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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 πŸ˜€
 #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. 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

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Everyday Hygge

Marie Antoinette

November 1, 2008
Marie Antoinette Film Scenes

When Emira came to stay with me we ended up confessing a deep, dark secret each of us carried; we loved the movie Marie Antoinette. Not liked, not thought was just nice, but loved. We even shared a favourite scene (the birthday at the lake at sunrise when they’re all just sitting there).

We both loved how human this movie was which you don’t often see in a period piece nor in an autobiography such an infamous person. We both were in amazement at how perfect Kirsten Dunst, an American, was for this role and could picture no one else in it. The story told resonated with us deeply. This movie was the only thing that had me interested in finally visiting Versailles after dozens and dozens of trips to Paris and had Emira put in on her places to go.

However, what really made us swoon was the beauty, the frivolity of the set, and the clothing. The song, “I want Candy” is so perfect for one scene in particular because this movie was eye candy. Regardless of how you feel about the story line (it seems to be either a hit or miss with people), the one thing you can’t get away from is how beautiful, exciting and over-the-top inspiring it is to watch.

As times are challenging for so many of us and practicality seems to win over frivolity, it’s nice to escape into a movie that can transport one into a different place and inspire a little decadence. Everyone can use a little of that – I know I can.

This lead me to take cue from Emira who told me that when she watches the movie, she buys a little bottle of champagne, pours it into a beautiful glass and sits and watches the movie in a completely in-love state. So last night, I did the same, breaking out my never used crystal champagne flutes, poured some lovely sweet dessert wine, put on my best dress, lit my favourite candle and popped in the CD. Decadence without fortune. Simple pleasures without effort. Joy without guilt.

It reminded me that although one might not live in Versailles, have Manolo’s or pink macaroons at her constant disposal, there are ways to feel luxurious no matter what the times or the bank account says.

  • Reply
    CathyNo Gravatar
    November 11, 2008 at 11:39 AM

    Delurking to say that I love this movie too. Such a beautiful movie. I love how they blended modern things into it as well- watch for the scene where you can see a pair of Converse shoes.

    You might like the book that this movie was based on- Marie Antoinette The Journey, by Antonia Fraser.

  • Reply
    Tracy D.No Gravatar
    November 13, 2008 at 8:15 PM

    This is one of those polarizing movies – you either love it or don’t get it. I loved it. I still listen to the soundtrack all. the. time.

    I love the scenes in the Hamlet with the little girl. So quiet and beautiful. When I went to visit the Hamlet it rained… but it was still gorgeous!

  • Reply
    stacyNo Gravatar
    November 21, 2008 at 3:25 PM

    Since you loved the movie, you must read (if you get a chance) Abundance, a novel of Marie Antoinette…its a large book but I did not put it down for three days. It won’t disappoint!

  • Reply
    AndreaNo Gravatar
    November 25, 2008 at 8:46 PM

    I love the movie too – and next time I watch it I will definitely be sipping champagne in a crystal flute!

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