Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Christmas in July Card Class at Personal Scrapbook

Christmas cards are FUN to create at any time of the year. In fact, this year I even created some in January! However, July is always a favorite month to take time to think ahead to Christmas and prep a few cards. So, I'm excited to announce my newest Christmas card class scheduled for July 13 at Personal Scrapbook in Allen, Texas!

Christmas in July Card Class
  Thursday, July 13, 2017
10am-noon or 6pm-8pm

Join Melissa Gross at Personal Scrapbook for an all new Christmas card class!

We'll create four Christmas cards using cardstock, patterned papers, and die cuts. Plus Melissa will share tips for creating gift tags with the paper scraps.

Basic tool kit (trimmer, scissors, adhesive and pop dots) needed to complete class. Other supplies - chalking, stamping & distress inks in light browns/vintage photo.

Call Personal Scrapbook (972.351.8717) to sign up & reserve your spot today!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo - Catching Up

Wow, a  month has flown by since my last Monday Mail Memo post! How about a little catch up today!

First, there's been an abundance of happy mail. (1) Two DO-ER t-shirts I ordered from a great company called MakeMeAvailable. (2) A sweet note & gift, which I'll share more about later, from a new friend. Kelley is a registered dietician offering in-person and online services . . . and we are currently collaborating on an exciting new event that will be launching later this week! (3) A sweet card from my friend Darlene. (4) Some gelli plates and combs that Susie (owner of Scrappin' Goodtime) sent so I could prepare for last week's classes. (5) A couple of boxes of labels (also for last week's classes) and a new book, all from Amazon. (6) A hand-delivered box of chocolates from Lithuania, brought over by employees for the symposium put on by the company where Robbie is CFO/COO.

Another t-shirt also came in the mail - I won this one as part of a giveaway in the My Embraced Life Facebook group. It was so beautifully packaged!

Next, I've enjoyed teaching quite a few classes, sometimes wearing my new DO-ER shirt!

When I first met Jana Kennedy-Spicer (of Sweet To The Soul) and saw her Bible pages filled with creative lettering and doodles, I knew I wanted to collaborate on some illustrated Bible journaling classes. We taught two workshops at Personal Scrapbook earlier this month. It was so much FUN to co-teach and to see the enthusiasm for the Creative Lettering and Bible Journaling techniques we shared along with devotionals on mentoring and hospitality.

Last week, I spent three days at Scrappin' Goodtime in Corsicana and taught two workshops incorporating devotionals and a variety of painting techniques. It's such a joy to spend time in the Word with creative women!

And finally, there have been a couple of great family outings. I arranged a horseback ride for Mama's Mother's Day gift. It was a gorgeous day and we had a blast! This was the first time Mama's ever ridden a horse!

This past weekend we headed down to Southeast Texas to see my twin nieces in their dance recital. Paige was so lovely in her ballet, lyrical and tap dances, and Laurie was amazing in the clogging number! We were also able to spend time with my sister, brother-in-law, and Pun'kin (niece) and take my Daddy (who was also there to see the dance recital) out to eat for Father's Day. It was a really nice trip!

It's been a busy but FUN and ACTIVE time around here. Watch this space over the next few days for exciting news on what I'll be doing in the next few months!!

What's been going on around your place?

Monday, June 12, 2017

July Make A Joyful Noise Mixed Media Class at Scrappin' Goodtime

Announcing another brand new class coming to Scrappin' Goodtime in Corsicana, Texas, on Saturday, July 1 - a FUN mixed media project!

Make A Joyful Noise 
Mixed Media 12x12 Scripture Frame
 Saturday, July 1, 2017 (2pm-5pm)
Scrappin' Goodtime, Corsicana TX

In this class, you'll use a Clear Scraps Acrylic & Chipboard 12x12 frame to create a mixed media home decor piece using Illustrated Faith Bright and Brave papers and a variety of embellishments including doilies, lollies, ribbon, flowers and epoxy stickers. In addition, Melissa will be sharing a short devotional on Psalm 100.

Basic tools needed for class: paper cutter/scissors, adhesive, pop dots, glue dots. Optional: black chalk ink.

Call Scrappin' Goodtime (903.641.0855) today to reserve your spot
and join Melissa Gross for this 3-hour class merging art and faith!

Sunday, June 11, 2017


One of the admonishments to Christians in Romans Chapter 12 is to be "given to hospitality." We tend to think of hospitality only as entertaining, feeding, or housing visitors. Yet, Christian hospitality also encompasses HOW we welcome and serve our guests. In fact, the how is much more important than the what or the where. We are to serve graciously and with a heart of love, without complaining (1 Peter 4:9).

This page was traced with a pencil into my interleaved Bible from a coloring page in the Inspiring Women Soul Inspired
Bible Study. Micron pens, colored pencils, and watercolors were used to complete the image.

There are numerous examples of hospitality in the Bible, but my favorite is recorded in 2 Kings 4:8-10.

Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food. And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.”

The Shunammite woman began showing hospitality to Elisha by inviting him into her home for a meal. She recognized this man of God as well as his need of a place to stay when he passed through, so she convinced her husband to add a small room to their home -  I like to think of it as the very first guest room! Not only did they add a room, but they filled it with the things their guest needed - a bed, table lamp, and chair. Without asking anything in return, this couple showed true Christian hospitality!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

July Intro to Bible Journaling Workshop at Scrappin' Goodtime

I'm excited to announce my next Intro to Bible Journaling Workshop coming up at Scrappin' Goodtime in Corsicana, Texas, on July 1. Check out all the details below!

Intro to Bible Journaling Workshop
Saturday, July 1, 2017 (10am-12:30pm)
Scrappin' Goodtime, Corsicana TX

In this class, we’ll discuss the beginnings of Illustrated Faith Bible Journaling, why and how to use a Journaling Bible (or a Worship Journal if you prefer), supply tips and tricks, various journaling styles and techniques, and where to find inspiration for your illustrated journaling. Melissa Gross will share a devotional and we’ll take time to illustrate our faith in the margins of our Bibles.

This class is perfect for anyone new or just getting started with Bible Journaling, as well as those who have been journaling for a while but would like additional information and inspiration for illustrating in the margins (or across the whole page) of the Bible!

We will be working in a Journaling Bible, but feel free to bring any Bible and/or a journal to work in. The class fee includes an Illustrated Faith You Rule Bible Mat and Journaling Pen. Additional items needed to create will be provided.

Call Scrappin' Goodtime (903.641.0855) today to reserve your spot
and join Melissa Gross for this 2½ hour class merging art and faith!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A New Look

Last week I had lots of FUN taking photos to create a new banner and making changes to give this site an updated look! First, I created a mood board on Pinterest to pull together the colors, which (of course!) included a bright yellow.

Next, I wandered around the house pulling items in those colors and staged them on top of the projects shelf.

When Robbie arrived home with plenty of fresh flowers, I set to work taking lots of snaps.

Then I pulled my favorite into Photoshop Elements for a few edits!

It's been a couple of years since the last spruce up here at Daily Life - Bits & Pieces, so I'm excited to unveil the new look. What do you think?

(If you're viewing this post in a reader or email, be sure to pop over and check out the updated look HERE!)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Illustrating the Book of Esther

I've mentioned before that the Book of Esther is one of my favorite books in the Bible. There are several reasons I enjoy reading, studying and teaching on this book:

(1) All the elements of a great story are present - a hero, a heroine, a villain, a great plot, humor, irony, intrigue, suspense, etc.
(2) It's a short book - only 10 chapters.
(3) While the name of God is not mentioned at all, His hand is at work throughout this book, just as He is at work in our lives even when we can't see Him.
(4) There are lots of feasts and celebrations - who doesn't enjoy a good celebration, right!

In preparation for the illustrated Bible journaling workshops I taught a couple of weeks ago, I spent time reviewing this book and adding illustrations in my journaling Bible. (A couple of these pages were created previously, but I'm re-sharing as I go through the story here today.)

Setting the Stage - Chapter 1 sets the stage for this dramatic story, so I traced an image from a coloring page. The page was finished with Micron pens, colored pencils, and a clear Wink of Stella pen (to add shimmer to the curtains). The first feasts, hosted by King Xerxes, are found in this chapter.

One of the very talented ladies (Jan) who has attended several of my classes actually draws all the illustrations in her Bible. She gets lots of INSPIRATION from Pinterest, then draws and colors in her own illustrations, which she's graciously allowed me to share here.

Tough Being a Woman - My friend Minetta used the subtitle to Beth Moore's Esther Bible Study as a heading for this book.

Queen Esther - We first meet Esther in Chapter 2 - an orphan who has been raised by her cousin Mordecai. She is taken to the king's palace during a nationwide "beauty pageant" designed to help the king find a new queen. Amazingly, in the midst of everything, she found favor with all who saw her. I used the Creating in Faith Esther stamp in the margin of my Bible and filled it in with colored pencils before adding a short caption with a Micron pen.

In the display Bible at Scrappin' Goodtime, I covered the background of two pages with Pure Sunshine Dylusions Paint, then used stencils and gelatos to add subtle hearts and circles. For the left page, I added punched hearts, a piece of washi tape, and a paperclip tab. I used a marker to add my handwritten journaling list. For the right page, I again used the Esther stamp, which I colored in with markers and colored pencils. [Honestly I'm not thrilled with how Esther looks on this page, however I enjoyed once again reading and meditating on this story as I illustrated this page. Remember spending time in the Word is more important than how the page looks!]

One of my workshop participants, Jerri, cut a photo from a  magazine to use as INSPIRATION for Esther and it turned out fabulous. I also really like the way she used a border stamp as the header. Another class participant used that same stamp to create the valance for curtains on a page similar to mine setting the stage. I've had this stamp in my collection, but it has gone unused until now! I can't wait to try it on a page soon, too!

Jan drew another stained glass look for the page in her Bible introducing Queen Esther.

Haman's Plot - Esther's story takes a huge turn when Haman, the king's right-hand man, creates a decree that will annihilate the Jews - all because Modecai will not bow down to him! I added a few layers of torn washi tape to this page, but used most of the space for journaling the story in chapter 3.

Such a Time as This - Mordecai sends word to Esther in the palace that she  must petition the king for the lives of the Jews. There ensues a back-and-forth dialogue which ends with Esther agreeing to go in to the king despite the fact that she could be killed for entering his presence without being summoned. During that conversation, Mordecai reminds her that she may have come to the position of queen for "such a time as this." I used a purple gelato to create the background for my page, then added stamping, white letters stickers, and handwriting to complete the scripture.

Sorrow into Joy - Of course, God was in control and the Jews were saved, which called for a celebration. Some of you might recognize this page from the Scrappin' Goodtime display Bible as one of my not-so-stellar Bible journaling pages, however, as I took time to cut the banner pieces from patterned paper scraps and choose letter stickers for the wording, I was also thinking about God's provision and how often He has turned my own sorrow into joy.

For this page in my journaling Bible, I added a polka dot napkin because polka dots go with celebrations, right. Then I simply used letter sticker for the journaling.

The primary reason for the celebration of Purim is to remember how God saved the Jews from annihilation, so Jan's illustration at the end of the book is perfect!

Lessons - There are so many lessons in this short book! Minetta listed some of them in the margin of her Bible using a combination of handwriting, stamping and letter stickers.

I've obviously simplified and shortened Esther's story here in this blog post, and I hope you're inspired to take a fresh look at this dramatic book! Have you read and/or illustrated the book of Esther? Which part of Esther's story resonates most with you?

Friday, May 26, 2017

The ABCs of Reading That Work!

I consider myself an avid and ACTIVE reader. I read anywhere from 60 to 120 books a year, plus magazines, blogs, email newsletters, etc. I'm often asked how I read so many books, so when my sister Brenda sent me this blog topic . . .

I decided to put "reading" in the blank and share some thoughts and tips to encourage everyone to read more books!

Always have a book handy. I have books on the nightstand, books by the stationary bike, books on the end table, and ebooks on my phone.
Be brave and read from lots of different genres.
Challenge yourself. I'm currently about halfway through my goal to read all the Fiction Pulitzer Prize Winners.
Don't limit yourself to one book at a time. I recommend having several books going at once with the caveat that they are all different genres. Reading two fiction books with strong female protagonists at the same time can become confusing!
Exercising your brain through reading improves memory.
Fiction books are a great way to escape, to learn about various cultures, and to "visit" different places and time periods. In fact, I recently "visited" New England in 1914.

Girl Waits With Gun is the first in a series by Amy Stewart and is based on the true story of Constance Kopp, one of the first female deputy sheriffs in the early 1900s. Constance and her two sisters live on a farm outside of town. When their buggy is run down by a powerful silk factory owner, they are thrown into a dangerous situation as he and he gang begin to threaten them. With the local sheriff's help, Constance defends her family and finds that she enjoys helping fight crime. This was a really good quick read.

Go to book sales at schools and libraries for an inexpensive way to grow your book collection.
Hardback book are wonderful, but be careful when reading large heavy books in bed if you are prone to falling asleep while reading!
Informational books don't have to be read all at once. I'm slowly reading Home Comforts, one chapter at a time. This is a huge tome about the art and science of keeping house that I pick up occasionally and read a chapter or two.
Just a little time reading each day will help you reach the end of book.
Kindles are great for taking lots of books along on vacation!
Library book clubs are great places to discuss books with other readers. I enjoyed the discussion about Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. at the Noontime Pageturners book club meeting earlier this month.

This book is the true story of the mysterious life of Huguette Clark, the daughter of a wealthy copper industrialist, who was a recluse and spent the last twenty years of her life living in a hospital room despite the fact that there was nothing medically wrong with her. I found this story very interesting because it began with her father who was born in 1839 and made a fortune in copper mining in the late 1800s. After being widowed, he remarried a much younger woman and had two daughters. Huguette was born in 1906 and lived until 2011, so along with the story of the Clark family, this book covers a huge span of history. Interestingly Huguette was alive (and had tickets on the return voyage out of New York) when the Titanic sank and (living just a few miles away) when the World Trade Center towers fell in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

Magazines are the best reading material for bubble baths. They are relatively inexpensive and the pages don't take as long to dry if it's accidentally dropped in the bath water.
Non-fiction books are written about practically every subject under the sun. Look for books based on your interests, hobbies, travel plans, beliefs, etc.
Online reading is popular, but tangible books are a great excuse to get away from the screen for a while.
Paperbacks are the great for reading on the beach or at the park or out on the boat or . . . well, anywhere really!
Quotes can be pulled from books to help us remember the lessons or information we read. Recently I read Lysa TerKeurst's book The Best Yes, which is about making wise decisions and knowing when to say yes and when to say no to requests. When a new request or opportunity is presented, she encourages us to ask, "Could this fit in my life physically, financially, spiritually and emotionally?"

Here are a few of my favorite thought-provoking quotes from the book:
*We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.
*In God's plan, you've got a part to play. If you know it and believe it, you'll live it.
*The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul.

Re-read your favorite books! There will always be too many books and too little time to read them all, but perusing a favorite story is like visiting old friends. I enjoy reliving Corrie ten Boom's story in The Hiding Place and scheming with Scarlett to save Tara in Gone With the Wind again every few years.
Share books and recommendations with friends and family.
Tweens often have great book recommendations. In fact, I recently finished the books my 12-year-old twin nieces sent me as part of the monthly book swap my sister Brenda and I are enjoying this year.


The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop was a very cute & FUN book to read. The story involves twins who discover they have magical powers, a talking cat, a chocolate potion for immortality, and a secret organization that's tracking down the twins' evil uncle. Here's an interesting tidbit - the cat's name in this book is Demerara. I'd never seen this name before, so it took me a while to decide how it should be pronounced (even if it was only in my head while I was reading). I just assumed it was a made-up name for the story. However, a week or so later, I was reading Answers to Prayer (which I reviewed HERE) and I saw that word again. It turns out Demerara is a historical region in the Guianas on the north coast of South America which is now part of the country of Guyana.

Crater Trueblood and the Lunar Rescue Company is the third book in a triology. This story is set on and around the moon and involves a helium-3 miner (Crater Trueblood), the granddaughter of a wealthy and powerful family on the moon, a kidnapping, and a plot to destroy the earth. Another FUN read! And here's another interesting tidbit - I recognized the author's name because I read his memoir, Rocket Boys, several years ago. After building rockets as a young boy and working as a NASA engineer, Mr. Hickam is now an author of science fiction books!

Unraveling a good mystery can cause time to pass quickly!
Voldemort should not return! Sometimes authors and readers and publishers just can't let a good thing end and move on to a new story. This was certainly the case for the Harry Potter series as the seven books (and eight movies) covered all seven of Harry's Hogwarts years and had a wonderful ending. Voldemort was defeated and the series ended . . . until J.K. Rowling wrote another story.

The new story was actually released in script format (after its debut in London theaters) and picks up with Harry years later as a father of three. Harry Potter & the Cursed Child was a VERY quick read with lots of regurgitated or similar scenes from the previous books. In this story, Harry's son Albus is put in Slytherin along with his best friend Scorpius, Draco Malfoy's son. Voldermort's daughter uses a time-turner to try to save her father in this rather uninteresting script. (Although I admit it probably made a good play.)

Websites that share book reviews are worth visiting. I especially enjoy the What Should I Read Next podcast from Modern Mrs. Darcy.
Xeric environments are best for books.
Young adult books are great, don't disregard them simply because you're no longer a teenager. Robbie and I both recently completed the first three books in the new young adult series, Lois Lane, by Gwenda Bond.


As you might have guessed, the main character in this series is Lois Lane of Superman fame. These stories are set in present day. The first book starts out when a teenage Lois and her family move to Metropolis and she enters a new high school (again). She is determined to keep her curiosity under control and stay out of trouble, but (of course) finds herself in the midst of a mystery involving several other students and a company experimenting with questionable uses for virtual reality game technology. By the end of the story, Lois has uncovered the truth behind the company's research, made new friends, and become part of a group of junior reporters working for the Daily Planet. Oh, and she has an online friend who calls himself Smallville Guy!

The next two books continue to follow Lois as she and her friends track down stories, navigate the nuances of teenage friendships, and occasionally find themselves in dangerous situations. She continues to interact online with Smallville Guy and they eventually meet in person in the third book. Very enjoyable reads!

Zzzzzs can be optional when you're at a critical point in a book. Sometimes you just have to keep reading to see what happens!