Saturday, April 30, 2011

Paranormal activity in the Lehigh Valley

Any area with as much history as the Lehigh Valley does has got to have some paranormal activity... right? But would you believe that the Lehigh Valley has its own paranormal society (like Paranormal State on A&E TV)?

The Eastern Pennsylvania Paranormal Society recently sent this e-mail to my boss:

Hello {my boss' name}, my name is {former employee of previous building owner}. My sister, {insert sister's name}, who works for {insert name of someone I think is supposed to provide reference for this person}, brought to my attention that you recently purchased the {former business name} building on {location} in Bethlehem. As she may or may not have told you, I was an employee...for about a year. In the time I worked there I had a few experiences that I can not explain. I, as well as may former employees, believe that there is some paranormal activity going on. I'm part of a paranormal investigative group called The Eastern Pennsylvania Paranormal
Society. The previous ownership of the building would not allow us to
investigate, which is why I'm writing you this email. We would love the
opportunity to do a full, formal investigation of the club and, especially for
my own sanity, figure out what is really going on there. Please email me back at
your earliest convenience and let me know if this is at all possible. Thank you
for your time.

I have to tell you that in my time working for this company, I have never received an e-mail like this. My day job is pretty business-y and doesn't stray too much into local lore or ghost investigations. So I was pretty intrigued by the request as well as my company's owners' response. The company owners didn't go for it, so we'll never know... but I have spent some late nights in the office recently, and I haven't experienced anything out of the ordinary. But now I'll be more observant.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Life in the Valley...with a canine companion

Stella would sign autographs, but she does not have thumbs.

Thanks to everyone who has written such kind words about the May Lehigh Valley Style "Valley Newbie" column. If you haven't picked up the issue yet, or read it online, it's all about life in the Lehigh Valley as a dog owner. In it, I write about the process of adopting a dog through Rogers' Rescues, and my experiences with Stella by my side.

I received the nicest email from a reader with a suggestion of another venue for dog training.

Thanks for sharing your really cool story about you and your newly adopted furry
one in the latest Style mag. I, too, recently adopted a girl, who is my best
friend and most snuggly companion!

Just wanted to suggest that for training, boarding, walking ,and day care that you consider Cole’s K-9, next to Wright’s Animal Hospital in Bethlehem. I love the staff and Linda Cole gets great results training dogs with lots of love and direction. I have completed lots of training there and currently Mollie and I are enjoying an agility class and she gets to go to day care two days a week. Great staff. Great place.
And….they have a swimming pool and a one acre field for training!

Stella's got some Australian shepherd in her, but she hasn't shown any tendency toward agility yet (other than occasionally escaping through a hole in the fence into the neighbors' yard - sorry, neighbors). Maybe with a little training, she could catch 100 frisbees in a minute? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For the love of shoes

DSW is coming to the Lehigh Valley, with a new store in the "Airport Center" shopping center, you know, where Christmas Tree Shops and On the Border opened last year.

For the uninitiated, DSW (an acronym for Discount Shoe Warehouse) is better than Famous Footwear because it is bigger, and carries more designer brands. The stores usually offer a selection of accessories - hats, bags, wallets, socks, tights. The sale deals can be hard to beat - the longer the shoes are in-store, the bigger the discounts. The frequent-buyer program gives regular customers free shoe credit. The selection is extensive: dozens of designer women's dress shoes, tons of sneakers and flip-flops, and imported boots and beautiful men's loafers, to name a few.

But the looks are often last year's models (no biggie if you don't care about wearing something fresh off the runway), and you have to be patient. There are lots of aisles to navigate, and you're just going to have to walk up and down them to see everything. Their ad campaigns from a few years back compare women shopping for shoes to lions hunting for prey.

It has been my experience that DSW does not have service of any kind. What you see is what you get. There's also no in-store merchandising, to help you figure out what to wear with the shoes. For that level of service in the Lehigh Valley, you'll need to visit indie shoe stores The Shoe Box, Shuze, or Stepin4Mor.

The local grand opening is Thursday night, with giveaways and a whole lot of hoopla. Some promotions claim that a percentage of grand opening evening sales will be donated to Dress for Success's Allentown location, but actually it's benefitting a similar program called A Perfect Fit in Allentown. If you prefer to do your shoe shopping in (relative) anonymity, wait until next week. Happy hunting!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Four more Lehigh Valley blogs you're probably not reading (yet)

Here are a few more blogs that Lehigh Valley locals and transplants might enjoy.

My West End. Filled with regular announcements about upcoming events (West End Events), features about local businesses ("Go Local!"), and updates about community revitalization efforts (West End News), this blog is a must-read for anyone who lives in Allentown. It's good reading for those of us who don't live in Allentown, because it gives an insider's look at a little-promoted area. Since September 2010 it has been a regular reminder to me to visit the trendy little neighborhood. Whatever I get when I go there (farmer's market goodies, fashionable bags and shoes),I receive compliments and proudly brag that I got it in the West End.

Wine-Know. Local wine guru, fashionista, fitness goddess and real estate and insurance pro by day Eileen Budd authors a little blog I read to stay informed about wine. Her wine tasting events are fun and educational. Through her travels throughout Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile, as well as domestic wine regions, she has earned an appreciation for all kinds of wines. The fact that she doesn't work for one winery or one importer gives her readers an opportunity to learn about wine without worrying about ulterior motives.

I enjoy sharing and exploring wines with others. I often tell people a good
wine is simply one you like. No need to complicate something that can be so
simple. I try not to get too hung up on every detail the experts are telling me,
but I do enjoy cheese and food pairings with wines, and appreciating each wine
and wine region for what it’s best for. Every glass tells a different story, so
sniff, sip and savor, as the story is told.

Another Day in Catasauqua. If you live in or near "Catty," you will especially appreciate Bev's attention to community details (like the history of the borough's Masonic Temple) and interest in exploring local mysteries (e.g. why is Catasauqua Lake in Hanover Township?). She educates us about local cuisine, including Lenten fish dinners, halupkies and ham and dandelion. She's a grandma, a Sunday School Teacher, and local insider who asks herself the same kinds of questions that transplants do:

I have lived in Catasauqua most of my life, except for a small lapse of judgment when I was in West Catasauqua, which is technically Whitehall, which I quite never understood why if it was West Catty is was part of Whitehall Township.

Maria's Farm Country Kitchen. If you are not familiar with the Rodale family or Rodale Press, read this. Then check out the Rodale CEO's blog for information regarding organic living ("10 Non-toxic ways to kill bedbugs"), recipes, and life in general. Maria's advice about talking to your kids about sex, life lessons she tries to share with her daughters, and incorporating wellness into everyday life, is precious. She writes in a voice unlike any other, because her experience is unlike any other. Her blog is read nationwide but locals will recognize her Lehigh Valley references. Like many bloggers (myself included), Maria struggles with typical blog dilemmas, like whether to organize a "stunt," or how to file posts in neat little categories. Her posts about The Art of Living In Balance are posted at my desk at work as a guide and inspiration for enjoying my own life.

On a recent blog chat, local bloggers were asked how many blogs we read. I checked my RSS feed, and I subscribe to 215 blogs (so far). I am sure I'll have lots more recommendations as I go along. Please share your favorites if you don't see them here!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Making Friends in the Lehigh Valley

As the weather warms up and people begin to emerge from their winter hiding places, it's prime time to make friends, platonic and the other kind.

I just received yet another e-mail from a single person wondering how to meet people in the Lehigh Valley. How is it that so many of you are trying to connect, yet you don't seem to be finding one another?

Here's a serious question for loyal readers: Would you be interested in attending a social event with other people you know are transplants, hosted by a few friendly natives?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lambertville Shad Festival - it's O'Fish'L

If you can't make it to Easton's Shad Fishing Tournament (given a reprieve from cancellation by Tom Ring/Brown Daub Kia! "Or I'll kiss your mother in law!"), fear not, shad lovers. Lambertville's Shad Festival is worth checking out, too. If you haven't ever crossed the bridge from New Hope to Lambertville, NJ (and you can do so on foot - one reason it's adorable), save the date: April 30 and May 1, 2011.

The festival highlights the region's arts community, the history of the City of Lambertville, the Delaware River, and of course, the Shad! Shad Fest features some fine artists and crafters, fishing for those who want to do it, great food and family entertainment - including historical re-enactments of life on the Delaware around the time when Lambertville was founded. After you check out the art, fish, and history, you can walk back to New Hope for lunch at Triumph Brewery (my BF's and my fave) or somewhere along the river. I think that Molly - who knows Lambertville like the back of her hand - would recommend Lambertville Station.

In the eastern US, shad's roe is prized because the eggs are considered a delicacy. My dad's birthday is always around the very short season when shad roe is available commercially, and it's become a ritual of celebration. (And for those of you who know my parents, you know why tracking it down, buying it in a fish store and sauteeing it in butter is such a nice thing for Mom to do.) Happy birthday, Dad!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Birthday to Lehigh Valley Transplant!

I started this blog in the spring of 2007 because Alyssa encouraged me. Mom and Alyssa were my only readers for a while. Four years later:

  • I've written a bi-monthly column in Lehigh Valley Style for a year and a half.

  • I tweet. And people tweet back! Sometimes I meet them IRL (In Real Life) at Tweetups.

  • On Niki's recommendation, I made a Facebook fan page, and I don't know half of the fans personally.

  • I was a guest on Lehigh Valley Discourse on WDIY, where Sally Handlon invited me to share my thoughts about life in the Lehigh Valley from a transplant perspective.

  • I'm being featured in the next Laini's Little Pocket Guide to Bethlehem, alongside some amazing independent media and marketing gurus.

  • I'm scheduled to lead a walking tour of downtown Easton for Northampton Community College in May. Lynn Teles has been an amazing supporter.

  • And finally, I was been voted as one of the Lehigh Valley's Best Blogs on The Morning Call web site. Remarkably, in the "Misfits" category, and the other winners are some of the most talented, funny, passionate writers I know.
All of this would not be possible without your support - voters, frequent commenters, lurkers, off-blog emailers, business contacts, old friends (some of whom don't even live in Pennsylvania!), readers that became friends, and of course, family and friends that feel like family. I love you guys. Thank you for supporting the little blog that became a "thing."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Abode Fine Furnishings to close

A beautiful little antiques and furnishings store is closing in Bethlehem.

Visit Abode (80 West Market Street, Bethlehem) before it shuts its doors for good on May 30. It's open 11-4 Friday through Sunday, and other times if you happen to catch the owner there or make an appointment. Everything is on sale.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Four Lehigh Valley blogs you're probably not reading (yet)

You may already know about the cadre of talented (and popular!) bloggers who recently won the Morning Call "My Choice Voice" blog contest. But there are a few other blogs that I enjoy that I thought you might not be reading yet. If you aren't already reading these blogs, add them to your RSS Feed or Favorites ASAP:

The Junk Drawer. Kathy Frederick received national news coverage about her hilarious series of posts about a plastic bag in a tree. And then about a noisy Sun Chips bag. She's one of the best. Her post on experiencing her first ear lavage had me in stitches.

Remember the H. Meghan Loftus, an LV transplanted editor at Rodale Press, treats us to updates on her favorite band's final show, battle with lint, office antics (we used to do this at my old job - I sent a box of cheesy cracker sticks to Derek more than once through interoffice mail), and holiday celebrations that will inspire you to get creative.

Garden in Bethlehem PA. Marie writes about her own garden and gardening events in the Lehigh Valley. This week she wrote about becoming a volunteer for Rodale Institute. Reading her blog reminds me when I should do things like prune rose bushes and de-thatch the lawn. Since 2006 she's been educating me on creeping sedum, composting, and confederate jasmine vine.

The fork city. Erik writes primarily about dining in and around Easton. His blog this week about Olive Garden (which could have been about almost any national chain restaurant) reminds me of the ongoing redevelopment debate: would it be better to have a chain (e.g. KFC) in your struggling downtown than an empty storefront, which is not generating sales tax revenue, employment ops or small town charm? In addition to writing about dining out since 2009, Erik chronologues his own cooking and gardening, and lets us in on the adventures of producing his own charcuterie.

There are so many blogs, so little time, but that's all for today. I'll keep recommending, if you keep reading!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Free directory of Lehigh Valley summer camps

I attended YMCA camp every summer as a kid, learned to make friendship bracelets, do a cannonball and play capture the flag. We had visits from the 4H Lady and sang songs inside the cabin when it rained. We picked up trash after lunch and made up dance routines to songs we taped from Laser 104.1 FM. We "went out" with boys and had our hearts broken for the first time. I want to go to camp again!! Community Services for Children recently launched, which provides a free directory of summer camps in the Lehigh Valley. The site also offers parent tips for choosing camps, keeping kids safe, and more. Camp listing is free and use of the website is also free. Camps will be added continuously, so parents should keep checking the site for new camps.

Friday, April 01, 2011

LV Transplant wins "Best of the Blogs" award

I'm sorry that I couldn't make this year's award party, but I appreciated the late-night recap at Bethlehem Brew Works from fellow winners Andrew Kleiner of Remember and Jon Geeting of Lehigh Valley Independent, Twitter goddess Hillary Kwiatek, and Morning Call writers Jenna Portnoy and Chris Baxter. If you were at Brew Works, we were the wonks animatedly discussing Gracedale and Trader Joe's.

I was tickled pink that my two nominations, Lehigh Valley Running Scene and Lehigh Valley Momma, won in their respective categories. I think that they are awesome! That Jill took the overall crown was no surprise to me. She has developed a great following by providing timely updates and useful, original content including nutrition tips, gear reviews, and events. Her blog is a great resource for real runners, as well as a wannabe runner like me. Jen's blog about being a stay-at-home-mom, caregiver, and super couponer, is fascinating, entertaining and completely down-to-earth. I always enjoy her recaps of super couponing at the Valley's grocery stores and applaud her efforts to teach others how to do it, too.

Congratulations, everyone!