Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Halloween for Grown-ups


It is almost October, and I am thinking about what to do on Halloween (other than handing out candy to 200 kids who know our neighborhood is a good one to trick-or-treat in - that's just an estimate since we turned the light out last year after one hour and 100 kids). *

There's no way I'll get all tarty and dress up as a "sexy" whatever (kitten/nurse/devil/bumblebee etc.). But we love Halloween and want to celebrate it with adults, as well as the trick-or-treaters. Last year we dropped in on a party at the coolest apartment on Main Street in Bethlehem.

I just heard about a WDIY fundraiser at Allentown Brew Works called "One Ale of a Night" on Halloween, and it sounds fun: Guests are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite forest deity or nature spirit (though costumes are optional). $70/person.

I also saw an ad in Lehigh Valley Style for Black Out III, a party that benefits the MAC AIDS Fund and AIDS Activities Office of Lehigh Valley Hospital, on October 15 (close, but not 10/31; however, the ad features a woman seemingly wearing a mask made out of a lacy bra, and black attire is recommended). The festivities begin at 8 p.m. at Melt's Level 3 and tickets are $30 each.

The American Lung Association is hosting a party called Thriller at Masquerade at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Fogelsville on November 13. Since the costume stores will slash prices after October 31, they might be on to something. Tickets are $125 and there's only one hour of open bar (cash bar after), so go early.

I was wondering, does anyone know of other options for a fun, grown-up Halloween in the Lehigh Valley?

* If you are thinking about taking your kids trick-or-treating in a neighborhood other than your own, prepare to get funny looks.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New News

The Eastern PA Business Journal shared some good news this week about some developments in the Lehigh Valley. If you don't subscribe (or read it at the office), it's actually a great source of tips for what's going on. Unfortunately, they don't post much news on their web site, so you either need to read the paper version or hear about it from bloggers who are too busy with weddings to go out and get news this week!
  • Montana West (1030 Route 309 Quakertown) opened a second dance club, next to the bar where you can still ride the mechanical bull between line dances. The new night spot, called Storm, is supposed to resemble a Las Vegas night club.
  • A new building that will house Cosmopolitan Restaurant is going up at 20 N. Sixth Street in Allentown. In fine Lehigh Valley tradition, this place will probably be known as "the restaurant where Sal's Spaghetti House used to be," at least for a while. There will be an upscale restaurant including a rooftop bar and dining area. It's right across the street from Allentown Symphony Hall and might fill the fine-dining void on that end of Hamilton left by Federal Grill.
  • Hyatt Place (45 West North Street, Historic Bethlehem) is taking reservations beginning October 24, just in time for Christmas City USA festivities. Unfortunately, there isn't any event space or restaurant on-site, just amenities for hotel guests.

I don't think the recession is over, but these are all good signs!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pinkberry in Bethlehem?!


I took a walk down Third Street today to get a cup of seriously strong iced coffee from Hard Bean Cafe.

I noticed some guys working in the space that used to be Southside Serendipity. One was posting a sign for Euro Yogurt. I asked a friend in one of the retail stores on the block, and she said she heard a rumor it was going to be a Pinkberry. I always get Sprinkles Cupcakes and Pinkberry mixed up, so I had to Google it. Now I remember: I had Pinkberry frozen yogurt last summer when I was in Queens/Flushing for the US Open.

From their web site:

"The creation of Swirly Goodness dates back to January, 2005 when co-founders
Shelly Hwang, an experienced restaurateur, and Young Lee, a Parsons-trained
designer with a fascination for desserts and frozen treats, blended past
inspirations from an Italian gelato store with fond memories of mixing fruit
with soft serve at a Hawaiian pineapple plantation. The result was Pinkberry’s
perfect marriage of extraordinary taste palates, inspired design and a social
experience that indulges the senses. Today, Pinkberry has grown to over 70
stores and our wildly popular tart yogurt has become known as “the taste that
launched a thousand parking tickets.” Pinkberry is the most talked about, great
tasting, premium frozen yogurt available."
The most talked about yogurt? Are there any other great tasting, premium frozen yogurts available? Isn't this kind of a Blue Ocean situation?

Regardless of whether it's ACTUALLY Pinkberry or a place that's a lot LIKE Pinkberry, it's great to see some more businesses giving it a go on the Southside. I think the only frozen treat option now is The Cup on Fourth Street, and they are best known for tasty homemade hard ice cream.

Update: Euro Yogurt (129 E. Third St., Bethlehem) has been open for a while now, but I have been too busy trying all the toppings to post about it. I love the fresh mango, Godiva chocolate and Fruit Loops. Prices start at $2.50 and go up with each additional topping. It is a tasty, healthy treat (if you don't count the toppings) and I heard a rumor that there will be a cereal bar soon. Lucky Lehigh students: Free wifi and tasty froyo? I would have loved that when I was at AU!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Action Wheels/Cutters Bike Shop

Like a lot of people, when gas hit $4.00 a gallon, I considered riding my bike to work. There are showers and bike lockers at work, so I had no good reason not to, and it's only 9.5 miles each way... right?

I was pretty daunted, not really having ridden a bike since high school. I stopped by Action Wheels Bike Shop (530 W. Broad St., Bethlehem) and talked with one of the owners, John Ronca, who assured me that not only could I do this, but that it would be no sweat. He hooked me up with a great road bike at a good price, a helmet and a couple of accessories. Plus... he promised I could bring my bike in for a tune-up anytime.

Well, the commute was, ahem, more exercise than I was willing to endure on a weekday morning, plus the ride felt like it took forever. So for a while I would drive over the mountain, park at the Lehigh tennis courts, and ride the rest of the way on my bike (about 3 miles each way). Kind of a cop-out, I know. But along the way I started really loving riding my bike and started training for a sprint triathlon race. I visited John and his crew again, and they gave me advice and suggested some equipment to help me along.

About a week after the race, I went to Action Bikes again. I'm hooked - I said to Larry - I want toe clips and shoes! Next year I hope to take part in the City to Shore fundraising race for MS (at least 45 miles of it) and I owe it all to Action Bikes and $4.00 gas.

Update: John and his family have opened a new bike shop on the Southside (418 E. Third St., Bethlehem) and they rent bikes in addition to selling and repairing them. So if you have heard about the tow path, or are excited to see whether the Greenway becomes a reality, but you don't have your own wheels, check out Cutters. It's just $20 a day; even Rachael Ray can't beat that.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What They Made

Every year, TMC prints the annual compensation for local area executives. The 2008 edition was printed in this past Sunday's paper.

For those of us from outside the area, the list doesn't mean much. First, there are only 13 publicly-traded companies "in the Lehigh Valley," which includes East Greenville, Harleysville, Souderton, Boyertown, Breinigsville and Doylestown for the purposes of this report. I'd venture to guess the biggest cheeses who actually live and work in the Lehigh Valley don't show up on this list, even though many of their salaries are public information, too. (If you're curious how much our elected officials and their staff members make, visit this site. You might be surprised!)

It took two TMC reporters to paraphrase the report and make the observation that even executives got a pay cut this year. I miss The Washington Post.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thriller!


The Thriller wedding dance video was a Youtube sensation. MJ's recent passing started the fire burning again. And now, right here in the Lehigh Valley, you can be a part of Thriller history.

Pennsylvania Youth Theatre will aim to break the World Record for number of dancers simultaniously doing the Thriller Dance. First, register in advance. They ask for everyone to try to give or get $20 in donations. Then attend one rehearsal to learn the dance. Finally, find a great Zombie costume and get wear it to the Banana Factory at 7 p.m. on October 24. It's advertised as a family-friendly event, but I guarantee the bars on the Southside will be flooded with zombies that night after the event (BEWARE).

PYT's studios are inside the Banana Factory (25 W. 3rd Street, Southside Bethlehem).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Do You Ever Stay Home?"

Tonight after my early gym workout and long, full workday, I am relaxing at home with a home-cooked meal and a DVR'd episode of Mad Men. However, I am looking over the pile tickets we ordered: Historic Haunts of Downtown Bethlehem with Becky and Todd; season tix for DeSales Act 1 mainstage season for the second year in a row; great seats for Abe Lincoln in Illinois, A Christmas Carol, Little Shop of Horrors, and Rent at Civic Theatre in Allentown; Lehigh Valley BrewFest; and last but not least, David Sedaris at the State Theatre in Easton.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Tennis

I spent a lot of time working at the US Open over the last two years. Yesterday I had the opportunity to be a spectator for once! Mom and I ordered tickets as part of a bus tour sponsored by a local tennis club. We saw Roger Federer beat Lleyton Hewitt (4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4) - a great match for Round 3. We also watched a match on one of the side courts, where we were so close, we could almost touch the players. But the highlight of the day, hands-down, was witnessing (I hope) American tennis history. Melanie Oudin, a 17-year old from Marietta, GA, put Maria Sharapova out of the spotlight for once (3-6, 6-4, 7-5). Melanie leveraged Maria's 21 double faults and scrapped for points throughout the match to advance to the fourth round of her first US Open. The crowd was pulling for her, cheering even when Maria made unforced errors. Pretty cool on its own, especially if you used to sort of love to hate Maria Sharapova for her affiliation with a competitor. But Melanie's emotional on-court interview following the match was one for the USTA history books.

Anyway, it got me thinking about tennis. I played a lot growing up, and I might take it up again someday. Where do people go to play? Obviously there are public courts all over the Valley. But as far as private clubs where you can take a lesson and potentially play in a league, I found only a few options outside of country clubs.
  1. Winning Touch Tennis of Lehigh Valley 1166 Sherman St., Allentown
  2. Oakmont Tennis Club 2101 W Allen St., Allentown‎ (Clay courts only)
  3. Westend Racquet Swim & Fitness Club ‎4636 Crackersport Rd., Allentown‎
  4. Sand Island River St., Bethlehem
  5. Northwood Racquet & Fitness Club 3738 Northwood Ave., Easton‎
  6. Tennis Zone & Fitness Center 451 California Rd., Quakertown
Did I miss any? What are there benefits and drawbacks to each?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

First Friday

I have rounded up a few friends to check out First Friday in Southside Bethlehem. It is one of my favorite nights of the month, such a great vibe and the sidewalks are full of people of all ages. The weather should be divine (for once!)

I'd like to start with a drink somewhere. It's Friday! A couple of months ago it was Lehigh Pub. This time it might be Looper's, Starters, or somewhere at the Sands. I'm not a smoker, so McGrady's and Tally Ho are out. Am I missing anywhere great?

Then maybe we'll visit Banana Factory and see what's going on. The glass blowing studio's "stadium seating" gives everyone a great view of the entire operation, and you can jam along with the artists to the live band playing.

Depending on what's in the gallery space (one time, the kids from the Lehigh Valley High School for the Performing Arts were performing), if there's a new exhibition, I'll hang around and take in the sights. It's a good meet-up place; every single month I see someone I know in the hallways. Sometimes I'll peek into some artist studios upstairs. It's cool to see what they're working on. I appreciate it so much, because I have no artistic talent whatsoever. There's always food and wine, and Olaf's got vodka on ice. Anneke and Becky have both attempted to entice me to join them in the salsa dance class held on Friday nights at the Banana Factory, but I haven't given in yet.

Then I'll make my way down Third Street to the places that are part of the Downtown Bethlehem Association. If I'm shopping for a gift for someone, I will visit Home & Planet, Stone Soup, Comfort & Joy, and Cleo's. Shuze and Clothesline Organics are my favorite places to shop for me. :) Clothesline welcomes classical guitarist Heath Hitchcock and will serve up local microbrews. Shuze has got jewelry from Loris Miller and fall boots! I want to get up to visit Loose Threads on Fourth Street, too. I stopped in to meet Helene - we have mutual friends, small Valley - and learned that the artist Todd Juknevic will be adorning the shop's walls with art and filling the air with music. Busy guy. If I'm craving a snack for the ride home, it's a toss-up between a dish of wild berry Euro Yogurt with mango or Tallarico's Chocolate (just about anything with dark chocolate works, but I love the coconut almond).

Have you been to First Friday, and if not - how come?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Singles in the Valley (II)

I really appreciate everyone's honesty in their response to my recent post about being single in the Lehigh Valley. I thought of you all when I read Lisa Gotto's post on the Lehigh Valley Style blog. Lehigh Valley Style is hosting a Singles Happy Hour at Looper's on the Southside of Bethlehem on September 15, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

A woman who works in my dentist's office has been telling me for years about how her son never meets any nice young women. Every six months I get the same story - no prospects. I figure the guy must be either (a) shy, (b) a workaholic and/or (c) gay, because most single women I know would at least go on a first date with a guy who (his mother claims) is good looking, has a job and has his own apartment, if they were asked. Am I right? What should I tell her the next time I'm in the chair for a cleaning?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Haircuts

One of the last things you think about when you move to a new area is where you're going to go to get your hair cut. If you're a woman, you can go plenty of weeks before you realize your hair is growing out unevenly (new me) or your roots are showing (old me).

Fortunately, I had the pleasure of doing business with a few stylish women shortly after moving to the area. I admired Tanya's hairstyle and asked her where she got hers cut. She recommended TC Salon & Spa in Bethlehem. I saw her stylist a few times, but there wasn't any chemistry. History: My stylist in DC was amazing; he became a friend and I saw him for almost eight years, despite his moving over to a tonier location (Friendship Heights) and becoming a big shot salon manager. So I asked the girl at the front desk for a recommendation - I have thick hair, don't need color services, want someone who will likely stick around and has some night hours. She recommended the woman I see now and I've seen her consistently since. She also recommended an aesthetician on staff at TC that I see regularly, too.

If you are looking for a salon and stylist that's right for you, I'd definitely recommend doing what I did - even if it's in the checkout line at Wegman's. I don't think you have to go to a fancy salon to get a great cut or color. The longevity of many converted-porch salons is a testament to that theory. I also don't think you need to drive far away - try visiting a couple of salons within a few miles of your home.

I know two people who drive more than 100 miles to get their hair cut, where they used to live. I say, it's time to cut the cord (you know who you are)!

Pamela Varkony wrote about TC's new salon in Allentown recently. The new salon will be designed by the same firm that did Melt at the Promenade Shops!