Porch 7.0

I have never been a winter person so this time of year is always special to me. The season wouldn’t be so special to me, however, if I didn’t have my own slice of nature in the middle of a parking lot somewhere in Toronto; a sliver of green among all the stone and brick. The city has lots of natural spaces to explore (parks, ravines, beaches) but there’s something about having control over one’s own little microcosm that feels powerful and energizing.

I’ve never been much of a gardener but after seven years of living in the same place I’ve managed to learn a lot. (Some of which I’ve shared here and here.) It’s a different kind of responsibility but one that I take on every year gladly. I won’t lie and say that I know what I’m doing; in fact, my garden is one of the few area of my life that I try not to research to death. Instead of looking for answers in a book or online, I try hard to listen to what my plants need. (Even though when I put it that way it sounds a little kooky.)

For example, there was no book that could tell me my raspberry bushes were going to bear fruit until October. (It’s true!) But to be fair, there was no book that told me the bushes were even going to last growing in pots. These, and other little happy surprises, are what make gardening so interesting to me. Nature makes up its own rules; you’re just kind of there to nurture and follow along as you go.

My garden adventures don’t stop at plants either: besides having planted flowers, shrubs, vegetables, fruits and herbs, my little porch now also boasts a hummingbird feeder which has yet to attract any birds but provides a nice rest stop to the many bees and butterflies that have come to visit.

In some ways my garden has become a sanctuary to all. People, animals, birds, insects-the garden is a perfect way to experience all the harmony that is in our world. The rule on my porch is that we all belong.

Except for the squirrels. Cute, but not welcome.

The New Year, The New You

The arrival of a new year often signifies new beginnings for people- a chance to start over again, to refresh, to feel renewed. I feel the same way, although I’ve never really been into New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I tend to focus on certain areas of my life where I feel unsatisfied and make it my goal to work on that throughout the year. The following list contains areas of focus in my life where I have previously found room for improvement as well as some solutions as how to make those changes happen in your own life.

Make Over Your Closet

First, do yourself a favour by getting rid of all of the clothes that don’t do you any favors, and anything else that’s taking up precious wardrobe space. Next. reevaluate the clothes you still have by thinking about them in terms of outfits rather than pieces.

Make Over Your Schedule

Not a morning person? Start here. A great morning routine is key to setting you up for a productive day (even on Mondays) and can save your life when you’re running late. (While you’re at it, taking control of your errands can help cut down on your running-around time.)

Stop Procrastinating

It takes a long time to change a bad habit, so it makes sense to try and embrace your behavior to try and make it work for you. If that doesn’t work, however, you may want to look at what might be the root cause of why you procrastinate and then figure out how you can avoid it in the future.

Start a New Project

What is a project anyway and what is the best way to tackle it? There’s only two simple steps: break down all of the things that you need to do, and then organize them into to-do lists to keep track of project goals and outcomes.

Find Balance

If you’ve gotten to the point where your batteries need a recharge, then it’s time to consider how you juggle all of the different facets of your life. (And if you’re in a crisis this post, this post or this post may help you.) This year, make a vow to build a better relationship with your doctor, practice self-care, get more sleep and learn how to have some fun.

Impress Your Boss

Any boss is impressed with an employee who takes the initiative to improve themselves professionally. If you do decide to take time off this year, make sure you do these things first and you’ll win even more brownie points.

Do Better in Class

If you’re thinking about going back to school in the next year, you may want to read this. But if you’re just looking to go back to school with a new attitude, check out this post for how to take your studying routine more seriously.

What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? Which areas of your life do you hope to improve? Comment below or let’s keep the conversation between ourselves at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

2018 Year-in-Review

I’m not going to lie, readers; this has been one crazy year for me, both personally and professionally. At times it’s been almost a struggle to keep this little slice of Internet going. (Here’s a post a about a particularly difficult time I had with this blog.) But as another year reaches it’s end I can reflect back on all the things I did manage to share and I still feel pretty proud of myself of what I was able to accomplish. Sometimes recognizing the strength it takes to get through the day is an accomplishment in and of itself. Here are some of the things I’m most proud of this year:

This cherry vanilla cake was my most popular recipe post this year.

This was the first savory baking post I ever wrote. (Judging by the way it turned out, it won’t be my last!)

Here’s what I read in the spring, summer, fall and winter.

I shared my quickest, dirtiest organizing tips for when you only have five, ten or fifteen minutes of spare time.

I finally got to write about one of my favorite books of all time and ‘fessed up to my love of YA fiction.

My family suffered a great loss around the holidays last year, so I didn’t get around to baking for Christmas. (I did it in 2015 and 2016.) I’m so glad I started up the tradition again this year.

These are my favorite books I read in 2017 that I almost never got around to posting, and my favorites from this year.

What were some of the highlights of 2018 for you? What do you hope to accomplish next year?

See you all in 2019!

Your Burning Baking Questions for B


If you’re new to this blog, welcome! I love meeting new people who love baking as much as I do.

If you’ve been following for awhile, you’ll know that in addition to having a giant sweet-tooth, part of my passion for baking lies comes from how I cope with stress. But I get a lot of questions about my favorite recipes, methods and my baking experiences both online and in person, so I thought I’d attempt to answer a few more of them here. Maybe we can even get to know each other a little better!

What was the first thing you ever made? Some of my earliest memories are of helping my mother in the kitchen but the first thing I ever baked all by myself were these chocolate brownies.

Are there any recipes you know off by heart? Yeah, that one! And the one for peanut butter cookies because it’s so freaking easy.

What’s the easiest thing you’ve made? I’d say pretty much all of the stuff I’ve featured on the blog is pretty easy (otherwise I wouldn’t blog about it!) but these peanut butter cookies, this peach cobbler, these minty Nanaimo bars, these butterscotch treats, and these S’mores Squares were among the easiest. Oh! And applesauce, although I don’t think that really counts as “baking”.

What’s the most difficult thing you’ve made? Making your own pastry dough like I describe here is pretty labor-intensive. If you’ve never baked anything before, it’s probably not the best recipe to start with but mostly I think it’s just all of the steps that make it intimidating.

Where do you get your inspiration from? I read lots of cookbooks (found here and here), but I also used to collect magazine clippings like crazy. That was kind of getting out of hand so I’ve relegated a lot of my collection onto Pinterest and into my recipe book. I also read a ton of amazing baking blogs run by talented bloggers, all of whom are way better bakers than I am.

Do you only bake for your blog? Yes and no. Mostly I bake for myself, family, friends or co-workers (especially if there’s a special occasion). I enjoy trying new recipes all the time but since I started featuring more of my baking on the blog I’ve made a more concerted effort to vary the kinds of things I make, and the flavors I use. So yes, sometimes I find a new recipe to try out for the blog specifically, but I’m constantly returning to my favorites in between.

Have you ever considered making baked goods on commission? Are you going to open a bakery? I don’t have my food handler’s certificate, or any formal culinary training so probably not. I kind of like the idea of feeding a bunch of people and getting paid for it, though, so I wouldn’t rule it out.

Do you cook as often as you bake? Not as much, although I do like cooking a lot. I don’t often like eating big meals so I’m more of a grazer throughout the day- fresh fruits and veggies, and yogurt. Oh man, yogurt. I usually save my more substantial recipes for other people. Maybe I’ll share one or two on the blog in the future!

What’s the one thing you haven’t baked? I have yet to successfully make meringue, and as of yet I’ve never attempted a soufflé. (It kind of scares me.) I’ve also never made a cheesecake- no particular reason, I just haven’t done it yet!

What is your all-time favorite dessert? There haven’t been many baked goods that I’ve met and haven’t liked, but there’s nothing like a dense, moist carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.


I hope you’ve enjoyed getting the chance to know me a little bit more- now I want to know a little bit more about you! What’s your favorite dessert? What’s the one recipe you’ve always been too intimidated to bake? Leave your answers below, and make sure to link to your favorite recipes on your blog! When it comes to baking, the more the merrier.

One Lovely Blog Award


The Internet is truly the coolest. Since starting my blog I’ve had the opportunity to connect with so many wonderful and interesting people from all over the world and all walks of life. But the one thing that brings us bloggers together is our passion for what we do. That’s why I’m so honored to have been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by the folks over at Sweet Spell. (Reader advisory warning: the pictures on that blog alone are almost too delicious to look at.)

For those of you visiting for the first time, my name is B and I keep busy working an office job, running a freelance business, and caring for my dog G. To decompress, I like to bake and read and blog all about my (mis)adventures trying to keep it all together.

Part of accepting the nomination is telling you a little bit more about myself, so here’s some things that my Internet friends, both new and old, may not know about me:

  1. This is not my first time at the blogging rodeo. Way back at the dawn of the Internet I may or may not have had a fan fiction blog. Yes, a boy band of the time played a starring role. No, I will not tell you which one it was.
  2. Obviously, I’ve always loved writing but for a while there I thought I was going to be a linguist because I was fascinated with languages. Turns out becoming a linguist is more than just embracing your inner J.R.R. Tolkien (apparently he knew 14!) so I stuck to dabbling around with them- I still have working knowledge of a few!
  3. You’d think that blogging and baking and drooling over books would be enough to keep me busy, but I’m actually doing all of those things while simultaneously singing my face off. Which brings me to my next point…
  4. I can sing pretty much every Disney princess song. No, really. It’s my one and only party trick. The only one I haven’t seen is The Princess and the Frog. I blame my parents, because there was always music in the house growing up.
  5. It was my mom that taught me how to bake, and I made my first batch of chocolate brownies at the tender age of seven. To this day, baked goods are still my kryptonite.
  6. Part of the reason I love baking is because I love making things for other people. If you’re my friend in real life you’ve probably received a homemade card from me at one point in time or another.
  7. If I could have any other job in the world (other than being a superstar-celebrity-entrepreneur-philanthropist) I would want to be the one who comes up with the names for colors on paint chips, or crayons. I love playing with words like “cilantro” or “persimmon”.

Now that I’ve accepted my nomination by telling you seven different things about myself, it’s time to nominate some of the other wonderful blogs that I hope you think are truly lovely as well.

Here are the rules for accepting your One Lovely Blog Award nomination:

  1. Write a blog post accepting your nomination.
  2. Show the blogger who nominated you how much you love them by thanking them in the post and linking to their blog. (Thanks again, Sweet Spell!)
  3. Tell us seven things about yourself.
  4. Nominate other blogs that you think are totally rad.
  5. Let the bloggers you’ve nominated know about they’ve received an award.
  6. Post the rules again to let those bloggers know how it works.

My Nominations

I love keeping up with Lydia as she cultivates a stylish life over at The Artful Attempt.

Tracy of The Culinary Jumble bakes all the Swedish things my mom and I used to make.

You’ll flip out over the incredible costumes Tanya sews over at It’s All Frosting.

I can’t help but smile every time a new post from Clairely Happy pops up in my feed.

Pola at The Escritorium has a talent with words, both real and imagined.

The gals behind Owl Machine are smart, hilarious and the authority on all things Disney.

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive and can’t possibly include all of the other amazing bloggers I have met and continue to meet on my blogging journey. Writing this blog is one of my favorite things in the world to do and it’s readers like all of you that make the blogging experience a special one.


Many thanks again for Sweet Spell for nominating me and congratulations to all of the other recipients that were nominated: Mrs. Twinkle, Goan Imports, The Creative Life in Between, Electric Blue Food, Love Served Daily, Twindays, milkandbun, The Millionaire’s Digest, A Pug in the Kitchen and Snapshots in Cursive. They’re all worthy blogs that you should go check out now!

Come Fika With Me

KBB_fikaEver since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed the Swedish practice of “fika” (explained so wonderfully and succinctly in the meme above). Similar to English “high tea”, “fika” is a perfect excuse to a take a restorative break from our busy day and enjoy a cup of coffee and maybe even a little treat.

My Swedish mother got me started on the practice early. (I’m pretty sure the first appliance I learned how to use in our kitchen was the coffeemaker. Now there’s strategic parenting for you!) Both of my parents worked from home and it wasn’t unusual to put on a pot of coffee in the afternoon and have the members of my family slowly drift into the kitchen once the small wafted through the house. My mother baked often and there would always be something sweet stashed somewhere in the kitchen. She taught my sister and I the basics of baking at an early age and I still have her chocolate brownie recipe memorized (it also happens to be the first baked good I ever shared on this blog here).

I definitely think that my love of fika has fostered my love of baking and I love sharing my baking with you online almost as much as I do sharing it in real life. Come and join my fika party by trying one (or more!) of my favorite recipes here, or share your favorite recipes or fika ideas by commenting below or emailing at me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com


Keeping Busy with G


Sometimes my Mama does this thing where she sits at her box she calls computer and looks for hours until she makes faces and her eyes go funny. She calls it “blog” but I think she says “dog” so I gets confused and I sneaks on box when no one is looking and now I gets really confused because I thought mama called it “Keeping Busy with G” but it’s “B” and that’s HER name not MINE.

Who am I? I am Gemma the dog and mama tells me I am something like collie and German Shepard and maybe whippet because I runs so fast. I have blue eye since I was baby which doctor says is freckle not cataract which maybe also means husky background, but mostly I just think I am dog, maybe mixed with cat. Cats are like small dog which means friendly and smell nice like fish but sometimes not friendly so mama says careful, which is fine, because I am shy.

Mommy is the best and I never leaves her side because the world might explode but I can’t BELIEVES she leaves me out of blog-that-is-not-dog that lives on box but maybe it’s because blog has viewpoints on which we DISAGREE.

Firstly, I loves MESS. What’s the point of kibble if you can’t stores it under the bed for midnight snacks? Dirty laundry is for snuggles, not for hamper. And why do I gets blamed all the time for the fur on the floor? Where else do I leaves it?

I losing count. Where was I?

Also, the thing about mess is it be TASTY. Sometimes mama cooks the good stuff and throws it on the floor accidentally-on-purpose but lately all the stuff mama cooks is for blog-not-dog but if it blog-for-dog why doesn’t mama cook the stuff Gemma can eats? Mama says baking bad for dogs. So why does Mama talk about bad stuff on blog?

I takes over blog now so real blog-for-dog. I changes the password and now Mama makes stuff Gemma wants for ransom. (I sees man do it on box-that-is-called-TV.) Monday it be Baking with G. We bakes the following tasty treats: ham cake, bacon tarts, tuna cupcakes and cheese pie. Mama bakes. I eats. But please to tell me what is Monday. I don’t know time, or days of week.

Mama is coming. Uh-oh. Big trouble now. I sees you Monday!


Gemma is a part-time scaredy cat and full-time dog that is known for her appearances on Instagram. When she’s not snapping selfies on social media, you can find her mooching cheese and chasing squirrels on the streets of Toronto, Ontario, where she has lived for the first and only decade of her life. This is her first blog post.


Porch 4.0

One of the biggest draws of renting this apartment is the outdoor patio space located directly outside my window facing the back parking lot of the building. It may not be the prettiest view, but having a small outdoor space all to my self makes my rental feel bigger in the warmer months, almost as if the patio acts like an extra room to eat or simply chill.

I’ve had the chance to dip my toes into gardening before and really enjoyed it (maybe even almost as much as baking, although I wouldn’t go that far!). So when I moved here four summers ago I decided not to let the jungle of concrete deter me from having an enjoyable outdoor space. Over the years, my patio has slowly evolved growing into a makeshift garden space that’s perfect for sipping my morning coffee and getting lost in a book.

I started out pretty low-key when I first moved in the spring of 2013. I’m guessing my priorities veered more towards buying furniture than starting a garden from scratch. My dad very kindly bought me the hanging baskets as a housewarming gift.

KBB_porch_2013The next year I was craving a little bit more privacy, so with a few extra dollars in my budget I decided to add a few more decorative items and plants to make my porch feel like it was just an extension of my apartment. So in 2014 it looked a little something like this:

KBB_porch_2014_1With my dog, Gemma, keeping watch outside my evenings when the light was still out often looked a little something like this:

KBB_porch_2014_2I still miss all of those chalk hearts that I drew all over the concrete ground. At the time I was think it was meant to be symbolic of a safe, loving space but looking back on them now, they were still tons of fun. Unfortunately I discovered that chalk art and dogs don’t really mix. I’d often come back inside to find Gemma covered in rainbow stripes.

Despite the addition of my herb garden, I still hadn’t quite satisfied my green thumb. Some new garden-crazy neighbors moved in upstairs in 2015 and the clippings from their plants transformed my porch into a green oasis. (The new green deck chairs helped.)

KBB_porch_2015Friends and neighbors started dropping off unwanted plants, or plants that needed rescuing and I was more than happy to welcome them into my brood. Unfortunately, a lot of these family members were only seasonal so I find myself back at square one for this upcoming spring.

The nights are still chilly and some mornings I wake to find frost still lingering on the ground, but I’ve already started scheming and dreaming. (Here’s how I do some of my garden research here.) Seeds are starting to sprout in their containers lounging on my windowsill. Already, I’m squirreling away extra cash to fund some of the projects I have planned. This year I’m hoping to find a balance between greenery and recreational space so I can make the most of my porch while I’m able.

When the beautiful weather hits, I know I’m going to be more than ready.

KBwB-BFlower-50I’d love to hear more about your upcoming plans for spring and your outdoor spaces, or maybe you have a suggestion for mine! Comment below or drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

If you want to see a little bit more about how I’ve organized my own personal spaces you can check out how I styled my bookshelf here, the story of how I purged everything in my apartment here, how I organized my closet here and some of the things I just can’t figure out how to organize here.

A Cacophony of Cakes


Whew. It’s been a busy few weeks for me.

Right after Christmas comes a whole whack-load of birthdays in my social circle which inevitably means a lot of parties, cards, and in my case, baking. I used to be really into making birthday cakes for people, and it was actually some friends and co-workers who suggested that I start blogging about the baking I do in my spare time.

When I mean that I was really into it, I mean I started making lists of people’s favourite cakes because, why not? It was fun and thoughtful to shower attention like that on someone, and it was an exciting opportunity for me to try a new recipe. (Kind of like how I totally made one up on the fly here.)

But something kind of…happened along the way. I don’t know what it was. Maybe I was tired from the sheer effort of turning out birthday cakes all the time. Maybe it had started to feel like a chore. But I stopped doing it for a long while. I told myself that it was too much trouble, and no one really appreciated it anyway.

This recent bevy of birthdays, however, made me reconsider my cake hiatus and after much cajoling from my co-workers I ended up making a key lime pie (my boss’ favorite) for our office lunch for his birthday.


I was pretty nervous for two reasons: one, I hadn’t made a pie in a while, let alone a cake. Two: I may have felt a teensy need to impress my boss. This was starting to feel like a pretty momentous occasion in my amateur baking career.

Not going to lie: it was a little bit of a disaster. A key lime pie doesn’t travel well if you’re walking to work, and storing it in an office mini-fridge (as I have discovered) is a big no-no. The results were drippy, and not at all pretty. But all of the office unanimously declared it was delicious, even poor Lucy who told me she had choked back every bite (she doesn’t like lime-flavored anything).

Not every recipe will turn out perfectly every time and that’s just a fact of life. But this enormous pressure I had put on myself to be this picture-perfect Pinterest chef had taken away the enjoyment of baking. I was baking because I felt like I had a set a precedent of always being the girl who baked the cakes. I had lost sight of why I love baking in the first place- to share good food with people I love. (It’s also a big stress reliever. Did I mention that?)

In the end I discovered that decision whether or not to bake something had always been my choice. The moment I felt more in control was the moment I felt the urge to do it again. Sure, this time I only dipped my toe in by making a key lime pie, and not a cake. But spring is coming, and there are a lot more birthdays coming up. Another colleague has already put in a request for his birthday.

The best part is that I’m enjoying it again. I’m doing something that I love not because I’m an excellent baker, but because it’s something that I do for myself.

I just use other people’s birthdays as an excuse.


Feeling inspired to start baking again? Here are some recipes to get you started. You’re welcome. I still can’t stopping pinning recipes to Pinterest, though, despite my efforts to be easier on myself and take my baking less seriously.

Cakes pictured above are (from top left): Lucy’s Chocolate Chocolate Cake; Chocolate Berry Cake (featured on Instagram); Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cake; Shannon’s Strawberry Cake and Key Lime Pie (not featured).



My Other Mission in Life

For those of you who know me in real life (read: not from the inter-webs) you’ll know that I’m not the only busy B in my family!

KBB_blogging_sistersThat’s L. my little sister. She’s got a hot little fashion blog that she started back in 2010. I’m so excited to share that after a brief (but heartbreaking) hiatus, Mission Fashionable is back and it’s better than ever!


This blog is a great outlet for me to share the things that make running my business, my home and my life easier. Fashion isn’t something I talk about often, and dressing myself in a way that suited my personality and body type was something with which I always struggled.

It wasn’t until I started working at a small women’s fashion boutique in the east end of Toronto that I became familiar with the satisfaction that comes with helping other people (in this case, mainly women) feel good. Selling clothing became not so much about the color of the piece or whom it was designed by, but how much it did for the buyer’s complexion, figure and self-esteem. Women of all shapes and sizes would torment themselves isolating faults as small as the faintest knee dimple, and even the most beautiful, smartly-dressed women had issues with their bodies that the rest of us mortals would not be able to understand. It was easier to relate to other people and build selling relationships the more apparent it was that we suffered from the same issues.

Mission Fashionable is not a blog about telling you what the trends are, or how they are supposed to be worn. It’s about finding creative ways to cultivate your own sense of style, whether you have the budget to shop every day and experiment with trends, or if you’re simply looking to freshen up your wardrobe with a few key pieces. Most of what I know about dressing myself comes from my experience shopping with sister. L. has personally helped me through so many style crises that I’d recommend her blog for anyone who wears clothes- from the most experienced, stylish dresser to the nerdiest yearbook editor who can’t get out of her jeans-and-sweater rut (yes, that was me circa 2004).

Of course while you’re checking out her blog you’ll also have to check out my awesome photography skills, pictured here:

hpim00351I mean, I know my sister is stunning, but it’s my photography that makes the difference, right? Right?

Check out Mission Fashionable (I highly recommend Bloglovin if you’re interested in a good system for organizing all your blog feeds) and see why I’m making such a big fuss. You can also follow L on Twitter and Facebook for more style and shopping tips. Maybe if you say pretty please she’ll be willing to do a style consultation for you.

Don’t believe in the awesome powers of L? She made me look like this, people. Like this. This is my glamour shot.

IMG_5263I think I should go into modeling. Seriously. Especially seeing as this was supposed to be a very serious corporate headshot photo shoot. Then again, maybe I should stick to my day job.


Have you visited L’s site yet? Do it now! Got the clothes and just need the organizing? I talk about some of my closet organizing solutions here.