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.

MasalaTea5

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.

Wawa1

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

Best Friends!

FirstBird

I love making new friends, especially animal ones.  And especially when they just show up because maybe you need some company, or maybe they just want to hang out.

Or maybe…

Ah dot dot dot, or maybe they have ulterior motive and just want some snacks. Snacks are fun.  Who doesn’t enjoy empty calories on a sunshine day?

This brings us back to Pitango Bakery & Cafe, which you can read more about here, and how much calmness, stillness, and hope this place can inspire.

If I recall correctly, I had plans later on in the evening.  It wasn’t anything big or spectacular, which are my favorite kinds.  Because in kind those can and do become the big and spectacular.  But what I’m saying is, and what I think a lot of people can relate to, is that moment of peace and solitude before you join up with friends, family, and loved ones.  It’s those few minutes of time, that you cherish because you’re one with yourself, and everything around you.  Perhaps nothing at all, but just you and your thoughts.

JasmineIcedTea

The black jasmine iced tea was one of their fresh and cold beverages on hand.  It looked good on paper, and looked tremendous served. I adore the color.

Pastry

For this go around, I did get an almond and fruit pastry to go along with it.

JasmimeTea&Pastry

Neither had a chance, but for contrasting and endearing reasons.

JasmineTea&Pastry2

Sitting outside is one of those things that we do so much, yet maybe not enough of, and at least for me, I still don’t appreciate it enough.  I should not take this for granted.  I’m blessed to have eyes that can see the water ahead, and ears to hear nature (more on that shortly), and a nose to get all the smells, for better or worse, and a the functioning parts of my body to sit, and to just be.  What a gift that is.

Birds

And what a gift it is, to share this with some new animal pals.   I didn’t notice it right away, but my pastry was the draw.  Maybe in some alternate universe these charming birds were drawn to me.  In a way, it’s possible.  I hope they felt safe.  I hope they felt that this sweet treat was going to provide them with the happiest and harmonious nourishment, at least for that moment.

Birds2

With only one or two bites in, I had to wave the white flag here, and throw in the towel.  And that’s ok.   I wasn’t meant to much to have much of this.  And no, I did not eat any after the birds indulged.  That would be gross!

Yet, what was beautiful is this group of birds came together and shared this food with each other, like pals, like best friends, and like a family.

Birds3

It was beautiful thing to watch, and I got some great photos of this happening.  Hindsight being what it is, I wish I caught video.  Maybe I have it somewhere, and I’ll update this post again later.  Perhaps, the filming was not meant to be, and these photos are enough.

I hope wherever my new friends are, that they’re looking out for each other, sharing with one another, and protecting each other.  Because we can use more of that in this world.  I learn so much by watching groups of animals just be in sync with one another on so many levels.  It’s quite a spiritual and healing thing to see.

Birds4

The tea was great too, and no they weren’t interested in that one bit…

And not a knock on the tea, but when these birds arrived, I wasn’t interested in anything else but witnessing joy, happiness, rays of sunshine, and a moment in the summer and in time, that is one of those big things.

Peace Be With You…

Love,

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.

GreenGarden

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.

GreenGarden3

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.

GreenGarden2

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

BerryBerry1

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.

BerryBerry2

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.

BerryBerry4

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.

BerryBerryPastry2

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.

BerryBerryPastry3

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.

BerryBerry4

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

 

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

 

Same As It Ever Was…

LavandeDisplay1

Rockville, MD has seen so many changes in recent years.  These changes in these once historic towns are inevitable, necessary, and at times heartbreaking.  We can take comfort in the way things used to be, but also embrace what’s arrived, and that more is coming.

As many things do change, one of the constants (which has evolved to something special, but I haven’t attended in years…) is Rockville Hometown Holidays which celebrates Memorial Day with live music, food, street vendors, a farmers market, the parade, and all the other stuff that makes any festival, community, and party magnificent.

I have such fond memories of going with my family, to at least the parade part.  It was something to look forward to on the calendar every year.  It was the simplicity of just being at the parade, and appreciating the marching bands, the floats, the people, and the community groups of this fare city.

Yes, it’s more of a city now, then a town.  And so much has changed.  People grew up, got older, moved away, and moved on.  Yet there’s still a soul and spirit that remains.  The historic parts and older looking neighborhoods are still the majority and not there in spite of anything.  There’s still lots of character, all the while all these new places have shown themselves.

My family embraced that change.  They’ve been here in some form or another for nearly forty years.  So instead of fighting it (there’s nothing to fight really…), I welcome the change, because much of it is great.

Lavande

This includes the ever so charming Lavande Patisserie that opened several years ago, in one of the newer parts of Rockville, that is involved in this evolution.

LavandeMenu

The outside is just as welcoming as what’s going on indoors.  The pastry list is a joy, tremendous and I’ve shared many with my dad on the most random of days.  One  thing that has always stood out is their tea list.  If you aren’t paying attention you won’t see it.  They’re known for their coffee, which I will try down the line, but for the sake of this discussion, and the season, I went with something beautiful.

LavandeMatchaLemonade

The Matcha Lemonade is an absolute joy.  It was per the suggestion of the staff, and it was more so along the lines of what I wanted.  And while the teases of Spring and Summer are here, so are the change in teas.  This was wonderful.

LavandeDisplay2

One thing I forgot to do was stir.  The matcha is on the top and the lemonade is on the bottom.  I adore that.  I didn’t have my straw all the way down, so the first thought was why am I drinking this iced matcha.   This is why one (meaning me) should take their time and not rush things. So I take the straw a little further down, like a normal person would, and got that sweet lemonade taste.   I could have finished this in one sip, but this is not the point.  It should never be the point.  This is one to be savored, appreciated, and cherished.

LavandeVeganShortbreadCookie

I love this tea so much.   The lavender shortbread cookie that I was drawn to (or was drawn to me) was meant to be.  I almost didn’t want to eat it, it looked so pretty.  Those lavender pieces are a sight for all eyes.  What a joy this was.

The benefits of lavender in times of uncertainty are something else.  This place, this matcha, and this lavender, it all just found me.

LavandeDisplay3

I noticed looking across the street something so familiar.  There was a family connection, that only hit me as I started writing this story.  It’s the street where the parade I mentioned about earlier still takes place, after all this time. I get a laugh out of that, and then a feeling of sadness as well.

Life goes on, and as there’s much to be embraced, there will be much to miss.

Tell the people you love, that you love them.  As much as you can.  That you love them so much.  And when they pass, you will miss them so much.

Yet, you’ll always love them so much.

I love you so much.

I love you…

Love,

Ideen