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Marriage

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!

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The Great British Drake Off: Treacle Week

MarriageHannah Drake4 Comments

Have you heard of The Great British Bake Off? If you’re British, of course you have. If you’re American or Canadian, you probably know it by The Great British Baking Show and I can’t for the life of me figure out why they changed the name before airing it in North America.

If you’re unfamiliar, the idea is to get a group of amateur bakers together in a big tent in the south of England. Each week has a different theme, like spice week, bread week, vegan week, pastry week, etc. Bakers have to complete three bakes over the span of Saturday and Sunday: a signature bake, the technical challenge, and a showstopper. Every week, someone is awarded star baker and someone is sent home. They truly film it week by week so the bakers can go home to their families and jobs during the week, as well as practice their bakes for the week ahead. So it’s not like other reality TV where a “week” is actually 3 or 4 days.

I had never heard of it until last summer when Luke announced he wanted to watch it. Since the last series was my first time watching it, I’ve only known it to be presented by Noel and Sandi and judged by Paul and Prue. I was immediately hooked after seeing the first episode. I mean, duh, it’s fantastic and it’s about baking! In my opinion, it’s the most genuinely pure show on television. They’re not there to exploit people and create drama for ratings. I mean, doing chocolate week on the hottest day of the summer is enough drama! They’re just there to find the best amateur baker in the UK and bring the whole country together. It seems like everyone watches the show and some people, like my sister-in-law, even do Bake Off pools where they pick bakers at the beginning of the season and have to bring in baked goods to the office if their baker gets sent home. I’ve heard wonderful stories about the show as well, like if the bakers get upset and start crying, the presenters will go around them and start cursing or naming brands so they can’t use the footage on the show. And it just warms my heart when someone finishes earlier and starts to help their literal competition finish in time! That would NEVER happen on an American reality show.

One day, Luke and I were driving home and I randomly had an idea: we should do a Bake Off themed date night and obviously it should be called The Great British Drake Off. Luke was a bit hesitant at first, but even though I teased him for never having baked (he insisted he had, I just hadn’t seen it), he said it’s too much work to do on a work night. That brings us to a couple of Saturdays ago when The Great British Drake Off was finally ready to commence.

THE CHALLENGE

It’s Treacle week at the Drake household and each baker will need to prepare a signature bake with treacle. Other flavours should not overpower the treacle, but instead highlight the richness and depth of its flavour. Bakers may choose to bake anything they wish*.

*This was a mistake. You’ll see why. We should have both had to bake the same type of dessert, probably a cake. Going forward, we’ll definitely fix that.

THE BAKERS

Luke is a professional construction site manager who has dabbled in baking. He insisted he has baked every type of dessert you can think of and most people say he’s good at anything he does. Luke can eat a whole batch of chocolate chip cookie dough in one sitting, but he’ll probably regret it later. His favourite thing favourite treat to eat is whatever his wife has just baked. He lives in Birmingham with his wife.

Hannah is an amateur baker who dabbles in construction. She has been baking for as long as she can remember. Hannah once had an order-based bakery from her own kitchen called Bananas that specialised in cupcakes, quick breads, and cookies. She once ate an entire banana cream pie on a dare from her cousin, but insists it was mostly pudding anyway. Her favourite thing to bake and eat is chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes. She lives in Birmingham with her husband.

LUKE’S BAKE

Sticky Jamaican Ginger Cake from Thyme & Envy

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g plain flour

  • 3.5 tsp ground ginger

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice

  • 80g stem ginger, chopped

  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • 125ml full fat milk

  • 85g black treacle

  • 85g golden syrup

  • 85g dark muscavado sugar

  • 85g salted butter

  • pinch salt

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 3 tbsp syrup from stem ginger jar

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Sift the flour and spices into a bowl. Add the stem ginger and toss to coat (to stop the pieces sinking to the bottom when you bake).

Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the milk in a separate bowl.

Heat the treacle, golden syrup, sugar, salt and butter over a low heat, stirring regularly, until melted.

Add this to the flour and beat vigorously until smooth. Beat in the egg and then whisk in the milk until you have a smooth batter.

Pour into a greased and lined 2lb (900g) loaf tin and bake for 1 hr - covering with foil for the last 30 minutes to prevent over browning.

Remove from the oven and brush with the ginger syrup to glaze.

Leave in the tin for 24hrs for the flavours to develop (optional).

HANNAH’S BAKE

Seriously Soft Molasses Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 and 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)

  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) unsulphured or dark molasses

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup (67g) granulated or coarse sugar, for rolling

DIRECTIONS

Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt together until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on high speed until creamy and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses and beat until combined. Then add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

On low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be slightly sticky. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour and up to 2-3 days.

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.

Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator. If the cookie dough chilled longer than 2 hours, let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. The cookies may not spread in the oven if the dough is that cold. Roll cookie dough, 1 Tablespoon each, into balls. Roll each in granulated sugar and arrange 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until edges appear set and tops are cracking.

Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 1 week.

THE JUDGES

We invited our friends Adam and Esther to come over to judge our bakes. They are professional wedding guests, attending more weddings in 2018 alone than you have in your whole life! In between weddings, they are both teachers. They are proud parents to a beautiful cat named Bueno, who was named after chocolate rather than the Spanish word for “good”, even though the chocolate bar was named after the Spanish word for “good”. They prefer cookies over cakes.

THE WINNER

After a short deliberation via text message, Hannah was declared the winner because, while both bakes were delicious and treacle-licious, the judges both prefer cookies over cakes.

Again, going forward we’ll always make the same type of bake instead of using any recipe that incorporates the chosen ingredient.

NEXT ON THE GREAT BRITISH DRAKE OFF

We decided we would do it quarterly since it was a bit of an undertaking. Each quarter, we’ll choose a specific—probably seasonal—ingredient to incorporate into our bakes each time. We probably should have done pumpkin (duh) this time, but we’re rationing our remaining tins while contemplating whether or not to just buy an over-priced set of three off Amazon. (Or at least I am, Luke says no.) Treacle could have been a good January bake, so we need some ideas! I really want to do lavender for our April bake!

5 Fun Ideas for First Anniversary Gifts

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

The question Luke and I get asked most about our whole marriage separate from wedding thing is what day we'll celebrate as our anniversary. We talked it over and decided that 16 September is our anniversary. Ten days ago, we were married for one year and we wanted to celebrate that! We'll probably acknowledge 16 May, at least for a while, but maybe with a smaller tradition, like dancing to our first dance song, just the two of us and our record player in the living room.

So now that we know when our anniversary is, it's a matter of celebrating it! In our wildest dreams, we would love to take a trip every year--big or small--to mark our anniversary. This year, we're in Italy for our belated honeymoon, and last year after our marriage, we drove to Wales for a quick weekend getaway, a minimoon. I have an idea for next year, but it might not happen for another few years. Either way, we're off to a decent start on that idea.

It's also nice to mark the occasion with a gift and I'm sure it would be so lovely to look back in a few decades and see what we gave to each other to mark another year of marriage. When it comes to anniversary gifts, I fancy myself quite the traditionalist. Did you know that almost every year of marriage has a traditional gift associated with it and it slightly differs between the US and the UK?

I'm going off the US list, which makes this year our paper anniversary. But what do you even get someone for a paper anniversary? How do you top when Jack got Rosario all those paper towels on Will & Grace? Here are a few ideas that think outside the box:

DATE NIGHT CARDS

Create a set of 12 date night cards to give to your spouse. You can do it one of two ways and either come up with set dates specific to each month, built around the seasons and holidays (like a backyard camp out in July or apple picking in September) or come up with twelve more generic dates and allow your spouse to pick which date they want to go on that month. It's the gift that keeps on giving all year! And if you're not very good at planning ahead, you can literally give your spouse the gift all year and make a new date card each month to give them one month at a time.

A GALLERY WALL

Around our house, we love gallery walls, whether it's graphics I've made, our wedding photos, or photos from our trips together. Maybe, like us, you'll stick to a theme and print out photos from a specific trip or maybe all of your travels, maybe wedding photos or other professional photos, or maybe go more casual and choose a handful of your favourite selfies together. I'm all about symmetry, so for our gallery walls, I've chosen the same frames and had the photos printed the same size, but do whatever is more your style, if you'd rather have a variety of frames and sizes. Either wrap all the photos individually to give your spouse a few gifts to open, or hang them all while your spouse is out to surprise them with new home decor when they're home.

A BESPOKE PRINT

To continue the thread of home decor, maybe there's something special you'd like to have printed for your home. Maybe it's something from your wedding--a reading, a verse, or maybe even your vows (bonus points for both being handwritten!). Maybe it's a special quote or an expert from a book you both love. Find something that captures the essence of you as a couple or commemorates your wedding day from a year ago. If you want something created for you, I can do that! To go a slightly different route, you could also have a watercolour commissioned of a special place, where you met, where you got engaged, where you got married, your first house, etc. (I can't do that for you though.)

TRAVEL TICKETS

Remember when you used to get airline tickets printed out instead of downloading them on your phone? Those were the days, right? If you want to go big and definitely don't want to go home, book a surprise trip for the two of you. Whether you'd be driving, flying, or riding the rails, in this age of e-tickets, you could definitely make your own to give to your spouse and tell them when and where you're off to.

A MAP (OF THE NIGHT SKY)

Two of our friends have a cool thing in their house that I've always loved. They're from two different states and now live in the UK, so they have the two states plus the UK in a frame together, I believe with hearts marking where they're from and where they live now. It says "him", "her", "us". If Luke and I ever lived somewhere other than the UK or Colorado, I'd totally be down to make that, even if Colorado is just a rectangle. Or maybe a heart that is half where he's from and half where she's from. Or if there's somewhere else that's special to you, you can get an antique or illustrated map of that place instead. For our wedding, my sister and brother-in-law gave us a map of the stars above Birmingham the night we got married and I love that. At The Night Sky, you enter the date and location and they'll map the stars for you. You can even add a note to be included on the poster. Since we already have one for our marriage, I would love to add the stars from when any future children are born.

What did you and your spouse give each other for your first anniversary? Did you go the traditional route or do something completely different?

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Header Photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.