Author: Madeline Hoffman

DIY Cleaning Supplies

DIY Cleaning Supplies

Amidst the craziness that has taken over our world, much of daily life has been halted to a stop. Even life’s most mundane tasks, like going to the grocery store, becomes a fierce competition of who can get their hands on the last bottle of 

Self-care Quarantine Survival Kit

Self-care Quarantine Survival Kit

Are you struggling to ward off cabin fever and find the silver lining while you stay home? You’re not alone.  While people all over the globe are sacrificing so many things right now, like eating out, going to concerts, seeing friends and even buying toilet 

The Perfect Sunday Drive

The Perfect Sunday Drive

Let’s be honest–quarantine is tough! Staying in pajamas all day was fun at first, but we can only work from home for so long before cabin fever sets in. Even Netflix begins to lose its appeal when your routine Netflix binge is the main event of the day. After a long week of conference calls and rotating through your favorite pairs of sweats, it’s natural to want something to look forward to over the weekend, but finding a source of relaxation while stuck inside can be a challenge. Many people are finding creative ways to break up the monotony  while social distancing; one popular way to escape the confines of our homes is by taking a long drive. 

If you’re in need of some inspiration to spice up your weekend, here are some ideas to help you plan the perfect Sunday drive. 


Good music: the key to the perfect drive 

The perfect Sunday drive begins before you even start the engine. We all know that no road trip is complete without good music, so take some time to create the perfect road trip playlist before leaving for the day. A long drive is the perfect opportunity to get caught up on new music or roll your windows down and sing along to all of your old favorites. You can also queue up a podcast or an audiobook to stay entertained during your drive. 


Bring snacks, of course. 

A hefty stash of snacks is absolutely necessary for any good road trip. So raid your pantry or the nearest convenience store to stock up on all the necessary provisions. Whether your snack of choice is a trail mix or potato chips (or maybe both), a supply of car snacks is essential. You can even support a local business by grabbing coffee and snacks to-go from your local coffee shop. 


Pack a Picnic 

Don’t just stop at snacks. Packing a picnic adds an extra element of fun to your Sunday afternoon drive. You can go all out and plan a Pinterest approved picnic complete with your own charcuterie board…or stick to a good old fashioned peanut butter & jelly. If packing a meal seems like a hassle, you can still enjoy a roadside picnic by ordering takeout from a local restaurant. Besides, there has never been a better excuse than now to eat out! 

If the weather isn’t cooperating, you can bring blankets and pillows to turn the trunk of your car into a cozy spot for a lunch date. Or, bring a picnic blanket and lawn chairs to soak up some vitamin D outdoors. Make sure your location is picture-perfect by planning a scenic route for your drive.  


Take the scenic route

One thing that quarantine has given us is a surplus of time. So why not take advantage of it while we can? No matter where you live, each state has many beautiful roads that you may never have had the chance to explore before quarantine. So get out and enjoy it–maybe even get a little lost along the way. If you need some ideas, the internet holds a treasure trove of guides to help you plan your itinerary. Get started by scrolling through this list of the best scenic drives in every state. For even more options, you can search a map of the United States to choose the best scenic byway near you. 

Whether you choose to follow a map and drive the backroads near your home or skip the itinerary and get lost, don’t be afraid to make a few stops along the way. There are plenty of scenic overlooks, picture-perfect views that you skip to take the “faster route,” and roadside trails and hiking locations that beg to be explored. Turn a normal Sunday afternoon into an adventure. Stop and smell the roses! 


Finish the day with a sweet ending

You packed a picnic, sang along to your favorite music, and enjoyed some beautiful sights. What better way to end a perfect Sunday afternoon than with dessert? Celebrate the warmer weather and support a local ice cream shop by getting take out. After all, calories don’t count during quarantine. 


Last but not least, don’t forget to take pictures. Years from now, when social distancing has become a thing of the past, you will want to look back and remember life during quarantine. But for now, enjoy taking life at a slower pace than usual. Life in quarantine has slowed down, so why not make the most of it? Whether you’re bringing the whole family or taking a solo trip, a long afternoon car ride is the perfect remedy to conquer the quarantine blues. The weather is beautiful, and we have all the time in the world…what better time for a long drive?

Three Birds Coffee House: Two Lovebirds and a Parrot

Three Birds Coffee House: Two Lovebirds and a Parrot

EASTON – When Joe Langdon and Jennifer Murray met at an artists’ retreat in Wyoming in 2016, they never in their wildest dreams imagined that three years later they would be engaged and opening a coffee house in Easton, Pa. But that’s exactly what happened. 

Pardee Attic: Haunted by Bats or Spirits?

Pardee Attic: Haunted by Bats or Spirits?

EASTON – It was a dark and stormy Halloween night in Easton, Pennsylvania. While the rest of the Lafayette College student body was busy consuming candy and preparing for a night of festivities, my journalism class had different plans for the evening. On the night 

From “Auto Airhead” to Mechanic: Patrice Banks’s Journey to Female Empowerment through the Automotive Industry

From “Auto Airhead” to Mechanic: Patrice Banks’s Journey to Female Empowerment through the Automotive Industry

By Madeline Hoffman

Formerly a self-proclaimed “auto airhead,” Patrice Banks is on a mission to revolutionize the female’s role in the automotive industry.

Tired of feeling helpless when making decisions about her car, Banks decided it was time to make a change. With the goal of empowering females, she set off on a journey to change the relationship women have with their vehicles.

“Women don’t have a voice in the automotive industry,” she said, explaining that although the female population accounts for the largest number of new car purchases, women have very little say in the industry.

Banks knew that in order to educate and empower other women, the first step was to educate herself. The former Lehigh University (‘02) graduate began taking night classes at an automotive training school. She was the only woman in a class of 19-year old boys, and she remembered feeling afraid that they would make fun of her. Nevertheless, she didn’t let fear get in her way.

“I don’t care how I’m being perceived,” she said. “I’m here for women; I’m not here for men.”

While taking night classes, Banks continued to work as an engineer at Dupont, where she had been working for 12 years.

“I had a really great career as an engineer,” she said, “but I didn’t love what I was doing.” She didn’t feel like she was making a contribution to society, nor did she feel empowered through her work. Eventually, Banks decided to leave her six-figure salary at Dupont. She used her newfound auto repair knowledge to open Girls Auto Clinic, located in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania and staffed entirely by female mechanics.

“I decided to create a company that listens to women,” she said. Banks explained that she doesn’t think of Girls Auto Clinic as an automotive company so much as a “female empowerment” company.

While waiting for their car to get fixed at this female-friendly shop, women can stop by Girls Auto Clinic’s Clutch Beauty Bar to get a blowout, manicure or pedicure.

But Banks didn’t stop there. In 2017, she published ​Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide​, a guide to help women better understand their cars. She also founded the #sheCANic movement with the goal of enabling women to be more educated and empowered through their cars.

“I’m hoping that Girls Auto Clinic can help start a movement, and #sheCANic can be that movement,” she said.

In addition to managing her mechanic shop, the author and entrepreneur holds workshops where she teaches women the basics of car repair and maintenance. She also uses the public speaking skills that she cultivated during her years at Dupont to spread her #SheCANic movement and educate women–from middle school-age girls to CEO’s.

“I’m here to say, ‘I get it ladies, I’ve been there. What can I do to help you feel more confident as a driver?’” she said.

Looking forward, Banks hopes to provide more educational resources for women, expand her car care workshopsand open more repair centers staffed by female mechanics.

Her goal is to disrupt the male-dominated auto industry and make Girls Auto Clinic a household name.

“I can’t wait to grow it and reach as many women as I can,” Banks said. “I don’t ever want a woman to feel like she needs a guy to help her.”

SteelStacks High School Jazz Band Showcase Finalists Announced Six Schools to Compete March 29 at the Musikfest Café

SteelStacks High School Jazz Band Showcase Finalists Announced Six Schools to Compete March 29 at the Musikfest Café

BETHLEHEM, PA – After battling through three preliminary rounds, six area high school jazz bands have advanced to the finals of the 2020 SteelStacks High School Jazz Band Showcase presented by King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul, LLC. The winning band will earn the opportunity 

Embassy Bank Invites Community to Submit Images of ‘Our Hometown Heroes’ for 10th Annual Photo Display at SteelStacks

Embassy Bank Invites Community to Submit Images of ‘Our Hometown Heroes’ for 10th Annual Photo Display at SteelStacks

BETHLEHEM, PA— From March 1-April 1, Embassy Bank invites the community to submit photos of family members, neighbors and friends who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces for the 10th annual ‘Our Hometown Heroes’ display at SteelStacks, starting Memorial Day 

Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School Defends Title as Souper Bowl Champion

Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School Defends Title as Souper Bowl Champion

BETHLEHEM, PA – Twenty-one teams served up a tough competition at ​ArtsQuest’s 11th annual Souper Bowl, presented by Burkholder’s Heating & Air Conditioning. The culinary contest drew 500 attendees to the ArtsQuest Center’s Musikfest Café in Bethlehem on Jan. 25. For the second year in a row, the culinary arts students from the Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School were declared Souper Bowl champions with their mouth-watering Maple Bacon Sweet Potato Soup. The competition raised $24,000 for the​ Arts Education Fund for ArtsQuest​, the nonprofit that presents Musikfest, Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem and programs at the Banana Factory Arts and Education Center and SteelStacks.

The first runner-up for Souper Bowl Champion was Joe’s Tavern for its Almond Broccoli Chicken Soup, while Southside 313 Bar & Grille took second runner-up for its Pickletini Bisque.

The Souper Bowl Judging panel also named several category winners:

Best Cream-Based – ​Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School, Maple Bacon Sweet Potato Soup
Best Ethnic – ​Forks Mediterranean Deli, Mjadara (Lentil with rice and caramelized onions) Soup

Best Meat-Based – ​Estelle’s Catering, Chicken Tortilla Soup
Best Seafood-Based​ — ​Emeril’s Fish House, ​Corn & Crab Chowder
Best Vegetarian​ – ​Cathy’s Creative Catering and Café, ​Blueberry Pear Cobbler Soup Most Origina​l – The View at Morgan Hill, Beets and Cream Soup

Judges for Souper Bowl XI were Vicki Doulé, Michael Faccinetto and Richard Liu of the ArtsQuest Circle, George Wacker of Lehigh Valley with Love Media, LLC, Dave Wieder, VP of Burkholder’s Heating & Air Conditioning and Pam Anderson, ​New York Times best-selling cookbook author and Director of Copper House Events.

Special thanks to MacIntosh Services for supporting this year’s contest. Souper Bowl XII is set for Jan. 30, 2021. Tickets for the event will go on sale later this year.

Wine’d Down: Your Next Girls’ Night Out

Wine’d Down: Your Next Girls’ Night Out

  I wrote this piece to promote “Wine’d Down,” one of ArtsQuest’s major programming events. The article was featured in the  Spring 2020 issue of InQ.