The Truth About France.

The other night at a carol service at church, I was talking to a friend when her husband walked up. We chatted for a minute and then he said, "So was France really that great? Or do you just make everything look great for social media?"

Ha! It took me totally off guard, but I loved it because it's a completely fair question. So much of what I see online makes me wonder: Real or Fake. Do you feel the same? It can be so hard (and sometimes so obvious!) to see what is actually a special moment... and what is just a show.

I assured him: Yes. We really did have an awesome time. The few days we spent in Provence will go down as a great trip in our books.

But I also wanted to make it clear: Our trip was actually very normal. We flew budget airlines to get there, we rented an economy car and drove everywhere. We brought our own snacks, tea and coffee, and we didn't go anywhere that cost a dime to enter.

Was it full of some beautiful moments? Sure. We were in Provence. Was it full of some totally normal, boring moments? Mainly, yes, because despite what we constantly see on Facebook- that is what life actually is made up of. A bunch of normal ordinary moments. Sometimes you just find yourself in a prettier place to do them, like we did in Provence.

 

You know what I liked so much about this vacation? The fact that we were just there. We just did what we liked, we didn't worry about what we looked like (didn't wash or brush my hair the entire trip!), and we mainly ate simple meals at the house. It was a relaxed trip that didn't leave us feeling stressed about overspending or being overextended to see it all.

So maybe my Instagrams glowed a bit more than usual, but that wasn't from the need to show off or prove how great the trip was, it was a reflection of what a few days of rest surrounded by your people in someplace that's great can do for you.



 

I've said it before and I'll say it now: Skipping hotels and renting homes/apartments is the BEST way to travel. You get more space, you feel more local, and it's always so much cheaper! The price alone is better than booking a hotel- plus you save so much on meals out when you have your own kitchen. We stayed at this sweet home, Chez Ella, with James Villas. It was really wonderful! (They have so many great properties in Provence and all over Europe!) Now... I just need to figure out how to get back when it's warm enough to lay by that pool.

 

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on December 18, 2014 and filed under france, travel.

It's About Time.

 

When we were working in Paris this past spring, my sister & her husband came to visit. We had a lot of fun exploring the city during the day, but spend the nights cooking dinner at the apartment and lounging around unglamorously in our pajamas in the way you can really only do when it is family that is visiting.

During one of those (glorious!) nights, my sister made me watch ABOUT TIME.... oh my goodness. I loved it. I (kinda) remember when it came out, but didn't hear much about it. Ever since then, I've watched it probably 10 times. It's my go-to movie when I have some lazy alone time. 

I've been trying to tell people about how good it is ever since then. It reminds me of college days when I would preach the goodness of "this really cool British Christmas movie called, 'LOVE ACTUALLY' " to people who could have cared less. No one gave it a chance in theaters, but it eventually grew to fame afterwards. Slowly, people are starting to bring it up and mention how much they love it! Yay! I'm so glad it is getting the attention it deserves. And since it actually does share the same creator of Love Actually and Notting Hill, it's gotta to be kinda great.

So now is your chance, too. Go ahead and trust old, LBK, on this one. If you're into Romantic Comedies, mushiness and cute London settings (which I assume you might be if you put up with my blog!), then I really think you'll love ABOUT TIME.

I found the Youtube trailer, but it made the movie look.... meh. So, instead, I'm showing you a random clip from the movie that I think is sweet. It reminds me so much just the normal moments and routines that we experienced in our first few years in London.



Posted on December 15, 2014 .

Keeping In Cozy

 

While our house now is only 700 square feet, I can't pretend that we had to adjust that much to European housing standards. Back in Dallas, our little home was only just over 1000 square feet. I guess I've always been a sucker for character over size. It just makes the everyday living so pretty.

Except for when you have guests stay with you. Then life in small surroundings can get... cozy. I asked the always-cool Lesley Weaver to weigh in on how to keep it together while hosting in a small space. After working for years in publishing, she started her own publication, BUNGALOW MAG. Between all of that experience and her current role as Creative Director, she has a lot of cool houses that pull this off well. I've begged her for a few tricks for us to steal for the holiday season.

 


KEEPING IN COZY: Guest Solutions for Living In 750 SQ Feet and Under

From Leslie:  In my twenties,  I spent a year hopping around different cities on the quest for the perfect job only to return to a plush size pad in Dallas... a 700 square foot apartment. I was quoted in my company bio as being "ready to leave 300 square feet of living." Not entirely the full story, but that year I spent a couple months living on a couch in Los Angeles.

Most of us at some point have slept in difficult situations all in the name of 'togetherness' with family and friends. With the holiday season fast approaching, there are six ways you can make your guests comfortable in a 'space challenged' situation.

 

OVER ACCOMODATE. Make sure your guest needs are met before they ask. Wi-Fi passwords, extra blankets, towels, toiletries, bottled waters, snacks and outlet access to dock electronics are things most guests will need access to. | Bungalow Suggests: Soft bedding like the Biscayne Coverlet + Shams by Peacock Alley is very welcoming. This Woven Throw by John Robshaw allows for snuggling up at night and giving your guest temperature control. Guest Soaps by Clause Porto are perfect little mini soaps for a short visit.

 

BE CLUTTER FREE. Create storage solutions for your guest. Allow them to store blankets and bedding in baskets, store luggage in coat closets,  and share a little counter space in the bathroom. The less stuff there is to navigate around the better. | Bungalow Suggests: Console by Blue Dot is perfect for storing dishes and silverware, as well as personal items and sheets. Drop pillows in the modern Basket from Bend and use the Bloak Ladder from Minam to hang extra towels, throws or bedding.

 

CREATE PERSONAL SPACE. Living rooms can often double as guest rooms. Make a point to be out of the 'guest space' at a reasonable time. A guest doesn't want to ask permission to go to sleep.

 

USE THE GREAT OUTDOORS. Break up the day and get some fresh air. Grab coffee, go on a walk, see a movie, or visit a museum. | Bungalow Suggests: NY Times 36 Hours from Taschen has ideas for outings in every major city.

 

CREATE A MOOD: Playing music can set a tone for any gathering. Keep music playing to fill in the moments of silence and entertain when you need to switch out of the host/hostess mode. | bungalow suggests: Carry your music all around the home with a Cone from Aether.

 

ESCAPE: Everyone needs a little downtime during an extended stay. Give yourself permission to go to your room and take a nap, read a book or just take a break.

 


What are your tips for creating personal space within small living quarters? We try to sleep in our guest room once ever six months so that we can make sure that everything is up to snuff- temperature, bedding, light coming in from the street, etc. It's amazing what you don't realize about a space until you actually sleep in it!

 

 

*image orignal to Aspiring Kennedy 

 

Posted on December 12, 2014 and filed under home, holiday, shopping.

Notes from the Road: Provence, France

 

Well in case you were worried, we are having the best time here in Provence. What makes this trip so special? It isn't painting in the countryside (like that one time), or spontaneously driving to Italy for lunch (like we talked about last night at dinner), or spending long dinners around the patio with friends (though that is lovely). 

Nope. What is making this trip so enjoyable is the fact that we are really relaxing. We are getting up when we naturally wake up, we spend the morning in our pajamas eating breakfast and taking our time to get ready, get something easy for lunch from a boulangerie and then wander around town until dinner time. Then it's back to the villa for cooking at home, watching a Christmas movie (or two!) and bath time. 

Does that seem like a waste of a vacation? Sometimes I feel the pressure to do MORE. Soak it all in. Squeeze out every great thing of a place. But there is something to be said for coming home from a vacation with actual restoration... and our little family needs that at this point in life.

I'm sitting here watching Viola color in her pajamas at 11:30, drinking coffee, and watching Tyler putter around the house as Christmas carols play. We're going to go eat lunch out... somewhere. Sometime soon. We aren't running on a script here. We're just going with the flow... and after four months of living with every moment preplanned as we juggled the chaos of work/grad school/life/nursery/church/friends... well, that feels more luxurious than anything.

There really is something so relaxing about having your own "home" during a vacation. It shifts your experience so much, and I'm so thankful for the little home we have found though James Villas. Beyond giving you the best type of vacation (in my opinion!), renting a private residence is also really cost effective when traveling. We seemingly always spend the least while enjoying ourselves the most on these types of vacations.

I guess this leads me to my conclusion that if/when we hit it big, we need to buy a house in the countryside of Tuscany. But that is a subject for another day... Though, I'd love to hear where your dream "second home" would be below. (It's a subject I can never tire of dreaming about!)

 

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*images orignal to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on December 11, 2014 and filed under france, travel.

This is the (Provencial) Life.

 

Tomorrow, we are heading off to Provence. Get this: despite all the traveling we do (and have done in the past two years), this is our FIRST family vacation since Viola was born. We've only ever been on trips for work or with extended family... so, here we are. Just the three of us heading out on for the first time to see nobody except each other... and do nothing but what we feel like. I'm actually really excited.

provence lavender fields aspiring kennedy

Since I am going for fun (and not work!), I'm feeling so much whimsical about the trip... especially relation to packing! I'm actually dreaming of wearing cute clothes... rather than my standard lineup of practical tour-guide-lady attire. The only problem is.... my closet is so out of date, and I'm trying really hard to NOT veer off our budget this fall. (Especially with Christmas coming up so quickly.) Let's see if I can pull off a look similar to this one with what I've got in mind. Fingers crossed. 

Make sure you follow along the fun via my Instagram. In the meantime, I'll be tossing clothes around my bedroom in a fury and playing The Good Year in the background to get me in the mood. (I love that movie. Have you seen it?)

 

PROVENCE STYLE GUIDE aspiring kennedy

ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE

 

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*image 1, image 2 orignal to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on December 8, 2014 and filed under france, travel.