• 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."


Fashion & Beauty

Hat’s off On!

November 27, 2009
Alex Loves Hats

Today’s agenda consisted of running errands around town on foot in blustery, cold, misty weather. Having worked this morning I was pressed for time in getting things done and didn’t want to take the time to wash and fuss with my hair. The solution for warmth, style and manageability was a hat. Luckily, I’ve about a dozen of them.

From woolly caps to structured hats, I’m literally covered for every outing. And no matter if it’s summer or winter, I find a reason to wear a hat and, more often than not, that gets comments. And today was no exception.

About half a dozen women commented on my hat (not the one shown above – that’s about 6 years old). Each time they say the same: they love the hat, they wish they wore them more or could pull it off. The last part always gets me. There’s this idea I’ve found across America that women feel they can’t really wear hats – that they’re theatrical, not appropriate, or young. Unless they’re baseball caps or visor, I don’t really see many women here wearing them.

When I’m wearing a hat in Europe, however, my hats aren’t a conversational piece at all as everyone there seems to wear one and I just blend right in. Maybe it’s because women there tend to be more pedestrian oriented than their American counterparts; when you’re out in weather especially, you need something that is warm, that keeps your hair from flying all over and styled. In America, more women drive from place to place and a hat becomes less a necessity and more of a fashion accessory. And it seems as though that’s a style that doesn’t seem to be in fashion.

I wish it was as I have quite a few hats that I like to wear depending on the outfit, the weather, and the need. I’ve dressy ones, casual ones, practical and fun.My ginourmous sun hat that borderlines obnoxious but I wear it to the beach or out to a casual summer lunch when the rays are harsh or I’m feeling dramatic amongst my girlfriends. I have a simple sun hat for walks about town and a more practical sun blocker for longer walks during the day. I have so many woolly caps for warmth and bad hair days and a couple of pretty rain caps for an evening out.

There’s hope, however, as over the years I’ve been seeing more hats in shops from Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, JCrew and on Etsy.

So perhaps hats will start trending more stateside because they’re not just pretty, they’re practical.

PS: I’m still trying to find the best way to store my hats. Wool ones go in bins but my harder ones that need to keep their shape need boxes and I’m still searching for those elusive round bins. Any ideas?

  • Reply
    DaveNo Gravatar
    November 30, 2009 at 1:37 PM

    I would say the same thing for men in America – at least, men under 50 yrs old (the one exception being west-coast hipsters who wear their little bike caps and ride fixies :)). I wear a wool driving cap almost every day, and have a nice felt fedora, and a couple of other hats that I wear on a pretty regular basis. They do look great, and they do serve the very practical purpose of keeping my head warm and dry in the fall/winter/spring and keeping the sun off of it in the summer – as I go most places by bicycle or walking.

    I think similarly, bicycles have become sort of fashion or lifestyle accessories as well, since almost everyone here (America) owns at least one car and uses it for basically all their transportation. Bicycles here aren’t seen as just tools to get you from one place to the next as they are in many places in Europe (Denmark included), they must be some kind of statement or whatever.

  • Reply
    katieNo Gravatar
    November 10, 2010 at 11:20 PM

    I saw some glorious round hat boxes on etsy the other day. That would be my best guess for finding those.

    Also, I just stumbled upon your blog after searching for the spelling of hygge. It’s great! πŸ™‚

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