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.

Invitation

See pictures from the reception here.

Invitation

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

I Made My Own Wedding Dress

It’s about time I told the story of my wedding dress. It is quite the saga.

I guess the story begins a couple years ago when I started getting involved with Utah Fashion Week. I had this itch to sew my own clothes and be a fashion designer. I didn’t want to be a wedding dress designer, but in my interactions with Utah Fashion Week, I got exposed to a lot of local wedding dress designers and started admiring their work. In my hopes of getting married someday, I began searching for my dream dress.

I fell in love with this dress by Natalie Wynn, who is one of the founders of Utah Fashion Week:

I liked the lace on top and the flowy, yet straight skirt, and that it didn’t look too ostentatious. I even met with Natalie to get measurements and look at the fabric. I wasn’t sure how much our budget was going to be, and this dress is actually a top and skirt, so my plan was going to be to order the top and then make my own skirt.

When I told my mother about my plan, she was a little disappointed and said that she wanted a go at making my dress. Instead of paying for a designer dress, she would fly me home to Florida and we could spend a week sewing my wedding dress. I was hesitant at first because neither my mom or I have ever been able to sew a dress that fits me well enough in the bodice and I wasn’t sure I would be able to find lace that I liked. (To be honest, I still kind of like the look of Natalie’s dress better than the one we made, but it’s cooler to say you made your own dress.)

Despite the hesitations, I can never say no to a Florida vacation, so we went forward with the plan to sew my own wedding dress. I found fabric that I liked and we started searching for a pattern. We found one to create the skirt part, but for the bodice, we ended up using the pattern from my mother’s wedding dress. She made her own wedding dress and she has kept the pattern from over 30 years ago. I tried on her wedding dress, and we were close enough to the same size, so we used her pattern to create the bodice for my dress. We made a practice dress that I would use as my regular LDS temple dress. Once that dress was how I liked it, we would make my wedding dress.

Even though we got the temple dress to pass my inspection, I ended up being a lot more picky with the actual wedding dress. There was a lot of mind-changing and unpicking throughout the process. But my mom is the queen of patience and unpicked everything and never got mad at me for changing my mind. Here are some of the revisions the dress went through (pardon the mirror selfies):

It’s a good thing I didn’t go with Natalie’s dress, because we went with pleats instead of a gathered waistband, and we made the waistband wider. You can tell by my face that I’m happier with the final result than the earlier revisions.

So that’s the story of how I made my own wedding dress. Whether or not I actually wear my wedding dress in my wedding…. well, you’ll have to read my next post.

By | 2017-11-29T01:55:58+00:00 November 19th, 2017|Sewing|1 Comment

Utah Wedding Reception: Springville Museum of Art

I feel like I could write a novel about my wedding and all the details surrounding it, but that’s what pictures are for. Here’s the summary.

Venue: Springville Museum of Art Sculpture Garden

I picked this as my venue because I wanted it to be outdoors and I love art museums. The location, price, and amenities were also perfect for what we wanted. There was also a weather contingency in the case of inclement weather.

Photography: Tara Wilcox

I chose Tara for her attention to detail! She captured all the details of the reception and even took portraits for my siblings during the evening. She also did a great job with getting through the group photos quickly and pleasantly. I also got some film shots by Sol Harris.

Decorations:

I wanted the reception to be casual and minimalistic. We kept the decorations to a minimum by mostly relying on the natural beauty of the venue. We made simple centerpieces, CNC’d a welcome sign, and put some photos on the provided easels. I used Shutterfly to create the guest book.

Music: Renshaw

I didn’t want any dancing, but I did want live music. I’ve known Cayson Renshaw since kindergarten and he is an amazing musician, so I booked him as soon as I had a date for my reception. He formed a band shortly before my wedding, so he brought one of his band mates as well. They were awesome and added the perfect ambiance to the evening. They’re going to be famous one day.

Food: Marvellous Catering

My mom was in charge of figuring out the food and she found Marvellous Catering. They definitely live up to their name. I only heard raving compliments about the food during the night. We went with appetizers and lemonade to keep it simple.

Cake: Sam Keele

I’m not into most wedding traditions, but my mom told me if I was having a cake I had to get photos of me cutting it. I wanted cake as dessert, so we did cut the cake. But there was none of this save it for the anniversary nonsense. We served our whole cake and got Costco cakes to serve when we ran out of the decorative cake. To save money, I put the flowers on my own cake. Though I couldn’t eat the cake on my wedding day because my stomach was acting up, they did save a piece for me that we took on our honeymoon, and I was able to eat it the next day, which happened to be my birthday. And it was delicious.

Florals: Roots Floral Design

I couldn’t have my tropical Florida wedding, so I settled with a tropical bouquet. Kaytee Stice of Roots Floral Design did a beautiful job giving me a taste of the tropics in the Utah desert! The main flower was a protea surrounded by tropical greenery.

Rings:

We got my ring custom made at Forge Jewelry Works. I showed them a picture of what I wanted and they mocked it up in CAD and made it happen! Hayden got his band from E-Wedding Bands. They both had great service.

Send Off:

I wanted the reception to be as minimalistic as possible, so we didn’t do anything fancy for our send-off. Everyone stood in a line and cheered as we left. But Hayden did pull through and got his dad to bring his old Fiat for us to drive away in. This was special because this was the car his dad drove while he dated his mom. We drove it around the block before switching into Hayden’s car. 🙂

By | 2017-11-29T23:29:39+00:00 November 19th, 2017|Life|0 Comments

Joggers For Days

In 2016, I was a designer for Utah Fashion Week. I wanted to design a collection of clothes I would actually wear. So I made a bunch of joggers and t-shirts. My theme was Kitsch, meaning poor taste of the high class. I wanted to be the complete opposite of what fashion shows are about. I wanted my models to be short and wear sneakers. (Plus, they needed to be short so I could wear all the joggers myself after the show…) I wanted their hair and makeup to be simple and casual, like the clothes they were wearing. I wanted to make something others could relate to. They walked to the song “Cheap Sunglasses,” so I gave them all a pair of cheap sunglasses to complete the look. Cheap sunglasses because I feel like we have all used cheap sunglasses to make us feel like we’re cool or stylish, but really they are just kitschy.

By | 2017-11-28T03:54:47+00:00 November 19th, 2017|Sewing|0 Comments

Elephant Sweatshirt

I dabbled in sewing as a little girl, but I didn’t really get into it until I was in college. I went home the summer between my sophomore and junior year and I was bored out of my mind. I picked up sewing to give me something to do. I found an idea for an elephant sweatshirt on Pinterest and fell in love because it was so cute. My mom and I came up with a pattern and figured out how to make one! One of these days I’ll come up with instructions so you can make one yourself.

By | 2017-11-29T01:57:07+00:00 November 18th, 2017|Sewing|0 Comments

Hello World 👋🏼

Hi! I’m Michelle!

A little bit about me:

Love

I Love

my family, creating, organization, minimalism, & sunshine

Work

I Work

at a middle school teaching wood shop & engineering classes

Play

I Play

by taking photos, designing, & admiring art and architecture

Like

I Like

Q-Tips, double-sided tape, gummy worms, & hedgehogs

Dream

I Dream

of someday owning my own stationery shop with all the pretty things

Make

I Make

elephant sweaters, lesson plans, baby blankets, and chocolate chip cookies

By | 2017-11-29T01:57:57+00:00 August 4th, 2017|Life|2 Comments