Historic Stearns, Kentucky & The Big South Fork Scenic Railway |The Bourbon Soaked Mom

Historic Stearns, in Southern Kentucky is a place frozen in time. If you’re a history buff like myself and enjoy taking a step back while spending the day imagining you’re from another time, Stearns is the place to go. My Mom and I took my two boys (ages 3 & 5) on a day trip to Stearns to ride on the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, because they had never been on a train before, and isn’t every little kid obsessed with choo-choos? Needless to say, they were absolutely thrilled.


I will just be the first to tell you, I was a little hesitant about the train ride. I was afraid it would be miserably hot, that my boys would cry the entire time, and that I would be stuck for three hours with strangers on a train in close proximity who would want to literally toss me off the caboose because my kids wouldn’t hush. The ride had the exact opposite effect. River slept almost the entire time, and Greyson was so enthralled he never made a peep except to point out the scenery, or comment on how much fun he was having.

I really enjoyed the fact that you were actually going into the original depot and company stores when you arrived at the railway. The staff members were so friendly and accommodating and everything went very smooth when we arrived. I pre-ordered my tickets online, and they were waiting for us at the depot window, which was convenient so we could head on to the Whistle Stop and picked up our pail lunches.

The tickets I ordered were 11 extra dollars because they included a coal miner’s lunch, which was a turkey club, chips, a pop or water, a HUGE piece of chocolate cake, and apple sauce. The lunches were packed into cute little red commemorative lunch boxes for us to take on the train so we could eat lunch at Blue Heron mine when we arrived. The train wasn’t cramped at all, it was a cool, beautiful day with the windows down and friendly, fun loving people ready for some history and scenery.



The train ride itself was 14 miles of old track that passed along tunnels cut so close you could reach out and grab rocks, blanketed by beautiful, lush farm land, and decades old mining towns and coal camps that could be toured if you wanted to. The train descends 600 ft into the South Fork Gorge, and offers up gorgeous river views! We passed bath houses, commissaries, and general stores on the way. It was wonderful explaining the rich culture and history of our region to my kids, because I think that sometimes we get caught up in this busy, crazy world that it’s easy for us to forget our heritage and where we come from. Today, my kids were amazed with all they saw and were willing to soak that knowledge and history up like a sponge.



When we arrived at the Blue Heron mine, the boys were absolutely thrilled to learn they would be able to walk across the coal tipple on a wooden bridge. The bridge was connected to the tipple and was accessible through a very short hike up one of the trails. Once you get to the top, you can cross the bridge and look down on the South Fork River. It was a beautiful view, and if you have kids, it’s definitely one to impress them. Blue Heron also had beautiful shaded places to eat your lunch, ghost structures where churches, homes and stores used to be during the boom town days, with trails and outfitters if you want to go hiking,  tubing, kayaking, etc. I wish we would have had more time, I would have loved to of went tubing!



All in all, I believe the trip lasted around 3 hours and I paid 130 dollars for four of us to go, complete with a museum visit and lunch. From Hazard, it took us right at 2 hours to get there, so it’s honestly the perfect day trip. It’s also right around the bend (about 25 minutes) from Cumberland Falls, so you can run down there and take a peak or go hiking after you are finished with plenty of time to spare! We took the boys down for a quick visit and some ice cream!

I wanted to share this adventure because I think that teaching our young East Kentuckians about our heritage is important. Even though the trip was so much fun, and we had a great time, I wanted to make sure my boys understood that I also wanted to teach them about our history and about the industry that has helped shaped our region for over 100 years. I would certainly recommend taking a day trip to Stearns and enjoying a little town frozen in time to remind us all of days gone by.


The Mother Goose Boutique | The Bourbon Soaked Mom

If you think of Hazard, there may a few things come to mind. To those who call the town home, there is one distinctive house that everyone knows and loves: The Mother Goose.


Yes, the Mother Goose home is exactly what it sounds like, a home with a roof in the shape of a goose. Complete with it’s own set of blinking goose-eyes. I can’t make this stuff up, but it’s one of the many things that make our town unique. Hazardites have become so accustomed to the home being there, we rarely think anything about it, but others come from far and wide to get a glimpse of the Mother Goose home! The home has been featured on many national television shows, including the Oprah Winfrey show.



“When you get a gander at this house in Hazard Kentucky, you might think you’ve gone quackers, but it really is a Mother Goose house complete with egg shaped windows.  It’s been a fixture here for over 60 years.” – Oprah Winfrey


The Mother Goose has a long standing history with Hazard. Built in the 1930’s by George Stacy, the home was a labor of love and took nearly 6 years to complete. Most of the sandstone was hauled to the site by the Stacy family, which they got from the area’s various creeks and rivers. The Stacy family lived in the house until George passed away years ago. Why a goose? When George was little it was Christmas tradition to have a goose for dinner after it was picked clean, it’s bones made a fascinating shape. George told his parents that one day he’d live inside a Goose. Now we all have this beautiful home to admire. The house has been a gas station, a grocery store, and a convenient store in it’s time. There was also a period of time in the early 2000’s when it was a sort of bed and breakfast where you were able to stay in it overnight. Now the Goose has been given new life in the form of a quirky little boutique that is just as cute and eccentric as the home itself.


Shannon McIntosh has given us all a fresh breath of air in opening the Mother Goose Boutique, not just in opening a new business (which we desperately need) but allowing us ALL access inside the heart of Mother Goose. As a life long resident of Hazard, in all my years I’d never been inside until I wandered in Shannon’s store. Going inside the Goose (for me) was always something I had wanted to do. How could you not wonder about what the inside is like? Who wouldn’t want to make the trip just to say they got to go inside the famous Goose? The Mother Goose Boutique is located inside the goose nest. “The nest” was always the store front even when George and Marie had it with a live bear and monkey out front! This part was built in 1937. He built the home “the mother goose” in 1940. It’s a two bedroom very spacious one of a kind shape.


The Goose has been in Shannon’s family for nearly two decades, and she adds that they hope it always will be. When I visited her several weeks ago, I was enjoyed how quaint, and welcoming the atmosphere was and truly enjoyed my time in there just browsing and talking.

Shannon’s business is also helping local artisans and vendors and promoting Kentucky proud products, an idea that I have strongly advocated and supported since beginning my blog almost three years ago. I love when small business owners rally around their communities and give back to the people who support them, and that is exactly what Shannon is doing. The Goose serves as a mecca for those would want to sell their home made goods. The Goose has a wide variety of products from a children’s line that is designed and manufactured right here in Kentucky, to locally made goat’s milk soap and lotion, (which I swear by to help my eczema) wood working gifts, and signs, jewelry, holiday decor, and women’s clothing. The Goose will also deliver hand-picked gifts around town, including a wide range of bereavement gifts, or gifts “just because”.


There is truly something for everyone in the Goose boutique. The young, the old, and even the history buffs like myself who go in just to be nosy and who leave with arm-fulls of locally crafted goods, and a lot of East Kentucky pride.

If you’re in the Hazard be sure to check out the Mother Goose Boutique!

“Ky proud is our goal for the gift shop part of the boutique. We have some of the most talented folks here hidden in the mountains and their talents need displayed. We are so excited to bring life back into our precious gem tucked in these hills.” -Shannon McIntosh


 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mother-Goose-Boutique-1312575805437122/


I Hope My Kids Appreciate Growing Up Appalachian |The Bourbon Soaked Mom

We all have things we want for our children. I want mine to realize their own potential and use that for whatever reason they deem “right”. However, a close second is my want for them to understand that the most important things in life are not derived from material or wealth. I am not a cultured person who as been around the world, so there may be a million ways for a person to come to this realization, but I know how that truth came to me, and it was from growing up in these mountains.

When I remember growing up, a lot of imagery rushes to my mind. A slight breeze brushing through the mountain pine. The smell of freshly mowed grass in the summertime. The wafting aroma of fried-something seeping out of a window in my Grandmother’s house, pulling children to the kitchen way before the parents had need to stand on the porch to yell for us. Sweet cherries and wild strawberries eaten ripe and dirty, straight from the tree and vine. Taking a salt shaker to a garden tomato patch, wiping off a dusty heirloom and taking a ripe, juicy bite right off the plant. Rough, dirty feet from running barefoot on gravels and wading through cool, clear creek-water. The smell of bug spray (preferably Skin-So-Soft, if you had an Avon lady in your family), and citronella candles on a back porch at dusk. The sound of a Caywood Ledford or Tom Leach blaring from a television set on a Saturday night, coupled with the randy, hostile, and sometimes poetic cuss-word- laced shouting of adult cousins, Aunts, Uncles and even parents that accompanied any call deemed “not in the favor of the CATS”. Even though those may be some major memories that have been burned permanently in the back of my brain, it’s more than just that. My mountain raising has continually cast an enveloping state of consciousness on the way I hope to raise my kids. The way I AM raising my kids. It’s heritage. It’s a way of living. It’s a lifestyle.

I look back at a childhood unmarred by the presence of social media. A childhood where if you wanted to speak directly to someone you had to call them on a landline and go through the unspeakable horror of hearing their parents pick up first, and then put them through. We actually had to speak to our friends in person by going to their home. A childhood where there was no such thing as “cyber bullying” and the only real worry we had was that the street light would come alive on too early an evening and we’d all have to go on home without finishing our game of “Annie over the mountain”.

A childhood where you crowded around the kitchen table with Mamaw or Pap and listened intently while you were taught how to roll out a dumpling, or can a quart of berries. A childhood where you learned to peel an apple with a Case knife when you were 12, the peel curling in an unbroken chain. You were proud to be able to shoot a pop ( or occasional beer) can dead-eye with your Red Ryder BB gun.

I hope my kids appreciate growing up Appalachian. I hope they look at these green hills with a sense of reverence and pride, just the same as my parents and Grandparents taught me to do so many years ago. I hope they fly down gravel roads with scraped knees and dirty bare-feet and revel in the raw and rowdy beauty of a summertime spent picking black berries and killing copperheads with garden hoes. I hope they relish that same sense of freedom. I hope they are poked with briars, and pick fresh mint from the garden to put in their peach sweet tea. I hope they help their Grandparents mix the perfect sugar water concoction to pour in red hummingbird feeders, and watch in awe as they flutter their wings, sip after sip. I hope they stay up late on a porch swing and hear the howl of coyotes, screeching hoot-owls and shrill-toned whippoorwills.

I hope they learn how to grow an heirloom tomato, and recognize ginseng root. I hope they love going dry land fishing, and learn to soak them in a salt water bath before cookin’ em up right. I hope they walk into the woods and feel a sense of kindred appreciation and awe for these mountains, but at the same time, fear and respect. I hope they love these hills for what they are, beautiful and mysterious, fabled and completely mystifying.

I hope they grow up to brag about being sons of Appalachia. I hope they roll in dark kudzu, and catch a lot of craw-dads. I hope they climb under sounding rocks and find arrow heads, fossils, and brag about how they (not so accurately) have “Cherokee” blood running through their veins. I hope they love this land they were raised on, and never forget it.

I want my children to have this same care-free childhood.  I want them to revel in the kind of freedom I experienced as a barefooted, stringy headed, hill-baby in the mountains of East Kentucky. Just a simple kid who enjoyed the finest, but simplest pleasures that life had to offer me. The cool creek bed, the itchy grass, and the pleasure of roaming an Appalachian mountainside unrestricted with limitless possibilities. I want them to remember their heritage, and pass it down. It feels like a simpler time, but I look around and many of my Appalachian brothers and sisters are finding the joy and beauty in teaching their children to appreciate, value and respect their heritage. To not only cherish it for themselves, but to be proud of it, and to advocate for their towns and region. To me, an Appalachian upbringing in not complete without a sense of pride, and an urge to defend the region we call our home.

When they are grown and possibly move away, I want them to feel excited at the first glimpse of those mountain ridges when they are coming home. I want them to feel relieved when they see those soft, rounded hills and lush green valleys. I hope they never lose their ability to see the beauty in how life is lived here. I hope they tell stories to their friends of life “back home”, and how there’s not another place in the entire world like Appalachia. Because there isn’t. I hope they remain stubbornly proud to be privileged enough to have been raised in an area where you’re taught to work hard, respect and love people, and enjoy the life you’ve been given.

Words were not made to truly convey these feelings. I believe that being apart of it is the only way to experience Appalachia. My only hope is to provide the roots for my children and trust they will one day understand how important they were to their fruit. Even for me, it has been an idea that has been so ingrained that it took quite a few years for its true importance to finally dawn. My feet have been so connected to these hills for so long that their own heartbeat has harmonized with my own; slowly, unknowingly, but detrimentally, to the point that I often have the fleeting feeling that should my heart not beat with these hills, that it may not beat at all.

“God knew that it would take brave and sturdy people to survive in these beautiful but rugged hills. So He sent us His very strongest men and women.”-Verna Mae Slone 

Annie’s Frugal Finery, Whitesburg KY |The Bourbon Soaked Mom

I have discovered the holy grail of consignment shops, nestled right here in Eastern Kentucky. Yes! I said, EASTERN KENTUCKY! Our region houses one of the finest upscale consignment stores that (in my opinion) rivals any I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to many. Annie’s has been in business since 2009, with the big pink building being their 3rd location. A member of NARTS (national association of retail thrift stores), they have over 2500 cosigners, including myself! Not only is their business thriving, but their beliefs and vision includes giving back to their community while promoting the growth of their small town and surrounding rural counties.


Located across from the Pine Mountain Grill in the pink brick building, Annie’s is both unique and quirky. The store has a boutique feel, and houses brands including, but not limited to Lilly Pulitzer, Mud Pie, designers like Hermes, Coach, Kate Spade, and Louis Vuitton. Depending on how long things last, usually items sale out without minutes! (Honestly, if you haven’t followed them on Instagram and gotten their notifications, I suggest it!)  Annie’s has not only women and men’s clothing, but purses, wallets, jewelry, shoes and household items such as glassware, furniture and wall decor. Not to mention, Annie’s is also fully stocked in baby and kid’s clothing, toys and accessories! I recently purchased a large bulk of Greyson’s school clothes, name brand items like Gymboree, Ralph Lauren, Children’s Place and Under Armor. I also like to buy some of my husband’s golf clothing there because it is so expensive if you purchase it from somewhere like Dick’s or Taylor Made. Each item accepted at Annie’s is hand inspected and looks basically brand new for a fraction of what it would cost me to buy it out right. The last items I purchased for myself were a couple of shirts from J. Crew and Loft and one still had tags on it!


Annie’s is locally and family owned, with the real life Annie (the name sake, and daughter of owner Debbie Campbell) working full times as the store’s sale manager. Debbie Reyn Campbell, the owner was both gracious enough to allow me to come and photograph her store, but she and Annie were also there to take my consignment and meet me formally. I’ve been going places and doing blogs on local EKY business for almost two years and this was best reception I believe i’ve ever had. After some warm conversation, it became evident that she and I both share the same love for our area, and truly believe in the shop local, buy local movement, Campbell added:

“We put money back into our community everyday. Half of every purchase goes back into the hands of a consignor. We make a difference in peoples lives by helping them to create supplemental income and by offering a place to purchase nice quality items at an affordable price. I love the fact that we not only provide jobs for our area (we’ve had as many as 4 employees even though we only have two right now). I don’t count myself. I love that we re-purpose and recycle items that otherwise might be wasted. And I love that we are a vital part of our area.”



If you’re interested in becoming a consignor at Annie’s there are several guidelines to follow. Annie’s accepts consignments on Wednesday and Friday. You receive half of whatever the item sells for when it sells. They keep it on the floor for 60-90 days. Annie’s only accepts in-season items and are currently accepting summer. Any items that do not sell are donated at the end of the selling period unless they are priced $50 or more in our store. In which case, we call you and you have 5 days to pick them up. We accept brand name only. We do not take formals, maternity, or scrubs.



I suggest making a trip to Annie’s and making a day of it. Go check it out and enjoy Letcher country. There are several places to eat, and Annie’s is close to down town. It’s easy to spend a few hours in there just browsing and chatting. I enjoy it every single time I stop in. I believe it’s such a great idea to help people feel beautiful, and dress nice at a fraction of the cost, while also helping put money back into the pockets and businesses of the people of Eastern Kentucky. I would 10-1 rather give my business and money to a place where I know they are going to turn around and funnel their profits back into their small town instead of sending it out of state. Campbell insists her favorite part of running Annie’s is helping others and meeting new people.

“The main thing I love about our store is that we get to meet lots of people that we wouldn’t otherwise have known. And so many of those people have made our lives nicer and better. We love our store and we love the people of Eastern Kentucky. Its just a blessing to get to do what we do.”


Add Annie’s Frugal Finery on Facebook and follow them on Instagram.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anniesfrugalfinery/?fref=ts

Instagram: @anniesfrugalfinery

From now until the end of August, if you go in to Annie’s and either mention this TBSM article, or show them on your phone you can receive 20 percent off your purchase! Happy Shopping!


The Bluegrass Box Brand Ambassador|The Bourbon Soaked Mom

We have some exciting news from TBSM! The Bourbon Soaked Mom is now the first official brand ambassador for The Bluegrass Box! What is even more exciting is that I’ve learned the September box will be FULL of “Appalachian” goodies.


The Bluegrass box is a quarterly shipment filled with ALL “Kentucky” based products that coincide with a theme for that month. I am so excited to be promoting their products, because nothing makes me proud like being a Kentuckian. The Bluegrass Box really gives local businesses a chance to showcase their best and brightest products and ship them around the state, and the country! Another great deal for all of my TBSM readers is that now you can use the code BSM25 and get 25 percent off for all new subscribers!

How it works: The Bluegrass Box can be purchased two ways. You can opt to do a yearly subscription, or a quarterly subscription. The quarterly subscription renews every three months and is 35.00 dollars plus 5 dollars for shipping. The yearly subscription is 135.00 plus shipping and covers the entire year. You may also choose to cancel this anytime you’d like, but I wouldn’t see why you’d want to! All you have to do is sign up, and Bluegrass Box takes care of the rest!


The Bluegrass Box is a family owned business who truly loves and takes pride in their products and in the state they call home. Their mission is to showcase Kentucky proud artisans and allow their talents to shine.


“Our mission is to shine a spotlight on the artisan makers across the Commonwealth who are making amazing products, and introduce you to some of them along the way. Some may be new products, or some may come from a recipe that has been handed down through generations.  Kentucky is about tradition!

Daniel Boone once said, “Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place.” And our family feels the same way.  There is no place we would rather raise our sons. We are both life-long Kentuckians and have no plans to change that! We love that there are so many hard-working people that are making things with their hands across the bluegrass everyday.  Every three months you have the opportunity to receive a box of products that are uniquely Kentucky in The Bluegrass Box!  Our family loves the products that we include in each Bluegrass Box, and we feel confident that yours will too!”

After receiving the “June” box, it was clear to me that the theme was summer centered. Think cookouts, sweat tea, kids playing on the lawn and eating a nice, juicy steak. Southern traditions, but of course with a Kentucky twist. In the June Bluegrass Box I received:


  • Integritea Bluegrass Breeze- This amazing tea is flavored with passion fruit and mango which gives it it’s unique flavor.
  • Bourbon Barrel Foods NEW Barbecue Sauce-The tagline for this says it all, “Eat Your Bourbon”. You don’t have to tell me twice.
  • Shell-Bee’s Gourmet Steak Seasoning-This awesome steak seasoning can make ANYTHING taste good! I recently used it on cube steak in the crock-pot and it will absolutely knock your socks off!
  • Funky Junk Gifts Kentucky Coasters-Funky Junk gifts takes things that would normally be thrown away and turns them into works of art! These unique “Kentucky” coasters were formally a fence post. My husband ended up sneaking and stealing these from my house and are now proudly displayed in his law office waiting room! You can’t never have too much “Kentucky” stuff in your area!


If you’re a proud Kentuckian and want to discover amazing products that are from our great state, and support the shop local movement, be sure to subscribe to The Bluegrass Box! I look forward to my quarterly shipments because I absolutely love each and every single product they send me. Plus, getting to support small, local businesses who will be keeping their money in our area is something I always try to do, and obviously something I stress to my readers. It is SO important to buy local. Our communities THRIVE on this concept. Keeping our money in state and helping our locally owned shops will enable our small towns to grow!

You can also grab one of these super-soft Kentucky farm plate tees for 24 bucks! I absolutely love mine, and I’ve gotten so many compliments when I’ve worn it out!


To subscribe to The Bluegrass Box, please visit their official website at:

www.thebluegrassbox.com & don’t forget to use the discount code for TBSM for 25 percent off!


Miguel’s Cafe & Pizza. Slade, Kentucky. |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

Tucked quaintly in the confines of one of Kentucky’s most beautiful geological landscapes, The Red River Gorge, Miguel’s Cafe has been a staple in Slade for over thirty years. With it’s bright yellow store front, rustic decor and friendly staff, Miguel’s is both welcoming and intriguing. If you can jostle your way past the scores of people who are bound to be outside camping, or getting ready to go hiking, you will find that Miguel’s has become somewhat of a mecca for the outdoorsy, adventurers who seem to usually find their way to the hot-spot to grab a slice of pizza and a cold Ale8.


Miguel’s started from humble beginnings when Michael Ventura, an artist originally from Portugal, tired of life in California and decided to move his wife and his children to a farm in Slade. The family saw opportunity in the form of renting an old store front called The Old Jottem Down Store. They named their new business venture The Rainbow Door, and served mostly ice cream. In 1986, the family decided they would try their hand at making pizza and Miguel’s was born. The rest is history. The Ventura family, over time, befriended and began to know all the hikers and rock climbers who frequented the area, and thus a campground was formed. The campground is called “The Camp Four of the East” and is pretty much always full!

red river

Miguel’s is known for their awesome pizza, with their own bread and dough that is baked in house from scratch. You can also order your meals to be gluten free. Other than pizza they have bean bowls, potato bowls and salads. You can also enjoy their awesome breakfast (french toast is my favorite) complete with coffee, soda, or a variety of different juices.


There is a variety of some pretty awesome merchandise at Miguel’s. They have their own branded tees or tanks for both adults and kids. Miguel’s also offers climbing, hiking and camping equipment.

I stop by Miguel’s almost every time we go to the Red River Gorge. It’s a beautiful little place with great food, and an even better atmosphere. Miguel’s has transformed itself into somewhat of an icon in the area over the last ten years, and people from all over the world come to eat here. It isn’t uncommon to sit around outside on the picnic table and meet climbers and hikers from all over. This makes Miguel’s unique and special. The gritty, rustic feel goes perfectly with the scenery and you can’t deny the good vibes you get every time you open those ornately carved doors.

Miguel’s is a truly unique, Kentucky proud restaurant and one that I am glad is only an hour away from my home. I can go anytime I want!

For more information about Miguel’s, visit their website!



The Cardinal Rules of Thrifting.|The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

I love to go junking/thrifting. I used to go with my grandma and aunts when I was little and I consider myself a seasoned veteran in “flea market speak”. When the weather warms up, I always hit the highway to look for the best flea markets/junk stores and thrift shops around Kentucky. I have managed to furnish nearly my entire home with thrift or junk store finds. This includes furniture, paintings/art/pictures, bedding (yes, bedding), and even odds and ends for the outside.

You can honestly find just about anything you need for a fraction of the price, if you know what you’re doing, what to look for, and how to go about junking. People ask me a lot how I find the things that I find. I have one simple rule I always tells folks, the cardinal rule (for me) of thrifting or junking is this:

Take your time and bring the right tools, an open mind, and a large vehicle. 

Seriously, that’s all you need. But in case that little tweak doesn’t entirely work, here’s some more tips and tricks that I use to always find what I want and get the most from my thrifting experience.

1: Do your research. 

Before I go anywhere, I try to learn a bit about the business before-hand. Knowing the type of merchandise the place has, and who the owner is is actually a big deal. I have managed to establish good relationships with a number of thrift/junk store owners and if they come across a piece they think I’ll like, usually they will save it for me or put it on hold. It’s always nice to have an inside connection. It is also a plus if you are able to scour their social media sites (if they have them) to see new merchandise. Many times, I’ve asked people to put things on hold for me.

2: Take a large vehicle. 

You definitely want to take a large vehicle, just to be safe. What if you find a piece of large furniture that is such a great deal, you just can’t pass up. BUT, you drove a two-seater car. Be safe and take a larger truck or SUV just to be sure. I have been out and bought boxes of dishes, pots for flowers, antique chairs and an antique recliner for 30 bucks at an opportunity store…..better safe than sorry.

3: Don’t be afraid to get dirty, and always bring hand sanitizer. 

You will probably be getting your hands dirty or dusty if you go to a junk store. Some of the ones I’ve been to have had dirt floors even, and those are the best. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and dust off hand panted planters or vintage jewelry. You may find a piece of McCoy, Hull or Rosewood….or maybe even an antique piece of Weiss costume jewelry.

If you buy any type of upholstery, I also recommend bringing (at the very least) some Lysol spray because no one wants bed bugs or any other type of crud. Always thoroughly clean any type of fabric before you put it inside your home.

4: Know what you’re looking for before you head out. 

Make the best use of your time by knowing what you want before you go. If you want furniture, you can rule out any store that doesn’t have furniture. If you want jewelry or clothing, you can better gauge what shops you want to check out. It will just save you more time and energy if you are looking for something specific.

5: Learn the art of the “haggle”. 

Learn how to haggle. Most people who own thrift stores or junk stores will work with you. Make an offer on something, all they can say is no! It doesn’t hurt to try. More times than none they just will be happy someone wants to buy it!

6: Don’t waste your time on antique shops unless you’re willing to pay antique shop prices. 

I always steer clear of antique shops that are truly antique shops. They are wonderful to go in and browse, but I know I can usually never afford anything they have. Antique stores know what they have is valuable stuff, and much of it is very expensive. At least at a junk store you can buy it cheap and fix it up yourself, which is what most people do.

7: Don’t be afraid to buy something that is damaged. 

If you find a piece of furniture that is a great price but has a minor flaw in it, don’t be afraid to purchase it. Many of those little glitches can be fixed. I have purchased dressers with chips that were fixed with a new stain. I have bought chairs with bottoms missing and had them re-finished for nothing. I have bought jewelry that I love that I’ve had to replace a clasp. If you love it, there’s a way to fix it.

8: Have fun! 

I always say there is no wasted day when you’re thrifting. Many times, my husband and I will just hit the open road and enjoy the weather and each other. It doesn’t matter to us if we find a gold mine or nothing at all. There is something interesting and refreshing in going through old records, and delving elbow deep in crates of old dishes with someone. Enjoy it. Have fun sifting through old ratty clothes, and just go with it! Part of the intrigue is never knowing what you’ll find, and where your adventure will take you!

Below I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite “thrift/junk stores!

*Oven Fork Merchantile in Oven Fork Ky.

*PJ’s Attic, Hazard Ky.

*Asbury’s in Hazard Ky.

*NU2U (contains upscale things as well as antiques. Wide variety!) Hazard Ky.

*Hazard & Jackson Mountain Mission, Hazard & Jackson Ky.

*FoxHouse Vintage in Lexington Ky.

The Scavenger Hunt in London Ky.



The Blessing and Curse of Being a Member of Big Blue Nation|The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

There comes a time in every young Kentuckian’s life where the abstract sounds originating from a radio start to turn into something recognizable. When that happens, it’s usually the voice of Tom Leach that first comes into focus. Outsiders should know that a love affair such as this is not by chance. Instead, it is a systematic indoctrination of superiority. An assembly line of cookie cutter members of the Big Blue Nation. Delusions of grandeur shaped not by the outside influence of television or other media but molded by the members of our household; the individuals who teach us right from wrong. So decade after decade, a new generation is bred to stand guard and hold a collegiate sports program to an impossible standard. Constant banners. This is Kentucky Basketball. The University of Kentucky is the most successful NCAA division I basketball program in history, with both the most all-time wins and the highest all time winning percentage. UK has a total of 54 NCAA tournament appearances, 120 tournament wins, 41 Sweet 16 appearances, and 36 Elite 8 appearances. The Wildcats have played in 17 NCAA Final Fours, and hang 8 (should have been 9, in my opinion) NCAA title banners in Rupp Arena. In 1946 and 1976 Kentucky won the NIT, making it the only school to notably win both the NCAA and NIT titles. Kentucky also leads all schools with 59 20-win seasons, 14 30-win seasons, and 6 35-win seasons.

UK basketball’s absurd success has spawned arguably the most hostile, spoiled, loyal and outrageous fan base in the history of any sport. The Big Blue Nation is a conglomerate of tried and true, die hard fans who encompass what being a sports fan is about…both good and bad. Loving UK basketball, and being a member of BBN is both a blessing and curse, let me explain.

For those of us born and raised in Kentucky, UK basketball has been ingratiated into our psyche from the moment we were able to make one singular thought. Since we were able to recognize color on a television (for some of you, read the word “Kentucky” on a uniform) we Kentuckians were taught to cheer louder, boast more arrogantly and become completely educated on the season’s team and coaches. Not only is this widely expected from Kentucky youth at a very young age, but it is essential. One must know the current starting line up as a young pup, and one must also pick out their favorite player and stick with him come hell or high water. We cringe with every injury. We hold our breath for every three. We check KSR like our lives depend on it. We scour every scouting report, analyze every up and coming recruit. We huddle together in living rooms, bars, and basements around the states to watch our Cats. We buy house rounds when they do well and we buy house rounds when they are doing bad. We throw remotes and kick in dry wall when they lose, not mention the intense period of scowling that will last all week until the next game comes along. We are raised to recognize the evils that are Arizona, Tennessee and South Carolina. But none are as loathsome or detestable as the blue devils, and even my four year old could spout you off a few choice cuss words and some face reddening insults about Coach K and his famous ball club.

Why? Because it’s all a part of this unknown, unpublished set of guidelines you inherited automatically when the good Lord blessed you by allowing you to be born in Kentucky, thus be born a part of the greatest tradition in college basketball.

This is how we grow up; believing we are the best. We are raised believing that we are superior to every other ball club, and during many seasons and many times we probably are. (Another arrogant rambling of a completely biased UK fan, of course.) That is also the problem. A big problem, and one that often leads to heartbreak when the season doesn’t exactly turn out the way we planned, or hoped, or expected. As I said earlier, you will never find a fan base more spoiled than BBN.

I cried myself to sleep last March when KAT and his band of brothers fell to Wisconsin in one of the most notorious losses in UK history. A time when I was definitely glad that Kentucky had historically perfected the art of distilling Bourbon, but even the stoutest Bourbon couldn’t quell the gut wrenching agony of BBN’s shattered expectations of UK’s perfect season, made complete only by hanging banner number 9. Here you have the curse. A feeling that is rooted down in your being so deeply that often times during losses or disappointments you’ll find yourself blaspheming the very person who indoctrinated you as a child (or maybe an adult) to the world of UK basketball. The struggle is very real, never more so for a UK fan than when the March shakes are fast approaching and as Hunter Thompson would say, the “big dance” is on the line.

The immense pressure that we as a fan base put on our players and coaches is completely unrealistic at times, but we can’t seem to stop, or realize that most of these kids are 18 year old boys. Boys who have never, or can never realize the sense of celebrity they will experience just by simply being a starter or a member of the University of Kentucky basketball program. Until they are in Lexington right in the middle of it. Like Coach Calipari said:

“You people are crazy.”

And it’s completely true. We are.





In Appalachia: Caring for Your Cast Iron Skillet |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

All across the South, and especially in Appalachia, there is one piece of cookery that every woman must own. The Cast Iron Skillet.

It’s almost as if cast iron is our birth right and if we don’t own at least a skillet, we’ve been deprived of our mountain inheritance.

I do a lot of cooking in a cast iron skillet. Not just any cast iron skillet though. This deep dished dutch oven cast iron beauty that I have is a hand me down that was my great-grandma Lottie’s. I cherish it, so I take careful pains to make sure it stays in great shape.

I have a lot of people who come and watch me cook and ask me how I keep my cast iron looking fresh. Here are some of the ways that I researched, tried and have found to be true in making sure your cast iron stays beautiful and in tip top shape.


1: Be sure to season it before you cook in it. Wash it with warm soapy water, first thing. This is the LAST time you will ever wash it with soap.

2: Douse it in lard, bacon fat, etc. You can use crackling, or just fry bacon. Anything to get that fat on there so it can fill up the porous spots on the skillet. This is seasoning your skillet. Most say the only real tried and true way to season a cast iron skillet is definitely with lard. Some skillets say use vegetable oil, but that can be a mess. Use lard, pig fat is always the way to go.

3: After each use be sure to scrub the inside with bacon grease and wipe out the excess. The salt in the grease helps to preserve the skillet and makes it into a “nonstick” surface. NEVER, and I mean NEVER EVER EVER put it in the dishwasher. I made that mistake as a newly wed and nearly ruined a perfect skillet set that was a present. Use only cold water and a soft bristled brush, then dry it and wipe it down with grease.

Most cast iron skillets are durable enough to last several lifetimes. Seriously, the one I have from my Great-Grandmother is probably close to a hundred years old and I’m not sure why, but it just makes food taste better, fries chicken crispier, and gravy comes out thicker.

No true Appalachian woman, or Southerner neglects her cookery, and we sure as hell do not neglect our cast iron. Be sure to take good care of your skillets, and you will be passing them down to your great grand children one day.

In Appalachia: The Two Lane Highway Wave |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

Have you ever noticed something major about traveling down an old two lane in Eastern Kentucky? Almost everyone you meet, whether you know them or not, will wave at you. Not just a regular wave, though. There is a certain code we follow when addressing a car-to-car greeting. You have to master and perfect your own technique, and there may even be a specific way of “waving” in your area.

In my neck of the woods, it’s usually a two finger wave, or possibly a tip of the index finger elevated slightly off the steering wheel. Some even use a head nod accompanied by the four-finger lift with the palm resting lightly on the top of the steering wheel. Some flap all five fingers carelessly as others pass, and the real gems of the area (usually older ladies) will sweetly do the excited wave where the entire hand is extended from the steering wheel and is waving furiously in your direction. Those are usually the happiest and most enthusiastic, it doesn’t matter if they know you or not. Either way, if you’re from the Appalachians, the South and especially rural Eastern Kentucky, I know you recognize this.

Don’t ask us why this is a thing, because no one seems to know. EVERYONE around here is brought up knowing this is a special code of etiquette that should never be broken. Not only is it deemed completely normal to wave at strangers, but this is expected. I am always mildly horrified if I’m driving down the road and miss a wave that someone has doled out. It’s always better to be the person who waved, than the person who didn’t wave back.

It’s a part of who we are here, and the ever present principal that you’re supposed to love your neighbor and be cordial to everyone…..even those you probably don’t know. Our area has a long history of relying on our communities, and raising one another up in hard times and trials. Most folks are always apt to lend helping hands, and open hearts to those in need. It truly shows in the way we carry ourselves, especially in little things that are simple a gesture as a wave in a passing car, you just come to realize that those little things, are actually pretty big things.