Simple Sweet Sixteen Soiree

I’m not sure when it happened, but this little ray of sunshine ….
turned sixteen this month.

Sweet 16.
{I remember 16 …. It was a good year.}

Because of relationships both here and back “home” we decided to have two parties; a simple sleepover here with three of her closest girlfriends and then an old-fashioned BBQ with her friends and family at my parents house in Tennessee.It was a lot of work, but a whole lot of fun and everything turned out perfectly for this milestone event.

To help keep things simple and stay within our budget I planned both parties to have the same color scheme (pink & green), which saved a lot on decorations.  We also utilized much of what we already had including serving pieces, tea-light candles, diamonds, christmas lights and scrap lumber from my parents little farmette.

Here is just a little peek at how it came together and all turned out.

First up was a sleepover on MacKenzie Grace’s actual birthday.  Simple and girly all was fitting perfectly for her.

MacKenzie Grace is crazy about anything that sparkles & shines or dangles, so we incorporated a lot of that into her sleepover decor.

Madeline & Audley hanging up swirly, twirly decorations from the ceiling.
Fresh flowers, tiaras, faux diamonds, candlelight & balloons all added a little celebration flair to the festivities.
Pink lemonade was the perfect accompaniment to her party.
A dining room full of girly girl fluff!

Working against the horrible South Carolina humidity, I managed to make her cake fairly close to what she wanted.  My icing did not want to set up at all!

Cake & a little candy for the sweet loving teenage girls.

Dinner was was simple sliders with traditional burger toppings, baked beans, chips & salsa.

Easy, peasy.

That’s the name of the game!

A few of her favorite things!
Our fun-loving and beautiful birthday princess!
The cake must have taste pretty good …. they ate most all of it.

And after an entertaining game of truth or dare, karaoke along with manis & pedis, these girls settled in for a night of movies and laughter.

It was good, clean fun that you really can’t beat!

Party number two was a BBQ in Tennessee.  While we have lived all over the southeast, our roots belong in Tennessee & Alabama.  That is home as my children have spent most of their lives there.  “Home” means so much to them as they have lifelong friends who have always been special to them and remained true no matter where we have lived.  It is also where most of our family resides which makes visiting very special indeed.

Planning things from a distance can be a challenge, but my Momma was an awesome partner.  My father’s birthday was also to be celebrated at this second party so it was going to be big!

We had over fifty RSVP!

Once again I kept the menu simple, ordering BBQ from one of our favorite places in Alabama (Mud Creek BBQ).

Seriously, Southern Living needs to feature these guys.  They are a Tennessee Valley legend.

{They have good fried catfish, too.}

Momma made baked beans and I made homemade guacamole, peach salsa and tomato salsa.

We also ordered mustard slaw from Mud Creek.

{No BBQ sandwich is complete without it.}

Drinks were also kept simple and consisted of tea, lemonade and water.

Fresh squeeze lemonade…. my Momma is awesome!

I have learned over the years that a good party is not necessarily the quantity of the food, but most definitely the quality that will leave people talking.

FYI:  When setting up a buffet, ALWAYS place your forks and napkins at the end!  There is nothing more awkward than trying to balance fixing your plate and holding on to extra accessories.  The end of the line is a perfect place for them!

Daddy & Audley “built” our little party space which was decorated with twinkle lights and Chinese lanterns.

from my Instagram account

Colored tablecloths and simple centerpieces of floating candles & lime slices in Mason jars completed the space.

From my Instagram account

We kept the cakes simple as well …. nothing is refreshing as a Dairy Queen ice cream cake on a humid, Southern summer night!

Momma took care of ordering the cakes … thankfully Daddy has a good sense of humor!
Dad trying to be all prissy like his granddaughter …. I love his silliness!

 MacKenzie Grace truly loved sharing her party with her Pop!

63 & 16
1) the birthday girl was all smiles; 2) Blessing this milestone in life; 3)my beautiful Momma; 4) MacKenzie Grace & Summer (friends since pre-k); 5) my madeline & her bestie, Mallory

From start to finish, It was a perfect night!

from my Instagram account
Don’t you just love twinkle lights?!

I mentioned earlier MacKenzie Grace & her bond with lifelong friends.

It’s a bond that goes way back!

I’m linking up with Foodie Friday this week.  Stop on over and see what everyone else is serving up!

Reflecting & Recovering

I turned 41 yesterday.
My sister has decided I am old…. “only 9 years from 50 now….”
But no, I am not old.
In fact right now in my life I love my age.  Who knew the 40’s were going to be so stinkin’ awesome!?!
(insert happy dance here…)
So many wonderful things happened at 40.
A work in progress …. 95 pounds down!
And 41 is going to be just as amazing!
Audley swept the kids and I away for a weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Fun and adventure was everywhere we went, starting right in our hotel.
We ran into Jessica Limpert and Ramon Medeiros from season 12 of the Biggest Loser while in the gym at the hotel.
As you know, the Biggest Loser has had a huge impact on my own weight loss journey.  Jessica and Ramon were totally awesome and really great to talk to.  It was also encouraging to see them still working out and finishing the journey that they started.
We got very little sleep this weekend and lots of incredible action.  I am so tired and dragging this Monday morning, but I’ll give you a clue to what our weekend did consist of….
I can’t wait to share all of the details with you.
But they will have to wait until after I get the laundry caught up and bags packed again for an mini road trip with my daughter.
Have a wonderful Monday!

Sunday Grace

My youngest child, my precious son, turned 13 yesterday.  I cant begin to put into words how this makes me feel.  He was an unexpected surprise that has come to mean the world to me.  He loves this family, even his sisters and has a fun (although annoying at times) personality.
And he loves the Lord.
I love to listen to him pray.
He speaks as if he is having a personal conversation with God and they are very best friends.
It is very humbling.
So today I am focused on the gift of children my Lord has blessed me with.
And how glorious is that blessing!
The many faces of my Bradley
My son in all his teenage glory.


Bowling at his birthday party yesterday.


Pizza, Bowling & Cake!

I think one of the hardest things a mom has to do is watch her babies grow up!  When they are small you can still snuggle and cuddle with them as they tell you they love you forever, dress them up, play tea party, and hold their little hands when you go out with them
Then they turn into teenagers.  
Tea parties became make-up parties, they don’t want your opinion in dressing up, and the only hand they want to hold is the boy in school who seems to have her heart as well.
So when one of those babies asks for us to celebrate her 14th birthday at Chuck E Cheese pizzeria, I’m going to do it no matter how much I despise that place!

And, of course we had a wonderful time!It was capped off by my parents who drove five hours (one way) just for this little party, knowing that they had to return home the same day so my daddy could preach on Sunday morning!


Not only did we play at Chuck E. Cheese for two hours we also went bowling, making this birthday celebration an all day affair!
The girls brought the boyfriends….. thankfully my son isn’t into girls yet; at least the ones his age (college girls on the beach are an entirely different story!) !
With six strikes I had a great night bowling!!
But in the midst of all the birthday fun and laughs was was a cake.
Madeline asked for a green cake.
Only my child.
We looked at several pictures on Pinterest for inspiration before she decided on one that combined two decorating elements:  rosette swirls and ruffles.
via Pinterest
via Pinterest
Now I had done swirls before, but ruffles was a whole new game for me.
I have a long way to go.
But I tried to give her what she wanted.
First I baked the cake using my favorite white velvet cake recipe.
Each of the four layers was a different shade of green; the popular ombre style.
I only used two recipes of the white velvet cake …. each 8-in cake pan held 2 cups of cake batter that I had tinted green in separated bowls.
I used Wilton paste in Leaf Green for the color, adjusting the amount and even adding a bit of white to achieve the colors I wanted.
After baking the layers and letting them cool, I leveled, stacked with basic buttercream icing between each layer, and then lightly (or dirty) iced the cake to keep my crumbs contained and give myself a base to work with.
And then I started playing with the icing.  I used the same Wilton Leaf Green paste for tinting my buttercream.  I made three recipes of the icing to make sure that I had enough.
I did the ruffles first and discovered that my icing was not stiff enough to stand, so they don’t look very good.
That means practice because I am a perfectionist and won’t be happy until I can do this technique correctly.
The rosette swirls made the top of the cake.
The main thing was that Madeline loved her cake and it was green!
I used taller candles to add a little elegance to the cake.
I forgot a decent knife to cut the cake with, so we had to settle for a plastic one at Chuck E. Cheese.
Madeline’s birthday was a truly special day …..
It was a day for counting our blessings for sure:  you just can’t be anymore blessed than having a happy, heathy family who truly enjoys being together and grandparents who go out of their way to make sure they are a part of it all.
God has been so good to us!
It’s birthday season for our family, so now to plan Bradley’s 13th celebration for March!
Lot’s of fun!