Cheers to Fall.
Cheers to Fall!
Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional warm weather, the smell of sunblock, country music, tan lines, swimming pools, and backyard BBQ’s as much as the next girl! But to be honest, once August comes around I create an internal countdown for the anticipation of any month ending in “-ber”.
Hot days are a rarity here in the Bay Area, even in Summer. And I’ve grown up quite comfortable in finding the beauty inside on cold days. So naturally, I prefer cold weather. Why? Because unlike not being able to escape the heat, I love getting warm and cozy when it’s chilly out: fuzzy socks, tasty soup, thick sweaters, scarves, leg warmers, boots (Uggs), beanies, a loved one’s snuggle, throw blankets for days, and if I’m lucky enough, a toasty fire crackling in the corner! To top it all off, a hot drink in hand does the soul a very, very good thing.
Why does this all excite me so much?! Well, the Fall season in general, or nature’s grand finale of the year, calls for warmth, reflection, gratefulness, and gathering. All very comforting and life-giving. Plus, pumpkin spice and everything nice! Like this here photo by @britandco!
Not to mention, Fall is basically the cozy, colorful and magnificent introduction to Christmas! Okay, okay, I won’t skip straight to Christmas as I usually tend to…just pointing it out!
Anytime I can find an excuse to stay in, jump into “comfy-cozies”, as Derek and I call them, light candles and a fire, and gather with friends and family, is a reason worth embracing.
Derek and I just returned from a trip to Portland to visit one of my best friends, Kathleen and her hubby Nick. Kathleen’s just like me when it comes to this very special time of year, so I usually try to plan my trips to visit during the Fall in hopes to find a crisp chill in the air with the scent of chimney smoke all around, plenty of rain, orange and red leaves abounding, with a questionable amount of time spent lounging around in comfy-cozies.
Well, we spent majority of our time doing just that.
Our last night in particular, we decided to order-in, light all the wicks and logs in sight, bake some pumpkin spice cookies, which were more like pumpkin spice-muffin-biscuits or “miskins” as we called them (not sure what we missed but either way they were yummy), watched The Corpse Bride and The Order of the Pheonix (because Tim Burton & Harry Potter equal Fall) and mulled some wine. Yum.
Have you ever experienced mulled wine? Well, I’m here to say you should. Not only does it warm your insides, but it’s super tasty: like a piping hot, spiced, citrusy, holiday sangria! And that’s not all! It’s ridiculously easy to make and will have your house smelling absolutely delectable! #WinWin.
Hopefully I’ve done some major convincing, and hey, look! A ready-made shopping list with instructions and pictures below!
To Buy List:
2 Large Cinnamon Sticks
4 Whole Cloves
1/4 tsp. Star Anise Extract, or 3 Star Anise (I used the extract only because the two grocery stores I went to didn't carry whole star anise, but fresh is always best!)
1/4 cup of Honey, optional (I didn't use honey because it's pretty sweet as is, but totally up to you.)
4 cups of the Apple Cider of your choice
1 (750ml) bottle of Red Wine, preferably Cabernet Sauvignon
Mini Pumpkins, your choice of quantity and color...for ambiance, duh!
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Pour 4 cups of apple cider into a large saucepan. Follow by adding entire bottle of red wine. Add the juice of one whole orange, a pinch of zest from the second orange as well as a few orange slices. Then add the cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, and honey (optional). Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.
While the mixture is simmering, use the peel from the third orange and slice it into less than half inch sized slices. Take each slice and twist it like a 70s phone cord, and hold for about 15 seconds. Then take the orange twists and hang them on the edge of each glass for garnish. You can also throw the twists into your drink for a little more of that zesty flavor!
Using a strainer, pour the mixture into a pitcher or measuring cup for an easy flow into serving glasses!
Share with loved ones, cheers, and enjoy!