JOY42

The Best of Autumn 2018

LifeHannah DrakeComment

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is literally just around the corner. Thanksgiving has come and gone. Gone with it are the pumpkins and cider and crunchy leaves. Autumn is my favourite time of year, but there is just something so magical about Christmas, so I can’t say I’m mad about the change at all. Bring on the eggnog and twinkling lights and the smell of evergreen!

But first, let’s recap autumn, starting with how I did on my 2018 Autumn Bucket List:

VISIT AN APPLE ORCHARD

WE DID IT! I’ve been wanting to go apple picking for y e a r s and I finally made it to an orchard during apple picking season (which, by the way, is September). Luke and I drove down to Worcester one afternoon in September and picked pounds of apple and half a dozen pears. It was the perfect fall day—overcast and cooler, but not too cold to need a jacket—and we beat the downpour. It was such a lovely afternoon strolling through the rows of trees with no one else in sight. I can’t wait to do it again next year!

ENJOY SPICED APPLE CIDER

Of course with all those apples, a batch of apple cider was in order! I had already made one batch from store-bought apples, but with so many from the orchard, I made a bigger batch to share with friends too. I enjoyed drinking cider with ginger beer (and maybe with a splash of Captain Morgan or Jameson for an occasion) all autumn long. But the best part was when we made apple cider donuts one morning! In the end, we made three batches of apple cider in three months.

BUY A COSY NEW JUMPER

Ever since I did my Closet Edit earlier this year, I’ve tried my hardest to buy less and re-wear more. It’s my dream to have a capsule wardrobe one day and I’m still working toward that, but it’s definitely a process. I’ve been trying to stick to a colour scheme, introducing a few new complementary tones in the summer, and that’s really made a difference in my shopping. But still, I like to buy a new jumper every autumn and this year is no different. Old Navy used to be my go-to for jumpers and cardigans, but we don’t have that here in the UK (even though we have Gap). Since moving to the UK, I’ve preferred to shop mostly at H&M, and especially when it comes time for a new jumper. H&M, I’ve found, is better when it comes to textured jumpers and chunky knits. If you’re in the UK or New England (MA, CT, VT, NH, ME, RI) though, Fatface is also a favourite. This year, I was dead set on picking up a navy cable knit sweater, something I could transition between work and real life and I found the perfect one at H&M. I also picked up the softest, cosiest beige jumper you’ve ever seen! That jumper paired with my mustard scarf from Fatface last year (still available in rose), is easily the cosiest thing I can imagine.

SHARE MY FALL BAKING WITH NEIGHBOURS AND LOVED ONES

In September, I was rationing my tinned pumpkin, but I seriously can’t tell you how many dang apples we had! I whipped up a couple apple crisps and took one down to our friends while they were working. I also invited my friend Taylor over for pumpkin pancakes and to help make apple cider donuts and sent her home with about half the donuts.

In October, Luke and I had The Great British Drake Off and invited our friends Adam and Esther over to be the judges. It was treacle week (or molasses for us Americans), and Luke made a ginger cake while I made molasses cookies. We learned for next time to make the same type of treat since I won mostly because our judges prefer cookies over cakes. Later that month, I made a chocolate-flavoured pumpkin-shaped cake when some friends came ‘round for dinner. I took the leftovers into work and my coworkers went absolutely crazy for it! I also made an old tried and true recipe for Caramel Apple Cookies and took them over to our friends’ house one evening. I forgot just how amazing these cookies are!

CARVE PUMPKINS

We did it! The Sunday before Halloween, we spent the afternoon carving pumpkins with a Harry Potter theme. I posted both of our pumpkins on my Instagram Stories so my followers could vote for a winner. Luke’s pumpkin—the Patronus—won handidly! It was barely a competition, but to be honest, I can’t believe I got any votes compared to his because his is a true work of art!

HAVE A HALLOWEEN MOVIE MARATHON

Okay, to be clear, when I say “Halloween” movie, I mean the The 10 Best (Not Scary) Autumn Films, plus Coco, which is probably my favourite Pixar movie and I completely forgot that it’s also the perfect film for The Day of the Dead. Don’t get any ideas about Michael Myers over here! (I’m seriously so far out of the horror film loop that I first typed Michael Moore because I knew he shared a name with a famous person, but I couldn’t remember which Michael M.) I’m also a total sucker for Hallmark movies, whether they’re Fall Harvest or Countdown to Christmas. This year, I made it my goal to watch all of the Fall Harvest movies that have come out so far, including this year, which totalled 20! I watched them all, except for the Good Witch films. (Do you have to have seen the show to follow the movies?!)

Luke and I had a few at-home date nights where we’d just cozy up and watch a couple of movies rather than leave that house. Honestly, those are some of my favourite nights. I love transforming our living room floor into the ultimate movie lounge with just the spare room mattress and a pile of blankets and pillows.

On Halloween, I got locked out of our house for a while, so Luke beat me home and surprised me with our movie night set up. We watched Practical Magic and ate probably the best chili Luke has ever made. It wasn’t exactly a marathon that night though, since we wanted to watch the Bake Off finale.

BAKE A PIE

This year for Thanksgiving, I made the same pumpkin cheesecake I made last year, but instead of making a caramel apple pie, I tried a new recipe: a chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly go as planned. The filling basically swallowed the crust since the recipe didn’t call for the crust to be pre-baked before adding the filling. It also took nearly twice as long to bake, but at least I had some leftover crust that I was able to cut into the little leaves to make it look a bit better. And like it had crust!

HOST THANKSGIVING AND TRY ONE NEW RECIPE

We hosted Thanksgiving for some friends on Saturday (since no one had Thursday off work). It was such a blast and absolutely worth the work that went into making dinner. Luke cooked a whole turkey this year (instead of just a breast like we did last year) and it turned out perfectly. We had two Thanksgiving inspired cocktails (a cranberry Moscow Mule and an apple cinnamon gin & tonic). And with the help of my friend Taylor, we cooked seven sides (plus cranberry jelly) and two desserts! I used the same recipes for all of the sides as I did last year, but added spinach and artichoke macaroni and cheese and roasted parsnips and carrots. So in total, I made three new-to-Thanksgiving recipes, but I had made the mac and cheese before. Either way you slice it, I crushed this one!


OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Of course one of the highlights of our year was our trip to Italy, but while we were there, we were living in breathable linen, sipping Aperol Spritz or limoncello, basking in the sunshine and swimming off the Amalfi Coast. It’s not exactly #fallvibes, is it?

We visited a pumpkin patch in October to pick up some pumpkins for our front porch and to carve ahead of Halloween. It was Luke’s first time at a pumpkin patch, but I also think last year was the first year he even bought a pumpkin! One of the things I miss about my hometown is the amazing farm just outside of the city that has a huge pumpkin patch and a sprawling corn maze. They have a separate corn maze, a petting zoo, games and activities for kids, a small farmer’s market, and a bunch of other stuff. I would love to find something like that here!

So of course with all of those pumpkins, we had to decorate the front porch. To be honest with you, they didn’t stay out because last year we had our pumpkins stolen the day before our Thanksgiving dinner. It was so annoying because we were going to throw them out after everyone came by!

I spent one afternoon in London wandering around the city with no real plan except to look at the beautiful seasonal displays on the little shops in my favourite neighbourhoods. Day trips to the Big Smoke are my favourite. London in general is my favourite! No other city in the world has the kerbside appeal that London does. No matter what time of year it is, you’re sure to find shops and bakeries with the most beautiful facades. I can’t wait to go back for all the Christmas displays!


BINGO UPDATE

When I announced my 2018 Autumn Bucket List in September, I also announced a game of bingo for all us basics out there. I periodically posted updates to my Instagram Stories and loved seeing other boards from people playing along too. I decided to just go based on what I did, rather than what the people I follow on Instagram did, and I got sooo close to blacking out my board, but in the end, it was my lack of excitement for Halloween and hatred of coffee that did me in.