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  • One of my favourite places.
  • 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 😀
 #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. 😀
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. 😀
  • The @ojaivalleyinn is one of my favourite places either for a day trip or an overnight. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I always go when I need supreme rest and healing because I really really get that here. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 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). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I  paid for my room 😀 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.

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Everyday Hygge

Pie Town, New Mexico

May 27, 2008

On one hand, I’m juggling the most wonderful, happy news and events and on the other, a mound of frustrations and headaches. It always seems to be this way; balancing the good and the bad. Sometimes people have the impression that, for me, everything is easy and wonderful and never a drop of rain falls from my 72F cloudless sky. But I’m human and there’s a lot going on. My trick is that I just don’t give weight that often to the negative. I’m almost Pollyanna to a fault. The upswing (see?) is that by focusing on the great, more great happens. That doesn’t mean I shy away from the challenges, I just know they’re there, deal with them, and enjoy all the good when I can no matter how big or small.

It’s true that right now I don’t have my own home and that sleeping in hotels or crashing on the floors of friends is taking its toll. However, I do have a teapot I adore complete with my favourite tea and tea cosy. And every time I fill that pot I feel happy and safe. Trivial? Stupid? Probably to some who’d say, “you don’t even have your own place to unpack your things and you’re going to be satisfied with tea?” But at this moment – 1:00PM to be exact – I’ll take what I can get. And that’s a great cup of Earl Grey. I’ll take on all the moving bits, the workload, the phone calls, the meetings in awhile. Right now, it’s just a beautiful time for tea.

So while enjoying that tea I took a break and discovered The Library of Congress Flickr Photos (and if you haven’t yet seen them, I highly encourage to you to peak and if you can, participate). Somewhere in the middle of it all, I came across a series of photographs by Russel Lee who was sent by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to on Pie Town, New Mexico, to document the effects of the great depression.

Whilst browsing the photographs, and without knowing that much about it (I learned only of the history after reading this great article in the Smithsonian), I saw a community, I saw people working, I saw people making things, living simply, living well (did you see all those pies, that amazing quilt?). I saw the old and new mixing (the horse pulling the car out of the ditch – brilliant!). I saw a lot of things I talk about on here, only these things were taking place almost 70 years ago amongst very hard conditions.

There were no pretty things to pet, no afternoon tea service or store to duck into to buy a pick me up. But if you study these photographs, you’ll see there’s so much beauty in them during basic survival. Which is why the following paragraph from the Smithsonian article really struck me:

Lee took plenty of pictures in PieTown of the deprived living conditions; he showed how hard it all was. His pictures weren’t telling lies. And yet his pictures of people like the Caudills almost made you forget the deprived living conditions, forgive them, because the sense of the other—the shared food and good times at all-day community church sings—was so powerfully rendered. In front of Lee’s camera, the Caudills’ lives seemed to narrate the received American story of pluck and determination

I think sometimes it’s easy to think that living well will be achieved when only one has a, b, or c or has done x, w & z. Sometimes people think living simply means forgoing everything or having everything done for you. I think living well, living simply, living hygge is a state of mind that is found in every situation – good or bad. It’s about making the most out of your life whether you’re on vacation in the Bahamas or struggling in a dingy studio flat. It’s hoping almost to a fault that things will get better so you wear your good clothes to an outdoor fair, laugh with your neighbours, bake that pie and then take on the worries of tomorrow, tomorrow.

Life is very seldom ever totally perfect or totally bad – there’s always beauty and a way to be content. The trick, I think for all of us, is just to look for that. To celebrate even when we don’t think we have reason. To give when we think we have nothing to give. To help when we don’t think we have anything to offer. To live, not when things are perfect, but right now, the best we can.

  • Reply
    LindaNo Gravatar
    May 27, 2008 at 11:34 PM

    My son and his family have moved to another country but have been without their furniture and most of their toys for the children and clothing for weeks. Their things still haven’t been sent but they are finding how little they can live without.

  • Reply
    JasminNo Gravatar
    May 28, 2008 at 3:18 PM

    I hear you—whenever I move to a new place, especially a new country, a tea kettle is the first thing I buy. There’s something so comforting and homey about being able to make yourself a cup of tea.

  • Reply
    FeliciaNo Gravatar
    May 29, 2008 at 6:03 PM

    Lovely, lovely photograph, A. Wholly inspiring.
    xoxo, f.

  • Reply
    StaceyNo Gravatar
    June 3, 2008 at 10:58 AM

    I’m a firm believer and true practitioner of living your life now. My parents are artists and inspired us to live an artful life and not the perfect one that we thought everyone else must have. I still don’t have a perfect home, but it’s always the one all our friends love to visit and always comment on what a great energy the house has. That may be the best compliment of all.

  • Reply
    Hygge House » Blog Archive » Celebrating Big
    January 10, 2009 at 4:04 PM

    […] I’ve been trying to think of what else to do. I just don’t want to do ordinary this year despite the economy and some travel restrictions. Sometimes one just has to give into bigness and celebrate – sometimes that’s the only way to turn things around. […]

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