Thursday, June 30, 2011

~To Build a Campfire~

*This project is from Martha Stewart Living magazine June 2011 page 134*

1. You'll need to gather three types of firewood. The first group is called tinder, or twigs, which will burn quickly and easily. Crumple several balls of newspaper (traditionalists can opt for pieces of dried birch bark), and pile them in the pit. Then use the tinder to build a tepee around the pile.
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2.  Kindling, or medium, thicker sticks, will produce the heat necessary to get heavier pieces of wood burning. Use kindling to build out the tepee.
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3. The last group, known as fuel, consists of logs. Aged logs are a good choice; they'll catch fire faster than greener ones. Expand the tepee with smaller logs -- adding "fuel to the fire."
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4.  Finish off the structure with the biggest logs.
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5.  Light the newspaper at the bottom of the pile to ignite the outer layers. (The fire shown here was lighted with one match and cooked many of the dishes in this story!)
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Fire pits, camping and summertime go together like graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows.  What I enjoy most about the warmer weather of summer is the added bonus of camping.  I've been a lover of camping ever since I was a very small child.  My family and I would camp and explore the beautiful open space of the Bay Area and on occasion we'd make our way up to the Sierras for some light backpacking. I grew up in a home where my father treasured his camping equipment the way some father's treasure their tools.  Everything was neatly organized, reorganized and very carefully thought-out before every family camping trip. 

As an adult, I now have developed a similar respect and love for camping. However, this blog is not about camping, it's about building a fire pit. I can't help but associate fire pits with camping because that's what most of us do when we camp- we have a fire.  The cool thing about this project is that if you have the space, you can make a place for your own campfire right in your very own backyard!

If you have the space, I definitely suggest making a fire pit for your own backyard.  This was so much fun to create! Recently, I've been talking about the feeling that one gets when something is built with the hands and spirit.  This feeling also applies to making a campfire.  There's just something about building a fire that takes us way, way back to long ago when we used to build these things for warmth and food. In some sort of funny way, I felt that ancestral connection as I hunted and gathered for the perfect rocks for the fire pit. 

Sitting around the fire as a family, laughing, singing campfire songs, playing games and just enjoying the particularly cool, summer evening is something that we should all experience.  This should be on your bucket list, if you haven't done this already.  I saw a $20 small BBQ at Cost Plus that would be perfect for making smores if you have limited space at home. Imagine pulling a few chairs around that little BBQ to make both smores and memories with your own family.  The ideas are limitless, and it only requires a  little creativity.

Photo Gallery


It all started with some sand.  Jordan made several trips to the sandbox to create a place for the fire itself.
While he was doing that, I removed all existing debris around the pit to a distance of about six feet in all directions from the center.
Jordan helped me rake the debris away from the campfire location. 
We found some existing concrete stones on the property.  We also drove around and "foraged" for rocks on the side of the road. 
We brought over a few tree stumps in order to create a comfortable seating area around the fire. 
Jordan found us a few long branches that we used as roasting sticks for our marshmallows. 

The making of the fire begins.  We had a fire extinguisher placed to the side just to be safe.  He followed the directions for building the fire from Martha Stewart Living magazine page 134 (June 2011 issue).
 Gabriel patiently awaits the fire and eats some chocolate.
Here is the snack tray that I set out.  I made sure to include plenty of napkins too.
Jordan added the newspaper and is making a tent out of small twigs.
He took a break to read about what to do next.
Gabriel came back for more snacks.
Maybe we don't even need the fire after all? Hey, that's an idea.  If you don't have the space for a fire, just pretend! 
The larger pieces of wood are added after the medium size logs...
Jordan was exercising extreme caution while lighting the fire.
And so it starts...
Hooray for Jordan!  He built his first fire.
Here is Sarah eating her smore.
Jordan and his ooey gooey smore.
Roasting some more smores.
The fire
Gabriel is really enjoying the campfire thing.
Here is a picture of all three nature lovers.  I foresee many a campfire over the summer out here at Paradise Basin. 
Campfires bring out our primitive sides so watch out!
Chester even had his own tree stump and enjoyed spending time with the family around the fire too.
Chester leapt into my lap!  That was his way of telling me how much fun he was having. 
Ben made it home from work to find us all around the campfire.  What a surprise!  He enjoyed coming home to to some yummy smores and some campfire fun.
What a day!  I enjoyed watching my three children create a special place for us to gather.  And the coffee was a nice way to polish off the evening before coming inside.
The awesome man that works behind the scenes most of the time.  Thanks, Ben for all that you do!
Thank you again Jordan for making such a wonderful place for us to gather together as a family.  Friends are welcome too! You did a fantastic job building the fire.  The fire burned strong for several hours! 
The day had drawn to a close...
Everyone went inside except for Jordan and me.  We glanced back at the house and realized that it was time to put out the fire. 

~Just Dessert~

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