Spring 2017 Reading List

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It feels like I’ve been cooped up inside too long; after a whole winter of being tucked away with all of my novels it’s beginning to get warm enough to go outdoors and take pleasure in some of the things that “real world” has to offer.

Don’t get me wrong-I’m not okay with a lot of the things the real world has going on these days. That’s why I think it’s important to read books about all the other beautiful, wonderful, wondrous things that still exist (though they may become harder to find).

That’s why I’m devoting this spring’s reading list to all of the delightful, intriguing non-fiction that I can find.

  1. Love! Loss! Betrayal! Ok so maybe Peter Wohlleben’s The Secret Life of Trees won’t play out like a botanical soap opera, but the idea that trees live in families and can even communicate with each other still has me full of suspense.
  2. I walk a lot and am fortunate to live in a neighborhood by the water that’s perfect for a stroll, no mater what the season. There’s always something different to look at so I’m excited to read On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to Observation by Alexandra Horowitz for more thoughts on observing the world around us from someone who loves it as much as I do.
  3. I’m more of an armchair traveler than a world adventurer but Chuck Thompson’s Smile While You’re Lying, a book promising to expose the dark side of travel industry, just might make me that much more okay with exploring other countries from the safety of a magazine.
  4. I love stories about people taking on hare-brained journeys in a last-ditch attempt at changing their lives (see here and here). I’m hoping that Wild by Cheryl Strayed is exactly that- a wild adventure.
  5. Going on a journey with Bill Bryson isn’t always a wild adventure but it is usually a hilarious one. Notes on a Small Island is one of my Dad’s favorite books so I think it’s about high time I got around to reading it.

KBwB-BFlower-50I love to read and I love sharing my favourite books with you. (For more reading inspiration, click here.) These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company. Full disclosure: I do receive a small commission from Amazon when you choose to buy a book from my site. It keeps this blog running and food in my dog’s bowl, but rest assured I’d never suggest you buy something I wouldn’t buy for myself. Enjoy!

Décor Books to Die For

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I wasn’t always that interested in decorating- sure, I liked nice things, but I guess I felt that decorating was reserved for those who had lots of spare time and money.

Then for whatever reason, I ended up with a copy of Shabby Chic by Rachel Ashwell. Everything felt so dreamy and ethereal and almost accessible (minus the incredible house) for someone like me with limited resources. I was totally hooked- frayed linens, frills and all.

Although my tastes have become a little varied over the years, I still try and hunt down her stuff every time I go into a used bookstore. Copies of her older books have become harder to find, so I was pleased when she came out with The World of Shabby Chic; I was starting to get hungry for more. What can I say? Old habits die hard.

It wasn’t until I started reading D.I.Y. blogs that I became more interested in what my own home looked like. I loved Jon and Sherry Petersik’s blog Young House Love and their subsequent book of the same name. I was so in love that I dragged my sister to the book signing when they came to Toronto and you better believe we fan-girled so hard. (I’ve already used up my fifteen minutes of fame posing for a photo with Sherry that ended up on their on blog.)

It was from their blog and other similar blogs of the time that I discovered (too late) the wonderful magazine that is Domino. Thankfully, it had since relaunched but until then I had Domino: The Book of Decorating to tide me over. Not only does it showcase some fabulous designs across a variety of styles, it’s also a great primer for those starting out on their decorating adventure. (There’s also a companion book here.)

Books are such a big part of my life that it’s hard to imagine not living with them. I think it was the type of audience author Alan Powers had in mind when writing, researching and photographing Living with Books. If you’re a bookworm too then you’ll find its gorgeous images of unconventional collections and libraries from around the world almost painful to look at. It’s probably one of my favorite books I own, period.

There are so many more decor books that I’d love to collect and peruse but limited funds and space limit my collection to only a few. While I’d love to draw inspiration from even more of the creative resources and guides out there, it’s kind of nice to restrict your purchases to the things you love so much you’ll revisit them again and again. Hopefully they can serve as a starting point for your own ideas on how to cultivate a home that is unique to you and your style.

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I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company. Full disclosure: I do receive a small commission from Amazon when you choose to buy from my site. It keeps this blog running and food in my dog’s bowl, but rest assured I would never suggest you buy something I wouldn’t buy for myself. Enjoy!

If you’ve been bitten by the decorating bug, I may have something for that bite: click here for a quick tutorial on choosing the right paint color, here for the most productive ways to organize an office, and here for other projects and tips on keeping your home happy and organized.

It Ain’t Easy Cleaning Green

“How do you find the time?”

“Doesn’t it cost more?”

“Why would you be bothered?”

These are some of the questions I get asked about my (mostly) eco-friendly cleaning routine. Some people seem surprised that this is important to me which puzzles me, because I can’t understand why taking care of our environment isn’t important to all of us.

Don’t worry- I’m not here as an ecological warrior, but as a blogger obsessed with trying to make her life more efficient and productive. I can tell you with confidence that making my cleaning routine greener has not been a waste of time or effort-if anything, it’s streamlined things even more.

Of course, sticking to a regular cleaning routine helps me avoid crazy deep cleaning sessions that in the long run saves me time and cuts down on the amount of cleaning products I use. That translates into more me-time, and more moolah in my pocket. Researching the best ways to clean has also spared me the extra time and effort I would have normally put into tackling the same spot over and over again.

Cutting down on the number of products that I use around my home has also saved me time, effort and money. You honestly don’t need twelve different cleansers for each individual room. Believe me, your cupboards will thank you too.

Making the switch to more eco-friendly cleaning materials has been pretty painless as well. In fact, I even make some myself. Some people may think making your own cleaning products is a drag, but you’d be surprised as how a few simple ingredients can go a long way. The few extra minutes it takes to mix up some new supplies is a trade-off for the money it saves you, plus it rids your home of nasty-smelling, potentially hazardous chemicals.

I still use paper towels to help out with the really heavy duty messes (keep in mind, I have a dog!) but I love using my reusable cloths and rags for all of my other cleaning needs. My mop heads are reusable as well, so everything gets dumped in the machine for a heavy-duty wash, separate from all of my clothes and nicer household items. They come out fresh and clean without me having to lift a finger (other than pushing some buttons).

But honestly? One of the greenest practices I’ve embraced is learning to live with the dirt a little bit. I always have people and dogs coming in and out of my place so over time I’ve come to accept the fact that it’s fruitless to expect the house to be perfect all of the time. I would end up spending all of my free time cleaning my home instead of enjoying it, and my time with guests would be ruined by my constant cleaning.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t clean your house, but lowering your expectations from hospital-clean to mostly clean saves you time, money, electricity and effort. Dare I say it? It also might make you a little bit happier.

KBwB-BFlower-50What are some of the ways you’ve adopted an eco-friendly approach to your cleaning routine? Let’s care for our houses and environments by sharing our tips with each other in the comment box below. Or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and I may include your thoughts in a future post!

The approach of spring has got me in the mood to chat about all things housecleaning all week long. If you’re feeling the same way, may I suggest this post, this post, this post, and this post for more ideas on how to refresh your home in time for the new season. If you’re feeling ambitious, click here or here on ways to get your household more organized.