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The Art of Homemade Gifts

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

I have always been a fan of gifts that were homemade. Cards, pieces of art, even letters in the mail - anything that someone took the time to put together have always been my favourite type of gift to receive. I have a small box full of the special items that loved ones have made me over the years, and I highly doubt I will ever let them go because I enjoy looking through them from time to time.


Of course, not all gifts are given for long-term usage purposes. Maybe you want to give a neighbor gift to let those in your neighborhood know you’re thinking of them or perhaps you want to send a card of encouragement to a friend. Since it was my birthday not too long ago, here are some ideas that will help you cultivate and appreciate the art of homemade gifts.


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The Art of Homemade Gifts | www.maplealps.com

Create with the Recipient In Mind

People enjoy simple gifts that they enjoy. If you make a special kind of granola your recipient loves, a mason jar or tin full of it will bring a smile to their face. If you know they love beautiful wall hangings, make one in their favourite colour (or maybe learn how to make one if you don’t know how to). Pick some eggs from your chicken coup or collect a jar of honey from your hive. You get the point. Honestly, a homemade or well picked-out card always brings a smile too!




Be Creative with Packaging

Creative packaging is so fun! Side note, I actually used to follow a blog that posted design ideas for packaging that graphic design students mocked up. They were so creative! Maybe wrap a food item in a kitchen towel, or craft your own gift bag. Paint a plant pot to accompany some green goodness. Maybe you are mailing a card and want to personalize the stamp or the way you write the address. You know your gift and recipient best.




Do Not Overthink It

Don’t overthink gift giving. The purpose of a gift is to show someone you appreciate them and are thinking about them.  It could be a simple handmade or handwritten card or note or even some flowers or herbs from your garden! It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive or hard to put together. What they say really is true: it’s the thought that counts.




Expensive Does Not Mean Meaningful

Speaking of the thought that counts, there is no reason to break the bank to share a gift with someone. Keep things simple. Honestly, you could box up a cupcake or two after you made a batch and it would be appreciated to whoever receives it (be mindful of allergies).




Some More Homemade Gift Ideas:

Homemade Hand Soap in a cute jar (you can buy inexpensive foaming soap lids like these on Amazon!)

Body Wash

Homemade Granola

Biscuit Mix

Handmade Card

Loaf of homemade bread

Something crocheted/knitted

Soup in a jar

Hot chocolate mix


Do you enjoy giving or receiving handmade gifts? What do you love about it?


 

Three Things to Know About Biblical Hospitality

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

What do you think of when you hear the word, “Hospitality”? I’m sure a few things may cross your thoughts like perfect Pinterest-worthy table settings and the latest mason jar craft. Maybe the South comes to mind with their famous Southern Hospitality, or finally getting to use that fancy wedding set you got years ago. I must admit: I thought the same. Since I was young, I would pour over home magazines, oohing and ahhing over all the pretty things that could house delicious meals (who am I kidding? I still do that from time to time). When I threw a party, I threw a party, going all out with decor and matching dishes and sometimes thematic scapes that would impress even Joanna Gaines (okay, maybe not that great, but you get the picture). 



When the topic of Biblical Hospitality came  up, I had no idea what that was. I had taken one of those spiritual gifts test and had gotten hospitality as one and I did not know what that meant. I decided to dig a little deeper. Here are just a few things I found in the Bible about hospitality (all verses are from the English Standard Version)




  • “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

  • “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9

  • "Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." Romans 12:13

  • "She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy." Proverbs 31:20

  • “...and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts” Acts 2:46

  • “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” Matthew 25:35




It is tempting to get discouraged in times like today when social media shows picture-perfect homes and tablescapes. It’s tempting to just give up and not even bother trying unless your party is Instagram-worthy. 




With the Bible being so clear on the importance of each of us showing hospitality, I felt it important to not only practice it, but help others do so as well. Today, I want to share with you just three things to know about Biblical Hospitality. I hope it is practical for you and will encourage you as you move forward in blessing others!

Three Things to Know About Biblical Hospitality | www.maplealps.com


1) It Is For Everyone and Yields Great Joy




We are to show hospitality to everyone we meet - not just our family and friends. Hospitality requires vulnerability and obedience. Some of the best and most memorable visits are messy and unexpected. Sometimes showing hospitality is even unwanted! I’ve had many a time, especially because I’ve devoted my life to ministry, where people have shown up at the door, or plans have been made very last minute. I’m quite type A and like to have things perfectly in order. When I’m tempted to turn people down or shrink away, I remember Christ’s example of embracing everyone. It is always a blessing when I choose to follow His way.




Although the practice of hospitality asks the sacrifice of our time, our needs and our resources, it is rewarded with great joy. There is not much that is more energizing and fulfilling than serving others. You just need to be willing!




2) Hospitality is Not the same as Entertaining




There is no mention of Pinterest or picture-perfect table spreads in any definitions of hospitality. Of course, there is nothing wrong with making things beautiful for our guests (and we absolutely should create pleasant and warm atmospheres for them), but is your motivation true hospitality, or just showing off? 




Remember: entertaining is to impress, but hospitality is to bless.




The best hospitality I’ve experienced has been with those who encourage me and welcome me without even trying. I’ve left their company refreshed and ready to pass their love to others. Be sure that people leave your company refreshed and invigorated for good, and pray that they have experienced Christ through you.





3) Hospitality Is About More Than Sharing a Meal




Hospitality can be risky, and is asked of all of us (remember those verses above?). While some of us may find it easier to do than others, we are all called to show Christ's love and hospitality - it can be (and should be!) a part of our lives.




Being aware of the needs of others is a huge way to show this. Pray with others. Encourage them. Listen to them! Yes, give them a meal if that is how you are ministering to them. Meeting needs in a practical way is truly hospitable - would we not want the same to be shown to us?





Hospitality is for us to show God's love to others. God calls us to it, and the rewards are eternal. We have been blessed so we can bless others. Withholding hospitality will hinder our joy. 





How do you show hospitality? What are some things you struggle with when doing so? Does it come easily to you?












5 Steps to Simplify Your Closet

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps4 Comments

I used to be overwhelmed with the amount of clothing I owned and I didn't even know it. When I moved away from home and found that living out of two suitcases was actually possible, it changed my life - especially when it came to my wardrobe.

Simplifying my closet has been a lifelong project for me, but for you, it doesn’t have to be. It took me years to let go of the clothing that didn’t flatter me or make me feel good (and to realize that, hey, I don’t actually need to keep it just because I bought it!). I am finally at the point where I can see every single article of clothing at any given time, and I know exactly what I own, and know that everything I have fits me well and suits me.

Today, I want to share with you a basic guide to help you begin with your clothing purging process.

Affiliate link used in post

5 Steps to Simplifying Your Closet | www.maplealps.com
 

 

Step One: Prepare to Purge



It is important to prepare before starting the great purge. Gather some boxes, bins or garbage bags and label them: Sell, Donate, Throw Away (a garbage bag works well for this particular category).



Keep these things in mind as you begin, so you know exactly what bin/bag each article of clothing should go into 



  1. Sell newer (or unworn!) clothing in good condition (think ThredUP or other consignment stores in your area)

  2. Donate older clothing in good condition (Goodwill, Salvation Army, friends, etc.)

  3. Throw away anything that is beyond repair



Do not hesitate to get rid of items that you feel you might need in the future for a special event like a themed party, etc. Remember that you can always borrow from a friend when something comes up, or even get creative with what you already own or check a second hand store.





Step Two: Remove Everything From Your Closet



Yes, you read that right. Every. Last. Item. Pile them on top of your [made] bed and get ready to go through each and every single item. You must handle every single article of clothing.

 
Declutter Guide Download.png




Step Three: Begin




Be honest about your clothing - Get rid of everything that doesn't fit, is worn out or beyond repair, things that you don't love wearing, items that you haven't worn for a year (or years!), and most importantly, anything that does not bring you joy. Consider your current personal style (which has likely changed if you haven’t done this in a while) and decide whether your current articles of clothing reflect it. If you don’t look good in it or don’t feel good in it, do not bother keeping it.



Accessories, shoes and scarves too! - Let go of accessories that no longer fit your personal style or are no longer usable (i.e. have holes, rips, etc.). Don’t forget that handbags and wallets  fall under this category too, so avoid neglecting your collection! Make sure all zippers are working and there are no worn holes or other broken parts.



Critique your sock drawer - It's time to let go of the socks that have no partner and the underwear with, gasp, holes! Anything with worn out elastics should be purged as well. Don’t forget to think about hosiery - anything with runs or that no longer fits right needs to go! 



Remove things that shouldn't be in your closet at all! - Your closet is not a catch all for everything that doesn’t fit under your bed (not that you should have things under your bed either…). Make sure your closet is a safe home for your precious clothing and accessories.



Related: My Favorite Organizational Products


Step Four: Return Items to the Closet



After your diligent sorting, it is time to return your items to the closet. There are so many different ways to organize, but one way I like is having longer hanging items on the left and shorter to the right. It creates a nice draw for the eyes and is easy to get to what you’re looking for. I also sort by tones - dark to light. I personally do not think there is one right way to organize, but make sure that you can see every article of clothing in your closet. Out of sight, out of mind, really is applicable to wardrobes. What also helps? Using pretty hangers! I love wooden ones, like these ones from Amazon.




Step Five: Sit back and admire your work



Enjoy a tall, cold glass of lemonade or water too. You deserve it. Good job!



 

 


It's amazing what kind of relief fills your heart when you open the doors to a simplified closet. Why don't you take a chance and try it out?


 

Just Graduated? No Job? Do These 9 things.

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

You have graduated! Congratulations! The hat has been flung and the diploma [cover] is in your hand - don’t worry, the real thing will come in the mail later, hehe! As a postgrad, you know the struggles of staying up late to finish that paper or study for that test. You’ve practiced for hours to perform the perfect jury, and you’ve learned to avoid 7 a.m. classes. You have also gone through the struggle of deciding on your major and perhaps you were like me and changed it three times! Now you are standing at the entrance of the work world, fresh out of university, with most jobs wanting 3 years of experience.

I know what it’s like to not have a job after graduation. Heck, I’ve been there twice! But all is not lost when in that situation. It can be frustrating if your dream job isn’t opening itself up to you right away, but here are a few things you can do in the meantime:

Just Graduated? No Job? Do These 9 things. | www.maplealps.com


 

1) Be Open

Widen your search parameters. Rather than focusing on your ideal job, focus on the one that fits your interest scope. Don’t settle for a job you don’t like, but be open to the unexpected. Who knows? Maybe that entry-level job that you were not really looking forward to will really open your eyes to a passion you never knew you had! You might even end up working in countries or place you never thought possible!

 

 

2) Stick to a Schedule

Stay on top of those applications and be timely in it. Dedicate certain days to do hardcore job searching so that you don’t lose momentum. Rather than sitting and waiting (because you never know when someone will get back to you), use your time wisely. Do activities that will increase your chances of landing work.

 

 

3) Reach out to your Network

This one does not come easily to me, so it may not for you. If need be, stick your neck out! I’m sure you have heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!” and that truly is an accurate statement at times! Send out an email to a trusted advisor, or meet someone in your same field over coffee. Don’t be afraid to make that phone call. Sometimes, jobs aren’t always listed and you can get the scoop on some of those! If nothing else, you can solidify relationships along the way.

 

 

4) Practice Your Skills - Or Build New Ones

Now that you are unemployed, it is a great time to practice your skills! This is actually how Maple Alps was born - during a season of unemployment! You may not have employment, but now is a great time to add tools to your toolbox that will make you a top rate hire! Focus on things that are of interest to you that can help you get a job in your field. If you’re interested in writing, start a blog! If you want to do photography, why not hone in on your graphic design skills? Learn calligraphy. Take some online courses. Do something you love. Pursue both professional and personal passions (loving that alliteration!)!

 

Related: Fun Creative Ways to Learn New Things (Without Going Back to School)

 

5) Finetune your Resume

Make sure your resume is gold. I’m sure it is already up there, but put in some extra effort to tailor your resume to the job you are applying to. Spend some time on it, making sure you take off any irrelevant information, and highlight the things that make you shine!

 

 

6) Reevaluate Your Finances - Or Make A Plan

Unemployment doesn’t usually bring in the big bucks. If you are in this boat, and especially if you have student loans you still need to pay off, it may not be the best idea to use up your cash reserve unnecessarily. Make a plan - whether that means learning how to cook more meals, not going to Target, or even getting a roommate. It looks different for every person. Evaluate your priorities so you will feel more comfortable and more in control of your situation.

 

 

7) Consider an Internship or Volunteering

I know, I know, you want to make money and many internships are not paid - and neither is volunteering. That is okay. Make the best out of interning/volunteering by logging hours, networking, and developing your professional skills. Wake up, dress up, and show up!

 

 

8) Stay Positive

It is easy to get frustrated with not having a job. I know, because I’ve been there plenty of times. You may not get your dream job right away, and what you thought was your dream job may not end up being all you thought it was going to be. Stay positive in your season of unemployment. And take care of yourself. Enjoy it, and use the best of the time! There may come a day when you will miss the freedom you had.

 

 

9) Pray About It

Be intentional about everything you do in this season, including praying about your situation. A hard prayer I prayed when unemployed was closing doors if it wasn’t the right place for me to be. Closed doors happened, but when the right door was opened, it was truly the perfect fit. Praying about it and doing the above 8 things, rather than being discouraged when years of unemployment went by, helped me stay faithful and hopeful that all was happening for the best. When I look back at that now, I can see it - even though it was hard for me at the time.

 

 

 


Did you get a job right out of college? What's your story? I'd love to know! 


 

How to Cultivate a Slower and Simpler Life

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps10 Comments
How to Cultivate a Slower and Simpler Life | www.maplealps.com

Start waking up a little earlier

Wake up a little earlier to establish some good morning routines. It will slow down your morning and you will be able to face the day with renewed energy. Starting earlier will give you more time to breathe and brace yourself for the day - and with time for a hot drink as an added bonus! Waking up earlier and facing the day with purpose as opposed to letting it just happen to you will help you take control of the tone you set! Trust me.



Related: Tips for Starting Your Morning Right



Cultivate the love of homemade goodies

Taking time to gift homemade goodies for your family, friends, and neighbours brings back that community feel that I think our society has lost to some extent. Take time to get to know your neighbours and bring them homemade gifts. This can be as simple as a loaf of bread or a jar of homemade granola or jam to let them know you’re thinking of them. Go the extra mile and package it in an attractive manner that will show that you put thought into it. The process of making these goodies in itself is a good way to relax and pour your heart into something for someone else.



Related: An Aspiring Minimalist’s Guide to Gifts



Make time for family and friends

Spend time with your family. With the exception of your spouse, you don’t generally get to choose your family members, so you should cherish them that much more. It doesn’t have to be elaborate - just eating dinner together can make a huge difference in the culture of your family unit. Once in a while, extend your circle and invite some people over to join you and your family. Building relationships around the dinner table is so special.



Related: Gathering with Intention and Simplicity



Consider getting a pet, or two

Having a fur baby to love is a great thing! Having an animal companion to care for and have as company helps you slow down and think about something other than yourself. Dogs are great to walk, and [some] cats are great lap companions. There are also all sorts of pets out there. Pets aren’t for everyone though. If you’re not into pets, or allergic, you can start with a pet rock! I’m mostly kidding.



Take up a slow hobby

Take some time to be creative and pick up a slow hobby. This could be anything from gardening to crocheting. Maybe you want to pick a pen pal or start a card ministry. You could even paint or build model ships - whatever your sweet, simple life loving heart desires!

How to Cultivate a Slower and Simpler Life | www.maplealps.com

Read more

Like with hobbies, stopping to read is a wonderful way to not only slow down, but to learn about the world in the process. Set some time aside to get comfortable with good lighting and a hot drink to accompany your book. By the way, you can find a few of my favorite books here! Try reading all sorts of things and you might even find some new interests!




Related: Fun and Creative Ways to Learn New Things (Without Going Back to School)



Add Houseplants to your Home

House plants are so great. They add life to your living space, help keep your air pure, and reduce stress! Not to mention that they are super pretty and make you feel fancy. Consider finding the perfect house plant for your home!



Related: 6 Reasons to Add Greenery to Your Life



Go For Walks

Taking some time to just go outside and breathe in the fresh air. You don’t have to go for hours at a time - even just 15 to 30 minutes of walking outside will recharge and energize you. For a bonus, bring a friend or family member with you and use that time to talk and bond. Relationship building is always important.



Be Intentional about your Phone Usage

A lot of us are letting our phones rule our lives, instead of using them as tools. Consider making a phone free zone or implementing rules to make your usage more intentional. Start practicing not to rely on your phone as much.



Related: 5 Ways to be Intentional About Your Phone Usage



Learn to Love Tidying

Keeping a neat and tidy space allows you more time to enjoy and slow down rather than trying to keep up with keeping your home clean. Consider adapting more of a minimalist lifestyle and surround yourself with that things that bring you joy.



Related: So You Want to be More Minimalistic



Be Content with What You Have

Surrounding yourself with only the things that bring you joy helps you to be content with those said items. Loving your things helps you care for them! I know it sounds strange, but I challenge you to try it for yourself!



Related: Why I God Rid of a Lot of My “Stuff”

 

How do you practice living a slower and simpler life?