Wood Stove Maintenance – Gasket Replacement

I love heating our house with a wood stove. To me there are few things more calming than sitting in front of a crackling fire while it’s chilly outside. It’s the type of heat that reaches my bones, not in a way that oil heat ever could. Sure we wear socks a little more at certain times of the year, but overall I wouldn’t trade it for oil again as long as we’re still able to cut and split wood.

Just like any heating system though, it requires maintenance. From creosote in the chimney, to cleaning the glass front (at least in our case) there are things to do. After 6 winters of use it was time to replace the gasket in the top as it had become a little…er…less than ideal. 

WoodstoveMaintenance (3) WoodstoveMaintenance (2) WoodstoveMaintenance (1)To remove the gasket Andy ran a screw driver around it to loosen it, and then scraped to remove any left over bits.

WoodstoveMaintenance (6) WoodstoveMaintenance (9)For installation we needed a pair of scissors, a new gasket and gasket cement.

WoodstoveMaintenance (4)WoodstoveMaintenance (5)First Andy did a dry fit of the gasket to ensure the length we needed, and then cut it to size.

WoodstoveMaintenance (13) WoodstoveMaintenance (16)To finish it off Andy removed the test fitted gasket, put down some gasket cement, and then replaced the gasket. Overall the maintenance took about 15 minutes and will last years more to come. I call that a pretty good return on investment.

WoodstoveMaintenance (20)xo,


Siding The House: The Long Road Home

This past week Andy took vacation time to start siding the addition and two sides of the original house. I was going to write just about that process, but it just didn’t seem fair to not take a long look back to June 2012 when we started the addition. Quite frankly it’s staggering even to us how much has been done in 15 months.

To give some perspective, since it’s been a while, last June 2012 Andy was building the base for the new part of the addition, and tearing the siding off the house. It still perplexes me that the owners before us purposely built the addition to look like this. 

DSC_7477-01Many months and laborious hours later, as autumn 2012 started setting in, the house was ready for exterior insulation. The blue shell became jokingly known in the neighborhood as “the blue igloo”, because it looked like a giant Igloo cooler. The entire addition had the blue insulation on it through a cold winter, since there was no time to side prior to snow. Since this was exterior insulation and it was properly taped it held up to the elements perfectly fine.

DSC_0191-01The insulation isn’t a permanent siding though, and we knew this autumn (2013) we would need to get the siding on. One winter is one winter enough for exterior insulation to be exposed to harsh New England winters. The siding however wasn’t just for the addition, it needed to be tied into the original house.

Since late September/the beginning of this October we have had to (in addition to other winterizing needs around the house):

  • Tear the siding off the two sides of the original house that tie into the addition
  • Re-frame and replace the odd basement looking windows in the original house with windows that matched the rest of the addition
  • Remove the lilac (far right) from the edge of the house, which we planted into a hedgerow to create a natural fence with the neighbors which will grow in over time
  • Set up staging
  • Install exterior insulation on the original sections of the house
  • Build window trim for the new windows in both the original and addition (16 windows including two double windows)
  • Strap up the entire exterior where we would be putting siding
  • Install the siding

I knew when the house was completed it would look cohesive, but it was hard to tell how it was going to achieve cohesiveness when it looked like this.

IMG_6985After I took this photo I got my hands on a pair of gloves and a pry bar. Then Andy came out. In no time the front of the original house looked a little bit barer.

IMG_6986Within 24 hours the back of the house was pretty similar, and after waiting for our windows to come in, Andy removed the old windows and started framing up for the new ones. 

IMG_7102 DSC_7392-01Once the windows were installed, it was time to put on the exterior insulation. It was at this part that Andy stepped back and proclaimed that it actually looked like a house.

DSC_7589-03With the exterior insulation in place, Andy turned the garage into a trim shop and made classic simple trim for around the windows. He primarily used wood we already had on hand, and bought the bottom pieces. The technical name for them I have no idea, but it’s basically the outer sill. Maybe that is the name. Who knows? (Answer: Andy knows, but I don’t want to get up and ask). Update: I totally forgot to mention, until Andy reminded me after reading the post, that “wood we had on hand” has more of a back story. Do you remember when we sawed a bunch of lumber from our and our neighbors property? The wood for the trim in the entire house, interior and exterior, came from this.

DSC_7583-01With the trim installed it was time to set up the staging, get the strapping done, and start putting the actual siding on. I was working all last week which means not many photos were taken, but here are a few snapshots I took in the evenings when I got home. About 1/2 of the front of the house is also complete.


As for our siding choice? Fiber cement. We knew we didn’t want vinyl, and loved the look of wood. While we would have loved something like dipped shingles, similar to our garage, it would be slow going up, pretty expensive and high on maintenance. As it turned out Andy actually had a whole bunch of fiber cement he had been saving for years. It made the decision pretty easy. We will need to buy some more, but already having a bunch will significantly cut down on the final cost. Overall I think we would have chosen fiber cement even if we didn’t have some on hand already. It’s cheaper than wood, easier to maintain and typically costs less than wood – especially when installing ourselves. We did buy a new piece of equipment for installing it though. Fiber cement can (and likely will) do a number on your saw, so we bought a used one for $120 at a pawn shop to cut the siding with. Andy, reasonably, didn’t want to destroy his really nice one. Even with that added cost this will still be cheaper overall.

Right now the boards are a grayish color which we will leave for this winter since it will be too cold to paint by the time it’s done. Eventually the house will be the same green as the trim work so we have a monochrome color throughout the exterior. Why not do a separate trim color? Well first, we love the look of a monochrome home, and it fits the style. Second, it makes painting and touch ups a lot easier.

As of today, that’s where we are with the exterior. There’s still about a hundred and one things to do before ever calling this house “complete” but I can say we’re steadily moving along and quite comfortable. The house is a lot warmer than it was a few winters ago, and we’re still loving our new living room area. In fact, we just recently moved the wood stove in – but that’s another blog post for another time.

All for now. Time to head on outside and work the garden under before the ground freezes, which should be any day now.


The Tasty ‘Tatoe Harvest

Back when I built the classiest potato box ever, I was interested in testing how it worked in comparison to a row of potatoes. I was also wondering if we would really yield more back than we planted. Frankly, I wanted to try it just to try it. I had no preconception about how it would go, but I truly enjoy trying new growing concepts in my garden and this seemed like a good one to give a go.

PotatoHarvest (11)After a summer of growing, the moment of truth came. Oh, and yeah, we harvested the potatoes back in August. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am nothing if not timely in posting sometimes.

PotatoHarvest (1)PotatoHarvest (2)We eventually pulled the whole box off the soil pile once it was loose and started slowly and carefully digging through the soil.

PotatoHarvest (5)WE STRUCK GOLD. 

PotatoHarvest (3)At first we were like “there’s no way this can be it” and then as if by the magic of logic, we were proved right.

PotatoHarvest (4)….and then like a growing miracle, we started getting more and more.

PotatoHarvest (6)We even pulled up some beet greens from a nearby patch that had been overtaken with weeds.

PotatoHarvest (7)The tasty, soily, pieces of delight made my heart fill with joy.

PotatoHarvest (9)We kept them for a while, but then I couldn’t resist and we ate them as simple as possible – cut up if they were big enough and roasted with olive oil (still raw in the picture below).

PotatoHarvest (10)The final analysis?

I would say that we didn’t yield many more potatoes than when we grew them in rows. That said, it took up a lot less space in our garden and that’s a huge plus. Will we grow potatoes again? Maybe.


  • There are certain vegetables, like tomatoes, that taste about 1,000 times better than anything you’ll get in the store. Potatoes pretty much taste like potatoes. I would say these taste slightly better.
  • The seed stock yielded about the same amount of potatoes as I planted, and were more expensive than a bag of organic potatoes at the store.


  • They are really fun to harvest. It’s a blast going out and digging and trying to see what you might get.
  • Regardless of the harvest size, or whether the taste is significantly different than store bought, there’s something about growing your own food that is very very satisfying.

So we’ll see if we do this again. I’m more than happy to support the farmers who are at the farmers market and buy potatoes from them, but I don’t know if I can give up digging in that giant pile and wondering what I’ll find.

It’s just so fun.





I Am Here…

…but I’m also over there.

And there.

And there.

And likely over there too.

In other words – we have a lot going on and my laptop has been a bit more like a good paperweight than it has been a blogging companion for a number of weeks now. So here’s what we’ve been up to, and hopefully I’ll get some posts up soon. For now, follow me on Instagram – @likeacupoftea (click where it says “Instagram” under my photo on the right), it’s the best way to see what’s going on in snippits. Here are some of the items we’ve been up to:

  • Renovations have started on the original house, finishing up some final things in the addition, and tying the two together
  • “New” appliances have been acquired
  • Garden harvesting
  • Garden preserving including dehydrating chili’s and making our own chili powder, dehydrating squash for the first time ever, and longingly looking at greenhouses
  • Baking things
  • Moving landscaping around, which of course I forgot to capture since I was using the backhoe at the time, I’ll figure something out to post about this.
  • Laundry
  • Laundry
  • Vacuuming
  • Giving the dogs love and exercising
  • Living family life
  • Watching the new season of “Alaska: The Last Frontier” at night and thinking how awesome Eve is

So that’s about it. In other words, the snow is coming and mother nature doesn’t wait for the garden to be harvested or the siding to be put on the house or the woodbox to be cleaned out and a preliminary set of logs brought in for when the time comes to use them. The blog and just about everything else outside of work and house land has taken a hit so bear with me. I’m still here. But not. You get it. Find me on instagram where I snap two second shots of the dogs or food most likely before we move onto the next set of necessary things!