Football Season is Here!!

Football starts tonight, y'all. Real, live SEC football.

I have to admit that, when planning to attend an event tonight, a little part of me thought "Well, I can get back in plenty of time to watch Vandy-Ole Miss." But, you know, we can't put our Thursdays and Saturdays on hold from now through the end of the year, right? Well, of course we can. It's football season!


Now, my beau and I are HUGE Kentucky football fans. We've followed the team through ups and downs, and are interested to see what the Stoops era brings.
Tomorrow is College Colors Day.  I love the idea that, all across the country, people are gearing up to cheer on their own favorite teams. For me, college colors will always mean Kentucky blue, but there are so many schools across the Commonwealth who are gearing up for big seasons. Personally, I never miss a chance to cheer for my parents' alma maters of Morehead and EKU. There's talk that Louisville is going to have a pretty good team as well. And who can ignore the fact that WKU has a colorful new coach?

Are y'all as excited for football season as I am? What colors are you wearing tomorrow?

Southern Festival of Books: Saturday Recap

Thai Food Truck at the Capitol.
Last weekend, I went down to Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books. I wrote about the Festival for Ace Weekly magazine, describing the sense of "place" that arose time and again during the festival's programs and events. I also wanted to share a more informal "travelogue" with y'all. We had such an amazing time taking in both the festival and one of my very favorite cities. Here's my recap of Saturday’s events. You can read about Friday's adventures here. – HCW

I don’t know why, but the Central Time Zone kicks my behind every single time. Every. Single. Time. I lived in Nashville for two years, and I never got used to Prime Time television starting at 7 p.m. This day was no exception. I gotup really early for a Saturday, and yet somehow I was still running late.

Now, I've always jokingly called the strip of I-65 from Southern Kentucky past Nashville "The Cracker Barrel Corridor" because it seems you can find one at every exit. As we pass the signs for a few of those, it felt like a good excuse to avail ourselves of some biscuits and hashbrown casserole. At first, I was a little concerned that we'd miss the session on the politics of SEC football, but then I realized that we were surrounded by that very topic. From the Volunteers dog collars and baby clothes in the gift shop to the Gators fans who've driven up for their game against Vandy, the politics of the Southeastern Conference were everywhere, so we just sat back and enjoyed our carbs.

We arrived downtown, surveyed the vendor booths, and headed in to an auditorium a few minutes early for the Grit Lit panel. As we sat down, we realized that we'dcrashed another session. Turns out, we were sitting in on a Q and A session with Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, who talked about how she chooses settings for her work. It was neat and unexpected. 

The panel I was really there to see was comprised of the editors and featured authors of the anthology Grit Lit: a Rough Southern Reader. It was a funny, gritty, and real presentation. I was transfixed by the stories told by Rowan County native Chris Offutt. He's from nowhere, Kentucky, just like me. He's written for some of the smartest shows on TV. He was also as funny and offbeat and fascinating as I expected. I reached for my phone to tweet about the awesomeness, and found that Southern Living staffers were in the Grit Lit audience as well. Around the same time, the panel members started talking about the articles they've written for Oxford American. People who write for the very publications I read most closely -- the ones for which I dream of writing -- were are all around me, participating in the same conversation. It was a great feeling.

After the panel discussion, my beau and I walked around the booths of some of the University Presses  exhibiting at the Festival. We talked with booksellers and lit review editors. We discussed interesting books. We got some ice cream. (Jeni's, to be precise. Salted caramel, which is okay, and whiskey-pecan, which tastes like some sort of fantastic milky Christmas punch made with Early Times.)

After we took in more booths, musicians, and authors, we headed back to the hotel for a nap and some college football. It is a Saturday in the South, after all. Between the nap and the evening's big games, we headed out for some low-key dinner. There, in a suburban chain restaurant, I found my confidence bolstered by the day's events. I'd spent the day among writers who, as is often said, started out with an idea. I began to tell my beau the story of the novel I want to write. I'd never really discussed it with anyone before, but now it's out there. It's real. It was a terrifying and liberating moment.

Back in the hotel, I fell immediately asleep. Les Miles had to coach without me. I had big dreams of first drafts and the fantastic cup of coffee I'd be drinking in the morning.

Couples Tailgate Shower: A Guest Post from Just Lovely Katherine

Katherine of Just Lovely Katherine is one of my very favorite bloggers.  She's the modern Southern Belle -- sweet, adorable, and creative.  She's also a Lexington-based attorney and is planning her wedding in her "spare time."  Katherine graciously offered to share some photos and planning tips from a fabulous tailgate shower she recently threw.  I think y'all will love it! -- HCW
"We're a drinking town with a football problem!" Or so say some! As most of you are probably aware (or totally unaware because we aren't even on your radar), the University of Kentucky isn't exactly known for its tradition of great football. So around here, it's all about the tailgating! Bring together family, friends, food and fun and what better lineup than that for a couples shower, tailgate-style! Even though we don't do football well here at Kentucky, we still like to throw a tailgate that would make any SEC team proud! So, here's how to go about throwing a Couples Shower Tailgate.

Let's break this down into list form, because lists are my thing
  1. The first step in planning any party is to pick a theme. Well, let's back up...first go to A Pair of Pears blog and download their Party Planning Printables. Their free worksheets are fabulous for keeping organized! Now, decide on a theme. Head over to Pinterest and start looking for inspiration (thank heavens for Pinterest!) 
  2. Once you have an idea of the overall look and feel of the party, the next step is to come up with a guest list and order invitations. I had Mary Ellen at Mellen Designs come up with a custom invitation for our tailgate shower. Her work is darling and the invite turned out so perfect! She incorporated UK and monograms! She can create anything, so be sure to get in contact with her for your next party!
  3. After creating a guest list, you should have some sort of idea of how many folks will be attending your soiree, so start thinking about what types of food and beverages you will be serving. For our tailgate shower, we went with delicious southern style BBQ from a local restaurant. Great for feeding the masses! For drinks, we had planned on getting a keg (remember, it's a tailgate afterall), but ended up just purchasing a trunk-load of cases of beer. Keep in mind that when most guests come to the shower, they are also coming to tailgate...in other words, you will need plenty of beer (more than you would for your typical shower)! I think we planned for 5-6 beers per person. 
  4. Now, we have a guest list, invitations mailed out, food selected and ordered, what next? The fun part! Decorations! Like I suggested above, Pinterest is a fabulous source for inspiration. Gather ideas you like, then you can DIY (or attempt to DIY)! One thing to keep in mind - you will have to haul all this stuff to the stadium and back. 
  5. If you are co-hosting an event, be sure to take some of the pressure off yourself by assigning tasks for the other hosts. You can't do it all on your own! I asked my fellow bridesmaids to bring side dishes, desserts, serving things etc. 
  6. Try to incorporate your team colors, football and the honorary couple wherever you can. Then just concentrate on the details that really make a shower special. I painted some flower pots in blue and white an added a "T" for the couple's last name. I planted flowers and a small tree in them and sent them home with the bride and groom-to-be. I made bunting by cutting small rectangles our of fabric and hot gluing them to cord. I also made a rag-type bunting to decorate the food tent. Simply cut up strips of fabric and knot over a long string or ribbon. I baked a blue and white cake and made little "r {heart} j" cake toppers. You can get the little wooden letters and shapes at your local craft store. Glue them to a dowel rod and paint. Easy peasy!
That's about all there is to it! If you are smart, you might consider doing this for an away game and throwing a tailgate shower at home! It was a lot of work to take everything to the stadium and get it set up. Plus, the couple had to haul all their gifts back after the shower. Despite the hauling, it was a huge success and everyone had a fabulous time!!! And no...UK didn't pull out a win!


What Cheerleading Camp and Sorority Rush Can Teach Kentucky Fans

I wrote this post for The Kentucky Girls blog last year, after a particularly ugly loss to Florida. It seems apropos for Wildcat football fans this season as well. Go 'Cats. -- HCW
 
We smiled, but we weren't cheering for a winning team.
If I ever have a kid, I'm going to insist that she become both a cheerleader and a sorority girl. Now, I'm fully aware that I've just articulated the most ridiculous, outdated Southern cliché that one can imagine. The thing is, I'm not claiming that my hypothetical future daughter's most important life goals should be back handsprings or paint-pen crafts.  But, I certainly believe that this tried-and-true path to Southern womanhood taught me a few important lessons.  Lessons that extended to my professional and social well-being. Lessons that, if you'll kindly indulge me a few moments' explanation,could most assuredly be passed along to the Big Blue Nation right about now.  
  • Keep smiling. My tiny Eastern Kentucky high school wasn't exactly known for its football program. In fact, my sophomore year was the first winning season in the football team's history. But, no matter how mediocre our game, my job as a cheerleader was to smile. And provide encouragement. Because I loved our team.   You keep smiling.  You work out your differences in private. And you strengthen your organization without presenting outward displays of strife for the entire world.  As fans, we need to keep smiling-- we need to support the players we have and support the organization we love while acknowledging that there's plenty of room for improvement. 
  • Remember that you're here because you want to be.  Whenever I got discouraged about any aspect of cheering or sorority life, my mama was always quick to remind me that I chose to be there. In fact, I was spending plenty of money for the privilege to be there.  We're Kentucky fans.  We always have been.  We're paying for the privilege of football tickets.  We'll pay for the privilege of tickets to what promises to be an incredible basketball season.  Because we want to wear Kentucky Blue.
  • You don't always like everyone. Get over it. I spent four years as a part of a hundred-or-so-member sorority. I'd spent the previous decade on ten-to-fifteen member cheerleading squads. (For that matter, I've sat on more Junior League committees than I can begin to count...) There were enough in-fights, infidelities and intrigues to provide the CW with a year's worth of new material. Of course I didn't like all the girls involved. Some, I outright loathed. But I learned to keep it to myself, because the greater good of the group was more important. Maybe you don't like Joker's style of coaching.  Maybe you think that your quarterback should put in more than two or three stellar minutes of play.  While there are certainly adjustments to be made, at some point, we need to realize that this is the lineup we have for the year.
  • Sorority Bid Day.
  • Maybe it was better in the past. That's kind of immaterial to the present. Some years, my cheer squad found ourselves undermanned and rudderless after a talented group of seniors graduated. Sometimes, my sorority suffered a lackluster rush and subsequently recruited a small pledge class. Sometimes, the football team for whom I was cheering did not replicate the storied First Winning Season that we enjoyed in 1991. These things happen. We miss Randall a whole lot right now.  Hartline -- 'stache or no-- sure does sound good.  They aren't coming back.
These lessons from the land of hairbows and ribbon belts served me well as I entered the real world.  They taught me to accept situations that I wish were otherwise.  They taught me to adjust my attitude toward crappy situations.  And, well, they're lessons that a whole lot of Wildcats fans would be well-advised to learn this year.

via AJ's Casuals.
Every early indicator tells us that this is going to be an ugly, ugly football season. We've logged two back-to-back losses that have left many of us wondering whether any of the remaining 8 games can be won. It's an exhausting, frustrating thing to be a Kentucky football fan right now-- all we can do, it seems, is count the days until Keeneland and basketball. But, the thing is, we don't stop being Kentucky fans when the team sucks. No matter how disgusting Saturday's game was, I doubt any of you burned your Wildcat gear and started making that Gator-chomp thing. (If you did, then this blog probably isn't for you...) If the next few games play out as badly as I fear (it's gonna take a lot of bourbon to get through the LSU game...), then we need to keep smiling, sorority girl-style, and maintain a little grace and decorum until the post-season.  It just seems the proper thing to do...

Big Blue Fashion Find: Knights Apparel

When I was in school, UK football games were a "jeans and sweatshirt" affair. We dressed up for Keeneland and we looked nice for basketball, but we left the tailgate sundresses to our sisters in the SEC West. After all, they do it so well.

These days, Wildcat girls are really stepping it up. Cute blue dresses are paired with sassy cowboy boots all over Commonwealth Stadium. The Orange Lot is still a far cry from The Grove, but we're doing our conference proud.

Today, I ran across a little game day dress that gives me the best of both worlds -- a soft polo-style dress emblazoned with the UK logo. It's as comfortable as a well-loved vintage tee, but far more stylish.

The best part? It was $23. At Wal-Mart.

You heard me right. This adorable Knights Apparel game day dress. Under $25. At the Wal-Marts. I'd advise you to run out and pick one up at once.

State Traditions Giveaway



 The Big Game is today, and we want to hear what you're wearing.  Red, Blue, or Neutral?

To help us out, the awesome folks at State Traditions are giving away a prize pack -- a koozie, stickers, and the Kentucky Gameday Hat of your choice-- to one lucky HerKentucky winner.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below, and leave a comment letting us know whether you'll be wearing Cardinal Red or Wildcat Blue today.  If you're covering all your bases, like Governor Brown famously did in the Eighties, we want to hear about that, too!

Giveaway ends at midnight Monday September 3.  Winner will be contacted on Tuesday the 4th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway




How I Became A Football Fan

Football Field
Some rights reserved by juggernautco
Born and raised in Kentucky, it's easy to become a basketball fan. For most of us, we're surrounded by it. It's not an exaggeration to say that a whole lot of Kentuckians eat, sleep, and breathe college basketball - whether their blood runs blue or red. Football is a different story. We aren't like other SEC states. People don't name their children Crimson or their dogs Bear. We have to work to become football fans.

As a young kid growing up in Western Kentucky, I remember hearing about my uncle and dad playing football in high school. I remember the neighbor boy showing off his football pads and grossing me out with his mouthguard. What I remember most, though, are Sundays watching football with my dad. We would be lazy on the couch and watch NFL games. My dad liked the Cowboys. Beyond that knowledge, my memory is fuzzy.

I'm not sure when my love of football was firmly cemented, but here are some of the memories that led to my current love affair with football:

The first Super Bowl I really remember watching is Super Bowl XX in 1986. I was five years old and I loved William "Refrigerator" Perry, especially his nickname. To a 5-year old, it's really funny to think of a refrigerator playing football. I loved how big he was. I remember loving the Bears' goofy Super Bowl Shuffle video, too. Funny, I didn't even know I was watching greatness in Walter Peyton's sweet moves.

In October of 1993, I remember the movie trailers for Rudy. I was a 13-year old girl. None of my girl friends liked football, and boys were still gross. I wasn't about to be seen in public with my little sister, and my parents weren't interested in the movie. I begged my mom to let me go see it. Back then, you could do that. So I went to a movie about football all by myself. I loved it. I went to a Catholic school. Notre Dame was a Catholic school. So began a period of loving the Fighting Irish. That year also featured the first bowl game I remember the Wildcats playing in, and I cheered them on, loudly, in the Peach Bowl.

The first weekend of high school, there was a home football game. Even though my school's team wasn't very good, the student section was the place to see and be seen. Unsurprisingly, I was the only one of my group following the game and trying, often in vain, to explain first downs and sacks to the group of girls around me. I thought I was the coolest. I wasn't.

By the end of high school, I was dating a football player as was one of my best friends. We went to away games together, and I coached her on the vocabulary of the game - pointing out the accomplishments of her running back boyfriend. The best thing to come out of my relationship with that high school boyfriend was a deepening love for football.

It's still amazing to me that I chose a college that doesn't have a football team. What, exactly, was I thinking? Despite that fact, college is when I really came into my own in regards to football. I went to a couple of UK games with friends who scored student tickets. I saw a UK quarterback chosen first in the NFL draft my freshman year (that still boggles my mind). I watched future Super Bowl (backup) quarterback Jared Lorenzen eat pizzas across the street from our house on University Avenue. I watched The Bluegrass Miracle. More importantly, I spent Saturdays recovering from Friday night studying with College Gameday on television in the background. I did the same thing on Sundays with NFL Countdown.

Traveling the state for work in the early 2000s, Monday Night Football was the bright spot of my week. I remember watching Brett Favre (he's my favorite, I don't care what you say about him!) play his heart out the day after his father died on a Monday night while I was in a hotel room in Pineville. I remember, too, sitting in Paducah watching the Monday night Peyton Manning and the Colts scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to beat the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers - one of the most thrilling quarters of football I ever witnessed.

The 2007 UK season was a milestone one for me. My new boyfriend, who wasn't a sports fan at all (and that worried me), agreed to watch football with me. We watched the Wildcats beat Louisville for the first time in four years at a bar on our fourth or fifth date. He was sweet and acted interested, because he knew it was important to me. A month later, he was still around to watch the most thrilling game of football I've ever seen (and he was genuinely interested by that time!) - the night the Wildcats defeated the #1 LSU Tigers in Commonwealth Stadium in triple overtime when Stevie Johnson got loose once again!

The Aftermath
Attribution Some rights reserved by Chris Breeze
While I'm less interested in going to games in person, now, being old and preferring to sit on my couch, I'm no less thrilled with great football. When pressed, I'll tell you that the Green Bay Packers are my favorite NFL team, but I really just love a good game (and for my Fantasy players to do well!). Just like in basketball, I have teams I regularly root for with no good reason (Texas/Oklahoma/The New York Giants) and teams I regularly root against (USC/Ohio State/The New England Cheaters Patriots). I'm the strongest Gator Hater and I wrinkle my nose at houndstooth when those teams are playing Kentucky, but on BCS Championship night, I'm always rooting for the eventual champions (because you know the champions come from the SEC!).

Sports is my thing. I've always been the girl who likes sports, and I take way too much pride in the fact that I can talk sports with "the guys". More importantly, though, football and sports are a way that I mark time. I'll remember, fondly, the moments mentioned above, and I can't wait for another season of memorable moments to be made.