Thursday, November 15, 2012

Revealing My Sources, Part II

The #1 Question I'm asked about this blog is: How do I meet people? The #2 Question is: How do you know about all this cool stuff? 

In this blog post, I will reveal another one of the many sources I go to for information about what's happening, new businesses, and ideas for blog postings. The Morning Call's Go Guide, a weekly insert in the Thursday print edition of the regional newspaper, is a "to do list" for your weekend. Beyond merely listing what's happening (though the section does this in great detail, featuring events and activities in many categories), it highlights the good stuff, and once again, look to the section's ads for more detail. 

Here's part of today's cover. It's a tabloid size. 

The first two pages always include Go Picks, which are often big, new and special. This week's edition highlighted the Lehigh Valley's wine trail and holiday performances at SteelStacks.

There's always a restaurant review. Be sure to keep an eye out for a review if you are planning to go to a new restaurant. The writer gives a candid (but always positive) review of the restaurant, and recommends dishes. It's also useful for an unexpected reason: if a restaurant is highlighted in Thursday's Go Guide, you can bet it will be busier than usual the following Friday and Saturday nights. So make a reservation, or you'll be stuck in line at Olive Garden instead.

Finally, here are two ads for Baum School of Art classes for Children & Teens (now that fall sports are over and your kids are making you crazy inside the house), and a fall chocolate festival at The Brew Works. I included a column of the Go Guide's events below to give you an idea of some of the categories of programs they catalog each week: Christmas, Dance, Film, Kids, Music... and lots more. 

If you are not a Morning Call subscriber, maybe you turn to's Entertainment Guide. It is thorough, too. But if you subscribe to the paper on Saturday and Sunday as I do, you will likely be offered Thursday and Friday home delivery for free. And then you'll know what's going on, every week, before it's Friday night and do the same old thing. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Guest Post: Mortgage Advice for Lehigh Valley Transplants

By Eve Robinson: 

For a nearly a quarter of a century, the Lehigh Valley has been the location in which large numbers of families from New York and New Jersey have decided to up-sticks and relocate. Despite a potentially longer commute to work, many families who move from NY and NJ are attracted to Lehigh Valley due to the attractive quality of life and lower cost of living.

Often given the nickname ‘transplants’ by the locals, relocating to a new area is usually an exciting time but it goes without saying that there is plenty to think about. Because of this things don’t always run smoothly for the Valleys newest residents, especially when you take into consideration the stresses and strains associated with moving house and relocating to a new area.

Relocating is far from plain sailing
The truth is finding your dream home is relatively straightforward when compared to the decisions you’ll have to make when it comes to choosing the right home loan for your new property. To make things even more complicated, people looking to purchase a new property will find that there are literally thousands of home loan deals available, with each one seeming to be ever so slightly different to the last. 

It’s fair to say that the property market isn’t what it was once was. In recent years, there have been more than enough stories in the media regarding mortgages - how expensive they are, the various types that may or may not be available, the change in criteria that means many people don’t qualify for a mortgage. With so much to take in successfully navigating your way through what could potentially be a mortgage minefield is vital.

So where do you even begin to start in deciding which one will be most suitable?

Seek the right advice to understand the mortgage market
A good place to start when it comes to looking for a suitable mortgage is to contact your local mortgage broker and have them take care of everything for you. Or at least it was! In all honesty, it’s not the best time to be a mortgage broker. The once good name of many a mortgage broker/advisor (call them what you will) has been dragged through the mud and back again, with large groups of industry experts laying the blame of property market collapse solely at the brokers door. This is taken one step further by the some leading banks saying that they will stop using mortgage brokers altogether. All this is happening when more borrowers are seeking guidance on mortgages than ever before.

If financial institutions won’t work with mortgage brokers, then why should borrowers?
 It’s a good point and one simple answer is that not all mortgage brokers are unscrupulous sharks who only have their own interests at heart. Far from it, there are still plenty out there who will offer you the best advice, rates and financial planning possible.

That said it will certainly make sense for you to research when it comes to choosing someone who is going to give you advice on your mortgage.

Here are some good rules of thumb as you take those all important steps into home financing:

Compare mortgage brokers
You shouldn’t limit yourself to choosing one mortgage broker, why put all your eggs in one basket? Cast your net far and wide. As ever, if you can find a personal recommendation from a satisfied customer then that will almost certainly be invaluable. If a recommendation isn’t forthcoming then you might want to search online for a reputable advisor or look what is available to you locally. A good place to start is by finding an advisor in your area who is registered with either the MBAA or NAMB; this means that they are authorized to give you advice.  A good place to start for brokers in Lehigh Valley is the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce or the Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors (LVAR).

Be prepared!
When you eventually come to meeting with your broker, it’s really important that you are as prepared as possible, in order to get the most out of your meeting. Go in with a list of questions; make a note of your current circumstances and what it is that you need from your mortgage. Make sure you know (exactly) your current salary and how much you are looking to borrow. During the meeting, if you are at all unclear with any of the information the broker has told you then ask him or her to explain exactly what it is they are advocating.

Finally, even if you are quite satisfied with your broker, it won’t do you any harm to do some of your own research online. The internet is awash with mortgage comparison sites. These sites will help you to find the best rates and will give you a good base in which you can compare anything offered to you by your broker. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lehigh Valley Favorite: The Morning Call's Shopping Scout

Maybe this feature exists in other newspapers, in other towns, but Shopping Scout is one of my favorite features in The Morning Call. It's so local, so adorable, and so honest, and I try never to miss it in the print edition.

Sure, there's Craigslist, Ebay, and... ahem... Google... but these readers turned to Shopping Scout to find and sell old Penn State Matchbox cars, refrigerator magnet collectors ( :)!!!) and corn cob grinders.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Revealing My Sources, Part I

The #1 Question I'm asked about this blog is: How do I meet people? 
The #2 Question is: How do you know about all this cool stuff? 

In this blog post, I will reveal one of the many sources I go to for information about what's happening, new businesses, and ideas for blog postings. Lehigh Valley Marketplace, an ad-magazine that is mailed for free to certain addresses (if you don't get it, you can call and ask, or read the content online for free). It is not available for purchase and is not distributed to retail locations to pick up for free, like other pubs. It's a beautifully-designed piece that includes some editorial content. For instance, the Fall 2012 issue includes a review of The Mint Gastropub and gives readers an overview of Fountain Hill history, retail and restaurants. But some of the good stuff lies in the margins - in the ads. I'd encourage you to check out this publication for inspiration - and look beyond the ads, into the business' web sites, to learn more.

RB Car Collection: "Two Brothers that really love cars… Since 1991 we have been in contact with the most exciting, interesting and rare automobiles in the planet. We buy, restore, sell and trade not only fine automobiles, but also very special pieces of history. Cars are part of our lives and having the opportunity to make new friends through these wonderful machines is a privilege. We have a very important and basic principle: to work with quality cars, providing our clients only with the best! Al and Alex Ruozzi"

Artists at Heart: "Our Mission: Appreciating beauty, inspiring creativity, sharing the joy of fine hand-made crafts! Artists at Heart is a cooperative venture of artists and fine crafts people in the Lehigh Valley area. Each of us has a passion for creating art, whether it be jewelry, ceramics, or other fine crafts. The name Artists at Heart reflects our philosophy that we are all artists and that exploring new outlets for creativity is a great source of joy for all people. In addition to selling our work, Artists at Heart offers beading and pottery making parties and classes for children and adults. Great for birthday parties, church and civic groups, family and friend gatherings, or as an occasion of their own. We offer special programs for Girl Scouts, Day Care Centers and Schools."

Conversational Threads: "Find over 100 premier brands of the finest, all-natural yarns in this quaint, independently-owned shop. Located in the center of the charming borough of Emmaus, PA, Conversational Threads is a shop unlike any other filled with your favorite basics such as Cascade 220 and Brown Sheep as well as an abundant supply of gorgeous fibers from independent dyers such as Madelinetosh, Skein Yarn and Handmaiden, just to name a few.  Join us in our comfortable seating area while you work on your projects and visit with our friendly staff and customers. Free help is available anytime we are open - no matter what the project!  Just be aware that if we are busy, you may have to wait a minute or two for our attention, although most times of the day we have a dedicated helper in the shop for your questions."

Finally, the last page always includes a "corkboard" of upcoming events, some big like the Downtown Bethlehem Harvest Festival, some small like a cardiac health summit at Lehigh Valley Hospital and a Zumba fundraiser.

Stay tuned for more sources - in the meantime, enjoy the beautiful fall weather in the Lehigh Valley!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Maxim's 22: A French Bistro in Easton brought you by the owners of Sette Luna

I received an email a while back from one of the owners of Sette Luna, which is definitely among my favorite restaurants in the Lehigh Valley. The restaurant's inspired northern Italian menu, ambiance and service keep me coming back for brunch, business lunches, and delicious dinners. It's one of the places on my short list for special nights out, especially when friends and family are visiting from out of town.

Naturally I was excited to hear that the team was bringing a new restaurant concept to downtown Easton: a true French bistro, called Maxim's 22 Bistro and Brasserie. It is opening in a space on the ground floor of the former Pomeroy's building (322 Northampton St., Easton).

According to Maxim's 22 Owner Josh:
We are planning an October 2nd open date.  The theme and concept is a traditional French Bistro & Brasserie.  This is overall casual fare at an affordable price point.  The menu features everything from oysters to burgers to steak frites to half roast chicken to pates and steaks.  It will offer Easton's, if not the Valley's largest specialty draft beer selection and an affordable, extensive wine selection.  And certainly kid friendly! 

Yum. Since it's not open yet... what next?

Sincere best wishes to Josh and his team on this new and exciting venture - if anyone knows how to make a restaurant a success in downtown Easton, it's them. (And also hooray for their new baby, expected to arrive just days after the restaurant opens!)

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Peak - a new show about health and life in the Lehigh Valley

There's a new TV show that's perfect for transplants and curious natives alike - The Peak will begin airing Sundays @ 6:30pm following the local news on WFMZ – Channel 69 starting September 30. (What? You don't watch our local news? The next thing you're going to tell me is that you don't read either the Express-Times or Morning Call newspapers!)

The PEAK is the region’s first thirty-minute newsmagazine show dedicated to the interesting people, places, and things that make the Lehigh Valley a wonderful place to live and work. If you watch, you'll learn about the latest medical news, healthy recipes, ways to stay fit, financial wellness, giving back through volunteering, and more. The show's goal is to share stories and information to help you live your life to the fullest, and in the process, become your best self through the many amazing services offered right here in our region.

Congratulations and best wishes to Rocky, Ashley, and the rest of the team!

Monday, September 17, 2012

How can I meet people in the Lehigh Valley?

Despite the thousands of events listed in every week's Go Guide and Exposed, the Lehigh Valley is not the easiest place to meet new people. 

I received an email from a loyal reader who has a common - the most common - challenge among Lehigh Valley Transplant readers. She moved back to the area a few years ago, has two college-aged kids, and wants to make new friends. 

I thought about how to reply to this reader's request for information. My best recommendation would be to volunteer! I have found it to be a rewarding way to make meaningful friendships while making an impact in our community. 

When I first moved to the area, I connected with the alumnae association of my sorority, and advised a group of students at Lehigh University. After a few years, I sought a bigger challenge, and did some research. I joined a committee of a nonprofit I identified that matched my interests and values: Community Services for Children. I  served on the development committee and later joined the organization's capital campaign committee. Soon after, I was invited by the Junior League of the Lehigh Valley, a group of women dedicated to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. I love the group's mix of service and social activities, and the chance to spend time with other like-minded women.

I would recommend that you reach out to organizations that match your own style and values, too. Maybe that's an organization that your place of worship works with, or a nonprofit group that helps animals, kids or the environment. If you're not sure where to start, the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley is a great resource. Their searchable database of volunteer opportunities could connect you with an ongoing opportunity or one-time gig. 

I'd also recommend checking out - I checked it today and saw local meetups for wine lovers, aspiring gourmet cooks, bookworms, scrapbookers, people who want to practice their rusty Spanish, and much more. 

Readers - any other ideas? What would you tell our comrade? What's worked for you?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Wine bar on Bethlehem's Main Street

I have all my fingers and toes crossed that the efforts to open a wine bar on Main Street in Bethlehem are not in vain. A sophisticated wine bar is a concept that has yet to take root in the Lehigh Valley, whose time has come.

Despite some blog hate out there (you know who you are), I think there will be tremendous support for the new restaurant, no matter when it finally opens and what it's called. Even though there are relatively few sommeliers in the Lehigh Valley (and the distinction is sort of like calling yourself "chef," anyway - you're only as good as your training), and that most locals haven't been exposed to a good variety of wines, there are already some beautiful wine lists and some very experienced wine drinkers locally.

Rebecca Pichetto, Vintage Bar and Restaurant's co-owner and sommelier, has assembled a stunning array of wines for guests to enjoy at the Easton-area restaurant. Sette Luna's Italian varieties are unmatched in the area. Edge Restaurant, Blue Grillhouse, Grille 3501, and Melt at the Promenade Shops have all developed wine lists for discriminating wine drinkers. And patrons at Emeril's two restaurants at The Sands benefit from the celebrity chef's passion for wine. I know the gang at Starter's Riverport's Wine Scool will be all over it.,

I have high hopes for this new wine bar's success, since the owner already operates two successful local restaurants (Roma Ristorante and Taste of Italy, both near the airport) and obviously knows how to run a business. I breathe a sigh of relief that the previous owner's mobster-themed cigar bar concept is now sleepin' with the fishes.

To read more, check out the:
Express-Times story
Bethlehem Patch story
The Morning Call story

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Youth Ice Hockey, Basketball Signups and more

I'm not as connected to school-age kid stuff here in the Lehigh Valley as some of my readers would like for me to be. Some of my Facebook pals have asked about soccer signups and other opportunities to get their kids involved in community activities. Since many of these organizations are small-time and probably don't have much in the way of marketing dollars, they fill up with kids using word of mouth alone. This doesn't make it easy on families that are new to the area or send their kids to charter or cyber schools.

The Bethlehem School District Superintendent is doing his best to corral this kind of information in one place. Thanks to Steve Esack from Valley 610 for bringing this list to light:
Community Signups and Events

 Posted September 7, 2012

The Hurricane Youth Basketball Club will be having its registration for the 2012-2013 season on the following dates and times:
SaturdaySeptember 22, 201210 AM-12 PMLiberty HS
TuesdaySeptember 25, 20126 PM - 8 PMLiberty HS
SaturdaySeptember 29, 201210 AM-12 PMLiberty HS
TuesdayOctober 2, 20126 PM - 8 PMLiberty HS
Please enter through the Athletic Entrance to the Memorial Gym Lobby. For more information contact Jeremy Shuler at 484-542-0438 or by email at

Sign-ups - Mon. Sept. 17th, Wed. Sept. 19th, Tues. Sept. 25th, and Thurs. Sept. 27th
Bethlehem Township Community Center - 6:30 pm. – 8:30 pm. in lower lobby
$85 for first child, $60 for second child, $40 for third child or $185 maximum per family
Online registration and additional info available at
Basketball info: Boys and Girls teams ages 6 – 15
All recreational, competitive girls and boys teams ~ Bethlehem Area Basketball League (BABL), including 6th, 7th and 8th grade boys and girls Pates traveling teams, as available.
Also 6, 7 and 8 year old girls and boys – Instructional skills and drills clinic
Wrestling info: Boys Grades K – 6 (Cannot reach age 13 prior to 9/1)
Season runs from the beginning of Nov. to mid Feb. Practices M -T -Th, 6:00–7:45; matches one day each weekend
For more info. email

All Boys in 1st through 5th grades are invited to join Cub Scouts. Cub Scouting is learning by discovery and discovery by doing. It's fun, friends, and families … where skills are learned, confidence built, and stories born. For more information on how you can join Cub Scouts contact 610-465-8558 or visit to find a sign up location near you.

Hanover Township is having an Electronic and Universal recycling Event on Saturday, September 29, 2012 from 9 am to Noon. FREE Electronics, Universal and Freon Recycling.
Any questions please contact 610-866-1140 ext. 223 or visit the website at

Liberty Ice Hockey will be having a Youth Program for Grades 3, 4, and 5. Boys and girls are welcome. Coaches are certified by USA Hockey. Contact 610-317-6122 or or visit the website

Prepare for the winter season. Clinic is for boys and girls grades 3 thru 12. 6 hrs/week -- 4 hrs of drills and 2 hrs of open gym. Tuesdays and Saturdays for 6 weeks. Top A.A.U coaches will be in attendance alongside local varsity high school coaches, and some of areas top high school players throughout the valley. Cost $60 per child for 12 sessions; $5 for single sessions; discounts available for multiple child families.
Tuesdays --- Sept 11, 18, 25, Oct 2, 9, 15 --- 5:30-8:30pm
Saturdays --- Sept 15, 22, 29, Oct 6, 13, 20 --- 3:30-6:30pm
Featured Instructors: Scott Coval, Desales University Mens Basketball Head Coach; Scott McClary, Muhlenberg College Mens Basketball Head Coach; Mike Irio & Thor Schaffer, LCCC Mens Basketball Coaches
Phone: 610-842-1606

The City of Bethlehem Southside Recreation and Northampton Community College proudly present SAT Prep classes to meet your needs in MATH and VERBAL. Class is Saturday, September 29 – November 17, 2012 from 1-3:30 pm at the Fowler Family Southside 527 location. For registration contact Mark Atkinson at 610-997-7971.

The Youth Enrichment Center at The Salvation Army in Bethlehem is offering a program that is open to all children and youth ages 6-12. The will provide tutoring services, as well as activities that encourage social, physical, and spiritual development; these include arts and crafts, games and sports, cooking, science experiments, and Bible lessons. They also have a music program every Wednesday at no additional cost. There is a registration fee of $15 per child and $10 for each additional child. The weekly fee is $20. They provide transportation from Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Marvine Elementary Schools to their building. The program starts on September 10. For more information contact: Nicole Mernagh, 610-867-4681 or

September 9 from 11 am-1 pm
72 W. Laurel Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018
You are invited to join your neighbors at College Hill Moravian Church for a fun day of fellowship. Bounce House/Petting Zoo/Games/Lunch/Moravian Sugar Cake. For more information call 610-867-8291 or visit:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where were you?

It's been 11 years since 9-11-01, and the question I still hear every year is - where were you?

I've never answered it here before. On 9/11, I lived in DC. I worked on the National Mall, between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. And my boyfriend at the time was working as a contractor in the Pentagon.

That morning, my three roommates and I got up as usual, took turns in the bathroom (we had a dry-erase board and signed in for shower time slots the night before), and commuted to our respective workplaces all over the city. I took the Metrobus, a special commuter route that only operated during rush hour, from near our house to a stop outside the IRS building on Constitution Avenue. Then I walked across the National Mall to the entrance to the underground facility where I worked in public relations for the Smithsonian's membership programs.

When I arrived, my colleagues were already buzzing about the internet news of a plane that hit one of the Twin Towers. Our director of PR fired up the only TV in the building just in time to see the second plane hit the second tower. Shortly after 9:30 a.m., we begin to hear reports that a plane had hit the Pentagon. Then the rumors began - There are fires on the National Mall... The National Guard ordered us to stay in our underground "bunker" of a building... The Metro was shut down... Since phones were jammed, it was hard to know what was true. But at the same time as I was wondering what might happen to me and my co-workers, I couldn't stop wondering whether Paul was okay over at the Pentagon. His environmental consulting company had been hired to oversee the removal of asbestos and other materials during a major renovation in the building, and he'd been working at the Pentagon for weeks. Around noon, Smithsonian employees were ordered to leave, so I sent off an email to my parents and roommates, letting them know I was leaving work and might not be back at the house we rented uptown for a while, if I had to walk home.

As it turned out, the Metro was not shut down, but I couldn't take my regular commuter bus. I hopped on the Metrorail at Smithsonian station, transferred to the red line at Metro Center, then took the red line to Tenleytown. I thought I might have to walk from there, but I caught a bus heading down Wisconsin Avenue. A pretty typical trip, except for the eerie silence throughout the city. At our house on Garfield Street, I found my roommates huddled together in our living room, watching the news in silence. A couple of them wanted to give blood. It was a beautiful day, so I sat outside on a lawn chair and tried to read to get my mind off the day's events. After dark, I finally got in touch with Paul's aunt, who let me know that she'd heard from his roommate that he was okay. He had walked from the Pentagon to a bar in Crystal City, drank himself into a stupor, and had passed out.

We went back to work at the Smithsonian the next day. So did Paul. His experiences on 9/11 and in the months that followed affected him deeply. He made the decision to move to Wilmington, NC, shortly after, and we broke up before he moved. It affected me, too. When I moved to Pennsylvania in 2006, I left behind   the people I spent that day with. Every year, even this year, 11 years later, I get an email, a text message or a Facebook message from them - we are forever linked by our shared experience. I am still incredibly moved by personal stories of people who lost loved ones on 9/11, and I can't imagine their pain and loss, even these years later.

Where were you? If you were in the Lehigh Valley on 9/11, what was it like here?

Monday, July 30, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Musikfest

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year! If you have never been to Musikfest, make this the year. If you are a seasoned 'Fester, don't worry, there is still plenty of 'Fest on the North Side - 9 stages to be exact. The rumors that Musikfest is all on the South Side are untrue. You can enjoy great shows on both sides of the Lehigh River each of the 10 days of the 'Fest.

Read my past posts about Musikfest to get the real dirt on making the most of your trip.
Musikfest is almost here! (August 2011)
Musikfest is better than ever (August 2011)
In case you hadn't heard (August 2010)
What's up with the K (August 2009)
Musikfest and Singles in the Valley (August 2009)

Here are the steps I suggest for full 'Fest enjoyment:

1. Plan your trip. Download the Musikfest app for iPhone. If you can't get the app, visit the website. Parking illegally is for tourists. Don't do it. 
2. Wear appropriate footwear and bring a bag you don't mind setting down on the ground. You never know where you'll end up walking/sitting/standing/leaning.
3. Bring at least $20. You can buy tickets with a credit card or cash. Spend it on two mug refills and dinner. Think of your $7 hamburger as a $3 hamburger with a $4 cover charge. 
I'll be posting my plans and/or recommendations when I can... no telling whether the plans will stick!

We have visitors from out of town this weekend, and we've planned an awesome Saturday night on the SteelStacks campus. Here are our picks:

5 p.m.

Call Your MamaMuskifest Cafe
60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's covers
This show's inside the ArtsQuest Center, so - rain or shine! Full disclosure: We may or may not be related to four people in this awesome party band. A great way to set the night off. Get ready to shake it to your favorites and sing along to the songs you know. Free

Sena Ehrhardt
Levitt Pavilion (Americaplatz)
Blues, Soul
If the weather's good, we'll head outside to hear Sena perform at Levitt Pavilion. The crowd is sure to be building as people arrive for the big show at Sands Steel Stage, Sublime with Rome. Free

Trouble City All Stars
TD Bank Community Stage on Air Products Town Square
Indie Rock, Reggae
We saw these guys open for Dr. Dog shortly after the ArtsQuest Center. They are a ton of fun - horns, teenage kids, grooves, dancing, and watching the sun go down as the lights on the blast furnaces go on.  Free

Caravan of Thieves
KNBT Jazz Cabaret Stage at Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas
Alternative, Folk
As the night winds down, we could head inside to hear Caravan of Thieves play inside at the newest stage - the jazz cabaret inside one of the movie theater. We'll bring our mugs! Free

11:00 p.m.

Late Night Comedy - Headliner: Tommy Pope, host Tyler Rothrock
Musikfest Cafe
If we're still up for some laughs and aren't ready to head home, we'll visit the Musikfest Cafe for a little comedy show! $5

Late Late Night
Drinks and snacks on the South Side could happen... Molinari's, Looper's Grille, Molly's, or The Bookstore... or if it's a clear night, we'll just walk home and finish our mugs on the porch.

What are your plans for Musikfest?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New-ish bloggers you should be reading

It's been a while since I've given a shout-out to a few bloggers I read and enjoy. I don't always have time to comment, but I read them regularly using my Google Reader. (No, Google is not a sponsor, but it's my second-favorite piece of technology next to my cell phone.)

Sprinkle Your Senses - My friend Niki is adorable, and after you read her blog, I think you'll agree. Whether she's recommending a new fashion trend (neon!), raving about her favorite frozen yogurt places, or talking about food and wine, she is always upbeat and full of great ideas.

Dadastrophic - A mashup of "Dad" and "catastrophic," this blog has me in stitches over our friends Chris and Erica's journey to parenthood. Being a few steps ahead of them in our own journey gives me the benefit of a few months' hindsight, which makes the reading that much more fun (Oh! I remember when we thought that, too, etc.). I've known Chris since high school, and his wife Erica is an absolute sweetie. You might recognize Chris from one of his million jobs that have him in the limelight... radio, emceeing gigs, and bouncing around the Lehigh Valley scene. You might know Erica as one of the Real Housewives of the Lehigh Valley on WLEV.

Not local, but: Dear Photograph - I first heard about the blog on NPR's Morning Edition. "You may have heard of Dear Photograph, a website that invites readers to submit photos of photos — images from the past, set in the present." Nostalgic, poignant, sometimes funny or sad, but definitely worth reading. I'm trying to decide what photograph I'd photograph.

Who are your favorite bloggers?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Single Runners Wanted

Thanks to Lehigh Valley Road Runners and Lehigh Valley Running Scene for the heads up about this fun event. You still have plenty of time to train for the Mixed Doubles Couples Relay on Sept. 12 in Lehigh Valley Parkway. That Wednesday evening, the Lehigh Valley Road Runners will conduct the area's first couples' relay race. Dubbed the "Mixed Doubles 10K Relay," the event will consist of men running 5K, followed by their partners running a 5K. BYO partner or "pick up" one the day of the event.

To wit: "For runners without race partners, the Mixed Doubles Relay will include a Singles Bar near the registration tables. Here you can meet likely partners, perhaps enhancing your pick-up potential by strutting your stuff, bearing flowers, offering cash bonuses, or whatever other strategies you deem appropriate."

For more details, visit the LVRR web site.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lehigh Valley Patio Guide

I am a big fan of dining al fresco, drinking on a rooftop deck, and playing outside in the fresh air. When I lived in DC, On Tap published a photo-illustrated patio guide each spring, which I used as a checklist for all the hot spots to visit that offered table service outdoors. Some were distinctly urban, a few cafe tables on the sidewalk. Others were more elaborate, and offered a respite from the rush of the city (I'm thinking of Firehook Bakery's Cleveland Park garden patio). 

I wish there was such a thing in the Lehigh Valley, but for now you've got to settle for little old Lehigh Valley Transplant

Props to Carole Gorney from Lehigh Valley Marketplace for her piece. Definitely read it. I've treaded on the patios at Edge, Vintage Restaurant at the Club at Morgan Hill, and Bolete with my strappy sandals. It doesn't hurt that all three have fantastic food, phenomenal service, and kind of a "getaway" feel, despite being minutes from the action. 

I recently visited Cosmopolitan Restaurant in downtown Allentown for the first time in a few months. The restaurant opened its rooftop deck again to dining and drinking. It is one of the most stunning urban vistas in the Lehigh Valley, and the food is superb. The chef, formerly of Melt, has developed a great seasonal menu. If you are looking for a great place to spend happy hour, say on a warm Friday night with friends (a la Melt’s Level 3), keep it in mind. It’s one of the only places in downtown Allentown with free valet parking and is within walking distance to the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley, the Baum School and the Allentown Symphony Hall.  

Mark's cousin Jenelle called last night to ask our recommendations for an evening of drinks and fun with the girls. We suggested ArtsQuest's Steelstacks campus, since there's always live free music (Th-Sun nights all summer), table service (or order at the bar if you prefer), and a chill vibe. If they wanted more action later, there's always nearby JP McGrady's for a very casual patio experience. I can't believe I just recommended McGrady's and Cosmopolitan in the same blog post, but there you have it. We saw a jazz band perform at SteelStacks last Saturday night, and had a blast. We usually bring camping chairs and hang out on the lawn, but our guests forgot their chairs and we wanted to show them a different perspective. We took the elevator to the second floor and sat at a table outside on the Sands Deck (not at the casino - just sponsored by the Sands). There were only a few other tables occupied, and we purchased drinks and ice cream from the concessions stand on the ground floor. We had a great vantage point to watch the sun go down and the uplights come up on the blast furnaces.

After a class at St. Luke's Hospital, Mark and I enjoyed a late dinner at Molinari's, also very close to SteelStacks on the South Side of Bethlehem. The menu is inspired northern and central Italian (do not ask for the tour of Italy or garlic bread or extra marinara), my favorite. Their patio allows for great people watching on Third Street. Service is slower than at the Coopersburg Diner but absolutely worth the wait. We enjoyed our appetizers and drinks on the patio and got a wood oven pizza to go. 

What's your favorite patio spot? Should someone (Laini? :) ) publish a patio guide for the Lehigh Valley?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Lehigh Valley cupcake craze... now introducing Sweet Love Cupcakes in Bethlehem

The Lehigh Valley is one step behind the cupcake trend. While other cities' cupcake craze is beginning to die down, ours is ramping up. Angela Malpedo, founder of Sugarbabe Cupcakes, has been open a few times for a limited audience, and has been active in the community since 2010. She even campaigned for Woman of the Year for the local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! 

But there's a new cupcake maker in town:

Lynn Olanoff from The Express Times broke the story about Sweet Love Cupcakes' new joint on the South Side of Bethlehem:
The Blue Sky Annex will be opening at 335 S. New St., according to a sign posted in the storefront window. The annex will host “Full of Crepe” crepe stand and “Sweet Love” gourmet cupcakes.
One of the owners has been shucking her cakes at the Campus Square farmers market this season, complete with cupcakes in a plastic cup that you can eat with a spoon. Smart.
They hope to open on August 3, city permits allowing, so that they can take advantage of Bethlehem's First Friday festivities + Musikfest.
Despite making seriously delicious confections, Sweet Love is health-conscious, too; the bakers will make gluten-free and diabetic-friendly products for anyone who asks. They also offer "adults-only" cupcakes, alcohol-infused (Bailey's anyone? Yum.) just for grown-ups.
Even though the shop hasn't opened yet, they've already launched their first community initiative:
Sweet Love is committed to community involvement and has created a volunteer program to support this mission. On this site consumers may purchase a single Jumbo cupcake gift wrapped in a decorative box for $7.00. With this purchase, a local volunteer will deliver the gift box to an elderly resident in our community currently in assisted living that no longer receives visits. The volunteer will visit for one hour and continue the visits for as long as possible. Sweet Love believes we have a lot to learn from the people who came before us. We have found that the value is twofold which is evident when we see the joy in their eyes as they recall the past. The therapeutic value of sharing our time and our experiences is far beyond measure, it is the best "Sweet Love" we have to give. Our hope at Sweet Love is to decrease the high statistical number of people in residential care who no longer receive visits, and to share in the “Old School” way of learning through storytelling.
(They'll make the cupcake diabetes-friendly if the resident requests it.) Best wishes for a successful opening, and many years of satisfying sweet tooths (teeth?) in Bethlehem.  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lehigh Valley Mom Run

There's a group of women forming... as one always does when a woman sees a need and wants to fill it with like-minded people meeting. This one is a group of moms who love to run (or a group of runners who happen to be moms - depending on how you look at it!).

The group's organizer, Christine, emailed me, even after I'd starred Lehigh Valley Running Scene's post about their first meetup:
I love your blog!  I've been a follower since my husband and I moved to the Lehigh Valley in 2008 from NJ.  You've really helped us find fun stuff to do around here.  We also make the 1 hour + trips to Trader Joe's with our giant cooler so that we can stock up on our favorite foods (shrimp gyoza are the best!).  I keep emailing Trader Joe's to ask them when they will be putting a store here in the LV - no luck yet. 
Anyway, I've just started a running club for Lehigh Valley moms called Lehigh Valley Mom Run.  Right now, the plan is to meet every other Sunday at 10 am in Trexler Park for an easy run around the main loop.  We just did our first run this morning and are trying to spread the word.  Can you put some info about our group on your site?  I also have a blog that's connected to the running club. Our next run is on Sunday, July 8, 2012 at 10 a.m.  We meet just inside the main entrance of Trexler Park (the one on Springhouse Road).  Jogging strollers are encouraged but not necessary - moms can also leave the kids with a sitter and join us too. 
Since I will soon be a mom, and recently acquired the Rolls Royce of jogging strollers on Craigslist for a song, I am tempted to go, even just to push a stuffed walrus up and down the hills of Trexler Park. I don't consider myself a runner by any means, though Dana assures me that I am - and there were even a few witnesses to my last major athletic feat, completing a sprint triathlon. But these sound like my kind of moms - active, social, and fanatical about Trader Joe's like I am. See you there?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Visiting a daughter at Moravian College

Through a dear friend, I was connected to this nice woman visiting her daughter at Moravian College. She wanted to make the most of her time with her daughter, and sent me this sweet email:

Hi Megan,

My husband and I are taking a day trip in on spend it with my daughter. We were thinking of heading into historic Bethlehem. We like to shop, maybe visit a museum, and have lunch somewhere nice. I should mention my daughter is a vegetarian. Is the historic district the place to go?
I appreciate any info you can give me. Thanks :-)
I replied:

Hi Carol,
You have picked a great weekend to visit. There is an ArtWalk happening on Main Street in downtown Bethlehem. That means there will be music and artist vendors in the middle of the street from 4-8 p.m.
Shopping on Main Street is quaint and original. Great gift stores and beautiful atmosphere. Don't forget about the stores inside Main Street Commons and the Moravian Book Store. You can park in one of two parking garages for a small fee. For more mainstream shopping, the Promenade Shops of Saucon Valley has some great stores. It's a "lifestyle center" so if you go, dress for the weather.
There are a lot of nice places to have lunch on Main Street and Broad Street, so as you're shopping, peek at the menus and see what looks good to you. Apollo Grille, Tapas on Main and Edge are upscale and nice. All have some outdoor seating, too.

You mentioned that your daughter is a vegetarian. If you don't mind a scenic 1-mile walk or drive from Main Street, there are two outstanding restaurants on the South Side of Bethlehem: Horns and Blue Sky Cafe. Both offer a wide variety of menu items to suit veggies and non-veggies alike. Horns prides itself on sourcing a lot of their ingredients locally. Blue Sky offers a ton of gluten-free options, and it is very popular with locals and Lehigh University students, staff and faculty. The food at those two is outstanding and the atmosphere is a little more casual than the places on Main Street. Metered parking should be easy to find on the block. Also - both are BYOB.

For museums, Historic Bethlehem Partnership may be your best bet. There are some historic sites within walking distance of Main Street, and the organization offers regular walking tours of the area.

There is a phenomenal venue called the ArtsQuest Center at Steelstacks, also on the South Side of Bethlehem. It looks like Craig Thatcher (a popular local blues/rock musician) is playing a free outdoor concert at 7 p.m., but that may be too late for you. There are independent films and galleries as well as musical performances. Even if you just go down and walk around - the Steel blast furnaces will take your breath away.

I hope that you enjoy your visit, and that you'll let me know how you liked Bethlehem!

Kind regards,


Readers, how did I do? I'm dying to know what they thought, and where they ended up!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Outdoor concerts in the Lehigh Valley

Last Saturday, we planned a full day of activities with our friends visiting from out of town: Walk to downtown Bethlehem with Stella. Breakfast from Johnny’s Bagels eaten at a sidewalk café table. A long walk on canal towpath. Host friends for a BBQ celebrating the Belmont Stakes race. Attend a benefit concert at the ArtsQuest Center at Steelstacks. I need a nap just reading about it.

On our walk, we heard music coming from across the Lehigh River from an earlier concert. I pointed out to my friends where we’d be (“just on the other side of those rusted, hulking furnaces!”), and received puzzled looks. 
When we arrived at 8:30 p.m., just as the sun was setting, the free concert at Levitt Pavilion was wrapping up. Hundreds of blues fans were sprawled over the lawn with blankets and camping chairs, enjoying snacks and drinks and the beautiful night air. Across Founder’s Way we found the stage we were looking for, on the Air Products plaza. Mark’s aunts and uncles are members of a cover band called “Call Your Mama” that was scheduled to play al fresco that evening. As soon as the Levitt show wrapped up, the stage came alive with music. The plaza was packed with people seated under large umbrellas at café tables. Many people who were at the show at the Levitt Pavilion turned their chairs around and enjoyed the second act. Even more fans milled around the plaza before and after taking in a movie inside the ArtsQuest center. As the momentum began to build, dozens of people began making their way to the dance floor, just in front of the stage, enjoying the sounds of “Brick House” and “Love Shack” and basking in the glow of the uplit blast furnaces just yards away. As the students who attended Phillipsburg High School’s prom filtered out of the building, many joined the party already in progress on the dance floor (adding a little sparkle to the crowd – literally). Many patrons chose to stay put and watch the show from tables, ordering drinks and food from servers and watching the whole scene. When the show ended at 11 p.m., and we walked back to our cars, we wondered aloud what all those people would have been doing were there no such thing as SteelStacks.

By no means is SteelStacks the only place to get your al fresco music fix in the Lehigh Valley. Check out The Morning Call's search tool to find the kind of entertainment you like (kid-friendly, festivals, concerts, and more) somewhere near you.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Use Open Table to Make Fine Dining Reservations in the Lehigh Valley

Last Friday night, Mark and I visited one of our favorite neighborhood spots, The Mint Gastropub (1223 West Broad Street, Bethlehem), for dinner. As always, we enjoyed delicious food and beverages, and saw some familiar faces: Shelly Brown and Dan Nigito and friends, and my friend Lisette Santana. 

We learned that the restaurant now takes reservations using OpenTable! Convenient. The online reservation service, wildly popular and often essential in big cities, is an easy way to find an open table near you. Even last minute. So if we’re looking for a table for 6 this Saturday night in Bethlehem, we search on those terms and come up with options:
Yianni’s Taverna, theMINT Gastropub, Emeril’s Chop House, 1741 Terrace at Hotel Bethlehem, Tap Room at Hotel Bethlehem, Edge, The Melting Pot, Emeril’s Italian Table, and blue grillhouse.
Joining the free reservation service allows you to make and change ressies, read about restaurants, see reviews, and earn points for every reservation made. These accrue and can be redeemed for free dining. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

South Side Film Festival Opens Tonight

Even if you are not a film buff. Even if you are not a South Side Bethlehem resident. Even if you have never been to a film festival before. Even if you have never heard of a single film in the list.

Go. You’ll see: the South Side Film Festival, opening tonight, is the only film festival in the Lehigh Valley. That means that all the resources of the Lehigh Valley’s film community converge in this annual event, and it’s good. It’s well-attended. (Warning: That means if you get there late, you might not get a seat. Go early.) It also means that you be surrounded by lots of people who are interested in the some of the same things that you are interested in. Dark humor? Animation? Horror? Romantic comedy? Documentary? International issues? Politics? After the show, don’t bolt for the door. Hang around the lobby and strike up a conversation with fellow audience members. You might disagree, but at least you’re talking. And if I’ve heard the complaint once, I have heard it 1,000,000 times – “It’s so hard to meet people in the Lehigh Valley.” Here’s a chance to prove that theory wrong. Check out the Festival’s web site for detailed descriptions of each film, advance ticket sales, directions to the various screening locations, and more. From SSFF web site:
Today, Tuesday, June 12: Opening Night begins with a party hosted by Comfort Suites on 3rd Street and features a delicious sampling of Kenyan cuisine provided by Alando's Kenyan Kitchen. Laying down the beat for the evening will be DJ, Telly Diacogiannis. The procession to our opening night screening will be lead by the City fo Bethlehem Pipe band. Our Opening Night screening: SWERVE, a feature length Thriller-Drama from Australia. Preceded by these invitational Short Films from Australia: Nullarbor (10m) and The Hunter (7m).

$10 Single Screening Admission for Opening Night and our Late Night Film

$5 Single Screening Admission for all other screenings at all venues

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Weekend trips from the Lehigh Valley: Atlantic City

My friend Christine asked me a while back about weekend getaways from the Lehigh Valley. It got me thinking... as much as I love living in the Lehigh Valley, its proximity to fun nearby makes it an even better.
I visited my friend Lori in Atlantic City recently. She's working at a new resort called Revel (, which officially opened Memorial Day weekend.

The new beachfront destination is 100% smoke-free and each of the hotel's 1,800 rooms has sweeping ocean views.  On our tour, we saw indoor and outdoor pools, a SkyGarden, lounges, and a 32,000-square-foot spa. Revel offers live entertainment - Beyonce performed four nights there recently, you might have heard of her? - nightclubs, and an oceanfront dayclub. Revel features more than a dozen restaurants from renowned chefs and restaurateurs who are well-known by their work in Washington, D.C. (James Beard Award winner Chef Michel Richard and Chef Robert Wiedmaier), Philadelphia (Chef Jose Garces) and New York City (Michelin-rated Chef Marc Forgione and Chef Alain Allegretti) (Garces and Forgione are Iron Chefs!). There's everything from an upscale steakhouse to a taco truck - on trend - to Weidmaier's MUSSEL BAR. Soon the $2.4 billion resort will feature upscale shopping as well. The beach is currently being replenished, but soon it will be pristine and open for tourists to soak up some rays and play in the water. In the meantime, you'll have to content yourself with the indoor-outdoor pool, open year-round.

Each sleeping room has its own tablet (think iPad) where you can order room service, surf the internet using the property's free Wi-Fi access, and learn about the property's amenities. The ocean views from every room and well-appointed bathrooms make it worth the pricetag (slightly higher than most AC resorts, but still less than most properties in Philly and NYC at $261/night average for a king room).

My ideal itinerary would be:
Leave home after work. Drive 2 1/2 hours to AC. Check in late on Friday night
On Saturday, wake up when we wake up
Breakfast at O Bistro
Morning at the pool under a cabana
Lunch at Distro Cantina
Afternoon at the spa
Nap :)
Dinner at Azure by Allegretti (an upscale seafood restaurant - one of Lori's faves)
On Sunday, wake up whenever again :)
Order room service breakfast
Outlet shopping in downtown AC and lunch on the boardwalk before driving home

Um, and oh yeah, there's a casino with table games and machines, too. It's kind of gorgeous and unobtrusive, since you can check in without walking through it (and did I mention it's smoke-free?).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Channeling Siri: restaurants in Clinton, NJ

A colleague asked: Megan,   Know any good restaurants in the Clinton, NJ area? ----- I replied: I used to work in Asbury so you asked the right woman.   Clinton House is the old standard – full bar/old school. There’s also the Clinton Station Diner.   I love El Segundo Fresh Mexican Kitchen. It’s BYOB. My good friend who lives in Edison met me there once for lunch. Delicious, fresh cuisine- not cheesy enchilada stuff.   Also nearby but not in downtown Clinton are the Perryville Inn and Grand Colonial – more upscale, full bar. I’d make reservations at these two. Enjoy!   ----- Readers, how did I do?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tunes at Twilight - Bethlehem

Here's a secret that everyone should know: Downtown Bethlehem Association presents a series of free concerts in the Sun Inn Courtyard, Thursdays 6-8 in May and June. That means the first "Tunes at Twilight" event is coming up soon.

Here's the lineup:

  • May 3 – Jordan White
  • May 10 – Whiskeyhickon Boys
  • May 17 – Large Flowerheads
  • May 24 – Dina Hall & the Backbeat
  • May 31 – Trouble City Allstars
  • June 7 – She Said Sunday
  • June 14 – Billy Bauer Band
  • June 21 – Steve Brosky & Jimmy Meyer

  • Parking: at the Walnut Street garage or on-street. Find the courtyard behind the Sun Inn on Main Street or by navigating to "Donegal Square" in your GPS.

    Tickets, RSVP: None

    Bring: Friends, your significant other, your kids and your (well-behaved, music-loving) dog. Pack folding chairs or blankets, and a picnic dinner. You can also buy food, beer and wine there if you prefer.

    What insiders do with all the leftover booze they "smuggle" in: After the show, they stop by one of Main Street's great BYOBs, including Mama Nina and Thai Thai II. There's an amazing buzz in the air on Main Street during and after the show.

    See you there!

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    IABC Lehigh Valley event at TechVentures

    Founded in 1970, The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) provides a professional network of about 15,000 business communication professionals in over 80 countries. Members hold positions in:
    • Public relations/Media relations
    • Corporate communications
    • Public affairs
    • Investor relations
    • Government relations
    • Marketing communication
    • Community relations
    • Writing
    • Editing
    • Training
    • Advertising
    • Photography and video production
    • Graphic design
    • Human resources
    • Teaching

    I attended a number of events hosted by the Lehigh Valley IABC chapter a few years ago, and after a brief hiatus, the group is starting up again. This should be welcome news to those of us who work in the fields listed above, and those of you who are looking for work in the field.

    On April 27, visit the Ben Franklin TechVentures incubator/post-incubator facility to learn how (my friend) Ben Franklin President and CEO Chad Paul and his team have supported aspiring technology entrepreneurs in the greater Lehigh Valley with one of the best incubators of the world. The group will also take a tour of TechVentures and see why TechVentures2—the new, 47,000-square-foot addition—earned first-place national honors in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2011 ENERGY STAR Challenge.

    For more information, or to register, click here.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Bethlehem MOMS Club event

    A reader named Laura sent me this tip:

    I love your website and it has been very helpful since my family moved to Bethlehem a year ago. Since I came to the area, I've been part of the MOMS Club. This group has been invaluable as a work-from-home parent of two little ones to meet other parents and find connections to resources in the area. Soon the group is hosting an expo: 

    Mommy and Me Expo
    Saturday, May 5, 2012, 10:00 am
    Bethlehem Catholic High School, 2133 Madison Ave, Bethlehem, PA

    Over 25 vendors and Local Businesses are coming out to support. Raffle baskets, Scentsy, Tastefully Simple, Valata, Premier Jewelry, WHIMS4KIDS, and many more! Proceeds will Benefit Smile Train, which assists families whose children need cleft palate surgery. Fashion show by Milk and Honey Kids (love you and your store Rebecca!).

    Other MOMS Club activities include:
    • Playdates at the park
    • Mall walk
    • Theme parties
    • Field trips
    • Arts and crafts
    • Lunch dates
    • Moms Night Out
    Patch has all the information, and read about the MOMS Club of Bethlehem online

    If you go - let me know how it is!

    Sunday, April 08, 2012

    LVT Reader Contest: Bunco tickets

    Maybe you’ve seen it played on Real Housewives of Orange County on Bravo. It’s a silly dice game that is 100% luck and 0% skill. The game requires players (usually women) to roll dice and try to get them in a certain order. Called Bunco or Bunko, the social game is a great excuse to for the real housewives of the Lehigh Valley to get together to “play.” Sometimes groups of women schedule regular Bunco nights in a group member’s home, and often these clubs are invitation-only. If you have lived somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line, as I have, you might know it well. Many northerners are just getting hip to the game, which in my opinion is truly only a ruse for competing for prizes, drinking wine and socializing (and what’s wrong with that?).
    When its members aren’t busy volunteering in the community, the Junior League of the Lehigh Valley organizes an annual Bunco “tournament.” Proceeds from ticket prices and raffle ticket sales benefit the Junior League’s programs in the community.
    Female Lehigh Valley Transplant readers are eligible to win a pair of tickets to the League's April 19th Bunco tournament at Blue Restaurant in Bethlehem Township.
    No purchase necessary; to enter, all you have to do is "Like" Lehigh Valley Transplant on Facebook and leave a comment - say where you're from (originally or most recently) and why you want to meet other women in the Lehigh Valley!
    PS - If you don't win, you can buy tickets online for $25!

    Wednesday, April 04, 2012

    Lehigh Valley Transplant Takes on What It Means to be From Here Now

    Thanks to Colleen for the sweet shout-out on her blog, From Here Now. We may not have met in person (yet), but we are both members of a mutual admiration society. I look forward to her cooking posts as much as I love seeing what adventures she and her husband go on each weekend. They truly take advantage of everything the region has to offer, on a very reasonable schedule and budget. Whether it's geocaching, visiting local farms, or taking Girl Scouts on a weekend trip, Colleen is always exploring and finding meaning in her journey. She recently won a fancy blog award from The Morning Call, so I know I'm not the only fan out there.

    Tuesday, April 03, 2012

    Evans Eats: Where to go for Easter meal in the Lehigh Valley?

    It's Easter week, and for some, that means lots of cooking and preparing for guests coming in from out of town. Or perhaps, your family likes to go out after church instead.

    Heather Evans writes a great foodie blog called Evans Eats, and she posted this question:

    I received this post and wanted to pose the question for feedback: 

    Do you know of any restaurants doing special Easter meals? My family and I always going to Hotel Bethlehem for a huge Easter buffet after church, but we wanted to see if there are any other restaurants doing anything like that?

    Readers, can you recommend any local restaurants with Easter specials?

    I'd recommend Vintage Restaurant at the Club at Morgan Hill in Easton (if you can get a reservation at this late date), Manor House Inn in Center Valley (for frog's legs!), deLorenzo's in Easton (if your group loves Italian), or Rios in Nazareth (if your group loves meat, and lots of it). I don't know if they all have a buffet, but they are each offering an Easter meal. Readers, other ideas?

    Don't forget to visit Heather's blog!

    Sunday, March 25, 2012

    Reader mail: Thinking about taking a job in the Lehigh Valley

    I received this email last week: 

    I am considering taking a position at Lehigh University. How do you like living in the valley? What do you love/hate?

    I asked for some more details, to which our potential neighbor replied:
    My biggest concern is the ease of meeting people since it is a small town. I am from Louisiana, lived in NYC for a few years, then went to grad school at OU. Is it easy to meet young professionals? Are people generally open to the idea of meeting people? I like the outdoors but I also love the city, the arts, and fashion.
    Here was my reply:
    First, I recommend you check out this web site:

    Maybe you already know that I am a part-time graduate student at Lehigh. I have advised undergraduate students there for a number of years, so I know the campus a little better than the other 7 colleges and universities in the region. That said, Lehigh is a large and diverse community. My experience is that many of the staff and students are not "from" the area, and many are friendly with one another, even across departments.

    About your question about how easy it is to meet young professionals: It is hard to generalize people in a region as large as ours. There are quite a few MeetUp groups in the area that get together regularly ( on anything from knitting to wine tasting to hiking.

    There is something happening here every night and weekend, but I feel sorry for people who move here and lament that it is not more like New York City (disappointed that there is no great public transportation system, no Saks or Nordstrom, only four Thai restaurants vs. 100 Thai restaurants to choose from). One benefit of living here is that there are lots of things to do right here in the Lehigh Valley, and if you can't find what you want, Philadelphia and NYC are about an hour away. Another is that what we have in the way of performing arts, shopping and dining is still quite good, and relatively cheaper and more accessible. Lehigh contributes to that scene, but in no way is this a college town.

    I will say that if you make an effort to get involved in the community, for example, to serve on a nonprofit board or event committee related to the arts and fashion you love, you will meet and develop relationships with like-minded people off campus. In Bethlehem alone, there is a great independent film group that puts on a big festival each year (Southside Film Festival), a group spearheading a co-op grocery (Bethlehem Co-Op), tons of fairs and festivals, and an organization that has recently developed a large arts venue near Lehigh with live music - much of it free - and film (ArtsQuest Center at Steelstacks - look it up!). 

    All that being said, if you have a chance to visit, and have not yet made up your mind about the job offer, I'd be glad to introduce you to some people I know at Lehigh. Best wishes with your decision!
     Readers - how did I do?