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, November 30, 2010

Pun'kin

Natashia - yes, that's her name, Natashia, although I've been calling her Pun'kin since she was born. It all started innocently enough. When my sister first told me they were going to name the baby Natashia, I thought that was an awfully long name for a little baby. So I decided to call her Natty. However, when I went to the hospital to meet her for the first time (where she promptly threw up on my favorite wool blazer), I knew she was going to be my Pun'kin. Now that she's a teenager, I'm trying to get out of the habit of using my nickname for her when we are around other people so as not to be an embarrassment. :>)

Today I've been working on a Photo Album Scrapbook of Pun'kin's Natashia's visit here over the past three years. I started with an identical album as the one I completed three months ago of the twins' visits. I typed up a short summary of each visit and then added in the "extra" photos from each visit. These are photos that were near duplicates of ones I plan to create layouts with (or have already), events that only had one or two photos, and miscellaneous photos that didn't go onto a layout - like eating breakfast or waiting patiently as Uncle Robbie's car gets towed. As I worked through my remaining photos from each of her six visits, I added them to a list of layouts I want to create. In fact, I've already started working on one of the layouts and will share it with you soon. Here's a look at a few pages in Pun'kin's Visits (2007-2010) Photo Album Scrapbook.



I love this little girl teenager and truly enjoy her visits. As her schedule gets busier and busier, I hope she'll still find time to come up and stay a few days every once in a while!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Post # 150 - Green, Blue, Purple & My First Art Journal

I can hardly believe that this is my 150th blog post! I am truly enjoying having a place to share about my life and my scrapbooking projects. This blog has helped me get back in the habit of journaling regularly and has allowed me to meet bloggers from around the world. Thanks to each of you who read my blog and those who leave encouraging and informative comments - I appreciate you allowing me to be a part of your day!

It is already Week 5 of the 6-week BPC Color! Or Is It Colour? workshop. We have covered six colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) and will be working with whites, blacks and browns next week, plus completing our mini-albums. Here are the blue and purples pages for mine. (You can see my other pages here and here.)


I've only completed one more of the Build It layouts so far, featuring the color green.

Jessica Sprague's free class Inspiration Everywhere started today, and the first project was to create an Art Journal. I've seen several Art Journals on other blogs, but have never created or used one myself. I enjoy journaling and think this will be a different way to document my thoughts and activities. I started with a plain composition book that I had on hand.


Next I used the psd template Jessica provided and changed some of the digital papers. I especially like the one I used for the border on the front and for the back cover - it is Mary B's Autumn Delights Green Russet. I think it has an artsy paint splatter look.



I decided to add a few embellishments and letter stickers to the front of the journal, so here's what the final product looks like.


I'm looking forward to tomorrow's material and getting started using this cute journal.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dino Fossil Dig

I found a little time to create today and decided to scrap the photos of my great-nephew discovering sand for the first time at the Dallas Museum of Nature & Science Fossil Dig. I started with three great photos and the November 28 sketch from Liz Qualman at My Little Sketch Blook. (I'm also entering this layout in the Sketches in Thyme First Open Sketch Challenge!)


I started with a piece of sand colored Core'dinations cardstock from their Core Essentials Collection. I sanded it slightly to give it a more distressed "sandy" look. I cut the title letters on my Cricut using the Cuttin' Up cartridge. Then it was just a matter of adding a few patterned papers and embellishments, including a Jenni Bowlin School Days Bingo Card.

Since Andrew had just turned one less than a month before the photos, I highlighted the one on the bingo card by placing a star over that square. I used a pop dot for the star near my journaling to give the layout a little dimension.

I decided while I was at that I would create the same page for Andrew's scrapbook. This is one of those days that I truly appreciate digital photography and having a great photo printer - I simply reprinted the three photos and was on my way. The second layout uses the same sketch but different embellishments. I love this Little Extras Laser Cut dinosaur.

I'm pleased with the way this layouts turned out. What do you think? Which of the layouts do you like best?

New Blog Award!


I am so excited and honored to have received this award from fellow blogger Sue. Wow, how great to have someone think my blogging is stylish! Thank you Sue - this really made my day!

This award comes with a few rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this (done above)
2. Share 8 things about yourself (see below)
3. Pay it forward to 8 bloggers that you have recently discovered (see below)
4. Contact those bloggers and tell them about their awards  (next on my list)

8 things about myself
1. I am married to the most wonderful man who spoils me rotten with flowers every week.
2. Yellow is my favorite color.
3. I love the Lord and try to live my life in a way that lets His light shine.
4. I enjoy reading and often have several books going at the same time - all different genres, of course.
5. I have a bachelor's and a master's degree, yet I love staying home, taking care of all our household affairs, volunteering, and scrapbooking!
6. I am a certified teacher and have taught middle school, high school, community college, and university courses.
7. I love to take road trips with Robbie, anywhere, anytime, any place.
8. I was born organized and Robbie says all my trains run on time.

Eight bloggers that I enjoy and am passing on this award. A couple of these I've followed for a while, others I've recently discovered, and one I even know in real life - be sure to check out their blogs!

1. Cheri - Scrap Dreams
2. Stephanie Joanna - Here's Looking at You, Kid
3. Rachel B - Rachel_B's World
4. Sian - From High In The Sky
5. S - Snaps and Snippets
6. Debbie P - Telling Our Story
7. Abi - Creating Paper Dreams
8. Ellyn - Ellyn's Place

You know, I thought it might be difficult coming up with 8 blogs, but truthfully it was hard to narrow it down to only eight! I enjoy blogging and getting to know other scrapbookers and crafters all around the globe. I'm off now to spend a little time in the blogosphere.

BTW - if you're Tammy, please check this post - if I don't hear from you by noon on Tuesday, I will have to pick a new winner of the pay it forward prize giveaway.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving & Christmas Clutter Countdown Week 15

The big event this week was our Thanksgiving celebration. Robbie and I did all our cooking on Wednesday, so our contributions to the Thanksgiving meal were ready to take to Mama & Daddy's first thing Thursday morning. I made four items: Grandma's pecan pie, praline sweet potatoes, dirt pudding, and orange jello salad. Robbie cooked the fresh green beans we picked up at the farmer's market.




Thanksgiving Day itself was filled with family,

food,

fun,

and games!


CHRISTMAS WEEK 15
We put out all our Christmas decorations Friday and Saturday. We have three Christmas trees (plus a couple of miniature ones) that we put out and decorate. Robbie helped me and we had so much fun getting everything out and set up. We played Christmas music all day both days, working our way through our collection of Christmas CDs. (I'll be sharing photos of the trees and some of my favorite decorations throughout the month!) For today, here's the Christmas village scene that's out on the china cabinet.


Some of  you may have recognized immediately that Robbie set up this great village. For those of you who didn't catch that fact, here are a few close-ups. First, notice Spiderman climbing out of the window near the church steeple.

And second, don't miss Superman hanging out on the street and General Custer freshly returned from the war standing in front of the house.


We also started watching our Christmas movies this week. We began with The Walton's Homecoming, which was the pilot for the TV series The Waltons. It's a great story based in a simpler, less materialistic time. Each child is hoping for one thing for Christmas, while everyone's main wish is that Daddy Walton will arrive home safely on Christmas Eve. While we were taking a break from decorating on Friday, we watched Jingle All the Way, which we really enjoy because it has such hilarious scenes in it.

I did do a little Christmas shopping early in the week with my Mama. I picked up a few items for Robbie and something extra for my nieces and great-nephew. I also ordered a few gifts for Robbie online.

DECLUTTERING WEEK 15
This week's focus was the dining room. I concentrated on our entire front room which has a sitting area with two comfy chairs and lots of bookshelves as well as our long dining room table, china cabinet and sideboard. This room really did not need much, a little cleaning and then some rearranging of furniture for one of the Christmas trees. We used the big table as a staging area for the decorations, and we are both glad that it is all cleaned off now so we can start putting together a Christmas puzzle on one end and then have a game of dominoes on the other. (If only I could start winning - it really shouldn't be that hard for me to get to 500 points first, right?!)

The only decluttering occurred while we were putting out Christmas decorations. We had four candle decorations that we never use and neither of us really liked, so they went into the donation bag.

Hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying preparations for Christmas!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Healthy Living Weekly Post: The Ultimate Weight Solution book review (Part 1)

To help myself remain focused on healthy living during this busy holiday season, I'm planning to read books about healthy living, nutrition, and exercise. I love to read, and I read at least a little every day, so this is a great tool to help reinforce the healthy living habits that I've been working on over the past several months.

 Last week, I started reading Dr. Phil McGraw's book The Ultimate Weight Solution: The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom and thought I would share my thoughts and what I'm learning as I read. The book is divided into three main sections: the introduction, the 7 keys, and powerful insights. I've finished the introduction and the first three keys.

The book is addressed to those who have followed fad diets one after another without success at keeping the weight off. This made me feel pretty good starting out because I've never followed any diet plan other than changing my lifestyle to incorporate healthy eating and portion control. Dr. Phil states that his plan "will be unlike any diet or makeover program you have ever undertaken." This book was written in 2003, so some of these ideas may have been new at the time, however so far I've found that I'm familiar with most of the material presented - although his presentation of it as 7 keys to be worked through is unique.

The first key is Right Thinking and is basically about self-control, losing weight for the right reasons, and thinking positively about the changes you are making. He reminds us that "you can never, ever, use weight loss to solve problems that are not related to your weight" and that negative self-talk does not help. This comment made me think of how I often say that I have no willpower when it comes to resisting things that are in the house. However, over the past 53 days, I have done a great job of resisting the three ice-cold Coca-Colas in my refrigerator.  I think this first key is one that I have done well on as my goal has never been strictly to lose weight, but rather to change my lifestyle to a more healthful one. I still need to work on my occasional negative self-talk by reminding myself of what I've accomplished so far and thinking positively about what I can do.

(Let me digress a minute and update y'all on the breaking of my Coca-Cola habit. I have had three cokes over the past 53 days. One day I just wanted to take some time "off" from all this healthy living and I enjoyed a coke and candy bar while I scrapped all evening! It was like a mini-vacation and I was right back on track the next morning. I also made a conscious choice two other times to enjoy a coke: once for Robbie's birthday dinner out and earlier this week when Robbie and I were enjoying a very competitive game of dominoes. I have to admit that I enjoyed the cokes as I would a new entree or special dessert rather than it being out of habit or emotional "need.")

Now, back to the book. The second key is Healing Emotions and the key revolves around not "looking to food for the answers to your emotional pain." I know that this has been an issue for me over the years, however as my Coca-Cola story reveals, I am working on changing how I address emotional issues. I think I'm doing a fairly good job with this key, but this will always be an issue that I have to be mindful of as I continue to re-train myself to eat for health and not for comfort.

The third key is A No-Fail Environment in which we remove unhealthy foods from our homes (or other places we store food). Dr. Phil also talks about keeping healthy foods available as well as switching to lower fat foods. Over the past several years, Robbie and I have switched from whole milk to skim milk, from regular cheeses to low-fat cheeses, and from vegetable oil to canola or olive oil. We no longer keep high calorie snacks in the house. I do keep a supply of snacks, however most of these are granola bars or other snacks that are packaged with 100 calories or less. I must admit that we keep a very well stocked pantry, and should the craving present itself, I could whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies or a pecan pie or a pineapple delight cake without having to run to the store. I just have to be mindful of when I choose to make those things - like when we have company coming over that can help us eat them up or when we're going somewhere that we need to take a culinary treat.

I'll share the remaining keys as I complete them. For today, we are playing Christmas music, putting out the nativity and Santa Claus figurines, decorating the Christmas tree, and enjoying turkey and leftovers from Thanksgiving. And I'm extremely excited to report that the scale was one pound DOWN from last week when I weighed in this morning - a total of 12 pounds down from my highest weight ealier this year!!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

I thought I'd celebrate this Thanksgiving by sharing one of our favorite Turkey Day stories.

In the fall of 2004, Robbie and I had both returned to college: Robbie to complete his Bachelor's degree and me to begin my Master's degree. We had moved to east Texas and rented a home, taking a few years off from our "normal life" to complete our degrees. Mama and Daddy came up to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with us.

As usual, we had a huge turkey in the oven, somewhere in the 15-18 pound range. However, Robbie had also slipped a cornish hen in the oven to cook. My parents and I were visiting in the living room when Robbie slipped into the kitchen to check on the turkey. He took out the cornish hen and placed in on the china platter, then added some fruits and vegetables to decorate the tray. He walked into the living room carrying the platter and said, "I know you're used to us making a big turkey, but now that we are poor college students, this is all we could afford this year." My parents, of course, knew that he was joking but we laughed and laughed and took these fun photos of the "poor college students' turkey."



We had so much fun taking photos of the cornish hen that we didn't get a photo of the turkey that year! However, here's a photo from 2008 which shows what our turkey usually looks like.


I am so thankful for fun memories like these, having fun with family and lots of laughter. I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with fun, food, family and (of course) lots of laughter!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How I Store My Scraps

I enjoy using scraps of cardstock and patterned paper on my layouts. For several years, I had 8 1/2" x 11" page protectors that I slipped scraps into, sorted by color. I kept the page protectors in the file cabinet drawer with my 8 1/2" x 11" papers. However, as I evolved into creating more 12x12 layouts and often had scraps that were 12" long, this system did not work well. About a year ago, I read about the system I now use. The idea came from the book Scrapbooking Solutions put out by Creating Keepsakes. There was a photo and these simple directions:

Put a colored sheet of cardstock in a page protector. Place solid-colored paper scraps in front of the cardstock and patterned-paper scraps in back. Store the scraps in an acrylic container.

I use 12x12 page protectors and store them in a basket underneath my craft table, right next to my chair. I can simply flip through them and pull out the color I want anytime.

My Scrap Basket

Easy to flip through and pull out the page protector of the color I want.
 Here are a few of my page protectors. I have a 12x12 sheet of cardstock in each protector, then in the front I have all my solid colored scraps and behind the sheet of cardstock, I have my scraps of patterned paper. If a paper has more than one color, I choose the color that is most prevalent or just choose one of the colors if it is a multi-colored paper. I do not have a scrap file for multi-colored papers. You might notice also that I include themed papers here as well.

Red solid scraps.

Red patterned scraps.

Blue solid scraps.

Blue patterned scraps.

Since I have set my scraps up in this system, I am constantly using them. It is the perfect system for me, however I know there are numerous ideas of how to store scraps. Here's a link to a recent article at Practical Scrappers that shows several ways to store scraps: Scraps - Storage Solutions.

How about you? Do you save and use your scraps? How do you store them?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Robbie's Birthday Weekend Highlights

Last week and  this past weekend we celebrated Robbie's birthday. Here are some of the highlights. 

The Birthday Boy with a few of his pre-birthday gifts.
Friday morning showing of the new Harry Potter movie.

The Birthday Boy with all his new loot. Notice his new Xyron machine! He is a collector of old toys, models, puzzles, and trading cards. He will often make his own trading cards and was regularly borrowing my Xyron machine, so I thought the 2 1/2" model would be perfect for him!

  
Lunch at Maggiano's Little Italy at Northpark Mall. Rather than the entire gang of waiters loudly singing Happy Birthday, one of the older servers at Maggiano's came over when the birthday dessert was delivered and asked if he could sing Happy Birthday to Robbie in Italian. He sang first in Italian and then in English in a beautiful bass voice - very nice.

Christmas decorations were on display at Northpark Mall.

The Moscow Ballet performing The Russian Nutcracker at the Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas.

The patio at Dakota's in downtown Dallas where we enjoyed Robbie's birthday dinner.

Before the waitress deliver Robbie's birthday dessert, she asked the pianist to play Happy Birthday. So while she was delivering the dessert and lighting the candle, Happy Birthday was played over the patio speakers - very classy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Musings - God is Good

This past week I completed the book study that our Ladies Bible Study group has been working on the last several months based on Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. The book introduces numerous lies that Satan would have us believe and counters those lies with the truths we find in God's Word. The thing I most like about this book is that the author continually reminds us that it is not important for us to believe everything in the book as she presents it, rather it is imperative that we study the Word of God for ourselves to see these truths.

In the summary chapter, many of the truths are restated and this quote from the book really spoke to me this week.

When the sun is shining and you have money in the bank and you're healthy and everyone thinks you're wonderful, it's not hard to believe that God is good. But when you lose your job . . ., the enemy will move in and cause you to question God's goodness. The Truth is, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of what we feel, regardless of what we think, God is good, and everything He does is good.

There were other examples in this paragraph of difficult circumstances, but the one about the job jumped out at me as a simple reminder that God is in control as we are in our seventh month since Robbie's job ended due to the successful sale of the company where he was working as the CFO. Most days we are at peace with the job searching and waiting for God's will in our lives, but it helps to be reminded that God is still in control in everything.

You are good, and what You do is good;
teach me Your decrees.
Psalm 119:68