My Notting Hill | Fabrique on Portobello Road

I got a chance to spend the morning in Notting Hill this week. It had been a while since I'd been there and even longer since I saw my friend, Amber. We met up for a quick breakfast in those precious hours when children's school hours align and it was perfect.

Notting Hill turned up the charm with bright sunshine and its sidewalk's endless catwalk of well-heeled residents. People chatted over posh breakfasts on cafe tables in the sun, walked tiny dogs while chatting on their cell-phones, tucked small present-like parcels of food into shopping bags and just embraced all the pretty yuppie stereotypes one might have for this London neighbourhood.

Now that we are gone from Notting Hill, I'm relying on Amber to keep me up to speed with what is new there. And luckily, she didn't let me down. She trailed me along Portobello Road to the tiny cafe, Fabrique.

This bakery/cafe offers fresh baked loaves of bread and various sweet offerings... but don't get distracted by the offerings and get their cinnamon roll.

Not the vanilla-sugar dusted one. The standard. I thought I knew better and ordered the vanilla, but Amber ordered the original "just so I could try it, too." After all, that's what friends are for, right?

Initially- I thought the space was cute but that these famed cinnamon buns looked dry. The good news: after a few nibbles in, I realised what a moist little treat it was! (Also- apologies to everyone who hates the word "moist." I do, too, but couldn't find a suitable alternate when describing this. Ha!)

The lattes are good, but having them served in a crystal tumbler makes them taste even better. Don't fight that truth, it's science.

Hit up Fabrique when you head to Notting Hill. Its placement on Portobello Road makes it an easy stop on your visit to the Saturday market.

Fabrique12 Portobello Road, London, W11 1LA

Headed to Notting Hill? Find all my favorites here in my travel guide or search #aspiringlondon on Instagram.

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on October 19, 2016 and filed under notting hill, london, eat, drink, life, friends.

My London | Falling for St. James

I'm not sure what it is about fall in England, but it just feels so homey and .... mine. Maybe it's because it's a city that is shared it hoards of tourist for so much of the year, that these quiet months in between make it feel like you have it all to yourself.

Or maybe it's because we first moved to England at this time of year, and it all feels so nostalgic and sweet.

Whatever it is... I love it. I love the coats. I love the long dinners in pubs. I love the mugs of hot tea that suddenly feel imperative throughout the day. I love it!

On Saturday, we left Parliament where our group was touring and headed home via St James Park. After realising we hadn't had lunch yet, we grabbed a couple of sandwiches and bags of chips/crisps from the snack stand and headed to have an impromptu picnic.

We rented two of the iconic green & white striped chairs (for the first time ever, actually!) and had an hour of just enjoying the break together. To our surprise, the chairs were really inexpensive to rent- only £1.60 an hour. Worth every penny!


With Hyde Park and Regents Park being so BIG, I often forget what great spots St James and Green Park are. Both are the perfect little retreats for a quick break on a busy day in the city.


But the best part of the day was definitely when I was looking back through my phone of the pictures we took. Apparently, monkey see, monkey do! Viola & Harrison are taking the Knight kissing pics to the next level. Ha!


Find all my favourite places in London in my travel guide here.

And if you want to dress for fall like a Brit, here are some pieces that work for cosy days wandering in small villages or a crisp mornings shopping in South Kensington : 

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy


Posted on October 16, 2016 and filed under london, kids, life, england.

A Quick Getaway to... 2011

I started my blog in 2010 when I was working in Dallas, and my friends pulled me into this weird/new/online world of blogging- but it wasn't until we moved to Oxford that my blog shifted into the style and feel of what it is today.

When we lived there, I would write (with fresher eyes than I have today) about all the cute and quirky things that we were experiencing together. We lived on a shoestring budget, so everything from booking the cheapest tickets RyanAir could offer (even if we didn't know where that destination was without googling it!) to shopping in "old" produce sections of the market stalls for dinner was a daily adventure.

And while I think that was what gave me something to talk about it- the real fun of our first years here was because of Oxford. While life would seem very normal at times, we would also find ourselves in some of the most gorgeous places with such extra people. The dinners on long wooden benches with the paintings of prime ministers and authors hanging over head, the end of term balls held in quadrangles with Alice in Wonderland-esque fantasy all around us (hookah tents! hot air balloons! servers spray-painted from head to toe in golden glitter passing around trays of drinks & food!)

When our time there ended, our amazing group of friends dispersed to the far corners of the world to do really amazing and great things. We are so proud of them, but oof! We miss those moments when we all were carelessly running around Oxford as kings.

Tyler's class just had his 5 year reunion (you may have seen in on Instagram), and I had been so busy that I hadn't put much thought into what the weekend was going to be like before we went. But when we got there and walked into the quadrangle of Christ Church, time seemed to flip back seamlessly into life back when we lived there. We saw so many of those faces- I can't tell you how much of a homecoming it felt like for all of us!

There really is a special magic to old friendships- friendships that love and get you, regardless of how big or small life may have made you. You just can't make old friends. (And you sure can't beat a place like the old dining halls of Oxford to catch up with them!)

Find more of our Oxford days here and my city guide to Oxford here.

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on October 12, 2016 and filed under oxford, england, love, friends.

Tuscany Day Trip: Montepulciano


I convinced Tyler and our friends, Geraldine and Grant, to go to Montepulciano for the day while we were lounging around the villa one day. I had gone years ago and was itching to show them what a cute town it was. After they relented to my less-than-subtle nudges, we hopped in the car and drove an hour and a half. When we got there, I soon realized- I had actually been to Montelcino and had never been to Montepulciano before. Oops.

The good news for all of us was that this town was WAY better than I had expected to show them. Lucky for them (and me!), we got to spend a wonderful day exploring this charming town once run by the Medici family and still known today for its world class wines.

Plus, rolling the word "Montepulciano" off your tongue is one of the funnest things ever said.




To drive from Florence (which is the best way, since it's really complex to reach otherwise), you'll take an easy 90 drive south, past Siena. Park in one of the paid lots and wander in through one of the various city gates. We parked in lot #1 and it was a great starting point.

You can walk straight from the parking lot and into town. From there, it was a windy and colorful stroll up through into the city center. Along the way, expect fruit stalls, tiny artists' shops and touristy stops full of leather purses and ceramic goodies.



This isn't going to be a day-trip that has a big bullet-point list that comes with it. Your main objectives for the day are to relax, catch some great views from the endless alleyways and vistas, and eat/drink well along the way.

You can make it up to the Piazza Grande (admittedly, a tiresome endeavor with a baby stroller) and enjoy the piazza life from there. Grab a cup of (delicious artisan!) gelato from the tiny cafe right in the square for a real treat. Or if you're feeling more energetic, you cna pay €4 to climb up to the top of the Terrazza del Palazzo Comunale for sweeping views of the Tuscan hills surrounding you.



If wine is your game, then you've got countless vineyards surrounding the town you can visit as this is the home of the famous vino nobile. The larger vineyards offer amazing lunches in gorgeous settings... along with pricetags that pair well with such an opulent experience. Some of the most famous vineyards in the Montepulciano area are Avignonesi and Contucci Cantine.



Tuscany is a great place to take day trips- really for any type of traveler. If you're young and looking to explore- these small, friendly towns are nearly fail proof adventures. If you're a couple looking for some romantic spots and lonely cafes, these towns offer it. If you're a family craving some culture, but feel exhausted by big cities- small towns like Montepulciano are a great middle ground. (Plus so many of the streets are pedestrian only, you don't have to worry about cars. Let those kids run free!)



Find more of my Italy posts here and my series on Tuscan day trips here.



*images original to aspiring kennedy by grant schol


Posted on September 27, 2016 and filed under day trips, italy, travel.

Weak-Night Cooking

One of our friends recently joked that I don't cook... I was a bit confused. What? Me? When I'm busy with a semester, I am eating out a lot because, well, I have to eat out. I'm just not home very often. When life is a bit slower, I love to try new things and scour magazines for new ideas. Not only do I enjoy it, but let's be honest- it's way cheaper and healthier than eating out all the time. And with little kids, it's way less hassle.

But....  right now it is not slow. We are in the first bit of a new semester and dinners at home are the last thing on my list of a million things to do each day. The only problem is... it's the first thing anyone else asks me when I get home. "What's for dinner?!"

I do a few things to keep afloat in these moments. Hopefully, I'll share my moves with you and you, in return, can give me some winning-no-brain-required-recipes!

1. WRITE IT DOWN | This one is so obvious... but only if you're actually doing it. Otherwise, you think you it doesn't make a difference. It does! I plan out every meal my family eats for the week on Sunday night. So boring, but so necessary. I meal plan and then I order it all on Ocado. (I'm a big fan of Ocado.)

I used to love wandering through the grocery stores here. Well, actually, I still do. I just have other things to do, so the last thing I want to do is run out to Tesco at 6:15 to buy French mustard or whatever other random ingredient I don't have. I schedule my delivery slot (always on Wednesday, because it's free that day) and have it all there and ready to cook when I walk in the door.

2. STICK WITH WHAT WORKS | Trying new things is so fun, and way easier the more you've cooked. With that said, when I'm busy- we are sticking to a shortlist of 10-15 things. I cook things that I'm very comfortable with and don't expend mental energy on daunting steps like braising and pickling. (I know my limits.)

3, TWICE IS NICE | My poor mother. I used to not eat leftovers. Gross. I only wanted "fresh food." These days, I live off of them. When I cook, I plan for the meal to feed us twice for dinner... or at least dinne + two days of lunches for whoever is home. There is little better than eating a delicious homemade meal... that you didn't actually have to spend anytime on.

4. SHARE THE LOVE | Sure life is busy, but if I'm meal planning- I try to plan to have guests over to share it with us. Or, I make extra and give it to our neighbors. (We know them, it's not creepy.)  I'm not making individual filets, so the extra price is nominal and the gesture is always so appreciated. I think that it's easy for us to feel self-centered when life gets hectic. It's a good push for me to think outward when what I really want to do is be inward. (It's so hard, isn't it?!)

5. FREEZE OUT | And for nights when you get home and everyone meets you at the door with gum in their hair and crying? Drag that bag of frozen chicken fingers out of the bottom drawer of the freezer, hold you head high knowing that you do the best you can.... and get out the peanut butter to start getting that gum out.

A few of my weekly recipes are from the links below. I'd love for you to post up your favorites, too!


-Creamy Feta Chicken with Peppers & Rice (A Diary of Lovely)

- Chicken Stew with Biscuits (Ina Garten)

- Honey Pecan Salmon (Aspiring Kennedy)



*images by noah darnell original to aspiring kennedy


Posted on September 26, 2016 and filed under eat, life.