Tag Archives: diy

Balcony Transformation

So it snowed yesterday, I saw plenty of snowflakes falling on my balcony. I despise winter, so to protest, I will reminisce about SUMMER! When it’s warm out, I like to spend every minute outdoors, so I did a little DIYing. My studio apartment has a standard, boxy concrete balcony that was ugly and unappealing. This House & Home makeover video inspired me to transform it into a place I’d want to hang out.

Once I was finished, it was like I added a room to my tiny apartment. I had coffee out there every morning, lied down and read on Sunday afternoons, hosted friends for drinks and made the most of the few short months of warm weather.

Like the House & Home designers, I bought almost everything at Ikea, except the pillows and the lanterns, which are from Homesense, and the carpet, which was on sale at Home Depot.

I salvaged an old wicker chair from my parents’ house, but the outdated color didn’t go with my decor, so I spray painted it a shiny black.

I tied down the (fake) plants with old twine, to keep them from falling over when it’s very windy.

Finally, I used sticky tack to attach the fabric pieces to the walls of the balcony, to keep them from flapping around.


The whole project cost less than 500$, and most of these items can be reused in the future. Because I know I’m not going to live in this apartment forever, I try to only buy things I can give a second life to.

Anyone can transform their balcony, and I encourage you fellow city dwellers to do it next summer, especially if you have a small apartment. It gives you a little bit of outdoors in the heart of the city. I don’t know how I lived without it.

Alas, with the arrival of snow, I have taken all the small things inside, but I still need to cover the chairs. I am eagerly anticipating the day I haul everything back outside. Happy winter, everyone.

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Coffee Shop Cheats: Scones

Let’s talk about scones to kick off the series. I adore scones, god forbid I walk into a Second Cup on an empty stomach. I’ve tried to save money lately and although I’m not sure it’s working, I have good intentions. I haven’t spent more than 5$ in a coffee shop all month, which is a considerable improvement.

As it turns out, scones are really easy to bake. For me, a recipe that uses only one bowl, 1 utensil + your hands, and that takes less than 10 minutes to throw together, is golden.

Lovely Blackberry Scones

Make plain vanilla scones and add whatever fresh or frozen fruit you have on hand. At my local grocery store, they give you a small gift if your bill is $50+ (hey big spendah!). This week I received some fresh blackberries. Having no idea what to do with them, I froze them. This is pretty much the student reflex to any food you can’t cope with. Extra bread? Freeze it! Pasta? Freeze it! Extra broccoli? Freeze it. I digress.

Also, though usually recipes call for a specific milk fat content, I only stock skim milk in my fridge. It will do just fine.

Recipe Adapted for Student Kitchens. Original from Baking Bites.

Servings: 8 scones

Time: 10-15 min active (depending on how many cups of coffee you had today), about 40 min total.

2cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 400 deg C. Prepare a pan with something non-stick (grease, parchment paper, etc).
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Use your fingers to blend the butter into the flour mixture until it feels like sand. Go nuts here, it’s like free therapy.
Combine milk and vanilla, add to flour mixture, stir to form dough. Stir in berries.
Form a disk of dough 3/4 inch thick ( I do this directly on the pan). Cut into 8 wedges.
Bake 20min.

If you oven sucks as much as mine does, rotate the pan after 10min.

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