Maple Alps

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Untraditional Simple Syrup

RecipesAmanda Walter | Maple Alps1 Comment

Summer for me means a lot of fresh lemonade and iced tea. I remember the days of powdered mixes in a can that you mixed with water and at the end of the drink there would be little granules at the bottom - and it would get sweeter as you got to the bottom. I know I’m not the only one who was annoyed with that.

Besides canned and powdered mixes being full of chemicals and dyes and sugars that are not the best options during the summer, it is incredibly easy to make your own drinks that contain less ingredients and taste just as great - if not better!

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Untraditional Simple Syrup | www.maplealps.com

A couple of things makes my simple syrup untraditional, the first being that instead of white refined sugar, I use raw organic cane sugar. The reason I use raw organic cane sugar is not necessarily for health reasons (gasp!). First off, I find white sugar a little bland. It’s just sweet and there is no depth of flavor. Maybe it’s just a personal preference, so feel free to use white if that is what you so wish. Organic cane sugar just means that the sugar cane used for the sugar was grown organically and is produced without any synthetic pesticides and herbicides. Which is nice to know. Not only does this decrease the amount of pesticides you are potentially intaking, but it is a step towards lowering the pesticide load on the environment.

In conclusion, there really isn’t a difference nutritionally between the two sugars, and you should be careful to not intake too much of a good thing anyway ;-)

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The other thing that makes my simple syrup untraditional is the ratio of water and sugar that I use. Usually, there is a 1:1 ratio. I, however, use 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. It’s a small difference, but still a difference nonetheless. I’ve been curbing my sweet tooth, I guess. Don’t worry. It is definitely still sweet enough!

This simple syrup is perfect for lemonade and sweet tea and anything else you may want sweetened - without the granules in the bottom of your glass!

The best part? It’s quick and easy to whip up! And even easier to store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks!

Untraditional Simple Syrup | www.maplealps.com

Simple Syrup

what you need:

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup raw cane sugar


what to do:

1) Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to boil

2) Simmer for about 3 minutes, until syrup is clear

3) Allow to cool down before using in the drink of your choice

4) Store in an airtight container (a mason jar works well) in the refrigerator for about 3-4 weeks (if it lasts that long!)

 

What are your go-to summer drinks? Have you ever made a simple syrup before?


 

So You Want to be More Minimalistic

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

Minimalism is something I’ve been working at for a few years now. I feel that I’ve always had some kind of craving to have less and to be surrounded and burdened by less. Even when I was much younger, I enjoyed throwing things out and organizing things, but it got to the point where I would get rid of things, but then accumulate more. It got harder and harder to let go of things. As I’ve mentioned in other posts before, it took going abroad for me to realize that I really don’t need stuff. I was perfectly content and well cared for with only 2 suitcases worth of things, and even then I didn’t use every item. Just over a year ago, I finished reading the life-changing magic of tidying up - and it was truly life-changing (I talked about it here). It got me re-energized to declutter and reclaim a full life - which was ironically not full of things!

It came down to choosing what brought me joy. I’ve had several requests to talk about some minimalist living tips, and so I’m sharing the steps that helped me!

So You Want to be More Minimalistic | www.maplealps.com

 

Envision Your Minimalist Life

Why do you want to live a more minimalistic life? What does your minimalist lifestyle look for you? What do you want to do in your everyday life? Write it down and consider it your “why.” Here are some ideas:

  • I will come home to a tidy home so that I have time to relax after work and pursue creative hobbies.

  • I will enjoy a bubble bath in the middle of the week just because.

  • I won't trip over things on the floor anymore.

  • I won't spend hours each weekend cleaning.

  • I will have a clear mind that is a result of a clear living space.

  • I will not be tied to materialistic things.

Write your list. Remember these things as you go through your next steps:

 

Say Goodbye to Your Unnecessary Things

My ultimate decluttering guide will help you best with this. I will direct you there rather than write it all out again. It’s important to let go of stuff that is just stuff. Keep what really brings you joy. The guide goes through all the areas of your house and just helps you get an idea of what you really should simplify. Find it here.

 

 

Quality over Quantity

Even though we are finished (for now) with school, my husband and I still have this poor student mentality. At the beginning, we would always choose what we perceived to be more affordable, just to find that later it would fall apart, or we just really didn’t like it. Seriously, never buy a bookshelf from Walmart. Haha. In the end, it was cheaper to choose the quality items we enjoyed right off the bat. It eliminated buying multiples as well. Quality will last and is worth the initial higher cost.

 

Choose to keep items that bring you joy!

 

Realize the fragility of Life

I know this sounds extremely morbid, but you will probably die someday. Do you really want to spend your days unhappy and surrounded by things that bring your life no joy? I sure don’t. I also don’t want to leave my junk for my children to clean up. I would rather leave a legacy of time they spent with me rather than the things I had.

 

 

Don’t Try to Do it All At Once

Step-by-step, friends! The decluttering process alone can take up to 6 months. You’ll get there if you keep at your convictions and chip away bit by bit.

 

Be Mindful

Think about the value that each of your curated items brings to you. This goes for everything from the physical things you can touch, to the apps on your phone and the emails you sscribe to. Everything should have a purpose and add to your experience. in some capacity. Of course, there will be things you have to keep that aren't necessarily too exciting, but reduce what you can.

 

Some Other Things to Consider Simplifying:

 
declutter deep clean | www.maplealps.com
 

What are some of the ways you embrace a more minimalistic lifestyle?


 

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!


 
 

True Hospitality Made Practical: 3 Easy Tips

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps13 Comments

Last week we talked about hospitality and some myths that surround it, as well as how we are called to practice it. As promised, here are some practical ways to be hospitable even if your guests are extremely last-minute. 

True Hospitality Made Practical | www.maplealps.com

 

Create A Warm Atmosphere

While fresh flowers and candles do go a long way to creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, nothing is as refreshing as a warm, loving smile and willingness to serve. That being said, light some candles and cut some fresh flowers for your guests to enjoy as well! It’s simple and makes a great impact.

Welcome everyone into your home. Let them feel loved, not only by you, but also by God.

Related: The Myths & the Calling of True Hospitality

 

Be aware of needs

Be aware of those around you. Remember that hospitality is not limited to inside your home. Pay attention as you interact with others, and do not let anyone go unnoticed. Take time out of your day to encourage someone, to pray with someone, and to show kindness.

In your home, make sure your guests have what they need, and feel comfortable enough to ask for it. For overnight guests especially, I suggest making everything as accessible as possible. They should feel that they are at home. Make warm drinks and water easily available and stock the bathroom and guestroom with essentials like towels of every size, toiletries and extra toilet paper.

 

Serve Meals With Love

Meals do not have to be extravagant or use expensive ingredients. Make simple meals with love, and do not feel pressured to make something new or complicated (there's always the danger that something new will flop anyway!). Your guests are not there to judge your cooking. They are there to be blessed by you (whether they know it or not). Don't let them leave just thinking about the spectacular meal you just served them, let them leave rejoicing that you have served their souls.

Build a relationship with those around your table and talk about the things that truly matter. Our motto should be like John's; Less of me, more of Jesus. And remember: entertaining is to impress, but hospitality is to bless!

 


How do you show hospitality? Tell us about it in the comments!


 
 

Simple Maple Almond Granola

RecipesAmanda Walter | Maple Alps15 Comments

I am so glad that the summer is almost here. I always look forward to the fresh fruit of the summer, and the chance to eat outdoors again. There is something about enjoying fresh ingredients in the out of doors that truly creates extra happiness in life. Though it's been chilly, the sun has been shining more, which has made me crave more fresh fruits and veggies as I enjoy it. Naturally, granola came to mind as I was deciding what I wanted to eat for breakfast this weekend. I found some gorgeous raspberries to pair it with and set to making a simple maple almond (not alps) granola.

Simple Maple Almond Granola | www.maplealps.com

I have always loved granola. It has the right amount of crunch and flavours that I love. It also creates an atmosphere that only granola can make. Perhaps it's linked to memories of camping and breakfasts in foreign homes and places that make it so special - or maybe I'm thinking about it too much - but I think you understand that I enjoy granola.

Simple Maple Almond Granola | www.maplealps.com

I like to experiment with different flavours and combinations. I love that granola is so versatile! Around Christmas, I like to make a gingerbread version, and in the summer I like adding coconut. This time, I decided to go simple and add some almonds and maple syrup. What a delicious combination! I love eating it with fresh fruit and some soy yogurt! So much yum!

Simple Maple Almond Granola | www.maplealps.com

Simple Maple Almond Granola
Makes about 7 cups

5 ½  cups old fashioned oats
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp sea salt
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup roughly chopped almonds
½ cup coconut oil
¾ - 1 cup maple syrup (depending on your sweet tooth)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a large baking sheet by putting parchment paper on it
2) Mix dry ingredients well in a large bowl
3) Melt coconut oil in a small saucepan and whisk in maple syrup and vanilla and almond extracts
4) Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix until oats and nuts are well coated
5) Spread granola evenly on the baking sheet (you may have to use two)
6) Bake for 10-15 minutes, being careful not to let it burn
7) Allow to completely cool, then crumble the chunks and store in an airtight container
 


Do you like granola as much as I do? What kinds of foods "feel like Summer" to you?