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Talk of the Celebration: Two Retirement Parties!

retirement camp party tableGoodness at the parties we have had in the last week!  You aren’t going to believe how many there have been!  (And it is going to take several posts to share them all with you.)  So let me start with the first one.

My husband had been talking about retiring for some time now, and two weeks ago he finally signed the paperwork to make it official.  After working for the city for over 37 years, his last day as city engineer was Friday, but due to some scheduling conflicts his retirement party at work was last Wednesday.

retirement camp partyThe ladies who planned his wonderful party (with only a week notice of his retirement!) knew he liked camping, hiking, and canoeing so that became the theme for their party.  They asked me to send a couple of photographs to them, and they did the rest.  They used the photos to make signs for the halls and the elevators in the building.

retirement camp party photosRight outside the “party room” they had a table set up with an outdoor photography book and a paddle for everyone to sign as they entered.  What clever and meaningful mementos!  You know those are going in our upstairs room. 🙂

autograph book

 This great camp sign was a collaboration between Mark, who works in Traffic Operations, and Shawn, who works with Code Enforcement.  So you can see, the party was a joint effort between all city sign for retirement party

Little vignettes with camping gear were set up around the room.

retirement camp party backpacksAnd stuffed animals were even brought in to add to the theme. 🙂

retirement camp party stuffed animalMany many people contributed all the delicious food for the event.  They knew my husband loved the banana cake from a nearby restaurant, so they made sure to include it (the one on the left below.)  And Jessica (the Transporation Planner who was one of the ladies in charge of arranging the party) decorated the chocolate cake below to look like a campfire.  Wasn’t that smart?!  She said she melted butterscotch candies and cinnamon red hots to make the “flames” on the cake.

retirement camp party cakes

I just had to get a photo of my husband with Gloria, whom he hired over 20 years ago. She made the meatballs, the buffalo chicken dip, and several other things for the party. (She is a very good cook. 🙂 )

retirement camp party guests

Actually, too good of a cook.  On Wednesday night my husband decided he wanted to bring in a meal for all the people in his building on Friday (like I did for the teachers with whom I worked when I retired last May.) He asked Gloria what kind of ham she liked, and when he spilled the beans about bringing in a meal, she said, “I can bring some bread, and I can bring some deviled eggs, and I can…” That was not his intent at all, but of course, he couldn’t refuse her offer. 🙂

Back to the retirement party.  Our daughter was able to drive down for the party and pop in for a short time when she finished her classes that day.

at the retirement party

All in all, it was a fantastic celebration with great attention to detail in the theme, much delicious food, so many generous gifts, and genuinely heart-felt speeches by many.  I know it meant a lot to my husband.

Now remember I said that party was on Wednesday, and his last official day was Friday.  Well I wanted to surprise him with a party with friends and family on Friday night.  Not only does he like hiking, camping, and canoeing, but he is also an avid snow-skier.  So skiing became the theme for that retirement party.

retirement party ski theme foyer buffetThe thing about doing the party as a surprise was that I could not decorate for it – nor prepare any of the food until after he left for work on Friday morning.  So I ran around like crazy that day!! Luckily, all the winter decor that I have been using since January worked beautifully.  I just added an old Department 56 ski slope to the foyer buffet for a further touch of the theme in there.

ski party foyerTake home treat bags held cups with cocoa mix and marshmallows (yes, again.)
(I had prepared those in secret earlier in the week.)

retirement party ski theme favor bags

retirement party ski theme party favor bagI also secretly created a banner earlier in the week using a paper set from Michaels and large printed out letters.

retirement ski party mantelI put my husband’s skis and ski boots in the corner for added decor.

skisA small chalkboard was covered to make the sign in the dining room.

ski retirement party sign

chili and hotdog toppins in mason jarsI had planned to make beef stew in our crock pot to leave cooking all day. I even had the meat thawing out in secret in our sons’ bedroom. Well guess what was one of the dishes my husband made for his party and took to work that morning in our crock pot? Yep, beef stew. 🙁  Can you believe it??!  Of course, I wasn’t about to tell him he could not take that to work.  So I had to cook the beef stew on the stove.

We had chili, grilled hot dogs with all sorts of toppings, cole slaw, Caesar salad, cornbread, (made by my mom since my oven was full) and apple turnovers with ice cream.  And that beef stew?  An hour before the party, I smelled something burning in the kitchen.  It was the beef stew…and there was no way to salvage it.  🙁 (I’ll never turn the heat up high on those red pots again.)  Luckily, my daughter and her boyfriend went to the grocery store and saved the day by getting tomato bisque for me.  Not quite the same, but a good replacement.

retirement party ski theme tableBeverages were set up on the island.  If I had had a little more time, I would have made a ‘Snow melt” sign for the red dispenser that served water.

retirement party ski theme beveragesThe last of the ski theme was the ski jackets and poles in the hallway.

ski retirement party propsDespite the missing beef stew, everyone seemed to really enjoy the party (and the tomato bisque tasted delicious. 🙂 )  And most everyone stayed late on Friday night.  It was a nice way for my husband to celebrate the beginning of his retirement.

But these weren’t the only celebrations we have had in the last week.  Oh goodness no!  I’ll have yet another one to share with you coming up this week. 🙂

Until next time…

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Cheryl - February 24, 2016 - 12:59 am

What size are your anchor hocking jars on your counter?
Cheryl, the big ones are the 2 gallon size.

Sandy - February 22, 2016 - 8:37 am

Congratulations to your husband on his retirement. I have no doubt the two of you will be touring the country and even to other parts of the world. Enjoy the excitement. I agree with several others, your planning and party decor themes should be compiled and published. So, I will await and continue to encourage you to put on a new hat: author. Of course, I will want a signed copy:)
Too funny Sandy! If I was writing a book, I would be too busy to host parties. LOL
I do hope we will be touring the country some soon. I really want to go to see our son in Seattle. I just wish our other two children had their spring breaks during the same week, but of course, they don’t. 🙁
Thank you for the congratulations for my husband. I know he is going to enjoy retirement.

Becky in 'Bama - February 19, 2016 - 2:35 pm

Yikes…I hope his retirement doesn’t get in the way of your blog writing! 🙂 Those pics showed a lot of planning and fun. You never cease to amaze me with your creativity. You two ‘kids’ should have some great camping adventures to share with your readers. All the best to your husband!

Char - February 17, 2016 - 5:22 pm

How fun to learn that your husband was a city engineer! I am actually the Deputy City Secretary for my city & work closely with our Public Works Department & City Engineer! There is nothing like being in public service & working for the citizens in your community! I always say it takes a special person to work in municipal government. 🙂 Congrats to the both of you & best wishes in his retirement. Love the themes of the parties. So fun!!

DiAnne - February 17, 2016 - 3:10 pm

What a wonderful post! Around these parts, we love a good party for someone and get togethers. Congratulations, my husband retired last year after working 35+ years as a CPA. Loved his work but is also loving being retired. I know you two will have so much fun. Some people struggle with retirement but we didn’t and I bet you won’t either. You guys seem to have so many hobbies and interests.
I look forward to your next party post. I like Katrina, love the campfire cake.

Cheri - February 17, 2016 - 2:49 pm

How sweet that everyone pitched in and made it a theme retirement party instead of just food and your family/friend party was equally wonderful. Now that you are both retired…what are your plans?

Julia - February 17, 2016 - 2:01 pm

Congratulations to your husband on his retirement! The parties looked like everyone had a good time. That campfire cake was so cute! Can’t wait to see the other party of the week!

mari1017 - February 17, 2016 - 11:18 am

I LOVE your parties! Your hubby must be some very special guy to have a fantastic retirement lunch party like that! I just LOVE the campfire retirement cake most of all 🙂 So very clever – I’m storing that away in my idea file for future 🙂 And, of course, your ski party in red and white – how cool and cozy for a Friday evening among friends.
You are wonderfully creative and energetic, Kelly! I can barely keep up with reading let alone all you do LOL Congrats to all – retirement IS a big day – great to see it celebrated in such a fun and wonderful way – twice!!! Happy trails! mari

Donnamae - February 17, 2016 - 9:38 am

Sounds like both parties were memorable! Congrats to your hubby! I hope you two will really enjoy being retired together! 😉

Garden, Home and Party - February 17, 2016 - 8:56 am

What fun the two of you will have, both retired. That is great. Congratulations to your husband.
I love this winter theme. The little snow men are so adorable. I haven’t found any in my region and I guess now it will be next year before they’re around—probably in October, Ha!
Can’t wait to see/read about the next celebration.

Tricia - February 17, 2016 - 6:06 am

Hi Kelly. You never fail to surprise us with your ideas and decor. How exciting for both you and Walter to be retired…imagine what the two of you will accomplish, all the travel, the party planning, family time. Look forward to it all.

Leslie Anne - February 16, 2016 - 11:06 pm

Congratulations to the hubster! The two of you are going to have so much fun on the next big adventure life brings. I think a party planning business is in your future. You’ll give Martha Stewart a run for her money!

Katrina - February 16, 2016 - 9:49 pm

Hip hip hooray! How exciting! I am so excited for both of you! I can’t wait to see all the fun and creative things you two will cook up! Both parties looked fun. I adore that campfire cake! I gotta remember that idea. Bring him this way to go skiing and me, you and Kathy will play!

Cindy T - February 16, 2016 - 9:48 pm

What a wonderful way to start retirement, parties, parties and more parties! Kelly I really envy you being able to pull things together so quickly and I’m sure everyone had a great time! Congratulations to your husband and you..imagine all the traveling you guys can do!

julia walker in Cincy - February 16, 2016 - 9:43 pm

Kelly, You are amazing and so is your husband! I actually got teary when I saw him because he’s done SO much and looks so nice. Congratulations Walter! You two take good care of each other, you hear? Your friend, Julia

Peggy - February 16, 2016 - 6:26 pm

Congratulations to your husband! And you are the Queen of hospitality! It all looks so wonderful and delicious! You have so many great ideas. You should write a book on parties and entertaining. Every detail is perfect! What wonderful memories!

Stacey - February 16, 2016 - 6:07 pm

Kelly, you are a party throwing queen! Thank goodness for friends who help too. Pinning some of your great ideas. 🙂

Dawn - February 16, 2016 - 5:49 pm


I love your themed parties. You do such a nice job at planning, decorating and cooking (except the beef stew opps). I am going to use some of your ideas for my Dad’s retirement party in March. Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to see what else in store.


christi in ma - February 16, 2016 - 4:45 pm

what fun parties to honor your husband!!

what white pen do you use? It looks so crisp and opaque on the red tags. I haven’t found a white pen I love yet.

Lissy parker - February 16, 2016 - 4:36 pm

Congratulations! What a great idea for a party. Have a wonderful plan planning your next great adventure.
xo, Lissy

classic•casual•home - February 16, 2016 - 3:16 pm

I don’t think my last comment published! Congrats to you both…so much fun!!!

Dawn@Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes - February 16, 2016 - 1:53 pm

A wonderful week of cherished memories that will warm your hearts forever! Huge congratulations to Walter! What an amazing party his coworkers planned… from the cute camp sign, to the clever decorations, and that fabulous campfire cake! Kelly, your surprise party was delightful. You are not only creative… but fast, too! Let the fun begin!! ♡

Peggy - February 16, 2016 - 12:31 pm

Many congratulations to your husband on his retirement! My husband just retired last June. It has been an adjustment for sure! There are days he tries to micromanage me but he is getting better about that! HA! I wish you and your husband a wonderful, wonderful retirement full of all the things you love. Also, I loved that campfire cake at his retirement party! So cute and creative. The party you had at your home was great. I just can’t figure out how you do it all and so beautifully at that! All the best to you! Oh, I was going to tell me that your blog really inspires me in many ways. I have been trying to fit in some reorganizing and clutter minimizing since you did you post about cleaning out cabinets, etc. This is not the easiest thing to do as I get to care for my 18 month old grandson on weekdays. But I managed to work on my kitchen pantry and it is the prettiest most organized thing you have ever seen now! HA! Sometimes I just open the door and look in there!

At Rivercrest Cottage - February 16, 2016 - 12:30 pm

congratulations to your husband on retiring so quickly after he decided it was time. Great way to do it. The parties looked wonderful. Happy rest of your lives!

Gina - February 16, 2016 - 12:12 pm

Congratulations to your husband on his retirement!! Now, he can get out there on the slopes before winter is over. 😉 The ski theme was perfect for your party and I loved the outdoor theme for his office party. They did a great job and I loved the campfire cake!! How cute! Haha, your “downhill” sign was perfect. I felt your pain of the beef stew burning. Been there done that! 😛 Worst part is getting the smell out before the guests arrive. 😉 And what a sweet picture of daddy and daughter!! 🙂

Sherry Myers - February 16, 2016 - 12:09 pm

It looks as if a lot of fun was had by all! Everything looked great for the celebration. Congratulations to Walter! My husband retired two years ago and he has never been happier! Freedom is such a wonderful feeling! Can’t wait to see the other parties!

Ruth - February 16, 2016 - 11:47 am

Call the City Engineer, because I think there must be something in the water there that breeds elaborate theme parties! I can only imagine the pressure your husband’s co-workers must’ve felt to do the party right, too, with your example to live up to — and they must’ve channeled your energies, because the result was fabulous! The props, signs and campfire cake? Unbelievable! It is obvious that your husband has been well liked by his crew, because a lot of love and fun went into all those preparations. Loved the way you continued the celebration and even an offshoot of the “outdoors” theme, and I join commentor Kathy in especially liking your downhill skier sign. Beef stew or no beef stew, nobody went home hungry from the skiers’ smorgasbord. And a 3rd party to come? Girl, you would leave the boundlessly energetic Martha Stewart in the DUST! Best wishes to you and your husband for many happy and healthy years together of retirement fun! Something tells me the rocking chairs won’t get much use. 🙂

Kathy - February 16, 2016 - 10:58 am

Everything looked wonderful! Was he surprised? Your ski theme was so creative. My favorite thing was the downhill skier. Did you cut that yourself? I can’t wait to see the next post.

Carolyn - February 16, 2016 - 10:51 am

Oh so very clever! That campfire cake really takes the cake! Congratulations to your husband. My husband and I both retired and it’s great. We’re big on the outdoors, too, so instead of camping we just moved to the mountains and live in our log cabin in the woods. Endless places to hike all around and we can sleep in our own bed!

Arlene@Nanaland - February 16, 2016 - 10:39 am

How husband is retiring at the end of the year so I need to take some notes on parties. My problem is that he does not have any big hobbies!! He is a total Nerdster so I may have to do a Big Bang Theory Themed party!! You will be navigating retirement together. I am rather dreading it in some aspects. I like to have my house to myself but I look forward to traveling and seeing more of the grandchildren.

Barbara Hamel - February 16, 2016 - 10:35 am

Kelly I loved everything, the retirement party was darling. But what I love about you is you never mind telling about a disaster. Like that beef stew! How many times have we all done the exact same thing…….hundreds……..anyways you are a sweet heart and I love the fact that you can share all of that. Bebe

Louvina - February 16, 2016 - 10:12 am

How delightful! Two parties ( and maybe more?) in one week!!? Mercy woman– you are a real party animal!! So much fun!! I loved the campfire cake! So clever!! The beef stew saga was a hoot! But a perfect save with the tomato bisque! I hope you are taking a little rest this week ( but knowing how long it takes to post the blog) probably not! When are you going to “kick back” and enjoy your retirement? I suggest you and your hubby take some time off ( of course, taking your camera along!) and go find some nice snow plus a one horse open sleigh and have a wonderful vacation in New England. What ‘ya think?! GO! And Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow! 🎶

Talk of the Weekend #31

Up Adventure book page on Etsysource

Because today is the day of love, I want to take this weekend post in a little different direction. Several years ago, Sur la Table offered a couple of very cute items in their Valentine’s Day line up.  Unfortunately, they are not available anymore, but all those balloons made me think of the movie, UP.

heart balloons

 Pixar packed so much heart into the montage at the beginning of that movie that it has become more than just part of a cartoon.  It is a love story of a life long love, and what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with that life long love from all things UP? 🙂  Let’s start with the house (of course!)

There have been real homes inspired by the film.

The real Up house for salesource

You can even tour one of them here:


There have been gingerbread houses that are modeled after it.

UP gingerbread housesource

And flying houses like in the movie.

UP movie flying housesource

There have been house plans made of Carl and Ellie’s house.

Up house houseplansource

There have been many sweet birthday parties inspired by the movie…

Like this one.

Up birthday party from Karas partiessource

And cupcakes that recreate the flying house scene.

UP move cupcakessource

There have been cute cookies made to look like Carl and the house.

UP movie cookiessource

An 80 year old couple even made a piano duet video in UP movie style.


Some couples have been so inspired by the movie that they have included many of the elements from it in their wedding.

Paradise Falls fund for weddingsource

My favorite has been this couple’s engagement shoot.
(Part 1 here)

Wildflowers photography Up engagement shoot part 1


Part 2 here

Up inspired engagement photoshoot with Wildflowers photographysource

And the very precious wedding here.

Up inspired wedding shoot with wildflowers photographysource

(If you have not seen it, you really need to click on the link and read the narrative with the shoot.  It’s pretty amazing. 🙂 )

Now let’s take a look at two scenes from the actual movie.

First meet Ellie:


And now the part that has inspired all the love stories..Carl and Ellie’s married life.
(Get your hankie ready.  It’s a real tear jerker.)


Okay, I am not going to leave you all sniffle-ly sad.
Here are a couple of little quizzes you can take just for fun. 🙂

1. Which Pixar couple are you and your significant other? (click here.)


2.Which Female Pixar Character are you? (click here.)
Look who I got!!

Pixar female character

(Not sure that’s exactly a correct analysis, but I’ll take it! )

I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day!
Share some chocolate with someone near and dear. 🙂

Until next time,

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p.s.  This one is for my wonderful-extremely-patient-love-at-first-sight husband.

UP movie valentinesource

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Leslie Anne - February 15, 2016 - 8:04 pm

We love UP so much, one of our dogs is named “Doug” after the talking dog in the film! I love how you research things. I would have never known about these cute ideas!

Amy O'Quinn - February 15, 2016 - 1:20 pm

What a sweet post! I sent the link to my 24yo twin daughters, and one of them told me she was SO going to have a Paradise Falls jar at her wedding. Not that she’s getting married, mind you, nor is she even dating anyone. But she loved the idea! 🙂
Ellie and Carl’s love story makes me cry every.single.time. Such a precious, precious relationship. After all, isn’t that what love is all about? Thank you for sharing. Loved it all!

Claire @ A PREPPY PERSPECTIVE - February 15, 2016 - 12:28 pm

Hi Kelly! Such a sweet post! I love UP too it is a beautiful story so fun and poetic at the meantime! I hope you spent a wonderful Valentine’s Day and that everyone enjoyed the chili!

Gina - February 15, 2016 - 11:14 am

That <3 balloon cup is so cute and I'm not even a <3 fan. Love the balloon cookies too. I must love balloons! 😀

Lynn A. - February 15, 2016 - 9:23 am

I cannot watch the beginning of UP without crying. The relationship between Ellie and Carl make me think of both sets of my grandparents. I do love the movie just have to have a hankie ready at the beginning.

Cheri - February 15, 2016 - 8:54 am

This is a very cute movie and our oldest daughter did the granddaughter’s nursery in the theme of the “Up” movie. My sister in-law also made this baby an “Up” quilt. Cute post and not your typical Valentine’s Day blog post.

Marianne - February 14, 2016 - 11:35 pm

Cute House! Sur La Table is where I first learned the wonderful magic of Cuisinart magic, 1986. Vintage. - February 14, 2016 - 7:41 pm

What a sweet post! I loved the movie, UP. Have a great Valentine’s Day!!

jamie - February 14, 2016 - 2:48 pm

i don’t usually comment on blog sites…but! i REALLY enjoyed this post today! thank you 🙂

Dawn - February 14, 2016 - 1:54 pm


Happy St. Valentine’s Day to you too! Thanks for the super sweet post. We love the movie Up around here. My husband would not go for a house like Carl and Ellie’s for sure. It sure is cute and a fun idea though. Now I am off to take those quizzes. They look fun. Thanks for sharing. Take care.


Donna - February 14, 2016 - 1:14 pm

I love your post . My husband and I feel like we will be Carl and Ellie in our older years . I so enjoy watching the movie and I always cry .
Happy Valentine’s Day to you !

Debra - February 14, 2016 - 12:15 pm

Kelly….You totally had me crying. Ugh, two Kleenex later….What an adorable post. I have not seen the movie but want to now. Carl and Ellie’s Married life…sniff! So cute. That house was adorable, the old couple video sweet. I will have to check out the other related wedding inspires. What a cute post. Happy Valentines Day to you and yours. P. S. I was Ellie too.

Loral - February 14, 2016 - 12:06 pm

What fun! Thanks for the very special Valentine.

Carol Ann - February 14, 2016 - 11:51 am

Such a sweet, sweet post today. Perfect for Valentine’s Day. Thank you Kelly.

Peggy - February 14, 2016 - 10:57 am

Just lovely!

Jill - February 14, 2016 - 10:49 am

I’ve never seen the movie, but what you’ve posted here has given me a good idea of it. Very sweet! Thanks for the bride & groom pics also. I got Ellie too btw, Happy Valentines Day Kelly 🙂

Garden, Home and Party - February 14, 2016 - 10:40 am

What a fun post. I remember the sur la table balloon items, they were charming. Wish I had picked up a mug.
I took the first test and it said we were Mike Wazowski & Celia from Monsters Inc. Ha! The second quiz wouldn’t load properly. I may try it later.
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day.

Frances in England - February 14, 2016 - 9:46 am

This is a gorgeous post. I love all of the colours in Up (and would love a multi-coloured painted house – can just imagine my husband’s face at the suggestion though LOL)

I got Ellie too!

Happy Valentine’s Day 🙂

S u b s c r i b e   b y   E m a i l