How to reuse old carpet

A few weeks ago you caught a glimpse of our redone basement. We put it back together after our waterproofing contractors finished their work.

Wall repaired after waterproofing

Fortunately, the carpet and underpad were not damaged  by the leaks, so we were able to reuse them. (Although they could use a good cleaning).

Our contractors had folded the carpet back out of the way while they were doing their work.


After giving everything–the carpet, the underpad, the concrete–a really good vacuum we were able to unfold the underpad and lay it back down over the concrete. The vacuum is critical. You don’t want to discover any bumps under your carpet once you’re finished installing it, so make sure everything is really clean and smooth.

How to reuse old carpet

The next step was to install new tackstrips, also known as smoothedge. The tackstrips are what hold the carpet in place. The underpad provides the guide of where to install the strip. Tackstrips come in two different versions–one for wood subfloor and one for concrete. Make sure you buy the right type for your floor.

Line the tackstrip up with the edge of the underpad with the little spikes pointing in towards the wall. Hammer the small nails in the tack strip into your floor. With our new concrete from the waterproofing, we found the nails did not want to go in. We ended up gluing the tackstrips to the concrete with construction adhesive.

Installing carpet tack strip

Once the glue was set, we unfolded the carpet and laid it over the tack strips. It’s important to stretch your carpet tightly. For this, you need a carpet kicker. I’ll share how you can make your own kicker in an upcoming post.

The idea is you lay your kicker on the carpet and using your knee you kick the carpet towards the wall. While the carpet is stretched tight, run your hands over the edge to press it onto the tack strip. You should feel the carpet catch on the spikes. As you get towards the corner, kick on a bit of a diagonal to push the carpet towards both walls.

How to reuse old carpet

You’ll notice that we installed the carpet before we put the baseboard back on. Usually you will have baseboard or trim in place already. In those spots, use a chisel to tuck the carpet in under the trim. (You can see some of the water damage we have on the base of the door trim. It has since been covered with fresh paint.)

How to reuse old carpet

And that’s all there is to it. I’m so grateful that we were able to reuse the carpet. This carpet goes through the whole basement, so redoing this one area would not have been an option. Plus installing it ourselves was a quick and easy DIY.

Have you ever installed carpet yourself?




Making more ‘mums

Almost exactly a year ago Sarah in Illinois wrote a post about sealing her deck, and she included a photo of the very impressive chrysanthemums that were growing on either side of the deck stairs. A year later, they’re even more impressive–and they’ve multiplied. Read on to learn about how Sarah successfully split her mums.

Last fall I shared a picture of my mums. I was really proud of them. They were so full and added so much color to our deck.

Then this spring Julia and I had a garden challenge. One of the projects I checked off my list was to divide my mums.

I simply dug them up out of the ground, divided them into a few same-sized clumps and planted them back into the ground around our deck.

That is it. That is all I did.

Then this is what happened.

I know. I am as impressed as you are.

I have had neighbors stop and ask me what my secret is. But all I can say is, I watered them for the first week or two after I transplanted them. That’s it. No fertilizer. No secret concoction. I didn’t trim them back or even sing to them! I just sat back and let them go.

That’s my kind of gardening.

Holy chrysanthemums, Sarah! Those are gorgeous. I’ve heard that some plants do better after splitting, and this seems to definitely be the case for your mums. My frugal heart also loves that you now have six huge plants and didn’t have to spend any extra money.

Summer to-dos done

Is anyone else mourning the passing of summer like I am? While it seems like summer ends with Labour Day, I’ve been holding on to my favourite season. However, as of yesterday, I can no longer pretend. Fall is officially here.

Three months ago, I posted four projects that I was hoping to accomplish over the summer. You know how I like to hold myself accountable. So let’s see how I did.

Project #1: Build a closet in the basement

Done. This one felt so easy it surprised me. Doing the drywall in the basement the first time around was a massive job. I was not looking forward to doing any drywall at any time ever again. However, this time around I was doing such small areas that it seemed like it took next to no time to put on a coat of paste.

This area has given Matt a tonne of extra storage, and the basement is (almost) tidy and organized. I’m only sharing a progress shot because the closet holds Matt’s stuff and I like to give him his privacy. But trust that it is done.

Drywalling the laundry room

Project #2: Sand scrabble tiles

Done. I can’t wait to share these with all of you. Sanding 16 wood tiles was the definition of not fun DIY. However, the end product is (spoiler alert) awesome.

Weekend craft project underway

A photo posted by Julia (@juliaon129acres) on


Project #3: Strip paint off the guest room bed

Done. Okay I’m calling this one done, but it’s more like I gave up halfway through. The metal underneath the drippy, chippy spraypaint is not in good shape. So after stripping the headboard and side rails I decided to skip the footboard and just repaint everything. I’ve just been waiting for the weather to cool down enough to be able to paint (not a project for the summer to-do list).

Stripping paint off a vintage metal bedframe

Maybe project #4: Makeover office cabinet

Not done. This was a maybe project from the beginning, so I don’t feel bad about not finishing it. Although I do really, really, really want to put my office together.

Perhaps a project for the fall to-do list…

However, I’m still in denial about it being fall, so I’m not prepared to write a list quite yet.

How are you feeling about the changing seasons? What did you accomplish this summer? Are you thinking about fall to-dos yet?





How we installed a waterline for the vegetable garden

A big to-do on the garden task list is now done. We finally have a hose at the garden… and I’m so happy to cross this one off the list.

Hose in the vegetable garden

With the lack of rain we had this summer, we watered the garden a lot. However, the closest hose was at the driveshed. That was three hose-lengths away. I had screwed the hoses together back in the spring, and most of the time we kept them laid out across the yard. But any time I had to wind them up (like every time we cut the grass) it was a heavy haul.

Adding a tap at the garden was one of my Home Goals 2016. I already shared a bit of the misery that was digging the trench from the driveshed to the garden (ground so hard, summer so hot, rocks and roots so many, garden so, so, so far away).

Trenching a waterline to the garden

When I measured the trench, it came out a bit more than 100 feet. I spent a week visiting various home improvement stores and then specialty plumbing suppliers trying to find someone who would sell me 110 feet of irrigation pipe. All I could find was 100-foot or 400-foot coils. Ugh.

I bought 100 feet and crossed my fingers that we could splice on a small extra piece we had at the farm already and still make it to the garden.

But it turned out I was worried for nothing. When Matt and I unrolled the pipe and laid it in the trench, it easily reached the garden. Thank goodness for small wins.

The other thing I was worried about was our plumbing abilities. I had a plan, but I wasn’t sure if it was actually going to work.

We dug down to the waterline that ran to the hose at the driveshed. After turning off the water, I took a deep breath and cut through the waterline with the hacksaw. So much for my brand new work gloves.

Cutting a waterline with a hacksaw

Then we inserted a T. A note about these connections. They fit super, super tightly. We boiled the kettle and then Matt poured the hot water over the pipe and that softened the plastic enough that I was able to wedge the fitting into place. The clamps on either side provide extra insurance to hold everything together and prevent leaks

Adding a T connection on a waterline

From there, it was easy to connect our new 100 feet of pipe.

Running a waterline for a garden hose

At the garden, the pipe sneaks under the brick threshold at the gate and up the post. Look how much pipe we had. Exactly the perfect length. And look at the water flowing. We did it! And there are no leaks! Big wins all around!

Adding a hose at the vegetable garden

Backfilling the trench was much easier than digging it out. Wiley helped which was huge.

Backfilling the trench with the tractor

Baxter did not help. In fact he staged a sit-in (lie-in) to protest when Matt started to put the sod back down. “Dirt is good, dude.”

Baxter lying in the dirt

The finishing touches were clamping the waterline to the fence post and then installing a hose hanger.

Rather than a typical hanger, I wanted to try a metal bucket. I’ve seen a few other people do this, and I figured it would give us a place to stash nozzles or maybe even some garden tools.

Again, I spent some time running around to various stores trying to find the perfect bucket. Then I remembered a rusty old canning pot–one of our many gifts from previous owners. I knew there was a reason I didn’t throw that out.

I drilled a couple of holes in the bottom and then bolted it to the fence.

Using a pot as a hose hanger

Then I dragged the hose out to the garden one final time (except for seasonal shutdown, but don’t burst my bubble, okay?) and coiled it up.

Hose in the vegetable garden

Such a great addition to the garden. And this is actually our final to-do on our garden to-do list. This year has been all about adding the structure (raised beds, trellises, perennials) and functionality (gate, trellises, hose) to the garden. I think all of this is going to make a huuuuge difference next year.

The other thing that is going to make a huge difference–and that we have yet to do–is clean up. We have a whooooole bunch of weeds that I want out of there before winter sets in. That’s still a few weeks away though, as harvest is still going strong.


How is your garden growing? Does plumbing make anyone else anxious? How do you handle irrigation in your garden?









I’ve come to associate dragonflies with the farm.

I loved examining this specimen that I found yesterday.


I just wish I’d been able to see him flying around the farm.

Do you associate any animal, bird or insect with your home?

Garden Olympics in Illinois

Today’s post from Sarah in Illinois further solidified my belief that we’re completely kindred spirits. Obviously, Sarah and I both love our gardens. I realized today that we also both love the Olympics. Sarah has come up with a really clever, Olympic-esque way of summarizing her garden’s performance this year. Let the medal ceremonies begin.

Our garden is just about done for the year. We currently only have two things still growing: peppers and pumpkins. In a future post I will go over some of the ways that I am preparing for next year, but for now I will review this year.

I started out with such high aspirations for our garden. And it’s a good idea to set your goals high, but when I look back over the year I need to be realistic with my results. I need to focus on what went well and not what didn’t. So I am going to go over the results in the spirit of the Olympics and start with my gold medal winners.

Gold medals

Sugar Snap Peas – With a mild spring and plenty of rain, I had a much bigger harvest than normal and I even still have some in my freezer.

Spaghetti Squash – I gave away several, I baked a few, froze some and I still have more to use up.

Kale – I couldn’t keep up with my Kale this year. I didn’t know what to expect when starting it from seed indoors and transplanting it, but it could not have done better.

Green Beans – We had an excellent first harvest and even got a few meals from a second harvest.

Potatoes – The potatoes did very well and we still have a meal or two to dig up before we close down the garden.

Peppers – Both our green peppers and our hot peppers really did well this year.

Silver medals

Radishes – The plants themselves did well. I just did a poor job of planning and planted too much at one time. So a lot was wasted.

Cauliflower – This was my first year for growing cauliflower. Again, the plant grew well, and I pinned the leaves closed like I was supposed to. Then I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. Steve finally mentioned that he thought they should have been ready to pick by now. However, I had waited too long and they were all bitter. If I had been more vigilant they would have gotten a gold medal.

Tomatoes – The plants grew large and produced a lot of fruit. We made one harvest and took them to Steve’s mom to can. She made a few quarts of tomato juice from them. We had planned another harvest and then rain hit. In one weekend we got over 4 inches of rain and the garden was too soft for me to walk in. By the time the ground dried up a little and I remembered that we needed to pick tomatoes, most of them were rotten.

Sunflowers – The flowers are beautiful, but I did not pay attention to the amount I planted of each variety. I got several plants that are really pretty but only two are the type that you can harvest the seed from and the kids are disappointed that we will not have sunflower seeds to eat.

Bronze medals

Red Cabbage – I had planted 4 plants and they looked healthy, but I only was able to harvest one head.

Carrots – We planted the carrots too close together. The few that we harvested were good, but they did not have much room to grow very large.

Cabbage – I am thinking maybe cabbage moths or some type of pest took over the plants. All of the leaves were full of holes and we did not harvest any cabbage.

Asparagus – I didn’t know what to expect for my first year of asparagus. And I would normally think that maybe mine looked okay. Until I went to my brother’s and saw his first year of asparagus. His plants look so full and healthy and mine look so thin and spindly. I will have to add some new crowns next year.

There were a few vegetables that did not even show up to my “garden olympics” and so they did not get awarded anything:

Cucumbers – my plants this year were pitiful. Just pitiful. There is no other way to describe them. I think out of about 15 plants I harvested 2 cucumbers. TWO.

Brussels Sprouts – This was my first year of growing them and I knew that they didn’t seem to be doing anything. My thoughts were confirmed when I went out to the garden and saw Steve mowing the plants down. Apparently he had given up on them before I did.

Overall, I should be happy. We produced our own food. We grew food that was healthy and fueled our bodies with the best quality nutrients. There really is nothing I should be upset about. I should just look to improve next year.

In the meantime, I will keep checking on these vines and hope that we have some pumpkins to carve this year!

Great summary, Sarah. I think as gardeners we learn very quickly that we can’t expect everything to be a success. It even varies year to year. It’s really good to keep a record like this of what worked and didn’t, and use that to set goals and plan for next year. (BTW, I love the fuzzy fluffy sunflowers! I’m adding those to my garden plan for next year.)


Making Monarchs and memories

Our days here at the farm start early. In the darkness on Wednesday morning, Matt noticed that the chrysalis for both of our Monarch caterpillars had turned black. In actual fact, they had turned clear. However, they look black because the black wings of the butterfly inside are showing through.

Monarch chrysalis about to hatch

We figured that later that day, we’d be proud parents.

I took Baxter for our morning walk and Matt left for work.

About 45 minutes later I was back in the kitchen making my breakfast. I turned around, and there was a butterfly in the bowl on the island.

Holy moly, EdWING actually had wings!

Newly hatched Monarch butterfly

I went a little bananas. I took lots of birth photos. I messaged Matt. I tweeted and instagrammed the official birth announcement.

I was officially late for work.

Eventually though, I had to leave. That mean EdWING had to go outside.  I’ve been referencing Karen’s “how to raise a Monarch butterfly” series a lot as we progressed with our caterpillars. A quick check of her site said that Ed would hang around and rest for about 2-3 hours and then he’d be ready to fly. Well, that would be when Matt and I were very much still at work. I couldn’t rely on Baxter to send his new brother out into the world, so Ed had to finish his resting outside on his own.

I found the most sheltered area I could and hid Ed under some leaves so that he hopefully didn’t turn into breakfast for a hungry bird.

Monarch butterfly

Last I saw of him he was gently opening and closing his wings. So, so beautiful.

Monarch butterfly

Kevin no-longer-a-CATERPillar hatched a little while later. Matt came home to a restless butterfly in a bowl.

Monarch butterfly in a glass bowl

He took him outside, and Kevin flew away.

Two Monarch butterflies. Out into the world. So, so amazing. We’ve made lots of memories since moving to the farm, and this is definitely another special one.