Colorado :: Day One

Boulder Apt View Nell and Steve Creek Selfie Nell Looking at Creek 2 Nell Looking at Creek Nell on a Rock Pearl Street View Steve Looking at Creek 2 Steve Looking at Creek 3 Steve Looking at Creek Steve Testing Waters Steve Walking Down Pearl Street

The first day of the trip was spent getting settled into our Airbnb rental apartment in Boulder. We chose a cozy little place on the west end of Pearl Street. Since biking is huge in Boulder, and most all of Colorado, we decided to rent a couple of bikes and tour around town. We biked down Pearl Street, went through the college area of town and did Boulder Creek Path.

The one thing that I noticed right away was the great selection of gluten-free food options. It is very rare for me to go to a sandwich shop and eat a sandwich much less going to a coffee shop and being able to eat a coffee cake. I was able to do both of these things and as silly as that sounds, it was extremely exciting. I had a coffee cake for the first time in over six years. I guess it really is all about the little things right?

You hear so much about how difficult it is to adjust to the Colorado altitude especially when doing activities. I found out really quick what that was like especially when biking through the hills in Boulder. In no time, I was gasping for air with a massive headache settling in and feeling exhausted and dizzy. Of course Steve was totally fine. I pushed through and went to bed early hoping that I would feel much better the next day because we had big plans of going to Estes Park and into the Rocky Mountain National Park up to the peak at over 12,000 feet.

Vacation Location


When I think of vacation spots, usually two types come to mind; beach and mountains. At the core, I am a beach person. I have lived near the water almost my entire life and grew up on boats. It was our Sunday family tradition to go to church then pack up the boat and head out on the water the rest of the day. I love the water especially the beach. I have always considered the beach my one true happy place. Nothing else can melt away the stress for me like the beach does.

On the flip side, I am a nature and scenery addict. I would live outside if I could. I simply cannot get enough beautiful landscape views in my life. I like the mountains but really haven’t spent much time in any mountain locations. My parents lived in the Tennessee Smokey Mountains for many years after I moved away from home so most of my mountain experiences have come from there.

Steve and I will be leaving in a couple of days to celebrate his 40th birthday in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I’ve been told that the Rocky Mountains is the Smokies on steroids. I cannot wait! As I sit on this side of our adventure, I wonder if this mountain experience will change my one true love of the beach. I really do believe that I will always love the beach. It is simply who I am, but the older I get  the more I see that pendulum swing further to the other side of the spectrum. Age certainly changes your likes, dislikes and tastes. Don’t you just love that? It enables you to try new things and have great new life experiences. I cannot wait to see how this mountain experience changes me.

Let’s be honest the only real issue with the mountains is the cold weather.

Long Hair Care

New Hair Head ShotNew Hair Full Body 2

I absolutely love my long hair, but because I have the type of hair that can handle going a year without being cut, my laziness causes me to end up with a mop on my head. It usually takes me getting to a breaking point before I actually decide to cut it. This is exactly where I ended up yesterday. My hairdresser was gracious enough to see me same day. I walked in exasperated saying, “help”. She worked her layer cutting magic and voila! I love her! A fresh cut works wonders.

The Big 4-0 Surprise


Steve turns the big 4-0 this coming Saturday. I couldn’t let this monumental birthday pass without doing something. Let’s just say I went big for this one. I began planning a couple of months ago and it was intended to be a complete surprise until this week. Well, it didn’t turn out exactly as planned. Ever since putting this big surprise together, I meticulously went directly home everyday before the hubs and checked the mail. I didn’t want to take any chances that he would see anything pertaining to the big gift. Then there was the one day that I couldn’t go directly home. We had visitors in at work and went out to dinner. As I’m sitting at my work dinner, I get a text that says, “please tell me that you didn’t buy two plane tickets and an Airbnb reservation for my birthday”. Yep, the one day I didn’t go directly home, he checked the mail and the entire bill was there. What else could I say but, “SURPRISE! I’m taking you to Colorado!”

After getting over the shock, he was very excited. He has wanted to go back to Colorado ever since he was a teenager. So this Friday, this hot weather Florida beach couple is off to the chilly Rocky Mountains sans kids. Let the big celebration begin. Be sure to check back for pics!

P.S. I’ve never been to Colorado and am crazy excited!

Date Night Selfies

Steve Sick Facenell-looking-backNormal Selfie

After being married 18 years, having a fun date night can sometimes mean going to a good restaurant for dinner then going home, sitting together on the couch and watching New Girl. We tried to take selfies but Steve couldn’t stop making faces and I couldn’t stop laughing. We managed to finally get in a “normal” one in the end.

The Bag Sewing Project

White and Brown Canvas Bags Hanging 800Brown and Black bag hanging rack 800 White Canvas Bag hanging wall 800 Brown and Black Bag On 800 White Canvas Bag on 800White Canvas Bag hanging wall full 800
I have had so much fun making these heavy duty canvas bags. Each bag is created using a heavy-weight canvas material. The bags are completely lined with a nice, thick cotton material. I created each bag with a leather shoulder strap. The off-white bag is designed so that it can be grabbed by your side by the two small canvas handles or used as an across body style bag with the leather strap. The brown bag fits a laptop along with other items very nice and is carried by a double leather strap. These bags are durable, large and fun. All the bags are made and designed by myself and handmade with care.

I had so much fun making these bags that I decided to add them as made to order options in my Etsy store. Click here to check them out… {mamanellie designs}. I would love to know what you think. Enjoy!

Tropical Tuesday :: Beach Lunch

Grassy palms Lifeguard Stand View Palm Tree Leaning Palm Tree Shadow Pier View Up the Palm TreeNell Profile

The beach is my happy place. I am completely blessed to work very close to the ocean. I don’t get there every week (especially these days) but try as much as I can to go there to spend my lunch hour. No matter what stress I’ve experienced during my day, I can go to the beach and it seems to literally melt away. I am making it a goal to get to this beautiful spot each and every week.

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts Recipe

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts

When you say brussel sprouts, most people wrinkle their nose and get a nasty look on their face. You know the look I’m talking about. I had heard about oven roasted brussel sprouts and was a bit apprehensive because, well, they’re brussel sprouts. I was pleasantly surprised. They were amazing, so good that I could eat them cold the next morning. Yes, you heard me right. Here’s the recipe. Try it for yourself.

One pack of fresh brussel sprouts
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the stem off of each brussel then cut each in half. Lay the halves on a baking sheet with the flat side down. Sprinkle with olive oil, then balsamic vinegar and finally salt evenly. Bake for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and turn each one so the flat side is facing up. Once again, sprinkle with olive oil, then balsamic vinegar and finally salt evenly. Bake for 15 minutes. Take out and serve.

Upcycled Bag

Denim & Leather Holding in Front Denim & Leather Purse Hanging Denim & Leather Purse Hold Out Denim & Leather Purse On
Here is another fun upcycled item I made this past weekend.  Once again I made this upcycle from mens/boys clothing.  I cut the leg off an old pair of my husbands pants to make the bag, used some left-over black fabric for the inside lining, and the leather straps are made from a boys belt.  The only tricky part (and time consuming) was sewing the leather straps onto the bag.  Because the belt is made of thick leather, I had to hand sew the straps on.  This was such a fun project and turned out really cute. I like how deep the bag is because it fits a ton of my junk.

What 18 Years of Marriage Looks Like

Holding hands front view cut off Holding hands front view Nell laughing Holding Hands looking at each other Holding hands steve making me laughHolding hands front view

This is what eighteen years of marriage looks like.  Our marriage is officially an “adult”. We have been through some of the best times and some of the toughest times.  We dated young (high school), got married young and had children young.  We experienced our “typical 30’s” in our 20’s by getting married at 20 and completing our family by 25. This was both good and bad.  We were too naive to know any better (bliss) yet too rushed to really enjoy the small moments especially with our children.  The great news is that when our children are off setting up and living their own lives, we will still be young (for the most part).

Today, many couples wait until they are finished with college and fully setup in life before pursuing marriage.  This was definitely not the case in my life.  I met my husband (Steve) the first day of my junior year of high school and we’ve pretty much been together since.  We got married at 20, had our first child at 21 and the second at 24. This means that we now have a senior in high school and an 8th grader.

Starting your relationship at the age of 16 means that you automatically expect there to be change.  You expect that each other will become different as time passes.  We were opposites and it worked.  We complemented each other yet molded and changed over the years to mesh quite nicely. Essentially, we grew up together.

Looking back I can definitely say that we have each changed; me more so than Steve.  I was a very reserved and shy teenager. I remember like it was yesterday him telling me, “I’m going to change you”. Of course, I immediately told him that he was crazy, but to be honest, he was more right than I could have ever imagined at the time.  Now, I am outgoing, bold and almost aggressive at times; totally different than when I was 16. So, yes, Steve has changed me.  He gave me confidence in myself and hope in the future.

Steve has changed a bit as nearly two decades will do that to a person but he is still that same sweet fun loving person that I met in sixth period on the first day of my junior year of high school.  He was and still is a lover of life, lives in the moment and makes me laugh in almost every situation.  I fell in love with him for his good looks and his sense of humor.  This is still the case 18 years later.  Happy 18th to my wonderful husband.  I would not do this life with anyone else.

This is what 18 years of marriage looks like.

Check out our story here.