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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 πŸ˜€
 #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. 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.
  • 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

Packing for Europe in Winter

February 10, 2015
Packing for Paris France

My job requires that I travel a lot and, since October, have been travelling long-haul flights every month, primarily to Europe with a couple to Singapore via Hong Kong. With an increase in travel and layovers, I recently re-evaluated my travel gear and made some adjustments so that I was maximizing my packing for carry-on travel but also maximizing comfort of pushing luggage and bags through airports – especially when running to make connections.

Summer packing tends to be easier, just because the volume of clothes is less. Winter travel on long-haul flights with just carry on’s can be tricky simply because of the bulk that winter clothing has (boots, jackets) and also because long-haul flights have stricter carry-on sizes.

After years of trial and error, I feel like I’ve got winter travel down right. I’m very happy with my luggage upgrades and packing necessities. Here are my some of my tips on packing for winter travel.

Bags and Suitcases

The best investment I made last year was my Rimowa Salsa Air carry on. You will not believe how weightless this is – huge when spending lots of time in airports or filling it to the brim. It maneuvers so effortlessly as well – I literally had to run through a huge crowd in the Hong Kong Airport to catch a flight and if i had any other suitcase, I honestly don’t think I could have moved as well. I love that each side has it’s own zipped pockets – I no longer use packs whilst travelling and can fit everything neatly into each side. It’s so, so, so worth the money – trust me, I’ve used it heavily on 8 international trips in the past 6 months!

The second best investment was my Will Canvas Bag. I use this as my “purse” while travelling (which my actual purse inside that holds my wallet, passport etc.). It serves two purposes: it holds things that I need to take out quickly and easily for screening (computer, liquids) and things I need easy access to whilstΒ in-flight (headphones, books, wrap, snacks.) The adjustable (and thick) strap makes it very comfortable if you’re carrying it on your shoulder or cross-body. The flat bottom and study sides help it sit easy atop my Rimowa (although I do use a bag bungee just for added ease when walking through airports).

Gear

One thing that’s always in it is this universal travel charger and adapter. After having tried several, this is by far my favorite as it works easily in any country, I can run both my computer and iPhone off of it at once (and I don’t need a separate charger for my iPhone since it has USB) and it’s very lightweight/compact.

Clothing

Packing for winter travel with one suitcase is a huge challenge because sweaters and boots take up so much room. That’s why my carry on is a large bag so I can fit as much winter layers as possible.

My tricks? I try to resort to one pair of boots that go with everything – all my clothes, day to night, casual to fancy. And then I wear them on the plane. Yes it’s a pain to get in and out of during screening but the room in your suitcase will thank you for it.

I also wear my heaviest sweater and jacket on the plane and then just store these for the flight. It also helps with space in the bags.

If I’m doing a lot of walking in the winter, I opt for layers. Walking in a heavy winter coat can make you sweaty or overheat believe it or not. So if it’s a milder winter day, I’ll wear a blouse or lighter layer under my heavy wool coat. This will keep me warm without overheating. If it’s one of the colder days, I’ll wear a light layer, a sweater on top and then my heavy wool jacket. So if I get warmer, I can remove the sweater or if in a museum or restaurant I can just remove the jacket and be OK.

The right socks/tights become really important to keep your feet warm in winter. If you’re walking on a lot of cobblestones or in rain, you want to make sure your feet aren’t freezing or your whole day can be ruined. So light shoes are a no-go. If you have a favourite pair that aren’t winter ready, consider getting a thicker insole or wearing heavier wool socks or tights.

And I always make sure to bring a hat (my favourites are from Christys’ London) so if it’s raining or snowing I can keep my head dry in a way that umbrella’s sometimes fail. Hats are especially great in misty weather or very light rain – you can navigate crowds better and you don’t have to worry about wear to store your wet umbrella.

See my Pinterest Board on Packing For Winter Travel to see what made the list and be able to click-through if the widget below isn’t working.
Winter travel on Anywhere Everywhere

  • Reply
    SarahNo Gravatar
    February 24, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Love the post! I now live in London so can confirm Europe’s winter can be rather chilly… and long-lasting! I also have a Rimowa Salsa Air and could not recommend it more. Super lightweight and I love how it rolls upright on all four wheels. It is expensive but I received 10% off online Charles Ford which helped πŸ™‚ Agreed, worth every penny!

    • alex the girl| hygge houseNo Gravatar
      March 7, 2015 at 11:33 PM

      Sarah – hope things get warmer for you soon πŸ™‚ And yes, the Rimowa is totally worth every penny!

  • Reply
    LisaNo Gravatar
    September 16, 2016 at 7:23 PM

    Hi Alex,

    I would love to read your list of clothes, but there is something wrong with the list, unfortunately.

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