Hannah Drake

The Best of June 2019

LifeHannah DrakeComment

Let’s get after it with eight of my favourite things from the last month! I love the opportunity to reflect back on the last four weeks in regards to what I’m blogging, what I’m buying, what I’m reading, what I’m listening to, and more. But I’ve also found that it makes me more mindful of what’s bringing me joy as I go through the month.

25 Perfect Summer Cocktails

I shared this post during our “dry June” and during a week of absolute crap summer weather, but that didn’t stop you for coming out for it! Of the 25 cocktails on this list, I’ve made the Limoncello Prosecco, the Cardamom Coconut Gin Fizz, and the Lavender Lemonade Cocktail. I can’t wait to try more, especially the cocktails with florals! (I’m super into floral flavours—rose, lavender, elderflower, etc—right now!) Or try my new Red, White, and Blue Raspberry Lemonade cocktail, which wasn’t included on the list, but is perfect for the Fourth of July!

RAICES

I saw a tweet or something recently that said that if you’re not using your platform to shine a light on important issues, you’re misusing your platform. My platform might be small, but I want to start highlighting important organisations that can make a difference in our world. I’m starting with RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services), a “nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.” There is an ongoing crisis happening at the southern border of the US and we have to do something. Last month, lawyers defended the administration’s decision to deny the people in their camps basic sanitary products and to force them to sleep on concrete floors. Imagine, for a second, if you knew that your neighbour was forcing their children to sleep on the floor in the garage, denying them healthcare and basic sanitation, like soap and a toothbrush. You would report them immediately, wouldn’t you? I urge you to consider donating to RAICES to help with their legal processes or finding another way to help these people.

Skimm This

As if I don’t have enough podcasts already or get enough news, I’ve added a new one to my feed. My friend Blythe mentioned Skimm This in a recent post and I finally started listening to it this month. It’s a quick 10-15 minute podcast that covers the top news stories from the day during the week and breaks down what they mean. I really like the way she presents the news and I don’t find myself getting as worked up about some stories as I might on other more emotionally driven news media that I consume.

Based on a True Story - Information is Beautiful

I found this site, Information is Beautiful, that rates how accurate “Based on a True Story” films are. You can click on each section, which represents a scene and it will tell you, if it wasn’t accurate, the true story behind the invented or exaggerated scene in the film. The site includes films from the last few years and, actually, I’ve seen all of them except Hacksaw Ridge and Bridge of Spies. It’s really fascinating and I could kill hours on this site alone! Plus, there’s one film that has a 100% accuracy rating! (Which is how I found the site, since it was in defence of criticisms that When They See Us isn’t historically accurate.

Black Mirror Season 5 - Smithereens

We watched all three episodes of the new Black Mirror season within a few days. I found Striking Vipers compelling and fascinating, but Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too to be dreadfully boring. Smithereens, which we watched last of the three, was absolutely heart-pounding and mind-bending. It’s been a while since I was this captivated by a Black Mirror episode. I usually read the full plot synopsis as the episode starts so I know what’s coming. Even knowing the end, I couldn’t look away once the pace picked up. (Admittedly, I did have my phone in my hand at the beginning, playing Two Dots.) I couldn’t stop thinking about the episode that night or in the days that followed. I immediately turned off my notifications for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and really started considering my relationship with social media. I don’t want to be addicted to my phone or its apps. I don’t want to be unable to look away and completely numb to horrible, heartbreaking news. But I want to stay connected to people in my life. I want to—to some extent—promote posts that I share here on my blog. I’m still struggling how to manage that and find balance, but sometimes I wish I had the…courage, I guess it would be, to just delete social media from my phone for good.

American Flag Cake

Even though I live in the UK, it’s still fun to mark the Fourth of July, especially knowing so many American expats. We have plans for a BBQ tomorrow evening after work with some friends and I’ll be making my famous American flag cake for the occasion. Plus we managed to find some real corn on the cob at the store, still in the husks!

Kung Pao Cauliflower from Halfbaked Harvest

At the beginning of the month, Luke and I decided to try to be vegetarian for two weeks. Really, I just wanted to see if we could do it. I had no intention of going full-time vegetarian. We ended up successfully being pescatarian for two weeks after having salmon and tuna about three times and found that other than bacon sandwiches on the weekends, we really didn’t miss meat at home all that much. It’s been fun trying to find more creative vegetarian recipes, which is why I was so excited to see this Kung Pao Cauliflower from Halfbaked Harvest, one of my favourite food bloggers. Going forward, we’ve decided to try to stick with pescatarian at least Monday through Thursday. We’ll be a bit more flexible on the weekends and definitely when we go out or eat with friends and family.

Cath Kidston Chiswick Rose Tie Waist Shirt Dress

I only have a few things from Cath Kidston—my marriage dress and a pair of throw pillow is all I can think of right now—but I love going in to the store and wandering around every time I’m in town. I figured it would be the perfect place to get a dress for the garden party I hosted with my friend and I absolutely fell in love with this shirt dress. Luke, bless him, let me buy it even though the one I originally went in for was the cheaper option.

This post contains affiliate links, so I may make a commission off any purchase you make through the link. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Red, White, and Blue Raspberry Lemonade

EntertainingHannah DrakeComment

I decided to honour my native country this month for Cocktail of the Month. With the Fourth of July later this week, I wanted to make something red, white, blue, and refreshing. The perfect cocktail for an Independence Day BBQ!

RED, WHITE, AND BLUE RASPBERRY LEMONADE

  • 1 oz vodka

  • 1/2 oz blue curaçao

  • lemonade

  • 1 oz raspberry simple syrup

  • raspberries, blueberries, strawberries

DIRECTIONS

Fill a high ball glass with ice. Add vodka and curaçao to glass. Add raspberry simple syrup. Slowly pour lemonade over the back of a cocktail spoon in the glass to layer the lemonade on top of the alcohol. Garnish with fresh raspberries, blueberries, and/or strawberries.

RASPBERRY SIMPLE SYRUP

  • 1 cup cool water

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Add the ingredients to a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 7 minutes. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, strain, then chill for 1 hour before using. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 1 month.

Note: You may need to strain the syrup more than once because of the seeds in the raspberries.

ALL ABOUT LAYERING COCKTAILS

I’ve found the art of layering cocktails to be fascinating for years, but it’s only been in the last few months that I’ve actually attempted it. (I did it for my Daenerys Targaryen cocktail and my Tyrion Lannister cocktail during season eight of Game of Thrones.) It takes a bit of practice, especially when you’re switching out spirits and liqueurs with different thicknesses and densities. One of the most famous layered cocktails is the B-52, which is made up of a coffee liqueur, an orange liqueur, and an Irish cream, like Kahlua, Grand Marnier, and Bailey’s. With drinks like this, it’s important to get a flat layer so each of the three layers is completely separated.

For this cocktail, I wanted more of an ombre look, so it doesn’t involve as highly refined technique as a B-52 might. I originally wanted to float the raspberry syrup on the top, but it’s heavier than the lemonade, so it immediately sunk to the bottom. I’m quite pleased with the result because I like how it goes from dark, dark blue (almost purple because of the red syrup and blue curaçao) to light blue/white on top.

HOW TO SERVE THIS COCKTAIL

Like other cocktails that rely heavily on their mixer (rum & Coke AKA Cuba Libre, for example), this cocktail is served in a high ball cocktail glass, usually between 10 and 16 ounces. It’s important to fill the glass with ice before beginning to help keep the proportions more narrow, especially in a larger glass.

I thought a mason jar would be perfect for this cocktail since it feels a little bit more American (read: country) than just a regular high ball glass. My mason jars hold 17 ounces, so they’re almost the perfect size. I also used my reusable straws, mostly to act as a stir stick to mix up the alcohol and syrup at the bottom.

RED, WHITE, AND BLUE RASPBERRY LEMONADE MOCKTAIL

  • 2 oz blue raspberry Kool-Aid

  • lemonade

  • 1 oz raspberry simple syrup

  • raspberries, blueberries, strawberries,

DIRECTIONS

Fill a high ball glass with ice. Add blue raspberry Kool-Aid to glass. Add raspberry simple syrup. Slowly pour lemonade over the back of a cocktail spoon in the glass to layer the lemonade on top of the alcohol. Garnish with fresh raspberries, blueberries, and/or strawberries.

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What to Pack for England in the Summer

TravelHannah DrakeComment

I’ve previously written What to Pack for England in the Autumn and What to Pack for England in the Spring, so this year I’m tackling summer and winter.

My first advice is to check the weather, of course. While stereotypical season weather is a bit more dependable in England than, say, Colorado, you still never know what you’ll get! I feel like it goes without saying that you check the weather before you pack, but don’t forget to continue to do so up until you zip up your suitcase for the last time to head to the airport.

I’ve been here two summers already and most people will say that those two summers were unseasonably warm. Last July we had an absolutely scorching heatwave that completely killed our grass. But I really enjoy late August when the days are cooler and rainy in the mornings. (Especially if I don’t have anywhere to go.)

So here are some packing ideas to help you blend in with the locals, dress seasonally appropriate, and be fully prepared for your trip to England. (Keep in mind that Wales will probably have similar weather to England, but further north in England, Scotland, and likely Northern Ireland will be a bit more chilly no matter the time of year.) This time, I also tried to make a few more sustainable choices than usual as I’m moving that direction in my personal wardrobe.

Wool Fedora | Linen Button Down | Cotton Tee | Chambray Button Down | Picnic Dress | Long Weekend Dress | Relaxed Chinos | Shorts | Skirt | Sneakers | Sandals | Denim Jacket | Raincoat

If you’re planning on doing a lot of city walking, this is a great place to start packing. Of course if you’re planning on doing more country walking or more specific activities, you’ll know what to bring for that. I always recommend comfortable shoes and I firmly believe you can’t go wrong with a pair of Allbirds. If you want sandals as well, Birkenstocks are a great option. Whatever you choose, you need a firm sole because there are a lot of cobblestone roads around the UK.

Otherwise you want to pick a wardrobe that will keep you cool when you’re walking around and give you the ability to layer if it starts raining or in the evenings. I have this raincoat actually and I love it for the summer. It’s not going to make you any more warm, but it will certainly keep you dry and it rolls up really nicely to fit in your bag.

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This post contains affiliate links, so I may make a commission off any purchase you make through the link. Thank you for supporting my blog!