Mandy Boyle

NEPA-er with Moxie. Writer. Sometimes Actor. Nerdy Girl.

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One More Sleep ‘Til BlogCon!

NEPA BlogCon

This morning when I woke up, I smiled.

Because NEPA BlogCon was only a day away.

If you’ve kept up with me, you know that I co-organize this regional blogging and social media conference with some amazing people. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for the support we get from our sponsors, our volunteers, our speakers, and of course, my colleagues Karla and Michelle.

We’ve worked hard all year to put this together. We’ve planned, we’ve talked strategy, we’ve contacted and networked our butts off. We’ve coordinated, updated spreadsheets, and messaged each other at all hours. We shook hands. We went to meetings. We went to meetings that weren’t ours.

And it’s all worth it. Every year, since this whole thing was born out of the idea that NEPA should have something better, I’ve been inspired. When people believe in something so much, do the work, and champion their cause it’s hard to ignore what that brings.

I know that NEPA BlogCon has brought hope to our region. We’re not as behind the times as we claim to be. We’re not uneducated or unmotivated. Hundreds of people who come to BlogCon every year show the exact opposite.

I’ve seen the look on their faces as ideas bubble up and out of them. That spark and pure…joy. Yes, it’s a lot like joy.

I know that NEPA BlogCon has helped people. We get tweets, email messages, and have conversations with people who tell us how NEPA BlogCon helped them get a job, find what they love to do, and gave them courage. We’ve heard from the non-profits who put the money we raised to good use in delivering much-needed services to our community.

And most importantly, we’ve seen the joy in the faces of 16 girls who spent a week of their summer learning about technology. They didn’t want to go home. And neither do we.


Sometimes I’m asked why I do this every year – why I spend so much of my time meeting and planning and emailing. I do it for joy.

The joy of knowing that I’m helping people in our area do something better – to be better.

The joy of meeting new people every year who inspire me to always look at the world with wonder and excitement.

The joy of working alongside talented volunteers and co-organizers, from the beginning to where we are now. People who make me want to work harder, learn more, and try fearlessly. The founders of this whole gig – Karla, Michelle, and Leslie.

The joy of always learning something new from speakers and presenters who bring so much to this area, this event, and to the world.

And tomorrow, I’ll get to share in that joy again.

What a gift it is to be able to do that. 

What Washed Windows Can Do

Photo By: nefasth

Window washers were outside the Steamtown Mall several times over the past week, and with each swipe of their sponges, I saw a little bit  more hope from the place.

The first glimmers that something was happening popped up about a week ago when my co-workers and I took our daily walk over to the Starbucks on the street level.

There was a flurry of activity that morning. There were large wooden standees of comic book styled characters and signs moved into the vacant store windows along Lackawanna Avenue. I don’t recall the exact words, but they said something along the lines of “Wait until you see what’s coming.”

Dead trees were replaced with live ones. Topiary bushes were placed in planters long filled with trash and cigarette butts. A crew on ladders scrubbed the scum and filth off the windows and stainless steel around the doorways.

I smiled, watching them. Because it was a step.

And as a Scrantonian, I can tell you that recognizing that first step can be hard. If you’re not keeping up with what’s happening in the news (or what’s happening behind the scenes, if you do some homework), you hear rumors and get your information through that lovely grapevine that snakes through the valley.

“Someone bought the mall.”

“I heard a real estate guy who turns buildings into lofts bought it. It’ll be apartments.”

“We really need a grocery store downtown. Let’s hope they’ll finally put one in.”

“Nothing will change.”

“They’re gonna flip it.”

“It’ll be a parking lot.”

“Maybe they’ll turn it into a Hunger Games arena.”

Those buzzings? They risk that fragile part of you that wants to be optimistic about the future.

Because words are not action.

But – words can motivate action.

It’s why the conversations around the Electric City Marketplace have been such a driving force for change in our downtown. It’s why architects and entrepreneurs have given their two cents, advice, and support. It’s why I’m continuously reinvigorated by the debates I have with friends, fellow professionals, and Scrantonians who all have skin in the game.

We want to see this place get better.

We want our city to be better.

Dammit, we want something good to happen to the Steamtown Mall property.

When I heard it was bought at auction by someone local who seemed to have had success in reinvigorating other properties, I felt it was a positive move.

I don’t know this guy or know much about his business. But I had hope that this was going to be better than the status quo.

Today, I walked through the Mall and the feeling of possibility was unmistakable. While far from crowded, there were people. There were signs for patrons to get easy access to wheelchairs and strollers. It looked clean.

Although small, there was action - and that means something.

Photo By: Daytona24

Even if it’s just a feeling when you’re standing inside a long neglected building, flooded with sunlight from newly washed windows.


Let’s Talk About the Wedding Food

When I think about what excited me most in planning our wedding, choosing the food was ranked right up there with the dress.


Food is a big deal in my life. It brings me happiness. I enjoy cooking and baking. Trying a new food? Thrilling.

I think the whole love affair with food comes from having a grandmother and a great-grandmother who both put a lot of focus on ensuring everyone in their nests were well fed.

For a 2-year stint in junior high, I wanted to be a pastry chef. Today, I get my fix by hosting brunches for the theater ensemble I’m in and trying Chopped challenges in our kitchen.

Picking the food for our wedding was a fun experience. It was pretty stress-free, too (thanks, Appletree!) But, I did take away a few lessons from it:

  • Pick things you like. Both the Mister and I chose foods that we personally enjoyed eating for our menu, but we balanced that out with things we knew everyone would like or appreciate.
  • Be sensitive to your guests. We have a lot of food allergies and lifestyles to be mindful of, so when we planned our menu, we kept that in mind. Having our guests have a good time is really important, so we thought about what people could and couldn’t eat. We chose a good variety of dishes so that there was something for everyone.
  • Don’t take yourselves too seriously. The best wedding food I ever had was at a backyard BBQ. Keeping things simple is usually the best way to go. Don’t try to do something super fancy if that’s not your gig. Don’t know what it is? You don’t have to serve it. We went with what we considered to be our comfort foods.

I’m really excited to try what we have planned. Here’s a teaser including a few of the items:

  • Mini Assorted Grilled Cheese & Reuben Station Featuring Tomato Soup
  • Mashed Potato Bar, including Buttermilk Ranch with Jack Cheese and Scallions, Cheddar, & Homestyle potatoes
  • Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms with Roasted Grape Tomato and Green Onions in a Bourbon Glaze
  • Sculptured Fresh Fruit & Cheese Display with Signature Dip & Assorted Crackers
  • Carved Encrusted Fresh Pork Loin Encrusted w/ Italian Seasoning, Lemon, Garlic & Panko
  • French Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot Fudge

Hungry? So are we.


A Worldview on Cookouts

As Liz Lemon would say,

“Can I share with you my worldview? All of humankind has one thing in common: the sandwich. I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich.”

I agree with Liz when she says that everyone just wants to sit down and enjoy a sandwich. I know I do.

But I also believe that everyone – absolutely everyone – deserves to experience the joys of the backyard cookout. Or at the very least, the act of eating food outside in the company of others.

BBQ Photo By: Kenny.Kim

I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a few this summer, each one renewing my soul and faith in mankind.

Over burgers (or veggie burgers, if you prefer), hot dogs, and pasta salad, we’ve shared laughs and told stories. Played Kan Jam. Put on sunblock and bug spray and sat in the grass with our shoes off. Drank some sort of shandy beer. Debated the virtues of Jurassic World and 90’s R&B. Noshed on some sort of ridiculously good dip that someone’s friend made. Made plans for when we’d see each other next.

Summer should be like this for everyone. 

Relaxing, enjoying a good meal with loved ones, and reveling in the knowledge that despite what that nagging voice in your mind is screaming at you, you can take the moment for what it is: paradise.

Take another bite of that burg’, buddy. It’s gonna be okay.


I’m glad I have a hobby where I can be someone else for a while.

For the past week, I’ve gotten to be Sola – a lonely gal with an overactive (and somewhat abusive) imagination.

A few months ago, I was Laura Keene, a figure of both figurative and historical significance.

I’ve been a high school reunion attendee with a dark secret, a hostess of an ill-fated cocktail party, a wife resigned to her future, a dead songstress from the 1920’s, a woman struggling with moving on, and more.

Theater is a heck of a lot of fun for me because I get to play with emotions and characters within myself that I otherwise wouldn’t have explored.

This week, I’ll be Sola again in Gaslight Theater Company’s Playroom: Master Bedroom in a piece called, “In the Dark” by Rachel Strayer.

Featuring the works of local and regional playwrights, Playroom is a wicked cool concept. Each year, a room in a house is chosen and shorts corresponding with that room are selected from a pool of talented writers. Each play shares the same setting – but the stories and characters are all very different.

This year’s production offers a diverse menu of pieces to satisfy all tastes:

  • Storybook characters dealing with reality
  • A comedienne experiencing the loss of a close friend and writing partner
  • Little Red Riding Hood in a way you never would’ve imagined
  • A swinger’s party with shock factor
  • What really happens when you have an Open House
  • A family dealing with demonic possession
  • And then there’s me and my big, fat imagination

All in a well-appointed bedroom. (Trust me, it’s fresh.)

Every time I’ve worked with Gaslight I’ve loved the experience – even more so when I get to hang with some of my fellow NVE members and friends!

And I think you should get out to see it too. Because theater is fun.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll get bit by the bug to be someone else for awhile, too.



Gaslight’s fourth annual Playroom features seven original one act plays written by regional playwrights, and local actors, directors, and designers! Playroom runs for two weekends this summer. Tickets can be purchased at the door or reserved online at

***DISCLAIMER! Some plays in Playroom: Master Bedroom feature strong language and adult content; mature audiences only.***

//// WHEN ////
Thursday, August 6 at 8 p.m.
Friday, August 7 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, August 8 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, August 9 at 2 p.m.

/// COST ///
Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students/seniors. Seating is general admission and limited so be sure to arrive early or make reservations!

//// WHERE ////
Gateway Shopping Center – Unit 7B in Kingston, PA
(Between Biggie Burger and Cartridge World)


UNTITLED PLAY by B. Garret Rogan
Directed by Dave Reynolds
Man: Rob Klubeck
Woman: Kristen Peterman
O.S. Man: Mark Henry
Second Woman: Jane Rodella

OPEN HOUSE by Emily Halbing
Directed by Tom Taraszewski
Landlord: DJ Nat
Hank: John Segear
Sharon: Mollie Dooley
Young Woman: Kimmie Leff
Young Man: Mark Henry
Man #2: Lee Thomas

by Kait Burrier
Directed by Nick Klem
Prince: Josh Alberola
Princess: Kimmie Leff

OUT OUT by Matthew S. Hinton
Directed by Dave Reynolds
Rich: Dane Bower
Carol: Anne Rodella

TRAGICOMIC by Lukas Tomasacci
Directed by John Bubul
Mary: Kristen Peterman
Agent: Amy Brown
Voice Overs: John Bubul, Amanda Kotch, Natalie Pacileo

by Jenny Hill
Directed by Matthew S. Hinton
Wolf: Michael Rawl
Mom: Mollie Dooley
Daughter 1: Olivia Caraballo
Daughter 2: Jessica Podskoch
Man 1: DJ Nat
Man 2: John Segear
Man 3: Dane Bower

IN THE DARK by Rachel Luann Strayer
Directed by Drake Nester
Sola: Mandy Boyle
Figure: April Holgate

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