Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolution - Lose Weight & Meet People

Love to cry and cheer at NBC's weight loss hit The Biggest Loser? Join Lehigh Valley's version, hosted by the ROC Social Club, an eight-week competition with participants competing in teams of two to lose the most weight and inches.

The ROC will hold weekly weigh-in & measurement sessions at Gold’s Gym in Allentown, Steel Fitness in Bethlehem and the LA Fitness on Mauch Chunk Road in Allentown. The ROC will track weekly results, answer questions and offer workout and nutrition advice through the Fitness For Life Network.

Participants can either workout on their own, or join one of the participating fitness facilities, and weigh in each Friday at 7 PM at the scheduled fitness center for that week.

Cost to join the program including a membership at one of the participating gyms - $80/person. Cost to use gym of choice or if you are already a member at a participating gym - $25/person. Prizes will be awarded to top teams!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolution = meet people + exercise?

New Year's Resolution = meet people + exercise?

I recently learned about the Lehigh Valley Roller Hockey League and Allentown Ball Hockey League. If you're interested in playing roller hockey, even if you've never played before, look them up. The web sites are a little outdated, but the contact information is still correct.

New Year's Resolution: Get a Hobby - Take a kayaking class

In light of the theme of my column in January's Lehigh Valley Style, in the next two weeks I'll be bringing you suggestions of events and activities that can kick start your year with something new, and maybe help you achieve your new year's resolutions.

Need a hobby? Want to meet people who love the great outdoors? How about kayaking and canoeing classes? Kelly Huth from (The Express-Times' online news trove) shared this from their classified section:

The Lehigh Valley Kayak and Canoe Club (LVKCC) will be offering kayaking classes at Lafayette College Ruef Natatorium in Easton starting January 9,2011. Classes will run 8 consecutive Sunday evenings from 6-9 pm ending February 27th. Instruction will be by ACA certified Instructors. Participants will also have an opportunity to follow up the pool sessions with river experience in a specially designed beginner series during the spring and summer. Cost for the course is $150 per person plus a $15 membership fee for joining the LVKCC. Interested individuals should contact Mary Giordano at 908-285-0575.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lehigh Valley Transplant on the radio!

You read Lehigh Valley Transplant blog, follow us on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook. You read "Valley Newbie: The life of an LV transplant" column in Lehigh Valley Style. Now you'll have a chance to hear one transplant's perspective on business and life in the region on WDIY.

Tune in to WDIY (88.1 FM) at 6 p.m. on January 20 to hear "Lehigh Valley Discourse" hosted by Sally Handlon, featuring yours truly and at least one other transplant who's moved his business to the Lehigh Valley. We'll share our thoughts about the Valley from an "outsider's" perspective, talk about current issues and hopefully make you think.

Sally is President of Handlon Business Resources, and author of Lehighvalleylive's Coffee Conversations blog. I'm honored to have been considered to join her show on January 20!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lights in the Parkway

If you haven't seen Lights in the Parkway (1700 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Allentown) yet, there's only one week left! Now through January 2, 2011, admission is $9 per vehicle at the gate ($5 in advance), or reserve a horse drawn carriage ride. The drive-through light display covers more than a mile of one of Allentown's most beautiful parks and features lighted trees, light tunnels and animated displays. Going to see LITP has become an annual tradition for many families throughout the Lehigh Valley. Save $2 with this coupon

According to "It's Happening in Allentown," LITP is "perfect for… kids in their jammies cozy in the backseat, celebrating a holiday tradition, young and young at heart, Wizard of Oz fans, enjoying on the way to or from holiday gatherings and parties, beating cabin fever, brightening your holiday spirit, Allentown residents and visitors from afar, boys and girls who love dinosaurs, safari animals and Cinderella, an economical night out for the whole family, unwinding from seasonal stressors, a spectacular way to transition from 2010-2011, a romantic journey through a winter wonderland."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lehigh Valley Cupcake Watch

Seems like I have a lot of cupcake news to share lately.

Recently, I was working on the March Style column (on Bethlehem - FINALLY!) and wanted to talk about cupcakes in Bethlehem. In New York City, tourists and locals alike line up around the block for a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. A visit to Washington, DC, isn’t complete without a visit to Cakelove on U Street with my friend Holly.
In the Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem’s quirky gift and furniture gallery Home and Planet (25 E. Third St.) now hosts to the region’s first cupcakery, Sugarmama’s Cupcakes. Visitors can pick up a ‘cake inside the store on weekends, and place special orders anytime. There are new flavors every weekend: recent flavors included peanut butter & jelly, chocolate candy cane, coconut snowball, chocolate orange, cinnamon pumpkin and chocolate butterfinger (YUM).

Bethlehem’s own Vegan Treats makes baked goods that will make a believer out of even the most serious carnivore – and their desserts are sold all over New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, too (ironically, even at Busboys and Poets, just around the corner from Cakelove!).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Favorite thing: Holiday Volunteer Opportunities in the Lehigh Valley

Want to do good in the Lehigh Valley in the next two weeks? ValleyWide Help and The Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley have pages dedicated to holiday volunteer opportunities, and The Morning Call's "Be an Angel Campaign" continues through the end of the year.

If you're stressed out this holiday season because you have so much shopping and preparing to do, think of those who won't be shopping at all... and maybe give something to them instead, honoring your loved ones. Or instead of making a fancy dinner, volunteer together with your friends and family.

If you don't think you're the "volunteering type," there are lots of ways to help the local agencies that don't require you to meet the people you're supporting. If you don't have money to give, your time can be just as valuable to the agencies that serve our neighbors.

Does your family have a holiday tradition that includes donating money or volunteering? Please share your comments and suggestions for others.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lehigh Valley Farmers Markets... in winter!

Just a quick note, because I adore Perk on Main (332 Main St., Emmaus) and am longing for spring weather.

I read today that the Emmaus coffee shop will host some of the farmers you know and love from the Emmaus Farmers Market.

Join us between 11 and 12:30 this Sunday, December 19, to pick up items from
several of the farmers. Sign up for the market newsletter to get more info on
who will be there and how to pre-order from some of the farmers.

The indoor Allentown Farmers Market (1825 W. Chew St., Allentown) is open every Thursday through Saturday year-round, and has special hours during the week before Christmas: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, December 21, through Thursday, December 23, and Friday, December 24.

The Lehigh Valley Food Co-Op (also based in Emmaus, but with pick-up sites throughout the Lehigh Valley) continues to operate its "virtual farmers market" through the winter. Here's a list of what they've got right now. You can also select organic produce in your PJ's and pick it up on your porch by placing an order with Pure Sprouts. In the month of December, Pure Sprouts offers Apples, Beets, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Hothouse Lettuce and Tomatoes, Parsnips, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, and Winter Squash.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Favorite Thing: Wacky New Lehigh Valley Holiday Traditions

With all the quaintness of Bethlehem, historic home tours all over the region, and rush to shop in the two weeks before Christmas, we might miss some of the most original, quirky holiday celebrations. When I see them, I'll share them. Here's one: the Open House for the Art Mart and the 2nd Annual Christmas Carol Crawl is this Friday, December 17. It starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Art Mart in the Holiday Inn (9th & Hamilton St, Allentown). At Art Mart's Open House, browse the vast selection of items made by over 25 different local artists. Share some holiday cheer at Made in Brazil (try the Caipirinha, or enjoy $3 Guinness and ½ price appetizers). The 2010 Christmas Carol Crawl will kick off at 7 pm in the Made in Brazil bar but be sure to check in at the Art Mart (also inside the Holiday Inn) to pick up your song list. Then the carolers will stop at Sangria and perform an encore at Allentown Brew Works. Yes, they really do sing, but singing is not required to participate. Wear your Santa hats, ugly Christmas sweaters or other holiday flair. Email to RSVP. You're welcome to join anywhere along the crawl (or get a table at any of the restaurants for a front-row seat!).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lehigh Valley native experience

Here are some of the reasons that Lehigh Valley natives tell me that they think some transplants are weird.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Men's Shopping Nights in the Lehigh Valley

If you're a guy, and like my BF, you have not begun thinking about holiday shopping, let alone actually doing it. Good news: You don't need to think at all in the Lehigh Valley in the next couple of weeks.

The Easton, Just Around the Corner (5 N Bank St., Easton) has planned a Mens' Shopping Night on Wednesday, December 15, 5-9 p.m. Owner Diane and her staff will offer personal shopping assistance, free gift wrapping, complimentary Weyerbacher beer and Colonial Pizza, plus 10% off your entire order!

The Men’s Shopping Night in Bethlehem is Friday, December 17, 5-9 p.m. in Bethlehem's Historic and South Side Shopping Districts. Stores and restaurants will offer discounts on merchandise, free gift wrapping, refreshments and drinks (including beer and scotch), as well as personal shoppers offering advice for men looking to pick up the perfect gift for their loved ones! For more information, visit the Christmas City Website.

At the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley (2845 Center Valley Parkway, Center Valley) on Tuesday, December 21, 5-9 p.m. , men will receive a free cigar when they present Men's Night receipts totaling $50+. The outdoor shopping center is offering free gift wrapping, refreshments, great gift ideas & discounts at participating shops.
Here are a few shopping tips even if you can't make it to the events:
  • Shop local whenever possible. You'll avoid the mall parking lot, long lines and pushy kiosk sales people.
  • Stumped for what to get someone who has everything? Try something consumable... bake some cookies (or buy them from Gail at Back Door Bakeshop - I won't tell), wrap them with beautiful napkins from La Petite Provence (458 Main Street, Bethlehem), and package them in a basket or crate along with a bottle of wine from Sorrenti (new store at 22 N. Third St., Easton), some cheese from Calandra's (350 E. Lawn Rd, Nazareth) and a CD of "A Lehigh Valley Christmas."
  • Ask for help. When I'm shopping for a gift, I don't mind walking into a store like Cleo's (21 East Third Street, South Bethlehem) or Aardvark Sports Shop (571 Main St, Historic Bethlehem) and telling the sales manager what my budget is, and a few details about the gift recipient. The manager or associate often suggests items that I never would have noticed, helps me decide between a few great ideas, or puts together a gift basket with everything I need to surprise my loved one. Armed with a gift receipt, I feel confident the gift will be a winner.

  • Do something together instead of exchanging wrapped gifts. Attend a concert, peek inside some houses on a holiday open house tour, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride. Check out the calendar of events at Discover Lehigh Valley to get started. My family saw Bowfire's holiday show together at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Sunday.
Bowfire at the Sherman Theater, Stroudsburg
Happy shopping!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

New Year's Eve in the Lehigh Valley

I received this reader email recently: "Just wondering if you have any heads up on anything going on in the Lehigh Valley for New Years. My boyfriend and I are both new to the area and looking to make plans!" My pals at Artsquest tell me that the Countdown in Downtown is where the action will be this New Years Eve. You'll get a little bit of Musikfest with performances by Igor & Red Elvises, plus improv comedy by The N Crowd, and Glassblowing & Ice carving demos (natch). Food, wine & beer will be available for purchase, which means the event will be fun, but not be an all-out amateur night, like most open-bar NYE celebrations.

This party replaces the more family-friendly First Night Celebration, which was darn cute and festive but always freezing cold and frequently wet, too, and not that well-attended. The party starts in Downtown Bethlehem on the Christkindlmarkt campus at 8 pm and the lights go on at 12:30 am. Tickets are $30 ($25 for ArtsQuest Members) in advance. Otherwise, tickets are $35 at the door. For tickets and info on VIP upgrades, visit the Artsquest web site.

I'm also told that Valenca (64-66 Centre Sq, Easton) will present a pretty special New Year’s Eve Event. The Portuguese restaurant is offering two dinner packages starting at 8: for $60/person, the Gold Package includes two glasses of wine, salad, appetizer, your choice of entrée, and dessert. Platinum Package includes open bar, salad, appetizer, your choice of entrée, and dessert for $110. Those who stay till midnight can enjoy a complimentary glass of bubbly and party favors. For reservations, call 610-923-5142.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Resolve of the South Side is as Steely as Ever.

I couldn't NOT share this documentary piece by Imani Hamilton and a few other ambitious Lehigh University students for their Lehigh University's J198 course Multimedia Reporting with Professor Jeremy Littau.

Some of my favorite Southside businesses are featured, and they do a nice job of including the perspective some visitors as well. Their web site includes videos interviewing Lou Cinquino about community gardening, photos and videos of the Greenway project, a summary of progress on the Skatepark featuring the ubiquitous Andy Po, podcasts featuring John Pettegrew, Michele Ryder, and Silagh White and and a look forward with Roger Hudak and Javier Toro. Bravo!

While the project was developed as part of a Lehigh University class, it has the potential to educate students and community members alike about the current state of affairs in Bethlehem. I hope that future students are able to continue the project and keep updating for all of us watching.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Favorite thing: The Live Advent Calendar

A new holiday tradition in Downtown Bethlehem is the Advent Calendar opening on Main Street. Each day promptly at 5pm, the Goundie House Door (501 Main St, Bethlehem PA) opens and a surprise for the crowd will come out of the door each night! Performances, prizes, snacks, discounts... every night is something new.

I missed it last night... I was downtown for the Network of Young Professionals happy hour at Tika's, but I didn't make it in time. I did manage to sneak into the Moravian Book Shop to pick up a few gifts, including the newest Witold Rybczynski book for an urbanist in my life:

An ornament to commemorate adopting a rescue dog this year (it's technically a border collie, but it looks a lot like our Australian shepherd "mix"):

And a jar of Stonewall Kitchen cranberry horseradish sauce for someone I know who has a slight obsession with horseradish:

I received Stonewall Kitchen's catalog in the mail and searched the company's online site for local vendors. It was $1 more at the Book Shop, but I didn't pay shipping fees.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Lehigh Valley Transplant experience

This movie is all in good fun. But it is based on one transplant's experience. In my opinion, the municipalities are interchangeable.

Where to get a Christmas tree in the Lehigh Valley

When it comes to decorating your home for Christmas, there's nothing like a tree inside to get grown-ups in the spirit, delight children and intrigue household pets.

In my opinion, the Lehigh Valley has three camps: Purists who cut their own, people who buy pre-cut trees at fundraisers and garden centers, and those who unpack a pre-lit artificial tree.

When I was a big-city dweller, the best option was buying a pre-cut tree. Artificial's out, due to minimal storage in apartments. And cutting down your own tree meant a meaningful trek, a la Griswolds, into Virginia or Maryland farmland. Plus the city would pick up discarded trees on the curb. Nice.

Pre-cut: I've kept the tradition of buying a pre-cut tree mostly out of habit, and it works well for me. I like the smell, and if I wait until the first weekend in December, it lasts until Christmas. I buy my douglas fir from Dan Schantz Greenhouse in Bethlehem, and I pick up greens for decorating my front porch while I'm there. The greenhouse is currently for sale, and I'm hoping another greenhouse operator will take its place. The Boy Scouts, high school bands and local churches often sell pre-cut trees and fundraisers.

Cut your own: But there are also a few local places to cut your own: F.M. Leith profiled a few farms on Yahoo last year. Don't forget farms just over the border in Warren County, NJ, too: Wyckoff's Tree Farm (249 County Road 519, Belvidere), Evergreen Valley Christmas Tree Farm
(71 Jackson Valley Rd, Washington), and Mt. Bethel Christmas Tree Farm (41 Mt. Bethel Rd., Port Murray) are all within an hour's drive.

Fake it: You can get an artificial tree at almost any department store or big-box store. Dan Schantz has some, and so does Lehigh Valley Home and Garden Center.
Once you have your tree, you need to dress it up: I love the ornaments at Cleo's and Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem. I like to kick off the holiday season by picking out a few new ornaments to represent the year's milestones. I also shop after the season is over and pack up my treasures for the next year. When I unpacked a box last night, it was like Christmas morning! I'd forgotten I'd picked up a bunch of large silver and black ornaments to hang on a special strand of greens over the doorway.

When the season's over, I toss the tree in the back of the truck, and drop it off at the municipal compost center. Not as easy as curbside pickup (which I hear some municipalities offer), but it's become part of the tradition.

Happy trimming!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

What you're doing on Thursday night: Lehigh Valley Network of Young Professionals Happy Hour

If you want to meet new people in the Lehigh Valley, especially people who are friendly and also want to meet new people, I can recommend one event in particular:
the monthly Network of Young Professionals happy hour. This month, it's at Tika's (500 Main Street, Bethlehem) on Thursday, December 2, 7-9 p.m.


  • Come a little early and do some holiday shopping on Main Street. Tika's is right next door to Seasons Olive Oil and Vinegar Taproom, and a block up from the Moravian Book Shop.
  • Free parking with validation, at the Walnut St. parking garage.
  • It's not a dating thing, so feel free to bring your significant other if you've got one, or friends, or co-workers, or for that matter, come alone.
  • Bring business cards. Give them when you first meet someone so the person you met is more likely to remember your name.
  • Get to know the people who seem to know other people. They'll introduce you.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

These are a few of my favorite Lehigh Valley things...

I'm no Oprah, but when I find something I love, I have to share it.

Over the next month, not in any specific order, I'll share some of my favorite things in the Lehigh Valley, just in time for the holidays. Some are specific to the holiday season, and others can be enjoyed year-round. My mission is to share some of the great local events, features and gift ideas that make the Lehigh Valley special. There are scores of local traditions surrounding the holidays, organizations with small marketing budgets, and opportunities to give back and/or enjoy the Lehigh Valley. I hope you'll take advantage of some of them.

Please share your favorite things here on the blog, on the Lehigh Valley Transplant Facebook page, or on Twitter (@lvtransplant).

Favorite Thing: Volunteering and Giving Locally
It's the time of year when your family or workplace might be thinking about doing something nice for the community. Adopting-a-family, serving in a soup kitchen, and donating toys for kids are three traditional ways to give. It's hard to know the kinds of needs that community organizations have, particularly because they are frequently so understaffed that they can't return your call. I'm experiencing this right now with one well-known nonprofit in the region.

A couple of organizations in the Lehigh Valley have responded to the needs of the organizations and the community's desire to support them.

The Volunteer Center's web site features a search function, where would-be volunteers can see the kind of work that's available, appropriate and possible for them or their group. Or, check out the Holiday Opportunities page (more organizations are added daily). Highlights: Ring a bell, collect donations, transport seniors to holiday parties, lend a hand at a tree-lighting ceremony.

The Morning Call newspaper compiles a list of organizations that need donations through their "Be an Angel Campaign." The printed version was in this past Sunday's newspaper and is printed more than once during the season. Their web site also provides a helpful tool that can narrow your search. Got a ton of pet supplies you don't need and want to give to an organization in Allentown? There are five groups matching this description that are registered with "Be an Angel," and so far, none have indicated that their wishes have been fulfilled.

Instead of giving a wrapped holiday gift to my parents, I make a donation in their honor to their charity of choice: Equi-librium's therapeutic horseback riding programs. Sometimes I'll pick up a book or CD I think they'd like, but I never have to troll the malls looking for gifts for them, because I know that's what they really want. I recommend this method of celebrating the season: it's much easier than shopping, thoughtful, useful and tax-deductible!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday in the Lehigh Valley

I love local shopping, but I miss some of the stores I enjoyed when I lived in DC or visited friends in other big cities. Trader Joe's, Anthropologie, Dean & Deluca, Papyrus, and Penzey's are some of my old faves. Since the stores were located in urban locations, I'd pop in to pick up something special after meeting friends for brunch in Chevy Chase, before happy hour in Georgetown, or on the way home from work near the White House. I do the same thing now before Civic Theatre shows in Allentown, after lunch in Historic Bethlehem, or following a visit to the Easton Farmer's Market.

In preparation for Cyber Monday, I did some online research on Cyber Monday Eve (Sunday night). I started by visiting Lots of dealies all day, some announced by the hour.

Then, I went to my old standby, Retailmenot. For as little shopping as I do online (Boden, Penzey's, maybe Harry & David), I always check for discount codes. I frequently find extra gifts and shipping deals. With my standard Penzey's order (including refills of curry powder, garlic salt and cinnamon), I got an extra 1/2 cup jar of Arizona Dreaming and 1/4 cup jar of Bicentennial Rub free.

I wouldn't be me if I didn't remind you of great opportunities to shop locally, too. Retailmenot also keeps track of printable coupons for local retailers. Right now Aardvark Sports Shop is offering 15% off apparel and accessory items (A couponclipper offer). Akroyd Hardware will give you $5 off a $25 purchase (a Valpak offer). And those are just two stores starting with the letter A in Bethlehem. You get the idea!

Also, check out the local site on Etsy to browse some crafts and gifts that 30 local artists have created and shared with the world. From handmade jewelry to stationery, soaps, doll clothing, and stuffed plush cupcakes, there's a wide variety of items as well as price points.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cupcake Happy Hour: Apotheca Salon, Shuze and Guerilla Cupcakes

This Thanksgiving Eve, instead of going to a high school reunion, I invited a couple of young female entrepreneurs to meet for cupcake happy hour. I'd heard about a company called Guerilla Cupcakes, and reached out to its owner, Marina, by email. She offered to bring "samples" over to the south side of Bethlehem, where my friends Amanda and Jennifer are both small business owners. Marina got her start in October when, after baking for friends and neighbors, she branded her company with a cute skull and crossbones logo and brought the goods to the Day of the Day celebration in Allentown. She imports some of her ingredients from her hometown in Puerto Rico, and is happy to mix up a batch of all-organic or vegan cupcakes. She doesn't have a storefront (yet... we are encouraging her though), but she does take orders. She moved to the Valley to be near her boyfriend, also a transplant working at Lutron. If you're craving a cupcake with a unique flavor, email Marina or call 347.839.3239.

Marina, la reina de cupcakes.

Some of Guerilla Cupcakes' amazing treats - Puerto Rican vanilla with vanilla butter cream, Smoldering Chocolate with chocolate orange butter cream, and carroty cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting

Amanda and her business partner Julie started Apotheca Salon after many years working as estheticians at other salons. After a while, they both realized they wanted to do more for their clients, and finding the perfect spot at 101 East Third Street in Bethlehem, they opened Apotheca this summer. Their style is casual and unpretentious, eco-friendly and always ahead of the trends. In addition to skin care services, including waxing, visitors can shop in Apotheca's boutique, try out new skin care and makeup products, get a spray tan, and have their hair cut, colored and styled by Apotheca's stylists. I've been a loyal customer since 2006 and am thrilled to see their business taking off. To make an appointment, call 484.821.1497.

A few of Apotheca's yummy treats.

Amanda King, one of the two owners of Apotheca Salon, and our gracious hostess.

Finally, Jennifer Mann and her partner Rich opened Shuze two years ago at 17 East Third Street on the South Side of Bethlehem. They have since expanded, opening a store next to Wired Cafe at 520 Main Street in Bethlehem, too. Their philosophy is: shoes, handbags, clothing, accessories, *fun. Both stores are go-to places to shop for yourself or for a gift for a fashionable friend or family member. If you're not sure what the of-the-moment accessory is, trust Shuze's fashionistas to recommend. There's never pressure to buy, and you leave feeling great, even if you don't get anything this time. Believe me, you'll be back. If your gift isn't the perfect fit (like the pair of shoes I tried to buy for my bf), returns are welcome. Shuze is offering $30 for $60 on Groupon today, so now's a good time to sign up if you haven't yet... 50% off accessories and shoes? Yes, please.

Jennifer Mann, actually sitting down (a rare sight), yes, she's the one that owns Shuze and won the Young Athena Award, NOT the state rep.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Opening Black Friday: ArtMart in Allentown

Art Mart, an artist-operated and locally-created holiday shop, is returning to downtown Allentown. The store officially opens Wednesday, Dec. 1 and will be open during the Downtown Tree Lighting from 4-8 on Dec. 2. The pop-up shop is located at the Holiday Inn at 9th and Hamilton streets and will exclusively feature handmade, original goods by area artists and artisans, including one-of-a-kind gifts such as knitted and crocheted hats and scarves, jewelry, hair accessories, home décor, and original art. Each Saturday, artists will demonstrate their work inside the store. Art Mart will be open from Dec. 1-31: Wednesdays 11-2 & 4-7 Thursdays 11-2 & 4-7 (Dec 2 is City Tree Lighting - we will be open until 8) Fridays 11-2 & 4-8 (Dec 24 and 31 there will be no 4-8 shift) Saturday s 12-7 For more information, visit the ArtMart Facebook page, call 215-704-9497, or send an email.

Where should he open a Middle Eastern restaurant in the Lehigh Valley?

I received a reader email this week from a woman whose nephew very wants to open a small, family-run restaurant with a modern middle eastern menu. She writes:
"He will be putting all of his savings into this venture. I know how fickle the restaurant biz is. Do you have any advice for him as to anew growth location ...a bad location... where growth is going? Is the area around Lehigh University...a good location? what do you think??? any advice is great. Thank so much. Aunt Sharon"
First of all - Aunt Sharon, you are awesome. If/when your nephew's place opens, I'd like to share a modern middle eastern meal with you, whatever that means! Second, I think now is an awesome time to start a business, especially if you don't need bank financing. Your nephew can even get advice from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Lehigh University. The SBDC provides consulting services and educational programs to entrepreneurs wanting to start or grow a small business. Their consultants can help test a new business proposition, shape a business plan, or find funding. If I were going to open a small business, I'd look to the areas where other young entrepreneurs are finding success. One test? If a business with a demographic to my target market has renewed its lease (maybe more than once!). So, a young, first-time business owner wants to serve up Middle Eastern cuisine, with modern vibe. A few neighborhoods come to mind.

  • First, check out Seventh Street in Allentown. If your nephew wants to be along the Valley's "ethnic restaurant row," this is it. It's where many people go to find authentic Caribbean, Chinese, Mediterranean, Thai, Mexican, Central American, Italian, and southern cuisine. Call Peter Lewnes at 7th Street.

  • Next, look at the south side of Bethlehem. Businesses like Loose Threads, Homebase, Eskandalo, and Shuze have found that proximity to Lehigh University and Moravian College, as well as a growing shopping/dining/arts district, means good foot traffic for reasonable rents. Ethnic restaurants like General Zapata, Tulum, Nawab, Thai Kitchen and Olive Branch do brisk take-out and eat-in business. Call Samantha Schwartz at the Downtown Bethlehem Association.

  • Finally, research downtown Easton. The food scene in Easton is arguably the best in the Valley. Many Easton restaurants have a full book on Friday and Saturday nights. Lafayette College is nearby, and Easton's proximity to New Jersey (and its residents' taste for food they've tasted in New York and its suburbs) means you've got a decently sophisticated palette to work with. There is already one good Middle Eastern restaurant, Phoenicia, but that shouldn't preclude you from calling Kim Kmetz at Easton Main Street.
Readers - any thoughts? Especially business owners?

LVIA vs. EWR, PHL and MDT - Go local when traveling!

Transplants in particular do a lot of traveling, or hosting out-of-town guests, especially around the holidays. In my research on restaurants near the airport, I came across a useful tool on the Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA or ABE) web site.

If you're pricing flights out of the area, you can easily calculate the actual costs to fly out of our local airport compared to other regional airports (Newark/EWR, Philadelphia/PHL, or Harrisburg/MDT). I'll admit that I favor flying out of Newark for west coast flights, mostly because there are lots of direct flights in and out of the larger airport, and there's less likelihood that I'll miss my scheduled departure because I'm stuck in traffic (ahem - PHL). But if I want to fly anywhere else, particularly the midwest, south, or Canada, our local airport is where I look first. Almost any day of the week, you can hop on a direct flight out of LVIA to Toronto, Washington/Dulles, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, and multiple Florida locations.

Right now, round-trips to Orlando/Sanford, Orlando, and Ft. Lauderdale all average less than $150. I was surprised to learn that round trip flights out of the Lehigh Valley to Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix, and Seattle were all less than $200 (*before taxes and fees, Saturday night stay). This is competitive with other regional airports, not to mention the time and cost for driving and parking (or car service) to the airport.

In addition, parking at LVIA is closer, cheaper and doesn't require a shuttle - or you can have someone drop you off. Our local airport is easy to navigate, is less crowded and a lot quieter. There are rarely lines for check-in and security, and baggage claim is a breeze. Wi-Fi is free. The planes are smaller, so boarding times are shorter. I've never been "bumped" from a flight out of Lehigh Valley - they're rarely oversold. However, you won't have the same shopping or dining experience that you might enjoy at a larger airport (if that matters to you), or as many options: you're less likely to be able to fly standby, and if your carrier cancels your flight, you might be driving to Philly or Newark anyway.

(A note to anyone who is considering taking a trip on Continental Airlines out of LVIA: many "flights" actually begin with a shuttle bus trip from Lehigh Valley to Newark, which is included in your ticket price.)

Happy Thanksgiving, to all you locals and transplants - and remember, as much as possible this holiday season, go local!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Restaurants near "ABE" airport

I'm all for supporting local businesses, franchises and indie places. But a recent question and follow-up comments on Twitter got me thinking.

Looking for another local restaurant to try on Thursday night!

@missdezubay Location/Cuisine preference?

@mldrabenstott Near the airport...

@missdezubay Ooh -- dead zone for good restaurants.
Not much of interest unless you head toward Union Blvd -- Pho to East, Alladin
to west.

When Vanessa from @ValleyYPs and I were planning to meet for lunch near the airport, I asked her, where do people go for lunch around the airport? She replied: Saladworks.

Especially when you want to meet someone who's "on the other side of the Valley" from where you live or work, the area near Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA - but locals and the FAA still call it ABE) is pretty convenient - right off Route 22 and lots of options. So, what's the state of dining near the airport and the industrial parks that surround it? If you've never been, I recommend that you visit Mocha Mike's, Taste of Italy, Copperhead Grille, and Cactus Blue. Here's a breakdown of what's available:

  • Coffee: Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Mocha Mike's (a drive-through at the Westgate Mall - if you have never been, it's fun and convenient)
  • Italian/Pizza: Airport Pizza (3360 Airport Road, Allentown), Taste of Italy (1860 Catasauqua Road, Allentown)
  • Sushi: Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse (1916 Catasauqua Road, Allentown)
  • Hot dogs: Dad's Hot Dogs (2362 Catasauqua Road, Bethlehem) or Yocco's (1930 Catasauqua Road, Allentown)
  • Sandwiches, soups, wrap, salads: American Cafe & Grill (995 Postal Road, Allentown), Saladworks Bethlehem (3215 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem), PrimoHoagies (2410 Catasauqua Road, Bethlehem)
  • BBQ: Dickey's Barbecue Pit (3221 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem)
  • Steaks: Gregory's Restaurant (2201 Schoenersville Road, Allentown), Jack Creek Steakhouse (1900 Catasauqua Road, Allentown), Prime Steak House (325 Stoke Park Road, Bethlehem) a.k.a. "where Steak and Ale used to be."
  • Chinese: Mi Chong's (3350 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem) or Garden Family Chinese Restaurant (2915 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem)
  • BYOB/no alcohol: Cactus Blue (2915 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem), Friendly's
  • Sit-down restaurants with a full bar: Copperhead Grille (1731 Airport Road, Allentown), Roma Ristorante (925 Airport Center Drive, Allentown), Applebee's, Chess'N Checkers (1801 Airport Road, Allentown), Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (1875 Airport Road, Allentown). There will soon be a PJ Whelihan's Pub a.k.a. "where Bennigan's/Paddy's was" (3395 High Point Boulevard, Bethlehem)
  • The new shopping center on Airport Road at Route 22 also has The Gyro Company, On the Border, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Panera Bread, and Zoup (1830 Airport Road, Allentown)
What do you think?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hot Yoga in the Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley Yoga (1701 Union Blvd, Allentown) is hosting the first hot yoga classes in the Lehigh Valley Fridays at 6:00 pm. This yoga pratice is for those who enjoy working up a sweat, as well as a flowing through a series of yoga poses. The room is usually maintained at a temperature of 95-100 degrees. A vigorous hot yoga session promotes profuse sweating and makes the body very warm, and in theory, more flexible.

Some people claim that this type of yoga produces detoxification of the body (because of all the sweating, I guess). I haven't personally experienced this, but if you don't feel your hangover as much following the class (whether it's due to the workout or the large quantities of water you'll inevitably consume), go for it. I attended some classes at the Bikram Yoga College in DC. The classes were packed with men and women who like their exercise a little extreme - mountain climbers, boxers, bodybuilders, and people who try radical diets and exercise challenges (e.g. 100 days of consecutive yoga classes). The classes were tough. I have a feeling the Lehigh Valley Yoga classes are a little more moderate, but I haven't been to class yet, so who knows!

If you go, bring your own yoga mat and towel, and dress for the heat. Hot Yoga is not advised for pregnant women, beginners or people with heart problems or high blood pressure.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shop Local: Milk and Honey Kids, Bethlehem and Allentown

Gorgeous photos by Patrice Mitchell
Sometimes I seek out business owners for the scoop on their businesses, and sometimes they find me. Rebecca, the owner of Milk and Honey Kids (3303 Bath Pike, Bethelehem and 3900 Hamilton Blvd, Allentown - both next to Talbots), sent me a sweet email... the kind this blogger loves to get, beginning with, "Hi, I just stumbled across your blog, Like you I wasn't born here, lived here on and off growing up and returned 3 years ago."

Rebecca worked for J Crew in NYC and Greenwich, CT, and after being a manager for years, she decided to be a personal shopper. When she and her family moved to the Valley, she noticed that there weren't any children's boutiques. Since June she's opened two very successful stores and carries some lines of apparel, gifts and toys that no other Lehigh Valley retail carries: Tori Spelling's Little Mavens by Hartstrings,

KC Parker clothes for pre-teens, Olive Juice clothes for kids, Melissa and Doug educational toys for children (including completely affordable and adorable wooden dollhouses and huge stuffed toys), and an item I think is genius... teething necklaces from Sonny and Reed. Wonder if they come with matching earrings.

The store is packed with unique items. It's perfect if you need a gift for a baby or kid but have no idea what to get. Rebecca and her team can recommend items in a variety of price ranges. Or if you're like me and dread gift registries at big box stores, shopping at Milk and Honey Kids is a breath of fresh air.

But like LeVar Burton said on Reading Rainbow, don't take my word for it: See what Patrice Mitchell, Lehigh Valley Momma, MOOB Train (Mom Owned/Operated Businesses) and Laini's Little Pocket Guide have to say.

Special thanks to Rebecca for hosting a little trunk show fundraiser for the horses and kids at Equi-librium therapeutic riding, and best wishes on your plans for growing Milk and Honey Kids in and outside the Lehigh Valley!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teavana... where did I hear about this place?

If you are like me, you sometimes "know" something but can't remember how you learned it. Google Reader has saved me many times. If you read a bunch of blogs but do not maintain an RSS Feed, or aren't even sure what an RSS Feed is, Google Reader is a great tool. Just log on to Google (if you don't have an account, creating one is free), then under "Reader," you can subscribe to the web sites and blogs you enjoy reading. Just "add a subscription" when you find a new site you want to follow, and delete it if you change your mind. Then when you're trying to remember how you read about something, you can search using a keyword instead of racking your brain.

This week, I couldn't remember where I'd read about Teavana, the new tea shop open in the Lehigh Valley Mall. It is a chain, but a new chain concept to the Valley, so I wanted to share it with you.

Instead, since it was so easy to find their posts, I'll let you read what The ElVee, Lehigh Valley Momma, and Retail Watch had to say about it.

I wrote about tea earlier this year. I didn't mention that in DC, I loved Teaism, an Asian tea house that serves up tasty bento box lunches along with a wide variety of teas and amazing salty oat cookies. Holly and Liesl tweeted about being able to enjoy a salty oat cookie together earlier this week, and now I can't get them off my mind.

In the Lehigh Valley, I enjoy shopping at Christine's Secret Garden for tea at home, now that Cupteavity is closed. If I'm not in Easton, I can even get her teas at Tallarico's Chocolates in Bethlehem and the Kitchen Warehouse in the Allentown Farmer's Market.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Join something... meet someone!

When you're new somewhere, you might feel a little lonely 'til you find your "people." Transplants aren't the only ones seeking "community." Frankly, anyone who's new to their station in life (marital status, kids, career changes) might want to connect to some other people who share a common bond. The most common question I get is how to meet people in the Lehigh Valley - not just for dating or drinking, but for meaningful, life-enriching conversations and experiences. I've been collecting a list of groups that might be a good match for anyone who has an interest in developing new friendships!

  • The newcomers club of the greater Lehigh Valley is a group of women who help new residents as well as those who have a change in lifestyle (new baby, single, widowed, retired, etc.) by introducing them to new friends in the Lehigh Valley. They meet once a month, plan social, civic and charitable events, and have a great time sharing their unique histories and new shared community. They even have a Facebook page.

  • The Network of Young Professionals is an active group of men and women who want to get the most out of their experience in the Lehigh Valley. They aim to foster awareness of employment possibilities, welcome new young professionals to the area, support community organizations, provide professional development opportunities, and engage in social networking. If you go to an event, you don't need to bring a friend - every time I attend a "Net" event, I meet people who say "I just started a new job and the people I work with said I should join this group." Everyone is up for trying new things and meeting new people. Check out their calendar of events or join their email list for occasional updates.

  • Love a little physical action, paired with female bonding and snarky humor? Maybe Lehigh Valley Rollergirls can be your new sorority. The Lehigh Valley Rollergirls, the area's only women's flat track roller derby league, and the best players from this league compete together on one travel team, the Hissy Fits. Come see all the action.

  • Have twins (or higher multiples)? Check out the Moms of Multiples of the Lehigh Valley. They meet in Fogelsville on 2nd Thursdays.

  • It's cold outside! If you're thinking about knitting, meet up with The Knit Wits at the Whitehall Panera every other Thursday at 7. Meet, mingle and trade yarns with local knitters, crocheters and needle point addicts! Join the group for a relaxing evening of comparing patterns, sharing techniques and trading tips on stitches, sweaters,

  • Lehigh Valley MochaMoms is a committed to helping stay-at-home mothers of color connect to one another & the community.

  • Do you imagine yourself fit and strong, striding comfortably down the road during an easy workout or a 5K race? First Strides, a gradual 12-week program, will help you comfortably progress from the couch to walking, jogging or running at a pace that's right for you. Groups meet weekly in Bethlehem, Bethlehem Township, Allentown, Hanover Township, and Stroudsburg.

  • Didn't see a group here that floats your boat? Check out this week's calendar on for more options. From Quakertown to Nazareth and everywhere between, basketball and volleyball, meditation and crafting, dineouts to weightloss support, there is a group meeting THIS week.

If you try out one of these groups, report back... how did it go? If you're an administrator or member of one of these groups, put in your two cents. And as always... let me know what I missed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Apartments in the Lehigh Valley

I recently received this reader email: Hello: I was searching for information relative to the LV due to the fact that my daughter is graduating college (Lafayette) next spring and has been offered a job in Allentown. We are trying to find out information relative to where a 22-year-old can live and do in the area. I am wondering if you had any advice. She is from Boston and likes a balance life between arts, music, sports and bar scene. ----- Here's my response. Thanks for your note. You must be very proud of your daughter! In my opinion, downtown (North Side/Historic) Bethlehem is where most of the 20- and 30- somethings live that enjoy the arts, restaurants, shopping, and live music. It is convenient to Easton and Allentown by Route 22, Route 78 or side roads, and within walking distance of the canal towpath (for walking/running), and a lot of events in the Lehigh Valley take place in downtown Bethlehem. Apartments vary widely, some are new or renovated, others older and consequently a bargain. Lots of second-story walkups, carriage houses and little rental homes. You can easily find them on Craigslist. "Riverport" on the South Side and "Silk Mill" on the North Side are in former industrial buildings but are brand-new inside - lots of people rent their condos at Riverport and a gym and sports bar are attached. There are apartment communities around the Valley but living in Bethlehem will put her at the center of everything. ------ Of course, I recommended Bethlehem - it's where I live and most of the young people I know have lived in downtown Bethlehem at some point and love it. But I know many of you live elsewhere and have different opinions and experiences. What would you have told this very considerate dad with excellent taste in blogs?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making and keeping resolutions in the Lehigh Valley - Part 1

Here's Part 1 of my series on New Year's Resolutions! Check out the January issue of Lehigh Valley Style for the rest!

A new year always holds renewed hopes and dreams for the 12 months ahead. Many of us take some time over the holiday season to dedicate ourselves to something we wish we did better or differently, less or more. We can’t help it – making resolutions is a time-honored tradition.

Are you starting a journey now, or continuing one you meant to start last year? My friends and I have made resolutions, too, and many of us have had great success achieving them here in the Lehigh Valley. I researched some of the most popular resolutions people make and will share some insider tips on local resources that can help you to stick with it.

I want… to Get a Better Education/Learn Something New

Whether it’s for your own personal enrichment, or to get a better or different job, you may be thinking about furthering your education. The Lehigh Valley’s colleges and universities offer a wide variety of programs for traditional and non-traditional students alike. If you decide to enroll, you’d be in good company – more than 45,000 students get their higher education from 11 local colleges and universities each year. Whether it’s an associate’s degree, a technical degree or that master’s or doctoral degree that you’ve been dreaming about, the Lehigh Valley’s schools offer programs for every budget and schedule – days, nights, weekends, and online. Not sure where to start? Don’t be shy – call one of the recruiters. They can give you advice about their school and help you find your place. The staff at Lehigh University has patiently guided me through stops and starts in my MBA program enrollment… and this year, I’ll finally get back on track (I promise, Corinn!). A few friends have finished that elusive bachelor’s degree as adult students at Penn State Lehigh Valley and Muhlenberg College. Many others are chipping away at graduate degrees and professional certificates via part-time programs at Cedar Crest College, DeSales University and Moravian College. One friend is a Temple medical student, who will complete her last three years of school at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem!

To get specific training, the region’s two community colleges, Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) and Northampton Community College (NCC), offer more programs than you knew were possible. The schools feature workshops and courses in everything from computer training to language skills, culinary arts to local history (and walking tours hosted by yours truly!), at multiple locations in the region. Classes are available for academic credit, and non-credit classes are also offered for those who simply wish to broaden their horizons.

But community colleges aren’t the only place to take a class. Courtney and I tried to learn how to knit last year at The Knitter's Edge, on West Broad Street at 15th Avenue in Bethlehem. The operative word here is “tried.” Our instructor was helpful but firm, and we didn’t give her any lip – she had clearly dealt with amateurs like us before! Most local knitting stores host regular knitting circles and classes on site. Classes are cheap - often $5 or less - and the stores often offer discounts on your purchase of supplies. A writer-friend raves about her positive experiences with the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, which hosts monthly meetings with speakers and “how to” sessions, critique and writing workshops, and an informal writers café. They help one another with content as well as the business of writing. If you’re interested in the creative arts, ArtsQuest and the Baum School of Art offer courses for beginners and experienced artists alike. It’s never too late to learn to ski or snowboard – and Bear Creek Resort in Macungie might be the place to do it. Their Snowsports School offers newbies a Discovery Program, an ongoing lesson designed for new skiers and riders that includes all the gear you need, and encourages you to hit the slopes when you feel you’ve mastered the basic skills.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Groupon comes to the Lehigh Valley

Like Brangelina and staycation, Groupon is a made-up word that is greater than the sum of its parts. Groupon negotiates huge discounts on popular local goods, services and cultural events. Then the site offers the deals to subscribers in a free daily email. The deals are activated only when a minimum number of people agree to buy. So subscribers get a great deal and the business gets a ton of new customers. More than just a deal site, Groupon is a city guide, a social tool and, the site claims, the best way to experience your city without paying full price.

Lindsey told me about Groupon a while back: how she and her friends got discounted spa services in New York, how she and Rob scored great bargains for their honeymoon in Charleston, but alas... there was no Groupon in the Lehigh Valley (until now!).

Today I received an email that Groupon is offering its first deal in the Lehigh Valley: "$10 for $20 Worth of Pub Grub and Drinks" at Molly’s Irish Grille & Sports Pub (4 E 4th St. & New St., Bethlehem - location of the former Bridgeworks and Lehigh Pub). On a webinar I attended last week, Seth Godin talked about how Groupon is the fastest-growing company in the US. But it's not all great news: some businesses, in an effort to attract new customers, make deals with Groupon that they can't support. One coffee shop in Portland made a deal with Groupon, attracted 1,000 customers, then nearly went bankrupt trying to uphold its end of the bargain. BusinessInsider sheds light on what might have happened: "Two-thirds of the businesses in a Rice University study reported making a profit off of their offers. The lesson for the other third isn't that Groupon is broken, it's that they did a below average job putting together an offer."

Subscribe to Groupon Allentown/Bethlehem and be the first to know about deals right here, or subscribe to Groupon's emails in other cities if you're traveling for work or taking a vacation!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's new?

If you aren't already following Lehigh Valley Transplant on Twitter and Facebook, doing so is a great way to get updates about events and share your thoughts (or just your enthusiasm - which I love)! Speaking of social media, check out the little widgets (buttons) at the bottom of this post. You can share the posts you read with your social network, email pals, and blog readers by clicking once.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Life in the Lehigh Valley 'Burbs?

Many transplants end up buying homes in neighborhoods that their realtors tell them are "safe," and have "good schools," that are both newly-constructed and far-removed from the cities, transportation hubs, and center of activities in the Lehigh Valley.

This weekend, I met a woman who blushed when she described where she and her family lived (Orefield). "We didn't know better when we moved here," she said, and said how much she and her husband love visiting Bethlehem. But, she said, now it's too late. It got me thinking.

Another woman I know grew up in a small city and now lives in Breinigsville, and now laments having moved out "so far." She used the term "cookie-cutter" to describe her neighborhood, and said there were no decent restaurants or grocery stores nearby. She said feels like she lives in her car.
If you live and work at home in the suburbs, as my friends Lori and Amy do, it can be challenging to meet people, and I credit both of them for going out and finding ways to connect with other women in the Lehigh Valley, through their hobbies (fitness and gardening, respectively).

Some people say many realtors are guilty of racial steering. Basically it refers to when real estate brokers guide prospective home buyers towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on their race. I don't know about that for sure, but I'd say that some realtors do steer young people and newcomers away from older neighborhoods.

A few friends have told me about how much they enjoy living in their community in Forks Township, where just about everyone is under 40 and has little kids. Since neighbors have a lot in common and everyone moved in around the same time, they started fun traditions like block parties and group yard sales right off the bat. During the day, they go to the community center together, since many women stay at home with the kids, and their partners work/commute long hours in New Jersey.

I'm not saying that there aren't good reasons to live in the 'burbs, especially if you know the area well enough to choose a neighborhood, a developer, and a school district, based on real facts, not myth, history or weird statistics. But if you "don't know better," and you rely on your realtor to recommend, you will likely end up far from the center of Lehigh Valley nightlife, culture, and the activities that many of you tell me you want to do.

How did you end up where you did? Now that you live in the Lehigh Valley, do you wish you had done anything differently, or are you happy with your decision? And why?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Trick or Treat... 7 days a week!

I finally got around to reading my Go Guide, The Morning Call's weekly insert that features some of the most/only original feature writing in the paper. I only subscribe to the Sunday print edition, but magic elves deliver the paper on Thursday and Friday as well, and I don't complain.

This week, the Go Guide is a veritable to do list for fall fun. A million Halloween events, plus a list of every local parade and trick or treat nights. Yes, nights! For some reason, each Lehigh Valley municipality declares its own special time for kiddies (of all sizes) to go door-to-door begging for candy. In Bethlehem, it's Friday the 28th from 6-8 p.m. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE seeing the kids, especially between the ages of 4 and 7, at my doorstep. Dressed as superheroes, princesses and dinosaurs, they are the cutest thing to arrive on my porch since the fall Boden collection shipment came in (don't worry - it's still buying local, sorta - their US warehouse is near Wilkes-Barre, PA!). But the "big kids" without chaperones are a little scary, and I don't mean their masks and makeup. I know that most of them are not from my neighborhood. They're working the system - since different municipalities have Trick or Treat night at different times, they can clean up by hitting a different town each night. I actually admire their entrepreneurial spirit and energy, but after I've handed out 100 pieces, it's lights out. I can't afford to supply every ghoul and goblin in the 610 area code with candy.

Advice to my neighbors: get here early, because the kids from out-of-town are likely to scoop up the good stuff before you even cross the street.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New initiative/organization - Beer Run

Some of my fellow transplants complain that they haven't found their "people" or an organization similar to one they enjoyed where they used to live.

I've got to hand it to Cara Crumbliss - inspired by a club she participated in elsewhere, she took the bull by the horns and created a running club for people who like to drink socially.

She even created a mission statement!
To welcome and encourage all fitness levels
To incorporate the art of beer drinking into your fitness goals
To explore the Lehigh Valley's running paths and watering holes
To promote the responsible consumption of beer
To create a fun and safe community of fellow beer & running lovers
The group has met twice already. The next BEERRUN is this Wednesday, September 29, at 7:30 pm. To join the group, meet in the hall outside Aardvark Sports Shop at the Main Street Commons, at Main and Broad Streets in Bethlehem. The group will run approximately 3.5 miles through Bethlehem, then enjoy post run libations at Bethlehem Brew Works... $2 Wits and Trivia!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Re-post - new dates for "The Office" tour

The NBC's hit show The Office is "set" in Scranton, PA, a mere 1-hour drive north of the Lehigh Valley (though it's filmed in California, the characters make a lot of local references and the opening credits feature shots of the real Scranton). Out-of-towners can take The Office Fan Tour, a guide to the famous and not-so-famous spots from the Emmy-winning show, including sitting down for a pint at Poor Richards. (Of course, Scrantonians would never be caught dead on a tour like this! Most think it's ridiculous and cannot figure out what the hype is all about.)

Tickets: Over 21 years (a bottle of exotic Yuengling Lager included in ticket price): $45, Under 21 years: $35

When: 12-4 p.m.
Saturday, 10/16/2010
Saturday, 11/13/2010
Saturday, 12/11/2010

The tour kicks off at The Vintage Theater - 119 Penn Ave (across from The Mall at Steamtown) in Downtown Scranton. Tickets include transportation around Scranton, lively tour guides, history of the city, stories from cast appearances, food and drinks at Coopers, drinks at Poor Richard's Pub, and even a gift bag featuring a few Dunder Mifflin items from the NBC store.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Do I Find Out What's Happening?

Greer asked me a GREAT question this week: "There were a ton of emails in Providence, RI, that told people about upcoming events. Does the Lehigh Valley have any?" The answer is: Yes! I subscribe to a few goodies, and I'll provide links here to sign up for them. If you have any other suggestions, please make a comment below.

There's a ton of blog content out there filled with up-to-the-minute information about local events. I link to a lot of them on this page. Enjoy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

While researching a piece on New Year's resolutions, I came across a list of the most popular resolutions in the US:
  • Drink Less Alcohol/Quit Drinking
  • Get a Better Education/Learn Something New
  • Get a Better Job
  • Get Fit/Lose Weight
  • Get Organized
  • Manage Debt/Save Money
  • Quit Smoking
  • Reduce Stress
  • Spend More Time with Family & Friends
  • Take a Trip
  • Volunteer to Help Others
I think I can make this into a helpful weekly blog series starting October 18. I'd like to share resources and start a dialogue about how the Lehigh Valley has everything you need to accomplish these goals. I'd like to start in October, so that all of you who are resolving to get organized can plan ahead.

Suggestions are welcome! Let me know what you've done to achieve any of these resolutions in your own life.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Gallery opening tonight at Ambre Studio

Readers of Lehigh Valley Transplant are invited by Evelyn Beckman, designer and gallery owner, to the art opening at Ambre Studio (310 West Broad Street, Bethlehem), tonight, Sept 9th, from 6-9 p.m. Meet the artist, Laura Borneman, network with other art lovers, and enjoy some free food and beverages. Plenty of metered street parking is available.

An artist speaking event on Saturday, Sept 11, 4 p.m., will chronicle a professional artist’s journey and the progression of a body of work.

The paintings and drawings of the award-winning California resident artist will be on display at Ambre' Studio through November 12.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Sophistikate (574 Main Street Bethlehem - the corner of Broad & Main Streets) is opening this weekend, adding a new dimension to shopping on Main Street in Bethlehem.

I visited with Kate Falasca last week and got a sneak preview of her new women's boutique. There were already of-the-moment clothes on the racks and shelves! She's picked out items by Parameter, Three Dots, Nicole Miller, Autumn Cashmere, Ted Dufresne, Beth Bowley (a brand I love that's sold at Anthropologie - I miss shopping at its Georgetown and Rockville locations), perfect-fit DL1961 Jeans, and Charlotte Tarantola. The store will also offer bags by Magnes Sisters and jewelery by QVC darling Kenneth Jay Lane. She opened a huge box of new Cosabella lingerie while we were there, tearing into it like it was Christmas morning, cooing over the designs and fabrics. One pair of leggings looks like a pair of jeans! There's a selection of clothing in every price range, and in many (real) sizes.

You'll find only a couple of the lines she's carrying on racks in other retail stores in the Valley (Loose Threads Boutique and Sage are two of them), and the items she has are different from those you'll find even in those stores.

Kate has personally selected each item for the store, and has a story to go along with each piece or designer. She has earned her stripes working for Nicole Miller and retail stores, and really knows her stuff. The store is perfect for anyone who shops online for designer clothes, or makes occasional pilgrimages to their favorite stores in SoHo or South Street in Philly. It's also a great place to find an outfit for a special occasion; if it doesn't fit you right off the hanger, the tailor from Sew On and Sew Forth (85 E. Broad Street Bethlehem) is on call to make it work. Kate will also place special orders and help you find the perfect thing if you don't see it in the store.

The building's prime location should bring incidental tourist traffic, but it's worth the trip. If you've been around a while, you might remember when "the Alphagraphics building" burned in 2005. A new building replaced it, then plans for Serpico Mediterranean and Pangaea Champagne and Sushi Lounge fell through. Sophistikate is the building's first tenant (other than its owner's office suite upstairs). Check out the store's web site - it's beautifully-designed and very informative.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cosmopolitan: The restaurant (part 2 of 2)

Cosmopolitan (22 North Sixth Street, Allentown) will be opening in just a few weeks, and will feature the Lehigh Valley's only honest-to-goodness celebrity chef. Bryan Sikora co-founded popular Philadelphia restaurant Django and Kennett Square's phenomenal Talula's Table, often called "the hardest reservation to get in the country," where reservations require a full-year's wait.

Bryan, approachable and passionate, works on Cosmopolitan's menu in a construction zone.

It's not too often that the Valley gets to enjoy cooking by the kind of chef that hangs out with Martha. Whose restaurant was profiled on NPR. And who's so serious about farm-to-table cuisine, one supplier made a variety of salad greens for him, and then coined it the Sikora mix forevermore.

Guests will consider Bryan's unique menu selections seated on one of three levels of dining, each covered with soft fabrics and leather, lush carpet and strategically-placed LED spotlights, a cozy atmosphere to enjoy dinner, drinks, and muse (a bite of food somewhere between an amuse bouche and a tapa - more like a single hors d'oeuvre). The first level will have live acoustic jazz four nights a week, private banquettes, a bar, and a few key see-and-be-seen two- and four-top tables. Up one flight of stairs or a quick elevator ride, guests can peer down through a hole in the floor, created to hold a two-story chandelier, lovingly restored since its days hanging in the now-closed Hess' department store in downtown Allentown.

The draft lunch menu includes ingredients like tuna tartar, crispy baby artichokes, and tomato gelee, but visitors can also choose a simpler, more affordable lunch combination, featuring seasonal ingredients. The first selection may include a potato chowder, garden salad and petite crab cake sandwich for a mere $9. Saladworks, it is not.

Dinner ingredients will be a treat for those who pay attention to source and preparation: scallops from Barnegat Bay (NJ), handmade pasta, Pennsylvania pastured lamb, truffled duck fries, and a variety of seasonal ingredients are on deck for the premier menu. The restaurant will bake its own bread and desserts, and prepare every last detail on site, down to the freshly-made ice creams.

To top off your meal, the bar will offer more than 26 wines by the glass, beginning at $8.95 - and sky's the limit from there. Your server may offer you two wine selections to try before you choose a glass to go with your meal. Want to share a bottle? You'll choose from 140 selections that GM and sommelier Kevin Lynn has personally picked to compliment Cosmopolitan's menu and atmosphere. Top-shelf liquors and beers will also be available in a bar that is designed to "hide" the bottles from sight.

Despite the menu reading like one you'd see in Manhattan or Philadelphia, the restaurant and its staff will make you feel like you're visiting a friend's place. That friend just happens to be a world-class chef who has a place on Sixth Street in Allentown (and valet parking!). Cosmopolitan will be a place to share a special meal, meet for a drink after work, hold an event (up to 140 people in the third-floor ballroom), or sample a wine or dish you've never tried before. I'll see you there!

The wine list is coming together!

Managers Jim Fortunato (formerly of Melt Restaurant Group) and Greer Dalpe (formerly of Providence's Napa Grille and King of Prussia's California Cafe) are working on details.

Getting the kitchen ready for the opening... mid-September 2010.