• 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

Sometimes it’s the little things.

July 8, 2008

Staying with my girlfriend, who has lived in the same roomy, beautiful flat for 12 years, I have become extraordinarily homesick for my own place. It hasn’t helped that we’ve been visiting with other friends with equally beautiful (and lived in) homes. And although spending half this year living in amazing hotel rooms had me ready to plunker down once again, it wasn’t until I started spending time in the homes of friends that it really hit that I haven’t had a place of my own to lay my head.

However, after weeks of looking at flat after flat that just won’t do (too dark, too small, too unsafe, too weird landlords, too smelly – oh yes been a lot of those for $1800!!) I’d felt a bit worn down and concerned that my vision of a flat wouldn’t manifest. I’d seen so clearly what I wanted thanks to friends and my own great home last year but I was feeling slightly defeated by everything and lack of hope.

So I took a break, drove up to Malibu and walked around; hesitating going into the Shabby Chic store. But, it’s so pretty in there and in I went. And that’s where I did something that was for me, slightly ridiculous. I’m not a shopper and generally not one to buy without purpose, but there was this beautiful pillowcase just sitting there and I am a smitten kitten for good linens. I picked it up, hesitated for a moment before I gave in to buying this solitary expensive pillowcase. Not a set, mind you, just a single, beautiful hand-embroidered crocheted linen pillowcase. It didn’t feel weird, actually, it feel really good even though at the moment I don’t have my own pillow to use it with.

But the extravagance was because I needed to feel like I had something that pertained to home whilst living out of two suitcases. Something to look forward to. Something to remind me that one day I’ll have use for it, I just need to be hopeful and keep trying.

Driving back down the coast I felt a bit more at ease, a bit more hopeful that I too, will one day find anther place that will feel like me. Before heading back to Hollywood I decided to stop in at Santa Monica and loook at just one more place.

And wouldn’t you know it, it was the one.

  • Reply
    Tracy D.No Gravatar
    July 8, 2008 at 6:45 PM

    I love this story and being reminded of the great things that can come from treating ourselves well. Congratulations on the new place – it’s lovely.

  • Reply
    RowenaNo Gravatar
    July 8, 2008 at 11:13 PM

    So you found your new place? Congratulations! Buying that pillowcase was like sending a signal out somewhere to the world that you were ready for a perfect, comfortable and cozy home. I admired your house tour on AT so I can’t wait to see what you create next.

  • Reply
    ellenNo Gravatar
    July 9, 2008 at 12:06 AM

    Congratulations on the new place! I love the simple lines it has. It looks sweet and clean. Your pillowcase is lovely. I, too, am a sucker for linens…especially white!

  • Reply
    FeliciaNo Gravatar
    July 9, 2008 at 3:33 AM

    Congrats! I just emailed you. No doubt I will be turning to you for sage advice next year.

  • Reply
    maureenNo Gravatar
    July 9, 2008 at 8:50 AM

    I’m so glad you found a home for yourself after all this time — and you deserve to treat yourself to little bits of home as often as you need or want to. Now I am looking forward to seeing photos of your new home-place, and how you will transform it into a perfect reflection of who you are. Good luck and congratulations.

  • Reply
    EmiraNo Gravatar
    July 9, 2008 at 1:28 PM

    I’m so thrilled for you and think it looks positively perfect. I too did this at one point when I was in total home upheaval. For me it was a lovely set of linen tea towels — ridiculous given that I was what felt like lifetimes away from making dirty dishes to wash and dry, let alone having somewhere to put the tea towels. Anyway, of course the day did come that I had a home they could live in and years later I’m now slightly unreasonably attached to those silly (and increasingly threadbare) tea towels.

  • Reply
    alissaNo Gravatar
    July 10, 2008 at 12:27 PM

    congratulations! how do you recommend flat hunting in santa monica? i’m so worn out by the whole thing!

  • Reply
    ellenNo Gravatar
    July 10, 2008 at 4:29 PM

    I’m wondering about your Carmel home. It was flooded, right? May I ask what your plans are for that place?

  • Reply
    LoriNo Gravatar
    July 10, 2008 at 7:07 PM

    I enjoy taking a break to read your blog and I just wanted to say I’m so glad you found what you were looking for, congratulations!

  • Reply
    Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    July 15, 2008 at 4:40 AM

    Thank you so much everyone! It’s my 5th move in 1.5 years yet I’m very nervous about this one – even though everything is packed.

    Alissa: I have flat hunted 3 times for Santa Monica (once in December, once in May and now this summer) and it’s been HARD each time. I actually have used the same landlord for all 3 flats (2 flats were in the same building). I love her because she has wonderful properties and she’s on top of everything. You can find her via But it really takes perseverance as the market is slim and I’m VERY picky with a high criteria (top floor, hardwood floors, charming & takes pets). I don’t have parking or inside washer/dryer but if I wanted those I think I’d still be homeless. also works. Just keep looking!

    Ellen: The Carmel home was a temporary vacation rental (6 month lease). And the roof caved in on the bedroom/living room area and then flooded and damaged quite a bit while I was in Ireland. So I lost a lot of things that I have to rebuy. I moved out because it wasn’t livable and I have no plans to return to Carmel. It was a pretty place but just not right for me (especially since I’m not good with crowds and summer was coming. No more quiet beach time!).

  • Reply
    Hygge House » Blog Archive » Where to?
    September 10, 2008 at 10:05 AM

    […] am a huge fan of Shabby Chic and have a lot of pieces throughout my home yet always seem to find a reason to wander into their stores both in Malibu and Montana (yesterday I had to get the white linen […]

  • Reply
    BrittaNo Gravatar
    November 15, 2008 at 10:44 AM

    How are you!
    It’s so good to see your dog is well πŸ™‚
    Your pictures: I love them!
    Have a nice week end!!
    oxoxo Britta.

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