You can find gallery walls all over Pinterest. They look one trillion times better than anything I could ever put together, but they inspired me all the same. I kept calling the wall I was putting together in my head a nostalgia wall, not a gallery wall, because it wasn't really about pictures for me. It was about memories.
To show you just how skilled I am at things like this, I started putting this wall together in 2013. It's like a 6x8 wall. I finished over Christmas. In 2014.
HGTV, call me!
In case you care about this kind of thing, here are some up-close shots of what I chose for the wall.
Bottom left: A post-it from our early dating days. Happy sigh.
Top left: A picture of the villa we stayed in, during our honeymoon on St. John, VI. You could see the villa from a winding road nearby, where I snapped this picture.
Top middle: A card from Etsy, that I bought for Mike for Valentine's Day a couple years ago and then immediately took from him to frame. I'm fun to be married to. Of all the things in this world I like, Mike and naps are #1 and #3. A certain six-year-old falls between. (The rest of this Etsy store is pretty great, too, and here's a perfect card for your favorite work friend.)
Bottom right-middle: An old picture of my great-grandmonther, my mom's grandmother. She was a special part of my mom's life, so I like to think I knew her without ever having met her. You might not be able to tell, but she's on a beach here, laughing. She looks like the kind of lady who would love to share a bottle of champagne with me.
Bottom left-middle: I took maternity photos in a shirt I can't even remember buying. I knew I wouldn't wear it again, but I hated the idea of getting rid of it. So, I cut it up and framed it instead. (As you do.)
Bottom right: I loved this frame so much, for months and months, but I couldn't rationalize spending nearly $40 on it. Then Elizabeth, my constant shopping voice of reason, said something like "if you love something so much you're thinking about it for months, JUST BUY IT." So I did. And I have no regrets. I framed a photo of our paper lantern tradition, which makes me smile every time I think about.
Middle right: I found this pin on Pinterest ages ago, about creating a watercolor map, so I made one, took a screenshot, and printed it via Shutterfly. The map I made was from College Station. When I was 17, the summer before my senior year of high school, I walked into Texas A&M's on-campus bookstore and felt something indescribable. As sappy as it sounds, I had come home, even though it was my first time there. When I was 18, I walked into our football stadium for the first time (Kyle Field) and thought to myself, "I'd love to marry an Aggie and name our son Kyle. But that'll never happen." (More on that memory here.) This map includes both the book store and the stadium, and it's one of my favorites from the entire wall. So many dreams come true in one unique picture.
Middle: A canvas print of a picture the talented Natalie took of Kyle when he was two. This remains my mother-in-law's favorite picture of Kyle, and I don't blame her. It's amazing. (I print my canvases at CanvasPeople. Very affordable, and I've been pleased with them to date.)
Top right: A lovely picture of Mike's mom, his sister, and Mike from many Christmases ago. I'd guess 1980 or so.
Bottom right: A commissioned print that says "Sting rays don't bite, my ass." (Though the comma is missing, I know, and it drives me as bananas as you might suspect.) It's something Mike said when we took a behind-the-scenes tour of SeaWorld, just two months after we started dating. Anyway, it's a long, really-only-funny-to-us story, but I laugh every time I think of it.
Middle left: Oh, this one. An Avett Brothers' lyric: "Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name." I bought the print from this Etsy shop.
Top middle: A picture of Kyle, one of my favorites, from our family road trip in 2011. In a frame I love, that I randomly found at Target.
Middle: A picture I love of Mike and me from our 2011 Vegas trip. Vegas is also one of the few places we regularly travel to, so it felt right to have a picture from there on the wall.
Middle right: We gave Kyle a quarter a couple years ago to buy a piece of candy from a machine, at a restaurant one night, and he bought me this ring instead. He was so proud to give it to me, and I wore it for a while before realizing I was terrified to lose it. So I hung it on a piece of string and taped the string to an empty frame. My most prized possession, hanging on the wall, for me to see every single day.
Top right: A picture I took of Mike on his motorcycle. I've always loved this picture of Mike doing something he loves so much.
Bottom right, 1: One of our sonogram pictures of Kyle, from about 22 weeks.
Bottom right, 2: A map-covered "C" from Anthropologie. Or maybe Urban Outfitters. I honestly can't remember.
Middle: A picture of my mom holding me, when I was a baby. I've always loved it.
Top right: This picture of Kyle face-planting in the sand, when he was six months old. Mike and I still just laugh and laugh over it. (Back story, in case you might be judging a wee bit: It was Kyle's first time to the beach, he had just started sitting up on his own. Mike put him in the sand, and I just held down the shutter to take a dozen pictures of the milestone. Kyle then toppled over and I caught this exact one. He was rescued seconds later! Accidental capture! STILL SO FUNNY.)
Bottom right: A picture I love of Kyle and me.
I bought a blank canvas at Michael's, some number stencils from I don't even remember (Amazon, I'd guess), and I used a pencil and then about 10 Sharpies to create this one. It stands for June 10, 2008. The day we found out I was pregnant.
Middle left: A picture from the MotoGP race we took Kyle to last year.
Top left: A family picture of Mike's parents, Mike's sister and her family, and our family, from Christmas 2013.
Top right, letters: I bought these cheap letters from Michael's (like $1 each). Mike and I used to end all our emails with "loves" but one time Mike typed it so quickly he just typed lvs. I emailed back, laughing so hard on my end, that loves forgot to buy its vowels and, eight years later, we've signed off with LVS ever since. It's engraved in my wedding band.
Top right, picture: A picture of the cherry blossoms, from our Washington DC trip in 2013.
Bottom, middle: A picture of Kyle and his cousin Ella, from our beach trip in 2013.
Left: A picture Kyle drew years ago, and one of the first times he wrote his name. (I wanted to especially remember how he wrote his "e"s back then, with about a dozen lines.)
Top right: A picture of Mike and his sister, as kids. He had this picture framed on his desk when I met him, and I remember thinking that any man who loved his sister enough to frame a picture of her on his desk was a man I wanted to spend time with. I can't remember where I found this yellow frame, but I love it.
Top picture is of Mike with Molly behind him, hiking in 2005. Bottom picture is Mike with Kyle behind him, hiking in 2013.
Right: We bought this beautiful hand-carved stone in Caye Caulker, Belize, with a map of the country on it.
Phew, that's a lot more information about each individual thing we framed and hung on this wall than any one person probably cares to know, but in case we ever change these up, I'll remember what once hung there.