• 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 😀
  • 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


Green Living

Eco-Friendly Cleaning

May 16, 2008
Eco-Friendly Cleaning

Q: Can “lazy environmentalism” really make a difference?
A: Yes! Most people – myself included – will only take actions that plug into their lifestyles. I care about water and energy conservation, for example, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to take shorter showers. Now, if someone comes up with a gadget that lets me use less energy or water without changing my behavior, I’ll buy it. That’s lazy environmentalism: finding solutions that are grounded in the reality of how we live.” 

– Josh Dorfman, The Lazy Environmentalist.

Green talk is all over the place and knowing where to start can be overwhelming and expensive. Not all of us can put on solar panels or buy beautiful clothing made out of eco-friendly material. I do my best to really be green mostly for my health – the cost of health care in America is insane so anything I can do to prevent it, organically, is cheaper than a trip to the doctor or long term care. But I also do it because of the environment.

Where should a person start? I really believe it’s with your home – get your place clean the green way. Then I’d go organic with food (I highly encourage you to buy organic milk, dairy, and meat products. antibiotic’s and hormones affect our health significantly). But just greening the air you breathe and the clothes you clean can make a huge difference and it won’t break the bank.

One of the things that got me to switch so many years ago was when I bought some organic food and put it on the counter I had just cleaned with a spray that had 1.5 million chemicals in it. So despite having organic fruit, it was now sitting on gunk. I have always had sensitive skin and laundry was a nightmare until I switched.

The great news is that you can find organic cleaning products everywhere – even Target! And they’re not more expensive than the general especially when you take into consideration what the chemical products can do to your health and environment long term.

With that, here are my favourite cleaning green products:

  • Bon Ami: I use this on counter tops, my kitchen skin, bathtub and on all my stainless steel pots and pans. It’s usually around $1 and cleans everything without being abrasive. Safe for septics. And they’re celebrating their 120th anniversary!
  • biokleen Automatic Dish Powder: Most green dishwasher cleaners don’t work but this one does.
  • Bac-out: I have used this on delicate silk shirts and on carpet stains. It really does get out everything from ink, to chocolate to pet stains. I am never without it
  • EO Handsoap: I love this brand because the smells are amazing (I love, love, the lavender) and also because you can buy a 32oz refill container for your smaller pumps. EO’s lavender bath gel is also my go-to for my bath.
  • ChemFree Toilet Cleaners: Put one in your toilet for a couple of months and have a chemical-free way of keeping your bowl clean.
  • Seventh Generation Natural Liquid Laundry 2X Concentrates: I used to not be able to use fragrance products but this is so gentle. I love it especially on bedding.
  • Ecco Mist Lavender Room Mist: Generally not a fan of mists or room sprays because the scents are always off, it takes a lot of chemicals to get it to spray and most scents don’t actually work. But I love this one and keep it handy. It’s non-aerosol and the aluminum cans can be recycles.
  • Earth Friendly Products Oxo-Brite: (for getting dingy clothes white)
  • Method Lavender & Juniper Infused Dryer Softners: I generally prefer to just use dryer balls but these are a great addition for those who like to use a dryer sheet. They have naked ones too for those who are extra sensitive.
  • Method Hardwood Floor Cleaner: I like using this on my floors although I confess to not being that keen on the scent. But it does a great job.
  • Caldrea Lavender Pine Dish Soap Liquid: The scent in this makes me swoon and it gets out grease like nobodies business.
  • Wave Jet Rinse Aid: helps your dishwasher get gunk out of dishes.
  • Ecos Delicate Wash: I hand wash a lot of things and always use this.
  • Dyson DC14 The Animal Vacuum: Did you know that the average person replaces their vacuum every 7 years? I had bought inexpensive vacuums forever that always failed. This hasn’t let me down. In fact, it has saved me from having pet hair all over and keeping allergies at bay. It really, really works and the 25 year warranty? Take it!

More articles on this topic from me:

Other Great Articles

  • Reply
    MonikaNo Gravatar
    May 22, 2008 at 8:39 PM

    Caldrea is nice but very expensive.

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