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.

Spice&TeaStore

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

 

 

An Attitude of Gratitude…

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

GTsKombuchaLivingInGratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…grateful…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

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….

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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.

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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.

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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

We All Have A…

PurposeTea5

Until a few week ago, I had never heard of purple tea.

I hadn’t heard of the brand Purpose either.  There’s first times for everything.  I’m all for first times.  I hope this isn’t the last.  Here is where to buy.

PurposeTea

That brand name sounds so powerful, and so is this tea.  There’s a lot of heart, soul, and passion put into all of this.  From the label, to the logo, to the tea itself, and with a story (and impact…) that will inspire anybody.  I’m inspired.

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When you have three different teas to choose from, then why not try all three?  There’s all kinds of firsts to quench your thirst.  Yes I just thought of that.  Funny I know…

The Purple Reign, Lemon Bliss, and Mint To be has beautifully similar ingredients, which are few and masterful.  The natural lemon flavor, and the mint extract are what makes the latter two teas so special.

Upon first sip this may not wow you, because it’s so healthy and so well intended for you.  After each drink I felt a connection.  I felt a connection to the tea, to the good nature behind it, and to good nature.  This is first class and while it’s different, it resonates to me from somewhere familiar, and somewhere divine.  Where that place is, I don’t know exactly, but it’s somewhere within me, and within all of us.

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While I write this the weather isn’t my friend. It’s dark, it’s gloomy, and it’s maybe a place in time that’s supposed to be happening.

Thankfully, these pictures were taken while the days are still long (and they still are, for while), and the flowers and plants are still full of so much life.  While it’s still summer, the fall flowers are showing up on front porches, on stoops, and on a deck near you.

So I enjoy my teas in all their glory and surrounded by nature.  These tea leaves just, well, I don’t know.  I have nothing to compare it too, but why should I?  Maybe this tea needs no comparison.  Not yet at least.

I honestly forgot how much I paid per bottle.  But if it was $2 or $3, or even more, I’m not complaining.   Of course you want the best tasting tea for what you pay for.  But I wanted an experience.  I wanted to feel something.  And while I may say this consistently across various posts, that it might lose it’s luster, it’s perfectly fine to feel something as much as possible.

It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for me lately.  And maybe more for you.  I had all kinds of ideas, and things to write about this summer that may never see the light of day.  I had intentions of making more than one post a week.  That didn’t happen.  I had to take a break here and there to deal with many matters.   I know this has nothing to do with the tea, but in some ways it does…

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I feel like I’ve had an issue of what my purpose is lately, and the writing is one of the many things that gave me purpose.  How apropos is that I find this tea, or this tea found me.  Maybe we found each other.

And I’m still here, we’re all this here, still breathing, and full of purpose.

Peace be with you.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Mochi Ice Cream Party! Yay!

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I’m glad I discovered this now.  But what took me so long to notice or even try Mochi ice cream.

To be late to the party is ok, I did show up.  I have friends that raved about this decadent dessert for a number of years (or so they told me), and it either never registered, or it just didn’t register.

It didn’t resonate.   And I’m all about trying new foods, new beverages, and new anything.  This is what life is all about.   A always joyful and welcome drive to Trader Joe’s (I may have written about them once or twice…) means sampling some new food and drink (the free sample area used to be called the Tasting Oasis, yay free samples!), and of course purchasing so many of their great items, usually brand exclusive to them.

Then there’s the Buono Group, which I had also never heard of until a few days ago.   I thought for sure they were exclusive to TJ’s (find one near you), but if you do a search (couldn’t find on their site), there in more stores than just the one.   It’ll always be at where I found it to me, along with this incredible aftertaste that’s still with me after a few hours later.

MochiIce

Strawberry and Matcha Green Tea were the flavors available and I was happy to grab both…

MochiIceInfo

All the info is presented to you in the pictures above, so there’s no need to me to go on an elaborate diatribe about the texture and depth of Mochi Ice.  I love so much about this.  What a great dessert idea, and in a world of unlimited ideas and creations, this is well done on so many levels.

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Both are Gluten, Dairy, and Soy Free.  Vegan, no trans fats, and made with coconut milk.  If I ate both of these without knowing that, I wouldn’t notice the difference, aside from a lighter and healthier feeling, so maybe.

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But I loved these both so much.  The strawberry tastes exactly how you would want it to, and it’s lower on calories and all the bad stuff that there’s no guilt and only pleasure in eating this.  Not that you should ever feel bad about eating something that makes you feel good, as long as it’s done in a fashion that makes you feel good.

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The matcha as always is an acquired taste.  There’s a sweeter element to this that takes that (to some) rough green tea taste and makes it all the more merrier.

Speaking of merrier, the packaging and pictures will charm anyone.  I find these images adorable.  Everything about this is fun, and it’s the big and little things that always make a an experience that much more memorable.  It separates the meals from the out of this world experiences.  This one leans towards the latter for me.   There’s a first time for everything and I’m grateful this was my first encounter with Mochi Ice Cream.

Of course while we’re in the summer, this is something for now.  Yet it’s something for any time.  This is it to be enjoyed, be entertained by, and appreciated.

It’s all in the same of good food, good times, and feeling good.

This was fun.

Peace Be With You.

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