• 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

My Favourite Books

December 8, 2006
Books. Santa Monica Treehouse on

I adore books. Adore. It’s the only thing I seem to lug with me from house to house and have a hard time parting with. My Amazon wish-list is ever growing though I confess I often want books simply for their cover or size. And since I read Danny Seo’s post about making a coffee book table, I’ve just been wanting to collect more.

But with the holidays, I’ve been getting ready to give books. I normally don’t give gifts unless it’s the gift of time (more on this to come) but books I make an exception for. Who doesn’t love a good book? Here are some of my current favourites:

The Audrey Hepburn Treasures (Hardcover) : This large book really is filled with treasures; it’s like a real life Griffin and Sabine with notes, letters and pictures inside that you can pull out. I’m late in the game to adoring Audrey but this book is helping me catch up. It’s just a beautiful book full of surprises and charms. I also really like the simple, smaller book, How to Be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life, which is filled with little quotes, stories and gems from Audrey’s life.

Fashion a History from the 18th to 20th Century: The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute: You might need your momma to help you carry this collection of two books; it’s so heavy it broke through a very strong bag! But it’s worth its weight; the pictures are beautiful, the history fascinating! For anyone who loves clothes, fashion or design, this would be a much welcomed gift. Or it makes the perfect base for that coffee table book…

Creole Thrift: Premium Southern Living Without Spending a Mint: I’ve written about this book before but I love it so much that it just has to be included here. It’s beautiful, it’s useful and it’s great as a gift for anyone. It combines thrifty ideas with antique finds – something that learning to do. I have a glass desk and this is one of the things I keep underneath because I’m in-love with its cover (the photos, the font, the colours oh my!).

Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen: I must confess I haven’t read this book yet (it’s not even released!) but having been a huge fan of Clotilde’s blog of the same name, I just know this book will be wonderful. She has a way of intertwining stories of food with practical how to’s. She makes everything seem so easy and possible because she just knows about food and cooking. One of my all time favourite meals was with her in Paris. So pre-order!

Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery: this book has been flying out of the store, and for good reason – it covers the main meals of the day! From sticky toffee pudding to granola to actual lunch meals, this bright green book is a welcomed change from all the other regular looking cook books. I haven’t made anything from it yet but I think I’m going to have to try something soon. For every time I look inside I’m instantly hungry.

Paris Out of Hand: A Wayward Guide: This small book packs a lot of interest whether you go to Paris or not. The visuals, the details, the stories – they beg you to ask the question, “how much of it is real?” The real question might be, how much do you want to believe? Me? I want to believe it all. If you’re a fan of Nick Bantock’s style, you’ll enjoy this book. Or give it as a gift to that backpacker or the world traveller who thinks they’ve seen it all.

Visual Chronicles: The No-Fear Guide to Creating Art Journals, Creative Manifestos and Altered Books: I have to say that art journals scare the bejesus out of me. I haven’t a real journal in years let alone a visual one. But this book, with its great ideas, non-directiony directions and wonderful photos makes me think that perhaps I too could keep a visual chronicle. We’ll see. In the meantime it’s just a wonderful book to have on hand.

My other favourites include:

  • Reply
    DanielleNo Gravatar
    December 8, 2006 at 5:50 AM

    Books are the best gift EVER. I could talk and read about them all day–although that wouldn’t leave any time for reading the delightful things themselves!

  • Reply
    FionaNo Gravatar
    December 8, 2006 at 2:07 PM

    Hi Alex

    I LOVE reading your posts and adore many of the items you recommend. I like the shabby chic country style as well as the Scandanavian look (the concept of hygge is new to me, but I have taken to it fast).

    Having read so many of your recommendations, I thought it’s only fair if I give you one too. “Cabbages and Roses” by Christina Strutt has some truly inspiring design ideas – I daydream that I could one day live in a house like the ones in her book For some homely inspiration, I thoroughly recommend it. Have a look at her shop too and another nice website is

    I’m not sure if they ship to the US, but I just like looking at the pictures!

    Have a great Christmas.

    Fiona x

  • Reply
    christina struttNo Gravatar
    December 22, 2006 at 7:15 PM

    Have just got e mail at home and was enchanted by Fiona’s words. Thank you.
    PS we do ship to the USA
    Happy Christmas

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