Back to School with Starbucks Fall Blend

I’d say we’ve enjoyed some beautiful Fall weather this last week… except that it’s technically still Summer! But I guess that’s what happens when you transplant yourself an extra 300 miles further north. Life has been more than hectic these last few months – from the normal tensions close quarters bring while we stayed with family during our search for a house, to all the craziness and paperwork that goes along with finally (finally!) closing on a place – I’m a little surprised we (and all our stuff) survived. But here we are – a month and a half into our new house, almost unpacked and happy.

However, winter is coming and we have now entered the world of no public transportation. A place where my Grandmother’s old tease that she walked to school in 8 feet of snow, uphill both ways, might be closer to reality. Prior to moving to Northern Vermont, I always had easy access to light rail, subway, commuter train or bus service. Now? I’m a newly re-licensed (but out of practice) driver. So, although my oldest child has reached preschool age and there are many really wonderful preschools within a 20-30 minute radius from our semi-rural home, I’ve decided not to enroll her this year, partially because I haven’t had any practice driving in winter conditions. Home school is probably better than possible death. But, of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t participate in the Back to School spirit!

When I was younger, going back to school always meant shopping (haha, a shopaholic is born) – I loved picking out my new art supplies, folders (Lisa Frank, anyone?), notebooks, a pencil case, a backpack and always a special first day of school outfit. So although we’re overflowing with arts and craft paraphernalia, I made sure to let O pick out a brand new notebook in her favorite color.

But until now I didn’t realize I no longer had a Back-to-School/ beginning of the Fall tradition except a vicarious one. Happily, Starbucks has come to my rescue once again with a limited edition Fall Blend coffee. Wait, a coffee I can only get when the mornings turn crisp and only right before the leaves begin to change color? What a wonderful cue. And unlike the spiced apple ciders and pumpkin lattes I look forward to every year but can only drink sparingly, the medium roast Fall Blend is a cup for every day (until the Holiday and Christmas blends come out, of course ;).

My standard excuse for my coffee habit is that it wakes me up and helps me deal with my little noisemakers who are inevitably bouncing around way earlier than they should be. But these days are not going to be around forever – this blog post made me think about the fact that my little girl is going to be out of the house for half the day almost every day next year when she starts Kindergarten. So even though this may not be a chalkboard sign milestone year, anything that enhances my memory and enjoyment of these precious once-in-a-lifetime moments with my children, even if it’s just a random Tuesday in September, well, that’s excuse enough for me.

STBKS Fall blend

I was lucky enough to be sent product to sample from Starbucks. However, the comments and opinions expressed in this post are completely my own. I was not paid for this blog post.

Ainar – Make This Middle Eastern Tea to Celebrate Your New Baby

I found this info and recipe while looking through the Penzeys Spices catalog. I’m copying it here directly – never heard of this and I love it!!

Sasha writes, “Introducing Ainar, the tea brewed especially for baby mamas and the guests who stop in to dote on their pretty newborns. In case you didn’t know, mamas need lots of things after having a baby: rest, love, good, warm food. And this tea. The cool thing about Ainar is the treat at the bottom of the cup. Nuts. After cooking a bunch of warming, fragrant spices like cinnamon, caraway, anise and nutmeg in a large pot of water, the hot tea is splashed over assorted nuts and as much sugar as you can stand. Walnuts, almonds and pine nuts are the most common. This is a Middle Eastern tea to celebrate the birth of a new baby. The spices are believed to help the mother heal as well as bring good luck to the new family.”

  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tb anise seed
  • pinch ground nutmeg (1/4 tsp or so)
  • 6 cups water
  • Garnish (to taste)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup total nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, slivered almonds)
  • 1/4 – 1 cup sugar

In a saucepan, add the spices to the water (use a tea ball or cheesecloth if desired) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. You can also simmer longer for stronger flavor. Pour through a spaghetti strainer if you did not use a tea ball. Serve in teacups over mixed nuts and add sugar to taste.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 15-30 minutes

Serves 4-6

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