Thursday, August 16, 2012


The Big 30! I turned thirty this summer. I. Turned. Thirty. I can remember my parents turning thirty! That is bizarre. But let me tell you – I am thrilled to be thirty!

Some neat things happened in the three decades beforehand but I am truly excited about this triple decker decade… and beyond! There are some fun things in the works for the next while and I am full as a tick with anticipation – wondering as I seemingly wander across The South! For my thirtieth birthday party, my friends and family were faced with a dilemma – how do you plan a party for James? He plans parties and events for folks all over Dixie but what about a party for him? So the story goes…


I have always said that I wanted a constellation of birthday parties – not just one big shindig. I want small, intimate gatherings of close friends and family throughout the year to celebrate this milestone birthday, and thus I have started the constellation of fun! Maggie and David Griffin hosted a divine (and complete surprise as a matter of fact) lunch for me when Mere Mere and I were en route to Highlands. A fantastic and delicious lunch with my baby sister and two friends I have known most my life – exactly what I wanted. Other friends have taken me to dinner, had lunch, or called to chat as parts of my Pearl Jubilee! Ha! Let the cluster of soirees roll!

Since I am fortunate enough to travel around The South, tour incredible homes and places, dine with amazing folks in equally amazing venues, all I really wanted for my birthday was a simple dinner with my family and close friends. Logistics had to play a part, and Highlands became the venue of choice. I have been adopted by a couple of families in Montgomery who summer in Highlands and these folks have honestly become like a family to me. Combine them with my blood family and you’ve got a party!

Well, first things first. I got wind of the party. It was just too fishy that my whole family was going to be staying in Highlands a couple days after my uncle’s wedding in North Carolina. It was just too suspicious that pictures of me over the years were missing from albums and frames. It was just a bit odd that my Montgomery family and my Georgia family were talking so often – not that the groups aren’t allowed to intermingle, the circles just don’t interlace that often. Thus, a dinner in Highlands ensued and a marvelous time it was!


Since I can’t just sit still and watch my own party being set up, I hopped onto the scene and set the tables and cut some of my absolute favorite flowers (it was my party after all). Lady’s mantle, Annabelle hydrangeas, Nikko Blue hydrangeas, Southern wood ferns and oak leaf hydrangeas too filled a Provencal jug and fronds and flowers tussled out of mercury glass vases. Settings of dinnerware I love depicting woodland animals and mixed with peasant mats and fun flatware all flowed just fine in the gorgeous mountain setting.

This house in Highlands was designed by Greg Tankersley – principle partner of the famed architecture firm McAlpine Tankersley. I have always told Greg and the homeowners that I wanted to have a party in the garage! It is framed by four eyebrow stone arches with views into the woods, the home and the garden. Well, the first party to be held in this Taj Garage (my garage is full of everything but cars – this ain’t your typical garage mind you) just happened to be mine! I am honored to be the inaugural event for this venue! 

As for presents, I specifically asked for none. Now this is a bone of contention among my family. I do not need anything and if I do want something, I work hard to try and get it. Mimi though says that I “rob the joy of giving from the giver.” Ouch! Mimi cut to the quick with that one. So I asked my family for only practical gifts and boy was I pleased! Chick-fil-A “moo-lah,” a Southern Tide shirt I had my eye on and a gift card to Target – what more could I want?! But the true surprise of the party was Aunt Kathy’s gift – thirty cards with hilarious family pictures and family jokes. She and our dear friend (and our fabulous graphic designer) Stephanie Davis put these together and sent yours truly along with the party goers into hysterics! We laughed out loud. Now, in this day of texts and emails noting LOL, I feel that we actually sometime forget what it means to laugh out loud! Deep down belly laughs, tears, soul stirring breaths and, for me, wheezing – that’s laughing out loud! And so we did!

And that is what I wanted for my birthday – an evening with my fam and cherished friends. Bring on the thirties! I feel the best is truly yet to come!

The cards!!!!!




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