The Fireside Is…

FiresideSpiceTea

I’ve been away for a little while.   This season has been a little harder to embrace than most.   Eventually sadness was going to take over and just manifest itself throughout the holidays.  And I love the holidays so much.

I love Thanksgiving.  I love Christmas.  I love all the celebrations of peace, life, love, family, and of course all the celebrations in general.

Holiday parties make me so happy.  But this year I haven’t been feeling it.  I’ve chosen to stay away from a few this time, or make other plans.  The comforts of sitting at home with my cat, or the various pets I look after are what’s getting me through the holidays thus far.

I never wanted to be someone that just got through the holidays, but this is currently where I stand.  And it hurts.  It hurts in ways that I can’t even describe.

Plain and simple, this is the first holidays without my dad.  And with that brings upon feeling of grief, not just about him, but about so much else going on in my life, or lack thereof.    Yet with all the hurt and tragedy, there’s still so much to be grateful for, and there’s those constants that just keep me going and still bring a smile to my face.  There’s much to be thankful and grateful for.  There always will be… Just like…

The Spice & Tea Exchange has always been there, and I hope it continues to be there (my love for them can be found here) for me, not just to review their limited time teas, but all their magical teas, that are for sure magical, and all those other good things.

For now, I like to go when it’s quiet.  This is a far cry from when I would want to be around big groups, busy shoppers, and all the noise and commotion that makes this season so exciting.  Maybe later.  Right now, that’s not for me.

The Annapolis location (all locations can be found here) was the ideal setting for browsing and purchase.

Spice&TeaHolidayTeas

What is for me is peace, calm, and a lot of solitude.  I find comfort in the unknown and in quiet.  The unknown is the three latest teas for holidays.  I’m so grateful to share with you my thoughts on the Holiday Cheer, the returning Chocolate Candy Cane Tea, and the Fireside Spice.

For more on the returning Chocolate Candy Cane go here.

With help from the trusty Cozy Cup Mitten Infuser (charming I know right), I had a ball preparing these for enjoying and sipping.  Yes!

HolidayCheerTeaUpClose

Not going in any particular order we start with the Holiday Cheer.

The trios of cinnamon, hibiscus, and fig is breathtaking.  I probably didn’t do the best job of brewing this cup, hence the color that you see.  But the flavors still shined through in spectacular fashion.   With a name like Holiday Cheer, how can you not be enchanted?

The Chocolate Candy Cane is just as great as I remember it a year ago.  Maybe even better. Black tea, chocolate, and peppermint will make anyone happy.  This also tells me I must try some of their more traditional teas, such as black and other flavors that I’ve grown up with.  Yes, ones I’ve shared with my dad.  I felt this one a little more this time.

FiresideSpiceTeaUpClose

If I had to pick a favorite it would be the Fireside Spice, and it might just be the cinnamon and chicory combination that made feel a little more sentimental for the time I’m in, for the the time we’re in, and where time tends to stop, and I felt like a kid for a moment.

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But I know I’m not.  These teas take on a whole new meaning to me then if this were a year ago, or many years ago.  This is life though and we’re all going to experience a lot of things, some that will hurt, but hopefully many that bring us joy and raise our spirits.

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I love these teas and I love The Spice & Tea Exchange.  Thank you for making my holiday feel a little more manageable.

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

Giving Thanks…

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

With that being said, more to come…

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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

 

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.

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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.

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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….

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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?

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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.

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I’ll treasure and savor this one forever…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

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

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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.

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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

From The Heart to the Soul

Berried&GreenGarden

Literally next door, and I mean literally next door, from where I spoke on last week, is another charming and I’ll say it, adorable spot in West Annapolis, Rutabaga Craft Juicery.

Rutabaga

I had no intentions of writing about this wonderful place, (here is their menu, some eco information, more about them, and their contact info) and that’s not meant in a disparaging way.  I just came for some cold-pressed juice, a smoothie, and some peace.

There’s plenty of places I walk into that I’ll never write about because either it doesn’t fit the context of what I’m saying, I like the break, or I just don’t think about.  I’ve been doing this for a while now, that I don’t always think about what to discuss or not discuss, without a little research, preparation, but my favorite is always the spontaneous.

As would be with Rutabaga…

West Annapolis is its own entity, its own island, and own universe within such a tiny and beautiful universe of Annapolis (my past posts on this wonderful place are here), that the joy just continues to compound.

With such a cozy space, it’s a blessing I had an outside table to myself.  I came around lunch hour, and while people were in and out, it once again felt like I was the only person on Earth.  That’s a good feeling, and while it may feel egocentric or narcissistic, it feels like peace to me.  And there’s more of where that I came from, and more at our disposal then we know.

Berried&GreenGarden&Flower

I went with the Berried (a blend of apple ,strawberry, blueberry raspberry, and banana maple chia) and it went down smooth, went down easy, and went down a little too fast.  The weather warranted it.  Which also means I could’ve used a glass of water or two.  I did get around to that eventually.

But as I was leaving, I noticed they had kombucha on tap and available for sampling.  Since I already bought a drink, I feel like I had some immunity and didn’t feel as greedy or as cheap by trying all three samples.

One stood out above the rest.

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The Green Garden from Federal Brewing Company based out of Federalsburg, MD, was one of the more refreshing kombucha’s I’ve had.  It was the perfect contrast to my fruit drink, that I loved trading a sip of each back and forth, while cleansing my palate of course.   Even without a sip of water in between, I got all the beautiful tastes and flavors from each.

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I honestly forgot what was in the Green Garden, but maybe I wasn’t supposed to know or remember.  I just knew it was great, and I would love to have some more.

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For the warmer climates, you can’t go wrong with either of these.  You can’t go wrong with supporting local business, and any chance to sit outside, be with nature, enjoy my surroundings, and enjoy not one, but two amazing beverages is something to be truly grateful for.

If you’re local to the area, and have not visited Rutabaga’s, I highly recommend it.  The staff is so friendly and accommodating. Many tourists will visit this summer, and because of its location it may be overlooked, but I wouldn’t.  It’s a gem among gems, among more gems.  While open for less than three years, it looks like it’s going to be a mainstay for years to come.  It’s another great reason to visit and love our state capital.

Have a good one, enjoy your day, and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

The Heart of Annapolis

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There’s this calming feeling when you go back to a place for a second time, especially since it’s been nearly two years since the prior visit.  Bean Rush Cafe has the coziness of Annapolis tucked away in an even more quaint and peaceful part of town, if that’ even possible.

BeanRushCafe

My continuously growing history of a place I love so much can be found here.

Yes, there’s always happiness layered upon happiness if you know where to look, or maybe not look so hard.  It’ll just come to you.  I think I wrote about a similar experience here back in August of 2016. It sounds dream like when I say it like that.  It does feel like two years ago, but then again where did two years go?

BeanRushCafeSign

Two years and many visits to one of my favorite towns in between compelled me to come back to one of the more charming and welcoming coffee shops (here is more about them and their contact information) I’ve ever had the pleasure of coming to.

It’s July, it’s summer, and it’s one of those be careful what you wish for deals.  While it’s gotten uncomfortably hot for many, in many ways we’ll miss this when it gets colder.  I’ve never been one to complain about the heat.  I love this weather, and I stay hydrated, stay safe, and stay spiritually whole.   It’s easy to do.

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Iced tea is the only thing on my agenda at this and will be for a while.   Per recommendations from one of the friendliest faces and voices behind the counter, I went with the Berry Berry Iced Tea and a Raspberry pastry.   Why pastry?  Why not?

They complemented each other well, and I’m all for a lovely display.  The colors and tones fit the summer.  So do so many, and many other themes will be coming in the next few weeks, if not sooner.

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This tea is fun.  Where have I heard that before?  I found a spot on the porch, which felt familiar and divine, well yeah, I sat here two years ago.  It’s not that mysterious and surrealisitic, but it’s still fun to me over-the-top dramatic.

I love this place so much.  I felt like I was at a friend or family’s house, and even felt more comfortable than that.

BerryBerryIcedTea

People were saying hello to one another, holding doors, and there was lots of smiling.  This made me so happy.  Where am I?  I’m in the most peaceful and serene place I’ve been in some time.

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The flowers in the vicinity, the refreshing tea, and harmonious surroundings makes me feel nostalgic, relieved, and wanting more of this.  I love more of this and I love Annapolis so much.

I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t want to move, so I didn’t.  I sat there for a while and just breathed some fresh air, soaked up the most beautiful and brightest rays of sunshine, and just appreciated being.  This is where the phone and camera was turned off.

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For a few moments I was the only person on Earth, and that’s a feeling I sense will be coming back in symbolic and necessary doses, when the timing is right.  Certain spirits will throw in reminders when they feel it’s right.

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A place that has been so good to me for such a long time, is going to get a lot of love and support from me over the next few weeks, if not more.   There’s so much to celebrate, and while the wording and themes may be similar, the stories will all have a touch something new.   It’s all relative, it’s all constant, but it’s all love.

My heart will always be with Annapolis.

Peace be with you.

Ideen