Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Scoop. The Skinny. The Deets. The 4-11. The .... oh, forget it. I was way too excited to be all cool and suave about it.

You know, you'd think I'd learn my lesson. I have a history, you know, of complaining that things are boring and that I have nothing to blog about .. when, BLAM! The sky opens up and something terrible falls in my lap. A few years back I blogged about how smoothly Kendrie's leukemia treatment was going, and pretty much the next day she got a virus and wound up spending a week in the hospital, going bald for the third time. Then another time I blogged about how nothing exciting was happening in our lives ......... and Blaine's cancer came back. And I'm pretty sure right before one of my kids got suspended from school I had just said how dull our life was and how I had nothing to write about.

So you'd think I'd learn my lesson, right?

Sure enough, a week ago I blogged that I had nothing to share. Kids are fine, school is routine, Blaine seems to be recovering, I am boring ........... and whadda ya know, just like always, something happened. But this time .... it wasn't terrible. It wasn't terrible at all. It was kind of cool. Actually, it was one of the coolest things to ever happen to me .........

I got invited to Pioneer Woman's ranch.

(collective gasp of jealousy around the internet ---- I KNOW!)

I don't even remember who turned me on to her blog initially, but I've been following along for several years. Or, to be one of those obnoxious people, "I've been reading PW since before it was cool". We've exchanged e-mails a few times throughout the years, me totally exploiting my Oklahoma connection. But mainly, I've admired her from afar, like the zillion other people who read her each day. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I pretty much wet myself when I got invited to take part in this weekend's ranch gathering and cooking demo with Smitten Kitchen.

(OK, this is the part where I shamefully confess that I didn't know who Smitten Kitchen was, and how I don't follow any many food blogs. But now that I've met her, and been introduced to her site ----------- oh my goodness, I will be a faithful follower from this point forward and my family, who will ultimately benefit from her efforts in the kitchen, and my blatant copying of those efforts, will be eternally grateful.)

After reading the e-mail from PW inviting me and a friend, I knew immediately who to call. Well, once I stopped giggling like a schoolgirl and hyperventilating, that is. My new friend Alisa, who is one of the biggest Pioneer Woman fans I know. Alisa and I have been passing acquaintances since we moved here because her oldest daughter and Brayden have been in choir together both years. We started becoming friends a few months ago when we discovered a mutual love for scrapbooking, then started cropping together, then found out we each had a blog, THEN found out through casual conversation that we each followed Pioneer Woman. Alisa takes it a step farther and has her own weekly cooking feature on her blog, and I hoped she would jump at the chance to meet PW in person ......... and I was right.

It was perfect, because Alisa was every bit as excited and schoolgirl-ish and squeal-y as me. What followed for the next few days were a flurry of e-mail activity between us as we talked about how thrilled we were, and what are you going to wear and how should I fix my hair and do I have time for a manicure and OMG I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED R U SERIOUSLY WHAT R U GOING TO WEAR?!?!?!?!?!

Really, it was pathetic. You would think we were meeting the Pope.

The drive to the ranch on Saturday morning was non-stop talking, punctuated with giggling and confessions of butterflies in both our stomachs. I don't know why we were so nervous ..... Pioneer Woman's a normal person, after all .... and if she was half as cool in person as she comes across on her blog, how could we NOT have a great time, right?

We were a few minutes late because naturally, I missed the turnoff. (How embarrassing.) But we arrived, goggle-eyed and pointing at the scenery, were greeted warmly, and started introducing ourselves to the other readers who were selected to attend. At first I found myself sort of gazing from afar, watching Ree like she was a celebrity among us (which, hello, she pretty much is.) But she was so warm and gracious and funny and down to earth and friendly that it didn't take long for the nerves to be replaced with a genuine feeling of comfortableness. Personally, I think that's the mark of a true hostess --- someone who has the knack to make the guests feel no longer like "guests" -- and that's exactly what she did.

Lunch was ready shortly after we arrived. A wonderful beef dish, with sides of pasta and asparagus. I'm embarrassed to admit I don't put that much work into Sunday dinner for my own family, and there I was eating it for Saturday lunch.



Then, what followed was pretty much the greatest berries and cream dessert I've ever had in my life.



Alisa's nerves had calmed down at that point, also, and she was relaxed and having fun as we got to know our fellow guests better, and were entertained by our hostess.



At this point I could have pretty much gone home and been satisfied with the day. But, things were just getting started.

Smitten Kitchen had arrived with her husband from NYC to do a cooking demo of three amazing recipes for us lucky folk. She was cute and funny and worked like a dog, standing for hours making the most delicious bread and crumb cake and pretzels, despite being eighteen weeks pregnant.




And not only did PW help her in the kitchen, and take pictures for her own blog, and continue to offer herself up as a gracious hostess to the rest of us, she managed to find time to blog and tweet the entire experience. Truly, the woman's picture should be in the dictionary under "multi-tasking".



Smitten Kitchen (aka Deb) brought her husband Alex, who took tons of photos for her food blog, as well. Although I consider myself a slightly-better-than-amatuer-photographer, between him and PW, I felt like such a beginner. Like I was only one step up from bringing a disposable, one-time-use camera from Walgreens. So if you want to look at my photos, that's great. But if you want to see really WONDERFUL photos of the day, wander on over to Pioneer Woman or Smitten Kitchen's sites and watch how the pros do it.





This is PW's best friend Hyacinth, helping with one of the recipes.



When she arrived, everyone who knew her shouted, "Hyacinth is here!" and she sat next to me for lunch. I turned to her and said, "I'm such a dork. I thought 'Hyacinth' was a fake name, for privacy purposes, and had no idea that was your real name!" and she said, "It's not."

So clearly I'm even a bigger dork than I thought.

It's actually a funny story how she got the nickname, but this blog post is going to be too long as it is, so I'll just leave it. But trust me when I tell you she is every bit as warm and funny and friendly as Ree, and I'm seriously considering forcing Blaine to retire from the Air Force and move to the country and raise chickens or goats or something so I can be best friends with both of them. Although, really, they might not be too crazy about that idea, so lets keep it a secret for now.

Alisa and I both actually learned quite a bit from the baking demo. We learned that 17 ingredients is actually not that much when the final product is So worth it, and how to fold a loaf of bread under to make a nice smooth mound ......



We learned how to make pretzel dough .....



We learned how to roll that dough into pretzel shapes .....



We learned you can't go wrong with too much salt .....



I learned that even the best cooks make a mess in the kitchen .....



And most of all, I learned that my love affair with carbs is true and real and worthy and runs deep, deep in my soul.








It was genuinely, truly, an amazing time. Almost surreal, in a "holy cow are we actually HERE and not on a movie set?" sort of way. And while I would like nothing better than to sit here and type paragraph after paragraph, waxing poetic about how beautiful the lodge is (seriously --- SO beautiful!) and how pleasant the other people were and how much I enjoyed myself and most of all, how freaking NICE Ree is, here's the one thing I came away with yesterday ---- she's not a grand-stander. She's not inviting people to her lodge to showboat her beautiful home or her interesting life. She was genuinely ...... kind. And interested in the rest of us. And I think the fawning makes her a little embarrassed and self-conscious.

(although I still totally did it, I just tried to be cool about it.)



(Oh, egads. Looking at this photo, I also learned that I need to either lose some weight or stop standing so sway-backed. No wonder people ask me if I'm pregnant all the time ....)

Maybe I'll get to go back some day ... who knows? I know she's got plenty of other readers who would love the chance to go as well .... but I can guarantee you if I ever get another opportunity, I'll jump on it.

Too soon, the day came to an end and it was time to leave. I hope she knows how sincere my thanks were, and how much I enjoyed myself.

On the way out, we saw some horses.



Then some cows moo'd at us.



Then I took yet another wrong turn coming off the interstate and wound up driving an hour out of our way, and that's how I knew that Alisa was the right person to have asked to go with me because she didn't even complain.

The end.

PS. Kim, you could NEVER be demoted! Only two more months until we're sitting in the Caribbean, drinking our umbrella drinks and having well oiled muscle men waving us with palm fronds!! Oh, wait. We're taking our kids and husbands, aren't we??? Shoot. That's ok, I'll smuggle this crumb cake onboard and it will make up for it!

62 comments:

Mamasita said...

Hmmm, my comment did not show up.

Anyway, so totally amazing that you got to go to "the ranch!"

I stand (sit) in awe

Natalie said...

Dang. I want to get an invite to go out there and do some wrangling. I've got my chaps all ready to go. Think she'll call?

Cozyflier said...

Wow, what a neat experience. If Stephanie finds out she will be jealous!!!

Karen - Mommy to four sweeties said...

Wow how fun!
You lucky dog.

Jeri from Hawaii said...

Kristie,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience at the ranch with PW. I've been dying to hear what it was like and your post was wonderful...plenty of details and wonderful pictures. I'm glad you had a great time...and I am totally jealous!

moolady said...

I'm jealous too!! Sounds like a great time was had by all!

Jess said...

I have to say - When PW posted that she was having this get together I wished that I could live in OK.

Although I'm sure it would've been worth it, Houston is a bit of a trek.

Then I saw her first post about the weekend and I was almost proud. I've been reading your site since the CB days and found her site (as well as many others) from you. Although the blogosphere is not Hollywood - it's damn near it in my book!

I believe the term is 6 degrees of separation, no?

Jacqueline said...

SO. JEALOUS. that is all...PS...how completely beautiful are you? :)

Anonymous said...

So cool that two of my favorite blogs meshed into one blog for a brief moment! Sounds like you had fun!

Kristin in NC

Jen said...

Oh wow- and smitten kitchen too? What a fantastic weekend :-)

Amber said...

That sounds so awesome! I followed your links to PW and SK and I can feel my thighs and butt expanding after reading some of those recipes!!!

Alisa said...

I can't stop smiling- when I think about it the grin gets a little bigger.
Loved reading your memories of the day. I giggled the whole way through. Loved your photos too.
I will just link to yours and call it good.
J/K I will write my own, but I have to find the words. And the photos. Oh man, if only I had started researching and bought and figured out how to use a camera a few weeks ago.

Tracy said...

I'm totally jealous. I have to keep telling myself I don't REALLY want to move to Oklahoma just to try to win a chance to visit PW and "the ranch", but it's tempting! Glad you had a good time!

René S said...

I'm so glad you got to go, and your hair looks amazing!

Jeanette in GA said...

Alisa almost resembles Renee G.! How funny!

I am so glad to hear PW was gracious and kind and welcoming. Now I love her even more!

Anonymous said...

I looked at PW's site yesterday and I thought, "Wow, that looks like Kristie." I knew it! I have been reading your blog since it was over at Caringbridge.I am so glad you had fun!

jean said...

I am so jealous, yet excited for you at the same time! What an awesome experience! Maybe you should complain about things being boring more often... :-)

Liz said...

LOVE reading this!!! And love hearing that Ree is just... normal!

Anonymous said...

LUUUUCKY!! (like napoleon would say) :)

Patti B.

vgsmom said...

I'm so excited for you guys. Alisa's husband Jay was telling me how excited you guys Saturday am, like school girls. We were talking about who would our "PW" be. All I could think of for me was if Sandi Patti asked me over to sing around the piano with her. Another Time, Another Place.....

Anonymous said...

JEALOUS, JEALOUS, JEALOUS! That is so cool that you got to go to "The Ranch"! Did you get to meet MM? That would make the day complete!

Diane in Cincinnati

Lollyblogger said...

I saw PW post your picture on Twitter! I felt like some geeky Beatles fan. Can't wait to hear what you start cooking up in your kitchen now- Smitten is addicting!

bearie1 said...

Wow, congrats! I am officially green with envy. Funny thing, I saw a picture on PW's site yesterday and said to myself "that looks like Kristie". And sure enough, it was. Elaine

theothermother said...

What a really, totally cool opportunity!

Anonymous said...

hmmm...I've never heard of Pioneer Woman or "the ranch" but I must confess, I am intrigued! I am so going to go to her site now and check it out! Thanks Kristi!

Anne in GA

DeLynn said...

How fun that you got to go! I am so happy for you. Thanks for telling us all about it!

Tammy said...

Love all the pictures, especially the one of you PW and Alisa, your hair is so pretty, and Pw is'nt she just gorgeous! Glad you had a great time, you are one lucky duck! Glad to hear Ree is down to earth, just like she sounds on her blog. Well, did you see MM? Can't wait to see what you'll be cooking up in that kitchen over there, lol! So much for your boring life eh?

kimybeee said...

That's okay, I will just placate myself by remembering that you guys have to worry about tornadoes and I don't. So, there, pooh on you!

I have to say that if I lived or visited anywhere in OK or Lousiana, I would visit my blogging friends even if you didn't want me too!!! I am glad you had such a good time and were able to go.

kimybeee

Anonymous said...

KRISTIE -- YOU ROCK!
I whined about not being able to see the pictures and you stepped up! When I read the blog about the 'little red x's' it was as if I had brush with greatness! I would have really been pissy if I couldn't see you and PW (also a favorite). I'll be here everyday - cuz I'm committed like that.

Hennifer said...

I had absolutely NO idea you were going to the ranch! I squealed with delight, and admittedly envy, when I recognized your picture on the PW site.

So very, very cool!

Thank you for sharing

Karen said...

Hi! I was one of the lucky ones who got to go to the Bakerella demo. I agree with everything you said about Ree. And the Lodge. And the whole experience. I still can't believe that was me! Surreal is about the only word that describes it.

I'm so glad you had such a good time.

Welcome back! :-)

Starwoodgal said...

Looks like y'all had a great time. I was one of the ladies invited to the first PW Demo last month (with Bakerella and the Cake Pop Demo). We had such a good time and PW, her friends and family were just fantastic hosts/hostesses. Very special group of folks. Your can read my account of that day @ http://starwoodgal.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/a-day-with-pioneer-woman-and-bakerella/

Thanks for your recap. You all looked lovely and I wish I could have tried one of those bagels or pretzels. YUMMY!

Jenn said...

Guess I'll apologize to Alisa on your blog - I know her by our husband's working together, both of which got to meet Ree when she came to OPUBCO. So I totally thought she got to go because of JAY! Congrats actually goes to you! And I guess I better stop telling my husband that Jay is a better man than he! :) Love your blog and your words - having been reading you know for a few months. Thanks always for your honesty. It inspired me!

Jenn said...

Wow, my other comment had a sentence with way too many grammatical errors! Sorry, I must correct it - it was suppose to say "...have been reading your blog for a few months now."

maesa said...

Kristie -

It was such a pleasure to meet you and Alyssa! I'm looking forward to following your blog now too - I know that you were writing down everyone's blog and email addresses... we left in such a haze that we didn't get everyone's email - do you have Deb's (not Smitten Kitchen)? I promised I'd send her a pic that I took and I neglected to get her email - duh! Great post!

Ruth Ann said...

Love your blog here! It's like a domino effect; one good blog leads to another!
I am so tickled you were invited to PW's. I have always wondered, probably like a thousand others, I wonder HOW she decides WHO she is going to invite? Did any of you ask Ree? COOL, COOL, COOL! First thing, I do feel sure it's folks that DO have a blog. I am going to continue reading yours! I hope I get a response! Have a wonderful day; i am sure you're still coming down off Cloud 9!!

Ruth Ann in East Texas

Anonymous said...

Hey Kristie, you've hit the big time. PW LINKED you in her site for your picture of the delicious looking lunch. Congratulations :-)

RSMDianne

rsmdianne@yahoo.com

Dawn@Embracing the Ordinary Life said...

Great pictures...and what a fun time. I sooo wanted to go, I think I've been stalking both PW and Smitten for the same amount of time!

ann butler said...

OMG - I am so jealous...I have been considering moving to OK just so I can take part in one of PW's get togethers...but, you so deserve it...sounds like it was a blast...a yummy blast at that!

Michele Morris said...

I live in Colorado and I'd be willing to fly there just to get a chance to meet PW in person. I am constantly amazed at how much she gets done each day! Glad you had fun!

Anonymous said...

Lucky duck! I'm glad you had a great time!

Stephanie said...

I am SO jealous!! Oh my goodness -- SO jealous that you got to go to PW's lodge and see it in person and meet her and talk to her and it's just not fair! Lucky duck! I'm so happy for you -- it looks like it was absolutely fabulous!

Lisa said...

Sounds amazing! How fun and delicious!

Julie said...

How jealous can I sound without making myself into a total dork? That sounds so awesome.

Memoria said...

I love the photo of your friend, Alisa, laughing. Beautiful and real.

Kirby3131 said...

I came over from PWs site :) Ooooh, I can tell you, I would have giggled, giggled, and giggled some more if I'd been asked to come. I love your story. You are so fortunate :) It looks like you had a wonderful time.

Marina said...

I dream of the day I'm at PW's lodge at a cooking extravaganza! Congratulations on being a part of the gathering! That asian salad looks divine as does the rhubarb cake!!

Bush Babe said...

Well hello you lucky girl... seeing as how I can pretty much NEVER get the chance to visit The Pioneer Woman in reality (unless someone wants to fly me halfway round the world) I am not so much jealous of your visit to her, and adoring being able to visit through your eyes (and lense and keyboard!!!).

Loved your pics of the day - and nice to hear PW and Deb are as sweet and hard-working as they seem to be on their blogs.

Thanks for sharing, and feel free to take a virtual trip Down Under to granite Glen anytime...
:-)
BB

gorillabuns said...

how wonderful for you! you do know though, i would have totally been your driver so i could have peeked in the windows!

Laura said...

Wow so cool!!! Thanks for sharing your experience....we can live vicariously through you. Really interesting!

Maris said...

Your pictures are SO wonderful and your blog is fantastic. It looks like a wonderful blog event and such a great time!

Melzie said...

this is an awesome post :) I'd have just like totally died ;) ROFL glad you had fun!!!!!! xoxo melzie

Donna said...

AM. SO. JEALOUS!!!!!

I am crossing my fingers that I may one day join the ranks of those making the pilgrimage to P-dub's ranch!!!

Glad you had a sweet time!

PB Rippey/sleepless mama said...

Thanks so much for your reporting on the ranch experience! Your description was GREAT and you come across as nice and genuine as Ree does, so there! Love your pictures, too. I came here from the link on the PW cooking page.

Country Girl said...

Came over here from Ree's site. What are you talking about? Your pictures are great!
And I would have been just as nervous as you were. I'm glad to hear she is as nice and welcoming as she comes across in her blog. Been reading her for years, and I don't mean to be obnoxious about that!!
Great post.

Anonymous said...

I am breathing a sigh of relief that I am not on the demotion list. I wouldn't blame you though...that looked like so much fun. What an awesome kitchen. You OK people are so cool; I am jealous.

Aren't we bringing the husbands to watch the kids while the cute cabana boys fan us as we sip (ok slurp) our yummy umbrella drinks??? I thought that was the plan. Can't wait! :) Kim

deb said...

Love the pictures! It was so nice to meet you. And seriously, when I sat down as you all were finishing up, I pretty much didn't get up again until the next morning. Who knew I was so tired?! Thanks again for taking part in the day!

twoedgetalk.com said...

You were too darling and fun! (and most definitely not sway-backed and pregnant looking, you goof!). Yes, please move to the country with us - surely your husband can make a good living with chickens, right?

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth.....aka Cyndi

Christy A. Whitaker Harris said...

I loved hearing YOUR view of your time with REE!!!!! I read it like it was ME!! So happy you had fun!!

♥georgie♥ said...

what a fun and exciting day! I enjoyed all your pics and loved hearing about your time on the Ranch...I clicked over from PWs blog

Tami - happyappywife@gmail.com said...

I clicked over from PW blog and started reading ... and didn't stop for an hour. You have a knack for down-to-earth storytelling; love your writing style. Thanks for sharing your world! And it's nice to hear that Ree is as lovely in person as she is on her blog.

Makes me (almost) wish I still lived in Stillwater, bc then maybe I'd get to be a lucky visitor to Ree's state of the art kitchen. I want to get my hands on that range (the cooking one, the other one I'll leave to the cowboys)!

Amy said...

I hope to meet some bloggy friends someday too. What a great experience.