• 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."



Glaedelig Jul

December 24, 2007
Merry Christmas

I wish that for all of us in 2008 – to make the ordinary, extraordinary, to make our visions real, to not hold back or to get caught up in living someone else’s dream or decor vision. To take the time we need, to not worry or fret if things take a little longer or change shape. To not try to live off other’s expectations and abilities but only our own. To live hygge.

So then, have a very Hygge Holiday – however you celebrate it.


  • Reply
    SamNo Gravatar
    December 24, 2007 at 10:50 PM

    Merry Christmas and many best wishes for your new adventure!

  • Reply
    MarilynNo Gravatar
    December 25, 2007 at 3:41 AM

    Oh, Alex, you’re in Carmel?! I can’t imagine you won’t enjoy it. It’s one of my favorite places. Used to spend a lot of time there…gosh…about 25 years ago. Still love to go there. Merry Christmas! Enjoy your new settings…and the time with your Mom.

  • Reply
    LindaNo Gravatar
    December 25, 2007 at 4:35 PM

    We were just in the Carmel area for six weeks and it was fabulous. I think it is the most beautiful place in the world. I hope your Christmas there is fabulous. My best friend does hair there-email me if you want the best haircut ever.

  • Reply
    KatherineNo Gravatar
    December 26, 2007 at 3:57 AM

    Wow, you work quickly!! It already looks cozy and warm~Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    jenNo Gravatar
    December 26, 2007 at 3:28 PM

    Warm wishes for you and your new home.
    This has been a season of realizing that the ordinary is so amazing when you take the time to treasure it, let go of what you think something should be, and actively take part in it. Thank you for the reminder.
    I hope that you have a wonderful time in your hygge house.

  • Reply
    LiselotteNo Gravatar
    December 27, 2007 at 11:31 AM

    GlΓ¦delig Jul πŸ™‚

    Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – best wishes for the future from Denmark πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    LisaNo Gravatar
    December 27, 2007 at 10:46 PM

    Perfectly lovely. I admire your bravery. Change can be frightening, but I find it is almost always positive. Happy New Year…

  • Reply
    ayse.liuNo Gravatar
    January 1, 2008 at 4:52 AM

    …thanks for your beautiful mind…..inspiring……

  • Reply
    Leslie Van EveryNo Gravatar
    January 3, 2008 at 1:04 AM

    What a wonderful blog you have. Very inspiring and your writing is so lovely.

    Carmel by the Sea is perfect. I can’t imagine you picking a better spot. It will be very cozy and foggy and perfect for helping plump up your creativity.

    And why of course you and Miss Posy would be friends.

  • Reply
    Ellen Crimi-TrentNo Gravatar
    January 18, 2008 at 3:41 PM

    well said, I feel the same way. I have a brother out in Santa Monica and I have to get out there this year, maybe I will check out that market, it sounds great!


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