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.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Start Fresh

Earlier this month, I participated in the Simple Scrapper Start Fresh planning event. The five-day online event was designed by Jennifer Wilson to help us "create a meaningful 2015 plan and launch into a joyful year of memory keeping." For me, memory keeping and scrapbooking are always FUN, so my main interest in the class was to get organized and create a plan to review the online classes I've purchased the past few years (especially those at Big Picture Classes that are not transferring to the new site) and complete several ongoing projects along with a couple of new projects on my wish list!

I have to admit that I am not planning to sign up for many classes this year because I want to focus on these other goals and because I've signed up for classes in the past that I did not participate in or complete. I set aside time during the Start Fresh event so that I could participate each day by reading the handout, listening to the audio, filling out the workbook and planner pages, and interacting in the private event Facebook group. After a week or so of pondering the ideas presented, I reviewed all the materials again and refined my plans for the year.
http://www.simplescrapper.com/fresh/

First, here are my thoughts on the event itself.
*The five-day event was very well structured and organized, which of course fit right in with my born-organized self! It was well-paced and easy to follow along each day.
*The 79-page workbook/planner is a great tool for reviewing and assessing past memory keeping accomplishments and challenges and creating a prioritized plan for the coming year.
*I am not a fan of Facebook groups for class interaction, however Jennifer included the event logo on the official discussion posts so they were easy to locate. This made is easy to read other participant's responses and add my comments.
*The event included daily prompts to gather journaling, materials, and a photo for a layout about scrapbooking, however I chose not to work on a layout as I've got a series of layouts about my scrapbooking journey planned for this year. I did, however, use Jennifer's prompts to add to my notes for that series.
*I also received two months of Simple Scrapper Premium Membership with this event, and I have enjoyed reading, watching, and downloading materials from the membership area. There's a large selection of digital page templates and sketches that I was excited to download. (I was disappointed to learn that the site is set up to only allow 10 downloads a day. I had planned to download the materials while watching a football game, but ended up having to work on this project over the course of quite a few days.)
 *I think this event (& the two month's free membership) was a good value at only $19 and was definitely worth the time I invested in it!



Working through the introspective part of the workbook, I realized there are several things working well for me that I will carry forward into 2015:
1. Creating a list of layouts needed to complete large projects like my chronological and theme albums. I've started the year by making a list of layouts needed to complete my 2011 chronological albums.
2. Scraplifting and using other layout design INSPIRATION helps me complete layouts.At this point, I don't really need INSPIRATION designed to help me tell stories as I have an extremely long list of stories I want to scrap!
3. Creating layouts as INSPIRATION strikes rather than in chronological order. (Even though I'm focusing on completing our 2011 albums, I've created four layouts for our 2014 album, one layout for our 2012 album, one layout for my childhood album, and two connections layouts for my category albums this month!)


I also recognized some things that have not been working well for me:
1. While I am using lots of paper and products on my pages, I am rarely pulling my color bins out when I scrap. These bins have worked great for me in the past, but it's time to re-organize and sort these bins in a way that provides renewed INSPIRATION.
2. My digital workflow has become a chore that I'm not keeping up with. I decided to modify and simply the process for this year, omitting tagging photos (as I rarely use those tags) and creating a few digital layouts along the way (decreasing the number of photos going into my storage binders).

After completing the workbook, I have a list of projects I want to work on/complete this year, prioritized by importance as well as my excitement and enthusiasm for the project. My first projects for the year are completing the 2011 chronological albums (I've already made 10 layouts toward this goal!) and completing my 2014 digital workflow (I have less than two months of photos to work through!). I'm so glad I participated in the Start Fresh event and am looking forward to lots of creative accomplishments this year!

Did you participate in the Start Fresh event? What are your creative plans for 2015? (If you missed the event, it is now available as a do-it-yourself e-course here.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The ABCs of My Life

A couple of years ago, I made a video for Storytime in the (no-longer-available) Library of Memories Community at Big Picture Classes. This video shares one of my favorite scrapbooking projects. Enjoy!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Making Progress On My 2014 Digital Workflow

Along with working on completing our 2011 chronological albums, this month I've also been striving to catch up with processing photos from last year. As I mentioned a couple of months ago, I'm creating some digital layouts along the way. This two page layout allowed me to showcase eleven photos from our day in Edmonton this past summer.

Journaling reads: After breakfast, we enjoyed a walk across the High Level Bridge, taking lots of photos along the way. It started misting, then sprinkling on our way back, but we made it to the car without getting too damp.

I also created two layouts showcasing photos from our trip to Ohio in the fall.

Journaling reads: When Tommy & Kathy suggested we go to the corn maze, we had no idea what to expect. They had not been there either but knew about it because Thomas's class had gone several years ago. We were all thrilled to find lots of activities along with the actual corn mazes. It was a gorgeous sunshiny day & we all wished we'd gone earlier in the day to have more time to enjoy it all! There were also wonderful displays with pumpkins and scarecrows scattered throughout the area.


I've also ordered lots of photos that I'll add to my storage binders to be scrapped when the INSPIRATION strikes. I'm currently up to mid-November in my digital workflow, so I'll be working through the photos from our Florida trip next. Have you processed and/or printed your 2014 photos?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pun'kin's Cooking

This year I am planning to complete several scrapbooking albums that have been in progress for a while now. The first of these projects is my 2011 chronological albums. I've sorted and organized all my completed layouts for 2011, flipped through the remaining photos and memorabilia from that year, and made a list of stories and photos I want to scrap to complete those albums. It's quite a list, so I imagine I'll be working on this goal for a couple of months.

One of the things I love most about scrapbooking is preserving memories so that we can enjoy looking back on them, so I'm excited to remember and record stories from several years ago. I started by recording two stories about Pun'kin's Natashia's cooking during her summer visit that year.
Journaling reads: Pun'kin had planned on her list of things-to-do to cook supper for us during her visit. She did a great job and had fun doing it!

Journaling reads: It all started out so well: Pun'kin and I were trying out the new giant cupcake baking dishes. We layered the pieces together with mousse, and Pun'kin started putting the icing on . . . and it kinda all fell apart!

Have you scrapped any cooking stories/photos lately? Or shared a cooking "disaster" story?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Authentique's Faith Collection

If you've been around my blog for a while, you know that my faith in the Lord is a huge part of who I am. I enjoy scrapping about my faith and the activities and ministries I'm involved in as I serve the Lord, so I was excited to use Authentique's new Faith collection to create a layout for the Scrappin' Goodtime Design Team.


Click HERE to see the full layout and read more about this great collection on the Scrappin' Goodtime blog.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bag Lady

I am a bag lady! I like bags - canvas bags, cloth totes, small bags, large bags, totes with quotes, colorful totes, duffel bags, satchels, bags with zippers, drawstring bags, book totes . . . well, you get the idea.

To aid in my goal of deep cleaning/decluttering/organizing/ redecorating each room/space in our home this year, I'll be focusing on accomplishing small tasks each week. I decided to begin by decluttering and re-organizing my collection of bags and totes. I store most of these in our guest room closet, however they were beginning to take up quite a bit of space and weren't really convenient to grab quickly at times.


I decided to gather all my bags & totes in one place so I could decide which ones to keep and which ones to donate. (I did not include purses, backpacks, briefcases or computer bags in this project.) Here's a tally of what I found:
22 - guest room closet
6 - stored in bins on the Launch Pad shelves
3 - master bedroom closet
9 - garage
5 - Suburban
3 - Robbie's car


I know we do not need 45 bags and totes, so I started by sorting these by size and type and ended up with six in the donation pile. Yep, only six . . . did I mention that I really like bags (sigh)!

However, I re-evaluated each bag and how it would be used and finally ended up with 13 bags for the donation pile. I placed the remaining bags in locations where they would be most convenient based on how I'm most likely to use them: 6 larger bags in the guest room closet to be used for travel or weekend getaways, 5 cute bags in the craft room closet to be pulled out when I'm corralling supplies for a crop or inspiration outing, 7 bags in a bin on the launch pad to be grabbed when I'm headed out the door, 10 in the Suburban and 4 in Robbie's car ready to be filled with groceries at any time. One small project completed . . . a whole bunch more to go!

Do you like bags and totes? Where/how do you store them?

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Problem With Page Kits

These first two months of the year, I'll be attending several out-of-town crops. My plan is to put together page kits to work on at these crops so that I can be productive but also enjoy time visiting with friends.

I started by scrolling through some old class materials and printing sample layouts that I want to scraplift or use as a starting point. I then chose a photo (or set of photos) to go with the INSPIRATION and pulled a few papers from my stash to begin a page kit.


Next I add in some coordinating papers from my scrap file and some borders, ribbon or washi tape.


And finally I choose some alphas and a variety of embellishments to complete the kit.


The next step is to slide all these pieces into a page protector. I'm collecting my page kits in an extra 12x12 scrapbook album so they will be easy to transport to the crop.

However, I've discovered a problem with this system! As I'm putting these page kits together, looking at the INSPIRATION pieces, pulling photos, choosing supplies, visualizing my layout . . . I want to scrapbook it NOW! I have everything together and I'm inspired to create. So, after creating ten page kits, I acted on that INSPIRATION and created a layout with the eleventh kit.


Whew - Now I'm feeling much better and think I can put together a few more kits!

Do you create page kits? Is it hard for you to save all those pages to scrap later?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Making My Word Visible


As I'm pondering and planning my year of INSPIRATION, I'm making my word visible in several places. Like last year, I used letters to spell out the word on our fridge. I also included it on the inside of my calendar/planner.


I added it to the title page in my INSPIRATION notebook.


At Crafty Tuesday earlier this week, several of us created vision boards.


I enjoyed having my FUN vision board in my FUN album last year, so I chose a similar format for this year. I used an 8 1/2 x 11 page protector that has a 3x11 flap on one side.  Here's how it looks in the album with the flap closed.


And with the flap open.

For the back side of the page protector, I included a quote page from an old calendar.


I'm currently working through and enjoying the INSPIRATION in the Simple Scrapper Start Fresh planning event as well as reviewing the first few prompts from last year's One Little Word class and will be sharing plans for my year of INSPIRATION in a future post.

How have you made your word visible this year?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Scrapping Christmas Surprises

After finally recording some of my childhood Christmas memories in a blog post last month, I knew I wanted to create a layout using those words and photos. I found the perfect INSPIRATION when Jennifer Wilson posted the Jumpstart 2.1 Challenge as part of the January Simple Scrapper membership materials. These challenges pair a story starter and a sketch. The story starter was journaling about a day that was magical, and my Christmas Surprises stories came to mind because, of course, Christmas is a magical time. I used the sketch as a starting point for this 12x12 layout.


I'm excited that my word for this year led me to take this INSPIRATION and act on it right away! Have you created any layouts in 2015 yet?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Healthy Living Update & 2015 Goals

Remember my post about working out with a personal trainer? That was back in July and I was making good progress on my healthy living and weight goals for 2014. As we begin a new year, I wanted to share an update on my progress and my plans for 2015.

At the mid-point of last year, I had lost almost 17 pounds and was feeling healthy and strong. I had set a weight goal of being down to 150 pounds by July 18, however I did not reach that goal. I was at 157 pounds when we headed off for our unexpected trip to Ohio. A day after we returned, we flew to Canada for my birthday trip. Along with getting healthy and regaining my energy, I wanted to be in shape to hike during that trip . . . and we did! I felt great about getting in shape enough to complete several hikes, including two to the top of mountains.

The remainder of 2014, I did not lose any more weight. I basically lost and gained the same few pounds and am starting this year off at 158 pounds. Did you catch the three GREAT pieces of news in all that information?

1. I lost 16 pounds last year!

2. After losing it, I kept it off for the remainder of the year (over 5 months)!

3. I am much stronger and healthier than I was at the beginning of 2014! 

I've spent some time thinking about what happened and why I wasn't able to continue to lose weight during the second half of the year. I think it was a combination of several factors. First, I've read that after an initial weight loss, our bodies adjust and the weight comes off slower. Second, I did not have a definite goal in mind. While I still wanted to reach 150 pounds, I didn't have the added incentive of wanting to hike up a mountain to keep me motivated. Third, as I got healthier and my metabolism changed, my thyroid medication needed to be adjusted a couple of times before it leveled off. This along with the long hours Robbie was working after the company he works for was acquired caused me to feel a little discouraged and stressed. Fourth, I did not track my eating during those final months of the year.

And finally, while I continued to work out fairly regularly, I didn't try anything new and met with the personal trainer only about half the amount of time I had at the beginning of the year. Fortunately for me, Sherri was very understanding and encouraging despite the number of times I texted her the night before to cancel an appointment! (She even gave me this great Christmas gift - isn't it perfect that the body wash and lotion are called ENERGY! Thanks Sherri!)


With these thoughts in mind, I've set a new goal and made plans to accomplish it. I'm sharing these here today to keep myself accountable!

Goal - Lose down to 150 pounds by March 20!

Motivation - I chose this date because it is the first day of spring and the day we begin our first vacation of the year!

Plan for the next 11 weeks:
*Track all my eating, drinking & exercise using the My Fitness Pal app.
*Meet with Sherri (my personal trainer extraordinaire) once (or sometimes twice) a week.
*Ride the stationary bike (45 minutes) and complete ab & back exercises (15 minutes) three or four times a week at home.
*Attend exercise classes at our local natatorium at least three times a month to add variety and try something new.
*Weigh in once a week.

I know lots of people start the new year with resolutions to lose weight, but I decided not to wait. I actually started my plan last Monday and have successfully tracked everything in My Fitness Pal this week, had a great workout with Sherri, and completed three days of exercise here at home. And this morning (despite the fact that it is very cold, terribly gray, somewhat foggy and raining!), I got out and tried a low-impact water aerobics class at the natatorium. I'm excited to be back on track and looking forward to being in even better shape when our nephews (& their parents) arrive to join us for our vacation in March. Once we return from that, I'll re-evaluate and set a new goal, which will likely revolve around our vacation at the end of May.

Did you have any healthy living goals for 2014? How did you do? What are your plans for 2015?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Year of INSPIRATION

Welcome to 2015 and my year of
INSPIRATION!

I had so much FUN with my word last year that I had a difficult time choosing a word for this year. As Beverly so eloquently stated in a recent comment, "FUN is going to be a tough act to follow." Over the past month, I pondered several possible words, but the one that keeps coming up time and again and the ultimate winner is INSPIRATION!

I don't have my year of INSPIRATION completely thought out yet, so I'll be using the month of January to ponder and study my word and set some goals and objectives for the year. My first thoughts are about finding, acting on and (in some cases) limiting INSPIRATION. I want this word to motivate me not only in my scrapbooking and crafting but also in my physical, spiritual and intellectual goals.

I enjoyed having a notebook and the prompts in Ali Edward's One Little Word class to guide me during my FUN year. I will not be taking the class again this year, however I will be using some of the prompts and ideas from the class and have chosen a notebook from my stash to use. As you can see, it's very similar to the one I used last year.


I'm not planning to do a monthly photo collage, but I think I want to have a page for each month where I can document my journey with INSPIRATION. I pulled some papers and washi tape from my stash and will decide on a format and set up my notebook this month.


For the month of January, I'll be exploring and acting on INSPIRATION in several ways:

1. Vision Board - Several ladies in the Crafty Tuesday bunch choose words each year, and Ellyn suggested that we create vision boards during our first meeting of the year next week.

2. Start Fresh - I've signed up for the Simple Scrapper Start Fresh planning event, which came with two months of Simple Scrapper membership. I'm looking forward to this five day event designed to help us "create a meaningful 2015 plan and launch into a joyful year of memory keeping."

3.  Amy's Annual Scrap (and Art) Retreat - my friend Amy from Austin hosts a five-day crop at her home each January. I'll be attending for the first two days and have already started putting page kits together so that I can be productive in the midst of enjoying visiting with Amy and meeting new friends.

4. Valentine's Day Card Class - I'll be teaching two sessions of this class at Scrappin' Goodtime the last week of January. We'll be using papers from Authentique's Crush collection, the Sizzix Hearts with Layering Shapes die, and Doodlebug paper doilies to create five Valentine's Day cards.


5. Truth Scrap - I've signed up for the Truth Scrap event hosted by Lain Ehmann and am looking forward to INSPIRATION on "celebrating the intersection of faith and art." My friend Thayer is also signed up and will be joining me on the 31st so we can watch the live video sessions and craft together throughout the day.

6. Inspiration Sandwich - Throughout the year, I'm planning to read books on INSPIRATION, so I've chosen a book from our collection to start the year.

I'm excited to begin this year of INSPIRATION! Have you chosen a word for 2015?

Happy New Year Y'all!
Here's to a year filled with
 INSPIRATION!