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Graduation: Jimmy Carter, Greg Allman, and The Party

Graduation partyWe interrupt our regularly scheduled blog posts to bring you….Life.  Yes, Life took over for the last few weeks and stole all my blogging time.  I do apologize for leaving you abandoned, and I thank so many of you who wrote to ask if everything was okay.  It was nice to be missed. 🙂  I mentioned in the last post our daughter was graduating from college, and I would be planning a big party to celebrate this milestone in her life.  As I was planning it out, my main goal besides making it nice for her was to be totally finished with everything an hour (or more) before it was to start so that I wasn’t running around like a chicken with my head cut off when our guests arrived.  I planned and planned and planned.

At first, knowing what a Disney fan our daughter is, I wanted to do an Up themed graduation party borrowing ideas from weddings and this party:

Up themed graduation party


I had compiled quite a looong list of ideas, but after spending many hours checking countless sources, I could never find a model house from the movie that was reasonably priced and/or could be completed before the party.  Without that house, the theme would be lacking a major component.  So I abandoned that theme and just went in a different Disney direction…a more mature one.  This wedding had centerpieces, invitations, and table and place cards that would work well for a graduation party:

Disney wedding centerpiecesource

After making a list of items needed for it, I decided it would be too costly and too time consuming (in 2 weeks) to be able to pull it off.  So I started over with a different plan.  In the meantime, I helped some friends plan a big retirement party for a friend – making chalkboards and flower arrangements for it.  (Sorry, I have no photos of it all. 🙁 )I spent a day with my mom on a garden tour for her Mother’s Day gift, (I do have photos of it we’ll see later on 🙂 ) and I spent some time with my sister buying furniture for her son’s first apartment.

And then – and this is the big time killer – I decided the graduation party would need to be held outside in our yard so that it would be accessible to my father-in-law who has a hard time with the steps going up to the house.  Holding that party outside meant hours and hours and hours of work on landscaping by both my husband and me.  It also meant I had to clean the outside of the house, wash and repaint all the outdoor furniture, and get all the pots on the porches and decks replanted with flowers for the summer.  We worked well after dark many evenings during the last couple of weeks.

And then there was all the research/shopping for things for this party. At first I thought about renting tables and chairs, but eventually we decided to borrow a few tables, purchase 4 tables, borrow 4 chairs, and put them with our mismatched chairs.  But if the chairs were not all the same style, they were at least all going to all be the same color – black.  So any chair around here that wasn’t already black got painted black by me. (Yet another job.)

The next few photos show all the pre-party items stacked up in my workroom as it became party central with all the plates (Caterer’s sets from Pottery Barn) and glasses (Hobnail acrylic ones from Pottery Barn.) I found multiple red napkins at Pier 1, so I loaded up on them.  After much searching for inexpensive but nice looking flatware, I found service for 8 at Walmart for $9.99.  It was perfect for an outdoor lunch, so I bought 3 sets of it.

party prep dinnerware and flatwareI researched table linens until I was cross eyed!  I finally found some reasonably priced but good quality white ones at and ordered them.  Then I decided to just use the Ikea fabric that I was saving for new drapes in my master bedroom as the toppers for the tables.  I cut them to panel lengths and washed and ironed all of them.  (Ironing took FOREVER.)

party prep table linens

After surveying our daughter about all her favorite foods, I was able to put together a good menu for the party.  Because I knew we would be spending Saturday with graduation activities very little time would be available for food prep.  I decided to contact The Perfect Pear catering to make a large portion of our dishes. (Everything they make is delicious!) Serving dishes were chosen and stored in the workroom, along with chalkboards and small signs.

party prep serving dishes

Party favors (mini pecan pies)were wrapped and stored in a basket in my workroom.

party prep party favors

Our daughter’s favorite flowers are red gerbera daisies.  I ordered 50 stems from a local florist and made eight arrangements using them, some greenery from a tree growing near the road here, and some babies breath and a few other blooms from our local Kroger grocery store.  You can see my jar collection came in handy here!

party prep flowers

The graduation party was set for last Sunday, but graduation itself was on Saturday.  Here is where the title of today’s post comes in.  The guest speaker for our daughter’s commencement ceremony was former president Jimmy Carter.  He urged the graduates to make world peace and human rights a major part of the goals for their life.  Here he is at the podium.

Jimmy Carter speaking at Mercer University graduation May 2016When he finished, they showed a few video clips from his campaign days on the big screen…

Jimmy Carter campaign videosand a few video clips of the Allman Brothers band from the days when they would play at his campaign stops.  (He said they were the reason he was elected. 🙂 )

Jimmy Carter and Allman BrothersThen Greg Allman himself played as the special graduation music.  Our daughter’s roommate is named Missy – short for Melissa, and her father is a big Allman Brothers fan.  So much so that Missy was named after Melissa in the band’s song Sweet Melissa.  Well guess what was the first song Greg Allman sang at graduation…  Sweet Melissa. 🙂  Let’s just say that made Missy’s day…week…entire life (to quote her)!

Greg Allman Mercer graduationAfter Greg Allman sang, Jimmy Carter and the university’s president presented him with an honorary doctorate degree in Humanities for his work in the arts. A few more honors were presented, and then it was time to award diplomas.  Can you tell our daughter was excited?! 🙂

graduation lineFinally!

graduation 2016And then it was photo time with dad… and boyfriend… and grandmothers… and brother – who made it home from Yale late the night before.

2016-05-15 graduationOh and photos with Missy. 🙂

roommatesWe all then went to dinner at Daphne Lodge.  Sunday, the day for the party, arrived with gorgeous weather.  I forgot to photograph the entire setting before the party, but this shows it in a photo we took afterwards.

graduation party lunch in yardHere is the “guest book” (a notepad) for everyone to sign with their words of wisdom.

graduation party guest bookI think “words of wisdom” might just be the theme for the party.  It was inspired by candles I found at Homegoods.

graduation party guest book tableWe moved some of the porch and family room furniture outside for seating.

graduation party seatingA cornhole game was set up in the yard.
cornhole game for party

Here is the beverage area before the coffee tray was brought out.

Graduation party beverage table

Our daughter loves pie.  So we had a pie bar for our dessert station.  I used ice packs to keep all the food cool outside. Even with the ice packs the chess pie wanted to melt a little, so we moved a large umbrella around to shade the table.  Amazingly, the key lime pies stayed very cold through it all. (Ignore the gold doilies that are trying to fly away here in the photo.)

graduation party pie barThis is the food table.  Besides the catered food, my mother made deviled eggs, a huge fruit salad, and the Ramen noodle and romaine lettuce salad for me.

graduation party lunch food

graduation party food

For the centerpieces, I used small easels (from Michaels) to hold those quote cards from Target that I love….more words of wisdom. 🙂

Graduation party centerpiece

The quote cards were also part of the place cards at each place setting.  (The gold straws and graduation cap straw toppers came from Target – sold separately.)

Graduation party place setting

Under the quote card was a Table Topics question for each guest to discuss with the people around them.

graduation party place setting with Table Topic and quote cards

And here are a couple of tables all set up.

Graduation party

graduation party flowers

(A couple of glasses are missing at the end of the table here because guests had already grabbed them to fill before I took the photo.)graduation party table settings

And here is the guest of honor. 🙂

graduation lunch

It was quite a gathering of friends and relatives.

From babies…



to big kids…


to grandparents…

grad and grandparents

to friends and boyfriend
(and even boyfriend’s sister. 🙂 )


And aunts and uncles and cousins…And when they all left 3 hours later, they took a mini pecan pie home with them.

party favor piesSilly girl!

graduation party favors

And that was the graduation party from start to finish that kept me busy the last 2 weeks.

graduation party tables

You know how I said I wanted to be ready an hour before the party?  Well even with all that planning, and laying everything out, and all that help, (which included my former cleaning lady who has not worked for me in years showing up out of the blue on Friday because she said she owed me cleaning for making her some drapes!) I still wasn’t ready.  We didn’t get to do the balloons for the tables, and I didn’t get to make the turkey sandwiches I had planned on preparing.  We were all still scurrying around as guests arrived.  I don’t think I will ever be totally ready early for any party, but regardless, I still think it all turned out very well.

Later that evening as I was washing dishes, our daughter came into the kitchen, hugged me and said, “Thank you for the great party.”  I replied, “You’re welcome, but I am not doing your wedding whenever the time comes for it.”  She just grinned and said, “Oh yes you are Mom!” 🙂

party tables

I’ll have part 2 from the long ago home tour for you in the next post.  I just felt like I owed you a party for being away sooo long.  Thank you so much for coming back to visit! 🙂

Until next time…

a signature

p.s.  Okay…because you all are asking, I am adding one photo with me in it.  Remember, though, I am the one with the camera.  So that is why you don’t see me in photos. 🙂 (Plus I absolutely hate having my photo taken.)

family photoThere you go. 🙂

You might enjoy these posts:

Margaret - May 18, 2016 - 1:31 am

Hi Kelly so glad to read your post. I actually
went on the web yesterday to see if I had just not been receiing your posts. So glad all is well with you and what a wonderful party you threw for your daughter. Such a lot of work but so worth it. Absolutely beautiful table settings. I guess you will be doing the wedding one day!!!

Gabrielle - May 18, 2016 - 3:28 am

Wow Wow Wow!!! Absolutely beautiful Kelly. I loved it all. Your gardens, flower arrangements, food, everything! Your daughter is gorgeous. Congratulations to her. If I were your daughter, I would want you to help with the planning for my wedding as well.

Lindsey Back - May 18, 2016 - 4:00 am

I laughed when I read that you were running around like a chicken with his head cut off…..I thought you might like to know what we say here in Australia….you would have been running around like a beheaded chook!!! Lovely post thank you so much.

Rosemary - May 18, 2016 - 4:35 am

Yes, you were definitely missed Kelly! I guessed that your daughters Graduation and other aspects of family life were keeping you busy! But I couldn’t begin to imagine just how busy!! 🙂 you’ve achieved soooo much! What a perfect party and how wonderful to be able to have it at home with all your family. Your daughter,as always, looks beautiful and really happy …Congratulations to her!
Like others here,I think you’ll be helping organising and planning her wedding some day … but maybe let others do all the hard work, so that you can just relax and enjoy her special day!
Great to hear from you and thanks for sharing this with all of us!

Patty of Michigan - May 18, 2016 - 5:33 am

Kelly, Wow! You were tied up a bit! This graduation party for your daughter is amazing!! Your yard looked so beautiful. Congratulations to your daughter! I am actually in the thick of planning my daughter’s graduation party. She graduates from high school next week!!! Eek! I have never done anything like this before. We are going a bit crazy around here so I know how you feel. Just praying I get it all done. Your party looked perfect. Congratulations! You were missed! Thank you for sharing this special day with us!

Sandy - May 18, 2016 - 5:54 am

Congratulations to your beautiful daughter. She is very lucky to have an exceptional party planner as her mother. Kelly, everything looked beautiful; your flower arrangements were the icing on the cake. Eager to read your upcoming posts.

Tricia - May 18, 2016 - 6:01 am

Kelly, so happy to see an update from you! Missed your postings but you did say you were to have a busy month. Well, it is 6:30 a.m. and I’ve just finished reading up on your activities. I’m exhausted! I think I was holding my breath throughout releasing it only at the part where you mentioned the caterer. Such a relief to know you didn’t attempt to prepare all the food as well!!

I cannot believe what you achieve in a few weeks, helping your friend and family with their parties and planning for your own. Your yard is absolutely park-like, such a beautiful setting in which to live and hold a party. The flower arrangements are gorgeous, so full and colourful! Imagine painting chairs…the preparation is impressive and the party looks lovely.

Hayley is beautiful and happy, a very fortunate young lady and I look forward to hearing what her plans are. I wish her good fortune. Thank you for sharing! T

Sherry - May 18, 2016 - 6:02 am

Such a beautiful day for such a happy girl! Congratulations, to all of you on this milestone! The party, I know was perfect. Everyone looked like they were having such a great time. What cherished memories you will have! Your creativity still amazes me! Such lovely floral arrangements! The color scheme was picture perfect, and all your hard work came through loud and clear! Hope you can relax at least a little now. And YES! We missed you immensely. I thought I was going to have to resuscitate my inbox! As always, it was worth the wait. Thanks, Kelly for sharing your life with us.

Kay - May 18, 2016 - 6:43 am


Vicki - May 18, 2016 - 6:58 am

What a beautiful party, lawn and family event! You are such a precious, caring and loving soul- your family is so fortunate to have you!

Nan, Odessa, DE - May 18, 2016 - 7:14 am

I was worried about you and yours, checked the site twice a day.
Glad you were having fun, and I know YOU were if you were planning a party!

Now your home, yard, and new serving pieces (flatware, table toppers, etc) are ready for lots of summer fun. ENJOY!

Congrads to your daughter! What is next for her?

PS share Mom’s recipes with us, please

Lin - May 18, 2016 - 7:29 am

You put in your usual effort and talent. Good thing you retired from teaching!

Kim - May 18, 2016 - 7:42 am

Wow, you have been busy!! You have such a beautiful setting for an outside gathering. Looks like a good time had by all and congrats to your daughter.

Claire @ A PREPPY PERSPECTIVE - May 18, 2016 - 8:02 am

Hi Kelly!I loved loved loved this post with all the ingredients of a fabulous party: a lot of love, family and friends, sun, beautiful decors as usual, great organizing tips and sweet anecdotes! Congratulations for this amazing party that really required a lot of work but with such a gorgeous result!and congratulations for your bug girl too! 🙂

Linda - May 18, 2016 - 8:26 am

Family first is as it should be. Thanks for sharing your party. It looked like such fun. What a party planner. Loved all the ideas.

Jo Anne Hayon - May 18, 2016 - 8:35 am

Love your blog. I WAS starting to wonder where you were!!! Glad you were busy, busy and not ill. Love the pictures but where are you with the grad?????

Sandy in FWB - May 18, 2016 - 8:44 am

Life does happen and family is always first. She will treasure the memories of the weekend forever. You did an amazing job. I bet no one missed turkey sandwiches. We are always harder on ourselves than we should be.
Simply beautiful.

Andi Willis - May 18, 2016 - 8:46 am

Congrats to your daughter! I drove passed your house on Sunday during the party. I couldn’t wait for the blog post (I knew it would be coming) to see all the details. Amazing as always!

Leslie Anne Tarabella - May 18, 2016 - 8:52 am

Wow! What an adorable daughter and fabulous party. There’s nothing better than a seated outdoor party on a beautiful spring day! You’ll remember this day for the rest of your lives! Congratulations, and now go put your feet up!

Talia - May 18, 2016 - 9:11 am

Wow! Just wow! You are one very talented woman. What a lovely party – so festive and welcoming. Congratulations to your daughter! May she go boldly into the world!

Karen - May 18, 2016 - 9:21 am

What an outstanding celebration! A picture perfect party, but where is the picture of the graduate and mom? We celebrated a college graduation at my house too, good times! I wsh the weather in Philadelphia was as nice as yours, but, A LOT, of rain didn’t hamper us!

Laura Ingalls Gunn - May 18, 2016 - 9:29 am

Kelly congratulations to the both of you! What an amazing milestone.

Judy - May 18, 2016 - 9:30 am

What a lovely tribute to your daughter’s hard work and dedication! The decorations looked fabulous, and the setting was perfect. This was a great send off to a future filled with possibilities! Congratulations to you both!

Sandy - May 18, 2016 - 9:37 am

Oh, Kelly! You may have outdone yourself with this one! Seriously, you could be a professional event planner! It was just amazing to read and experience via your blog. NO wonder we didn’t hear from you. Kudos and congratulations. You must feel proud!


Cynde - May 18, 2016 - 9:37 am

Congrats on the graduation!!! What a beautiful party too. And may I add thank you for many ideas! Our daughter graduated college this past weekend too with a party planned for June. Same colors too!!! I’ll be heading to Target this week! Simply love everything!

Darla B - May 18, 2016 - 9:52 am

Absolutely loved your set-up and decorations, everything looked so nice, as always you do a wonderful job! Congratulations to your daughter and you and your husband this truly is a milestone in her life and such a rewarding time as a parent to witness our children succeed.

Sue - May 18, 2016 - 9:56 am

Well, wow. That was a pretty and perfect party in every way. I love your attention to detail. And, there is no way you will get out of doing your daughter’s wedding. You are just too good at party planning, I’m sure you are already gathering ideas:-)

Bonnie in Macon, GA - May 18, 2016 - 9:57 am

I remembered that you’d be busy with graduation doings, which would definitely include a party…but, you have been missed! I have also missed your daughter checking in at the desk at the Conference Center. Y’all should come eat lunch in the restaurant sometime.
The party (with all the planning and work) looked amazing, relaxed and fun! It’s fun to hear the realistic ‘how-to’ of the flower arrangements. Thankful that the weather was nice. Everything looked lovely!

Carmen - May 18, 2016 - 10:00 am

Congratulations! Glad you are back! You were definitely missed. As I have mentioned before I love to read your blog before starting my work day. It was tough without you but I’m happy for your amazing event.

Cindy - May 18, 2016 - 10:03 am

Wow! Just WOW!! I wish I was half as organized as you are! You always do such a beautiful job with any task you take on. I love reading your posts and looking at the photos, you are an inspiration!

Janet - May 18, 2016 - 10:18 am

Missed you posts but worth the wait. What a great job! Thank you for sharing the party as well as some of your planning process. Despite my best intentions, I am also always running around at the last minute. Congratulations to your daughter too!

Peggy - May 18, 2016 - 10:22 am

It looks like perfection! What a happy occasion! Congratulations to your daughter!

Shelley @ Calypso in the Country - May 18, 2016 - 10:29 am

What a beautiful celebration! I am sure your daughter appreciates all the work you put in to make it so special. I am sure it will be a day she will always remember! Congratulations on her graduation – and it was great to see you in the picture!

Liz J - May 18, 2016 - 10:29 am

Your party was absolutely beautiful! All the thoughtful, personal touches made it very special! And that setting…just gorgeous!

Marlene - May 18, 2016 - 10:34 am

What a beautiful fun graduation party! Everything you thought of made it so special for the graduate and everyone attending! So much thought and work went into this very special day!!! You are amazing!!! Just beautiful Kelly!

anita - May 18, 2016 - 10:36 am

Now that’s a lot of planning! I too was thinking about the blogs. Totally understand why!
Just having a few people over is work, but, this would be enough to running around like a chicken with its head cut off! I find it’s the little things that do that. Your yard is stunning, the first picture looks like a wall mural! I could see why your daughter would like for you to plan her wedding. You are an inspiration to your readers. (again, taking in a few ideas 🙂 ) Thanks for sharing!

Gina - May 18, 2016 - 10:59 am

I was so excited when I saw a post from you!! 🙂 And what a fun one! Congratulations to your beautiful daughter! What an accomplishment. Now, that party!! Oh my goodness, I loved every detail. Nothing like a southern outdoor setting! It was gorgeous, even if you had to kill yourself with work. 😉 You are definitely an “over-doer.” Haha, I can relate! Mine is making the food though. I don’t think I have ever bought food, I just kill myself by making it all. 😛 You were smart to get help. What wonderful memories your daughter (and you 😉 ) will have of this special weekend. So happy to “see” you too!! No wonder your daughter is so lovely, she takes after her mama! 🙂

Marianne in Mo. - May 18, 2016 - 11:03 am

Wow, you have been busier than I thought! It’s always a lot more than you think when you get the idea, isn’t it? What starts as a simple idea seems to explode into a “what was I thinking?” balloon of crazy! Been there, done that! But even if you ran short of time, I doubt anyone missed a thing. Looks pretty perfect from my view! And I know it was much appreciated.
No matter what your sweet daughter says though, do not cater her wedding!!! You will want to enjoy the moments, and you can’t do that if you are in charge. (Words from one who has been there twice!) I did not cater, but acted as wedding planner for both daughters, and as such, I missed some moments or was too busy to enjoy the party. I want a do-over for both, but hubs said a resounding NO! I don’t know why, it didn’t cost THAT much! 😉

Garden, Home and Party - May 18, 2016 - 11:08 am

This was absolutely wonderful! Every detail is great and the day looks like it was so much fun. Congratulations to your darling daughter! You are so funny—I don’t know how you do it, the planning, finding the greatest little items to make your parties pure perfection.

You and your family look great…sorry your other son couldn’t make it.

Kathy - May 18, 2016 - 11:13 am

Absolutely beautiful – down to every little detail.

patricia gay - May 18, 2016 - 12:10 pm

How very lovely, what a great Mom you are so much love poured into this beautiful day for your daughter. She is very pretty like her Mom. Thanks for sharing.

Cindy hattersley - May 18, 2016 - 12:13 pm

I am in absolute awe of your party planning and execution! I know what you mean about scurrying around no matter how organized you are!! And your daughter is right yes you will because no one will be able to do seeding like you do!!

BJR - May 18, 2016 - 12:14 pm

You throw a great party! Glad all is well and you are ready to blog!

Louvina - May 18, 2016 - 12:23 pm

Oh, glory!! How wonderful! I knew you had been ultra busy and you said the month of May was going to be busy!! I have been checking daily and it was worth the wait! Can I tell you how beautiful everything turned out?!? It looked near perfect!! And you Know you will do her wedding when the time comes, right?! 🙂 She is such a lovely young lady and just know everyone is so proud of her and the boys, too! Thanks for the picture at the end– nice!! 🙂

Lee - May 18, 2016 - 12:34 pm

As always you planned and pulled off a great party! The weather couldn’t have been better!!! And it was so good to have everybody together again for the occasion especially the cousins who live far away and rarely see each other. Now sit back and rest! Enjoy your down time.

Marty - May 18, 2016 - 12:46 pm

What a wonderful party and such sweet memories. Love the pics, all of them, including the one with you.

Sue - May 18, 2016 - 3:15 pm

Did I miss the post on painting your porch furniture? I could have sworn it was khaki colored. (Just nosy – love it both ways)

Stacey - May 18, 2016 - 3:23 pm

You pulled off a great party, Kelly! So many wonderful ideas in this post and your daughter looks so happy. Congratulations to her and to you too. 🙂

At Rivercrest Cottage - May 18, 2016 - 4:18 pm

what a great looking setting for your party! sounds and looks like it was perfect.

Vicki - May 18, 2016 - 5:18 pm

I’m not surprised at all at the beautiful setting but I am very surprised that the weather was perfect. You were blessed with a miracle. Congrats to your daughter!

Carole - May 18, 2016 - 6:47 pm

Another beautiful celebration! You are amazing and so creative right down to the last detail. Loved the outdoor setting and your yard is like a paradise. How much
land do you have there? It doesn’t look like you are in a subdivision. Thanks so much for sharing.

Keith Newberry - May 18, 2016 - 8:40 pm

I really enjoyed this blog.. I’m glad you’re back to writing on it. Tell your daughter that I am so proud of her!!! When I think about the Allman Brother’s Band, I always think about the peach shed. “Eat a Peach” was one of the Allman Brother’s Band’s first albums. This weekend, our daughter get married.. My Dad is too sick and won’t be able to attend. I’m glad the weather was great for your celebration. I hope it will be as good for this weekend??? Take care!!!

Janna Gray - May 18, 2016 - 8:49 pm

Thank you so much for such an enjoyable time celebrating Hayley’s college graduation! Every detail was perfect! Being outside along with the weather cooperating, the delicious food, the beautiful setting, having family and friends together, and being able to spend time and honor Hayley was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Thumbs up to you and all your planning, hard work, and willingness to share your God given talents with each of us!

Cheri - May 18, 2016 - 11:12 pm

Kelly, You create the best parties! I wish when we were planning bridal and baby showers for our girls I could have picked your brain. I can’t imagine that you didn’t get a lot of compliments on everything. You really have a knack for this.

Lynn A. - May 19, 2016 - 10:43 am

What a beautiful party. Thanks for sharing your talents with us. Congratulations to the graduate.

Barb - May 19, 2016 - 1:44 pm

Congratulations to your daughter (and you!). Everything for the party was, as always, beautiful and inspiring.

Peggy - May 19, 2016 - 1:51 pm

Beautiful! What a wonderful celebration of such a big accomplishment! And you deserve Mom of The Year. Your energy, creativeness and organizational skills are amazing and I have to admit very enviable. I hope you get some down time just to sit back and enjoy your family and home!
Thank you for a wonderful post.

Donnie - May 19, 2016 - 6:15 pm

Kelly – I smiled the whole time reading this post. What a wonderful, thoughtful party you pulled off. Now do you get to relax? Bet not, you are always up to something. Thanks for sharing – I love to live vicariously through you.

Kathy - May 19, 2016 - 9:25 pm

What a fabulously wonderful graduation party! I love every single thing you did. The color scheme was so pretty! I can so relate to everything you said and did…the flowers in your jars, the chalkboards, the quote cards, the pie station, those gold straws with graduation caps, the wrapped favors, the holding station where you had everything organized, and even ironing the tablecloths and having them laid out and ready! I had tears in my eyes remembering doing all of these things for our daughter’s wedding….and then Hayley’s wedding comment!! OMGoodness!

Kathy - May 19, 2016 - 9:28 pm

I forgot to say …Congratulations to Hayley! She looked absolutely beautiful and so did you! Congratulations to you all!!!

Jennifer - May 19, 2016 - 11:13 pm

Congratulations to your beautiful daughter! It’s such an honor to graduate from Mercer (I’m a Master’s student there now, Go Bears!). Everything looked so wonderful…you certainly know how to throw a great party!

Debbie - May 20, 2016 - 9:58 am

You did an amazing job on the party! What a wonderful gift for your daughter. And what a compliment that she wants you to do her wedding!! Glad to see a photo of you. You have a beautiful family!!

Cindy T - May 20, 2016 - 7:52 pm

Lovely! Lovely! Lovely! Kelly you absolutely know how to do a party, everything was gorgeous! Using some of your indoor furniture?! That was brave, I can hear my husband now.. He would do it but think I had lost my mind. You really have some great helpers. Glad you put a pic of you, thanks for sharing! Can’t wait for the wedding! 😊

Charlene - May 20, 2016 - 8:31 pm

Absolutely love that party! I am planning our son’s high school graduation party and yours gave me so many great ideas. You just have that special touch to balance elegance with casual comfort. Which, I think, makes for a perfect party. Just beautiful!

Katrina - May 20, 2016 - 9:09 pm

Wow… You have outdone yourself! Kelly, every last detail of this sweet party is spectacular! Many, many congratulations to your beautiful daughter! You’re such a sweet mama to make so many special lasting memories for your children

Ronda Watts - May 20, 2016 - 10:26 pm

Wow!!! Once again, you just amaze me!!! I am in the process of planning my daughter’s graduation party (for next year,2017) and I was so happy to see your post!!!! I plan to retire from teaching (after 29+) years next year too!! So it will be a special year!!!! Thanks again, I am going to pin everything you posted!:) I was worried about you– but I understand how it does take a lot of time to plan and prepare for a party. You are exactly right too– I always think when I host a party I am going to finish an hour or so early– but it never happens!!! Thanks again for being such an inspiration!!!!

Pat in Georgia - May 21, 2016 - 12:43 pm

Wow, the party was amazing and beautiful Your daughter is one lucky girl to have a Mom who planned a graduation party that will be remembered forever! Your yard is gorgeous as was evrything! What a wonderful celebration of a big accomplishment! Congratulations!

DiAnne - May 22, 2016 - 5:10 pm

What a lucky group of graduates to have Jimmy Carter be their speaker. I think they might remember all of this.
What a lovely party for your daughter! I am so happy you were blessed with good weather.
I knew you were busy with life. May has always been crazy town around our house. I missed you though.

Donamae - May 24, 2016 - 8:55 am

Wow! What a party! You have such a wonderful backyard for a party….everything looks so casually elegant! And, the food….oh my! I want to go to one of your parties! 😉

The – No Season – No Holiday – No Party – and No Color Scheme – Home Tour – Part 1

foyer display Talk of the HouseHow’s that for a long title for you?  🙂 We’ve been on a string of travel talk posts for a little while here, so I thought I would throw in a home tour to give you a break from all the trips.

foyer buffet Bob Timberlake for Lexington furnitureAnd this really is a no season, no holiday, no party, no color scheme one that I am really happy to share with you. 🙂

foyer black and white photographsAre you asking Why would you be happy about that?

foyer jar with favorsWell, when we got home from our North Carolina trip I spent a week doing a total spring cleaning from top to bottom here.  And there is nothing better to me than decorating a clean house. 🙂

Can I get an Amen to that?!

foyer buffet with red accentsAnd for the last few years there has been a seasonal tour or a holiday or a party that has driven the decorating around here…every.single.month.  Truly.

family room bookcasesWith the blogger Spring Tour done in March, and St. Patrick’s Day in March, and Easter in March, and my mother’s birthday in March, well that left nothing for April. (Actually there were a couple of things that I’ll tell you about in a minute, but they didn’t require decorating here.)  Wasn’t it strange to not have Easter in April??

family roomSo as I finished cleaning, I could decorate the space however I wanted.
No seasonal anything.
No holiday anything.
No party decor to think about.

family room chair and ottomanI could simply use my favorite color schemes in every room with my favorite accessories.
How easy was that? 🙂

Family room mantel yellow accentsSo the foyer has red books and flowers and little bags of our favorite Chex mix.  Oh, and the black and white photographs are back in place of the dark botanicals there.  And the family room has our collection of vintage cameras back in the jars…

family room antique cameras in jarand yellow flowers…
(that love me even when I don’t water them!)

family room library table by Nautica

family room black and white photosand yellow pillows.

family room living roomNow come on in the dining room with me.

dining room red buffalo check drapesYou’ll see the red buffalo check drapes are back with red accessories in there…

dining room centerpiece

Centerpiece on trayred candles and Oreos and more Chex mix…
Dining room antique cupboard red buffalo check drapes

Dining room vignetteand of course red cookbooks.

Dining room cabinetNow don’t get me wrong.  I do love to decorate seasonally and I enjoy doing parties, but it had been a loooooong time since I had been able to decorate with total freedom.

kitchen plate rackAnd I guess total freedom means I return to red in many spaces. 🙂

kitchenWith total decorating freedom the kitchen chalkboard got a recipe – not a seasonal or holiday one – but one of our childhood favorites – Congo Squares. 🙂

kitchen deskDid you eat them when you were growing up?  (Or perhaps now?)
They make me think of one of my college roommates who always made them. 🙂

Kitchen desk chalkboard recipeNow, I told you there were a couple of things in April that did not require I decorate for them here, right?  Well there were actually two April birthdays in our family – my sister’s and my father’s.

kitchen beverage cornerBut instead of doing a party here, we went to brunch at a restaurant to celebrate.

Kitchen corner red buffalo check drapesAnd there is a little more to April’s story…

You see, this week my husband and I have just returned from a long trip to visit our son in Seattle.  It was a lot of fun, and we saw soooo many beautiful places as we toured the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.  Needless to say, I took a zillion photos, and I will share the trip with you soon.

kitchen cookbooksIn the meantime, I am working on helping some friends with an upcoming party and planning our daughter’s college graduation party that will be here before we know it.  (Weren’t we just moving her into her freshman dorm??) Anyway, I may be absent from the blog for a bit, but I will try to pop in with part 2 of this nonseasonal tour soon.  May is going to be busy! (But when it is over there will be LOTS to share!)

Until next time…

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Sandy in FWB - April 30, 2016 - 10:57 pm

I so enjoyed your no holiday, no party, no everything home tour. Sometimes it is so pleasant when things calm down enough to just enjoy the home without the fluff. Your home is always beautiful!
Thank you Sandy! You always leave the sweetest comments. Maybe it was the calm that made it even more fun to decorate. I didn’t even think about that! 🙂

Bonnie A. - April 30, 2016 - 11:04 pm

I always enjoy your posts. And, I just happened to be checking to see if I read the latest one, when this one popped up from today. Although red is not one of my chosen colors (except during certain seasons), I absolutely love how you use it and it pops out in so many ways! Thanks, Kelly for sharing. Glad you had a nice visit to the northwest.
I’m so glad you enjoy the posts Bonnie. Thank you for your compliments on all the red around here! The northwest was beautiful, and we were luckily spared all the rain for most of our trip.
Hope you are enjoying your weekend! 🙂

Lindy James - May 1, 2016 - 12:52 am

There seems to be very few months of the year where no specific decorating is done. I look forward to those months when your home can be enjoyed just as it is. One of our favorite vacations when the kids were young was a steamboat ride down the Colombia River outside of Portland, loved the waterfalls! Glad you had a great visit. Our next vacation in two weeks is our annual trip to Maui. Take care, Lindy
How fun! Maui is on my bucket list for sure! What a beautiful place to vacation. I did not know they did steamboat rides on the Columbia River. We will have to check that out the next time we visit that area. Thanks for the info (and yes the waterfalls in that area were amazing AND numerous.)
Have a great trip Lindy!

Nancy H - May 1, 2016 - 8:03 am

I love your home and the wonderful way that you decorate it! I love all the details…even the Chex Mix with the red M&Ms!
You have a good eye to spot those M&M’s Nancy! 🙂 Thank you for your sweet compliment on the decorating.
Have a happy Sunday!

Tricia - May 1, 2016 - 8:04 am

Hi Kelly, what a great feeling to have done your spring cleaning, be able to showcase your favourite items, and be home to enjoy them. Hope you enjoy the peace and quiet before your busy May.
Yes, it IS a good feeling to have all of that done. I am really thinking I don’t want to change a thing around here for a while! May is about to get busy, but I will enjoy the rest of this weekend before the craziness starts. 🙂
Thank you for dropping by and leaving your kind comments Tricia.

Gabrielle - May 1, 2016 - 8:10 am

Thank you Kelly.Your home always looks so warm and inviting. Coming from Australia, I have never heard of Congo Squares. But they do look worth a try!
Thanks Gabrielle! Congo Squares are delicious, and they are pretty much like blondies (if you have heard if them.)
Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

Patti - May 1, 2016 - 9:09 am

Love your red buffalo check curtains! Are they from Country Curtains?
Glad you like them Patti. They are not from Country Curtains. The checks in ours are much larger. I made them from a fabric I ordered from Forsyth Fabrics – their 4 inch red check.

Carol Ann - May 1, 2016 - 9:18 am

Love this post… it’s just as much fun to clean, decorate and enjoy for no reason as it is for the holidays and special events. It is getting to take a breath and step back and look around (with no pressure) that makes these times so sweet. Thanks for sharing a post for no special reason….that made it extra special!
You are so right about taking a breath in cleaning and decorating! Sometimes we all just need that; don’t we? I am so happy you enjoyed the post.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment Carol Ann. 🙂

Judy Miller - May 1, 2016 - 10:02 am

Oh my, I can remember making Congo Squares when I was in high school!! That was soooo long ago. Kelly, I love your design style and I love red in the kitchen. Your entire home is so beautiful and comfy looking, a home to relax in, a place where everyone is always welcome. Yes, I want to see Part 2. But please enjoy the time off with your family because that’s what it’s all about.

Bonnie Schulte - May 1, 2016 - 11:04 am

You had me at the Book Shelves. Love, love. love…

Keith - May 1, 2016 - 12:14 pm

Glad you guys had a great trip to Seattle!!! Congratulations in advance to your daughter’s graduation!!! May is going to be too busy for us….

L. - May 1, 2016 - 12:39 pm

I so enjoy your blog and loved this post very much! I was wondering if you could post the recipe for Congo Squares? I’ve never had them and would love to try them. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with all of us.

Wanda - May 1, 2016 - 12:58 pm

Very nice tour. I have always admired your black & white photos and was glad to see their return. This post has inspired me to finish my spring cleaning and decorate. Thanks

Sherry - May 1, 2016 - 2:54 pm

Your home looks good, party or not, season or not. I never tire of looking at it and your creativity. Still covet your Bob Timberlake cabinet in the foyer every time I get to see the full view. I can still remember the first time I ate Congo Bars and who gave me the recipe when I was a young bride. A beloved aunt who passed away just a couple of weeks ago. I think I will make them sometime this week in her memory. Thanks, Kelly.

Debbie S. - May 1, 2016 - 4:37 pm

Yes, you have an “Amen!” : ) Decorating/redecorating a clean house is a joy!

Rebeca Savela - May 1, 2016 - 5:54 pm

Gorgeous home tour! I think the title is hilarious also! 😉 I am crazy about the buffalo check curtains in your amazing kitchen!!!! 😉

Peggy - May 1, 2016 - 6:22 pm

Your home is a delight to the eyes and so peaceful. The pops of red and yellow are my favorites. And what are those little yellow flowers, I don’t recognize them? Sounds like May will be very busy for you so enjoy your putzing time while you have it. Can’t wait to see your trip photos of Columbia River Gorge. This was our favorite vacation while our kids were growing up.

Julie in Asheville - May 1, 2016 - 6:25 pm

Lovely as always, Kelly. Looking forward to seeing those photos from the Seattle area. BTW, where do you buy your candles? I’m just not a shopper, but when I do look for them, can’t seem to find any at a reasonable price. It is a good thing you retired this year, if you hadn’t, where would you have found the time to do so much?

Jean - May 1, 2016 - 7:10 pm

I love your home. You are motivating me to clean!! 😉 Also, can you tell me how you do that beautiful, clean chalk=lettering? Thank you and happy Spring!!

mari1017 - May 1, 2016 - 7:12 pm

What a beautiful clean 🙂 peaceful and inviting home you have made for you and your family. Love it! I noticed Home Song, a wonderful book by LaVyrle Spencer. She is one of my favorite authors, and seeing this title reminded me of her and reading her again. Miss her writing – loved her stories!
Doesn’t time fly? Just yesterday my sister’s oldest was baking cookies in her kitchen with an oversized chef’s hat…Saturday he is graduating from GA State with his Masters in Sport Marketing and Mgmt! His entire family is flying in from Vermont for the weekend in Atlanta and the ceremony. Where does the time go???
Have fun with all your future endeavors. Love your blog!!! ♥♥♥

DiAnne - May 1, 2016 - 8:09 pm

Your beautiful house is inspiring. If I had chez mix bags in a jar, I would be snacking all the time. I like the way the mix looks in the jar.
I look forward to your Washington and Oregon posts. What a beautiful part of the country!
Time sure flies by, especially when one fun event runs into another.

Jackie Causey - May 2, 2016 - 7:28 am

Please share your source for the dining room light fixture. Been looking for something with with a shade. Thanks

Louvina - May 2, 2016 - 12:13 pm

Home Sweet Home!! Enjoyed seeing your home as you like it– so relaxing! You home always looks so inviting. Time for you yo be able to read, relax or whatever you want. Enjoy! You deserve it!:)

Gina - May 2, 2016 - 1:17 pm

I always love to see your home no matter how it is decorated!! 🙂 I always feel inspired to go “fluff” my home after visiting. Today, I am loving your little vignette on your dining room table. I need to move some herbs from mine to outside so now I am thinking of doing something like yours. 🙂 I’m going to look up the congo squares recipe too. What a fabulous trip you must have had. Can’t wait to hear. Enjoy your month and all the festivities coming up. Happy Mother’s Day too!! 🙂

Garden, Home and Party - May 2, 2016 - 4:07 pm


Your home is lovely no matter what, but I do really like the yellow and black you have in the great room. I can only imagine how relaxing it is for you to have a little break from entertaining!

Enjoy your break and we’ll be eager to hear what you have for us upon your return.

Arlene@Nanaland - May 3, 2016 - 9:02 am

Sometimes our eyes and our senses need a rest and I agree that a nice clean house is a blessing indeed. I do love your pops of red as that is my favorite happy color!! Your home is beautiful on its own Kelly and I enjoyed seeing it in repose. I am going to look for some of those big jars as I love your idea of keeping a special treat in them. My grands would love that!!

Karen - May 3, 2016 - 9:46 am

Love your home Kelly. I enjoy your blog always bright and breezy

Barb - May 3, 2016 - 2:29 pm

To me, your house is perfection. Of course, I am now craving a glass of milk and a handful of oreos 🙂

blondchick44 - May 3, 2016 - 9:07 pm

Can’t wait for the pictures of Seattle, a place I love!!

Always love your home no matter what you do to it!

Stephen Saint-Onge - May 4, 2016 - 10:42 am

Love this posting. All looks great. Love that kitchen and the use of family photos on the backsplash area! Keep the great work!

Cindy - May 4, 2016 - 1:24 pm

I also grew up eating/making Congo squares! They are so delicious and easy. It has been a while since I made some. I’m thinking this weekend I will have to bake a pan 🙂

Your house always looks beautiful, no matter the color scheme/holiday/season! I don’t know where you get your energy but I wish you could bottle some up for me 🙂

At Rivercrest Cottage - May 5, 2016 - 1:16 pm

Everything in your house looks nice and clean and tidy. Good luck with the parties.

classic•casual•home - May 8, 2016 - 1:00 pm

That was a fun tour…I get you about the pleasure in decorating a clean home?

Our son graduated last year and now it seems so long ago. Enjoy!

Happy Mother’s Day!
Mary Ann

Kathy - May 9, 2016 - 12:44 pm

Hey, Kelly! Everything looks wonderful in your “clean house” post! I love the black and white photos of your children back in place. Also, I like the way you have just a few vintage items. They always jump out at me and give me ideas of things to be on the look out for. (I am still looking for a bingo cage.) Looking forward to your trip post.

Robyn - May 10, 2016 - 9:19 am

I love your home and so enjoyed your no party, no holiday home tour! I always look forward to your posts!

Claire @ A PREPPY PERSPECTIVE - May 10, 2016 - 3:44 pm

Welcome back Kelly! You totally get my Amen about decorating a clean house 🙂 And I totally agree with you about the pleasure of a free decorating time! Your home looks amazing even without a special theme or decor, you know? 🙂 It feels so welcoming and cozy like that!
Can’t wait to discover the pics of your trip and the upcoming party too!
I wish you a wonderful day,

Catarina G - May 12, 2016 - 10:08 am

Where are you, Kelly girl?! Twelve days without a post?! I am going insane without your photos! Is everything ok with you and your family? Love U.

Cindy - May 13, 2016 - 7:09 am

Are you okay? If you are off somewhere having fun, or busy with your daughter’s graduation fine. But just let us know you are okay.
We love you and selfishly miss your post. So just give us a shout out.
I received my goodies, they all came that Monday. Thank you so much. Cindy

GLORIA - May 17, 2016 - 5:09 pm


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