Hannah Drake

Household

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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6 Ways We're Going Green at Home

At HomeHannah DrakeComment

This year, Luke and I are tying to commit to being a little bit greener than we were last year. We have a ton of ideas and a list of products we want to purchase to help in that, but we’re trying to take it slow and staying within our budget. Still, you have to start somewhere, so here are six things on the top of our list, some of which we’ve already started, some of which we’re planning to start this month.

BUYING & STORING FOOD WITH LESS PLASTIC

In November, our grocery store moved to a new, bigger location and I think it’s so fantastic that I actually look forward to going to the grocery store every weekend. (It kind of reminds me of a Super Target, except it’s at least 60% groceries. Maybe 70%.) With their new location came some other awesome changes, including Smart Shop and more loose vegetables. With Smart Shop, we can use our loyalty card to check out a handheld scanner before we start shopping. We’re able to scan and bag all of our groceries as we go through the store and then quickly check out at a kiosk. Since we have reusable bags (all stores charge 5p for bags in the UK), we skip the plastic bags in the produce section since they immediately become trash at home. Maybe it’s the idea of loose produce rolling around in your shopping cart that makes people bag their produce in extra bags, but it’s nice to have the option to skip that step. Unfortunately, they still package a lot of the produce (like apples in plastic bags or cucumbers in shrink wrap), but it’s getting better!

At home, we’ve made a concerted effort to move away from using one-use plastic baggies. We’ve built up quite a collection of quality reusable storage containers to store left overs, including things like 1/2 of an onion or other produce we used to just toss in a plastic baggie. We try to only use plastic bags when we’re freezing things like pasta sauce or dumpling filling that we want to freeze flat in order to maximise freezer space. Or when the sneak popcorn into the cinema. But even then, we’ve started reusing those bags since it’s just popcorn and we go often enough.

Reusable bags are getting increasingly popular and available at most grocery stores and even some shops. If it’s not an option for you to bag as you shop, invest in some cotton produce bags, like this set of 7.

STORING FOOD MORE EFFICIENTLY

I’ve never for one minute given any thought into how to best store different foods until I was responsible for my own grocery shopping and cooking. Since we’re trying to cut down on all waste, but especially food waste, that means doing a lot of research into the best methods to store different types of foods.

Did you know that mushrooms should be kept in the fridge in a brown paper bag? Our store now has “mushroom bags” next to the mushrooms in the store, and since we’ve started using it, our mushrooms have lasted d a y s longer than keeping them in the packaging they come in or transferring them to our own plastic storage container. It traps too much moisture in with the mushrooms and makes them go back a lot more quickly.

We’re also looking at getting a fresh herb keeper to extend the life of our herbs. Our grocery store only has one size available for most of the herbs and we often don’t use it all in one recipe and won’t use it again before it goes bad. Extending the life gives us more time to plan to use the rest in another recipe, which admittedly is another valid options. Along that same line, we want to try our hand at another herb garden this year. We didn’t have much luck last year when we tried to grow rosemary, basil, and coriander (cilantro). The basil did the best and we used it often, which was great. But this last summer was incredibly hot and we forgot to get someone to water our plants while we were away for nearly 2 weeks so our coriander got absolutely fried. It was yellow and dry when we got home and didn’t stand a chance at coming back.

MAKING OUR OWN NATURAL HOUSEHOLD CLEANER & ROOM SPRAY

This year, I bought some amber glass spray bottles and jars from Amazon to make our own household cleaners. I’ve been wanting to do this for some time, but I wanted to use what we had already purchased first. My reasons for doing this were two-fold: It reduces plastic waste by reusing the same bottles. (Not to mention they’re more aesthetically pleasing, something that we all look for in our cleaning supplies, right?) And it reduces the chemicals introduced to our house. It’s no secret we’ve been itching to get a kitten and a puppy and eventually we’ll have kids. All of those little creatures are going around putting their mouths on everything and we want them to be safe. We don’t want them touching or licking surfaces that I’ve just sprayed down with harmful chemicals. Come to think of it, the cat definitely wouldn’t do that because cats have more dignity than that.

I looked into a couple of different methods and found a fairly similar theme. I knew I wanted to stick with just a vinegar and water cleaner, but infusing the vinegars was key. Hence the jars. Here’s what I did:

  • Put 1/2 cup dry ingredients into a 16-ounce (490ml) preserving jar. I did the following mixtures:

    • orange lemon thyme (peel from 1 lemon, peel from 1/2 orange, springs of thyme)

    • lavender sage (1/4 cup dried lavender buds, leaves of sage)

    • orange cinnamon clove (peel from 1 1/2 orange, 2 Tbsp whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks—although I used 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon because we couldn’t find any sticks)

    • lavender (1/2 cup dried lavender buds)

  • Fill with distilled white vinegar. In the States, distilled white vinegar should be readily available, but there’s no such thing in the UK. After some research, I discovered that the closest would be distilled white pickling vinegar. The key is the 5-7% acidity and the brand I found had 6% acidity.

  • Sit in a sunny spot (window sill is best) for 7-14 days. I opted for the full two weeks to allow for a deeper infusion.

  • Mix in a spray bottle at a 1:4 ratio with distilled water. Of course it depends on how big your bottle is, but the ratio is important. For every 1 part infused vinegar, add 4 parts distilled water. If you don’t have a purifier or filter for water, simply boil water and let it cool to room temperature before mixing.

  • Optional: Add a few drops of essential oil to enhance the scent. I use Young Living Essential Oils (though I recently bought a large bottle of lavender oil from Cotswold Lavender). They have cinnamon bark, clove, lavender, lemon, orange, sage, and thyme oils available.

Our vinegars will be ready to use this Sunday and I can’t wait! From everything I’ve read, these should easily replace your all-purpose and glass cleaners (and you’ll never want to go back!). However, do not use a vinegar-based cleaning solution on marble. It will erode the stone. Since we don’t have marble counter tops, I didn’t do any research into a natural alternative.

We also decided to make our own fabric and room spray, inspired by my Instagram friend Megan’s recent post. Add 30-40 drops each of two oils (she uses orange and bergamot) to distilled water. Again, use the amber glass spray bottles, which protect the contents from damaging UV rays. (If you’re storing them in a dark place, like in the cabinet under the sink, it should be fine in a clear glass bottle.

INVESTING IN MULTI-USE ITEMS

A few months ago, we bought a four-pack of microfiber cloths to use in our kitchen in place of paper towels. I was thinking about it this week and realised we’ve cut way down on the volume of paper towels we have used over the last few months. I wish I had exact numbers, but I didn’t think to keep track of it. Still, using the same cloth for a couple of days is a big difference than using a handful of paper towels to wipe down the counters after every meal.

Over the holidays, we bought some metal straws and a straw brush to start using more. I’m trying to remember to ask to not get a plastic straw when we’re out and instead use ours, but it’s a new habit that I need to build to. I recommend this set of 8 straws because it includes 4 straight and 4 bent, plus 2 straw brushes and a bag. We only have 4 bent straws and had to buy a brush separately and I do wish we had straight straws because they would be easier to travel with.

Luke got me a stainless steel water bottle in my stocking to replace a 5 year old Nalgene that definitely needed to be replaced a lot earlier. I really didn’t want to get another plastic bottle, but this does have a plastic lid.

I also currently have Keepcups and stainless steel lunchboxes in my Amazon cart waiting for purchase. However, it doesn’t make sense to replace a plastic item that you can continue to use and would have no other purpose for. So we’re going to wait to buy both items. We both have good non-plastic to-go cups and our plastic containers are holding up well to store left overs and pack lunches for now. We just won’t replace them with more plastic.

SWITCHING TO BIODEGRADABLE PRODUCTS & AWAY FROM PAPER PRODUCTS

We’re trying to cut down on our waste in a lot of ways and one of the easiest is to switch to biodegradable products. Instead of plastic toothbrushes, buy bamboo toothbrushes. Instead of plastic q-tips, buy bamboo cotton buds. Instead of sponges, buy bamboo brushes. Switching from plastic to bamboo is possible for a lot of household options. And while it might be slightly more expensive, it’s worth investing in our environment.

We’re also trying to use fewer paper products. I mentioned above we’ve made the switch from paper towels to microfiber cloths, which has made a noticeable difference already. I also made a new grocery store template to use after going through a whole note pad just for grocery lists. I laminated it at work and use dry erase markers on it. I punched a hole in the corner and added a ring to it so I could hang it up on a hook in the kitchen. If you want to use it, you can download a copy:

COMPOSTING

To be honest, I’ve been kicking myself for months for not doing this sooner. We throw away a lot of food scraps that could become compost. When you throw food away, it goes to a landfill where it rots and produces methane gas. The nutrients of the food are never able to return to the earth. The amount of wasted food is absolutely staggering and the percentage that is actually composted is a mere blimp on the radar. We certainly want to take responsibility for our food waste and do our part to help decrease the damage a banana peel tied in a plastic bag is doing to our earth.

We’re definitely not experts at any of this stuff, but we’re committed to making these changes in our household this year. My hope is that by this time next year, we’ve decreased the amount of plastic we use drastically, we’ve decreased our food waste, and made other substantial changes in our lifestyle to help our environment. It’s absolutely a learning process and we need to do more research on all of these things. But we’re taking the first steps and pledging to be better and that’s what matters today.

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!