Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Household Hacks

Some of you already know that I'm a bit frugal. I have been known to pinch a penny until it bleeds, and it's not uncommon at my house to use half a dryer sheet (all the static control, half the price thankyouverymuch) or wash a Styrofoam plate and give it a second/third/fourth life. But there are a few household hacks--little secrets to making everyday life easier--that occur on a regular basis around the Stancil house that I have realized are unique. I thought I'd share a few of them with you in the hopes that they will make your household run as (ahem) smoothly as ours. After all, there is room in this lap of luxury for you to sit, as well.

This first one is small, but mighty. At our house, we make sure to always have a roll of masking tape in that scissor drawer we all have in our kitchen--not for mailing packages, or even really for taping anything. You see, we as fat kids have discovered that a piece of masking tape makes a very inexpensive yet effective chip clip. Now, you too can have fresh chips and packaged goods using a household item you already own! Gone are the days of investing in plastic chip clips or storage containers for food. Just rip off a piece of masking tape, seal the bag, and get on with being awesome until it's time to snack again.

Bonus points if your masking tape is in your alma mater's colors. That's premium if I've ever seen it.

Our second hack is something I hadn't really thought about until last week when Clint was out of town for business and I found myself home alone. I showered and walked into our bedroom, then realized the genius security measure we have put in place almost accidentally. You see, under our bed, we have managed to cram at least 4 pillows that, for various reasons, no one will sleep on (too flat, too tall, too firm, too soft), several old pairs of Clint's cowboy boots, at least one backpack that someone used in college (so not that long ago, right? Right?), a garment bag, two overnight bags, and one very fetching nylon duffel bag I am almost 100% sure I attained by saving the wrappers off of DumDum suckers when I was in middle school. We have created a barrier to entry so impenetrable that there is never, ever a need to worry about an intruder/stranger/boogey man/monster hiding under the bed. There's no room for so much as a sock up under where we sleep, and so we have ingeniously removed the need for any moment of anxiety about what might be lurking under there. Unless all those tote bags form an angry army and club us to death with dusty pairs of boots.

The last one I'm going to share today is kind of a doozy. I can't take credit for it, and I have to say it was fully and completely my husband's idea. This is the man who, as a preteen, engineered an antenna to poke the channel buttons on his television set in his room so he wouldn't have to get up to change channels--and anyone who can jerry-rig a remote control for themselves is a real problem solver, to be sure.

Instead of a coffee table, we have an over-sized ottoman in front of our couch that, more nights than not, doubles as our table for eating dinner. As you can imagine, this puts quite a bit of wear and tear on the ottoman's upholstery and over the years it took a toll on ours. That's why, a couple of years ago when we bought a new couch and matching dinner table ottoman, Clint went all MacGyver on the situation and thought of a way to save wear-and-tear on our new furniture:

You can't get this kind of tip from HGTV, I'm sure of it.

You see, before we hauled that old ottoman away, my other half cut the upholstery right off the top of it and we now use it as a makeshift table cloth of sorts to cover the "new" ottoman while we dine. Not only does it work like a charm, you have to admit that it really looks chic, too, doesn't it? And they say you can't have it all. I guess we showed them. I normally wouldn't share these private life details, but I don't want anyone to think I'm sitting on a pedestal, surrounded by all this extravagance, without lending a helping hand to those around me.

My mom always says not to tell 'em everything you know, so I'm going to keep the rest of our household hacks to myself, at least for now. I have a feeling that once you try these handy tips and find yourself living a slice of the good life, there will be probably be a demand for more. Until then, keep your chips crispy, the space under your bed full, and your ottoman covered in the pelt of a former ottoman. And enjoy every minute of living lavishly--I know I certainly do.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Willie Good Time

Back in July of 1999, I went to my first Willie Nelson concert at Chastain Park in Atlanta. I was on my second date with the boy who is now my husband. It was not his first concert--by a long shot--in fact, Clint has been to see Willie over a dozen times (including, he loves for me to add, going to the annual Willie Nelson picnic one year in Luckenbach, Texas). He is what you might call a serious fan. He even went as far as proposing to me onstage at our fourth Willie concert together. Even though I was horrified that I was wearing jeans for such a big life moment and I begged him to wait, I obviously said yes, and the Red Headed Stranger has been a nostalgic figure for us ever since.

Clint's Willie adoration goes so far that he even suggested I name our dog Willie. However, I had a hard time looking at this one-and-a-half pound white ball of fur, a fancy little bichon frise puppy, and naming him Willie. Mercifully, Clint agreed to his second choice and so Cotton came to be. Over the years, Clint's "Willie Nelson for President" t-shirt faded and became part of a t-shirt quilt instead of a wardrobe essential, but he still has this one, which was a birthday gift from friends who obviously know him pretty well:

Back in December, I saw that Willie was coming to Charlotte. It had been years since we had been to one of his shows--in fact, thanks to the snowstorm in 2004 that caused a concert to be cancelled, we hadn't been to see him since we got married. That means Clint hadn't been to see Shotgun Willie perform in 14 years. He was one happy fan when he opened those tickets as part of his Christmas present.

We made an evening of tacos, margaritas, and the much anticipated concert. It was a relief when Willie opened with "Whiskey River"--he always does, and we could rest assured that some things never change. For an hour and fifteen minutes, Clint grinned ear to ear and sang along to "On the Road Again," "You Were Always on My Mind," "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," "Good Hearted Woman," and even "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" (not one of my personal favorites, but a real crowd pleaser at the Ambassador to Weedville's shows, I can assure you). I was a little saddened that he didn't play longer, but then Clint reminded me that dear Willie is 82 years young. We knew the show was over when the stage crew brought out his "little" sister's walker to help her off stage. 

It was a great night, a good time was had by all, and we got to relive a little bit of our dating days. The merchandise table didn't have the Willie Nelson for President bumper sticker Clint has been coveting, but I'm sure that's not far out of reach. And neither are concert tickets the next time my husband's favorite pig-tailed guitar player comes back to town.

Fifteen and a half years after our first Willie Nelson concert, we're still always on each other's minds.

How to make Clint swoon, in one easy step.

Willie makes it look effortless, but the bandanna is a harder look to pull off than one might think.
I bear a strong resemblance to the Karate Kid.