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6 Reasons to Add Greenery to your Surroundings

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps6 Comments

I don’t know about you, but I have a black thumb. It seems, however, that with practice, my plant killing tendencies are slowly reversing and turning into plant nurturing ones. Granted, I have not been successful in keeping many plants alive - I am just so forgetful and one of those over thinkers when it comes to keeping them alive! I used to fear for any added pets or children, but it turns out that cats are easier to keep alive than a sweet little succulent plant. Go figure.

My mother and grandmother always had plants, and they were gorgeous, so it’s amazing to me that that knack of keeping small trees and flowers alive did not transfer over to me. Too bad. Guys, I even struggle with keeping fresh basil alive!

I used to cringe when people gave me potted plants as gifts, because I knew that if they ever came back, that plant would not be a thriving thing of beauty. No, it would be shrivelled and black - or worse, the pot would be left and the plant dumped out.

Anyway, now that I have experienced some success in keeping some small plants alive, my eyes have been open to how wonderful having some greenery around can be! I mean, I always knew it was a good thing but I guess I never truly embraced it.

If you’re like me and hesitant to bring home (or accept as gifts!) some greenery, this post is for you!

6 Reasons to Add Greenery to your Surroundings | www.maplealps.com

Improves air quality. By reducing carbon dioxide and increasing humidity. Even NASA had a study on this years ago. Check out this excerpt:

“Both plant leaves and roots are utilized in removing trace levels of toxic vapors from inside tightly sealed buildings. Low levels of chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde can be removed from indoor environments by plant leaves alone.” When talking about the relationship between plants and space travelers, NASA notes that plants, "provide nourishment for the body when eaten as food, and they improve the quality of indoor air. Plants take the carbon dioxide from air to produce oxygen that humans can breathe."

Pretty cool!

Creates a mood. Especially when your plant pots are super cute and match your decor. Am I right or am I right?

Fosters creativity. I don’t know about you, but when I’m in a space with natural settings, I feel much more creative. In the Summer I love working on my deck for this very reason. I do some of my best writing outside, and when I can bring the outside in, it fosters my creativity.

Reduces stress. Or is this just me?

Adds life to your surroundings. Plants are living things. Add some literal life to your surroundings by putting some plants out.

Creates appreciation for nature in general. I promise once you start taking care of these, you’ll start appreciating others’ gardens and houseplants more! You may even start recognizing and putting a name to the leaf!

6 Reasons to Add Greenery to your Surroundings | www.maplealps.com

So you’re sold. Now you want to get out and buy all the green things. There are still some things to consider, however. Here are some tips to choose the best houseplants for you:

Consider your plant abilities. Are you like me with a black thumb? Find some easy-to-care-for plants that will take talent to kill. Succulents are a good start. Do some research as to My personal favourite are snake plants, as I can successfully keep them alive, PLUS they are gorgeous.

Consider the size of your home. How much space do you have in your home? Can you handle having a larger plant, or are smaller ones better? Plants need space to get breathing air too! Do you have a lot of windows to let in sunlight, or do you need to get a plant that prefers shade?

Consider the humidity and temperature. Some plants require more humidity than others. If you want a tropical plant, this is definitely something you will want to consider as they need more humidity. Keeping plants that require more humidity away from your heat and air conditioning units is definitely something you’ll want to think about as they dry the air and change the temperature, obviously.

Consider your family and pets. Does your family have any allergies to any of the plants you plan on bringing home? Are the plants toxic to your fur babies? Do your research before bringing home your new plant friend.

Do your research, whatever you decide. Know how to water, fertilize, and care for the plants you bring into your home. Like people, each plant has unique needs for the best care. Most importantly, have fun learning and don’t give up!

 

Do you have houseplants? What kind? Any tips for someone with a black thumb?


 

Gathering with Intention and Simplicity

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps9 Comments

Growing up, our family had an open door policy. This means that anybody could come and be with us in our home whenever they wanted - and they would be treated like family. Nothing was off limits. Thanksgiving, Christmas, any and every long weekend holiday - anyone could come. This hasn’t changed. Now that I’ve moved away, I still hear about who came to what dinner or spent the night and it always is fun and surprising to hear about.

A year ago or so, we really tried to be intentional about having more people over to our home, but life gets so busy. This is true for anyone. There’s an increasing trend of being so busy with what we do in life, that we tend to neglect those we do life with. It seems that the art of hospitality is getting lost.

 

Related: The Myths and the Calling of True Hospitality

 

Relationships are so important. A few weeks ago on Instagram, I asked you to share some topics you would like to see on the blog. A few people mentioned the theme of hospitality and hosting others. Today I wanted to share with you how to host with intention and simplicity. These are some easy steps we took that worked for us when we decided to be intentional about sharing our home and showing hospitality to others.  I think it’s a very important thing to gather together to encourage one another, so I hope these tips help you as much as they helped us!

Gathering with Intention and Simplicity | Hosting Made Easy | www.maplealps.com

 

 

Write down some names

Write down the names of some people you would like to reach out to. Those you would like to get to know more, those who are going through a hard time and need ministering to, those who come to mind when you sit down to write down names. Pray about and over your list. I want to encourage you not to just think of your friends or those who can invite you back over. This should not be the purpose of your visits.

 

Find a reoccurring day in your schedule that always works for having some company over and start making phone calls.

For us, weekends are almost impossible to have people over, so we chose one day (sometimes two) during the week to have people over. Maybe the weekends work best for your schedule - that’s great. Block that time off and start calling the people on your list. Fill in the slots, week by week (or month by month depending on how often the schedule you set allotted for). We aim for twice a month. 

 

Don’t focus on a fancy meal

Make sure you have asked about food allergies or sensitivities before planning your meal. People will feel most at ease with an easy, light, healthy meal. There is no need to be formal when you are wanting to focus on relationships. The point of this practice is to touch hearts with warmness, not impress them with your cooking skills (though I’m sure yours are great too).

 

Make your home inviting

While every surface does not have to sparkle, your home should be tidy and neat. No one truly likes a dirty place. Light a candle or pick up some fresh blooms from the grocery store (or from your garden). Make sure any table linens you use are clean. You can even use cloth napkins (We do, but that’s because we don’t have any paper ones)! Serve your simple meal in pretty dishes rather than straight from the pot. Little touches like these will make your home even more inviting. Fun tip: if it's warm enough and if you have outdoor furniture and sufficient shade, sitting outside is a great idea!

 

Related: True Hospitality Made Practical: Three Easy Tips

Gathering with Intention and Simplicity | Hosting Made Easy | www.maplealps.com

 

Worry about souls, not table spreads

Make sure your conversation also has a purpose. Be encouraging, not critical. Be kind about everyone you speak of. Listen carefully and be interested in what your guests say. Help them feel at ease during their stay and offer a prayer for them before they leave.

 

Remember that they are there to visit with you, not your house

There is no need to be stuck in the kitchen all day. There is no reason to slave over polishing every corner of your house (or every piece of silverware) for their arrival. Your guests love you and they love your authenticity. They will appreciate the simpleness and ease in which you present your hospitality.

 
Relationships are so important! Gather with intention!
 

Do you gather with intention? Tell me about it below!


 

 

 

Essentials for Your Plant-Based Kitchen

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps10 Comments

Everyone has their kitchen staples, and I'm often asked about mine. Today, I am going to share with you 11 things that I could not live without in my kitchen - the things that get used pretty much every single day. On a slight side note: it's really important to make sure you have quality basics in the kitchen. Don't be like me and cheap out on a $30 blender when you absolutely need it every day for smoothies and sauces! It will start flashing lights and smoking, and blenders are not supposed to do that. True story.

This post contains affiliate links

Essentials for your Plant Based Kitchen | www.maplealps.com
 

Glass Containers

I love these glass containers. I pack up my lunch (leftovers, anyone?) in these babies and the next day, I'm ready to go! I like them especially because they are made of glass, and I don't have to worry about the grade of plastic and the possible effect on my food. 

 

Ceramic Electric Kettle

I love my ceramic electric kettle (Get one from Amazon) and use it every single day! The ceramic is just a really nice touch and it saves a bit when it comes to utilities - I had been using a stovetop kettle for a few years, but since I got this guy, I've never looked back!

 

Fun Utensil Holder and Bamboo Utensils

I like to keep my bamboo close since I use it constantly. It helps to have a nice utensil holder home right on hand. I'm very picky about what goes into it - only my bamboo!

 

Related: Organizational Products That Will Keep Your Home in Order

High-Speed Blender and Reusable Straws

Daily smoothies would not be possible without our awesome blender. It gets daily use - and multiple times sometimes! Sauces, soups and smoothies wouldn't be possible without it. We also got these stainless steel straws and we love them - even though they get pretty cold with our smoothies. We've gotten used to it. They come with a brush for easy cleaning!

 

Mixing Bowls and Colander

These mixing bowls are my favourite. They're cute AND useful. I caved and got these stainless steel ones because my ceramic bowls were getting a little heavy for some of the recipes I was whipping up. They have this awesome grip at the bottom which keeps it from sliding around. This colander is a life saver too - vegetables don't get cleaned otherwise (and pasta doesn't get drained). 

 

Bread Box

I love this bread box! Ours is used every day too - and there's homemade bread in there 90% of the time. Bread for breakfast is a true staple over here, so having it easily accessible is a bonus. Besides, it's pretty!


Garlic Rocker

This garlic rocker has literally changed my life. No more annoying and messy garlic press. This one is easy to clean and is sturdy! I've been using it for four years now and I keep telling everyone that it is easily the best money I've ever spent (I got mine from Amazon). 

 

Whisk Set

These whisks are a must-have for all of the sauces and dressings I mix up.  

 
Declutter Guide Download maple Alps
 

What are some of your kitchen essentials?


 
 

Tips for Starting Your Morning Right + A Slow Morning Playlist

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

Confession: I was not always a morning person. In fact, everyone knew me as a night owl. In high school, I don't even remember many nights I went to bed before midnight! It eventually changed when I realized the life-changing habit that is enjoying the morning by going to bed early and waking up early. It turns out that old saying my parents always so annoyingly quoted was right: "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." I always added a "da" so it sounded like my name...

Now that I have a long commute, waking up early is a habit that I am glad that I have cultivated. Sure, I sleep in when I can on a Sunday, but even on a Sunday I like to get up early and start the day as soon as possible. 

Today, I am going to share with you some tips on how to start your morning right- even if you aren't a morning person. Mornings don't have to be dreadful!

Tips for Starting Your Morning Right | www.maplealps.com

Wake Up Earlier than usual

There is nothing like the calm of the morning before the rest of the world wakes up. It's a special peace that isn't found at any other time, and unless you've experienced it, it's hard to understand. But trust me. Nothing will make your day better than a slow morning. Waking up late and rushing creates stress, but setting your alarm earlier will change your day completely. 

Tips for Starting Your Morning Right + a Playlist | www.maplealps.com

Put Your Phone on Hold - Call Jesus Instead

Before reading anyone else's words, read words from Jesus. This is advice I've decided to follow and it has changed my life. When the first words influence the rest of your day, wouldn't you rather hear from your Creator? So instead of checking my texts or Instagram notifications as soon as I wake up, I intentionally choose to pray and read my Bible. I leave my phone in a different room so I don't get tempted or distracted.

 

Take a Refreshing Shower

Taking a shower really gets your day going. Wash off the gunk and tiredness from the night before and feel (and smell) like a new (and clean!) person when you emerge.

 

Drink a Glass of Water

Our bodies need water and studies show that drinking water first thing in the morning is actually good for us! It helps me feel more awake as well, so I'm glad to do it. 

 

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. I usually have something quick on hand - whether it's simple like homemade granola or bread, or something a little more involved like homemade biscuit or pancake mix (the latter 2 are reserved for Sunday, usually). The freezer is always stocked with frozen fruit and greens for smoothies. It does take a bit of planning to prep it, but once you get into a flow, it's easy, and you'll always have a good breakfast at hand. The extra minutes from waking up early will serve you very well once you experience the joy of sitting down for breakfast instead of gulping something down, taking it to eat in the car (I'm way too clumsy for this!), or skipping breakfast altogether. Your body will thank you too.

Tips for Starting Your Morning Right | www.maplealps.com

Keep Things Tidy

If I leave my surroundings untidy when I leave, I think about it all day. There is nothing worse for me than coming home at the end of the day to a mess. Use the extra seconds in your morning to pick up last night's pyjamas off the floor (or avoid putting them there in the first place!). Air out and make your bed. Clean up your breakfast dishes. You'll be grateful you did so later.

 

Choose Your Soundtrack

My mornings at home end when I get into the car for my long commute to work. I'll listen to audiobooks or podcasts, or even an uplifting radio station, but if I'm home, I like to make some tea, read a bit and listen to some calming tunes. Sometimes I choose energizing ones - like when I worked selling knives one summer during college, I had my pep music going first thing to get me into the hype of sales. I think it worked. Anyway, music is a big thing for me. It depends on the morning and my upcoming tasks whether I choose my slow morning playlist (find it below!) or my go-getter playlist.

 
Start your morning right - even if you aren’t a morning person!
 
 

Are you a morning person? What kinds of morning routines do you have? Do you have a preferred playlist?


 
 

Productive Things to do Instead of Netflix

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps6 Comments

In the last few years, we have truly been convicted about entertainment (especially in the form of movies and television). Not only has it proven to be quite time-consuming, but the things that are coming out have not reflected the kind of life we have been called to and strive to live. A lot of entertainment these days promotes a way of life that goes against the Bible. Lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and so much more sin is glorified in most of it, and the more I decide to live the way Christ calls me to live, the more seeing these things saddens and disgusts me.

If we only have a limited amount of time here on earth, shouldn’t we think more about what we spend time on? The psalmist asks the Lord in Psalm 90:12 to, "teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." The average American spends over 5 hours a day watching television. It goes without saying that the start of online streaming didn’t decrease this time any. Now anyone can stream anything on any device from anywhere! How insane!

I do not want to reach the end of my life and realize I wasted hours of my life on mindless entertainment that does nothing for the good of those around me.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not bashing everything that is recorded or on television. There are certainly things produced that are informative and wholesome. I personally enjoy inspiring true stories. I do not, however, endorse the overuse and the indulgent hours spent in front of a screen - good content or not.

There are so many things to do besides stream hour upon hour of Netflix - something I have absolutely been guilty of. I came up with a list of alternatives, but I am sure you could easily add hundreds of items to it depending on your interests.

In the end, there is one thing I look to when choosing my activities or even the shows I watch. My filter is found in the Bible in Philippians 4:8:

 

" Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

 
  • Read a book

  • Take an online course

  • Or a course in person

  • Go outside

  • Take a walk

  • Join a gym

  • Learn a hobby

  • Cook something new

  • Pray

  • Call a friend

  • Write a card or a letter

  • Get Creative

  • Play music

  • Hospitality (invite someone over)

  • Community Service

  • Write or journal

  • Invent a recipe

  • Try a new recipe

  • Make some art

  • Pick flowers

  • Learn how to keep a garden

  • Volunteer

  • Clean your house

  • Ride your bike

  • Study the Bible

  • Drive somewhere new in town

  • Enjoy the outdoors

  • Read Maple Alps ;)

  • Travel somewhere new

  • Spend extra time with family

  • Revisit your budget

  • Learn something new

 

What kinds of things do you do instead of watching television or streaming Netflix?