Our backyard plans

Monday, February 27, 2012

While there's still a lot of our house that I have yet to share with you all (you know, projects are taking longer to complete than I thought...) I do want to share some ideas that we've come up with to transform our backyard into a fun outdoor space come this spring & summer. Armed with my dad's knowledge of building & construction & our determination to create the perfect environment for relaxation & the ultimate hangout for us & our friends - 
here are our plans for our backyard!


& because I'm a very visual person & wanted to see how everything could fit together, I drew up some plans. 
I might not be the best at drawing in Photoshop, but you get the point!

I can't wait for the weather to start shaping up so we can get to work on our backyard. Hope to be able to show you all how it turns out in a few months!!

trends i'm loving: skinnies

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm certainly no expert when it comes to fashion. But there are a few trends that I've really been loving lately. I'm definitely more of a dress person than a jeans person - but if I could pull these off, then I most certainly would!

What do you think? Would you wear these, too?

images via:
1, 2, 3

It's National Margarita Day!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In honor of this special day, I thought I'd share one of my most favorite pictures taken in the most tropical place I've been. Miami. I know, I know, it's not really tropical, but it's as close as I've ever been!

But you know what would make this picture even better???

Happy National Margarita Day!!

My Insta-weekend

Monday, February 20, 2012

This past weekend my parents came into town for a visit :)

1. We spent a night in on Friday. We made dinner & watched a movie.

2. On one of our few trips to Lowe's this weekend, 
Luke & I ended up buying a new grill for the backyard! 
We can't wait until it warms up so we can grill out with friends! 
(p.s this was NOT fun to put together!)

3. & 4. We went to the Blazers game on Saturday night 
& then had drinks with some friends afterwards. 

5. We spent all day Sunday building shelves in the garage... 
So a bubble bath was much needed at the end of the day!

6. Our neighbors delivered some delicious Girl Scout cookies in our favorite flavors 
(& my mom also bought some for us, too - so won't be running out anytime soon)!

7. Some beautiful flowers from my sister to brighten up the kitchen!

8. The puppies!!

Hope you all had a great weekend! :)

Happy Friday.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Yes, Gracie sleeps in a sock monkey bed...

I wanted to give a quick thanks to those that commented on yesterdays post & left me some sweet messages as well. THANKS! It's nice to know that there are other people that have gone through the same thing & came through better on the other side. I know I will too :)

Also, HAPPY FRIDAY everyone! Although every day is kinda like a Friday for me around here, I'm super excited because my parents are coming down to visit for the long weekend! The dad is going to help us build some shelves in the garage (surely a project only a new homeowner can be excited about) & we're all going to catch a Blazers game. Fun times.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend & hurray if you have Monday off, too! :)

some thoughts...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I am sometimes apprehensive on what I should post & what I shouldn't post on this blog. I don't ever want to express negativity or share anything sad - as I always want this space to be a happy & inspiring place for you all to visit. But the fact of the matter is that life isn't always happy, we aren't perfect & posts like this one wont come across often, but sometimes it's necessary to vent & to share our experiences. You never know who is out there reading & who might be going through the same exact thing at this very moment.

At the beginning of this year I lost my job. The job that I moved to Portland for. While I am looking at this time as an opportunity to find something better, something that is a better fit for me, it's been rather difficult around here. I'm not used to not working. I had worked so hard to get where I was in my career & now I'm left without work. It's been difficult for me to face the reality of it all. I have always been a very hard worker & have had a strong sense of pride in what I had accomplished so far in my career, that this period of unemployment feels so foreign to me & it doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel like what I'm supposed to be doing. When we go out, I feel embarrassed when I tell people that I'm now unemployed. I don't know why, because it wasn't my fault I was laid off. It wasn't anything that I did. Most of the time people act weird & don't know what to say... That's when I just laugh & say something to the effect of "Oh, it's okay, I'll find something that's a better fit", or "Oh, it's not as tragic as it sounds, it's actually a blessing in disguise".

Over the past few weeks I had a few interviews with one of my #1 company in town & I recently found out that the job was offered to someone else. It was a tough blow to my confidence because I truly felt that I preformed my best during the interviews & left my interviews feeling very confident. This just means that I need to do better. I need to step up my game. It's been difficult admitting defeat, but in no way am I going to stop trying!

In no way am I looking for your sympathy, I just really needed a moment to vent, to let it all out on the table - & move on from it. If you read this whole post please know that I'm not a negative person (I swear!). I'm trying to keep my positivity & good spirits intact. I do know that a great opportunity will come along for me, let's just all cross our fingers that this happens sooner, rather than later.

While I actually have a few things in the works for the time being, it's nothing that I can solely rely on. I'm trying to use this free time to network as much as I can, to apply for as many jobs as I can (& that are obviously a good fit)... Let me tell you people, it's exhausting! But now is the most important time to be working for it as hard as I can! I know that everything will work out, eventually. I gotta keep reminding myself of this... :)


our love story

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It started back in 2005 - we hadn't crossed paths yet & we wouldn't for another 3 years
but this is where our love story began...

We were both working for the same company.
We sat three desks away from each other.
Almost a year went by...
I'm sure during that year we walked past each other in the hall,
maybe even got coffee (hot chocolate for me) at the same time.
I know that we attended some of the same meetings...
But out of over 100+ employees,
his face & his name was one of the few that I didn't recognize - & vice versa.

(Oh, I should also mention that we lived three houses away from each other, too. 
Crazy, I know.)

3 seems to be our magic number
We sat 3 desks aways from each other
We lived 3 houses away from each other
We *finally* met 3 years after working together
We met at a holiday party (for the company that we worked at in 2005. It's 2008 now.)
Neither of us worked there at this point,
but we both went to the party with other friends that still worked there.

A group of people went over to Luke's apartment downtown before the holiday party.
This is when I officially met Luke.
We didn't pay any attention to each other at first.
He was playing video games,
& I was chatting with his roommate to see if we knew anyone in common
that worked for the Mariners or the Sonics,
since he spent some time working in professional sports in Seattle.

(I was working for the Seattle Mariners at this time)

The night progressed & after many drinks, some bites of food
& a lot of dancing at the company holiday party,
we found ourselves talking to each other.
(of course neither of us can remember what we talked about,
who started the conversation, etc...)
All we knew is that we were talking each others ears off!
We ended up hanging out the rest of the evening,
when the party moved over to the bars, we went together.
When the party moved over to their apartment, I, too attended.

We all stayed up until 6am dancing in the living room, watched the sun rise and the snow fall.
He drove me to my friends house & we exchanged numbers.

From that moment on I knew that there was something that I liked about him.
I learned that he was from Chicago, & I liked that about him.
I learned that we had both worked for a few professional sports teams
(him: Bulls and Blazers; me: Blazers, Suns & Mariners)
I liked that about him & us as well.
We seemed to have a lot in common right from the start...
& the fact that we both obviously love to have a good time (i.e. dance party until 6am... :)

Despite the both of us not remembering our words the first night that we met, 
I do remember that he made me feel comfortable.
When you talked to Luke he would often touch your arm during conversation,
maybe as a way to make someone feel more comfortable, or a way to connect to someone.
Either way, I liked that about him, too.


Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months & before we knew it, we were each taking turns driving up to Seattle & down to Portland to spend time with each other nearly every other weekend. We formed a very close friendship from the beginning that naturally turned into a relationship.
When we got tired of the drive back & forth from Seattle & Portland (which was often)
we'd plan trips & meet up in different cities.
Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami...

When we got tired of the drive & meeting separately on trips that we'd rather be traveling together on,
I moved back down to Portland.

Since we've both been in the same city, we bought our first house & got our first puppy together here in Portland! We couldn't be happier with how our life is turning out & we're so happy that we get to share it together!

And that is all. For now... 

Friday Date Night @ Nostrana

Friday, February 10, 2012

Last Friday night Luke & I went out on a spontaneous date night. When he got home from work, we looked at each other & said, ehhhh let's go out! So we did :) We had both been wanting to try Nostrana for quite a while, so tonight seemed like the perfect night to do so! Nostrana is small & cozy Italian restaurant in SE Portland; the name literally translates to mean "ours". The food is simple, fresh & all around delicious. We knew this place was popular, but didn't realize that meant reservations extremely recommended, if not, required. We ended up having about a 20 minute wait & then we were seated at the pizza counter. In all honesty, I love these settings the best! You get to watch the pizza dough being tossed in the air & thrown in the piping hot pizza oven! I always love seeing how everything comes together in a restaurant, so the pizza counter was perfect for us!
Luke's Whiskey drink & my Amber beer.
Fresh baked bread with the most yummy & fruity olive oil.
Cheese & crackers.
Rigatoni Bolognese: beef & pork ragu, parmigiano 
  Capellini: With Marcella’s № 3 tomato butter sauce

Is your mouth watering yet? Our food ended up being a-m-a-z-i-n-g, so fresh & delicious. Next time we go back we're trying the pizza! If you're ever in the Portland area, I would highly recommend trying out Nostrana! Your taste buds will thank you :)

- Photos © Holly Carman -

Super Bowl Sunday

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This past Sunday we had our First Annual Super Bowl Party. It also happened to be our first party in the new house! While most of us didn't really care about either team, it was a great excuse to have everyone over, make a ton of food & drink a lot of beer with some of our best friends & family!
While everyone in our group was rooting for the Giants, 
I thought it would be fun to get balloons for BOTH teams. 
We had TWO TV's so you wouldn't miss a moment of the game when you went to the dining room 
to re-fill on food & booze. Our first brilliant idea of the day!
 Our second brilliant idea of the day comes from Luke & his cousin Jenni. They came up with the idea of a Bloody Mary bar. Since the game was on at 3:30pm & guests we likely to be showing up an hour early, it was the perfect time of the day for a Bloody Mary. It turned out to be a HUGE hit with everyone & nothing was left over by the end of the day!
 We had some healthy food, too!
Other food we had, but was not featured in this post: 
Sue's deviled eggs, guacamole & chips, & beef sliders with all the fixins!
Football shaped rice krispie treats! A must for the Super Bowl!

Another must for the Super Bowl is having all of your awesome friends over!! :)
A puppy that was infatuated with the Puppy Bowl at Halftime!
One crazy party host that was a little too excited about the Vodka!

And that's all! :)

- Photos © Holly Carman -

Valentines Day Recipe: Flour-less Chocolate Cake

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

With Valentines Day coming up next week, I wanted to share a recipe for the perfect chocolate cake to make for someone you love :) And this is probably the most delicious chocolate cake that I have ever tasted! My sister & I attended our first cooking class last week, where we learned to make this yummy treat. Hope you enjoy :)

Chocolate Cake:
1 cup melted butter (diced)
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped)
1 TBS espresso powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (could substitute hazelnuts)
(Directions: Place butter & chocolate in a bowl & melt over simmering water. After melted, mix in the espresso powder, cocoa powder, eggs, sugar & walnuts. Pour in a buttered springform pan. Bake for 50 minutes at 325 F.)

Ganache Topping:
6oz bittersweet chocolate (chopped)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 TBS butter
(Directions: Place chocolate in a bowl. Combine cream & sugar in a saucepan & bring to a boil. Pour over the chocolate & stir until smooth.)

Berry Topping:
3 cups frozen berries (we used boysenberries)
2/3 cup sugar
(Directions: Combine in a saucepan and cook until boiling. Puree & strain.)

Serves 10
(Recipe from Caprial + John's cooking class)

Puppy vs. the Dish Towel

Friday, February 3, 2012

Yep, that's our dog. She barks at the refrigerator, she barks at the dishwasher & steals the dish towels that hang from the door handle on the oven. Most days when we wash our hands & go for the dish towel to dry them off, they're gone - then we find a few in Gracie's doggy bed. She steals them all & takes them to her bed (see video below for proof). It was only cute the first few times (ok, it's still kind of cute). We sure love our silly pup!

It appears it's Friday already...

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you all had a great week :) I had some family in town for a few days this week & it was a nice change to the long & boring weeks I've been having over here since 2012 started (more on this next week, maybe, hopefully, if I can ever finish writing that post). Anyways, I'm especially excited for this weekend because of Super Bowl Sunday! We're hosting this year & it will be our first big get-together in the new house - I can't wait! Luke's cousin & I have the menu all planned out with a bloody mary bar, artichoke dip, chipotle wings, sliders & much more. I hope you all have a great weekend - I'll leave you with a pup pic, because why not?!