Staying Warm this Winter

In Soviet Russia, pool swims in you!
In Soviet Russia, pool swims in you!

How are you planning on staying warm this winter?  I just took a peek at the weather for the next 10 days, and I gotta tell you- enjoy the weekend because after Monday, it's gonna be cold and windy for a good long while.    Living in Texas, we do have the benefit of a mild winter, but "mild" doesn't necessarily mean warm.  It usually means that we don't get foot after foot of snow that sticks for days or weeks on end.  It doesn't mean 30-40 degrees is somehow warmer than we think or that it's not still dang cold outside!  How do we combat this?  Well, here in the great Southwest, what we like to do is grab some friends and hang out around the fire!

Staying Warm with Friends and Family

Let me tell you a short story.  Many more years ago than I'd care to admit, my roommate and I attempted to remedy this exact problem by purchasing a chiminea.  We were broke college students, so we did what any broke college student would do- we bought a cheap, low-quality chiminea from the grocery store.  It was super cool looking, and man, could it put out some heat!  We enjoyed many nights outside with our buds, hanging out by the fire and staying warm despite the bitter cold that surrounded us.  That was until later that very same season, our chiminea effectively crumbled in front of our eyes due to regular and intense heat damage.  Oh well, no worries, right?  We only spent $40 on the thing; no harm, no foul.  Right?  Wrong.  If we had continued to purchase one of these cheap chimineas every winter, by now it would have cost us over $500, not including the wood or any other items necessary to keep that thing going.  Now that we are "grown-ups", we can understand the value in investing in a quality fire pit or fireplace up front, and reaping the benefits for many more years to come, rather than a brand new one every winter.

Price and Value for staying warm

So now that you've gleaned an inside look at my mistakes, don't make them yourself!  A good, quality fire pit can easily last you for years, and not cost much more than $150-$1000 (depending on style, size, and whether it runs on gas or wood).  A gas fire pit is easily the pricier option, but you will save so much money on wood that the price difference hardly matters!  If you think about it, the average time around a fire with good friends can be anywhere from 2-5 hours.  You can go through $20-40 worth of wood in a single night with friends like it's nothing, and what happens if the party goes a little later than anticipated?  You could run out of wood, and then have to move the group inside.  None of this is an issue with a gas-burning fire pit.   Unless you are not paying attention to your propane levels (unlikely), you probably are not going to run out of gas in the duration of your average party or visit with friends.  Not to mention, there is no annoyance of smoke following your guests from a gas-burning pit.  That's not to say wood-burning fire pits are not super cool themselves!  Really nice-looking wood-burning pits are definitely on the cheaper end of the spectrum, and they are much safer than building a bonfire/campfire in your backyard.  You can find them to match pretty much any style, from contemporary and modern to rustic to...yeah you guessed it...natural stone!  You can also get a wood-burning fire pit in just as many sizes as gas, so you can decide how big or small to make your fire.  Below are some links to fire pits for purchase at a few stores we found:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Bond-Manufacturing-Avila-40-in-Square-Envirostone-and-Marble-Propane-Fire-Pit-66598/204220761?N=5yc1vZc6naZbwo5o#customer_reviews

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Necessories-Santa-Fe-Stone-Fire-Pit-Ring-Kit-with-Cooking-Grate-3500008/202786876?N=5yc1vZc6naZbwo5o#customer_reviews

http://www.lowes.com/pd_383763-63094-SRFP11222_0__?productId=3819849&Ntt=fire+pits&Ns=p_product_avg_rating|1&pl=1¤tURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_avg_rating%7C1%26Ntt%3Dfire%2Bpits%26page%3D1&facetInfo=#BVRRWidgetID

http://www.lowes.com/pd_472966-53470-67385_0__?productId=50037280&Ntt=fire+pits+%26amp%3B+accessories&pl=1¤tURL=%3FNtt%3Dfire%2Bpits%2B%2526amp%253B%2Baccessories&facetInfo=#BVRRWidgetID

As you can see, there are a lot of options in the fire pit world for you to chose from, and most are extremely affordable.  Adding a fire pit to your backyard allows you to enjoy your yard and poolside year-round, not just during the more pleasant months.  If you're in the process of building a pool, definitely talk to your builder about an outdoor fireplace like the ones that we did for our customers.  They were easily added onto the projects, and really allow the backyard to "pop" at all times of the year!

Bottom line is this- if you're gonna live in Texas, you need to know that outdoor living happens year-round here, regardless of weather, so make sure you're prepared!  Get a fire feature in your yard now, and by Christmas, you'll be singing yuletide carols around the fire with family and friends, just as Santa always intended.