Embracing Everything

MotherKombuchaGojiGrape

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

 

 

Artscape Has My Heart

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I tend to say this sometimes.  Not everything has my heart.  If everything did would there be room for anything else?  I’m not sure.  But I’m sometimes selective in what I place stock and loyalty in.   If not, the things truly of value, may lose some of well, there value.

Since my first Artscape in 2006, I’ve never not been back.  I fell in love with the aura, with the atmosphere, with the culture, with the food, and a new found love for the city of Baltimore.

I was late to the party, so I have no idea how the event was before.   But I do know it’s evolved with the times and so have the people.  For a while that wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

Everyone has their take but somewhere in the late 2000s to the up to a a few years ago, the event lost something.  The spark, the local food vendors, the local artists were put on the back burner in favor of more corporate, more generic, and more vapid food suppliers, artists, and literally everything else.

Certain parts of the festival were eliminated, bands were booked for the sake of filling a lot, and overall the event had an arbitrary feel.  It was done just to do.  And not much else.

It felt like any other festival,  carnival, or sanitized event that you could find on a weekly basis during the warmer climate months. It no longer felt special.  It was still Artscape but not the Artscape we remember.

Then something beautiful transpired.  Enough people spoke up and over time.  They wanted local,  and I mean they wanted everything as local as possible.  The feedback was massive and unanimous.  People wanted their old Artscape back and to feel like its a Baltimore thing and no one elses.  And not in a territorial sense.  But we’re here, it’s the city, and it should represent that.

Now I could be wrong with everything I’m saying.  It’s just a feeling and an observation, that is shared by many of my friends.

The past few years has seen a renaissance.  With few if any exceptions, the festival is local.  The restaurant booths were all proud displaying a Maryland location,  the artists just the same.   While national acts were booked, that’s different.  That’s always been part of the event. But now the artists seem to be there because it clicks with everything else and not just there to fill space and time.

For many it’s just a festival, and for others there’s a sentimentality.  I always have and always will look forward to walking around on my own and becoming one with this event. I’ll run into people sure, but this is one I’v always enjoyed going at it alone, especially that Friday day, when it’s quiet and I can take in so much more.

Of course I’ve joined friends but Artscape has taken on a life of its own that hits us all in unique ways.

With all that, I did want to talk about a serendipitous tea experience.

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For our pals in Baltimore, Zeke’s Cofee, also hits a sentimental nerve with many.  It’s local, it’s great coffee, and they’re easily accessible.

Now I’ve had their coffee and enjoy it like many others but that’s not my forte.

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So it was a wonderful gift to see that Zeke’s had a perfectly located booth (more on this shortly) at Artscape, and even better, they were serving the most splendid raspberry iced tea.   I think I had at least four over the weekend.

I’m not sure what else was in it and I didn’t care.  It was raspberry iced tea, and on what is traditionally the hotter weekends of the year, it went down like a tea is supposed to. And I kept coming back for more.

A place that’s known for their great coffee also has other things, as their menu states, but it’s a joy to know they’re in the position to make brilliant teas to boot.

What adds to everything is my good friend Rachel who owns Byrdie Jewelry (and her stuff is awesome) had just as ideal of location in the center and heart of everything.  Yes we were right by Zeke’s, we were near the main stage, we were near the folks handing out free peanut butter bites, and free samples of pizza, but like i said, the best of all was that it was in the epicenter of everything.

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My friends and I spent a lot of time there hanging out but did our share of walking around as well.  It felt like summer camp at times, it felt like a vacation (or staycation) in our own city, but most of all it just felt real.   And in a world that’s evolving and ever changing that is not as commonplace as once before.

I can’t go into every detail about all the amazing people I met, friends I ran into, incredible art I saw, or the stellar local foods I ate.  It was a lot.  There’s some stories better kept inside, and many of us like to hold stuff internal and to our hearts too.  I guess you can say I got nostalgic while already there.  That happens.

Every year tells a different story, and this was more focused on taking it easy, letting the awesomeness come to me organically, and being at peace with the universe.  That sounds like a theme I can embrace every year.

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For more on Byrdie, click here for their products, and where you can find them.

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For more on Zeke’s, here’s the link to buy online, and where you can find them as well.

I had a great time this year.  I’m grateful to have been able to do this again and look forward to not only this event, but hopefully others that will embrace their roots and focus on why local business is the best kind of business.

It brings out the best in everything.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

Tiki Tuesdee

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As of this posting Memorial Day has passed.  I know I know.  Time just keeps on chugging along and fortunately it’s the unofficial start of Summer.   It’s always about enjoying life, enjoying the things that mean the most to us, and of course the teas that are symbolic of the season.

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Last week I promised to do another two part celebration of the exclusive summer teas from the Spice & Tea Exchange.

If I sound like I have a bias towards them (in a good way) than you’re probably right. Ever since the first time I was introduced to them by one of my best friends, and I first saw those charming miniature sized packets that they came in, I immediately became a fan.   Just how they are, how they promote tea, and how they promote all of their products is a blueprint that I feel many should follow.

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This brings us to their other limited edition selection, the Tiki Punch Herbal Tea.

This one is another winner.  But this also turned into a bit of a challenge.  And I only have myself to either blame or to learn for the future.

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When the synopsis says steeping time of seven minutes take that very seriously.  Because when it came to the iced tea version of this, it didn’t even come close to the pictures you see here.

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After multiple attempts with different infusers the best I could get was more of a yellowish to orange tint.  This is more about my challenges than anything about the tea itself.  Maybe it was how I packed it, maybe it was the universe telling me it wasn’t time (I think it was time), or maybe it was just me.

Maybe I got too excited.  Then I got a bit nervous.  I even broke out another infuser.

Just in time for the party I broke out my new piggy friend from Tovolo, which is also available on the Spice & Tea site and all their stores, is now a new trusted ally and confidant when it comes to infusing.

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The hot tea was easy.  I took my time steeping it and the reddish hue was easily visible without any thoughts of what was to come.  The flavors of apple, papaya, coconut, blueberries, mango, among all the others may not be detected at once.  But with various sips you’re going to get the feeling of the islands, the tropics, the beach, summer, and all the stuff that will literally warm your heart.

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Herbal tea is a friend to begin with and this specific tea is now one I consider a close friend.

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The iced version is truly the way to go.  Like the warmed up version, you get those beautiful summer flavors but you even get more.

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It’s sweet enough that you may discover more of those enticing fruits that may not be found when steeped and toasted via a kettle.  But it’s not that sweet that you might be put off by.

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I could see teas like this really going off the rails and never having a chance from the get go.  This tea is setting highs marks for these Tiki and tropic themed teas that I’ve been told are becoming quite the trend.  I’m all for trying more of these as the Summer continues.

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But lets slow it down.  It’s time to sip, savor, and appreciate all the good that this season, or any season for that matter brings, and feel grateful for where we are.

I have a great feeling about this Summer.  Not in a forced or disingenuous way, but in one of hope, spirit, and a belief that lots of good is coming on top of the good that has already been presented to us.

Spice&TeaTikiIced

What makes me laugh is during the multiple times I tried to get a beautiful looking iced tea over this holiday weekend, it was always cloudy.  As soon as I walked away and chose to town my situation, it became sunny, beautiful, and gorgeous.   These are the things I laugh at.  That’s the universe telling me that it wasn’t my time just yet.

This is also a reminder in discipline and truly respecting the steeping time.  It’s about enjoying the entire process from start to finish.

I’m all about enjoying Summer from the start.

Get the Tiki Punch while you can. It’s incredible.    And the get the Peach On The Beach I wrote about last week.

Of course everything can be purchased online as well as in their beautiful shoppes.

Thanks to my friends at the Annapolis location for two weeks worth of masterpiece like teas.

I hope your Memorial Day Weekend was a good one and I wish you a happy, safe, and blessed Summer.

Best,

Ideen

 

 

 

Something Sacred

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In the midst of all the tea posts I have pending, many to fall by the wayside.  Others have an expiration date or statue of limitations that would make no sense to see the light of day.  Maybe I’ll explain that another time, or maybe give you an example in the future. But then there’s others that I feel are so personal and so inspiring that either it’s a memory I want to retain just for me and the amazing people I shared it with (and in many instances I was alone), and then there’s growing businesses and the fantastic people behind it that you feel a personal responsibility to share it with as many people as possible.

Back in October I was at one of the many festivals that makes Baltimore so unique and so special.  And at many of these events I keep in the back of my mind about something I could write about in the future.  Little did I know that I would discover one of those incredible food and tea combinations I’ve ever had.  And this pairing is always going to be at the top of my list.

I wanted to give a huge thank you and hello to The Sacred Kitchen.

At many a festival food trucks and the usual food stands are all too commonplace.  The options for something different have become lost in the shuffle. What’s different now is basic meals and what’s become the norm is sometimes businesses being too cute for their own good.

And then there’s The Sacred Kitchen.

On this one day I just couldn’t make up my mind on what to eat.  I wanted something healthy, something that wouldn’t blow me up, and something out of the regular options.

These guys came through without having too try to hard.  And their booth was so much more welcoming and approachable than just about anything I’ve come across in a while.

Their mobile vegan operation is one that I’m fortunate to have discovered in the early stages of this growing venture.

I got the pleasure to meet the owners Harpreet and Kelly, and we were chatting like we had known each other for years.

But wait just a minute.  What does this have to do with tea?  Look at the menu below.

SacredKitchenMenu

It took me a second to figure out what this Blueberry Tulsi Mauby Tea is.  I’ll tell you what and I’ll be honest, I still don’t know.  What I do know is this was so refreshing, so enlightening, and such a healing drink.  I can’t tell you why exactly.  Part of is for me to appreciate but part of it I truly think doesn’t need to be explained.

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Meeting the great souls who made this tea and having this for the first time instantaneously is one of those truly remarkable things that I appreciate just for what it is. Nothing more and nothing less.  Well hopefully more.  I’m craving a cup right now.

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You might be asking what this visually pleasing plate of food is.  That would be the Armitsari Chole made of garbanzo beans and spices, that yes, do uplift the senses and the soul.    Throw in some Punjabi Puri Bread and this is one of those life-changing meals that will well, change your life.

This entire experience raised my spirits.   Why it took me nearly five months to write about this is something I can’t explain, other than this is the time that it was supposed to happen, and…

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Spring is approaching and that means more festivals, more events, more parties, and hopefully more opportunities to try amazing tea and food like this.

I need to get myself to the Kent Island Farmers’ Market on a Thursday at the very least.  If you’re anywhere close by, I would highly recommend you do the same.

If you’re interested in having them cater your event or be a part of your party or festival, you can contact them here or email them at sacredkitchencatering@gmail.com.

When and when the opportunity presents itself I hope I get to share another amazing tea and food experience with these genuine and down-to-earth souls again.

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Everything about this was beautiful.

Ideen

With A Little Help From My…

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Winter can throw many for a loop, depending on where you live.  For those of us in Maryland we’re currently in the heart of those winter doldrums.   It’s been a relatively mild and free from much precipitation.  That part I’m embracing and celebrating.

It’s the end of January so we’re in the heart of it and yet can see the light.  The light is coming.  The days continue to get longer by a few minutes.  And that’s something to be celebrated.   Most of my dear friends haven’t really been hibernating.  They’re more so doing different things, more low key things, and more cost-effective things.  And I’m for all of the above and anything similar.

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Speaking of cost effective, I had the most beautiful and affordable meal at one of my favorite places to sip tea and exist peacefully, Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company.

There is much to embrace about winter and January.  What I should have harped on more was that January is National Hot Tea Month.  Personally, every month for me is hot tea month and tea month in general.  But I digress and I welcome any extra excuse to drink some delicious hot tea.   And to explore teas and flavors I don’t always try.

I have a bit of an adviser.  I refer to this tea guru from time to time.  And when I’m at a personal stalemate or impasse I seek guidance from said guru.  My good pal has never failed me and came through in the clutch once again.

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She mentioned that she’s been enjoying the Pure Peppermint Tea from Twinings.

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I enjoyed it too.  And how I got to try it was serendipitous, organic, and spectacular.

I was all set to buy this package at my local store.  But I felt inspired.  I hadn’t been to my usual Baltimore Coffee and Tea Shop, in Timonium, MD, in quite a while.  I actually have been a couple times recently but don’t always look to blog or take pictures.  Sometimes I just need to grab a cup and a snack, and relax.

My senses told me that this peppermint tea would be available in individual bags for me to drink on site, and to pair with something healthy.

I searched through the goodie basket of singular teas and saw loads of Twinings, but not the Peppermint.

Luckily, the staff here is so great.  They will open a box of teas upon request.  I had asked and without any hesitation the extremely kind person behind the counter was thrilled to open a fresh package of Peppermint Teas, and even mentioned that it’s most of the baristas favorite teas.  That made me feel good, and it was a win-win all around.

That kind of service is so charming, and will make me want to keep coming back. And it was going to make my tea so much better.  It’s not a little thing. This is going above-and-beyond when it wasn’t even necessary.  I’m so appreciative and so grateful.

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My day was already made.  But I just needed a little something extra, and no it’s not the free sample area (I might have more on this later) you see below.

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I’m feeling like myself again, but that doesn’t mean I abandon what got me back to near full strength.  I wanted some chicken noodle soup.  I’ve been craving it everywhere I go. It’s sometimes been a part of my breakfast.  Yes, breakfast!

This was early afternoon so this tea with soup pairing seemed a little more practical.   And what a dynamic duo.

The tea is exactly what I hope for and more.   The ingredient is pure peppermint, all natural, and all awesome.  My friend told me it helped with her bloating.  So this is something I was all about trying, and be a part of my tea rotation, not just during the cold weather months, but throughout the year.  Yes this a tea for all seasons and all temperatures.

My simple soup and tea made this a peaceful, calming, and soothing meal.  And I can’t forget healthy.   I took a few pictures but after that I shut my phone off, and just sat there. I needed this.  I need this zen as much as possible.   For such a simple and satisfying meal, at just a touch over $5, I was there for nearly an hour.

I felt great.  I feel great.  And what made this all the more great was this tea.  When you know you’re drinking something healthy and so natural, your mind and body responds in kind.

I genuinely felt a healing during and after each sip.  My stomach and bloating issues are something I’ve been dealing it for some time.  This alleviated so much of that.

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Why didn’t I drink this sooner?  Maybe I’ve had it in the past and in a previous life, and it didn’t resonate with me like it has now.   Now I’m craving some as we speak.  I will make a cup as soon as this article goes up.

Having a tea like this can make a person feel good, but so can discussing it, and recanting the experience.

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I loved this experience.  Thank you as always Twinings, and thank you Baltimore Coffee and Tea.

For my previous posts on Twinings, which has been an important tea to my family and I for years, click here.   

And here are my previous posts pertaining to Baltimore Coffee and Tea.

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Finally, here is where you can find Twinings Teas at your local store, or for our friends locally, you can get it through Baltimore Coffee & Tea’s website, or in person.  Here’s their entire tea collection.

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Happy Final Day of National Hot Tea Month!  The celebration will continue into February, and for a while.

Ideen

 

Cup of Cheers

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Well we caved.  After last weeks post I thought I would slowly work my way to Thanksgiving… Yes, I’m not going to throw myself under the bus alone.  Me and some close friends have fully embraced the holidays much sooner than we’re supposed to.  But what the rationale is a case-by-case thing isn’t it?   And wait just a minute is that at Christmas tree you see above?  Uh…

Just when you think Trader Joe’s can’t top itself, it brings another in its rich tradition of amazing teas to the holiday party.  Wait, who’s having a party?   I love a good holiday shindig.  So this is a review of the first official party of this 2016 Thanksgiving and yes, the Christmas season.  Merry Merry.

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The Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea is a joy on so many levels.  It’s been around for a few years, but I suppose I was only meant to try it now.  And that means I’m late to another party.  This is one I’m not happy I’m fashionably late for, but better than the alternative.

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I’m a sucker for animals.  And look at this happy lemur enjoying life while holding a hot cup of one can only hope is a tea that humans and lemur’s alike can both enjoy.  I’m happy to report that my pals and I enjoyed this so much.  And at $1.99 this is a bargain beyond belief.

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And there’s no need to dissect everything included because it’s simply black tea, cinnamon, and vanilla flavoring.   I love the cinnamon and that’s what sticks out the most. The health benefits of cinnamon are widely known and it makes this experience all the more merrier.  Yes. merrier.  I love the feeling of drinking healthy tea with even healthier spices thrown into the mix.  What’s not to love?  Hey, is that another animal friend below? Yay!

 

 

As a bonus, we had some horrific holiday movies already showing on one of those channels.  You know, it’s one of those networks that starts showing them at least two months in advance.  I saw them in passing a week or so ago and didn’t want to get sucked in.  It didn’t happen then but it happen yesterday.  Bad movies are even better (or worse) with good company.

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The weekend that just preceded and included this party was one for the books.

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I found myself in Annapolis for most of it, surrounded by good people and good circumstances.  The weather was glorious, the people were just the same, and the events we and (sometimes hrmyself in solitude) found ourselves attracting was as organic as it’s going to be.  And that’s what the holidays should be about too.

One of those events was the First Sunday Arts Festival, which had the most beautiful small town setting with vendors, arts, crafts, live music, wine and food tastings, demos, and anything else you could think of.  It was something I wish I could keep internally and not necessarily  share with with the world.  But’s a memory worth embracing with everyone included and something to make me feel warm inside.

And my friend let me use a teacup that’s only fitting for the occasion and for the weekend that was near its conclusion.

This festival may be revisited again when it comes to tea.  So there is a point to all this. There’s always a point to everything.  And it call connects.

I had to purchase something on my way out of the festival to support local business.  And the very last both was this very kind soul at Twinkle Candle Company.  Their aromatically awesome, ‘Autumn Fairy’, candle worked well with everything going on with this set-up. For those in the area, their seasonal selection of candles can be found at Local By Design.

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I went on quite the holiday tangent and I suspect it’ll be like this for a while.  Looks like the Annapolis Tea Party will continue next week.

See yas then!

Ideen