Match My Monogram

I love monograms. My initials are on EVERYTHING I own. At one point, I even had a "monogrammed" car.

It's a Southern girl thing. Like Reece Witherspoon once said, 
My sheets are monogrammed, so is my silverware and pretty much everything else I own. My rule is, if it's not moving, monogram it.
This is all great, but sometimes I change my mind.

Recently, I've realized that my monogrammed Vera Bradley "shack pack" screams "sorority girl going home for the weekend." Now, that isn't exactly the image I want to convey. I'm slowly retiring  the flowery, girly pieces out of the rotation in favor of classic L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bags.

The only problem? I have no idea what to do with a perfectly good bag that just happens to scream "HCW".

I was so excited to hear from Katy Chambers, the owner of Match My Monogram, an online marketplace for new and gently-used monogrammed goods. What a great idea! If you take your husband's name, or your no-longer-little baby hits a growth spurt,  then you can find someone to love those custom pieces as much as you do!

Match My Monogram is a great way to buy monogrammed items as well. Not only can you find new and like-new items from individual sellers, they also serve as a custom clearinghouse for many businesses that create personalized products and may have too many old samples or unfortunate monogram mishaps. It's a great place to find customized items at a discount!

I think you'll love Match My Monogram. I really enjoy being able to see what other HCWs have for sale. It's a great place to buy and sell kids' items, too. I love the idea of reusing these custom birthday banners! It's great to know that all the love, planning and expense put into these items will be paid forward!

Match My Monogram is offering a special discount for HerKentucky readers. For the next month (through March 5th), you can use the discount code HERKENTUCKY20 for 20% off the entire site! 

What do you monogram?

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 Now, I'm fully aware that I've just articulated the most ridiculous, outdated Southern cliché that one can imagine.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...

The Labor Day Rule

Every year, they almost get me.

Fashion blogs and women's magazines try to convince me.  They create dualities like "modern vs. old-fashioned" or "fresh and new vs. stifling and fussy."  And, they almost suck me in.   

via Neiman Marcus.
White jeans are, effectively, jeans, I tell myself.  It was the hottest July on record and a miserably muggy August. Most days, I couldn't have worn capris, let alone long pants. Maybe September and October would be a good time to wear lighter, more flattering jeans.  Maybe even ... white ones.

It all seems so logical and harmless.  And then, I realize what I've just talked myself into.  And I hear my mother's voice, giving me strict instructions about linen, seersucker, and whites.  And I shudder to think of the horrible faux pas to which I've tacitly agreed.

I guess I'm an-old fashioned girl when it comes to hard-and-fast rules.  Maybe I'm willing to accept the labels "fussy" and "old-fashioned."  Maybe I'm okay with being traditional and Southern, magazines be damned.  Or, maybe, like Megan, I'm just sick of wearing summer clothes.  
Things I wore this summer.

Summer 2012 included some absolutely amazing moments.  My cousin got married.  I got back into running, and entered my favorite 5K for the first time in years.  HerKentucky started to reach a wider audience -- we were featured on a Lexington news show, and we learned that a whole lot of y'all wanted a little bourbon in your popsicles.  It was really a fantastic three months.

But, it's time for this awesome summer to draw to a close.  Sometime in the next week or so, I'll put away my sandals and sundresses.  The Lilly Pulitzer prints and seersucker skirts will quietly sit on the shelf until next year.  My unworn white jeans will give way to seasonally appropriate, on-trend jeans in vibrant colors and eye-catching patterns.  I just couldn't live with myself any other way.

Her Kentucky Entertaining: Blue and White Dishes

Blue Italian, via Spode
There's just something about blue and white dishes.  Everybody's grandmother has at least a couple of pieces of blue transferware.  My own grandmother is a devotee of the Blue Willow pattern -- the classic tale of star-crossed Mandarin lovers first set to porcelain by  18th century English potters. It's just such a classic, clean pairing -- one that can easily transition from season to season with only a few tweaks of linen and flowers.   Still, Blue Willow and its various transferware cousins can seem a little stodgy at times.  They kind of scream "tea with Granny", which isn't always the tone you want to convey.  
In my old 'hood.

I adore Kentucky's very own answer to blue-and-white pottery: the quirky, hand-painted pieces produced by Louisville Stoneware and Hadley Pottery.

Bachelor Button, via Louisville Stoneware.
The Louisville Stoneware story goes back to 1815, when the company was founded as the JB Taylor Company.  Over the years, the company has changed owners and names many times, but has built a reputation for producing beautiful pottery from rich, ancient clay imported from Western Indiana.  In recent decades, Louisville Stoneware has become a go-to for Kentucky-themed items like Hot Brown plates and Burgoo mugs as well as customized corporate gifts (most Kentuckians have at least one promotional mug or personalized gift bearing the Stoneware insignia; for years, they were pretty much the standard gift for law clerks, bank customers and conference-goers.)  My own Stoneware collection -- amassed when I lived within walking distance of the Highlands-based studio -- includes the stylized likeness of Colonel Sanders as well as a reproduction of Rupp Arena.  But, you can't talk about Louisville Stoneware without a mention of Bachelor Button, the quintessential Stoneware pattern which dates back to 1971.  While Louisville Stoneware has expanded their tableware to include a variety of patterns, the blue-and-white blooms are a perennial favorite for Kentucky wedding registries.

Bouquet, via Hadley Pottery.
A stone's throw away from the Stoneware factory is M.A. Hadley Pottery.  Mary Alice Hadley was born into a family of clay tile makers at the turn of the last century and, by the 1930s, had begun painting her own pottery for use on the family houseboat.  For a while, she fired her designs at the J.B. Taylor factory before her husband purchased her a Butchertown studio for her birthday in 1944.  The current Hadley artisans continue to produce designs in Mrs. Hadley's style.  Hadley collectors love the charming, whimsical prints that are the brand's hallmark.

Most collectors fall vehemently into a Stoneware or Hadley camp.  Hadley dishes are trimmed in a subtly lighter blue than Stoneware pieces.  Louisville Stoneware often embraces Kentucky themes while Hadley Pottery is known for more whimsical pieces with farmland, stick figure, and beach themes.

Whatever your preference, these unique, Louisville-made blue-and-white pieces are staples of Kentucky tables.  They're as classic and timeless as your granny's blue transferware, but with decidedly more flair and presence.

Do y'all fall into the Blue Willow, Stoneware or Hadley camps?