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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 😀
 #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. 😀
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. 😀
  • The @ojaivalleyinn is one of my favourite places either for a day trip or an overnight. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I always go when I need supreme rest and healing because I really really get that here. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 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). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I  paid for my room 😀 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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French Life

French Inspiration

March 30, 2007
Chenonceau Castle, Loire Valley, France

Although I’m only half-French, France is the only place I feel whole; I adore it, I understand it, I feel it. I go as often as I can with plans to move permanently in about 7 years so that I can have a view like this. But for now it’s just yearly trips which always seem to take place in the winter, which perhaps not the prettiest, is the most intimate.

The Loire Valley holds my heart the closest I think. The first time I was there I felt instantly at home; I knew the back roads, I knew the buildings, I knew the people. I can’t explain how, it’s just one of those things, you know?

It was a very cold, dark, and windy day when I decided to forge out to Chenonceau (pictured above). I had never seen a picture of it, nor had I heard anyone ever talk about yet I knew the name and knew to go back. And on the day I went there was not another soul on site except for a handful of people working there.

I literally had the place to myself.

Of all the things I saw that day, the moment that was the most powerful for me was also the most quiet. I was on the 3rd floor in the hallway, standing still. All I could hear was the wind blowing through the windows and a slight banging of doors coming from some other corridor. Everything else was silent. Having this moment to myself gave me an experience that perhaps most visitors here don’t have. People rushing to see this room and that room. No one stops to hear the wind blow in the same way those who lived here before would have heard it. They don’t take in what a place like this means, they just take photographs.

One of the things I love most about the Loire in the Winter, and Provence for that matter, too, is how quiet it all is. There’s a sense of just a little sadness in the air; nature is dead for the season, it’s cold (the mistral winds in the south!), life seems a little harder but at the same time, there is a joy in the routine of the season. A beauty to. It’s in having the time to notice the wind, or in the case or Provence, the smell of the air. To see how cosy it is in restaurants from 12-2 because you just stop to eat and get warm with stew. In the winter, people have time to talk to you because they’ve claimed their home from the touriste. It’s in the conversation with a cheesemaker or winemaker and getting a little more of his secrets because you’ve had some time to develop a friendship – your a person instead of a passing face. There are so many beautiful, hopeful moments to just take it all in, to be. It’s why France has my heart in winter. And why I can’t wait to go back.

However, until I can here are some things that are tying me over:

Movies:

Websites:

Also a list of my favourite books dealing with France, Marie Claire Idees Magazine, a list of my favourite French inspired music and NY Mag has a great bit on where to buy beautiful vintage clothes!

  • Reply
    LindaNo Gravatar
    March 31, 2007 at 6:32 AM

    I’m lucky enough to live in France. My first castle was Chambord which was open for late night tours in the summer. We carried lanterns through the halls and up the winding stairs. It was also the first time I ever heard a live cuckoo in the forest. A magical time.

  • Reply
    JenChiNo Gravatar
    March 31, 2007 at 7:11 AM

    Les Choristes is such a good movie!

    Give a listen to Autour De Lucie, my favorite favorite french band!

  • Reply
    gischerylNo Gravatar
    April 1, 2007 at 6:21 PM

    Heyyy,
    That was beautiful. What you wrote, what you described, your words, the picture.
    Ahhhh. I like this. I had always wanted to go to France!
    Am from Singapore by the way.
    Cheerios.
    Cheryl

  • Reply
    susanNo Gravatar
    April 2, 2007 at 6:47 PM

    Beautifully written. I can help you dream a little more, as I am doing a series on French kitchens on Wednesday. I hope your 7 years from now, ends up being 5 or less! I hope to go to France someday.

  • Reply
    RussNo Gravatar
    April 2, 2007 at 7:30 PM

    There’s just something about walking down narrow cobblestone roads with buildings on both sides that are four times older than the United States is.

    France is a marvelous, magical place.

    One of my favorite shows is the A&E series “A Year in Provence”

  • Reply
    MonicaNo Gravatar
    April 2, 2007 at 8:42 PM

    I love Château de ma mère and La gloire de mon pere. My two favorite French movies!

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