Lots of Summer Left for Floral Fashions

As you’re checking out the online sales this month, feast your eyes on some floral fashion beauties that caught my eye, including a super versatile wrap dress, fun floral heels from Sam Edelman to take you dancing, and who doesn’t love floral fashion by Johny Was?!

fashion, Selamat Designs, Verde Home, Hazen jewelry
Jill McKenzie in cool linen Photo credit: Kathryn McCrary

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG Floral-print cotton and silk-blend wrap dress • Diane von Furstenberg • $228
Sophia Webster Lilico Leather Slides • Sophia Webster • $130
BB Dakota Kirsten Dress • BB Dakota • $95
Hazel Pointed Toe Heel • Sam Edelman • $72–140
Johnny Was Milla Long-Sleeve Floral-Print Blouse • Johnny Was • $135

 

Don’t you love this statement jungalicious chair by Selamat Designs?  So grab a chilled lemonade, relax and smile.  Happy Friday!

 

September Painting Workshop in Italy

Need a creative recharge?  Who doesn’t?!  How about an Italian abstract painting workshop?  Complete with lodging, instruction and all supplies, and no previous experience necessary, just bring your enthusiasm for art, Italy and creativity.

Steve McKenzie is leading an abstract painting workshop at Annette Joseph’s magical La Fortezza in northern Tuscany on Sept. 19 – 24th.  Inspiration is everywhere!

italy, painting, Steve McKenzie
Inspiration abounds at La Fortezza

We were lucky enough to visit Annette earlier in May.  The magic begins as you approach the home, and up on the mountain sits Annette’s fortress.

Italy, workshop, painting
La Fortezza up on the hill

 

Annette, styling expert and author, has created beautifully appointed living and working spaces, as well as incredibly comfortable guest quarters for the students that are unparalleled. It feels a little like a visit to a monastery where furnishings and the views take you to a place of contemplation and inspiration.  We’ll do a bit of shopping too, as part of the class, visiting the local market and antique shops.

Italy, painting, workshop

These cozy places, coupled with a superb cocktail, and nibbles,  encourage congregation and conversation.

We were greeted in typical Annette fashion with a delicious, as well as beautiful, Aperitivo of Negroni and nibbles, taken straight out of her new book Cocktail Italiano. A delicious dinner of pasta and salad followed, just reminding me of what a talented cook Annette is.

I am excited that a cooking lesson in the commercial kitchen will be part of our fall workshop. Can’t wait to cook on her La Canche stove!

Italy, pasta, wine
Simply Scrumptious Pasta
Italy, olive oil, painting
Stylish Kitchen Vignette

I strolled over to the La Fortezza vineyards with Annette and Jill. The beauty of this location really spoke to me and inspired me to paint en plein air.  During the workshop we will take a picnic lunch out here and paint, eat and drink. The colors and vistas are one of the most inspirational places I have visited.

Italy, painting, Steve McKenzie
Vineyard View for Plein Air Painting. Photo credit: Jill and Steve McKenzie

 

On the stroll back to the house, I filled the market basket with wild flowers from the property as well as colorful roses from her rose garden. The most beautiful arrangement quickly came together in a beautiful pitcher from Annette’s copper collection. We will incorporate a quick floral arranging lesson during my workshop as well.

La Fortezza Floral Arrangement

 

I can’t wait to return and share all the fabulous experiences with my students during the workshop September 19-24, 2018.

Ask Steve why he is holding this boar head!

 

There are only a few spaces left, register today, and as they say in Italy, Ciao!

 

 

 

5 Stress-free Gift Giving Solutions

I don’t know about you, but gift giving stresses me.  I agonize over what to give a loved one.  Will they like it?  Will it be in the way and not loved?  I’ve found 5 winning solutions – subscription boxes that take the headache out of gift giving and make you a hero all year long!

gift stress
Enjoy the occasion with these subscription box gift ideas – no stress!

It’s simple really, think about what your friend enjoys – coffee, beauty products, fishing – and I bet there’s a subscription box for just about every category.  These gift  boxes usually contain a curated selection of exclusive and/or unusual items.  Here’s a quick list of five proven winners

Suthinstyle Box– a quarterly subscription for women filled with fashion, food and finer things made in and inspired by the South.  Curated by the stylish Ashley Stamoulis, who calls her boxes “her love letters to the South”.  Membership plans range from seasonal to annual and your mom, sister, mil (mother-in-law), sil (sister-in-law) will be thrilled!

gift stress box
Founder Ashley Stamoulis and her fabulous pink SuthinGirl box

 

gift box stress
A sampling of all the goodies in the spring box

 

Darlings Fine Things– Known for their wide range of beauty products, fashion and shoes, Darlings Fine Things has hand-picked a selection of goodies for $35 per month.  Personally I can’t wait to try my Michael Marcus Eye Gel!  Again, perfectly geared to the women in your life…

gift stress box
Darlings Fine Things Box Full of Wonderful

gift stress box

MistoBox Coffee Subscription – After polling my Facebook group of savvy Atlanta-Decatur women, this coffee company rose to the top of the crema.  For our NYC daughter and sil (son-in-law), space is at a premium.  So I’m very aware of not adding to their home.  The solution? A six-month subscription of craft coffees! They savored all the different coffees, from six different makers!  Once they received their MistoBox coffee subscription, they were matched with a coffee curator – a coffee expert who learned the kinds of coffee they liked and sent them coffee based on their preferences.

gift stress box
A sampling of craft coffees

Next, one of my favorite gifts to give and receive, BOOKS!  My dear friend, talented businesswoman and writer, Jill Niehaus Miner, owns a thriving, independent bookstore, Saturn Booksellers.   Did I mention that she was awarded the Michigan Small Retailer of the Year award? Not a small feat these days.  I could go on and on bragging about Jill and her team but let’s talk about their Monthly Book subscriptions for adults, teens, young readers and the grandbaby board books.  It’s very simple.  Choose your recipient’s age and Saturn Booksellers takes care of the shipping.  Your loved one gets a book from you, every month.  It’s a win-win!  Also, do yourself a favor and sign up for their emails on book recommendations.  You’ll be in the know with new releases and more.

gift box book
It’s never too early for a family read aloud session as our son in law, Jim and daughter Molly, read to our sweet granddaughter, Amelia May.

Let me know what you think of these gift options, and I hope these suggestions will make your gift giving occasions less stressful and more enjoyable!  That’s what it’s all about, enjoying time together with friends and family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tastemaker Tuesday – Kalyn Johnson Chandler of Effie’s Paper

coffee, girl, tastemaker, Kaylyn
Kaylyn and her favorite accessory!

This month, we’re introducing you to one of our favorite new friends, Kalyn Johnson Chandler of Effie’s Paper::Stationery&Whatnot, an energetic lifestyle authority who is setting the trend on lifestyle accessories, travel style, and the power of Black Girl Magic

Kalyn and I met at a recent Black Southern Belle conference in Charleston.  Her enthusiasm for female entrepreneurs , her smile and love of stationery and pretty things made us fast friends.  With her signature pops of pink and encouraging words, she is a chic and engaging tastemaker, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Three words that describe your style?

Downtown, chic, hip

As a fashionable city woman, what’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

Believe it or not, walking down the streets of Manhattan and riding the subway are a font of inspiration.  New York city has some of the most fashionable people I’ve ever seen. I take my cues from the people around me.  What I love about New York is that each neighborhood has it’s own style – for example, on the Upper East Side, people are generally classic dressers with clean lines and solid colors.  While downtown, in Tribeca, the vibe is decidedly expensive hipster.

Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…

Agatha Christie – I’d love to spend the evening with AC, as I affectionately call her, to get a sense of how her mind works because I love a good murder mystery.  In fact, growing up and to this day, my parents, sister and I read murder mysteries voraciously.  Lately, I’ve become addicted to all of the British murder mystery shows on Netflix and Acorn – Vera, Midsummer Murders, Broadchurch, Unforgotten and the like. What I love about the British shows is all of the twists and turns, they’re quite cerebral. Who knows, at a dinner party with AC, there might be a murder in the drawing room that needs to be solved!

Maya Angelou – I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid. One of my fondest memories is spending the weekend at my grandparent’s house and finding a copy of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, I was probably 11 or 12.  I read it cover-to-cover that weekend and she instantly became one of my sheros.  Maya Angelou had an amazing life, was a generous soul, a prolific writer and an extremely wise woman.  I think she’d be the dinner guest everyone would be clamoring to sit next to just hoping to gather a few nuggets of her vast knowledge.

Michelle Obama – I just kind of love everything about her!  She brought a level of class, graciousness  and openness to the White House that I haven’t experienced before in my lifetime.   Her infectious smile and her ability to make fun of herself with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show will forever endear her to me and many.  I would love to sit down and chat with her about what it was like to become a part of the upper echelons of society while not losing who she is at her core.  She’s a woman I admire greatly; she stepped into a role she was very hesitant to take on … it took her a minute to figure out how to make it her own, but that she did and then some!

stationery, paper, tastemaker
Pretty and professional stationery

A pieces of/type of accessory you couldn’t live without

I never leave home without a silk scarf or a bandana.  For some reason my neck tends to get cold, so I learned a long time ago that rather than be uncomfortable, it was just easier to always have a little something to put on my neck.  And I’m super excited because I just designed the some really chic bandanas that we’re selling now.   In addition to keeping your neck warm, they add the perfect pop of color to your outfit, look great tied around purses and do double-duty as a hat on bad hair days!

Do you recommend people follow a particular set of rules when writing letters?

My only rule when it comes to letter writing is sit down and write!  I find that people love to receive handwritten notes in the mail, but rarely take the time to write them.  I’ve heard all sorts of excuses from I can’t find nice stationery to I never seem to have stamps.  These two “problem” are easily solvable – you can buy both stationery and stamps online nowadays.  Of course I think everyone should be using Effie’s Paper to write their notes on, but whatever you have – please use it!  A simple note with just three sentences can make someone’s day.  And, the satisfaction derived from taking a minute to express one’s gratitude to another is priceless.

What would be the one thing you would have to have if you were stranded on a deserted island?

My Kindle and some kind of super duper charged battery pack. I love to read.  So, being stranded on an island with nothing to read would be a kind of purgatory for me.  I’m often reading more than one book at a time, which is why I’m partial to my Kindle, although there’s nothing like holding an actual book in your hands.

paper, stationery, tastemaker
Write it down, in a pretty book of course!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to an aspiring stationery creator.

Go for it!  I get asked this question a lot and as I result, I wrote an e-book to help folks who are thinking of starting their own product-based business.  There are a lot of players in the marketplace, so do your research and figure out what will distinguish your products from those that are already out there.  Identifying your target audience up front – know who she is, what she buys and why up – will save you a lot of time and energy.  Then before you jump in, learn what you can about the industry to make certain it’s a good fit for you.  Next, think about your strengths and weaknesses to determine which gaps you’ll need to fill.  I have a great team of young women I work with, I LOVE my girls; your tribe is your vibe! And finally, assess the direction the industry is headed in to determine where your products will fit in best and come up with a strategy to court those customers and retailers.

Bonus:  Here’s a quick round up of some of our favorite ‘whatnot’ from Effie’s Paper, just in time for summer hostess gifts and even Father’s Day gifts!

coffee mug, donut
Who else needs this coffee mug?!

 

 

 

 

 

stars stationery pink
Go ahead and stock up for your Fourth of July summer hostess gifts

Now get going and don’t forget to write to someone. You’ll make their day.  Thank you to Kalyn of Effie’s Papers for being part of our Tastemaker Tuesday series!  We can’t wait to see what’s next on the horizon for you and Effie’s Papers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day is fast approaching on April 21st and 22nd.  How will you celebrate this fabulous yet fragile planet which sustains us? Here are three fun ways get outside and celebrate our Earth and Mother Nature.

nature green family
Happy Earth Day!

First and most obvious, but we often miss this opportunity, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, and companionship with nature! Walk through the woods in search of emerging wildflowers and green moss. Go outside, no matter the weather!

Next eat seasonally and locally with this special offer for Georgia Grown Farm Basket from the ever-popular site Hand-Picked Atlanta.  Delight your family and friends by discovering  new herbs and vegetables to add to your entertaining menus, plus you’ll be helping local farmers with your support.

farm csa Georgia
Georgia Grown Farm Basket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember our blog post about favorite kitchen helper, Unpaper towels?  By using these washable workhorse towels from our Georgia pals Dot and Army, there’s another way to help our environment and earth, right in your own home, all year long.  More points for you and Mother Nature!

And finally, another chance to explore outside at this Atlanta treasure, Blue Heron Nature Preserve. All kinds of activities are planned for April 21, see there website for all the details and year round volunteer opportunities.

nature earth day
Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Atlanta

Can’t wait to take shop dog, Duke, for a long walk along the Chattahoochee River soon!  Let us know how you will celebrate Earth Day and use #inspiredtailoredauthentic #earthdayatl

 

MLK 50 | The Fight for Civil Rights Continues

Civil rights has been in the headlines a lot lately.  Whether it’s poverty, justice, education, decent housing, the quest for civil and human rights continues today.

This April 4th commemorates the 50th  anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  How will you discuss this historic event with your kids, family and neighbors?  To assist us and further these discussions, take advantage of a new city treasure, the Center for Civil and Human Rights.  

civil human rights Atlanta

Mark your calendar as you can live the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with your family at the interactive exhibitions of the Center for Civil and Human Rights on April 4th from 9am through 7:30pm.  Everyone receives free admission on that day too, thanks to the generous support of FedEx.  

civil human rights government
Center for Civil and Human Rights

 

The whole family will enjoy activities built around civil rights such as the Live the Legacy Photo Booth, an art exhibit showcasing SCAD art pieces, theatrical performances of Dr. King’s famous “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech and much more.

Wherever you are, listen for the Global Bell Ringing at 7:01 PM on Wednesday, April 4th.  Join people around the world to commemorate the official moment of the commemoration of Dr. King’s assassination.

civil human rights Atlanta
Human Rights Activists from all around the world

To keep this momentum alive, read the pledge for a call to peace and action.

No Justice, No peace;
Know Justice, Know Peace”
is our rallying cry.

With humility and kindness, we will come together with one another and build a community of peace and goodwill for all humankind.  This is what we need to teach our children in order to make the world a better place.

You can find the Center for Civil and Human Rights at 100 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd, Atlanta, GA 30313 as part of Atlanta’s beautiful Centennial Park.  All photos are mine as this post is not sponsored in any way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why You Should Make Camp Plans Now

But it’s barely April you’re saying! Why should I look at summer camps near me now? Your kids will be home for the summer before you know it, asking what are we doing next?   Do yourself and them a favor, flip to your family summer calendar, and plug your kids in a fun and innovative summer camp, thanks to MODA, Museum of Design Atlanta.

Always forward thinking, MODA believes kids make great designers! They see through fresh eyes, love wacky ideas and are brave enough to think anything in this world is possible. campMODA teaches kids to use design thinking in combination with STEAM (science, technology, engineering,art/design, and math) skills to solve problems and address real-world challenges.  Believe me, these camps fill up quickly.  You’ll learn so much from them too.

summer kids calendar camp near me
campMODA from May 28 – July 23

Do you have budding engineer or computer game coder?  What about your teen activist?  There’s a spot for everyone.  Join one of MODA’s week-long full-day or half-day camps for kids and teens
(Pre-K through 11th grade) at one of four locations​: MODA’s Midtown home,
Georgia Tech College of Design, First Presbyterian Preschool and The Lovett School
in Buckhead/Vinings. Full-day camps (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) are $495 per week, and
half-day camps (9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) are $250 per week. MODA members receive
10 percent discount.

summer camp kid calendar near me
Each campMODA ​2018 session features one of these innovative themes: Designing
with LEGO Robotics; Adventures in Blockly; Designing and Coding with Minecraft;
Craftivism; LEGO Robotics for Filmmakers; Architectural Design with Minecraft;
Circuits and Robots; Playground Engineering and Career-Building Design Studio
Field Trips. ​Reserve your spot to ensure placement in the camps of your choice.

summer camp kid calendar
Robotics, science, design and more

Registration for all camps is available at:
museumofdesign.org/campmodasummer

Have you looked at a family membership?  Not only can you save on summer camp, you’ll have access to adult lectures, classes and exhibits, perfect for family field trips and date nights.

 

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Sugar Sweet Baby Girl Shower

girl, baby, decoration, decor, pink
Banner from Thimblepress

February was a fabulously  fun and busy month for us!  First, our son’s rehearsal dinner and beautiful wedding at The The Stave Room (stunning photo backdrop, thanks to ASW Distillery) and then we hosted a baby girl shower for our oldest daughter who is expecting their first child very soon.

So, please enjoy some moments of pink and gold happiness from the Atlanta and NYC Baby Girl celebrations, perhaps taking some notes on recipes and decor for your next celebration.

baby girl shower, sugar sweet
Balloons by Thimblepress
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CamiCakes cupcakes, floral by Steve McKenzie

Topping off the light chicken salad luncheon, guests had their choice of delicious CamiCakes cupcakes or pretty pink sugary sweet iced butter cookies.  Some of us had to taste both!

 

 

pink, cupcake, cactus, succulent, sugar, shower, sugar, sweet
Sugar succulents by Nicolettsy and cupcake toppers by SmashCaked, both on Etsy

Aren’t those sugar succulent toppers the cutest?!  It’s amazing what you can find on Etsy.

cocktail, cups, straw, mint julep cup, pink, girl, baby, shower
Pink and gold decor on the bar with cups and napkins by our fav, Sequins and Lipstick

In keeping with our baby girl pink and gold theme, our dear friend and tastemaker, Paige Minear of The Pink Clutch suggested the perfect rosemary, grapefruit cocktail recipe from Australian blogger, Tell Me Tuesday and you can get it here.  Pretty and pink!

Remember to look in your cabinet for serving pieces as shown by the mint julep cup holding the gold and white paper straws.

baby, girl, pink, shower
Parents to be, Molly and Jim
baby, stuffed animal, gift, Dockatot, blanket, crib gift
Do you know Atlanta-based Blablakids? The cutest, softest stuffed animals ever…here is Rivier the elephant, all ready to welcome Baby Girl!

We’ll keep you posted on upcoming developments as there’s nothing like a new baby to bring joy to our world.

 

 

New Chapter

journal, book, sketch, pewter, box
steve mckenzie’s Cypress Loop Sketchbook for all your thoughts and dreams

Dear Friends,

Change is always happening in the world and we want to let you know about some changes at steve mckenzie’s. Before we get into the changes, we want to thank you for your loyal dedication to our business. When we began this endeavor over 6 years, we had no idea how many friends and supporters we would come to know. We are eternally grateful for all of our friends we have made in the Atlanta design community and all of the consumers who have fallen in love with our product offering in the store.

We recently began an evaluation of our entire business model and have made some decisions about the next steps for our business. Therefore we have made a decision to close the retail portion of our business. However, you can’t get rid of us that easily.

Steve will continue with the McKenzie Design interior design business as well as producing his art and fabric, licensing for his art, rugs for Verde Home, stationery, and more. Also stay tuned for his first licensed furniture collection. Steve will also continue the classes that have become so popular (and sell out so fast). In fact, his design and art studio will remain at our current address and he loves visitors, always.

Verde Home, our fantastic business neighbor, will take over our retail space and will also continue to offer the Selamat Designs furniture and lighting line. Jill will join Verde Home as sales and outside sales to interior designers, thus expanding her offerings to include the full complement of Verde Home lines plus Selamat and Steve’s fabrics and wallpapers.

Now the majority of our current products need to be sold, and we will begin the sale March 7th.

However as a thank you to you, our loyal customers, please visit us before then for best selection and know we’ll pass on our best price.

We will continue to sell in the space through April 30th. Verde Home will officially take over the space May 1st.

In closing, know that we sincerely appreciate your support. We ask that you spread the message of Steve’s growing interior design and art business. If you are one of our trade customers, look for Jill to contact you soon to share all the lines she now represents and if you need to see her sooner, please contact her.

Many paths have opened on this amazing journey and we are grateful for each of you along these paths, and hope you celebrate this next chapter with us. We look forward to seeing each of you soon.

Sincerely,

Jill and Steve McKenzie

How to Easily Elevate Your Next Party with Napkins

From a relaxed rehearsal dinner to a special bridal shower to a themed party, Dot and Army offers an easy, simple custom napkin program that will make your special event sparkle!  Recently, their napkin rental program added the perfect elevated touch to our rehearsal dinner with a variety of coordinated custom fabric napkins at each table.

napkin, purse, love, burgundy
Ready for Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First a little background on this family business located in beautiful Brunswick, GA, Dot and Army‘s owner, Jennifer Zamudio’s charming store front offers a full variety of kitchen and table linens plus other local treats, while the workroom (and piles of gorgeous fabrics) are housed in the rear of the downtown building.  At steve mckenzie’s we’re in love with their seersucker cocktail napkins, Unpaper Towels, denim cocktail napkins.

cocktail, napkin, towel, ktichen
Colorful Seersucker Cocktail Napkins, eco-friendly Unpaper Towels and Denim Cocktail Napkins with contrasting edging

Back to the rental program…All rentals are customized.  They rent everything from their seersucker to cotton prints to linens with metallic edging.  The rented set can be entirely the same, from one fabric, or mix and match.  We sent them a Pinterest mood board for our event including some inspirational floral images.

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Napkin choices from Dot and Army

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

floral, Instagram
Floral inspiration

Here’s how easy it is to choose your custom napkins:  pricing discussion is via email, and Dot and Army emails images of samples.  Want to see a fabric in person? Easy, they’ll mail it.  We chose the edging colors, sent the deposit and voila, 60 custom napkins arrived at our doorstep.

And you know what else? Return the napkins to them without washing.  Again, easy and no laundry for you!

party, easy, napkin, creativity, dinner,
Ready for the Rehearsal Dinner! Designed by Steve McKenzie
fabric, napkin, floral, steve mckenzie's
Party ready!

Take this tip and add it to your Party File, and as always, steve mckenzie’s is ready to help you make your next event extra-special and easy, be that custom fabric, floral design or table settings.  Stop in or to start the conversation!

 

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