Chodesh Tov

May this be a new month of wellness,
three years strong, gluten-free,
kosher, I found my faith,
my groups, my congregation;
may this be a new month of adventure,
as the mitzvah washes over me,
the candle flick lights my soul
and Moses’s light heals me
like it healed Miriam so many years before.

Chodesh tov.

Tea with Wesley and Curly Kim

A nice hour long tea yesterday. I originally had it planned for 1pm, but the Holocaust Remembrance Zoom was at that time and I said to my Lyft driver as she took me to A Taste of Britain in Wayne, PA, “Maybe, I’ll wait closer to dinner and I won’t have to worry about cooking.” She loved that idea.

The six GF chicken salad and turkey sandwiches were filling, and I made a dairy free dandelion and spinach soup. Plus the tea. A Taste of Britain is lovely and that tea party warmed the cockles of my heart.

Wesley and Curly Kim joined me. We toasted Prince Philip and discussed the life he lived. We also toasted DMX and discussed his musical legacy. We happily ate our sandwiches, drank our lemon Rooibos teas, and we all agreed: we were too stuffed for gluten-free desserts.

Tea is what the doctors ordered! I’m still sore from Saturday’s first dose of the COVID vaccine and the lemon Rooibos helped.

When I ordered the Oolong tea, I was going to have it with an earlier tea. Since I decided on a later tea, I bought the decaf lemon Rooibos. I have the Orange Brule Oolong tea for tomorrow morning. I still had the desserts left and half of the treats were a joy to finish later, with decaf herbal tea, while I participated in a Zoom self-care meeting with Tribe12. The other half I’ll enjoy tonight after dinner.

I still have the dandelion soup I made. The last time I made this soup was in May 2011. It tasted much better this time, since I used half spinach and an immersion blender. Immersion blenders work much nicer. My aunt and uncle are also beekeepers and I used the honey they gave us. Delicious!

Creamy Dandelion Soup


2 tbsp butter


1 large yellow onion, chopped


1 large bunch of dandelion greens


, discarded through the stem


1/4 tsp salt


 6-7 turns of the pepper grinder


 4 cups water


 1 cup light coconut cream (you can use regular cream, I’m also lactose intolerant and always substitute dairy for non-dairy)


 1/3 cup honey

1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent.
2. Add the chopped dandelion greens and stir until they wilt. Add nutmeg, salt, pepper, and water.
3. Bring contents of pot to a boil, then reduce the temperature to a simmer. Cover and cook until the greens are tender, about ten minutes.
4. When the soup is finished cooking, transfer to a blender. Carefully blend until soup is pureed. Add cream and honey and blend briefly to combine. Adjust seasonings, if needed.


 Dandelion greens are quite bitter. If that isn’t your preferred flavour profile, you can replace half of the greens with baby spinach for a milder soup.

As seen in Grid, April 2011.

Thankful Thursday 8 April 2021

Happy Thankful Thursday, dear readers!

It’s the post-Passover glow and for many of you, the post-Easter glow too! It’s been a great week and today J Proud sent me an e-mail thanking me for attending the Stonewall Seder. The leader of the group said she was looking through all of our participation from the Seder and it left her in tears, verklempt. I responded, “I’m on the same page.” It made me feel verklempt and I’m so thankful for J Proud. I’m thankful for my community in general.

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

Passover Meals So Delicious, It’ll Make Giving Up Bread/Gluten (Even Gluten-Free Grain) Items Easier

Last week I made two gluten-free matzo items. I made a GF matzo ball soup, using the directions on the back of the Yehuda GF matzo mix. I cut the recipe in half.

3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup Yehuda gluten-free matzo ball mix
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 cup potato starch
1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional – I used cornstarch)

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, water, parsley, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the Yehuda gluten-free matzo meal, baking powder, potato starch, and optional xanthan gum or corn starch. Whisk into the egg mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Once chilled, lightly moisten clean hands with oil. Roll batter into walnut sized balls. Bring a deep pot of salted water to a boil. In batches, as not to overcrowd the pot, carefully place the balls into the rapidly boiling water. Cook for 18-20 minutes, until light and fluffy. Remove from pot and serve immediately in your chicken soup.

Alex sent me this recipe, but I couldn’t find gluten-free matzo farfel. Instead, I crushed up three squares of matzo for the stuffing.

Spiced Matzo-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I had a delicious 8 days and I can’t wait to make these dishes again! I hope you, dear readers, will give them a try.

The Final Night of Passover

Last night J Proud held the Stonewall Seder. The Stonewall Seder’s Haggadah is told in the queer perspective.

This Seder was really beautiful and I enjoyed every moment of it. Instead of using the other half of matzo for the afikomen, we were asked to search for something in our immediate vicinity that tells a story about our identity. I chose a sticker book and shared my Happiness Box Project and scrapbooking story. I drank the four cups of wine and at the end of the night, I helped Elijah finish his cup.

I decided to name myself “The Simple Child” since the Seder has four children.
1. The Wise Child, the one who asks about the specific meaning of the Seder.2. The Rebellious Child, who is the child that asks why the Seder is important.3. The Simple Child, who is the child that asks what does this mean and tells the story of Exodus.4. The Child who does not know what to ask, and this child instructs us to open up and explain.

Last week, Aaron (from my Synagogue) named himself “Rebellious Child.” I liked what Aaron did and I remind myself of the Simple Child. so I was the Simple Child for the Stonewall Seder. 🙂

I also read the third reflection and said the prayer for the third glass of wine. Galia let me read and I was so proud of myself. 

I shared this story with Kathleen and this was her sweet response! “Well Miss Jessica, I believe that you have finally found your tribe.  I am really happy for you.” I really have and I’m happy too.

Thankful Thursday 1 April 2021

Happy April Fool’s Day! What I’m about to announce is no joke…

…Are you ready?…

…Are you really ready?…


…TODAY THIS BLOG TURNED 3 YEARS OLD! On this day in 2018, I created this WordPress Blog to document my project. I hoped that this blog would help to inspire others and it did… in spades!

I want to thank you, my dear readers, for helping me get to this milestone. I also want to thank you for following along with me. I love y’all!

Tonight marked the 5th night of Passover. I can’t believe Passover 2021 ends in three days. Sunday, 4 April. My parents and I had a multi-faith meal/Seder tonight. We had Hymie’s brisket, they had wild rice, dad and I had spinach, and I made GF matzo ball soup from Yehuda’s GF matzo meal. Dinner turned out deliciously and the Seder was fun. It wasn’t traditional, but I am thankful for my parents. I’m thankful for how special Passover has been so far.

Last night the National American Jewish History Museum hosted a Freedom Seder on Zoom. It was from 2019, but in between the speeches, Dan and Emily came on to discuss different topics about Passover and Freedom. It was their take on the four questions. While we can’t be together in person, I am grateful for all the NAJHM does. After the pandemic is over and they can reopen, I’m going to get a membership.

Tribe12 also hosted a Passover April Fool’s Zoom Happy Hour and I lost the Zoom link. I’m grateful that Issa sent me the link. I’m glad Issa and I connected on Facebook. The Happy Hour was a lot of fun and we played virtual games. I can’t wait to attend more.

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

Passover 2021 (So Far)

I debated posting this, but I decided that I would. All of these positive events are filling my Happiness Box and I want to share them with you, dear readers.

Passover has been amazing so far! On Friday I picked up my tallit.  The afternoon spent with Kristen at the NMAJH was so much fun trying on different tallitot. Kristen handed me a few different styles and colours, but I fell in love with the first tallit she handed me.

I think it was meant to be because the bag and kippah for the tallit was on top. Kristen even exclaimed, “in all of my years working here, the bag and kippah corresponding with the tallit are never on top! I have to dig!” It was meant to be. 

I also picked up my first Seder plate, which Mallory and the Grad Network gave me. I ended up going to Hymie’s on Saturday and it was super crowded. I bought a pound of brisket, a half a pound of chopped liver, and a pound of charoset. I have to figure out how I’m going to have the chopped liver. I think I just ate it without anything at Hungry Pigeon. I’m excited to try Hymie’s.

Sunday night’s Seder with my Synagogue was beautiful! At the start of the Seder, the Rabbi asked what I’m grateful for. I said friends and family of course. I added, “I’m also grateful for you Rabbi, and this Congregation and being welcomed.” He was so verklempt and replied, “likewise, Jessica Marie. We are so glad to welcome you and you are such a joy to us all!” I’m verklempt at this point too. Rabbi was amazed with my participation on Sunday tonight and he thanked me all the events I’ve attended too. I feel so good and I am so grateful for everything. My congregation also agreed to a Passover Seder photo and I have to print it out for my Happiness Box. I inspired some other family to ask for one too.

Happy Passover, dear readers. I hope that you all have a lovely Spring ahead, and a lovely whatever holiday you celebrate!

Thankful Thursday 25 March 2021

It’s that time of week again! Passover is almost here and I’ve been busy preparing for that. I’ve also been busy preparing a Circle Journal too; that’s why I’ve been absent.

I have a lot to be thankful for this week. First, on Saturday I went into Philadelphia and continued on the scavenger hunt.

I feel like these scavenger hunts help me get social. I was asking one resident about Yoon Cleaners and that started conversations. Then visiting some stores and I visited Paradigm Gallery too and looked at some beautiful photography. It’s probably wasn’t what Scavenger Stories intended, but it’s probably my personality. Ha!

I found 2 of them… I’ll count 3. I saw the one when I was ice skating months ago, but didn’t connect the stories. The one by the skating rink in Penns Landing was ripped down. The one I didn’t find in Society Hill of Old City was ripped down too.

That’s okay, I took some amazing photos during my 7 mile walk. I might make some of these into postcards.

On Sunday, Rabbi Grife sat with us and talked about Passover. I asked him about gluten-free and the members gave me great resources. I have to call one of the members and maybe I’ll do that tomorrow before Shabbat. The female Rabbi is also GF and I can reach out to her too. Rabbi Grife gave me some store ideas and I’ll check them out tomorrow as well. I’m thankful for my Rabbis and I’m thankful for my congregation. I’ve been welcomed and I can’t wait until I convert. After Passover, I’m going to talk to the Rabbi about it. He was mentioning it on Sunday, so I will.

Tomorrow I meet up with Hillel and they’re giving me a Seder plate. This will be my first one and I’m really excited. I’m thankful for all of my groups; I’m thankful for their help and they have welcomed me. It feels so good!

Yesterday afternoon I ordered my first tallit from the Jewish Museum in Philadelphia. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to pick it up on Friday.

After I returned from lunch, I had an e-mail waiting for me and I called the store. They made an error and didn’t have the tallit in stock. However, when I come in on Friday, I can shop around and they will honour the price of the first tallit, even if it is more expensive.

I’ve been looking at their website and I really hope they have this one in stock in the store. The first one was white with silver embroidery leaves and vines. This one is really pretty too.

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

Thankful Thursday 18 March 2021

Happy Belated St. Patrick’s Day! I hope you all discovered your Irish side yesterday and had safe fun. I can’t believe we’re half way through the month! 9 days until Passover and 16 days until my parents celebrate Easter. Time flies!

Monday marked one year since I began working from home. Last year dad was semi-retired and I enjoyed eating lunch with him and the Boy. Now that he’s retired, lunches are lovely! I’m grateful for these moments.

This evening I decided to comment on Scavenger Stories’ Instagram post where they showed the image in Rittenhouse Square. I said it was removed. The writer reached out to me and explained what happened. It turns out, we are both survivors and she wrote about her trauma. The perp saw the image and tore it off. She shared her works with me. I felt honoured to be reading them and I said, “I was thinking about writing about my ordeal. You have inspired me and I want to thank you.” She felt honoured too. It’s nice when two strangers can come together, share in their humanity, and we make each other feel stronger and whole. I think this might be the whole point to Scavenger Stories and I’m grateful for it all!

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

On Saturday I decided to go on a scavenger hunt on, following Scavenger Stories. There is an illustration with a QR code in different spots in the city. I decided to start at Rittenhouse Square. Unfortunately, someone took that image off the newspaper stand.

It wasn’t all in vain, however! The Dream Poet was at Rittenhouse Square Park and I had to see him. He wrote me a poem and then we chatted for a bit. I’m going to write a book about the Happiness Box Project and I was thinking about querying a traditional publisher to publish the book (once it’s ready).

I’ve self-published 6 books and I thought that I would try something else. I checked out a book from the library and it seems like self-publishing is the way to go and there is no shame in it now like there once was. Traditional publishers are dying out. I asked Marshall, aka the Dream Poet, who published his chapbook. He works for a printing press and they did it for him. We chatted about publishing and he recommended that I enter a few contests once it is done and see if I can win a publication contract. Might be worth a shot. NaPoWriMo is next month and I might do that for my poetry (and maybe include last year’s NaPoWriMo entries).

After our selfie, I walked through Rittenhouse Square Park, watched a magician for a bit and continued on my merry way to continue the scavenger hunt. I walked from 18th and Rittenhouse Square, found an image on Broad and Lombard, and read the story. I continued on to South Street and enjoyed the scenery while I walked. Took some photos, then found the one by Tattooed Mom (restaurant), and continued to where Jon’s used to be. Unfortunately, someone took that image down as well.

I visited Crash Bang Boom, it was my first time back in 13 months. It felt great to catch up with the owners. Made my way back to 20th and Pine, on the way I found the last image at Giovanni’s Room on 12th and Quince. I realized I forgot to look for one other, but I think that was located near Old City on Pine Street. Next weekend. I found 3/5 images I was looking for (two weren’t my fault) and walked 6 miles. It was a great day! I’m going to write a story for Scavenger Stories.

Also, here is the Dream Poet:

I had dinner at Bad Brother and it felt good to sit down. I’m connected to a foul farmer that supplies most of the poultry to the restaurants in Philadelphia. I met the owner of Bad Brother through Earl and since Bad Brother is a new, smaller restaurant, it has a homely feel to it. Everyone was happy to see me. I ordered chicken and an endive salad. Since it’s farm to table, I can customize my food. I absolutely love Bad Brother.

My waiter was bummed that I had to leave after an hour, he was hoping I’d hang out later like last time, but I had to go home to make my bed. Oh well. Next time!

I had a lovely Shabbat afternoon and post-Shabbat evening!