Standing Outside The Fire

December 16, 2010

My kinda fire:


His kinda fire:


When we first bought our house in Charlotte, that winter we attempted to make a fire in the fireplace. It ended up being an ultimate failure that resulted in Matt using my hair dryer to encourage the flames and blowing smoke into our whole house.

With permission from our landlords, we gave it a round two.


Opened the flue. Inspected the chimney. Built a little teepee.


Annnndddd smoke poured into the room.

After some research (and encouragement on my part to follow our friend Tateโ€™s expertise of starting a draft firstโ€ฆ) we tried again.


And we had success. Somewhat. There was still some smoke coming back in, but not too much. My eyes are itchy from the air, but Iโ€™m pretty sure the fire was a success. Not sure I want to do it again though!

Bring on the gas fireplaces. LOVE them.


Dinner was enjoyed with the tamed down flames


A simple lentil + roasted veggie salad.



Roasted: acorn squash, carrots, broccoli and portabellas (added in that order for uneven cooking times) at 400* tossed in Garlic Gold crunchy bits and cinnamon + garam masala

Combined with bleu cheese (the good kind!), walnuts, cooked lentils and a bed of spinach.


Lots of texture delight!



Congrats to Emily for debuting Daily Garnish tonight!! (So long Front Burner Blog..)


I plan to conclude this snowy evening with a bubble bath and lots of reading under my down comforter!

Previous post:

Next post:

{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katherine December 16, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Your dinner looks incredible!


2 Cathy B. @ Bright Bakes December 16, 2010 at 8:22 pm

love roasted veggies in salads…and I’m with you on the gas fireplaces…as much as a wood fire (could) be romantic…gas is warm, cozy AND convenient…currently spending the evening cuddled up by one with a great book!
cathy b. @ brightbakes


3 Kaitlyn (College Girl Runs) December 16, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Love down comforters! I miss mine!! Mine is up at school right now, but I’m home for break. Have a good night!


4 Katie December 16, 2010 at 8:26 pm

That salad looks SOOOO good! I have been craving salad! Need to eat one for dinner tomorrow!


5 Emily Malone December 16, 2010 at 8:29 pm

LOVE you. xoxoxooxxoxoxo. :)


6 Amy at TheSceneFromMe December 16, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I think I can smell that fire! I love the smell of a wood burning fireplace. I grew up with one, but have a gas fireplace now.
Fires are just cozy!!!


7 faith @ gracefulfitness December 16, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Man, next time I have a hankering for a salad I know where I am going! That looks amazing.


8 Sarah @ See Sarah Graduate December 16, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Oh I love fire places! But I’m with you, my kind of flame involves a candle. :)


9 Amy December 16, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Your salad looks SO GOOD!


10 Stacy @ Every Little Thing December 16, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Natural fires indoors are tough for sure. I <3 gas.


11 [email protected] December 16, 2010 at 8:50 pm

I love our fireplace! I’m glad the man knows how to do it all though, because I have no idea! Scrumptious dinner :)


12 Lisa (bakebikeblog) December 16, 2010 at 8:54 pm

What a perfect end to the day!! Well aside from the smoke in the house that is :)


13 Eating Bird Food December 16, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Your dinner looks delicious. I think I need to make myself something similar asap!


14 Leanne @ A Lot on my Plate December 16, 2010 at 8:59 pm

That fire looks soooo nice and toasty! I wish I was curled up next to it right now with a cup of tea! Enjoy :)


15 Christine December 16, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Keep trying!! I love a roaring fire– when we visit my Aunt’s house for Thanksgiving I always grab the seat closest to the fireplace….

Enjoy your warm and cozy evening!


16 Estela @ Weekly Bite December 16, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Fireplaces are the best! So cozy and warm :)


17 Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life December 16, 2010 at 9:02 pm

That salad looks phenomenal!
I sooo miss having a fireplace. I grew up with one at my parents’ house, but it’s been two years since I’ve lived there. Something nice and cozy to look forward to on Christmas though! :)


18 [email protected] December 16, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I love roasted veggies on a salad- esp. w/blue cheese! Cute fireplace.


19 Dee December 16, 2010 at 9:07 pm

That salad looks all sorts of amazing!


20 Erin@ Shortcut to Bliss December 16, 2010 at 9:14 pm

When we lived in Utah and Nebraska we could never find a house we liked with a fireplace. Now that we are in California with 60 degree weather we have a great fireplace. =) I love your salad.


21 Holly @ couchpotatoathlete December 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm

I *looooove* our gas fireplace :)

Is Matt wearing snow pants???


22 Allie (Live Laugh Eat) December 16, 2010 at 9:25 pm

We have a gas fireplace but never ever use it…my dad says it wastes gas. Ai yi yi. Stay warm tonight!


23 Allie December 16, 2010 at 9:27 pm

I’m glad you guys tamed the flames! :p dinner looks great, especially next to a warm and cozy fire :) Hope you are enjoying the snow!


24 sb December 16, 2010 at 9:33 pm

For your own safety please read this:

I just saw an episode of Holmes on Homes (on HGTV… love that guy!) where the people had a similar problem of smoke coming back into the house instead of going up the chimney.

Turns out that the chimney was not properly made, and had YEARS of soot build-up inside from lack of sweeping. If you have either or both of those problems, using your fireplace is a MAJOR fire hazard.

Please, for your own safety, if you haven’t already… have a chimney expert inspect the chimney before you have any more fires in there!

From the Holmes on Homes website ( )

Upon inspecting the chimney itself to determine why the smoke kept coming back into the house, Mike and his chimney specialist, Vince Aube, saw that the chimney in the basement was improperly formed and hadn’t been cleaned in years.


25 katie December 17, 2010 at 12:44 am

yeah, seriously… you guys probably just need a major cleaning. I can’t believe that you didn’t have a chimney sweep come and inspect the setup after the first time you tried to build one in that fireplace.


26 Kath December 17, 2010 at 8:50 am

We were told it had been swept.

And this was the first time – the other first was in our OTHER house, which had also just been tended by a sweep when we bought it.


27 Marci December 16, 2010 at 9:39 pm

The dinner looks so good! I hope the fire gave off some warmth for all the work. I just wrote today how it’s funny that Ina Garten always says to use “good” ingredients like olive oil and cheeses. It’s important!


28 Katy (The Singing Runner) December 16, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Your dinner looks GREAT! And that’s too funny about the fireplace! ๐Ÿ˜‰


29 Stephanie December 16, 2010 at 9:47 pm

our new house has a gas fireplace and i love it! this is our second winter with it and i don’t know that i could go back now :) fun dinner, like the spice combos on the veggies


30 melissa (fitnessnyc) December 16, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I am not sure how veggies can look that good!


31 Paige @Running Around Normal December 16, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Gas fires are where it’s at! Yours looks super cozy though. Glad you got it to start a’burnin’!


32 Mama Pea December 16, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Matt looks like Santa.



33 Michele W. December 16, 2010 at 10:19 pm

We had a wood burning fireplace growing up, and my Dad always said “make sure your wood is VERY VERY dry” & then before you start the fire, use a piece of newspaper rolled into a cone, light the paper and hold it up towards the chimney to “heat the chimney” supposedly this will draw the smoke up, once you’ve done that for a few minutes and before you burn yourself use what’s left of the cone to light the wood. It always seemed to work for Dad and Grandpa, hope it helps!


34 Michele W. December 16, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Just make sure it’s clear of soot etc, have the chimney inspected and or cleaned, then you won’t have a fire hazard on your hands!


35 Heather December 16, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Thanks for the Garlic Gold discount today! I have wanted to order for a while but was a little discouraged by the price – $10 off (and free upgraded shipping!) was just the nudge I needed.


36 Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 16, 2010 at 10:21 pm

the colors and textures of your salad just POP! and the napkins…such beautiful pics!

glad you got the fire goin! :)


37 Heather December 16, 2010 at 10:26 pm

I would love a fireplace – it is one of my requests if we ever get a house. That and a porch.

Enjoy the fire!


38 Amalfi Girl December 16, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Mmmm…roasted veggie salad…
Two words. Goat. Cheese.


39 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 16, 2010 at 10:47 pm

It sure is col doutside!!!


40 Hannah December 16, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Oh my gosh, Matt looks like a Christmas Elf! I want an elf husband! ๐Ÿ˜›


41 Kiran December 16, 2010 at 11:09 pm

I love colorful and full of texture salads :) Looks so yummy!


42 Anna @ ciaotochow December 16, 2010 at 11:41 pm

I love eating by the fireplace – it’s all warm and cozy…and, with that salad alongside me, I sure know I’d be content! :)


43 Alaina December 17, 2010 at 12:18 am

Looks like such a comfortable evening!

Bubble bath sounds good right about now. :-)


44 Amanda December 17, 2010 at 12:52 am

Don’t give up on your wood burning fireplace! They really are great! We just LOVE ours. One tip that might help to keep the smoke from coming into the house, when that starts to happen, simply open a window (one close by would be best) and the smoke should go straight back up the chimney. (Just a little trick we were told by my in-laws, who have fires every night in their wood burning fireplace- in the winter of course). Also, rolled and/or crumpled up newspaper shoved under your log holder is a pretty easy way to get the fire started. SImply light the edges of the paper once you have one or two pieces of wood in the fireplace. If it doesn’t start right away, just add more paper! Once the first few logs have caught fire, then you can add a few more on top! Hope this will help you to enjoy your wood burning fireplace, because there really isn’t anything better in the winter!


45 Rebekah December 17, 2010 at 2:28 am

I can just taste those roasted carrots in your photos! That bowl looks hearty and satisfying. I always forget how much I love roasting veggies…the way it concentrates the flavors and brings out the sweetness. Seriously, my mouth is watering looking at these photos!


46 stacey-healthylife December 17, 2010 at 6:46 am

I have a gas fireplace and I do love the simplicity of it.


47 Lauren December 17, 2010 at 6:48 am

We are getting a gas fireplace in our new home and I simply can not wait!! I love fires but I hate the work. The gas one will be such a nice addition.

Love dinner by the fire. You’re getting me excited for my new home. ๐Ÿ˜‰


48 Lauren at KeepItSweet December 17, 2010 at 6:57 am

i’ve always wanted a gas fireplace… dream house item!


49 Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine December 17, 2010 at 7:29 am

My dad is a master fire builder, but I’m pretty sure I have no idea how to start a fire myself. So much more complicated than people think!


50 Madeline - Greens and Jeans December 17, 2010 at 7:45 am

This makes me feel less bad about being afraid of my fireplace! I moved into an apartment with a wood burning fireplace a couple of months ago and I am really nervous about accidentally setting my apartment on fire…


51 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin December 17, 2010 at 8:00 am

I’ve been obsessed with roasted vegetable salads lately!


52 Heather (Heather's Dish) December 17, 2010 at 8:03 am

mmmmm, roasted veggie salads are the best…as long as they’re warm! yum!


53 aubrey (italktofood) December 17, 2010 at 8:32 am

i just love your salads. They’re always colorful and big! I also love that its not just a bunch of salad greens.
I use honey and sometimes oil/vinegar as my dressing now thanks to you.

You and matt look like you have so much fun together! :) So nice.


54 Kath December 17, 2010 at 8:49 am

RE. Fireplace. It HAS been tended to by a chimney sweep according to our landlords, who gave us permission to use it.


55 Katie (The Boston Marathoner) December 17, 2010 at 8:49 am

The next place I live *will* have a fireplace (maybe. if I can afford it.) Enjoy yours while you have it! Also – I love the decoration you have hanging above your mantel.


56 Darlene December 17, 2010 at 8:57 am

Just a suggestion on the fire be careful of your christmas tree keep it really watered or it is going to dry out fast and needles will drop.We had our tree by our heater one year and within a week it was a naked tree LOL


57 Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) December 17, 2010 at 9:02 am

What a fabulous dinner!

It’s possible that for the fire, the chimney just needs to be cleaned! We have a wood fire going all winter long, and it needs to be cleaned out at least once a year (debris can easily build up in the chimney.)

There’s nothing quite as cozy as a warm fire place on a cold winter day. ๐Ÿ˜€


58 Barbara(Blood, Sweat and Heels) December 17, 2010 at 9:30 am

YUM! That sounds amazing!


59 rebecca lustig December 17, 2010 at 9:46 am

i loveee the smell of a fireplace. it makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. until i wake up the next day and my hair smells like it. thats not so fun.. haha

happy friday!


60 tom in Maine December 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

Hi Kathy – love the blog. For a fire, the draft is key before starting your fire. Sometimes you can hold a small piece of paper up the flue partway and light it to start warming it up. Also, you can open a window an inch in the room and that will help the negative air pressure. Enjoy.


61 Lana December 17, 2010 at 11:14 am

It always amazes me how such a simple meal can look and taste so good! Roasted veggies = salad heaven!


62 Meagan December 17, 2010 at 11:23 am

That dinner of roasted veggies looks great! I love Matt’s outfit.


63 Katie G. December 17, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Hey Kath, LOVE the circular (iron?) design over your fireplace! I am looking for something just like that for my bedroom..simple, circular, and not too heavy. Where did you get it?

By the way, veggies look awesome!


64 Ally December 17, 2010 at 3:40 pm

We had a wood fireplace for years and I miss it terribly. We used it all the time, gas fireplaces just aren’t the same :(
We never had any problems except one time squirrels made a nest in there. We had the chimney swept every year and it still happened. It’s highly likely there’s something going on wiht the chimney. I don’t think there are any secrets to making a fire since I can do it!


65 Alicia December 17, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Before you try and light your fire your need to wick the flu, basically you light a piece of news paper and hold it up into the flu. This draws the warm air up and pushed the cooler air out. This should create the draw of air that you need to take all of your smoke up not in.

Try that next time and let me know if it worked.

Happy holidays!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: