• 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:
  • 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.

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


Everyday Hygge

How to be a Guest

July 3, 2008

I once wrote a post “For the Love of Guests” in which I shared some ideas of what I do when people stay. Giving people a wonderful experience is important because I understand how travelling can be stressful and tiring and expensive. So anything I can do to lesson that, great.

But I never really talked about being a guest because I don’t have great experience at this; I generally feel intrusive, a burden, and slightly uneasy no matter with whom I’m staying with. That’s why I almost always stay in hotels when visiting because I just don’t want to put anyone out and frankly, I like my privacy and quiet after a busy day out.

However, the past couple of months I’ve stayed with a couple of friends and currently, I’m staying with my BFF. Before I came I asked her to lay some ground rules (what she likes, doesn’t like, where things go, etc.) and then I gave her full-on permission to tell me to leave, pick up or move something or leave her alone. Her friendship is more important than a free night’s sleep so being honest about how we are and what we need set us up for visiting success!

The flowers above are from her; she went to the flower market, arranged them, picked the fern from her front yard and voila. She cooked a feast and had a dinner party last night and today, showed me her secret beauty room in which I sat and put on some make up. She, like me, loves to make things special and she, like me, loves to have guests. And that’s when I realised that if people agree to have me, it’s because they want me and that staying with people can actually bring you closer and can be a lot more fun (who wants privacy when there is 2AM Girltalk to be had?). So with that, I thought about how to be a great guest:

  1. Be really clear about your arrival and departure days and time. This way your host knows how long to prepare, what to expect and when they need to be at the house.
  2. Have your own plans – don’t rely on your host. If your host works or has children or has budget constraints, it’s not fair to put the burden on them to take you around. Likewise if you’re going to do something touristy or fun, invite your host and/or offer to pay for their ticket. But don’t expect them to come or be disapointed if they don’t. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean they are
  3. Be honest if you need private time or space. I have a girlfriend that’s stayed with me a few times and I love her because she’ll say “I need to be alone” and then I don’t feel like I have to entertain or wonder if she’s OK. This is also good if you don’t want people fussing over you who really like to (my mum is a good example of this!).
  4. Take them out for a meal or offer to cook.
  5. Don’t over stay. Even if your host says you can stay for a week, stay for 5 days.
  6. Even if your host says, “Make yourself at home” remember that it’s not your home; be clean, be respectful. Make your bed, keep your clothes together, wipe down the sink, hang your towels. Even if your host doesn’t mind messes (I get everything clean before a guest but have no problem if things fall wayside whilst they’re there), it just makes their life easier.
  7. I always offer to do a grocery run with my host; this way they get food and I can have food in the house and there’s snacks and dinner for everyone. For someone like me who has food allergies, this is really important. I don’t have to stress about eating and my host doesn’t have to stress about having something to offer.
  8. Don’t expect them them to be a chauffer or if they offer their car, bring it back with the gas tank full.
  9. If you have friends in the area, don’t use your hosts house as a party house unless they’re aware and OK.
  10. Do something unexpected for them. I’m staying in my BFF’s dressing room in which she has this lovely little bed thing that’s just big enough for me. It’s in the middle of the room and on either side are closets filled with clothes. She mentioned wanting to organise her closets so I went and bought some of my favourite huggable hangers (50 of them) and then will re-hang her clothes while she’s out.
  • Reply
    ingaNo Gravatar
    July 8, 2008 at 9:50 AM

    Aw, you’re such a considerate guest. I liked all these tips, especially #2. They all make sense though. Great post.

  • Reply
    emmaNo Gravatar
    July 21, 2008 at 9:11 AM

    Thanks for writing this post! I always feel somewhat guilty when I’m staying at someone else’s house, so I found your list full of useful tips to ease my conscience.

    I’ve been staying at a friend’s house for the last week, and since it is located in the middle of nowhere and I don’t have a car or a drivers license, I was so relieved when i found a bike I could borrow. Now I didn’t have to ask for a lift every time I wanted to buy an icecream or go swimming, and I also had a way to pass time and get some exercise at the same time while my friend was doing other stuff!

    I stay there quite often, and I always try to do my share of the housework, but unfortunately my friend won’t let me cook or pay for groceries. So I do the laundry and the dishes, and I usually try to do something extra like oiling the outdoor furniture or giving the bathroom a good scrubdown. But this list gave me a few new ideas. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Hygge House » Blog Archive » For the love of Guests
    March 18, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    […] what if you’re the guest? I’ve got suggestions for that, too! Everyday Hygge | Email | Print | Share/Save a2a_linkname=”For the love of Guests”; […]

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