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The Sustainable Couple ~ A Guest Post

Today, I’m pleased to share another Iowa blog with you! I’m so happy to connect with local Iowa readers and feature them on my blog. Honestly, in the whole state of Iowa there are only about 2 million people, so it’s always exciting to connect with like-minded people. There aren’t that many of us crazies out here…and we’ve got to stick together! The same book that initially inspired me to lead a more sustainable life also inspired Kelli and I am always thrilled to find people doing some of the same stuff we try to do in our family. 🙂

So, please welcome Kelli from The Sustainable Couple!

Hey there! We are excited and honored to introduce ourselves and share a little bit about our quest to live an eco-friendly, sustainable life with the space we have in the city, and our frugal projects around our historic Iowa home. 

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 live in Eastern Iowa in the downtown historic district of a larger (by Iowa standards) city. We’ve lived in our home, which was built in 1840, for just about four years. Isn’t she a beaut? 
It would be an understatement to say that we enjoy renovating our home and undertaking frugal projects. We’re I am kinda nuts about home improvement projects. Nearly every project we do involves repurposing materials, and John (an electrician by trade) does almost 100% of the construction legwork when I get a crazy idea for a project.

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.

Ahem. Anyway.

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.

It would be awesome if you would come along for the ride, follow our blog and ‘like’ us on Facebook. It’s a party, I promise.

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.



Tuesday 25th of June 2013

Love your house and you two have done a beautiful job with it! Your garden beds are amazing with that drip irrigation system. I'm quite envious! So glad to see that there are some young couples out there that want to live light and are willing to do most of the work themselves. My husband and I lived like that for several decades, but now rely more on the local markets. But that's o.k. At least we still know where most of our food is coming from. Great post and so nice to meet you!

Lea Ann @ Mommy's Wish List

Tuesday 25th of June 2013

Never have I seen such an eloquent use of the word hillbilly-esque. Hilarious. And enviable.

Laura @ Stealthy Mom

Friday 21st of June 2013

Front yard gardening? In Iowa? You rebels! :) I love your rain barrel collection.

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As an Amazon Associate Michelle Marine, SimplifyLiveLove, earns from qualifying purchases.