Maple Alps

Intentionality Spotlight: Naida of Meaningful Word

Intentionality SpotlightAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

Readers. I am so excited today to introduce you to Naida, of Meaningful Word! I met her a few years ago at an expo and fell in love with her designs. We even have some of her work on a couple of tees we own! She has a true gift of making words come to life! I won’t say much more other than her story moved me, and I can’t wait to share it will all of you today!

Intentionality Spotlight: Naida of Meaningful Word | www.maplealps.com

First some easy stuff, tell us a bit about yourself. What is your
work, your passions and interest?


Hello, I’m Naida. I’m a Melbourne based Graphic Designer and Illustrator with a passion to create colourful pieces and experiences. When I’m not drawing or thinking about design concepts, you’ll find me taking photos, finding new brunch locations or exploring nature with like-minded individuals.



I absolutely love your work! How did you get started with art and ultimately Meaningful Word and your shop?

Thank you, I’ve always loved to draw ever since I was young. When I think about my art journey it took me a while to understand that 1 - this ability was a gift from God, and 2 - that it can be use for the church and ultimately for His glory.

The first time I ever thought of God having a part in that area of my life was when I was in high school. It was Friday night during lifegroup when the youth pastor said “Praise God” after I told the group about an award I received. I was brought up in the church, but I didn’t have a relationship with God so I was unsure why she said it. It actually rather annoyed since I did all the work – Silly me.

Fast forward to my final year of University where I focused all my attention on getting a job after I graduate because the design industry can be very competitive. It’s not just about having an amazing folio, but your industry experience and who you know that sets you apart. It’s funny how scripture says ‘Man may plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps’ (Proverbs 16:9) – because this was very much the case for me. I landed an internship with a design studio in the city where I got to work on some exciting projects for clients like Melbourne Fashion Week, Australia’s Next Top Model and for other up-coming fashion designers in Australia – It was a dream!

Intentionality Spotlight: Naida of Meaningful Word | www.maplealps.com


I had a lot of fun and learnt a whole lot, however, the more projects and more time I surrounded myself in that atmosphere, the more I found myself changing and what little connection I had with God was fading. I was in a dream role, but something wasn’t right and I was watching many things fall apart. But little did I know that God was working on me – out of the mess He was able to make something beautiful. I had to see all my plans crumble, to be at a point where I was left alone crying to God for Him to speak comfort into my life and redirect my path. He was asking me to surrender my career to Him.

Thus then Meaningful Word and a new career path were born as a result of my encounter with God. Meaningful Word started as a small challenge for myself to memorise verses – hoping that if I spent enough time and make it look visually appealing enough, I’d store it somewhere in my mind. It was also a means to create something for God rather than what I was doing in the past (helping the rich get richer, and creating things that looked beautiful, but had no substance to it). God was asking me to trust in Him and to use the gift He had given me back to Him to help others. Ever since then I’ve seen first-hand the fruits of surrendering to God. When you give it to Him, He blesses it, multiplies it and lets it be a blessing to others. I had planned my own way, but God’s plan exceeded it all – far more than I could have hoped for, and for the better.


I love how your art really brings Biblical truths and stories to life. Where do you get the inspiration for it? Is it hard, or does it come easily?

Well I guess it comes naturally. The verses, quotes or stories I post are actual reflections and thoughts from my devotionals that week – the things I’ve read, heard or experienced. I like to post scripture because I truly believe that the messages in it are just as relevant now as they were then. I just love how Hebrews 4:12 describes the word as ‘living, powerful, sharper than any two-edge sword’ and is a ‘discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’ – yep, still relevant!

My process starts with the message/text and then I consider what are the key parts of the text that I what to highlight. Vibrant colour palettes, patterns and nature drive my style and approach on each piece I create.

Intentionality Spotlight: Naida of Meaningful Word | www.maplealps.com

What is one other specific area in your life you find that intentionality is absolutely critical? How do you exercise mindfulness in it?

Investing my time wisely. This is in the form of time with God, time I spend with others and on my health and wellbeing.

Devotional time is super important for me because I just know I’m going to have a lousy day if my priorities aren’t right. Time with others is investing in solid relationships and to also empower the next generation. I’m a strong advocate that the Creative Arts has a place and can be used for the church – we need to encourage this more!  We all have a talent that can we used for God, we just have to give it back to Him.

And lastly, rest. In the past I used to think that ‘resting’ is for the lazy, but God has shown me that rest is just as important. Our mind, body and soul need to recover, and the best way I like to rest is on the Sabbath in nature with others – far, far away from a computer screen.


If you would give one piece of advice about {this area of intentionality} so someone who struggles with it, what would you tell them?

Ensure that your relationship and time with God is your first priority, because the rest follows. Start small. It’s not always easy to know where to even begin and yea, you may find you don’t want to pray or read your bible, but the beautiful thing about God is He meets you where you are. Start small, and have a conversation. Open your heart and ‘taste and see’ His goodness - you will not be disappointed. Start small & be consistent – After all, habits are formed in 30 days.



Find Naida at her Etsy shop or on Instagram


 

Blessings to Ponder in the Springtime

FaithAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

One of my favourite things about nature is that the lessons it teaches us about God are literally endless. I’ve heard nature being called God’s second book, and I can truly see why - the more I learn about the things of nature, the more I see God’s creative hand in it, and the more I see how intentional He truly is. What an amazing Creator.

In just the Spring alone, for example, so many beautiful Bible promises come to life every day just walking outside.

Blessings to Ponder in the Springtime | www.maplealps.com



When I smell the rain, I think of the blessings God wants to pour down.


Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;

   his going out is sure as the dawn;

he will come to us as the showers,

   as the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:3, ESV)



For I will pour water on the thirsty land,

   and streams on the dry ground;

I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,

   and my blessing on your descendants. (Isaiah 44:3, ESV)



When I smell flowers, I think of how God takes care of me.



And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin (Matthew 6:28, ESV)



When I hear the birds singing, I want to sing praises to the Creator.


Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! (Luke 12:28, ESV)


“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32, ESV)


When I see the trees growing back their leaves, I think of the blessings I am continually receiving.

And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. (Genesis 9:3b, ESV)

…Let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy (Psalm 96:12)

When I hear the water rushing again after being frozen, I think of God’s provision for us.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;

   they flow between the hills;

they give drink to every beast of the field;

   the wild donkeys quench their thirst. (Psalm 104 10, 11, ESV)



they shall not hunger or thirst,

   neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them,

for he who has pity on them will lead them,

   and by springs of water will guide them. (Isaiah 49:10, ESV)



And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17b, ESV)


When I see blue skies above or the twinkling skies in the clear nights, I can’t help but praise the Lord!


The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1, ESV)



When I see and smell the new buds springing, I think of the newness that God wants to bring to my life too!

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19, ESV)

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What blessings do you ponder in the Springtime?


 

How to Cultivate a Slower and Simpler Life

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps9 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?


 

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?


 

How We Cut Down Our Grocery Bill Without Cutting Down on Food

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps11 Comments

The grocery budget. The bane of my existence. I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with the whole grocery budget thing, so I decided to share today about how we cut down our budget without changing our diet.


A few years ago, our grocery bill was pretty much through the roof. For only two people, we were sure spending quite a bit on groceries. Naturally, the bill would be even higher in months like December (Christmas parties galore!) and July (Camping trips, anyone?). We knew we had to make a change and fast.


After we paid off the first third of our student loans back, we decided it was time to really be tight with our grocery budget and we have thus far been successful. In fact, our way of looking at our budget has simplified altogether as a result of this and managing and saving money has never been easier. I decided to focus on the grocery part of things today. Stay tuned for a budgeting post!

How We Cut Down Our Grocery Bill Without Cutting Down on Food | www.maplealps.com




What Is Included in my Grocery Budget?

For us, “grocery” includes anything that we eat and any other expendables such as toiletries (shampoo, soap, etc.). Basically anything you can get at your local grocery store that is a necessary consumable for survival. So if you have kiddos and choose to buy diapers, that would fall under that category, and for a cat, food and litter would also fall under this category.




How Much is in my Grocery Budget?

For our budget, our rule of thumb is $100/month per person who lives in our house. You will probably want to consider pets as well as they have food and waste needs as well. We count our fur baby as half a person at $50/month and we never actually end up spending that much on her. This keeps things SUPER simple, because you’re only thinking about one number to stay under per week!




Being Strict About Shopping

In order to keep this realistic, it is EXTREMELY important that you only go to the grocery store once a week, or once every two weeks. Have you ever noticed that every time you go to the store you end up dropping anywhere between $30 and $50 a time? Yes. That is why you need to be strict with yourself and only go once a week.


I get it, you might run out of milk or something. So write it down, and go to the store and ONLY BUY MILK! Keep those blinders on!


Writing lists also helps you use coupons effectively if you do that to save money.




Related: How Not to go Broke From Buying Groceries




Make A Meal Plan and Shopping List

This is key if you want to stick to the once a week shopping trip. That one time a week trip needs to be guided by a strict shopping list. I get it, you forget to write things down sometimes, but try to visualize everything you will need for the week as you plan and write the grocery list down. Then, when you go to the store, stick to it! We also keep a running shopping list on our fridge. So when we run out of things like ketchup or salad dressing, we can add it to the list quickly and easily.



Meal Planning Guide | www.maplealps.com




Related: Confessions of a Meal Planner




Shopping Our Kitchen

Every few months, we make it a point to shop our kitchen for our meal plans. This essentially means that we try to use up everything in our pantry and freezer before buying more. I know that a lot of people like to keep a fully stocked pantry, however, sometimes this leaves you prone to buying too many duplicates or forgetting what you have. We make sure that our pantry is laid out in a way that we can see everything we have when we open the door. We use clear glass containers so we can see the amounts of everything we have as well. We use up our things before adding them to the list.


By doing this, we have also been able to take better note of what items we use more than others and know what we need to write down on the list. Some items are only bought once for an experiment or special event and never needed again.




Related: Confessions of a Meal Planner Part 2




Eat A Lot of Fresh Produce

Getting in your share of veggies actually helps you keep your budget down! Targeting fruits and vegetables that are in season is really great for your budget, and your body as well! Processed food - especially the plant based kind - can be pricey!



Related: 10 Apps and Extensions We Use to Save Money



Making/Growing Our Own Staples

I’ve learned how to make a few of our staples which has cut down on our grocery bill. Bread is the one that has saved us the most so far, since my husband likes heavier bread being from Europe and all. Things like ketchup and almond milk cost about the same to make as to buy (I’ve done the math and it’s true for our area unless the ingredients are on sale).


I know a lot of people who save a lot on their grocery budget by growing their own food! We haven’t done this yet for ourselves since I have a black thumb...



Shop Sales Strategically

Buy more of your staples when they are on sale, and avoid the sales of things you don’t generally eat - unless you have it on your meal plan or know for sure you will eat it. I’ve seen the tendency of people to buy things simply because they are on sale, only to have them go to waste later!

Having Fun and Being Positive

We allow ourselves to have a few splurges a month (like a pint of our favourite vegan ice cream that costs way too much!), but the best thing to keep in mind is not that you are restricting your budget, but that you are creating a way of life that keeps you mindful of everything you spend and everything you eat! It’s a good thing-trust me.





Controlling your grocery spending can be hard to do, but I believe in you! Reduce your spending and increase your savings! It will be worth it.


 
Meal Planning Guide | www.maplealps.com
 
How We Cut Down Our Grocery Bill Without Cutting Down on Food | www.maplealps.com #groceries #savemoney #budget