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

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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

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

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Here we are again with another list of “Friday Favorites.” Life has been crazy lately. Between the arrival of a new baby and adjusting to life as a mother of two, things have been wild. I decided this week that I was going to sit back and enjoy this time. My house and my hair may always be a mess but I am busy loving on my sweet babies and there is nothing more important!

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So onto Friday Favorites….. here are the things Laura and I are loving this week!

The Paper Source Holiday Wrap

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The Paper Source Holiday Wrap has been a staple under our Christmas tree for three years now. When we lived in Nashville I frequented their store in Green Hills. While this paper is a little bit of a splurge, it is the perfect addition to our Christmas tree. The paper is thick and wraps up so well! I loved going into the store because they would help you coordinate the papers and bows! Since we have moved recently, I was relieved that their paper goods are available online!

Paul Ryan

Only on occasion will we get political on the blog. Considering all of the controversy coming out of Donald Trump this week, I was glad to see a conservative willing to put him in his place. And let’s just say Paul Ryan’s beard is a nice new accessory!

Married at First Sight: Season 3

Last year my mother and sister hooked me onto this show. It is a very interesting social experiment where experts match three couples to marry based on their compatibility. The third season started last week. If you are looking for an interesting new show to watch, you should give this a try!

Plum Paper Designs

After a friend recommended this custom planner I ordered one from Plum Paper Designs Etsy shop. Being a busy mom, it is essential I stay organized!  I have found this planner to be super adaptable for my family and our organizational needs. Shipping was quick! After falling in love with this planner, I ordered a few as gifts for family members. This is the perfect Christmas gift to give your “planning family member” to use as we enter the new year!

Here is what we are talking about this week! What’s been on your mind? Tell us what you are loving!

~ xoxo, Laura & Lindsey

The House on Park, The Living Room

The House on Park, The Living Room

Park House Living Room
We are movers. Over the last 5 years we have moved 4 cities and at least 6 houses. Most of our moves have been for my husband’s career. Moving can be tough, but it is a sacrifice that has greatly benefited our family and my husband’s growing career. Our moves are part of the reason we found the name “Stroll Through The South” so appropriate. We have been on a journey through several cities in the southeastern part of the United States. For my husband and me moving has been the driver of our personal growth. It has made us more adventurous, caused us to learn how to meet new people and make friends, and how to rely on each other with no family around.

Our latest move has returned us to the city where we both grew up. One of the biggest decisions you will make in a move is where you want to live once you arrive. Knowing that we would be here for a while we decided to buy a house. After looking and searching for a couple months we settled on a 1930’s bungalow in a historic area of town. While we really did try to convince ourselves that we wanted the newer construction, move in ready home, something about the character of older houses speaks to our soul. It’s the high ceilings, crown molding, hardwood floors, large windows, established trees… charm just does it for us. Also the community around our house was a big appeal. There is nothing I love more then walking out my front door and pushing our stroller to local restaurants, coffee shops, book stores, and boutiques within walking distance of our house. So onto our newest “fixer upper.” The house on Park Ave.

My first project has been decorating our living room. While other parts of our house needed larger scale work, this room only needed new wall paint and furnishings. We started by painting the walls French Canvas by Benjamin Moore.

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The rug has made the last few moves with us. I like to call it “vintage Bell,”aka it is a hand-me-down from my parents. When we were looking at our house to buy it, I first fell in love with the marble fireplace. With that said, I felt to keep the fireplace in its correct position in the room it had to be surrounded with the right furnishings that complemented its fabulousness. Wing back chairs bring classic look to a room. They were a perfect addition to flank each side of our fire place. I found this set at a local flea market and simply had them recovered. The fabric is from Ballard Designs. The mirror came from my favorite online antique shop, Nichole Maleine French Antiques. The owner is a fabulous antique dealer who imports great antiques from Europe. Check him out! He ships all over the country!

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The TV cabinet came from Ballard Designs. We are going through a slight Mickey Mouse and Thomas the Train obsession. Having a small child, it was really important to me to be able to close of the TV.  I picked up the thatched chairs a few years back at a consignment sale!

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So before you think I am crazy to have a white couch with a two year old, let me explain! We looked and looked for the right couch for our family. We finally settled on this slip covered couch. Yes the couch is white, but the best part about slipcover is being about to take it off and wash it. Not to mention because it is white you can bleach it! Any couch in our house is bound to get stuff on it from time to time; being able to wash it has been amazing! The coffee table is from One Kings Lane and the end tables are from the The Fabric House Nashville.

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Lastly, we bought the oversized chair a little over a year ago from Home Decorators Collection. My husband would have preferred a recliner but I finally convinced him an oversized chair would go better with our look. Ladies, you know how that goes!  We started to look at larger chairs but most of what we saw in our price range was just not the look I wanted. This chair has become a favorite in our house!

So here is the living room so far. My next big project is finding curtains for the room. What is your favorite low cost curtain, with a high end look?

xoxo~ Lindsey


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