‘Tis The…

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Well I doubt anyone is going to raise a fuss that I’m changing the subject matter this week.  Just a little…

The pumpkin season is still going but then it feels like it’s going…. away… This is happening a lot faster than I remember.   Maybe it’s just me?

Something feels different.  But to you maybe it feels like par for the course or business as usual.  For me, I know what has changed.  A lot of has changed this year for me.  So the sentimentality has grown yet it feels different.  I’m not that young yet I still feel like a kid around this time of year.

I write this as my cat lays on my lap.  As she usually does.  She’s a bit older now too, but is just as cute if not cuter than ever.  We’re a week from Thanksgiving so a lot of this is heightened.  The love and sadness is growing all at once.  Maybe this is how it was always meant to be…

While I love tea, and I will always love tea (and many holiday themed posts are coming the rest of the year), something about fresh apple cider warms my heart too.  There’s no pun here.  As much as I love warm cider, and will be having my fair share in the weeks to come, something about it being cold just does it for me as well.

Trader Joe’s does it for me too.  It always has and each time I walk into one, I just feel good.  I feel like a kid, and it feels like the holidays all year round.  I wonder if that’s what they intended, or is it just me?  I think I just said that.  Maybe it’s all encompassing.

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Their Organic Cold Pressed Spiced Fuji Cider containing just three ingredients (organic apple juice, organic cinnamon powder, organic dried clove) is an absolute hit.  I mean that’s it.  I could stop writing now and leave on a high note.

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Yet sitting outside at the time I sipped this, it was warm, it still felt autumn like, dare I say spring like.  This was just a few weeks ago.  Now here we are and it’s the first signs of wintry precipitation.  That makes me sad to say.  But it’s symbolic of so many things.  I live in an area where we get four seasons, and that’s a cool thing that not everyone gets to experience.  The great memories we have as children tend to resurface now.  We reconnect with people we don’t always see, don’t see enough, and wish we could see more.

While I was sitting out on this day, I was thinking about things.  When you’re by yourself that can tend to happen.  I was thinking about people, friends, family, animals, and so many other things I love.  Sometimes thoughts can drive you up the wall, but sometimes they can keep you humbled.  I like the latter.

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What also keeps me humbled and honest are the treats that Trader Joe’s comes up with.  You’re getting things here you’re not getting anywhere else.  The Spiced Pumpkin Madeline Cookies might still be on a shelf at a store near you.  If you can, get them all!  They’re habit forming for sure.

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As an added bonus, I also sampled their Green Cold Pressed Juice.  I know this has been a thing for a while, with juice cleanses, and to assist in physical and spiritual healing.  I’m no expert on that.  It had a great taste to it, and I hope that whatever you’re drinking is bringing you joy, no matter what time of year.

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Maybe that’s for after the holidays when more of us will be wanting to get back into a healthier lifestyle.  I would say that we can enjoy food, drinks, life, friends any time of year without having to worry too much about trying to make up for it in the new year.  This is not meant to be sermon.  I’m just getting sentimental as I tend to do.

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We’re not even at Thanksgiving yet but my mind like this post is all over the place.  I hope it brought you some joy, just like the cider has and will hopefully do for you.

More to come and Happy Early Thanksgiving!

Love,

Ideen

 

Giving Thanks…

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Some people have had their fill   No not me.  It’s early November and I’m still here celebrating all the good from not just pumpkins, but cider encompasses more of the holiday season.  I did just say those magical words.

I love all the colors, the scents, the flavors, and most of all, the images of what this time of year has to offer.  There’s good in all facets of life, in all times of year, and life in general.   But this part of the calendar can or could lead to a million and one emotions.  You know what I’m talking about here.

Even with potential obstacles, challenges, and hopefully the best memories possible rising to the surface, there’s so much to love about this time of year.   That includes a gem of teas from one of my favorite places The Fresh Market.

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Their pumpkin spice tea was down to its last few canisters that I only felt it was right to snag one.  So for that this review may be a few weeks too late, but with Thanksgiving being a bit of a ways away, I don’t see the rush to get into the winter teas just yet.  Yet we’re seeing more than hints of all these holiday favorites.   So there may be one or two more fall like posts that need to be dusted off, within all the pending commotion.

There’s a lot to love about this, yet it’s so simple.  In a constantly busy time and world, simple is always welcome.

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I have so much pumpkin tea stored away, that I drink it all year round.  It may defeat the purpose, but why waste such great tea? Why waste tea anyways?  That’s right…

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When discovering this immaculate fall display, I just had to buy the exquisite pair of pumpkin spice and apple cider cookies from Dewey’s Bakery.

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At 12 calories a piece (I know right!), you can get carried away in enjoying them.  But that is what this season and life can be all about.  If you’re enjoying these moments, these experiences, and the joys of fall, then there’s no need to feel bad or guilty about any of this.  Indulgence on your own or with loved ones can lead to some of the best memories of all.  That can happen any time of year.

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Warning, these cookies are habit forming.  Paired with this tea, it’s a winner.  I only wish I got to talking about this much sooner.

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If time and the universe allows I may dust off a couple of more gems from the fall.  Maybe in retrospect.  There’s just so much to choose from, and so many can sadly get lost in the shuffle through no fault of their own.  With all the greatness of fall and the wide away of foods and teas to choose from, I wish I could dedicate more time to all of this.

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Happy November, Happy Holiday Season, and I wish you much happiness!

With that being said, more to come…

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And maybe more from The Fresh Market (locations here)…

Oooo I see cider up there!  Yes free samples are the best!

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

 

Feeling Grateful – Part III

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That doesn’t mean I’ve only been grateful for three visits on this journey.  That would defeat the purpose of what’s happening here.  Matcha Time Cafe is one of my favorite places to visit (Part 1 and 2 can be found here) anywhere.  It’s more than just my love for Ellicott City, (even though that only enhances experience) it’s a love of local business, and a the people behind it.

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The space and time between this and the last visit was much less, and I suspect that this will continue.  For this visit, it was a quiet Friday afternoon, unplanned, and in some ways my favorite of the three.  But they’ve all been my favorite.  Something about this had a feel, just like most experiences area.  Something just felt safe, felt secure, felt even more safe, and felt like home.

This was just that much more safe, it was essential, and it was one of those feelings that can’t be explained.

We’re all in weird places from time to time.  Hopefully for the most part we’re in harmonious ones that when we go somewhere safe and happy, that feeling is that much more amplified.  Otherwise, a place like Matcha is just that much more needed.  I don’t like that word ‘need’, because it represents lack.  But sometimes those lacks need (oops) to be filled.  That comes from within, but it helps to get assistance from friends, from good food, of course good tea, and sometimes from people you don’t even know.

You know when things are comfortable and great when you can relax and the owner (who is also a friend) is working off to the side, and we can enjoy some conversation, but even better in some instances, silence.    I mean of course there was tea.  Let me get to that now.

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Ah it’s now really fall, and that means these endearing lists of teas, coffees, and ciders.  And there’s is as charming as it gets.    Funny how I’ve never had the Pumpkin Spice Tea from Matcha before, so let’s do it.

I had multiple cups and each one just tasted better than the other.  And that speaks to the power and quality of the loose tea itself.  If you can get multiple cups with lots of flavor remaining, all is good with the universe.   I took my time with each cup.  Then somewhere along the way…

Let’s have some chicken curry.  What a perfect dish for this time of year.   It was still bright enough outside and there’s this crisp coolness that just feels right, but also tells you that well, yeah not yet….

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This food and tea combination felt like a home cooked meal.   But in so many ways I felt like I was at home.  This was happiness.  I got comfortable, and maybe too comfortable, but is that such a bad thing?

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I shouldn’t have to question joy.  No one should.   I’m in a place of healing and it take a while, maybe forever to be healed.  Yet there’s always time to feel good and to feel better.  I felt so good here.  I lost track of time.  I felt like I was here 20 minutes, yet I was here nearly three hours.    That’s when you know peace.  We’re capable of attracting so much peace and harmonious feelings regardless of what the outside world presents itself.

The view of the outside world on this day was pretty amazing.  There was an outdoor wedding about to be held.  It was cool to see the set-up to the start of the ceremony.  Across the way live music was about to take place.  I forgot this was a Friday, and fun things like that tend to happen.   I could have stayed here, but maybe it was time to join the outside world.  Well that and they were about to close.

I like to think they stayed opened longer so I could feel as safe as long as possible.  Maybe I left before closing.  I don’t remember.  But I know I could have stayed there for a while.  I did but you know, a while…

My friend gave me a hot apple cider to go, and it was beautiful.  Cider is one of those comfort drinks that I should drink more often, but then maybe it wouldn’t feel so special. Again, happiness should never have an arbitrary amount of or anything like that. No.

I joined the concert with my cider, and I didn’t know a single soul, and it felt wonderful.  I felt connected to everyone while not knowing anybody.  Maybe somebody was going through something similar.  Maybe because I’m a in a place I’m not a regular, that people smiled at me just to say, everything’s going to be ok.  You’re ok.  I hope so.

This day was more than ok. It was one of my favorites.  My favorites are always the simplest ones, with a lot of good conversation, then a lot of peace, and that leads to inner peace, and inner joy.   That’s the season for you.

There’s a lot of beautiful moments to come.  I can feel it.  No event is ever the same nor should it be attempted, but I can only hope for more amazing ones down the line.

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I’ll treasure and savor this one forever…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

A Better Way To…

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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…

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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…

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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!

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

 

 

 

 

‘Tis Tea Season

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Oh yes it is, and we’re just riding along this train till I run out of tea to try, which will never happen.    I promised myself, you, and the universe, that I would get to as many teas for autumn and naturally let the blend from season to season.

With this I will reviewing two teas from Stash, which has been a friend to me and this blog (previous posts can be found here,  over here, and one more right…here…) and I don’t write about enough.  I could say that about a whole plethora of companies, and their finest of teas.

The Pumpkin Spice Decaf really got me good.  Without trying too hard I figured out that this was natural pumpkin flavor and not that artificial and synthesized coloring and flavoring that many of these companies add to their teas, to make it sweeter when it’s better off being left alone.

But this was fun.  Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg (oil in this instance which I found intriguing), and cloves really make this a powerfully packed tea that seemed so effortless to produce.  I think black tea and pumpkin is a winning combination if done right.  You could actually apply that to just about anything  If things are blended together properly, with some good soul and feeling behind it, it’s going to be a winner.

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This checks of all the boxes.  How about that beautiful color? Decaf or not, I wouldn’t know the difference, this is a great tea.

The Maple Apple Cider is fine except for the maple flavor.  This is a matter of taste.  Maple doesn’t always work for me.    It’s natural maple flavor and it’s possible that’s where I’ve thrown off.  I’ve had plenty of foods with maple glaze that either taste too good to be true, or just don’t taste good at all.

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Aside from that, this had another melange of great flavors, that is slightly marred my the maple.  But there’s times where I feel the cinnamon, caramel, and apple is lost because of the strong presence of maple.  This is another in the line of rooibos that I’ve been trying, and this is a slight step back.

I will gladly give it another go since I’ve bought a package, but I wasn’t blown away this with this one.

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My snowman friends didn’t seem to mind.   They seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Yes I did just say that…

On their website, both teas are listed as a package deal.  I think that’s a fantastic gift for now, and the Christmas season that is fast approaching.

When it comes to Stash, I’m only just getting started.  They have so many teas for the  holidays, that I’m hopefully going to dedicate some more posts too.   Just from my observation, Stash is one of those companies that doesn’t get the publicity and headlines that it should.

I know some people close to me are huge fans, and make it a part of their daily lives, and morning routine.    I have to many teas to choose from, I’m not sure if there will ever be  a routine.  And neither situation is right or wrong.  It’s all beautiful.  It’s all in the celebration of tea.

We’re still in the heart of November, and there’s so much tea to try and share with you guys.  For some reason, I’m feeling a little more heart warmed today than normal.  Tea makes me so happy and this is some of the happiest times of the year.

More to share soon.

For more on Stash, here is where you can find their teas, their list of fall teas, more about the company, and contact information.

Thank you so much, and I’ll be back tomorrow…

Peace be with you.

Ideen