Creative Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Date Night

Frugal is a word we like to use in our home. It extends from using up everything in our pantry before a long trip all the way to using our socks until they have holes in them. We make sure to get the best deal on everything. We haven't starved yet, and our toes are still warm, so we count ourselves blessed.

Not wanting a penny to go to waste is a priority for us. Trying to pay off student loans and being good stewards are both important things in this house. It doesn't stop us from having fun though, so I thought we could discuss some ways to have fun without spending a lot of money.

 

Really creative ideas for a budget-friendly date night! | www.maplealps.com

Enjoy a Staycation // Stay in Your Own Hotel

If you have one, convert your guest room into a luxury hotel room by making the bed fancy and using all the best sheets that only your visitors get to use. Add some candles and snacks and a mini "bar," and you will feel like you're on a fun getaway, without even leaving your house!

 

Cook Together // Cook Off

In an attempt to lower grocery costs or avoid eating out, make a fun dinner with things you already have - try an iron chef challenge, and use one ingredient in several creative ways. Or, just choose to work together to make whatever happens to be on the meal plan for that night. It will be fun either way.

 

Movie Night // Blanket Palace

Pick a movie you already have or rent from iTunes - which is much cheaper than going out to the theatre. Unlike the theatre, however, you will get to wear your sweatpants and bring your own water. Win! Make up some snacks or set up a blanket fort. The possibilities and creativity are endless!

 

Board Games // Trivia Night

How fun to pull out some of those dusty board games and challenge each other to win! You could spice up the night by adding house rules or adding stakes like extra chores for the loser - or just play as it's supposed to. Whatever you like. For a fun twist, make your own game!

 

Find a Hot tub to Soak in

Fantastic for you if you have a hot tub of your own. The YMCA or your public pool might have inexpensive options if you don't. In the worst case, you could also ask a friend! 

 

Go to a State Park

State parks are wonderful places! We buy an annual pass for our license plate registration that costs us a mere $11/year and it is so worth it! See what kinds of things your State offers. Getting out in nature and seeing some beautiful parks is something that is good for the soul. Try visiting different parks each time!

 

Use Groupon

We have had some crazy fun date nights by using Groupon. It's fun to find some local things that you would have never even thought about doing! One highlight was definitely going rollerskating at a roller rink one night - what a blast - and really inexpensive!

 


How are some of the ways you have fun on date nights on a budget?I would love to hear your ideas!


 

 

How Living Intentionally Can Help You Save Money

Last week, my husband and I went shopping. When I say shopping, I mean that we went to our favourite stores and browsed, and when I say browsed, I mean just that. After two hours, we walked back into our house with not one bag in tow and the same amount of money in our account that we had when we left. I was not terribly shocked, but I am certain that just a few years ago, that would not have been as easy to accomplish.

Living mindfully has naturally resulted in thinking about where our money goes. It is amazing how just thinking about it changes buying habits that sometimes leads to spending what one does not have. Instead of collecting things in our home, we have been discarding. Instead of noticing our money disappear, we have been saving, and instead of always thinking about spending money, we think about giving.

I decided to share today just a few of the reasons we believe being intentional and mindful has helped us save money.

How Living Intentionally Can Help You Save Money | www.maplealps.com

 

Have Only What You Need

I lived in the same house my entire life. When I decided to live abroad, I packed two suitcases and that is what I lived with the entire time. I came back to a full closet and drawers and realized that over half of the things I owned and had collected over time, I didn’t even need. I had just survived three years with what could fit into two suitcases. This opened my eyes greatly. I now need more than what can just fit in two suitcases (having a kitchen will do that), but I still have everything I need and love while avoiding excess.

 

Being Content With What You Have

I never realized the release I needed from material things. Because I had collected so much over the years and kept everything organized, I was not aware of each item I had. This was far from mindful. As I cleaned out closets and drawers and boxes, I finally saw the amount of useless possessions that was drowning me.

How Living Intentionally Can Help You Save Money | www.maplealps.com

 

Find Pleasure in the Simple Things

Because spending money is not on my radar, I get to enjoy more simple pleasure and realize the value of the things that cannot be bought. Once in a while I still love browsing through the mall to see the sights, but urges to purchase anything unless I need them hardly occur. If it does happen where I see something I like, it automatically comes to mind that I don’t need it and I leave the store quite content without whatever it was.

 

Free From Consumerism

I don’t feel the need to have the newest and best things anymore. Everything in my home has a place and a purpose, and I have no intentions to let that slide. I have experienced such a release and rest after getting rid of “stuff,” and I don’t want that frustration anymore. My spiritual life has been strengthened and I am able to think freely without inhibition. Thinking about giving generously to those in need or causes I believe in has become more natural (and more doable!).

 

Have you found that saving money is just one awesome perk of living intentionally?
Tell us about your journey to intentional living!


 
 



 

Five FREE Apps I Use to Track My Health

Ever since I got my first smartphone, I have tried to use it for as many things as possible. There are a few things I tried and failed (like the calendars and such - I’m truly a paper girl!), but one thing that really helped me was health tracking apps. After coming back a good 20 pounds heavier from Europe, using my phone made it easy to keep track of my diet and exercise and keep myself accountable. It became almost a game to make sure I was logging in and tracking - and I tell you - the results came! Today I wanted to share with you some of the apps that I tried, those I loved, and those I didn’t love as much. And no, no one is paying me to say all these things. I just wanted to share some of the tools I use/have used to be intentional about my health.

Five FREE Apps to Track Health! Great! | www.maplealps.com

 

My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal was my best friend for a few years! By keeping track of what I ate, how much I exercised, and setting goals (and keeping them), I was able to lose 20 pounds easily. Now, I am able to maintain my weight. It’s not some magical tool that makes you do that - you do have to input everything you eat. It’s basically a food log, but instead of writing everything down in a notebook, you can carry it on your phone. If you eat something out of a package, it’s easy to scan it, and if you make a recipe, you can input that too! You can even copy and paste meals to make it simple. I have recently stopped using it as much, but I still recommend it to others (and I hear back from them with happy results).

Verdict: Great if you have the time to input your data every day, but I’ve moved on.

 

Runtastic

I have used Runtastic for a long time too! I love it for tracking all of my walks and runs and other exercises and keeps me motivated. It shows lifetime kilometers or miles every time you log in, which is fun, and connects to My Fitness Pal so you can seamlessly add your exercise. I now use Runtastic Pro (that I got for free during a promotion a few years back) and I love how it tells you every time you’ve hit a km. It keeps me on track when I’m doing long runs - and it helps me pace when I do races.

Verdict: I still love and use this app after years of use!

 

GLOW

I know there is a lot of controversy about cycle tracking apps and how they do not work. I switched to GLOW almost a year ago from another app that I had been using, and I am pretty impressed. You can track everything from your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) to your moods. Patterns are then created and you can look back and see when you’re more likely to have different symptoms. It also predicts (quite accurately!) your upcoming periods - which helps with planning certain things like trips and activities. It’s not as accurate as the tracker I used last, but I still like it more.

Verdict: Love how simple it is to log information and the accuracy of the predictions! I’ll keep using this.

 

Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen

This is a fun, streamlined, and creative way to keep track of your fruit, veggie, and legume intake. Each time you have a serving, you can easily add it to the app so you can see how you are doing on that given day. The only downside to this app is that you can’t keep your information from day-to-day to look back at your progress. Instead, it resets every day so you can add your new information. It’s still a cool way to see what you’ve eaten every day and gauge the areas you need to improve in.

Verdict: I love the concept and simplicity for logging necessary food groups as opposed to actual meals and calories (and prefer this actually). If they would change it so you can see how you did in the past, I would love it more.

 

Fitbit

Now that I have jumped on the Fitbit wagon (my husband got me one for my birthday!), I now use the Fitbit app. It’s fun to keep track of my steps and be reminded to move on days I have off. The Fitbit itself tracks your steps, distance and even sleep, to name a few features (depending on the model you get). But I’m talking about the app. You can add your water and food and create and achieve goals and set alarms and reminders to assist with that. It also links to My Fitness Pal, which is an added bonus (but I’ve since replaced My Fitness Pal with this app because it pretty much does the same thing, and I like to simplify my life as much as possible instead of using 500 apps when I could use 3). The best part is the community of other people with Fitbit devices. You can challenge and encourage each other, which is a lot of fun.

Verdict: I would say this app is a win. Easy and fun to use.

 


What apps do you use to track your health? Any of these?


 

Vegan Tofu Ricotta

What a sad thing: I have gone SO MANY YEARS without trying to make a tofu ricotta. Why has it never crossed my mind? Well, besides the fact that I hardly ever ate ricotta and didn’t know what it was or what it was used for...

Anyway, I finally got around to doing it, and I'm so glad I tried something new!

Simple and Delicious Vegan Tofu Ricotta | www.maplealps.com


A few weeks ago I wanted to try my hand at a new vegan lasagna. I’ve been making them for years, but wanted to try something different. I decided to put the tofu into the food processor to make it more ricotta-like instead of just crumbling it finely like I usually do. The result? Well, let’s just say that my cheese-loving husband told me that he never wanted the real stuff ever again. That’s pretty strong. Of course, all the other elements of the lasagna were playing a part, but this ricotta was one of the VIPs.

Turns out this is great for a lot of things - spreading on crackers or bread, and stuffing manicotti noodles with. I’m going to be trying it in some meatballs, so stay tuned for that experiment as well.

ricotta-2.jpg
 

Easy Tofu Ricotta
Makes about 2 cups

  • 14 ounces super firm tofu (get as much moisture out as you can)
  • 2 TBSP nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP basil (dried)
  • 2 small cloves garlic (or one large)

1. Drain the tofu, getting as much moisture out as possible
2. Add all ingredients to food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as you go.

 

What do you use ricotta for?


 

5 Anti-Aging Natural Oils for Gorgeously Beautiful & Ageless Skin

The market is flooded with numerous beauty products which help in hiding uninvited signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin. Though it’s great to have too many options in the anti-aging products, a lot of women are usually left confused or unsure about what will work for their skin or what will not. Instead of wasting time in searching one of the best anti-aging products, it would be great to turn towards Mother Nature to get gorgeously beautiful and ageless skin naturally. When talking about nature and natural products, one cannot ignore the essence of natural anti-aging oils. Extracted from leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and resins, essential oils comprise several potent and effective ingredients which are proven quite effective for skin and overall health. Keep reading to know about the 5 natural oils which are known for their amazing anti-aging properties and incredibly beautifying effects.

5 Anti-Aging Natural Oils for Gorgeously Beautiful & Ageless Skin | www.maplealps.com

 

1. Lavender Oil

Extracted from the flowers of Lavandula angustifolia through the steam distillation process, the versatile essential oil of lavender is known for its magical effects. Being a great source of natural vitamins and antioxidants, lavender oil works wonderfully in slowing down the aging clock and preventing wrinkles. A gentle massage of skin using a blend of lavender oil with any carrier oil is proven every effective in reducing the appearance of age spots. Moreover, it freshens up the complexion as well.

                                               

2. Frankincense Oil

Comprising great anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antiseptic properties, the essential oil of Frankincense is proven quite effective in slowing down the visible signs of aging, including wrinkles and sagging skin. Its powerful astringent property is also helpful in protecting the skin cells from getting damaged. Besides removing the age spots, the essential oil of frankincense is also effective in reinvigorating the skin, improving skin elasticity, balancing skin pH, and promoting healthy cell regeneration. You can also use this as an effective solution to combat acne, stretch marks, and wrinkles around your eyes. Mix a few drops of frankincense oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil and apply it gently over your skin for a younger look.

5 Anti-Aging Natural Oils for Gorgeously Beautiful & Ageless Skin | www.maplealps.com

3. Geranium Oil

Extracted from the leaves of Pelargonium odorantissimum plant, geranium essential oil works wonderfully for those who are struggling with premature signs of aging. Being a great anti-inflammatory and astringent agent, geranium oil is appreciated for its ability to make the skin flawless and youthful. When used regularly in combination with a carrier oil, geranium oil tightens the skin, regulates the production of sebum, reduces the appearance of pores, tones skin, so on. This is probably why it is so popular among women from all walks of the life. Mix a few drops of this oil with your regular body lotion and apply it gently over the affected area regularly before going to bed to get a young, beautiful, and glowing skin within few days.

4. Pomegranate Seed Oil

Botanically known as Punica grantum, pomegranate seed oil is the flag bearer when it comes to the selection of anti-aging natural oils. Comprising a lot of bioflavonoids, the pomegranate oil penetrates deeper into the layer of skin and works best in protecting the skin from the harsh rays of the sun. High in Omega-5 fatty acid and antioxidants, this oil works magically in reducing the free radicals which cause skin thickening, wrinkles, and other signs of premature aging. Mix a few drops of this oil in your regular moisturizer and gently apply it to your skin to get younger, toner, and beautiful appearance.

5 Anti-Aging Natural Oils for Gorgeously Beautiful & Ageless Skin | www.maplealps.com

5. Jojoba Oil

The carrier oil of Jojoba is proven quite effective in diminishing the fine lines, age spots, wrinkles, and other common signs of premature aging. Jojoba oil comprises various Vitamin contents which are effective in speeding up the rapid regeneration of the skin cells. A regular massage of the facial skin with a blend of jojoba and any other carrier oil like almond is one of the best options to get a firm, smooth, and younger skin within no time.

This is all you need to know about the five effective natural anti-aging oils. If you want to get the best benefits, you need to approach a reliable supplier for buying 100% pure natural oils. As some of the people have quite sensitive skin, it is advised to consult with an expert before buying any oil to avoid any kind of skin problems.

 

This was a guest post by Abhinav Kumar Singh, who is a renowned aromatherapist and essential oil educator with 8 years of professional expertise. His passion is to help others by sharing crucial information about aromatherapy, information, usage and tips from essential oils and allied natural extracts. He has been advocating about the benefits of natural essential oils through writing and speeches to reach out thousands of persons through his blogs, articles, and speeches. Find more of his works at Allin Exporters. Apart from this, he loves traveling to new places and spending time in his backyard.

If you are interested in guest posting, check out the guest posting guidelines for Maple Alps, here.