Monday, June 21, 2010

Big Convention in Little Town of Bethlehem!

6 Reasons that a Convention with a Stuffy Name like The PA League of Cities and Municipalities (PLCM) is cool in 2010:

1) PLCM is hosting their 111th convention in Bethlehem this week! That means lots of cars and tourists downtown... think of it as a warm-up for Musikfest, with no light-y mugs.

2) Everyone (even you) can enjoy great free music outside from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23. Shops will open and music will play on Third Street (on the South Side of Bethlehem) and all over Historic Bethlehem. Guests are staying at the Hyatt Place and Hotel Bethlehem, and events will be held at Moravian College and Hotel B. The convention will be hosting "dine around" events at local restaurants. Beware, if you were expecting to get a table anywhere on Main Street on Wednesday night without a reservation.

3) Lest you think this event (and thus, Bethlehem) will be all old politicians, some of the youngest elected officials in PA might attend, including: Edenburg's Mayor Justin Seese (age 19), Rices Landing's Ryan T. Belski (21), Downingtown's Josh Maxwell (26), Bloomsburg's Dan Knorr (25), Mount Carbon's Jeffrey Dunkel (25), and Sligo's Jenny Lynn Bargo (21). Pittsburgh's mayor Luke Ravenstahl is 30, not over the hill, and reportedly newly on the singles market.

4) Dan Onorato (D) and Tom Corbett (R) are scheduled to appear and "discuss their vision for Pennsylvania's future," AKA why you should not vote for the other guy in the PA Gubernatorial race this November.

5) Conventioneers will be shuttled to the Sands Casino Resort after dinner on Thursday for some late-night partying.

6) The spouses/guests will have a good time while their loved ones are in breakout sessions. They'll get a tour of Just Born's factory, take a guided walk through Historic Bethlehem, and experience the Banana Factory with a hands-on glass-making experience.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bethlehem Restaurant Week is back!

At this year's Bethlehem's Restaurant Week, 28 restaurants will serve up prix-fixe menus (A prix fixe menu is a collection of pre-determined items presented as a multi-course meal at a set price).

Depending on the venue, lunch is $5, 10 and $15; and dinner is $10, $20 and $30, June 28 to July 4.

Kenyan restaurant Alando's Kitchen and Italian bistro Olio Ristorante have opened since last year's Restaurant Week, and Jumbars, Lehigh Pub, Thai Kitchen, Cactus Blue, Dickey's BBQ Pit, La Lupita, Dave's Deli and Gelato, Sotto Santi Pizzeria have signed up to participate for the first time. I have still not been to Dickey's, though I'm not likely to prioritize going to a chain restaurant in a strip mall for this special event. Moe tells me that the Kenyan place (520 Main Street, inside Wired Cafe) is worth trying, so it's high on my list. Darto's (46 West North Street) and Jumbars (1342 Chelsea Avenue, near Moravian College) are also near the top. For a full list of participating venues, check out the event's web site.

Park in the 33 W. Walnut Street garage and the 75 W. North St. garage and bring your parking stub to any of the restaurants for validation.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Art in the Park" in the West End of Allentown

West Park, Allentown’s oldest public green space, will host the annual "Art in the Park" festival this Saturday, 6/19. 60+ artists, craftsmen, and jewelers will display their work in the recently renovated West Park arboretum (between Linden and Turner Streets at 16th Street) from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Concerts will be performed in the band shell from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Admission is free, and the event is hosted by West End Alliance, a volunteer group dedicated to continued resurgence of Allentown's West End.

While you're in the neighborhood, stop by the Allentown Farmers Market (1825 W. Chew Street) and two of my favorite stores nearby: Boutiquetogo (522 N. 19th Street) and Step in 4 Mor (1823 W. Allen Street)!

Now that sounds like a fun day out!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

South Side Film Festival

The South Side Film Festival is going on this week! The festival schedule features five days of independent films screened at Lewis Auditorium and Sinclair Auditorium on the campus of Lehigh University, and the Victory Firehouse (205 Webster Street, Bethlehem).

I stopped by the opening celebrations at Home & Planet (25 E. Third Street, Bethlehem) last night. After the party, filmgoers were led by bagpipers to the first screening of the week.
You can see a variety of shorts, documentaries, animation, drama, horror, comedy and foreign indie films all this week for $5 apiece (but alas, no more bagpipers).

I was impressed by the festival's organization, schedule and attendance last year. Aurelie and I are planning to check out two documentaries tonight: Building America in Bethlehem, directed by Anisa George, and Butte, America: The Saga of a Hard Rock Mining Town, directed by Pamela Roberts. Roberts is scheduled to answer questions about her film following the screening.
Check out the schedule for the rest of the week here, and save the date for the Closing Night Party at Goosey Gander on Saturday, June 19, at 9 p.m.

If you can't make it this week, don't despair. The SSFF screens films on the Third Thursday of each month.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I have never been a serious tea drinker, but I do love a cup of freshly brewed tea. The dried-herb-variety frequently leaves an aftertaste of stale grass. When I have tea at home, I prefer to brew a sachet from Mighty Leaf Tea or Two Leaves and a Bud, or drink a cup of tea from a tea shop called Cupteavity in New Hope.

Going out for tea seems somehow more civilized than meeting for happy hour. Tea is universal and usually inspires (unalterted) conversation and thoughtful reflection. It's fun for all ages.

My go-to source for a spot of tea is Granny McCarthy's Tea Room (534 Main St, Bethlehem), since it's so close to home. The scones and breads are all freshly baked and served with butter and fruit jams. Tea is served in individual pots with infusers inside. ‎ I love the atmosphere: quaint, not rushed, and casual. I am known to eat just about anything they serve that has "egg" and "croissant" in the name. I recently met Jenifer there in the evening, to discuss a project we were working on.

Another place I've enjoyed is Sweet Memories (180 Main St, Emmaus). I hardly ever get to downtown Emmaus and it's a shame, because it is charming. I don't know if SM is officially a "tea room," but there were teas on the menu and they serve afternoon tea. I had lunch there with Tanya and Margaret shortly after moving to the Valley. I am pretty sure I had quiche, but I remember that it was a hard decision, since their made-from-scratch chicken salad and other dishes were enticing. I took dessert back to the office for my colleagues and was very popular.

I know of two other places in the Valley that claim to be "Tea Houses," Lavender Lace Tea Room (3835 Chestnut St, Emmaus) and Creekside Kitchen (6916 Weaversville Rd, Northampton). Has anyone been there - are they worth checking out?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Bicycle Tour of Frenchtown, NJ, and Bucks County

Here's a great Saturday afternoon outing idea: On June 19th, take an easy bicycle tour to see two covered bridges, stop for shopping, wine tasting and watch a polo match in Frenchtown, NJ!

Enjoy breakfast beforehand at one of the great restaurants in Frenchtown that open as early as 7 a.m. The tour will start at 10:00 a.m. on River Road in Frenchtown, NJ, one block south of the Frenchtown Bridge. The bike ride will be ten miles in total with multiple stops.

The tour includes a stop at Two Buttons, the shop owned by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat, Pray, Love," the covered bridges in Uhlerstown and Erwinna, a picnic lunch and wine tasting at Sand Castle Winery, and finally, a polo match at Tinicum State Park.

Parking is free, but is limited. Park in Frenchtown only if you will be renting a bike; otherwise, leave your car at Tinicum Park and ride your bike to Frenchtown (only a mile away).

Cost for the day is only $39.00 and includes lunch, wine tasting, and admission to the polo match. Bike rental is not included. Register for this event by June 11th to secure your spot.

You may register online or mail a check to:
PO Box 123
Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972

Questions? Call Colleen at (908) 995-7712. Rain Date is Saturday, June 26th.

*Call Cycle Corner in Frenchtown (908) 996-7712 at least a week ahead to reserve a bike if you need to rent one. Tell them you are with FemmeSpeak! for a special discount.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Bethlehem's Comfort & Joy store is now Tangerine!

After almost 9 years on the South Side, Inger and Randi closed "Comfort and Joy" and moved into the Main Street Commons on the North Side (575 Main Street, Bethlehem) with a new concept.

The new store, called Tangerine, is open for business, though signage and more merchandise are still rolling in slowly. In addition to beautiful gifts, Tangerine will feature a new line of green cleaning products called GrabGreen. I am definitely game to try the 3-in-1 travel laundry detergent!

They're hoping to have a Grand Opening celebration sometime in June.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Check out the Great South Side Sale (of Bethlehem) this Saturday!

Photo courtesy of the Express-Times

When the students move out of the residence halls at Lehigh University at the end of the year, they leave behind mountains of stuff: name brand and designer clothes and shoes; kitchen supplies and appliances, home decor including rugs and furniture, TVs, small refrigerators, fans, lamps, toys, and of course, books.

This Saturday, these items can be yours for seriously discounted prices. As in, 50 cents for a pair of gently worn Uggs. Goods sold inside the 18,000-square-foot tent fund four South Side Bethlehem Homework Clubs.

One day only: June 5, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at St. John's Windish Church (617 East 4th St. Bethlehem).

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

First Friday... Reinvented!

Samantha Schwartz has been one busy lady since she joined the Downtown Bethlehem Association a few months back, and it's paid off. This First Friday (June 4) will feature almost four times as many businesses as before (40!), prizes, and live music outdoors from 6-10 p.m.

If you've never been to First Friday, the addition of live music venues like Godfrey Daniels (7 E. 4th Street) and Funhouse (5 E. 4th Street) may draw you in for the first time. Or if you're a "free stuff" fan, you can enjoy free cocktail samples at Tally Ho (205 W. 4th Street) and Sotto Santi Pizzeria (10 W. 4th Street), frozen yogurt samples at Euro Yogurt (129 E. 3rd Street), gelato samples at Dave’s Deli (3 W. Morton Street) and smoothie samples at Pacific Smoothie (333 S. New Street). The new web site, balloon trail and a revised map will help you find your way around.

If you've been to First Friday before, before, in addition to the galleries and shopping you're used to, you can also visit Home Base Skate Shop (14 W. 4th Street) for Andrew Kurtz & Jeff Wooler's "Hipsters and Hillbillys," a series of stencils, spray paint and suburban graffiti. Also, say hello to Helene and Laura at Loose Threads Boutique (9 W. 4th Street) and get a 10% discount on their beautiful men's and women's clothing and accessories. I have received so many compliments on the Gentlefawn dress and "found objects" necklace I purchased there.

It's not promoted on the schedule, but South Side Community Gardens is hosting a potluck dinner in the Maze Garden near the corner of W. Third Street at New Street from 6-9 p.m., featuring music by DJ Arm 18. Check out the SSCG blog for details. And there are two NEW South Side businesses that I'll be profiling tomorrow and Thursday - stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Flea Market at Steel Ice Center

This week I'll be sharing all kinds of new and exciting gossip about the South Side of Bethlehem. Save the date... this Friday is First Friday!

If you didn't get a chance to read the May issue of Lehigh Valley Style, you might not know how much I love market-ing. Now I have a new remedy for shopping fever: a flea market hosted by Steel Ice Center (320 E. First St., Bethlehem). The first one was last Saturday, and I hear it was pretty good! There should be more and new vendors each week (maybe you?). More details below: