So, please welcome Kelli from The Sustainable Couple!
First off, I’m Kelli:
And this stunning male specimen is my husband, John:
It’s OK if you don’t find him stunning. But if you do, don’t say so, it’ll go to his head.
With us are our two dogs, Bruce (on the left) and Manny (on the right):
We’ve done it all. From structural changes in our master bedroom and a door-turned-headboard…
…to giving our foyer a facelift, but maintaining its historic integrity…
…to living room wall art…
…and a faux fire place in the dining room…
…and finally, a kitchen that just needed a fresh coat of paint on a budget.
You can see we’ve done it or have it on our To Do List. Yes, I’ve capitalized “To Do List” – it’s a proper noun around our place.
While things don’t always turn out perfect, we consider ourselves ultimate DIYers, with a passion for reusing what we already have, keeping the charm of our historic home, saving a buck, and reducing our waste.
And I suppose that’s important – ‘reducing our waste’ – right? I mean, our blog is called The Sustainable Couple, which means a lot of things, but to us it means reducing our dependency on consumerism, being more self-sufficient for our livelihood, and living with our environment, not because of it.
Sounds a little cerebral. Sorry. That won’t happen too often on our blog, I promise.
I first became interested in the notion of sustainable living because of the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. While the book was about a family’s efforts to eat locally produced items and grow their own food for one year, it was just the tip of the iceberg for me. I remember snuggling up after a long winter day of teaching and thinking to myself, “Self, you can totally do this.”
And we are totally trying.
After learning more about the locavore movement, I realized that so many of the products (and not just food products) that we consume or use today are delivered to us at a great cost to our wallets and, more importantly, our environment. Naturally, being a true locavore also meant being conscious of our impact on the environment. That, to us, translates into doing as much on our own – being as independent as possible – in the space we have available to us: Our double, corner city lot in the middle of a fairly large Eastern Iowa city.
Through our blog, we try to make it clear that what we’ve done isn’t remarkable. It’s normal. What we’ve done so far is simple, and can be accomplished by any person, with any level of skill, in any setting. I don’t have a green thumb, I can barely use power tools, we both have full-time jobs, and John would much rather watch football than hear the words, “Hey, I was thinkin’…”
Baby steps over four years has brought us here, which isn’t even close to where we want to be.
The first step was planting a garden. I’ve had my share of successes and failures, but grow into a better vegetable gardener every year.
Let me tell ya’ll, there’s nothing more liberating than sitting down for a meal that you created. From dirt and a seed.
Hell yeah, friends. Hell yeah.
After beginning to grow our own food, it was creating a few rain barrels for watering said garden, and John did a great job building them and using local materials.
Recently, I – all by myself – created a hillbilly-esque irrigation system using some soaker hose and a sump pump from my dad’s hog house, which waters the garden using the rain barrels.
I also compost, and recently tried vermicomposting as well, but it bombed. That’s OK, though. We love sharing our failures, especially laughing about them. I still have a ‘traditional’ compost bin in the backyard (that’s the black bin in the top of the photo above!), regardless of the vermicomposting fail.
Also, I preserve food from our garden and by gleaning from others (mostly my parents) by canning and freezing our surplus.
We get as much out of our city lot as possible. Again, baby steps, people. We’re a long way from being like the Urban Homesteaders in Pasadena, California (who are our idols when it comes to this whole urban- and micro-farming idea), but we’re doing what we can with the expertise we have. We’re learning, we’re crashin’ and burnin’, and we’re lovin’ every minute of it.
And before we go, a big, heartfelt thanks goes out to Michelle for allowing us to share our story with all of you!
Over and out.