• 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 donโ€™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 itโ€™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 ๐Ÿ˜€
  • 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. ๐Ÿ˜€
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. ๐Ÿ˜€
  • The @ojaivalleyinn is one of my favourite places either for a day trip or an overnight. โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €
I always go when I need supreme rest and healing because I really really get that here. โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €
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. โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €
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). โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € 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). โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € I  paid for my room ๐Ÿ˜€ 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."


French Life Wanderlust


February 1, 2008

I’ll be heading to Paris shortly, a city I have mixed feelings about. I understand the greatness, the beauty, the history but I’m not exactly all that fond of it (although one of my favourite hotels ever, The Four Seasons Hotel George V, is there)and actually try to pass it over each time I return to France. But this time, I will find myself there for several days and will try to see it in a different light.

Yes, I think perhaps I might have been a little harsh on Paris in my previous post; it’s not that I really dislike Paris it’s just that there are so many other places I’d rather go because my interests are a little different than what most go to Paris for. But I will play local for a few days and so I have been trying to discover things to do that haven’t been done before.

Here’s a list of things I’ve come up with thus far (and welcome any suggestions):

Velib Bike Hire: Very excited about this as I do adore riding and this is a handy and inexpensive way to get around town. it’s self catering so you can just pick up the bike in one area of town and drop it off at another.

Paris Greeters: Free walking tours provided by locals: you state your interests and some criteria and are matched up with a local who will take you around. This is such a great idea because travelling alone can often be isolating and I really do love meeting people because that’s a huge part of travel for me.

Paris Walks: I’m interested in the Chocolate and The Marais Circuit.

Musรฉe Jacquemart-Andrรฉ: I do have a weakness for beautiful homes and tea.

Versailles: I’ve actually never been but have been wanting to go for some time. There are many tours that go out but it’s easy to get there on your own via train and might make a good day trip for me.

Mont-St-Michel: So not in Paris at all but I’ve always wanted to go and am trying to find a good tour to take me out there as taking the train doesn’t seem such a good way to go at this time of year.

The Louvre: I feel slightly embarrassed to admit that in all my trips to Paris I have never gone inside. This time I think I just might.

Chantal Thomass Boutique: Sophia wrote this up in Girls Guide to City Life and it just sounds like my kind of shop.

Fauchon: When I saw a photo of this place via Seattle Bon Vivant (who loves Paris so much!) I instantly put it on my to do.

  • Reply
    athenaNo Gravatar
    February 6, 2008 at 4:50 PM

    alex, i have been on the notre dame and montmartre paris walks a few years ago, and they were really great! i highly recommend them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    LindaNo Gravatar
    February 6, 2008 at 5:22 PM

    Have you heard about the Segway Tours? They really are fun. You can rent them at Mike’s Fat Bike Tours. They also do bike ride out to Versailles. I’d give you a walking tour if I were going to be here. I once did an article on cool hotels to stay at in Paris. Let me know if you would like my list.

  • Reply
    Tracy D.No Gravatar
    February 6, 2008 at 5:39 PM

    Your ideas sound very good! I’m a fan of the Jacquemart-Andre as well.

    You might consider walking around Luxembourg gardens with a stop for tea or hot chocolate (ancien style) at Bread and Roses bakery. Also, you’ve probably already hit the Amelie film locations in Monmartre but that’s fun for those who haven’t. I always try and fit in a Seine cruise at night and a below ground jazz club. Have fun on your trip!

  • Reply
    sofia baraoNo Gravatar
    February 7, 2008 at 9:26 AM

    Alex, have a look at this hotel in montmartre, I haven’t been there but it looks great

  • Reply
    ClaireNo Gravatar
    February 8, 2008 at 7:04 PM

    Go to a book reading at one of the anglo bookstores: The Red Wheelbarrow and Shakespeare are two – it’s a really good way to meet interesting people. Hang on I have a list…

  • Reply
    ClaireNo Gravatar
    February 8, 2008 at 7:08 PM

    and of course Village Voice. See what’s on here:

  • Reply
    LesleyNo Gravatar
    February 11, 2008 at 6:20 PM

    My favorite things in Paris were Sacre Coeur, the catacomb tours (if you’re into the macabre), and the Louvre.

  • Reply
    ellenNo Gravatar
    February 19, 2008 at 8:53 AM

    I’m wondering: How do you afford your travels? Any secrets to share?

  • Reply
    Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    May 12, 2008 at 1:30 PM

    Thank you everyone for your tips! I tried a lot of them out and was especially fond of Hotel Particulier which I’ll have to dish about. Just so beautiful!

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