Cozumel Photo Shoot with Mik 'n Drik Photography

When we were on our cruise in May, we made a stop in Cozumel, Mexico. We had been there before and it was something that attracted us to the 2019 itinerary. I love exploring the little island that is full of fun and life. I knew I wanted to try and find a photographer at one of our stops to take some professional pictures of us since we haven't had any officially taken since our wedding. I'm so glad that I found Mik 'n Drik Photography in Cozumel! Oleksandr & Nadine were the sweetest couple to work with. They picked us up right outside the cruise ship terminal and drove us all over the island to some beautiful spots that we could have never found ourselves. They were really easy to talk to and answered our many questions about island life and the cruise industry.

We love the photos they took, and I wanted to share a few here! We're saving some for our Christmas card which I've already designed {Christmas in July I guess!}, but here's a little sneak peek! If you're ever in Cozumel and in need of photographers, definitely reach out to this duo: Mik 'n Drik.

My Lilly Pulitzer is an old pattern from a sale a few years ago, but you can shop the short and long version of my sequin dress below!

What I Actually Bought at the #Nsale

It's totally overdone on social media, but public access is live as off 12:30 p.m. today for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. And since I had to rebuy the gray Caslon sweater-jacket that I got last year because I somehow lost it {on November 11 to be exact. I remember the last time I wore it but it's no where to be found!}, I thought I'd share just the few things I picked up during card holder access.

First thing, super low no show socks. I know it's not the popular opinion, but I hate wearing booties without socks but I hate seeing socks even more. These are super low and no show, plus you can match your sock to your shoe. And for $9? Yes, please. These are great to wear with the black split ankle booties that I love, too. I wore these all year during fall and winter last year! So comfy and can be dressed up or down with jeans/leggings/dresses--it's one of the best pairs of shoes I've ever bought.

I'm loving this pretty Topshop sweater for fall, and I've reordered the gray drape-y sweater-jacket too. I really love this fun shorter pink piece to wear to work! Otherwise, nothing really was jumping out at me. As always, there's some great basic pieces but for the most part it's too warm to stock up on a ton of sweaters in my opinion. After four straight days of 100 degree temps, fall isn't exactly fresh on my mind.

Happy Shopping!

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June/July Recipe Review

Man, I haven't done one of these in a long time!

We've been doing HelloFresh for the last six months now, and while I love it, I don't order it every week. Some weeks I just know we're going to be too busy to cook three meals at home {sounds crazy, but true}, and I need to just cook one that will provide good leftovers for a few days. Anyways, we've been trying out a few recipes and I wanted to share!

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Spicy Cheesy Gochujang Spaghetti
Whoa, yum. We are pretty much Food Network addicts, and in almost every cooking competition show they talk about gochujang at least once. We're recently on the Sriracha train, too, and just Asian food in general. This stuff was so good. It was different, like a sticky spicy spaghetti, but still creamy and cheesy. I used organic lo mein noodles instead of spaghetti noodles to make it even more "authentic." Will definitely make again.

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Avocado Shrimp Burgers

For some reason I'm not the biggest homemade burger fan {although CJM's are delish!}, but after having a delicious shrimp burger at The Battery in Atlanta, I wanted to try my hand at it. This recipe was really really good. I think next time, I'll just put all the shrimp in the food processor instead of only half because mine kind of came apart during the flip in the pan. I also think I'll either use a different kind of bread to make breadcrumbs or will use Panko breading--I went rouge and got potato buns instead of sesame, and when I pulsed them up to make the crumbs it got kind  of clumpy. Will definitely make again.

Poblano Mac & Cheese
In Atlanta, we had the shrimp burger paired with the most amazing macaroni and cheese I think I've ever had. In an attempt to recreate, I tried this recipe. Seems really creamy and had a strong queso element which was a favorite aspect of the original dish. While this wasn't bad, it wasn't awesome either. I like cilantro, but this recipe called for wayyyy too much of it in my opinion. If we attempt again, I'll do less cilantro and more creamy cheesiness.

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Old Bay Shrimp Burritos 
Ours ended up being basically tacos because our low carb tortillas aren't that huge, but these were AWESOME!! Definitely freshened up the ol' Tuesday Taco Night. Will definitely make again.

Carnival Cruise Recap | Cozumel Plus Itinerary + What to Do

*All views and opinions are my own. 

In May CJM and I went on our first Carnival cruise on the Carnival Sunshine out of Port Canaveral. This was a Cozumel Plus itinerary which was really attractive to us because we love Cozumel. The ship also visited three other ports we'd never gone to and was port-intensive so we'd have the chance to do a lot of stuff. I'll be honest, I was a little hesitant to do Carnival considering we've only ever done Royal Caribbean, but we really didn't start playing the comparison game until the very end. We always have a good time anywhere we go, so it really didn't matter which line is considered "nicer" or "more fun" or whatever. I do want to do a comparison post because there were some stark differences, but similarities too, and my ultimate take away is: you're on vacation, so it's fun!

We left on May 5, and I love cruising on Cinco de Mayo because there's always a little something fun about sailing on a holiday of any size. We drove half way to Port Canaveral the night before, and got on the ship right after lunch. With Carnival, you have to reserve a check-in time or be forced to wait. Luckily, we got to security right at 1 p.m. and walked on through. Our rooms weren't ready until 1:30 p.m., but as soon as they were we dropped our stuff, grabbed a drink, and started exploring.

Carnival Sunshine is an older ship with a semi-recent remodel, but I have to say, it's not like any other RCCL ship I've been on (old/new, big/small, etc.). This was very closed-in and hard to navigate, not a big open floor plan like I've become accustomed to. Unfortunately, there was a smell throughout many of the public hallways the entire week that was kind of awful. We tried to avoid those areas at all cost. If we cruise Carnival again, I'd have to try a newer ship. But overall, plenty of bars and things to do and see, and lots of dining options as well--something for everyone!

Our first stop was Cozumel, Mexico, and since our itinerary was a "Cozumel Plus" one we got extra time in port! I searched on Facebook a few months prior and found an amazing photography couple in Cozumel that were so sweet and picked us up right outside of the port. They took us all around the island and took some update photos of CJM and I while telling us more about Cozumel and their experience working in the cruise industry themselves. I highly recommend Mik 'n Drik Photography if you're ever in Cozumel, and I can't wait to show you our photos--although most are a surprise as I've already designed our Christmas card for this year!

After a few hours with them, we spent the rest of the day at the all-inclusive Mr. Sancho's day resort. Of course it was beautiful; the water in Cozumel is absolutely stunning. There were multiple pools, swim up bars, and plenty of lounge chairs. We may or may not have had too much to drink on the ship the night before, so we were finally ready to eat lunch and enjoyed their famous coconut shrimp, some fresh ceviche, salsa, and guac, as well as plenty of margaritas! CJM and I laid out right by the ocean for a couple of hours before spending some time in one of the pools. We met another couple and convinced them to end our day in Cozumel at the Thirsty Cougar Boozery which is home to my absolute favorite margarita in the whole entire world. It's an amazingly fresh cucumber jalapeno that is potent and has just the right amount of spice!

The following day we were in Belize, where we took a very long and uncomfortable boat ride out to Geoff's Caye, a tiny private island that only holds a hundred or so people. There we had an awesome time snorkeling in the clearest water for about an hour, before spending some time napping in the sun. They do have some guys out there grilling food that you can purchase, but we didn't get anything to eat. Belize is a tender port, and one I'd recommend definitely having an excursion planned for, unlike Cozumel which is so easy to explore and very safe.

Our third stop was Mahogany Bay, Isla of Roatan in Hondouras. This is Carnival's private port, and it was stunning {and for some reason, I basically took zero pictures here--I blame the strawberry margaritas!}. Of course there's the usual suspects {Diamonds International!}, but take a quick trip on the "flying chair" and you're on a beautiful white sandy beach. Our "excursion" for the day was actually two tickets to ride the flying chair aka ski lift, two reserved beach chairs and a clam shell umbrella, and two foam mats for the ocean. This was the only excursion I booked through Carnival because it was a really good deal. We checked in, got our spot, grabbed a drink and took our mats into the water. We basically spent all day on our mats floating and swimming which was another reason I didn't grab any pics.

On our fourth and final stop, we visited Costa Maya, Mexico. This port is really kind of cool because there are tons of shops and eateries, pools to swim in, flamingos, little museums and other things to explore all right there when you walk off the ship! If we go back to this port, I probably won't plan an excursion but instead plan on having a pool day because I really have never gotten in the pool on a ship before {kinda freaks me out}. This time, I booked and excursion to see some Mayan ruins because we've never done anything like that before and usually by this point in the trip, CJM has had more than enough sun. We ended up being the only two on our tour which was great, but it was a solid hour drive out to the ruins. We had a private tour around the ruins and our tour guide offered to take lots of pictures. On our ride back to port, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand had some of the best pineapple of my life!

Our first and last days of the cruise were sea days and very fun and relaxing. I do think Carnival does a really great job at being the "Fun Ship." It was a lot of fun, and they definitely are heavy handed with their drink pours! But overall, we missed some of the I suppose higher-end experiences we've grown accustomed to. My biggest issue was the terrible debarkation experience we had, but I'm not 100% sure if that's a Carnival or ship-specific issue.

If you'd like to see more from our trip, head over to my Instagram page {@piperellice} and check out my travel highlight where I saved tons of photos and videos from our week away.

Here are the links to the exact excursions I booked, thanks to my friend Pamela who recommended them!

Cozumel: Mr. Sancho's Beach All Inclusive
Belize: Goff's Caye Island Getaway & Snorkel 
Mahogany Bay: Relax on the Beach Package 
Costa Maya: Costa Maya Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Excursion 

Living Room Re-do

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We've lived in our house for almost two and a half years, which is kind of hard to believe. Time passes so much faster the older I get, plus we are always having a lot of fun in our community and traveling to other places too. But lately I've been feeling like I needed a change.

My family moved ever 18-24 months or so for most of my life, and I think that schedule is almost ingrained in my body. About six months ago, I just got the desire for a blank slate or a new house or something. After looking at a few things we decided to just stay where we are and make some changes here. You can always paint a wall after all, and our house is really the perfect size and location for us right now.

We've found a color palette that we're going to use to repaint the whole house {with just a few minor tweaks}, and we decided to get a few new pieces of furniture to really make the whole house feel fresh. CJM and I went to look at sofas on July 4th and fell in love with basically the first one we saw. The clearance center had multiples but they were on reserve for an interior designer who ended up wanting them all. Our living room is too narrow to have a sectional but I'm always feeling like we need more seating so we've decided to go with two matching sofas facing each other.

CJM really kicked the whole process off with a new coffee table, and I just ordered two slip covered Farlov sofas from Ikea {not linkable, so similar product is linked in the shopable image above}. They come in next week I cannot wait! In the meantime, I've been spending my evenings before bed perusing Amazon and Pinterest for all things home decor and curating the new look. You can check out our semi-current look here {we've changed the rug/curtains/a few pillows and things since then, but overall the feel is the same}.

But now, here comes the hard part. The new gray. The one in the color palette we're using is really a little too dark {SW Light French Gray}, and the lighter suggested version is Sherwin Williams Eider White. My SIL loves Agreeable Gray and I hear great things about Repose, too. So we're trying them all!

After getting two samples from my local SW store, I painted two sample sticker squares and stuck them on the wall. I realized those weren't the right colors, but didn't want to buy two more huge samples from SW {what's the deal with that anyways? Home Depot has like tiny samples that are true samples; these are like quarts!} and have to paint things to hang, etc. etc. While browsing Pinterest, this thing called Samplize popped up and I clicked! It's pre-painted sticker samples that cost less than $6 a piece! Perfection. I've order two other colors and they should arrive today. I'm super excited to hang all four colors together and finally pick the perfect gray.