My Fall (Kentucky) Bucket List.

Kentucky in the fall is a breath taking place. I may be a little bit biased, but I absolutely adore my home state. I have been many places in the USA and there is no place like Kentucky. Brilliant colors, crisp clean air, pristine lakes, foggy mountains. Kentucky is hard to top. Every Autumn I like to do fall activities with my children, and think of news ways to give them a grand appreciation of their home. I started the idea of a bucket list last year with Greyson, and will continue this year with both of my baby boys. After much thought and consideration, here is what my fall bucket list looks like.

1: The Pumpkin Patch: Holliday Farms

I love this place. I was raised a few miles away from here, in Ary (Rowdy) Kentucky. I took Greyson here last year and he adored it. The farm is family owned and operated and is truly beautiful. It has a old time country fell to it, which really adds to the experience. They have a really neat corn maze, that kids love. I even loved it. You can go out and pick your own pumpkin, and then they have tables set up where the kids can paint them. They have snacks, concessions, and offer hay rides and a petting zoo. You can also purchase a variety of pumpkins, mums, and other seasonal goodies. All in all, this is a must if you have small children. They will love it, and it is fun for the entire family.

                                               Here is a link to the official website for Holliday Farms.
                                               http://www.hollidayfarmandgarden.com/

Check them out, and give them a visit.

2: Red River Gorge/Miguels Pizza

Located in Wolf County, this little gem is one of my favorite places. I love the gorge. But the gorge in the fall is amazing. Even if you just pass through it, it is worth the gas money. I like to drive through and stop at the visiting center, and the old log cabin that is along the road. There are also several short walking trails and look out points that you can go and get a breath taking view. If you are a more avid hiker/adventurist, they offer kayaking and camp grounds, as well as rock climbing and cabin rentals.

                                                       http://www.redrivergorge.com/

Miguels pizza is also located in the gorge. It is the most adorable little restraunt, and is always PACKED. The food is delicious!

                                                        http://www.miguelspizza.com/ 

3: Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate.

                                                               http://henryclay.org/

Located at the corner of Sycamore, and Richmond Roads in Lexington, Ky, Henry Clay’s 18 room mansion will leave you speechless. For those of you who may not know, Henry Clay is one of the great figures of Kentucky History. Clay was a stateman for the Union, and also known as “The Great Compromiser”. Henry Clay changed the role of Speaker of the House and made it the powerful position it is today.  Henry Clay held that office longer than anyone in the history of the House of Representatives  other than Sam Rayburn. It is fun to go view the grounds of the estate, and learn about such an influential figure in not only Kentucky’s history, but also the history of our great nation. They offer tours of the mansion, and also the museum, located on the grounds.

4: White Hall in Richmond, Ky.

Can we just talk about how much I die for this house? Oh my goodness. When I was in school at Eastern, I went here several times to try and go on a tour and I never did get to. White Hall was the Kentucky home of Cassius Marcellus Clay. He was an anti-slavery newspaper publisher, politician, soldier and Minister to Russia through the Lincoln, Johnson and Grant administrations. He published True American for nearly 25 years. His daughter, Laura Clay, was the first woman nominated for President by the Democratic Party. So much history in this home. I would love to see it. Obviously I am a history buff.
This restored 44-room Italianate mansion was built in 1798-1799 and remodeled in the 1860s. This house was restored in 1971 under the leadership of Kentucky’s First Lady Beula C. Nunn, with assistance of the Kentucky Mansions Preservation Foundation.[1] In addition to the heirloom and period furnishings, White Hall has many unique features for its day, including indoor plumbing and central heating.
White Hall is located at 500 White Hall Shrine Road in Richmond, Kentucky. It is a state historic site and is open for tours Wednesday – Sunday, April 1 – October 31.

 5: Ride the RJ Corman Old Kentucky Dinner Train.

                                                    http://www.kydinnertrain.com/
I have never been on any kind of train, other than the subway in DC. I think this would be amazing. Greyson would absolutely love it. My Mom and Aunts went last year and they had rave reviews. he train travels roundtrip from R.J. Corman’s Lexington Station through beautiful horse farms; pass Keeneland Race Course, the village of Pisgah and into the town of Versailles.
The train ride is approximately 2 hours for lunch and 2 ½ hours for dinner excursions. Special children’s excursions, for ages 3 through 12, and breakfast excursions are approximately 1 ½ hours in length. In the winter during christmas, they also offer a Polar Express ride for children. I am most definitly doing that this year!

Hopefully, I will get to do all of these with my boys this fall. What is your fall bucket list, and do you enjoy Autumn as much as I do? I hope so. Time to go out and make fall magical!

5 Times I Wish I Had Listened to My Mom.

I am on the cusp of turning 25. I often find myself looking back, and wondering where the time has gone. I am married to the love of my life, have two beautiful children, a beautiful home, and a family that adores them. My life now, is pretty close to perfect, in my opinion. I have everything that I have ever wanted, but it hasn’t always been that way. I am in no way, shape, or form perfect. I have had personal struggles. I have made many, many, bad decisions and poor choices. To say that I went through a “rebellious stage” in my teens, would have to be an understatement. After all the heartache, looking back now, I see that I could have avoided almost all of it, if I had just listened to my mother. Every major life event that has ever gone wrong, she has been on the sidelines, cheering for me to go in the other direction. Every time that I was headed to hells door, she was there trying to send  me back up to the light. Why didn’t I listen? Does any young person ever really listen to their parents, until they are grown? Ohhh, the sleep I could have avoided losing if I had just followed her orders. Sitting in bed this morning, sipping coffee, I reflect on times that I wish I had just bit the bullet and listened to Ole Pammy Pam.

1: Don’t date bad boys, they only turn into bad men. Yeah, this is a big one. Not just for me, but it seems like my inner circle of friends (when we were younger) just loved to date people that treated us like crud. Ladies, honestly, there is nothing attractive about a bad boy. They suck on so many levels. Just because he has a motorcycle and a criminal record, doesn’t mean it is an open invitation to try to “change” him. I understand in our weird brains, that we view this as a challenge, and want to be that girl they change for, but it will never happen. Unless they are carbon copies of James Dean, circa “Rebel Without a Cause”, leave em alone. (Even then, you’re still not Natalie Wood.) Trust me on this.

2: Take School Seriously. Ugh, if I had a dollar for every single time I heard this. I was always a good student, and then I had a taste of freedom in college and went wild. I breezed through semesters and didn’t give grad school, or even graduation a second though. Far less, what or how I would support my future family, because of course, according to me at 18, I was “never, ever having children”. Yeah, look at me now, I just recently sold a mini van at 24. Honestly, get an education. I finished up the lab assistant program with a baby and it was HARD. I plan on going back, SOMEDAY, but I know it will be even more challenging with two. Finish up before you have kids and make it easier on yourself, any mom in school with tell you that.

3: Stop letting people use you. This includes friends, boyfriends, family members. Whatever. If someone only comes around when it benefits them, then go ahead and cut them out of your life. They aren’t your friend. These relationships usually turn toxic and end badly.

4: Cherish your true friends, and be there for them. I have a group of girlfriends that I adore, and even though we may not see each other as much as we’d like, when we do get together it is like time has never passed. People grow up, have their own lives, and move away, but the bond of true friendship can withstand numerous miles and missed phone calls. You all know who you are, and you know that through thick and thin, I will always be there for you guys!

5: NEVER SETTLE. Everyone deserves to be happy. Everyone deserves the best. It doesn’t matter if it is a relationship, or a job. Do not settle for something that is mediocre when you could find something that is perfect. It took me a long time to quit settling, but once I did, my entire life changed, and for the better.

And then, there was one piece of advice I DID take…………

My Mom encouraged me to marry someone that made me a better person. I had broken off an engagement that I knew wasn’t right. She knew it too, but never said it. It was one of the best decisions, to date, that I have ever made for myself, and I am sure he feels the same. She assured me that when I found the one, I’d know, and to just go ahead and get married. Then I met my husband. Kyle and I were married after 8 months, a lot of drama, and a seriously wonderful whirlwind courtship. Mom was right, I just knew. It’s been nearly three years and two kids later, and he still inspires me to be a better person. We have a lot of fun together, even if it’s just sitting on the porch laughing about the day.

Moral of the story: Your mama knows what she is talking about. If I have any young readers out there, take it from the Queen of defiance and stupid choices, listen to her. She knows you better than anyone, and is willing to put up with all of your shit and still love you. If she tells you not to do something, leave it at that, and just don’t. Don’t be like me, looking back and cringing at all the idiotic things that I did in the past. Hopefully I can offer the same insight to my boys, although, if they are anything like me they probably won’t listen.

One last thing, if you mom tells you that lime green, sequined prom dress that you die for is ugly, then chances are it probably is……

Fall is HERE! Black Gold, Festival Food, and Crafts!

I absolutely love fall. When I was young, I remember it being such a magical time for myself and for my cousins. My Grandpa would help us rake mounds and mounds of leaves, and laugh, as we would roll down hills, and end up with caterpillars in our hair and chiggers all over us. My Mom’s house always smelled like pumpkin and gingerbread, and as the days got shorter and cooler, and school wound back into routine, I loved the crispness of the air and easiness of sweaters, and boots. The anticipation of Halloween, and picking out which costume to wear, and where to go trick or treating was always one of my favorite things. My Aunt and Uncle would throw huge Halloween parties at their home, complete with a terrifying (haunted) obstacle course, centered around their own home-made legend of a ghoul who lived out back named JR. (yes, we all believed it.) Now, I am a Mother and I hope to make Fall as magical for my children as my family once made it for me. Fall to me still means many things. For as long as I can remember, there has always been one thing, to me, that has symbolized the beginning of Autumn, and that would be the Black Gold Festival, here in good ole Hazard.

The Black Gold Festival was held last weekend, and of course I had to lug my two babies downtown to get some delicious (and fattening) festival food. I know that most people here in town (and sometimes myself included) talk about how much they dislike the Black Gold, but it does bring in revenue to Hazard, so I can’t talk too negatively about it. It is hard dealing with the traffic (especially because I live in town) but I do feel very nostalgic about the festivities. I used to love going to the carnival, getting a wrist band and riding the scrambler and tilt-o-whirl all day, until I lost my lunch. Trying your best to win a goldfish or a bunny rabbit at the Carnival games, or playing darts with balloons to win some cheesy pop culture poster. I have fond memories of the Black Gold in it’s glory days.

I always enjoying going downtown and seeing people that I know. You can always count on seeing almost everyone that you went to school with, and half of the people that you know, which isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s nice to catch up. I ended up running into my dear friend, Ms. Alison Wells, who is not only a great attorney, but a great person as well. She is running for Circuit Judge in November, and was doing a fantastic job, handing out free waters and lemonade at her booth. I just think the world of her, she has been so kind to me over the years, and she will make a fantastic Judge.

I couldn’t leave without browsing through the craft booths, which are always filled with local vendors. I like to shop local, because if everyone did, we could really boost our economy. I was really impressed with the diversity of goods they offered this year. From home made quilts, to custom cut belts, down to refurbished furniture and local gemstones. It was truly interesting to just go and look and take everything in.

Of course, I also had to get a funnel cake, and a blooming onion. Festival food staples, I am ashamed to say we demolished every bit!

Fall is truly a time of those last few cookouts, festivals, pumpkin patches and playgrounds. The Black Gold, for me, has always symbolized the beginning. I am always just a little excited for it, (yes, I am a kid at heart) and always a tiny bit sad to see it go. My babies enjoyed it, and therefor, I enjoyed it. (My Husband, not so much.) But here’s to the beginning of fall! May you all have lots of Apple Cider, bountiful Halloween Candy, pumpkin spice everything, and lots of love and laughter.

PJ’s Attic is Hazard’s Local Treasure Trove.

 Located conveniently on East Main, in Hazard Ky, PJ’s Attic, is Hazard’s resident treasure trove. Owned and operated by Ms. Paula Goodlette, this unique little shop has captured many hearts in the area. I love walking into a place and never knowing what I am going to find. People have asked me several times, where I like to go in our area to shop around for unique antiques or things that are hard to find, and I always have to gush to them about how completely amazing PJ’s is. Because honestly, I have never really been to another place like it. From glittering hat pins, glam 1950’s brooches, vintage baby layette sets, delicate depression glass bone dishes, to beautiful hand carved antique beds, worn books, vintage TIME magazines and kooky handmade aprons, this store is something
everyone should go and take in.

I was lucky enough to have had some one on one time with Ms. Goodlette and she showed me around her store yesterday, and spoke to me about the history regarding it’s location. The shop is located in the old Hazard A&P building, which was built by Goodlette’s grandfather in he 1950’s. I have heard many people speak of the old A&P, and share fond memories. My Grandmother used to shop there and my mom can remember being little and going with her.

Goodlette also had an indoor vendors mall in the location for 23 years, which I told her that I can remember going to with my Grandparents and Aunts when I was young. Later, this became PJ’s Attic when people started coming to her for answers on where to find antique used furniture. The idea just kind of took off. PJ’s also offers consignment services. If you have things that you want her to come box up and take back to her store to sell, she will do it for a commission, and you can also take things to her to be sold. She deals a lot with estate sales and liquidations also. The shop is rich in history, and even if you aren’t going in to buy anything, just going in to browse and soak up times gone by, will leave you with on a smile on your face. Even my two year old loves going in and looking at all the trinkets and toys.

 I loved the necklace and earring set on the left. If only I had somewhere fancy enough to wear it to!

PJ’s has a wide selection of antique jewelry, right down to furniture, glassware, pictures, nick knacks
, books, vinyls and basically anything you can imagine! I love going in to browse to see what she has brought in. When Kyle and I were first married, he bought me a silver antique cigarette case there that I absolutely ADORE. I have also purchased a seriously unique marble office ash tray there, and a beautiful Orvis briefcase for Kyle. She has great deals, is willing to negotiate and offers half off sales, and other seasonal options. She also in the process of expanding her space, and has opened up several more rooms in addition to her already sprawling inventory. There really is something for every one there!

So if you are ever in the area, this is one of those stores that you will want to go and tell you friends about. I love getting a glimpse back into simpler days gone by, and buying pieces to have in my home that reflect those by gone eras.

https://www.facebook.com/paula.pjsattic?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Above is the face book link to PJ’s Attic! If you have any questions, Paula is always more than helpful and always posts pictures of her new merchandise and is more than accommodating when it comes to her customers.

Happy Pickin everyone!

16 Quotes from The Divine Secrets of the YAYA Sisterhood (By Rebecca Wells) that every Southern Woman will appreciate.

I recently went to Goodwill, and found a worn copy of  the novel, Divine Secrets of the YAYA Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells. I ADORE the movie, well, in part because the director is from Kentucky, and I will watch anything where Maggie Smith is a foul mouthed, chain smoker hooked to an oxygen tank. I have to say, usually the book is leaps and bounds better than any movie, but I feel the movie captured the embodiment of the YaYas. But to get the full effect, I suggest reading the book. Part of the reason why I love the story so much, is because I picture myself as Sidda, and my mother and my aunts are the YAYAs. I was raised by a bunch of wild, complex, beautiful and mesmerizing women. It is easy for me to romanticize them, but as soon as I read the book, they came to my mind.

 Southern women, (especially Kentucky girls) take great pride in just that, being Southern. The books DRIPS with Southern imagery, lore, music, sayings, recipes and anything else you can think of. Wells touches on friendship, love, illness, addiction and Motherhood. I believe those are some subjects, that all of us “belles” can relate to, and understand. Here are 16 quotes every Southern woman should appreciate,  and 16 reasons to read the damn book.

1: “It’s life. You don’t figure it out. You just climb up on the beast and ride.”

2: “I have been to the edge and lived to tell the tale..”

3: “But all she wanted to do was lie in bed, eat Kraft macaroni and cheese, and hide from the alligators.”  

4: “Sometimes you just have to reach out and grab what you want, even when they tell you not to. This is something that I’ve struggled with my whole life long.”  

5: “… a full moon shimmered over central Louisiana. This was no rinky-dink moon. This was a moon you had to curtsy to. A big, heavy, mysterious, beautiful, bossy moon. The kind you want to serve things to on a silver platter.”  

6: “…the love we most cherish will, of necessity, bring us pain. Because that love is like the setting of a body with broken bones. But I want to stage the setting. I want to direct all scenes.”  

7:” This is a cardinal Ya-Ya rule: you must meet each person’s eyes while clinking glasses in a toast. Otherwise, the ritual has no meaning, it’s just pure show. And that is something the Ya-Yas are not.” 

8: “I wish I knew then what I know now – and still had those thighs!”

9:   “Do you think any of us know how to love?! Do you think anybody would ever do anything if they waited until they knew how to love?! Do you think that babies would ever get made or meals cooked or crops planed or books written or what God-damn-have-you? Do you think people would even get out of bed in the morning if they waited until they knew how to love? You have had too much therapy. Or not enough. God knows how to love, kiddo. The rest of us are only good actors.

Forget love. Try good manners.”  

10: “It was the kind… of Southern women… who believe… that it is impossible to arrive in a new place without a pair of shoes to match every possible change of clothes.”  

11: “I am the kind of woman who loves hurricanes. They put me in a party mood. Make me want to eat oysters on the half shell, and act slutty.”

12: “I want to lay up like that, to float unstructured, without ambition or anxiety. I want to inhabit my life like a porch.”  

13: “The only disease that can survive in our bloodstreams is alcoholism.”

14:” I am sick of fighting! And, I am sick to death of this whole center of the universe, holier than thou, nothing is ever enough. Oh, how I’ve suffered, nobody understands me. Somebody fix me a drink and hand me a Nebutol, worn out Scarlett O’Hara… thang!”

15: “Now, I don’t want any candles on my cake. It’ll look like the burning of Atlanta!”

16: “You know, Teensy, ever since you quit drinking you’ve stopped thinking clearly. How can I possibly call somebody who no longer exists? Give me the phone!”

Cherish the “YaYas” in your life. Girlfriends are few and far between. Be proud to be a Southerner, love your mama, never stop laughing, always have fun, and don’t forget the stop and listen to the ice clinking in your glass!

The Struggles of being a UK Fan.

I must admit, my home bleeds blue. Even my two year old knows how to spell out, and chant THE cheer. C-A-T-S, CATS-CATS-CATS. We will order take out, and plan entire weekends around football games, basketball games, Big Blue Madness, and whatever else BBN entails. We brave freezing temperatures, or sweltering heat to go tail gate at Commonwealth, with thousands of booze soaked fans, hoping that AT LAST, Kentucky will have a winning football program. We turn off the cell phones, put up all the breakables, and tell the kids to “earmuff” it, when Calipari and his boys are back on the court.  Did I mention that UK cheerleaders are seriously like the most amazing bunch of athletes in the world? The things that those people do are INSANE, and they have won Nationals for basically the last twenty-something years.

Whatever the sport, I have to say, being a Kentucky fan isn’t something you acquire, you’re born into it. From a young age, you are programmed. I can name coaches that died before I was born, games that were played when I was in diapers, ( One word: Laettner) and still get tears in my eyes when speaking of my memories regarding the “Comeback Cats”,  THE 2012 Championship Team, and of course, the awe inspiring tournament run of the youngsters from 2013. Yeah, being a Kentucky fan is tough. We have a lot expected of us, when it comes to Big Blue Nation. It is really something spectacular, and unless you are a part of it, it is hard to understand. After last night’s (heartbreaking) loss to Florida, I slumped on the couch, tears in my eyes. My husband and I barely spoke to each other, we just went to bed. Both of us took it right to the heart. It got me to thinking, wow, how great is it to love a school, and athletic program so much, that it has that kind of effect on you.

I made the mistake of telling my husband about this post before starting it. I made it this far before I gave in and threw him the laptop.

_________________________________________________________________________________

FINALLY! This is Kyle. Thank you all for supporting my wife’s blog. I am proud beyond words. I was so proud of her for this post in particularly that I hijacked it. I apologize in advance for not being as articulate as Courtney, but here is a list of  5 struggles that every die-hard UK fan can understand.

1. ESPN Commentators:

        Watching any Kentucky sport on ESPN is like  being a Baptist and going to your local catholic church and having the priest give you the play-by-play of your church’s sermon. You’ll understand what is going on, but you’re probably not going to agree with the commentary. UK fans rarely see the game in the same light, but what can you do? Buy something like this. Radio Sync – Tom Leach For Life!

2. Backseat Coaching:

         Mark Stoops and John Calipari put in long hours. I know this because I put my time in analyzing what we did wrong and what we need to do in the next game, and they won’t even let me make any decisions. We all have to talk about it the next day, whether we feel like it to or not. I have more stances on types of offenses and player rotation than I have political views.

3. Louisville:

      I could have made this a ten-part list, but I decided to lump in “dealing with line beards” and “the smell of Crown Royal” in with this one. Seriously. We can’t stand the Cardinals. They’re UK’s little brother, and one day we may all grow up and get along, but not today. I guess it’s great for the state to have multiple successful NCAA programs, but they aren’t UK.

4. Non-related Events on Game Day:

    If someone tells me to save a date for something, I check a calendar and then the UK schedule. Have you ever been to a large event during a Kentucky game? Every man (and at lease half of the women) are on a cell phone getting updates. If you search every back room, there will be a group huddled around a television or radio. My wife already knows the drill, if we leave an event and the game is still on. Buckle your seat belt and turn the radio to 101.1.

5. Losses:

     Some of them are close, and some aren’t very close. Either way, they are accompanied by bouts of nausea, anger, and boundless despair. Great plays get us extremely excited and bad plays (or just plain bad luck) cause profanity and broken television remotes. When the final buzzer sounds with UK on the bottom, however, that feeling is indefinable. Even if it was, I refuse to try.

    Courtney is right when it comes to being a fan of the University of Kentucky. Bleeding blue is something we just do. I can’t speak for all of us, but I can’t remember when I started to feel that way. The idea of loyalty and dedication to the program has always been around me. Not just within my own family, but in almost everyone I knew. The “team” was a staple of communication, right there with the weekly weather. If a game is on, everyone I know is watching. It isn’t just a game or a sport to us. It is an embodiment of all the other things we’ve experienced, felt or taken away because of it.

    I know what a basketball feels like when all the leather has been worn away. That came from hours of playing imaginary opponents on a dirt court, pretending I was playing for a championship in Rupp Arena. I never turned into NCAA talent, but at that point I believed it was possible. Did that make me a better person, or would I have better spent my time on my homework? Who knows, but its something that has shaped me, and its not something that I can’t forget. Regardless of the struggles Kentucky fans endure, we accept the bad with the good and wait for game day. On On U of K!

Plainly spoken by two die hard Kentucky fans.

Just when I thought I couldn’t love my MOM any more, she became a GRANDMA.

Growing up, I can remember always thinking I was so lucky, because I had a beautiful Mother. Not just physically, she was, and is still quiet attractive, but deep down too. My Mom is one of the most selfless, loving, caring, and intelligent women I know. She was a hell of a Mom, then, and now she is an even better Grandma. The love she has for my two boys, knows no bounds. Just watching her with them, makes my heart swell with pride. How lucky are we, to have someone who is such an inspiration?

I can’t talk for the rest of you, but I know one thing. I never truly appreciated my Mother, until I had kids. Knowing that she did the same things for me, that I do for my children on a daily basis. No one knows that kind of love and sacrifice until they experience it. Getting up at 4 am to change a dirty diaper, kissing painful boo boos, sitting criss cross, applesauce in the floor, to read Henry and Mudge. It is hard to fathom that someone could love anyone as much as you love your kids, but then you realize, that your Mother did. She loved you. That is something that hits you like a ton of bricks one day, and makes you think, wow, maybe I should be nicer to Mom, she used to wipe my butt.

Only now do I realize that, all those late nights she made me come home at curfew, she was worried sick. All those times she told me, he isn’t worth it, or trust me, you’ll look back and thank me. She was right. All that unsolicited advice she offered me, about my future, schooling, marriage, children. She knew best. I wish I had only listened to half of it. She knew I wouldn’t though, and she offered, and loved me anyways. Only a Mom could do that.

Not only do I love and appreciate my Mom more, after seeing her care and love my children. But I am also slowly, (and hilariously) turning into her. I have the same haircut now that she donned at 24. (Pure coincidence but nevertheless, pretty funny.) I catch myself saying stuff she used to say to me, when I was little. (Telling Greyson if he doesn’t behave, the boogey foogs are going to get him. Horrible, I know. But he loves it.) Singing the same lullabies to the babies she used to sing to me. I realize, if I am going to turn into anyone, it would most definitely have to be her. I could be proud, being like my Mom.

So, the next time you are overwhelmed, and your Mom, comes and swoops in the babysit, or help with laundry, (like mine) even just to offer up an ear at the other end of a phone call, thank her. Tell her how much you appreciate her, and love her, and how glad you are, that she is the Grandmother of your children. It is something I don’t do enough, but I have taken the time to do now.

Mom, I love you. You make me proud every day, and always have. Thanks for being such an awesome Mother, but thanks even more for being such an amazing GRANDMA.

We love you. -Court & The Boys. ( And even Kyle.)

My Love Affair with Hazard.

Hazard Kentucky. A small town, nestled in the foothills of South Eastern Kentucky. Part of Appalachia, the area has a rich history. Elijah Combs traveled here in 1795 and built the first “temporary” house on the North Fork of the Kentucky River. He was the founder of Perry County, which was the 68th county founded in Kentucky, in 1821. Even in early court records, the town was always called Hazard. Hazard grew slowly, and by the time the civil war broke out, there were about a dozen families settled here. The Civil War was a time of misery for the mountain people, and the town was subject to guerrilla raids and looting from a band of wild outlaws. The expansion of the railroad, and the boom of lumber and the  coal industry in the 1920’s transformed the town into a major mining industry, which still somewhat continues today.

Even though now, we are mostly known for our addiction problems, and coal lay offs. I still have a love affair with my home town. It started for me when I was young, and a trip to Hazard was a big treat. We lived in Lost Creek, which is out in the county and is a lengthy drive into town. I can remember going to an old fashioned styled drug store, on Main street,  and watching as they would make lemonade by hand, while I sat a top a swiveling bar stool. I can’t be sure, but I always assumed that it was Rexall’s. I used to love to stop in Bybee jewelry (now the Hall’s Mall’s) and look at all the trinkets, pottery and pretties they had displayed. My mom always told me not to touch. Christmas downtown, when I was little, was magical. There were trees lining the side walks and they would drape Christmas lights across the street. It almost looked like a glittered canopy. Every store window was painted and decorated. People took a lot of pride in it. I loved that.  There was Huff Drug, located in Hazard clinic, that had a never ending display of gifts, especially teddy bears, that made my doctors visits a little more cheery. They sold licorice in the single slices, not the Twizzlers kind. I remember always getting a pack before going upstairs. On Sundays, my dad would take me to Circle T for chicken and dumplins, and then to France’s for peanut butter milkshakes. He used to know, and like both owners and so, he didn’t want to pick a side. Small town life. Little things.

School Rivalries. Namely, M.C. Napier (back in the day) and Hazard, and now Perry Central and Hazard. You want to talk about getting someone riled up, just mention it. My mom and my step dad were high school sweethearts. Mom cheered for Napier, Keith played ball for Hazard. It is STILL an issue in our house when they play each other. My mom is so awful, she can’t even go to games.  I am a Commodore through and through, ( I cheered for Perry) and I live on a street with the Principal of Hazard High school, a prospective Mayor candidate, the Magistrate of Hazard and numerous die hard bulldog fans. I am outnumbered and outranked. (But I am still looking for a PCC flag to fly on my front porch) Nowhere else can you hate someone blatantly during a ballgame, and then after it is over, go out with them and be best friends. Small town life. 

As I got older, I started to see more and more businesses close down.Schools were consolidated, the coal industry was changing. Downtown Hazard now, is only a shell of what it used to be. There are loiters that dirty up the streets, hookers that make the town a running punch line among visitors. It makes me sad to see what was once a booming, beautiful little town, turn desolate. But still, I have a love affair with Hazard that has never went away. I moved away briefly (to Richmond)  after graduating high school, spent much of that year so homesick that I couldn’t think straight. I came right back home. Something about these mountains, and this town, gets in your blood and never lets you go. I see people leave all the time, and then come right back. Hazard is just a part of who I am, I will more than likely never leave it.

The people, the traditions, the heritage. Families that have known each other from generation to generation. You have the same teachers your parents had. You eat at the same restaurants your grandparents used to. Everyone is so intertwined. Our cast of characters in town is more like something from a slapstick comedy. Everyone knows Larry Love, the sweet newspaper guy that can put a smile on anyone’s face, down to HB, the longtime liquor distributor known as Brewers. Life is slow and small here, but at the same time, done on a big scale. So contrasting and different in every way.

I look forward to raising my children here, whatever anyone else says. They will go to school with the children of my classmates, and probably hear tales about me in my younger days. They will more than likely join the ranks of Hazard town folk, when they are older, and maybe even inherit my love for this place. They will go on dates at Wal Mart (god forbid) and probably scramble through a road block late one night at “Coastal”. They will become Commodores, maybe even Bulldogs (hope not) who knows? They will learn not to speed by the college, not be caught after dark at the Park, and which police officers will let them off, because they know me or their dad. (You all know it happens.)
All the folk lore and legend of this town will become second tongue to them, and they will enjoy it, and retell it to their children, whenever that time comes. Time always marches on.

 I can’t tell you all the reasons I love it, but there are many. Maybe, more sentimental than anything. There is a memory around every corner, a connection behind every door. I am Hazard from the top of my head, to the tips of my toes. The unique little place captured my imagination 20 some odd years ago, and just never let me go. I will always be “that girl from Hazard”. I am still proud of the queen city, and hope that in the future, it’s inhabitants can restore her back to her former beauty and make her lovely again. I still believe in it.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/583192035081693/

Above is the link to Invision Hazard.  InVision Hazard is an ad hoc citizens’ action group dedicated to revitalizing downtown Hazard to make it a fun, vibrant place to work and play! This group is facilitated by the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, the local community foundation. If you have questions about the project or would like to get involved, please contact the Foundation at 606-439-1357 or email the group’s facilitator, Allison Tse, at allison@appalachianky.org. 

Additional credits for information on this blog go to:

www.wsgs.com

www.hazardkentucky.com

www.cityofhazard.com

Note: I am in no way a part of or affiliated with InVision, however, I think what they are doing is fantastic, and I just wanted to share in case anyone who reads this would like to be a part of it, or contact them with ideas.

10 Tell Tale Signs Your Home is Under Toddler Occupation.

Toddlers, (especially mine) are tiny terrorist. You can’t trust them, and can’t turn your back on them. Kyle and I have been living in our home for a little over a year now, and I STILL can’t decorate the way I want, or put out nice things. Obviously, I have a two year old that loves to break things, and my baby enjoys vomiting enfamil as a past time. My Mom came to visit the other day, and as she was kicking out a path between toys, she laughed and told me she could definitely tell a toddler lived here. I think any mom of a child, that can crawl or walk can apreciate these 10 signs that you have a tiny terrorist called a “toddler” occupying your home.

1: You have toys everywhere. And better yet, you have toy bins everywhere. I have two pack and plays slapped FULL of toys. Greyson has a play nook upstairs in the great room that is his art/toy area. His room is stuffed to the gills. TOYS, TOYS EVERYWHERE.

2: All your breakable stuff is put up, or put up high. All my glassware and antique cookie jars are in my bookshelf on high alert. I am going through the process or removing them, however, because now, Greyson has learned to climb. Awesome.

3: Your bedspread or any bedspread is in a perpetual state of “needs to be washed” or “flithy” because your toddler wipes, eats, marks or colors on it. Yep, ramen noodle stains on mine right now.

4: You own an awful pleather couch, because, it wipes off easy. Yeah, I have one of those too.

5: Wet wipes. I have a pack in almost every room in my house. They clean everything. Seriously. You never know when my kid is going to decide to poop in the corner, or pee in the garbage can.

6: You have at least one whole pantry in the kitchen, dedicated to sippy cups, arrow root cookies, snacks, and “bribe candy”. I am not judging, chocolate will get G to do anything.

7: Your fridge is covered in artwork, pictures, notes about doctors appointments. Basically, anything you child marks on, or anything you need to remember about said child. Yeah, mine is a mess.

8: There is stray food everywhere. My toddler eats and runs, and then will stuff his leftovers in any couch, under any chair or just throw it in the corner somewhere. Before I have company, I have to go around looking for renegade pizza or three day old lunch meat. It drives me insane.

9: Your garbage cans are ALWAYS full. I am not sure how they do it, but Greyson loves to throw things away, or just make a mess in general, so that I have to throw things away. Regardless, I am packing out at least two bags of garbage on the daily. Add in Bubby, and all his diapers and we are teetering on the edge of four. Tough job. I buy a lot of garbage bags.

10: Your house has pretty much became a creepy, weird, shrine to your children. Yeah, I have no pictures or Kyle or myself. Just the kids. EVERYWHERE. I love them, I am proud of them, and when people come over, I want to make sure they can see I have two beautiful, perfect children. ( As if they couldn’t tell already by the state of my household.)

Moral of the story: If you have children, enjoy them. Every mom has a messy house. Every mom has toys laying all over, and sticky walls. They are only little for a short amount of time, and I can’t imagine the day when they are all grown, and my house can be perfect, I can decorate, and their mark will not be there anymore. So, for now, I love the two little turds that run wild and cause my home to look like a demolition zone, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My Anniversary Weekend: Bourbon, Chocolate, Kentucky History and staying on a Budget.

My husband and I celebrated two wonderful years of marriage this weekend. We have survived three years, (two of them married) three moves, two kids, and we still have managed to feel like we just met. This weekend, we headed out to the flat lands to do a little rest and relaxation. (A full night of uninterrupted sleep is seriously like a vacation to us.) We had toyed with the idea of a cruise, (which my brother and sister in law are on right now) going to the beach, or maybe renting a cabin in the Smoky Mountains. However, when the time came around, I just can’t stand to be far away from my babies. I have to be close enough to be able to get to them quickly, if something were to happen and they needed me. Just the way I am, my worst fear is something going wrong, and me not being able to get to them. That is why we decided to keep it low key, go to Lexington, and enjoy what Kentucky has to offer.

 We toured the beautiful grounds of the fabled Buffalo Trace bourbon distillery, in Frankfort, Ky. After that, we headed back to Lexington, where we sipped whiskey sours by the pitcher at Charlie Browns, and listened to a live band play John Prine and The Band at the Chevy Chase Inn. I got to sift through dusty old books, and pilfer through stacks upon stacks of Vinyls at places like Goodwill, and Peddlers Malls. We enjoyed thick cut steaks, with fried shrimp and Kentucky ale on tap at a local favorite like Columbia’s, and got to taste test decadent bourbon balls with almonds, topped with milk chocolate pecan clusters and melt away peanut butter bars at Old Kentucky Chocolates on Southland. Wow. Lexington can be seriously amazing.

Buffalo Trace was my favorite stop. I have been talking about going there forever, and Kyle surprised me by taking me. I love Kentucky history, and this place is about as steeped in history as you can get. Literally, when you drive up to park, you can smell bourbon. The first thing you see is the main warehouse, which was built in the mid 1800s. Every window, you can see barrels upon barrel of bourbon. Amazing.

The tour itself is actually free, with a complimentary taste test at the very end. It lasts about an hour, you get to see the main warehouse, where they bottle and label some of their finest single barrel bourbon, named “Blanton”. You also get to see a video and learn a lot about  the grounds, and some really cool facts about prohibition. There are still bars over the windows of the warehouses, so that people couldn’t steal the barrels. The distillery was one of four in the nation that could legally distribute alcohol for medicinal purposes.

On the right is a picture of me in the bottom floor of the above warehouse. I am claustrophobic, and I won’t lie, this was a little tough for me. Bourbon barrels are in every single place you look, stacked on top of each other. Really cool, but the smell could knock you down!

Below to the left is a picture of Kyle and myself at the worlds smallest warehouse. It houses the 6 millionth barrel of bourbon distilled since the end of prohibition. It was put in in 2008, I am not sure how long they are going to let it age, but once it is bottled, they are going to auction the proceeds off the charity. Note: That one barrel is the only barrel housed there.

              They also have beautiful grounds that you can walk. The presidents mansion overlooks the entire distillery and you can walk the botanical gardens and the trails there. The below picture is me sitting on the front steps of his stone mansion. It was gorgeous.

The complimentary tasting at the end is fun too. You get to try two bourbons, one single barrel and then a new bourbon cream that pairs well with root beer or coffee. Needless to say, I came home with a bottle of it. To get more information on additional tours and history about the distillery, below is the official bourbon trace link.
We stayed at the Griffin Gate in Lexington, and can I tell you how absolutely beautiful it was. Really accommodating staff and beautiful place all together. They have a spa, a golf course, numerous shops and restaurants with a bar. We really enjoyed it. Below is a picture of the Mansion Restaurant, this was right outside our window. It is reminiscent of an antebellum plantation in the deep south. Any Gone With The Wind fan, can surely appreciate it.  I had a friend get married here last summer, and her pictures were beautiful. This picture does it no justice, trust me. 

 

 One of our last, and possibly one of my favorite places in Lexington, would have to be The Old Kentucky Chocolate Factory. I absolutely love it. It is only a hop, skip and a jump away from Wilcutts guitar store, (Kyle’s favorite place) and we discovered it one day, while we were waiting for them to open. They offer tours, (which I have never went on, yet) and the place is ran by the two most adorable little ladies. They are so sweet, and every time I go in, they always stuff chocolates in my hand and beg me to try their newest thing. It is a lot like going to grandma’s house. You don’t have any choice but to eat. 
Above is a picture of Kyle, taste testing a pecan bourbon ball.
 Needless to say, we bought 22 dollars worth of nothing but pure chocolate goodness. Candy bars, pecan clusters, raspberry white chocolate truffles, and one very large milk chocolate Mickey Mouse for Greyson.  They offer a lot of gifts, as well. They have everything Lexington, UK, and horses. They also offer some fundraising opportunities for sports teams, or whatever else you need to raise money for. Their regular candy bars are my favorite, and they are only a buck. Below is the official link, check them out if you are ever in that area, but be prepared to come out, stuffed to the gills with chocolate. 
Our weekend may not seem like much to some people, but to us it felt like we had been away for weeks. We had  great time, just being with each other, discovering new places, and learning things about each other, without the babies. But of course, we missed them, and the second night I locked myself in the bathroom and cried after speaking to my oldest on the phone. All in all, we loved our mini vacation and took great pleasure in enjoying little things, and not getting wrapped up in all the vacay hype. We are proof that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a lot of fun, and that simple things in life really are worth slowing down for, enjoying and appreciating. 
Love you baby. Happy two year anniversary to us.