My mom out does herself each year with the costumes for our Chinese New Year celebrations. The traditional celebration includes a lion dance. We missed that memo the first year and ever since we do a “Year of the ______ Dance.” My mom and kids make the mask each year. This is the Year of the Rooster. My eldest daughter decided it needed to be a ‘fiery rooster,’ so she added red feathers. We’ve had a few fox and coyotes attacks in our chicken coop….lets just say when she added the red feathers ‘fiery rooster’ was not what first came to mind!

I did not take many pictures this year. We served Hot Pot and I was in the mix of everything and completely forgot to even bring my camera in the room. I snapped a few before with my phone and a couple during the dinner, but not much.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Processed with VSCO with a6 presetIn the course of one day my friend Ruth gave me a new plate and my mom brought over a rooster mask. They work well together, don’t you think?!1.17CNY-1It is hard to believe our first Chinese New Year celebration was 5 years ago. We were a family of 6 waiting to find out who the youngest Campbell would be. It was also the year my second-born decided to karate chop the dancing lion at the restaurant we were celebrating at. Good times.


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Traveling and visiting new places in on the top of my list of favorite things to do. I’d jump on a plane to just about any place in the world if given the chance. Crossing oceans and even state lines is not always possible, so I take advantage of exploring my home state too! My friend Ruth (of Gracelaced) was visiting from New Mexico and we decided to make a spur of the moment trip to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to visit The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

The Merc opened at the end of October. Though I wanted to visit sooner, Facebook posts from friends with pictures of long lines and 2 hour waits to eat caused me to hold off a bit.

The Merc is bringing new life to the little town of Pawhuska. The building was built in 1903 and has been the home to a mercantile company, a realty company, a telephone company and even one of the nation’s largest department stores. Over the last few years it was renovated and restored by Ladd & Ree Drummond.

Ruth and I spent a couple hours wandering the store, chatting in the bakery and, of course, grabbing lunch. We also snagged a photo with Marlboro Man.

The second story of The Merc is the bakery…and candy bar. You can also walk around a corner and watch all the baked goods being made. The area is really spacious and inviting. I took advantage of a pre-lunch cookie and latte.
For those not familiar with The Pioneer Womanwriting that seems funny to me, she is like Oklahoma royalty – her husband is known on her blog, books and show as “Marlboro Man.” I was not expecting to see him. It was lunch time and he was strolling around the restaurant, grabbed a seat right in the middle and sat down for lunch. Ruth and I agreed there was something so humble and charming about him. Watching him with customers and employees was one of the highlights of our visit.

Things to consider if you are planning a visit to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile:

  • Pawhuska is about an hour from Tulsa, 30 minutes from Bartlesville, and 2 hours from Wichita. Those are the 3 largest towns/cities nearby.
  • The busiest hours are 11am-2pm. We arrived right around 11am on a Wednesday and there was about an hour wait to eat in the restaurant. We walked around the shop, enjoyed the bakery and then got back in a much shorter line to eat lunch.
  • If you are going during the busy hours on a cold day, pack a jacket in case you have to wait in line. I did not do this. An incredibly sweet woman working the outside line brought me a pair of gloves – I think they were hers!
  • They serve tea and lemonade. Go for an Arnold Palmer, you won’t be disappointed.
  • I would recommend planning a few hours – take your time around the store, sit in the bakery, enjoy a meal.
  • All the employees (that I met) were warm and gracious – great examples of Okie hospitality.
  • Go with a friend – everything is better with a friend.
  • The drive to Pawhuska is beautiful in the spring, summer and fall. Don’t race to get there, take advantage of less traveled roads and a slower pace.


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  • Amy M - I would love to do that trip someday! I love Pioneer Woman and y’all had an extra special visit seeing MM! Glad to hear he was as humble and unassuming in person as they seem on the show.

  • Alice H - I love PW and MM! I am a tiny bit obsessed with her. When I went I got to take a pic with Ladd also. And I met her daughter Paige. She was working upstairs. The food was delicious and I loved the store. I cannot wait to go back. And I really want to see Ree when I do. Glad you and your friend had a good time.

  • Tammy - I’ve been trying to come up with an excuse to make the 8-ish hour drive…is there anything for husbands to do nearby also, to make a weekend out of?

    I also need to see how close it is to Independence KS, so I can check out the Laura Ingalls Wilder site maybe.

  • Christine - How fun!! Glad to see how far she’s come. i started following her blog right before she really took off. A bit jealous I must add. Looks like a beautiful place. Have a great day!

  • Joanna - While researching sites for my husband and I to take a cross-country bucket list road trip I came up with the idea of visiting the Merc (me being an avid PW fan) on our way back to Arizona. I so enjoyed reading your post on your visit to the Merc and so many other places you’ve traveled to. We plan to visit eight or so of the National Parks in UT, CA, MT and WY as Far East as Niagara Falls before heading home. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures, info, and tips!

There were 4 extra boys in our living room, bringing the total to 7 boys, 2 girls and me. Our living room isn’t exactly spacious. I was sitting on the couch deleting pictures off my camera and kept thinking, “It is SO LOUD in here!” Seriously, so loud. 7 boys can make an incredible amount of noise (and smells). I was not exactly soaking it in. I was probably dreaming of a beach somewhere. A quiet, serene beach.

Then I looked over at her.ChoosingtoSee-01

Totally soaking it all in with a slight smile.

When I slow down enough, I realize there is so much I have to learn from my kids. This girl has a captivating way of noticing the beauty in just about everything. Her eyes are always wide open in wonder to the world around her, even when that world is the tornado of 7 stinky, loud boys in a small space.

Today I’m going to try to be more like her.

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  • Kate - I get so easily stressed by the loudness & the noise of two littles tearing around the house… today I woke up determined to stay more focused throughout my day, & to make time to enjoy small moments. THIS POST. ?? I want to be more like her too. ?

  • Anne Eicher - I love it! (I always love your blog posts!) I have 4 boys (no girls ?) so I know all about how loud & stinky (and sweet & fun) they can be! ?

  • Tammy - I think she really adores her brothers, too!

  • Romy MacGibbon - Oh Ash, this one brought tears to my eyes. I used to be the only girl in my noisy home, my brothers were (and still are!) SOOOO loud, so messy, so smelly. I am their opposite, nevertheless I loved everything they did. I was just different, and even one of those boys is my twin brother, and even today my mum always says she can’t believe we are twins. Our freckles is the only thing we might have in common! 🙂

  • Angie - The world needs more Firecrackers in it! 🙂

  • Emily Bartnikowski - I love this so much. Thank you!

  • Byron - You know a woman wrote this! “7 stinky boys”–there were 3 girls there too, ya know! LoL! 😉

  • nakcus - Stunning photo! And I want to be more like her too!