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Archive for the ‘Fun’ 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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Being a dad of three wonderful children myself, I feel that it is my duty — nay, obligation — to share some of the most closely guarded secrets to our Ancient Order of Dad. These little-known truths have been entrusted to dads all around the world for generations. If you are a new dad, or are soon to be one then save this post. Stick it in a secure location for future reference because it just might save your hide.

1. Intentionally screw up the household chores. Put the dishes in the washer upside down. Fold the clothes inside out. Eventually, she’ll get pissed and do them all herself.

2. Do not screw up taking out the trash. It will likely be one of your few escapes from the house.

3. When your baby goes to DEFCON 2 (poops – and not if, but when), the first couple of times are cute. That wears off somewhere around day three. At the first sign of a DEFCON 2 emergency make yourself busy. I personally tend to randomly pick up a screwdriver and do something. I’ve been know to be ‘screwing in the power socket’ for no known reason, or gassing up the mower to mow grass in the middle of February.

4. They’re never too young to try a nip of beer. Especially if they won’t go to sleep. Ok, I’m just kidding on this one, or am I?

5. Once they start crawling, your baby will get into everything… and I mean EVERYTHING! Now would be a fantastic time to strategically redeploy your porn collection.

6. If you don’t have an old radio set then now would be a great time to invest in one. Your Sunday football will soon be replaced (if it hasn’t already) by the Wiggles reruns, and that Fat Purple Nightmare that isn’t your Aunt Edna’s ass.

7. If you’re not using them by now, two little words will save you more grief than any others… ‘yes, dear’.

8. If your wife is still pregnant, you will (at some point in the next several months) find yourself half-awake at 3AM baking brownies for reasons beyond your wary mind’s comprehension. Just go with it. You’ll thank us later.

9. When your child is first-born, never turn to your wife and say, ‘congratulations, hon. It’s a lizard.’ I still have the scar from that one.

10. There’s no law out there saying that you can’t customize your baby’s stroller so that you can maintain some semblance of manhood in public… flames on the sides, fog lights, fuzzy dice, an 8-ball hood ornament or two…

You now have been indoctrinated into the Order. You must vow to guard these sacred laws of wisdom with your lives. You mustn’t divulge them no matter how yummy that cake looks. Welcome to the Ancient Order of Dad. Go forth, and procrastinate, my brother.

 

 

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New Weekly Feature Page


Do you have a business or product that you would like to have promoted to the readers here? If your business or product is located in, or is related to Appalachia then leave a comment on the page with your contact information and the product or business description. If chosen, you will be reviewed and your business or product will be featured on the Feature Page for the week! Good luck

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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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Getting into the spirit of the Holidays, I’ve decided to share an annual favorite of my family — old-fashioned chocolate fudge! I’ll give you fair warning from the beginning, this stuff is very addictive. Ok, here’s what you’ll need to get started:

3 cups of chocolate chips (Ghiradelli’s dark, or Nestle milk chocolate)

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

2 TBSP of margarine

1 tsp of vanilla extract

A pan to place the fudge in

 

Right! Once you have these magical ingredients assembled, follow the steps outlined below:

Place the condensed milk, chocolate chips and margarine in a medium-sized bowl over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly to ensure that none of it burns. Once these ingredients have melted to a smooth glossy consistency, add the vanilla extract in and stir over low heat for an additional 3-5 minutes. Pour the fudge into a pan and set in your freezer for 1 1/2 hours. Cut into 1 inch squares and enjoy. Refrigerate the rest until ready for service.

 

The fudge should have a glossy finish and be taffy-like in consistency. Hope this adds to your enjoyment of the holidays!

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