The Sweetest Harvest

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This will likely be my last tea post before Thanksgiving, and the timing could not have been better.  After my stories that have involved multiple tea reviews in each, I wanted to scale it back down to one.

I wanted it to be as simple as can be.  I wanted it to be as approachable and welcoming as most of my posts are intended to be.

With that, I take back to an old friend, Celestial Seasonings.

I have a relationship with Celestial that goes back a ways.  Two years ago I dedicated the bulk of the holidays to a bunch of their different themed teas (you can find those posts along with my entire Celestial Seasonings archive here).

Here is where you can find them at a store near you, the online buying option, their contact info, and more about this great company in general.

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After all that, a time to talk about the Sweet Harvest Pumpkin has been long overdue and then some.

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While I may have rushed some of my other selections to make it by my self imposed deadlines, this simple and cozy tea was one I chose to take my time with.

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I have to laugh here.  I would likely lose count on the amount of times I’ve raved about a tea, and said oh there’s cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and natural (or artificial haha) flavors of pumpkin and all the joys of fall.  I’m a cheese ball I know.  I get sentimental and partial to the similar styles and ingredients that all these pumpkin teas contain.

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But you know where the difference comes from?  It comes from who provides the tea, and the soul behind it.  If it’s a company you’ve been sipping from for years, you’re going to have a bias.  And even if the teas aren’t always up to par, you’ll give a certain company the benefit of the doubt over the other.  How I’m writing this might make it seem like I’m going to cover up how I feel about this tea.

No, I love this tea.  And the other major difference besides my love for Celestial Seasonings is the addition of Stevia.  You may have heard of it.

It enhances this black tea with pumpkin (and yes all the joys of fall) combination to a different place.  I must say I truly like this, but it makes me wonder how the tea would taste without it.   Or have I missed the boat, and do all these teas use Stevia or something similar?  I almost feel lost here.

Well no need to beat myself up.  I’m going with the belief and education that this is just a tad different than the other pumpkin selections I’ve had the pleasure of drinking.  But because the taste is so pronounced, was this sweetener needed?

And that’s it for the serious questions.   I’m a fan of this tea and a have of what they’re all about.  Their brand is one of my go to’s in my house.  I’ll drink their teas even if they don’t apply to the season or weather.

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This leads me to my display that I’m quite proud of.  I threw some things together and I think it came out alright.  It’s another in the transition from one season to another, but not really.  This holiday season, at least for me, has blended together a lot better than I remember.

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I choose to be oblivious of the commercial and superficial part of the holidays.   For me, what’s most important, at any time of year, is focusing on the simple, the joyous, and the good.  Those are all synonyms of each other, and that’s my point.   This time of year is a time to reflect and appreciate all that you have, and all that you have.  You see what I’m saying?  I’m talking to myself when I say all this.

It’s the most beautiful and heartening time of year if you let it.  I know, for me at least and many others, it can be harder at times.  But it’s the storms before the calm as I like to say.

This tea is my calm.  This week will be a mix of storms and calms, with a whole bunch of food, people, and parties thrown in.  But this tea is my calm.

The representations of these beautiful dogs are my calm.   I always like to focus on the simple, but something is hitting me right now to be a little more humbled and appreciative than usual.   Ah this time of year.

I love this tea, and the fact that I’ve been afforded this opportunity to deviate from my weekly post speaks to the amount of amazing autumn and holiday teas there are.

This is going to continue, with what schedule I don’t know.   As I write all this I realize I’m going away from the living in the moment, being here now, and being where I am.

This is where I’ll go back to having my cup of the sweetest harvest pumpkin, and being in awe of my tribute to my animal friends, and all the other things that make me happy.

I’m happy that one cup of tea and the place I’m in got me to write so much.   For that I’m grateful.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Springtime Feelings In The Middle Of…

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So this felt quick.  Well when you do three posts in three days, it feels about right and it fells relative.  But I think I’m just getting started.

After the first two posts (you can find them here and here respectively) from one of my favorite places of all time, Wegmans, (click here to find a store near you).

I’m feeling a tad emotional. Why I don’t know.  I just tend to get emotional.  It’s not like the teas and store is going anywhere. If anything this is only beginning.   I feel like we use that term, ‘it’s only the beginning’, or ‘we’ve only just begun’ a lot, but it’s true.   There’s so much tea and so much time to talk about it.

Absolutely.

The Jasmine Globe Tea is exactly that.  It’s shaped like a globe and during steeping it blooms into a flower.  Well that was the intent.

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I just love the look of this tea.  It’s almost too beautiful for it to be brewed.  But then again, I can always save another piece or two to admire.  I mean look at this thing. How this was fused in the way it was is a marvel.  I bet it wasn’t that difficult, but I like to think this was done with such precision to get every herb, flower, spice, and everything else to look like perfection.

It smelled like perfection.  However, during infusing it didn’t quite break up to be like the flower it was meant to be.  I tried with and without the infuser.  Maybe it was me, maybe the water wasn’t hot enough, or maybe it was something else.

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But the smell of jasmine takes me back to my childhood.  I just recall it being in parts of potpourri, air fresheners, and even parts of various foods my parents could cook up.  It’s those scents that remind me of you holidays and celebrations past.  It’s not always the best of memories, but this one reminds me of many other people, not just relatives, going back in time.   I’m sure you have familiar scents and tastes that remind you of something from growing up, or maybe even more recently.  That’s my take on it, and this tends to manifest itself more so this time of year.

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The taste was not at profound as the aroma, but it was just right.  Too much jasmine might not work on the mouth at times.  This was meant to be exactly how it was intended.  I celebrate that spring time feeling with one of my favorite cups and we segue and tease future holiday celebrations with some more of my favorite decor, and some pumpkin spice oatmeal.

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One of my most favorite birthday presents ever, the beautiful black labrador retriever plate, is back for an encore.  It should be part of the main set and every encore!

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Last and certainly not the last (for now), is the Apple Pie Chai Rooibos.  Try saying that a few times without messing that up!

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This was the only tea that listed the ingredients on the bag.   Did every other tea have nothing except what was in the tea itself?   I still enjoy the vague, wine like descriptions of these teas, and will always find unintentional humor in them.

There’s ways to describe tea and then there’s ways to describe tea.

The Apple Pie might have had my favorite tint after completion.  It looks more orange but that’s due in part to orange peel and orange lemongrass.   The inclusion of apple pieces, cinnamon and hibiscus flowers make this the happiest of teas for the season.

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I love this one so much.

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I didn’t have any apple pie but some apple cider and pumpkin pretzels is just as viable as an alternative.   There will be more mentions of apple cider and similar teas as we progress.

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But right now there’s still plenty of time to celebrate autumn, November, Thanksgiving, and all the good that comes with it.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and the celebrations that will ensue makes me warm inside.  It gives me butterflies and makes me thankful for good family, good friends, and good health.

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I hope you enjoyed this trilogy.  This is it for now.   But there’s so much time for me to seek out some more approachable and welcoming holiday teas.  The traditional weekly post will be back, but not just yet.

I got a few more things in mind starting this weekend, into next week, and leading in to the big day.

I wish you good health and a happy holiday season.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Trying To Carry On Tradition…

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Literally right under my nose has been this incredible display of loose teas from Wegmans itself (some under the ITO EN umbrella), and until earlier today, I didn’t pay it any mind.  Shame on me, but also I understand that maybe there was a reason it took so long to get around to trying their loose teas.

The reason might be that I’m dedicated the next three posts, over the next three days to six of their teas total.  So this is where the bonus posts are going to start showing up.  There’s so many holidays and only so much time.

As Christmas displays begin to take over the front display cases and several aisles in not just your local Wegmans but many a store,  I want to live in the moment.  We’re still over a week from Thanksgiving, winter is over a month away, and it’s still November, so let us celebrate that before we look too far ahead.

Over the next three days I will do six total teas.  So two a day.  I wish I could do more, but time and the sake of brevity may not allow that at this time.   Coming up with the right teas for the right time of a year is only challenging if you let it.  Well I let it.  There’s so many teas I want to talk about, that I will do my best to get to them this week and next week.  And then it will be time for the winter, Christmas, and all the other holiday themed teas we look forward to.

Well there I go maybe not living in the moment.   But the moment is now

First, I want to give the proper acknowledgement to Wegmans for allowing its customers to put as little or as much loose tea as we want to put in these respective bags.   Some of my bags cost under $1.00.  That’s service with a smile and at a price we all can agree with.

First up is the Salted Caramel Pumpkin Dream.  Now like all these bags, they all smelled good initially.  The aromas will stay with you even after steeping and boiling.  Yet this tea was my least of the bunch.   Nothing about this translated any further.  It had no body, no structure, and not much to offer.   It felt like an easy sipping tea that doesn’t really inspire.  It’s a tea that serves its purpose but not much else.  To call it a tea that’s just kind of there would be apropos.  And whenever pumpkin is involved, that’s even all the more disappointing.

I didn’t taste much in the way of caramel.  It was more chocolate like to me.  I just felt like there wasn’t much substance to it.

The antithesis of that would be the Creamy Vanilla Pumpkin. Not only did it tasted like it smelled, but it’s a splendid tea that I could have all year round.  And thankfully as these canisters tend to near its end for the season, I saved a bunch in these bags for me.  And this one I will look forward to enjoying even after the season passes.

And in my many ways the season passes before it ever really begins.  It almost seems that were already preparing for pumpkin season next year.  What is the rush in life?  Lets enjoy now.  This is a tea to enjoy now and quite honestly forever.  The same could be said about many teas.

Yes, some people are purists when it comes to pumpkin season.   I might be one of them.  I love the traditions.  The title of this post says so, so it must be true…

But in all seriousness, if you can get your hands on the Creamy Vanilla Pumpkin, I would encourage you to do so.  It’s possible as we get closer to Thanksgiving, you might even be able to get it at a discount rate.  I wish I would elaborate on what the ingredients are, but sometimes things are better left to interpretation.  It’s a fantastic tea and maybe there’s no need for any more than that.

And it went nice with some pumpkin O’s.  Yes any chance to find anything pumpkin I’m all for it.  My pantry is loaded with pumpkin stuff that I may eat into next year, but don’t tell anyone ok?

But I said live in the moment, not tomorrow, not next year, but the here and the now.  And while people tell me to be where I am, I need to remind myself of that fact.

So during these next few posts you will see teases of Christmas but also a celebration of now, Thanksgiving, and various cups, treats, and displays that not only make me happy now but all year round.  It’s a celebration of so many things, which is what the holidays are all about.

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I look forward to this part of the journey and I’m so grateful to change up the posts and shake things up a bit.

To find a Wegmans near you, click here.  And here’s my history of posts from this iconic and landmark grocery store.

Have a blessed one and you’ll be hearing from me tomorrow.

Ideen

Sipping Joyfully

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I love fall.  I also love that I have all this time between now until the holidays to revel in all of these wonderful teas.  And believe the best is here and the best will still be coming.  It’s going to be a perpetual thing.  Well unless I find a stinker.

And this week is anything but a stinker.   But while I tend to do a decent amount of repeats from some of my favorite teas and companies, I’ve forgotten about my go to’s and my old reliable’s.  Old reliable’s sounds like such a demeaning term.  But that’s not what I’m intending at all.  But how on earth that the last time and only time I talked about Tazo was in January of 2015.

Just become something is so accessible and available doesn’t mean we should take it for granted.  As we know, Tazo is most likely in a store or shoppe minutes from you, and that’s something to be celebrated and appreciated.   I’m going to show my appreciation for two beautiful teas that I just discovered over the weekend, the Organic Baked Cinnamon Apple and the Sweet Cinnamon Spice. Yes these two gems not express what’s good about fall, but what’s good and beautiful about life.

First up, the Cinnamon Apple, once again demonstrates how good rooibos is as a tea.  My ever growing of rooibos teas posts can be found here, but before I digress, I want to explain just how amazing this tea is.   Not only is there rooibos but that other charming taste is chamomile.  To blend these two teas together to create something so delightful is a work of art.

But of course you can’t forget the two featured flavors, apple and cinnnamon.  If you’re into these flavors as a part of your daily breakfast, say via oatmeal, an apple on its own, or throwing cinnamon on top of anything (I absolutely adore cinnamon and try to add it to whatever I possibly can within reason), this is another reason to celebrate.

I enjoyed this in the comfort of my friends’ house, with no added treats necessary at all.  I’m all for pairing a tasty snack, pastry, or yummy piece of food with my tea, but sometimes a tea is best had alone.   I let the bag steep for a while, and kept in my cup, while drinking,  The chamomile and rooibos are the perfect counterbalance for the apple and cinnamon.  This tea is magical.

Not to be outdone is the Cinnamon Spice.  This one I liked but it had a little more kick to it, where it was one of those semi-rare instances where I had take the bag out of my cup because it was a little sweeter than I expected.  And don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed this for different reasons.  This is perfect for the colder weather months as well.  And I suspect I will have a newer found appreciation for it then.   But it still warmed my heart, my stomach, and my soul.  There’s rooibos in here too, along with a whole bunch of other goodness such as licorice root, orange peel, almond extract, and of course, the cinnamon.

I think I would give the edge to the Cinnamon Apple just for the simplicity of it.  But I would highly recommend either for your peaceful, change of temperature, or any other celebration that makes you feel good, and makes you feel at peace.  Both of these teas did just that.  And being in the friendly confines of a pals house with some lovely company of dogs will make any tea that much better.   No dog pictures here.  I’ll save that for a Pet Blog, if I feel inspired to do so.

Tazo has so many incredible teas that there’s no time to get them all.  Well maybe there is.  But it won’t be that long before I get to them again.  If I discover some more gems that fit with whatever time of year it is, I’ll be sure to give them their proper due.

Here is more about Tazo, all the good that they do, and their contact information.

I adore fall, and I can’t wait to see what I get into next week.  I look forward to sharing it with you.

And never mind what I said earlier, here’s some fun dog pics!

Take good care and have a blessed one.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn In Annapolis 2.0

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Time just keeps on moving.  It’s really starting to feel like fall, with a few days feeling bright and sunny.  That sounds like Maryland weather.  That sounds like a return engagement to Annapolis.  Well it’s actually just part two of what I started last week…

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I wish I could write about Spice & Tea Exchange every week.  I’ve written about them quite a bit (those stories can be found here), and it never gets old, and their seasonal teas, along with all their teas, continue to amaze, dazzle, inspire, and inspire some more.

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This week I change up the infusers and this one seems a little more light hearted, less serious, and will make anyone feel good.   The Duck Infuser is one you want to put in your pocket for safe keeping, because it’s just so adorable and so worthy of protection.  And it’s adorable resting spot is fit for a king, or a duckie!  Yay!

But it also provided one of the most effortless and enjoyable steeping and sipping experiences I can recall.  They’re all fun but this one seemed to flow just all the more organically.

First up is the Caramel Apple Tea.  This once again first presents itself as a tea loaded with fruits and spice that you might think would take away from what a tea is all about.  If you think that, you would be wrong.  When I initially smelled this tea I smelled loads of cinnamon and apple, but didn’t take into account this is a black tea from China and India combined.

This was absolutely stunning, visually and on sipping.    How pretty is that color?  I got more of the black tea then any of all the fall flavors.  And that’s just fine with me.  It makes sense, since there’s loads of caffeine, which is helping the thoughts and ideas flow a little quicker and with more alertness.  And it’s all natural my friends.

This was appropriately served with an apple round danish.  More for display but it tasted great too, and fits perfectly with the fall theme.

Next up, is the one that intrigued me the most.  But not in a way that outshines the other three limited time teas.  It’s just that the Custard Tart Herbal Tea is a melange of fall and those colors that you would hope would match the picture.  This is quite yellow.   That would be the butternut squash pieces along with maybe a few other things.   I dig that there are pecans in it.   This is creativity at its finest.

And no my tea did not brew as yellow as a butternut squash soup.  It didn’t actually smell as bold as when I first smelled the jar at their Annapolis store.  But when you’ve gotten so many scents from not just the teas, but getting a whiff of their sugars, the spices, and seasonings, can cause your mind may go delirious, it may think you’re getting something you’re not.  This is not a knock, this is just my observation and experience.

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Nevertheless, this was another enjoyable one.  There’s a lot going on here, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger.  persimmon, orange, allspice, among so much more.  Everything brings value, even if you or I aren’t able to taste anything and everything at once or after reach respective and upcoming sip.   With all this goodness, it would make me sad for anything to get lost in the shuffle.

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A coconut custard danish was served for this round.

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With that being said, I felt inspired to add a little Pumpkin Pie Sugar I talked about last week, to my cup.  And it blended perfectly.  Fall and life is all about adding fun stuff to the equation.  I wouldn’t ordinarily add anything on top of my tea, but I wanted to experiment, and the Spice & Tea Exchange is so good with ideas and suggestions.  This one fell in my lap.  And I’m grateful for that.

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But what I’m most grateful is my friends helping out with the accessories.  Once again thanks so much to my dear friend Rebecca for providing the Annapolis based mug, and my new friend Sara who works at one of the coolest stores in town, Local By Design, for suggesting the Blue Crab Mug.  They’re pictured this week as well as featured in the other two seasonal teas I reviewed from last week.

To learn more about  Spice & Tea Exchange, here is their story, all their items, and to find a location hopefully near you. Thankfully, you can order everything online, if there isn’t  a shoppe near you.

And for more on Local By Design, here is their story, and items available to purchase online.  If you get a chance to visit, either if you’re local or on vacation, I think this is well worth a visit.  You can get lost easily, as I did, as there’s so many levels and rooms to this place.  It’s loaded with substance on the surface and in a spiritual sense.   As promised I’ve added more picture for your visual pleasure.

It’s so early in the season.  I have some idea of where we go from here, and got lots of time and lots of teas to figure out what’s next.  This was so fun, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from the gems of Annapolis.

I sincerely hope you’re enjoying your fall, your day, your week, and everything in general.  This is that warm and fuzzy time of year, that might make you feel, well…

Have a blessed one, and take good care.

CustardTartXOXO

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

 

 

Embracing Everything

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I thought my experience with Mother Kombucha would be a one and done.  Well that isn’t entirely accurate.  After this incredible experience last week, I thought the next time I’d sample and sip this fermented goodness would be the next time I return, which I’m tentatively thinking will be in the next couple of months.

Yes so this looks like this will be a trilogy, at least.  And I just love how this came together.

On my next to last day in beautiful Downtown St. Petersburg, I went for a run, because it’s beautiful out, it’s sunny, it’s glorious, and even though I was there for some rain, most of that held off and I could appreciate and embrace this new place that seems to embrace everyone in kind.  At least that’s how I felt.

And when I meant run, that means stop and appreciate how charming this location is.   I did a lot of walking, a lot of taking pictures, and enjoyed many of the sights, the sounds, and all this incredible energy I was feeling in and around downtown.

I had no length of time for how long this little mini journey would go.  Vacation is not about planning and having everything be formulaic.  It’s about organically experiencing all there is to experience.

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And without forcing the issue, it happened once again.   I ended up in this oasis, where everything around me is beautiful to begin with.  But the Saturday Morning Market in Williams Park is one of those most glorious things I’ve ever experienced.  Yes I just said that a farmers market was as amazing an event or occurrence I’ve had the privilege of being a part of.  It’s the littlest things that are the biggest things, that resonate with me forever.

I took my time, appreciated the food vendors, the fresh fruits and veggies, the small businesses, and wouldn’t you know it, a whole host of tea vendors.  I could do at least two more posts from here, and I may get around to them.  But after a few minutes, the most inviting of booths was that of Mother Kombucha.

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I must reiterate how beautiful this park and market is.  Everyone seemed so happy.

We were meant to be meet again, attracting one another like magnets.  Life is funny and comforting that way.

The girl working the table could not have been nicer.   They had kombucha on tap and plenty of promos to sell and to giveaway.   I did take some pictures but most of all I got the Goji Grape, which is on par, with the Lavender Mojito from last week.

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If that sounds like a cop out or I can’t make up my mind, then fair enough.  But how do you compare two amazing flavors that are on another level from drinking your standard soft drinks with toxic additives and other substances no one should be touching?   I appreciate what I’m drinking for what it is.

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It’s something natural, healthy, organic, designed for us yet it comes from a place much bigger than us.

When it comes to Mother Kombucha, I don’t know what else to say.  Maybe nothing else needs to be to said.

And being in such a warm environment, yet not knowing anyone (recurring theme on this trip) felt good.  People at the market all seemed to know each other and a few folks nodded and said hello to me, like I was a regular fellow and one of them.  It’s that hospitality of the south and I felt even a different kind on the Gulf Coast.

It was all so beautiful and natural.  Yes I was on vacation, yet I felt like I belonged here.

Then after all this romanticizing, the rain came.  And it kept coming.  Yet it felt like it was only coming down at the market and no where else.  Across the street seemed sunny and as clear as day.

Maybe the universe was telling me something, telling us something, and what that is not quite clear.   Maybe I will figure that out when it comes to complete the trilogy.

And I say that with the understanding that I’ve been invited to check out the facility the next time I’m back.  It would be my honor and I look forward to making my return to a place that feels like home to me.

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I’ll see you soon St. Pete and I’ll see you soon Mother Kombucha.

For more on Mother Kombucha, click here for their story, their brew list,  where you can buy, and their contact info.

The Saturday Morning Market runs till August 26th, so if you’re in the area, I encourage you to support everything this beautiful space has to offer.

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To be continued, when is to be determined…

Thanks so much,

Ideen