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, April 30, 2010
The book was written from several different perspectives. Some chapters were articles from the local newsletter of Whistle Stop, the small town where the Cafe is located. These chapters were all based during the depression. Other chapters from that time listed the location in the chapter title based on where the events were happening: Whistle Stop, Birmingham, Chicago. This story alternated with a story based in the 1980s where a middle-aged woman, Evelyn Couch, visits with an elderly woman each week. These chapters mainly consist of the elderly woman, Ninny Threadgoode, telling stories about Whistle Stop and the depression era. I enjoyed this style of writing because it allowed me to see the story from different viewpoints. The story based during the time of the depression centered on two women, Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison. While I enjoyed the story, I was extremely disappointed that theirs was a homosexual relationship. The story deals with a variety of other issues including southern life, racial discrimination, poverty, domestic abuse, murder, the KKK, friendship, loyalty, and love. The book is well paced and keeps the reader wondering what will happen next.
The movie, of course, didn't have nearly the detail that the book contained. However, I was pleased that the movie downplayed the homosexual part of Idgie and Ruth's relationship and portrayed it as more of a very strong friendship as was the bond that developed between Ninny and Evelyn. Several scenes eluded to the relationship being more, but I was relieved to see that there were no openly homosexual scenes.
I have to admit that I enjoyed the movie more than the book. (I said this to my little sister last night and she commented that it was the first time she had ever heard me say that the movie was better than the book!) Actually the book was better in the sense that there was more story, more characterization and more details, but the movie seemed more wholesome. I realize this is not a popular thing to say in our culture of openness and tolerance, but this is MY review of the book and movie after all.
There were several great scenes in the book that I thought the movie depicted wonderfully. My favorite is when Evelyn Couch is in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot. She has been waiting for a parking space for a while when two young girls zip into the space ahead of her. She complains as they get out of the car and they smirk, "Face it lady, we are younger and faster than you." Evelyn gets mad so she backs up and then rams their car - six times. When they come screaming out of the store, she calmly says, "Face it girls, I'm older and have more insurance." Hilarious scene.
BTW - I have never had green tomatoes, fried or otherwise.
Write a vacation memory. It can be from a trip you took last week or one you took seventeen years ago; the time of the experience doesn't matter. Rather than writing a list of what you did on the trip, try to focus on exploring one small moment, some small experience (it can be good or bad) that has stuck in your memory. Write with the goal of getting your reader to feel what you felt.
Here's what I wrote:
Sitting on the balcony overlooking Lake Garda, sunshine beaming down on the book I’m reading, a slight breeze floating in over the water, muffled sounds wafting around me, gentle lapping water, people talking five stories below as they walk along the waterfront . . . I can’t believe I’m here. Yes, little ol’ me, southern girl from Texas, raised in a middle-class blue-collar family, the girl who took seven years to work her way through college then went back to get a teaching certificate (Mama was right, I should have trained to be a teacher all along), the woman who married young and foolishly, started over again, the woman who never dreamed she would have this much love, fun and adventure in her life. Here I sit with the most wonderful husband in the world, enjoying this peaceful afternoon in Italy. ITALY! I still can’t believe I’ve now become a world traveler.
Not a world traveler in the classy sense of the word mind you. No, not me. Since this trip began eight days ago, I’ve experienced exhaustion, barely avoided car sickness in London, bowled an elderly lady down on an escalator, purchased a cute sweater that I have no idea how to wash since the care label is in Russian, unsuccessfully tried to cook microwave oatmeal in a Russian microwave, and ordered a pepperoni pizza only to discover that “pepperoni” is the Italian word for “peppers.” But sitting here on the balcony, relaxed in my chair, feet propped on the railing, book in hand, sunshine beaming down, the love of my life sitting across from me, life is good. God is good.
I am starting this a few days late as this first challenge was posted on Amy's blog Monday.
Writing prompt: Describe some small moment from the first hour of your day. Rather than listing the things that happened, try to describe: what you saw, felt, heard, tasted, and/or smelled.
Here's what I wrote:
I sense light in the room and squint my eyes open to see the light shining in from the bathroom. Robbie’s almost ready for work; it’s still dark and quiet outside. I stretch and revel in the comfortable feeling of the sheets with the weight of the quilt on top. I hear Robbie dressing and awaken enough to visit with him while he finishes dressing for his day. As he leans over to kiss me goodbye, his smell and the feel of his lips add to my peaceful feeling. As always, he reminds me that he loves me as he walks out the door. I nestle back into the covers and succumb to the sleep waiting just behind my eye lids.
As I prepare to roll out of bed later, I feel secure, loved, peaceful. What shall I do today? Oh, I know, I have my to-do list all made out in my calendar, but lately the list is just there to serve as a guideline for what I could do with my day. The important things I take care of so routinely that I don’t really have to think about them: Monday – paperwork & bill paying; Tuesday – errands; Wednesday – house cleaning; Thursday – scrapbooking; Friday – pampering & planning. These routines keep everything running smoothly, and if I get behind a day or two it’s no big deal. And more days than not this month, my craft table has been calling me to scrapbook, create, organize, write.
Must get dressed now, have some breakfast and a little quiet time to see what the Lord might show me before I rush into my day. Who knows, He may have a different plan.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
For each assignment, there was one day consisting of two writing exercises, a free-write and a journaling assignment. Those days were led by Liv E, and the journal prompts, grammar tips, and motivational tone were very well done. The layout days were led by Jessica and included the templates, links to font downloads, and video tutorials for various new typography techniques in PhotoShop Elements. I completed the last four layouts and have ordered 12x12 prints to add to my LOM category albums. Each of these pages was created with a page template from Jessica (she included embellishments from Katie Pertiet and Kellie Mize at DesignerDigitals and Trish Jones at ScrapbookGraphics on some of the templates), papers and embellishments mostly from the Type+Writer kit that came with the class, and numerous downloaded fonts. I'm going to try to list the materials for each layout below - this is something new for me, but I am trying to get into the habit, who knows, maybe someday I'll be teaching scrapbooking online!
This first layout used Jessica's Snapshot template and two fonts from dafont.com (Vt Portable Remington & You Are Loved). I titled my layout "Get Organized" - this assignment was to focus on the everyday activities of our lives, so I scrapped about organizing a closet. Not the most glamorous subject, yet it is something that happens often at our house because I enjoy organizing. I love the look of this layout. We used Wordle.com to create the background word art using our own journaling.
The second layout uses Jessica's Dialogue template and several downloaded fonts (Jane Austen and Parma Petit from Dafont.com and Ornament Scrolls from moorstation.com). This layout shares one of our favorite stories about my niece and I'm excited to finally get it down on paper. I wasn't sure what photos I would pair with it. I flipped through my Family & Friends category box and found these photos. The look on her face in the large photo perfectly represents her smug expression on the day of this story.
This next layout uses Jessica's Hey Little template and three dafont.com fonts (Marcelle, Leicester, Happy Daze). This was a difficult journaling assignment, writing a letter to my younger self. I put it off for several days because I just couldn't decide what to say, but finally took the plunge and came up with this layout.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
First, Robbie's grandmother passed away on January 31. She was 91-years-old and ready to go home to be with her Lord and join Grandpa who passed away in 2006. She had been in failing health the last several years, and while we did not expect her to remain here much longer, the call that she was gone was still a shock to us. We had talked with her on the phone over the last several years but it had become increasingly difficult as her health and memory deteriorated. However, in the 8 years that Robbie and I have been married, we have several beautiful memories of times with her and Grandpa: their two visits to us at our home in Rockwall; Grandpa at the age of 89 attending his first Promise Keepers meeting with Robbie and my daddy; shopping with Grandma for matching "Cinderella" dresses; Robbie and I standing up for them as they renewed their wedding vows for their 50th wedding anniversary; visiting them at their home in South Carolina and creating a 50 page scrapbook commemorating their life together, their family, and their 50th anniversary. She was the last of our living grandparents. I am so thankful to have known and loved her and grateful for the many prayers that she and Grandpa prayed for Robbie (and later for me) over the years.
Second, our dear friend Elaine Kerley passed away in March at the age of 76. Elaine and Felton were members of the Home Group we joined a few months after we were married, and they have remained a part of what I like to call our "core group" of friends, mentors, and prayer partners. Elaine always had a smile! She was a wonderful cook and made the tastiest desserts imaginable. I went by to visit Elaine and Felton in their home shortly before Christmas. Elaine was already ill then, but she still wore a smile and was delighted to sit and visit a while. We miss her the most when we walk in to church on Sunday mornings and her smile is not there to greet us.
Third was the little 14-month-old boy - someone we really didn't know. He was the great-nephew of another couple of our "core group," Don & Becky. I don't know if there was ever a definite determination of what happened, but the doctors thought that it was some type of viral infection. The little boy's father found him not breathing one morning, and while they were able to revive him, he never again gained consciousness before he passed away a few days later. I was heartbroken to hear this news and cannot imagine what his young parents must be going through. I had the privilege of helping set up and serve the after-funeral meal for the family, a large family that has rallied around this young couple in their grief. Our friends Don & Becky have experienced the loss of many close family members over the past 18 months, and it has been inspiring to watch them walk through their grief resting in God's peace.
Fourth was Bob Bevan, the man that brought Robbie to Texas years ago. Bob hired Robbie as CFO for a new start-up software company, SofTechnics, that he began in 1996. This position is one of the factors that launched Robbie onto the career path that he has continued to be so successful at over the eight years since his position at SofTechnics was eliminated after it was acquired by Mettler-Toledo. Over the six years that Robbie worked for Bob, the company grew and Bob grew Robbie's salary and responsibilities right along with it, in the end giving Robbie some of his own personal stock before the final sale. This stock allowed us to pay off debt and take a few years off so that Robbie could complete his degree. Robbie was honored to serve as a pall bearer at Bob's funeral this past weekend.
And fifth was one of my first new church friends after Robbie and I married and I moved to Rockwall, Mary Sooter. Mary was over the Hospitality Group at our church at that time, and we spent a lot of time together delivering meals, writing cards, creating diaper cakes, even cleaning the pastor's home one year for Pastor Appreciation Week. She was only 61-years-old and passed away unexpectedly in her sleep last week. Mary had a true servant's heart and a ready smile.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
For those of you who don't want to read upside down, here's what the text says:
Robbie began sending me flowers the first Monday after we met. The first bouquet was delivered to my job at Lamar State College. Every week a new arrangement was delivered by Garrison’s Florist. After we married, my flowers were delivered or brought home by Robbie every Monday until we moved to Lufkin and I began teaching full-time. I asked Robbie that my flowers arrive later in the week so that I could enjoy their freshness over the weekend. When we moved to Allen and I had the luxury of staying at home again, the flowers once again began to show up on Mondays. AND THEY STILL DO, every week!
Why Do I Still Get Flowers Every Monday? One weekend in October while we were dating, I visited Robbie in Rockwall. We attended the morning worship service at LakePointe Church. The pastor’s message was about marriage, and one point that he made was that men should continue to court their wives even after marriage by doing some of the things they had done during the time they dated their wives. I wrote Robbie a note (jokingly) that he should always send me flowers on Monday, even after we were married, according to the pastor. And that’s exactly what happened!
The first time I went out of town without Robbie after we married, I arrived at my hotel room to find a beautiful bouquet sitting on the dresser - Robbie had ordered flowers to be delivered for me to enjoy while I was away on a girl’s out weekend. This tradition has continued and I have received flowers at Mama’s house when I was visiting, in numerous places throughout the state of Texas (including a remote church campground!). I even found flowers waiting for me twice in New York City. I usually end up having to relate the story of why I received the flowers, and everyone loves the story.
Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day are other days that I often receive flowers. Robbie always plans something special for my birthday and whenever we arrive, be it at a restaurant or bed-and-breakfast, my flowers have already been delivered and are waiting for me to enjoy them. And sometimes I get flowers just because Robbie wants to send me a special note. Like on my first day of a new job – a beautiful bouquet will arrive at my office or classroom. If I’ve been sick or have been having a particularly difficult time or am feeling unsure about something or we’ve just moved into a new house, I receive flowers.
Monday, April 26, 2010
I decided to create a mini-PAS using the 44 Polaroid photos from my 12th birthday. It really isn't a huge group of photos, however Polaroids are such a unique size and shape that I knew a traditional layout was out of the question. I really wanted to use all the photos, even though my photography skills weren't that great and the lighting wasn't always right. I purchased this inexpensive photo album at Hobby Lobby to create my Photo Album Scrapbook.
For my 12th birthday, Grandma had given me a Polaroid camera AND an overnight trip to Galveston with a day spent at SeaArama MarineWorld (which has since closed down). I was amazed when I sorted these photos and realized that I must have used 5 cartridges of film on this one trip alone - the cost of the Polaroid film has always been high! [Truth be told, I was Grandma's favorite. :>)] Each photo was labeled in my 12-year-old handwriting, and I had even saved a few pieces of memorabilia from the trip - the map and schedule from SeaArama, a matchbook from the hotel, our ticket stubs, and the souvenir bracelet Grandma bought me. I sorted all these items, then mounted each of the photos to a 4x6 piece of black cardstock that would fit into each sleeve of the photo album.
This left four open slots in the album. I used one for a title page, two for the memorabilia, and the last one for a dedication page. On the title page, I included a piece of the page from my old deteriorating scrapbook where I had described why I had kept those pieces of memorabilia.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Ultimate Practical Guide to Scrapbooking was full of ideas. Robbie picked this book up for me from the bargain book table at our local Borders. It was actually published in the UK, so it included all the measurements in cm (and then inches in parentheses) and several examples were on A4 paper which is a little longer than our letter size but not quite as long as our legal size. It was filled with lots of page and project ideas, many with step-by-step directions. I've already created two layouts that were inspired by ones in this book.
The Scrapbook Embellishment Handbook had ideas for using 17 different types of embellishments with lots of gorgeous sample pages and step-by-step directions for some of the ideas. I especially enjoyed seeing some of Nic Howard's layouts in the book since I'm currently taking her Dimensional Details class.
Sharing Your Story: Recording Life's Details with Mini Books by Ali Edwards was filled with ideas for creating mini scrapbooks. I've had in my mind for a while now a mini scrapbook about "Games We Play," and reading this book really got me inspired. I have started gathering my supplies and photos for this little project and they are scattered all over my craft table right now.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
12 pages - our 2009 London trip, these pages were added to our Travels Abroad theme album. I found this great Creative Memories London paper at our local scrapbooking store. I used these two background papers for each two-page spread.
54 pages - a new scrapbook of my school years (K-12). [I finally took apart the old scrapbook Mama made for me as I was growing up since it was falling apart. I separated out the school stuff and the family stuff, then created an album with just the school stuff. I had taken photos of the old scrapbook and included some of the photos of various pages in the new book.] I used a pre-made album that Robbie picked up for me at Hallmark several years ago. Since the album didn't have nearly enough pages, I created "matching" pages to add to the book.
38 pages - traditional scrapbook pages of events and connections pages that will go in my new LOM category albums. These range from a heritage page with an old professional photo of my Papa to a two-page spread about our recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. I scraplifted this page layout from Becky Higgins' Family History Scrapbooking book which has tons of great layouts plus quite a few extra page sketches.
5 pages - my very first digital scrapbook pages. I printed the first page (below) as an 8x8 and mounted it on a 12x12 sheet. The digital page was created using a free template and class at JessicaSprague.com. I have two more digital pages that I'm working on and then I will get the other pages printed and put them in my LOM category albums.
Now, I'm off to work on my new project - a mini album that I'm going to title "Games We Play."
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
First, my storage binders and category drawers:
The Storage Binders on the lower shelf are where I put my photos once they are printed. These photo albums are a temporary storage space for my photos until I am inspired to scrap them. They are accessible and easy to view and I can quickly thumb through them to find photos I want to scrap for a class assignment or to go with some new scrap supplies. This past weekend I was inspired to create this layout (using photos from my storage binders) because I had purchased a Creative Memories paper kit (for $1 at a garage sale!). It even includes a piece of memorabilia (the map) from our trip.
I am using the photo boxes on the top shelf as my Category Drawers. These are long term storage for photos that I want to use on connection layouts eventually. Basically when I pull a group of photos to scrap, I might pull one or two that represent a category for these drawers and then if there are leftover photos that I didn't use on my layout, I decide if they can/should go in a category drawer.
Then there is my actual “Library” which includes these new American Crafts albums:
The new layouts I complete will go into these albums based on category. Stacy uses four main categories, but I decided on these six: Robbie & Melissa, Family & Friends, Days We Celebrate, Activities We Enjoy, Places We've Been, Things That Matter
My “Library” also includes all the other albums I’ve created over the years, including all the ones on my Memories Shelf and the ones that I have on display on the sideboard:
Currently I'm taking all digital photos although Robbie still likes to use his film camera on occasion. I went digital in 2008 and when I started the LOM workshop this year in January, I had only printed a few photos that I had scrapped or given to others. So, I had almost TWO full years of photos just sitting on my computer! I created a Digital Workflow Plan based on what I learned in the digital portion of the LOM Workshop, printed all my highlight photos from '08 & '09, and am now printing my highlight photos (those that I know I want to scrap) at the end of each quarter.
My printed photos were already organized (of course!) chronologically, and I had created scrapbooks or photo albums through 2006. I was in the process of organizing my 2007 photos and am now planning to incorporate these into my new system by adding those photos to a storage binder.
There are also quite a few “extra” components of Stacy’s LOM system that I’ve implemented.
The green drawers in the middle of this shelf will be my Square Punch Drawers for photos that I did not scrap or maybe were duplicates. I will be square punching out faces to use on future layouts. For now, I’m also saving my index prints in the box on top of those two shelves thinking I might use that same concept to punch out some of these small photos for future layouts.
The box on the right holds my Cultural Memorabilia – things that reflect our culture and everyday lives. I’ve just started collecting these items, but here’s a peek into what I have found so far as I’ve sorted through my old memorabilia.
There are several other items that Stacy uses in her system, some that I am working to incorporate and others that I have not incorporated. For example, I have Cold Storage boxes in the closet and Family Word Notebooks scattered around the house. I do not need School of Life files or Family Tree Drawers at this point, so those are not part of my system.
I have been so excited about these changes and not worrying about whether I'm "caught up" with my scrapping that I've actually scrapped 121 pages so far in 2010. (Check back in a few days for a post about what those pages are!)
One of Stacy’s challenges in the LOM Workshop is to explain the system to someone else as a way of helping us learn the system. I would love your comments as to whether or not this all made sense!
Monday, April 19, 2010
As I was looking through my photos of layouts I've created this year, I relized I had previously created a layout about this trip featuring only one photo. I created this layout based on an online class called Scrapbook Alchemy, Episode 5: A Map to Mark the Memories offered at JessicaSprague.com. It is a hybrid class meaning I used the computer for some elements but still created a traditional paper layout. Again I pretty much followed the directions except in this layout I left out one of the elements (a map) that was included in the sample layout. I love the blue star border at the top, which was a template provided for the class along with the template to print the curved words "Time For." I used a texture and mask in Photoshop Elements to create the grungy muted look of the photo. These digital elements were provided with the class along with a great video tutorial. I am still learning how to use Photoshop Elements, so it took me a while as I had to continually pause the video, go do the next step, then play a short piece of video, go do that step, etc. I also downloaded the You Are Loved font from dafont.com which offers a ton of free fonts.
Friday, April 16, 2010
"Scrapbooking is anything you do with pictures and words, to honor a moment in time."
This means that even this blog post is a form of scrapbooking because I am sharing my photos and words!
Here is a scrapbook page I completed this week. I am creating different sized pages just based on what inspires me. This page is 6x12 and will eventually go in our "Melissa" scrapbook for pages about me before Robbie and I met.
And this last page is a 12x12. These aren't even actually pictures I took but ones that my sister shared from her lesson teaching my twin nieces the letter "L". They were such fun pictures that I couldn't resist creating this page. This page will also go in our "People We Love" album.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Jim's story is one of a difficult childhood: alcoholic parents, his father left when he was five, his mother died when he was eight, foster care, witness to violence and death. He gave his life to the Lord at the age of 15, and while life didn't get any easier for many years, he strove to follow the Lord's guidance in his life. He and his wife were married many years before having their two sons.
In the author's note at the beginning of the book he states: "As you read, my sense is that God might just beckon you to embrace the story that is uniquely yours to tell, and to realize that, in spite of how things may appear at any given moment along the path, He has designed you to do something significant." He concludes the book by stating that when "we are transparent, we're in the best position to encourage one another to experience the richness and depth of the life God has for us." It was interesting to read about his life and learn how he came to the position he now holds at Focus on the Family. It is in almost direct contrast to Dr. Dobson who was raised by Christian parents and grew up knowing the Lord. Yet, God has used each of these men in marvelous ways to lead an organization that promotes healthy marriages and families.
Monday evening we went to Focus on the Family's Celebrate Family Tour. Matthew West performed at the beginning and sang a new song that he wrote (two days before!) for an upcoming album. It was called "Two Houses" and was about children of divorced parents who live in two houses but never feel like they are home until they find Jesus. It was beautiful and made me sad thinking of how Andrew will now be living in two homes.
Then Jim Daly spoke about some of the current programs at Focus on the Family and showed several video clips. We especially enjoyed the Jelly Telly clip - an online character designed to teach children about the Bible, to bring the Bible to life for them, and to teach them about faith.
Then there was a panel discussion that was also broadcast live over the radio and web. Dr. Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham where the guest speakers there to discuss marriage issues. They pointed out that often marriage partners think the grass is greener somewhere else when really there's a septic tank over there keeping the grass greener. It was interesting, informative, and often pretty funny.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
For lesson two, I've completed two layouts. The first one was a challenge to complete a page in 30 minutes using patterned papers to create your own unique background. I actually took 50 minutes to finish my layout, and I love the way it looks. I did this one as an 8 1/2x11 page and am planning to include it in with my 12x12 layouts in our People We Love album. This is something else that's new for me - mixing up layout sizes in the same album - something I'm trying out based on what I'm learning in the Library of Memories workshop I'm also taking through BigPictureScrapbooking.com.
And the final layout was again a little different than my normal layout. It also includes the custom background made from patterned papers, but this time I tore the paper and inked the edges and tried a little masking plus added lace and part of an old dictionary page to create a vintage look. This page will also go in our People We Love album.