Happy Passover!

Happy Passover to all of my Jewish followers! Since taking the 23andMe DNA test and discovering that I’m 3% Ashkenazi Jewish, I’ve wanted to learn more. Since I’ve been on a spiritual journey for a while, I’m always interested.

A few weeks ago, Hungry Pigeon sent around an e-mail that they would offer a Seder dinner sampler on 19 April. Last year, the Hungry Pigeon brought in a rabbi to lead dinner, but I had other things going on last year and I unfortunately couldn’t go. Unfortunately, they didn’t bring it back this year and wanted to try just the dinner. I have never been to a Seder and since I already eat Kosher, I thought why not. I try to do something new each day.

On Thursday I called and Caleb, the nice manager, answered the phone and sat with me on the phone to make sure all of the dishes were gluten-free. Except for the Matzo, they could serve it GF and I would be safe. He added before he hung up, “I’ll be there tomorrow night. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask for me.”

I felt reassured. Before dinner, I decided to get my undercut freshened and a trim. I wanted to look my best for Passover (and Easter brunch on Sunday) and opted to have my hair styled into a bun. I did wear jeans, but I selected a pretty blouse. I was ready for Passover!

Last night, I arrived early at the Hungry Pigeon and sat at the bar. Brian was my waiter and he was super helpful too. It wasn’t really busy and we chatted for a little bit. He put in my order and a few minutes later, he came back and told me that the Tabuli had farrow in it. Farrow isn’t GF and he asked if that would be an issue. I shook my head that it was and he said, “I’ll let the kitchen know to leave it off.” On the menu, it did say they wouldn’t make many changes, but GF is a whole different monster. I’m beyond thankful that they were accommodating to my dietary needs (Ashkenazi Jewish people also have a history of gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease, as I found out in my research when I got my DNA back.. same with Irish [in my DNA, which I knew], and those with Northern and Eastern European roots [also in my DNA]).

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The first three dishes, Beitzah, Charoset, Hazeret, were interesting and my first time eating. Beitzah is a hard boiled egg, which the hard boiled egg symbolizes mourning of the destruction of the Temple in Egypt. The Hungry Pigeon served chopped liver with the egg and I haven’t had liver since I was a child, when Nan made it for Daniel. I didn’t remember the taste, but I really liked the beef liver that Hungry Pigeon served. It was different, but tasty. I can’t stomach eggs and the egg was the only thing I didn’t eat.

Hazeret was grilled Romaine and mine came without the Tabouli. The grilled Romaine was delicious. Charoset was lamb cheese – yum, much tastier than goat – with nuts, apples, and raisins dipped in honey. That was delicious too and paired perfectly with the lamb cheese. Charoset symbolizes the brick and mortar that Hebrew slaves used to build the storehouses of Pyramids in Egypt.

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I ate slowly and said a little prayer to myself. I noticed the table next to mine had a prayer book and the family was reciting from it. At the end of my meal, I went over and wished them a Happy Passover.

Anyway, round two. Zeroa, Marror, and Karpas. The brisket was melted in my mouth and was very tender. It was just right. The potatoes and horseradish added a nice touch. The bitters and seawater was the perfect cleanse to the meal. Each dish has a meaning as well:

Zorah is special as it is the only element of meat on the Seder Plate. Roasted chicken neck or shankbone; symbolizing the Paschal Lamb (Passover sacrifice), which was a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. Since the destruction of the Temple, the z’roa serves as a visual reminder of the Pesach sacrifice; it is not eaten or handled during the Seder.

Karpas – A vegetable other than bitter herbs representing hope and renewal, which is dipped into salt water at the beginning of the Seder. Parsley or another green vegetable. Some substitute parsley to slice of green onion (representing the bitterness of slavery in Egypt) or potato (representing the bitterness of the ghetto in Germany and in other European countries), both commonly used. The dipping of a simple vegetable into salt water and the resulting dripping of water off of said vegetables visually represents tears and is a symbolic reminder of the pain felt by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.  This leads immediately to the recital of the famous question, Ma Nishtana—”Why is this night different from all other nights?” It also symbolizes the springtime, because Jews celebrate Passover in the spring. Bitter herbs symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery that the Hebrews endured in Egypt.

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My meal ended with a flourless apple walnut cake. Yum and it was so light and fluffy. I also ordered a latte made with oak milk and my first Seder went well. The Hungry Pigeon made it memorable and I can’t wait to go next year. I think next year I will also go to a Synagogue to experience the whole thing. It will be fun.

I also ended the evening with a selfie with Brian, my waiter. The Hungry Pigeon staff is great about that. The one I got a selfie with the last time came in at six. He walked over to me, we were chatting and I told him about the Happiness Box Project. He also introduced himself, Malik, and that was a great addition to the evening too.

Tomorrow I really have to sit down and write a thank you card to the Hungry Pigeon. They always accommodate me and they made my holiday celebration special.

Happy Passover, Easter, and Rivdan to my all of my followers!

 

Thankful Thursday 18 April 2019

It’s Thursday again AND it’s halfway through the month?! April, please slow down. 2019, please slow down a little. Anyway, I have a lot to be thankful for this week.

Last Friday I went ice skating in Oaks and Miranda skated up to me and gave me a big hug. She said I’m really improving and we chatted for a bit. I’m thankful for her kindness and I am thankful that she gave me a big hug, plus agreed to a selfie.

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I also taught a young boy how to skate. His skates weren’t tied correctly and I offered to help him. He agreed, I tied the skates and then he asked me to show him how to skate. I showed him what I learned in NYC. And guess what?! An hour into ice skating, he was moving and grooving! He thanked me and honestly, it made me verklempt. Miranda aso made me feel verklempt.

 

Last Saturday, Aunt Peg and I went to the Orchestra. She treated me to dinner at Le Pain Quotitiant and I treated to the Orchestra. We had a great evening; she was grateful for the ticket (and lovely seat) to the Orchestra; I was thankful for a nice dinner out. I am eternally grateful about spending time with family and making memories.

 

Before I met up with Aunt Peg, I met John on the Norristown High Speed Line. I had the pleasure of chatting with this young man for 15 minutes and getting to know him. An aspiring carpenter and graphic artist, we exchanged Instagrams. He also agreed to a selfie, and I have to send it to him. Thanks, John, for being a kind sport.

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On Monday, Kathleen brought me a gift from her friend. She has cancer and I try to make her cheerful things when Kathleen visits. She has always been appreciative, even though I have never met her face to face, and she sent Kathleen back with a mouse or bunny for me to choose. I chose the mouse and with the help of Marsha, I named her Hope. I am grateful for Kathleen and Brenda and Marsha!

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Today, I had lunch with James. This year will mark 12 years since we have become friends. He now works at my full-time job and it’s always nice to catch up over lunch. We walked the trail today, as it was a beautiful day. I am thankful for his friendship too, and the time he takes out of his day to spend with me.

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I’m also thankful for mom, dad, and Christina. What are you thankful for?

It’s Time For Juice! | Juice (featuring Dylan Dunlap and Z By Z) | World Cafe Live |10 April 2019

 

 

This will mostly be a photo entry. I am going to try a new format with music: I’m not going to rely on words as much, but mostly the rhythm and beats of their songs. I will share some videos with you as well as the photos.

I really wish I captured some video of Dylan Dunlap because he was amazing. That is when I was fiddling with my camera, but I still danced and grooved to his beat. Dylan Dunlap, fortunately, is on YouTube. Here is one of my favourites:

 

Z by Z! A Philadelphia based band that sounds like they are from the Islands. While I was listening and dancing, I couldn’t help but think of Death in Paradise, one of my favourite shows. They were talented and I did like their blend of reggae and rock.

 

 

Juice! Juice, Juice, Juice. Ah, I love Juice. I love their rhythm and blend of many genres of music. I felt so much energy and positive vibes, it felt so good. I love Juice and I think I might make 7 June happen in NYC. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Christian Rose is an amazing talent too. He is an amazing rapper AND violin player. I loved the guitar and violin jam. 🙂

 

Until next show, enjoy your helping of Juice! As well as the delicious sounds of Dylan Dunlap and Z by Z. Feel free to peruse my photo album from the show as well: It’s Time For Juice

Thankful Thursday 11 April 2019

It’s Thursday already? Since I’ve been trying to mix it up during the week, I went to a show last night and my day has been thrown off. I took off from the library last night to see Juice and the regulars who work on Wednesday were in because the Thursday regulars were out sick, I had to do a double take! Fortunately, the reference regular for Thursday was in, so it reminded me it was Thursday.

Last night I saw Juice, as I mentioned above, and it was amazing. On the way to World Cafe Live, I ran into Mohammed on the bus and we recognized each other. I met Mohammed and his wife, Sofia, at Gardens Speak back in September. It was great to catch up; it truly is a small world. Ironically, I was thinking about them the other week.

Juice was amazing. I’m going to write a longer post at some point this weekend (maybe tomorrow, I’m taking my aunt to the Orchestra on Saturday). Before the show started, I ran into Ben, the lead singer for Juice, and introduced myself. I also mentioned that I was the one that sent them the holiday card back in December and he said, “oh yes! Thank you so much for the card. We loved it and we love how you have supported us.” When he gathered half of the band for a group photo, he announced that I was the one that sent the card and they all exclaimed how the card made their holidays. They are on the road a lot and it was a nice reminder that they are thought of. Unfortunately, the first photo was dark and blurry (gotta love college students who take photos).

After the show, Ben and Christian agreed to another photo – photos – because they made sure they looked great. I am thankful for their kindness and I am thankful that they are gracious to their fans. Dylan Dunlap, one of the opening acts, was just as graceful. I bought Dylan’s CD, he signed it and agreed to a photo.

Here is a teaser of Juice:

 

Also, I asked a young lady for some camera help. I haven’t really brought my DSLR camera to shows in a few years and I’m rusty. I didn’t want the photos to turn out as dark as they did for Jac with No K. She explained that she shoots at 1/60, F5, manual. I turned my camera to that and it was perfect. I am grateful and next time I see Jac, I will have to remember that. I know I’ll have to play around a little. I love photography, but I am not ashamed to ask for help or pointers when I need it.

On Tuesday, I experienced kindness from both jobs. A girl from collections that I chat with every morning remembered that I am gluten-free and gave me a big bag of gluten-free chips. I thanked her up and down. At the library, I ran into John, the former computer club instructor at the senior center. I was thinking about him the other day and I was so happy to see him. We caught up and he said to me, “thank you for thinking of me and thank you for sending me your stories and travels. Reading your stories and seeing your photos brought me joy as I recovered from my heart attack. Please don’t stop sending me e-mails.” I feel grateful and loved.

I’m also thankful for friends and family. What are you thankful for?

Jac with No K rocks Forest and Main (5 April 2019)

I wish Friday’s weather was nicer. Chilly and rainy, but that did not stop me from traveling to Ambler to see Jac with No K. Although the weather was crummy, I still found joy in the journey to Ambler.

I decided to take the train to Norristown, then the high speed line to Gulph Mills to catch the 95 to Willow Grove. I could have hopped off at Conshohocken, but I wasn’t sure how far Stoddard Ave was from the train and I wasn’t sure if it had a shelter. Gulph Mills has a shelter. It was a light drizzle as I waited for the bus and as I stood in the shelter waiting for the bus, I started talking to an older gentleman that was getting ready to go to work at the Inquirer. We continued our chatting on this bus; he was nice to chat with and I was asking him journalism questions. He answered them. When he hopped off, ten minutes later, I thanked him for his time and that it was nice to chat. He said, “I was going to say the same thing to you. Have a great evening and enjoy your show.”

I put my iPod on and looked out the window. I love window watching and I learned that Stoddard Ave is right next to the train station, and it’s under the bridge. Next time! Next time when I see Jac with No K, I’m hoping it’s sunny so that I can walk to Conshohocken. Anyway, once we passed Plymouth Meeting, I was familiar with the area leading into Ambler. Ambler is a really nice town; small and quiet. Before I hopped off the bus, the driver was helpful and pointed me in the general direction of Forest and Main. Once I hopped off the bus, two young women I ran into showed me where it was. It was only a three minute walk from the bus stop.

Forest and Main was beautiful. A cherry blossom stood in front of the pub house and this is where I wish it was sunnier; the dreary weather didn’t do justice to its beauty. I had to stop and take a few photos, naturally.

After I was finished with being a shutterbug, I crossed the street and walked up the stairs to Forest and Main. When I opened the door and walked through the frame, I was greeted by warmth from the building and friendly staff. A young lady greeted me and I asked her about the gluten-free menu. She pointed it out and I told her I was seeing the band tonight. They have a different menu and she had to ask if the GF menu was available in the new space. She asked and there wasn’t, I had to order in the main building and carry the food over. The hostess wasn’t too familiar with GF, but the bartender who waited on me was since her old roomie had Celiac disease. She was really helpful, I ended up ordering a burger without the bun and bacon mayo, and a side of greens instead of French fries. I loved sitting at the bar for twenty minutes as my food cooked. I loved the decor and the bartender was chatty. It was a pleasant twenty minutes.

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As soon as my food, packaged carefully, arrived, I thanked her and walked over to the new space. The new space was just as nice and warm: both with the atmosphere and people. I wanted to sit near the front and a young family was sitting at one of the tables. I asked the dad if I could sit with them and they enthusiastically welcomed me to their table. Their children were nervous at first, but as soon as I started chatting with their mom and dad, they saw I was friendly and both the little girl and little boy opened up to me. They come every week and see the first half of performances. The children were no older than 8. They loved how Forest and Main was family friendly. I told them about Jac with No K and explained the story to them.

When they left at intermission, the mom who introduced herself as Jennifer, said they were awesome and really enjoyed their music. I wished them all a great evening and weekend.

Jac with No K was awesome. Since I was sitting close, Jac recognized me and gave me a big smile. I loved how they played a mix of covers and their original music. Their original music is well written and composed. I was tapping my feet and bopping along. I loved the covers they played and was singing and grooving along. I want to share some videos and cell-phone photos with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the show ended, I went up to Jac. A lot of hugs were given. 😊 He introduced me to his bandmates and they asked how he knew me. He excitedly said, “she was my Lyft passenger last month, I gave her a CD and she mentioned that she would come see us sometime.” They each shook my hand and we all chatted for a bit. They agreed to a photo, and Jac agreed to a photo with just me and him. I chatted with just Jac for a bit and he gave me a set list. I put the set list and the photo with him in my Happiness Box.

I took Lyft home and chatted with the driver. I told him about the story and he had the same surprise in his voice as the band mates. The driver just said, “wow, that’s awesome. You never hear stories like that. Most just go on with their lives and that’s it, but that’s really awesome. You never know who you meet and it sounds like it was a lot of fun.”

I know Uber and Lyft have been getting a lot of heat lately, but I have no complaints about Lyft. I’ve always had awesome driver’s for the most part. In fact, one Lyft driver I had a few months ago is a photographer and we exchanged Instagram accounts. I like to read and I tend to notice things when I get into cars. Jac had a band poster, the photographer had some business cards. I inquired about each and we ended up chatting about what they love, which in turn is what I also love. The photographer and I follow one another and it turns out he knows my friend who is a professional photographer. It really is a small world.

Jac with No plays Forest and Main next month, I’ll go back again and support. One of the many reasons why I love riding with Lyft. Also, kindness is amazing and costs nothing to spread it.

I did bring my DSLR camera, but I will admit that the pictures turned out meh. I’m still learning how to shoot in challenging lighting conditions, however, I decided that the photos aren’t going to be sold for professional purposes, they are for me to remember a meaningful night. I ended up putting the camera away and enjoying my evening. I want to share the 28 DSLR photos with you.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/bPcZ7Rp4MC7vKqFx6

I’m thinking of making a mini album or maybe just a page of 4×4 photos that I can add to my 2019 Happiness Box scrapbook next year.

 

Thankful Thursday 4 April 2019

It’s Thursday again and the first Thursday in April. I’m going to cut back on blogging in April because of NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Write Month), scrapbooking, work, and book discussion reading. Cutting back on things when life gets overwhelming will be part of my self-care and I know this might sound bad, but blogging is the last thing on my totem pole right now. I plan on cutting back this summer too.

Anyway, it’s Thankful Thursday and I feel like I have a lot to be grateful for. Dad of course, as well as my mom and family, but also the people I ride the train with in the morning. Jack, a young man that started talking to me a few weeks ago when he saw I was wearing a Blue Jays hat – his brother-in-law used to play in their minor league team and now plays baseball in Japan. Casey Lawrence – I remember him! Well, we chat every morning and he’s a pretty nice guy so far. He works at a WaWa in Conshohocken and tomorrow I’m seeing a show in Ambler. I have to catch a bus in Conshohocken to get to Ambler and I was asking him some questions about the town. He was very helpful; I’m grateful for his help and I’m glad we strike up friendly conversations each day. 🙂

I’m also thankful for Michael’s and Scrapbook.com. I picked up some supplies at Michael’s today and the cashier said, “I saw you in here the other day. Still the same project?” I said, “Yep. I had a last minute idea and I want to bring it to life. For my subway adventures, I am going to make a subway sign and write ‘MTA’ on it, then I’m going to cut the colours of the transit lines and in the circles I am going to spell out ‘ADVENTURES’.” He smiled and said, “now, that sounds neat. When you are finished with your album, please take photos and share them with me.” I said I would and I said, “I should teach scrapbooking. Do you still offer classes?” They don’t, but anyone can teach now. He gave me the flier and information – if I want to teach classes, tell Michael’s and they’ll take a cut for renting the space, and I would get most of it. I’m really thinking about it. I think people would be interested.

My Scrapbook.com supplies came today and I can’t wait to put my NYC album together. I’m excited with all of these supplies and I feel grateful for those who encourage my creativity.

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What are you thankful for?

Happy First Birthday, The Happiness Box Project Initiative Blog!

 

Today marked one year since I created this blog! When I created this blog, I wanted to showcase my project, but I wanted to make it a bit different than my old blog that was a mixture of everything. At first I was just going to display the box and lessons from the box.

However, since I was undergoing a health scare and went totally gluten-free a year ago in a few weeks time, I decided that I needed to fill my life with more joy. I took a day trip to Washington D.C. for the Cherry Blossom Festival and the concept of blogging about my joy and spreading joy to others was born. I created the Happiness Box Initiative to help others, and I’ve shared my adventures because I have learned that sharing my joys in the stories I tell, spreads joy to others – more so than anything I can buy them. In fact, most of my friends told me, “don’t buy us things, Jess. We just love hearing your travel stories and the joy in your voice. It makes us happy too!”

I’m going to continue the Happiness Box Initiative this year because I do love random acts of kindness, but I am going to do more service than gifts. I think helping and being there for people is the best gift you can give. I am also going to focus on self-care more because being selfish in certain ways makes us healthier and creates selflessness. I know that might sound weird: selfishness can lead to selflessness, but I know when I feel burned out, I am not a very nice Jess. Sometimes resting and taking care of yourself will allow yourself to heal and better care for others.

Here’s a video of me transferring March’s entries from the makeshift box to the Happiness Box.  March isn’t even in order! Oh well, it doesn’t remain in order when I open it on 1-1.

 

Thank you for all of the support for the past year! I can’t wait to celebrate for many more years to come!