Feeling A Little…

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When it’s this cold here in the Baltimore and DC area, it can be a challenge looking at the glass half full.   It can be a time of hibernation, which is good or bad depending on how you look at things.  I’m all for peace at any time of year.  I’m all for a good cup of tea and some good conversation any time of year.  I’m all for anything that’s genuine, any time, any place, and anywhere.

But sometimes you appreciate a little solitude and with our busy schedules it may be few and far between.   However, with anything in life, if you want to make time for the ones you care about you will.  And that includes the one you need to look out for the most, yourself.  That’s not a selfish statement whatsoever.  It’s one of where if you can take of yourself, then you take care of others and look out for the ones you care for the most.  That’s anything but selfish.  It’s the most selfless thing there is.

This is why, back in November, I took some time much needed and in the place I was in, some desperately needed time for myself.  Exploring charming towns, seeing new sights, and appreciating the universe around you is what makes this life so glorious, even if it’s a short drive away.

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Caffe Amouri of Vienna, VA fits the bill of something different and a place where it seems like community is a way of life.  It’s in the historic part of town where upon inspection seems to be a lot smaller than it once was.  I could be completely wrong but it’s an observation based on other small towns I’ve encountered in my journey, not just for my love of tea but for everything.

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The decor with musicians past and present is a great touch.

Leave it to me to always want to drink tea in a coffee shop. A few close friends tease me for that, but all in good fun.  I love a good coffee, but that story can be reserved for another time and maybe another blog.  Maybe.

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For all the vibe of the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC area being a bit stuffy, I didn’t get that here.  It’s all our perception and how we tend to view things, but I saw something beautiful.  And I can’t put my finger on it nor do I need to exactly.  Maybe as I keep writing it’ll come, but it doesn’t have to.

If I remember correctly, I actually had my sights set on a cup of coffee, but when I saw their collection of tea, I had to go in that direction.  How often am I here, and when would I actually be back?  So it’s funny that the tea that caught my eye was the Bourbon Street Vanilla.

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Where it came from I have no idea, but maybe this link or this one will help, if you would like to purchase some yourself.

You see, I went to New Orleans in the summer of 2015 and that vacation still has a profound effect on me to this day.  It was life altering that I’m still trying to come to terms with.  And by me writing this out, I still haven’t and maybe I’m not meant to, or maybe I’m afraid to.  Nevertheless, it was amazing.  But it’s not as if Bourbon Street itself was the highlight of the trip.  It actually wasn’t even near the top.  But when I find a tea that reminds me of something beautiful, because of the name or a picture, drawing, or something else symbolic, I have to try it for myself.

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The tea itself is fantastic.  I’ve said over the course of this blog that Rooibos teas have been such a joy to me, and if it wasn’t for these stories who knows if I would be such a fan.  It’s the discoveries I’ve made and the new things I’m learning about myself and my surroundings that have helped me grow, even if it’s been a slow process.

The almond pieces and vanilla flavor really made this tea a pre holiday treat.  And it’s perfect for these cold weather months and times ahead.  So there’s the half full part.  I was also in a place of peace and tranquility where I was able to relax, without a worry or care in the world.  Now that last part is temporary.  I do worry and I do care, maybe too much.  But at least for these few minutes, I was in an unfamiliar place, yet it felt like home.

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Home is wherever you want it to be.   Now I have some things to thing about…

For more on Caffe Amouri, here is their selection of coffees and teas (including the aforementioned Bourbon Street Vanilla) to purchase online, and contact information.

Have a blessed one.

Ideen

…The Highest of the High…

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If you don’t know then I’ll say it, The Land of Kush is a masterpiece in all areas.

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It took me over 3 1/2 years from discovering this gem, to actually walking and enjoying myself and my life.  What took me so long?  I have no answers, other than I wasn’t meant to go there until right around this past Christmas.  I honestly don’t know after that, but the universe had other plans for me now, and now the universe has brought me here.

This wasn’t a meal I was ever going to write about or share with you necessarily across this blog or wherever else I may write about things. And it wasn’t for any negative reasons, it just did’t come across my radar.  I was going to enjoy my meal, likely give a great review across multiple sites, then hopefully romanticize it enough to the point I’ll set myself up for a letdown the next time I came back.  That last sentence was a joke by the way, but I think you know what I mean.

Your first impression is the lasting impression, and like I said, I didn’t think I was going to be able to share with you.  But that was until…

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I saw their Sorrel (or Sorrell) on the drink menu which is fresh brewed hibiscus leaves, and nothing else.  And my favorite kind of drinks are the ones with the fewest ingredients.  And this was joy to drink, and it’s best drank cold.  You can see the pictures for yourselves and just picture how magnificent this is.  And it’s exactly that and all the other good vibrations that comes with it.

And I’ll have more good vibes to talk about shortly.

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I kept it simple with my order, which is something I’m guilty of when going somewhere new.  I got the Curry Chickun, vegan mac and cheese, and rice and vegetable medley.  And the meal is incredible.  I can only say so much, the pictures say it all.

I so badly wanted to like this based on what friends of mine had shared with me, and the aura of prestige that I bestowed upon this place, just because the years started to pass by and I still had yet to set foot in the restaurant.

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Damn this was good.  I didn’t expect to finish it all right then and there.  But I took my time and found myself in the most peaceful place I’ve been in some time.  And with all the commotion of life, the holidays, and and everything else that comes in our direction, any kind of peace and tranquility is welcome.  And I was so out at peace, I was so happy, and I was just so happy with everything.

This place felt so Baltimore, felt so local, but also felt unfamiliar, yet familiar all at once.  The feelings of familiarity and doing this somewhere before in a previous life were there.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.  I was transported myself into a different universe and felt transformed all at once.  And when I go to the next level; it’s not always about the food, and at many times it’s bigger than anything related to the restaurant itself.   It’s something bigger than us, out of this body, and out of this world.

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For about an hour, I felt like I was the only person on Earth.  And that’s a feeling that isn’t narcissistic, self indulgent, or any other bells and whistles like that.  It’s more of a feeling of calm, of zen, of what makes this life so great.

This food was so great, the simple service, the amazing staff, and that incredible music are all the perfect complement to one another.   Everything was vibrating off the charts in a way I haven’t felt in some time.

And about the music..  I haven’t heard a quality sequence of songs anywhere in years.  That includes going to bars, lounges, even live concerts, and the occasional pretentious club I’ve been to.   The latter part is kind of a joke but somewhat serious, ha.  But give me great beats, hip hop, neo soul, or whatever you want to call it, from the 90’s, and I’m a happy guy.

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I was already done with my food but the hits just kept coming one after another.  At this point I was afraid to leave.  I was afraid I was going to miss a song I hadn’t heard in years.  And truthfully, I didn’t have that big of plans later in the day that I had to leave.  I was happy where I was, I was grateful where I was, and I was where my feet were.  And it was a beautiful place.

This is a beautiful place.

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For more on Land of Kush, here is their story, their menu, upcoming events, and their contact info.

It won’t be three plus years until the next time.

Thank you Land of Kush.  This is a memory I’m so grateful for.

Happy New Year.

Ideen

 

 

Saturday Afternoon Tea Party

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This is not quite the go home post for summer and my (and perhaps yours) summer vacation.   We’re not seeing displays for autumn and the teas, snacks, and everything else that fits that mold.   But one thing at a time, and I’ve still got some sunshine and those happy things to talk about.

This is part two of what looks like another trilogy, that will either be completed next week or right before.

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When I fall in love with a place, I tend to overstay my welcome.  At least in my head I think so.  I’m sure any business appreciates repeats business, and the Infused Tea Company can have take all my money and all my patronage it wants.  And especially if it keeps the amazing teas and just as important, the amazing energy going.

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Last week I wrote about the night time scene in St. Pete, and how Infused Tea sits right in the heart of all the action, and all the atmosphere on Beach Drive.   Beach Drive and the charming streets nearby are just that, so charming.

Now my Saturday morning visit was self fulfilling and intentional.  I went for a run and I knew would stop over here, along with a few other places.  In what matter, in what route, or any other details would be presented to me as I drew closer.   Needless to say, I did get to visit some other shoppes, but I found a cozy, scenic, and spectacular view of Beach Drive.

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Even though the city is growing, there’s still plenty of parks, trees, green, and all the other good stuff that makes this planet great.  I felt so happy and felt as content as I’ve been in some time.

I said all this without actually talking about the tea, and pastry.  Yes, pastry!

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I’m going solely on memory and romanticism.  The Strawberry Pear which can be found in the Fruit Blends category, is an all year tea, heated or iced.  The strawberry and pear is a beautiful blend of summer fruits.  I love pear and don’t have enough of it in general. The apple makes it perfect for the fall.  But in St. Pete, in Florida, this is fortunately a tea you can have year round, hot or iced.   As someone who can appreciate the changing of the seasons here in Maryland, I can also appreciate having a consistently warm temperature that allows you to eat and drink the same (or different) meals without having to adapt to much to the change in temperature.   But to each is own!

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This was another awesome tea.  And being in a place of peace and harmony only made this that much better.   There were lots of people walking, running, and cycling in the area.  And many stopped over to enjoy some tea and hang out with their friends.  It doesn’t get any better than that.    The cyclists in particular had quite a large crew, and made me think about wanting to join a club like this.   Ah this is so fun.

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I’m recalling so many cool things, details, and experiences within this hour plus span, that I nearly forgot if I hadn’t written this out.  And surely more things will come to mind, but some things are best to remain with me, with you, and within this thing called life that we can recall later and hopefully smile.

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This was one of those uniquely positive experiences that words are not going to do justice.  This was a different Saturday morning for me than I’m used to.  Well of course, its vacation.  I’m sure that magnified the intensity of what I was thinking and feeling, but I always want to think something bigger and magical is going on here.

I like that.

For my running history of this most inspirational of tea scenes in Florida and St. Pete, they’re all here.

As always, for more on Infused Tea, here is their story, their location if you’re local and/or visiting, and a link to purchase to purchase all their awesome teas online.

One more story in this trilogy is coming.   This will either be next week, or maybe even sooner.

Take good care.

Ideen

I Love Trader Joe’s

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A couple of things.  If I try too hard to come up with a creative title, it’ll likely end up feeling forced, inauthentic, and insincere.  And that has happened.  So I kept it simple. Because I love Trader Joe’s.  It has my heart and its had it for years.

So when I look back at my past posts and realize I’ve gone over six months (so nothing in the Spring up to now) without writing about them, it’s been long overdue.

What’s also been going on is like you, like me, like everyone, we get busy.   The places we love to go to, the things we want to do, and the people we want to see become a bit more challenging because life happens, it goes on, and new interests, new places, new things, and new friends emerge.

But a friend like Trader Joe’s you never want to take for granted.  It’s been there for me in the ups, the downs, the highs, the lows, and all the good stuff in between and peripherally.

I’ve been back several times recently to do some shopping of course, seek inspiration for future posts, and to soak in all the good vibes.  Because it’s always been about the good vibrations.

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You know what always draws people in?  Free samples.  And TJ’s is always so generous with a charming sample of foods, coffee, tea, and a tea lemonade.   This is what introduced me to their Organic Tea & Lemonade.  And with its ever-so-charming golf inspired label, how can you not be drawn to it?

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The reasons for the golf design are fairly obvious.  But even if you or I wasn’t aware, the art is still mesmerizing.  And you got some nifty golf terms on the back to impress some people with.  It’s all new to me!

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And how was the drink?  I mean it’s not going to set the world on fire.  But that’s just a personal opinion.  It’s a refreshing, filling, yet light summertime and anytime beverage.  I wanted to go this in town while its still Summer because it only makes sense.  But as long as you’re going golfing, or just enjoying life in general, this is as good as beverage as any.

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This is premature, and a bit sad in a way, but it may have been too soon for the Five Seed Almond Bars to be paired with this beverage, or any.  If you read the ingredients this will make sense.  I know to some that’s exciting, but to me its bittersweet in a way.  I love Summer, and wish it could go on forever.

As a bonus, I also discovered the Organic Green Tea Lemonade, not on any special display, but hidden in plain sight with a whole bunch of other tea and tea inspired beverages, that I hope to get to periodically.   I keep thinking that I”ll run out of idea and things to talk about when it comes to this store, but I should never doubt.

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I think I liked the Green Tea Lemonade even better.  Simply for the fact that it’s more my speed.  It’s not as sweet as the aforementioned Tea/Lemonade, and it had that genuine green tea taste that we’ve all grown to love.  Mix that in with a lighter (at least to me) tasting lemonade, you’ve got a winning combination.  No, not the most creative of labels, but this is why you should never judge anything by its over…

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…well unless you judge the Honey Butter Potato Chips, because they look even and taste even better than its portrayal on the bag.  What a perfect complement to a beverage that I think is even more custom made for all seasons versus the Tea Lemonade.

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Nevertheless, both drinks are only $3.00 for these 64 oz. bottles, so you’re not risking much for such a great reward.  The chips were only $2, and the almond bars were about $5-6.

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Ah this is so exciting. Oh how I’ve missed you and missed writing about you Trader Joe’s.

To find a store near you, click here.

Drinks like this, posts like this, and visits to one of my favorite grocery stores is always a treat and can be invigorating.   More is always coming and who knows what the future holds.   Who knows what next week holds, who knows what tomorrow holds.

More to come.

Thanks so much.

Ideen