Home Happies: DIY Firepit

Thanks so much for the comments on our firepit!  I passed the praise along to Brian and he was oh-so-proud of himself.  Honestly, he put up the biggest protest for the longest time about the project, thinking it would be way bigger of a task than he was up for taking on.

WELL, after showing him the tutorials that I had found and putting together a shopping list, he agreed that we could do it.  If you browse Pinterest, as with anything else that you look for there, you'll find a million results, varying in degree of difficulty.  

Some people built their firepits on top of their already-paved patios, or areas in their yard where pavers had been laid (this was my favorite look and something I wanted to begin with but we just weren't able to take on such a big project right now-- ain't nobody got time to build their own patio on a random Saturday!):

Others built right on to the grass and without a firebowl insert so they could place their logs/whatever they're burning straight in the bottom and use whatever cover suited their fancy: 

And then we have the tutorial that we followed, doing a little manual labor with digging the circle and laying the blocks, but we added our own step by a little help by purchasing a firepit kit from Lowe's:

Our shopping list was easy: 
*Pea Gravel (4 bags at around $4 each-- we actually ended up buying 2 additional bags on Sunday to fill in a bit higher around the perimeter) 
*A stamper (to make sure the ground was nicely compacted after digging the circle but before spreading the rock/building the pit (update: this is called a tamper, but that makes no sense, so I shall continue calling it a STAMPER.  This was around $26.)

We drove our little Subaru over to Lowe's and once we wheeled all 48 of our (heavy, cement) stones out to the car, plus the four bags of gravel and the huge box holding the firepit, we realized this was going to be a multi-trip project.  So we loaded up 24 of the stones, two bags of the gravel, the stamper and the firepit, and drove home.  Once we unloaded, Brian started the manly task of digging the big circle while I drove back for the second batch of supplies.  

If I would have been home, I would have taken pictures, but instead will hopefully explain (not the same, I know).

1. We picked our spot in the yard (10 feet away from our house, trees, anything that could catch fire if a quick wind picked up a rogue flame) and placed the screen top that came with the firepit on the ground. 

2. We knew that we wanted to account for plenty of gravel space around the edge of the firepit once it was completed, so Brian laid out two rows of the stones around the screen (two rows side by side, not stacked, if that makes sense), and used the shovel to mark a full circle around the outer rim. Then he moved everything out of the way and started digging.

3. This is when I made my reappearance with the rest of the supplies (and lunch).  Luckily, Brian had the entire circle cleared and had started using the (s)tamper to level and flatten the ground.  The yard sloped just a tiny bit, so one edge was a little higher than the other, so that took a bit of leveling out.

4. Using our trusty fire screen again, we set it in the center of our circle, making a row of the pavers along the outside of the rim.  Once we had our bottom row, we moved the screen out of the way.  Based on the size of the screen, we ended up only using 11 blocks on our first row. 

5. For the next layer, we staggered the blocks so that a paver sat like a tripod/connector on the two pavers below it (you can see the stagger in this photo). Once we had the first two layers, we laid the fire bowl inside to make sure that everything laid flat and that the blocks were spaced appropriately-- it was perfect!

The second layer and the remaining two layers also each had 11 pavers, which left us with 4 leftover.

Once the four layers were stacked, we poured one full bag of the pebbles into the center, and the remaining three bags around the edge.  We did this instead of pouring all of the pebbels and then stacking the pavers on top of the pebble layer so that the bottom pavers were on the compacted dirt, making it all a bit more steady.  

As I mentioned, we did end up buying 2 additional bags of pebbles, but only because of the higher edge on one side that Brian leveled-- it needs a little more coverage.  We also love that the pebble edge extends further away from the firepit itself-- the tutorial that we followed noted in their instructions that they wished they'd done so, to make it easier to navigate when mowing.  I also like that it makes for a little more space between the fire and your chairs :)

6. The last step for us was to inset the firepit bowl from the firepit kit.  We unscrewed the brackets on the bottom of the bowl (meant to screw into the legs, if you're using the firepit kit as a stand-alone set) and discarded them.  You can see in the picture that the lip of the bowl overlaps the inner rim of the pit-- this was why we used the screen as our reference tool when deciding how to place the first row of pavers, knowing that we wanted the rim to be more snug so that the firebowl would nestle in and be sturdy/balanced, not... wiggly. 

All in all, this was easy-peasy.  Once you have the ground leveled, it took us all of 15 minutes to stack and fill everything, and it actually came out being fairly cheap compared to other tutorials that I've seen.  And I definitely recommend buying the firepit kit-- it comes with a grate inside, the screen, a tool to use to adjust the screen/grate, the legs and a cover.  We tested the cover and while it doesn't fit over the entire firepit, our plan is to remove the firebowl/screen during the winter, cover it with the cover, and store it in our shed so that the snow doesn't rust it.

That was legit probably the worst tutorial ever, and it was PICTURELESS, which is basically criminal in blog-world.  But oh well-- y'all had some questions and I answered! Happy building!


It's crazy how rejuvenating a random long weekend can be-- I advise every single one of you to take advantage of one before the holiday crazies commence!

Call me crazy, but one of my favorite ways to spend a weekday not working is to get things done at home.  I was up with the sun to hit the gym for a good workout, which I was in desperate need of.  It's so hard finding the time to get to the gym these days-- I am definitely more of a morning workout person than an evening person, but we have to leave our house by 7am during the week.  My gym opens at 5, which means I would have to be there when they open and cram in 40 fast minutes then book it home to shower by 6 or so-- that's EARLY, y'all.  The other option is in the evening, but at the end of the day I want to just lounge with Molly, cook dinner, and hang out with Brian while he studies.  Ugh, the struggle is real-- I basically need to just bite the bullet and make one of them work, but still-- yay for a casual Friday morning workout!

Post-workout, I had to swing by Target to stock up on spooky surprises for my Halloween care package to send to the nieces and nephew in Baltimore.  They're still at the ages where the tiniest thing, like a light-up bracelet to wear while trick-or-treating can MAKE THEIR DAY, so I hit the jackpot at the Dollar Aisle-- holla!

As a sidenote, I feel that I should also share with y'all the news that the back aisle of my Target was already decked out for Christmas. I mean, the light-up reindeer were practically mixed right in with the screaming ghosts and monster bags of candy.  Christmas is my jam, but I enjoy taking my time to soak up Halloween and Thanksgiving first, thankyouverymuch.

Anywho, after Target I went home to my Molly girl and deep cleaned our house, then decorated for fall/Halloween which made me feel all festive.  I decided that with the weather cooling off and it being such a gorgeous fall day, that my nails were in desperate need of their first official fall mani!  I've been trying to scale back on gel and opting for polish (the gel wreaks havoc on my nails if I get it too many times in a row without a break) but it had been a while and I'm so hard on my hands that  sometimes splurging on the gel is just WORTH IT.  After a coat of OPI "Magala Wine" at my favorite little salon, I picked up Brian, pizza, and a bottle of wine, and we called it a night.

Saturday had us up and moving early-- the gym and a trip to Trader Joe's and Starbucks for me while Brian studied, and then we reconvened for breakfast and enjoyed a bit of College Gameday before we played the #basichomeowners card and geared up for a trip to Lowe's.  

I've been realllly wanting a firepit in our backyard since... well, since before we made an offer on the house.  I combined three or four Pinterest tutorials and after a solid two hours of work, including the two trips to Lowe's to transport all of the stones and pavers, we had a firepit!

Call me crazy but I kind of love it.  We've yet to have a fire in it, but I can't help but smile every time I see it out in the yard!  We took it easy that night and picked up burgers from a local spot and watched Southpaw (didn't love it).

Molly woke me up at 7am on Sunday and of course I couldn't fall back asleep, so we snuggled on the couch with coffee while I browsed Pinterest until Brian woke up.  We had to hit Lowe's for more stones to add around the firepit and pick up mums for our porch, then continued our weekend tradition of bagels and coffee at Gunther Tooties (alleluia, amen).

I worked in the yard for a couple of hours while Brian studied (are you sensing a trend with the studying?  Yes, it is ALL OF THE TIME and it's only been a month or so) and watched the Pats game.  After a quick shower, I decided that with my early wakeup call behind me, I was in desperate need of a nap, so while Brian made football snacks (love that husband and his knowledge that I will almost always choose apps/snacks over a meal), Molly and I did a lot of this:

I had an urge to make soup for supper, so I copied Chrissy Teigen and went for Ina Garten's Roasted Tomato Basil Soup-- holy goodness, y'all.  We made grilled cheese to go along with it, and it was just the best way to end our weekend. 

I would make a few modifications next time-- it didn't have a TON of flavor, and I would use different tomatoes, but all in all, it was so good.  I was prepared for it to be heavy and high in calories, but the only dairy in the soup is 2 tablespoons of butter that you use to saute the onions and garlic before blending, so it's not terribly unhealthy at all!  

We did stay up to watch the Supermoon/Eclipse, but I am feeling that late night this morning for sure.  Hopefully today flies by and I don't need to funnel coffee to survive!

Thoughts for Thursday: Today is my Friday + Vacay Suggestions!

Today is my Friday and I am SO grateful for that!  Work has been absolutely crazy these last couple of weeks, so I opted to take a day off tomorrow and make a long weekend out of it, and I just might be counting down the hours already until 5pm.

I am so not someone who can just take a day off and get absolutely nothing done, so on my to do list for tomorrow: stop by the DMV to change my name and address on my license (it's only been almost a year since they both changed-- whoops!), clean out our closet and drawers to round up things to donate, get the basement organized (it's empty except for a few random boxes and holiday stuff... also from last November), deep clean the house, and decorate for fall!  It finally cooled off here in Boston this week, so I'm taking full advantage to bring out the pumpkins and put away all of my summery stuff.  I already cannot wait to sit back on the couch tomorrow night with my favorite candle burning (aren't the best smelling candles always FALL candles?!) and a glass of wine in the middle of our clean house!

Also, and this is random, but I love some input from my blog-people and I need some insight on TWO things:

ONE. Love that new car smell
This is the first time that Brian and I have both had jobs where the schedules didn't perfectly line up for commuting, so we're kind of sort of starting to look at buying a second car and I cannot lie-- I'm pretty excited, probably (okay, definitely) because we had the reality check that whichever car we buy next will need to accommodate a baby and the endless supply of baby gear that goes along with them (which is equally exciting and terrifying), so we're looking at SUVs.  I am AMPED. UP. and can't wait to start test driving.  We've looked at a few of the "crossover SUVs," since we don't THINK that we really need the space of something on the bigger side, butimean... what do we know, other than that we don't want to buy something and outgrow it within a few years?  If you're in the same spot now or have been before, what did you end up buying?  Do you love it/hate it?  Suggestions, please! I'm kind of loving the Volvo XC60, and a pretty Explorer makes my heart flutter-- how old is that of me?  

TWO. Vacation all I ever wanted
After the crazy year that I've had professionally, Brian starting a new job and taking on studying for this exam, the knowledge that we probably have one big vacation left before we start moving towards the baby stage of our marriage, celebrating our 1 year anniversary on November 8th AND my 30th birthday on December 11th... we want to go on a trip this winter.  We've been bouncing around between several locations but have narrowed things down based on a few restrictions:

*Definitely adults only, ideally all-inclusive (if we do somewhere beachy), and a resort that has a nice mix of relaxation during the day, and entertainment options at night.

*We're planning on five nights, so nowhere too terribly far which would require almost two full days of travel just to get there and back. We want to be able to get on an early flight and be somewhere with a cocktail by lunchtime.

*Our honeymoon was in Mexico, and I would go back in a heartbeat, but Brian thinks we should try somewhere else.  We stayed at El Dorado Casitas Royale and holy perfection-- I would just move there if I could, and I would stay there again without hesitation (note to self: you never shared honeymoon pics on the blog-- whoops).  I've also heard good things about Excellence Playa Mujeres.

*We've considered Punta Cana, and haven't nixed it but I'm overwhelmed with how many resort options there are, the quality of the resorts, distance from airport (it sounds like several are an hour or more from the airport on bumpy roads and that could be bad). Any insight on PC? 

*I'm also not opposed to staying in the U.S. and doing a big Napa blowout, a trip to Oregon/Seattle (because why not?), or a Deep South Charleston/Savannah tour.

*Completely out of left field, there is also a part of me that's wondering if we could cram a trip to the UK in with that amount of travel time.  Worth it?  Or wait for a time when we have at least a week to play tourist?

Any feedback on any/all of the above would be so beyond helpful.  Word of mouth is my favorite way to check places out, so resort suggestions, locations to explore that I may not have thought of... share away!