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An Aspiring Minimalist’s Guide to Gifts

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

There are plenty of gift-giving guides for when you want to give something to a minimalist, but what if a minimalist (or aspiring minimalist, like me) wants to give a gift? I had to really think about this!

Take Christmas, for example. It's around the corner and it seems that most people expect to receive a gift and give one in return. I’ve been caught in situations where I’ve had to give a gift, so I just grabbed something off the department store shelves with little thought as to why I was giving it. On the other hand, I’ve also received those same kinds of gifts. Full disclosure: those don’t often last long in my house at all. So why do we even bother?

When I give a gift now, I like to be intentional about it. I like to ask myself a few questions:

Why did I choose this particular gift?
Will my recipient value this gift?

How can I make this a meaningful experience?

With the gift-giving season right around the corner (and just coming out of one - can someone say weddings?), I thought I might share some of my thoughts and ideas on giving gifts.

An Aspiring Minimalist’s Guide to Gifts | www.maplealps.com

 

Give the gift of an experience or time together

This is probably a great place to start. One of the coolest gifts we got as a wedding gift was a night out to see a Broadway musical. It was seriously cool, and it is a memory we still talk about to this day. Gifting experiences is a great idea and focuses more on your friendship than any material thing I can think of at this moment. Gift dinner reservations or unique local experiences or special events and make memories, not dust collectors.

 

Cash

I know it sounds impersonal and unromantic, but cash is way better to get than a gift card. It’s still tangible and doesn’t risk the use to being resold online or forgotten in a wallet. Plus, cash can still be used pretty much everywhere. There are creative ways to gift it too!

 

Something personalized and practical

If you still want to give something, you might want to consider giving something from the heart. Personalized items can still be practical. Put the “fun” in “functional” and explore options like personalized cutting boards or socks - okay, maybe not socks, but you get the idea. Thinking of needs and adding a personalized twist is, in my humble opinion, thoughtful!

 
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Give a charitable donation

There are many opportunities to give a charitable donation in your recipient's name. All it takes is one Google search.

 

Give a consumable

Ummm, who doesn’t love food? I haven’t met that person yet. I love this, because you can get really creative with it! Visit a foreign country? Bring a packaged specialty! Have you heard of gourmet olive oil? Because it's amazing. Love chocolate chip cookies? Put together a kit so they can make their own (you can even pair this with an experience and do it together)! The possibilities are endless and are so fun!

 

If there is a registry, stick to the registry

If you are going to a shower or a wedding, chances are the hosts have created a gift registry. Stick to it. They know what they need, and if you want to stay true to helping others own only what they need, value, and what brings them joy, I highly suggest going that route.

 

So what about receiving gifts?

Receiving gifts is a little tougher for me - especially now that we have downsized greatly and don’t wish to acquire more [useless] stuff. But I also don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings!

Explaining your “new way of life” to family and friends who normally shower you with gifts can be difficult, but not impossible. I see gift-giving as a way of sharing love, but gift-giving is not restricted to material things.

Your loved ones are called your loved ones because they love you. Trust that and make your expectations and intentions clear. They will be happy to support you. Isn’t that just what gift-giving is about anyway? Showing our love? They’ll be glad to do that however you decide!

Instead of saying, “I will not be collecting gifts this year,” and leaving it at that, why not give specific ideas to your loved ones about what they can give you. If you would like a charitable gift, set up a charity fund they can donate directly to, or pick a soup kitchen and request they accompany you too. If you want consumables, hand over your grocery list (I mean, why not?). If you think it will help, why not send them the link to this blog post? Whatever you choose, I’m sure they’ll think it’s a fabulous idea and they might start picking it up too!

 

 

What kinds of gifts do you like giving and receiving? Let me know in the comments!


 
 

Turning Twenty-Something

BlogAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

My birth date and I have sort of a love-hate relationship. I both dread and anticipate it every year. On the one hand, I become a year older (and perhaps a year wiser as well?), but on the other hand, I usually get showered with love and feel appreciated. What human doesn't appreciate some extra love??

In an attempt to do something a little different (if you were around last year, you saw my reverse bucket list), I decided to share what I did on my birthday. Unfortunately, my birthday fell on a Thursday: not only did I have work that day, but I had a job interview scheduled awkwardly in the middle of the evening. 

During work, my eyes started burning and my head began to pound. I started to feel feverish and just plain awful, so I set off to go home much earlier than planned. I figured that I would take some fever reducers and tough it out. If there was one day I needed to be on top of my game, it was that day.

Twenty-Something | www.maplealps.com

As I drove into the driveway, I saw some gold coming through the windows and got excited. My husband knows me well, and sure enough, as I walked in, not only had he strung gold balloons up, he had our family on Skype and FaceTime singing.

It's kind of strange I didn't suspect the latter, since I was on the phone with my mom and heard Skype in the background. I didn't really think anything of it though - just assumed it was the television or radio on her end. I did ask her what that "Skype noise" was, and she just said, "I don't know." She is a horrible liar. Always has been. Which I guess is a good thing?

By the time that whole ordeal was over, I was feeling pretty gross, so I took some meds, opened my gifts, posed with the banana chocolate chip muffin (my favourite!) and took a nap.

I'm totally spoiled and my husband knows me too well. These weren't even all the things I got! Thoughtful friends and family sent cards and flowers and gifts as too. 

After a surprise pottery painting ordeal, we went to one of my favourite restaurants to eat dinner and to a market to walk around before heading off to the interview. In hindsight, I should have brought the camera, but I was so out of it and so nervous, that it was the last thing on my mind. Those of you who follow me on Instagram followed along that day though! 

It wasn't even all over after that! It was pretty late by the time I got out of the interview, but my husband still had something up his sleeve. I seriously thought he was planning some kind of hike (don't ask), but when he pulled up to a roller rink, I had to laugh. While fighting a fever and the urge to sleep (I will enjoy my birthday, I told my body), we roller skated in circles until we collapsed. 

I did pay for it; I spent the weekend in my bed with a high fever. Totally worth it. 

I hope this next year treats me even better than the last. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I did get the job! You'll hear all about that soon. 

 

Ever had to press through to make the most of your night?


 
 

Family Movie Night & The Best Topping for Popcorn

Relationships, Recipes, LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps21 Comments

With summer upon us and school out, I feel I can finally breathe a sigh of relief. But not really. It's only about to get busier as the next couple of months are some of our most full ones!

A few days ago, my husband and I were reminiscing about childhood family-fun traditions we had growing up.  For me, it was getting take out some Saturday nights and getting to choose DVDs from Blockbuster (they still had those then!). It was always so fun and we looked forward to those nights as a family. Game night wasn’t as fun to everyone since there would usually be the more competitive of us left up at 2 am still trying to win Monopoly. Those games could last days, I tell you!

Family Fun & The Best Topping for Popcorn | www.maplealps.com

As we move on from participating in family fun nights to having to be intentional about planning our own, these fond memories still play in our minds. Even when life gets hectic, we know how important it is to set aside time to bond and relax. For us, a family fun night isn’t complete without some kind of fun food and an activity we can do together - whether it be a rad board game or a great movie.

When it comes to a fun movie night, we like to get creative to switch things up. Once we find the perfect movie (that usually takes a while), we start getting cozy. Sometimes we set up a blanket fort, and sometimes we use a projector to get a theatre-type feel. Blankets and snacks are a must, whatever we do.

We are pretty picky about the movies we decide to watch and always go for true stories that are inspirational. If you like a good family-friendly movie too, be sure to check out Pure Flix for some wholesome, Christian and educational movies. You can try Pure Flix free for a month, which is a good thing since it might take you longer to decide on a movie than to watch one!  You can pair your subscription with Plugged In Movie Reviews from Focus on the Family to get some in-depth and free reviews.

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And then, of course, we need snacks. We take snacks very seriously.

We LOOOOOOOVE popcorn. We recently got a new stovetop popcorn popper and it has been put to good use! I personally like sprinkling (okay, dumping!) nutritional yeast flakes on mine. If we have time, we even cut up some potatoes and throw them in the oven for homemade "fries!" Depending on the night, we might even whip up a homemade pizza or pop some frozen stuff in the oven. It’s a seriously good time. Here's what we do with our popcorn:

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Easy Popcorn Topping

what you need:

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels

  • up to 1/2 TBSP olive oil (or vegan butter)

  • a bit of salt to taste

  • nutritional yeast flakes (in my opinion, you can never have to much, so it's up to how much you want!)

what to do:

1) Pop your popcorn by whatever means you do so (we have a stovetop popper right now, but I do love air poppers!)

2) Add (sparingly) your olive oil or vegan butter and sprinkle a bit of salt

3) Go to town with adding your nutritional yeast flakes :) 

Now that it’s summer, we hope to spend more time outside on the porch or around the fire pit making s’mores and roasting hot dogs. It's so much fun just hanging out outside and enjoying the heat of the fire.

Family Fun & The Best Topping for Popcorn | www.maplealps.com

Hope you've been inspired to set some time aside to enjoy an evening with your loved ones. I’ve decided to share some favourites with you so you can get started right away with your family-fun movie night - and don’t forget the popcorn! I'd love to hear about your family fun nights too!

Family Fun & The Best Topping for Popcorn | www.maplealps.com
 
 

What do you do for family fun? I'd love to hear about it!


 
 

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple Alps11 Comments

With Valentine’s Day over and boxed heart candy at 75% off, I have caught myself giving a little sigh. You see, I just love Valentine’s Day (VD). It’s something about the pink and hearts everywhere that makes it impossible for me to be mad at anyone, reminds me of how much I am loved (and love!) and allows me to embrace my inner “girl.” Though I’ve never done anything extra special on February 14, I have always thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere it provides.

When my husband and I first started dating, he made some remark about every day being Valentine’s Day with him. While he was saying it somewhat lightly, there was definitely truth to his statement. Why should a day (regardless of the history and background of it) predominantly celebrating love, be the only day we think about sharing with those we care about how much we love them? It just doesn’t seem right.

If you, like me, are feeling a little sad that the holiday has passed us by already, you can hold your chin up a little higher. Some of my blogging friends have helped me out with a fun project to share with all of you some great ideas to keep the VD feelings all year long!
 

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day + Free Printable | www.maplealps.com

We can make every day "Valentine's Day" by performing little acts of kindness for the people around us that we love: our spouses, friends, neighbours, and families. We can serve them, meet their needs, and show them just how much we love them!
- Abbey of Small Town Soul

We can make every day Valentine's Day by remembering why we love in the first place and being intentional! I love Jim Elliot's quote - "Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." So in daily life, whether I'm spending time with someone or doing something, I strive to focus on them (instead of checking my phone, wondering what to say in response, going for efficiency over caring) and love them to the best of my ability, depending on God's grace to help me best love and serve them/perform the task at hand!
- Jessica of Duly Noted Ink

Have a quiet moment together like seeing the sunrise or sunset, viewing the ocean, sitting on a hill and embracing earth's natural beauty together or even sitting in front of a fireplace with some hot chocolate. Just being around each other is something wonderful.
- Martika of Coffee Time With Him

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

When our girls were 4 and 6 we started a new tradition for Valentine's Day. I set out 4 boxes, one for each family member. I had paper, pens, pink and white doilies, and lots of stickers available. Each person got to write out qualities they liked in each family member, things they appreciated, and favourite memories. It was to be a secret. On Valentine's we took turns reading them out loud. Because of their ages, they needed lots of coaching, memory jogging, and help writing/typing. They are 27 and 25 and we still do this, though sometimes it's through cards or texts throughout the day. It's really a skill I wanted to encourage--to find things we love about each other and what makes the other person feel loved.
- Terri from Terri Fullerton

I make every day Valentines Day by learning my hubby's love language and making sure I'm using it!
-Susannah from Simple Moments Stick

I'm such a weirdo but, I don't care much about Valentine's Day. It's sorta man-made and regimented. For years, I've told my husband to love me throughout the year and he can just go "light" on Valentine's Day. My love language is gifts so he sends flowers often, buys me things, surprises me with gifts all year. So I kinda feel like every day is Valentine's Day. Should he ever slack, then I might put more emphasis on that one day in February. 
- Teri of Godsy Girl

It's not something I do all the time, but every now and then I will make dinner for my kids (before an early bedtime) and then make dinner for my husband and myself after the kids go to bed. I'm also known for making treats and snacks for after the kids go to bed. Truffles anyone?
- Erin from Momma's Living Room

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

By writing little "love notes" filled with words of appreciation for our loved ones on a regular basis. You never know how much a kind note might mean to someone.
- Rachel from The Random Writings

We need to know how we are loved. I like to leave notes for my family that tell them I love you because . . . . your are brave, kind, considerate etc and then tell them how I saw that in them.
- Kim from Day to Day Adventures

My boyfriend texts me every morning "Good Morning Beautiful!" which puts a smile on my face and starts my day off right. 
- Pamela from Bible Geek Lifestyle

We can make every day Valentine's Day by constantly pushing ourselves to serve our spouse. Valentine's Day is great because we all seem to want to make our significant other happier. What if they had a hard day at work and it wasn't Valentine's Day? The probably need our love and support more at that time.
- Courtney from Happy Little Shopping Secret

I would say to make everyday Valentine's day we could ask ourselves, "How can I make today a little bit brighter or easier for my spouse?" It could be by doing something simple or leaving them a little note or just taking an extra minute to tell them how much you love and appreciate them.
- Kaitlyn from Lily and Mama

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

We can make every day Valentine's day by having quick morning cuddles before starting the day! I love resting on my husband's chest and kissing him on the cheek with his arm around me! It's sweet and simple. Just a little way to say "I just woke up, and you're on my mind!"
- Elizabeth  from Wanderlust + Heart

From a relationship standpoint, I think making a conscious effort to do something nice for or compliment someone you care about can make each day Valentine's Day for you and that other person. From a personal standpoint, taking a few minutes each day to reflect on your life and give yourself a nice little pamper session, pep talk, or general treat can make each day Valentine's Day for you.
- Jessi from Roses in Ink

It might seem over simple ... But ... To make every day like Valentines, touch your spouse. A loving caress - a neck rub, a hand placed gently on a forearm, "footsie" under the table, a kiss on the cheek, etc. As husband and wife, we can be together all day and never touch. It happens all too easily - especially if we have children to nurture.
- Lori from Encourage Your Spouse

Meet your spouse's love language
- Audrey of Life with Little People

 

How would you make every day Valentine's Day? Let me know in the comments below!


 
 

Women of Intention Week Ten: Simple Living

Women of IntentionAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

Welcome to week ten of the series, Women of Intention! We are just over halfway through and Maple Alps will continue to feature a woman every week who will talk about intentionality in specific areas in her life. So glad you've decided to stop by! For more information, and a list of topics, visit our introduction post HERE

How does living simply tie into intentional living? #WomenOfIntention16 #MapleAlps

THIS WEEK'S INTENTIONAL WOMAN:

Today, we are going to meet Stefanie of Simple Acres, an inspiring blog full of natural health, farming,home decor, art and humour!

Today, Stefanie will be talking to us about simple living and how it has benefitted her and her family.

After reading this post, be sure to check out Stefanie's blog and share this post :)

Find Stefanie on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.


Tell us a bit about yourself: What are you passions, work and interests?

My name is Stefanie. I am a very passionate person. I'm a mom of three, wife to my high school sweetheart, Registered Dietitian and entrepreneur . I'm passionate about my family first. Secondly, I find value in helping people find quality of life and success through self care and simple living.

 

What would you say simple living is and how does it tie into your intentional living?

Simple living is deeper to me than how to up cycle an old spoon or make an affordable yummy meal...simple living is leaning into that inner voice that guides your life to truth, joy and purpose. At Simple Acres I DO offer simple ways to be creative and nourish yourself and family but I also write about being present, intentional and grateful in life.

How can one adapt a simple lifestyle - what does it practically look like, and how can it be of benefit?

First off I believe to simplify lifestyle requires perspective. Perspective of what truly matters in the grand scheme of life. To me relationship is the most important thing we have as well as the memories we create with the people we love. With that perspective it makes reducing the excess is life easier, whether it is too many things that stress us out or steal our time or over commitment that robs our joy in the present.

 

On your blog, you talk about country living being in your blood. How has nature played a role in this lifestyle of yours? Do you think things would be different if you lived or grew up or lived in the city?

I was born in Wyoming. I have endless memories of fishing with my parents and being in the mountains hiking and viewing animals. Those type of memories stick with me. They created a sense of oneness with nature and ultimately a connection with the Creator Himself. No matter where I am I definitely crave open space and nature because that is where I feel the best in life. I grew up later in life in the city so id say for me it's the first foundation of life that created who I feel I am related to nature. This is what inspires me to raise my kids on a farm setting.

What would you say to encourage someone who wishes to live simply but is having a hard time?

First I'd like to say, I feel your struggle as I do to. Simple living and the mindset of focusing on less to ultimately have more (peace, joy and presence)is a learning journey I am on as well. I would say take it one day at a time, reflect on gratitude and SAVOUR the moment you are in! Every aspect of life offers joy from a delicious meal with a friend to the kiss of your sweet child. The details in life like organizing, spending, decorating, cooking...whatever you feel the need to simplify start in one area of your life at a time... It's a journey worth being patient with yourself with. 


What about you? What helps you be intentional in your life? What do you think about simple living? Why don't you tell us about it in the comments, and connect with us on social media?

(Don't forget to use the hashtag #WomenOfIntention16 so no one misses it!)