About Michelle Harris

Hi! I'm a middle school teacher by trade & designer at heart. Lover of all things beautiful & intentional.
Hi! Thank you for stopping by!

Family Proclamation Freebie

A couple weeks ago, the prophet of our church, President Russel M. Nelson, and his wife, Wendy, spoke in a youth fireside. In their messages, they encouraged us to take a break from social media. I decided to try it. I spent 7 days without going on social media. I found it relieving, and also easier than I expected. I think the main benefit was that I spent more time doing things that I actually love. I made more time for reading, handlettering, and design.

One of the things I made that I wanted to share with y’all was a print of the Family Proclamation. Someday we’ll finish painting and get around to hanging this up in our home. But in the meantime, it’s here for you to print and hang up at your convenience!

I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, so I made two versions: one script and one serif. There are also two sizes: 8.5″ x 11″ and 18″ x 24″.

Just click on these links below to print!

Family Proclamation-Script

Family Proclamation-Serif

I can’t wait to print them and add a personal touch to my living room. Also, I’d love to hear your feedback! Comment and let me know which one you like better 🙂

By | 2018-06-17T00:43:14+00:00 June 17th, 2018|Design, Life, Slider|0 Comments

Start Today

I always have intentions of writing more regularly, but I’m a slow writer and get lost in my thoughts and never actually post. So once again inspired by Austin Kleon, I am deciding to just write. I want to build the consistent habit of writing and publishing online to help me get faster and find my voice. I also am trying to get in the mindset of “done is better than perfect.” So here goes.

Kleon shared a quote by Richard Walker that resonated with me:

“Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the battles of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something that happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time.”

I think it is true that it’s the depression about the past and the anxiety of the future that drives us mad. Even though it’s easier said than done, let us do our best for our minds to live one day at a time.

Even though I’m still working on living more in the present, some things that help me are:

  • Think about what you did accomplish in a day, not what you didn’t
  • Write down calendar items or your to-do list so it’s all out of your head
  • Sacrifice something small for someone else
  • Show gratitude
  • Go outside
  • Meditate
By | 2018-05-07T21:49:30+00:00 May 7th, 2018|Life, Slider|0 Comments

Spring Break Recap

Spring Break is finishing up. Just wanted to round up a list of things I’ve been up to lately. In no particular order…

1. We’re homeowners!

Hayden and I officially bought our first home. After searching for almost a year, we found a house that fit nearly every criteria. We’re excited to move in, renovate, and make it our own. My favorite thing about it is the view, which supposedly is the best view our agent has ever sold in Utah County. I’ll post more about the house once we’re actually moved in.

2. Day Trip to Moab

Even in the midst of packing and buying a house, I convinced Hayden to take a day trip to Arches National Park. We ended up buying the annual parks pass because we have so many parks nearby in the state of Utah, and it makes for a cheap and fulfilling vacation. (My dad would be so proud.) More pictures to come.

3. How to Keep Going

I subscribe to the Austin Kleon newsletter, and he sent out a link to this article about artists and their day jobs. It gives me a little hope because I don’t care for my day job right now, but if it helps keep art tantalizing and fun for me, then I suppose it’s worth keeping for right now. It was a good read.

He also posted a talk that he gave about how to keep going, which was inspiring too. He’s in process of writing a book on this topic, so I’m looking forward for that to come out.

4. Wandering Aimfully

Caroline Zook is another person from whom I get weekly emails. She and her husband recently started a new business called Wandering Aimfully. What’s intriguing about this is that they are showing you all the behind-the-scenes of launching an online business from scratch as they go. I feel they’re being a little pretentious because they claim they’re starting this business “from scratch,” yet they both already have a fairly large following and tons of online business experience. But despite my reservations, their content is very good and very helpful for one who is looking to figure out how to run an online business.

5. Home Inspiration

I’ve been pinning like crazy all my home decor and renovation ideas that I want to incorporate into our new home. My brain is spinning just thinking about everything from indoor plants, to flooring, to furniture, and ceiling lights. I can’t get enough of the pretty home photos and can’t wait to transform my home over time. Here’s a picture of the end table I want to build. Check out my other pins here.

6. Magic of Tidying

In addition to planning improvements and decor, I have also been dreaming about tidying my home and going Marie Kondo on all our possessions. I purged my belongings a couple years ago when I first read her book, but now that I am finally going to be living in my own space, I feel like I can really embrace the magic of tidying (goodbye 6 years of roommate/apartment living). I re-read the book again this week, so I’m ready for the challenge.

7. YNAB

While I’m obsessing over home decor, Hayden is obsessing over our finances (which is why we can afford a home in the first place). These past several months, we haven’t really needed a budget because we have been living in his parent’s basement and have been putting most of our money into savings. But now that we are going to be on our own, we have been working on setting up our budget and making more goals about what we want our money to do for us. We have been using a free trial of YNAB, which stands for You Need a Budget. We just finished reading the book that the YNAB founder wrote to explain his philosophy on money and budgeting. I would recommend it if you don’t know how to budget or want more perspectives on what to do with your money.

8. General Conference

General Conference happened to fall at the beginning of my spring break. This event is always motivating and faith-building for me. It reminds me that no matter how much advice and information I can find on the internet, nothing competes with the scriptures and words of our living prophets.

This is just one quote I read this morning that added a little hope into my day:

“Brothers and sisters, life can be filled with faith, joy, happiness, hope, and love when we exercise the smallest amount of real faith in Christ—even a mustard seed of faith.”

-Elder M. Russell Ballard

9. Meditating

I started meditating this past year and it has been essential in helping me fall asleep when my mind won’t stop racing. My favorite app has been Simple Habit. I like it because it has enough free sessions to be useful. It’s not like other meditation apps where you only get a 7 day trial or there are only a handful of free recordings. I also recently started using our Amazon Echo Dot to play Guided Meditations. I don’t like the meditations as much, but the advantage is that it is voice-activated and automatically stops when it is over.

10. Coming Up

Even though I’m still dreading going back to work, this time off has been rejuvenating and I have some things to look forward to. Besides moving, I’m also stoked to meet a baby niece who will enter this world any day now. Plus I’m dreaming up creative projects and things to keep me busy during the summer (8 more weeks. So close, yet so far…).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this smorgasbord of a post and keep visiting because there’s going to be some photo dumping happening very soon (house, Arches, newborn baby niece, etc.). Until next time!

By | 2018-04-06T05:46:01+00:00 April 6th, 2018|Life, Slider|2 Comments

Values

So my school meets as a faculty every Friday morning for collaboration time. Last Friday, the principal gathered us all together and wanted to share what she learned at some leadership training that she went to. She started by saying that the definition of stress is when you have strayed too far from your values for too long. Because we’re all teachers and it’s third quarter and we’re nearly always stressed, she wanted us to identify our core values so we could figure out how we could go back to those and get a handle on the stress. She gave us all a stack of paper with different words on each paper and we had to go through them and narrow down our values. Usually I roll my eyes at this stuff because we did it at the beginning of the year and I’ve done it countless times before and it doesn’t seem to change anything. I did the activity, but I thought it was silly and that it didn’t really apply to me.

Except that now I’m sitting in my bed on a Saturday night thinking back on that experience.

First, she had us pick our top 10 from the list of words. Which was hard to do because pretty much everything on the list is important. Like Loyalty, Love, Service, Growth, Making a Difference, Traveling, etc.

So I pick my 10. In no particular order:

  • Joy
  • Compassion
  • Creativity
  • Learning
  • Purpose
  • Respect
  • Health
  • Financial Independence
  • Spiritual Life
  • Orderliness

Then we had to narrow that down to 5.

What’s funny is that as I narrowed my list down to 5, I think I got self-conscious about my values and tried to put the top 5 that I thought others would want to see. And I don’t really know why that happened. Why was I getting ashamed of my values? There’s no wrong answer. How could there be? No one actually cares what I think are my own top 5 values. Yet somehow that was all getting to me.

My list of 5 ended up something like this:

  • Joy
  • Purpose
  • Respect
  • Learning
  • Compassion

And there’s nothing wrong with this list. Except that I started feeling regret for some of the things that I cut away from the list. How could I cut Creativity? Orderliness? Health? Somehow I thought that the things I spend the most time thinking about weren’t important enough to be on a list of Top 5 Values. My list of Top 5 Values ended up feeling shallow and basic. Not that these things aren’t important, it just didn’t feel like me. Yet somehow I ended up with this list.

The next step in the activity was to think about each value and consider how much effort you were putting into each value in your life. In other words, we had to quantify how aligned our life was with that value. Rate it on a scale of 1-10. I started to feel guilty because right now I feel like I’m struggling to feel Joy and Purpose (3). I didn’t know how to quantify Respect (5?). I felt pretty good about Learning (10), but that I could do better at showing Compassion to others (6). I was starting to feel disappointed and guilty because my life is not really aligned with these values that I picked. These aren’t the things I think about every day. These aren’t related to the specific goals I aspire to accomplish. The original 5 I picked are good values, but they are not the ones I want to prioritize right now. They are not the things I am regretting not including in my life. I also felt some dissonance because I’m honestly not sure that teaching is the best fit for me, yet here I am sitting at my school thinking about how teaching gets in the way of my values sometimes.

So I reevaluated.

These are my real Top 5 Values:

  • Purpose
  • Creativity
  • Compassion
  • Health
  • Orderliness

There are still some areas where I feel I am lacking, but they are the things that I want to work on and get better at. You’ll also notice how some other values intertwine with each other. Here are the reasons for why I included these in my top 5:

Purpose

While religion is a huge part of my life, I specifically chose Purpose because I think that’s the point of religion and spiritual practices. To know why you’re on this earth. Some of those purposes for me include learning and growing to become more Christlike, raising a family, and developing relationships that bring others to Christ. My other values help me discover and work towards these purposes.

Creativity

I don’t know how this didn’t make my original top 5 because Creativity drives everything that I do. This is the biggest way I find my purpose no matter what I’m making. Sometimes I doubt my creativity and if I’m good enough. I fall into the comparison trap all the time. My lowest grades in college were the 4 art classes I took freshman year. I thought I wasn’t talented enough to be a designer. Yet, I always come back to the idea of making things, and being creative is always what brings me the most joy in my life.

Compassion

This one is in my top 5 because I when I was a teenager, I was given a special blessing from a leader in my church and he told me something that I will never forget. He told me that there are many things I will learn in this life, but the most important thing that I should learn is love and compassion for others. One reason why I became a teacher is because I thought that this would be the best way to learn love and compassion for others. Aside from teaching, Hayden and I made it a goal to serve someone specific that we love every month of this year. This has been incredible so far and I look forward to completing this act of service every month.

Health

This one I struggled with putting on my top 5 because it feels shallow. Like it’s synonymous with looks or appearance. But really, health is so much more than that. Good physical health leads to good mental health. I have also struggled with making this a habit since I got married, but I’m always conscious of it and want to work on it more.

Orderliness

This was another one that felt silly to be in a list of values, but I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a big deal to me. I can’t think straight when things are out of order. It makes me irritable. I’m not perfect at keeping things orderly, but it’s always a goal of mine. When things are in order, it helps me be less stressed and feel more peace in my life.

In Conclusion…

I hope you can learn from my thought process as you hone in on your values. Don’t let outside influences and comparing yourself to others psych you out. These are for YOU. Any decision you make should align with one of these values to help you lower stress and anxiety in your life. This has been helpful to me so far and I’m excited to report back in a couple months to let you know how this has worked for me.

In the meantime, you can tell me:

What are your top 5 values?

By | 2018-03-16T23:33:52+00:00 March 16th, 2018|Life, Slider|0 Comments

Lessons Learned From 2 Months of Blogging

1. Be Authentic

I think the best thing you can do for your blog is be authentic (as cliché as that sounds, ha). I’ve only written like 10 posts, but the one that got the most attention was the one that was most authentic. Eventually I hope to put up some more DIY tutorials and things, but that takes a lot more work. It’s hard when you don’t have a light-filled studio and all hours of the day to devote to making beautiful, comprehensive tutorials. But what I can do is write. And you can too. And I think people like that more than you think. (Except on recipe blogs. I don’t want a novel when I’m looking for a recipe. Just give me the ingredients and directions. K thanks.)

2. No One Cares How Much You Post

Yes, consistency is key. We’ve heard that a million times in all the different contexts. But I think new bloggers fall into this trap of feeling like a failure if they don’t post enough or on a schedule. Well guess what, it’s your blog. You determine the schedule. You determine what you want to post. I would rather read good, heartfelt, quality content once a month (or even just once) than subpar content every day. No one likes the person that overposts and shares everything. In fact, I probably won’t read your blog if you post every day (unless you’re my mom). I interned for a blogger and she made me schedule at least 3 Facebook posts a day for her blog. I hated it. And I hated seeing 3 posts a day from her (usually more). Maybe it makes money, but I thought it was excessive.

Another thing is I actually admire the people that take breaks. I follow a blogger that goes off social media every December. I think that’s awesome. And I never miss him. In fact, I never even notice he’s gone. I would never know he did that if he didn’t make a post about it. Only good things come from this. I appreciate him more when he’s back, and I know that he was off recharging and thinking of good content for the next year. It shows me that he cares more about his family and his health than money.

Just remember that you think about your blog more than your readers do.

3. Stop Comparing

I’m still struggling with this one, but this is why I need to address it. I joined a handful of Facebook groups for bloggers to try to get connected with other people and learn some more about it. I’m still a part of these groups, but I’m not sure how helpful they really are. One group is for amateurs like myself trying to get money blogging. This one is comical because everyone and their dog is in this group. On one hand it makes me feel good because I know I have more skill than 90% of these people, but on the other hand, it makes me feel bad because it makes the blogging market feel extremely saturated and I question how I can distinguish myself in this world. The other groups I’m a part of feel very superficial. They post threads daily that you’re supposed to share on and then interact with other people. I’ve only posted a couple times on these threads, but I feel like the interaction is forced and limited. So many people post on them that it’s unlikely that yours will be found. And you’re not allowed to just share your posts on the group’s page, which I feel is the point of joining these groups?

One idea I had is starting my own Facebook group comprised of people I actually know that have their own websites. This would feel more authentic and I think we would be genuinely willing to help each other. But I don’t know how I would run it or how it would work exactly. Thoughts? Would you join a small Facebook group about blogging?

Fellow bloggers, please comment and let me know what lessons you have learned from blogging!

 

By | 2017-12-27T23:24:54+00:00 January 11th, 2018|Blogging, Slider|1 Comment

Why You Should Invest in a WordPress Theme for your Website

My favorite part of setting up my website was customizing my WordPress theme. WordPress has free themes available, but they are quite limited in how you can customize them. Most people have an idea in their mind of what they want their website to look like, and it’s frustrating when you can’t figure out how to make it look the way you want. What makes it more frustrating is that it’s probably impossible to do exactly what you want on the free WordPress themes. I was lucky in that my husband owned a WordPress theme that I was able to download onto my site. It would have taken me a long time to cough up the money to buy one on my own, but now that I have seen the light, I can’t recommend it enough. My top three reasons for why you should invest in a WordPress theme:

Reason #1: They’re Fully Customizable

I got the Avada theme and I have been able to make my website look exactly how I want it to. It is so flexible and there are so many different tools and features. There’s so much, it’s almost overwhelming. But it’s better to have too many options than not enough. You can even add you own CSS code if you want to edit things that aren’t built-in to the theme. It can be intimidating at first, but this leads me to my next reason…

Reason #2: Tons of Support

For every question I had, I could Google it and find an answer to it. There is so much support online, particularly for the Avada theme. The only things I still don’t know are how to change the background color on a post slider and how to make my MailChimp pop-up work consistently. There are so many forums and websites that you can scour for help. I already had a foundation for how WordPress worked, but I had no other web design or coding experience. Within a week, I had customized my site and learned all the ins and outs of Avada that I needed to make my website how I wanted. I also know that there are more options and I can redesign my website as my tastes evolve.

Reason #3: Cheap

Avada is only $39. It’s a one-time purchase so you don’t have to pay a monthly fee and you can use it on multiple websites if you have more than one. They update it regularly and add features, so you’ll never need another theme once you buy it. There are tons of other theme options, but Avada is the #1 selling one and is very versatile. I’ve been happy with it so far.

If you’re trying to make money off your blog, I would invest in a WordPress theme. It will make your website look a lot more professional and will save you from the frustrations of free themes.

By | 2017-12-27T23:25:14+00:00 January 2nd, 2018|Blogging, Slider|0 Comments

How I DIDN’T Make Money in my First Month of Blogging

I’ve had my website for about a month now. It’s kind of funny because there are so many resources out there for starting websites and blogs, yet I still feel like people are hiding something from me. I wanted to share some roadblocks I encountered and what I have learned over the last month trying to get my website up and running. (Maybe that is what is missing from everyone’s posts? Stories of failure and vulnerability? And not for the purpose of being humorous?)

Anyways, on to my list!

Roadblock #1: Monthly Fees

I wanted my own website for years but kept putting it off because I was scared of monthly fees (still am). It costs money to buy a domain and hosting. Now that I have a full-time job and free rent at the moment, I can afford to spend some money on my hobbies that make me happy. Plus, I am working on monetizing my site so that I can at least make enough to pay the monthly hosting fee. I bought my domain for $15/year and I use Amazon Lightsail for hosting which is $5/month. Bluehost is another popular option, but I think Amazon is a more scalable and reliable option for the future. $75 a year is not a bad investment for a hobby.

Roadblock #2: Picking a Name

Another roadblock was that I couldn’t think of a good name for my brand. I created Cliché Creativity a couple years ago, but I outgrew it and wanted something more professional I guess. I wanted to use my own name, but I wasn’t married yet and I didn’t want to commit to something with my name just to get married and have a new name. And I thought my first name was too common. I have been trying to come up with a better name for years.

Fast forward a little bit, I got married and I was talking with my husband about how I wanted a website as a distraction from teaching and depression. He came up with the name Made With Michelle. We both liked it because it has alliteration and kind of a double meaning. We were shocked to find that the domain happened to be available! In fact, I think it expired from someone else on that day I was looking at it, because it had a countdown to when it would be available. I bought it and finally had a domain name.

I don’t really have advice for coming up with a name aside from constantly thinking about it and asking other people for help. I bought the domain through Google.

Roadblock #3: Feeling Inadequate

I felt like I didn’t know enough about hosting and web design. This was where marrying my husband came in handy. He has experience with hosting and got me set up with all that. But if you don’t happen to have a husband that is knowledgeable about how to start a website, use the Internet, read what I just wrote about domains and hosting, and let me know what questions you have! Also know that you will never NOT feel inadequate, so just try it and learn while you go instead of waiting for the perfect moment that will never come. You don’t even know the questions you have until you run into them, so that’s another reason to get started. (You can also start with a free blog, but you won’t be able to monetize it.)

In Conclusion: You Get Out What You Put In

My motivation for trying to make money off this blog is to pay for the expense of owning a website. Ideally, I could make a living off of this thing, but I’m not counting on that quite yet. Yes, there are lots of people who claim that you can quickly support yourself off of a blog, but they don’t really tell you the cost of achieving that. Time and money costs. I have read the accounts of many successful bloggers, but my mind always comes back to the blogger who personally told me it took her 7 years to be able to support herself from the income of her blog. And her work lifestyle was not exactly my picture of ideal. Like any good thing, the money doesn’t come overnight. I’ve looked into Affiliate programs, Google AdSense, and Woo Commerce for ways to make money. But I also have a full-time job that completely drains me and leaves me with nothing else to give. So I didn’t make any money my first month of blogging. But that’s okay. It’s harder than they make it out to be on the Internet. It takes a lot of time to build an audience, create quality content, and figure out what’s actually going to make you money. You define your own success and you’ll get out of it what you put in.

By | 2017-12-27T22:00:52+00:00 December 27th, 2017|Blogging, Slider|0 Comments

12 Days of Christmas Hand Lettering

Even though I love lettering, I feel like I have a lot of room for improvement. Most of the time I feel like it’s not good enough. But I’m practicing and trying to get better! I’m excited to finally have a place to share my work and visually see my progress over time. Here’s my interpretation of the 12 days of Christmas. I think my favorite one is Six Geese a Laying. What do you think?

Also, one of my good friends Caroline just made the cutest advent calendar out of felt ornaments! The first 12 are related to the 12 days of Christmas, so they go perfectly with my lettering. You can see more of her work at Two & The Same.

By | 2017-12-13T02:28:51+00:00 December 13th, 2017|Lettering, Slider|1 Comment