2012- An (Aspiring) Year in Review

Only a few more hours left here in England
until 2013 makes its way into our lives
and 2012 is gone for good.

{Except for our facebook timeline & Instagram feeds.}

Isn't it funny how certain years stand out in our minds as good, solid years...
while some years are just so miserable
you can't wait to lock them up and forget about them completely?

I hope that 2012 hasn't been one of those years for you,
but if it has- have hope!

Life is good
and better days will be back soon.

I love using this blog to record what is going on in our lives.

In the midst of chaos,
it helps to have an outlet to journal what all we do & what we see...
and it also helps me remember what all happened.

{Sometimes I'm fairly certain I have the memory of a golden retriever.}

So here we go...
the highlights of 2012-
a year that I am happy to pack away
with good thoughts and fond memories.













Our 2012 Christmas Card.


That line up makes me tired just reading.

When I see it in writing, I realize just how much traveling we actually do...
which works out well, since we love it & my job requires it.

Who knows what 2013 will bring for us,
but I know that regardless of it is the same or different,
it's going to be good.

Happy New Years Eve!

I'll catch you on the flip side... but until then,
what's been a highlight of 2012 for you?

It's (still) a Wonderful Life.

As we straddle the end of Christmas
and await NYE celebrations,
I'm finding myself in the middle of a quick downshift
from the holiday madness.

While most of the time,
the buzz around the holidays is referred to with a roll of the eyes,
I actually love the holiday madness
and this year, we found it especially hard to give up.

After spending the first half of December in the States,
we headed back to London
to host my (entire!) family
for a very special Christmas in London.

It was magical and perfect
and all that you could really hope for...
minus the constant drizzle of rain!

So after we said goodbye to the last of our entourage yesterday,
we found ourselves moping about in our flats
and feeling a little claustrophobic.

It was time for some fresh air
and a reminder that life was still going on
and how absurdly lucky we are to be living in a great place...
even if that sometimes means you are far away from people you love.

We headed out feeling pretty fussy.

grabbed some beverages for the journey....

and wandered down to Portobello Road.

I've found that walking around Notting Hill, 
makes it hard to stay blue
when everything else is so bright and cheery.

Sometimes this place can even make me prance a little.

When we arrived to the market,
we headed straight to Poundland where we refilled
on essentials like batteries & shower gel.

Then we stocked up at Cath Kidston's after Christmas sale with £6 of goods.

The streets were full of people who were wandering around
and enjoying the adventure of being somewhere fun.

"Chinease Pears?" Hmm....

The feeling soon became contagious 
and, as the rain started to fall harder,
our spirits lifted back to a state of normalcy.

I may have even slipped on some rain water at a deli
and flailed my bulbous pregnant-self down a flight of stairs
into a horrified audience of people eating dinner
 earning me one of the world's ugliest bruises on my butt.

But somehow, 
even that didn't really matter.

By the time we got back home,
we were normal again
and I even made a homemade chicken pot pie.

{Which would indicate I was feeling obscenely better than average.}

I hope that where ever you are today between the holidays,
you find yourself happy & content!

{And far away from any slick stairs.}

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Life In These United States

... while this blog has been quiet
since I flew home to the States,
life has been anything but that.

It's been full of spending time with people that I love,
doing things that jolly England just doesn't offer ($20 pedicures, anyone?),
being spoiled at showers for our quickly-approaching arrivals,
and eating more dairy/carbs/fat than I can articulate.

I have one baby that was leaning a bit on the scrawny side at our last scan
so I'm doing my best to stock up on extra calories while I'm here
to help a sister out.

Who said motherhood was a selfless gig?

The other day, I cruised through the grocery store with my mom
to grab a few things for dinner.

Typically, I can adapt fairly easily between cultures
but at times- 
I find myself reeling in a bit of reverse culture shock.

I'll find myself in a situation that seems so foreign and forgotten
and it leaves me confused on what to do next.

Items that I once needed in past years
 that are now frivolous, forgotten and slightly disgusting.

Yet somehow, their unexpected appearance
 leaves me with an urge to stockpile them 
with the fervor of a suburban mom at a strip mall on Black Friday.

And that's exactly how I ended up
walking out of the grocery store 
with one gallon of peppermint ice cream,
a can of orange cinnamon rolls,
an assortment of flavored coffee creamers
& seven boxes of Kraft macaroni & cheese.

So here's the plaguing question...
who doesn't like orange cinnamon rolls
and how can I change your mind?

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Homeward Bound- The AK Movie

Today I'm flying to the States
for a short visit home
to be pampered by some really amazing women
who are spoiling our babies with showers.

{We feel pretty loved.}

I'm flying solo on this leg
until Tyler arrives later next week.

While that may seem pretty standard,
it's actually a thought that is rocking my world.

I've flown these long-hauls flights so many times alone over the years.

Whether I was flying home from a summer in Africa in college,
flying to/from a trade show in Italy for work,
or heading to the States while Tyler was in classes at Oxford,
I'm pretty used to doing this on my own.

So the idea that this will probably be the last time I do this journey alone 
for the unforeseeable future 
is kinda rocking my world.

I made this video last year 
for an American Airlines promo last year
and, for some silly reason,
it still gets me when I watch it.

Something about traveling, family, heading home, Coldplay...
well, it just combines so many things that I love in one short little clip.

Bon Voyage!

Is it bad luck to wish that for yourself? 

Oh well! 

With as much as my back aches while sitting these days, 
I'm taking all the self-prescribed well wishes I can get. :)

It's a Pretty Big Day: Baby Royal On The Way.

I think the two babies I'm carrying
are the most important children in the world.

I enjoy the world stopping everything
and celebrating the resplendent fruit of my uterus.

with today's big news
coming from St. James Palace,
I'm happy to share the limelight.


Who knows when this little bundle of royal goodness is due
(as no due dates have been released yet),
but I think it's safe to say:
I'll be spending my summer
doing circles around Kensington Gardens
trying to shed some baby weight...
and in a pathetically obvious attempt
to bump into the happy little family.

PS. Have you heard the crazy rumor
that her hospitalizing condition, hyperemesis gravidarum, 
is more common in mothers carrying twins?

Well, I had never heard of it before-
which makes me think people are slightly overreacting.

(Remember the whole "peanut butter" absurdity last fall?)

Though, if it were in fact true-
I can't say that I'd be mad to learn
that we were both carrying two babies.

It'd just align our trajectory of being friends all the closer...
and make the two of us, well, twins.

Emotions, screaming, fanfare welcome below.

I want to be cool about all of this, but I'm going to fail miserably.

Juicy News from PULP.

Our flat is really cute
...if I may say so myself.

With it's big bright windows,
white walls & hardwood floors...
it just feel exactly like
a flat in Notting Hill should.

While it may have a winning bone structure,
it has a long way to go in the finish out.

{Editor's Note: Yes, that would be my fault entirely.}

When you live in a rented space,
it's always tough to balance what you want to do
and what you are allowed to do in someone else's space.

After hours of clicking through Pinterest,
wasting nearly an entire tree from sketching out ideas on printing paper,
and wandering aimlessly around IKEA,
I gave up and
decided it was time to call in the experts.

 and begged principal designer, Beth Dotolo, 
to take on our tiny nursery
and our even-smaller budget for the room.

I was just hoping that our space could have a PULP look-
one that would be both clean & luxe all at the same time.

Guess what?

Not only is Beth helping us,
but she's done an awesome job
of staying in our budget
and creating a look that, I think,
is out of this world.

It's perfect for our style,
for our rental constraints,
and... well, we can totally afford it
which makes me happy.

{Editor's Note: It's all still in the works- but once it's finished, I'll share it with you!}

So what does all of this baby room nonsense have to do with you?

Well, this morning
PULP Design Studios
has had a little baby of their own...

Yes, a store that sells luxe+modern merchandise 
that they have designed and produced.

The shop is stocked full of amazing pieces 
-both large & small-
that you've seen dotted around their spaces
in press mentions or on your home board on Pinterest.

The best part is-
Beth is a fellow blogger (Hello, Splendor)
and there is very little that makes me happier
than to see a fellow blogger grow their dreams.

I love when people in our community succeed
and their businesses thrive...
kinda leaves me with a lump in my throat.

Congratulations, Pulp Home!
{Remember us little guys when you're famous. }

*photography by Kevin Dotolo

Pack Your Bags: Dublin, Ireland

I'll be honest,
I might have Irish heritage
but Dublin is one place
I really don't connect with.

You know how some places just speak to you
and you feel, somewhere in your soul, a prickly feeling 
that can quickly escalate the enjoyment you feel over a lunch
into the hopes & dreams of someday relocating to that city
in order to recreate that experience every day?

Dublin isn't one of those places for me.

While it may not be my favorite city on the planet,
I can tell you that it's a place that you should visit once in your life...
just to experience real Irish culture up close & personal.

Because Irish culture really is charming...
but, dare I say it, better experienced out of this landmark city?

Since part of my job is to facilitate that once-in-a-lifetime experience for others,
I do know a few things that can help make sure that your trip to Dublin a bit luckier.


What to Do:

Visit Trinity College and see the famous Book of Kells-
gorgeous hand-written copies of the first Celtic Bible.

After you've worked through the exhibit, 
you'll be routed through the famous library
that you've probably pinned on your Pinterest travel board.


Take a tour with Lorcan Collins.
This guide is always one of my students favorite guides of the semester- hands down.

His tours aren't just walking tours of the city,
but are tours that explain the Easter Uprising of 1916.

{Think Tom Branson from Downton Abbey.}

He's completely Irish, incredibly smart, alarmingly sarcastic... but really a sweet guy.

The tours run every day from 11:30 (1pm on Sundays)
from March 1 - October 31 for €12 per person.


Visit Temple Bar.

Not an actual bar, per say,
but an area of town that is pretty touristy
but full of endless pubs that will make your visit
seem all the more authentic.


Tour the Guinness Factory...
Okay, so I'll be honest:
 I've never done this myself
but I've heard it's amazing and a must.

So therefore, you must do it and tell me all about it.

Where to Eat:

Ok, this is kinda cheesy to recommend
but you're in Ireland and it's actually kind of fun...

Go to the Arlington Hotel for their Irish dinner show.
It's €30 per person but you get dinner
(a really decent 3-course meal)
and you can watch some fun Irish music & dancing.

I've been twice. 

It's totally touristy, 
but hey, you are a tourist, aren't you?

{Editor's Note: If you're just up for the music & dancing,
 you can go in after the show starts after 8:30pm and sit at the bar instead. 
Shh... I didn't tell you that.}


Go to the Queen of Tarts for lunch or tea...
or both, if you're a fat kid like me.

This place is so cute! 

Eat a savoury tart
and then relax with a sweet homemade treat
and a fresh pot of hot tea.

Where to Stay:

If you're on the cheap... You can book a room at Trinity College. Like, an actual dorm room.
The rooms are affordable, centrally located, right near the airport shuttle-
but only available when students aren't living in them.


This is a historic hotel that often offer some affordable rates.
The breakfast is entirely Irish- complete with Irish oats & soda bread,
but the rooms, while slightly basic, are comfortable and have everything you'll need.

Plus, the front desk staff is so nice-
I swear you'll want to hug them before your stay is over.

Located right off O'Connell Street- right off the River Liffey.


This is one of the "nicest" hotels in Dublin...
but I have to say, if you find yourself in a standard room-
you'll know that the hotel reviewers had an upgraded room.

The rooms, while really large, lack any feeling of luxury...
and are very hard to keep warm in colder months.

The downstairs is nice for teas and drinks,
but unless you are willing to splurge on a nicer room
or find an amazingly cheap rate (like I did),
you can take or leave staying at this famous hotel.


So there you have it...
all my thoughts and ideas
to help give you a good starting point 
for planning your trip to Dublin.

Have you been?
Weigh in with your favorite places/meals/sites below
and help other people plan a great stay in Ireland!

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Go Here: Clarinda's Tea Room in Edinburgh

When I'm traveling with my students,
I'm a bit of a sucker for routine.

You see, I'm often doing a similar circuit
that is really fast-paced,
so I enjoy a bit of normalcy in the midst of the whirlwind.

I tend to stick to my pre-approved list of good things
and spend the rest of my time staring blankly at the ceiling of my hotel room
trying to recover and plan for the day ahead.

But sometimes, even in the midst of exhaustion & routine,
you find that places can still charm & surprise you...
like I was in Edinburgh this week.


I was heading up the Royal Mile from Holyrood Palace
right as Tyler was arriving at our hotel from the train station.

{Editor's note: Yes, he arrived a day later than I did
because home boy now has three ladies to support
and is feeling some pressure to work some wee longer hours.}

As I huffed my way up the hill in the cold,
I saw a cute little tea room named Clarinda's 
that seemed to be glowing from the window.

I texted Tyler if he wanted to walk down to meet me there instead
and he said he'd be there in ten minutes.

When I walked in the creaky door,
I was patting myself on the proverbial back 
for choosing to stop in this gem.

Tiny bouquets of flowers sat on
lace tablecloths draped over the tables...

Blue & white china hung spattered along the wall...

A table full of baked goods lay before me
glowing with the splendour of a pirates chest 
overflowing with golden coins & jewels...

And the menu had so many of my favorite things
at ridiculously cheap prices.

I was in heaven!

Please add this cozy stop to your visit to Edinburgh...
and pretty-please try the carrot cake.

Find Clarinda's on the Royal Mile

Just walk down and you'll find it 
near the bottom of the Royal Mile on your left-
sitting somewhere between the Canongate Kirk
(where economist Adam Smith is buried)
and the new parliament building near Holyrood Palace.


For more of my favorite things in Scotland, 
click here for additional posts.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Being Gifted: The Hostess Gift

I'm writing this from a ferry in between Wales & Ireland
as I make the last leg of the final trip
for my fall semester with my group.

Predictably, it's foggy and cold outside
but inside the ferry it's warm 
and I'm nursing a cup of tea
while my eye wanders back and forth from my computer
to the fat wedges of carrot cake sitting at the ship's cafe.

Speaking of fat,
my belly is getting pretty big these days.

I can officially no longer button my regular pants,
have split one pre-maternity dress all the way up the backside,
and have started being asked by strangers when I'm due.

At the finale of my semester and 24 weeks,
I now have the ability to tell when my babies are sleeping or awake,
and the awakening sensation that "this" is actually happening.

I'm going to have two babies...
and it's not going to be that far away.

Besides the tragic blowout of that dress, 
the other mile marker that is making all of this seem real
are my upcoming baby showers.

I'll be headed back to the States next week 
for two showers and an early Christmas in Oklahoma.

While I've been happily stocking our registry
full of cute things might someday fill our little flat,
I've also been shopping around for a way to say thanks
to the friends and family who are graciously sharing 
in this exciting time by hosting baby showers for me.

Hostess gifts are alway tricky for me.

What I want to buy and what I can afford to buy
for all of these great women
is a difficult equation to crack.

Today, I'm loving these new books
that my long-time favorite stationer & design studio,
Mr. Boddington has designed for these Penguin classics.

   All $17.99 at Anthropologie: Little Women | Jane Eyre | Pride & Prejudice | Sense & Sensibility | Alice In Wonderland

Classics like Pride & Prejudice, Alice & Wonderland & Jane Eyre
have been made to look oh-so-lovely.

I love any addition that can pretty up any home
without infringing on too much space.

{I'm not sure I can say the same for these two babies.}

You all have pretty good taste...
help me a sister out.

What's a hostess gift you have given/received that you loved?

Thanksgiving Goes Global

There are a lot of reasons to be thankful tomorrow.

When you're surrounded by people you love,
eating delicious food in lovely homes,
and enjoying the luxury of PTO...
it's easy to remember how good life is.

It's a little hard to feel those same feelings
when you are an ocean away
living in a country
that doesn't celebrate
or acknowledge this holiday.

So how does an expat cope
on this most American of holidays?

I've asked three of my favorite displaced bloggers
to chime in on how they celebrate Thanksgiving
where ever it is they've found themselves today.

Read more from Megan's hilarious life in Scotland here.

Read more from Liz's charming life in Amsterdam here.

Read more from Amanda's sweet life in Japan here.

So how will we be celebrating?
Well, if you've seen my instagrams,
you might know I'm in Scotland.

I'll be taking my students to St. Andrews
for a proper American Thanksgiving dinner

So when you can't be at home
eating seconds thirds of your mom's cherry pie-
you learn to find the next best thing.

And let me tell you...
being in a place like St. Andrews 
kinda does help ease the pain.

I'll be enjoying the day
being thankful for the jackpot God has given me:
his endless love, 
the funnest & nicest husband alive,
two (!) healthy baby girls,
work that constantly challenges & fulfills me,
a huge family who I couldn't love more,
and all of you, my blog family!

*follow me on instagram for daily updates on my life in the UK: aspiringkennedy

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