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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Round Up - Continuing the Conversation

This month's round-up of comments and replies begins with a question from Missus Wookie. After reading my Creative Play post, she asked...how many Bibles are you currently using/illustrating?

I'm currently illustrating in four Bibles and a journal. I still occasionally add something to my NISB Bible that I originally started in, however I primarily work in my journaling Bible.


I'm also illustrating Bibles for Scrappin' Goodtime and Personal Scrapbook. These Bibles are on display at the stores, and I use them for demonstrations when I'm teaching illustrated Bible journaling workshops. Sometimes during a class I'll do a demonstration, like how to scrape paint on a page or highlight a scripture using gelatos. I don't like having these miscellaneous demonstrations strewn through the Bible, so later I go back and spend time reading and contemplating the scriptures on those pages in order to complete the page.



And every once in a while, I pull out my journal and add a page.


Susanne made a great observation on my Scrapbook with Square Photos post that I had not noticed. She said...Isn't it nice how squares and circles go together, whether in scrapbook elements like on your first and last pages or in the pictures themselves like on your second page. Lovely scrapping, Melissa. 

After reading my Pinterest Gone Viral post, I like how Sian summed up my comments about linking back to the original source with this thought...I completely agree. We don't find things "on" Pinterest but "because of" Pinterest and the originator deserves the credit.

There were several thought-provoking comments on my Decluttering INSPIRATION post. Mary-Lou said...A few years ago I decided to stop buying books for a couple of reasons (a)cost & (b)space to store. What I did do was get a library card & borrow the books & in this process I developed a very good relationship with the ladies of the library. They often need to get books for me from our libraries so there is a wait involved, but that does not matter. So, in the end my comment (we finally get there) is that in decluttering our homes & untangling ourselves from things, we can make space for other good things in our lives, our homes & our hearts & minds. I agree that decluttering helps us make space for other things in our lives and am also a huge proponent of borrowing books from the library (as evidenced by the six books I brought home earlier this week).

Cheri said..I'm currently reading The More of Less by Joshua Becker. So far so good. I glean a little from each new book on the topic and still hope to reach my goals in this area some day! This morning, while hurriedly packing for a last minute overnight to Baltimore for work, I pulled two pair of khaki style dress pants out of my closet that I haven't worn in over a year. I use the same two pairs of pants for every work function and finally letting go of the ones that were just hanging there! I've been doing something simliar, letting a few more clothes go as I work through my closet. The other day I wore a pair of capris and a lightweight T-shirt that I haven't worn in a while. All day I felt a little uncomfortable and realized that I haven't worn them because they don't make me feel good, so they went straight to the recycle bin when when they came out of the dryer on laundry day.

Susanne commented...I am figuring out that it is easier to deal with physical rather than digital version of that. This week I am finally recycling any and all magazines on Friday that have sitting around here. I have months, no years of them, that I have put off dealing with. So out they go just as my last subscription expires. Now dealing with unsubscribing online will take a bit more willpower. After reading this comment, I've been more conscious of how many emails I receive that I simply delete, so I've made a huge effort this month to unsubscribe from those that no longer interest me.

Minetta emailed me several book suggestions after reading my Book Reviews & Reading Challenges Update. She said...Have you read The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston? It is her story but the whole story is a scrapbook. It starts with her high school graduation in 1920. When I read it I was reminded of my mother's scrapbook. I'll loan you my copy if you haven't read it. 
Some of my favorite female detective stories are: 
Flavia de Luce series (read in order)
Mystery series by Diane M Davidson - all food tiles
Series by Victoria Thompason - all avenue titles
There are two series by Laura Childs. One features a scrapbook shop in New Orleans andthe other a tea shop in South Carolina. Very light reading but fun.
Just an all time favorite book is A Woman of Independent Means.
Another favorite God is an Englishman.
Bet y'all could guess that Minetta is an avid read, but you might not know she's also a retired librarian and teacher! I love having local friends who not only recommend books, but offer to loan them to me, too!

Of course, Robbie got several lovely comments after my Not Very Well-Known post. Sandra said...Oh how lovely, and so loving and kind of him. I'm sure this too made you feel more at ease xx. Karen said...Robbie is definitely the flower man; such a thoughtful guy! And Cheri said...How well known you are is entirely dependent on the circle in which you are traveling. Among your blog tribe you are very well-known and loved! And those are gorgeous sunflowers - Robbie did good!

Thanks, everyone, for continuing the conversation! 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorandum Monday - Moving Superman

When I decided last fall that I wanted to change things around here at home, I did not anticipate that it would take so many months to get it done! However, each stage has been a FUN learning process as we continue to make slow progress. Building shelf units for the trading card binders taught us that we need to plan those types of projects when the weather is nice as we don't like to work in the garage when it's cold out. Building, painting, and installing a high shelf in the new toy room reminded me that we can accomplish a job quickly if we plan ahead, work together, and stick to it.

This past weekend, I learned a few more FUN facts as we moved Robbie's Superman collectibles into the new toy room.

(1) When you already have such a nice display, it's difficult to get started!


(2) It takes a lot of time and patience to dust each statue, figure, and collectible . . . especially when you get to the smaller ones! I cannot count how many red capes I dusted and reattached throughout the day. (Bonus lesson - everyone, including Bugs Bunny, wants to be Superman.)


(3) Some of the figures come with extra hands!


(4) Apparently some of them also come with extra heads!


(5) While there are some collectors who keep everything in the original packaging so it doesn't decrease the value of the collectible, Robbie is a hobbyist who enjoys the collecting and displaying instead. So, moving, cleaning and rearranging is the perfect time to break open the packages of new items that never got opened!


(6) I decided long ago that being the primary housekeeper does not make me responsible for dusting the collectibles. :) Thus, quite a bit of dust can build up over the years - can you see it piled up there on the empty shelf?


(7) No matter how careful we are, something always falls behind the shelf (and stays there for years).


(8) If we work diligently for six hours, we can move the entire Superman collection! (Not counting the hanging collectibles & memorabilia, of course.)


There's still lots of work to do before the new toy room is complete. Then we'll paint and set up the new dining room and finally get my new craft room in order!

Joining in today with Sian's Memorandum Monday meme sharing something NEW (something you did over the weekend FOR THE FIRST TIME or something you learned and DIDN'T KNOW BEFORE).

Sunday, May 29, 2016

More Creative Play

After a good start, I did not keep up with all the Creative Play challenge prompts (from the Creative Simplicity Facebook group) this month. However, I did use a few more of the prompts as INSPIRATION for my illustrated Bible journaling pages as I challenged myself (and my knowledge of scripture) to find a way to relate the prompt to scripture while enjoying time in the Word.

Stickers
This was an easy prompt since I use lots of stickers in my illustrated Bible journaling. I used a variety of letters stickers in different sizes to add a reminder of James' admonition to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. I then used my own handwriting to add a prayer asking the Lord to help me remember and follow this advice.


Water
I'm also working my way through the free Inspired Faith class at Scrapbook.com, so I combined this prompt with Lesson 3 on creating tags and inserts. I used distress ink to color a tag, then spritzed it with water to create additional texture.


I used a Clear Scraps cross stencil and distress inks to illustrate the tag and the margin beside Matthew 27, the story of Jesus dying on the cross.


Plastic Bottle
I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to incorporate this prompt until I saw that someone else had used the bottom of a plastic water bottle to stamp onto paper. I used the same idea with a pigment ink pad to add an artistic background to my Bible page.

I combined this prompt with the day one materials in the Illustrated Faith Created to Create devotional, which focuses on how we are all creative. The story of Bezalel in Exodus 35 is one that I'm familiar with. He is the individual that the Lord called and filled with artistic wisdom to build the tabernacle. However, when I read the story this time, I noticed that the Lord also "put in his heart the ability to teach." This idea of having creative gifts and the ability to teach, too, resonated with me as I completed this page.


Paint
This was another easy prompt since I enjoy using watercolor paints in the margins of my Bible. (It was also perfect because Robbie had just surprised me with a FUN set of metallic watercolors!)

Still working with the Illustrated Faith Created to Create devotional, I turned to Ephesians 4 and read the section about spiritual gifts. With the watercolors as a background in the margin and highlighting the scriptures, I added stickers and handwritten journaling (words from a song).


I am so thankful for how these prompts, class materials, and devotionals enhance my time in the Word and help me illustrate what the Lord is reminding and teaching me!

How would you have used these Creative Prompts?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Not Very Well-Known

I remember hearing Beth Moore tell the story of how she was in an airport once and the barista at the Starbucks counter thought she looked familiar and asked if she was some other famous person (I don't remember who). Beth laughed as her assistant explained that it was the Beth Moore (who writes some of the most popular women's Bible studies around). This story makes me smile because it's nice to know that even Beth Moore isn't recognized everywhere.

Obviously I don't have an international ministry with followers around the world, however I do have a somewhat similar (and extremely funny) story that occurred earlier this year. Sharon from Tabernacle Baptist Church in Ennis, Texas, contacted me about teaching illustrated Bible journaling to the women there. We set a date and made a plan. She sent me a copy of the full color flyer advertising the event, which included a short paragraph about me and my calling to encourage women in their daily walk with the Lord.


I was so excited the morning of the event. As I was introducing myself to the 26 ladies there for the morning session, my cell phone (which I’d laid on the table behind me) rang very loudly. I quickly grabbed it to put it on silent but noticed that it was Sharon calling me . . . from across the hall! She apologized that she’d dialed the wrong number, and everyone laughed out loud when she stuck her head in the meeting room door and apologized!

Unbeknownst to me, Robbie had arranged to have flowers delivered before I started teaching that Saturday morning. He knew this was a special occasion as it was my first opportunity to teach illustrated Bible journaling in a church setting. However, when the florist arrived with my bouquet, Shawntee (the lady in charge of registration) told him there was no one there named Melissa Gross and sent him on his way! Sharon was calling around to correct the situation when she accidentally dialed my number.


The flowers arrived in the middle of the morning session, prompting much more laughter as the story came out . . . and I had to admit that . . .
I’m not very well-known!


Of course, huge thanks go to Sharon & Shawntee . . . because now this is such a FUN story to share when I introduce myself at new churches!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Scrapbooking Shares

The photos I had to tell the story of Mother's Day last year were not all that great. One was a little blurry and the other was cropped too close, however the memories and stories are what's most important. So, I created a simple layout with pops of color and handwritten journaling.


I had saved my twin nieces' lists of things to do during their summer visit in 2011 along with butterflies each of one of them colored during that visit, so I created another simple layout as I continue working to add the final stories and photos to our 2011 chronological albums.


I probably would not have chosen these particular papers for the next layout if I'd been scrapbooking at home. However, I'd taken my 2011 Storage Binder and some miscellaneous papers with me when I went to visit and crop with  my friend LeAnne earlier this month. It always turns out FUN when I have limited supplies and still come up with a layout I really like! (It also helped that LeAnne had some flowers and brads in her stash that worked great as extra embellishments!)


One of the packs of miscellaneous supplies I grabbed for my trip held a Quick Quotes page kit. I decided to follow the directions and put it together even though I wasn't sure how I would use it yet.


When I returned home, I flipped through a storage binder to find photos and ended up making a few changes to add more color to showcase additional photos from 2011.


So happy to have these layouts in my albums! Happy Scrappin' Y'all!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Reviews & Reading Challenges Update

At the beginning of the year, I chose eight reading goals and challenges to work on this year. Today I'm sharing several book reviews along with an update on each of these and why I'm letting some go and narrowing my focus down to only three of these goals for the remainder of the year.

1. Fiction Pulitzer Prize Winners
There are currently 62 Pulitzer Prize winners in the Fiction category. I've completed 18 (29%) of them. Of the remaining 44, our local library has 12 in its collection, so I'll be concentrating on those for the remainder of this year.

2. My Children's/Young Adult Library
I'll definitely be continuing to work my way through the 407 books in our children's/young adult collection and sharing reviews along the way.

3. Noontime Pageturners (Local Library Book Club)
I've enjoyed being a part of this book club for the past nine years. Many of the books chosen each year are ones I might not have picked on my own. Occasionally I end up not liking the books, however this group provides a great way for me to stretch outside my comfort zone and discuss books with others each month.

This month we read and discussed Anita Diamant's novel, The Boston Girl, an easy-to-read first-person narrative that I enjoyed. The main character, Addie Baum, is relating this story to her granddaughter as she looks back on her life in the early 20th century. Addie is a Jew born in Boston in 1900 to immigrant parents. The book primarily focuses on the years 1915 to 1927, giving a detailed look into Addie's life as she makes friends at a library group, works various jobs, feels guilty over her sister's suicide, attends night courses, deals with two young nephews dying in the flu epidemic, and finally finds love.

The book gives a really good picture of women finding their places during that period of time. A few short chapters at the end of the book sum of the rest of her life and we learn that she eventually ended up teaching at Boston University. She shares this nugget of knowledge that she remembered from her very first night course with an English professor who was on the verge of retiring yet took a great interest in his students in that final semester. "When I started teaching, I remembered how he talked to us, and you know what? If you treat every question like you've never heard it before, your students feel like you respect them and everyone learns a lot more. Including the teacher."

At the June book club meeting, we'll be discussing The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. (This book is being turned into a movie that premiers later this year.) This book is categorized as a psychological thriller and draws the reader in as the story is told from various viewpoints. The primary character is Rachel (the girl on the train) who watches the lives of people in the houses she passes on the train into London each day. When one of the women goes missing, she thinks she knows the story behind the disappearance. However, everything is complicated by the facts that Rachel is an alcoholic (which causes blackouts and memory loss at times) and  that her ex-husband and his new wife and baby live a few doors down from the missing woman's home. I enjoyed the read, although I figured out what happened and why less than halfway through the book. I admit that I questioned my hypothesis a few times during the reading, but it turns out I was correct. I'm looking forward to hearing other readers' reactions at the library book club meeting next week.

4. Simple Scrapper Online Book Club
I've read five of the Simple Scrapper Book Club selections and participated in three of the discussions. The books have been interesting, however I have to admit that the book club discussions do not hold my attention well or become too serious about the hobby of scrapbooking. Thus, I'm not planning to continue participating in the book club; although I might read a few more of the selected titles.

The March selection was Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way. I was surprised when I received this book in the mail from Amazon. It is a very small book. It is a quick read that basically states you simply have to do the work, that there will be resistance, but you still have to do the work to get to the finish. That's pretty much all it said, and I have to admit that I'm disappointed that our library didn't have this book because it wasn't worth purchasing (in my opinion).

The example the author used throughout the book was that of writing a book, but the information can be applied to other areas as well. I had a few thoughts about how the material could be related to my current teaching ministry, a business venture I was considering, and my weight loss goals. However, I didn't see the connection to scrapbooking, so I was intrigued to see how the discussion would go in the online book club. In all honesty, the discussion didn't keep my attention because it seemed irrelevant (to me) as I don't spend time evaluating the "fear" or "resistance" factors in this hobby that I enjoy.

I did not like the author of this month's selection, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, which discusses creativity, courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust and divinity. The premise is that creative living hinges on the question: "Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?" The author uses quite a few Harry Potter references (to magic, an invisibility cloak, etc) that I liked, however her use of religious phrases ("curiosity is the beginning and end, the alpha and omega) were out of context and inappropriate (in my opinion). She believes that "ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form" capable of interacting with us, and the statements that her parents were "responsible people," "taxpayers," "solid," and "voted for Reagan (Twice!)" are not meant as compliments.

My favorite quote from the book is this: "I wish somebody had told them (famous authors) all to go fill up a bunch of pages with blah-blah-blah and just publish it, for heaven's sake, and ignore the outcome." I think this is what she did!

5. The Lady Detectives 2016 Reading Challenge - I've already read seven lady detective books this year qualifying me for the top level, however there has not been any activity on the blog hosting this challenge. I'm working my way through the Trixie Belden series, so I'll be reading quite a few more books this year with a lady detective as the main character despite this not being an active reading challenge.

6. 2016 Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge - I've completed the first Anne of Green Gables book and will be completing the other seven later this year. However, I have not kept up with the monthly reading questions and posts for this challenge, so I've missed out on the link ups.

7. Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015 -  I mentioned in a previous post that I did not complete any bingos for this challenge, which ended in February.

8. Clocks, Cogs and Mechanisms Reading Challenge 2016 - This is another challenge where the hosting blog has not had any activity, thus my decision to not continue tracking progress on it. However, I do have some books on my list of things-to-read that fall into the steampunk genre.

Along with the books I've read for these goals and challenges, I've completed several books that I received free in exchange for an honest review. [I have such a huge books-I-want-to-read list that I've decided not to choose any additional free books for the remainder of the year.]

5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn't Quit (which I received from B&H/Lifeway) is a look at the lessons learned from the Biblical book of Ruth. I enjoyed this book and Nicki Koziarz's stories relating the lessons to her own life as she shares how a woman who doesn't quit: (1) accepts the assignment of refinement, (2) follows through with her commitments despite how she feels, (3) stays open to the movement of God, (4) gives others what she needs, and (5) moves forward in faith. One of my favorite quotes from the book is: The space between where we are and where we want to be is called potential. 


This book from Booklook Bloggers chronicles the life of Scotty McCreery, the American Idol Season 10 winner, leading up to and five years after his win. Go Big or Go Home: The Journey Toward the Dream is an enjoyable read about a young man who is enjoying his new found fame while holding on to the faith that he grew up with in a small town in North Carolina.






I received The Aerobic House Cleaning Lifestyle from Booklook Boggers as an ebook. Honestly this was a complete waste of time. The book is written in short "sections/pages" rather than chapters. It's very choppy reading and repeats the same thing over and over again. An author that asserts in one line that "the solutions to America's obesity epidemic are spiritual, not physical" and in another line states that "I've had a couple of beers writing it, so what the heck" while using an acronym denoting profanity is not one that I can respect or recommend.



And finally I enjoyed an audio book during my road trip with Mama in early April.

Two Little Girls in Blue is a mystery/ thriller with a great story line, lots of characters (which were a little difficult to keep track of on the audio), several plot twists, and a nicely wrapped up conclusion. The story centers around twin girls who are kidnapped and there's lots of suspense and a whole host of individuals who could be the culprits. I did not have this one figured out!


How are you doing with your reading goals and challenges this year?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Decluttering Inspiration

I'm often reading several books at the same time; typically they are all different genres and topics. However, I recently read two similar books at the same time, alternating between books over the course of a few days. Both books offer advice for decluttering and organizing, and both authors agree that when it comes to organization, lack of space is not the problem; too much stuff is the issue, so decluttering must come before organization.

I chose Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul from Booklook Bloggers (free in exchange for an honest review) because I was familiar with the author, Ruth Soukup, from her blog, Living Well Spending Less. (I actually received this as an eBook, which meant that items that were in sidebars in the printed copy often appeared to be out of place because they showed up in the middle of sections or even paragraphs on my Kindle screen. This occasionally made the reading seem a little disjointed, so I would recommend the printed version.)



Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul was an easy read with relate-able (to me) examples. The author used the acronym FREE to discuss how to become clutter free: Fight to stop the flow; Reduce by purging; Establish strict limits; Emphasize Quality over Quantity. She recommends working on  one or two small projects a week to effect big change over time. I especially liked that after she addresses decluttering in the home, she goes on to share ideas for decluttering our minds (creating a schedule, processing paperwork) and relates how Jesus has already done the work of decluttering our souls.

It was interesting to read her thoughts on scrapbooking and how many individuals quit the hobby because they got behind and became overwhelmed until easier solutions (digital photos, photobooks) came along. She made a great distinction between memories and stuff and how we don't need to feel guilty when we get rid of stuff because the memories remain.

There were some good quotes scattered throughout the book.

Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.
~Christina Scalise

Hospitality is not inviting people to our perfect homes; it is inviting them to our imperfect hearts.
~Edie Wadsworth

The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don't.
~Marie Kondo

I found that last quote interesting because the other book I was (re)reading for the April Simple Scrapper Online Book Club was Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.


Rather than tackling small projects, this book recommends tidying all at once, although the author admits that "quickly" typically means about half a year to work through each category of items (clothes, books, papers, miscellany, mementos). As I mentioned in my review last year, some portions of this book do not seem as applicable due to cultural differences and the collector side of my nature. However, the author does admit that "order is dependent on the extremely personal values of what a person wants to live with."

One idea that stuck out to me this time was her discussion of seminars and the materials that one client had amassed from numerous seminars. The client kept the material to review at a later date. Marie Kondo's statement that "a seminar's value begins the moment we start attending, and the key to extracting the full value is putting what we learn there into practice the moment the course ends" has me thinking about how/if I want to continue my goal of reviewing class materials from older online classes.

In the Simple Scrapper Online Book Club discussion, Jennifer Wilson shared this quote: “Do not even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding." Applying this to scrapbooking, Jennifer stated that "the lesson here is that we tend to start with containers when it's most important to start with purging, then contain what is left." I haven't done a lot of purging of scrapbook supplies lately, but I do agree that it's best to see what you have before deciding what containers you'll need.

And finally, I have quite a few reservations about using the KonMarie method on books, but rather agree with this blog post about getting rid of books that states: "It’s a useful exercise to clear the cobwebs from one’s bookshelves once in a while, but don’t let anyone talk you into getting rid of your books if you don’t want to, read or unread."

Have you read any good books on decluttering lately? Or completed any decluttering projects?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pinterest Gone Viral?

Several months ago I mentioned that I'm creating Bible journaling boards on Pinterest, curating a separate board for each book of the Bible. As a relatively new pinner, I was excited to acquire some followers, almost 30 of them! That number has remained pretty much the same until two weeks ago.

And then, overnight, I had 150 new followers! I'd like to send a huge thank you to whoever or whatever prompted this phenomenon . . . but I have no idea how or why it happened. It's just a fascinating mystery that makes me smile every time I log in to my Pinterest account. In fact, I'm still collecting a few new followers every day and my total is now up to 250. Maybe that number isn't really enough to say my board have "gone viral" . . . but it did feel like it for a little while when my inbox was full of messages saying "you have a new follower."

https://www.pinterest.com/melissagrossDL/

I currently have boards for 31 (out of 66) books of the Bible and continue to slowly curate pins that will provide INSPIRATION for illustrated Bible journalers.

I am enjoying the process of adding pins to these boards, however I've discovered that some images have been pinned without the link back to the original source. This is disappointing, and I have chosen not to add those pins to my boards. I often hear someone say that she got a recipe or craft idea from Pinterest, when in reality the idea came from someone who posted on a blog or uploaded a photo to a gallery or Instagram account. I think Pinterest is a wonderful resource! It's like having a basketful of fabulous magazines to flip through for INSPIRATION and ideas, but let's be sure to give the "author" credit when we use them!

If you're posting illustrated Bible journaling pages online, please share a link in the comments as I'd love to pin your examples.

Monday, May 16, 2016

All The Light We Cannot See - book review

The 2015 Fiction Pulitzer Prize winner was written by Anthony Doerr over a period of ten years.


All the Light We Cannot See primarily follows two characters during World War II. The story begins in 1944, then travels back to 1934 where each of the characters' story begins.

Marie-Laure is a blind French girl whose father works as a key master at the Paris Museum of Natural History. When Marie-Laure lost her sight at the age of six, he built a miniature version of the city so that she could learn her way around. In the midst of the war, Marie-Laure and her father leave Paris to live with her great-uncle in the city of Saint-Malo.

Werner is a German orphan who finds an old radio and listens to late night broadcasts with his sister Jutta. He becomes a soldier to avoid working in the coal mines where his father lost his life. He has a natural talent for building and repairing radios and transmitters.

There's so much more in this novel (a German soldier determined to find jewels for Hitler's [unrealized] museum, a huge gemstone called the "Sea of Flames", the story of those late night broadcasts, resistance workers, how Marie-Laure and Werner's paths cross, etc), but I don't want to spoil any of it!

All the Light We Cannot See is beautifully written, with no extraneous words, yet with exquisite detail. I really wanted a nice fairy tale ending, but this is a war time novel after all - there are quite a few characters and some are killed or simply disappear. However, there are several chapters at the end of the book that let the reader see what happens to some of the characters after the war. I highly recommend this book.

Have you read this book? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Using the Leftovers

A couple of months ago, I purchased a set of the new Illustrated Faith Books of the Bible tab stickers (this sheet and this sheet). Last week I finally took time to add them to my Bible.


When I finished, I noticed that the leftover sticker sheets looked like little frames where I'd removed the tabs.


I was inspired to use them in my Bible to illustrate the seven days of creation. I lined up seven "frames" and drew and colored a picture for each day.


I really like the way this graphic coordinates with my illustration for Genesis Chapter 1 and reminds me once again of how God created everything!


Have you used any leftovers lately?

Repeating Shapes

I've had several pieces of 12x12 cardstock with 1 inch square punch-outs in my stash for several years. (Some of you may remember that I used a red one for a layout a couple of years ago.) This week I punched all the squares out of a blue sheet, then removed some of the dividing strips to create frames for six photographs.


The squares (and the star embellishments) qualify this layout for Shimelle's challenge to repeat a shape on your page. I created a companion page with a title and journaling, which also repeats the star shapes.


Another very different layout that repeats a shape showcases a small photo of me surrounded by hot air balloons. Several of the images were pre-printed on the background paper, and I fussy cut others from the sticker sheet that went with this Bo Bunny Beautiful Dreamer Collection.


I've linked up several of my layouts with Shimelle's challenges and have some others to share soon. Overall for (inter)National Scrapbook Day and the week following I completed 16 layouts and have 3 that are in-progress. Did you join in any challenges this year? How many layouts did you complete?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Shimelle's (i)NSD Challenges

I have to admit that I had not really read through all of Shimelle's posts before completing some of these layouts while visiting my friend LeAnne this week. However, when we went through the (inter)National Scrapbook Day challenges, I was happy to discover that I had something to submit for quite a few of the them.

First, my layout showcasing photos from our ride on the Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry works for the challenge to create a page using red and blue.


Next, it was a totally happy coincidence that I had pulled a shaped paperclip to use as an embellishment . . .


on this layout with photos from several years ago.


Luckily LeAnne had some red paint, so I was able to create a background that matched the tablecloth in my photos and that qualifies this layout for the challenge to create a "messy" background.


And finally, since I used a card from the Pebbles Harvest collection as a title block and a Project Life card for my journaling, this next layout fits the challenge to use 3x4 cards on a 12x12 layout.


Did you join in with any of Shimelle's challenges this week? There are still a couple of days to link up!