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. Here I share my home life, work, and efficient lifestyle solutions.
My husband and I live in a restored 1952 red brick home that sits on a former citrus grove in Phoenix. I enjoy home decor, sewing and gardening. This is a glimpse into my life, travel, and work and the things that I discover along the way - with camera in hand.
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Potomac River, Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
Quick – when you hear the word Alexandria what do you think? Because if you said The Walking Dead, we are kindred spirits and we should watch all the episodes together.
Post Boston, and post Salem, I flew out of Boston on Jet Blue Airways to Dulles Airport. Southwest doesn’t fly direct, apparently you must go back to the center of nowhere in America to go back to the East Coast for some spots, just FYI. And the short distance will cost more than the flight across the country, go figure.
One of my bestest friends Michelle lives out in the DC area and I haven’t seen her for over a year, maybe even two. I must stop thinking about it before I become really upset at myself. So anyway, I figured if I was going to be so close to her, I should definitely make a stop.
I know you’re probably thinking, well if she’s one of your bestest friends, shouldn’t you see her more often? Yah I know, stop giving me a guilt trip. She’s got three kiddos and DC is super far from Phoenix – like the other side of the country. I also was on my summer tour (when I avoid the Phoenix weather and visit everywhere and anywhere) when she came out to Phoenix so it’s really my bad for missing her.
I used to be at Michelle’s house with her hubby usually three times a week when they lived in Phoenix. I was like their third wheel/kid in the backseat going with them to Costco. I even once spent a Valentine’s Day with them and with baby Ethan who is not a baby anymore, he’s almost 7. We briefly lived 15 minutes away from each other when I lived in Albuquerque as a newlywed. I kinda wiped that blip from my memory, it was only four months.
Anyway, I got picked up from the airport, saw my little lovie heads, proudly answered to “Auntie” which to me is the BEST title ever (I’m guessing it’s how ‘Mom’ sounds to some of you) and ate outside at a restaurant Michelle insisted was absolutely a must-eat – even if it meant our teeth were chattering.
In which Ethan, the oldest, who was shivering across the table said, “I’d like to order the hottest thing on the menu.” Me too, buddy.
The next day when the two oldest kiddos were in school, we went to Old Town Alexandria and ate at this adorable restaurant. I would sort of consider moving in, you know how I feel about brick.
I should have taken a picture of just the streets, they are small shops, quaint and charming. I found my typical travel souvenirs- a tea towel with Old Town Alexandria graphic on it. I also found two floaty pens in Boston, I’m pretty consistent with my shopping habits.
It was like I was STEPPING INTO FALL – ha ha.
This little dude moved away from me when he was a baby so when I was out there he would ask Michelle, “Where’s my friend?” until the last day I realized, little tike doesn’t know my badge of honor title! So I asked, “Excuse me, do you happen to know my name?” He stopped following me, looked up at me and said, “No, you tell me.” Once I told him, he repeated it slowly about three times then pointed at an advertisement of an Asian model in Ulta and said, “Auntie Diana!”
Good job buddy.
He likes to pose.
Seen here stealing my spotlight before I was going to jump at the United States Botanical Gardens in DC -
I do have to say this is the best jumping pic ever – and yes, he is in the air!
So my over all trip of Alexandria, aka the Safe-Zone in The Walking Dead was spending time with friends who are like family. I’m blessed to have a handful of bestest friends who are like family – and posting about this just gave me the much needed reflection and break I needed from my busy life.
Picking back up from last week’s Boston post about my recent/first time visit for the Wayfair Heart Home Conference, my travel babe Sommer wanted to take me to Salem.
Yes – where the Salem Witch Trials took place.
I realized I am terribly uneducated about the history about the Salem Witch Trials. I assumed the area had some bad juju, assumed everyone who died was actually a witch, and realized I knew nothing about anything when it came to Salem. Hey, I never claimed to be a history buff, I’m a creative. So this was some education eye opening visit!
After Sommer and I walked the Freedom Trail in Boston, we caught a train to Salem.
By train (commuter /outbound train, not the T), it’s less than a 30 minute ride – check the schedule closely for outbound and inbound from Salem to Boston. By car, it’s roughly 45 minutes. How do I know the distance by car? Oh, because we misread the train schedule and had to Uber it back to Boston at 11:30 PM. Thank God for Uber and the driver who was willing to drive us back to our hotel.
Here we are in Salem around 5 pm, in the courtyard of the city hall area from the movie Hocus Pocus. The city hall was to my left.
Halloween, witches, festivities, you get it – we heard Dakota Fanning was in town for who knows what, just for fun? If you’re going to visit Salem at all, the time to go is the month of October so you can go on a candlelit tours, see Haunted Houses (if getting chased by a dude in a costume and chainsaw is your thing), and enjoy the market festivities.
The entire town is celebrating during October and utilizing the tourism – like giant cockroaches on the house wall, eeek!
So back to the witches thing – I was super hesitant about going but Sommer swore it was beautiful and one of her favorite places. A place where there were witch trials? What?!
So aside from the actual factual history – let’s talk about Salem. It really is cute. There’s water.
Because Sommer is the most incredible travelie she knew where to go – and she insisted we stop and check out the House of the Seven Gables, which also has the house where Nathaniel Hawthorne was born (it was transported to where it sits now). Nataniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter, and The House of the Seven Gables.
The House of the Seven Gables is the black house you see in the back – it was a 1668 colonial mansion. It was the house that inspired Nathaniel to write a book about it – and now I need to buy the book.
There was this dreamy garden too…
Then as it got dark, we decided it was time to catch our candle lit tour through Salem.
During this tour we walked around the historic buildings, heard about the history, ghost stories, the bad sheriff who accused people of being witches and saw the cemetery. It wasn’t scary at all, it was really interesting to find out historic facts – we even passed the building where Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call! It’s now a popular seafood restaurant.
I caught my plastic cup on fire that was protecting my flame due to not paying attention and Instagramming. So I blew out my candle/cup that was on fire and I decided to not have candle light – it was windy that day. Flame cup fail.
Here’s a new memorial of stones for the 12 who were killed during the Salem Witch Trials. There is a stone wall on the side of the cemetery with a few large stones jetting out with their names engraved. Those executed never had a proper burial or marked grave, so this is a memorial. Pennies are on there because of the tradition of leaving pennies on graves through history – for many reasons, you’ll have to Google why people leave pennies for the dead.
Sommer was a good sport about going to the Salem Witch Museum even though she had already been. I really wanted to go – and then I didn’t realize it was like a Chuck E. Cheese with the characters only not as interactive – the figurines light up in corners of the room, but they don’t move.
I’m not ripping on it at all – because for $10, it was worth the educational value to find out how the Salem Witch Trials started and how some little scrappy crazy girl started it all for fun and ended up killing innocent people and ruining many lives.
And that’s the legit history.
But, the museum isn’t what you think – there are no artifacts and it’s more of a visual with voices. I do learn better that way, so it worked, but just be aware of that.
I think you’re pretty much screwed either way if I’m reading that correctly.
Then there are names of people accused of witchcraft and who died. One guy got crushed under weight because he wouldn’t give a confession if he was or wasn’t (either apparently meant all your goods were given away and not to your family). Giles Cory knew this and was pressed to death, but his family got to keep his wealth, what a brave man.
Oh, and anyone could accuse anyone of being a witch and whether you were or not, that was too bad – your valuable were taken away and your innocence was for others to decide.
In 2001, more than 300 years later all the names of those not previously listed were added to the resolution (from 1992) honoring those who had died – so all were finally proclaimed innocent! Read more about the Salem Witch Trials.
I definitely learned something new and got my refresher on history – this time I paid attention so I have my history facts straight! Maybe they should have taught that lesson like they did in this 45 minute statue museum.
The best part of exploring a spot is to ask the locals where they recommend you go next – whether it’s a museum, site, or restaurant! After checking out the Salem Witch Museum, we were starving and it was 9 PM – we were recommended to head to Sea Level, down by the water.
Due to JMar’s recommendation to eat a lobster roll, I ordered one after I had the most amazing calamari of my life.
I wish I ate more of that so I wouldn’t be craving it now looking at it.
Around 11 PM we headed back to the train station to find we missed the last train which was 9:20 PM, and so we had Uber pick us up and take us back to our Boston hotel – it only cost $45 so not terribly bad, and we had some good jams in the car.
Use Uber discount code dianas1645ue for a free ride on Uber up to $20. Thanks Uber for taking us back!
I’d love to revisit Salem one day and spend more time there, perhaps a few days. I also want to read more about the witch trials and watch the movie The Crucible (1996).
So that was our Salem trip! What did you think? Have you been?
I have always wanted to go to Boston in the fall for as long as I can remember. I’ve been to a lot of the United States and East Coast but beyond NYC, DC, Virginia and Rhode Island, those little states between further up have been a harder mission to get to.
I went for the Wayfair Heart Home Conference for home bloggers, I’m also a Wayfair Homemaker Blogger and I figured that was a good excuse as any to get my butt on a plane and just go! Mr. had to stay at home to work, sales is always a tough thing with hitting monthly numbers, so I invited any girlfriend to come along since I had hotel paid for – and this babe, Sommer decided to be my parter in crime! Sommer is also a great traveling companion (it’s amazing to find out you’re both on the exact same page in speed and interests). Find her on IG @sommertimetravel.
What airline is this? Sommer found a round trip from PHX to BOS for $250 on Sun Country Airlines! The layover was just in Minneapolis really quick. Once we landed in Boston our hair was blowing, and I realized, I should have packed a warmer jacket!
The next day, I attended the Wayfair conference – here I am at the hub in the Wayfair offices which was huge and absolutely gorgeous. I love everyone at Wayfair, they are just as cheery and happy as you would expect – they get to work in a beautiful office, you can tell the culture is wonderful too.
I met Maxwell Ryan who started Apartment Therapy – you’ve probably heard of that website and landed on it several times if you are into home decorating. He signed my book with my name *leap into the air*! He was the keynote speaker and gave such a great talk, the conference was packed with just amazing tips and tricks from experts and encouragement to blog about what we love – home decorating!
There were areas set up with companies and Joss & Main is a Wayfair company and challenged us to decorate the couch and take a picture. Well, I wasn’t surprised when I sat in there and saw that I blended right into the scenery. As my friend Emily said, “Where are you? I can’t see you!”
So while half of the day I was in class, Sommer did her thing and met me back with plans.
First, Gardner Museum! We took the T (subway). I am so thankful for Sommer planning and guiding everything, she was the absolute best! Yes, it was raining and I was loving it – see my smile?
If your name is Isabella, or it’s your birthday, you get in free, just FYI ;) When Sommer stumbled upon the Gardner Museum I was all about it – even though it wasn’t about a garden, I saw photos of one and it looked spectacular! So off we went, $5 for students, $15 for adults. We had one hour to take a peek and we could only take pictures in the courtyard. We weren’t allowed to go outside in the garden because it was raining.
That was fine because Sommer and I just spent most of our time in the courtyard anyway. Umbrellas have to be in bags, you can’t use a selfie stick and if you’re carrying a coat make sure it doesn’t brush up against the artwork. There are a lot of rules and people in every room making sure you don’t disturb or accidentally brush up against the artwork or walls – I get it, it’s a museum.
Isabella Gardner was left her father’s fortune when he passed and was encouraged by friends to accumulate a beautiful collection and when it grew, she decided to build a place to house her collection – she called it Fenway Court (as you see) which opened in 1903. She hired an architect but she had her input on specifications. The three floors are breathtaking, you’ll just have to take my word for it and visit.
There was a wing off to the side of the courtyard we had permission to photograph because it was still almost outside – and the guard timed us and told us we had two more minutes before the museum closed. Pressure!
I’m so glad Sommer wanted to check out Harvard, I never thought about it since the greater Boston area has over 100 colleges and universities in the area – the crowd is young! But really the main ones are Boston University, Northeastern University and University of Massachusetts – Boston and Bunker Hill Community college. I remember watching HGTV and they said the median age was something like 26 in one area. Harvard is technically in Cambridge.
I should have studied harder in high school and went to Harvard, it’s gorgeous. Although the only person I knew who went to Harvard got a 1600 on her SATs and is an incredible lawyer today, a talented pianist and a former Miss Arizona America. Benjamin told me Harvard rejects a lot of valedictorians every year – so I guess that meant I would have never had a chance, bummer, but that also makes me feel better, kinda…?
Sommer and I were hanging out in the student housing area and saw a wedding reception on the grounds in a giant covered tent. Can you imagine getting married at Harvard? Guessing they were graduates.
We asked a student who had quite an impressive mustache if he could point us to a bookstore, a Harvard one of course.
“We don’t really need books (as if it wasn’t already obvious we weren’t students), does it have Harvard stuff?” I clarified.
“Yes,” he smiled, “That’s the obnoxious thing about it.”
And now I have a Harvard tee.
We found some dinner – my side has the prosciutto on it, always a winner.
If I had all day, I would have started early morning and stopped to check out every historic spot along the Freedom Trail. The trail is marked by brick so you know if you’re going in the right direction.
There were a few times we got sidetracked and had to go back and find the brick path. There’s s much going on it’s easy to get distracted.
In effort to not totally jack up history because I could easily do that, let’s just say the Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile path through downtown Boston that takes you through 16 locations that are significant to the history of the United States.
We checked out Paul Revere’s house which was adorable, built in 1680 and owned by Paul Revere from 1770-1800.
I love the dark gray/black house color!
Here’s the Massachusetts State House -
The Granary Burying Ground – established in 1660 and is the final resting place for Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere and five victims of the Boston Massacre.
There I am by John Hancock’s grave.
There were also many other pretty things to see along the way -
Next week I’ll share Salem because I think that deserves it’s own post! Until next time Boston, I hope Wayfair has a conference every year so I can go back – and maybe ride this?
Have you been to Boston? What’s your favorite thing to do there?
Hi there! I’m Diana Elizabeth, named after Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth. Welcome to my world of creativity, gardening, simple living, and an extreme love for Europe.
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