Maple Alps


How to Cultivate a Slower and Simpler Life

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps10 Comments
How to Cultivate a Slower and Simpler Life |

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 |

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?


Minimalism Essentials

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps1 Comment

In the wise words of Helen Keller:

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

Although we live in an era when consumerism and all things fast and instant have taken over the world, there are still those who want to be more with less. It may sound depressing, but let’s look at it as an opportunity, instead!

This is our chance to overcome all the trendy cravings and enjoy true diversity of life without the need to possess. So, in an effort to make things simpler, the following list can be your own little to-do on your journey to becoming a minimalist!

Photo by  Yoann Siloine  on  Unsplash

A Decluttering Mindset

Yes, spring is your go-to time to empty those drawers, donate those shoes and jeans, but in order to enjoy a simpler life, decluttering should be more of a permanent mindset. A way of being, if you will. Instead of constant hoarding, which is yet another consequence of consumerism, do your best to give and share. What may be just another pair of socks to you can be someone’s lifesaver during a cold winter day!

Do your best not to constantly postpone decisions for later. That’s how we end up keeping an excess of things which we don’t need and we don’t use at all. If it has a purpose, or even several of them, preferably, keep it! If it sits idly in your home, ditch it!

Photo by  Alex Loup  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alex Loup on Unsplash

Decorate with Meaning

There’s a common misconception that a minimalist home is void of all personal things, and contains very few furniture pieces. Of course that you should pick your furniture according to purpose, but it’s no reason to keep character and charisma out of the process! In fact, in a minimalist home, those items that have the most emotional and personal value truly get to stand out, as there will be no clutter to suffocate their meaning.

If it was a gift from someone you cherish, or an item with a deep spiritual meaning for you, by all means, keep it, make it the focal point of your home! Add color and texture, play with styles, but don’t stuff your room just because.

Photo by  Chua Bing Quan  on  Unsplash

Slow Down Your Style

Fast fashion is one of the cornerstones of consumerism, and as such, it deserves to be banished from our look-books for good. It’s great if you want to refresh your wardrobe with an occasional new item that is a reflection of your personal preferences, but we still haven’t seen anything defeat the little black dress in the quest of elegance.

The same goes for other multifunctional pieces such as the Birkenstock Arizona sandals, which are considered a staple of comfort-wear, and a timeless classic among footwear. Go for durable, long-lasting items, not just in terms of trends, but also in terms of quality, so that you can wear your stylish clothes for years on end!

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Simplify Your Menu

Another common item on the list we tend to complicate is our eating regime. We buy so many products that are disguised as quick and easy, such as pre-prepared meals, and a whole slew of processed snacks. They might be fine as an occasional indulgence, but in order to lead a healthy, simple life, we should nourish our bodies with whole foods with minimal processing.

Fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds in their natural form are the best possible sources of vitamins and minerals that sustain our immune system and protect us from diseases. Add to that lean sources of protein, and you can easily mix and match a versatile menu without resorting to overly-processed foods laden with chemicals.

Invest in Sustainable Self-Growth

Curiosity and learning are the basis of progress, however, the means to an end should matter as much as the end itself. If you’re an avid reader, which is an exceptional quality you should nurture within yourself, you can still continue to expand your library without actually buying physical books. Instead, you can get an e-reader such as Kindle that uses e-ink, it stores around two thousand books, and it’s an excellent choice for reducing eye strain.

You’ll be able to help save the environment, as this is a far more sustainable way to expand your library than to support deforestation for the purpose of printing.

Photo by  Leo Manjarrez  on  Unsplash

Finally, it’s vital to remember that there is no minimalist template that fits us all. You should strive to find your own, keep your mind open, and find the best possible ways to simplify your life, help preserve our planet, and enjoy your existence to the fullest!


Claire is a blogger and a Bachelor of Design from Brisbane, Australia. She is an aesthetic lover focused on meaningful living. She writes about fashion, art and consumers' habits in order to encourage her readers to live sustainably.

Minimalism Essentials |


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 |


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 |

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


Tricks For Minimalist Packing [Plus A FREE Checklist!]

TravelAmanda Walter | Maple Alps6 Comments

It is no secret that I love to travel. After spending years abroad, moving every year consecutively, and travelling a ton, I’ve come to appreciate being able to travel without all the heavy baggage. I’ve talked about how I figured out that I could live a year on everything that fits in two suitcases, and I’ve also figured out that I can travel for a week or more with everything I can fit into a carry-on bag. It is such a liberating feeling walking around with the bare minimum and still having a great time - if you’ve experienced it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I had an opportunity for readers to suggest blog topics, and minimalist travelling came up, so this post is for you! Here are some of my tips to enjoy a minimalist travel experience. Fair warning: I am incredibly low maintenance. I don’t wear makeup, and I can wear the same shoes all season long, every single day. As long as I don’t stink, and look more or less put together (I do have hot mess days), I’m satisfied. The good news is that you can make what I will be sharing work for you! Minimalism looks different for everyone.

I’ll explain a little at first, but if you don’t want to do allllllll the reading, scroll down to the bottom for a simple packing list.

This post contains affiliate links

Tricks For Minimalist Packing |


Pack only necessities

Do not, and I repeat, do not bring something just for the sake of having it. Make sure you absolutely need it. This even applies to your wallet! The only things that need to be in your [tiny] wallet are your credit/debit cards (+ an emergency card just in case), your ID, and some cash is good to have. Gift cards to stores you won’t be at don’t need to come. Neither does your library card, other membership cards, or the picture of your boyfriend - you have your phone for that. *wink



Depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing, you might be able to eliminate a lot of toiletries! You really do not need to be lugging around a hair dryer, straightener AND a curling iron when you’re backpacking across Europe or visiting a friend for the weekend (chances are they have a hairdryer too…) Take only what you need, and take only small amounts of it. You can buy these amazing travel sized bottles to refill your favourite products that may not come in smaller sizes. The travel-sized aisle in Target is amazing - but don’t go overboard (note: though the folding toothbrushes are great, I do opt to bring my bamboo toothbrush everywhere I go [get your own here!]). I will advocate for one amazing piece of travel-sized bliss, however: this amazing razor (since shorts are lighter than pants, right? Haha).


Versatile, Versatile, Versatile!

Make sure the items in your bag can be used more than once! If you’re going to a wedding, that may be a different story, but try to get a lot of use out of everything you pack! When it comes to your clothes, make sure the pieces work together in several different ways to stretch out your outfit possibilities without taking more. I usually travel to places where I do have to look more or less presentable. Having pieces that work both casually and can be dressed up is really helpful!


Light, Light, Light!

This is key! The lighter your necessities are, the easier it is to cart them around. Consider your electronics and shoes especially, as those can get heavy. I usually take one pair of closed-toe shoes (and wear them as I travel) and pack sandals depending on where I’m going and what I’ll be doing. If I travel by plane with a carry-on, I pack a small lightweight bag for day trips.


Don’t pack more than a week’s worth of clothing

If you’re staying longer than a week, that’s okay. Take some quarters for the laundromat, or ask your host if you can borrow their washer. Worst case, use a sink. I’ve done it, you can too. Pack fabrics that dry easily when you choose the hand washing method. I do take 7 pairs of underwear though, despite seeing many people who suggest only 3 or 4 and washing them every day. I just like fresh underwear to last as long as possible, haha. Honestly, no one is going to be bothered if you pack 6 pieces of clothing to wear. They won’t notice!


Quality is important

Herein lies the key! I never knew how important quality was until I stopped looking at the price tag and started looking at pieces that will last. This is especially important for things you’ll be using a lot like shoes and water bottles.


Comfort vs. Luxury

You want to be comfortable! Walking around everywhere for a week is not going to be fun in your highest cutest wedges! You'll also want to be sure to wear comfortable clothing for the same reason. Yes, you will be travelling and there is no reason you shouldn't be able to use everyday items as normal (to be comfortable!), but think about the things you could probably do without. 


Choose Luggage Carefully

Make sure you get quality luggage that is appropriate for your minimalist trip. A backpack might be sufficient for you. I personally like having a carry on size piece with wheels, because it makes getting around airports and train stations easy for me. I do pack a small backpack in this though, for day trips when I don't have to take everything with me. Packing cubes (I like these ones from Amazon) are also really helpful with packing minimal amounts - if they are in your budget.

minimalist packing checklist maple alps


My Basic Travel Necessities:


  • large scarf (perfect for the plane!)

  • 3 tops

  • 2 bottoms

  • 1 dress/skirt (the trick is to make sure they all go together to maximize outfit possibilities and that they are lightweight - easy to wash/dry)

  • 1 or 2 pyjama

  • undergarments (2 bras + 5-7 pair underwear),

  • bathing suit if needed

  • jacket/hoodie

  • shoes (sneakers + sandals - again depends on what I’ll be doing)

  • socks (2-3 pairs)

*these will get you by nicely, but consider the following: commit to doing laundry of some sort, add or subtract depending on the length of your stay, consider sticking to one colour palette, and there really is no need to go out and buy something new. Choose from what you already own - you might be surprised at what is in your own closet :) 

Toiletries (travel sized!):

  • bar soap

  • Mini razor (seriously life-changing!)

  • toothbrush/toothpaste

  • deodorant

  • shampoo/conditioner (may be optional depending on where you’re going!),

  • divacup

  • Body lotion

  • chapstick

Other Toiletries:

  • Contact solution (travel sized, of course)

  • Glasses

  • Any medication

  • Hand Sanitizer/sanitizing wipes

  • Tweezers

  • Nail Clippers

  • A couple band-aids (these come in handy!)

  • Peppermint Essential Oil (good for headaches and motion sickness!)

  • I don't wear makeup, but you might - choose only essentials


  • Computer or Tablet

  • Phone

  • Earbuds/headphones

  • Fitbit or Watch

  • Any charging cords (if two devices use the same cord, only take one)

  • Camera (next level: just use your phone!)


  • Water Bottle (this will save you so much money!)

  • Minimalist Wallet - only the essentials: passport, credit cards, cash

  • Microfiber Towel (lighter and dries quickly but optional depending on where you’re going)

  • Earplugs (optional)

  • Extra reusable bag (good for laundry, etc.)

  • Packable daypack (so you aren't carting your carry on everywhere)

  • I always bring a small Bible, but you could use your phone app


What are your packing essentials?

checklist download |
Tips for Minimalist Packing |

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 |


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!