Sometimes, the only time we have to get anything done is while our kids are napping. Check out the 9 tasks that will help you leverage this precious time, as well as 13 ways to keep older (or more stubborn) kids occupied.


7 Creativity Boosting Coloring Books (that will look cool in your pillow fort)

I love coloring books. There. I said it.

Just kidding, that really didn’t need declaring, yet somehow we feel the need to clarify that we’re using “adult coloring books”, or “Prismacolor pencils”, or *insert expensive art supply here*. Or it’s declared, but as a defiant joke… “I’m tired of adulting, so I’m gonna make a pillow fort and color!”

What if you can color, without needing to justify? What if I told you, that it’s a perfectly legitimate creative outlet? It’s a great thing to do with your kids? You can even use it to practice things like shading, or color theory. Shocking right?

Of course not. You’re a freaking rockstar unicorn, so you already know this. I’m just going to tell you a few of my favorite things coloring books, so you can join me in the big coloring party in my pillow fort. (Shhhh there’s even Play-Doh, and cookies!)

1. Lost Ocean

I know, you thought I was gonna go for Secret Garden, but I actually like this one a teeny bit more… I think maybe I’m a pirate at heart. Arrrrrrggh!!

2. Creative Coloring Inspirations

You can actually find that first page for free, but there’s 29 other adorable designs inside, and best of all? One sided! So if you want to pull these out (and they’re perforated!), you can color these with marker (just put some scrap papers under, because it WILL bleed through).

3. Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Animal Designs

I just picked this one up, so I haven’t done much with it, but I had a blast with an eagle design inside. It’s not quite finished, but you can always stalk my Instagram to see the completed page.

4. Secret Paris: Color Your Way to Calm

This is one of the very few on the list I didn’t buy myself (one I don’t own at all yet, and another is on pre-order). My sweet friend/client (aren’t those the best clients?) bought it for me when I went to go see her at CreativeLive. She bought coloring books for all of the audience members, but she carefully chose which ones went to which person!

5. Vive Le Color! Japan

Okay, fair warning… I don’t own this book, YET. I actually just found it when I was pulling up the other books on this list. You should know (since some of the reviewers didn’t read the info) that this is 7″ x 7″, so it’s smaller than some of them had anticipated. But why I’m super intrigued? It’s rubber-glue bound AT THE TOP, so it’s leftie friendly too! And these are single sided, so if you want to take them off and marker/watercolor, you can! (Again, put scraps underneath, because I don’t know how thick the paper is.)

6. Magical Jungle: An Inky Expedition and Coloring Book for Adults

This is the second Johanna Basford coloring book on the list, and I don’t own it. But to be fair, it’s not even out yet… I’m pre-ordering it, and it comes out just before my birthday (it’s my birthday present to me!).

7. Day of the Dead Coloring Book

Okay no one ever said that unicorns can’t dig the weird and wonderful, right? I’m totally fascinated by Dia de Muertos (which for the record is a wholly misunderstood holiday), and these sugar skulls are a blast to color. It’s a great opportunity to go crazy with colors!


Okay, so give me the goodies… what’s YOUR favorite coloring book right now?

**Yes. If you buy from these links, I’ll get a tiny kick-back. Enough for extra pillows, crayons, and world domination.​**

Confessions of a Not So Shy Introvert

One of the biggest misconceptions about introverts is that they’re shy. However most of my introvert friends aren’t shy introverts.

I’m not a shy introvert.

So before I tell a few secrets about what my introversion looks like, here’s a quick explanation of what that means.

Merriam-Webster defines introversion as:

  1. the act of introverting:  the state of being introverted (helpful right?)

  2. the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life

Currently uploading program "deep thoughts"
Currently uploading program “deep thoughts”

Here’s how Amanda-Sue defines introversion…

Some people (while they enjoy people) get exhausted after being around them, and have to take time to chill in solitude, and we call these people introverts. Some people thrive being around others, and in fact get very sullen if they have to endure being by themselves for long periods of time. We call these people weirdos extroverts.

So it really has nothing to do with being shy… and it doesn’t mean that we can’t be around people, or on a stage, or anything else. We can still lead fully functional lives, it just looks different than an extroverts. You can see an extreme example of this with I vs E celebrities. We’re talking Johnny Depp vs Mel Gibson. Florence Welch vs Beyonce. Lady Gaga vs. Nicki Minaj.

And you may be thinking… Lady Gaga an introvert? She’s very loud, and wild… and yes, she is… but on stage. Off stage her quirkiness becomes a shield from the public eye. You can hear her introversion come out when she explains to Oprah, that the reason she wore the meat dress, was she felt that the smell would probably keep people away from her. (Which is gross, and hilarious, and a little relatable…)

Geeky Arial | Amanda Sue Howell | Confessions of a Not So Shy Introvert
proof you can be a wild introvert 😉

Okay so, are you on board with what introversion is? Cool! So after my very long-winded explanation, here are my introvert confessions.

  1. I perpetually want to be invited to things, but not be obligated to stay very long. I kind of want to breeze through, dazzle everyone with my snark & wit, and retreat to my reading chair.
  2. When I’m around a tiny group of people, I can seem extremely outgoing, but I will use up all of my energy in that conversation, and go home and not leave my house for days… happily.
  3. Even when I go to events with a gazillion people, I will either text a friend I know has attended, and go find her, or I’ll patiently wait in my seat for someone to come find me.
  4. Because I spend so much time with my own magical thoughts, I frequently look very intense. The young people refer to this as “RBF”, but my mama reads this blog, so you can just google that for yourself.
  5. People sometimes think I’m anti-social. I’m really not. I’m just selectively social. Asking you to coffee (or anything else) is kind of a “I choose you, Pikachu” moment, so you should feel very special.
  6. I get asked all the time “whatcha thinking about”. I usually say “nothing”, which kind of makes me sound brainless (and I should probably stop saying), but the fact is I’m usually thinking of about 27 things all at the same time, only 3 of which are related, and your head would spin so fast that you’d cancel that coffee date. And since it’s the only interaction I signed up for this month, I’d be a very sad panda indeed.
  7. I’m kind of obsessed with personality stuff, and I can happily talk introvert vs extrovert vs ambivert for hours.

Okay there’s probably more, but this is a great start! And my intro was so long that I feel like I should rescue you at least a wee bit. If you’re a fellow introvert, what’s your confession?

What Happens When You Learn That You’re An Artist?

Quite frankly, I don’t remember what it’s like to not be able to read. I don’t remember what it’s like to not know my colors, or numbers, or how to cook. Education is an incredible thing… it not only changes your future, but it re-shapes your past.

Me reading
Wasn’t I cute?

A similar (and most interesting) thing happens when you go on a voyage of self-discovery. You’ll take a personality test, or someone will make an off-hand comment that brings something to your awareness, and all at once you’re both shocked to discover it’s true, and boggled that you never realized it before.

For example, I recently had a session with my business coach where she pointed out that one of my number one hindrances to my personal productivity, is that I feel compelled to solve everyone‘s problems. Right now you may be thinking that it’s my job to handle my client’s problems, or my family’s problems… but no…

She really does mean everyone. And it’s true.

If I overhear someone ask a question, I want to help them find the answer.

If someone off-handedly mentions that someone in a TV show looks familiar, I have to look it up.

If someone in a Facebook group asks a question that even begins to be in my random storehouse of knowledge, I want to help them.

If one of my friends creates a program, I want to jump in so I can support them.

At one point, I was in almost half a dozen Instagram challenges, because I wanted to support every friend of mine that was running one. Did I mention that I was running my own at the time? You know what happened? Almost none of them got done, including my own. Boooooo hisssss.

When I told my Mom about the conversation, she started laughing. “Boy she’s really got your number”, she said. I would have protested, but I’d already realized it was true. Over the course of the next week, I had to tell myself “no!” on about half a dozen courses, 3 month-long challenges, and a couple more Instagram challenges. I have issues, man.

In another conversation with that same business coach, she mentioned me being an idea person, and how I need to really focus down and keep my eye on the prize. It may come as a shock to you, but despite the fact that I’ve brainstormed half a dozen courses, a dozen future Cheeky Guide topics, a monthly Instagram challenge, and any number of other things… I was blissfully unaware that I’m an idea person.

It gets even more hilarious, if you know that I’m an INFP. An INFP is literally categorized as an “idea generator”.

I can’t make this stuff up… don’t you feel normal now?

So something I’ve never grasped for myself, is being an artist. I’ve been called an artist (or artistic) probably most of my life. When I was young I was praised for my very neat coloring, and it won me a stuffed animal (can’t recall if it was my Mickey or my Big Bird… I had a lot of stuffed animals as a kid). I had a book about drawing horses and prided myself on how quickly I picked up drawing them… I even showed them to our hometown artist (who specialized in drawing/painting horses).

I paint, draw, doodle, crochet, knit (a little), photograph, write, sing, story-tell, quill, cross stitch, hand letter, color, write calligraphy, cook…

Crocheting | What Happens When You Learn That You're An Artist? | Amanda Sue Howell |


Okay so I’m not trying to brag here…. I really just want to paint a picture, because it should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t. Not until I wrote about the undervaluing of artisans last week. It’s a topic I feel very strongly about, and I’ve ranted about it in person dozens of times, but never really on my blog. And when I did, I had an instantaneous response. One person even asked if they could gush over one of the sentences. Gush. Over something I wrote?

The more I thought about my post, and the more response I got to it, the more I realized why it’s such a fire-inducing topic to me. Because I am an artist. Me. An artist. Who knew?

Uhhhh basically everybody but me.

I am an artist.

Seriously though, there’s something special that happens when you step into what you’re designed to do. In my case, I’ve colored more in the last week than I have in months. And you might say that coloring isn’t “technically” an artistic endeavor. In which case I’d say that I dare you to google “johanna basford coloring tutorials” and tell me some of those people aren’t freaking artists.

Lisa Frank Ship | What Happens When You Learn That You're An Artist? | Amanda Sue Howell |

But it’s not just the coloring. I’m feeling inspired to step back art forms I haven’t played with in months, or even years, because I didn’t feel like I could justify it. It was something I could do in my “spare” time. Have you ever noticed that spare time doesn’t really exist? We humans are experts at finding ways to whittle away every second we have with busywork.

So I ask you, will you join me in this journey? We’re closing out the first quarter of March, and I’m ending it with a beautiful discovery. I plan to spend the rest of 2016, discovering what my true bent (or bents… yay for multipods!) is/are. If you’re a fellow artist, I’d love for you to declare it in the comments below… shout it out, loud and proud. Link to something you’ve made!

The Undervaluing of Artisans

I always hesitate when telling someone that I’m going to do a rant post. In the back of my mind I feel like they think I’m about to launch into a Peter Griffin style “you know what really grinds my gears” type rant. So at the risk of someone thinking I’m a Family Guy fan (which I’m not), you know what really grinds my gears? Our culture’s undervaluing of artisans and creatives.

Undervaluing of Artisans | Amanda Sue Howell |

Once upon a time artists were appreciated. In medieval times, parents took their children to be apprenticed to artisans & craftsmen, because “masters” of the craft often had a higher social standing in their community.


Because only the wealthy could afford such luxuries, and the more skilled someone was, the more desirable their goods were. You could end up making things for a wealthy landowner, or a lord of the court, or even a king.

So artisans were prized. Valued. Appreciated.

Fast forward to today. Now we have companies selling shirts that say “Aspiring Young Artist President”, as if being a politician is somehow a worthier plan than pursuing your God-given creative giftings.

We have people commenting on people’s social media posts, to inform them how unimpressed they are with their college degree, because “you only have a lib arts degree”. Firstly, everyone goes through the same core stuff. Secondly, you have no idea what they minored in (or if they double majored). Thirdly, why is a liberal arts degree a thing to be demeaned?


How can we fix this?

First, we need to stop putting creativity/artistry into a box. For some reason, people say things like “I’m not creative… I don’t paint”, or “I’m not creative, I can’t draw a stick figure”. Let’s take a second and look at some of the things that fall under the artistic umbrella…

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Sculpting
  • Photography
  • Woodworking
  • Sewing
  • Embroidery
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Tatting
  • Macrame
  • Beadwork
  • Smithing
  • Gardening
  • Pottery
  • Baking
  • Cooking
  • Brewing
  • Candlemaking
  • Carving
  • Glass blowing
  • Calligraphy
  • Quilting
  • Leatherwork
  • Pyrography
  • Scale modeling
  • Decoupage
  • Collage
  • Scrapbooking
  • Rubber stamping
  • Origrami
  • Quilling (also called paper filigree)
  • Writing
  • Videography
  • Graphic design
  • Comedy
  • Singing

I could go on, but I’ll stop there. You’re seriously telling me that you can’t do any of those? Maybe, but could you learn even one? Yes. I know right now you’re thinking “but Amanda, some of those are learned skills… glass blowing? You can’t just jump up and do it!”

True. That’s the point. Any of these can be learned. No one wakes up knowing how to do quilting. Are some people more bent towards a certain skill? Maybe. I think it could be argued that some people are more persistent in pursuing certain skills.

Secondly, practice is an astonishing thing. Back a year or two ago I read an article in Huffington Post about the value of practice. The differences people made in 6 months, or a year were amazing. And yes, the people who have put in decades of practice are putting out seriously incredible work, but everyone starts somewhere.

Thirdly, stop defining your skills by someone else’s creations. If Picasso had tried to paint like Monet, the world wouldn’t know his name. Many artists struggle with feeling appreciated… over the years the world has lost many bright stars because they didn’t realize how needed they truly were. And the tragedy is that they never truly learned to appreciate their own work.


It’s become almost a rite of passage for being a creative.

I hear it all the time…. “Oh I just hate my own work… you know how it is, you’re an artist”. Why do we feel like it’s mandatory to dislike our own work? Are we trying to achieve perfection? Are we afraid of being called out for cockiness? Whatever it is, our own inability to be own our own best salesperson has caused a culture where no one understands how precious creativity is.

So here’s my plea… stop saying you’re not creative. I guarantee that you are. And if you can’t figure out how you’re creative, you can email me, and I’ll help you out.

Why I’m Excited About a Webinar

Very rarely do I promote things for other people. I see people who constantly pimp something out, and it dilutes their credibility, and it quickly becomes like background noise. It’s like the little boy who cried wolf… why should we get excited about this thing, when you’re supposedly excited about everything.

So I’m very selective about what I promote.

That having been said, I’m excited about Tara Gentile’s webinar for Quiet Power Strategy*. Here are a few quick reasons why.


  • I have a bad bad habit of signing for too darn many courses/webinars/ebooks. And it’s not that I just collect them and ever go through them… I go through all of them, and often I’m disappointed to find out it’s just junk. Tara Gentile has never let me down. I’ve learned something very ebook, webinar, CreativeLive course, etc.
  • She was speaking my language when she said that she’d teach a step-by-step strategy. As an INFP, I’m an idea generator. I can come up with ideas in spades… but then I falter. I get super overwhelmed, and I don’t even know where to start.

Because it’s Tara, I know I’m going to get a lot out of the webinar alone… much less the actual program.

We’ve all attended webinars where they spend the first 20 minutes talking about who they are, where they got started, how they wound up where they are, then they spend the next 15-20 maybe teaching something (but nothing really life shattering or ground breaking), and then they “accidentally” go over their promised hour long timeframe, because they spend the next 30 minutes pitching, another 20 answering questions, and another 20 minutes announcing all of the names of people who are signing up as they speak.

I hate that!

Tara gives fluff-free webinars, which is seriously the best thing ever. I’ve got 5 kids, 2 of which are homeschooled. The other 3 are too young for school, which means they’re the perfect age to get into everything, and not really grasp “that’s not yours”. That adds up to I don’t have time to waste.

I can’t tell you ways that this has changed my life, because I’m not an alum (yet). I have signed up for QPS* already though, and I can guarantee you it’s going to make a difference. I don’t have to have been through the course to know it’ll be amazing, because I know Tara.

*yes, you’ve probably guessed already, but this darling little asterisk sign means that once again I’ve used an affiliate link. I know last time I told you it would be used for coffee and world domination, but that wasn’t true. It actually goes to world domination and feeding my book addiction.

If you have any questions about why this webinar/this course/Tara Gentile, I’d love to hear from you! Drop them in the comments below, or if they’re personal send me an email at

Running a Business With School-Aged Children: Boundaries & Mutual Respect

Running a Business With School-Aged Children: Boundaries & Mutual Respect

For the month of February, I’ll be chatting about different ways to run a business when you’ve got kiddos. The first week was running a business with a baby, the second week was running a business with a toddler, and today I’ll be talking about will be school-aged kids.

In general I’ve had the typical parenting experience… I’ve been been barfed on, pooped on, and drooled on. I’ve had peanut butter smeared on just about every dark shirt I’ve ever owned, and I’ve learned that if you cheer when your toddler falls on their butt, they’re much less likely to freak out.

But the one thing I have never dealt with, is a child in the bathroom with me while I’m bathing or peeing. Watch the video and find out why. 😉


Like I said in the video… I don’t want my children to think the world revolves around them, but I want them to know that they come before my business. Additionally, I want to be providing a good quality example of what entrepreneurship looks like for my children. Not only am I raising future adults, but I hope that I’m raising future entrepreneurs, and I would want them creating healthy boundaries too.


What are your tips for creating boundaries with your children?