Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Stitch Fix Wardrobe Updates

It's been a while since I received a Stitch Fix and several years since my first Fix. With all the decluttering we've done this year, I decided to sign up for regular Fixes for a few months in order to update my wardrobe, and I've been pleasantly surprised with each box. I haven't taken photos of everything I've kept, but here are a few of my favorites.

I liked this long-sleeve sweater when I pulled it out of the box ... until I saw the brown elbow patches. I wasn't sure if it would fit in my wardrobe; then I realized the patches matched my brown boots (although the photo doesn't show it well). The sweater and the jeans were two of the items I kept from a Fix early in February. I wore this outfit for one of my teaching engagements and it was extremely comfortable.

As we moved in to spring here in Texas, I was excited to receive some FUN items in my last Fix. I'm already enjoying these capris (they are so comfortable!) and am sure this light weight blouse will be a favorite throughout the spring and summer.

But my favorite item so far is this pair of FUN Keds!

Have you tried Stitch Fix?

(If you'd like to give Stitch Fix a try and link from my post, you'll receive a $25 credit toward your first Fix and I'll earn a $25 credit as part of their referral service! However, I haven't received any incentive from Stitch Fix for this post.)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Take Three Thursday | Decluttering

We've been doing lots of organizing and decluttering lately!

We typically donate items to our local community outreach (2 boxes & 3 bags recently) and sell used books to Half Price Books (1 medium bin-full last month) and recycle as much as possible (the old desktop computer that crashed and a batch of used ink cartridges went to Best Buy for recycling last month). 

Scrolling through my iPhone photos, I noticed several pictures I snapped of items I thought someone we know might be able to use. I like to send a text to be sure the person can actually use (or wants) the items, so it's easy for them to say yes or no without feeling obligated to take stuff they don't want/need.

I sent the photo below to the lady over the Mother's Day Out program at our church, and she was happy to have these things to use in the classrooms there.

These books (duplicates I found when I sorted the guest room bookshelves) went to a lady who will take them to Jamaica on an educational mission trip there this summer. The mission team is collecting books for the school libraries in the area where they'll be ministering.

Three of these puzzles went to my friend Darlene, who always has at least one puzzle going; the other two went to the Senior Center, which has a shelf of puzzles for members to work on the tables in the game room.

What do you do with the items you declutter?

Joining in with Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday, a meme designed to help us notice more of the ordinary of our lives.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

30 Days of Scrapbooking | Days Three - Seven

I've set myself a 30-day goal - do something scrapbook-y every day. It might be printing photos or organizing memorabilia or creating layouts, but my plan is to put in some time on my scrapbooking hobby every day for 30 days. (I previously posted Day One & Day Two.)

I'm currently focusing on filling in the gaps in our 2011 chronological albums. 

Day 3 - I created a quick layout with photos reflecting our everyday life.

Day 4 - I was out most of the day for professional development training (to maintain my teaching certification), so I simply took time to trim a couple of papers and crop photos for my next layout.

Day 5 - I filled in and added a photo to the 2017 and 2018 pages in our Through the Years album. I typically do this in January of the following year, but somehow I got two years behind!

I also completed a two-page layout documenting our master bathroom renovation.

It was easy to copy, edit and print the journaling for this layout from an old blog post.

Day 6 - I added two 6x12 pocket pages to our albums and created a 12x12 layout embellished with a trading card (of course).

Day 7 - Completed another 12x12 layout!

One week down and it feels so good to be back to consistent scrapbooking!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Ice Cream Soda Flower (& Upcoming Class | Flowers in the Bible)

When I was a teenager, I had an ice cream soda flower! The glass vase was filled with soft fluffy pink "soda" and faux pink carnations represented the ice cream, while a straw, plastic cherry and other bits and pieces stuck out above the flowers creating a fun representation of an ice cream soda. This flower arrangement was special and important to me because it was a gift from my Grandma.

(Photo Source:

For many years, I took great care of this novelty - giving it a prominent spot on display in my teenage bedroom and then later in my first homes as a young adult, removing all the pieces and dusting each one carefully from time to time, reassembling all the bits and pieces to create the perfect ice cream soda illusion. 

However, eventually the beauty of the piece began to fade as the fluffy "soda" became crushed and dirty, the straw got bent, and the carnations began to whiten and discolor. At some point, I threw out all the decorative pieces and just kept the glass vase, which must have eventually been given away or broken.

While I have no longer have this fun piece, I still have the memories of what it represented - Grandma's love and the feelings of specialness her gifts evoked in me.

Just like those carnations, we find many allusions in the Bible to flowers that fade. Yet we also have the reminder that God's love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8) and that His Word stands forever (1 Peter 1:25).

Have you ever wondered about the flowers mentioned in the Bible? What do they represent? What can we learn from them? Will considering the lilies really help us worry less?

We'll be discussing these questions (and learning a variety of flowery illustrating techniques) in my upcoming Bible journaling class here in Allen, Texas, on May 10 and 11 - check out all the details below!

Flowers in the Bible
A Bible Journaling Class with Melissa Gross
Friday or Saturday, May 10 or 11, 2019
10am - 1pm

Join me in May as we discuss the flowers mentioned in the Bible and enjoy time illustrating what we learn using a variety of flowery techniques.

Please note: If you receive a notification that the class is sold out & would like to be added to the waiting list, please email me. If you are registered and unable to attend, please let me know before May 6 for a full refund or transfer of fees to a future class. Cancellations after May 5 are nonrefundable; however, I will be happy to mail you the class kit.

Additional details for classes at my home:
*Be sure to bring your Bible (or a journal) to work in, along with your favorite journaling pen.
*I will have supplies available for you to use in your journaling, but you are welcome to bring along some of your favorite supplies as well. (Please note that space will be limited as we all gather around one large table.)
*There will be some yummy snacks and bottled water for us to enjoy throughout the day. If a hot coffee or ice cold soda enhances your Bible journaling time, please feel free to bring that along with you.
*Space is limited for each class (it's the same on both days), so don't wait too long to register! Your spot is reserved once payment is received. Within 48 hours of payment, you will receive a confirmation email with my address and directions.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Take Three Thursday | Put A Stamp On It

We get a lot of packages delivered here because (1) I prefer to shop online when possible and I take advantage of the free shipping and one or two day delivery Amazon Prime offers on a regular basis and (2) Robbie is a collector [enough said!].

Many of the packages contain shipping labels that include the postage paid. However, quite a few others come in with unique stamps from all over the country and the world. It's so FUN to see the variety of stamps! 

Sometimes the package is really just an envelope (probably containing a trading card or two).

Other times the package is a larger (and fuller) envelope.

But the most interesting (and curious) ones are the boxes that come in with sheets of stamps wrapped all around!

I guess when all else fails, just put a stamp (or two or twenty) on it!

Joining in with Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday, a meme designed to help us notice more of the ordinary of our lives. What are you noticing this week?

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

30 Days of Scrapbooking | Day Two

I'm not planning to blog my progress every day as I work toward my goal of doing something scrapbook-y for 30 days. However, I'm so excited to have a good start and truly enjoying getting back to gluing pretty pieces of paper together that I couldn't wait to share today's achievements.

I completed several pages that finished up our 2011 Volume Two album!

First, a patriotic 12x12 page. I'd already pulled the title banner and a few red, white & blue embellishments from my stash back when I created the list of layouts needed to complete these albums, so this page went together fairly quickly.

Next I had quite a few photos from our visit to the Dr. Pepper Museum. We toured the museum and enjoyed the special Toy Tech exhibit. I ended up creating two 12x12 layouts and filling an 8 1/2x11 divided page protector with photos, memorabilia, and cardstock. It's hard to get a good photo, but here's how they look in the album.

Do you have older albums with gaps that need to be filled in? Please tell me I'm not the only one!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

30 Days of Scrapbooking | Day One

I considered participating in The100DayProject this year; however, I'm not sure I want to commit to that long of a project right now. But I'm really wanting to get back to consistent scrapbooking, so I've set myself a 30 day goal - do something scrapbook-y everyday. It might be printing photos or organizing memorabilia or creating layouts, but my plan is to put in some time on my scrapbooking hobby everyday for 30 days.

Today was Day One! The first project I'm going to concentrate on is completing our 2011 chronological albums. I have four albums for 2011 with lots of completed layouts, a storage binder with the remaining photos I want to scrap, a small file of memorabilia, and a list of about 20 layouts that will complete these albums.

These albums have been on my "in progress" shelf for years, where I just have slips of paper for labels. So, I started by adding round tags to the spine of each album. (I snapped the photo below after I tagged volume one, then tagged the other three albums.)

Then I went ahead and printed labels for the fronts of the albums. I typically add these two items (tags & labels) as the final step before I move the albums to my Memories Shelf. However, I wanted a quick "success" to get me going on this project today!

I actually completed Volume One some time back, so I sat down and flipped through that album first - enjoying the photos, reading the stories, and savoring those memories. Then I put together four quick layouts that fill in some of the gaps in Volume Two. I primarily used cardstock, patterned papers, letter stickers and some handwritten journaling.

It feels so good to make some quick progress on this project! Stay tuned for further developments over the next 29 days as I try to complete this and maybe one or two more unfinished projects. 

Are you participating in The100DayProject? Please share your chosen project in the comments.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Book Review | Open-Door Living

I'm currently participating in the Just Open the Door Bible Study by Jen Schmidt with a group of ladies at our church. So, I was excited to receive Open-Door Living, a small gift book by the same author, free as part of the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program (in exchange for an honest review).

This book has a lovely textured cover and beautiful photographs throughout. It's a quick read with sections on The Heart of Hospitality, Food and Feasting, Cleaning and Decluttering, Atmosphere and Ambience, and Conversation and Community. There are a variety of recipes included as well - from simple 2-Ingredient Homemade Sherbet to Asian Pork Tenderloin.

The sub-title to the book is Easy Ways to Share the Gift of Hospitality, and the author shares little tips for welcoming others into your home. There were not really any new-to-me tips, and a few things I wouldn't consider easy or overly relevant to hosting a get-together (although painting a focal wall or spray painting mismatched vases, jars & signs to add festive touches are great home decorating tips).

However, overall the focus of the book is to encourage us to spend more time with others whether we have a perfectly clean home and a gourmet meal prepared or simply a welcoming atmosphere and some burgers thrown on the grill! It's a nice reminder that our focus should be on the people and building relationships and that opening our homes for times of fun and fellowship are wonderful ways to honor the Lord with what He's given us.

Do you embrace open-door living?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Take Three Thursday | Yeah Me* Screenshots

Many years ago, I read a suggestion for an activity that I continue today. I don't remember where I read it, or exactly what it said, but the gist was to have a file or place to keep complimentary notes or awards or memories that would lift us up and remind us of the difference we make in other's lives. I've read something similar in business books and self-help books alike. I think there have been names for this practice, but I can't recall them.

I call my collection of notes and reminders the Yeah Me* File! Yes, I know it's a little goofy, but it totally makes me happy. My original file was a folder in my desk with actual handwritten letters or cards I received beginning when I was a teenager. Many of those items are still filed away somewhere or have been added to scrapbooks over the years.

These days it seems most of the items I'd consider a "yeah me*" item are electronic, so I've begun capturing screen shots that I can scroll through on those days when I wonder if anything I'm doing is of SIGNIFICANCE. Processing some recent photos this week, I noticed these three gems.

Huge thanks to my niece, my sister, and my friend for taking time to send these notes! They are a great reminder to me to take time to encourage and thank and check on others!

Do you have a Yeah Me file? What have you added to it lately?

Joining in with Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday, a meme designed to help us notice more of the ordinary of our lives. What are you noticing this week?

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 | Learn To Use My DSLR On Manual (& Auto!) Mode

I've been focusing on item #32 [Learn to use my DSLR camera on manual (& auto!) mode] on my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 list for the past year or so.

Actually, I read Understanding Exposure back in 2013, when it was recommended in the Mastering Manual Mode class at BPC. However, I didn't work through the class materials until this past year when I pulled up those archived files and read through everything. I also checked out the materials in several other BPC classes: Fundamentals of Exposure, a great review of the information from the book with example photos & details; Photography for Bloggers; and Intentional Vacation Photography.

And I read The Beginner's Photography Guide all the way through, first without my camera in hand, then reviewing the material while trying out some things with my camera. Finally, I played around with some of the ideas on our Alaskan Adventure.  

I used the scene modes as well as aperture priority, which is becoming a go-to when I pull out the big camera. For example, I tried out a shallow depth of field on the Underground Tour in Seattle.

In addition to trying out the different camera modes, I've also been working on being more creative and trying to capture unique images that can be edited to add a quote. I captured the photo below in the waiting area of La Cuisine after taking the macaron cooking class last fall.

There are so many different settings on the camera and such a variety of ways to capture photos that I'm pretty sure I'll always be learning when it comes to photography.

However, I'm thrilled with all that I've learned about photography and how to use my DSLR and am excited to check this item completed on my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 List.

Do you know how to use all the features on your DSLR camera?