Now empty nesters, the last several years we’ve spent Valentine’s Day at home and enjoyed cooking a nice meal together. The menu has stayed pretty much the same: a wedge salad, some kind of potato and a juicy Nebraska beef ribeye steak for Steve and a piece of fresh sea bass on the grill for me. And we love splurging on a red velvet lava cake with fresh raspberries for dessert. Here’s what we cooked last year on Valentine’s Day. 

wedge salad

ribeye steak

red velvet lava cake

A change in plans

We enjoy the time together in the kitchen and after traveling much of year, it’s always comforting to be at home. We’d planned to do the same for Valentine’s Day this year at our Nebraska house until I got a text Monday afternoon from none other than The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond herself. I’d had an infusion for a chronic illness I have earlier in the day and was feeling just exhausted, so I laid down for nap.

infusion

About 5 p.m., I was awakened by a little ding on my Apple Watch. I squinted my eyes to see what it was and a text that said, “Hi Ann! This is Ree Drummond.” Still half asleep, I closed my eyes and laid my head back on the pillow. Wait a second. Ree is texting me? I was awake now. Despite all of the time we’ve spent in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, home of Ree and her family, we’ve never actually met The Pioneer Woman, so I was wondering how and why she was texting me.

I opened my eyes, sat up, got Steve, and started reading the text out loud.

On Valentine’s Day, Kurtess and chefs are putting on a “Whole Hog” private dinner, using a hog that was fed a diet of walnuts and olive oil.

At this point, Steve interrupted me and said, “We’re in.”

Ree went on to say that she was handpicking fun folks to attend and thought of me of Steve. We were so honored to be included in such a unique dinner. Because of another commitment, Ree wasn’t sure she’d be able to be there, but nonetheless, we knew this was going to be an incredible event.

Back to Pawhuska

We scrapped postponed our plans for dinner at home in Nebraska and Tuesday morning we packed a suitcase, made a PB&J sandwich for the car, and headed back to Pawhuska, Oklahoma. It actually worked out really well. The inside of our house in Pawhuska was being painted this week and some cracks in the walls repaired. I was anxious to see the progress and make sure it looked the way I’d hoped.

We promised our painter, Gio, we’d stay our of his way, so our friend Addie let us use her Little Rain Song Loft as an office to get some work done. (It’s right down the street from the Merc and super cute. Book Little Rain Song Loft on Airbnb.) This also gave us a chance to see and catch up with friends. It was so nice to be back in town for a few days.

Meal prep

Thursday morning we stopped by The Mercantile and Chef Kurtess Mortensen gave us a sneak peek at the dinner he was preparing for that night. It got us even more exited! He took us into the walk-in fridge to see the prep work he’d done for the pig trotter rillettes, the crispy pork belly, and even explained the sous-vide method he was using to make the roasted crown rack.

Kurtess Mortensen

crispy pork belly

Everything looked just delicious and we couldn’t wait for dinner! That night, we joined the rest of the group of 24 for one of the best dinners we’ve ever had. Not only was the food incredible, we had such a fun time with our friends, John and Cyndi Kane and a few other Oklahoma social media influencers, including Molly and David from This Simply Beautiful Life, Carissa and Mike from CC+Mike Creative, and Rob and Sandi from The Spoiled Home.

Stay tuned to read all about our 7-course whole hog Valentine’s Day dinner at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile … coming soon.

PIN FOR LATER

We were so honored to receive an invitation from The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond herself to the first ever whole hog dinner at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Read all about how we were asked to attend and what made this Valentine's Day dinner so special. #thepioneerwoman #pawhuska #pioneerwomanmercantile
  • We hosted a bridal shower at our house this weekend for Ann’s niece and this fruit and vegetable charcuterie tray was a big hit. We found the large tray at @pier1 and filled it with all kinds of colorful fruits and veggies from @wholefoods. #charcuterieboard #entertaining #bridalshower #fruits #vegetables #charcuterie #charcuteria #postcardjar #home #healthyfood #wholefoods #pier1
  • The Pea Cocktail is made of Hendricks gin, basil soup, Amontillado sherry, lime juice, blanched spring peas, virgin olive oil, and Aquafaba. It's available in the #edenbar aboard the @celebrityedge. One of things we love most about @celebritycruises is the quality cocktails they serve.  #cocktail #gin #travelblogger #postcardjar @cruisecelebrity @cruisecritic #cruising #travelblogs @bethanyatsea @that_traveling_man
  • Baked Alaska is always one of our favorite desserts when it is offered in the suites-only restaurant, Luminae, on Celebrity Cruises' ships. Under all that toasty merengue, you'll find delicious Neapolitan ice cream.
  • Villages in Santorini, Greece, are perched high up on hills overlooking the Aegean Sea. These dwellings, which have been here for centuries, enjoy a commanding view of the beauty that surrounds them.⁣
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 #celebritycruises #cruising #seastheday #celebrityreflection #endlesssummer #cruise #sea #beyondborders #humansatsea #cruiseaddict #cruisecritic #lifeisbetteratsea #lifeisbeautiful #cruiseship #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #travelblogger #travel #santorini #greece #cruiselife
  • The "Fat Elvis" dessert as prepared by Chef Kurtess Mortensen of the Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. This was the seventh and final course of the first ever Whole Hog Dinner at the Merc. ⁣
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#thepioneerwoman #reedrummond #pawhuska #mercantile #pwboardinghouse #oklahoma #ranchlife #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #travelblogger #travel #dessert #breadpudding #myoklahoma #chocolate #travelok #igersok #oklahomalife
  • The Elderflower Blush, made from Bombay Sapphire gin, St. Germain elflower liquour, Sprite, lemon juice, lemon juice, and strawberry. This delicious cocktail was available at the pool bar. #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #travelblogger #travel #celebritycruises #cruising #seastheday #celebrityedge #endlesssummer #cruise #sea #beyondborders #humansatsea #cruiseaddict #cruisecritic #lifeisbetteratsea #lifeisbeautiful #cruiseship #cocktail #poolbar
  • Sometimes, on a road trip, it's good to just stop and appreicate the beauty. Ann saw this tree on the side of the road and was inspired to snap a photo. ⁣
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#postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #travelblogger #travel #midwest #mwtravel #kansas #springtime #tree #roadtrip #wideopenspaces #ontheroad #traveler
  • Fresh flowers in our room at the Pioneer Woman Boarding House in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Flowers like these are just one of the many wonderful touches that make any stay at the Boarding House a special experience to be remembered.

Making the most of midlife.