Get Out of Town | A Sunday Roast in the Cotswolds

There are some days when the routine of things just makes you feel a bit itchy. Or maybe it’s the appearance of a guest that gives you the motivation to do something a bit beyond ordinary.

Whatever the reason, we felt that urge on Sunday after church. We hopped in the car to head home and decided to hop on the motorway and head out an hour to a tiny pub we love in the Cotswolds.

If you arrive to Beckley (snuggled nearly to Oxford), you’ll find a few streets of dream-like cottages and homes lining its few streets.

Along the main road sits the Abingdon Arms, a pretty pub that was nearly forced to close in 2016. Luckily, the community residents saved it and have turned it into a treasure within the local area.

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With a sprawling garden with grassy areas for kids to explore and enjoy in the winter (complete with fairy doors hidden on the bottom of tree trunks), it’s a total win for a day of great weather lounging in the sun.

But on dark weekends in January, I’ll gladly say it’s still worth the trek for its cosy tables piled up with Sunday roasts because their beef roasts really are the best I’ve ever had.

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My cousin, Austin, is in London for the week so we did our best to set him up for the experience. He imagined it to be like an American pot roast kinda situation walking into the place. Though a roast dinner will vary from what mama made back home (most notably for me, with Yorkshire puddings in lieu of yeast rolls), he likened the afternoon and meal to a warm home-like feel. Though not like my home because I can’t make gravy that good. 

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I forgot to take a picture of the massive plate of “veg” that came alongside this one. Buttered peas, roasted parsnips and carrots.... mmm.

Also, look at Edie! She’s grown so much and is the best little girl. I think I must kiss and call her “the sweetest little lamb” approximately a hundred times each day. I’m smitten with her. 

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So is her dad.... which is nice because they basically share the same face.

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So here you go. One of my favourite little hideaways. I promise if you take a trip out there from London, you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you call ahead to book a table so you aren’t broken-hearted when you arrive.

The Abingdon Arms | High Street, Beckley OX3 9UU

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Find the rest of my favourite places outside of London on my guide to England here.

Or come along on our getaway to the charming New Forest.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on January 19, 2018 and filed under eat, england, get out of town, day trips.

11 Years & 5 Knights

Remember me? I’m the blogger who used to blog here. That’s okay. I always say- if my blog looks good, my house is a wreck and my kids are unfed. The truth is, life has been so intense the last month and my family needed my undivided attention.

So what could possibly be so important that it would pull me back into blogging and even with the energy for a new video?!

Well, only 11 years of marital bliss, obviously.

And, obviously, that is said with sarcasm after what I declared as “the hardest year of our marriage-physically” to Tyler.

After a painful end of pregnancy with some killer sciatica, a toddler who hates to sleep and loves to scream at night and a lot of work in between... we are both just walking into 2018 in need of a nap.

But to celebrate another year of marriage, another year of saying “we will,” another year of becoming more and more of the same person, and another year of our fast-romance-turned-marriage maturing  into a real, bonafide family. 

After filling our tank with unleaded when we actually have a diesel car, which can be (in our opinion) credited to a recent visit to the US combined with little sleep in our family’s jet lagged days since, we had to have our tank drained and then keep the engine running for 5 miles. So, we tossed everyone in the car (my mom included) and headed to Richmond for cupcakes at Hummingbird.

It was random, it was fun, and it was a great glimpse of life for us now. It just felt right to record a few moments of it and tuck it away in a video for later years... like a little time capsule of a day in the life of the five of us. (Oh, and my mom, too. She’s in town and makes a little cameo!)

Cheers to you, Tyler Knight. I knew you were the real deal when we decided to stop being good friends and jump into getting married.... and you’ve only proved me right every day since. In all of our naivety and stupidly, God was really kind to pair us up. I’ll feel thankful for that for the rest of my life.




*video original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on January 8, 2018 and filed under tyler, marriage, family, love.

A Nutcracker and a Ballbuster

I’ve been trying *hard* to be chill lately around the kids. In the midst of seemingly endless “not right now”s and discipline, I feel like my interactions are less warm with my kids than I’d have ever imagined.

If you would have asked me what kind of mom I’d like to be, before having kids, I would have definitely used “fun” as one of the descriptors.

And I AM fun. I’m a fun friend, a fun colleague, a fun director, a fun teacher.... but I realised that I’m just not really fun at home anymore. I’m doing dishes. I’m getting people dressed. I’m looking for my keys. I am... well, I’m whatever. What I realised was: despite all the other stuff, I was mainly just missing the good parts.

So I’ve been doing my best to ease up a bit. To slow down and stop the stroller when Harrison babbles at me as I walk. To chill about our room being a hot mess. To give more hugs than directions. 

And this week, this endeavour manifested into to having more parties.

It started rather innocently when I asked Viola if she’d like to have some friends over and the conversation evolved into a tea party. “A Christmas tea party... but with hot chocolate instead of tea.”

I loved the idea and she whipped up some homemade invitations to bring to her friends for the occasion.

I went to the store and bought a bunch of generic biscuits, two boxes of grocery store mince pies, fruit & a £2 Cadbury Yule log.

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The occasion seemed to call for my nice china, and decorated it with various random bits like crackers, napkins & plastic forks from HEMA & TIGER. (My two fave party good stores- now both on Tottenham Court Road just by my work!)

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Biscuiteers had sent over some pretty Nutcracker Biscuits & chocolates from their Christmas range. My newest party trick is to stack up any simple, store-bought biscuits and place some of those beauties among them because it looked so fantastic and was so easy!

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The evening was so sweet. The kids walked in from the cold after school and started squealing. They ripped open the crackers, dumped sprinkles over the marshmallows on their hot chocolate and giggled and sang the songs from their Nativity play.

It was easy to do, cheap to put together- but man, so worth it for that little shy girl’s face to light up like that.

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on December 18, 2017 and filed under kids in london, eat, holiday, kids.

Pack Your Bags: WILDE in Dublin

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I met my friend, Orlagh, a few years ago at a press breakfast when we were both huge and pregnant with little boys. She was so nice and we just kinda clicked. We’ve kept up with various meet ups, but when she moved back to her home of Ireland last year… well, I was a bit sad. (How many times have I complained about friends moving away from London on this blog? Only 357? Okay!)

Anyway, I’ve changed my mind that her being gone is bad now that I realise I have a friend to hang out with in Dublin. And not only a friend- Orlagh is super hip and just…. the nicest. (Also, how many times have I waxed poetically about my love for nice people on this blog? Only a million? Great. It’s true- I love sweet people.) She held Edie so I could eat and just loved on her as if she were family. 

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Orlagh met me for lunch at WILDE and it was such a dream. The restaurant is bright and airy with pretty pink throws on the backs of chairs. There’s greenery hanging over you and crawling up the walls, and I have to say- the surrounding tables of Dublin’s finest femmes make it a gorgeous place to be!

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We had lunch and before I even tasted a bite, I knew I’d still come back again. The staff were SO sweet and every time our waiter came to the table, he chatted to Edith (calling her by name) and speaking to her as if she would actually place an order, too. Ha! They were all so sweet.

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(For those that have asked about my shirt, yes! It is a nursing shirt, and yes- it is fantastic. It’s so not frumpy and I wish they had a million colours of it. Plus, its only £32.)

But luckily for me, the food was KILLER. I had a chestnut and apple soup (this girl can never resist chestnut soup in the winter) and the most perfect salad of all times: rocket (or “arugula,” if you’re in the US), fresh figs, goats cheese, beetroot, truffle oil… and maybe some kind of nut? Hazelnut? I can’t remember. I’m pretty sure I blacked out. They whipped me up a little pear and almond mocktail that was so refreshing and light. The whole experience felt exactly like you’d hope a girls lunch would feel. I think WILDE is one of the best lunch spots in Dublin, especially if you’re with someone fun.

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Orlagh is just one of those people who has sincerity washing over her words and her actions are intentional. (Example: I asked when she’d be in London next, and basically she just said she doesn't socialise when she’s there because she needs to keep her trips as short as possible to get home to her kids. Respect.) She makes motherhood look so stylish and I have no doubt that you’ll feel the same way if you follow her on Instagram, @theminipost…. She’s the coolest.

There were so many desserts that I really wanted to try, but I had to peace out and leave on a high note of a well-behaved baby. But next time! And thank goodness I’ll have a sweet friend there to meet me when I go. 


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WILDE RESTAURANT | Harry Street, Dublin 2, D02 CH66


Find more of my Dublin favourites in my travel guide or book a travel consult for personalised help for your upcoming travels.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on November 29, 2017 and filed under ireland, friends, eat.

My On-The-Go Beauty Routine

Growing up, my mom always did her makeup in the car. I can imagine her in the passenger seat doing her makeup at the stoplights on the way to church a hundred times over. I always thought that’s just what moms did… and then when I got older and would toss on some makeup at every red light, my friends would laugh. I soon realised this as quirk that I had inherited from growing up with my mom, and, naturally, carried on with the oddity as second nature.

But now that I’m a mom, I totally get it. Who has time to do their makeup when you are getting kids ready, too? It’s just nuts, so doing my makeup on the fly makes perfect sense for me now.

Since I never have time to actually do my makeup at home, I do it en route. On the tube. In an uber. At my desk when I arrive. It takes 5 minutes, but it is something I just like to make sure that I do at some point before the day kicks off officially. It makes me feel better, and, with my squinty eyes, makes me look awake.

I keep it all in a little pouch that travels between various totes and bags I use, but inside are the staples that I use on a daily basis for my makeup. Curious to take a peek inside? I always am! I love finding new beauty items and tricks of my friends or bloggers I follow, so I hope that you may find something in my routine that can help you!

ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE | TEN | ELEVEN | TWELVE | THIRTEEN

I thought it would be easiest to give a brief explanation for each of the items I use so that you can know just what makes it extra special… or, for a few of them, what makes them not very special. Ha! 

BEAUTY PRODUCTS:

JIGSAW LEATHER POUCH: I searched high & low for a pretty, sleek makeup bag that could travel with me. Everything I found was either covered in stupid phrases like “Born Fabulous” written in glitter or super chic and entirely out of my price range. I had nearly given up until I stumbled upon these PERFECT bags from Jigsaw. I’m pretty sure they are sold as little clutches, but I love using mine for my makeup. I also have a smaller plain black leather version of this that I use for my cards. Getting them both for under £80 was a great value, and I seriously still love them every time I see them. They were *just* what I was needing.

FACE

NARS BLUSH, DEEP THROAT:  After many years of resisting blush, I finally caved about a year ago. Why had I hated this idea so much? Not sure, but a little bit of pink helps me out a lot and gives my face a bit of definition that I enjoy.

LAURA MERCIER BLUSH BRUSH: I’m not sure if this is technically a blush brush? I bought it years ago, and can’t remember what the name of it is… but it works great and is small without being too dinky. (You need a hefty brush for blush, in my humble opinion.) I don’t see the one I have, but this one they sell now is pretty close.

EYES

YSL TOUCHE ÉCLATIn my twenties, I had some older lady that did our company’s PR. I remember one day talking about how much I loved the smell of YSL mascara, and she mentioned that she lived by Touche Éclat. I replied I didn’t know what that was and she nearly died. Ha! Its been nearly a decade and still remember the horror in her eyes. Well, ten years later and I get why she loved it. It hides dark circles and brightens up your eyes really well.

MASCARA: This mascara is just a basic L'Oreal purchase from Boots, and I, honestly, think most mascara is the same as any other. I do like this one because one side of it has a magnified mirror which makes it easy to do on the fly. But if I have my pick (and pocket money to spare), I always go with YSL mascara. It’s sooooo good. (And smells divine!)

LAURA MERCIER EYE PALETTE: I love Laura Mercier, and have worn it since I was 15…. Which probably makes me an old lady. I don’t know, but she just makes some really smart products. I really like her eye shadow palettes because the colours are all so useable. I also use these colours for my eyebrows sometimes, too.

EYELINER: I think most stick eyeliners are the same, and the particular one I’m using now is no exception. The only reason I won’t recommend it is because the lid will absolutely NOT stay on and every time I go to grab it, it has a broken tip. I have used this Chanel one before and it was consistently good.

BOURJOIS EYEBROW PALETTE: To be honest, I accidentally bought the blonde kit when I grabbed this, but it actually kinda works on days when I want to play down my makeup, and I love the little waxy stuff to keep my brows in place. Plus, the under-brow highlighter looks so good!

LIPS

NIVEA TINTED CHAPSTICK: This chapstick makes my lips feel great and has a pretty pearly colour to it. It has been part of my makeup bag for years because it can dress me up a bit even if it's the only item I get put on.

LOREAL LIP GLOSS: This colour is so simple and pretty, plus it smells good and the applicator is funky and fun to use. Another item that I’ve used for a few years now.

BOURJOIS RED VELVET LIPSTAIN: When I just can’t get it together, this red lipstick can help my disheveled state look intentional. I get loads of compliments on it and it lasts for hours and hours, which means I can put it on and totally forget about it.

MISCELLANEOUS

NEALS YARD TIRED EYES & LIPS SERUM: My friend, Vanessa, gave this to me as a baby gift after Edie was born, and I really like it. Plus, it’s organic and nasty-free… which is becoming increasingly important to me.

LAURA MERCIER TWEEZERS: I love, love, love these tweezers. The little round part makes the grip so good, and if I ever loan them out to anyone, I watch them like a hawk to make sure I get them back. They are SO good. I’m not sure if it’s the angled tip, the rounded pincher part, or the hefty weight of them- but together they make a force that not even the most illusive of tiny eyebrows can hide from.

FLOSS: I try to keep floss around for boring taxi rides and random bits of time where I have nothing better to do when I’m out. Ha! It’s the only time it’ll get done… but don’t worry, I try to do it when no one else is around. 



Posted on November 27, 2017 .