Posts filed under marriage

A Dirty Secret... and Other Confessions of 2 Weeks Alone at Home

A few weeks ago, after our great trip to Italy, Tyler promptly packed up and had to leave for over two weeks in Iceland. I was at home with the kids and feeling a bit daunted by the idea. But you know what, after a few days, it didn’t feel so overwhelming and we were all kind of in a little routine. And, I can’t believe it, but we were actually having fun! (Is that what it feels like to be moving out of the trenches of small children? If so, it’s all I hoped it could be!)

So here’s the point where I let you in on a private little nuance of our marriage: I don’t do laundry. It’s not because “I DO NOT DO LAUNDRY,” but it just kind of ended up being a division of labour we did when we were just married and have kept to it. We both have things we routinely tackle, and laundry is not on my radar. At all. Well, at least the cleaning of it. I’m very good at making things dirty. 

While he was away, the culmination of a month’s worth of summer clothes from holiday and the start of school collided. Laundry had to be done. And I was in that groove of being alone with the kids, so I decided to start my first load of laundry in our washing machine.

It was actually super simple. In fact, it was so simple, I went a little crazy. I did load after load- kinda feeling awesome as I got through another batch and put all the pieces away…. Except I wasn’t love the quality of the laundry.

Now laundry here in England is just different. We have one small machine that does both washing and drying. We don’t enjoy the luxurious fluff cycle that makes clothes super warm and wrinkle-free. We, more or less, have to hang every item on a giant old Victorian rack that hangs above our bathtub for at least half a day to get it fully dry. So I’m used to a bit of wrinkles, crunchiness to our clothes. It’s just the difference between what clothes feel like when I wash them in the US and when I wash them here.

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But these clothes just seemed dingy. They smelled amazing but they didn’t seem to get washed better.

I spot treated some. I opted to put the detergent straight on the clothes. I kept washing and resigned the situation to just a small tariff to life in London.

Well, Tyler got home and life returned to normal, but I was still keen to keep the laundry moving through the house at a rate that would impress the Swiss military. 

One day as I sat perched on the little stairs leading down into the laundry room/tiny cupboard that is built out from the house- I moaned to Tyler that Viola’s school socks were still so gross looking and so dingy. He just shrugged it off and kept hanging up the recently washed items.

Then I asked him if he had a trick for keeping the detergent from building up in the dispenser. He replied, well it won’t ever do that because it’s the pods.

The pods? No, I was using the liquid detergent and I held up the bottle.

He looked at me with confusion. Then he explained to me that I was holding fabric softener. 

And then I explained to him that I had been washing every single load with fabric softener for the past two weeks because that was what I thought was detergent… along with an extra cup of the other brand of fabric softener. And in that moment, all the lovely smelly, dingy clothes that I had been folding and smugly putting away suddenly made so much more sense. (In my defence, Tyler agrees that it is really poorly marked on the outside and is pretty confusing. It says very small on the back that it is fabric softener, but you have to be looking for it.)

I tossed everything back in the wash, tucked a pod at the bottom and restarted the load and haven’t stopped rolling my eyes at myself since. But hopefully, it makes you laugh and realise that each and every one of you is probably better at laundry than I am.. and to let you know that the reason I haven’t posted in a while is because I’ve been so busy doing domestic skills at low-caliber.

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Anyone else have a great story of totally missing the mark like this? I’m really hoping to get some other votes of over-confidence here, so I’m gonna make this a competition. The winner of the funniest story gets a $10 Starbucks gift card. (I’ll award it on Friday.) 

Don’t leave me out to dry (pun intended) on this one….



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Swiss Wedding Wows

Sometimes you sneak away for a little getaway, and sometimes you splash it all over Instagram like it’s the 4th of July. For those of you not following on Instagram (come on, though, you should, we have fun on there) you may not know that this weekend, Tyler & I left town for a crisp 48 hours away. We went to Switzerland for my dear friend Annie’s wedding to her Swiss mister, Alex. (You may remember the incredible day out on Mount Rigi we had together in June.)

With how crazy the last week was for us and how hard it is to leave the kids, it took us some time to get into the groove of getting away. The flight was delayed, the weather in London was meh… but once we finally got on the train in from Zurich’s airport into Lucerne- I starting getting really giddy to get out and show him all the best spots. (The Lion Statue! The Chapel Bridge! The boat ride out to Mount Rigi! Mill’Feuille for breakfast! Max Chocolate Shop!)

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We made the most of our time there: site-seeing, eating really well, spending Saturday at the most gorgeous wedding in the history of all time (this is a fact, sorry, not open for discussion), and staying out way too late for people in their 30’s with kids, and waking up to do our monthly budget on Sunday because we are people in their 30’s with kids. 

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I know, I know, that getting away with little kids is really hard. It was our first time to just make something with the two of us happen since we went to Hawaii in 2017, so I can’t really pretend that we get to practice this very often. But, it is really good and such a treat. It’s worth the hustle, pushing aside the extra money to cover childcare, and the endless-schedule arranging to make that time together actually happen. I can only tell you: it does wonder for your relationship to discover something new together away from the ordinary of the everyday. 

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Ooh! And as I write that, I realise that this is a perfect time to announce something new here. If you’re starved for time together and want to get away- Tyler & I are actually hosting a couples trip this May! I’ve only announced it on Instagram stories at this point, but want to share it here, too. We’ll be headed to Normandy from May 18-23rd. We are renting a giant chateau, seeing all the great D-Day and Norman sites, kinda acting like we are B-List celebs with a private chef, and splitting up the cost so we can all recharge and hang out together. There are a few rooms left, so if you’re interested, hopefully, you can join us. Hang out with us. Have a great time somewhere special that guys and girls seem to equally like. Enjoy getting away together with just the two of you. And make some new couple friends, too. (Who couldn’t use a few new friends at this stage of their life? I could!) The rooms are given away on a first-come, first-served. All are welcome. (Just be nice and normal, please. Ha!)

*Sorry, no kids on this trip! It’s for time-starved couples that need to reconnect… like us. Ha! (Italics)

For more information, email lauren@aspiringkennedy.com.

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Read more posts from our travels in Switzerland or look in my travel guide to Switzerland here.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 27, 2018 and filed under switzerland, travel, marriage.

My Florence | Breakfast at Villa Cora

As our schedule seems to typically fall, we are often traveling over my birthday. Because of an early August birthday, I’ve been able to celebrate birthdays in some pretty lush places. Being the good man that he is, Tyler knows that the thing I love to do most when ushering in a new year of life is to find the prettiest breakfast possible to celebrate. It just feels like the biggest treat to me. 

While there may have been many fine hotel beds and bathtubs that made me swoon, what really seems to stand out to me in thinking back on great hotels is the breakfast. There’s just nothing more indulgent than waking up in a pretty room and wandering down to a pretty table and pretty, homemade food and hot delicious coffee. Its in those moment that I feel my brain get the warm fuzzies of complete travel bliss. 

For my 34th birthday (34!!!), we headed to Villa Cora below Piazzale Michaelangelo in Florence. We passed it a few nights earlier driving with a friend: it glowed on the hillside with pretty lighting and had an ambiance that made me wish I had a slinky ballgown to go dance on the terrace in. When I asked her what it was, she replied that it was called Villa Cora and was a gorgeous hotel. Call it fate, call it destiny.... but I knew then and there that was the place we needed to try this year.

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And I can’t say that it disappointed in anyway. The service was incredible, the setting was Florentine posh in all the best ways, the food was a mix between the Italian finest and made-to-order requests. (I mean, goodness, they serve their fruit on columns of ice.) The terrace to eat on overlooks the fountain and gardens and it just feels.... decadent.

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We for a couple of hours- no kids, no problem- enjoying every bite and sipping coffee and fresh cold press juices and any other item we had a whim to try. The staff was so sweet and didn’t rush us one bit.

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Afterwards, we were invited to explore the villa and gardens, enjoy a takeaway coffee and felt like we were actual hotel guests. 

We wandered down into the garden and sat on a white couch and Tyler obliged me by spending the next hour doing one of my other most beloved activities: financial planning. Ha! How fun of a date am I? But seriously, I love having time to chat through big picture ideas and after a a nice, relaxed morning- it was the perfect time to go through it.

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Would I recommend going to Villa Cora for breakfast in Florence? Yes! It’s €35 per person and a great option for a celebration or girly morning out. I’d recommend calling before you go to get a table reserved on the terrace, as that really is the best seat in the house and seating is quite limited.


VILLA CORA | Viale Machiavelli, 18, 50125 Firenze FI | +39 055 228790


Find more of my favourite places in Florence in my travel guide.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 25, 2018 and filed under florence, italy, marriage, my florence.

Get Out of Town | Widbrook Grange, Bath

Well, well, well… look who has moseyed herself back into blogging after a nice little break? This girl. Life has been busy and full, and in the sake of full disclosure, a bit overwhelming for me. Traveling husbands, kids with chicken pox, a huge workload leave along with all the other invisible work that we do (groceries, meals, cleaning up boxes of puzzles) have left me crawling into bed at night. Thanks for always making me feel so okay to walk away from blogging when life needs it- I have always felt so comfortable to leave this space quiet when I need to and am always so grateful to come back to an engaged and friendly space. (I’m the luckiest girl with the best readers, truly.)

Anyway, in the midst of me wading through a few busy weeks, Viola’s school had their half-term break. (Culture lesson: In England, the school runs through the end of July, so we have a “half-term” break half-way through the term with a week off in May. It’s very strange to think we still have 6 weeks to go when everyone back in the US is getting out of school for the summer!)  We were busy with work and life, so we kinda dropped the ball getting anything formal together.

Thankfully, Tyler is a kind man who can read between the lines on my forehead. On Thursday, he booked us a night away for a quick little adventure and a nice break from regular life and, on Friday, we loaded up the car and headed west. 


WIDBROOK GRANGE

WHERE WE WENT

Out in the tiniest little corner of the Cotswolds, over by Bradford on Avon, there is a tiny little country property called Widbrook Grange. The property is a sweet little country manor that has been renovated into a pretty little escape complete with gardens full of roses, little ponds to throw pebbles in, secret nooks with tables for sunny mornings and unruly paths to explore with little ones. 

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The rooms are nice and comfy- we had a big king-sized bed with a sofa and a baby bed. We all fit into the room easily and had our choice of a bath tub or walk in shower.

WHAT WE DID

After we dropped our bags in our room, we spent the early evening exploring the garden trails. They climbed on an old tractor, picked flowers and wandered back to the far end of the property…. until a thunderstorm quickly had us running back to our room. 

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Back in the room, we fed the kids a little 5-course dinner we had picked up from M&S before arriving to the hotel (sandwiches, mango, yoghurt, crisps & a tiny Collin Caterpillar chocolate cake.) Spreading out dinner on a giant towel in a hotel for them is something that they really love…. And I hope that they continue to do so for a long time to come!

It definitely took way too long to get them down for bed. Like 1.5 hours. They were jumping and being SO crazy as we tried to get them to sleep… but eventually, we claimed victory and headed out the door for dinner in the restaurant hotel.

The staff at check-in gave Tyler a monitor that would work between our room and the dining room… along with a reservation for dinner for whenever we could make it over after bedtime. What a relief! Normally, I am so stressed trying to get kids down and then sneak away for something to eat, but this was so stress-free. 

And all the kids snoozed through dinner and it was just, well, it was really lovely. The summer sun was glowing even at 9:30, so we got to eat in the sunny remnants of the day and catch up on all the big and small things that seem forgettable in the chaos of everyday life. You know, the non-essential conversations that contain nothing logistical or relay nothing of functional importance.  We just had some some of those side conversations with details that flavour so much of why you liked each other in the first place. Talking about what we liked about certain books and movies. Talking about funny things people said to us. Talking about what we were excited to do on our vacation this summer. I needed some of that spice sprinkled in. That Ty spice. Haha! It sure makes a constant intake of daily grind gruel a bit more palatable, doesn’t it?

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The next morning we ate a sunny breakfast of warm croissants, eggs, bacon and fruit. We ventured out to soak up bit more of the garden life that we were so craving: roly-poly chasing, wall climbing & random singing were all on the agenda.

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After that, we checked-out and loaded up for lunch in Bradford on Avon. We fell hard for this gorgeous little town- it’s out of a fairy tale. We explored the churches, chased Harrison along the river and sipped Elderflower cordial. 

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This was an easy escape from London. It was two hours from our place there, and is a new spot that we can add to our list for simple getaways that work for the whole family. Next time, we’ll be ready with our swimsuits and hit up their pool!


Find more of my favourite places outside of London here on my England travel guide.

Or come along on another getaway to the Cotswolds via YouTube!



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on June 11, 2018 and filed under england, get out of town, marriage.

11 Years & 5 Knights

Remember me? I’m the blogger who used to blog here. That’s okay. I always say- if my blog looks good, my house is a wreck and my kids are unfed. The truth is, life has been so intense the last month and my family needed my undivided attention.

So what could possibly be so important that it would pull me back into blogging and even with the energy for a new video?!

Well, only 11 years of marital bliss, obviously.

And, obviously, that is said with sarcasm after what I declared as “the hardest year of our marriage-physically” to Tyler.

After a painful end of pregnancy with some killer sciatica, a toddler who hates to sleep and loves to scream at night and a lot of work in between... we are both just walking into 2018 in need of a nap.

But to celebrate another year of marriage, another year of saying “we will,” another year of becoming more and more of the same person, and another year of our fast-romance-turned-marriage maturing  into a real, bonafide family. 

After filling our tank with unleaded when we actually have a diesel car, which can be (in our opinion) credited to a recent visit to the US combined with little sleep in our family’s jet lagged days since, we had to have our tank drained and then keep the engine running for 5 miles. So, we tossed everyone in the car (my mom included) and headed to Richmond for cupcakes at Hummingbird.

It was random, it was fun, and it was a great glimpse of life for us now. It just felt right to record a few moments of it and tuck it away in a video for later years... like a little time capsule of a day in the life of the five of us. (Oh, and my mom, too. She’s in town and makes a little cameo!)

Cheers to you, Tyler Knight. I knew you were the real deal when we decided to stop being good friends and jump into getting married.... and you’ve only proved me right every day since. In all of our naivety and stupidly, God was really kind to pair us up. I’ll feel thankful for that for the rest of my life.




*video original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on January 8, 2018 and filed under tyler, marriage, family, love.

Tuesdays with Tyler | A Day in the Cotswolds

This season of life isn't one that leans itself to exotic getaways for long periods of time. Okay, I say that with full acknowledgement of our trip to Hawaii in January-  but let's be honest, those trips that used to be logistical breezes are now achingly painful to execute. You can only do them for big occasions, like, you know, celebrating ten years of marriage.

However, old habits die hard. When we have the chance, Tyler & I love to sneak away for a little of grown up time. Whether it's as simple as going to buy sour cream at Tesco or big like a day out in another town, we connect best when we are on an adventure. 

This week we had the chance to train 1.5 hours out of London to the Cotswolds for a meeting. We would only be there for 3ish hours, but we went for it.

The train ride was quiet. We got coffee from our old favourite in Paddington Station before we left. I slept like an old lady on his shoulder. We sat in the Quiet Carriage as respected fellow passengers, rather than obnoxious child-carrying rejects. 

When we got to Moreton-in-Marsh, it was (to our delight) Market Day. It was a sleepy little market day- full of produce and grey hair. We got paninis at a little tea room called Martha's and took them outside to eat on the WWII monument in the middle of the square.

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No plans were made for the day. We just planned to relax and enjoy what we stumbled upon. After lunch, we headed to the office where we had our meeting, and when it was finished headed to the pub for some fries, drinks & a view of the fire before our train back.

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On the way home, we ate snacks, talked about plans we hope that could come to fruition, got annoyed at each other when we had differing views and then cosied up to each other to listen to music for the remainder of the ride home. I loved it and I hope we always can squeeze in impromptu days with Tyler to reconnect... no matter how crazy life may be. 


Just so it is actually said and doesn't just rest in my head where I assume everyone agrees.... Life in pretty places can often seem perfect. The pictures bring gorgeous moments together in a way that seem less mundane than elsewhere. Well, let me remind you... life isn't perfect even in pretty places.

No matter where you go, life is still just life. It's still made up of normal people doing normal things. Don't chase the illusion of getting somewhere for life to begin being good... it starts here. Wherever you're at. Take it from me, I've been to so many of those jaw-dropping sites. Until you can love and appreciate people around you in the mundane,  you won't enjoy them in a prettier place. And if you love them there, you'll have an adventure with them wherever life brings you.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy 

Posted on March 17, 2017 and filed under tyler, get out of town, marriage.

In Defense of the (Holiday) I Love

Valentines Day is the least popular holiday to publicly like. Sure, celebrate in private if you must- but for the sake of everyone around you, opt for a cynical and eye-rolling attitude of February 14.

The thing is... I LOVE this day. And this isn't coming from a girl who has spent her life showered with chocolates and serenades by suitors every Valentines. It's from a dorky girl who never had a boyfriend and now is thankful for a quiet pub dinner out with her husband to celebrate.

But the reason I love Valentine's Day is that is pushes me to say how much I love people around me. My husband, my kids, my friends.... and no matter how that is displayed (from cards to cupcakes), it feels good to indulge in the sweetness of caring- and being cared for- by others around you. 

My parents always included us in their Valetines Day celebrations... from my mom's heart shaped meatloaf to my dad buying all of his daughters flowers. We were included and felt so loved. I love sharing that inclusion with our kids now, too.

So I say... bring on the red velvet cake and chocolates. I'm happy to spend the day with a shower of glitter and cheesiness enjoying the people I love.

And you know... a few flowers around the house don't hurt either. Even if you *cough* might have bought them for yourself. 

Happy Valentine's Day! I love this blogging community and the friends I've made through being here. I hope you all feel valued and appreciated today!



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 14, 2017 and filed under holiday, kids, family, marriage.

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.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Allons-y | The Paris Commute

The past few weeks in Paris have been so busy, but so nice. I haven't been blogging a ton because I have lessons to plan, babies to love on and places to go. We've had some visitors, a trip to Normandy and so much fun in between.

Our family is thriving right now. One of the main reasons is our amazing au pair, Kristi. She's my former student and having her with us has been a total game changer. She's wonderful and we are going to miss her so much! Knowing that the kids are going to be having fun with her while we are teaching or taking the students out makes the day really enjoyable for us. 

Each morning, we head out and walk to teach together. (Tyler is a regular adjunct professor for our program, so he gets to go to classes with me each day.) Our walks each morning have been one of the things that we love the most about this semester. It feels like a little date... and while it may just be a 30 minute walk, it is some of the best quality time we've consistently had in a long time. 

And so, of course, I filmed it one day for posterity sake. So that, maybe somewhere down the line when the days are a bit more chaotic and the setting a bit less glorious, I'll be able to look at this and enjoy the memory.



 

*video original to Aspiring Kennedy, edited by K.Keese

 

Posted on April 4, 2016 and filed under paris, family, marriage, travel.

Piccadilly Street Party

Earlier in the week, I had plans to end our fun afternoon out celebrating our anniversary with a walk up through Soho so that we could buy cupcakes from our favorite little bakery. But then that morning, I started thinking realistically about how much time we would have and realized we wouldn't have time to make it up that way. So instead, I spent about ten minutes mixing up a batch of some extra chocolatey cupcakes from Betty Crocker, popped them in the oven while I made breakfast and tidied up the living room. Later, I spent a few minutes topping them with small mountains of chocolate icing, dusting them with bright sprinkles, and packing them in a little box down in my bag to take with us when we left.

After we left Floris, we walked down Jermyn street to Piccadilly Circus. it felt like one of those perfect London moments. We were there, the sun was setting, the lights were beaming and it just felt so nice to be together. (And our friend, Ben, who had rendezvoused with us after work.)  So there the three of us stood- shoveling cupcakes in our mouths underneath Eros on a Friday night. We talked about random stuff, Ben showed us where he used to work, and the guys rolled their eyes at me wanting to take cheesy pictures. And then we had a few more cupcakes! That, amigos, is my kind of street party.

So here's to you, Tyler. The man who has shared your home, name and life with me for nine years. While these cupcakes only took about 45 minutes of my life, from start to finish, you've got all the rest of it. Happy 9th Anniversary!

Have an everyday happening that you want to turn into a fun celebration? Join in on Betty Crocker's cute #iCAKEyou campaign that pushes you to make someone a proper cake to celebrate them. Here's how it easy it was to make the ones I made for us.

You'll need:

Box of Betty Crocker Tempting Chocolate Cake Mix | Tempting Chocolate Icing | 230 ml of water | 125 ml vegetable oil | 3 eggs | cupcake liners | optional, but really actually necessary: sprinkles 

STEP ONE: Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together for a couple of minutes until everything is combined.

STEP TWO: Drop cupcakes into lined cupcake tins. (My tins made about 18 cupcakes in total) and bake at 160C (325F) for 18-20 minutes. 

STEP THREE: Remove cupcakes from tins and let cool. Ice tops with frosting. Add sprinkles immediately after frosting each cupcake to help them stick better. 


Thanks, Betty Crocker, for inviting me to participate in this fun campaign for the past three months. Not only have I loved having boxes of cake mix & icing arrive to my front door, but the challenge to celebrate those around us has been really fun. 



*This series was sponsored by Betty Crocker. Opinions and fervent regard for cake my own.

*Images by Ben Clube, original to Aspiring Kennedy.

Making Some Scents of It All

As you may have seen on Instagram or Snapchat (or maybe not), last week Tyler & I celebrated NINE years of marriage. What? How? Not sure. We got married young- I was 22 and he was 24. We're familiar with the yearly arrival of our anniversary, but we both agreed- nine years felt really official and old. It was one of those milestones you watch cousins or teachers hit and it confirms that they are, indeed, old.

Oh well. I'm constantly reminded that age isn't a bad thing, and this was reinforced when Tyler & I went to Floris on Friday for a really special anniversary celebration. 

Before I dive in on our day there, let me just give you a quick background on Floris, in case you are unfamiliar with them. Floris is a London perfumer who has been in the same shop on Jermyn Street since before America was a country. In the private rooms set back behind the bustling store front, it has been mix up the custom scents of the British Kings & Queens for centuries. The product line is very edited and many of the fragrances have been around for hundreds of years. Floris holds a Royal Warrant as the private perfumer to Queen and the Prince of Wales- though if you ask them about her perfume, they'll kindly tell you they are not allowed to discuss her private blend.

Floris invited Tyler & I to come have custom scents made for our 9th anniversary. While the bespoke service has been around for ages, having couples come in together is new. In fact, I think we might be one of the very firsts. We felt so special making history in a place that has seen so much history itself.

A few days before our appointment, we both received a gorgeous box from Floris with an empty, engraved perfume bottle inside along with an invitation to make a bespoke fragrance with Nicola, their master perfumer. 

I could spend way too long recounting the process that we went through with Nicola, Floris' world-class bespoke perfumer, but I'll try to keep it reasonable. He walked us through Floris private library of base scents of the four main categories: floral, citrus, woody & oriental. As he talked and dipped testers from each bottle, I sipped tea from gorgeous china and popped Charbonnel et Walker truffles. 

After we went through probably 50 different scents, we narrowed down to our two favorites. The biggest surprise was that Tyler and I each had chosen, of all the scents, one of the same scents for our final two. 

After that, we tried our two finalists on our skin to see how the fragrance worked on us. I ended up choosing an orange blossom scent infused with blackcurrant. Tyler choose one from sandalwood.

Then Nicola guided us through the "organ" where various "notes" sat ready to be added to make the scents our own. Little vials with small droppers held various elements such as bergamot, vanilla and amber that could accent the base scents to our preference. Mine got a bit sweeter with almond and brighter with grapefruit. Tyler's got a bit fresher with bergamot and smokey with birch.

The final step in the process was to name our fragrances. I named my "Praha" after our honeymoon in Prague; Tyler named his "Neuf" for our 9th anniversary. 

I'll be honest: When we arrived at Floris, I knew we would have a great time. It's a gorgeous shop and the opportunity to have our own scents hand-poured with a master perfumer was a once in a lifetime gift. BUT... when all the work was done and Nicola handed me that bottle, I was surprised at how emotional I was.

The only feeling that I can compare it to was when I saw our wedding invitations printed with our own names on it. Sure, you've seen wedding invitations before- but when they're made for you and have the names of those you love on it, it means something different. And somehow, even though I've smelled a gazillion perfumes, smelling one that had so many of the smells and memories associated with them in a bottle felt a bit the same way. 

We hugged everyone goodbye, walked out through the store and stood in the spitting rain on Jermyn Street. We kind of stared at each other in amazement at what we had just done. It was the perfect London way to celebrate our anniversary: creating a perfume to wear that reminds of past memories to take with us in the years to come.


What a special memory that we can take forward and share everyday. Getting custom scents made is maybe one of the sweetest things we have done together, and I highly recommend it for any couple that is wanting to celebrate the past by creating something to enjoy for the years to come. 

If you're headed to London, stop by Floris to pick up a bottle of their perfume to take home as a souvenir. It's a quintessential London moment browsing their Jermyn Street shop, but if you can- definitely book in for an afternoon to have your own scent made. I promise, you won't regret it. This truly is one of London's finest gems and one of those rare shops that has survived through the years because it does something so special.

 

Floris Perfumers | 89 Jermyn Street | St. James, SW1Y 6JH

 

Find more of my favorite places to visit in my London travel guide.


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*images by Ben Clube, original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Working (On) The Weekend

Since we have landed back in London, we've been a bit nutty. Jetlag, potty training (better late than never?), two teeth for Harrison, two molars for Viola, and a dose of colds for all of us complete with congestion that keeps a baby from sleeping well and hacking coughs that wake up the rest of our tiny flat throughout the night.

I mean, it's fine. It's just the standard recipe for a Chaos Cocktail, and we've been poured a double. The Fitbit I was given for Christmas has been discarded only a few days into use after it showed me I had slept for 6 hours, interrupted 21 times and awake 7 times in the night. Ha! I decided it was best to live in ignorance on those sorts of statistics.

Phew. Needless to say, this weekend wasn't as much of a recharge as it was two more days of the crazy. Oh well. We are fine and these kids really do make it worth it. It's bizarre how much someone can annoy the mess out of you and you miss them again so quickly when you leave the flat for a small break of fresh air.

 

And it also helps to go through the mess of the everyday with someone you really enjoy being with! St. Tyler in all his glory.


So here's to Monday! Wishing us (and you!) some sweet normalcy and boring days!





*images original to aspiring kennedy

Christmas Movie Double Feature: I (Cake) You.

Tyler and I love Christmas movies. Love. Love. Love them. In our early years of marriage, I would watch Love Actually all year long. Hugh Grant was, more or less, the third person in our marriage. We still drop lines in from the movie in so many of our everyday conversations to each other. For example: "Oh, you packed two pairs of running shoes?" "Well, you know... just in cases." The fun never stops.

But while my holiday lineup is set (1. Love Actually 2. The Holiday 3. Muppet Christmas Carol), Tyler's is equally unwavering (1. Elf 2. Family Vacation 3. Home Alone). We try to make it through all of these every December.

The only problem is our dang kids.

Joking, of course, but getting through six movies in a few weeks isn't the easy thing it used to be. Once we finally get both of the kids asleep and have a couple of hours to ourselves- we kinda like to party. 

For our annual viewing of Love Actually, I traditionally make a Banoffee Pie which, despite Keira Knightley's opinion does not mean that I have "terrible taste in pie." It means I have awesome taste because any pie made of bananas, caramel, espresso whipped cream with chocolate shavings encased in digestive crust is amazing. But at this moment in life, I have neither the time or energy to make something so labor intensive- so instead, a boxed red velvet cake from Betty Crocker!

For our movie night, I actually squeezed out two types of red velvet cake. As the various layers were baking for a layer cake, I veered from the original 3-layer cake plan and used the final layer to make small trifles in little glass cups. Or "cup-cakes," as my sous chef, Viola, called them. It was so easy- we just stamped out little rings in the cake with the cups and layered them with cream cheese icing. 

I also plucked a few flowers from the bouquet Tyler gave me for finishing my masters and dressed up the layer cake, too. I mean, its the little things people. Boxed cake mix, cream cheese icing, flowers... it doesn't take much to make an ordinary night feel like something special.

We may have only got through one movie, but we enjoyed two versions of cake- thus the double feature.

I'm not going to lie... Christmas movies, a picked up house, Tyler, a fire in the fireplace, and endless supply of cake (not pictured: buried under vanilla ice cream) was an awesome time.

 

So the big question is... what are your top three Christmas movies? I love hearing people's favorites!

 



 

*special thanks for the founder of the feast, Betty Crocker, for sending us cake + icing to participate in their fun, #iCAKEyou campaign. I accept with open arms any/all of these types of sponsored posts.

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

 

 

 

Posted on December 22, 2015 and filed under eat, holiday, marriage.

Guilt-Free Dining.

I'd love to pretend that Tyler & I live in perfect harmony. While we do function well with very full lives, we also can feel really burdened by it after a while. It typically takes a few tears (from me), a babysitter and a dinner out to help us get back on the same page. We get there, but it's not always without some tension.

As embarrassed as I am to admit it, but I'm totally a scorekeeper in this area. Obnoxious phrases like "You got to do (fill in the blank), and I haven't gotten to do (fill in the blank)." or "I've been at home for X amount of days, it's your turn" unfortunately come out of my mouth far too often. 

Tyler, knowing that I was feeling some stress, hired our nanny for the entire day today so that I could catch up on the loose ends that were driving me nuts. (He's so nice, guys.) Before I headed to the office, I had a meeting scheduled.... but it fell through at the last minute. I was left across town with an hour hole in my schedule. I started to scurry to try to fill it to maximize the day, and then I decided to just enjoy it.

Instead of clawing my way into some free time, here it fell on my lap. Rather than making it into a bit of hurried time, I'm just chilling with a bowl of porridge at Bill's and mindlessly clearing my camera roll with the awesome new app KEEPERS. (This app is changing my life- you have to try it if you're like me and have 15 versions of every photo eating up your memory.) 

It may be the least exotic way to spend some time alone... but it feels good. After all, feeling a little less crazy may be the biggest accomplishment that I could achieve today. 

And just as I got the end of writing all of that, an email dropped in my inbox. Official word that I was awarded my masters... with merit. Totally bragging, but man..... adding a masters to our lives last year wasn't without a bunch of hustle. How awesome that we survived it. Phew! Tyler and I should both walk across the stage, because I could not have earned it without him. What a perfect moment of validation for the quiet hours of work that can often feel like they are meaningless.

Happy Friday! I hope yours is as good as mine!

xo - Lauren

 




*image orignal to aspiring kennedy


Posted on December 4, 2015 and filed under everyday living, work life, marriage.

Saturday/Funday

 

This week. It has been a blur. A tough blur of work, hosting dinner parties at our place, and never feeling rested because of the sleep training drama. (Yes, it's still happening. Things are better... then worse, then better again. Two steps forward and the like.) 

By the time Saturday morning came around, I needed some time with Tyler to recenter. We both run around throughout the week trying to juggle all the various aspects of our lives... and sometimes, we spend too much of that time apart. It can get to the point where we look at each other and realize that we are doing a lot as husband + wife without enjoying our lives together in the process.

So the day was a slow one- spent taking care of each other in small ways, but the ways that remind each other that you care about them: a cup of coffee without asking, saying thanks for doing an unglamorous chore and indulging them in a stop for ice cream way too close to dinner time, (obviously that was my request... old habits die hard) and not flinching when it is suggested to eat dinner out rather than cook at home (again, all me).

 


Take a cue from my kind husband and initiate being kind to someone feeling worn down. It will make their day.




 

*images original to aspiring kennedy

 

Posted on July 27, 2015 and filed under family, marriage.

The Two Shall Become One Appetite.

When Tyler and I were dating, he didn't eat vegetables. Well, he would eat canned corn, canned green beans and potatoes. Otherwise, nope. As someone who loved good food, this kind of killed me... but since we only dated for a hot second before wanting to get married, I didn't really have time to really let it bother me that he didn't love arugula, onions and bell peppers like I did. All produce was an unknown land to that young boy from Oklahoma.

However, he was in love and unreasonable just like me. When I would try to get him to take a bite of something that I loved, he would tell me no.... but with the caveat that, if I didn't bug him about it, he would eat vegetables and fruit once we got married. So I let it go. And I have to tell you, he is a man of his word. On our honeymoon, he flipped a switch and started trying new things then and there... and he couldn't believe he had lived so long without them.

Fast forward eight years... and the boy eats anything. In fact, after living life together our appetites have evolved to a weird mirror image of the each other. He loves the fruits and vegetables that I love, eats meat as more of an accent to meals rather than the main attraction... and in turn, I have adapted the regular addition of milkshakes to my lifestyle.

Since we have moved to England, our diets have changed together again. We've learned to be satisfied by smaller portions and our tastes have changed to prefer the flavors here. When we do semesters in Paris for work, suddenly crusty baked goods, creamy yogurts and slabs of meat suddenly seem like all I want to eat.

I think it's so interesting how people and places can influence your diet. When I was in college living with skinny girls, we'd snack on applesauce and low fat triscuits. When I married Tyler, I ate like a 24 year-old guy. And now, I'm aware how the foods that I'm craving suddenly have become the cravings of my daughter. When I'm into apples, she is, too. When I sustained myself on fruit mentos for my first trimester of pregnancy, she constantly asked for them, too. If I'm on a cereal kick, she is, too. 

I'm realizing how impressionable eating habits can be to those around us... and I feel some weight (literally?) to pass on good eating to my daughter and family. We are what we eat- and those around us, too. For better or for worse.

Probably the easiest target in my diet is dessert- no shocker if you've followed me for more than five minutes. So on June 1- I'm starting 50 days without sweets and desserts.

And speaking of eating habits being contagious.... anyone want to join me? Anyone up for giving up dessert and sugary treats from June 1 to July 20? (No better time to give up the junk than with the arrival of swimsuit season.)

What person or place has been the most influential on the way you eat?

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on May 13, 2015 and filed under eat, everyday living, family, marriage.

No. 1 at 33.

We've snuck away to the countryside for a couple of days to celebrate Tyler's birthday this week.(We are staying at Laura Ashley's Manor and it has been the perfect, easy getaway!) This morning, we are packing up and getting ready to hop on the train back to London. I've never really been one to look forward to sleeping in my own bed again since I live for the fluffiness of a good hotel bed... but I am starting to get that itch to see Viola again. C'est la parenting vie.

Today is Tyler's birthday. He is 33. 33! Last night, I realized when we first kissed- he was 23. I can't believe it's been a decade of having him all to myself. That feels like a really awesome accomplishment to me: got a masters, have an awesome job, been making out with Tyler Knight for ten years, etc.  

I think one of the best things about our (imperfect) relationship is that we both feel like we got the better end of the deal. We both constantly feel like we married up... and in other those moments when we don't see the other in that glowing light, we at least still like each other as a friend, too.

God made a good one when he created this sweet guy. Despite all the great places I've seen or traveled to, Tyler Knight is one of my favorite things he has made. I mean, the Taj Mahal doesn't do my laundry, Paris has never put an extra blanket on me early in the morning while I'm still sleeping and Notting Hill (as much as I may love it) has yet to cry with me over my deepest pain or laugh with me in life's sweeter moments.

Travel is a big part of what we love to do, but I could never replace my life with him for it. We only see it as a compliment for our lives. A bonus. A perk. But it is definitely not the main goal of our life together.

(Plus, as fun as travel with him may be... I think our day to day life is pretty hard to beat.)

 

Happy birthday, Tyler! It's all about Five Guys and Band of Brothers for you today.

 


 

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on May 7, 2015 and filed under family, marriage.

Momhghh

The title of this post

is a result of a baby crawling across my computer...

I decided to leave it as is,

in efforts of maintaining this post's theme.

*     *     *

Regardless of how easy Instagram and blogging 

may make it look

to travel, work and be a mom...

it's not always picture perfect.

It wouldn't even be possible

if Tyler wasn't working on a start-up

that gave him the flexibility to move his hours around

and work from home when needed.

In fact, can I pause for a moment to applaud the dad he is?

He takes care of Viola nearly every day before lunch

and is, 99%, the wind beneath my proverbial wings

when I have to scoot out to a museum tour or day trip

by hanging back with Viola when I need to be "on."

So, no, it's not easy.

It's take endless chatter trying to align our days

and figure out who needs to be where at what time...

and, at times, it results in one (or both) of us

jockeying for who's "turn" it is to do something...

and, at other time, it makes us want to chunk our day planners

at the other's head in frustration....

... and while we gain a lot from this life,

we also give up a lot to have it.

We don't have a lot of free time

to stay in touch with our friends & family

like we might wish.

We don't have a lot of disposable income.

We have a hard time thinking further out

than about 5 or 6 months ahead.

but do I feel lucky to get to spend my days

with the two people I love most

doing jobs that we love

and working with people we respect?

Oh, heck yeah.

It's not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination,

but I'm so thankful for this time that we have.

*photography by Noah Darnell for Aspiring Kennedy