Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year because it’s dedicated family time with no work commitments or crazy schedules. It’s an introvert’s dream and I look forward to the time off with my loved ones every year.

This year was especially memorable because it was our first Christmas in our new house (yes, we moved again, but for the last time EVER) and we live next to my husband’s parents. Think ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ except with a mother in law that I adore, and no plastic couch covers. Nick and I made the ten-second commute back and forth between our homes countless times during the two-week holiday stretch. I couldn’t have been happier in my pajamas and slippers.

If anyone asks, we really moved for the dog. Nigel’s friends (Nick’s parents’ dogs) live next door and he has daily playtime with his best buds. He also knows the f-word (friends), so you’ve been warned. You can’t say it unless you mean it.

Back to the holidays: this year, Nick and I asked for experiences and less stuff. Our new house is half the size of our last house and I’ve done my best to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle. It has felt amazing to purge anything that we do not need or that does not bring us joy. So, it should come as no surprise that we both gave each other experiences as our Christmas gifts.

Mine was less of a surprise because I had to make sure Nick could take the day off work, but I was truly surprised by the trip that Nick planned for me. We’re going to a remote cabin somewhere in Wisconsin in June and I cannot wait. I love having something to look forward to and there’s nothing better than time with your favorite person.

You probably know by now that my gift to Nick was a trip to West Baden (based on the blog post title). We had both visited separately for work events, but we’ve always wanted to go together. Nick also really wanted a room with an atrium room and now that I’ve experienced it, I have to say it’s worth the extra expense. We could see and hear the Christmas music playing under the dome. The Christmas decorations are unreal, and it reminds me of a step back in time. Incredible tile work, elaborate carpet patterns, and history everywhere you look. I think Nick and I were born as old souls and West Baden fits our personalities well.

We checked into the hotel late in the afternoon and we immediately went to the pool. The pool has a fleur-de-lis tile design and the walls are lined with black and white portraits of bathing beauties. It reminded me of the pool at the Biltmore in Asheville, but that one is no longer in use. Next, we went upstairs to get dressed for dinner at Sinclair’s. We ordered martinis at the bar inside the atrium before our reservation and then everyone watched as I hilariously did my best to transport my martini into the dining room without spilling.

Nick and I remarked that it was one of the best meals we’ve had together. We both started with salads (rocket for me and English pea for him). I never order chicken, but you know anything in a butter sauce is going to be good. Nick’s steak arrived complete with béarnaise, and we split a side of sautéed mushrooms. We finished dinner with crème brulee and espressos (it was also the dessert at our wedding). With full bellies, we settled in upstairs for a movie in our room and passed out.

I was combatting a cold, so we left early the next day, but we both remarked that it was one of our favorite trips together. You don’t always have to go far from home for an adventure. I’m already looking forward to our next trip back.

One of my favorite things to do after a trip is to write down anything memorable that we ate and then attempt to re-create it. The rocket salad was so simple, so I’ve been making different variations of it the last few weeks. The version below was arugula, parm, avocado, bacon, and pepitas with lemon olive oil.









Nigel acclimating to his new home

XO, Libby

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