GIVEAWAY: Ellington Handbags


I'm your normal female
when it comes to my
weakness for a pretty handbag.

I can fall in love pretty quickly...
but I never buy them.

I want to keep my collection
as edited as possible.

One because it sounds cooler to say that,
but secondly -and more importantly-
we live in 750 sq ft.

Nothing that isn't essential
can fit in our home.

So, I am pretty judicious about what I haul home.

Maybe that's why when I say
I have an Ellington bag
and *like* it,
you'll know it's actually something special.

I first bought it 
because it seemed like a great travel bag.

It won't get beat up,
it has lots of pockets,
and it goes from a fold-over
to a tote when I need to cram in
all the excess junk you do
when traveling.

Oh, and they don't cost a million dollars.




My MIA tote came to Iceland with me
and I realllllly liked it.

Come to find out,
these bags are a favorite among a lot of other people, too.

Maybe you'll be the next fan.





I'm really happy that one of you will win 
a Mia tote bag worth $179 (just like mine)
thanks to the super cool people at Ellington.

(Thanks, Ellington!)



They nice people at Ellington are also offering
all the Aspiring Kennedy crowd
with your purchase of $179 or more
when you use code
KENNEDY2014.

(I like the tan one, but there are tons of colors.)

**Update- the pouch won't show up in your cart, 
but will be added to your order. 
Indicate your preferred color in the notes at purchase.


Okay, giveaway open now.




*winner will be selected Monday

Here And There


Well, I was in London...
but now we're in Texas.

After a few days 
of traveling, jet-lagging, binge eating, and hustling,
we are now
unwinding, getting back to working, and detoxing...

...oh yeah, and blogging.

Nothing too fancy,
but I thought I would brighten your Tuesday
(it is Tuesday right?)
with some things
that have been snagging my attention.

. . .


I saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty last night...
Tyler & I both agreed Ben Stiller is getting better looking with age,
however, we disagreed about liking the movie.
(Him = meh. | Me = yay.)

Anyone else love it as much as me?

*

I'm giving my site a facelift 
with the help of the always fabulous, Kelly.

She just does the best site design...
I'm such a big fan.

(Look for the updated, spiffy look soon.)

*

I may be the last girl on the planet 
not to have a Kate Spade cell phone...
but I finally got one (from here)
after my long-standing $5 amazon find busted.

*










I can't believe our babymoon
was over a year ago.

Man, that trip was fun.

Enough fun for this pregnant girl
to forget she was the size of Italy
and waddle around the streets of Venice
 for hours on end
while her legs swelled to the size
of giant salamis...

What I would give 
to be back in that moment...

I think I'd freeze time and just stay there forever.




















*

Baby GAP came out with a Paddington Bear collection.
Be still my beating (or was it bleeding?) wallet.



Also along the
I-need-to-stop-spending-our-clothing-budget-on-baby lines:

I'll blog about them more later
when I host a giveaway for Minnetonka,
but in the meantime- $20 for a pair. 

They even got a "those are ridiculously cute" from Tyler...
who, if you know Tyler, doesn't say those kinds of things
just to make me feel good about my shopping haul.

*

Also, the lady-sized pair is pretty great 
for loafing around the house in...
I already am dreaming of a rainbow of them in my closet.


*

Oh, and speaking of giveaways...
tomorrow, there's going to be one here
for one of my favorite travel bags by Ellington.

Be back later this week for your chance to win.


. . .


And now, 
me and my Costco-sized tub of JIF
are headed to the couch
with an apple, The Sound of Music
and absolutely no shame.

(Okay, fine... a little shame. Stupid detox.)





*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

French Women Don't Get Facelifts.


Just last week,
Tyler & I were talking about
the wrinkles we've acquired
over the past year.

Whether it's getting older
(hello, 30, I see you, too!),
having a baby,
loosing a baby,
or a combination of them all-
for the first time,
I look in the mirror
and see someone noticeable older
looking back at me.

Tyler & I both poke at 
our random grey hairs
and eye wrinkles
with fascination and shock.

But we don't really mind.

In fact, we both wear them proudly...

Somehow it would feel cheap
to have gone through life
without them...

So, here we sit,
at 31 (him) and nearly 30 (moi).

I've splurged on some fancy skin cream
to slow down the process, 
but at the same time-
it's made me start to think 
about what it means to age
and how I feel about it.

And guess what?

I feel good about it.
I like the idea of being 40... 50... 60-
and not just that,
I like the idea of looking like that, too.

I don't want to always pretend like I'm 21...
or dress like that.

(Somehow I should toss in a not-Forever-21-line,
but I'm lazy and... well, you get the jist anyway.)

As we discussed what it meant
to own our ages,
I told Tyler I'll be happy to be 40...
"but a French forty."

Because somehow French women act their age
while also looking completely relevant & attractive.

So with this topic on my mind,
I was really excited to see
that this book is out.
















This is the sequel to the famous
"Why French Women Don't Get Fat,"
Mireille Guiliano wrote a new book addressing 
how women in France
balance ageing and beauty.

While I'm not committing
to 100% of everything Giuliano says,
I think there is something really beautiful
(and normal!)
about owning your age.

(Book available here.)

*  *  *

Here are some highlights from the book
(via InStyle's clever review)
to give you a taste:


1. See the “you” now.
In order to “manage your aging,” Guiliano says it’s important to see yourself as you truly are now– on the inside and outside. Instead of living in the past and seeing the younger (and probably slimmer) you, Guiliano advises women to “stop kidding themselves” and starting seeing the you now.
In her signature tell-it-like-it-is tone, Guiliano writes: “Realistically projecting, assessing the options, then shaping what we can and should be doing during the various later stages of life’s road is the powerful mental medicine that can cure some of our ills and enhance our pleasures through life.”
“Certainly in France, a woman in her forties and fifties is still alluring and seen as an object of desire and acts the part. She feels it and acts it, but doesn’t pretend she is ageless.”
2. Think like a French woman.
What we really love about French Women Don’t Get Facelifts is Guiliano’s ability to make aging gracefully seem fun and easy. It’s clear that Guiliano enjoys life and living it to the fullest. In her book, she encourages women to do the same by adopting a French woman’s attitude. She writes: “And French women, if they are anything, are individualistic in how they present themselves. Their outer package is infused with inner style and beauty and an ‘I don’t give a damn posture (which half the time they don’t, but they still dress to buy the morning’s baguette).’”
3. A little goes a long way. 
Throughout Guiliano’s book, she reminds us of the ineffectiveness of crash-dieting and extreme cosmetic procedures, such as facelifts. In a why-torture-yourself tone, Guiliano talks about the importance of daily activity that’s not necessarily strenuous, the power of a great haircut, dressing your age, having the right shoes, and other lifestyle adjustments to make as you grow older.
“Through your decades you can evolve with the times without losing your established identity,” she writes. “You can refresh your brand without going for a complete makeover and attempting to become some new person. That’s a bit like a crash diet, and such diets don’t work.”
4. Listen to your body. 
Guiliano also stresses the importance of recognizing the “five-pound alert.” She says that if you don’t take action after gaining five pounds, then you will just keep gaining and it will become harder to lose the weight. Guiliano’s secret to maintaining consistent numbers on the scale lies in her dietary choices. In one chapter called, “An Anti-Aging Food Prescription,” Guiliano includes 15 recipes that she says have been part of her nutritional plan since her fifties, and some recipes since much earlier.
 5. Attitude is key.
At the end of the day, Guiliano believes attitude is most effective in appearing and feeling younger. Referring to attitude as a “magic pill” to looking younger, Guiliano says French women approach aging with a different mindset than women from most cultures, and that is what makes the difference – not grooming, clothing, nutrition or face and skin care. It is attitude, she says.
And along with this anti-aging attitude come two elements that save us in life. Guiliano writes: “…according to Indian journalist and novelist Tarun J. Tejpal, [they are] love and laughter. If you have one of the two, all is well. If you have both, you are invincible. Now there’s an attitude.”





Ring A Ding: Cell Phones & Traveling Abroad




Most people are confused & intimidated
by traveling abroad with a cell phone.

I get it, 
it's a bit confusing 
and the cost of doing it wrong
can be extremely expensive.

Here's are you two basic options:

You can either work out an international plan 
with your US provider to use your phone in Europe,
or you can buy on here and get a local number.

I would recommend using an international plan 
for anyone traveling under 2 weeks
and who will be staying in hotels.

If you're planning on a longer stay
and having an apartment
(or place to stay without a concierge to make your reservations for you),
I'd recommend buying a cheap prepaid phone upon arrival.


_______________


PROS ON BUYING A PHONE ABROAD

You won't get a surprise phone bill of a gazillion dollars when you get home.
Roaming in Ravenna? Data-charges in Denmark?
It's the quickest way to bleed cash that I know of…
take it from me.

I had no clue I was "roaming" when I backpacked for 5 weeks in college.

A month later, a cell phone bill over $2000 appeared in my mail box.

Your incoming calls are free- even if they are international calls.
Have old mommy dear call your new phone on Skype and it's super cheap.

You can book things easier here with a local number. 
Cab companies and restaurants won't accept international (read: US) numbers for reservations.

They are cheap and easy to put credit on.
Walk into a earphone warehouse and buy one for about £5.
You can add as much credit on it as you like.
I would guess £10 a week would be plenty for local texts & calls.
You can top up at anytime from most grocery stores or newsagents.


________________


CONS ON BUYING A PHONE ABROAD

You probably won't get to have data,
since most of the "pay-as-you-go" phones are super basic.
You'll have to get email and Facebook when you get back to your laptop.

Unless they are Skype savvy or your parents,
you probably won't get a lot of calls from your friends.
People get so confused with how to dial international numbers.

Your current US plan will go unused in the meantime
and will still cost your monthly fee.

* * *

How to Dial an UK Telephone Number

Let's say that this is the number you've been given.

+44 (0)7500 806 655

Here's how you would dial it 
LOCALLY IN THE UK:

07500 806 655

Simple.
 Just drop the country code
and start with "0."

____________


Here's how your mom would dial it 
INTERNATIONALLY FROM THE US:

011 44 7500 806 655

____________

Here's how you would dial it 
ON A CELL PHONE FROM THE US
(in or out of the UK):

+44 7500 806 655

(hold down the "0" to add the + sign at the beginning)

___________


Welp, that's all I have to say on this subject.

Have a nice day.

Okay.

Bye.

(click.)




*image via

Girls will be Girls.



Though the settings may change
as life evolves and moves on,
the ridiculous female shenanigans continue.

I think we all shake our heads
and "mmmm hmmmm" when we hear such talk...

But it's still happening.

So can we all make a promise:

Can we, as ladies,
just believe that people are doing
 the best that they can
and to take things for face value.

I think it would do the world some good.










How do you deal with girl drama?

Confront it & nip it in the bud?
Or ignore it and hope it goes away?


(Me? I think there is a time and place for both responses.)


*    *    *

While you're dreaming up a response,
here are some cute picks
that I hope every girl can agree on...





England is Great. Immigration is Awful.











Everyone do a little happy dance
in your sticky public transport seat on your commute,
or from your perch on the living room sofa,
or your creaky desk chair in your cubicle...
or wherever else you may be
as you read this...


Because after six weeks of the UKBA
(read: UK Border Agency)
loosing our birth certificates, marriage certificates, 
social security cards, residence cards, tax documents...
and, oh yeah, our passports-
they have finally been found
and delivered back to us!


And all you Americans
can also join me
 for a little added twirl
celebrating the special fact
that as of this weekend
 this trio will be on your continent
for a brief little tour of duty
before our Paris days begin.


.   .   .


Or comment below with the most awesome thing
that's happened to you this week
for a chance to (easily) top mine.






*photo by noah darnell for aspiring kennedy

Come one, come all | Girls Night Out


Hey, wanna do dinner sometime?

I know a good pizza place
in Notting Hill- Otto.

(In fact, you've probably seen me instagram from it quite frequently.)

This won't be anything fancy or formal...

Just a way to hang out and get together
for some chatting and good food...

Like "good food" as in 
"two hot chocolate chip cookies 
straight from the oven
separated by a mountain of vanilla ice cream" good.

(aka- the best kind of good)




So who's invited?

If we've met before, you're invited!

If we haven't, you're invited, too!

If you just moved to London,
don't know anyone
and would feel super awkward coming-
hey, you're invited, too!

(In fact, you may need to be there the most. It's lonely being in a new country!)

* * *


Monday, Jan 13th
(yes, like this Monday)
at 6:30pm.

No pre-paying or anything
for this shindig.







Just RSVP to me
lauren@aspiringkennedy.com
so I can know how many people
will be there for the fun.


Happy Weekend!



*images via




Notting Hill: Family Style



When you live in Notting Hill,
the increase in rent
requires a sacrifice of the size of home
you could get in other areas of London.

So for us, 
"home" expands beyond the four walls of our tiny flat
and into the picturesque neighborhood that surrounds us.

The bustling market
full of once-loved treasures,
the pretty cafes that tempt you as you pass by
with their windows piled with fresh goodies,
and the endless sea of the iconic colorful houses
all come with settling in Notting Hill...

... and we think that's worth more 
than a second bathroom
or extra storage space.


So after our Houzz shoot the other week,
we jumped at the chance to have
Noah Darnell shoot some pictures of our family
wandering through the neighborhood.

I had every intention of sending these out 
as our Christmas cards,
but it never happened.

Luckily, I still have an amazing selection
of really sweet pictures from that day.

Some that mirror the images
Liz took of us for my bump shoot
around Notting Hill.

I love having our lives at this point in time captured.

I have no doubt that if or when we move on from our lives here,
I'll pour over these pictures
and long to relive these days again.

(Thank you, Noah!)





Started in the 0.4% and now... that face. 























*images by Noah Darnell

The Lovely Drawer: Spiced Pear Cheesecakes


So the holidays are over.

Womp. Womp.

Unless you are planning (re: neglecting) your Christmas tree
until it's a dry skeleton of what it once was
and hanging Valentines Day cards from it
like we run a high risk of doing...

January is a bit of dry spell of celebrating.

So... 
here's a little party you can throw for yourself:

these cheesecakes.

We went to dinner at Teri & Nick's the other week
and she made these for us as "pudding" (re: dessert).

With it's pretty figs setting on top for decoration,
I jokingly referred to is as a Figgy Pudding...
and I, of course, also flipped out
because it was delicious.

* * *





Any cheesecakes is usually a winner but I have to say I spend a lot more time making baked cheesecakes than set ones. In my head I'd somehow resolved that they were far superior. But then again the appeal of a dessert that doesn't actually even need cooking is quite tempting, especially when it involves mascarpone! 


I adapted this cheesecake recipe to form a spiced, winter version which would almost be warming...if it was so...chilled. I used a 3x1.75 inch mini cheesecake pan with removable bases. You could even smaller versions and make more or use 9 inch springform/ loose-bottomed tin for a standard cheesecake. My tin equated to 7 mini cheesecakes. Mini desserts are my fave! 




Cheesecake

1 C crumbled spiced biscuits, like Lotus (read: Speculoos) biscuits or similar.
1 oz walnuts 5 tablespoons unsalted butter2 pearsfigs for decoration2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp nutmegtbsp firmly packed brown sugar14 oz full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature11 oz mascarpone, at room temperature3/4 C icing sugar, sifted1 tsp vanilla extract2 1/4 C water













1. Put the biscuits and walnuts in a bag and crush with a rolling pin until fine or blend in a food processor. Add 1 tsp of the cinnamon.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and then take off the heat stir in the biscuit and nut mix.


3. Press the mixture into each mini cheesecake tin. Compact well with your fingers or the bottom of a spoon and leave in the fridge while you prepare the rest. 

4. Peel and cut the pears into small chunks. Heat the water in a saucepan and add the sugar and the other tsp of cinnamon. Stir in and allow to dissolve. Add the pears and cook covered for about 15 mins. Allow to cool.

5. Combine the cream cheese and mascarpone in a mixing bowl and use handheld electric mixer to blend the cheeses together until light and fluffy.

6. Add the icing sugar a little at a time to incorporate and then add the vanilla to the mixture.

7. Make sure the pear mixture is cool and then squeeze the excess liquid out, gently through a sieve. Stir into the cheese mixture.

8. Spread this over your biscuit bases. Fill each mini tin and smooth over the top with a knife or spatula. 

9.Chill in the fridge for at least a few hours, ideally over night. The cheesecake firms up best when you remover them from their tins a few hours before serving and leave them in the fridge until you are ready to eat. Cut your figs into quarters and place on the top of each cheesecake.


Caramel sauce1 1/4 C powdered sugar
5 ounces double cream (or heavy whipping cream)
3.5 tablespoons butter




1. Transfer the sugar into a heavy based frying pan, stir in 4tbsp water and then place over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Turn up the heat and bubble for 4-5 mins until it forms caramel.
3. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the cream and butter. Leave the sauce to cool and then transfer into a squeezy bottle.
4. Drizzle over your cheesecakes.






* * *


So, there you have it.

2014 just got a lot more awesome.


Check out more of Teri's cool creations
on her prettier-than-mine blog, The Lovely Drawer.






*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

The French Camel


There are tons of reason 
I'm excited to get back to France,
but I can't deny that 
the refresh to my style 
won't be a big one.

I've been wearing the same clothes
for a realllly long time...
pretty much since we last were in Paris.

Not that I'm waiting to 
dump beaucoups of cash
in the haute couturiers of France...

But simply because I'm so inspired
by the effortless chic style
of the women in Paris.

I need to absorb some of that...
because the look I have is 
miles away from chic.

It's more.... 
wrinkled and snagged.

One item I do have ready
from our last life in Paris
is my camel coat.


photo by noah darnell









This piece is perfect for Paris
in so many ways.

It's dressy, but quiet.

It's warm, but allows layers.

It's casual, but cleaned-up.

It's one of my favorite souvenirs I've ever bought.

It makes me feel 40% less of an impostor
and almost like a local 
wandering through places like the Luxembourg Gardens.

_________

In the post-Christmas sales,
there are some more great tan coats
currently up for grabs.

Check my picks below
to update your look
with items that are tres cheap.

(Well, at least, at great sale prices.)







*images original to Aspiring Kennedy



FOURSALE: Chunky Knit Scarf (Mini)


Yesterday, Viola & I needed some fresh air
after two days in the house
per doctor's orders to stay home
and avoid risking another infection.

I was booooored.

So, I threw on her coat, bow and scarf
and headed out to get some sunshine.

We lasted about 4 minutes
until she started trying to eat leaves
and my neighbor came up to chat
telling me all about the terrible flu
her family is passing around to each other.

(Cue Lauren inching back up the steps towards the door.)

But before the leaves and the plague debacle,
I got to snap a few pics of Viola 
showing off her new Christmas scarf
that Tyler's mom made her.

And promptly posted to Instagram.

(Naturally.)



. . . .

And then my inbox got flooded
with emails asking where it came from.

So, I called up my mother-in-law
and asked her to be the next foursale
for this little old blog.

And, since she loves us, she said yes.

So here you go:

The cutest baby scarves you ever saw.

They are no-fuss and super cute.

The wooden button is easy to fasten 
anywhere you like on the scarf.




Go getcha one
and channel that 
Baby-sitting-on-some-steps-in-Notting-Hill look.


And if you don't have a nino,
you can get one in adult size
to match the one she made me.

It has three wooden buttons and can button into tons of combos.

I'll be wearing the crap out of mine this spring
in the frigid Paris winter.




Size



A few notes:

  • Since my mother-in-law will be making these by hand custom for Aspiring Kennedy, please allow 10-15 business days for your order to arrive!
  • US shipping only. If you live outside the US, just email me and we can get you sorted with one, too! lauren@aspiringkennedy.com
  • I love babies in scarves.





*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Paris? Mais, Oui!



With the craziness of holidays, baby, work
combined with me being an air-head,
I almost forgot to say it here:

We are headed (back) to Paris for the spring!

This February, we are headed back
to the City of Lights
for another springtime of 
crepes, chambray, picnics along the river, Degas,
pastries, Monoprix sales, steak-frites, freezing in the Paris weather,
and making memories that will stay with us forever.

It's not exactly uprooting your life
to go somewhere else for 3 months,
but what great things in life
come without a bit of hard work & trade-off?










Instead of feeling interrupted or burdened
I feel thankful for my boss + job
and grateful for a husband 
who is supportive and 
who can, for the most part, work anywhere.



... and, I'm excited to dress Viola in French baby clothes.


*    *   *


To take a peek at our previous life in Paris,
take a wander through here.






2013: An (Aspiring) Year In Review








In keeping up with tradition
of the past years (2011, 2012)
let's take a look at the highlights of 2013.




JANUARY




FEBRUARY




MARCH




APRIL




MAY




JUNE





JULY




AUGUST




SEPTEMBER





OCTOBER




NOVEMBER




DECEMBER



*  *  *


In some ways,
2013 was really similar to the others.

Lots of travel, London & mushy talk...

Yet, also different. 

Babies were added.
A baby was lost.

Our hearts shattered.
Our heart grew bigger than we ever imagined.

But mainly,
our lives were made so much better.

(Thanks, Viola.)


*  *  *


Thanks for being a part of this year.

Welcome to the next chapter
of our crazy adventure.






*photo by Noah Darnell

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