Nearly two years have past since I updated the photos I display around the house. I order prints for the kids and do our family books regularly, but I have just not gotten around to updating what hangs on the wall. I got my act together and a big box arrived from Mpix.com. I started with our photo wall in the living room.

12.14mpixprints-01I’ve been debating what I was going to do on this wall. I reached the ceiling two years ago. I figured I could stop, do something different or just keep going. This is my favorite wall in the house.  The bottom row starts with a picture of an ultrasound when I was pregnant with our firstborn. Each year I add about 30 pictures to the wall. I reached the top of the wall with the pictures from 2012.  I love being able to see the last nine years of our family at one glance. In an instant, I am reminded how quickly time passes, how babies grow into toddlers and how toddlers become kids. The constant reminders that wall provides helps me keep the perspective that my days are numbered, and I want to live in the fullness of my days. I also treasure being able to look up and see so many memories of my family. The photos are just everyday shots that may not stand out to others, but to me they recount the beauty of days past.

I ordered 4×4 prints from Mpix. I also used the Totally Rad action “Grandma’s Tap Shoes” reduced to about 60% to give them all a similar feel in color. I had to trim the ones close to the ceiling. Then I hot glue them to the wall. I figure by the time I take them all down I’ll need or want to repaint anyway.12.14mpixprints-0212.14mpixprints-0412.14mpixprints-05So the wall looks a little unfinished now. I’m trying to figure out what to do next…maybe some more framed prints/posters on the wall. On the other hand, it reflects the story of our family too – unfinished.  Framed posters, probably…either way, it makes me happy.12.14mpixprints-06I also updated the prints on our shelves. I added several mounted prints and a gallery wrap canvas. The mounted prints come with a black or white edge, I choose white. I like them because they can stand on their own – without a frame.12.14mpixprints-0712.14mpixprints-09

12.14mpixprints-10I don’t want all my photos to sit on my hard drive. I know not everyone is a fan of decorating with personal photos, but it sure makes my home feel homey and cozy to us. It is “us” and “us” makes me smile.

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  • Jolene - Love the photo wall idea!

  • Sarah A - The first thing I thought, upon seeing the full picture of your mini-picture wall, was, “It almost looks like a map of Oklahoma!”

    Your house looks so comfortable and inviting. Decorating with pictures is one of my favorite kinds of decorating. You take so many pictures – how do you choose which ones to display? I would love to see your thoughts on the matter since there are so many different ways to approach decorating with pictures.

  • danielle - I really enjoy decorating with photos of our family! We even have a wall of Grandparents and cousins :) I take way too many photos of them to let them stay on my computer! You take so many adorable photos! I love that you display them!

  • Jenny B. - Sarah A, it does look like Oklahoma! :) Ashley, I love that you decorate with photos. I want to, but I end up feeling guilty over not changing them out often enough, or whatever (I know, that’s silly). Also, I am not good at putting things on walls. It feels so committed. That sounds silly, too. I mean, we’ve lived in our house for 14 years. I’d say we’re pretty committed to it. Ha! I’m hoping to put up some shelves soon, and I may have to order some of the stand outs. Have you tried mpix’s new metal prints? They look pretty cool online.

  • Liz - I love this wall! I have always loved it! I got an old frame and did this and hung it over our love seat in our living room. It’s always a conversation piece and our kids LOVE looking at the pics!

  • Susan - Love your last lines! I agree completely. Home should make you smile.

  • jen - This is a silly question, but….I have lots of canvases (is that the plural?) currently around the house. But what do you do with them when it’s time to update? How do you store them? That’s my one issue with canvas prints (especially the big ones)–I LOVE them, but they are much harder to “put away” when it’s time to update–and with a frame you can just switch out the photo and put that in an album. Any advice?

  • Hannah Ashley - I LOVE THIS IDEA!!! Love it, love it, love it!!!

  • Amy - I adore the creativity and personality these give your home. I am a fellow decorator with loving photos, so I completely get the idea and sentiment. Love what you’ve done! :D

  • Natalie - Love your wall! Especially with the stockings hanging and all the pictures. Makes me feel happy! Thank you for sharing!

  • Krystin - I just love the statement that you made about seeing nine years of family photos at a glance. It’s like you can visually see the evolution of your family. It’s beautiful. I have been meaning to get my photos off of my hard drive, but they’re still sitting there. I think this only motivates me to do something about it even more. I had a laptop that recently crashed, and I made the mistake of not backing up my pictures that were on it. Over two years of photos and videos were lost. Thankfully, most of them were scattered across the internet through social media or blogging, but regardless, most were also lost. I wish I could have printed them, or even saved them! Also, I think it’s weird that people don’t want to decorate with personal photos! Haha!

  • Lisa - Always inspired when I stop by here! Love the photo wall and especially your thoughtful post.

  • Cathy - My dad recently had surgery and while in the hospital he was describing a friends house, he said it felt like an old sweater when you walked into it. I imagine this is how your home feels to those that enter!

  • Erica - I love the wall just as it is… to be continued… as all good things are! And what a great idea to run them all through the same filter, to make an overall cohesive feel… I too have young kids and display many years worth of pictures together, so this is a great tip!

    Merry Christmas to you are yours!

  • Kelly J. R. - You photo wall looks like the state of Oklahoma. Even more perfect for your family!

  • ranee - I’ve always been a big fan of this wall and love decorating with photos in my home as well…I’m working on a “gallery wall” of sorts, so this is good inspiration to keep working! Something about surrounding yourself with memories is so wonderful. And also, your hair is beautiful in these photos! :)

  • Amy - Great post! I love how you decorate with your personal photos…so personal!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I love it! I agree – I think it looks like OK! :)

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators - I love that wall of yours – it is so full of life and love! I can imagine your kids, all grown up, coming home for the holidays and standing in front of that wall and remembering all those special moments. I have a theory that we retain many of our childhood memories only through the photos we see of those moments captured. Otherwise, they are lost or we remember them through some rose-coloured version, like a fading dream. You have given your family a very tangible way of holding onto their childhood. You inspire me to print out more of my photos!

  • Merritt Brooks - Your photo wall kinda looks like the state of Oklahoma! So not unfinished- you’ll just have to expand into TX and KS next :)

  • Ethel - I love that you decorate with your pics. This family is AWESOME

  • kimberly oyler - i think the wall looks great. i’m also impressed that you managed to have perfect hair while standing on a ladder with a hot glue gun. so many talents you have. :)

  • Kimberlee Jost - I like you in red gingham.
    :)

  • AmandaH - I like the wall even better now…”unfinished”. It just looks a lot more dynamic!

  • Diana - We decorate with a lot of personal pictures too. Really, most of our “art” is framed vacation prints. Lots of happy memories.

  • Angela - Wow, this is seriously so inspiring. I want to do this with one of my bathroom walls. I’d love to do a mix of photos + inspiring quotes. Your creativity is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Maureen - Makes me smile too! That very first little picture is now officially my fave picture of your girls. Oh my heart!

  • christina larsen - love this!

  • Alycia Quiltygirl - I LOVE this idea!! Thank you for sharing it!

  • Emily - Best. Wallpaper. Ever. I had a similar setup over our mantle in our last rental but now we’re in an apartment (in a new state) and I’m itching to put it up again when we buy. I might just pick one wall to be papered with images. I love it.

    Unrelated: talk to me about your hair. It always looks amazing. What’s your M.O., there?

  • susie - My first thought was that it looked like OK! I guess i am not the only one who thought that!

  • Jenn @ EngineerMommy - I also love decorating with photos, especially of the kids… It makes me smile and makes me happy!

  • Maureen - Missy Thing, I love your photo wall and as a mom of 22, 21 and 18 year old, I say just keep going. YOu will be blown away how quick the next years go with your oldest. How fun to have your fist ultra sound and his teenage pictures on the same wall. My vote is fill the whole side of the wall down…but I’m bossy like that!!

  • Mary - I love decorating with photos! Someone once told me that it’s tacky to have family photos on your formal living room – I told her that my family is God’s masterpiece and my greatest treasure and I couldn’t think of another piece of art I would want hanging there.

  • Courtney Kelley - After reading this post I ordered two standouts (photos of my children) to give as Christmas gifts for my parents and in-laws. I received them today and now I just kind of want to keep them for myself! I see more mpix orders in the near future. Thank you for this post. It was the nudge I needed to update our walls too!

  • Natalie @ Being Mrs. Olson - I have personal pictures everywhere. Sometimes I feel a bit obnoxious, but the reality is, I love being able to look around and take in a few memories at any time during the day. I also think it’s great to have pictures of you and your spouse around. Some people think that’s weird…but why not share your love?!

  • Karen Davis - i adore this sweet wall of yours… you said it looks unfinished like your story… which is SO true… it’s also, “almost” a little bit the shape of the state of Oklahoma too ;) it’s perfectly imperfect.

Last night I helped host a craft night at my Crossfit Box/Gym. Sidenote, I never know what to call it. Crossfitters call it a “box”, but normal language calls it a “gym”. Let’s go with “gym.” I have several friends that host crafting events/parties. They usually are decorated so cutely and have all kinds of wonderful food. We didn’t decorate the gym (though I was tempted to bring in all my buntings and twinkle lights). On the other hand, it was nice to just keep it simple and craft with friends. Crossfit has been this little corner in my life that doesn’t really intersect with blogging, instagram or crafting, but it is a daily part of my life. Don’t worry – this blog won’t become all about Crossfit, but I will say it has been so good for me on so many levels to begin each day there. It is my favorite way to start the day – my family is thankful for a less grumpy mom in the morning too!

One of my friends saw a wreath I made at Meg’s Whatever Craft Weekend and mentioned she would love to learn how to make it. And thus…a Crossfit Craft Night was born.

wreath

12.14crossfitcraft-0112.14crossfitcraft-0312.14crossfitcraft-0512.14crossfitcraft-07

We followed Danielle Burkleo’s tutorial for her felt flowers and used felt from Benzie Designs. There is a huge difference in craft store felt and quality felt – Benzie felt is my favorite.

benzie

Here is a link to my pinterest board with more links to tutorials:


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  • Jack - I love those felt flowers – thanks for the link to the tutorial!

  • Jessica - so where do you get your felt? You really make the best stuff!!

  • AshleyAnn - Jessica – I forgot to add that! It is from Benzie Designs: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BenzieDesign

  • Seriously Sassy Mama - I love felt flowers. Such pretty wreaths!

  • Jill - Do we get to see the finished wreaths? I hope so.

  • Sharon - I love the felt christmas wreath, I think I’m going to try and make it. I made an origami christmas wreath on my blog and would love if you could check it out!

    http://bit.ly/1DcGOoJ

  • Janna - Wow, I’m impressed that you get into the box every day! I have been doing MWF for a year now and am absolutely in love. But, its a time consuming effort and I feel like it really makes my days busy. I cannot imagine doing every day. Also, my body would revolt. Our trainer is relentless :)
    I love everything about your blog! Please do write more snippets about crossfit.
    PS Gotten MU yet? your son?

  • Liz - I made one of these last year for my sister as a Christmas gift. I think they are so lovely!

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - My goodness Ashley, you’ve done it again! I’m already ordering my felt off Etsy- loving the winter mint collection! Beautiful winter wreath, here I come!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh my goodness – I love that you took crafting over to Crossfit. so precious!

  • sarah - Can I just say that this new piece of information makes me smile! I do crossfit as well and can’t bring myself to say “box” either. I refer to it as exercise to my boys when I’m leaving to go or taking them with and Ransom in conversation because it’s called Crossfit Ransom. Crafty, mama crossfitters unite!

  • creole wisdom - Ah, so fun! I didn’t know you were a Crossfitter, too :) Would love to do something like this at my box.

12.14bestofmydays-12

If you are new to the blog, this is a very simple idea. It is kind of like a little notepad, but with a goal of recording something great from each day. Maybe it is a big event or maybe it is just something small. Recording the joys of each day helps me nurture gratitude in my heart. The calendars were actually created with the idea of giving them as a gift at Christmas. It can be something to slip in with gifts for friends, teachers, family and kids.

The first year we kept this going for a bit with the kids, but then I dropped the ball. This year (and last) the older four our getting one in their stockings. I am hoping by incorporating it into our homeschool schedule we’ll be more consistent. The plan is to start the day recording our ‘bests’ from the day before. In years past, we tried doing these at night and just forgot too often! I think it will be a great practical way to practice gratitude, but it will also be really fun to look back on one day. I keep my own list in my perpetual calendar.

The arrows I used are a free download created by We Lived Happily Ever After. You can download the arrows from her original post by clicking here.

Step 1: Download the pdf files by clicking here (you will need to open each file by clicking on the picture of it, then go to the bottom right corner and click on the arrow, then download)

Step 2: Print each pdf on cardstock paper. The text is teal, but if you wanted to save money by printing it in B&W, it would still look good that way. I print mine at FedEx Kinkos.

Step 3: Trim each page. Mine are cut to about 3 inches wide.

12.14bestofmydays-01

Step 4: punch a hole in the top corner and add a metal ring12.14bestofmydays-02

And a few ideas for wrapping them up – this is the fun part!12.14bestofmydays-0412.14bestofmydays-0612.14bestofmydays-0812.14bestofmydays-1012.14bestofmydays-13

Click here to download the files

flourish

SnapShops

Registration is open for both January SnapShops (my online photography workshops). Gift certificates are available too!

Phone photography course

January 5-24, 2015 – registration open

The next course will be in April/May.

DSLR course

January 5 – 31, 2015 – registration open

The next course will be in April/May.

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  • Jack - This is a brilliant idea! I’m going to put these in my girl’s stockings this year too. Thank you for sharing.

  • Janel - Thanks! This is so simple. Today I’m grateful for your willingness to give freely.

  • Liz - This is such a great idea! I love that it is simple and the wrapping can be done up to make it more festive! Perfect!

  • Angela - Where did the naughty/nice/borderline tags come from? Did you make them yourself? Because they are hilarious and I would love to get my hands on some!

  • Monica - Hi Ashley, This is a really nice idea, I saw the last one but I didn’t have time to make it, maybe this time I will, but I could not download the files. :(. I will keep trying.

  • Amberly - Hey Ashley I love this idea! I have plenty of ink in my computer and when I am printing these whether on cardstock or regular paper the black is printing as a light gray and it can’t be seen? Any suggestions for this? I am not having a problem printing anything else in black.

  • Donzel - I think my brother is going to order a gift certificate for the dslr course for my Christmas present!! I’m super, 100% excited about this. :-) (I was disappointed to realize I could have put my name in the drawing for a slot in the course, but considering how many entries you had the odds were not in my favor!)

  • michelle hill - This is an adorable gift idea! I agree, the fun part is picking out the cute ways to wrap them up.

  • Helen - Great idea. Am going to print one for me and one for my 8 year old son…..thank you…!!

  • Libby Baker - Hi Ashley, Thank you so much for continuing this journal idea. Now my tradition can continue. Have a wonderful holiday and a fantastic new year.

  • Katharine - The idea is wonderful and the calendar design is beautiful. I’ve been looking for a way to record our good days and this is excellent. Thank you for sharing. Love all the ways you wrapped them too!

  • Tere - So excited. I’m going to print a few for gifts. And thank you for your wrapping ideas. Just beautiful.

    Question: Suggestions on the cardstock weight for printing?

    I’ve never printed at FedEx, will have to figure that out. Thanks!!

  • elizabeth H - my boys LOVED these last year!
    & they’re perfectly timed for my kids Christmas stockings ~ thank you!!

  • angie - ashley… thanks so much for sharing this with us… such a sweet gift idea! just downloaded the files and can’t wait to have them printed! xo

  • Amy D - Thank you, ma’am!

  • Mrs.T - What a fantastic idea!! I am not sure how I missed this last year, but I think my teen granddaughter and both of my daughters (who are busy moms like yourself) would love one of these. Thanks so much for sharing, and the wrapping ideas are a beautiful bonus.

  • Hannah @ We Lived Happily Ever After - Cute! Love how you used my arrows!

    XO Hannah

  • Lauren - These are lovely. Just what I needed for 2015.
    Thank you Ashley,
    Lauren

  • Lisa - Do you use 8-1/2″ by 11″ card stock paper? I didn’t see the dimension listed for the paper. (Maybe I missed it.)

    Wonderful idea that I plan to give to a lot of my family and friends.

    Thanks!!
    Lisa

  • AshleyAnn - Lisa – yes, 8.5×11

  • Jeanine Q. - Thanks so much! I was so happy to see these again. They make such nice gifts!

  • Maureen - I love things this cute and so simple even I can do it! Thank you for this!

  • Thursday Things 12.11.14 - just j.faye - […] track of all the “best of the day” thoughts in 2015 with this fun […]

  • Jessica S - LOVE this idea! Thank you for thanking the time to post this :)

  • stacie - Ashley, thank you from my whole heart. I’ve kept this best of my days log for three full years now. I love that you share this!!! I normally only print every other year (and use the backs), but arrows represent so much to me that I had to print this years. Maybe I’ll need to gift them again too :) Thanks for sharing your life here, for your generosity, and for your kindness. Merry Christmas! Here’s to many best moments in your days of twenty15!!

  • Tiffany - These are wonderful! I’ve already printed a few to give a little gifts and for our house. I’m thinking of making a cover page for them and am curious what font you used for the months… I’d like to be consistent if possible. Thank you!!

  • lovely, happy gift ideas for the last minute shopper : Holy Hen House! - […] 2014 is knocking at our door. What sweeter gift to give than this best of my days notepad calendar?! It’s a place for someone to jot down special memories and thankfuls at the end of each day. […]

  • Natalie @ Being Mrs. Olson - THIS IS FANTASTIC! I absolutely love this idea. I had a small booklet that I use for a place to write down fun things that we did or accomplished (like a fun bike ride to a coffee shop). I think it is so fun to look back and see the different things we’ve done. I think this is a great idea for kids to really be aware of what they are doing and working on. Great idea!

  • krista - Thanks so much for doing this, it is a darling idea and makes such a great gift!

  • 10 New Years Ideas - Somewhat Simple - […] 7. 2015 printable journal where you can write the best part about each of your days, from Under the Sycamore […]

  • Jancy - Thank you for sharing these again this year! I printed these for my children last year and we stuck with it all year. I write it down for them each day after they tell me the best part- often at bedtime or the following morning. They are 7 and 9 this year and both asked if we would be doing it again. What a simple way to remind us of our many blessings big and small each day. I can’t tell you how often we will be doing something and midway they stop, look at me and say ‘this it it, the best part of my day’. I really appreciate this wonderful gift! Happy 2015!!

  • Christmas Gift Crafting & Buying on a Budget (ideas for more than just Christmas!) | Colibri Homestead - […] 2015 Best of My Days & Hopeologie Let’s Do, Let’s Not Do notepads. These notepads were also fun and easy to make. 2015 Best of My Days is a free printable that encourages you to write one thing a day that you want to remember and/or for which you are grateful. The Let’s Do, Let’s Not Do is a printable from my Hopeologie subscription (I’m not a current subscriber only because of the budget, but if you have the funds, I totally recommend it — who doesn’t need encouraging words of hope for their soul, home and family?!). I turned both into notepads using this bookbinding adhesive and viewing a few online tutorials. You don’t even need a fancy paint brush. I used one from my son’s school watercolors, it worked just great, and no damage was done. I like that you can take any free printable and turn it into a notepad!! I have lots of adhesive left, so am excited about future projects. (There are also tutorials to make your own adhesive at home, but it was all a little too much this, that and measuring for me. It might be up your alley though, and would certainly make the project even more budget-friendly.) […]

  • 2015 Goals - […] the Live Life Beautifully journal and a Best of My Days calendar. I started following Gretchen’s instagram feed about a month ago, and have been so […]

  • Capture Real Life in 52 Weeks | Kaitlin Taylor Photography - […] Christmas, a friend gave me a packet for “The Best of My Days” from Under the Sycamore.  This lead me to start a project in gratefulness where I write down a favorite moment of each […]