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 The web sites are a little outdated, but the contact information is still correct.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!