• 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."


Everyday Hygge


November 27, 2006

Danish Girls

Growing up, my mum and I were at odds a lot. The older I get the more I understand why – we are so very, very similar. Quirky, independent, dreaming girls with birthdays just two days apart, we often clashed on everything, especially if we weren’t personally happy which tended to be the case with my mum. She sacrificed a lot of herself to live a way in which often wasn’t her choice. And because of the friction and her unhappiness, I wanted nothing to do with being Danish. I was my fathers girl and therefor was French, French, French! When I moved to England I was English, English, English! And in New Zealand I became one of the surfer boys I hung out with all the time. I was anything but Danish!

In my early twenties, my mother began to come and visit me in my flat, staying over for a night at time. We’d walk the city, go shopping, giggle over dinner. These visits were sometimes awkward and exhausting but they were slowly putting us together.

One day she told me she was going to leave my father. This did not crush me but made me very happy. Oh, I loved both my parents and they’re both fantastic people but as a married couple do so poorly. They’re very opposite, with different ideas about life and lifestyle and a ten year age difference had started to show itself (my mother wanted to go go go and my father wanted to settle in). I supported her leaving him and her move far away to be with her family. Little did I know at the time it would be the best thing for her.

Being on her own made her come into her own. That lighthearted, charming woman finally emerged once again. She began to create so many things, ran her own business, worked at a winery in which she became very snobby (but oh so charming) about wine! Her style changed, her hair became flirty. She became this amazing woman that I started to connect to.

It was around this time that I started growing out of a life that didn’t suit me; the corporate American Dream Life. As I began to become myself again I started to see how much like my mother I was; the same smile, the same hair, the same quirky mannerisms, the same heart that could break so easily but everyone thought was impenetrable. We even sit and tilt out head the same and snort when we find something terrible funny.

And we are funny; we crack each other up like you wouldn’t believe.

She’s a bit spacey and says things that make no sense to anyone except in her head. Perfect example when I once rang her for cooking instructions:

Me: How much water do I put in?
Her: Oh, I don’t care
Me: Four cups?
Her: Oh no! Not that much!

This conversation could have easily been turned around for this is also me. She randomly says things and you have no idea where they came from but she has a map laid out in her head. This is me. She can buy the weirdest, saddest thing from a second hand shop and make it fabulous in 2.3 seconds. This is not me. But now I am learning from her.

Embracing her and the Danish life I often tried to run away from has put me at ease in a way I couldn’t have anticipated. It’s made me connect to something I didn’t even know I needed to connect to. I thought I was just Alex – girl who sprung from nowhere! And now I see my past, my history, my culture and say, “Ah then, I am not alone.”

I contacted my cousins just outside of Copenhagen to let them know I was coming in January. Oh how you look like your mother! They kept saying. Oh, how I see that now and smile instead of cringe.

Don’t get me wrong; France still has my heart and my style in home tends to be more French Chic than teak and art. I want to live in France in several years and my French is still better than my Danish. But right now, I’m a Danish Girl, with my blonde hair, strange sense of humour, and adoration of dressing up.

I share this not as an ode to my mother but because sometimes I think it is so easy to forget, not pay attention to or run away from where we come from – especially if it has a negative association to us. But I think it’s so important to connect to something as the individual way of life has got to go. There is no glory to being alone. There is no medal you get for doing everything by yourself or acting as though you just fell out of a sky and need no one. I tried that for many years and perhaps I seemed powerful and together but truthfully, I was always a little sad and misplaced.

But now, connecting to parts I once tried so hard to disconnect from, is helping me to not only create my home but myself.

  • Reply
    mjNo Gravatar
    January 3, 2007 at 6:49 PM

    I think this is the process most girls go through with their mothers. Great post.

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