Hannah Drake

Marriage

The 10 Most Used Items from Our Wedding Registry

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

It’s been almost exactly a year since we got our big registry delivery. We registered at John Lewis, that offers one big delivery after the registry has closed (within 2 months after the wedding) instead of shipping things as they’re purchased. That means that they can’t guarantee every product and only allow you to register about 2 months before the wedding. It’s definitely not what I’m used to from friends and family getting married in the States and registering at Target, which offers a discount on everything remaining on your list or Crate & Barrel (which might do the same), which keeps your registry open for a year after the wedding. Our long list of frustrations with John Lewis have come and gone and what remains are our awesome gifts from loved ones.

Now that it’s been a year, I feel like I can say what’s been good and what’s been…kind of pointless. So today I’m breaking down the 10 most used items from our registry. I’ll go ahead and save you the obvious that our dishes are our most used item. We literally use them everyday.

KitchenAid Mixer

Okay, this one is a bit of a stretch because Luke actually got it for me for Christmas, but we did register for one. It’s also a good reminder that you shouldn’t expect anyone on your list, no matter how closely related or how well off they are, to drop some serious money on a kitchen gadget for you. Maybe you’re lucky and someone will get it for you, so why not put it on “just in case”. It’s probably not a surprise that our mixer is used often in our kitchen since I love to bake. I had one in the States and sold it before I moved because of the weight (for shipping) and the complications with the plug/voltage, but this one is getting more use out of all three attachments, especially the dough hook considering I broke our handheld mixer just before the wedding trying to make croissant dough.

Plastic Funnel

Yes, seriously. Don’t just go big because the little things are really useful (and honestly more affordable for some of your guests). I’m honestly shocked at how often we use this thing and totally baffled as to how we made do without one. We use it for all the usual things. But it’s especially handy because we try to buy dry goods and pantry staples (spices, flour, lentils, rice sugar, etc) in bulk and store them in other jars and containers. You know I love my jars!

Egyptian+Cotton+Towels

My mom hooked us up with new towels for my birthday actually since they weren’t purchased off the registry before it closed. Even after a year of rotating between two towels each, these Egyptian Cotton towels are still so plush. They’ve held up a lot better than the towels we got from TK Maxx when we first moved in together.

Retro Copper Kitchen Timer

We’ve got copper details all over our kitchen, including our kitchen timer. It’s retro in every way, from the look to the sound it makes when it goes off. And it’s magnetic, so it lives on the side of our fridge. We use it all the time, but especially when we’re cooking or baking multiple things at once and need to use our phones as well. It may be 2019, but I’ll never outgrow an actual kitchen timer and I’ll use it over my phone any day.

LSA+International+Oil+%26+Vinegar+Set

This oil and vinegar set lives by our hob and I’m in love with it. It’s so beautiful, and while it doesn’t hold a lot of volume, it’s really practical for us. They pour better than the bottles oil and vinegar come in and are great if we’re serving a simple salad at a dinner party.

Royal Doulton 1815 Small Mugs

Funny story about these mugs. Our friends got us the mugs we originally registered for (the same maker, just different patterns), but between registering and opening our delivery, I fell in love with these mugs that they actually own. We ended up exchanging them for these and I’m glad we did. They’re gorgeous and now our go-to tea and coffee mugs. I’m a firm believer in not having matching mugs—mugs are special and should be collected over time—but I’m counting these since they’re different colours.

John Lewis & Partners 'The Pan' Pan Set

While our IKEA pots served us well for about 10 months, these pots are amazing and beautiful. The frying pan has been difficult to keep clean on the bottom, but Barkeeper’s Friend has been a game changer and has it looking as good as new! And you’re probably noticing a theme with all the cream kitchen stuff. Luke was over the white, so this was a good compromise. We actually bought these ourselves with some of the gift cards we received. Gotta love those gift cards!

John Lewis Dark Blue Ramen Bowl

We registered for four ramen bowls, two this dark blue pattern and two a simpler grey pattern. You know we love soup and I’ve always been a fan of soup bowls. Sadly, one of our blue bowls was the first (and so far only) thing to break from our wedding gifts, so we’re down to three now because they discontinued both patterns. Regardless, we still use them just about every Wednesday night!

John Lewis & Partners Round Soft Close Pedal Bin

It’s always nice to buy people fun kitchen gadgets or pretty linens…I’m definitely the same. But don’t sleep on the insanely useful gifts. I’m so glad our friend purchased a bin for the bathroom off our registry because it’s been insanely useful. It’s smaller than the one we used to have (which has become our recycling bin), so it fits in our tiny bathroom better, but it’s also sleeker, prettier, and you just gotta have the lid.

Mason Cash Bakewell Mini Bowls

I’ll never forget when my sister and brother-in-law unpacked all their wedding gifts in their apartment and realised they ended up with SO.MANY.BOWLS! Literally, a human has never owned so many bowls. I took their tale as a tale of caution and tried to limit the number of bowls we registered for, but it turns out bowls are super handy. And I’m so glad we registered for these mini bowls. I use them when I pretend I’m on an internet cooking show like Tasty and pre-chop all my ingredients. We use them for soy sauce when we bring home sushi. We use them for just about anything you would need a mini bowl for. And when they’re not in use, they’re displayed next to the coffee mugs and it makes all my pretty pastel dreams come true. (We also have the 4L version of this bowl in the same powder blue that we use as a serving bowl.)

I’ve been hearing rumblings online that registries are outdated because couples often live together before the wedding, but it seems like they’re not really going anywhere. Instead, they’re evolving a bit with the times. Luke and I were in an odd situation of living together, but not really having a ton of stuff already. Luke had lived in furnished flats and houses since uni and I was obviously moving across the ocean and not bring over a whole lot. We lived together at his last house for about two weeks, then sublet a friends’ house for about a month before finding an unfurnished house to rent. When we moved into that place (almost two years ago!) we pretty much had nothing. A bedside table, a lamp, and some miscellaneous kitchen stuff and home decor pieces that my mom shipped over in November. We made multiple trips to IKEA to get the basics, got a bunch of free furniture from friends and family and strangers online, and tried to plan ahead for our registry.

In case you find yourself living with your fiance and unsure of what to register for, I’ve got four tips just for you:

TAKE INVENTORY OF WHAT YOU’RE MISSING

We held off on investing in items with a bigger price tag until we registered. Things like small kitchen appliances (a stand mixer, a blender, a food processor) were out of the question before our registry closed. We also waited to get some speciality items or things we would use for entertaining a bigger group.

Maybe you’re moving to a bigger place shortly after your wedding or are already in a place you haven’t finished furnishing. What else do you need? Does your guest room need linens? A lamp? Maybe you have a breakfast counter that you haven’t found the right stools for yet.

DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO UPGRADE

We actually had a lot of things we wanted to upgrade. Like I mentioned, we had purchased a lot of things at IKEA or TK Maxx or even got them off Freecycle because I was unemployed during my first six months abroad and we were setting up an entire house. The idea what to kind of “tide us over” until we could register for nicer things. We upgraded our pots, our pans, our towels, our dishes, and our vacuum, among other things.

We prioritised our upgrades and ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it having really nice bedding when we could get some more kitchen gadgets or glasses for our bar instead. But if you’re sleeping on sheets from your college days or drying off with the same scratchy towels he had while he was a bachelor, maybe it’s time to upgrade.

CONSIDER WHERE YOU SPEND MOST OF YOUR TIME

After already living together for some time, you probably have a better idea of how you live. If you’re registering for items before you move in together, in a way, you’re just guessing how to prioritise your time and life as a couple. In the eleven months we were living together before the wedding, we discovered that our priority was the kitchen and entertaining. I would say that 90% of our registry was for things that are kept in our kitchen today. We wanted things like margarita glasses and martini glasses, Balti dishes, dip bowls, and bed trays that we probably won’t use all the time, but are great to have when we’re having Mexican food or Indian food, or even just chips. And the bed trays encourage breakfast in bed on the weekends—my favourite!

Maybe you spend a lot of your time in the back garden. Do you need gardening tools or grilling tools? Maybe you like the simple life of lounging in the living room and need a few more items to make it feel like home. Get some decor pieces you really like. Some artwork, a big mirror, or a new floor lamp.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

Like I said, registries are evolving. Nowadays you can register for all kinds of stuff. So many stores offer wedding registries now, like Amazon (they have everything!) or REI (perfect for the outdoorsy couple)!. You can register on one site for multiple stores, like Zola. You can register for money for your honeymoon or a home renovation or even just to have some seed money on sites like Honeyfund. There are so many options out there now. These are your mama’s wedding registries!

PIN FOR LATER!

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The Year of Alphabet Dates: H

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

We had a bit of a tough time coming up with an idea for H. For the longest time, nothing that we came up with really jumped out at us. Eventually, I got really excited at the thought of a Harry Potter date and Luke got really excited about making hors d'oeuvres. So we did the natural thing and combined the two.

We planned to watch a few Harry Potter movies (6, 7, and 8) in one sitting since the weather had been particularly crummy. It was the perfect time to have a lazy day and a movie marathon! I decided to make a few Harry Potter treats, like I did with my sister in 2011 before the final movie came out. It wasn’t as intricate as our Harry Potter feast back then, but I did make pumpkin juice, butterbeer, and cauldron cakes. I also got some black liquorice (my favourite!) for liquorice wands.

Harry Potter Pumpkin Juice

PUMPKIN JUICE

Pumpkin Juice, to me, is the quintessential Harry Potter drink. Even more so than butterbeer! One, it sounds a lot more appetising to me. Two, they drink it a lot more frequently since they drink it with meals, especially at Hogwarts. I used the recipe linked below, but only made a half batch. We could only find peach nectar and it was still really good. And as I do with most pumpkin recipes, I upped the spices and added cloves, which isn’t listed in the recipe, but is mentioned elsewhere in the blog post. Most pumpkin juice recipes that I found were essentially these ingredients, but the method of warming it all up on the hob before chilling it intrigued me the most.

Harry Potter Cauldron Cakes

CAULDRON CAKES

There seems to be a lot of debate on what cauldron cakes actually are since they’re never described in detail in the books. The only mentions of them describes them being purchased in “stacks”, like from the trolley on the Hogwarts Express. I’ve seen recipes that basically make little funnel cakes or hole-less doughnut looking things. In my imagination, cauldron cakes are chocolate cakes that look like cauldrons. I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe and baked them without liners in a muffin tin. (Make sure you grease the pan really well.) I made custard, doubling this recipe, and divided it into four equal parts to dye each batch a different colour: purple, blue, green, and yellow to represent different potions. Once the cakes were cool and the custard was firm, I scooped out the middle of the cake (while they’re upside down) and filled it with custard.

Harry Potter Butterbeer - Alcoholic Recipe

BUTTERBEER

There are a lot of butterbeer recipes out there and, unlike pumpkin juice, the ingredients vary so much recipe to recipe. I decided to recreate the alcoholic butterbeer recipe my sister and I made in 2011 with a few simple ingredients:

1 oz butterscotch liqueur or schnapps
cream soda
soda water (I topped it up with soda water to cut some of the sweetness)
whipped cream

I envisioned drizzling it with caramel sauce, but the sauce we got wasn’t exactly drizzleable, so I settled for a dollop.

For dinner that night, we planned to make a selection of hors d'oeuvres from scratch. I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant at this idea. I thought we would end up with a ton of food that we couldn’t finish and that wouldn’t keep very well as leftovers. But we managed to plan it well and make a small portion of a few things. We made Korean BBQ chicken bites, grilled cheese dippers and tomato soup shooters (I’m totally making up the name here), caprese and prosciutto skewers, cucumbers rounds with cream cheese and salmon, and stuffed mushrooms. Luke also made shortbread sandwiches with cream and strawberries.

Caprese Prosciutto Skewers

CAPRESE & PROSCIUTTO SKEWERS

These are simple. You need mozzarella, basil, prosciutto, and cherry tomatoes. Just assemble them onto toothpicks or small skewers. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar.

Cucumber Salmon Rounds

CUCUMBER SALMON ROUNDS

We didn’t really follow a recipe for these either. We just sliced some cucumber, added a dollop of cream cheese (you could use another soft cheese with herbs or something), a sliver of smoked salmon, and dill.

Stuffed Mushrooms

STUFFED MUSHROOMS

I didn’t measure anything for these because all the recipes I found were for a large batch. I sauteed spinach until wilted and then added 2 garlic cloves, minced, and cooked for about 1 more minute. I mixed mozzarella, Parmesan, cheddar, and cream cheese with salt and pepper. I added the spinach and garlic to the cheese mixture and then spooned into the mushroom caps. I baked at 180C (400F) for 12 minutes.

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Dippers

GRILLED CHEESE & TOMATO SOUP DIPPERS

We made one grilled cheese sandwich as usual and then cut off the crusts and cut into four strips. We also warmed up some tomato soup (from a tin) with salt and pepper and spooned into 2oz shot glasses and topped with fresh basil.

Korean BBQ Chicken Bites

KOREAN BBQ CHICKEN BITES

These were the main event and probably the most involved to make, though they didn’t actually take a ton of time. These would be great as a meal on some rice or something, but they were also really good just as chicken bites.

Strawberries & Cream Shortbread Sandwiches

STRAWBERRIES & CREAM SHORTBREAD SANDWICHES

Luke whipped up these little shortbread cookies with this own 3-2-1 recipe of flour, butter, and sugar. (He used 150g of flour.) He filled them with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. They were delicious and so cute!

ACTIVITIES FOR THE H DATE NIGHT

  • have a Harry Potter themed date - Interpret this how you wish, but I was thinking you should at least gorge yourself on Harry Potter sweets while watching the movies.

  • go hiking

  • go out for happy hour

  • go horseback riding

  • take a helicopter tour - Maybe that’s a usual price range for a date with you, but maybe you just want to splurge, especially if you live or are visiting some place that would look amazing from a helicopter. (I’m looking at you, Hawaiians!)

  • do a hop on/hop off tour - Some major cities offer these now and it’s actually my #1 recommendation for seeing London, especially if you’re short on time.

  • watch a horror movie - You could go vintage, classic, or current. (If horror isn’t quite your taste, like me, but you’re trying to get into the Halloween spirit, try something a bit more mild like Cabin in the Woods, The Village, or Get Out. They have a few scares, but I actually enjoyed all three.)

  • take a hot air balloon ride or go to a hot air balloon festival

  • go to a hockey game

  • go hot tubbing

  • tour a haunted house

  • tour your hometown - Show of where you grew up by hitting all your favourite spots.

  • go hang gliding

  • go house hunting - Maybe you’re not actually house hunting, but it sure is fun to pretend like it, especially if you get to see houses way out of your price range!

FOODS FOR THE H DATE NIGHT

  • Hors d'oeuvres - Make your own—it’s easier than you think to make a few in small batches—or go out for some. I suppose you could even go to (or crash) a fancy event and treat yourself to some professional hors d’oeuvres.

  • Hibachi

  • H restaurants/bars - Does your favourite restaurant or bar start with a H? Or what about a spot you’ve been dying to try, but just haven’t found the time yet?

DESTINATIONS FOR THE H DATE NIGHT

  • The Highlands - One of the coolest neighbourhoods in Denver

  • The Scottish Highlands

  • Hardwick Hall

Header Photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.

The Year of Alphabet Dates: G

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

We were a bit stuck for what to do for our G date. We kicked around the idea of Ghetto Golf, but we went at the beginning of May with work, so we weren’t particularly excited about that. In the end, our G activity came to us a bit last minute.

A few weeks ago, our internet cut out on a Friday morning while I was home. They told Luke later that day that something was wrong with the telephone line or something like that, so we wouldn’t have internet for four working days. It made me embarrassingly grumpy at first, but it was actually so nice to go offline for the weekend, even though it was forced. I think by the end of the weekend, we had watched 2 episodes of a Netflix show when Luke tethered the Xbox to his phone, but otherwise, we talked more, we played games, we read books, we played with our foster kittens. It was actually so nice! I need to unplug—literally the router from the wall—more often.

On Friday night, I ordered Pandemic Legacy Season 1 on Amazon Prime. It was delivered Saturday afternoon and we spent the rest of the day playing the board game. We had previously played season 1 with our friends, but Luke started the game with them before I moved, so I wasn’t there for the first three “months”. (You play 12 months, but you might replay a month once if you lose the first time. You move on even if you lose the second time. Obviously you don’t have to play that month in that actual month.) If I remember correctly, we finished the game on New Years Day 2018, so it had been a while since we played that version, which was great because we had forgotten about some of the major plot points. We’re currently playing Pandemic Legacy Season 2 with the same couple. And there are rumours season 3 comes out later this year.

Legacy games are really fun. You’ll want to play with the same people and Pandemic is great as it’s 2-4 players. (We thought about getting a different legacy game for our date, but the other one I wanted—Risk—needed a minimum of three players.) The game will evolve as you play. You might uncover new information and you might destroy—yes, literally destroy—pieces of the game. You can really only play once, even if you don’t destroy the cards and remember where everything goes, since you also update the board with stickers as you go.

When are they going to make a Legacy Settlers of Catan?!

We absolutely crushed the game. We won all 12 months on the first attempt and in the end, only failed to do 2 things that would have gotten us a perfect game. No doubt we lucked when drawing cards a lot of the time, but the two characters we chose and the game end upgrades we added seemed to have been played flawlessly! And while we love playing with the other couple, it’s a lot more difficult to schedule a full day of marathon game play, so it was interesting to try it all in one sitting and not have to set up everything and relearn some of the rules each time.

Sadly we didn’t get too creative for G foods. Although I did invent what might be my new favourite snack: Ritz crackers, Brie, and a blackberry. Holy cow it’s delicious! And I don’t usually like Brie. I guess technically you could say we had greasy takeaway for dinner. Luke went out between games to pick up dinner from Rooster House, a super cheap (though not as cheap as it once was) fried chicken place in our neighbourhood. We usually bring it home, eat it with Chick-Fil-A sauce we bring back whenever we visit the States. I call it Chick-Faux-Le.

ACTIVITIES FOR THE G DATE NIGHT

  • play games - Board games, card games, drinking games, all the games!

  • go off the grid - Maybe that just means get offline (unplug your wifi router for the day—or the weekend) or maybe that means heading out somewhere rustic and roughing it for a few days without the digital luxuries we all love.

  • race go-karts

  • play golf

  • go glamping - Maybe roughing it isn’t quite your style, but you still want to spend time in the great outdoors. There are a lot of cool glamping spots set up all over the place and you don’t even have to try to pitch your own tent.

  • do a gin tasting - If there’s gin distillery nearby, they might do tastings. Maybe a local bar does gin tastings or pairings. But you could set one up for yourselves, whether that’s at home or your favourite bar.

  • go to Ghetto Golf - It’s a Birmingham & Liverpool thing that’s basically black light mini golf inside.

  • have a Game of Thrones theme - Binge your favourite season or a handful of your favourite episodes. Eat and drink themed food.

  • build a gingerbread house - If it’s that time of year, why not?! Do it together or separately. Make a village or just a classic house. Start from scratch or use a kit.

  • try gardening - Whether you have a green thumb or not, spending the day gardening sounds pretty nice. (Okay, maybe more enjoyable if you’re good at it and know what you’re doing. Just do some research first.)

  • go geocaching - I only heard about this recently, but it sounds awesome. It sounds like a massive scavenger hunt using GPS. Check out the website for more information.

  • have a getaway - Go away together for a night or a weekend.

  • take a ghost tour

  • shop garage sales - Check Craigslist, local Facebook groups, or even your local newspaper and spend the morning shopping all the garage sales around town. You might end up with some pretty awesome new treasures.

  • do a genetics test - It’s not much of an actual date, but it would be something cool to do together.

  • go to the gym

FOODS FOR THE G DATE NIGHT

  • Greek food/gyros

  • G restaurants/bars - Does your favourite restaurant or bar start with a G? Or what about a spot you’ve been dying to try, but just haven’t found the time yet?

DESTINATIONS FOR THE G DATE NIGHT

  • Glasgow, Scotland

Header Photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.

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