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….
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!
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?!
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!
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! :))
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
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…
As you might remember, Nick and I participated last year in Raleigh’s Sister Citygolf exchange program and had the amazing opportunity to go to France and play golf and immerse ourselves in the culture of our sister city of Compiegne, France. We loved every second so this year we are returning the favor and hosting a guest of our own! Last year, our dearest Guilhene and Jaq opened their homes to us and helped provide breakfast and dinner for us as well as all transportation from Paris to Compiegne and around town (See part 1 and part 2 here!). This year we will be doing the same for our guest, Eric! We welcome him tomorrow and we are SO excited! (We’ll follow up with a post on our activities after our time with him is over.)
We are so excited, but with hosting a guest for a week, there are some steps to prep your home for your guests arrival, especially in the South. You know, Southern Hospitality..
Do a deep clean – clean the sheets, vacuum, clean the bathrooms, stock up on groceries and snacks and also toilet paper, paper towels etc. Do this a couple days ahead so that you won’t be rushing at the last minute.
Make it feel like home – Although guest can obviously use the whole house, sometimes their room may be more of a retreat. Provide some fun reading material, books, magazines, etc. Little touches like bottles of water or snacks are always a good idea. We have some local candy we purchased to provide for our guest and magazines about the area.
Fresh flowers – When you can it’s always nice to have fresh flowers in the guest room but also around the house. It’s an extra touch that goes a long way.
Bathroom essentials – I like to have a stack of fresh towels and wash cloths for our guests to use. They’re in a tray and I place it on the bed upon arrival. I also make sure there are toiletries in the shower (soap, shampoo, conditioner) but I also make sure underneath the cabinet may have things our guest needs and I don’t want them to feel weird looking! I have neatly arranged extra items, more soap, lotions, toothbrushes, combs. We also have a small jar that I placed a razor, shaving cream, mouth wash and tooth brush and tooth paste for Eric.
Wifi – In this day and age, it’s nice to have your Wifi information at the ready for your guests to use, think about framing the information next to the bed for easy access.
Food – Provide extra bottles of water, fruit and healthy snacks that any one would be interested in eating after a long day of travel or in our instance, playing golf!
Prep on your foreign language – If possible, it’s always wonderful to prepare yourself with helpful phrases in case your guest is not as fluent in English – and if nothing else, just to be respectful.
Personal gifts – For our guest, we want to make him feel like home, so we’re helping provide a golf glove, golf balls and a shirt for him to remember his time and to not stress about flying with so much!
Have fun – More importantly, enjoy experience and don’t sweat the small stuff too much! It’ll all work out in the end and you’ll have a great time!
Do you have any tips and tricks?! We’d love to hear them!
Today is a special day in the Dillman household! It’s Nick’s birthday! Although he prefers not to make it a big deal, I always love to celebrate a birthday! Either way, it’s important for him to know just how important he is to me and that every year I’m always grateful to know that I get to spend one more year with him as my best friend, travel partner, and husband. Our life so far has been an amazing journey, as we’ve been together since I was 21, so every milestone we check off together is truly amazing. I love you Nick and I’m so glad we get to do birthdays together forever!
Some exciting this happened this past week in the life of the Dillmans. We traded in Nick’s car for a 2016 Subaru Forester and we are so excited to see where this Subaru life takes us! With only 100 miles on the odometer we have quiet the life ahead with our Forester.
Before we had a 2003 Nissan Xterra and it was high time to say goodbye. Although we have two car payments for a couple of months with my Honda Accord, we needed to make the change.
We feel SO excited about this change and want to thank Johnson Subaru of Cary for helping us find the perfect car for our family, for now and for the future!
Our place may be a tad bigger than our old apartment but there are less storage options for us surprisingly. Like where does the wine go?! Of course a visit to Ikea allowed me quick and easy storage options in a small area. We have an empty wall next to our pantry and of course needed wine storage but we also installed two shelves to add some extra color and depth to the wall, and here’s the final product!
Easy peasy! Two of the Vurm wine rack for $20 ($9.99 each) and two PS 2014 shelves for $10 ($4.99 each). So cheap too! YAY!