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.


What People Read in the Waiting Room


The medical clinic where I work is very busy and the waiting room gets crowded pretty quickly with patients and their loved ones.

There’s a TV with the news blaring 24/7, and a teetering magazine rack, which is pretty standard entertainment for a waiting room. However, because I am a literary snoop, I’m way more interested in the books my patients are reading.

A couple of my co-workers and I love to read too, so we’re always swapping suggestions. I vividly remember a dog-eared copy of 50 Shades of Grey making its way around the reception desk and us giggling like mad every time it made an appearance. It made us giggle even harder whenever we spotted a patient trying to read the same book, almost always covertly, with the spine bearing the title concealed firmly in their lap. (We have since made our way through other, much more scandalous novels. Lucy of the chocolate chocolate cake fame is real expert in bodice-rippers.)

Of course you spot a lot of mystery and crime novels as well, of all flavors, and sometimes if the book is popular enough you’ll see its translated counterpart , which is always a blast, especially if the language doesn’t use characters we recognize in English.

My favorite waiting room book story, however, took place a few weeks ago when a patient told me she was reading Annabel by Kathleen Winter, a book that I had loaned out to numerous friends and for whatever reason had never read myself. It had been sitting on my shelf for years, untouched.

After my fit of sputtering and waving my hands wildly subsided, I explained the coincidence to her. She highly recommended that I read it and offered to chat more about it on her next visit.

At this point one of our specialists had come of out of the exam room and seen my explosion. When she found out which book we were talking about it, she exploded as well. (Ok, not really. She was excited, just not at my level.) It turns out she too owned the book and had abandoned it much in the same way I had.

“Read it!” the patient encouraged us. “Tell me how far along you are when I come back next week. There’s no way you’ll be finished by then.”

The specialist and I looked at each other. Challenge accepted. Both of our copies made an appearance at the office the very next day and by the time the patient came back for her follow-up appointment, we were ready and waiting. What followed was a wonderful, lively discussion, which happens so infrequently in the waiting room that it felt like a rare treat. It was so nice to form a bond with people at work over a shared interest of something medical (read: nasty). Now this patient brings the specialist and I book recommendations on a regular basis, and the opportunity to stop and chat feels like finding a quiet oasis in an otherwise busy place. You can’t put that feeling into a pill.

KBwB-BFlower-50Ever creeped someone reading while in the waiting room? On the bus? Standing in line? We would probably be friends in real life. Let’s be friends on Goodreads, or you can comment on any of my book posts here or below, and let me know what’s going on in your literary life.

Also, apologies to Kathleen Winter for using her book as an example. I deeply regret leaving your book unread on my shelf for years, especially when it was nominated for the Giller Prize. It was a beautiful book and it deserved the nomination! If you are interested in reading it as well, I get a small kickback if you decide to purchase it through my Amazon store. It helps keep food in my dog’s bowl!

Welcome to My Bookshelf

B's Bookshelf

I’ve long since given up on the idea of my bookshelves nearing perfection; every few months it seems like I’m rearranging the contents obsessively, albeit lovingly.

I used to think that books were just things to be amassed and collected but as my interests have waxed and waned over the years my library has shrunk and grown as well.

Which books do I choose to populate my bookshelves? Just about everything. As evidenced here, here, here and here (and one more time here) I have fairly eclectic tastes. And that’s just a small sampling. A few years back my sister introduced me to Goodreads as a way of tracking all the hundreds of books I’ve read throughout the years and to amass all of the titles on my impossibly long to-read lists. I still use it to track my reading activity religiously.

I’m fascinated with other people’s bookshelves, too. It’s not unusual to find me hiding out a party snooping other people’s collections. I can’t help it; I think one’s choice of reading material reflects highly on the type of person one is. By this logic my crowded bookshelf would suggest a person who’s kind of all over the place- and this representation wouldn’t be entirely wrong.

In the meantime, I’ve come to except my bookshelves as kind of a living, breathing organism that needs attention and care. They may seem cluttered and confusing to some people, but for me- for now- they’re just right.


I’d love to take a sneak peek at some of your bookshelves. What changes have you made to it recently? Which changes do you refuse to make? Comment below or shoot me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. Looking for more book musings? Look no further than here.