A Common-Sense Guide to Musikfest 2017

If you’re a resident of the Lehigh Valley (and haven’t spent the last few weeks under a rock), you are aware that Musikfest starts this Friday, August 4th. For those not in the know, Musikfest is a ten-day music festival featuring dozens of acts, crafts, street performers, beer, and more fried food than you’d be able to eat in a month. It’s kind of a big deal in this area and I’m definitely a fan. I’ve attended regularly for about seven or eight years now and I usually make it to the festival multiple nights during the ten days (ridiculous work schedule notwithstanding).

I don’t consider myself to be some sort of Musikfest professional, but I’d like to think I’m pretty well versed in the ins and outs of ‘Festing, so I decided to share some helpful tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way.

A Primer: Musikfest takes up a good portion of Bethlehem, PA, with stages on both the north and south sides of town. The big ticket acts only play on the Southside, so if you only have plans to see Live, Santana or Toby Keith (Why tho?), I’d suggest parking on the Southside to save yourself the headache of navigating your way over from Broad Street. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Musikfest has multiple stages, called Platzes, at which many acts play during each day at the festival. The majority of the Platzes are on the Northside, and I recommend starting your day over there, if not spending all day in that area. You can always hop on the North-South shuttle if there’s a specific act you wanted to see on the Southside. Walking is an option but with the Fahy Bridge (still) under massive construction, I’d avoid it if possible.

Before you go:

Get in the know. Download the app, grab a progam at Artsquest , or familiarize yourself with the Musikfest website. The more informed you are before you arrive the better. You’ll get info on band schedules, where to park and grab the North-South shuttle, where to fill your mug, and where to find your corn.

Follow my friend The El Vee, if you aren’t already(He’s on Facebook too). In addition to his awesome yearly pre-Fest guide(including where to get the best craft and local brew mug fills), his daily recommendations for must-see acts will help make the best of the “music” portion of your Musikfest experience, and his recaps will let you know which acts to look out for next year, if you missed them.

Buy a Mug. Even if you’re only going one day. Get a damn mug(or borrow an old one from a friend). If you’re planning on buying more than one beer it’ll save you a little cash. You can snag one of the fancy-pants light up mugs, but they cost like two bucks more, plus they’re a pain in the ass to wash. Go for the regular mugs; they’re much easier to throw in the dishwasher in the morning to wash the beer funk out. You can snag one at Artsquest or a local Wegmans this week before the festival even starts.

Get Comfortable. Musikfest takes place in August in Pennsylvania. It’s notoriously hot and humid this time of the year. Wear comfortable, light clothes and sturdy shoes good for walking. If you carry a purse I recommend a cross-body type to keep your hands free, and if possible, pick up a large carabineer to clip your mug to your bag or belt when not in use. 

Come Prepared, but Travel Light. Bring only the necessities. Will you need cash? Yes, absolutely. Bring your ID and ATM cards too. A small bottle of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer or small pack of baby wipes will help keep your hands clean after using the porta-potties, and if you plan on taking a lot of photos, videos, or spend the day SnapChatting, a portable power bank isn’t a bad idea. If you’re prone to aches, pains, and heartburn like me, bring a small bottle of Tylenol or pack of antacids. At the very least have them available back at your vehicle along with Band-Aids and other first aid supplies, and maybe a cooler with icy cold bottles of water for the drive home.

Suck It Up and Pay For Parking. Unless you arrive hella early or get hella lucky, you’re not going to find a free parking space anywhere near the festival grounds. So park about a mile and a half away and get to stepping, park at one of the shuttle lots and bus in, or pay $10 to park in one of the city lots. Many local businesses/churches offer parking for about $5-7, but aren’t monitored by security, so park there at your own risk.

Food and Drink: Musikfest has a ton of food and drink tents that operate with a ticket system. Northside vendors are strictly ticket-only, while Southside vendors accept both tickets and cash. There are multiple tents that sell tickets all over, right alongside the food and beer tents. Ticket tents accept cash and credit/debit cards for convenience (Buy more than you think you’ll need, trust me on this). There are plenty of businesses on Main Street that sell food and drinks without tickets, but that money doesn’t go to fund Musikfest. Plus why would you go into the heart ‘Fest and eat at Mama Nina’s instead of Take a Taco?

 reactions wtf britney spears confused huh GIF
I mean, no shade on Mama Nina’s but they’re open year ’round. Musikfest is only here for ten days. GET THE TACO. Or the gyro. Or any other of the dozens of different delicious delicacies available.

Many businesses offer mug refills at a reduced rate; this is an option to consider if you’re planning on doing any serious drinking at ‘Fest. (Make sure you have a DD, please. Or snag an Uber home.) If you’re good with drinking Miller Light, Yuengling or Coors, most businesses on Broad will fill your mug on the cheap; Musikfest charges at least 7-8$. Some places offer craft and local brews; you can obviously expect to pay a little more for that quality of beverage where available. Side note: Your mug holds non-alcoholic beverages just as well. A little cold water to stay hydrated wouldn’t hurt.

My Food Picks: You can never go wrong with Take a Taco, Pretzel Revolution, Hogar Crea Shish Kabobs, Aw Shucks corn, and Island Noodles. A giant ice cream sandwich from Bethlehem Dairy Store (AKA The Cup) is always a good idea. There are a few new vendors this year that I’m looking forward to scoping out, but I’ll let The El Vee tell you about them (He’s done more research, trust me). On a really hot day a frozen tropical smoothie is a great idea too (and if your mug happens to have rum in it when you get the smoothie? BONUS.).

Have Fun. Don’t Be A Jerk. Yes, there’s booze aplenty. Yes, there’s a ton of people, and yes, it’s really freaking hot. It’s no excuse to act like an ass and get yourself in trouble with the local law enforcement. Have fun, get crazy, but be respectful of the town and other ‘Fest-goers. Also, yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s stupid crowded. Yes, it used to be cheaper. And YES, the mugs used to hold more beer. Times change, prices change. There’s nothing we can do about it, so just enjoy while you can. Musikfest only happens once a year, there’s no sense in being miserable about it.

 

See you at ‘Fest!

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Weekend Off!

This past weekend was pretty great.

Let’s back up to the part where I actually get weekends off now. I don’t think I mentioned that my hours at Job Number Two finally changed — I was offered the chance to work weekend day shifts instead of the awful night shifts I had been doing — and I jumped at it. I offered to take every other weekend, Saturday and Sunday 7am-7pm. Which means every other weekend off.

Every. Other Weekend. Off. Kind of a big deal for me, honestly.

It also means working four to six shifts a month instead of two or three, and the added day shift crap that you have to deal with at a hospital, but more shifts also = more money, so we deal with the day shift crap, and did I mention every other weekend off?

Yeah. I’ve been pretty happy with this development.

However, much like when I was working three Saturday nights a month, I still have the tendency to fill these weekends off with all! The! Things!

Which brings us back to this past weekend. From the time I clocked out at the office Friday at 5pm until I went to bed Sunday night I was going, going, going. I had a blast all weekend but man, was I exhausted.

Saturday morning started bright and early, with a little house cleaning and food prep. I was having guests for dinner after an afternoon out so I wanted something that would take minimal effort once we got back to the house. Crockpot shredded chicken tacos fit the bill nicely. Still working on the recipe for those, by the way. A little bland for my tastes right now, when I figure them out I’ll be sure to post.

The afternoon was spent in retro dresses looking at classic cars in Macungie at Das Awkscht Fescht.

Cutest dress ever, yeah? Thanks, ModCloth! I enjoyed seeing all the different cars, too. I’m not the biggest car person, but classic cars are always fun.

After car-hopping (ha), we came back to the house to hang out a bit and enjoy the air conditioning, ate tacos and funfetti cake, and watched a little RuPaul’s Drag Race. Then I mowed the lawn at 8:30 at night because my dad was coming early the next morning and lord knows he would have had a conniption at the state of it, and fell asleep almost immediately after.

On Sunday Pops picked me up around 10 (see? good thing I mowed that lawn!) and we drove down to Philadelphia for some baseball. I bought the tickets as a Father’s Day gift and I’m almost glad the Phillies are having a terrible year because our seats were awesome.

Hashtag no zoom.

Before the game, we split a cheesesteak and some ice cream, walked around the park a couple times, and got to see Pat Burrell from about 40 feet away.

Hashtag yummy.

And during the game? We sweated our butts off. Hot as blazes, and since our seats were so close, we were in the sun all day.

But all the stretching during warm ups was worth it.

This guy.

And this guy. ❤

The Phillies lost to the Braves, unfortunately – they had won the first few games of the series but couldn’t pull out the sweep. After the long drive home and making sure my work clothes for the week were laundered, I collapsed into bed, exhausted but happy after one of my best, busiest weekends in a long time. I do have to work this weekend of course, but next week I’m off for seven entire days. I wonder what I could POSSIBLY do with all that time? 

“So, Like…What Do You Actually *Eat*?”

If you only knew how often I’ve been asked that question since having my surgery last year. And the answer is, honestly, anything I want. Within reason of course. I try to focus on protein and healthier options, obviously, but there have been days where I’ve…made less than stellar choices. I have binged on snacks, both salty and sweet, and there was that one time I was leaving Job 1, headed to Job 2 and *needed* a quick lunch so I said to hell with it and got a double cheeseburger, and boy howdy, did I pay the price. Dearly.

I’ve decided to – occasionally – start sharing my daily intake, A sort of “Day in My Pouch” type of deal – should anyone who is considering having a VSG stumble upon this here blog and wonder exactly how much and what type of food someone a year out of surgery can eat – well, here you go.

Coffee, 7:15 am: I was scheduled at our new scanner in the Allentown office today, so I brought my coffee from home instead of making it at work. One coffee, three Splendas, fat free half and half (Yes, I KNOW. Save the lecture, naturalists. I like it.) Pre-surgery I was a two or three cup a day person, but now a second cup is rare for me – maybe on Mondays, or I’ll have a cup of this chai tea in the afternoon if I want to warm up. I stick with water all day (I shoot for 8-9 glasses, but it doesn’t always happen), and will have the occasional diet iced tea at home.

Breakfast, 9:45 am:

1/2 cup Fage 0% fat greek yogurt, 1/4 cup Bear Naked Honey Almond Protein Granola

Greek yogurt is my usual breakfast. On my days off I’ll do scrambled eggs and candian bacon. Yogurt is much easier for work days, especially if I do a little food prep on Sundays – then it’s just grab and go in the morning. On work days I tend to eat breakfast late, even though I’m not “supposed” to. I find myself more snacky in the afternoon at work, so lately I’ve been saving my snacks for between lunch and dinner, lest I go trolling for mozzarella sticks from the hospital kitchen at 4 in the afternoon.

I’ve learned that my stomach can’t tolerate some foods as well as it used to, and since those foods are the majority of what I’m not “supposed” to be eating anyway, it’s easier just to cut them out of my life entirely. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t still bake. I do. I made cookies and macarons aplenty this past holiday season, and I’ll be damned if anyone else is going to make birthday cupcakes for my coworkers. Do I still partake of these goodies? Of course. Just much much less than I used to. If I bake a batch of cupcakes, I’ll have one. I log it in MyFitnessPal that day, and I’ll try to atone for it the rest of the week.

Lunch, 12 pm:

1 Arrow Everything Flatbread with 2 oz. Wegmans Honey Roasted Turkey and 1/2 oz. Adams Reserve White Cheddar Cheese and dijon mustard, 1 oz. Good Health Veggie Stix snacks (from the vending machine at work). 

These flatbreads are good but I’m rethinking using them regularly – I might switch it up and do lettuce wraps for lunch instead of sandwiches. I don’t usually do snacks with lunch but I was craving something crunchy today. I could have stopped after half the bag, however – I was pretty full after this. Another thing I’m still actively learning – head hunger vs. actual hunger, or Just Because It’s There Doesn’t Mean You Need To Eat It. Jennifer.

I’ve struggled, absolutely. I’m in the midst of a plateau I’ve been experiencing since mid-January. Am I giving up? Absolutely not. I’m re-evaluating my habits, making meal plans, making sure I get my water and exercise (even just a little) in, and I. Keep. Going. I did not go through this surgery to lose 90 pounds and stop. I’m not getting complacent. Complacency is what got me where I was in the first place.

Snack 1, 2:30 pm:

 Blue Diamond Toasted Coconut Oven Roasted Almonds, 28 pieces. 

Almonds are another go-to for me, especially the different flavored ones that are available now. These are super tasty.  

Snack 2, 5:15 pm: 

1 Bartlett pear, 1 Cabot Seriously Sharp white cheddar cheese stick. 

This was a little late for my second snack due to a shit storm at work, but I think in the future I might try to keep it as such, so I’m not wolfing down dinner as soon as I walk through the door — which usually results in me snacking the rest of the night away at home.

Dinner, 7:45 pm: 

1/2 cup homemade turkey chili with fixings.  A little heavier than my other meals, but it’s rich and satisfying, perfect for the cold and snowy week we’ve been having. I had been craving chili for a while so I made a pot on Sunday and it should last me through Saturday. And yes, that is full fat sour cream and shredded cheese. Since I’m only using a little I figured the splurge was worth it.

Snack 3, 9:30 pm: 

Dole dark chocolate banana Dippers, 1 pack. These were a welcome discovery at my local BJ’s – just that perfect sweet little bite before bed.

I’m usually in bed by 10, so this will be the last thing I eat tonight. Late night mindless eating is definitely a problem for me – especially the Saturday nights I work at Job 2. I’ll buy one or two healthy snacks at the local Wawa before I go in and I try not to keep cash on me so I don’t hit the vending machines. Drinking a lot of water helps, too.

So there you have it. A day in the life of my surgically-altered tummy. Next week? Who knows, maybe I’ll show you how I put on my socks. You should be so lucky.

Eccentric Feline Female.

It’s been a couple months since I’ve posted, again. I blame myself.

The holidays came and went. I spent time with family and friends. I cooked and baked and partied and celebrated and I am ridiculously glad they’re over. Holidays are fun and all but they’re also exhausting as shit.

Having two cats in the house with a Christmas tree and all my other decorations was a real experience. The first night was an experiment in “What the hell is rolling around on the floor NOW?”, followed quickly by “Cats stay in the basement whenever mom’s not home or asleep,” so that was a trial. I felt bad for doing it but I ultimately slept better knowing things weren’t being knocked over and batted around the living room. Besides, it was only for three weeks. I took all my decorations down New Year’s Day, mostly because I was tired of looking at everything and the tree was dropping needles every time I breathed near it, but also because I was missing my morning snuggles with the boys.

Ugh, I’ve become one of those cat people. How did this happen??

Oh, right.

In Case You Missed Me.

The past few months have gone by in such a blur I don’t even know where to start. Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first.

I definitely worked too much. Between extended hours at Job One and almost every Saturday night shift at Job Two, I hardly had any time to myself from June til September. The extended hour deal at Job One is over but I’m pretty much stuck with the Saturday night thing at Job Two for the foreseeable future, should I want to continue earning that lovely second paycheck. I’ve resigned myself to it, honestly. I do give myself one weekend a month off (sometimes two, depending), but those weekends are usually crammed full of so much awesome I barely have time to breathe. I don’t nearly see my parents as much as I should, and it’s a damn shame, considering all my mom’s health issues this year. They’ve done so much for me I wish I could reciprocate and help them out too. I visit when I’m able and run errands (mostly picking up prescriptions and the like), but it still seems like so little to me.

Daughter guilt is a sonofabitch, I tell you.

Anyway, the Saturday night shifts aren’t always bad. Some nights can be rougher than others, but I don’t exactly work at a Level One Trauma Center, so there is some down time. I leave Sunday mornings, go to Wegmans and get my weekly groceries, go home and nap, and it’s all good. Mondays I might be a little tired and draggy but that’s a price I’m willing to pay for per diem rate work.

Onto more fun news:

I won a trip! Well, okay, not a trip, but I did win a free flight. Round trip, domestic flight from Jet Blue, all thanks to Birchbox. I have until July 2015 to use it. I’m thinking about San Francisco and wine country, probably mid to late spring, depending on the blackout dates and cost. If California doesn’t work out I might just do a few days in New Orleans instead, but no worries, mom, I won’t be trolling for beads.

I became a drag queen fan girl. It all started with this year’s season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’d watched the show in the past, but always forgot when it aired so I missed the past couple of seasons. My friend Sara mentioned that this season would be featuring a queen who was called “The Don Rickles of Drag” and I should check her out. I can safely say it wasn’t even ten minutes into the first episode and I was in love with Miss Bianca Del Rio. So glamorous (obviously), so hilarious, and so super sweet in person.

Because, yes, I’ve met her. Twice!

My queen.

That photo was taken after her appearance at Lehigh Valley Pride Fest in August and is probably one of the best photos taken of me in my lifetime. It’s a shame the quality is so poor.

I also met another RuPaul season six alum, Miss Congeniality herself, Ben DeLaCreme.

Me and the fabulous Ben DeLaCreme!

An absolute treasure. Also, hello, there’s my bad side.

I have plans with Sara to see Bianca again later this month in New York, for the first show of her Rolodex of Hate stand up tour. We might have VIP meet and greet passes for that one, I’ll never tell.

I embraced the fact that I need physical activity in my life. Ever since my surgery in January, I knew it was coming. The day I’d have to suck it up and start exercising. I joined the gym all the way back in March but after one or two trips where I felt awkward and out of place I sort of avoided going. My weight was still coming off at a good rate so I talked myself out of not going back. After a few more months, however, it became increasingly obvious that something more was going to have to be done on my part. I started slowly, just walking at my local park a couple times a week. However, in August and September a few times a week turned into a few times a month and I actually saw a one or two pound gain the week of my birthday. Damn it, Cake. Damn it all to hell.

So with a renewed purpose I started walking more and more. Not just at the park, but around the neighborhood too. And when the temperatures started dropping in October I finally dragged my ass back to the gym that I’ve been paying ten bucks a month for. It’s not so bad anymore. I go two or three times a week, hit the treadmill, the bike, or the elliptical, work on my legs or arms, and I’m out in an hour. I can deal with that. Oh, and as of October I’ve lost 85 pounds.

I can definitely deal with that. I’ll talk more about my experiences and struggles post-surgery another time. This late summer/early fall recap has gone on long enough. But not before I tell you the biggest news of all!

I’ve become a mama again. Let me introduce you to the Winchester Brothers, aka Sam and Dean.

They have legs, I swear.

Yes, I decided my house had been too quiet for too long and jumped back into pet ownership. As much as I wanted a dog in my life, however, my schedule just would not allow it, so I went with a more low-maintenance option. I get all the snuggles, and I don’t have to worry about getting home at a certain time. Plus…

Snuggle time.

I mean…

COME ON, WITH THE CUTE.

So, there you have it. I think I kept the bitching the a minimum, right? Maybe next time.

Busy Bee Has a Numbered List.

Because talking about my life in a fluid and comprehensive manner is for professional bloggers, and I am not that.

1. I finally re-took and passed my Cat Scan board exam. I’m “officially” a licensed CT tech, hooray! This means I was able to go back to work in the CT department at job number two, which means I’m working more, which means more money, which means yay! Because my car is on its last legs, my kitchen floor needs to be redone, and I needs to get the hell out of town this summer, even just for a weekend.

2. Momma C had back surgery in February, and is healing nicely. Unfortunately, she’s got some other health issues going on, so we’re trying to deal with them as best we can. My poor momma has been through the wringer this year! (Good thoughts appreciated, y’all.)

3. I’m doing wonderfully after my own surgery – I’m 12 weeks out this Friday, and I’ve lost just over 50 lbs. I cannot put into words how much happier I am, how much this has affected me. It’s literally a weight lifted off my life. I was talking with a coworker I hadn’t seen since before the surgery, and she said I looked like I was “all lit up inside”, and it certainly feels like it. I still have a long way to go but every day just gets better and better. I’m not tired any more, my body doesn’t ache like it did, and I just feel better. As far as what I’m eating, I’m pretty much back to “normal”, diet wise. I’m obviously sticking with good-for-you kind of foods, and I still don’t get much in after my protein, but I have partaken of the occasional treat here and there. (I’m not a saint, for crying out loud.) The only thing I’m still trying to work on is the whole exercise thing. It’s more a matter of just getting off my ass and doing something, but you know what they say about first steps and all.

4. Hoping to start posting recipes again, real soon. I have a few from the fall that are collecting dust, and now that I’m eating more solid foods (and spring is here – hooray, fresh veggies!), I’m slowly getting back into my kitchen. Which makes me happy, because I’ve missed it so.

That’s it for me today, kids. Have a great week!