DIY His & Hers Key Chain

DIY His and Her Keychain

I was trying to come up with a fun little gift I could give hubby for Valentine’s, something inexpensive that would still feel personalized. I started googling valentines day gift and I found a cute his and hers key chain at Walmart, it was like the BFF ones for little girls with two sides of a heart that fit together. I thought it was cute, but I knew hubby wouldn’t want to put it on his key ring.

I could just hear the exchange at work, “Dude, is that half a heart on your key chain?” “Yeah…. my wife made me…” “Dude you are so not manly!” Yep, that’s how I imagined it. So I came up with this instead. The arrow is made from an old gift card and the heart from scraps. It’s perfect because I get something cute and he gets something cool that won’t raise manhood questioning eyebrows. I made it quickly, at night, without taking pictures, so instead of the usual visual aids you get my hand drawn tutorial.

1. Start with a square shaped scrap of fabric and fold it in half twice as pictured.
DIY His and Her Keychain

2. Cut out a heart shape the same way you cut out Valentine’s as a little kid. You should now have two matching hearts.DIY His and Her Keychain

3.  Cut out a matching heart from scraps of batting as well as two short strips of paper and one long one. Sew the short strips to the front of your front heart scrap just below the hearts humps, fold the long strip in half and sew it to the inside (back) of the back heart. See pictures for further explanation.DIY His and Her Keychain

4. Layer the hearts in the following order: back heart, batting, front heart. Make sure that the print of your fabric is facing out.
DIY His and Her Keychain

5. Sew around the outside of the heart. This took me a few tries. I used black thread on red fabric so the heart outline would show up and look cute. Now, just add a little ring and the heart is finished!

DIY His and Her Keychain

6. For the arrow, just punch a hole in the gift card and cut out an arrow shape. If you want to you can paint the arrow, but I left mine as is. I like the urban look it gave it.DIY His and Her Keychain

And that’s it! A fun key chain for your sweetie. Just in time for Valentine’s day :)
DIY His and Her Keychain

The Parable of the Popcorn FHE

the popcorn parable FHE idea

The Parable of the Popcorn, a modern parable based on the parable of the sowers

Opening Prayer

Opening Hymn: Popcorn Popping

Treat: Popcorn!

Lesson: Read the following parable to the family. Find examples of each type of popcorn in your bowl.

Behold at the time of harvest, the ears of corn did bring forth kernels which were dried and prepared for the Popper’s hand. And then it was that the Popper did take the kernels, all that did appear alike unto Him, and applied the oil and the heat.

And it came to pass that when the heat was on, some did explode with promise and did magnify themselves an hundred fold. And some did burst forth with whiteness which did both gladden the eye and satisfy the taste of the Popper. And likewise some did pop, but not too much. Behold, there were some that did lie there, and even through the Popper’s heat was alike unto all, some did just bask in the oil and keep everything that they had unto themselves.

And so it came to pass that those which had given of themselves did bring forth much joy and delight to many munchers. But those which kept of the warmth and did not bring forth were only cast into the pail and thought of with hardness and disgust.

And thus we see that in the beginning all appear alike, but when the heat is on, some come forth and give all, while others fail their purpose as chaff, so as to be discarded and forgotten – unknown source

Discuss the popcorn parable. For the very young just explain the analogy, for older kids ask some deeper questions, What does the heat represent? Why are we like the popcorn? What can we do to fulfill our potential?

Explain that we are all Children of Heavenly Father and we all have great potential, but we have to first choose to always strive to do good and choose the right.

If you want to, you can pass out this handout to go along with it. This printable is about 5″ x 7″.

the parable of the popcorn printable

Activity: Watch a movie together about someone who worked hard and did their best. The Princess and the Frog, Rudy, The Little Train that Could all come to mind. If you have any other ideas please share!

Closing Hymn: I Have Work Enough to Do

Closing Prayer

I hope this lesson plan helps you have a great family home evening! Let me know how it goes, I love to hear from you :)

26 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Clean

How to keep your house cleanHow to keep your house clean“I don’t mind cleaning. I just don’t like to clean things that get messed up again.” – quote from a teenage boy on cleaning

“BWA HA HA HA” – what the adults in the room sounded like after hearing his quote

*mutter mutter* “crazy motherly folk” *mutter mutter* – teenage boy with a death glare on his face

Unless you are Snow White or Milly from ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ there are times when you don’t want to clean. Me too! That’s why I’m creating this totally awesome list of cleaning motivators. Even if it’s mundane and boring, cleaning house has some amazing benefits, which leads me to motivator numbers 1-20:

1. Having a clean home can reduce anxiety/stress

2. The act of cleaning your home can reduce anxiety/stress

3. According to some scientists at Princeton a clean space improves concentration

4. Dusting and vacuuming helps keep indoor air quality good by taking care of those nasty dust mites

5. A dirty home welcomes mice, bugs, and other unwanted critters. Adversely, a clean and well sealed home keeps them out.

6. I don’t know about you, but I’m about 100 times more likely to make dinner in an already clean kitchen, therefore clean home = home cooked meals

7. = delicious

8. = more family meals

9. = saving money on eating out

10. = puppies and rainbows! Or at least it may simulate the feeling of watching rainbows while cuddling puppies.

11. You are less likely to lose things in a clean home

12. In a clean home you won’t spend money on replacing things you broke or lost in your dirty home.

13. Your family will want to spend more time in the house with you.

14. In the winter/summer when you are stuck inside cabin fever won’t set in quite as fast.

15. The spirit in your home will be better

16. Your home will be safer – you won’t be tripping over junk, the baby won’t be trying to eat small dangerous objects that were left on the floor, you won’t be getting sick from the polluted air.

17. You won’t be embarrassed if people come over

18. You and your family will be more moral, no joke, BYU did a study! Having a clean smelling home improves your ethics :)

19. People are more likely to get sick and pass around bugs in dirty homes

20. You can burn a ton of calories! To find out how many use a calculator like this one.

If 1-20 didn’t cut it, then try out one of these motivators, we’ll callin’ in the big guns this time!

21. upbeat music

22. a timer – set it for 10 minutes and tell yourself that you only have to go until the timer goes off, you would be surprised how often you will find the motivation to keep going once the 10 minutes are up.

23. Watch this and you will want to clean your home within an inch of its life!

24. Same with this

25. Pretend you can clean the house with magic and watch this

26. Pretend you are Snow White, NOT Cinderella (we don’t need any resentment building now do we ;)

Good luck cleaning! If I didn’t list some of your motivating methods please add them in the comments section.

Thanks in Advance!

-Amber Mae

This is part of a series called Keepin’ it Clean in 2014. Up next: How to do an emergency clean, going from messy to magnificent in less than an hour. 

Sources:

http://spongesparkle.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/7-surprising-benefits-of-a-clean-home/

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2009/10/23/cleanliness.next.godliness.new.research.shows.clean.smells.promote.moral.behavior

http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-Mice-from-Entering-Your-Home

http://women.webmd.com/home-health-and-safety-9/indoor-air?page=3

http://www.divinecaroline.com/life-etc/home-food/5-health-benefits-cleaning

http://unclutterer.com/2011/03/29/scientists-find-physical-clutter-negatively-affects-your-ability-to-focus-process-information/

5 House Cleaning Tips from an Ex-pro

How to keep your house cleanHow to keep your house clean
I worked as a housekeeper to get myself through college. For an entire year of my life I spent 20 – 40 hours a week elbow deep in soap suds and bed sheets at the local hospital. I got pretty good at it. By the time I quit to take a marketing position elsewhere I could clean small rooms in 30 minutes or less and large rooms in the space of an hour. I was effective and efficient.

Then, not long after my stint in marketing, I had a baby and decided to stay home and be a full-time homemaker. I was pretty sure I could handle it. Baby care? Got it. Decorating? Easy. Budgeting? I am the queen of budgeting. Keeping the house clean? Well, I did spend a year cleaning professionally so it shouldn’t be a problem, right? WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Sorry, didn’t mean to yell at you there. *ahem* Yeah, so keeping my house clean was a big issue. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. If I could handle two floors at the hospital, why couldn’t I handle my two bedroom apartment? What was going on? After months of floundering I finally decided to sit down and do an old-fashioned compare and contrast worksheet to fix my problem. Why was my home so different from my old job? The following is what I came up with. And let me tell you, it made all the difference. My home isn’t perfect, but because of what you are about to read A) I no longer feel like I’m drowning in housework and B) I can do an emergency clean of my entire house in 1 – 2 hours. Interested yet? K, here are my housekeeping tips. How to keep your home clean from an ex-pro.

1) Routine: At the hospital I had a solid routine I followed. I could practically clean with my eyes closed. I knew the order of everything. Not just I’ll start with this room and go to this room, no it was I’ll start with the counters in the bathroom, go to the sink, then the mirror, then the lights above the mirror kind of specific. In order to keep my home clean I made several layers of routine. First, there’s the weekly routine (when I do my laundry etc.) then the daily routine (I have short cleaning sessions in the morning, afternoon, and evening) and finally the specifics routine (during morning cleaning session I start with the dishes, go to the counters, then the floors etc.) If I get enough interest I’ll post my exact routines for you.

2) Be decisive about stuff: At the hospital, the contents of the rooms rarely changed, if ever. I knew where away was all the time because, as the old adage goes everything had a place and everything was in its place. Obviously, this only works to a certain extent in a home where you have multiple people coming and going with their junk. My solution was to start being more decisive about stuff. When I did my general cleaning (clearing stuff off of floors and counters) I had to stop throwing anonymous items in random corners and closets and instead find them a permanent home. Now, If I can’t think of a good place for an item to live, I just toss it. So what about stuff I really need but really can’t find a home for? Well, I had this problem with my mail. I needed a place for bills etc. so I gave myself a deadline and crafted a cute mail organizer. Problem solved.

3) Have the proper tools: Housekeepers get possessive of their carts, no joke, I learned that the hard way, you do not want to mess with someone else’s cart! You get the same cart every shift and you get it all set up so that you have the tools you need stocked and at your fingertips. This same concept can be used in the home. Make sure your cleaning supplies are organized and arranged for convenience. For example, I like to do a quick daily swipe of my bathroom counters. To make it easy I keep a canister of antibacterial wipes in each bathroom. I also keep one in my kitchen. It makes everything quick and easy. I try to use tools that require the least amount of work possible so that the job is faster and easier (like the wipes I can just throw away). If I have a big job to do (like the oven) I prepare first  by purchasing the special tools I will need (foam oven cleaner). It’s hard to keep your home clean if your cleaning tools are a mess, such a simple concept but one I had to learn the hard way :)

4) Get Help: I didn’t clean the hospital by myself, and since I’m not the only one living at my house I shouldn’t clean it by myself either. Without sounding accusatory, I had some good long talks with hubby about how neither of us were very good at picking up after ourselves and we BOTH needed to pitch in around the house. Here’s a sample of how those talks went:

“Honey?” approaching sheepishly

“What?” eyeing me warily

“The house is a mess” maybe a tear or two

“I can tell” sarcasm runs in his family

“I need help!” Plus long exposition on my part

“OK, what can I do?”

Ahh, shout out to my hubby! He’s amazing :)  We discussed how we would divide responsibilities and started doing “clean days” once a week where we would work together to get the house really clean. Clean days kind of fell off the map at the end of hubby’s bachelor’s (he was also working full-time) but they’ve already started back up again and it makes a world of difference to have help.

5) Give it time: Housekeepers dread new hires. Not because they see housekeeping as an exclusive clique or anything, just because new hires are so slow! When I started, those thirty minute rooms took me over an hour! It was nuts. Keeping your house clean is the same way, it takes time to get the hang of it. It may start out slow, but if you keep working on it and getting used to your routines you will eventually get the hang of it.

Try to remember that no one has a perfect house, and this isn’t a competition. When you’re the primary homemaker you can’t just call in sick or take maternity leave. Life happens, things get busy. Just stay calm and do the best you can right? I know to some this will all seem insanely easy and simple, but to those of us who aren’t born neat freaks, it takes practice.

What are your housekeeping tips? Do you ever feel like you’re underwater?

This is part of a series called Keepin’ it Clean in 2014. Up next: 26 Ways to motivate yourself to clean. 

 

DIY No Sew Lacy Felt Hair bow

DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

I wanted to make Little Lion something cute for our family pictures, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money or time. This is what I came up with. Made from scraps, these bows turned out really cute and they were so easy! These only cost pennies to make and they would make great stocking stuffers for little girls. 

Supplies:

  • Felt scraps
  • Glue gun
  • 1 glue stick
  • binding clips
  • lace scraps

Step 1. Cut 4 strips of felt as pictured as well as two strips of lace, 1 3 inches long and the other 1/2 an inch long.

DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

2. Fold the 3 inch strip in half and cut out a little triangle

DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

3.  Hot glue the 3 inch lace strip to the three-inch felt strip. P.S. if you’re really cool and Gilmore-like you’ll use a Chinese take out menu to catch the hot glue ;)

DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

4. Take your 4 inch strip of felt and pull the two ends into a circle as pictured. Put daubs of hot glue on the outside edges as indicated in the picture (thank heavens for pictures right?)

DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

5. Attach your circle of felt to the lacy 3 inch felt strip like so

DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

6. Add a daub of hot glue to the inside and top of your felt circle, then, using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the circle closed as pictured

DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

7. Hot glue your 1 inch strip to the top and back of your bow. Let it cool.
DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

8. Pull the felt tightly around the bow, pinching and bunching the loops as you go. Make sure it’s good and tight and then hot glue on the same spot where you attached it – on the top and back of the bow.DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

9. Hot glue the 1/2 inch strip of lace around the middle. The bow is now finished. You can stop here or keep going if you want to turn it into a hair-clip.DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

8. Open your binding clip and hot glue the remaining felt strip to it. Make sure to get lots of glue around the circle at the end. This is how you will get it to stay put. Let it cool, trim the felt around the clip and hot glue the bow to it, let it cool and close it.
DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

 

Now revel in the fact that it only took you 10 minutes to make that bow, and the next 15 or so will only take you 2 minutes each hee hee :) If it isn’t meant to be a surprise, this is a great project to do with your little girl. Little Lion woke up from nap in the middle of this project and had a great time telling me which colors to glue next. She was SO excited. In her words, “Mom I’m so exciting!” lol. Poor jaguar was jealous and tried to help out too. I won’t be surprised if I find little felt bits in his diaper later.

DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

 

Confession: I made these for Little Lion but I keep finding myself wearing them. :) It’s corny, but I like wearing them when Little Lion is wearing them. Hey, I never claimed to be a fashionista!DIY no sew lacy felt hairbow

A mother’s influence – my take on women and the priesthood

In all events a mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person in any other relationship.I remember the day very well. I was sitting in young women’s listening to a lesson about the priesthood. I was fourteen, and while I was a very thoughtful fourteen-year-old I didn’t really have a firm handle on what life was all about.

I was listening to the teacher talk about  a man’s role in the church and I wondered why women are given such a different role. I wondered why women don’t hold the priesthood or high leadership positions. I felt troubled and confused.

For the next couple of weeks I thought and prayed about my questions, hoping for an answer. One day, while I was sitting on the bus a friend who was a member of another church asked me why women didn’t hold the priesthood. He wasn’t being antagonistic, and he was genuinely concerned for me as a woman. I told him I didn’t really know, but that women have a special place in the church, that they hold many leadership positions in the church, and that I never felt treated like I was less than the men in church. I believed what I told him, and as we talked, I knew what I was telling him was true, but I still didn’t feel completely at peace with my questions.

I went home and sat in the living room where I prayed again about my question. I felt like I should look in the scriptures. I picked up the large, ornate Book of Mormon my parents keep on their coffee table and began to flip the pages. Something caught my eye, and I stopped and began to read Alma 56 and 57, the stripling warriors. I stopped on 56:48

“And they rehearsed unto me the words of their amothers, saying: We bdo not doubt our mothers knew it.”

And that’s when it hit me. I don’t need to hold the priesthood. As a woman I have the ability to influence others in a motherly way, and I can do miracles. When I tap into the divine nature planted in me by my Heavenly Father I can make a huge difference at church, at home, and in the world. I didn’t know the details of everything but I finally felt peace, a powerful peace that I still feel when I think about the order of the church today. I knew, and still know that the Lord is at the head of this church and it’s set up how he wants it at this time.

I was only fourteen, I didn’t know where my life would go, I didn’t know that I would have the opportunity to marry and have children, but I knew that I would have the opportunity to mother (for are we not all mothers?), and that was enough for me.

I’m not suggesting that this answer will satisfy everyone’s questions, but I write this post hoping that it can help someone. Elder D Todd Christofferson said, “In all events,  a mother can exert  an influence  unequaled  by any other person in any other relationship,”. Wow. That’s powerful. And as a woman, I feel like I am powerful… just as powerful as my wonderful priesthood holding husband. I have the power to teach, to feed (literally and spiritually), to kiss boo-boos, to build others confidence, to notice when someone needs a motherly hug or phone call.

We have different roles and responsibilities but we’re on the same side. We use our different gifts with the same goals in mind, to create and strengthen families, to exert our power for whatever is virtuous and lovely and good. This is not meant to be THE answer for anyone. This is just MY answer to peace on the subject. I hope and pray that other women can find that same peace and feel as powerful as I do.

Disclaimer: I’m not an official representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Everything here is my opinion. I’m just a normal Mormon mommy hoping what I post can help myself and others as we seek to reach our potential :)

Baby {food} making!

baby food DIYI just finished my first baby food making extravaganza. The kiddos were in bed, the house was reasonably clean, and I had a fridge full of goodies that would make great first foods for Little Jaguar. I like the idea of making my own baby food because it’s cheap and I know exactly what kind of processing went into making it, plus I get a sense of accomplishment from knowing that I don’t need Gerber to feed my baby. I can do it all on my own. :)

If you want to shed the shackles of store-bought baby food too feel free to follow along:

Today I made Mango, Pear, Sweet Potato, and Carrots for my little gourmet.

I started with the carrots, I peeled 4 large carrots and chopped them up into large chunks. Then I steamed them until they were soft (about 15 minutes) and put them in the blender along with 1 cup of the liquid I used to steam the carrots (I used this liquid because after steaming it’s really nutrient dense). I blended it all up ( by pressing the “batters” button on my fancy blender) and then poured it into an ice-cube tray which I covered and put in the freezer. Later I popped the carrots out and put them in a labeled freezer bag complete with the date. These amounts filled one ice-cube tray.

carrot baby food recipe

Next came the Mango. This was the easiest one. I just peeled and pitted the mango, blended it, poured it into an ice-cube tray, covered it, and froze it. Once again, popping it into a labeled freezer bag after it was frozen. Three large mango’s filled half of an ice-cube tray.

mango baby food recipe

Mmmm, I love me some pear sauce. I used my fancy apple corer to peel and core 4 pears which I then steamed until they were soft, (about 5 minutes) and blended with 1/2 cup of the steam water.

coring pears

This mixture was then poured into an ice-cube tray, covered, frozen, and then popped into a labeled freezer bag. These amounts filled 1/2 an ice-cube tray.

pear baby food recipe

Finally, the sweet potatoes. I peeled one large sweet potato and diced it into about 1 inch cubes. I then steamed it using the leftover pear steaming liquid. It took about 20 minutes to soften. The potato was then blended with 1 cup of steam water, covered, frozen, and finally popped out into a labeled bag. One potato filled 1 and 1/2 ice-cube trays.

sweet potatoes baby food recipe

When you want to use the food, just reheat it in the microwave. Frozen baby food should be used within one month of making it, which shouldn’t be a problem here. I taste tested all of these, and I was almost wishing I was a baby again, it was pretty yummy.

DIY baby food recipes

You can follow the above formulas for just about any fruits or vegetables, but don’t try to freeze mashed up bananas. It doesn’t work, however you CAN freeze sliced bananas and THEN blend them into a yummy banana custard type creation. Just a thought.

So, did anybody try this? What is your baby’s favorite food? Is the time worth the money saved? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments :) Thanks, and happy Baby {food} making ;).

Elder Holland quote – printable

So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend.

I loved this talk from conference and I know it touched a lot of people. Here’s a printable – free for noncommercial use. Enjoy :)

DIY Wall Art – Pray more, Worry less

DIY wall art

So, I found this amazing 3 x 5 foot seascape with a gorgeous, ornate frame at a yard sale and I knew right away that I wanted to revamp it for our home. Hubby and I spent a lot of time talking about what message we wanted on it and ultimately settled on Pray more, Worry less. It’s a nice daily reminder that no matter what is troubling us the Lord is aware and in charge. We don’t need to spend so much time worrying because it’s in His hands.

And now for the tutorial:

Supplies:

1 vintage painting

painter’s tape

2 colors acrylic paint

paintbrush

1″ foam paintbrush

Instructions:

1. Use your painter’s tape to write out a message or block out a design

2. Paint over the painting – I did it with a swirly brush stroke but you could do just about any type – you could also do this with spray paint

3

3. When the paint is almost dry but still tacky, pull the tape off and let it dry overnight.

2

4. paint on whatever extra touches you want – this is where I painted out worry less :)

worry

5. let it dry and hang it up

DIY Wall art

 

 

low-fat broccoli soup

broccoli soup recipe

This low fat broccoli bisque is really flavorful and easy to make. It tastes like a cream soup,  but has no milk or cream in it, instead it has some awesome sauce on top that gives a yummy tang to every bite.  I made it using the blendtec blender my husband won when he competed in Zion’s bank’s Cheapster competition. No, no one paid me to say that – I just mention it out of gratitude for the amazing blender. This makes about 4 bowls of soup so it’s more of an appetizer or light lunch.

Ingredients:

topping:low fat broccoli soup

1/3 c olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp lemon juice

thyme to taste

Soup:broccoli soup

1 clove garlic crushed and chopped

1/2 yellow onion chopped

2 cups broccoli florets

3 celery stalks chopped

2 cans low sodium chicken broth

cooking spray

Directions:

1. combine topping ingredients and set aside

2. spray your pot with coking oil and saute garlic and onion for 3 minutes or until soft and slightly browned

3. add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer for three minutes or until broccoli is cooked

4. pour soup into your blender and blend until smooth (I just press the soup button on my blendtec)

blender soup

5. pour soup into bowls and drizzle about a Tbsp of topping on each bowl of soup, if you want a little extra color you can sprinkle some paprika on top of that, serve with bread-sticks.