Friday, December 19, 2014

The Truth, Our Story

Believe it or not, I can barely keep a secret from you all. Barely. But telling our story and letting you in on a little something was something I managed to do. Many of you have been wondering, so we decided to make a little video to explain our story.

About a year or so ago we were called to do something special. That special something has been keeping us busy. I know we promised we'd let you in on that secret this fall, but things happen. Those things have brought our fall secret to be our winter secret.
From the beginning to now...our story!

Click the link below or copy and paste it into a new tab to listen to our story.

The original site is now blurry at times on the phone so try the YouTube link above.

♥always & forever,
The Stanleys

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quick Decor & On A Budget

So we've been on a "budget." I guess we're always on a budget. Dave Ramsey would be disappointed if we left the budgeting world and I think we would not only be disappointed, but we'd find ourselves broke. I promise, we're budgeting for a good reason.

But let me tell you...I so badly wanted to buy some new Christmas decor. Like really badly. But then I realized it was not for any good reason and we'd survive without every last piece I laid my little eyes on. So instead, I found some ways around it. I had to because the Christmas lights ate up my decor budget. Damnit! They better last years and years.

I have a few little and super cheesy tips for you...ways that I reused last year's decor, kept our railing "organic" and "all natural", & used the little money left in our decor budget to purchase a few items (after we purchased the tree and house lights).

So here you have it....How we did it on a budget & how you can do the same, even on a whim!

*Leftover Fabric...

Once fabric to drape across the used as a tree skirt. And trust me, don't even bother sewing it up, just drape it around the trunk of the tree. That's how "on a whim" saves you lots of time and that's a lovely thing.


I will tell you...I'm not a huge fan of garland. But once some of the decor went up, I realized I needed some greenery. No way was there money to buy the fake, reusable stuff...
so instead, just trim your Christmas tree. Trim enough of the branches off without a notice to the eye that will cover the areas you need. Place them neatly on a mantel or slip them into your staircase decor as we did above. Only slightly tacky, but it works. It had to work.

**CHEAP the letters NOEL, some of them as wood letters, some of them as a circular wreath, etc. We already had ours from previous years that we used in the coffee table. Instead of putting back in its spot, we hung it with some leftover twine along the stairwell. This is a quick and inexpensive project if you need something on a whim. Hang it on a wall, set it up on the mantel, do whatever it is your heart desires.

*Pine Cones...

Put them all over the place. Use them as fillers. Use the smaller sized, cinnamon kind. Or find yourself a couple giant sized pine cones at the craft store (I saw them at Michaels). They go great in baskets or just placed one here and one there next to some chalkboard frames or on the mantel. So get pine cones outside if you're on a budget or buy a bag of them. Go nuts with them.

*Utilize What's Already There...

The bathroom was well squared away with the normal decor, but instead of swapping out everything for all your Christmas decor...just do a little rearranging, very little removing, and very little adding. What we did here was remove the urinal (even if it was a great holiday spirit item) and replaced it with a fake tree we used last year elsewhere. We took out the wash clothes from the small wire baskets and replaced those with the pine cones I saved from last year (who saves those...I'm only slightly embarrassed). We switched out our colored towels for white towels. And to finish it off, we purchased two Target candle holders/jars to add a pop of gold.

*Then Splurge!
I know, it's really not splurging when you have about $50 left. That gets you barely anything nowadays. It makes me wish I lived in the times where you could get gas for like 10 cents/gallon and candy for a nickel. But on the other hand, I don't wish that for other reasons. So anyway...
allow yourself to buy those select few items you've been eyeing to add to your holiday decor. That's what the budgeting is for. Below is exactly what I got to add a little height, a little shape, a little black to add to the neutral colors, and a little fun to the decorating game.

Item #1: Target Star

Item #2: Sara's Signs
(local Battle Ground crafter/dealer who sells her signs at the Vancouver Mall)

-Snow globes are blown up on Pinterest, go find them there if you're interested in making them.
Since there wasn't enough money for stocking hangers, I used the snow globes instead.
Just make sure nobody goes to admire them or else the stockings will fall off and then you look cheap.

-The stockings...well I used leftover burlap from our wedding, did a makeshift pattern, had no idea what I was doing to keep the shape, cut leftover cream fabric up to make the dangles, then used a stamp for the words. Trust me, I'm surprised they even turned out.

That's enough insight for you all in how cheap I've been this year and how we made do with repurposing some items. If you've got some tacky, budget friendly items you're happy to share I'd love to hear how cheap you've been in the years. But instead of calling us "cheap" let's just call us the "inexpensive" type. It just sounds a bit better.

Cheers to bringing all that holiday spirit into our homes while being on a budget, being "inexpensive," and being crafty enough to get by!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Give Weekly #3

Ooooo, you guys! I get so giddy about things like this. We love international travel, we love different cultures, we love all these giving ideas, and we love companies like these who give to those in need. There are various ones out there, but we love that Heifer International has so many options to suit anybody's need of giving. If you're interested in empowering women, great. They've got some options for you. If you're interested in sustainable farming, awesome. They have all sorts of great ways to give (animals, crops, food, etc). Or if you're looking to only give a certain amount...then guess what? You can give to "shares" or "full" gifts. Most of you could spare $10-20 today, most weeks, or even just twice a month. Just think about the endless giving that would entail. I just invision all the little goats or ducks running around that will provide a way for family to eat and drink...that you all just provided!!

Excited. Like super excited about these organizations. We were given the gift of chickens this year & last by our friends, so somewhere out there our gift of chicken are running around and hopefully providing eggs to a family. At Thanksgiving, we were all to bring just a little bit of money for a game. In the end, none of us would win the pot of dough, however, it all went to the "knitters" basket! That means a family would receive various animals that would provide them with milk and eventually food as well as their fur. They would then be taught how to make the yarn to sell. How freaking awesome is that! Exactly what I was thinking!

You can think of this as a stocking stuffer for someone's gift as you will receive a honorary card in the mail as a thank you. Or you can gather some money at a Holiday party, see how much it totals, and then pick a package deal to give to an international family in need.

So the theme this week....Give! Oh wait, that's always the theme. Alright fine, previous weeks it was local non-profits but this week we're covering some ground and giving internationally. Head on over to the website and get someone a true gift that gives!

(click the link about to learn more and donate)

So if you've given each week, you will notice you've given to the following:

1) a local non-profit that travels overseas to provide a way for kids to play sports (local, international, kids, and sports...our favorites)
2) a local non-profit that gives kids opportunities to play hoops and make an impact in the community from all sorts of backgrounds (rich or poor, foster, difficult upbringings, etc.)
3) international aid, providing food, water, and sustainable living in a variety of ways

I have no idea what I'll come up with next week, but if you have some suggestions I'm more than happy to take a peek into them! We do hope you find at least one or two places to give to this holiday season. Those gifts will go beyond what we will even know. So take a minute to check out where you want to give, donate in one way or another, and do it in someone's name as a gift to them this holiday season!

Thanks to all you who have been following the gift giving series. We appreciate your contribution!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Butternut Spirals...Two Ways!

We've had plenty of zucchini noodles, plenty of curly sweet potato fries, and a lot of sliced fruit for drying. Thanks to the spiralizer of course. What we haven't had enough of is the thicky thick spiralized butternut squash "noodles". One dish with our favorite Kale Garden Fusion and one with bacon, kale, and cranberries. Both are fabulous. Both are simple. And both are quick. Both require the spiralizer, so don't forget to get yourself one! It's $30-35 well spent.

Spiralized Butternut Squash With Bacon, Kale, & Cranberries
1 large butternut squash
2-3 pieces bacon
1/2 tsp garlic
1 C chopped kale
1/4 C dried cranberries
Himalayan sea salt, to taste

Peel the tough outside of the butternut squash. Use your spiralizer and the piece that makes wide spirals (the one for drying apples, just don't cut the butternut squash). Place off to the side. Cook your bacon on a large pan and leave the grease in pan. Then add your garlic and saute until fragrant. Add your butternut squash spirals (break them into pieces that aren't too long to eat as you add them to the pan). Cook until soft. Add your kale & sea salt to spirals, then cook until done. Remove from heat, add cranberries. Serve warm and with whatever your heart desires. Thoroughly enjoy!

Spiralized Butternut Squash With Thai Kale Garden Fusion
1 large butternut squash
1 table spoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons Thai KGF spice
Himalayan sea salt, to taste

Peel the tough outside of the butternut squash. Use your spiralizer and the piece that makes wide spirals (the one for drying apples, just don't cut the butternut squash). Melt coconut oil on a large pan. Add your butternut squash spirals (break them into pieces that aren't too long to eat as you add them to the pan). Cook until soft. Sprinkle your Thai kale spices & salt onto spirals and mix into spirals. Serve warm with your slab of meat or piece of chicken. Whatever you want.

Something about odd-shaped noodles are fun. The flavor is simple and tasty. And the meal
prep is nothing. And by nothing, I mean way too stupid easy. But now you have a few things to buy...

Well, welcome back you weekday workers. Have a wonderful Monday! Be sure to donate a little this week (weekly giving #3 to be posted in the next couple days), get a spiralizer, and some Kale Garden Fusions. You'll be set for Christmas...or maybe you'll just be set because you kept all the above gifts. I'm not here to judge nor do I care if you keep it all to yourself or give it up as a gift. 

We just hope you enjoy!

♡The Stanleys

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Last Minute Gift Idea!

I get it, you've been busy. Life has been busy on our end as well. Ty's grandma had a heart attack a few days ago and I will tell ya...that lady is one tough cookie. I'm pretty sure she will out live everybody! Once she is discharged from the hospital, she will be staying with us off and on. It's not often any of us get to live with grandparents and get to know them or have them stay with us. So we are looking forward to the time we'll have with her while she's here. I can guarantee you there will not be a dull moment around here if you know Grandma Joan. And I partly can't wait for that! Then there's the regular holiday parties, work, Ty's girls team is finishing up the season, a few things we'll let you in on at some point, and house projects (we found some rats in the garage, a small part of our fence fell, our microwave pooped out on us, the chimney needs a giant remodel, & I just want to spend our money on other things). Grown up life is what this is. You name it, we're all doing it. I can only imagine the laundry list you all have as well! It's a wonderfully busy time of year and we couldn't enjoy 
more of this part of life!

So what I'm getting at is we're all busy. And for some, so busy it's left us with no time to do the normal Christmas prep and/or shopping. Some of us need some gift ideas and I have a few for you. Two of which are our "Weekly Givings" where you donate some $$$ to a local non profit or any future services that serve the underserved. But today, well let you get an actual gift. Don't panic...for once I'm not asking you to give your money up. This time you can get something in return. Believe it. And although it's not giving back to anything or supports our local shops, it's worth the money. You ask why? Well because it will save you time, save your labor, and save your meals. Because who doesn't want everything spiralized?? That's what I thought.

Once you've given to one of the weekly causes and picked up a local gift to give back to the community...then you need to snag one of these guys. Head over to Amazon (click the links via the names of the spiralizers) now to pick one up for yourself and/or as a gift. It won't disappoint!

we have this one and love it, but the one below does a mighty fine job as well!

Imagine all sorts of noodles, an easy fix to slicing all sorts of things for drying, or simply slicing to eat right then and there. Tomorrow I'll post my most favorite thing to do right now with the spiralizer. As simple and basic flavors as they may be, you can't go wrong.

Happy Sunday.
Happy Shopping.
Happy Slicing.
Happy Stanleys.

♥Cori Lou

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

OCD Moments

I promise I'm not normally this bad. In fact, I just have my little OCD things. And I had to be sure you knew before this started or else I would've felt like you'd all leave this blog post 
thinking I'm nuttier than you already thought.

The Issue
Many of you know that I've locked myself out of the house far too many times in a short amount of time. Obviously I'm reacting well to the situation to ensure that never happens. But the OCD side to it all is nearly killing me. Call it an excuse, but I swear ever since I've left my keys in the house, the triple and quadruple checking has been at it's best. Slightly overboard, I know. And by overboard, read below and you'll find out why...

When I go running, I hate taking the full set of keys. Instead, I take just the house/garage keys. I've got these sweet little pockets in all of my running pants, so I like to tuck my keys into the pocket for safe keepings. However, before I leave the house my OCD has been killing me. Seriously. Killing. Me. Initially, I lock part of the door and check to make sure I have the keys in hand. Then I put the keys in my little pants pocket and make sure the door is locked again. Then I think "what if I don't have the right keys" so I pull them out of my pocket and make sure they fit in the lock. And they still fit, hasn't changed obviously since I put them in my pocket. So I put them back in my pocket and begin to shut the door. BUT...before I shut the door, I must take the keys out of my pocket once again and sometimes this is what gets me. I apparently have to double check to make sure it's the right key set so I put the key in the door to unlock it, then lock it back up. I finally shut the door, lock the top lock, put the keys in my pocket....and then touch my little pocket to make sure they haven't fallen out. It's mind boggling to me! WHY?! Why in the heck do some people's brains do that to them? It's so silly! And trust me, I know it's silly but I do it anyway. I HAVE to do it or else I'm sure my mind would go nuts.

So that's a little insight into my life at this moment. Thank goodness it goes in spurts because it's sure been a while since I've taken something this far. Pray that eventually I don't have to be the crazy neighbor who not only checks her lock a thousand times before leaving, but that it doesn't lead into the neighbor who drives away and minutes later returns to make sure it's still locked. 
That would be the end of me!

That's all I've got for the moment. It's going to have to be good enough for now.
Come follow us on IG @tstanley4 and @cstan512 . Can't promise it will do you any good,
but it sure won't do any harm.

Peace & Love Folks!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Give Weekly #2

The Gift That Gives Meaning in Life, Lessons, & Experiences
It's that time of week again...time for our weekly giving! We've chosen another local non-profit that goes beyond the game of basketball. The Other Side of Basketball challenges individuals to refine their character, to live by integrity, and to then trust their spirit. They allow all kids, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds (i.e. foster children, low income, etc) to join the opportunities The Other Side provides. Lamar Hurd had a vision and that vision is very admirable. We love that you have made differences in many lives locally, but you have also taken it to an international level. We applaud you for your service to all those families and the many children you have come across.

Please find the time to look at the website and give as you so wish.
Click HERE for the website.
Click HERE to donate.

We thank you all in advance for any donations you provided in the previous week, those who plan on giving this week, and of course, in weeks to follow. These gifts go beyond the gifts we tend to waste money on, so keep on giving to goes beyond what many of us even know!

♥The Stanleys

Sunday, December 7, 2014

'Twas The Day Before Sunday

Remember when I shared, just briefly, that I was a little behind in time. That you all had put up your Christmas decor like way before Thanksgiving and it's already 7 days into the month and I just got the Christmas storage containers out yesterday. Truthfully I've wanted so badly to go buy some new decor for the mantel, but then I realize we're on such a tight budget related to some future plans that it wasn't going to be an option. So I'm back to looking into the storage containers and utilizing what's around the house for ideas. Anyway, maybe today or maybe tomorrow I'll figure it out. Whether or not I show you all, we'll see what happens.

But why I really decided to whip up this blog post...our Christmas tree story that happened yesterday AKA Saturday AKA the day before Sunday. Creative, right? Ok fine, it was kinda stupid. But sometimes in odd hours of the day or when I'm up really early before my brain is awake, I find some things to be hilarious. Those moments are great. The times you laugh for no good reason, which then makes you laugh a little more, and sometimes you get the giggles. Anyway...I'm done with that. You get it I hope.

Ty picked out our tree this year...isn't she a beaut!

And then I kept making him take awkward photos with his tree...
but dang, does he not look good? He looks good, his tree looks good.
Great Christmas combo ;-)

Every year we've gone to a Christmas Tree Farm, participated in the child-like events with the kids, cut our tree down, thrown into the back of Ty's dad's truck or in the back of our little Honda (back when we lived in our small place we obviously bought small trees that could fit in the back of cars), and called it a day. So the plan this year was to do the same. Except after we spent most of our budgeted money on Christmas lights for the month, we made a pit stop on the way home...on the corner of IceHouse Bar and Grill, across from Baja Fresh and Starbucks, in front of motel deal where you get a night stay for $39 (if that doesn't say a lot about the place, drive by it & you won't be surprised), and just about under I-5. A classy corner  to say the least. But hey, a great location to grab some hot chocolate from Starbs, wander over to get your tree and pretend you're at a tree farm (minus all the traffic noise), have a quick bite to eat, and then get out of there quick. Don't try to make it a night stay at motel deal. That would be taking it too far. If you have to take it far enough, go to IceHouse or something. That will be enough. Trust me.

The location of our current Christmas tree was important, classy, and obviously needed to be included, but slightly off the story. Sorry. Those things happen a lot to me (getting off track that is). The best part about it was that we paid for our tree and headed to the car to get it strapped down. Mind you we had the Honda and mind you this year the tree was too big to fit on the inside. So strapped down on the top of the car was the place to be. Ty got working on tying the tree down, he'd pass the plastic twine to me and then me back to him, and boom it was locked in place. You know what else was locked in place? All the car doors. We had strapped a Christmas tree down on the top of our car, tied our car doors so we couldn't open them, and had every window rolled down. Ty decided it would be great to just climb in the windows, so that's exactly what he started to do. All awhile, I'm hysterically laughing and refused to climb in through the windows. Fortunately the man running the tree lot spotted Ty at a distance and hollered at him saying "don't be a Griswold!"

Before we realized we tied ourselves out...obviously pumped we were all set to go!

You'd think at that point we'd have it all figured out after he yelled at us to untie it and retie it. But no. Apparently we had our tree strapped down the wrong way and in the way that our tree would've either had all the limbs blown off on the way home or our tree would've caught the wind and blown right off of the top of the car. That all would've made the ride home just awesome though, don't you think?

And the moment after we figured it out...the immediate "just climb in" move.

We not only tied ourselves out of the car, but we tied the tree to the car "wrong" and nearly chopped off the twine when he rolled up the windows on the way home (exactly what we needed to top the story off). Ty decided this was another reason he needed a truck. I decided it was just another lesson learned and no truck would be coming out of that ordeal. Sorry love!

Here's to what most likely won't be our typical tradition and if we do choose to get it from a lot, we'll look like professionals getting it tied to our car.

Happy Sunday!

♡The Stanleys

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Weekly Gift Giving

Every month we budget money to give to someone or something. We also carry around a little bit of cash in case something comes up that we decide it's something we want to donate to. You never know who you come across that touches you or maybe something you see on Facebook that drives you to donate to a cause. It's a fabulous way to give and it's always a little something that makes us all feel good. Would you not agree?

We would encourage you all to give every month of the year, even if it is just a little at a time. However, if you're more into providing support during these few months of the year we will give you a few ideas! Believe me, I probably have way more ideas but I don't want to overload you all. So we'll start with a special group that we love and wish we could go on every trip with...

Courts for Kids!
click HERE for a great video on what they're all about (video is off to the right hand side)!
Plus you just may spot The Stanleys in action!

If you didn't watch the video, then let me let you in on a bit of what they're all about. This is a local non-profit who goes all over the world with groups of individuals from all walks of life to build sport courts in rural areas. All these places and people would not otherwise have the opportunity to play certain sports on a court if it weren't for CFK. When you go on a trip with them, you don't just provide your service to these people. You live with them, you learn their ways, you work along side them and really work hard, and you can always learn a little something about yourself. You never know what conditions you'll be presented with...maybe you have to carry the 100lb cement bags because there are no wheelbarrows or maybe you get cement burns/chaffing and have to work through it; or you might end up working in the pouring down rain. Every trip is much different from the rest and we all get fantastic experiences with each trip.

So whether you are inclined to go on a trip (check out their website and get in contact with them) or you are willing to donate financially this year, they could use the support and
would be grateful for it all!

We are thankful for Courts for Kids, the owners, and all the individuals we worked together with in Cambodia. It was an unforgettable trip.

Click HERE for their website and to watch a great video off to the right hand side.
And don't forget to click HERE to donate!

Happy Wednesday!

♡The Stanleys

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Advent Calendars

You guys. I'm having the hardest time spelling "calendars." It's annoying the crap out of me. Not literally, just figuratively. I want to spell it "calenders" for whatever reason. If I ever spell something wrong, I really don't mean to. Probably a typo because I love spelling things correctly. But apparently when it comes to calendars, I don't want to spell it correctly. So if you come across it spelled incorrectly, call me out. Please.

On a serious, but not serious note...Advent calendars could possibly be one of my favorite things besides stocking stuffers. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas gifts too. Who doesn't? Although I probably love giving gifts more than anything, but give me an advent calandar & a stocking and I'm set! Growing up we had this big wall hanging for an advent calendar and I remember Curt and I picking out our little gifts from the pockets every day. Knowing me I probably stole his gifts or bossed him into letting me have them for a while. Another reason I probably loved advent calendars...double gifts. Sorry Curt.

Still to this day, my mom does awesome stockings for all of us, even the dog. No joke. Carter gets spoiled. She rocks at gift's a nice mix of practical things (I love the practical gifts) plus a few fun stuffers. I'm getting really excited thinking about it and we're still 23 days shy of when we get our stockings. Like really excited.

Anyway...Ty and I don't pick our gifts from a wall hanging, but I did make an advent calendar for us a few years back. If it hadn't taken me so long to do it, I'd do a new version every year (scroll below to see some of the advent calendars I'm in love with). Instead, we change up the gift ideas and frequency. And by that I mean we've done the following:

-we rotated turns every other day
-rotated weeks (this year I'm week one and three, he's two and four)
-gave/give small gifts
-set a specific set amount each person could spend (makes for some creativity)
-certain days had to be little love notes
-some days had to be educational or spiritual (learning about Christmas or looking into bible verses)
-other days had activities instead of gifts

And so on and so forth. It's great. A nice variety, hilarious and creative gifts, and lots of fun little notes! Here's what ours looks like: 

And for advent calendar ideas, see below. Click on the photo to take you to the "how to."
Pinterest is great for daily gift ideas, activity suggestions, and free printables.

The reduce, reuse, recycle advent...
repurpose household items, give gifts around the house, put notes in the rolls for activities, etc.

For the Lego lovers!

THIS website has the following three advent calendars along with many more favorites of mine!
It's worth a peek for darling ideas, most of which will be incredibly easy to whip up.

HERE's a good link for family activities you can use for the advent days.

Have fun with your gifts, your activities, and little notes to each other. 
As you open the gifts and activities, don't forget to tell the story as you go!

♥The Stanleys