• 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."


Cookery Danish Life

Coffee Break

September 11, 2008

Scandinavians tend to drink the most coffee per capita although specialty, sweet, and flavoured coffees still aren’t as popular as in North America. The coffee here is usually bold, rich, dark and always had for breakfast and after meals (even at 10PM as seen with my mum above in Copenhagen).

However, I was a tea drinker and didn’t have my first coffee until I was 18. Living in England amongst dedicated tea drinkers I had comfortably avoided coffee until I visited with a sophisticated, polished couple that I wanted to be be like. So when they had coffee, I had my first cup and tried to be ever so polite about the horrible taste in my mouth as I sipped it bit by bit.

When I moved to Seattle, WA in 1999, birthplace of Starbucks and coffee snobs, I kept resisting coffee. It wasn’t until a frightfully cold morning commute did I pull into a cafe for a coffee – just to hold. The barista had loaded it up with Vanilla syrup and I found myself finally liking coffee (or perhaps really, just syrup!).

Tea remained my favourite beverage for taste and ritual but when I moved to Los Angeles a few years ago and discovered Urth Caffe’s Spanish Latte, I have to say that coffee began to be a favourite treat and I actually found myself craving a cup on cold mornings or when I was feeling a little sick. The rich, caramel, chocolate flavour of the coffee itself combined with the fact it’s organic and has one of the lowest acidic rates of any coffee won me over. It doesn’t need a lot to be good, which is how most coffee – and food – really should be.

With my mum coming tomorrow and my Danish cousins arriving next week, coffee had to be in the house. So I biked to Urth the other day, picked up a bag of the Italian Roast Coffee for home and I have been enjoying a cup every day since (especially since fall totally hit here and the weather has cooled).

My coffee routine is different than my tea one as is the gear. I love my gear. Here’s what I use to make a great cup:

Bodum Chambord 8-Cup Coffee Press: Looks elegant on a table, cleans up wonderfully, and makes a great cup of coffee for about 4 adults. If you tend to serve more people or want a “kit” the Bodum Chambord 12-Cup/48-Ounce Coffee Press looks great, too, although I haven’t used this size (or those tools). I also have the Bodum Brazil Glass 3-Cup Coffee Press, Black for times when it’s just me and I don’t need to make so much coffee.

Bodum 5-Ounce Milk Frother: When my mum and I were last in Copenhagen, we hit the Bodum Flagship Store in earnest and each bought one of these. I don’t have a microwave so literally put mine on the stove (gas or electric – I’ve done both), warm it up and then pump. Perfect frothed milk every time without batteries or hard to clean gadgets.

Chef’s Choice Cordless Electric 1-3/4-Quart Teakettle: I was always a stove-top kettle kind of girl. I’m not sure why but I just didn’t like electric kettles whatsoever. But I kept hearing rave after rave about this one and I finally converted. And boy am I glad I did. The water heats fast, you can see how much is inside, there is an automatic turn off. The base doesn’t get hot nor does the outside and did I mention it’s fast? When I fill this, it fills the 8-cup Bodum Press

Krups Fast Touch Coffee Grinders: Buying whole beans is better I’ve been told so this little grinder is perfect for grinding at home. You can decide how fine you want your beans, clean up is easy, and it’s small enough to easily be kept in your cupboard.

Williams Sonoma Coffee Scoop: Nothing special, but I like it.

  • Reply
    Coffee FanNo Gravatar
    September 11, 2008 at 5:48 PM

    I have a coffee grinder just like yours. I prefer to grind my beans myself as well. I don’t have a coffee press but I’ve been thinking about trying one. Would you say you have a preference one way or another…coffee press vs. regular coffee maker?

  • Reply
    sarahNo Gravatar
    September 12, 2008 at 1:46 AM

    you put the milk frother right on the stove top? i don’t have a microwave either. πŸ™‚

    i’m about to buy my first press… any tips?

  • Reply
    Meridith MooreNo Gravatar
    September 12, 2008 at 9:12 AM

    My search for the best coffee maker has been long and wrought with failures. Finally I have one I’m very happy with: The Chem Ex, easy to clean and great for one or ten cups.

  • Reply
    Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    September 12, 2008 at 10:40 AM

    Sarah: Yup, right on the stove. The Bodum employee told us that’s what you do and the glass can withstand the heat. I’ve never had any problems.

    I don’t have any tips other than to buy the Bodum! I did some research and it received the best reviews, the price was great and I liked that if something happened to the glass, you could easily rebuy it. I don’t like having things serviced or having to get rid of something if something breaks.

    I don’t know anything about coffee makers. I went with a press because I like easy clean up, not using electricity, and just the simplicity. I’ve heard great things about the Bialetti Mukka Express Cappuccino Maker.

  • Reply
    LindaNo Gravatar
    September 12, 2008 at 11:20 PM

    I’ve never been a coffee drinker-I hate that bitter after taste-but I know if I added enough stuff to it, such as cream, sugar and various syrups I would love it. I drink kalua and cream after all. I’ve resisted as it would just be one more source of calories for me.

  • Reply
    StephanieNo Gravatar
    September 13, 2008 at 3:10 PM

    Here’s another rave for that electric kettle! I’ve used a few others but when I needed my own this was the one available. It boils water fast and everything, but what I like best is that the water is never as hot as comes out of other electric kettles. I don’t have to wait forever to be able to drink my tea, like others do. It’s great.

  • Reply
    KatyNo Gravatar
    September 14, 2008 at 7:47 AM

    The Bialetti Mukka Express Cappuccino Maker is the best thing ever! My husband bought it for me a few months ago and I love the fact that I can make a latte or cappuccino within minutes on the stove top. It’s really easy to use and the clean up is simple. It’s perfect if you only want a cup or two of coffee.

  • Reply
    MeganNo Gravatar
    September 17, 2008 at 7:54 AM

    I love my Bodum coffee press too! It looks so elegant, and whenever I use it I feel like I’m in Paris. Unfortunately I have noticed in the past few months that on the days I have tea instead of coffee my mood is much better. I do still enjoy coffee as a special treat now and then however.

  • Reply
    cathleenNo Gravatar
    September 17, 2008 at 8:14 PM

    Your writing is so descriptive, interesting and informative…not to mention suggestive….that it
    really makes me what to walk out into my cozy kitchen and make a good strong freshly brewed cup of fragrant coffee right this very minute but, unfortunately, it’s very late where I am and I wouldn’t sleep a wink after indulging in this pleasure. Anyway, thanks for sharing your coffe info.

  • Reply
    MeridithNo Gravatar
    October 31, 2008 at 8:23 AM

    I found coffee presses difficult to clean and messy so searched for another non electric coffee maker. I’m so happy with my Chem Ex. To clean really well once a week fill with soapy warm water and two tbs of hydrogen peroxide.

  • Reply
    VerityNo Gravatar
    October 31, 2008 at 10:23 AM

    I am a coffee fiend! And was also a late starter – not really enjoying it until university. I agree that a small coffee is best – quality not quantity is important! My favourite brand of coffee is Genovesse – delicious!

  • Reply
    BrittaNo Gravatar
    November 1, 2008 at 1:58 PM

    Dear Alex!
    I have read lots of your writings… I don’t no what I can say… oh yea.. you are just a pretty, wonderful and much more.. girl. I’m so proud of you!!!
    If I could write my words to you on english…
    Thank you wery much for the nice time with you in your home!! I will learn english!! πŸ˜‰

    Love from your danish cousin

  • Reply
    Hygge House » Getting Through Winter
    January 5, 2010 at 10:31 AM

    […] are cold and you just need warmth to help you wake up (this is also perhaps one of the reasons Danes drink so much). Although I initially bought the machine for guests, I’ve given in. Summers are for the […]

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