The Best of 2021

It’s been a good year and it’s also been a strange year. We entered into 2021 with the pandemic still in full swing and so much uncertainty in the air. Luke and I both became fully vaccinated in April but still followed all of the safety precautions to keep ourselves and others safe. In some ways life slowly feels like it’s getting closer to “normal” and in other ways it doesn’t. This year we experienced more travel, more time outside of the house and more interactions with friends and family. Overall it was a more uplifting year than the previous one with so much hope on the horizon. When I take the time to write everything down and reflect on the past twelve months, I’m reminded that there is so much to be grateful for. Here’s my list of highlights from 2021:

Best Purchase: A drone. I’ve had my eye on this drone for a long time and one day I just decided on a whim to buy it, haha. It’s been so much fun learning how to fly it and get more comfortable with it. The pictures and videos are just unreal. I couldn’t be happier with this little gadget.

Best Meal I Made: Whipped feta. A few months back when we were in Nashville we had the famous whipped feta from the Butcher & Bee. We instantly became obsessed and sought out to recreate the dip at home asap. I think I’ve landed on a good attempt. It’s so simple yet tastes so complex.

Best Travel Experience: Lake Tahoe! Luke and I visited in July and fell in love with the beauty and charm of the lake lifestyle. I’ve always been a lake over beach kind of girl anyways. We found great restaurants, breweries, hiking, viewpoints, you name it. We’re already dreaming of our next visit to the lake.

Best Thing I Watched on TV: This was an easy answer for me last year but I can’t decide what I liked best this time around. Some of my favorites this year were: Curb Your Enthusiasm (newest season), Succession, Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, Only Murders in the Building, Cruel Summer, The Other Two, The Sex Lives of College Girls, Euphoria, Mare of Easttown, The White Lotus… They’re all so good that I couldn’t pick just one.

Best Song: Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) by Elton John and Dua Lipa. If you haven’t listened to this jam yet, do yourself a favor and do it now.

Best Personal Accomplishment: I started seeing a therapist. I’ve been wanting to find a therapist to connect with for a long time and I finally decided to make it happen. I meet with her monthly and it’s been such a positive experience for me. Investing in your mental health is important and I’m glad I finally prioritized this.

Best Professional Accomplishment: About halfway through the year I got a new job. I’ve been working towards this goal for a long time and it feels so good to know that all my hard work was recognized and rewarded. 

Best Thing to Look Forward to: We booked a trip to Italy in April/May 2021 and we could not be more excited! We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the ever-changing world of travel logistics stays in our favor because Positano has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.

The Best of 2020

I think we can all agree that 2020 was not the stellar year we had hoped it would be as we entered into a new decade. This year presented us with a lot of devastation and heartache. It’s been a dark year in more ways than I can count and when you find yourself in a dark place it can be difficult to see your way out. I know I’ve had my fair share of those moments this year. I realize we’re all in different situations and circumstances, but when I deliberately shift my perspective and focus on the things that brought me joy, it really helps me to feel gratitude. I encourage you all to find what made you happy this year too. Well, without further ado, I present my list of happy things that came my way this year!

Best Quarantine Purchase: We purchased a king-sized bed frame and memory foam mattress and then promptly wondered what in the heck took us so long to do so in the first place. It’s the best! I even wrote a post about it here.

Best Thing I Watched on TV: In 2020 its been all about the mini-series for me. I love when a great book is made into an even better mini-series. For me it was without question Normal People. My friend recommended that I read the book and watch the mini-series and I have to say that both are just phenomenal. I felt all the feels. It’s raw, emotional and extremely relatable, like scary relatable. I watched it for a second time and found more meaning in the story. Ugh, I’m just not the same after this, haha. Also, the soundtrack is bomb.

Best Book I Read: This was a hard one to narrow down. I didn’t read as many books as I would have liked to and I kind of fell into a reading slump only finishing 29 books this year. I had a goal of 30 and I can’t believe I missed it by a single book. After reflecting back on those 29 books I would have to say that the best/favorite book I read this year was Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland (see my review here). There were so many books that came in a close second.

Best Song: Summer Feelings by Lennon Stella (feat. Charlie Puth). Whenever this song came on it just made me want to dance and put me in a happy mood – I couldn’t get enough of it this year!

Best Discovery: Please don’t make fun of me but I used to diss on La Croix real hard buttttt I discovered a flavor that I absolutely love and cannot live without. Now I drink a Passionfruit La Croix every. single. day.

Best Meal I Made: So this is not really a meal, but we’ve been eating a lot of salmon and I came up with this stand-out sauce that goes so well with salmon and anything you choose as your side (roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, cous cous and asparagus are some of our favorite sides). The sauce is a maple-mustard sauce and it’s very simple to make. In a small bowl combine 1 TBS of melted butter, 2 TBS dijon mustard and 2 TBS maple syrup – whisk together and voila! This sauce seriously elevates anything you place it on!

Best Thing I Baked: Baking was a thing this year! The best thing I baked is hands down these soft chocolate chip cookies. My secret weapon is to use coconut sugar instead of white sugar. Trust me on that one 🙂 Also, only bake them for 9 minutes, no longer. You’re welcome.

Best Travel Experience: Without a doubt, Australia! Luke and I barely squeaked in our international trip this year right before the world starting spinning out of control with the pandemic. We visited Sydney, Melbourne + the Sunshine Coast in Feb/March and made it home one day before all international flights were cancelled. Words cannot express how grateful we are that we were able to take this trip. A very close second is the quick trip we took to California to get some sunshine and fresh air.

Best Professional Accomplishment: I started a “stretch assignment” at work where I carve out space from my current role and step into new responsibilities on a different team. It was a bit stress-inducing to learn a new area of the company remotely in our current WFH scenario, but it’s been the best thing that has happened to me professionally this year. I’m working in a digital operations capacity and not only is it a great fit for my skillset but it’s given me a lot more confidence in myself.

Best Personal Accomplishment: I opened an Etsy shop! I’ve been wanting to do something with my travel photography for a long time and this sounded like a fun thing to do! Photography has always been a huge passion of mine and I’m excited for this new venture and hope that I can connect with people that like my work and want to display it on their walls. Visit my Copeland Print Studio! Keep checking back because not only am I’m continuing to add new prints, but I have some ideas and projects coming up in the next few months.

Presidential Election: Luke and I are very invested in politics and have daily conversations on everything going on in our community and our country. There was a lot of stress and anxiety leading up to this election and I couldn’t be more thankful for the outcome. Joe Biden is going to be our new President and Kamala Harris our new Vice President! The future is hopeful my friends.

Dinner @ Tasty n Daughters

A few months back Luke took me out for a fancy-date-night-birthday-dinner at Tasty n Daughters. I knew we’d love it before we even got there though, haha. The Tasty n Tasty group is well known around town for having the most delicious food (Tasty n Alder is one of my all-time favorite dinner spots in town!) so I already figured that we’d have a great experience here. We started off with happy hour next door at their R&R room before dinner and it was the cutest space to relax in with a drink and a small snack before our meal. As I expected, our meal was fantastic, see below for proof!
2017 Domaine Ogerau, L’Anjouée, Anjou, FR
pFriem, Pilsner
Marcus’ Wedge with blue cheese, bacon lardons, onion rings and sunflower seeds
Hush Puppies with jalapeño butter
didn’t see this listed on the menu posted online, but it was a delicious flatbread with buratta.
Manti – Turkish beef and lamb dumplings with garlic yogurt sauce and urfa pepper
BBQ Chicken with Alabama white sauce

Six Years!

I can’t believe that it’s our six year wedding anniversary! In some ways it feels like we’ve been married much longer than six years and in some ways it feels like it was just yesterday that we got married. We’ve already accomplished so much together – from purchasing a home, getting a dog, taking endless trips together, a few cars, lots and lots of pulling weeds in the yard… There’s still no one else I’d rather go through life with than you, Luke! Here’s to six years and so many more to come.

Brunch @ Tusk

Tusk is one of my favorite Portland restaurants. I even have it listed on my “Portland List“. Tusk is known for it’s locally sourced and seasonally aggressive menu that updates often. I don’t know about you, but I am a huge fan when restaurants update their menus seasonally, as it allows me to continually try different menu options without getting bored. Everything about Tusk is just special though. From the vegetable-driven middle eastern menu, to the over-sized portrait of Keith Richards above the bar (which I am borderline obsessed with) and the bright white decor with brass fixtures – Tusk is truly a gem and not to be missed.
My sister was just in town visiting last weekend and I surprised her with a visit to experience their brunch (I’ve only ever had their dinner). She’s already plotting how she can get back down here to experience another meal.
whipped feta, herb tehina, seeds, almonds
plums, date syrup, almonds, whipped cream
queso oaxaca, spicy tomato, squash, nigella seeds

Five Year Anniversary Photos

Luke and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary this past June. We thought (okay, I thought!) it would be fun to have professional photos taken because the last time we had nice photos taken of us was for our wedding.

We used the same photographer from our wedding, which I thought was extra special. Linnea is just the sweetest person I’ve ever met and she takes all the awkwardness out of smiling in front of the camera. We seriously had so much fun taking these photos with her. The wind was blowing and it seemed like my hair flew in front of my face before every shot and we couldn’t help but laugh each time it happened.

We didn’t purchase any new outfits for our session; we both wore outfits thats we already own. We wanted it to feel like “us”. Seriously, I told Luke “wear whatever you want, wear whatever makes you feel like your best self” and I did the same.

We received the online photo gallery last night and we seriously love every single photo that Linnea sent us! I’m sharing some of our absolute favorites below. They are just so fun, colorful and so “us”. Now we just need to narrow down which photos to frame, and figure out where in the heck in our small house these will go!


We chose the location (the Taylor Street Electric Building) because of the beautiful graffiti walls. In recent travels we’ve come across many cities that are covered in graffiti and we love the grittiness it portrays. Some of our favorite travel memories are in cities with colorful wall art and graffiti (think NYC, Paris, Athens). Since traveling has been a huge part of our relationship, it just felt like the perfect location for us.

I used to drive by the Taylor Street Electric Building years ago when it was surrounded by a chain length fence, full of debris and standing water. Even then, I thought it was a cool and edgy backdrop for a photoshoot. To my surprise, I drove by the location about a month before our shoot and found the area entirely cleaned up. The inside of the building was converted into a parking lot for local businesses, but the graffiti on the walls remained intact.

All photos by Linnea 


Summer Bucket List

1. Grill outside at least twice a week
2. Spend a day on the lake with dad’s boat
3. Clock at least 100 miles on our bikes
4. Visit the drive-in movie theater
5. Discover 5 new hikes
6. Float the river with friends
7. Host a backyard summer BBQ
8. Catch a sunrise
9. Learn how to make the perfect iced chai latte
10. Run a 5K or two
11. Go berry picking and make a fruit cobbler
12. Make fresh fruit margaritas
13. Go kayaking
14. Visit a summer street fair
15. Visit a new-to-us winery

See past summer bucket lists here: 2017 was accidentally skipped, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

Our 2017 Holiday Cards

This year I was ahead of the game on holiday cards. I was so ahead of the game, I had them ordered on November 1st. Who am I?! In the past we’ve taken photos especially for our holiday cards, but this year I thought it would be fun to share a few highlights of this past year. I love the instant photo design form Minted and thought it would make the perfect card of us. We included photos from trips to Charleston SC, Chicago IL, Barcelona, Dublin, Irvinestown and the pup even made it on the card.
Happy Holidays from Holly, Luke and Gracie!
(the card is showing up a bit fuzzy, I don’t have a high-res version of our design, but you get the point!)
I forgot to post our cards last year, but here are our holiday cards from:

Farewell Summer of 2017

This past summer was amazing for so many reasons. The weather was warmer than it’s ever been and we really took advantage of all the outdoor opportunities we could. We squeezed in a trip to the mid-west, explored new-to-us breweries and restaurants, went kayaking, took a day trip to Hood River and the Oregon Coast, walked in the PDX Pride Parade, transformed our backyard, ate a lot of burgers during PDX Burger Week and JUST ENJOYED THE SUMMER! In no particular order, here are some of my favorite summer photos:
– Photos © Holly Copeland –

My Fall Foodie List

While everyone around me is mourning the fact that summer is coming to an end, I’m over here impatiently waiting for the temperatures to drop and for fall to arrive! Fall is hands down my favorite season. There is nothing better than a sunny, crisp fall day. In honor of fall being right around the corner, I rounded up some of my favorite fall-inspired recipes. There’s nothing more comforting to me than spending time in the kitchen and whipping up my favorite (and new to me!) meals to enjoy on a chilly day. I hope you enjoy the recipes below and just a warning… I hope you like apples, because they show up A LOT in the recipes I’m sharing 🙂

Apple Chai Oatmeal Cups – image via

*Apple Ring Pancakes
*Dutch Baby w. Apples

*Butternut Squash and Apple
*Potato and Leek Soup (I have to admit, I leave out the arugula, creme fraise and milk and just thin out as needed with stock to make the soup healthier, sorry Ina!)

*Roasted Squash w. Thyme
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Red Onions and Arugula

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchilada Bake
*Pork Chops w. Sautéed Apples

Apple Crisp
Apple Chai Oatmeal Cups

The * indicates recipes that I’ve made over and over and highly recommend. Everything else is on my list to try this season.