MINTED: Holiday Card Giveaway!

 

Some people really go all out for their holiday decorating. I've always been a bit of a slacker in this department. Luckily, both of our mom's take the role very seriously, so we always get to enjoy a homey holiday feel. (Though, not of our own doing.)

While I fail at decorating, I do take Christmas Cards pretty seriously. I love getting and sending them. I hang them up on a little twine with little clothes pins and let them stay for well into the New Year.

The other tradition I stick to is NOT posting my Christmas Cards onto social media before they are sent out. (Otherwise, what's the point?) But this year, I'm making an exception. Why? Because MINTED is giving one of you $250 to spend on their site to make your own holiday cards... and it only felt right to show you how lovely their work is with a preview of the gorgeous order that arrived at our door this week from their line of Foil Stamped Holiday Cards.

 

You may not know or remember, but before we moved to England I worked in the luxury stationery business. We made gorgeous work and I'm proud of the things we cranked out in that little studio. After working there for four years, I learned what truly beautiful work is, so believe me when I tell you: MINTED does an amazing job of creating great printed goods. (You'll be hooked if you try them once!)

 

Enter below for your chance to win $250 of credit to spend at MINTED. Easy to enter! 

 

 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on November 19, 2014 and filed under giveaway, holiday.

Clementine Cuties

 

I'm not sure who decided that lemons would be perfect for summer, and oranges best at Christmas. They both seem pretty appropriate and fresh at any point in the year, but we'll just have to leave that question under the broad title of tradition or... you know, crop cycles. 

Never the less, when those little net bags of clementines appear in the winter, I absolutely can not resist them. I go through an obscene amount of which I am too proud to disclose here. I can tell you that at two points in my life, my armpits have smelled strongly of oranges from (over)eating the little citrus delights. 

And since no one can judge you for what you eat when you're in your third trimester with twins, I will also let you in on the fact that I ate a bag a day of them for several weeks at the end of my pregnancy. And I could have probably eaten more... except Tyler would only buy me one bag a day and my iceberg self was too lazy to walk to the store to render this cruelty.

Ok, so I like them. You get the idea, but you know what else I like this time of year? Orange in my wardrobe. So in the sake of sticking with tradition, let's save our bright yellow dresses for lazy summer days along the coast of Italy, and pull out some orange to brighten up our winter look.

 

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

 

 

*image original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on November 18, 2014 and filed under shopping.

On the Road: Lake District & York

 

Did you have a nice weekend? We did! We had an amazing time in the Lakes and in York. I'll give the unexpected combination of great weather + Christmas festivities the bulk of the credit, but man, we couldn't stop talking about how much fun we were having. (Which, to be honest, isn't always the case when traveling!)

I'll hit you with some of the highlights... and way too many pictures.

We started out Saturday with a visit to Wordsworth's Dove Cottage. It's situated on the outskirts of the tiny town of Grasmere, and the setting is just so beautiful. We played with the cat that lives in the garden, read some of Wordsworth's poems with my students in his garden, climbed around all the windy paths we could find, and got our shoes way too muddy.

While we were near the village, I had to stop and get us some Grasmere Gingerbread from Sarah Nelsons because I love buying it for my students. We always love having a little picnic of gingerbread and fudge in the church cemetery near the Wordsworth's family graves. Viola loved it, too. She is getting some molars in and this might be the first smile of the day from here.

We spent the rest of the daylight in Windermere- eating a cozy lunch at Sutherlands and wandering through the Beatrix Potter Museum. Viola was loosing her mind running from display to display. It was awesome. We had tea in the tea room afterwards and ate carrot cake and mini-cupcakes on pretty blue and white china. 

When I was booking hotels for our stay in Ambleside, I had the hardest time. We eventually found some rooms at Thorneyfield Guest House, and were really content with the find. I thought it was weird, but then when we arrived, we realized why: the Christmas lights were being lit that night. It was a huge party though out the village. Complete with a parade, real reindeer, ice skating and fireworks. We bowed out early to eat pizza in our room with a movie, which actually made it all the better to me.

After two nights, we drove on to York. We stuffed ourself with breakfast from The Apple Pie Bakery (our favorite!), tossed our bags in the coach and hit the roads. 

And then the roads smacked us right back in the face. The tiny roads getting us there were really hilly... and our bus driver won't be winning any awards for his driving in the foreseeable future. After about two hours, we begged for some fresh air. When the bus stopped, we all tumbled out, breathed in the air and tried to let our eyes focus on an unmoving object. Once we did, we realized we were standing outside an adorable Tea Room & Sweet Emporium. We went int and were delighted to find a bustling little country shop selling sweets from big jars. I bought bags of candy and some water that totaled up a final price tag of £3.15. 

York is such a sweet town. It felt so festive with little tents selling handmade crafts, the narrow streets playing Christmas music and an obligatory Egg Nog Latte from Starbucks. And seeing as we how we were in York, we also had to indulge in a Sunday roast topped with a Yorkshire Pudding.

Viola fell asleep in her stroller and I ducked into York Minster for Evensong to hide from the cold. It was very welcome break from the business of life lately. I feel like praying has become hard for me to do because it requires me to stop and focus on one thing. I tried to really focus and pray while I was there. (It was hard to do for the whole hour.)

And next? Well, I had to pop on a train and head back to London for a few classes today and tomorrow. I'll meet Tyler, Viola and the group in Edinburgh tomorrow night... but in the meantime, will be stealing cuddles from Amber's new baby, Maia!

 


Also, I've updated my travel pages for The Lake District and York with my new finds from the weekend. If you're headed there, be sure to check out my list for a few of our favorite places to go.

 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on November 17, 2014 and filed under travel, england.

Over The Rivers and Through The Woods.

This morning, we are leaving for our annual twelve day tour around the UK & Ireland. It's the standard end-of-semester trip that we take my students on, and it's always so much fun. (How could it not be though, right?) While it's a lot of work, I'll have Tyler there to be an extra set of hands... thus confirming that if he ever gets an office job, I'll be devastated.

We'll be going up through the Lake District, York, Edinburgh, Stirling, St. Andrews and over to Belfast, Giants Causeway (see gorgeous image below!), Dublin, and the Cliffs of Moher. Oh man. It's going to be a busy two weeks!

giants causeway northern ireland

I've never been to Belfast- or Northern Ireland, for that matter- and I'm so excited. First to see this place that I've heard so much about from Megan and Stephen, and second because... well it's another country to add to my list!

We've got big plans for the Christmas Market and the Titanic Museum... but let's get serious: I'm gonna need some good recommendations for where to eat. Go ahead and drop your favorites down below. Much appreciated, love.

 

 

*image via

Posted on November 14, 2014 and filed under england, viola, travel.

Making The Most of Your Life Abroad

visiting blenheim palace aspiring kennedy noah darnell photography

I can't believe that it has been over four years since we moved to England. We weren't planning on staying longer than a year or two when we arrived, but now we can't imagine leaving. We were lucky to have our move overseas padded by the welcoming community at Oxford (we had 210 other students + partners moving to a new place at the same time we did) and my blogger friendships to fill the void of daily interactions of our friends back home.

I can't say our transition into life here was perfect, but I can say that I've learned a lot about being an expat since we first arrived. The other day, my friend Amber & I were talking about things we wish people would have told us... and what we wish we could tell other people starting their time in a new country. So, I guess the natural things is to share it here.

First, don't put perimeters on your time overseas. What new expats don't know is, when you reach out to someone who is rooted in the community you're new to, and you tell them you're only staying "for a year or so," it's a deal breaker. While it may be a big year or you- that's a really short time period for them. They aren't going to want to invest in a friendship with such a close end in sight. Honestly, it's heart-breaking and exhausting to always start & stop relationships, and those who have lived overseas for any decent amount of time will know this. Expats eventually became jaded to newcomers, until they show signs that they want to stick around. Once you show you're there to stay, they'll be very loyal and accepting.

This carries over professionally, too. If you are interviewing for any job of substance, no company will want to invest in hiring you if they know you'll be looking to leave so soon. I'm not saying lie about how long you'll be there... I'm just saying: Be open to staying longer. Instead of staying for "a year or eighteen months," maybe keep the mind frame of "being committed for the year, but open to extending our time here." Keeping a mindset of settling in your head makes your time so much more enjoyable, and will make your relationships so much deeper. 

Reach out to people who are new to the area, too. I know this is hard to find, but with social media as it is- it's getting so much easier. Connect with people that are hungry for friendships, too. 

Also, stop converting the prices in your head to your home currency. It's a bad game, and until you think in local currency- truly- you'll always feel like a foreigner. You're living in a new country with new currency. Embrace it and think in those terms.

Finally, you have to stop comparing your "old" life with your "new" life. Life here isn't the same. It may be worse in some regards and it may be better. The constant dialogue about square footage, schooling, methods of transport, items you can't get, and the like all have been said before. You'll realize that it doesn't change anything to play the mental game, and it makes you always feel like you are choosing sides. The bottom line is, there are things that are better about each place, and things that are worse. You've just got to embrace where you are for the time being. Own it. Make it a great adventure.


Living abroad is something that I am so passionate about. We do it as a family, and I do it as a career. I find so much value in getting out of your comfort zone and doing something different. When you open yourself up to life in a new place, you become a more humble person in many ways... and you become more confident at the same time. It's an amazing shift that gives you growth in an irreplaceable way. I hope that all of you can experience it at some point in your life. It's that good.



*image original to Aspiring Kennedy by Noah Darnell

Posted on November 12, 2014 and filed under life, london.