Maple Alps

DIY Facial Toner

Natural LivingAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

I remember when I was a teenager, how I was always very conscious of what was going on with my face. It's probably because my Asian family was extremely blunt about the imperfections of hormonal acne, but hey, I'm okay now. I remember going through a 5 step facial regimen every night to ensure my face would be clear of any sign if pimple growth. Of course, it didn't really help much - nature has a way of being cruel sometimes. 

My skin has since greatly improved (largely because of a grown awareness of what can cause acne and other issues), but that does not mean I do not need to take care of my skin anymore! I have found that what I eat has a large effect on my skin, but washing the impurities off my face (which is exposed all day long, I might add!) at the end of the day helps as well. Since, as you know, I like to keep the chemicals off my face, I set out to find the perfect solution.

Easy, all natural, 3-ingredient DIY face toner. Love this stuff! | www.maplealps.com

One thing I love about this toner is how inexpensive it is to put together! I had all the ingredients already on hand so I whipped up a batch right away to use. Another thing I love is how clean it makes me feel! Seriously, not to be gross or anything, when I would see that extra dirt come off onto the cotton pad even after using my face wash, I rejoiced! It doesn't use any harsh ingredients like alcohol or fragrances.

I have heard mixed reviews about using a toner with witch hazel or apple cider vinegar, but I've found this mixture to be successful for me (that was my disclaimer). It has now been a year since first making and using a homemade face wash and this toner. I don't use it every day (you'll see one reason why in the next paragraph), but I have noticed a definite change.

I do have one thing I feel a duty to mention: You could truly call this potion a husband spray, because, like bug spray, my husband will not get too close when I use it. Unless your significant other enjoys the smell of apple cider vinegar, use at your own risk ;-)

DIY Facial Toner

2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Witch Hazel
1/2 cup Distilled Water
Essential oils - lavender, lemon, tea tree

1) Mix apple cider vinegar and witch hazel into desired glass container.
2) Slowly add the water, and finally the essential oils.
3) You will need to give a good shake before using a cotton pad to wipe your face.

 

What kinds of homemade facial cleansers have you tried and loved? Let me know below!


 

6 Natural Ways to Make Your Common Cold More Bearable

Health, Natural LivingAmanda Walter | Maple Alps1 Comment

It is definitely that time of year when colds start trying to invade our space. I personally dislike colds even more than the flu, simply because I usually feel mostly well, and just have an annoying sore throat and stuffy (or runny) nose. At least if I have something worse, I just feel completely awful. I guess I’m just strange. Of course, as a teacher (and most everyone will have this problem), I’m exposed to a lot of different germs in a day (and the kiddos have been coming in lately with sniffling noses), and as life will have it, sometimes because of teaching demands, I sometimes don’t get the nutrients, exercise, or sleep I need.

Of course, the best thing to do for a cold is to prevent it. You can do this by making sure you are eating the necessary nutrients your body needs, getting plenty of rest and water, and making sure you are exercising regularly! These simple things will help you keep your immune system up and colds away!

Whenever we do get a cold, we start pulling out our natural remedies. Now, our remedies don’t necessarily heal our colds (though some of them may help shorten a few of the symptoms), but they definitely make the colds more manageable and bearable. I have friends who eat whole onions and others who make the most intense sounding concoctions, but I'm not at that level yet. Then again, my colds don't get too terrible...

Do take note that none of these remedies replaces medical advice, so if you think your cold is worse than a cold, please go to a doctor!

*This post contains affiliate links

6 Natural Ways to Make Your Cold More Bearable

Ginger Lemon Tea

 

This is a simple mix I like to keep in our fridge during sickness. It’s pleasant to sip on, tastes great and is good for you too:

Ginger
Lemon
Raw Honey

Slice the ginger and lemon and layer it in a jar, making several layers.
Pour raw honey (make sure it really is raw honey - bonus points for local too!) over the layers until the jar is filled.

Spoon out the mixture into your mug and add hot water when ready! Keep it in the fridge when you aren’t using it. I drink a few mugs of this each day I’m sick!

Note: ginger keeps well in the freezer, so go ahead and freeze what you didn’t use!

Natural Ways to Make Your Cold More Bearable | www.maplealps.com

 

Ginger Tea

 

If you don’t like the ginger/lemon mix, just plain ginger tea will do as well!

Add ginger (thinly sliced or grated if it was frozen) to a pot of water and boil! Strain into your mug and you will have a nice strong ginger tea! You can add a bit of raw honey to offset the spice if you like.

 

Sinus Bath Salt Mix

 

This is another great recipe to keep in your cupboard! Enjoy this sinus-clearing bath mix!

1 Cup Epsom Salts (try this one from Amazon!)
3 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil
3 drops of Lavender essential oil
3 drops of Peppermint essential oil

Put 2-3 TBSP in your bath water and enjoy your soak! Don’t forget to breathe in deeply!
 

Natural Ways to Make Your Cold More Bearable | www.maplealps.com

 

Stay Hydrated, Rested and Warm

 

Be sure to drink plenty (I’m serious!) of water and stay rested and warm. Sleep is not a bad thing at any time - especially when you’re sick. Use a hot water bottle (this one from Amazon is super cute) or heat pad (I have this adorable one) to keep you warm (and to help with those sinuses too)!

 

Eucalyptus Oil in Shower

 

Similar to a face steam (hot water + eucalyptus oil in a bowl and cover your head), put 4-5 drops of eucalyptus oil in the bottom of your shower to help clear your sinuses. It smells and feels great!

 

Avoid Refined Sugars

 

Sugar affects your immune system and keeps you from getting better! Avoid sugary treats! Opt for healthy Whole Foods instead.

 

 

 

Of course, I hope you are all able to avoid the common cold this year! It’s definitely my goal to stay on top of my health so I can avoid the annoyance of this little bug!

How do you combat your colds? I have friends who eat whole onions and others who make the most intense sounding concoctions.

I’d love to know your remedies too!


 

How to Host on a Budget

Lifestyle, MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps4 Comments

After publishing my mini hospitality series and this post here, I was inspired to share some more tips and ideas on the topic of hosting and hospitality. Budget is always something that I try to be mindful of because if I’m not, money starts disappearing. Well, not really, but you get what I’m trying to say.

I am passionate about the topic of hospitality and I so wish it was something that was practiced more! Gathering together is such an encouraging thing - even for an introvert like myself. It’s so important to cultivate the culture or fellowship, and this is one way that is often overlooked in this age of technology.

Today, I want to share some more practical tips about hosting others, but this time on the topic of finances. Is it possible to have guests over and stay within your budget? Absolutely!

How to Host on a Budget | www.maplealps.com

Choose simple meals you are familiar with

When you’re hosting someone intentionally, what food you serve is not as important as how you serve and encourage hearts. Choose a simple, healthy meal that will not leave anyone feeling too heavy. Also, choose a meal you are comfortable cooking - nights you are hosting are not the nights you should experiment with a new dish. You might end up tossing it and going back to something easy anyway, so save your pennies on a simple meal! Some of my favourites are:

Roasted Garlic Pasta, Green Beans, Bread, and a Salad!

Fruit for dessert with some easy cookies or homemade ice cream

 

Meal plan accordingly

There is no need to go overboard with the amount of food you serve. Plan accordingly for your amount of guests (and you!).

 

Set a Budget and Shop smart

Without setting a budget, there will be no boundaries to the amount you spend. That being said, there is no reason to go overboard or over your budget when picking up groceries. Check for coupons, and don’t go shopping when you’re hungry! Also, check your pantry before you leave!

 

Related: How Not to Go Broke From Buying Groceries

 

Pick flowers from your own garden

While not necessary, flowers are nice to have to create a welcoming environment. Depending on the season, rather than buying flowers, clip some from your own garden (or sit outside and enjoy the garden!). You don’t have to buy expensive blooms to have them appreciated.

 

Use cloth napkins

We always host with cloth napkins because we don’t buy paper ones in an effort to reduce our waste production. But the cloth version helps with the budget too! They don’t cost much extra to wash because we just throw them in with the rest of the kitchen linens anyway, and they can be used over and over again! It’s a great plus that they’re pretty! Just make sure they’re nice and clean before giving them to a guest.

 

Consider a potluck if appropriate

If there is no way you can accommodate everyone, or there is an extremely large group coming, consider asking for help! Make it a potluck so no one feels awkward - where everyone brings their favourite side or dish. You can even assign items so you have more control over the menu. It’s always fun to sample different dishes, and most people don’t mind bringing something to share!


 


How do you host on a budget? Any tips?


 

 

Vegan Hot Chocolate Mix

RecipesAmanda Walter | Maple Alps16 Comments

The holidays are not the holidays to me if hot chocolate is not involved. There is just something about snuggling up in the couch with a hot mug of love in your hand. Of course, it's not hot chocolate if it’s not magically light and creamy at the same time.

As much as I hate to see Summer go, there’s not much better than cuddle weather. Sweaters and blankets make me happy, and the best thing to complete that is a hot drink. I enjoy tea most days, but sometimes I like something sweet - like a chai latte or hot chocolate. When I don’t have time to melt down some dairy-free cocoa, it’s nice to have this mix ready and available in my cupboard! Well, let’s be real - we take hot drinks really seriously in our house, so more like our hot drink station.

With Christmas around the corner, and the cold weather already here, I figured I’d better buckle down and write down my pantry version of vegan hot chocolate mix to share with all of you!

Vegan Hot Chocolate Mix | www.maplealps.com

All of my favourite Christmas traditions revolve around hot drinks (and not just hot chocolate, mind you!). Decorating the tree with one at hand was a must. Watching Home Alone doesn’t count unless you have one to keep warm. It’s just something you need to have - something that isn’t as enjoyable when the weather outside is hot. It’s special.

And it’s customizable!

This is quick and simple to mix up, and is subject to all sorts of variations. We like adding cinnamon to our mix, and a tad of almond essence to it when we add hot water. You can stir it with a candy cane, top with marshmallows or whipped cream, and even add soy nog! Dip a Christmas cookie in it! You do you! I finally found some dairy-free Reddi Whip in the store, so I’ll be topping mine with that!

Enjoy your hug in a mug!

Vegan Hot Chocolate Mix | www.maplealps.com

Vegan Hot Chocolate Mix

Makes About 2 Cups of Mix

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup dairy free powdered milk (I used coconut. Here’s a link to a similar one on Amazon)

1/4 cup organic cane sugar

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1) Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until everything is well mixed.

2) Transfer to a airtight jar and keep in your pantry for 3 months.

3) To use, add 3 TBSP of the mix to 8oz. (1 cup) of hot water and enjoy! You can adjust to your sweetness preferences.

 

Do some of your favourite Christmas traditions revolve around hot drinks or the other way around? I’d love to hear about some of them!


 

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

There is, unfortunately, a lot of waste associated with the holidays. Between gifts, packaging and even food waste and packaging, Americans throw away an average of 25% more trash during this season. 

I know for me growing up, Christmas morning was filled with tons of wrapping paper and such. It was normal to grab a huge garbage bag after opening all of our gifts and stuffing as much as we could in there. Then it would go out to the curb for the garbage man to pick up! And this was normal. 

The good news is that there are a lot of creative ways to make that less. The change can begin with you!

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season | www.maplealps.com

Food

Buy Less - Be Realistic: Plan Carefully so that you know exactly how much to buy. Realistically, not everyone will be eating a full serving of anything if there are a ton of choices, so consider making fewer dishes, or smaller amounts of each option.

Go Small: Use smaller plates and encourage self-serve to reduce unwanted food waste. There is nothing worse than seeing half a plate of food being thrown out!

Use Leftovers: Eat those leftovers, or if you still have a ton of untouched food, consider donating it.

Compost Food Scraps: I think this is pretty straightforward. 

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season | www.maplealps.com

Gifts

Thoughtful Gift Giving: Practice the art of thoughtful gift giving. Don't give others something they won't be able to use, or give just something just because you feel obligated to. 

Give Experiences instead of Things That Can Be Wrapped. This is a great thing that can potentially lead to giving the gift of quality time! Gift things like tickets to something or plan a fun scavenger hunt. Be creative!

Be Creative with Wrapping: Skip conventional wrapping paper that you can find ample amounts of in the landfills every year. Wrap gifts with things such as scarves or newspaper. Try a kitchen towel or even a mason jar for kitchen gifts!

Find gifts that have less packaging: Edible gifts are great for this!

Consider skipping the Christmas Card: I love getting Christmas cards, and I love sending them as well. If you absolutely must send them, choose recyclable paper options. I know that they go in the trash and it's the thought that counts, but it is something to think about. 

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season | www.maplealps.com

Decor

Recycle Your Christmas Tree: It's really a myth that plastic trees are better for the environment, as the material used is generally not good for the landfills. If gettng a tree, opt for a real tree if possible. Do some research about recycling trees in your area - many places turn your used Christmas Tree into mulch or wood chips to be used again. We like to use ours in the summer as firewood in our pit...

Be minimalistic with your decor. Yes, it's adorable to have reindeer chair covers and streamers, but do consider that less is more when it comes to Christmas decor. 

 
 

Being mindful of your waste production doesn't have to be hard over the holiday season! Practice all year, and you'll be a natural by the time the holidays roll through! How do you minimize your waste over the holidays?