A Weekend in LA

We try to be spontaneous once in a while, and our quick trip to California, though not necessarily spontaneous (we went for a wedding), sure felt such since we were there for such a short time. We were able to get in some sight-seeing highlights, saw some old friends and met a few new ones too. We were definitely sad to leave the sunshine behind, but it was a great escape from the cold of the East.

We stopped in Santa Monica for a short jaunt to see what we could see. J met a lifeguard, which thrilled him to his toes. "The real Baywatch!" was his proclamation.

It was chilly - actually, the whole weekend was pretty chilly - but it was still a gorgeous day.

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San Clemente was also beautiful. We saw some guy catch a lobster, and watched the sun set over the ocean. We enjoyed a bonfire and roasted some veggie dogs over the pit while laughing with friends and watching the stars. 

A weekend in LA | www.maplealps.com
A weekend in LA

Speaking of stars, we were actually in LA, and on Hollywood Boulevard the day of the awards, so that was kind of neat, but I don't really have any desire to ever go back since I am not much of a city person.

But anyway, the wedding was great and saying goodbye was hard, but it was definitely a weekend for the soul.

 

Why Living with Less is the Worst

Great news! Spring is here! If you are not one for spring cleaning or spring decluttering, that is okay. Living with less is the worst. Here is why:

Why Living with Less is the Worst | www.maplealps.com

Finding your way around in the dark is too easy

Seriously, it’s no fun having no obstacles with which you might at any moment stub your toe with. Middle of the night water runs to the kitchen are no longer fun because they no longer require superhuman ninja skills.

 

You only own what you love

Sometimes you just want to hate most of the items you have on display, #amirite?

 

Possessions last longer, which is boring

Wouldn’t you rather keep buying cheap, ugly things that you don’t care about enough to take extra good care of? Spending more money on disposable items is much better than buying good quality ones that are better for the environment and your wallet.

 

You have less cleaning and dusting to do

There is nothing better than spending your precious time on dusting that clay gnome you made in the second grade. Also, it’s a great work-out moving the piles of paper from one end of the house to the other, just so you can vacuum. Taking 500 items off of surfaces to dust is truly exciting.

 

Your junk drawer is nonexistent

It’s so boring and predictable to know exactly what is in each one of your drawers. Being able to see every item for quick retrieval is lame.  

 

Everything has a home

You should not need to know exactly where everything is at any given time. It's just not natural. Scrambling for keys and the like is essential to the human experience.

Why Living with Less is the Worst | www.maplealps.com

Great arguments for living with more if I do say so myself. If, however, you do not share this sentiment, be sure to check out our ultimate spring simplifying guide! We have upgraded our guide and you can now find an expanded Spring Cleaning guide in our resource library! Sign up for FREE today!

 
 

DIY All-Purpose Cleaner

Making your own cleaning supplies is nothing new. Besides the fact that humans have done it for long enough, I've noticed that the web is filled with different DIY solutions that are supposedly easy to make, easy to use, easy on the wallet, and easy on your body. 

How could I resist? Well, I didn't even try to resist. 

DIY All-Purpose Cleaner | www.maplealps.com

It all started when I was reminded that caulk is actually a thing. Growing up, we used distilled water in the kettle, so it was never a problem. Now, however, with filtered water going in, I noticed an ever so slight buildup. I knew vinegar was good for caulk, and to be honest, there is no way I would have felt comfortable putting any sort of cleaner in there anyway. I was reminded of my time abroad when my roommate and I would clean our shower every week with vinegar to get rid of and prevent caulk. My mind wandered, as it does, and I wondered what else I could clean with vinegar. My husband, however, hates the smell of vinegar, so I knew I needed to find a solution. Spoiler alert: I found a one.

Enter: lemons.

lemon vinegar all purpose cleaner | www.maplealps.com

I had heard that adding lemons to vinegar and then letting it all sit for two weeks would make the vinegar smell less like vinegar. I thought it would be worth a try. Plus, the idea of having a jar of lemons sitting around for a while looking all pretty was very appealing to me. In went lemon skins, in went vinegar, and there it sat. I thought about using the leftover lemon juice to make a delicious lemon cake but opted to deodorize my cutting boards instead. Worked amazingly.

DIY All-Purpose Cleaner lemon | www.maplealps.com

After two weeks (and a few days to be exact), I finally had the opportunity to strain my concoction. I may have been a little too excited, but it was worth it. While pouring, I was overwhelmed by the smell of lemons. The vinegar odour was faint, but still there.

Once strained (I had to do it a few times because I wasn't very dilligent in making sure I got rid of the pulp from my peels), I diluted it (1 part of the mixture and 2 parts water) and added it to my glass spray bottle. I took the great opportunity to clean my bathroom counters and was quite pleased with the result. I will mention that it took a bit more elbow grease than usual, but the result as a work-out as well as a clean-up. Score!

It wasn't just that it was squeaky clean afterwards either! I was not paranoid about using chemicals and felt good about the natural ingredients I was using. 

One concern I did have was whether or not it was actually cleaning. After some research, I found that vinegar really is a great disinfectant!

I have been using this cleaner for over a month now, and I have yet to have any complaints. With Spring just around the corner, I'll truly be putting it to the test  

Related: The Ultimate Spring Simplifying Guide

DIY All-Purpose Cleaner | www.maplealps.com
 

Recap: DIY All-Purpose Cleaner

  • Put lemon skins (avoiding pulp) in large jar
  • Cover with distilled vinegar
  • Leave to sit for two weeks
  • Strain well
  • Dilute mixture in a spray bottle (1 part mixture to 2 parts water)
  • Get cleaning!
 

What about you? Do you make your own cleaners? Excited about some Spring Cleaning?


 
 

Simple Maple Almond Granola

I am so glad that the summer is almost here. I always look forward to the fresh fruit of the summer, and the chance to eat outdoors again. There is something about enjoying fresh ingredients in the out of doors that truly creates extra happiness in life. Though it's been chilly, the sun has been shining more, which has made me crave more fresh fruits and veggies as I enjoy it. Naturally, granola came to mind as I was deciding what I wanted to eat for breakfast this weekend. I found some gorgeous raspberries to pair it with and set to making a simple maple almond (not alps) granola.

Simple Maple Almond Granola | www.maplealps.com

I have always loved granola. It has the right amount of crunch and flavours that I love. It also creates an atmosphere that only granola can make. Perhaps it's linked to memories of camping and breakfasts in foreign homes and places that make it so special - or maybe I'm thinking about it too much - but I think you understand that I enjoy granola.

Simple Maple Almond Granola | www.maplealps.com

I like to experiment with different flavours and combinations. I love that granola is so versatile! Around Christmas, I like to make a gingerbread version, and in the summer I like adding coconut. This time, I decided to go simple and add some almonds and maple syrup. What a delicious combination! I love eating it with fresh fruit and some soy yogurt! So much yum!

Simple Maple Almond Granola | www.maplealps.com

Simple Maple Almond Granola
Makes about 7 cups

5 ½  cups old fashioned oats
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp sea salt
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup roughly chopped almonds
½ cup coconut oil
¾ - 1 cup maple syrup (depending on your sweet tooth)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a large baking sheet by putting parchment paper on it
2) Mix dry ingredients well in a large bowl
3) Melt coconut oil in a small saucepan and whisk in coconut oil and vanilla and almond extracts
4) Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix until oats and nuts are well coated
5) Spread granola evenly on the baking sheet (you may have to use two)
6) Bake for 10-15 minutes, being careful not to let it burn
7) Allow to completely dry, then crumble the chunks and store in an airtight container
 


Do you like granola as much as I do? What kinds of foods "feel like Summer" to you?


 
 

7 Ways to Increase Your Prayer Life

"It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone." - Hudson Taylor
 

"Why pray? Why love? We might as well ask, why breathe? One is as natural and necessary as the other. Where there is love, there is communication, there is prayer. It could not be otherwise." - M.L. Andreasen

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Record Your Prayer Requests and Answers

I love recording my prayer requests and answers. Just looking back at them and remembering, helps me be hopeful - especially when I’m going through a difficult situation. I know that God has led me in the past, and He has my present and future. The Bible is full of references about remembering, and this is one way I can look back and praise God for His leading.

 

Pray In Your Free Time

Find and down time in your day and use the opportunity to pray. I have a 30-minute commute, and I have started using that time to pray. It has drastically enhanced my prayer life, and it has become more natural for me to just start talking with God as I go through my day.

 

Pray When It’s Quiet

In Mark 1, it describes how Jesus rose long before the sun even had risen and went to a solitary place to pray. As we are called to be like Jesus, I take my example from Him. I have found that when I rise early for prayer, there is such a quiet and a calm and I can really focus on my time with the Lord. My whole day goes by smoother as well.
 

Make It A Habit

Be intentional about making time for prayer. Set alarms if you need to, but be consistent. I know that some people may think this may be legalistic, however, it is far from that. We schedule times to exercise, eat and wake up and work, and these things all eventually become habits with time. Why should prayer not have a special place in our day? Prayer is the breath of our spiritual life - without breath, we are dead.

 

Get A Prayer Partner

Find someone to share and pray with.

“There is unusual power in united prayer. God has planned for His people to join together in prayer, not only for Christian fellowship, spiritual nurture, and growth, but also for accomplishing His divine purposes and reaching His chosen goals.” (Wesley L. Duewell, Mighty Prevailing Prayer, Zondervan, ©1990, page 123.)

 

Write Down Your Prayers or Pray Out Loud

I used to find myself very distracted in my thoughts when praying and started physically writing out every word of my prayers in journals. I then also found that praying out loud was a great help. If your mind is wandering during prayer, why not try one of these methods?

 

Pray and Claim Scripture Promises

God has given us literally thousands of promises in His Word! They were given to us to claim in faith! Write them down and take them with you, or even better yet, memorize them so they’re always in your heart (You can find a great list of scripture promises to claim in our resource library!).