A Tour of the Historic Mission Inn

by Lynn on January 27, 2016

Mission InnThere’s just something special about historic hotels that make you feel as though you’ve stepped back into time. I love the grand old buildings, steeped in the majestic splendor of days gone by. Earlier this month, my twin and I had the opportunity to spend a few days at the Mission Inn. The hotel sits prominently on an entire city block, anchoring the downtown area of Riverside California.

Originally, the property housed a modest two-story twelve-room adobe boarding house built in 1876. In 1880 Frank Miller purchased the house and the surrounding property from his father. By the turn of the century, Riverside was attracting east coast tourists wintering away from home, as well as investment entrepreneurs eager to profit from the local citrus industry. Mr. Miller recognized the need for a lodging establishment that could cater to the wealthy easterners. So in 1902, he built a four-story U-shaped resort hotel with a center courtyard.

Mission InnThe entrance, surrounded by citrus trees, is a copy of the San Gabriel Mission belfry.

Mission InnMission InnThis first section known as the Mission Wing, opened to guests in 1903 and contained architectural elements of the California Missions.

Mission Inn

Mission InnThe Cloister Wing was built in 1910, increasing the number of guest rooms and adding a large music room and other public spaces.

Mission InnThe Spanish Wing was completed by 1914, adding more guest rooms, the Spanish Patio, and an art gallery. Mr. Miller was an avid art enthusiast and built the gallery to house his growing art and artifact collection. Two additional floors of guest rooms were added to this wing in 1920.

Mission InnThe Anton clock above the Spanish Patio features symbolic figures of California history, which rotate every fifteen minutes. The clock chimes are reminiscent of the bell tower in Balboa Park. Having grown up in San Diego, we loved hearing the chimes all weekend! In fact, the whole atmosphere of the hotel reminded us so much of San Diego that we thought if Balboa Park ever had a hotel, it would look just like the Mission Inn!

Mission InnThe Rotunda Wing was completed in 1931 and features a five-story open-air spiral staircase. Decorative wrought-iron railings depict the initials of the 21 California Missions.

Mission InnMission InnAdjacent to the Rotunda is the beautiful St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, which houses an Eighteenth Century altar and Louis C. Tiffany stained glass windows. We got a glimpse of this bride and her father in the courtyard, waiting to walk down the aisle.

Mission InnIn 1956, the Miller family sold the Inn, where it experienced several changes in ownership, as well as the loss of many of the original art pieces and artifacts. The Inn was eventually purchased by the Historic Mission Inn Corporation, founded by long-time Riverside resident Duane R. Roberts. After undergoing an extensive renovation, the Mission Inn reopened to guests in 1992.

Mission InnThat same year, a modest holiday-lighting ceremony would start a new local tradition, and later become the acclaimed Festival of Lights. Lori and I were fortunate to be able to see it during our stay. It was just beautiful.

Mission InnThe hotel is an artistic and eclectic marvel. There are so many architectural details to see and so many little nooks and crannies to explore! There are stairs that lead to all sorts of floors and landings, and little alcoves that crop out of walkways overlooking the patio below. There is a roof-top rose garden, and cat-walks that afford a gorgeous view of the city. Beautiful fountains and hundreds of flowering pots adorn every level, and sparrows sing out of the colorful bougainvillea.

Lori and I spent several hours exploring; investigating each passageway, climbing each staircase, and finding new vistas at every turn.

Mission InnWe marveled at the old doors, the vintage metal spiral staircase tucked away in a tiny hallway corner, and the beautiful stain glass window partially covered by a newer wall addition. It was a glorious adventure!

And as a guests, we found the room very comfortable, the service impeccable, and the food delicious. This was the view from our room.

Mission Inn

Mission InnWe had afternoon tea in the Spanish Patio and it was just lovely. We even had a little local visitor stop by our table to share our scones with us!

Mission InnThe Mission Inn Hotel is an architectural delight, not to mention a really fun place to stay!

On the journey toward Home,


Held by God

After our family struggled through some serious medical challenges, my twin and I published a book about our story. Originally released in 2010, Held by God was written to encourage others who might also be feeling a bit overwhelmed by their life circumstances.

We are happy to announce that the book has been updated and re-released through WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan.

Here is a brief description:

How can we find hope that carries us through the difficulties in life?

At some point all of us face times of hardship, suffering, and despair that can turn our lives upside down and break our hearts wide open. During these trials we may feel alone, overwhelmed by circumstances, and afraid that God has abandoned us. In the fog of adversity, we hold our broken hearts in our hands and cry out to God, “Why?” “How could you let this happen?” “Where were you?”

Catastrophe can shake the stability of our world, leaving us to wonder about God’s love for us, and raising even more questions.

Why am I suffering?

Will this trial ever end?

How will I get through this?

Does God even see me?

In Held by God, the authors share their own struggle with these questions as the family travels an uncertain road through three serious medical challenges; catamenial pneumothorax, renal artery stenosis, and cancer. Written in a conversational style that weaves Biblical truths throughout the narrative, the book intertwines the authors’ story with the accounts of Job, Paul, and King David, among others, to provide unique examples of God’s unchanging character. Understanding God’s faithfulness and recognizing his provision, allows us to find rest during times of turmoil and gives us a hope that endures.

Held by God

Held by God is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, WestBow Press, and other online book sellers.

You can read reviews, watch the book trailer, and access links to follow us on social media, at the Held by God web site.

And for all you BookLook bloggers out there, 50 free e-copies of Held by God will be available for download starting this month, so keep an eye out for us!

On the journey toward Home,


vintage platesNow that the Christmas shopping season is officially underway, I’d like to introduce some of the new items listed this week in my Etsy shop, The Drawing Room at Pemberley!

vintage platesVintage china plates make lovely gifts for collectors. I have several dinner and salad plates made by Dresden, Rosenthal, Aynsley, Royal Bayreuth, and Spode. Many of these are in vibrant colors with floral designs and gold embellishments.

teacup bird nestA white dove adorns this arrangement of pink sweet peas and carnations.

teacup bird nestsThese bird nest silk floral arrangements feature re-purposed or repaired cups and saucers. Colorful birds sit in nests of lime green reindeer moss and assorted flowers, leaves and berries.

teacup bird nestBlue hydrangea and fuchsia bougainvillea surround a sky blue and orange bird atop a chintz cup and saucer set in coordinating colors.

vintage teacupsSeveral vintage teacups and trios are available in a variety of colors and patterns. Makers include Shelley, Royal Albert, Coalport, Limoges, and Paragon.

vintage teacupsSome have an Art Deco design, while others feature a Chintz pattern or a cartouche motif with floral insets.

vintage jewelry frameVintage jewelry frames are handmade one-of-a-kind treasures. These feature vintage jewelry, rhinestones, and beads. The back of each frame is trimmed in black velvet, and has a kickstand for tabletop placement.

vintage jewelry framesThe white, cream, crystal and silver frame holds an 8 x 10 inch picture in portrait view. The sky and royal blue frame holds a 5 x 7 inch picture, and the yellow, lime, and aquamarine frame holds a 4 x 6 inch picture. The two smaller frames each hold a 2 x 3 inch picture in landscape view.

vintage jewelry frames

vintage jewelry frame

vintage china tiered serversTiered servers feature vintage china plates, which are hand-drilled and assembled with new silver separator hardware. Plates are matched together by color and pattern.

vintage china tiered server

vintage china tiered serverThe servers include vintage plates from England, Germany, and France, and are assembled in one to four tiers.

vintage china tiered serversIf you are looking for unique gifts, please visit my shop and take a turn around the drawing room!

On the journey toward Home,


elegant buffetA few years ago I coordinated a large open house event at work, to celebrate the retirement of a high level manager. Due to his rank, hundreds of invitations went out to colleagues and dignitaries. The goal was to serve food and beverages for 200-400 people who would wander into the venue over a period of four hours. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, it all had to be provided on a shoe-string budget! So, were we able to pull it off? Yes! Thanks to some volunteers, a bit of planning and a lot of organization, my small team hosted a very elegant buffet. These pictures are from that event.

elegant buffetSo recently, my supervisor asked if I would again coordinate a nice buffet to follow an important ceremony at work. Although this event would be smaller than the last and over two hours instead of four, there was literally no budget at all so my organizational skills were even more necessary! In this post, I thought I’d walk you through the process I used to pull this event together. Hopefully I can share some helpful tips that you’ll find useful when planning your own event.

Buffet table: I used four conference tables pushed together to form a square center with two side arms, making a double-sided buffet. The first step is to determine the overall size and configuration of the table and whether the buffet will be served from one side (like up against a wall) or from two sides. When configuring tables, consider the distance guests will have to reach to access platters.

buffet3Serving pieces: For both events I used silver, crystal, and white ceramic to give the table a formal look. Two of the platters were plastic but had the appearance of leaded glass. Only a few of the pieces were mine; most were borrowed from my sister, and some from work colleagues. I ordered silver swirl plastic plates and decorative paper napkins online, and bought the cups at a local party supply store. Whether you borrow or rent, the goal here is to use styles and colors that are complimentary.

buffet4Tablecloths and risers: I purchased the tablecloths online for the first event, so I already had them on hand for the second. Tablecloths can be expensive but they are a one-time expense, or no expense at all if you can borrow them. I used eight rectangular tablecloths—four to cover the tables, and four to drape over the risers, which are then scrunched around the edges in a loose pattern. Setting platters at alternating heights will add interest to the buffet design. For risers, I used paper mache floral containers, which can be purchased from a floral supply vendor. These work well because they are inexpensive, uniform in size, light-weight, and sturdy. They also provide a wide base to put large platters on, alleviating fears that a plate may tip and fall off the riser. Large Tupperware-type containers will work just as well, as long as they are the same size if symmetry is important to your table design.
buffet5Serve ware placement: I started with a diagram, taking into consideration the dimensions of the table and the size of the serving pieces. It is essential to plan this out if you have a lot of pieces to coordinate. In our first event, I used 24 pieces of serve ware, and 18 in the second, so I measured each piece and planned the placement on paper before ever setting up the table. I prefer balance and symmetry, so I paired like-size pieces to be situated opposite of one another. For example, I had two 24 inch silver platters so I placed them at two diagonals. Similarly, risers and tiered servers were placed in opposite pairs so the table layout would be balanced. On the diagram, I also planned space for flowers, plates, and napkins. For all pieces, I worked to maintain a convenient reach distance for guests.

Menu: Since our event was an open house and guests would be served at different times, we chose an appetizer and dessert buffet with items that could be served at room temperature. And because we had a limited budget, most of the food was provided by employees who volunteered to bake or purchase what we needed. They’d tell me if they were bringing 50 mini cupcakes or 100 tea sandwiches, and I would make a list of each item and the number of pieces. While this may sound a bit silly, it was the only way to determine how much food we’d have, and whether or not we’d have enough. This was really important for the first event, since we thought 200 guests were likely, but knew 400 guests could show up. Food can be a huge expense when hosting a party, but with some organization of volunteers, it doesn’t have to be. And with all of the recipes now available online, even people with no cooking skills such as myself, can make all sorts of really tasty and professional-looking food.

Calculating the amount of food needed: Using 8-inch dessert plates, I estimated 6-8 individual food items per plate, and then multiplied that by the maximum number of people we expected. The benefit of serving food in individual pieces rather than something that can be spooned out, is that you get a much better idea of how many people the food you have will serve. For example, 6-8 appetizers per person multiplied by 300 guests is 1800-2400 pieces. This means I need to find 24 employees who are each willing to make 100 appetizers. For a large scale event, the list of who is bringing what and how many, really comes in handy! Using small plates is also helpful for keeping guests from shall we say, over-indulging at the buffet table! The goal for our two events was to provide light refreshments for guests while they mingled, so our food selections and plate sizes reflected that.

Assigning food to platters: Part of this exercise is determining how much food each platter can accommodate. The other part is to arrange food so that there is some sort of order to it. For example, I knew the tea sandwiches would take up a lot of room, so I assigned them to the four largest platters in the center square. Food items that required more than one platter were placed on opposite sides, again for balance. For our first event we had a back-fill room, where two helpers were assigned to re-fill platters as needed throughout the event. With people showing up at different times, I didn’t want guests to be confronted with half-empty platters because they arrived in the third hour instead of the first hour.

celosia roses dahlias hypericumFlowers: For a table of this size, I thought a tall arrangement was needed. I used two vases to create a submerged design at the base and an elegant arrangement above. The bottom vase had submerged Mokara orchids, while the top was adorned with a fall festival of color! I used ti leaves to anchor the center, and then surrounded them with roses, dahlias, orchids, hypericum and celosia. A bit of curly willow gave it even more height. Two smaller vases of orchids were placed on the side arms of the table.

submerged orchids

buffet6Preparation timeline: Once the food was planned and the supplies procured, I prepared a set up schedule outlining each task that still needed to be done. The key to good organization is that everything goes on the time line. My schedule started the week before the event with cleaning and polishing of the serving pieces. The day before the event, I made a trip to the Flower Market downtown, completed the vase arrangements, and set up the buffet table. I knew the morning of the event would be chaotic, so I recorded detailed instructions for each food item; who was bringing what food and when, which items had to be kept refrigerated or frozen, and which food had to be assembled on site. Taking the time to consider the details and doing a little contingency planning in case something goes wrong, can keep you from having a big meltdown later if something does go wrong.

elegant buffet submerged orchidsOrganizing help: It is really important to have adequate help on hand the day of the event. When I arrived at 6:30 that morning, my colleagues were already out in front of the building setting up for the ceremony. The unit delivering some of the food and all of the beverages was already there, and I was approached for instructions before I even got through the front door! It was really helpful to have a few people on hand to assist me. While I was dealing with other issues, they were able to finish some last minute food prep, actually plating all of the food items on their assigned platters, and refrigerating most of them so that everything could be placed within just a few minutes right before the reception started.

buffet tableHosting these two events was a lot of hard work, but it was not as expensive as it could have been. We borrowed instead of bought and engaged volunteers instead of caterers. That saved us a ton of money and allowed us to host our elegant receptions on a shoe-string budget. It’s funny to hear the rave reviews from our guests who are convinced they attended a lovely catered affair, when essentially they came for pot-luck, but just didn’t know it! It’s all in the presentation…

elegant buffet
On the journey toward Home,


Women of Faith Celebrates 20 Years of Ministry in the Final Conference Tour

September 26, 2015
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Alas, my sister and I have attended our last Women of Faith conference. For thirteen years, we’ve set aside four days in September to join 10,000 other ladies in a packed arena for a weekend of spiritual refreshment. But sadly, this is the final conference tour for Women of Faith. The conference started in 1996, […]

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Finding Answers to Life’s Questions at the SoCal Harvest Crusade

August 19, 2015
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Are you weary? Do you carry burdens of guilt or shame? Do you want to find rest in the midst of this mad world? Are you searching for meaning? Would you be surprised to learn that God knows you, loves you and has a purpose for your life? If yes is the answer to any […]

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Patriotic Fourth of July Red White and Blue Strawberries

July 1, 2015
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I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it looked like an easy-to-make treat for the Fourth of July! These are just chocolate dipped strawberries with a dab of sugar sprinkles. Here’s what I used: -Two containers of strawberries (about 40 pieces) -One 11 ounce package of Ghirardelli white chocolate baking chips -About 5 ounces […]

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June 22, 2015
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Today marks eight years since my mom went to be with the Lord and I still miss her every day. And while the grief has softened over time, her absence leaves a conspicuous void in my life. I catch myself longing to call her—to hear her voice and to talk with her again. I yearn […]

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Remembering Those Who Sacrificed All

May 24, 2015
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Over this Memorial Day weekend, we honor the brave men and women of our military who sacrificed all to secure and maintain the freedoms we enjoy. President Bush had some poignant words for this day in 2003. On Memorial Day, Americans place flags on military graves, walk past a wall of black granite in Washington, […]

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DIY- Easy Steps for Making a Gorgeous Bridal Bouquet

April 20, 2015
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In today’s Do-it-Yourself world, many brides are taking a hands-on approach to wedding decorations and flowers. This post will cover step-by-step instructions for making a hand-tied type bridal bouquet. While a true hand-tied bouquet is a little more complicated, these tips will provide some easy short cuts to achieve the same look. The instructions are […]

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