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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 donโ€™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 itโ€™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 ๐Ÿ˜€
 #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. ๐Ÿ˜€
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. ๐Ÿ˜€
  • The @ojaivalleyinn is one of my favourite places either for a day trip or an overnight. โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €
I always go when I need supreme rest and healing because I really really get that here. โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €
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. โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €
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). โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € 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). โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € I  paid for my room ๐Ÿ˜€ 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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Everyday Hygge Wanderlust

Part of the Picture

February 23, 2007
Winter in Copenhagen Denmark

View from Hotel D'Angelterre

After being snowed in for the past two days, we emerged from the little house in the country and travelled down the completely white roads to the train station. It was time to head to Copenhagen for our last night in Denmark.

Sitting in the train, we’d roll into various stations and, at each stop, would look out as the people out looked in. We had previously seen trains go by when we were walking or driving about town but now we sat inside, with tales to tell of travels. We were part of the picture.

In Copenhagen, we checked into the famous (and Denmark’s best) hotel, Hotel D’Angleterre (this was a last-minute decision due to weather and the belief of going out big!). It is every bit as magical as it might seem. It’s truly elegant, refined but still oh so cosy and charming. Our room is actually a suite (H.C. Andersen’s no less!) that overlooks Kongens Nytorv, the city square. Last week, when staying in Nyhavn, we had looked across to the Hotel D’Angleterre and seen the window to the room we’re now in. We wondered about the hotel, what it must be like inside and those who were able to stay there. But now we part of the picture.

After checking in, we head to an amazing cafe/restaurant just behind the hotel called, “Cafe Victor.” It was again elegant, charming, refined but cosy and somehow informal whilst being formal if that can make sense (and it does if you visit). There were men in suits waiting at the bar for a seat, girlfriends dishing at the tables, dogs at their owners sides (with their own dog bowls which fascinated me since it is small, tables are bunched together, yet every creature gets along). We sat near the window and we could see people looking in. We had done so before but now we sat with lunch at hand, talking, relaxing. We part of the picture.

For several hours after, we strolled around Copenhagen, I think each of us trying to somehow absorb every last minute that we could. We wanted to go into shops just so we wouldn’t have to head back to the hotel (and truly, sometimes because it was just so cold!). But when the dark set in, the stores closed and the cold became too much, we headed back to the hotel and into the lounge.

Last week we had walked past the floor to ceiling windows of the lounge on our way from Nyhavn to the ritzy department store Magasin du Nord (which has a wonderful little grocery at the bottom level and a great magazine stand!). We had seen the women with furs through the window, the couples holding hands over candlelight, businessmen toasting each other and the well-to-do of Copenhagen discussing food. We’d see this picture and then, tonight, we part of that picture.

So much of life is looking at a picture; of dreaming of a distant land, a better life, or a new way of being. We read websites to live vicariously through others, watch reality television for the same and get sucked into bad movies just to watch pretend for hours on end. We often see other’s pictures but very seldom do we get to be in the picture. Why? Perhaps we don’t think we deserve it, or it’s for someone else, or it’s too expensive, or we’re not creative enough. Some are actually in the picture but don’t recognise it because they’re still too busy watching others.

I say this because I believe everyone has a picture they are meant to be in โ€“ some pictures are grand and some are just little scribbles. But in any event, theyโ€™re there โ€“ waiting to be painted. Being part of the picture could be as simple as stepping into that cafรฉ/restaurant you always walk buy but never think to go in. It could be booking a flight instead of just looking at planes in the sky, dreaming. It could be writing your novel instead of reading one. It could be looking out from a hotelโ€™s best room โ€“ if only for one night.

Everyone has a picture and I wish for you to step into and see your own – however that may be.

  • Reply
    AbbeyNo Gravatar
    February 27, 2007 at 6:30 AM

    That was so beautifully written.

    Thank you for sharing the picture of your world with us.

  • Reply
    EdwinaNo Gravatar
    February 27, 2007 at 10:41 AM

    I love your images and stories of candles, cafes and family – very dreamy, I long to be in Europe in my own version of a similar story. Beautiful!

  • Reply
    LakshmiNo Gravatar
    February 27, 2007 at 7:15 PM

    So much of life is looking at a picture; of dreaming of a distant land, a better life, or a new way of being. We read websites to live vicariously through others…

    I guess that’s why I read AND read and re-read your posts, Alex…:)

  • Reply
    kukaNo Gravatar
    March 7, 2007 at 12:07 PM

    what a beautiful photo!

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