I once wrote a post “For the Love of Guests” in which I shared some ideas of what I do when people stay. Giving people a wonderful experience is important because I understand how travelling can be stressful and tiring and expensive. So anything I can do to lesson that, great.
But I never really talked about being a guest because I don’t have great experience at this; I generally feel intrusive, a burden, and slightly uneasy no matter with whom I’m staying with. That’s why I almost always stay in hotels when visiting because I just don’t want to put anyone out and frankly, I like my privacy and quiet after a busy day out.
However, the past couple of months I’ve stayed with a couple of friends and currently, I’m staying with my BFF. Before I came I asked her to lay some ground rules (what she likes, doesn’t like, where things go, etc.) and then I gave her full-on permission to tell me to leave, pick up or move something or leave her alone. Her friendship is more important than a free night’s sleep so being honest about how we are and what we need set us up for visiting success!
The flowers above are from her; she went to the flower market, arranged them, picked the fern from her front yard and voila. She cooked a feast and had a dinner party last night and today, showed me her secret beauty room in which I sat and put on some make up. She, like me, loves to make things special and she, like me, loves to have guests. And that’s when I realised that if people agree to have me, it’s because they want me and that staying with people can actually bring you closer and can be a lot more fun (who wants privacy when there is 2AM Girltalk to be had?). So with that, I thought about how to be a great guest:
Beets have always played a huge part in Denmark; it’s one of two major crops (the other is potatoes) and it’s also harvested for sugar (there’s even a museum dedicated to it). There’s a 99% chance that if you are invited to lunch, nedlagte rødbeder or pickled beets, will be on the table for your smørrebrød (open faced sandwich).
This has always terrified me. Actually, most Danish food has terrified me (Liver Paste/Leverpostej?) ! And so despite having sat at countless tables with beets upon them, I just couldn’t ever bring myself to eat them. No matter how much “oohing” and “ahhing” my mum made over their taste.
However, recently my doctor suggested to me that I should juice some carrots, celery and yes, beets together to help with some health concerns. I’d heard of this tonic before (it’s been suggested as a great hangover drink) and how it helps the liver function. I’ve been an avid juicer but only with things green. I wasn’t sure I could add beets.
But I did.
Into my juicer went one large beet, three carrots, one lemon, half a stack of celery, a bit of ginger and a cucumber for good measure. I wasn’t sure I could drink it but in the name of health I did. And then I did some more. And some more. I couldn’t believe how sweet it was – I had fallen in love with… beets!
I don’t know if I’m into pickling or roasting yet (one step at a time) but juicing them has been tasty and easy. I’m not sure about all the health benefits yet but thankfully I’m now loving beets for their taste instead of doing it out of healing obligation.
My mum will be so proud.
Other beet ideas:
I’m a visual girl; it’s one of the reasons I’ve worked in film and do photography. A picture really does say 1000 words. There’s been more times than I can count when I’ve fallen in-love with an image and have wanted nothing more to post it here, just for you to look at too. But I don’t because the image was copyrighted.
While most people’s intentions at taking images are good (they fall in-love with something and want to share it or illustrate a point), that doesn’t make it right. All images and content on this site and on my others are copyright which means unless you’ve received permission you can’t use the images. That’s not because I don’t believe in sharing, but because I have to protect the work I do. I’ve had a lot of issues in the 13+ years I’ve had web pages with content stealing/sharing from identity theft to my images being claimed and sold by other people.
The other issue arises when people take images and innocently host them on other serviced hosting sites such as Blogger or Typepad. The problem with this format is lack of credit back to the original image owner – even if you put in a text link below the image. The image itself will look like a blogger/typepad/hosted filename and in some cases, the terms and service of a host provider claims ownership of anything hosted! Which means an image of mine taken by you and uploaded to your server can become a legal battle of who owns what.
This is why 99% of the time I use only my own images on this site. If I want to illustrate something I will ask permission to use an image and if I don’t receive permission or am just to lazy to ask I just link to it. This is really important to do because it shows respect, kindness and real support to other artists. It’s also important because as someone who profits from photography via personal collections, licensing and magazine work, I can’t have an image I’ve copyrighted and profited from being used for free on other sites or worse, being used to promote things that have nothing to do with me.
There are some sites where people don’t mind their images being freely used and some Flickr pages allow you to easily blog others’ photos. The great thing about blogging a Flickr Photo is that Flickr automatically links back to the original owner and you can clearly see the owners copyright information/permissions. If you see an image on a blog that you’re really wanting to use, just take a moment to search the site for copyright info or just ask. Sometimes even an old image-clenching stiff like me will allow images to be used (and provide better resolution images!).
But when in doubt, please leave it out.
The shoes on the left were mine when I was about 5 and 6. I wore them everywhere with everything. The pair on the right I picked out on my 10th birthday and I was so excited despite the fact I had a cast on my ankle and had to wait a few months to wear them both (it was worth the wait). These to me are just so Danish – the colour, the style, and the fact that they’re made for every sized person to wear (and to wear with every kind of clothing).
I’ve remained a huge clog fan and still have a few different pairs. My current favourite pair come from El Naturalista (you can see my review on Pet the Pretty Things). My mum loved them so much I bought her a pair as well. These are her go to’s for the 8 hours a day she spends on her feet at a winery.
I’m also loving Born’s new more fashionable looking Anita Clog. Born shoes are my go-to shoes (I’ve three pairs of boots, flip flops and dress shoes that are so comfortable and always compliment inducing). And I like these when I want the feel and support of a clog but perhaps just a little more dressed and a little less traditional.
And when the shoe no longer fits, they make great decor. These have been a staple in my mums entrance way for years no matter where she lives or what her entrance looks like. That, too, is Danish.
(The little thing in the back of the right shoes is a mouse door stop I gave her. It’s from Anthropologie)
Read more if you want to see me as a 5 year old in my clogs.
While I do travel a lot, it’s always for work or an event. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had an actual vacation. A time when there was nothing to do, no one to see, and it lasted more than an hour. But for someone who loves her work and is self-employed, time off is a rarity (that’s not something one thinks about when they’re in cubicle hell. I had more time off in a full-time job than I ever have on my own).
Two other self-employed women, Emira of Be the Boss of You and Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching, have each just written about the need for time off. And I’ve echoed their words for years but haven’t been able to live it. Each time a trip was planned, I’d ring someone up or I’d turn it into a business trip.
With all the stress of this year, I was in need of some serious R&R and realised instead of preaching the value of time off, I should take my own advice and take one.
Most Danes have a getaway home though they’re almost never fancy. Even in the city of Copenhagen, you will find a colony of little hyttes, basic cabins often with no running water or electricity but a bit of garden space, just so city dwellers have a place to escape to. Most cabins are in the country, near water. I have cousins who have them and they’re very nice modest places that they go to every year. The Danes do know how to relax.
Since I had been in so many hotels this year alone, I didn’t want to take a city escape to yet another fabulous place with room service and people. I wanted something simple, something private, something in nature, something affordable and someplace where I could just be - something like a hytte but with electricity since I needed to cook. I also wanted to be able to take my dog, Jack, and not have to worry. And so began my search for a cabin.
While I didn’t exactly find a cabin, I did find an amazing house in Ukiah in Northern California – the Haiku House. It’s run by Sheep Dung Properties which is a lot nicer than it sounds! The owners created several homes for people who want to get away from it all with their pets. Exactly what I needed.
Since immigrating to America in 1999 I’ve lived in 8 cities and 4 states and travelled across it three times. I feel I can safely say that for me, my happy place (and the only place) is Santa Monica, California. A pretty little city on the Pacific Ocean right next to all of Los Angeles’ crazy antics.
There are lots of reasons why I love living here; a sense of community, it’s eco-awareness, great bus service, the amazing twice weekly farmers market, walking distance to everything, bike lanes and it’s just simply beautiful. In a recent poll of residents, there was a 97% satisfaction rate.
Living here I have a constant flow of visitors who want to escape cold weather or need a little glam or want to see what I love. So here’s a list of my favourite places and things to do locally:
- I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in Santa Monica. The Embassy Hotel Apartments has the best location for the money. It’s more of a basic, European 3 star hotel but the prices are the best and the rooms are clean, nicely decorated and perfect for living local. For something more uscale the wonderful Ambrose Hotel is perfect – in walking distance to Whole Foods, a block to Wilshire, about a 30min walk to the promenade and the hotel is 100% eco-friendly with amazing beds, decor and breakfast from Urth (more to come on that). Staying at Casa del Mar amongst the celeb’s will have you feeling glam, especially if your room overlooks the ocean. The Viceroy (where you can rent Jorg & Olif bikes!), Huntley Hotel (people love the top floor restaurant, I like the bedding), Hotel Oceana are also all great bets. I’ve had two different rooms at the Fairmont Santa Monica (one in the old part, one in the tower) and it’s a nice hotel but for the money, I’d stay in one of the others above.
- Montana Avenue. Everyone will tell you to go here and there’s a reason; it has great botiques, relatively quiet, very pretty and has everything you can need from food to stores. My favourite stores include Shabby Chic, Planet Blue, Le Partie, Footsie, Michael Stars, The Wagging Tail, and Home Inc.. But take your time wandering up and down and if you get hungry, don’t worry there are a lot of great places to eat from inexpensive (Marmalade Cafe & Market) to fancy (Cafe Montana).