Gabbie, Pioneer Woman and Ridiculous Me: a Trilogy

Part 1: Gabbie

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When I woke up on the morning of November 1st, I had simple goals for the day:

1. Recover from Halloween by drinking my coffee in bed and keeping my pajamas on all day.

2. Catch up on homeschool.

3. That’s it.

But life takes awfully funny twists and turns, and few have been quite so twisty or turny as the ones mine took today…

It all started back in August. My friend, Megan, was planning her daughter, Gabbie’s, 6th birthday, and Gabbie had made an unusual request for one so young: the dearest, darlingest desire of her little heart was to have a Pioneer Woman party. And not like, Little-House-on-the-Prairie-cowboys-and-indians-pioneer-woman-party, but Gabbie’s-favorite-person-on-the-planet-Ree-Drummond-THE-Pioneer-Woman-party.

You don’t see a lot of those on Pinterest…

But here’s what I love about Megan. While I would have taken that theme and secretly planned all the details while my daughter slept, turning it into a sunflower and basset hound affair where all the boys had to wear ranch clothes and all the girls had to wear tunics, Megan actually sat down and planned this party with her little girl.

Flipping through cookbooks, Gabbie picked out several Pioneer Woman recipes that she wanted to make with her friends, and as usual, Megan set the stage for a genuinely lovely and laidback party wherein both her daughter and her guests (and their Mamas!) would leave feeling happy and appreciated.

For Gabbie’s present, I decided to aim really high and, sitting down one afternoon, I sent a long and gushing e-mail to The Pioneer Woman herself, telling her about Gabbie and her party theme, and asking rather pathetically if a small token might be procured in time for her birthday…nothing much, just an autograph, or a video shout-out, or a spatula…a Kitchenaid mixer perhaps (or two? One for me, one for Gabbie?)…anything, really, that the Pioneer Woman had signed, touched or breathed on.

Knowing it was a major shot in the dark, I worked hard to keep my expectations in the “it-never-hurts-to-try” category rather than the oh-my-gosh-I’m-going-to-become-BFF’s-with-PW-while-making-Gabbie’s-party-the-best-ever category…

for I knew it was very unlikely that PW would even see that message, and if she did, would have her hands tied; it is common blogging knowledge, is it not, that if you send a gift to one “biggest fan ever”, you leave out 1,158,935?

Yes, Ree Drummond has that many followers on facebook.

Still yet, it was worth an attempt for our Gabbie-girl.

But as her birthday party drew near, it became apparent that my message had probably been swallowed up into a sea of PW fanmail, perhaps read, perhaps even appreciated, but understandably unanswered. My disappointment was not too keenly felt, and I had to take a minute to feel sorry for Ree Drummond who probably receives thousands upon thousands of requests from people like me who just want this “one tiny thing” from her.

And it was great; even though my dreams of the present-of-a-lifetime didn’t materialize, Gabbie’s party was a precious affair.

The children arrived to a table stacked with miniature pizza boxes that they got to decorate with fun stickers and markers before moving to another table where they put together their own pizza using PW’s homemade crust recipe.

Then, while their pizzas baked in the oven, they moved to another table and put together a Pioneer Woman fruit pizza. There was also PW’s lasagna for the grownups, as well as her beautiful (and towering!) Chocolate Strawberry Nutella Cake that served as Gabbie’s birthday cake.

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I was just so touched by that sweet party, and left that day not only realizing what an amazing woman and mother Megan is, but that Gabbie is more than your typical fan of Pioneer Woman…

She’s a superfan!

All that to say, when my friends and I were sitting around in early October discussing Halloween costumes, and Megan mentioned that she had nothing planned, I offhandedly mentioned that Gabbie should dress as Pioneer Woman, remembering her birthday party and her unprecedented adoration for Ree Drummond.

I was joking.

But apparently Gabbie heard the idea and was like, YEAH, baby.

From that night on, she was determined to wear a Pioneer Woman costume for Halloween.

(You don’t see a lot of those on Pinterest, either…)

But over the next couple of weeks, I watched in wonder and amusement as Megan did it again. Where I would have said, “You know, sweetie, that doesn’t really match Mommy’s costume”, Megan found a way to make her little girl’s dream come true and, although she was still clueless on the Sunday before Halloween about how to make this costume materalize, by the time I saw Gabbie at our town’s Trunk or Treat on Halloween night, she had been transformed into none other than Ree Drummond…

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I cracked up.

The best part of all? When Gabbie approached our “trunk” to recieve her treats, she first handed ME a treat of prettily wrapped homemade cookies. Because that’s what Pioneer Woman would do.

(Let’s all take a moment to ponder the cute/sweet/preciousness of that idea and give Gabbie and her mama a round of applause).

When our troop returned home later that night and all the sugar-laced children had been strapped into their beds, I did what every American mother does on Halloween night, edited and uploaded photographs onto facebook. It was so much fun to peruse the snapshots of what had been a truly special evening (more on that next week), and I loved looking again at the different costumes our little churchkids had come up with this year. They were all so precious.

But when I came across Gabbie’s picture in the hundreds I had taken that night, I stopped for a minute.

I smiled.

I said “eureka!”

And I decided it was worth another shot.

Going straight to Pioneer Woman’s facebook page, I posted Gabbie’s photo and left Ree a quick caption: “At our town’s trunk-or-treat, I was so happy to be visited by a little Ree Drummond. This is 6-year old Gabbie, your biggest fan!”

It took no more than a minute and, assuming it, too, had been swallowed into the blackhole of internet posts, I gave it little thought and went on to tweak and edit some more of our photos before finally calling it a night and going to sleep…

And that leads us back to the morning of November the 1st.

When I woke up, I set out to accomplish my first post-Halloween goal of staying in bed with my caffeine and pajamas. Leisurely sipping on my first cup of coffee, I opened my laptop and was perusing facebook when I got a notification.

Clicking on it, I saw with bug-eyes that this was not my typical notification.

And that’s when our day went twisty…

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Click here to read part 2!

(and here to read part 3).

Abigail’s Lemonade Party

You know how much Mrs. Gore loves a party.

I love to throw parties, planning the details and the special touches.

But I also love to GO to parties.

Especially if my sister-in-law Amy is in charge of them.

She truly outdid herself for her daughter Abigail’s 8th birthday party. The party was centered around a lemonade stand that Abigail’s Daddy and Uncle Matt built for her, inspired by this one Amy came across on Pinterest. It turned out to be the perfect theme for a Memorial Day birthday party, taking place right next to her Mema’s pond in the country.

It turned out to be swelteringly hot that afternoon, but that only made the lemonade taste better! And the children, of course, didn’t seem to notice, and had the best time playing outside and celebrating the life of Abigail Grace.

Amy, pregnant with her 4th child and dripping with sweat, might have regretted all the work she put into this party, until she overheard Abigail asking her friend, Katy, the following question…

“Didn’t my Mom do good?”

That’s all Amy needed to hear.

Take a look at this amazing party, full of lemons, lemonade, lemon cupcakes, lemon blossoms, lemon slices and…peanut butter sandwiches. (to see the photos up close, simply click on them and use your back button to return).

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A perfect gift for an 8-year old girl with the brain of an entrepreneur? A lemonade stand! Just in time for summer.

A basket of lemons…

And enough lemonade to quench the thirsts of many children who had been playing – and partying – pretty hard.

I thought the food table was precious. The table was covered with a soft floral vintage sheet…

and boasted a huge treat stand full of prettily-wrapped sandwiches, some peanut butter and jelly, some turkey and cheese. This particular galvanized stand is from Pottery Barn and is no longer available, but they carry a new one now. Find it by clicking here.

A picnic basket held disposable plates, and napkins that were wrapped in doilies and tied with twine.

“L is for Lemon”…how cute is that?! I went to ask Amy where she purchased it, and she informed me that she made it on Microsoft Word. My sister-in-law is LEGIT.

And this folding tray was perfect for holding individual bags of chips for all the guests.

A nice way to look at things: “When life gives you lemons make lemon cupcakes.” You can buy your own sign like this at the Betty Turbo shop on Etsy. To see it, click here. And then you should probably go make some lemon cupcakes…

like these, that my Mom made from a Gooseberry Patch recipe. I don’t have the recipe handy, but I promise I’ll share it someday. They are delicious! And Amy tied a simple yellow ribbon on a toothpick to decorate it. I loved the finished product!

My sole contribution to this party was requested by Abigail herself, Paula Deen’s Lemon Blossoms. Everytime I make them, Abigail is first in line to eat them. You should go ahead and add this recipe to your file – they are SO good – but ladies of my church…understand that if you bring these to a potluck, I’ll kill you. These are mine, savvy? Find the recipe here.

A galvanized tub holds mason jars filled with iced sweet tea – so refreshing and fun!

This bunting Amy made was simple, but so stinkin’ cute. If she would quit having kids, she could make a fortune off of her creativity. But she makes awfully precious kids…

Like that girl on the left, Abigail Grace. She and my Betsie share a birthday, so Amy snapped a few photos of them together…

and I’m so glad she did! This one is going in the album, for sure.

okay, and maybe this one, too. Betsie says, “when life gives you lemons, eat them, rind and all. Until Mama comes and digs it out of your mouth and adds it to the pile of dangerous things that have almost choked you to death.”

My sister-in-law, Kaci, surprised Abigail with her first pair of TOMS at the party. Awesome gift. Maybe Aunt Kaci will bring a pair of TOMS to Mrs. Gore’s birthday party in December?…

That this beloved niece is already 8 years old astounds me. I remember rocking her to sleep during Sunday School and helping her hide in my laundry hamper for games of hide-and-seek. Life truly is a vapor, moving so quickly! I’m so glad for moments and celebrations like this that remind us to stop for a minute and take in the miracle of life.

After blowing out her candles, Abigail donned her apron…

and served her guests. I thought this was a particularly lovely gesture, and I hope to remember it as my children grow older.

And, of course, it didn’t hurt that Abigail’s best friend, Katy, was there to help her. Those two love each other so much…

as do these two…when they’re not fighting mad at each other.

The beautiful birthday girl…8 years old suits her, don’t you think?

My feistiest little niece of all, Kate Belle, sips on a glass of lemonade.

Abigail and Katy share a hug before Abigail opens her gifts.

A special envelope for Abigail holds a vintage yellow and white handkerchief, a perfect memento to remember her lemonade stand birthday party…

After opening gifts, the birthday girl and her friends cool off in the now-empty bucket of ice water…

I was so tempted to join them. Doesn’t that look like it feels so good?!

Lemon photo booth!

lemons, lemons and MORE lemons!!

everyone say “lemons!!”

“Didn’t my Mom do good?!”

I’d say she did GREAT.

Obviously, when life gives you lemons…

life is pretty near perfect.

Well done, Amy! This party was anything but a lemon.