Happiness Box 2018 (So Far) and Scrapbook of Happiness Box 2017 (So Far)

I’m making good progress so far with Happiness Box 2018! My goal was to make it not as overwhelming as 2017’s box and so far I’m keeping that goal. Where the box is now is where the box was at in April 2017. I’m thinking if I keep to a note and/or photo each day, I will be able to hold out until December without using the boxtop like last year!


19 August 2018



12 June 2017. I sadly didn’t take photos of the Happiness Box each month last year, but you can see June last year was bursting. I didn’t fill the bottom half until 9 August 2017.

Tonight I am going to scrapbook for the first time in a month. I’ll be honest with you, I’m over scrapbooking 2017’s because it’s overwhelming. I’m hoping I can expand the scrapbook and I joined the Scrapbooking.com forum to get advice. If worse comes to worse, I’ll create volume 1 and 2. Volume 1 will be the scrapbook, then volume 2 will be whatever couldn’t fit into the album, held together with metal rings. The goal is to get it done by 31 December 2018. I might just throw the notes in.

Thankful Thursday 16 August 2018

We are half way through another month – it’ll be 2019 before we know It!  However, I’m savouring each day as they come.

This thankful Thursday I’m thankful for both jobs I have. While they aren’t my absolute favourite, they not only provide income, but I have many amazing coworkers at both. I am thankful for their friendships and honestly ,I feel blessed to have earned it.

What are you thankful for?

Academy of Natural Science’s Bug Fest 2018

All I can say is that I’m thankful that this year they had gluten-free options for the bug treats. I could still eat most insects – they had nacho chips made with ground cricket flour and it was amazing with the mealworm salsa. Instead of Chef Zach from Louisiana, the Academy had local candy makers make us bug desserts, that were naturally gluten-free as well.

Bug Fest was super fun and I am glad I am a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Kittydelphia 2018 in Photos

On Saturday, 28 July, after I returned home from Asbury Park and Long Branch, I went to Kittydelphia. Kittydelphia was a fundraising event for Philadelphia’s PAWS, an organization that saves animals in the city. I heard of the event through one of my Celibricat friends, Sophie the Model Cat, since she was in attendance. I had the chance to meet her and George, another Celibricat.



I had a lot of fun and I was so happy to finally meet Sophie. I love her Instagram page and her antics always put a smile on my face. I added the Polaroid with her (and the Polaroid I had taken with George) to my Happiness Box.

Jessica’s Asbury Park, Long Branch, NYC Trip 2018 | Day 3: Asbury Park | 27 July 2018

On Friday, 27 July, I decided to spend the entire day in Asbury Park. I hopped on the train and again noticed the Little Free Library when I hopped off. I really wish I remembered the books I wanted to give – especially since that Free Library was empty. I took a few photos and ordered Lyft to take me to Toast. Toast had gluten-free breakfast options and I wanted to check it out.

Toast was amazing. I sat at the counter and started chatting with the middle-aged man sitting next to me. He was friendly and kind; I enjoyed chatting about the area. After he was done reading the New York Times, he handed me the paper since I was reading the sports section. We chatted about the Blue Jays; NYT wrote an article about the trades that took place and I fretted about their season this year. We commiserated together about sports. Anyway, Toast had almond milk and I could enjoy coffee! The gluten-free waffles I had were delicious but heavy. I ate 3/4 of the plate, but since it was hot and I was going to the beach later, I didn’t want to overeat. Toast was also reasonably priced and I would recommend the restaurant.


I made reservations for Catsbury Park Cat Café for noon; I had an hour-and-a-half to kill. The beach was a fifteen-minute walk and since Toast was close to Catsbury Park, it was logical to stay in the area and go to the beach after the appointment. I walked into some stores and went to this one thrift store. I’m surprised I didn’t buy anything, but the decor and selection they had were interesting. I ended up taking some photos.


I then walked to the mall and visited the mom and pop stores they had inside the mall. I went to this one hippie store and took a photo with the Grateful Dead bear. The shop’s owner took the photo for me and she was a joy to chat with. I told her where I was from, she exclaimed that the shop’s headquarters are in New Hope; I should visit some time. We also chatted about art, photography, and writing – she is an illustrator, she showed me the children’s book she wrote and illustrated, then handed me her card. Professional Hippie, what a cool business card. I bought tie-dye shirts for my co-worker’s daughters (which they loved, according to my co-worker). I went to another shop for the postcards and again, had a friendly experience. The shop’s owner asked where I was visiting from, I told her, she exclaimed and told me her ex-husband used to own this one restaurant on the Main Line. The restaurant was my parents’ favourite back in the 70s. I swear it’s such a small world.

By the time I was finished at the mall, it was time for my appointment at Catsbury Park, which was across the street from the mall. I loved Catsbury Park! I played with the cats. A few took a liking to me and one cuddled on my lap.

I went to the beach after and I prefer Asbury Park’s beach to Long Branch’s beach because Asbury Park’s sands do not have pebbles mixed in – just smooth sand. My feet were happy and the waves were not rough; Friday was a beautiful day and it made a great day for swimming in the ocean.

That night I was supposed to meet up with Jared, but plans changed since he overplanned. He was hoping to have a great big party for Wayne, who was moving to Chicago for a year. I met Wayne at Jams on the Sand and he was pretty cool. However, when I mentioned Jared’s plan, Joe and Wayne said they weren’t aware of them and I knew things were going to change. However, he was all over the place with them. Wayne’s family planned a dinner and we were going to meet up after dinner. Jared said the dinner was at 6 and when I received a text from him at 8 that he was sitting down, I thought he meant where we planned to go later. I went to Asbury Park, realized he was sitting down to eat, it was later than he thought. I had to leave early and by 10:30, I just said next time. Sometimes when I’m hungry, I don’t comprehend, but I sent the conversation to Christina and she said it didn’t make sense in general, she said she was confused too. I guess it wasn’t me, but maybe someone who wanted to do it all and couldn’t. The dinner I had at the Anchor’s Bend also made me feel queasy, it was rainy, and I went back to the air bnb.

Before I headed back, I saw some tattoo artists standing outside of the Convention Hall. Asbury Park was having a tattoo convention that weekend and I asked one of the artists if he could take a photo with me. He agreed, he asked if I wanted a tattoo tomorrow, I said I had to go home tomorrow, I asked him where he was located and he is based in the Philadelphia Area. I said I was from there and I would check him out. He handed me his card. Mom’s rule is no tattoos while I’m living here, but I’m not sure. I’m pierced, but I can remove my piercings if I tire of them; a tattoo I can’t easily remove. I find getting pierced to be relaxing, I know getting a tattoo is painful.


(Yep, these went into my Happiness Box)

At least it wasn’t a totally bad experience. When I arrived at the Wonder Bar, I sat with two young women and their male friend, we had drinks (they had alcohol, I had water) and we chatted. I am glad they let me sit with them; I asked if I could sit with them before I did, and they were friendly enough to let me join. It was raining by this point, but we just sat under an umbrella and laughed about the absurdities of the business world. Although I couldn’t meet up with Jared, I met others and had a blast. I also heard some of the Bob Marley cover-band and they were awesome. I couldn’t eat at the Wonder Bar and that’s how I ended up at the Anchor’s Bend.


I had a great trip and I love Asbury Park. I’m going to plan a trip for next year, but I am going to book earlier so I can get an air bnb in Asbury Park or at least closer. Long Branch was nice, but it’s more of a business-oriented town. There is much more to do in Asbury Park and there are more food options. The people I stayed with were wonderful and their dog, Mary, was friendly. She loved hanging out with me and in between the beach and travelling, she helped me wind down.

Thankful Thursday 9 August 2018

The weeks seem to be flying and I can’t believe next Wednesday we will be half way through August! I hope time slows down a bit, however, it’s Thankful Thursday!

On Monday when I came home, I had a small package waiting for me. As I ripped the cardboard envelope opened, to my pleasant surprise there was a signed CD from Juice waiting inside! Juice is one of the band’s I saw during Jams on the Sand, I loved them so much that I decided to order their CD. I love supporting young artists and they signed a CD for me. I was gushing a bit (a few coworkers I told the next day said I was glowing too) and extremely thankful for the nice gesture.


Yesterday, someone from my full time job came back from Miami and Brijae gave me three dresses, two blouses that she couldn’t fit into. I am thankful for both young women, as with some other coworkers, and my library coworkers.



My Irish relatives visited last night and it was so much fun. We actually have a lot in common and there is no denying I am related to them. Many of my cousins are also writers, so we chatted about writing projects and current events. It was great seeing them after 10 years. I was telling them about Andrew and they said if I ever visit Andrew in the UK, I should stop by to visit them. I definitely will.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I was feeling strange in a good way. I woke up positive and thought, “you know, my parents and I may not always see eye to eye, but they are accepting of me and they have not thrown me out of the house because of choices I’ve made.” For the most part, my family (beyond mom and dad) have been accepting of me and have tried to accommodate my food restrictions.

Aunt Kathy brought a gluten-free snack for me  and mom made me gluten-free brownies. Aunt Kathy also said, “I brought scones, and next time I will bring almond flour ones for you to eat.” While I may not be where I want to be yet, I am grateful for what I have.


What are you thankful for today?

Asbury Park, Long Branch, NYC Trip | Day 2 | 26 July 2018

On Thursday, the weather cleared and it was humid. I had breakfast at Playa Bowls, a vegan, all organic, Spanish flavour surf food. I had a coconut almond bowl and it was delicious. It was definitely filling and held me throughout my time on the beach. After, I went to a cafe, met a bear friend, and had coffee together.


I decided to take some photos of Long Branch beach with my DSLR camera before I went swimming. I walked back, got changed, then walked back to the beach. The ocean was still rough and the thing about the sand in Long Branch, pebbles are mixed in. I cut my toes on the pebbles, and I know I worked up a sweat with swimming. I was fighting the waves, but diving underneath felt refreshing. I am a strong swimmer and could navigate the rip currents, but I decided to leave at 3 since I was getting tired. I was also supposed to meet Jared and Joe at Jams on the Sand in Asbury Park at 7, I wanted to take a little nap.


I woke up at 5:30 and got ready. Jared texted me that something came up and he couldn’t meet up for Jams on the Sand, but Joe was going to be there. I ate an awesome dinner at a pizza place in Asbury Park called Crust and Crumbles that reminded me of the Couch Tomato. I ordered a gluten-free pizza without the cheese, topped with spinach, roasted peppers, and mushrooms. The pizza was delicious and filled me up for Jams on the Sand.


I met up with Joe, then met some more of Joe and Jared’s friends too. Wayne, two guys named Dan, and Nataly came later. Joe explained that I am a mutual friend of Jared’s, that we met in Green Bay six years ago and kept in touch since then. We all had a blast jamming to Little Strange and Juice. Little Strange was more of a cover band, Juice reminded me something from Soul Train. It almost sounded like the 70s were calling and Don Cornelius was on the other end. I enjoyed Juice, especially since they had a fiddle player. It was an interesting combination. Jams on the Sand was on the beach; the full moon was illuminating the stage and you could hear the waves crash against the rocks. It was truly a beautiful site and the atmosphere was relaxing.


After the performance, people were permitted to stay. Joe, Wayne, both Dans, Nataly and I sat at a table and we just chatted until 11:30. It was a fun evening and I am glad I could meet up with Joe; I’m also glad I had the opportunity to meet Jared’s other friends as well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t meet up with Jared this trip since he overscheduled. He felt bad, but next time I travel to Asbury Park, we will meet up.



Joe waited with me until Lyft came; after two cancellations, I finally had a ride back to my Air bNb back in Long Branch. Something surprising happened, but it was fast, and I didn’t acknowledge what happened. Typical Jessica and in typical Jessica fashion, I wrote a poem about it. I debated posting it, but I am:

Waves crash against the rocks,
the only sound for miles
except for the sound of your voice;
your laugh, as the camera snaps,
you love me against graffitied walls.
I bet you think I look like that beauty,
pale skin, black hair,
I can see it in your eyes,
you don’t have to say a word;
yet, I’m oblivious to feelings,
I like spending time with just you.
I should be ordering Lyft
and you should be biking home,
but you keep suggesting spots for photos,
Asbury Park beach is our place.
We laugh and smile,
I don’t want to leave either
and neither does Lyft apparently,
two cancellations, you play the hero,
chatting with the third driver-
third times a charm, eh?
“Get her home safely!”
You hold the door opened for me,
I’m lost in the rush of the waves and moon
As you plant a kiss on my cheek.


Asbury Park, Long Branch, NYC Trip 2018 | Part I: The Arrival

Last Saturday I returned home from a wonderful trip to Long Branch and Asbury Park, NJ with a stop in New York City. I would like to tell you about my trip and share some photos with you. However, I will share them in a few posts.

I woke up at 5:30 AM to catch the 6:15 AM train to Philadelphia – I swore the bus from Philadelphia to Asbury Park left at 8:10 AM – and when I arrived at Jefferson Station at 7 AM, I decided to charge my phone for a half an hour. It turns out that I memorized Saturday’s bus schedule (since I had a pressing need to be somewhere early on Saturday, I didn’t really have a pressing need to be in Asbury Park early on Wednesday, though I wanted to be there early); when I arrived at 7:30 AM to the bus station, the Asbury Park bus had just left at 7:25. The next one would leave at 9:15. Let me tell you, that left me feeling salty, but I went to Starbucks and hung out for an hour and a half.

I went back to the station at 9 AM, as not to miss the 9:15 bus, and I was greeted by pigeons. Pigeons are one of my favourite birds and I enjoyed watching them until it was time to board the NJ Transit bus. While I was feeling salty earlier, the bus driver I had for the 9:15 AM trip was very kind. He helped me with his luggage and when made one stop along the way, he made sure I was doing okay. It was a 3 hour, 50-minute bus ride with one bathroom break an hour away from Asbury Park. His kindness changed my saltiness to gratitude.

I arrived at Asbury Park on Wednesday, 25 July at around 1:15, right as my WRTI At Your Request’s request finished playing my request (yay! Water Music!). As soon as I exited the bus, the driver said to me, “we made it baby girl! Welcome!” He helped me with my luggage and he agreed to a selfie with me (I am going to add this to a travel album). I thanked him for everything and I was on my way.


The sun was out and I was happy that I could get to the beach eventually. I was hungry and saw that there was a café across the street from the transit center. The transit center even had gluten-free options and I ordered a gluten-free bagel with radish spread and avocados. As I was eating, a young woman sat down next to me and after I finished my bagel, we started to chat. She was from California, but living in New York City for a few months and handed me her card to keep in touch. I then started talking to someone else about the best way to get to Long Branch from Asbury Park. The young man suggested the New Jersey Transit app because I could buy tickets and check schedules. I followed his suggestion and I’m glad I did, but since I had luggage I ended up taking Lyft to the air bnb. I wanted to drop my luggage off before going to the beach in Long Branch (I decided that the Asbury Park beach was too far with luggage).



When I dropped off my luggage, I realized I wasn’t right next to the beach, I would have to walk. I texted Jared about if he knew the area and he gave me some directions. By that point, it was drizzling a bit, but I still wanted to check out the beach. The walk was only ten minutes and by the time I arrived at the beach, the rain had stopped. The water was rough from the storms and I could only go up to my waist. I still enjoyed the water for forty-five minutes and had fun playing with my GoPro. I took a few pictures, but I was cautious because I didn’t want my GoPro to be swept up by rough waves. The waves made me tired and that is why I decided to leave. I was also hungry. By the time I left the beach, it was raining.


After I situated myself back at my Air bnb, I looked up gluten-free dinner options and decided that I would take an impromptu trip to New York City for a delicious dinner and walk around, I wanted to see the city at night. I was only a two-minute walk from the train station and since I could order tickets on the NJ Transit app, I booked the 6:33 train to New York City. I loved riding through New Jersey, I even passed South Amboy, where Jared lives. I texted him a picture of the station, but he wasn’t home at the time (he wish he was), but he was glad I was exploring New York City. I loved looking at Northern Jersey through the train window.

I was in New York City by 7:45 and at Friedman’s at 8. I decided to eat at Friedman’s since it was close to Penn Station and they had gluten-free Reubens. I was dying for a Reuben since I hadn’t been able to eat them since going gluten-free. Let me tell you, it was delicious! The dining experience at Friedman’s was amazing, the waitstaff was attentive and helpful, and the restaurant wasn’t expensive for NYC ($30 for the Reuben with French fries, a lemonade, and a gluten-free brownie to go). I loved my waiter and he agreed to a picture that I could put into my Happiness Box.

New York City is gorgeous at night. I decided to walk around Madison Square Garden and the experience at night was awesome. New York is truly a city that never sleeps. I saw a statute of lego humans and murals around Madison Square Garden. I asked a young man in a Wu Tan Clan shirt to take my photo in front of the Madison Square Garden sign, then he agreed to a selfie for the Happiness Box.  I visited some shops and took photos of some of the interesting statues in the area. I am glad I could visit the shops and see the sights before it started to pour. When I was walking to Penn Station to head back to Long Branch, it started pouring. I arrived in Long Branch at midnight, I fell asleep with the sound of pouring rain hitting against the window.

Thankful Thursday 2 August 2018

WOW! It’s August already! This is so hard to believe. I’m back from vacation and I am sorry for the lack of updates – I went back to working both jobs this week and I have felt exhausted when I arrived home.

I will admit that I scheduled a post last week and that is why it was so short. I needed a break and I didn’t want to blog (or be on the computer for that manner) during a vacation, but I didn’t want to miss Thankful Thursday. I knew I would feel grateful for my vacation, but I have something to be grateful beforehand. Last Tuesday after I attended the WHYY event, I went to Panera. I love their poppyseed strawberry chicken salad and I was craving it. As I was eating, the franchise owner walked by and asked how everything was. I told him about the last time I was in, his manager took the time and had the patience to go through allergens in the food with me (since I had to go gluten-free and totally dairy free). I told the owner that I appreciated the patience. He came back with a gluten-free cookie, said, “I know going gluten-free isn’t the easiest, but I hope this gluten-free chocolate chip cookie will help a little.” I ate it at the beach and it was delicious. I felt grateful.

I also had a great trip and I feel thankful that I met up with Joe. After Jams on the Sand, he waited with me until Lyft came. He also held the car door opened for me and was very patient about waiting. I feel grateful for his friendship and I feel thankful that he was kind enough to wait with me.

This week I feel thankful for Christina and my other friends. Christina is one of my best friends and knows me well; she went to Warped Tour in Maryland on Sunday and took a photo of Twiztid for me. Grateful and that made my day.


What are you thankful for?