Welcome! I'm Melissa Gross, a dynamic and interactive teacher and speaker called to lead and encourage Christian women in their walk with the Lord through classes, workshops and retreats incorporating Bible study, devotionals, illustrated Bible journaling, paper crafting and mixed media projects that merge faith and art bringing God’s Word to life so you can find renewed excitement to dive into the Word, use your creative gifts, and apply the Truth as you draw closer to the Lord and serve Him in your everyday life. This site is where I share my everyday adventures, Bible Journaling pages, scrapbook layouts, handmade cards, and other crafty projects, as well as information on my upcoming workshops and events. I also post photos, ramble about books I'm reading, stuff I'm organizing, and other FUN bits & pieces of my wonderful life.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December FUN Check-In

As I sit here today, enjoying the final day of 2014 and my year of  FUN, I'm so glad I chose a word to focus on throughout the year. I know that it was the perfect word for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed consciously adding more FUN into my life and simply being more aware of the FUN already in my life. I also know that this word will continue to be a part of my life and that I'll always be more aware of the FUN now that I've taken time to pay more attention to it.

If you've been around my blog this month, you already know that December was filled with FUN - including lots of get-togethers with family and friends, a quick trip to visit my sister and her family, and a relaxing Christmas Day here at home with Robbie and my parents. We watched a ton of Christmas movies and football games throughout the month (Dallas Cowboys are in the playoffs!), played several games (Dominoes, Phase 10, Sorry), and have one of Robbie's new puzzles almost completed on the toy room table. I did some scrapbooking and crafting and worked on my digital workflow throughout the month. We also celebrated our 13th anniversary last weekend with a nice meal out and a day just hanging out and enjoying life.

I'm also glad that I participated in Ali Edward's One Little Word class because it helped me find different ways to stay focused on my word. I completed my FUN notebook by adding in the final reflections card . . .

 . . . and my FUN December photo collage.

I have to admit that I'm totally thrilled with my success with my very first One Little Word, and I'll be sharing  my new word and plans for 2015 in my next blog post. If you chose a word for this year, how did it manifest itself in your life throughout the year? Will you be choosing a word for 2015?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 - Fireworks

When I added #40 (See some holiday fireworks) to my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 list, my objective was to be intentional about seeing some fireworks. As I mentioned in my initial post about this goal, we've seen lots of fireworks in our lifetimes. However, since we've been married, Robbie and I have only seen fireworks when we "just happened to be there" - like after a baseball game.

On our trip to Florida in November, we were able to accomplish this goal as we viewed Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular 100 Years of Movie Memories. Classic movie film clips were projected onto waterfall screens set up on the lagoon at Universal Studios accompanied by music, color changing fountains, and fireworks! The show started at 9pm when the amusement park closed for the day.


We had spent hours at the park earlier in the day and then returned to our on-site hotel for a rest (and change of clothes after being drenched on the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride!). We returned to the park specifically so we could see the fireworks (and check this goal off my list!). Returning to the park fairly late was also the reason we were able to enjoy more of the displays in Diagon Alley. The cinematic/fireworks show was fantastic, although I didn't get any great photos since I was using my phone and was more concerned about taking it all in.


I decided to use the photo Robbie snapped of me before the show started for the page in my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 album.


Since I have this item checked off my list, we'll be having a nice quiet New Year's Eve here at home,  enjoying a steak dinner, snuggled up in front of the fireplace, nice and warm (despite the freezing temperatures outside), enjoying a movie and planning which items we'll check off my list next year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book Reviews

I received a copy of Playing Saint free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. This book focuses on Parker Saint, the up and coming pastor of large church and TV ministry. He is recruited by the police to help in the investigation of a series of murders where religious symbols are painted on the victims. The story is a battle between good and evil and involves a veteran detective determined to capture the murderer, three priests who are really secret operatives sent from the Vatican to search for a mysterious religious relic, and a rebellious nontheist pegged as the prime suspect in the case. I enjoyed the book and didn't see the plot twist that came late in the book and aided in the capture of the murderer. Along the way, Parker Saint rediscovers the sacrifice made on the cross and grows in his relationship with the Lord.

 
I received and read 41: A Portrait of My Fatherthe week it came out in early November and enjoyed this look at former President George H. W. Bush from the perspective of his son, former President George W. Bush.

I read book two of the Nancy Drew series and Robbie & I listened to books 3 & 4 during our road trip to Florida. We both enjoyed these wholesome mysteries and trying to solve the mystery on our own based on clues and foreshadowing in the books.

I enjoyed the second and third books in The Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast series as much as I enjoyed the first one. These chapter books about a young boy helping his grandmother run a Bed & Breakfast for aliens are just plain FUN reads.

 
Cannons at Dawn, a Dear America book, is the second diary written from the perspective of Abigail Jane Stewart, a young girl in Pennsylvania during the American Revolution. This book picks up shortly after The Winter of Red Snow, which I read earlier this year.

Dawn's Prelude was in my pile of books-to-read. I think I picked it up at a used book store a while back. This Christian fiction book was a quick and enjoyable read about a young woman who moves to Alaska to get away from her mean step-children after the death of the husband she was forced to marry at age sixteen.

I've read Gideon's Giftby Karen Kingsbury several times - it's a wonderful Christmas miracle story, so I checked out the audio book for us to listen to on the way home from Florida the day after Thanksgiving. It was the perfect start to the Christmas season.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cozy Christmas Scrapping

I've had FUN this month creating layouts using the Simple Stories Cozy Christmas collection for the Scrappin' Goodtime Design Team. This collection is perfect for scrapping lots of photos from a holiday event . . .

. . . or simply highlighting one special photo.

There are several papers that can be cut into 4x6 and 3x4 cards - perfect for use in pocket page scrapbooking or on traditional layouts.

I especially enjoyed combining the stickers and chipboard pieces to create embellishment clusters.

The photos on this layout were from last December - I'm happy to report that we have been having much better weather so far this year!

I also like that the stripes and dots and chevrons and plaids in this collection make it easy to use with non-holiday related photos.

As we celebrate Christmas Eve today, I hope you and your family are creating FUN memories and snapping great photos . . . that you can scrap in the new year, of course!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"FrouFrou & Whimsy" Decorations

Inspired by my success with the red & white display in the china cabinet, I decided to try a new arrangement on the mantel this year as well. I included several pieces of green glassware, along with pine cones and green and gold decorations. It's quiet a departure from my usual display of Santas or photos, a little more of what I call "froufrou" - a term I use to indicate something is fancy or showy or formal.

Since we did not put a tree in the toy room this year, I decided to display the Christmas village on the game shelves right outside the toy room . . . and let Robbie complete the display.

Look closely and you'll see that Robbie has quite the whimsical vignette here!



Did you notice Spiderman climbing out the church window (in the first photo)? How about Fred & Wilma Flinstone driving by (in the second photo)? Or Troy Aikman ready to throw a pass (in the third photo)?

I mentioned to Robbie that all these changes to our Christmas decorations made quite the eclectic display, and he dubbed this the "froufrou & whimsy" year. Here are a few more examples:

I put our new snowmen beside the fireplace . . .
. . . and Robbie put a leg lamp beside the TV!

I bought decorative Kleenex boxes and displayed my Monday flowers on the end table . . .

. . . and Robbie added a display of characters to the other end table! Not only is it FUN to look at, it's entertaining - when you press the rat's foot, he sings Jingle Bells . . . which causes the voice-activated Minion Dave to spout random minion phrases and the occasional "Ba-na-na!"

I set up the green Christmas tree (which we decorated together) . . .

. . . and Robbie found a spot for the Charlie Brown Christmas tree (which he decorated all by himself).

We're both enjoying the "froufrou & whimsy" throughout the house this year! How would you describe your Christmas decorations?

Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 Deep Cleaning/Decluttering/ Organizing/Redecorating - Bookshelves

While my two primary goals this year were to (1) focus on my health and (2) have FUN, I had also planned to declutter, organize, deep clean, and re-decorate each room/space in our home. While I did work in a few areas (the laundry room and hall closet) and we completed several major projects (updated the lighting in the front room & hallway, had the kitchen cabinets painted, and - although not planned - replaced the furnace & coil and added another return air and vent to our HVAC system),  I did not accomplish nearly as much as I had hoped and will be carrying this goal over to 2015.

However, this past weekend I did complete another project towards this goal by re-organizing and decluttering three sets of bookshelves. These shelves were not in terrible shape, but I've been wanting to get the books on these shelves into the books inventory spreadsheet I started when I rearranged the front room shelves last year. Over the past couple of years, these shelves have gotten a little haphazard as we've added in new books.


The paperback shelves in particular were so full, we were slipping books in anywhere they would fit.



I started with the smaller shelf unit that holds some of our children's/young adults series. After straightening and cleaning, I moved in another series that was on the overstuffed paperback shelf unit.


It took a good bit of time to inventory the books on the other children's/young adult bookshelf, but I'm excited to have it done. I also decided to donate the small figures on the bottom shelf and move the Minnie Mouse to the alcove in my craft room that holds other stuffed animals.


I saved the paperback bookshelf for last, but it actually went very quickly as many of these books were already on our books inventory list. It may be hard to see much difference in the before and after photos, but I'm thrilled to have this project complete.


And, yes, I did some decluttering along the way. Along with those small figures, I added these Noah's Ark decor items to the donation bag that will go to our local community outreach.


I also packed a box full of books to be sold at Half Price Books next time I'm over that way. The books pictured are all from the children's bookshelves, but I added five audio books and several paperbacks to it after I snapped the photo.


Did you have any decluttering/organizing goals for this year? How did you do?