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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

May Top Five - National Scrapbook Day 2015

As part of my year of INSPIRATION, I am challenging myself to scrap my Top Five (photos or stories or events) from each month. I am currently working on my May layouts and am using INSPIRATION from the Scrapping Everyday Miracles Birthday Mini Crop challenges for these pages.

Challenge #2 was to create a layout using a row or column or diagonal on the Tic-Tac-Toe board provided. I chose the center column which dictated that I use (1) die cut or chipboard, (2) patterned paper, and (3) buttons.

(1) I used my Cricut to die cut letters for my title.


(2) I created a background for my two-page layout using four patterned papers.


(3) I chose buttons as embellishments for the flower centers.


I used eight photos (plus two small circle-punched photos) along with two Project Life journal cards to tell the story of this FUN day!


While I'm sure I would have used patterned paper on this layout anyway (right!), without this challenge I might not have considered adding the button embellishments (which I really like) or taken the time to die cut my title, so I'm really glad I decided to try the challenge because this is such a happy layout! Have you tried any scrapbooking challenges lately?

Monday, September 21, 2015

INSPIRATION A to Z (I - Immersion)

This post is the ninth in a blog series where I’m exploring various aspects of INSPIRATION. When I chose INSPIRATION as my word for this year, my first thoughts were about finding, acting on and (in some cases) limiting INSPIRATION. I also knew I wanted this word to motivate me not only in my scrapbooking and crafting but also in my physical, spiritual and intellectual goals. During my FUN year last year, I published a two-week series entitled Where Does My Inspiration Come From?, which looked at the many different sources of INSPIRATION specifically for scrapbook layouts. However, in this series, I’ll be sharing a word for each letter of the alphabet (from A to Z) that relates to INSPIRATION along with my random and in-depth thoughts on that word and the various ways it relates to INSPIRATION in our lives.

I is for Immersion

Immersion is defined as "deep mental involvement" and "complete involvement in some activity or interest." It's also "a method of learning a foreign language by being taught entirely in that language" and "instruction based on extensive exposure to surroundings or conditions that are native or pertinent to the object of study."

I've read that the best way to learn a new language is through cultural Immersion - "the process of becoming familiar with a culture by extensive questioning and by active participation in the life of the culture." While this sounds fascinating, I cannot imagine totally immersing myself in a culture where I don't speak the language or understand the differences in traditions and lifestyle. It seems rather scary to me. 

I began thinking about the link between Immersion and INSPIRATION because of the two Canvas.net courses I participated in focusing on the writing life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've shared about these courses several times over the past year (most notably HERE and HERE), and I realize how by immersing myself in the study of this topic, I found INSPIRATION for additional reading, discussions with friends and family, and places to visit on our travels. Because of my "deep mental involvement" in the subject, I have a much greater understanding and appreciation for Laura Ingalls Wilder as an individual and as a writer. 

In summary,  Immersion is a great tool for learning new things and it provides INSPIRATION for additional learning or activities. And the INSPIRATION for Immersion could come from a need to learn something quickly or in-depth.

What have you immersed yourself in lately? Please share your thoughts on Immersion and INSPIRATION in the comments. 

Click HERE to see all my INSPIRATION A-Z posts, or click a letter below to see individual posts.

A(Art)   B(Baking)   C(Creativity)   D(Drawing)
E(Experiences)   F(Finishing)   G(Goals)   H(Hiking)
I(Immersion)   J(Journaling)   K(Knowledge)
L(Learning)   M(Movement)   N(Nurturing) 
O(Organization)   P(Planning)   Q(Quiet)   R(Reading)
S(Style)   T(Teaching)   U(Upcycle)   V(Vacation)
W(Work)   X(Xciting)   Y(Yuletide)   Z(Zzzzzs)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

May Top Five - Meeting Karen

As part of my year of INSPIRATION, each month I am challenging myself to scrap my Top Five (photos or stories or events) from the previous month, although I am quite behind on this goal. However, this week I am using INSPIRATION from the Scrapping Everyday Miracles Birthday Mini Crop challenges to get some of my Top Five scrapped.

Challenge #1 was to create a layout using a "recipe" based on your birth date. The number of photos, types of supplies and techniques are determined by the month, day and year of your birth. Based on this FUN formula, here are the "ingredients" for my layout.

Three Photos - Because my birthday is in July, I needed three photos, which I printed here at home . . . well, one of them is actually a collage of three photos. I also pulled a piece of memorabilia that went along with this story.


A Base & Two Patterned Papers - The directions were to start with the papers and a title, but since I like to pull colors from the photos, I started there, then pulled a white cardstock base and two patterned papers from my stash. I already knew I wanted my title to be "Meeting Karen."


Buttons & Stickers - My birth date dictated that I use buttons and stickers as embellishments. I pulled a small assortment of items, although I ended up not using them all. I did use the yellow flowers (stickers), one of the purple labels (sticker), and six of the buttons.


Inking & Misting - Because I was born in the 60s (at the very end!), I needed to include inking and misting techniques on my page. I inked the edges of all my papers and used spray mist on a couple of scrap pieces of cardstock. I printed my title onto one of those pieces.


I printed my journaling for this layout from this post and set to work incorporating all these various pieces onto one page. I ended up with a grid-type design and three embellishment clusters with the yellow flower stickers and buttons.


I'm absolutely thrilled with the way this layout turned out and enjoyed the INSPIRATION provided by this Birthday Recipe challenge!


This is my second time to join in with a challenge at Scrapping Everyday Miracles. The first was when I used the August sketch for my Little Green Arrows layout. I'm excited to announce that I was chosen as one of the Top Three entries for August . . . AND I was chosen by the random number generator as the prize winner for the month! Check out the happy mail prize package that I received this week!!


There are six challenges posted over at Scrapping Everyday Miracles open until the end of the month. I'm planning to try a few more this week. Anyone want to join me?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday INSPIRATION & To Do List


After a very busy week, I began this gray rainy Saturday with a yummy breakfast in bed! (Yes, Robbie does spoil me despite the fact that he had a full week, too.) Then we headed out and took care of a couple of errands before settling in for an afternoon of puttering here at home.

I had a huge list of things I need to get done and things I want to do and INSPIRATION I hope to act on running around in my head, so I decided to create a FUN list of all those things. I numbered and color coded the list, interspersing the four types of items:
     1-Blogging (here on my blog & guest posts)
     2-Design Team & Scrapbook-for-Hire project work
     3-FUN Scrapbooking & Challenges
     4-Miscellaneous items.
My goal is to complete this list by next Saturday, and I'll be sharing my progress and completions with y'all along the way.

What are you up to this Saturday? What's on your list of things to accomplish over the next week?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Art Play Print Canvas

The new AdornIt Art Play Prints are so much FUN!


These 12x12 papers have great quotes and are perfect for creating home decor pieces! After painting my canvas, I tore the quote from the Craft Room Display paper, inked the edges, and added it to the center of my canvas. I used a paint dauber to add the blue circles on the canvas.


I cut the yellow banner from the top and bottom of the AdornIt paper, adhered one strip to the canvas, then layered the second strip over it with pop dots. The addition of some buttons and small colored pencils completed the canvas, which is now on display at Scrappin' Goodtime!

Friday, September 11, 2015

It's A Mystery

Scrolling down my list of Books Read, I noticed that I've read a lot of mysteries this year, most of them part of a series. I enjoy these series because they are typically quick, light reading. I've also noticed that each series has its own set of circumstances that reoccur from book to book.

A Scrapbooking Mystery

   

I finished the final three books in the Scrapbooking Mystery series that I began last year. These easy-to-read murder mysteries are set in modern day New Orleans and center around Carmela Bertrand, a French Quarter scrapbook store owner, and her friend Ava Grieux, owner of the Juju Voodoo Shop. The stories and mysteries intertwine with scenes and details of scrapbook projects Carmela is creating and classes she's teaching at her store.

Somehow Carmela (and often Ava, too) is the first person to discover the murder victim . . . in the back alley behind her shop or in a church or even tumbling in a dryer at a party in the Garden District. And at some point in most of the stories, Carmela and Ava venture off into a rural area outside New Orleans where they encounter dangerous people and situations. There's almost always a big rain storm, some type of costume party, and at least one visit to Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets! Scrapbooking tips and recipes are included at the end of each book.

I really enjoyed this series, although the last book in the series was not as well written as the others. This may be because there was a co-author. It seemed to me that some of the main individuals acted out of character in the last book, which was slightly jarring after I felt that I'd come to know them and their quirks from the previous ten books.

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories


Robbie and I enjoy listening to the Nancy Drew Mysteries audio books, so we picked up book 7 before heading out for our trip to Niagara Falls earlier this year. The narrator of these audio books, Laura Linney, does a fantastic job. We both enjoy these books, but often chuckle at some of the predictable scenes - boating accidents (luckily Nancy is a strong swimmer), flashlight batteries going dead at inopportune moments, Nancy's father being out of town and unreachable, and Nancy's always receiving a gift that will remind her of the adventure. We enjoy the foreshadowing in the books and try to solve the mystery along the way, too.

I didn't realize until recently that Carolyn Keene is actually a pseudonym for a variety of authors who wrote these books in the 1930s and 40s. The books that we are reading/listening to are actually the versions that went through a re-writing/revision process in the late 1950s that shortened the books, gave Nancy more feminine and less assertive characteristics, and (somewhat) eliminated racists stereotypes. I believe her character was changed again in the later books, The Nancy Drew Files, which I have not read.

Trixie Belden

   
   
   

I began reading and collecting Trixie Belden books when I was in elementary school. I recently began re-reading this series as part of my goal to re-read all my Children's/Young Adult books, and I'm currently on book number 10.

Trixie Belden, aspiring detective, is 13-years-old when the series begins. She and her best friend, Honey Wheeler, are neighbors who often find themselves in mysterious situations. Trixie's three brothers and Honey's adopted brother Jim, along with their friend Di Lynch, are other main characters in these light, easy-to-read mysteries. Once again there are a few similar events in many of the stories - the kids forget to exercise the Wheeler's horses and worry that the groom will get upset and threaten to quit, Bobby (Trixie's 6-year-old brother) gets lost or wanders off when the others get involved in solving a mystery or working on a project, Mart (Trixie's brother who's almost like a twin because they are only 11 months apart) can always figure out what Trixie is up to even when she's trying to keep it a secret, and the club they formed (Bob-Whites of the Glenn) is able to help someone in need.

I'm really enjoying re-reading these books and especially like the fact that the mysteries do not all involve some sort of crime (although some do). Sometimes the mystery is simply a matter of Trixie's imagination running wild because she encounters something she didn't know about before . . . like the old man living in a cabin way back in the woods in the midst of Mr. Wheeler's game preserve - he wasn't a poacher, as Trixie imagined, but had lived there for years and owned a small piece of the property that he was not willing to sell to Mr. Wheeler.

There are several editions of these books, which were written between 1948 and 1986. (The photos above are the newest Random House editions.) There are 39 books in the series, plus several additional Trixie Belden themed books. I own the Oval Paperback Editions, 25 of the 34 stories that were issued in this edition, plus the two mystery quiz books. As I was looking up information for this blog post, I found this great website with lots of information about the series and a synopsis of each book.


One thing I noticed as I've been reading these books again was a slight shift in the writing style and personalities of the characters beginning with book seven. I did some research and learned that the first six books were written by Julie Campbell, but the remaining books were written by various authors using the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny. I'm looking forward to continuing this FUN light reading throughout the fall.

Please share your favorite mystery series in the comments and let me know if you've read any of the ones I've shared about today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Gifts-In-A-Jar


I have a new post up on the Scrappin' Goodtime blog today, sharing decorating ideas for gifts in a jar using the new Pebbles Harvest collection. Check it out HERE!

Do you give gifts-in-a-jar? Please share your favorite recipe or jar decorating idea in the comments.

Monday, September 7, 2015

INSPIRATION A to Z (H - Hiking)

This post is the eighth in a blog series where I’m exploring various aspects of INSPIRATION. When I chose INSPIRATION as my word for this year, my first thoughts were about finding, acting on and (in some cases) limiting INSPIRATION. I also knew I wanted this word to motivate me not only in my scrapbooking and crafting but also in my physical, spiritual and intellectual goals. During my FUN year last year, I published a two-week series entitled Where Does My Inspiration Come From?, which looked at the many different sources of INSPIRATION specifically for scrapbook layouts. However, in this series, I’ll be sharing a word for each letter of the alphabet (from A to Z) that relates to INSPIRATION along with my random and in-depth thoughts on that word and the various ways it relates to INSPIRATION in our lives.

H is for Hiking

Hiking is defined as "walking for a long distance, especially across country or in the woods" and "walking or marching a great distance, especially through rural areas, for pleasure, exercise, military training, or the like." 


I find that simply being out in nature often provides INSPIRATION and ideas. It is so refreshing to be outdoors, soaking up the sunshine, and feeling a rush of endorphins. When Robbie and I were living in East Texas, both working full-time jobs and taking full-time college course loads, we would occasionally load up our books and a picnic lunch and head out to a local state park. We still spent our time studying, but it seemed more like a relaxing weekend break when we were able to  go hiking beside the lake for a little while before spreading our books and papers out on a rustic picnic table to do some studying.


I believe the reason it's so easy to find INSPIRATION in nature is that we are in the midst of what our Creator made in the beginning. He took a blank canvas ("the earth was without form, and void" Genesis 1:2) and fashioned a beautiful world for us to live (and go hiking) in! So, it is also important to remember that we must respect nature and be careful when we are Hiking.  We can choose to leave a positive or negative mark on this world by our actions.



Hiking was my INSPIRATION for getting fit & losing weight last year. My goal was to hike to the top of a mountain in the Canadian Rockies on my 45th birthday in July. That goal provided the INSPIRATION and motivation to eat healthy and to exercise regularly. I was focused on that goal and the "deadline" (my birthday). I planned our trip around the idea of hiking, and many of you will recall that I accomplished that goal and checked that item off my list of 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50

Unfortunately, without a set goal and the INSPIRATION it provided, I have not done as well this year with my fitness goals. I've struggled with maintaining a regular exercise routine and have not done as well with my eating habits since I quit tracking my consumption each day. Over the past month or so, I have been working to refocus on these healthy living goals. I even changed my desktop background so that it would be a reminder of that FUN hiking trip last year. (And I'm contemplating planning another hiking trip for added INSPIRATION!)


In summary,  Hiking can be the INSPIRATION to accomplish a goal or remain physically fit. Hiking and being out in nature also provide INSPIRATION for many other areas in our lives.

Have you done any Hiking lately? Please share your thoughts on Hiking and INSPIRATION in the comments. 

Click HERE to see all my INSPIRATION A-Z posts, or click a letter below to see individual posts.

A(Art)   B(Baking)   C(Creativity)   D(Drawing)
E(Experiences)   F(Finishing)   G(Goals)   H(Hiking)
I(Immersion)   J(Journaling)   K(Knowledge)
L(Learning)   M(Movement)   N(Nurturing) 
O(Organization)   P(Planning)   Q(Quiet)   R(Reading)
S(Style)   T(Teaching)   U(Upcycle)   V(Vacation)
W(Work)   X(Xciting)   Y(Yuletide)   Z(Zzzzzs)