Once upon a time, in the land of the Internet, there were seven bloggers that were cosmically thrust together through a world called Tasty Kitchen.
And so the Saga of One Kitchen, Many Hearts began. A group of us started to regularly read each other’s blogs, and became fast friends. Over the next few years, the girls and I maintained daily contact via social media, which soon evolved into daily group texts, and the occasional Google video hangout. Let’s not forget the gift exchanges, and Food Theme Weeks! Soon, tiny factions of real-life meet-ups began as some of us traveled to visit others, or planned long layovers in someone else’s home airport. Finally, we decided that an All Hands on Deck meet-up was required. Only labeling our gathering a “meet-up” wasn’t quite right because we already know each other so well that all of us coming together is more of a Reunion.
Although, I’ll be honest and admit that every one of us confessed to wondering how a reunion might effect our friendship. Were we completely nuts to fly across the country to spend a weekend with people that we’ve never really “met”? What if someone that seems so sweet and normal online is really weird in person? Would we still like each other as much after meeting face to face?
The answer all of those questions is a resounding Yes! Yes, we’re a little crazy to fly across the country and commit to a long weekend of togetherness. Yes, we are all a little bit weird, but that’s what brought us together in the first place. Weird is the New Cool. Yes, we still like each other. These ladies are the Real Deal, Friends! Everyone is exactly the way they present themselves on their blogs and social media. I feel so fortunate to have met what I consider to be a strong part of my personal support system.
These are the kind of women that see that another blogger friend has hit a rough patch and instantly calls the rest of us to help. It’s just the kind of people these girls are…they’re just good people that want to bring a little sunshine to others, if even in a small way.
Thankfully, none of us has yet to face a serious crisis in our lives, but I know for sure that when that happens, we’ll hop on a flight to anywhere to lend our support. As Kat so eloquently put it, “I don’t care if the internet goes down tomorrow. You guys are stuck with me. You’re in my life forever.” (Kat was voted the Sage among us for always saying what the rest of us struggle to put into words.) Now that we’ve been back home for a couple of weeks, I’ve had a hard time finding the words to fully express what our weekend together meant, or all of the feelings generated from it.
So, I’m giving up! Instead, I’m going to share some of our trip with you. After all, if it weren’t for YOU ALL coming back each day to read my writing, I doubt that I would still be self-publishing on the interwebs several years later. In a way, YOU have brought these ladies into my life.
Since the girls and I found each other through The Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen recipe sharing site, we knew that food was going to be central to the OKMH Reunion weekend. Jeanne picked me up from the airport, and we headed straight for one of her favorite Taquerias.
So of course we ordered giant burgers. Wait. What?! Jeanne explained that this particular taqueria is known for their burgers and topping bar, so I went with it. The burger was the size of my head and so, so tasty! An excellent start to the weekend.
After lunch we headed back to Jeanne’s for what I thought was going to be a whole lot of chopping and prepping for a TexMex Feast when the other girls arrived. Silly me! As our Resident Super-Planner, Jeanne had done most of the work before snagging me from the airport. She even decorated the house to go with the Tex-Mex Theme, complete with a donkey piñata centerpiece.
The piñata’s name is Kevin.
One rental car agency power outage and a pricey cab ride later, the rest of the girls arrived.
We hugged, feasted, and laughed much. After we didn’t think that we could possibly eat another bite, Jeanne’s husband TCP served up the most glorious caramel filled churros with coconut ice cream and his homemade horchata. Holy wow! He’s not called The Complete Package for nothing, Friends! TCP was behind the scenes feeding us amazing food from scratch all weekend!
After we were good and full, we held our first ever Live OKMH Gift Exchange.
We had so much fun seeing what we had given each other in what was to be our last routine care package exchange. After two years of exchanging gifts every other month, we’ve decided to take a break and send cards or gifts as the spirit moves us.
The following day we were able to procure a ten passenger
bus van so that we could toodle around Texas.
We loved that big monster of a vehicle. We loaded up and headed to Brenham, Texas to meet up with Katie – The Hill Country Cook.
Katie’s good people, too. That girl’s crazy-fun to be around!
Brenham is a cute little town in the Hill Country region of Texas.
The town is riddled with adorable little shops, including a ton of of interesting antique shops. So we shopped…
and shopped! We found many cool blog props and loads of new & vintage jewelry.
The Choose an Ancestor bowl of vintage photographs was perhaps the greatest find. I couldn’t stop giggling over that sign. Why it’s my Great Aunt Martha! I always wondered what happened to her!
Of course after all of the shopping, lunch was definitely in order. Jeanne and I met up with Katie in Brenham last May, where we ate at the aptly named restaurant Must Be Heaven. I’ll tell ya what–there’s truth in advertising with that place!
Not only are the sandwiches and soups wonderful, but their pie selection is heavenly!
Naturally, we refueled with All the Pies!
Afterward, we worked off the sugar buzz with more sightseeing and shopping.
Being a group of bloggers, we also paused for a few social media checks and instagram uploads. After a great day with Katie, we loaded up and headed back to Jeanne’s, where TCP had spent the day smoking brisket and other meats for our dinner.
But not before a quick stop at Buc-ee’s to pick up frozen Dr. Pepper slushies and their famed caramel-corn-esque Beaver Nuggets. You know, because we’d only eaten half a week’s worth of calories at that point.
We came home to another glorious meal prepared by TCP, ooh’d and aah’d at everyone’s purchases, and then promptly slept like stones.
The following day, we took a more leisurely pace, spending a lot of time soaking up the Texas sunshine. For those of us from colder climates, spending a morning absorbing some much needed Vitamin D and wearing short sleeves was an especially lovely treat!
Eventually, we ventured out to buy supplies at the local H.E.B. grocery store. On the way to the store, we happened to notice a taco truck on the side of the road. I’d be lying if I said that our van didn’t abruptly changed lanes in order to get to the tacos. When in Texas, visit as many taquerias as possible–that’s what I always say!
That night we did our best to polish off as many of the feast leftovers as possible. To say that we went to bed each night uncomfortably full would be a gross understatement. Meat Sweats became A Theme.
As did Pie. As our Fried Pie Expert, Jeanne showed us how to fill and fry hand pies for dessert. Because we didn’t want to be in danger of actually burning any calories or anything.
The following day we took a little pilgrimage to see what Jeanne and I have termed The Baby Donkey Farm. In actuality, it’s a pasture where a breeder of miniature donkeys grazes his animals.
They’re just so stinkin’ tiny and cute! It was all I could do not to put a leash on one of them and try to smuggle her on the plane with me to take home. I didn’t do it…but I sure thought about it!
Of course, we brought Kevin to meet his people.
I could go on and on and on about the OKMH Reunion Weekend, and still not share all that it encompassed. I posted quite a bit of the shenanigans on instagram, so feel free to browse my photos if you want to see more.
Suffice it to say that the weekend is best summed up with the 3 F’s: Friends, Fun, and Food. We reveled in all three.
I hope that you’ll take a few minutes to click over to read the other girls’ reports on our Reunion weekend. There are so many stories to tell, and I assure you that they do an excellent job of sharing different facets of hilarity from the weekend.