Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Meeting the Pioneer Woman!

Somebody pinch me. Yesterday still doesn't feel real. 
Yesterday Ree Drummond was at The Grove in LA signing books for her Black Heels book tour. I've been looking forward to this day for months. Apparently my birthday is on Friday? I wouldn't know... I've been more excited about meeting my favorite blogger.
I stumbled onto her blog last summer while trying to find a recipe for chocolate sheet cake and, like thousands of others, was instantly drawn in by her down-to-earth writing and stories of  life in the country (cowboys still exist!), her sense of humor, and, of course, her beautiful photography and delicious food. The last thing I ever thought was that I'd end up with this fire lit under me to learn how to make things like homemade cinnamon bread or pound cake. These days I actually wear an apron when I'm feeling particularly domestic. I get excited about measuring cups. I take pictures of food and I blog. What has happened.

I blame Ree. 

After changing my outfit fifteen times, I hit the freeway. LA is three hours from my house. Side note? Thank God for GPS.
It was a beautiful day too and reminded me why I'm still a Southern California girl at heart. Lots of blue and palm trees and ocean. 

I made it to The Grove around 2...
... and stared at this three-story Barnes & Noble in awe for at least seven minutes.
I only wanted my cookbook signed and after much confusion & disagreement with the improperly informed customer service at the bookstore ("It's just a book signing. There's not going to be very many people here."), was told that I couldn't have a wristband & would have to wait in the stand-by line. 

As it turns out, they ran out of wristbands soon after that anyway, so nearly everybody who wasn't there at 9 AM to claim a colored wristband was put in stand-by. Since Ree had promised to stay until every last book was signed, I wasn't too worried. It's all about the experience and anticipation. It would be a letdown to be the first person through and then that's it... it's over.

Since I had two and a half hours to fill until we needed to start lining up, I spent the afternoon walking around The Grove... which if we're being honest, resembles Main Street at Disneyland. 
There were even magic fountains!
My goal was to find the Wonderland Bakery, but I guess I didn't walk far enough cuz I never did find it. 

I did however find this bakery, which made me giggle. 
Another one of my favorite bloggers mentions this store in a lot of her posts. Can I just say that this is a new favorite? If it's possible to register here, I will find a way to immediately be engaged. They sell everything... mini doughnut pans, scone pans, extracts I've never even heard of, even Easter bunny-shaped whoopie pie pans! I'm not joking.
And when I walked past this door, it took all of my willpower not to slip inside it. I felt like I'd found the entrance to Narnia. There were even chefs outfits! I want a chef outfit.
This brought out the little girl in me. I loved American Girl growing up. I had the magazine subscription until at least middle school and the Kirsten doll, whom I've just googled & discovered has been retired. Boo.
At 4:30, I headed back to Barnes & Noble. The signing didn't start until 6, but they were already lining everybody up on the third floor. The stand-byers were lined up on the second floor. 
While I waited in animal nonfiction, it suddenly hit me that I hadn't eaten anything since that morning. With all the waiting & standing around, I won't lie... I got a little grumpy. 
Then about an hour later, a group on the other side of the railing screamed, "REE!!!!!" and that's when the excitement hit. What cheesecake? Apparently she had walked right through the middle of the store & we'd all missed her. 
Another hour later and they moved us up to the third floor and what with all the women and the excitement and the Christina Aguilera being blasted, it felt like one big slumber party. Minus the bleary eyes, hurting feet, and all the books.

Around 8:30... I can finally see her!
It was nearly my turn and all of a sudden I felt like I was back in high school about to give that presentation on Greek mythology that I definitely wasn't prepared for. My fingers got icy-cold like they do when I'm nervous and I briefly considered fleeing.
Watching her with everyone else, she was so friendly and warm. She took the time to talk with every person and answered questions and never stopped smiling or laughing, even when people brought up entire stacks of books for her to sign. She really is exactly as she appears on her blog.

And then it was my turn! The minute I started walking towards her I must have lost the filter between my brain and my mouth because instead of thinking, "I'M SO EXCITED"... I actually said it. To which she laughed and said I was adorable and had me schooch in for a picture. 

As she was signing my book, a thousand thoughts blew through my mind. You're so pretty. Your mini orange muffins are delicious. You inspired me to learn how to bake. Don't judge me, but I've never made your cinnamon rolls. I love your blog. How do you do your hair? I want to be you when I grow up.

Before I could fumble all of this into a sentence, she asked me if I was from around there and I told her no. She asked where I was from & had never heard of my town before so she said, "Is that like west of here? Where is it?" And for a complete second I was so starstruck, with my hands shaking & everything, that I forgot where I was and very intelligently said, "Where am I again? Oh right. LA. North. It's north of here." 

I'm just brilliant like that.

More smalltalk and smiles, nothing ever very intelligent on my part, and then she handed me my book and I left. I was on a Ree-high for at least twenty minutes. It's a wonder I didn't fall down the escalator.
Best day ever.

In the meantime, my cookbook's been stolen/read/bookmarked by my parents. My mom is demanding to know what happens after Ree & her husband met & fell in love and so far they've demanded decided we need to try Marlboro Man's favorite sandwich, the spicy pulled pork, and her macaroni & cheese.  

But first...
I think you know.