Top 5: Vegan Musikfest Food 2016

musik cover

For a list of even MORE vendors, take a peek at our 2014  Vegan Musikfest post, with a  walk-through of the entire fest. Most vendors are still here in 2016!

>>Vegan Guide to Musikfest 2014<<

And for more Lehigh Valley + Eastern PA vegan things, check out:


Top 5 Vegan Musikfest Foods 2016

1 . VEGAN TACOS – Ticas Tacos, near Volksplatz, North Side

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Hello, lover. Unofficially touted as “The Best Food of Musikfest 2016” by vegans and non-vegans alike, if you only get one stop, make it Ticas Tacos. This is fresh, thoughtful food with a ton of flavor. The standard vegan taco comes with: black beans, hominy, sweet plantain, pickled red onion, pineapple pico, and chipotle vinaigrette. Order one or ten, sold individually at 4 Tickets ($4) each.

Order Tip: Can also be made into a large BURRITO. Or ask for vegan “loaded fries”.

2. KIMCHI REUBEN (vegan) – Bees Knees Grille, near Volksplatz, North Side

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Marbled rye toasted in coconut oil, hugging spicy small-batch kimchi, tempeh, melted vegan cheese and a little vegenaise for added creaminess. Served warm, sloppy, and delicious. This is an average size sandwich (not HUMONGOUS like much of the Musikfest food), but it’s delightfully messy and most importantly, quite tasty. A great meal that won’t leave you so full you can’t eat something else later. More snacks > less snacks, yeah?

Order Tip: Ask for it made vegan! They have dairy cheese, too, so be specific. 

3. CHOCOLATE DIPPED CHEESECAKE – Zuzu Confectionary, near Volksplatz, North Side

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This is a yummy slice of vegan cheesecake on a stick, dipped in dark chocolate, with options for added toppings like sprinkles or peanuts. Cheesecake is made by the talented and lovely Sweet Doe Bakery, so obvs. it’s delicious! This stand has a ton of vegan options, though, so check out the gourmet popsicles if you’re not feelin’ creamy chocolate on a piece of wood.

Order Tip: You can order with or without chocolate and extra topics are $1.

4. AW SHUCKS CORN – North + South Sides, Multiple Stands

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Leave it to a bunch of folks in Pennsylvania to be ENTHRALLED with corn. Eating this (and anticipating it for a year) is a ‘Fest rite of passage. This typically smothered-in-dairy snack is easily made vegan if you ask for it. Go see what all the fuss is about, and prepare to see more social media comments on your photos of CORN than photos of your children.

Order tip: No butter, no cheese. The other spice is vegan!

5. ISLAND NOODLES – North + South Sides, Multiple Stands

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Carby thick noodles and veggies all stir fried together in a massive wok, with lots of sriracha on the condiment bar. Add as much as you want (all of it?). These are easily accessible no matter where you are inside the ‘Fest. They travel well if you need to use up food tickets, as the cardboard container folds up and closes for a BONUS SNACK later.

Order tip: Veggie with no meat.

 teamsnacks

BONUS FOOD

I don’t have photos, and anything with a “*” means it should be vegan but haven’t asked them personally, so just check in. Let us know if you find out, mmkay?

South side Mentions!

  • CHIPS & GUAC – Cactus Blue, near Steelstacks by Americaplatz/Levitt Pavillion
  • *CHICKPEA POPCORN – Fud Truck, on street by Americaplatz/Levitt Pavillion

North Side Mentions!

  • SAMOSA EMPANADAS –  Viva Empanada, Plaza Tropical
  • FROZEN APPLE CIDER – Sweet Granny’s Kettle Corn, near Volksplatz
  • *SMOOTHIE IN A PINEAPPLE – Island Expressions,  Festplatz

Remember to check out:

More updates will be made as Musikfest continues, so check back!

Thanks to the Artsquest Marketing department for being so darn nice, and helping me scope out the vendor list. I hope you get to treat yourselves to some tacos.

I WISH YOU JOY, MERRIMENT, AND HEADACHE MEDICATION. xo

 

Unlikely Story

In the middle of January, we were shooting photos for my column in Lehigh Valley Style in a bookstore in Easton. I changed outfits next to the history books and me and Colin wandered into the alley. “Stand there, look happy”, he said when I crunched my way into a pile of ice-snow almost up to my knees and he took a few quick shots before the bitter biting winter air hurt too much to pretend it was Spring.

Unknown to either of us, one of those photos became the May 2015 cover of Style. It is Colin’s first cover (something he has wanted for two years), and mine too (something I didn’t think was possible?). Surprise!

lvstylemay2015 cover In a year of so much loss, of leaving behind or moving on from so many of the things that were a part of me for so long, I have spent the last six months remembering how to be alone; how to find community when you leave the town where you lived for a decade; how to take a break from creative projects and hold on to the truth that it doesn’t mean they will crumble or you will be forgotten; how to focus on love for those who mean the most to me – to allow love to change when the time for change has come, to find it in my friends and my family and my friends who have become my family, to be surprised back into passion; to remember that things change but our value doesn’t increase or lessen because of it.

It has not been easy. Important things never are.

But I have found, over and over, that just when we are about to give up on ourselves something happens that reminds us that we are enough. That we will be OK, and we are already OK.

lvstylemay2015

On Tuesday, May 12th, the magazine is having it’s monthly Insider Happy Hour, which is a FREE event and open to EVERYONE. You can wear a fancy outfit and bring a few dollars for drinks, and we can hug each other and get our pictures taken for the magazine. I hope to see you there!

You can get more information here: LV Style Insider Happy Hour

And find out more about Colin’s work: Colin Coleman Photography

FRESH PERSPECTIVES with Jaime K: Lehigh Valley Style November 2014 Issue

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:

LVSTYLEnov14

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.

 

 

TALKING TO PHOEBE: Podcasts and TV Shows and Vegan Body Image and Bravery

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.

The People Chronicles TV Show

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.

2 Weird Hungry Girls Podcast 2 weird hungry girls

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.

2 weird hungry girls with jaime k

Technically, THREE weird hungry girls. Nan of Chubby Pickle Farm, Phoebe of Phoebe’s Pure Food, and me!

 Check out Phoebe’s website | facebook |instagram | twitter

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?)

Jaime K’s VEGAN GUIDE TO MUSIKFEST 2014

vegan musikfest.jpg   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 | instagram| facebook

*Twitter is best, and I’ll be using hashtag: #veganmusikfest

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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 WorksA 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.

Soft pretzels made with coconut oil.

STATIONS CAFE: Soft pretzels made with coconut oil.

 

MEDITERRANEAN PLATTER STAND (?): Bottom of the hill near VolksplatzFalafel, 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.

MEDITERRANEAN PLATTERS: Hummus, Tabouleh, Falafel, Grape Leaves

MEDITERRANEAN PLATTERS: Hummus, Tabouleh, Falafel, Grape Leaves

BEES KNEES GRILL: Bottom of the hill near VolkzplatzOH 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.

BEES KNEES: Tempeh and avocados and arugula.

BEES KNEES: Tempeh and avocados and arugula.

Vegan grilled cheeses from Bees Knees Grill. Messy and delicious.

Vegan grilled cheeses from BEES KNEES GRILL. Messy and delicious.

 

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.)

CACTUS BLUE: North and South sides. Tacos, beans and rice, lots of guacamole.

CACTUS BLUE: North and South sides. Tacos, beans and rice, lots of guacamole.

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.

ZUZUS CONFECTIONERY: Gourmet allergy-friendly popsicles

ZUZUS CONFECTIONERY: Gourmet allergy-friendly popsicles

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.)

ISLAND NOODLES: Stir-fried soba noodles with veggies

ISLAND NOODLES: Stir-fried soba noodles with veggies

 

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!

Somewhere in Musikfest you can get a fried slinky potato

Somewhere in Musikfest you can get a fried slinky potato

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! 

CASA DE JORGE: "The Salsa Guy" locally-made salsas, and you can pet a dog

CASA DE JORGE: “The Salsa Guy” locally-made salsas, and you can pet a 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.

BETHLEHEM DAIRY STORE: Locally-made flavored ice

BETHLEHEM DAIRY STORE: Locally-made flavored ice

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.

RODALE: Veggie tofu wrap and handcut organic sweet potato fries

RODALE: Veggie tofu wrap and handcut organic sweet potato fries

*CACTUS BLUE and ISLAND NOODLES (see above) also have second locations at Steelstacks on the Southside.

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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.

THE JOINT CAFE: Vegan sandwiches, great coffee, roasted chickpeas for $2

THE JOINT CAFE: Vegan sandwiches, great coffee, roasted chickpeas for $2

 

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.

SHANKARA: All-vegan all the time. Organic juice bar and fusion food.

SHANKARA: All-vegan all the time. Organic juice bar and fusion food.

Remember, I’d love to see your photos or hear your recommendations. I can update the list all week.

 Use hashtag #veganmusikfest 

Happy Festing, eat well!    xo Jaime K

LINKS to LOVE: Also, Lehigh Valley Yoga Festival with NEW T-SHIRTS!

This week I saw Neutral Milk Hotel live with some of those dearest to me and it was a magical extended moment. Last weekend, I went to a lake with chickpea salad sandwiches and champagne and a stack of books. The water was so welcoming and warm. I bobbed around and noticed the odd sensation of being eye level with a moving canoe. I’ve met with friends and visionaries about collaborations, crafting a career from many small parts, and how darn good it feels to have someone to talk to about it.

summer collage

Saturday is a big day for the health + wellness community as Lehigh Valley Yoga Festival is finally here! Save the Kales! is a partner along with Natural Awakenings Magazine. It’ll be a full day of many forms of yoga, live music, vendors, and more yoga. Chef Wendy of Shankara will be there selling organic vegan food, and proceeds from the event to our pals at Pratyush Sinha Foundation, which you can learn more about by watching this.

And I’ll be there selling NEW SAVE THE KALES! T-SHIRTS, design unveiled at the festival! Follow along on social media to get a first look at the new shirt, then come here next week to order one.

instagram | twitter | facebook 

LINKS to LOVE savethekales

Artist recreates his childhood drawings 20 years later. The snail!

There is nothing pretentious about being a vegan. from Vice (*sarcasm and real talk!) “I’m not sure why my nutrition is such a big concern for people I don’t know. With the exception of vegans, Live Aid, or those people who eat couches on My Strange Addiction, I don’t remember ever seeing someone show concern for another person’s nourishment.”

Having one’s corn ground in the 1800’s was probably more fun than you think.

Ashlee being a babe and talking ethical FALL FASHION, GLORY BE!, come on September!

What are you reading? Subway Book Review is a blog based on stopping to ask strangers on the subway to review, on the spot, whatever book they are reading in that moment. This speaks to the book-snoop portion of my soul.

Thank you for being a friend. A breakdown of Blanche Devereaux’s best outfits.

Trans, but not like you think.  “Gender is part of everyone’s life, we’re all negotiating the line between what we’re expected to be and who we are.”

Who wants to take a day trip to Storybook Forest?

Bethlehem Vegfest 2014, Aug 23rd

… And Bethlehem Vegfest 2014 is less than a month away! We’ve got some great speakers, retail booths, and the food this year? Oh, you guys. Let me just say there MAY OR MAY NOT *ahem* be a vegan ice cream truck. Save the Kales! TV will also be there taping a live cooking show and chatting with Fest-goers, so come say hello! Final schedule updates will be on the website very soon.

Happy weekend! xo

FINDING YOUR VOICE: An Equality Activism Conference at Lehigh University

Lehigh University’s Rainbow Room is hosting the 3rd Annual LGBTQIA Intercollegiate Conference this Saturday, March 29th.

Come for the ever-important and revolutionary talks about marriage equality, maintaining a LGBTQIA-friendly work environment, independent publishing, writing, trans-youth workshops, and advocacy training. Stay for the opportunity to meet queers and allies from twelve  local colleges and universities, to feel empowered in your voice and art, and enjoy sessions on sex and social media. You know, a little of everything.

lehigh university rainbow room

Two weeks ago I (middle) got to meet Kim (right) and Trish (left) to chat about the conference and they let me plop down on the comfy sofas and gawk at the architecture of the buildings and offered me a celebratory flag. Such sweethearts. I am honored to have been invited to be part of this event!

lgbtqia definition

I’ll be on a panel called “Finding your Voice on Social Media”.

My co-panelist is Nick Foti, the man who created the “Shit Girls Say to Gay Guys” video on Youtube, along with a ton of other hilarious videos, and he has MILLIONS of views and followers. I am so excited to meet him (and will surely learn an awful lot).

GO HERE to read the full-line up of sessions for this conference.

This is FREE! FREE! FREE! and open to anyone/everyone. Just make sure you register so we know to expect you. You can stay all day or come and go as you please. The first session starts at 10:00am on Saturday morning, so grab coffee,  a bagel + a seat next to someone you never met (then introduce yourself). This will be fun.

Event Facebook Page | LU Rainbow Room on Twitter

 

Lehigh Valley Style Magazine Has a New Columnist (and She’s Vegan)

I am honored to share my new bi-monthly column for Lehigh Valley Style magazine, Fresh Perspectives with Jaime K.

JaimeK LV Style magazine

So much to say about the emotions of seeing this in print, but for now I’ll tell you: It’s the March issue and it’s on news stands now! Learn about my journey to become vegan and years later, to embrace the Lehigh Valley as my home for creative communities, young entrepreneurship, and vegan food (we keep getting luckier!). Going forward, the column will highlight people and businesses doing work I admire, be it art & design, mindful cooking, or making positive community and societal impacts.

Fresh Perspectives is meant to chronicle my love of the Lehigh Valley, seeking beauty in everything, living with true mindfulness to be kind in a world that makes it easy to post an Internet meme about kindness while forgetting to show it in our actions.

It’s about simple and unintimidating recipes, and inclusiveness, and honoring where we come from while striving to be better.” (pg. 100)

I hope you’ll love it, and if you have suggestions for future columns I’d love to connect and learn about them. Reach me at SavetheKales@gmail.com.

xo Jaime K

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

― Ernest Hemingway

Vegans & Valentine’s Day, Like Peas and Carrots (GET IT!?)

One of the most comforting things about being in the vegan community is that, when you’re lucky, it really is a community. Sure, we have the occasional naysayer, the “mean angry neighbor” type, yelling loudly that everyone is doing everything wrong, but most of us know that guy has just been through some hard things, so we embrace him with a knowing nod and continue to live in a way that expresses the infinite benefits of being vegan – especially the part of showing love.

JaimeKSaveTheKales-V-day

When I was asked to spill my Valentine’s Day plans as part of Meet the Shannons’ annual “Vegans on Valentine’s Day” post,  oooh girl (in RuPaul voice), I was thrilled. Besides the fact that this year, for me, is a week-long romantic/celebratory extravaganza, and aside from having an admiration-crush on The Shannons (individually and collectively), this round-up includes vegan ladies who are Compassion Powerhouses, woman I admire and respect so much, and to be included among them is humbling and, frankly, made me squeal.

Pop on over to the Vegans on Valentine’s Day post, and get romantic holiday plans from:

And because we’re sharing the love, allow me a moment to gush about my oodles of respect for Annie Shannon. She is someone I had been following online forever, and when I finally got to meet her and husband Dan at an event in New Jersey (hosted by Montclair Vegans) a year or two ago, I was nervous and excited.

It can be hard to remember that the people you look up to are REAL people. Not only do they live and breathe among us, they are humble and smart and witty, and work damn hard to make their personal dreams happen. True activists at heart, Annie and Dan found their way into homes across the world with The Betty Crocker Project, in which they veganized nearly every recipe in the classic Betty Crocker Cookbook.

meettheshannonsbooksigning

Me, Dianne of VeggieGirl.com, Dan and Annie Shannon at their book signing at Watchung Booksellers in NJ

I am forever and always inspired by people who feel compelled to do work that helps others, human or animal, a selfless drive to make the world a little better, and you can’t help but admire someone even more for when their intentions are pure.  Annie is hilarious and wonderful, and I saved and still revisit a conversation we had about plowing past negative online commenters and doing the hard work.

Love love love, it’s in the air.

Reviews and follow-up posts will be made about each of my plans. How lucky that so many things are happening in and around the Lehigh Valley! Mwah. xo

 

Thoughtful (Last-Minute) Gifts in the Lehigh Valley and Bethlehem

In a place that bursts with artistic creativity, small boutique retail shops and is literally, hello!, “The Christmas City” (check out the locally-viral Buzzfeed post) with seasonal holiday pop-up markets, I can’t begin to write a comprehensive gift guide. There’s too much. A good problem, no?

But if you’re looking for last-minute gift ideas that are special and unique to Bethlehem/The Lehigh Valley area while supporting small businesses, these are the gifts and shops that immediately come to my mind.

Share some of your favorites in the comments!

giftguidecollage

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Best Budget-friendly Holiday and Local: Moravian Star Ornament and/or Pickle Ornament from Moravian Book Shop

moravian ornaments

A Moravian star is classic Bethlehem tradition in a small, affordable package. You can learn about the significance of the Moravian Star and then choose a beauty from a variety of sizes, materials, and price points. From this site,

The stars were used as craft projects to help demonstrate geometry lessons to young boys attending Moravian school. The stars were quickly adopted by the Moravian Church as a symbol of the birth of Jesus and represented the star of Bethlehem.

A small elegant, handmade glass ornament will set you back about $20 (give or take), but you may also find them in paper, plastic, and sizes that could fit in your palm to elegant lighting fixtures priced in the hundreds.

As for the pickle ornament(!), this is a little more kitsch but just as traditional. The German tradition says that parents hung a pickle in the Christmas tree after all the other ornaments were in place. In the morning, the first child to see the pickle on the tree would get an extra gift from St. Nicholas.  This is one of my favorite go-to gifts when you want to give a little something to someone who lives out of the area, as a cute reminder that someone in Bethlehem loves them.

Moravian Book and Gift Shop: website | facebook

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Best Shop for Unique Gifts (Upscale): Artfully Elegant

artfully elegant

If you’re not quite sure what to get someone but want a very special gift and you have a little more wiggle-room in your budget, this is the store to browse. They specialize in jewelry that is unique, interesting and handmade, and one-of-a-kind artwork from photography to ceramics. Always classy but with a chic, bohemian twist, you can’t go wrong with anything from this shop. Take a peek at their Pinterest page.

Artfully Elegant: website | pinterest | facebook

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Best Shop For Unique Gifts (Budget-Friendly): Mercantile Home

merchaus collage

Nearly everything in MercHaus in handmade in-haus. *wink* This is where you can find my absolute favorite scented candles, neon-colored ceramic animals, fabric products like scarves, bags, aprons, and about a trillion other things you never knew you loved until you walked in. This store is a treasure of the Lehigh Valley (located about 10 minutes outside Bethlehem in beloved Easton), and it’s all the better that owners Ken and Ron are the sweetest peas and you’ll leave with hugs and perfect gifts in tow. Is it weird to want to live in a store?

Mercantile Home:  website| twitter| facebook 

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Best for Someone Who Loves His/Her iPhone: Homebase Skateshop Bethlehem iPhone Cases

homebase610division

Listen, put a picture of the steel mills on anything and you’ve found a way to my heart. But Homebase does it again by turning their popular 610 Division design into cases for iPhones 4 and 5. Brilliant. BRILLIANT.

In case you haven’t seen it, Homebase Skateshop sells t-shirts with one of the greatest outcomes of graphic design history: a mash-up of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album cover art, and the Bethlehem Steel mills. They’ve turned that genius design into a portable and practical phone cover, and if you love Bethlehem as much as I do, you’ll get one immediately. Quantities limited.

Homebase Skateshop: website | twitter | facebook 

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Best Non-Wine Gifts: Seasons Olive Oil and Vinegar Taproom

seasonsoilandvinegar

If you’re looking for the sophistication (and, um, practicality) of a bottle of wine but want something a little more out-of-the-box, consider a bottle of one of the many flavored oils or vinegars from Seasons. If oil and vinegar don’t sound special, get yourself to this shop, start at one end, and sample everything in the place. They really let you do this!

For more details, take a peek at this article I wrote about Seasons a few years ago.  A full bottle will set you back an average of $12-15, but can go higher as you look to truffle oils and such.

Seasons Olive Oil and Vinegar Taproom: website | facebook 

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Best Coffee Gifts: Wise Bean Cafe Gift Coins

wisebeancafe

My favorite local coffee shop, and longest running indie coffee shop in Bethlehem’s Northside, has unique ceramic gift coins that function like gift cards – but they’re cuter! They come in a tiny mesh bag, perfect for gifting, and while you’re at it pick up a pound or two of one of the Bean’s excellent coffees to brew at home.

The Wise Bean: website | facebook

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Best Gifts for Babies, Kids, New Parents: Ju-ju Monkey

jujumonkey collage

What began as a handmade cloth diaper company is now a full brick-and-mortar retail space in Allentown. Here you can find anything a baby or toddler would need or want, and best of all, products are eco-friendly! Clothes, toys, personal care products, and more can be found at the store. And if you want to give an experience, check out the classes offered by Ju-ju Monkey, from Baby Sign Language to Mommy and Baby Yoga.

Ju-ju Monkey: website | twitter | facebook

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Best “Little Something”: Jolene’s Jar Pickled Foods

jolenesjar collage

Made in small batches in Easton, PA and sold at locations around the Valley (including The Wise Bean, see above), these jars of pickled goodies would be perfect when you want to give a little token of appreciation to someone and that candy cane taped to a card just won’t do. Who doesn’t like pickles!? With flavors like Pickled Za’atar Cauliflower and Spicy Bloody Mary Garnish, stock up on a few for yourself, too. Bonus: toss your own veggies in the leftover brine after you’ve devoured the jar. The gift that keeps giving! Buy them at these locations.

Jolene’s Jar: website | where to buy | facebook

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And if you’re looking for a vegan + organic Christmas dinner but want someone else to do all the work, call on Chef Wendy! She’s taking orders for Christmas dinner through this Saturday, Dec. 21st.

balasiaxmasdinner

Chef Wendy of Balasia/The Honey Underground: facebook

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Note: I debated writing this list because, as mentioned at the top, there are so many wonderful businesses in the Lehigh Valley and I’d never want anyone to feel snubbed! A huge part of my work is advocating community involvement and small business support.  

I started to feel like I was four years old again, in bed and anxious to say goodnight to my stuffed platypus, because then I’d have to get out of bed and kiss + say goodnight to every other stuffed animal (there were a LOT) so none would feel left out.  Then you grow up and become an adult with mild OCD!

Lists can sometimes feel like that. 

My column in Lehigh Valley Style (coming in 2014!) will include not only recipes, but a deeper exploration of the people and places that create the vibrancy + community of the Valley.  Love and respect to small businesses and their owners, working hard every day to make me proud to call this place my home. xo