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.