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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 😀
 #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. 😀
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. 😀
  • The @ojaivalleyinn is one of my favourite places either for a day trip or an overnight. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I always go when I need supreme rest and healing because I really really get that here. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 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). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I  paid for my room 😀 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 Fashion & Beauty

Movie Set Decor: The Duchess

September 4, 2008
The Duchess Film Scenes

Soon The Duchess will premiere and I can’t wait to see it – especially the set since details about its location and costume has been heavily dished in the industry. With Michael Carlin as the production designer and Michael O’Connor as the costume designer, I’m sure this will be a visual movie to inspire.

Based on the incredible historical biography by Amanda Foreman, the movie is about Georgiana Spencer who, in 1774 at the age of 17, becomes Duchess of Devonshire. The set is both lavish from the fabrics to architecture with lots of information and sneak peaks on the films official web site.

For the past fifteen minutes or so I’ve been pursuing the “Discover” and “Costumes” area of the site and have developed a craving for a three foot wig ans several gowns with fabulous underpinnings. However, that all comes at a cost and Georgiana, despite having wealth, celebrity and a title, was extraordinarily in debt. The current Duke and Duchess of Devonshire (who live in the home Chastworth where parts of the movie were filmed) still have many of the letters from creditors seeking to collect.

Georgiana was probably first celebrity in the way that we perceive celebrity today. When she appeared in the papers they sold out, she was followed around by cartoonists (the equivalent of the paparazzi). She was a fashion icon and she captured people’s imagination. And that took money.

Keira Knightly who plays Georgiana has said of her character’s debt, “When she died she had been terrified of disclosing to her husband the amount of she owed, because she was convinced he was going to divorce her or send her away and actually when she died he found out how much she was in debt and said is that all. There’s something incredibly sad about her, I think that she’s a victim of herself, of her own innocence. She’s a victim of people using her for their own gain, but what is rather wonderful about this story is she finds a way to live with this. She finds a way to triumph over something and to regain some power in a time when women really had very little.”

That doesn’t sound like only a 1774 problem, does it? The other way in which this movie sometimes parallels the present is the way in which Georgiana’s life resembles that of her great-great-great-great niece, Princess Diana Spencer. Both she and Georgiana were intelligent, powerful women who were almost ripped to shreds by the press and then fought to remake themselves to finally be the women they wanted to be. One of the aspects of Georgiana’s life that makes it so relevant today is that she had to live under the intense glare of public scrutiny. And although I often have a hard time with Keira Knightly, I think the scrutiny in which she’s lived under will perhaps help her with this movie, too.

What also helps the actors in this movie is that director Saul Dibb demanded that all scenes be shot on location. This lead to the incredible task of finding current places to represent real life past homes that were no longer in existence, such as the main residence of the Duke and Duchess, the Devonshire House.

For that home, rooms from Kedleston Hall, Clandon Park in Surrey and Holkham in Norfolk were combined for interiors whilst the exterior was shot at the Somerset House in London. Robert Adam designed Kedleston Hall which is one of the most intact of Adam’s houses in England. Yet there were still challenges with transforming modern updates such as switching out electrical lighting for candles and putting in massive chandeliers. Said Carlin of the task, “Here was an enormous amount of time and work spent on the structural engineering of how we could hang huge chandeliers, especially when you’re working in homes where sometimes things haven’t been moved in hundreds of years.” Kedleston was also depicted as a rented villa in Bath.

Other places used include:

And if you happen to be in Derbyshire, you can see the amazing exhibition of costumes and accessorites at the Duchess Film Exhibition at Kedleston Hall.

  • Reply
    LindaNo Gravatar
    September 4, 2008 at 12:33 PM

    I saw previews of this movie while in England a few days ago. It looks really good. Fascinating woman.

  • Reply
    robertasNo Gravatar
    September 5, 2008 at 2:33 AM

    Heavens, anytime I see Keira Knightly I have an overwhelming urge to feed her.

    The movie does look visually stunning. A friend recently went on a 3-week course (she is an Art History major) and they visited all these castles across England and saw a good number of private collections. And there I was absolutely green with envy and she was like – ts it wasnt that impressive. Honestly some people 🙂

    And speaking of Norfolk I was there earlier this year – it was one of the most relaxing, stress free holidays I had in the last 10 years. The scenery, the mixture of new and old, its breathtakingly pretty. And people are so kind.

  • Reply
    debbie baileyNo Gravatar
    September 5, 2008 at 8:06 AM

    While visiting Chatsworth last year, in their library was a paperback copy of Georgiana. One of the first things I did when I got home was order a used copy from half.com. In Chatsworth’s gift shop, I bought Counting Her Chickens by Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. She’s a fascinating woman. The Sisters is about her and her four sisters growing up and who they became; one of whom was a friend of Hitler. Very interesting reading.

    I fell in love with Chatsworth. One day during lunch, I looked closely at my plate and it had a drawing of Chatsworth in the l700’s. Funny how things are connected, isn’t it?

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