Insider Tips to Strawberry Square: Guest Feature

by: Sara Bozich
November 14, 2017

The following is a guest post by Elise Panko, Harristown Enterprises

I spend a lot of time in Strawberry Square.

I’m here every day and a lot of weekends, too. I’m familiar with the spaces, the faces, and the awesome businesses and personalities in the building.

I’d like to shed some light on a few of my favorite, perhaps lesser-known things that everyone can enjoy at my favorite downtown hub.

Lunchbox at Fresa Bistro

strawberry square

You can find this meal in the grab-and-go cooler at Fresa Bistro, located on the first level of Strawberry Square.

You have a choice of chicken or tuna salad, and it comes with veggies, ranch for dipping, and a roll. It’s an affordable $6 for a decent portion, and it doesn’t weigh you down in that afternoon meeting.

Find a quiet spot to eat — here I chow down in our office breakroom — and it’s the perfect weekday lunch.

Seasonal Drinks at Little Amps Coffee Roasters

strawberry square

Little Amps is no secret. They are right at the clock in Strawberry Square and have become a popular meet-up spot.

I’m a big coffee fan, but their seasonal drinks are always a unique, refreshing treat.

Summertime means Chai Tea Palmer iced teas, and fall calls for sweet apple cider, hot or chilled. (Both are pictured!)

They feature eggnog and cold brew in the winter months for a decadent liquid treat.

Glasses from Ideas and Objects

Did you know this little shop features unique and funky sunglasses and readers on their counter?

Their merchandise is always fun and colorful, but I love picking up a new pair of bold, statement-making shades to add to my summer fashion.

Showroom Pickup from Amma Jo

strawberry square

Browsing Amma Jo’s online store is always fun.

Catch one of Amma’s sales announced on social media, then place your order, and pick up your stylish purchase right at their showroom on the first floor of Strawberry Square.

I ordered this fall scarf (pictured above) right on my phone and picked it up about 15 minutes later.

No shipping charges here!

Taco Salad from Santa Fe Mexican Grille

This is a food court favorite.

Try Sante Fe Mexican Grille’s taco salad in a tortilla bowl with taco toppings, cheese, and spicy HOT salsa that is not for the faint of heart.

This spicy, crunchy salad is arguably better than Chipotle’s.

Fitness U

strawberry square

I’ve been a member of Fitness U for years, and one of my favorite new exercise classes is Tabata Bootcamp.

The class is a convenient 45 minutes, but it is a killer. I was sore for days after trying April’s cardio and bodyweight moves.

Milkshakes from Sweets on Market

Randomly craving a delicious milkshake while you’re downtown?

Sweets on Market, next to Harrisburg University, has you covered. These are best enjoyed after a workout at Fitness U.

Provisions Loyalty+ membership

strawberry square

For only $35 a year, Provisions Loyalty+ members receive a starter kit of mason jar containers to use in the bulk aisles at Provisions, plus a lot of other discounts and specials on groceries.

This store is a game-changer, especially for downtown residents who can now get fresh, healthy foods without jumping in the car.

Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar at GNC

Does anyone else love Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar (a.k.a magical health elixir)?

My friend, Sara, got me hooked!

Just a tablespoon or two in a glass of water every morning promotes healthy gut bacteria. You can find it at the GNC in Strawberry Square right off from the atrium.

Strawberry Square Snapchat

You know when you swipe down on Snapchat and see the story that others posted at a particular location?

Do this at Strawberry Square, as it is an eclectic mix of students, employees, residents, travelers, artwork, music, events, food, and everyone in between.

A coworker and fellow Snapchat lover found this hidden gem, and it is a perfect representation of the beautiful diversity that comprises Strawberry Square.

Watch it, or better yet, add to it while visiting us the next time you’re downtown.

Meet Elise Panko

Manager, community development at Harristown Enterprises.

Elise is a Harrisburg resident and employee of Harristown Enterprises, the company who owns and operates Strawberry Square.

Elise is a transplant from Erie, Pa. and moved to Harrisburg in 2013 after college. She loves living, working, eating, drinking and shopping in downtown Harrisburg and is a self-proclaimed downtown expert.

Planning a Local Thanksgiving: Guest Feature

by: Sara Bozich
November 7, 2017

The following is a guest blog post by Julia James, Radish & Rye.

And so, despite the long-lingering summer that kept us warm through most of October, it’s November.

This means that not only has Sara had her baby, but that it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving.

I’m a pretty food-centric person, so I suppose it makes sense that Thanksgiving is my favorite of all the winter holidays. I love sharing a big meal with loved ones any day of the year, but I particularly love doing so with an intention of gratitude.

I also love that because we are theoretically, or at least sort of replicating or emulating a historic feast that occurred around this time of year in a place not too far away, there is a very natural focus on foods that are seasonal and local for us here and now.

Sourcing your local ingredients

In our household it has become a point of pride to have an all-local Thanksgiving — that is, a feast made almost entirely from locally grown ingredients — but I have to confess that I’m not sure we should be so proud because the truth is it isn’t all that challenging.

Last year, we did a turkey from Village Acres Farm in Mifflintown. This year, we’ll get one from North Mountain Pastures in Newport. 

north mountain pastures turkey

Feeling non-traditional?

Consider a ham from Sweat Pea Farm or a goose from Pecan Meadow Farm (they do turkeys, too).

Choices abound for side dishes, too. Last year, we had a pretty small table and didn’t want to go all out so we went fairly traditional with collard greens, mashed potatoes, and stuffing.

The ingredients for all of those dishes are very easy to get locally this time of year, either directly from your favorite farm at Farmers on the Square or the PA Open Air Farmers Market, or from Radish and Rye where we pull from a number of different local farms to get all in one place.

Setting a bigger table?

Other locally available in-season ingredients include a wide variety of squashes — butternut and acorn are the obvious ones — cabbage, sweet potatoes, pie pumpkins, carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, rutabaga, onions, and the list goes on and on!

Customizing your plan

Often when I’m planning a meal, especially a locally focused meal, I’ll start by selecting the main ingredients and then seek out recipes.

When thinking about Thanksgiving, though, because the most traditional foods are what’s readily available locally, you might be able to get away with selecting the recipes first.

Again, much of this can be very easy. If you want to make sweet potatoes (and who doesn’t), they’ll be available just about anywhere locally grown produce is sold. The same is true for carrots, squash, and potatoes.

root vegetables radish & rye

Of course, anything calling for asparagus isn’t going to work for a local feast this time of year, but the pilgrims weren’t enjoying asparagus at their Thanksgiving either.

If you want to venture a little further afield from the strictly traditional, you start taking on some risk that your ingredients won’t be available. It’s going to be difficult for a farmer to guarantee ahead of time that they’ll have fennel bulbs, cauliflower, broccoli, or Brussel sprouts the specific week of Thanksgiving, but it’s likely, barring a super hard frost early in the month, that at least some of these will be available.

collard greens radish & rye

To mitigate the risk of planning on something that it turns out I can’t get after all, what I like to do is plan my meal around the ingredients I know will be available — the sweet potatoes, squashes, etc. — but have some ideas for sides to make depending on what else I can find.

Once I know what’s available, I can decide whether I’ll be making a fennel salad or braised cabbage (or both!); whether it’ll be a celery or celeriac going into the stuffing; and whether the mashed potato substitute (for those who don’t do potatoes) will be whipped cauliflower or squash puree.

As long as the big pieces are known and well-planned, making last-minute adaptions based on what’s available can be easy and even fun!

Harvest Tradition

We often think of Thanksgiving as a uniquely American holiday, but the truth is that harvest festivals are celebrated all over the world, giving thanks for the year’s bounty and for the stored crops that will carry the community through the winter.

For most of us, our survival is no longer directly tied to the success or failure of the local crops as it was 300 years ago, but whether or not we recognize it in our day-to-day lives, we are dependent on farmers for nearly everything we eat.

For me, choosing to make the Thanksgiving feast a local one acknowledges the role agriculture plays in our lives and communities and celebrates both the bounty of the harvest and the hard work of those who sustain us through their farms.

Eating locally reminds me that we live in communities of interdependence, bound to each other and to the earth in our successes and failures, in our joys and our struggles. It is humbling and uplifting — and for me, it is the very essence of Thanksgiving.

Meet Julia James

Julia and Dusty James, Radish & RyePurveyor, Radish & Rye Food Hub, Broad Street Market

Julia James has been a hobby locavore for years.

Since 2015, she and her husband, Dusty, have owned Radish & Rye Food Hub at the Broad Street Market, where they stock exclusively locally grown and produced foods, including organic produce, grass-fed meats and dairy, artisan bread, and much more.

When they’re not at the stand, Julia and Dusty are usually cooking, preferably while sipping on local beer or Spanish wine.

Holiday Portrait Photography Tips: Guest Feature

by: Sara Bozich
November 3, 2017

The following is a guest post by Nate Kresge, GK Visual.

Growing up in a house with a father who is a photographer meant that we had to look forward to the dreaded family Christmas photo every year.

Mom would figure out what matching outfits we would wear. Dad would arrange us in the most aesthetically way possible. My brother, sister, and I would sit there hating every second of it.

As we grew up, the outfits didn’t match as much and the poses became more candid. Finding the time that we could all be together for a photo became the tricky part.

I often see families stress over getting the perfect photo this time of year. Kids are home from college. Relatives are in from out of town. The pressure is on to grab a great shot.

Although we aren’t in the business of shooting family portraits at GK Visual, we have photographed a lot of families through our political work.

Here are a few tips that we’ve discovered over the years that have helped to get a great shot.

Don’t Over Think It

Too much planning for a photo yields a result of just that — a photo that looks overly posed. The most loved photos are the ones that have a candid feel.

Are you having everyone to your house over the holidays? Take them to the porch and tell them to pile onto your front steps. Maybe it will snow and you can have everyone throw snow at each other. Be creative and have fun.

Have the Camera Ready

Have your camera or cell phone ready to snap a photo at any time. When we shoot photos of families, we are constantly snapping shots. You never know when the stars will align and everyone will have smiles on their faces.

We once had a family with a young boy who we couldn’t get to smile. The father asked him if he knew any funny words, and the boy, without hesitation, yelled out, “penis!”


That made for a memorable family photo.

Stay Close

If you do plan on posing a photo, keep everyone close to each other. When the subjects are spread out, the lens of the camera exaggerates this, and it can make it look like people don’t like each other.

Find a situation that will keep your loved ones closer together. Steps to a back porch often work great.

Share Your Photos

For the most part, the people in your photos enjoy seeing them. Don’t let the photos just sit on your phone only to be rediscovered when you decide to find that picture of that great meal you just had to shoot for your Instagram.

Facebook is an obvious way to share these photographic gems. Another great way are digital photo frames. We bought one for my wife’s grandmother last year. We can upload photos from our phone directly to her frame.

Your family and friends can also upload to the same frame. Now G-Ma can see what all her grandkids are up to.

Happy holidays and happy shooting!

About Nate Kresge

Director of Photography, Executive Producer, Co-Owner, GK Visual

Nate Kresge is the founder and co-owner of GK Visual in Harrisburg. He grew up in Palmyra where his parents ran the photography studio, Main Street Studio. He currently lives in midtown Harrisburg with his wife Lauren.

GUEST POST: Lancaster’s First Friday

by: Sara Bozich
September 17, 2013

The following is a guest post written by Sara’s birthday twin as she is busy exploring the boat life.

A few years ago I was working for an organization that had a presence in Central PA. During the interview process, they asked me about the “Central PA Market.” I had to break it to them that the area wasn’t a discernible market at all, but really three different markets, each with its own culture and personality. In particular, we have Harrisburg, York, and Lancaster, divided by both cultural and geographical boundaries.

Ken contemplating geographical boundaries.

Ken contemplating geographical boundaries.

For some inexplicable reason, we hate to cross rivers. While I was living in Elizabethtown, I would often drive to Lancaster for certain stores, even though their might be the exact same store a bit closer in Harrisburg. It was a mental thing, and it’s something I’ve noticed affects the mindsets of many of us.

Thankfully, however, this seems to be changing, and at the heart of that change is the region’s arts, music and culture scene. We do ourselves a disservice by staying holed up in our own areas, and I love heading to events in both Harrisburg and York, even though I live in Lancaster.

One of the reasons why I moved to the city of Lancaster was because of its robust culture, and one of the highlights of the city is the monthly First Friday celebration. What makes this work really well in Lancaster is that the downtown area is rather compact, featuring a great mix of businesses and homes. You can walk to just about anywhere in the city and get around easily.

First Friday in Lancaster is marked by the downtown businesses and galleries staying open later than normal, and the streets of the city are always packed when the weather is nice. October’s First Friday will be on October 4th, and as always will feature a wide variety of activities, exhibits, and other events.

Read on for Ken’s top Lancaster picks.


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