Yep. That's right. I met Ree. The Pioneer Woman. In the flesh. And, she is warm and funny and beautiful and gracious. And, I felt and acted like a tongue-tied, star-struck, groupie. More about that in a minute. :}
The Pioneer Woman.I have been following her for some time now. I love her photography and hold out hope that some day when I grow up I can make photos that are as gorgeous as hers are. Some of it is her photo editing program, as she will tell you herself. I don't have the same program, but do have an editing program and am learning how to make my photos look better. She is a self taught photographer. And, she's very good.
She also cooks and has published a cookbook. I bought the cookbook a while back and have made several dishes from it. I have also made several dishes from her website. My hubby has loved each dish of hers I have made. It's simple down-home comfort food, the kind hard working cowboys eat. I am not married to a cowboy, but to a hard working southern boy who appreciates a good home-cooked meal. Ree's recipes come through every time. I post the recipes of hers that I make to Foodie Fans of the Pioneer Woman, a blog that loves Ree and her cooking.
It was while reading posts on her website that I noticed she was doing another book signing tour. This one was a short 5 stop tour. One of the stops was going to be Fairfax, VA. I used to live in Fairfax. It's a little over 2 hours from me. I was going to finish cleaning houses early on the day of her visit. I wasn't scheduled to work at Starbucks on the night of her visit. I decided to drive up to Fairfax, with my copy of her cookbook, (and my camera) and meet her.
I left Richmond around 1:30. Ree was scheduled to be at Borders at 6:00. I figured if I got there around 4 or so I would be there plenty early enough. I got to the Borders around 3:30. Went inside to scope the place out and find out what you had to do before the signing. One of the things was to purchase a copy of her cookbook, but they let me in with my own copy. I was given a colored tag and it was explained to me that after Ree did a discussion with the group, she would sign our books. We would be called by colors. I had an orange tag and was told that there were two colors before me. I decided to stay in the store, in the area where the discussion would be. Glad I did. Before Ree showed up, right on time at 6, there had to have been over 100 people waiting to meet her. Maybe more like 150. I am not good with guessing the number of people in a group, but I know the crowd spread out far behind me, and far to the left and right of where I was sitting. There were a lot of people there. Mostly women, but a few men too. A lot of people. I think it took close to an hour and 15 minutes from the time Ree finished taking questions till I was standing at the table she was sitting at to sign books. I pitied the people in the final group. The line of people snaked throughout the store, up and down aisles. Ree greeted each and every person, taking time to say hello and answer questions, allow photos to be taken, accept gifts and sign cookbook after cookbook.
I took a bunch of pictures of Ree as she answered questions from the audience. She took a couple of pictures of the crowd before starting to take questions. I was in the third row of chairs from the podium. Maybe, if she posts the pictures on her blog I will see myself. :)
She shared that Josh's thumb had been reattached successfully and that he was still single. She said she was traveling alone and how wonderful it was to take a long, quiet hot bath the night she arrived at the hotel. She said Charlie hadn't come with her. She told us where she got the great boots she was wearing. She said the movie, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, was still in the making.
Yeah, right. Something happens to me when I get near someone who is even somewhat famous or when I have a camera pointed at me. It happened when I met Rusty Wallace many years ago. It happened when I went skydiving and was video taped before and after the jump. And, it happened when I got to the table where Ree was. My brain shuts down, my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth and I face the camera, and the person I am meeting, like a deer caught in headlights! I was cool as a cucumber right up to the time the store employee took my camera from me, and another took my book. I was lightly moved toward the table where Ree sat. She looked up at me, smiled brightly and said "Hi Susan!" (Our names were printed on postie notes and stuck into the books so Ree would know who to make the autograph out to). I stepped up to the table, knelt down on one knee as I babbled about how great it was to finally meet her. The employee with my camera spoke to us and we looked toward her while she snapped a photo. I proceeded to babble something about how happy my hubby was that I cooked her recipes. "Oh, which one does he like the best?", she asked. Ahhh, Ranch Chicken I mumbled. She laughed and said "Bacon and cheese makes everything better!" I think I said something like yes, it sure does, and then I was being handed my camera and book and Ree said "Thank you for coming by" and I said again it was great meeting her and walked off. And, as I walked off, my tongue loosened up and my brain began to function again and I started kicking and laughing at myself for becoming so flustered by the meeting. I was telling my daughter about it today, and her and her hubby shared that they have both done exactly the same thing, recently, when meeting some members from a band they love. We all had a good laugh over our foolishness. :)
So, I now own an autographed copy of "The Pioneer Woman Cooks". And, I have several pictures of Ree and a picture of me kneeling next to her, proving that I was really there. I really did meet her. The Pioneer Woman. Very cool. :)