Surprises in the-middle-of-nowhere-Oklahoma

That one time that I went to The Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK and got to meet Ree Drummond.

Just a few weekends ago I finally had the opportunity to head up to Pawhuska, Oklahoma and check out The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond’s, Mercantile. I had been waiting since she opened up shop to make that trip. You would think being in the same state would make it easy but unfortunately I’m at the very southern part of the state and Pawhuska is almost as far north as you can get, so it’s a bit of a journey.

It worked out with our schedule perfectly because we ended up having a wedding to attend just outside of Tulsa.

When we arrived in Pawhuska and parked at the Mercantile, the first thing we did was hop in the incredibly long line for the restaurant. After discovering that there was a 3 hour wait (that’s what we get for arriving at 11:30 am on a Saturday …) we decided it would be best to begin our shopping and grab food from her “grab & go” deli section before we left.

When I first walked in I was immediately in my happy place. I have admired and looked up to Ree for so long it honestly felt like I was in a dream.

The place was MUCH bigger than I expected. Tables, shelves, racks FILLED with everything from clothing to kitchenware, kids toys, books, candles etc. If you can think of it they probably have it at The Merc!

There’s also an adorable gift wrapping station. Although the things I was buying were all for myself (because I’m greedy) I genuinely considered still having them gift wrapped. They have the cutest paper ever. And hey, a gift from myself is still a gift, right?

As we were browsing I started to get pretty hungry and I knew that with the amount of shopping I was going to do I needed to refuel. So we decided to head upstairs where you can purchase delicious treats and baked goods as well as coffee.

I got an iced mocha (yeah, that’s what my adrenaline and excitement needed, caffeine) and Chad got a “cowboy coffee”. From the bakery I got one of everything. Okay, not EVERYTHING but I did walk away with a pretty delicious box full of different pastries and treats. How could you not? We got a tray of Ree’s cinnamon rolls, a blueberry streusel muffin, a knock-you-naked brownie AND a sticky bun. It was glorious. All of it. But I think the brownie was my favorite. I regret not getting a cookie though. They were as big as my face and looked so delicious. If you get the chance to stop by, please get a cookie and tell me what I missed out on.

While we were paying for our treats, we both noticed a small line of about 10 people standing against the far wall. I immediately got suspicious so I asked a lady at the end of the line what it was for. She said “There’s a man downstairs who let us know Ree was here and that this was where to wait for autographs. Now the next 15 minutes is a little foggy to me. I hopped in line and told Chad what was happening in which he cleverly responded “I told you we should have brought one of her cookbooks just in case!” He then told me to go and grab her most recent cookbook that I had not yet purchased. Bless his heart. Then I stood in line mentally freaking out. Talk about fan-girling.

Here’s a fun fact about myself: I’m really emotional and can cry at almost anything. I’ve always been that way. Being happy, scared, excited, nervous, sick, any emotion can make me tear up. So I had to try really hard, seriously hard, not to get emotional. I used a technique I used on my wedding day where you press your tongue to the roof of your mouth to keep from crying. It worked, for the most part, but there was still a gloss of excitement over both of my eyes. Thinking back, I probably should have been a little more talkative but I was pretty shy. I was thankfully able to make a little conversation. (Once I met Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert in a Subway Restaurant and I totally word vomited. I was talking SO much! I couldn’t even tell you what about, but after that I swore that I would try to be a little more composed if I ever had the chance to meet someone else like that. Maybe I was a little too quiet this time, I’ll have to find a happy medium).

I’m not going to lie, I had thought about what I would say if I ever got the chance to meet her and I think the fact that it came as such a surprise made me freeze a little bit. In all honesty I was just trying really hard to soak in the very brief moment. I think if I could go back I would probably just let her know how awesome I think she is. Not just as a food blogger but as a wife, a mother, an author and business woman. She took a hobby that she had, something she was passionate about and shared it with the world. That’s a big risk. Putting yourself out there is still a really scary thing for me. Maybe it wasn’t for her but I honestly think she’s a rock star for doing it. She kinda paved the way for a lot of other women. Speaking of awesome, did you pick up her magazine and read the story of how she met her husband? If not, do it. It’s the sweetest thing!

Anyways, she signed my book, we had a quick chat, took a snapchat selfie with the bunny face filter and then it was the next person’s turn. After that I was on cloud nine. I kept looking at my husband like, did that just happen? I practically bounced back down the stairs to finish my shopping, passing the long line of fans now waiting on my way.

I made my way around the floor in no particular pattern from table to table whenever I was distracted by something else that interested me. Kinda like a pinball. I blame the coffee.

How cute is this? This is how they packed up my cookbook when I bought it!

After making my way to the register with my full basket it was time to get some food. The line for the restaurant was still pretty long so we decided to stick with out “grab & go” plan. There are some really great options on the deli menu. There’s sandwiches, salads and several hot entrees. I grabbed the meatballs with mac & cheese and Chad picked the pot roast with mashed potatoes. Both were incredibly delicious.

Also, the blueberry lemonade was to die for!

I loved having the chance to check out the Mercantile. I love seeing small towns really come alive when businesses like this bring in new visitors. At the beginning of her show she states that she lives on a ranch in the middle of nowhere and while I’m sure the ranch really is pretty far out there, the town of Pawhuska itself is also in the middle of nowhere but it is 100% worth your time and the drive.

I love this man. I love sharing special moments like this with him. 

If you’re still here and following along, I just wanted to share a little bit more of my story with you. Like I said before, I really admire Ree. When I first moved to Oklahoma several years ago I was 1500 miles away from all of my friends and family. It was a big move. While my immigration process was being finished I wasn’t able to start working so my days were spent at home. This is when I first came across her show, The Pioneer Woman. I would watch it all day. Seriously. Food Network always played several episodes a day and I would always have it on, whether I had seen the episode or not. I really related to her style of cooking. Not only that but something about the show felt so familiar. Like home. I felt a little less alone.

I have always believed that cooking for someone is one of the best ways to express how much you care about them and that’s what she does for her family. They have a busy and hectic life, like every family does but she was just real. That resonated with me.

So with watching the show I was of course constantly turning to her recipes. I would say at least 4 days a week there was a Pioneer Woman recipe in our day in one way or another. If I am every wanting to try something specific for the first time I always check and see if she has a recipe for it first. Whether it’s her blog or her cookbooks, she is always my first resort!

I have always loved to cook for people and to share recipes that I loved. Being in the kitchen has always been my favorite place. I was inspired by Ree to start food blogging in hopes that I could still be connected with my friends and family back home (I miss you) through both my favorite recipes and ones that I have created on my own. It was a little scary for me at first. I wondered if anyone would care or be interested. I wondered if people would think it was silly. But I came to the realization that doing something that truly made me happy was the important thing. Letting other people control your emotions or how you feel about yourself is a really sad way to live. You need to believe in yourself. You need to be proud of yourself. You need to be happy with yourself. Even if no one ever read my blog it’s a chance for me to combine things that I enjoy – cooking, writing and photography. And here’s a secret, I am LOVING it. My only regret is not having started sooner! Am I going to be the next Pioneer Woman with an incredibly successful TV show, kitchenware line and store/restaurant? Probably not. But I am going to enjoy this journey regardless because it’s the one that was created for me.

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that for me food is about building traditions and creating memories so I hope that I can help you to create new memories with your own friends and family, ones that you will pass on and cherish for years to come.

So thank you for being on this journey with me.

I hope y’all keep coming back!

Kayla

PS: Ree, if you ever happen to come across this, I admire you so much.

PPS: If you’re ever looking for an intern, assistant or guest cook let me know! 😛

PPPS: Thank you

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