Meeting the Pioneer Woman

I came across The Pioneer Woman while I was in college. A few of my sorority sisters were obsessed with her, and I quickly learned why. “An accidental country girl,” the famous blogger was charming, humorously self-deprecating, humble, and honest in her writing, recipes, and photography. When she got her own Food Network show in 2011, I quickly became a regular watcher. She once spoke to my soul while making a pie crust on the show; it came out less than perfect and she said, “It’s not ugly. It’s just rustic. That’s what I always say if something’s not perfect. Now it’s rustic!” Oh Ree, this rustic girl sure needed to hear that!

I bought her book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime a few years ago. I admit rather shamefully I’ve never really used it. It sits in a place of privilege on my piano because it’s just so pretty.

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Last week, her new children’s book, Little Ree, came out. Of course I wanted a copy for my daughter. I was at Parnassus Books with Scarlett a few weeks ago for Saturday story time, and I learned The Pioneer Woman herself, Ree Drummond, would be coming for a book signing! I was so thrilled because as anyone who watches Ree on Food Network or reads any of her stuff will know, she seems like the best friend you don’t have yet. She is my imaginary best friend. I just knew she would meet me and quickly invite me and Scarlett to the ranch to come and play with the cows, chow down on some cowboy grub, and then bring a potluck dish to church Sunday morning.

Anyway, fantasies aside, the evening of the book signing came, and my little heart just pitter-pattered all day. When Scarlett and I arrived a full hour early, the place wasn’t yet overly crowded. But as women and children began trickling in, all hoping for a photo with the star, it soon became somewhat suffocating. But your favorite introvert toughed it out. I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to have dreams meet reality for a split second just because of an anxiety-inducing crowd. Be proud of me.

When I finally got to the front of the line, and the beautiful divine creature stood before me, I suddenly became so nervous. She’s so much taller than I thought she’d be! And we’re wearing almost the same shirt! And Scarlett is pitching a fit! And oh my gosh, where’s my camera, is it ready? I was fan-girling so hard. And here are the results.

 

Have you ever seen such a cheesy grin? I want so share our 15 seconds of conversation so it will be forever printed in my memory.

Me: Hi Ree! (desperately trying to contain squeals.)
PW: Hello, let’s get a picture real quick.
Parnassus staffer: Um, Ree, over here.
PW: Oh, sorry, I was busy looking at the baby!
Me: She has that effect. This is Scarlett.
PW: Oh, beautiful, like Gone with the Wind?
Me: Smiling and nodding like a moron.
PW: So is that why you named her that? From the movie?
Me: Oh. No, I don’t really know. I was so drugged up when she came out, my husband just said, “She looks like a Scarlett,” and I said, “Okay.”
PW: Oh my! Well that could have gone in a totally different direction!
Me: (as I’m getting shuffled off the platform out of the way for the next folks) Uh-huh, haha, garble blah blah words.

I was shaking for a good 10 minutes after this encounter. It was glorious.

And that’s the story of how Ree and I met. The story of how we go on to become best friends is yet to come.

Vegetarian Saga – Days 1 & 2

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It has begun.

I can officially call myself a vegetarian.

I know I’ve tried this before (oh, how I’ve tried!). I’ve experimented with the term pescatarian, but it just wasn’t working for me. I’ve argued myself into thinking giving up beef and pork would be enough to satisfy my growing social and environmental awareness while I could still have the occasional chicken biscuit. But then I’d eat a bratwurst and feel guilty for a week. And I’ve tried the term “part-time” vegetarian, because, really, that’s what I’ve been since February. I maintain my vegetarianism for a few days here and there and then, when it becomes convenient to not do so, I quit.

But no more.

When I sat down to write this 25 list in January, I thought eating an all vegetarian diet for one month would be the easiest thing to accomplish. It’s basically what I did when I lived in France, and I don’t eat a lot of meat anyway, so I didn’t think it would be a big challenge. But me eating “not a lot” of meat still equals me eating meat much more often than I am comfortable with.

It’s everywhere. My partner S eats it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all the snack-times in between. His roommates cook bacon every morning. It’s in all the things I want to order at restaurants. It’s in everyone’s soup, sandwich, or salad at lunch time. No matter how hard I try to resist, I can’t get away!

It’s not even so much the craving as it is the convenience. If I’m running late for class, but haven’t eaten all day, I want to stop and get something hot quick. It’s virtually impossible to find something vegetarian fast. I have to plan ahead. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the many months of trial and error, it’s that the attempt to eat the way I feel morally and socially obligated to eat is going to take careful planning and sacrifice on my part.

So, partly to fulfill my “25” requirement and partly to satisfy that internal self-bettering urge, I have decided that October is my vegetarian month.

For 31 solid days, I will be a vegetarian. This means no poultry, beef, pork, or seafood. It will be hard, but with the support of my friends and family, and you as well, my readers (the 2 of you out there), I believe I can do this!

Another post will be dedicated to why I feel the need to take this journey, but for now, let me just say it is 11:34 on Wednesday, October 2nd, and I have been meat-free for 28 hours.

Grace and Peace to you this day.

Where are we?

It’s the first day of FALL!

I’ve been hesitant to embrace an early fall this year, mostly because I wasn’t quite prepared for summer to end when the rest of the world decided to end it. (Damn you Starbucks and your pumpkin spice lattes.) It was still warm, so I was still wearing shorts and craving iced tea and swimming and backyard barbecues. I didn’t want to let it go!

But now everything has changed. I awoke this morning and my body said, “Shelby, it’s time. Your favorite season of all is upon us.”

So I got up on this lazy Sunday morning full of autumnal yearning. After sleeping in and skipping church, (because I’m young, not yet ordained, and can still get away with doing that. Gotta enjoy it while it lasts), I made a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes.
pumpkin pancakes

And now I’m sitting here in the living room, sort of watching the Titan’s game, but really just basking in the fall sunshine streaming through the windows, and I’m thinking about the year so far.

2013. It’s been a whirlwind of a year. I say that every year, but really, I have been challenged in my personal, academic, and social life this year more than ever before. And I don’t think I’m alone. So many of my peers, friends, family, and loved ones have expressed similar surprise at the difficulty the year has brought. There have been wonderful things happening right along side the hard stuff (isn’t that always the case?), and it’s good to remember those things when we’re just feeling so exhausted and down trodden and ready for a new phase of existence.

So I got to thinking about that list. That “25” list I so ambitiously set about accomplishing many moons ago.

Let’s review:

1) Begin a blog to document my experiences this year.
For a beginning blogger, I think I’ve done pretty well with this one! I’m by no means a regular blogger, but that’s okay, because I am a full-time student with four part-time jobs and a LIFE so I am not really feeling bad about not posting everyday.

2) Learn to play Debussy’s Clair de Lune perfectly, from beginning to end.
Ummmm. This has not happened. Let’s just be honest: This is not going to happen. I can play the first page. That’s progress. And I’m proud of myself.

3) Go skydiving.
Still on the to-do list. I think there is a strong possibility I can get it done before 2014, I just have to be intentional about finding time to do it!

4) Write (and actually finish) a short story to be published here for your pleasure and feedback.
I have one in the works. I hope you like it. Wish I could tell you when to expect it, but I just don’t know. These things have to happen in their own time.

5) Train for and complete a half marathon.
Well…. I did one last year, will that count? I still have time to do one in December if I start training now…

6) Hike 20 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
This may have been a reach.

7) Take 12 photos of 12 amazing places.
1. Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Nashville, TN
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2. Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, NV
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3. Love Circle, Nashville, TN
Love Circle
4. Salisbury Cathedral (Salisbury, Wiltshire, England)
Salisbury Cathedral
5. The ruins of Old Sarum, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Old Sarum
6. Platform 9 3/4!
Platform 9
7. Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, TN
VDS

I have five photos left to take of amazing places!

8) Complete 1 round of golf… no cheating.
Haven’t even had the chance to cheat, just haven’t gone. Need to rectify this immediately before it is too cold!

9) Go deep sea fishing.
Nope. Went to the beach TWICE, and still didn’t do this. Still want to. Next year?

10) Begin learning Spanish.
Have taken no serious steps in this direction. Bad Shelby.

11) Rock climb at Climb Nashville.
Nope. Waiting for a groupon or amazon living deal to pop up.

12) Gamble in Las Vegas.
I did that! It was great! See previous post.

13) Tackle the Titan.
I’m concerned about this one. I read recently that there was a serious accident resulting in a woman’s death on the Texas Giant. Not sure how I can get myself on the Titan right next to the Giant after that.

14) Consume an all vegetarian diet for one month.
I have been part-time pescatarian since watching Food Inc. with L in Vegas. If I’m going to do the vegetarian thing for a full month, I need to start now, because the holidays will be VERY hard to resist.

15) Picnic on Love Circle.
Yep! Had delicious food and wonderful company. So romantic!
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16) Create a backyard vegetable garden.
This one was fun. I was so excited to see actual life springing forth from the ground I had worked so hard to prepare. But so were all the wildlife in my neighborhood, so I didn’t get to enjoy much. At least someone did.
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17) Dye my hair an unnatural color.
Purple, yo.
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18) Be an extra on ABC’s Nashville.
I don’t know whether to count this or not. I got dressed up for the season 1 finale taping (CMA Awards episode), I got to the set, I waited, I waited, I waited… I never got on. I waited four hours, and they never called any extras back. So I had to leave because I had other things to do that day. But here’s the proof I was there at least. Maybe I can get on for season 2 before the year is up…
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19) Eat fish and chips in England this summer. (Thank you Vanderbilt Divinity School!)
Did it, it was awesome. Sorry, no picture.

20) Learn how to make paper.
Not yet.

21) Make a t-shirt quilt.
Not yet. Christmas gift for S maybe?

22) Make and carry homeless “care” bags in my car. Each bag will have necessities and a list of resources that I can hand to neighbors who might need them.
Have not done this. Winter is coming, and with winter months comes Room in the Inn. So maybe I can get this done.

23) Read the entire New Testament in one month.
I plead the fifth. As a graduate student in theology, I read too much about the New Testament, not so much of the New Testament itself. But I think December might be a good month to attempt this feat as classes will end and I will get a much needed break.

24) Boat down and camp on a Tennessee River.
NEED FRIENDS TO DO THIS WITH! C, I’m looking at you!

25) Make one new friend each month.
Ok, Ok, I’m not social. So sue me. I have friends.

Inspired

I just cannot stop browsing through Kalyn’s blog.

(Here’s the link in case you missed it last time: http://kalynroseanne.tumblr.com/)

She has inspired me to be brave. So I’m posting a poem I wrote several years ago. When I look back through old poetry, I often feel the need to change this or that, or just delete it all together. But this one has stuck with me. Will you leave a comment and tell me what you think of it?

The Zoo Keeper

I refuse to move for the ever-present fear

of losing you.

I must remain a statue, aching from solidity.

You are the bird that perches upon my head,

ever prepared to soar

away in the blink of an eye.

The ocean sways in the storm above us.

But we swim unperturbed in the darkness below.

The grandfather clock chimes two in the morning.

You snap my image with your Nikon.

I laugh into my coffee cup.

You pinch my foot.

We keep on swimming.

You are the pillow that suffocates my sleep.

Clog my nostrils, stifle my breath.

I can taste the fibers of the expensive thread count,

a taste of captivity

always associated with you, the zoo keeper.

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Heck, while I’m at it, might as well share a silly haiku. Haikus are fun and easy and sometimes powerful (not necessarily mine, but you know, the good ones). I wrote this one last semester while feeling bored in a lecture.

I love to write haik-

(Damn.) Now I begin again.

Or maybe later.

Pretty much sums up my forever struggle with writing!

Peace to you friend.