My name is Diana Elizabeth. I'm a photographer, writer, graphic designer, model, and former journalist who had memorable days reporting from the LA red carpet for E! Online. This is where I share my life daily, as a creative professional.

My husband and I live in a restored 1952 red brick home that sits on a former citrus grove in Phoenix. I enjoy traveling, home improvement projects, and gardening. This is a glimpse into my life and work and the things that I discover along the way - with camera in hand.

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Category Archives: Personal

diana-elizabeth-photography-blog-blogger-vegas-girls-weekend-madame-tussauds-delano-ideas-what-to-see-clean-fun-travel-blogger-222Birds of a feather, flock together.

Is it possible to have a good, clean fun in Las Vegas and still have a relaxing rejuvenating time with girlfriends?  Absolutely!  Let me show you how we made it a fun girls weekend in Vegas.

After a THREE HOUR PLANE DELAY and two waiting lists only to get half of us called for one flight, we settled on our original flight that was late and somehow we were still smiling.  I think it’s because we were together so we didn’t care. Plus, there was an LGO and we filled our bellies there, twice.

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Why Vegas for us when we don’t party like Vegas is marketed?  First, we are beyond lucky that Jennifer is a VIP at a few hotels on the strip which means free hotel room and a few hundred in food allowance. Second, it’s close enough yet far away to feel like a vacation and thirdly, there’s something going on 24/7 so we can sleep in, find something to do and eat dinner around 9 pm.

Oh, and this time we had a gold limo waiting for us.

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We have arrived at Delano.  How to say it? DELL-UH-NO or DELL-ON-OH?  It’s like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, so DELL-UH-NO, formerly THEhotel.

Of course when you are just trying to pass through the lobby, random friendly strangers – men, want to take photos with you, what is that about?

Temporary metallic tattoos are so Vegas appropriate don’t you think?  I had a set sent to me for free in my monthly Ipsy bag subscription and had bought another set and kept them specifically for a Vegas or beach vacay.

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When it came to picking a restaurant, Jen pointed one option – House of Blues.  ”That looks loud,” both Melayne and I said in unison so we settled on a cute farmhouse style restaurant.

The first morning – coffee at the hotel lobby of Delano.  We knew Starbucks was around the corner, but let’s be real, if you’re a coffee snob like I am (or you are from Phoenix and you know what good coffee is), you know you only go to Starbucks because of convenience or it’s the only thing around.  If you stay at the Delano, go to their coffee bar, it’s amazing!

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It’s also very pretty too.  They also serve veggie and fruit juices, the beet juice is yummy and the croissant breakfast sandwich is filling and hits the spot.

Oh, it was March Madness time, and yes, the Wildcats won against Ohio State!

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Titanic: Artifact Exhibition

We had plans before we left Phoenix that we wanted to see the Titanic The Artifact Exhibition at Luxor.  Cost is $32, and you should pay the $5 extra for audio. Tip: Walk the strip and you can score a $5 coupons on the bridge overpasses.  Or pick up the Vegas tourist books – they have $5 off for the Bodies The Exhibition too (which is equally amazing).  Back to Titanic – if you are a party of two, you can share a single audio to save money.  You can also do 3 attractions for $57.

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Photos aren’t allowed inside the exhibit so we walked really slow and listened to our audio tour.  We were given boarding passes which were replicas of boarding passes of passengers that were on the Titanic.  We walked through third, second, and third class passenger cabins and saw the actual part of the Titanic.  There’s a part where I cried – the quotes of passengers and what they said about making the choice to leave their husbands or father’s behind or the sound of what it was like when they were in the boats.

At the end of the tour they list the survivors of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd class and crew that survived and ones that did not on a memorial wall.  700 made it, 1500 did not.  Remember the reason there were not a lot of survivors were the lack of emergency life boats.

Dinner at miX

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I don’t know who that guy was who took our photo but he certainly knew about photography because he got down on his knees and took those above photos we were impressed!

Dinner on the top floor of Delano – miX which is also part club/bar area too, they are somewhat connected if you pass through the kitchen – but don’t be fooled, it’s very quiet and posh in this restaurant with a spectacular view of the strip.

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For some reason we were served complimentary dessert that said Happy Birthday, we then made it an inside joke.

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This was outside miX in an area where you would normally get bottle service but somehow a nice man asked if we wanted to sit there. The view was so pretty and if you go, definitely check out the bathroom because it’s a ceiling to floor window of the strip and it feels weird because you wonder if anyone can see you but don’t worry, they can’t.

Mandalay Bay Pool

The next morning, pool time at Mandalay Bay which is the closest because Delano’s Beach is under construction (it’s a new hotel).  When one of your girlfriends can’t make it, you bring her head cutout.

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This area has a wave pool and a lazy river as you can see we sat – not our preference, but all that was available with 5 chairs in a row.

It was time to get ready for another night out.

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Getting ready in a bathroom with your girlfriends reminds me of college, and pageants.  Jen was downstairs doing her thing, gambling like she knows best!

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Then we headed to Madame Tussauds.  Tip: If you go on a Sunday night and get the Twilight special (buy it online only) which is $17 per person instead of $30. Either way, if you buy online ahead of time, you save 20%.

That chick in my personal space was Lindsay Lohan.

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Oh I love JLo, I think she is one of the most beautiful women in the world.

And I really love this guy, he’s my childhood hero – Go Niners! I’m from Nor Cal, it’s in my blood.

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The best photo of the night goes to Melayne and Brenna.

diana-elizabeth-photography-blog-blogger-vegas-girls-weekend-madame-tussauds-delano-ideas-what-to-see-clean-fun141Caption this: “No my man ain’t yo baby daddy!”

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I hope you can see both fingers ’cause I’m not flipping off the camera.  I was going to do the same symbol as Snoop Dogg until Brenna said “This way, like the Sun Devils pitch fork,” and well, being a Wildcat, that goes against my grain so I did a peace sign.

Then, there was Elvis.  Elvis makes me think of my dad, because he loves him! Young Elvis was so handsome wasn’t he?  This reminds me of my time in Graceland which was so fun! I should blog about that one day.

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This Elvis photo is my favorite.  Thanks Jen!

I have a true life Vegas story about this crazy head…

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Vegas 2008…

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A photo by Napkin Nights (not this one) appeared on TMZ.com – I found out because friends started texting me and I had no idea who he was, really! Moving on.

At the end of the Madame Tussaud’s museum, we watched a little 4D Marvel show – 4D means they shoot stuff at you like water and jab you while you are watching.  It’s similar to The Bug’s Life show at Disney.

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We ended that night with great Chinese food at Noodle Asia at the Venetian which was authentic and hit the spot for all of us.  I had the BBQ pork and duck on rice, and thinking about it is making me hungry.

We sat around and talked for an extra hour, then we walked around for gelato and sat down and talked for another hour – spilling our hearts, confessing stories, laughing, a little crying, but lots of support.  As Sommer said, it’s those kind of talks and transparency that connects souls.

The last morning…

diana-elizabeth-photography-blog-blogger-vegas-girls-weekend-madame-tussauds-delano-ideas-what-to-see-clean-fun147Blush Tote / Luggage / Panama Hat / Moto Jacket / Booties / Pants

We continually walked by Michael Jackson ONE show and there were 6 sequential shots of him that we wanted to do with each of us by the end of our trip – perfect hat? Panama hat by J.Crew.

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So long Vegas, it was great catching up with you.  Thanks for hosting memories for all of us and having all the fun entertainment and great food for a Vegas Girls Weekend!  Until next time!

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Thanks to my darling irreplaceable girlfriends who always make girl time fun and our conversations transparent that make me feel challenged and encouraged.  I love you girls so much, I love laughing and sharing happy and sad tears with you. Just going through life with each and every one of you is a gift and we are so very lucky to have each other. xx

Lifestyle, Personal, Southwest, Travel

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I can’t count the years now, but I wish to say this is my fifth or sixth year in the NAPA Auto Parts Classics Calendar.  Every year or two, New York photographer Dan Lyons comes out to the Phoenix area to photograph classic cars, write and review them as well.  It’s been a great friendship we have over the years so I was happy to be asked to return.

Last time the weather was terribly rainy and cold I would wear my puffer jacket and throw it in the car while we shot for a few minutes.

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The drill is that ahead of time I know all of the car colors (or most anyway), and just bring all of my suitable dresses and jumpers.  I try not to do the top and bottom thing with a skirt and top as that complicates thing since my dressing room is actually my SUV on the side of the road.

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I put up a sunshade in the front, hang the dresses on the side for additional blocking and my windows are tinted.

I throw all shoes in a basket and in the car.  After all these years I have it down.

The Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren tank dress was just what I wore driving to the location.

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Some of these dresses I wore for the last time, a way I feel like I actually wore them even if it was just a second time ever.  I let my dear mother-in-law take her pick of some of the dresses that would fit her to take home.  The rest, Glam Garage Sale.

I need a bigger SUV by the way, my current one is what they call a cross-over, I guess that means mini SUV?  I want a bigger car not because I plan on shuttling people (or babies) around, but because I need something bigger for all my nursery and Craigslist purchases!

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In the current 2015 calendar I’m in there two months of the year – some might still have the calendar.

 

A few Classic Calendar inspired dresses:

Lifestyle, Personal

friendship-christian-accountability-friend-iron-sharpens-iron-proverbs-27-17Doors of Notre Dame de Paris

Happy Friday my friends!  I wanted to share what I’ve been going through these past few months and give so much credit to my circle of friends for being such good conscious people to help me through tough situations.

Sometimes we just need to run our life troubles by a good friend or two, or five – ones with a good conscious, perspective and wisdom on what to do.

Over the past few months I’ve been encouraged by my husband, closest friends and small group to react to difficult times or people in a loving way.  While I know what is right from wrong, there can be moments of weakness when I’m overcome with sadness, confusion or anger that I want to react in my own way, while knowing that action may escalate the problem - oh but it would feel oh so good for that split second, right?  

These girlfriends of mine are like little angels sitting on my shoulder outnumbering the little devil on my other shoulder -my flesh.

And sometimes, it’s roll reversal and it’s my turn to be even tempered.

In times like these, these friends save me from myself!  They look at the circumstance as an outsider and find a better way for me to react, to resolve the conflict, or just a prayer or few words of encouragement to allow me to let it be.  Sometimes when I don’t want to be the bigger person, or I know I should be, or I’m tired of being it – they bring me back to being one.

It’s that feeling you want when you call a girlfriend and you kinda of want her to agree with you and say, “Yeah! That’s horrible, do this back!” – like gas that fuels the fire – but the truth is I don’t get that reaction and deep down I’m SO grateful.  What I want is to do the right thing, even when it’s hard.

The thoughts I decided to keep to myself and react on my own, I terribly wish I had only asked for counsel, or took a walk around the block.  Those situations turned ugly are now filed under “life lessons learned” but I’d like that file to be fewer – even if I think I’m in the victim/in the right, there’s no better feeling in knowing that you handled the situation in a way that would be pleasing, and honoring to God.

Let’s surround ourselves with good people with good thoughts that will help us react better to the bad times – and let’s be that person back so we can make the world a much better place for all of us.

Lifestyle, Personal

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We love visitors, and we especially love time with family.  Mom and dad came in town from Champaign, Illinois for two weeks and the best part was the last week when they moved out of their rented apartment to stay with us.

Liberty who doesn’t seem to like anyone ended up taking a liking to mom – or perhaps mom really took a liking to her – isn’t this so cute?

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We ate at Chestnut, a neighborhood favorite – love their cinnamon rolls (request them heated up), but sadly we got there too late on a Sunday because they were out!  I ordered a Short Rib Manwich but found out they had ran out after the meals arrived that I had to quickly pick another dish.  So, I chose the chestnut chicken salad while I munched on Benjamin’s short rib hash which I’ll have to order next time hoping they don’t run out of short rib again and tell me after everyone else’s dish is served.

Arizona won the Pac 12 Championships which meant I had to wear the gear the next day to gloat.  Oh, and this pretty thing had to go up too (blue version, love this one).  We also own this little flag too.

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One of our favorite neighbors told me I was bringing the property value down in the neighborhood.  He admitted UofA should have been Seed No. 1 and not No.2, and he had us in the Final Four so I thanked him for setting his pride aside to admit it.  Rivalry can be so much fun, right?  Good luck boys!  That reminds me, I need to text my friend about him getting back his stolen $2 million!

Aside from spring training, shopping, eating out and cooking, we had s’mores last night.  Mom and I started the fire ourselves – I think I had a campfire badge from Girl Scouts.  I’m not sure how to keep it from smoking but my hair smelled like a bonfire.

Here’s our backyard at night – not very bright looking out from the patio.  I’m hoping one of these summers to get more backyard lighting, maybe more lights strung up.

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Do you like toasting things over an open flame?  This is the cutest marshmallow twig roaster from Terrain, I had been wanting to use it for years!  We ate them on bunny paper plates from JoAnn’s that I bought last Easter.  Perfect timing!  Fire pit from Target (similar), adirondack chairs from Ace Hardware.

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Hope you have a hoppy start to your week!

Lifestyle, Personal

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These past few weeks have just flown by – my inlaws are in town, who I lovingly just refer to as mom and dad (but for the sake of blogging just wanted to clarify).  It’s been so fun – dad likes to walk around the home with a screwdriver in his hand and fix everything, loose knobs, toilet paper holders, chairs, and the list I made of home projects all got fixed!  Hurray!

We upgraded the outdoor light sconce with this one from Pottery Barn, then took the old one and moved it to replace an outdoor light fixture I’m not sure why I didn’t replace sooner.

Mom and I have been shopping like, a lot.  She loves shopping just as much as me and being from a small town in Illinois, it’s even more fun to take her to all the amazing shopping and hidden spots here – including the bargain basement, Last Chance!

We also enjoyed opening weekend of spring training – we went to the Dodger/White Sox stadium in Glendale.

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I watched the game for maybe 5 minutes, and maybe 30 seconds of it was attentively.  The rest was on my This Old House magazine I brought along and this Dodger Dog that was as long as my thigh.

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We sat behind home plate and I only had to sit in the sun for 10 minutes before the shade saved me.

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I hadn’t been to a spring training game since college, the weather has been so perfect, any excuse to head outside is a good one for me, even if it’s watching sports. *wink*

Lifestyle, Personal, Southwest, Travel

jcrew-fashion-blogger-phoenix-arizona-lifestyle-model-117The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. – James 5:16

I know I’m being prayed for because I see it working.  In the past two months, doors have been opened and I’m walking through them.  I’ve yet to discover what some of the doors lead to, but I’m hopeful.  The past month an old friend of mine who I met almost 10 years ago at a Women’s Business Conference asked if I had any prayer requests. I mentioned business – because being self-employed can be hard, because being an entrepreneur can be overly busy or totally boring, and because social media can either fill your head with really good stuff, or make you feel inadequate.  And well, because prayer is like the best gift you could ever give someone and sharing what you need prayer for shows your vulnerability and keeps you humble.

I have signed up for a few educational courses in regards to blogging – how to get better at it.  These are educationally informative, similar to photography workshops I took years ago as a budding photographer before I turned my hobby into a profession. As with anything, I believe in doing any specialty right and investing time and money.  Now about this blogging thing – some of you know me personally, many of you know me as a photographer, and some of you may just know me as a blogger.  If I can be completely candid, my blog exists to focus on the things I do – photography and my graphic design - and every so often there’s a fun project or business I get to work with that I would typically want to engage with in every day life anyway.  So this is an open journal/diary of my life and I love the ability to interact with anyone who reads or needs assistance in a specific area (I hear you, gardening and photography, got it!).

If you’re hoping to sharpen up on your blogging, check out the SoFabU on the Road which stops in Phoenix, Saturday, March 28.  It’ll take place at The Scottsdale Plaza Resort with sponsors including Johnny Rockets, Müller, Kraft and iBlog.  The one day event is filled with networking opportunities and blogging tips by Aliza Sherman who I am super excited to learn from and hopefully be reaffirmed I’m doing it right, or be gently corrected if I’m doing it all wrong.  If you’re not in Phoenix, there are additional across the country stops, the tour just started.  If you go, let me know, I’d like a friend or two to sit with.

Disclaimer: I am a Social Fabric Influencer and volunteered to write a post mentioning the conference in exchange for a discounted ticket. As always all opinions are my own. Hope to see you there!

Lifestyle, Personal

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Let us find the kind of fearlessness and passion that makes us feel alive.

An old high school girlfriend of mine got back in touch over the years and now we text every Sunday to check in to see how we can pray for each other and how we’re doing.  Knowing that you have someone dedicated to praying for you and a specific obstacle or hope for the week is just wonderful.  It’s amazing how old friendships can circle back around in your life, stronger than ever, and also sad to realize the friendships you thought would never change, just somehow do.

I choose to stay positive though and remind myself that if an old high school friend I lost touch with over 10 years ago can become a friend I text every week today and pray for can come back into my life, than certainly all friendships can be rekindled over time.  Sometimes you just let life evolve the way it should. :)

A few things I’ve learned this week:

  • A covered pot makes water boil faster – it is unfortunate I did not practice this sooner. So many wasted minutes in the kitchen.
  • The more you talk, the more likely you are to sin with your mouth.  This is something I’m reminded of from my over commitments, or just over talking like all women can do.  So I’m trying to slow down on chiming in and not blurting out every thought or knowledge.
  • It is worth reading promotional emails – I saved $15 a month on my cell bill just by actually paying attention to an email promotion.  $15 x 12 = $180.
  • Even when mad, there’s a point when you realizing continuing to be upset serves no purpose, so accept it, and try to find humor in it or just move on.
  • Shoe too big?  Use a cotton ball and stuff it in the toe.  Saved one of my favorite pair of heels.

This week has been restful.  Lots of cleaning, organizing, relaxing, slow cooking and catching up with friends over food has been good for my soul.  It’s when I overload my schedule when I start to not enjoy myself, so I choose to have the right perspective and realize how much of a blessing every day is – whether it is packed or not.

I hope you make time to do the things that make you feel alive.

{Photo: Melissa Schollaert}

Lifestyle, Personal

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