Tag Archives: bethlehem

Thanks a Bunch!

Thursday night, as I was just returning home from an art event I was participating in at Moravian College, I felt my phone start buzzing like crazy in my pocket. I set down my artwork, dug out my phone, and flipped it open to see a couple of new messages:

“Hey there, winner!”—my friend, Jaime, of Save the Kales

“You won best neighborhood blog!”—my boss, Jane, whose nephew writes Laughing At My Nightmare

I logged into Facebook and read:

“Congrats on your award! Way to be awesome!”—my friend, Charlotte, who must have been following Lehigh Valley with Love‘s Twitter feed

Then, after a moment of reveling at the speed in which information travels via text messaging and social media, it all sunk in—FromHereNow had just been announced as the winner of the best neighborhood blog category on at the My Choice, My Voice blog awards! The Morning Call, one of the Lehigh Valley’s local papers hosted the contest. I had already committed to participating in an homage to Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” on the night of the awards ceremony, and, while I was bummed about missing it, I didn’t think too much of it, because I couldn’t fathom that this little eight-month old blog would win anything. I had been mostly disappointed that I wouldn’t meet some of the other local bloggers who had been nominated—There were many worthy nominees in each category. I was quite surprised to hear the news!

I originally started this blog for two reasons: to share the things I have learned to love about the Lehigh Valley, and to have something to do with my hands when I quit smoking (That’s the biggest win of them all! Still nicotine free!). I really didn’t think many people would read it, and I wasn’t even sure if I could keep it up (I’ve witnessed many blogs that start off strong and just can’t commit to the time or energy it takes to keep a blog fresh.) So, this recognition comes as a pleasant surprise, and a motivational boost to keep going.

Thanks a bunch to everyone who voted for FromHereNow!

P.S. Since I didn’t go to the awards ceremony, I have to go to the Morning Call office to pick up my plaque and have a picture taken. Once I have it, I’ll put up a picture! 🙂

 

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She Provides a Place to Slow Down

One of my hopes for this blog is that it can shed some light on the members of this community that do awesome things. There are people all over the Lehigh Valley that inspire others, work hard, lead progress, and contribute to the sense of community in this area. Through a series of interviews with some of these individuals, I hope to both share their thoughts and insights with my readers and learn something myself about what others think it means to be From Here Now.
I didn’t have to think twice about my first interviewee: Emily Hoffert. Emily has been my best friend since freshman year of high school and is the manager of Jumbars, a great local eatery owned by her family (just voted the best breakfast in Bethlehem on patch.com!). She has inspired me more and more on an almost daily basis with her ambition, dedication and achievement. Emily is an active member of the Downtown Bethlehem Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Bethlehem Food Co-Op. She was recognized last year as one of the Top 20 Under 40 in the Eastern PA Business Journal. Additionally, she is a talented potter, lifetime member of Girl Scouts USA, Beatles fan, devoted older sister to Ben and Harry, and loving partner to Jenn. I am proud to have a woman like Emily in my hometown.
Emily Hoffert

Emily Hoffert with some Jumbars nibbles. (Photo by The Moment Photography)

When did you move to the Lehigh Valley? Do you remember your first impressions?
I moved to the Valley from Montpelier, VT in 1996 when I was 10 years old. It was a hard transition for me at that age. I missed Vermont winters and the snow as a kid, but I’ve grown out of that and am now a typical grumpy adult who realizes the inconveniences that come with snow and ice 😛
What do you love about the Lehigh Valley?
I love music and I love that we have a plethora of venues and festivals where I have seen a lot of great acts, from Rosemary Clooney and Tony Bennet to Ani Difranco or Dar Williams to bands like Girly Man or Small Potatoes (they’re worth Googling!).
What don’t you love about the Lehigh Valley?
The public transportation leaves a lot to be desired.
What are the best places to hang out in the area?
The Wise Bean has been my favorite coffee shop since it opened 7 years ago. I love walking there on a beautiful day, chatting it up with Joan (the owner) or going in with my laptop to catch up on emails. The new Arts Quest Center has been fun this year and I have seen some great concerts, independent films and I liked their farmer’s market too. Godfrey Daniels is another great place to hear some great musicians and bands play.
What is the most beautiful sight you have seen in the LV?
Burnside Plantation, Monocacy Park, Sand Island, Jacobsburg Park, and Bethlehem Steel are all special places in the LV (or very nearby).
How do you see your current role as a member of the community?
My role in the community goes hand in hand with Jumbars. Part of our philosophy at Jumbars is slowing down from today’s fast paced go-go-go society. We provide a venue where people are able to sit back and relax, escape from their hectic and wired lives and enjoy good company or a good book while savoring a wholesome meal made fresh from scratch just for you!
How does Jumbars fit into the community?
I view Jumbars as an oasis or watering hole where friends, co-workers and family members can meet and share good conversation and relax over a good meal.
What are your favorite parts of running a restaurant in this town?
I love being an active member of my community. I love that Jumbars is small enough that I have the ability to build meaningful relationships with my customers and that I get to be a part of their lives.
What is your favorite menu item at Jumbars?
I have to pick? Our Grilled Salmon Salad or Mary’s Salad are two of my favorites on a regular basis, but when I want to indulge I’d go for Jumbars’ SOS or an Elvis Waffle (an annual January Special we make upon request all year round).
You were selected as one of the Top Twenty Under Forty in the Eastern PA Business Journal. To what do you credit that level of success?
I was humbled and honored and very surprised to receive this award. I just do my very best each and every day. Marketing is one of my favorite aspects of my job and watching Jumbars grow exponentially as a direct result of that has been very rewarding.
What is your biggest hope for the future of the LV?
I feel that the culture in the LV has been changing and evolving to be more community-oriented and I am excited to see it grow and continue to move forward. In the last couple of years there have been a lot of great community-based events created and cultivated, especially in Bethlehem. Tunes at Twilight, Harvest Fest, VegFest and ArtWalks are all examples of events that bring the community together. I am a proud part of the Bethlehem Food Coop initiative and I feel it would be a great addition to the already great Greater Lehigh Valley.
What does it mean to you to be From Here Now?
While moving from VT was difficult as a kid and I wanted to move back there for a long time, now I’m looking forward to settling down with my partner, Jenn, and building our life together here in the Lehigh Valley. I also hope Jumbars will be a successful part of our lives – my family’s and the community’s – for many years to come!
(Don’t forget to vote for your favorite blogs in the Best of Blogs contest! You can vote once per category per day.)

Weekend Hodgepodge

This weekend was supposed to be mostly work with little time to play. BUT, the weather was sooo gorgeous, I couldn’t bear to be inside staring at a computer screen, knowing that the sun was shining, breeze was blowing and spring had sprung outside.

Jumbars Brownie Sunday

Friday evening we had a last minute visit with one of my sisters over dinner at my parents house. We enjoyed some meatless lasagna, salad, Jumbars dinner rolls, and broccoli. The meal was topped off with Jumbars brownies, topped with natural vanilla bean ice cream, and a dollop of espresso fudge. Mmm.

Tober & the Sardine

Saturday morning started with a bit of amusement as Tober was supremely fascinated with this illustration of a sardine. Too cute.

Running Sneakers

I recently began the Couch to 5k running program, in preparation for the Dirty Girl Mud Run in May, so I went for a run in the brisk morning air on Saturday.

Food Co-Op Logo Sketches

Saturday afternoon was occupied by Bethlehem Food Co-Op business. First, I spent two brain boggling hours with the other designers, trying to finalize and whittle down our numerous logo options. Then, I met with a few other cooperators to discuss a feasibility study at the Wise Bean.

Daal

For a hearty and inexpensive meal on Saturday night, I whipped up a batch of red lentil daal (recipe coming soon!).

Girl Scout Sunday

Sunday, groggy from the daylight savings time change, I headed to a place I rarely go- church. It was Girl Scout Sunday, so the members of our troops volunteered to be ushers and host a coffee hour at the church where we meet as a thank you to the congregation.

Coffee Hour Table

The girls did a great job distributing bulletins, reading liturgy, collecting offerings, and providing food for the coffee hour. I prepared a vegan coffee cake to serve.

Green Pond

Sunday afternoon, I couldn't bear to be indoors, so Kevin and I set out on a geocaching expedition to some of the prettiest places in Bethlehem Township. The first cache we found was located on the shore of Green Pond. Tranquil, although it did smell a bit rank since the area is frequently flooded.

Louise Moore Flowers

Next, we went to Louise Moore Park and had a picnic, having brought some sandwiches from Martellucci's. Signs of spring abounded, and we were happy to see the large community garden.

Monocacy Meadow Railroad

Next, we followed our geocaching GPS to Monocacy Meadow, a small but pretty park that is a popular fishing location. We found a multicache and took a walk along the railroad tracks.

Housenick Park

The last park we visited was Housenick Park on Christian Springs Road, one we had never been to before. It is an absolute gem! This is a relatively new park, still being worked on, and is a fascinating blend of history and nature. It is large and beautiful; 55 acres of rugged terrain, abandoned estate buildings, and the Monocacy Creek.

Sprout

It was so refreshing to see the tufts of green popping up through the layer of dead brown leaves.

Sun flare

We explored the rugged outlying areas of the park, finding several geocaches.

Archibald Johnston Home

Another fascinating part of the park is the Archibald Johnston home, abandoned and disintegrating atop a hill. It's a beautiful structure, full of intrigue and faded elegance.

Archibald Johnston Home

After a bit of research when we came home from the park, we learned that Bethlehem Township has hopes to restore this grand building that was once home to the mayor of Bethlehem/Bethlehem Steel Executive Archibald Johnston.

Crazy Tree

We found our last cache for the day within this crazy tree on the edge of the park. It will be exciting to see the improvements as the progress of fixing up/restoring this land continues.

Through the reading we did about Housenick Park and Archibald Johnston, we also learned a lot about a current conflict between Central Moravian Church and local environmentalists and township residents. As it turns out, the downtown Bethlehem church inherited a large stretch of equally beautiful land directly bordering Housenick Park. Instead of preserving or conserving the land they were charged with by a Johnston relative upon her death, they have entered into discussions to develop this land into apartments and business properties. After seeing the land and realizing what development would do to the environment (especially the already stressed Monocacy Creek!), the atmosphere and the dwindling open space in the area, I sincerely hope the church acts as responsible stewards, finding someone else to properly care for the tract if they cannot themselves. I cannot adequately explain the conflict or intricacies here, but I encourage you to learn more about this possible poor decision in the works, and let your voice be heard if you want future generations to enjoy the great natural spaces we have in our town. If you’d like to read more about this conflict, click here for a recent article in the Morning Call.

* stepping off my soap box *

I am so glad to have stepped away from what could have been an glum indoor weekend full of chores and tasks to enjoy the great outdoor areas we have in our back yard. Supposedly, next weekend will be similarly nice out, so I’ll have to make sure to work hard this week to play hard next weekend!

(Don’t forget to vote for your favorite blogs in the Best of Blogs contest! You can vote once per category per day.)


A House. OF DUMPLINGS. In Bethlehem.

A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of a No Reservations Netflix marathon, Kevin and I learned about a fascinating Asian food called the soup dumpling. I am a huge fan of any sort of dumpling—Pierogies, Chinese dumplings, Cornish Pasties … Show me a dumpling, and I will likely enjoy it. The soup dumpling is especially intriguing because it is magically filled with soup! According to Anthony Bourdain, this feat of broth encapsulated by tender dough is achieved by using a solidified gelatin rich stock (like the one I made here). The stock is worked in to the filling in its chilled, solid state, but melts into delightful broth within the dough as it steams. You can see for yourself how it is made in Shanghai here:

Cut to last week: As we were driving out to Keepsake Farm in Nazareth, we passed a sign for the Prince Palace Dumpling House in the no man’s land stretch of route 512 between the industrial park and the sprawling new development of “little boxes on the hillside” at the edge of Hanover Township, just before Bath. Set back off the road next to a diner with a motel attached, with no cars in the parking lot, this place looked a little sketchy.

Prince Palace Dumpling House

Prince Palace Dumpling House

However, the notion of a restaurant devoted to dumplings in Bethlehem still piqued my interest. So, this past weekend, I looked up the place online, and was pleasantly, and somewhat skeptically, surprised to see several shining reviews on Yelp. Numerous people claimed that this is the place where all of the Chinese exchange students from Lehigh University go to eat, which is always a sign of a good ethnic restaurant. So, we decided to try it out. After a long day of cleaning, we hopped in the car and drove straight out Center Street to get there.

We arrived in late afternoon, so it wasn’t all that surprising to only see one other table full in the restaurant. We were immediately greeted by a blend of tasty aromas. Since we were ordering takeout, the hostess presented us with a paper menu to order from, but also suggested that we look at the picture menu, so we could see what the different kinds of dumplings looked like.

Picture Menu

Picture Menu (typeset in Comic Sans … Of course.)

The prices were so incredibly inexpensive. I don’t think there was anything on the menu for more than $6, and there were several items that were just a dollar! Also, we saw that you can purchase 50 frozen dumplings for $15. I know what I am serving at our next party!

We placed an immense takeout order (lunches for the week!) and sat down in the clean, large dining room to wait for our food. Looking around, I observed several things. First, I saw the collection of intriguing Asian beverages available. There was soy milk in cans, various juices, and some sort of soda that included the word “jelly” in the name. There was also a shelf lined with various components for bubble tea and trays full of assorted Chinese pastries.

The restaurant itself is fairly stark, with the exception of some modern, geometric light fixtures that seem like they should be hanging in a hipster coffee shop. Most unique, though, is the wall decor. Framed posters featuring Christian imagery adorn the walls, typeset with Bible verses in Chinese. After noticing the artwork, I also noticed that the music playing in the restaurant was an instrumental hymnal album. I thought this was kind of a strange, but according to my friend Joe, the Christian undertones to the restaurant mean that the owners are likely from southern China.

Interior

Simple, clean and, interestingly, Christian decor inside Prince Palace.

After about 10 minutes, our giant bag of dumplings were brought out from the back. We grabbed some lychee candies on our way out the door and drove back home to give the little pockets a try!

Dumplings

Our feast!

As we unpacked our bag of delicious smelling dumplings, we were amazed at the quantity we received! Having only spent $32, we ended up with several days worth of food. The plate in the center of this picture holds our appetizers: two crispy scallion cakes, one crispy sesame cake and some fried curly dough. The cakes were all amazing, with a layer of savory filling inside a flaky crust. The fried dough reminded me of a churro, minus the cinnamon and sugar. It was good, but I think I’d choose a scallion cake over the dough any day.

As for dumplings, we ordered three varieties, all steamed: pork & chive, beef & scallion, and chicken curry. The fillings were perfectly prepared in tender, delicate dough. The chicken curry was my favorite, but all of them were delicious and fresh tasting. It was mild, yet very flavorful. We also ordered some wontons in spicy sauce. These are SPICY, in a very garlicky sort of way, as the wontons are smothered in a sauce that largely consists of minced garlic. Lastly, we ordered some soup buns. On the Prince Palace menu, these are called Juicy Pork Buns (how can you not be tempted to try that?). We didn’t realize they would be soup buns until we bit into them and leaked broth all over the place. These were my favorite thing from all that we ordered. Simply amazing. The rich broth, savory filling and soft dough were cooked to perfection. Finally, for dessert, we ordered some coconut cakes, which were nothing at all like what I imagined a cake to be. Shaped kind of like dumplings and coated with coconut, I think these three-bite treats are steamed. They have a delicate coconut flavor and a texture like a dense Jello.

We enjoyed sampling all the different kinds of dumplings we brought home. The food seemed authentic, not drowned in sugary, corn-starchy sauces or loaded with MSG. The menu also included things like noodle dishes and vegetarian options, all at affordable prices.

I really want this place to stay open so that I can keep buying their dumplings! They’ve only been open about three months, so they really need your support. It’s really great to have a place in Bethlehem striving to serve authentic Chinese food. So, go get your dumpling on!

Prince Palace Dumpling House
5000 Bath Pike
Bethlehem, PA 18017

Prince Palace Dumpling House on Facebook 


He Laughs at His Nightmare

I am consistently amazed at the number of people in the area who are doing awesome things every day. There are some seriously inspiring people in the Lehigh Valley, and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and/or meeting many of them. One of my hopes about this blog is that I will be able to spotlight some of the great people in my hometown, through interviews, features, guest blog posts or simply connecting all of you to what they are doing. I have some interviews in the works and have been brainstorming ideas for other ways to feature people, but haven’t fully formulated my plan yet. However, I wanted to share this with all of you right away.

I have been acquainted with Shane for about 8 years, when circumstances led our paths to cross at the church my father-in-law pastored. I only knew him well enough to say hello to for several years, and didn’t see him very often for quite some time. As often in this area, though, our paths intersected again last year when I began a new job. Shane has a progressive, chronic and life-threatening disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which has left his body wheelchair bound and his sharp mind in a space of relentless positivity. I’m not going to write about the details of his disease or the incredible nature of Shane’s attitude, because you can see it all on his blog, called Laughing At My Nightmare. It should be in everyone’s RSS feed.

Shortly after he began his blog and quickly amassed a large following, Shane decided to put his popularity to good use. In the midst of his busy college career, numerous health complications (including a new daily feeding tube regimen) and his blog post writing, he and his cousin decided to start a non-profit organization about positivity. They are selling some pretty rad Laughing At My Nightmare bracelets to raise money for MDA research and are beginning several projects to spread a message about having an uplifting outlook in the face of diversity.

Today, Shane released his first project through Laughing At My Nightmare, Inc.. It’s a video that is one to bookmark for one of those days where you are wallowing in self-pity and can’t seem to get out of bed. Check it out and pass it on.


Are These Smart Meters Really Such a Smart Idea?

I don’t know much about the new smart meters that are being installed throughout town, but I have to say, it seems like a situation where the end user loses.

It is ridiculous to me that when your car leaves the space, any extra time on the meter disappears! When I worked at the Boyd, we used to argue over who could act as the “meter fairy” and surprise people outside with extra time or fill their expired meter to help them avoid a ticket while they enjoyed a movie. With these meters, you can’t even pay it forward or carry out a random act of kindness by leaving time on the meter for the next person to use the spot! I definitely say a loud BOO to that. Plus, as Wink’s article points out- Isn’t this kind of unethical? If I put a quarter in a meter, I expect there to be that amount of time on the meter, regardless of whether my car is there or not.

[I once heard that the city’s budget depends partially on parking tickets. Anyone know if this is truly the case?]

Read more about the smart meters here at Wink Magazine:

BPA part III.


Weekend Hodgepodge

Ah, a weekend without a single cookie booth sale! Don’t get me wrong, I love everything I do with Girl Scouts, but it felt great to not have any chunk of time this weekend dedicated to standing at a table in the cold. Instead, my weekend revolved around food, graphic design and recreation. A light coating of snow from Friday night into Saturday morning decorated the landscape without making hazards on the road, so I was able to enjoy the winter scenery, too!

Burger

Friday night began with a thick burger, topped with raw milk Swiss, mushrooms and BBQ sauce, paired with homemade pasta & a spicy-sweet sauce and served with a tall beer. Good start to a weekend!

Keepsake Bambi

Saturday morning began with a trip to Keepsake farm for some milk. Farmer John's mom was working in the shop and was kind enough to show me the back of the new facility! I got to see the new milking parlor, which accommodates up to six cows at a time- Smaller than the previous parlor, but very nice for the cows! I also got to meet Bambi, here, who was enjoying the shelter of the new barn. In the new barn, the cows are not confined to stalls and can come and go to the pasture as they please.

Keepsake Cheese Room

From the main store at the new Keepsake Farm location, you can peek through a large window into the cheese making room.

Snow Geese

On the way home, as the snow from the morning was just ending, I saw an extra haze of white in the sky. It turns out, a huge flock of snow geese was coming in for a landing! I never saw snow geese this closely before, so I pulled over to have a look as they gathered in the field.

Padula Potatoes

Another quick errand for Saturday morning was a stop for potatoes at Padula's on the way back from the dairy. I love this place. In a small, dark cellar, mounds of red, white, yellow, and purple potatoes are watched over by an elderly couple who has been working the fields for quite some time. You absolutely cannot beat the prices for these tasty tubers- just a couple dollars for 10 lbs of potatoes!

 

Tober Water

Kevin and I sat down to enjoy some quiche and tomato soup from Jumbars for lunch, and Tober decided to join us and pretend he was human enough to use a pint glass.

Blueberry Ginger Snap Ice Cream

After an afternoon spent meeting with other foodies and designers, working diligently on designing the logo for the Bethlehem Food Co-Op, I hurried home to put our fresh milk to use in our first ever batch of homemade ice cream! We used our Kitchenaid to concoct this blueberry-ginger snap ice cream. Look for the recipe soon!

Pierogi Casserole

For dinner, I whipped up this PA Dutch/eastern European inspired casserole of kielbasa, red cabbage, pierogies and Swiss cheese. Really simple, inexpensive and tasty! This recipe will be posted soon too.

Tober Scrabble

Kevin and I settled into a Saturday night of board games, playing chess, Boggle, and Scrabble ... until Tober decided our game was over.

 

Hello Burrito Soup & Wrap

Sunday was freezing cold, so I was exeptionally happy to not have a booth sale! We had Jumbars breakfast, then I spent the rest of the morning preparing awards to distribute at an upcoming Brownie Girl Scout ceremony. At noon, I headed off to Hello Burrito with a friend & colleague to go over what I'd be teaching when I sub for Intro to Design this week. This black bean & salsa soup with a brown rice & black bean wrap was great for fighting the chill outside.

Vagina Monologues

After lunch, I picked up Kevin, and we headed off to Moravian College for a V-Day performance of the Vagina Monologues. I was happily surprised to see the number of men in attendance! The cast did a great job reading the monologues.

Potato Soup

Finally, we capped off the weekend with some Anthony Bourdain, Franklin Hill wine and a pot of hearty potato soup with carrots & rosemary. It was the perfect meal for the cold night.


Reminder: Bethlehem Food Co-Op Meeting Tonight!

One of the coolest things happening in Bethlehem right now is the development of the Bethlehem Food Co-Op, a good-food grocery store that will serve the downtown areas of the city. Even though we are in the earliest stages of the process, it’s obvious that this will be amazing due to the passionate, dedicated people that have already gotten involved. Tonight, planning moves to the next step as committees meet to formulate plans, select leaders and vote on an official name.

Come get involved—All are welcome! There’s something for everyone to do, whether you have lots of time or just a little, no matter where your talents lie! Bring a friend or neighbor that might be interested, a snack to share (if you’d like to), and your ideas for how we can make this happen.

The meeting will be held at 7pm at the Ice House on Sand Island. For details about the meeting agenda, click here.

Sand Island Ice House

See you tonight at the Ice House!


I’m Back!

Well, that was a lovely break—I’ve barely touched a computer for the past week! Between last minute gift crafting and a whirlwind Christmas weekend, I am still recuperating, but am back to blogging with some really exciting posts coming up! Our holiday was great. We got to enjoy seeing every single one of my four sisters (plus their husbands & children) and were happy to have Kevin’s grandmother with us as she spent her first Christmas living in Bethlehem.

I think our handmade gifts went over well (look for a handmade gift guide coming soon!) and we were very fortunate to receive so much.

Food Related Gifts

Hmm, I think people may have realized we enjoy cooking & growing food … New toys include an ice cream maker, panini press, herb dryer and dumpling press, plus I now have a TON of books to read for din-spiration and research!

Irie Tuna

Irie also got in on the action with a tuna & crackers gift set!

Our Christmas weekend included all the fixin’s for a holiday—Way too much food, plenty of booze, a trip to take my nephew to see Santa, Moravian Lovefeast/candle service, the Hanukkah menorah being lit at Christmas dinner, bouncing around between parents’ homes, laughter and Christmas movies.

Star of Bethlehem

As much as I get frustrated during tourist seasons in this town, it is pretty cool to have a "real" Star of Bethlehem hanging over our valley.

I hope you all had a great holiday, whether or not you celebrate Christmas. I’ll be playing catch up around here the next few days, so keep your eyes out for new posts!


Weekend Hodgepodge

I am sad to see this weekend go! Not only don’t I feel caught up on sleep enough to face a busy week ahead at work, it was just so full of friends, food and fun I wish it could go on for a few more days.

Sausage, Mushroom & Kale Pizza

Saturday night, my great friend Sarah came to visit from Moscow (Moscow, Pennsylvania, that is). I hadn't seen her in months, so it was great to catch up! We made this pizza topped with fresh tomato sauce, kale, sausage and mushrooms to chow down on for dinner.

You can find the recipe for the whole wheat pizza crust here.

Mario Party

We munched on pizza, drank cider & rum (followed by beer) and played Mario Party with Kevin. I lost by an incredible landslide.

Apple Upside Down Cake

I told Sarah I'd whip us up a batch of brownies. She flipped through my brownie cookbook and found a recipe for apple upside down brownies, which used a few more dishes but was way more rewarding. I only had a round pan, so it turnout out more like a cake, but was excellent. Recipe coming soon! We nibbled on this cake as we worked on making faux capiz chandeliers until 2am.

Jumbars Strata

Saturday was started off right with some takeout from Jumbars—Sarah & I both got the savory strata that I have been hooked on lately.

Crafting

Saturday afternoon, we headed to our friend Tori's to use her newly established crafting area. Seriously rockin' craft space—TV, plenty of seats/surfaces and a wetbar!

Taco Dip

"Lunch" was a mad dash to the hot dish of taco dip Sarah made. Layers of salsa, cream cheese & cheddar—Doesn't get much gooier!

Etched Pint Glasses

I finished a bunch of monogrammed pint glasses we'll be filling with a special treat and giving as Christmas gifts.

Tori Crafting

Tori made some awesome bottlecap rings and embellished hair flowers.

Wreath

Sarah worked on this monochromatic wreath and some colorful wall art gifts.

Bunny

I also finished my niece's bunny. Craft day was such a success, we agreed to do it once per season.

Cali Burrito

The day ended with Kevin meeting us at Cali Burrito for dinner. I gobbled down half of the burrito of the week, full of smoked local tofu, peppers, onions, olives, tomato sauce, black beans & brown rice. Kevin & I were supposed to go see a play after this, but he was so wiped from working all day that we postponed until Thursday.

Sunday Snacks

Sunday, after a Jumbars breakfast sandwich, I made a batch of sweet potato and beet chips to bring along to a friend's home as a group of us gathered to brainstorm & dream of all the wonderful things happening in Bethlehem. We also nibbled on a delicious chickpea salad and pumpkin-cranberry muffins, washed down with homemade chai.

Vespers

Feeling properly inspired, I headed out to meet my husband, father-in-law and grammy-in-law (plus her friend) to attend the annual Christmas Vespers. Albeit rather churchy for my usual taste, the amazing music and candlelit portion of this event in downtown Bethlehem make it heart warming.

Belfrey Brass

My favorite part of vespers is the brass ensemble that plays from the tower of the church as the crowd of hundreds exits into the historic area. The selection of music this year was better than any I had heard in previous years.

Dessert

Following vespers, we headed to my in-laws for an evening of conversation and delightful nibblies with my parents, Kevin's parents, both of his grandmothers and one of their friends. This kind of weekend should happen more often.


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