Stop laughing. It’s possible, not probable but possible. The truth is I’m not really talking about me, well, I am, but more as an ideal and not a reality. You see I’m obsessed with the real Pioneer Woman; yes there is one and she has a blog and it’s the only blog I actually read everyday, aside from badly proof-checking my own.


Mar 3, 2010by tracey Comments

The Pioneer Woman Cooks
The Pioneer Woman Cooks
My idea of the perfect looking cookbook. I have never opened it.
My idea of the perfect looking cookbook. I have never opened it.

Stop laughing. It’s possible, not probable but possible.

The truth is I’m not really talking about me, well, I am, but more as an ideal and not a reality. You see I’m obsessed with the real Pioneer Woman; yes there is one and she has a blog and it’s the only blog I actually read everyday, aside from badly proof-checking my own.

I imagine many of you don’t even know who she is;  my guess is most of my readers are urban animals and a hunk of her enormous following is in the middle and South of the country. Though I’m sure she has groupies up North too. This week she appeared on both Good Morning America and Fox and Friends so I imagine her snowball of celebrity has gathered many followers as she rolls towards her newfound stardom. I think they are grooming her for her own TV show, but that is just between us.

So by now many of you are asking who is the Pioneer Woman and how did I leap frog from narcissism and eyelifts to this in one day?

Maybe I really do need to get out of the house.

She is a fellow blogger – well – she is far more a blogger than I am. And she is far more than a blogger period.  She is an author, a photographer, a mom and a wife and within a certain circle, a wiiiiiiide circle, like four million people she is a phenom.

She came into my life back in December thanks to Sarah Palin. Not like Sarah called me up and said “Hey, Trace- you got to check out this Pioneer chick.” I imagine Sarah thinks she is America’s first and only Pioneer Woman  -but we won’t even go there.

I was having lunch with someone who works with my publishing house to talk about my book Between a Rock and a Hot Place (it’s been quite a few days since I dropped that in). One of the perks in publishing– besides the fact they ask you about yourself–  is they bring you other books they publish. Before the economy tanked and Kindle started munching into their profits they brought you many, but now they at least bring you one.

So my companion said “Do you want Sarah Palin’s book or a cookbook?”

Without missing a beat I said “Cookbook,” not even bothering to ask what kind. It could have been a cookbook about two hundred ways to marinate gopher balls and I would prefer that to having to read about Sarah Palin. Now I am alone as her book is a huge bestseller so they don’t need me to read it for free and I’m sure it’s great and you should all go out and buy it, really you should. I just don’t want to read it as she gives me the creeps.

So I got a copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks. At first I thought Sarah Palin did a cookbook too. Five hundred ways to marinate moose.

Clearly, by the way I looked at the book I gave off a “what is this?” vibe. My companion said, “It’s selling off the shelves. She has a blog that is read by millions.”

Blog read by millions?????

Well, ladeda I hadn’t heard of her, but my companion was right. At first glance the cookbook turned me off. It’s orange and yellow and green and busy, busy busy. It has horses and decals and flowers and vines and it kind of looked like a well-done school project. Or perhaps The Pioneer Woman had taken one too many scrap booking classes.  But at the top it states
“#1 New York Times Bestseller”.

Clearly many people like birds and butterflies and vines and ponies. And maybe, just maybe, I’m a stuck up, snobby, less is more, mid-century loving cliché of a New York City girl.

I don’t think I thought that at the moment.  I think I thought the book looked cluttered but I could re-gift it. Not sure to whom, but it was the holidays and at least I didn’t have to lug Sarah Palin around all afternoon.

So I took it home, yet stuck in my mind were the words “four million followers” and “thousands show up to see her.” I was moving into the land of blog envy, celebrity envy, my curiosity was in overdrive. So instead of throwing some Innsbrook wrapping paper on it and giving it my sister I sat down and read it.

If I thought there were decals on the cover that was nothing compared to the inside, it was decal city.  And full of pictures of food and ponies and puppies, and cherubs– boy, it had a lot going on.

I must admit some of the recipes looked tantalizing. Though she cooks with a lot of white flour and butter and sugar and things my obsessive, NYC, thin competitiveness tries to stay away from, but diet be damned I earmarked some pages. I don’t think I can get Glenn to eat potato skins but I do like them and the macaroni was right up Lucy’s alley.

But mingled in with the recipes are snippets of her life story, her family life and her kids and I kind of liked that. This was a real person talking to people about food and her life and I liked that too.

I liked it enough I put the book on my shelf. It was a keeper. I liked it enough I decided to check out her website, now she would have four million and one.

So I typed in and then, my friends, I was hooked. I fell in love with the Pioneer Woman and I understood why much of America has too.

The thing I loved most was she tells you exactly who she is, we know I love that.


She was a Lucky Duck who went to USC who was on her way to a big city life in Chicago when she fell madly, passionately in love with a cowboy she calls Marlboro Man. Instead of moving to Chicago to a lovely apt filled no doubt with Crate and Barrel furniture (I have Crate and Barrel furniture) she moved in with MM to his working ranch in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma and there she made her life; had four kids and in 2006, started a blog about her life and adjusting to life in the middle of nowhere when she thought her life would be in the middle of Chicago. She tells the good and the bad, but it’s all laced with love and insights and food and decals. Yet by the time I had spent four hours reading about her I forgot about the decals.

What I really liked about her is her self-deprecating wit. We love that.

She is not afraid to point out her faults – we adore that.

She is self-aware of her own foibles and owns them. Fabulous.

And the thing I found vastly impressive is she intrinsically understands or she is just much brighter than “the aw shucks” persona she puts out for her readers, she understands the power of certain type of storytelling and mythology.

On her blog (which is vast, I will get to that in a moment) she tells you her life story and she does it well. She’s not John Updike, but she doesn’t pretend to be. She is her and that is good enough.

And she knows how to blog. The woman has one of the best blogs on the net and I have learned more about blogging from Ree Drummond in Oklahoma than anyone else on the net and that is just by following her.

In her big ole, decal filled blog she has tapped into the essence of the American mythology of damsel headed for the wrong life being saved by that great American icon – the cowboy. And her case it’s true. But she tells the story, this great love affair in many parts, and it taps into the hearts and imaginations of people in the most primal and romantic of ways. And she is not manipulating, I can spot that a mile away, she is for real.

So I was really taken with not only her understanding of narrative structure but her ability to  squeeze it into the template of the daily blog.

Me, big city girl, screenwriter for twenty years, teacher for ten, me learning how to write for the web from this woman I didn’t know who I felt needed a lesson in de-cluttering. That impressed me, plus I was hooked on her story and all the rest of the things she was serving up daily.

Her blog is broken into sections: she has her daily “Confessions” where much like me, but  often times softer and  less arch, she tells her life story or what’s on her mind, or what her kids are up to or silly things she does. I can see her posting her eyelift shots. Or perhaps I would just like to see someone else do it.

She has her “Cooking” section which I think is what really put her over the top as she takes photos of each step and not only makes it look fun, but actually makes it fun and a family event. She got me back in the kitchen. Lucy and I have tried some of the recipes.

I went out and bought white flour and didn’t use spelt for a change. Lucy and I made her Chicken Parmigiana one night.  Glenn had seconds. Lucy is hooked on her too.  I told her we would make the chocolate sheet cake with M&M’s.  This is big for a kid whose household treats are Tofutti bars.

She has a “Photography” section, she takes decent photos – really good.  Between her photos and Larry telling me mine were all out of focus and my kids showing me up in Angkor Wat, I have made a concentrated effort to stop excusing my lack of photographic skills with the “I’m a verbal not a visual person.” I bought a new camera, as we know and I’m working at using it. I’m not there or anywhere near there yet, in fact I’m so far from there, I don’t know where there is.

She also has a “Gardening” section. I must admit, I haven’t checked that out, I hate gardening.  I’m the only person in the Hamptons who every summer has no hydrangeas; they hate me, they bloom for one day then die. I am not a gardener. But she is. And she’s probably really good at it. Of course she’s good at it.

She also has — get this– a “Home Schooling” section. I checked that out. I didn’t know most of the questions. I moved on.  It’s like when Lucy plays that “Are you smarter than fifth grader?”  with me and I find out I’m not. I have a hard time with that. Dead hydrangeas I can live with, being dumber than a fifth grader is deeply disturbing.

So here I find myself tuning in daily to witness this woman’s life.

On my Safari master page you find my own website, my bank, my Twitter, my gmail, my WordPress home page, Jon Turk’s site, Joan Kron’s site, my Facebook and The Pioneer Woman.When you think about it the only people’s sites up there aside from my own are my plastic surgeon, the woman I want to be my surrogate mother and Ree Drummond. She made the big final cut, decals and all. Today she has photos of puppies, and cows and they actually make me smile.

And the thing is on paper or in life, it looks like we would have nothing in common, or certainly not enough for me to put her in my top ten. She lives in the middle of Oklahoma. I live in the middle of Manhattan. I’m a minimalist; she’s a bit cluttery.  She cooks with more butter in one day than I admit to consuming in a year, but she has sort of changed that.

She home schools her kids, I cry when Lucy presents me with a fraction and according to Lucy I’m dumber than a fifth grader.

She loves a man who spends his days with animals doing hard labor with his hands, a man who runs a tractor, works a ranch, can erect a barn no doubt and drives a truck. I love a man who spends his days with books, lives in his head and does deals. He can’t work the remote and drives an Audi wagon badly. When something breaks he calls downstairs for someone to come up and fix it.

She is a devout Christian, I am a confused Jew-Bu – or is that redundant?

She really knows her way around a camera, I still can’t figure out light speeds.

She doesn’t seem to like to travel much; I would rather be in a transit lounge in the middle of the night in Asia than almost anywhere.

I have been a working mother my whole life; part of her work is being a mother. But she is a self-admitted happiest at home gal. This week is the longest stretch of time I have spent in the house since I was four months old.

She seems to be close to her whole family – I’m like the poster child for the kid from the dysfunctional family. She started her blog to be closer to her mother – I spend time on my blog talking about how far apart I am from my mother.

But, in the plus column we both love our families and seem totally willing to make them the center of our work and sometimes the butt of our jokes. And we take the attitude they are along for the ride whether they like it or not.

We both talk about ourselves with total honesty and lack of regard for other’s judgments.

We both seem on the path of figuring out life and the how’s and why’s of things on a daily basis.

We both love dogs.

I do love butter, even though I have a hard time admitting it.

At the end of the day, I think people just like being let into other people’s lives.

They like the access, they like to peek in the windows and when you let them do that with humor, honesty and a great recipe for home made croutons (yes, I made them with white bread)  they will show up, in her case by the millions.

Certainly why they show up differs. Some people show up because they think they want to be you. Some people show up because they just want an out from their own life. Some show because they want to experience something so different than what their days deliver or they want to connect to someone whose life resembles their own. Some are just curious crazies. Some want to come and learn how to do things better. Some want to be amused. And some like to come and sit in judgment.  Ree and I don’t care if they do that.

I think one of her secrets is that she is so out there, so honest, so unapologetic, so forthcoming, you feel like you know her, you feel like you could show up at her door and she would take some cupcakes out of the oven and pour you a cup of coffee and you would have a fine ole chat. And I think online many people are looking for an honest friend. Forget the bells and whistles and decals– Ree Drummond delivers that.

Hey, she had me at Howdy.