A Night of Self-Love | Philadelphia Orchestra | 23 February 2019

A few weeks ago Pepperwine, a New Jersey band that Christina and I saw at the Turks Head Music Festival last July, posted that they were going to be playing in Philadelphia at Milkboy’s. I ordered the ticket last Saturday, was super excited that on Monday when I had off from both jobs, I bought a beautiful dress on consignment from Crash Bang Boom.

When I went on lunch break on Friday afternoon, I received a refund from the venue and explanation from Pepperwine that an inspection was done of Milkboy and found that a structure wasn’t sound. They had no choice but to cancel all performances until the restaurant was fixed. I was disappointed, but Pepperwine plays in Asbury Park a lot and I’m going to plan my trip around when they play there over the summer.

As disappointed as I was, I decided to still trek into Philadelphia on Saturday evening in the lovely dress I bought from Crash Bang Boom and a white sweater. For certain performances, the Philadelphia Orchestra offers $10 community tickets about 2 hours before the performance and you have an hour window to get the ticket. I decided to do that and if I was out of luck, I would check out Jolly’s Piano Bar for dueling pianos.

I arrived in Philadelphia at 5 PM and went to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few non-perishables that I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping cold. I got out of there before 5:30, the beginning of the slot for the community tickets, and it started to rain as I waited for a bus. The 125 flew by this elderly lady and I – we were both upset, but started a nice conversation that we carried on when the next bus arrived. She instructed me where to get off when it came getting close to the Kimmel Center. Last night was the Keystone hockey match and Philly was a madhouse. The closest I could get to the Kimmel Center, on Broad and Spruce, was 15th and Market, and a fifteen minute walk.

Despite the rain, I made it in 10 minutes. I made it to the Kimmel Center at 5:50 and fortunately, there were plenty of community tickets left. I had a choice of the orchestra or conductor’s circle. I opted for the conductor’s circle and they were awesome seats for only $10. I was super excited.

A little TMI: I bought new white tights earlier at Target to wear with my dress, a size I bought before, but they must have been a different brand because they were smaller and kept falling down. I made many bathroom stops earlier in my travels, but to no avail. On my way to dinner at Panera, I went into the Target in the Gaybourhood. No dice – they didn’t have tights left. I decided to run to the bathroom and take off the tights – I wore my dress bare legged. My legs were a little chilly, but it was a warmer than usual evening. I warmed my legs as I ate my Fuji apple chicken salad for dinner.

The Philadelphia Orchestra $10 ticket was a gift of self-love to myself. When I went to my seat, I was amazed with the view. Only two others were sitting in my section and unfortunately, the show wasn’t sold out. The evening was Eastern European oboe concertos and Brahm’s. Beautiful is an understatement, but I just love the Philadelphia Orchestra. The love coming from the musicians brought tears to my eyes. As I’ve said before, in the past few years I’ve fallen in love with classical music. I had a lovely evening out. It also felt good to go to an impromptu concert at the fraction of the price.

I ended my evening at Big Gay Ice Cream with lactose free soft serve vanilla ice cream in a gluten-free cone. Even my Lyft ride home was awesome, I sat up front with the driver since two friends going to Paoli joined in on the ride. The driver and I chatted music and food for the hour commute. I arrived home with a smile on my face and went to bed.

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A cute pigeon I saw on my way to see the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Thankful Thursday 21 February 2019

It’s that time of week again! Between off on President’s Day and a snow day yesterday, this week has flown by. I have a lot to be thankful for.

On Sunday when I was deleting old e-mails, I came across e-mails from 2015 that were from different members of the senior center, from when I worked there. I e-mailed three members, but I didn’t get a chance to e-mail one of the members. Wouldn’t you know that the person I didn’t get a chance to e-mail was in the library on Tuesday! He said hello and I said hello, and I told him I was thinking about him the other day but didn’t get a chance to e-mail him. He said, “well, you still can.” We’ve been catching up over e-mail and it is so nice. 🙂

I’m also thankful for dad; he’s been taking me to the train three days per week and a Starbucks run on the way. I’m always grateful for dad, my family and friends.

What are you thankful for today?

Healthy Winter Cooking

As a foodie, I believe the foods we put into our bodies impact not only our happiness and joy, but our well being too. Sometimes living in the Northeast (or any cold climate) is difficult in the winter because we don’t always have access to healthy foods. However, in this day and age, it is easier, though freshness is still an issue.

Over the weekend I made dinner. On Sunday, I made Persian Saffron chicken for my parents and I, along with homemade GF rice pilaf. Both were easy to make AND the dish was enjoyed by all.

Saffron & Rosemary Chicken Filet

2 good pinches of saffron powder
2 good pinches of saffron threads
1 1/3 lbs chicken tenders
2 Tbsp. garlic oil
1 1/2 oz rosemary
2 heaped tsp. of crushed sea salt flakes
Freshly ground pepper

Grind the saffron threads with mortar and pestle (I used a spoon), then put with the other powder. Pour over the boiling water and leave to infuse for at least 20 minutes or until the water has cooled and turned a deep red colour.

Place the chicken strips in a bowl and add the garlic oil, rosemary, sea salt, a generous seasoning of black pepper, and then saffron water. Mix well so that the chicken is evenly coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for an hour to marinate.

Preheat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, drizzle a little oil into the pan, and without overcrowding the pan, fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side until a nice golden brown crust forms and they are cooked through.

Gluten Free Rice Pilaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
for pilaf
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup gluten free spaghetti broken into small pieces
  • 2 cups rice
  • 2 and 1/2 cups chicken broth
Instructions
  1. Combine seasoning ingredients
  2. In a medium skillet, melt butter and saute rice and pasta until pasta is lightly toasted (2 or 3 minutes)
  3. Add broth and seasoning mix
  4. Bring to a boil
  5. Cover and reduce heat
  6. Simmer 20 minutes until water is absorbed
  7. Fluff with fork
Recipe Notes

Feel free to double or triple the seasoning recipe. You can keep in in a small jar so it is available any time you want delicious and gluten free rice pilaf. Simply use 2 and 1/2 teaspoons per 2 cups of rice

Monday my parents had pork and since I have religious restrictions and can’t eat pork, I made cod. I sauteed shallot in 2 tbsp. butter and added the cod with some lemon, salt, pepper, and paprika.

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Snow day today! I had the opportunity to make a beef stew and GF cornbread muffins with lactose free milk and cheese.

I am thinking of making recipe posts a regular thing on this blog. If anything interests you, feel free to use and if you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate in reaching out!

A Joyful Day Out (A Picture Entry)

I took off from my full-time job today for the President’s Day holiday. I decided to go ice skating, eat lunch at Red Hook for a GF tuna fish sandwich, and walk through Rittenhouse Square to get to Barnes and Noble and Trader Joe’s.

 

As I was walking through Rittenhouse Square, I was so happy that Billy Goat was back! As I was taking the selfie, I heard Bach’s Cello Suite being played nearby. I walked over and a young man was playing to raise money to go to a camp. Over the past two years, I’ve taken a real love to classical music and I can’t get enough of it. I stood there for a good ten minutes just relaxing. I gave him $2 and after he finished, I clapped and he thanked me. His name is Lyle and he agreed to a selfie.

 

I’m exhausted! My joyful day tired me out and I can’t wait to put a few of these photos into my Happiness Box. I’m going to spend the rest of the evening writing and relaxing to Antiques Roadshow. Back to both jobs tomorrow!

The Year of the Boar | A Celebration Fit for an Emperor | Philadelphia Chinatown | 10 February 2019

Last Sunday I ventured into Philadelphia for the Sun’s yearly Chinese New Year Celebration. However, before I could celebrate and partake in festivities, I had to take a breakfast stop. A little cafe I discovered on South Street in 2011 came in handy again. I hadn’t visited from March 2017 until going in by chance before a dinner reservation at the Hungry Pigeon on 28 December 2018. The owner told me they have gluten-free options and I decided to stop there for breakfast. Red Hook was my favourite place in college and it’s becoming my favourite place again – their GF bagels and baked goods are delicious, without breaking the bank.

After filling up on gluten-free goods from Red Hook Cafe, I took Lyft to Chinatown. The driver couldn’t take me to the Friendship Arch since the roads were closed for the parade, however, the spot he dropped me off at was prime for action. It was the beginning of the parade route and I could see the Suns set up. I also saw the shops set up.

 

A few times I felt like I was in the Suns because I was walking in the parade route snapping away. I ended up taking 451 photos!  I ended up dancing with a few of the Lions as I gave them my prosperity envelopes. I’m thankful that the head of the Suns allowed such a moment and snapped a picture of the experience for me.

To end the day, I walked back down to South Street and had a delicious New Years dinner at Banh Mi and Bottles. I had a gluten-free Banh Mi sandwich and pho. Banh Mi and Bottles is one of my favourite places; I also love Pho 20, but they do not carry GF Banh Mi like Banh Mi and Bottles does. Both places are good and Bahn Mi and Bottles helped end a memorable day.

 

I hope your New Year is filled with many blessings and joy. Happy Year of the Boar!

An Evening with Michelle Lordi at the Philadelphia Museum of Art | 15 February 2019

Last night I ventured to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see Michelle Lordi perform. She is a local jazz artist and I first heard her in August 2017 when she performed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Unfortunately, I missed her the time she performed last year, and I wasn’t going to miss her this time!

I arrived at 5:30, after running some errands, and I found a spot on the staircase. A gentleman was sitting on the step behind me and he had a gift bag right beside him. The staircase has limited room and after a few times of bumping into the bag, I asked him if I was taking someone’s seat. He said, “No, she hasn’t shown up yet. If you want to get more comfortable, I have a blanket spread out and you’re welcome to sit here.”

I was surprised and I said, “when she gets here, I’ll move.” He frowned and said, “I’m not quite sure if she will be showing up. I texted her a few times and heard nothing.” He was a middle aged man, probably a few years younger than my dad, and I was shocked that people of a certain age still stand people up! I felt for him because he had a bag filled with pretty pink roses.

She never did show up and we enjoyed Michelle Lordi together. His name was Nick, he is also a member of the art museum, and we hope to see each other again for a Friday After 5 performance. I empathized with him about being stood up, and he simply said, “it’s okay. Thank you for enjoying the show with me. It was nice meeting you.”

Who would have thought? I enjoyed my evening too.

Thankful Thursday 14 February 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This morning when I woke up, dad handed me a Valentine’s Day card and it had me feeling so verklempt. The card’s inside was beautiful and I added it to my Happiness Box. I gave him a big hug and thanked him. He’s hoping to retire in October 2020, has five years worth of vacation, and is taking three days per week off. He took me to Starbucks and the train this morning. I gave him a big hug before I left the passenger seat, then sent him a text message that I appreciate all that he does for me and I love him.

 

I gave people at both jobs something for Valentine’s Day. The library recipients weren’t in today, so hopefully I’ll see them next week. My library manager is undergoing chemo and she’s been tired – I’m hoping it’ll cheer her up. I’ve thought about sending her a little smile box or something to her house. Everyone at my full-time job was grateful and I made the morning of two women in the collection’s department. One was having a really cruddy week and my Valentine/candy put a smile on her face. The other one was surprised and expressed the same gratitude as well. 🙂

One of my library co-workers gave me this cute children’s book they were discarding. I love snowmen and said, “that book looks cute!” She handed it to me and said it was mine. I felt grateful too.

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What are you thankful for today?