“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.”
— Cheryl Strayed
Snag your print copy of Lehigh Valley Style magazine for my latest column with some unique gift ideas and back stories on three of the most creative locals I know:
Wendy Landiak of Shankara Vegan Restaurant, patron saint of LV vegan food since as long as I can remember! Learn about how she got started in cooking (she catered for Deepak Chopra!), the many incarnations of her eateries, and how to get hands-down the best brunch on earth right here in South Bethlehem;
Andy V. of Andy Vasquez Furniture, local skater/nice guy who makes the most jaw-dropping gorgeous handcrafted furniture and home accessories from wood. If you like midcentury modern, rustic chic, or kitchen cutting boards shaped like the state of Pennsylvania, he’s your guy;
Marissa Wetzel of Everlasting Image, miracle worker who uses photoshop to create beautiful portraits of babies who passed away before photos of them without medical tubes and wires were ever taken. I was in awe the first time I saw her work
PLUS! A vegan recipe created just for LV Style readers.
My column “Fresh Perspectives with Jaime K” is a bi-monthly column where I get to personally choose to shine the spotlight on creatives, small business owners, unique shops, community builders, and the best vegan eats in the Lehigh Valley, PA. If you know someone who would make a great fit, I’d love to hear about them.
When Sarah Von Bargen reached out to see if I’d be interested in participating in her series Notes To My Younger Self in which bloggers give themselves advice, I squealed loudly because 1) her blog Yes and Yes is one of the few I read every. single. day. and, 2) I think this concept is beautiful. It’s introspective, it’s insightful, I think it’s just as helpful to write this as it is to read it.
Notes to My Younger Self is part of Sarah’s “Post College Survival Kit” to help ladies fresh out of school learn some of the things we (individually and collectively) wish a best friend could have told us at that very awkward time. It’s a wonderful series which will be put together as an e-book, so keep checking for it on Yes and Yes to get your copy!
I’m incredibly honored to share with you:
The punk rock kids you meet in high school and college will not only turn out to be some of your best friends, they will show you things that become part of your life and part of you. Social awareness and activism are the foundation of your life’s purpose, crayon-colored hair comes back in your 30’s, and cut and paste ‘zines eventually become “blogs” and set you on the path for an unconventional career.
Tattoos will be embraced by beautiful feminine women with degrees from Ivy League schools, feminism is still very real and important and will be the lens through which you recognize and call out injustices, DIY is still a personal ethos - and - it’s own TV network. Setting up a punk show and cooking for touring bands will give you great experience when, years later, you help organize festivals with thousands of attendees and give public cooking demos to college students. Keep paying attention.
You are a kind and optimistic person. Some people will see this as: weakness, flakiness, naivety. Some will mistake your sense of wonder for being out of touch with reality. Continue to be kind and optimistic because that’s who you are. You will apply for very real, very grown-up jobs, and those jobs will go to men who were louder, snarkier, schmoozier, and sometimes not very nice. Continue to be kind and optimistic because that’s who you are. Adults still bully other adults even when they are 30, 40, 50 years old. You will be the target of this bullying, from your appearance to your lifestyle to personal projects. Continue to be kind and optimistic because that’s who you are.
You want to live in a world of kindness, and joy, and love, and cooperation. Live these values (even when, especially when) it’s a challenge to do so. You are the creator of your experience. And your experiences influences others. Make it good. Make it authentic.
Listen. Listen to me. The world is still set up where women learn that how we look is our most important attribute. This notion is reinforced a million times a day through media, society, people we see in our daily lives. It’s no wonder you will spend countless years agonizing over the way you look and if it is “enough” (not knowing what that means). Ironically, to be concerned with your appearance is considered vain, so you shamefully hide the magnitude of how much this affects your daily life, even from your therapists.
And then you start to see the ways that, even as conscious adults, we perpetuate this messed up notion that outer beauty is equal to worth. You will listen to women standing in line at the grocery store, pointing at tabloid covers and remarking of the actress on the front, “She looks terrible, she gained so much weight and never should have cut her hair.” You notice the way other grown adult women insult your body when they are feeling insecure about themselves. You notice the way at a celebration someone will say, “I really shouldn’t eat that piece of cake, that is so bad, but maybe just one. Oh, I’m terrible.” You notice the way your friends try to console you when your ex has a new girlfriend by saying “Who cares? You are so much prettier”.
You recognize this and you begin to compassionately call people out to stop. To stop insulting others as if belittling them is a salve to heal their own heart. Stop making food and weight “good” or “bad”, as though either is a moral issue. Stop using guilt, and shame, and body-slander as a way to make small talk and connect to other women. Find friends who build women up, not tear them down.
Confidence is sexy, and this is true across all areas of life. It will shine through in your appearance, the way you walk into a room, the way you talk to people. No, you will never be taller than 5’3″ without the help of heels, and “tanning” is a foreign concept. But you will learn that pencil skirts were made for hips like yours, and strangers on the street will ask if they can touch your hair because they can’t believe it’s real. Life is better like this. But remember: None of this marks your value as a person.
Marriage. Kids. Home ownership. A 9-5 job with weekends off. It is implied (if not outright stated) that these are markers of success. Sometimes they happen in sequential order and sometimes people skip one altogether, but by and large, this is what we’re all apparently striving for.
So when you’re 30, and you’ve sold your condo and gone back to renting, and feel no rush to be engaged, and have a career of various talents patch-worked together to create an ever-evolving job (this is dubbed a “Portfolio Career” and it will change the way you think about work for the better) it will feel like a small loss when you don’t have all the milestone celebrations others have had. You will be jealous of your friends’ wedding gift registries because damn, you need a new microwave. You will empathize with this episode of Sex and the City. Find ways to celebrate what milestones you do have: the first time you see your new column in print, or the time you bravely and gracefully introduced yourself in real life to someone who trashed you online (boy, did they look embarrassed), or the time you cooked dinner for Joan Jett. These are important moments because YOU say they are. Celebrate accordingly!
It’s OK not to know if you want kids, or to firmly decide you don’t. The first time you become aware you GET to decide will be revelatory. And sometimes “success” means having a really hard year and just coming out the other side of it.
. . . .
Don’t forget to stay tuned for the free e-book: Post College Survival Kit
Tomorrow is the Fourth Annual Bethlehem Vegfest! and I am so thrilled for this year, it’s hard to put into words. We’ll have Gene Baur of Farm Sanctaury and Matt Frazier of NoMeatAthlete.com, a vegan ice cream truck, the ever-beloved Cinnamon Snail food truck, and about a hundred million other wonderful people, speakers, chefs, vendors, and more.
This is a video from 2013’s Vegfest:
- break, ’cause we need to eat-
So flag us down, be prepared for hugs, tell why you love being vegan or why you love Vegfest, and maybe you’ll make it into our next show!
I’ll also have a booth with Save the Kales! TEES and TOTE BAGS next to the RCN Cable booth. These are brand new and if you get ‘em at Vegfest you don’t have to pay for shipping when they go for sale online. More money for snacks! Cash + credit accepted.
Last info can be found on the Bethlehem Vegfest Facebook Page
What an honor to have been interviewed by the kind and creative Phoebe of Phoebe’s Pure Food blog, print magazine, and host of a podcast and web TV show! She’s one of those people who are so genuine and good, and somehow have more time than the rest of us to tackle a ton of create projects and do all of them alarmingly well.
As I said, she has a lot going on, so below you’ll find a two-part Youtube interview (which can also be consumed in audio form), and a podcast interview with Phoebe and guest host Nan from Chubby Pickle Farm.
Part One – We discuss: Starting before you’re ready. My transition to vegan eating. Another transition to HEALTHFUL vegan eating. Choosing a blog/business name. Being vegan + body image expectations.
Part Two – We discuss: In-fighting in the vegan community. Finding lessons when people get critical (and letting go of the jerky stuff). Worrying about projecting a false image of perfection. Vulnerability and Authenticity. Making food and information accessible. Healthy bodies AND minds.
“No one ever says, ‘You’re too fat to care about marriage equality!’, but for some reason people say ‘How can you be vegan and be fat?'”
You can listen to the 22-minute interview in audio RIGHT HERE.
Oh, this was fun. Just a few ladies chattin’ about food and small business, body image and bravery. Also, summer recipes, wiener dogs and must-have kitchen tools. (I get such good energy from talking to creative, positive people and this made me want to get a jumpstart on my own podcast!) Listen HERE or download in iTunes.
Visit Nan’s Facebook page
It’s so wonderful when we can support, encourage and uplift each other! I hope you’ll follow their journeys and maybe be inspired to take a leap of your own. Sincerest of thanks to Nan, and especially Phoebe. (Phoebe also gave me a gift of vegan cheesecake, and homemade lilac syrup and blackberry jam, so… Have I mentioned how much I love her?)
Disclaimer: Before we get into the best places to spend your food tickets at Musikfest 2014, I need to mention that this is meant to be helpful and fun. But PLEASE TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your food – it never hurts to double check if cheese comes on a sandwich, or if a sauce is dairy-based. If someone puts ranch dressing all over your portobello wrap, please don’t be a jerk and write me an angry email about how I’m misleading the masses and my work is a sham and I’m the World’s Worst Vegan (if you do, it will promptly be deleted). Okie dokie?
That said, if you have any tips about how to order something, or found food worth mentioning, please let me know! As of now I haven’t eaten everything listed and made notes where needed, but I’ll continue to update this post as I make my way through the end of the ‘Fest. Your help and info is appreciated.
Likewise, if you take any photos of your food, send them to me and I’ll post them! You can find me here:
*Twitter is best, and I’ll be using hashtag: #veganmusikfest
This list goes in geographical order, starting at the corner of Main + Broad Streets, down Main St., down the walkway behind the Hotel Bethlehem to the bottom (near Volksplatz), past Festplatz and Plaza Tropical (moving toward Sand Island), over the bridge to the Southside and following 1st Street to Steelstacks (Main Stage and Americaplatz). You can get a map here, or download the Musikfest app which is GREAT and very helpful.
This list focuses on the things I think are most worthy of your Musikfest tickets, and does not include items you can easily find all over the Fest, like french fries, slushies, fresh lemonade, portobello wraps, and grilled veggies in various forms (wraps, sandwiches).
STATIONS CAFE: Main Street next to the Brew Works – A small cart with handmade soft pretzels from their larger storefront (right behind the cart, which does offer vegan options on a regular basis). These may be the most delicious soft pretzels you’ll ever have, as they are made with coconut oil. Sometimes they have pretzels with fresh baked jalapeno slices on top. Carb heaven.
MEDITERRANEAN PLATTER STAND (?): Bottom of the hill near Volksplatz – Falafel, hummus, tabouleh, stuffed grape leaves, and variations of all of the above sold in pita sandwich or platter form. *Make sure stuffed grape leaves are without meat. Order without tzatziki sauce.
BEES KNEES GRILL: Bottom of the hill near Volkzplatz – OH MY GOSH! VEGAN GRILLED CHEESE. Hot sandwiches with fresh ingredients, including a TEMPEH + KIMCHI REUBEN with vegan cheese. Also vegan mozzarella, pesto, tempeh, arugula, avocado, & tomato on rye bread. They toast them using coconut oil instead of butter.
*Plus we want to give a big internet/real life hug to these folks who saw the need for more vegan options THANKS TO ALL OF US (high five!) and came up with awesome vegan versions of their sandwiches. Go here. Go here. Go here.
CACTUS BLUE MEXICAN: Near Volkzplatz – Their beans and rice are vegan, and they are happy to make vegan versions of burritos, tacos, salads, or chips + salsa and/or guac. The guacamole is DELICIOUS and you can score fresh chips + a huge pile of guac for $6/6tickets. They have “walking tacos” which are deconstructed tacos in a to-go container. Tasty and filling. Friendly locals. (Also a Southside location.)
ZUZU CONFECTIONERY: Near Volkzplatz - Gourmet popsicles that are vegan, nut, and soy free. Flavors include Pineapple Basil, Orange Coconut and Chocolate Sea Salt, among others. An upscale and more budget-friendly treat.
ISLAND NOODLES: Bottom of the hill behind Hotel Bethlehem – The ol’ standby. These are vegan soba noodles stir-fried in a huge wok with fresh veggies. The condiment table includes bottles of sriracha, so load up. (Also a Southside booth.)
SPIRAL FRIED POTATO, somewhere, not sure where: Erin sent us this picture of a whole potato cut into an edible slinky then fried and covered in spices. I’ll be on the lookout for this to find the location, but in the meantime, it exists!
CASA DE JORGE SALSA (“THE SALSA GUY”): In Handwerkplatz, the section for crafters and makers, behind the Hotel Bethlehem – Not a food vendor, per se, but George is a nice local guy and makes unique varieties of salsa. He was happy to tell me he stopped using honey and now uses agave for sweetener, so nearly all flavors are vegan. You can sample his salsas and buy several to take home. If you’re up for a challenge, try his infamous “Stupid Hot” salsa and he’ll take a picture of your face as you regret your decision and put it on the Facebook page. Bonus: say hello to CHLOE THE SALSA DOG!
BETHLEHEM DAIRY STORE: Near Plaza Tropical – A decent selection of locally made flavored ice. Imagine a cross between Rita’s water ice and sherbet. Nothing fancy, but it’s tasty and refreshing and a good option for kids.
Rodale’s Mack Truck Cafe: At Steelstacks at the Levitt Pavilion/Americaplatz - Organic + local, Rodale operates this space YEAR ROUND for Levitt Pavilion shows, and Musikfest. The best choices are the veggie wrap with tofu, and the handcut sweet potato fries.
*CACTUS BLUE and ISLAND NOODLES (see above) also have second locations at Steelstacks on the Southside.
. . . . .
Not part of Musikfest, but worth mentioning:
THE JOINT is a coffee shop on North Side, just off Main Street in the Sun Inn Courtyard/Leiderplatz, that serves great coffee and has almond milk and usually a vegan soup and/or sandwich of the day, like a tofu bahn mi or chickpea salad (info on Facebook). During Musikfest they are serving up roasted chickpeas, and tater tots with a bunch of locally-made hot sauces, $2/each. Great people, vegan-friendly, much love.
SHANKARA is an all-vegan organic juice bar and eatery on the Southside a few minute walk from Steelstacks if you’re in need of health-focused and always delicious fusion food. You can get fresh juices, intensely creative organic meals, and Sunday Brunch. If you’re having dinner, reservations are recommended. (Call or text: 484.330.6405) Always-updated info on the Shankara Facebook Page. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you order, it’ll be amazing.
Remember, I’d love to see your photos or hear your recommendations. I can update the list all week.
Happy Festing, eat well! xo Jaime K
First things first – this evening I’ll be roaming Bethlehem on foot, camera and notebook in tow, to document the Best Vegan Musikfest Foods of 2014. (It’s been three years since I last did that.) The food available for vegans has gotten better over the years, and tomorrow I’ll report back with with my top picks to help you navigate the other nine days of ‘Festing. Check back!
Last Friday I attended the opening reception of Bethlehem House Art Gallery (fancy schmancy!) and the wee hours of the night outside with a few friends sharing deep thoughts + experiences on gender identity (one of the most delicious topics), and Saturday was spent surrounded by healers, yoginis, and lots of delicious (as always) food from Shankara at the first Lehigh Valley Yoga Festival. That gave me the chance to run next door and pay a visit to Greenmouth Juice Cafe which is, really and truly, holy-moly-gorgeous and their drink and small food menu are mostly vegan. Go there. Go. Go!
Sunday was a day of new experiences that left me baptized by the Lehigh River. My friend won tickets to go whitewater rafting at Whitewater Challengers (via a contest held by Discover Lehigh Valley, thanks dudes!). It was a whole-day experience, and eight miles of river, two pb +j sandwiches, three hilarious river guides, and two harshly sunburned knees later, I returned home to sleep for a hundred years. The best part was tossing our bodies over the sides into the chilly river, floating feet first, and looking up to see these places that have been my home and my personal geography for thirty years from the eye level of a fish. Floating past the trees, the towns, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The theme of my life this year seems to be “new perspectives” and once again, I found a new one.
A response to ‘Women Against Feminism’. “If you don’t think you need feminism, then that is a victory for the movement. You have fulfilled all those dreams that every suffragette being force-fed in prison and every ‘witch’ burnt at the stake dreamed you would one day.”
The Right to Be Handsome: Clothing for Gender Non-Conforming People on the Rise
I absolutely must mention the mermaid school in the Philippines because nearly thirty people made a point to share it with me, and it’s flattering that ya’ll know where my interests lie
To create a real connection, show vulnerability. “The mistaken assumption is that if people find out who we really are underneath, they’d remove themselves from our lives. The reality is that if we share the ups and downs of our human experience in the right way in the right context, we build deeper connections.”
Animals are so fascinating! Nine Badass Females of the Animal Kingdom
.. And Bethlehem Vegfest 2014 is less than a month away! Aren’t the posters beautiful?
xo Jaime K