An English/British/Aussie/South African Accent

Our first year in Oxford, Tyler and I loved the accents all around us. When we would have interactions with people- from the grocery clerk, a nurse or one of his Oxford classmates- we often would repeat phrases back to each other later. It was so fun to hear the new accent of those around us. 

After a few months, it got to this weird confusing point where you are familiar with the words and your start to want to speak in an accent back. But you don't because you actually sound like a wacko. A few of the expats I've asked about this laugh and can recount hilarious stories of when their pseudo English accents slipped out mid-converstation. It's a  awkward moment when you go to buy something at the GAP and when the clerk speaks to you, you blurt out a response that would make Elize Doolittle sound profound before you can think twice. The shock on both parties faces is one that doesn't leave your mind for a long time.

But now... well, now, we don't hear accents. I know that sounds crazy- but when I meet someone, I have a hard time telling where they are from by how they speak. It's more what they speak about- rather than how they say it- that tells me if they live in England. Maybe it's because there are so many expats in our lives that we get immune to the difference or perhaps its because those once once peculiar words and phrases now seem everyday... but either way, now everyone- Irish, English, South African, or whatever- just kind of sounds the same.

When people ask me what Viola's accent is like, I'm honestly not sure how to answer. She just sounds like a little girl to me. Mainly American, I think... but with some British seasoned in it.

Anyway... just something that I noticed today when we were with some Oxford friends that we hadn't seen in a while. They are from New Zealand and I was thinking about when we first met. I think I understood about 1 out of every 6 sentences they said. Weird, right? Has anyone else ever melted into a place where things that once sound strange suddenly sound.... normal?



*image by Noah Darnell for Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on October 8, 2015 and filed under life.

Old New Hampshire


Want to know something crazy? We swapped our house with people we had never seen or met. Apparently, when I mentioned it earlier- it wasn't that crazy to many of you. You guys asked me to explain more, so I thought I'd give you a bit more detail here.

Earlier this year, I posted on my Facebook page to see if anyone would be interested in swapping places during the summer. Since we would already be in the Northeast with my family, we thought we would just try to see if we could extend the trip another week somewhere fun that was close by.

We ended up swapping out our two bedroom flat in Notting Hill with a blog reader (Hi Blair!) who has a sweet riverside home in Jackson, New Hampshire. (The one from my previous post with the amazing creek.) I wish I could tell you some amazing resource, but I did it through my blog. (Though it made me wonder if I should open a page up here for people to list their homes to other people who may want to swap? I wouldn't handle it beyond hosting... thoughts?)

I knew nothing about Jackson, but figured it couldn't be terrible. And it wasn't! In fact, it was awesome. The perfect place to spend the week with my inlaws! After the previous week with my family, it was honestly a bit more of the same. Easy days filled with small jaunts to surrounding towns, donuts/blueberry pancakes, and refereeing toddler play./

While we were there, local photographer Megan Bailey took some pictures of all the family. Our kids were jet lagged and the after-dinner shoot was a bit of rough timing for them... We were hot and flustered by the end of it. By the time we got in the car to leave, my hair was a fuzzy fro.  Some members of our family under the age of five might have been screaming and crying. Poor Megan! She still managed to get some pretty shots though. Sheer magic!


A few of the things we loved the most during our time in New Hampshire were:

White Mountain Cider Co. | I feel a bit silly posting this place on here because it's small and you can almost miss it, but then again- aren't those exactly the type of places that you love hearing about when you travel? This small cider mill has a great restaurant,  but we loved it for their casual deli where they crank out fresh sandwiches (really good ones!) and, more importantly, delicious cider donuts! 

Mount Washington Hotel | Tyler took me here for my birthday dinner. When we rounded the mountain and saw the enormous hotel in the valley, we both gasped and couldn't believe it. It felt like we had stepped back in time a hundred years. Or ended up in the Titanic or something. I have a feeling the dictionary has a picture of it by the word "Grand." But the hotel also offers itself to some nice casual moments, too. It's even worth the drive there to get drinks on the enormous wrap around porch or sitting on the lawn while the kids run buck wild. (We loved it so much we came back with everyone to do just that.)

Storyland | This came highly recommended and I am so glad we went. Storyland is the cutest little amusement park that, instead of highlight branded characters like every other place, makes heroes out of characters from classic fairy tales. It feels, again, like you've stepped back in time. Also, they have Dole Whips... so, must go.

Sunrise Shack | I think my favorite part of traveling is breakfast. For my birthday, we went here for blueberry pancakes, sausage patties (which you can't get in England!) and big mugs of coffee. Definitely casual. Definitely a local hang out. Definitely a place I recommend for a good morning out. (And the prices are super reasonable. I think our bill was around $18?)

Peach's | Again on the breakfast thread, Peach's is set in North Conway. This tiny restaurant delivers on the breakfast scene. It feels like you went to your great aunt's house for crepes or croissant french toast. The staff seems to have been working there for years and the service is quick and without error. Casual, fattening in the best way and happy to have kids, too. If the weather is nice, grab a table on the patio.



But the best part of traveling in such a random place was everyone sharing so many of their favorite places with us. It made our vacation SO much better. THANK YOU.

SO for anyone else headed that way, you'll have to check out my Instagram pictures from the Northeast. Each post was littered with great recommendations from local readers/followers. Tyler and I kept telling each other what an awesome bonus your input was to our trip! (I only wish we could have tried them all!)






*images by Megan Bailey



Posted on October 2, 2015 and filed under travel.

My Reykjavik: Sandholt Bakery


I'm starting a mini-series of a few of my (new!) favorite places to eat in Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik. The city has changed SO much since we first started traveling there four years ago. The rising economy and the boom in tourism is changing this city quickly. I'll sprinkle these out over the weeks to come. Be on the lookout if you're planning a trip to Iceland! 

The first place that I want to share with you is Sandholt Bakery. Shocker that I picked a bakery, no? But this place is the place to go when you are looking for something beyond the typically Scandinavian savory spread for breakfast. This is the place to find a perfectly baked croissant, a giant slice of cake... or some traditional pastries done just right. I don't know another place in Iceland that even competes with the level of baking that Sandholt does.


Because I do have access to great croissants in London, I asked the girls working what were the "most Icelandic" things that I could try. If these are the best bakers in Iceland- I want to try the best of the best! They pointed me in the direction of a kleiner, snudar and vanilla danish. They added that the danish was more "Scandinavian" than specifically Icelandic... but not to be missed.


Let me give you a little Icelandic-pastry-play-by-play....

First up, the kleiner. The kleiner is Iceland's answer to a donut. It's always in the traditional twisted diamond and is unfrosted. You can buy them in bakeries or in grocery stores in bags of ten. To be honest, they're not my favorite. I prefer a glazed, softer donut... but maybe, someday, they'll grown on me.

The next up on our trial list was the snudar- a sweet bun. You'll see these covered in caramel or chocolate. I opted for the chocolate, at the recommendation of the sweet girl working behind the counter. Again... I have to say, it wasn't my cup of tea. A bit too dry, but I could see how people could grow up and love these.

Yet don't worry... our visit was not fruitless. Last, and not least, was the vanilla and almond danish By far, it was the best treat I have had in a while. Oh my. GET THE DANISH.

The next day, my sweet friend, Ashel, went and bought me one for breakfast. I felt so spoiled to have a second chance with one of these lovely treats.

Make a stop by Sandholt when you're in Reykjavik. Whether you have time to sit down and enjoy sweets in their cafe- or just grab some goods for the go. (Plus, it's hard to beat the shopping around it on the hip street it is located on, Laugavegar.)

Sandholt Bakery. Laudavegar 36, Reykjavik Iceland  | +354 551 3524

 Open every day, 06:30am to 8:00/9:00pm




*images by Ashel Parsons



Posted on September 30, 2015 and filed under eat, iceland, travel.

Jumps and Leaps... and Life in Between.


This the first blog entry that I have written in a month. A month! At first, I was too busy to care. Then I was stressed because I hadn't blogged, but didn't have time with finishing my dissertation and starting my fall semester for work. After that, I forgot that I hadn't blogged and got addicted to Snapchat (@aspiringkennedy). And then I got to a moment of rest, I started to wonder if I actually wanted to just walk away from blogging completely. I had lived an entire month without it and... and? Well, life was the same.

But here I am. Back! Tyler says that starting a blog is like asking for a puppy for Christmas. You think it's all fun and cute... but eventually the newness wears off and the day-to-day responsibility sets in. Ha! But it is kind of true. I have been blogging for five years. While my life is not really tied to my blogging identity (promise!), it does have a lot of big moments of my life recorded here. And it's introduced me to you guys, too.

I can live without blogging, but there are some big values that I see that come from it. Tucking my memories away somewhere other than my brain. Articulating what is good and bad and sweet and hard about the stages of life you are in at the moment. Connecting with other people that can weigh in and cheer you on or give you new perspective or, in small doses, critique you when you may need it.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is.... Blogging is still something I want to invest my time in for now.

While I may not be going anywhere, I have been LOTS OF PLACES over the past four weeks. Life has been full. Every night I lay in bed and feel like I somehow did it. I got my booty kicked all day from start to finish trying to juggle it all... but it happened. 

Jet lag from the US. Upper respiratory infections. Twice. Iceland sans Tyler, but with the help of my sister, Brooke. Finishing my dissertation while traveling in Iceland. Returning to London to teach/direct my semester. 

Which is where I'm at now. Working most days. Being with the kids the moments in between classes and museums. It's all good. It's busy, but it's life. So many of us are feeling something similar- aren't we? It may not be the constant hustle between different locations like me, but your roles in life tear you into a squillion places and pieces, too.

So cheers to us, people. We are doing it. Keeping up with the hustle. Doing good. Pouring ourselves out for something bigger than us. While not always be glamorous (please- don't be fooled by IG. I cleaned toddler poop off my favorite duvet tonight. Gagging/weeping all in the same breath.), the things that we're investing in are worth the endless drain of our time and attention.

Keep up the good work. Get distracted by the busy times in life and forget about the online games... just you know, remember to come back to us when you can. ;)





*photography by Ashel Parsons... who is just as kind and sweet as she is talented.


Posted on September 23, 2015 and filed under iceland, kids, life.

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.