I feel so dadgum lucky that Pyro Man and I have had a few weeks off together! He's embarking on his own adventure in pursuing a second degree and wouldn't you know, our breaks don't actually align together very often. BUT, summertime is a different story!
With these weeks free we've been spending our time together doing fun things! It's like a light bulb went off in my head: Hey! We don't have to work all the time. We can just do things that bring us some joy. Who'd a thunk it, right? It's been so lovely and I'm soaking in every minute I have with him. I don't think there could have a been a better way to spend my time, really.
So far we've done matinee movies, ice cream trips in the afternoon, walks with the pup, fishing excursions to Lake Arcadia with a stop off at Pop's and of course, our garden work. Last week I had a wild hair to take an adventure day to a place I've been dying to go ever since it opened: Pioneer Woman's Mercantile Store.
Ever since I found her website, thanks to a casual mention from a friend, I've been obsessed. That woman pretty much got me through grad school and I'm not joking. I read her blog religiously, I'm talking every day. When I ate breakfast in the morning, I practically studied her first cookbook and then I tried out her recipes on my friends. In short, I became a fan girl, big time.
I was fascinated with her life, as was half the world, and I loved her wit, humor, and down-to-earth personality. All the colors in her kitchen, all the delicious recipes with butter and flavor, it was everything I wanted to have in my own some day. I'm still fascinated with her today, almost ten years later, and I still love her recipes, products, blogs, pictures and whatnot. So, going to visit the mecca of her world, the Mercantile Store, was bound to happen.
I made a deal with Pyro Man that if he took me to the Pawhuska we could go snagging for spoonbills afterwards and in no time flat, my trip was planned! It's about a two hour drive from the city and it's beautiful right now. We popped in a podcast and coasted out early in the morning to beat the crowds.
First stop, the deli! I know lines can get long and the wait can be bad, but I was hoping a Wednesday in the middle of May might hold in our favor, and it did! We were able to get seated right away and have a nice long lunch in her gorgeous dining area. Here's where I would show you gorgeous photos of her wood cutout flower wall and the coffee bar and even the dining area...but I was too interested in this:
Come on! This is heaven on earth! Pyro Man had the chicken fried steak half order with fancy mac 'n cheese while I had Ladd's Favorite sandwich (it's undergoing a name change) with her classic mac 'n cheese. Deciding between her nachos, the chicken fried sandwich, her lasagna or anything else was tough! We each enjoyed her sweet ice tea in those giant glass jars which Pyro Man thinks we need around the house. I'm all in.
We skipped dessert but checked out her bakery upstairs. The room up there is gorgeous with tables and chairs, sofas and wingback chairs to sit in. There's a beautiful view of the area around town through giant windows and it smells like a heaven, sugar and vanilla and coffee. We each treated ourselves to something, me the new chocolate cupcake with the marshmallow filling and Pyro Man the traditional snickerdoodle. And they were divine!
Downstairs in the actual Mercantile store, there is so much to see! I must have circled the whole room about twelve times before I actually picked up a basket. She carries quite a few of her own items and a ton of different nicknacks for men, women, children, and they're all cute and fun. Her walls are lined with shelving that has all sorts of beautiful plates, dishes, glasses and what have you. She also carries a number of salt & pepper shakers that are really unique. My favorite was the BBQ salt & pepper shaker!
As I'm going back through, I'm wishing I had snapped a few more pictures of what I liked! There's so much and I just kept talking it in, going back through the counters and humming along to classic country tunes. Even Pyro Man found a few things he really enjoyed!
I had some restraint and only walked away with a couple of ceramic strawberry baskets, a Mercantile hat, magnet and a special wrapped gift for Mom. I think she would love this place so another trip is definitely in order! Plus, the tours for the Lodge weren't happening and that's something I'm dying to go check out!
When you drive two hours to someplace, I think it's a shame to just hit one particular highlight and go. We were curious what else was in Pawhuska so we pulled up Trip Advisor to see. We attempted the Swinging Bridge and yes, it does swing. Essentially it's a hanging bring strung across a large creek. When you step out on the planks, you can immediately feel the bounce and sway of the bridge. I feel like I was in an Indian Jones movie and clung to the chainlink fencing on either side. I made it halfway across with sweaty palms and feet, heights are just not my thing, but it was fun to try! Pyro Man made it all the way across and back, even he got a wee bit nervous.
We checked out the local Pawhuska museum which was charming. It's a one story building full of memorabilia, stories, pictures, and information on local town heroes. Pyro Man enjoyed the encased guns and military information while I tend to gravitate towards dishes, stories, and of course, the clothing. Learning a little history of where you are, I think, gives a little more heft to your visit and allows you to appreciate the place you are a bit more. Occasionally there's not time for that, but why wouldn't you find out more about a spot if you have the time?
We had fun tootling around the town and yes, we did go snagging and by "we," I mean Pyro Man. I sat out with him for a bit, getting my vitamin D intake and then went to read in the car for the last twenty minutes. The sun was out and not a stitch of shade anywhere! I have a nice watch tan line now!
If you've been thinking of going to the Mercantile, do it! The food is ridiculously good and if you're a fan of her cookbooks, you already knew that! There's something for everyone, it's fresh, and the prices are just right, not too expensive, totally affordable. There's even a coffee bar if you want to stop in for a treat and a cup of joe! The items in the shop range from kitchen doodads to clothing to soaps to kids toys. There's a lot but it all fits together beautifully! Eclectically chic and totally Pioneer Woman The employees are lovely and helpful with everything, including other sites to see in the area--we're eager to come back and try the newest Pioneer Woman store, her pizza shop!
If you couldn't tell, I had a ball and geeked out the whole time! Plus, I got to spend a day with my man--truly, couldn't get any better!