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Family Cruise (Circa Summer 2019)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Dress: Modcloth  |  Shoes: Ross  |  Headband: Wallmart  |  Earrings: Walmart

Dress: Homemade  |  Wrap: Charming Charlie's  |  Shoes: Goodwill (Chaps)  |  Purse: Marshalls

Swimsuit: Shein  |  Headband: Target  |  Sunglasses: Five Below (similar on Amazon) 

Dress: Papaya  |  Shoes: Target  |  Earrings: Sugar Fix (Target)


First Port: Cozumel
Swimsuit: Rey Swimwear (old) 
Dress: Homemade  |  Shoes: Ross 

Second Port: Grand Cayman

Third Port: Jamaica


This post is definitely very LATE in coming, but apparently the trend here on my blog is writing/blogging about a trip a YEAR after it happens....LOL! 
However, with all that being said, I thought I would take some time to share about our family cruise we took last summer (summer 2019). This was our first cruise and it was THE BEST VACATION EVER!!! We seriously had soooo much fun and made so many memories that we still talk about to this day!
We planned our Cruise about 6 months in advance and booked our 7 day Cruise with Royal Caribbean along with the help of a travel agent. This was actually a trip that I didn't have a lot of hands on experience planning, since my mom took care of most of it, but the great thing about a cruise is so much is included. 
Our cruise was 7 days and we stopped at 3 different ports: Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. In each port we planned excursions with a private excursion company who offered more options than Royal Caribbean. There is truly soooo much to share about our Cruise so I am going to share some of my FAVORITE things about it and what we did in each port. You can also watch my Vlog which details every days adventures. 

FAVORITE THINGS:
1) All you can eat food 24/7..... for breakfast and lunch we ate from the buffet which always had so much to choose from and for dinner we had the fancy sit down where you get to choose from the nights menu (and it was all delicious). They also had a pizza parlor that served pizza all day long!!
2) We loved the different shows and entertainment that were offered every night. Our favorite was probably the British Piano player in the jazz lounge who would play any song you suggested. We also went to a comedy show, a dance performance, and a musical and all were fantastic. 
3) Relaxing & reading at the pool! There is nothing quite like sitting on a lounge chair and looking out at a never ending ocean. 
4) I loved dressing up for dinner every night! While dinner was "fancy" attire and one night was formal dress, you can easily stay within the "dressy" category and be fine. 
5) I loved all of the ports that we stopped at and the excursions we had planned (see below)
6) If you like "People Watching" a cruise is definitely your "cup of tea"!
7) Dancing at the night clubs! Ever night they had "nigh clubs" in different areas of the shop and I went to them on two of the nights with my brother and sister and had a lot of fun...definitely not my ideal atmosphere, but it was still a lot of fun :)

PORTS & EXCURSIONS:
Cozumel - Cozumel definitely stole my heart and I cannot wait to go back! I have a whole new appreciation for the ocean after my experience in Cozumel. My mom booked us a private snorkeling excursion in Cozumel and it was amazing! We took a boat out into the middle of the ocean and got to snorkel in the crystal blue water. The crazy thing is that I hardly ever go in the ocean because I don't like not knowing what is around me, but it's so different when the water is clear all the way to the bottom. We got to hold starfish, swim with fish, and it was just amazing! 
After our snorkeling adventure my brother and sister got to swim with dolphins at the local aquarium, and that was super cool. 
Grand Cayman - Our Grand Cayman excursion was definitely an adventure! We booked an jet ski excursion where we all got to ride jet ski's out into the middle of the ocean to a place called "Sting Ray City" which is essentially a sand bar where Sting Rays congregate and we all got to hold a Sting Ray (see picture above). Taking Jet Ski's into the middle of the ocean was a bit nerve wracking, but it was also exciting :)
Jamaica - In Jamaica we booked an excursion to Duns River Falls. We loaded up on a bus with other families from our cruise ship and rode about 45 minutes to the Falls. While the bus ride was long, it gave us a chance to see a lot of Jamaica and hear about its history from our Tour Guide...I have a completely different perspective and appreciate for Jamaica now! Once we arrived at the falls, we got to climb the giant waterfall. After the Falls we had a traditional Jamaican lunch at a local restaurant and got to experience "Jerk Chicken" which is their version of barbecue and it was delicious. 


We are counting down the days until we can go on another cruise, but for now I will continue reliving it in pictures! 

Have you ever been on a cruise?
Have you visited Cozumel, Grand Cayman, or Jamaica?

- Madison 

Thrift Flip: I Turned a Skirt Into a Dress

Friday, July 24, 2020

Dress: Goodwill Thrift Flip  |  Shoes: Wallmart (old)  |  Jacket: c/o Madewell  |  Purse: Thrifted (Fossil)

I made a dress out of a skirt!!! This project was seriously soooo much fun and I am so happy with how it turned out. If you know me, you know that I LOVE thrifting and that most of what I wear is thrifted, but recently I have been trying to stretch myself creatively, especially when it comes to thrifting and so I have decided to start doing "Thrift Flip" projects!
Basically a "Thrift Flip" project is thrifting a piece and then flipping it to be something else or a different style (I have a swimsuit thrift flip coming soon). I decided to start with an easy project after finding this skirt (see "before" above) at Goodwill (see my Thrift Haul HERE). I got this skirt because I loved how unique it was, it reminded me of something that I would find at Anthropologie or Freepeople and because it was 3 sizes larger than my typical size, I knew I would have plenty of fabric to work with and decided to turn it into a dress. 
The design process was super easy, I just removed a section of the skirt, while making sure to leave enough fabric to sill fit my waist for the skirt, and then turned the removed section into the bodice and straps. I filmed the whole design/thrift flip process so if you want to see how I did it or try a project like this for yourself, you can check it out on my YouTube & watch below:


Have you ever Thrift Flipped something?

- Madison

3 Days In London: What to Do, See, & Eat

Thursday, July 23, 2020


 

I had always dreampt of visiting England, and specifically visiting London and it did not disappoint (read my post "Love Letter to London"). While our time in London was short, we did manage to see a lot of places and get a good taste of all that London has to offer the "anglophile" traveler. 
Day 1: 
Day 1 in London consisted of us taking a bus from Oxford to London. The bust ride was about and 1.5 hours....but it was the worst 1.5 hours of my life because I very unluckily was nauseous the entire time (not a fun way to start off a day of travel). 
We had tickets to Kensington Palace that we had bought the night before, so we had a specific time slot for entrance. Because we had luggage with us and were not checking into our air bnb until later in the day, we used "Nanny Bag" to store our luggage. I had previously used "Nanny Bag" when I was in Paris, but in London we had some issues finding the location, but were thankfully able to find another place around the corner, just in time to get to Kensington. 
It also happened to be a very rainy day in London, which kind of put a damper in our plans to explore Hyde Park more in depth. However, we were able to walk to Kensington in plenty of time, grab Lattes and Scones to recharge (we seriously lived on lattes and scones in England) before we started exploring Kensington. 

Kensington Palace: This was definitely high up on my list of places to visit because I ADORE Queen Victoria (I was kind of obsessed with her in high school), so seeing where she grew up was pretty amazing, not to mention that many other royals have lived there throughout the years. 
Tea At The Palace - There is a lovely tea room at Kensington that we were planning to have lunch at, but they were closing early for a private event, so sadly we didn't get to have tea. Since we were famished and didn't get to have tea, we stopped off at Pret a Manger a block or so from Kensinton to grab sandwiches before we picked up our luggage. 
Transportation - After we picked up our luggage we opted to take an Uber to our air bnb instead of maneuvering the trains with suitcases. 
Groceries - after we checked into our Airbnb (see my post: How to Book an Airbnb) we walked to the Sainsbury grocery store a block from our apartment to grab food for meals. I made sure to book an Airbnb with a kitchen so we could save money by cooking a few meals. Sainsbury's is my favorite grocery store in the UK....if you are ever there you have to get their mini boxed chocolate cake...seriously sooooo good (checkout my Travel Vlog to see what I am talking about) 

Would have Added - British museum

Day 2:
Our second day in London was definitely packed! We had a good idea of the places we wanted to visit on day two, but we figured out our official schedule and plan the night before. 

Tower of London - An iconically historic tourist destination, but a foundation to British history nonetheless. The Tower of London is an incredible place to visit because it holds so many unique stories about British history, royal espionage, famous prisoners, etc. The crown jewels are also housed at the Tower.
Tower Bridge - Just across from the Tower of London is the Tower Bridge (often mistaken as the London Bridge)....this is the bridge that everyone takes pictures on (#instagram spot). There are walkways on either side of the bridge so you can walk across to get a view of the city as well as snap a few pictures. 
Sky Garden (tickets online) - This was a cool place we found when researching places to visit in London. Sky Garden is essentially an indoor garden at the top of a sky scraper, there are tons of plants along with multiple bars and a restaurant. It is a great place to take pictures and also to get a view of the city. Sky Garden is free to visit, but you do have to sign up for a ticket slot online. 
Covent Garden - An iconic shopping destination, Covent Garden is fun to wander around. This is where you will find street vendors, pastry shops, along with all of your designer store fronts....this is where you want to shop (or window shop)
London Eye viewing - If you want to get a good view of the London Eye, it is just a short walk from Covent Garden. The London eye is actually across the water from where we viewed it, but it was a great spot to take pictures of it along the river. You can book tickets to ride on the London Eye and get a view of the city, but the tickets are expensive and  I have always heard that it is overrated. 

Day 3:
This was our last day in London and we wanted to fit as much in as possible! Day 3 was definitely heavily focused on food and cool cafes/bakeries. Additionally, we spent a lot of time on the underground going back and forth around the city. London't underground is a great transportation system and something that we LOVED about it (compared to places like NY) is that once you hit $7 of fair you get to ride free for the rest of the day, so we definitely took advantage of this our last day! 

ELAN - ELAN is one of the cafes that will come up if you research instagrammable spots to eat in London :) We definitely chose to go there specifically for that reason. Something to keep in mind is that there are different ELAN locations in London and each looks different inside...we went to the one that had the hearts on the wall (it was the Hans Cres, Knightsbridge location)  
Victoria and Albert Museum - Fun fact...all the museums in London are FREE!! Some of the museums have specific exhibits that you have to pay for, and many of them have a place for donations, but you don't have to pay an entry fee. The V&A museum is the world largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design, while also having sculptures and many unique objects on display (they even have Beatrix Potter illustrations). They also have a wonderful permanent fashion exhibit that goes through styles throughout history and I really enjoyed it. 
Buckingham Palace - Buckingham Palace is one of the places you absolutely HAVE TO VISIT while in London! We quickly stopped by the palace to peak through the gates and get a few pictures before heading to our next stop. We didn't go at a time where there was a changing of the guards, so if you want to see that you would have to look up the times that happens. 
Sketch / Egg Pods - One of the most #instagrammed spots in London (in my opinion)!! Sketch is a multifaceted restaurant with different types of dining including a bar/lounge, tearoom, and dinning room....however, it is well known for it's famous bathrooms known as the "Egg Pods" because they are quite literally eggs that have toilets. 
We mainly went to Sketch because we wanted to see the bathrooms and take pictures of them, but you have to dine at one of their restaurants to gain access....we didn't really have a plan for how to get in (surprisingly) because we didn't want to pay 50 pounds per person at the Gallery (the pink tearoom) so we basically just told the hostess at the door that we wanted to take pictures in the bathroom (he wasn't even fazed) and he told us that we had to dine in to do that...all the dinning rooms require reservations (which we didn't have) but thankfully he was super kind and gave us a table in the lounge/bar where we ordered tea and juice (and were hard core judged)
Peggy Porchen - This is another one of the very Instagram worthy spots in London! It's a bit of a walk to get there at the closest underground station is a good five or so blocks away, but it's definitely worth it! Peggy Porchen is known for their baked goods, pastel colors, and season door decorations (which everyone takes pictures in front of). You will probably have to wait in line to order, but they do have seating outside. 
Westminister Abbey / Parliament Buildings - You can't be in London and not make a stop to see Westminister Abbey and the Parliament Buildings (whose architecture is so beautiful). This is also where Big Ben (the iconic clock tower is), but it was sadly under construction and covered in scaffolding. 

Would have added - Harry Potter Platform

I can't wait until I get to be in London again! There is definitely so much to see and do, everything from British History to Instagrammable Places. I was actually supposed to be in London for two days this summer back in June, but sadly that trip had to be rescheduled to next summer in 2021 (fingers crossed it works out). 

If you haven't seen my England travel vlog, you can check it out on YouTube and see everything we did in Oxford and London! 


Have you been to London? What was your favorite place to see?

- Madison