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Notes, comments and observations from the Lifestyle and Entertainment desk by Lifestyle Editor Aixa Torregrosa-Vazquez.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A stroll, a few car trips and more

August is almost here and the long days of summer are starting to slowly wind down. I even saw some red leaves peeking out from some tree branches during a recent morning walk around my neighborhood. Before you know it fall will be here and you’ll say “Where did my summer go?” If you have not already taken some time for R&R, there’s still time left. Don’t worry. You can get some vacation, staycation or even a daycation in. If you need ideas, here are some from our Day Trippin’ blog archives. This is only a sampling, stroll the blog, you may find information about a place you may want to visit.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Swimming, drifting in the sea

Look at the turquoise waters ....
A jelly fish swims in the sea near the beach in the village of Toroni, northern Greece, Tuesday, July 20, 2010.

Friday, July 16, 2010

30-second vacation

It would be nice if sometime in the future I can go watch the Tour de France in person -- at least part of it. The excitement of the tour plus the French scenery makes for a good combination.
In the meantime, I have to be happy with watching it on TV when I can or checking out the photos that come through the wire services. Here's one from today from the AP.

The pack passes a bridge over Isere river during the start of the 12th stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 210.5 kilometers (130.8 miles) with start in Bourg-de-Peage, and finish in Mende, France, Friday, July 16. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

National Constitution Center launches online gallery focusing on military/veteran artists' artwork

PHILADELPHIA - The National Constitution Center today launched a special online gallery at, where active military and veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces can submit artwork reflecting their time of service, according to a press release. Soldier artists who make a submission to the online gallery will have the opportunity to see their work displayed via computer kiosk inside the Center’s upcoming Art of the American Soldier exhibition, alongside the never-before-seen collection from the Army’s archives, offering intimate, first-hand insight into the soldier experience, the organization said. Submissions in the form of JPGs up to 2MB in size can be made at
Created by the National Constitution Center in conjunction with the U.S. Army Center of Military History and the National Museum of the United States Army, Art of the American Soldier unveils works of art created by American soldiers in the line of duty. Drawn from the Army’s rarely seen collection of more than 15,000 paintings and sketches, the exhibition showcases the artistic response of soldiers from World War I through the present day, the organization said. The exhibition will make its world debut at the Center from Sept.24, through Jan. 10.
Admission to Art of the American Soldier is $17.50 for adults; $15.50 for seniors ages 65 and up, youth ages 13-18, and students with ID; $13.50 for military families with ID; and $10.50 for children ages 4-12. Admission for veterans is free with regular museum admission. Admission for active military personnel, career military retirees, and children ages 3 and under is free. Group rates are also available. Admission to the Center’s main exhibition, The Story of We the People, including the theater production “Freedom Rising,” is included. iPod audio tours cost an additional $5. The Art of the American Soldier iPod tour has been generously underwritten by Team Clean, Inc. For ticket information, call 215.409.6700 or visit
The National Constitution Center, located at 525 Arch St., Philadelphia. For more information, call (215) 409-6700 or visit

Check The Reporter's military blog: Soldier Stories at

Annual Kutztown Folk Festival is a treat

You will need a wide-brimmed bonnet but don’t let the sun deter you from enjoying some good old Pennsylvania folklife through Sunday at the Kutztown Folk Festival.
Covered up with sun block my husband and I checked out the festival on Monday.
It was hot. But the weather didn’t deter us nor many other families to take in all the crafts, demonstrations and entertainment. We kept to the shade as much as we could, made sure we had plenty of cold water with us and indulged in some ice-cold, old-fashioned birch beer.
Even though we’ve seen the same crafts displayed at previous festivals as well as many other venues, it is still a very nice outing. Not only do we enjoy the ride getting there, there are always new crafts to admire. There is so much talent on display at the festival. We spent roughly four hours strolling the fairgrounds admiring all kinds of handmade works including pottery, paintings, leather goods, pewter, glassware, baskets, jewelry, and many more. There are lots to see and do for the whole family. There’s a carousel, a petting zoo and historic vehicles on display, to name a few.
Spread throughout the grounds are kiosks with enticing offerings like funnel cakes, homemade ice cream, lemonades and apple dumplings. And there’s no where to escape the aroma of all kinds of sausages sizzling along with succulent offerings of Pennsylvania Dutch dinners with all the trimmings. Unfortunately, I could not eat any of those on Monday; the hot weather did away with my appetite. (Maybe that was a good thing.) We did purchase a loaf of freshly-made, still hot-from-the-oven raisin bread and an apple dumpling to bring home. They were yummy.
A highlight of the show is the quilt exhibition leading up to an auction on Saturday (July 10) at noon. The quilt show was an even more special treat as the quilt “barn” is air conditioned. So I took my time to look at the quilts. You have to admire the women who labor over those masterpieces. The time that goes into creating a quilt, let alone the artistic skills that one must have, is amazing. And, on top of that you need to be a mathematician -- you surely need to know your numbers and your geometry – to work on such beautiful configurations and designs.
Along with all the crafts, demonstrations and all the (fried) food you can eat there is entertainment. We took time to enjoy the music by the Martin Family Band and the Blue Mountain Junction. Musical performances, kid’s activities and seminars are planned throughout the day today through Sunday.
For more information and a complete schedule, check
TO GET THERE: We followed the directions offered in the festival’s Web site: take 476n.(Pa turnpike NE extension) to Exit 56, (Lehigh Valley) to 22w. to I-78w. to Exit 49A, 100s. to 222s. to Kutztown. Once in Kutztown, you will see signs directing you to the festival grounds.
Location: Kutztown Fairgrounds 225 N. White Oak St., Kutztown, Pa.
Hours: 9 a.m-6 p.m.
Admission: Adult: $12; senior citizens (55+): $11; children (12 and under): FREE Wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs and scooters are available for rent from the first aid station. Pets are welcome on a leash.
(Photo courtesy of the Kutztown Folk Festival)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A July 4th look at Pennsylvania

As we celebrate our independence this weekend, here's some food for thought from the Pennsylvania State Data Center:

An Independence Day Look at the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

PENN STATE HARRISBURG – On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As always, this most American of holidays will be commemorated by Pennsylvania and the rest of the country with parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues.

The Name Game
There are many patriotically-named cities, towns, and villages across the commonwealth. Washington tops the list of municipal names in Pennsylvania for having the most places include that name at 27. Franklin is the next most-common name for cities, boroughs and townships in Pennsylvania, with 25 variations of the Franklin name. Jefferson follows with 13 municipalities, followed by Liberty (11), Adams (7) and Freedom (4).

Population Growth Since the First Independence Day
Pennsylvania, as one of the original 13 states, has been around for every Decennial Census, including the first, in 1790. Thomas Jefferson oversaw the first American census, which enumerated Pennsylvania’s population at 434,373 people. Since then, Pennsylvania has grown by 2,801.8 percent (to 12,604,767 on July 1, 2009), and has never shown a decline in population according to Decennial Census counts.

Fourth of July Cookouts
Many Independence Day picnics include traditional favorites such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and ribs. In 2007, Commonwealth farmers had 1.62 million cattle and calves. The average price per 100 pounds in 2009 for beef cattle was $71.10. There were 1.18 million hogs in Pennsylvania in 2009. The average price per 100 pounds of pork in 2009 was $40.00.

Nationwide, food and beverage stores saw large increases in their sales during the month of July 2009. Retail trade increased by 1.0 percent between June and July 2009, while food and beverage stores jumped by 4.1 percent; grocery stores saw a 3.9 percent increase, and supermarket sales were up 4.0 percent. Beer, wine, and liquor stores, however, saw an even bigger increase: 7.4 percent.