Posts filed under shopping

Mother’s Day | Bottling a Family Legacy

While the US may not start thinking through Mother’s Day for several more months, it comes early here in the U.K. (This week, in fact!)

While so many people are hard to buy for, my mom isn’t one of those people. Not because she has an ongoing list that she makes known, but because she is so unassuming and grateful. Anything that is given with meaning and heart is something that she treasures.

She often is thinking of how to spoil others with grand gestures and gifts that she doesn’t think about getting spoiled herself, so when I can actually spoil her- well, it’s really fun.

And for Mother’s Day this year, I had had that pleasure by taking her to Floris to create a custom scent with her and their master perfumer.

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Creating a custom fragrance could double as a therapy session- it’s so intimate and personal. You work your way through the smells and the reaction you have is very instinctive. 

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“Mmm lavender reminds me of the sachets that we’re in my grandma’s dresser.”

“I love the smell of almond- it smells like my mom's cherry pie.”

“Vanilla smells too waxy to me. It makes me feel like I’m back in fourth grade where my mean teacher would burn a vanilla Yankee candle on her desk.” 

And so on and so on...

You talk with Nicola about what smells you love and why. You smell scents that have great meaning to you... or none at all. 

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And after a while, Nicola guides you to a few scents that really hit a personal note to you. (It sounds crazy, but it ends up feeling a bit emotional to go through those smells... it’s like looking at forgotten family albums.) From there, the smells and fine tuned and at the end- well, all I can tell you is that you have a personalised scent that smells perfect for you.

Like, honestly. It’s as if Nicola has articulated your personality into a fragrance. 

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And since it’s so personal, it’s yours to name... and yours alone to have mixed. It goes into their archives and only you can reorder it. Or anyone you will it on to. (Fancy, right?) 

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After it was all said and done, the perfume was poured into her bottle and an empty label was laid before her. My mom named her after our family home- which is perfect for someone who had said she wanted to smell “pretty and comforting” when we first sat down at those comfy chairs with Nicola. 

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If you’ve heard me talk about Floris before, you probably think that I gush a bit too much about them. Well, maybe- but after bringing my mom and showing her a bit of their magic, I’m sure she would feel the same way.

So what does that all have to do with Mothers Day? Well, it means skip the spa certificates and take your mom to do something that not only provides for better quality time than any massage can give.... sit with her for two hours in a gorgeous room as she sniffs her way through her memories. 

Listen to her talk about the musky back room of her parents house, the smells that remind her of being a young mom to you and the thoughts she has about how she hopes to be perceived by others and then let her take home the prettiest perfume bottle she’s ever seen with her little initials engraved on it.

Connect with the team at Floris here to book an appointment and surprise your mom on Sunday with one of the most special gifts you may ever give her.

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

My On-The-Go Beauty Routine

Growing up, my mom always did her makeup in the car. I can imagine her in the passenger seat doing her makeup at the stoplights on the way to church a hundred times over. I always thought that’s just what moms did… and then when I got older and would toss on some makeup at every red light, my friends would laugh. I soon realised this as quirk that I had inherited from growing up with my mom, and, naturally, carried on with the oddity as second nature.

But now that I’m a mom, I totally get it. Who has time to do their makeup when you are getting kids ready, too? It’s just nuts, so doing my makeup on the fly makes perfect sense for me now.

Since I never have time to actually do my makeup at home, I do it en route. On the tube. In an uber. At my desk when I arrive. It takes 5 minutes, but it is something I just like to make sure that I do at some point before the day kicks off officially. It makes me feel better, and, with my squinty eyes, makes me look awake.

I keep it all in a little pouch that travels between various totes and bags I use, but inside are the staples that I use on a daily basis for my makeup. Curious to take a peek inside? I always am! I love finding new beauty items and tricks of my friends or bloggers I follow, so I hope that you may find something in my routine that can help you!

ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE | TEN | ELEVEN | TWELVE | THIRTEEN

I thought it would be easiest to give a brief explanation for each of the items I use so that you can know just what makes it extra special… or, for a few of them, what makes them not very special. Ha! 

BEAUTY PRODUCTS:

JIGSAW LEATHER POUCH: I searched high & low for a pretty, sleek makeup bag that could travel with me. Everything I found was either covered in stupid phrases like “Born Fabulous” written in glitter or super chic and entirely out of my price range. I had nearly given up until I stumbled upon these PERFECT bags from Jigsaw. I’m pretty sure they are sold as little clutches, but I love using mine for my makeup. I also have a smaller plain black leather version of this that I use for my cards. Getting them both for under £80 was a great value, and I seriously still love them every time I see them. They were *just* what I was needing.

FACE

NARS BLUSH, DEEP THROAT:  After many years of resisting blush, I finally caved about a year ago. Why had I hated this idea so much? Not sure, but a little bit of pink helps me out a lot and gives my face a bit of definition that I enjoy.

LAURA MERCIER BLUSH BRUSH: I’m not sure if this is technically a blush brush? I bought it years ago, and can’t remember what the name of it is… but it works great and is small without being too dinky. (You need a hefty brush for blush, in my humble opinion.) I don’t see the one I have, but this one they sell now is pretty close.

EYES

YSL TOUCHE ÉCLATIn my twenties, I had some older lady that did our company’s PR. I remember one day talking about how much I loved the smell of YSL mascara, and she mentioned that she lived by Touche Éclat. I replied I didn’t know what that was and she nearly died. Ha! Its been nearly a decade and still remember the horror in her eyes. Well, ten years later and I get why she loved it. It hides dark circles and brightens up your eyes really well.

MASCARA: This mascara is just a basic L'Oreal purchase from Boots, and I, honestly, think most mascara is the same as any other. I do like this one because one side of it has a magnified mirror which makes it easy to do on the fly. But if I have my pick (and pocket money to spare), I always go with YSL mascara. It’s sooooo good. (And smells divine!)

LAURA MERCIER EYE PALETTE: I love Laura Mercier, and have worn it since I was 15…. Which probably makes me an old lady. I don’t know, but she just makes some really smart products. I really like her eye shadow palettes because the colours are all so useable. I also use these colours for my eyebrows sometimes, too.

EYELINER: I think most stick eyeliners are the same, and the particular one I’m using now is no exception. The only reason I won’t recommend it is because the lid will absolutely NOT stay on and every time I go to grab it, it has a broken tip. I have used this Chanel one before and it was consistently good.

BOURJOIS EYEBROW PALETTE: To be honest, I accidentally bought the blonde kit when I grabbed this, but it actually kinda works on days when I want to play down my makeup, and I love the little waxy stuff to keep my brows in place. Plus, the under-brow highlighter looks so good!

LIPS

NIVEA TINTED CHAPSTICK: This chapstick makes my lips feel great and has a pretty pearly colour to it. It has been part of my makeup bag for years because it can dress me up a bit even if it's the only item I get put on.

LOREAL LIP GLOSS: This colour is so simple and pretty, plus it smells good and the applicator is funky and fun to use. Another item that I’ve used for a few years now.

BOURJOIS RED VELVET LIPSTAIN: When I just can’t get it together, this red lipstick can help my disheveled state look intentional. I get loads of compliments on it and it lasts for hours and hours, which means I can put it on and totally forget about it.

MISCELLANEOUS

NEALS YARD TIRED EYES & LIPS SERUM: My friend, Vanessa, gave this to me as a baby gift after Edie was born, and I really like it. Plus, it’s organic and nasty-free… which is becoming increasingly important to me.

LAURA MERCIER TWEEZERS: I love, love, love these tweezers. The little round part makes the grip so good, and if I ever loan them out to anyone, I watch them like a hawk to make sure I get them back. They are SO good. I’m not sure if it’s the angled tip, the rounded pincher part, or the hefty weight of them- but together they make a force that not even the most illusive of tiny eyebrows can hide from.

FLOSS: I try to keep floss around for boring taxi rides and random bits of time where I have nothing better to do when I’m out. Ha! It’s the only time it’ll get done… but don’t worry, I try to do it when no one else is around. 



Posted on November 27, 2017 and filed under shopping, what to pack.

My Reykjavik | Farmers Market

I’m a big fan of buying souvenirs from a place that, well, actually come from that place. And that are hard to get outside of that place. I’m never going to plunk down money for a Louis Vuitton in Paris because I can get that at any luxury department store, you know? If I’m gonna haul something back, I want it to be because it’s truly something special from that place. 

So if I’m in France, I like to buy Monoprix baby clothes, cheap Apilco dishes and loaves of brioche from Aux Mervielleux de Fred.

I’m in in Italy, I want pretty leather bags from the Florence market or olive oil from an olive grove we stay near.

You get the idea.

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Going to Iceland, I always like to find something Icelandic... the only trouble is, since they only have 300,000 people- they have a smaller output of goods to choose from.

But each year, I make it a tradition to buy something made of lambswool... and if you’re going to be real Icelandic lambawool, you should head to Farmers Market to do so.

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Farmers Market is located in Laugavegur and makes the coolest knitwear in the country. That’s not just my opinion. That’s pretty much every Icelanders opinion, too. Other than your grandma knitting you a sweater, Farmers Market makes really nice and cool pieces.

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I bought an oversized cardigan there this year and I love it so much. It is cosy and perfect for my wardrobe... especially when it includes a baby carrier.

The shop has more than just sweaters- it has cool shoes, tights, scarves, and homewares.

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Even if you don’t want anything, you need to at least stop in to see one of Reykjavik’s coolest shops. And if you’re looking to find on of the best wool sweaters in Iceland, we’ll look no further. Farmers Market will be your place! 

And you know what the best news is? After you’ve shopped, you can hop across the street to Sandholt Bakery for some of their killer pastries. Mmmm!


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FARMERS MARKET | Laugavegur 37, 101 Reykjavik


Find all my Iceland favourites on my travel guide page or in my previous posts.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on November 19, 2017 and filed under iceland, shopping, my reykjavik.

My London | Petersham Nurseries

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One of the things I have been most looking forward to since we have bought a car is using it to pop out to Petersham Nurseries in Richmond. I’ve got big dreams of letting the kids wander through the greenhouses and rows of plants while Tyler & I sip coffee from the deli and splurge on a candle or a couple of coffee mugs from the shop.

It’s not too far away from us- about 20 minutes by car- but would take way more time to get there and require some walking down random country roads. Basically, a major hassle.

The only problem is, Tyler would rather be pretty much anywhere other than a fancy garden center on the weekend... regardless of how much I sell him in it’s charm.

Luckily for me, Petersham Nurseries have opened a second location in Covent Garden. While the names “Nurseries” and “Garden” may indicate lush areas full of greenery, the truth is- it’s not really. It’s not a place to go if you’re looking to redo your garden. You won’t find bags of fertiliser or plastics containers of perennials for £1.49. 

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But, it does have pretty things for gardens (like copper spades and posh linen aprons) and it also sells nice things that come from gardens in its deli. The back of the store is full of florals and all the bits you need for them, including pretty staff members in aprons climbing up and down pretty ladder so nearby to arrange them for you.

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And it’s total eye candy, so I have to definitely recommend stopping by when you’re in the area.

Imagine if Anthropologie had an older, snobbier sister who had moved away to Europe, married into some aristocratic family and now makes gorgeous homemade jams in the country home with their 5 kids and two black labs. That’s kinda the vibe here... and just like you’d feel around that girl, so you’ll feel here. A bit intimidated and totally sucked in.

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The deli is small and well-curated. While the shop is narrow, it winds back and offers the chance to see (and buy!) fresh flowers that are being arranged. Expect an edited menu of sandwiches and fresh eats... and to pay £6.50 for some artisan mortadella on fresh salty ciabatta with some rocket sprinkled on. Choose from one of the photo shoot worthy sweet treats and a hot drink to finish off the experience and you’ll be on your way!

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There’s a restaurant coming on the premise soon, I’m told, and I have no doubt I’ll find myself back to try it when it opens, too. While it will most likely be pricey and hard to get into, the allure of Petersham is pretty hard to resist. Stop by their new show and I have a feeling you’ll see what I mean!


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Petersham Nurseries | 27-31 King Street, Floral Court, London, WC2E 8JD



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

What I (Actually) Wore

A few years ago, I read an article that discussed how highly successful people repeated the same basic behaviours in every day situations in order to save their time and eliminate the need for making a decision. This might be eating the exact same thing for breakfast and lunch everyday to reduce the amount of time choosing what sounds good or where you can get to in the timeframe available. It also was present in the things that they liked to enjoy for entertainment- no skipping around and wasting leisure time. Have your show/sport/hobby and commit to it.

But the area that stood out to me was that they wore the same thing everyday. Brilliant minds like Mark Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs, Queen Elizabeth, they all stick to one look that suits them and keeps life fuss free. 

When I read the article, Harrison was tiny and I was still in denial that I could actually have a healthy marriage, raise little kids, work, be involved with church, maintain a social life and look awesome while doing it.

Ha. Zuckerburg, you only wish you had it so easy. (Joking, joking.)

I started dreading finding clothes to wear because it just felt like SUCH a hassle everyday. When I read that article, the idea of a uniform really appealed to me. Taking that internal battle away from me seemed like a brilliant option for the stage of life I was in, and, slowly, I filtered out my closest to an easy arsenal of similar styles. 

The thing is, I’m at an age where I know what looks best on me and what works for all the various roles that I have to play. While I do look great in heels, they just don’t transcend from office to school-pick up to running to the store for butter. I love cute empire-waisted dresses, but attempting to feed a baby on a train in one of those may get you arrested. But I can cross over between most of those moments in my day in black skinny jeans, nice flats, a solid knit shirt and my favourite long-lasting red lipstick.

And so I present to you- my uniform. I hesitate to say “capsule wardrobe” because, the truth is, I have a closet busting with the stuff. But the style is, for the most part, the same. I do have some other items tucked away in there for special occasions… but for the most part, I’ve narrowed down what works for me at this point in my life. (And I love not doubting myself when I get dressed!)

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ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE | TEN

BLACK SKINNY JEANS | I have several pairs of black skinny jeans. I have a couple from Primark (my first pair from here is what got me into black skinny jeans!), but my favourite for work and social events are the Grace from ALLSAINTS. They’re £98, so not cheap- but definitely a better deal than many others. And I don’t worry about them not being available from season to season.

LONG COATS | The mixture between fitting my body and being what Parisian women wear make this my favourite type of coat. I have black, navy, chocolate & camel. I can dress them up or down, and they cover my bum… which is, obviously, the most important reason I wear them.

LONG TANKS | Speaking of covering my bum, I wear long tanks under every single shirt. I can’t imagine the day when these are no longer in my repitore…. But with little kids pulling on me, writing on white boards and nursing babies, this is the easiest way to cover my tummy up until I can get back to the gym… when I’m in my forties. (You’re welcome, general public.)

SHOES | I have really dialed down my shoe game, but it makes it easy to pick what to wear based on where I’m going? Night out? Tan suede Miu Miu pumps. Work or social event: wine Lanvin flats or Pretty Ballerina leopard flats. Park with kids? Slip-on converse. Work travel? Suede ankle boots or fancy trainers.

SOLID TOPS | I wear solid, long-sleeved shirts over my tanks. My torso is exceptionally long, so I really love the soft, solid bamboo range that PIKO makes. I also wear black & white stripes.

SWEATERS | Who can resist a good jumper? (Read: “sweater”) Not this girl. I like the solid colours with subtle patterns in the weaving, I like them oversized, I also like them short with a button-down underneath them.

SCARF | I always have a scarf on me or in my bag. I like a bluish-grey one I bought years ago (like this), my leopard one that matches everything (like this) or my camel coloured one that has a hole from a moth that desperately needs replacing. Between London, Paris & Scotland- I always seem to need one, and it makes feeding in public so discreet. It’s all I’ve ever used and works like a charm. My favourite are big, lightweight ones that can wrap around.

MAKEUP | I’ve actually got a post coming about what I keep in my makeup bag, but the main thing for me is black eyeliner, mascara & something for my lips. If I’m feeling low-key, I wear this from L’Oreal, if I’m feeling professional I wear this long-lasting mauve from MAC, and if I’m feeling particularly fancy or grotty- red lipstick. Forget under-eye concealer, that stuff covers exhaustion better than anything I know.


So there you have it. My basic wardrobe essentials. Do you feel like you have your look narrowed down, or do you still like exploring and changing your looks? If you do, come find me in a few years when life slows down and get me up to speed with what’s new. Ha!



Posted on November 6, 2017 and filed under shopping, everyday living, what to pack.

PACK YOUR BAGS | An NHS Maternity Ward!

A few weeks ago, I started this post, planning to share it long before our new little lady made her entrance... but life had other plans! Here's a peak into my pre-Edie state of mind- and a few tips about what to bring to an NHS maternity ward.


Well, the time has come… I’ve officially hit the state of pregnancy where I feel compelled to bring my notes everywhere I go (a weird NHS thing I’m going to explain in an upcoming vlog!), plan a childcare schedule with friends in those “just in case she comes early” scenarios, actually put together the baby crib by our bed… and pack my bag for the hospital. At 36 weeks, my stomach feels more like I swallowed a squirrel with peg legs than the sweet bumps and flutters that once tapped around inside me. You can easily identify body parts: foot! bottom! back! The time is coming near, and I gotta get my act together.

So first things first… when you are headed to your third trip to the hospital, I’ve learned to focus more on what I’ll enjoy having post-hospital trip rather than those few days in there. You see, the first time around- I was shelling out cash on items that would be useful for those few days in the hospital without much care to beyond those walls. A cute hospital gown, fancy coming-home outfits that I paid way too much for, nice slippers to waddle around the hospital in, etc. This time, I’m putting that money into items that I can enjoy long after I get out of the hospital. So here we go… what’s going in my hospital bag to have a baby through the NHS in London.

I’m working alongside WAREMAKERS for this piece, as their very cool artisan-led company inspired me into putting this kind of post together. After all, there are tons of places I could go with gorgeous handmade-items… but something felt especially right about walking into the unknown of the birth of a baby as a big adventure. So while it’s just a London hospital, I always feel like I’m going into uncharted territory. 

If you’re looking to support a great company with a great mission, and hey- actually fantastic looking items!- WAREMAKERS is going to be right up your picturesque European alley. It took me one glance at their site to get their mission, love their cool aesthetic and become a big fan of the artists and brands they bring together. I have a feeling you’ll love what they are doing, too. (Especially, if you’re like me and have a weak spot for those If-George-Clooney-were-a-bag leather bags that just get better with age that you know will be with you on holidays for years to come.)


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HOSPITAL BAG | I think for my first delivery, I literally rolled into the hospital with my things in plastic shopping bags. Ha! But as you know, third times a charm or however the saying goes. I actually didn’t have a good overnight bag (all of ours seem to be enormous roller suitcases), so this time I got an actual bag to take with me. The bag is from La Portegna  which is an incredible brand handmade in Spain- but also with a store here in Marylebone! I’m excited to remember this as “my hospital bag,” but really excited to take it with me on other adventures outside of London, too. (Also, check out their company history for the wildest inspiration you’ve ever heard of. Spoiler: It involves an exotic gift from Hemingway.)

ROBE | I like having a robe to wear in the hospital, it kind of allows for covering up all the lumps and craziness happening underneath it… especially when you have friends come by to meet your baby. It somehow adds a bit more dignity to the moment… but I always buy a cheap robe that I won’t fall in love with for ever. This is for two reasons. First, they’re going to get trashed with so many… fluids. Sorry if that’s gross, but it’s true. Secondly, I always buy up a size or two, since I’ll be wearing it in weird-post-baby-still-have-a-bump time. I bought a cute, soft-touch robe here for £10… plus, it has a cute pattern to help create a diversion from my post-delivery stupor.

SLIPPERS | Speaking of slippers, I’m still buying some. Just some really cheap ones I can throw away the second I walk out of that hospital. You see, having an NHS baby means you share recovery rooms… and bathrooms. And I have to say, the bathroom I had after Harrison was born kind of traumatised me. Not because they weren’t clean and kept up… but maybe, the potpourri of 8-10 post-delivery women and all their output was too much. So slippers are needed to go around in the hospital, but I want nothing to do with taking anything that has touched those floors back into my home. Again, I buy cheap and simple ones like these.

SOCKS | While I do want to throw away the hospital slippers as soon as possible, I do think it’s nice to have splurge on some pretty socks to keep your feet covered while sitting around with a new baby/random hospital staff/etc, so this time I’ve got a hand-knit pair of wool socks from the English designer, Jules Hogan. (I actually think for what they are, they’re worth every penny. I can’t wait to take them to Iceland, too.) So yes, skimp on slippers, but spend on some socks that you’ll love to wear during your stay.

PAJAMAS | Now, I have to have a caesarean because of previous deliveries, so I’ll actually be given a gown to wear from the hospital, but if you are having a straight-forward delivery… you deliver in your own clothes! My friends have given birth in their husbands XXL t-shirts or bras… Obviously, these are clothes that they plan to get destroyed, so if you want to buy anything new- go cheap. (I typically do a Primark run before the hospital to get all of my hospital loungewear.) Again, don’t forget to buy up a size or two from your pre-baby size. You’ll be in weird territory between maternity and regular clothes for a few days, so some cheap items that you can easily loose after are nice.

BABY (HEAD) GEAR | I’m not sure why, but this surprised me the most: a hat for my baby. I suppose that because all US- born babies get the traditional striped-hat, I was expected the same when I gave birth here. But, no. You bring your own baby hat into the delivery room.  So yes, finding a cute hat is on my mind… and harder than you think. So many are enormous and I really want a small stretchy, jersey-like one. In the meantime, I've settled for these  but am still on the search via Etsy for something handmade. (Recommendations/hand-me-downs welcome.) We used a really sweet one of Tyler’s when he was a baby for when Harrison was born, but I’d like something a bit less boyish for this little girl. First-world problems, I know.

Do you need anything else for right after they are born? They do wrap them up in a little plain white blanket/towel after delivery- but you’ll need your own swaddles and clothes for them as soon as… well, you want them dressed. 

*Since I’ve had some crazy deliveries, can anyone else weigh in on what a “regular” delivery would call for? Do you give them their first diaper/nappie? The hospital has always put that on them for us after weighing/checking them… and they even put clothes on the girls in the NICU, which was sweet, but I know not standard. Any of your experiences would be so great to hear below in the comments!

Also, is now a good time to tell you- they don’t bathe your babies after delivery. They wipe them off (mostly) and then hand them over. They say all the gunk is really good for them, and that their skin will absorb it. (Which, I have to say- has been true of my babies… and neither really had cradle cap badly. Maybe God does know what he is doing afterall! Hey!) Did I read somewhere recently where this is becoming more common in the US, too?

NURSING BRAS & TANKS | First of all, I need to say: Welcome to the next year of your life. Go ahead and splurge on these, friends. They’re going to be on your body forever and ever from this point on. Want a tattoo? Maybe do a test run and see how you like wearing the same thing everyday (like a nursing bra!) for a year to see how you like the idea of permanency on your body. Also, the longer the nursing tank the better. These are pretty good and long!

ENTERTAINMENT | Maybe you get cable in American hospitals, but after you deliver in the NHS- you’re in a shared room with curtains separating you from other new moms. It’s a free system, so I can’t complain… but you can get real bored real quick. It’s good to bring your own forms of entertainment. Some people may brings books and small hobbies like knitting, but I’m planning on vegging out completely. I’ve already started downloading movies on my Netflix app and can’t wait to pop in my headphones and zone out. (These are things moms dream of when they have impending hospital stays, amiright?.) This amazing earbud case from the Danish company, Ham/Lerche, is so cool. This simple leather pouch keeps the tangled web of earphone tragedy from happening in my bag. Plus, it’s really nice leather that just looks cooler and cooler the longer it is around. 

On this note, don’t forget chargers of any sort that you may need…. And maybe bring a portable/battery one, if you have it? That way, if you get stuck in some random room waiting for a while, you aren’t stuck without an outlet? (Not sure this has ever happened to me before, but I’ll probably toss mine in this time just in case.)

WATER BOTTLE | I have to admit, I’m a bit jealous of the hospital swag that my friends/sisters get when they have a US-born baby… especially in the form of those giant water bottles., In the early days of nursing, when you have that obscene thirst dry up your entire body as you nurse, I always think of how nice it would be to have 835 oz of ice water next to me. But we don’t get them in the UK, and we don’t even have ice… so, you know, whatever. I have purchased a water bottle or two with each kid, and leave them upstairs and downstairs so that wherever I find myself perched- I have water nearby. Bring one to the hospital, because they’ll just bring by small jugs of water and styrofoam cups for you at random.

DISPOSABLES | If you thought the above text was glamorous, just wait until we dive in here. At a NHS hospital, you bring your own party favours… as in, your own breast pads, pads/diapers, underwear (in my case, the higher the better to avoid contact with the incision), and any other type of disposable item you may also end up needing to use at home- you bring of your own to the hospital, too. 

Oh, and of course- that doesn’t just stop for you. Don’t forget your baby! They’ll need newborn diapers and cotton balls/wipes. Just make it easy and do one giant shop for it all and have it delivered to your house around 34 weeks. I also buy all the baby shampoo, nappie cream, etc at this point, too.

REGULAR PACKING ITEMS | Now that you have all the other stuff you’ll have to have, don’t forget to pack the regular items that you’d spend the night away from home with: clothes (to come home in), toiletries, makeup, etc. I had my entire bag packed and then realised I hadn’t actually packed any clothes to come home in or my toothbrush. And on that note, don’t let your husband forget to pack those kind of items, too. They don’t offer beds to them, but they can sleep in the chairs, if they want… and most new dads do want to stick around and see the baby, I’ve learned. Better to have a few items to make their life better, too, with fresh contact solution, a toothbrush and a fresh shirt or two!

I am packing all of my essential makeup items (waterproof mascara, French face cream, toothbrush, deodorant, lipgloss that never goes away) in this pretty French linen pouch from Catherine Dang. I’ve been looking for a simple pouch to put in my backpack/travel bag for ages, and this is honestly such a great find: no obnoxious glitter words on top, great design with French linen and the perfect size for stashing in a slightly larger bag, and- to be candid- a much better price than the comparable “designer” ones I found with a similarly pretty aesthetic. 


There we go. I feel like that is a pretty honest breakdown of all the “essentials.” Having a baby is cute and amazing… but it’s not always glamourous. (Though, Tyler did used to work for a Dallas-based hospital system that served champagne & lobster to new mothers in their maternity unit, so maybe it actually IS in the US suburbs or in private healthcare!) I’m sure a few more items will make their way into my bag before we leave, but I’m not sure Nutrigrain bars and outdated bags of Cadbury eggs from Easter should make the official list.

I’m really grateful though for the opportunity have such amazing (and kind!) doctors take care of us. What we have learned is: if you have a straightforward pregnancy, you’ll find no frills care without a lot of handholding… because they know that this is a really natural process and the general checkpoints along the way will get you to having a healthy baby. But for people that need help and hand-holding (Hi!I I’m Lauren, and I’m traumatised by delivery!), you’ll get the help and care you need. Being a “bells & whistles” case is never the situation you want to find yourself in, but I can tell you- when you’re there, we’ve found that the staff will be some of the most attentive and gracious people. 

For more information, you can find a list that the NHS has provided on what to pack for you hospital bag here on their official site



*Images original to Aspiring Kennedy.

*This post was made in part by sponsorship from Waremakers.

Summer Shoes for Europe

One of the things I get asked ALL THE TIME is… “What kind of shoes should I buy/pack/bring for our trip to Europe?” It’s a loaded question, as there are so many good options, but I think the main thing people want to avoid is bringing a bad options. (Which there are infinitely more of!) So I think it’s a fair question and a good topic to address. What DO you wear for shoes when traveling?

I used to have a hard stance that you want to look as much like a local as possible… but I’ve softened my views a bit. For the main reason, you aren’t experiencing Europe like a local! Most people are walking way more than most of people who live here do in a day. You need your feet to be really comfortable in a way that those of us who live here do not. Plus, when the rain comes… you keep going. Most of us will tuck back into our offices or homes. I’ve come to be sympathetic for people trying to look local… but having to be on their feet for hours longer than we are.

Plus, I’ve realised that looking like a tourist isn’t the worst thing in the world… as long as you look like a smart one. Those people who try to wear “normal” items that aren’t practical for city life look much more ridiculous. (I’m thinking of you American girl, limping through the street in huge heels that you have never worn for more than 50 feet to and from Valet Parking.) So be a tourist… just be a cool one. In fact, cool tourists are kind of the funnest people to be around anyway.

So I’ve come up with a little round-up of shoes I would REALLY wear here in the summer. Shoes that are comfortable for walking, shoes that won’t slide on and off all day… because that’s annoying not only for you but people you’re walking with. (Experience talking!) These shoes are shoes that aren’t all gladiators and strappy ankle sandals, because… well, it’s a bit colder here. Even in the summer. So while you may have some nice days and some glorious afternoons, you’ll probably still find yourself needing shoes that get you through a morning drizzle or cloudy day.

And if you’re looking for nice shoes that you can walk to dinner and a show in? Well, I’ve tried to find some that will go the distance for you. They’ll get you there without tears, or snapping your ankle in half. (At least, that was the goal.)



*image original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on April 28, 2017 and filed under shopping, what to pack.

Books Your Toddler Will Love... And You'll Love to Read

When I was pregnant with our girls, I bought so many of M. Slaseks' books. Their nursery was filled with his gorgeous books, This is London, This is Paris, This is Venice and so on. I dreamt of reading them to our kids and them falling in love with the mundane facts of cities and the quirky illustrations on each page.

Fast forward four years and our collections of books looks much different than it did when it started. First of all, our books aren't held on shelves and in pretty nooks like delicate treasures. Instead they look more like buried treasure recently uncovered by pirates. We have a giant trunk overflowing with books and the kids cycle through each on with amazing consistency.

Not all books are great. In fact, I definitely play favorites when it comes time to snuggle in with books. I thought I'd save any of you new mothers some money and point you to the best books for babies and toddlers... and books that won't make you want to gauge your eyes out either. Books that are written by people I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy hanging out with in real life.... or maybe I wouldn't. Either way, these are great books that you should add to your child's nursery.


THE GRUFFALO | A British classic that is slowly getting its way into the States. It's so good and the follow up, The Gruffalo's Child, is a good addition to the story.

MONKEY PUZZLE | While we are on the note of The Gruffalo, let's just add in any book by Julia Donaldson. There are quite a few, but this one never seems to get old and kids love to laugh throughout it at all the animals. (Note: while the title on our side of the pond is "Monkey Puzzle," in the States, it's called "Where's My Mom?" Why the change? Who knows.)

ELMER | Oh Elmer, the sweet patchwork elephant. This book is a sweet story about an elephant who is born different than the rest of his herd and we love it so much we even have a plush animal of Elmer, too.

THIS IS NOT MY HAT | We loooove this book- equally for its quirky plot line and cool illustrations. This is a dad favourite at bedtime, for sure. In fact, anything by Jon Klassen seems to be one of his favourites.

PEEPO | This peek-a-boo style book is gorgeous. It features a baby's day in 1940's England. The drawings are nostalgic and detailed and the rhyming is fun to read aloud. We love this book and both kids still love to shout "PEEPO!" as we turn the pages to see what the baby has seen at each part of his day. A very sweet read and would make a great gift.

THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA | If you want a fun book with a very English feel, this book is what you need... from tea time sweets, a very English flat shown for the home, to an ending of a dinner of sausages & ice cream. And of course, a friendly tiger who stops by unannounced. 

BARNYARD DANCE | I think this was he very first baby book we ever received- and it came from a friend with a toddler, so she knew what she was doing. Anything by Sandra Boynton is gonna be great. Fun rhymes with silly animals-it's a good time.

BUSY BEAR | Good old Busy Bear. These books are perfect for toddlers, as each page has something they can spin, lift, push or slide. The books are cheap and one of my favourite gifts to get for a baby on their first birthday.

WENDY & THE WALLPAPER CAT | The V&A publishes their own children's books and this is one of my favourites. It has a cute story of a little girl facing bedtime trouble with a backdrop of gorgeous wallpapers. The wallpapers in the book are all patterns from the archives at the V&A and gorgeous.

I AM A BUNNY | This is currently Harrison's favourite book. He brings it around the house with him, tosses it on my lap and yells "Bunny!" I equally love this book- it's beautifully illustrated and gives a good overview of the changes between seasons. Definitely a classic you should have in your child's library.

THE MARVELLOUS SQUISHY ITTY BITTY | This is a book that Viola loved when she was about to turn three. It's got a quirky story about a little girl running around her (French) town looking for a gift for her mom. The drawings are cool and you'll like reading it, too. (Another title change for our American friends -- "The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy." I don't like that quite as much, but what can you do?)

IS YOUR MAMA A LLAMA | This silly book about baby animals is catchy and you'll find yourself quoting it back to yourself long after your child has stopped reading it. It's a classic and you'll enjoy reading it with your kids... especially, if/when they go through an animal obsession as it teaches them some less common animals than most books featuring the same lineup of barnyard animals.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 27, 2017 and filed under kids, shopping, everyday living, family.

Peggy Porschen | A Piece of Cake

I toyed with the idea of hosting a Christmas party for our friends, but it started getting complicated and ended up feeling like showing up would be more a gift my friends gave me rather than a night to take care of them. So I scratched it, and instead ended up with a few solo dates with friends to celebrate Christmas with them before the big day.

Instead of gifts, they've ended up being dates with friends (or couples we love), and I have to say- I think this may become a new tradition. Because who wouldn't rather have a sweet afternoon with a friend instead of another candle? 

For my date with Amber, we wanted to do something pretty that we normally can't do with little ones in tow. So we headed for Chelsea in an uber- which normally takes way too long to reach via public transport with strollers- and went straight to the pink mecca of sweets, Peggy Porschen.

We ordered a round of cupcakes (salted caramel which has a caramel filling that's rich like Christmas toffee), an unrealistically perfect wedge of Victoria Sponge, jasmine tea & the cutest cappuccino this side of Buckingham Palace.

The place is sweet and tiny- definitely not one you can always count on getting a table at. (It's constantly flowing with well-heeled Instagrammers and their obliging boyfriends.) If the weather is nice, you can also grab a cosy table outside offering a view of one of the prettiest corners in London.

After we went to Peggy Porschen, we walked to Sloane Square- about ten minutes away- and then down the Kings Road. We listened to the Salvation Army band playing outside Peter Jones, tried on shoes on sale at half-price in LK Bennett, peeked at the glam crowd in The Ivy, and eventually ended up in a nail salon getting pedicures.

Soon after, the clock struck midnight (or 6:00pm) and we had to dash home back to life as we knew it.

We hugged each other goodbye, wished each other Merry Christmas and thanked each other for being a great friend to the other in the past year- which really is the most precious gift someone can give.

It really must mean I'm getting older and more boring when I can't think of anything I "want" for Christmas... but on nights like that, I realise I have more than I need.

Peggy Porschen | 116 Ebury St, Belgravia, London SWIW 9QQ


It's hard not to be in a place like Peggy Porschen and not get sweeped up in the Candyland cuteness! Here are a few items inspired by our day out.
 

One | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE | TEN



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Anthropologie Gift Guide 2016

For me, there's an undeniable nostalgia and excitement that comes from walking into a mall at Christmas time with a list of presents to buy. I remember as a kid, we would all head to the mall and split up in groups to take care of finding everything on our list. I'd always have to be talked down from buying my mom a bejewelled brooch from the ladies section of Dillard's- thanks, dad- and would spend a while wandering around until I found a less obnoxious alternative. After a successful find, our little group would run bags out to the car and throw blankets over them to keep them hidden.

Running around together with Christmas carols playing, sales clerks in Santa Hats and the endless lines for Santa and Starbucks wrapping down the halls- it all added up to a moment that really only came at Christmas and signalled that we were just a few days away from Christmas!

While I love dashing around the high street in England for shopping these days, I loved going up to Brent Cross and wandering around inside the cosy mall in its Christmas hustle. It just felt like how Christmas should be.

I went up to see the new Anthropologie that opened this month. Needless to say, the combo of Anthropologie styling and holiday decor made it feel like I'd walked on to a movie set. (How do they always do that?)

They asked me to pick my ten favourite items for holidays gifts… which was no hard task! The only hard part was trying to find gifts for people other than myself. :)

ONE  | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE | TEN

But really, this was the tip of the iceberg of what they have in store. While online might save time, you really need to make a day out of it and head to Brent Cross for a real Christmas shopping day.


Do you have fun memories of Christmas shopping? Or better yet- have you ever been a crazy Black Friday shopper? (I haven't ever been in person- just online!)



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on December 5, 2016 and filed under shopping, holiday, home style.

Pack Your Bags | York's Teddy Bear Tea Room

Hello from a train to Edinburgh. The rain drops on the windows compete in number to the fingerprints of my children. Ha! Only 46 minutes left, but who's counting?

I wanted to share this adorable stop in York that has become a favourite on mine in the past few years: Stonegate Teddy Bears. While the store downstairs will lure in children with its shop windows stuffed with, you guessed it, teddy bears- the tiny tea room upstairs is what will get mom & dad to gladly stick around.

The Teddy Bear Tea Room

Perched above the adorable Stonegate Teddy Bear shop in the city centre of York is the Teddy Bear Tea Room.

Wind your way up the stairs to the second floor (well, third, if you're an American) and head to the room on the left. If the table by the window is open, snag it and enjoy the gorgeous views of the nearby York Minster.

The menu has been newly expanded to a range of items that spans across your daily meals- from breakfast, lunch and tea. While there are endless option listed, make sure to ask about the daily rotation of cakes- as they are homemade and absolutely worth getting.

While portions may be bigger than you might expect, don't worry- I can proudly say that a single person can polish off a slice on their own.

The room was decorated for Christmas and Michael Bublé's Christmas album was playing on the speakers. With the cold winter night coming out above the street and the Christmas mood set, I realised that it was officially that time of year. What a way to start the festive season!


My mom heard we were going and offered to buy each of the kids a teddy bear. (Classic Grandma move.) Viola immediately found the most sparkly one with a pink scarf and named her "Cinderella Bear Two," as "Cinderella Bear" is at home on her bed. Harrison grabbed a panda, among 40 other items, but since this was the cheapest and cutest- we decided that was the one for him. He hasn't touched it since.

We love the Teddy Bear Tea Room and it's one of those simple stops that makes traveling to the same place a fun adventure for us... and our kids, too! ;)

Find more of our favourite places in York here, as well as my travel guide to England here.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy
 

Free Tutorial | The Perfect English Scones

This week, all of my students came over to our house for a special guest lecturer: Geraldine. Now, you may not know Geraldine- but for those of us that are lucky enough to know her, you'll know she is an amazing organiser... and a willing partaker in sweets.

Many of my favourite memories with her involve wandering the streets of Italy in search of a(nother) cup of gelato or eating her pavlova in the garden after Sunday lunch, but... my favourite memory has to be one rainy day when Viola was tiny. Geraldine had invited me over and we both arrived to her house a bit drippy from the rain. As I peeled off wet layers off us and sat Viola on the carpet to play, Geraldine walked in from the kitchen with a small mountain of hot scones, mugs of tea and small bowls of clotted cream and jam. It was a simple moment that was so lovely and warm.

And now, I force her to recreate it for my students. That'll teach her to be less charming. Ha! :)

The day was perfect- her in her Cath Kidston apron and matching oven mitt, her cute authoritative statements on scones as someone from Cornwall ("scone" as in gone, and not "scone" as in stone), and watching her wander from group to group helping them roll out the dough to the perfect height before cutting.

And whaddaya know? The scones came out perfect- just like they do every time.

And Geraldine had Viola and Harrison following her every move... just like they do every time, too.

If you're looking for a classic -and simple!- scone recipe, here's Geraldine's recipe. What my students pay for in credit hours, you get for free. (Just pay me back in an invite when you make them, please?)


Scones

Ingredients: 

  • 225 g/8 oz of self-raising flour

  • pinch of salt

  • 55 g/2 oz butter

  • 25 g/1 oz caster sugar (or standard white sugar in U.S.)

  • 150 ml/5fl oz milk

  • milk to glaze

Method: 

  • Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

  • Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter.

  • Stir in the Sugar and then the milk to get a soft dough.

  • Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm/0.75in thick. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up. 

  • Brush the tops of the scones with milk.

  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.

  • Cool on a wire rack and serve with butter and good Jam and maybe some clotted cream. 




*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

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 : 



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Our Home | Smart Spaces & Uncommon Goods

 

Every night, Tyler and I climb into bed and sigh... "I LOVE OUR NEW HOUSE." It's true. I can't believe how much our quality of life has improved with a bit more space. The exta two stops on the Central Line are worth it. While I thought I would forever leave a piece of me in Notting Hill, I can confidently say.... I did not. It's all here with me in our new house, and both me and my in-tact heart couldn't be happier.

There's a huge long story about our house and how we found it, but... I'll save that for another day with a bigger selection of pictures to show you. I was prompted by a really neat company, Uncommon Goods, to share a few peeks out our home. Uncommon Goods has really quirky and unique gifts and, well, uncommon items. But what I really like about them is that they have a great ethos- supporting fair employee wages and benefits and also donating a portion of their sales to your choice of charities. Cool, right? (Plus, I also kinda love their selection of personalized gifts for anniversaries. You'll see what I mean!)

So today, I'm sharing a share a few peeks at our new digs and some of the special things inside them that make it feel ours. So while it's not an entire home tour, how about this.... a handul of little nooks and things that I love in our new home.

 


 

EN-SUITE BATHROOM

I've always rolled my eyes at people's obsessions with "en-suite" bathrooms on the home shows here. I mean, is it really so hard to leave your bedroom to use the bathroom? Well, we lucked out with one here. I can't tell you the gift that having an exta bathroom has given to our marriage. We have never lived in a place with more than one tiny bathroom. It's even converted me to love showers more than baths, which has never been the case until this glorious little nook of hygiene appeared.

 

 

OLD-FASHIONED FOOTED TUB

Okay, I do prefer the shower on the daily routine... BUT, when I can score an hour to sit in this bobsled-esque tub downstairs, I feel like the luckiest woman alive. Toss in some rosewater and powdered milk and it's a dreamiest, steamiest milk bath there is. (Warning: All guests of our home will have a rose milk bath forced upon them. It's my new love language.)

Plus, bathing the kids in it everynight is one of the prettiest and calmest times of my day.

 

 

THE GARDEN

It may be the size of a pickup truck, but the mental freedom that arrives with being about to go outside without getting everyone dressed and pushed out a park? AMAZING. I sit out there sans decent clothing with a popsicle and music blaring as much as possible.

My kids are quickly learning from my example, too.

chairs, amazon

 

 

THE PLAYROOM

Some might call this an office. Others might call it a small bedroom. We call it the playroom. It could have been Harrison's room, but we decided to keep the kids in the same space... and, more importantly, their toys in another (enclosed/hideable) space. Harrison wakes up early, so each morning I haul him there, coffee in hand, and perch on the sofa while he plays. On the wall are pictures from places we have lived and loved. The pillows follow suit with a Union Jack and two embroidered State pillows that I really love. (Again, Uncommon Goods!)

couch, ASDA | throw, peacock alley | state cushions, uncommon goods

 

 

ALL AROUND THE TABLE

I think the thing that I was the MOST excited about after we signed for this house was the dining room. You see, we have been living with small dinettes shoved into our living rooms as "breakfast nooks" for the past 5 years. They were awkward and the proximity of baby food debris to the living space was always a messy chore. Now, the mess is still there- but just, you know, in a place where it should be.

In the midst of being overwhelmed with the prices of dining tables, I stumbled upon a carpenter in Cambridge who had some great tables on sale. I even picked out the Farrow & Ball paint color and had him deliver it to me for £300. Can you believe that? It's perfect for the space. The chairs I got from Amazon, 8 of them for £140, but they seem to be a tiny bit higher priced for the US.

I didn't have any dishes here (they had always been provided in our past rentals), so I ordered a basic white set for 8 people from Gilt for only $120 (including international shipping). I think they fill out the room in a really easy way.

table, the farmhouse workshop | chairs, amazon | vase, west elm | dishes, gilt group | wall art, monoqi

 

OPEN SHELVES IN THE KITCHEN

I'm not sure why it is so gratifying to be able to see your dry goods lined up on a shelf... but, what can I say? It is. Call me a cliche, but a happy one. It feels so nice to see the staples right there without having to dig around in the back of our cabinets.

glasses, bodum | bird vase, uncommon goods

 

*       *       *

 

To be honest, as I've been writing this, I've been thinking of so many other things that I could put on this list... but I'm gonna stop here. I'm gonna quit while I'm ahead. Except for this one little tiny PSA: If you're living in a TINY urban space (especially with kids or pets) and it's making you crazy, consider moving out just a bit. We are 10 minutes from the door of our old flat, and, yet, our world is so changed. I still feel totally connected to the heart of London, and, in some ways, even more so.

 

Our neighbors came and introduced themselves, we can actually get into great schools and the list goes on.... I encourage you to let loose of the idea of what you address you think you need to really experience "London" and see what you might get in return!

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

*this post was sponsored by Uncommon Goods.

 

 

Posted on July 6, 2016 and filed under everyday living, home style, shopping.

Granada: It's All White.

 

Earlier this week, I got the chance to visit La Alhambra in Granada. I've heard about La Alhambra, but I'll tell you the truth: I was blown away with how beautiful it was. It's hard to describe, but I really liked the way Lonely Planet summarized it, so I'll leave it to them.

 

The Alhambra is Granada’s – and Europe’s – love letter to Moorish culture, a place where fountains trickle, leaves rustle, and ancient spirits seem to mysteriously linger. Part palace, part fort, part World Heritage site, part lesson in medieval architecture, the Alhambra has long enchanted a never-ending line of expectant visitors. As a historic monument, it is unlikely it will ever be surpassed – at least not in the lifetime of anyone reading this. (Read more here.)

 

Much better than I could have done. My summary can only be summed up as shaded courtyards, the smell of sweet oranges, cool white marble and sprawling gardens.

Now that you have a bit of an idea of what La Alhambra is, you're gonna need to take a look at it's amazing architecture and design. I was blown away... and the thing is, it's not just a tiny section of the building that is in this intricate style.


It's an entire hilltop fortress. It sprawls over the mountain and building after building mirrors this gorgeous craftsmanship. Yet, while the skill is endlessly dotted around the entire fortress, each area is unique. You really have to see it to believe it.

Also, I've been getting asked to bring back my style/shopping guides that I used to pair with my posts. So in the spirit of the soon-coming warmer months and the gorgeous white walls of La Alhambra, here are some easy picks that I'd love to take back with me on my next visit to Granada.



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy


*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 12, 2016 and filed under travel, spain, shopping.

£100 + A Babysitter | The World is My Oyster.

 

A few weeks ago,  my friend Natalie invited me to go out on a girls day. I was excited because I never get to see my friend Natalie. When I found out that Travelex was giving her/us £100 to spend on a "perfect London day," well... duh, I was even more excited. £100 to spend with a friend around London? Obviously, I jumped at the chance. After all, I'm only human/desperate housewife.

No official day out in London would be complete without terrible weather, and yucky, cold weather was just what was on the menu for our day out. We started the day with a quick visit to Selfridges to pick up our Currency Card from the Travelex desk. (My first time to use these, but maybe a new favorite recommendation for traveling- protected debit card with your choice of currency at the best rate and only a small service fee. More info here, if you're interested.) Then off we went down Regent Street to...

Burberry. I mean, we only had £100, so it wasn't really our day to cash in on a classic trench, but we did get to feel fancy eating in Burberry's cool new restaurant, Thomas's. We had buttermilk pancakes with a slab of honeycomb and rhubarb compote, eggs & soldiers and "perfectly cut grapefruit" (which was hilariously emphasized everytime it was mentioned by the waitstaff.)

It was really fun being there, but I can't say it's a must-do for your trip to London. The food was mediocre, the hostesses were really good at rolling their eyes and the whole concept kinda felt like someone had thrown some tables in the middle of a department store.  (Just trying to be honest for anyone that was as eager as I to try it out.)

IMG_7346.JPG

But the coffee was good and so was the company, so we put the tab on our little Travelex card and left happy.

We wandered down Regents Street and waxed poetically about how much we love this cool city.

Then we trotted down through Piccadilly Circus and down to Trafalgar to the National Gallery. In case you haven't noticed from my Instagram, I spend a lot of time in museums in London.

Between work/school/kids/private guiding- I'd say that I average at least one visit a week, but I hardly get to the National Gallery. It was a nice treat to spend a rainy morning walking around it and just absorbing the buzz of people seeing it for the first time. 

After we had our fix on Turner, we headed off for our final destination.

Cheap massages! I looked up spa after spa, but couldn't find anything that would fit our budget... so Natalie dug up a little hole in the wall off Leicester Square, Sensé Spa. Hilariously dingy, but super cheap and actually felt amazing. (Though kinda cold, since I was in a basement and the space heater was only working at half capacity. ha!)

And what girls day would be complete without a cheesy faux-candid shot overlook Trafalgar Square? None, I dare say.

Anyway, it was a great day out- Selfridges, Burberry, Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar, National Gallery, Sleazy Massage Parlous... Doesn't get more London than that! If anyone else wants to invite me to toot around London (or Paris! or New York! I'm not picky!) with free money to spend, just know I'm game. 

 

Now it's your turn... 

How would you spend a £100 in London? 

 



 

*images original to aspiring kennedy

Posted on February 2, 2016 and filed under london, shopping, my london favourites.

On the Web. Off the Racks.

Public Service Announcement: Forget Black Friday. Forget After Christmas Sales. Forget everything you think you know about when to save money while shopping, because the moment, my friends, is now. (And over the next few weeks.)

I don't often work with fashion brands here, because I'm not a fashion blogger. The clothes that I often buy and love are on sale. Deep, deep sale. My big moments are late January/early Feb and summer sale time just before the fall clothes arrive.

This late-late seasonal shopping won't get you any outfits that coordinate, but will end you with pieces that you really love because they were originally a gazillion dollars and you got them for $74 with an additional 30% off sale. And over time, I've learned that I'd rather have my closet full of items that I really like rather than items that all matched for a season or look. 

When I'm asked to link up outfits that I wear, all I can say is- I can't. My outfits are comprised of random sale rack finds long past their existence on-line or random pieces picked up on trips from tiny stores. To try to put together a look made up entirely of items that exist on-line at that moment seems crazy. Like, I really look at Like To Know It posts by fashion bloggers as some crazy thing. Who can buys that many new clothes that still have links?! 

But- I can tell you that these are the shops I scour on-line and in-store this time of year to pillage.

BARNEYS | I know it sounds fancy, but they have the best coats and I love getting them on sale. Actually, their early summer sale is even better for coats, but the one happening now is pretty great.

BARNEYS WAREHOUSE | The less fancy, but sometimes really awesome sister to Barneys online. Take an extra 70% (!!!) off sale right now.

ANTHRO | Right now, get another 20% off sale. Getcha some of those ikat bowls you never wanted, but can now toss all your bracelets in.

JCREW | Extra 40% off sale right now with "GETSHOPPING"

GAP | 75% off still happening PLUS an extra 40% this weekend ("LNGWKND"). These sales are where I buy at least half of the kids clothes.

GILT | I used to love Gilt, then I was over it, and while I'm still generally not too thrilled- you can find some deals in the final clearances. A lot of the kids have an extra 30% off now.

LIBERTY | Okay, I think that their online sale is terrible- BUT in store, they have great deals at this point. Like, nothing makes sense- it's all random buckets of leftovers, but I've found some amazing designer shoes and adorable liberty print bloomers there for around £5. It's not glamorous, but if you can make it in store- do it!


 

Okay. That's it. Get to it. Some of those codes expire soon! 


Are there any great online sales that you really like? Hook me up- the deeper the discount the better.

Posted on January 18, 2016 and filed under shopping, everyday living.

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