A Visit to Pioneer Woman's Restaurant

11.15.2018

RIP, my blog, am I right? Ever since we came back from England, I have not been able to get into a rhythm. I can't seem to get my crap together in basically any area of life. 

You don't even want to know the weird meals we've been eating due to my lack of meal planning. More than once the past two months, Jordan's been like, "um... these things don't really go together..." THERE'S A VEGETABLE AND A PROTEIN JUST EAT IT. Never mind that the vegetable is a bag of microwavable steamed broccoli for the fourth day in a row because my children are both aliens and love broccoli. They eat it all and ask for more. I'm not going to ask any questions.

Anyway.

What I'm here to tell you about is not the fun times of my personal cooking life but about the super fun trip I took this past weekend to the Pioneer Woman restaurant and shop in Pawhuska, Oklahoma! 


November 10 was a Saturday and also my mom's birthday, so we planned a girls' trip with my mom, sister, and two sisters-in-law. I found a cheap Air BnB for the five of us, and we left Saturday morning and came back on Sunday! Pawhuska is about 2.5 hours from Oklahoma City, so it wasn't a very long drive, but the other girls were coming from Texas, so we decided to make a weekend out of it.

My mom and I absolutely love Pioneer Woman. We have all her cookbooks and make things from them regularly. I've been dying to go to her restaurant since it opened just over two years ago, and it did not disappoint! The restaurant is small, so there was a pretty long wait, but we visited some of the little shops in Pawhuska, got some Pioneer Woman souvenirs, and got coffee and sweets at the bakery upstairs while waiting for our table. We ate dinner at the official restaurant and lunch at her pizza place across the street. Then we got pastries and cinnamon rolls for the morning, so it was truly a full PW eating experience.
The shop looked and felt almost exactly how I imagined it would, and the food was delicious. We had such a hard time deciding what to order because we knew everything would be good, and also because we'd cooked many of the dishes ourselves! It was fun to eat something from a restaurant that I have the recipe for and have made myself, but it was also fun to try something I hadn't made before.

I told our waiter it was my mom's birthday, and he brought her a cupcake from the bakery with a candle in it, so we sang happy birthday. It was such a special day, and I'm so thankful we were able to all get together and celebrate her. If you are ever in the area, the Pioneer Woman mercantile is definitely worth a visit!

Travel Log: Cambridge, UK

11.02.2018

We left York after lunch on Wednesday and headed south to Cambridge. We chose Cambridge as our third and final destination before settling in London for the end of our trip because it was in a good location to complete our circle(ish) train ride around northern England and not too far from London, so we wouldn't have a long ride on Thursday. 

We were intrigued by the history there, the famous colleges, and the architecture. What we were not prepared for were all the BIKES. So many bikes. So many. Honestly, never in my life have I been anywhere with so many people riding bikes. Which makes sense now that I think about it, because it's a small college town, so biking is an inexpensive way to get around. But it was crazy how many bikes there were. Every single wall, post, and railing had some kind of sign attached to it stating whether or not you were able to use it as a bike rack. When we crossed the street, we were more scared of a bike running us over than a car. I'm not exaggerating!
After two Air BnB experiences, we booked a hotel in Cambridge. It was unlike any hotel I've stayed at in the US and was basically like an Air BnB because it was self-check-in! A week before our arrival I received an email telling me instructions for how to get to the hotel and the key code to get into the building and into our room. There was a note on the bed when we got there with my name on it that had instructions for the WiFi and the check-out time. 

In the morning, we simply closed the door of our room and left the building, and the code expired at the check-out time (10am). We were able to leave our bags in the main building while we explored on Thursday, and there was a code for that building that expired at 3pm the day of check-out. But no official reception desk or hotel personnel! Crazy!
We basically spent Wednesday evening and Thursday morning exploring Cambridge. I had a list of a few top recommended places to see, and we hit a lot of them. We ate breakfast and had tea at a hipster (according to Jordan, lol) spot that was full of college students on laptops studying smart things. I had rhubarb porridge (pictured above) and it was delicious. Jordan had a sausage roll, since he tried to get those as often as he could while in England.
I can't really say that we so much "did" anything while in Cambridge. School was in session, so most of the campuses were closed to visitors, although we could have paid 20 pounds a person to go inside King's College (we didn't). It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and we walked around outside and saw people punting on the River Cam, which was neat!
Below is the mathematical bridge, which was originally built in 1749. It has been rebuilt twice since but kept the same design.
The two coolest things we did in Cambridge were go the Fitzwilliam Museum and visit the Wren Library. The museum wasn't on our list at all, but we passed it while walking somewhere else and decided to go in. Jordan loves museums and enjoyed seeing all the artifacts and various things they had there. It was a taste of what we would see at the British Museum in London!
I was glad it worked out for us to visit the Wren Library. It is a working university library at Trinity College that opened in 1695. It's only open to the public on weekdays from 12 to 2pm. You can't take any pictures inside, but it's exactly what I would picture a super old library to look like, with high shelves and sliding ladders and tons of very old books. There are some pictures to see if you look it up on Google images. There are 6 glass cases that hold a few treasures of the library, most notably an 8th-century copy of the Epistle of Paul; Isaac Newton's notebook, walking stick, and a lock of his hair (kinda weird, kinda cool); the original manuscript of Winnie the Pooh; and early Shakespeare editions.


All in all, we enjoyed our walk around Cambridge but were excited to head to London for our last few days. We loved Liverpool and York so much that Cambridge paled a bit in comparison for us. Not that it wasn't neat to see, and I'm not sad we went! I hear about Cambridge all the time. People I work with go there for choir performances and sabbaticals, and it's so historic that it is just fun to be able to say I've been there. See our travel video below or click here.

Now for our last stop: London!


Cambridge, UK from Amanda Bumgarner on Vimeo.

Recent Reads

10.30.2018

Another interruption in my travel posts, just to mix it up. Also, honestly, trying to delay getting to the end of those. Jordan and I are greatly enjoying a look back through the pictures and places of our trip to England.

The last Recent Reads post I did was back in July! Here's what I've read since then...
*Sorry this graphic is so blurry, but I did a major shortcut that saved me tons of time so I'm just going with it for now.

**Also I had NO idea I had read so many murder mysteries the past few months! I really do love me a good murder mystery.


4.5 stars // The People in the Photo by Helene Gestern

I picked up this book at the library while I was looking for something else solely based on the cover and title. It's the story of two people who discover that they have a family connection after looking at an old black-and-white photograph. The story is told mainly through letters and emails and explores the truths they uncover about their parents' pasts. 

This is a really lovely book. Very simple with only a few characters. It's sweet but also heartbreaking with a touch of mystery. I enjoyed it!

For fans of: mystery, stories told through letters, memories, romance
Should you read it? Yes

4.5 stars // Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver (Amory Ames #1)
4.25 stars // Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver (Amory Ames #2)

I mentioned this book in my currently post last week. It was recommended by a blog friend, and I have read the first two books in this series now and like them a lot! They are clean, fun murder mysteries set in old England with a likable protagonist who is, I will add, totally reliable! ;) 

My only comment is that the books are wrapped up nicely at the end, which I personally don't mind but some people get annoyed about that. I also struggle a bit with what to think about Amory's husband, Milo. I love them together but find their dynamic a bit frustrating at times. Though I suppose that's the point to add interest to the story.

For fans of: murder, girl power, British society, reliable narrators

Should you read it? Definitely yes!

4 stars // In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Nora hasn't seen her best friend Clare in years, but after she suddenly gets an invitation to Clare's bachelorette party, she decides to go. The small party takes place in a house out in the middle of the woods. Things get crazy. Someone gets murdered. You don't know who or why until the end.

I thought this was a suspenseful plot with a creepy setting, a mystery I couldn't quite figure out until the end, and a book that kept me up reading past my bedtime. Note that there is some cursing and also some drug use and drinking. There is an unreliable narrator, if that is the type of thing that bothers you (I know it really bothers some people), but all the characters are a bit crazy, so there's good reason to think any of them could be the murderer. Admittedly I did think the plot was a bit unrealistic, I still liked it.

For fans of: creepiness, murder, a book full of characters you don't exactly like very much, unreliable narrators

Should you read it? Yes

4 stars // The New Strong-Willed Child by James Dobson

This a parenting book about raising a strong-willed child. I don't have one of those, of course, but ASKING FOR A FRIEND. You understand. Jordan and I read this one together, and we were overall encouraged and came away with some good tips. I'll note that if you don't believe in/aren't a fan of spanking then you might be turned off by the entire chapter he devotes to it.

For fans of: parenting books, self-help, encouragement because oh my gosh kids are crazy

Should you read it? We say yes, but I know all parenting styles are different so you can decide if it's for you!

4 stars // The Chillbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

This historical fiction novel takes place during WWII in 1940 in the small, close-knit village of Chillbury. All the men have been called to war, and thus the choir is shutting down. But then! Scandal! The women are going to form a female-only choir. The story follows a few different narrators in diary entries and letters through their struggles and triumphs in wartime England.

As far as a charming, quick read, I really enjoyed this one. I probably would bump this down a bit in my rating if I were to think too hard about the technical aspects. I found the different points of view and the writing style quite lovely. But there wasn't able to be a whole lot of character development, and the overall simple tone of the book made the sad parts not have as much weight because they felt like they happened too fast, so I didn't care about them as much as I wanted to. There were also a few things that seemed either tied up too well or not explained enough or just glossed over. But it was the perfect quick in-between read for me. Please note a trigger warning: One of the characters has a miscarriage.

For fans of: stories told through letters, romance, girl power, WWII, singing, multiple narrators

Should you read it? I think yes as an in-between, simple read. But don't read it expecting anything super deep. 

3.75 stars // Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Georgie has an important work deadline that makes her miss spending Christmas with her husband and daughter. But she has regrets and wonders if this means the end of her marriage. Then she discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past and try to fix what was broken.

I would have given this a higher rating, but there was a weird chapter about a pug giving birth that threw me off big time. I just don't even know why that was there. It felt so out of place. There was also a side plot with Georgie's sister that I did not feel was necessary from an editorial standpoint. This book has been recommended to me by a ton of people, and overall (minus the two aforementioned plots) I really enjoyed it! There's a magical aspect that was unique and fun, and you just had to go with it even though it's obviously unrealistic.

For fans of: magical phones, true love, Christmas, weird side plots that are confusing

Should you read it? Yes

3.5 stars // Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrick Backman

This book picks up where Beartown left off, even though I think collectively no one who read Beartown felt like there needed to be a sequel. But the author didn't ask my opinion clearly. You don't have to read Beartown first since the author does do a bunch of recap-type things, but I think you probably should read it first.

What to say about this one. WHAT TO SAY. 

I read almost exactly half of this book and then skipped alllll the way to the end and read the last 2 chapters, which is totally unlike me. I loved Beartown and was really excited to read this sequel, but I was totally not in the right mood for it, and I felt like there were blocks of sand tied around my feet while I tried to wade through this book. 

Backman is a great writer and can make you have All The Feelings, but he overdid it on this one. So many. Choppy sentences. Short sections. Every line ends on a cliffhanger, and it's almost never as dramatic as he made it sound, which as a reader is just kind of exhausting. But I wanted to know what happened, so I read the end. And I got emotional reading it, which says something since I skipped the entire second half and had mostly no idea what was going on.

For fans of: Fredrik Backman, FEELINGS, more feelings, teenage angst, chapters that always end on a cliffhanger, dramatic moments

Should you read it? Okay, so I'm saying no, but so many people love it that you might give it a try and see? I mean I just really don't know.

3.75 stars // The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

A historical fiction novel that takes place in both 1947 and 1915. In 1947, Charlie St. Clair is searching for her cousin who was lost and presumed dead during WWII. Her journey causes her to enlist the help of Eve Gardiner, who worked as a spy during WWI. 

I thought this was extremely well written and had some memorable characters. Each chapter alternates between two main characters, and it was well done. The author's note goes into more detail about the story, and a lot of these characters and many scenes are taken from real life, which is what I love about historical fiction. 

I recommend with caveats: there is a good amount of cursing in this book; there are also sex scenes. I did feel that they fit the characters and the plot, and while they weren't too terribly graphic, they also weren't exactly tame, and I think the author could have taken some out and not lost anything. Finally, trigger warning: one of the characters has an abortion. But I will say that from an editorial standpoint I felt it fit the story and characters.

For fans of: historical fiction, girl power, spies, romance, suspense

Should you read it? If you are okay with the caveats previously mentioned, then yes. Otherwise, there are tons of awesome historical fiction books out there so don't feel like you are going to be seriously missing out.

3.25 stars // The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce is the protagonist in Alan Bradley's series of murder mystery novels, set in 1950 Europe.

This is the first in the series, and I originally heard about this from Anne Bogel's podcastI found this book original and overall enjoyable, but for some reason it felt like a slog to get through, just a bit too long in parts, and I kind of skimmed to the end. There are a LOT of similes and metaphors as part of the writing style, which got tedious. But the main character is fun (if slightly unbelievable to be as smart as she is at 11; just go with it). I think I would like to try another in the series and see if I like it better. I think it just needed to be a bit shorter overall.

For fans of: murders, precocious pre-teenagers, playing tricks on your older siblings, intrigue, suspending disbelief

Should you read it? I want to read another in this series to form a solid opinion about whether I like it or not.

3.25 stars // Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

A true story of Katie Davis, an 18-year-old who leaves her middle-class life in America to be a missionary in Uganda. She has adopted children and started a nonprofit organization to send children to school and still lives in Uganda today.

My friend lent me this one. I liked this okay, but didn't I love it just in terms of the style and how it felt a bit jumpy to me. About halfway through I admit I started skimming, but this was convicting and was really interesting to read. The author definitely has a huge heart and loves the Lord and loves his people, which was neat to see. I feel bad not giving this a glowing report, because I am glad I read it. But it got a bit heavy on the emotional aspect and started to feel repetitive after time.

For fans of: mission work, adoption/foster case, being convicted

Should you read it? I did find her story amazing and inspiring, but I didn't love the book itself. So my answer is maybe.
*****

IS ANYONE STILL WITH ME? Sorry for the longest book review post of all time. This is why I shouldn't wait nearly 4 months to do a review post.

But I wanna know... Have you read any of these? What did you think? Are there any on this list you are interested to read now?

Travel Log: York, UK

10.25.2018


On Tuesday we left Liverpool and headed east to York! The train ride was about 2.5 hours with a few stops along the way. If Liverpool was Jordan's destination, York was mine. I discovered during my planning that we were going to be in England the very week of York's annual food festival. I love fair and festivals like that and thought it would be something neat to do and see some of the culture and food of England all in one place. 

When I started looking up more information about York, I was convinced we had to go there. It sounded like such a neat town, and it really was! We are so glad we went and were sad to only have a short time there. We arrived in the afternoon on Tuesday and left Wednesday afternoon.

Our Air BnB was the cutest little place ever on the top floor of a building with a cafe beneath it (above is the view from our window). The location was excellent: walking distance to the festival and main shopping area. York is a historic walled city that was built in 71 AD by the Romans. HELLO OLD STUFF. You can actually walk along the top of the wall that surrounds the city, and that was pretty cool.

We also stumbled upon the street that is supposedly (so they say) the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies. Friends of ours had recently been to the UK and visited York. They told us about the street but didn't know where it was, since they just happened upon it while walking. Jordan and I were trying to figure out where it was and how to get there, but we couldn't pull up an actual location on Google or anything. Finally we just decided that the street we were on seemed like it enough, and if we couldn't find the actual street, we could imagine it pretty well.

All of the sudden we saw a huge crowd of people all pointing and taking pictures outside of this one store. We looked up at the sign, and it said The Shop that Must Not Be Named. We turned around, and there were 2 more Harry Potty-esque stores right there! We'd found the street and didn't even know it. The York Shambles are unlike anything I've seen in real life. Narrow, cobblestone streets with high buildings surrounding. 

We spent our time in York getting treats at the food festival, walking the wall, and wandering around the streets. It was a super neat place and glad we were able to go! The street performers there were unreal (there were kind of a lot!), and I included a clip of one group in my travel video. There was also a lady singing who seriously sounded like she needed to be in an opera house somewhere and not just singing on the streets.

Probably of all the places we went and things we saw in England, York stands out in my mind. It was so unlike anything I've experienced before and so.... I guess, just so European is the only thing I can think of how to describe it. The weather was gorgeous, the food was so yummy, and the sights were really unique. It was a friendly, beautiful old town that we really enjoyed.

We ate most of our meals at the food festival, and we got pastries and sausage rolls and tea for breakfast at a place called The Cornish Bakery (pictured above). Observation from our time in England: their sausage rolls are legit, and the US needs to get its act together. Also, MEAT PIES. I mean, I know we have chicken pot pie and shepherd's pie, but we can step it up in th meat pie department, I think. Also x2, fun fact: in most places we went to in England, food is cheaper if you take it to go! They charge a tad bit more if you "sit in" verses "take away."

We had to checkout of our Air BnB Wednesday morning at 10am, but we kept our backpacks in a locker in the building while we explored more, which was nice. Ability to store our bags was something I looked for when I was looking at places to stay. We ate lunch at the food festival and then caught a 2:00 train to Cambridge! 


Currently October

10.21.2018


I see my future with teenagers. HOLD ME.

I'll interrupt my travel posts to bring you a currently post! Here's what I'm up to these days...

eating: Hello Fresh deliveries. This is our third time to get a Hello Fresh box in the mail. I love the concept, don't love the price. For us, it's not budget friendly or cost effective, and I can't justify getting it every week. That said, I got a $25 off coupon and decided to get a box with it. It's for "new customers" only, so I sign up under a different email address and get it delivered to a different address! Don't judge me. With the discount, it feels like only a minor splurge. The two meals we got this week have by far been the best we've had. They were actually as easy to make as they claimed to be and were freaking delicious, and I feel like for once the Instagram ad is true to life. Sadly, we will not be continuing our subscription, but it was fun while it lasted. Until next time...

p.s. You can use this code to get $40 off if you want to try! (Or try again lol)

reading: The first Amory Ames mystery, recommended by Audrey on a recent book roundup. I've been in a reading funk for a month or so, and this book was a super fun, quick read I finished in just a few days. Definitely recommend for those who love mysteries but don't love all the gore/sex/language/creep factor that can sometimes go along with them.
He's 16 months old now! Just keep holding me, thank you.

ordering: A dress from this shop for R for Christmas. Yes, I said Christmas. She is really into dressing up right now, and when I pick her up at daycare she is always wearing some kind of outfit or princess dress. On Friday she was at a kiddie table with 3 other kids. They had food spread out in front of each of them, and R was standing wearing some kind of coat. When she saw me, she said, "Mama, we are having a picnic and I'm the food cooker." It was super cute. 

Anyway, someone in a FB group I'm in recommend these dresses, and it's a bit of a splurge, but I really think R will get a ton of use out of it and just absolutely love it, so I picked out one for Christmas. You can use the code GRmPpy3prS to get a discount. This is not sponsored at all, but I do think if you use that code I get points or something. I honestly don't know how it works, but I figured I'd pass it along.

wishing: Well it's probably no surprise that I wish I were back in England. I honestly didn't think we'd end up going. I bought travel insurance on our flight tickets and most of our hotels because I was sure something would come up with the world events or our kids or something and it wouldn't happen. But it did, and it was awesome. So thankful we were able to go. If you've missed the last couple of posts, I recapped our time in Boston and our time in Liverpool, and I have travel videos for both also if that's your kind of thing.
I drew the sun and the "hi" (yes, I am an amazing artist, thank you for saying that), and then when I wasn't looking R "colored in the white parts." JUST KEEP HOLDING ME AND NEVER LET GO. I'm fine.

wearing: this sweater, which I shared about in my Europe packing list post. I wore it this weekend when we took family photos, and my friend who was taking our pictures showed up wearing the exact same sweater in a different color. She said she bought it after seeing me post about it, and it made me want to buy three more because it looked super cute on her. It's still on sale, though sadly not as much of a deal as it was when I first posted the link a few weeks ago. I'm regretting not buying another one then! I think I'll stalk it now and see if it goes down again.

Well I think that's it for now. It's been a few weeks since we've been back from our trip, but I still feel like I'm adjusting. Work has been crazy busy lately, and I'm already feeling like I want a break again. What even is life. 

I hope you had a good weekend! It finally stopped raining and felt like fall here in OK for .087 seconds and I loved it so much.
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