My name is Diana Elizabeth. I'm a journalist, photographer, graphic designer and FORD model who had memorable days reporting from the LA red carpet for E! Online. I love sharing my life as a creative professional and the things that I discover along the way - with camera in hand.

My husband and I live in a restored 1952 red brick home that sits on a former citrus grove in Phoenix. I love traveling, home improvement projects, sewing, gardening, and John Mayer and Twilight. This is a glimpse into my life and work.

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IMG_1643_edited Kayaking down the Russian River in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Saturday was a perfect day to spend in Nor Cal.  I sat in the front of the kayak with my eyes closed and felt the cool gentle breeze blow against my face.  I felt the warmth of the sun on my skin – the sound of the water, birds, I took life in.  I tend to do that when I’m on vacation, traveling brings out a whole different side of me, I become more peaceful, relaxed, and appreciative.  A little confession – I’ve gotten tired of seeing the same boring things, I’ve had it!  So being home in California where I took nearly everything for granted, well, I’m going to enjoy it to its fullest!

Dad planned an awesome two hour trip kayaking through River’s Edge.  You can rent a canoe or a kayak – I’d say go the kayak route.

IMG_1669_edited Tank: Alexander Wang / Pants: Forever21 (similar, love these) / Shoes: Puma H-Street (in black) / Hat: J.Crew

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What a view for a Saturday, eh?  These photos don’t do it justice, I swear to you it was just as lovely as can be.

Hey, mom and dad!

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While we were too busy smiling for a selfie…

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Just like that, mom and dad passed us!  Look at them go!

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I did row, just a little – for this photo.

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This is when I laid back, eyes closed, and thanked God I was back home.  And that little bit of skin exposed created the most awesome ankle tan which compliments my South of France boat tan.

I thought this looked like an Abercrombie ad, these young boys in this metal canoe.

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You had to row a bit before you got headwind downstream which would make it a bit difficult if you didn’t make it back before 3 pm – the river closes at 5:30.  The person in back is the captain and steers the kayak, while the one up front is…sitting pretty?

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There are parts where you must get out and drag your canoe or kayak across because the water is too shallow.  Mr. Wonderful helped my mom and dad.  We tried to pull the kayak while I was still sitting in it but I suppose even in one inch of water that doesn’t work, and I’m not that light so I had to hop out and get my feet wet.

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Then I said, “Let’s take pictures!”

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Then we hopped back into our kayaks and kept rowing.

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To when we saw the finish line, the bridge!  I love this photo.

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If you decide to go tips:

  • The water is shallow, you will most likely be able to stand if you fell in – only some parts are a bit deeper but if you know how to swim, you’ll be fine.
  • There’s little chance you’ll flip unless you run right into a tree at a turn – they tell you to put your weight forward so you don’t tip.  It works.
  • Wear sunblock all over your legs or long pants like I did – dad and Benjamin got burned on their knees. Remember you will be out there for 2 hours!
  • It’s not as hard or bad as you think, super relaxed.  Of course, I didn’t do much work, haha!
  • The Russian River is class one which means, it’s weak sauce, and you can handle it!

Diana Elizabeth’s dad loves to plan adventurous activities, he’s quite active.  He also joked Benjamin went too fast that he felt obligated to catch up and afterwards he was super sore!

Life, Travel, West Coast

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These giant zucchini’s and I have something in common.  We’re both California grown!  Here I am at our neighbor’s home back home in Nor Cal, showing off some of his garden finds.  Steve has become a friend of my parents and they talk about him and his garden often.  I finally had the chance to take a peek and loved what I saw!

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Pretty lemon cucumber, right?  I thought my dad’s colorful Hawaiian shirt would be a great backdrop.

Can you see Steve?  He was hidden within the lush tomato vines and tossing tomatoes to my dad.

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Just beautiful!  There are a lot of potted flowers to attract the bees to pollinate.

I learned that when you clip basil, you should put it in water immediately – so have a can of water next to you as you harvest to prevent the basil from wilting.

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I think dad looked like he won a pageant and the basil was his winning floral bouquet.  Look what Steve sent us home with!

Oh, and this photo, was completely Steve’s idea, I think he should come with me on my shoots.

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Diana Elizabeth ate those tomato cherries as a snack one morning.  Add a basil leaf and you’ve got an even more fun snack!

Home

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Enjoy a sweet morning in a peach orchard at Schnepf Farms.

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Time to make some peach pies!  Thanks Schnepf Farms for your hospitality!  Models: Julie + Amaya Read for PHOENIX magazine.

Equipment used: Canon 5D Mark III + battery grip / 50mm f/1.2L / 35mm f/1.4L / UNDFIND One Bag + Bloom Theory Strap / Hufa Lens Cap Clip + Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket

Diana Elizabeth thinks families should hire a photographer for lifestyle experiences such as these, what a great way to document a fun sweet time!

Photography, Portfolio

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Do you have a small closet?  Our home was built in 1952 so my answer is yes.  Mr. Wonderful uses the guest room (also his office) closet and we also utilize dresser drawers for other clothes.  The hallway closet holds all of our coats, I am so happy that I was able to give many away and downsize.  The “DI” in blue rhinestones was a gift from my sweet Nicole many years ago, it makes me happy just to see it.  The photo is my mom in a frame, she is actually hiding the electrical panel, but I like seeing my mom every day, Hi Mom!

I took a day to reorganize my closet and thought I’d share some space sharing tips and how to have fun with a small space.

Use thin uniform hangers

If anything, a little OCD is highly rewarded if you use uniform hangers, it makes things look cleaner.  I used to have pink wood velvet hangers but they wouldn’t fit in this tiny closet so I left them at my townhome.  These thin velvet hangers are by Real Simple (similar).  If I were to do it over again, I’d order the beige color because lighter colors make spaces look bigger. If you want a fun closet, try these hot pink heart hangers - these would be great for a fun gift or special items you want to hang!

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Use a board to make a shelf

I use metal shelf dividers (similar) and found a board leftover from a project and placed it on top to hold more purses.  You can pick one up at Home Depot and they will cut it to size for you.  I am now using all the space overhead that I can.

Do you use dust bags for your purses?  You should, especially if you live in a dusty state like Arizona!  Designer purses always come with one and you should always use them, take care of your investments!

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I also use metal shelves – also can be found in the kitchen section of stores and I put my shorts above my folded camisoles.

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I decided to fold my scarves on the shelf instead of clipping them to hangers.

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Use the space behind the door

Not to waste any space, I use this over the door shoe rack - this one holds more shoes I might need to get it one day.  These are not all my shoes, I actually have a ton in our laundry room which varies depending on the season.

Right now boots are stored away and all my wedges, flats and flip flops which I wear regularly right now are in our mudroom.

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Make shelf space if necessary

We have a great handyman named Dennis who does a lot of work for us.  I wanted a built in dresser like area with a shelf.  The basket is holding all necessary travel goodies, travel slippers, pillow, blanket, pills, tons of see-thru zip bags and shoe bags.  I love bags, I should probably get rid of some but I’m a bag hoarder.  If you ever opened up my luggage you would just see everything in bags.

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The shelf is great to leave my panama hat undisturbed and a few cute umbrellas.

Install hooks everywhere you can

These petal hooks are from Anthropologie.

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See this hidden hook?

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Use baskets to store unattractive items

I call tennis shoes unattractive because they don’t fit my lifestyle.  I rarely wear them so I put them in a little basket around the corner away from eyesight.  For things you don’t use that often, it’s OK to put it out of sight.

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Have bags + boxes for donations

When I organize my closet I prepare a box ready for a girlfriend to send her some goodies.  I also have to admit – I had those shirts I kept grabbing out of convenience and I hated that I wore so often – so I would just force myself to get rid of it so I couldn’t wear it anymore!  If you have items like that, I support you in self control and releasing it so you aren’t caught dead wearing it ever again!

Other bags are for donations – preferably hospice stores or the Salvation Army.  As much as I enjoy shopping at Goodwill for the bargain, I prefer to send my donations to charitable places so nonprofits can get money to support the good they do.  If you live in Phoenix I recommend the White Dove Thrift Shoppes which belong to the Hospice of the Valley.

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Add a fun rug

Just because your closet is small doesn’t mean you can’t fit a 2×3 rug inside just for fun!  You can also place your wedges on top if you want to keep your carpet clean.  We are a no shoe wearing home.

Machine washable leopard print indoor/outdoor rug: Madison at Main (c/o).  It’s the small things that can make you happy even if it’s a small space.

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Choose what gets hung and what is folded

Right now it’s hot and it’s swimsuit season so my swimwear is hung.

I choose to fold:

  • Tees, camis, leggings
  • Non fashionable items (basics)
  • Sweatshirts

I choose to hang:

  • Lovelier things that make me want to grab them.
  • Jeans. I used to fold them but after I visited Seven for All Mankind at Kierland Commons, I liked the way they were displayed in the store that I rushed home to hang mine by their belt loops.  You can see them behind my swimsuits.

I know if I see my closet full of pretty things – my eyes go straight to my hangers, I’ll feel better about what’s in my closet and not feel as though my wardrobe is boring.

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Label your shelves

When you see where things are, it is kind of a “no duh” of what it is.  But, I read in a magazine that just having labels will help you sort things faster – and help your husband know where things go.  I also can look at a shelf and say to myself, OK, that’s enough basic tees, or that’s enough camisoles.  My OCD side loves the labels!

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Store out of season items

Because my closet is small, I prefer to switch out my seasons.  It also works well because every time I pack up or unpack a season I can look at every piece of clothing and ask myself if it’s something that should go back into my closet or be donated.  I keep my out of season things in plastic bins under the bed and my boots are stacked in the hallway closet.  I also purged many boots after realizing I was a boot hoarder.

I hope this inspires you to clear out your closet, donate or sell items, have a garage sale, or bless a friend who needs your things more than you do!  I think of a tiny closet as a tiny purse, don’t overload it!

Diana Elizabeth will now probably go back through her closet and thin it out even more.  The feeling of being lighter is always good and the 20/80 rule applies – you probably wear 20 percent of your closet 80 percent of the time.

Home

IMG_1573_edited “There are no wrong turnings.  Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.” – Guy Gavriel Kay

I spent 10 days back home in Northern California with my parents, old high school friends – enjoyed the cooler weather (except for that one horrific day it was 107!), escaping the Phoenix heat.  While I imagine being home will be nothing but sleeping in and being in my sweats, I found myself busy with a schedule overload and unable to see some friends I hoped – next month we’ll try again.

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Do you live in your hometown?   If you don’t live in your hometown, every time you return do you realize just how much you’ve changed?  I still reminisce about moving home as I did last fall, after all those years growing up swearing I would never move back again because the country was so boring.  OK, Granite Bay really isn’t country-country but it is less city, more quaint, and a lake town – with 10 rated schools.  A definite perfect place to grow up and settle down – yes mom and dad, you were right and the move from Sacramento was a positive change that shaped the rest of my life.

Although it has been said that the idea of being home is much more glamorous than the reality of being home – so I’m sure visiting is more suitable.

I saw my college buddy Paris who I gifted to my parents before I moved to LA.  I always thought I’d come get him again but he bonded with my dad that I think he needed to stay, but I miss him so much.

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Mom gave me some of my late grandmother’s Chinese ornaments – I think they will be lovely on my mini pink tree I display in my office.  I remember hanging these up when I was a little girl.  This was my bunch, my brother gets a few as I fairly split them up.

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Took my parents out for dinner to TGIFridays, they were thrilled.  Aren’t they the cutest? I had a yummy buttery steak, so did dad, and mom had lobster and salmon – handcrafted goodness.

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One night I hung out with some of my closest high school girlfriends.  In high school, our little group was called the Mod Squad, named by Mr. P.  It stuck.  We had colors – red and black.  It was just a fun little thing we called ourselves, you know, you do that when you’re 16.  Now on the GroupMe App which we use to message everyone, we’re called ABCD Mod Squad- April, Becky, Carrie and Diana.

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Becky grilled on her patio for us, I though it was so cute – and ended up being so delicious I had to snap a photo of the marinated chicken and halved peaches.  I overdosed on produce when I was back home, I should have turned into a nectarine or plum!

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We ate dinner on Becky’s parent’s wedding dishes – so Anthro, right?  Carrie proceeded to cut her chicken so nicely so I took a photo of her dish instead of mine.  She was proud.

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Good chit-chats and a suggestion to take a nice evening stroll sounded perfect.  I made a new friend – he’s green.

I don’t know why, but I am convinced if praying mantises were an ethnicity, they would be Asian because I think they are going to karate chop and do some tai chi.  That also reminds me I planted two praying mantis eggs in our garden late spring and never saw the little guys around.  I love way they look, I think they are so beautiful.

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Time with home girls who have known me since I was 11 are just the type of girls who allow you can completely be yourself – even if you revert back to being 14.  I swear I haven’t changed much, I still jump into conversations completely unaware of what was said before (I should have been listening but I rarely do), and I make them repeat stuff.  We laugh, we have the same habits, but yet we’ve changed.

California is having a little drought going on right now, hence some dryness.  This little squirrel was barking at me, not happy I was taking his photo and then I got a flashback of the Griswold Christmas tree scene and decided I would not coax him to come closer.

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How I feel about being home?  Hip, hip…

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We talked about life, relationships, babies, and our parents – mainly about how we are hearing about wills and how to handle life after death, a completely different stage in life that none of us really thought about.  I think during our walk I listened more than I talked.  I was taking everything in, the sights, the feeling of just being.

Diana Elizabeth extended her upcoming trip back home next month by two days, just like that. 12 days is much better than 10.  She can probably bear Arizona summers the more often she’s gone!

Life

*Winner from France giveaway announced at the end of this post*

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Quite a few of you mentioned you wanted to visit Paris so I thought I should dig up my Paris photos from a several years ago and show you around.

I had visited in the fall to visit my girlfriend Fawn who was temporarily living in London to help start up a new branch.  I stayed at her flat in London for a few days before we headed to Paris.

TAKING THE TRAIN FROM LONDON TO PARIS

We headed to Paris on the Chunnel by Eurostar and spent two and a half days in lovely Paris.  I do suggest booking this ahead of time as last minute can be quite pricey, just like an airline ticket.  Also, don’t get a coffee thinking you can get on the train aroind the time posted on your ticket.  The depart time listed is when you should be on the train at that time. We got sweetly scolded by an employee asking where we had been.

Late Americans.

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WHERE WE STAYED IN PARIS

I had done some research and found the most adorable and most probably expensive hotel.  But, it made me squeal.

I found Hôtel Le 123 Elysées from a search and oohed and ahhhed over the details. Our room was two single beds placed next to each other which worked fine for space.  It was the most gorgeous hotel that it made me squeal – what a way to experience Paris!  To book, click here.

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The hotel is located in an incredibly fantastic place in the city in Paris, right by the Avenue des Champs Elysées.  This avenue is where you will definitely want to go, also the bus tour has multiple stops along this busy road.

WHAT WE SAW

Just a few blocks around the corner, here I am by the Arc with my baguette!  I didn’t want to eat it, I really just wanted to walk down the avenue with it and take a photo.  Do I look Parisian?  How about ParASIAN?

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After we grabbed a bite to eat – it was rainy and a bit overcast, we used our Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour I preordered and decided to just see Paris for a few hours and decide what we wanted to really see the next day.

On our second day, it was our full day there.  We decided to walk and utilize the bus tour again (we got a 2-day pass) to get us to where we wanted to go. There was so much to see but Fawn and I really just wanted to shop and walk around to be completely honest. When in France, do what the French do…shop!

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I had a few things on my wish list to see, Notre Dame was definitely one.

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I know this bridge is famous, but I forgot the name.  Someone fill in the blank for me.

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As Fawn and I walked around the streets with a mission in mind – shopping, a bus nearly run us over and through a narrow opening of a building.  We poked our heads inside, curious.  It wasn’t a pedestrian entrance but we decided to proceed by walking through and we stumbled into the Louvre! You should have seen how big our eyes got as if we just discovered a hidden treasure.  We then got carried away with excitement, clearly.

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My Top 10 Paris book told us all the things as must-sees in the Louvre - the Mona Lisa included.  She’s only 5×7 in person by the way.  I know, she looks 8×10 on TV, camera adds weight.

We spent the rest of our day going up and down the stairs giggling, searching, and finding 9 out of 10 favorites.  We couldn’t find the Lacemaker and asked a worker where she was only to find she was on tour in Japan!

Here we are proud of our check off list.

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A walk back to our hotel…admiring the lovely Arc de Triomphe – did you know there are several of these throughout France?  The one in Paris is the original and most well-known of course but there are several versions.

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The loveliest sight of them all.  The top is blue so it’s the French flag colors. It was a rainy, drizzly night, just how I like it.

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What is it about flower shops in Paris that make us stop and take our breath away?

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Just a few sights from taking the last bus round back…

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Back to our sweet hotel…

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Where the lights were glitter…

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And the floor sparkled…

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Sweetest dreams, Paris.

GIVEAWAY WINNER

I genuinely loved reading all of the places you hope to visit in France some day and I know the French Tourism PR enjoyed reading them.  I know you are wondering about the French Goodies winner!

Winner: Faline / 1st runner-up: Carissa  / 2nd runner-up: Hogan

I decided to do a few extra goodies.  Every time I travel some place special I’m bringing something back for one of you, I like hearing from you all.  That way, you’ll have more chances to enjoy a few goodies from other places.

BLOGGING BREAK

Just for a week, I haven’t taken time off from blogging for a long time since I decided to blog daily.  I’m going home to Nor Cal tomorrow for 10 days and I have a lot of reading, lake walks, and time with my parents to enjoy.  You can see what I’m up to on Instagram (@dianaelizabeth_).  I’ll be back the following Monday.  I appreciate you all reading and commenting, have a fantastic weekend! xx Di

Diana Elizabeth’s college dog Yorkie turned parents dog is named Paris.  He’s pretty darn cute.  Yes, she said he.

France, Travel

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Oh come on, did you really think it was over?  Nah, I still have this post and ONE more smashing surprise city tomorrow you won’t want to miss.  Then normal *yawn* life presumes.

I thought a lot about my garden readers when I was in France.  OK, I kinda thought a lot about my own garden that I had to snap some photos to document for myself what I wanted to create back home.

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Bamboo supports were a huge thing, and I have noticed it’s now taken over on American gardening sites as well.

I love how they look, my only hesitation is keeping them in the ground when our crazy dust storms and wind comes around.  I also noticed there were several different ways of using the bamboo poles and using them with twine.

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Right now we have wood posts similar to the photo below which also looks as if twine seems to work well with supporting basil and tomato plants.

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Once our summer crop dies and I can start over, I think I’ll try to get a few of these bamboo sticks in place.  If you’re in another part of the country this might be your season to start growing and organizing your garden beds.

USE THESE TOOLS TO CREATE A FRENCH GARDEN

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Various sized Bamboo Poles and Stakes – 25 Set / Set of 12 Faux Bamboo + connectors
2 ft – 8 feet (you pick) Pack of 25 Bamboo Stakes / Natural Twine

I’m going to try the various height 25 set on Amazon. I also like the thicker pole at the top too, so maybe I’ll do some measuring and see how it’ll work.

GSTBAMBOO_02 Various sized Bamboo Poles and Stakes for this look

 What do you think?

Diana Elizabeth says it’s too hot to really garden.  She goes out in the evenings but then the skeeters get her and she’s not happy.  She’ll need to use her OFF! fan clip, it totally works, she once used it during an October wedding.

Home

france-outfit-floral-pants Pants: Morning Lavender

Ten full days of France, plus two days of travel, means a whole lot of packing.  Somehow, I came back with half my clothes and the other half of my suitcase was full of things I bought.  Sorry product links won’t happen much since a majority of these items are older or vintage.  If they are still available I’ll list them.  Remember, you can be creative!

It takes the same amount of time to dress plain than it does to dress cute (thanks for saying that Brenna).

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“Pardon my French” shirt

Remember, I already planned leaving a lot of my clothes and shoes behind (I left a pair of my Sam Edelman ballet flats behind, as they got ruined in the rain in Aix). Oh well, I replaced the space with something better!

I also got photobombed a bit, especially by vespas. I didn’t mind. I mean really, how many places can you get a vespa in your photo?

See this one.  He looks like he was speeding up to get in my photo.


Dresses were easy.

And those vintage skirts I never wore, finally looked great in France!  But really, doesn’t everything and everybody look better in France?

Bag: Madewell

Adding a top (crochet or lace) over a tired maxi skirt also helps.  I belted a scarf to make it more unique.

If you forget something, just buy a new top, like I did!  Fabric made in France, I bought this top from one of the markets in Aix-en-Provence and paired it with linen pants I brought.

An oldie but goodie Anthro top with shorts.  Welcome to my palace!

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The perfect dress to boat down the Canal du Midi, don’t you think?

There were also quite a few outfit changes as it was warm and only lightly humid – but we were also very busy all day so a quick shower before dinner was always necessary, so I had two wear two outfits a day.  Good thing I packed enough!

Here’s something you might get a kick out of, in France, they only have sales twice a year, they last for about a month and a half.  It’s law, they aren’t forced to do it, (trust me, I wanted Hermes to have a sale but they didn’t), but it’s the only time they can do it, as I was told.  ”SOLDES” is said like “Sold” and that means sale.

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The day we arrived into Montpellier, it was the first day of the big sales. It was craaaazy.

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Isn’t it also crazy that on Sundays the stores are closed, most anyway.  The Galeries Lafayette (high end) is open, but closes early – by the way, sales they have on their tags apply only if you have their card.

As a huge shopper I couldn’t imagine life with sales only twice a year.  Gosh dang we are lucky in America, aren’t we?  The freedom of sales anytime! *wink*  Although I gotta tell you, French fashion is just stunning, the quality, creativity, I took interest to multiple French clothing lines.

I fell in love with this 100% silk scarf from Souleiado - (different print). I was looking for a memorable piece of jewelry as a souvenir but couldn’t find anything unique enough and saw this scarf which was created in France and begged to drape my shoulders and be twisted on my head.  Some of you might know Liberty London, Souleiado prints are very popular in Southern Europe, and um, quite pricey.  Their items are gorgeous, see their fashion look book, the photography is stunning!

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I also found this unique soap holder, of course, made in France.  Marseille is known for their soap – made from olive oil.  Isn’t this cool?  Good news, if you really like it, I found one online too here while looking for refills. Mr. Wonderful said I probably should’t mount it unless I could find refills, and, done.

Did you notice the pink scrubby towel under it?  Have you ever considered going to a supermarket in another country just to see what they use?  Of course see the “Made in France” logo, as in France, not much is made in China.  The kitchen cleaning towels were under 3 euros.

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I also knew I had to get an olive wood piece and loved this ladle, it was 14 euros.  The tablecloths under it are French fabrics, so so so so divine.  I bought two, plus six matching napkins.  The cost of the tablecloths vary from 20-35 euros.

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So this is all the stuff I bought.  No wonder I didn’t have room.  Yep, that’s pink sugar and olive oil in an Eiffel Tower glass.  I had a quick layover in Paris and since I didn’t have much room the last time I was in Paris to buy much, I figured I’d dump all my euros and buy a few more things.

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There’s a lavender sachet – also a must-buy especially in Aix, and more towels, candy, and I also came home with six tea towels, my favorite souvenir of choice, but again, I won’t be keeping them all.

Speaking of not keeping things, I did also bring back stuff with you in mind, truly.  The fact that this took up space in my suitcase means I really really love my readers.

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How about this adorable tin I picked up from the Roy Rene Calissons factory.

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But wait!  That’s not it!  I also got a soap from Nice, a towel from Montpellier, candy from Aix – note this candy has almonds so if you are allergic to nuts don’t eat it!  There is also a small glass wine stopper from Château La Coste in Aix. Everything is made in France so it’s a special treat!

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  • Leave a comment below with what city you’d like to visit in France – Nice, Aix, Carcassonne, Marseille, Montpellier, or Le Boat down the Canal du Midi?

US residents only because I’m not sure how to ship internationally, sorry, I still love you international readers! Comments close tomorrow, Thursday at 5 p.m. Arizona time, I gotta make it brief so this is a quick giveaway –  I have to mail this out before I take off again!  Winner selected at random so just leave a comment :)

Diana Elizabeth only felt slightly guilty when she left things behind, but she needed the space and she knew some things would never come out of the closet again.  A photo in it was all she needed!

France, Style, Travel

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Staring from Nice and working our way slowly west, we had to return to a city with an airport to eventually return home to the States.  Montpellier is a very large city filled with lots of students and international students, a young crowd. We only had half day and really a few hours to see Montpellier after a lengthy drive from Le Somail after leaving our Le Boat fun down the Canal du Midi.

About Montpellier

There’s quite a bit of history in this city, lots to see if you take the time to grab a tourist map and see the Historical Montpellier.  There is a lot to see while you can also check out the shopping on your way.  Since we only had a few hours I wasn’t able to give as much time as I wanted to this city, but it’s a lovely location to walk the streets, of course lots of decisions when it comes to food.  There’s a pretty park that you can’t miss right in the middle of the plaza area.  Visit the Montpellier tourism site here.

Things we saw and where we ate

We were starving so we found a little spot to eat.  It was around 3 p.m. and many restaurants were no longer serving lunch as they were out of food and getting ready for dinner.  So eat when the French do or starve.  But we did find a place that was serving, so just ask around.

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For lunch I decided to cater to my sweet tooth and get a banana Nutella crepe with vanilla ice cream.  I should also clarify that it’s pronounced “krepe” not “cray-pe” as us Americans say.  I’m not sure where we put the “A” vowel in the word but I’ve come to the conclusion we have butchered many words.  Did you know “tampon” means stamp in French?

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The drink of choice in France, Orangina!  I have loved this drink as my local LGO has this and it’s a treat.  I drank way too many of these.

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Oddly enough during lunch a storm rolled in and just poured on us, but only for a few minutes as we waited for it to pass so we could explore the city.

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The Arc de Triomphe.  Now I know you’re thinking as I thought, wait, isn’t this in Paris?  Well, apparently there are many of these in the country, not just Paris.  This one was created in the 17th century to honor Louis XIV and was built where one of the gates of the rampart used to be.

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We got the access to go up top as we were press and wow look at this view!  Thanks to Crystal for this awesome photo, my favorite.  She was so patient with me taking photos of me, I am so thankful.

I believe I was yelling, “I love France!!!!!” from the top of the Arc. I mean, what better place, right?

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Can I stay, pretty please?

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Let me also briefly tell you about me waving around the wrong flag around town.  But first, let me explain that I know what the France flag looks like before the mishap.  I had purchased a blue, white, and red striped flag from a tent selling World Cup memorabilia.  I started waving the flag around town, taking photos with it (including the top of the Arc) and I reviewed the photo off my camera right.  ”Wait a second,” I said, “Those stripes are going the wrong way, is my flag broken?”  I freaking bought the Netherlands flag.  And this dumb American was waving it around the Arc taking photos.  HOWEVER, for the record none of my other blogger friends even noticed, nor the France gal giving us the tour, so it was an easy mistake, but I caught it in time!  THANK GOD!  You know, before I started waving it around the streets at night during the World Cup game and got spit on.

Tsk tsk, what happened was the flag I purchased was displayed sideways, so I saw it the CORRECT way of the France flag.  So for the record, that guy probably knew I wanted a France flag but sold it to me anyway.  I want my 3 euros back.  I suppose I made some funny memories for everyone else at my expense.  I shall never show you those photos on my blog.

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We saw a medieval Mikve used by the Jewish who used it to purify their bodies before a lot of the holidays. This was also an exclusive because we were press.  I believe I was told it was around since the 11th century but again, I’m bad at numbers so I could be wrong. They build where natural water comes in and it is very cold. They dip themselves in it, not to wash themselves. Observe how clear the water is which is also 10 degrees Celsius.

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A little dinner at La Panacée.  Even though this was really amazing to see inside, we decided to enjoy tapas outdoors since the weather was so lovely.

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The kitchen staff was so excited we were Americans they made us a special plate!

The World Cup was on TVs set outside by restaurants and everyone was outside cheering which was an amazing experience to observe, listen, and cheer for France.  I was genuinely rooting for France to win all their games.  I know, I’m not quite patriotic, they still let me back in the States but when one spends 10 full days in France exploring it in unique ways, well, of course I’m going to fall madly in love with everything about it!

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Oh, goodnight France, what a way to end a lovely trip. We said our goodbyes with long hugs and sweet words, sad that our adventure had come to an end – that moment you wish wasn’t happening so soon, that time when you know as soon as you said hello that before you would know it, you’d have to say goodbyes.  I will forever treasure my time with my sweet blogging friends and hope one day we can travel again together, as we all bring a unique background and specialty to the blogging world.

Have you seen my 3 minute video tour of France?  Click here.

Equipment used: Sony NEX-5R (c/o), 50mm f1/.816mm f/2.8 + 18-55mm (c/o), 18-105mm f/4 (c/o) + Canon Powershot S100

Diana Elizabeth is ready to give you some tips about visiting France, a few more travel tip advice and also a France giveaway!  Stay tuned and make sure you don’t miss it.

France, Life, Travel

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When we were asked if we would be willing to extend our France trip by a few days to go boating down a canal, I was beyond ecstatic!  The lovely people at Le Boat wanted to show us what it would be like to experience boating in France.  Um, OK, dream come true.  After our brief yet lovely visit in Carcassonne, we rode in a car to Homps, a little area where boats were docked and we spent our first night on a boat in our individual rooms (rooms sleep two) and private bath. Our particular boat had 4 rooms and 4 bathrooms, a kitchen below and an amazing deck above, including room to lounge (as you see me doing above), seating in the back and an outdoor grill!  We spent two nights on Le Boat, with one true full day from Homps to Le Somail.

First, this video that will explain it all!


{On mobile?  Click here.}

About Le Boat

Anyone can rent a boat to sight see down the canal.  Le Boat offers several different types of boats all over Europe so you can go at your own pace while enjoying your mobile hotel.  It’s kinda like cruising only private.  If you enjoy boating anyway, this is definitely the route for you to take.  I grew up on a lake, though our Sea Ray was nothing like this amazing boat provided by Le Boat, and you won’t get any motion sickness, the boat doesn’t rock even while in motion and the canal is very smooth.  At night, you dock and anchor so there are no weights and again, the canal is a quiet body of water.  To plan your boating vacation with Le Boat, click here.

We woke up the next morning and walked to a little market.

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I had to take a few photos, this little gem is for sale by the way.

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Then I got all nosey and peeked into someone’s backyard.  Look at this garden!  When I came back, a little old lady was outside checking on it and I thought to myself, that’ll be me one day.

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The tiny market had pink and orange, and green toilet paper.  Do you see how the French just have more fun, even in el toilette?  If only I had more room in my luggage you know I would have bought some pink toilet paper.

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About our boat

Here’s the inside of our boat, I’m with Crystal and Beth.  We called our boat the Princess Cruise line since we had the Captain and honestly, the three of us can’t do anything that involves sportiness.  So we pretty much lucked out and were thankful that we had Captain to go through the locks and manage on his own.  We would have been useless!

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Our friends – four of them had to go on another boat.  Thankfully Dave had a sailing/boating license and was experienced so he could handle the boat.  Again, anyone really could, but it was much easier with him since he was on a boat full of girls.

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The Locks

Here is a lock, after the water has gone down.  You need to watch the video I’m including at the end of this post to see how it works.  Le Boat will help and explain how to go through the locks, as there are several down the canal and you must take turns.

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Feeling on top of the world in France!  John Mayer playing a sweet breeze, oh the life!

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Duck!  Watch out for those bridges!

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Who let this crazy drive the boat?
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Scheduled was an exclusive wine tasting at Château de Paraza.  We had a bit of a climb, but it was worth the view.

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I really wanted a donkey after meeting these two who took a huge liking to Amanda but backed away from everyone else in the group.  Donkey whisperer!

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Now onto wine tasting in this chateau.  This has been in the family for generations and they have lots renovations planned.  It’s amazing yet mind blogging the details and upkeep of such a lovely place.  I asked if they planned on having weddings here one day and they said they were planning on it.  So, I’ll be your photographer if you want, just saying.  I mean, I’d be perfect for it since I already scouted the place.

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This little spot is the kitchen area where the cooks way back in the day used to hang out and make the meals.  I thought of Downton Abbey of course.

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However, the stairs hit this very low ceiling.  Here’s Dave showing.  I mean really, could you imagine carrying food and all sorts of things having to duck so low?

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We jumped in a jeep and got a gorgeous eyesight of a tour of all their vineyards.  They are one of the oldest estates dedicated to growing vines in the South of France.

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Look at this chicken coop! The girls were clucking and were so excited to see people I had to run over and snap a few photos for inspiration and to share.

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Now those are real French hens.

Now trust me when I say French food is absolutely amazing, no doubt about it.  However, sometimes when you’ve been away from home for so long, you crave the familiar.  Even the things you rarely eat back home, like a burger.  All of us freaked out when we saw a burger delivered to another table that well, some of us had to order one.  This was at L’eau à la Bouche.  We fell asleep with happy tummies.

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The next day Francois from Discover France showed us the different bikes we could take to discover France.  OK so maybe I took a picture to show you again how beautiful France is, and the people.  Shame on me.

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A little bit about Discover France – you can do a bike tour in Spain, Italy, Holland/Belgium, Czech Republic/Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, and Sonoma County, California.  I want to try the Sonoma County one since my friends and family are in Nor Cal.  And you can also do the Tour de France route.  They will plan your entire tour, give you a GPS and itinerary so you can stop for lunch, sight seeing, wine tasting, whatever you want, just tell them and they will plan it for you.  Just another way to discover France!  Click here for more information.

If you are not athletic as myself you can choose to ride an electric bike, one little pedal it goes so fast!  Weeeeeee!

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Here we are with our Captain, such an amazing guy!  Thanks Captain for keeping us safe and your amazing company, you truly were such a fun captain to be around, the experience would not have been the same without you.  Also thanks for cooking lunch for us.

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Time to say goodbye to our Le Boat and go onward.  Goodbye sweet room!

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Onto Montpellier tomorrow!

Have you seen my 3 minute video tour of France?  Click here.

Equipment used: Sony NEX-5R (c/o), 50mm f1/.816mm f/2.8 + 18-55mm (c/o), 18-105mm f/4 (c/o) + Canon Powershot S100

Diana Elizabeth thinks when she looks back at photos she sees people who are part of her memories forever.  

France, Life, Travel

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