The Big 4-0 Surprise

beach-chair-thumbs-up

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.

INGREDIENTS:
One pack of fresh brussel sprouts
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt

INSTRUCTIONS:
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.

DIY Crochet and Denim Purse

Camo & Denim Purse On Camo & Denim Purse Hanging Camo & Denim Side View
I like trying new things. I thought it would be fun to make an item using two very different materials.  I decided to mix a crochet piece with denim.  To make this bag you simply need crochet thread, a crochet needle (size G), a button and a strip of denim (I used an old pair of my sons jeans). Here are the simple steps below.  Enjoy!

Instructions:

  1. Crochet the back panel – chain 60 then double crochet 12 rows.
  2. Crochet the front panel – chain 40 then double crochet 12 rows.
  3. Lay the front panel on top of the back panel and double crochet around two sides and bottom and turn right side out.
  4. Sew your denim strip closed then attach to each side of the purse sewing on by hand.
  5. Make the loop closure by crocheting a chain stitch to the center/top of the back panel.
  6. Hand sew button to the front panel

Labor-Less Weekend

Boys playing in the pool Danica I pooped today Earl and Trey Walking Girls at Guabanas Hawaii Please Nell Camera View Off to the Races Palm Trees Pointing out to dad Prissy Looking Outside Sunglasses View Trey Drilling Trey Spear a PBR Trey the Pool man Trey walking on Water Waiting to Race
We did Labor Day weekend very well; no labor.  Well I should say that the “labor” we did was fun labor. We spent the long weekend at my mom’s about an hour north of our house (near the ocean).

The weekend started with a paddleboard race to benefit Autism research.  The race was tough but such a great cause.  The rest of the weekend consisted of a lot of pool hangs mixed with margarita drinking and good food eating.  My brother showed my son, Trey, how to make a Hawaiian sling (hand fishing spear).  Of course we had to test this out in the pool by spearing a beer cans.  This act was coincidentally coined as “beer fishing”.  Yes, I clearly realize how incredibly redneck this sounds.  But, hey, it was lots of fun!

Hope everyone enjoyed a restful and fun Labor Day weekend as well.  Now, back to reality.  :(

Upcycled Skirt

Upcycled Skirt Front View Upcycled Skirt Laughing Upcycled Skirt Side View Upcycled Skirt - STOPShirt Before
I love taking old clothes and making something new.  My husband cleaned out his closet not long ago and was getting rid of this old denim shirt.  Because my husband is 6’2″ and I’m only 4’11”, I thought there would be enough material to turn it into a skirt.  I used the bottom of the shirt for the skirt cutting the shirt beneath the arms and used the sleeves for the waist band.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The skirt turned out perfectly!