W and M Jewelry Giveaway

When you walk into the W & M Jewelry studio in Louisville's St. Matthews neighborhood, you immediately feel like you've gone to visit old friends. 

Owners Becky McClellan and Megan Walz greet cutomers as they create beautiful, unique pieces. "It's like our therapy," Megan laughs. "We sit here and talk it out and make jewelry!"

Soon, the conversation turns to life, family, and dogs. (The studio dogs, blonde labs Rosie and Ruby, aren't there when I visit, but I've seen them plenty on walks through the neighborhood. They're simply gorgeous, and my dogs are dying to become their BFFs!) It feels way more like a visit with your neighbors or sorority sisters than a visit to a shop. 

The jewelry is simply beautiful. Fun, colorful pieces that are appropriate for work or play. It's hard to choose a favorite!

The ladies at W & M have graciously offered a holiday present to one lucky HerKentucky reader. You can win these beautiful gold tulip earrings -- one of W & M's most popular items -- by entering the Rafflecopter drawing below!

Earring photo courtesy W&M.

You can enter now through Sunday night (with a once-a-day tweet option!) and the winner will be informed of an early Christmas present on Monday the 23rd!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much to Megan and Becky of W & M for the gorgeous earrings and for being great friends of HerKentucky!

A Louisville Stoneware Holiday Wish List

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to tour the Louisville Stoneware factory.

It was so fun to learn about the pottery I've collected for years. It was really cool to see the actual raw clay that is transformed into beautiful pottery.

As I watched clay being purified, softened, and molded, I felt like a little kid on one of those candy factory tours they used to show on Mr. Rogers. I had a million questions about the production process, and I was thrilled to see some amazing pieces I recognized from my own collection. (Which I'm talking about today over at The Mint Julep Diary.)

While I toured the factory, I found some really great holiday gift ideas that I thought I'd share with y'all.

This coffee mug proclaims "I'd rather be drinking bourbon" and, well, wouldn't we all? It's a great gift for the bourbon lover on your holiday list.

These gorgeous ornaments reflect your favorite city, your college team, or your holiday spirit. 

These holly graffiti julep cups are filled with locally-produced soy candles and would make a fantastic holiday gift.

And I couldn't decide on a favorite among all the salt and pepper shakers; each set was cuter than the last.

 I was particularly partial to the Wildcats and the Colonels.

If you're in Louisville for holiday shopping, stop by the Stoneware factory at 731 Brent Street for amazing, one-of-a-kind Kentucky-made gifts. You can also order online at LouisvilleStoneware.com.

Thanks so much to Louisville Stoneware for hosting me for a tour! I had a blast!

New Holiday Traditions

The holidays are all about tradition. The decorations, the celebrations, the family customs -- no matter your faith or background, there are traditions you observe every year.

In recent years, I've thought a lot about holiday traditions, as my beau and I attend Christmas gatherings with our respective families, and build traditions of our own.

Somewhere along the way, my go-to holiday dish has become Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon. It couldn't be more different than the huge Southern spreads that were customary in my childhood. And yet, I cook it with the same degree of love and attention to detail that my granny always applied to her customary Christmas Eve fried chicken. I find myself making the French beef-and-wine stew for special holiday meals with the people I love. 

This year, my beau and I stayed home for Thanksgiving. Despite the made-for-Hallmark-TV promises that we can all go home for the holidays, sometimes work obligations impose themselves. Since it was just the two of us, we scaled back Thanksgiving dinner to reflect a lower-carb sensibility. Neither Sister Schubert rolls nor pies were to be found anywhere. As we enjoyed our boeuf bourguingnon and pancetta-roasted Brussels sprouts, I realized that, just maybe, we'd created a holiday tradition of our very own.

Have you created any new holiday traditions at your house?


 Our dear friend Erin Smallwood Wathen is back for another gorgeous essay about life, faith, and family. As I prep for the holidays, realizing that I sure would like a new Dutch oven in which to cook Thanksgiving dinner and that I don't quite know where I'll put all of my Christmas trees, Erin's wise words certainly hit home. As always, you can follow along with Erin's blog Irreverin or on her Facebook page. -- HCW

The calendar says it’s Thanksgiving week, and the stores say it’s Christmas already…but what I’m thinking of at the moment is Halloween. Halloween 2 years ago, to be exact.

I followed a sparkly red lady bug and a plush green dragon down the street.

Nevermind it was October 31. It was about 100 degrees outside, and the plush, fuzzy, cozy costume—which would have been just swell in some chilly autumn Midwestern burrow—was utterly ridiculous in the desert. But dang, he was adorable.

We’d just moved from one desert suburb to another… just a few miles apart, but worlds away. The place we’d been the previous year—with a two-year-old witch and a newborn, who went dressed as a newborn—had proved a little disappointing on Halloween. We only knocked on about 8 doors, and of those, only two actually opened and produced candy.

We were in a new neighborhood, expecting more of the same non-Hallow-happenings. But nossir, on our new block, trick-or-treat was an EVENT. We had a potluck on the cul-de-sac, took group pics of the kids, and then went trick-or-treating en masse. Our group had about 8 kids and twice as many parents. And every street we went down, we encountered another mob of kids and their chaperones. Nearly every house was decorated, every porch light on, every resident proffering a giant bowl of tiny treats.

About 12 houses in, my furry monster was burning up, and both of their buckets were full. The little lady bug could no longer carry her load, and I was picking up the trail of M&M packets accumulating behind her. I announced that, since the buckets were full, we were calling it a night.

That’s when one of the other moms said, “oh, this always happens, so we come prepared.” And she pulled out a handful of empty plastic grocery bags and started handing them around.

So…we did another block of houses.

Don’t get me wrong. It was great fun. And I like digging through the buckets, post-bedtime, and hijacking all the Snickers as much as the next mom. But, come on…at some point, you’ve got to acknowledge that the daggone bucket is FULL, and go home already.

This fear of ‘not enough’ whispers anxiety in our ear at every turn. It is the real goblin that haunts us, all the year around; maybe, even especially, into the holiday season. It snatches our happiest moments from us and fills us with dread. Sometimes, it even tries to take hold of our children.

Maybe I should explain a bit about why our old neighborhood was such a –pardon me—ghost town, the year before. It was 2010. And in Phoenix—one of the hardest hit housing markets in the country– that meant that every third house on the block was in foreclosure, pre-foreclosure, short sale process, or just plain empty. That’s why we, along with half the city, found ourselves in a different house the following year.

I couldn’t help but feel that, had the big banks just gone home when their daggone bucket was full, there would not have been quite such an exodus situation. But…the mythic voice of scarcity just keeps pulling at people. And really, the more you have, the more vulnerable you are to the voice that keeps whispering “you need more.”  In very real ways, investors gambled with real people’s livelihood and equity. Eventually, the handle on that bucket broke, and every last gumball rolled out into the street. That was 2008, of course.

Some of us are just coming back, while the big kids who broke the buckets went home with extra treat bags.

Ok, that metaphor has played out. Sorry.

Still, when I think about what it means to practice gratitude, I think of trick-or-treating with young kids, and teaching them to say ‘enough,’ even as the world says, ‘here’s an extra bag so you can carry more stuff.’ That was an important transitional time in our lives, and I learned a lot about simply breathing it all in, and being grateful for what is.  Now that I’m in transition again—from one church call to another; from the desert to the prairie; from parenting babies to parenting big(ish) kids— it all seems like a timely liturgy of thanksgiving.

On that Halloween night, 2 years ago, I hauled a loaded bucket, a full-to-breaking plastic bag, and an exhausted toddler home. I was grateful for my new neighborhood; for doors that actually opened in welcome, for a roof over my family’s head, for healthy kids who could eat candy…and for these fleeting years of glitter and wings and magic.

Out of the overflow, I handed my kid two pieces of candy and I said,

Repeat after me: this is enough. This is all we need.

Heine Brothers Coffee Giveaway!

This holiday season, I'm thankful for so many things. I'm thankful for the exciting new opportunities that my beau and I have undertaken. I'm thankful for the cute house we found in Louisville's St Matthews neighborhood. And I'm thankful for HerKentucky -- the wonderful friendships I've made through this blog and the amazing readers who follow along with us here on the blog as well as on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter

So, today, I'm saying thanks to all my Louisville-area friends with a little giveway. 

I love my new neighborhood, and I love a good cup of coffee, so I'm giving one HerKentucky fan a $20 gift card to Louisville's favorite coffee spot, Heine Brothers' Coffee.

You can enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest runs now through midnight on Wednesday the 27th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

Favorite Thanksgiving Dish? Easy.

I have one job to do for Thanksgiving. I pack up my family and get us all to Kentucky. No kitchen, no turkey brining, no worrying about the perfect side. This leaves me with plenty of time on the road to  feel nostalgic for my favorite holiday dishes and extoll the virtues of my favorite sweet potato topping. (Pecans, in case you were wondering.) There is one simple dish that serves as my holiday harbinger, and that is my mother's uncomplicated but superb cranberry relish. Although she has made this recipe for as long as I can remember, she won't take credit for creating it. She attributes this recipe to Mrs. Pauline Eblen of Henderson, who is the sweetest little woman you could ever hope to meet. No wonder it's so delicious.

Here's what you need:

2 small oranges, unpeeled
1 lb. cranberries
1 cup sugar*

The mason jar in the back contains coconut palm sugar, which I substitute
for the cane sugar to the right.
The result is not as pretty but every bit as scrumptious.

Slice the ends of the oranges away, then cut oranges into 1/2 inch chunks. Fill food processor with all the ingredients, then chop and grind to your desired texture. I recommend letting it chill for a day or so in your refrigerator to allow the flavors to marry. They will be so happy together, I promise.

Takes about a minute to grind all this to a perfect relish consistency.

Here's some helpful cranberry relish advice that you will want to follow, assuming that you make this once and immediately declare that you wish you had more of this or could save some for next summer. Try buying eight pounds of cranberries and a full bag of oranges. This stuff freezes exceptionally well, so plan on freezing one cup portions that you can easily thaw when you want to add a lovely burst of color to a table or just want a crazy good dollop of tangy cranberries on your mid-May turkey sandwich.

I didn't have any cooked poultry available, so please take my word that this tastes heavenly on any type of bird. Say you have some chicken breasts in the oven, but you become distracted by one child while his tiny partner in crime tosses your timer into the sink. Dried out chicken? Boom. Cranberry relish to the rescue! Imagine a boring leftover turkey sandwich promoted to gourmet status by some leafy greens and the zing from this cranberry relish. But just between us, you don't need anything but a ramekin dish and a spoon to enjoy this stuff.

Digging into some of this deliciousness in a few short days!

What dish signals Thanksgiving and the coming holiday season for you? We would love to hear from you!

Bluegrass Junior Woman's Club Poinsettias for a Purpose

Today, HerKentucky welcomes blogger Jessica K. Peace-Urgelles. Jessica is a runner, photographer, news journalist, blogger, and advocate.  She is  also the mother to a rambunctious little boy name Gabriel and his faithful sidekick, a French Bulldog named Escobar.  Jessica has written for several publications including her blog, Blog of a Bluegrass BelleAsk Miss A, and most recently The Mountain Advocate newspaper. Following a personal tragedy, Jessica became a passionate advocate for several causes including domestic violence and poverty.  She is now a board member for Bluegrass Junior Woman's Club,and a General Federation of Women's Clubs Champion for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign. When she isn't mothering, writing, or advocating, she can generally be found with a camera in her hand at her business, Jessica Urgelles Photography.  Today, Jessica will be sharing the BJWC's Poinsettias for a Purpose campaign with us. Thanks so much to Jessica for reaching out to HerKentucky! -- HCW

Every year many families "deck the halls," but what if your seasonal decorations could help support charitable projects in your community?  Bluegrass Junior Woman's Club in conjunction with Pemberton's Nursery are offering poinsettias, fresh wreathes, and garland.  A large portion of the proceeds will go to the Bluegrass Junior Woman's Club and the many projects we conduct in the community.  Bluegrass Children's Fund, Santa's Shoppers, along with partnership organizations such as Bluegrass Domestic Violence (now known as Greenhouse 17), Ronald McDonald House of the Bluegrass, Hope Center, Children's Advocacy Center, and many more local agencies benefit from the hard work of Bluegrass Junior Woman's Club.  We are unable to fulfill all of our commitments without the support of our community.  We ask that you consider purchasing your live and fresh holiday decorations from BJWC this year. Poinsettias are $13 each.

 In addition to the poinsettias, we have several greenery options:

  • 22” Mixed Noble Fir w/ Cones Wreath - $24
  • 20” Boxwood Wreath - $26
  • 75 Feet of White Pine Roping - $35

  • Orders will be placed on Wednesday, November 20 so any order will need to be received on the evening
    Tuesday, November 19. Please contact bjwc@twc.com or me directly.

    Your generosity allows us o contribute to and continue our partnerships with many other non-profit organizations in the Lexington, Kentucky community. Have you satisfied all your holiday decorating needs? You can still help us. We are asking for Santa's Shoppers sponsorships.
    Federated in 1970, Bluegrass Junior Woman’s Club (BJWC) is a non-profit organization made up of women who are committed to improving the quality of life for disadvantaged women, children, and families in central Kentucky through volunteerism and fundraising. During the 2011-12 club year, the BJWC donated over $16,800 and many volunteer hours to local charitable organizations such as the Children’s Advocacy Center, Ronald McDonald House, and the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program.  Our hallmark project is Santa's Shoppers. The event aims to help selected children and their families have a happier holiday season. We generally have the privilege of shopping for approximately 25 students. BJWC purchases gifts for each participating child.  These are wrapped prior the event and handed out by Santa Claus. The children are allowed to shop for a new coat, shoes or boots, hats and gloves, pajamas, socks and underwear. The children are then allowed to purchase small gifts for each member of their household. The children are sent home with their new winter necessities, gifts, and a large box of grocery items. It is a very successul event due to a collaborative effort among the event chairs, membership, prospective members, volunteers, and school staff. We are each reminded of how truly blessed we are during the holiday season, and our club couldn't pull off the event without our fundraising efforts and generous donations from members of the community.

    Bluegrass Juniors cordially invites anyone interested in learning about membership to contact the club or to attend one of our meetings.  The next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, November 19th at 7pm at the Beaumont Centre Clubhouse in Lexington, Kentucky. We really enjoy guests, so always feel welcome to attend! Feel free to visit us on the web, Twitter, or Facebook!