How to add a harp to a lamp

My thrift store lamp that you met on Friday had a lot of things going for it, especially after its spray paint makeover. However, there was one thing missing that I didn’t notice until the very end: the harp.

The harp is the little bracket that goes around the light bulb and holds the lampshade.

I admit, I was a little intimidated by the prospect of installing a harp. I hear about a lot of people rewiring lamps, but I’ve never attempted that myself. It turns out it’s not hard. In fact, I just started trying to take the lamp apart and was able to figure it out pretty much on my own.

Step one was to remove the socket from the lamp base. It just unscrewed, and the cord was loose enough that I was able to pull it out a little bit.

Removing the socket from a lamp

The wire was still buried deep in the socket, so I started trying to figure out how to access it. A close examination revealed a seam in the middle of the socket. You can see it partially opened here.

Removing the socket from a lamp

The socket easily unscrewed, and I could see where the wires attached to two screws. I could also see a really intimidating knot. Gulp.

Taking apart a lamp socket

A couple of turns loosened the screws enough to unhook the wires. Quick tip: I marked which wire went to which screw (one’s gold and one’s silver) by straightening the gold one and leaving the silver one hooked.

Taking apart a lamp socket

I was really, really hoping to not untie that knot, but in order to remove the bottom part of the socket–never mind putting on the harp–I had to. With the knot untied, the socket easily slid off and the harp bracket easily slid on.

How to add a harp to a lamp

After that, it was a (relatively) easy process of reassembling the socket. I slid the bottom part of the socket back into place. I retied the knot. (Okay, this was a bit complicated.) It turns out the knot is called an underwriters knot. I watched this animation a few times as I was tying my own knot. I hooked the wires back over their screws, and then screwed everything back together. I had a reassembled lamp that now included the bottom part of the harp.

How to add a harp to a lamp

The upper part of the harp slid onto the bottom bracket and I gave myself a congratulatory pat on the back.

How to add a harp to a lamp

And then I had to choose a lampshade. Last week I asked for your input, white or grey. So what did I end up choosing?

I went with the grey. It was pretty much the universal favourite last week, and I decided that I liked its flared shape best.

Purple lamp with flared grey shade

And another detail on the basement comes together. Slowly but surely I will finish this space.

Have you ever rewired a lamp? What DIY projects do you find intimidating?

Lamp makeover

November is turning into lighting month over here. Last week was the dining room chandelier and the basement chandelier. This week I have a new lamp to show you.

If you think back to February, you might recall that I posted about struggling to find a lamp that I liked for the end of the couch in the basement. Well, things move like lightning over here–lightning I tell you–because just 9 months later I’m ready to show you my solution.

Lamp makeover before

Ummm… not quite.

A thrifted lamp was my starting point. It was the right height. I liked the shape. The base wouldn’t take up a whole lot of space on our tiny end table.

I took care of the brass with the same shiny silver spray paint that I used on the original dining room chandelier.

Lamp makeover

As much as I liked the turquoise colour, I was not a fan of the flowers. So everything got a coat of deep purple spray paint.

Purple lamp



I like having pops of colour in the basement, and purple is a colour I’ve not used yet.

Turns out the purple works. I really like how it looks in the basement.

But I have a dilemma.

What lampshade looks best? (Ignore the shiny cellophane wrapping.)

I have a (slightly crooked) grey option.

Grey lampshade

Or a white option.

White lampshade

What’s your vote?

Christmas card display

It’s Thanksgiving this week for my American readers, but as she celebrates Sarah in Illinois is already looking ahead to Christmas. Timely, as we’re exactly one month away from Christmas. Yipes! Sarah is back today to share a cute DIY for displaying Christmas cards.

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is checking the mail box for Christmas cards. I love sending and receiving cards and putting them on display. However, I have never really had a way to display them that looked nice.

This year I decided to turn to Pinterest to come up with a plan. There were so many cute ideas, but I did not use one specific image as my inspiration. I searched for “Christmas card holder” and used an idea from here and a feature from there, and this is what I came up with:

Christmas card display

I started by making a frame out of simple 1×2. I decided I wanted the inside of my frame to be about 16×20 inches, but that measurement could easily be adjusted to any size.

I cut my 1×2 at a 45 degree angle making sure that the right and left side were exactly the same length and did the same for the top and bottom. That way the frame would be square.

Cutting 1x2s on a mitre saw

The trickiest part of the whole project was nailing the frame together. Because I am stubborn, I didn’t ask for help. But having someone to help hold the pieces would be easier. Using screws would also have been easier, but I didn’t want the screw heads to show.

At this point, I grabbed some stain that we had sitting around and gave it a good coat and wiped off the excess. Many of the inspiration pictures that I was looking at used chicken wire as the background, but I felt the chicken wire was too “country” for my taste so I planned to use hardware cloth.

I found these little bitty clothes pins to use to hang the cards on the wire.

Mini clothespins

They came as bare wood, so I used the same stain as I did for the frame to give them a little interest. I used tin snips to cut the hardware cloth to size and then stapled it to the back of the frame.

Hardware cloth stapled to a wood frame

For the pennants, I had to do some experimenting. I used quarter-inch plywood and cut it in a strip 2.5 inches wide. Then I had to cut it into the pennant shape. But I didn’t know what angle that should be. So I just tried until I liked the way it looked.

I set my miter at 45 degrees, and I didn’t like that angle, so I changed it to 30 degrees. That was better, but I still felt it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. The next pre-marked measurement on my saw was 22.5 degrees, so I tried that and thought it looked just right!

Cutting penants on a mitre saw

After I cut several pennants, I used a little drill bit to put holes in the top to string some jute through.

Drilling holes

But before I strung them up I painted with a little craft acrylic paint. All that was left was to hang them at the top of the frame. I did that by tying the string to the back of the frame on the hardware cloth.

My frame is now hung on the wall and ready for the first card to come in the mail!

Christmas card display

What a cute display, Sarah. It’s just country enough, in my opinion. To see what else is inspiring Sarah, follow her on Pinterest.

I hope that Sarah and all my other American readers have a great Thanksgiving.

Garden wrap-up

I’m calling the garden done for the year. I didn’t do quite as much as I wanted (edging it and putting in some raised beds around the perimeter), but I’m satisfied with where we ended up.

Matt and I spread manure (and a lot of straw) over the whole 2,000+ square feet. We couldn’t get Fairfield, the rototiller, going, and we suspected the soil might be too wet and sticky for him anyways.

So Matt drained the gas from the tiller, and we’ll revisit the cultivating in the spring. Let’s just say that for now we’re embracing the no-till philosophy.

Garden covered with straw

This post should perhaps not be called a wrap-up, as for the first time the garden is unwrapped… pretty much.

Since spring, half the garden has been covered by a tarp and a section of carpet. Matt and I finally lifted them to spread the manure.

The coverings did a great job of killing the weeds. We have one little corner that escaped the tarp, so we moved the carpet over that patch… another thing to revisit next spring.

Carpet covering a corner of the garden

In fact, we were so impressed by how effective the tarp method is that we moved the tarp around to the back of the house where I want to tame the “jungle.”

Here’s the view from last summer:

Jungle of weeds behind the house

And here’s the view now from the roof. Trust that this isn’t a garbage bag weighted down with bits of gravel. That’s the whole area behind the house covered with a very large tarp.

Tarp covering the backyard

But that’s for next year. For now, look at the garden.

Manure in the garden

Oops. Sorry that’s horse poop in the garden.

Let’s see… what can I show you beside more manure.

We discovered four more acorn squash–just what we need. Anyone want some squash?

Acorn squash

I think we finished gardening season just in time. As of yesterday morning, the farm was covered with our first dusting of snow.

Garden dusted with snow

How did you spend your weekend? Have you seen any snow yet where you are? Will you?

Great gardening weekend, fall edition

We’re basically a month away from winter. Just enough time to squeeze in another weekend of work in the garden.

Never mind that winter is forecast to arrive on Saturday with our first snowfall of any substance.

Weekend weather

Back at the start of October, I said that I had four things I wanted to do in the garden before winter:

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Put in raised beds
  • Spread manure

I’ve still not made great progress on any of these… except for one.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working my way through the barn, emptying the stalls of their manure. As of this morning, the score stands at 10 stalls done, 4 to go.

Cleaning out the stalls in the barn

The plan for the weekend is to clean out the remaining 4 stalls, and then Matt has pledged to till the manure into the garden (if the snow melts).

I’d still love to tackle the other items on my to-do list, but I’m willing to call this it for the year… maybe.

I’ll see how much snow we get.

What’s your plan for the weekend? What’s the forecast where you are? Have you seen any snow yet this year? What outside work are you trying to squeeze in before winter starts?

Dining room chandelier reborn

I’m thinking I may have been a little hard on our old dining room light in my last post. I may have given you the impression that I hated its copper-wired, frosted-glass, brushed-nickel guts.

That’s not entirely the case.

I just hated them in the dining room.

Ugly dining room chandelier

I actually thought the light might work in the basement.

We’ve had one persistent pigtail hanging around in the basement since we finished the reno down there (almost, ahem, two years ago, ahem). I always have a hard time finding lighting that I like. But then it occurred to me that with a little bit of help, the dining room light might work just fine.

The help came in the form of bright silver spray paint.

Rustoleum metallic finish

I spy with my little eye a chandelier hanging in a tree (and a finial stuck on a stick).

Spray painting a chandelier

I’ve used bright polished silver lighting in other areas of the basement, so I wanted to stick with that theme. The spray paint isn’t quite as shiny as I’d like, but it’s close.

I’ve not yet found a way to photograph the basement that doesn’t come out with it looking horrendous. So just trust that this light is an improvement over the pigtail, okay?

Basement chandelier

Focus on the giant pink ape playing crokinole under the new chandelier.

Basement chandelier

This chandelier is a win on two fronts:

  1. It came in well under my $100 lighting budget.
  2. Our house is now pigtail free–for a few weeks at least.

Have you ever made over a light fixture? What’s your favourite metal finish?

Rustic industrial chandelier for the dining room

Hundreds–nay, thousands–of lighting sins are committed everyday all around the world. There are boob lights, too-plentiful potlights, green glowing fluourescent lights, tragic ceiling fans… several of which we have in our own house.

And then there’s this. The original chandelier in our dining room.

Ugly dining room chandelier

At first glance, it may not seem overly offensive. However, let me enumerate its sins:

  1. The finish was brushed, which is my least favourite metal finish ever.
  2. Only one out of its three bulbs was working (okay, this is more our fault than the light fixture’s).
  3. Its design (is this 1990s?) was not at all a fit for our country setting.

You all know I’ve been trying to make this house look a little more farmy. So I’ve been casually on the hunt for a new light fixture.

As usual, it had to fall below my $100 threshold (applies to both light fixtures and chairs–yes, I’m that cheap), and it had to be a bit farmy.

I struck gold (or rather black) at Rona one evening. The chandelier was light and open. It was large enough to work in the vaulted ceiling in our good size dining room. It was slightly industrial, slightly rustic.

Industrial rustic chandelier

And it was on sale. Serious sale. As in it was the last one in the store and it had to be sold. As in it was finally in my price range. Merry Christmas to me!

Discounted chandelier price tag

The staff member in the lighting department took it out of the display–and took out the expensive Edison bulbs it had been styled with. I bought cheap chandelier bulbs and carted everything home.

After finally installing it, I could not be happier. It’s a perfect fit for our dining room and our country setting.

Industrial rustic chandelier

Industrial rustic chandelier

Industrial rustic chandelier

No more lighting penance for me.

What’s the biggest lighting sin in your opinion? Are you committing any lighting sins at your house? What’s the best deal you’ve ever found on a light fixture?

Odds and sods

Mantel decorated for Christmas

Whew. I am glad it’s Friday–even if it is Friday the 13th. I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up all week.

It won’t be a quiet weekend for us, but it will be a good one.

We’re hosting our annual Christmas party for the extended family on Matt’s Mom’s side. It’s a little earlier than usual, but no one seems to mind. I’m glad that we’re all able to get together. It means a lot to us that Matt and I are able to keep this tradition going.

Here’s what else is happening in our lives these days:

  • Thanks to our early Christmas party and my MIL’s help last weekend, our house is already partially decorated. (That’s our mantel up above.)
  • The fall One Room Challenge came to an end this week. I did and I didn’t miss participating this time around. I’ve loved following along with many of the makeovers. Part of my weekend plans is to take some time to click through all of the amazing rooms from both the guest participants and the “official” bloggers.
  • Ashley and Adam at Domestic Imperfection are building a new house. I feel like their plan is really unique–not cookie cutter at all–and they’re making really cool choices for their family.
  • We’re on the hunt for a new freezer. My only criteria is I want an upright and as big as (reasonably) possible–ideally 20 or more cubic feet. Do you have any wisdom to share?

And that’s all I’ve got, folks. I think it’s time to call it a week.

How did your week go? What are your plans for the weekend?

Brody and Treu

I’m starting off the week with a post from Sarah in Illinois. Today, she’s introducing us to her two dogs. You all know how much I love our Baxter, so I’m very happy to get to know Sarah’s two furry fellows.

Treu and Brody looking out the window

I have really struggled with coming up with something to write about this week. I feel like we are in the eye of the storm here. The hustle and bustle of harvest is over. Steve comes home at regular hours again since all the crops are in, and he has all of his ground work done. But I am fully aware of how busy we will be in just a couple weeks. Between both of our families, my work party and the kids’ schedules we will have something to do every weekend in December.

This weekend we took advantage of the fact that we still have great weather here. We mowed the yard for the last time, brought in all outdoor decor, the grill and garden hoses so they don’t get damaged when it starts to freeze. We even hung Christmas lights on the house. However we won’t light them for a couple weeks.

I don’t want to rush the holidays at all, so we are just relaxing and enjoying the calm. Of course, that doesn’t make a very interesting blog post. When I said aloud that I didn’t know what to write, Steve’s daughter said that I should write about our pets. So this week I will introduce our dogs.

Brody the chocolate lab


Brody is Steve’s 10 year old chocolate lab. Brody has a very interesting background. He is retired from the US Air Force! We don’t know a lot about his time in the Armed Forces, but we know he was stationed in Alaska.

Brody has multiple health issues, and it makes us wonder what he has seen and what type of things he has been exposed to. About two years ago he started losing his eyesight and he is now completely blind. But that doesn’t stop him from getting around the house and finding his chew toy to bring to us.

He is very talkative. I think because he is blind he struggles with not knowing exactly where we are sometimes and he “yells” at us, which is a harsh bark. We laugh because he doesn’t seem to need anything; I think he just wants to know where we are.

Treu the German Shepherd


Treu is my 12 year old German Shepherd. I got Treu when he was 6 weeks old. He is an outside dog, but there were many times when I lived alone that I would bring him in with me to keep me company or to make me feel safe.

When we moved in with Steve, Treu got a really expansive pen with shade trees and access to his own section of a barn. Besides his foam bed and heated water bowl he has a “deck” that Steve built and he spends a lot of time laying out on it.

And of course any time we are out in the yard where we can watch him, he has free reign.

Treu is starting to show some hip problems that are slowing him down. However, I don’t think he knows that his hips are failing. He still tries to run and chase the cats. It’s just his legs don’t always get the message.

Both of our dogs are getting up there in age. We joke about how high maintenance they are. We are constantly buying special food, medicine, supplements, and vet visits. But they are a part of our family. They are waiting on us when we get home with smiling faces and a wagging tail. And we treasure every moment that we have with them.

I know exactly where you’re coming from, Sarah. I can tell Brody and Treu are well-loved. Brody’s history is so neat. I had no idea you could adopt a dog after his tour of duty.