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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Horseshoe Bend

Last year, Hayden and I visited Arizona during President’s Day weekend. Originally, we were going to Kanab, UT to watch a balloon festival, but that was cancelled due to inclement weather. So we continued on our drive and went to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. It was beautiful despite the slightly rainy weather.

By | 2018-02-20T04:22:09+00:00 February 20th, 2018|Photography, 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

Why I Letter

Ever since I was little, I loved the art of lettering.

Exhibit A

I still remember the first time I wrote something in cursive. I moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Tampa, FL in the middle of second grade. I moved into a school that was teaching cursive. I had not learned cursive at my old school, and my teacher was going to have me start at the beginning of the alphabet. I did not want to be left behind, so I had my mom teach me how to write my name in cursive. I copied my name onto a folder and showed my teacher the next day at school. She assumed I already knew cursive and let me move on with the rest of the class. I continued to learn the alphabet and loved writing in cursive. It felt so fancy.

Sidenote: My little trick to get caught up backfired in third grade. Because I never really learned the first half of the alphabet, I never learned how to correctly write “b” in cursive. I thought it was the same as an “l”. I ended up getting a bunch of words wrong on my spelling tests because the b’s looked like l’s. After getting so many incorrect on spelling tests, I finally figured it out!

Kindergarten Handwriting, circa 1999

4th Grade Handwriting, I only wrote in cursive on spelling tests apparently. Also this story. Ha!

Exhibit B

In middle school, I was known for carrying around a 20 pack of Crayola markers. I doodled and drew pictures for my friends every day. I would change out the pictures in the front of my binders at least once a week. I also colored a lot and made designs on graph paper. This was before adult coloring books were a thing. I would literally spend my summer designing pictures for the covers of my binders for the next year. After a couple years of practicing this hobby, Crayola came out with the 50 pack. I literally got 4 packs of markers for my birthday that year from different friends. It was awesome.

Sidenote: I still have those 4 packs of markers and I donated them to my classroom so the next generation of middle schoolers can enjoy the wonders of Crayola markers. Lest you think I’m generous, I’ve moved on to better things. I just bought the 96 pack of Tombow Brush Pens!

Above: Lettering from high school when I got a cruise for Christmas. Right: New Tombow brush pens!

Exhibit C

AP World History was one of my least favorite classes in high school. It was boring and crammed too much material into one semester. The one redeeming quality was that there was a lot of note-taking. I learned to enjoy taking notes because that meant I could practice my handwriting. Even in college, I continued to take notes by hand. I’m a firm believer that writing things down helps you remember things better.

Sidenote: Writing things down is not only beneficial for school performance; it also has psychological benefits. I have written in my journal nearly every day since I was 12, which has helped a lot with feelings of anxiety and loneliness throughout my life.

In Conclusion

I started this blog post with a totally different intention, but this is what came out. It’s fun to think about how you got to where you are today, even with something as insignificant as your handwriting. And despite my years of being a lettering enthusiast, I still don’t consider myself an amazing lettering artist. But I’m practicing every day! Go take a peek at my 12 Days of Christmas Lettering! I’m excited to share where I started, so you all can watch me progress. Thanks for helping keep me accountable. Have a good week!

By | 2017-12-15T04:54:39+00:00 December 12th, 2017|Lettering, Life, Slider|0 Comments

Advice from a Therapist: It’s Not You

I never had problems with my mental health until I became a middle school teacher. I majored in education, but I never had desires to be a public school teacher. Ironically, I began my teaching career because it seemed like the easy way out. It was easy to find teaching jobs and get interviews. Teaching felt secure. Little did I know what I was getting into.

I applied for several jobs. My dream job would have been a high school photography teacher, but there were no openings for that in the area. I interviewed with several middle schools. I decided to sign with the school I did because I liked the faculty, the commute wasn’t too bad, and I was told I could teach photography the next year. I was scheduled to teach 4 different classes across 3 different grade levels. I would be teaching various engineering elective classes. Then principal called me a month before school started and asked if I could teach a fifth class, keyboarding. I naively agreed. They say if you can teach middle school, you can teach anything. I accepted the challenge.

So I start my first year of teaching. Honestly, it didn’t even take a month before I started experiencing waves of anxiety and depression. College and student teaching did not prepare me for the profession. During my student teaching, I never had to contact parents, I never had to prepare for more than 2 classes, I never had to be on a committee, I never had to advertise for my classes for the next year, I never had to purchase supplies, etc. In short, it was a reality shock. At the time, I was dating my future husband, so I kept telling myself I’ll get married and plan all summer and then I’ll be fine for next year. Except my principal told me the photo class didn’t carry and summer was terrible because I would have nightmares about teaching, which paralyzed me from planning. I got some things done, but not nearly as much as I was hoping.

Now I’m in the midst of my second year of teaching. I keep pretending to like my job, but the depression has only gotten worse. I started seeing a therapist. Coincidentally, this therapist taught 6th grade for 3.5 years and then quit because he couldn’t handle it. He went to grad school and became a therapist. More importantly, he became happier. I met with him for ten minutes the other day, and his advice was: “It’s not you.”

Teaching is rough. There are so many unrealistic expectations, and it’s impossible to fulfill them all. So I just have to keep telling myself, “it’s not you.” Because I’m doing my best. To those new teachers struggling with anxiety and depression: It’s not you. You’ll never make it through if you take it too personally. Learn to laugh at yourself, take time for yourself, and leave school at school. You can do it!

By | 2017-12-13T02:29:16+00:00 December 4th, 2017|Life, Slider, Teaching|5 Comments

Classic & Minimal Wedding Invitation

In order to keep costs down and make my wedding truly unique, I wanted to make as many things myself as possible. I studied graphic design in college, so I knew I could make my own wedding invitation.


See pictures from the reception here.


Invitation Design

I wanted my invitations to be minimal, yet chic. I did not want to associate a color with my wedding, so I chose to print them on white. I went with Didot, a classic serif font, throughout the design. I thought about adding borders/embossing and things, but again, I wanted to keep it inexpensive and minimalistic. Even though my final design looks simple, it actually took a lot of tweaking to get the sizing and spacing right. That’s one of my favorite things about designing.

Print & Mail

We used a family friend of ours at Allegra Marketing & Print to print the invitations and pictures. To add a touch of texture, we tied a silk belly band around the invite. This also helped secure the picture. My mom and I printed labels and did all the packaging and mailing. I wish I could have hand lettered all the envelopes, but that would have been a little too crazy to get done in a week.

Overall, I am very pleased with how they turned out! This was one of my favorite parts of the wedding planning. If you or a friend need a card design, let me know! I would love to design something for you. Christmas is around the corner and I have been aching to do some Christmas card designs! Head over to my Instagram to see some of my hand-lettering samples.

By | 2017-12-13T02:29:23+00:00 November 30th, 2017|Design, Slider|2 Comments

Happily Ever After Hurricane Irma

In my last post, I recounted how I went home to Florida during the summer to make my own wedding dress with my mother. Before I went back to Utah, I was going to visit my fiancé in Virginia. I didn’t want to travel that much with a wedding dress, so I left it in Florida, counting on my mom to bring it with her when she came to Utah for the wedding in September.

Originally, I wanted to get married Labor Day weekend, but my parents had already scheduled an Alaskan cruise. So we settled on the next available weekend, which would be September 16th. The plan was for my parents to come home from their cruise on Saturday, pack for the wedding, and fly out to Utah on Tuesday for my wedding that weekend.

However, all these plans shifted when Hurricane Irma decided to head straight for South Florida. The flights to Florida were cancelled and my parents were stuck in Seattle. There was no way for them to return to Florida and get the things for the wedding, including my wedding dress.

The funny thing is that even though I have been struggling with anxiety and depression, the fact that I might not get to wear my wedding dress was not freaking me out. I was very calm about the whole thing and knew it was going to work out. I had my backup temple dress, and a coworker who lent me her daughter-in-law’s dress that happened to fit me. But really, I wanted to wear my own dress and I know everyone was praying for it to somehow get to Utah.

While my parents were stuck in Seattle, they sent a house key to a neighbor in Florida that arrived on the Tuesday before the wedding. Thankfully, the hurricane did not knock out power in our area and there was no damage to our house. That neighbor (also my mom’s visiting teacher) got into the house, packed all the wedding things into a box, and overnighted it to Utah. My wedding dress arrived Thursday night for my Saturday wedding!

By | 2017-12-13T02:29:32+00:00 November 23rd, 2017|Life, Sewing, Slider|0 Comments