Chop Your Own Firewood and it Will Warm You TWICE — Buy Nothing New for a Year!

Yesterday was a big day for us here at Thrift & Thrive, as the long awaited renovations on our downstairs showroom finally began! That’s right…in just about two months we will be doubling our size, thanks in large part to the SBIF/TIF money available to building owners that house small businesses in the City of Chicago. Between the owners of our building and others on the block, partnering with Alderman Cullerton and the Portage Park Chamber/Irving Austin Business District, since October of last year, you may have noticed some nice changes happening here in the neighborhood. Last October the scaffolding went up and construction crews completed the roof and tuckpointing on our storefront. Later in the year, contractors upgraded the HVAC, electrical and plumbing and as well, installing the fabulous new wall racks that we purchased from Simplified Building Concepts…causing some minor interruptions in our business, but nothing that we couldn’t work around. We took a break for the holidays and are back at it again with the final (and most exciting) part of the job!

The first step towards the total gut renovation of our basement was demo, which we gladly lent a hand in. IMG_20130124_093951There’s nothing I like more than swinging a hammer (or in this case, a 2×4;) however, it became extremely apparent that we were going to have way more debris than we originally figured, most of which was the 100  year-old plaster ceiling that has been crumbling on our heads since we moved in back in the beginning of 2011. Underneath the plaster (which was easier to remove than originally thought) was some nicely seasoned untreated fir lathe. It seemed such a shame to throw in the dumpster, so we decided to drag out the fire pit and warm ourselves up on a single-digit day. Little did we know, there’s so much left over that it will likely yield us kindling until Fall! At anywhere from $2-$5 a bundle, not to mention the money we’ve saved in not having to pay to cart it away, there’s a ton of savings to be had.

IMG_20121225_154518I’m not proud to admit it, but my Christmas tree is still standing. We bought a beautiful live tree at my son’s school fundraiser, and it seems such a shame to take it down when it is still retaining its green, lush beauty. However, after the amount of wood hauling, chopping and burning that I did yesterday, it made me realize that when we do finally get the chance to take it down (this weekend, really!) I’m going to have to chop it up and season it to burn in fall. I’ve actually even started to think about throwing some other alleyway trees in the back of my pickup and doing the same, but Melissa thinks that might be going too far. In any event, now that we’re so far past being able to haul it to the city park and mulch it (this is only for normal people that remove their tree prior to the epiphany) the only options that remain include leaving it up until next year, hauling it out to the alley for streets and sanitation, or chopping it up. The inner woodsman in me lets out a yelp. Yes. I have made my decision.

On Craigslist, there are tons of ads for free firewood, generally with the catch that you need to load the truck and chop it yourself. However, again when you consider that the average size bundle of cheap firewood at a grocery store runs $6-$8, you really can’t go wrong. One day we hope to install a wood-burning stove in our house, and when we do, I plan on taking full advantage of the “free” section on Craigslist to scratch that wood itch and heat my house for free. That is, if I don’t have any ceilings to demo or, more likely, still have my tree up from the prior year…

What do you think?