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The Softest Lap Blanket

DIY, BlogAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

I don't know about you, but I love a good book haul. I find most of my books at a second-hand store. The ones that are in good condition are usually the ones that leave with me, get a nice Clorox wipe bath, and they are added to my library. The cashier, without fail, will ask me if I am a teacher when I have a particularly good children's book haul that day. I love that my kids love reading, and I'm always on the hunt for duplicates of favourite titles or brand new ones that I know will interest certain students.

Thinking about books makes me think about snuggly and cuddly things, so I decided to share this lap blanket today. I have been loving it for the last few months. I whipped this one up in January, and it was surprisingly quick to stitch! Originally, I wanted to make a full-sized blanket with this chunky yarn (and I totally should have because it is so soft!). I ended up miscounting my stitches across but decided to keep going anyway since it was long enough to make a lap blanket out of. I am only a tad disappointed, but it's actually quite perfect for my needs.

Softest Baby/Lap Blanket | www.maplealps.com

I don't even know where the inspiration for this blanket came from. I just saw some white blankets on the internet one day and decided to start crocheting. I added the stripes because I happened to have the crimson wool identical to the fisherman's and figured it would be nice to have some contrast. I think it turned out lovely. 

Of course, my husband questioned why I needed to make yet another blanket. At least they are all diverse, and I do make other projects too!

Softest Baby/Lap Blanket | www.maplealps.com

Astra loves this blanket as well. She jumps up on my lap whenever it is across my lap, and I've caught her snuggling up with it when I'm not looking. Since I have no human models living in my house, you get to see pictures of my furry friend. If you don't like cats, well that is too bad. Deal with it. But how could you not love this sweet face?

Edit: This soft blanket now lines her favourite cubby in my office and she sleeps there all of the time! So much for a lap blanket, eh?

Softest Baby/Lap Blanket | www.maplealps.com
Softest Baby/Lap Blanket | www.maplealps.com
Softest Baby/Lap Blanket | www.maplealps.com
Softest Baby/Lap Blanket | www.maplealps.com

I'm happy with how this turned out, and maybe one day I will go through with making a matching larger-sized one.

 

Have you crocheted anything lately?


 

Dealing With Stress

Ask Amanda, Blog, HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps9 Comments
Ask Amanda: Dealing with Stress | www.maplealps.com

 

Question: What are your best stress-coping methods?

 

This is a really great question! Sometimes I feel as if I have so much stress that I’m drowning. Other times, I feel like I can conquer the world. I find that dealing with stress is best done by preventing it as much as possible. Of course, this is not always possible - life likes to throw unsuspected curve balls every once in a while. I suppose the easiest way to answer this question is to share some of the things that I utilize to both prevent and manage stress.

 

 

Keep a planner

Writing down my tasks and goals and prioritizing them helps me keep on track. I am able to focus on things that keep me productive and I waste less time when I know what I need to be doing. When I find myself wasting time, I get discouraged and have a hard time picking myself up from it, so this is a nice preventative way of dealing with some stressful things.

 

 

Journal

Oh, the amount of filled journals I have is amazing. I write in them significantly less than I used to, but I do journal regularly. Sometimes I’ll just get my thoughts out till I can think straight again. Other times I’ll write prayers or letters to God. I do have one rule in my journals though: I never write anything bad about anyone. My journals will likely outlive me, and I don’t want a moment of agitation or anger on my part to ruin anyone’s reputation. Besides, I want to get over it, right? I don’t want to have to relive it every time I reread my journal - which I do on occasion.

 

 

Take time for Me

This may sound counter-productive, but when I take time to sit back and recharge, I am able to come back and face all of my tasks head-on, and with a better attitude than before. Taking a bath, or lighting some candles and chilling, taking time to read something for fun. Those are all great ways I can just remove myself temporarily from the situation. Sometimes, I just need a power nap to get my focus back on track as well.

 

 

Sing

This started from a very young age. I’ve sung to myself in so many stressful situations - from pumping myself up for interviews and other difficult situations to singing while driving on icy roads. It somehow calms me. Especially singing hymns and scripture songs that are filled with promises that remind me that God’s got me.

 

 

Give My Burdens to Jesus

How heavy a glass of water is just depends on how long you hold it. The longer you hold it, the heavier it seems. And if you’re carrying that thing for a year, we may have to call the ambulance for you. The same with our stress and burdens. Jesus tells us to come and give Him our burdens (see Matthew 28:11). His rest is a promise to us that I love to cling to.

 

 


How do YOU deal with stress?


 
 

Finding the Time

Lifestyle, Ask Amanda, BlogAmanda Walter | Maple Alps4 Comments
Ask Amanda: Finding the Time and Balance to Blog, Teach, and Have a Life | www.maplealps.com
 

Question: How do you find time to be a wife, teacher and blogger? Is that even possible? Can we have a glimpse into a day in the life of Amanda?

 

 

Honestly, I ask myself this question all of the time, so it is no wonder that it is the most common question I get! I wish I could say that I teach during the day and blog at night, but it really is not that simple. Teaching and blogging both require so much behind-the-scenes work and sometimes I wonder if I can manage it all! 

 

Learning how to say no has been the one thing that has helped me accomplish so much in these areas of my life. Choosing my priorities carefully has been important, as has to accept that both teaching and blogging are passions of mine.

 

We actually have more time than we think. A lot can be accomplished in 24 hours (including getting 7-8 hours of sleep!) when the time is used carefully and intentionally without distractions.

 

Blogging tasks are usually done over the weekend, and sometimes in the evening if I have some spare time. Long weekends and breaks are also used productively for those tasks (for example, this last summer, I queued 4 months worth of content). During periods that I have less time for blogging, I like to repurpose or update content so that I’m still keeping things fresh and up-to-date. Sometimes I’ll perfect a recipe. All of that being said, my teaching tasks always come first. Thankfully, I’ve got a knack for being productive and motivated most of the time. We all have days.

 

As for being a wife, it is sometimes hard to be intentional about that. Last year, my husband and I struggled to find enough time to even just sit down and talk (both for fun and for important things like the budget). The pastor/teacher duo is not always the best since his work starts getting even busier once I get home. There are always constantly meetings in the evenings between the two of us, and I try to go to bed early most nights to ensure I have enough energy for the next day. Also to ensure my immune system stays functioning.

 

We have started setting aside one evening a week for a “date night,” which really just means we spend the evening together. It could be playing board games, cooking together, or going out to eat, but we make sure to connect deeper than just a passing “hey!” We used to joke every Sunday, “see you next week!” We would literally not see each other for more than a few minutes a day depending on the week, so I hope to not have that as a reality this next year. I should also mention that my husband is fantastic at sharing chores around the house, which makes keeping things tidy much easier!

 

Finding time for personal and spiritual and professional growth is most important for me on top of all of the other things I do. One way I make sure to meet all of these needs is getting up extra early by 4:30 am to ensure I have time to pray and read my Bible. Another thing I like to do is to use my 40-minute driving commute to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. Sometimes on my way home, I'll call friends or family.

 

Exercising is another thing I try to find time for. Since exercising at ridiculous times in the morning is not for me, I have in the past chosen  to do it after I come home. There has never been a time where it hasn't perked me up and made me feel good - even if it's a short 30-minute walk around the neighbourhood, even if the motivation is hard to find after a long day sometimes.

 

It's all about using time wisely. I take one day per week to rest and recuperate and to focus on my relationship with God and others - one day where I do not do any work at all! It sounds counterproductive, but it truly is our original design and is a blessing!

 

If you struggle with making time for the things that matter for you, I highly recommend printing off or buying a weekly timetable and marking off all of the things you have to be at or do - including sleeping and eating! You may be surprised at the time you have left off, and the things you can fill those slots in with! Or with what you can shift to make a manageable timetable!

 

 


What are some of the ways you manage your time with tasks?


 

If you have a question, feel free to leave one below for a future segment of "Ask Amanda!"

 

I Quit Makeup. Here's What Happened.

Lifestyle, Natural Living, Health, BlogAmanda Walter | Maple Alps11 Comments

I quit makeup.

Over two years ago.

Now, before you stop reading because you think I’m going  to tell you to stop wearing makeup, I’m not going to do any such thing.

I just felt like writing about my experiences - good and bad - when I stopped wearing makeup. Consider this more a personal reflection, and take from it what you wish!

This girl quit makeup | www.maplealps.com

Why did I do it?

I’ll be honest: I have no radical reason as to why I stopped wearing makeup. I just….decided to one morning. Don’t get me wrong - I really did enjoy wearing it and putting time and effort into my appearance, but when I questioned my motives (and some of the ingredients and testing methods of certain companies), I didn’t like what I was seeing. It was all about me and what people saw when they saw me. I realized that what I looked like shouldn’t matter as much as what my character was - so I took a break. My break has stretched to two years now, and I can’t say that I don’t miss it at times (again, for mostly superficial reasons), but I took some time to reflect on it.

 

It saves me time

I seriously used to be really good at getting up really early in the morning and getting myself together and ready. Over the years, however, it has gotten harder and harder to do that - mainly due to my light sleep and having a husband who goes to bed later than I would prefer. I am still obligated to wake up much earlier than I would like with these circumstances, but when I need the extra ten minutes, I take it. When I don’t need the extra time, it is now used in a much more productive way; I can extend the time for prayer, or eat a slower breakfast. It’s nice to not rush. It’s also nice to not spend so much time in front of the mirror looking goofy.

 

It saves me money

As I was going through the cosmetic aisle the other day, I was shocked to see some of the prices on brands I used to buy regularly. I did some quick math in my head and the number that came up was quite large. Being much more intentional about my money is important, and prioritizing what I spend it on is part of that. I was glad to realize that a large portion I would normally not even think about spending on makeup “essentials” now goes into savings.

 

It saves me stress

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand the extra stress. Why should I have to worry about whether my mascara is truly waterproof when it rains, or if my nail polish is chipping in an unattractive manner? I have enough to worry about in a day, so adding on these factors was just making me more of a basket-case than I already am! Honestly, going back to the time thing as well, the stress of running out of time in the morning is too much for my delicate heart.

 

It saves my skin

It is nothing new that a lot of makeup and other toiletries are made with questionable ingredients that harm our bodies. Yes, there are fantastic alternatives I’m sure, but I’ve not explored these [often expensive] alternatives. Honestly, I could do with putting fewer layers of “stuff” on my extremely absorptive skin anyway. I don’t have the best skin, and skipping the chemical-filled cosmetics has improved it so much.

 

My Husband Still Loves Me

Yup.

 

In Conclusion

I never set out to see how long I could go without painting a nail or lining my eye (sounds so weird when I say it that way). I just got fed up and started on a journey I didn’t know I was going on. I doubt that I’ll ever go back, and if I do, I do. For now, I am content with my choice and glad for the extra time, money and peace of mind it contributes to.

 


What do you think about my experience? Experienced anything similar?


 

My Word for 2018

BlogAmanda Walter | Maple Alps6 Comments

If you happen to follow along on Instagram, then you likely remember me posting my word for 2018. I wasn’t planning on sharing it on the blog, but the more I thought about it, the better an idea it seems. Now, blogging is pretty vulnerable. You are basically putting your thoughts, opinions, and ways of life out there for anyone and everyone to read and the world is a scary place! But this also relates to my word this year. Ready? 

My Word for 2018 | www.maplealps.com

Liberation.  

lib·er·a·tion

1) the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery, or oppression; release.

2) freedom from limits on thought or behavior.

I know it is sort of a strange word, but do hear me out.

I'm the person who always lets self-consciousness and perfectionism hold me back from doing things. Thing is, I'm also the person who learns well and quickly from mistakes.  So, this year, I'm not holding back. I'll write the horrible blog posts. I'll take the mediocre photos. I'll speak my terrible German. I'll take chances at work. I'll put myself out there. I'll say no. I'll say yes. But I will do it all free from my own selfish inhibitions. I'm tired of not doing things because "it won't be good enough."

Now this is not to say that I will do everything and anything. I still will be intentional in everything I do (and actually, I plan on taking on fewer responsibilities so I can focus on doing them well). But this year, I will be intentional about choosing to do things that will develop my character for good.

2018 is my year. I can feel it. 

 

Do you have a word for 2018?