Vacation Planning

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If you've been around me at all in the last month,  you've heard about one thing: our vacation! We booked another week-long cruise in May {read about our last adventure here}, and I cannot wait. I really really like cruising. For us, it just works. It's all-inclusiveness + the sheer amount of activities and entertainment make it a no-brainer, especially since not everyone can't be out in the sun as much as I can.

We're going on a Western Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, and will be stopping in Haiti, Jamaica, and Mexico. I like going in May because it's super warm, but not blisteringly hot just yet, and we shouldn't have to worry about any hurricanes either. If you've been on this boat or done this itinerary before, let me know some of your favorite can't miss spots or activities!

There's always a bunch of "what to pack" lists for cruises that are like, way too much stuff. I'm more concerned with the wardrobe for the week of course, so I threw together a quick list of my faves. 

1 & 2. Cute one pieces & shorts: Great for excursions and exploring your stops. No worrying about things becoming untied or slipping down when doing the various activities (Pink Ruffle Suit here) (Blue Off the Shoulder Suit here). I like pairing them with some cute shorts to create a cohesive look. Of course a cover up or caftan work as well, but sometimes with all the walking/climbing/etc., it's nice to have shorts.

I still love a good bikini for tanning, and usually find a great selection at Target. 

3. A Beach Bag: Mine is huge and monogrammed, but I saw this palm one at Belk this past weekend and loved the waterproof material as well as the exterior pockets! I use my beach bag to carry all my important stuff on and off the boat: meds, passport, wallet, etc. and then I reduce and put the beach towel in it when we are at our various destinations.  I use this in place of my traditional handbag and and camera bag for the week. 

4. Beach Towel Clips: It's windy on these giant ships. I've never brought the clips before, but I'm going to this time. I hate trying to lay out by the pool and the wind keeps whipping the towel into me the entire time. 

5. Fun Maxi Dress: This is the time to bring out all the fun summer wear, and a great palm print maxi like this one is perfect for the environment and the more formal nights. There's a ton of really cute palm/flamingo/lemon/fruit themed pieces out there this year, and vacation is the best time to wear something printed and fun!

6. Sunhat: No brainer, but it's hot and sunny whether you're on the boat or exploring the destination. These fun sunhats were all the rage last summer, and I've found these dupes for less than $20 with lots of fun sayings on them like "Alcohol You Later" and "Do Not Disturb." 

7. Sunnies: Same with the hat, you need sunglasses on a cruise. Why not get a fun colored pair like some pink tinted aviators?!

8. Clutch with Shoulder Strap: So I  gifted white monogrammed bags like these to my bridesmaids, and got one for myself with my new monogram too, and it turned out to be the most handy thing I had on the last cruise. It's the right size and weight to hold your cruise ship pass, wallet/money, lip gloss, and phone. It looks nice at dinners as a clutch, and is easy to carry throughout the ship without lugging around the whole giant beach bag. I just slip it inside the beach bag with my wallet and passport to get started, and then pull it out when needed throughout the week. 

Pinch Proof | All Things Green

This post contains affiliate links.

It's the time of year where all things in Dublin, Ga., begin turning green! With green bows on mailboxes and shamrocks on doors, there's more than enough green to go around. I rounded up a quick list of a few of my favorite green {and gold!} St. Patrick's things to wear throughout the month of March and into spring.

Of course I love the Charleston Rice Beads green necklace and bracelet combo. These are two great pieces to add a touch of green to any outfit; I particularly like adding it over a black dress or a white top with navy pants. Dainty gold shamrock studs don't scream green, but are definitely festive, and would look so cute with the lime gingham Collyn Raye top with white jeans.

This jade monogrammed clutch is on major sale {50% off!}, and is another piece that can be added to a non-green outfit to make it St. Pats appropriate, just like the cashmere poncho. And finally, who doesn't need some green tassel earrings. These look just like the ones from Baublebar but are only $10 and come in so many colors.  Plus, Prime, so go get a pair or two!

Erin Go Bragh! 

Merry Mardi Gras + Rent the Runway Review

Happy Mardi Gras!

Definitely not one of my "normal holidays" but after all the fun a few weeks ago, it may need to become one. Some of CJM's friends from pharmacy school are from Biloxi, Mississippi, and are super involved in their local Mardi Gras celebrations. They invited us to come to this year's coronation ball as Jacob was being crowned Duke and his brother king of their krewe.

Having never done Mardi Gras before, all I knew was that it was fancy...lots of sparkles and sequins. Que Rent the Runway. I thought I had a dress to wear, but I just wasn't loving it on Wednesday night; mind you, we were flying out before 9:00 a.m. on Friday. I didn't really have a lot of time to find a back up formal gown. So at about midnight, I decided to look into Rent the Runway, and I'm so glad that I did!

I packed my original dress {because a girl can never have too many options, right?} and hoped that my gowns would be at the hotel by Friday evening. So the cool thing about RTR is that you get three dresses with your order: you pick your favorite dress in the size you think you need, as well as another size {larger or smaller depending on reviews, measurements, etc.}, as well as a singular "back up" dress. For my favorite dress, I picked a gold fully-sequined Badgley Mischka dress in my size and a size up, and then a metallic cut-out Adianna Papell gown as the back up.

With the time change and our early flight, we arrived at our hotel at 10:00 a.m., and surprisingly not only was our room ready and they let us check in early, but my RTR package had arrived as well! The gowns came on gold hangers in a fabric garment bag that folds in half and zips up for shipping. I ended up wearing the back up RTR dress for a couple of reasons.

The sequin gown was strapless and really heavy, and would have scratched under my arms really badly. Plus the two dresses were totally different color golds and the one that fit me best was a really brassy gold instead of the more champagne color like the other size. Plus, the Adrianna Papell gown was so comfortable! It was an amazing almost t-shirt material but had a fab metallic sheen to it. The straps and cut-outs were comfortable and fit me just perfectly, and the slit wasn't too high. Some sparkly shoes and jewelry really set it off right.

I ended up flying home with the dresses folded up as my carry on because I'm paranoid and wanted to drop it off at UPS myself and not leave it with the hotel staff, just in case. But yes, I will definitely Rent the Runway again! It makes so much sense...I spent less than I would have on any kind of appropriate dress for that type of an event, that I never would have worn again. Plus, it saves me room in my closet which I definitely need!

"Fancy" Valentine's Day Cookies

If you've been around me in the last two weeks, you've probably heard about my obsession with "fancy cookies." I've long loved these sweet treats, but decided I would attempt making some of my own for Valentine's Day treats for work and for my loves. I went and purchased all the supplies this past week {P.S. Kroger has meringue powder wayyy cheaper than Wal-Mart!}, and got started Friday evening making my dough.

The first batch of dough I used was yummy, but really challenging to work with. I ended up making two batches of this Wilton roll out cookie recipe without any almond extract because that's not my favorite. I made about seven dozen cookies, and this royal icing recipe made more than enough for me to ice them all with with enough for probably another dozen left over! My first batch of dough was from that same recipe link, but I felt like the Wilton recipe was less material to work with, and cut better.

I used three different heart shaped cutters, and found that the wider hearts ended up looking better with the icing on them. I made four colors with gel dye: pink, red, purple and white. I used a variety of techniques and sprinkles to just try to get comfortable with this whole thing! I made only one consistency of icing, and would line the cookies and let it set for a few minutes before flooding it with color.

It does take a while for the icing to dry for stacking, but it's also been raining and will be raining for a lot of this week, so the humidity in the air may have affected the drying time! I'm definitely going to make these again...shamrocks, anyone? I think it will go a lot faster/smoother now that I've done it once and know what to expect. I'll also try to do a couple of different consistencies for decorating and texture.

If you have any royal icing tips or ideas, leave me a comment!

One Year Here

One year ago today, we closed on our house here in Dublin. This was one of many firsts: buying a home, living together full-time, moving somewhere to create a life as a married couple. While it was 'home' for Christopher, my heart and my home is all over the East Coast and I was expecting a move to a small town in South Georgia to present some challenges.

While there were a few along the way {The Great Flowerbed Flood of 2017, and Hurricane Irma just to name a few} the move was surprisingly smooth. I'm not sure that I've ever felt as at peace about living somewhere as I do here. And while a lot of that has to do with my husband, a lot of it also has to do with the people here. I've lived a lot of places, and people are not universally accepting, kind, or excited to get to know the new person. Usually there is some hesitancy and distrust of those coming it to a tight-knit community that causes the transplant to rescind and not make further attempts at developing connections and relationships.

I've never felt more universally accepted and liked than I have here in Dublin. I've met so many people who are genuinely interested in me, my husband, our lives, and in making a deeper connection. I'm not sure I've ever lived somewhere that so many people are as deeply rooted in their faith and are actively living it out. The people here are kind, and inclusive, and loving.

While we have a short list of shopping and dining options {Target will never happen here, y'all.}, we have a growing and thriving downtown community that I'm proud to work in every day. I've been included in an amazing Bible study group with some wonderful ladies that I wouldn't have met if one person hadn't taken a chance and asked me, a virtual stranger, to come over for dinner. And I feel so blessed to live in a community that values family, my marriage, and our commitment to each other.

I've learned to value the little things more, thanks to living in this small town. Even though my mother cries every time she has to make the almost five hour drive to see me and I have to Amazon my face wash each month, I appreciate the fact that it takes me five minutes to get pretty much anywhere any day of the week. I love the fact that we have 52 official St. Patrick's Day events that start in February...and don't expect to find a green bow for sale anywhere after Valentine's Day. I love that my in-laws are just down the road. I laugh at the sheer number of parades we have that makes it feel like I'm living in my very own Stars Hollow. And anytime we go somewhere, I'm always ready to get back home.

So here's to here, and a great year. Cheers to many more.

His & Hers Sweet Treats {V-Day Gift Guide}

Monogrammed Tie Clip | Monogrammed Wine Tumbler | S is for Southern
Mint Julep Candle | Kendra Scott Bracelet | Hobo Wallet | Charleston Rice Beads Necklace 

I’ve actually already done my Valentine’s Day shopping for the hubs thanks to a fab couples massage last weekend when we were out of town. But don’t think I wasn’t worried about it before I concocted that fun experience! CJM had never had a massage before, so I thought a weekend away would be the perfect time to splurge a little and do something fun together.

Anyways, I was perusing some of these “Valentine’s Day Gifts for Him” lists, just felt that the items weren’t practical or lacked a cool and/or unique factor. One of the cool things I wanted to get my hubs for Christmas {but nowhere in town sold it} is this cool, indigo gin. It even changes colors from a light purple, to blue, to pink depending on the mixers and add-ins! The wood watches are super trendy guy gifts, but this one with the dark green face was really beautiful. There are a couple of different patterns of this fun Lilly Pulitzer tie that would be perfect for Easter as well as Vday Date Night, and the Emily McCarthy monogrammed tie clip really pulls the whole look together.

And probably my most random gift suggestion is the Man Crate, something I heard about on a podcast. They have a bunch of different themes of gift boxes varying in prices from $40-$150+, but the cool part is that it’s shipped in a wooden crate with a laser engraved steel bar to open it with! How fun!

Always jewelry for the ladies! I have a Kendra Scott “bolo” bracelet myself, and I love how easy it is to put on and adjust the sizing. I really like this bar design, and it comes in three colors. Speaking of colors, the newest color in the Charleston Rice Beads collection is called Rainbow Row and is so fun. Kind of similar to the unicorn coloring that was popular in 2017, these metallic beads look great on with a variety of colors and add some real personality to any outfit.

Another colorful item is this Hobo “Rachel” wallet in the mosaic paisley print. I saw this in a local Dublin boutique called Mint, and fell in love. It has a ton of room for cards, cash, and maybe even your phone. I like a brightly colored wallet to help me find it in the bottom of my bag along with a million other random things.

Two other things from the fab Emily McCarthy Shoppe that I love are these monogrammable wine tumbler. They come in a bunch of colors with a handful of unique monogram designs so your cup really stands out from the rest. Also available are large tumblers and canteens. The store also carries this yummy Mint Julep candle collection that smells wonderful, and doubles as décor once the candle melts away.

And finally, for a gift that could really go either way is the “S is for Southern” Garden & Gun book, perfect for any love of all things southern. What’s on your Valentine’s day gift list?

Valentine's Home Decor

Valentines Day has become one of my favorite holidays as an adult. I don't remember much fondness of it growing up, but since I met Mr. Right, it's always been a special day for us. At home I'm working on growing my collection of V-day décor. While we have a lot of great florists and other places to shop for wonderful items to fill your home, I have to say that I really miss having a Target/HobLob/Michael's/etc. during the "off season" holidays. And maybe it's just me but I feel like the only Valentine's décor I do see is "galentines" focused which is great, but I kind of love the traditional xoxo, be mine, and sweetheart pieces personally!

I stopped into Classic Florist here in town, and saw this precious garden flag. It really kicked off this next round of holidays for me. I missed decorating for Valentine's last year because we moved that same week, but I intentionally began pulling my pieces as I was putting away Christmas a few weeks ago. Transitioning straight into another season of celebration has definitely helped with the post-Christmas blues.

A lot of my pieces are from my very first bridal shower which you can check out here. And if you'd like to see how I styled them in my last house, read this post

What do you love most about Valentine's Day? Do you have any fun traditions or memories? 

Love to you all! 

Ring in the New Year with a Sparkling Smile

This post is in collaboration with Smile Brilliant; all opinions are my own. 

New year, new you, right? 

Maybe not a totally new you, but what about a brighter smile?!

I take great pride in my teeth after years of braces and other drama, and always thought I had relatively white teeth. But years of soda and a coffee habit I can't kick has taken it's toll. And while my teeth weren't yellow, they just had lost their sparkle. 

I've used drugstore whitening strips before in the past but hated the taste and how slippery they always feel on my teeth. While great in a pinch, the long term results weren't awesome. Thanks to Smile Brilliant, I've found a more personal, thorough solution. 

How it Works
I was really intrigued about trying the Smile Brilliant whitening system because they create trays that are designed based on molds of your actual teeth! So they don't slip and slide around like other strips, allowing the whitening solution to coat your teeth more accurately.

 Smile Brilliant sent me a kit full of the supplies: material to create the molds of my teeth, whitening and desensitizing gel, and a lot of very specific instructions for the whole process which I loved! After mixing the materials together and creating a mold of my top and bottom teeth, I sent the molds in; within just a week or two, I had my own custom whitening trays

The Smile Brilliant whitening gel is really powerful and it has to be left on for quite a while {at least 45 minutes} but there is an additional desensitizing gel that made the whole process a lot better for me. I have pretty sensitive teeth, and had to space my whitening out a few days at a time, but the desensitizing gel really made my teeth and gums feel more normal after whitening than just 
whitening alone. 

My Results
While I didn't see a whole ton of shade difference in my teeth after three tubes of whitening, they are a lot brighter and the overall color of my teeth is more consistent. I began getting a lot of compliments on my teeth and my smile, which of course is an added bonus! 



Your Turn
So are you ready for a bright, shiny smile of your own? Smile Brilliant is offering the chance to win a $139 credit for a custom whitening kit of your own! Enter to win by clicking this link:  

You must submit your name and email address via the link in order to enter the giveaway. The winner will be selected and contacted via email in two weeks from today {January 10, 2018}! This contest is open to readers in the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia. Good luck!

Want to go ahead and order your own kit? Use my 10% coupon code: piperellice

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