Friday, October 27, 2023

Urban Bourbon Trail

We recently went to Louisville, Kentucky, for the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon. But, of course, we had to sample the other delights the town had to offer. The first one, of course, was the Urban Bourbon Trail. 

The Urban Bourbon Trail is a list of Louisville bars and restaurants. First you download their app, then after you visit at least 6 of them, make a purchase and "check in", then you receive a prize: an "Urban Bourbon Trailblazer" shirt. I had looked at the list and made a plan. 

First we stopped at Book & Bourbon -- a bar IN THE AIRPORT. As they say, "First Stop. Last Stop. Both."

We had an old fashioned -- because it's the official cocktail of Louisville. Now, it was just a drink in an airport bar, but it was pretty tasty. 

We grabbed a taxi into town, got settled into our hotel, then went to our next stop; Troll Pub Under the Bridge. 

Seriously, look how cute this troll is: 

Let's be honest here -- I don't really remember what I had. I fear it may have just been a Jim Beam and Diet Coke because I wanted to make sure and have bourbon...

Then we went around the corner to Merle's Whiskey Kitchen for dinner. We had some very good vegetarian tacos and, of course, cocktails: 

This time I had a ginger-lemonade-bourbon drink: 

If you're counting (and who isn't?) we had 3 of our 6 stops done on the first day. 

On day 2 we went to Churchill Downs. They have an excellent museum there and we went on a brief track visit. They've also done a good job at creating photo ops... because we live in an Instagram world...

They also have a cafe and bar that's on the Urban Bourbon Trail -- so we stopped in for a mint julep. (What else could we possibly have had?!?!)

We went from there to pick up our race packets, and then decided to get "stamp" number 5 at the Down One: a bar that's "down one" flight of stairs, of course. I had the seasonal Chai Old Fashioned, which was delicious. 

With a lot of the afternoon to spare and little to do we stopped in at the Louisville Slugger Factory, and then... because we were walking past it... stopped in at the Bristol Bar & Grille Downtown because they had a sign outside advertising "Old Fashioned Friday" with the signature cocktail for just $5. How could we resist? 

When we "checked in" we immediately got a text saying we had completed the trail and that we could go to the visitor center to redeem our prize. They gave us a pair of good-looking shirts and a pair of very nice hats ("these were left over from last month's promotion"). Even better, of course, was they took a picture of us with the Colonel. Hooray for Louisville!

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Christmas Holly Stitch-a-Long, part 6

Hi everyone! We got in late late last night from vacation so I'm a little late putting together this post. But as I often say, it's still Sunday in my time zone. 

We were away for eleven out of the last 21 days, and I didn't bring my holly cross stitch with me -- I just brought small things I could do on the plane, in dimly-lit hotel rooms, and such. But I did a little work before I left. Well, very little work...  

Here's where I was last time: 

And here's where I am now: 

Just some filling in of the top center leaf, but that's it. Lots more to do ... for Christmas 2024. :) 

Right before we went out of town I had the chance to hear Kaffe Fassett speak. I love his books, his designs, so it was fun to hear him... even if I fear he's the sort of person now that everyone says "yes" to all the time, so no one offers him feedback, edits, etc. But he talked for about an hour and then they had a very organized meet + autograph system. I showed him and his husband Brandon Mably the Frog needlepoint -- as soon as I pulled it out of my bag, Brandon said, "Oooh, you've stitched the frog!" As Kaffe signed my book, Brandon asked about the background stitch, which made Kaffe look over and say, "Nice... gives it more texture". And then I was hustled along. 

Now it's time for me to hustle over and check out all the amazing projects my fellow stitchers are working on. Check them out for yourself! Avis, Claire, Gun, Christina, KathyMargaret, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Sharon, Daisy, Cathie, LindaHelenCindy, and Mary Margaret.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Urban Bourbon Half Marathon race report

Note: I'm finally writing this post in mid March, but I'm publishing this race report on the day of the actual race to keep the blog organized.

Kentucky was a "lost state" in my 50 States project -- it didn't match with anything else for a trip. Luckily, there was a race on my "wishlist": the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in Louisville. 

Several years ago we ran the Oak Barrel Half in Lynchburg, Tennessee -- home of Jack Daniels. The race ran through the backroads of Tennessee, including one really big, "named" hill. The medal was made from an oak bourbon barrel (all these years later it STILL smells delicious!), and the shirt, hat and swag was also top notch. 

When I first heard of the Urban Bourbon half, the medals looked like a Jim Beam bottle -- which seemed like the perfect match. Of course, things change, so in 2023 the medals looked like an Evan Williams bottle -- which is fair, because there's a large Evan Williams presence in the town. 

The other nice thing about this race is that it's run in October -- just in time for some pre-Halloween fun. So we planned out a trip to Louisville for the race, followed by a short visit to the Great Smoky Mountains and... DOLLYWOOD. 

But, first, we had a race to run. 

We flew out on Thursday and picked up our packets on Friday. The pickup was at Louisville Slugger Field, home of the minor league Louisville Bats. (Cuuuuute.) Fast pickup, a nice mini expo, and bourbon tasting. 

After the race we finished our Urban Bourbon Trail and went to the visitor center to pick up our reward -- a handsome shirt and hat. And of course we snapped a pic with the Colonel, too. 

Race morning was cool and clear -- perfect running weather. We joined the large crowd at the start -- it was a little odd to be in a big crowd like that. I'm sure this was the biggest race we had run since before COVID began.

We started out by running along the main drag, then turned past the stadium and eventually did a long loop around the Cherokee neighborhood before coming back into town.

note Wil's Urban Bourbon Trail "reward" t-shirt!

It was nice to explore the neighborhoods outside of downtown -- we ran past a great area full of bars and restaurants, past the cemetery where Muhammad Ali and Harlan Sanders were buried, and through a gorgeous, windy, hilly park. 

When we had finished the loop and were running back through Butchertown, we passed a house where a bunch of guys were sitting on a "yard couch" (as our friend Kurt would say, "it's a couch we use in the backyard"). They'd been there on our way out, drinking, and they were still there, drinking, and whooping for the runners who passed. 

The wind was picking up as we headed back to downtown, and we were happy to turn away from the river and go up the last hills to the finish. Okay, we weren't happy about the hills, per se, but we were happy to be out of the wind. As per usual, we held hands and ran across the finish line. 

One of the perks of this race is a post-race Bourbon Bash in the Fourth Street Live! entertainment area. Pizza slices, burgoo (a meaty stew), and bourbon tastes were promised, along with live music. We waded in and discovered that everything had huge, slow-moving lines. After a few minutes we looked at each other and just left. Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of people having a very good time. But we were happy to just find our own post-race fun. 

One of the other perks of this race, you see, is something they call the "Urban Bourbon Walk" -- visit one or all of the four locations on race day, show your medal, and make a purchase, and get a custom pin. You know how much I love a custom pin, sooo...

We started at O'Sheas because, well, because they were already open. After a quick drink there we went to Bearno's and had a drink and a small pizza between us. Then to Troll Pub (where we'd been on our first day) and Merle's (where we'd been the previous night) and of course GOT ALL THE PINS. 

The Urban Bourbon Half Marathon is run in mid-October every year. It's a nice, mid-sized race with a well-organized packet pickup, good swag, good organization, some pleasant scenery along the route, and a good post-race party. The town really embraces the race, too, which is nice to see. 

Urban Bourbon Half Marathon


Friday, October 13, 2023

13x13, October edition!

Can you believe it?!? It's been a busy year and I made 13 Halloween ornaments. First and foremost, here's my October 2023 project, RIP by Satsuma Street: 

I do love her designs, especially her use of color. And I also really enjoy stitching on perforated paper. 

Last weekend I pulled all the ornaments and glass pumpkins out of the basement and set them up. I love seeing them all together!

Here's a recap of the individual ornaments:

October 2022: Nevermore by Satsuma Street

November 2022: Ravens Mosaic Ornaments Kit by Northern Whimsy

December 2022: Moonlight Ghost by Mill Hill

January 2023: Autumn Pumpkin by Mill Hill

February 2023: Persian Pumpkin by Mill Hill

March 2023: Glowing Pumpkin by Mill Hill

April 2023: Enchanted Moon by Mill Hill

May 2023: Vintage Halloween by Bucilla 

June 2023: 'Til Death by Satsuma Street

July 2023: Dark Shadows by Sue Hillis Designs

August 2023: Eyeball Martini by Mill Hill

September 2023: Spooky Cage by Mill Hill

Here there are, all together on the tree: 

I should say "all", because I think one of my ornaments managed to find its way into the Christmas decorations, so it may not appear on this year's Halloween tree. 

Because I've enjoyed this project so much -- having something small and finite to stitch outside of my larger projects -- I've decided to continue until at least next October. I'm still planning on posting updates on the 13th of every month, but now I'm just going to call the project "Every Day is Halloween".

For the "November" project I'm going to stitch up something I saved from an old Cross Stitch Halloween magazine. I'll be back on November 13 to share the finished ornament!

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Lily Pad Frog Stitch-a-Long, part 4

Hi everyone! I'm hoping you will join me for a HAPPY DANCE, as I finished Mr. Frog!!!

Here's where I was last time: 

I was nearly done then, and really just had a tiny bit of small stitching and then filling in the lily pad before turning to the background. 

I wanted to choose a stitch that would give some texture without overwhelming the frog. I have some wonderful needlepoint books from the 1970s, one of which had a stitch sampler pattern that featured, among a couple of dozen stitches, a diagonal version of the cashmere stitch. I tried it out and was pleased that it gave a nice, ripply texture... and stitched up really quickly. How quickly?

Even though the stitch is "thicker", it still feels like the frog floats on top of it. 

I really, really love this! 

I'm so happy with this piece, and thrilled that I've done the stitching in time to take it along to the Kaffe Fassett lecture next week. (Just typing that fills me with anxiety, for some reason...)

Now that I've stitched the lovely Mr. Frog, it's time to return to my holly cross stitch. Here's where I'm up to: 

I'm just past the halfway point, but of course that means there's a long, long way to go. I can't imagine wrapping this up in time for Christmas 2023, but, hey, Christmas happens every year. 

I love seeing all the amazing projects my fellow stitchers are working on -- check them out if you need some inspiration! Avis, Claire, Gun, Christina, KathyMargaret, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Sharon, Daisy, Cathie, LindaHelenCindy, and Mary Margaret.