Friday, October 28, 2011

No Boys Allowed: An event for tweens, teens and moms

An event just for teen girls and moms is happening this weekend in South Side Bethlehem.

The Glam Squad's mission and purpose is to empower girls/women of all ages. The group's focus is on Body Image, Media, Hair and Makeup, Self-Care and Wellness, Fashion Do's and Don'ts. The genius behind the organization, my friend Rosalin, says the Glam Squad aims to create "a movement of Stylish, Strong, Secure Divas, one girl at time." Righteous!

The annual "No Boys Allowed" event is this Saturday, Octobe 29, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Comfort Suites on E. Third Street. Some programs designed for both moms and daughters, including Fashion/Styling Basics, Age Appropriate Skincare and Makeup, Priority Setting, and Love and Limits. Others are just for moms, including topics like dealing with relational agression and bullying and How to Talk to Your Daughter About Sex. At the same time their daughters attend a session that encourages the girls to DREAM BIG, and to learn how to become financially savvy,  and media literate.

The Anti Pageant begins at 6 p.m. featuring a healthy competition that showcases girls' originality, commitment to community service, public speaking, and more. Fathers, brothers and other supportive males are welcome to attend the Anti Pageant.
Tickets are $10, and a portion of each ticket for expo will benefit the YWCA of Bethlehem. Visit for tickets and information.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Check out the #1 ranked US college theater program - in Allentown this weekend

Admit it, when you looked at colleges, you read the Princeton Review. You checked to see if a school was anywhere near the top of the rankings for "Party Schools," what the food was like, and whether your roommate was likely to be an aspiring senator. Those rankings often tell more about a school than the M/F ratio (not in my favor at my alma mater, or most colleges, for that matter), average class size and number of student organizations that you'll get in most college guidebooks.

Muhlenberg College, a higher education institution known locally for its beautiful West End Allentown campus, its active Jewish student population, and its drop-dead-gorgeous-looks-like-Hogwarts dining hall, is also ranked #1 in the US among the 376 college theater programs the Review inspected. (It only ranks the best 15% of all colleges and universities to begin with.)

Here's the Wood Dining Hall. When Niki and I had lunch there recently, it took my breath away.

Not #1 out of Mid-Atlantic colleges, or among Division 2 schools, or schools with Hogwarts-like dining halls. #1 in the nation, better than NYU, better than USC, best overall. In Allentown!

The college's summer musical series is unmatched in the region, and shows frequently sell out. Subscribe to the college's Calendar (iCal or Google Calendar) on the theatre department's web site to find out when the shows are announced. See the students in action in their latest musical production," Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along," October 28-November 6. General Admission tickets start at $20. For mature audiences. Call 484-664-3333 or visit

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall fever: pumpkin picking and other fun autumn activities in the Lehigh Valley

image borrowed from The Gold Puppy - I adore the string at the end of the pumpkin stem.

From my window in Bethlehem this morning, everything is still green, green, green. But I drove up Route 33 to Wind Gap this weekend and it is definitely fall there already. Which means... next weekend is probably going to be peak leaf peeping time north of here.

Everyone seems to be itching to do fall-type activities, like stomping grapes, picking pumpkins and apples, taking a hay ride, and generally enjoying the anomaly that is the Lehigh Valley: Where you can enjoy a pastoral afternoon on a real working farm and a world-class farm-to-table meal and show in the evening, and never leave your county.

TMC and ET list the parades, parties and other fall festivities happening around the Lehigh Valley this weekend. Don't forget that Trick or Treat night in your neighborhood may NOT be October 31. Don't get caught unprepared!
Discover Lehigh Valley also has some great suggestions, including Pennsylvania Youth Theatre's October 29 “Thrill the World” event, where they invite visitors to break world records as you join tens of thousands of people around the globe all dancing “Thriller” at the exact same time, then stick around for music, dancing, movies and general zombiance.

I'd also suggest visiting Hawk Mountain, since the fall migration is in full swing and you'll likely see a lot of birds: yesterday, 151 were sighted off the various lookouts on the mountain. Even if you aren't an avid birdwatcher, the Mountain's trails are well-maintained and the views are breathtaking, especially as the leaves change.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dayglow Party at Lehigh University

Sympathies to The Morning Call newsroom, decimated by layoffs. What is written locally is put together by the few brave writers left, and some of the writing is very, very good. Andrew McGill and Spencer Soper are clever and self-deprecating. Reporting by Jenna Portnoy and Arlene Martinez is eloquently researched, written and edited. While I am no news reporter, I admire the hard work of the journalists who make their living covering our community's news. I subscribe to the paper seven days a week, and now also pay extra to read it online, because of their work (and to get a daily update of how bad it things are at Olympus).

But some of the writers...

Susan Gottshall's restaurant reviews are so overly descriptive and sweetly positive that by the time you get to the end, you feel full.
  • On a pizza place in Bethlehem: "Rosanna's cannoli ($2.75) was a sweet treat, indeed, its creamy, rich center fine contrast for the crispy shell. I enjoyed a cup of cappuccino ($3.25) just as much, thanks to its hot froth steaming the aroma of coffee into my olfactory senses."
  • On The Mint, a Bethlehem gastropub with 120+ domestic microbrews on the menu, one of its most distinctive features: "I found The Mint a bit noisy, but, even so, I look forward to watching how this restaurant matures, because it already qualifies for my 'must return' list. Including tax and tip, dinner for two without alcoholic beverages totaled $88."'

Tyrone Richardson writes the newspaper's Retail Watch column. I don't know why, but he seems to be the last to know. I know more than Tyrone does about retail happenings in the Valley, and it's not even my job. It seems like most of his sources are press releases and the business owners themselves. It wouldn't be hard to do a little research or get out of the office more. His predecessor used to slay me with his humor and insider information.

But the one that takes the cake - and the inspiration for this post - is John Moser.

He reviewed the Fuel and Buckcherry concert this summerAnd, he interviewed Hot Chelle Rae when they visited Crocodile Rock recently . In both cases, he sounded like someone's dad writing about his kids' kind of music.

But this weekend's piece about Dayglow, complete with this photo of a girl covered in paint (black and white in the newspaper), took the cake.

"Expect pulsating club music and body paint at Dayglow party... Dayglow, coming to Rauch Fieldhouse at Lehigh University Dec. 3, will be a rave-style party with club music and body paint."

John quotes three hard-hitting news sources: Temple University's online student newspaper, the promoter's press release, and Dayglow's web site.

What I really want to read is his personal review of the event. :)

P.S. Tickets: $45, general admission. $70, VIP. On sale now online. For more information, call 610-333-3987.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley Grand Opening - Part 2

Here are a few more photos of the newly-renovated Allentown Art Museum. Did you go to the festivities this weekend? Had you visited the museum before the renovation? Maybe you think you aren't the "museum type," but you are curious, and want to check it out in a social setting. If so, check out this event:

Art After Hours, "Celebrate the Renaissance," 5:30-8 p.m. Nov. 17, museum-wide event. $20; $10, members. During the Renaissance, life's milestones were marked in celebrations and light. Celebrate the museum's renaissance with an evening inspired by the "Shared Treasure: The Legacy of Samuel H. Kress" exhibition. Sample themed hors d'oeuvres, regional wines and catch a performance by a madrigal or two.

A view from the arts plaza

New glass facade and a brand new tree on North Fifth Street.

Heaven on Earth: Textiles of the Renaissance and Baroque, Goodman Gallery, through Jan. 15

An accompanying exhibition to "Shared Treasures," "Heaven on Earth" provides a further introduction to the arts of the Renaissance and Baroque through a group of dramatic textiles drawn from the museum's extensive textile and costume collection. Included is a selection of textiles that includes flat and cut velvets, tapestries and embroideries that reflect the important modes of textile production from the 15th to 18th centuries.

Salvatore Grippi: Invented Terrains, Rodale Gallery, through Jan. 15

Salvatore Grippi (b. 1921) uses everyday prosaic objects to convey an impressive sense of mystery, intensity and surrealism in a display of 29 drawings, collages and paintings from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s. The black and white drawings capture light and dark, hovering between still life and landscape, the physical and metaphysical, while the brilliant red paintings shout for a different kind of attention, presenting similar objects as both confrontational and remote.

No visit to the museum would be complete without a visit Artie in the Art Ways area for kids. Here, the museum's Chief Curator Diane Fischer checks on him before the museum opens to the public.

The Art of India and Tibet from the Permanent Collection, Fowler Gallery

Facing Fifth Street with lots of window light, the Linny and Beal Fowler Gallery is an ideal exhibition space for sculpture. The exhibit of sculpture and textiles dating from the sixth to early 20th centuries combines the Asian Indian and Tibetan works from the museum's Goodman Gallery with the recently gifted pieces from the vast collection of Drs. Peter and Caroline Koblenzer of Philadelphia.

A view of the museum's entrance on the left, with the Lehigh County courthouse in the far right and Baum School of Art in the foreground.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley - Sneak Peek

I got a sneak peek of the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley this week, just before its grand re-opening to the public this weekend.

A view of the museum from the rooftop of the Baum School of Art (courtesy of Allentown Art Museum)
The museum got more than a fresh coat of paint - there are new galleries, a new cafe (opening this winter during museum hours) and a host of new exhibits that are sure to entertain a repeat visitor like me and first time visitors like most of you.

If you've lived in a large city like I have, you know that museums can play a big part in the cultural calendar, and this museum aims to do the same. By increasing the number, size and capacity of its galleries, it is well-suited to host guests young, old, and in-between (the latter being the most elusive museum-going audience). Adding a cafe will entice attract visitors who don't typically visit museums and tempt museum-goers to stay a little longer... and maybe pick up a unique gift at the museum shop.

The museum has already scheduled a series of events, including lectures, festivals, and the return of my favorite cocktail party in the region, Art After Hours (save the date: November 17 is the first one). The museum will re-open its doors this Saturday, October 16th, with a Preview Party from 6-8 p.m. Free admission to museum members, $15 for non-members.

As for the art you'll see if you visit: Chief Curator Diane Fischer has gone for baroque with Renaissance era paintings from the museum's permanent collection, plus additional works collected by Samuel Kress to complement them:

The museum’s inaugural exhibition Shared Treasure: The Legacy of Samuel H. Kress celebrates the 50th anniversary of the gifting of the Kress Collection of Early European Art. It features forty (40) key selections from the museum’s permanent collection as well as thirty (30) additional works borrowed from other museums and institutions such as the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the National Gallery of Art. A few examples (also courtesy of the museum):

For more information, visit the museum's web site. Thanks to Elsbeth and Jen for making my little visit possible!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Boy's Baking moving to Stoke Park Road

I wrote about my favorite cookie in the universe a while back, My Boy's Baking's toffee chocolate chip treat that is everything a cookie should be: sweet, crunchy, soft and light.

This year, a box of them was a birthday gift to myself that I savored over many weeks.

While I was inside their shop, the owner let me know that the business will be moving to a bigger location soon. They're leaving their shop at 196 Nazareth Pike, Bethlehem, for space next to Dave's Deli and Patrick McIvor Studio at 310 Stoke Park Road in Bethlehem. It's around the corner from the Bethlehem Wegman's. If that's too inconvenient, you can also place your order online. In the new spot, they'll have visibility from Route 22 and more space to bake their signature biscotti and cookies and ship them around the world.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Romance novel discussion in the Lehigh Valley

I subscribe to Bethlehem Area Public Library's blog, and receive regular updates about  new books, e-books and DVDs in stock, book sales (ridiculously great and 6+ x/year) and events like this one. I had to smile at the headline: CALLING ALL ADULTS!
If you have read any Nicholas Sparks’ books or have ever wondered about his books, join us for a fun evening of discussion about this genre: ROMANCE.

Refreshments will be served.

So join us at the South Side Branch for this book discussion group on Tuesday, October 18, 2011 from 6:30-7:30 P.M.

Please register by calling 610-867-7852.
This would be a great event for individuals who enjoy the romance genre and don't know anyone else who does. And the South Side Branch is within walking distance of The Bookstore Speakeasy, a place where a romance novel might be set... sounds like a fun night out! If you go... let me know how it was!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Nothing to do in the Lehigh Valley

I stopped by an expo hosted by the Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal earlier this week, and was glad to see so much enthusiasm for the growth of business in the Lehigh Valley. Lots of local businesses and organizations that support local businesses were there showing off their stuff.

I paid close attention to two booths in particular. The Lehigh Valley International Airport’s marketing staff and Discover Lehigh Valley ambassador extraordinaire Nancy were giving away swag and information about what’s happening next.

The airport is concerned that with Southwest Airlines’ purchase of AirTran, that the low-cost carrier will leave the region. Wouldn’t it be great to have Southwest Airlines in the Lehigh Valley? If you have never flown Southwest, it is an affordable option that makes up in charm what it lacks in amenities. No meals, no assigned seats… but you'll enjoy the friendly and accommodating staff, and fast boarding and deplaning. To let Southwest know what you think, click here.

Nancy was distributing its 2011 Map and Guide and new Lehigh Valley Dining and Discount Guide in the Discover Lehigh Valley booth. I always learn something new talking to Nancy and reading the organization’s helpful materials. For instance:

  • Did you know there is a clothing-optional resort in the Pocono Mountains? Oh yes, Sunny Rest Resort is available for your nudist enjoyment year-round.
  • Have you heard of the Macungie Institute? I hadn’t, but then again, I don’t live in Macungie. It’s a meeting and conference facility with an auditorium, conference room, and classrooms, for both business and social events. 
  • What about Landhaven Bed & Breakfast in nearby Barto?
  • ...Lehigh Valley Tour Group’s haunted tours?
  • ...Flint Hill Farm AG in Coopersburg and Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm in Stroudsburg? Pay a visit, and you and your family can experience everyday farm life.
Still think there's nothing to do here?

Thanks, Discover Lehigh Valley! As always, I encourage Lehigh Valley residents new and not-so-new to explore this region as if you were a tourist.

Weekend in the Lehigh Valley

Last week, FH was out of town for a few days, and immediately after he returned, I was out two nights in a row with a Junior League meeting and statistics class. Friday night we stayed in and caught up on DVR TV, including The Sing-Off. We love to cheer for the a capella performers and mock Nick Lachey. (See, we're not socialites every night of the week!)

Here's where my insatiable curiosity and blogger tendencies kick in. I wondered whether there were any a capella groups in the Lehigh Valley, so I searched the 'net and found:
Sweet Adelines
Lehigh Valley Harmonizers
Muhlenberg College's NoteWorthy
Lehigh University's Melismatics
Lafayette College' Soulfege, Chorduroys, Quintessence and Cadence
I think the Lehigh Valley could have its own Sing-Off!

When Saturday rolled around and it wasn't raining, I took the opportunity to buy some mums and garden stuff from Lowe's (now that I don't have a Dan Schantz Greenhouse nearby - Boo) and pretty up the front of our house. Stella supervised, of course.

Then in the afternoon, we met our friend Sara at ArtsQuest's Oktoberfest, taking place on the SteelStacks campus. It was $10 at the gate. We bumped into Molly and Ryan and Katie and Paul, both with extended families in tow, and saw lots and lots of little wiener dogs. We missed the dachshund races, but they were darn cute even just walking around. We enjoyed a couple of drinks (me and Sara = spiked hot cider; FH = an IPA). The Oktoberfest continues this weekend, too.

Then, because we were craving something more than a sausage and schnitzel, we stopped by The Mint for dinner. The new fall menu is out, including wasabi pea soup (YUM) and brisket sliders (TRIPLE YUM). Like most places serving microbrews these days, demand far exceeds supply, so the beer list is new all the time, too. I had a stout that tasted like creme brulee and a hefeweisen that tasted like bananas and cloves. (So I didn't need dessert.) The vibe was relaxed but busy inside the restaurant, as it began to pour outside.

On Sunday, Dad, Lauren and Stella joined me on one of my Lehigh Valley expeditions. Until I read this blog post, I had never heard of Columcille Megalith Park, let alone realized it was in nearby Bangor, PA. It wasn't a long hike, but the path was surrounded by stones large and small. If you haven't been, check out the web site, then go explore.

This weekend will look a little bit like last weekend, except there will be more studying for the GRE. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Restaurants near South Bethlehem: Advice to a chef visiting this weekend for Oktoberfest

My friend Lori works for Revel in Atlantic City – the newest and most fabulous casino resort at the shore. Her friend, the executive chef at LaSalle University recently asked her:

I'm thinking about visiting Chris in Bethlehem this weekend and seeing his new kitchen and checking out the Oktoberfest thing going on… Are there any places to eat worth visiting while I'm up there? I don't think that Chris is the right guy to ask, as he doesn't really live there, and his idea of a great restaurant is someplace with large portions of meat. (he loves those Brazilian places) Any thoughts? Sunday brunch would be worthwhile.
Since she knows I love food and the Lehigh Valley, she asked my opinion, which I will share with you, too:
Dear Chef,

Welcome to the Lehigh Valley! This weekend’s weather is supposed to be perfect for Oktoberfest, fall harvest activities and general outdoor merriment. Yes, the weather is always this beautiful!

Knowing you are only in town for one weekend and are based in South Bethlehem, I’d recommend you visit a couple of places that we love, not too far from the ‘Fest:

Lunch – Maybe you’ll eat lunch at Oktoberfest – traditional German fare. If you’re in the mood for something else, I’d recommend the not-so-best-kept-secret of West Bethlehem (<5 minute drive), The Mint. Sit at the bar, order the wasabi pea soup or the Bank Burger, and enjoy 127+ domestic microbrews and craft cocktails. (610-419-3810, 1233 W. Broad St., Bethlehem).

Dinner – If you need a break from the ‘Fest, or if you’re done for the night, visit Horns, just six blocks away. The vibe is local, organic, sustainable, eco-friendly, compostable, vegetarian friendly and casual. Your meat-loving friend might not find piles of steak there, but there’s a lot to love. BTW, it is BYOB. You can pick up a bottle of wine or liquor at the Wine and Spirits store one block south of the restaurant, get a six pack to go from JP MacGrady’s, or dry out from your day of wild Oktoberfest antics. You can walk there in <15 minutes. (610-867-5818, 123 W. 4th St, Bethlehem)

Brunch – Go all out at Bolete, with a fancy brunch menu including oysters, lobster, duck eggs, seasonal regional produce, and “(Soon to Be Famous) Ghost of Mary Martinis.” It’s only 10-minute drive from the Oktoberfest grounds. (610-868-6505, 1740 Seidersville Rd. Bethlehem
Enjoy – and let us know what you think!
Readers, how did I do?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

From Cali to the Valley (part 2)

In response to my recent post about Lehigh Valley residents who are from California, I received three comments from ladies, with specific complaints, questions and wistful longings. While I can't manufacture a Japantown in Easton, I have a few ideas that might make life in the Valley a smidgen more Californian for them.
Shari and Jill: Dim sum - what about Eastern Palace Chinese Restaurant on Linden St. in Bethlehem? Everyone I know swears it’s the best Chinese in the Valley, too. I haven’t been, so if you go, let me know how it is!

I can’t help you two with the weather or the ocean… what you see is what you get here. I love three of the four seasons, perhaps even more so because I despise winter so much. I always think that if there was a winter sport I loved, I might feel differently. Instead, I run on the towpath with my Michigander friend who doesn't feel the cold and my dog who will run in any weather. But we are close to some NJ beaches, including some in state parks that aren’t commercialized, to at least get a little “fix.”

Shari: there are outdoor movies all summer long in Bethlehem – the North by Northwest group puts on one series in parks all over the north side, and the Downtown Bethlehem Association screens films in the Sun Inn Courtyard. Sign up for their Facebook fan pages to get updates next year!


Thanks for your comment, and please accept my belated “welcome to the Valley!”

Food: I have found cheap and delicious “world” cuisine in on Seventh Street in Allentown. Central and South American cuisines, plus Caribbean (Winston’s), Turkish (Aci Halal) and Thai (Kow Thai) that rival my favorites in DC. All are casual, most are BYOB, and would be suitable for kids. Most do a brisk takeout business, too. For vegan/vegetarian stuff – do you follow Jaime K and all her vegan/vegetarian activities in the Lehigh Valley? Have you been to Horns, Blue Sky Cafe or The Mint? All are vegan and veggie friendly.

Kid stuff: ArtsQuest is awesome, but it is definitely not the only thing going on. Do you subscribe to The Morning Call or The Express Times? Do you follow LV Little Ones? Are you connected to a LV area MOMs Club?

Movie theaters: We’ve got an IMAX now – yes, here in the Valley! – at the Rave movie theater at the Promenade Shops. And I’m sure you’ve seen the Banko Cinema at the ArtsQuest Center. The Civic Theater in Allentown also screens indie films, and so does the South Side Film Festival.

Museums: The Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley is about to re-open! Stay tuned here for a sneak peek. The DaVinci Science Center is great, and the Sigal Museum in Easton is also open to the public. Visit Discover Lehigh Valley for more ideas.