Posted in daily, life, Local Flavor, parties and celebrations

Harvest Fest 2013: Brunch and More

I’m a bit behind in talking about this year’s Harvest Fest. Heck, I’m behind in talking about anything at ALL, I’ve been focused on stuff around the house and work and…other things I’ll talk about when I’m ready to. But anyway, Harvest Fest, aka The Best Fest in Bethlehem, Ever. I don’t know if it’s the smaller size, the smaller crowds, or the cooler weather, but Harvest Fest is definitely my favorite of all the events thrown by downtown Bethlehem. Oh, there’s also all the beer and tasty tasty soups.

But first, we brunched. We brunched our butts off.

I invited the usual suspects over for some pumpkin pancakes, bacon, and breakfast sausage.

I also had a few leftover pumpkin whoopie pies on hand, and of course some fresh fruit. It’s not brunch without a gigantic plate of fruit. I served strawberries, fresh pineapple, and a favorite this time of year – concord grapes. They taste like jelly!

For the pancakes, I used my regular recipe (minus the blueberries there, of course), and just added a cup of pureed pumpkin, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and some fresh ground nutmeg.

They’re a bit more moist than the plain pancakes, so give them another minute or so on the griddle before serving. To go with these pancakes, I had some spiked maple syrup that would make Mrs. Butterworth blush.

Just warm up the syrup (real maple syrup, not pancake syrup) in the microwave for a few seconds, stir in an ounce of good bourbon, and about a half teaspoon of vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract, if you can’t acquire it), and you’re in pancake heaven. Serve with your favorite breakfast meat and your friends may never want to leave.

It tastes better than it photographs, trust me.

And thankfully, we had a whole day at Harvest Fest to walk those pancakes off.

It was a great day, spent with some of my very favorite people. (For a more in depth write up, including all the skinny on some of the great beers that were served, try this write up by The El Vee.) At the end of the day, a few of us decided to sit down for a drink and a bite to eat at one of downtown Bethlehem’s newest restaurants, The Twisted Olive. We sat outside and ordered some appetizers and a few cocktails. I had the Forty-Niner, a tasty bourbon drink with honey and lavender, the aranchini (cheese filled risotto balls, breaded and fried? What’s not to love?), and one of the most interesting appetizers I’ve ever had, french onion soup dumplings. Caramelized, beefy onions, wrapped in a dumpling wrapper, topped with a crispy crouton and melted cheese. On. A. Stick.

And these are just appetizers. I’m coming back for that cioppino that I spied on the menu, dudes. Mark my words.

 

Hopefully before Harvest Fest 2014.

Posted in blogging, daily, life, pop culture musings, twitter

“What Do You Mean, You’re Not on Facebook Anymore?”

About two months ago, I was sitting at home scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I just thought, “Ugh. I hate this. Why am I here?” I clicked off the page, started looking at something else, and not five minutes later found myself back on Facebook, looking at the same crap I had just looked at (and chided myself for doing so) again. That’s when it hit me: I’m kind of over Facebook. Like, totally. Over it. All of it –  the fake bragging. The passive aggressive posts. The potty training updates. The rage-inducing politics. The duck-faced selfies. The “Doesn’t-This-Recipe-Look-Amazing-OMG” posts that TOTALLY BELONG ON PINTEREST HOLY CRAP PEOPLE GET YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRAIGHT BEFORE I SMACK YOU.

So I went to my settings page, I found the button that said ‘deactivate profile’, I took a deep breath, and I clicked it.

And I never looked back. And then I braced myself for the inquisition.

“Wait, you just deleted it? Just like that?”

No, I didn’t delete my profile. I deactivated it. It’s still there, somewhere, with all my pictures and oh-so-witty-status updates and such, it’s just not active. People that I was friends with on Facebook can no longer see me. If I choose to reactivate it at any time, all I have to do is log in, and I’ll show back up in everyone’s newsfeed again. (Shrewd, Zuckerberg). I don’t think I’ll ever delete the profile, I just won’t be active on Facebook for a while.

“Woah. But…why? What made you do it?”

Eh, I realized I was spending too much time on a site that just truly annoyed me more than anything, and WHY would anyone do that to themselves? There’s more to it than that, but it’s a little personal and I don’t want to get into it here.

“Oh. Was it me? Did I post something that annoyed you?”

No. Absolutely not. It wasn’t any one thing that made me do it, just a myriad of annoyances.

“Well, you know you *can* block people from your feed, and block certain people from seeing everything you post…”

Yes, I do know this. I have taken advantage of those functions on more than one occasion, believe me. But like I said, it wasn’t just one post, or one person. It was the whole experience. Plus I’m really not a fan of how integrated Facebook has gotten into everyday life. There’s just SOME things I shouldn’t need to “Connect to Facebook” for. Believe me, no one on Facebook cares what I’m buying from Old Navy, or what I’m looking at on BuzzFeed.

“You’re much stronger than me! Have you ‘cheated’ at all?”

Twice. Once about a week or so after I deactivated the account, to see if Facebook wasn’t as annoying as I thought it was and if I made too hasty of a decision (nope, still annoying). The second was about two weeks ago, I wanted an old picture that was on there. I still didn’t miss it.

“Do you think you’ll come back?”

Some day, probably. Maybe around the holidays. Maybe sometime next year. I’m not sure. I am sure, however, that I’ll do it differently next time around. Less lingering, less profile creeping, less…everything. I needed to go cold turkey first, then I can think about occasional use.

“Okay. But I miss you.”

And I miss you, too! I know not everyone posts everything everywhere and I know I miss stuff and I’m sorry. I’m hoping in the long run this will only serve to make my real life interactions with friends more meaningful. It’s not like I’ve deleted myself from the internet. You can follow me on Twitter and tumblr and my Pinterest is kind of amazing, not gonna lie. Plus there’s  my blog and Flickr and Instagram and I’m still on Google+!

“Wait, Google+? What’s THAT??” 

Um…

Posted in life, Local Flavor, parties and celebrations, Uncategorized

The Ridiculously Long Rest-Of-My-Summer Recap, or: Shit, I Forgot I Had A Blog.

So I seem to have fallen off a bit, haven’t I? Just your luck I’ve decided to do a quick(ish) (though probably not really, it is me we’re talking about here) recap on the rest of my summer. It all went pretty nicely until one sucky week in August. But I’ll get to that in a while.

Firstly: High Tea with my favorite ladies at Jessica’s Tea Room

A group of my nearest and dearest and I were trying to come up with a way to celebrate my friend Vanessa’s graduation from one school and acceptance (including a full scholarship, thank you very much) to another. I got the idea from a coworker to take her to Jessica’s Tea Room at the Weaversville Inn. It just seemed so fun and out of the ordinary, and Vanessa just happens to love a nice cup of tea. Perfect! We all got dressed up very fancily and surprised her with high tea on a gorgeous Saturday in June. The food was delicious, the tea was refreshing, the service was outstanding, and the company, as always, was the best ever.

Of course when we got there, we had iPhones at the ready. Because why do something if you’re not going to Instagram it immediately?

We all opted for High Tea service, which included a pot of tea (duh) for each (hot or iced), scones and banana bread, soup or small salad, choice of two finger sandwiches, entree, and dessert.

The finger sandwiches weren’t quite what we expected and were the one dull spot in an otherwise fantastic meal. A little too heavy, a little too much bread.

I opted for the turkey, bacon, and cheddar puff pastry blossom for my entree. It was simple yet delicious, and I’m going to be copying this at home very soon.

Grilled chicken salad with apples and dried cranberries.

Of course I have no shots of our actual tea. However! There were a variety of mini desserts offered to finish our meal, of which we each were able to choose two.

 

The desserts obviously are not made in house but the rest of the menu is, and the service and experience alone were enough for me to overlook a couple frozen mini eclairs. If you’re in the mood for something fun or different to do in the Valley, or even if you’re just feeling a little fancy, I highly recommend checking them out.

Secondly: Five Courses/Five Chefs Benefit for the Southside Bethlehem Film Festival

A friend is on the board of directors for the Southside Bethlehem Film Festival, and they scored a major benefit this year with a five course meal prepared by five different Lehigh Valley chefs, all hosted at Molinari’s on South 3rd Street. When I saw the list of chefs I jumped at the chance to go and was not disappointed.

Fist things first, however: LOOK AT MY PRETTY DRESS. LOOK AT IT.

Ahem. Would it kill you to smile, Jenn?

(Apologies for the following few pictures, all I had on me for the dinner was my iPhone, and by the end of the meal, the light was nonexistent.)

First course was foie gras (there’s always foie at these things, isn’t there?) with banana bread and some sort of fruit gastrique, by Tim Wildrick from Edge Restaurant.

I’m not the biggest fan of foie on its own, it’s a little too rich and fatty for me. Combined with the other elements of the dish, however, this was pretty tasty.

Our soup course was a work of art. Tortellini with morels and proscuitto, with the broth poured over it separately. This is a trick you’d usually see at Bolete, but this night was done by Chef Mike Joyce of Molinari’s.

 

I don’t remember everything that was in it, but I do remember it was delightful. (Have you gone to Molinari’s yet? You really should.)

Next up, the most perfectly cooked scallop I’ve ever had over heirloom risotto with a pea puree, all by Chef Lee Chizmar of Bolete.

Chef Chizmar is a fricking genius, by the way.  You should head to Bolete, too, while you’re at it. Their tavern menu alone is outstanding.

On to the meat. Mmm, beef. Chef Domenic Lombardo from The Mint on West Broad knows his way around a steak.

That dry aged beef was outstanding. I’ve been lukewarm on The Mint in the past but I do believe this dish earned them a mulligan.

And finally…oh, my babies. Brace yourselves for this. This masterpiece of a dessert, by Alan Pitotti at Dolce Patisserie in Hellertown. Yes. Hellertown.

I remember lemon mousse. The fluffiest, most delicate lemon mousse. Tartly flavored, but not overly so. A strawberry sauce. And – on the right side of the plate – a chocolate pesto. I don’t know how he did it, I don’t understand how it all worked, but I’ll be damned if that wasn’t the most original, most outstanding dessert I’ve ever had. All of this food, of course, was accompanied by fantastic wines hand-picked by South Italy Imports. This meal was the single most amazing gastronomic experience of my life. Kudos to the Southside Bethlehem Film Festival for putting it all together, and thank you, thank you, thank you, to all the chefs who participated. It was a meal I won’t forget.

Thirdly: Haley’s High School Graduation

It’s really hard to think about the fact that it was just a little over 19 years ago that my baby cousin came into this world. She’s turned into an intelligent, strong willed, beautiful young woman and it’s been an absolute delight to watch her grow up. We’re all so proud of her and her accomplishments over the years.

Way to go, kid. I love ya.

Fourthly: Color Me Rad 5K and Musikfest 2013

In early August I volunteered to throw orange-tinted corn starch at people during the Musikfest Color Me Rad 5K. It was a fun, if exhausting, experience, even in the rain. However, given the crappy weather, the slippery, uneven ground conditions, and a shitty pair of sneakers, my ankle was not happy with me by the end of the morning. I could barely walk the rest of the day, which put the kibosh on my Musikfest plans for that evening.

As a matter of fact, pretty much ALL of Musikfest 2013 was shot to hell for me, between my inability to walk the first weekend and the worst summer cold ever during the week. I was able sneak over on the second Saturday for about 90 minutes before I started wheezing in the heat and humidity.

Ah, well. I got my Take-A-Taco, and that’s all that matters.

This made me so happy it was a little embarrassing. 

Fifthly: Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z Legends of Summer Tour at Hershey Park

When I heard that JT and Hova were going on tour together I knew I needed to see them, no matter where or how much it would cost. As luck would have it, the tour had a random stop in Hershey, PA, and I got my hands on a couple of pre-sale tickets. Great seats, great show, amazing night. Justin is a wonderful entertainer, and Jay-Z is just incredible live. I’m so very glad I got to catch this tour.

You get that sexy on, JT.

Sixthly: I have a new boyfriend, and his name is Gabriel.

Look what my friends Susan and Danny made!

Snuggly new babies are the best.

And, finally, the last part of my summer was also the best part. I always consider the weekend which I celebrate my birthday to be the “end” of summer. This past weekend I turned 38, and I was able to spend time with all of my favorite people during it.

There is always Hello Kitty when I have a birthday. 

Yes, I made my own red velvet cake for my birthday. You would too, for this cake. 

It started with burgers, beers, and birthday cake with friends on Friday night. I had to work a bit on Saturday morning, but I got to see my bestie the few hours I was there.

Saturday night I hit the casino to see Russell Brand on his Messiah Complex tour, and it was ‘unbelievably satisfying’. I even got close enough for a few good pictures.

Sigh.

Follow all this up with dinner and mini-golf with mom and dad on Sunday and I was a happy girl this weekend.

Have I mentioned how freaking much I love this dress?

He cheats. 

Looking back, I had a pretty great summer. There were definitely more good times than bad, and that’s all we can really ask for.

Plus I got a tiara, and who doesn’t need a tiara, really?

Posted in life, Uncategorized

Getting Back On The Horse (Now With More Parentheticals!)

For the past two years, it’s been almost impossible for me to put a half decent blog post together, mainly owing to the fact that the only functioning computer I had at my disposal was a teeny little Acer net book. I love that little thing. I take it everywhere. It’s perfectly fine for emails, shopping, watching netflix, updating facebook or Twitter, but when it came time to upload pictures and attach them to posts and, indeed, write at all…suffice to say it was less than desirable.

I’ve been saving up for a new computer for a while, and I knew for sure that I would be going Mac with my next purchase. (Yes, I worship at the altar of Steve Jobs. I’m a fangirl. I drink the Kool-Aid. Whatever, they’re prettttyyyy. And they’re amazing machines, so. Hush.) I just wasn’t sure if I was going desktop or laptop, Air or Pro, 21.5 in or 27 in., et cetera and so forth. Finally the other weekend I had had enough. I was attempting to study for my Cat Scan registry exam on the net book, and it was. Not. Going. Well. (Neither did the exam, but I can retest in a month or so. Serves me right for only studying from one review book.)

So I logged onto the Apple store, logged onto my bank account to make sure the cash was there, and finally, FINALLY, pulled the trigger. And today, a brand new (to me) refurbished 21.5 in iMac is sitting on my kitchen table, and I could not be happier if I was being hand fed grapes and cheese by Bradley Cooper while Alexander Skarsgard played with my hair and scratched my back.

Image

I mean, COME ON.

So with this new development I’m hoping to start posting more. I’ve got a few recipe posts I’m working on, and some other things to share. If I can stop staring at the computer long enough to write about them, that is.

Posted in daily, life

12 Awesome Things I Loved About 2012

1. Pinterest, and the delicious things that come from it.

2. The Artsquest center at Steelstacks. I finally got to go there for a few shows and movies this year, and am planning to go again this year. Often.

3. Discovering the whoopie pie. Yum.

4. More good times with great friends than I can count. Namely, Oscar parties, cookouts, conversations by fire pit, alcoholic Facetime, Cards Against Humanity, and so much more.

5. Getting paid (a little) for doing something I love. I have no grand aspirations for the future when it comes to a pastry career, but it’s fun to think about.

6. Continuing to work with people whom I adore and that make me look forward to going to the office every day.

7.The Avengers, James Bond, Katniss Everdeen, Merida, and Fat Amy.

8. Hearing my best friend’s little one call me “Aunt Jenny” for the first time.

9. Letting go of someone something that I didn’t realize I was still holding onto without being bitter about it.

10. Working hard.

11. Playing harder.

12. Knowing that it only gets better from here.

Happy New Year, kids. Make it incredible.

Posted in daily, life, meme-tastic

2012 Is On Notice

Day 22 of the 31 Day Blogging Challenge, The Best Thing To Happen This Year

Considering we’re only about 5 months into 2012, there hasn’t been a lot going on for me to say “Holy crap that was the BEST thing to happen this year!”, and honestly, there’s hasn’t been a whole lot of good so far. Some unforeseen bills, a (recently) broken washing machine, and some family health issues and drama have started this year on a bit of a sour note.

However, back in January I had my first evaluation at work since the practice joined with the new company and it went really well. So well in fact that I got a 3% raise, my first in six years. It’s not a huge difference in my paychecks, and honestly it’s all pretty much going into my 401(K),  but it’s something.

I’ll take it.

Posted in daily, la familia, life, meme-tastic, who needs a psychiatrist?

Day 20, A Bit Late: A Difficult Time In My Life

I don’t talk about it a lot. I don’t like to talk about it, at all. Mostly because it’s embarrassing and honestly, it’s something I keep private, because it’s really nobody’s business. I don’t need to feel judged about what I’ve done or how I got through it, not when I’m already ashamed of it. A few years ago, I found myself in major financial trouble. I was spending too much and making too little and we all know that’s a very dangerous combination. It got to the point of…well, I’d rather not say, but I was lucky to have parents that were able and kind enough to help me instead of letting me fall into an even deeper hole that there was no way out of. I owe them literally everything, and I will always be grateful to them for having the will and compassion to help and forgive me.

I learned so much from that experience, and I’m bound and determined to not let it happen again. I budget my money, and I started a second job a little over a year ago to have some extra spending money (and to bulk up my savings!). I still shop on occasion, but only if my budget allows, and I have vowed to never get a credit card again.

Unless my ridiculously rich (and handsome and well hung funny!) future husband says it’s okay.

Join in at the 31 Day Blogging Challenge!

Posted in daily, life, meme-tastic

31 Day Blogging Challenge, #17. On the 21st. Because I’m A Slacker.

I consider myself a fairly humble person. I don’t like to brag a lot, and if I do, I’m usually joking. When people compliment me, I usually shrug it off as “no big deal”, so when I’m tasked to talk about what in my life I’m most proud of, I have a hard time pinpointing it.

Buying a house? Maybe. I was more happy and nervous and scared it would all go wrong.

Graduating from college, finally? More relieved than proud, then.

Getting compliments on my baking/cooking? Yeah, I guess…but that’s something I just enjoy doing, so I don’t think much of it.

Honestly, I have to say (and don’t laugh, because you’ll hurt my very delicate feelings) that graduating from high school was the proudest moment of my life, so far. I liked high school okay, but it was by no means the greatest time of my life, and sometimes I struggled, both academically and socially. So finally graduating, getting that diploma and getting the hell out of there? Yeah, I was proud of myself.

For surviving.

More catch up on the 31 Day Challenge tomorrow, because it’s bed time and my netbook battery is dying.

Posted in daily, life, meme-tastic

Also, Learn to Scuba Dive.

From Day 16 of the 31 Day Blog Challenge: What’s at the top of your bucket list?

Do I have a “Bucket List” or a Life List? I’m sure I do. I’m certain I at least started one last year, but hell if I know what I put on it. I should work on that, for sure. First item? “Write a Bucket List”.

I do know I’d like to travel, in and out of the country. I’d like to see the world and experience other cultures, as well as visit other areas of the States. I want to picnic on the grass in front of the Eiffel tower. I want beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans. I want to walk on the beach in Santorini and dance in the streets of Brazil. I want to tour vineyards in Napa Valley and castles in Scotland. The trip I most want to take, however, is to South Africa. I’d love to go on safari and swim in Devil’s Pool and then, without my mother knowing because she’d freak the hell out, I want to go cage diving with great white sharks. No, I’m not even kidding. I think it would be the most amazing, life-affirming experience ever. And I’m (hopefully) going to do it for my 40th birthday. It’s just around the corner, so I suppose I should start saving up. And get my passport.

Posted in daily, don't blog about work dumbass, life, meme-tastic

A Day in the Life

Day 15 of the 31 Day Blog Challenge, My Daily Routine

My daily routine is pretty normal; get up, get ready, go to work, come home, make dinner, watch TV, go to bed. There’s been a slight upheaval this week what with the whole no-working-washing-machine-in-the-house thing, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Here’s a rundown of what I did today.

6:00 AM: wake up, pee. (Sorry) I consider 6am “oversleeping”, because I always plan on getting up at 5 to pack my lunch and bust out 20-30 minutes on my recumbent bike, but sleep kind of wins. Every day.

6:05: iPhone time. Email, facebook, twitter, reader, instagram, pinterest.

6:30 (laaaaattteee): shower.

6:45 get dressed, brush teeth, put in contacts, brush hair.

7:00: run downstairs, put on shoes, throw whatever food I can into my lunch bag, and

7:10 drive to work

7:30 arrive at work, punch in, unlock office, turn on computers, run the daily QA on the scanner, put in the day’s MRI orders and type patients/information into the worklist, get all paperwork in order.

7:55 Get coffee, mix instant oatmeal.

8:00 Start morning patients, which are scheduled every hour on the hour. Have coffee, oatmeal, and banana while scanning first patient (shh.)

10:15: Second cup of coffee. Continue scanning. Get paperwork for tomorrow’s patients ready, checking for MRI clearance/previous studies/surgery.

12:05: Morning patients done. Greet the GE technician that came in to fix a small problem with the scanner.

12:15: lunch

12:45: prepare for afternoon patients, again every  hour on the hour, until the last one arrives (late) at 16:25.

17:25 Finish with last patient, scan billing sheets to the billing department, empty dirty linen, clean up scanning room, change out of work clothes, punch out at 17:40.

17:45: pull out of parking lot

18:05 Stop at a small grocery store for a head of lettuce

18:15: Stop at local laundromat, put two loads of clothes in to wash.

18:40: load wet clothes in car and head home

18:45 get home, unload car, take wet clothes downstairs and throw into dryer.

18:55: make dinner, which tonight consisted of a tossed salad with some leftover grilled chicken and a side of my favorite roasted broccoli.

19:25: Settle down on the couch to eat & watch some TV.

20:30 Bring dry clothes upstairs and fold

21:00 Finish watching Glee.

22:00: Start to clean up kitchen, get distracted and have a living room dance party (Damn you, Pandora)

23:20: Write this post

23:50 PJ’s. Bed. Sweet dreams, kittens.