I love birthdays. I love every single thing about them. I love the chance to celebrate something both ordinary and special - the passing of another year. I love parties. I love gathering for one common cause. I love getting dressed up. I love themes. I love singing to someone. I love cake. I LOVE presents. 


So, here we are celebrating HerKentucky's second birthday by getting (virtually) dressed up and giving away presents and I can't help but get a little misty eyed and reminiscent as I do on all birthdays.

It seems like only yesterday I got an email from Heather entitled "An idea (or about 40% of one...)".
Hey ladies--
Last week, while I was writing (well, I was swimming and avoiding a deadline, but that's beside the point...), I was hit with an idea. 
Y'all are among my very favorite bloggers/ writers. And y'all love our home state as much as I do. How would you feel about taking part in a blog project?

What I'm envisioning is a site for and about Kentucky women bloggers (natives, expats, or transplants...), on which we could blog as little or as often as we like. ... In the loosest sense, we'd be blogging about Kentucky and Southern life, but mainly just about our experiences. You could write about the topics you currently blog, or use the space for a totally different dialogue.

So, what do you think? Do you have suggestions for other participants? Ideas for a title?
There you have it. The birth of HerKentucky.

We all responded with a resounding "YES!" and the rest was history herstory.

I share all that to say. We all love HerKentucky and we have all been instrumental to its success in our own special way. But... on birthdays, you celebrate the mamma as much as the baby and the mamma of HerKentucky is Heather.

Thank you, Heather. Thank you for having this fantastic idea. Thank you for sharing it with us. Thank you for organizing and editing and promoting week after week and making HerKentucky the glorious testament to the Bluegrass State that it is.

Have some cake, girl. You've earned it!

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

HerKentucky Turns 2!

Today's our birthday, y'all!

Today marks two years of the HerKentucky blog. Every member of our writing staff is so thrilled and humbled that y'all stop by to read our posts and visit our social media sites. It's so wonderful to know that y'all love the Commonwealth as much as we do!

I wish we could all sit down together for a glass of bourbon and a cupcake today. Since that's a little difficult to manage, we've partnered with Louisville Stoneware to bring one lucky HerKentucky reader a stylish way to enjoy her favorite drink.

The Louisvilke Stoneware Mint Julep Cup is so fun, and its logo gets straight to the point.

Here's what our friends at Louisville Stoneware would like you to know about this item: 

Located in the heart of Bourbon Country, and with a history of making whiskey jugs, it’s only natural for Louisville Stoneware to have a line of Julep Cups.The exact origins of the Mint Julep are unknown, but it is said to have originated in the southern United States during the eighteenth century. U.S. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky introduced the drink to Washington, D.C., at the Round Robin Bar in the famous Willard Hotel. It was also the favorite drink of American author William Faulkner. The Mint Julep is best known as the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, a position it has held since 1938, with Churchill Downs making over 120,000 for Derby fans each year.Chill your Stoneware Julep Cup in the freezer for at least 30 minutes – it can be stored there permanently if you like. With a slightly flared rim, this cup is perfect for slow sipping – the only way a julep should be enjoyed. For an authentic Julep-sipping experience, we suggest following the recipe on our Julep pitcher. Cheers!Your stoneware can be safely used in the oven, microwave, dishwasher and freezer. Just remember to allow pieces from the dishwasher to cool before refrigerating. Likewise, you should allow refrigerated piece to return to room temperature before washing. As with any stoneware item, extreme and sudden variation in temperature may cause cracking or breakage.

You can enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will be announced on Monday, September 16th, and you can look forward to more HerKentucky birthday fun throughout September!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much to Louisville Stoneware for partnering with HerKentucky to bring y'all this giveaway. No member of the HerKentucky writing staff was compensated in any way for this post. Check back throughout September for more celebrations, giveways, and fun!

Homemade Birthday Cakes (It's easier than you think!)

I'm pretty into birthdays. I start thinking of themes and decorations sort of ridiculously far in advance, and create a new Pinterest board every time I get an idea for a possibly party theme.

And usually, the idea starts with the cake. It's the centerpiece. I always have to decide on the cake first, and then everything else falls into place.

I admit, I make a big deal of the cake. It's what I spend the most time on, and it generally takes some overnight prep plus some time the following morning on the day of the party to finish. In case any of you have thought about doing your own homemade cakes but have no idea where to start, or think it's entirely too difficult, I thought I'd throw out a few tips I've learned along the way.

1. I use Cake Central and Pinterest to get ideas for cakes. Quick searches on either of these sites will turn up hundreds of different cake ideas.

2. Never use store-bought frosting to decorate cakes. It's not stiff enough and it won't hold its shape. I use Wilton's buttercream icing recipe, and add whatever coloring I want.

3. You will ALWAYS need more icing than you think. It takes me at least two batches to cover a cake. (Thank goodness the recipe is super easy to throw together.)

4. Invest in Viva paper towels. When you're finished frosting your cake, lay the paper towel over the icing and rub your hands over it. I never cover a cake in fondant--I think you have to be very talented to pull that off. This Viva method will give the icing a smooth, polished look without the fondant. (Other brands of paper towels WON'T work. They'll just stick to the icing. Don't bother trying. I made the mistake so you won't have to.)

5. I DO use fondant a lot to add little accents. I always use the store-bought kind. It tastes awful, but I just warn everyone not to eat it. I use a roller to flatten the fondant out (thin enough so it will harden quickly) then cut out whatever shapes I want. I usually do this the night before so the next day they will be hard enough to stick to the cake.

6. Be creative. When you see a cake you want to try to copy, you don't necessarily have to use all the same products and ingredients a professional would use. (I'll show you some substitutions I've made in the pictures below!)

The cakes are definitely time-consuming, but they're not difficult. If you like this sort of thing, it can be fun to find a cake you like and figure out an easy way to make it yourself. Below are some cakes I've made over the years, and quick explanations of how I put them together! Good luck! Feel free to leave questions in the comments!

You Are My Sunshine
Three 9-in round cakes make the bottom layer and two six-in round cakes for the middle layer. The sun was made using one of those "ball" cake pans you can find at Michaels.

Those sunbeams? The original called for triangles made from royal icing. I tried and failed. I cut a tortilla into triangles and baked them, then covered them with sugar and store-bought gel icing.
Candy Shop
The cake itself is the same as the sun, with two 6-in and two 9-in cakes making up the layers.

Flatten the fondant and cut it into strips, then roll them between your fingers to create long rounded pieces. Shape those into spirals for the lollipops, then stick lollipop sticks in them.

*The lollipops were REALLY heavy. To make them stay upright, I cut straws in half and slid them down into the cake, then slid the lollipops in the straws.
I found the fairy figurines a Disney fairy cake kit on Amazon. See the cake in the advertisement? I decided to recreate it.

Stack two 9x13 cakes for the bottom layer. Cut another 9x13 cake in half and stack the halves for the middle layer. The top layer is a triangle cut from another 9x13 cake. (I MAY have eaten the rest of that cake while I iced this one. Maybe. Probably.)

The rest of the decorations are made from buttercream icing using a cake decorating tube set (similar to this).
This cake was super simple, because it's just the same basic cake as the Sunshine and Lollipop cakes. I made the snowflakes out of white chocolate. Melt the chocolate and pipe it onto wax paper in whatever shape you want, then let it dry. Stick it to the cake using icing as glue!
Superhero Party
Aside from my usual fondant accents, I branched out with this one and made star lollipops using a candy mold I found at Hobby Lobby. I'd always avoided candy molds because it just sounded like too much to get into, but this was ridiculously easy.

Melt the candy pieces (they sell them right next to the molds). Pour the melted candy into the mold. Add the lollipop sticks. Go eat spoonfuls of buttercream icing and marvel at your own brilliance while you wait for them to harden. (This would've been SO MUCH EASIER for that lollipop cake than the super heavy fondant.)
Finding Nemo
This was the easiest cake I've made yet. Stack two 9x13 cakes on top of each other, then cut off the corners to create an oval shape.

I bent craft sticks until they broke to give the jagged edges of the sign, and glued all that together. The "sand" around the bottom is brown sugar. All the decorations are made from fondant, aside from the figurines, which I found on Amazon.

Great Birthday Party or Greatest Birthday Party?

I'm kind of a birthday fanatic. I love them. I may not be the biggest fan of growing older, but I am most definitely the grown woman who announces her birthday to everyone she comes into contact with and may have worn an "It's My Birthday" sash everywhere I went on my most recent birthday (Kroger, dentist appointment, bus stop, etc.).

When it comes to birthday parties for my daughters, I go all out. I start months in advance, deciding on a theme, making decorations, designing the cake. (Thank God for Pinterest.)

What I'm trying to say is that I consider myself a Birthday Party Snob. I'm a control freak who only does parties at her house because nobody else could do it to suit me.

Dear Readers, I was wrong. So wrong. Ella was invited to a birthday party at CKRH Riding for Hope located at the Kentucky Horse Park. May I now present for your consideration, the pictorial evidence of my wrongness:

This is Happy Feet, one of the miniature ponies that the girls got to brush, adorn with tiaras and jewelry, and paint.


That's right. They painted ponies. Did you know this was a Thing?

I couldn't help but wonder about the ponies' feelings on the matter. (Look at your LIFE, Happy Feet. Look at your CHOICES.) In all seriousness, the miniature ponies were very sweet, and the perfect size for 3-year-olds. The girls had a ball. As soon as we got home, Ella grabbed her baby and told me that she was naming her Happy Feet.

I consider that a Win.