Family Fireside Chats


There is nothing more mesmerizing to me than staring into a fire.  I could do it for hours.  At the hunting camp growing up, I can remember ending every day hanging out at the campfire – not only because there was nothing else to do and it was freezing cold everywhere else, but because there was just something about the campfire.  The heat, the people, the conversation, the dancing flames, the sounds…all of it hypnotized me.  It did then…and it still does today.

About a year ago a close buddy of mine said that one of the only things missing from my yard was a fire pit.  I agreed.  I actually already knew where I wanted to put it, but I was stalling because it really wasn’t the time to be spending any money.  But then I thought of those nights around the fire at the hunting camp – all that was really required there was some wood and a match…and you could have a nice fire.  Every once and awhile we’d make it fancy by adding some rocks around it…but that was it.  So I promised my buddy that I’d move my fire pit project up on the list so that we could start having “family fireside chats” sooner than later.

Our swing-set wasn’t getting the usage it once did yet it still occupied prime real estate in our backyard. You basically could see it wherever you were in the yard – which was good when the girls were young, but now not so much.  So I thought….why not put the firepit there…I could move the swing-set to the lower portion of the yard.  That would leave me a spot that was already level and perfect from all perspectives – traffic flow, visually from the house and when in the yard, etc.

From a design perspective, I really wanted to keep it simple: a) I didn’t want to spend much money; and b) I was doing it myself and I didn’t want the project to take up more than 1 or 2 of my weekends.  So I decided to keep it incredibly simple…basically replicating a campfire.  With the help of another friend, we moved the swing set and got to work on the fire pit.

    • Using string I drew out 2 concentric circles.
    • Along both circles I laid gray granite ruble strips. ( I actually didn’t even dig a hole in the center…never did at the hunting camp.)
    • I shoveled in slate chips around the pit at about 2″ in depth.   I was told that I should use “trail mix” (a combination of various sized slate chips and aggregate), but there wasn’t any available the weekend I “needed” it.  But so far, so good…the mini slate chips are easy to walk on, compacted nicely, and nothing has washed away.
    • I bought 4 inexpensive Adirondack chairs from Home Depot (less than $40 each)…that simply needed to be assembled and primed/painted.  Then I flanked the chairs with stumps another buddy of mine cut up for me that serve as either tables or extra seating.
    • [There are a few things I might change in the years to come…like finally digging a hole and possibly adding some fire bricks; adding a more attractive spot/way to stack our firewood; and Britt possibly would like to raise the pit itself and make it more permanent making a hearth of sorts that you could sit on along the perimeter of the pit – but we’ll have to see…that starts to depart from the campfire feel and it costs a lot more money.]

Our fire pit was completed in the heat of the summer and since it’s gotten cold enough for a fire we’ve been quite busy getting this blog started that we just haven’t used it as much as we’ve wanted to.  But we have had a few fires with friends…each time leaving me staring at the fire until the wee hours.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to swing a “family fireside chat” with the buddy who got me moving on my fire pit project, (he’s a high school football coach and his weekends have been jammed). But we’re going to make it happen soon, very soon!  I’m sure it will be just as appealing as it was when I was a kid – the heat, the people, the conversation, the dancing flames, the sounds…all lulling me to that familiar mesmerized state.

Do you have a fire pit?  How did you decide on your design? What memories do you have sitting by the fire?

Take care and stay warm,
Doug initial



Below you’ll find a couple other pics of our fire pit during the day…



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  1. Kristin on January 6, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Love the post… loved our time recently around your fire pit!! Great evening with you guys and I love how the fire pit turned out. I was reminded sitting there how nice it was to have this other “space” in your home. We spent about 4 hours outside on a cold December night and about 10 minutes in your house! Awesome addition to your beautiful backyard!

    • Doug Scott on January 6, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      Thanks Kristin! Yes…we had a great night hanging with your fam! And so far it seems that once the kids have torched a few marshmallows (very disappointing to me) and had a couple s’mores, they are ready to make use of other parts of the yard. But that’s fine by me…gives us parents some space to have some “grown-up conversation”. Here’s to many more Family Fireside Chats!!! Cheers, Doug

  2. Jen on January 13, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Finally! We finally landed our backsides into your cozy Adirondack chairs, nestled snuggly around a BLAZING fire! My jacket probably still has the lingering smell of smoke and my thighs for sure have the lingering effects of s’mores. Totally worth it. We love our fire pit and have often used it as a “date” of sorts, lingering out there, enjoying a beverage with the hubs, long after our kids have been tucked into bed. We throw some tunes on the outside speakers and have a conversation! Lots of plans get made out by our fire.

    We loved our fireside chat with The Scotts. Thanks for making fun family memories for us. Next time… we burn a Christmas tree! xo

    • Doug Scott on January 13, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      No doubt…that was a Family Fireside Chat that was long in the making AND it was the hopes of that very FFC that sparked (tee hee) any other FFC ever happening. Thanks for chatting by the fire with us…your family living alongside mine. These are the rich things of life. And I’m all in for the Christmas Tree burn…you’ll just have to convince Britt “Safety Girl” Scott that everything will be okay. Perhaps if we outfit her with a hazmat suit and double-barreled fire extinguishers…and dig a trench around the area. Regardless…we’ll burn something and solve all of the worlds problems as our faces and eyeballs get hot. Thanks friend, Doug

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