A look back on 2016

Saturday, December 31, 2016

When I sat down to re-cap my year I thought, what the heck am I even going to talk about?! It has been such an interesting year. Not bad, just interesting. For me, this year was full change and emotion. All of which I never quite felt ready for. Don't get me wrong, so many great things took place this year. But it was also a year filled with growing pains. Just when you think you have it all figured out... Such is life!

As someone that has always welcomed and fully embraced change, this year was a challenge for me. Everything felt a little harder this year. Everything is changing around me and I couldn't catch up. My mom has had a lot of health complications that have given our family quite a few scares. Friendships taking a weird turn. All of our friends are starting families while Luke and I aren't. That's a whole other post, maybe... Frustration with my professional development. The election this past November. While this year was a little weird and felt off, it's all a part of the journey. We're never promised the easy route. I know that I'll look back on this year with fond memories, eventually :) I keep reminding myself that it's a marathon and not a sprint.

Now on to the recap, I promise it's more uplifting! Looking back on this year - month by month - it was a good year. I'm beyond lucky to have a great family, friends, a job I love, the ability to travel and so many other freedoms and luxuries. Luke and I work hard for what we have.

January //

We started off 2016 in Amsterdam! We ended our epic European vacation by spending a few days walking along the canals. We got to experience New Years Eve in the city, which totally freaked me out (think no regulations whatsoever on fireworks)! It really was the best way to kick off the year and an experience that we'll never forget. We really hope to be able to live here someday...

January is also the month that we *finally* finished our mini-kitchen remodel. Hello new gas stove! Seriously, it's such a luxury and I don't think I can go back to an electric stove, ever. #firstworldproblems, I know!

February //

Sometime in February (I think it was February...) Luke and I started using SunBasket meal delivery, almost every week. It has completely changed the way we cook at home! We waste less food and always eat healthy with SunBasket meals. It has even influenced us to make healthier meals at home. And a bonus we didn't expect... Date Night In! We love pouring a glass of wine, turning up the music and making dinner together. It's become such a great way to connect at home. 

March //

We left the rain and flew down to LA for a long weekend. Heather joined us, too! Taking trips with Luke and Heather are always the most fun and the most memorable. I love that we're able to meet in different places a few times throughout the year. 

April //

We visited Austin, Texas for the first time in the middle of April. Heather joined on this trip, too! Austin is seriously such a cool city. We landed on my birthday (hello 34!) and hit the ground running looking for the best restaurants and sights. We discovered breakfast tacos on this trip - two words: life changing.

May //

We saw Billy Joel in concert at Safeco Field in Seattle. I've wanted to see him live for so long and he didn't disappoint! Fun fact: my first ever cassette tape when I was little was a Billy Joel album. 

June //

We met up with Luke's parents in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for 5 days. We frequented the swim-up bar and took trips into town in search of guacamole and margaritas. It was a little tooooo much sun for me, but fun nonetheless. 

We walked in the Portland Pride Parade with some of our friends and a lot of people with my company. Nike has a huge presence in the parade (even our CEO attends!) and it was an all-around amazing day of showing support. #LoveWins

July //

We took a camping trip to Crate Lake (our first time there!) but sadly I ruined the trip when I fell down the stairs (okay, like a stair and a half) spraining my ankle the day prior. No hikes for us! It was still a great trip and Crater Lake is beyond beautiful. We'll definitely visit again and do some hiking next time. 

August //

My previous boss took us out on his boat (hello half-day summer Fridays!) and we were convinced we needed to buy a boat of our own. It was such a fun day going up and down the Willamette. We even met up with some friends out on their boat! Our dreams of being boat owners quickly faded when we started to add up how much it would cost us (cost of boat, insurance, storage, maintenance...) Oh well - it was a fun day!

We hosted the "Copeland Summer Bash" in our backyard. We had good food, drinks, music, friends and sunshine! It was beyond fun to have everyone at our house. We ended the evening chatting around the fire pit with a few beers and some new friends.

September //

We took a week off work and flew out to the east coast to visit family and road trip to a few new places. We flew to Boston and drove up to New Hampshire to stay with Lynn and Brian (dad's cousin) at their house on Lake Winnipesaukee. We had an incredible 3 days with the "Lake Family" (there was about 10-12 of us for the long weekend). We drank beers by the fire pit, made breakfast and drank many cups of coffee together, spent a day out on their boat (our boat dreams are coming back!), visited the local distilleries and meaderies, drank more beers, caught up with family and told many stories of past years. It was truly a weekend that I'll never forget. After the lake we drove over to Portland, Maine for a few days to drink blueberry beers and eat lobster rolls! We told everyone that we were from "the other Portland" but no one seemed to be impressed, haha! Our final stop was a drive down to the 'burbs of Boston to spend a few days with Al and Kathy (also dad's cousin). We had so much fun catching up, taking a day trip to "the cape" and Al even took us out on the Charles River one day. 

October //

It's October, so that means MLB playoffs! We all know Luke is a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. If you follow baseball at all, you'd know that the Cubs won the World Series and how big of a deal it was. Happy times in Copeland house!

November //

Election Day took place early on in November. To say that the outcome was devastating to me is a total understatement. This month was filled with a lot of unanswered questions and sheer disappointment in my country. I can only hope for the best moving forward and try my absolute hardest to give back to my community and support the causes that I care about.

We spent Thanksgiving with my family up in Seattle with Heather. We ate too much food and drank a lot of wine - so in other words, it was a success! 

December //

We hosted Christmas Eve cocktails at our house and spent Christmas dinner with Holly and Randy (my aunt and uncle). The holidays were beyond relaxing and much needed for everyone.

This month I made the tough decision to sell all of my Canon camera equipment. Over the past 6+ years I've had a variety of Canon DSLR's and interchangeable lenses. It's been one of my biggest passions. I've fallen out of love with the process over the years and carting around my equipment just became a major pain for me. Gone are the days of photographing weddings (I did two!), engagements and family photos. I'm switching up my photography game and purchasing a much smaller, mirrorless camera. I'm excited to try something new and have high hopes of discovering a new love of photography in a much simpler way.

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If you made it this far, thank you for reading! Although I'm not into blogging like I have been in past years, it's still fun to pop in here and there to share what's going on. Coming up in March of 2017 Luke and I are headed to Ireland and Barcelona for a few weeks. We can't wait to see a few more countries and add some more stamps to our passports!

I hope you all have an incredible 2017 :)


We Love Sun Basket

Friday, July 8, 2016

It's true! We've been using Sun Basket's home delivery service for about 6 months now and we absolutely love it! Each week we receive 3 meals that we chose about a week and a half prior. You choose 3 out of 9 meal options - always with the choice of chicken, meat and fish and what I love the most... paleo, gluten–free, and vegetarian options! The meals arrive in a big cardboard box and are already portioned out. Each recipe comes with an instruction card, which is ridiculously easy to follow. Seriously! Luke and I make about 98% of the meals together and its totally boosted our confidence in cooking, like a lot. We're often blown away that we're capable of making such amazing food. Plus it makes for a super fun date night in - turn up the music, pour a glass of wine and spend about a half hour together in the kitchen making a delicious dinner. It has become our favorite way to spend an evening together. 

I wanted to share this meal we had last night, Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breasts with a Tomato Panzanella - it was fantastic! More to come as we find more meals that we love!

Attempted Camping + Crater Lake

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Luke + I had grand plans for the 4th of July holiday weekend. We set out to embark on a two-day camping trip with our Ford Escape packed full with our tent, sleeping bags, air mattress, camping chairs, a cooler stocked with delicious food, TWO dogs (I'm dog-sitting for my boss), a few changes of clothes, extra towels, etc... you get the point - we were ready to have a fun few days off the grid! On Friday after work we loaded up and drove to my parents house in Madras, Oregon for the evening with plans to drive south on Saturday morning. Well, before we could even get our trip started I fell down the stairs in my parents' garage and hurt my ankle bad, real bad - so bad that I couldn't walk. I spent the evening on the couch with an ice pack on my foot bumming out on the fact that all these magnificent hikes we had planned are now not going to happen. By the next morning I could hobble around and I was thanking my lucky stars that my foot was only sprained and not broken. Still determined, we set off on our camping trip!

After a quick stop in Bend, Oregon for some lunch (and a few brewskis) we continued down south. We set up camp and ventured out to explore our surroundings. We drove around the lake and then ventured out to the "beach" area where people were swimming, drinking beers, listening to music and BBQ'ing. It was so nice and so sunny. After some relaxation at the "beach" we eventually made our way back to our campsite to cook dinner and hang out. Dinner took almost 3x longer to cook because the campfire was being difficult (it could have been user error, but Holly won't admit that...). Then we quickly realized we had left the dog food at my parents' house. Sigh. I drove down to a tiny store to pick up the smallest and most expensive bag of dog food - that only one dog ended up eating. We then realized that we didn't purchase any bug spray and the mosquitos were flying around like WOAH! Back to the store... they're all sold out of bug spray. Another sigh. To top off the evening, Luke's allergies never got better, I exerted too much pressure on my foot, and our air mattress kept going flat. I'm sure you can tell that neither of us were having a stellar evening. We went to bed early and decided that with all these little annoyances, it was only going to be a one-night camping trip. Oh well, we tried!

Scroll down past the camping photos because this post gets better!

The next morning we woke up early (deflated air mattress, remember?) made a quick breakfast, showered at the campsite and then drove to Crater Lake - an approximate 20 minute drive from our campground. We spent a few hours driving around the Rim Loop (the road that circles the lake) and stopping off at various viewpoints to take in the view from all angles. And what a view it was! It's places like this that make me proud to be an Oregonian. Even though I was born and raised in Oregon and still live here, the beauty in this state continuously blows me away. We spent a few hours admiring the lake, taking photos, visiting the lodge and taking more photos before we started the drive home.

- Photos © Holly Copeland -

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Monday, June 27, 2016

Earlier this month Luke and I traveled down to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Luke's parents met us there and the four of us spent a few days relaxing at the pool, indulging in fresh Mexican food and exploring as much as we could. We had been to other parts of Mexico before, so we were excited to explore an area that was new to us. We stayed in Marina Vallarta and after a few days of riding the local bus into town every day, we decided to spend the extra pesos on an air conditioned taxi (worth the money!). See below for where we stayed, what we ate and what we saw!

Where we stayed: Westin Puerto Vallarta Our hotel was amazing! We spent a lot of time at the pool and took advantage of the free breakfast every morning.
Where we ate: Sonora Prime, Vista Grill, Ocean Grill, El Faro Bar
Favorite Areas: Los Muertos Beach, the Romantic Zone, Marina Vallarta

^ At the top of this lighthouse is El Faro Bar - very tasty margs ^
^ Our very colorful hotel ^
^ We found the local beers! ^ 
^ We took a bus from Marina Vallarta to Boca de Tomatlan.
From here we hopped on a boat to Ocean Grill ^
^ Lunch is better with a dog ^
^ A beautiful sunset from our dinner table at Vista Grill ^
^ The Romantic Zone ^

- Photos © Holly Copeland -

Summer Bucket List

Monday, June 20, 2016

It doesn't quite feel like summer yet, but I swear the warmer temps are just around the corner! In Portland summer rolls around in about July... So I'm getting excited over here with my Summer Bucket List! Each year I compile a lit of all the things I want to accomplish over the summer months. Take a look below:

1 - Embark on a few camping trips
2 - Go kayaking on the river
3 - Host a backyard summer party for our friends + family
4 - Make a summer road trip playlist
5 - Visit a few new wineries (+ bring along a picnic lunch)
6 - Spend a day relaxing at the lake
7 - Take dad's boat out (+ drink blueberry beers on the water)
8 - Spend a weekend at the Oregon Coast
9 - Start a summer photography project
10 - Make watermelon margaritas

Check out my lists from previous years: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

(Image via)

Our Amsterdam Video

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Well, the final video is complete. It's hard to believe that this trip ended in January and we're almost halfway through May. Take me back, please! I hope you enjoy our last video. We're already planning our next European vacation!

(Music Credit: I purchased Rudimental "Lay It All on Me (feat. Ed Sheeran)" + Robin Schulz "Sun Goes Down" on iTunes)

Our Paris Video

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Paris was the second stop on our European vacation - and the video is ready to share! It might be my favorite one of the series - because it's Paris - my absolute favorite city there is. Watching this video (over and over again) just brings back so many great memories from our trip. There is just something so magical and special about Paris. The city stole my heart. I hope you enjoy!

(Music Credit: I purchased Francois Parisi "Ballad du Paris" + Pink Martini "Sympathique" on iTunes)

Our London Video

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Well, we were in London in December and I'm just getting around to finishing our Europe videos as we approach May, yikes! Better late than never! It's my first video, so I'm still learning the ropes of iMovie - I hope you enjoy it. Check back next week for our Paris video!

(Music Credit: I purchased The Beatles "Here Comes the Sun" + "Blackbird" on iTunes)

Paris Memory

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Luke and I stayed in the most perfect Parisian apartment. It was located in the 11th arrondissement and was your quintessential Parisian living quarters. The main entry to the building was through a large blue door with a doorknob placed in the center (a typical front door in Paris). Once you made your way through the most beautiful old-wood staircase with blue rails was there to greet you. The perfect Parisian blue that just so happens to match the large front door.

It was a workout to make your way up the stairs - but also hard to complain, because you're in Paris and about to walk up to the most perfect apartment. The wood was smooth and antiquated; an indication of years and years of use. It made me wonder, how long have these stairs been here and what kind of activities have these stairs seen to make them this weathered? There are so many questions behind each and every detail. I always find myself wondering the history. A question that you can literally ask yourself anywhere in the world - but find yourself asking even more in Paris.

During our stay we trekked down these very stairs to explore the streets of Paris. We trekked up these stairs when we needed to rest in the apartment after long days of walking the city. We also trekked up groceries from the corner market and boulangerie. These stairs witnessed croissants, macarons and bottles of cheap red wine making its way up to the top.

Lastly, these stairs witnessed two Americans having the absolute time of their lives and not wanting their Paris adventures to end. I didn't think I would ever miss reaching the top of these stairs, with very few breaths left to take, but I do, very much.

Balboa Island, California

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Our next stop was Balboa Island in Newport Beach. We parked on the island and spent a few hours walking in and out of shops and admiring the adorable houses. We even spotted a 3-car auto ferry and took a quick trip over the water and back. The sun was shinning, there were zero clouds in sight, nothing to do but walk around and soak up the sun. What a Saturday!

- Photos © Holly Copeland -