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, November 30, 2011

Personalized Book for a Rising Star

Earlier this month, I was able to personally deliver Natashia's birthday gift to her. The idea came from one of the project ideas in the BPC Giving Well workshop - personalize a book by adding a monogram & tabs for the recipient.

I chose the book Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time to personalize for Natashia because she has performed in numerous plays and musicals over the past five years. In fact, she has performed in local productions of four of the musicals listed in the book.

I started by adding a star monogram to the front of the book using cardstock & patterned papers.


I added a letter to her inside the front cover.


I marked the musicals she had performed in with tabs. Each tab included the date of her local performance and the initials of the company that put on the production.


I included an envelope with more tabs inside the back cover of the book so she can add tabs as she continues performing in productions. The book can also serve as a resource for her to look up information on shows that she's considering auditioning for, giving her an overview of the musical as well as some historical facts about its run on Broadway.

Isn't she a beautiful young lady! During my visit I enjoyed spending time with her and seeing her perform in a local production of the play A Candle in the Window. Who knows, maybe someday I'll see her performing on Broadway!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Crafting Day & Pass the Book Recipient

Today was one of those days with only a few things on my must-do list, so I finished those off quickly and declared this a crafting day. I started out by unboxing the new Bind-It-All Robbie bought for me last week and then watching the Instruction Guide videos.

While I was watching the videos, I also glued on this little reindeer's antler, which didn't survive the year cooped up in a box in the attic.

Then I set to work on a project involving these pages and papers.

I'm very excited about the progress I made on this project today (I even got to use my Bind-It-All!) and will be sharing more about it next week.

I also completed one more Christmas gift - a set of six of these ribbon napkin holders.

I think these napkin holders would look great on red napkins, however I purchased white and off-white napkins to use as gifts. I'm undecided which I like best with these holders and will probably wait until Robbie gets home and weighs in with his opinion before I wrap this gift and add it to the pile of wrapped gifts that have been accumulating the last week or so. Which do you like best?
And now it's time to pass this month's book.


In response to the question of whether or not you include stories about your faith in your scrapbooks, Kirsty commented:

Apart from the odd mention in a Christmas LO, I haven't done so. I'd love to be in the draw to have a look at this book

Congratulations Kirsty - you will be the first recipient of this month's Pass the Book:Year Two inspiring book by Courtney Walsh. Please email me [robbieandmelissa (at) sbcglobal (dot) net]with your mailing address and I'll get the book headed your way.

Remember, these books will be passed from blogger to blogger for one year, so be sure to check in with the bloggers who currently have books for your chance to receive one next. You can find a complete list of the books that are currently out here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bathroom Renovation Complete

This past summer the shower in our master bathroom developed a leak, and since we were going to need some repairs, we decided it was time to finally get rid of the black tile that covered the floor and shower. I did not like the tile when we bought our home over four years ago, however we had not yet had an opportunity (or reason) to make that renovation. The shower leak provided a reason and we decided it was the perfect opportunity.

Overall, the bathroom has a nice design - two sinks, a jetted tub, glassed in shower, separated toilet area, and room to move around. Here's how it looked before we started the renovation.



The shower job turned out to be quite extensive - the contractors had to take it down to the studs and completely rebuild the walls and shower floor, which involved a couple of layers of new concrete! Here's how it looked during the renovation.





Although the contractors only took three weeks to complete their part of the job (removing all the old tile & shower, rebuilding the shower, and re-tiling the shower & floor), the clean-up and detail work added another several weeks to the job.

First, we had to order the glass shower enclosure, which required two visits from another contractor - one visit to take the measurements and another visit about a week and a half later to install the enclosure.

Second, we had to clean everything because of the dust disaster. While we had everything out of the bathroom, Robbie and I also cleaned out the P Traps under both sinks (my sink was starting to drain a little too slow).

Third, we decided to have the walls, cabinets and trim re-painted because I wasn't satisfied with how they looked even after cleaning everything several times. Since I also had everything out of the master closet, we had the closet painted as well.

Fourth, we purchased a new toilet, which Robbie installed along with a new water line leading to it.

Fifth, we added solar tinting to the window because that side of the house gets full sun all year. We installed that one Saturday, then hung a new mini-blind and re-hung the cute curtain that my sister made for me a couple of years ago.

And finally, we put everything back in place, adding a new clock and baskets to hold washcloths & hand towels. Here's how it looks now.



I smile every time I walk in and see the new tile. I especially like the small tiles we chose for the shower floor & accent strip. The total renovation took about two a half months, however there were only about three weeks of that when we weren't able to use that bathroom at all. It was a little longer before we could use the shower simply because we had to wait on the enclosure. It was definitely worth the inconvenience to get rid of that black tile (and have the shower completely repaired re-built correctly).

Have you had any renovations done lately? Was the inconvenience worth it when it was all complete?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Season of Giving & Upcoming Giveaways

I love the Christmas season: all the fun events and get-togethers with family and friends, all the cooking and baking, all the holiday movies, all the traditions and customs. I especially love the reminder that the greatest gift of all (Jesus Christ) was given to us on the first Christmas. Because of this gift and God's blessings in our lives, we truly enjoy this Season of Giving - making, buying, wrapping and giving gifts . . .

. . . and this year I'm extending that attitude of giving to my blog. I have a giveaway planned for each of the next three Sundays - some unique scrapping supplies, a personalized gift, and something to get you thinking about the stories you haven't yet recorded on a layout. I'll post the giveaway on Sunday and draw a random winner the following Wednesday. And as always, there will be a new book to pass sometime around the middle of the month.

For now, there's still time to get in the draw for November's Pass the Book. Click here to leave a comment to be the next recipient of Courtney Walsh's Scrapbooking Your Faith.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

This gaggle of turkeys is here to say
HAPPY THANKSGIVING Y'ALL!

These little gobblers are so much fun to make. I put this batch together (with help from Robbie) for our church's Thanksgiving Dinner this past weekend. They were a tremendous hit - not a single one left over!

I can't remember where I first found this recipe, many years ago. I obviously cut the original recipe from a magazine, and a couple of years ago I scrapped it onto this 6x6 card that now resides in my Dessert Recipes album.

We'll be enjoying roasted turkey, cornbread dressing, praline sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, deviled eggs, green beans, biscuits, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie today . . . watching the Dallas Cowboys football game . . . and anticipating decorating our home for Christmas this weekend while avoiding the stores and crowds. Are you enjoying a Thanksgiving meal today? What are your plans for the weekend?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November Pass the Book - Scrapbooking Your Faith


Scrapbooking Your Faith: Layouts That Celebrate Your Spiritual Beliefsby Courtney Walsh is filled with layouts created specifically to tell the stories of the scrapper's faith and beliefs. These layouts share about beliefs, prayers, meditations, traditions, symbols, blessings, lessons of faith, and inspirational people. The layouts were created by the author and a team of contributors and include paper, digital and hybrid layouts. There are 90+ layouts, so whether you are looking for ideas on scrapping your faith or simply looking for great layouts for inspiration and scraplifting, this book is definitely worth checking out.

This year I began scrapping more about my faith and how it influences my life and decisions. I created layouts about the Power of Healing Prayer, reading the Bible through in a year, and helping support a young missionary. These layouts help tell the complete story of my life and who I am.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it has inspired me to add several items to my Layout Ideas list - some of these are stories (or testimonies) that I've recounted numerous times but never written down or added to my albums:
*What I Believe
*Our Tithing Testimony
*I Learned to Give When Miss Linnie Bought Me a Refrigerator
*They Have to Look for the Kidney Stone Because I Prayed They Wouldn't Find It
*The Churches I've Called Home
*Pun'kin Said "If you read out loud, I can hear it, too."

I'll be sharing this book on as part of Pass the Book:Year Two (find all the details here). To be included in the draw to be the first recipient of this book, please leave a comment telling me whether or not you include stories about your faith in your scrapbooks. I'll pick a winner at the beginning of next week.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Want To See What I'm Working On?

Well . . . I really can't show you . . . because Christmas is coming up . . . soon! This week I have officially switched to holiday mode. It all started on Tuesday when I spent the day shopping for gifts and supplies to make gifts. However, it really hit me Wednesday when I pulled out all these items . . .

. . . to make the first two batches of Magic Cookie Bars - always a sure sign that the holidays have arrived.

And then I spent a little time wrapping gifts . . . birthday gifts, that is . . . since we will be celebrating Robbie's birthday this weekend.

Somehow wrapping gifts always puts me in a festive mode. So, I'm excited that I'll be using these supplies later today . . .

. . . as I assemble and wrap some gifts that start with this.


In fact, I've already enjoyed some Christmas crafting this morning using all these tools.

Later today, I'll be in the kitchen prepping my sweet potato casserole that we'll enjoy at our church's Thanksgiving Dinner this Sunday . . . and, of course, baking a birthday cake.

I'm having so much fun! What are you working on this weekend? Are you in holiday mode yet?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Template Tuesday Challenge

The last couple of weeks have been busy around here with no time for scrapping. As I was processing my digital photos a few days ago, I decided to create a quick digital layout with a template provided by Cheryl as part of her new Template Tuesday challenge. Cheryl provided a free template and a sample layout as inspiration. Here's my layout with a few photos from the recent ladies' retreat at our church.

(Background paper from Brenda Wilson, other papers from Jessica Sprague.)

I'm hoping to work on some handmade Christmas gifts this week and maybe even squeeze in a layout or two. What are you working on this week?

Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-11


I am joining in today with Beverly of BE glorious who had the wonderful idea to prepare an 11-11-11 post with:
*your favorite ELEVEN personal photos (so photos taken by you or with you in them) taken in 2011
*a list of ELEVEN things you want to (need to, have to) accomplish btw now and the end of the year
*ELEVEN things you've read/seen/experienced in 2011.

I'm adapting Beverly's idea slightly as I focus on food & recipes. Robbie and I both enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, and I thought this would be a fun review of the foods we experienced and still want to try in 2011.

First, ELEVEN of my favorite food photos taken in 2011. These are all photos of foods that Robbie and I made at some point during the year.


Second, a list of ELEVEN new recipes we want to try before now and the end of the year. I have a file folder in the kitchen where we collect recipes that we want to try; some are pulled from magazines or the newspaper, others are printed from blogs or other online sites, and some are recipes from friends. We both went through the collection in the file yesterday and chose these eleven to try before the end of the year.

1. Pumpkin Pecan Bread
2. Garden Three-Bean Salad with Fresh French Dressing
3. Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
4. Grits-and-Greens Breakfast Bake
5. Taco Rice
6. Edmund's Up North Roasted Potatoes
7. Pea Salad
8. Mini Crab Cakes with Garlic-Chive Sauce
9. Grilled Maple Chipotle Pork Chops
10. Spicy Steak and Black Bean Chili
11. Fresh Herb Spoon Rolls

Last, here are ELEVEN foods that we have enjoyed while dining out this year.


Click here to see more 11-11-11 posts and join in the fun!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ten on the Tenth - Favorite Signs From A Recent Trip

Last week I took a road trip to visit my sister, brother-in-law and nieces for a few days. Then Robbie joined me and we enjoyed a weekend get-away. Today I'm sharing ten of my favorite signs from that trip.

First, I enjoyed having lunch with the twins at their school during my visit, and they wanted me to take a photo of them with the first grade sign in the school cafeteria.

This next sign is on Natashia's T-shirt and advertises the play (A Candle in the Window) she performed in while I was there.

Brenda and I enjoyed a day of shopping during my visit, stopping first at the important stores like Hobby Lobby and JoAnn's. We grabbed a roast beef sandwich at the Arby's in the mall food court, and this sign appeared as my sandwich disappeared.

Robbie and I spent Sunday afternoon watching the Houston Texans versus the Cleveland Browns game here.

We were pleasantly surprised to get to see another former US president as President George H. W. Bush was on hand for the opening coin toss. There were so many photographers and cameramen on the field that it was hard to get a clear shot, but I did capture this photo of the former president on the end zone screen. (This was a real treat as we did not know ahead of time who would be tossing the coin. Some of you may remember that we also saw former President George W. Bush earlier this year.)

That evening we visited the Kemah Boardwalk and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Landry's Seafood Restaurant.

This next sign was posted near our outdoor waterfront table.

The next day we made a stop at the Johnson Space Center.

We enjoyed touring the space center, seeing a mission control room, the astronaut training modules and the Saturn V.

As we were leaving and heading home, this sign summed up our trip - we had a blast.

I hope you enjoyed these ten signs from my trip. I have to leave you with one bonus sign that made me laugh out loud. As we were ascending a flight of stairs to the mission control room, the door at the top of the stairs was propped open . . . despite this prominently displayed sign.


This post is brought to you as part of Shimelle's Ten Things - click here to see more Ten on the Tenth posts.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Pass the Book Winner - Tantalizing Textures


I've drawn a new recipient for October's Pass the Book:Year Two - Tantalizing Textures will soon be on its way to

who commented...

I love the look of this book Melissa - what a wonderful choice! I would love to be included in the draw this time round, thank you. Those mini brads are so effective on your gorgeously vibrant page - a very neat trick.


Sian, I have your address and will get this book on its way to you!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Storytelling Sunday - Blond Hair

Before Kindergarten, I thought I was ugly and different because everyone else in my family had brown hair - and I was blond! But then I met Mrs. Lyle, and she was blond and beautiful. I knew I would grow up to be beautiful, just like her.


When I took apart my old acidic scrapbook a couple of years ago, I pulled out all my school photos and memorabilia and created a new K-12 scrapbook for myself. One of my goals was to record the stories that have been told again and again in my family but never recorded. This story about my hair is one of my favorites, and I'll always be thankful that Mrs. Lyle had blond hair so I wouldn't grow up thinking I was ugly.

We moved to another city before I started 1st grade and then later to another state. In the summer of 2010, my daddy was attending his high school reunion when he ran into Mrs. Lyle (that's not her name anymore, but she'll always be Mrs. Lyle to me). He called me so I could talk to her, and after all these years, I was able to share with her the influence she had on my self-esteem at such a young age. I've heard and told this story so many times and never realized that she had never heard it!

This post is part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday. Click here to read more stories.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November Familyx12 Blog Hop

It seems like the month of October flew by and here we are just weeks away from Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season. My family photo for October is the one of the two of us at one of the Texas Rangers playoff games. It was a fun evening spent with friends, watching the Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays on October 1st.


We spent many evenings throughout October watching the Rangers continue through the playoffs and were disappointed to see them lose in Game 7 of the World Series.

Two more months to go and I will have captured a family photo each month this year! My plan is to use all 12 photos on a digital layout at the end of the year.

I'm so glad Margie has organized this blog hop each month to help keep us motivated to take at least one family photo every month. Be sure to check out her blog for a list of all this month's participants.