• 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."



My Favourite Hotels

January 5, 2007


With so much talk about travel this week I thought I’d share my favourite places that I’ve stayed. Some of my favourite chains include the Kimpton Hotels and Four Seasons (both of which are very dog friendly and have great loyalty programs).

Chateau du Sureau: Perhaps one of my favourites, this privately created and run chateau sits in an unassuming town just outside of Yosemite National Park in California. Upon arrival you are greeted by a personal butler and have run of the chateau and grounds (with just a handful of other guests). The personal service is unparalleled, the food absolutely amazing and the rooms? Hand picked antiques from around the world by the very hospitable proprietress (whose rags to riches story is quite remarkable). The spa is the place to be pampered but the pool is more economical. Barbara Streisand rented the place out for her honeymoon. And just a side note, I have a severe food allergy and, after accidentally getting sick on several things a few days before, was really scared to eat anything from the small town. I found a “Gluten Free” frozen entree that I bought and brought back to the Chateau. I timidly asked them if they’d heat it up. Not only did they “Of course!” but they set the closed dining room up {with silk linens, fine china and silver} just for me and my frozen $2 dinner.

Four Seasons Henri V Paris: I wrote about my experience a few months back and it was that experience that has made this hotel one of my favourites and the one I return to time and time again when in Paris. There were fresh tulips in the room and desserts laid out upon my arrival. I had room service breakfast (since I had to leave at 6AM) and it arrived on silk linens and fine china. And the bathroom? Oh what a bath experience I had thanks to a “Bath Butler!”

Tiffany’s: A Sweet Hotel – Copenhagen: Copenhagen is expensive so I was surprised to discover an affordable hotel that seemed to have quite a few amenities and be well located. I was even more surprised to discover that it really is a sweet hotel! The room I had was rather large, had a fridge and had breakfast delivered to it daily. It was quiet, very clean and had the most helpful staff. And yes, it was perfectly located for walking all over Copenhagen!

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel: I’ve stayed here on several occasions but my favourite room is the one that faces the golf course, has a fireplace and a rounded ceiling (I think it ends in 84 or 74). The spa is the best that I’ve ever been to and is actually affordable if you do just a day pass. There’s an old world glamour feeling to this hotel and it’s in easy walking distance to most things in the town.

Westin Grand Vancouver – Do you want to know what it feels like to live in Vancouver? Then stay here but try staying on one of the top two floors where you get private service, unlimited local phone, internet and food service. I loved the golden room with the simple pine furniture. It was laid out like a new condo downtown and had 180 views of the city (with floor to ceiling windows!) A small fridge, a living room, a desk area, large marble bath and a separate bedroom made it feel like I was coming home each night of my 5 night stay here. And when a rainstorm hit I had the best view. Also perfectly located for walking about the city.

Wedgewood Hotel, Vancouver: I had a suite which held the coziest couch I’ve ever been on, the most indulgent bed and the best bathtub ever. And one of the biggest balconies for that matter. You can tell that this is owned and run by a woman because the details are amazing at every turn. The Bacchus Restaurant is one of my favourite places for either brunch or afternoon tea. Read my full review on my travel site.

Ritz Carlton San Francisco – I usually stay Club Level with the Ritz properties and while they’re always nice, they weren’t as nice as this. This hotel just screams old world glamour from the location on top of the hill to their gorgeous suites complete with rose petal baths. What was a mystery to me, however, was how everyone seemed to know my name. Whenever I walked in or out of the hotel the doorman would greet me by name – even if I’d never seen him before! That’s either creepy or very impressive!

Willows Lodge Hotel Seattle WA: Everyone knows it rains – a lot – in Seattle. It’s cold, dark and grey. However, this hotel makes you want it to be like that because the inside is made for cosying up, relaxing, and listening to the rainfall. With fireplaces in every room, large sinker tubs, amazing stereo systems low lighting, balcony and Northwest colour scheme, this hotel is perfect for a getaway. The spa? Amazing. The restaurant? Even better (they have their own herb farm on hand!)

le Pigeonnier in Isle sur la Sorgue Provence: So incredibly charming (and well located) is this place that when I go back to Provence, this is where I go. The gite is impeccably kept, extremely comfortable and very private. It’s like having your own little apartment in Provence. But what is better is the breakfast that Corinne brings to you each morning; so many croissants, muffins and yoghurt. And the owners are very hospitable which makes this stay not only a good value, but a good experience.

To stay up to date on all my favourite places to stay, follow my Pintrest Board:

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