Hannah Drake

Marriage

The Year of Alphabet Dates: I

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

We were feeling less than creative for our I date and struggling to come up with something other than “go for ice cream”. It seemed like so many of our ideas had to do with ice and that’s not very helpful in July! I asked my Instagram for suggestions and they came through with just enough spark and inspiration. We decided to tackle FOUR things on the lists below to turn it into a three-part date.

We went to see a movie in IMAX. I’m glad for the suggestion from my friend Taylor because I never would have thought of that! We were hoping to see Spider-Man Far From Home in IMAX, but it was only in 3D IMAX and 3D just isn’t our thing. (We saw Black Panther in 4DX last year and it was not as enjoyable as it was in 2D.) Instead, we waited until The Lion King came out. Unfortunately, there were only two 2D IMAX showings per day, so we had to choose between 10:40 and 13:40, which ruled out a week day. We went with the first showing and I’m not entirely sure why. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie in IMAX. I know my parents took me to a couple of documentaries (Everest) or shows (Cirque de Soleil) in IMAX at the museum in Denver, but I think that’s it. It was cool to see it in IMAX because it really is breathtaking. We marvelled at just how big the screen actually is!

There’s a little Italian place near our cinema that we’ve always wanted to try, but have never gotten around to until now. We were really excited to find out that it was included on our newly purchased Independent Birmingham cards, which offer discounts at local independent businesses. Laghi’s Deli offers two offers for IB members, one that’s only valid Monday through Thursday, but they offer 20% off take out pizza every day. So after the movie, we walked across the road to check them out. It was a nice day, so we ate outside. Wait no, let me rephrase, it was nice for about a half hour between rain and wind, so we ate outside. It was almost like being back in Naples!

Finally, we crossed the street to get some ice cream. One thing I miss about the States (or maybe just about where I’m from specifically) is how easy it is to go out for ice cream (or froyo). Growing up, it was always such a treat when we got to have TCBY when we went out to pick out our movies at Blockbuster on Friday nights. (Hello 90’s!) In high school, my friends and I would hang out at Dairy Queen during the summer like they were paying us for all those Blizzards! I guess I just wish we lived near an ice cream shop. The UK needs to step up their ice cream game from just reselling ice cream popsicle things or soft serve with a stick of chocolate. We technically got gelato, which is just Italian ice cream, so it counts. It was nice and refreshing even though the vibe in the place was nothing like any of the gelato shops we visited in Italy last year. (And we had to wait a surprisingly long time for our scoops!)

ACTIVITIES FOR THE I DATE NIGHT

  • support independent businesses - Find a locally owned restaurant, cafe, or shop to support. Do some research to find out if there’s a programme in your city that supports local and independent businesses like Independent Birmingham.

  • see something in IMAX

  • go for ice cream

  • make homemade ice cream

  • go ice skating

  • go to IKEA - Whether you need to go or not, it’s fun to wander around the show room and plan your dream house. Don’t forget to stop for meatballs before you leave!

  • have an indie movie night

  • try indoor skydiving

  • go inline skating

  • see an improv show or take an improv class

  • stay in an ice hotel - They’re popping up in some of the colder countries and look so cool! No pun intended.

  • build an igloo - Weather permitting, of course.

FOODS FOR THE I DATE NIGHT

  • Italian food

  • Indian food

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

DESTINATIONS FOR THE I DATE NIGHT

  • Inverness, Scotland

Header Photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.

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!

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!

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.