Philadelphia with Mom | 30 May 2021

On Sunday, mom and I ventured into Philadelphia to go to the Franklin Institute. I treated her to IDEAWorks, which runs until the end of July. Mom and I had fun trying the different activities.

After IDEAWorks, we bonded in the Planetarium with the Astral Almanac show, and ended our day with Adam and Fox’s demonstration.

We took Lyft to Chinatown, as it was a rainy and miserable day. 49 degrees too. Before we went into Pho Cali, we took a selfie in front of the Arch and also under the beautiful flag: “Love, Chinatown.” We love Chinatown.

Mom’s first time eating pho and she absolutely loved it! We can’t wait to visit again.

We ended our day at the Reading Terminal Market, where we did some shopping. I saw all the foreigners take photos, so I decided to take photos of the Reading Terminal Market as well.

We had such a fun day and we can’t wait to do this again in the autumn. Philadelphia is a very hot city, so once it’s cool again, we’ll go.

Happy Pride!

Today is the start of Pride. This month is still looking different, but some places are starting to get their groove back.

In New York City, they are having virtual events and some in-person events, but the parade at the end of the month is still up in the air. It will be virtual, but officials are waiting to see if it would be wise to have it in person as well.

In Philadelphia, the parade won’t be until September, when hopefully it’ll be a bit safer. Some restaurants are having drag shows and other events; my synagogue is having a Pride Seder this month. One of our Rabbis is a lesbian and I’m so thankful to be part of a Synagogue that accepts everyone.

Be loud and be proud! Be proud of who you are.

Thankful Thursday 27 May 2021

Woah, the last Thursday of May?! The last Thursday before Memorial Day?! Woah! Time sure is flying! Please, please slow down! Yet, despite it all, I have a lot to be grateful for.

I’ve been dogsitting since last Saturday. I’m here until this Saturday evening and everything has been going mostly smoothly. After some AC issues that I fixed, things went swimmingly until last night. We had storms yesterday and as I was sitting in the hot tub, the electric went out. It was 9:27 PM. I left my phone downstairs and had to use my Fitbit to see myself downstairs. Once downstairs, I lit a few candles, got the flashlight and turned on my phone. Fortunately, the power was out for 20 minutes.

The dogs stayed close, even when the power came back on. I’m thankful it was out for only 20 minutes instead of 3-4 days like last year. Now I see what Nan meant when she used to say, “I love when you’re here when the electric goes out. It’s intimidating when you’re alone. I’m independent, but there is something about not having electricity that makes one feel vulnerable.

Anyway, I’ve been going home for lunch to see my Boy and my parents. I think mom was a little sad when I said I would be eating (and cooking for myself) at Aunt Kathy’s this week, so I decided I would visit at lunch. On Tuesday I mentioned that the Mr. Coffee and Dunkin blend Aunt Kathy has is lousy and I would be walking to Panera that evening to get my free coffee. Dad said, “No, I’ll pick up Starbucks for you.”

On Wednesday, dad picked up my Starbucks coffee for me and yesterday he let me take the Keurig up to Aunt Kathy’s. This morning I had my Trader Joe’s blend in the Keurig and it was much better. I’m verklempt and thankful for dad.

Tomorrow I’m leaving a few hours early from work and I will be seeing a movie in an independent theater in Philadelphia. I’m seeing a documentary that I’m excited for. This will be my first time back in a theater since March 2020. I am remaining masked anyway, but most places around here are mandating masks. Ritz 5 is mandating masks and they have a capacity limit. I’m seeing the moving at 3pm, so I think it won’t be that crowded. So grateful the Exponent posted a review about this movie.

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

Happy 2nd Inkday, Wraith!

It’s hard to believe that two years ago today, Christina and I ventured to X-Treme Ink in West Chester to get my 1st tattoo, Wraith from Insane Clown Posse’s last joker card. This album means a lot to me.

I remember the lead-up to the tattoo like it was yesterday too. After throwing bullseyes at Kick Ax several times, I thought that in 8 weeks I’ll be turning 30, I’ve always wanted a tattoo and I thought that I would get one in my thirties.

I was texting back and forth with Christina and Anna. They thought, “why not? It would be fun.” So, I kicked around some ideas with Christina and a week later, I settled on what I wanted and I would get it on Memorial Day weekend. Christina was surprised with how quickly I decided. No regerts, or so the commercials and jokes go! Christina suggested X-Treme Ink and she would go along with me.

The day before I went to Atlantic City for the day and before I headed home, I texted Anna that I was a bit nervous about it and if she had any advice for me. She told me that it wouldn’t be the worst pain I’ve ever felt, take a deep breath in and then out.

Anna was right! Wraith didn’t hurt at all. Before my appointment with Antman at X-Treme Ink, I said, “just one! One and done!” Christina, Anna, Ms. Ernestine, and Shetana laughed at me. “Right, one and done, right!” Needless to say, they were right. On this two year anniversary, I now have three tattoos and as the Andrea True Connection likes to say, “more, more, more” and DJ Khaled: “another one!”

I baked a delicious gluten-free cake and made St. Louis Style brisket with spinach and sprouts. I had a celebratory feast. Happy 2nd Inkday, Wraith! Here’s to a lifetime more!

Today is also another special day. Today is James’s birthday. I’m thankful for 13 years of friendship and I can’t wait until it’s safe again to have lunch with him.

I also want to take a moment of silence to remember Margaret Schneider, who passed away on this day four years ago at the age of 105. Remember Always.

All Put Together / Lovely Afternoon in Philadelphia

A brief trip to Old City/South Street on Saturday. I lost two piercings and NoKaOi Tiki Tattoo and Piercing fit me in for an appointment since Infinite Body Piercing is booked until the end of June (I have to cancel the appointment I had… I’m glad I went today, the helix was closing).On my way to the piercing place, I ran into Rob, owner of Crash Bang Boom and we chatted for a bit. It was nice chatting. 😁 I love that store and the owners.

After, I wandered around Old City and ended up at Reading Terminal Market before I went back to my aunt’s. Dog sitting for a week. Bought a Cornish hen, chicken fat for my gluten free Matzo balls, and brisket. This feast only cost me $15!

That night, I rendered the fat. My first time making schmaltz. Tastes like chicken soup and I’ll use it for soup. Next week I want to go back to get some more chicken fat along with the skin, and make the schmaltz for GF matzo balls.

Reddit’s Judaism sub gave me some good advice for the next time: maybe only a tablespoon or two of water, and let the onion sweat render the schmaltz. I can’t wait to give it a try. And I can’t wait to have matzo balls in the broth I made.

Thankful Thursday 20 May 2021

Well, it seems like summer has finally arrived to the Northeast. We turned on the air conditioning last night and next week looks like a mixture of mid 80s to mid 90s. Yuck.

I’m grateful that roller skating is back and both rinks opened early. You read that right: two! Of course Blue Cross opened their rink and it’ll run through Labor Day. Rothman is trying their hand at roller skating too, but their rink is opened through June only.

I checked out the Rothman skating rink two weeks ago and had a blast. I like how they made it retro too. On 8 May 2021, it was 65 degrees. Perfect skating weather!

Last Friday I returned to my old stomping grounds, Blue Cross River Rink in Penn’s Landing. Last Friday it was 69 degrees and windy. Again, perfect skating weather! It’s so nice roller skating when it’s cool and there is a breeze. I met some awesome people at this skating rink too.

It feels so good to be back! I feel like singing these songs too, as we return to a new normal (while still being careful and taking precaution).

Dad and I got our second dose of Moderna last Saturday and after a few days of fever, I feel better. Dad feels better too. One more week until we are fully vaccinated! I am grateful. Although the CDC said vaccinated people can take off their masks, I’m leaving mine on. I have chronic conditions and feel safer. The library still requires a mask, even if you’re vaccinated, as does SEPTA and most places still require it. I’m grateful.

WOW! 😮 I sent my book review to North Atlantic Books the other night and Emily responded!

HI Jessica, This is wonderful! What a beautifully written review. Thank you so much for taking the time to get to know Deatra and Adam’s work and for sharing your thoughts with the readers of your blog. I’m looking forward to sharing your review with the authors. Feel free to reach out if you’d ever like to review other titles North Atlantic Books is putting out. Have a lovely rest of your week!


What a wonderful day!

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

Happy 10th Birthday, Tragus!

Happy 10th birthday, tragus! On this day 10 years ago, I started going to Infinite Body!

I remember 18 May 2011 like it was yesterday. Before that infamous day, I barely visited Philadelphia and I’m not quite sure what spurred me on to visit the Academy of Natural Sciences. However, I decided to check it out and have lunch somewhere.

On the 13th I heard from West Chester University that I got the paid internship with Software Application Training and they wanted me to come in one morning to fill out the paperwork. I decided that I would take the 92 (bus) to West Chester University and after I filled out my papers, I’d head to 69th Street via the 104 (bus).

It only took me 15 minutes to fill out the paperwork and I was free to go. I started my position on 23 May 2011, so I was all set to start. While I was on the bus, I decided that I wanted to add to my piercing collection. I only had 4 piercings back then. I only had a flip phone back then that didn’t have internet access and I remember texting my friend Dave about piercing shops in Philadelphia. The first one he pulled up was Infinite and I decided to check it out after the Academy of Natural Sciences.

After a wonderful late morning and lunch, I headed down to South Street and found Infinite Body Piercing on 4th and South. They were APP, which is gold standard for piercing places. Anna used to be certified by APP and that’s how I know. I was happy to see that. Kellen was my piercer, we had a nice rapport, and I had a nice rapport with the shop. I’m happy to say that I’m still a regular and love the staff! ❤️ Kellen has since left and there have been staff changes over the years, but regardless, staff has been amazing.

PS: look how naked my ears were!

Book Review of Ashkenazi Herbalism by Deatra Cohen and Adam Siegel

From time to time I will write book reviews for this blog, especially books that tie in with happiness, joy, emotions, and self-care. A dear friend of mine approached me about doing a review for Ashkenazi Herbalism: Rediscovering the Herbal Traditions of Eastern European Jews and I gladly obliged.

“Herbalism, or herbal medicine, seems a simple enough concept,” the preface begins. What seems to be a simple concept at the surface turns out to be complex and we quickly learn of the rich stories and histories of different communities that have relied on herbal medicine for millennia. Notably, many communities of the Pale Settlement in Eastern Europe relied on Ashkenazi herbalists and doctors, just as many Ashkenazi Jews of the Pale relied on other communities (specifically Traditional Chinese Medicine and Middle Eastern herbalists) as well. The different groups that lived in and traveled around the Pale Settlement had a symbiotic relationship.

During the Jewish Enlightenment, which was inspired by the European Enlightenment, age-old traditions began to fade away. Physicians with Western academic training along with health care reformers from the Jewish middle classes of Eastern Europe, attempted to reshape attitudes about health care. It’s important to note in this review that while there were doctors and hospitals in the years leading to World War I, the doctors still referred to Feldshers, Midwives, and other traditional doctors. The locals still saw and trusted these groups of practitioners because they used traditional remedies that they were familiar with.

By the end of Part I, as the reliance on modern hospitals and doctors grew, we are reminded of the importance of our connection to the natural world is for remembering our ancestors, for healing ourselves, and for the health of future generations. This leads us into Part II where the importance of plants and knowing the medicinal properties come into play, which leads us to Part III and 26 different herbs that are important in traditional medicine.

This is the part of Ashkenazi Herbalism where Cohen’s research experience as a librarian, artist and herbalist shines. This is also the part where Siegel’s translation experience shines and together they weave beautiful tales. Starting with aloe and ending with viola, there are translations for Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, Polish, German, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian, for each culture that would work with the plant. It was helpful to see, to get into the mind of the healer that would use one of these languages in their work. I also loved the stories and traditions that accompanied each plant.

Ashkenazi Herbalism was indeed detective work and all this research was beautifully written, and it wasn’t overly technical. This book could be read by novices and it did a wonderful job introducing herbalism. However, I feel like Part I could have been broken down into parts like the plants were. Part I was a long read and while it was interesting, it was dense when broken up with bolded sections. However, breaking down that part might not have made sense. It was wordy and possibly for a good reason.

In this day and age, herbalism and traditional medicine still has a place in our lives. We could see this during the Pandemic especially. While we still relied on doctors and we still need to rely on doctors, people also trust the ancient wisdom for when modern medicine can’t answer everything. Ashkenazi Herbalism is for those who are interested in the history of traditional medicine in Eastern Europe, how Jewish thought impacted their community and the communities around them. This book also makes the case for trusting this wisdom and maybe asking these questions of our ancestors.

I would give this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5. Cohen and Siegel did an amazing job writing and researching and I learned something as I read. Traditional medicine is definitely used for self-care and I had an interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) beforehand, now I really have an interest. This book is recommended.

Thankful Thursday 13 May 2021

We’re almost half-way through May! Can you believe it? Eid al-Fitr was last night, Shavuot is on Sunday (lasting through Tuesday) and a lot of other exciting things are coming soon!

Mother’s Day has passed and while I didn’t make a post on Mother’s Day. I’m grateful for my sweet mum. She got her second COVID shot last Saturday, so I treated her to a Panera lunch on Sunday, we had kabobs for dinner, and celebrated more on Monday. She absolutely loves the hibiscus I bought her and she can’t wait until it’s warm enough to plant (we’ve been having a cold snap for the past two weeks – I’m not complaining).

On Sunday, I made this post on Facebook and I want to share it here as well because I’m thankful for all of these women:

Piggybacking off of Christine Aigner Dalton. Random Mother’s Day thoughts:

I’m thankful for these women in my life who have been role models over the years, and some who gave me a chance when no one else would.


Great Grandma

Aunt Kathy

Ms. Bev

Mrs. Darnell

Treiva Dungee

Darlene Laverty

Prof. Shevlin

Prof. Nollen

Prof. Verdamme

Prof. Capehart

Harlyce Grossman

Mary McCree

Mrs. Brown

Mrs. Davenport

Mrs. Collier

Other aunts, women in my congregation, and women I work with both at the library and my full-time job. And of course, Chris! 🙂 Thank you for all that you do and have done for me. I’m truly blessed.

I’m also thankful for my dad, my friends, and my Jewish groups. What are you thankful for today?

Travel Update

Well, I did some research on Grenada. I am a solo traveler and I have to travel to relatively safe places. Grenada is safe, although I am alert and keep my eye on everything.

One friend told me to check the travel advisories on the State Department’s website. I did and Grenada is marked at a 2: be on alert for COVID-19. I was curious about other countries and almost every other country was rated as a 4: DO NOT TRAVEL because of COVID-19. Even the Grenadines and other Caribbean Islands were a 4. Only Israel and Grenada were 2s.

So, I decided that I will wait. My passport is good until 2026 and I have time. I’ll plan something for when COVID-19 is a memory and I will use this time to my advantage: I want to pay off more debt. When I’m able to travel again, I’ll have more of a peace of mind.

I’m disappointed, but I can go to Brighton Beach. I love Brighton Beach and I can have just as much fun as I would have in Grenada. It’ll be a wonderful summer, even though it’ll still be different than normal.