The of Class of 2015

I’ve alluded to it many times the last couple of weeks, especially if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, but our daughter MacKenzie Grace graduated high school last week.

Complete with honors and accolades, this girl of ours walked the stage and received her diploma, ending a chapter in her life.

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Graduation was met with mixed emotions.  MacKenzie was thrilled to end this part of her life, and I was a wee bit sentimental over it all.  Some how I managed to hold it all together while she walked the stage and now we are ready fort he next chapter to begin as she prepares to go off to college in August.  She was one of only 32 Honor’s grads in her class of 500, so to say that Audley and I are proud of her does not begin to describe how we feel.

Here is a glimpse of our graduation celebrations that brought in friends and family from six hours away to celebrate this special moment.

This is where I thought I was going to loose it .... She put on her cap for the final time.

This is where I thought I was going to lose it …. She put on her cap for the final time.

I loved having all of my children together for this special occasion; my step-daughter Samantha and her huband Justin drove in to stay with us!

I loved having all of my children together for this special occasion; my step-daughter Samantha and her husband Justin drove in to stay with us!

MacKenzie's best friend from back "home" surprised her by coming in for graduation!  We've been planning this treat since November and loved having Sara be a part of our special day!

MacKenzie’s best friend from back “home” surprised her by coming in for graduation! We’ve been planning this treat since November and loved having Sara be a part of our special day!

My three girls celebrating the day

My three girls celebrating the day

You have to love the bond between a brother and sister!

You have to love the bond between a brother and sister!

Of course Audley and I were super proud of this girl, just as we are proud of all our children!

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No momentous occasion is complete without generation pictures ….. I loved having both sets of grandparents in from Alabama and Tennessee for this big day!

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The Jones grandparents

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Watkins Grandparents

For MacKenzie there was nothing but joy.

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graduate

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And the excitement at getting to be the center of attention for the evening.

Class of 2015

Class of 2015

What’s next for MacKenzie?

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She applied to several colleges and universities and was accepted to every one of them.  After several road trips talking to admissions and recruiters, MacKenzie Grace will be attending the University of South Carolina in Columbia in the fall, majoring in Athletic Training.

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We tried our best not to influence her in any way, but allow her to make the decision that fit her best, and it seems USC has exactly what she wants with the clearest plan to make her dreams happen.

And based on her text message I received just days ago when her rooming assignment arrived, we will be doing a lot of planning and decorating this summer.

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And of course I will share it all with you!

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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!

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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!

The Wedding

Our daughter is now a wife.
It seems so surreal.  It seems just like yesterday that I fell in love with this adorable little girl at church and soon thereafter met her father, fell head over heels in love and married him!
Audley & Samantha
Seventeen and half years after Audley and I walked down the aisle, he walked his daughter down the exact same aisle where she and the love of her life were married by the same man who married Audley & I …. my father.
I cried.
So did Audley.
Samantha was beautiful.  There is no denying it.
Of course as her mom I have the right to say this.
It was a sentimental day.
Samantha wore my pearl earrings, a gift from Audley to me on our wedding day.
Her ring bearer’s pillow was made by my mother using fabric from two shirts, one belonging to her great-grandfather and the other to her great-grandmother, both who passed in the last year.
And I made her cake.
And the peppermint bark.
And the cheese wafers, chicken salad, peanut butter cups, cheese platter, pimento cheese, and the champagne punch.
(Samantha picked her menu…. she likes cheese)
The ceremony was beautiful.
It was really sweet.
But the most precious part of my day was adding another son to our family.
I couldn’t be a more proud, happy and very tired mother.
 
Happy Monday Y’all!

It’s a Wedding Reception!


At last, I have time to sit down and post about my catering adventure last weekend!  Now before I get started, let me say, I am not a professional.  I love to plan and entertain which has led to few things on the side like a class reunion last summer and a few family things here and there (like our daughter’s engagement party).   Who knows if I will ever go big, but it’s nice to have a hobby to keep me busy while the kiddos are in school.


1. Wedding cake from last spring 2. Tobacco basket used for serving fruit & veggies 3. Abundant buffet table
4. Basketball cupcakes for 200

When my friend Karla asked me to do her daughter’s wedding reception I was reluctant at first.  I knew that the reception at her oldest daughter’s wedding had been a total nightmare because of a con artist caterer in Ohio and I was terrified of not living up to her expectations!  But, I accepted the task and immediately set to work to create a (hopefully) memorable reception for all.

This particular wedding reception was to be prepared for seventy people.  After talking with the bride and her mother, and looked at their budget we settled on a menu and decorations that fit the season, and her cake, a Nightmare Before Christmas themed cake.

The reception itself was held in a local hotel, one without a real space for a buffet table, so I needed a table that would be the centerpiece of the space.  I also needed something easy to set up as there was a group that had the space before us, leaving little time for a turnover.

But first, I had to nail down the menu.

The menu was a perfect combinations of filling and casual hors d’oeuvres for a late afternoon event.

On the Menu?

Brie (& other assorted cheese) platter
Chicken salad served with assorted rolls
Sweet N Sour Cocktail Meatballs
Crudite Platter
Shrimp Cocktail
Pita Chips with Peach Salsa
Caprese Skewers
Mixed Fruit Salad

For drinks, we kept it all super easy; coffee, tea, and water.

Working within my budget, for the buffet I used mostly white and a couple of blue pumpkins for accents, then scattered tea lights down the table.  The hotel provided all of the linens and tables for our use.  I elevated some of my platters to create a little character.

Nothing is more boring than a row of flat plates.

You can see the backdrop I was working in… rather boring (& I wasn’t allowed to clear the counters per Hampton Inn),  so the table had to be the decoration.

And finally here is my “Nightmare before Christmas Cake” for the bride and groom.

The happy couple

{I will cover more details on the cake in another post.}  

This was the first time I have ever felt confident in executing something this big.  While it was not Colin Cowie fancy (I don’t get paid the BIG bucks he does either!), I managed my time well for getting everything accomplished without being rushed, PLUS I had a mother-of-the-bride who couldn’t quit raving over it all and a bride who took one look at her cake (she didn’t know what it was going to look like …. LONG story) and kept saying “holy moly” with tears in her eyes, over and over.

In the process of this event I have secured a luncheon for 250 people in December and have the boost of confidence that I needed to pull off my daughter’s wedding reception as well!

It’s November which means Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are upon us, and our Samantha’s wedding.  Hopefully I’ll have several things to inspire you for your own celebrations in the coming days!

Linking up with Tablescape Thursday, Inspiration Friday, and Foodie Friday today.