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.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Review - May Preview

As April draws to a close, I completed my latest scrapbook page inspired by Sketch #150 at Creative Scrappers. Originally I considered the photo I used as one of the the not-so-good ones - this photo was taken with my film camera. Since the flash did not go off, I'd had the waiter take another photo which turned out "better", however when I had the photos developed I really liked the ambiance of the silhouette look in this photo.


Since the only bright color in the photo is the tea in Robbie's glass, I knew I wanted to include some small bits of that color in my layout. I had a package of My Mind's Eye decorative brads which included just the right colors.


I also had a piece of Graphic 45 patterned paper with a fancy table setting and silverware on it, however the paper was mostly blues. So, I simply cut out some of the silverware pieces to use an embellishment.

I also completed my May cards this past week - here's a peak at two of them.



April Review
*6 layouts  - all were 12x12, one was digital
* 8 cards
*20 graduation announcements
*1 Art Quote Card & Mail Art Envelope

I completed the BPC Finding Your Way workshop and Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers class, participated in two blog hops, and began Shimelle's Beyond Blogging for Scrapbookers class. I also spent several days updating my blog by streamlining my labels and adding new pages.

May Preview
*create cards for June
*participate in the last week of the Beyond Blogging for Scrapbookers class
*participate in the BPC May with May workshop
*participate in the BPC 12 hour Creative Crop on May 7
*complete weekly LOM Community Challenges
*create color layouts to play along with Brenda's quilting
*work on pre-class assignments for the upcoming Finding Photo Freedom workshop

How about you - what are your plans for May? Do you have anything special planned for National Scrapbook Day?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lighten Up Blog Hop - April 2011

I realized after I signed up for the April 2011 Lighten Up Blog Hop that I had made a huge mistake. I didn't actually have a recipe for Baked Chicken & Rice with Vegetables. I actually never use a recipe, but just guesstimate how much of each item to use, throwing it all in the dish, covering it, sticking it in the oven, checking it to see if I need to add a little more water or broth or if I need to let some of the extra liquid steam off. This tried and true method works every time! But not to worry - I made this great dish earlier this week and took time to record exactly what I was doing so you would have a recipe to go by.

I've made baked chicken and rice for many years; it's one of those comfort dishes and with a few vegetables thrown in can be a complete meal-in-one. This past year I began making a few changes to lower the amount of fat and salt and make this delicious dish healthier. For example, I switched from white rice to brown rice and began using the 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup.

Using an 8"x11" inch dish, layer the following ingredients:
1 cup uncooked brown rice 

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables 

1  can (10 1/2 oz) 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup mixed with 1 can (14 1/2 oz) low sodium 100% fat free chicken broth (I also mix my seasoning in the soup & broth, typically a generous shake of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts  (I sprinkle a light layer of seasoning over the chicken. I use Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, but you can use your favorite chicken seasoning or a little salt & pepper.)

Cover with tin foil and bake in a 350 degree (F) oven for about 1 3/4 hours. I usually check this about half way through to be sure there is still some liquid in the dish. If it seems dry and the rice has not cooked completely, I'll simply pour more broth or water in the pan. If it seems extra soupy and the rice is cooked, I simply lift one edge of the foil so some of the remaining liquid can steam off during the remaining cooking time.


This dish makes a complete meal with the chicken (protein), rice (starch), and vegetables. I typically serve it this way, but have at times added a side salad and dessert to turn it into a "company" dinner.


Thanks for stopping by. For a chance to earn a cooking tool from Beverly, please leave a comment at each blog along the hop and then leave a comment for Beverly telling which of the six recipes you are most likely to try first. Your next stop is Ginger's Life of Spice.

Here's the entire list in case you get lost along the way.

http://beglorious.blogspot.com/ - Individual Salsa Meatloaves
http://melissagross.blogspot.com/ -  Baked Chicken & Rice with Vegetables
http://gingerslifeofspice.blogspot.com/ -  Mexican Lasagna
http://holadayshappyhearts.blogspot.com/ - Sausage & Black Bean Soup

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://startcooking.com/blog/333/Measurement-and-Conversion-Charts
http://www.pioneerthinking.com/measure.html

Healthy Living Weekly Post: The Good Life (book review part 2)

Chapter 3 of The Good Life by Ruth McGinnis is all about exercise and is the longest chapter in the book. (See my review of chapters 1 & 2 here.) The chapter begins with Webster's New World Dictionary definition of exercise: "activity for training or developing the body or mind; esp., bodily exertion for the sake of health." This chapter stresses physical activity as a way of life and begins with a look at our core or foundation.

The author is a personal trainer and when she works with a new client always begins with alignment and stability as the foundation of a good exercise program. The chapter describes 10 basic exercises to develop inner strength. I actually include several of these exercises in my strength training routine, but have decided for the next month to add a session of these ten stability exercises to my weekly routine. Since they are designed to help build our inner core, I am planning to add this short exercise session on Sundays.

The chapter then continues to address a balanced exercise schedule including aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility/stretching exercises. Instructions are included for several flexibility exercises designed to help maintain a normal range of joint motion function. I really like the approach this chapter takes by going to the basics of an exercise program and building from there. Next week I'll be sharing the author's thoughts on food, balance, and emotional health.

Here's how I did on my goals for this past week:
*Ride the exercise bike for 30 minutes at least four times. DONE - four times!
*Complete a 30 minute strength training routine at least twice. Completed this routine only once.
*Drink at least 48 ounces of water each day. Success four out of seven days.
*Continue reading a book on healthy living. (The Good Life) DONE
*Try at least one new light recipe. X


My Goals for the Coming Week
*Ride the exercise bike for 30 minutes at least four times.
*Complete a 30 minute strength training routine at least twice.
*Complete stability exercises at least once.
*Drink at least 48 ounces of water each day.
*Continue reading a book on healthy living. (The Good Life)
*Add one lifestyle activity at least four days this week.

Tomorrow I'll be participating in the Lighten Up Blog Hop where six bloggers will share a favorite light recipe. Be sure to check back for a recipe to add to your menu next week and to find out how to be eligible for the blog hop giveaway.
 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Finding Photo Freedom

Ok, I guess I should let you all in on the mystery of my conference call photo from this post. Yes, Tuesday I was on a conference call with Stacy Julian about the upcoming Finding Photo Freedom workshop. I am totally excited to announce that I will be one of the coaches in this year's workshop, helping answer questions and sharing my adaptations of the Library of Memories system!

Big Picture Classes

Registration for the 2011 Finding Photo Freedom workshop at Big Picture Classes is now open. This is the updated and revised version of Library of Memories. The class starts June 2nd, but there's plenty of pre-class work to keep you busy, so be sure to sign up quickly.

I first learned about Stacy Julian's Library of Memories when I read her book Photo Freedom in the fall of 2009. I knew I wanted to take the online workshop and implement her system for processing, storing, and scrapping my photos. The workshop far exceeded my expectations and inspired me to switch from chronological scrapbooking (where I could never keep up) to inspirational scrapbooking (where I am having so much fun!). I love this system and am able to find a photo and/or story to scrap anytime the inspiration hits. I now have a system for processing my digital photos, a place to put my printed photos, and "permission" to share my photos and stories in numerous ways (not everything needs to be on a scrapbook page). You can read more about my experience with LOM here and here.

I hope you'll join me in the 2011 Finding Photo Freedom workshop.

If you've never signed up for a class at BPC, please click here to set up your account. This link will allow you and me to receive a discount after your first purchase - how fun would that be! And if you're undecided about purchasing a class right now, you can still set up an account and take advantage of the FREE classes offered at BPC. There were two new free classes for digital scrappers added this week.

LOM Alumni - you should have received an email from BPC announcing that Stacy is inviting ALL former LOMers to register for the new workshop for FREE. (If you did not receive this email, be sure to contact BPC about it.) You don't want to miss the new and updated information!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Survey Results & Blog Updates

Thanks so much to each of you who participated in my blog survey. I am delighted to find that there is some interest in all of the topics that were listed. The top three topics are scrapbooking, online classes, and book reviews. These three topics are in fact the ones that I write the most about, so it seems I'm on the right track!

You may have noticed a few changes to  my blog over the past week as I've been doing a little updating and clean-up based on one of the prompts in the Beyond Blogging for Scrapbookers class. I've updated my Labels to make finding previous topics easier for you. In the sidebar, just click any label to see all posts relating to that topic.

I've also added a few pages to my blog - these are listed at the top of the screen, right under my header photo.

Online Classes - This new page lists the online classes I'm currently taking and then previous classes. This page is still under construction, but should be completed in the next week or so. Clicking on the badge for each class will take you to more information about that class (if it is available) from the online class site. I'm also including a link under each class that will lead you to all my posts about that particular class.

Books Read - This page has been included for a while and lists books that I've read. Clicking on the book title will take you to my review of the book.

Awards & Such - A fun list of awards and challenges I've won.

Please take a moment to check out some of these new pages and let me know what you think!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Wishing you a wonderful Resurrection Sunday!

We had a wonderful service at our home church this  morning, worshiping the Savior who died for our sins and rose again on the third day! May we all be reminded today that He has risen!

HAPPY EASTER Y'ALL!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Book Reviews - Catching Fire, Housekeeper & Professor, Uncle

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)
Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. (You can see my review of book one here.) This book picks up the story of Katniss Everdeen six months after her return home at the end of book one. Once again, this book was a can't-put-it-down page-turner filled with suspense and numerous plot twists. Several of the twelve districts of Panem are ready to rebel against the Capitol as the 75th Hunger Games begin, where 24 former victors will compete. (That's truly about all I can say without giving too much away!) Great book - Robbie and I both are impatiently waiting for the third book as I'm number five on the list of requests at our local library.

The Housekeeper and the Professor

For May, my book club is reading Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor. I typically read the book a few days before the meeting, however I was able to borrow someone's copy for a couple of weeks so I read it early. (Hopefully I'll remember most of the details for the meeting in two weeks!) This is a short book that was translated from Japanese. It's about a housekeeper who is sent to work for a professor whose memory only lasts 80 minutes. Each day she arrives at work is like meeting the professor again for the first time. He does still have the memory of the years before his accident, but it stops there (25+ years before) and then only retains the last 80 minutes of each day. Prior to the accident that damaged his memory, he was a Mathematics Professor and he is passionate about numbers (especially prime numbers) and spends his time working to solve complex math problems. He talks about numbers and equations with such a passion that the housekeeper and her son are drawn into his view of the exquisitiveness of numbers. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good story and might be interested in learning about amicable numbers, perfect numbers, twin primes, and Euler's formula.

Uncle (New York Review Children's Collection)

I first read about J.P. Martin's children's book Uncle on Sian's blog, and since we enjoy many similar books I knew I wanted a copy for my library. This book was originally published in the UK and the stories were created by J.P. Martin to entertain his children. Later, his children wanted him to write the stories down so they could share them with their own children, which led to the book. I think this would be a fun book for bed time reading as it involves a fictional fantasy world. Uncle is a rich elephant who rules over Homeward and has numerous rather fun and peculiar friends. There's also the Badfort crowd led by Beaver Hateman, who are always out to get Uncle. Their skirmishes are humerous and the entire book requires quite an imagination - totally fun reading.

BTW- if you have not had a chance to take my blog survey, please click here and share which topics you enjoying reading about on this blog. (Scroll to the bottom of that post for the survey - it will just take a minute.) I'll be sharing the results next week.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Healthy Living Weekly Post: The Good Life (book review part 1)


The Good Life by Ruth McGinnis is one of my favorite books about healthy living because it stress a naturally healthy lifestyle focused on physical, emotional and spiritual health. It also happens to be one of those books where the typography creates a calm pleasant feeling. Each chapter begins with a one page illustration, and some years ago I sat down and colored those illustrations just for fun. I first read this book in 2003 and have re-read it a few times for motivation in my quest for healthy living.


Chapter one is the story about Ruth McGinnis's grandparents who lived on a farm and enjoyed a naturally healthy lifestyle. They "rose early, worked hard, ate fresh, unprocessed foods, and got plenty of sleep . . . and honored Sunday as a day of rest." Our lifestyle today is filled with modern conveniences that keep us from reaping the benefits of the type of lifestyle her grandparents enjoyed. Chapter two stresses that our primary motivation for changing our lifestyle should be health and the ability to live a long and illness free life rather than to fit into a smaller size dress or look like a supermodel. A disciplined healthy lifestyle is one where we are "choosing activity over laziness, eating a prudent diet, and committing to emotional and spiritual growth." I totally agree with this idea of choosing a naturally healthy lifestyle. I am just beginning chapter three which deals with exercise and adding physical activity as a way of life rather than a 30 minute session each day.

Here's how I did on my goals for this week:
*Ride the exercise bike for 30 minutes at least four times.
I only rode the bike three times.
*Complete a 30 minute strength training routine at least once.
I completed my routine two times.
*Begin re-reading a book on healthy living. (The Good Life)
*Drink no more than one 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola a day.
UGH - I drank at least two cokes every day.
*Try at least one new light recipe. X

My Goals for the Coming Week
*Ride the exercise bike for 30 minutes at least four times.
*Complete a 30 minute strength training routine at least twice.
*Drink at least 48 ounces of water each day.
*Continue reading a book on healthy living. (The Good Life)
*Try at least one new light recipe.

Next week I'll continue my book review of The Good Life. Hope each of you has a healthy week!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

And The Two Became One

Yesterday I had all the necessary motivation to create a layout - inspiration, permission, and reason.

The Inspiration
1. While I have a scrapbooked wedding album, I wanted to take one of our wedding photos and create a nice 12x12 layout for our Robbie & Melissa (All About Us) album.
2. I wanted to use some of the techniques I learned in Nic Howard's Dimensional Details workshop at BPC last year - inking, layering, creating embellishment clusters & using a page border to give the layout a framed look.
 

The Permission
The Library of Memories Community Challenge for March 3 (yes, I'm a little behind on these) was to "create a layout and pull out the stops. One of the reasons you have a LOM system is so you can choose when to really go hog wild. Find a photo you love and settle in for a nice long, super-creative adventure. Use as much product as you can and make a masterpiece."



The Reason
Scrapbookers Anonymous is having a Design Team Call. I enjoy the challenges at Scrapbookers Anonymous for two reasons. First, there is one challenge each month, allowing plenty of time to complete a layout. Second, it encourages scrappers to use the forgotten supplies in their stash. (The challenge for the Design Team Call is to use stamps to create a piece of patterned paper and three embellishments.)

I am thrilled with the completed layout, but more importantly I had fun creating it - spending time in my craft room, listening to a Paperclipping Roundtable podcast, and using some of the stamps from my stash that had never been used!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When I First Discovered Sketches

It was the spring of 2009. I had not created many layouts since I started taking digital photos the year before because I had not yet begun printing my photos. I had joined a Yahoo! group on scrapbooking, and one day a sketch challenge was posted. All I had to do was create a layout based on the sketch. This seemed simple enough, so I printed a few photos, pulled some papers and voila - I was hooked on sketches! I thought today I'd share with you some of the first layouts I created with sketches back in 2009. (I have no idea where these sketches came from since they were posted on the group site without that information.) These were also some of the first layouts that I photographed and shared.




 




How about you? Are you inspired by sketches or do you prefer to start with a blank page?