Lifestyle: Living Little

minimalism.  What is it you really need in life to feel comfortable?

I’ve come to appreciate that what you really need to enjoy a comfy home environment is something very simple. Other than a solid roof over your head it comes down to a few basics…a comfortable bed, hot running water and elements that work. You can fill up your living space with all the extras you like, but if you don’t have the necessary comforts (if you’re not camping in a tent, that is) you won’t feel protected and secure. After that you can add in life’s little luxuries…smart TV, laptop, blow dryer, throw pillows, designer bags, etc.

I know this because it has become my living situation in Palm Springs for the past three months. I’ve downgraded but am happier for it.  And it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – only a small weight mind you.  And a weight I put there myself.  Because I wasn’t completely happy with staying in hotels (subject always to availability not to mention prices that go waaay up depending on what’s going on around town & on  weekends) and renting places (which by the way have become harder and harder to find not to mention the astronomical damage deposit fee you must leave although if you don’t wreck the place you’ll get back).  At first my husband and I ended up renting a townhouse with a lot more space but a lot less soul than what we now call part/time home.

view from the front at dusk

at sunrise

Last year when visiting Palm Springs and by an extremely pleasant turn of events (bumping into someone I know from Vancouver at a music venue who told me about this place) I discovered a small RV park very centrally located within a short walking distance to town center. With a clubhouse/pool/sauna/games room, etc. and a hiking mountain right behind the park and shops/restaurants closeby.  Bonus: tons of hummingbirds. Out of curiosity I phoned to see if any spots were available for a short stay to camp in the Eurovan this time around (in between vacating the condo rental & hotel).  They did not have anything available, however a park model RV came up for sale in a location I liked within the park so let’s just jump ahead here…I bought it.  It’s super comfy, everything works and the dogs especially love it.  You make the space your own. Each is different, some are very nice, others not.  I found that people customize to their personal liking .

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My husband had to fly back to Vancouver for appointments.  On a Westjet flight back to PS he sat next to an interesting woman with a female dog sitting on her lap.  It was the woman’s first visit to Palm Springs staying at her cousin’s gorgeous condo.  We ended up going for a dog walk and she came back to our pad.  She loved it and said if another came up for sale she wanted to buy it as a more affordable and perfect alternative to renting or buying a condo.  (Bonus: no property tax issues and withholding tax at time of sale.)

instead of a white picket fence, a white lattice fence which I put together myself

Apparently nothing had come up for sale in a long time and the park is usually booked up a year in advance. But to her good luck karma, a couple only two spots away from us decided they wanted to sell their lovely upgraded park model and travel elsewhere for a change.  All to say…we have a new neighbour! And Jack has a nice new little girlfriend.  Funny how things work out.

The outer surroundings where we’re located are something else – anything but minimal to counterbalance the lack of….more space.  The space is situated with a pleasant mountain view and privacy hedges (in between neighbours) and palm trees.  It has all the comforts of home.  I call it my pad-à-terre. I’ve found a very good nail place, hairdresser, tailor, dog groomer, fix-it phone guy, coffee shop and convenience store within short walking distance. You know, the other necessities of life!

outer surroundings

our daily River Walk – only a few short blocks away

The trailer itself is 350 sq. ft. of uncluttered liveable indoor space perfect for two (and a guest on occasion – there’s a pull-out sofabed) and another 400 sq. ft. of outdoor living space which is what I love the most. There are people who live here year round and others (travelers/snowbirds) who keep an RV here full time (because they like their assigned spot and want to secure the space) but only come a few months a year and the others rent space when available for days/weeks/months at a time. Park fees include garbage pick-up, electricity, cable, internet but not gas so we pay for propane. Otherwise, it is fully serviced.

another little outdoor lounge area

This one is going to be kept here year round, whether we come for one month or six.  It’s pretty simple living at it’s best. I have a bike to get around and the river walk a few blocks away to run & walk the dogs.  But I must say that if the weather wasn’t cooperative I’m not sure I could do this full-time.  Let’s just say that sunshine is a requirement for happiness!  All that Vitamin D is healthy for a person!

As it turns out I’ve discovered more about myself.  I like the simplicity of living light and having less stuff.  So maybe as the saying goes “less is more” hence the tiny houses movement right now. This is living large by comparison. Call it country chic, shabby chic or whatever…I find it to be  an excellent alternative to buying an expensive condo in the sun. It’s hassle free and in the worst case scenario if something happens I can…walk away.

It’s a bonus when the dogs match the outdoor carpet

Photos: d. king

Community: close neighbours

How important are neighbours?neighbours1

“Love thy neighbour” is a term that’s become almost clichéd over the years. In a time when neighbours, at least in North America, are people we rarely see (thanks to garage door openers and busy lives), or are thought of as nuisances with barking dogs guilty and noisy children, how can we possibly love our neighbours?

Well you know; you don’t have to actually love them, but it’s best if you genuinely like them.

But how close is too close?  I’m talking about people you might see on a day to day basis, sometimes only in passing.  How do you feel towards them? Them towards you? How important is it to maintain a good relationship with your neighbour? I guess it depends on how much you have in common, how close in proximity you are…but at the very least isn’t it in your best interest to be friendly?

I’ve always had good luck with my neighbours (next door, back door, upstairs + down).  In the sense that we seem to genuinely like each other to the point of naturally developing over time a genuine friendship. From the very first time I moved away from home to a place of my own, I’ve been lucky to have had great neighbours. Many have become lifelong friends. One even gave me the best gift of my life, her dog whom I fell in love with from the get-go.  She realized we’d be happier together than apart.

Unfortunately last year I lost one of my favourite ones, a woman I rented part of a house from shortly after moving to Vancouver from Montreal.  She became like a second mother and we shared a family like relationship over the years.  I remember she used to leave homemade food and baked goods outside my door and we used to celebrate holidays together.

Now I have a next door neighbor in Palm Springs who leaves homemade cookies and banana cake on my doorstep.   I certainly don’t think that I look like I need to be fed! However, when I think back to past and present neighbors, food is always involved.  One used to leave homemade pies, another pyrogies.  Just can’t seem to break the mold and that’s okay.  Sharing is a nice trait and food is a pleasant ice breaker that brings people together.  It means you have to confront the giver to say “thank you.”

I think it’s important to be on friendly terms at the very least. More often than not I’ve stayed in touch over the years with past/present neighbours and we get together from time to time.

Good neighbours can make or break your peaceful enjoyment. It’s just really nice when it turns out you legitimately want to spend time with them or be in their company even temporarily.  It makes for better neighbourhoods and people tend to look out for one another (neighbourhood watch or watch out!).  I had a neighbour from across the street call to tell me I left my door open one time when traveling and another called the police to report unusual activity.  Turns out the unusual activity was me just getting home from a trip.  It was nighttime and she didn’t recognize that it was me.  So they can be helpful. They also come in handy for watering your plants while away…if they don’t kill them instead by mistake of course not mentioning any names.

And it’s a bonus if they love your music!  How do you feel towards yours?

Tox-Sick Talk with Suzanne Somers  

Because if you live toxic free you will feel better naturally.

I was thinking about starting a series about women who inspire me and who better to start off with than Suzanne Somers.20170302_144013Suzanne said people magazine once described her as the dumbest woman in America.  Which means she did a great job of playing the blond bombshell bimbo Chrissy Snow in the long running sitcom(edy) “Three’s Company.”

But she had the last laugh because the idiot who wrote that didn’t realize her full potential.  A cancer survivor, she is a well respected health and wellness advocate, a *best selling author having written 25 books (her latest is called Tox-Sick – From Toxic to Not Sick), singer, dancer, Vegas nightclub performer (who was once named Female Entertainer of the Year, the same year Frank Sinatra was named Male Entertainer of the Year, ) and savvy business woman with her suzanne organics skincare & cosmetics line.  It’s a pretty impressive resume.  There’s so much to her, but for now we’ll focus on her pure organic skincare line because I was waiting for something beauty-wise to inspire me for a beauty post – this is it!  And it’s never just about looking good (although we love that); it’s about feeling good from the inside out.  Which by the way, always makes one look better on the outside.

“It’s as if we are all on a big, chemical drunk, and the hangover is a killer.” – Suzanne Somers, in TOX-SICK

20170302_144328So I was thrilled to meet her alongside her handsome hubby Alan Hamel (I do remember well his successful TV talk show in Canada) when she launched her Radiance Facial Kit at Clark’s Nutrition – a fantastic family run natural foods market in Rancho Mirage.  Wait; it’s not just the facial kit she has – it’s a complete line of body care, skincare, sunless tanning, haircare and now cosmetics.  It’s a great line because it’s more than natural and organic…it’s certified ToxicFree.  What that means is a lot of NO’s!  No Pegs, Parabens, chemical emulsifiers, artificial colors, fragrance and of course NO animal testing.  She doesn’t kid around.  She walks/eats/looks the talk!  She even grows her own food.  It’s exhausting to even think about. She really does live toxic-free.  She discussed this along with her belief about a new way to age.  On close inspection I decided if she uses her own stuff (which she completely does) and looks that good I better buy me some.

As you may know I make my own little line of pure products so I’m very picky about what I choose to put on my face + body but I went for the coco mango body butter (a friend of mine swears by it – “it f….ing works!” Also the ageless serum (because it’s loaded with sea algae extract and African Birch) and a lipstick in caramelized peach (because it sounded yummy & looked pretty).  Just so you know.  All made in California.

Suzanne says she’s always loved the idea of pure organic skincare but had never experienced any anti-aging benefits so would end up reverting back to chemically-based products.  Now she has the best of both worlds.  She works closely with the formulators to use the power of nature to find the most effective anti-aging actives for clean, beautiful products to feed, nurture and hydrate precious skin.  It is like superfood for your skin.

OMG I never realized just how much we have in common!  I never even told her that I met her “Three’s Company” co-star John Ritter in Tokyo years ago on a TV series and how nicely he treated me.  But maybe she knows that now.

*On one of her many books about health and nutrition “Breakthrough: Eight Steps to Wellness,”: She scored a big coup with “Sex and the City 2.” Her book is heavily featured in the movie.  Kim Cattrall‘s Samantha–who announces that she’s “fifty-f-ing-two” and going through menopause–declares that she lives by it. She hands it to everyone in the movie. By the end of the movie, women are exchanging copies of “Breakthrough,” with the cover very prominent. A book publisher’s dream.

And if all that isn’t enough, she’s nice too!  An inspiration to all women!

websitehttp://www.suzannesomers.com/

images: d. king

 

Art/Nature: DesertX

Well the thing is, art can be found everywhere, even in the desert.  And it makes perfect sense; beauty with beauty.whitewater3

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Wildlife with Art

Wildlife with Art

I realized that while taking a nature walk with the dogs right after a picnic.  The location being Whitewater Preserve about 20 minutes northwest of Palm Springs.  An absolutely stunning setting of over 2,000 acres of pristine desert with hiking trails and wildlife.  From a distance I came across what looked like a birding roost, and on closer inspection found out it was made from sand bags.  It’s actually an art piece. built to replicate how pigeons in Israel are put to roost. But it’s hard to keep up with everything that’s going on around town especially now, so I had to find out *more.
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*From Feb. 25 through April 30, 2017, the Coachella Valley and its desert landscape will become the canvas for a curated exhibition of site-specific work by established and emerging artists, whose projects will amplify and articulate global and local issues that may range from climate change to starry skies, from tribal culture and immigration to tourism, gaming, and golf.  The artworks, in various indoor and outdoor locations will be available for free and will offer visitors a way to see the valley and reflect on serious and playful issues through the lens of the participating artists’ creativity and work.

You never know what you will encounter while out on a simple walkwhitewater2

CHECK out this short VIDEO:

https://www.desertx.org/about-us/

You never know what you will encounter while out on a simple drive

On the drive to the nature preserve you will come across hundreds on windmills20170224_140637The windmills are there for power generation with renewable energy.  However I hate them for the fact that the valley is infamous for the number of birds that are killed because of them.

Photos: d. king

 

 

Life+Style: A peek behind the hedges 

OLD LAS PALMAS – an intimate glimpse into old Palm Springs

Mary Pickford Estate

Mary Pickford Estate

Thanks to a friend of mine I had the privilege of visiting eight outstanding homes & gardens as part of Modernism week.  This is the first time that these unique homes have been opened to the public.tour18tour19
tour8The little enclave known as Old Las Palmas has always been recognized as one of the premier neighborhoods in Palm Springs and many of the older estates and homes have been updated and enhanced over the years.   As we tiptoed through the tulips Mary Pickford’s estate, the home of Mary Martin,  a home Howard Hughes had built for himself (a long time residence of film director Howard Hawks) Liberace’s house and others, we wore little slippers to cover our shoes from tracking dirt through the houses. Each home was as interesting and magnificent as the next. Of course I sneaked in a few selfies!

A little info about a lotta glamour

Old Las Palmas boasts the largest number of celebrity homes in Palm Springs, dating back to the mid-1920’s.  Some of the well-known celebrities who have lived here include Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Todd, Liberace, Mary Martin, Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell, Lily Tomlin, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Debbie Reynolds, Kirk Douglas, Edgar Bergen, Samuel Goldwyn, Edward G. Robinson, Clarke Gable, Gene Autry, George Hamilton, Harold Robbins, George Randolph Hearst, Ronald and Nancy Reagon and countless others.  The many, world-renowned architects who have built homes for their clients here include William Krisel, Cliff May, Donald Wexler and E. Stewart Williams.

tour7mm

Home of the original Peter Pan - Mary Martin

Home of the original Peter Pan – Mary Martin

Among the splattering of residents the area is alive and kicking with current Hollywood icons such as Leonardo DiCaprio who owns the house Dinah Shore used to live in.  We drove by but it was unfortunately not part of our home & garden tour.

A colorful quintessential midcentury re-design

A colorful quintessential midcentury update

The Old Las Palmas Neighborhood Organization makes sure to protect and preserve its special heritage.

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photos: d. king (while lovely to look at, these photos only reflect a bit of the elegance and don’t really capture the expanse of these charming homes).  Also, I took many photos inside the homes and realize that it would overwhelm one post.) I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.

 

Art/Exhibits: Light and Space

This UNUSUAL INSTALLATION by James Turrell is designed to entirely eliminate the viewer depth perception.light1

Perceptual deprivation is something I struggle with at times all the time when trying to park parking my car but this is completely different.  In general his work blends the worlds of art, science, architecture, astronomy, mathematics, archaeology, and spirituality.

James Turrell, Breathing Light

Ongoing at LACMA – Los Angeles County Museum of Artlight2

You don little sock booties and walk through a sloping curved room with a strong light source at one end that continuously changes color.  A little 60’s psychedelic, a little eerie mixed with some unexpected enlightenment.

About the Artist: 

James Turrell was born in Los Angeles in 1943 and attended Pomona College, where he studied art, art history, mathematics, perceptual psychology and astronomy. He took graduate courses at the University of California, Irvine, and received a master’s degree in fine art from Claremont Graduate School. 

www.lacma.org

Interiors + Architectural Design           

There’s an abundance of inspiration in art, design and architecture to be found in and around Palm Springs.chris1I’m always on the lookout for something unique and I found it when I stopped into Christopher Kennedy’s incredible interior design store/studio.

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Christopher Kennedy is a nationally-published interior designer and modern furniture designer based in Palm Springs, California. He was just named Best Interior Designer by Desert Outlook Magazine.

His book: California Modern

His book (as in he wrote it): California Modern

Born in San Francisco and raised on California’s Central Coast, he brings a synthesis of big-city style and relaxed resort living to his work. He combines vintage and contemporary sensibilities to create spaces that are layered, liveable, and inviting. Neither trapped by tradition nor tied to trends, the hallmarks of Christopher’s style is easy elegance and casual sophistication.

His current projects include beach houses in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Malibu; lofts in New York; and numerous desert projects in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells and La Quinta. Known for his unique brand of luxurious modernism, his work has been featured in Luxe, Dwell, Palm Springs Life Magazine, California chris6Homes, and The Los Angeles Times.chris2

Hockney Swimmer Original

Hockney Swimmer Signed Original

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Photos: d. king

Source: taken from website – christopherkennedy.com

Ginger/Mango Candle

Ginger/Mango Candle

chris3achris16

Manifesto

We believe that design is powerful and transformative.
We believe in wiping the slate clean from time to time and the power of a fresh coat of white paint.
We believe in hand-written thank you notes and old-fashioned telephone calls.
We believe that there is a place for books in our homes and in our lives.
We believe that food tastes better and is more nourishing when the table is set.
We believe in the importance of travel — of the opportunities it presents for learning, growth, and discovery. We also believe in the joy of returning home, after a long day at work or a long journey abroad.

I believe in ALL of the above

Address: 590 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs    Phone: 760.325.3214

Life Palm Springs Style

It’s all about the simple things; sunshine and resort style living.  A mimosa here and everywhere there.  A nice pool.  A mimosa by the pool.

Throw Pillow from Shag

Throw Pillow from Shag

A place to escape to when the weather starts to turn for the worst.  A playground for those who like to golf, hike or swim.  Or just take it easy or go listen to live music.  There’s a lot of happy people here.  A lot of folks from Vancouver and other parts of Canada. Happy hour is a biggie and there’s plenty of good dining everywhere.

The Tuna Tower at Lulu's California Bistro is a favourite

The Tuna Tower at Lulu’s California Bistro is a favourite

Love Bill's Pizza. The caesar salad is the best.

Love Bill’s Pizza. The caesar salad is the best.

There’s the Palm Springs International Film Festival which is just ending and attracts Hollywood’s biggest stars to flog their films or just show up and party.

There’s Modernism Week in February.  An annual signature event and celebration of midcentury modern design, architecture, art, fashion and culture. With more than 250 events including the Modernism Show & Sale, Signature Home Tours, films, lectures, Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tours, nightly parties and live music, walking and bike tours, tours of Sunnylands (to some extent regarded as the “Camp David of the West”), classic cars, modern garden tours, a vintage travel trailer exhibition, and more…like Martinis on the mountain.

Then there’s Coachella (my sister is excited about going for the first time), the annual Valley Music & Arts Festival. As of this spring Beyoncé will make history yet again as she will be the first woman of color to headline Coachella. EVER. She is also the first woman in ten years to headline the festival (the last woman to headline was Bjork in 2007).

There was “Oldchella” which was the fitting nickname for the festival’s official title “Desert Trip.” It appears the nickname came about because  headliners such as Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones and The Who average about 72 years in age.  But can these guys still rock or what? Nobody seems sure how annual this festival might be.  There is talk of it dying off.

Art Glass - Trina Turk

Art Glass – Trina Turk

The shops at thirteen forty five

The shops at thirteen forty five

Daydreamer

Daydreamer from the shops at 1345

But you can count on “Opera in the Park” a premier cultural event in April held at Sunrise Park. The concert of arias draws thousands of people from all over Southern California (& beyond) in a celebration of great opera music with a professional orchestra. You can take a picnic lunch – how great is that?

There’s the usual art markets, *antique markets, **vintage markets & the Thursday night street fair. Free street parking is a bonus. There’s even a free bus or buzz” Thursday through Sunday that’s also dog friendly as is the rest of P.S.

There’s other places of interest you can drive or bus to within a few hours driving distance like: Los Angeles & San Diego if you miss the ocean or more traffic.  A little longer than that and you can find yourself in Las Vegas or Arizona.  So there’s plenty of variety and no excuse to be bored.

The Shops at thirteen forty five

The Shops at thirteen forty five

20170114_120151So I went ahead and bought myself an early birthday gift.  A little pied-à-terre right smack in the middle of exactly where I want to be.  A perfect location. Something so unexpected and unplanned…yet ideal.  As I’m writing this I’m spending my first night in the new place after having rented in the area for two weeks prior to this with a short hotel stay prior to that.  I’ve been coming here for several years and what’s funny is that this time the trip was going to be a short one.  I just wanted to take in the film festival and be back before the end of January.  There were reasons why it had to be cut shorter than usual….however you never know what life will throw your way.  Now I’ll stay a bit longer than planned.  And have a set place to come back to.

In another sense…I fully expected this to happen! My horoscope said that it’s my year to charge ahead, make bold changes for progress & success.  The Sun-Pluto conjunction in January empowers and emboldens my sign all year long.

Mimosa at Spencer's before brunch

Mimosa at Spencer’s at brunch

2016 was such a downer year for multiple reasons.  We lost so many amazing people and of course the election craziness. Here’s to new growth and positive change. Not just for me, but for everyone. We have to take our sunshine where we can get it.  And orange juice doesn’t quite cut it.

*an antique is “a work of art, piece of furniture, or decorative object made at least 100 years ago.

**The term “vintage,” when used in a way similar to the term “antique,” refers to items that are over 50 years old, but less than 100.

A modern kleenex box

A modern kleenex box

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Photos: d. king

The shops at thirteen forty five is a collective of luxurious shops in an iconic E. Stewart Williams designed building.  1345 N. Palm Canyon Drive20170114_125031Home Sweet Away from Home!                       Have you been?

Feel-good Friday: Hello 2017!

I’ve been waiting for you! feelgoodfriday2-copyYou’re a welcome change and a new chapter waiting to be written. A fresh start to learn from past mistakes and strive to improve all future aspects of life.  I welcome you with an open heart and a commitment to further enrich my life and the lives of those around me.

Well it’s a good place to start.

As it so happens my year end 2016 did not go as planned.  While traveling I very suddenly developed a virus that left me incapacitated for several days, having to make an emergency visit to a doctor in Oregon and take antibiotics.  I had a fever, chills and could hardly swallow without feeling pain.  Also sooooo lethargic. This from someone who rarely if ever gets sick.  But I’m over it now.  Still have an annoying dry cough but other than that I feel almost back to normal considering I was ever normal.  So instead of celebrating with friends in the wine region I was stuck in a hotel room in my pajamas with a party hat & party favours (I didn’t dare put on my glitter outfit which I brought if you can believe that) waiting for the ball to drop on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve with host Ryan Seacrest live from New York.  Except just before the ball was about to drop and they were starting the countdown the station cut to a commercial.  Who does that??  So when they cut back to the live programming it was already over – at least in New York.  Then off to sleep I went.  I really feel l missed out and was going to call the station to complain.

But then when I woke up it was already a brand new year…..whew!  I never made the call.

So I checked my mail and FB to see who was celebrating where and with whom.  Then I see a message from a very dear friend who lives in Florida who I haven’t heard from in what seems like months.  To find out that for almost one year now she has gone totally sober. She went to rehab and re-discovered herself, made new friends and realized that she doesn’t need alcohol after all.   I’m so proud of her for having taken the first step towards twelve steps and beyond.  I think it must be very difficult to overcome addiction and even more difficult to stay sober but I’m certain she’ll stay sober now because she has the support of others in the same situation.  Support is everything.

I realize that everyone has their demons, their setbacks or unusual circumstances but also their dreams. Life is full of ups and downs and we make choices, made do, rise above it, stay put or move ahead.  Only we decide how to live our lives.  Once in a while there are circumstances beyond our control of course but for the most part…..20170105_191847

So today is a brand new day.  I missed the deadline for getting accreditation to cover the Palm Springs International Film Festival by only 3 days so that was a bummer.  But I was told to come by the press office once in town and they gave me media passes for the festival anyway.  Score!  It’s a fabulous line up of entertainment that awaits.

That’s all to say I’m going to enjoy whatever sunshine comes my way and see a few movies in the meantime.  I’ll be in touch very soon.

Girl on Fire - Tiki Style

Girl on Fire – Tiki Style (here I’m outside in a hot tub by myself and the moon).

Happy 2017!

Things are about to get a whole lot brighter

LifeStyle/Luxury – all that Glitters

A Peek Inside the Cartier Fifth Avenue Mansion

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As told by an editor at purewow.com – an American digital media company that elevates the everyday from the everyday…. if you know what I mean.

You know when you’re in a particularly fabulous store and you just kinda moan, “Ugh, I want to live here”?

Well, the new Cartier Fifth Avenue Mansion in the heart of Manhattan garners that same response. Although it’s not new. And it was actually home to a big-name financier back in the 1910s, until he sold it to the Cartier family in exchange for $100 and a double strand of 128 natural pearls (trust us, they were some good pearls). A century later the landmark still stands, and now with a major Manhattan-sized facelift. (Two and a half years, four times the size.) Here’s what made us go weak in the knees during a private tour of the place—or should we say palace?
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A ROOM THAT PAYS HOMAGE TO A SCREEN QUEEN

Vacationing in the South of France is pretty dreamy. Vacationing in the South of France while your husband adorns you with custom Cartier jewels is the stuff of legends. The Elizabeth Taylor Salon in the Cartier Fifth Avenue Mansion is filled with gems as big as the movie star herself. And when you’re done fawning over those creations, you can turn your attention to the triptych of still photographs grabbed from a home movie, shot in August 1957 while Taylor and her husband, film producer Mike Todd, were vacationing in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France. It was there that Todd presented her with a Cartier ruby and diamond necklace—while she was in her bikini, mind you. (The photos on the wall feel like the most glamorous Instagram story, ever.)cartier2

AN IN-HOUSE PERFUMER TAKES RESIDENCE ON THE FOURTH FLOOR

A sensory experience unlike any other, the fourth floor is home to Cartier perfumer Mathilde Laurent’s 11 exclusive fragrances—each housed in a tiny red Cartier box. Simply take your pick, open the box and a video will begin to play, illustrating the scent. For what it’s worth, Number VII smells like a field of peonies.cartier3

THE OLD BALLROOM IS NOW HOME TO ALL THE DIAMONDS

All diamonds and engagement rings are located in this oval stunner named the Princess Grace Salon. And, quite honestly, the lighting might be the best in all of Manhattan.cartier4

AND, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE RING

Speaking of Princess Grace of Monaco, the original Cartier engagement ring (a flawless 10.48-carat emerald-cut jaw-dropper flanked by two baguettes) that she received from Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956 will be on exhibit from now until October 15. Sorry, no try-ons.cartier5

AND FINALLY, THE SECRET DOOR…

Last but certainly not least are all the little secrets dotting the Cartier Fifth Avenue Mansion’s six floors, such as a camouflaged door that connects this staircase to the private Jeanne Toussaint Salon, named after Cartier’s first artistic director. The mezzanine is strictly for VIPs only. Clients who are looking to commission one-of-a-kind, high-end pieces gain entry under the supervision of a Cartier employee.

On the prowl for Cartier

On the prowl for Cartier 

Show me to the mezzanine please

But don’t forget… ENVY is one of the seven deadly sins!