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The 10 Best (Not Scary) Autumn Films

LifeHannah Drake3 Comments

I have never in my life enjoyed scary films. It stresses me out too much. I think I've only seen The Shining and Ghost Ship. Well, does Cabin in the Woods count? I actually enjoyed that film, but it was still stressful for me. I've managed to avoid all others for the last 27 years. Still, I love films and I love watching certain films at certain times of the year and autumn is no exception. Today, I'm sharing--in my opinion--the ten best not scary autumn. A few are Halloweenish, a few just have stunning fall foliage and of course I included the best football film of all time. (Don't @ me.)

Last year, we watched a few on the list, but this year I'm determined to literally press pause on whatever show we're bingeing to have some cosy nights having movie marathons instead. You gotta have some hearty soups or seasonal treats. Light some autumn-scented candles. And definitely pray for rain. If you're in the mood for a delicious autumnal cocktail, stick around to the very end.

BEWITCHED

Okay, so it's the complete opposite of scary and it actually came out in June of 2005, but it's about a witch so it counts. The film isn't quite a reboot of the show, but actually a film about the reboot of the show and an actor who unknowingly casts an actual witch for the starring role. It's quirky and silly, but it has Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, and sometimes a quirky, silly Halloween is all you need.

My favourite IMDb fact: Broomsticks were sent out to movie theatres as promotional items for the film.

DEAD POET'S SOCIETY

Who hasn't seen this film about an all boys boarding school set against the backdrop of a Vermont autumn? It's one of Robin William's best roles, but it's also crazy to think that the late 80's film also starred two of the biggest stars today: Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles. It's been years since I've seen the film and actually, I think we watched it in health class in high school when we were learning about mental health. It will make you feel all the feels.

My favourite IMDb fact: When the boys show Professor Keating his old senior yearbook picture, it is, in reality, Robin Williams's high school senior picture when he was a student at Redwood High School in Larkspur, California, north of San Francisco.

GHOSTBUSTERS

It's a supernatural classic, isn't it? It has easily stood the test of time. It's still referenced in other movies and TV shows and everyday conversation. How many people still dress up like the Ghostbusters for Halloween or shout "Ghostbusters!" when someone says something even remotely along the lines of "Who ya gonna call?" While I did enjoy Ghostbusters 2 and the 2016 reboot with women starring, nothing beats the original. 

My favourite IMDb fact: In the DVD commentary, Ivan Reitman says he received a call from William Atherton complaining that the movie ruined his life. The character of Walter Peck was so hated that people would talk to Atherton as if they were giving the character Peck a piece of their mind. Apparently more than once, physical fights had been started with Atherton in bars.

HOCUS POCUS

It's a cult classic starring Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker, but I actually just watched it for the first time last year! Needless to say, I loved it! It's a great Halloween movie and isn't at all scary. Like most films from the 90's, it's aged and you can see that, but it just adds to its charm, in my opinion.

My favourite IMDb fact: Sarah Jessica Parker has said that she thoroughly enjoyed being in the flying harness, so much so that she would stash a copy of the New York Times on her person and would read in the air between takes.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA

Even though I do still enjoy kids' films, I always brushed the Hotel Transylvania films under the rug. That is, until my sister highly recommended them ahead of the third film's release. We decided, since it was a slow month at the cinema, to give it a shot, but we wanted to watch the first two to catch up with the story first. Luke and I agreed that Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation is the best yet because they keep building on the jokes, but I do think the first film is best suited for Halloween. Either way, give it a shot and I definitely recommend a marathon of the trilogy.

My favourite IMDb fact: Dracula, The Invisible man, The Mummy, Frankenstein and The Werewolf are influenced by the monster universe set between 1930-1940 and are brought together in this film.

PRACTICAL MAGIC

Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman play sisters who also happen to be witches looking to break a curse to find love. Strangely enough, I have a very vivid memory of the first time I watched this film. I still like it today, but I think it also has a bit of a nostalgia factor for me. 

My favourite IMDb fact: According to Sandra Bullock in the commentary, in the scene where Gillian and Sally get drunk with their aunts and they sling insults, the actresses actually got drunk. They were drinking some very bad tequila that Nicole Kidman brought.

REMEMBER THE TITANS

My favourite football movie of all time! I love Denzel Washington as Coach Herman Boone. At one point in my life, I knew most of the lines and to this day it's still one of my favourite soundtracks. Nothing says autumn quite like football and even though it's a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, it's still a fun, feel-good movie.

My favourite IMDb fact: The film is made more accessible to non-fans of football by careful music editing. Whenever the Titans complete a key play, or turn the game in their favour, the music changes to upbeat rock.

STEPMOM

Starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon, this movie is set in New York in the autumn. Susan Sarandon has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is coming to terms with Julia Roberts being the stepmom to her children. It's emotional, to be sure, but is there anything more beautiful than New England when the leaves are changing colours?

My favourite IMDb fact: In the film, the characters played by Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon are often at odds with each other. In reality, the two are close friends, and chose this project specifically to work on together.

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY

It's a classic rom-com and always will be, even if it is kind of hard to wrap your head around Billy Crystal as a romantic lead. Not only does it have one of the most iconic scenes (with one of the most quotable movie lines) in cinema history, but it also features beautiful shots of New York in the fall. 

My favourite IMDb fact: The orgasm scene was filmed at Katz's Deli, an actual restaurant on New York's E. Houston Street. The table at which the scene was filmed now has a plaque on it that reads, "Where Harry met Sally...hope you have what she had!"

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

One night when I was younger, my mom and sister wanted to watch this movie and I absolutely flipped out. I was so sure they were trying to trick me into watching a horror movie, despite their assurances that it was actually a comedic masterpiece. Because of that, I got it on DVD for Christmas one year as a joke. It's been one of my favourite comedies ever since! 

My favourite IMDb fact: In 1974 rock band Aerosmith took a break from a long night of recording to see this film. Steven Tyler wrote the band's hit "Walk This Way" the morning after seeing the movie, inspired by Marty Feldman's first scene, the "walk this way . . . this way" scene. 


SPIKED SPARKLING CIDER

If you’ve been hanging around here since last fall, you know my favourite go-to drink this time of year is a spiked sparkling cider. It’s simple to make and so easy to enjoy:

  • 1 oz spiced rum or 1 oz whiskey (room temperature)

  • 3 oz apple cider (warmed)

  • 3 oz ginger beer (room temperature)

Stir ingredients together in the glass of your choice. (I usually use copper mugs.) Serve warm.

PIN FOR LATER!

What are some of your favorite films to watch in the autumn or for Halloween?

The Expat Diaries, Vol. 12

LifeHannah Drake2 Comments

I'm baaaaaaack!

I mean, I guess I've been here the whole time, but The Expat Diaries are back.

I haven't really checked in since July, but I decided in my second year abroad, I would only do another expat post ever other month since adjusting to life abroad has plateaued significantly. 

Since my last post, we went back to Colorado to visit. It wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be (you can read about it in You Can't Go Home Again), but neither has the time since we got back. I mentioned in that post that while we were there, I told Luke I wanted to stay in Colorado, or at least move back as soon as possible. But I also mentioned that I felt like I was home when we got back to our house in Birmingham.

In the last two (ish) months, the trip back to Colorado has felt just like that: a trip. A holiday that came and went and now we're two months removed. Of course it's different than other holidays because it's going to visit where I'm from and it's going to visit my friends and family. But I haven't been pining for Colorado like I feared I might be. Birmingham continues to feel like home and I continue to be fully invested in our lives here.

So that's good! It's probably always going to be a roller coaster of emotions, though. I've noticed in the last few years, that as things approach, I get more antsy about them. For example, when it was close to a visit with Luke while we were long distance, I would for some reason become more irritable and on edge, I'm now realising out of anxiety over spending such limited time with him and being out of our routine. (Our visits were always fantastic, but I guess that's what anxiety does.) Likewise, I wouldn't be surprised if I got more homesick and more grumpy about England leading up to our trip over Christmas. They say admitting is the first step, so maybe if I anticipate it, I can be in more control over my emotions.

Regardless of all of that, I'm still going to be homesick every football season. I missed going to CU games with my dad and sisters last year and already this year is no different. It's tricky trying to watch any football games here thanks to the time change (though we did stay up to watch the CU-Nebraska game on Saturday night), which made my interest in fantasy football plummet last season. Still, it's my second year as commissioner of my league with a few friends from Colorado, two of my sisters, Luke, and his friend Luke. Here's hoping A Team Has No Name does better than last season. (It's all Game of Thrones themed.)

Other than that, life abroad has been more or less status quo. We're trying to work out a timeline for buying a house in 2019, trying to figure out how many months in it will be. To be honest with you, I think it's slightly more for excitement over getting a puppy and a kitten than having our own house. Can you blame us?!

Well, I did recently have a new expat experience. I got a letter from the NHS about needing to go in to my doctor's office for a pap, so I booked the appointment for a few weeks ago. It was  a little different than what I've experienced at my doctor's in the States which was slightly jarring since it's not like those are the most fun doctor's appointments. Here, it was a super quick appointment (I think I've mentioned how small a window they book their appointments in), there were no stirrups on the exam table, and the speculum was plastic instead of metal. I wish I had realised it could be a little different beforehand so I could have asked for a head's up from a girlfriend or something. 

Oh also, in less TMI news, I missed a train for the first time in Europe. I was literally 2 minutes late to the station (thanks Uber) and because of the kind of ticket I had, I had to buy another for £30 that would leave a half hour later. It actually meant missing my original doctor's appointment, but when I called within the hour, they just rescheduled me. If I remember correctly, at my doctor's office in the States you had to pay a cancellation fee if it was within an hour? I'm not sure.

Summer 2018 Highlights

LifeHannah DrakeComment

I'll always remember summer 2018 as being hot AF. My first summer in England, it was hot for about two weeks and then cooled down a bit and rained a lot more, closer to what you would imagine for the British summertime. Regardless of the heat and my incessant complaining about it, we managed to have a pretty great summer. And yes, as of today, I'm officially declaring summer 2018 over. Autumn starts tomorrow!* 

Today, I wanted to share a few highlights from the last three months that never managed to make it onto my blog, and in some cases even my Instagram. Plus I'm sneaking in a few photos from May from my hen do (bachelorette party).

JUNE

We celebrated one year of me living abroad by going out for drinks and tapas. It was one of our best date nights yet!

We spent a lot of evenings in our back garden, roasting mallows, playing games, eating dinner al fresco. It was lovely.

My younger sister came to visit towards the end of the month. We spent time around Birmingham, but then we took her to Oxford, Blenheim Palace, the Cotswolds, and Cotswolds Lavender. I still haven't blogged about Blenheim Palace. But I will!

JULY

We kicked off July with a BBQ in our back garden and I made my annual American Flag cake for an early Fourth of July celebration.

On the 5th, we flew to Colorado, my first time back since moving. Our time in Colorado was busy and so much fun. I got to catch up with friends and family and eat all my favourite foods. My sister cut my hair at her salon and it was such a joy to see her in her element. I went back to Pure Barre for a class, we did a bit of exploring in Colorado, and I met an Instagram friend, now real life friend!

We were back to celebrate my younger brother's wedding and we had a great time! (Photos by Sarah Hill Photography, dress via Rent the Runway.)

The next morning, we got up to road trip to Wyoming and Idaho, hitting a few bucket list items for me like visiting Jackson Hole, seeing the Grand Tetons, and glamping!

Back in the UK, we received the rest of our wedding registry, including what we had purchased using gift cards. It was so exciting to finally have everything after picking it out last spring!

I won the Harry Potter Friday Forty, which meant I could purchase two tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London for the following week. We drove down to London for the day to see both parts and had a great time! It was positively magical.

AUGUST

The first weekend in August, we drove up to Scotland for a bit of a Drake family reunion. We stayed at an incredible stately home and even though we didn't have much time there, we had a lovely time exploring the nearby island of Gigha, spending time with Luke's family, and just relaxing.

When we got back, it was time to celebrate my 28th birthday. For lunch, we had what we affectionately call Chick-Faux-Le, which is chicken strips and chips (fries) from a fried chicken place near us called Rooster House with the Chick-Fil-A sauce we've imported from the States. That evening, Luke surprised me with a chocolate cake with candles, a bouquet of my two favourite flowers, tickets to the Harry Potter studio tour (we're going in December), and dinner out to a sushi place in town where we celebrated his 28th birthday in December. We ended the night eating chocolate cake in bed while watching Parks & Rec because that's how you do it when you're 28.

I went to London to meet up with my former boss Shalisa who was in town for business. We had breakfast at Farm Girl Cafe in Notting Hill and caught up with all the exciting things going on for both of us. Later that morning, I went to Biscuiteers in Notting Hill for cream tea with another Instagram friend turned real life friend, Gennean. It was a great morning, even though it was the first time I've ever missed a train!

We went to our friends wedding near Liverpool. It was so much fun and it was my first British wedding! I wore a hat! The groom wore a morning suit! It was at a gorgeous manor house! It was such a lovely day and we were so happy to be there to celebrate with Mark and Chantal.

Last weekend was a three day weekend, with Monday being the Summer Bank Holiday. While we had a lazy weekend, we took advantage of having Monday off and drove down to Blenheim Palace outside Oxford to spend the afternoon. I'm working on a post soon recapping that visit and when we went with Sam in June.

*I know autumn doesn't officially start for another few weeks.

Header photo by Sarah Hill Photography.