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  • It's a Southern California fall day like this that makes me miss my Topanga house in the mountains. You can see more photos on the blog.
  • This time last year I took my first road trip up California's 395 through the eastern Sierra mountains. I went on to Mammoth, Truckee and Yosemite.

It was epic.

The highlights for me were Bodie (Check out my highlights for "ghost town"), Mammoth (reminded me of the Canadian Rockies), and seeing the Donner Party Memorial/area.

It's a super hard state to live in, but it sure is beautiful. (PS: I made a Spotify playlist for just the drive: http://bit.ly/mountainroad).
  • I posted this in stories but  got so many comments I had to post it here.

I'd read an article which said how common an electric kettle is in the UK/AU but not in America. 
This was so interesting to me because my kettle is probably my most used appliance. But when I stay in homes here I can never find one.

A lot of Americans told me they use their microwave for hot water or they have a stove top.

And @astridpiepschyk explained it had to do with voltage. "Most Americans don’t own an electric kettle because the electricity voltage is too low to power a kettle effectively. In Australia, UK the voyage is 240, but in America it’s 110, and not very effective in boiling an electric kettle. It works, but takes a long time. This is why stove kettles are much more common." So what started as a post about how I love my half shelf for teacups in my 1930s cupboards turned into a great cultural and scientific conversation.

This is why I love Instagram 😀
 #hyggehouse
  • Ten years ago I moved to Philadelphia to build Anthropologies first Social Media, Content and Community programs.

It was a dream come true for two reasons. One I loved the company and two I was moving in July which meant I'd have an east coast fall.

It did not disappoint.

I spent every weekend out in nature with rosy cheeks, drinking hot apple cider. All this time later, that fall is still one of my favourite s and I miss it every year.

PS: the last photo is my old garage on my one acre property in Chestnut Hill. I had an 18th century stone home which I loved. I don't think I ever really wrote about this place because i never really settled in. Something I wish I'd done but I was just so consumed with work.

Pps: I've done a fall clothes clean out and am posting things for sale at @hyggehouseshop this week
  • I like taking photos at Disneyland that don't look like Disneyland.
  • This is my aunt on my french fathers side. During WWII, she got tuberculosis and was sent to a sanatorium to recover.

To pass time, she and her other young female friends would doll up, take photos and send them plus letters to soldiers to flirt with. Some they knew, some they didn't. Like old-fashioned Bumble. 😀
She was incredibly smart, witty, and fierce. In this photo she was full of possibilities and hope.

She married soon after to an abusive alcoholic, had four sons and quickly got trapped by circumstance and the era.

She was my favourite family member even though I didn't see her that often. I have one hand written letter from her and this photo which are the few family things I have.

I loved her because she always listened to me - patiently and sincerely. She saw who I really was and was so kind about it and oddly relatable. She gave me direction without advice. She laughed often, was direct when needed and sometimes acted soft. She was the only one who ever called me sweetie (my family nickname at the time was Chuck! and my family never used soft names with each other. So sweetie felt so amazingly special). I had 5 other aunts but I called her just "Aunty" as she defined them all. It was only to her that I felt a connection, unconditional love and a sense of family.

Her situation was always pitiful and dire,  but she never acted like a victim. When I saw her on her deathbed she was so small, weak and wilted from a hard life. But somehow she had always given me courage and strength, as if to say to be the possibilities she couldn't be.

Recently I hung out with my two young adult nieces and they both just called me "Aunty." Not Aunty Alex or Alex. Just Aunty.

It made me feel so special and like we have formed the same bonds that I had with my own Aunty. And that I was now being to them what she was to me. 
But more importantly, they helped me change my idea of her - the one that she never accomplished something. 
Because she did. 
She taught me how to be a good Aunty - one of my favourite things to be. That's her legacy which I think is really beautiful.

Well, that and dressing up when you feel poorly. 😀
  • The @ojaivalleyinn is one of my favourite places either for a day trip or an overnight. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I always go when I need supreme rest and healing because I really really get that here. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
There's something so magic and calming about Ojai and this place taps into it so perfectly. And they have the best massages.

My recs? Avoid weekends and holidays. It's insane and the spa isn't as relaxing because it's just so overcrowded.

For rooms, avoid the ones above Libby's Market/Pub (I think they are the original rooms). They're just louder & smaller. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I've had a suite with a patio, bedroom and fireplace down by the spa that was heaven and I've had a larger room by the main restaurant (I can't remember that buildings name) and both were amazing. This past room was in the Topa building which is their main building and it was really lovely (and had a balcony overlooking the golf course). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I've  been here with girlfriends, alone, on retreats with work and loved all the experiences. I know a lot of people who come here with kids (@couldihavethat has a recent post in IG and her blog on why it's great for families) and it's also totally dog friendly (@ScoutStCharming has been). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I  paid for my room 😀 and received zero things for free. So not am ad, just sharing what I love.
  • I found hope in Hope thanks to nature and my nieces.
  • The bridge next door and the buildings in the park across the street burned down in the Woolley Fire. But the Old Place still stands which makes me so happy. It's my favourite place in LA and I have missed hanging out here. It's nice to be back.
  • Possibilities.
  • "After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains." Happy 200th birthday, Walt Whitman

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Cookery

Baby it’s cold outside

January 15, 2007

Winter

On my flight last week I watched a CBS segment where chef Bobby Flay made the best-looking oatmeal ever. Since I was on a plane that only served peanuts, I began to immediately anticipate the moment I would make this. That moment arrived today thanks to an ice storm that’s taken over most of the U.S..

When I heard that the storm was coming, I did something I’ve never done before: stocked up. I made sure to have on hand lots of ingredients for soup (instead of just opening a can), lots of tea, baking supplies (warm cookies on a cold day – check!) and of course things for the fabulous oatmeal recipe. There’s only one way to survive the cold; stay warm. And that’s what I’m doing with yet another great hot oatmeal recipe, home made chicken soup and baked goods. Ah, the charms of winter!


Steel Cut Oatmeal with Sautéed Apples & Raisins and Bruleed Crust with Cinnamon Cream Serves 4

Oatmeal:
1 1/4 cup steel cut Irish Oatmeal (I use Mc Cains in the tin because it’s Gluten-Free and terribly yummy)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.
2. Stir in the oatmeal, salt and zest and cook until the mixture begins to thicken slightly.
3. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until cooked, about 30 minutes. 4. Add the milk and sugar and stir until combined.

Sautéed Apples & Raisins:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into medium dice
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained

1. While the oatmeal is cooking, heat butter in a medium saucepan, add the sugar and cook until melted. Add the apples and raisins and cook until the apples are soft.
3. Set aside until the oatmeal is done.

Cinnamon Cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Whisk together ingredients until combined. Set aside.

Assemble
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)

Method:
1. Preheat broiler.
2. Place a few tablespoons of the apple/raisin mixture in the bottom of 4 bowls or ramekins. Divide half of the oatmeal on top of the apple mixture. Place the remaining apple mixture on top of the oatmeal then top the apple mixture with the remaining oatmeal.
3. Smooth out the top of the oatmeal and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the turbinado sugar over the top of each. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and place in the broiler.
4. Broil until the sugar is golden brown and completely melted. Remove from the oven and let rest a few minutes before serving.
5. Crack the top of the sugar crust with a spoon and pour in some of the cinnamon cream. Serve immediately.

  • Reply
    KayBNo Gravatar
    January 17, 2007 at 1:42 PM

    Thanks for the recipe – I think that’s what we’re having for dinner tonight in front of the fire.

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