‘Tis The…

TraderJoesDisplay4

Well I doubt anyone is going to raise a fuss that I’m changing the subject matter this week.  Just a little…

The pumpkin season is still going but then it feels like it’s going…. away… This is happening a lot faster than I remember.   Maybe it’s just me?

Something feels different.  But to you maybe it feels like par for the course or business as usual.  For me, I know what has changed.  A lot of has changed this year for me.  So the sentimentality has grown yet it feels different.  I’m not that young yet I still feel like a kid around this time of year.

I write this as my cat lays on my lap.  As she usually does.  She’s a bit older now too, but is just as cute if not cuter than ever.  We’re a week from Thanksgiving so a lot of this is heightened.  The love and sadness is growing all at once.  Maybe this is how it was always meant to be…

While I love tea, and I will always love tea (and many holiday themed posts are coming the rest of the year), something about fresh apple cider warms my heart too.  There’s no pun here.  As much as I love warm cider, and will be having my fair share in the weeks to come, something about it being cold just does it for me as well.

Trader Joe’s does it for me too.  It always has and each time I walk into one, I just feel good.  I feel like a kid, and it feels like the holidays all year round.  I wonder if that’s what they intended, or is it just me?  I think I just said that.  Maybe it’s all encompassing.

TraderJoesCider

Their Organic Cold Pressed Spiced Fuji Cider containing just three ingredients (organic apple juice, organic cinnamon powder, organic dried clove) is an absolute hit.  I mean that’s it.  I could stop writing now and leave on a high note.

TraderJoesDisplay3

Yet sitting outside at the time I sipped this, it was warm, it still felt autumn like, dare I say spring like.  This was just a few weeks ago.  Now here we are and it’s the first signs of wintry precipitation.  That makes me sad to say.  But it’s symbolic of so many things.  I live in an area where we get four seasons, and that’s a cool thing that not everyone gets to experience.  The great memories we have as children tend to resurface now.  We reconnect with people we don’t always see, don’t see enough, and wish we could see more.

While I was sitting out on this day, I was thinking about things.  When you’re by yourself that can tend to happen.  I was thinking about people, friends, family, animals, and so many other things I love.  Sometimes thoughts can drive you up the wall, but sometimes they can keep you humbled.  I like the latter.

TraderJoesDisplay3

What also keeps me humbled and honest are the treats that Trader Joe’s comes up with.  You’re getting things here you’re not getting anywhere else.  The Spiced Pumpkin Madeline Cookies might still be on a shelf at a store near you.  If you can, get them all!  They’re habit forming for sure.

TraderJoesDrinks

As an added bonus, I also sampled their Green Cold Pressed Juice.  I know this has been a thing for a while, with juice cleanses, and to assist in physical and spiritual healing.  I’m no expert on that.  It had a great taste to it, and I hope that whatever you’re drinking is bringing you joy, no matter what time of year.

TraderJoesDisplay

Maybe that’s for after the holidays when more of us will be wanting to get back into a healthier lifestyle.  I would say that we can enjoy food, drinks, life, friends any time of year without having to worry too much about trying to make up for it in the new year.  This is not meant to be sermon.  I’m just getting sentimental as I tend to do.

TraderJoesDisplay2

We’re not even at Thanksgiving yet but my mind like this post is all over the place.  I hope it brought you some joy, just like the cider has and will hopefully do for you.

More to come and Happy Early Thanksgiving!

Love,

Ideen

 

Giving Thanks…

FreshMarketPumpkinSpiceTeaDisplay&Cookies2

Some people have had their fill   No not me.  It’s early November and I’m still here celebrating all the good from not just pumpkins, but cider encompasses more of the holiday season.  I did just say those magical words.

I love all the colors, the scents, the flavors, and most of all, the images of what this time of year has to offer.  There’s good in all facets of life, in all times of year, and life in general.   But this part of the calendar can or could lead to a million and one emotions.  You know what I’m talking about here.

Even with potential obstacles, challenges, and hopefully the best memories possible rising to the surface, there’s so much to love about this time of year.   That includes a gem of teas from one of my favorite places The Fresh Market.

FreshMarketPumpkinSpiceTea

Their pumpkin spice tea was down to its last few canisters that I only felt it was right to snag one.  So for that this review may be a few weeks too late, but with Thanksgiving being a bit of a ways away, I don’t see the rush to get into the winter teas just yet.  Yet we’re seeing more than hints of all these holiday favorites.   So there may be one or two more fall like posts that need to be dusted off, within all the pending commotion.

There’s a lot to love about this, yet it’s so simple.  In a constantly busy time and world, simple is always welcome.

FreshMarketTea&CookieDisplay

I have so much pumpkin tea stored away, that I drink it all year round.  It may defeat the purpose, but why waste such great tea? Why waste tea anyways?  That’s right…

FreshMarketFallDisplay

When discovering this immaculate fall display, I just had to buy the exquisite pair of pumpkin spice and apple cider cookies from Dewey’s Bakery.

FreshMarketPumpkinSpiceTeaDeweysCookies

At 12 calories a piece (I know right!), you can get carried away in enjoying them.  But that is what this season and life can be all about.  If you’re enjoying these moments, these experiences, and the joys of fall, then there’s no need to feel bad or guilty about any of this.  Indulgence on your own or with loved ones can lead to some of the best memories of all.  That can happen any time of year.

FreshMarketFallDisplay2

Warning, these cookies are habit forming.  Paired with this tea, it’s a winner.  I only wish I got to talking about this much sooner.

FreshMarketPumpkinSpiceTeaDisplay&Cookies

If time and the universe allows I may dust off a couple of more gems from the fall.  Maybe in retrospect.  There’s just so much to choose from, and so many can sadly get lost in the shuffle through no fault of their own.  With all the greatness of fall and the wide away of foods and teas to choose from, I wish I could dedicate more time to all of this.

FreshMarketTea&CookieDisplay2

Happy November, Happy Holiday Season, and I wish you much happiness!

With that being said, more to come…

FreshMarketFallDisplay3

And maybe more from The Fresh Market (locations here)…

Oooo I see cider up there!  Yes free samples are the best!

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

 

An Attitude of Gratitude…

KombuchaDisplay2

The Living in Gratitude Kombucha from GT’s is some of the best you’re ever going to taste.  I’m confident enough in saying that.  I wanted to get this recap in before supplies ran out.  And there’s a small chance that in some places (find a store) it may already be out.  That’s not based on any expert analysis, other than we you see and taste something this amazing, the term limited edition is an understatement.

GTsKombuchaLivingInGratitude

Perhaps it’s the color that evokes feelings of fall and change.  Perhaps it’s the flavors of apple, turmeric, carrot, and that oh so yummy cider.  But like I tend to say, perhaps it’s something much bigger.  This was created with everyone in mind…

Kombucha (more about GT’s here) is not for sipping, well it can be, but it’s intent like most things is to be savored, and enjoyed in small to moderate doses.  That sounds about right.

But something about the Living in Gratitude made me want it all in one sitting, or in one setting if you will.  It’s a lot lighter, at least to me, and has that comforting feeling just as the weather starts to turn cool and crisp.  What a perfect complement to the other.

Additionally, when you see words and images of gratitude, appreciation, love, and kindness, you’re going to be drawn to it, like a magnet.  Sometimes we don’t realize it’s happening, and there are no words for it.  But those thoughts and feelings, even if they come an go, bring you joy, bring you harmony, and bring you closer to… (fill in the blank).

I had no doubts that this would be incredible.   I had a sense it would be out of this world, or even out of this universe.  Sometimes you just know.    I sensed it right when I discovered it at a familiar place, Trader Joe’s.   Oh how I love Trader Joe’s and I love GT’s.

A drink like is meant to be enjoyed however you want it, and however you prefer. For me,  I would rather have it on its own.   Yet Trader Joe’s is loaded with so many fall offerings, familiar and new, that I had to pick up an old staple, Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s.

Kombucha&Cookies

The pairing is for entertainment purposes only, but a food and drink pairing is whatever you want it to be, and whatever makes you happy.  I know there are more unlikely duos than this, and that can be so much fun.

GtsKombuchaInfo

But this Kombucha (even more love here), you’ve got to be kidding me.  Every flavor and every ingredient (which isn’t many, precisely, and they all have value) come together to form something so symbolic, something to genuine, and something so loving.

I should have grabbed more than one.  And hopefully there’s more waiting for me, and waiting for you too.

A drink like this brings upon feelings of all that’s good in the world, and as the days get shorter and the weather goes the way it’s going, we always can use more love.  No matter the season, no matter the occasion, and no matter your situation, there can never be enough love, never enough gratitude, and never enough kindness.

KombuchaDisplay

This was comforting and a blessing on so many levels, that words may not be enough.  All I can do is sing its praises and tell you how this made me feel.  It made me feel…

…grateful…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Feeling Grateful – Part III

MatchaTimeChickenCurry&Tea

That doesn’t mean I’ve only been grateful for three visits on this journey.  That would defeat the purpose of what’s happening here.  Matcha Time Cafe is one of my favorite places to visit (Part 1 and 2 can be found here) anywhere.  It’s more than just my love for Ellicott City, (even though that only enhances experience) it’s a love of local business, and a the people behind it.

MatchaTimeCafe2

The space and time between this and the last visit was much less, and I suspect that this will continue.  For this visit, it was a quiet Friday afternoon, unplanned, and in some ways my favorite of the three.  But they’ve all been my favorite.  Something about this had a feel, just like most experiences area.  Something just felt safe, felt secure, felt even more safe, and felt like home.

This was just that much more safe, it was essential, and it was one of those feelings that can’t be explained.

We’re all in weird places from time to time.  Hopefully for the most part we’re in harmonious ones that when we go somewhere safe and happy, that feeling is that much more amplified.  Otherwise, a place like Matcha is just that much more needed.  I don’t like that word ‘need’, because it represents lack.  But sometimes those lacks need (oops) to be filled.  That comes from within, but it helps to get assistance from friends, from good food, of course good tea, and sometimes from people you don’t even know.

You know when things are comfortable and great when you can relax and the owner (who is also a friend) is working off to the side, and we can enjoy some conversation, but even better in some instances, silence.    I mean of course there was tea.  Let me get to that now.

MatchaTimeDrinksList

Ah it’s now really fall, and that means these endearing lists of teas, coffees, and ciders.  And there’s is as charming as it gets.    Funny how I’ve never had the Pumpkin Spice Tea from Matcha before, so let’s do it.

I had multiple cups and each one just tasted better than the other.  And that speaks to the power and quality of the loose tea itself.  If you can get multiple cups with lots of flavor remaining, all is good with the universe.   I took my time with each cup.  Then somewhere along the way…

Let’s have some chicken curry.  What a perfect dish for this time of year.   It was still bright enough outside and there’s this crisp coolness that just feels right, but also tells you that well, yeah not yet….

MatchaTimeChickenCurry

This food and tea combination felt like a home cooked meal.   But in so many ways I felt like I was at home.  This was happiness.  I got comfortable, and maybe too comfortable, but is that such a bad thing?

MatchaTimeChickenCurry2

I shouldn’t have to question joy.  No one should.   I’m in a place of healing and it take a while, maybe forever to be healed.  Yet there’s always time to feel good and to feel better.  I felt so good here.  I lost track of time.  I felt like I was here 20 minutes, yet I was here nearly three hours.    That’s when you know peace.  We’re capable of attracting so much peace and harmonious feelings regardless of what the outside world presents itself.

The view of the outside world on this day was pretty amazing.  There was an outdoor wedding about to be held.  It was cool to see the set-up to the start of the ceremony.  Across the way live music was about to take place.  I forgot this was a Friday, and fun things like that tend to happen.   I could have stayed here, but maybe it was time to join the outside world.  Well that and they were about to close.

I like to think they stayed opened longer so I could feel as safe as long as possible.  Maybe I left before closing.  I don’t remember.  But I know I could have stayed there for a while.  I did but you know, a while…

My friend gave me a hot apple cider to go, and it was beautiful.  Cider is one of those comfort drinks that I should drink more often, but then maybe it wouldn’t feel so special. Again, happiness should never have an arbitrary amount of or anything like that. No.

I joined the concert with my cider, and I didn’t know a single soul, and it felt wonderful.  I felt connected to everyone while not knowing anybody.  Maybe somebody was going through something similar.  Maybe because I’m a in a place I’m not a regular, that people smiled at me just to say, everything’s going to be ok.  You’re ok.  I hope so.

This day was more than ok. It was one of my favorites.  My favorites are always the simplest ones, with a lot of good conversation, then a lot of peace, and that leads to inner peace, and inner joy.   That’s the season for you.

There’s a lot of beautiful moments to come.  I can feel it.  No event is ever the same nor should it be attempted, but I can only hope for more amazing ones down the line.

MatchaTimeFriend

I’ll treasure and savor this one forever…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

And All In Good Time…

Spice&TeaFallTeaDisplayAll3

I wanted to wait just a little while before getting into my quarterly tradition of raving about the seasonal teas from The Spice & Tea Exchange.  We are barely into autumn, and two of the three teas were out of the stock as of this post yesterday.  As of today, two of three are now available.  This is too funny, but it’s also the times we’re in.

I would say this is a faux pas of mine, and to some extent it is.  It also speaks volumes of how good these teas are, how much so many of us embrace the change of the season and the impending well, you know…, and the power of tea (here is their complete list of teas, available at their stores and to purchase online) and how so many of us love it for the art of drinking, as a hobby, a passion, and the way it makes us feel.   I think the place and the energy of many of their stores has a lot do with that.

Spice&TeaOldTownAlexandria

This time it brings me to where I was born, Alexandria, VA, and their charming shoppe in the heart of Old Town. That was not meant to be as dramatic it sounded.  Ah maybe it was…

A huge thank you to Jessica the manager for being so kind.

As I wrote about several months back, I was in a similar position spiritually, (and in many ways still am, and might be for a while) and a visit to a tea shoppe, especially their’s is always cleaning for the soul and the spirit.

I’ve been writing for long enough that the changing of the seasons is now synonymous with a visit to their stores, and knowing that three amazing teas will be presented to all of us.

And that’s exactly what happened once again.  These guys are incredible.  My past stories will confirm all of this.  

Spice&TeaFallDisplay2

It was still Summer when these teas were introduced and still Summertime when I bought these.  I along with some of my close friends know that we shouldn’t rush these things.  I had a sense that these flavors would be out of stock soon if not already.  The packs were on the low side, and I didn’t think to ask if more were coming.  You just know sometimes.

The three for us this time are the Tipsy Toffee, the Spiced Ruby Cider Herbal Tea (out of stock for now?), and the Pumpkin Chai Latte.

Spice&TeaFallTeaUpClose

The ingredients are all on the back of the packs.  I want to review this like I always do, with as light hearted and approachable as it can be.   If things overlap then that’ll happen naturally.  I have so much to say but sometimes the tea says all that need to be said, and we should embrace.

Here goes…

One thing that always stands out is while the aromas of their teas give the impression that they may be too sweet for many, but it’s so brilliantly deceptive.  It almost tastes exactly the opposite of what you would expect.  In many cases this is a good thing and I believe this is the intent.

Spice&TeaTipsyToffeeDisplay

The Tipsy Toffee has the strongest scent of all in my opinion.  And while I love toffee, I was weary of how it would taste.  Nah I’m kidding.  It’s not that serious.  There’s nothing to be weary of haha.

Spice&TeaTipsyToffeeDisplay2

This is tremendous.  While you might think the butterscotch and caramel flavorings may be overpowering, they were anything but.  Everything has its place and complemented the other so well.   I’ve said this before but so much about tea is what you don’t taste immediately until seconds later, or even longer.  Understated yet endearing is what their teas are all about.  Beautiful.

Spice&TeaTipsyToffeeInfused

The color on the toffee among with the others was a little more special this time.  All credit goes to the dragonfly infuser, which is also available through them.  For significant, personal, and sentimental reasons I’m grateful to use this trusty friend for the first time, for this round of teas.

Spice&TeaSpicedRubyCiderDisplay

The Spiced Ruby Cider had this color of red that is perfect for this season and matches the color of things to come.  Yes I’m thinking a little bit ahead too.  In order to brew this, I had to break the pieces up a little.

Spice&TeaSpicedRubyCiderDisplay2

Again, with cinnamon apple pieces, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, orange peels (I feel like a pendulum), cloves, and more cinnamon stuff, you would think this would be too sweet.  Even if was, I think it would be awesome.  The smell is great and once again this is a universally wonderful tea that everyone will love.  However, that’s for you to judge and judge alone.

Spice&TeaPumpkinChaiDisplay2

You can’t forget the Pumpkin Chai Latte.  This is why we celebrate autumn right?  We got more pumpkin then we know what to do with.   You wouldn’t know it here though.  And I’m not a fan of most chai, but once again this is nowhere near as rich and that full feeling chai you might expect.

I never tasted any whipped cream or caramel.  But it’s there and so is that pumpkin!

I thought this would be the most potent of the three and I felt it was actually the most tame.  This was my least favorite of the trios, and not in a bad way.   You can’t go wrong, and you can only go right with all of them.

This sounds like a heavy bias, but with few exceptions The Spice & Tea Exchange clearly knows how to make superb tea with a lot of soul and a lot of feeling behind it.

Yes you see sweet treats with each cup, and while they were merely for display, it’s to prepare us for indulgence, because indulgence is coming.  I’m so happy to begin the fall season with their teas and I’m so grateful for the opportunity once again.

Spice&TeaAppleCinnamonSugar

One last thing, when you buy 3 packs, you get a free packet of sugar.  What do with this Apple Cinnamon Crisp Sugar?  I answered my own question by maybe wanting to add to these teas, but maybe it’s meant for something else.

Peace Be With You, and there will be another story much sooner than later.  I’m purposely being vague because I honestly don’t know what’s next.

Spice&TeaFallTeaDisplayThreeTeas

All in good time…

Love,

Ideen

Thank You For The Sun, The One That Shines On Everyone…

PointLomaTeaDisplay

This is a continuation of what I wrote about last week, and the story gets that much brighter.  And the sun surely had a hand in that…

Maybe it took some life changes, and a late May day for one of the most beautiful displays of sun and serenity that I can recall.   Until recently, we’ve been lacking in days like this.  Lack is never good.  It implies, well lack and missing something.   The sun is vital to our lives, for many reasons.

Happiness seems to be number one.

The sun makes people more motivated to do things, whether it’s doing nothing or something life changing.  Sometimes those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

A good night’s rest after anything is welcome, and I don’t do it enough.  I imagine the same goes for many of you.  When it becomes 6-7 hours, it just only feels like ‘enough’, but barely.

Maybe it was the anticipation of trying a new tea, taking some new pictures in a different setting than I’m accustomed to, and giving the gift that keeps on giving.

This gift was a souvenir from my dear friends who visited Sunny California months back, and I held on to this tea, because I was waiting for the right moment.

PointLomaTea&Cookies

And what better way to share the Angels in the Mist from Point Loma Tea, then with my friends who brought it to me…

Here’s their catalog (which is available for purchase online), more about them, and their contact information.

You know packaging and presentation goes a long way.  First impressions can be misleading and deceiving, but they’re still first impressions.   And I was impressed.

PointLomaTea

We didn’t realize that the packing carried more than one tea.  Which makes this all the more exciting. More for later!   This blend of oranges, apples, hibiscus, and rose just projects all the good things about Spring and Summer.  It’s a simple, yet powerful blend of all the good in the world.

And it tastes good too!

The brewing process was seamless, and since I had some of my favorite animal friends with me, this was the perfect cup for it.

PointLomaTea&Cookies2

The vanilla tea cookies were also a gift, and paired just right with our tea.  The dichotomy of the flavors of my sweets versus the other sweets in the tea may throw some off a bit, but I love it.  It’s sunny out, the days are getting longer, and you only live, well you know.  All those sayings…

Just as I take my time writing this, I took my time appreciating, savoring, and photographing this tea.  You can see the photogenic colors from onset of steeping.  I love this tea so much.

And I love when I’m introduced to a new tea company, that I had never known existed.  If it wasn’t for my friends, who knows if I would ever found out about, and be introduced to something so exquisite.  It makes me think how many teas are out there that I have yet to discover, and may never discover.

PointLomaTeaDisplay4

That’s what makes this journey so wonderful.  While we have all these major brands, who have earned their reputation and earned their place in grocery and retail aisles, positions of prominence, and on the minds of many; I’m always about something new, something local, and something inspiring.

I’m feeling inspired, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Happy Spring into Summer!

Peace Be With You,

Ideen

 

Festively Flavored

TJSpicedAppleCranberryKombuchaDisplay

I teased it last week and knew I was going to go back for a couple more from my old pals at Trader Joe’s.

When browsing their tea section, and looking for anything new I can get my hands on,  something told me to just walk around some more.  And when you’re at a store as captivating as Trader Joe’s, that’s not hard to do.

But after grabbing some free samples, at the corner of my eye in in the refrigerated beverage area, I spotted something new, something hopefully something inspiring, and most important of all, something perfect for the holiday, and the season.

They have recently introduced Kombucha to their already impressive repertoire of teas, and for that matter many of their food and drink products.   It was only a matter of time.  It never crossed my mind to think they would carry Kombucha until now.

TraderJoesKombuchas

When I saw the two on display basically begging to be purchased, I didn’t hesitate one second.

TJGentlyGingerbreadKombucha

I will admit that when I saw the Gently Gingered Kombucha Tea, I thought it read Gently Gingerbread, which would be quite ambitious.  Could you in theory make gingerbread flavored Kombucha?  Of course you can.  But that’ll have to wait.   This is…

TJGentlyGingerbreadKombuchaDisplay1

This wasn’t good.  This is about as flat as a Kombucha I’ve ever had.  And it’s not that it was terrible.  Take out hoping that this would taste like the flavors of the season you love so much, it doesn’t take like much.

TJGentlyGingerbreadKombuchaDisplay5

If you’re not into fermented drinks, this is not where you want to go.  These are meant to be sipped, savored, appreciated, and and drank slowly like you would have a cup of tea.  But this was a struggle.   I usually save my Kombuchas for a while if they’re in protected packaging.  This is the first I’ve had in a can, and I don’t think that’s anything to really expound upon, other than the fact is I’m going to have a hard time wanting to drink this again.  But if was able to be sealed I may give it another chance.   And  you know what, I still might?

You taste ginger but it’s light, it’s lacking, and it’s missing the heart and soul I want from a tea and now the Kombucha I drink.   This was about $2-$2.50, so I wouldn’t dissuade you from not trying it.  You might love it.  But I would say proceed with caution.

TJGentlyGingerbreadKombuchaDisplay4

The Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s you see here and in the next display of sweet treats are mainly for display, as I still want to celebrate all the deliciousness that Trader Joe’s has to offer.

TJSpicedAppleCranberryKombucha

All is forgiven and all is glorious, because their current offering, just in time for the holidays, the Organic Cranberry Spiced Apple Kombucha represents everything that’s right with the world, and that includes Christmas.  Especially Christmas and the holidays.

This makes me so happy.  The color tells one story, but the combination of cranberry juice, apple juice, and cinnamon within this black tea work-of-art is just what you want this month.  I would say you could have this year round.  Yes you can.

TJSpicedAppleCranberryKombuchaDisplay

Again, while this one is easy to drink, it’s one you take your time with.   The amount you see poured here is the amount I had.  Yet this one was kinder to my stomach , so you know the probiotics are working! I can’t rave about this one enough.   And at a little under $3, it’s worth splurging a bit on this.

TJSpicedAppleCranberryKombuchaDisplay2

Can’t forget those Peppermint Joe Joe’s.  Again, this is not really a pairing but more so an homage to all the joys of this holiday.

This will not be it for Trader Joe’s, as my history has shown, I will always be on the lookout for whatever awesome item they will introduce next.  Just when I think I’ve done it all, I know I never will, nor do I want to.

This is a journey, it’s a marathon, and anything but a race.  It’s not a race against time or anything else.  Though the holidays may feel like all of the above and then some, it’s about enjoying all the moments you can, with amazing food, drink, and of course the people.   We’ve got a lot holiday left and I look forward to what’s next.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen