Monday Mood:  Sinatra state of mind

The Place He Called Home

I could change the heading to Melancholy Mood a song sang by Frank Sinatra but that sounds pretty gloomy.  After viewing a special screening of the fabulous documentary film by *Leo Zahn which ended Modernism week here in Palm Springs, we know Sinatra’s life was anything but gloomy.

Sinatra in Palm Springs – The Place He Called Home.

I, like so many others have always loved Sinatra’s music, his style and well…the lifestyle was anything but dull. Because I’ve spent the last several years coming to Palm Springs and now live here part of the year I was really looking forward to seeing this film if only because it explored Frank Sinatra’s deep attachment to Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, his primary home for almost 50 years.

His wife Barbara called him a desert rat.  Meaning he embraced the dreamy “desert rat” lifestyle of tennis, golf, cocktails, cards and entertaining.  Very similar to my lifestyle minus the tennis, golf and cards.

Nelda Linsk, one of the subjects of “Poolside Gossip,” the famous photograph shot by Slim Aarons in 1970, was Barbara Sinatra’s best friend (she’s the one in yellow).  She is also interviewed in this doc.  She’s still beautiful.

The film captures the spirit of the Sinatra era and pays tribute to the unique lifestyle especially surrounding the renowned racquet club. Revealing interviews bring to life a bygone era . . . beginning with the post-WWII years and Sinatra’s 1947 home in Palm Springs, tumultuous times with Ava Gardner, his 1954 move to Rancho Mirage, his marriage to Barbara, and life at the “compound.” Major sequences are dedicated to historic restaurants Sinatra frequented for decades.  Many still here and some I’ve gone to.  My husband and I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting with Mel Haber who owned the historic Ingleside Inn and Melvyn’s cocktail bar which Sinatra frequented.  He described Sinatra as having “an aura” about him. He’s the first and last person to be interviewed in this wonderful documentary.  It didn’t matter which president or other famous person frequented your estabishment.  Everyone wanted to know if Frank or “Mr. S” as they referred to him came in.  If he showed up with his entourage and liked it, you were good.  If he didn’t like the pasta it could get thrown against the wall.

‘Sinatra in Palm Springs’ tells the story of a man whose generosity and compassion for his fellow citizens had no bounds. He loved the desert and its people. He loved the local restaurants and bars. His best friends lived nearby.

How many people can aspire to live like him?  It’s a large, legendary life and that’s why the screening was sold out.  He really did do it HIS WAY.

At the end of the screening Mr. Zahn (*the filmmaker) was here for an audience Q&A.

And that’s another thing I love about being here.  The filmmakers are on hand to answer questions especially during Film Fest and Modernism.






Modern Lifestyle: For the love of Architecture

I wanted to prove that I, as an individual, deserved a place in the world – Paul Revere Williams.

Focus on Palm Springs Modernism and Preserving the Legacy of Paul Revere Williams (1894-1980): Architect to the Stars…and Everyone Else.

Residence in Hollywood, Calif., designed in 1928 by Paul R Williams for banking executive Victor Rosetti.

“Expensive homes are my business and social housing is my hobby,” Williams once said.

Paul Williams added the Crescent Wing to the Beverly Hills Hotel

One of my favorite months to be in Palm Springs is February, if only for the numerous events surrounding Modernism Week.  A feast for the senses; especially the eyes.

The mission of Modernism Week is to celebrate and foster appreciation of midcentury architecture and design, as well as contemporary thinking in these fields, by encouraging education, preservation and sustainable modern living as represented in the greater Palm Springs area.  But you don’t have to be here to appreciate it.  But if you are here, you’ll certainly enjoy it!

Paul Revere Williams Wins 2017 AIA Gold Medal, LAX Theme Building, 1961

Paul Revere Williams

The Man:

“California represented an acceptance of both Williams, as an African-American and his work. Maybe Southern California was the only place he could have achieved all this.” -Robert Timme, dean of the USC School of Architecture 

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz tapped Williams in 1954 to design their Palm Springs residence.  The Ball Arnaz home is an excellent example of his uncanny ability to transform a client’s dreams into substance.

Frank Sinatra also hired the architect to build a house. Williams recalled the experience designing for the crooner as particularly challenging.

“Frank Sinatra wanted a bedroom; press a button and the doors open to the patio. Press another button and the bed rolls out into the patio.”  Ahhhh….. if you can, why not?

In a nutshell….

Paul Revere Williams is an important part of Southern California’s architectural legacy. He’s well known for his sumptuous residential designs for movie stars, entertainment and business leaders, mastering a range of styles from Southern Colonial to Spanish Colonial, from Hollywood Regency to Modern. While residential design would remain an important part of his practice, in the course of his five-decade career, Williams designed thousands of buildings of all types, served on many municipal, state and federal commissions, and was active in political and social organizations earning the admiration and respect of his peers.

Modernism Week – February 15-25, 2018.

In addition, Modernism Week will feature two talks about Williams and his influence in midcentury modern architecture.

The world is a better place because of him.



Self-care: take this!

I always thought of self care as more than mud masks and bubble baths.

contributed image –

It really is a total package encompassing mind/body/spirit + other life essentials.  So when I saw this article from another website it was only fitting to share it with you.  Because life is simple and complicated at the same time.  We need to focus on what needs to be fixed on the outside in order to feel good on the inside.  I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing – by Brianna Wiest:

It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.

It is often doing the ugliest thing you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day.

A world in which self-care has to be such a trendy topic is a world that is sick. Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so absolutely exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure.

True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.

And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do.

It often means looking your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is not satiating your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t.

It is letting yourself be normal. Regular. Unexceptional. It is sometimes having a dirty kitchen and deciding your ultimate goal in life isn’t going to be having abs and keeping up with your fake friends.  It is deciding how much of your anxiety comes from not actualizing your latent potential, and how much comes from the way you were being trained to think before you even knew what was happening.

The act of self-care has become yet another thing women are expected to be good at. Did you use the right filter for that ‘gram of your impeccably prepared acai bowl? Are the candles you just lit in your Snap story made from organic hand-poured soy or are they that mass-produced factory shit? And how can we stem the inevitable capitalist tide from turning something as simple as self-care into yet another thing to be bought and sold? These are all things I wrestle with as I order Dominos in sweatpants under the guise of ‘being good to myself.’ –  Amil Niazi

If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer self-care, it’s because you are disconnected from actual self-care, which has very little to do with “treating yourself” and a whole lot do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness.

It is no longer using your hectic and unreasonable life as justification for self-sabotage in the form of liquor and procrastination. It is learning how to stop trying to “fix yourself” and start trying to take care of yourself… and maybe finding that taking care lovingly attends to a lot of problems you were trying to fix in the first place.

It means being the hero of your life, not the victim. It means rewiring what you have until your everyday life isn’t something you need therapy to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good. It is giving the hell up on some goals so you can care about others. It is being honest even if that means you aren’t universally liked. It is meeting your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on other people.

It is becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be. Someone who knows that salt baths and chocolate cake are ways to enjoy life – not escape from it.

Well said! Who else agrees?

Self Care: Dinner for One

I’m slowly getting back to some of the usual happy rituals that make my day complete.  One is the enjoyment of cooking dinner.

Broccolini with shaved Vermont cheddar, baby potatoes & wild sockeye salmon with salsa verde (Botanica recipe posted on October 17th – absolutely delicious).

Over dinner (many times accompanied by a glass of wine) along with pleasant music playing in the background, there is conversation. Which means normally there’s another person to converse with. Someone who can talk about pretty much…anything, which makes the ritual that more gratifying. Of course I talk to the dogs but it’s not the same.  They’re really not up on current affairs, however they’re very good listeners.

So it has taken me at least two months to get back into some kind of norm of cooking only for myself.  It’s not that I don’t have the inclination to invite someone else to join me, it’s just that I feel the time has come to look after me, in the same way I used to do for two. So I went grocery shopping and thoughtfully put together a proper dinner, taking time to do so, incorporating healthful ingredients. And I enjoyed every bite.  By myself.

I’m not gonna lie; I much prefer dinner for two. But there is something to having a routine even if it’s only meant for one. It brings meaning to everyday living.  And besides,  I enjoyed the company.  Maybe next time I’ll try taking myself out on a date!

But really; looking after ourselves is as important as looking after another. Even if it’s not as much fun.

How about you?  Do you take the time to make a nice meal just for yourself?

Wine + Dinner = Winner                                                                                                        (image: d. king)


Monday Mood Board #2

The Destination

Photo: Fresh


The Table Setting

Something bright for a Spring brunch

Ideal Ridemoodboard8Foot Jewelry


Admirable characters, clothing, cars.

To Catch a Thief (1955) starring Cary Grant + Grace Kelly

Him: What do you expect to get out of being so nice to me?

Her: Probably a lot more than you’re willing to offer

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 .


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!


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


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.

*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:

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.


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.


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.