Category Archives: Reviews

Horns – New Sustainable Restaurant Coming to South Bethlehem

During the heatwave this past weekend Hailey and I went for a walk through the sideside (yes, we are insane) and we stopped to peak in the windows of a new restaurant under construction at 123 West 4th Street near Play It Again Records. What immediately caught my eye were the two antique Singer sewing machine tables converted into small cafe tables and the old pictures leaning against the wall.

Hailey and I were quickly spotted by John Silvestera who took a break from working on the interior of his future restaurant to invite us in for a tour. The place was really cool. One of the first things I noticed once inside was where the place may have gotten its name…there were a few animal mounted heads on the wall, some with horns. The place has a rustic look, but not in any sort of Cracker Barrel way, definitely much cooler and darker. Aside from the Singer tables in the window there are wooden picnic tables (trust me, it works) and a coffee bar area under-construction. The coffee will be fair trade of course. John also said he was going to have a Chef’s table in the kitchen where lucky diners can get up-close to the action in the kitchen. Chalkboards across the wall in several areas will include the menu, specials, and one black-board is already devoted to defining some of the terms common to sustainable dining. He made his own lighting fixtures.

In the corner there is a big barrel with a vessel sink. John explained that instead of having water bottles people can either bring their own containers for free “super filtered” water or pay a small amount for a cup to fill up. The purpose is to encourage people to think about waste and ways they can be more green. I asked about take-out and the containers he’d be using and he’s on top of it already, it’s all green.

John and Horns are both welcome additions to the southside. In case you missed it, the Express-Times ran a story recently about how John came to the southside after being turned down by Easton. Easton’s loss is definitely our gain.

It was also refreshing to see work being done behind open glass. I wish more people would consider this. I realize it may steal some of the thunder by not having a big reveal once it’s all done but because he didn’t hide behind windows covered in craft-paper or newspaper he gets to interact with future customers now to get the buzz started. I’ve seen tweets since my visit from others who have been invited inside by John for a tour and I think that’s just so smart. I was actually chased off by peaking inside an open door when floors were being redone in the old McCorry’s building on 3rd Street. Really? You’re going to chase curious people away people showing interest before you even open? I just don’t get it.

Ok, sorry, back to Horns. John is hoping to have Horns open in early September. Check out some of pictures I took, though it doesn’t compare to seeing it in person. Go take a walk, look curious, maybe you’ll get a sneak peak too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Update #2 on Summer To-do List

Ringing Rocks We went here on our day off last Friday, each of us with a hammer, even little Hailey. I was impressed by her ability to scramble across the boulder field with very little help and she had a blast making the rocks ring and hiking through the woods. Here’s a demo:

Easton Farmer’s Market

Hailey and I went last Saturday because the Crayola Factory was celebrating their 15th Birthday. Hailey is usually interested, at least briefly, with shopping at the farmer’s markets, but not so much when the Crayola Factory is having a block party! I managed to buy some soap that looks and smells like a creamsicle, wine, and farmer’s cheese. Over at the party Hailey insisted on climbing the rock wall.


Blueberry Festival

After getting back from Easton Hailey and I hopped on my bike (I have a trailer she rides in) and rode over to the blueberry festival. I was bummed not to come back with a blueberry pie this year, there was a fire that day at the bakery in Easton that supplies the festival.

Still left on the list, although I don’t see much action coming up this weekend with the heat wave. I will be found either in the AC or at the pool!

  1. Peddler’s Village – ran this past the family when we went to Ringing Rocks…they voted for New Hope instead…which was a lot of fun. We’ll still see if we can fit it in.
  2. Philadelphia Zoo – might fit this in on the staycation during Musikfest. We’ll see.
  3. The beach. Booked a place in Cape May right on the beach. My original choice, Margate, has no hotels and house rentals require a week. So we opted for Cape May instead and let me tell you getting a room there with only three weeks notice was not an easy task either. Most hotels and B&Bs require a minimum stay of 2-4 nights and we just didn’t want to eat up that much of our Musikfest staycation. Also, many of the B&Bs hate children under 8, or even 11. That’s right, they do not allow children under those ages to stay. Very frustrating.
  4. Baltimore Inner Harbor, MD. We’ll see. Not seeing a whole lot of opportunity to get this off the list, may have to move to next year’s list, but we shall see.
  5. Hawk Mountain still see this happening in September
  6. Lancaster County if not the summer we should be able to do this in the fall. I started following a furniture place on twitter and I love their tiger maple pieces. Would love to visit.
  7. Martin on Main barring any unforeseen circumstances, I should be there.
  8. Lunch at Starter’s Clubhouse if it weren’t for the heat wave I could have snuck this one in this coming weekend. This should be doable over the staycation.
  9. Hershey Park not sure about this one either. Husband thinks there isn’t enough for Hailey to go on (I believe she’s still under 40 inches, maybe 39 inches). I haven’t been here since 6th grade so I don’t really remember what they have. I think she would enjoy the chocolate tour (chocolate is her favorite food). Admission is pretty steep so I don’t want to blow it if she’s too young to really enjoy it. Any comments?

Speaking of comments please share what you’ve been up to this summer or if you think my list is missing anything!

Summer To-do List Update

Quick update on the Summer to-do list and two additions! With 5 days off over the holiday weekend I had a lot of time to cross off some of my to-do list:

  1. Knoebels we went the Friday before 4th of July for the second year in a row and it seems to be a great day to go, low crowds during the day, walk right onto kiddie rides and the big kid rides didn’t seem to have very long lines either. Later in the evening, right around the time we were getting tired anyway, it started to get more crowded. The same thing happened last year, probably the result of two things: 1) people leaving the pool/water park 2) cheaper evening all ride bracelets. Money saving tip: on weekdays you can buy ride bracelets, about $20 for little one’s like Hailey (under 48″ I believe) and then the ‘rents can use tickets to get on a few rides (we used $18 in tickets between the two of us). We didn’t make it over to the pool that day, next time. (On a sad note, there was a tragedy at the Crystal Pool on Wednesday, very sad).
  2. Lehigh Valley Zoo, Hailey and I visited on Sunday afternoon and I renewed our family membership while we were there. The otters were sleeping so we missed seeing them swimming around but the penguins were having a blast in their pool. Bad parenting move: I told Hailey to stand on the bench so she could reach the goats at the top of the fence and two goats almost knocked her off the bench…oops. And of course I snapped a picture first before catching her. She had a blast though!
  3. Kutztown Folk Festival Hailey, my mom and I went here on Tuesday, it still runs through July 10th. We had a good time, I spent too much money on who knows what, Hailey was just interested in the bouncy rides and the tractor train. The highlight of the trip was when my mom yelled at all the customers at the kite stand ” You realize they are all MADE IN CHINA…DON’T YOU?!?” It was pretty funny…I see where I get it from. She has a good point too. All of the other stands are pretty much handcrafted goods, then you have this huge sea of lawn flags and kites in the middle of it all, and everything is manufactured in China. It’s one thing if you go to a big box store, it is sadly expected, but at a craft show it is inappropriate, yet they are there every year. My best purchase was a (handmade in the USA) wooden spatula. I’ve been looking for a non-plastic, non-metal spatula for flipping eggs. This should work out well.

All this extra time on my hands over the weekend also gave me the chance to think of a couple of things I missed on my original list:

  1. Hershey Park, I haven’t been here since my 6th grade field trip. Someone just told me that it’s about $50 regular price to get in here so I’ll be looking for some good discount tickets. Hailey loves chocolate and I think she’ll not only enjoy some of the rides, but the chocolate tour.
  2. Ringing Rocks, Upper Black Eddy, Bucks County, this is a great free thing to check out. Bring a little hammer and you can bang on the rocks and they ring like bells. It’s a nice bonus to a day hike.

So that’s a total of 5 things off my list and 2 new things added…looks like it will be a busy summer.

Bucket List Update…I’m Slacking

Back in January, one of my first blog posts was a personal bucket list of local attractions that I have never been to and want to cross of my list in 2011. So how is it going? Of late….not so good. In the beginning I crossed off a few items rather quickly. I thought that June, mid-year, would be a good time to look back and review my progress and regain some momentum.

So here’s what I’ve done so far:

  1. America On Wheel’s Museum  – see my post
  2. Visit a local vineyardsee my post
  3. Souper Bowl at Banana Factorysee my post

Three things. I did three things, that’s it??? And all three of these were crossed off by mid-February!

So here’s what I didn’t do, along with my sorry excuses…

  1. Easton State Theatre – I originally wrote:
    “Everything I am interested in seeing is always sold out by the time I hear about it or the cost is not in-line with my level of interest.” Pretty much the same thing is happening. I either fail to check the schedule or I do find something I’m sort of interested in but the price is higher than my interest (for example, Bryan Adams).
  2. Any number of restaurants in Easton I have yet to get to. We aren’t big restaurant goers…my husband doesn’t care for crowds and we have a kid. Might have to turn this one into a birthday dinner.
  3. Godfrey Daniels – busy weekends…wanted to take Hailey to a storytelling event but was already over booked. Need to take another look at the schedule.
  4. Touchstone Theater – I’d like to get there sooner but if I don’t, I plan on seeing the Christmas Follies in December.
  5. Gio’s Italian Grill in Macungie – I jinxed myself. This was supposed to be a done deal…my reunion was supposed to be here but it got hijacked and turned into a picnic. I must admit the picnic was a lot of fun, not that Gio’s wouldn’t have been good, but it was great seeing everyone’s kids so it worked out for the best. Even if that means I have to make new plans to cross this off the list.
  6. Historic Bethlehem Cemetery Tours this is in October so I’m still ok…for now.
  7. Renninger’s Antiques and Collectors Extravaganza in Kutztown. I made plans to go to the June Extravaganza with a friend who also loves antiques. They are moving into a new house in July and she has sworn off buying more stuff that they will have to pack and move so we rescheduled for September’s Extravaganza.
  8. Glass blowing and/or photography classes at the Banana Factory. I found the class I want to take (a photography class where you make a book) but I forgot to sign up and I think it already started. I’ll have to check the next schedule.
  9. Martin Guitar Tour – I’m going to go to this when I’m on vacation for Musikfest in August.

To be honest, I’d be happy if I got through more than half of this list this year. I think the hardest one for me is going to be the State Theatre and maybe the Banana Factory class, depending on what is offered and when. 

I’m also making a summer to-do list. Not really a bucket list because many of the things I’ve already done previously, but just want to get there again. Hopefully I’ll get around to writing a post about it soon.

Did you make a bucket list for this year? How are you doing with it? Let me know in the comments! 


Mother’s Day Brunch Ideas

I started this Mother’s Day brunch requirement…errr…. tradition early on. From the time I was pregnant with Hailey I knew that I wanted brunch at Hotel Bethlehem to be my Mother’s Day tradition. Unfortunately for me…my husband is not one for doing things like making reservations so for my first Mother’s Day the Hotel brunch was booked and we went to the Brew Works instead.  The following year, even after persistent nag…err reminders, my husband did not make reservations for the Hotel Bethlehem brunch in time so I made reservations at Bolete. The following year and from that point forward I took matters into my own hands and I make my own Mother’s Day brunch reservations at the Hotel Bethlehem each year. Sigh.

Each of the three places has something a bit different to offer, so here are my takes on each of them:

Bethlehem Brew Works. Keep in mind that it’s been 4 years since I’ve had my Mother’s Day brunch here so the offering could be a bit different today. They offered a Mother’s Day brunch with no reservation requirement. The food was standard brunch fare and they had good Bloody Mary’s. Also, the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission’s Art Sale is on Main Street on Monday’s so the location is perfect if you want to incorporate this into your Mother’s Day as I do every year. Pros: Location, no reservations-perfect for last-minute plans, good drinks, casual,  louder atmosphere so if you have real little ones they won’t stick out when they start crying, good price, very flexible Cons: Food is ok but standard-doesn’t stand out, lacks a special Mother’s Day ambiance

Bolete. I was able to get in here with a table for three calling a few weeks before Mother’s Day. I called about 1-2 weeks ago as research for this post and they said they had some openings for smaller parties but were not taking any more reservations for larger (6 or more) parties. Bolete’s food is amazing and Mother’s Day brunch is no exception. This is not a brunch, they offer a special menu with a mix of brunch options, some more breakfasty-others less breakfasty. When I was there it was served as three courses. I had the best blueberry pancake in my life here. On the menu: Blueberry Pancake……$10. Yes it was one pancake (not huge, normal size) for $10. And it was so worth every penny. The food here is farm fresh and cooked to order. I was not a fan of the Mimosas or the Bloody Mary. If you have impatient toddlers it may be challenging. Also, Bolete’s location is a short drive to Main St. for the Art Sale, but it’s not the same as walking out from Brunch into the middle of the sale. Pros: the food is amazing, small intimate experience, not buffet style, nice Mother’s Day ambiance, can generally get reservations weeks ahead rather than months ahead, perfect for families where kids are older. Cons: location (not walkable to other activities like Art Sale), drinks in my opinion were not great, slower service (because food is carefully prepared, cooked to order) may not be ideal for young children, less casual than other options (this can be good or bad depending on your preference), portions are smaller (you will not be stuffed-this can be good too)

Hailey at Mother’s Day Brunch, Hotel Bethlehem, 2009

Hotel Bethlehem. Call months ahead for this if you want to get in. Seriously. Months. A few days before Mother’s Day you will receive a call from them not only confirming your reservation but asking you to reconfirm the number in your party and to provide credit card information so they can charge you if you don’t show up. Because this brunch is in such high demand they want to make sure that not only you show up but that your entire party shows up. I haven’t had the experience of showing up without my entire party or not at all so I don’t know how well they enforce this but I’m thinking they are serious if they go through the trouble of calling everyone and requiring the credit card info in advance. I must admit this practice put me off a bit but once you are at the brunch it will all be worth it, trust me. If you have been to any Hotel Bethlehem brunch you know that they do a really nice job and they kick it up several notches for Mother’s Day. They also have an expanded children’s buffet area that included a make your own cupcake station last year. It was super cute. They have coloring activities for the kids to keep them busy too. Hailey loves the formality with the white table clothes and is pretty well-behaved here. She eventually gets over acting like a princess at a formal function and spends most of the remainder of the brunch under the table in her fortress. While the food is buffet style, which I usually find ho-hum, the quality is high.  They have the expected omelette and carving stations as well as some surprises, especially in the seafood selection. And when brunch is over you can step straight outside and browse the Art Sale. Pros: Best Mother’s Day ambiance of the bunch, cannot beat the location, food is very good, Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s are excellent, great for kids of all ages, beautiful views, moderate price, formal feel but you can still be pretty casual here Cons: have to make reservations in advance, not good for go with the flow types (changing number of guests, last-minute cancellations), confirmation process can be off-putting, buffet style (some people like my husband are not a fan of buffets)

If you have any Mother’s Day experiences or preferences please share in the comments!

You really, really like me…I swear this hasn’t gone to my head #winning #tigerblood

Thank you, thank you very much. In all seriousness I am so thankful for everyone who voted for my blog, although I feel kind of silly since I’ve only written a handful of posts over the short 3 months since I’ve started this thing. And I really do swear that I won’t let this go to my head.

So now that I’m officially an award-winning blogger I feel this great pressure to write more regularly…not to mention the pressure to be more funny…which people seem to enjoy reminding me of. Yet, when I look at the picture of me and my double chin tweeting away while fellow award winning blogger Jaime bursts with excitement as she wins her second award of the night, I am reminded that I need to continue my weightloss journey, which at the moment means I have less time to sit on my ass and write. The major problem? I am more likely to exercise if I get it out of the way in the AM, and that just so happens to be the same time that I do my “best” (using that term loosely) writing.

It’s not that I don’t have ideas, I have like 5 blog posts in my head right now (trust me, this was NOT one of them -hence all the rambling goofiness). But I’m a procrastinator and procrastinators love reasons to put things off. I’ll work on that I promise…tomorrow.

Speaking of procrastinating, that’s what I’m actually doing right now…I still have to write my next column for the Lehigh Brown and White that is due any day now. It will print this Friday. In the meantime, here’s a link to my last column about Becoming Part of the Community it includes some suggestions that not only could help Lehigh students but anyone in the Lehigh Valley feel more connected. If you are interested you can also see my first one here, as well as Part I and Part II of my columns on stereotypes and town-gown relations.

I had a little dilemma about this next column. I already created a “Lehigh Bucket List” a list of must-do’s before graduating from Lehigh but have not actually typed out the column (it’s all there still in my head). Then I saw a Lehigh student tweet out a request for ideas for a Lehigh Bucket List…for her article. I was originally bummed…I’m running out of ideas here. But then realized that I was specifically asked to write my column based on my view as a non-Lehigh student, as the “token-townie” as I call myself. So I’m writing it anyway. She will write from a student’s standpoint, I’ll offer my local insight. My next dilemma was to decide if I should look at the student’s article in order to reduce some redundancy (assuming her’s prints before mine). But then I decided not to because I don’t want it to affect what’s already written in my mind. What are the chances they will really be that similar? I guess we shall see. Who knows, maybe hers was actually for a journalism project and not even for the paper. I really have no idea.

This brings me to a possible topic for another blog post. Why do we sometimes get annoyed when someone “steals” your idea, even if they had no idea you were thinking of doing the same thing? It’s weird isn’t it? I don’t like it and I’m trying to cure myself of it…if that is possible. Maybe it is the disappointment that we really aren’t as original as we would like to think we are?

Ok…a little too deep for the BEST HUMOR COLUMN EVER.

So anyway…an update:

Still doing weight watchers, though I’m way too dependant on those extra weekly points. Only lost 4.2 lbs so far. Yes, I know muscle weighs more than fat. I can tell you that is not muscle in that double chin.

Still doing P90X and feel sooooo much better already. Why the hell did I stop in the first place?

Doing well with the running, keeping up and increasing my pace slowly but surely.

Still deciding on that perfect wrinkle cream.  Thank you all for the suggestions! For now I’m using up my free samples from Sephora that I had laying around. First I tried Miracle in a Jar from Philosophy (actually miracle in a tiny packet) and I didn’t see any miracles. Now I’m finishing up some Shiseido Bio-Performance Super Restoring Cream. The stuff seems to work but is a bit greasy. Probably won’t buy it, but I’ll keep using it until it is gone (it was a “deluxe” sample). Bonus: If you click on the link look at the links on the left of the page…there is a “Dick Page” link. I was like what the hell, but it turns out that’s the unfortunate name of their Artistic Director. Yes, I have the sense of humor of a 13 year old boy, ala Beavis and Butthead. But hey, you voted for me.

First Strides Starts This Week

In my continued effort to lose weight and get in shape I registered for First Strides which begins all over the Lehigh Valley this week. I’ll be at the Sand Island sessions, which start this Thursday.

Basically First Strides is a running program for women that is sponsored by  Lehigh Valley Hospital, Aardvark Sports Shop (Bethlehem), and The Finish Line Running Store (Emmaus). I participated two years ago and I’m determined to get back into running again so I joined up again this year.

Basically you meet up with a swarm of other women to run, in my case at Sand Island (one of my favorite running spots), each week. After a few weeks you break out into groups that run at a similar pace. Groups have names like Jaguars, Giselle’s, even Jack Rabbits. If there was a turtle group that would have been perfect for me. In all seriousness though it is a great way to meet people with similar goals and challenges.

But in all seriousness this is perfect for first timers and even experienced runners, especially if you need some motivation. You follow a program that gradually builds  in time and speed each week, switching between slow and fast intervals. Each week the fast intervals gets longer and the slow intervals gets longer. For newbies or people like me who are coming off of a hiatus you can walk the slow interval, and run the fast interval. If you are already running or are somewhat in shape you can run both intervals, slow run and fast run. The first week the run intervals are only ONE MINUTE long. Seriously, you can do this. Each week there is also homework, at first two additional runs before the next meeting, eventually three additional runs.  By the end of the 12 week program you are ready to run a 5K. For many in the group this will be a first 5K. It was mine 2 years ago and I survived (barely). And not because they didn’t prepare me, but because I didn’t always keep up with my homework. Now I know better and I WILL keep up with the homework this time.

You can even enter the program intervals into Runkeeper to help you with your homework runs. Hopefully you picked up the pro app when it was free in January. If not, it is worth every penny. The free app is also good, try it first and if you like it get the pro version.

There is still time to register on-line. Go to the First Strides homepage and click on the location you want to sign up for and then go to the registration area. They’ll ask if you want to join Active.com, unless you are really interested, skip that part, it costs extra and is not required for joining First Strides.

I also plan to work in a few P90X routines each week because I did notice running was much easier last summer when I was on the program. I still need to find my motivation again, I’ve been extra lazy in the morning lately, only getting in about 2 P90X workouts a week.

I also tend to think I can eat a lot more (more than burning off with exercise) when I’m active so I’ll also be on the weight watchers program during all of this to keep me in line. I managed to lose 3.2 lbs at my 2nd check-in. Woo-hoo. I’m hoping to earn my first 5 lb gold star this week. Fingers crossed – I was kind of bad this weekend – I’ve burned through my extra weekly points. I must say that I like the points plus program much better – I’m eating lots of fruits and vegetables instead of crappy pre-packaged foods with artificial ingredients just to make point calculations easy and points low.