• 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."


Decor Ideas

Magnetic Chalkboard Wall

January 12, 2009
chalkboard by Luc Besson in Copenhagen Denmark

One of the things I love about my flat, despite in being a small one-bedroom, is that there is a good-size hallway and entrance inside. I love having this space to separate the public living areas with the private bedroom in the back.

It’s very narrow, however, so a lot of things – like furniture – just won’t fit but since it’s the first thing when you come in something has got to be here. Currently there’s just three pieces of artwork hanging and one ginourmous floor to ceiling framed Pottery Barn mirror. It’s kind of generic, not-fun and definitely doesn’t reflect set the tone for coming into my home.

I’ve been wanting to use chalkboard paint on the wall ever since I it done at the amazing Front Hotel in Copenhagen (pictured above) where guests (including myself!) left notes and drawings. And then when I saw another great example but with magnetic primer, I was smitten with the idea.

For one wall in my little entrance (where the arrows are pointing in the photos below), I am thinking of giving it a go. This way I can have an easy art-gallery by using magnets to hang up lots of art instead of expensive frames (no more leveling!) and friends can leave colourful notes and doodles. I think it’s a great art statement, fun and practical without being pretentious! Perfect!

I am a little nervous about a huge black wall feeling over-powering or making the area really dark. I’m also concerned about finding a good magnetic primer or paint as it seems like a lot of them require 6 coats and even then have challenges with magnetizing (Rustoleoms is said to have very poor magnetization even after 6 coats) or primers having a rough texture.

Other concerns include being able to easily paint it white before I move out since I’m a renter and easily cleaning the walls without chalkboard residue sticking, finding a good low VOC chalkboard paint (although I think Benjamin Moore’s Chalkboard Paint can be made low VOC).

Apartment Therapy has a good thread on this where others talk about the same concerns but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of answers in there yet so it’s more Googling for me unless anyone has any ideas, suggestions or feedback (always appreciated!).

  • Reply
    AndreaNo Gravatar
    January 12, 2009 at 9:04 PM

    Can you paint a big piece of plywood or partical board instead? And then mount that on the wall and trim it out with moulding? That way when/if you move on you can just take it down and the original wall will be underneath.

    Plus you can paint it outdoors where any fumes, low VOC or not, will dissapate a little quicker and at least not make your entire living space smell.

  • Reply
    Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    January 12, 2009 at 9:12 PM

    Hi Andrea,

    That’s a great idea but unfortunately won’t work for me as the hall isn’t very wide and I need every inch I can get for the front door to open (as it is, it doesn’t open all the way now). I wish that’d work!

  • Reply
    Hannie en RinskjeNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2009 at 3:34 AM

    Friends of us used a couple of layers magnetic paint on one of their kitchen walls. They covered it with the paint, which they used for the rest of their kitchen. The room remained very light. To make nice accents they bought some vintage picture frames and attached them on the magnetic part of the wall. Now all their friends know where they can leave their cards, messages etc. I like their idea very much. The frames probably won’t work for you since you stated that your hallway is very narrow. But having a magnetic white wall of stripe across your wall might work.

  • Reply
    Debbie ReisetterNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2009 at 5:35 PM

    I have two options: 1)re: color – there is also the neat green chalkboard paint like the old school days that you can get instead of black. Very pretty with your cream walls. 2). You can also cut some light weight sheet metal to the size you want and then paint over that. Plus you can frame it out with a cool recycled old frame or use light weight moldings to trim it out and attach to the wall. They come in so many unique options.

  • Reply
    Debbie ReisetterNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2009 at 5:42 PM

    There is also this recipe from Martha Stewart for custom color mixing:

    Custom Colors How-To
    Start with flat-finish latex paint in any shade. For small areas, such as a door panel, mix 1 cup at a time.

    1. Pour 1 cup of paint into a container. Add 2 tablespoons of unsanded tile grout. Mix with a paint stirrer, carefully breaking up clumps.

    2. Apply paint with a roller or a sponge paintbrush to a primed or painted surface. Work in small sections, going over the same spot several times to ensure full, even coverage. Let dry.

    3. Smooth area with 150-grit sandpaper, and wipe off dust.

    4. To condition: Rub the side of a piece of chalk over entire surface. Wipe away residue with a barely damp sponge.

  • Reply
    micheleNo Gravatar
    January 14, 2009 at 10:48 AM

    in the past i have taken a rather large frame, traced the inside edge of it on the wall as a “template”. Painted with the chalk paint inside of the “template” and then hung the frame back up. So even though it is black and dark, the white frame gave it contrast. It might be an idea for you. Just use “sticky tak” to get the frame to stay stationary on the wall so when people write inside of the frame area, the frame won’t be in the way.

    If you are allowed to hang on the wall, you might also think to get a friend with a table saw to cut you out some simple flat wood to give the same effect as the frame and then tack it down around the edge of the painted area. It would be “flatter” than a frame so as not to take up too much of the hallway space.

    Another idea is to do multiple “layers” of squares. I think the magnetic paint can be tinted in colors or painted over? or found in tinted colors? Think abstract painting; go crazy in making triangles, circles and squares in random places on this wall. No one ever said you had to paint the entire wall to have a fun effect :o)

    I love chalk paint and can’t wait to use it again! Good luck!


  • Reply
    JenniferNo Gravatar
    January 14, 2009 at 11:27 AM

    I think dark walls look magnificant-especially in apartments that catch a lot of light. I hope you find that they show a lot of style, with something so simple! There is something so classic about it!

  • Reply
    KatrinaNo Gravatar
    January 14, 2009 at 4:57 PM

    So glad that you’re doing a query on this beautiful subject. I too have wondered…

    Though I am not an expert on the magnetic or chalkboard paint, here are a list of VOC Free paints that I love:

    Yolo Colorhouse (gorgeous colors)

    California Paints, Elements line

    Sherman Williams HARMONY line:

    Milk-based paints and natural pigments

    Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  • Reply
    Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    January 14, 2009 at 6:59 PM

    Thanks for all your ideas, ladies! I think I’m going to go for it and incorporate some of the ideas here.

  • Reply
    RebeeNo Gravatar
    January 15, 2009 at 7:27 AM

    I’m with Debbie on the sheet metal. As long as it’s thin enough you’ll have enough room for the chalkboard, and it might (?) help with the magnetism, and you can, most importantly, take it down if you decide you don’t like it or when you move.

  • Reply
    IreneNo Gravatar
    January 16, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    Here in Holland you can get chalkboard paint and mix it in any colour you like.
    I always learned USA is the Land of Possibilities….there must be colour chalkboard paint to be found πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    DianaNo Gravatar
    January 27, 2009 at 4:55 AM

    What about removable vinyl wall decals? I know some companies have brought out large electromagnetic decals that are blackboards which can be written on. The beauty of this is you just peel it off when you leave. You could even contact a vinyl distributor directly and you can buy it by the metre.
    Good Luck. It’s such a fun idea.

  • Reply
    Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    April 6, 2009 at 11:40 AM

    Someone sent me a link to this Etsy shop: Spell it Out Designs which has chalkboard decals for sale. Removable, too. While not a full wall, could be an interesting addition to another room.

  • Reply
    CHERYL REILLYNo Gravatar
    May 18, 2009 at 6:36 PM

    need help with making a frame around a chalkboard that i painted on my kitchen wall… husband says it looks like a black hole. i need to frame it somehow? to make it look better. i bought the paint and painted a small square on my kitchen wall, so my kids can draw on it. i love this idea but need alittle help with finishing it……

  • Reply
    Las vegas web designerNo Gravatar
    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 PM

    Stumbled across this simply by chance. Wasn’t even aware that such a thing as magnetized paint existed. Very cool indeed.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Reply
    MindyNo Gravatar
    March 17, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    I just took the chalkboard plunge in my kitchen. Here’s how I did it:

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