Visiting “The Merc”

As soon as I heard the Pioneer Woman was opening a Mercantile store and restaurant, I knew I would have to visit.  It is located in Pawhuska, OK–the nearest town to the Drummond Ranch. Also, FUN FACT, the town in which my mother was born and visited every summer for about a week.  (My great-grandparents farmed near Pawhuska.)

The Merc opened in Fall 2016, and we visited President’s Day 2017.  We planned for crowds given that it was a holiday so we started the 2-hour trip at 8:00am (we even left on time…miracles happen!) and parked around the corner from the Merc around 10:00am.

The wait for the restaurant was ranging from 1 hour to 2 hours.  We decided to bypass and head straight to the store.  There was no wait here so we shopped.  I bought this sweet plastic wrap dispenser.  It has honestly been a game changer.  No more tangled, sticky plastic wrap!  They were out of the cake plate I thought I had to have so maybe next time.  I also bought a book–Charlie and the New Baby–for my newest niece, and an Easter basket item for my goddaughter–Charlie the Ranch Dog.  (At least I am pretty sure it was this one…I left it wrapped up!)  Had the Pioneer Woman herself arrived, I planned to purchase her autobiography for signature!  Once we paid, we went upstairs to the bakery.

We waited about 10 minutes to get through the line… Just enough time to narrow down our selections!  I went with a chocolate almond croissant to eat there and a pecan maple scone, cinnamon roll, and pecan sticky bun to take home and share with Tyler.  Shoulda bought more… But that’s why I’ll be returning!

The bakery was neat.  Plenty of room to sit and eat as well as windows bake to the actual bakery part to watch them work.  Just made me wish I could bake full time!

Now that we had our hor d’oeuvres, it was time for lunch.  (For real, though.  It was almost noon!)  The restaurant line was EVEN LONGER.  We thought about waiting but figured we would come back on a random weekday and try it out.  We jumped in the deli line for some food!

The deli is not just your average cold cuts and salads… It has those as well as full on meals.  The deli selections change each day so no planning ahead for Ms. Type-A (and that is me…I am Type-A).  We both ended up with lunch as well as items to take home for dinner.  For lunch, I went with the Fancy Mac.  We both took home meatballs–they rounded out my combo meal.  My mom also took an extra meatball and mashed potatoes and green beans to make two combo meals.  (They only heated up our mac and cheese… the rest stayed cold.)  We shared one of the tastiest berry cobblers ever for dessert.  Because the area was pretty full, we ended up taking our bag of food upstairs and ate.

Commercial Microwave Ovens!

We explored a little more after lunch and ended up calling it a day around 1:00.  Sadly, still no sign of the boss lady… The Pioneer Woman of course!  Oh well, I’ll “stalk” better next time.

Here’s an idea of where you wait for the restaurant and the deli:

BUT WAIT… Who did I spot as we were walking to the car?!?!  Ree and Ladd Drummond walking across the back parking lot!  Mom said we could go back, but I didn’t really want to wait.  There was a line to get in, and maybe they had some work to do before greeting the crowds.  I’ll meet them next time!

Have you been to The Mercantile??? Let me know what you thought!

Spicing up Dinner

Every week, I sit down to plan our weekly meals. Every week, I find myself writing some version of chicken, pork chops, and usually tacos. Why? Because I love tacos and different variations of grilled white meat? Nope. It’s because I’m lazy. At least I own it?

Seriously, though. I own at least 10 cookbooks and have 341 pins on my Lunch/Dinner Pinterest board, and I can’t come up with dinner ideas?! And to think I actually enjoy cooking! Well, I say, “NO MORE.” Last week, I sat down and tabbed a few of my cookbooks and sifted through my pins. I wrote down ones I want to try on strips of paper and threw them in a jar. (Side note… I really put a lot of stock in recipes with pictures. No picture with the recipe? Probably not in the jar. Just sayin’.) Each week, I will pick at least one recipe and plug into the meal plan. Probably more than one a week. I wrote down 101 ideas. (Shameless, off-topic plug… The hubz has been dubbed my official blog photographer. He takes some nice pics!)

Really, only good things can come from this. 1.) I’m taking some of the thought out of planning; 2.) I’ll actually start getting legit use out of all those pins and cookbooks; 3.) Our weeks will be a little more well-rounded and a tad more adventurous. I realized I really have a “food type.” And it involves lots of cheese, butter, and cream. I mean, for real. How many ways can you do ranch chicken? At least 6, apparently. According to my Pinterest board.

So help me out. What are some of your favorite dinner recipes for me to throw in the jar? How do you break the cycle?

Magnolia Musings

How many of you have been waiting with bated breath for Part 2 of Girls’ Weekend? (See Part 1.) How many of you forgot there even was a Part 1 and just clicked back for a reminder? Yea, me too. Making you wait like that was totally not cool. So here I am, giving a bulleted breakdown (part because I may not recall enough specifics for a long post and part because apparently “bullet journals” are all the rage?) of our July trip to Magnolia Market / my tips:

(DISCLAIMER: the following is pretty stream of consciousness-esque)

  • For those of you still living in 2012… Or those of you not addicted to television… Magnolia Market is the storefront brainchild (slash tourist trap) of Chip and Joanna Gaines–hosts of HGTV’s Fixer Upper.
  • Magnolia Market is located in Waco, TX.
  • Waco, TX is A SAUNA in July.
  • I hate sweating.
  • Waco, TX = Topeka, KS. Woof.
  • Chip and Joanna crack me up.
  • I really actually haven’t watched Fixer Upper in a while… We cut the cord. Cuz I’m a cheapskate. And wannabe hipster.
  • Cutting the cord is hipster, right?
  • BACK ON TOPIC… We visited The Silos on a Friday afternoon. I highly recommend this. It was packed when we drove by on Saturday. And even hotter.
  • The items there were pretty pricey. (Ex: Jimmy Don’s small metal signs were $38 and large were $95.) So bring your pocketbook.  Magnolia comes at a price.
  •  I really liked the choices at the adjacent bakery–Magnolia Flour. Take some home for later. I recommend Ziplocs, though, if you won’t be eating right away.
  • We spent our Saturday morning at Homestead Heritage (just outside of Waco a bit). Kind of commune-ish. Totally neat to walk around. Great off-the-beaten path excursion.
  • More specifically, you MUST eat at Cafe Homestead. Delicious food. Beautiful setting. Nice people. We had breakfast there. Then I had lunch there–homemade strawberry ice cream.
  • The Findery (just down the street from Magnolia Market) and Spice Village are fabulous.
  • Both, like Magnolia Market, sell home decor.
  • They also sell clothing and host individual vendors’ booths with one-of-a-kind items.
  • (I actually preferred The Findery and Spice Market over Magnolia Market. Gasp.)
  • It was very BUSY when we went in the summer.
  • Enjoy my photo dumps at end of post 🙂

All in all, it was a great trip with great family.  Not entirely sure I would go again. (Only if my mom thought she’d need to see it.)  The Market itself wasn’t what I was expecting. A little too commercialized and not enough personalized. The Findery and Spice Village really amped up the shopping portion for me.  Should I go again, you can bet I won’t go in summer, though.  I’m not like Olaf.  I know what summer does to me.  I would suggest it for the experience and as a fun three-day weekend road trip. Next trip?  Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK!

Anyone else been to Magnolia?  Any tips or tricks I missed?  Love it or hate it?  Comment below!

Now for the photos…

Magnolia Market & Magnolia Flour:

Magnolia Flour Treats

Homestead Heritage

The Findery & Spice Village

Re-Centering in 2017

So it has been a while!  Welcome back… to me, I guess?  For the first time in forever (I see you “Frozen”), I decided to craft some New Year’s resolutions.  One of them is refocusing the blog and actually blogging.  Novel concept.  This includes revamping the look for “Adventures from Oz.”  Still trying to figure out how to even do that so stay tuned.

In order to refocus the blog, I came up with a few ideas for posting.  Some made the cut, some did not.  For example, writing more about how cool my dog is didn’t make the January cut.  But I’m sure I’ll squeeze it in somewhere.  (I mean, look at her:  …she balances on suitcases and stuff.)

Here is what made the January cut (in no particular order) (and it does stink of resolution-y type posts…give me a break, it’s January 2):

  1. Making the most of my time using my new inkWELL press planner.
  2. What I’m reading– using my reading journal from Modern Mrs. Darcy.
  3. Refocusing on fitness and nutrition… Starting with GoTime Training’s FitStart 5-Week Challenge. (Begins January 27!)
  4. Creating a budget and actually using it with Every Dollar’s free program!
  5. New recipe Wednesday… Gotta get out of that cooking rut!
  6. Decluttering and reorganizing my space
  7. Wichita Restaurant Week starting January 20

So what would you like to read about on the blog in 2017?  Any Wichita happenings I should know about?  Get ready, devoted readers.  Seriously, I made this a New Year’s resolution so OF COURSE I will follow through. 🙂

Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated nor am I being paid by any of the links.  Only in my wildest blogging dreams.

Girls’ Weekend Part 1 – Intro

This past Christmas, we tried for a more meaningful gift-giving for my in-laws … trips!  The boys gifted my father-in-law a Colorado hiking trip, and the girls gifted my mother-in-law (MIL) a trip to Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas.  My sisters-in-law (SILs) spearheaded the planning, and we came up with a plan.

First: when to go.  We were mainly looking at summer weekends.  Pro: easier scheduling for a portion of the crew.  Con: heat–three flames (think iPhone emojis) is an understatement.  Pro:  Baylor University–located in Waco–would be out of session for the summer.  We ultimately decided on July 8, 9, & 10.  We left Wichita on Friday, July 7 and stayed the night at my sister-in-law’s in Edmond, OK.  It made Friday’s trip a little shorter and would provide a chance to get to Magnolia Market that afternoon.

Second: where to stay.  My SIL found a handful of VRBO and Airbnb listings, and we found a three bedroom, one bath house just a short drive from Magnolia Market.

Third: logistics.  I am pretty blessed with fantastic in-laws; my husband is one of five–2 brothers and 2 sisters–presently leaving me with three sisters-in-law.  That left us with six travelers:  my MIL, 3 SILs, and “Grandma” Betty–a close and dear friend to one SIL.  With six travelers and the hopes of many purchases, we needed adequate transportation.  Fortunately, one SIL’s kind and generous friend loaned her family’s 12-passenger Nissan NV for the cause.

Fourth: the plan… I use plan loosely.  We had the important details nailed down.  Once in Waco, our only plan was to hit up Magnolia Market.  We were pretty open from there.  The main inspiration for the visit is the fandom that is Chip and Joanna Gaines’s Fixer Upper.  A couple of us scoped out the website in advance and dreamed of purchases and money well-spent.  Otherwise, we were just along for the ride!

Coming up next… Part 2–tips and the trip!

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Can’t head to Waco without a Magnolia tee!

Happy 4th of July!

The 4th of July is my favorite holiday, and baking is one of my favorite pastimes so of course I tend to combine the two to make one big happy day.  This year I made my favorite sugar cookies but tried a new royal icing recipe.  (Try Peppermint Plum’s recipe for thick, soft sugar cookies and Sweetopia’s royal icing recipe and tutorial for the decorating!)

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Generally, royal icing intimidates me.  You have to hit that magical consistency and decorate with a certain speed so as to have just the right look.  A few months ago I started the search for the perfect royal icing recipe–and perfect tutorial for decorating with royal icing.  I finally landed on one that looked pretty promising, and I finally got around to trying it out for the 4th.

It would seem I found the right one.  Sweetopia offered detailed instructions as well as helpful tips and tricks to decorating with royal icing.  I will most certainly be using this again.

Overall, I liked using the same consistency to outline and flood the cookies.  However, I will use a bigger icing tip for the larger cookies (such as the jaggedy edged firecracker).  It is really clean looking to not have the outline when using the same color to fill.  I also strongly advise the use of the Americolor gel food coloring to tint the icing.  The squeeze bottle is super handy, and I really feel like it provides the truest color consistency.

To make these firecracker cookies, you need to outline + flood the cookie with white royal icing using Sweetopia’s 5-10 second consistency icing.  Then come back and add lines that follow the edging pattern to the middle.  I alternated with blue and red icing.  Once you have enough “bullseye” circles, drag a toothpick through the lines.  You can start at the center and drag out or start at the edge and drag in.  It’s up to you!  I used Americolor Super Red and Navy Blue for my colors.  The red and blue lines are the same icing consistency as the white.  It just made things easier that way!  It’s important to be mindful of how quickly the royal icing can harden.  I usually would flood three cookies and then add the lines to those three.  It’s difficult to do more than that because your white won’t be as liquid for your red and blue lines to “fall into.”  I also advise keeping your bags in glasses with a damp paper towel at the bottom.  Then your icing tips don’t clog up requiring extra steps to clear them out and a messier opening for your neat lines.

So now it’s your turn to decorate some cookies!  Here are my 4th of July firecracker cookies.

Lolo’s Crepes

In case you didn’t know, Wichita has a pretty legit food truck scene.  Given that I’m really into food, and trucks aren’t bad either, I am a huge fan of that fact.  During food truck season, there are usually several cool events including Food Trucks at the Fountain (coming up this Sunday, June 26 at the WaterWalk!), food truck rallies, the new Wichita State Food Truck Plaza, and the Pop-Up Park in Downtown Wichita.

One of the newest food trucks is Lolo’s Crepes (the kind with a fancy tent over the first “e”).  Crepes on wheels are definitely enough to interest me so I hit up the truck this past Tuesday at the ICT Pop-Up Park.

For one, this was my first visit to the Pop-Up Park.  Let me just say they have done a nice job.  It is very clean and a well-thought-out outdoor space.  There are planting beds with trees and flowers and a nice parking area just behind (I accessed it via Market Street).  There are plenty of shady seating options and a nice concrete ping pong table for a little aerobic lunchtime activity.

The day I went, Lolo’s Crepes, Let ’em Eat Brats, and Kind Kravings were present.  The line-up rotates each day–be sure to check the Park’s website or Facebook page.  Because I went for the crepes, I got crepes.  Tyler joined me and also opted for the “very thin pancake” truck.  (Talladega Nights, anyone?)

I selected a savory crepe seeing as that seemed the most sensible idea for a meal.  The black forest ham crepe won out, but the beef crepe was a close second.  Tyler went with the bacon crepe.  His comments “lots of bacon,” but he did say he wished he chose the beef one.

Overall, I was really impressed with the crepe.  Very good and flavorful.  I decided to add on bacon for a dollar, and it was worth it.  They certainly did not skimp on the bacon or the ham.  Lots of gooey cheese but not too much (so no glue-y texture).  It also had spinach and onions to add that health factor. 😉

I am really looking forward to trying a savory crepe–I have my eye on the S’mores or the Sweet Lolo.

Summer 2016 Reading List

(Note – books link back to Amazon.  I have no affiliation with Amazon nor do I get anything special if you follow the links!)

  1. First Comes Love – Emily Giffin is by far my favorite author.  Not sure if it’s the lawyer connection or what, but her books always seem real and somewhat raw.  They really leave you with the feels.  I got hooked with Something Borrowed and I have stuck by through The One and Only.  Her latest book–First Comes Love–follows sisters with a strained relationship as they navigate their own feelings and choices after a tragedy a decade and a half earlier.  Releases June 28, 2016.  (See Emily Giffin’s website for a book preview.)
  2. Here’s to Us – Elin Hilderbrand’s latest novel delves into the lives of three women… All who married the same man.  After his death, the women have to come to some semblance of a truce to say goodbye to Deacon on Nantucket.  Hilderbrand is a new favorite of mine.  With a writing style and realism similar to Giffin, she tells of love and loss and happily ever after seamlessly.
  3. I Let You Go – Maybe a bit heavier than I usually include on my summer reading list, I Let You Go is a thriller that follows a mother grieving her child’s death in a tragic car accident and a pair of police investigators working to get to the bottom of the hit-and-run.  Amazon’s description proclaims this to be the next “blockbuster thriller” for those who loved The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl so there’s that… I, unfortunately, seem to be the only person on the planet that didn’t love either one (I know, I know) so I’m cautiously optimistic.
  4. Somewhere Out There – I am pretty unfamiliar with Amy Hatvany, but I always look for books that get me out of my “chick lit” (ugh, awful descriptor) box.  Hatvany’s novel tells the story of two sisters that lived very different lives after ending up in state custody.  So what happens when Natalie–who was adopted out and leads a seemingly normal life–seeks out Brooke–who grew up in a state facility and countless foster homes?  Sounds like a good one for Jodi Picoult fans… Of which I generally am not.  Meh, I’ll give it a shot!
  5. Tell Me Three Things – This is for my fellow YA fans… And waffle lovers.  Because seriously, it looks like there are waffles on the cover.  High school junior Jessie is new to her prep school and working to fit in when she receives electronic communications from a Somebody/Nobody offering to help navigate the halls of high school.  Sound like the latest crime in the newspaper?  Maybe, maybe not.  Looking forward to where Buxbaum goes with this one.  Probably still a good idea to talk to your teenagers about Interweb safety.
  6. The Dinner Party – All I needed to know about this novel is it involves a meddling mom + holiday drama.  Sounds like it can be counted on for a good laugh and good entertainment with a healthy dose of family.
  7. The Island House – Nancy Thayer rarely lets me down when it comes to a lighthearted summer read.  The Island House also appears to incorporate one of my favorite plot lines–an old flame that could rekindle.  Seriously gets me every time.  Of course, it wouldn’t be a solid read without a little drama thrown in. The flame Courtney looks to ignite may just be unavailable after all…
  8. The Precious One – Marisa de los Santos really tugged on the heartstrings with Belong to Me.  Continuing to expand and grow upon a favorite theme, de los Santos tells the story of an estranged father-daughter relationship and the power of forgiveness and family in The Precious One. Taisy must decide whether she will give Wilson–a father she has seen once in seventeen years–a second chance when he reaches out and invites her for an extended visit to meet half-sister Willow. But why now?
  9. The Singles Game – Alright.  Weisberger had me a sports theme.  Protagonist tennis star Charlotte “Charlie” Silver gets swept up in newfound notoriety after switching tennis coaches and personas.  Charlie just how to decide how much of herself she is willing to sacrifice to make her way to the top and at what cost.  Weisberger authored The Devil Wears Prada proving herself capable of stretching her characters to their very limits.
  10. The Unexpected Everything – Given that I loved Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone (for realz…loved), I was thrilled to see her latest reviewed on another blog post.  While this is another YA novel, it’s still worth a shot.  In The Unexpected Everything, Andie thinks she has her dream summer mapped out but after her pre-med internship falls through, her summer becomes completely unexpected (see what I did there? Punny) and she has to determine whether she can completely let go of the control she has held onto so tightly.
  11. The Weekenders – Another of my most reliable summer authors, Mary Kay Andrews’s latest novel returns the read to the beach.  Specifically here, Belle Isle.  Riley Griggs returns to Belle Isle looking for family support after she decides to divorce her husband.  But the summer becomes much more when her husband is unreachable and things begin to slowly unravel in Riley and her 12-year-old daughter Maggy’s cush existence.
  12. Truly Madly Guilty – Even though I have yet to read Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret, I have the latest novel on my summer list.  It examines those families that seem perfect on the surface, but what do they really look like when you scratch the surface?

What books do you have on your summer list?  Leave a comment and let me know what I’m missing! 

Flag Day

I have decided that Flag Day would be the perfect day to unveil what I have thrown together for my patriotic decor.  Because I love red, white, and blue decorating so much, I have actually been piecing this together since Memorial Day.  I still have several things to add, but here’s what is on display so far.

Most of my mantel décor came from Joann’s.  There’s a little Michael’s thrown in there.  Just this weekend, I saw some pretty cool stuff at the Target Dollar Spot.  Might as well make it super cluttery and add those to it!  I read somewhere that you need an anchor, “weights” on each side, and then smaller “filler” in the middle.  Pretty sure what I threw together doesn’t quite qualify.  But I do what I want.

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PicMonkey Collage

The “Stars and Stripes” sign, blue star, and red candle light up.  Bonus!  Sadly I not great at stocking batteries so they are not being utilized to their full potential… And don’t judge my reading material.  Janet Evanovich and YA novels totally count as intellectually stimulating.

These fun wooden firecrackers were a weekend craft project with some friends.  They were super easy to make.  I purchased an 8-foot landscaping timber at Home Depot (for right around $3!), and Tyler cut it into sections–30″ + 24″ + 24″ + 18″ lengths.  (My mom always says to group things in odd numbers.  Again, I say, I do what I want.)  We used red, white, and blue exterior paint from Lowe’s.  (Watch out, apparently it is a lot harder to get true red and blue than you would think…)  Another crafty soul cut star stencils, and we used dauber brushes to fill them in.  They turned out much better than my craft products typically do!

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Next on the to-do list is a red, white, and blue wreath.  My plan is to have a section of regular brown burlap, a red section, and a navy blue section.  I will have varying sizes of wood stars (found at Joann’s) for the blue section.  Here’s my inspiration:

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I also purchased some nice flag bunting from Michael’s for the deck, and we have a flag that we just need to find a good size flag pole to fly in the flower bed.  We should be all set to display our red, white, and blue American pride over the next few weeks!

Do you have any tips or tricks for your 4th of July or summer décor?

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

My Little Susie Homemaker board on Pinterest is loaded with tasty looking desserts and every so often I break out of my comfort zone and try a new one.  Given that it’s summer, strawberries are my fave, and my Nanny had just handed me a new jar of homemade strawberry jam, I decided it was time to try these Strawberry Oatmeal Bars.

Strawberry Bars

These little guys were delicious!  They tasted a lot like a Nutri-Grain bar but were still sweet enough to count as dessert too.  My only plan is to increase the amount of strawberry jam in my next batch.  I did not have enough homemade jam to meet the recipe “requirement,” but the bars still had a nice strawberry taste.  (Homemade preserves are totally not required… Any strawberry jam will work.)

The nice bonus was how easy they were to make.  The hardest part is cutting in the butter when making the oatmeal portion.  I ended up having some bigger hunks of butter, but I didn’t notice a difference… And I made sure to quality control test plenty of the bars just to be sure.

I highly recommend this as a quick breakfast on-the-go or a nice strawberry dessert for the summer!

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars – Serves 24

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 stick salted butter (13.25 tablespoons), cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 jar (10-12 ounce) strawberry preserves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 inch pan. (I used Crisco.)
  2. Mix together butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Press half the oat mixture into the prepared pan. Spread with strawberry preserves. Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly.
  3. Bake until light brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely and then cut into squares.

Bars 2