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I Switched to a Menstrual Cup and Here is What Happened

Natural LivingAmanda Walter | Maple Alps6 Comments

Word of caution: if you are squeamish, you may want to skip this post. I went back and forth with writing this post but finally decided to. With Earth Day this last weekend, it turned out to be pretty much perfect timing, even though I didn't intend it that way. I'm not one to talk to the world about traditionally private issues, but my life has changed so drastically, that I can't keep silent! This is just one post that I plan on writing about this topic, so stay tuned! By the way, there are affiliate links used in this post, but know I only suggest products I've tried and love!

As you know, I'm constantly looking for ways to save money, to create less waste, and to eliminate as many toxins from my lifestyle as I can. Feminine hygiene was never something I thought to even consider, but it turns out I was wrong, and I'm okay with admitting that to the world. 

First off, I had no idea that there were so many potentially harmful chemicals used in the manufacturing of pads and tampons. Chemicals are used to bleach the product white, and even aid with absorption. Of course, there natural, chlorine-free and 100% cotton products available, as well as cloth options, but my next concerns were cost and also waste production.

According to a quick Google search, most women use a lifetime estimate of 11,000 pads or tampons! That is a lot of trash! If you think that you are just one person, think about the billions of females on earth who each menstruate for about 40 years of their lives...that sure adds up to hundreds of pounds of disposable products in landfills all over the world. These products also contain plastics that do not break down very easily if at all.

I Switched to a Menstrual Cup and Here is What Happened | www.maplealps.com

I toyed with the idea of a feminie hygiene cup for over a year before taking the plunge. I could not get my head around a cup going in places the sun doesn't shine (sorry). I went back and forth, watched countless Youtube videos (the ones where they put the cup in a glass tube, haha!) and read a plethora of articles about all things menstrual cups.  I actually think I informed myself a little toooooo much, because this went on for so long. I even tried other eco ways that didn't involve the silicone goodness (more on those experiences later!!) Finally, I just decided it was time to jump in with both feet. I walked into a drugstore with the sole purpose of buying one of those silicone babies (upon reflection, I'm not sure why I didn't just get one online...), found my size (there is a pre-baby and post baby option), put down my money, and walked right out.

I didn't expect to love it right away, but I did. While there definitely was a learning curve, I stuck it out, stayed persistent, and it paid off. After just one cycle of use, I was already convinced and [almost] looking forward to the following one. I never thought any sentiment even close to that would happen, but it did, and I was sold. 

After a few months, my convictions stayed the same. I love how easy it is to use, how there are no risks for things such as Toxic Shock Syndrome, how there is no smell (!!!!!!!), and the fact that the trash can has not once been overflowing with waste.  

Diva Cup | www.maplealps.com
Diva Cup | www.maplealps.com

Some Things You Should Know:

 

There are many different brands of cups. I have personally only used Diva Cup, however, I really want to try some others. If you have no success with the first one, that's fine - pick another brand and try again! There are all sorts - including a collapsable one that fits right into your purse!

There is a learning curve. But don't give up! Give it at least 3 months before you completely throw it to the side.

Make sure you know how to dispose of your cup. Depending on the material your particular cup of choice, each manufacturer offers a suggested way of disposal. Diva Cup (made of healthcare grade non-absorbant silicone) suggests cutting up your cup before throwing it into the trash, while some cups are able to be recycled. The good news is that with proper use cups may last quite some time before you have to worry about that. 

Get ready to save money! While the cup was more money up front (and most cost between $20 and $40), it only took a few months before it paid for itself. Of course, it depends on what products you typically purchase, but eventually, it all evens out (and is it just me, or is the price for tampons and pads going up?!).

Some people say that cramps will go away with menstrual cup usage. I have not found this to be even remotely true :) 

Depending on your flow, you can keep the cup in for 12 hours - with no leakage risk! No more gross tampon string or diaper-feeling pad. I'm grossed out just thinking about it. This also is a tremendous help in my case as a teacher, since I can't leave every 4-8 hours to make changes in my life... Just saying. Confession: I've had mine in for 24 hours with not even a slight issue. Just depends!

You may still need a backup. Especially when you're still perfecting the art of the cup. You could still use a liner, or if you're like me and feel accomplishment in a low-to-no-waste week, something more eco-friendly like period underwear (more on that in another post). 

Menstrual cups are easy to find! I got mine at the drugstore, but you can get them pretty much anywhere - and they're cheapest online (Grab one from Amazon here). Bonus: they come with a cute carrying case for in-between cycles!

This is not a paid ad. I just love the cup that much! Of course, if you choose to use my link to purchase your own cup, I will get a few cents - but really, I just felt the need to share the wonderful thing that is the menstrual cup!

I Switched to a Menstrual Cup and Here is What Happened | www.maplealps.com

In Conclusion,

I have had an awesome experience with a menstrual cup: I feel better about having less waste production, I love knowing that there are no harmful chemicals leeching into my body, no risk of leaks and embarrassment and that I'm saving a whole lot of money! There are tons of reasons to switch to a menstrual cup!

 
 

What's your "green" way to deal with red times of the month? Let me know below! Any questions?


 

A Spring Evening on Lake Michigan

TravelAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

We absolutely love living right by Lake Michigan and we walk down to the water as often as we possibly can. Now that things are thawing out a bit, we are more willing and able to brave the cold (though when it is cold, it still is really cool to go see the water).

Watching the sun do it's setting across the lake is a magical thing, and we feel so blessed to be able to have that pretty much at our door. I thought I might give you readers a little tiny taste of what we get on a Spring (okay, more like Winter) evening.

Lake Michigan | www.maplealps.com
Lake Michigan | www.maplealps.com
Lake Michigan | www.maplealps.com
Lake Michigan | www.maplealps.com
Lake Michigan | www.maplealps.com
Lake Michigan | www.maplealps.com
Lake Michigan | www.maplealps.com
Lake Michigan | www.maplealps.com
Lake Michigan | www.maplealps.com
Lake Michigan | www.maplealps.com
Lake Michigan | www.maplealps.com
 

What do you love about where you live?


 

Chocolate Dream Pie (vegan + gluten free)

RecipesAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

Since marrying my husband, I’ve become a sucker for chocolate. It’s strange because I was never a huge fan of the creamy stuff. I was more into candies that were sour, gummy, and fruity. Alas, turns out the chocolate in Europe really is good stuff. To top it off, chocolate compliments a lot of different flavours, which makes it pretty versatile in my eyes. AND pure cocoa is technically vegan - as long as there is no added milk, etc.. Win, right? 

I remember tasting my first chocolate cream pie. Since I always loved pudding, it was pretty much a dream come true to have crust added to it too (who doesn’t love a good crust?!). I set out to make one of my own that had no heavy whipping cream in it, but still had a creamy, chocolate texture.

Chocolate Cream Pie (vegan + gluten free) | www.maplealps.com

This particular crust came out of sheer need. I didn't feel like wrestling for a flaky crust, and I had some nuts in my freezer and dates in my pantry, so this crust was born. I apologize to those with nut allergies, but you can make the filling with any kind of crust that works for you!

The topping is also DIY optional. I've included a simple recipe below, but if that's not your thing, you do you! I'm constantly switching out things when I cook or bake so I always expect people to do the same. I also know people who stick to the letter of the law when following a recipe, so I've included the steps for each part of the pie below.

Also great about this pie? Aside from the crust, there is no baking required, and is quik to whip up. Just patience while it sets. It makes for the perfect dessert in the summer since it needs to be served cool.

Chocolate Cream Pie (vegan + gluten free) | www.maplealps.com

Chocolate Dream Pie (vegan + gluten free)
Makes 1 pie

For the Pie Filling:

1 ¼ cups original almond milk
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
⅓ cup cane sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup arrowroot powder
⅓ cup cocoa powder
 

For the Crust:

1 cup almonds
1 cup walnuts
1TBSP chopped dates
1/2 TBSP maple syrup
2 TBSP vegan butter

 

For the Whipped Topping:

1 can coconut milk refrigerated overnight
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBSP maple syrup or agave (to sweeten)

Optional:

Extra cocoa powder and toasted coconut for garnishing

 

To make the crust:

1) Prep pie dish by lining with parchment or greasing and preheat oven to 400 degrees F
2) Put nuts and dates into the food processor and pulse until you have a nice meal consistency
3) Add your mixture to a bowl and mix in the maple syrup and butter well until a dough forms
4) Press dough evenly into prepared pie dish
5) Bake for 12 minutes and allow to completely cool before making the filling

To make the filling:

1) Add everything to a large pot.
2) Bring to slow boil, stirring/whisking constantly to avoid burning and clumping
3) Pour into prepared pie crust
4) Refrigerate for several hours (at least 4) to set 

To make the whipped topping:

1) Right before serving, make the whipped topping by opening coconut milk and scooping out the solid part of it into a chilled bowl (be careful not to get much liquid into your bowl).
2) Add vanilla and maple syrup and whip with hand mixer.
3) Apply to pie as desired - spreading it over the top, or adding a dollop to each piece - really, whatever you want :)

 

 

Are you a fan of cream pies?


 

An Evening in Athens

TravelAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

We were fortunate enough to spend an evening in Athens before leaving Greece! It was a short but sweet time, even if we were melting. 

An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com
An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com
An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com

Even though a silly shot, I just had to share. We try to get a picture of our feet wherever we go and have been doing it for years! We even use a hashtag, hehe #WhereOurFeetHaveTrodJA

An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com
An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com
An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com
An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com
An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com
An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com

Climbing up to Mars Hill was so cool. Just knowing the amazing things that have happened in history there was so humbling. J, of course, had to pose while "preaching."

An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com
An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com
An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com
An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com

Even though we were not there long, we enjoyed every minute! 

An Evening in Athens | www.maplealps.com

Clean Up Your Budget This Spring

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps4 Comments

Of course, the title of this post is about cleaning up your budget, so it is assuming you have already have one, but if you don't have one and want to use your money intentionally, you definitely need a budget (post on that coming)! It's never too late to make one and never the wrong time of year to clean it up a little bit. 

Spring Clean Your Budget | www.maplealps.com
 

Evaluate your spending and make a list of your expenses.

Ideally you've been tracking all of your spending already, so take a look at your numbers. Make a list of your necessary expenses - the nonnegotiable ones that you can't change such as rent/mortgage and other bills. Assess your spending.

 

Clean Out Your Un-Needed Expenses and reorganize:

Maybe you can cut back on your gas and electricity consumption, or perhaps you decide that your monthly manicure isn't completely necessary. Maybe your life situation has changed since you last created your budget and you can cut back in different ways. Here are a few other ideas:

Make Your Own Lunch: Leftovers work great for this - make a little extra the night before and put it in a container for the next day right away. Not into leftovers? Make a fresh salad or a sandwich - or something completely complicated, but fresh!

Skip the Daily Coffee Shop Visit: While your daily visits for coffee won't make you broke, you can save hundreds of dollars a year by making your own! Buy a reusable coffee mug that keeps your beverage of choice hot (or cold) for a long period of time. I make myself some herbal tea every morning before heading off to work, and my mug is a permanent fixture on my desk. If it’s not there, I have very concerned students who ask if I had a rough morning…

Quit a Subscription: Whether it’s Netflix, a gym membership, or a magazine, you may want to reevaluate the value of some of your subscriptions.

 

Make Goals

Now that you have cleaned up your expenses and hopefully have some left over, go ahead and start thinking about what your goals are! Maybe you can set aside that extra cash to save up for something you really want or need, or pay off a large chunk of debt you have.

 

 

Did you add your budget to your Spring Cleaning list? It's never too late!