• 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


Fashion & Beauty

Spring Travel Wardrobe

May 6, 2008

spring trip clothes

Thanks to years of travel and hundreds of trips (52 last year and 11 so far this year), I’ve got packing down to a science – especially since I like to travel with only carry-on. However, my current trip to Europe was a little challenging due to several different climates, events, Terminal 5, and length of time so I had to really think about what to bring.

Dressing for comfort is essential followed by flexibility (how many times to how many places can I wear something) followed by is it appropriate (for weather, people, dinners, daily touring). Above is my essentials which was all nicely tucked into my Orla Kiely roll on bag (which worked as carry-on!).

So far, everything has worked really well and been very comfortable. I’ve been able to go to some big events but then walk on cobblestone streets in freezing temperatures. There were a couple of items that didn’t make it in (a bright orange dress and a shawl I wear – you can see those in some of my Flickr shots). The purple Rachel Pally dress has been heaven for flights because it’s easy to sleep in. My Born boots have been crucial to walking around. And the hat comes in perfect when rain hits and the hair frizzes. And big sunglasses cover up late nights and hours of travel.

There is the cliche saying that you can spot a tourist because of their running shoes, khaki pants and t-shirts. I find this is often true and it’s confusing to me how comfort is almost always equated to sweat pants and runners in North America. Or how when people travel they don’t “take the good stuff” because they fear it getting lost on a flight. This is my fear, too, which is why I do carry on. If I have too much to fit into a carry on (which is very, very rare) I take a second bag, packing all the things that could be easily replaced or I could afford to lose (often this is computer gadgets, chargers, shoes, books, toiletries). Things that I don’t want to lose (clothes, computer, personal things) I then put in the carry-on.

The other trick for me is to pick things that all work well together colour-wise. This way I can extend the life of my clothes by mixing and matching so that I don’t get so sick of wearing one thing over and over (especially after a month of travel!). I also stick to materials that don’t wrinkle or, if they do, I wrap the item in tissue paper (usually I ask for some extra pieces from Anthropologie and wrap it up – wrinkles are avoided!).

  • Reply
    KerryNo Gravatar
    May 8, 2008 at 11:15 AM

    Great article Alex! I have been a fan of your sites for a long time now, and I enjoy all your helpful travel info and tips.

    If I may ask, how were you able to pack so many things in just a carry-on (including boots, etc)? Do you have a packing technique or do you choose materials that are thinner? Thanks!

  • Reply
    miriaNo Gravatar
    May 9, 2008 at 1:05 AM

    Hi, I have a question, don’t you ever wear trousers? I like very very much dresses and skirts but not on me, plus I don’t have the courage to wear them so I always end up in trousers… but I would like to change this habit…so you wardrobe is very inspiring.
    Hilsen fra Oslo

  • Reply
    Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    May 12, 2008 at 12:17 PM


    If I travel with boots, I wear those since they are hard to pack. So everything above with the exception of one pair of boots fits into the Orla Kiely. I ended up bringing a second bag just for checked luggage because I had to bring a lot of winter and computer gear so the second boots went in there. I do pack things in my boots (umbrella, cords) to maximise space. Summer travel is so much easier!

    A lot of the items above are bulky (sweaters, sweater dresses) but I just lay them as flat as possible with little folding. This really helps. I’m against those air compression bags – they wrinkle clothes and don’t really work. But this all fits so it’s just like putting a puzzle together!

  • Reply
    Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    May 12, 2008 at 12:19 PM


    I own one pair of pants that I wear if I must – and that’s not very often. I just personally don’t find pants comfortable – especially whilst travelling. And if I wear pants, then I have to think of a top to match and shoes and socks and on and on πŸ™‚ I’m lazy – a dress is one layer and easy to make look nice. And being short, pants always have to get hemmed and that’s another step I just am too lazy for.

    I know a lot of people who fear skirts/dresses the way I fear pants so I totally understand. But there isn’t anything I can’t do in a dress that one can do in pants, except maybe a handstand.

  • Reply
    DebbieNo Gravatar
    May 13, 2008 at 8:30 AM

    Hi Alex!

    I love your blog and wondered what the name of the Born boot is? I go to Europe once a year with my husband for business and would love some comfortable boots for tons of walking.

    I love the idea about dresses! I have never thought about that! Great idea especially when traveling for business with my DH and need to look good.

    Thank you PS Do you have names of other comfortable boots for walking?


  • Reply
    JodyNo Gravatar
    May 18, 2008 at 7:17 PM

    Wonderful post.
    My daughter and I went to England for 2 weeks and packed everything we needed into one carry-on each. No waiting in lines at the baggage for us.
    I love your traveling wardrobe too.


  • Reply
    sarahNo Gravatar
    May 27, 2008 at 2:38 AM

    I love your style. This may be a ridiculous question, but how do you end up with the perfect little photos of all of your pieces? When I buy things at the Anthro store, I usually don’t see them on the website…

  • Reply
    Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    May 27, 2008 at 9:20 AM

    Hi Sarah,

    Before Anthro did their redesign (about 6 months ago), they used to have the .jpg images on their site that were easily downloadable. Those are the images I have. Now I use an image capture program to get them but it’s true, not all things they sell in the store are online but I try to get as many as possible (and the description) should I ever sell it on eBay.

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