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, May 28, 2014

Zoom In/Zoom Out #4 - Mama's Journaling

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It's been a while since I've joined in with Helena's Zoom In/Zoom Out meme, however I've enjoyed seeing lots of ZIZO photos and thought I'd share a pair of photos from the Mother's Day crop I hosted here at the house a couple of weeks ago (which I scrapped about here). First, a look at the zoomed in shot.


The thing I wanted to capture in this shot is the journaling! I've been encouraging Mama to add more journaling to her layouts, so I was excited that she added the story about this photo of her 8th grade graduation and signed her name like she did back in her school days. Here's the zoom out shot.


It's so much FUN to scrap with Mama! I especially enjoy when she scraps older photos and shares stories about them.


Click here to check out more Zoom In/Zoom Out photos.

Book Review - Tinkers

This year one of my goals is to read the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction and review them here on my blog. My latest finish is one of the more recent winners (2010) - Tinkers by Paul Harding.

This is the fourth Pulitzer Prize winner I've read this year . . . and by far my least favorite! The book intertwines the stories of George Washington Crosby and his father. George is an old man who is dying from cancer and his memories are interspersed with the hallucinations he is having during this time (like the house falling down around him). His father was a tinker (an itinerant tinsmith who mended household utensils) who also had epileptic episodes. In the midst of these two stories, the author randomly inserts short sections from a book on clock repair and brief conversations George has with the family who is gathered in preparation for his death.

I personally found the book to be extremely disjointed. I was several paragraphs (or pages) into some chapters before it became apparent who's point of view the author was writing from (as it changed from chapter to chapter), which made for slow, laborious reading. There are also long sections of description that seem to go on and on without really contributing to the story line or overall mood of the story. Honestly, it was easy to see the writer's talent in some of the poetic descriptions and the stream of consciousness perspective, however it just didn't all come together for me and left me wondering why it won a Pulitzer.

Have any of you read this book? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sketch Solutions 5

I used one of the bonus sketches in the BPC Sketch Solutions workshop as inspiration for today's layouts. The sketch had space for one 6x5 photo. This first layout follows the sketch fairly closely, with the addition of an embellishment cluster on the top left.


For my second layout, I mirrored the sketch design and used two 4x6 photos in place of the one larger photo and also included an embellishment cluster along the top edge.


I altered the photo size on the digital template of this sketch to fit a screenshot I wanted to include with the story. I also added an extra (white) background paper to help set off the journaling and photo.


The first layout uses a photo from 2010 and will go in our Family & Friends Library of Memories album. These last two layouts are stories and photos from this year and will go in our 2014 chronological album.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sketch Solutions 4

Lesson four in the BPC Sketch Solutions workshop contained a sketch using two 4x6 photos and the idea to use the mirror image of the sketch. For my first layout, I followed the sketch fairly closely. I like how this page came together using papers from my stash - the background is one I purchased a few months ago and the keys paper is one that's been in my stash for quite a few years!


I chose two more photos to create a layout in the mirror image of the sketch. When I was looking for letters for my title, I was disappointed that I didn't have just the right blue glitter letters for the word "length." Then I realized that a "3" would substitute nicely for the "e" and an upside down "u" could be used in place of the "n" - makes me happy when it all comes together in the end!


And once again I used some recent photos to create a layout with the digital template.


As we celebrate Memorial Day here today I am grateful for the freedoms we have and the men and women who serve and have given the ultimate sacrifice to insure that freedom!

Happy Memorial Day Y'all!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sketch Solutions 3

Today I'm sharing three more layouts created from a sketch in the BPC Sketch Solutions workshop. I didn't follow the sketch exactly in any of my layouts - the sketch called for one 5x7 photo and two 2x2 photos. In this first layout, I omitted the two smaller photos.



For my second layout, I turned the sketch a half turn and used an embellishment in place of one of the smaller photos. I didn't have a 5x7 photo, so I matted the main photo several times. I also moved the title to the side of the photo (rather than underneath it).



I used the digital template for a companion layout to the one I created on the first day of class. This time I added two additional smaller photos.



I'm feeling extremely productive this weekend! I doubt I can keep up this level of productivity throughout the 4-week workshop, but it's definitely FUN to have several days in a row to crank out some layouts! What are you up to this weekend?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sketch Solutions 2

Along with the 14 sketches and lessons that we'll be working through in the BPC Sketch Solutions workshop, we received 14 bonus sketches and digital templates. Yesterday I chose one of the bonus sketches to work with. I knew this would be a FUN sketch because it has room for six photos . . . and I have lots of photos still to scrap for our 10th Anniversary Cruise Albums.

Both of the layouts I created with this sketch showcase photos from our day in Cozumel. I have several pages in the album before these with journaling, so I simply added a title and/or my word cluster embellishments. I followed the sketch pretty closely for the first layout, then rotated it a quarter turn for the second layout.


I also used the corresponding digital template to create a layout with photos of the covered bridge in Cheri's hometown. My plan is to print an enlargement photo of the bridge to scrap on a traditional layout with journaling about this bridge.


Did you notice that I tried something new with this layout? (I used one of my photos as the background and decreased the opacity on it.) Can you tell I'm already enjoying this workshop and the sketches and digital templates? :>)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sketch Solutions 1

The Sketch Solutions workshop with Donna Jannuzzi started over at BPC yesterday. Every other day in this workshop, we'll receive a new sketch and a lesson in how to make the most of sketches. I was lucky to have most of the day to spend in my craft room and had so much FUN with the lesson one sketch, which utilizes one portrait and one landscape orientation photo.

This first layout shares a FUNny story that happened earlier this year. The two photos I had printed for this story seemed a little dark, so I chose lighter colors to help brighten up the layout.

Here's a closer look at the journaling. (Yes, I know there are two spelling errors - I fixed them before adding this layout to my album!)

The sketch lesson for the day was to simply rotate the sketch a quarter of a turn. I pulled two more photos, rotated the sketch, and recorded a story from the Play! in Anaheim event back in January.

I used a white gel pen to record the story on this dark journal card.

We're also receiving a digital layered template for each of the sketches in this workshop, and I've challenged myself to work on my digi skills and create a layout with each of the templates. I have a small stash of digital elements (most of which I've downloaded free over the past few years). Normally I just add my papers and photos to a digital template and call it done, but this time I included a border strip and some buttons, too.





I'm excited to begin this four week class and really like that I was able to complete three totally different layouts from just the first sketch! Are you signed up for this class?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Final Layouts for the "At Sea" Section

I'm putting our cruise albums together with the layouts sorted by theme or category, and today I'm sharing the final layouts for the section I've titled "At Sea" which showcase photos taken of the water and sky and horizon while we were at sea.

I used the front and back of a 12x12 divided page protector to include several photos of the open sea and sky.
Journaling reads: We enjoyed simply watching the water and sky and all the various shades of blue in both each day.

For these last two layouts, I used sketches from the PageMaps books as starting points.
Journaling reads: I don't know why it works the way it does, but watching the ship's wake fade away into the distance has such a calming effect.

I'm excited to be making progress on our 10th Anniversary Cruise Albums and am now working on completing the section about our day in Cozumel. What are you working on this week?

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Walking Dead

Today I'm sharing a recent layout that is a current favorite and was so much FUN to make! It all started with a funny photo of Robbie acting like a walker/zombie and the story of how he enjoys watching the TV show The Walking Dead. I knew Robbie had some extra trading cards that I could use as embellishments, and he didn't disappoint.


I had FUN with the background paper, adding mists and spritz in browns and red, forming slashes and drips.

And, of course, I added the story about Robbie and The Walking Dead.
Journaling reads: Robbie really likes The Walking Dead TV show, so much that he pretended to be a walker while I was setting up the tripod to take our photo together! Mama & Daddy watch the show, too, so the three of them always discuss the latest show when we're together. No walker/zombies for me though - I'd have nightmares!!

Do you watch The Walking Dead? Have you scrapped about your favorite TV shows?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Love Skip Jump - book review


I know you're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but those of you who stop by my blog frequently can probably guess why I chose the Love, Skip, Jump book as my most recent book from Booklook Bloggers. [I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.] Of course, the happy yellow color caught my attention first, and then I noticed that the title contained the word "skip"! (And y'all know skipping is one of the activities I've been enjoying during my FUN year!)

It turns out that it's a different type of skipping in this interesting read about serving God. The author, Shelene Bryan, shares about a trip she took to Africa and about the missionary organization she founded upon her return. She challenges individuals to serve God by following these three steps:
1. Love like God.
2. Skip something in order to give to someone who can never repay you. (For example, skip the extra large latte each day and donate that money to missions.)
3. Jump into action by saying Yes to God.

I had very mixed reactions to this book. At first the author came across as just a well off lady giving out small amounts of money (that made a huge impact in the impoverished region she visited). Then as the book progressed I began to see more of her heart for the Lord and giving of their excess. I was impressed with the fact that she set up a non-profit organization (Skip1) that encourages individuals to skip something and donate that money to kitchen building projects in other countries. However, when I went to the website (which is prominently advertised in the book), I was disappointed to see that the blog had not been updated in several years and the link to a "recent" kitchen completion was dated March 2012. There were some current projects listed on the website, however I questioned whether that information was updated and accurate. I clicked on the link to the organization's Facebook page and found all the recent posts to be advertisements for the book and the author's speaking schedule.

I did like the fact that the book contained lots of great lessons and reminders that we are to serve God and help those less fortunate than ourselves. I have worked with several missionary organizations over the years (and served on the Board of Directors for one), so I'm very familiar with how they work. I came away from this book with the impression that the original goals of the author and the organization (to build kitchens and eradicate hunger in impoverished areas) has been overshadowed by the author's speaking schedule and book promotion.

How do you choose which book you'll read next? Do you judge a book by its cover and/or title? Or do you make your choice based on a friend's recommendation or a summary of the book?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stashbusting Cruise Layouts

Today I have several layouts to share - all of these were created for our 10th Anniversary Cruise Albums and were inspired by challenges in the Stashbusters Anonymous workshop.

This first one uses scraps of paper to create a chevron pattern as part of the background of the layout. I also added some scattered sequins on this layout, then put a drop of glitter glue on top of each.


One of the elements that I'm continuing to add to the pages for our cruise albums is a small cluster of words. This is the one design element that I've used throughout these albums - a little something to tie all the miscellaneous layouts together.

Another challenge in the Stashbusters workshop encouraged us to use some of our metal embellishments. I used a large black metal frame around my title on this next layout.

I also added a metal brad in the word embellishment cluster.
Journaling reads: As Robbie was taking photos of the horizon, he would often tilt the camera to get a shot like this one. Then he'd say, "This is the one I snapped while I was falling overboard."

Here's another layout using metal brads and eyelets as a border above and below one of the photos.

This last layout today is one of my very favorites. I decided to try the sunburst challenge again, this time using washi tape!

I also used some small metal embellishments near the title and journaling blocks.

I'm putting our cruise albums together with the layouts sorted by theme or category. These layouts will all go in the section I've titled "At Sea" and (as you can see) showcase photos taken of the water and sky and horizon while we were at sea.

How do you organize the layouts in your vacation theme albums?

Monday, May 12, 2014

One Little Word - May

Before I looked at the May materials in Ali Edward's One Little Word class this month, I spent some time reviewing the previous months materials and reading through my OLW notebook. I decided to re-watch/listen to the videos for January through April while I was puttering with an artsy page I started months ago.

Way back in November, I tore a page out of a sketch pad, covered it with the leftover part of a chipboard punch out sheet, sprayed it with some mist, and then adhered bits of pieces of leftover materials from my craft table over the course of a few days. I really didn't know what I was going to do with the page, so I filed it away on a shelf and forgot about it.
 

When I pulled it out a few days ago, I first added a gesso whitewash over the entire page, however I really didn't like that look and added some yellow acrylic paint to  my gesso/water mixture and ended up with this background for a page.

I adhered cutout pieces to form a girl doll at the bottom of the page, then added letter stickers, writing, word stickers, and stamping to complete this page to add to my OLW album.

Then I started on the May class materials by filling out my reflections card for April.

The action item for this month was to get artsy and create nine mini-canvases with "I am" statements on them. I almost skipped this step since I'd just finished the art journal page, but I decided to go ahead with the prompt because Ali encourages us to try the things that are out of our comfort zone. I remembered that I had some of the Project Life cards that we blew colored bubbles on at the Play! in Anaheim event, so I pulled nine of those out to use for this project.

These cards are 3x4, so I started by cutting them down to 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 to fit in one of the nine-pocket page protectors we're using in our OLW albums. I pulled out some distress paints, a Simon Says stencil, and two little plastic pieces that Cheri gave me to use to add texture to mixed media projects.

I used the distress paint daubers with these stencils to add some color and texture to the cards. I think they turned out pretty good.

Well, actually my first attempt wasn't quite so good as I pressed a little too hard with the paint dauber and wasn't holding the stencil down firm enough! I had too much paint on my card, but I simply picked it up and let it run a little bit, then pressed the stencil back into the paint once it started to dry.

While the paint was drying, I pulled out some distress inks, alphabet stickers and StazOn ink to add the next layer.

I used the distress ink on the edges of the cards and stamped the words "I AM" in red on each card. I also gave the cards a spritz with Heidi Swapp's Gold Color Shine. I added some rub-ons and a few stickers to the cards as well.

And finally I added in my journaling and slipped the cards in a 9-pocket page protector.

I had a lot of FUN getting artsy this month and like the way these two pages look in my OLW album.

As I contemplated how I'm doing with my word this year, I feel great about my efforts to incorporate more FUN into my life and being more aware of opportunities to have FUN. My overall goal with this word was to have a genuine feeling of joy and happiness, and I'm thrilled to say that I'm successful most days. For the rest of the time, I simply need to remember Aly's reminder in the January class video that this is a year-long journey. I'm excited to see how FUN continues to manifest itself in my life as we prepare for summertime!

How do you feel about your efforts to incorporate your word into your life so far this year?