Amanda Sue Howell

Your World Is a Canvas

I want to encourage you to find something inspiring today. Something in nature, something around the house, something your kids say…something in your world. Take it and run with it!

Use your senses to explore your world.


Look for color combinations, landscapes, plants, animals, stars, things your kids are doing, dreams, sunsets….see things from a new perspective. I like autumn colors very much, and I’m also fond of turquoise. How about you?


Listen to babies giggle, music that evokes emotion, birds singing, the wind whispering in the trees…listen as if you’re hearing for the first time. Laughter, music, and cats purring make me smile. What sounds do you like best?


Summertime is great for this! Juicy watermelons, grilled burgers, roasted corn, ice cream…savor the different flavors/textures/tastes. I’m totally addicted to fresh strawberries, popcorn, and sour cream. But not all together. That would be gross. 😉 What are your favorites?


We’re surrounded by smells, but today purposefully revel in it. What does your body wash smell like? Your shampoo? Does your husband smell like laundry detergent, deodorant, or sweat? Do you wear perfume? How does your dinner smell? I adore the smell of coffee, babies, and my Opium perfume. And my husbands deodorant. I almost think guy deodorants smell better. How about you?


Take in the textures around you. My Mom & I are both very tactile people. Soft baby skin? Heaven. Petting kittens? Bliss. Finding the perfect fleece or chenille throw? Oh. My. Goodness! What do you most like the feel of? Cool marble? Rough tree trunks? The warmth of the sun on your back?

The world is but a canvas

I really  hope this has inspired you to make something amazing! Please comment below, and let me know tastes, sights, sounds, smells, and feels you enjoy. And when you get inspired by your world, come back and let us know what inspired you, as well as what you made! If you enjoyed this post, I’ll love you forever if you click here and tweet this for me!

Creative Prompt – Read your favorite childrens book

A great way to get inspired for creativity, is to look at books with wonderful illustrations. I love classic novels that have the engraving type illustrations in them. But an outstanding place to find gorgeous illustrations is in children’s book! Some of the most whimsical pictures I’ve ever seen were in books that Mom read to me as a child.

Spend the morning or afternoon reading your favorite childhood books. Read them quietly to yourself, or read them aloud to your children. If you can’t think of any off the top of our head, here’s a few favorites from my childhood…

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs


Where the Wild Things Are


Harold and the Purple Crayon


The High Rise Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious Sky Pie Angel Food Cake


Anything by Peter Spier


Any Caldecott Award Winner (click here for a list)


If you enjoyed this challenge do 2 favors for me?

1 – Leave me a comment, and tell me your favorite books when you were a kid? What books are you reading for this challenge?
2 – Share this post! I’ll make it easy for you. 🙂

Stay tuned. I’m playing something fun for August! (hint…it involves Instagram!!)

Countering Copycats

Today you’re getting a real treat! I’m sending you to the fabulous Prerna at The Mom Writes. If you’ve ever had a problem with copycats in your business, you’ll really enjoy this article. And if you’re creating an amazing business, that has potential to be copied, you should read this. The fact is, there are people who don’t care to create original material. And no matter how many precautions you take, there’s still stinky people out there who will find a way to rip off the good stuff.

She says…”Let me preface this post by saying that this is not a rant. It is a reflection on how originality and ethics, knowingly or unknowingly,  get pushed to the backburner as bloggers try to ‘compete’ with others in their niche.

No one likes imitation or copycatting and irrespective of whatever people may say about imitation being the best form of flattery, trust me, it really isn’t.” (Click here to read the rest, and let her know in the comments that I sent you!)

Being a (Productive) Work at Home Mom

Productivity: Wrapping up the First Stage of a Special Project
Productivity: Wrapping up the First Stage of a Special Project by orcmid

Feed the baby. Change the baby. Help my husband get the kids ready for breakfast. Start eating breakfast. Get up multiple times to move the baby away from something dangerous (he especially wants to eat TV cords). Finish breakfast, try to sneak a shower in while the oldest washes her face/brushes her teeth/gets her bed made, start laundry, load the dishwasher. That’s my first 1.5 hours of the day. On a day when things are going smoothly.

If my husband gets put back on day shift, the baby is teething, or someone is sick, it throws off everything. And yet in the middle of this chaos, I’m homeschooling my oldest (she’s 7), preparing to start school myself this fall (I’ve got a GI Bill I’d like to use), and running a business. Additionally, I have a yet-to-be-diagnosed condition, that changes how/what I can do each day.

Here’s a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Yes you may have to pee like a pregnant woman, but it beats the gross/bloated/dehydrated feeling. I thoroughly enjoy my sodas,  but let’s face it…the caffeine buzz isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, the sugar crashes are awful & the caloric content of soda/tea/alcohol seriously hinders weight loss/fitness progress.
  2. Work in a workout somewhere. If you don’t have much time that day, try doing a high-intensity/short-length workout. Or, if you can’t do a high-intensity workout, set aside 15 minutes for some Pilates. This will stave off the end-of-day-guilt from not working out.
  3. Make friends with the timer. Set it for 15 minutes & do things in bursts, then take 5-10 minutes for something else. Write for 15 minutes, then go check on the kids. De-clutter the house for 15 minutes & then go make your coffee. Write for another 15, then check your email. But don’t become enslaved to the timer. If you’ve hit a flow in your writing, when the timer goes off keep writing! Keep going until the flow stops, or the kids are coming to you with another “emergency.” (Anyb0dy else whose kids do this?)
  4. Use online and/or phone calendars. I have lots of alerts set up on my phone, because I’m an extremely busy woman & I never know where I’ll be. But no matter where I am, my phone is there too.
  5. My last piece of advice may be the one I have the hardest time with. Don’t get lost in your business. I love my work! I love researching & helping people get their sites going…all of it. But I have to pull back sometimes & remember, I started this business for my family, not the other way around. Don’t make a habit of working through meals. Don’t look at the computer while talking to your kids. And make sure your spouse doesn’t feel neglected.

What great tips do you have? What is the best advice you can give someone who’s got a dozen things on her plate? What keeps you centered?

Right Brain Organizing

According to the theory of right brain vs. left brain, the right side is free-flowing & visual. The left side is supposed to be more organized & auditory. We all use both sides, but in varying degrees. Both sides can be used simultaneously, but one will likely be much more effective. The teenager who listens to music while studying, is using both halves of his brain. But either he’ll pay much more attention to the music, and the studying will go slower, or he’ll focus on the homework & the music will truly be background noise.

Given the abstract & visual nature of the right half of the brain, it’s no surprise that a lot of the creative industries are right brain focused. Both halves of the brain are capable of creativity, but it takes different forms. My Mom is more right brain dominant, and she used to doodle cartoons in high school. I’m more left brain dominant, so even though I’m very creative I dislike cartooning. I prefer to draw things that are more “photo-realistic“.

For people that are more right brain dominant, organization can be a hassle. Aesthetics are important, and filing cabinets & office furniture usually aren’t all that interesting.

Your best bet is to find creative organization, that satisfies your need for beauty but tames the chaos around you! Hat boxes can be used to store papers, nick-knacks, or office supplies. If you’re an artist, why not store brushes or small vials of paint in one? Are you a scrapbooker? These can hold stamps, ink, embossing supplies, paper punches or any number of things. Maybe you’re a stay at home Mom…you could hold makeup in here, or have one to hold the many creations your little darlings generate, or maybe just your secret stash of chocolate. I won’t tell anyone I promise!

Maybe you really do want to use a filing cabinet. But from a textural standpoint, I find these wicker file boxes to be much more appealing than your standard metal cabinet. I’ve seen cloth file boxes in an array of colors & patterns, I’ve seen wood filing cabinets (maybe a nice cherry?), I’ve even seen seagrass file boxes.

If you’re looking for places to get inspired, Tuesday Morning, Pier 1 & Pottery Barn all make excellent places to start looking. Another great place for ideas is Pinterest. For those who don’t know, Pinterest is like sort of an online scrapbook. You can save pictures of things you like onto boards. The boards are divided into the category of your choosing. You can make anything from a board of artists you adore, to a board of musical instruments you want to own someday. Well I hope this is helpful for kick-starting some ideas. If you know of other places to get creative organization supplies, please leave a comment to let me know. And if you start a neat Pinterest board, leave a comment with a link and I’ll go check it out!

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