About B

I'm a music-loving, coffee-guzzling, sweet-toothed bookworm that blogs about finding balance while running a small business.

Porch 5.0

Time flies pretty fast. One day you’re moving into your new apartment, and the next thing you know it’s been five years and you’re still in the same apartment!

Ok, so for some people this doesn’t seem like much cause for celebration but when you’ve moved as often as I have in the past fifteen years or so, staying in one place for five years feels like a real accomplishment.

One of my favorite things about where I live is my little patch of green in the city, my porch. It’s my number-one hangout from May-September (weather-permitting) and is the best place to read, write, draw, drink coffee or eating a meal. (Food has this way of tasting better in fresh air, doesn’t it?)

Even before I start getting my outdoors ready for spring, I started planning ahead of time the kind of plantings I want to do, and I go over last year’s notes to remind myself which plants were winners and which ones not to invest in again.

I get lots of inspiration, too, from browsing gardening books, and snooping other people’s gardens on Pinterest. I’ve got a couple of green-thumbed friends on Instagram that I like to steal ideas from as well.

Space, time and financial constraints mean that sometimes my plans aren’t always that elaborate, but I’m always trying to find a way to make things cozy. Thoughtful lighting, seating, plus special handmade gifts from artistic friends always seem to make an environment more inviting.

Here are some highlights from last year’s porch:

One of the many joys of last year’s garden was the amount of herbs that I was able to grow, and I’m excited to try more varieties this year, and start them earlier so they have more time to become healthy and strong. A lot of my planters need to be replaced after a damp, rainy winter so I’m excited to see how the landscape will change with some new additions.

The garden bug has spread to some of the other porches and balconies in my building, and we’ve already been in talks about making a more coordinated effort this year. After all, it is Canada’s bicentennial, and it’s always nice to have an excuse to do something special.

I may just have to break out a flag or two.

KBwB-BFlower-50How did your green space turn out last year? What did you learn? What are you looking forward to in your garden this season? Comment below or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. And send your pics please!

If you’re looking for more outdoor and household projects, click here to see what I get up to around my home. I’m also usually on Pinterest hunting around for great decor ideas, both inside and out.

Baking with B: Blueberry, Lemon and Coconut Trifle

Let’s ease back into this baking thing a little bit, shall we? It’s been a while. I know trifle isn’t exactly “baking” in the traditional sense, but I wanted to share this with you because I made it not once, but twice in the last few weeks. Yes, it was that good.

The best thing about trifle is that you can’t really screw it up. Everyone has their own version, and it doesn’t always turn out the same way every time. Basically each trifle is made up of similar building blocks (cake, fruit, custard, whipped cream) but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. I happen to think that this blueberry-lemon-coconut combo is a fresh and modern take on this traditional dessert. (Plus, I love anything blueberry-lemon flavor.)

Put some time aside for this one: even though it’s a snap to make, assembling the layers requires work, plus you want this baby to chill in the fridge for at least four hours to get everything all blended, gooey and good. Don’t let that put you off- your patience will be rewarded in the form of this awesome dessert.

Blueberry, Lemon and Coconut Trifle (makes about 14 c.)

10 1/2 oz. pound cake (thaw if using frozen)

1 can lemon pie filling (19 oz. or about 540 mL)

1 1/4 c. flaked coconut

2 c. frozen blueberries

3 c. whipped cream

In a large frying pan, toast coconut over medium heat, stirring constantly until lightly golden. Remove from heat and put 1/4 c. aside. Mix the remaining coconut in a small bowl with the lemon pie filling.

Cut the pound cake into approx. 1″ cubes. Arrange half into the bottom of an extra-large glass bowl (or in my case, an enormous jar I had lying around the house), and set the other half aside. Next, take half of your pie filling, and spread over your cake layer evenly. Create the next layer by sprinkling the pie filling with blueberries. Spoon whipped cream over blueberries until covered. Lay down another cake layer, followed by another pie filling layer, followed by the remaining whipped cream. Sprinkle with reserved coconut. Chill in the fridge, covered, for at least 4 hours.

B’s Tip: You can substitute whipped cream for your favorite brand of frozen whipped topping, but be sure to thaw it first before using it in the trifle.

And because this dessert knows no bounds, I urge you to modify the recipe however you like- I know I have! So far I’ve used less coconut in the filling and sprinkled more on top (pretty!); I’ve bought whipped cream, and I’ve whipped my own (store-bought is sweeter!); and I’ve even used different types of blueberries (wild ones have way more flavor!)

What’s in your trifle?!

B

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.

5 Things I Learned from Being a Bridesmaid

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I’m no Jane in 27 Dresses, but once I did have the pleasure of participating in the wedding of a good friend of mine several years ago. She was one of my first friends to get married and her wedding felt like it was a milestone in my own life, marking that transition from crazy college student to actual adult.

I have to admit at this point that I’m really not a wedding person (although I like wedding movies), but I was wildly excited to help my friend out with hers. I thought I’d be running around helping to schedule dress fittings, sample wedding cakes, and pick out favors. Kind of like in 27 Dresses. (Did I mention I used to be really obsessed with that movie?)

Being a bridesmaid, however, ended up being more like starting a job without reading the employee manual first. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, or that I didn’t have fun at her wedding, but afterwards I wrote a little piece about my experience as a bridesmaid to not only pass on some of my own knowledge to other first-time bridesmaids, but to process my own feelings on the subject.

Years (and many weddings later) I still stand by what I wrote; now that wedding season is fast approaching, I thought I’d share them again here with all of those bridesmaids-to-be that are out there- even those not obsessed with 27 Dresses.

Don’t expect to look attractive. I already knew the dress was horrible on me (as per the tradition of the bridesmaid dress) but I was still shocked when the first photos were posted online. That make-up, that hair, that general pasty awfulness? That I was not expecting.  Try and not let your ego be bruised too much. Your friend’s wedding day is more about her looking good than it is about you looking good. Years down the road, people will look at her wedding photos and forgive you for the hairstyle that makes you look like you have a giant cupcake on the top of your head. (At least, that’s what I’m hoping.)

Bridal showers are super boring. No one loves little sandwiches with the crusts cut off as much as I do, but other than that the bridal shower will more or less consist of you watching your friend open presents for two hours straight. I was happy for her, but it was kind of like spending two hours at your favorite housewares store and not buying anything. (Or maybe you torturing yourself like that!)

The bachelorette party may not be the party of a lifetime. They never show this in any of the movies (well, maybe with the exception of Bridesmaids) but you’d be surprised at how a seemingly innocent night of drinking can rapidly deterioriate into a night of screaming, crying and drama.

You’re not going to know anyone. Literally. After the ceremony you’ll be hanging out at the head table and all sorts of family and friends will be wandering up and congratulating the happy couple. They’ll smile vaguely at you because you were introduced when you entered the hall, but other than that you’ll probably be left to your own devices- and to the bottle of merlot the bride and groom are going to leave untouched because they’re too busy greeting everyone.

It’s going to make you really sad. Don’t get me wrong- I was so ridiculously happy for my friend that I found myself holding back tears several times during the wedding planning, throughout the ceremony and at the reception. No one really tells you what an emotional experience being a bridesmaid can be. It’s lovely and romantic and also bittersweet. Whether you’re decidedly single, or you’ve been married for several years, I don’t think that feeling will ever go away- that realization that you’re watching a person blossom into themselves; the sensation that they’re beginning the rest of their lives. We grow and change and get older, and having the privilege of watching a few select people grow and change along with you is both painful and wonderful all at the same time.

I know the above seems like I’m being all Negative Nancy, but fear not future bridesmaids: when all is said and done, being a bridesmaid can be a wonderful experience that can (hopefully) bring you a little bit closer to the bride-to-be and can help solidify a friendship between two people transitioning into a new phase in their lives. If you get the opportunity to try it sometime, do it!

Just never mind the ugly dress.

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Do you have a horrible bridesmaid story you’d like to share? Or even better, do you have a photo of yourself in your ugly dress that you’d like to share? (We won’t laugh, we promise!) Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or comment below with your story and we’ll commiserate.