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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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Decor Ideas

Creating a hygge guestroom

July 26, 2016
Topanga Canyon Hygge House Guest Room

I love having people come and stay with me and running my dream of a ‘hygge gite’ in a way. I love the ritual of getting ready for them and then some of the late night dishing that often happens once they’re here.

One of the things that I really love about my current home is the guestroom; it feels like a private treehouse and the colours in it just make one feel at home and rested at once. It’s also perfectly holds a guest bed, desk, storage area and window seat so that guests can feel like they’ve got a private hotel room (minus the room service!).

I’ve had a lot of people come and stay with me over the past year and a half here and even more at my previous homes (the benefits of living in cities people want to visit) so I have the hosting essentials down.

But even when I’ve had a studio flat, I’ve done the following tips and tricks. There’s always ways to modify depending on what your space and budget allows but I think the things I do below can work for anyone (and any guest).

Create a Google Home Doc

I have a ready-made Google Doc that I send this to guests ahead of time so they know what to expect (especially wifi since I’m in a cell-free zone!). It’s easy to share, read on both desktop + mobile. Plus, it saves me from having to explain or type it up every time.

The doc includes the basics like my address, parking instructions (my home is tricky), wifi access, laundry, AC/Heat, and television instructions and added things like nearest hospital/walk in clinic,  drugstore, grocery and favourite restaurants, coffee shops, beaches.

For a house sitter, I print out a list of emergency phone numbers (mine, hotels, vet and close by friends) and any key needs for the house (plant watering days, garbage days etc.).

Have a Spare Key or KeyPad Access

Having a spare key is essential as it allows guests to come and go as they please without having to wait or disturb you. Giving guests a sense of freedom really relaxes everyone. Even if they just want to go for a walk down the street or an early morning breakfast or out for the day, it’s a great way to make them feel like they have a home.

I love the Key Wristlet Chain (handmade on Etsy) because it’s easy to keep track of, people can slip it on if they’re going for their run and they generally remember to hand it back. So much nicer and easier than handing a key.

If you have a lot of guests, consider a keypad and giving them their own code. I don’t have one but have used them a lot at other people’s places and it makes not having to worry about a key really nice.

Food + Drink

Making sure your guests have something to eat and drink is just common sense but I always ask mine if they have any dietary restrictions. I have a lot of vegetarian/vegan friends that come and stay so I make sure there’s fresh fruit and snacks for them. If someone can’t eat nuts or gluten, I make sure they can eat safely – their dishes don’t touch other dishes, their food is stored separately etc..

Bottled water is always put out and I make a tray coffee/tea station in the kitchen so everything is easy access. I make sure the kitchen seems semi-organised so they can cook food if they’re house sitting or make coffee if they’re guests who need a somethin’ somethin’ in the morning.

In the case of my house sitter, I put out a “bowl of goodies” which include microwave popcorn, animal cookies (from the animals, of course!), beautifully bottled French lemonade drinks, truffles, fresh fruit and a gift card to the local grocer and coffee house.

Nothing worse than being hungry when you’re visiting someone but not knowing what you can eat. And there’s nothing more uncomfortable for guests than opening cupboards looking for things, so having it all laid out and clear makes it easier.

Personal and Happy Details

Probably my favourite thing to do is buy flowers for guests. I usually go to Whole foods and pick up several bunches and make into bundles that I’ll put beside the guest bed, in the guest bathroom, living room and kitchen. A $5 bouquet from the grocery store can go a long way. Just make sure they don’t have allergies!

I put a small square tray on a shelf that houses a few key items; band aids, Advil, SPF, Sun Recovery Lotion, Bottles of Water, ear plugs, eye masks etc. The guest might bring these but if they don’t, they don’t have to ask for them or go buy them.

Magazines and books are always nearby. I once stayed with my friend Alicia and what I loved so much about her living room at the time was underneath her coffee table were piles of American and European magazines which she allowed me to sift through as I snuggled into her couch (she later moved these into her infamous Pink Guest Room and I would spend hours reading them before heading to sleep each night). So I keep my stash readily available and also make sure to have the latest local magazines like Los Angeles and C.

I also have two large vintage metal bins in the living room that are filled with classic board games but also toys and paper/markers for visiting kids. This way people can be entertained if they want to stay in or they don’t have to worry about bringing a whole bunch of kid stuff. Plus, my favourite thing to do with visiting couples honestly is playing Cranium!

A Place for Clothes Storage

For storage, I use a laundry butler as a portable guest closet. I put towels in the bottom shelf for their arrival and lots of hangers on the rack. This way, they can hang their clothes and put folded ones in the bin. Since it’s on wheels, it can move around the room to accommodate lots of luggage and when I don’t have guests, I use it for my own laundry.

I also put out a couple of sturdy luggage racks so that guests know where to put their luggage and don’t have to rummage around on the floor. I love these because they fold up and store super easy when not in use but also look great out.

Comfortable Bed, Clean Sheets + Towels

Before I had a dedicated guest room, I used a queen size air mattress with a down topper. The topper is important if you live in a cold climate because the plastic can be really chilly. This option is great because you can store the airbed and put the topper on your own bed when not in use.

If you go the air mattress route, splurge a little. Get the good one that has height, stability and comfort. If you can, get a queen size. Your guests will sleep better and thank you for it.

Now my guest room has an inexpensive but nice bed frame from Ikea and a really comfortable mattress from Casper. I bought the duvet and down topper from Pacific Coast.

Clean, dedicated guest sheets. This one can seem excessive if you don’t have a dedicated guest bed but it’s worth doing. I  once stayed with a really good girlfriend whose sheets had cat hair all over and I couldn’t stop sneezing the whole night. I’ve also stayed in frayed or even stained sheets and it just feels gross.

I tend to buy white sheets and a colourful duvet cover to set them apart. If you’re not keeping it out, then you can store in one of those compressible bags to make storage easier – especially if you’re storing a down duvet and guest pillows. I also keep an extra blanket out so if it gets cold, they can add and if its hot, they can use this instead of the duvet.

I keep seperate, coloured towels for guests and leave them in the room for their arrival. I have large beach towels then the normal bath and hand towels. The only thing I don’t keep seperate are face cloths. I keep those in a big bucket in the bathroom and just let guests help themselves. Anthropologie always has towels on sale in wonderful colours and prints which I pick up.

For female guests, I add in an Aquis Hair Towel. It makes drying hair so much easier when you’re walking around or getting ready. And to that extent I always have an extra blow dryer in the guest room and let them know where my curling iron is if they need it (and also I just give them access to all my hair products. I’m a sharer!).

All of the guest linens get stored in these large Ikea boxes which fits under the bed perfectly.

Accessible Charging Stations

No one comes without their phone. And often they come with a computer, ipad and camera. So I make sure to have either USB chargers in the room or easy access to outlets so they can be plugged in. I also keep a charger in my car so if we’re out and about, they don’t have to worry about losing power + the perfect photo.

Clean Home (and Permission To Mess It Up)

A good cleaning of the home takes place (a mini spring cleaning sort of); linens/towels all washed, fridge cleaned and generally stocked, dog washed, floors scrubbed, pillows fluffed, all garbage out. I’m so not a neat freak but having people arrive to a nice, clean place is always a nice feeling for both.

Once guests are in, however, all bets are off. If they toss jackets here and there or dishes linger a bit after dinner, I don’t worry. I want people to feel like they’re at home and not worrying about mine. My place is definitely not precious. I want their energy going into having a great time, not picking up after themselves.

I do keep a trash bin in their room and a big hamper in the bathroom for them to drop dirty things off.

Depending on how big the crowd was and how long they stayed, I sometimes hire a cleaning lady afterwards to help with floors, laundry and bathroom scrubbing. That way I’m just not concerned when people are here about all the cleaning to come.

Lights

Always make sure they have a working bedside table that’s accessible. If they’re arriving at night, make sure it’s on. If you have additional areas in the room, have additional lighting. Another big lighting tip? Motion lights. I have them all over the house so if they come in late or need to go downstairs, there’s light for them to navigate. Also, if I have friends with kids, sometimes a small nightlight in the guest room is helpful so they’re not so scared.

Before having a guest or sitter over, I ask myself – would I feel comfortable if this were my first time here? And I don’t stop until the answer is yes. But what if you’re the guest? I’ve got suggestions for that, too!

Some of the products mentioned in the post:

(Note: this post is not sponsored and nothing was given. I purchased everything with my own money and love/use it all).

  • Reply
    JenniferNo Gravatar
    January 4, 2007 at 6:52 PM

    Good ideas for a guest and one’s own personal bedroom!

  • Reply
    TomoeNo Gravatar
    January 4, 2007 at 9:23 PM

    WOW! Can I come stay at your house? πŸ˜‰

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