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Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Life Lived Intentionally

Intentionality SpotlightAmanda Walter | Maple Alps2 Comments

This week we meet Dani of Life Lived Intentionally! As a fellow Canadian with ties to Europe through marriage, we connected instantly! It has been so fun meeting new people through this series and I'm excited to share Dani's story with all of you and to hear her share how she brings intentionality into her life. 

Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Life Lived Intentionally | www.maplealps.com

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

I’m Dani, I’m originally from Canada, but have lived in my husband’s home country of Germany for almost a decade. We have had our four children here, and are in our fifth year of working with a Christian university group ministry called Studenten Für Christus (Students for Christ).

I am passionate about many things: my family, loving Jesus, discipleship, beauty, starting new things, learning, reading, my garden, eating, dreaming and thinking about how to do things better, and great conversations with beautiful people. I am interested in business, missions, people, art, farming, history, and good music, and generally all learning.
 

 

I love how your blog focuses on living intentionally and choosing life. How did the idea for Life - Lived Intentionally come about and what are your goals for it?


For years I had always thought about starting a blog, but I never really had the energy to. Every time I’ve been pregnant or was nursing, my capacity for anything in life is dramatically limited. Perhaps it’s the hormones?

The beginning of this year I was neither pregnant and no longer nursing and it was like a bunch of energy sprung forth. Then came this lingering question, “Do I really think I can do all things with God?”

I feel like much of my life I’ve always put a limit on what I could do. Something like, “I don’t have enough time.”, or even, “I’m just a woman… or I’m just a mom.”  or, “there are so many others who are much _______( smarter, more together, cleverer etc.) than I. I’m nothing.”

Somehow, I just made a conscious decision not to think like that anymore. I wanted to think how God thinks, and with him nothing is too great.  Often lies or fears inhibit us. It seemed at the moment as if the doors blew opened, and the possibilities presented themselves as endless.
An important thing to me was to be home with my family, as much as possible. On the other hand, I felt like I had so much to give. I started to realize blogging was kind of an ideal platform for me.

I briefly chanced on watching a free online summit of the Work at Home School, and watched an interview with the blogger Rosemary Groener, who really inspired me. I didn’t realize that blogging could be so lucrative. This totally appealed to me, because I already wanted to invest my time helping people, and had already been thinking about blogging. Then I realized it was a win/win, I could help and inspire people from my own home, and (hopefully) support my family from it.
 

Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Life Lived Intentionally | www.maplealps.com
 

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


Stopping.

For the last six years or so our family has observed the Shabbat (or the Sabbath). For us this has meant following the traditional Jewish beginning of Friday evening until Saturday evening. Though, how we have observed it has changed and grown with us.

Six years ago, I kept encountering the Sabbath all over my Bible, and I couldn’t figure out what that meant for us today. I was only generally aware that we should stop and rest at some point. But, and perhaps this is because of the Christian tradition I’ve grown up in, I labelled serious Sabbath observation as legalistic. That is, until it was explained to me by a very kind family who visited us.

After that visit, and some self study, I realized the Sabbath or “Shabbat” was so much more than just a rule to force us to stop.

The Shabbat is a physical proclamation that God is God. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Creator, the beginning and end of all things. In the stopping of my work, my endeavors and my plans, I rightly recognize that I can never complete and finish any work without Him. I’ve found even if I have a task left undone and I’m not quite prepared for the Shabbat, I stop, and by His grace it gets done at a different time.

Without our work and busyness we are left with an awkward silence. We are left just being plain and simple us (as He created us), before the gracious, and marvellous Him. No accomplishments or deeds to define us. Naked and unashamed, like in the garden.

That’s really how I see the Shabbat now. A time that both reflects the perfection of the garden, and our glory-filled future with the King who will come again. For me, this is totally exciting to remember and celebrate  every week. It’s also a fantastic teaching opportunity for our kids, and any guests we have over. We use flavours, colours, candles, beauty, and wine to experience God’s goodness with all the senses.

I think in our work and deed addicted society, this is a massively important statement. Often, I get the impression that we have a tendency to worship ourselves. Too easily we throw God off his throne, and replace him with an “I do, therefore I am” identity.

This year, we’ve included shutting off all of our media and electronics over the Shabbat. We found that the constant beeps, buzzes, and music was crowding away the peace. I don’t think we will ever go back.

I long for the Shabbat now. Our week has a momentum, like a continual upward direction and anticipation that is satisfied from Friday to Saturday evening. It reminds me of the great yearning all of creation has for the King to return, for Heaven to come down, and for everything to be at peace and put right again.

We LOVE our Shabbats.
 

Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Life Lived Intentionally | www.maplealps.com

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


When you make something a habit, it becomes second nature. Habits take time. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with structure, and my nature rebels against “rules”. The good thing is, is that “stopping” can be developed over time. Take it slow, but try and try again.

My suggestion is pick a day that works best for you. Perhaps it’s a Sunday rather than a Friday to Saturday night - but I have to admit we love celebrating the end of the week, so beginning Friday evening rocks. Once you have a day, try it out. Invite friends over, or don’t, shut off all of your electronics. Shutting down and stopping is amazing, you’ll be addicted. If you decided to turn something on and check, don’t feel condemned or bad about it. Make it a you and God day - a weekly vacation.

Remember, it’s not a rule to bring death, but a guideline to show you how to truly live. I think that’s why the Shabbat is so important to God, because it’s so good for us.

 

Find Dani on Instagram, Facebook, and on Pinterest


 

Creamy Chocolate Ice Pops (vegan + gluten free fudgsicle copycat)

RecipesAmanda Walter | Maple Alps12 Comments

I remember when I was young, my grandparents owned and operated a convenience store in town. In the summer, they would let us have some treats from the freezer and I would always choose a chocolate popsicle. No, this was not a Fudgsicle, but rather a chocolate flavoured popsicle. I don't know if any of you have ever had one, but I loved them.

Then, one day, I did try a Fudgsicle, and I loved it. It was creamy and soft and had so much chocolate goodness - not the watery hardness of my former love. 

Trying to come up with replicating this delicious cold treat has proved quite the task, but I took a cue from my Chocolate Cream Pie and came up with something quite tasty!

Creamy Vegan Chocolate Ice Pops | www.maplealps.com

Because of the added arrowroot powder, it helped make it much more creamy and gooey, which, in my humble opinion, is the best part about Fudgsicles. It feels just like eating an actual one - the texture is perfect.

Creamy Chocolate Ice Pops | www.maplealps.com

I had some issues getting these babies out of the mould, so they aren't the prettiest, but they sure are tasty!

The best thing about making cold treats is how easy it is to mix things up and come up with fun combinations. I added almond flavour to these pops to add a chocolate almond flavour (my fav!), but you can do whatever you want! I notice that I don't really taste the coconut from the coconut milk when I add flavouring, so I like to skip it sometimes and have a more coconut-chocolate flavour.

Creamy Chocolate Ice Pops

Creamy Chocolate Ice Pops
Makes 4-5 Ice Pops**

1 cup coconut milk (full fat works best)
¾ cup unsweetend soy milk
¼ cup cane sugar (or less, depending on how sweet you want it)
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 ½ tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp almond extract (if you don't like almond flavour, skip this ingredient, or substitute with vanilla or something fun!)

 

1. In a saucepan, whisk together all ingredients, constantly stirring until thick to avoid clumps. 

2. Pour into popsicle mold and freeze for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

3. To remove, run mold under hot water for 10-15 seconds and pull out carefully. To store, I wrap the pops in parchment paper (separately) and keep them in a freezer bag.

**Note: I like making these in small batches when I want to make other flavours as well. For a full tray, simply double the recipe!

 

Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Kaetlyn Anne

Intentionality SpotlightAmanda Walter | Maple Alps8 Comments

Today we continue with Intentionality Spotlight! Similar to Women of Intention, different bloggers are featured in an interview style. Unlike Women of Intention, the focus is more on their blogs themselves, as well as an area of intentionality in their life.

I am so excited to invite Kaetlyn Anne to talk with us today. I won't say too much about her beautiful and inspiring simple living blog since she'll be sharing it, but know that it's great.

Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Kaetlyn Anne | www.maplealps.com
 

Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your work, passions and interests?

I am a creator, blogger, and Etsy shop owner! I feel most like myself when I am creating—whether that be painting signs, fixing up old furniture, taking pictures, making videos, or even simply decorating a space in my home. A few of my favorite things in the world include sunshine, fresh flowers, a good cup of coffee, and Jesus.  I’m passionate about simplicity and intentional living and I strive to incorporate that into every aspect of my life!

 
Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Kaetlyn Anne  | www.maplealps.com
 

I love how your blog focuses on bringing simple back in everything from wellness and what we eat to how we approach our everyday items. What made you begin your simple way of living and what made you want to share it with others?

Thank you! I began my journey to simple and natural living at the beginning of 2016. At that point, I had been struggling with depression and anxiety for over 6 years and I was ready to do something about it. I had been on antidepressants for a few months at that time, and while they helped me mentally, my physical body was failing. I knew there had to be some other way to find true health.

My mom raised me in a very health conscious home, so I began to actually apply what she taught me and look more closely to what I put into and onto my body. Slowly I began eating better, throwing out toxic bath and beauty products, incorporating essential oils into my daily life, etc. I began to simplify everything and slowly I began to feel better, and better, and better. Eventually I realized I was no longer struggling with darkness like I used to and it was all because I chose to be intentional about what I bought, what I used, and what I consumed.

 
Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Kaetlyn Anne | www.maplealps.com

I wanted to share this journey and way of life with others because I have seen and felt firsthand how much freedom it can truly bring, in our physical and mental health. Our culture is always going to “have the next big thing” that will make you “happier” or “healthier” or “wealthier” but I believe that those things can only be found by going back. To simple and to natural. I want others to discover the healing and nourishment found in God’s creations, not the world’s.

 

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

I think that being intentional in prayer time and Jesus time is beyond important. I hate to admit that there are many days where I would like to speed through and get on with my day without taking the time to sit in His presence, but whenever I skip that critical time, my soul just feels off!  

If I’m not intentional about this, I can easily find myself opening the Instagram app more than I open my Bible, and that is not how I want to live my life. I have gotten into the habit of not even turning my phone on in the morning until I have had time with Jesus, as well as setting a “curfew” for myself to turn my phone off at night so I can be intentional and let God guide my evenings as well. 

 
Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Kaetlyn Anne | www.maplealps.com
 

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

Find a time of the day that you can fully dedicate to Jesus and stick to it. It may take a long time to develop the habit, but it is well worth it. Find a place in your house where you feel cozy and peaceful, and meet Him there daily. Leave all distractions behind! (That means your phone J) I’m definitely not always perfect with this, but I know God sees and is pleased with our every attempt to get to Him and sit with Him. He’s standing there with open arms every time!

 

Find Kaetlyn on her website or on Instagram


 

Easy Ideas to Live a Slower and Simpler Life

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

The slow life has always fascinated me. I grew up in the city, where almost nothing was slow but was always drawn to a simpler, quieter way of life. I begged my parents early on to find a place in the country. 

Even when you live in a busy city, there are plenty of ways to cultivate a slower and simpler life. Today, I share a few that go deeper than avoiding crowded shopping centers.

Simple Ideas to Live a Slower and Simpler Life | www.maplealps.com

 

 

Start waking up a little earlier

There is nothing like the calm of the morning before the rest of the world wakes up. It's a special peace that isn't found at any other time, and unless you've experienced it, it's hard to understand. But trust me. Nothing will make your day better than a slow morning. Waking up late and rushing creates stress, but setting your alarm earlier will change your day completely. 

 

Cultivate a love for homemade goodies 

Not just consuming them, but also making them! There's something to be said about the process involved in making homemade goodies whether it be [bread], muffins, your own granola, or even something as simple as preparing your own dinner. We live in a world that promotes convenience, and while not bad, there is always a way to make time to slow down and make things yourself. You'll feel a sense of accomplishment, and when you sit down to enjoy your treat, you'll be glad.

 

Make time for family

Living a simple and intentional life is all about priorities. Surrounding yourself with the things you love also includes being around those you love! Make time for family. Set aside some intentional, phone-free hours to just connect with, pray with, and enjoy one another. You will feel refreshed and happy afterwards.

 

Write Letters

Good old-fashioned snail mail is good for the soul - and not just for the person receiving it. In this fast-paced world where a quick text is the norm, slow down to dust off your stationary. Taking time to pen a letter or a card is a great way to let someone know you're thinking of them, and a great slow living activity.

 

Get a pet, or two

I once heard that those with pets live longer. There have been many different studies conducted, and it has been shown that owning a pet makes for a happier life. Why not? I thoroughly enjoy my pet and loved all my pets growing up, so I believe it!

 

Get House Plants

There's something about a houseplant that makes life feel so simple and slower. Don't ask me why! Watering it and taking care of its needs is a nice way to slow down and reflect. Of course, I have a black thumb so sometimes it becomes frustrating for me, but the more I practice, the longer the plant successors live! So far, I find that snake plants are able to resist my plant-killing tendencies.

 

Take up a slow hobby

My personal hobbies are pretty slow. You already know that I love to [crochet] and I often pair it with listening to audiobooks or podcasts. I also love getting out in nature and enjoying it in awe-filled silence. I don't even run with music on! Writing is another hobby that allows me to sit in a quiet room and pound out my thoughts. Get out and try something new! Find something you enjoy doing, and do it - even if you're not the best at it! Practice does make perfect.

 

Go for more walks

Going for walks is the perfect way to slow down. Apart from all the physical health benefits, it's a really great way to clear your head as well. Take along someone for company and enjoy a connecting conversation!

 


What are some of the ways you embrace a more simple life?


 

Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Crystal Whitlow

Intentionality SpotlightAmanda Walter | Maple Alps6 Comments

Today for Intentionality Spotlight, we talk to Crystal Whitlow about starting a business, resources she uses, and how she stays motivated and preserves balance in her life!

Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Crystal Whitlow | www.maplealps.com

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

Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog! I’m so happy to be here and talk about my life as a graphic designer and creative entrepreneur.

I currently call Kansas City my home and have grown fond of the Midwest culture.

During the day I work for Champion, the collegiate clothing company, and at night I spend my hours building up my creative profile through my online blog CW Design, Etsy shop, and Spoonflower store. I’m excited to turn my side hustle into a full-time adventure in the next few weeks.

I love being a graphic designer. I think of it as my super power! I see how good design as the power to motivate people to buy goods and build organizations. I enjoy studying marketing and how I can help grow my own business and help other businesses with my knowledge.

Outside of business ventures, I love paper crafting. I have a Silhouette Cameo machine that I absolutely love. A Silhouette Cameo is a machine that can read illustration files and cut them out of paper. It saves a bunch of time so that I can make many fun crafts for parties, Sabbath School, holidays and home decor.

Until now I have only made cut files for myself. Starting in June 2018, my mom and I will be opening an Etsy shop together to sell craft files.  It is our goal to inspire other people to flex their creative muscles to make their own projects. 

 
Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Crystal Whitlow | www.maplealps.com
 

You are a talented graphic designer and crafter. Were these always interests of yours and did you always want to go the entrepreneur route? How did you decide to start CW Design?

I definitely feel that I was born to be a creative entrepreneur. I have always enjoyed my art classes more than any other subject, and it’s a skill set that I have always felt more confident in.

I was the type of kid who would sell my holiday candy to my classmates in elementary school... until my dad found out and told me to stop. So, I have always been entrepreneurial minded. I love the thought of having control over my work schedule and finding my own opportunities to grow in my career.  I believe that I will feel more satisfaction through running my own business than working for someone else.

 
Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Crystal Whitlow | www.maplealps.com
 

As an entrepreneur, I imagine you have to be quite disciplined in certain areas. How do you stay organized and motivated? What are some resources that have helped you with this?

Having discipline is easier some weeks than others. I often struggle with feeling burnt out, and that I’m not achieving enough. What helps me the most is to take my goals and break them down into smaller goals, so I  feel like I am moving in the right direction.

For example, when I start freelancing, I will obviously need clients. So, I take the goal of finding clients who would benefit from hiring a graphic designer on a monthly retainer and try to find networking opportunities in my area. I can search on Meetup.com, Chamber of Commerce events, and co-working/office rental buildings. By physically showing up and making connections will lead to this goal. I can use Facebook Groups for Entrepreneurs and Upwork.com for online referrals.

I think giving myself permission, not to overwork is healthy too. It’s easy to get so wrapped into working on tasks and projects that it takes discipline to walk away from it too. I think it’s safe to say that overworking will lead to burn out too.

Most of all I focus on my main goal - Successfully running my own design studio and designing a lifestyle that financially provides for my family and creates new opportunities.  Naturally, I’m pretty driven toward making this goal happen.

Tools I use that make my life easier are:

I have a pretty cheap budget, so I keep things pretty simple. I would like to invest in Skillshare to learn new skills and other training workshops for small businesses. However, I feel that there is enough free information already available to learn new skills without having to pay for them. I really enjoy spending time in libraries vs paying for an online course.

Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Crystal Whitlow | www.maplealps.com

 

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

Balance. There is a time to work, time to rest, and time to reflect. I think having another hobby that isn’t design related is healthy for my mind. I love fitness, so I enjoy starting off my day with weight training and running in the evening. (On an ideal day.) I recently just signed up for my first half marathon, so that helps me to get moving from my stationary career.

After my morning workout, I love to take a few minutes to write in my prayer journal. Writing my prayers helps me organize all my wandering thoughts, and gives me peace in how I feel and what is going on in my life.

Mindfulness to me is being aware of how I feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s impossible to be mindful when running around trying to accomplish the next goal. Within all the noise in my head reminding me of the tasks I need to do and new ideas I should try, I remember that God said in Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Therefore, I don’t think that the term “mindfulness” only applied to yogis and Eastern Religions. I believe that God calls everyone to be still. Whether that be in meditation, prayer/ prayer journaling, stretching or nature walks etc., God knows that we need a balance of work and rest for a healthy life.

It’s not always easy, but with God’s grace, I can try my best for Him.

 

Intentionality Spotlight: Blog Love: Crystal Whitlow | www.maplealps.com

 

If you could give one piece of advice about [this area of intentionality] to someone who struggles with it, what would you tell them?

My advice for someone who is struggling with intentionality is to find a way they enjoy helping others. When someone understands how they can help someone it gives them a sense of purpose and passion. Everyone has their own skill set that can be used to bless others and be beneficial. If someone doesn’t know what their skill set is, I suggest trying new classes, figure out what you enjoy doing for fun, and think how you can take the joy to help someone else.

For example, I really enjoy hand lettering, but more so, I enjoyed encouraging other people to be creative too. So, I began teaching hand lettering workshops with the focus that, honestly, anyone can hand letter, even if you have bad handwriting!

 

You can find Crystal at her blog, CW Design, and on Instagram!