JOY42

Thanksgiving Tablescape Inspiration

At HomeHannah DrakeComment

When I was asked to set the table as a kid, I was always happy to oblige. I have no idea why, but I just always loved setting the table, especially for special occasions. Sometimes my mom would help me make a table in a Word document and figure out how to print folding place cards on special paper. I remember downloading the Harry Potter font (you know, from the US printed books) for our Harry Potter feast celebrating the release of the final film. I remember one year using some of the smaller Santas from my mom’s collection as place card holders. For whatever reason, it’s always been such a joyous chore for me and I love getting creative with it.

Now that I’m old enough to be hosting my own dinner parties or holiday feasts, it’s even more fun! I love picking out items to use in our tablescapes or to otherwise entertain. Simply put, it just makes me happy.

So if you’re like me and love it, or if you dread setting the table but somehow find yourself tasked with the chore at every family gathering, this post is for you! I’ve combed the internet to gather up some of the best Thanksgiving table inspo for you!

First up, here’s my table from last year. I was inspired by the post below from Julia at Gal Meets Glam, but I put it off too late to find the right eucalyptus leaves. Our table is quite narrow, so it wasn’t feasible to make the centrepiece fuller by adding larger pumpkins or more candles. Still, I love the simplicity of it. I wanted a very clean look to it with the pumpkins and napkins adding an autumnal pop of colour against the muted green of the leaves. Even though the leaves weren’t flat like in Julia’s photo, they did the trick and we actually repurposed the longer stems in the photo booth backdrop at our wedding six months later!

My absolute favourite part of the whole table was the place cards. They came together exactly how I imagined. First, I scoured the internet for napkin folding tutorials until I found one that was clean and simple and would match my aesthetic. Around that, I designed the place cards. I measured and cut strips of paper and hand-lettered everyone’s name to the top. When everyone sat down, it just looked like a small piece of paper tucked inside the napkin. But soon they realised that actually there was more below the surface! (Like a happy iceberg!) Below the names (and low enough to be hidden under the napkin), Luke and I had written why we were thankful for their friendship. (Luke had written the notes for me and the three other gentlemen there. I had written the notes for Luke and the three other ladies there.) Some of our friends still have them on display in their dining room and that just touches my heart like you wouldn’t believe!

We got everything from IKEA, except the mini pumpkins & greenery:

In Julia’s 2016 post Our Thanksgiving Table, she says, I didn’t go very far to find everything we needed for our table. It all started with a simple open weave table runner from Pottery Barn for our burl wood dining table. I knew I would be re-using our clear charger plates I bought last year as the base with our china, but I wanted an effortless and more neutral-tone center piece. So I took a handful of mixed pumpkins in white and orange and mixed them with unscented Santa Rosa candles in various heights and sizes. To bring a little green to the table, I added in fresh silver dollar eucalyptus leaves and weaved them through the candles and pumpkins.

WHITE RUSTIC

A POP OF ORANGE

BOUNTIFUL HARVEST

BOLD & GLAM

PUMPKIN PALOOZA

LIGHT AND AIRY

LUSH GREENS

DARK AMBIENCE

MAD ABOUT PLAID

GREEN IS A NEUTRAL

NATURE WALK

VIBRANT JEWEL TONES

MIXED TEXTURES

BUFFALO CHECKED

So if you’re taking over the table this Thanksgiving, I’d love to see what you do with it! Email or DM me your beautiful tablescapes!

Shop Everything You Need for a Stylish Thanksgiving Table:

PIN FOR LATER!

This post contains affiliate links, so I may make a commission off any purchase you make through the link.

DIY Cozy Movie Night at Home

MarriageHannah Drake2 Comments

Maybe you know by now that at the Drake household, Wednesday is date night. We have made the commitment to block off that time each week for each other, no matter what. Sometimes we go big, sometimes we stay home, sometimes we’re somewhere in between, which usually involves a free trip to the cinema. One of our favourite at-home date night ideas is just hanging out in the living room watching a movie (or two). Since the idea is to step out of a routine, we watch a movie instead of whatever show we’re currently bingeing. And on special occasions, I even transform our living room into the coziest movie theatre we’ve ever been to.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Mattress (preferably off a bed since air mattresses can be noisy and uncomfortable)

  • Pillows (all of the pillows you have!)

  • Blanket(s)

  • Movie of Choice

  • Snacks + Drinks of Choice

  • Candles and/or Fairy Lights

WHAT YOU DO

It’s so simple:

  • Start with prepping your space. I move the coffee table into the kitchen and vacuum the living room.

  • Grab the mattress off your bed. I use our spare room mattress since it’s lighter and more convenient to move. If fits perfectly between the couch and fireplace.

  • Pile your mattress high with blankets and pillows. Seriously, all the pillows! I use all five from our bed plus the four throw pillows on the couch. You want it to be fluffy and comfy and heavenly! It’s up to you how many blankets you use. I usually use one to cover the mattress (so I don’t have to rewash the guest linens) and then add two more.

  • Light candles or string up fairy lights. Bonus points for both! Remember you’re going for the coziest space of all time!

  • Prepare your favourite movie snacks and beverages of choice. I could definitely live off popcorn, so I’ll make a big bowl and grab some candy if we have some. (We usually do since we import it in from the States.) For a themed evening, it would be fun to do a special drink, weather it’s a cocktail or something to warm you up.

  • Watch your movie and snuggle up!

See? So easy and totally doable without going out to buy new stuff. We chock it up as a free date night!

The first time I did it, I hustled to get it all ready for Luke before he got home. We watched Animal House. (Wow that movie really did not age well!) Recently, I did it again, watched some fall movies, and had homemade Chinese food for dinner too. This is why you need to get breakfast-in-bed trays. They always come in handy!

Shop Everything You Need for a Cozy Movie Night:

PIN FOR LATER!

This post contains affiliate links, so I may make a commission off any purchase you make through the link.

The Expat Diaries, Vol. 13

LifeHannah DrakeComment

So much of my expat life in the last two months has been political. I think every single day for the last few months, I’ve considered scrounging up a few (hundred) quid to fly back to Colorado for a few days and be politically active ahead of the midterm elections. Needless to say, it didn’t happen, but assuming we’re still abroad in 2020, I will consider planning a trip back to the States in the fall so that I can participate in our democracy (and maybe catch a Buffs game or two.)

But before you click away for fear I’m about to be political about Tuesday’s elections, I won’t. Instead, I want to talk about what it’s been like to be away from my country during election season.

It’s been a long few months leading into this year’s midterms and it’s been tough to watch from on the other side of the pond. Democracy works when we participate in it and every day I would log into Twitter and read tweets about how tweeting isn’t enough. You have to call your representatives, canvass, get your friends and family registered to vote. I wasn’t able to do any of that so I often just felt like I was screaming into a void. Retweets and @ing Congressmen on Twitter already didn’t felt like enough and it was tough to be reminded every day of that. I didn’t really have a choice though.

After talking to my mom one day in September, I realised I could at least use my social media platform and online presence to remind people to register to vote. I started sharing reminders every Tuesday leading up to the election and did research on voter registration deadlines in each state to share on Facebook with my friends who were scattered across the country. That brought a little peace of mind, thankfully. One day, I helped my brother get his absentee ballot sorted with Colorado and a few weeks before the election, a friend said she registered to vote thanks to my constant reminders. It was a bit of solace amidst a sea of helplessness and anxiety. Later, a friend tagged me in a post about a campaign called Influence the Election, so I shared the post and tagged some people on Instagram as well. Some big accounts I follow reposted their own because I had tagged them. That was awesome!

I voted by absentee ballot from Colorado in October. I’ve actually only ever voted by mail, so I’ve never gotten an “I Voted” sticker. This year, I ordered a six pack of “VOTE” buttons from Etsy so I could wear one to drop off my ballot and on Election Day, even though I'm in England.

I also took Wednesday, the 7th off from work. I figured I’d either stay up super late or wake up super early to watch the results come in from across the pond. It’s not easy with the seven hour time difference, but I didn’t want to be dragging my feet at work all day and I had the time to take off anyway. Thank goodness I did because Luke woke me up around 1AM and I was glued to my phone watching the returns until 5AM. My hand still hurts from holding my phone. Yikes.

Speaking of the time difference, we had Daylight Saving a week before the States did. So for seven days we were eight hours ahead instead of the usual seven. I remember those weeks when Luke and I were long distance and the time difference was slightly off. Somehow, even if were only six hours, it was the worst. We had just gotten so accustom to the seven hour difference and it worked out really well because how our work and sleep schedules were at the time. On the usual schedule, we were able to talk to each other almost every day before and after work for both of us and before falling asleep and after waking up for both of us.

Most of the last two months were business as usual. That is, other than our 10 day trip to Italy. Were in Italy—in Naples, on the Amalfi Coast, and in Rome—for the second half of September and it was lovely! I intended to blog about the whole trip last month, but I’ve been having computer issues, which made it really difficult to edit the 6,000+ photos I took on our trip! Also, I simply didn’t leave myself enough time to get all of the posts together to the level of thoroughness I wanted. I promise they’re coming.

I participated in my first Bonfire Night celebrations last Thursday when I went to our friends’ house for drinks and a BBQ around the fire pit before walking over the university for the fireworks display. I was imaging something like the Fourth of July but in November, but it wasn’t quite. Nobody sat down. The area on campus where everyone watching the display was packed with people shoulder-to-shoulder. If you didn’t show up with someone, there was hardly any chance of finding them. They also had a little carnival set up with rides and concessions. I’ve only seen that at one fireworks display I’ve been to in the States. But I’ve never seen Americans do fireworks set to music. That was pretty cool!

We’ve been working hard to plan our second Thanksgiving—technically Friendsgiving. I’m really excited to host again, but I’m also already looking forward to Thanksgiving 2019 when we hopefully have a bigger dining room so it’s not so cramped. We’re also planning our trip back to Colorado for Christmas, but this time we’re scheduling in some free time so it doesn’t feel as busy and chaotic as it did in July! It’s been a crazy few months trying to soak up every minute of fall, but also already looking ahead to the holidays.

In the meantime, we’ve started a cleanse this week that was recommended by our friends. It’s similar to the Whole 30 I think, but re-introduces more foods throughout the 28 days, with the first four days being the most restrictive. We do have Thanksgiving in the time frame, but we’re going to do our best. Our goal is to eat along the lines of Whole 30 (focusing mostly on meat and veg) at home throughout the holidays. In the new year, we’ll probably do this cleanse again and make sure we don’t have anything coming up to interrupt it.

This post contains affiliate links, so I may make a commission off any purchase you make through the link.