DIY Vegan Chicken-Style Seasoning

Growing up, we would have McKay's Chicken-Style Seasoning on occasion (especially since I was mostly vegetarian). However, the stuff is crazy expensive, in my humble opinion, and it contains ingredients not suitable for our current lifestyle such as MSG and lactose. I was honestly shocked when I picked up a jar to read the ingredients! 

The only solution was to make some myself. It took a few months before I got something I like, but I have finally done it. I felt that sharing it was almost a duty. I was so excited about this I could hardly wait!

DIY Vegan Chicken-Style Seasoning | www.maplealps.com

It's not as salty as the original, which I actually prefer, and the flavour is out of this world - well, actually it's out of my pantry, but that just makes it that much easier for YOU to make too!

I use it in pretty much everything - soups, sauces, you name it!

DIY Vegan No Chicken-Style Seasoning | www.maplealps.com

Vegan No Chicken-Style Seasoning
Makes about 1/2 Cup
 

1/2 c Nutritional Yeast Flakes
2 TBSP Sea Salt
4 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Onion Powder
4 tsp Celery Salt
4 tsp Turmeric
4 tsp Parsley
1 tsp Basil

1) Combine all ingredients and mix well - either in a mortar and pestle or food processor.

2) Store in airtight container for up to 4 months.

 

Two Years of Marriage & the Best Marriage Advice Ever Received

I can't believe it has been exactly two years since my husband and I officially tied the knot! It has been an exciting time, and I must say, I do love marriage. We have both learned and have grown so much, and I thought it would be fun to share what kind of marriage advice some of my blogging friends received when they got married.

Two Years of Marriage & the Best Marriage Advice Ever Received | www.maplealps.com

Make each other a priority for the first year or so. Bible studies, volunteer opportunities, and other activities can wait. Build your foundation strong, and in Christ, and it will withstand everything that is to come!
- Abbey from Small Town Soul

Well.....here goes. "Argue naked." hat's the best light-hearted advice we were given. But a more serious piece of advice is evident in how my husband designed my engagement ring: the center diamond is as near perfect as he could get it and two smaller, imperfect diamonds on either side of the center one...to remind us that we were both two imperfect people held together by a perfect God.
- Heather from The Rescued Letters

The best advice (besides keeping God at the center, obviously) was that marrying someone with either the expectation they will change or the expectation they will never change will lead to unhappiness. We need to love someone through all the seasons of life. 
- Kate from Stumbling Toward Sainthood

I was told that when you are having a difficult conversation about something, remember to say words like "I feel..." instead of "you are ...." this keeps your spouse from feeling like you are just pointing fingers or placing blame.
- Morgan from My Pear Tree Home

My best marriage advice is: Go to bed angry! My Mema told me this and I rolled my eyes at her. But it was truly the best advice I ever received. Sometimes staying up and arguing or trying to talk through it makes us cranky, tired and miserable. Kiss good night, roll over and sleep on it. It's better to rest than speak as a fool. 
- Lauren from Bellows in the Berkshires

Two Years of Marriage & the Best Marriage Advice Ever Received | www.maplealps.com

My best marriage advice is to make time for quality time! Go on a date, spend and hour really talking without distractions like your phone, TV or computer. Do a fun activity together! It can be hard to find time sometimes but it's so worth it! One hour a week of real meaningful quality time is really all it takes for a healthy thriving relationship. A worthy investment! 
- Lydia from The Evergreen Woods

 When we got married someone suggested that we keep track of how we spend every anniversary, even if it's a super simple date. Seems like something you'd remember but those little details fade fast. I love the idea of looking back after 20 years (or more) and reminiscing about each anniversary together. 
- Rebekah from The Tex-Mex Mom

Our best marriage advice was to have a weekly date night. It seems like it'd be impossible, but we made it through medical school & grad school, residency, and four years of my husband working in the ER while having two kids and only missed our weekly date a handful of times in 10 years of marriage. We had to get creative, but it has been incredibly fun and has kept us focused on each other, even when things were really challenging. 
- Angela from The Mango Memoirs

There will be days you don't like each other and days you'll argue over every single thing but there will also be the days that you can't imagine being anywhere else in your life and you'll fall in love all over again. Marriage is tough, especially in the beginning, but you can't let the tough days affect your every day. 
- Kristin from This Wife & Mommy Life

From Beth Moore in her Bible studies: We have a powerful influence over our man, but we must master timing. 
- Traci from Traces of Faith

Our pastor and his wife invited us to join their small group for newly married couples a month after we were married. The one piece of advice they gave that still stands out in my mind (almost 13 years later!) is to never use the phrases, "you always" and "you never", when arguing. It's alienating and rarely true.
- Crystal from Pennies and Playdough


What's the best marriage/relationship advice you ever received?


 

On Comparing Yourself to Others

Is it just me who has struggled with comparing myself to other people? I used to catch myself feeling sorry for myself when thinking about others people, or seeing their lives flash before me on social media channels. It used to consume me. I moped around in a constant pity party not seeing any value or worth in who I was and it affected every area of my life. I did not realize that comparison for me was truly just another word for envy and idolization.

I am sometimes tempted to think less of myself and watch and romanticize and covet the lives of those around me. The other extreme of comparison can lead to self-righteousness; thinking we are better than others. When I do catch myself, I find that doing the following tips help me quickly get back on track. 

Look to Jesus

The only true comparison we should care about is our comparison to Jesus. We are called to be like Him, so why do we bother looking at anyone else? As one of my favourite hymns goes, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus...and the things of earth will go strangely dim…”. To be like Christ, we must look at Christ.I could honestly end my post here because this is the key, but I will go on and share some more practical points...

 

Find Inspiration

Choose to be inspired by the stories of others. I have personally been inspired by those who have complete, sold-out lives for the Lord and who make a difference in others’ lives - including my own. 

 

Count Your Blessings, be Thankful & Choose to be Content

Count your own blessings and recognize what God has done in your life. I guarantee that if you look back, you can see His leading. Remember His leading in the past, and trust He will lead you now if you continue to surrender yourself to Him. Be thankful, and you will have a hard time complaining. 


Embrace Yourself

We are all individual beings with quirks and personalities that are unique to us. It’s unfair to compare our individuality with someone else’s.

 

"Compare" Yourself To Yourself

Challenge yourself in the areas you want to improve! Chances are, you already have! I have kept a journal for years, and once in a while I'll go back and read entries and see how much I've changed and grown. I'll pour over the stories of challenges I've overcome and am encouraged. 

 "But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbour. For each will have to bear his own load." Galatians 6:4-5

 

Steer Away from Social Media

Let’s talk frankly for a second. While “Keeping up with the Joneses” has always been a thing, social media has increased our awareness of what everyone is doing. But here’s a secret: most people just post the best versions of themselves. I was talking to a friend who was recently on a trip. I was telling her how fun her trip looked based on the photos and such she was posting. She looked at me blankly and said, “I actually had a terrible time. I only posted the fun-looking stuff to make it seem like I was having a blast. Social media only sees the best parts, not the real story.”

I have since decided to stop scrolling excessively (or obsessively) through social media because every time I do, I'm tempted to want the lives I see through my computer or phone even though reality may not be portrayed.

 

Remember that Photoshop Exists

If you, like a lot of people on this planet, struggle with comparing yourself not only to the lives of your friends, but to the images plastered on billboards, in magazines, and the stars who lead seemingly perfect lives, remember that most of the time, these things are far from reality. For years we have been trying to reach impossible beauty and lifestyle standards - all in vain. Remember that we are all unique and that the images that are thrown at us at every side are often made to appear better than they truly are.

 

Move On - You’re Wasting Time

You only have so much time in a day! Why waste even a minute loathing in self-pity and wallowing in sadness as a result of comparing yourself with others?

 

Be Happy for People

Genuinely rejoice for others’ successes and blessings. This will make it hard for you to be resentful towards them for something you cannot help. 

 

Read the Scriptures

Read God's Word! There are so many promises and verses that tell us how precious we are to God. Among those is one of my favorites that reminds that while men look at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart.

 


Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others? What helps you? Let me know below in the comments!


 
 

Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Transparency Blog

Today starts a new segment on Maple Alps: Intentionality Spotlight! Similar to Women of Intention, different bloggers will be featured in an interview style. Unlike Women of Intention, the focus will be more on their blogs themselves, as well as an area of intentionality in their life.

I am excited to kick off this series with Hanha of Transparency Blog. It has been a blast getting to know her enthusiastic self and I am excited to introduce her to all of you. Stay until the end to find out how you can follow her amazing blog as well!

Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Transparency Blog | www.maplealps.com

 

First some easy stuff: Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your work, passions, and interests?

Hi, my name is Hanha and I am the writer behind Transparency Blog! To fit everything in one nutshell, I am basically super passionate about encouraging others and sharing the love of Christ - like I met Jesus and now there’s no turning back like the old hymn says haha. I graduated from the University of National Champions—Go Heels!— and I’m currently pursuing plans to become a physician in the near future, either in family medicine or pediatrics.

A few fun facts? I’m addicted to Grey’s Anatomy. I have a special place in my heart for tacos, and podcasts are my present obsession. In my spare time, I daydream about places I can travel and I love connecting with friends on Instagram. Come say hi!

 

You write a beautiful blog on faith. How did you come to begin Transparency Blog, and what is your goal for it as a blog? Did you always intend this to be your blog’s focus?

Thank you so much! Beginning Transparency Blog was a process. A PROCESS! I started writing when I got to college in 2012, and when I say writing, I signed into my google account and used it as an expressive means to write prayers and talk to God. I would literally throw on some worship music and just write, or should I say complain? Haha (Freshman year was rough, okay?!)

But it wasn’t until I saw a friend share a post from her own blog that I thought about the idea. So then there was the whole battle with whether or not to make my blog public. I fought insecurities like, “What if no one reads it? What if my friends judge me? And how will mine be different since everyone and their mom is blogging nowadays?” You can read more about that here, but somehow I did it, and it took about 2 years to take that leap of faith.

A year of on-and-off posting, and then pride set in. I started to research all the ways that I could make my blog famous, and lost sight of the sole purpose of my why, which was to talk about how great Jesus is. So I stopped - out of nowhere and for awhile. I basically gave up, and decided to just leave it alone.

 
clear transparency | www.maplealps.com
 

That was in 2015, but something changed this year. I made it one of my personal goals to get back into blogging, and this time I wanted to be more consistent and have the right intentions. I battled with another round of insecurities, but it only took about 3-4 months because God and some friends basically encouraged me by saying it didn’t matter if my blog grew or not, or if people read it. What mattered is that I was being obedient to what God was telling me to do, which was to write what he placed on my heart.

I originally wanted to focus my time on Instagram - posting consistently and engaging with other people, but 3 weeks in, I felt led to write more. Some captions were just entirely too long to be captioned, and it was difficult to place all the links I wanted to share. So here I am! It’s June 2017, and I finally feel like I’m exactly where God wants me to be. And I also feel like I’m walking boldly in my calling as well.

Transparency Blog has always been about writing about my faith because it’s purpose is to give Jesus all the glory that He righteously deserves. It’s why I chose the name Transparency because I want to be transparent about my life in order to encourage other believers to pursue Christ with their whole heart.

My primary goal is to honestly be obedient to whatever God has for me. But secondary to that, it is my prayer to inspire other Christians by reminding them that they are deeply loved, that they are important, and that someone cares about them. I want them to know that they aren’t alone on this journey, and that there is a community for them if they ever find themselves needing one.

 
clear transparency | www.maplealps.com
 

I love how you write so passionately and intentionally about your faith and the lessons you learn from what you read in the Bible and your life. How do you decide on what topics to share about?

Believe it or not, I honestly do not know. HA! Plot twist. Sometimes, I write what God has placed on my heart and other times I share stories and try to figure out how I can connect them back to faith. And I love sharing stories about the lives of other people. I think that we can all learn from each other, because we each have something unique to offer! Even at church, testimonies are some of the most powerful examples of God’s grace and faithfulness.  

Seriously, anything that talks about the power of God and how amazing He is, is fair game. And what’s even better is that God is alive! The lessons keep coming, and the more we seek Him, the more He will transform the renewing of our minds so that we can become more like Him. So being led by the Holy Spirit is the best way I decide on what to write about. But then again, because I’ve just recently started to get back into blogging, I’m beginning to find my niche and figure out what topics my readers want to read more about.

 

What is one specific area in your life you find that intentionality is critical? How do you exercise mindfulness in it?

PRAYER! Prayer is absolutely huge for me, and I would say worship is too. I truly believe that we are called to have a heart of worship, and I think the best way to worship is through prayer. I think that it is through prayer that God speaks to us, connects with us, and shows us just how much He cares for us.

For me, I make an effort to spend time with the Lord in prayer at least every 2 days. I’m constantly talking with God throughout the day, but I’m talking about truly taking 15-20 minutes to sit, meditate, and worship Him. That has honestly been life-changing for me. I’ve cried my hardest tears sitting at the feet of Jesus, and they are the same moments where I have found restoration and redemption through Him.

We get to witness how sufficient His grace is through prayer, and it reminds me of my favorite quote, “Once a man was asked, ‘What did you gain by regularly praying to God?’ The man replied, ‘Nothing… but let me tell you what I lost: anger, ego, greed, depression, insecurity, and fear of death.’ Sometimes, the answer to our prayers is not gaining but losing, which ultimately is the gain.”

 


 

If you could give one piece of advice about prayer to someone who struggles with it, what would you tell them?

Get yourself a prayer journal. That has also been completely life-changing for me. In my prayer journal, I write down everything, and I mean EVERYTHING! From sermon notes, to my personal prayer requests, other people’s prayer requests, my dreams, and the visions God has given me for my life.

The best and most humbling part is that God has answered every single one of the prayers that I have wrote down. Even with the specific job that I was looking for, God answered it and I sit in awe of His power. I will note that most of my prayers have dealt with the posture of my heart, but I do believe that God is extremely faithful in all things.

So if you’re struggling with spending time with God everyday and being intentional with your prayer life, then I think a prayer journal is a great incentive to start. It may be difficult at first, but as you look back on the things you’ve wrote, you get to see God’s faithfulness and provision. You also get to see how much you grow over time, even in areas that you forgot you even prayed about.

Everyone always talks about creating a vision board at the beginning of the year, but those visions and dreams do not have to stop after January 1st. Habakkuk 2:2 says, ‘Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” He says that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23), so why not write what God shares with you each and every day and be a witness to His power?

When you have something to write down, it holds you more accountable to your habit. For me, it’s definitely a little awkward when I notice I’ve missed a few days. And honestly, that feeling of witnessing God provide over and over again becomes addictive. The more He answered my prayers, the more I wanted to write everything down. So I challenge you to activate your faith because God really can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us!

 

Find Hanha at her website, Transparency Blog and on Instagram


 

The Three C's of Long Distance Dating

Last year I wrote on the truth about long distance relationships. I talked about some key things to remember when being so far away from loved ones and we concluded that while long distance relationships were hard, they were a good thing too.

Since that post, I received numerous messages from readers asking me to write more on the topic of long distance, but especially in dating relationships. Today, I answer these concerns and will share 3 Cs for surviving a long distance relationship.

Spending pretty much 3 out of 3 years of my now husband and I’s dating relationship with the ocean between us gave us plenty of time to get good at long distance. We, of course, failed at times to keep it smooth sailing, but now that we look back on everything we went through, we are happy for the trials. The hardships made our relationship stronger, and we are grateful.

Without further ado: The Three C’s of LDRs.

The Three C's of Long Distance Dating | www.maplealps.com

 

 

1) Communication

 

If there is one thing you take from this post, take this one. Communication is a very important part of a successful relationship - long distance or not! Since you do not have the privilege of seeing each other every day, it is important to learn how to communicate. In these days, we might consider texts and messages and snaps “communication,” but let me venture to say that these many avenues are not always the best way to communicate. Carve out time in the week to talk “face-to-face” via Skype or FaceTime. Call each other if you’re in the same country (or have a great phone plan). Write heartfelt letters and emails and share your thoughts and talk about your day - even the mundane stuff. It's crazy, but even if you didn’t experience a day or event with your significant other, you will still be able to relate later when they retell it to someone else because you were kind of "there" when it happened. 

 

2) Creativity

 

Make it fun! Think care packages, fun apps, surprise visits and creative from-a-distance dates. These are all things that couples who are always near each other can’t do! I mean, no one in their right mind would have a movie marathon virtually when they’re 2 streets away - right? That’s just crazy. I remember one time I showed up for J’s 25th birthday to surprise him. I spent a couple hundred dollars and travelled 15 hours to another continent just to see him turn white like he had seen a ghost and be in shock for the next 3 hours, but it was totally worth it.

Here are a few things to get your creativity going:

  • Birthday care packages
  • Surprise visits
  • Schedule times to pray together (or for each other)
  • Download fun Apps (we used one called Couple. They even have a "thumb kiss" feature! So fun, we still use it.)
  • Read the same book within the same time frame (read it together, or read it apart and discuss it later!)
  • Watch a movie together (you can even mute each other and just have each other's faces on a screen)
  • Eat dinner together (cook the same meal and eat at a table together via Skype)
  • Keep each other accountable for exercising, etc (the Runtastic app let's you cheer on your friends as they're out and about)
  • Have a scrapbook you take turns keeping and exchanging when you visit or in the mail
  • Remember (or make) important dates/anniversaries and celebrate them
     

3) Commitment

 

Being all in is the only way to make a long distance relationship work. Remember that love is a decision. There will be days when you don’t want to talk to the other person. There will be times of frustration and hurt. There might even be feelings of envy and suspicion, but remember your commitment, and trust theirs.

 

See? Long distance doesn’t have to be so hard. Just remember that communication, creativity and commitment are key.

 

Are you/Have you been in a long distance relationship? How did you make it through? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!