Monday, April 27, 2009

Meanwhile ... back at the ranch

Wow - where to begin. One week ago today I was on the way up to the school to pick up Savanna from her musical practice. These were the last few days of practice before her Thursday, Friday, and Saturday shows.

My phone beeped and there was a message from Kristie saying she needed to ask me a question. I was sure she was going to ask me to volunteer for something at the school. But I just could not think of what. I called her back and she said she needed to ask me something but feared it might give me angst because I would need to make a decision.

OK - what on earth could she be asking me to volunteer for that would cause me to struggle with making a decision?

She proceeded to invite me to accompany her up to the lodge. You know The Lodge on The Ranch. Come on, you know The Pioneer Woman's Ranch. I am sure I squealed loud enough for the car next to me to hear and to make Kristie's phone shriek.

She gave me the details - and told me to call her when I had decided. And you know what, for a small moment I almost did not go. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? It was Savanna's musical and all. (I did go to the first two nights) And what kind of mother leaves town for the day of the last performance? Well, I will tell you what kind of mother does that. Her name is Alisa. Me, moi. And I am so glad I said yes!

We spent the week - giddy as can be, emailing each other back and forth. I looked up Smitten Kitchen and started drooling over the photos of her food. The week went so fast and next thing I knew it was Saturday morning and Kristie was at my house to pick me up.

The drive went so quick. I was so glad that Kristie was just as giggly as I was as I confided in her my nervousness. It seemed so funny that we were acting so, oh- in awe of where we were going. But come on. We were going to visit The Pioneer Woman.

We found where we were supposed to be going, turned where we were to turn and there were three horses in the road. We looked at each other. What does one do when there are horses in the road? I have seen cats, squirrels, dogs and ducks. I have even seen a raccoon before. But never a horse. Do you drive around the horses? Do you just plow through hoping they will move? Do you sit there and wait ... staring as they stare back at you ... like a (who-is-going-to-move-first competition?) Fortunately a woman in a truck came up along side us. She was on her way to visit too. We let her go on ahead and you know what? The horses moved!

We pulled up to The Lodge and gave one final squeal before we pulled ourselves together.
We made it to the door and walked inside. I had this strange feeling like I had been there before. It was like being on a movie set. Surreal. I kept looking around knowing where things were. It was beautiful. The lighting, the counter tops, the pictures, the pantry. (oh the pantry- I have pantry envy) And that was before we even met anybody!

Almost instantly any nervousness was gone as we introduced ourselves to Ree and made our way around the room of guests. Imagine going to someones home, like a friend of a friend; someone that you have never met, but that you have heard all about. It was just like that. Immediately comfortable. I had wondered if I would feel nervous and bubble on about how enamored I was with her. I did. But I was not nervous.

We sat down to the most delicious lunch I have ever eaten. Lunch. Not dinner ... lunch. I was so excited to eat I forgot to take photos. But you can see the beautiful photo that Kristie took of the meal and how she described the day. You can also get the recipe for the fabulous meal from the Pioneer Woman.

Hyacinth (PW's best friend) showed up right as we were finishing lunch.

And we all had a good chuckle about how her name came to be.

We ate wonderful berries and cream that reminded me of our honeymoon. I could have ended the day right there. I wanted to lick the bowl. But I held myself back.

We sat around the beautiful table and re-introduced ourselves and where we were from. How is this for coincidence? There was a woman who had lived on the same street that I live on now!
I loved hearing where everyone was from and what their connections were to blogging and photography.

Then it was time for the demonstrations from Deb of the Smitten Kitchen. She and her husband had come all the way from New York to share three yummy creations. She stood all day. AND she is 18 weeks pregnant. (I am sure she was just exhausted by the end of the day!)

I loved what she shared with us. Great handouts and some handy info like:
*What a shallot is.
*How come I am having trouble with my bread making. (Probably my yeast and too much flour, and the temp of my oven.)
*That you can freeze or refrigerate your bread dough to break up the time.
*That the longer bread rises the better the flavor.
*How to gently pat down the bread dough instead of punching it down.

It was so much fun to listen to her and watch her make the recipes.
Then we got to join in the fun and roll out our own pretzels.

We made a lot, and when they were finished they went fast.

And the cake. Oh the cake- I would be lying if I said that we did not sneak into the cake before it was served. (with Ree's approval of course!)

Had I not tasted this bread, I might have been intimidated by all the ingredients. But it is so worth all of the effort and time involved.

Being able to watch Deb make each recipe was eye opening. Watching someone else demonstrate gives you ideas of how to change the way you do things. She commented on how little she uses in the way of bowls and utensils in the kitchen. Living in such a small space in New York would do that.

The whole day felt like I was in a "behind the scenes" show. The cameras, the food assembly.
It was amusing to see all of us wielding our cameras. We had nice fancy ones, all the way down to little shiny ones. All of us documenting our version of the day. (and here is where I laugh at my tiny shiny camera. If you read Kristie's description of her photography-then you know why I am laughing at trying to describe mine.)

Then there were the tweets- I had a great time after I got home reading the tweets that were taking place while I was there. PW hosted, tweeted, served, blogged, entertained all simultaneously.
Seriously- Kristie said it best ..." Truly, the woman's picture should be in the dictionary under "multi-tasking"."

After we were finished with all the demonstrating, assembling, cooking, and then finally tasting, we stood/sat around the bar chatting.

At some point Kristie looked at her watch. We realized it was getting later in the afternoon, and that we should probably hit the road. (although we did not want to- who would ever want to leave?!) But we were invited for lunch and the demonstration. Not lunch and the demonstration, and dinner. So we made our round of good-byes.

I can not say enough good things about our day. I am more than thrilled that Kristie asked me to go with her. We had good times driving. Meeting The Pioneer Woman was a complete dream.0 And meeting Deb from the Smitten Kitchen was delightful. They were real people, doing normal everyday things. Photo taking. Cooking. Baking. Entertaining. Blogging.
But somehow they make it anything but normal.


Kristie said...

Is it weird that I got all giggly again just reading about it?? How long before the perma-grin on my face wears off??? :)

Reg said...

What a great experience! Thanks for sharing.

vgsmom said...

I love how this age of technology allowed all of us to join in your fun. I'm glad it exceeded your expectations.

Meghan said...

I am going to have to call you soon. Just reading about it isn't enough, I want to hear you squeal about it!

Soul-Fusion said...

wow, I would LOVE to go there. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great recap!

How did Hyacinth get her name?

Lynette said...

I keep thinking, "One of these days..." I enter so much, I'll have to win SOMETHING. But it will probably be a $50 GC instead of a visit to her lodge. I would love to go!!

nonabloch said...

Hello! I'm Sabrina and I was there too! Your description is right on. I had such a great time and it was wonderful meeting all of you.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Good for you! I love your recap--doing normal things but it seemed anything but normal.

Veronica said...

After you were so sad you didn't get to meet her with Jay, you get to go to her house! Yippee!! I'm so glad you got to do something so fun, and that Savanna was okay with you missing closing night.

Jenn said...

OK, so I have to admit that I thought Jay probably rigged it for you to go! And then had to apologize to Ryan for thinking Jay was being a better husband than he! :) But still, very, very jealous am I!

Grace @ Sandier Pastures said...

What a grand experience for you! I wonder how PW's guests are chosen?

I enjoyed reading this post!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your great recap and your pictures, too. It was so much fun getting tweets from PW and then checking the posts and the pics. I was stuck in NJ, but it felt like I could sort of eavesdrop on the fun (sorta like one of the cows on the porch) while doing my own thing. Thanks!