It’s Christmas eve as I write this. The presents are all wrapped and huddled under the tree. The tree is beautiful this year, a good 9 1/2 footer, a noble fir, all decked out in little white lights and sparkly ornaments. The bright orange and red leaves of the Japanese maples that filled the yard with color just a few weeks ago, when the above photo was taken, have all fallen, so more sun is coming through the windows than usual. There’s still a little activity in the garden. The chard survived the recent frost and the parsley is having a party out there. The orange tree is festive with oranges, and we have plenty of pomegranates from this year’s crop. Gorgeous fat beauties they are. Our menu is set for the big dinner, which for the first time in the history of our family, I am actually in charge of cooking. Dad said, “It’s your turn” and I agreed. Wish me luck! It’s the big joke in the family, the one with the cooking site who usually can only cook one thing at a time, and takes three times longer than normal to cook it because I’m so busy writing notes and taking pictures. Dad’s job this year is to make and bring the pineapple upside down cake, our favorite dessert of them all, and one for which my dad needs absolutely no arm twisting to agree to make.
This year, instead of the usually holiday bustle a week before Christmas, I flew out to Oklahoma to hang out with my sisters in food blogging, Ree Drummond and Jaden Hair at Ree’s ranch outside of Tulsa. Have you ever been to Oklahoma? I’ve got to tell you, it’s gorgeous country. For a slight change of pace, I thought I would share some of the photos of that trip.
Ree, aka The Pioneer Woman of blogging and Food Network fame, and her husband Ladd are ranchers, and this is the scene that greeted us upon arrival. Wild mustangs, and big open sky as far as you can see in all directions.
My boyfriend Guy (that’s pronounced “Gee” with a hard “g”, he’s French) and I, and Jaden and her family stayed up at “The Lodge” a large guest house on a bluff overlooking miles of rangeland.
One afternoon we all got to work with the cowboys. I say “we”, but mostly what “we” did was watch. Jaden sat on her horse and took a conference call (busted!) Jaden’s husband Scott and Guy rode off with the cowboys to round up some calves for branding and inoculations.
And then Guy couldn’t take watching anymore, so he hopped off his horse where we had been safely viewing the activities and jumped in with the cowboys to wrestle calves down to the ground. (He’s the one in the blue shirt wearing sneakers.) It’s hard, physical work. No wonder these cowboys have big appetites!
A highlight of the trip was getting to meet Charlie. He’s the ranch basset hound with “pond breath” and star quality character. (Ree wrote an adorable children’s book about him: Charlie the Ranch Dog.)
Charlie and his cohort basset hound Walter trotted 2 miles up the hill from Ree’s house to visit us at the lodge and promptly slept all day on the couch.
When we weren’t following Charlie’s lead and sleeping in or lounging around in our PJs, we sat around telling stories and silly jokes. Ree kept us well fed with lasagna, her famous burgundy mushrooms, and a lodge well stocked with goodies. (Thank you Ree!) I love my girlfriends.
Now we’re back home, another year coming to a close, with warm memories of good times with friends, of love and hugs.
Merry Christmas to you dear readers, and Happy New Year. May your holidays be bright and in the company of those you love.