Top 5 Posts for TBSM in 2014

It’s been quiet the year for me. I started this blog back in late August and it has really turned into something that I never imagined. As 2014 comes to close, I would like to share with you my most read, and most enjoyed posts from this year.

1: The Most Fabled Rivalry in Mountain Basketball.

No explanation needed here as to why people enjoyed this one so much. The MC Napier-Hazard/PCC-Hazard Rivalry is one that our Grandchildren will hear about it and there is no end in sight. Since writing the post, I had the chance to attend an in season match-up of the two teams, and I was not disappointed. So many people emailed me, or commented, or messaged me on social media telling me how they loved this one. I was on the fence about writing it for a long time, and I am so glad that I did. Somehow I even managed to be surprisingly un-biased……well, at least for a county girl.


2: My Love Affair with Hazard

My first post about Hazard. I was stunned to learn what a warm reception I had of this post. It made me so proud to be from here, and live in a place where so many hold this little city so dear to their hearts.


3: 10 Things You Must Do if you ever come to Hazard.

This one was so much fun for me to write. Showcasing local businesses is so important to small towns like Hazard, and I felt that this piece really gave people who may not be from a here a good look at we were have to offer.


4: An Open Letter to Appalachia’s Generation Y- By Kyle S. Hall

I posted this yesterday and wow. The response was overwhelming. Whether you agree, or disagree I guarantee the article still got you thinking, and talking, which is exactly what it was supposed to do. I hope no one was offended by anything written in it, that was certainly not the point and I hope that people did not take it the wrong way.


5: Five times I wish I had listened to my Mom.

I had so many women email me about this post, and thank me. People who had young daughters that were having a tough time getting them raised, or even women my age that got a good laugh out of this. This article was written very lightheartedly but it also had so much truth to it. I think eventually it’s true, we all do end up as our mothers.


So, thank you to everyone who has read my blog, shared something on social media, told a friend, or promoted me in any way. Without you guys, I would be a lot more bored and have no creative outlet. Thank you for making my year special, and I hope that you all have a very Happy New Year!

-TBSM, Courtney G. Hall

Very special thanks to my husband, and my best pal. Without you aggravating me to start this thing, I would have never took the plunge. You make me better in every single thing. I love you.

An Open Letter to Appalachia’s “Generation Y” – By: Kyle S. Hall


      First off, I want to thank Courtney for lending me her soapbox for a few minutes. She has been asking me to a post for quite a while. However, I wanted to stay in the background and watch her feed this blog and watch it start to blossom into what I know it can be. I’ve interjected here and there with a short sports post and a brief comment on my personal experience with the post on my family, but now I am going to use her microphone to voice a concern I feel strongly about. After reading the recent article about this blog in the Hazard Herald, I fully agree with her purpose: to acknowledge that we the people of this area have a voice that needs to be heard. Therefore, she is my inspiration.


 Dear “Generation Y”:

     This will not be a call for a Ghandi-esque sentiment of “be the change you wish to see in your home town.” I would love that to be the case, and to some extent, that idea will apply. However, we can not attempt to rebuild a solid house on a crumbling foundation. Our attitude needs to change. I praise Courtney for shining light on the positive aspects of our community, through her blog, and for encouraging other to do the same. I also believe that we have an obligation to create more positive aspects to highlight. The first step is for our age group to realize the heritage we have and the principles, values and integrity in which our area once took pride. This allows us to understand that work needs to be done in order to restore our prior level of community and to potentially improve our area to new levels. I don’t need to reiterate how great this place used to be and still is, Courtney does a fine job with that. Instead, I aim to comment on our road to improvement.

     This letter will have an obvious flaw, in that it will address only two (seemingly polar) groups. I do not mean to make the over-generalization that our group falls only into these two classes. They are not acute, and readers should understand that the lines are blurry and will also not encompass every unique type of person from this area. These are just rising issues that I wish to address.


     If you were ever to get the chance to sit down and watch a local law enforcement evidence video pertaining to prescription drug trafficking, you would likely be surprised. No back alleys, no boarded up windows on a house where people are dropping money through a hole in a front door in anticipation of a hand to appear with their drug of choice. Instead, the scene looks vastly different. Wooden porch, screen door, work boots by the door. Hell, someone is usually cooking dinner.  A household where everything would be required, impossibly, to run on a measly $700.00 social security check, if not for the supplemental income. That income would be that from the incredulous profits that come from selling the last fifteen days of a monthly supply of pain medication, needed or not. The point is not to justify an illegal act. The point is to show people that the problem is supplied from all directions and all walks of life. The point is to show that cutting of supply is not the total answer.

    The requirement to face prescription drug addiction has already been slated on the governmental agenda. Recent action, including Governor Beshear’s signing of House Bill 217 (“Kentucky Pill Mill Bill”), has already began showing effects in the amount of the supply prescription medication in the area. The hand of the government is often slow and often lacking in providing the best resolution to a local problem in an area that most know little about. In this case, that has been especially true. Addiction requires the want and will to improve. I admit that I was always wary of classifying addiction as a “disease.” I felt that no one chose to have cancer, so how can you say that a result of a known choice is a disease? After dealing with the issue first hand, my view has partially changed. The choice is still a terrible choice, unless the need for the medication leaves no choice. However, somewhere after the initial decision to partake in these substances, people change on such a fundamental level that I now understand the classification of “disease.”

     I believe that our area has the resources to provide a recovery to people struggling with this issue, but none of them will be effective without the will to use them. Perry County Drug Court has been an exceptional example, in my opinion. The problem is that I would love to see the same results occur from desire, instead of “door 2” being a large jail sentence. If a greater sense of want to recover is not acquired, the alternative path is quite grim. If you are an optimist, not only are you in the same class as our state legislature, you are of the opinion that the supply of prescription medication will reduce to a level that is proper for those who actually need the medication. You are also of the opinion that the persons who can no longer pay the premium price for such substances will quietly experience withdrawal in their bedrooms and come out a changed individual. You are also uninformed and wrong.

    In reality, without the drive to recover, our area will experience increased crime levels. Theft, violence and murder are already in our midst, and the outlook won’t make you happy. Worse yet? The addiction will change from prescription medication to other cheaper, and therefore, more deadly substances. Methamphetamine is not just in documentaries and on A&E anymore, chances are, it’s within a ten-mile radius of where you live. Heroine isn’t staying in big cities, it’s on its way. The end of the road is one where the bottom falls out of property values, and we risk losing our heritage and area altogether. Am I crazy? Detroit would agree with me.

   I honestly have no clue whether or not a change can actually be made. I’m not naive enough to believe that this letter will inspire struggling Appalachian people to wake up tomorrow with the will to seek recovery. I don’t have the answer to make that happen. All I can do is hope that someone smarter than me may read this and find a way to help.


     We are no strangers to poverty. It’s in our counties, it’s in our streets and it’s in our living rooms. This is not breaking news. This has been the story of rural Appalachia since settlement. Things are undoubtedly bad, as of late. Poor economy, rising unemployment and a general lack of opportunity are all issues deserving of complaint. Who do we expect to change this? The people we have relied on to fix the problem for the last one-hundred years? I’m telling you that it needs to be us.

     If you are skilled in a classroom, please pursue an education as far and as ambitious as you can. Expense is an obstacle, but our area receives good educational funding, and it is worth the monetary price. An education is an incredibly valuable asset, but all to often those of us who are lucky enough to acquire such a great gift decide to use it elsewhere. I may be asking victims of addiction to tackle a seemingly impossible obstacle, but I am also asking a hefty request of you, as well. I am asking you to stay here in Appalachia. Even if a classroom isn’t your forte, I am still talking to you. We Appalachians have a long lineage of skilled individuals. If you have a skill, use it, and use it here. We also receive great governmental funding for small businesses.

     I am asking you to contribute in any way you can. I am asking you start here, struggle here, persevere here and to succeed here. I am asking you to sacrifice. It is easier to move to opportunity. I thought about it strongly myself, at one point. I decided that this area needed to create its own opportunity. I believe we should all try. I agree that the decline in coal production in our area has left a gaping hole in our job market. Nothing would please me more than to see a revitalization of the industry, but we do not have to wait on it. Appalachian people do not have to pigeon hole ourselves into the trade of packing coal from the mines to the bank accounts of people who don’t live here. We’ve done that for a long time, and we are still the ones losing our income two weeks before Christmas, in the year 2014. Create local and buy local, if you can. Set out to be successful here in these mountains, and keep the future of your home in mind, while you do it.

Kyle S. Hall

Merry (Late) Christmas from TBSM

As the John Prine song goes, “All the snow has turned to water, Christmas day has come and gone.” The Holiday may be over, but I still want to wish all my readers out there a Merry (late) Christmas. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as myself, and my family did. I’ve kept myself busy these last few weeks, and even had to tangle with the stomach flu on Christmas Eve, which left me missing one of my favorite Christmas dinners. I still managed to get everything wrapped and out to their respective recipients, and I can say that this Christmas will go down as my favorite one to date. 2014 was the first Christmas that we spent as a true family, in our own home, and with both of our babies. (Last year, I was 7 months pregnant with River, so he wasn’t here yet.)

I know how important family is. One thing I cherish is the fact that my boys are so loved by so many people. Their Christmas this year has been magical, and that is all because of the folks that adore them. My Mom and Keith, and Kyle’s parents, Lynni and Gordie are truly the most special Grandparents that I could ever hope to have for my children. Their love and attention knows no bounds, and I am certain the role they play in raising my sons is one that is irreplaceable. I’m not certain what we would do without them. Not to forget, they also have Aunts and Uncles who shamelessly spoil them, but not only that. They set prime examples of character, hard work, and love. Yeah, I guess you could say I am lucky. There is no way to go wrong when you have people of this caliber around your kids. I thank God every single day.

With all this being said, I hope that my readers all had a beautiful Christmas. I hope you all got to spend it with those you love most, and I hope it made you smile. I hope you received everything you wished for, but most importantly that you remembered the true meaning of the season. Even though I am a bit late, my best wishes, and lots of love.








“Fantastically Hazard” is really Fantastic!





Fantastically Hazard has a line products that aim to rebrand Hazard as the unique, quirky and awesome place that it is! All proceeds from these sales go to fund Invision Hazard, which is a group that seeks to better downtown Hazard, and the city in general to try to restore her to her former glory, and of course to bring attention to Hazard that she so needs and deserves. The Invision 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, Nicole Justian, at

fantasticallyhazard fantasticallyhazard1

For more information about pricing and merchandise, check them out on facebook!

The Importance of “Building Up” Our Small Town.

 No secret, I am from a small town, and I adore it. Yes, that small town is Hazard, Kentucky. One of the main reasons that I started my blog was to showcase how unique, interesting and beautiful Hazard was in the past, is in the present and can be in the future. I’ve moved away, and ventured right on back. I’ve settled down here, and I am raising my children here. I could write a book on all the wonderful things about this place, the land, the people, the history, but I am only one person. It is so important for all of us who live here to stop being so negative about it, and take action in a positive direction to try and better it, not only for us, but for our children and our grandchildren.

I have posted many pictures of a sprawling downtown Hazard area in the past, a booming La Citadelle, streets lined with cars, and city sidewalks that are littered with PEOPLE. Why is it such a stretch to think that Hazard could be that way again? That our city could be restored back to it’s former glory. We read about towns like Whitesburg and Pikeville who are bringing in new forms of revenue and businesses to supplement their dwindling economy. Why are we any different?

All of these things things start with people and ideas that later form into realities. Where is our young generation? It’s time for us to step up and take the reigns. Why not? Why not us? We are the ones that will be here for the next forty of fifty years? We are the ones that will raise our kids here, send them to get an education here, perhaps they will settle here as well, and our grandchildren will start the same cycle. Why would we not want to take steps forward in a direction that they could potentially benefit from and be proud of?

It all starts with ending the negativity and bringing positive light to this place. Yeah, no doubt, this town has it’s fair share of problems, but instead of sitting around and complaining about it, why not get up and try to come up with a solution. Get involved, talk to people, come up with ideas. It is so easy to take part in the community here, simply because we are a small place. If you have a voice, why not share it? Especially for something good.

We have many wonderful things going on, so I am not saying that we aren’t getting there, but there is still so much more that can be done. Many are doing their part to get the ball rolling on restoring downtown, there have been new businesses to pop up, and more and more organizations to better ourselves have been established. Hazard is making progress, and that is AWESOME.

In short, stop letting people talk badly about the town you were born and raised in. If you live here, especially. Why would you not want to show the parts of Hazard that are unique, or cool? That is what I do, and I have gotten a wonderfully warm reception in doing so. If you are from Hazard but live away from here, why wouldn’t you talk about the things that you remember Hazard fondly for, instead of tearing it down or belittling it, especially to people who may not know anything different than what you tell them. The first step is to just simply, be proud of Hazard, no matter the short comings, the negative press, or just general murkiness. We need more people out there to just say, “Yeah, Hazard is pretty awesome if you just take a deeper look.”

Exciting News for The Bourbon Soaked Mom!

 Most of you know that I do this blog for fun, to share my random thoughts, to further advertise the beauty of our town and region, and to give you tips on how to thrift, and where to go to shop for cool and unique Vintage items. After much encouragement and support, The Bourbon Soaked Mom will now bring you guys Bourbon Soaked Vintage, an Etsy shop where you will be able to purchase unique vintage clothing, jewelry, accessories and other random items that I pick up and think my readers may enjoy.

Again, I have never tried my hand at actually “selling” anything, so this will be a trial run for me, but it is definitly something I take pride in and am good at. If you have any ideas, or any certain items that you would like me to keep an eye out for while I am thrifting, please email me and let me know. I am always open to suggestions!

My shop should go live as soon as I get all the listings up, and make everything pretty! You can pay directly online, and I will ship items to you! I will be posting the link, and giving more information as soon as I get everything ready. Keep checking back with me for more updates! Again, thank you for all your love and support of the blog and all of my endeavors.

-Courtney, The Bourbon Soaked Mom.

Our Perry County “Diner” Dynamic.

It is no secret that I absolutely love a country diner. I am terribly old-fashioned. The feel of a diner just relaxes me, and makes me feel so at ease, not to mention there is usually always a familiar face to sit and talk to. Perry County has no shortage of quaint little spots to go and enjoy lunch, dinner, or in some cases, a 4 am run for corn nuggets. (You all know you have been there.) I have decided to list three of my favorite places to take my boys to, simply because I could never choose just one. Each has their own little aura going on, and each is it’s own brand of “special”. If you are reading this from out of town, I do hope you take the time, passing through, to stop and check out some of these country cookers.

1: Circle T Restaurant:  Circle T has been a local favorite for years and years. Nestled quaintly in the Airport Gardens area, this place is always packed out for lunch and dinner, but also stays open 24-7. I can’t lie, in my teens I was a frequent 4 am visitor for corn nuggets and onion rings. Myself and my friends used to eat there after every Perry Central football game, because the old field used to be right across the road. You could just walk over to it. I’ve walked in with my cheer leading uniform on many times and scarfed down a cheeseburger. They offer daily specials, but my favorite dish comes on Saturday. Chicken-n-Dumplings with fried okra and mashed potatoes. You can’t beat it.Yesterday, I took my boys to lunch where I enjoyed a new dinner. Open faced roast beef, or Roast Beef Manhattan with mashed potatoes. Man was it good.

G enjoying his favorite, pizza bread.
Roast Beef “Manhattan”

2: Frances Diner: The home of the famous Frances Peanut Butter Milkshake, this little place has also been a local favorite for years. Just down the street from Circle-T and across the road from McDonald’s, France’s is so packed sometimes I have the park across the way. I went there last night for supper and ordered a cheeseburger and home made vegetable soup and it was delicious. I had my two babies with me, and several people just had them passing them around to everyone. That is the kind of atmosphere you have here. Everybody knows you, or at least someone in your family, and even if they don’t, you’re still “home.” Not to mention, the “buggy burger” is practically famous.

Home-Made Vegetable soup with a cheeseburger.

3: River View Diner: This local favorite has just recently reopened and I am so glad that it did. My Dad used to take me here when I was little for spaghetti and garlic bread, and I remember sitting outside on the bench and watching the river flow past. I went there today, and it was too rainy and cold to let me kids get out and see it, but I know they would enjoy it so much. They also offer dairy-bar like service where you can park and order instead of dining in (which is also an option). They have delicious piled-high custards, that I love to indulge in. It’s definitely worth checking out again, today I had their chicken and dumplin special with cornbread and beans and it was spectacular.

Hazard is full of awesome surprises. It is so important that we support our local small businesses and these gems are no exception. Chain restaurants are fine, but I would 10-1 rather call in an order and pick it up at places like this, as opposed to sitting in a drive-thru line for thirty minutes only to get lackluster frozen food. For all of you who read this from out of town, stop by and check this delicious spots out and you’ll be sure to leave satisfied!

You’re Tired? Me Too.

Touching on one of the very limited subjects that I know a few things about, motherhood. Today’s end has found me very tired, agitated and just ready for the sun to go down. My youngest son has found the dog food bowl and helped himself to two handfuls of puppy chow, and my oldest did a nose dive (on purpose) off the couch and got a nasty bout of rug burn on his nose. I’m tired. I’ve not even eaten a bite today, if that tells you anything. I know my husband will come home, and the first thing he will say is “man, I’m tired.” Yes, me too.

Moms get a lot of (for lack of a better word) “shit” for voicing how hard it is to actually be a  mom, or for even complaining about it, or expressing a need to just have a break. But I am not only talking about stay at home moms, I am talking largely in part about Moms in general. We are supposed to be this superhuman person with all this willpower, all of this endurance when it comes to raising our children, but in honesty, it’s freaking hard. It crosses my mind at least three times a day that I am possibly ruining them, am causing them extreme psychological damage or am just making them spoiled brats. These little things do not come with a book of instructions when you take them home from the hospital and there sure as hell isn’t a how to guide for moms on how to keep your sanity intact while trying to get them raised. Most people, and myself included, just play it by ear.

In my experience with being a stay at home mother, I always get asked the question, “What do you do all day? Don’t you get bored?” Oh yeah, sure, because both of my kids sit all day, Indian style on the rug and watch cartoons and never want to eat, or have bottles, or play or need to be mentally stimulated. None of that. I do none of that. I just sit and twiddle my thumbs and hope they take care of themselves. Or better yet, I sit and practice my makeup and do my hair and try on my clothes and sometimes I take them out when I want to get a good IG pic, just acting like I am doing something with them. I am so tired of people’s thoughtlessness to mothers. Better yet, it makes me even more irate when someone expresses their distaste for a Mother if she says she needs a break, or she needs some “me time”. Seriously, just shut up if you have no clue what you are talking about, because if you say something like this, you obviously are clueless. This coming from someone who used to be the idiot that would have said something like that to someone with kids.

I wake up daily around 8 (if I’m lucky) and cook breakfast for myself and my kids. I make the coffee, and get my husband off to work. We read our stories, and we play. I cook them lunch, or maybe even take them out for lunch and to the library. Does anyone know how hard it is to wrangle two small children in public? Carrying your purse, the diaper bag, a paid of shoes here or there, snacks, a stroller, or car seat? I mean my goodness. I cook dinner, we play games, I make sure they aren’t killing each other or burning my house down, and on occasion I get to shower or maybe even eat something! So yeah, I am tired.

The absolute worst, though, is when people make snide remarks about my clothes, or how I look, or my lack of makeup. You know what, if I am out I probably do have baby vomit on me somewhere because it’s inevitable. I probably have no makeup on either, because I just do not have time to fool with it. More than likely I am wearing leggings or something equally comfortable, because squatting and bending in blue jeans is not any fun, and when you are out with two children, well, you do that a lot. But you better believe my children are dressed to the nines, in their best, and they look fantastic because quiet frankly, it’s ALL ABOUT THEM. Always will be. My petty stuff has taken a back seat for the moment, even my own vanity, and trust me I AM VAIN.

What I am trying to say is, Mothers shouldn’t have this stigma against them telling them it’s not okay to take a break, or it’s not okay to ask for help. Raising kids is a full time job, and for me IT IS my full time job. If I had a career to go on top of all that, I honestly think I may lose my mind. I stay with mine 24/7 and I love it, and feel so lucky to be able to do so, but I need and I deserve some time to myself now and then. It’s easy to lose yourself in being a Mom, but it’s also important to remember that you are someone other than being a Mom. You were someone before and you are someone apart from that. True, with me, it makes up most of who I am and I so proud of the person I have become as a direct result of my children, but I am also Courtney. I still like to have fun, laugh with my friends, go out. I’m still a good time, I promise, on the off chance that I get the opportunity to let my “mom hair” down.

So, to all my mom-friends out there, keep on keeping on and do not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help,and be proud of the job you are doing for your children. To all those mom-shamers out there who further enforce the idea that all women who are mothers should be in throttle open-hold er wide-gung ho, mom mode all the time, with no complaints or qualms, well shame on you. You either (a) have no children (b)are just a mean person or (c) are some kind of Stepford wife robot. Your opinion should be best kept to yourself.

We all get by with a little help from our friends.

My Christmas (Kentucky) Bucketlist.

I love Christmas, and if you are like me and have children, you look for every way possible to make this time of year special and magical. As December is kicking off, I took to the computer to compile a list of things I want to take my two little boys to, and I thought I would share them with my fellow bloggers. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and that you make it magical, especially for your children! 

 1: The Polar Express Dinner Train: Lexington or Bardstown

Climb aboard the Bluegrass Scenic Railway’s Santa Claus Special for a scenic holiday train excursion past holiday scenes, elves and Bluegrass countryside. The 45-minute excursions leave from Woodford County Park on December 13-14 and 21-22. Departure time is 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, with an added 11 a.m. excursion on December 22. Tickets are $13.50 adults, $12.50 seniors and $11.50 ages 2-12. You can purchase tickets online at (859) 873-2476.
This year you can board the Lexinton Dinner Train behind Rupp Arena enjoy the North Pole Express. On December 7, 14 and 21, Santa and Mrs. Claus will welcome you and your little ones to ride with them. On board you will enjoy a delicious meal, crafts and Christmas carols. Each guest will receive a special gift to remember this special journey. (866) 801-3463. 

2: Christmas at Whitehall in Richmond: A Victorian Christmas.

The holidays are off to a festive start when you visit White Hall State Historic Site’s A Victorian Christmas.  Costumed interpreters will be on hand to answer any questions as you stroll through the holiday bedecked rooms and learn about the Christmas customs celebrated today that were first made popular by the Victorians.  Goodies and hot apple cider round off this wonderful family event.  Tickets are $10.00 per person, children ages 5 and under are free.

3: Christmas Lights at Archer Park: Prestonsburg.

I always love driving through Archer Park’s christmas decorations. It is just close enough to be a single trip and I can’t wait to take G and River this year! It is just beautiful!

4: Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland: Newport Aquarium

Here you can meet Santa, and be on hand for his dive shows. They also offer overnight tours with special animal interactions, and breakfasts with Santa. Your children are also able to take their letters to santa and mail them there!

Meet and Greet Times:

  • 12:00pm and 12:40pm on Weekdays
  • 11:40pm; 12:20pm; 2:20pm and 3:00pm on Weekends

5: My Old Kentucky Home Candlelight Tours

My Old Kentucky Home is decorated for Christmas in the antebellum style beautifully accented by the glow of candles everywhere.  Guests walk thru the Home with guides available for questions, refreshments are served in the Kitchen behind the house. 

Adults $7, Seniors $5, Children 6-12 $3.50, under 6 free.  (Group Rates available)

Evening tours are available November 29 and 30, December 6 and 7, and December 13 and 14. 5:30 pm thru 8:30 pm.  If you can’t make it to our evening tour, we are open 9 am to 5 pm  for guided tours.

6: Southern Lights at The Kentucky Horse park.

At Southern Lights: Spectacular Sights on Holiday Nights at the Kentucky Horse Park, horses of light “race” in front of a cheering crowd, clear a steeplechase fence, and graze in Bluegrass pastures. The unique horse scenes help make Southern Lights one of the most distinctive lights festivals anywhere and a time honored tradition among the locals. And with tens of thousands of shimmering lights, it’s Kentucky’s largest lights festival. You’ll also enjoy animated scenes featuring Santa and his reindeer, elves, snowflakes and other traditional holiday characters as you drive along the four-mile route through the park.

7: Santa’s Safari at Louisville Zoo

Santa is making a special stop at the Louisville Zoo and he’s bringing some of his North Pole friends along too. Enjoy a visit and photo with Santa, plus meet Mrs. Claus, Frosty the Snowman ─ and special guests, a sun loving snow man and two icy cold princesses. Includes yummy refreshments, a fun holiday craft, special animal encounter stations, festive sing-alongs and more.
Be a part of Santa’s workshop where elves help families create a wonderful holiday craft. And of course, no visit would be complete without Mrs. Claus serving her famously delicious holiday treats and beverages (and hot chocolate or coffee too for the grown-ups). A complimentary photo with Santa will be provided to each child.
Then grab your special Santa Safari Passport and begin your journey through the Zoo’s heated buildings to experience one-on-one interaction with Zoo animals and Zoo educators. Bring your cameras!
8: Christmas at The Galt House: Louisville. 

Kyle and I stayed here while attending an Eagles concert a few years ago and we absolutely loved it. The place was beautiful and I can’t imagine how fabulous it is with Christmas decorations. It’s right in the heart of downtown and connects to the YUM center. There are several options to choose from at the Galt House.  Breakfast with Santa, Christmas Tea with the Snow Fairy Princess, The Great Mouse Dinner Mystery, and Pam Tillis dinner shows, Kaleidoscope tickets, overnight packages. It’s honestly too much to even write down. I enlisted the website so you can go and see for yourself, but it all looks really beautiful.

9: Antebellum Christmas: Waveland State Historic Site

At Waveland State Historic Site, you can see what the holiday season was like on a Bluegrass plantation. Antebellum decorations, music, refreshments and costumed historic presenters will be featured at this year’s Christmas Candlelight Tours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. December 5-6 and December 12-13. Refreshments will be served in the plantation’s 200-year-old log cabin. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for students. (859) 272-3611.

10: Christmas on the Estate: Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate.

This year the Henry Clay Estate will open its doors for two Holiday Candlelight Tours on Sunday, December 7 from 5:30 8:00 p.m. and December 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with the last admission at 7:00 p.m. Enjoy live music on self-guided tours of the mansion and refreshments in the Keeper’s Cottage. This year’s theme is “A Currier and Ives Christmas at Ashland.” Mistletoe from the Ashland Estate will be on sale. Reservations are not required. $15 for adults, $7 for young adults 17 and under and a family rate of $40.

11:  Ice Skating at Triangle Park. 

  The Unified Trust Company Ice Rink at Triangle Park opens for the season November 7. Bring your own skates if you’d like, but skate rentals are included in the price. The rink is open from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Kids feeling chilly? Grab some hot chocolate at the café beside the rink. And no worries, there are plenty of places to sit and observe if you don’t want to venture out onto the ice yourself.The rink stays open through January 11.


Woodford Reserve:  Enjoy a Kentucky gourmet lunch at the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery in Woodford County during Holidays at Woodford Reserve, November 23 through December 22, as well as December 28 and 29. Enjoy a traditional Kentucky holiday buffet with a contemporary twist prepared by Chef Ouida Michel. In the past guests have enjoyed selections such as roasted loin of pork, bourbon-glazed chicken, slow-roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon, pumpkin cheesecake and Woodford Reserve cake. Lunch will be served Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Sundays 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Cost is $25.00 plus tax per person. Reservations recommended. The gift shop will be open and full of holiday gift ideas. (859) 879-1921. (Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.)

Refererees, Docs and God: Journal of Country Doctor by Dr. Donald L. Martin

 If you ever have time to read my blog, you will recall that a few months ago I did a write up about one of my favorite places in Perry County, Homeplace. I had such a warm reception of this piece that I was thoroughly humbled and surprised at the amount of love and pride that Homeplace still, to this day, inspires in people, around here. The piece focused primarily on the history of the clinic and doctors who were involved there in it’s heyday. Dr. Donald L. Martin being my primary interest, mainly because I was able to get in touch with his daughters, Carol and Gail. He also delivered my aunts and uncles at the clinic during the 50’s. His daughters were gracious enough to supply me with pictures, and stories of their father, both of which I enjoyed so much. I still have people who email me and thank me for the article.

 I had no idea that Dr. Martin had penned two books. Gail absolutely made my year by mailing me copies of both. They are among my treasures, and that says a lot, because I collect a lot of books. The amount of people who have offered to buy them or made inquiries of where to find them has been overwhelming. I believe it is safe to say that Dr. Martin made quiet an impact in his 20 years as a rural doctor in Eastern Kentucky. As a tribute to him, as well as his wonderful daughters who made this article possible, I just wanted to share the first of two of his fascinating books with you and hope that everyone who reads this can appreciate and admire the kind of intelligent, compassionate and wonderful man he obviously was.

Dr. Martin, a graduate from the University of Louisville Medical school, did his internship at the Philadelphia General Hospital. He was a medical officer aboard the U.S.S. Delta AR9 during the Korean Campaign, and for 20 years he served as staff physician at Homeplace Clinic, a Hospital near Hazard, Kentucky. He later spent years in solo practice in Salem, Indiana.

“It seems to me that referees, docs and God have something in common. Mistakes by any of these three entities simply are not tolerated.”

This wonderful little book is a collection of short stories by Martin, that span his career as a doctor, and chronicles what life was like in rural Eastern Kentucky during the 50s-60s. My favorites are clearly his recantations of life in Ary, Kentucky. As a physician at Homeplace in 50-60’s, life could not have been easy for him. Many people here in the mountains (at that time) had never been inside a clinic or hospital, let alone seen a doctor. Martin included several stories about child birth, which I am sure he delivered many in his years in Eastern Kentucky. “There was no birth control pill and to sterilize anybody took an act of congress in those days. Consequently, families often included ten to fifteen “head of youngun” along with Grandma, and Grandpa and maybe Aunt Mary.” So many folks around here come from large families and this is so true. My Grandmother alone had six children. It was just common back then to have so many. Kyle’s Grandmother had eleven. Honestly, I could never even imagine the level of humility one would need to have, in order to raise that many children.  Dr. Martin recalls these days with a level of understanding and compassion. The selflessness that he must have shown during his time here must have been overwhelming. He was basically on call  24/7 and dealt with unimaginable obstacles. He manages to stay refreshingly positive and humble throughout his books, and I am quiet positive that many folks from this area owe him their lives.

One of my favorite stories in which Doc shared was one of “The Rattlesnake and the Pussycat.” A squirrel hunter from Breathitt County had drunkenly mistaken a rattlesnake for a cat and tried to pet it, resulting in a nasty snakebite. As he was bit first thing in the morning, before the snake’s venom supply had been sufficiently depleted, he was in pretty bad shape by the time he reached Homeplace clinic. After being in shock, the man was given numerous units of plasma and nearly 12 viles of IV anti-venom. In nearly his 20 years in Eastern Kentucky, Martin estimated he had treated over a 100 copperhead bites and only three rattlesnakes, citing that in the area (which still goes on today) that snake handling was a part of church service activity. “It was believed that if you had enough faith, the rattlesnake would not bite you. If you were bitten, and you had enough faith, then you didn’t need medical care. It didn’t always work that way. Some people were bitten, and some did die.”

Martin came to know and admire many local personalities of that era. The glimpses and first hand knowledge he offers us is also a unique look on a lot of local history. These included J.S. Bell, Denzil Barker M.D., George Drushal and Hazard’s own,Willie Dawahare.

J.S. Bell was the pastor at Hindman First Baptist Church, and was the power behind the formation of satellite Sunday schools and mission churches in Knott County. He was also one of the front line fighters in the dry-wet war that was going on during the time. “The dry-wet forces were lined up for battle in the little town and the politicking got hot and heavy. Matter of fact, to be too outspoken for the drys could be flat out dangerous. Brother Bell didn’t flinch. He thrust himself into the fight with the drys and they won hands down. His family worried about his safety, but no one took a shot at him. I think about everybody admired his youthful courage.”

Denzil Barker was the son of coal miner, from Knott County Kentucky. Through Alice Lloyd College, he receieved his education and then went on to Tulane University to receive his MD. Barker was also a leading member of Hindman First Baptist Church, and one of Dr. Martin’s closest and most trusted friends. “He gave his professional life to the people of Knott County by simply being a darn good doctor, being available and living the life of service. We have worked toward a common goal. We have reared our families and we have kept in touch. The relationship illustrated the point that one of life’s greatest joys comes through intimate friendship.”

Willie Dawahare was a former mayor of Hazard, and the owner of Dawahares Men’s Store. “Willie was a friend to about anyone that knew him. He was instant warmth, like getting close to a stove on a winter day. He liked to see people happy and was an instant success in making happiness.” Dr. Martin was the first to tell Mr. Dawahare about the new procedure of doing open heart surgery and coronary bypass, using leg veins for the bypassed vessels, performed in Cleveland. After six months of contemplating, Dawahare underwent the procedure and came out a new man, with a new lease on life. Progress was certainly something that Dr. Martin soldiered, and he was extremely good at it, thankfully.

While Dr. Martin also reflects on many of his cases throughout the years, some of which my brain has trouble understanding, because I am obviously not a doctor, he also offers us up some wisdom concerning many of life’s major subjects; marriage, illness, religion, beliefs, compassion and death. He states that “Discipline is like castor oil, it’s awfully hard to take but can be very good for you if you need it.” He notes that “courage comes easier for some people than others. What makes up the fertile soil in which courage grows? Positive thinking, encouragement from intimate friends, religious faith and conviction, a willingness to accept a possible failure and still go on. Perseverance and a refusal to quit.” I think we can all learn something from this extraordinary man who served so many in his lifetime, and from all accounts, loved doing so.

 Of all of the stories that Donald Martin shared in this book, I think the story of “Polly” is the most appropriate, to show example of what kind of man and doctor he was. Dr. Martin had delivered Polly’s first child, and she ended up coming back to him with several hemorrhages. After four setbacks, two trips to Lexington and a hysterectomy later, she once again was experiencing life threatening bleeding. Dr. Martin rode with her in the ambulance to Good Samaritan Hospital in Lexington Kentucky, for (what was then) four hours over extremely treacherous mountain roads. He wanted to ensure that they didn’t lose her in the ambulance and felt that it was his duty to see to her. On the way he fell ill to motion sickness and was desperately miserable. Polly sang him hymns, despite her deteriorating condition and continued to squeeze his hand until they made it to their destination. She survived the ordeal, and was able to raise her son and keep the family going due, in part, to Dr. Martin’s efforts. When he was leaving Homeplace in 1969, she came to see him to say goodbye. “Doc Martin, I didn’t have time to go to town to get you nothing, so here take this.” She put something in my hand. I hugged her and she was gone. I have never seen her since. After she left, I opened my hand and there was a crushed up dollar bill. That dollar is still precious to me. I wouldn’t sell it for $5,000. It is in my office and framed to remind me of the event. It reminds me of the successful effort to save a life. It reminds me of the appreciation expressed by a simple mountain woman in the only way she knew how. It reminds me of the joy that is produced by loving and helping a fellow traveler on this earth. That is the bottom line of what it’s all about.”

Surely we could use more Doc Martins in this world.