This Thanksgiving, I...

Took pictures of Ellie...

New love for an old bed

and her Uncle Starbuck...

Uncle Starbuck

Ate a lot of food at Aunt T's house...

Thanksgiving Menu

Fell in love with a spaniel named Jersey...

I'm in love with a dog named Jersey

Admired Aunt T's centerpiece...

Aunt T's Centerpiece

Ogled a delicious man...

Delicious Man

Listened to Brousin (that's brother/cousin) Tyler and Kyle chat about Cardinals baseball...

Buddy cousins

Ate Momma's good cookin'...

Cookin' with Momma

And, in general, had a wonderful time with family and friends. Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!


Mama Bass

This is my mother in law, Mama Bass (not to be confused with Mama Cass). She knew I was snapping her picture, and wouldn't hold still for a good one. She's feisty like that. She makes her own kind of music.

Mama Bass

This is Mama Bass's table. It's one of those new-fangled, "bar height" tables. I want to put my sweaty drink glass on it so it will leave a ring and she won't like it anymore and then give it to me. I don't think that will happen anytime soon. A. Mama Bass loves that table. B. Mama Bass would never let me put a drink down without a coaster.


These are Mama Bass's beautiful red dishes. She uses them every day. They're very versatile.

Red Dishes

This is Mama Bass's "Chicken and Dressing Casserole." Let's all pause for a moment of silence... The very mention of this exquisite dish is enough to make me salivate. I've tried to make it just like her, but it just isn't the same.

Mmm.. Casserole

I guess I'll just have to keep going back to her house and sitting at her new-fangled "bar height" table and using her red dishes and eating her casserole. I hope she doesn't mind.

I have to go wipe the drool off my face now.


What day is this?

When one thinks about living in the Midwest, the concept, "diversity," doesn't typically come to mind. If, however, you could have seen the live feed on my facebook page this morning, you might have disagreed. Of course, there was the typical "I hate my life because I'm a student" whining, the "Look at my awesome drunken pics from last night" silliness, and the weekly "TGIF- gimme a beer" anticipation.

Added to this mixture this morning was a sweet, savory blend of "Sittin' in a deer stand/1st shotgun season/Be vewy vewy quiet..." and "OMGGGGG Newwww Moooonnnnn!!! :)))"

These come from, typically, two very different crowds. I love 'em both.

Should make for an interesting weekend as more people get the see New Moon and post their reaction, and more people upload smiling pictures of themselves holding a dead deer. Happy 1st shotgun season/New Moon day to all!


St. Louis and Meeting The Pioneer Woman

My alarm sounded at 5:15am, but I was already awake. It was like Christmas morning, except that even Santa doesn't excite me that much. We hit the road around 7:30am and it rained all the way to the city.

We started at Saint Louis University, where Kyle and I met with people from the law school and the speech language pathology programs, respectively. Oh, my word was it fun! I found out some really unique opportunities I would have at SLU that aren't available at some other schools.

We then joined Aunt T, Uncle D, and Cousin Steph at the beautiful Four Seasons hotel where they were staying and had lunch. What a gorgeous place it was! It may have been the swankiest hotel I've ever seen.

After lunch everyone wanted to do a little shopping (I had a small chunk of change in gift cards to spend at Anthropologie) so we parted ways. Anthropologie brought their A-game. The store was decked for the holidays, but in a very subtle, Anthro way. Everything was beautiful. For the first time, I actually allowed myself to look seriously at their clothes. Never before had I done this for one simple reason: clothes from Anthro ain't cheap! Since I wasn't technically spending my own money, I went for it, and oh, what fun it was! I tried on many lovely things and had a difficult time choosing what I wanted. I walked away with two beautiful shirts that I hope to use and wear for a long time. I exclaimed to Kyle, "I feel so special!"

We headed back downtown to Christ Church Cathedral where Ree was speaking at 7pm. We got there three hours early.

Christ Church Cathedral

We had second row seats, so it was worth it! We took pictures of everything while we waited.

Christ Church Cathedral

Waiting to meet Ree!

Waiting to meet Ree!

Then Marlboro Man (aka Ladd, her husband) and her two youngest punks, Bryce and Todd, came storming in the room. They were as cute and wild as I imagined.

Marlboro Man

Right before it was time for her to speak, Cousin Steph went to the ladies room and on her way out ran into P-Dub! Oh, I was so jealous. Lucky.

But before long, Ree was standing in front of me. I mean, right in front of me. She was beautiful and tall and thin. Ignore all her "chubby" jokes. They're lies.

The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond

The evening began with question and answer, so I said, "Hi, Ree. Will you pretty please do your Ethel Merman for us?" People cheered. She blushed. Then she did it.

The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond

Then her boys tugged at her jacket, her hair, her microphone, and climbed the podium. It was awesome. They clearly adore her.

The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond

Then, quite sadly, the Q&A was over and it was time to get my book signed.

Waiting to meet Ree!

We stepped up, made some sweet small-talk, posed for a picture (taken by my sweet, ever-patient, ultimate trooper hubs) and I felt complete.

Us with P-Dub!

Marlboro Man gave us free t-shirts and sent us packing.

Pioneer Woman T-shirt

We said our goodbyes and started our drive home. Then we stopped at Chili's for dinner (not-so-exciting, but we had a gift card). Chili's is the place to do business, as in, the business of fawning over your husband and thanking him for joining you on this day that was, more or less, all about you.


As we were pulling in the driveway at home, Cousin Steph called and said, "You'll never believe who we just saw in the hotel gift shop!" It was Marlboro Man and the punks. They were staying at the Four Seasons. Lucky.

It was, without a doubt, one of the most fun days I've had in a long time!


Cooking with Chelsea and Ree

Tomorrow I meet Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, and one of my heroes. What is it about her that everyone loves so much? She's the blogging it-girl. Is it her charm, authenticity, humor, talent? It's all of that and more.

If you've been reading my blog, or following me on Twitter or Facebook for any amount of time you've probably heard me singing her praises (listen carefully and you'll probably hear my husband singing along in the background). She inspires me to cook and enjoy cooking, to stop and look at the beauty around me by snapping a photo, and to keep plugging away at this little blog I love, never knowing what it might mean to someone else.

So, inspired by Julie & Julia, a love for Ree, and little encouragement from my beautiful cousin Stephanie (who's going to meet Ree with me tomorrow!), I'm going to start a little project. There are 61 recipes in The Pioneer Woman Cooks. In the next year, I am going to cook through all of them. I mean, if Julie Powell can make it through Julia Child's 524 French recipes in one year, I can make it through 61 country recipes, right?

Wait. Don't go anywhere.

You might be saying, "Chelsea, we've seen you start these 'projects' before, and you NEVER carry them through (i.e. Old Music Tuesday, all those multi-part series posts you began and never finished)."

Yep, you're right. I have very little stick-to-it-iveness. I blame it on television. And my mother for letting me quit summer softball in the 4th grade. Television and my mother. Thanks, Ma! (Just kidding, Ma!)

With all the seriousness I can muster, I'm excited to see where this goes. I have no expectations, except the hope that I might come out a better cook on the other side, and maybe I'll finally get Kyle to put on a few pounds. We need some balance in our relationship.

Oh, and Ree, if you ever read this, thanks for everything.



There's this family...

I love them.


They love me, too.

Cool Babies

They let me take their pictures.

Picture of the Day

They know I love to take pictures.

Big Sissy

They know I want to get better at taking pictures.

Steer the Train

They are all beautiful.

I'm mean, they're ridiculously good-looking.

I love them.

Did I say that already?


It runs in the family.

The women in my family are notoriously good cooks. Both my grandmothers, my mom, my aunts, my cousins. I have big shoes to fill. I love to cook. I love good food (a little too much). I love the accolades that come my way when cooking something good for my family and friends. I love the subtle nurture that is inevitably tied to filling the bellies of the ones you love. It's a simple pleasure.

This summer I got to cook pies with my Grandma Johnson on the farm.


I love being on the farm.


It's warm and old and a little quirky.


Everyone knows Grandma Johnson (Grandma 'Nene to her grandchildren) makes the best pies. It was really nice to learn from her, but it was even nicer just to spend time with her.


I got to hear her tell stories about her childhood. She told me about the early years when she and my grandpa were married. She went with him while he served in the military. She stood by him through his dreams of owning a farm.


Nearly 6 decades, 5 children, 10 grandchildren, and 11 (and counting) great-grandchildren later, she is still standing by him.


We talked while we cooked. We learned about each others lives while we cooked. It was a beautiful thing. The pie was beautiful, too.


Get Ready.

Get set.


You're about to see a lot of pictures of a tree.


It's Kyle favorite tree.


Not merely his favorite kind of tree, but his favorite tree on the planet.


Everyone should have a favorite tree. I do.


It's a Ginkgo.


It drops all its leaves in one day.


It was spectacular this weekend.


I took far too many pictures of this tree.


But it was such an obliging subject.