Tea for health has come recently to me. I have always drank tea for sheer pleasure. I drink it cold, warm, and hot. You could say I bleed tea. There is a ritual of drinking tea then drinking it. Tea is to be sipped and I can never be negative while I have a cup of tea in my hand. In my cupboard is a tea tin where I have different types of tea. It is quite a selection of green and herbal teas. My electric kettle is always ready to click on for a cuppa.
A gift of handcrafted herbal teas.
People have drank tea for centuries. It is known as a cure all for the maladies of life. That includes for health. When a dear friend sent me such a thoughtful gift of a selection of handcrafted herbal teas from Longeviteas, I was intrigued. The teas were developed by Dr. Jessica Cail, a research psychopharmacologist specializing in mind-body medicine. The blends were created on scientific evidence with each formulation containing phytochemicals which are chemicals naturally found in plants that were selected because the peer-reviewed research showed a demonstrable link between them and particular effects. So this isn’t some new agey chick throwing a bunch of herbs together and calling it a miracle tea that we tend to see in the wellness space today.
Tea for Health
My sample pack contained four herbal blends: Original, Vitality, Tranquility, and Immunity. The formulas chosen because the research shows a strong link between them and a particular effect such as longevity, mental functioning, relaxation, or defense against colds/flu. Dr. Jesse’s blends contains herbs or spices which are anti-inflammatory and/or mildly diuretic. Three of the four have caffeine. As someone with an auto-immune disease and all that comes with it, I was all in for the teas when I read about the anti-inflammatory effects of tea. After years of prolonged high dosages of prescription anti-inflammatory medicines, I can’t take them due to affects on my kidneys so I am always looking for a natural way to manage my inflammation. That said on December 10, 2020, I decided to change how and what I ate moving to plant-based eating. It has changed my health of the better. Adding Logeviteas I believed has really helped… especially my digestive health. My recent lab results are proof the lifestyle change is making a difference.
A feast for the senses
The teas are a feast for the senses. It is loose leaf so you can see the natural beauty of the plants. As you scoop the tea out, the texture is rich. The smell of the blends is intoxicating. The taste of each blend is complex with its own character. My favorite is the Immunity tea which is a spicy rosewater chai with cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and black tea. I drink it daily in the morning then in the afternoon I switch over to the Tranquility blend that is caffeine-free made with valerian, eleuthero, passion flower, lemon balm, chamomile and lavender.
So put the kettle on and blend some tea for health.
Disclaimer: Folks, I’m not a doctor nor pretend to know the science behind it. All I know is it tastes good and I feel better. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding taking herbal anything for drug interactions.
Obsession with Fries
Potato products are their own food group in my mind. They are the perfect food and can be prepared in many yummy ways. I like my potatoes and I love my fries. I grew up with chip shops in Ireland and McDonald’s fries in the US though now my go-to fast food fries are Five Guys. Malt vinegar or ketchup. Perfection.
But then I visited my friend Lieve in Beliguim in the early 1990s where frankly everything tastes good in Beliguim, the world of Belgian fries was opened to me. Belgians use peanut oil and double fry their fries or as they say in Belgium and The Netherlands, “frites.” The extra enough is worth it. And the toppings one could put on the fries. It just wasn’t vinegar, ketchup, or mayo, but different sauces like the tomato-based Andalouse, the spicy like Sriracha Pili-pili, the tangy BBQ-like Brasil sauce, the combination of mayonnaise with Tunisian chili, some spice, tomatoes, and bell peppers that makes Samourai sauce and finally, Pitta-pitta is aioli sauce with hints of dill. All are super. For me, it takes the fries from being a side to a full meal.
Friskie Fries Newport
Friskie Fries Newport takes the American fry into the same diva level as Belgian Frites. Friskie Fries is a meal, not just a snack. You have to be a champion fry eater to finish your container. By the way, I have, but then didn’t eat my dinner I was still so full.
I can’t say no to fries. And I can’t say no to fries with toppings. Friskie Fries is a RI-based food group. They started out with a food truck where they had great success allowing them to open a place in Providence. The Friskie Fries Group has 5-6 places. Newport is the most recent place and I am glad to have them here now. I know Rhode Island is a small state, but driving 30-45 mins for fries was a bit much for my husband so I just stalked Friskie Fries to open in Newport. They did. They are located at 404 Thames Street in Newport. A perfect location for them.
Friskie Fries Newport has toppings and sauces. They have 11 topped fries or know as dressed fries:
#1 Friskie Fries – Signature beef chili and cheese
#2 Cluck-U – Crispy chicken/buffalo sauce/blue cheese dressing & crumbles.
#3 Lil’ Piggie – Pulled pork/wasabi cucumber slaw/BBQ drizzle
#4 Disco Dottie – Poutine Handmade Vermont cheddar curd/Brown gravy
#5 Rhode Kill – NY System Weiner Bits/ Meat sauce/onion/mustard/celery salt
#6 The Alley Cat – Fresh Garlic/Olive oil, Parmesan
#7 Miss Potato Head – Sour cream/Smoked bacon/Fresh chives/Sharp cheddar
#8 Fowl Play – Crispy chicken/Mozzarella/Parmesan/Red sauce
#9 Cat’l Call – Philly Cheese Steak seasoned shaved steak/Cheddar
#10 Cinn-Fully Sweet – Cinnamon-sugar/Whipped cream
#11 S’Morsome – Melted chocolate/Mini marshmallows/Graham cracker crumbs
They also have sauces: mayo, honey mustard, horseradish, blue cheese, BBQ, sweet chili, sriracha, boom boom, buffalo, Hidden Valley ranch, and cheese.
It is fry nirvana. Is your mouth watering? Mine is. The old fashioned oyster container which today we associate Chinese food is perfect to carry fries with all their toppings. These all are a meal to themselves or sharable for two people; however, I have fry greed and eat my own.
So if you are in the mood for a fries with amazing toppings and flavors in a fun place then Friskie Fries Newport or any other of there shops throughout Rhode Island. Skip McDonald’s, Friskie Fries is all about fries. That’s their jam.
Start of a Square Foot Gardening Adventure
For those who know me, you if you grow it, fish it, or hunt it, then I can cook it. I have never been much of a gardener outside of my herbs. I have tried and failed at growing the traditional garden fare. I seem to do well with containers and in Tarboro where I had a good streak with peppers and lettuce. Fast forward to Newport. Our house has a backyard that is essentially a blank slate. The first step in our transformation is getting a veg garden going. One option was Square Foot Gardening.
Community Supported Agriculture
I love supporting local farmers and even joined a local organic CSA, The Local Patch, last year. The CSA was a great experience exposing us to new types of veg I wouldn’t normally purchase for the family. And The Local Patch has the most AMAZING tomatoes. If you aren’t a gardener and want the freshest veg possible, then go the CSA route. You do make a difference when you support small local farmers. For us, the CSA did not work for us as a family, but I will be visiting The Local Patch for fresh veg.
Square Foot Gardening
I like the idea of being able to walk outside my door grabbing some lettuce for a quick salad is wonderful. I loved it when I could do it in North Carolina. This time last year, we purchased a house in Newport. A huge step, but one that needed to happen. After being homeowners, being a renter again was not ideal plus the house we rented had zero back yard. We need our space. For the city of Newport, we have a normal sized lot allowing us to create an urban garden. It is a blank slate so, over the next months, a transformation will occur.
Our garden is fairly shady so we don’t have a lot of space to have a veg garden. Since I’m not a gardener, I went on the recommendation of gardener friends, to Domina’s Agway in Portsmouth, RI. Like my favorite garden center, Marrow-Pitt Ace Hardware in Tarboro, Domina’s is family-run and this isn’t only their livelihood, but their passion. The Home Depots and Lowes of the world may have a vast selection and some cheaper prices, but you cannot beat the care and knowledge of family-run businesses. At Domina’s Agway, I met Mark where he patiently advised me and suggested Square Foot Gardening. He does it and many of the staff at the nursery grows their veg using this method. On his suggestion, I purchased Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.
I chose the raised bed method because some of our neighbor’s soil tested high for lead. If you live in a historic neighborhood or reclaimed land, I’d either get your soil tested or just be safe going with a raised bed with fresh soil and a weed barrier. Best to be safe.
Since Newport can be wet and damp, I decided on a galvanized steel bed instead of building it out of wood. I’m hoping it will weather the sea climate better than a wooden bed. It was easy for my husband to put together. From there we positioned it into place putting down a weed barrier and a thick layer of rocks then a layer of Coast of Maine Raised Bed Mix. Investing in the soil is essential. Don’t skimp. And be sure to ask a gardener what is the best mix for where you live and what you are doing and growing.
Once the set-up was completed, it was time to add the plants. My plant selection was ambitious especially since I’m not a gardener. I selected 3 types of tomatoes, 3 types of peppers, 3 types of lettuce, snap peas, Japanese eggplant, spinach, chives, and cucumbers. The point of square foot gardening is to use every bit of space wisely. Vertical growing is encouraged. My husband wove a trellis so the snap peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers can climb. I’ll be adding zucchini and melon to the bed that also will be climbers as well as onions. In a burlap bag, potatoes will be planted.
So let’s keep our fingers crossed, that my thumb will be green. And a huge thank you goes out to my husband, Jeroen, for doing all the building and heavy lifting.
Plant-Based Eating – Not Just for Hippies
I’ve been down this road before regarding cutting down on meat in our family’s diet. It is a struggle to come up with varied, filling, and tasty vegetarian meals to serve to my guys that they will eat willingly. It is especially given all that is going on in my life. I’m leading two lives being a history hero by day and a cyber warrior by night. It is all good. I’m using both sides of my brain and regaining awareness of the world around me again I have not had in ages.
Helping the Environment
Being an environmental stewart has been part of my life for decades, but moving to an island has brought it front and center. We recycle, use reusable containers, reusable bags, conserve water, and compost. It isn’t easy in a culture built on ease and convenience. It is tough to remember to bring my own reusable straw. And many places will not fill your reusable bottle if it isn’t their branded cup. As a PR person, I get it from a branding perspective, but as someone who wants to do the right thing, it is frustrating with ending up with a collection of plastic drink cups. Maybe that’s a sign I need to give up my unsweetened iced tea habit from fast-food places. Add in the fact that many grocery stores have everything wrapped plastic, it is hard to get away from plastics. In fact, it seems that everything we use on a daily basis is made with plastics.
Going Towards Plant-Based
Acknowledging the above, we still have a lot more to do. One way we are working towards a more Earth-friendly life is getting serious about plant-based eating. Plant-based eating is being either a vegetarian or a vegan. Now those two words are loaded for people. That is sad since most of the planet, plant-based eating is the norm, not the exception. Meat is a special treat. The terms have become socially and politically-charged in Europe and the US. But over history, there have been movements to encourage people to eat more fruit and veg. I’m a supporter of eating more of a plant-based diet. For me, it isn’t political or a social statement, my body just feels better the more fresh fruit, veg, beans, and legumes I eat. What you eat is your choice and I will never shame anyone into eating plant-based, but I’d suggest you try one recipe a week. Start a tradition of Meatless Monday. We are up about 4-5 days a week now.
Pantry is Key
Outside of how it makes me feel, it is also budget and time friendly. Meat is expensive especially if you are purchasing, for example, natural or organic beef. Beans, rice, and legumes are priced well and you can purchase them in bulk. The key to plant-based eating for me is having a well-stocked pantry. In my basement, I have shelves of canned goods like various types of tomatoes, beans, and coconut milk as well as containers of veggie broth, rice, lentils, and pasta. I keep onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes down there as well. My freezer has frozen veg such as corn, peas, and mixed veggies and naan bread. Types of fresh peppers, cauliflower, cilantro, minced garlic, crushed ginger, curry pastes, cheeses, and other sauces are always in my fridge. On my counter, I always have apples, lemons/lime, avocados, and tomatoes. I buy the spices in bulk I use a lot of at an Indian store or Asian grocery. If one isn’t near you, it is worth it doing one big stock-up making an adventure about it. Go with a list. Once you have the pantry stocked just purchase the fresh items you need. There are times my grocery bill is $20 in a week since all I need is the fresh stuff.
We aren’t 100 percent plant-based. We love dairy products a little too much. And my guys enjoy chicken and pork. (And so do I) Fish is on the menu at our house, too. We aren’t vegetarian or vegan. That would be very hard for us, but as I said earlier we are at 4-5 times a week eating plant-based with some added dairy depending on the recipe. That said we are moving slowly towards plant-based by cutting down on dairy and have cut out beef from our grocery list.
If you are interested in a plant-based diet then I have some easy recipes to start with in my vegetarian section such as Lentil Ragu over pasta pictured above.
Or this recipe for Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos with Avocado-Lime Creme. Simple ingredients to pick up at your local grocery store. I used Indian store chili powder for the sweet potatoes causing it to be very spicy. So depending on where you got your spices, amounts will change. Grocery store chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon is enough, but for me having the Indian store spices which by the way are typically stronger than the grocery store spices, I will need to cut it in half. I forgot to get yogurt so I used sour cream. Also, I used a bagged kale salad with red cabbage. Recipes like this are flexible. Adapt it to what you have on hand.
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Creme
- 1-2 medium sweet potato, cubed
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- Flour Tortillas
- 1 can black beans, drained, and rinsed
- Kosher and freshly ground black pepper
- Avocado-Lime Creme
- ½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1 small avocado
- ½ garlic clove or a small one
- Juice of 1 lime
- Kosher salt & fresh black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400° F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil, chili powder, salt and pepper, and spread onto the baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- In a food processor or blender, combine the yogurt, avocado, garlic, lime juice, and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Take the Turtle Approach
Take baby steps in moving to plant-based eating. Introduce it slowly into your lifestyle as you build up a pantry and an understanding of what foods you like. The food is colorful and flavorful with lots of different textures. It will be an adjustment in mindset over the meat, starch, and veg approach most of us grew up with as kids. A good documentary to watch is Forks over Knives. Find out what works for you and then go for it.
The summer of 2017 was a life experience where for the month of August we were roaming nomads. It is a polite way of saying we were without a home for 30 days as we moved from Tarboro, North Carolina to Newport, Rhode Island. It was not planned that way, but when life gives you opportunities just take them. I know I am a better person because of it… for me, it was a profound life experience.
My husband, Jeroen, accepted a teaching position at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. It is his dream job teaching architectural history and preservation. This is why he came to the United States from the Netherlands to pursue a Ph.D. It was to teach. When the opportunity came to him, we decided it was a one-in-a-life-time chance to make a dream come true.
Selling the House
The choice was made: accept the position and move up to Rhode Island. Our house was an old Queen Anne-style cottage from 1904 in the historic district of Tarboro and restoring it was on-going. We did, but mostly Jeroen, three years worth of work on the house in two months. Lucky for us the word got out we would be moving and folks started to offer to purchase our house before we even put it on the market. We sold our house to a lovely woman, Jennifer, and her sweet family. When you own an old house, you are more a caretaker than an owner and Jennifer was of the same mindset as us.
When we agreed on the closing date of 31 July, we didn’t actually know where in Newport we were going to live. Yes, crazy I know. The rental market in Newport is VERY tight and expensive. My son and I ventured up to Newport in June. We lost out in every place we looked it. It was feeling bleak when we looked at this one rental, which the owner had just found out their tenants were moving out in August making the house available 1 September. The house was a duplex built in the early 1900s in the “local” section of Newport. It has the number of bedrooms and bathrooms was right. It had an office space. A good kitchen. It was within walking distinct of campus for my husband and school for my son. Down the hill was a “Main Street” of shops and restaurants. Newport is really a walkable and bikeable city. Perfect for us.
And the journey begins
So on 31 July, we passed this old house caretaker role to Jennifer. We packed all of our stuff up on a moving truck to go into storage for a month. Jammed our cars with everything we would need for a month on the road. My car had Oppie the Cat and all of his things as well as my son and kitchen items. Off we went with our two cars, a cat, a child, and Opa.
Well Worn Apron Travels
The Well Worn Arpon begins its travels. I filled a tub with all my important spices, teas, tea kettle, knives, tools, and utensils as well as my slow cooker and Dutch ovens I love to use on a daily basis. And of course, the well-worn apron made it in the back of the car. I was looking forward to experiencing new cooking opportunities using local ingredients. For me, I love sourcing new and/or local ingredients. Going to a local grocery store or regional chain is fun. I enjoy just looking at what is different and special to locals. You can tell a lot about a place by what is in their grocery stores.
Northern Neck of Virgina
We are lucky to have great friends and are so thankful to them for their generosity. They offered their water house on the Chesapeake Bay of Virgina to us as they were traveling the month of August. We gladly accepted and stayed for three weeks. The Northern Neck is one of my favorite place on the planet. Maybe it is because of our wonderful friends, Dick and Sandy, who have made their home such as positive and warm place. The regional is filled with coastal beauty and deep history.
Staying in the Northern Neck gave me an opportunity to explore the Northern Neck of Virginia with its rich food culture of fresh produce and seafood. I became addicted to fresh heirloom tomatoes, corn, and nectarines again going through tomatoes like they were candy. I ate them every day for three weeks. It was wonderful. The selection of produce and seafood made it very easy to get fresh and healthy. Add in the water views, swimming in the Bay, and walks along the beach, I felt amazing. The best I have felt in years.
After an overnight stop in Princeton, New Jersey, we settled into our Airbnb in Madison, CT, for the last two weeks of our trip. We used Madison as our base to jump back and forth to Newport. First was our first Airbnb experience and didn’t know what to expect. It was super. Our host was amazing and helpful even though she was traveling Europe with her family. We chatted a lot. Madison is the picture-perfect New England town. It was quite lovely with an active Main Street scene. We did day trips to explore the area. We went to two open-air history museums. Mystic Seaport was one of the day trips and the other one was Sturbridge Village.
Newport, Rhode Island
Driving over the bridges to our new house and new life was a great feeling. It was like we were coming home though we have never lived in Rhode Island before. Our landlord was great and we got the keys a couple of days early. Unfortunately, the moving company did not arrive with our stuff until seven days later. We made the best of it. We urban camped as I called it. I am so glad to be living in Newport, Rhode Island. It is a great place to live. The people are nice and friendly. The foodie scene is strong. You can’t beat the nature and beach. Since arriving in Newport, I have never been so hopeful and excited about living anywhere. I feel healthier both mentally and physically.
The Life Experience
Living out of bags for a month as we traveled up the East Coast was a good life experience for me. It made me aware of what I really needed in life. And it is not tons of stuff. I had my favorite cooking pots and spices. I had clothes to wear. My iPhone and laptop to communicate and write.
Most importantly, I had my family and friends. We were able to spend quality time together. For 30 days, we were free of the typical American life where everyone is busy doing something. We slowed down to enjoy the simple experiences of life such as taking walks together, cooking, and long conversations. I have continued those feelings to Newport. While we were a close family before this, I believe this has made us stronger as a family.
I loved the travel and living in new places experiencing the regional differences especially the food. This life experience was good for our family. I set a goal for myself that in three to five years, we will travel somewhere during the summer for one month living there as locals. I am lucky with my chosen profession that I am able to work anywhere in the world as long as I have access to high-speed Internet. And now that my husband is a professor with a more flexible schedule, we have more freedom with our time. Currently, I am working to build my business.
if you could travel for a month, where would you go?
Want to help me reach this goal as well as help you reach your goals? Hire me to handle your digital public relations.
Disappearing Tangier Island
Tangier Island is a small island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. It is disappearing due to a change in climate. This post is not about climate change, but the loss of a unique community and culture.
Tangier Island has a rich history dating back to the 1770s when settlers from England made the island their home. They started out as farmers; however, they found harvesting crabs and oysters more profitable. The island is now known for their blue crabs and having one of the most productive fleets in the region… and their distinct accent.
It has been said that the accent is derived from a 17th Century English lexicon and phonetics. It reminds me of the dialect of North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks. To my ear, it sounds faintly like Welsh or Irish. Many think it sounds like pirate talk. I have not met many 17th Century pirates so I can not confirm it. It is a waterman accent based on the isolation of the sea living on an island can do. Though with the influx of tourists and access to radio/TV/Internet, the accent is becoming less pronounced. The accent is not disappearing as fast as Ocracoke for the fact that more outsiders are moving to the Outer Banks to live and accents are intertwining.
It is a beautifully stark place. Windswept. Battered by the waters of the Chesapeake Bay for thousands of years. You can stand anywhere on the island and all you can see is water; no land in sight. The island is only 1.2 sq mi (3.2 km2) with about 700 full-time residents who are mostly watermen and those who support them. Tourism is popular, but crabbing is the main driver.
When you step off the ferry, you move to a different beat. A slower beat. The roads are narrow and are not paved. As you walk around the island you can hear the crushed oyster shells under your feet. Bikes and golf carts are the modes of transportation. Only a handful of cars on the island and honestly I am trying to figure out how they got there since the ferry service only carries people.
When the captain says be back at a certain time, then be back by that time or you will be spending the night or hope that either the supply boat or mail boat is there. There are only a couple of ferries coming from both Virgina and Maryland. Once they leave for the day, then that is it. Lucky there are a few B&Bs on the island and there are a few who do spend the night. We were there when the supply boat came in and unloaded. Golf carts were lined up to get their items ordered. While the island is a tourist attraction, daily life goes on around the tourists.
Crabs, Crabs, and More Crabs
The thing that makes Tangier Island famous is everywhere: crabs. Crab pots. Live crabs. Crab remains.
The Crab Cakes
You can not come to the island and not have crab cakes. And I love a good crab cake. We had lunch at the Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House. It is an all-you-can-eat family-style dining experience. I enjoy that experience. It is fun to talk to folks from all over visiting for the day. It is simple country dinner fare. The crab cakes are the star of the meal and if you keep eating them, the ladies will keep bringing them out to you. They are the size of baseballs. Also, clam cakes are served.
Tangier Island is worth a day visit to explore the island and culture.