Monday, May 31

two paths merged

once upon a time, a boy living his life met a girl living her life. they really, really liked each other, so they decided to join their lives into one. and now they're living their life together. two paths crossed & merged into one. seven years ago today. and i'm the lucky girl! i can't say enough good about my husband. his nickname is "shadetree" because, well, he's tall enough to shade me from the sun! but also because he's a great protector, caretaker, & refuge. he's steady & strong. and he's fun! the story of the casteel casa is really a story about us, making our life together. it's been a wonderful seven years, & i look forward to many, many more years together, experiences shared, & memories made. after all, that's what makes a house a HOME.

Monday, May 24

staying sane... i mean, organized!

it's been one whopper of a week around the casteel casa! we organized a massive church yard sale with our youth group to raise money for haiti & an inner city ministry in cincinnati. if you've ever organized your own personal yard sale, you know it's alot of work - all the decluttering, sorting, organizing, pricing, advertising, working, cleaning up...... multiply that by at least 100, & you've got a church yard sale! anyways, that's not what i meant to write about at the moment.

due to the amount of time & energy throwing a yard sale takes, i didn't spend a whole lot of time at home last week, & when we were here, we tended to just drop things as we came in. result: a messy house. there are clothes all over the bedroom floor, toiletries spread out on the bathroom counter, papers & snack containters & dishes covering every flat surface in the den, etc... it's making me nuts! we have spent the better parts of saturday & sunday recuperating, napping, & adding to the clutter. now, it's monday, & it's time to deal with the mess. but we have another super busy week, with plans every single night. so, i've got to find the time to clean up from last week & stay organized to help us stay sane this week.

that's one of my biggest pet peeves. being unorganized right when i most desperately need to find everything in split seconds. we tend to live a busy life most of the time, & we also have a house that has frequent [sometimes impromptu] visitors. and if i get off my routines, it's a slippery slope to casa chaos. and chaos that is due to unorganization drives me batty! i am more likely to lose my temper over not being able to find my keys than at any person. so, what i want to know is how do YOU keep organized so that you can stay sane in the ever present phases of chaos in our lives? do you have any secrets or tips or routines you live & die by? i'd love to hear your feedback & to know i'm not alone!

for now, it's time for me to grab a garbage bag & get moving until time for our evening engagement. in the words of dory [from finding nemo], "just keep swimming..." & hope you don't go insane!

menu plan monday

whew!  what a weekend!  shaun and i are still recuperating from the yard sale & block party.  and we're looking at another insanely busy week, with plans for every single night...  i'm missing being in the kitchen making dinner every night, but i'll have to wait for that next week.  still, planning is important so that we eat out as little as possible.

monday - turkey burgers, corn-on-the-cob, sweet potatoes
tuesday - summer dinner: rabbit food, a.k.a. salads
wednesday - quesadillas
thursday - out to eat [before our niece's 8th grade graduation!]
friday - out to eat [before the youth year-end shebang!]
saturday - breakfast for dinner
sunday - out to eat @ my fave chicago greek restaurant, artopolis!

Monday, May 17

plants for pennies: part 2

we've checked some serious to-do's off the list in the past few days! [granted, credit must go to shaun for doing most of the work!]

  • we tilled up the area for the garden [all shaun!] we had planned on putting the garden down the hill, but the soil down there is so rocky, we opted for next to the house this year. i think i'll like how close it is. shaun borrowed a trailer from a friend to borrow a tiller from a friend. [on a side note of frugality: we'd love to buy our own trailer & our own tiller eventually, but at the same time, there just isn't a need to own everything! borrowing & sharing are wonderful options, not only for your wallet, but also for creating new & better relationships with neighbors & friends.]
[2010 garden]
  • those 27 plants we got for $30... we finally got them all into dirt!
[the hostas - we only divided one]

[the day lilies, alternating red & orange]

[the herbs, in *free* galvanized containers]
  • we finally created the flower bed around the trees out front! we wanted this because we had one like this in raleigh & just loved it, we wanted more area for planting, especially hostas since it's a shadier area, & shaun didn't like mowing between the trees! we outlined it with an extension cord, then spray painted the outline when we got it just like we wanted. shaun sprayed the area to kill off the grass. after it dried, we planted the hostas & day lilies, & then shaun used the borrowed trailer to get a few loads of mulch to cover over the whole bed. we'll continue to fill in the bed with more varieties of hostas [i'm obsessed!], daffodils, & other flowers, then put in a border of paver stones eventually.

  • shaun also wanted to create a flower bed around the back corner of the house to meet up with the garden, mainly to make mowing easier. i'm not sure about how i like it being so big, but i agreed to try it out for a year. we'll plant shrubs, hostas, & flowers, & most importantly something to hide all the uglies on the side of the house!

  • we got more herbs & plants for the garden! we visited the lafayette farmer's market for the first time, & while it's alot smaller than raleigh's with alot less variety, we still loved it! we got rosemary, basil, summer savory, dill & chives to add to the herb containers [i'll get another one. plus one container for nothing but cilantro]. and we got four varieties of tomato, eggplant, & three varieties of peppers for the garden. we still need to hunt down cucumber, squash, & zucchini plants. yum!

it's been raining alot here, so we haven't had a chance to get any of this planted. and i need to hunt down more galvanized containers! rain, rain, go away!

menu plan monday

this is a super busy week with our youth yard sale coming up on saturday.  so, we're doing alot of leftovers and simple meals.

monday - turkey burgers, sweet potatoes, & corn-on-the-cob
tuesday - summer dinner: cookout in the park
wednesday - y.u.m.
thursday - breakfast for dinner
friday - out to eat
saturday - y.u.m.
sunday - block party @ church

*y.u.m. = yesterdays' uneaten meals

Thursday, May 13

saving money

we've had a few unexpected expenses this month like the garage doors & the oven. it also happens to be the month we owe our car insurance, which we only pay every six months [we save $80 per year that way]. we've also got several projects we'd like to get done around the casa this year, so every penny counts! we've been brainstorming ways to save money & to adjust our budget in order to have more money going towards home projects, maintenance, & savings.

a few ideas:

  • canceling cable & home phone service - we do want to keep basic bare minimum cable & have to since we have cable internet, but really, do we need that many channels & do we need to watch so much television? and i got a new cell phone that actually gets reception at the casa, so we no longer need the land line.
  • clipping coupons - i was really good at this in raleigh, but we've decided not to take the paper here, so i need to get in the habit of picking up the sunday indianapolis paper each week to get the goodies. plus, i need to find a way to keep them organized so i USE them!
  • less eating out - we got into a BAD habit of eating out alot last summer with the craziness of moving, but it's so unhealthy & so expensive. i've been much better about menu planning consistently, but now i need to stick to it.
  • going green - making my own cleaners, laundry detergent, & using non-disposables [see details here]
  • planting a garden - shaun tilled the ground, we just need to plant! we love gardening, but this year, i also want to try my hand at canning for year-round produce.
we'd love to hear more ideas if you have any suggestions. we're always looking for ways to be more frugal!

"a penny saved is a penny earned." 
~ benjamin franklin

Wednesday, May 12

GodSTOP: the saga of buying the casa

the process of buying the casa was anything but normal, & the tale is filled with glimpses of God's provision.

it all started just over a year ago. we came to lafayette in early april on a house buying trip. we had worked with gail [our realtor] for a few weeks to narrow down a list of 20 or so houses we wanted to see based on our criteria. we were looking for a home hopefully close to purdue & church, with 3-4 bedrooms, a decent-sized lot [1/3 acre or more], plus a fireplace & a garage. as i've said before, we were looking for a house well below our affordability in hopes of instead saving money to design & build a home in the county with more land.  

on tuesday, we looked at over 20 houses from 9am to 4pm! we would spend 15 minutes in each house, just to get a feel for whether to put it on "the short list." the next day, we visited the 4-5 homes on the short list for longer periods of 30-45 minutes. we loved this method of house shopping & now would never do it any other way! we saw a few houses that made the short list, but none that we loved. they were all just "doable" for a few years. right before lunch, we saw potomac, and as i wrote before, it was love at first sight. we had no intentions of buying it - we just visited it for "kicks"! and we decided to put it on the short list so we could have longer to wander & enjoy all the great woodwork & unique details. but after seeing it, we just couldn't get it out of our heads as we visited & discussed all the other houses.

it met & exceeded every criteria: it was ten minutes from purdue & six from church. it had three bedrooms upstairs with an extra room downstairs that could function as an office. it had 3/4 acre lot! it had TWO fireplaces & a two-car garage. PLUS, it had an extra room on the back of the garage for our shop, a basement [which i didn't think i wanted then but couldn't imagine life without it now!], a dining room definitely big enough for my table [actually, it dwarfs my table!], & so much character in every room. 

there were significant problems with potomac though. it was a much older home [built in 1964], so it was in need of more maintenance than the others. we were concerned about the heating & cooling bills being so much higher because it was older & bigger than the other houses we had seen. it was quite a bit higher than the price we had set, which meant we would not be reselling in a few years to build out in the county. the bathrooms need to be renovated, especially the master bathroom since the shower has a lowered ceiling, & shaun can't stand up straight in it! and most concerning of all, it was a "short sale"...

we didn't know what a short sale was at the time, & we thought from the deceptive name that this was fabulous! actually, it means that the current owner is listing their house for sale for less money than they owe to the bank for it. it usually means they're close to foreclosure, so they are trying to quickly sell the house, & they're willing to take a loss to do it. problem is, they don't usually have the money to make up the loss [hence, they're close to foreclosure], so it's up to their bank to approve the sale since the bank will be taking the hit. it's not short in time at all. it can take 6 months to a year for a short sale to complete...

we put a bid on the house mid-april. shaun moved to lafayette in late april, & he had a friend to rent a room from. i was slated to move at the end of june or beginning of july, after school ended. so, we had two to three months to get this thing done. i can't remember now how many times we extended our offer, but it was easily in the double digits. and one glitch in the process was that the then-owner's lender got bought out by another bank which put everything on hold for a full month. all along, our goal was to keep trusting in God.

the first time we tried to buy a house was three to four years prior in raleigh. "our house on shenandoah" - as we still call it - seemed plopped in our laps, a gift from God. but tragically, another couple slipped a bid in right before us, & we lost out. at the time, we didn't understand why we didn't get that house when it was so perfect for us & we had prayed so hard. last spring, as we were preparing to move, we repeatedly talked about how we were SOOOO thankful we weren't also trying to sell a house... especially in that housing market! that experience helped us trust God in this one. we knew if we didn't get potomac, there was a really good reason for it.

but we were still going to pursue it till we got a flat-out closed door! as our moving date approached, set for july 3rd, we sent a message to the owner [knowing the house was vacant] asking if they would mind us moving in prior to closing & paying rent to them. the owner was more than compliant! they knew we were likely their last shot of selling this house without foreclosing, so they were ready to accommodate us in any way. they even offered the house to us rent-free! wow.  so, we signed a pre-closing occupancy agreement, which basically means we were acting-owners, responsible for everything pertaining to the house without actually owning it.

we moved in on july 4th, knowing it still wasn't "ours" & knowing we might have to move out if the bank didn't accept our offer. but at least for a time, it would be ours. it was touch & go for a while, but the bank finally said they would agree to a price a tiny bit higher than our offer. we - slightly miffed - agreed, & fortunately the appraisal for our bank loan was a tiny bit higher than the agreed price. we were approved! we had a loan! we had a CLOSING DATE!

on october 22, 2009, we went downtown & signed the papers. we were now officially homeowners, & potomac was now the casteel casa!

throughout the entire situation, we could see God at work. when we were inclined to worry, we prayed, & He gave us His promised peace. He gave us a wonderful, well-built home with personality. He blessed us with a home that met both my wants [being in the city] & shaun's wants [having some land]. the short sale did take six months, but we were still able to move at the appointed time. plus, God provided us with nearly five months of rent-free, mortgage-free living! even some of the "problems" with potomac ended up no big deal. like the heating & cooling bills are about the same as our house in raleigh, which was half the size! each & every step, He was there.

i believe there is great joy gleaned from God's provision, but i am truly convicted that the greatest joy of all is found simply in His PRESENCE. whether we got potomac in the end or not, God was with us.  gloriously with us. and that, my friends, is what a "GodSTOP" is all about. this is a phrase i've nicked off of beth moore, & STOP stands for "savoring the observable Presence."  a GodSTOP is simply any time you notice God in your life - a beautiful sunset, an answered prayer, an inexplicable peace, a good friend, a blessing of any kind.  God is working in our lives, & our greatest joy will always come from noticing Him & being with Him. actually, that is my favorite of all names for Jesus - Emmanuel, God WITH US!

Monday, May 10

new doors

ah, the life of a homeowner... you have grand plans for fun & beautiful improvements, you save your money, & then... something breaks. so, you spend the hard-saved money on something new but not so glamorous. [goodbye master bathroom renovation & backyard fence...]

in the last couple weeks, both the right garage door & the top oven door have broken. this is slightly inconvenient. fortunately, the garage door waited until the nicer spring weather arrived before going kaput, & fortunately, i don't use my oven much!  [not that i don't cook though - i just prefer stovetop cooking.]

issue with the garage door: when the first owners mechanized the doors, they had only one motor installed to lift both doors. not only is that usually not a great idea [in fact, i think it's against the law in indiana - now anyways], but whoever installed it didn't even center the motor between the two doors. instead, the motor was centered on the left door with a long rod extending to the right door to lift it, too.  no surprise then that the torsion spring on the right door broke.

we knew we eventually needed to replace the doors & have another motor added. the old doors were deteriorating, but we figured we still had a couple of years before that became a priority. we had the option of replacing just the torsion spring, but we decided to just take the plunge & do the whole job all at once. we picked out doors that we were pretty sure would look awful with the house right now, BUT will look great once we repaint the house in new colors! actually, it doesn't look as bad as i thought it would.  i think it makes the current colors look nicer, cleaner. still, i can't wait to paint the house!

[before: pic taken by my momma in march]

[before: pic taken by my momma in march]

[after: today]

[after: today]

love it! at least one of my "non glamorous" home repairs turned out to be fun & beautiful after all!

alas, the oven door can't be repaired, so now i get to spend my afternoon on the phone with customer service trying to compensation for manufacturer defect...  ah, the life of a homeowner!

menu plan monday

summer dinners are back!  every summer, our 20-somethings group at church switches from weekly bible study to weekly fellowship dinners.  it's a great opportunity to invite friends.  this summer, the dinners are on tuesday nights, & i'm so glad because i have weekly meetings on thursday nights!

here's the run-down of this week's specials at the casteel cafe:

monday - tilapia with maque choux over avocados
tuesday - summer dinner: italian theme [i'm making ratatouille]
wednesday - y.u.m.
thursday - prosciutto & fig sandwiches
friday - jambalaya
saturday - y.u.m.
sunday - mexican shrimp with couscous

*y.u.m. = yesterdays' uneaten meals

Saturday, May 8

cake balls

yesterday, i promised an easy & delectable dessert, so here ya go!  maybe i'm behind the times, but cake balls are a recent discovery of mine.  this past fall at our annual women's beach retreat, my friend colleen brought cake balls, & i became addicted!  the recipe is ridiculously easy.  i don't make many cakes, partly because it's not my favorite dessert & partly because it stresses me out with all the layers & icing...  but this is a great idea for when a cake won't come out of the pan neatly or falls apart while icing.  or if, in my case, you'd rather do this than make the cake in the first place!

all you need is cake, frosting, & chocolate.  you can use a box mix or homemade [i've done both, but pictured here is a strawberry cake box mix].  you can buy a can of frosting or make your own [again, i've done both, but here i'm using bought cream cheese frosting].  the chocolate can be chocolate chips or baker's squares.  it just needs to be meltable, & it needs to be able to harden again.  [i used white chocolate chips once, but here i'm using milk chocolate chips.]

cake balls

1. bake the cake according to instructions.

2. empty cake into a large bowl.

3. add frosting to cake & mix together.  [easiest to do this with your hands!]

4. roll into bite-sized balls [using a small scoop makes this easier].

5. melt the chocolate chips in the microwave [in a microwave-safe bowl].

6. dip each cake ball into the chocolate, coating it.

7. place on a baking sheet or aluminum foil to cool & set.

don't they look delicious?!  they are!

i've also heard of putting them on sticks to make "cake pops"...  either way, yum!

Friday, May 7

plants for pennies

apparantly, our yard used to really be something.  back with the gilberts lived here [they built the casa & lived in it for 40 years], ms. jean built a beautifully landscaped yard.  we know because we've been regaled with tales from the neighbors about ms. jean & her azaleas, hydrangeas, & other gorgeous flowers.

alas, we only know from stories because the previous owners [who lived here between us & the gilberts for a year or two] stripped the yard of all flowers & had every shrub & bush cut to the ground...  i know, tragic & cruel. so, while i lament the gilbert glory days, it is pretty neat to have a blank canvas all our own.

we've spent so much time on the inside of the house, but now that it's spring, we're ready to switch focus a bit to cultivate the outside.  we've been looking at plants at home improvement stores, but we refuse to pay those ridiculous prices!  we miss the farmers' market in raleigh, which [unlike here in lafayette] is open daily year-round.

and then, shaun found ms. betty!  he was perusing craigslist & found this woman who sells transplants of all the plants in her huge garden for $1 per "clump"!  we visited her tonight & racked up!

[we filled the back of the endeavor with a variety of plants]

we paid only $30 for all of this!!!  what we got for the money: one bush-like herb called rue, three decent-sized hosta plants [that we can divide into 6 or 7 plants], 4 plastic bags full of day lilies in orange & red, & seven different kinds of herbs [orange mint, apple mint, spearmint, greek oregano, italian oregano, garlic chives, & lemon balm].  what a loot!  we loosely figured that we paid a third of what this would have cost us at the farmers' market & who knows how much less than retail stores!  

tomorrow, we get to begin filling our yard with beautiful bounty once again, & without breaking the bank!

feature fridays

we've received many requests over the past few months for pictures of the house. at least i've posted the preliminary ones now! but what does it look like now? i realized that i can't clean [& then keep clean!] every room all at one time for a photo shoot. soooo, i came up with the idea of "feature friday." each week, i'll highlight one room or area with pictures, ideas, & plans for improvement. you can take part in this by helping me with some of my organization & decoration dilemmas, & by making any suggestions you have for improvement! i'd LOVE to hear your ideas!

i wanted to start this week with the den, but i'm a little behind in getting things done on the old to-do list, so i suppose you'll just have something to look forward to for next week... stay tuned!

in the meantime, i have some great posts planned that include an easy & delectable recipe, the saga of how we came to own the casa, & a great gift idea [that i'm using for mothers' day but want to wait till our mommas receive it to reveal it here]. sorry today's pretty boring, but hopefully, i've whetted your appetite for the coming days.

happy friday!

Wednesday, May 5

homemade cleaners

there are several reasons to make your own household cleaners:

  • simplicity - they are more versatile, so you need less of them to get more jobs done
  • ecology - they are safer for the environment b/c you use less chemicals and less packaging
  • physically - they are safer for your health b/c they do not use such harsh chemicals
  • economy - they cost significantly less money to buy the supplies, so you save LOTS
plus, they work just as well as store-bought brands.  actually, i think they usually work better!  i finally decided to make my own cleaners because i was tired of paying continually inflating prices for things that get washed down the drain, literally.  i mean, have you seen the price of tide laundry detergent lately?  for a 96-load container of high-efficiency detergent, we're talking about nearly $20!  no thanks.  instead, i make my own.  the ingredients were hard to find initially, but now i know i can find them all at my local rural king [not sure where to find them in more metropolitan areas if you don't have a rural king].  the following recipe will get you approximately 160-200 loads [twice as much as the big name-brand cartons!]:
  • 1 box borax
  • 1 box arm & hammer super washing soda [NOT baking soda]
  • 4 bars laundry soap, grated [i used fels naptha brand, but i hear there are others, like zote, sunlight bar soap, or kirk's hardwater castile]
  • instructions: grate the bar soap finely using a grater [a little time-intensive, but it's a good arm workout!], mix all ingredients well in a bowl, store in an airtight container
  • use 1/8 cup per load
i bought a special grater to use only on laundry soap.  i also bought a pretty, large jar to store it in.  on the ingredients, i spent $13.62 - which means i'll spend at least 64% less on this detergent than i will on the overpriced name brand!  other perks: it doesn't suds hardly at all, so it's perfectly safe for high-efficiency machines, and shaun and i both think our cloths come out softer with this new detergent.  plus, we love the smell, which is much fainter once the clothes are dried.  

[my 2.5 gallon jar of laundry detergent]

other cleaners i make:
  • a mild cleanser of 2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid [i use dawn] mixed with 2 cups water
  • a glass cleaner of half vinegar and half water
in my "going green" post, i mentioned my recent switch to cleaning cloths over paper towels, which i use regularly with the mild cleanser.  i keep them on the counter.  i'd like to eventually find a more aesthetic bottle for the spray since i keep it out, but it works for now.

[i can go through 3-4 cloths on a busy day!]

but with all my increasing love of homemade cleaners, there is one that i can't do without from the store. if you haven't discovered this, my friend, you need to get it now!  i use it to clean EVERYTHING!  most often, it's used to scrub my stainless steel pots and stove top, but it can be used on nearly every surface since it's an extremely mild abrasive.  just make sure you use gloves!  may i introduce you to... bar keeper's friend!

[a staple in our home now]

i hope you're inspired to make some of your own cleaners.  let me know if you do, how it goes.  and happy cleaning!

Monday, May 3

menu plan monday

i have been planning our meals for years now, & it makes our lives SO much easier!  i love being organized, knowing what i need from the store, making sure we use up leftovers & remaining ingredients, & knowing what i'm making that night.  shaun also loves knowing what's for dinner.  my next goal is to get a memo board for the kitchen to post our weekly menu.

i've gotten to the point where i now plan out dinners for a whole month.  then, each week i quickly make sure the plan is still feasible, we don't need to "roll over" any meal from last week, & i plan breakfasts & lunches.  in honor of cinco de mayo [and my huge craving for mexican since i was just vegan for a month], we're doing lots of mexican food this week!

this week:
monday - tilapia & black bean nachos
tuesday - spicy pulled pork on corn cakes with salad
wednesday - leftovers
thursday - mexican shrimp & beans with couscous
friday - ratatouille wraps [we're also watching "ratatouille"!]
saturday - out to dinner & a show
sunday - pesto pasta with roasted cauliflower

Sunday, May 2

going green

i'm not an environmentalist, but i'm a christian.  maybe it's the same thing.  i believe in thoughtful stewardship of God's creation, our world.  lately, i've become convicted by our wastefulness  been making some changes to decrease this.  shaun and i have loved the changes we've made so far!  i was inspired by the following list, which i read on katy's blog:

"ditch the disposables" - make the switch from:
  • paper napkins to cloth napkins - we have lots of cloth napkins & so started using them daily.
  • paper towels to cloth towels - we still buy paper towels for the sake of cleaning up pet messes, but we did recently purchase a bunch of white cloths that we keep in a small apple bucket on our counter right under the paper towel holder.  we love them!
  • tissues to handkerchiefs - shaun has always used handkerchiefs, & i've decided to try them.  
  • paper, plastic, or styrofoam plates to your own kitchen plates - it's rare that we use disposables, excepting the youth coffee house.  we always use our regular dishes, and if we have too many people for just those, we also pull down shaun's john deere set, which makes him happy.
  • disposable utensils to regular silverware - yep, see above.
  • bring your own container for take-out food - um, nope.  probably not gonna do this one, but we do recycle the containers.
  • disposable water bottles to reusable water bottles - we never buy bottled water.  we both have our favorite water bottles/cups.
  • plastic bags/paper bags to reusable containers/lunch sacks - i usually eat at home, but shaun has a nice lunch box, & he uses our "disposable" tupperware instead of baggies.  however, i need to be better about using too many baggies around the kitchen.
  • swiffer to a broom & dustpan or mop [or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers in your swiffer] - we have too much pet hair & cobwebs to rely solely on a broom, but i have started cutting up shaun's old t-shirts to use on my swiffer.  we use a mop for the kitchen & bathrooms.
  • disposable dusting products to cloth rags - we do a combo right now b/c i love my swiffer duster... but i do also have reusable dust cloths.
  • disposable wipes to cloth rags - we can minimize the use of chlorox wipes, but i'm not sure i'll be able to completely relinquish them [i like them too much].
  • grocery store bags to reusable bags - nope.  i should be better about this, but i ease my conscience by reusing target bags for cleaning the litter box & taking all the rest of our bags to the food pantry at church to be reused.
  • disposable wrapping paper or gift bags to reusable cloth gift bags - too expensive.  i reuse gift bags given to me, & we recycle wrapping paper.
  • single-use batteries to rechargeable batteries - nope, but we should switch over.
our town has the most incredible recycling program.  we can recycle nearly EVERYTHING, and their program motto is "if in doubt, toss it in."  i love it!  plus, we don't have to sort at all.  this makes recycling incredibly convenient.  still, i would sort if i had to.  here are some convicting facts about recycling & the wastefulness in america:

  • on average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill, $70 to burn it
  • recycling creates 6 times as many jobs as landfilling
  • the average american uses 650 pounds of paper per year
  • there is no limit to the number of times an aluminum can may be recycled
  • when glass is put in the landfill, it takes over 4000 years for it to decompose
  • for every 1 ton of plastic recycled, we save almost 2000 pounds of oil
  • recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to power a TV for three hours
  • half of all polyester carpet manufactured in the US is made from recycled soda bottles
  • americans use four million plastic bottles every hour, but only recycle 25% of them
  • about 80% of what americans throw away is recyclable, yet our national recycling rate is just 28%
  • the US is 5% of the world's population but uses 25% of the world's natural resources
  • the energy saved from recycling on glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours
  • in one year in the US, recycling steel saves enough energy to heat & light 18,000,000 homes 
  • last year, americans recycled enough aluminum cans to conserve energy equal to over 15 million barrels of oil
  • if we recycled all the newspapers printed in the US on only ONE typical sunday, we would save 550,000 trees
  • recycling 35% of our trash reduces global warming emissions equivalent to taking 36 million cars off the road
  • the amount of wood & paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years
if that doesn't make you sick & convict you to change, i don't know what will!  i was especially moved about throwing away paper because i think that is an area shaun and i do not excel.  we've decided to add a second wastebasket to the office for paper only.  i also plan to add recycling cans to nearly every room in the house [baskets in the bathroom for toilet paper rolls, a trash can in the basement for soda cans, etc.].  i hope this encourages you to makes some small [or big!] changes in your life, too, so you too can be a better steward of our environment.  there's always room for new improvements!

Saturday, May 1

love at first sight

just a little over a year ago, shaun & i visited lafayette, indiana for the second time to find a house.  we have the absolute BEST real estate agent, gail beck [if you're looking to buy or sell in the greater lafayette area, please call her!], and she worked with us for several weeks before our visit narrowing down the choices of houses we wanted to see.  our plan was to buy well under the amount we could afford so that we could save our money to eventually buy land & build a house [my design].  in perusing the housing database, shaun saw this one house that intrigued him by its character & beautiful wood work, and he wanted to see it.  it was outside the amount we had set for ourselves, so i told him if he wanted to see it, he could email it to gail himself!  boy, am i ever glad he did!

we had two days to find a house, so the first day we looked at over 20 houses, taking quick 15-minute tours of each one.  we narrowed down the list of viable options to 4 or 5 that we could see again the next day for an extended visit.  in the middle of the day, right before lunch, we looked at the home shaun liked.  it was love at first sight!

some features that "had us at hello":

  • all-brick exterior with unique iron storm doors
  • LOTS of land for being in the city [3/4 acre]
  • two fireplaces [one in the den, one in the living room]
  • exposed brick walls in the den & kitchen
  • all hardwood floors
  • wood paneling throughout the ground floor, put up with individual wood boards
  • a dutch door in the kitchen
after seeing this house, we had a hard time envisioning ourselves in any other.  we realized that if we bought it, we wouldn't be reselling it in a few years to build & it would likely be a "forever" home.  we gladly accepted that!  below are pictures from the first day we ever saw it with a few from move-in day:

[the front view]

[the den, not our furniture!]

[the kitchen, shares the brick wall with the den]

[the kitchen]

[the formal dining room, our office, that door is to the kitchen]

[the entryway, office to the left, with a peek-a-boo to our retro bathroom!]

[the living room]

[the living room]

[shaun's favorite - the shop!]

it was the only house we saw that could rightly be called "the casteel casa"!