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, sewing 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: Travel

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Last week the Benjamin’s side of the family, mom’s side, had their yearly family reunion. We traveled from Phoenix, Nashville, and Austin to Mahomet, Illinois – right outside of Champaign which is the home of University of Illinois!

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It’s been a while since we’ve been together so this called for a special toast – with personalized Cokes. After seeing the Share a Coke campaign in Ireland and London two summers ago, I was thrilled to see it make it to the US! Even more so, to see my name.

You can also get a personalized REESE’S cup to pair with your Coke, each pack has a theme “BFF” might have “bestie” and “BFF” in it, and “2 FUNNY” might have “smooth” and “epic” in there, it’s a mixture! It’s amazing how personalized items and labels can be fun memories – and great social media sharing pics!

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Look, we shared our Cokes with each other.

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See if your name is on a Coke here, there are over 1000 names printed on bottles available at Walmart, a huge campaign! And if you have a unique name, you can order a custom Coke – although I must say I’m impressed by the selection of names spelled in different ways that are available!

My sister-in-law’s name is not Precious, just so you know, it’s actually Larisa. But I do think she’s precious.

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After all the family got in, we drove 30 minutes to our family reunion grounds, we checked into the most darling bed and breakfast, called Timbercreek in Paxton. It’s so beautiful and cute inside, each room has a theme and you feel as though you’re staying in a fancy guest bedroom.

The breakfast was amazing, a breakfast version of haystacks (all the insides of a burrito minus the tortilla) and you add cheese sauce on it. Great farm food!

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I also saw lightening bugs for the first time in my life. They are so romantic! I tried to take a photo but that was too hard with the camera I had, next time.

At Walmart they have bins toward the front of the store with the Share a Coke names.

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The 40 different personalized RESSES’S Peanut Butter Cups with fun words like “Epic”, “Fab!”, “My Fav”, “BFF” and more. You can find them at the end caps of the cash register aisles.

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The personalized REESE’S cups are only available at Walmart.

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It was an overcast day, which turned into thunderstorms which was incredibly fun. Thankfully we had a tent and any breaks in weather the kids immediately went outside to play games. It was the perfect summer day. I haven’t been to a family reunion for maybe 15 years – my side hasn’t had one and after going to one, I am thankful to have married into such a warm, welcoming family. I didn’t know a lot of people and every one came up to me, including the teenagers and kids and introduced themselves. I wish the reunion was a 2-day event and we lived closer.

Pretty much an “epic” weekend if I do say so myself.

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Find more Share a Coke and Enjoy a REESE’S ideas here.

With whom would you Share a Coke? Any fun plans this summer?

Lifestyle, MidWest, Personal, Product Reviews, Travel

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Making soap in Marseille – of course!

When you come back from a trip do you unpack this much stuff? I’m a big souvenir person – French linens, soaps, I cookies, I mean all of it is just worth the suitcase space. And I’m notorious for leaving clothing behind to make room.

Here are five travel souvenir ideas that are lightweight a bit non traditional and the main purpose is that you’ll actually use them so you’ll think about your travels every time you see them – after all, that’s the purpose of a souvenir, right?

Tea Towel

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My girlfriends knew I’d kick off this post with a tea towel. I have a weakness for tea towels when I travel – I also have a hard time getting just one from my trip – especially if it’s a long one. This one is from Liberty London, which also has a pop up at Nordstrom right now – go online here and buy a few items without having to order online from London!

When it comes to tea towels, look for iconic illustrations, or a country map! You’ll think of it every time you do the dishes.

Floaty Pen/Hotel Pen

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Floaty pens rule. I’m so glad they’re still around. If you can’t find one, look at the hotel pen, if it’s a cool place it should be a pretty cool pen. Use it daily, or keep it in your checkbook. When you write a check you’ll be dreaming about your next travel and maybe it’ll keep you from spending money on the small things and start saving for the bigger trips.

Jewelry

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This was an earring turned into a necklace charm, I took it to my jeweler and for $30 he added the hook. It was 10 kt gold, and this is of course from Ireland. My girlfriend Melayne has the other one so it’s almost like a BFF necklace too!

Street vendor art

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From watercolors to bracelets or knit hats – maybe it doesn’t specify the place you bought it, but it will bring back memories from your trip which is what it’s all about, right? Here’s a shot in Galway, Melayne bought a knit hat. I also love sewed items, and paintings!

Map

Use the one you used to navigate through the trip (or grab an extra new one) to cut up and make into a pretty display:

Or a pretty map to display at home as art like this illustration from Northern Ireland – I found the frame at Goodwill for $8. The matting and framing however cost a bit… but that’s OK!

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Ir this Ashford Castle estate map for hotel guests that was just too pretty to not frame:

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What’s your favorite souvenir to purchase?

Travel, Travel Tips

IMG_5501Our hotel room view of Union Square

I have been looking forward to a girl’s trip, my Club MED girls weekend in San Francisco to visit Emily. I was dying for better temperatures and a better mood!

My dad was born in SF, my yun yun lived here before moving to Sacramento for her last years, so SF is like a second hometown in terms of how often I’ve been to the bay – exploring it as an adult is completely different. At night, the temperatures were in the 50s, highs around 65, the first night Mel and I came in, we checked into the Clift Hotel, part of the Morgan Hotel Group (so posh, owns the Delano Las Vegas).

jardiniere-restaurant-san-franciscoDrapey Jumpsuit: Abercrombie & Fitch

We had a nice fancy dinner in Jardiniere, a French/Californian style restaurant. This is when I gave the girls the initial necklaces.

For dinner, I ordered lamb. I always gravitate towards duck or lamb on the menu. It was so small (one chop) and I was quite hungry after so we ordered two desserts which made up for it, always.

San Francisco Ferry Building

Oh my goodness look – I’m drinking hot coffee in the summer!

IMG_5469Sweater: Maurie & Eve / Sunglasses: Tiffany & Co. / Tank: Alexander Wang

The next morning we woke up early to head to the San Francisco Ferry Building. Located along the Embarcadero at the foot of Market Street, it is considered the center of a transit hub that connects all of San Francisco’s neighborhoods and the surrounding bay communities.

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The Ferry Building boasts an impressive farmers market, and we picked up some coffee by Sight Glass, a few pastries and had a nice breakfast outside enjoying the sun and view of the bay bridge.

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Nob Hill Spa

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We had massages scheduled that morning at Nob Hill Spa. Emily surprised us by upgrading our massage appointments from 50 minutes to 80 minutes which was absolutely heavenly, thanks Em! I had an aromatherapy massage and I have to add that it was the best massage I’ve ever had at a spa in my life, so relaxing and I felt like a new woman.

We went outside on the deck to enjoy the view and chit chat, and eat fruit.

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I never eat apples, except when I’m at the spa, strange?

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We walked through to a small boutique hotel called The Scarlet Huntington.

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We decided to walk back to our hotel, and then saw this street.  Woah.

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Yeah, like I said, woah.

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It was also windy that day/weekend/normally.

We hopped into an Uber (click for a free trip up to $20). We used Uber the entire time and I am definitely buying stock once it goes public! We went to Emily’s apartment in the Hayes Valley neighborhood so we walked around. Saw cute houses like this.

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Then saw the famous Painted Ladies you see in the opening of Full House. It was pretty busy with dogs, people, adults hitting pinatas. It was windy but so wonderful to be walking around getting some fresh air.

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Smitten Ice Cream

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Fresh pure and creamy ice cream made to order from Smitten. How do they make it that fast? With nitrogen that makes it so cold while it churns that you get your cup of ice cream ASAP. We ordered a small mint ice cream for $7 in a cup.

The line was ridiculously long, but luckily, the weather was perfection so it wasn’t bad. Apparently a huge deal because LeBron James was spotted there, for you sports fans.

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While I waited in line, the girls picked up Blue Bottle Coffee, mine was called a New Orleans, something close to an mocha latte (not pictured) but has chicory, which I would say it tastes similar to Mexican chocolate like mole. I am going to buy some online, that’s how great it is – SF has some great coffee, very comparable to coffee in Phoenix, I’m a coffee snob and I approve!

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We continued to walk and the stores are adorable – some expensive, but just simple and sophisticated in design.

Akiko’s Restaurant

Dinner at Akiko’s that night, it was wonderful but you’ll have to look for the number because the sign isn’t outside. We walked by several times.

akikos-japanese-restaurantJacket: BB Dakota / Jumpsuit: Marshall’s (similar) / Bag: Halogen (similar)

Driving around Pacific Heights

After a great breakfast we got in Emily’s car and she drove us around to show us some gorgeous neighborhoods, including Pacific Heights – the homes that look like Hollywood homes, large scale, and beautiful views, true millionaires, old money, just luxury living with stunning views.

There are so many parts of San Francisco it’s been fun to take a weekend to really explore one part of it instead of rushing through to see all of it. I also forget parts I’ve seen and haven’t over the years. Revisiting is just heavenly and being with friends puts that extra sweetness into exploring.

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Crissy Field

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Tank: Free People / Jacket: BB Dakota / Denim: J Brand / Flats: M. Gemi / Sunnies: Quay

Crissy Field had a few views of the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s where the bay meets a forest which is pretty cool, it was a quick stop for some photos.

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The girls call this the Diana Pose. It started in LA and I’m pretty sure I never did this exact pose but it’s very modelesque. I approve.

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Good food, relaxing indulgences, a little shopping, and great conversation, that’s what’s good for the soul, and that’s what goes down in the books for a weekend well spent – Club MED style.

Um, dang focus, but this was too cute that I had to share it anyway! I’ll print it in a 3×3 or smaller size so it looks less blurry, boo technology!

DSC09143CLUB MED: Melissa, Emily, Diana

I hope you all have a great weekend and I hope this makes you want to grab a girlfriend or two, or five and head out of town or schedule even a dinner to make some fantastic memories together. I am thankful for all my different groups of friends that make me who I am today, life would never be the same without them!

Have you been to San Francisco? What are your favorite parts of town to explore?

Lifestyle, Personal, Travel, West Coast

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