Hannah Drake


2019 Autumn Bucket List

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

It's that time of year again when I become the most basic of all bitches. I'm sorry (not sorry) but I absolutely love autumn. I’m so glad the weather is participating in my long-held belief that autumn starts in September (and goes through November) because, even though it was quite warm at the end of August, the temperatures dropped right down and it’s been quite cool. I’m so looking forward to greyer skies and cozy evenings at home watching movies and eating soup!

So naturally, as I fully embrace my most basic persona, I've once again created a little autumn bucket list.


We were able to find one relatively close to visit last year to pick apples, so we’ll probably just head back to the same one. Apple picking is definitely a September activity, so hopefully we’ll be heading there in the next couple of weeks. The orchard that we found last year also has a number of other fruits ripe for the picking, so maybe we’ll expand our fruit picking talents this year.

I was shocked to discover two years ago that "cider" here only means the alcohol kind. They don't even know what they're missing if you ask me! I guess the closest thing they have is “cloudy apple juice”, but it’s still not spiced with all the cinnamon-clove goodness! Over the last two years, Luke and I have perfected our homemade apple cider skills using this recipe and even turned it into a deliciously festive cocktail. We make it throughout the whole season so we always have some ready to go!


Gone are the days of hopping in the car for a day trip up to the Rocky Mountains for a beautiful drive. Peak-to-Peak Highway and the Million Dollar Highway are some of the most gorgeous drives I’ve ever taken, even though I nearly died trying to get to the latter. Even though we’ll be in Colorado this autumn, we’ll likely miss the foliage, so we’ll have to find some around England or Wales.


I wasn’t much looking forward to going to Oktoberfest, but as our trip to Germany grows closer, I’m getting slightly more excited. A few months ago, my sister started trying to convince us to go to Germany with her for Oktoberfest and Luke was definitely more on board than I was. Regardless of how I feel about drunk people and crowds—and crowds of drunk people—I’m excited to go back to Germany because I spent most of our trip there in 2017 bed ridden with a terrible stomach bug. Hopefully it’ll go a bit better this time.


Don’t you love how eloquent and succinct that is? I’ve been kicking around the idea of having some sort of chili gathering for months. Whether that’s a full on chili cook off or just an autumnal party with a fully loaded chili bar remains to be seen.


When I Marie Kondo’d my life earlier this year, I got rid of my cream cable knit jumper because it was stained and ratty. Thank you for your service, jumper, but it was time to say goodbye. I’ve been looking for an ethical version to take its place in my wardrobe ever since, but it was at the tail end of the fall/winter season anyway. Now that the seasons are turning over again in stores, I’m back on the lookout at some of my favourite ethical and sustainable retailers.


I love baking and I love sharing our baking with other people, partly because it doesn’t mean I feel obligated to eat it all. Since we have new neighbours this year, I want to make a good impression by taking over some pumpkin bread (perfect since my recipe makes two loaves) or apple cider doughnuts made from our homemade cider. I love all the autumnal spices, so I bake with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger as much as I can.


Last year we visited a nearby pumpkin patch to pick out some bigger pumpkins for our front porch and two to carve. We decided on a Harry Potter theme, Luke carving a dementor and me carving Hogwarts, and took to Instagram to let my followers vote on the winner. I’m pretty sure Luke won in a landslide, which is fair. I voted for him too.


I’ve never really cared much for Halloween until I started spending it with Luke. Our tradition has been to hide from trick-or-treaters (turning off the lights in the front of the house and hiding our pumpkins) and watch non-scary Halloween/autumnal movies, which always includes Practical Magic. We make chili and have some Halloween candy for dessert. I love it.

I’m completely obsessed with Hallmark’s Fall Harvest movies (and Countdown to Christmas, later) and love putting one on while I’m baking or before Luke gets home from work. One of my dream jobs would be to do set design for those movies—either fall or Christmastime. I’d make it my #1 goal to make it look more like fall instead of obviously summer with a few fake orange and yellow leaves. Since they put out fewer films for Fall Harvest than for Countdown to Christmas, it’ll be easy to watch them all.


We’re already planning for our third annual Thanksgiving feast, which will be early this year. Last year I said it was unlikely we’d ever go back to the States for Thanksgiving and we’ll actually be there this year thanks to a friend’s wedding and the late holiday. I’m excited to be back home for such an American holiday, but I promised my sister who will not be home for Thanksgiving that we would host our third annual gathering before we leave. Last year I expanded our menu a bit. While I’m not sure I want to make more again this year, I definitely want to try something new.


While I love England in the autumn, one thing I really miss about being back in Colorado is the football. My dad has had season tickets to CU football games for as long as I can remember and I love going to the games. Since we’re back this year, we’ve got a chance to at least see one American football game in person. (It might be a bit trickier though since CU is playing away the weekend we’re back…)

What's on your list for this autumn?

Last year, I included a little game of bingo to play on Instagram Stories throughout the season, but this year I’m simplifying a bit with an autumn checklist with all the most basic things. Save the image below and play along over the new three months, checking off everything you do!

Summer 2019 Highlights

LifeHannah DrakeComment

F I N A L L Y! It’s nearly September, and in my book, that means autumn. But before I move on to my absolute favourite season (sorry, not sorry, but the gloominess just speaks to my soul), I wanted to do a quick little recap of the summer, starting with my 2019 Summer Bucket List.

To be honest, my summer wasn’t exactly what I expected it would be a few months ago. We didn’t get out to explore as much as I would have hoped, but we still had a lovely summer, even if it was a bit on the hectic side, especially toward the end.


This one was a gimme because my friend Taylor and I had already been planning it for months before I posted my list. We hosted some ladies at Taylor’s house the second Saturday in June, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate with our dreams of it being an actual garden party. In the end, it was more like a sit down afternoon tea, but it was a lovely and beautiful affair if I do say so myself. We’re hoping to make it an annual event and hopefully the weather is more cooperative next time.


We did see Balsover Castle and Ashby de la Zouch Castle, both ruins that were conveniently on the way (or just out of the way) between us and Luke’s parents’ house. But other than that, I’m sad to say we didn’t cross much else off our list (AKA the booklet we got of all the sites when we signed up.)


I suppose it counts that we drove about four hours to Newcastle, but you just don’t get the same kind of American road trips here. There’s less of the “open road” because there’s more traffic. And, personally, I’ve never heard of a novelty like the world’s largest rocking chair being just off an exit on the motorway here in the UK.


I pictured the summer weekends full of walking in the countryside somewhere. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Maybe this fall while the weather is still decent. Or there’s always next summer!


FAIL. Absolute fail. I did attempt it this year, but it completely fell apart. A cake pro might have been able to salvage it, since the layers were just falling apart, but it was really hot and I was really frustrated, so I just threw in the towel. In the end, I just threw all the crumbled layers into a big container and Luke and I just picked at it over the next week. (Here’s a throwback to 2016, which was also a fail but apparently salvageable enough that I still took it to the BBQ.)


Ummmm…I’m trying to think. I don’t think Luke and I did host anyone over for a BBQ this summer, but we did host a BBQ for two for ourselves one day when the weather inspired it. Taylor and I also jointly hosted a low-key Fourth of July gathering at her house. In typical British fashion, it was BYO meat, but we made some classic American sides (corn on the cob, potato salad, etc.) and luckily Taylor planned to make an apple pie so we weren’t completely without dessert when my cake bombed.


Sadly, this one was a bit of a fail as well. We attempted to shop the farmers’ markets a couple of times, but they either weren’t that good, we had the wrong weekend, or they were cancelled. I was really looking forward to this one, but we just found ourselves a lot busier on Saturday mornings this summer that we usually are—or at least the Saturday mornings that mattered.


We didn’t bust out the picnic basket this summer, something Luke is probably quite happy about, but we did have an impromptu picnic lunch with our usual spread when we visited Ashby de la Zouch Castle.



CHECK! We did have s'mores in the back garden once or twice, but we also head stove top s’mores A LOT. It was a good little summer treat for us that wasn’t too much and wasn’t too sweet. By the way, I’m fully #TeamReeses and I don’t even have s’mores with plain ole chocolate anymore.


Honestly I didn’t know if this one was going to be possible at the beginning of the summer (or the end of May, as it were). But lo and behold, we’ve added two furry little ones to the Drake family this month! You can read more about our kitten, Eggs, in Monday’s blog post. Look out for a post next Monday about our puppy. You can also follow them on Instagram.


I’m just going to start with May because we did quite a bit of summering in May. We went to Ghetto Golf in town with my work, which was so much fun that we almost considered it for our G date. We hosted two parties, a Cinco de Cuatro fiesta and a Game of Thrones finale party. We went to London to see Come From Away with Luke’s family. (Highly recommend!) My mom came to visit. While she was here, she and I spent the day in London and then went to Hampton Court Palace. On the bank holiday over her visit, we went to Balsover Castle. And at the end of the month, before my mom left, we picked up our latest foster cat family.

June was a lot more low key. We saw quite a few movies at the cinema. My friend Gennean came to stay with us for a long weekend. We went to Lincoln to see comedian Reginald D. Hunter with Luke’s family. We decided last minute to have lunch at a BBQ festival one day and it was the best decision we made all month! And of course we had lots of kitten cuddles at home.

In July, we of course celebrated the fourth with lots of British friends. I went to Winterbourne Gardens with Taylor. We joined a gym! I started re-reading Harry Potter for the umpteeth time. And we made a lot of arrangements for all the big life events that would be coming up over the next few months.

August began with my birthday celebrations. We went out to Lane7 in town for beer pong and bowling. (We went there on our B date earlier this year.) It was so much fun! On my actual birthday, I took the day off to basically stay in bed, read Harry Potter, and cuddle with our kittens while it poured outside. That evening, Luke and I went out for sushi in town. We had an incredible opportunity to go to our second Arsenal game together (and second this year, the first for our F date), this time getting box seats! It was an unbelievable experience and one we’ll both treasure forever because it’s highly unlikely we’ll have a three course meal inside a cozy box at a sporting event ever again. The rest of August was mostly taken up with our house and the new additions to the family, which was fun but definitely made left a bit more chaotic and busy. We officially wrapped up summer on Monday’s bank holiday with a BBQ at our friends’ house, which was also Benedict’s first party! (She did great and she was obviously the star.)

I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked to have done this summer. And like I said, I didn’t explore as much as I would have liked to have done this summer. But it was still a pretty great summer all the same.


2019 Summer Bucket List

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

I’m oddly excited about summer this year. I prefer spring and autumn to summer, which is maybe why I moved to England where the summers are much more mild than Colorado. But this year I’m looking forward to it!

The last two years, I’ve done both an Autumn Bucket List and a Christmas Bucket List. This year, for the heck of it, I decided to do a Summer Bucket List for the first time. I’ll admit I mostly do these lists for myself. I like to set goals for myself and making a public declaration helps me keep them. (It doesn’t always work, but often enough.) It probably seems silly for someone nearing 30 to list ten things they want to do each season, but I really enjoy envisioning what I want my season to look like, whether that be summer, autumn, or Christmastime.


My friend Taylor and I have been dreaming about hosting a garden party for over a year now. We were hoping to do it in 2018, but our schedules didn’t allow for it to happen last year. Right now, we’re in the throes of garden party planning and I truly cannot wait to see it all come together next month! We’re envisioning a quintessential English garden party—or as close as two Americans can get—complete with floral dresses, pastel hats, and all the makings of a proper English tea. Plus prosecco, of course.


Earlier this week, we joined the English Heritage with a 15-month membership. We got a booklet of all the sites we have access to and I’m very excited to explore so many of these places across England. We don’t have any plans to leave the country this summer, so I’m hoping this will motivate us to do plenty of travel around England to dive into the rich history surrounding us. The #1 English Heritage site I want to visit this year is Stonehenge!


What better to see all those English Heritage sites than a road trip?! With a map of all the locations at the front of the booklet, it will make it easy to plan a trip around the sites or to add sites to an already planned trip. Of course there’s nothing like an American road trip, but I haven’t really done something similar here. We’ve driven a number of places in the last two years, including Wales and Scotland, but it wasn’t quite the same. We didn’t stop overnight anywhere or even make a special playlist just for the trip.


I guess this is the English version of hiking? I’m not really sure. All I know is that I suck at hiking up mountains, so I’m hoping I’ll fair better in the rolling hills of England. I’ve spend a lot of time thinking about what I want my ideal life to look like and one of the things I frequently see is us walking through the English countryside in our waxed jackets and walking shoes, umbrellas in hand as needed. Though I won’t say no to a nice sunny day!


I usually make an American flag cake every year for the Fourth of July and have even done so the last two years while living in England. It never fails to impress people, which I especially enjoy doing with my baking. We don’t currently have plans for any sort of Fourth of July celebration, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make the cake regardless! This year, I’m considering using a red velvet cake for the red layers instead of dyed white cake. I’m curious how it would turn out!


Last year we hosted a First of July BBQ (hence the sign above), but it could possibly be a crazy time at our house by July, so we haven’t made any decisions yet. Still, it’s always nice to have some friends over for grilled meat in that famous British sunshine! I find the differences between American and British BBQ so be very strange indeed, though. Unless my family is strange for Americans, they seem quite different. In the States, you might have the option between burgers or brats/hot dogs and the guests might contribute some sides or desserts to the BBQ. In the UK, a lot of the BBQs I’ve been to, especially those not put on by an American, are usually BYO meat and have very few side options. I mean, where are the half dozen options to eat potatoes, Brits?! C’mon!


I had hoped to start this in May, but the month proved to be a bit too hectic for us to manage. So we’re hoping to start in June (tomorrow, in fact!). It’s a really great way to support local agriculture and sustainability. I’m baffled at how often fruits and vegetables come packaged in plastic at our grocery store, so even though we have reusable produce bags, we don’t get to use them as often as we’d like. We’ve also been eating increasingly more plant-based meals, so a farmer’s market would be a great place to help with that. I’m terrible about shopping and eating in season, so it’ll be great to be in the market looking at what’s currently available and talking to the people who grew it all. I even got a new bag for all our shopping!


I’m a huge fan of picnics! There’s no doubt about that. In fact, Luke and I did picnic-themed engagement photos. (See!) I think we’ve only had one each of the last two summers, so why ruin the streak now? We have a gorgeous picnic basket (albeit a heavy and inconvenient one) and we have to put it to good use! I kind of wish we had one of the lighter, easier to carry hampers that are available in most stores in the summer, so maybe I’ll look into selling ours and upgrading.


You can’t find graham crackers around these parts, but we make do with digestives. Luke built a fire pit one night last summer, which allowed us to toast mallows whenever we wanted! (BTW, let’s just all agree that Reese’s are best with peanut butter.) Now we even have beautiful adirondack chairs that Luke built last summer to sit in while we roast them!


Okay, this is a big one. And maybe this summer is a bit ambitious, but this is one of the only things I even want this whole year! We’ve been itching to add a puppy and a kitten to the Drake household for months now. Well, perhaps since I moved two years ago. It’s closer than ever now and it may actually be time to start looking! We’re really set on getting them at the same time or at least around the same time so we can hopefully foster a good relationship between them and neither is too territorial or unsure of the other. Obviously we already have the names picked out, we just have to find the right ones! I’m hoping that at the very least, we get them both in the autumn. But of course hopefully sooner.

What's on your list for this summer?

Engagement Photos by Brianne Haagenson Photography.

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