Christmas with Dillie & Dallie!

23rd December 2015

We decided around sometime in August/September that we really wanted to take the opportunity of having some time off around Christmas (finally) to travel abroad again, but since we weren’t leaving till Christmas Eve I HAD to still decorate! We normally go to the NC Farmer’s Market and purchase a real tree but since we knew we’d be abroad for around 2 weeks we opted to use an old family faux tree. It was the perfect solution for this year but we look forward to a real tree next year!



I always try to bring in some “real” pieces of Christmas through garland and wreaths that I still purchase at the Farmers Market.


Our house is pretty colorful so I’ve been trying to mesh our decorations to be a little more colorful than a traditional red and green scheme. We also unfortunately don’t have a fireplace so the only place we have for our stockings is the staircase, but it works perfectly I think!


I sure hate when we have to take the decorations down, it’s so magical!!


We hope that you love decorating for Christmas as much as we do!! It’s definitely one of the best times of year. The lights, the decorations and memories are so beautiful! And the Christmas cards!! Remember my earlier post about ordering our Christmas cards from Minted? Well, drum roll please….


Merry Christmas Y’all!!

Charleston, South Carolina

16th December 2015

Nick and I have the opportunity to get to Charleston about once a year (thanks to our sister and brother-in-law who live in Kiawah), and we love to just get lost in Charleston and wander around and eat amazing food. That is one claim to fame that Charleston has, delicious, southern food! It may not be a Chicago, New York or San Francisco but Charleston has humble chefs allowing tourists and locals alike to enter into culinary heaven.


Charleston is also charming and romantic. The whispering Spanish moss hanging from above but reaching out to touch you, the historic cobble stone streets that harbor so much history, the gorgeous homes that line the street welcoming you into this wonderful world. It feels as though it’s a hidden secret that you’re able to stumble upon because you took the right turn. If you haven’t visited sweet Charleston, there’s no time like the present. It’s beautiful year round (although I would avoid high summer as the humidity and heat can be a bit uncomfortable).

If you’re planning on visiting Charleston soon, here are some helpful tips we’d love to share with you! But let’s be honest, our main focus is always food, so here are our best restaurants in Charleston!

Two Boroughs Larder: This casual eatery is a great informal spot to have farm to table eats and snatch up some of your provisions while eating seasonal dishes along with carefully curated wines and local beers. This is an awesome spot to grab lunch!

Minero: This tiny local gem has fantastic casual Mexican food with excellent street style tacos, guac, and cocktails at a great price. Not to mention the Chef is a James Beard award winner.


Husk: Well if you haven’t heard this restaurants name thrown around yet, I’ll throw it out there one more time. This restaurant has been mentioned from Bon Appetit, to Southern Living, to Food and Wine so it’s no wonder this table is tough to snag. This Southern kitchen cooks up local favorites and focuses on local bounty.

Taco Boy: Ok, so obviously we have a thing for Mexican food. This staple started out originally on Folly Beach but they now have a spot in Charleston and you MUST go. Their tacos are amazing, their nachos are too and I’m always crying that we don’t have one in Raleigh..


The Ordinary: “Fancy Seafood. Oyster Hall.” I could not sum it up better. Supporting local fishermen, crabbers, oystermen, and further local producers, this restaurant serves up great food, drinks and a great atmosphere as the restaurant is located in an old bank. The same people that bring you amazing food at FIG, their passion for serving great food in Charleston is evident.

167 Raw: Literally a hole in the wall, ok more like the size of a fancy walk-in closet, this ALWAYS packed oyster house is super fresh (that’s how you should want your oysters, obviously). Bringing the taste of Nantucket down to Charleston, providing only the most fresh seafood from oysters to their famous Lobster roll, it’s worth the wait!



Edmund’s Oast: This off the beaten path Charleston eatery is serving up over 40 beers on tap, awesome cocktails and adventurous food. They even have a Charcuterie Program, and that my friends, can make our hearts skip a beat. Almost everything is scratch made, and that also includes their house cured charcuterie. A perfect place to meet friends and hang out for an afternoon on their outdoor patio on a perfect day.


After your meal you must get lost in this beautiful city. Walking off all the food you’ve consumed on the cobblestone streets or wandering through the cemeteries is a perfect way to spend your afternoon in Charleston. Don’t forget about some shopping on King Street. Snag some beautiful antiques or get that purse you’ve been thinking about. Don’t forget to take a carriage ride around town and learn historical facts about this fascinating city!


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

7th December 2015

I can’t believe it’s already December. I’m really not sure where time goes each year, but one thing is for sure, we love Christmas time. There’s nothing like the warmth the magical lights of Christmas bring, the smells echo memories of Christmas past and everyone is united in the understanding of this time for giving. If you’re lacking in the holiday spirit this year, we wanted to suggest ideas of how to get in the Christmas spirit!

In the Raleigh area:


In North Carolina:

  • Grab your family and go cut down your own Christmas tree this year! Check out Watagua County’s map of Christmas tree farms.
  • Nothing could be finer than to see the United States largest family home, the Biltmore, decked out in its Christmas best!
  • See over 3 million Christmas lights the Charlotte Motor Speedway with their light show.
  • Be dazzled by the annual holiday light celebration at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens.
  • Visit Old Salem and glimpse the glowing Moravian stars, spend Saturdays with St. Nick or take your own self-guided tour.

We hope these ideas give you some inspiration for this Holiday season and we hope it’s a magical one this year and we are glad to have a great State to celebrate the holidays in as well!

Homemade Pizza

18th November 2015

When we received our Kitchenaid stand mixer last Christmas, one of the items I was most excited to make at home was pizza! I love pizza and find it very hard to find good pizza in our area. (Although we did stop for lunch at Pizzeria Toro in Durham and we really love that!) This past winter I was only working part-time and so I started making homemade pizza a lot. It helped us hone in on how to make good pizza, what sauces and cheeses we like, and how to cook it perfectly.

One of our favorites that we haven’t looked back on, is the Nello’s marinara sauce. It’s actually made locally and it has the best flavor! I’ve become so picky on tomato sauce because some are too sweet and over powering that I don’t get to appreciate the other ingredients, but Nello’s has been the perfect solution. Plus it’s great to shop local!


To start with homemade pizza, I love to use Bobby Flay’s pizza dough recipe:


  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling (Chef’s Note: Using bread flour will give you a much crisper crust. If you can’t find bread flour, you can substitute it with all-purpose flour which will give you a chewier crust.)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 envelope instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water, 110 degrees F
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons


Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.

Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm area to let it double in size, about 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay © 2015 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.


A few ingredients and about an hour later, you have an excellent pizza dough, like above! Yum!

Once your ready to cook, preheat your oven as high as it can really go. If you can get it to 500 degrees, that would be great. You don’t need a pizza stone, but if you have one, make sure to preheat the stone! If you’re cooking on cookie sheet, it’s good to pop it into the oven for a few minutes too. While doing so, roll out the dough with a rolling pin, or even a glass! Stretch it, roll it fluff it with your hand on a floured surface. Grease your baking sheet if you’re using one and place the dough on the baking sheet and roll it out a bit more. Go ahead and put the dough in the over to crisp up for 3-4 minutes before we add any more ingredients.

Once the dough has crisped (check underneath to dough to see if it is no longer sticking), take the dough out of the oven and add all ingredients except for the cheese, and cooking for another 4-5 minutes. Take the pizza out and add your fresh mozzarella (use fresh!), bake for 2-3 minutes, and broil for the last minute to bubble the cheese, and viola! All done! Definitely use your oven light though and vary your cooking times depending on your oven and how quickly it bakes though.

Use any of your favorite ingredients and you’ll have an amazing pizza!


Bon appétit!

Anniversary Recap

16th November 2015

We celebrated our third anniversary on Tuesday, November 10th and we had a wonderful weekend together! I took Tuesday off so that I had a three day weekend to have a little extended rest and relaxation. On Sunday we kicked off our weekend by watching the Carolina Panthers of course. Sunday was really low key but that’s how we prefer to spend our Sundays. On Monday we went to lunch at Bida Manda. We have only been about two or three times but every time we go we remember just how great the restaurant is! Get the Pumpkin Curry, you won’t regret it! (Thanks for the recommendation Jenni Turner!) After lunch we made our way to the IMAX theater to see the new James Bond flick, Spectre. It was great as always. Lots of action, fashion, adventure and beautiful people. We actually saw Skyfall before we left for our honeymoon two days after we were married so it was only natural that we spent our day the same way!

In case you haven’t seen the Spectre trailer, now you have. 😉

On Monday after the movie, Nick told me to get dressed and get ready for dinner at a location unbeknownst to me. So we got all decked out to the nine’s and headed out first for a drink at the Umstead and then to our mystery location..

Here’s a fun animation that Google put together at our attempts at selfies of us all gussied up for dinner! Followed by a fancy cocktail at the Umstead. Hubby didn’t have a great idea for getting me out of the house for the chef to set up so cocktails were in order.

So after an hour of being away for cocktails, we headed back towards Raleigh and Nick said he had to use the bathroom and couldn’t wait so he pulled off at our exit to run inside to “use the bathroom” and told me to come in too. When we walked in Nick surprised me with an at home chef!! Chef John Upsal was cooking a private meal for two, super romantic and cozy to be at home. Chef Upsal owns a catering company in the Raleigh area, called Spread, and does corporate events, catering, weddings, etc so we HIGHLY recommend him for any of your party needs (Christmas is coming up!). Chef Upsal used to be the chef at Poole’s so if any of you Raleighites know a thing or two about dining in Raleigh, you know it’s one of the restaurants in the area!

Scratch made: Smoked trout rillette, house made pork paté, and house made pork rillette with Yellow Dog Bread.

Local North Carolina Beef Tartare!

A salute to the chef but also a homage to our last bottle of Champagne from Reims, France that we bought on our trip last year. Their last Vintage as well. But also the culprit for our dinner being postponed to night 2…

A little special something from the chef, fresh caviar!

North Carolina oysters with fresh caviar!

Pumpkin, beet and blue cheese salad

Unfortunately after all these yummy courses, we’ve come to realize Nick has an allergy of sorts to CHAMPAGNE. Of all things, CHAMPAGNE, and the real stuff too, not prosecco which we had the morning before with mimosas.. Unfortunately it causes him to get sick, and this has happened a few times this past year. It’s definitely an inconvenient allergy and we’re not quite sure about it, but needless to say, Nick could not eat any further on Monday night. The chef was SO gracious to come back on Tuesday night to finish our meal after our trip to the Umstead for a couple’s massage on our real anniversary. We are so thankful for the chef to finish our lovely meal and truth be told, I was definitely full by all the yummy-ness above!

Ahh… The Umstead Spa is FANTASTIC! I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a getaway in the Raleigh area. The only real co-ed areas though, are the pool pictured above and the lounge area above as well. (The fireplace unfortunately is in the ladies spa.) It is a really relaxing place and the massages are GREAT! Definitely check it out for a special occasion. Then after our massage and spa day, it was time to finally finish our anniversary meal!

Our beautiful bottle of Brunello we brought back from our trip to Italy!

Whipped eggplant puree, grilled octopus, shitake mushrooms, and roasted red peppers!

Probably the most amazing part of the night: Pork belly, homemade ricotta gnocchi and butternut squash.. SIMPLY AMAZING!

Braised short ribs with shitake mushroom risotto

And the grand finale of homemade pecan pie with homemade vanilla ice cream.. I mean, what more could a couple want?!


13th November 2015

Clearly we have an affinity for France and even more so Paris, so these attacks on Paris come as a complete shock. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved and we are happy to hear most of our friends in France are OK. #peaceforparis

Minted Christmas Cards

12th November 2015

I can’t believe it’s already that time of year, but yes we have already started shopping for Christmas cards! I really love the tradition and love checking the mailbox everyday to find goodies from friends and family. It’s just warming to see your friends smiling faces, pregnancy announcements, babies, couples, and even their pups. So naturally I love putting effort into selecting the perfect Christmas card!

The past few years I have found myself using Minted for our cards because they offer an economical solution to sending photo cards, enter holiday POSTCARDS. I am able to receive the same photo quality for a third of the price and I can even buy cheaper stamps. For me it’s a win-win. Especially since Minted has SO many options for postcards too. It really makes the process easy but also difficult to choose a winner.

Since our wedding three years ago I have used their postcards for our holiday cards and I have been always SO happy with the result! Here are our past holiday cards.

If you’re interested in trying Minted, I suggest you use this referral code and get $25 off your first purchase!

Minted holiday card from 2012

Minted holiday card from 2013

Minted holiday card from 2014

Wish I could share my selection for this year, but you’ll have to wait a little longer! But definitely check out Minted and let me know what you think! (This is is no way, sponsored by Minted either, I just love their products! :))

three years <3

10th November 2015

Nick and I are celebrating three wonderful years together and it’s always so hard for me to choose a few of our favorite photos, but there’s always our wedding video that REALLY relives the magic! Thanks to Scott Simerly for giving us this epic gift that we can relive all the time. Happy anniversary Nick! I love what we have made together and am so excited to continue to watch it grow, but our wedding night was definitely one epic party! <3

Amanda & Nick [A Simile Wedding Film] from Scott Simerly Jr. on Vimeo.

Fall So Far

4th November 2015

I know I know.. EVERYONE loves fall. I get it. But it is amazing. The trees are on fire and blazing colors that are more amazing than crayola can put in a box. The cool weather just seems to calm everyone’s soul and we are settling in for a season of thankfulness and giving. It’s a pretty fantastic time! Our good ole’ state of North Carolina really capitalizes on fall with a definite changing of the season but also the State Fair, ACC football, fresh apples, and Halloween. So if you haven’t realized just how much I love fall yet, here’s a few photos to prove it.

Outdoor Makeover

19th October 2015

Let’s be honest. Town homes do not have a lot of privacy or personality when it comes to outside. Things tend to have to be uniformed, you’re connected to another persons yard and it’s a small area so you’re really limited. Before we moved here we had an amazing porch on our old apartment, it fit multiple chairs and even a small bistro table! So we brought most of the things with us, but on our tiny bit of cement it feels a bit cramped and it really lacked in personality. Below is what we’re working with y’all. So.much.blah… and don’t even get me started on the trash cans.. 🙁

BUT we were really excited to finally get a grill!!! YAY! Those trash cans though, ugh!

For Mother’s Day my mom and dad visited and my mom decided to take me out to start getting organized a bit and really liking our yard. We have the option to fence in our yard completely with the matching wood (our neighbor did) but I just felt like it was going to be very closed in and not to mention, expensive! One day when I started browsing Lowe’s I saw a really pretty trellis that I thought could work and showed mom and she agreed. In the summer mandevilla is also a beautiful growing plant that would be a perfect plant to start growing up the trellis and it has gorgeous flowers! Below is the final product after mom visited.

We’ve since then moved around furniture and tried to keep rearranging so that we really started liking it. Since the plants grew over summer things are definitely looking up! We are starting to really love it. ALTHOUGH once the cold water hits.. no more mandevilla so we’re on the hunt for a vine that is a perennial. There’s always something y’all!! So I figured I’d share with you how pretty our plants look before the warm weather is officially gone, gone, gone…