(Please note: This story has been posted with Melanie’s blessing. As many of you know, Melanie was involved in an accident earlier this week and is currently in the hospital. To learn more about what happened, head over to her blog to read, “So this one time, Melanie got hit by a car.” Please keep Melanie in your thoughts and prayers as she begins to recover.)
What happens when a coupon goddess meets a pioneer woman? Just ask Melanie Feehan.
This shopping-savvy mother of four has been sharing her money-saving exploits as “The Coupon Goddess” for more than two and a half years now, which makes Melanie a Boston blogging “veteran.” She’s popular too. “The Coupon Goddess” receives more than 75 thousand page views per month, and her newest blog, “Melanie in the Middle,” is rapidly gaining a following as well. But recently, Melanie scored the opportunity to meet a blogger who (currently) is even more well known than she is: “The Pioneer Woman,” Ree Drummond.
The Pioneer Woman is somewhat of a blogging icon. Also a mother of four, Ree lives on a cattle ranch in the middle of Oklahoma and writes about life on the range, shares original ranch recipes, and throws in great photography, design, and homeschooling tips on the side. Oh, and she just published a children’s book. (So…she probably could have called herself Wonder Woman, except that name was already taken.) I must admit that I never paid much attention to “The Pioneer Woman” until I interviewed Melanie for this story. That’s when I scoped it out. It is pretty awesome. Now I understand why readers love it much.
Apparently Ree is so widely beloved that BlogHer and Bush’s Beans teamed up with her to offer a nationwide recipe contest. They wanted outstanding original entree recipes to pair with Bush’s Grilling Beans. The four winners would get to fly to The Pioneer Woman’s ranch to spend the weekend with her. And out of thousands of entries, guess who won. Boston’s own Coupon Goddess.
Melanie’s winning recipe, Grilled Coconut Milk Shrimp with Honey Lime Glaze,” was no fluke. Melanie says that she carefully considered the odds and set out to win when she entered the contest. “I sat down and I really did try. I researched what I was going to make & what ingredients would be the best together,” she says. “It’s actually a science how to put together a winning recipe. You have to know what’s hot and what people are looking for. I knew that lime is really hot right now, and any type of sweet and salty-savory is popular, so I knew that honey would be good along with cayenne. I just built it to a point where it was a winner, presented it, crossed my fingers – and viola!”
Thrilling as it was to have her recipe selected as one of the best, Melanie says she was even more excited to meet Ree Drummond in person. In her own account of the trip, Melanie writes, “I’ve been following The Pioneer Woman for a very long time…Without realizing it, she has mentored me as a blogger and is directly responsible for my improved photography skills.” One might think that getting the chance to actually meet a mentor might unravel idealized opinions of them…but Melanie says this was certainly not the case with The Pioneer Woman. “Honestly, she is exactly who she says she is,” she vouches. “She is a wildly talented woman who also happens to be business savvy. She’s a gracious hostess. She’s fun. And she’s extraordinarily quick witted. She is, no kidding, a brilliant woman.”
During her time in Oklahoma, Melanie was able to eat some of Ree’s famous recipes, cooked by The Pioneer Woman herself. (“Every single recipe of hers that I’ve tried has been no fail,” Melanie says.) The Coupon Goddess was also filmed making her own winning recipe for a future Bush’s Beans video. She got to have a make-up artist. And wear a cowboy hat. I’m sure everyone in Boston is most jealous about the cowboy hat.
Melanie says the experience of staying at The Pioneer Woman’s lodge was slightly surreal because she has seen it so many times in photos on the blog. “I remember when she was renovating her lodge a long time ago. I followed it and thought it was really fascinating because I love design,” recalls Melanie. “So when I was there, I felt like I was going onto a movie set. It was really neat to be experiencing an environment that I read about.”
This just may be Melanie’s best deal yet – a free trip, fabulous free food, and the chance to actually get to know a blogging mentor. In her home. The moral of the story? “To encourage you to put yourself out there with your talents because you never know what will happen,” Melanie says.
If you’d like to read Melanie’s account of the trip, see more pictures, and get the ingredients to the winning recipe, head over to her post on “The Coupon Goddess.”