Yesterday's post generated comments re our wood-burning heat and I thought I would elaborate with more detailed photos.
We have been interested in the weather reports and the inconveniences caused by cold and snow in the UK.
J. is hoping someone will respond to a question he has, that being whether there are restrictions in UK as to what timber can be harvested for firewood, locations of trees felled, species or amounts.
The above photo shows the living room fireplace with one of the doors opened. Both doors fold back to add wood or to clean out the ashes.
This fireplace was installed by the previous owners, probably when the house was built in 1980 or shortly after. It has a "heat-a-lator" unit. The gridded openings on the bottom serve as a cold air intake, the upper ones blow warm air when the fan is switched on. The blower is not on a thermostat which means if we let the fire die out during the night, we get up to find the blower still whirring away.
J. obliged me by opening the firebox door on the basement stove for this photo. I am pleased with the heavy spring-loaded closure on the door. There are grates in the firebox and the handle below pulls out the ash drawer.
You can see the electrical cord for the blower.
We've had experience, as have family members, with some of the more "decorative" wood stoves.
The nicer models have a current price upwards from about $1800.00 for a very basic model to several thousand for the nicer [heavier] ones.
Most of them don't have the ash pan and on many the blower is an add-on.
As well, the fireboxes are small in relation to the overall size of the stoves and take wood cut to fiddly lengths.
The shop where we purchased our stove had a larger model [new] for about $1200.00 as I recall correctly and we have seen the biggest size for around $1800.00
This one seemed the perfect size for our application. It was priced [used] at under $500.00 though J. returned to the shop and bought a new blower for $169.00. The old blower was extremely noisy.
We can buy bundles of hardwood slabs at either of two Amish sawmills a few miles away. The bundles are priced $10.00-$15.00--not sure why the price variation. J. can haul them in on the small trailer behind old Snort'n Nort'n the 1992 Dodge diesel. Truth to tell, he enjoys cutting and stacking the wood.
The house also has a heating and cooling "pump" [a concept new to us] the unit sits outside and is electrically powered. We used the A/C feature this summer. In the interest of economy we don't intend to use it often for heat, but if we were away or ill, the thermostat could be set for automatic heat.
We have always enjoyed "country breakfasts" when there is time to cook and eat such.
Often we do morning chores, putter at things, have our morning coffee, and then later fix a large breakfast which will tide us over until mid or late afternoon.
This morning I made buttermilk biscuits and served them with dried beef gravy
and some of the "bottled" pears for fruit.
I realize that "biscuit" in the British sense means what we in the US call a "cookie" but don't know what the equivalent term would be for our "baking powder biscuit." They are lighter than a scone and are good with gravy, or buttered while hot and jam or honey added.
They also serve as "shortcake" with fresh or frozen fruit.
Dried beef gravy was a common item in our New England childhoods.
The dried beef of those days was salt-cured paper thin slices packed in a glass jar. Today the beef has been chopped, pressed and cut into perfect circles before being packed in glass.
It needs to be "freshened" in water for a few minutes, then butter is melted in a skillet, the shredded beef added and sizzled a bit, then about 1/4 cup of flour stirred in and gently browned. Two cups of milk are added gradually while stirring the gravy smooth. I flavor mine with onion salt or dehydrated onion bits as well as freshly ground pepper and sometimes a crumble of dried parsley. Scrambled eggs go well with this meal. The gravy can also be served over mashed potatoes.
Biscuit and gravy.
The same cold blustery weather has continued today, although the sun did struggle out between scowling clouds for almost an hour before it slid over the hill behind the woods.
There have been flurries of snow driven almost horizontal by the gusty wind, but none of the snow stays on the ground.
J. is constructing a giant closet just outside the nearly finished family room in the basement.
I dug out a miscellaney of books and dumped them on the walnut table which is soon to become my sewing desk.
The table has become a magnet for cats as it is currently sitting near the woodstove.
I've come to no mental arrangement of our oddments of furniture destined for the space.
I can imagine that when J. declares the room finished he will simply begin hauling items into place.
The entire house still feels like a work in progress.
Our neighbors Dan and Gracie retired to this rural neighborhood several years before we arrived.
They took on a more challenging remodel than we have, a tiny Amish house which had no electricty.
Staying here during vacations for a number of years they had the wiring and plumbing done, a modern kitchen installed and built a large garage workshop for Dan and a tidy guest cottage to house visiting family.
Gracie saved this quilt rack which had been used in their former home and decided that it needed to live with me. [I have been wheedling J. for several years to make me at least one of these!]
Today he announced it needed to go up----somewhere---so I had him hang it at my side of the bed.
The quilt is one that I undertook during the winter of 2008, from a Kim Diehl design.
The pattern suggested a type of machine applique which I felt I couldn't do to a standard of excellence.
Pat W. one of the "girls" at the quilt shop gave me a tutorial in hand applique and I spent many evening hours that winter in finishing the work.
J. was impressed that I was spending time in the living room with him instead of shut in my "lair" of books and sewing. The cats felt certain that I was snipping lengths of thread and holding a wad of fabric simply to encourage their presence on my lap.
Having the quilt now on display warms my heart. These small touches, slowly accomplished, are making the little house a more personal home.
The fat tea mug was a gift from a dear friend in Wyoming several years ago.
The plump green teapot is from my "collection."
I can't think why I don't make tea in a pot more often.
There is something pleasant and soothing about doing so, as if one deserved a special "break" rather than standing at the counter merely slurping.
And finally on a cold day, what is more encouraging than choclate?
J. dropped off a power tool which Marla Shelley needed to borrow, and her kitchen was fragrant with brownies just taken from the oven.
I was inspired to come home and make some, dotted with pecans gifted us by Mr. Rogers.
Today the first of the seed and plant catalogs arrived in the mailbox.
They are wonderful aides for constructing dream gardens that I could never possibly maintain.
We are settling in for the dark chilly days and long evenings of this first retirement winter.
Warm house, cats, hot food and drink, projects and books a-plenty.