The Family Joules

 

Doing a house swap is nothing short than a leap of faith. I was a bit nervous to see, in real life, where I had committed us since it was so remote and I had brought my in-laws across the country to join us. We arrived late at night and so the general impression of the area was... dark?

But when we woke up the next morning, we realized what a perfect place this house was. 

The house had a screen-in porch with rocking chairs on it. They overlooked the back of the property and it was the sweetest place to start the day. We kept ourselves a bit jet lagged, and were always the first to rise. It gave us the chance to spend the mornings alone with coffee and time to read. After a few years in the city without outdoor space, it was a really nice treat.

But our favorite part about the house was beyond the porch.

Outside the porch and down a little hill ran the sweetest little river. That first morning when we sat together drinking coffee, we knew that we hit the jackpot. (And with it being so low, it was even better because we didn't have to stress over the kids playing in it.)

 

We spent a lot of our time on the trip playing out there. Wading in the stream. Eating raspberries off the bush. Filling pockets with rocks. And all the other things that I wish Viola got to do more of in London. 

 

(The sweatshirt says "Tallyho!" and I love it.)

 

While the weather during the day was warm, the temperature would start to drop and hint of the autumn days ahead. It was so nice. (It was the perfect place to break-in some new fall clothing from Joules!)

 

 

I love Joules Wellies. They just make something that can look a bit dumpy so much cuter. (Next purchase will be these boots.)

 

So there you have it. Our successful house swap... and some family pics in the river to commemorate it. 

Thank you Joules for sending over the threads. And thank you, Blair, for taking a leap of faith on our place, too. 

Have an apartment overlooking the Eiffel Tower? A villa in Tuscany with a vineyard? A cottage on the beach in Nantucket? A picturesque apartment in Spain? We can always be persuaded to swap our 2bd in Notting Hill for the right spot! ;)

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

 

Posted on August 28, 2015 and filed under fashion, kids, travel.

The Berkshires Seemed Dreamlike...

 

Ever since my parents decided to do family vacation in the Berkshires, I've had James Taylor's Sweet Baby James floating through my mind. (The original JT, if you ask dorky old me.)

We stayed in Stockbridge in a house on 20 acres just off the lake. While there were six people in my family originally, we've busted out to a headcount of 18 now, so finding a place where we can all fit is getting to be more of a challenge. Luckily, this house was the perfect fit for us. 

I can't really account for how the week was spent. Watching kids play in the yard, sneaking off to breakfast in town during the mornings while trying to not wake up the remaining non-jet-lagged, cooking in the kitchen, sitting in chairs along the lake while the kids swam, and just... I don't know, enjoying summer like it should be enjoyed.

We did get to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra play at Tanglewood one night which was amazing. My sister, Brooke, whipped up dinner in a way that only she can. We feasted on the most gorgeous array of salads and topped off the picnic with grilled pound caked covered in strawberries. It was wonderful. The evening ended with fireworks and the whole scene was just perfect.

I think I ate donuts every single day, too... which is nothing new.

And dessert covered in ice cream. Again, no surprise.

I also ate a lot of blueberry pancakes. And blueberry scones. And blueberries straight out of the orchard.

 

While I expected to have fun and eat well, one thing really surprised me about our trip. It was watching Viola and her cousin Carter become the best of friends. They had so much fun together and the end of the trip resulted in some big tears (from the parents, especially). I wish she had Carter in London, but I know they have a life of friendship to enjoy.

 

 

What a great week. (Thanks Mom & Dad1) I can see how people can get addicted to that little piece of heaven. The Berkshires are my kind of place.

 



A few of the things that we loved during our week were:

Prarie Whale: If you're in the area, this is the place you want to go for your night out. Perfect for a date or kids (the front lawn has a pingpong table and bean bag toss!) Don't miss the fried chicken or the french fries. Delicious.

Tanglewood: This legendary outdoor venue is the perfect place for a summer night. Bring a picnic with you- as nice as you want. We brought chairs and a table, and it was perfect. Go early to reserve your spot on the lawn- you can drop your stuff off hours before the performance.

Haven Cafe Bakery: In Lenox, there is a great breakfast spot. Go before 9 (seriously- the line gets awful!) and get the huevos rancheros. Or croissant french toast. Or the pancakes. Or ... well, whatever. You'll be fine.

The Red Lion Inn: This quaint inn located in the heart of Stockbridge is the perfect spot to go for a fun afternoon on the patio or to start the day with some blueberry pancakes in their gorgeously old dining room. The inn has been in the same spot since 1773, it is stocked full of character.


 

FOLLOW ASPIRING KENNEDY ON BLOGLOVIN

 


 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on August 26, 2015 and filed under travel.

Boston is a Boss Town.

 

Editor's Note: I wrote this days ago, but have been too busy with life/fun/traveling/babies/school to post it... but oh well. Everyone is still on vacation anyway, right? 

 

My parents arrived in Cambridge (Massachusetts, that is) at the end of their honeymoon at the ripe ages of 21 and 20, respectively. They came with a car stuffed full of their clothes and things ready to start a new life together as my dad started business school at Harvard. Those two small town kids spent the next two years having their minds blown by the big city life, freezing cold winters living along the water, and the sudden influx of an amazing cast of characters into their lives. A year after arriving to Boston, my oldest sister was born in the Harvard Medical School. And a year after that, my parents were so broke that they had to leave town before my dad could walk for graduation because they didn't have enough money to pay rent for the extra weeks between exams and graduation.

Since then, they've always held Boston in a special light. (After our time in Oxford, I can kind of understand the sentiment.) Growing up, we would stop through Boston at various points, but it has been about 15 years since we were last here.

This summer, my parents graciously decided to do split the distance with us and do our family vacation in the Berkshires. I've been so excited, I can't even begin to tell you. New England is so charming to me, and I've had visions of cozy mornings over coffee and blueberry pancakes dancing through my head for months.

But London doesn't have a huge selection of flights (or any, actually) to the Berkshires... so we flew into Boston to start the trip.

I'll be honest: I wasn't ready for Boston. With all the daydreams of the time we would spend out in the mountains, I didn't do my homework for how we would spend our two days in Boston. I was left scrambling and sending Bridget texts as she packed up her brood for three months in Italy the night before we (and they) left town, begging for suggestions. 

In the end, it turned out to be just fine. (It kind of always does, doesn't it?) We stayed at the Sheraton Boston -big fluffy beds, massive hotel (Starbucks in the lobby!), nice loation, but most importantly, they had great customer service! I told the man at the front desk that him being so nice felt like a welcome home hug. (I love England, but man- God bless America for the customer service.)

We explored the amazing Boston Public Library, ate from food trucks and played in the huge water fountain/splash area at the First Church of Christ Scientists massive complex, melted at the Red Sox game at Fenway, ate Legal Seafood and spent Saturday morning wandering over to Blackbird Donuts

 

It was so fun! But.... I know we could have done better. And next time, I want to do better! So here's where I need your help: LEAVE A BOSTON SUGGESTION BELOW. Please! I would really appreciate if you chipped in with your list of best things to do/see/eat/etc... I have a feeling some of you guys know just the type of things I'm looking for. :)

 




*images original to Aspiring Kennedy


Posted on August 22, 2015 and filed under travel.

A Casual Day Out... in Iceland

 

When we were buying tickets to fly to the States this summer, the prices were terrible. We could only find flights that were around $1700+ that required a layover in the most absurd places with terrible times. Each night, we would flick open our laptops and scroll through Sky Scanner with scowls on our faces as we looked at terrible option after terrible option.

And then one night, we found fares on IcelandAir that were $850 per person. Yes! Like (all? most?) of IcelandAir flights, transatlantic journeys require a stop in Iceland before continuing on with the second leg. We figured this was a much better option, as it was actually on the way for where we were going... rather than a weird jaunt in an another direction, like some of the other options we had like Barcelona or Rome. And to be honest, while typically I would do almost anything to avoid a non-direct flight with babies, it seemed kind of nice to split the journey up into to shorter flights with some breathing room in between them.

Plus, we know Iceland pretty well now and it made spending 18 hours less intimidating and more exciting. The airport in Iceland is actually in Keflavik- about 45 minutes drive from the capital, Reykjavik. While we may have felt the need to book a hotel in Reykjavik when we first started traveling to Iceland, we know now that staying in Keflavik was the right option for this leg. It's a small, cute town along the coast with enough to do/eat/see to entertain us for the day without exhausting us. It is also where the famous Blue Lagoon is located, in case you plan to stop over in Iceland. (Side note: If you stop over in Iceland with babies/toddlers- you MUST have a car seat for them in taxis. It's the law.)

This time, we tried a new hotel and stayed at Hotel Keflavik: located in the heart of Keflavik, decent rooms, free ride to the airport, super kind staff, but most importantly- amazing homemade breakfast overflowing with pastries, skyr yogurt, sandwiches, fruits, meats, juices and coffee. YUM!

We spent the day lounging in the cozy duvets, walking around town, playing along the sea, hiking up the hill along the coast, and taking power naps before we rolled out with our bags for the airport that evening. 

Iceland showing off in a big way with some fabulous summer weather- which was a new perspective for us, since we typically come in September/October. That 55 degree temperature was nearly tropical. ;)

It was a great little teaser for our annual trip there next month. Bring on the wool jumpers and the hats. I can't wait!

Thanks for the cozy stop, Iceland. We can't wait to see you again soon!

 


 

PS. I love IcelandAir so much: 2 bags free on transatlantic flights, boxes of headphones and activities for the kids to play with, amazing movie selections, cozy pillows and blankets... and just that cool Scandinavian aesthetic that is really awesome. Plus, the airline is rumored to be subsidized by the Icelandic government as a way to increase tourism... so our fares have always been very reasonable!

 

Interested in Iceland? Find the rest of my posts from Iceland here!

 



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on August 6, 2015 and filed under iceland, travel.

A Field Guide to British Biscuits

 

Tea. I mean, it is simple enough- hot water combines with tea and a beverage is created. Yet this, seemingly, straight forward cup of tea comes a lot of additional detail.

What type of tea do you drink? How do you take it? Loose leaf or tea bags?

Everyone has their preferences on how they drink their tea... but one of the more important details to discuss with tea is biscuits. (Because tea really shouldn't be drank without biscuits. And biscuits should definitely always be eaten with a hot cuppa.)

I'll say that while we, as Americans, lump biscuits into the general cookie category, but after a few years here- I can't do it anymore. There are cookies (softer, larger and more of a homemade nature) and then there are biscuits. Biscuits are crunchy, mass-produced and are sized small enough to fit perfectly when dunked into a mug of tea. 

And they are so, so cheap. Obviously, you can buy fancy biscuits at the famous department stores for several pounds per package... but if you head into any grocer, they'll have a huge section dedicated to the brand-name and generic versions of each of these biscuits. All costing anywhere from £0.40 per pack upwards to around £1.50. Basically, biscuits aren't a treat that is exclusive to the elite... no, no. Everyone has the right to enjoy a good biscuit with their tea.

So after years of taste testing, I present to you- the fruits of my labor. Yes, I give you a field guide to the best British biscuits. 


1. custard cream: a petite sandwich of two flat biscuits married by a custard filling. (most similar to: vienna fingers)

2. digestive: perhaps the godfather of all biscuits. a standard cookie that absorbs tea to an astounding degree when dunked. (most similar to: graham crackers)

3. bourbon creams: an oblong sandwich made from two long chocolate biscuits with a chocolate filling. also known as a "bourbon biscuit." pronounced as "bore-bun," rather than "bur-bin." (most similar to: e.l. fudge sandwich cookies)

4. shortbread finger: a butter cookie made, traditionally, of flour, sugar and butter. while shortbread can be made into several shapes, the finger makes for an excellent companion to tea. typically associated with scotland, as mary queen of scots is said to have brought the biscuit into popularity.

5. jammie dodger: a sandwich comprised of two flat biscuits with a jam filling (typically raspberry). some variations have sugar crystals on the biscuit or jam-filling.

6. jaffa cake: though in the biscuit family, the jaffa cake is actually comprised of a layer of sponge cake, covered in orange jam coated in chocolate. 

7.  nice biscuit: a small, crunchy biscuit that looks generic upon first glance, but stands out for it's coconut flavor and trademark "nice" stamp across the front. 

8. tunnock's caramel wafer: thin layers of wafers and caramel combine within a chocolate coating. while it may taste along the lines of a candy bar, it is definitely considered a tea-time staple. (most similar to: hard to say- but maybe something like the love child of a kit kat and a twix?)

9. chocolate covered digestive: though technically still a digestive, the chocolate variation on the classic is worthy of distinction. 

 


 

I know, I know. I skipped a few classics like ginger biscuits, wafers, rich tea biscuits and tea cakes. These are worthy candidates, but alas- they'll have to make someone else's line up of the best biscuits.

Now, study this with great diligence and make sure you do plenty of lab time with the subject. You won't be able to ace this topic unless you test all the subjects... many, many, many times.

 

What's your favorite tea & biscuits combo? ( I hold true to a cup of english breakfast (with milk) and custard creams.) 

 



 

 

*image original to aspiring kennedy

 

Posted on July 31, 2015 and filed under eat, england, hot tea, london.