Save On Your Electric Bill : Free Energy Audit

Do you feel like your electric bill is outrageous??

We kind of did.

So I called Huntsville Utilities and asked for an explanation as to why our reading was that high.

We only turn lights on if absolutely necessary, utilizing every last drop of sunshine our large windows can hold.
Our thermostat is set at a brisk 61 degrees in the winter, using our fireplace to heat up the house.

What other extremes could we explore?

"We offer free energy audits for all of our customers," the kind HSV Utilities employee responded.

Sign. Me. Up.

A couple of days later, Brad (the energy audit man) walked around our house with me, pointing out areas where we could do a little handiwork while saving a lot. 

Do we recommend this program? Absolutely. It's free and Brad printed out a full-blown Energy Audit Report that explained areas where most cold / warm air is lost and how we can improve those areas for better energy usage. The report also includes an estimated cost of repairs along with a Quality Program Participant List if we choose to hire someone to fix the problems. 

I normally feel obligated to working with a company if they come out to give us an estimate or to evaluate an issue at our house. But there is no obligation in working with the utility company as a contractor... because it's not a contractor. They aren't the ones who will be doing any of the work required to make our house keep more energy efficient. This also makes their evaluations more trustworthy.

Fortunately, we will be able to DIY most of the stuff from our report. For those of you who may not have this free service offered through your utility company, here is a list of things that Brad recommended we do...
Also, please remember that our house was built in 1965. There are a few issues that stem from the age of the home.


  • Spray expansion foam around pluming openings under the sinks in the kitchen and bathrooms 
  • Glaze single pane windows around the panes and caulk all windows at the edges to prevent air and moisture from coming in
  • Ensure all of the doors leading to the outside of the home are actual exterior doors and not interior doors
  • Exterior doors should be sealed on the sides, top, and bottom to prevent air and moisture from coming in (jamb-up weatherstripping and thresholds with vinyl bulbs are recommended for sealing existing doors)
  • Attic access doors and pull down stairs should be insulated and weatherstripped if located within conditioned areas
  • Make sure your HVAC system is serviced annually if more than ten years old, and on a two to three year basis for systems less than then years old
    Maintenance should always include cleaning the coils and an inspection of the condensate drain and overflow system.
  • Check for places where air may be penetrating your house and either caulk the openings or add a foam seal where you find the problem
    This may include exterior / interior wall receptacles, outside walls at floor, wiring openings, fireplace damper, and / or light fixtures.

Needless to say, we have a lot of weatherstripping to put up, pipes to warm with foam sealant and cracks to caulk. 


If you would like a free energy audit from HSV Utilities, call the number from the website and ask the operator to connect you with the energy department. They'll be able to help you from there. Good luck! 

Postscript: There tend to be many frustrations with utility companies but I have been incredibly impressed with the immediacy of HSV Util. to solve the problems we've had so far. We owe about 98% of this post to Huntsville Utilities and give them the credit for it. We wouldn't have any of this information if it wasn't for their guidance and service. Thank you, HSV Utilities for going above and beyond.

The Best of Etsy, Huntsville Edition : Why It Fueled Us

You would’ve thought that Jitney’s Journeys had been announced as the Top 100 young businesses to watch. We were that excited. The honor was basically the equivalent for us. As far as we know, this is the first list (outside of Etsy treasuries) that someone has recognized Jitney’s Journeys in some form or another for our products. [We should really put a marketing strategy in place for 2014.]

AL.com included Jitney’s Journeys in “The Best of Etsy, Huntsville Edition” earlier this week. We were one of twelve companies featured. Even though we’re the last photo in the list, our placemat photo headlined for the article when the author posted to Facebook. That counts for something, right? We wouldn’t have even known about it if it had not been for my sweet friend Rebekah who texted me with, “Jitney’s Journeys was featured on AL.com!!!!” Haha!

This announcement fueled me.

I began writing out 2014 goals (personal and for business), class lists, mixed media ideas, even Christmas products for next year’s line, all in the midst of finishing current orders for Christmas.

Encouragement fuels us to move forward faster and with more stamina, a clearer mind.

I keep a file of encouraging letters and emails from past customers (doesn’t everybody?). 
Those letters and emails fuel me.

You know why?

Because those letters and emails… and even this article… they’re not about us.

The majority of the letters and emails include gratitude, not as much about the placemats or the actual product. The words of gratitude are targeted toward the small piece of cardstock we include in every package with a peacock feather on one side and a verse on the other:

But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. - 2 Corinthians 3:16-18


It is so not about us.

This article... that was Jesus. As far as we're concerned, Jesus led her to our page and that's the only explanation of her finding us in order to announce us as a "Best of" candidate. 

Jitney’s Journeys was featured.

While, yes, it is “our” company; it’s first and foremost Jesus’ company.

That’s the reason we can boast (1 Cor. 1:31).

It is not about us, has never been about us, and never will be about us.

It’s about Jesus and bringing glory and praise to His name.

If we ever lose focus of that, it is our daily prayer that He will take it away from us.

He’s the reason we have what we have - from talent to skill to creativity to tangible materials to accolades.

He’s the Creator, the Lifeline, and the Sustainer of our marriage and our business.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever and ever. (Romans 11:36)

The CD : Jitney Jams Year III

We were a few months late getting them out again this year, but the Jitney's Jams is back and ready to blare through your stereo system.

{If you don't know about our annual album, read about the history behind it here.}


The theme for this year's album is: Wake Up

This may come as a surprise to you but months of thought go into our album - 12 months, to be exact - sometimes even more. {We already have a few songs on the 25-year anniversary playlist. CDs probably won't be around by that year though.} Our goal each year is to methodically plan the songs to flow in certain ways. 

This year's mix was planned in such a way to demonstrate our waking up physically and also spiritually throughout this past year. Each song or a few lyrics from each song have a special meaning behind it. Granted "our meaning" behind a lot of the songs are probably way different from the intentional meanings of the lyrics. For instance, some of the lyrics in the song "Lover of the Light" by Mumford & Sons are parallel to our walks with Christ, as He is the Light, but you'll have the chance to read all about those meanings soon. 

There is purpose in every song that we've added to every album, but this is the first year we'll be sharing those purposes with you. We'll post about the explanations in a blog series so that it's not info overload. The first post will explain songs #1-5, the second post #6-10, and you get the point. 

Hope you enjoy!!

OH! And, of course, this year we will be sending CDs out to a few of our blog readers. If you would like a copy, comment below or on our Facebook page. We'd love for you to jam out with us! 






The Garden : FREE MULCH in Huntsville & Bloom of the Week

Looking for a way to spruce up your garden beds? 

Our neighbors told us about the free mulch from the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. We don't have access to a truck so we grabbed an old plastic trashcan and unpacked a few more of our Rubbermaid tubs, loaded them in Silver Flash, grabbed our shovels and headed down the road.

There were huge piles of wood chip mulch - FREE mulch (well, donations are appreciated)!! It took us about twenty minutes to shovel as much as we could in the tubs and trashcan so it wasn't that bad. We barely made a dent in the mulch piles. Between our tubs, there was just enough mulch to fill the front yard and it looks lovely!

So, thank you, Botanical Gardens of Huntsville. You deserve the Award for Being Awesome this month. 


We're enjoying the blooms from the front of our vegetable gardens. I picked a few marigolds and placed them in a tiny teacup last week to add to our dining room centerpiece.


But this week's bloom feature goes out to the Black-eyed Susans which have so lovingly overtaken the end of our walking path through the garden. We're trying to figure out how to take care of that problem. 


The Garden : Assembling the Tomato-Trailing Trellis for the Raised Garden Bed


How can you transform an overgrown raised garden bed into a thriving vegetable garden? 

We're so glad you asked...

The raised garden bed looked something like this when we first looked at the house:


Add on three months of glorious Alabama sunshine and rain, and well, this garden bed needed some tough TLC. Sounds like an oxymoron, but it's achievable.

My mom uprooted every single inch of greenery in this bed and cleaned it all out. The huge elephant ears that you saw from our herb garden were transplanted from this garden first. It was unbelievably hard work. There are no words to express our gratitude towards my mom and dad for all of their help.

Next we covered the bed in fresh Miracle Grow, mixing in the old dirt. After a quick shop to Lowe's and the local garden center, we planted lettuce, tomatos, squash, eggplant, jalapeño peppers, bell peppers, basil, cilantro, parsley, zinnias and nasturtium (which is an edible flower and quite delicious!).


JD soaked them in some serious amounts of water...

And then it was time to assemble the trellis:



There is something so endearing about seeing the two favorite men in your life work together.


Isn't he such a stud?


They even let me help!


They laid a board down the center for ease of picking and watering the plants while walking through the center instead of walking in our garden bed.

In about two weeks, everything flourished!!


Our greatest gardening endeavor is for our raised bed garden to look like this masterpiece in a few months (or at least next summer):


This is a truly thriving vegetable garden, cared for from seed to veggie by my dad. 

He and I spent Father's Day morning sitting in his garden, drinking hot tea and listening to birds. I'm not sure if it was his best Father's Day ever but it was certainly my favorite!



We Dashed Like Warriors.


This past Saturday, we gathered with thousands across the Southeast to compete in the Warrior Dash 5K, the world's largest running series.

Blood. 
Sweat.
Tears.
Ropes.
Barbed Wire. 
Mud.
Fire.
Beards.
Turkey Legs.

Here's a taste of what our race obstacles looked like...


The Warrior Dash came to Alabama for the first time this year. Appropriately, the race was held in the city of Warrior, Alabama. 


We thought the fire trucks were present because of the fire obstacle (in case someone caught on fire). However, we finished the race and found the competitors washing off the mud and dirt under the showers of the fire trucks' water hoses. Crazy.


Brandon and Theresa (JD's sister), and Matt and Julie all came up to compete with us.
Brandon and Theresa came up with the perfect idea of coordinating the super rad Tees, bandanas and socks (bright ones for the gals and camo for the guys). Theresa and I designed and crafted it all though. ;) Of course, us girls had to paint our nails to match our tie-dyed shirts.

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Pre-Dash Photo Op....


How about the awesome stenciled warrior helmets?


Post-Dash......


Champions.




We ran into Mo, a college friend of JD, Brandon and Theresa. Check out his handlebar 'stache and shirt ("You can go blind from my pure awesomeness")?


After the race, we drove up to Julie's parents' house for a fantastic dinner. Honestly. It was a dinner for true warriors, or Vikings, if you will. It's a good thing we received these shirts, metals and Viking hats as a reward for surviving in the race. The outfits made for perfect dinner attire.

The weekend held amazing, Spirit-filled conversations and laughter between a few of our favorite people. Thanks Mrs. Leslie and Mr. Craig for hanging out with us crazy couples and for opening up your lovely home to us without caring about getting mud all over your floor. We had such a blast!


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By the way, JD and I flew back in from Hawaii last Wednesday! The past three and a half weeks were magical, challenging and awe-inspiring. We're going to postpone writing about Germany a few more posts because we are that excited about our Hawaii adventure this year. 



Cathedral Caverns and Monte Sano with B-Money and Theresa

A few months ago, JD's sister Theresa and her husband, Brandon (or B-money, according to JD), spent a couple of days with us in Huntsville for the first time since our move. I'm sure you've heard of a "power couple" but I'm set in the fact that you haven't met a power couple until you've met these two amazing people.


They work as house parents for the Baptist Children's Village in Mississippi. Yeah. It's a pretty intense job, to say the least. But they're perfect for it because God has stirred their hearts and carried them through. It's been awesome to hear about the ways Christ has worked in them and through them to love on these kids who possibly haven't received much love from their real parents.


We, of course, made some delicious breakfast for our much-anticipated house guests. Cinnamon rolls, sausage, OJ and coffee (JD drinks his coffee black... Theresa and I obviously prefer coffee with our cream).


We took them on a nice hike through Monte Sano...


And then a journey through the amazing Cathedral Caverns...


And lookie there...


We have officially identified a fallout shelter. 


A nice gentleman took our photo outside of the giant mouth of the cave, measuring 126 feet wide and 25 feet high. 


A caving trip just wouldn't be the same without a trip to the souvenir store and some Rock Crystals... so Theresa and I begged the guys to buy us a pack. They are just too sweet. The guys, I mean. ;)


We were so thankful to have Brandon and Theresa stay with us for a few days. Brandon and JD always have the best time together (they were roommates in college), and Theresa and I immediately became best friends when we met for the first time. It is such a blessing to call Theresa, not my sister-in-law, but my sister. The same goes for JD and Brandon. We couldn't be more thankful for our families and the wonderful adventures we get to go on together!!


We want to hear about your town! If your family came to visit you, where would you take them to visit if they don't live close by?