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.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Raw Art Journaling - Passing the Book


The first recipient of September's Pass the Book:Year Two is

RINDA!!

Congratulations Rinda! I hope you'll find some inspiration and new ideas for your art journaling in this fun book. (I just checked and I have your address on the Mail Art Exchange list, so I'll get this on the way to you!)

Remember, Rinda will enjoy this book and then pass it on, so be sure to check out Gallo Organico where she blogs and shares her own art journal pages & other creative endeavours.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Another 2007 Birthday Party

After creating a layout yesterday about my oldest niece's birthday party in 2007, I pulled out another set of 2007 birthday photos to use with Sketch Support's One-Page Sketch #13. This layout highlights photos from Pun'kin's 10th Birthday party. Once again I used a piece of the party invitation as my title block.

This was a quick fun layout to put together using one piece of cardstock and then bits & pieces from my scraps.

(Reminder: Today is the last chance to enter your name in the draw for this month's Pass the Book: Year Two book on art journaling. I'll be picking a winner tomorrow. Click here for all the details.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Do You Save Your Middles?

This morning I started a new layout with a red cardstock background and realized I really wanted a small border of light blue to frame the layout, so I pulled out another piece of cardstock and decided to "save the middle." This is a term I first learned in the BPC Dimensional Details workshop taught by Nic Howard last year. I just wanted a very thin border on my layout, so I cut an 11x11 piece out of the middle of the blue sheet. 


The trick here is lining the paper up correctly. I wanted 1/2" strip border strip, so I lined the paper up with the extended ruler at 11 1/2". Then I set the cutting blade down at the 1/2" mark and cut straight across to the 11 1/2" mark before picking it up. I turned the paper and repeated on each side.


 This left me with a 1/2" border square and an 11x11 sheet of the cardstock. I can use the new smaller piece of cardstock as a background on another layout or use it to mat some of the items on the current layout (like I did with the title block). This is an especially helpful technique when you only have one sheet of a colored cardstock or patterned paper and you want to stretch is as far as you can.


I used the outside border on a layout about my oldest niece's 18th birthday BBQ. I started with this sketch from Lisa Day. I really like the placement of photos and the stair stepped appearance of both sides of the photo block. My photos were different orientations, so I had to make a few adjustments. I'm very pleased with the outcome. I used the invitation for the party as my title block. (Please excuse all the blurry photos - some are not my family and a few were just not great ones of my family and I didn't want them to disown me. It was a very very HOT day which doesn't often bring out our best appearances!)

For embellishments I simply added a "celebrate" sticker over the corner of the bottom left photo to highlight one of the photos of my niece and two strips of a quote sticker underlined with ric rac. I love the simplicity of this layout and the fact that I was able to use 10 photos.


What about you - do you save the middles of your papers?

Monday, September 26, 2011

LOAD Day 26 & September Blacks

Today I truly embraced my philosophy of scrapping non-chronologically by pulling some photos from 1983 to use on a layout inspired by another two-page sketch from the Double Take workshop. These were terrible photos, originally 3 1/2 x5 in size, taken from the audience of a school auditorium during a high school musical production, blurry, bad lighting, and I had already unevenly trimmed down many of the photos. On the positive side, I had quite a few photos to choose from and I had my original program from the musical. I pulled the best photos, trimmed them straight, and used the program as my title block. (In my quest to play along with Brenda's quilting color challenges, I'm also counting this as a September Black layout.)


Yes, I really was in a production of Guys & Dolls! I saved a few of these horrible photos for a future layout about this past summer when Robbie and I went to see a professional theatre production of this same musical. I want to create a connections layout about my high school production, the production we saw this summer, and Robbie's high school production where he worked on the stage crew. It might be a little while before that one all comes together, but it's on my layout ideas list.

Anyone else scrap some really old photos lately? Did you find it hard to work with them?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

LOAD Day 24 & Day 25

I'm so excited that I've had time to create a two-page layout two days in a row. There's only one more day of the LOAD portion of The Mother LOAD workshop - tomorrow is the 26th day. So far I've created at least one layout on 15 days, with a total of 18 layouts. Both of the layouts I'm sharing today are based on sketches from the Double Take workshop. This first one highlights my time teaching the twins to ride their bikes without training wheels this past summer, so it also counts for this week's Library of Memories Community weekly challenge to create a summer layout.

Here's a closer look at the journaling.
The next layout showcases some of my favorite photos from our stop at Little Bighorn Battlefield last summer during our Banff Road Trip. The sketch actually called for five 4x6 portrait photos, but I had so many photos that I modified the sketch to include another row of photos below those.
Instead of creating a title, I highlighted the photo of the entrance to the battlefield.

And I included a piece of memorabilia in my embellishment cluster that tells a little of the history of the battlefield.

I'm really enjoying the sketches in this workshop! (There's still time to register for the workshop - click here for more information.) My sister, Brenda, is also taking the workshop and I'm enjoying seeing her layouts with the same sketches. You can see a couple of them on her blog here.

On another note, I received TWO pieces of happy mail this week. The first one came from Danielle of EcoScrapbook and was part of Ginger's September Mail Art Exchange. I really like the color of this envelope with the subtle swirls and the papers she used on the enclosed card.




The second piece of happy mail arrived from Spain after a very long journey, it took it so long to get here that Alison was beginning to think it may  have gotten lost in the mail. I really like the way she used little bits & pieces to cover the envelope, and isn't that a totally cute tag.



I'm continuing to follow along with Shimelle's Learn Something New Every Day prompts and today I'm reminded of how much I appreciate the blogging community. Finding lovely comments in my inbox and happy mail in my mail box are just a couple of the benefits of having blog friends around the world. I so appreciate each of you who stop by regularly and those of you who drop in every once a while - thanks for sharing your time and letting me share a little of my life and scrapping with you!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pass the Book:Year Two - Raw Art Journaling

I have to admit that until this past week I have not truly delved into art journaling. Last November, I chose a composition book to use as an art journal, added some printed cover art from Jessica Sprague, and created a dedication page. (You can see the journal here.) And then it sat for a while several months before I finally added a few pages to it this past spring. I created a couple of collage style pages and one page with stamping and coloring.




Along the way, I also glued in some Mail Art envelopes & cards I've received - an idea I saw on Cheri's blog several months ago. However, this past week I pulled out my Art Journal and create three pages inspired by September's book for Pass the Book:Year Two!


Raw Art Journaling by Quinn McDonald contains numerous ideas for art journal pages as well as step-by-step instructions. One idea that really caught my attention was "Found Poetry." The book discussed two types of "found poetry" - one created from cutting words from one page of a magazine and one created from words on the page of a book. For the first one, I pulled a page out of an old TV magazine (from the 1960s) and clipped words that seemed to go together. I adhered them to my page, then doddled around the "poem" as I tried out several of the markers in my stash to see if they were still good. As you can tell from the faded lines, many of these markers then ended up in the trash.

"Poem" reads:
REMEMBER THIS
the dream
a new life
a smile
luck
a gold mine of happiness
a song
life
more singing
REMEMBER

Next, I pulled a page from a Little House on the Prairie book and circled words to create an original "poem."


I then colored over the remaining words using a Crayola Slick Stix. (Every year at Christmas Robbie buys me the latest and greatest Crayola product!) I adhered the page in my Art Journal and filled in rest of the page with Slick Stixs.

"Poem" reads:
Saturday morning walking to see the greeny-gold wonderful country and sunshine streaming.
the sun went out, the light changed.

There were also examples of drawing words and lines and frames, so I tried my hand at a page simply using colored pencils. This page reflects how I've been feeling with the bathroom renovation and everything from the bathroom & closet scattered throughout the house!
I may not win any awards for the best or most creative Art Journal pages, but I must admit that I enjoyed trying out some new ideas. These few pages were inspired by just a handful of the many ideas for art journal pages presented in this interesting book, which I am ready to pass on for one of you to enjoy and find inspiration from. You can learn all about how Pass the Book: Year Two works by clicking here.


If you'd like a chance to be the first recipient of Raw Art Journaling by Quinn McDonald, please leave a comment telling me whether or not you have an Art Journal (or two or three) and how long you've been creating Art Journal pages. I'll pick a name and announce the first recipient of this book next Thursday.

Friday, September 23, 2011

LOAD Day 22 & Double Take

I am so excited about the BPC Double Take workshop that began yesterday. This workshop is being taught by May Flaum AND Nic Howard. We get four double-page sketches each week and a sample layout for each from both May & Nic. I used this week's Sketch 2 for my LOAD Day 22 layout.


I pulled this group of photos from my 2007 storage binder, then chose papers and adhered everything together. Next I flipped through my embellishments binder and found some old record stickers and a felt banjo. (I couldn't remember where it came from or how long it had been there, but Robbie reminded me last night that it came off our stuffed Sam the Snowman Christmas decoration.)

The contractors will be done with their part of our bathroom renovation today, and Robbie and I will be putting some finishing touches on it, cleaning and putting everything back in place this weekend. We also have three banquets to attend! However, I'm hopeful that I'll be able to squeeze in another layout or two also.

I'll be passing a new book for Pass the Book: Year Two in the next day or two, so be sure to check back for a chance to be the first recipient of a fun book on art journaling.

Monday, September 19, 2011

LOAD Day 19

It's Day 19 of The Mother LOAD, and so far I have created 16 layouts. Today's layout is another quick two-page layout for my DIY mini-album - this one highlighting the dresser we purchased for our bedroom that was much too light to match the other furniture.



I'm several days behind on reading the LOAD and LSNED prompts, and I wasn't sure if I would be able to create any layouts for a few more days because we have a really cute 3-year-old house guest. However, I discovered that occassionally he will simply play himself right into a nap, leaving just enough time to process some email and create a layout!

Friday, September 16, 2011

LOAD Day 16

I spent most of today cleaning our bedroom - dusting, vacuuming, moving furniture so I could clean the dust behind and underneath it, wiping down walls and furniture, etc. I'm pretty exhausted this evening, so I decided to scraplift myself and duplicate a layout I'd previously created.

I created this layout in 2009 for my great-nephew's scrapbook that his mom was putting together. It was one of my first times to use a sketch to create a layout. (Sorry I can't remember where the original sketch came from.)

I had planned to create a similar layout for my albums and had these same photos printed and in my 2009 storage binder. I had printed the larger sized photo for my original layout, but decided to use the 4x6s I had on hand to create a layout today. I also used letter stickers instead of cutting the title on my Cricut, simply for convenience as I'm planning to head to bed early.

I'm glad to finally complete this layout for my Family & Friends LOM album. This is only the second time I've made duplicate (or near duplicate) layouts. I'm not sure which one I like the best - what do you think?

In the midst of my cleaning frenzy today there were several bright spots. First, a package arrived from UPS with my order from Scrapbook.com. I needed some more page protectors and then all these letters stickers and a few papers jumped right in my cart with them! :>)


Later another package arrived, this one from my sister. A couple of months ago, she had borrowed a book from me and was returning it along with some craft kits she had that she thought the children's department at our church would enjoy. And since she was sending a box my way, she decided to include some extra goodies - letter stickers, borders, die cuts, rolls of ribbon, a book for me to read, and some cute photo frames to decorate! Thanks Brenda!


I also enjoyed a nice visit from a friend who stopped by to deliver some Mary Kay products I'd ordered last week - the Satin Hands kit. I enjoyed the visit and now I can give my hands some pampering after all that cleaning today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

LOAD Day 14

Today's LOAD prompt encouraged us to stamp on our layouts. I chose this sketch from Elle's Studio Sketch Thursday series as the inspiration for my layout. I started with a really fun pink & yellow background paper, so this layout went together very quickly.

I used a Happy Birthday stamp for the title and a gift box stamp randomly to add to the fun of the background paper. 

It's amazing to me that my twin nieces are already six and a half years old and I'm just now scrapping the photos of their 2nd birthday gifts! Of course, that's why I enjoy scrapbooking non-chronologically - no one really knows if I'm "caught up" or "behind" because I just scrap whatever inspires me on any particular day.

One of this week's prompts in the LSNED class encouraged us to watch for those lessons that we learn the hard way. This week I've learned that if the old tile mortar won't come off the bathroom floor easily and the contractor decides to grind and sand it off, it's best to have everything (EVERYTHING!) covered in plastic. If not, your bathroom will look like this . . .

and if by chance they also don't put anything to block the dust, the bedroom might also collect enough dust to fill a pot hole!


That's the basic lesson . . . but the other lesson is that it is OK on days like that to sit down and have a cold Coca-Cola (even if you've already had your one for the day!) and remind yourself that truly it is just dust and it can be cleaned!! It will take a lot of cleaning (and a few more Coca-Colas), but in the whole scheme of things it's just dust!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

LOAD Day 11

Saturday's LOAD prompt was to pull another one of the embellishment baggies we put together at the beginning of the workshop and use them on a layout with a black & white photo. I pulled the baggie with these cute yellow & white items to start a simple layout today.


I actually used the sketch that Lain provided with today's prompt for this simple layout highlighting a photo of me at one-year-old. I ended up not using the yellow frame because I wanted to preserve the size of this older photo with my Mama's handwriting across the top of it.


I considered working on a patriotic layout today and writing the story of what I was doing 10 years ago when I heard about the terrorist attacks, but that story is really also tied into when I met Robbie (4 days before 9-11-01) and the fact that his boss had changed their plans to fly to New York (their original tickets were for the 11th, but were changed to the 12th on the 10th) and how we attended the most wonderful patriotic church service the following Sunday.... etc. So, I've decided to save that layout and those stories for a time when I'm inspired to put it all together in a mini-album and for today I'll just say, "I'm proud to be an American!"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten on the Tenth - Book Reviews

I realized recently that I've read quite a few books over the past couple of months that I have not reviewed, so I thought I'd share a review of ten of those books with you today. I  hope you'll find a book or two to add to your reading list (and you might find one or two to avoid!).


First,I'd read about Brene Brown's books on several blogs, and checked out The Gifts of Imperfection from our local library. The book is about living a wholehearted life and focuses on three ingredients of living wholeheartedly: courage, compassion, connection. I enjoyed the book and her honest assessment of how she had not been incorporating many of the guideposts of wholehearted living into her own life before the research that lead to this book. One of my favorite guideposts was #7 - Cultivating Play and Rest in our lives by "letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth." I also agree with her assessment that "there's no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don't."

Robbie and I had recently watched the movie Paper Moon and saw that it was based on the book by Joe David Brown, so we picked up a copy & both read it. It's the story of a young girl traveling through the south with the man that is probably her father. He is a con man and they spend their time swindling people out of money,then hightailing it to the next town. The movie actually only portrays about half of the book, so there were new behind-the-scenes stories to add to the movie version. I enjoyed the book and movie.

This is the book my book club chose for our September meeting: Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. It is two stories woven into one: the first is the story of a 10-year-old girl who lived through the Vel d'Hiv' roundup of Jews in France in July of 1942 and how she escaped transportation to Auschwitz; the second story is of a 45-year-old American journalist living in France in 2002 who is assigned a story on the roundups. This is a very well-written book, a page-turner that keeps you wondering what will happen next. While the material about the Nazi's treatment of Jews during World War II was difficult (as always) to read, this book also focused on the French police's part in these roundups. I honestly have never read much about what happened in France during the war, so this was a good book for learning about one more atrocity of the war. (Things we should never forget least they are repeated in future generations.) This is a fiction book, however the historical accuracy of the events during July 1942 were well researched.


The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559 Mirror Lake Internment Camp is one book in the Dear America series of Junior books. My younger sister gave me several of these books last year, and I pulled this one from my to-read pile recently. I actually read this right after Sarah's Key, although I had not planned to read two World War II books, both revealing inadequate or completely wrong decisions by a country's government. Each chapter in this book is written in the form of a journal entry of a young Japanese boy who was placed with his family in an internment camp in the United States during World War II. I know a little history of this embarrassing time in US history, and have read other fiction accounts of life in these camps. I enjoyed this perspective from that of a young boy, old enough to understand what was going on but still not understanding why it was happening to him and his family. There were times that I thought the writing was a little too thoughtful for that of a pre-teen boy, however I realize that these books are designed to entertain and to inform young readers. There was also a section where the dates were mixed up - out of order and incorrect (if Friday is the 12th, Sunday won't be the 15th!), but overall it was a good story and historically accurate. I love this sarcastic quote as the young boy discusses how all the buildings looked exactly the same and were not marked within the camp: "They want to see how long it will take the average twelve-year-old kid to go crazy because he has to spend all day running around in circles just to find his way back to where he lives."

My Mama loaned me her audio copy of Mike Huckabee's A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories That Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit earlier this year, and I listened to it off and on in the car while doing errands over a period of several weeks. Each chapter is a story from Mike Huckabee's life (growing up, his wife's bout with cancer early in their marriage, being a pastor, serving as governor of Arkansas, running for president of the United States) focused around the Christmas season during that time in his life. It was an enjoyable and informative book and well-read by Mike Huckabee himself.

I picked up Jennifer Grant's Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant from the new books shelf at our library because Robbie enjoys reading memoirs about various entertainment stars. When he finished the book, I read through it. I honestly felt like this was the book Jennifer Grant needed to write as part of her therapy of coming to grips with her life (or something like that). I honestly didn't enjoy the book as it seemed rather filtered (only sharing the good things) and was filled with name dropping that was unnecessary (in my opinion). I would not recommend this book as a easy or informative read.

When I was researching topics and books for the upcoming Ladies' Bible Study that I'll be leading, our pastor loaned me his copy of Robert Morris' The Power of Your Words. Robert Morris is the pastor of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. This is a well-written book about how the things that we say can impact our lives and the lives of others. It's a Christian book and focuses on truths from scriptures about how we should and shouldn't use our words. I enjoyed the book and found it very enlightening. [I did not choose it for our Bible Study primarily because I wanted to focus on a book of the Bible and use a study geared toward women.]

This is another book I checked out from our local library. It caught my eye while I was browsing the scrapbooking section. What About the Words? focuses on creative journaling on scrapbook pages. There were lots of inspiring examples of layouts and a variety of journaling ideas. I always enjoy these types of books because they inspire me to create!


I've never read a book by A.W. Tozer, who is a well-known Christian pastor, author, and magazine editor, so I picked up We Travel an Appointed Way at the library. The book is one of a series of books containing a collection of Tozer's editorial columns from his time as editor of Alliance Life magazine. While the articles themselves were interesting, I found the writing style difficult to read therefore hard to follow at times.


And last, but not, least is Patsy Clairmont's new book Stained Glass Hearts. I have enjoyed several of Patsy Clairmont's earlier books and heard her speak at a couple of Women of Faith retreats, and this book was no exception to her excellent writing, which is interspersed with her delightful sense of humor. This is a Christian non-fiction book that discusses how God uses the brokenness of our lives and turns them into a colorful story (thus the stained glass theme). At the end of each chapter, she lists ideas for exploring various forms of art in order to enrich our minds. I had not originally planned to look up any of the suggestions, however I found myself intrigued and really enjoyed searching for some of the paintings she described (like Picasso's The Three Musicians) and checking out photos of ancient mosaics. I would definitely recommend this book. [For this book only - Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”]

For those of you who've stayed with me through this long post, I want to share my favorite quote from Stained Glass Hearts. This thought from Patsy Clairmont comes near the beginning of her chapter about books and reading. "If it were up to me, I would mandate people wear pages of great books as clothing (copies, of course). Then no one would be boring." She goes on to say that if a conversation becomes boring at least we could "pipe in fresh water by reading a sleeve or two, quoting a collar, or scanning a shoe."

If you've read any of these books, please share your opinions in the comments, and I'd love to hear about any great books you've read lately.

This post is part of Shimelle's Ten on the Tenth. To see more Ten Things posts, click here.