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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Category Archives: Home

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I go to Anthropologie more when I’m home in Nor Cal than when I’m back in Phoenix.  I know I should say home in Phoenix, but well, we know the battle I have in my heart over California homeland and where I am now – even though I know I will love Phoenix again in a month – just give me time!  I need a break from this heat!

I want to make the above horseshoe plate stand display – I have a horseshoe that I am sure is not authentic and was probably overpriced.  I think I’ll spray paint mine gold and find some blocks of wood in our storage shed.

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These pink bowls below, I must have a set of four.  We don’t  have much matching stuff, I don’t really care for it to be honest, a few sets of 4, another set of 8, a set of 12, whatever.  Silverware I have a collection but I just love mixing and matching.

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OK, so finally after 12 days of being back in my hometown with my home girls, I’m “home” again.  With new sparkle slippers.  I kinda do have an Anthro style home, right?  The blankets were made by my mom, inspired by Anthro style throws.  Couch and pillows all Pottery Barn.

Let’s be real, I live in a Pottery Barn and Anthro world.

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Ah, ok, I’ll stay a week before I head to New York.  Slippers: Snoozies Women’s Ballerina Metallic Shine Sequin Slippers.

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Home

Kokoon-33 Yes, the backyard really sold me, but there was so much more to finding the perfect house

Sometimes when I give advice on a post I don’t want to give you the impression I’m an expert – they say you need 10,000 hours to be considered an expert.  If I were a real estate expert I’d be Donald Trump. I thought I’d just write a little post on buying a home if you’re hoping to one day and my thoughts and experiences.

My parents are into real estate in California and Mr. Wonderful and I own two properties – my sweet little town home will forever be our investment rental and and we have the house we live in now.  Even though I didn’t buy my first place until I was 23, my apartments were in prime locations.  I learned when you say, “Wow!  That’s a great location!” when you say where you live, it’s truth.

The best advice I have ever heard verbally:  Pick a house based upon location, not what the inside looks like.  You can always change the inside but never the location.

This advice was given to me by a makeup artist friend 10 years ago while I was looking for my first place.  He lived in an area that he hated but he lived in a nice new condo and he hated coming home and seeing an icky neighborhood. He couldn’t even sell it to move, either, he was stuck.

diana-elizabeth-home-phoenix-office-222 Our home is 1750 square feet, small, but I love it!

Where we live now we have flyers sent to our home introducing families hoping to move into our neighborhood and every so often the door bell rings with someone asking if we will consider selling.  This makes me feel super great about where we live, and as we continue to add things to the inside of our home to really nest and make it ours, it’s so worth it.

So that’s what I’ve got for you –  find a home in a good location that you love.

Things to consider when buying a home

  • If you’re able to meet one of your neighbors, do.  When I was looking at homes a neighbor ran up to me and my realtor and she was so excited.  She was adorable.  Then she proceeded to walk with us to the backyard and show us a tree she hated in that backyard and the story about the previous owner and how he wouldn’t cut it down since it was leaning on her property, yadda yadda.  After she left my realtor looked at me and said, “And that would be your neighbor.”  No thanks.
  • Don’t buy a home based upon where you work.  We all know being close to work is great, and I don’t know the average years of how long someone works at their job, but I doubt it’s more than 5 years.  You’re buying a home for long term, make sure you like the community, the people who go to the nearest grocery store, the school district, that stuff.  Don’t live too far (maybe 30 minutes max is decent) but if I had to buy a home where my old corporate job was, I would’ve been in a yucky neighborhood and stuck there.
  • Don’t buy a house in a weird location just because you can get bigger.  UNLESS this is what you really need and want, and be honest.  This is not from my experience but seeing others do this.  You have this big beautiful house with more space to entertain but no one wants to see you because you live too far, no one makes plans with you because you’re on the outskirts and by nothing fun.  Then you just get lonely in your big house.  Or you have to drive 45 minutes to an hour to do any social activity that you end up spending so much on gas or car repair expenses it may not make sense for your lifestyle.
  • Look past the wall colors, fixtures, hardware, and even carpet.  All can be replaced, and you probably will like that anyway.  I had to replace all the brass with knobs I preferred from The Home Depot, replaced the carpet in two rooms even though they were new (I didn’t want a brown, I wanted low pile carpet in a cream), and I painted and changed out every single fixture, ceiling fan, light, all of it.  That’s what makes it your own and so much fun!
  • Be honest with what you want in a home.  I bought in 2011 the right time before the buyers went crazy. I saw a really adorable home, I probably looked at 30 homes (right Kat?) and I liked it.  We stood outside and she said, “Well, what do you think, what do you like about this house?”  I told her I loved that it was new inside.  Then she asked me, “What don’t you like?” and I said, “If I could pick up this house and move it over there (pointing in the direction of where I live now), I want it in that neighborhood.”  And she said, “Ok, then let’s just concentrate on finding a home there.”  Don’t let anyone pressure you into something you don’t want to buy, it’s a lot of money.  My real estate agent and friend was so amazing and wanted me to be happy.
  • Buy a fixer upper.  This is called instant equity – once you put in the sweat.  If you buy an already done perfect home at the high price, you won’t really have much value increased unless the market goes up.  If you buy a fixer upper, you pay a low amount, throw in some G’s and make it how you want, and instantly you just increased the value by more than what you spent (if you do it correctly).
  • Know what you don’t want in your home.  For me, that was no pool.  I was searching as a single gal and I didn’t want the expense of maintaining one, even though growing up with one was amazing (if you have kids, it’s so worth it).
  • Don’t purchase on emotion.  We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars here.  Y0u shouldn’t overpay for a junky home, or any home if it’s over your budget.  Know your limit and what the market is.  I put in an offer for a home that wanted full price.  The seller’s agent was really rude to mine and laughed at my offer.  That’s fine, I’m not paying full price woman, not in 2011 anyway.  She got her full commission she wanted when some other family offered full price, and I found an even better home with a nicer larger lot in the same neighborhood for my price.  My bank account won.
  • Don’t go house poor.  I am going to write a post about the love for a tiny home, but for now, I’ll just say this quoting Dana Miller from House Tweaking who talks about downsizing, “We’re not looking for our dream house. We’re looking for a house in which to pursue our dreams.”  With a big house comes a big mortgage, which is fine if you can afford it, but wouldn’t it be nice to have your home paid off by age 40 instead of 65?  For me and the Mr., this is owning everything, financial freedom from banks, loans, all of it.  The ability to travel, buy things, and enjoy the good life, he can retire early.  The idea is for us to not be home as much, and be out enjoying life!

Enjoy the process of making a home your own, it’s so fun!  Have you learned anything from searching for a perfect home?  What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Diana Elizabeth and Mr. Wonderful might want to add on, but right now, the size is great!

Home

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I think this is my first recipe I’m sharing.  Oh dear.  I swear to the moon and back that you will LOVE this!  What is Bircher Museli?  Well, there are many versions of it – it’s pretty much oats, grains, nuts, yogurt and fruit – many different varieties.

Guests always ask for the recipe and it doesn’t take a lot of time and you do not need the exact amount of ingredients.  Eyeball everything, add more of what you want, take things away.  See how I cook?

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Ingredients

  • Old Fashioned Quaker Oats (not quick oats)
  • Milk or soy
  • 1 thinly sliced banana
  • 1 thinly sliced orange
  • 1 grated (with skin) granny smith apple
  • Handful of blueberries (can be frozen and de thawed)
  • Almond slices
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt

Know that these ingredients are estimations, you never have to measure, other than having a whole piece of fruit.

Steps

  1. Fill a bowl with the Old Fashioned Quaker Oats and milk just so the oats can soak in the milk.
  2. Prep the fruit (slice, dethaw if frozen, grate) and put into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Drain access milk from oat and milk bowl if needed, then add to the large mixing bowl.
  4. Stir in vanilla yogurt to desire of creaminess
  5. Add handful of almond slices on top!

Serves 3-4.  You can change ingredients depending on the season and preference.  Leftovers will keep for one day – but best eaten the same day.

Diana Elizabeth loves different versions of museli, if you have one, share it with her.

Home

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I won’t  show you how the garden is doing because it would make my blog ugly.  I will however just say it’s 110 degrees and the only thing that’s doing well is basil, tomatoes and my carrots that I pull up occasionally for my pot roasts.  Even if things were good outside it’s a little too hot to check.  So, I’m letting the garden go.

And clearly I’m feeding the birds unintentionally.

These are neighborhood love birds, I believe.  They sure are a loud bunch but so cute.  They are also completely destroying my sunflowers for an evening snack.

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Hey you two, this is not that kind of backyard – get a room!

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 Hope you’re all having a great week so far and finding time to rest – like Liberty.

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Equipment used: Sony NEX-5R (c/o), 18-105mm f/4 (c/o)

Diana Elizabeth found it amusing and has often seen the hummingbirds and love birds quarrel over backyard perching branches.  Guess she did a good job with the backyard, the birds love it!

Home

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“Oh my gosh where did you get these sheets?  They’re like butter!” I exclaimed as soon as I prepared to crawl into bed.

“Walmart I think,” she said, “They are sheets by Mia Hamm.”

Melayne had just moved into her condo in Newport Beach and everything was new.  Every time I visit we sleep with the window open, because that’s how California weather is, just perfect.

I can’t sleep hot which is a struggle this summer. I would love the cooling and heating mattress but instead of paying $2,000, I figured a $70 sheet investment would do right now.  However, this doesn’t mean you still won’t get hot sleeping in these sheets when it’s 100 degrees outside, but I think these should make sleeping much more comfortable and cooler than average cotton bedsheets.

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It feels like a silky jersey sheet – the kind of softness workout clothes are made out of.  The Breathe Bedding is a polyester sheet set and claims to regulate the temperature of your body and deliver evenly balanced air circulation.  It’s also wrinkle-resistant and stretches over deep mattresses!  I always thought cotton was something mandatory for allowing your skin to breathe but the company claims it allows your skin to breathe more efficiently than cotton sheets.

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Breathe Bedding Sheet Set, $50-$70, Walmart in blue, grey, sand + white

If they are out of stock online, you can find them at your nearest Walmart, just do free store pickup.  The next morning after the first night we slept with the new sheets Benjamin said, “I LOVE the sheets!” and he swears he felt so much cooler.  Win!

By the way, this was not a sponsored post, I just got really excited about these sheets and thought you would like them too!

Diana Elizabeth wants to get the sheets for the guest room too!

Home

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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!

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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

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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

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In most places across the country, you can enjoy Fourth of July outdoors – not in Phoenix, oh dear.  That’s one thing I miss so much since I moved from California – the ability to enjoy a summer.  Oh well, just gotta get away!

Here’s a fun shoot my talented friends and I did.  Melissa Schollaert photographed this little set up by Angela Saban in my backyard.  Makeup and hair by Lizzy Marsh.

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I made these blankets from fabric I found from SAS Fabrics in their random piles of cotton fabric. I just knew they would come in handy, I can use them every day too!  I made one with just the red and white stripes, and the other with the white and blue stars.  The back of the fabric is back with a pre-washed drop cloth.  I did a creative messy sewing edge to join the fabrics together so the edges are messy  but won’t fray past the stitching and ran a few single lines down the blankets. These are two separate blankets laying on top of each other. If you can’t find stars and stripes, consider polka dots, stripes, or even solids so you can use them year round.  Red, white and blue are so classic, and my awesome alma mater’s school colors!

Star shaped bowl from Pottery Barn, but it was for Christmas, until I realized it could be used for patriotic holidays!  Floral plates from Angela Saban’s personal collection she said she found them at Home Goods.  Ceramic berry basket from Anthropologie (small, large).  My silver grapefruit jam spreader is a souvenir from London, purchased from Fortnum & Mason.  Fringe towel from Pottery Barn, see this patriotic kitchen towel.  Square outdoor plates from Target.

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Want to make a citrus curd?  Recipe courtesy of Angela Saban of Angela Saban Designs and Angel Cakes Bakery - she styled the shoot.

Grapefruit* Curd Recipe

*Can also be lemon, lime, ruby red grapefruit) Great as a dressing over ice cream, or on biscuits and toast!

Ingredients

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 tsp citrus zest (lemon, lime, grapefruit)
  • 1 cup fresh citrus juice (lemon, lime, grapefruit – keep same)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Pick some fresh grapefruit if you have it in your yard!
  2. Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl.
  3. In a saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and the sugar until blended.
  4. Turn heat to medium and whisk in citrus zest, juice, and salt.
  5. Continue to whisk constantly for 8-10 minutes or until mixture thickens.  Note: About 170 degrees, do not let is come to a boil or it will curdle and be ruined.)
  6. Immediately pour mixture through the sieve, pressing it down with a rubber spatula into a bowl.
  7. Let mixture cool down to about 140 degrees.
  8. Whisk butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces.  Do not allow butter to melt into the mixture, but whisk it until it is combined or use an immersion blender.
  • Cover curd with plastic wrap on the surface and refrigerate or our into sealed jars while still warm.
  • Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks after opened, and also freezes well.

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I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July!

{Photographed by Melissa Schollaert / Styled by Angela Saban / MUA Lizzy Marsh}

Diana Elizabeth misses when the bunnies were little.

Home

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Come on in and take a seat!  I believe I have enough seating for more people since I last updated you on the living room, see a previous shot here.   Crazy to think that we didn’t have that little seating area until we began hosting small group at our home.  I’m so glad sometimes get togethers make you think, hm, maybe I need some more seating.

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Yep, we are a no shoe home.  Read my post on why here.

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The little side table was a wedding gift from our handyman Dennis. If you live in Phoenix, you need a Dennis.  This was a Pinterest inspiration!

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I bought the brass screen from Craigslist for $7.  The owners told me they bought it from a Malibu mansion many years ago.  I am crazy about it!  The little wood dog is a vintage toy I found for $5 at a hospice thrift store.  When you pull it, his legs move.  So perfect for all the little kids we have over.  Under the crochet blanket my mother made in the basket, are tons more of toys for kids.

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Life imitating art?  I think so, doesn’t that look like London and Liberty? I bought the painting from TJ Maxx, it’s a hand painted oil painting.  Then I knew I needed a pair of Dwarf Hotots.

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Our coffee table was made by my dad for my mom for one of their anniversaries long ago.  I immediately took it and my younger brother is still not happy about it.  First born rules.

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I also added the two prints above the TV, ordered the reproduction from One Kings Lane, got them custom framed and matted at Aaron Brothers.

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All the blankets you see were made by my mom.  The granny square one is a hit on Pinterest, sorry no pattern as my mom creates from just looking at something or whipping it up out of creativity.  I think I get a lot of that gene from her.  Mango wood cabinet in the back is from Wisteria, it holds many family heirlooms from our wedding, a beautiful quilt from Benjamin’s great aunts, and a throw made by his grandma and all of our photo albums, which are a lot!

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” – Luke 12:48

This was the first thing I made for my home. It’s a scripture that reminds me that I have been blessed so much in my life by God, and while my parents have been generous in providing for me, God has blessed me with a family like that.  I am also aware of all the things that God has provided for me so I am expected to be entrusted to protect and use the things he gives me to honor and give glory to Him, and also use those things to bless others for His Glory.

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And that’s it!  If you have any questions on where we got things just ask, I hope I do’t leave anything out!

Grey side chairs:  One Kings Lane / Side table: One Kings Lane / Pillows on grey chairs: Handmade / Honeycomb lamp: Joss & Main / Ottoman: Restoration Hardware Baby / Burlap side stool: Target / Tripod floor lamp: Pottery Barn (similar) / Couch pillows: Pottery Barn / Basket by fireplace: Ballard Designs / Large clock on Fireplace: Pottery Barn (similar) / Track lighting: Pottery Barn / Swivel drum sectional floor lamp: Pottery Barn / Area rug: Ballard Designs / Ceiling fan: Universal Lighting / Etagere: Ballard Designs / Frames above TV: Aaron Brothers / Prints above TV: One Kings Lane – Sign up today on OKL for a $15 credit for purchases of $30 or more. > / Architecture Prints: Estate Sale at Scottsdale Marketplace / Gold frame mirror by front door: Wisteria / Area rug by front door: Ballard Designs / Wall hooks: One Kings Lane / Curtains: Pottery Barn / Double Curtain Rod: Pottery Barn / Shutters: Shutter Shaque

Diana Elizabeth loves to open up the windows and curtains while Mr. Wonderful prefers it like a movie theater – which works well in summer, but she would love a glass house!

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