A month in Italy to create art – a dreamy opportunity! How did this come about, you may ask. Here’s a quick art recap of how Steve’s Artist in Residence at La Fortezza came about and the fabulous results.
You may remember last fall, Steve taught a painting workshop at Annette Joseph’s 9th century villa, La Fortezza. It was full of creativity, laughs and exploration. That lead to this offer from Annette, be the first Artist in Residence, creating work inspired by the region. And he said YES! So, this past July, he did just that, creating a body of work that reflects the history, geography and beauty of the Lunigiana region. Truly a gift to focus on art for a full month.
If you haven’t been to this part of Italy, add it to your travel bucket list. Lunigiana is a historic region between Tuscany and Liguria, drenched in history, unique foods and breathtaking views.
Being familiar with the town and nearby art store, Steve knew what supplies he needed to take and what he could purchase there. So, with brushes and paint in hand, he spread out in the spacious studio, working on many canvases and paper pieces at once, as the inspiration moved him.
One of the benefits of being in one place for a longer period of time is you make friends with the locals. This was especially helpful as Steve wanted to make copies of historic rare books and ephemera at the local rare books archives, to incorporate into his paintings. With some patience and help with translating, he got more than he needed, including the Roman soldier seen above, an atlas of the region from 1785, and a lawyer’s goat skin bound book of contracts from 1635, all incorporated into various works of art.
It wasn’t all painting, there was cooking to be done, in Annette’s fabulous kitchen, plus visiting local museums, sites and an artists’ co-op. Check out Annette’s many workshops here.
One of the artists shared some scrap chunks of Carrara marble with Steve. What an amazing new conduit for his art, another blessing from travels and learning from new friends.
How does one end such a wonderful month of painting? With a show of course! A downpour didn’t dampen our spirits either. The food truck brought the food inside the studio where our friends, local and from afar, ate, drank and danced into the night.
The next day, we packed up the art, said ciao to La Fortezza, and headed to the iconic beach town, Forte Dei Marmi, the perfect way to cap off a jubilant July.
We’re tickled at all the requests for this easy recipe, and happy to share. It will become part of your baking repertoire for sure. If you missed the Sour Cream Cake recipe, jump back to this blog post.
Good old Food Network and Alton Brown came to the rescue for a simple royal icing and here’s the recipe. Always looking to change things up, Steve decided to incorporate the delicious Jackson Morgan Southern Cream in Salted Caramel.
Just add a few colorful touches like the Creative Candles votives, pretty Mottahadeh plates, and these darling monogrammed napkins from The Preppy Stitch, and you have a dessert party.
Let us know if you make this cake and icing, and if you use a special ingredient in the icing. Tag and follow us on Instagram and/or Facebook. Happy baking!
As promised, here is Steve’s family recipe for this easy sour cream cake. It’s a family recipe from his Aunt Judy, awarded with the coveted placement in several church cookbooks. Beloved for its versatility too, Steve added this drizzle Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel icing, or you can take advantage of fresh fruit like strawberries and peaches, finished off with a dollop of whipped cream on top.
Sour Cream Cake
3 cups cake flour (we really did sift the flour per the instructions) 3 cups sugar 1 c. sour cream 1 c. butter, softened 1/4 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. vanilla 6 eggs, separated (You will beat the egg whites into stiff peaks)
Sift flour; add soda and sift again. Cream butter and sugar thoroughly, and add egg yolks, one at a time. Add flour and sour cream alternately. Add stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake in a greased and well-floured angel food cake pan or bundt pan. Bake at 300 degrees F for 1.5 hours. Let cool 10 minutes, then flip on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
When Paige Minear suggested this delicious collaboration, Steve knew exactly what cake he wanted to pair with the Jackson Morgan Southern Cream Salted Caramel deliciousness. So he called Aunt Judy in Kentucky, she texted the recipe, and now we get to share it with you. We baked it in a bundt pan like this one. Individual bundt cakes would be a fun at everyone’s place setting for a special celebration, or just because it’s Monday. Then you could set out separate toppings (think sprinkles, fruit, chocolate chips) and let everyone dress their own cake.
With a little planning, you can whip up this simple cake first thing in the morning, before the kitchen gets too hot, and then you’re done. Voilà you have dessert and you’re a hero!
How do you showcase your desserts? I love to bring out one of our cake stands, either my grandmother’s pressed glass cake stand or a colorful Deruta Italian cake stand, a souvenir from our travels. As they say in show business, it’s all about the presentation.
If you do bake this Sour Cream Cake, please share a photo of your cake with us on Facebook or Instagram, using the hashtag #InspiredTailoredAuthentic #stevemckenzies. Happy baking!
Everyone enjoys a little dessert. For a simple icing, Steve whipped up confectioners sugar, vanilla, fresh mint and added Jackson Morgan Southern Cream in Salted Caramel for a little something special. Perfect!
Wait until you try Creative candles! Honestly, we’ve used their Paris Gray candles for every occasion for years. After seeing these in person, we may change to Paige’s summer collection as it’s so cool, soothing yet vibrant.
Keep cool in the kitchen and enjoy a summer dessert with your family and friends. We’re happy to share our recipes and tips with you. Just send us a message!
If you haven’t visited the Southeastern Showhouse yet, make plans to do so right now! Your senses will be delighted with design, inside and out. I had the privilege to tour the Southeastern Showhouse, thanks to Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, and will share some highlights. There is so much to take in, you need to take the time and visit for yourself, relish in these design details.
Built by Southern Gentry Homes, this 6 bedroom, 7 bath, 12,000 square foot home flows effortlessly on this scenic property.
The kitchen and keeping area took my breath away. Yvonne McFadden is a master of natural materials, yet balances the mood with a sophisticated tone. Definitely a fan of the open shelving design!
Then you move outside to this cool, sexy space by Tish Mills Kirk –
The design community gives us such richly layered rooms, so many details to absorb and enjoy. As a designer, it’s a privilege and responsibility to bring out the best of a space and experiment a bit, like Steve did in the Macon Showhouse in 2017.
Here are some glimpses into the masterful bedrooms, beginning with the master bedroom designed by Huff-Dewberry.
Now we’ll move upstairs for sunsets, canopies, and more…
There’s no better way to ignite your creative spirit than by visiting special hubs of design, like this one. Where does your eye go first? What does your eye linger upon? Whether you incorporate these details now or later, remember how they make you feel.
Happy May! That means Mother’s Day is soon, and we have a beautiful way to celebrate with Mom – a magnolia wreath class with Erin Weston of Weston Farms.
On Saturday, May 11th, join us for the morning class and make your very own lush, full circle magnolia wreath. A light lunch is included, so bring a friend or Mom to make it a memorable time together. Class starts at 10am and tickets are $150 with limited space. Click here to get your tickets.
In the afternoon class, from 2pm – 3:30pm, you’ll make the famous Parris magnolia Bowtie swag. Perfect for the table, above a piece of art, or as a gift to mom on Mother’s Day. Tickets are $50 and available here.
Did you know these magnolia pieces will last for up to a year, sometimes longer?! That means you will enjoy them for all the seasons. Maybe you’ll tuck some fresh seasonal flowers in amongst those velvety leaves, or a bit of sparkly ribbon for Halloween and Christmas. The possibilities are endless!
It feels good to make something with your hands, and as a mom, a hand-made gift is so much more special. We hope to see you at one of these fun-filled classes!
And when you visit the Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens, snap a photo in front of Weston Farms magnificent magnolia wall! Get details on this ever-popular spring showhouse here .
Spring means daffodils, tulips and the High Point Furniture Market! If you’re heading to High Point, we hope our paths cross at one of these exciting events. If not, follow along on Instagram to meet some talented friends and see the latest with Steve.
Here’s a quick run down of the action, a Saturday floral arranging demonstration at 2pm with none other than Mottahedeh and New Growth Designs. Stop in and say hi!
So you did it, you invited some friends or work pals over to your place for some nibbles, beverages, and relaxed conversation. Bravo! Now, read on for some easy entertaining tips from Steve and Jill McKenzie and the team at Mottahedeh China. Your goal? A memorable and care-free evening for all.
Let’s start with a gorgeous Atlanta sunset. Then add an array of colorful Mottahedeh china, and really use it for food, flowers, holding cutlery, and more. Let’s use the good stuff!
Add some height and soothing candlelight on the buffet table. Steve swears by a variety of candle heights for visual interest and light.
Keep the food simple – finger foods and here’s a tip, many larger groceries, like Whole Foods offer catering menus. Don’t forget another of our favorite’s, Aldi’s, for cheeses and charcuterie meats, nuts, and sweets.
That’s it, easy and simple entertaining with friends, flowers, and simple food. Whether it’s celebrating the end of the week or something more like a baby shower, it’s about connecting with friends and loved ones.
After a super busy week last week, we’ve had time to breath this week and read a bit, work a lot, relax a bit. Enjoy some of our “Best of the week” thoughts for this pre-Halloween season.
Best of High Point Market – Hands down, the Selamat Designs showroom won! Full of texture, shapes and natural materials, there’s something for everyone.
Best of TV this week – The Great American Read finale on PBS was Tuesday night, with a countdown of the America’s most-loved 100 books. Check and see how many you have read. What do you think is the #1 book? And no, it’s not H.P...
Best of Shopping this week – We are seriously making our Christmas shopping list now, to take advantage of the Camp Twin Lakes Partners Card. Get your card at any number of local retailers or save $10 and get a mobile card online, then use it from Oct. 26 to Nov. 4 to receive a 20% discount on 450+ participating retailers and restaurants. You’ll be helping a local non-profit provide camp experiences for children with serious illnesses, disabilities, and other life challenges.
Cheers to the weekend, and feeling good and doing good!
Fall is here so let’s embrace pumpkin spice everything, and get ready for the holidays!
We’re so pleased to once again partner with the talented Shelly Dozier-McKee on Saturday, Oct. 20th for an inspiring class, How to Style Your Bookshelves, to be held at Verde Home.
Space is limited, so click here to get your tickets right away.
Next up is the venerable NMP Gift Show (Northside Methodist Preschool), held every November in Atlanta featuring a curated selection of original art and gifts from talented local artists. Artist and interior designer, Steve McKenzie will be there for the third year in a row with his fine art prints, original art, greeting cards, pillows and home decor featuring his iconic fabrics. Mark your calendar for opening night Nov. 8th, Nov. 9th and 10th. Admission is only $5 with proceeds benefitting the preschool scholarship fund.
Get your holiday spirit on with our friend Shelly Dozier-McKee (Did you know she was runner up in a 3M gift wrapping contest??) for the Creative Gift Wrap class on Saturday, Dec. 1st at Verde Home. Last year, the guests all applauded her! Again, tickets are selling quickly, so click here to get yours.
It’s time to make our own memories this fall and holiday season!
We’ll see you soon~follow us on Instagram for behind-the-scenes snippets and specials too!