Howdy, y’all. I did it. I went to Oklahoma to film a segment of “Putting it all Together” with Susan Wagner and Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman. Being there was inspiring, rejuvenating, surreal. I came back in a happy trance. Or maybe it was a sugar high from the chocolate sheet cake. (Oh my God, people, the cake, I’m moaning in bliss just thinking about the warm, gooey, I-don’t-care-that-it-contains-two-sticks-of-butter cake.) Either way, I had the best time.

Wanna see pictures?

Let’s start with the journey there.

There was grass.

And more grass.

And cows. (And BlogHer producer Erin!)

And horses.

And more horses.

And more grass, cows and horses.

No, really. This state isn’t kidding around when it comes to its grass. It goes on and on and on and then when you turn a corner and think it’s the end, there’s—surprise!—more grass. Grass in itself doesn’t really excite me but when you see such vast open space, it’s truly exhilarating. As we were driving there, I just wanted to run outside and do cartwheels because look at all that grass! Not that I can actually do a cartwheel, oh please don’t make me actually do a cartwheel—you’ll laugh and I’ll end up in a neck brace. Not cool.

We finally approached Drummond Ranch, which is big. (I heard it’s the size of New Hampshire. I’m not even kidding.) We stayed at The Lodge, which is not actually Ree’s house but a guest house two miles from Ree’s house. People were telling me about the size and distance of everything around me but numbers confuse me so just believe me when I say these Drummonds own a whole lotta land.

A photo of The Lodge via The Pioneer Woman:

My room (and my mess):

The view from my room:

The kitchen, with Susan and BlogHer founder and CEO Lisa Stone assembling Ree’s salad. For our first meal, Ree had prepared food for us beforehand and Lisa put it together.

Dinner: Salad and tenderloin (or, ahem, The Tenderloin), all very yum. Not photographed because I was too busy mouthgasming: chocolate sheet cake. Heaven.

A dog:

Ree joined us a little later for a glass of wine. She is radiant. Loralee described her as a woman “born to stand in the Oklahoma wind and look beautiful” and I can’t say it any better than that.

She’s also so nice, like genuinely nice. She asked me lots of questions about my wedding: Where’s it going to be held? What does your dress look like? Do you have a veil?

At one point, she asked me what my bridesmaid dresses look like and I’m a huuuuuge dork and blurted out “They’re so cute! Fifteen dollars at H&M!” (yeah, I’ll tell y’all that story later). I don’t know why I felt the need to blab this, but I did. She smiled and said it’s great that today’s brides don’t need extravagance. “It’s not like they need Vera Wang,” she said.

I agreed and then asked her what her wedding dress looked like.

“Well,” she said with a snicker. “It was Vera Wang.”

She is funny.

She brought along her two girls, Alex and Paige. Paige, the little one, did a song and dance for us, which was adorable.

After chatting for a while and choosing our outfits for the next day, we went to bed. The night was so calm and still, which was a little eerie. Where are the police sirens? The high school punks loitering outside? What is this crazy thing I hear called quiet? In the morning, we woke up to loud moooooooooooos. It was such a trip.

It was soon time to start filming. Ree, Susan and I got our hair and makeup did and then nestled into our places on the set and talked about ways to give back as a film crew zoomed in on our faces. It was actually much less scary than I had imagined, mostly because Erin and Lisa were wonderful in assuring me that I did not look and sound like a complete doofus. It was over before I knew it. I got a cookbook signed for Jenny and I met Marlboro Man (“Hi honey!” Ree said to her infamous cowboy. “Michelle, this is honey!”). I didn’t get a photo but he is goooooood lookin’.

I just want to say that it was an honor to be part of this project and be in the glorious presence of Ree, Susan, Erin and Lisa. They are all so brilliant and yet so warm, so incredibly kind. Lisa and Erin are true pioneers in the world of online media, and I loved listening to them talk about BlogHer and their passion for connecting women across the globe.

And I loved Oklahoma, or well, the quick glimpse I was able to get. Gazing at the massive sky, I think I had a spiritual moment or two.

I’ve been really into reading The Pioneer Woman lately and it’s just amazing to me how an internet superstar with a bestselling cookbook and a ranch the size of New Hampshire can inspire us to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. She lives in such beauty and has spent the past four years chronicling it all for those of us who could really use some of it.

I was so lucky to be there.

Stay tuned for my “Putting it all Together” segment, which debuts next week. (Eek, I’m scared.)

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27 Responses to OOOOklahoma!

  1. I was born in Oklahoma! Glad you had a good time.

  2. I’m all verklempt with happiness for you. And jealously. You know. YOU KNOW.

    Of course you know that this means when I decide to make The Cake (and it will happen), you will have to come have some to tell me mine is just as good. It will happen.

  3. love this recap and glad it was all as amazing as i had envisioned it! seriously so jealous and absolutely love it all. and ah, ree is gorgeous, love.

  4. Aaaaaah you look like you had a great time! I think I’ve said it approximately 298712837682374 times, but SO JEALOUS. I love Ree’s blog, can’t wait to see what you were up to out there.

    Your outfit is super cute!

  5. Dude, I just noticed that The Cake uses buttermilk and I have a carton of buttermilk that expires on 5/11 that I need to use. You and Matt want cake, right?

  6. Sounds like you had an amazing time! So Jealous! I want to eat Ree’s food and live on a ranch! :D pet some cows, let the dogs run around. :P

  7. omg, almost 4 sticks of butter?! and a POUND of powdered sugar?! holy moly, moly. my best chocolate cake. ever. recipe calls for the same dry ingredients but instead of all that buttery, buttermilk, cocoa, sugary, crazy goodness, i use a cup of milk, a cup of coffee, and a cup of oil. i will try this recipe next time, though, and let you know how it compares.

    anyway, about your actual post, i just wanted to say: absolutely GORGEOUS photos!!! i’m sure steven will want to know what kind of camera you used, unless he already has that information =)

    happy monday, michelle!

  8. also, vicki – you can use buttermilk to make red velvet cake or blueberry muffins… i’ve got a couple recipes, ask michelle for my email address if you’re interested =)

  9. I absolutely loved reading this and am so happy you had the chance to do this! So glad to hear it was an amazing time and that Ree did not disappoint!

  10. First of all, can I just say how gorgeous you looked? That blue dress is making me green with envy. SO GORGEOUS.

    Anyway, just reading about this adventure made my heart all achy for the countryside. Isn’t it amazing to fall asleep to…well, silence? I’ll never get used to the traffic and other crazy shenanigans of the city. Although I didn’t have horses or wear a cowboy hat when I was growing up, I’m definitely a country girl at heart. Maybe rural is a better word. Except that it doesn’t sound as cute. And I’m not even sure if that technically works, but whatever. I have Monday Brain.

    I’m thrilled you had so much fun, got to meet Ree (one of my freaking idols) and eeeeeeat some delicious food! Next time can I come along? No?

  11. Oh my gosh! I can’t believe you met Ree. I think she may have been the reason I discovered blogs and blogging, and I only WISH I’d ever have the chance to visit the ranch etc.

    Also, that navy dress of yours is SO cute. I love it. (I’m on a huge navy kick right now)

  12. hah, that dog rules!

  13. the chocolate cake? just looking at it, I’m left speechless. I can’t even imagine.

    so glad you had a great time and I love your ruffle-y top/tunic!!!

  14. First off, butter: Mmmmmmmmm! Chocolate and butter together? Just kill me now why don’t you?

    Second, my grandfather is from Oklahoma so I have a ton of extended family still there. I went once for a family reunion when I was like 8 or 9 and we were the only non-white people we saw the entire time. Coming from CA, it was weird. But I do remember the sky being so…big. Wide open spaces and all that.

    Thirdly, I am too jealous you got to go to Ree’s house/ranch/state-sized property. And eat her actual FOOD. OMG.

    Lastly, your dress is just too cute! And you look beautiful!

  15. I’m a city girl at heart, but throw me in the country for a few days and I’m in pure bliss. I love feeling disconnected from my life. Add a warm and wonderful hostess and I’m sure your time in Oklahoma was dreamy. Can’t wait to see the segment!

  16. I’m so glad that you had such an amazing opportunity. I can’t wait to see the segment either. I love not living in a big city (but I dont actually live in such a rural area as that either).

  17. You look so beautiful! I can’t wait to see the segment!

  18. First of all, I’m in love with your adorable dress. And second? The countryside, a ranch the size of a state? It all seems so lovely, so peaceful and happy. I’m not sure if I could actually pull off that lifestyle, but I like to think I could. It seems so incredibly charming.

  19. Oh my goodness, look at you! That’s amazing! I can’t wait to see the segment!

  20. That absolutely sounds amazing! I want to live there! :)

  21. Wow it looks entirely like a different universe for me. Must be calming somehow. Love that room you get to sleep in :)

  22. First of all, you look gorgeous. Seriously. You look amazing.

    Secondly, I think I just had some weird sort of PW freak out/conniption/seizure reading this.

  23. Aw, I’m so proud of my home state and our wide open spaces right now!!! Even though I don’t live on the country and don’t experience quite as much silence…. but whatever, I’m still proud to be an Oklahoman!

    I’m so glad you had a great time and her place looks AMAZING… I’ve just recently started reading Ree’s blog and am amazed by the hugeness of their ranch!

  24. Pingback: Watch this. NO, DON’T WATCH THIS!

  25. Fun to hear the before/behind the scenes story to your video!! Fun to read!! What beautiful scenery at the ranch….~Chris Ann

  26. Her place looks awesome. It’s like you went to the blog version of Disneyworld.

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