Monday Mood: Mission Inn


I had the unexpected pleasure of visiting the unique and magnificent Mission Inn Hotel and Spa during this holiday season along with a splendid Festival of Lights that light up the hotel and surrounding areas.  Located in Riverside, California (about a 90-minute drive from Palm Springs with little traffic) and with only two more days until Christmas, let’s just say that this helped get me into the spirit. These photos barely do it justice.

Photo: d. king

The Cornerstone of Downtown Riverside

It is the most unique hotel in America. It’s a monastery, a museum, a fine hotel, a home, a boardinghouse, a mission, an art gallery and an aviator’s shrine. It combines the best features of all of the above. If you are ever in any part of California, don’t miss the famous Mission Inn of Riverside.” – Will Rogers

Photo: d. king

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, is a historic landmark hotel in downtown Riverside, California.  Many presidents (including President Kennedy) stayed there and Richard Nixon married Pat at this hotel.

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

The story of the Mission Inn stretches over more than a century and began with the Miller family, migrants to California from Tomah, Wisconsin.  In 1874, civil engineer C.C. Miller arrived in Riverside, began work on a water system, and with his family, began a small boarding house in the center of town.

The Mission Inn’s rise to greatness began in the late 1800’s when wealthy Easterners and Europeans flocked to Riverside in search of both a warmer winter climate and also a way to invest in the area’s profitable citrus industry. By the 1890’s, Riverside was the richest city per capita in the United States. The consistent influx of tourists to Riverside made Frank Miller, the Master of the Inn, recognize the dire need for a grand resort hotel.

It was in that moment that the evolution of The Mission Inn began. Frank Miller opened the first wing, The Mission, of his new hotel in 1903, which was built in Mission-Revival style architecture and incorporated different structural elements of the 21 California Missions. Mr. Miller went on to add three more wings to his hotel: the Cloister, the Spanish and the final addition, the Rotunda wing, in 1931.

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 1996, dates back to 1876.

Horse drawn carriages for a fairytale ride. Where’s my Prince?  Photo: d. king


Happy Holidays!


Header Photo (red ribbon on building) – d. king

Art/Culture/History: “The Post”

OPENING NIGHT – Palm Springs International Film Festival 2018 (PSIFF)

Clip from the film

There is a saying about relationships in Washington: If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. – Katharine Graham

The feature film began with a panel discussion with the key players on the stage of Palm Springs High School.

Streep, Hanks & Spielberg

Katharine Graham for those of you unfamiliar, was America’s first female Fortune 500 CEO. As the renowned publisher of ‘The Washington Post,’ she guided the newspaper to national prominence, most notably when it published The Pentagon Papers and reported on the Watergate scandal.

Meryl Streep stars as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks as editor Ben Bradlee in Steven Spielberg’s gripping true life drama behind the publication of the Pentagon Papers in Nixon’s White House. This history making movie at the time of an incensed, vindictive president meant risking careers and the future of the newspaper.

A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government.

Decades of government lies which led the U.S. into the mire of the Vietnam War were lifted from top secret files. The risk of publishing them was greater than great.

Spielberg, Streep, Hanks

Words to live by:

It’s hard to remake decisions and even harder to rethink nondecisions. Sometimes you don’t really decide, you just move forward, and that is what I did—moved forward blindly and mindlessly into a new and unknown life.

A long time ago I had to decide whether to be a lady who lunched or a women who worked. – Katharine Graham, Personal History

The festival runs until January 15th.  Check out the film and events lineup here:


Culture/History: The Birth of a Nation

Last night I attended the Vancouver International Film Festival’s  (VIFF) premiere of “The Birth of a Nation.” 

birth1 Nate Parker, the films handsome lead actor who is also responsible for writing, producing and directing the cinematic drama about slave rebellion in the deep south was in attendance.  He started off the evening by introducing the movie and saying that getting the script off the ground took several years and several dollars to complete but he’s very proud of the final outcome.  As so he should be. This is an important historical film about a man who virtually got lost in the shuffle, his story being told for the very first time. It is a disturbing masterpiece!

The movie was filmed in Savannah, Georgia where a lot of the Atlantic slave trade originated.  I visited a friend living in Savannah and was charmed by the beauty of the city but not by stories about the past.  The movie struck a chord.

In short, Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher orchestrates an uprising as he witnesses countless cruelties against himself and his fellow slaves.  This strong willed man decides enough is enough when he resolves to help lead his people to freedom.

Many of the scenes are not easy to witness and as a result there were not many dry eyes in the audience.  Damn, I didn’t bring any tissues!


When I first heard about the subject matter I was not too interested especially after having seen twelve years a slave, the colour purple and many other slave related films.  While the film is not without the expected appalling brutality and violence, this true story is different from the others. It is well worth seeing. And it makes you question how far we’ve really come in light of current issues evidenced with many recent black shootings.  So maybe it has to be told time and time again….to get the point across…people are people and should be treated equally.birth2

The film will be theatrically released in the United States on October 7, 2016 by Fox Searchlight Pictures.




Hermès at Work – What Lies Behind

Whether it be scarves, handbags, watches, saddles, porcelain or clothing  the world of Hermès is made up of style, art, history and luxury at its finest.

The Trademark Orange Thread
My favourite colour – The Trademark Orange Thread
The Saddle
The SADDLE that brings out the equestrian side in all of us
The Saddle Maker
The Saddler, a designer in his own right

The quest for excellence best describes any Hermès objet désirable…and they come in many fabrications or manières, as the French call it. The incomparable workmanship  requires skillful hands with intelligent minds.  It takes time, material, tools, talent and attention to the tiniest detail to produce anything from this famous French house.

The silk roller meticulously adds the finishing touches with silk thread to every scarf.
The silk roller meticulously adds the finishing touches with silk thread to every scarf
A Silk Print
A Silk Print for a scarf

It comes with a price of course, but anything worthwhile does.

I’ve always been curious about the unrivaled craftmanship behind the name, so it was totally amazing to rendez-vous with some of the experts who help produce the famous scarves, handbags, watches, saddles, gloves and porcelain.

The pop-up traveling exhibition was in Vancouver at the Jack Poole Plaza by the Olympic Cauldron with the beautiful mountain backdrop for only five days, September 21-25th.  Whoever was lucky enough to step inside got a little glimpse into a unique world with live on site demonstrations by authentic craftspeople all of whom are of French descent with cute French accents.

Porcelain from Start to Finish
Steps for Porcelain Plates on their way to completion
The Porcelain Painter. They are decorated near Limoges in France.
The Porcelain Painter. They are decorated near Limoges in France.
The Watchmaker keeps time ticking with hundreds of miniscule components.
The Watchmaker keeps time ticking with hundreds of miniscule components.


I have a new found appreciation for my Hermès silk scarves since I know the steps towards completion are time consuming and numerous.  I have yet to come across a silk scarf so lovely.  Or a handbag, or a multitude of other things come to think of it. 

The Glover
The Glover transforms a Skin into a Second Skin
Finished Silk Scarf
Finished Silk Scarf
The Kelly Bag
The Graceful Kelly Bag

The finished product in all its perfection

Photos: d. king

 Have you seen it?

**And, if that wasn’t enough I got a smile from both Will & Kate and a wave from Kate (a royal bonus) from the car they were in (their window was completely rolled down) when their motorcade passed by on the way to visit Vancouver Coastguard.  I was out walking my dog in the direction of the Coastguard at the exact time they passed by.  I was not with the tons of people waiting by the sign that said “viewing area”.  My dog was sitting down where the cars were passing by wearing his bright red bandana.  I was all in leather.  I think we attracted their attention (I like to think of it that way).  A couple was standing beside us and they couldn’t believe it.  A little bit of magic for our Sunday. So I bought a lottery ticket right after.  If  you don’t see any more posts I’ll be in the Bahamas!  I heard it’s better there.

Art/Culture: Dressing Downton

For those few who are completely oblivious to the popular series Downton Abbey®….and who are these pour souls? Downton has nothing to do with Downtown.downton7This is one series that I admit to have binge watched.  Aside from the exquisite costumes (imagine getting dressed up like that everyday?), I wasn’t even expecting to like it all that much. I’m pretty particular about what I watch in general, but the quality of the overall show, scenery, characters and let’s face it the clothing had me hooked.  And Maggie Smith alone is mesmerizing. I also loved Shirley Maclaine’s cameo.downton2downton1

Guess I have an addictive personality when it comes to drama, intrigue, history, fashion, romance, power and politics. And everything sounds much more enticing with a British accent.  So I joined the masses and ended up binge-watching season six on Netflix.  Apparently it was one of the most widely watched television dramas in the world. At least I wasn’t alone.downton3downton4

Which brings me to the very point of this blog post Dressing Downton; a traveling exhibit that showcases nearly 40 period costumes and jewelry from the hit series!

Changing Fashion for Changing Timesdownton5

Set in the early twentieth century, Dressing Downton traces the events that uprooted British society on the eve of World War I and ushered in the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age and a new way of life.

“Dressing Downton highlights a time in British history when industry, fashion, and politics were changing drastically,” expressed Amy Noble Seitz, Founder & CEO of EDG.  “This exhibition quickly filled its three-year tour which says something about our obsession with all things British and our thirst for Fashion.”

About the Exhibit:

This exhibit started off appropriately at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina and will go on to tour other North American cities including Chicago, Cincinnati, Nashville & various cities in California and Florida through 2017.

The exhibition is designed and produced by *Exhibits Development Group (EDG – see below) in collaboration with award winning costumier, Cosprop Ltd; London, Museum of London, NBCUniversal International Television Production and Carnival Films, PBS Masterpieces.

How many of you have watched this series?

For more information on exhibit tour and dates please visit:

New on Netflix: Janis: Little Girl Bluejanis

Never a voice like this. Watch this fascinating documentary on the life and career of super singer-songwriter Janis Joplin.  See archival footage and interviews with Janis, her family, friends and fellow musicians that highlight her rise to fame in the 60’s. Aside from her unfortunate battle with alcohol and heroin addiction I found a whole new appreciation for Janis Joplin.


*Exhibits Development Group (EDG) is dedicated to the development, production, marketing and distribution of traveling museum exhibitions and cultural projects. EDG also serves as a partner to other exhibition organizers, museums, foundations and collection owners in the U.S. and abroad, in the care and stewardship of their exhibitions and collections. EDG’s mission is to initiate and promote international cultural and intellectual exchange by bringing high-quality traveling exhibitions of art, science and history to broad and diverse audiences. For more information, please visit

Travel: Roman Holiday

The New Trevi Fountain, Rome. photo: Colleen Kohse
The Newly Opened Trevi Fountain, Rome. photo: Colleen Kohse


Audrey Hepburn & Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday
Audrey Hepburn & Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (taken from google images)

I’ve been meaning to do a  travel post since my last holiday but it’s been so crazy lately that I ended up having to hire a friend to go around Italy to capture some nice shots for this post.

Well that’s not exactly true. It’s just that a friend got to go to places in Italy that I’ve not yet been to and took some remarkable photos and of course she had the most amazing time.  Because as she puts it “when you need a ‘spiritual’ lift, there’s no better place than the sights and delights of Italy!”  So much history, so much art, so much fashion, so much food, so much style, so much…….everything.

My new favourite scooter. photo: Colleen Kohse
My new favourite scooter. photo: Colleen Kohse

I agree. Twice I’ve been to Italy but never made it to Rome.  Crazy, right?  I’ve seen Milan, Venice and almost every quaint little corner of Tuscany including Florence.  On my second visit I had to make a choice for a little side trip either to Rome or to Florence. Because of my timing situation I chose Florence.

Sunset in Florence. photo: Colleen Kohse
Sunset in Florence. photo: Colleen Kohse

Florence is smaller, there’s lots of fabulous famous art everywhere and it’s such a beautiful, walkable city.  I need to make a separate trip to Rome.  And then I need to go to Lake Como and Capri.  Sooooooon!

These pictures will whet your appetite for your next viaggio molto bella.

Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo, on Lake Como. photo: Colleen Kohse
Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo, on Lake Como. photo: Colleen Kohse
photo: Colleen Kohse
photo: Colleen Kohse
Outside a perfumery in Montipulsiano. photo: Colleen Kohse
Outside a perfumery in Montipulsiano. photo: Colleen Kohse
Sorrento. photo: Colleen Kohse
Sorrento. photo: Colleen Kohse
Mini mannequins (taken thru window) Rome. photo: Colleen Kohse
Mini mannequins (taken thru window) Rome. photo: Colleen Kohse
photo: Colleen Kohse
photo: Colleen Kohse
Funky Hotel Furniture. photo: Colleen Kohse
Funky Hotel Furniture. photo: Colleen Kohse


Colleen’s impressionIt’s all about colour in Italy. From pastels to brights, the shops are springing up in splendid colours.

Market in Como. photo: Colleen Kohse
Market in Como. photo: Colleen Kohse
photo: Colleen Kohse
photo: Colleen Kohse
Holy Cannollis
Holy Cannollis.  photo: Colleen Kohse
Anti Pasta
Anti Pasta in Como Market.  photo: Colleen Kohse

tanti motivi

Ciao Bella!
Ciao Bella!










Art/Culture – EVITA “the hit Broadway musical” comes to Vancouver

Vancouver Opera’s Company Premiere of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award winning smash hit EVITA will open at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 30th.


Few women in history have had the allure of Eva Perón,  She once said My biggest fear in life is to be forgotten.”  Her legend lives on….

A very brief bio because the musical will explain everything in about 2 hours and 45 minutes including a short intermission:

*Don’t cry for me Argentina

Maria Eva Duarte de Perón was born out of wedlock on May 7, 1919, in Los Toldos, Argentina.  Eva (commonly known as Evita), left school when she was 16 and went to Buenos Aires in the 1930s to pursue her dream of becoming a star. She had reasonable success as an actress before marrying Juan Perón in 1945, who became president of Argentina the following year. Eva Perón used her position as first lady to fight for women’s suffrage and improving the lives of the poor, and became a legendary figure in Argentine politics. She died in 1952.

I’m really looking forward to this musical especially having been to Buenos Aires and since visiting the mausoleum of Evita in La Recoleta Cemetary.  It is most definitely one of the most amazing cemeteries I’ve ever seen.

Tickets are selling out for the VO’s brand new full-scale production taking place at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre with only 6 performances, from April 30th – May 8, 2016.  It has won 7 Tony Awards.

La Recoleta Cemetary - CNN listed it as one of the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world.
La Recoleta Cemetary – CNN listed it as one of the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world.

VO’s Evita will star three seasoned Broadway stars with international followings.

Ramin Karimloo will star as Che. Mr. Karimloo has played both Jean Valjean (Les Misérables) on Broadway and The Phantom (Phantom of the Opera) in London’s West End. He was personally selected by Andrew Lloyd Webber to star in the London World Premiere of the Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies. This will be his first appearance as Che.

Caroline Bowman will play Evita, a role she has also played in the Broadway revival and on tour in the United States. She also starred in the Broadway productions of Wicked (as Elphaba) and in Kinky Boots.

evita1John Cudia will play Perón. Mr. Cudia is the first and only performer to have played the roles of The Phantom and Jean Valjean on Broadway. Equally at home on opera, theatre and concert stages, Mr.Cudia is a lyric tenor who has also sung Alfredo in La traviata with Lyric Opera of the North.


I have one thing that counts, and that is my heart; it burns in my soul, it aches in my flesh, and it ignites my nerves: that is my love for the people and Peron.” – Evita

She will not be forgotten

*Don’t Cry for me Argentina is a song composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tim Rice. It was first recorded by Julie Covington on the 1976 concept album Evita, and was later included in the 1978 stage musical of the same name.   It appeared at the opening and near the end of the show, initially as the spirit of the dead Eva exhorting the people of Argentina not to mourn her, and finally during Eva’s speech from the balcony of Casa Rosada.