The Lovely Drawer: Chorizo & Butter Bean Stew

Sometimes it can be scary when people offer to cook for you.

You just don't know if what tastes good to someone else
will taste as good to you.

But with a newborn baby,
you kinda don't really care.

You just relish the idea that you won't have to think through what to make,
bother with running to the store 
or have to spend any time in the kitchen...
other than the few seconds it takes to slide something into the oven 
& pour yourself a drink.

Luckily for us,
our friends all have really good taste
and we had zero disastrous meals.

{I attribute this to the fact that most people here don't cook dishes
that are structured around cans of "Cream of Mushroom/Chicken Soup,"
which as a southerner, I can admit comprises approximately 85% of most home-cooked meals.}

Everything our friends made for us was really delicious.

Especially, this stew that our friend Teri cooked for us.

It was so good that I asked her to share the recipe with me...
and with you, too!

You'll love it.

It's simple, it's filling, it's packed with flavor,
and, well, it's just an all-together good recipe 
that you need to add to your collection.

PS. You've got to check out Teri's gorgeous blog, The Lovely Drawer
It's crazy-cakes cute, 
just like you'll see she is in the pictures below.

* * * * *

{with lemon couscous}

Here's what you do:

1) Chop the red onion, chorizo, orange peppers and sun dried tomatoes.
2) Heat a little olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Then fry the onions with the garlic salt & paprika.
3) Add the chorizo and orange pepper. Season and stir.
4) When the pepper is cooked, add the sun dried tomatoes, beans, mixed herbs & half the thyme- after you've pulled the leaves from the stalks.
5) Turn the heat down. Slowly add your stock, in turn with the chopped tomatoes. Stir as you go.
6) After everything is added, let it simmer for 10-15 mins, until the flavours have infused and the sauce has thickened a bit.
7) Meanwhile pour your couscous into a bowl and add boiling water. Let sit for about 5 minutes and then use a fork to separate the grains. Add the lemon juice & zest and combine with the fork.
8) Sprinkle the remaining thyme over the stew and serve with the couscous.

* * * * *

Did you make sure to bookmark this recipe?
Pin it?
Print it out and tape it your fridge?

Okay. Thanks.

Because it really is that good
and I really want you to love it, too.

*photos by The Lovely Drawer.

FOUR SALE: Taking Home The Silver

I've been wandering through the market for the past weekend mornings
with the motivation to master my walking-while-consuming-coffee-and-pastry skills,
get some "me" time while Tyler & Viola snooze,
and to find special pieces that can find a place in your home.

{So, I guess it's not exactly a selfless task.}

After my last FOUR SALE
full of pretty finds from Notting Hill's Portobello Road,
I learned two important lessons:

1. People really like English antiques.

2. They get pretty sad when they chance to get any
because the sale is already over.

So, as a perpetual people-pleaser,
I set out to reinvent the wheel
and give the people what they want.

This resulted in a couple of days 
of thinking through different formats & options....
and then one night, the answer was really obvious.

Here's what's going to happen:

It's all going to be sold via a Facebook page
 especially for FOURSALE.


Why move it from my blog you ask?

Well, for the silly sake of matching the section above, 
I'm going to give you two reasons:

1. It allows people to snag a piece 
if they are away from their computers
through commenting via the Facebook app...
which, as we all know, is 2408 times easier 
than commenting on blogger with your phone.

2. It will offer better notice when the sales start,
since people check Facebook about 2408 times
more in a day than this blog.

{I know, I know... people's priorities are way off.}

So go on to the new FOURSALE page
and check out the little goody I have waiting for you there.

And in the meantime,
let's take a quick trip through Notting Hill.

sorry ladies. this one's off the market. ;)

*all images original to aspiring kennedy.

When a Friend Grieves: Your Guide to Being a Super Hero

So the last two months have been great.

They've also been tough.

{Perhaps an understatement?}

Fortunately, we have some amazing friends
who have made our lives a bit brighter
and have keep us incredibly taken care of.

I hope that no one ever goes through what we did,
but if/when you find a friend going through a tough time-
here are some ways we have been (& continue to be) loved
that have rocked our world.

So skim this post today,
but bookmark it for later
when you need to put on your knight armor
& trot off to rescue someone in need.

Who ever knows what to say in such circumstances?

Probably not you,
but the good news is that 
your friend that is hurting doesn't have 
the right words to say either.

No one really knows what to say on either end.

Are you doing okay?
Well, no not really.

I understand what you're going through.
Great, but it still hurts.

Is there anything I can do?
Yes, but I have no clue where to start.

When you're in these moments,
here are some ways to say that you care
without actually saying it.


Once a week, bring by essentials: 
bread, milk, coffee, jam, toilet paper, kleenex, magazines,
cereal, fresh fruit, or whatever else they might often use.

It's an easy, quick way to help
keep life going on
when it feels anything other than normal.

Perhaps the most common route,
but not one to be overlooked!

This is a tangible way for you to send your thoughts.

We got flooded with cards
that at the time,
I couldn't really process...
but these days,
these letters and thoughts 
are so sweet to read over.

And over time, it will be a nice reminder
of who walked through this with us.

{Emails are also pretty sweet, too.}


Another amazing thing:
friends that have sent postcards & notes at random
now weeks later
sending sweet notes to uplift us,
silly notes written from "Kate Middleton,"
& encouraging us with sweet sentiments.

The first thing I think is important to say
is that the first response wave is crucial to helping someone through tragedy...

These are the people that come and visit you in the hospital.
They send flowers & baskets of muffins to warm up your home.
Their presence helps make the suddent impact of everything better.

Then comes the second round.
These are the meals that are brought to lighten the daily load.
These are the letters & cards that arrive to offer love and mark the occasion.
These are the gifts that try to ease the loss.

But after the initial shock is over
and people go about their daily routine,
the hurting are still reeling.

And then, comes the (often forgotten,) third round.

This is where small notes arrive in the mail after the others have stopped
just reminding you that you are being thought of & prayed over.
These are the flowers that arrive months later when the others have long been thrown out.
This is the massage appointment that has been booked for you.

My advice is this:
reach out initially with love
and immediately call a florist/spa/food delivery service
and do whatever it is that you can do to love them...
but arrange that the gift is given several weeks later.

It will remind them that someone is still thinking of them
and offer a huge impact in the quieter days ahead.


We were lucky to have friends use the amazing site,
to coordinate meals & drop-offs
that were scheduled for 4 nights a week
for eight weeks after our babies were born.

It was so nice and gave us time to see everyone 
and visit with them individually.

We were spoiled with special gifts
from friends & family
that eased our grieving 
and commemorated our daughters.

Beautiful jewelry with the girls initials to wear as a reminder,
relaxing bath oil to use when I needed to hide out,
& sweet handmade blankets knitted with love and prayers.

When everything sucks in your life,
it may seem shallow- 
but it does feel great to be pampered.

You need to have some sort of win,
and while things won't ever replace your loss,
it does make you feel like you're ahead of the game 
in some small way.


So there you have it.

I hope you don't have to use any of this anytime soon...
but if/when you do-
just know that no matter how you reach out in love for someone,
you probably can't go wrong.

Doing anything is better than doing something that isn't perfect.

Memories for a Lifetime: Childhood Travel

Next week,
we are getting our baby girl
her wings to fly.

That's right.

This traveling circus
has added another member,
and is setting off on our first
international flight 
& whirlwind trip.

With yesterday's arrival of her passport,
we are officially ready to spend three weeks 
in the U.S. of A.

Even though this kid of ours
is a complete champ
in most every sense of the word,
I'm a little nervous
about the (six!) flights. 

Viola, on the otherhand,
is ready to go.

This kid pleases me in every possible way.

If she loves to travel like her parents
it will just be icing on the cake.

If not,
we'll still keep her.

While this kid is making it across the ocean at the ripe age of 9 weeks,
I was 9 years old when we had our first "big" trip.

My dad cashed in his AA miles and took us all around Europe
in a fashion that could make
 W. Clark Griswald feel like an underachiever.

It was an epic time
full of metallic track suits....

fluffy scrunchies... 

colored jean shorts....

& the creation of family memories that have stuck around
for the twenty years since.

What are some memories of your first BIG trip?


Oh, and, as you all know, GFC is going to be extinct 
in the not-so-distant future.

{Bummer, I know.}

Keep up with ye olde blog by subscribing 
with your email address in the box in the left-hand column above
to have blog posts delivered directly to your inbox via email
or with the tried & true, BlogLovin.

Pulp Home Pillows are Pretty (&) Cheap.

I'm cheap.

I can't help it.

I love pretty things,
but I just can't justify shelling out top dollar for them.

I mean,
I think Gap at full price is kind of expensive.

And isn't Gap supposed to be, like, an affordable, low-end store?

If I'm going to pay $80 for something,
it won't be on the regular racks of a chain store at the mall.

It will be a hidden gem crammed in a back corner
of a designer sample sale
or outlet store,
thank you very much.

Or I'll shop on designer sale sites 
like Gilt Groupe 

So combine discount shopping
with one of my favorite companies, Peacock Alley
and a pillow line offering you two color different looks
that was designed by one of my best friends, Beth Dotolo,
and her partner in crime, Carolina Gentry-
the two brains behind Pulp Design Studios.

Whaddaya get?

Well, I get excited.

I bet you will, too.

These pillows have a reversible band
that gives you two options...
which, in my mind, says =
two pillows for the price of one at half off.

That's some solid math, people.

Go on, check out the sale, & snag one for your home
and support a fellow blogger!

{Do you read Beth's lifestyle blog Hello, Splendor? It's good stuff.}

Happy Weekend!!

Baked Potato Grilled Cheese

I just needed to talk to someone about this...

I made them for dinner this weekend
and it was a bit of a life changer for me.

Granted, I could eat a baked potato for every meal of my life.

At points, I have even subconsciously tried.

Unfortunately Tyler doesn't seem to share 
my fervor & stamina for protein-void carb-loading.

It's a shame, really.

Anyway, back to the sandwich.

Thinly-sliced roasted potatoes
with all the goodies from an (American) baked potato
cradled between a grilled cheese sandwich?

It's just too much really.

{Seriously, it probably is too much fat/sodium/etc, but that's not what I mean.}

Obviously, this takes a bit more prep time than your standard grilled cheese,
but the result is worth the fifteen extra minutes of slicing, stacking & chopping.

So go on,
do yourself a favor
and try these bad boys out.

The recipe is from BS' In the Kitchen
that I pinned from my food board on Pinterest.

Report back to me afterwards
so we can get emotional about it together.

The Name Game

{This is a post about our babies. So yeah, you've been warned.}

* * *

Picking out a name for a baby is hard work.

Picking out two is even harder.

Tyler & I had decided long ago
that we wanted to use our grandmother's names,
Viola (mine) & Wallace (his)
for our children someday.

Having two little girls
seemed like the perfect occasion to do so.

We wanted both of their names
to have one family name
and one name we loved that made it up.

We also wanted to keep them secret until they were born.

We knew that they only way 
we could keep our mouths shut
was to not have names finalized
for as long as possible.

So, until then, we talked about them 
-and to them- 
as "Baby A" & "Baby B."

As we would lie in bed at night
with my gigantic belly pressed against his back,
Tyler would ask who it was who had the hiccups
(always Baby A)
and who was kicking him
(always Baby B).

But the day before I was admitted to the hospital,
we decided it was officially time to decide on names.

They were perfect... 
and they sounded so sweet together.

I won't go into the details here
of the delivery or the following 48 hours,
but when we weren't sure 
if Baby B was going to make it-
we didn't know what to do.

The hospital kept nudging us for names
and we were in so much shock
{and I was recovering from near-death},
it got shoved to the bottom of our priorities.

We could only hope for the two of us to recover.

The night that Baby B died,
we had to officially name her
for the purpose of the NICU filing paperwork.

And while we had other plans
for a "real" name,
it suddenly felt wrong to change that
to something we'd never known her as.

She was our Baby B...
that's all we ever knew her as
and that's how we wanted to remember her.

So that's what we named her... officially.
It's what's written on her birth (and death) certificate(s).

{I want to puke typing that sentence.}

Once we decided on that,
 we were left with the original two names
and only one baby to give them to.

 We decided to combine the two names into one
and let Viola carry on both of her grandmother's names
and a part of her sister. 

We are using the British pronunciation of  the name, Viola
-like "violin," but with an "uh" at the end instead-
as it's said in my favorite of Shakespeare's works, Twelfth Night.

{Who, ironically, is separated from her twin by a tragic accident.}

So, there you have it.

 Both girls ended up with names

that we hadn't planned on.

Their names aren't cute twin names that go well together.

Viola doesn't get to go through life

with an "&" attaching her to her sister.

...And sometimes those truths feel like a kick in the gut.

But in the midst of a situation that is miles away from perfect,
I'm thankful for this little bundle of cuteness
that carries on the names of her great-gandmothers...
and the tiny life of her sister.

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Coming to My Senses.

When I was little, I loved me some potty humor.

In fact, so much so 
that I named my hamster "Toot"
when I was three years old.

I still giggle when I think about it.

That, my friends, is humor at it's finest.

Joking about farting, peeing, burping...
it's all pretty hilarious.

But in real life, 
eh... not so much.

I know a lot of couples think farting around each other is funny...
but I'm not that cool.

The concept of breathing in someone else's poop particles 
is rather alarming to me
and turns me into a bit of a nose-up prude.

But there's a new sheriff in town.

One who cares nothing 
for my rules and environmental preferences
and who works them out
without a care in the world.

And I, ashamedly, find it completely hilarious.

Yes, this was an entire blog
centered on baby farts.

We can go back to talking about
other important topics like Mediterranean beaches,
 cute summer sandals & fancy cakes tomorrow.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

To A Tea: Bea's of Bloomsbury

One of the last places
I'm going to highlight
is a new twist 
on a London favorite.

has, up until recently,
been a treasure of the neighborhood of,
well, Bloomsbury. 

Their new location in the swanky retail spaces
around St. Paul's Cathedral
offers more people a chance
to meet for a sweet afternoon out
in Central London.

I got to meet my friend, Andrea,
and her darling baby, Mae, there
one afternoon early this spring.

I think this is another great recommendation
for anyone wanting to stay in Central London
and have tea in a less-stuffy (and less-expensive) setting
than most of the famous tea rooms in town offer.

While you can do their cute and quirky afternoon-tea
for a quite reasonable £19.00 per person,
the a la carte options are also really lovely...
and very affordable.

It's new location right by St. Paul's 
makes a stop at Bea's easy 
for anyone visiting the cathedral,
Shakespeare's Globe or the Tate Modern.

{It might have been a little untraditional for tea time,
but they make some mean banana bread...
and you should definitely have it toasted!}

The original Bea's location in Bloomsbury is at
44 Theobald's Road, WC1X 8NW.

Their new location at St Pauls can be found at 83 Watling Street, EC4M 9BX.


Not your cup of tea?

Click through here for more of my favorite places for tea in London.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Notting Hill- Four Sale

The last time I was in States,
I went shopping at a popular chain of high-end cooking stores
{who shall remain nameless}
and, in the midst of buying seasonal rubber spatulas & cake mixes
saw that they were selling serving pieces
from Notting Hill's Portobello Road Market.

I swelled with pride for my hood
and went to inspect their finds.

I was immediately shocked to see how expensive
they were selling the same pieces
that I so often see & buy myself.

I mean, $250 for a silver-plate salt & pepper set
and $150 for a small tray is ridiculous.

I decided then & there that I would
have to render this the only way I could:

By having a foursale to get these pretty pieces
to my friends in the States cheaper than they could at the mall.


I finally got a pretty collection of goods together
and I couldn't be more excited!

It makes me really happy to share Portobello Road with you.



Sugar & Creamer Set

It only felt right to start with this pretty pair
perfect for you next tea party.

A pretty matching set 
of silver-plated sugar & creamer servers. 

Don't they make a gorgeous couple?

If Will & Kate were serving pieces,
this could very well be them.

{Editor's Note: I'm mocking myself for that joke.}

Sugar & Creamer Set | £22


Mirrored Vanity Tray

This flower-trimmed tray is so sweet
and, amidst all the silver at the market,
a bit of a stand-out piece.

I love this delicate little tray
and think perfume & candles 
look perfect nesting on top.

Plus, I really loved the price.

Mirrored Vanity Tray | £10



Silver-Plate Horse Jewelry Tray

This horse tray is probably my favorite piece 
that I found at the market.

It's quirky and cute
and really English...
plus, it's silver-plated 
so it's fabulous.

I especially love the idea of using the dish for a vanity jewelry tray 
and draping necklaces around the horse.

This piece gets the "Best in Show" award from me.

To be honest,
if this doesn't sell,
I'm not going to be upset in the least.

I'm also going to have a cute tray with a horse on it
 perched on my dressing table.

Silver-Plate Jewelry Tray with Horse | £25


Five Piece Salt & Pepper Caddy Set

If I were a bride
and someone gave me this set to me as a wedding gift...
well, not only would it make center stage on my dining table,
but it might also earn them the name of my first child.

As I didn't get one of these as a wedding gift,
we were clear to name Viola after anyone we wanted...
which was in her case, my grandmother.

This little silver-plated set has five pieces:
a triangular tray,
a salt cellar,
a pepper shaker,
& a mustard pot...
complete with a tiny little spoon
to make it officially perfect.

I have two of these sets myself
so I was forced to add this to the sale...
or admit that I might have a hoarding problem.

Five Piece Salt & Pepper Caddy | £32


Heavenly Teaspoons

There isn't much better in life 
than a hot cup of tea
with friends...

and if you don't have a friend to share it with
then you might enjoy having these little teaspoons join you for the occasion.

They have little monks on them...
and I love them.

I wish I knew the story behind them.

Are they monks or saints?

I can't tell. 

Maybe they are a both...
St. Francis of Assisi, perhaps?

Heavenly Teaspoons, Set of 5 | £7.50


Small spaces can be made a bit more grand
when there is a base that supports the scene...
well, that's what I believe, at least.

Which is why my house has trays perched frequently throughout
framing votives, pictures & delicate items from places I love.

Having a pretty tray somehow organizes small items
into a pretty little vignette...
and who doesn't like to use the word "vignette?"

I found two trays that are pretty great.

Silver Vanity Tray, Large

This silver-plate tray has been around the block.

Where dark spots on other pieces can cloud and take away from the piece,
they somehow enhance this tray.

How great would this be by a bedside
for resting your cell phone, a small candle 
& pretty pieces of jewelry?

Silver Tray, Large | £14


The two trays side by side- medium on the left, large on the right. 

Silver Tray, Medium

This is the second tray that I grabbed for you.

It's slightly smaller than the one above
and has a small dent in the edge...
but it's silver-plate is really shiny and the design is gorgeous. 

I think you'll think it's a pretty great
-and affordable!-
way to dress up a small space in your home.

Silver Tray, Medium | £12


Pearl Handle Knives

This little set of six knives is in really good condition...
in fact, I almost kept them for myself
since I haven't seen any matching sets this good.

The original box somehow even survived the years with them.

They look a bit pinker in the box than they actually are
because of the way the red box reflects off them... just so you know.

Oh, and if you look closely below, 
you can see the pretty stamping on the base of the blade.


Pearl Handle Knives, Set of 6 | £10


Lion-Handled Serving Bowl

I hope it is obvious that all of the pieces shown here
are things that I would actually use in my own house.

In fact,
I had intended to adopt this bowl as my own
and had filled it with Reeses Peanut Butter Cup minis.

Eventually, I decided to include it with the other pieces
like I had originally intended...

Though my affinity for anything resembling a lion door knocker
made it a very hard choice.

It has an inner bowl
made of dark, blue glass
that sits inside the bowl's silver-plate exterior
making it suitable for serving out of and easy cleaning.

Lion Handled Serving Bowl | £11.25


So there we have it...

Weekend shopping on Portobello Road 
brought to wherever it is you may be today.

This was actually really fun for me to do
and, if you like it, let me know below.

I'm a sucker for punishment
and would most likely be up for doing this again!

*all sales are final and non-refundable. please shop carefully.
*all shipping is basic, international shipping to keep costs low. please allow for 2-3 weeks for your item to arrive.
*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

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