• 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:
  • 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˜€
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Spring is always the most alive after the darkest and rainiest of winters. #hyggehouse
  • "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." C. S. Lewis. Or, as the Secret Sisters sang, "Tomorrow will be kinder."


Danish Life Wanderlust

Candles in the City

February 15, 2007
Candles on the street of Copenhagen Denmark

It seems everywhere I turn in Copenhagen there are candles burning. Little ones, big ones, white ones, pink ones. Never scented, always plain and always, always going; in shops, restaurants, and on streets for no particular reason, like the little candle above.

The past two days I’ve been staying in Nyhavn; a trendy part of town that was once not so trendy (when my grandmother heard I was staying here, she said, “not in the bad part of town!” It used to be where the fisherman worked and ladies “entertained them”). But now, a walk at night is beautiful as candles seem to line all the cobblestone streets; the city literally glows at night.

Inside it’s just as lovely as in the restaurants you eat with a huge candelabra on your table and no overhead lighting. Needless to say, everyone looks lovely! But even during the day the candles burn, which surprised me a little though I confess to wanting to do this again when I return home. The candles just somehow make everything cosy and inviting no matter what their size (though I am loving the 3-foot white pillars I see everywhere! Even just standing alone outside doors).

Danes began the tradition of constantly burning candles after being liberated on May 5, 1945 after a year of German occupancy. When the BBS broadcast the liberation, Danes spontaneously placed lit candles in their window – a tradition that doesn’t seem to be stopping.

I’ve found that in America most people don’t regularly burn candles, and if they do, they are those overly scented candles that distract instead of invite (this is really the case at the dinner table when the scent of the candle conflicts with the scent of the food). I’ve found myself burning candles less and less over the years for many reasons; laziness, fear of them falling, not being able to find simple candles or candle holders or just not living slow enough to leave them burn.

But seeing them here has changed that for me. There is nothing so cosy, so charming or inviting as a candle burning – day or night. So I will take a que from here and perhaps start slowly with a candle lit at breakfast – just as my mother does. Taking the time in the morning when I never think I have any might be a good way to set pace for the rest of the day. And then at night? Well, I think I will take to having my home glow a little more like the cobble streets of Copenhagen.

  • Reply
    JanetNo Gravatar
    February 17, 2007 at 5:39 PM

    A beautiful ode to candles. My Mum is danish too and I live in the UK. Never a day goes by where I don’t light a candle. I tradition set deep in my soul now it is second nature. It is warmth, it is Hygge! Enjoy Kobenhavn xx

  • Reply
    RjNo Gravatar
    January 17, 2014 at 1:24 AM

    I am so glad I found this site!I am full danish and am planning a trip to my family’s house in Odense,with a little stop by Copenhagen just to see the candles!For several weeks now I’ve gotten into the practice of lighting candles and now my home is just a bit more warm and inviting,thank you Alex!

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