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.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Musings - Two Languages

Item number 16 on Rinda's Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt is a sign in a language other than English. I've already shared my find for this item (a sign that we found on our trip to Banff earlier this summer), however I just had to share another sign that I think works perfectly here, too.


This banner hangs near the front door of our home, and Robbie says it should actually count for TWO languages - Hebrew and Southern! The Hebrew word shalom means peace and is also used to convey hello and goodbye. Of course, y'all is a contraction of the words you and all. Being born and raised in the American South, I was surprised to learn that most of the rest of the world didn't use this wonderfully convenient contraction. In fact, I don't believe Robbie's ever used it despite the other Southern tendencies he's developing after being here in Texas for over 18 years.

Robbie bought this banner for me in the gift shop at an exhibit of Treasures From The Holy Land that was on tour here in Dallas the year we moved into our home. I love the juxtaposition of this Hebrew word that's used 200 times in the Bible with a word that's commonly believed to have originated right here in the United States - one nation under God.

Shalom Y'all!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

August Book Reviews

August was a good reading month for me! With temperatures in the high 90s most days, I've enjoyed spending time indoors and have devoured several books in the past few weeks.

 

Many of you know that Robbie and I enjoy watching professional football games, so with the football season gearing up here I chose Sidelined (which I received free in exchange for an honest review) as my latest book from Booklook Bloggers. This book is the story of Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts during the 2012 football season. Chuck Pagano was the new head coach for the Colts that year, and three games into the regular season, he was diagnosed with acute leukemia and immediately admitted to the hospital to begin chemo treatments. He was able to keep in touch with the coaches and players through texts, emails, and phone calls during his treatment and recovery . . . and he was in full remission and on the sidelines coaching again for the last regular season game. He stresses that his priorities are faith, family and football - in that order. However, the book's primary focus is on football and the fantastic comeback season the Colts had, juxtaposed with Pagano's fight with cancer and the overwhelmingly strong support that resulted in the CHUCKSTRONG foundation which raised tons of money for cancer research. I enjoyed the book as it is well written and easy to read (I finished it in an afternoon) and would recommend it for those who enjoy football and/or stories about overcoming adversity.


After reading some of my book & movie reviews earlier this month, Cheri and Rinda both recommended Divergent as a book and/or movie I might enjoy. They were right! This book is the first in a trilogy and is similar to The The Hunger Games Trilogy because it's set in the future when a new form of society has developed. In this case, everyone is divided into five factions (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Erudite Dauntless) that each serve a specific purpose. Beatrice, the main character, must choose a faction now that she is sixteen-years-old. The test that everyone her age takes is supposed to reveal which faction they should be in, however her test is inconclusive making her a divergent. She must keep this secret as divergents are considered dangerous to the faction system. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am waiting for the remaining two books to come out in paperback. Robbie and I also watched and enjoyed the movie - it's a well done adaptation of the book, with a few changes for length and cinematic effect. I highly recommend the book and movie.


I was on the library waiting list for a while before I finally got a copy of  Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This book has been on my to-read list since my sister mentioned that it was one of my niece Laurie's favorite books. This is a fantastic story of a 10-year-old boy with multiple face and head deformities who is entering school for the first time. Auggie is an intelligent boy who has a great sense of humor (especially about his deformities). Each section of the book is told from a different point of view and reveals how some kids can be so cruel (for example, by instigating a game called The Plague that spreads the rumor that if anyone touches Auggie they will get a disease like him), while others are compassionate and accepting (like Summer who befriends him on the first day of school by sitting with him at lunch when no one else wanted to be near him). Along with Auggie, there are quite a few memorable characters in the book - Jack, the boy who initially befriends him because the principal asked him to, but who eventually becomes a true friend; Olivia, Auggie's sister who has spent her life being understanding of the fact that her parents must give Auggie more attention and watching other people stare or be repulsed by Auggie's appearance; Justin - Olivia's boyfriend, who sees boys taunting Auggie and puts a stop to it without letting Auggie know about it; Miranda, Olivia's friend who has loved Auggie like a brother since he was a baby. The actions of Auggie's classmates during an overnight trip are a highlight of the book. I highly recommend this book for everyone!


I know it's been said that we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but it was the happy cover of The Cherry Cola Book Club that caught my eye as I was perusing the new books shelf at the library. A room with yellow walls, bookshelves, colorful chairs, and sunflowers totally made me smile . . . and then I noticed that it was a story about a library book club! I read this FUN easy-to-read book in one day and thoroughly enjoyed the story of how the librarian in a small town saved the public library from being struck from the town's budget despite the local politician's insistence that it served no purpose!


I first read The Artist's Way several years ago, but pulled it out again last week to re-read as I was thinking about trying to incorporate more inspirational outings into my schedule this fall. This book is designed to help artists of all kinds (writers, painters, directors, sculptors, etc) get unstuck or out of a creative rut. Two main tools are introduced at the beginning of the book - Morning Pages (three pages of stream of consciousness writing each day) and Artist Dates (what I refer to as inspirational outings). Each chapter also ends with suggestions for things to do or write about or think about or sometimes even things not to do! I definitely recommend this book if you haven't read it before.

Was August a good reading month for you?  Do you have any recommendations for books I should add to my to-read list for this fall?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Covered Bridge Stamp

I don't remember ever seeing Northwoods Rubber Stamps until we were wandering through a scrapbook store in Canada last month and both noticed a display of stamped images that had been colored or painted and then enhanced with glitter. The images were mostly scenery and wildlife, and I immediately wanted to do something similar. Robbie bought me a wonderful scenery stamp with a covered bridge on it, and last week I finally put it to use.


After stamping the image, I filled it in with colored pencils. I know lots of cards makers and stampers use alcohol markers or watercolor pens for these types of images, but I haven't yet invested in those things and am happy to play along with my colored pencils for now. Then I added green glitter for dimension and emphasis on the leaves.


Although my final result doesn't compare to the samples we saw, I'm very pleased with this first effort. I checked out Northwoods Rubber Stamps website and there are tons of great examples there along with some tips for coloring.

I already had plans for this first covered bridge image, so I set to work creating a layout with photos from our May trip to Pennsylvania. This layout will be the companion page to the digital layout I created about Cheri's covered bridge.



I can definitely see myself using this stamp for cards and art journaling, and I'll also be playing around with adding glitter and stickles to more images. Do you use scenery stamps? Have you added glitter to your colored images? Please share inn the comments how you use these stamps and any additional tips you have for adding dimension and interest to colored images.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I've Been Stamping & Coloring

It's been a while since I took time to color a stamped image, but I couldn't resist the cute Lily Rose stamp set that came with Issue 126 of Papercraft Inspirations magazine (which Robbie picked up for me earlier this summer). I stamped the Lily Rose image and filled it in with colored pencils, added a double mat, and used it to create a cute card.


I included the duck and sentiment stamp on the second image and used it on a card as well.


I was having so much FUN, I even stamped & colored on the envelope.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Zoom In/Zoom Out #7 - Along The Way

It's amazing the things you notice along the way when traveling, especially if you're on the lookout for items on a scavenger hunt list or that would make good zoom in/zoom out photos! I'm joining in with Helena today to share photos I snapped last month at a rest stop along the highway somewhere between here and Ohio.

The gardens around the restroom/concessions building were beautiful. This lavender crepe myrtle caught my eye, but as I looked closer . . .


this single blooming rose made me smile!


Do you find that these FUN memes make you more observant in your travels?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blogging and Scrapbooking

I can't tell you the exact date that I started scrapbooking because it's something I've been doing for as long as I can remember, however I can tell you the date that I started blogging - March 22, 2010. For me, these two activities go hand in hand. Scrapbooking is a way for me to preserve our memories, a place for photos and journaling and memorabilia (and pretty paper and embellishments, too, of course!).

Similarly, I started my blog with this introduction: Hi! I'm Melissa and I've created this blog as a place where I can share what's happening in my life, post photos (including my latest scrapbooking pages), and ramble about books I'm reading, stuff I'm organizing, and fun classes I'm taking. In essence, blogging and scrapbooking are both activities that allow me to share and preserve our stories.


Last week as I was reviewing the materials in Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers class (as part of my goal to review all paid for scrapbook classes), I was also thinking about this recent comment from Ann:
Thanks for sharing. Your blog posts are awesome. I often think I need to blog and then just never seem to find the time. I do have the inspiration that I would love to share but just can't figure out a way to get motivated. Any tips on how you got started and why you blog would be awesome. Thanks again.
I started blogging shortly after I discovered online classes and realized that it would be a great way to share my scrapbook layouts as well as a place I could share about the things going on in my life. I had missed the initial live run of Shimelle's class, but I signed up and worked through the materials on my own and discovered similar blogs through the message boards in that class as well as classes I was taking at BPC.

My best tip for getting started is to simply start. Write a post, publish it, then write another one . . . and have FUN! I wrote 17 posts before I received my first comment, but it didn't matter to me because I was already enjoying the writing and planning and learning (how to upload & format photos, schedule posts, include links, etc) so much that I was hooked. Of course, the social aspect of blogging has been a huge part of why I continue to blog - the relationships and friendships I've developed have enriched my life and enhanced my enjoyment of scrapbooking.

Occasionally,  my motivation to blog wanes, sometimes because life gets busy, sometimes because I'm not inspired to write or don't feel like I have anything to share. In fact, last year I took the entire month of July off from blogging . . . and was ready to jump back in after that break. Sometimes, I pre-plan posts for a little while ahead because I know life is going to be busy, and other times (like this month) I blog every day because there's just so much I want to record and share.

As I contemplated all these things, I came up with a list of reasons why I continue to blog:
(1) I like having a place to record what's happening in my life, share scrapbook pages, review books and online classes, etc . . . the same reasons I set out when I first started blogging!
(2) The friendships formed with other bloggers around the world & the comments left on my blog totally make my day. As an added bonus, I've actually met some of my blog friends in person! The built in interaction between bloggers (writers, readers, comments, emails, etc) is like going to a crop to scrap together with friends.
(3) I enjoy the writing and editing.
(4) I'm a huge proponent of lifelong learning, and with blogging I'm continually learning new things when there are changes to the Blogger platform or I have to set everything up in a new blog reader, for example. I also learn new things from the blogs I read and have a place to share new things I learn.
(5) The blog is a record of my life. At the end of each year, I print my blog posts and bind them into a book.
(6) It's FUN!

Now after almost 4 1/2 years and close to 1000 posts, I still blog for the same reasons as when I started . . . and after almost 40 years of scrapbooking, I still enjoy adhering pictures and memorabilia onto paper! There have been changes to the way I scrapbook and preserve my memories (no more acidic scrapbooks and lots more patterned paper!), however I'm happy and willing to adapt and try new things because my motivation remains the same.

I'd appreciate it if you'd share in the comments about when you started blogging and/or scrapbooking and what motivates you to continue. And if you have an extra minute, stop by and read Ann's first blog post as she joins the world of blogging!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Jamaica

As I was strolling through the Oscar de la Renta Five Decades of Style exhibit last week, I enjoyed the wide variety of styles and color combinations that represented the range of fashions created by Mr. de la Renta throughout his career. I didn't once stop and think that the diverse displays seemed mismatched or incompatible or uncoordinated. It was simply a wonderful representation of wide-ranging styles created over a period of many years influenced by an assortment of inspiration.

And that's exactly how I think of my scrapbooks. It doesn't matter to me if my pages are not all coordinated or if two layouts that are side by side in the album have contrasting colors. The pages are meant to be a representation of our life and memories, our wide-ranging activities with a myriad of stories in the mix. This selection of layouts that I created last week definitely showcases that type of variety. These layouts complete the Jamaica section of our 10th Anniversary Cruise Album.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It is so much FUN to scrapbook with lots of colors and patterns and embellishments to create unique and varied layouts! And I doubt anyone flipping through my albums will be bothered by the fact that none of them match.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

An Inspirational Outing

I'd seen several ads for a special exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and thought it would make a great inspiration outing, so last Tuesday morning I headed into Dallas to check it out.


The exhibit showcased designs by Oscar de la Renta over the past five decades. Since I had arrived early, there was plenty of time to read all the signs and take lots of photos. The exhibit began with a welcome video from former First Lady Laura Bush and  a display with two of her outfits designed by Mr. de la Renta. I enjoyed seeing the photos that accompanied the displays and was reminded of the exhibit of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's outfits during the presidential years that I saw in New York years ago (but that's a story for another day).



There was a nice variety of designs and various quotes from Oscar de la Renta about what inspires him throughout the exhibit.










The thing I appreciated most about seeing these outfits in person was noting all the detailing and texture on each one. I think when we only view these creations on TV, these niceties are often hard to see.



I doubt I'll be inspired to begin designing and creating my own clothes, however I think lots of the color and texture combinations would make great scrapbook papers!





It was also interesting to see a few of the original sketches with pieces of sample materials attached.


However, my favorite part of the exhibit was the room that showcased outfits worn by three former First Ladies - Laura Bush,


Hillary Clinton,


and Nancy Reagan (who's worn Oscar de la Renta creations since the 1960s).


I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit and came away with the feeling that Mr. de la Renta has spent his life doing something he not only excels at but that he also truly enjoys.


I was definitely inspired to get back into my craft room after this outing and completed several layouts last week, including this digital two page spread about the exhibit.