• 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."


Decor Ideas Green Living

Buying things the Hygge Way

November 26, 2006
Buying Things The Hygge Way. Image By rebelsaurus-katie-harp

All the furniture I own is really solid, high quality, and expensive pieces. However, I’ve never paid full price for any piece of furniture, ever. I’m a frugal girl who wants the best but lives within a budget so here’s my tricks for getting only the furniture I love, want and works.

The Rules:
1. If I can’t afford to buy it, I wait. I never “make do” with furniture. Why spend money on something you’re not in-love with? Put that money towards what you do love and you’ll find that soon enough, you’ll have what you want without wasting money on what you don’t

2. Make friends with sales people. I know which stores work for me in terms of style and construction. I make friends with the sales people who often offer me employee discounts or friends and family discounts. Also, they’ll let me know when a particular piece goes on sale or when a floor model becomes available.

3. Know what you want, when it came in, and how long it’s been there. This is especially great for stores like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Williams Sonoma or any other chain. If I fall in-love with a piece of furniture (as I did with my TV console table), I make note of when it arrived. Certain pieces are “staples” and very seldom go on-sale. But some are seasonal styles so I just keep checking in every couple of weeks to see when they’re getting rid of the styles. I noticed that the TV consoles they had on display were becoming fewer and fewer. So I kept asking how many they had in stock until one day they had just the display model. I said I’d buy it but I noticed a few knicks (on the back). So I talked them down from their sale price another 30%. Original price: $699. My price? $225 including tax.

4. Outlets. Now, be very, very careful about outlets. A lot of stores make products just for outlets and these are usually of lesser quality. Or you get damaged goods or rejects here. However, you sometimes just get last seasons goods. For me, I scour websites of products I like so I know what the original value is worth and when it’s going on sale or not. I bought two beautiful solid benches that were $500 a piece for $125 a piece along with a little setee and storage bench for linens.

5. Floor models. Recently, I found the largest desk imaginable of solid wood and fell in-love because it would doubled as a kitchen table and look fabulous with my benches. The problem? The desk was $1600. However, there was a floor model they said was scratched and had it on sale for $599. I made comments about the size and something else and got another 10% off. Perfect! I also bought my fridge as a floor model – perfect condition but I saved 15%!

6. Cash! I’ve paid cash on a lot of big ticket items such as my couch. I adore my couch; it’s custom maid with down filled pillows in a matalasie cover. It’s also enormous! The store was having a no-tax day event but I offered to pay cash for a 5% discount. I saved close to $700 and it’s been one of the best investments I’ve made.

7. Specials. Usually specials aren’t specials so be cautious. But I recently bought a set of All-Clad cookware which, buying as a set, saved $150. But they offered three bonus products; a grill pan (worth $125), grill cookware (worth $100) and a grill book.

I’ve used all these tactics from bedding to kitchen goods to bedding. I get the very best without the pricetag and I never settle for second best. I’d rather go without than have something I don’t love cluttering up my home. Why waste money? Besides, a home is not about decor but about reflecting you. So be selective about what you put into your home and by using the rules above, you really can have what you love and not a second rate version of what someone else does.

  • Reply
    MagnumVoxNo Gravatar
    November 11, 2006 at 4:16 AM

    WOW! Great advice for even this ol’ West Texan Bengali to know!!
    Think I’ll apply these approaches the next time I want to buy a guitar. :o)

  • Reply
    michele braggerNo Gravatar
    May 31, 2007 at 7:05 PM

    i love all your blogs but especially this one. i have been revisiting to savor your words and pictures, bit by bit as time permits. this post struck a chord, especially. i have been coveting the duvet on the cover of the March 2007 issue of Domino, an ikat fabric costing $400.00 a yard! (minimum 5 yard purchase! i thought this must be a typo but i confirmed it researching it online “Martine Weinrib Ikat ‘Blu’ fabric at ABC carpet and home.” $2,000.00 for a duvet…no sign of a clearance/sale in sight! any strategy suggestions?

  • Reply
    AnnaNo Gravatar
    September 13, 2017 at 1:27 PM

    I would love to know who made your couch! I love the size and slip cover style, the one cushion seat! Ticks all my boxes. Thanks for the hygge shopping tips!

    • alex at hygge houseNo Gravatar
      September 13, 2017 at 3:30 PM

      Hi Anna,

      I got it from I think it’s the Simple Sofa or the Soho one in 96″ in white denim. The only difference is I had them make one long bottom cushion instead of two.

      I also bough the large squishy ottoman from them as well and had it customized so that the height matched the sofa so I could have a t-shape sofa when needed.

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