothly as I choose which items to return to the closet, which ones were destined for the donation box, and which ones I would put in the storage box to save (mostly winter-type shirts).

However, when I got to the pile on the right, the colors I was going to omit from my wardrobe to make my Capsule Wardrobe . . . I just couldn't do it. How could I go an entire season without a red shirt, or blue, or orange, or purple, or even brown for that matter? This was the point that I knew I would never reduce my clothing down to a true Capsule Wardrobe. Total failure!

Or was it? I kept going and sorted the remaining shirts, hanging only 52 of the original 87 back in the closet.


You might have noticed that the hangars are backwards on the bar. This is the trick I'm using to help me see which items I'm actually wearing, and which ones I consistently pass over. In a few months, I'll see which hangars and still backwards and evaluate whether those items still deserve space in the closet!

I took a break at this point because it was midnight. However, Saturday morning I decided to continue going through everything in the closet despite the fact that I wasn't creating a Capsule Wardrobe. I pulled out all my jackets, then my dresses and skirts. Here's a look at the end of the closet before I pulled anything out.


That shoe storage unit on the right was full of gloves and scarves and such. I completely removed it and kept only the few pair of gloves we actually use, along with a couple of scarves and headbands. The rest of it went in the donation box. Now the end of the closet looks like this.



Just for FUN as I was working, I kept a tally of items and notes in my notebook.


I even pulled out all my shoes and sorted them the same way, except these were either keep or donate, nothing for the storage box. These are just my sandals and tennis shoes . . . I did put quite a few pairs in the donate pile!

While I was working on Saturday, Robbie was hanging out in the recliner in the bedroom visiting and encouraging me. He mentioned that he needed to do the same thing with all his clothes. (Yippee!) So, I started the whole process over once my stuff was back in the closet. Pulled out his pants, sorted, re-hung the keepers. . . then his shirts, etc.  We even sorted through his collection of ties!


Each time I removed a section of clothing, I dusted and cleaned that space in the closet. At the end of the day (yes, it took all day), the closet looked and felt so refreshing. And we had over 120 items to take to donate at our local community outreach.


We ended up with one large tote each of clothes to store, ones that are winter clothes (which we won't need until at least November) and a few that almost fit. We'll go through these items again sometime in early fall.

So, although at first I felt like this Capsule Wardrobe experiment was a failure, I realize that it was actually a huge success because we did cull our wardrobe down by about forty percent! And since all the hangars were backwards at the end of the day, we now have a way to tell if we really are wearing all the items we kept. Total success!

What do you think - failure or success?


Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Finding INSPIRATION

I know that Pinterest has become a place to collect and organize INSPIRATION, however I really don't pin! I did set up a Pinterest account, but the only time I scroll through a Pinterest board is when I occasionally click a link from someone's blog post. From this limited exposure, I know that Pinterest could become very addictive and time-consuming. I much prefer to get out and about for an INSPIRATION outing!

I enjoy outings that allow me to seek INSPIRATION away from the computer, get me out of my normal routine, provide opportunities to practice photography, spark creative ideas, and help me find beauty and FUN in the world around me. Last year I especially enjoyed a morning at the Oscar de la Renta Five Decades of Style exhibit, and a few years ago Robbie and I spent a FUN and inspirational day at Eisenhower State Park. My friend Ellyn and I had several outings a couple of years ago - we toured the Dallas Blooms at the Arboretum, visited a park and grocery store, and enjoyed the exhibits at the Dallas Museum of Art.

When Cheri and I visited the Frisco Mercantile recently, it was also an outing filled with INSPIRATION. Along with all those signs, we found lots of creative ideas.



My favorite items were these letters cut from Reader's Digest Condensed books.




I also liked these wreaths, although (as Cheri pointed out) they look like a ton of work to create.



I think a smaller version of this Texas string art would be great as a scrapbook layout embellishment.


I'm collecting ideas for creating decorative trees, so these cloth covered cones caught my eye.


And, finally, the pressed flower arrangements preserved in this old window frame created a beautiful piece of art.


Do you enjoy INSPIRATION outings? Please share ideas for other outings in the comments! I'm hoping to get out for regular outings again beginning next month.


Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Green Bean Bundles

Over the past few years, I've shared several of my best recipes and the stories that go along with them. Grandma's Pecan Pie and Magic Cookie Bars are two of my favorites. I have a set of 6x6 scrapbooks that hold the recipes that we deem "scrap-worthy." The recipe I'm sharing today resides in the Side Dishes category, and, although it reads From the Kitchen of Melissa Gross, I've never actually made this dish. (However, I created quite a few of these 6x6 scrapped cards to share in a recipe swap, thus the addition of my name.)

Robbie is the one who always makes this yummy side dish. We first had these green bean bundles at a friend's home during our first year or two of marriage, and Robbie immediately asked for the recipe. Since then he's made them for various special occasions (and sometimes "just because") - they are delicious and also look very fancy displayed in a pretty dish. Enjoy!



Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Not Really A Camera Review

Cate's prompt for today on her challenge to blog every day in May is to "review your camera." Honestly, I like all three of the cameras I currently use -  the Canon PowerShot SD870IS 8MP Digital Camera (our first digital camera, 8 years old now, small & easy to slip in a purse or pocket), the Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR Camera (a gift we gave ourselves for Christmas in 2011 before our 10th Anniversary cruise), and my Apple iPhone 4S (yes, it's probably time to upgrade soon).  I'm not really an expert in photography and continue to have the goal of learning to use all the features on the DSLR; however, I like to take lots of photos and scrap them with our stories and memories. I'm not sure that I could properly explain the difference in these cameras as my main criteria for which one to use depends on what I feel like toting around or (in the case of my iPhone) which one I happen to have with me when I want to snap a photo.

So, rather than a camera review today, I thought I'd share a few layouts I completed with photos (all taken with my iPhone) from Scrapbook Expo 2015 back in February. I created a pocket on this first layout to hold the tickets from the crops and class I attended.


Next I scrapped the photo collage I created with pictures of INSPIRATION on the show floor as well as the crop area.


And finally I used a map and some photos of the Gaylord Texas to tell the story of why Susie brought me a Coca-Cola.


How many cameras do you currently use? Would you be able to give a good review of them?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Craft Room Photos

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you will have seen photos of me scrapping away in my craft room. Some of you may even remember when I transformed the extra guestroom into my craft room a few years ago. Obviously this is one of my favorite places to be. However, it's not just the paper crafting supplies and the time I enjoy creating in this room that make it special. I've also filled this room with things that I love, things that make me smile as I look around, things that inspire me, things that remind me of friends and family, of times past and present. I hope these things will bring a smile your way today!

























Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.