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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 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.
  • "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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Danish Life Decor Ideas

White Rooms

December 11, 2007

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All the homes of my childhood had white walls which wasn’t because we were too lazy to paint or couldn’t agree on a colour; white walls are a common, wanted thing in Scandinavia like coffee at 10PM. White reflects light and makes everything seem brighter which is a plus for the long, dark days that winter brings. It also shows off artwork and food the best – and Danes area always about design and presentation.

I was in-love with white walls until my mid-teens when I began to experiment with wall colour. Both my mum and I went through some strange phase where she painted the dining room a two-toned jewel colour that scared everyone but us and my room had a dramatic burgundy shade with border. Then, later on, I was all about floral wall paper because when I lived in England the home had this all over with matching curtains and chaise. It was incredible (if you see the movie Atonement, you’ll understand exactly).

Being a vagabond and drifting from place to place I gave up on caring about white walls or painted, wallpaper or plain. I wasn’t living for decor, I was just living out of a suitcase! When I immigrated to America a few years ago, Seattle caught me off guard with it’s very cold, uncosy type days. I began to really think about home because I ended up spending so much time inside (and even more once I began to work for myself). So paint came out and every room received colour (a striking red, a cosy orange, a calming grey, a rich green).

However, when I moved to the beach town of Santa Monica California – home of Rachel Ashwell and her first Shabby Chic store – the rich, dark colours of the Pacific Northwest didn’t seem appropriate with the cool, easy going town. So I kept the white walls, got more white furniture, and loved the bright, breezy rooms I was creating.

It wasn’t until my current flat when my mum came to visit did she remark how Scandinavian it was. I was thinking it was very French Country meets Shabby Chic meets LA. But then I saw the white walls, the artwork and books and realised I’d come full circle.

I’m taking on a cottage in a seaside town for January and am in-love with the space and the view. What I’m not in-love with is the colour of the walls – that “safe” taupey beige everyone tells you to paint a home for it to be the most appealing.

It doesn’t appeal to me and in fact, makes some of the rooms seem darker than they are instead of the light, ocean cottage style in which they sit.

So yes, I am going to paint my walls white. This would have seemed ridiculous to me awhile ago but now I just can’t imagine not having white walls (and when I look at Holly’s White Collection on Flickr, I want them even more).

But what white? I know it has to be eco-friendly paint (low VOC) but the colour, flat, glossy, that I don’t know.

If you do, I’d love some help!

  • Reply
    erinnNo Gravatar
    December 11, 2007 at 7:34 PM

    My personal favorite white is Super White by Benjamin Moore but I have not yet matched that same white to a low-VOC paint yet, although BM may be able to match in their Affinity colors (which are low-VOC I think). Super White is crisp and works well with both cool and warm accents.

  • Reply
    BarbaraNo Gravatar
    December 11, 2007 at 7:54 PM

    While glossy reflects the most light, I prefer and love the flat whites that almost look and feel like chalk or pastels. Especially for a scandinavian feel…

  • Reply
    JenniferNo Gravatar
    December 11, 2007 at 11:44 PM

    White walls rule. I hear about BMoore “Decorator White” all the time. I like this page about the different kinds of undertones in white paints:
    http://www.homeenvy.com/db/1/201.html

  • Reply
    LisaNo Gravatar
    December 12, 2007 at 11:21 PM

    My first two apartments both had starkly painted white walls, and even though I longed for the freedom to paint whatever color I wanted, they had so much character that I could imagine I was living in a quirky Parisian flat instead of dreary Tacoma. (There are pictures here if you’re interested:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/luludynamite/sets/31217/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/luludynamite/sets/555593/ )

    Then my last apartment was the incredibly boring taupey beige you referred to, which initially excited me (since it wasn’t white) but soon came to feel like I was living in a lodge. Now I’m in a house with the freedom to paint whatever color I want for the first time in my life, and all I can think to use is…white. At first I felt pretty sheepish about it, especially after receiving flack from friends and family for being too “safe”, but I miss the versatility and lightness having white walls afforded.

    I tried finding some of the low-VOC ‘Mystic’ paint advertised in Martha Stewart magazines, but haven’t had much luck, so I look forward to reading about what you find.

  • Reply
    Amy JoNo Gravatar
    December 13, 2007 at 5:54 PM

    I’m smitten with Yolo’s whites. I’ve used Air 01, Air 02,and Air 03 in flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss in two houses now, and for being a no-VOC paint, it has held up very well, even on kitchen cabinets. The colors on Yolo’s website are not very accurate, so I would suggest looking for a store in your area that carries the brand or ordering samples.

    http://www.yolocolorhouse.com/

    To see two shades in my former kitchen (with north facing light): http://www.foldedspace.org/cornertable/2007/05/19/already-missing-my-kitchen/

  • Reply
    ChristineNo Gravatar
    December 15, 2007 at 3:14 PM

    Hi – I don’t know if you can get Devine Paints in Soutern California but they meet the low VOC requirements. They have 3 pretty decent whites – icing, whip or pique. BM Aura collection doesn’t have a good white.

    Good luck
    Christine

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