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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 Green Living

Natural Excercise

June 8, 2007

flying friend
My friend Angela, getting some natural exercise.

Most people are shocked to learn that I don’t have a TV but they soon learn to accept it. The one thing most people [in the U.S.] can’t seem to accept is that I also don’t have a car.

For the most part, being carless has not been an issue – it’s only been an issue when I lived in two U.S. cities: Nashville TN and Austin TX. The lack of public transportation, sidewalks, local shops and extreme humidity made life without a car impossible. But from London to Paris to New Zealand to Canada and yes, Santa Monica California – home of the car-loving people, I’ve been able to not have a car and am actually quite happy for it (my city has a walkable score of 98/100 – I actually think it has 100).

One of the reasons I love being carless is the fact that I hate to exercise. Hate. It. I can’t do gyms, do not ask me to go a yoga class, and please put away that Carmen Electra Shake Your Ass DVD. But the flip side to that is that I really do love being active; I’ll surf any day, I’ll hike a mountain, I’ll lift more heavy boxes than the mover and I’ll jump up and down in excitement over your promotion for 20 minutes. And I’ll especially walk. I’m a walker – I walk everywhere.

I’ve talked about this before in my Walkable Cities post but still the concept of walking, of natural exercise, seems to be lost. I can’t tell you how many people I know go to the gym, pay all those fees and then say to me, “Oh my god, you walk to get groceries?”

Let me just say that walking to the grocery store (Whole Foods) is a beautiful 30 min walk up tree lined streets in which I’m seeing people I know, inhaling flowers like nobodies businesses, laughing at little dogs and just enjoying the sunshine. When I get my groceries I load them up in my pack and repeat on the way home – this time with15lbs added and the view of the ocean to keep me going. Much nicer than feeling like a hamster in a wheel.

I do miss having a car and have signed up for Flexcar for those times I really need one (I do tend to go to a lot of events in LA and it just wouldn’t be right to show up in a fancy dress just off the bus!) and I’ve often toyed with the idea of buying a Prius (it’s what I rent when I need a car in L.A. and went 460 miles of commuting hell on one tank of gas!). But the value of not just saving money (car, insurance, gas, gym fees) but also of just having a healthy natural lifestyle means more to me than sometimes the convenience of having to get somewhere quick.

What are the ways you could be active without even knowing it?

  • Reply
    SamNo Gravatar
    June 14, 2007 at 1:33 PM

    Oh how I wish I could live in a place where I didn’t need a car – maybe the next move…

  • Reply
    JillNo Gravatar
    June 14, 2007 at 3:50 PM

    I’m glad I read your post this morning…I too am a walker & get grief from my friends, who seem to think I’m crazy. But, also like you, I hate the gym, but I love to explore while I walk. πŸ™‚ This morning I was feeling a bit lazy & thinking of using my car for the 4-minute drive to work (that I usually walk)…But now I’m grabbing my walking shoes. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    KristenNo Gravatar
    June 14, 2007 at 5:08 PM

    I also love walking and hate the gym. I’ve been walking to work for three years now and love it! I also recently bought an Electra Amsterdam and plan on biking more and driving less. I live in a city of about 25,000, so we don’t have mass transit and the city isn’t really pedestrian oriented. I would love to live in a walkable city!

  • Reply
    EmiraNo Gravatar
    June 16, 2007 at 12:57 AM

    Count me in the big walkin’ crowd as well. And biking. My favorite part of walking is taking different routes. As spring arrives I find myself walking in alleys so I can peer into people’s backyard gardens for inspiration.

    Our latest version of incidental exercise is badminton. We’ve set up a net on our front lawn and have been playing in the evening. It’s silly, fun and when we’re feeling feisty, pretty hard work. Of course other nights we work harder to keep from spilling a glass of wine while we play and those nights may not count as accidental exercise πŸ˜‰

  • Reply
    LindaNo Gravatar
    June 18, 2007 at 5:48 PM

    It is a pleasure to live in a city like Paris and not need a car. The metro and bus lines are fabulous and walking is such a pleasure. I lived in Austin and tried to take the bus but couldn’t take the wait in the heat and I could walk to work in the morning but the heat in the afternoon defeated me. Your car rental thing sounds perfect.

  • Reply
    <>< aNo Gravatar
    June 19, 2007 at 7:51 PM

    you’ve inspired me. i’m in the midst of transitioning between life in texas and life in indiana, and, as i drove a moving truck up to indiana,i am carless for a couple of weeks. my little brother’s ball game is tonight, and i’m dying to sit in the bleachers and cheer him on. so…off i go across the river on my lovely red bicycle…we’ll see how well i handle the hills! =0) they’re a touch daunting on the way up. thanks for the nudge! happy day!

  • Reply
    LakshmiNo Gravatar
    July 18, 2007 at 5:44 PM

    In India, women sweep and mop the floor daily and that’s great exercise! My Mom does it regularly and she is fit in her mid-50s… alas, my cleaning involves dancing with the vacuum and running a duster on the blinds… πŸ™

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