Our Online Store is Live!

Did you miss us at Smorgasburg LA last Sunday? No worries, we’ll be there again this Sunday from 10-6. Stop by, we’ll show you a magic trick.

But even bigger news: Our ONLINE STORE is live. Now you can shop our lovely wares anywhere, anytime.

Greeting cards by LA artist, Laura Plansker. Our line of Miss Havisham’s dinnerware. Antiques. All manner of tea related items.

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xoxo

Miss Havisham’s Curiosities Joins Smorgasburg LA

 

Very pleased to announce that Miss Havisham’s Curiosities will be at Smorgasburg LA every Sunday beginning June 19th at the Alameda Produce Market in Downtown LA.

Antiques, housewares, local artists, and tea!

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Come visit us and sample her fine wares, darling. Miss Havisham does not disappoint.

 

We’re Moving!

We have been remiss in our correspondence as of late but with good reason!

Darlings, Miss Havisham’s Tea is dipping our toe into new waters.

Firstly, we are moving our blog to www.MissHavishamsCuriosities.com.

Because we’re really more of a lifestyle movement after all, aren’t we dearies? Why limit ourselves to tea and gossip?

All of our content, social media, and discussion forums will now be in one lovely little hub.

Secondly, and this is a big one, we will be adding an online store in the near future.

So many of those trinkets we’ve showcased will eventually be available to you online. How else can a lady support her weekend flea market addiction?

And so it is out with the old and in with the new including our fancy new logo courtesy of Mr. Havisham (Thank you, Tim).

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So please visit us at our new home, subscribe to our newsletter, and look out for more exciting announcements soon.

xoxo

Miss Havisham’s Curiosities

We’re getting curiouser and curiouser…

Miss Havisham’s April Appointments

Oh hi, April! Ever striving to approach the majesty of Martha Stewart herself, I humbly submit my own schedule for your eagle eyes. Here are the LA events I will be attending in the next few weeks. Maybe I’ll see you there, dearies. No foolin’.

Friday, April 1

April Fool’s Day! Avoid the internet, it is full of lies today. Fish don’t typically wear hats, for example.

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Friday, April 1

The Great Horror Movie Night: Watch Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, The Shining, under the stars in the Griffith Park old zoo. Bring your blankets, bring your snacks, bring a flashlight. We’ll all be there, will you?

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Friday, April 1

First Fridays at the Natural History Museum? Movies and science? Yes.

Give me any excuse to spend time there, I will take it.

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Friday, April 1

Don’t miss this book signing and a chance to meet the author of Deceptive Desserts: A Girls Guide to Baking Bad, Christine McConnell, at Barnes and Noble at The Grove.

I love her instagram. I love her vision. Apparently she is baking cookies for the event.

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Saturday, April 2

Missed her at The Grove? You get another chance. You can drive on down to Riverside and meet Christine McConnell and buy her book, Deceptive Desserts: A Girls Guide to Baking Bad.

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Saturday, April 2-3

Theodore Payne’s annual native garden tour.

This is a fantastic event. Tour gardens all over LA and see how drought tolerant, native gardens can rival even the most manicured lawns. I’ve gone every year since I moved to LA. One day showcases the coastal and mid-city gardens and the other day showcases the inland and valley gardens so whatever your micro climate, you’re set.

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Saturday, April 2

Yet another great event by Atlas Obscura. Take a tour of a miniature and prop shop.

“LA-based artist Calder Greenwood is a prop-maker, set builder, model maker, director, writer, and production designer who creates larger than life installations and truly magical spaces, all from a single material—cardboard.”  Tour his studio in downtown LA.

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Saturday, April 2-April 3

A Current Affair Vintage Pop Up.

This beckons to me and will surely do damage to my bank account.

“A Current Affair is a major source of inspiration for designers with teams from Opening Ceremony, Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Band of Outsiders, Trina Turk, Ralph Lauren, Free People, and Mara Hoffman all regularly shopping the event. Prices range from $30-$3000, reflecting the vast array of goods on display- from heritage denim to estate jewelry.”

All the gowns and glitter you need from times gone by. However will I show restraint?

Friday, April 1-April 3

For those of you who want to dance dance dance, check out The Roaring Twenties Street Jam.

Dance classes and events all over the city all weekend ranging from speakeasies to carousal rides with music accompaniment.  I’m going to try to squeeze in an event.

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Thursday, April 7th

Pop-Up Magazine on tour.

“PopUp Magazine returns to The Theatre for an evening of storytelling, documentary film, radio, photography and performance. Some of our favorite writers and storytellers will perform never-before-seen work on stage, accompanied by visuals, recorded audio and live music. Nothing filmed, nothing recorded.”

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Saturday, April 9-10

Wanna relive your troubled teens? Like to cry? Then head to this.

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Sunday, April 10

The one, the only…Rose Bowl Flea.

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Tuesday, April 12-14

Dita Von Teese Burlesque: Strip, Strip, Hooray! Variety Show.

Fashion and burlesque icon and poster girl for an alabaster complexion, Dita Von Teese performs.

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Friday, April 15th

Odd Nights at the Autry.

Flea markets abound! Crafts, food vendors, live music. And who doesn’t love a cowboy museum? Select galleries will be open as well.

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Saturday, April 16th

Obscura Day.

If you do one thing this month, make it an event through Atlas Obscura. Atlas Obscura hosts events across the globe today.

More than 150 events in 35 states and 25 countries. All in one day. 

There’s something for everyone. I’m really looking forward to a visit to LA’s ethical taxidermist Allis Markham of Prey Taxidermy.

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I’m also going to the LA closing party and so should you. Check it out here. It’s taking place at Valley Relics.

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Sunday, April 17

Long Beach Antique Market.

By now you all know this is my favorite flea in the city. You can read about some of my favorite finds here. I actually just bought a sun hat and a collapsible wagon. It’s on.

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Thursday, April 21

25 to 5’s Anniversary Party

“A sophisticated cocktail lounge with a Mediterranean-style menu that caters to L.A.’s most discerning clientele, Riviera 31’s stunning and thought-provoking decor takes visitors on a visual journey through the evocative history of the French Riviera with photography by the legendary Edward Quinn. A unique mixology program includes masterfully crafted cocktails prepared table-side and the menu takes visitors on an epicurean journey through French coastal cuisine.”

All benefits are a donation to City of Hope.

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Friday, April 29-30

Bob’s Burgers Live. I’m going to let that just sit there for a minute.

I love this show so yes, I want to see what the hell a live version of it is.

Pretty much anything Loren Bouchard creates is pure gold so sign me up.

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Saturday, April 30th-May 1

Tired of flea markets yet? Me either. Head up to Paso Robles for the Three Speckled Hens Antique fair. Tickets are on sale now. Make a weekend of it.

Have a lovely April and remember, make time for a calming cup of tea. xoxo

 

Bootleggers and Poison Rings

When I was a kid we lived for a short time in the house my great-grandparents bought when they immigrated from Lebanon. It was a dark and foreboding structure at the end of dead end street with woods on two sides of it. The street actually doesn’t even exist anymore. The house looked a little bit like this one though not as beaten up.

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That house was full of mysteries. Trunks in the attic were full of tintype photos and old glass perfume bottles. There were giant wooden wardrobes to hide in and a basement so terrifying I used to run by the door to it as quickly as I could for fear something unearthly would reach out and grab me. In truth, it was just a creepy turn of the century cellar filled with old tools. That house imprinted on me. It has influenced most of my design choices as an adult. Thanks, great-grandparents.

During Prohibition my great-grandparents supplemented their income by being bootleggers, though neither of them drank. Apparently the neighbors did the same and soon enough they became competitors. I’m told the competition escalated to a full on Lebanese Hatfields-McCoys rivalry.

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You can read all about it in my memoir once it’s finally finished, but for now dearies that’s all you get. I only bring this up to explain the existence of a secret door in the floor of the house’s dining room. Under the rug there was a small door with a metal ring for a handle. The door led to a series of tunnels out into the backyard where the original copper still was stored along with 60 year old bottles of hooch. So that’s where all the magic moonshine happened.  From the day I learned of its existence I was hooked on secret hiding places, convinced it was my sole responsibility to safeguard our family jewels (I was 4 and there were no jewels).

Most of my childhood you could find me hiding inside a wardrobe or closet with a flashlight and a book or “spying.” Other days I was in the backyard with the dog digging holes to hide our valuables from potential jewel thieves (always up against those pesky jewel thieves). I left crayon maps around the house with secret codes on them, left trails of clues, and I watched way too much Fantasy Island. I also read too many Nancy Drew mysteries after I learned to read, of course.

(Note: That last cover may not be a legit Nancy Drew book title but it made me laugh)

My love of secret lairs, hidden doors, and decoder rings grew strong during the years we lived in the creepy ancestral home and hasn’t really died out yet. Just recently, I took my car in to be serviced and the mechanic asked if I knew about the secret compartment in my Mini Cooper. I did not. I’m not ashamed to say I cried a little. It now holds bandaids. I like secrets. Here are a few of my favorite hiding places.

An antique wardrobe as a portal to a workshop from House Beautiful. Apparently this is the home of designer couple who couldn’t agree on how to deal with the husband’s workshop. Brilliant.

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And more.

I’d prefer it if it were a secret laboratory behind these bookshelves instead of a conference room but alas.

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More secret doors in antique wardrobes hiding private rooms.I think Tim needs a secret evil magician’s lair.

I would have loved this wardrobe/secret play room as a kid, very Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, another childhood obsession I might add. Found on  Odee.com.

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Secret staircases? V.C. Andrews would be so proud.

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The Hidden Passageway Company will actually build you a secret room or a safe behind a painting. I think their bookcases are the best option. I imagine, with a little design nudge in the right direction, they could create some really unique pieces.

Tangent! Download this video on how to make a portrait that appears to follow you with its eyes then line your hallway with them or hang one in your guest room.

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Before there were safety deposit boxes, there was trick furniture. Valuables were stashed away in secret drawers. The most famous of which can be viewed in all its mechanical clockwork splendor here. You have to see it to believe it.

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The most brilliant pieces of secret compartment furniture ever made were created by the Roentgens, father and son, who engineered pieces for Europe’s royal families. They’re who Marie Antoinette went to when she wanted a desk. Several of their pieces were on display at the Met and one sold at Sotheby’s recently for 133,000 pounds.

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After I read this article from Collector’s Weekly on how to find secret compartments in antique furniture, I went home and inspected all my furniture. My lips are sealed, but let’s just say if you have the choice between buying an antique and a new piece of furniture, always go antique. You may find a surprise.

Traveling was especially dangerous in ye olde days so a lady needed to hide her valuables. This vanity case with a secret drawer sure is pretty, if impractical by today’s standards. It recently sold on Ebay which has quite a few antique boxes with secret drawers for sale.

You can always hide your goodies in your expansive library of first editions. Easy enough to carve out the pages or purchase one pre-made like this ca. 1889 copy of Montaigne on etsy.

 

Poison Rings: I loooooove these. Want to poison your enemy but remain stylish? Are you worried you might need to take state secrets to your premature grave? I’ll never talk! Poison rings became popular in Europe around the 16th century when just about everyone poisoned everyone. It was all the rage.

A triple compartment enamel poison ring ca. 1840 found on Antiquejewel.com.

This ring found on Collectors Weekly is actually a series of interlocking rings or a Gimmel ring that hides a secret message, albeit a sweet one.

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Sometimes the message isn’t so sweet as in this ring which bears occult symbols and has a poison chamber. No one sends a nice message with a ram’s head.

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Another interlocking Gimmel ring, this one with a message that life is short. Gather ye daisies, friends.

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More poison, more!

And this one belonged to Queen Elizabeth I. A sassy gal she was.

Jewelry with secret compartments was the precursor to mourning jewelry where pieces of hair were kept in lockets, pins, rings etc. Read all about it in my former post on mourning, “Death Becomes Her.”

And here’s more gold from Collector’s Weekly. These sure are clever, consider them day-to-evening-wear earrings. The covers come off to reveal the diamonds inside. Also handy for fooling jewel thieves!

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This intricately carved ball from the 16th century holds layers of biblical scenes and was used for prayer.

Last, but certainly not least, the nineteenth century invented pocket watches, clocks, compacts and, even cane handles with secret compartments to hide pornographic paintings. Early erotica at its most clever. Check out this recent auction for examples that will make you blush. Definitely not for the shy or prim. Here’s a fairly tame one.

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May all your jewels be safe and all your secrets well kept. xoxo

 

The Green Room

This St. Patrick’s day, let’s turn away from the corned beef and cabbage, the shamrocks and green beer. Let’s say no to the excessive drinking, the leprechauns, and whatever other terrible stereotypes we misguided Americans have placed on this Irish holiday and turn our sites to loftier goals. Let’s look to the pure color green and welcome it into our homes versus stepping over a puddle of it in the street.

There are few things sexier than a green velvet couch as the focus of a room.

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The verdant majesty above and many other fine green items were found on Eclectic Avenue.

Apparently Anthropologie loves green velvet as much as I do, look at the four below.

I coveted this green velvet Room and Board Murphy sofa until I remembered I have cats.

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Maybe you’re lucky enough to come by a vintage one:

Or just hit up Ikea. This one is tempting.

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Or you can have a velvet or leather one custom made from Roger and Chris. I love these guys. They are so nice and sent me leather samples and answered all my questions (regarding cats and leather). There is a chesterfield in my future when we move into our (hopefully Victorian) next house. You can also check out their show and as a special bonus, look at their amazing house on Apartment Therapy! I bet they’re a blast to hang out with.

If you’re ready to take the leap, consider green walls. I love how sophisticated and dark these rooms are.

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Or old worldly and charming.

Maybe you want a green roof. Warning: They’re very heavy, make sure your house can support one.NorweigenGreenRoofs20e23fff27166090b435f39ebbefd08d9green-roof-Norway

Or, dream big, how about a copper roof which will acquire a beautiful patina. Your own personal castle? Sigh.

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What about a green victorian house?

Or maybe a green greenhouse? Ok. Ok.

At the very least, consider some plants or dishes or even a botanical print.

Want more green inspiration? Get all the luck of the Irish on Miss Havisham’s Pinterest page. You’ll find minty kitchens, leafy upholstery and beautiful botanical installations.

 

Roadtrip Part One: I Want to be a Hearst

I have to be honest, when friends come to visit me in Los Angeles I feel a little pang of anxiety. I still don’t know where anything is here and driving still stresses me out. Don’t even get me started on parking. I know change is hard but I knew New York, I know it still. Everything is accessible by public transportation there. I knew New York so well I even knew tiny off beat places to go. In LA, you really have to know where you’re going and while there are things to do, they’re not always easy to get to. Truthfully, after about twenty-five houseguests, I feel like I keep doing the same things over and over.

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So when one of my favorite people on the planet came to visit recently, I decided this time we were going to take a road trip. It was time to see something you can’t see in New York and I really couldn’t look at the Venice canals again.

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While I lack the ability to parallel park, I do have a husband who doesn’t mind driving, loves adventure, and has a fantastic sense of direction. Lucky for me or I would have gone mad within a few months of living here. So, armed with road snacks and a destination, off we went.

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To Hearst Castle:

If you haven’t been to Hearst Castle, go. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. Perched high and overlooking a remote section of the California coast, every bit of it is jaw dropping. When I visited I kept thinking I should just sneak away, hide in some quiet room, and spend the night because it really should be my house, guys. It’s such a powerful impulse that the second time I visited I actually started looking around with intent to stow away. If I disappear one day, you’ll know where to find me.

You can imagine that the home of William Randolph Hearst, media magnate and the inspiration for Citizen Kane, might be something unusual and you would be correct. No expense was spared building the house in a time when the rest of the country was suffering from the stock market crash and the Great Depression.

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The tycoon himself.

“Hearst Castle’s history begins in 1865, when George Hearst purchased 40,000 acres of ranchland. In 1919,William Randolph Hearst inherited what had grown to more than 250,000 acres, and was dreaming of ways to transform it into a retreat he called La Cuesta Encantada—Spanish for “Enchanted Hill.” By 1947, Hearst and architect Julia Morgan had created Hearst Castle: 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways—all built to house Hearst’s specifications and to showcase his legendary art collection.” So sayeth the Hearst Castle website.

First, let’s take a moment to appreciate that Hearst hired a woman architect. Interesting. Second, consider the lengths Hearst went to; he even went as far as to have whole rooms from great houses in Europe purchased, shipped, and reassembled as part of the construction process. So elaborate were his building plans for Hearst castle, they were never fully realized in his lifetime.

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Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Mervyn LeRoy, and Hearst himself. Nice outfit, Billy boy.

The castle served as a playground for Hollywood’s elite who were bused in from Los Angeles each weekend to dine, drink, and dance the night away. When you were at Hearst Castle, you wanted for nothing; evening wear was even provided if you forgot yours. You could swim in either the outdoor pool or the indoor pool, play tennis, stroll the gardens, view the private zoo, or catch one of Hearst’s latest films in the movie theater.

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The largest swimming pool I have ever seen.
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Indoor pool, my favorite. The tiles are gold.
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Inside the movie theater. Photo by Alana Cowan (houseguest supreme)

There is a guest wing for both ladies and gentlemen, never the two shall meet (wink, wink) and a number of guest cottages around the property. The guest cottages are bigger than my house, by the way.

My favorite room has to be the gothic study.

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Not to be confused with the library which is filled with antiquities. Those vases along the ceiling? Those are Greek and Egyptian.

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Photo from everywhereonce.com
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Oh you know, just a bedroom.
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This room is called the “jewel box” but I just call it my bedroom.
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Meh.

And let’s not forget the great room.

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Now for the juicy part. Hearst was married to a former vaudeville performer, Millicent Veronica Willson who he fell in love with when she was a mere sixteen years old. She bore him five sons, one of which is the father of Patty Hearst who was famously kidnapped in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a cult. Under the influence of the cult, Hearst assisted in a bank robbery. Her sentence was commuted by President Carter and she was officially pardoned by President Clinton. She has gone on to appear in a number of John Waters movies including Serial Mom, Cry-Baby, Pecker, and Cecil B. DeMented. This only makes me love her and John Waters more, but back to Millicent Hearst.

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Patricia Hearst and John Waters

Poor Millicent rarely stayed at Hearst Castle though. She and her husband lived very separate lives. She lived in New York and became a great philanthropist. Her husband lived in California at Hearst Castle with his mistress, actress and comedienne, Marion Davies. They lived together quite openly though he and Millicent remained married until his death. How modern.

Millicent and Marion:

It’s said that the portrayal of Marion Davies in Citizen Kane so enraged Hearst that he launched a full on attack against the film and its director, Orson Welles. Even Welles later admitted that his depiction was unfair to Marion who was a very talented actress. Marion actually supported Hearst in later years when he hit hard times financially and was forced to sell off much of his art and property. She married eleven weeks after Hearst’s death in 1951. Read about the battle over Citizen Kane here.

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Hearst and Davies characters in Citizen Kane set in a mock up of the famous great room.

Hearst Castle and its impressive collection of art and artifacts was donated to the state of California and is a museum now but I have grand plans to occupy it. They’ll never find me. Never! I highly recommend the evening tours which aren’t offered year round so do your homework. The entire estate is decked out for an old Hollywood cocktail party and it all feels a little bit spooky. As an added bonus, it will be easier for me to sneak off and hide in the shadows in the evening.

Four hours from Los Angeles and you feel like you’ve escaped the city. You feel like you’ve escaped back in time. Well played, California, well played. As much as I hate to admit it, you definitely can’t find Hearst Castle in New York.

It’s a non-profit so go support your local castle. Hey Hearst Castle administrators, just list the guest rooms on AirBnB already. See? Fundraising issue solved.