• 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 donโ€™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 itโ€™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 ๐Ÿ˜€
  • 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. ๐Ÿ˜€
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. ๐Ÿ˜€
  • The @ojaivalleyinn is one of my favourite places either for a day trip or an overnight. โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €
I always go when I need supreme rest and healing because I really really get that here. โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €
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. โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €
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). โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € 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). โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € I  paid for my room ๐Ÿ˜€ 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

Preparing a room

October 16, 2006

I have been in my office three weeks now and during this time it has remained in a sorry state; it’s the last of the rooms to be done and boxes from other rooms have somehow found their way in here. I’m working off and old rickety table with temporary shades that keep the room dark and not very inviting. But, there’s a reason why I’ve taken time with one of the more important rooms in the home; I wanted to sit in it for awhile to get an understanding of what I want the room to be like, how the light flows, what things I need for projects and so forth. And after awhile of working round the clock and surfing for furniture, I’m slowly but surely coming to an understanding of what to do.

West Elm BookcaseObviously the office is a place to work so with writing supplies, books, photo supplies, printing, mailing and so forth, I am in need of lots of storage. However, having lots of storage in view can sometimes overwhelm me and can often get too cluttered (and not in that cool arty way I often admire). Also, since clients and friends will be coming into this room I need to have a place for everything as not to scare them off because of projects all over the floor. For my storange needs I’m using the Elfa Shelving system in my closet (and in every other closet in my home – I love this product!) so that much of the storage can be tucked away and, with my sometimes messy ways, I won’t have to worry about seeing it. But I do have to have things out of the closet such as my printer and some books so the West Elm 3 X 2 bookcase in white is the perfect size to fit between my doorways and to house my very large printer on top and books, magazines and what not below. I love that it’s on wheels; it gives it an airy feeling and I want light and airy in this room.

Ikea-DeskTableTopIkea-TablelegsAlthough generally not a fan of Ikea (reminds me too much of my twenties and most things only lasted a few years until they went binned), one of their combination tables (where you select the legs and table top) caught my eye for several reasons. The glass top has space underneath for storing papers, pictures and projects without having them all over the top. The legs hold baskets, books and storage as well which makes for a great clutter free workspace (in theory, anyway!). Multipurpose for around $150. And, if at some point I decide I need something large or different, I can easily transform these pieces into something else without having to worry about all the money I spent.

Pottery Barn LoveSeatSeating is important for not just me (I adore my Herman Miller Chair) but for clients, friends and those times when I need to curl up and read a book or magazine for inspiration (tough life, I know). Opposite the desk area and against a wall, I’m thinking of putting a little sofa or setee. I’ve found a very comfy loveseat; orginally $1200 that is currently $250. It’s slipcovered in a pale blue so I don’t have to be afraid of keeping it clean or putting my feet up on it. The size is perfect but I worry about it being perhaps a little too large or a little too family room. I have also fallen in love with a French Setee from the late 1800’s that just made its way to one of my favourite antique shoppes. However, at $1800 I question the value of it although I think it’s perfect. Perhaps I’ll figure out a way to make that purchase logical…

ikea-curtainsCurtains are where things get a bit tricky; needing something for privacy but wanting to let in some light, I’m looking at white curtains but not necessarily sheers. I also have ten foot ceilings so finding curtains of at least 108″ is tricky enough and keeping the cost down (as I’d need four panels) seems to be even trickier. Crisp white against the pale blue colour I’m thinking of would work wonderful and compliment the furniture. The ones pictured to the left are from Ikea and I used to use them in a bedroom but I think might work well in here. Until the Ikea opens up next month I’ll keep looking just in case something else pops up as I’m not entirely convinced.

The current colour is a pretty yellow which, in the bedroom, is really appealing. Not so much in this room because it already receives so much light that the brightness seems to keep me from feeling like working. I work best in cosy, slightly cold temperatures which is perhaps why I often work at night. So the first thing to change will be the wall colour. Inspired by Alicia’s beautiful blue (Behr’s Pensive Sky), I’m leaning in that direction although I might go with Sherwin Williams Harmonyยฎ Interior Latex Paint in Tradewind (as seen in the November Cottage Living Inspiration House) or Birdbath. The Harmony line is an eco-friendly, low-VOC paint which is perfect since this is a room I’ll be spending a lot of time in, air quality makes a difference. I am, however, also draw to grey walls like those found in Parisian flats but the blue might be a bit more cosy. We’ll see on that.

My office is important to me; it’s the first one I’ve ever had and I want it to reflect who I am and what I do. I want it to feel creative but professional; tidy but playful. Clean but cosy. I want it to be.. what’s the word… Hygge!

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