• 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:
  • 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.

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


Everyday Hygge

The Shabby House

May 26, 2006

It used to be a rather shabby house with an overgrown yard, paint peeling and various spiders as tenants. But several months ago, after almost a year of being for sale, someone purchased that shabby little house and began to transform it.

Each day I would walk to the post and pass the house and each day I would notice a slight change in it. One day curtains were up, the next day a new door was put in, the next day new lights went up. After a month of changes, that shabby little house was becoming rather charming.

So I left a note.

I wrote on a small piece of paper, ‘I love watching you transform this house into a home. You’re doing a beautiful job,’ and slipped it unnoticed into their mailbox.

Over the next couple of months, more and more changes were made. Lately, they’ve been putting in a yard; yesterday the grass went in, and today it was roses.

Of course, I had to stop and smell them.

When I did so, a woman probably several years older than I popped out from a bush and said hullo. Startled, I said a hullo back and asked her about the garden she was putting in. We shared tips and ideas and then I told her I had been watching her transform the house.

That’s when she asked me if I was the person who had left the note months ago. I told her I was.

Her eyes started to well up and she hugged me.

“You must understand something,” she began. “I have never had a house. I grew up in one project after another. I was shuffled between family and friends, lived out of a suitcase. I remember my grandmother once telling me that success is having a home. I’ve been trying my whole life to find a way to get one. For 8 years, I have worked two, sometimes three jobs to save money for a house and then I found this one. I thought I could bring it back to life, we could transform together. After living in it for awhile, I wondered if it was a home. I didn’t know because I hadn’t had one. It didn’t have fancy furniture or a china cabinet, and I thought all homes had to have that. I didn’t know if I was doing it right, if I was crazy to buy a house without having a family or kids. I was afraid I had been wrong. After worrying all morning, I went and checked my mail and there was your note. And then I knew. I knew that this was my home because I was pouring love into it. I realised that’s what makes a home and boy do I have one.”

I was amazed by this and hugged her back. I thanked her for sharing her story with me and then headed on my way home, smiling with the thought of how writing one simple note made a difference.

  • Reply
    WildsideNo Gravatar
    November 11, 2006 at 3:00 PM

    Simply beautiful!

  • Reply
    TeaNo Gravatar
    April 2, 2008 at 4:56 PM

    I love this post.

  • Reply
    ChristopherNo Gravatar
    August 29, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    Oh this so reminded me of when I bought my first, and only, house. There was just me and it was a real dump but as soon as I walked through the door I could see the potential in it and set to work scraping and painting and sanding and cleaning. Now I live abroad but that house still belongs to me. I do miss it! Great little story and inspirational!

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