Baking with B: Norwegian Apple Cake


For those of you who are interested (and I know y’all totally are) I have Swedish in my background, which is why I have such an unusual first name. On this blog I masquerade as B, but in real life my name is Britta, and I look just as Scandinavian as the name sounds.

Also, sometimes I get asked if I’m named after the character in Community, to which I usually respond that I changed my name when the show came out so I can more easily identify with Gillian Jacobs’ character.

KBB_britta_communityBack to the cake though, because I haven’t even started to tell you about how good it is. It’s simple, light, and can be served with pretty much anything, which in a world of decadent desserts makes it the peacekeeper of all the countries. I mean, desserts. This recipe is called “Norwegian Apple Cake” but my Swedish mother has been making a version of this for as long as I can remember so I guess it masquerades as “Scandinavian” no matter what its particular country of origin.

You too can masquerade as a Scandinavian, or a Britta, and make this cake too but I have to warn you- it’s so crazy simple you’re going to start thinking you are Norwegian because you’re going to make it so often.

Norwegian Apple Cake (serves 12)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 stick butter

2 eggs

2/3 c. light cream

3/4 c. flour

3 tsp baking powder

3-4 cooking apples

Grease and flour an 8×12-inch pan. Beat the eggs and 1 c. of the sugar until the mixture is thick and creamy and the whisk (or beater) leaves a trail after you lift it out. Pour the butter and milk into a pan. Bring to a boil and stir, still boiling, into the eggs and sugar. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold carefully into the batter so there are no lumps of flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared roasting pan. Peel, core and slice the apples; arrange them over the batter. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake in a moderately hot oven (400F) for 20-25 minutes until well-risen and golden brown. Cool in the pan, and then cut into slices.

B’s Tip: If you want to bring out the apple flavor even more, try mixing in 2 tsp of cinnamon to the remaining sugar before sprinkling it on top of the apples and popping it in the oven. Feel like making the recipe a little healthier? Top with less sugar, or leave it out altogether. (Half a cup is pretty generous and while delicious, not necessary.)

Happy baking!



Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.

Take Control of Your Life with a Command Central Binder

KBB_colorful_calendar_even_closelierHonest-to-goodness, one of the best organizing strategies that I have used in my life has been the implementation of what’s commonly known among the organizing bloggers as the “Command Central Binder”. It has become one of the most important tools in my workflow system and if I didn’t swear by it, I wouldn’t be sharing mine with y’all today.

I have to give credit where credit is due: this is not an original idea. The idea of a Command Central binder was first introduced to me when I started receiving the Simplify 101 newsletter. (I don’t know anyone who works there I swear! I just troll the Internet for organizing resources because I have a serious addiction to that kind of thing.)

The reason why the Command Central binder is so useful that it is a collection tool designed to allow you more control over the various aspects of your life by keeping all information relevant to you stored in one convenient place. At first I struggled with the idea of creating one because it seemed to be geared towards the busy mother looking to manage multiple schedules, papers, records, tasks and other important information in a place that was at her fingertips. And it is that. But it’s also so much more.

I took the concept one step further and realized I could take the basic principles behind the Command Central binder and adopt them to my own workflow needs. I have a section for all of my to-do lists involving some of the personal and professional projects that I’m working on right now and another section that contains my monthly budget and all of my financial worksheets. The sections don’t have to be strictly utilitarian, either. There’s a section in mine that’s simply for all of books I want to read (the ones that aren’t already logged on my Goodreads profile) and yet another section that tracks future projects and wish lists that I’ve appropriately labeled “Wishin’ and Hopin’”

The key to a making a Command Central binder that works for you is to personalize it as much as you possibly can. It took me of years of tweaking my formula to arrive at the sections that worked for me but because I don’t have children I instead used my Command Central binder as a place to keep track of anything that has to do with my personal and professional well-being and growth. Some of the sections included are the ones I’ve described above; there are a few others as well. I’ll spare you the gory details.

Anything that you need to refer to on a constant basis goes here. Any tools to help your routines, schedules and workflow management belong here as well. Use some of my examples or create your own. Consider including: calendars, school lunch menus, extra-curricular and volunteer schedules, account information and passwords, contacts, chore charts, pantry inventories, budgets, wish lists, to-do lists, membership information, someday/maybe tasks…the list is virtually endless. Once you’ve figured out which pieces of information are most relevant to you, make sure they’re organized in a way that’s easy to use. Refer back to your Command Central binder and revise often to meet your changing needs. I hope you find yours as useful as I’ve found mine.


Have you adopted a Command Central binder into your organizing system? Comment below and share what worked for you. Or drop me a line at and I’ll try to include it an upcoming post. Still looking for other ways to get organized? Click here to read more about some of the methods I’ve found useful.



10 Things to Do on a Rainy Afternoon


  1. Winter is coming. Well, at the very least it comes once a year. Get your wardrobe ready by giving your sock drawer a mini-makeover. Make sure each sock has a mate and toss those that are on their last legs. Do the same for sockettes, footless tights, stockings, pantyhose, etc. Take inventory of the pieces you’ll need to get your through the colder months and save for your next shopping trip, or add to a future budget. (Feeling more ambitious and wanting to clean out your whole closet? I’ve got some tips on how to do that here.)
  2. Christmas is coming, too. Why not be super organized and spend a fun afternoon browsing the Internet and magazines to brainstorm some fun gifts for all of the people on your list? If you find birthday, anniversary or shower gifts to add to your list than you get a gold star.
  3. Craft your perfect playlist. An afternoon stuck inside is the perfect opportunity to start browsing through your digital library. Organize music based on mood, region, genre, beat, era or be even more prepared by crafting playlists for upcoming events or occasions. For example, I’ve got a playlist called “Broken Heart Mending”. Bet you can’t guess what that one’s for!
  4. Clean your oven. Because, come on- how often do you clean your oven? Probably more than I do. A friend of mine has a funny story he likes to tell about me at parties about the afternoon he walked into my apartment and found me on my hands and knees shouting obscenities at my baking rack. True story- it’s honestly my most hated task. But you have to do it sometime, right?
  5. Go through your pantry. Discard expired and damaged products, consolidate multiples and take inventories for your next shopping trip. See how much money you can save by stretching your staples and shopping your pantry to flush out meals before you need to go to the grocery store. Remember to donate anything your family won’t use or love to your local food bank!
  6. Organize your digital photos. Now is the perfect time, especially when a lot of your summer memories are current, to edit and refine your collections and store them in a way that makes them easy to revisit and share with others. Order prints of your favorites online to include with letters or holiday cards, or share by cultivating a collection on your favorite social media platform.
  7. Purge your files. Pick a filing cabinet, a box, a folder, or a magazine file and make a vow to yourself that nothing goes back inside that you don’t absolutely need to keep. Make sure to shred sensitive documents or set them aside and accumulate in order to hire a shredding service.
  8. Testing, testing, one, two, three. Once a year I like to do a quick inventory of all of my office supplies and test my pencils, pens, highlighters and markers on a scrap piece of paper so I may discard ones that have dried up, or have become difficult or uncomfortable to use. Hello, my name is B and I am anal-retentive. (In my defense, there’s nothing worse than grabbing a dead pen when you’re trying to jot something down quickly, right?)
  9. Back up your computer. If you don’t then all of that playlist organizing and digital photo sorting will be for naught. Don’t have a way of backing up your computer? Now’s the perfect time to research a method that will work for you.
  10. Pick a shelf, any shelf. That’s it. Clear it, clean it, organize it and make a vow to yourself that you will never, ever let it get disorganized again (or at the very least for another year, until you have another rainy afternoon on which to organize it again).


I’ve shared with you some of the ways that I spend my rainy afternoons- now I’m interested in hearing how you spend yours! Drop me a line at or contribute by commenting below. Are you looking for other productive boredom busters? I’ve got plenty of thoughts on organizing here. Looking for something a little more creative? When I’m not busying myself with some project or another I’m reading or whipping up something in the kitchen. Read all about it here and here.

Julie Morgenstern and The Power of the Quiet Hour


Working at a doctor’s office is kind of like getting a lesson on how to work with constant interruptions. There are phone calls that need to be made, phone calls that need to received, paperwork that needs filing, faxes that need attention…and did I mention that all of this is done while processing patients and assisting the doctor with his exams?

Even if you don’t work at a doctor’s office, this scenario probably sounds familiar. Our workplaces, no matter where they are, can be a constant source of interruption. Sometimes this interruptions are welcome, especially if you can get stuck on a project like me and start to become hyper-focused. But for most us, we need those uninterrupted chunks of time so we can at least feel like we’re getting some kind of work done. There’s nothing more disheartening than spending two hours chugging through your email inbox only to realize you’ve only managed to answer five messages.

I was starting to feel recently like I was working, working, working and never getting anything done until I revisited professional organizer Julie Morgenstern’s body of work. She was Oprah’s organizing guru way back when and her unique time management system still attracts a large number of followers even decades later.

As an organization-obsessed teenager, my introduction to Morgenstern was actually through a book she co-authored with her (then) teenage daughter called Organizing from the Inside Out for Teens. (Incidentally, also a really good book for high school and post-secondary students to check out. Don’t let the title fool you. There are lots of juicy tidbits for adults in there as well).

An undisclosed number of years later, I picked up the original version of Julie Morgenstern’s book Organizing from the Inside Out, and another one called Never Check Email in the Morning (which has since been republished as Time Management from the Inside Out). A lot of the concepts I recognized from my teens, but this time around they were better adapted for the lifestyle of an independent, working adult. Although a lot of the content is targeted at office workers looking to improve their working style, I still think that a lot of Morgenstern’s suggestions can apply to anyone. Did the title Never Check Email in the Morning appeal to you? It appealed to me too.

What I’ve started to put in place, however, is Morgenstern’s idea of “The Quiet Hour”. It’s not necessarily an original idea, but the implementation of this small adjustment to my schedule has been so powerful that I had to share it with you. So many of our ideas surrounding time management involve doing more, and multi-tasking more in order to feel like we’re getting more done. But trying to balance several projects at once, as well as monitoring incoming phone calls and emails can not only be seen as inefficient, it lowers your productivity.

Have you experienced the pain and frustration of running around like a chicken with its head cut-off? Me too. That’s why you need “The Quiet Hour”. It’s the practice of putting aside an hour of uninterrupted time every day- this means no social media, no cell phones, no Internet, no nothing. Imagine: sixty minutes of solid “radio silence” to give you the space in your head and in your schedule to get done whatever it is that you need to get done. It’s a great solution no matter the task at hand- whether it means giving yourself that extra hour to push towards that deadline, or because you need to carve out time in your schedule for an in-depth project that requires all of your concentration.

Morgenstern mentions that some of the offices that she’s worked with in the past have adopted this universally into their office culture. Others, however, may find it difficult to stay away interruptions for a whole hour every single workday. I’m trying not to put pressure on myself to stick to a strict one hour a day schedule. Even setting aside half an hour to brainstorm a project, crunch some numbers, or power through a list of to-dos that you’ve putting off has proved to be an incredibly powerful practice. Find it hard to sit still for a whole hour? Put yourself on a timer and reward yourself with a coffee break when your time is up.

I’m always looking for creative ways to find more room in my schedule, and Organizing from the Inside Out and Time Management from the Inside Out definitely do not disappoint when it comes to time-saving tips. For a more in-depth look at why we organize, don’t forget to check out When Organizing Isn’t Enough.

Do you like Julie Morgenstern’s work as much as I do? Have any tips to help find room in your schedule? Share them with the group by commenting below!


Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.

How to Store Summer Shoes for the Winter

KBB_storing_summer_shoes_1I love fall for many reasons, but one of my least favourite things to do during this season is say good-bye to what I consider to be a pretty fabulous shoe collection. Even though an ex used to tease me that I have feet like Frodo (he often asked me how I enjoyed my trip to Mordor), I love wearing sandals because of all the beautiful bright colors and funky styles.

Eventually it comes to the point where peep-toes become unacceptable, so it’s time to put away my summer shoes for the winter. Usually I do this when I’m switching from my spring/summer wardrobe to my fall/winter wardrobe.

KBB_storing_summer_shoes_2I first prep my shoes for storage by wiping them down with a barely damp cloth or paper towel to try and rid them of some of the dirt and grime that have built up over the summer. Then I zip zippers and do up buckles and place them on a sheet of newspaper where I spray them with an all-purpose protector spray. You can usually find these at any place that sells shoes. Depending on the brand you need to let those puppies dry for about 1 hour. Make sure it’s in a well-ventilated area because that stuff stinks!

For shoes that are made of real leather I go the extra mile to use a bit of mink oil to protect and condition my shoes to make them last longer. Before using, test on a small, barely visible area in case it darkens the leather. I have found, however, that this is usually only temporary.

For those of you who have never used mink oil before, less is more, otherwise you’re going to find yourself oilier than take-out fish and chips. Squirt a small amount onto a paper towel or rag and rub into the shoe, working with small areas at a time. Use a second paper towel or rag to wipe off any excess.

Let the mink oil cure on your shoes for a couple of hours before storing. I store mine in clear plastic, stackable shoeboxes that fit on the top shelf of my closet perfectly.

This would also be the perfect time to give those boots a little loving before wearing them this season. Spray them down and oil them up and they’ll be in good shape for the rest of the season.

I’m always sad to say good-bye to my summer shoes but let’s face it- there’s are a lot of cute boots out this season too.


Do a creative way of stashing your shoes away for the winter? Write me at or comment below. For more organizing ideas that aren’t quite as fabulous as your shoes (but let’s face it, are almost just as good), visit my busy page.

Baking with B: Homemade Applesauce

KBB_baking_homemade_applesauceWhat is it about apples that make it seem like autumn has arrived? I know for most people the all of quintessential fall foods have something to do with pumpkin spice, but for me it’s the smell of apples baking in the oven in a pie, or simmering on a stovetop that brings me back to my childhood when my parents used to drive my sister and I out of the city to pick our own apples.

And nothing says childhood more than making your own homemade applesauce which is (somewhat) nutritious, delicious and easy as pie…except that it’s applesauce.

Homemade Applesauce (makes 6 cups)

4 lbs. apples (my favorite is Gala)

¼ c. lemon juice

3 tbsp dark brown sugar

This recipe is so simple you’re not even going to think it’s real but it is: just peel, core and slice your apples. Pop them in a large pot with lemon juice and 1 ½ c. water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until apples are very soft and falling apart. Mash with a potato masher or pulse in a food processor. Add sugar. If you’re feeling super fancy, you may want to add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg, or both! Let cool and transfer to an airtight container. It keeps for 5 days in the fridge or you can freeze the leftovers for later, up to 2 months.

Happy baking!



Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.


Baking with B: Homemade Granola Bars

Granola, granola, granola. In all the forms, with all the flavours: nuts, fruit, chocolate. You name it, I’m addicted. I’ve never really met a granola that I didn’t like and I’m a firm believer that it tastes best with a healthy heap of thick yogurt, some fresh fruit, and a drizzle of honey.

But sometimes…I get lazy. And I get busy. And in the summertime there are some days that are just so beautiful that I feel like I’ll explode if I don’t get outside right this minute and enjoy the fresh air. Who has time for things like cleaning and showering and eating when there’s sunshine and a warm breeze waiting? (I’m joking; of course I shower.)

Mornings like these my dog, Gemma, is raring to go too, so I’ve taken to making a big batch of these whenever I can force myself to stay indoors to bake for an hour or two. Then it’s grab one of these and seeing where the morning takes us- to the park, along the boardwalk- the possibilities seem endless. Better take two along, just in case.

Homemade Granola Bars (makes 12-16)

2 c. old-fashioned oatmeal

1 c. sliced almonds

1 c. shredded coconut, loosely packed

½ c. toasted wheat germ

3 tbsp unsalted butter

2/3 c. honey

¼ c. light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

¼ tsp. kosher salt

½ c. chopped pitted dates

½ c. chopped dried apricots

½ c. dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8×12” baking dish and line it with parchment paper. Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F. Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2-3 hours before cutting into squares.

Happy baking!



Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.

How Do I Choose the Right Paint Color?


It’s amazing how something so simple as painting a room can change the feel of a space completely. It’s easy to see how paint can make such an important impact on the place you’re decorating. Unfortunately, we all too often fumble with this important decision. So if you find yourself in the paint aisle going cross-eyed from staring at paint chips for so long, here are a couple of rules I try to follow to make the best decision.

First, the color has to work with the rest of the room. It’s nice to want to pick a color because it’s your favorite or because you grew up with the same color in your living room, but if it doesn’t end up working with your textiles and furniture than it’s better off somewhere else- otherwise you’re going to end up hating it!

Keep in mind though when we’re talking about a paint color “going” with the rest of the room, we don’t mean matching. Making sure that everything is a room was the same color blue would make you feel as if you were living a giant blueberry. So unless your name is James and your last residence was a giant peach, stay away from matching everything.

Here’s the secret to why it’s frustrating: because not all colors are made the same.

This is your mini science lesson for the day: we all know that the human eye sees color based on a light spectrum. And that light spectrum is created when light bounces off of things. Unfortunately, that means depending on what the light is bouncing off of, the color will appear differently to our eyes. Smooth surfaces, textured surfaces, even different types of cloth are very rarely going to appear the exact same shade. Paint is never going to match a cushion, or a rug, or a smudge in a painting exactly.

So how do you incorporate color into a room that’s already filled with colorful stuff? Do what designers do and “pull” a color.

When in doubt, go for a neutral color. It’s hard to go wrong and it’s the safest bet for pulling everything in the room together, especially if you’re still recovering from blueberry syndrome.

Throw those paint chips up on the wall of the room you wish to paint and live with them a little bit. Move the paint chips around the room occasionally and see how the light bounces of of them. How do they look in the morning compared to the evening? In the night? With the lights on? Off?

Last but not least, if wavering between two shades of paint is making you go cross-eyed, go for the lighter one. Paint usually dries slightly on the darker side, and once you’ve painted the room you might find the impact of the darker shade harder to absorb at first.

The good news about choosing a paint color is that it doesn’t have to be that stressful. If you rally can’t stand the shade you picked, paint in again! It’s an effective and cheap way to makeover a room to suit whatever your style and needs dictate.

KBwB-BFlower-50Feeling inspired to make your space feel like your own? Visit my busy page for more ideas on projects that I’ve been working on around the house.

10 Myths About Organizing

KBB_notebook_and_journalOrganizing is not about purging. I think a lot of people fear getting organized because they equate with parting ways with the things that they love. The opposite is totally true: organizing is about deciding what truly matters to you and cultivating a space filled with things you love and appreciate that contribute to your lifestyle.

Organizing is not about changing your system. It’s about improving your system so that it works better for you. ‘Nuff said.

Organizing is not about buying more gadgets. Just because your newly organized kitchen suddenly has space to house a new fancy juicer doesn’t mean it’s a reason to purchase a new fancy juicer. Sometimes a little blank space helps us to visually appreciate the things you already have. This, of course, does not apply if you were organizing your kitchen to make room for a fancy juicer (if fancy juice is indeed your thing).

Organizing is not about making over a space. Cosmetic changes to the aesthetic are one thing; a well-organized space is not only cosmetically pleasing because it’s clutter-free and carefully planned, it’s cosmically pleasing because it attributes to an easier workflow and a more enjoyable lifestyle.

Organizing is not about creating storage. I once had a client that I was helping move to a bigger space. She had talked about the transition for months; finally her boys were going to have enough space in their rooms for all of their toys. I agreed with her until I saw that each of her small children had bedrooms that rivaled the size of my apartment with giant, gorgeous built-ins along each wall. They were originally meant for toys; however, their new house came with a giant playroom in the basement where the kids spent most of their time. Empty cupboards meant that more clutter quickly accumulated and my client found herself in the middle of her original dilemma. It just goes to show that thoughtful editing and creative organizing are sometimes better solutions than creating more storage to house more things you don’t need or want.

Organizing is not about hiding things away. If you have cherished things that you love, display them! Do you relish looking at all of the piles of work you have to do? You’re a weirdo, but who cares? Leave them on your desk! Just as everyone has different tastes in décor, different people have a variety of organizing styles that lend themselves to a certain style or another. There’s no sense in changing your system just because you aspire to a certain look. (See Number 2.)

Organizing is not about upgrading. Just because you saw that super pretty double door fridge on Pinterest doesn’t mean you can’t organize the fridge you own currently. It’s great to have upgrading goals, but don’t use them as excuses to prevent yourself from improving your lifestyle before you improve your appliances or furniture.

Organizing is not about changing your habits. It’s about recognizing those habits and organizing your space to accommodate them. I’m normally a pretty neat person but as soon as I walk in the door I throw down my keys and they usually fall where they may. I’ve since left a pretty bowl on the shelf next to the door to collect all the shrapnel (like loose change and sunglasses) from my comings and goings throughout the day.

Organizing is not about making things pretty. Yes, organizing a room usually makes it pretty but you shouldn’t hold off on purging just because you don’t have a pretty box to put it in. Conversely, don’t fool yourself into thinking that buying even more pretty baskets and storage accessories will automatically make your space more organized- it can sometimes have the opposite effect.

Organizing is not about abundance. Giant craft rooms and majestic libraries are mouthwatering to look at, but aspiring to have these kinds of spaces can sometimes be unrealistic. I’d love to have drawers upon drawers of pretty pens or fancy baking supplies too, but having an organized space has allowed me to make peace with my reality and appreciate the things that I do have and love.


I’ve got a flexible, highly personalized approach to my organizing that’s governed by these truths- now I want to know yours! Send them at me at or comment below. Want to read more of my organizing thoughts? I’ve got a lot more that I’ve shared here.