Happy Birthday Dad…

ChickenReshmiKababs&MasalaTea

There’s no timetable to say you’re going grieving over a loved one.  And no one should feel an arbitrary amount of months or even years that it’s time to say you’re done.  I don’t know what being done is.  What I do know is…

Our parents don’t want us feeling sad all the time.  They would want us to live the best life possible, while they’re here and when it’s their time for the afterlife.

It was my dad’s time.

As much as I don’t like admitting that, it’s the truth.  My dad got sick over a year ago, and never could recover.  For some of us, the pain doesn’t that last that long.  It’s the pain of the children, the siblings, the aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and everyone in between and on the peripheral to feel and to come to terms with.

I’m still not sure if I’ve come to terms.   Not even five months later, it hurts but it’s a different kind of hurt.   I haven’t looked back on the two previous times I specifically wrote about my father (here and then here) right about the time he passed.  I’m not ready to look back and read them just yet.  Maybe I will with a fresher set of eyes down the line. So in some ways have I really come to terms?

SpiceXing

I can’t say for sure.  But what I can say is it only felt right, on his birthday and the first birthday without him (the holidays could be tough this year), to go back to our place, more so his place, Spice Xing, for a meal to honor him, honor his memory, and maybe bring some more peace to me.

I don’t recall a time that we didn’t have lunch buffet here.   Well things have changed, as that buffet is now only reserved for the weekends.   Well no big deal there.   The place was eerily quiet on this Monday afternoon, but I almost preferred it that way.

Of course on a day like this it’s grey, it’s rainy, and the sky is telling me something.  What that is, and what it may tell you are completely different things.  For many that might feel comforting.  Ordinarily, I would say it wasn’t.  But today it fit the mood.  If it was sunny and 80 degrees, I would say that would fit the mood.  But this was the mood and I’m grateful for that.

The last time I was actually here was the beginning of the healing process.  I’ll leave that to your own interpretation and speculation, as some things are better left unsaid.  But I’m forever grateful for the outpouring of love and support, that it will stay with me for the rest of my life.  I mean that.   It’s a once in a lifetime thing.  Literally.  It’ll never happen again.

ChickenReshmiKababs

But what can happen again is a lovely meal to honor a man who has helped shaped me and our family to be in the position to be where we are today.  If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I would be.  He was the man.  And he still is the man.  Hi dad, I hope you see this sometime.. Love you…

What actually never crossed my mind until including these photos was, is he sitting across from me?  That’s a cliche but well….

ChickenReshmiKababs&MasalaTea2

I did it different this time with the chicken reshmi kababs with a side of chana masala, salad, and naan bread.   Why kababs in an Indian restaurant?  Well why not.  Our background is Iranian, and we’ve had our share of kababs at many fine establishments in the area, and at home.  So I couldn’t think of a better meal to celebrate the best of all worlds.

My dad would just rather have the buffet.   And some of that naan bread too.  But I’ll get to that in a little bit.

MasalaTea

The masala tea was a gem and reminds me of simple black tea that my dad and I would share on a regular basis.   I could’ve ordered any beverage, but this seemed only right.  So I’m grateful to honor him within honoring him.  That makes me feel good.

MasalaTea2

I sat in a different spot, yet I had a view of where we used to sit.  We’ve sat in a lot of places, but this spot felt comfortable.  I had a view of where his photos and a candle were positioned several months back.

While I was in a familiar place, I still felt removed and detached from everything. There’s safety in that.  Even by coming to a place we’ve been going to for years, I felt relieved being away from everything else.  Maybe that’s another part of the healing and grieving process.

MasalaTea4

But today there really wasn’t much sadness.  Just like the week and days leading up to Father’s Day, I got so much out of me to the point of being physically exhausted and drained.  And now I know what it feels to have nothing left.  I feel transparent as I write this.  But more importantly I feel relieved.

I’m relieved that my dad is in a happier place.  Where that place is I don’t know.  But I believe he’s at peace and harmony with everything.  It’s what we wish for our loved ones when it’s their time to go and when they’re gone.  As heartbreaking as it sounds, it’s also so beautiful.

This is life.  This is death.  It’s good to cry, but it’s also good to be happy.  Our true family, our dearest friends, and love ones want only want the best for us.  They would sacrifice their own joy just so you can feel some.  My dad did that for everyone while he was alive, and maybe he did it when he was saying goodbye.  That’s the most beautiful and selfless act of all.

While I was sad on the days and eve of his birthday, that sense of sadness has turned into calm.  Maybe it’s numbness or maybe it’s something else.  Maybe I’m just tired.  Yet maybe it’s just the universe telling me I’ve handled enough and now it’s time to take a break, until the next phase of grieving.

I don’t want to think that far ahead, because I don’t know what even tomorrow will bring.

What I do know is I’m proud of my dad, and I miss him.  I love him.  And while I know his spirit is with me, and will always be with me, I’m starting to see a light. I’m starting to see hope, and starting to see that the best life is still in front of me.  My dad would want this for me.  Our parents would want this for us.

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So I raise my cup and say salud, I say cheers, and I say I love you dad.

And next time I’ll be sure to pocket all the leftover naan bread and sneak out like a little kid in your honor… Ha!

I love you dad and Happy Birthday…

Your son,

Ideen

A Better Way To…

WawaAutumnDrinks2

Way back in time, I wrote about Wawa, and all the goodness that it brings.   Kids of all ages that have ever visited one of their stores (locations can be found herelocations can be found here) or heard about one, know of the aura that Wawa has.  There’s no overstating this, I find happiness here, that I don’t find just anywhere.  And there’s happiness to be found anywhere and everywhere…

WawaMenu

I would have to give myself enough time to write about every tea, coffee, latte, and everything in between that Wawa has to offer.  And that’s just counting for the fall season, let alone everything else.  The photo above is just the beginning, and everything else is great too.  Yes, this story will be loaded with heavy biases, and I’m proud of that fact.

On average I’m here at least five times a week.  That isn’t an exaggeration.  I’m fortunate to be near a half-dozen or so stores/filling stations just within driving distance, and many more in the area, that I’m never without my Wawa.

Three plus years was way too long to get back to talking about one of the best places in the whole wide world, so let’s get to it…

WawaHotPumpkinSpiceChaiTea

The Hot Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea is more on the lighter side, and that’s just the way I wanted it.  In many past stories I’ve elaborated on why I feel this can be too rich and too aggressive for my tastes.  As we approach comfort food, comfort drink, and comfort everything this season, a little richness never hurt anybody.  But when it comes to chai I want it light, I always want it light, and I want it just like this.

What’s beautiful about the drink choices (and pretty much most of the food choices as well…) is that it’s built to order at your fingertips.  I know a lot of places have instituted this, but I would like to think Wawa was first, and the greatest of all time.  I warned you about biases!

WawaMilkChoices

You have your options of milk and whether or not you want whip cream.   Their recommendations are shown to you, but you can come up with whatever makes you happy.  Almond milk makes he happy. Yay!  With the chai I kept it real simple as opposed too…

WawaIcedPumpkinMapleHarvestLatte2

The Iced Pumpkin Maple Harvest Latte is full on commotion and chaos, no not really, it’s a heavy drink.  I got it iced and with whip cream on top.  And if you think I finished this one in one setting, you would be right.  Actually no, this one took a long time and my stomach said no thank you.  But the truth is, it’s good, but it’s not for everyone.

Maple has somewhat caught up to pumpkin in terms of all the fall concoctions that you can make out of these two autumnal entities (not sure it that made sense).   This isn’t a knock on the drink at all.  I ordered this deliberately to counterbalance the chai tea.

WawaAutumnDrinks

While I like it, and it’s not necessarily for me, it easily could be something you will enjoy.  I’m all about trying something different.  And their menu has something available for all to enjoy.

WawaTeas

I love Wawa.  Wait, did I already say that?  But it’s the truth.  Since the first time I set foot into one up to earlier today, I always enjoy a visit.  I get excited when I drive past one or a see a sign on the highway for one of my favorite places.  I still get the warm and fuzzies, and feel like a kid in this store.  And this is before I even walk in.

These warm feelings of love are heightened as we are officially (maybe?) into the fall beverage season, and fully appreciate right now and what’s to come.

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I look forward with what’s to come, but for now, I love Wawa.  Always have and always will.

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

I Wish I Could Review Them All…

DocsIcedTeaDisplay

…And in time I will, but Doc’s Tea is giving me that feeling of joy, that I not only discovered something new, but something legitimately healthy, and still tastes great, tastes sweet, and tastes like summer.

I choose to acknowledge that we’re still in August.  Because we are. I’m going to focus on as many iced and cold beverages as I can, in this limited window of time, before we head to the next batch of drinks.  I’m already seeing signs of it and I can say it’s disheartening, it’s what it is, or it’s what it is…

It’s beautiful out.  Life is beautiful.  I look back on this particular day as one of discovery and I wasn’t really looking.   Isn’t that the best?  But if you do want to look and to find Doc’s, here is a list of locations.  My discovery was at a nearby Whole Foods.

With all the choices to make, I went with the two that seemed the most fitting to me, and for summertime.  Yes I’m all about summer and as I tend to keep saying, where did it go?  Where did the time go?  Seriously.  It’s all relative and has been moving at a constant, but this felt so bad.  Life is moving too fast.  Let me slow down before I forget about my thoughts on these incredible teas.

DocsTeas

The Pomegranate Acai and the Island Coconut are loaded with so much good, so much soul, spirit, and feeling that you can’t believe that this is good for you.  Well it’s good for you.

DocsInfo

Both these teas, along with all, are made with Rooibos Tea (which I love so much) and Monk Fruit (which I now love so much).  This is knowingly my first time experiencing something this amazing fruit from Asia, that makes me asks a lot of questions.  But I don’t want to ask too many.  I should just appreciate it for what it is in that moment, and as I write about it now.  How could something so sweet be out of my radar for so long?  Have we only started using Monk Fruit as a sugar alternative?  Whatever the case, this makes this iced tea stand out among the endless of amount of choices.

DocsPomegranateAcai

 

I love Acai, and pomegranate, and to have this be so real, so natural, and so easy to drink is something to behold with all the senses.  Phenomenal.

DocsIslandCoconut

The same goes for the Island Coconut.  How is this possible?  Coconut water has become popular in at least the last decade, but not like this.  This is the best tasting coconut water I can remember.  Mixed in with Rooibos and it’s an absolute delight.  I can’t put even into words how amazing this is.  Even though I just said some words, I’m still speechless.  The store is closed as I write this, so I can’t have any right now, and that makes me sad.  But there’s always tomorrow!

DocsIcedTeaSunflower

But drinking these gems of iced teas won’t make anyone sad.  This is some of the best bottled tea I’ve ever had.  And I’ve had a lot.  We all have.  I might be overstating things and overly excited but that’s the point of this.  I feel good and grateful to be writing about something so beautiful.  All of this is beautiful.

As is their story…

DocsAbout

The amazing folks behind this comprise of dentists and a dental hygienist.  It’s a family, it’s a team of marvels, it’s a group of geniuses.  This is genius, and the story behind this makes me want to do something this awesome.  There’s fruits and other entities of the earth that are untouched, or barely touched that are just waiting to be discovered, explored, and created, like these amazing teas have been.

I’m inspired, and so will you.

If and when I write about them, the words may be slightly different, but the sentiments will remain the same.

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First class and world class…

Stay healthy and peace be with you…

Ideen

 

Matcha The Year

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Everything has a reason, has its place, and has its well something.  I think I’ve said this before and said it in these exact words in this universe or another.  I can’t say for sure.  But what I do know is it feels good to be noticed, and it feels good to be acknowledged, and then it feels good to noticed.  I know I just said that.

I had my eyes set on writing about iced tea today, and this may go on for a while.  I make no promises or guarantee, but that’s what my heart is telling me.  So there may be more than just the weekly post at some points.  I can only hope.

But today just felt right and felt so good.. At my local supermarket the choices are endless, the possibilities might make you freeze a little (if you let it), and overthinking may lead to the wrong, or sometimes the best decision of you life.

Yes that was meant to be as dramatic as it sounded.

Someone noticed how intense I was with my bottled tea search. I mean I could not make up my mind.  This is where the multiple posts may come in.  I love what I ended up with.

And it was this suggestion that made the answer easier for me.  I’m all for ideas.  Sometimes they come to me, sometimes I do flip a coin, and sometimes it’s the outside world that say just go with it.  Here we go…

So this person, who requests they remain anonymous, was intrigued by the bottled teas from ITO EN (which I did write about in a different place and time nearly three years ago, but the article seems to have lost something, literally).

I love how things work out like how they should.  I have a love for many things Japan, I love Matcha, I love this brand, and per everything that’s been going on the past few weeks, I hope someone gets the not-so-obscure reference of my title.  If you’re curious, don’t hesitate to ask.  No, I mean you can really ask me! 🙂

MatchaLoveIcedTea

The two drinks I’ll discuss are the Matcha Love Japanese Matcha & Ginger,  and then the Ice-Steeped Cold Brew Slightly Sweet Lemon Matcha & Green Tea.

All the ingredients and information has been presented to you in the links above and in pictures.

MatchaLoveIcedTeaMatcha&Ginger

I do think that if you aren’t a fan of matcha and ginger, you aren’t going to love the former.  This is best served iced, and served cold.  I’m overstating the obvious but it can only help if you are looking to try something else.  I enjoy it but understand this is an acquired taste, and if you can’t drink it then I wouldn’t force the issues.

I don’t know what else to compare it too. I like it, but that’s because I love matcha and all the properties and benefits that come with it.  That harsh taste comes with so much goodness on the other side.  And I’ve grown to adore it.  No sugars necessary. The best ingredients in the world (purified water, organic green tea, organic matcha, and ginger root) will do anyone a world of favors.  So if you want to try, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.

Yet at $2.50 it may be steep for some, but it’s worth a little extra investment.

MatchaLoveIcedTeaColdBrewSlightlySweet

Same can be said for the slightly sweet. The cane sugar and organic lemon make this perfect for the spring, summer, and yes right now.  I say that a lot, but it’s true.  This is for the moment.  The sugar content is low enough, yet just sweet enough that this will make any sweet tooth happy.

Both these drink are to be savored, appreciated, and should be consumed in a way that makes you feel good, otherwise there’s no point.

There’s a soul and magic to this that I want to explore further.  And as you can see, there’s no shortage of products from this charming company.

To find them at another store near you, click here. 

Additionally, you can order everything online.

Beautiful. All of this is beautiful.  Five stars and above.  This is a matcha and would be a main eventer at any party or gathering in the world.

Take good care.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

I’m So Grateful For This

KombuchaDisplay

There are days where I feel lost, and have no idea what I’m going to write about.  In some instances I’ll start to worry that maybe it’s not meant to be this week.   That has only happened sparingly.  Worrying doesn’t accomplish anything.  I still do it knowing it has no benefits.  If that’s part of what keeps me going and motivating then that’s what I’ve created and is what I’m used to.

The positive contrary is relaxing, letting things come to you, being at peace, and being on with the universe, with myself, and everything.  I think I just repeated myself.

Leave it to Trader Joe’s to help with that peace.  The store that has brought me to so much joy way before writing about all this always comes through when needed, and when I’m not looking.

A few days ago another random visit (sometimes that’s how it is) brought me to my beloved store, and while scanning the tea section, I noticed something….

I’ve written a lot about them and for a split second felt like there was nothing left at this time.  At least in terms of the season.

But I didn’t sweat it.  What is the point in sweating any of this?  It’s not that serious even though I tend to make it as such.   The stories and my love of tea (and your love of anything) is about enjoying life and enjoying everything possible.    Putting yourself out there, while allowing entities to find you is the most beautiful thing.  And it happened again seconds later.

TraderJoesKombucha

Their seasonal kombucha aisle is perfect right now and perfect so many other right nows, and thens, and futures too.  The timing was perfect because I’m not sure how much longer the Organic Mango or the Pomegranate Hibiscus will be at a store near you.

Just like I feel I got in those holiday themed kombuchas down to the wire, I’m grateful to be sharing my thoughts with you on two that just echo what makes this Summer so great.

And some sweet treats never hurt either.

MangoKombuchaGlass

The Organic Mango is so beautiful in all the beautiful ways.  It’s easy to drink, easy to look at, and easy to appreciate.  That color is gorgeous.  I sincerely mean easy to drink because some kombucha beverages may be too much for some.   The cultures, the probiotics, and the fermentation may be a combination that might be too harsh.

MangoKombucha

This is anything but harsh, even though I haven’t had many I didn’t like.  I will say that at least for me, it takes time to drink this.  A bottle can last me a few days.  And it can last you a while too.  That’s the beaut of this.

PomegranateHibiscusKombuchaGlass

I seemed to get more of the mango taste then I did of the pomegranate but that’s reaching for a complain where they really shouldn’t be. The latter also radiates with such a beautiful color that you really can’t go wrong with either.  You can only do right by both.

PomegranateHibiscusKombucha

I had some fun here, pouring them into fancy teacups.  That was about all I needed for today, based on what I was saying earlier.  This is to be savored.

Savoring is what I did with charming cookies that don’t necessarily pair with said beverages, but it doesn’t matter.  Like I was saying earlier, this is fun, this is joyful, and it’s blissful.

Drinking savory tea and kombucha is one of those simple and heartwarming things that almost shields me from things.  It’s a source of protection, comfort, and a feeling of home.  I love happiness and this makes me happy.

At under $3, this is as affordable as you’re going to find, when comparing to similar beverages.

I’m so grateful about all of this.  All it took was a little faith, some trust in myself, the universe, and to feel good about things.   This means a lot now but as time goes by, the stories I first share with myself but then with close friends and an audience is going to feel timeless.

Yes I get sentimental while in the moment, but I can’t think of a better way to appreciate the moment.  I’m overstating the obvious but it’s one of many instances I must tell myself that things are ok.

It’s more than ok…

Stay healthy,

Ideen

The Magic of Tea

CelestialSeasoningsSummerTeaDisplay

Some things just get better with age, with time, and with anything.  Change is constant, constant is constant.  What is will always be, moving in form, through form, and out of form.   And all that other metaphysical, cosmic, and uplifting stuff that sounds good on the surface, but doesn’t always register or resonate.

But often times it does.

Celestial Seasonings is worthy of all the praise, all the lauding, and all the love I can bestow upon it.    It’s only been a few months (all my stories can be found here) since the last time, but it honestly feels like so long ago.  So much has happened that it feels like it;s been ages.  And in a way that’s ok.

As time is moving rapidly, it also feels slow.  I know we’re in late July and that may feel sad for some (I’m one of them), yet there’s still plenty of the summer, the season, and of course life to celebrate.

They just continue to dazzle and impress with all their amazing flavors and newest creations.   Some seem to have passed me by via limited release, but nevertheless, there’s plenty of good to share with you.

And I’m grateful to be sharing two summery and wonderful blends with you now.

The Watermelon Lime Zinger and the Tangerine Orange are the kinds of teas I should have started having back in the Spring, but here we are, and it’s never too late and it’s no time like well….

CelestialSeasoningsTangerineOrange2

I’ll start with the latter.   The blend of tangerines, oranges, passionfruit, and hibiscus creates a masterful looking tea, and that pinkish-reddish color makes it all the more a picturesque sight.

For my own edification and maybe yours too, I made both teas hot and iced, and the results are exciting.  Yes I found the discoveries to be a bit of a surprise, but it all leans towards the positive.

CelestialSeasoningsTangerineOrangeIcedTea

Yet I enjoyed the tangerine orange heated over chilled.  I feel the iced version lost a little bit of its flavor.  Maybe I put too much ice, maybe my taste buds and mood were altered a bit, but I’m going to lean and say that this just feels right under higher temperatures.

CelestialSeasoningsWatermelonLime2

The Watermelon Lime is even that much more spectacular.  It’s good iced or hot, and the flavors remain.  This tastes even more like summer and I can’t get enough of it.  If I had to pick one, I would go with this, but you can’t go wrong (and it’s all right and amazing) with either.

CelestialSeasoningsWatermelonLimeIcedTea

It tastes like candy, it tastes naturally sweet, and it taste like it’s from somewhere or something bigger than us.  I know that’s a bit much, but I felt transformed and felt rejuvenated.   Like I said, these are the teas I should be having more often and what I grew up on.

These are the teas that have helped this blog and helped me learn more about tea, learn more about myself, and to just feel good in general.  Tea is good, tea is fun, and tea is so beautiful.

I took my time sipping as I took my time writing this.  There’s moments where I feel like, is this all worth it?  And the answer is yes. The answer is still yes.  It will always be yes.

Celestial Seasonings teas are easy to find, at a store near you, and are quite affordable, for under $3, and even less than that in many places.  In a world where teas are going up in price, for what may or may not be higher quality, Celestial Seasonings has been that constant and consistent brand that you can trust, depend on, and will always be there for you.

It’s always been there for me.

Where do we go from here?  There’s so many flavors and so many styles I could tap into.  And I just might.

I just might.

Peace as always be with you.

Ideen

I Felt Transformed, Transported…

SPORTeaOutside

Some time ago, I had stumbled upon SPORTea at one of my favorite places, Baltimore Cofee and Tea Company, and it was on a display table along with many other teas to select for your brewing and steeping enjoyment.

It just didn’t feel right at the time.  Sometimes it just doesn’t.  It didn’t stand out to me.  I drank it hot.  It literally felt like a tea that was just there to me.  I ordered it, I drank it, and then I left.  Maybe it felt forced.  If it sounds like I’m talking badly about it, I don’t mean to.  There’s a reason I never felt compelled to write about it.  I have so many teas like this on backlog, and these stories will sadly (or not) never see the light of day.

But then something magical happened…

BaltimoreCoffeeTea

A couple of weeks back I stopped in at Baltimore Coffee and Tea’s newest location, at the Annapolis Towne Centre, I already knew I was going to walk into something special.

I could tell from the outside looking in that this has that place to be kind of vibe.  And I don’t mean in a pretentious sense.  I mean in a place to feel like you’re in your world world, or your own universe, but still feel same to be near your home or loved ones.

In typical fashion, I stopped in alone and already felt at peace about things.  It’s all your perception, and I could have felt like I was just there or in a funk, like I was in a previous visit I alluded to, but I felt good.  The gentleman at the counter literally read my mind.  I asked for an iced tea recommendation and without any hesitation, he said SPORTea.

There was a blast from the past and a flashback but right away.  I had heard that name from somewhere, but it didn’t register right away.

All you need to know about SPORTea can be found here & here.  I’ve done my job and now I’ll just tell you how great this tea is.  The dichotomy is like night and day.  This is meant to drank iced.

 

I don’t think words can describe how healing and uplifting this drink is.  It hit the spot on so many levels, and I don’t have the words for that either.   Being in a good mood and in a good place helps.

BaltimoreCoffeeTeaTheTeas

I started off admiring the inside, but a drink like this and a place like this screams sitting in the courtyard that faces the Towne Centre and the rest of the world.  But inside I felt safe, I felt protected, and I felt like I was the only person on Earth.  I’ve often said this in previous stories, but it’s true.

SPORTeaOutside

The skies and the sun were looking picturesque, and it was a perfect day for doing nothing or anything you want.  That can apply to just about any day if you think about it, or better of not.  This felt like a go with your own flow kind of day, and I’m grateful I ended up here.

Baltimore Coffee & Tea has always displayed the best, brightest, and most inspiring stories to me, for not just tea, but life life in general (previous visits from all around the area can be found here) and for this to be in Annapolis (My past Annapolis memories for your viewing pleasure are right here) makes it that much sweeter.

SPORTeaWithCake

Speaking of sweet, I can’t help myself but include a sweet treat with my teas, but SPORTea can be enjoyed alone or with anything you want.

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I’ve yet to see SPORTea outside of Baltimore Coffee & Tea but this link to shop online seems like a good start.

I hope you have a great one and as always, peace be with you…

Love,

Ideen