Designing the Perfect Kentucky Derby Hat

The 140th Kentucky Derby is almost here, y'all.

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

I've already bought a commemorative Derby Glass and sipped a little something minty from it. And, like most Louisvillians, I've already given a lot of thought to my Derby Hat. So, I was thrilled when the folks from Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse asked me to participate in their Derby Hat Trunk Show and Fundraiser!

140th Kentucky Derby Hat Fashion Blog

Off Broadway sent me a hat and asked me to decorate it however I liked and return it to their Shelbyville Road store to be auctioned off to benefit The Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation. Well, who could say no to the opportunity to create a beautiful hat while helping benefit the Derby City?

Of course, the first thing you need for the perfect Derby Hat is flowers. Striking, unique flowers are the key to any well-designed hat. So, I headed to Dee's, Louisville's beloved spot for Derby hat decorations.

Dee's was certainly ready for Derby, with flowers, feathers, and equestrian-themed merchandise everywhere!

It was hard to decide among all the gorgeous feathers and flowers! I wanted to use them all!

Finally, I decided on my favorite flowers -- an assortment of lilies -- and a fun aqua and white color scheme that looked so striking against the red hat. 

Please join Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse at 4600 Shelbyville Road, Suite 201 this Saturday, April 26, for their hat event. Local stylists and hat designer Carole Amper will be there to help you pick out the perfect hat for your Derby ensemble. You'll have the opportunity to bid on my hat, as well as those designed by other community members!

Thanks so much to Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse for letting me take part in this fabulous event! I hope to see y'all there!

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!

Mint Juleps

Derby is 100 days from today.

Now, as I write those words, I can't help but picture y'all immediately logging off HerKentucky, and running out to buy a dress and a hat because Derby is just around the corner.  But, I'm sure that our readers are more prepared than all that.  Anyhoo, the Derby Countdown has kept my spirits high on a dreary, wet, windy Thursday.  I've been thinking about fabulous hats.  I've been stalking the Lilly Pulitzer spring line.  But, most of all, I've been craving a julep.

Source: via Heather on Pinterest
The Derby's official drink is an iconic cocktail that immediately conjures images of Southern grace.  They're an emblem of a more sophisticated time.  I think there's just something so elegant about a mint julep -- the simple silver cups, the delicious bourbon, and the whimsical mint sprigs.  It's not a cocktail you just throw together -- you have to make your simple syrup and pick (or purchase) fresh mint.  While not a Southerner herself, the Mad Men character Betty Draper simply won me over when she served juleps to the adults at a child's birthday party.  I keep asking my friends to let me borrow a kid so that I can stage an homage to Betty's entertaining.  Oddly enough, nobody has taken me up on that request.

Beyond the imagery of the julep, I find that there is, when done properly, a surprisingly good cocktail.  Now, I'm not much for the pre-made bottles that pop up every spring, but a well-made julep is a wonderful complement to a hot day.   I've always found that Dudley's in downtown Lexington  serves the very best version of the Commonwealth's Cocktail-- sweet, tart, and icy cold, with the slightest fizz of club soda.
Source: via Heather on Pinterest

While the mint julep is perhaps the most famous symbol of the Kentucky Derby, it has as many critics as it does fans.  Louisville newspaperman Henry Watterson famously once described his own julep recipe: "Pluck the mint gently from its bed, just as the dew of the evening is about to form upon it. Select the choicer sprigs only, but do not rinse them.  Prepare the simple syrup and measure out a half-tumbler of whiskey.  Pour the whiskey into a well-frosted silver cup, throw the other ingredients away and drink the whiskey."  Here on HerKentucky, Cristina wrote that, while she loves the individual ingredients, she just can't get behind the finished product.  I'm even the only julep afficionado in my own home; my fiancé considers the mint julep to be a waste of good bourbon. 

Whether you love the sweet, minty compliment to your smoky, rich whisky or you simply think it's a waste of good bourbon, you have to admit that julep cups are a classic addition to any Southern home.  Julep cups add a rich look to any flower arrangement or keepsake -- they're small enough to add elegance to any spot without overwhelming your space.

So, while I still have to wait 100 days until I pull out my fabulous hat and dress and sip the season's first julep, I decided to bring a little julep culture into my life tonight.  I made a little flower arrangement using a Louisville Stoneware julep cup and some springy blooms.   Here's hoping it makes the countdown go by a little quicker!!