We've just returned from a feverish trip to Atlanta, creating a storybook bedroom for Ralph Lauren Home! Look for my take on one of their chic, new bedding collections in the Bloomingdale's catalog this fall. Next up: three shoots this week for my column in Southern Living and one next Wednesday for Woman's Day. Speaking of, did you catch the little soirée that Jaithan and I threw in this month's issue?

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I can't help but feel the nostalgia: It's the last story I ever produced at our farmhouse in upstate New York, where on a bright, humid afternoon last July, a hundred or so of our closest friends gathered in our yard to celebrate summer.   

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That's our friend Ronny in the turquoise gingham apron, toting a tray of avocado- and salsa-topped quesadillas for the shoot. They're one of those super easy hors d'oeuvres you can make ahead of time, then heat and assemble just before guests arrive. The fancy frozen ones are a good option, too. That way, you can get your party on without having to worry about making everything from scratch. Just make it pretty and your guests will never know!  

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Inspiration for the party's color palette—a lemony twist on red, white and blue—came in the form of old-fashion taffy from Hammond's. With a quick coat of spray paint, even the bamboo torches got in the spirit!

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The Pin the Tail on the Donkey game is vintage; I found it at a Goodwill in Wappinger's Falls, while our good friend Debra created the display for the shoot. The candy buffet I set out on the lawn under the very umbrella Jaithan grew up with! Who knew his parents had such chic taste back in the day? I love the little tassels with the stripes.   

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Huge thanks to editors Elizabeth Mayhew and Ayn-Monique Klahre, along with photographer Laura Moss. For the full story with even more inspiration for throwing a beautiful backyard bash of your own this summer, pick up a copy now! 

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