Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

It’s the most wonderful time of year… and I’m not talking about Christmas… I’m talking about baseball season! America’s pastime strikes a special feeling in the hearts of Americans across the country, including my own. Opening Day 2017 started yesterday, April 2, with three games and continues today with 12 games.


Without a doubt, my family would be put in the category as Cincinnati Reds “superfans.” After all, the Reds organization is the oldest professional baseball team, so why not root for the first?  I’ve been going to Reds games for as long as I can remember. Here are some old pictures of me at Great American Ballpark.

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My mom and I go to at least one game a year and listen to the rest of the games religiously on the radio. Marty Brennaman is our eyes and ears onto the field, no matter how near or far they’re playing; it’s almost as if we are in on the action ourselves.

Growing up a Cincinnati Reds fan, the ball park has always been one of my favorite places. There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get after you stand in line anxiously waiting to get in the stadium, and then finally making it in the door. Once you’re inside, you are immediately struck with sensory overload. You see and weave through crowds of people, painted in your team’s colors just like you (we are better off “RED”). You smell the freshly grilled hot dogs and salty peanuts. You feel a sense of excitement that you just quite can’t put your finger on. You finally get to your seat. No matter the weather, or how uncomfortable your plastic chair may be in theory, you can’t help but ignore it all and smile when you look out onto the vibrant green field to see your favorite players warming up. After what seems like an eternity of waiting, the first pitch finally sails across the plate. You hear the crack of the bat. What follows is a dynamic struggle between two teams… and one comes out the victor. Some may think baseball is boring, but I think the exact opposite. Watching a baseball game is a magical, unforgettable experience.

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This past weekend, I was excited to see my glorious Reds take the field for the first time this season in an exhibition game versus Louisville’s own Bats, the Reds minor league team. The two teams ended up tying, of course, because really, they are all Reds at heart. I loved getting to see two of my favorite players, Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Billy Hamilton when he was still just a young Bat. Now he’s in the Major League and stealing bases like a pro!

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Opening Day is a magical time, a time when the promises of a new season full of homeruns, strikeouts, stolen bases, and amazing catches seem sure to end in a World Series victory.  Baseball means summer will soon be here. Get to the ballpark. It’s time to play ball! 

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White Hot Chicken Chili

Who doesn’t love a good party – or should I say fiesta? This morning, I opened my Facebook app and noticed I was tagged in an interesting timehop post from my mom. Seven years ago today, we won a Chili Cook-Off at our local Exposition Center. We placed first in the homemade division and second overall, competing against restaurant chefs.

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As the colder weather rolls back into town, I am reminded of my family’s chili recipe. As opposed to a traditional red chili, we make a white chicken chili. White chicken chili is an affordable, healthy, and delicious food that is simple to fix. I am an expert at making this dish because my family and I make it for every special occasion – movie premiers, sporting events, holidays, you name it! I’m going to share with you my family’s award winning “White Hot Chicken Chili” recipe, a sure-fire way to curb the rainy-day (or snowy) blues.

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Go to the grocery store and buy all your food ingredients. You will need: 3-4 chicken breasts, 1 stick of butter, 1 large white onion, ¼ cup flour, 1 can chicken broth, 1 pint half-half, 1 tsp Tabasco sauce, 1 ½ tsp chili powder, ¼ cup chopped jalapeños, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp. cumin, ½ tsp. white pepper, 4.5 oz. (2 cans) chopped green chilis, 4 cans navy beans (drained), shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips. Our secret is that we use chili powder that we purchase from farmers in New Mexico, so it’s high quality.  We also suggest using New Mexico’s famous Hatch’s green chilis, and if possible, Trappey’s navy beans are the best to use.

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Now, get in the kitchen and collect all your tools. You will need a large pot, a wooden spoon, a knife, measuring spoons, and a cutting board. Now you can get to cooking! Cook chicken breasts (preferably grill them, but they can be baked or microwaved) and set aside to cool. Chop onions and sauté them in butter. Lower heat to medium-low. When onion is soft, add flour. Next add half the chicken broth and allow thickening before adding the rest of the chicken broth. Make sure to stir. Repeat process with half-half. Next, add the Tabasco and spices, constantly stirring. Add green chilis and jalapenos, continuing to stir. Add navy beans. Finally, add the chicken. You may choose to pull the chicken in small strips or chop the chicken in small chunks. Warm, but do not boil the chili. Serve topped with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Eat with tortilla chips (instead of crackers as with traditional chili).

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That’s all it takes to successfully create your own delectable white chicken chili. Now, head to the store and whip up a batch because the cold weather is sure to not last long. Now that you know our recipe, it’s like you have officially been inducted into part of my family. Two years ago, we won another chili cook-off at my high school’s homecoming competition. Our white chicken chili was the best, then and now! Time sure does fly! Bon appétit!

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Life Lessons I Learned from Football

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I have always been a football fan. As we inch closer and closer to next Sunday’s Super Bowl LI vs. the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, I am reminded that growing up watching football has taught me some relevant life lessons.  So, get in the super fan spirit and read these ten life lessons I learned from football!

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  1. The best offense is a good defense.

Life isn’t a one-way street. It isn’t all about scoring. It’s all fun and games if you can score 100 points and all, but if the other team can score 101, then all your good offense is irrelevant. Work on defending yourself against others. Know yourself to be able to defend your positions.

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2. Don’t jump off-sides.

Patience is a virtue. Don’t jump the gun. Good things come to those who wait!

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  1. If you have one job, do it well. Kickers have one job, but they are often the ones that win the whole game.

You don’t have to be great at a plethora of skills.  Pursue one passion, and do it to the best of your ability. And for the love of God, don’t miss your field goal attempt.

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  1. Hard work beats talent.

You can have all the natural born skill in the world, but if you do nothing to hone in on your talents and work hard to improve them, a determined person will beat you out.

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  1. No one likes a poor sport.

Being a sore winner won’t score you any favors with anyone, and it sure won’ help you in the popularity department. Be humble not boastful, always.

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  1. Leadership is important. Just ask the QB.

For all great entities, there is a strong leader backing them up. Be the best type of person you can be, and others will seek you as a source of inspiration. The quarterback is the team’s leader. It’s not easy to take that responsibility, but there are great rewards for those who rise to the challenge.

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  1. Inches matter.

When it’s 4th and inches, getting that first down is what’s most important. Pay attention to detail. The little things in life really can add up to the big ones.

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  1. Don’t break the rules.

Break a rule and get a flag. Remember, cheaters never win, and winners never cheat. It will catch up to you in the long run, I promise. So, just don’t do it.

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  1. Teamwork makes the dream work.

There is nothing in this world more powerful than a group of people with motivation who share a common goal. Working collaboratively gets much more accomplished than working on your own. Go, team!

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  1. Never give up.

Anything can happen in the last two minutes of a football game. I have witnessed this many a time. Hail Mary passes, turnovers, and special team big plays can change a game in the final seconds. Life is the same way. Never give up on your goal. If you work hard and believe, nothing can stand in your way.

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I hope this list got you in the Super Bowl spirit. All that’s left to do now is get your favorite snacks, gather some friends, and get ready for the big game!