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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category


With summer in America, baseball is sure to follow. Any more, the major leagues get the limelight and dominate the coverage in nearly every market. To a point, they should. It is important to remember, though, that the other tiers of the sport are just as important, if not more so to the future and growth of baseball. All of the great young draftees and trades get the first shot at any given position, but where do the pros turn when their starters are forced onto the DL list? You’ve got it — Minor League Baseball. This is a level of a great sport that fields a team in just about every major city in the U.S. It’s easier to access, the prices are more affordable and sadly — they’re practically forgotten in today’s bustling societies. You can spend upward of fifty dollars for you and a date to go to a Major League game, and that’s just for the seats. Once you throw in some snacks and souvenirs, the damage to your pocket book is likely to top $100 in a hurry. If you’re attempting to take a family of four out for a day at the old ballpark, it will be five times as much money.

For a fraction of that same level of family funds you could take our family or date out to a local Minor League ballgame and enjoy the sport on more of a pure level. It can be argued that juicing and illegal enhancers will find their way into any level of any sport, but the majority of the players on the Minor League rosters and those of the Class-D farm teams in particular are playing for the love of the game. There are scores of teams to choose from and follow these days, and with the improvements in modern technology you can have your teams at your fingertips.

This is merely an example of what I am referring to: I follow the Martinsburg Bluesox in the Class-D semi-pro Blue Ridge League. You can go to any of their home games for free. Yup, absolutely free. In Class Single-A, I follow the WV Power. Again, you could go to one of their home games with drinks, hats, and snacks included for under $30. In Class Double-A, I’m a fan of the Tennessee Smokies. Their tickets are $8 for adults, and $6.50 for kids. Their gift shop prices are a little steeper, but a day at their park for a family of four would still be well under $50. If you plan your trip right, you can stay at the Hilton Inn and Suites on the hill behind the park. Then you can walk out to the front hill on any home game night and watch the game for free. The last tip that you can use to follow the majority of these teams is to download a free app to your device or phone called ‘Tune-In Radio’. From there, you can search up your favorite team, and then listen to their radio stream live on game nights. Tonight, for example, the Smokies try to even their series with the Huntsville Stars at 7:46 PM. The bottom line, our favorite pastime doesn’t have to drain your bank account , nor is it limited to the big boys under the bright lights.

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Queen City Creamery. Courtesy of Queen City Creamery.

Queen City Creamery. Courtesy of Queen City Creamery.

 

 

Nestled in the Appalachians in the city of Cumberland, MD is one of the region’s hidden gems: the Queen City Creamery. Located at 108 Harrison Street, this little restaurant offers quite a big surprise. This establishment makes chocolate, vanilla and strawberry custards from scratch every day. This is why you’ll only find the big three flavors at Queen City. Not to say that their custards are out of this world, but they won blue ribbons for both their chocolate and vanilla custards  at the National Ice Cream Retailers Association convention this year. Yeah, they’re REAL good.

Their menu offers everything from sundaes to floats and milkshakes. If you’re watching your waistline you can opt to indulge in one of Queen City’s many fruit smoothies. Aside from their well-known frozen treats, Queen City Creamery also has a nice menu for both breakfast and lunch. They offer an assortment of eggs, French toast, sausages and coffees. For lunch the restaurant serves up pitas, wraps and an array of sandwiches, soups and  salads. Take a blast to the past with their old fashioned 1940s styled soda fountain atmosphere. It’s a short hop off of I-68, and is a stop well worth it.

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Nestled in the hills of West Virginia is one of America’s best kept secrets — the city of Buckhannon. This quiet little town is home to one of only a few remaining Main Street districts in the nation and one of the best festivals. The West Virginia Strawberry Festival draws spectators from all over the country every year to the small town of Buckhannon, and it’s quickly approaching. This year the festival is set to happen between May 15 and 19th, and is sure to have something fun for everyone.

As is customary of the Strawberry festival, it will host a fireman’s parade, a carnival, a muscle car parade/show, a plethora of baking contests and stands, and the feature parade. This year the festival committee has added a few pre-festival items to its repertoire to enhance the experience. If you get into town on May 11th, you can get a horse-drawn carriage ride through town, and watch the carriage parade later that evening. After its huge success last year, I’m certain that it will draw another big following this time around, too.

Some of the events that will be happening every day during the Strawberry Festival include: Courthouse entertainment (Strawberry Idol, Opening Ceremonies, the Sweetest Berry Competiton and various musical performances); the carnival hosted by Gambill Entertainment; the quilt exhibit; the photo expo; the art exhibit; Concessions Alley (people come from miles around just to get their mitts on some Chapel Hill sugar cookies!) and various other contests. Speakin’ of Chapel Hill Methodist Church, on Thursday and Friday during the festivities they will be offering some homemade strawberry ice cream, shortcakes and, of course, their world-famous sugar cookies.

Whether it’s the sights, the smells, the sounds or the hospitality of the folks in town the Strawberry Festival will be an event well worth the trip. If you’re looking to experience all of the local charm that this town has to offer, then stroll on over to the ‘Great Finds’ page on this blog. There you will get some great info on a wonderful inn full of charm and flavor. Only being located a few blocks from the courthouse, I’m sure its vacancies will fill up fast for the week.

For more details and information on the Strawberry Festival, please click on the link below:

http://www.wvstrawberryfestival.com/

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With the flu now reaching epidemic levels, it seemed to me a great time to share some tried and true mountian remedies. These will not only help you get over the virus, but they will also help you boost your immune system to hopefully prevent you from even getting it.

1. Get lots of rest.

This one is the best for a reason. It seems so simple, yet we tend to overlook it all of the time. You get so caught up in your day-to-day activities that you wind up neglecting yourself. Your body can’t make the antibodies that it needs to shed the virus if you don’t allow it to recharge. Getting eight to ten hours of good sleep will helpyou keep your body running in ship shape.

2. Keep yourself hydrated.

While regular exercise will also help you in boosting your immune system, if you don’t drink enough water you will still put yourself at risk. If, on the other hand, you already are down with the critter then staying properly hydrated is critical. You will run a fever as your body attempts to fight off the invasion. If you don’t sip at water and juice regularly, your fever and symptoms will be worse. On a normal day, you want to drink 4-6 8-ounce glasses of water each day. While you’re ill, you want to add another 36 ounces on top of that in the form of juices, coffee or hot teas. The warmth and the steam will loosen up the chills and the congestion.

3. Eat your sauerkraut.

This is an old bit of advice that found its way into our mountain culture by way of the German immigrants of long ago. They were right, of course. Eating a serving of kraut once a day will help you boost your immune system. The fermentation in the cabbage triggers your body to produce a higher antibody response.  Besides, have you ever heard of a sick German — other than Hitler? So, the next time you go to the store grab yourself a can of sauerkraut.

4. Get in some raw honey.

A lot of scientific research has shown that raw bee honey is loaded with vitamins and minerals of every sort. Therefore, it would behoove you (pun intended) to ingest a mere spoonful of this raw resource each day both while healthy and while sick. As a word of caution, putting it in something hot will nullify its nutritional content. So, if you want to mix in your tea then do it with lukewarm tea.

5. Take a shot of apple cider vinegar.

Again, this should be done with the raw variety in mind. It too is packed with minerals and nutrients that will boost your body’s defenses against the dreaded virus. As with the honey, only a spoonful a day is necessary for benefit. It won’t taste great, and you can’t mix it with anything, but its benefits will be well worth it.

Now you have five perfectly good ways to get yourself back on track, or keep yourself there. If you do happen to get laid up in bed with this bug, you could entertain yourself with a story about a battle with a virus of a similar sort. Who knows? Maybe it will inspire you!

http://www.amazon.com/Shaygan-ebook/dp/B00ALZ6X0K.

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I’m no expert on this subject, but I can tell you one thing for certain. The cup of dark chocolate hot cocoa that I had over this Christmas was probably the best that I’ve ever had. It all started when I was figuring out what to get my wife for Christmas. She loves hot chocolate. I did some research to find what is considered the best hot cocoa mix in the world. Most of the critics and fellow chocoholics came to a consensus on a company based out of New York called Chocolat Moderne. I’ll give you a head’s up. This ain’t your momma’s hot cocoa. They had several varieties of cocoa to pick from, but I settled on two potions that I thought my wife might enjoy — Midnight Oasis and Snake Charmer. They were a success. My wife loves the Snake Charmer cocoa because of its blend of cinnamon and other Mediterranean spices. I tried both, of course. Wouldn’t want anyone getting a bad batch of cocoa or anything. The Snake Charmer blend had a slight hint of earthy undertones to its palate. I went for the Midnight Oasis blend more myself. It’s over 70% pure cocoa, and is heaven in a cup for any chocoholic.

While we’re on the subject of chocolate, I have to take a few minutes to let y’all in on a little secret that even few native West Virginians know about. It’s a small town nestled in the mountains near the border between Upshur and Randolph Counties called Helvetia. It is a small Swiss community founded back around the Civil War period. There may not be a lot of residents in this little village, but what it lacks in numbers it more than makes up for in culture and tradition. If a wayward traveler were to venture out County Route 46 in the direction of this hidden gem, you would discover a piece of Switzerland tucked away in the spine of the Appalachians. The Helvetia Hutte Hotel and restaurant is one of the top rated eateries in the region. With its buffet-style layout, the hungry adventurer can find an assortment of soups, cobblers, meats, salads, breads and homemade jams. The Beekeeper Inn is a cozy little bed and breakfast that you can find comfortable lodgings with generous hospitality. You will find a great many historic things to see and do if you visit this area of the world, but the best thing to see while you’re there (as a chocolate lover) is the European-style chocolate factory, Shakolad. They’ve been making hand-dipped European chocolates for over 30 years, folks! This is a great little getaway for any chocoholic.

There. I fell better now. Whew! Sure, the Chocolat Moderene is more expensive than your run-of-the-mill hot cocoa packets, but it’s well worth it.

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You wouldn’t think that some good ole boys stirring up trouble in the hollers could teach you a few things about making your blog better. You would be wrong, of course.

1. You’ve gotta make some gooood stuff!

Not everyone in the moonshining market will have someone to sample their wares. The same holds true for you as a blogger. Just because you write it, doesn’t mean that the tidal flood of consumers will come. You have to choose your content wisely. What is the focus of your content? Who are you trying to reach? What is your message? 

2. It’s gotta be the right blend.

Like the secret recipe for a good batch of brew, you too, must find that personal writing balance. You have to figure out how your overall message can be structured into a well-written post that will inform, enlighten and entertain your guests. Just like with moonshine, stronger doesn’t always equate to better.

3. It’s gotta be packaged right.

A moonshiner would spend long hours nearly every day of the week up at his still preparing the next batch of brew. Do you think that he would pour his life’s work and secret family recipe into an old milk jug to sell? Don’t think so, pard. They’d go out of their way to ensure that their sought-after recipe was placed in its best light. That way, the shiners could build customer trust and loyalty. Sound familiar? It should. If you as a writer want your loyal readers to come back to you then you have to gain their trust and loyalty. One of, if not, the best way to do this is to write and package your content in the best light possible. Find a way to make your site design complement your personal writing style. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be presentable.

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We’ve all seen it. You’re driving down a highway or back road, and there it is — splattered all over the pavement. I’m not going to get into the gory details, or draw any chalk outlines, but I think that you get what I’m saying here. Road kill. Have you ever stopped to wonder what lessons, if any, could be taken from that lost beast along the road? What’s that? You never thought in your wildest dreams (or nightmares) that a squirrel frisbee could teach you some valuable information about life? Well, sit right back, and soak in the knowledge, friends!

 

1. You’ve gotta have guts.

  This applies to both the figurative and literal meanings. If you want to be successful in life, or live with few regrets, you’ve gotta have the courage to pursue the goals and dreams that you so desire. If you’ve thought of starting your own small business, entering your painting in the art show, writing the next great American novel, or even running for public office then you’ve gotta muster up the guts to get out there and make it happen.

2. You’ve gotta be able to stare Death square in the eye.

  If you’re going to get out there and pursue your dreams, then you’ve gotta be able to accept defeat on the highest level. There will likely be more times that you have to pick yourself back up out of the dirt and dust yourself off then you’ll win. However, the most successful folks in the world are the ones that are able to take one on the chin, and get right back up and continue to fight for what they want.

3. You’ve gotta be patient.

  Sure, you could sprint right out into your endeavor — guns a-blazin’ — but, then you’re likely to get squashed flat. Take your time. Study your surroundings. How are people that are successful in your endeavor doing it? How did they get there? How are similarly aspiring folks getting by? Can you learn from their successes or mistakes? Be patient, and do your homework. You’ll be able to dodge the darting pitfalls of your chosen goals if you do.

 

  Didn’t think that it was possible for me to give you inspiration utilizing some two-dimensional wildlife? Oh, have ye little faith. I hope that this seriously helps you on your way to getting whatever it is that you want out of this life. It’s a one-way ticket after all.

 

  What are your goals or dreams? How are you getting along with them? Share your success stories and lessons learned below!

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