If I'm Being Honest...

I feel like I've been blogging a lot of random topics lately...
and that, perhaps, a "check-in" on a more personal level is due.

You know, just being honest with
where we are, what life is like, how we feel...
and other things that will, not only clue anyone interested in,
but will be good for me to write down for posterity sake
in the years to come.

So here they are... 
random blurbs & thoughts.

{Editor's Note: Buckle up.}

*  *  *

Yesterday, I got really sad when I realized that November 2nd
was the date that we had our 20 week sonogram
and found out we were having two girls.

I haven't been up for watching the video we made,
but it is pretty cute if you haven't. 

Why is it that anniversaries are so much harder than other days?

There's nothing particularly different about them,
but I guess they just remind us that life is moving on
and we are officially a bit further removed from that person.

It doesn't help that Viola is so cute, either.

The more we love her,
 the more we see what we lost.

In a flit of boredom last night,
I looked at our pictures from the hospital.

They start the night I was induced...
such light, carefree faces in the delivery room
where Tyler is juggling heart rate monitor bands
and then switch directly to the two of us 
sitting under the bright lights of the NICU holding our sweet babies
with puffy eyes and the emptiest looks on our faces.

8 months later, 
and I still feel just as caught off guard.

I had a dream just last night that I was pushing two little Violas in a stroller
and then I look down and one has disappeared
and, in the dream, I thought: 
Oh yeah, she was never actually here. 

I hate that part.

*  *  *

When I see other moms "mourn" their babies getting "so big" 
on social media, I have to remind myself not to get fussy.

Having your baby grow 
and do "big kid" things
is what every parent who has a child
that won't hit those milestones dreams of.

You'd be devastated if they didn't.

But behind my defensiveness and jaded perspective,
I have the luxury of knowing where they are coming from
by having a perfectly wonderful baby, too.

And so, I try to remind myself to savor Viola's smallness today,
because I know one day this baby won't be exist anymore...
she'll be a toddler/kid/teenager/adult
so my time with "Baby Viola" is fleeting.

And, safe to say, I'm not taking any time for granted.

I'm breathing in cute moments a little longer
while they are here and enjoying them for what they are...

The three of us cuddled up in bed on a rainy morning.

How Viola looks curled up in my arm with her nose squished 
on my curled up arm... which is probably connected to my iPhone. #shameful

Pushing the stroller through Portobello Road with her clutching on to my finger.

Her toothless little mouth.

*  *  *

Wow, Lauren, stick to blog posts on donuts & France...
this stuff is low.

I know, sorry.

So with all of this sad talk,
where does that leave us?

Wistfully mourning? Yes.
Hopeless? No.
Scared to death of "what else" could happen? Trying not to be.

Tyler & I would both say
that we are at the point 
where we've just nestled into
the bigness of God and his goodness.

We really do believe that, 
even if it's not right now,
and despite our aching sadness-
He is good.

Does it sound like crazy talk if I tell you
that I have felt God's love more this year
than ever before in my life?

It probably does,
because- in spite of my sadness, 
I am so thankful to Him.

I feel like I'm the character in a really great happy movie
in the low point where they hit their moment of crisis...
but the writer will obviously write for everything to come together 
and happiness be restored.

And until that happy ending arrives
and I find myself smugly walking off in the sunset holding Tyler's hand,

The end of Psalm 52 will be playing on a continuous loop in my mind....

"... I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good."

*  *  *

So there you have it...
a quick look into my crazy brain.

Kinda like walking through a spook house
with scary things at every corner, eh?

Perfect timing for Halloween.

Don't worry though,
 you'll make it out okay in the end.

(And, you know what? So will we.)

*image via

The Lovely Drawer: Pumpkin, Pancetta & Sage Lasagna.

Pumpkin, Pancetta & Sage Lasagna?

I'm just going to stop talking now
and let Teri do her thing 
as she is obviously on a hot streak
with this amazing recipe.

Now she can do the talking (yes, in her fab-o British accent),
and I'll let you do the pinning/planning/reservation canceling
so that you can get this recipe 
added to tonight's dinner plans.


One more thing: 
I think it's cute how Brits say "lasagne" instead of "lasagna."
Lasagne actually the correct way, oops!

Okay, I really am done talking now.

*  *  *

Pumpkin, Pancetta & Sage Lasagne

It's come to that time of year when I'm compulsively pinning pumpkin recipes as though my life depends on it and daydreaming about the smell of roasting squash wafting through my flat. All things considered, it seemed fitting to dig out this tasty dish. 

It's a healthier version of the creamy, oozy lasagne we are all so familiar with. Now let me clarify, this isn't going to win you lots of diet points but it is 'better' for you than most. Seeing as my tummy can't handle lots of creaminess and I'm no fan of mince (read: ground beef), I've ended up with this hodge podge of ingredients which I would say is actually (in my humble opinion) more flavoursome than the old classic. 

Plus my husband liked it so much he had the leftovers for breakfast and lunch the next day. I'm not advocating that, but it is impressive! 

To make:

1. Chop up your onion and dice your pancetta (depending on how you've bought it) and start to fry them in a pan along with the crushed garlic. Add the sundried tomatoes, most of your sage (chopped), paprika and mixed herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Once cooked stir in the passata sauce and simmer for 5 mins. Set aside.

3. In another pan wilt your spinach and season lightly. When cooked drain the tin of spinach and add to the pan to bulk up the greens.

4. In a bowl, mix the pumpkin with the nutmeg until combined and set aside.

5. Crack and whisk the egg and then in another bowl, beat the egg and ricotta together.

6. Lightly grease your baking dish and then start layering up the lasagne, making sure each layer is spread right to the edge. Place two pasta sheets on the bottom (side by side, overlapping if they don't fit), followed by a layer of spinach, followed by a layer of pumpkin, followed by another two pasta sheets (side by side), followed by the tomato and pancetta mixture, followed by another two pasta sheets (side by side) followed by the ricotta mixture on top. Make sure the pasta is covered right to the edges. Finish by sprinkling the chedder cheese over the whole thing and scatter the remaining sage. 

8) Cook on 190ÂșC for 25 mins and then place a sheet of baking paper or foil over the top and cook for a further 15 mins and then serve. It tastes really good with a balsamic and rocket (read: arugula) salad.

*   *  *

Isn't she the cutest?
I know you'd love hanging out with her.

She's pretty awesome.

Check out more of Teri's creative side
on her pretty blog, The Lovely Drawer.

Pack Your Bags: Serengeti Safari with Sanctuary Retreats!

Most of the time, 
these Pack Your Bags series 
offer my inside knowledge 
of how to travel
to & from different places.

But today,
I'm just telling you what to pack
if you were headed on a 
safari through the Tanzanian Serengeti
with Sanctuary Retreats...

I'm packing my unlimited-Mary-Poppins-of-a-bag
stuffed full of everything that I'd love to have with me.

*    *   *
Why leave it at a packing list?

Because there's nothing else you need to worry about.

When you travel with a safari outfitter like that-
they take care of all the other details.

When my dad turned 50,
he took our family on a safari
through Kenya & Tanzania.

I'm tempted to label the experience as 
"once in a lifetime,"
except I have hopes of repeating it 
someday with Tyler.

So I'll just leave it at "amazing" for now.

If you're planning a honeymoon, getaway,
or just looking for an experience of a lifetime-
Sanctuary Retreats will offer you options 
that will leave you drooling 
more than a lion over a zebra carcass.

* * *

You can also take a peek at my #virtualsuitcase 
that I "packed" on Pinterest with Sanctuary here.

*this post was sponsored by Sanctuary Retreats.

Dallas: Oddfellows

In the midst of the usual emails
that people send me
asking for advice 
on European hotspots
such as London, Paris & Florence...
I've been receiving a few 
for a place that I know just as well:

Dallas, Texas.

I'm a born & bred Texan, mes amis.

I get to go back a handful of times
each year in between semesters.

I was there over the weekend 
for a quick work trip...
and got to add a new place 
to my "go" list for the Big D.

Don't miss a breakfast/brunch
at Oddfellows the next time
life brings you through the Big D.

It would be so sad.

In fact, don't skip out on the Bishop Arts area in general.

It's got so many amazing places tucked in it.

And with how popular it is becoming, 
you may feel like the odd man out 
if you did.

{Sorry, couldn't help myself.}

Obviously, we weren't planning on getting our pictures taken when we rolled out of bed. Oh well. In living color.

a few other "musts" for your required visit:

Start with an order of the Beignets,
don't ask questions.

Just trust me.

I personally will recommend the Huevos Rancheros
for many reasons, but mainly because
that bottom layer of corn tortilla is a crispy wonderland.

Go ahead and follow your instinct with the gingerbread pancake-
though skip the red velvet, it's a disappointment.

Lattes are great there.
Fresh squeezed orange juice is a treat.

Oh my, 
I really think 
you're going to love it there.

*    *   *

Go getcha some:

316 West 7th Street
Dallas, Texas 75208

Local Tip: Get there before 9 on the weekend
or be prepared to WAIT (like 30-45min) for a table.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

The Perfect Duo: An Aspiring Kennedy's Love Story

You know how blogs always 
have contests and giveaways
to win this or do that
and we run you around the interwebs
liking and tweeting 
like it's going out of style?

Well, today
I'm that girl.

I've been drooling over DUO's boots 
the last few weeks
and when I saw 
their giveaway for a free pair,
I decided to join the fun
and enter the giveaway...

Which requires me to tell our love story
here on this little blog.

Have you ever heard ours?

it's good.

We have one that would make
Cinderella and her shoe-toting tale
feel a little insecure.

Okay, fine...
maybe not.

Maybe it's not universally perfect,
but it was the perfect fit for the two of us.

Kinda like DUO,
because you can custom size
your boots to fit
in the ankle & calf...
and honestly, how amazing is that?

Their new collection
has me dreaming of tromping
through wet London streets
without the fear of frozen toes & wet feet.

(Editor's Note: My current boots are cheap and terribly made.)

It's almost as good of news
as the day I told my family
I had broken up with my boyfriend
and was going to marry Tyler.

To which they practically replied
"Tyler... who?"

So go get a cup of tea or coffee
and find a place that's really cozy...
this might take a while.

Plus, you'll get to see awkward pictures of me from college.

*    *   * 

If you want to enter the contest
(and I can't really blame you),
check out the details here.

Talented Talkers: Blogging Tips!

Hey, you!

Yeah, you the cute girl 
who just started her own blog
and is trying to find the rhythm 
of how this crazy little world works.

Yeah, you.

I've got something for you:
a quick how-to 
for getting your feet firmly set
in the blogging community.

It's live here on the Talented Talkers new blog.

Just remember me when you get all big & famous, okay?

xo- LBK

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends...

Here's a confession:

I still think of Keane 
as new to the music scene.

Coldplay concerts make me feel hip.

My life long dream is to see
Elton John + Billy Joel in concert.

(Also, this picture still makes me laugh. Viola = Elton John.)

To summarize:
I am a music scene failure.

I only know of good music
when my friends tell me about it.

In return for travel tips & pastry shots,
can you comment below with 
a couple of songs that you are really loving
that I should pay $0.99 for on iTunes?

(Remember, I'm cheap- so make that dollar count!)

*  *  *




Pack Your Bags: Carcassonne France

We were eating dinner tonight
and in the middle of my (second) bowl of soup,
a thought appeared in my brain
out of nowhere:

I never blogged about Carcassonne!

I'd been so excited to share 
this hidden gem
tucked in the Southwest of France
with you & the rest of the blogging world...

I edited the pictures,
I put them in a folder on my desktop,
and then...

well, honestly, who knows.

But here it is today!

Better late than never, right?

With a place this special,
the answer is: absolutely.

*      *     * 

It was about 1.5 hours drive
from where we were staying
(remember the crazy-gorgeous-yet-affordable Chateau Les Carrasses?)
to Carcassonne....

On our way towards the Spanish border,
I grew increasingly allured to drive
to Barcelona for dinner.

{Tyler did not, however, or this Carcassonne adventure would have ended here.}

All I knew about Carcassonne before arriving
was that it was a medieval city...
which, to me, meant
it was a city during the medieval times
and not today.

So imagine my surprise when 
we walked through the city gates
and then realized:
it's still an active/real place!

The flavor of the city
(and yes, I believe that cities have distinct flavors)
was undoubtedly French...
with strong Spanish notes.

A crepe stand would sit next 
to a store selling handmade espadrilles...

A cafe sign would have the price
for une biere & una cerveza.

It was one of those days in traveling
when you are left totally refreshed
even after a long day out.

The four of us
(Tyler, Lauren, Viola & our dear friend, Kyla)
wandered through the cobblestone streets,
explored the gorgeously preserved castle overlooking the valley,
and, obviously, ate enormous crepes
stuffed with nutella, coconut & almonds.

I've tried to say it in previous posts,
but I'll say it again:
the southwest of France
is one of the best-kept secrets there is.

Affordable, stunning, rich with history & gorgeous.

It's waiting for you.

*   *   *

More Southwest France posts here
for your drooling pleasure!

On My Plate.

In busy periods of life,
people often remark
"Wow! You've got a lot on your plate!"

And yes, it's true as life ebbs & flows,
responsibilities tend to mount up
at some times more than others.

It seems that there is a unannounced level
of obligations & commitments
that we expect everyone to have.

The maximum, if you will,
of things going on
that one person can take on
before they start slacking 
in the others.

Do you know what I mean?

If someone is frantic,
others will always remark
at the level of busyness
that they have going on
and somehow surmise that
"they have a lot on their plate."

Or we offer to withhold tasks or invitations
because we assume that other's "plates are full."

But it seems to me
that not everyone has the same plate.

Just as each of us has different styles, preferences & passions,
so we also have tailored thresholds of sanity.

What's overwhelming to some is exciting for others.

What's constricting to one is ordered to another.

Some of us are better focused on less.
The idea of layers of events & to-do's
leaves us overwhelmed & anxious.

We can dominate and perfect
a smaller list
and that brings a lot of satisfaction.

The absence of loose ends
offers a sense of completion, 
that helps keep sanity in tact.

And then there's the other camp
who walks through life
like they constantly parading down
the Thanksgiving buffet line.

Weekends packed with social events? Of course!
Summers spent bouncing from here to there? Duh.
Homeschool all your children? Oh, that sounds fun.

And while there may not be precision in all of these endeavors,
there is joy found in taking them on
and doing your best at them.

So while I'm trying to figure out
how big my plate actually is
(I fear it may be more like a cafeteria tray),
I'm enjoying the ride
and feeling thankful for a husband & baby
who enjoy the craziness with me.

* * *

This post was adapted/stolen from one of Leslie's about a year ago.
I've been chewing on the idea ever since
and whenenver things get crazy,
I start to reevaluate the concept.

One thing I don't question 
is how awesome Anthropologie 
does homeware.

These plates are kicking.

A Random Afternoon in Paris?

Here's a question for you:

What would you do with a
random afternoon in Paris?

Because that, my friends,
is the question
I need answered today...
or tomorrow (depending on your timezone)

Early Wednesday morning,
I'm hopping on the Eurostar
and heading to Paris
for some work meetings...
but Ive got the afternoon & early evening free.

I'll get to spend some time 
with a super cool and amazing friend...
I'm hoping that the combination
of her amazing faith & foxy style
sat amongst the gorgeous autumn weather
and the charming Parisian streets
will be a good pick-me-up.

{Ye olde Aspiring Kennedy has had better years!}

But forget about the years...
let's just take one day at a time.

And the particular day
we need to focus on right now
is in Paris, France!

I've got a rough draft in my mind
of how to fill the time,
but I'm curious to hear 
what you would do
if you could spend an afternoon 
in the lovely city of Paris.

And yes, of course,
I'll be happy to eat a pastry for you.

And a Croque Madame.

And a crepe.

Because I'm just a nice person like that. 

{PS. I think I'm going to have to make a pharmacy run for some Bioderm. Who wants a bottle?}

Weekend Rambles

This week was a long, tiring week.

There was nothing bad about it,
 in fact, it was packed full a lot of good/fun things.

If you follow my Instagram insanity,
you may have seen the non-stop line up 
that happened this week
Tower of London, Dover Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Hampton Court, etc...
along with every tea room & bakery 
in between here & there.

But this morning we woke up groggy
with the immediate need to recover.

So we pushed the alarm to snooze,
cuddled the baby between us 
to convince her to sleep later,
and slept in till 11.

We walked around Portobello Road,
had lunch in one of our favorite pubs, The Pelican,
grocery shopped at the produce stalls & butcher,
queued up like lemmings for a cupcakes at Hummingbird,
and came home for an easy/early night back in the flat.

joining the masses all for a little bit of baked goodness. totally worth it, by the way.
Thanks for the hat, Caley!
A few hours out
with a day like that
and you'll be convinced
that the scales of life
are starting to tip back in your favor
and heavily on the side of awesome.

Except once we got home- 
the baby wouldn't nap,
the boeuf bourgnignon turned out to be more like boeuf soup...
and now, at 11:16, I'm sitting down
after cuddling a certain 7-month old 
who was definitely not wanting to go to bed.

(I suppose this was her form of payback for us conning her to sleep in?)

And perhaps this was my payback for her not going to bed?

Now I'm sitting here
feeling too tired to take a much needed bath,
defeated by the endless visa renewal whisper -talk
Tyler & I had while I rocked Viola,
and severely regretting offering my red velvet cupcake to Tyler
as he chomps in to it over an episode of Arrested Development.

Thank goodness tomorrow is a new day...
And for a husband who saved me the last bite of cupcake 
without me even asking.

*     *    *

Anyone have any special remedy 
for being really tired
and/or adding a few extra hours to the day?
I'll pay you in digestive cookies & ginger beer.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Homeward Bound

Every time Tyler and I have a free night,
I always ask for the same thing:

Can we lay in bed and watch a girly movie?

I don't think it has ever actually happened...
but if I have to fault Tyler for one thing
I guess ignoring this request
in lieu of getting Thai takeout and Arrested Development
isn't too severe of a mark against him.

Plus, he does the laundry
so I pick my battles.

I loved being pregnant for the very reason I was entitled to hibernate. I wished for bedrest!

So while my aspirations of lounging in bed
a la Charlie's grandparents 
as they wish him well for the chocolate factory
have yet to win out,
I could win big
with a lineup like this
for our next night in.

Too bad I couldn't find 
Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia to add to this lineup...
because that always join this house party.

What's your "normal" for a slacker night in?

Amber & Tyler: Notting Hill Engagement Shoot

If you don't know my friend, Amber, by now...
you should.

I was trying to think of her today
and how to best describe her
and the word "thoughtful" kept coming to mind.

I hope that everyone is as lucky as I am
to have a friend like Amber.

From hooking us up with the best hotel for our babymoon,
to hosting & cooking for family after Viola was born,
and so many countless other ways 
she selflessly is a friend to me,
I feel truly honored to get to be a bridesmaid
in her upcoming wedding to Tyler.

No, not to my Tyler, 
her Tyler-
who deserves his own post for being great.

The wedding is also in Maui 
so, duh, I'm completely thrilled.

When I saw her engagement pictures,
I actually clapped with delight.

What can I say?

I'm a sucker for seeing
the people I love
being madly in love
in a neighborhood I love.

So here they are,
the Micklesons (to-be)
in all their Notting-Hill-lovey-dovey-goodness.

(And their little pup, Pippa!)

We love you both so much!

If you want to buddy up to Amber
(which I totally recommend)
start her by checking out her cute blog, 

*    *   * 

If you're in the mood to look at more pretty pictures,
check out my maternity pics
taken in this same neighborhood
by the talented (and dear friend), Liz Denfeld.

*photography by Kytography

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