National Bourbon Day

National Bourbon Day is Saturday, June 14. How are you celebrating?

{Image © 2014, Glenda McCoy}

Wendell Berry on Gardening

Although I haven't found the time to plant my own garden, this year I signed up for a small share of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) through Elmwood Stock Farm (Georgetown, Kentucky).  It is so nice to experience the natural rhythms of the season through the food we eat; it makes you feel more connected to both time and place.  

I love this Wendell Berry quotation about gardening and look forward to the day when I can grow my own food for our family to enjoy.  In the meantime, I love supporting local agriculture.  What's growing in your garden?

Inspiration in Silence and Space

Sometimes, when I'm feeling completely drained and uninspired, I have to get away from everything.

When I moved to Lexington (pop: over 300,000) from Lancaster (pop: under 4,000), I was enamored with Lexington's abundance. Whatever Lancaster had, Lexington had more. People. Cars. Buildings. Schools. Libraries. Stores. Cars. Farms. Parks. Gyms. Restaurants. Cars.

It took about two years for that to get really, really old. I still enjoy the things Lexington has to offer, but every now and then, I need to escape it. I have to find a way to get out, even if it's just for a day. I crave silence and space, and a reminder that life really is fairly simple. 

I love road trips for this very reason. I get to be alone in my car with my thoughts and my music, and it gives me time to recharge. I found a song several years ago that so perfectly describes the feeling I get when I finally have some alone time, and I'm sharing it with you here now. 

All At Sea by Jamie Cullum (excerpt)
I'm all at sea where no one can bother me.
I sleep by myself. I drink on my own.
I don't speak to nobody; I gave away my phone...

Like a warm drink that seeps into my soul, 
Please just leave me right here on my own.
Later on you could spend some time with me,
If you want to, 
All at sea.

You guys. Giving away my phone and going back to a time when I could actually disappear from everything for a while is kind of my dream. 

Sometimes I get so caught up in life--the day-to-day routine of things where I go to bed at night and can't remember a single thing I did that day--that I sort of lose myself. Writing is one way I keep in touch with who I am, but sometimes I'm so lost I can't even put words together.

One of my favorite road trips is the short one to my childhood home. The hundred-year-old farmhouse and five acres of land I grew up on is only about forty miles from where I live now. Everyone who knows me is well aware of my love affair with my parents' home. It's the most beautiful, peaceful place I've ever known. 

The constant activity of my days can make time pass entirely too quickly. As I get closer and closer to home, everything slows down--the minutes stretch on forever and the houses move farther and farther apart. 

That front porch is the only place I can be completely alone without shutting any doors. I do my best thinking there. The solitude gives me a chance to remember who I am and what's important to me. I can't sit on that porch with that view and not take a moment to appreciate everything I have. It's so easy to get lost in the minute details of life, the things that won't make a difference a month or year from now, and I find myself just trying to make it from one day to the next. The peace and quiet found on my parents' porch inspires me to be the kind of person who doesn't get so caught up in looking forward that I forget to stop and truly enjoy the present.

HerKentucky Entertaining: Oaks Style

As the Derby’s companion race for 3-year-old fillies, the Kentucky Oaks has always been about the “ladies.”  However, over the past 138 years since the first running on May 19, 1875, at the Louisville Jockey Club (former name of Churchill Downs), a few tweaks have been made here and there.  For example, the original distance of 1-1/2 miles has been adjusted several times to today’s shorter length of 1-1/8 miles. And, the first Oaks race ran two days after the Kentucky Derby. Today, however, the "Ladies First" theme is both literal and figurative.  

In recent years, new Oaks traditions have emerged. For starters, in 1991, the stargazer lily was selected as the official flower of the Kentucky Oaks for its symbol of femininity and strength. Then, in 2006, in honor of the official flower, the race got its own signature drink, the Oaks Lily. As the Kentucky Oaks began to grow in popularity (attendance has doubled since 2001 to over 100,000 today), the day has blossomed into one of the most popular racing events in the United States.

From the fillies, lilies, drinks, and signature color pink, the Oaks is all about the ladies.  Even better, it’s a party with a purpose. Prior to the race, be sure to turn your eyes to the main track for a moving sight as 139 breast cancer survivors' walk in the Survivors’ Parade. Also, Churchill Downs will donate $1 from each Oaks Lily sold to Horses and Hope.  In 2008, First Lady Jane Beshear founded Horses and Hope with the Kentucky Cancer Program (KCP) to provide breast cancer education, screening and treatment referral for the often overlooked members of Kentucky's horse industry and their families.
Whether you’re going to Churchill or tuning in to watch the spectacular show of pink on television, today is the day to celebrate the special ladies in your life.  Although you will not find me among the masses this year, I will bring the flavor and traditions of the day into my home as I casually entertain a few friends.    
First, you can't go wrong with stargazer lilies. They're fragrant and stunning. I like to mix them with white hydrangeas and simple greenery for a bright pop of hot pink.

Even though we won't be at Churchill, my guests and I will still get to enjoy the signature drink of the day, the Oaks Lily.  This pretty and refreshing cocktail is super easy to make and can be enjoyed throughout the year. 

1 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
3 oz. Cranberry Juice
Splash of Triple Sec

Once the ingredients are mixed, place in a glass with ice, and garnish with an orange wedge and a cherry (I added a lime wedge).

I like to serve them in the official Oaks Lily glass.  Not only do these stem-less wine glasses make the experience feel more authentic, but they make a great party favor, too. 

If you’re celebrating this year’s festivities away from Churchill, please consider sending a donation to Horses and Hope.  Tax deductible donations should be made to: 

501 E. Broadway, Suite 160
Louisville, KY 40202

Finally, let's talk about the horses. The fillies today are every bit the match of the boys tomorrow. With three undefeated horses, and a favorite (though twice defeated), Dreaming of Julia, having a "speed figure" (114) that is waaaay above the best any of the boys have ever run (105). For the not-so-serious gamblers, I like to write the names of each filly on a piece of paper for easy entertainment. Guests pay a small amount to play and the winner takes all.  

Now, if I were a betting woman...I'd have a hard time looking past the morning-line (and deserving) favorite, Dreaming of Julia, and co-second-choice, Unlimited Budget, but an equally hard time betting on them at short odds given the top-to-bottom quality of this field (how many undefeated fillies can be in a race, anyway?). Under the circumstances, I'd have to try to make my money in a trifecta by wheeling those two in first and second, with the field in third and hope that a live longshot like Pure Fun rounds out the top three. I might also back this up with an exacta box of those two, Pure Fun, Beholder and Midnight Lucky.  (And, I'm still rooting for Rosie on Seaneen Girl.) But, like I said, that would only be the case if I were a betting woman...

Who are your favorites for the 139th running of the Kentucky Oaks?

P.S. - My daughter, Katherine, will be the new girl at the party this year, and she’s already learning some of our finest traditions. How adorable is her bonnet from The Beaufort Bonnet Company?

{No member of the HerKentucky team received any compensation for this post.}

Capturing the Beauty of Central Kentucky

In a time of great tragedy and sadness, it's important to remind ourselves of the goodness and beauty that exists in this world.

Maybe I'm biased, but out of all the places I've visited, I cannot think of a more gorgeous place than Kentucky in the springtime.  Even the cloudy days are stunning. 

This spring, I've spent a great deal of time outside with my camera trying to capture some of this beauty in my own "backyard" in Central Kentucky.  From the tulips at the Kentucky State Capitol, to the iconic horses and their foals grazing in newly green pastures, the natural beauty that surrounds us is simply breathtaking.  Here are just a few of my favorite photographs:

As our country copes with yet another senseless tragedy, I encourage you to take a moment to appreciate the beauty in your own life.  And, there is no better time than the present to step outside and take a look around.

Springtime Photo Ops

Is there anyplace more beautiful than Kentucky in Spring?

One of my favorite ways to see the Bluegrass State is by foot - hiking at Red River Gorge always provides some excellent photo opportunities:

The Underside of Sky Bridge 
The underside of Sky Bridge

Visiting small towns and exploring on foot is another great way to find beauty in Kentucky's spring. I'm a little partial, but our Capital City is beautiful this time of year.

Spring Tulips
Tulips at the Capitol
Another great way to explore Kentucky's outdoors is by water. Spring rains bring up the water table and make for perfect conditions to see the extensive waterways of Kentucky.
We just kayaked that.
Elkhorn Creek in Early Spring (kayaks rented from Canoe Kentucky)
Central Kentucky offers any number of scenic driving tours, as well. Follow the blue and white signs for the Bluegrass Driving Tour, or download a map of the Dreamer driving tour from the Visitors Bureau.
Near Midway and Weisenberger Mill

Happy Friday!

Sophie wants to point out some great causes.

Hey y'all.

Hope you're having a wonderful, snowy Friday! I survived the Thundersnow and power outages, but wanted to let you know about two awesome ways that you can make a difference this weekend. 

Max says "Make a Difference Today!"
Tomorrow, when the snow clears up enough for everybody to replenish their bread and milk supplies before the Big Game, please make sure to do your shopping at Kroger at Food City. Volunteer stations will be set up at those stores to collect donations for the Shop and Share program. Just purchase the needed canned goods and toiletries and drop them off at the volunteer booth located within the store. These items will be donated to Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA) shelters. These safe houses and shelters are located in communities across the state and provide a safe haven for women and children in crisis.

Another cool way to make a difference this weekend is by purchasing a Pet Valentine in this week's print edition of Ace Weekly. Our friends at Ace are as nuts about pets as we are here at HerKentucky, and they've found the most adorable way to help. For only $25, you can feature your pet's photo in a "Valentine" ad. Proceeds go to Spay/Neuter programs at Woodford Humane and Lexington Humane.

I hope everybody finds a way to stay warm and make a difference this weekend!