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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June Lighten Up Blog Hop


Welcome to the June Lighten Up Blog Hop! This month's menu features cold sides and salads designed to help keep the kitchen cool for those of us in the midst of summer time heat!

I'm sharing one of my favorite side dishes today. It's quick to put together and is great for a crowd. What I like best about this dish is that I can adjust it for whichever ingredients I have on hand. It calls for 5 cans of beans and 1 can of corn, however if I happen to be out of navy beans (which I was this week), I can just not include them or add another can of one of the other beans. Same for the 5 chopped ingredients; this week I didn't have any celery on hand, so I simply doubled the amount of bell pepper I added.

DUMP-IT BEAN SALAD


 Dump together in large bowl – drained cans of
*pinto beans
*kidney beans
*navy beans
*green beans
*yellow wax beans
*whole kernel corn


Dump in chopped (1/2 - 1 cup of each)
*celery
*onion
*bell pepper
*carrots

In small bowl, combine the following dressing ingredients
*3/4 cup sugar
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon pepper
*1/2 cup canola oil
*2/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Pour dressing over bean mixture, stir, cover & chill. 
(approximately 150 cal per 1/2 cup serving)


Here's the complete JUNE Menu:
http://www.melissagross.blogspot.com/
Dump It Bean Salad (Melissa)
http://www.holadayshappyhearts.blogspot.com/
Cucumber Ribbon Salad (Rachel)
http://www.BEglorious.blogspot.com/
Summer Layered Salad (Beverly)

Are you interested in winning the June blog hop prize? After you've check out all 3 of this month's recipes, email Beverly at neusebrats{at}aol{dot}com with the answer to this month's question: How many total ingredients are listed in the three recipes? Do not count duplicate ingredients more than one time (ie: if all three recipes list salt, only count it as one ingredient).

Since we have readers from all over the world, we want you to be able to easily convert measurements as needed. These links take you to conversion charts. We hope you find them helpful.
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/cvcookix.html
http://www.startcooking.com/blog/333/Measurement-and-Conversion-Charts
http://www.pioneerthinking.com/measure.html

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pass the Book - Guest Post

Today I'd like to welcome my Pun'kin 13-year-old niece Natashia as she shares her thoughts on the Where Women Create: Book of Inspiration.

As I was going through this book, I became very fascinated with the many different types of places where women like to work on whatever it is that they truly enjoy doing.  This book was inspirational to me in a way of organization.  I enjoy being involved in many community theatre productions, and I am always looking for a creative way to keep track of my notes without always having to carry my script around (while not wanting to just be carrying a bunch of loose papers either). Therefore, this week while I am visiting with my wonderful aunt and uncle, I asked my aunt if she would be willing to help me make a theatrical clip board for any and all my theatre purposes.  Here is a little sneak-peak of my clip board.

 The inspirational book of Where Women Create also made me start thinking about and noticing that there are so many very interesting ways to make and/or decorate different things from lamps to entire rooms - you can make everything you do fit your individual personality.  So all in all I was, quite interested in all the different places that women work.


Thanks Natashia for sharing your views on the book (and especially for that "wonderful aunt and uncle" comment!).
My sister Brenda is ready to pass this book on to the next reader. This is your LAST CHANCE to win this book as part of Sian's Pass the Book fun! Since this book has been traveling around the world for almost a year now, it is time for it to be returned to Sian. Click HERE to read all about the Pass the Book project and HERE to enter for a chance to enjoy this inspirational book.

I know many of you have enjoyed passing the book throughout this last year, and I'm excited to announce that I will be continuing this project beginning in August. Sian will send out her last book in July and I'm already previewing books to share starting in August, so be sure to check back regularly. If you've heard about a great inspirational book lately, please leave me a note about it below so I can add it to my preview list.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What Happened To June?

Wow, I can hardly believe we are already in the last week of June!! It has been a busy month here, and while I have completed a few crafty projects, I've only completed ONE layout. And I just realized I never even shared it with y'all. This layout was inspired by the March edition of Shimelle's 4x6 Photo Love class at Two Peas in a Bucket.

I had saved the brochure from this theatre production and used it to cut out the title block and the little journaling strips with detail about the venue.

I hope you're all enjoying June and looking forward to the arrival of July as it appears to be approaching at a rapid rate! 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Flower Topiaries

When I saw the May Craft It Forward Flower Topiary ideas on the Scrabooks etc website, I knew I had discovered the perfect idea for this year's gifts for my nieces' recital. I started with a plain styrofoam ball and ended up with this.


I used up all my double-sided patterned paper scraps for the flowers (which I cut on my Cricut) and made quite a dent in my stash of brads and glue dots. I am very pleased with the way they turned out. I had these cute Borden's cups that I picked up at the Texas State Fair last year (knowing they could be used for goodie gifts at some point). I filled them half full with shredded paper, then added candies and cute erasers to fill them up. I wrapped the cups in plastic wrap and tied each with ribbons in my nieces' favorite colors.

I have to admit, they took quite a while to put together, but I think part of the reason is that I was using scraps of paper so I had to continually set my Cricut for the paper size and guestimate how many flowers I could get in each size. 

I think the girls really liked them. In fact, Natashia said she thought she would make these topiaries next year at recital time for her dance instructors! All three girls performed beautifully at the recital a couple of weeks ago!

On another note, Beverly posted today that she is ready to Pass the Book A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. You can read how it inspired me HERE and sign up to be in the draw on Beverly's blog HERE.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Healthy Living Weekly Post: An Active Lifestyle

This was definitely an active lifestyle week for me! My 6-year-old twin nieces were here for their summer visit and here's a look at our active week in photos.

MONDAY - first riding lesson with no training wheels, on the grass and a slight incline to get the feel for the bike without training wheels.

 TUESDAY - second riding lesson, in the cul-de-sac, learning to use the brakes to stop and not fall over.

 WEDNESDAY - third riding lesson, they could both start and stop by themselves and we practiced wide turns.

 THURSDAY - after the fourth riding lesson & one scraped leg each, we enjoyed running through the sprinklers to cool off!
Anybody else notice that summer time is much better for maintaining an active lifestyle?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

May with May Inspiration Layouts

During the BPC May with May workshop, there were daily inspirational emails each day of May, and while I was not able to follow up on all the inspiration, I did find time to create a couple of layouts. This first one showcases photos from our visit to the Dallas Zoo three years ago during Natashia's summer visit. One of May Flaum's inspiration emails challenged us to use four elements on a page and another challenged us to use photo corners to highlight one element on the page. I had saved a sticker from our visit and used that as my title.

This second layout also showcases Natashia, this time at a surprise birthday party when she turned 12-years-old. This layout was based on an October Afternoon sketch that May linked to on the Inspiration message board.

I am so glad that all the BPC classes offer forever access, so I can eventually go back and take advantage of more of the inspiration offered during this workshop. I hope you're all having a scrappy June!

Passing The Book

Where Women Create: Book of Inspiration: In the Studio and Behind the Scenes with Extraordinary Women

It's been a busy and fun week around here so far with my 6-year-old twin nieces visiting. I decided to have them help me choose the next recipient of Where Women Create: Book of Inspiration as I Pass the Book that originated with Sian almost a year ago. I had each of the twins choose a small number, added them up, and came up with Natashia (the last commentor) as a winner.

I thought that maybe I should do something a little more definitive since they had unknowingly chosen their sister and mom to receive the book. (They actually had no idea why I wanted them to choose a number, but I wanted to be fair.) So, I wrote all the names on little slips of paper and then double folded them so the name was not visible. One of the girls drew a name, opened it, and looked at me with a questioning look when she read "Natashia." Now their curiosity was stirred and they asked what it was all about. So, I told them that Natashia had won a prize, which they thought was pretty cool.

I must tell you, though, that to be fair they then took turns drawing all the names and reading them (or having me read them really) because they wanted everyone to win a prize! Sweet girls, aren't they. Too bad I only have one book to pass on because I would love to share the inspiration with everyone (you can see how the book inspired me here), but for now the book will be off to Natashia and Brenda. I'll be hand delivering it when I take the girls home on Saturday.

To read more about Pass the Book and find out where all the books are, click here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Reviews - Issac's Storm, Quilt as Desired, Twenties Girl

http://www.amazon.com/Isaacs-Storm-Deadliest-Hurricane-History/dp/0375708278?ie=UTF8&tag=dalibipi-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson is a non-fiction account of the devastation that occurred during the Galveston hurricane of 1900. The story alternates between Isaac Cline, a meteorologist in Galveston at the time of the hurricane, and other events occurring during the days leading up to, during, and after the hurricane. It is a very well-written and researched book that reads like a fiction novel. This book wasn't actually on my to-read list, however one of Robbie's co-workers loaned it to him and he suggested I read it also. After I started reading it, I realized this is actually the second book I've read by Erick Larson. At the beginning of 2010, I read his book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America for the January book club meeting. That book was also very well researched (about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair & a serial killer in Chicago at that time) and while it was also non-fiction, it read like fiction. I highly recommend both of these books for anyone who enjoys a good novel and/or would like to learn more about the history of hurricanes or the Chicago World's Fair.

http://www.amazon.com/Quilt-Desired-Harriet-Threads-Mystery/dp/1934135259?ie=UTF8&tag=dalibipi-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969

I purchased this book while browsing the Dallas Quilt Show with the intention of sending it to my sister, but of course I had to read it first. Quilt as Desired is the first in a series of mystery novels by Arlene Sachitano. Harriet Truman has only been back in Foggy Point for a month when her aunt leaves her to run a business, which is broken into twice and her customers' quilts are destroyed. She finds her aunt's best friend shot in the head and there's a large cast of characters who might be involved - members of the Loose Threads quilting group and the dead lady's brother and son. It's a great storyline, however the plot was slow moving at times and the ending wrapped up in three short pages.

http://www.amazon.com/Twenties-Girl-Novel-Sophie-Kinsella/dp/0385342039?ie=UTF8&tag=dalibipi-20&link_code=bil&camp=213689&creative=392969

I read Twenties Girl: A Novel by Sophie Kinsella for this month's book club meeting. It's definitely a light hearted read, but I honestly had a difficult time getting into the story. Lara Lington spends most of the book hanging out with and taking directions from her great-aunt's ghost, trying to find an old necklace that belonged to the great-aunt. There are several story lines - Lara's best friend and new business partner runs out and leaves Lara to run the business by herself, Lara want to re-unite with her boyfriend and gets Sadie's ghost to help her, Lara meets a new man because Sadie's ghost want to go out with him, and Lara's rich uncle has lied for many years about how he started his multi-million dollar business. I think this book would make a hilarious movie, watching Sadie's ghost manipulate people in truly funny scenes, but for me the book was a drudergy to read. It also contained way too much foul language for my taste. Many of the book club members liked it because it was what we call a "fluff" book - easy to read, funny, not too deep.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June Familyx12 Blog Hop

Welcome to the June edition of the Familyx12 Blog Hop. If you've arrived from Margie's blog, thanks for hopping by today. If you're a regular reader, I hope you'll enjoy my favorite family photo from the month of May. After 17 months, lots of studying, numerous tests, and pages and pages of writing, Robbie received his MBA on May 14th!

      

Thanks for joining us on this blog hop designed to help us capture a family photo each month of the year. Your next stop is Scrapping Thoughts to see Carol Anne's latest family photo.

Here's the complete list in case you get lost along the way:
Melissa http://www.melissagross.blogspot.com/
Carol Anne http://www.scrappingthoughts.com/
Ruth http://www.chattycraftyartypig.blogspot.com/
Jo http://www.mrsbeee.blogspot.com/
Sharis http://www.airbs.blogspot.com/
Patricia http://patoliveira.wordpress.com/
MonicaB http://questtoperfectimperfection.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 10, 2011

Healthy Living Weekly Post: Ten on the Tenth

Shimelle has decided to organize a fun blogging activity on the 10th of each month - Ten Things on the Tenth of the Month. Since the tenth falls on Friday this month (the day I set aside for my Healthy Living Weekly Post), I'll be sharing ten nuggets of wisdom from Maggie Greenwood-Robinson's 21 Days to Better Fitness. (See last week's post for additional tips from this book.)

21 Days to Better Fitness1. "Your chances of exercise success increase when you select activities based on enjoyment, lifestyle, and personality.

2. "If you're prone to emotional eating, clear the kitchen cabinets of binge food."

3. "Your personal commitment and conviction (to healthy living) can inspire others to follow your path."

4. "God designed your body to move. Move it, and you'll move closer to health and fitness."

5. "You can live up to 40 days without food, but you'll die within six days without water." Drink water every day!

6. "The family that gets fit together, stays fit."

7. Your reward for achieving an important marker in your fitness quest "should be a treat - something you don't often do for yourself."

8. "Appropriate rewards give you the power to push on."

9. My favorite is this example of how to deal with a slip in your fitness routine or healthy eating: "If you got a speeding ticket, you wouldn't quit driving. You'd pay the fine and try to obey the speed limit next time. Well, it's the same with healthy living."

10. The book is obviously designed to read one page a day and work on that component of healthy living. It ends with a list of strategies to continue after the 21 days:
*Stay active.
*Indulge yourself once in a while.
*A slip is not a slide.
*Maintain your reward system.
*Expect success.
*Get spiritually anchored.

This was a good book, nothing really new here from what I've been reading lately on healthy living. It's an older book that I've had in my library for several years, so I enjoyed the review and the daily reminder to focus on healthy living.

If you'd like to see more Ten Things on the Tenth of the Month posts, click here to visit Shimelle's blog (and find out how you can join in).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My EQ

One of the pre-class assignments in the Finding Photo Freedom workshop this year is to create an EQ - an Enough Quotient, a determination of what is enough for you to feel successful and satisfied with scrapbooking. Setting our own EQ allows us to take a good look at our current schedules and enables us to set realistic expectations for the wonderful hobby of scrapbooking and preserving memories. There was a worksheet provided so we could assess our current schedule and then a worksheet for filling in our EQ. 

I am one of those people who thrive on routines and organization, so it was easy to fill in the weekly schedule handout. I always do paperwork and pay bills on Monday mornings and do house cleaning on Wednesdays, etc. I included the time I spend blogging and on message boards and email, plus I designate Thursday afternoons for scrapbooking. (Very convenient since all the new BPC class materials come out on Thursday, right?)


Then I started working on my EQ – some of the items are activities that I’ve already been doing and have scheduled on my calendar (especially the monthly digital workflow items). However, this activity really got me thinking about what truly is ENOUGH for me. My original list was actually what I would like to accomplish each year rather than just the minimum that would make me happy. So, I now have two lists – my EQ and my Wish List. My Wish List includes all those other things I’d like to do if I have the time/money/inspiration, but they don’t necessarily have to be done for me to feel fulfilled in this great hobby. I am determined to make the effort and schedule time for the items on my EQ list, and anything extra from my Wish List is like icing on the cake!

My EQ:
WEEKLY
· upload & quick edits to digital photos
MONTHLY
· digital workflow (tag, rate, upload for printing)
· create digital monthly overview layout
· 2-3 traditional/hybrid layouts

THIS YEAR
· create digital year-in-review page
· create blog book from previous year’s blog posts

HOME
· display photos from past 6 months on digital frame
ONLINE
· blog 3+ times per week
· participate in 3-4 online class per year
· share completed layouts on blog and/or online galleries 


My Wish List:
WEEKLY
· 1-2 layouts
MONTHLY
· create cards for next month’s birthdays, anniversaries, etc
· try/learn a new technique (photo edits, art journaling)

THIS YEAR
· 2-3 mini-albums/projects (Dec. Daily, LSNED, etc)
· handmade Christmas gifts

HOME
· host one crop here
ONLINE
· read & comment on blogs, message boards, galleries
· listen to Paperclipping Roundtable & other inspirational podcasts/presentations


What do you think? Would an EQ be helpful and beneficial to you? Or would you rather simply set goals or just take it one day at a time?

(Don't forget: If you want to be in the draw for the Where Women Create: Inspiring Work Spaces of Extraordinary Women Pass the Book, click here for the details.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Where Women Create:Book of Inspiration

It's time to Pass the Book - the Where Women Create: Book of Inspiration to be exact. This book originated with Sian and arrived here in Texas about a month ago from Mel, who was inspired to create 34 crafty projects!

This book showcases the studios/craft spaces of 23 crafty women, from dollmakers to quilters to multi-media artists. Each women is featured with photos of her space and insights into how she stays inspired, what her favorite colors are, her tips for organization and exercises to fuel creativity, and her earliest memories of creativity. It was excellent reading and the photos were fabulous.

I wasn't inspired to create anything, rather I am inspired to share with you today photos of my craft space. I am fortunate to have an entire room for my office/craft room, and I've sent the past year or so getting everything just the way I like it. Of course, the walls are painted in yellow, my favorite color! The room is rectangular in shape - here's the view of the left wall looking in the door.


And here's the view looking to the right from the doorway.


Looking back toward the doorway, you can see my bulletin board filled with miscellaneous photos and memorabilia.

My wood stamps and ink pads are hiding behind the door.

 And the view of my craft table and color bins. Some of my favorite stuffed animals live on the top shelf, including the bear I've had since I was a little girl.


This sign hangs over the doorway. It was the sign my Grandma hung in her window when she took in sewing and alterations. Even though I don't sew, I think my craft room is the perfect place for this reminder of her.

I really enjoy having many of my favorite photos & things on display, sitting on top of the desk and file cabinets or hanging on the walls.

 And, of course, the room wouldn't be complete without some form of Mary Engelbreit art.


And my very own artwork - plagues that I made at Church Camp when I was seven or eight-years-old.


And this cute little gift that Brenda gave me for Christmas one year - I'm still trying to decide if she was complimenting me on my organizational skills or just simply calling me lazy!

I hope you've enjoyed your tour of my craft space. If you would like to be inspired by other craft spaces and be in the draw for the next recipient of the Where Women Create: Book of Inspiration, leave a comment telling me what type of craft space you have - is it a whole room, a table, a corner, or a shared space in your home.

If you're new to Pass the Book, you can check out all the details here. I'll draw a name at random from all comments left by the end of the day on Monday, June 13.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bowling for Grandmas

My first trip abroad – I was so excited because now I was going to be a world traveler. I was accompanying Robbie on a business trip and we were going to not one, not two, but three different countries! First stop was Moscow, Russia, then on to enjoy Gardone Riviera in Italy, and finally a few days in London, England. (Here's the intro page I created for my scrapbook.)

After a ten hour flight from Dallas to London, we landed at Gatwick Airport. We stood in line for almost two hours to get through customs. Then we had an hour long bus drive to London Heathrow Airport. I get a little carsick sometimes, but riding on a bus on the “wrong” side of the road and looking down at the car next to us with no driver in the “driver’s” seat was like getting car sick in the Twilight Zone. Not to mention that there are no stop signs, just those round abouts everywhere! It was so bad that I pulled a plastic bag out of my laptop case just in case . . . that really made Robbie nervous.  Luckily, we arrived at our destination without me having to use the bag! We retrieved our luggage and headed into the airport.

We couldn’t find the elevator at London Heathrow Airport and decided to take the escalator down to the concourse. We had done this before and of course now I was a world traveler. We were both pulling two suitcases on wheels with a laptop bag on top of one. I pushed my smaller suitcase onto the escalator, stepped onto the next step, and turned to pull the big suitcase onto the step behind me . . . while at the same time letting go of my smaller suitcase. I turned around just in time to see it tumbling down the escalator toward an elderly lady (the only other person on the escalator).

I yelled out “Ma’am, Ma’am” and she turned around in time to stop the suitcase and rode off the bottom of the escalator backwards, falling down hard, legs in the air, arms flaying about! (Now I wasn’t feeling so good about being a world traveler, it was more like a country-comes-to-the-city show.) I couldn’t get down the escalator to help her as I was still holding on to the big suitcase – the escalator seemed to be going in slow motion and I just kept saying "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry" in my nice Texas accent.

She was up and said she was OK by the time we arrived at the bottom. I apologized several times and gave her a hug. She was very gracious about the incident. I felt absolutely terrible and was practically in tears as we started pulling our luggage down the hallway to our terminal. (I wonder if God was trying to teach me a little humility here since I was a little arrogant about being a world traveler.) 

Robbie however was able to see the humor in the incident. He said, “Wow, a strike on your first try! It’s a new game – bowling for Grandmas.” Well, I guess it would have been a Grandmum, right? (God does have a sense of humor after all.)

This post was inspired by Sian's Storytelling Sunday, a fun monthly event where bloggers around the world share a tale or two.

Healthy Living Weekly Post (Better Late Than Never)

 As promised in last week's post, here are a few tips from  21 Days to Better Fitness by Maggie Greenwood-Robinson, the book I'm currently reading as part of my initiative to continually remind and inform myself about healthy lifestyle topics.

Two simple nutrition guidelines:
1. Go For the Pure, Not the Processed
2. Stick to the Lean, Not to the Lard

"If you could bottle the benefits of exercise - which boosts your energy, makes you lose weight, bolsters your immune system, lifts depression, protects you from heart attacks, and even stretches your active years - it would be the most prescribed medication in the world."

"Exercise trains not only the body but also the mind."

"Inner conversations can have a powerful impact on motivation and well-being."

"Reading articles and books on nutrition and exercise is an excellent inducement because it increases your knowledge of fitness and helps you maintain motivation." Now, haven't I been saying that same thing all along! :>)

I'll be finishing up the book this week and will share more nuggets of wisdom from it in next week's post. Hope y'all are having a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May Review - June Preview

Wow, it certainly seems like the month of May flew by and here we are in June already. I only had a few cards to create for June which I finished very early in May, but waited to share them until today so the birthday girls will have already received them. These cards were inspired by a link to inspiration on the Studio Calico blog provided by May Flaum in the May with May workshop.


May Review
*11 layouts - 1 was digital, 1 was 8 1/2x11, the rest were 12x12
*1 mini-album - Dawn's 50th Surprise Party 6x6 album
*3 cards
*2 art journal pages

I participated in BPC's Creative Crop on National Scrapbook Day and tried my hand at a couple of Shimelle's Scrapbooking Day challenges as well. I completed Shimelle's Beyond Blogging for Scrapbookers class, the BPC May with May workshop, and Kim Klassen's Photoshop Skinny Mini eCourse. I also enjoyed participating in the Familyx12 Blog Hop and the Lighten Up Blog Hop.

June Preview
*create cards for July
*create yellow layouts to play along with Brenda's quilting
*coach in the Finding Photo Freedom workshop

That certainly seems like a short list for June, however it will be a very full month as my nieces have their summer visits scheduled and have already sent me the lists of things they want to do while visiting Aunt Melissa & Uncle Robbie. (bike riding, ice skating, playing games, baking cupcakes & cookies, going to the library, reading, playing at the park, etc) I totally love these visits and afterwards I have lots of new photos to scrap!

What are your plans for June? Anyone else have family visits planned for the summer?