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)

An Adoption Story : Journey to Ethiopia with the Long Family

Meet our friends, Andy and Bethany Long. They have two awesome kids, Carter and Piper, and are currently awaiting the arrival of a new addition from Ethiopia. As they were introducing themselves to some new friends in our small group last week, Bethany said they had three kids but one just happens to still be in Ethiopia. 

I love that. 

Their anticipation and excitement for the child they haven't even met yet encourages faith and hope in everyone who hears their story. 

Get ready to have your world rocked by Jesus and the amazing things He is doing across the nations. 

{photograph by Ginny Webb @ Sleepy Fox Photography}

{photograph by Ginny Webb @ Sleepy Fox Photography}


This is their story:

Our story starts the same as any other family's really. We wanted a baby. We had two children and we wanted another child. We had been trying to get pregnant for about three months before we stopped and reassessed the situation. Something didn't feel right. We weren't excited. We were nervous and unsure. This was not the way we had felt with our first two children. So we decided to take some time to think and pray. As we did, the question came up: What about adoption? 

I had a lot of reasons why we should not adopt: I was not a super mom. Only wise godly parents can adopt and I was not in that camp. I was scared. There were too many things that could go wrong. Even with all my objections, my husband and I could not let the question go. We kept talking and thinking and praying. Over the course of the next 6 months or so, God began to take away all of my excuses. 

He began to show me that I didn't need to be a super mom. In fact, there was no way that I could be. I am a sinner. I will fail my children. My hope for parenting any of my children has to be Jesus because He will never fail them. I did not need to be scared because I am not in control. I am also not alone in this task of parenting. Jesus has given me His Spirit. And so slowly everything I had been pointing to and saying, “See, there is no way we could do this,” slipped away. On April 11th, 2011, it dawned on me, that after my fears had been stripped away, all that was left was a little boy who didn't have a mommy - a little boy who needed to be loved. In that moment, I knew that I wanted to love him. It was that simple. There was no turning back then. 

I did not say yes to adoption because I became the mom I thought that I should be or had because I had no uncertainties, but because I saw that Jesus would be enough. My fears didn't need to control me. 

Jesus was bigger than all the “what if's”. 

So, six months of paperwork and 22 months of waiting... here we are. We have had ups and downs in the process. It has taken much longer than we had hoped. But during that time I have seen Jesus provide money through people who love us. I have had to trust that God is good even when it feels like He has forgotten us and our son. I have had to believe that He is working even when I can't see anything happening. Even though it has been hard, it has been a rich time. Hopefully in the next couple of months we will get our referral; which is an email that says “we have matched you with a child”. It will have a file with some facts and a couple of pictures. It may not seem like much but I have dreamed of that moment for 28 months. It will be the moment I see my son for the first time. All the paperwork, all the waiting, will be worth it. I am not going to pretend that adoption will be easy. I have read too many books to be that naive. But I am convinced that this is what I want to do. I want to walk alongside this boy. I want to weep with him over the brokenness of this life. I want to love him. I want to be his mommy. 

And that is the story of our third child. It is different than I imagined it would be. It is a bigger plan than I dared to dream on my own. God is weaving our family together. I know it will be beautiful, not because we are amazing- we are just normal people. No, it will be beautiful because Jesus is doing it.

-Bethany


{photograph by Ginny Webb @ Sleepy Fox Photography}

Jitney's Journeys has created a set of chatter tiles to express the story of their hearts with the scripture of their choosing that has carried them through the adoption process. Half of the proceeds from each chatter tile purchase will be donated to the Long Family as they continue to follow Christ in obedience and come closer to bringing their child home.


We recommend buying a set directly from us (via email) or from Andy or Bethany. However, you can also purchase a set from our Etsy shop here which we had to bump up in price because of fees and shipping costs. However, if you live in Huntsville or are friends / family of the Long's, you can enter coupon code JOURNEYTOETHIOPIA and receive free shipping [in other words, you can pick it up from them or The Todd Nest (the in-home Jitney's Journeys "boutique")]. 

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. 


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?