Apartment Therapy, Week 1: Buy Flowers and Cook a Meal

Apartment Therapy, the book, recommends two easy ways to make your not-so-perfect apartment, and matching life, feel newly cozy. Here’s how to do them both

Credit: Back to the Cutting Board

Simple as it looks, homemade lentil soup is good for the home, and the soul

Two easy apartment therapy tips to turn your house into a home.

Delving deeper into my copy of Apartment Therapy, author Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan’s guide to transforming your life by fixing your space (also a blog), has me almost ready to take the plunge. Guests are visiting this summer, there’s a relative abundance of free time and so the eight-week cure seems doable — nearly.

The Eight-Week Apartment Cure

Gillingham-Ryan warns readers not to start the process until they’re ready to commit, and with other failed projects littering my desk, I’m understandably wary of going in half-baked. There are two recommendations for week one, though, that I’m ready to start on right away. Coincidentally, they’re the quickest and easiest ways I know to enjoy a temporary boost in mental wellbeing.

Two Ways to Instantly Brighten and Warm Your Home

  1. Buy Flowers
    Apartment Therapy’s first easy recommendation: buy flowers. Vancouver’s street-stall offerings have recently blossomed, pardon the pun, and with spring tulips coming in at a big $2 a bunch there’s no excuse not to have them. If your town hasn’t been likewise blessed or when those pall, a single interesting sprig can lighten a whole room: I currently have an imposing stem of brilliant fuchsia gladioli on dining-room display. The book’s injunction to buy flowers every week has inspired me. I’ve always tried to keep blooms on hand, but easily allowed a lack of  time or other priorities to derail my intention. No longer. I’m recommitting to the joy of fresh flowers. If your space, whether home or head, isn’t everything you would like it to be, perhaps it’s time to do likewise.
  2. Make a Home-cooked Meal
    Many of us no longer use our kitchens for much more than plating the takeout. Apartment Therapy reminds us there’s a soul to be found in a space where cooking happens, and recommends readers cook a meal at home at the start of their eight-week fix. The book’s urging reminded me that when I come home from a trip and need to get grounded, I turn to this recipe. Actually, calling it a recipe is a bit grandiose, since if you don’t count the oil and seasonings you’re using four ingredients.

Lentil Soup: the Easiest Soup in the World

I’ve been cooking this soup since university, but nobody in my family liked it until we spent some months in Japan, where Western home-cooked meals were suddenly the height of exoticism. Meat makes it even better: I recommend Harvest brand farmer’s sausage, sold locally. I like this soup for four reasons. It costs pennies, is infinitely mutable, is practically foolproof, and even if your larder is bare, you probably still have the ingredients on hand.


  • oil
  • onion
  • bay leaf and/or thyme (optional)
  • dried brown lentils
  • chicken bullion cube or chicken broth
  • carrot
  • parsley
  • salt, pepper, and hot sauce


  1. Sauté onions and spices in oil.
  2. Add lentils, water, and bullion cube or broth (use roughly two and a half times as much liquid as lentils – check and add more if they soak it all up during cooking.)
  3. Simmer until lentils soften.
  4. Add chopped carrots; cook until tender.
  5. Add a bunch of minced parsley, season to taste, and serve.