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

And All In Good Time…

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I wanted to wait just a little while before getting into my quarterly tradition of raving about the seasonal teas from The Spice & Tea Exchange.  We are barely into autumn, and two of the three teas were out of the stock as of this post yesterday.  As of today, two of three are now available.  This is too funny, but it’s also the times we’re in.

I would say this is a faux pas of mine, and to some extent it is.  It also speaks volumes of how good these teas are, how much so many of us embrace the change of the season and the impending well, you know…, and the power of tea (here is their complete list of teas, available at their stores and to purchase online) and how so many of us love it for the art of drinking, as a hobby, a passion, and the way it makes us feel.   I think the place and the energy of many of their stores has a lot do with that.

Spice&TeaOldTownAlexandria

This time it brings me to where I was born, Alexandria, VA, and their charming shoppe in the heart of Old Town. That was not meant to be as dramatic it sounded.  Ah maybe it was…

A huge thank you to Jessica the manager for being so kind.

As I wrote about several months back, I was in a similar position spiritually, (and in many ways still am, and might be for a while) and a visit to a tea shoppe, especially their’s is always cleaning for the soul and the spirit.

I’ve been writing for long enough that the changing of the seasons is now synonymous with a visit to their stores, and knowing that three amazing teas will be presented to all of us.

And that’s exactly what happened once again.  These guys are incredible.  My past stories will confirm all of this.  

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It was still Summer when these teas were introduced and still Summertime when I bought these.  I along with some of my close friends know that we shouldn’t rush these things.  I had a sense that these flavors would be out of stock soon if not already.  The packs were on the low side, and I didn’t think to ask if more were coming.  You just know sometimes.

The three for us this time are the Tipsy Toffee, the Spiced Ruby Cider Herbal Tea (out of stock for now?), and the Pumpkin Chai Latte.

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The ingredients are all on the back of the packs.  I want to review this like I always do, with as light hearted and approachable as it can be.   If things overlap then that’ll happen naturally.  I have so much to say but sometimes the tea says all that need to be said, and we should embrace.

Here goes…

One thing that always stands out is while the aromas of their teas give the impression that they may be too sweet for many, but it’s so brilliantly deceptive.  It almost tastes exactly the opposite of what you would expect.  In many cases this is a good thing and I believe this is the intent.

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The Tipsy Toffee has the strongest scent of all in my opinion.  And while I love toffee, I was weary of how it would taste.  Nah I’m kidding.  It’s not that serious.  There’s nothing to be weary of haha.

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This is tremendous.  While you might think the butterscotch and caramel flavorings may be overpowering, they were anything but.  Everything has its place and complemented the other so well.   I’ve said this before but so much about tea is what you don’t taste immediately until seconds later, or even longer.  Understated yet endearing is what their teas are all about.  Beautiful.

Spice&TeaTipsyToffeeInfused

The color on the toffee among with the others was a little more special this time.  All credit goes to the dragonfly infuser, which is also available through them.  For significant, personal, and sentimental reasons I’m grateful to use this trusty friend for the first time, for this round of teas.

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The Spiced Ruby Cider had this color of red that is perfect for this season and matches the color of things to come.  Yes I’m thinking a little bit ahead too.  In order to brew this, I had to break the pieces up a little.

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Again, with cinnamon apple pieces, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, orange peels (I feel like a pendulum), cloves, and more cinnamon stuff, you would think this would be too sweet.  Even if was, I think it would be awesome.  The smell is great and once again this is a universally wonderful tea that everyone will love.  However, that’s for you to judge and judge alone.

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You can’t forget the Pumpkin Chai Latte.  This is why we celebrate autumn right?  We got more pumpkin then we know what to do with.   You wouldn’t know it here though.  And I’m not a fan of most chai, but once again this is nowhere near as rich and that full feeling chai you might expect.

I never tasted any whipped cream or caramel.  But it’s there and so is that pumpkin!

I thought this would be the most potent of the three and I felt it was actually the most tame.  This was my least favorite of the trios, and not in a bad way.   You can’t go wrong, and you can only go right with all of them.

This sounds like a heavy bias, but with few exceptions The Spice & Tea Exchange clearly knows how to make superb tea with a lot of soul and a lot of feeling behind it.

Yes you see sweet treats with each cup, and while they were merely for display, it’s to prepare us for indulgence, because indulgence is coming.  I’m so happy to begin the fall season with their teas and I’m so grateful for the opportunity once again.

Spice&TeaAppleCinnamonSugar

One last thing, when you buy 3 packs, you get a free packet of sugar.  What do with this Apple Cinnamon Crisp Sugar?  I answered my own question by maybe wanting to add to these teas, but maybe it’s meant for something else.

Peace Be With You, and there will be another story much sooner than later.  I’m purposely being vague because I honestly don’t know what’s next.

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All in good time…

Love,

Ideen

We All Have A…

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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.

JasmimeTea&Pastry

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

I Wish I Could Review Them All…

DocsIcedTeaDisplay

…And in time I will, but Doc’s Tea is giving me that feeling of joy, that I not only discovered something new, but something legitimately healthy, and still tastes great, tastes sweet, and tastes like summer.

I choose to acknowledge that we’re still in August.  Because we are. I’m going to focus on as many iced and cold beverages as I can, in this limited window of time, before we head to the next batch of drinks.  I’m already seeing signs of it and I can say it’s disheartening, it’s what it is, or it’s what it is…

It’s beautiful out.  Life is beautiful.  I look back on this particular day as one of discovery and I wasn’t really looking.   Isn’t that the best?  But if you do want to look and to find Doc’s, here is a list of locations.  My discovery was at a nearby Whole Foods.

With all the choices to make, I went with the two that seemed the most fitting to me, and for summertime.  Yes I’m all about summer and as I tend to keep saying, where did it go?  Where did the time go?  Seriously.  It’s all relative and has been moving at a constant, but this felt so bad.  Life is moving too fast.  Let me slow down before I forget about my thoughts on these incredible teas.

DocsTeas

The Pomegranate Acai and the Island Coconut are loaded with so much good, so much soul, spirit, and feeling that you can’t believe that this is good for you.  Well it’s good for you.

DocsInfo

Both these teas, along with all, are made with Rooibos Tea (which I love so much) and Monk Fruit (which I now love so much).  This is knowingly my first time experiencing something this amazing fruit from Asia, that makes me asks a lot of questions.  But I don’t want to ask too many.  I should just appreciate it for what it is in that moment, and as I write about it now.  How could something so sweet be out of my radar for so long?  Have we only started using Monk Fruit as a sugar alternative?  Whatever the case, this makes this iced tea stand out among the endless of amount of choices.

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I love Acai, and pomegranate, and to have this be so real, so natural, and so easy to drink is something to behold with all the senses.  Phenomenal.

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The same goes for the Island Coconut.  How is this possible?  Coconut water has become popular in at least the last decade, but not like this.  This is the best tasting coconut water I can remember.  Mixed in with Rooibos and it’s an absolute delight.  I can’t put even into words how amazing this is.  Even though I just said some words, I’m still speechless.  The store is closed as I write this, so I can’t have any right now, and that makes me sad.  But there’s always tomorrow!

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But drinking these gems of iced teas won’t make anyone sad.  This is some of the best bottled tea I’ve ever had.  And I’ve had a lot.  We all have.  I might be overstating things and overly excited but that’s the point of this.  I feel good and grateful to be writing about something so beautiful.  All of this is beautiful.

As is their story…

DocsAbout

The amazing folks behind this comprise of dentists and a dental hygienist.  It’s a family, it’s a team of marvels, it’s a group of geniuses.  This is genius, and the story behind this makes me want to do something this awesome.  There’s fruits and other entities of the earth that are untouched, or barely touched that are just waiting to be discovered, explored, and created, like these amazing teas have been.

I’m inspired, and so will you.

If and when I write about them, the words may be slightly different, but the sentiments will remain the same.

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First class and world class…

Stay healthy and peace be with you…

Ideen

 

From The Heart to the Soul

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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

 

 

Thank You For The Sun, The One That Shines On Everyone…

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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.

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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.

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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