Country Girls

I LOVE my girls. They are all amazing in their own way, and I can’t even begin to express to you what it feels like to be surrounded by so many genuinely GOOD youth. All of the youth 14 and up from our stake (and 4 other surrounding stakes) got invited to a Dance Festival. My Beehives are all 12 and 13, so they weren’t able to go. They mentioned a few times how they wanted to go and have fun like the other kids, so I promised them we’d do something on our own. And it would be AMAZING.
But I had NO IDEA what it would be. I didn’t tell them that, though.
The Country Girl Party came together nicely, and all the girls seemed to really enjoy it. I’m no good with fancy decorations, so I just went with hay bales and a little burlap.
I didn’t put the pump up for the party. It was there when we moved in. It’s exclusively for decoration, and I’m glad we were able to center the party around it.
I tried putting the girls’ aprons on a hay bale, but the wind picked up and kept blowing them all over the place. My daughter could stand it, and she tried to do everything in her power to KEEP the aprons down.
This, by the way, is my favorite picture from the party. She was wearing my shoes and a pirate costume. And SITTING on those blasted aprons.
I finally grabbed some nails and NAILED those bad boys to a tree.
(she thought I was taking a picture of her, so she made one of her crazy faces she likes to make.)
I set their brownies on a hay bale next to a bowl full of lentils.
I poked their forks into the lentils.

I lined up IBC Rootbeer behind their lunches:
Their lunch consisted of PB&J (not fancy, I know. But I was worried about serving them anything with mayo and having them go home with food poisoning of some kind), an apple, chocolate covered strawberries, a brownie, and a Rootbeer.
The full set up, minus the few bales off to the side where the girls sat:
We started with an opening prayer and then I told the girls what we’d be doing (making butter, freezer jam, and bread) and told them to pick an apron off the tree. My neighbor down the road graciously volunteered a TON of fresh cream from their milk cow so we could make butter. I filled mason jars 1/3 of the way full of cream and added a little salt. Then I let the girls shake the jars until a lump formed in the middle.
Here are some of them shaking their butter:
After a lump formed (took about 30ish minutes), I drained the liquid off. The liquid is buttermilk and if you don’t get it all off the butter, the butter will turn sour really fast. After draining the buttermilk off, I added some water to the jar with the lump of soft butter and let them shake some more. Then we rinsed the water off and viola!
I gotta tell you: that butter ROCKED. It was SO good! After the girls finished their brownie that I baked in their jar, I washed their jar out, filled it with the butter they made and let them take it home to share with their families. After the butter was done, we pulled out a bunch of strawberries and made freezer jam.
They all helped cut the strawberries up and then they took turns mashing the berries.
They couldn’t believe how easy the jam was to make, and it tasted delicious. Photobucket
After the jam-making, we went back outside to eat lunch.
The girls had a great time chatting and relaxing.
At one point, I lost sight of my little guy only to find him in his element:
My son LOVES girls. My girls are his favorites.
He also loves apples and Rootbeer.
And his boots.
After lunch we went back inside and made bread as fast as we could. We had to hurry because most of the girls had a softball game they had to be at. Because we had to hurry so fast and my hands were caked in bread dough, I didn’t get any more pictures! I didn’t realize it until after the girls left. I baked the bread after they left and delivered it to the men in charge of the sacrament bread.
The next day at church, everyone got a little taste of the Beehives’ bread as the sacrament was passed. They were absolutely THRILLED and so proud of themselves. And they should be! I joked to one of the mothers that came to help that watching the girls standing around my table in aprons, kneading bread was like watching my very own personal sweat shop at work.
They did great and the bread tasted OH so GOOD! I had some bread baked before hand so they could eat a few slices before going home, and it was so cute to watch them slather their bread with their butter and jam.

Did I mention I love my girls?! I’ve never loved a calling as much as I love this one.
(I have picture-by-picture instructions on how I make FREEZER JAM. In the past I’ve done a picture-by-picture post on making bread, but I’ve lost it. I’ll dig it up and post it soon.)

Later that evening, I took the kids to the school playground and my little she-pirate hung from the monkey bars:
I loved it.
I woke up early Sunday morning and went outside long enough to snap a picture of the sun. It appears to be almost red in color because of the smoke from the fire by Alpine.

Procrastination Station

I often wonder about something.  Is skilled procrastination a gift?  I can practically hear every teacher and professor I’ve ever had screaming, “NO!” in heated unison, but I’m going with this anyway.  I’m really good at it.  I don’t mean that I’m really good at wasting time until I absolutely HAVE to do something… I mean I’m great at putting stuff together last minute.  In truth: I have taken time to plan and do a thorough job with things (like church lessons) and sometimes (most times) they go so much better when I do the majority of the planning the morning-of or the night before.

It’s a kind of art for me… last minuting.  Again, I can almost hear all of my teachers collectively pulling their hair out.  What an awful sound.  They must be glad to be rid of me and my absolutely hair-pulling ways.

This is what I’m driving at: I’m throwing a party tomorrow for my Beehive girls.  There’s a dance festival for the youth a few towns over, and the Beehives aren’t old enough to go.  They were feeling a little left out, and most of them would have TORE UP those dances, so after talking with them I decided to have a party with them while the youth were gone dancing.

I immediately thought to do a Spa Party (what could be more natural with girls?) but then remembered that one girl absolutely refuses to take her shoes off on account of odor insecurities.  So I threw that out the window.  And then I remembered an article I had seen on Country Living’s Website about having a Prairie Girl Party.  They did a great job.  Before I go on, I must say: I can not plan and carry out parties.  I have a huge (we’re talking Berlin Wall Sized) mental block when it comes to party planning.  I just don’t GET how to do it.  Even though Country Living’s Farm Chicks laid out the plans step-by-step, I was still extremely hesitant.  I have my reasons.
#1) I don’t own a single pair of boots. Not that that’s very important, but it SEEMS like it.

#2) I can’t set a table beautifully if my life depended on it.

#3) Lots of details and planning (and spending $ on said details) stresses me out more than anything I know. Except maybe impending labor when I’m pregnant. Which I’m not.

#4) I’m not, like, all trendy. I type that in all earnest.

My poor Beehives. They’re getting a variation on the The Prairie Girl Party. We’re going to meet at my house (instead of a field -despite the abundance of fields around… it’s June. it’s Arizona. it’s HOT). And I’m calling it A Country Girl Party instead.
We’re going to sit on hay bales (you don’t get more country than having your rear end “massaged” by hay, truuuust me) in my front yard and plant flowers in pots, label the flowers with steel stamped spoons… something like


While we’re doing that, we’re going to take turns shaking cream in a jar to make butter. Then we’re going to eat a lunch (I’m going to put their lunches in their terra-cotta pots) of sandwiches, an apple, chocolate dipped strawberries, and brownies in a tiny mason jar.

And IBC Rootbeer -the kind in bottles. I’m not awesome enough to brew my own tea to put in vintage glass bottles and recork. Because
#1) how do you go about brewing that much tea?
#2) where would I find that many vintage bottles?
#3) who sells corks that fit vintage bottles?

Anyway, after lunch we’re coming inside to learn how to make freezer strawberry jam and homemade bread. When they do this, it passes off one of their Personal Progress goals.
I made them these:
To wear while they make bread. I stayed up until 2 AM last night finishing them (then I slept in until 8:30 and had a disturbingly vivid dream that I was a Ghostbuster). Why do I do this to myself? Why didn’t I have them done last week -or TWO weeks ago when I bought the fabric? Heaven only knows.
Today, I’m cleaning the house, baking the brownies, making some bread ahead of time, dipping strawberries in chocolate, printing out instructions for everything I have planned so I don’t get it wrong with seven 12 year old girls underfoot… It’s going to be a busy day tomorrow. I’m nervous about messing up a party that could have been SO much better if someone else had been in charge. I’m also nervous about making sure everything is prepped and ready.
But since I’m doing it last minute, I should be fine. That’s how it goes down around here. You can send sympathy notes to my husband if you like.