Lunch & Learn & Ice Skating

Today I took a half day from my full-time job (I made up the time last week) for the Jewish Federation’s Lunch & Learn. The feature today was Israeli journalist Eldad Beck, who was born in Israel and later moved to Germany. The topic was Europe and the relationship with Jews. Before the talk, I found a seat and asked one gentleman if someone was sitting next to him since many people were reserving seats. His response? “The only person sitting next to me is you.” He was really nice, and we started talking. I told him what I did for a living and what I hoped to do. He said, “you sound like you would be a perfect journalist, which the person on the other side of you, is one.” He introduced me to the journalist and both gave me their cards. They were great to chat with and want me to keep in touch. 🙂 The Israeli consulate was also in attendance.

Since the topic was Europe and the Jews, specifically how nationalism is on the rise all throughout Europe (and sadly, in the US as well). I knew it was, but never realized how dire the situation really was. I love learning about current events and history. I find joy in knowledge. I also had the opportunity to meet Mr. Beck afterwards and have a chat with him. He agreed to a photo for my Happiness Box.

After lunch, I decided to go ice skating even though today was 60 degrees. A 55 degree increase from last week! I lasted a half an hour on the ice because I wanted to avoid injury. There were a few melt spots, but still skatable. I was hanging out near the sides and when I skated near one of the ledges, I saw a man watching me. I said hi and he said hi, as he was switching his Face Time off. As he was doing it, he said, “say hi to my friend!” I overheard him speaking Arabic, I asked if they spoke Arabic and he said yes. I had a brief conversation with Omar’s friend in Arabic. It was too funny and Omar was surprised that I could speak it. I introduced myself, he introduced himself and explained that he works for one of the tech companies. I asked him where he was from, Algeria, and I smiled. He agreed to a selfie too – I seem to meet friendly strangers while I’m out and about. 🙂

A Chinese New Year Celebration at the King of Prussia Mall 2/2/2019

I want to start with a little back story. On 3 March 2018, I met up with Claire for the first time in 2.5 years and we wanted to meet up for tea. In college, we loved going to the Lincoln Room and when I called to make reservation, I reached the voice mail and it said that the tea room wouldn’t open until the spring. I’m friends with the former owner and she suggested Tranquilitea Temple. On the snowy March day, Claire and I met up for tea. I took off from the library, we were without power in King of Prussia, and I decided to go to the Exton Mall before meeting up with Claire at noon. At noon, I took Lyft to Claire’s house, picked her up, and Lyft drove us to the Tranquilitea Temple in West Chester.

Claire and I fell in love with the place. We were in heaven with all of the teas around; we picked a tea that smelled delicious to us and we opted to have tea in house. It wasn’t a typical tea room, but you could sit in the West Chester location and enjoy tea. We sat for an hour and a half just catching up and having fun. We also befriended the owner and signed up for a newsletter. We had such a special day at the Tranquilitea Temple and at a pho kitchen in West Chester.

In July, the newsletter announced that a second location was opening at the King of Prussia Mall. I don’t go to the King of Prussia Mall often because it’s for tourists and it’s expensive. However, a few weeks ago I received a newsletter about a free tea tasting and Lion parade from 3-5 PM at the King of Prussia Mall on 2/2/2019. I decided to go — even though I will be attending the Chinese New Year parade next Sunday in China Town, Philadelphia, I wanted to go to Tranquilitea Temple too.

I’m glad I did because I had a blast trying different teas, learning origami, and trying a chopstick contest. It was an epic fail for all of us – trying to pick up skittles with chopsticks was challenging. I’m surprised I managed to pick up two! The origami didn’t go too smoothly either, but with some practice, I think I will eventually get the hang of it. The staff were kind and friendly.

The owner of the West Chester location is also the owner of the King of Prussia location and was there. I gave her a prosperity envelope and she gave me a big hug. She was surprised, thanked me, and wished me a happy new year. I gave prosperity envelopes to other staff members and some people walking around the mall; they were all pleasantly surprised and wished me a Happy New Year.

The Suns were the performers, which are also the performers in the China Town parade – they will get prosperity envelopes next weekend. Since you can’t set off fireworks in the mall and feeding the lions lettuce would be too messy, they had a dragon dancing around and scrolls that read “Happy New Year!” I loved seeing the dragon dancing around and it was neat seeing the lions and dragon riding the escalators – Chinese New Year visits the mall and East meets West! It was a neat celebration.

Since Claire had a near fatal car accident in 2008, she hasn’t really been up to going out. She now has seizures and I understand her hesitation. She had a grand mal seizure after I left in July and I haven’t been pushing get-togethers as much. I’m hoping we can meet up for a little bit in 2019. I was thinking of her during this celebration and maybe next time Tranquilitea Temple has a tea ceremony, I may ask.

Library’s Valentine’s Day Hoopla | 1 February 2019 | Photo Entry

Last night was the library’s Valentine’s Day hoopla and it was a blast. We had fun playing hoola hoop games, a relay race involving unwrapping a Hershey kiss with oven mitts on, dressing people up as Valentine’s Day cards and voting which was the best, a white elephant game, and much laughter. I am grateful that I work with a bunch of kind, sweet women.

I’m also grateful for the co-worker that picked me up from the train yesterday, took me Target to get the goodies for the party, and dropped me off. We ended up having a snowstorm and it was helpful. She only lives a block away from me, so she took me home last night and also said if I ever need a ride to the library when she’s working, she doesn’t mind. I am blessed, I am beyond blessed for all the kind people in my life.

Thankful Thursday 31 January 2019

I can’t believe that this is the last day of January! One month down and I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my parents, for all that they do for me. The places they take me to and the places they pick me up from.

Tomorrow is the library’s Valentine’s Day party from 5:15 PM until around 8 PM. I was mentioning my traveling from my full-time job tomorrow to Target, then to the library to my new co-worker. Since it’s been about 10 degrees for the past few days, I’ve been relying on Lyft instead of waiting for trains and buses and I was going to do that tomorrow after I got done my full-time job. I have to pick up lemonade at Target and I’m bringing my own gluten-free goodies. Anyway, my co-worker said: “how about I pick you up from the transit center, take you to Target, then the library. I don’t want you to take Lyft so much because that has to be a lot.” She gave me her number and I feel so grateful because it will be helpful.  I am actually beyond grateful, I feel blessed to have awesome co-workers at the library and at my full-time job.

I have been taking the train in the morning and as I was walking out to Lyft this morning, I noticed the moon and planets in the sky. I could still see the moon, Venus, and Jupiter as I was walking from the train to my full-time job and although it was only a degree this morning, I decided to stay outside for 10 minutes longer and star gaze, er… planet gaze. I managed to snap a few photos, though my photos don’t capture the true beauty.

20190131_060627

Gregg mentioned this beauty after StarDate this morning and I sent him my photo. He thought it was beautiful and said I have an eye for the planets. We chatted for a bit via e-mail and he likes this time of year too. I have a small crush on the classical music DJ. Hehe. I’m thankful for Gregg and WRTI for providing classical and jazz music; they’re also a kind group of DJs and it’s beautiful the humanity they all display.

I’ve been slowly working on my scrapbook for Happiness Box 2018 and I’m too much of a perfectionist because it takes me 20 minutes to do a layout. I’m thankful that Ms. Lori at my full-time job helps me a bit and gives honest feedback. It’s nice to have.

What are you thankful for?

A Weekend of Ice Skating 25 and 26 January

On 25 January, I took two hours off from work and treated myself to a lunch at Panera. I had their winter chicken, apple chip salad and it was so delicious. I love Panera’s salads and their gluten-free soups.

20190125_134726

I then made my way to the skating rink and I was amazed how windy it was. I ended up renting an ice walker because the wind was blowing me around. The rink wasn’t crowded and while I wanted to skate for a second session, but it was too windy to skate for an extra hour and a half. I skated from 3-4:30 and made a new friend in the wind. Her name was Houda and she was learning how to skate. I showed her a little bit, but the wind wasn’t helpful.

After the library on 26 January, I went skating again and managed to skate for two sessions. Both sessions were crowded as anything, but during the intermission, figure skaters took the ice and performed for us. That was neat. 🙂

Sunday Movie with Mom

Today, mom and I ventured to the Movie Tavern to catch Mary Poppins Returns. What an amazing movie! Running at 2.5 hours, Emily Blunt, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Angela Lansbery captured us with songs. Even the story line was well written and thought out, I liked the suspense, and how they modernized Mary Poppins a bit, but not too much. It stayed true to the original, but the original children were father and aunt to the children in Mary Poppins Returns. I would recommend it – the movie spread joy to mom and I, and it was definitely a joyful movie.

A Night in China Town

After ice skating, I decided to have a hot pho dinner at Pho 20. Walking through China Town is always a joy and it was lovely watching the sun set behind the Arch. I love the Arch that welcomes visitors into China Town and it was special watching the sun illuminate the gold. I was a shutterbug.

5 February is the Chinese New Year – Year of the Boar – and I decided to go into the Sanrio store (Hello Kitty store) to see if they sold prosperity envelopes that I had out to the Lion Dancers and other people who celebrate. Unfortunately, Sanrio doesn’t sell the prosperity envelopes and I’ll have to buy them at Wegmans, but I loved seeing the Gudetame products. Gudetame is one of my favourites.

41-hp3ofcfl._sx258_bo1204203200_

I continued my journey on towards Pho 20 and I passed a shop called Mr. Wish. I’ve passed this shop several times in both China Town and at the King of Prussia Mall, but never went inside. I was always reserved about it because of the name, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I decided that I would try the shop after dinner – it would be an evening of trying something new.

Pho 20 was crowded, but I found a seat. I knew what I wanted: pho ga ma (chicken pho) and lemon soda. They are my favourite, though the beef brisket pho is delicious too. As I waited for my dinner, Pho 20 was playing the news and I was listening to Roger Stone’s arrest and indictment. As I was waiting for dinner, I was watching history. I was living through my own Richard Nixon incident, which is ironic since Stone sees Nixon as an idol and was posturing Nixon’s attitude. Also, the government shutdown was ending. I was living history in a Vietnamese restaurant, which was irony in of itself.

20190125_173328

Then my chicken pho came out and all sound ceased, except for slurping and chomping. The homemade pho was flavourful and the steam warmed my insides. Pho truly is the perfect comfort food for after ice skating. My heart and soul were warmed afterward, so much so that I bought a Pho 20 t-shirt. Why not? The staff is warm and friendly, I am glad to support their restaurant. I also love watching the employees chop vegetables for the pho at the big table in the center. There is something warm about that too.

20190125_174353

Ah, Mr. Wish. The only teas I could drink were their regular teas and fruit teas. The milk teas were out (lactose intolerant) and the boboa teas were out too (not gluten-free). I ordered the mango tea and I was pleasantly surprised – it was delicious. I loved the atmosphere of Mr. Wish because it was so cheerful. I will definitely go back!

What a fun Friday evening. 🙂