Forty One

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So, this is 41. Supposedly once you’re over 40, then you’re considered “over the hill”, right? Well maybe, maybe not. In my 20’s I did consider the 40’s as being “over the hill” and I had a picture in my head of what that would look and feel like. This is not at all what I expected. Man, am I glad.  I choose to make the most of every day.  I choose to do the things that make me feel alive. So, here’s to the 40’s. Bring it on!

*A special thanks to my three favorite people; Steve, Danica and Trey.  Steve made me feel special and let me do anything I wanted all weekend while he did my chores for me.  Trey went rock climbing with me and we had the best time.  Danica gave me the best present by coming home for the weekend to hang out with me.  To each of you… thank you for being you and thank you for being amazing.  You made me feel so very special. 

 

Hair Color Gone Wrong

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oil-treatment-before-and-after

How many of you have taken the plunge to bleach your hair only to end up with an orange dried mess?  I’ve gone the bleaching route but only twice.  The first time was not a problem; the second time, not so much.  My hair is dark brown; almost black so going light for me can be very tricky.  On the plus side, my hair is very thick and course so it can usually handle a good bit of abuse.

The Dryness Issue:
Before I explain what happened with this last bleaching experience, I will say that I have an unusual distaste for tangly, dried hair. I like hair that looks and feels healthy.  So, the adventure begins.  I went to a new salon and stylist to get a mix of ombre and balayage.  At first I liked the look, but that affinity faded quickly.  The more I washed my hair the more orange, tangly and dry it got (and I never even blow dried or used heat).  I began trying everything under the sun to soften the ends (where it was bleached).  I tried special (hard core) conditioner you wash out, hot oil treatments, leave in conditioner, smoothing oils, etc.  The list goes on and on.  In utter frustration, I got 5 inches of my hair cut off because the ends were in such bad shape. Luckily, my hair was down to my hips so I had some length to spare.  The cut did not help much.  My ends were still dry straw, YUCK!  I reached out to a friend to ask if she had any ideas and she brought me to the section in Wal-Mart typically for African women and showed me a product, B&B Tropical Roots, that her daughter uses who has thick, course hair similar to mine.  I was willing to try anything and at $5 a bottle it was worth it!

Dryness Solution:
Here is my process. I used the B&B Tropical Roots as a hot oil treatment by putting the entire bottle in a cup of nearly boiling water and heated it up for about 15 minutes.  Once heated, I worked the oil into my dry hair soaking it completely (only on the bleached parts).  I then clipped my hair on top of my head and put a shower cap on so that I didn’t drip any oil on my clothes and let it sit for 45 minutes.  After that, I simply shampooed and conditioned.  The before and after picture above shows the drastic difference.  I couldn’t believe it.  It worked!

*Only use Tropical Roots oil if you have very thick and course hair.  This product will not work for fine and/or thin hair.

Orange Color Solution:
I finally found something to overcome the dryness.  Now onto the issue with the orange color.  I was faced with two options; one, bleach further to lift the orange color to a blonde or two, dye back to my natural color.  Since I was not willing to bleach and damage my hair any further, I chose to dye my hair back to my natural color by using an oil based non-ammonia box color (Garnier Nutrisse or Garnier Olia).  Once again, success! (first image above)

*If you color right after doing the oil treatment, your hair may be very greasy until you wash it. Pony tails are your friend!

After much fretting, the problem was solved.  Never, never, never again will I bleach or lighten my hair.  I like my healthy, silky, smooth and manageable hair way more than I like trying a different color.

 

Ocean Magic

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For me, paddleboading can be a purely magical experience.  This week I got to experience one of those magical moments. The water was completely flat, glassy, crystal clear and calm, the ocean was filled with beautiful sea life, the wind was calm and the moon was full.  It was perfect!  I quickly remembered just how much I love paddleboarding and how grateful I am to live in a place where I can do things like this year round.

You see, two years ago (before my mom’s accident), I was out on the water every single week without fail.  Then life flipped upside down and I just never got back into the habit.  Well, I’m taking life by the horns and I’m changing that.  Doing fun active activities makes me feel better physically and emotionally. Paddleboarding is probably at the top of that activity list for me.  It makes me feel alive! Now I’m looking to add additional activities to this list; mountain bike trail riding and indoor rock climbing.  More to come on that.  In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying more time on the ocean.

Beach Photography

I have been MIA from the blog for sometime; 3 months to be exact!  WOW, how quickly time flies.  Hopefully that will change.  Soon there will be a post about my hair, the debacle and the process to recover.  I know, don’t get too excited.  In the meantime, I wanted to share my most recent little hobby with you.

If you know me at all, then you know I’m a beach lover.  It could be said that I moved my family 1600 miles to be close to the beach.  (well, that’s at least one reason anyway) The beach brings me peace.  It is my happy place.  Ok, after much  babbling, here’s the point.  I got this awesome lens set for my Samsung phone from my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas.  The set came with a wide angle lens and a fish eye lens. My Galaxy s6 Active already takes great photos, but this lens takes it up a notch. Plus, it’s super easy to use.  I can’t stop taking photos.

Here are just a few pics I’ve taken in just the last three weeks.  If you follow me on Instagram, then this will be a repeat.  If you don’t follow me on Instagram, please do.  You can find me at @mamanellie_.

surflines surfboard-pier sunset-view-rays sunburst-dance sand-view-clear-water nell-walking-up nell-walking-up-dress bird-up-close birds-sandbar clouds-reflection cloudy-lighthouse crooked-palm lifeguard-stand miami-beach-sunset bird-flying bird-flying-wings-up

Denver for Two

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The hubs and I went on a very quick getaway to Denver to see our favorite singer live.  We have been dying to see Amanda Shires for years but she never seems comes to our state.  However, she does go to places like Denver, CO.  Since we had just celebrated our 20 year wedding anniversary, we figured, why the heck not.  Let’s go to Denver!  It was the perfect excuse.  So, we booked our little 2 1/2 day getaway to Denver to see Amanda at Opelia’s Electric Soapbox (amazing little venue) and to do a bit of sightseeing (my fave).  Unfortunately, I had altitude sickness the entire trip but was determined to push through.  It was by far the most fun I have ever had all while feeling dizzy and nauseous.

Win and Relaxation

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The place we stayed in the keys was absolutely perfect.  It was located directly on the Gulf and lined with palm trees and hammocks; the perfect location for doing absolutely nothing; exactly what this family needed.  The sunsets never cease to amaze me.  I stand there in awe every time taking a ridiculous number of pictures as the colors evolve every few seconds.  I don’t think I will ever get tired of watching them.

The real reason we went to the keys was for our annual showdown with Key West High School.  This year was a bit different than last.  This year we won (yay!), but unfortunately my son got a fever just an hour before the game started.  The win was great, but a bit bittersweet night for us since he was feeling so bad.  We spent the weekend in the keys relaxing with family as planned.  As soon as we got home on Sunday, I took him to the urgent care and sure enough he had bronchitis.  They gave us an antibiotic and we are hoping for a quick recovery.

All is well that ends well.

Twenty Years

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It is truly amazing how quickly twenty years of marriage has flown by.  The first decade was spent having and raising young children and seemed to go by at somewhat of a normal pace.  The second decade has gone by in the blink of an eye.  It feels a bit strange and surreal; like a couple of years went by but definitely not ten.  It seems like we went to sleep one night with young children and woke up with older teens.  We now find ourselves embarking on being empty nesters with two adult children.  I really am having trouble wrapping my mind around this time warp.

Let’s back up over two decades for just a minute.  I’ve been told that my marriage and what we have is an anomaly; truly unlikely and almost statistically impossible.  The hubs and I met my junior year, his senior year of high school.  We became best friends and then started dating.  After dating for four years (on and off), we got married at the young age of 20 and had a baby right away at the age of 21.  Being together since the age of 16, getting married young and having a baby at a young age.  Any one of these factors alone sets us up for failure, but all three?  Impossible.  Right?  Well, somehow we made it.  Not only have we made it this far but we are happy; seriously happy.  We are just as happy now as we were way back then, maybe even more so.

I don’t know that there is any one “secret” to my marriage.  I am just as awestruck as anyone looking in from the outside, to be honest.  I feel incredibly grateful for what I have and I definitely try not to ever take it for granted.  I will say that getting married young and having children young as opposed to waiting until we were older and “set up” in life had its real advantages in our marriage.  In those early years, we truly fumbled through life.  We were so young and had absolutely no idea what we were doing.  I think when you get married young, you expect each other to change.  You expect each other to grow.  This expectation allowed us to come together and actually grow up together.  Neither one of us had the answers.  We just figured it out as we went, but we did so together.  It was an adventure.  It was our adventure that turned into an absolutely beautiful life with an amazing marriage and two awesome kids.

What will the next twenty years hold?  I have no idea. I do know that it will lead us into a brand new season in our lives.  We will have two adult children, become empty nesters, put our children through college and watch them spread their wings and start their own lives.  Then it is us again.  Back to the beginning, in a weird sort of way.  We still won’t have the answers but we will figure it out together.  It will be our next adventure.

* Steve, I cannot thank you enough for sticking by me all these years.  I absolutely love doing life with you.  I cannot wait to see what the next twenty years hold for us.  No doubt, it will be something beautiful.  I love you with all my heart.  😉

 

 

Wall Tapestry DIY

Wall Hanging Finished

I spent a good bit of time online looking for something to hang on the blank wall above our bed.  Because I needed something quite large, I decided on a tapestry.  The only issue is that when searching for wall hangings or tapestries, the only search results were hangings of the hippy/India/mandala style. I rather like the hippy style personally but I was wanting something with a bit more flowers and a lot less tie dye.  Also, I was looking for something that didn’t just look like a square blanket hanging on a wall.  I wanted something with some shape to it.  So, as per the usual, when I can’t find what is envisioned in my head, I set out to make it myself. Below are the steps to recreate.

Materials:

2-3 yards of fabric (I got the extra wide type from the home fabric section)
Iron
Measuring tape
Fabric pencil (or a pink colored pencil)
Straight pins
Sewing macine
Adjustable curtain rod

Instructions (see pics below):

  1. Cut fabric to be evenly square or rectangle (size of your choosing – my finished product is 6′ x 4′)
  2. Find the middle of the fabric and measure 18″ from the bottom (or measurement of your choosing). Make a mark in this spot.
  3. Lay a long ruler or your measuring tape from the mark made diagonally to the corner of the fabric and make a line with your pin pencil.  Repeat on the other side as well.
  4. Cut out your triangle from the bottom middle of the fabric.
  5. Flip the fabric over and iron all edges over except for the top.  I did about 3/4 of an inch.
  6. Sew all your edges.
  7. Make a 2″ loop at the top of your fabric and pin in place.
  8. Sew the loop.
  9. Hang and enjoy

Wall Hanging Material BeforeWall Hanging Cut TriangleWall Hanging Ironing EdgesWall Hanging Pinned Top

A Soggy Hawaiian Bridal Shower

Photobooth - Earl Jo and KonaAdvice TableLei TablePhotobooth SetupPhotobooth - Frame Papa Nana and NellPool AreaEarl and Jo Hula Hooping Photobooth - Dee and Nell JoAnna the Hawaiian Photobooth - Frame Papa and Nell Photobooth - Jo & Nell Rings Group Photobooth - Frame Earl and Jo Kiss Through Frame Photobooth - Jo Face Megan Ball Hula Hoop Jeopardy Photobooth - Dee and Bringas Earl Sailor Hat - Jos Finger Photobooth - Frame Earl and Jo Letters

My brother is marrying the absolute sweetest girl in less than 50 days.  We are all so excited to have her become part of our family. To ensure that she felt super special, we pulled together a backyard Hawaiian themed surprise shower for her this past Sunday.  They will be going to Hawaii (Kauai and Maui) for their honeymoon so the theme was quite fitting.  In planning and crafting for weeks, I was super excited about how this shower was coming together; maybe a little too excited because typical Florida summer rain was quickly turning the party into a very soggy event.  We setup for hours only to have everything rained on multiple times; moving everything outside, then inside then outside again with the last move only being a matter of 10 minutes before the bride to was to show.  My sweet, sweet dad could see my devestation and was determined to get everything back outside and setup before the kick-off.  Surprisingly enough, the rain held off the rest of the day.  One table was soaked and the photobooth area was drenched but that didn’t seem to matter.  We all had a blast and it turned out to be a HUGE success!

Welcome to the family, JoAnna!  Based on my brother’s answers to the bridal jeopardy questions (and just generally speaking), he is incredibly blessed to have you in his life.  I am just so excited to be a part of this monumental time in your lives.  I can’t wait to share in many more.

P.S. – So excited to have my Dee (and her boyfriend) at the shower to not only celebrate with the bride and groom but to support me (even after having just moved back to college two days beforehand).  You’re amazing, Dee!  I don’t know what I’d do without you.

A Heavenly Birthday

Granny Bridesmaid granny Rose Mardi Gras

Today would have been your 84th birthday if you were still here on earth with us.  They say that time heals.  Maybe it does.  I still just feel emptiness in my heart.  I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I don’t think about you.  I miss the days when I could pick up the phone and say, “hey granny” and hear your voice on the other end reply, “hey bébé”.

I’m going to admit something here that haunts me everyday.  It’s three simply words that continue to mull over in my mind…I didn’t call.  You died in the midst of my mom’s tragedy.  You were sick.  I didn’t want you to know about mom because you would get upset and worry making your sickness all that much worse.  So, what did I do?  I didn’t call. I didn’t call because I wouldn’t know what to say when you asked about mom and dad. I didn’t call because I didn’t want you to get upset.  In my heart, I thought I was doing the right thing.  I know now that I was wrong.  So what if you asked me about mom.  I should have called.  You needed to hear my voice in the midst of all that you were going through. For that, I am eternally sorry.

I love you with all my heart and miss you like crazy. Happy heavenly birthday, Granny!

PS – My deepest apologies for the heavy post.  You can read the “One Year” tribute post HERE that is a bit on the brighter side.