How to make yourself more likable

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I am back with the farmer.

This probably is not surprising to you, because admittedly, it is absurd to be engaged one day and not engaged the next day. But there are exacerbating factors, and basically, the way I got him back was to be more likable.

I have spent most of my career overcoming my lack of social skills by studying research about what makes people likable. And I think the research I’ve applied so systematically in my career is finally helping me in my personal life.

Here’s what we know about being likable:

1. Don’t give ultimatums. It’s disrespectful. Instead, be a negotiator.
The farmer does not want to be in this blog. As you might imagine, we have this discussion a lot.

First it was like this:

Him: I don’t want to be in the blog.

Me: You have to be. I can’t live without writing my life.

Then the conversation was like this:

Him: I don’t want to be in the blog.

Me: How about if you can edit whatever you want?

2. Try to think about situations from the other persons’ perspective.
That worked for a while. But the problem is that I’ve been setting boundaries about what I write about for my whole life. He’s only been doing it for a year. And after the Thanksgiving Day post he felt like he did not do a good job. In hindsight, he thinks he should not have let me write about that.

But here’s the farmer’s dilemma: He is fascinated with the idea of living an honest life. And he loves watching me do it, but he’s horrified to realize that there are a million versions of every story, and the person with the big blog audience gets extra weight for her story.

3. Don’t hide what really motivates you; secretive people are not likable.
So I am back with the farmer, but we have new rules about what I can write. Well, I think we do. We were going to. But then we had to think about the ramifications. If I don’t write about the tension on a farm, then who is writing about that?

Do you read The Pioneer Woman? I love her blog. I love her blog so much that I told my designer he should make me her blog.

He said, “You don’t want her blog. It’s huge. It probably takes five full-time people to run that blog.”

I said, “No. I do want her blog.”

He said, “I think you want her life.”

The Pioneer Woman does have a great life. Every guy in the photos on that blog is on a horse or about to get on a horse, and all the men are hot. Their rear ends poke out of chaps. Everywhere. And their tough, gritty faces suggest they’d ravish me in bed.

Sure I want that blog, and that life.

I also love how that The Pioneer Woman never, never never disrespects her guy. The Marlboro Man. That’s his name. He’s always studly, sexy, kind, fun.

The farmer is that, too, but there are issues. He’s not studly when we’re having a fight. The problem is that I’m drawn to writing about the fights, and the Pioneer Woman is drawn to writing about pies, and feeding the Marlboro Man.

I am a great cook. But this is not the sort of thing that would go over well on this blog. I’m the kind of cook that understands principles of food so I don’t ever use a recipe. But I’m not drawn to tell you how to make pot roast perfectly as a precursor to cowboy sex. I’m more drawn to tell you that I experimented with fruit in stew and accidentally used bad wine, and to fix it I laced it with brown sugar. And it’s not just that the farmer wouldn’t eat it, but neither would the farm cats, who will eat almost anything in winter.

I want to put a recipe of that. The worst stew ever. With grass-finished beef, of course. Because the farmer gets a full cow butchered and then stores it in his freezer. And before he knew me he used to turn everything into microwaved hamburger, but now he brings me gifts of frozen cuts of grass-finished beef that I defrost over days and turn into dinners to wow him.

The secret, really, to amazing cooking with beef is to spend a lot of money on ingredients and then do almost nothing to them. The farmer did not know this until he was with a city girl who will spend $5.00 on a bag of spinach.

4. Try to look at the positive side of things; people like optimists.
I digress. Sort of. Not really, though. Because what I’m telling you is that what would be perfect is if I could be the Pioneer Woman and only tell you good things about me and the farmer.

But what about that she’s living on a family-owned ranch that is a business, and surely, she had to sign a prenup? Surely her in-laws are nuts over the possibility that their son gets run over by a stampede and she inherits his part of the ranch and marries a different guy with a tight ass in flowing chaps and gives her share of the ranch to him?

What about that? Was there discussion?

Is there discussion over that she has so much traffic on her blog that surely she earns more money than the Marlboro Man? This is not easy stuff to deal with. But there is nothing about that.

Unfortunately, for me, the world loves reading the Pioneer Woman. And so do I. She’s upbeat and her site is gorgeous, and no kidding: the minute the farmer broke off my engagement I started thinking there’s gotta be a guy on her ranch who’s right for me.

But I am drawn to write about only the hard things. I don’t need help from a blog community to know that I’m great in the kitchen. I need help from a blog community to figure out my anger management problems . Because I need to fix that fast: The farmer won’t put up with me yelling anymore.

So I guess that’s what I’ll blog about. I have an anger problem with the farmer, and, honestly, everyone at work is sick of my anger issues, too. So I have a problem. It’s so much more interesting than the cupcakes that I decorate so well that my friend said she could sell them in SoHo.

5. Understand peoples’ boundaries and respect them.
This would be a great place for a picture. Of a cupcake. But what I’d like is a picture of me, and the farmer.

He won’t do that. He is figuring out boundaries. And that’s definitely one.

Another is yelling.

And another is his family.

I am figuring out boundaries, too. I would be insane to say that my blog is more important than he is. But, in some ways, it is. My blog is what makes me able to support myself–I can support myself, somehow, as long as I’m posting to my blog. And my blog is what makes me able to not feel isolated on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I’m always connected to people if I’m blogging.

But I told him that I’d stop blogging about him if he wants me to.

I could offer that only because I knew he wouldn’t want me to. He likes it. He likes that we would have had to keep a secret, forever, that we considered an abortion, but now we can talk about it openly and he can tell people what he thinks. He’s from a farm in the back, dead end street of a road in the middle of nowhere. No one ever asked him what he thought of abortion before. It’s interesting to him. To have a real discussion.

It makes him uncomfortable. But the thing is that the stuff that is most interesting to me is what makes me uncomfortable.

So we agree that we are back to where we were: Me blogging and him getting final edit to any post with him in it.

And I say, “Thank you so much. You make me feel really loved.”

He says, “Tell that to your readers so they know that. ”

And I say, “They already do.”

285 replies
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  1. Mark F.
    Mark F. says:

    I liked your 5 points so much I am using them to kick off my 1st staff mtg of the year…thanks for your insight!!!

    • Kay Lorraine
      Kay Lorraine says:

      I like your 5 points, too. I hope that your future inlaws could learn to live by them, too. Because the farmer was not the only problem in that relationship. But I’m happy that you’re happy and I sincerely hope that you stay happy.

      I’m going to try to start living by the 5 points, beginning this very day. Good words!

  2. Jen
    Jen says:

    That is so sweet. Best of luck working things out. And I, too, want to be Pioneer Woman…at least you have a farmer and a farm…

    • LaneEllen
      LaneEllen says:

      I like to think that “your farm” is where you nourish and grow things: it doesn’t have to be animals or tomatos. It just has to be something you love, something that feeds your dreams.

      And you are the farmer.

      Your partner helps you farm your farm, while you help him/her farm his.

      Penelope’s farm is her blog and her startups. Her startups are the animals on her farm, but her blog is the life-giving land. She could no more leave her farm than her farmer could leave his.

      • Karen
        Karen says:

        LOVE this comment! Both Penelope and this reply have given me so much to think about. Thanks for posting!

      • Nilu
        Nilu says:

        WOW!!!!!!!!!That is some comment.I just loved the way you moulded the full 5 points and thanks to Penelope for being a guide to me towards my success.

    • le
      le says:

      I think there is a part in most women which would like to be the PW .. but diversity rules and we love you too Ms P – so happy for you le

  3. Sketch Country
    Sketch Country says:

    “The secret, really, to amazing cooking with beef is to spend a lot of money on ingredients and then do almost nothing to them.”

    Dare I say it, but the secret to really amazing *cooking* (as opposed to really amazing buying) of beef is cheap cuts and careful preparation. Steak can’t touch a well made stew for flavour (and economy as a bonus), but then the pursuit of the skills to make a really good stew is a lifelong struggle easily on a par with a Zen monk’s search for enlightenment.

    Of course, if you still crave status symbols and want to know the secret of cooking ultra-rare steak, here it is:

    Take one fillet steak. Explain to it the basic laws of thermodynamics. Consume.

  4. Mneiae
    Mneiae says:

    Bless you for introducing me to Pioneer Woman’s blog. I am a happy girl.

    That aside, I love this post and I like the fact that you’re back with the farmer.

    However, I was confused about 3 and secrets. I’m not even sure where that was going.

  5. Kathleen Jaffe
    Kathleen Jaffe says:

    Awww, P. I was reading along, smiling and nodding in agreement, until I got to this:

    But I told him that I'd stop blogging about him if he wants me to. I could offer that only because I knew he wouldn't want me to.

    Really? That smacks of manipulation, and you’re better than that. What if he’d said that’s what he wants? Would you really have stopped? That sort of thing is a dangerous game, and it’s beneath you.

    Congratulations on getting back together.

  6. MZA
    MZA says:

    Is there a principles of cooking class where I can send my fiancee? He would love it. I am queen of the receipe, which is why I would even inquire about a principles of cooking class.

    Best to you and the farmer, Penelope.

  7. Anna
    Anna says:

    So, are you saying that the only problem in your relationship was you? That you had to make yourself more likable for your relationship with the Farmer to work? That he didn’t have to change anything on his side? Because I think instead of you figuring out ways to “get him back” every time he calls it off, he should think of ways to get YOU back.

    Think about it.

    • Tanya
      Tanya says:

      Please give a lot of thought to what price you are paying by making your relationship all about pleasing him. Maybe that’s not your intention…but, that’s what this post sounds like. Which seems unusual for you. If this IS what’s happening currently, you’re going to pay a HUGE price down the road in terms of satisfaction with the way you spent your limited time on earth, and a feeling of having spent it well.

      • Carly Fuller
        Carly Fuller says:

        Us readers, followers, we adore uncompromising professional standards, but in one’s personal life, being unable to compromise is a recipe for disaster. It just so happens that Penelope’s two lives are intertwined, especially in the blog — that’s the point of this post. So it’s short-sighted that anyone should suggest she’s repurposed her life, or blog, to please the Farmer.

        Penelope, I am happy for you, and, since it’s my first time commenting, I want to say how much I love reading about another person who is still willing to grow, change, and learn at a place in life when others tend to become rigid and unwilling to do those things.

  8. Brigitte
    Brigitte says:

    I’m very happy for you.

    I, too, love Pioneer Woman. But I’m much more drawn to the messy aspects of life. I am constantly trying to balance my commitment to honesty with my love and respect for my friends and family. It’s not easy to negotiate social situations if you’re both self aware and unwilling to engage in a thousand white lies.

    Here’s to trying to live an honest life and filling it with love!

  9. Alanna
    Alanna says:

    I hate the Pioneer Woman blog. I think she’s a self-righteous phony, and she makes me tired just to read. Also her recipes use too much butter.

    I’m not sure about your farmer, either. Couldn’t you find someone you don’t need to change for?

    • econopete
      econopete says:

      I think all relationships require some form of compromise IF they make us better people. Then again, I’m single and have been for almost 4 years, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

  10. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Penelope, I’m really happy that you’re back together with the farmer. I enjoy the way you talk about him and learn from your experiences.

    While it’s good to learn and grow, I think it’s important not to change your character. I hope you can find a good medium about being able to write about certain things while not sacrificing anything in your relationship.

    It makes me think about how big corporations were very reluctant to hop on the blog bandwagon. They were hesitant to let people be open and honest… which means they loose some control. Corporations are comfortable controlling their message. It’s hard to not control everything (ie… messaging)…. especially now in this viral age. Best of luck!

  11. s
    s says:

    Oh, it’s so great to hear that you are back with the farmer! I hope everything works out wonderfully.

    I am in the process of divorcing a man I still love, but whom I have to leave because he hits me. It’s stupidly hard. At a time like this, somehow reading posts about the end of your engagement was just heartbreaking. I am so glad to hear that you are together again.

    I wish you every happiness.

    • e
      e says:

      You can do this. I did it. I thought it would kill me; it is SO HARD. Hang in there. Just do the next thing. If you are meant to be together, you can still be, after he learns not to be violent. But you are doing the right thing for right now.

    • ash
      ash says:

      I don’t know you “s” but I’m proud of you for leaving. Greener pastures are out there…don’t look back.

  12. Waynette Tubbs
    Waynette Tubbs says:

    Your honesty and tone had me spellbound. I came to the post because of a tweet about learning to be more likeable, but fell in love with your story. Thank you

  13. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect
    Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

    Great post about your topic, but even more, great post about the jealousy some of us feel about Big Bloggers, but would never be brave enough to say out loud or in writing! I, too, suffer from Pioneer Woman jealousy. Thanks for putting a lot of my feelings into words today.

  14. Beckie
    Beckie says:

    Yay!! I’m so glad you write about the messy stuff. I hope the farmer doesn’t edit too much out! If you didn’t have this blog, do you think you and the farmer would still have worked things out? Seems to me, the blog is cathartic for both of you.


    P.S. Yes, Mr. Farmer, we know you make her feel loved!

  15. Michael Fontaine
    Michael Fontaine says:

    My first reaction was similar to Alanna’s above. . .can’t you not change for him? But when I think of my own life, let’s just face it: we are all changing, all the time. It’s incredibly naive to think that any two people could create a relationship where only one of them changes because the other one is not. That’s a fantasy world. He’s changing, obviously–just look at his joy over a real discussion about abortion, a topic that his fundamental Christianity bears on, but he’s now discussing more honestly than ever before. If that’s not change–challenging fundamental religious beliefs, especially ones held by the whole family–then I don’t know what change is.

    So congratulations on finding your own Marlboro Man: a farmer with an appreciation for a good, honest conversation.

  16. Crispina
    Crispina says:

    I think your attempts to be more likable are well worth the effort. I can feel it already through your writing.

    I love to see someone writing in a raw and truthful way while still being positive and hopeful. I think that’s what we crave and that is why we love PW.

  17. Courtney
    Courtney says:

    Like you, I totally love the Pioneer Woman. She has the best free photoshop actions ever. Not that you’re in to photoshop, but if you are, you should try her actions. I have wondered what real life is like for the Pioneer Woman’s alter ego Ree Drummond. Ree is definitely a study in effective boundary setting. Her boundary is that she never speaks negatively of her family or the ranch.

    I also totally love your blog because you blog about difficult things. The answers are not always clear and easy. There is no recipe for how to be lost at work or picture that shows how procrastinating can be positive. The Pioneer Woman blogs about the simple life which I love and you blog about real life, which I also love.

  18. Brent Winter
    Brent Winter says:

    When I read your original post about the farmer breaking off the engagement, the thing I was most concerned about was the farmer’s parents. They have so far refused to guarantee that he would inherit their 500 acres, despite the fact that he depends on their land (together with his 100 acres) for his farming income and lifestyle. A lawyer advised the farmer to exit the business relationship with his parents because it’s an insecure way to live, but the farmer hasn’t taken that advice. So the farmer’s parents are dangling a sword of Damocles over his head, and over yours, until further notice. I think that’s emotional blackmail. I think the farmer is letting his parents hold his happiness hostage, conditional upon him (and you) pleasing them. And I think that’s a recipe for eventual disaster.

    Maybe you and the farmer can work out your other problems, and maybe you can’t; but I think the deck will always be stacked against your relationship until this situation with the parents and the land gets worked out. Good luck!

    • JR
      JR says:

      All that is relevant only if she wants to try engagement again. And if that happens, somebody please smack her.

    • thatgirlinnewyork
      thatgirlinnewyork says:

      i agree that this is emotional (and practical) blackmail on the part of the farmer’s parents, but he doesn’t–yet. he might at some point, and then, if they’re lucky, he and P can discuss his next step as a couple, but for the moment, he’s the only one who can take the step to independence. perhaps being with a strong woman who is an entrepreneur will help him. P doesn’t necessarily have to suffer for his indecision–there are a lot of domestic arrangements they can come to to protect the family they would be creating–hence the negotiation point above.

  19. Liz
    Liz says:

    I can help with the anger cycle:

    You and the farmer both try to control each other. You do this through all types of strategies, whatever each of you thinks will work at the time: negotiating, breaking up, silent treatment, yelling, scapegoating relatives, appealing to passion, and so on. You both do it. Neither one of you is the bad guy, and neither of you gets to feel oppressed. It’s a cycle, and it takes both people to make it work. The fact that it happens at all is proof that both of you are in it.

    Whenever you feel frustrated, stop. Don’t react. Think, “What is it I want from him right now?” When you can answer that question, DON’T justify wanting it, or take steps to get it, or otherwise take any sort of action at all.

    You already do this in small interactions all the time. You can do it.

    After you’ve paused long enough to decide what you want, tell the farmer, “This is what I want.” Then wait. Don’t take any steps to make sure he gives it to you. Don’t explain. Don’t justify. Don’t punish him for not giving it to you. Don’t do anything.

    Just tell him what you want and listen to his response. You need to disengage, “What I want,” from, “What he does for me.” The two are not really linked, even thought it feels like they are. That’s an illusion, and that illusion forces you both to interact with each other in a way that you think will get you what you want, but which really forces you into a death spiral of awful trades and constant requests that, although absorbing, is doomed to end when one of you can’t keep up. And no one can keep up all the time.

    Once these two things are separate in your head, “What I want,” and, “What he does for me,” you’ll be able to stop violating his boundaries, you’ll recognize it when he violates your boundaries, and you’ll feel a lot less anxiety.

    Basically, you’re separating yourself from your childlike determination that you are linked to other people. Children are dependent, and they learn all kinds of ways to deal with this dependence. When these coping strategies carry over into adulthood, the strategies cause problems and the now-adult spends all his time fixing those problems. But really you just need to separate, “What I want,” from anything anyone else does, could do, thinks, or wants.

    Does that make sense? It’s hard to explain in words.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I love this comment, Liz. So useful. The farmer has been reading a book, Man Enough: Fathers and sons and the search for masculinity. And the psychology of that book is very similar to what you write here: I like that. I like that somehow the world seems to be throwing consistent advice our way. As if there is a truth to save us or something…


      • Single Mom Seeking
        Single Mom Seeking says:

        Liz’s advice rings so true for me, too.

        And so does this: “But I am drawn to write about only the hard things…”

        At first, I always ran my blog posts by the boyfriend before publishing. But he, too, gets frustrated by the fact that you can only show so much in one post (um, only so much of MY side?) that I simply don’t show him the drafts anymore.

        I hear you about getting it all out honestly — even if a cupcake is prettier.

      • Dan Owen
        Dan Owen says:

        Liz’s advice is great.

        When I was in therapy, my therapist taught me a similar tool for dealing with frustration and anger. 1) Say how you feel. 2) Say what you want. 3) Let go of the consequences.

        The problem with NOT telling the other person what you want is that you force them to guess at it. That effectively takes away from them the ability to resolve the problem.

        For what it’s worth, I think the farmer has at least as big an anger problem as you do. His technique of breaking up with you when he isn’t happy with your behavior — he’s done this at least three times that you’ve mentioned in the blog — is brutal, cruel, and cowardly. It would appear that this runs in the family: the behavior of his sisters and his parents that you’ve described here seems extraordinarily manipulative. They seem keenly perceptive of power differentials and are skilled at using them to their advantage. The farmer knows you want him more than he wants you, so breaking up works well. His parents know he wants to farm with them more than he wants you, so refusing to come to an agreement with you works well. His sisters know that he is uncomfortable with your writing about him in the blog, so they send him hair-raisingly intimate blog posts from your archives. You’re playing with pros here, Penelope. Be careful.

    • Kate
      Kate says:

      I know some people who really need this advice – including me! I often have to stop and go ‘wait, what am I doing?’ Because what I am asking of a person is for them to FIX EVERYTHING NOW. Which is ridiculous. So they are mad and I feel betrayed and let down. So I try to reframe it. Maybe they can just make me feel a bit better, or maybe fix a small thing. But they are just a person, too.

      Penelope, I’d just like to say ‘thanks’. ‘Be more positive’ is my New Years sort of not really resolution. I would like to be a more pleasant person, for myself if not anyone else. And I know I can be too negative – I’m not banning negativity, just upping positivity. Well, that’s the aim. So, thanks!

  20. Richard Sher
    Richard Sher says:


    Congratulations! I am very happy your relationship is happening. I could be in love with you too you know. I agree with the Farmer that anger and verbal titrates are a total deal breaker for any relationship. We’ve never met of course but there is something about the beauty of who you are that just keeps ringing through to me.


    Richard Sher


  21. Natasha Fondren
    Natasha Fondren says:

    Penelope, I am so thrilled for you that you guys are together again. You deserve to be loved. I was a bit heartbroken when you guys split.

    For me, the hard thing is separating how I feel with what will get the desired outcome. Some people are amazing at this. Like, my husband got hit with a bunch of bank fees that he didn’t deserve, and he was pissed. But when he went in and talked to them, he was jovial, laughing, and everyone wanted to help him.

    This is a really odd thing to say, but I once wanted to write a spy thriller. I did a ton of research on spies and recruiting. I learned more about relating to people effectively from that research than anything else in my whole life. It seems like it could be something that would interest you.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say two things. The struggle is to not act according to our emotions but according to what will work. And the second is that the farmer already likes you, clearly. So do we. :-)

    • Pen
      Pen says:

      Interesting, as on first reading I find myself thinking that this is the opposite of Liz’s “non-manipulative” advice above.

      And yet I completely understand what you are saying, and it’s something I have to remind myself to do every time I call for customer service, or the like.

      I wonder if it’s that your advice is more appropriate for dealing with the public vs. an intimate relationship? I mean, not that we should all be angry/ugly at home and then cheerful in public, but on the other hand, I like to think I could be more authentic and less “what should I do to make the other person give me what I want” when I’m at home with a loved one.

      • Natasha Fondren
        Natasha Fondren says:

        This is true. Maybe. On the other hand, if you know that sitting down next to your husband instead of standing in front of him, hands on hips, helps get him out of defensive mode and into a willingness to listen… I guess that’s manipulation, but I think it’s a positive one.

        Or, and this may sound anti-feminism, but my husband and I struggle with the money thing. I get pissed, but if I act pissed, all that gets me is relationship troubles while dealing with the stress of money issues and him digging in his heels to do it his way and me trying to work out how I’m going to leave him because I can’t live that way. On the other hand, if I let myself be and act sad about it, he doesn’t get defensive. He listens. He wants to fix it. We work out a budget.

        Objective achieved, we’re both at peace, and the problem is solved.

        I mean, I guess you can call that manipulation. But when you give him that special smile that says “let’s go in the bedroom now,” that’s sort of manipulation, too. Is all manipulation “bad?”

  22. Jeannie
    Jeannie says:

    If you were The Pioneer Woman, you would not write your blog the way you do now….PLEASE do not become The Pioneer Woman. I would be bored to death!

  23. Susan
    Susan says:

    A little tear squeezed out of my eye at the end. You took the words out of my mouth about PW’s blog, verrrrry pretty,upbeat only, unrealistic in real life but serves a purpose when you want pretty, upbeat and a warm fuzzy feeling. Thank you for the great post you are obviously inspired. I like how honest you are because many of us have to work on ourselves on a regular basis. I’m glad to know I am in good company.

    • thatgirlinnewyork
      thatgirlinnewyork says:

      good advice, particularly in building one’s ability to empathize with their partner ;). i think a lot of people romance what a farm business. another excellent doc is “American Farm”

      i liked this one for many reasons, but in terms of spelling out what visits a family farm throughout its lifespan (as opposed to larger commercial farms), and its effect on the family, is significant. it’s also beautifully done.

  24. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    I’m a little worried about you being back with the farmer. I don’t want you to get hurt again, and he seems to be particularly good at it. It always seems to be about your issues, neverminding the fact that he’s chocked full of them too. While I agree that you should be nice (an issue for me, too), you need to be allowed to just be you. You’re going to yell sometimes, and he’s just going to have to love you anyway. You deserve at least that much.

    Fingers crossed,

    • rennie
      rennie says:

      While I would never want anyone to be hurt, I feel Penelope can hold her own when it happens. Her children, however, are who I feel concerned for. What does all this together again, not together again, do for them?

      First and foremost should be point #2. The farmer and Penelope’s actions need to be considered from the perspective of her sons, namely how will they be affected by what the adults in their lives do? The farmer and Penelope both deal with issues that stem from family. Don’t force these boys to grow up with issues as well.

  25. Ms. Freeman
    Ms. Freeman says:

    WOW! This was such an incredible read. I don’t know you but I am glad you and the farmer are working things out, I would hate for anyone to lose a good man over a blog. LOL;)

  26. Lori
    Lori says:

    Tears – great post.

    I’m a new reader and was thrilled to find your blog (wow there is a whole world out there that I would love to get to know). Slowly catching up with everything. Love the comments from readers as well.

    It sounds like you know this, but I would like to throw it out here anyway. I’ve been married 25 years. Its not all fun and games and staying together might be the hardest thing most of us do, but who knows what the future holds. However, early in my marriage my mother told me the 50-50 rule – how your relationship sometimes goes in your favor and its 70-30 and sometimes it doesn’t… its a living thing. So even though you might look like you are bending your principles by “changing”, as long as you are growing together in the same direction, always trying to meet at 50-50, then you are doing the right thing.

  27. Chickybeth
    Chickybeth says:

    I’ve crossed all my fingers and toes that it works out for you :)

    If anyone deserves happiness, it is you, Brazen Chick!

  28. Maria
    Maria says:

    I read your blog regularly, and I like you. Ultimately, I just hope you value yourself as much as you should.

    Now that you and the farmer have negotiated your blog and his presence in postings, can you negotiate his relationship with his parents?

    Why are they so motivated to control him and his decisions? When does he start making his own decisions and living with the consequences?

    As you already know, marriages are hard work and require the commitment of both partners in order for even the slightest chance at contentment. Before you decide to marry him, please be certain the farmer is committed to you and making the marriage work.

    And I still think, like a lot of “city girls,” you’re caught up in the fantasy of farming/ranching/sexy cowboys. I enjoy The Pioneer Woman blog, but can you see how much work she puts into making the ranch, her family, and the blog succeed? Ranching and farming is a lifestyle–one of long hours and hard work–not suited to most people.

    • Belinda Gomez
      Belinda Gomez says:

      Pioneer Woman’s book sold really, really well. That would be the sudden interest. There’s a bunch of mommy-bloggers who are also very interested in the country life. And it’s a great search term, too.

    • Maria
      Maria says:

      I can’t reply to Penelope’s comment on my comment in the listing below, so. . . .

      Here’s a link to an article from 2008 in Working Ranch magazine to learn more about the Drummonds’ ranching operation:

      I’m sure she’s involved in the ranch in whatever capacity she wants at the level of family business they’re running, and she’s certainly contributing money from “selling” the ranch fantasty through her blog and other writing.

      I always take homeschooling with a grain of salt because that really covers a wide scale of effort on the part of the people doing the teaching. And I’m sure that ranching activities play a large role in their schooling, as they should with ranching being the likely future for some, if not all, of the kids.

  29. Erica
    Erica says:

    Anger: I’m curious whether you actually want to change your anger for yourself, or only for him. My grandmother was angry her whole life, and only changed when her doctor told her it would kill her. That is, she did it for her. I have reduced my displays of anger, because I was beginning to hate myself for being so angry. Most of my time is with my kids, and the book 1-2-3 Magic helped me focus on not rising to their bait, not debating & discussing each infraction with them. Men are different from kids of course. If you want to change, I recommend an anger journal. Each time you get angry you write the trigger, and how you felt. But you and the farmer may already know part of why you get angry — does he keep energy bars on hand to feed you when you start getting snippy? My husband does, now. And extra sunglasses in his car, for when I’ve forgotten mine. It’s the little things…

  30. Tzipporah
    Tzipporah says:

    Honestly, the Pioneer Woman blog is absolute shit compared to yours. And I say that as a woman who likes you more now that I know you can cook (and like to cook).

    You deal with the real stuff; you’re not a Martha. Thank God.

    Also, if you want to see real farm blogging, with hunky guys and good food on a real FARM budget, go over to Farmgirl Fare. She writes about losing baby donkeys, how the perfect pictures don’t always represent what it feels like to live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, and posts some incredible recipes. So there.

  31. Tzipporah
    Tzipporah says:

    And, farmer? You may not realize this, since it’s been you and your family for so long, but once you get married, it’s you AND PENELOPE together, against your family, when necessary.

    Meaning, your allegiance switches. It must switch. She’s your family now. She’s your future. If that’s not what marriage means to you, you’re going to undermine your relationship with her every time you talk to your parents.

    Food for thought.

  32. ash
    ash says:

    What do you do that’s so fantastic with cupcakes? Seriously I need to bring cupcakes for my 1st graders b-day party on Friday and it’s really important that I’m not lame so this is an urgent request.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I love that you’re asking about cupcakes! I never get to talk about this. I’ve been playing with frosting for about five years. Buy lots of colors and lots of ways to squirt, and then mix and match. When you have your own style with color and shape for frosting, then start playing sprinkles. If you don’t own 25 containers of sprinkles, you are not really playing. Think of it as a painting.

      But. You know what? First-graders don’t care about what cupcakes look like. First-graders just want lots of sugar. Adults are the ones who care what cupcakes look like. So you’ll be fine on Friday.


    • ash
      ash says:

      My own buttercream? 25 types of sprinkles?? I’m in way out of my league! Since I am creatively challenged by nature (I’m an engineer) I will focus on the sugar aspect and add nerds and gummy bears (both available from the office candy/crack pusher) to decorate the cupcakes and hope for the best. Thanks!

      • Cathy
        Cathy says:

        P, you’re spot on, all the kids want is the sugar – especially first-graders. Ash – pile the icing on, put some sprinkles on top and they’ll gobble the icing and leave the cake. Fancy decorations are either to satisfy an artistic bent or impress other parents – not the kids.

  33. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    Absolutely nothing constructive to say here. Just: thank you for coming back; thank you for the good advice; thank you for all the insight; thank you for introducing me to The Pioneer Woman; thank you for the cowboys and congratulations on the reunion!
    And now, if I may be allowed to quote Hot Chocolate (who is playing this very minute on my iPod) and send this out to anyone who wants to hear it: “I believe in miracles, since ya came along, you sexy thing.”

  34. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    Full disclosure: that also happens to be the song my brother-in-law used to propose to my sister in front of a crowd of a few hundred — and they’re still happily married.

  35. Jay
    Jay says:

    Yay!!! Now I’m going to go back and read rest of post.

    I need to work on making myself more likable, too. More respectable, too, in the good way, not the conformist “that’s just the way it’s done” way.

  36. Melissa Dutmers
    Melissa Dutmers says:

    Welcome back Penelope! You were missed. ; ) I’m an equestrian myself and enjoy a beautiful horse, a beagle to sport, and a fisherman that is so great at loving me. Thanks!

  37. Doug K
    Doug K says:

    congratulations on getting back together !

    “I experimented with fruit in stew and accidentally used bad wine, and to fix it I laced it with brown sugar. And it's not just that the farmer wouldn't eat it, but neither would the farm cats, who will eat anything in winter.”

    Hah. I’m an occasional cook, have tried fixes like that and they NEVER WORK. Most recently I overpowered a pheasant/wine stew with cinnamon; attempted More Wine, no go; another half-pint of olive oil, hoping for an emollient effect, nope. In the end people still ate it, and the dog who retrieved the bird ingredient was happy with leftovers – but I couldn’t eat it.

    As I observed on another blog, ‘The Pioneer Woman’ looks like a kind of farm pornography to me: the same kind of air-brushed eliding of reality. I doubt the designer kitchen in the cover photo was paid for with farming income..

  38. Janet
    Janet says:

    The Pioneer Woman is lightly entertaining, but she spreads this idea that people who live on farms or ranches can afford to redecorate their lodges or have the time to take vacations. The truth is that most farmers are poor and cannot afford constant redecoration or expensive cameras and lenses to track all the redecoration. True farmers don’t take vacations. Who would feed the livestock?

    Farm life is not truly glamorous. I wish more people knew this.

    • Mrs. Micah
      Mrs. Micah says:

      As I understand it, the Marlboro Man’s family is one of the richest in his state. And it’s great if they want to do manual labor, work a farm, show off a photoshopped dream life (she’s open about her photoshopping after all), but it’s important for the rest of us to realize what they started with so we don’t become too discouraged abt our own stuff.

      Following from that, PT, I think that PW’s husband probably still has more money than her, if not more fame. So there might be other blogging resentments but I think money isn’t among them.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        Really? This is interesting. I didn’t know this. So I feel compelled to respond to Maria (her comment above) about Pioneer Woman’s life.

        I mean, the Pioneer Woman is currently on a national book tour, with her husband and kids. And her blog is a relatively large business – definitely larger than 90% of Internet businesses. So it’s hard to see her as a rancher (she’s homeschooling her kids all day, not managing cattle) or as a stay-at-home mom (what full-time mom can do a national book tour or operate a blog the size of Gawker media?)

        Still, I think a lot about her. I don’t know what I think of her. Except that she’s smart and interesting.


      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        Really? This is interesting. I didn’t know this. So I feel compelled to respond to Maria (her comment above) about Pioneer Woman’s life.

        I mean, the Pioneer Woman is currently on a national book tour, with her husband and kids. And her blog is a relatively large business — definitely larger than 90% of Internet businesses. So it’s hard to see her as a rancher (she’s homeschooling her kids all day, not managing cattle) or as a stay-at-home mom (what full-time mom can do a national book tour or operate a blog the size of Gawker media?)

        Still, I think a lot about her. I don’t know what I think of her. Except that she’s smart and interesting.


  39. Jess @ Openly Balanced
    Jess @ Openly Balanced says:

    This is a completely fluff comment, but I have to say that this post completely derailed my horrible day and made it awesome. Penelope Trunk + Pioneer Woman = YAY. One of my favorite bloggers writing about one of my other favorite bloggers. Articulately. Intelligently. Thank you for un-depressing me.

    (And congratulations!)

  40. Renee
    Renee says:

    I didn’t know how much I liked you until I realized how happy I was that you two are back together. I only wish we could see more pictures, but maybe in time with some more negotiating:)

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