Have I told you about The Pioneer Woman?
Surely I have. I've certainly made many of her recipes! Perhaps you enjoyed one. (But perhaps I just took the compliments and sneakily passed them off as mine. Oops.)
The Pioneer Woman is otherwise known as Ree Drummond, a midwestern gal, mom to four kids, who blogs about food, photography, and her life on an Oklahoman cattle ranch. I've been reading her blog for about three years now, mostly the recipe section (I remember when she first posted that chocolate sheet cake), but her story of how she went from an uptown city gal to the wife of a rancher, "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" is quite riveting. She's got a wicked sense of humor and a great eye for composition. Her fame has steadily grown (I voted for her to get those Bloggy awards!) and she recently published a book. Isn't this just the happiest cookbook cover you've ever seen?
See that lovely design on the brown background underneath her book? That's a t-shirt. How did I get it, you might be wondering? Well, that, as they say, is the rest of the story...
Tonight, I met the Pioneer Woman. She was at her booksigning here in Atlanta. She is just as warm and friendly in person as she comes across on her blog. And she was signing books like Babe Ruth signed baseballs while carrying on completely gracious and intelligent conversations, maintaining poise and composure with Sharpie in hand and cameras flashing. How does she DO that?
(I actually asked her if she uses Vaseline to help her keep smiling through all those photographs. She said, "No, but I probably should." And then she proceeded to execute a proper "pageant wave." I love that woman.)
My friend Sarah is probably blogging right now about all our experiences, so I will let her share all the details about how we ended up there at the perfect time and made it smoothly through the line in only a little over an hour. Sarah brilliantly researched the fact that we should show up way early and get armbands so we could go in with an earlier group, rather than getting there at the start time. Apparently, some of PW's recent book signings have lasted until the wee hours of the morning, so at least Borders was prepared.
The Pioneer Woman definitely draws a crowd. But it's also a very nice crowd. Mostly ladies, quite a few adorable kiddos, one or two lone males. We were diverse and chatty and super excited to be there. I have been to other book signings (mostly obscure poets and authors that only my fellow English majors would appreciate) and it was nothing like this. Tonight was like a big party. You couldn't meet a stranger. Perhaps it was because we all felt we knew her from reading her blog.
Upon meeting the Pioneer Woman, she made me feel instantly at ease. When my friend Sarah, her sis-in-law Vickie, our friend Shanna and I all went up together, Ethan was sleeping, strapped to my chest in a Beco carrier. The very first thing she said to me was, "You are too tiny to have such a big baby!" That is the nicest compliment I think I've received in months!
I was just beaming. And struck dumb! How could I compete with such a compliment? Wasn't I, as the fan, supposed to be the one praising her? I think I said something lame about how I enjoy her blog. Then she said, "Was that all your milk?" and it took a second to register that she meant did I breastfeed him and all I could say was "Yup. Pretty much." Tongue-tied, I tell ya.
Still, that, too, was a compliment I couldn't beat. I tried to follow up with "And it was all from your food, too!" but that came across as kind of weird. Still, perhaps she, as a fellow mom, understood. At least she didn't shoo me away or anything.
There was some chatter about a Marlboro Man coffee mug that Shanna brought her (who doesn't like coffee?). And something about her hand getting cramped from signing all our books (we had 8 between us, but some people had that many by themselves!). Then we were gone, thanking her for coming, gathering our things so the next group could meet her. We chatted for a minute with her friends and were given these amazing t-shirts. For them, it's like residual fame. Kind of neat. And they are just as graceful and charming as PW.
And then it was over.
Afterward, we went to Figo for a late dinner. I think PW would've liked the food, minus the stale bread. I just enjoyed chatting with my friends and watching Ethan try to eat a piece of bread with his pacifier still in his mouth.
I'd like to think that the reason this collective adventure was so enjoyable for all was because the Pioneer Woman writes about and photographs what she loves, and we all just happen to love the same things.
I'm grateful I have a whole slew of new recipes to try out on my unsuspecting friends and family. Thanks, PW!