Interview With Lara Segrest

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This month is Down syndrome awareness month. In honor of that, we decided our post my interview with Lara Segrest today.  Lara has been my friend for the past seven years, and I have watched her family grow and expand during that time.  During the interview, I talk to Lara about her family, what it was like to get a Down syndrome diagnosis during pregnancy, preparation for their son John Issac, and what life has been like after his birth.

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My hope and prayer is that this conversation brings some awareness to Down syndrome (I know I learned something new) and brings some help to someone in a similar situation.  As you can see from the pictures, John Issac is a beautiful, thriving little boy.  I hope you learn as much from our conversation as I did.  Fair warning: you may cry a little.

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~ Laura

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Interview with Samantha Nelson

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Today we bring you another conversation with a woman who has an inspirational story.  Samantha Nelson was my boss around four years ago.  Since that time, she has been a stay at home mom, photographer, and travel blogger.  Her blog thosecrazynelsons.com features blog posts and tips on traveling.  She has a lot of great information about traveling with a family.  Her pictures are beautiful, and so is her heart.  I have loved following her journey online, and I thought it was a story worth telling.  Please listen to the link below to hear about the courage it took to follow her passions, advice she would give to anyone who is wanting to step out on faith and follow their dreams, what it was like to travel as a family for a year, and advice she would give families looking to travel more.

I hope you leave feeling a little uplifted on this Tuesday!

Also follow Samantha on Instagram @mrs_samanthanelson to get more travel tips and look at her gorgeous pictures.

~ Laura

Interview with Ashley Gilbreath

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Several years ago, before I called a two bedroom New York City apartment home, I was a new home owner searching Pinterest for decorating ideas. Mission, to find the perfect white paint color. At the time I was living in a little house in downtown Franklin Tennessee with my husband and new baby. I stumbled upon the Pinterest account for Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design. Ashley was in the process of renovating a Spanish inspired bungalow in my hometown of Montgomery Alabama. In those early days of motherhood and home-ownership I would check a handful of blogs daily. I scrolled over to Parish Blog in hopes of an update on her renovation. Ashley and her husband set out on the task of tearing this house down to the studs and putting it back together in thirty days. Not only was it fun to watch the house get torn down and put back together, it inspired me for my own little house. I chose the white color, Dove White by Benjamin Moore, based on what Ashley had chosen. I would go on to paint our next home a color from Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design’s sheet of favorite whites, French Canvas by Benjamin Moore. As you can tell, I am a little obsessed with Ashley’s design style and Ashley herself.

When I heard Ashley was working on a pilot for HGTV, Sweet Home Renovation, I couldn’t help but reach out and see if she would chat. I originally intended to record an interview with her and transcribe it to a written form, but after interviewing her over the phone I found Ashley’s energy translates so well I decided to share this interview in audio. I am excited to share this with you and I hope you draw as much encouragement from it as I did. When we re-launched Sister Babble we wanted to share stories that inspire you to dream, well I think this story does just that. With a successful design business, shop, and HGTV show opportunity, Ashley is doing it all. As you will hear in the recording, Ashley is just lovely and I think we can all draw something from the faith she has and the grace in which she carries herself.

The pilot re-airs TODAY  (9/11 at 12pm Central (1pm Eastern) Sweet Home Renovation on HGTV.

Click on the link below!

xoxo, Lindsey

 

Breezin’ around Greece, Part II

Breezin’ around Greece, Part II

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May 29: Corfu, Greece

We decided to explore Corfu on our own without the assistance of the cruise ship. We took an open-air, hop-on hop-off bus in and around the charming town, most famously known as the birthplace of Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Duke Philip of Edinburgh. We enjoyed exploring the different shops and restaurants in the area. Crammed between a row of touristy souvenir shops, I found a diamond in the rough called Adriana’s Workshop. It was a tiny storefront where a woman named Adriana sold her handmade knitted goods. I bought a cute knitted layering tank for myself, and a versatile and stylish infinity shawl for my mom. It was so nice finding a place that sold authentic handmade goods to bring home to family!

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May 30: Athens, Greece

When you think of Greece, you immediately think of Athens. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone, but history buffs fascinated by the Acropolis will enjoy it the most. The fact that the Parthenon was built by hand before modern machinery and is still standing thousands of years later (despite the explosion in the 1700s due to the Turks storing ammunitions there), is astonishing. Not to mention the views are truly breathtaking as you look down upon the expansive city of Athens. We then explored Plaka, a commercial area with local shops and delicious eateries. Our favorite meal there was at Tylixto Greekwrap, a gyro stand with spinning spits full of juicy meats ready for the taking. The pita bread was clearly homemade and all of the ingredients were light and fresh. Our gyros were so good, we had to get seconds!

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May 31: Mykonos, Greece

Between the whitewashed buildings and the blue roofs complemented by the blue of the sea, Mykonos is a truly magical place. It was originally a fishing village that has evolved into one of the world’s greatest resort hideaways, filled with boutiques ranging from Chanel to Louis Vuitton and million-dollar beachside villas. We channeled our inner redneck and rented a 4-wheeler which we rode around the island for hours. Our first stop was atop a big hill where we found an old lighthouse with views that are to die for. We then meandered back down the mountainside, discovering amazing cliffsides overlooking gorgeous beaches (some of which we discovered were NUDE beaches, but that’s neither here nor there). where we ate a fantastic lunch at a roadside eatery called Oregano Cafe which was made even better by an inexpensive price tag. From the hummus and baba ghanoush to gyros and big platters of Mediterranean specialties, it was easily the most memorable meal we had on our vacation. We dropped off our 4-wheeler and walked through the town and discovered the famous pink pelican who roams the town and is easily the size of a small pony.

June 1: Argostoli, Greece

Similar to Mykonos, Argostoli is a beautiful beachside village with lots of places to relax by the sea. We decided to visit a beach that had a full-service restaurant and bar with chairside service and just read and chill on the beach. It was a great way to start winding down from our big trip.

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June 2: At Sea

The last day of the cruise was spent cruising all day with no ports of call. On this day, we spent the morning relaxing by the pool. That afternoon, Justin rested while I visited the ship’s spa for a deep tissue massage. It was so relaxing and wonderful after an active trip. We ate dinner at the ship’s sushi restaurant that evening and it was delicious.

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June 3: Back in Venice, Flying back to USA

We arrived back in Venice early in the morning on Saturday, June 3rd. We sulked off the ship and made our way to the airport, wishing we didn’t have to get back to the grind the following Monday morning. We flew home, stopping in Montreal and later landing at Dulles.

Our cruise from Venice to visit the Greek Isles was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We thoroughly enjoyed learning so much about Greece and its culture, and we especially loved our “mobile hotel room” aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas. It was a great way to see a variety of different people and places without the stress of unpacking, repacking, riding on a bus, and changing hotel rooms day after day. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we’re already looking into future cruises around Europe for next year! Until then, I hope you enjoyed reading about our European vacation!

Have you ever taken a cruise? Are you considering cruising with the family? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Breezin’ around Greece, Part I

Breezin’ around Greece, Part I

We are really excited to have a guest post today from Liz Laurie Bogie. Liz has been a friend for many years now. I think I was initially drawn to her as a friend for her adventurous spirit. Liz is a Southern girl residing in our nation’s capital. When she is not running public relations for several Washington D.C. restaurants she is spending time with her husband Justin and their two adorable dogs Scout and Maggie. You can follow Liz’s cooking adventures and gift for humor on social media @cookinwithbreeza. She and her husband spent last Fall living between New York and D.C. and were always exploring a new area of Manhattan or trying a new restaurant. They are foodies and overall great people. Liz began documenting their Whole 30 experience on her social media accounts @cookinwithbreeza. Her videos would have my husband and me in fits of laughter. Breeza (Liz) and Monk (Justin) are a dynamic duo in the kitchen. Breeza brings fun and laughter to the kitchen, while Monk brings the can do spirit and knife skills. Follow along with their journey to eating healthy, traveling, perfect meal executions and a couple mishaps, and maybe a few “breeza don’t do’s” from Monk. With all of that said we are turning the blog over to Liz as she takes us Breezin’ around Greece.

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It can be a daunting task to find time to take a vacation. On top of that, the time, effort, and expense of planning said vacation is a full-time job in itself! Thankfully, whether you’re traveling with the kids or if you’re looking for some one-on-one time with your significant other, there are some affordable, easy options to take the trip of a lifetime.

Living and working in the cutthroat city of Washington, DC like us can be exhausting. I am the communications director for a restaurant group in the city, while my husband Justin works for a think tank, analyzing federal policies pertaining to the budget. While we aren’t parents yet (unless you count our two dogs as children), we still look forward to our time together, exploring the world and strengthening our marriage as we cut off our work emails and focus on each other.

It was the Saturday evening before the Super Bowl, and we were dreaming of warm weather and going somewhere new. Justin started Googling different vacation options, and we stumbled upon a Royal Caribbean cruise around the Greek Isles which set sail from Venice on Memorial Day Weekend. I had never been to Europe and have always loved the idea of visiting Greece. We had taken a Hawaiian cruise through Norwegian Cruise Line during the summer of 2016, and we loved the convenience of exploring different cities and islands without having to unpack, repack, get on a bus/boat/plane, then unpacking in a new hotel each day. Instead, our hotel room moved with us, allowing us to enjoy stress-free travel in new locations each day.

The cruise line was offering a special that weekend: when you bought one traveler’s cruise ticket, the second traveler’s ticket was 60 percent off. On top of that, flights from Dulles to Venice were only $500 round-trip per person. The vacation seemed too good to pass up, so we booked our tickets that night. For the next three months, we tirelessly researched each port of call, learning about each city we’d be visiting and booking excursions through the cruise line. Before we knew it, our anxiously-awaited getaway was upon us.

May 25-27: VENICE

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We flew from Washington-Dulles to Frankfurt, Germany, then from Frankfurt on to Venice, Italy. We spent two days in Venice before the cruise and rented an Airbnb near the Ca D’Oro water bus stop near the center of the historic city. We walked over the Rialto bridge and watched people taking romantic gondola rides down the canal. We visited St. Mark’s Square, seeing the clock tower and visiting the gorgeous St. Mark’s Basilica. The Doge’s Palace was located nearby, so we toured it as well.  One of my favorite things we did in Venice was visiting the island of Murano, a haven for world-renowned glass blowers who will gladly demonstrate how glass is made (for a few Euro). On Saturday morning, we checked out of our Airbnb and made our way to the cruise terminal where we boarded our ship, The Rhapsody of the Seas, and set sail that evening. The views of the city from the ship were awe-inspiring, and it was a wonderful scene that set the tone for the rest of our trip.

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While the history, art, and charm of Venice was truly magical, there are a few things to know before you go. I had no idea how difficult it is to navigate throughout the city. There are no cars or roads in the city, and to get around you either have to walk (and get lost a few times, which is half the fun), or you have to figure out the city’s water bus system. You can always take a water taxi, but they are very pricy- to get from the Venice airport to the main island, a water taxi will run you over 100 Euro! The canal weaves in and around the city, so there are foot bridges with stairs everywhere. To get to and from our Airbnb rental, we had to go over several foot bridges with our carry-ons and 50-lb suitcases in tow, which was tiring and annoying for a dumb American like me. In addition to the navigation difficulties, Venice is FILLED with tourists from all over the world. If you want to see the true city, it’s important to get up and out early in the day, before the streets and squares get too packed. We found that some of the most beautiful and charming parts of the city were off the beaten path, that we simply stumbled upon as we aimlessly wandered around town. So make time to get lost, find your favorite cafe’, and get to know the welcoming locals. You’ll be so glad you did. One final note- we bought the Venice CityPass. This was a mistake and a rip-off so do not buy it.

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May 27: First Night on the Rhapsody of the Seas

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Our cruise was aboard Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas, a medium-sized ship with endless options for food, drink, relaxation, and fun. Passengers were all ages from all over the world, from families with small children to retirees enjoying their golden years. Our room was an oceanview room with one king bed that can be converted into two twin beds if needed, along with a couch, vanity, closet, and restroom. Additionally, many rooms include bunk-type beds that fold down over the bed(s) on the ground. This would make for a cozy, affordable space for a family of four. We ate dinner at Giovanni’s Table, one of the ship’s specialty restaurants that you can enjoy for a small additional fee. The food was amazing and the service was impeccable. If you’re bringing the kids, you and your significant other can enjoy a fine dining experience while sending the kids to the nightly kids’ camps, where kids can enjoy games, arts and crafts, and more with kids their age under full supervision from cruise staff. After dinner, you can enjoy drinks at any of the numerous bars on the ship, try your luck in the casino, head to the nightly shows in the Broadway Theatre, or walk out on one of the decks to enjoy the ocean breeze.

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May 28: Kotor, Montenegro

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Our first port of call was Kotor, Montenegro. We were blown away by the beauty of the mountains and the quiet, relaxing beach we visited. This was Justin’s birthday, so we went on the Blue Cave Speed Boat Adventure that took us on an hour-long boat ride to the incredible Blue Cave. The views of the Montenegran mountainside were breathtaking, with the shoreline peppered with everything from quaint vacation homes to expansive resorts. Similar to the Blue Grotto in Capri, the Blue Cave has the clearest, bluest water you’ve ever seen. The speed boat pulled into the Blue Cave where we proceeded to jump straight into the sapphire-blue and ICE-COLD water. It was one of the most invigorating experiences I’ve ever had. The boat then took us to a beach outside Montenegro, where we sunbathed and relaxed for a few hours before heading back to the ship. While we’re accustomed to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico that have smooth, white sand, this beach was made of large pebbles. It was unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Be sure to wear Chacos or other durable sandals if you visit a beach like this- walking on the rocks in bare feet can hurt! After relaxing for a while, the speed boat returned us to the ship where we boarded and set sail towards Corfu, Greece.

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Come back Thursday as Breeza arrives in Greece!!!

xoxo, Lindsey

Interview With “Invited” Author Christen Price

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Lindsey and I mentioned that we wanted to start using our blog as a platform to share the stories of other women.  I am so excited to share with you today a special book and author!

I met Christen years ago when I was volunteering in Montgomery with the American Cancer Society.  Since that time, Christen has become an author.  She has also moved to Dothan, taken on numerous important jobs and become a mother of three children.  I have followed her journey through social media.  I decided this past month to read her book, “Invited” that she published this year.  This book came into my life at the perfect time.  It was a reminder for me that all women struggle with perfection and we don’t have to.  We can rely on God to use us to make real connections with people even when we don’t feel perfect (or have a messy house/life).

Christen was kind enough to answer some questions I wanted to ask her so that our readers could learn more about her book and her journey.  I cannot recommend this book enough for all women! You can find a link to the book and her site at the end of this post.  But first, here’s Christen:

Christen Price Bio PictureFirst of all, can you tell our readers a little bit about “Invited” and how you decided to write it?

In Invited, I weave together personal stories with a practical party planning handbook as I share about my own struggle with perfection when I moved home and began to build community. My desire for perfection caused me to experience anxiety and meltdown when parties (and life!) didn’t always go as planned.

This book is written for women who like me, want everything to be perfect, but don’t always know how to stop breaking down when life doesn’t go according to plan. With kindness and Biblical truth, Invited helps women to overcome the hurdles of perfection by finding balance, wholeness, and completeness in Christ.

 
In the book you mention a study that says that 74 percent of young women feel the pressure to be perfect.  I think this is something we can all relate to.  Why do you feel like we put this pressure on ourselves?  
 

I’ve discovered that many goal-oriented women who like to plan battle perfectionism. It doesn’t matter if we are planning a birthday party, who we will marry, or working toward our dream job – women want to achieve perfection because we want the best for ourselves, our people, and our futures. Perfection is passion, an ideal that makes us feel so strongly about the matters of the heart that we act in ways that make us later feel shame and unworthiness, like we will never quite measure up.

In Scripture, perfection is defined as wholeness, completeness, and beauty. When young women give their expectations to God and realize that perfection is only found in Christ, we are less disappointed, discontent, and depressed. God is perfect, so we don’t have to be. By releasing our anxieties to Him, we find beauty in our imperfections and accept His invitation of love, grace, and mercy.

 
Have you heard from other women after writing this book that struggle with perfectionism as well?
 
Yes, their stories have been so impactful to me! Many of the women who I’ve heard from have felt freedom from perfectionism and have been living by the mantra “connection, not perfection.” I think this idea of building relationships instead of having everything just right makes opening ourselves up to others and celebrating life so much easier.
Connection is about relationships and being linked with someone else. Our greatest fear is disconnection which causes us to strive for perfection in hopes that people will like us.  Yet perfection usually has the opposite effect and gives the impression that we are better than others. The antidote to perfection is when we can see beauty in the imperfection. When we focus on building relationships through connection, not perfection, we are able to more fully celebrate with our people.
 
Connection is such an important thing, and reading your book has inspired me to have more people in my home (even when it doesn’t feel perfect).  What would you say to someone who feels inadequate at hosting or thinks hospitality is not their gift?
 

We are often afraid to open our homes to others because we think our homes aren’t decorated nice enough or we are too busy to prepare our house for entertaining. Here’s my advice: don’t let perfection cause you to miss out on inviting friends into your home. Even if your home doesn’t look Pinterest-perfect, find a spot that makes you feel comfortable to entertain in like your kitchen or your back porch. Add some flowers and candles to make the space feel casual and inviting. Or, if you are too busy to entertain at home, invite a friend to meet you at a local restaurant. Pick a spot that has a unique menu or atmosphere and enjoy having a night out with a friend. One of the many benefits of practicing hospitality is happiness. The hostesses who enjoy entertaining the most are the ones who can let go of their worries and enjoy the party with their guests.

 
Reading about your experience with your daughters in the NICU really hit home for me.  I also had a NICU baby and felt the shame, confusion and questioning you talk about in the book.  Can you tell us about how you overcame shame and learned to dwell in God’s presence?
 
Having premature babies was not anything I could ever plan for or expected to happen during my pregnancy with the girls. So, when they were born early, I realized that there was literally nothing I could do about the situation except pray and show up. I couldn’t hold them, but I could love them and know that God was holding them during those critical first days of life. What helped me overcome shame was actually having a season of mourning. I had experienced a loss of carrying my twins the final weeks of pregnancy and I had to work out those feelings in order to move through that pain. One of the things that helped me dwell in God’s presence during that season of heartache was to listen to worship music, journal, and go on long, slow walks. I had to ask God for His help constantly, and He provided me comfort through the encouragement of loved ones and the promises that there was always light through the darkness.
Lastly, the cover of your book is so beautiful! I loved looking at it, and I plan on making the whipped cream pound cake for my next hosting gig.  What is one of your best tips for being a good hostess?
 
The whipped cream pound cake is delicious! It is my husband’s grandmother’s recipe and we made it together for the cover.  One of my favorite terms in the book is to be a hallelujah hostess. The term “hallelujah” means a shout of joy, praise, or gratitude. A “hallelujah hostess” practices hospitality by recognizing that her service is to God and not her own vanity. She not only celebrates her friends, but loves strangers. She gives gifts to those who will never repay her and offers her time, money, and her home to people in ministry. She is not just entertaining on a surface level, she is extending grace on a soul level.
Christen put it beautifully!  This book was such a good reminder for me to be selfless and seek connection instead of focusing on my perfection.  I loved that her book also contains some party planning tips, as well as recipes that go with certain life events.  Yes, I did already make the cake from the cover of the book, and it is as good as it looks!  That recipe and many more are included in the book, and I plan on making it again.
You can find Christen’s book on Amazon by clicking on this link: Invited by Christen Price.
Christen also has supplemental material you can buy on Amazon to help you dive deeper.  You can also follow her journey, as well as a continuation of the “Invited” story, at christenprice.com.  She has some great video chats with other women about things in the book.
Thank you again Christen for sharing your book and journey with us!  I hope this helps other people who struggle with the same anxiety!
~ Laura

Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and Fish

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I was so excited to receive an invitation to last week’s opening of Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and Fish in Huntsville.  I invited my husband to join me, because we have frankly been craving hot chicken since our last trip to Nashville.  Well, now Huntsville residents can also get hot chicken whenever they want it!

Chef Shawn “Big Shake” Davis has been in the food industry for years.  He was also on 2011’s “Shark Tank” on ABC.  He originally opened Big Shake’s in Franklin, TN.  It has won Franklin’s Sizzle award for best hot chicken in 2016 and 2017.  Let me tell you, the food did not disappoint!

I tried the “cry baby” hot chicken, original fish, pinto beans and macaroni and cheese.

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My husband had the original chicken, as well as the cry baby chicken, turnip greens, and pinto beans.

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Everything was so tasty!  If you like a little spice, you will love Big Shake’s hot chicken.  However, if you are not a fan of “hot” food, the original fish and chicken were still amazing.  In fact, the original fish was probably my favorite.  All of our sides hit the spot, but I am craving the pinto beans as I write this post!  This is coming from a girl who wouldn’t consider herself a pinto beans person.  These are not your typical pinto beans or turnip greens.  They have just the right blend of spices that gives them both a little heat and tons of flavor!

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I also enjoyed getting to meet the Chef himself and hear a little bit about how they chose Huntsville as a location.  He told us at the ribbon cutting that they had fallen in love with this area and knew you could not find this kind of food in Huntsville.  Luckily for us Huntsville natives, Big Shake’s is located off of Martin road right off of 565.  It’s an easy drive from the arsenal (as my husband can attest) and near the interstate.  It’s also not too far for those passing Huntsville on I65.

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I, for one, am so glad I now have a yummy hot chicken place to visit locally.  My husband completely agreed that we would be visiting again soon.  Things that I plan on trying in the future: the chicken and waffles, the famous shrimp burger (that was featured on Shark Tank) and fried oreos (yes!).  Chef Shawn Davis and his wife Robin could not have been nicer.  Thank you for bringing your business to the Rocket City!

You can find Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and Fish at:

671 Martin Road SW Huntsville, AL

~ Laura

Friday Night Outing

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I often get asked questions about our life in the city.

“How do you get around with three kids?”

“Where do you buy groceries?”

“Do you have a car?”

“How big is your apartment?”

I used to think people were being nosy. I have come to realize people are not nosy at all, they are only curious. New York City brings a pace and lifestyle most Americans are unaccustomed to. We mostly walk everywhere or take public transportation, we live in a small 2 bedroom apartment, and my double stroller is the only way I can manage to get around with all the kids! For some it may sound crazy that we pay the kind of rent we do to live this life. Believe me, I have days I think why are we here, but most days I remember the amazing work opportunity my husband has and the experience of city life we are giving our family. Recently I feel like I have been waking around with a crush on the city. Everything she does right makes me swoon and even her most annoying traits I excuse by her charm.

Last Friday night I documented our evening around our neighborhood. Hope you enjoy!

xoxo, Lindsey

 

The Perfect Picnic

The Perfect Picnic

IMG_9074Lately we have been packing up and going on picnic at least three times a week. Picnics have become a winner in our family. First, they are budget friendly! Picnics are a great way to feel out and about with out spending a small fortune on brunch or lunch around our house. Second, It’s great for kids. We have recently had a few restaurant melt-downs with our kids when the meal has either taken too long or they just got tired of being contained. So, we have been heading to that park a lot lately with meal in tow. Ben and I end up sitting and able to visit while George runs around and Sport does his thing.

When we went to Europe a few years back we had the most amazing picnic experience. At the advice of Rick Steves book we took a stroll through the market Rue Cler. We wondered through the market getting cheese, meats, chocolate, and a bottle of wine. Next he recommended going to a park in the city and making a picnic. We chose to sit on a bench in front of the Eiffel Tower. We had some amazing meals in Paris, but one of our favorites was the lunch we had in front of the Eiffel Tower.

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When Ben’s parents recently visited, we could not think of a better way to show them Central Park then a picnic in front of the Jackie Kennedy Reservoir.

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We typically just pack up  peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but in an effort to be healthier we have been doing caprese sliders.

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All I did was toast the slider buns with a little bit of olive oil and salt. Then layer thinly sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella, and a piece of basil. Very simple and really good!

How do you like to picnic?

xoxo, Lindsey

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