There are two reasons why I’ve hesitated in writing this post for so long. One, I’m not a huge fan of these big cliche posts where people go on about the changes that need to happen in there lives and two, I wasn’t entirely clear what the change was that needed to happen to help me fall in-love again with this space and online sharing in general.
Since 1995 I’ve had a blog and HyggeHouse.com since 2002. As you can imagine, I’ve seen all the changes that have happened to the online communities. And honestly, I’ve felt really lost in the space and frankly saddened by a lot of the direction that sharing/creating has taken. I recognize that I will sound like a grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn, so I think an explanation is needed. It used to be that it was hard to share online – there wasn’t the ease producing a blog. WordPress and Blogger were in their infancy and unless you could code and design and had the money for hosting, you were kind of out of luck. So those who really loved sharing and connecting worked through all the challenges. The content and concepts were just that important to get out.
Over the past few years, blogging has become an industry. I’ve seen so many bloggers who had a POV change their whole voice because they basically just became cheap ad agencies for brands. And having worked on the brand side of things, I’ve seen the blogger greed and lack of return and wondering how this industry will survive if it’s just ad after ad after ad.
Instead of talking about life and helping each other discover new things or talk about ideas, we are selling to each other or feeling like we have to be like those we see “making it” (and feeling like a failure if we aren’t). It’s the online Martha Stewart syndrome for a new generation.
This past August I made my way to Amsterdam for the first time. It was a quick weekend trip where I spent half of it in one of my new favourite hotels and the other half at a friend’s who was living right on one of the canals.
For a city I had never had the desire to visit, I came away from it completely smitten. Perhaps it was because the weather was picture perfect or because the city was in pure celebration mode (400 years of the canals and 100th anniversary of the symphony). Whatever it was, I was inspired, relaxed and very content during the trip.
I’ve written about all my favourite things to do, see and eat in Amsterdam on my travel site, as well I’ve pinned (and mapped) them all on Pinterest. If you’ve been and have any favourite things to add, I’d love to know them!
In 2009, I got offered a dream gig for one of my favourite companies in a city that I had always dreamed about visiting – Philadelphia. Despite not knowing anything really about the city, I had somehow known that I was meant to live there.
I remember my first day in Philadelphia, my first drive to Chestnut Hill, the first time I saw my house that was everything I’d wanted in a dream home (historic, stone, fireplace, big windows, garden). I’d arrived at the end of summer and then fall hit – the colours of the trees, the crispness of the air, girls in tights. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I belonged somewhere. I began to think out all of the things I could do and who I’d be. It was heaven.
On my first fall weekend I began what would become a regular occurrence – a drive out into the country side. I’d spend all day getting lost on country roads and visiting historic landmarks. One day I’d been out since sunrise and when the sun began to set I knew it was time to get home. And on my way back to the city is when I first saw the feral home above and fell instantly in love.
If a city could feel both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time to me, it would be Copenhagen. I know the city so well from so much time spent there yet I’ve despite all the connections, I’ve never lived there. And while I run a site called, Hygge House, and am half-Danish, truthfully, there’s a lot to Danish life and life in Copenhagen that still feels completely foreign to me. What makes sense? The cycling everywhere and in every day clothes (including dresses), coffee, candles, hygge, white walls, city parks, babies in prams, being able to walk everywhere, cosy weather. What doesn’t? Teak furniture, the food (although it’s getting better), the weather in winter, the cost of living, sometimes the attitudes (feels stuck). I know I both romanticize and am harsh on the city (and country) all at once.
This past trip was the most different one I’ve taken. Usually in the city with family and usually in a hotel, I instead rented an Airbnb in the Vesterboro neighbourhood. It’s an area I wasn’t very familiar with, and instead of a few days I had a week. I also went with someone who had never been to Copenhagen but was also working in the city, so it was really interesting to see their point of view and see Copenhagen in fresher ways. I also met up with friends who were starting new businesses (that make literally hygge candles!) or were in school so again, different points of view were heard and seen. I also spent a lot of time by myself just walking the streets and having coffee like a verb. So while I don’t think I could move to Copenhagen, I think I fell for it more than I ever have and even felt like I was even just a little bit at home.
Next week I am headed home to Denmark and, as I do with every trip, began planning about a week ago to make sure I have the right gear and clothes for the trip.
My thought process behind deciding what to bring was to ask myself will it:
- help me look like a local
- work for two weeks (wash easy, not wrinkle, hold up)
- be comfortable (especially during a 10hr flight with layovers!)
- work for summer (as I’ve almost always only gone back during winter for my birthday)
- go from day to night events and casual and fancy ones, too.
If it’s not yes to all those questions, it doesn’t get packed. And this helps me to always pack a carry on and also to make sure I have room for all the gear I own (15″ macbook pro laptop, DSLR camera, phone + its cables/chargers). The one area I overpack? Shoes. If you’re feet aren’t comfortable, no trip can be comfortable! I tend to not worry too much about weight as I fly business class and, on British Airways at least, they’re a lot more generous and forgiving of weight in that class.
In all the years I have lived in Santa Monica California, I had never made my way down to San Diego. When a work opportunity popped up there last fall, my initial reaction was to disregard it. I hadn’t had any desire to go to San Diego let alone move there.
The company was persuasive and offered me a trip to come down and visit. After meeting with them for a full day, I drove at sunset along the coast, through La Jolla and snapped this:
Two weeks later, I moved.
Initially, I thought finding a home would be hard; the city seemed to be filled with vacation-rental, 80’s condo’s with blue carpet. Finding something my style seemed impossible to find.
But I did.
A 1928 cottage by the sea, aptly called, “Dream Cottage.” It’s one block from the beach, with two large and private yards, a fireplace and white, white walls. The cottage had been in the same family for over 40 years and you felt that vibe inside. I bought my first grown-up table here (the West Elm Emerson table I had coveted for years!) and had lots of morning coffee (a new thing for me), had my mum visit with me and one of my sweetest friends and her husband stay for a few days. There were lots of long conversations on the couch, nights spent in the backyard watching stars and many, many trips down to the cove.
In two weeks my work winds down, I’ll be leaving my cottage to return to my adopted hometown, Santa Monica. But before I leave, I wanted to share a few captures of the cottage:
Sometimes one just needs to run away. From normalacy, media, cell phone bars, people, routine and all the parts about being a grown-up that make you wish you weren’t one.
Needing such a trip, the truck was packed with camping gear and the map pulled out with X marked on Joshua Tree National Park. Camping spots were waiting – all of them. There was no one else in sight. The only noise was a few rock climbers during the day and at night the wind through the trees. Perfect for a wannabe Amish girl stuck in a digital world.
The first time I went to Palm Springs I stayed at the Parker Palm. The Saturday night stay made me feel really unhip but by Sunday afternoon when the LA crowds had left, I found my own quiet, groove in the resort-like atmosphere and had the best nap ever in one of the hammocks. After the most hectic six months, it was clearly time to go back and repeat.
So much time was spent in the salt-water pool that seemed to belong just to me (there was almost no one else there). My room had a patio with a private hammock, and I swayed back and forth watching hummingbirds float by and palms also sway in the wind. My new favourite drink was discovered (champagne + Limoncello soaked sugar cubes) and bikes were ridden to the Ace just for Stumptown coffee.
It was the perfect compliment to camping (although the camp dinners were far, far superior. Honestly disappointed in Norma’s dinner) and I admit that air conditioning and showers were a welcomed thing.
But whether in a tent or a villa, I felt a million miles away from whatever it is I needed distance from. I thought of some new ventures, I relaxed a little, I even slept more than four hours in a row. And that is what really makes the perfect getaway(s).