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  • 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: http://bit.ly/mountainroad).
  • 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 😀
 #hyggehouse
  • 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

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Wanderlust

My favourite suitcase & travel gear

October 24, 2016

I’ve written before on what I’ve packed for winter and summer travels to Europe but the focus was more on what I wore. And although I have a Pinterest Board dedicated to my favourite gear, I realised I hadn’t ever written a post about it. So after 2 years of heavy testing of my suitcase and travel gear, I felt the time was right to share what really works.

I consider myself a frequent traveller, whether it’s constant road trips or international flights. I have elite status on most airlines thanks to work and wanderlust and more miles on my young car than I care to admit. So I have really high standards for suitcases and gear: it has to look good, it has to be really functional, and it has to be very durable.

Suitcases & Bags

For the longest time, I used my very much loved Victorinox suitcase because it was such a great, overall workhorse, It could expand, it was sturdy, it came with a suitor that was really important for some work wear. But as carry on luggage restrictions got tighter – especially international – this one no longer served me. I need a carryon that would work international, could work for up to a week, was light weight and would be very easy to move around an airport if I had to either run to a terminal or if I had a few hours to kill walking around one. I gave my Orla Kiely carry on a go and then started checking my Victorinox. The good news? The Victorinox was great at checked luggage – really durable. The bad news? My Orla Kiely once had to get checked and came out scrapped. And as a carry on the amount you could fit was limited and things got squished. So I retired the Orla to home decor/storage and sought out a long search for a new carry on.

My Victorinox & Orla Kiely bag in action

After a lot of research, I took the (expensive) plunge and bought the Rimowa Salsa Air – Ultralight Cabin Multiwheel. This is one of my all time best purchases ever. The shear lightness alone has me swooning. I love that it opens in the middle and you can put things on either side and each side has its own mesh zip cover. The handle can be adjusted into different heights and the wheels are the smoothest and easiest to use (even pushing it down a tight plane aisle). I’ve rested bags on top with ease. It’s just a very smart, light, easy to use piece that the price tag for me ended up becoming a bargain with all I’ve put it through. I’ve taken it on two week vacations and been great with all it can hold.

My newest bag is the Lo and Sons The Catalina Deluxe Small. I bought their original Catalina bag and honestly, wasn’t a fan. There was a lot of hype that I feel it didn’t live up to and just never loved using it. It was too big to work as a carry on, there was only one internal non zipable pocket, it didn’t easily sit on my suitcase whilst rolling it, and was just too big and bulky. But this new version looks like they’ve earned from mistakes.

My favourite part? There’s now a back sleeve that you can slip your luggage handle through, so this bag can sit securely on top of your suitcase. It still has the seperate, zippable compartment which is great for shoes or heavier things like books. There’s an additional outer zippered pocket and inside there’s a lot more zippered pockets. I treat this like my purse for a flight; so my liquids bag, my lap top, camera, makeup case, wrap, phone, wallet, pak essentials (see below), and snacks all go in. Plus this size, for me, seems perfect in extended what I can take on a flight (or I can extend what I buy and bring home!). It’s very roomy – see in their video below all the things you can fit:

Video by Lo & Sons. Disclosure: I bought this bag – this is not not a sponsored recommendation. I just thought the video was cool + showed the features best.

For carry on liquids, I love Flight 001’s Aeronaut Carry On Clear Quart Bag. It fits all regulations so I can keep all my carry on liquids it it and get it through all securities. I just keep it in my travel bag for easy in and out access. For travel, I always use travel sizes or decant originals into GoToobs tubes.

If you’ve ever flown business class on British Airways or a similar airline, you know they have a drawer/bin in which you can put your things like earplugs, phone, books etc. I won’t admit how many times I’ve forgotten something in that bin so I finally got smart and bought Flight 001’s Seat Pak. It’ll fit in one of the drawers/bins but it can also be hooked onto the back of a seat in coach. Why this bag is so genius is because it holds and organizes a lot – from your ticket and passport to eyeshades, lip balm, ear plugs and your phone and charger. I keep this in my carryon bag/purse and when I board I just take it out, slip it into the drawer, and I’ve got everything with me that I need for the flight. More importantly, I’ve got everything I need when I leave the flight!

I’m a huge fan of Bag-all Women’s Weekend Getaway Bag Sets and other bags. I use them for my blow dryer, lingerie and dirty close. They’re fun, they’re useful, they keep me organized and don’t take up a lot of room. I’ve bought some to cover my clutches if they don’t come with bags. I also use a lot of Toms Shoes bags as shoe covers (since I buy a lot of the same Toms over and over I have a lot of their bags). For keeping my electronics together like computer and phone chords, camera chords, chargers, etc. I use different clear bags. The ones I use all came as “gifts with purchase” from cosmetic company events so I’m not too finicky here. My main thing is to be able to see them in case security wants to question what’s in the bag – they can see really quickly and easily without having to dump everything out.

Electronics & General Gear

I’ve had my Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones for a couple of years – the in-ear ones and I love them. I love them even if I’m not listening to music because it helps block sound out so well. As someone with little ears, these don’t hurt mine and I’ve worn them comfortably on a 10hour flight. They’re easy to pack with their own case and I slip them into my Flight 001 pak.

Eyeshade is critical especially on overnight flights. Almost any will do but this one is my favourite because they really do help block out light plus they don’t move around. But I like the Fluert ones for the cheekiness of them.

My favourite, favourite adapter is the MOCREO Travel Charger Wall Charger Adapter Plug Built-in with Dual USB Ports. I swear I’ve tried every single one and this one has done me right. I went on one trip from Dublin to London to Denmark to Singapore all in one go and all I had to do was take this one adaptor. It’s small, light and super easy – it also charges my phone with its USB adapters which means one less plug to carry. It’s not a convertor so keep that in mind. My Apple Air works fine on it as does my curling iron. But check out gadgets first to make sure you don’t need a converter.

Your Favourites?

What else am I missing? What are your favourites – make up bags, camera bags, essentials for long haul flights? Let me know!

 

  • Reply
    HeatherNo Gravatar
    October 24, 2016 at 9:17 PM

    Looking for your favorite eyeshade update… “Almost any will do but X is my favourite because”…

  • Reply
    Nicole BrantNo Gravatar
    October 24, 2016 at 9:50 PM

    I always overpack whenever I travel, and I’m a very poor folder (wrinkles!). That carry on won’t solve those problems but it sure looks terrific!

  • Reply
    JessicaNo Gravatar
    January 8, 2017 at 7:10 PM

    After reading your post I just bought the Lo & Sons Cataline Deluxe Small bag – I hope it arrives in time for my next trip! I can’t wait to use it!!! Thanks so much for your helpful tips. 🙂

    • alex at hygge houseNo Gravatar
      January 9, 2017 at 2:15 AM

      Let us know how you like it! It’s worked out really well for me. Huge fan of the bottom zip compartment 🙂

  • Reply
    DejaNo Gravatar
    January 9, 2017 at 8:17 PM

    Fabulous post! I noticed that your particular Rimowa can’t be found among the colors in their current ‘Salsa Air’ line. May you share the colorway? It’s gorgeous.

  • Reply
    SunnyNo Gravatar
    June 18, 2017 at 10:32 AM

    Awesome, Alex! Just ordered the clear quart sized TSA approved plastic zip bag and followed suggestions to four colorful IKEA TSA approved liquid bottles thanks to this post. They are all expected to arrive six days before I travel to my aunt’s 92nd birthday party. Thanks for the tips! And I love your blog. I wrote about it in my blog this week: https://shielagh.blog/2017/06/17/your-weekly-diversion-week-22. I hope you’ll visit. I tagged your blog here as well.

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