Angela Cornell

Professional Writer

November 6, 2017
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The St. Louis Vacation, pt 2: Sleeping Arrangements

After your first full day of vacation, the thing utmost on your mind is probably getting a good night’s sleep. After all, without rest, all you’re going to have is a cranky family with no ability to separate people when they start growling at each other. Although there are many excellent hotels and campgrounds in the St. Louis area, here are four worth noting.

#1: The Cheshire Hotel

For a mix of a “good hotel” feel with British refinement, check out the Cheshire Hotel. It has several types of rooms to choose from, is pet-friendly, and amenities include an outdoor pool, a daily full English breakfast, daily tea service, complimentary chocolates, bicycles for close attractions, and restaurants located in the building.

Better than most places, this hotel understands that traveling can be stressful for kids… and a challenge for mom and dad. Therefore, they offer a few kid-friendly amenities just for the more youthful members of your family. Some, like the hotel-wide scavenger hunt, is meant to keep the kiddos occupied inside by looking for special aspects of this establishment. Others, like the “Royal Kids Club” backpack helps keep them occupied no matter where they are in the city.

#2: 370 Lakeside RV Campground

This 4-star campground is located about thirty minutes from the Gateway Arch, which is a perfect for getting away from it all. Both primitive and RV sites are available. Located on 140 acres, they offer many simple back-to-nature activities, like fishing, hiking, sand volleyball, archery, and watercraft activities. For the guests’ convenience, there is free WIFI throughout the grounds.

#3: Klondike Park

For those who prefer an outdoors experience during their vacations, there’s Klondike Park, which is a tent-only facility (no RV’s, please) with picturesque cabins for those who don’t like sleeping on the ground. Don’t get concerned when the kids complain about not having WIFI in the park, because this park has a ton of amazing features, like biking and hiking trails, fishing, family activities, and nature programs.

#4: Eureka Jellystone Family Resort and Campground

Jellystone Park has multiple attractions. For those who prefer the great outdoors, this facility has a large campground that’s accessible to tents and RV’s alike! Besides the typical fire ring and picnic table, there is free WIFI throughout the grounds. If you’ve always wanted to try camping, but don’t want to invest in all the equipment, this is the place to go. They have permanent tents, complete with air conditioning, and can house up to 6 people! However, if you prefer to enjoy nature from a distance, check out the family resort cabins. But whether you decide to sleep in a cabin or tent, Jellystone Park has the best kid-friendly atmosphere for miles around. Amenities include an outdoor pool, mini golf, video arcade, arts and crafts, and outdoor programs, just to name a few. Altogether, that makes Jellystone the best family-friendly resort in the area.

 

This post originally appeared on Daring Penguin Travel Blog, published January 10, 2016. It was part of a larger article, 30+ Places to Check Out in St. Louis.

November 3, 2017
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Singleness… A Gift from God?

I think I’m the last person in the world to get into a serious relationship. Seriously. Just this year alone, I’ve attended four or five weddings… and all the brides and grooms were younger than me.

I could go on, but I think you get it. So, give me a sec to snap out of my whining mode and maybe we can actually have a decent conversation about how I believe singleness is intended to be a blessing and a gift from God.

So, why do I think that? First, can we agree on something? If something is good, it’s a gift from God. Yes? … I see that shaking head in the back. Well, here’s the proof text for you: James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” So now, we have to make a bridge from “everything good is a gift from God” to “singleness is good.”

You may be thinking right now, “But it hurts so much! Every time I see someone else’s status change on Facebook, it reminds me of what I don’t have! I feel like I’m sitting around waiting for God to give me the best part of my life! That is… if He’s intending on giving it to me at all.”

You’re probably right on all counts. But before you click the X in rightful indignation, let me explain. Yes, you might be sitting and waiting. Yes, you’re waiting specifically for that special someone. And yes, it’s agonizing to be patient (especially when it seems like none of your other friends have to be). But, what if you could turn that waiting into something beautiful?

See, the key word in my thesis is intended. Singleness is intended to be a blessing and a gift from God. It’s kinda like the parable of the minas. In Luke 19:11-27, Jesus tells a story about a rich man who leaves town to be crowned king of a distant country and invests his wealth in his servants’ business ventures. Each one gets one mina (that’s about $19,660 by today’s standards1,2). Several of the servants do well… one savvy servant even multiplies the investment tenfold! Then there’s the servant who is so frightened that he’ll make a mistake that it makes him lazy. He refuses to be purposeful with the mina given to him, and when his master returns, all hell breaks loose.

The master intended the mina to be a good gift. It was the break his servants desperately needed to get his feet on the ground and make it in the business world! Plus, the reward wasn’t just a pat on the back. The first guy I mentioned—the one who made ten minas from the one—was awarded with a governorship over ten cities in the master’s new kingdom.

Despite the master’s best intentions, the lazy servant decides that it’s not worth it. Maybe he had a history of crippling anxiety. Maybe the responsibility of returning the investment with interest scared the bejebers out of him. Maybe he had great dreams and plans, but never sought—or implicated—training on how to realize them. Maybe his favorite show came on during the city business leaders’ meetings and he didn’t want to get off his keister. Whatever the case was, the master rightfully blamed the lazy servant for not taking initiative to overcome his personal hurdles.

I believe that singleness—especially when the single years stretch five, fifteen, thirty or more years beyond “normal”—is a mina. Yes, it’s painful at times. Occasionally when I see my best friends snuggling with their significant others, I want to curl into a little ball and cry. There are days that I am absolutely furious with God that I’m nearly 29 and no solid Christian guy has actually told me in no uncertain terms that he’s interested.

And then there are the moments—that come more frequently than the bad ones—that I thank God that he has given me this mina, which has proved to be a blessing not only to me but also to those around me. I’m not saying that I’ve come up with ten minas from the one I’ve been given (I’m not sure I’ve multiplied what I’ve been given by two), but I am saying that, as hard as it is, it’s a good and perfect gift, straight from the One who illuminates heaven and earth.

Don’t. Waste. It.

1What is a “Mina”? How much was it worth?

2How Does Your Income Stack Up Against the Average American’s?

October 30, 2017
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5 Great Restaurants in Louisville, KY

The old proverb goes “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food.” Or in other words, “Your body ain’t gonna function long without some vittles!” Although no one can take a trip without eating, many travelers like to know where to get the best tastes while they’re away from home. So, next time you’re in the bluegrass region of Kentucky, check out these restaurants in Louisville.

Joe’s Crab Shack

Joe’s Crab Shack is located on the Louisville Waterfront and is an absolutely beautiful restaurant. It’s decorated to look like a ship, complete with boat-looking floor boards, a picture window overlooking the Ohio River, and enough memorabilia to make any ship captain proud. But that’s only first impressions…the best is yet to come! Once you’re seated, fold your menu and let your mouth water as you peruse the wide variety of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Whatever you choose, this is a meal you definitely don’t want to miss!

Joe’s Crab Shack is located at 131 River Road.

Nord’s Bakery

This family-owned local favorite is known for its fantastic doughnuts. But don’t forget their pastries, cookies, and cakes! Basically, anything they produce is amazing. Although most patrons will tell you that you need to try the maple bacon long johns, it can be difficult to snag one, unless you plan on going early enough to beat the crowd. To make things better, their prices are reasonable and the atmosphere definitely has the “local corner bakery” vibe. So, whether you’re looking for the perfect place for a mid-morning coffee break or an airy coffee shop to work or read a book, this is where you want to go.

Nord’s Bakery is located at 2118 S Preston Street.

Zoe’s Kitchen

This restaurant is a great place to stop in for some Mediterranean fast food, and has three locations throughout Louisville! The friendly, personable staff is ever willing to assist those who breeze through their door. They also have a wide array of fresh, appealing options. Although you can’t go wrong with any of the soups, kebabs, sandwiches, or salads on the menu, you’ll definitely want to try their to-die-for hummus. Their open and airy seating area is perfect for enjoying the view of the city. To top off the eating experience, lively music fills the restaurant.

Zoe’s Kitchen locations:
500 W Jefferson
3723 Lexington Rd
4126 Summit Plaza Drive

Harvest Kitchen

Harvest Restaurant takes a grassroots spin on the term “farm to table restaurant.” Not only are all the ingredients produced in a 100 mile radius of the place (except coffee), but also the shop is owned by a farmer. This eatery has a warm, country-esque atmosphere, brought on by the streamed bluegrass music, real wood tables, and friendly staff. They serve incredible southern style foods that you will enjoy to every last bite. This locally owned restaurant is a must-visit!

Harvest Restaurant is located at 624 E Market St.

Rivue

This unique, fine dining experience is located at the apex (literally) of the Galt Hotel in downtown Louisville. What makes it unique? Well, the location for one. Since it’s on the 25th floor of one of the largest buildings in the area, each window (and by the way, all the outside walls are windows) affords you with a different view of the city. However, don’t get too attached to your view because the floor slowly moves, affording you a panoramic view of the area.

The food is also spectacular. They have a fine selection of appetizers, seafood, pastas, and meats. Beyond that, they serve decadent wines and mouth-watering desserts. They are especially known for the Rivue for Two, which is a selection of king crab legs, oysters, and shrimp, with three different types of sauce. This restaurant is the epitome of upper echelon dining, and is well worth the visit.

Rivue is located at 140 N Fourth St, 25th floor.

Whether you live near Louisville, you’re passing through on vacation, or you’re in town for a business trip, there is something here to temp your taste buds. So check out one of these incredible restaurants and figure out for yourself why National Geographic labeled Louisville the #1 food city in the world.

 

This article was originally published on the Daring Penguin Travel Blog

October 23, 2017
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The St. Louis Vacation, pt. 1: Downtown

Getting ready to go on vacation can be time-consuming and stressful. After you decide which city (or cities) you’re visiting, you’ll need to decide which attractions you want to visit, where to sleep and eat, your vacation budget, and most importantly, how to avoid as much whining and complaining as possible from the backseat of the car. It’s not a job for the faint of heart, especially if you’re going to a lively area like St. Louis.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be easier. This series of articles seek to outline several activities you can choose from to schedule a full vacation’s worth of memorable activities that your family.

Downtown St. Louis

Ever since St. Louis was founded, the downtown area has been a bustling spot. Although it no longer has a thriving fur trade, like it did in the 1760’s, it is full to overflowing of shops, tourist attractions, and entertainment. This makes it a fantastic place to begin your vacation!

#1: The Gateway Arch

Of course, one of the first places you should visit is St. Louis’ crowning glory, The Gateway Arch, which can easily be described as an architectural masterpiece. Measuring at 630 feet tall, it’s a marvel to behold, especially when the sun glints off the three stainless steel sides. But more spectacular still is seeing St. Louis from the observation deck at the pinnacle of the monument. Unfortunately, due to limited space on the deck, only so many sightseers are allowed up at a time. Therefore, you want to be sure to get your tram ride tickets early, as they often sell out quickly. These tickets can be purchased either at the visitor center, which is located underneath the arch, or at The Old Courthouse.

While you wait, enjoy the shops under the arch and watch the historical orientation videos. One explains how the Arch was constructed and the other explains the evolution of the Greater St. Louis area. Check out the Museum of Westward Expansion, which tells the story of America’s push into the untamed wilds beginning in the pre-Lewis and Clark era through the complete settlement of the “Wild West.” With interactive and lifelike displays, you won’t want to miss stories of Indian raids and daring pioneers, details about how and why different treaties didn’t work, and archaeological discoveries in the local area. This fun museum requires at least two or more hours to explore properly, so plan accordingly!

#2: The Old Courthouse

A corresponding museum to (and within walking distance of) the Gateway Arch is The Old Courthouse. This museum is completely free, and brings history to life by highlighting the Dred and Harriet Scott Case (an African American man and his wife who sued his master for their family’s freedom and won). Although it’s not a very big museum and only takes about an hour to view, it has received hundreds of very positive reviews. Even kids enjoy it!

Besides the fascinating history, this building has been restored to its historic glory. Visitors are awe-struck by its elegance and character, and are especially drawn to the decorative dome and artwork tastefully placed around the premises. Besides, in between looking at murals and displays, you can purchase tickets for the Gateway Arch observation deck and avoid the line at the visitor center!

#3: Tour Busch Stadium

Whether it’s ball season or not, the Cardinals’ home field is always open for guided tours. Enjoy viewing the field from places the public typically isn’t allowed to go, like the radio press box and the Cardinals’ dugout, as well as the Champion’s Club to see the World Series trophies. Once everything is said and done, you even get a discount at the Officials Cardinals Team Store with your ticket stub!

If you decide to take your trip to St. Louis during baseball season, please note that these tours are not offered on home game and special event days, so be sure to call ahead first. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (314-345-9000), or day-of at the Gate 3 ticket window.

#4: Cardinals Nation

But of course, after a tour of the Stadium, everyone’s sure to be hungry. Head over to Cardinals Nation, a unique restaurant/sports bar with all sorts of toothsome dishes. While you’re there, look through the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame, which has memorabilia from across the ages. You’ll be able to sit in a replica of the radio press box, and hold actual bats used by some of the most famous baseball players on the team. If you consider yourself to be any kind of Cardinals fan or you really like a good burger or quesadilla, you really should check this place out.

#5: Citygarden

Citygarden is another attraction within walking distance of the Arch. It’s filled with all sorts of really cool features like fountains, perfect for wading. And all along the wide sidewalks, there are sculptures, a varied collection that is definitely worth viewing. To make sure you see everything, download the free Citygarden App, which gives you a guided tour via a GPS map.

#6: Downtown Carriage Ride

These 30- or 60-minute relaxing little trips are offered every weather-permitting evening and you don’t even need a reservation! Begin your journey in front of the Gateway Arch, the Spaghetti Factory, or in front of the Hyatt Hotel and see a view of the city from a slower-paced perspective. Take it from someone who can speak from personal experience: your kids will never forget riding in a shimmery coach and driving by stores, sites, and the river with the cool evening breeze blowing gently past their faces.

#7: A Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Factory Tour

Okay, I want you to think about the first time you watched or read Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Did you wish that you could have been one of the people on the tour? Well, even though it’s not a chocolate factory imagined by Ronald Dahl, the Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Factory (one chocolate for each child in the founder’s family) does offer tours almost every half hour between 9 AM and 3 PM. This free tour takes you to the factory floor to let you watch professional candy makers form chocolates by hand and even allow you to taste a sampling of the chocolates and candies made there. Then, if you’re interested in more, you can purchase tickets to see the tasting room, where you can receive more chocolate samples! Reservations are not necessary, but close-toed shoes are required in order to take the tour.

#8: The Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden is a glorious haven set on 79 acres and functions as a rich, natural habitat for flora and a calming oasis for humans. Featuring an amazing array of domesticated flowering and non-flowering plants alike, this park is a center for scientific advancement. It contains attractions like an archaeological wonder in and of itself, the Climatron, that is a climate-controlled geodesic dome housing a year-round greenhouse for tropic plants (like banana and cacao trees) and some rarer ones like endangered orchids and the double coconut.

#9: The Butterfly House

Also on Botanical Garden grounds is the Butterfly House, a popular attraction that allows visitors to interact with over 60 types of tropical butterflies year-round! These tame, exotic creatures aren’t afraid to land on your arm; nor is it uncommon to watch a butterfly emerge from its cocoon, watch as a caterpillar eats a leaf. You can also go outside to one of the butterfly gardens and observe local butterfly species live out their day.

#10: Go Rock Climbing at The Upper Limits

Although it’s not for everyone, rock climbing at the Upper Limit is a fun activity to do with your whole family. And if you’ve never climbed a rock wall before, that’s not a problem. A staff member will give you a brief orientation on climbing and safety. The goal is simple: get to the ceiling or as close as you possibly can. The better your fancy footwork and upper body strength, the higher you’ll get. The family fee of $45 (or $14 for adults and $12 for kids under 10) is good all day, so you can test abilities over and over!

#11: Go on a Riverboat Cruise

Ever wondered what it was like for Mark Twain and his contemporaries to travel by riverboat? Book a cruise on a riverboat that will take you up and down the Mississippi to find out. These boats will take you back 150 years to a time when river travel by paddle-wheel boats was the way to go. There are a variety of cruises offered: one-hour cruises, dinner cruises for a romantic evening, as well as several specialty cruises.

#12: See a Performance at the Fox Theatre

In today’s day and age of the silver screen, many people forget about the magic of the stage. What would be a better time to enjoy a musical than during your vacation? Head over to the internationally renown Fabulous Fox Theatre. Although it is rather unassuming on the outside, the inside is extremely ornate and feels very much like an old vaudeville stage. Broadway productions only takes up half of the Fox’s performances; the other half of the performances are famous entertainers like Riverdance, PianoGuys, and Andy Cohen & Anderson Cooper. .No matter what you get to see, it’ll be an experience you won’t forget.

 

This post originally appeared on Daring Penguin Travel Blog, published January 10, 2016. It was part of a larger article, 30+ Places to Check Out in St. Louis.

October 16, 2017
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5 Unique Washington, D.C. Restaurants

When vacationing, most people want to experience new and exciting things that will create life-long memories. Some people do that by shopping in local stores and malls. Others like visiting unique bars. And then there are those who enjoy perusing museums and historical sites. But regardless of how people like filling their time while on vacation, there’s one activity that everyone partakes in while traveling, and that’s eating.

Like every aspect of taking a trip, deciding where to eat requires making a choice: do you eat at your favorite coast-to-coast franchises where you’re familiar with every taste or do you venture out and explore the unique flavors of the town you’re visiting? I’ll give you a hint: visiting new restaurants will give you more opportunities to make those life-long memories that will make your trip pleasantly unforgettable.

Founding Farmers

Founding Farmers could technically be considered a field-to-table restaurant. All of their ingredients, perishable or not, are specially selected from family farmers across the country (of course, all their fresh foods like vegetables, eggs, and meats are brought in from local farmers every day). Cooking with fresh ingredients is a vital part of Founding Farmers’ vow to produce a “true food and drink” experience for everyone who walks through their door.

Since they’re devoted to giving your taste buds a meal they’ll never forget, the chefs, cooks, and bakers at Founding Farmers make every dish in-house. This dedication to excellence has earned them 4- and 5-star ratings and multiple awards. They are well-known for their signature dishes, like Devilish Eggs Seafood Combo, Steak and Enchiladas, and Rotisserie Chicken. They also sport a wide range of hand-selected cocktails, beers, and wines and enough desserts to tempt even the most reluctant sweet tooth.

Gadsby Tavern

No one can go to Washington, D.C. without experiencing history. The city is practically gushing it! The restaurant venue is no exception. One of the oldest historic restaurants, the Gadsby Tavern, can be found in Alexandria and has been serving lavish food and drink since 1770. During the late 18th century, it was frequented by public figures like George Washington, John Adams, and almost all of the rest of the founding fathers.

Their tradition of hospitality continues even now. The restaurant part of this historical site is now in what used to be the City Hotel. This offers modern guests the opportunity to enjoy delicious and historic dishes in one of several dining rooms. And who knows? Maybe when you visit, you’ll eat in a room where George Washington once slept! Oh, and did I mention that the wait staff is dressed in authentic colonial period costumes?

You’re probably wondering, “If people now eat in the hotel part of the site, what happened to the old tavern, where meals were served back in the day?” Well, I’m glad you asked. That is now is a public museum that outlines the history of the Gadsby Tavern.

Eamonn’s: A Dublin Chipper

Eamonn’s is an Irish pub that is well-known for fish and chips. But that’s not all they serve. You can get sausage, a burger, chicken bites, their specialty fish platter featuring cod, basa, and prawn, or the fish of the day. If you’re interested in satisfying your sweet tooth, no worries. They serve ice cream and some fried desserts, like fried candy bars, fried bananas, and fried dough balls.

The classic Celtic taste isn’t the only thing that makes this restaurant special. They also have a speakeasy above the pub called PX. If the blue light bulb on the Columbus Street storefront is shining, it’s open for business. If not, they’re closed. This bar has successfully brought back the golden age in its atmosphere and architecture, making you feel as though you’ve just stepped into the 1920s. And one more thing: the general manager, Todd Thrasher, is known as the best mixologist around. So when you walk in the door, you know you’re in for a treat.

Ambar

While we’re on the topic of ethnic restaurants, let’s talk about Ambar. This eatery has a distinct flavor that hails from the Balkan Peninsula, an area that includes countries like Slovenia, Croatia, and Romania to the north and extends all the way down to Greece and parts of Turkey in the south. Along with its strong culture, history, and climate, the Balkan Peninsula boasts of amazing foods that combine the best of Greek, Asian, southern European, and Mediterranean flavors.

The distinct tastes of the old country isn’t the only thing that makes Ambar unique. It’s also the atmosphere, which combines the finest traditions of American and Balkan dining, giving customers a distinct and memorable experience.

The Original Ben’s Chili Bowl

Not all of Washington’s unique restaurants are upper class or expensive. Take Ben’s Chili Bowl, for example. This local favorite serves a classic menu of hot dogs, burgers, subs, salads, and of course, chili.

Founded in 1958, this restaurant has maintained that Nifty Fifties feel, and long-term customer loyalty proves that this shop has the corner on the market when it comes to customer service. Besides a friendly atmosphere, Ben’s is known far and wide for their fabulous chili, which is made from a secret recipe, and has been enjoyed by a number of famous people, including Barack Obama, Stephen Strasburg, George Lopez, Jimmy Fallon, and others… even Mario and Luigi from Nintendo dropped by once! Any restaurant that could attract that many celebrities must be something incredibly special.

Every town has unique flavors, and Washington, D.C. is no exception. From expensive to cheap, from lavish to classic, from healthy to the… well, not, the Federal City has the tastes you’re looking for.

 

This post originally appeared on Daring Penguin Travel Blog.

October 13, 2017
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Baked Apples with Honey

Just as the apple season was beginning this year, I was in the mood for a hot apple dessert. However, apple pie, apple crisp, or any of the other conventional sweets didn’t quite appeal (pun intended). So, I decided to make my own kind of thing. The end result was one of the absolute best apple recipes I think I’ve ever had in my life. Try it, and let me know what you think in the comments!!!

4 pie apples

1/2 c. walnuts, chopped coarsely

1/8 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. butter, cubed

 

Honey mixture:

1/4 c. honey

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. allspice

dash of cloves

dash of salt

 

Apple cider icing:

1 c. powdered sugar

¼ tsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. apple cider

1 tbsp. milk

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Combine honey mixture and apple cider icing in separate bowls. Set aside.
  3. Core apples and slice thinly; place in a casserole dish. drizzle honey mixture over apples, toss until apples are coated.
  4. Cover and bake for 10 minutes. Pull out pan and sprinkle brown sugar, walnuts, and butter on top. Cook for another 15 minutes, or until walnuts are soft.
  5. Serve onto individual plates and drizzle with icing. Serve immediately.

Yield: 5-7 servings

 

Note: when doubling the recipe, double the cooking time.

 

July 31, 2017
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