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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

Power Outage

January 26, 2008
home emergency kit

About a quarter of my time in Carmel by the Sea has been spent without power for long periods of time (up to two days at one point). This isn’t something I’m used to so I’d just light every candle and wait it out. But after a few times, I realised this would be a reoccurring thing since storm after storm seems to be plummeting the west coast (and we’re getting hit with the hardest rains/winds).

A little research on the American Red Cross and Consumer Energy Center left me with a few helpful do’s and dont’s. I took a lot to heart and stocked up on some things which was good because upon my return home, the power was out. All day.

Here’s my survival guide:


1. Make sure to have a back up phone system. A cell or a land line if you have an electrical phone. You’re going to need this for number 2.

2. Call your service provider to let them know of the power outage. More often than not, they’re not aware that my building has no power since I live downtown above shops. Those shops close after a certain time so no one else is calling in.

3. Know your circuit breaker really well – even if you’re in a flat. If just your building has gone out, knowing how to flip it can make all the difference. Electrical companies will often say they can guide you to it – 99% of the time, however, they’ll be wrong. And that’s a bad thing when it’s dark and raining.

4. Have a battery powered flashlight (with an extra battery) and a self-powered flashlight in case the batteries are dead in the first.

5. Most places say not to use candles but I confess to doing so but only a couple in the room I’m in – I never leave them all over. I’m slightly paranoid about this.

6. Unplug everything. Even if you have surge protectors unplug everything. But keep one light on so you know when the power is back.

7. Make sure to have an extra gallon of water, drinks and raw foods you can eat. You’ll get the munchies and can’t cook. Also, you don’t want to keep opening the fridge so have things ready (like Larabars, fruit, chips – whatever floats your boat). I learned if your freezer is full, food can last up to 2 days, 1 if it’s half full. The fridge about 4 hours if you don’t open it. I’ve lost so much food the past month it’s not funny. So I’m packing those larabars for sure.

8.I try to keep my laptop and iPhone at full charge so if the power goes out, I can finish up what I’m doing or still surf for info online (with the iPhone). Or I can watch a movie.

9. If it’s cold, close all curtains, bundle up and stay warm. Letting your dog sleep on your bed for once can help.

10. Have things to do; read, play board games, write letters, nap, be lazy – enjoy the time “unplugged” and having a reason not to communicate or rush out (if there’s a storm).

I’m sure I’m missing more but I’m sure tomorrow will provide me with another learning opportunity!

  • Reply
    Madame MeowNo Gravatar
    January 26, 2008 at 11:56 PM

    My mother lives nearby and was telling me the other day about the horrible windstorm that zapped the power for a while.

    I hope you continue to enjoy your stay, Alex! (and make sure you go to the Patisserie Boissiere if you haven’t yet)

  • Reply
    LindaNo Gravatar
    January 28, 2008 at 8:11 AM

    Did you get down to the coast to see the waves crashing. A friend was telling me about the awesome waves coming in at the 17 mile drive area.

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