Now that we have piles of wood, thanks to my Wood-Chopping-Champ-Hubby, I am happy to report that we are using the recently installed Heat Champion fireplace!

You may recall that the old fireplace was also a wood burning fireplace, but we rarely used it because with the flue open, it sucked all the heat out of the rest of our house. Because we heat with oil, it was just too expensive (and too cold) to enjoy a fire on a chilly night. Also, since our fireplace happens to be on the enormous side, it just was not efficient at producing heat before.

So, after completing renovations on the hearth and brick facade, we purchased a custom-made Heat Champion unit from Hearth and Home Shoppe. It was installed a few days ago and we have enjoyed a fire pretty much round the clock ever since. The best part is that we are now able to supplement (instead of subtract) the heat in the house just by burning a fire.

This new product made by Stoll has a built-in firebox that concentrates the heat and uses internal fans that blow out the warm air produced by the fire, thus heating the house. Due to the ceramic class doors and other insulation, unlike before, we do not seem to lose any heat through the flue when we burn with the doors closed. Plus, isn't the new fireplace a handsome fellow?

Albus the cat is pretty darn handsome, too!

So with the installation of the Heat Champion, our fireplace renovation is now about 80% complete. We only have 2 items left on the list for updating this part of the house:

1). We need to decide what to do for the mantel. We are leaning towards using a rustic wood slab salvaged from the old barn.

2). After we replace the carpet, we need to install trim around the new granite hearth to frame it in.

In the meantime, I think I might grab a good book and go read by the fireplace. It's a tough job, but somebody has to tend to the fire, right?



In anticipation of the installation of our new wood burning fireplace, the Mister and I (um, mainly the Mister) have been busily chopping wood. Since a big oak tree fell down in the back of the field last Spring it has become the fortunate first fodder for our new fireplace. So when I say "we" have been chopping wood, really, I mean "he" has been chopping wood. But I enjoyed an embarrassing lesson in the art of wood splitting - something this suburban-born girl has never had to do before.

Here's how it went...


As you can see, I did make contact with my log, but I didn't quite make it through the wood. In fact, my axe got stuck in the top of it. This, by the way, was one of my more successful cracks at it. There is an embarrassing video somewhere that depicts a time when I under-swung and my axe made a mean dent in the dirt. Take that, Dirt!  I am sure with more practice, though, I will be splitting wood like a champ. Or maybe I will just stick to my Zumba and Kettle Bell classes and let the Mister Wood-Chopper chop the wood. 

We do have a chainsaw, by the way, but that hubby of mine is kind of a survivalist. He likes to do things the old-fashioned way.



The SANTA FE TOTEM, one of my favorite one of a kind pieces, recently SOLD at the Stockley Gardens Art Festival!  I was elated (and a tiny bit sad) that this show-stopper, constructed back in 2006, finally found its perfect mate. 

Every one of a kind piece I make tells a story. I wanted to share with you the story of the Santa Fe Totem.

When I was 22, I embarked on a 6 week long RV trip with my boyfriend to explore the cracked red earth, cacti-covered canyons and black night skies. The rugged landscape was so beautiful that at times it brought tears to my eyes. It was in Santa Fe, while wandering in and out of art galleries, including the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, that I discovered this large Chrysocolla gemstone in a tiny shop in the city center.

The Chrysocolla shows off a turquoise blue-green hue that is interlaced with brown red matrix, like a quiet canyon creek flowing over parched earth. I set the stone with a modified bezel, wrapping around the bottom and side edges, while prongs of 14 karat yellow gold crown it above like a rising sun. The 14 karat gold prongs are echoed below the bezel, connecting the gemstone atop to a rugged landscape of sterling silver. Using recycled sterling silver, manipulated with my torch, I created a highly textured surface reminiscent of the landscape that marked my desert journey.

Chrysocolla is a copper bearing mineral found wherever copper deposits naturally occur, especially in areas of the southwestern USA, Chili, Zaire, Australia, France and England. 
Pure Chrysocolla is too soft for jewelry purposes but it is often found in quartz deposits, mixed with malachite, turquoise and azurite, which makes it hard enough to polish for cabochons. Chrysocolla is associated with peace and tranquility, patience, intuition, and unconditional love.  It is thought to offer gentle and soothing qualities to the wearer.
 A part of my heart will always belong to the parched red earth of the southwest United States, where this stone was born, but I am happy that this special piece will be worn and cherished close to the heart of its new owner.