Fireplace

I love our wood burning fireplace. It gives off a great ambiance to the home. Recently I tried to figure out– How do you build a good fire in a fireplace?

With winter in full force for the first time in years, we have been using our fireplace to heat up our home more often. Here is what I was taught to do when building a fire:

  1. Crumple some newspaper and place under the grate and on the grate.
  2. Place wood kindling lengthwise with the grate. Put on two pieces of wood on top.
  3. Put two more pieces of wood perpendicular to the first two.
  4. Ensure the damper is open.
  5. Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
  6. Light the paper under the grate.
  7. Enjoy the fire.
  • I have been lightning fires like this for decades. I found that I kept adding wood and burning faster thinking I needed flames to create heat. The other day I discovered a new technique and it really made the house much warmer.
  • Essentially you build the fire upside down compared to what I had been doing for years.
    1. Start with two or three large pieces of wood and lay them lengthwise and tight together.
      Lay three more pieces perpendicular on top of the first layer. Again making sure it is tight.
      Now add the kindling on top along with crumpled newspapers.
    1. Ensure the damper is open.
    2. Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
    3. Light the paper and kindling that was stacked on the top.
    4. Enjoy the fire as it burns from the top down making more of a hot ember base.
  • The six or so pieces of wood burn slower and last much long than the old way. Going for ambiance- I’ll still light a fire my old way. But with negative temperatures- heat is the priority.
  • Here is a video that I found that explains the new way: Perfect Fire. I’m in no way connected with the YouTube video- I just found it very helpful and wanted to share.
  • I love living in the country and the lifestyle that comes with it. But one day we will move and I’ll have to enjoy a gas fireplace instead.
  • Are you keeping warm the winter with a wood burning fireplace or do you prefer gas?
  • N’Ice

    Oh man. It’s been cold in the Vancouver area lately. An unpleasant type of cold. The kind of cold that only the rest of Canada experiences. Hey Winnipeg-come get your weather, it appears to be lost.

    For the first time ever, the water on our downspout chain froze. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen ice formed from our roof or eaves ever. It’s not right!

    Someone can come and take this snow and ice away any time now. Our two days of winter are over. I really hope it doesn’t last much longer. Not experiencing snow and ice is the main reason we stay living in the Lower Mainland.

    Property Value

    Here in British Columbia, homeowners have been receiving their 2019 property assessments. According to news reports, it sounds like values have decreased slightly across the Lower Mainland.

    In my opinion, I’m hoping the trend plateaus now. The decrease doesn’t bother me since we bought our home almost 13 years ago. Sure, I want to see the value increase- that just makes me “house rich and cash poor.” Every so often, I search for other listings in the Lower Mainland- future prospects for houses or neighborhoods. The “ideal” home for us once our children become adults.

    Only, I don’t know what our kids will do in the future.

    Will they move out or will they need their own suite to live in? Or should we look at a home that eventually our kids can take ownership of? Or do my wife and I just look out for ourselves and downsize?

    I don’t know at this time. So that means- we will stay put for a few more years. And it doesn’t matter whether the assessment of our property increases or decreases. What matters now is- what will our property taxes be?

    Empty Spaces

    Yesterday afternoon we removed Christmas from our house. The walls, shelves and floor space are abundantly empty. It feels barren and spacious. It’s all sorts of creepy.

    Our home looked so festive throughout December. It felt warm and inviting. Not to mention joyous as well.

    Now it’s stark and devoid of life. But as we do quite often- it’s time to rearrange our furniture and knickknacks. During this time we will purge some stuff that we don’t want or need anymore. It always feels good to do that.

    Have you De-Christmased your home yet? How does it make you feel?

    Christmas Vacation 2019

    Today the kids start their winter break away from school. And as we do every year- we start it with a viewing of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation“. A classic film filled with perfect comedic timing. Also some wicked quotes that you can say and everyone knows where it’s from.

    At least our Christmas Vacation is different than what the film portrays.

    Today we announced to the kids that they are only going to be allowed thirty minutes each day on their phones. As well, if they want to play video games or watch tv it has be to with at least one other person. They are going to spend quality time together!

    If you have kids- I hope that you have a great Christmas Vacation with them. It’s all about those family memories and creating traditions that will last a lifetime.

    Natural Decorating

    I love decorating our home for Christmas. One of my favorite styles is keeping it “Country Living”. I utilize nature as much as possible.

    In the past I have used fallen branches as a part of our decor. Hanging them from under the skylight or adorning our main entryway. Using natural branches also means that every year the decorating changes.

    I have even made tealight holders from the thicker branches. I finished them off with some red burlap string and modpodge glue in order to keep their sheen.

    This year my wife suggested we use some holly branches. She loves the look of the red holly berries against the vibrant greenery. Holly, just like pine trees, keep their colours for quite some time. But once the season is over- they become brittle and dry.

    I’m loving that each year we modify our decorating just a little bit and that I use nature to do it.

    What do you make at Christmas?

    The Family Saturday

    Today was a long day filled with some quality family time. Quality time is something that I treasure whenever we can get it.

    It started with early morning speed skating training, followed by a free movie at the theater. It was Community Day so we took in a classic film- “A Christmas Story” to start our season right. By far one of my most favorite films. Seeing it in the theater added a new ambiance to the film and legitimate out loud laughs by the audience.

    The film was over around lunch. We came straight home, did a quick tidy/clean before settling in to a favorite family activity. It’s the first Saturday after my wife’s birthday, so that meant decorations for our trees were to go up!

    Loads of fun, dancing, singing and smiles were had. It helped that my wife and I had cookies and Firenog as well. Today is a day that our oldest loves to be a part of and willingly gets her picture taken with a smile!

    We have three trees, so the kids rotate which topper they put up. It’s the first year I haven’t lifted anyone up to do it. It’s also the first year that my wife did this:

    She broke an ornament! It’s not Christmas until at least one ornament explodes.

    Utilizing The Weather

    It’s another beautiful day on the West Coast. I decided to make the most of it and get some “winterizing” done. I headed to the gas station and filled a large jerrycan for future use in our backup Generator in case of a power failure. Our one daughter filled six yard waste cans with leaves and our other daughter cleared off the roof and driveway.

    Then I did the unthinkable.

    I put up our Christmas Lights.

    I figured I might as well do this chore while the weather is warm instead of waiting until December. The lights won’t be going on until then. But why not put them up ahead of time? I’m also not the type of person who leaves the lights up year round.

    Either myself or my daughter are up on our roof every couple of weeks blowing leaves and pine needles off as it is. So taking a few moments today made sense to check the downspouts and put up those lights. I was able to enjoy a bit of quiet contemplation time on the roof. There’s something calming about autumn when you get to enjoy a few hours of beautiful sun and crisp air.

    Now to head back inside and pour a nice cup of tea while we listen to music.

    Beauty-Fall

    The weather over the next few days, and leading into November, is supposed to be beautiful. Maybe not with the warmth of a summer day; but rather a mid-day sunshine while wearing your favorite sweater and sunglasses kind of day. Plenty of opportunities to enjoy the changing colours of nature to be had if one so chooses.

    I plan on taking it easy during my free time. I’ll probably chill out a bit more on my deck and stare out into the yard, admiring the tranquility that we are surrounded by. The brisk air keeps many people quieter as they begin to warm themselves more frequently indoors. The woodland animals are slowly preparing to migrate and hibernate. Slowly the sounds outside quieten to a faint whisper.

    Autumn is a beautiful and peaceful season.

    All The Leaves Are Brown

    There was a burst of a wind storm the other day. Which caused a lot of debris to fall in our yard. On Friday I spent two hours clearing our roof and driveway of pine needles. I do not like that aspect of having old growth trees in our yard.

    Leaves make the yard look messy, but are generally easier to clean up than pine needles. The sunshine and gentle breeze made for a perfect autumn day.

    On Saturday, I had two of my children help with cleaning up the fallen leaves on the rest of our acre. We had a ton of fun making a huge pile. And we all know what kids want to do with a pile of leaves…