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  • One of my favourite places.
  • 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 πŸ˜€
 #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. πŸ˜€
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. πŸ˜€
  • The @ojaivalleyinn is one of my favourite places either for a day trip or an overnight. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €
I always go when I need supreme rest and healing because I really really get that here. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €
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. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €
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). β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € 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). β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € I  paid for my room πŸ˜€ 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.

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Cookery

Hot Breakfast in the afternoon

October 24, 2006

The clouds and cool weather combined with Gluten Free Girl’s recent post had me craving porridge – something I hadn’t had in over a month. Now, that might not seem like such a big deal considering it’s been summer but every week, for the past two years, I’d walk to my favourite cafe every Sunday and order their porridge. And since it’s a long way back to California, I’ve had to go without.

The porridge at the cafe wasn’t just porridge; it was an eating experience. The cafe was inside a courtyard, outside, quiet and tucked away. There was a big celebretiy that would eat there every week just like I because it was unpretentious, hearty food and a true experience without hassle. This was a rarity in LA.

But how did porridge become an experience? And for only $6? Simple.

The proridge would arrive in a simple white bowl, on a platter that had a little silver container for warm milk and a side of cut strawberries and bananas – always fresh. Then a little container with three bowls would come along that hosted brown sugar, shredded coconut and raisens. With a side of the best coffee ever, this simple little meal become a pleasure that would always take me ages to eat and enjoy. It was my weekly break in which I could relax and leave with a full belly.

It was never the same at home even though I used great oatmeal (like McCains in the tin – the slow cooking 1/2hr kind). I made sure to use bottled water just like at the cafe and I made sure to get fresh strawberries but I always came up empty.

I realised I hadn’t take the time to set the scene as they did. So today I took my bike to the market, loaded up on some goodies and came home to make the porridge. In a special bowl was the shredded coconut, raisens and brown sugar (even though I don’t like raisens!). I warmed the milk, cut the banana’s and strawberries and made the porridge.

The table was set, coffee was brewed and when it came time the porridge was loaded up with goodies. I sat down to enjoy the meal (the first time since moving in) and relaxed. Ceramony with simple, good food.

Usually at 4 I make tea and sip it whilst continuing to work but today I took a break. And I realised that breakfast is sometimes best in the afternoon and that sometiems the best way to recapture an experience is to capture its spirit. And I did.


Good Old Fashion standby recipe:

Ingridients:
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
2 & 1/3 cups water
Pinch of salt
1 medium apple, coarsely grated
Β½ teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup milk
Β½ teaspoon butter

Directions:
1. Combine the oatmeal, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.
2. Add the grated apple and lemon juice and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the milk and butter. Stir well and cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately, perhaps with a sprinkle of brown sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup.

(PS: The cafe is Cafe Dana on 11th & Montana Ave in Santa Monica. Look for the faded pink umbrellas and blue awning on the street. And if you meet the owner who is beautiful, kind and blonde, tell her how much I miss her.)

  • Reply
    ornery_chickNo Gravatar
    November 15, 2006 at 10:38 PM

    I’ll tell you about some good oatmeal:

    Put about 2 cups of water in a pot and boil it. Chuck in a good couple of fistfulls of oatmeal (seriously doesn’t have to be the fancy kind–I use the cheapest store brand, alwats the “old fashioned” sort, not the quick oats, which are disgusting)

    Then quickly add another handful of dried cranberries, a handful of whole almonds, and something like a half teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of real vanilla.

    Let it cook until it looks reasonable, then dish it up, pour a little soy milk on it, a good spoonful of brown sugar, and you’ve got a breakfast fit to keep you truckin’ on through your morning.

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