How any mom can finish her to do list + an easy craft

63% of professionals use to-do lists, at least according to a linkdn study published in 2012, but, according to the same study, only 11% of those professionals complete them. Can I get an amen to that?

As a stay at home mom I have to be self motivated and organized or my home gets chaotic…fast…like faster than Michael Phelps in a crocodile infested swimming pool kind of fast. One of the best tools in my arsenal? The to-do list, and while there are definitely days I don’t get through my to-do list. Lately there are more and more days where I rock it.

Here are my easy tricks for getting through your to-do list:

How to finish your to do list - stay at home mom

1. Don’t “overlist” yourself: If you aren’t getting through your list, put fewer things on it. This seems obvious, but for type A overachiever types (like myself) it’s not. No, you are not failing at your list because you are failing at life! You’re just over-scheduling yourself. I try to limit my list to 5 or 6 items.

2. Don’t make your list too rigid: My husband plans his day out by the hour, school from 8-10, work from 4-4, lunch from noon – 1 etc. But as mom’s (or stay at home dad’s) our lives just aren’t that predictable. Every single task is interrupted, there are hungry kids (who were just fed an hour ago), stubbed toes (that can only be healed by a kiss), peed pants, is it nap time already? You get the picture. It’s OK to have a few items that have to be completed at a certain time, but try not to get overwhelmed if it’s 2 pm and you’re not done yet. There are so many things we do as moms that can’t be quantified or checked off in a list. Healthy happy kids are the goal, not five satisfying check marks.

How to finish your to do list - busy moms

 

3.  Keep it consistent: For the most part, my list looks the same from day-to-day. It’s part of my routine and the fact that it is pretty similar day-to-day means that when I inevitably get distracted I can get back on track once the distraction is over, rather than wandering off and starting something else entirely. This tip is HUGE for me. Seriously, if you only pay attention to one of these tips, I would start with this one.

4. Start your list in the morning: Have you ever had a morning where you were too tired to get out of bed so you let the kids watch Daniel Tiger while you caught an extra thirty minutes of shut-eye? How did the rest of the day go? Was it easy to get back into your usual routine and be productive? I’m not saying days like that don’t happen. We’re human after all, but if you are looking for a productive day then it’s a lot easier if it starts out that way.

5. Keep your list in a visible place: My to-do list is on the baker’s rack in my kitchen. It’s front and center. I see it multiple times every day, so when I’m distracted or zoned out (now what did I come into the kitchen for?) I can see my list and get going. I don’t know if it’s my right-brained self or what, but I get side tracked easily. This tip helps me “re-rail” quickly when that happens…. like fifty times a day…

So, now that you’ve read my easy tips for how to get through your to-do list. Here’s my super easy way to make a reusable white board to do list.

First, take an 8 x 10 piece of paper, I used butcher paper, and crumple it up into a ball.

wadded paper

Then, smooth it out as best you can

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Place it into a picture frame, mine came from the dollar store

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And you are done!

How to be a productive stay at home mom

Grab a dry-erase marker and get to-do-ing. You can do a traditional to do list. Or you can even play a game with yourself. Check out this tic-tac-to-do list I made. Once you’ve accomplished three things you win! Wooo hooo!).

6

And it can be used for many purposes. I actually do my home pre-school on it before writing my to-do list in the morning.

5

Moral of the Story: Getting stuff done is hard. But you can do it! Go grab a to do list and feel productive :)

DIY nursing top, or how to make a low tank modest

Would you believe that this is a nursing shirt?

Here's another one

Well, it is! And I made three just like it. I’m in major nesting mode and I need to prepare for the new baby. So I spent the morning making these nursing tops instead of cleaning or boxing, oh, I’m moving in a week. I really should have been boxing stuff up. Pshhh… whatev.  I got rid of a bunch of clothes and found a way to make these old shirts work. I’ve worn each of them only a handful of times because they all turned out to be too low and layering them with other tanks never seemed to work. So here’s my DIY nursing top, or if your tanks tend to creep down, a way to make them more modest.

I started out with four tops.

DIY nursing tank top tutorial

I chose to use the white one as a base for all the other tops. I cut off the straps and then cut along the seams so I had two panels, I cute those panels in half and used three of them for the three shirts.

DIY Nursing tops

snip off the straps

 

DIY nursing top

Imagine each of these two panels cut in half

 

I turned the uncut shirts inside out and laid the panels on top.

DIY nursing top

 

I added lace to the panels on a couple of them. Then I pinned the panels and sewed them onto the shirts.

DIY nursing top

I sewed four lines on each tank top. Two little ones on the straps and then two long ones along the side seams. For the pink shirt I just found the seams and sewed all along. Be careful to only sew on seams so it doesn’t show through.

DIY Nursing top

DIY nursing top

DIY nursing top

When you are done sewing just turn the top right side out and put it on. You are ready to nurse discreetly! Just pull the inner panel up and push the outside tank or shirt down. Let me show you a picture so you see what I mean.

DIY nursing top

A normal layered top? You would think so!

DIY nursing top

wa-Bam! To actually nurse pull the bottom down as well and it leaves this tiny little opening for baby to eat without anyone realizing what’s going on.

Here's another one

Here’s another one

DIY nursing top

See how it works? It’s so sneaky!

This is my least favorite one but it still worked out OK.  I wish I would have attached the undershirt a bit lower.

This is my least favorite one but it still worked out OK. I wish I would have attached the undershirt a bit lower.

It still works, and it's a loose shirt I can wear easily as soon as baby is born.

It still works, and it’s a loose shirt I can wear easily as soon as baby is born.

 

It’s a simple project, but I would suggest a stretch needle and a gathering foot to make it go smoothly. Good luck and happy sewing! P.S. I am so not a seamstress so if I explained anything the wrong way please help each other out in the comments. :)

DIY Grandparent Gift/ Craft – grandkids photo display

DIY grandparent gift

It’s not like we live across the world from each other, we’re only a state apart, but we don’t get to see each other more than a few times a year so I often find myself missing our families. I especially miss seeing everyone with my babies. We try hard to stay connected. We call each other, Skype, and send the kid’s artwork in the mail, but every so often it feels like we need to do more. We were feeling exactly this way as we prepared for Valentine’s, after a search on Pinterest we decided to make these grand-babies photo displays to send to the grandparents. I sent them in the mail with more pictures than could reasonably fit on the display and somehow I feel less homesick when I think about everyone looking at the pictures we send. I love to imagine these displays at the grandparents homes, connecting us in spirit even though we can’t be there physically.

Here’s the tutorial on how I made them.

Supplies: 1 wooden board, stain, acrylic paint, sandpaper, two hooks, a length of yarn, hardware for hanging, pictures

Estimated Cost: Without pics less than $5 With pics: depends on the size you print could be anywhere from $10 – $20

1. First I sanded down a piece of reclaimed wood.

2. Then I stained it, waited for it to dry and painted over the stain with some watered down acrylic, after that dried I sanded again to give it a distressed vintage feel.

DIY grandparent gift

3. I messed around until I found a font I liked and painted on grand-babiesDIY grandparent gift

4. Next I screwed a hook into the bottom corners of the boards, making sure to keep them on the same plane as each other.

5. I then stretched some yarn across the hooks, tying it tight. You could use just about anything for this: yarn, string, twine, fishing line, etc.

6. I took 13 Clothespins and hung them on the line, just to try it out, then put them in an envelope for the mail.

7. I printed out some pictures and put them in an envelope to be sent with the rest of the gift. DIY grandparent gift

8. Finally, I mailed them with some push-pin wall hangers in a separate envelope so the grandparents could place them however they wanted to.

DIY grandparent gift

 

I got my “Pin”spiration: here here and here

Happy crafting!

DIY Hot Chocolate Bar by Mindy

Today we’ve got a guest post from Mindy, the awesome founder of Tangled Up With String, a new blog craft blog that I’m sure ya’ll would like.

My “Hot Chocolate Bar”

Hey Everyone!

I am so excited to be guest posting here at Amber May Be… ! I love Amber and everything that she shares with us.

I am from a cute little blog called Tangled Up With String. There are five of us creative ladies working together to share our ideas with others and develop more talents ourselves. We are having so much fun and would love for you to follow us!

Today, I decided to share my cute little Cocoa Bar with you! I love having hot cocoa out for guests when they come over. And I always keep my tea pot ready to go on my stove.

DIY Hot Chocolate Bar 

1. I make a chalkboard printable to fit this time of year! I thought that it would be so fun to have it be a heart theme for Valentine’s Day. You can get the free printable HERE  in two different sizes!

2. I picked up a simple silver frame from our local dollar store.

3. These little silver trays were also from the dollar store. I wanted something to make it look more streamlined and connected.

4. A couple of years ago, I scored this apothecary jar from a second hand store in town. Oh ya! I keep our hot chocolate in it.

5. These are some of the mugs that we have (I really like white dinnerware. It is clean AND I can change the colors in my kitchen without wanting to buy new dishes…… yes, I already made that mistake!)

6. These little jars are actually old salsa jars from the store. After we used the salsa, I put them through the dishwasher three times. Yes, three times! The first two times didn’t get the salsa smell out. After the third time, I let them sit (with the lids on) for three days with some newspaper inside of them. I had heard that trick worked for Tupperware, so I tried it with these. Yep! It worked! After spray painting the lids sliver, everything matched perfectly! I added some mini marshmallows and creamer to sweeten up the cocoa.

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

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

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

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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

 

 

Toddler Quiet Book Ideas

I made a felt quiet book for Little Lion for Christmas this year. Now that I’ve published mini-tutorials on all of the pages I did I figured it would be nice for you to have it all in one place, so here it is, a recap of my quiet book pages. All of these are toddler appropriate and interactive. Little Lion enjoys all of them. You can click on any of the pictures to see the post about the page it shows.

quiet book page

Quiet Book Shapes Page

colors quiet book page idea

quiet book page busy bees

Christmas Quiet Book Page

This page is one of the most detailed pages I did. The idea is to decorate the Christmas tree with the ornaments kept in the box. Some parts were sewn and others embroidered. Everything was based on what we actually had in our home at Christmas time. I put our clock on the wall, embroidered our green couch on the floor, and based all of the ornaments off of ornaments we actually had. I think this made it more fun for Little Lion. Christmas is long gone now, but she still enjoys the page. Maybe it will help us keep the spirit of Christmas with us a little longer :)

You gotta love felt, it’s cheap, versatile, it sticks to itself… it really is perfect for quiet book making. If anyone does there own version of Christmas Quiet Book let me know. I’d love to see what you come up with!

It’s a spaghett-a quiet book-a page!

Have you read the title of this post? My Italian accent really is as bad as it sounds in your head :). This was the last page I made, and even though I still cringe at the sewing, it’s one of Little Lion’s favorites. I made this page around five a.m. on Christmas morning when I realized I needed at least one more page to make my “book” pages back to back. It was quick and easy to make, and it brings out the chef in my daughter. A picture is worth a thousand words, but if you have any questions on how I made it, feel free to ask, and I will answer to the best of my ability. Happy quiet book making!Spaghetti quiet book page

spaghetti quiet book page idea

quiet book page

spaghetti quiet book page

spaghetti quiet book page idea