The Reindeer Farm in Kentucky Tuesday, Nov 29 2022 

Did you know there is a reindeer farm in Kentucky? We recently visited The Reindeer Farm – a small, family farm in Bowling Green Kentucky, about two hours south of Louisville. Yes, there’s a reindeer farm in Kentucky! This is the third year The Reindeer Farm has been open, but the first year it has been open to the public [...]

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The Louisville Cardinal Features Alum Now Children’s Book Author Tuesday, Oct 25 2022 

By Natalie Bickel

Former “The Louisville Cardinal” Reporter Natalie Bickel

Reporting on the fun stuff.” That’s how I defined my role as a features writer for The Louisville Cardinal from 2014-2015. I wrote about student trends, films being shown at school, and holidays. Given the opportunity with U of L’s student newspaper immensely accelerated my writing journey.

From that journalism-centric foundation, I created a blog, wrote for publications including Darling Magazine, finished my first novel, published a short story in an anthology, and finally authored a children’s book titled The Christmas Clue

When I was drafting fictional, yet realistic pieces of work for my news writing class, like an obituary for our favorite celebrity, nearby construction, or local business milestones, I knew I highly enjoyed writing in this way, but I never thought I would branch out to become a children’s book author. 

The idea came to me right after Christmas of 2020. I had recently finished another round of edits on my novel, and I was inkling for another adventure. Writing has always been my method for processing the world around me, using emotions, experiences, and metaphors to take readers on a journey with me, broadening my individual life moments. When I write, my goal is for people to feel exactly what I’m feeling, to be able to imagine a setting so clear they could almost reach out and touch it, to not see a screen with words, but rather a redefined world that comes with a fresh way of viewing an everyday experience. Then, it hit me. I could do just that by writing about one of my favorite moments that occurs every year—a tradition my dad created and still implements annually—a clue-filled scavenger hunt to the last present. 

When chatting with friends about their traditions, I found that my family’s rhyming clues were unique. The concept was solid, and I had all of the clues from each Christmas, dating back to 2000. My dad personalized most clues to whatever my brother and I were into at the time. For example, maybe we had passed our driver’s test that year or we were obsessed with Hillary Duff and other TV shows. Though I love these specific stanzas, in order to make The Christmas Clue universal and relatable, I picked out my favorite clues and made them more general.

My father also included extensive rhyming that sometimes was a bit of a stretch, within each clue. I tried to match his rhyming structure throughout the story portion of The Christmas Clue. This took some practice, as I don’t typically write this way. But, once I was into it, it was like the rhymes kept coming to me—in my dreams, while I was watching TV, during work, taking a walk, etc. A rhyme would unexpectedly pop into my head and I then had to get onto paper immediately before it vanished. 

Writing a children’s book also usually requires a happy ending, which wasn’t a problem, and a “moral to the story” revelation at the end. To achieve this, I broke down the basic reason why my brother and I cherish our tradition—throughout the chaos, there are intense feelings of love, joy, and specialized family time. Between the laughter and out-of-breath racing around the house, we find connectedness to one another. 

Since writing The Christmas Clue, I’ve found many others who have some version of an annual seek-and-find or hunt-to-find presents. I’m grateful many of us have memories and traditions that bring us back to a child-like sense of wonder while surrounded by the love of family. 

If you’d like to buy The Christmas Clue, you can do so here. The coloring book version is available here. You can check out Natalie Bickel’s site here

The post The Louisville Cardinal Features Alum Now Children’s Book Author appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Cardinal opinion writer ranks favorite holiday foods Wednesday, Dec 15 2021 

By Alexia Juarez– 

With Christmas and New Year’s approaching, aside from the down time and rest taken to celebrate, it’s important to look at one of the crucial things that make the holidays special: the food. 

Holiday dinners are the best way to engage with family and friends and enjoy quality time together. According to Susan Spracher, writer for the foster care blog “Lilliput,” the blending of old and new traditions makes the holiday season bright.  

We can’t ignore one of the biggest factors that contribute to quality time with the family: the holiday feasts. We all have a specific list of holiday foods that we rank from favorite to least favorite.  

Let’s take a look at mine. 

1. The holiday food at the top of my list is tamales. Growing up in a Mexican household, tamales were always a food that my family made only on special occasions. Tamales are made of corn-based dough, filled with meat, cheeses, fruits, vegetables or chili pepper. 

Tamales have a nice, crumby feel that is described as being like a corn cake, but steamier. The insides make all the difference, and you can put any kind of salsa on top.  

2. The next food at the top of my list is stuffing. This dish is also a Thanksgiving favorite, but it’s always appropriate to make it on Christmas as well. My family always makes turkey stuffing bought from the store, but there are other flavors too. My favorite thing about stuffing is its soft, crumbly texture with every bite you take.

3. Steering away from the main dishes for a moment; one of the top desserts my family makes for Christmas is Oreo mini cheesecakes. They are mini desserts that use the wrapper of a cupcake with the Oreo cookie as the crust.

4. The next dessert and common holiday favorite is Christmas cookies. Last year, my aunt started the tradition of baking cookies in common Christmas shapes, like stockings, a snowflake, or a Santa hat, and letting all the nieces/nephews decorate their own with their favorite icing and toppings, using all kinds of sprinkles.  

No matter whatever foods you have at the dinner table this holiday season, it’s important to enjoy them with the people you love. Dig in this holiday season and celebrate finishing the semester strong.  

But, if you’re worried about holiday weight, that’s what a New Year’s resolution at the gym is for! 

 

Graphic by Catherine Brown // The Louisville Cardinal

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Pentatonix brings festive acapella to Louisville Monday, Dec 13 2021 

By Catherine Brown–

Three-time Grammy-winning acapella group Pentatonix decked the halls at the Yum! Center on Dec. 11 with their headlining “Evergreen Tour.”

I went with my best friend, Destiny Smith, a junior nursing major whom I frequently reference in my opinion articles. 

I was fortunate enough to score 2 floor seats located directly in front of the sound booth —the premium spot to hear the quintet hit high notes and belt out holiday carols.

The concert was slated to start at 7 p.m, but doors opened at 6 p.m. After grabbing our jumbo pretzels and settling down in our seats, we waited for the group to appear as Christmas music played in the background.

I noticed that the audience of this concert was significantly older than I would have imagined. Sitting all around us were older adults dressed in festive holiday dresses and ugly Christmas sweaters, all of whom had come to listen to this diverse group of young acapella singers perform some of the classics and even their own original music. 

A few minutes before the band finally appeared on stage, a handful of the audience started chanting “PTX! PTX!” over and over again. Sure enough, at around 7:45 p.m, the lights went down and the audience started yelling and cheering. A video appeared on the large screens next to the stage with the members singing “It’s Been a Long Long Time.” 

Shortly thereafter, the curtains raised and the acapella group was standing there on stage singing their acapella version of Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.”

The show continued with classic holiday songs like “Joy to the World,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and “We Need a Little Christmas.” They even sang my personal favorite PTX cover “Mary, Did You Know?” which had tenor Mitch Grassi belting out notes that you have to hear in-person to believe. Even then, I couldn’t wrap my head around the sheer strength behind his high notes.

Interspersed between songs, each band member gave a short speech about how glad they were to be in Louisville and how enthusiastic the audience was during each song.

Baritone Scott Hoying even detailed the history of the group’s origins, including the beginning of Pentatonix starting in high school with members Hoying, Grassi, and mezzo-soprano Kirstie Maldonado. Hoying joked that this was his “pretending-to-be-straight era,” which earned laughs from the audience.

Kevin Olusola, Pentatonix’s vocal percussion and an Owensboro native, shared how he felt like he was back home with the band being in Kentucky. Olusola then led the audience into a moment of silence in memory of the devastating tornado on early Saturday morning that devastated much of western Kentucky. 

The band then led into a beautiful cover of the Christian hymn “Amazing Grace.”

“I can feel the warmth and the kindness just emanating from everyone in this room,” said Mitch about the fact that everyone can be together in one large area again since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a brief intermission, during which I bought my Evergreen Tour t-shirt from the crowded merch stand, Pentatonix reemerged with a dazzling costume change and launched into their beautiful cover of “Hallelujah” by the late Leonard Cohen. 

They finished out the concert with a charming and hilarious cover of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” sung primarily by the group’s newest member, bass Matt Sellee as well as original songs from their latest album, “Evergreen” and a modern version of the classic “12 Days of Christmas.”

But I wasn’t the only one who knew that that wasn’t the end. Despite some of the audience taking an early leave, the lights in the arena hadn’t even come up yet. We all cheered on Pentatonix to come out for an encore, and they did so. They turned off their mics for a cover of the song “My Heart With You,” and their voices projected loud and clear around the room. 

They ended with a jazzy rendition of “Joyful, Joyful,” and the curtains closed for the final time that night.

The combination of holiday music, stage sets, and the sugar cookie aroma filling the Yum! Center arena (which Mitch commented on) created an atmosphere of holiday festivity.

I’ve been a fan of Pentatonix since I was 14. Since then, I’ve forced my family to watch dozens of their music videos and even saw them open for Kelly Clarkson on her 2015 “Piece by Piece Tour.” This concert was a privilege to attend and I can only hope they return to Louisville again in years to come.

 

 

Photos by Catherine Brown // The Louisville Cardinal

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Winterlights Indianapolis Sunday, Nov 28 2021 

Take a road trip to Winterlights at Newfields in Indianapolis this holiday season! Winterlights is a transformation of Newfields into a winter wonderland with over a million and a half lights on over 120 miles of light strands. Winterlights Inianapolis is at Newfields is a 152 acre campus that has the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Lily House, Art Park, Gardens, [...]

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Christmas Morning Café Monday, Aug 30 2021 

Everyday is Christmas at Christmas Morning Café in Louisville If you like an extra dose of whipped cream, coffee, and Christmas, this café is for you! The Christmas Morning Café is open from 8am or 9am until 2pm with a delicious selection of breakfast and brunch dishes. Christmas Morning Café also specializes in coffee. Many of the menu items have [...]

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Louisville Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt Saturday, Dec 19 2020 

This year, the hunt for amazing Christmas lights in Louisville is very popular! We are making it even more fun for families. Make a fun game out of looking for lights with a scavenger hunt! We have been out on our own Louisville Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt looking at lights in neighborhoods and seeing so many more this year. People [...]

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Personalized Videos from Santa Monday, Dec 14 2020 

Get a video from Santa, perfect for 2020 and something to save for memories! Parents and grandparents are looking for options to make this 2020 Christmas extra special and this video from Santa may be just what you are looking for! If you are looking for personalized video from Santa, this website is a great option for any year, but [...]

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How to make gingerbread houses out of Pop Tarts Sunday, Dec 13 2020 

Want more creative liberty with your gingerbread house? Use Pop-Tarts® and build your own! We had so much fun creating our very own gingerbread houses. No kits required! With very few ingredients, this project was really inexpensive too.  We set out to make pop tart gingerbread houses without any experience. I didn’t know what to expect and honestly, thought we [...]

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Holiday Meals To Go – Perfect for Christmas Wednesday, Dec 9 2020 

Order your holiday meals from a local restaurant and save time and lower your stress. There are many options for holiday meals to go in Louisville this year. Restaurants offer full family meals or a la cart options. We have found some really great options for holiday meals to go for you and hope that you find this helpful. 2020 [...]

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