Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tea Party Season!

My newest teacup find at HomeGoods in Chattanooga. 
Love that place!

And look at the detail on the inside of the cup. Cute, no?

Just as I suspected, my recent influx of posts has slowed considerably in the last couple of weeks. It's because of several things...traveling, work, sickness (Tonsilitis, anyone? How about a sinus infection, too? And maybe strep, for good measure?) but mainly...mainly, it's because of tea party season.

And no, I don't mean "tea party" in relation to any political agendas. I mean an actual tea party. I've been making plans for this year's tea party along with my lovely committee and things are going swimmingly. We've been sampling teas and deciding on tea sandwiches and gathering sponsors and patrons, because this tea party is a fundraiser for a university we hold near and dear to our hearts. Our next meeting promises a scone-tasting, which we are all looking forward to. YES, please.

To read, in full, the account of last year's tea party:

This year's tea party will be held on Saturday, May 7th and if you're anywhere near our area (Henderson, TN) I hope you can attend! To learn more about this event and see pictures from tea parties past, go to

A word about sponsorships: if you own a business that could benefit from advertising at a ladies' event which expects about 250 guests, please contact us at You can access the forms and sponsor information on the tea party page on the FHU website. One more exciting thing! Even if you don't live around here but have an appropriate online business that would love to reach our many guests, we have created a special $50.00 rate just for you! Check out the form for more information.

A word about patronships: if you would like to support the tea party (and in turn, FHU student scholarships) as an individual, this opportunity is perfect for you. It's even possible to dedicate your patronship in honor of memory of a special relative or friend. Last year I dedicated my patronship to my dear, sweet grandmother who would have loooved this tea party so much. She would have tied her apron on and gotten right to work with cooking!

One last thing...find us on Facebook and let us know you're coming!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Starstruck: Meeting The Pioneer Woman

You guys!! Last Friday evening was so exciting. My friends Sandy and Bridget and I drove to Memphis to a huge and very nice Davis-Kidd bookstore with one goal in mind. To see Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman, IN PERSON. To be able to giddily say things like, "This is so surreal!" while we watched her sign other people's books, like, 20 feet away. To chat with other fans, the nice people that we all are, while we tried to catch a glimpse of what Marlboro Man really looks like without seeming too stalkerish. (He was there, y'all! And we didn't even know he was going to be. It was Very Exciting.)

I've been a faithful reader of The Pioneer Woman's blog since a little over a year ago. Since then, I've tried many recipes that she's told me to (strawberry shortcake cake and BBQ chicken pizza now being made OFTEN at our house), we built a container garden to her specifications last spring, I've gotten into photography (especially of food and flowers) and often use her "actions" in Photoshop Elements to jazz things up a bit, and really...she has definitely been a blogging inspiration. I love her way with words and it made me remember how much I enjoy writing, too.

So when I found out that she'd be in Memphis during her current book tour for Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, I jumped at the chance to see this lady live and in person. Our friend Becky was supposed to go with us, but due to a bout of the flu...on top of a sinus infection...on top of viral bronchitis...she was, sadly, unable to go. We missed you, Becky! =(

We got there to the bookstore around 5:30, not knowing what kind of madness would ensue. Actually, there wasn't any madness. No chaos. No long lines. (Yet still plenty of people - towards the end of the evening, an employee guesstimated that there were 500-600 people there for this particular booksigning.)  Davis-Kidd had this brilliant idea of assigning a letter (we were Group "O") to groups of 25. And so, we didn't have to stand in line for three hours.

As we were waiting for Ree to appear, we ran into my friend Whitney, who lives in Memphis. She was very excited that her husband had singlehandedly arranged for The Pioneer Woman to travel to our area just two days before Whitney's birthday. What a good man, huh? ;)

Whitney = cute pregnant lady

Ree came out at 6:00pm, said a few words, answered a few questions, and then while Group A quickly lined up to meet her, we hightailed it over to the cafe inside the bookstore...Bronte: A Novel Bistro. Because of the clever name, I loved it already. We leisurely ate dinner (the chicken avocado wrap was spicy and marvelous) and chatted and didn't even leave the cafe' for an hour and a half. At least. But that was really because Bridget's peach cobbler didn't arrive in a timely manner. Her peach cobbler that wasn't really worth the wait, she lamented. Oh, well. We were in no hurry. (Did I mention we were in Group O?)

All we had concrete plans to do were to track down Marlboro Man...and snap a few discreet pictures...and then do a little bookstore browsing while we waited patiently for our group to be called. It didn't take long to find the one lone white cowboy hat perched atop a somewhat familiar face. Somewhat familiar because, really, I'm not sure any of us had seen his whole face before. On Ree's blog, his hat is always pulled down, casting a shadow. So, I'm here to show you What the Marlboro Man Really Looks Like.

Oh, wait, now I know why there's no clear pictures of him on her blog. ;) Luckily, we were all both amused and delighted to find that MM had drummed (drummond?) up his own unofficial autograph/picture line. We jumped in and within just a little while, we were able to photograph him in all of his cowboy-hat-and-starched-shirt glory. We enjoyed hearing him tease the little blond-headed girl in front of us. "Do you paint fences? Do you like to ride horses?" He was offering to put her to work right away. =)

We got autographs and a few fun shots with him. I asked him if he'd ever seen his life turning out this way, say, ten years ago. He grinned and shook his head. "No," he said, congenially.

Signing Sandy's books

There's his face! Don't their boys look just like him??

MM with Bridget; I tried to get Bridget to ask about Cowboy Josh!

Me, getting him to sign on his silhouette...Sandy's idea

After our meeting with the Marlboro Man, whose real name is Ladd, incidentally, we looked around the store for a bit and then finally settled onto some empty benches near Ree's booksigning location. We were able to watch and listen and just hang out for awhile. It was everything a booksigning should be -and Davis-Kidd, I'm very impressed with you. =)

The time was drawing near for our group to be summoned and I think we were all feeling a bit nervous. I really wished we could just sit and talk with her for awhile, to not be rushed, because I say stupid things when I'm rushed and nervous and starstruck. Ugh. The funny thing is that I know that Ree Drummond is the same way - I've felt a kind of kinship with her about that. But Friday night she was all dressed up and fancy and beautiful and seemingly at ease. And I was nervous.

Ree told Sandy that she looked like Marsha Brady. 
And then she asked her if she knew who Marsha Brady was. 
Ha! Of course we do. We're not quite as young as we look. =)

So when it was my turn, I walked up and she asked, "How are you?" and I said something along the lines of, " are you?" A combination of "Just fine" and "Good." That's brilliant, Kristen. Brilliant. I think she glanced at my face to make sure I wasn't in the middle of a stroke or a meltdown or something. When she was satisfied that I wasn't, she started signing my book and I started telling her (with a little bit more ease) about the necklace I was wearing. It was made by a friend's brother and I thought it was something unusual that she'd be interested in. She was. She wondered, nicely, how he made it and how he came up with the idea. We talked for a minute about it and I left her with one of his business cards. We got a group picture made with Ree and then after we walked off, I could finally breathe again. Whew! That was fun!

Ree and me

I enjoy this picture quite a lot. =)

Yes, sure, I said my wedding vows in front of a few hundred people, feeling completely at ease; I can teach kindergarteners in Bible class without breaking a sweat; I emceed our Chamber of Commerce banquet when I was the executive director and I did fine...but put me in front of PW and my words tumble out in a jumbled mess. Ohhh. I just realized what I did wrong. I practice(d) for those other things. Why didn't I do a quick run through before the book signing?? Yeesh. Well, next time I'll know. =)

The thing is, it really was all fun. Despite my last-minute nervousness, the whole evening was nice and casual and low-key. Lots of downtime but still plenty of things to fill it with. And it was great to hang out with Sandy and Bridget, both of whom I got to know a little bit better.

All because of our common interest in what's going on at the ranch. And how it all started. =)