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Kitchen Essentials

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps2 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.

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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 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!

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 $15 I've ever spent. 

Whisk Set

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


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 |

Wake Up Early

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 |

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 |

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.


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


I Quit Makeup. Here's What Happened.

Lifestyle, Natural Living, Health, BlogAmanda Walter | Maple Alps10 Comments

I quit makeup.

Over two years ago.

Now, before you stop reading because you think I’m going  to tell you to stop wearing makeup, I’m not going to do any such thing.

I just felt like writing about my experiences - good and bad - when I stopped wearing makeup. Consider this more a personal reflection, and take from it what you wish!

This girl quit makeup |

Why did I do it?

I’ll be honest: I have no radical reason as to why I stopped wearing makeup. I just….decided to one morning. Don’t get me wrong - I really did enjoy wearing it and putting time and effort into my appearance, but when I questioned my motives (and some of the ingredients and testing methods of certain companies), I didn’t like what I was seeing. It was all about me and what people saw when they saw me. I realized that what I looked like shouldn’t matter as much as what my character was - so I took a break. My break has stretched to two years now, and I can’t say that I don’t miss it at times (again, for mostly superficial reasons), but I took some time to reflect on it.


It saves me time

I seriously used to be really good at getting up really early in the morning and getting myself together and ready. Over the years, however, it has gotten harder and harder to do that - mainly due to my light sleep and having a husband who goes to bed later than I would prefer. I am still obligated to wake up much earlier than I would like with these circumstances, but when I need the extra ten minutes, I take it. When I don’t need the extra time, it is now used in a much more productive way; I can extend the time for prayer, or eat a slower breakfast. It’s nice to not rush. It’s also nice to not spend so much time in front of the mirror looking goofy.


It saves me money

As I was going through the cosmetic aisle the other day, I was shocked to see some of the prices on brands I used to buy regularly. I did some quick math in my head and the number that came up was quite large. Being much more intentional about my money is important, and prioritizing what I spend it on is part of that. I was glad to realize that a large portion I would normally not even think about spending on makeup “essentials” now goes into savings.


It saves me stress

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand the extra stress. Why should I have to worry about whether my mascara is truly waterproof when it rains, or if my nail polish is chipping in an unattractive manner? I have enough to worry about in a day, so adding on these factors was just making me more of a basket-case than I already am! Honestly, going back to the time thing as well, the stress of running out of time in the morning is too much for my delicate heart.


It saves my skin

It is nothing new that a lot of makeup and other toiletries are made with questionable ingredients that harm our bodies. Yes, there are fantastic alternatives I’m sure, but I’ve not explored these [often expensive] alternatives. Honestly, I could do with putting fewer layers of “stuff” on my extremely absorptive skin anyway. I don’t have the best skin, and skipping the chemical-filled cosmetics has improved it so much.


My Husband Still Loves Me



In Conclusion

I never set out to see how long I could go without painting a nail or lining my eye (sounds so weird when I say it that way). I just got fed up and started on a journey I didn’t know I was going on. I doubt that I’ll ever go back, and if I do, I do. For now, I am content with my choice and glad for the extra time, money and peace of mind it contributes to.


What do you think about my experience? Experienced anything similar?


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 corning (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 |


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.



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!



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!


Five Secrets for Sustainable Shopping Success

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps4 Comments

Shopping is a time-consuming adventure that many gladly take part in. Confessedly, I was no different. I loved the thrill of going into stores, hearing their relaxing music, and seeing the bright new trends on the shelves. Whether I was shopping to take my mind off a problem or to just window shop, none of it was sustainable. I was picking out pieces that I would soon forget about. I just didn’t know it yet. And how could I? When you’re shopping, sometimes it can feel like you really need that super cute blouse. You can’t wait to wear it to work or out to brunch with your friends. And I was just the same. But after a while, I started growing weary of the superficial feel of it all. I had countless tops, pants, shoes, and bags that I no longer was excited to wear. No longer do I take an amiable stroll throughout the shops, eyeing the mannequins, shoes, and accessories. Because now when I approach the stores, I have a solid plan in mind.


The Focus of Fast Fashion

Everywhere you look, whether it’s on social media or the magazines at the grocery store, you’ll see ads. The main thing these ads are doing is busy pressuring us to look better by paying more money. Fashion is one of the worst culprits. You’d think that four seasons is plenty, but you’d be wrong! The thing about fast fashion giants such as Forever 21, Topshop, and Zara is that they are constantly adding new shipments and styles into their stores. Fast fashion is all about making the consumer feel like they’re suddenly off-trend even though they just had a massive haul a week ago. With new trends and styles continuously flooding in, it lends that “must have it” feeling to shoppers who didn’t even know they needed it, much less wanted it.

But it’s fine to splurge every once in awhile, right? Because it’s not like you’re always stocking up on pricey jeans and jackets. Surely there can’t be much harm in grabbing a $10 hoodie. However, a big problem of the inexpensive clothing is that it’s cheap. Not just cheaply priced but cheaply produced. With big stores like H&M, they have outsourced their work to massive factories. The factory workers put in many long hours in order to put together clothing to be shipped back to the stores. These workers are underpaid and not taken care of properly during their shifts. It’s also very cheap to order clothing in bulk from these factories. Large, popular brands like H&M can even get away with reselling items for a fractionally higher cost than manufacturing. For smaller brands, they’d never make enough profit if that’s how they operated. But for big brands, they drop the prices to entice shoppers to give in and buy a nicely priced blouse or a pair of pants. And because millions of people shop at these brands, the fashion industry is raking in the cash. It’s a dark picture to think about. The good news is that many indie fashion labels are beginning to burst into the scene. Lots of people like a good DIY project or knowing someone handmade something. There are definitely ways that you can buy beautiful, reliable clothing that will stand the test of time while even remaining stylish.


The Simple Guide To Sustainable Shopping

So now I want to break something down for you. It’s something I’ve been compiling over the last several months. I want to share my sustainable shopping tips and tricks.

Five Secrets for Sustainable Shopping Success |


#1: Avoid Shopping

Perhaps this is the most obvious tip. However, if you take a day to reevaluate your wardrobe, you could be surprised. Document what you have. Try to work with it. But let’s be serious, we can’t avoid shopping forever…


#2: Limit Your Shopping Trips

Okay. So you’ve got to grab a pair of jeans because the ones you have are just a bit too snug. That’s fine. Hold onto that. When you go out to shop, shop with intention. Don’t go for one thing and end up coming home with multiple bags. And when you do shop, shop for quality over quantity. Seek out brands that have sturdy clothing. Try to stay away from the fleeting fads. If you invest in a nice pair of jeans for $150 that will last you, it’s going to be a lot better in the long run than if you had snagged a pair for $15.


#3: Seek Out Consignment Shops

If you’re not willing to give up shopping so easily, there are always solutions. Rather than heading to outlets or shops, try consignment stores. There are many different sorts. From local consignment stores with specifically chosen consigned pieces to polished online storefronts with practically new pieces for a fraction of the price. A couple of the more upscale consignment shops are ThredUp and TheRealReal. They specifically carry luxury brand clothing. That means no poorly-created clothing for cheap prices.

Some of my second-hand finds:

Five Secrets for Sustainable Shopping Success |
Five Secrets for Sustainable Shopping Success |
Five Secrets for Sustainable Shopping Success |

#4: Turn To Eco-Friendly Brands

It’s time for the next step. Like I mentioned before, there are people and companies out there who strive to bring their own handmade and ethically made goods into the world. They’re created with care. You just have to find them. From awesome fun printed slip-ons by Inkkas to iconic white shirts by Anne Fontaine and more. There are countless indie fashion labels out there. You just have to find the time to locate the ones you love. Fashion labels which bring sustainability, elegance, and minimalism into their very designs are drawing in clients who are hungry to veer away from fast fashion.


#5: Begin Avoiding Fast Fashion Destinations

Starting out, you may find that eco-friendly fashion designers may not have what you were expecting. If you’ve checked out dozens of indie labels and still are struggling finding a classy pair of heels or the perfect clutch, don’t give up. Rather take a step away and use the last resort: fast fashion. For the reasons I talked about before, fast fashion is not the best mode of action. But sometimes, we don’t really have another choice. Heading to your nearest shopping center can work just fine. You just might end up finding a classic blouse that you can wear again and again. Not all fast fashion is poor fashion (or even style). And it definitely will do the trick in a pinch. However, if you want to seek out sustainable fashion at places like Zara or Topshop, go for it. There isn’t anything wrong in using major fashion labels as a backup plan or a minor substitute. Just don’t let it be your first choice and avoid the obvious fads that will be gone in a month’s time. There are so many other hardworking individuals who deserve your money and are willing to trade their sustainable products for it. 

Five Secrets for Sustainable Shopping Success |

That’s pretty much how I like to shop sustainably! What do you think? How would you choose to incorporate sustainability into your shopping?

Nadia Karpov is a founder of Happymalista blog where she documents her journey towards minimalist life style. As a slow fashion enthusiast, she constantly explores the subject and shares everything she learns along the way. You will find simple style, beauty, sustainable shopping, and travel tips on her blog.

To learn more, please visit Happymalista, Instagram, and Facebook

If you are interested in guest posting, check out the guest posting guidelines for Maple Alps, here. 

Five Secrets for Sustainable Shopping Success |