Mom and Dad have been wintering in Palm Springs again, so we decided to check out the week celebrating Mid Century Modern architecture. What I didn’t bargain for was the traffic during what turned out to be a

Mid Century Modern week in Palm Springs

Mid Century Modern week in Palm Springs

record breaking number of visitors in the Cochella Valley. Over 45,000 people had the same idea about spending Valentines Day weekend in the dessert along with President Obama who flew in for a Presidents Day break.

Presidential presence

Presidential presence

It was a grueling bumper to bumper 3 1/2 hour trip (normally only a 2 hour journey) from LA, but it was quite a site to see Air Force One parked on the runway at the tiny Palm Springs Airport. Lucky for us all, the president spent most of his time playing golf at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage.

Mid Century Modern commercial real estate

Mid Century Modern commercial real estate

Whether it is commercial real estate or residential, I am a huge fan of Modernism’s clean lines against the rugged backdrop of the mountains. The walls of glass create that indoor/outdoor flow that celebrates the glorious winter climate (sunny with temps in the 70’s-80’s) so well.

Dinah Shore's old house, now Leo DiCaprio's

Dinah Shore’s old house that Leonardo DiCaprio just bought

It isn’t hard to understand why Hollywood’s Golden Era flocked here in droves – the latest among them being Leonardo DiCaprio who just purchased Dinah Shore’s old home. Part of the reason Palm Springs became so popular was it was the furthest distance the stars under studio contracts could  travel for the weekend in case they were needed back in Los Angeles for reshoots.

Mid Century Modern Residential

Mid Century Modern residential

Architects of note include Quincy Jones, Donald Wexler, Charles DuBois, John Lautner, Palmer & Krisel, Neutra, and E. Stewart Williams whose first ever home was commissioned by none other than Frank Sinatra. Can you imagine getting that call at the beginning of your career?

  Palm Desert Art

Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert

Of course we squeezed in a little time for a spot of shopping on El Paseo and taking in the art at the Palm Springs Museum in Palm Dessert.  The sculpture garden there is quite divine. I could have quite happily spent the afternoon sitting in the shade by the fountain reading all day long…

Party "On Top of the Mountain"

Eye of the Desert

… but we had Martinis on top of the mountain to get to. At Ojo del Desierto to be exact. The “Eye of the Desert” was the winter home of oilman Thomas O’Donnell and his wife. Built in 1925, it was the only home to sit high up in the San Jacinto mountains with breathtaking views until the 1960’s.

Party at O'Donnel House

Party at O’Donnel House

After taking in the city lights, cocktails, finger food, and music – we beelined it for a night cap at the the Seguro Hotel (formerly the Palm Springs Holiday Inn). I’m told the boutique hotel’s angular pool is quite the pool party hotspot in the summertime, and the bar was quite lively with a much younger crowd too.

Cocktails at the Saguro

Cocktails at the Saguro

Of course the highlight of the whole week was the tour of Twin Palms. I should preface this with the story about when Nick and I took Mom to see Frank Sinatra at Carnegie Hall. Suffice it to say, I never knew quite how big a fan she was until we watched mom transform into a giddy 14 year old teeny-bopper before our very eyes that evening! Going to see Frank’s first home in the desert, where he lived with his first two wives, was bound to be memorable.

Twin Palms

Twin Palms

The second Mrs. Sinatra, actress Ava Gardner called Twin Palms “the only house we ever really could call our own” in her memoirs. “… the site of probably the most spectacular fight of our young married life – and honey, don’t think I don’t know that’s really saying something.” She was referring to the bathroom sink Frank  chipped when he threw a bottle of Champagne in anger – the crack is still there today.

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

The 3500 square foot home built in 1947 is far from pretentious, but it does ooze style. One can’t help but feel a certain reverence when standing in the very room where many of his albums had been recorded, and the Rat Pack played.

Rat Pack Entertaining

Rat Pack Entertaining

According to local lore, planes would aim for the twin palms to find their way into Palm Springs, and there was a huge flagpole by the famous piano shape pool that would let people know when they were welcome. If the flag was up, the party was on!

The famous piano shaped pool

The famous piano shaped pool

While we’re enjoying the divine weather and indoor/outdoor lifestyle of Palm Springs – why not enjoy some yummy grilled finger food by the pool too? I wonder of Frank Sinatra would have enjoyed my…

Cilantro-Cumin Beef

Cilantro-Cumin Beef Wraps

Flank steak is an inexpensive cut of beef that will stretch a long way with this recipe. If you’d rather not know “where’s the beef?” Try the same marinade with chicken for an equally delicious white meat version.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes



  • 2 pounds flank steak or skirt steak
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons marinade
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest


  • corn tortillas
  • curly green lettuce
  • 1 plum tomatoes seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
  • toothpicks


Cilantro-Cumin Beef Wraps

  1. In a medium size bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients. Reserve 2 tablespoons for the mayonnaise, then add the beef to the rest of the marinade, turning to coat well, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours to overnight.
  2. Prepare a hot grill or broiler. Season meat to taste, grill or broil 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing against the grain, about 1/2 inches thick, for tenderness.
  3. While meat is cooking, whisk together the mayonnaise ingredients in a small bowl. Season to taste.
  4. Spread a thin layer of the mayonnaise on each of four tortillas, place a lettuce leaf on top, layer with avocado, tomatoes, and beef. Roll from one end to the other and secure in several places with a toothpick.
  5. Using a serrated bread knife, slice into 2-3 inch rolls.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with ranch flavored Doritos, chips, or raw vegetables.

Heat To Eat

Either marinate and wait to grill meat off until you are ready to assemble and serve; or remove meat from refrigerator 30-45 minutes before assembling and serving to allow it to come to room temperature.


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  • February 25, 2015
    11:04 am

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time touring around. I’d love to see the Sinatra home, it must have been extravagantly decorated, but tastefully so. Good to see that you’re taking time for yourself to enjoy life outside of the kitchen! You deserve it!

  • February 25, 2015
    11:15 am

    It wasn’t extravagant at all – just humble yet stylishly done.