Home (Sweet Home) For the Holidays.

Well guys, thanks.

Your love & support
was so encouraging over the past four days.

I'm writing this from a chair in my living room
with my cozy pajamas on (these)
after the first shower I've had in days.

My baby is sitting in an adorable shirt (this)
and playing with jingle bells
underneath our Christmas tree
that will probably stay in our home 
for the next couple of weeks to come.

Just for the sake of not sounding completely random
to anyone who hasn't been on various social media...

Saturday, I decided to take Viola to the A&E (read: ER)
since she had a nasty cough that had settled into her chest
and our doctor's wouldn't be open until Monday.

What I thought would be a couple of hours 
ended up being a four day stay at St. Mary's Hospital (this one).

moms who nebulize: i salute you. nothing worse than holding down your baby against their will.

The first day, we were pretty traumatized
to be back, in residence, at the hospital where the girls were born.

The quick downshift from happy/normal
to sudden change of plans felt a little too familiar,
and a wheezing, crying baby doesn't help you feel better.

Luckily- our nurses & doctors made us feel really okay with being there.

Four days, three nights and endless poking & prodding later,
Viola is back to normal
and we are thankful that God took care of that nasty infection.

We are closing up shop for 2013
on a high note,
and optimistic that this is the start
of a great year ahead.

Thanks again for, yet again, being there for our family
over the past year.

You've celebrated with us,
you've mourned with us,
you told us our baby was cute
even through her weird-alien newborn days,
and you've just been... so, so nice.

Lots of love for the year to come.

We look forward to sharing life with you again!

T, L & v.

In The Houzz: Babyccino & Co.

This month,
I hit the jackpot
when getting to do 
a Houzz hometour 
of the Adamo Family.

If you aren't family with the Babyccino Kids site,
well, you should be.

Even if you don't have kids,
Courtney's instagram will win you over.

Her life/family/style is just...  gorgeous.

So it was no surprise to find 
that her home in North London
near Hampstead Heath
was anything other than charming.

I got to go with my friend, Noah,
for the home shoot
and we had such a nice morning
working around the house
while the Adamos ate breakfast
and got ready for a weekend in the country.

Go on and check out the home tour...
and, in the meantime,
 enjoy a few outtakes 
from our fun morning 
with the Adamo family.

Check out my other home tours 
as Houzz' London contributor here.

*photography by Noah Darnell for Houzz

Christmas Card | 2013

To each one of my readers,
who I humbly consider my friends...

Thank you for all you have done
to make this year more than bearable...
but making it wonderful for us 
in so many ways.

I hope that 2014 brings joy and light-heartedness
to your family...  and ours, too.

And if it doesn't...
He is still good.

Our love,
Tyler,  Lauren & Viola

Christmas In London (via National Geographic)

Being in Britain
has taught me many things.

The art of milk with my tea.

(English breakfast? yes. Earl Grey? no, just lemon. Herbal or green? no.)

The appropriate weather to wear
my wellies in... and not to wear them...

(walks in the country? yes. site seeing in the city? no.)

What's so magical about sticky toffee pudding...

(and where to eat a really delicious one.)

I've also learned to play it cool.

The Brits are great at that...
they famously coined "the stiff upper lip,"
and man- they know how to compose themselves.


But today,
I'm going to be a total American.

A really obnoxious American, at that.

Because I can't play this cool at all....

with a big fancy quote 
about Christmastime in London.

National Geographic, people!

image via danskinner, flickr

Go on, and check it out.

And if you have a suggestion for London at Christmastime,
feel free to drop it in on the article.

(Who knows, you might be the next source for a London piece!)

I wanna smooch her under some mistletoe.

The other week
I got to pop into the 
hosted by Babyccino Kids.

While we were there,
Amsterdam photographer, Maud Fontein
had set up a cute photobooth
and snapped some pictures of Viola.

Oh my goodness,
this kid is happy 
to be in front of the picture.

We were laughing so hard
at her posing
that we couldn't really focus
on the task at hand.

Obviously, Maud got some winners
through the laughs though...

*image original to Aspiring Kennedy

Your prize for being good all year.

In the midst of gift guides
that are scatted around the inter webs
at this time of year
pointing you in the perfect direction
for buying for loved ones...

It's prudent to keep you eye out
for what you'll be buying
with your own Christmas cash
in the post-Christmas sales.

Doesn't it always seem that you end up 
with a few crisp bills
from relatives at this time of year. 

I love it.

So I like to pre-shop a bit...
so that when those mark downs hit,
I can snag them.

Here are some of my favorite picks under $50...
minus the awesome boots.

And remember,
if online shopping isn't going to cut it for you
and you're forced to trek out to the mall...

Stay hydrated  
(skinny gingerbread latte)
and keep energized
(peppermint ice cream)
so you don't wear out
and fully enjoy the holiday madness.

Happy Christmas!

A Surprise Hen At the Daylesford Organic Farm

Three years ago,
I would think that the title of this post
would guarantee a story of a chicken
would be about to unfold.

But guess what...
it's not!

A "hen" (or "hen-do" or "hen party")
is what ye olde Brits call bachelorette parties.

So surprise!

This isn't a blog post about chickens...
it's about a girls weekend away
celebrating my friend, Amber
and her upcoming wedding.

We surprised Amber with a weekend away
to a undisclosed location.

I came over an hour before we were leaving,
helped her pack a suitcase
with weird, vague scenarios she might encounter.

(Example: Pretend you are going to be in the "It's All Good" cookbook photoshoot.)

Amber thought I was crazy...
which makes her very intuitive.

We hopped the bus,
arrived at Paddington
and- surprise- all of her ladies
were waiting for her at the Paddington Bear statue.

We hopped a train,
gave her a box of clues,
and before we were out of the city-
our destination was revealed:
a ladies weekend at the famous
Daylesford Organic Farm
in the Cotswolds.

We had such an amazing time.

I really can't think of a prettier and more relaxing weekend.

We stayed in the Wild Rabbit Inn,
had a group yoga class,
got a visit to the spa for massages,
and took a four hour cooking class.

Now, I can hear your thoughts:
Lauren, you're supposed to be cheap.
This place looks fannnnncy.

Who do you think you are, Nora Ephron?

It was, but going as a group helped out the pricing so much!

We paid for our hotel separately, 
but for the yoga, 45 minute massages + cooking class
it was only around £160 per person.

That's not terrible for two days of activities...
especially of this caliber.

(And this group of girls was a pretty awesome one to share it with.)

Personally, I have to say,
it far trumps my bachelorette party,
which was so much of a disaster
I'm not even going to talk about here.

*    *   *

What do you think?
Is this your type of girls weekend
or would you spend that £160 on a flight to Ibiza?

(Personally, this girly weekend was my Gwyneth-y cup of tea.)

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

English vs American: Mince Pies

My grandpa used to love mince meat pies.

(mince meat pies = disgusting concoction having actual meat in it)

I used to gag seeing it.

To this day, I have absolutely no clue
what it was he was actually eating.

He passed away a few years before we moved to England,
or I was totally ask him to explain it to me.

And then I'd probably give him a really hard time about it
and he would laugh until his dentures would start to slide out of place. 

So cute.

Then we moved to England.

Our first Christmas, 
I politely passed at their tiny pastries
that were frequently offered
and internally judged their affinity
towards meat-laced pies.

The second year we were here, 
I started to suspect I was missing something.

So one brave day, 
I bought a pretty one
covered with a simply shortcrust start
and dusted with powdered sugar
and... well, I loved it.

Especially since

What is a mincemeat pie then?

Check out my friend, Will, of Bright.Bazaar's great tutorial here.

The best way that I can explain it is
that it is like an apple pie...
without any apple.

Not all are amazing,
but you can score some really tasty ones
during the Christmas season in England.

So there.

Now you're a little smarter
and a bit more prepared
to not miss out on this delicious holiday treat.

* * *

Do mince pies make your holiday line up?
Or do you pass on for peppermint bark?


Traveling with Babies- Here's What I Know.

I've been getting a lot of people asking me
for advice for traveling with kids.

First of all,
I feel the need to clarify:
traveling with a baby 
is an entirely different ballgame 
than traveling with a kid.

Kids seem easier than traveling with a baby
in a few ways
such as having their own seat,
carrying their own little animal-shaped suitcases,
and, generally, knowing to not poop themselves. 

Though the idea of going anywhere
(grocery store included)
with a toddler is completely terrifying.

None the less,
let me help offer what I know & have learned
traveling with Viola.

I'm not going to pretend to know all the answers,
but the kid did clock 8 countries by 8 months old…

If I'm not a professional,
I'm at least not intimidated by traveling with a baby.

*     *     *

First things first:
adjust your expectations.

Even traveling across the ocean,
I always think this phrase over & over 
during the day (and night) before we fly:

"Even if it's a completely awful day,
it's only one day
and then I'll be in (insert destination here)
and it will all be worth it."

I would exchange one crappy/miserable day
to spend a week pretty much anywhere, 
so that gets my eyes on the prize.

Second: Know your allies.

Airline employees = nice.
Fellow passengers = hate you.

I was pretty amazed at how sweet 
the airport staff & airlines treated us
and welcomed us on board.

They helped us board early,
snag empty seats,
and made our travel so much better.

I was equally amazed 
at how many mean looks
and snotty remarks we got
while traveling.

On our way home last month,
I walked to our row
and the man who was sitting by us
looked up, looked at me, and then snarled:
"Ugh, really?"

I gaped so loudly out of shock 
and then laughed in his face:
"Yup. Sorry dude."

Fortunately, all the people around us overhead
and went out of their way to compliment
what a sweet baby Viola was after her A+ performance,
but still.... wow.

Third: Manipulate the schedule.

I start planning the day before
how to make Viola's schedule line up
to need to feed as we take off.

I'm doing everything I can to make sure she is hungry
at the time our flight is scheduled to take off.

This not only helps her pressurize her ears
as we take off,
but it makes her sleep like a champ. 

If she starts trying to eat or sleep
in the gate, we play with her
and get her right near that edge of feeling crazy
so that she'll conk out once we start taxiing that runway.

Fourth: Get them to drink.

Babies can get crazy whenever they want on flights,
but they cry most often during the last thirty minutes of a flight
because the pilots start the descent
and their poor ears aren't able to pop.

They don't know all the tricks we grown ups know,
so you have to be the brain for them on this.

This can be a bit tricky, 
since it's a long period of time.

I'm not sure if this is fool proof, 
but it worked for me.

I think of the 20ish flights
we have been on, 
Viola has only cried once
and that was because it was such a short flight
and I couldn't time her feeds up for take off & landing.

Go ahead and nurse them
and then- once they are finished
and the world still looks a million miles away: 
pull out the secret weapon,
the bottle of goodness.

When Viola was really little,
I put a bit of sugar water in a bottle.

I would drop a bit in her mouth
every 30 seconds or so
and she would gulp it down and pop her ears.

As she got older, 
I've diluted juice with water and given her just little drinks
to help keep her curious until we touch down.

Sometimes I've used Smart Water, Apple Juice, whatever...

Heck, I'd even resort to Sprite, if I had to.

Anything to keep her from hurting.

The goal isn't for them to chug it down,
just something to intrigue them
into drinking a bit more
after they have already filled their bellies.

Fifth: Get to the airport two hours early.

Flights have bulk seating reserved
for the day-of travel.

The sooner you get there, the better options
the airlines can offer you 
for your seating.

Even if you don't get the bulkhead,
getting their early can help your family
make sure they are all seated together.

You can also hop to get an "infant block" seat, 
if there are a few unsold seats.

Five: Shop the unpopular flight times.

We try to skip peak travel times
in order to play the odds for a uncrowded flight.

Uncrowded flights means empty seats.

Empty seats mean that you + hubby
could score a row of three
and lay a baby down to sleep between you
while you do fancy things like read a magazine and drink coffee!

We look for midweek travel
at non-commuter travel times
like the early afternoon.

Six: Let the kid call the shots.

Airplanes are not the time to enforce schedules
and try to hem children into new things…

Don't fight the small stuff.

If they want to roll around and lick the tray table,
let them have at it.

Your baby wants to eat 365 puffs?
Great. What a time killer.

They want to squish the vomit bag into oblivion?
You go, Glen Coco.

Those things are not your battle today.

Your battle is getting to wherever you are going,
with your sanity in tact
and your baby happy.

The rest is, just… well, it's not important.

*    *    * 

Okay, those are my favorite tips.

Nothing mind-blowing,
but it works for us.

I hope that this can help you…
and please, if you have tricks that have 
made your travels easier with kids,
share them with us.

What are some things that have helped you
when you've traveled with kids?

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Winter Wonder: Fresh Mint Tea

When we were living in Paris
in the spring of 2012,
it was one of the coldest winters
in Europe in a hundred years...

The freezing temps meant we were ducking into cafes
as often as we possibly could 
in hopes of warming up.

The thing is,
if I drank coffee
every time I needed to warm up,
I'd be spazzing out 
from the constant caffeine buzz.

You would see me jittering 
down the Champs Elysees
a hundred miles an hour.

Eventually, I opted 
for fresh mint tea-
or "the a la menthe."

And thank goodness I did.

I stumbled upon a guilt-free treat
that I can enjoy
without any sugar intake
or unwanted caffeine.

And, man, it is so flipping good.

When the weather turns chilly,
I turn on the kettle
and pluck a few leaves
to make my own brew.

(You can drizzle a bit of honey or a spoon of sugar in, if you prefer it a bit sweeter.)

It's such a simple & elegant way
to warm up…


* tea image

Pack Your Bags: Barcelona

Right after my crazy semester ended in Dublin,
Tyler & I woke up the next morning
and walked (read: crawled) out of our flat
headed towards a flight to Barcelona.

Some of my best friends from high school
were headed there for a weekend.

There's a bigger/emotional back story
to our get away,
but the bottom line is:
sometimes you just need 
to hang out with your best friends
in an awesome place.

It's healing for the soul.

By 11am, we were at our hotel
and ready to take on the day.

Or at least,
find a good place for lunch.

Thanks to the amazing people of Instagram
for the great recommendations.

We had such a good time
just taking it easy
and enjoying the sun
of this welcoming city.

Affordable, delicious, kind...
as crammed as it was in our schedule,
a weekend in Spain 
was really good for Tyler & I.

Excuse the iPhone/Instagram pics...
my camera charger is broken!

Here is my "list" from our trip
to Barcelona.

We loooooved this hotel. 

It was about a 10 minute walk to La Rambla,
but we like to walk
and it was just around the corner from the MANGO outlet.

The restaurant was lovely,
the rooms were huge,
and the price- amazing: €61 a night.


*   *   *


This isn't a shop or a cafe,
but an entire area of town
in the central part.

You won't have to go far 
to find this gem of a neighborhood.

It really reminded me of Paris' Marais.

Cool shops, great eats, and a really good vibe.

You'll like it, I just know it.

Here are some of the places we loved in the Born.

*   *   *

MUNA- This tiny shop has baby clothes that make me want to cry.
Someday, when I'm a big time blogger (read: sarcasm),
I'll go back and buy the place out.

The clothes are gorgeous.

Even Viola knew it was some place really special.

HOFMANN- This is a gorgeous bakery has amazing cakes, cookies, 
and- what did you say? The Crofre? 

A croissant & belgian waffle's love child?


TANTARANTANA- This tapas place....
just perfect for your daily dose of
patatas bravas, peppers padron & jamon croquettes.

And with glasses of cava for €2.50
and most of the tapas plates from €2-4 each,
you'll walk out with some cash in your pocket 
to buy a souvenir at...

DR. BLOOM- Just down the street from Tantarantana,
this is one of the cutest boutiques I've been in
in a long, long time.

I bought a scarf.

The sweaters are dreamy, 
but I was shopping in a little lower price range
with Christmas coming up.

When I go back with my Scrooge McDuck millions
to buy out Muna,
I'll be sure to go back here
to loot the place, too.

It's great stuff.

* * *

Okay, The Born is great,
but there is life outside it, too.

Another little cluster of good spots
comes on the coast,
right off the Barceloneta metro stop.

MakaMaka Beach Burger Cafe-  This is a great burger place
right along the beach of Barcelona.

Not only does the setting have a great atmosphere
(Spanish hipsters + surfer chill),
but, whaddaya know,
the food is great, too.

I went big:
The Big Maka.

Bacon, onions, grilled peppers, cheese, BBQ sauce.

So good.

LAS FRITAS- After you've had your burger & fries
at MakaMaka,
go across the street to Las Fritas,
where you can get (more) french fries.

This stand sells only fries...

On a sunny day,
walking along the coast
with a paper cone of fries
would be, well, muy bien.

{Editor's Note: There Is also a realllly good churro stand across the street from Las Fritas.
Go getcha some (their enormous "small" is €5 + €2 chocolate sauce.)


Obviously, I didn't even mention
most of the tourist attractions
in Barcelona...

Or any actually,
so let's do a quick recap of those, too.

Those, most well-known are:
Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, La Rambla, Picasso Museum
and the lush food stalls of La Bouqueria....

you're beautiful.

See you soon, I hope.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...