Did Someone Say Dessert?

cake party dessert candles
Dessert Soiree with Paige Minear

Happy Summer! What better way to kick off summer entertaining than a simple dessert soiree? Paige Minear of The Pink Clutch Blog joined us for a homemade Sour Cream Cake, complemented with some of her favorite things, including her gorgeous collection from Creative Candles, Mottahadeh china and classic monogrammed cocktail napkins from The Preppy Stitch.

cake Steve McKenzie
Whipping up a simple icing with Jackson Morgan Southern Cream

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!

dessert Steve McKenzie cake
Steve adding the final touch to his cake
cake Steve McKenzie lifestyle
Paige making ice cream with Jackson Morgan Whipped Orange Cream
cake Steve McKenzie lifestyle
Refreshing dessert
dessert ice cream
Ice cream all dressed up
cake Steve McKenzie lifestyle
Easy entertaining with a twist, and aren’t those candles perfect with the flowers?

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.

dessert lifestyle
Paige lighting the candles, such a lovely touch~
dessert china Steve McKenzie
Sour Cream Cake with Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel icing, served on Mottahadeh plates
dessert Steve McKenzie
Summer Dessert table

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!

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.







Annie Mae’s Pantry: A Little Cafe with a Lot of Soul

Atlanta’s food scene has a new player, Annie Mae’s Pantry just off Northside Drive and Interstate 75 in Atlanta, and put it at the top of your list.  Guided by her own culinary philosophy, Andra Hall (she also owns CamiCakes, a well-known bakery with 5 Atlanta and 2 Jacksonville, FL locations) presents a menu based on “The Four S”es: “Simple. Soulful. Savory. Sweet.”  Here she pays homage to her late paternal grandmother, Annie Mae Norton and is reflective of Hall’s rural upbringing in Monticello, FL, a lazy town situated 30 miles northeast of Tallahassee.

Founder Andra Hall
Andra Hall

Think regional food, like fresh seafood, garden vegetables and “sweets”, as Andra’s family called dessert.

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At our table, it’s a toss up between the Yard Bird (chicken), Fishing Pole Finds (top contender here is Annie Mae’s signature Fried Fish and Grits), Brown Bag Sandwiches and Sweets.  These cakes and pies are definitely worth the splurge!

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Whether you carry out or enjoy the comfy bistro setting, linger longer as you enjoy these homemade meals with your friends and family.

Annie Mae’s Pantry is located at 1700 Northside Drive, Atlanta, GA, just north of our showroom.  See you soon!



Top 3 Tax Organization Tips

One of our very favorite bloggers and organizational-guru is here for Tastemaker Tuesday and we couldn’t be more excited to share her feature post here with you today!

Carrie Peeples, of Neatsmart is a witty and wonderful person. We become fast friends at last year’s Southern C Summit, and she even worked her organizational magic in the steve mckenzie’s Interior Design workspace., Carrie listens to your organization needs and expertly create memorable combinations we’d never think of pulling together.

Read on to learn about Carrie’s top tax tips from the organizational point of view, saving you time, headache and maybe even some money!  I’ve added some cute home office ideas at the end too.

Continue reading “Top 3 Tax Organization Tips”

Tastemaker Tuesday – Paige Minear

One of our very favorite bloggers and stylists (and people) is here for Tastemaker Tuesday and we couldn’t be more excited to share her feature post here with you today!

Paige Minear, of The Pink Clutch, is a witty and wonderful person. She’s become fast friends with the McKenzies and even has a pop up in the steve mckenzie’s showroom, showcasing some of her classy, preppy decor from her styling gigs. Paige is not afraid of color or pattern and is an expert of creating memorable combinations we’d never think of pulling together.

Read on to learn more about page, how she’s become a blogger to watch and a few tips on how she pulls together her signature style…

Paige Minear is the author, mother and preppy creator behind the design blog The Pink Clutch.  Paige is known for her home full of color, Palm Beach style and antique treasures.  With a love for all things design related she writes five days a week allowing her readers to indulge in colorful posts and inspiration.  She is a lover of a strong latte, champagne cocktails, a stack of magazines, crisp button downs, popped collars, a sweet treat and a house full of fresh flowers and monogrammed linens. She can be seen most days in a gingham button down, pearls galore sporting leopard flats and ready for adventure.
Paige lives in Atlanta with her husband and three kids. 
1. Three words that describe your style?
Classic (preppy), Southern and very colorful!
2. Would you please share a little about your favorite styling project to date?
Anything I style in my own house makes me so very happy, but the room I think I love the most is our master bedroom. We have a large area to work with, so we’ve added a sitting area. Since we don’t have a television in our den, the kids gather here to watch movies and we all hang out together. As the grow up, they start pulling away, so this time together is priceless. We also have a dedicated date night on Thursdays and the Hubs and I have wine and cheese and just catch up in these same chairs. The idea for a sitting area in our room was brilliant!
3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration for both your blog posts and interior styling gigs?
Literally everywhere! I take a ton of photos and read so much, I’m constantly filing ideas. My favorite places I garner inspiration are Instagram, Town & Country (online) and my favorite shelter publications – House Beautiful, Veranda and Town & Country magazines. My blog and Instagram feed are meant to inspire others as it inspires me, so I’m constantly sharing things I love. I may snap a picture months before I use it and then one day it will call to me.
4. Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…
What a fabulous question! Jackie Kennedy (such a story of strength and endless style), Coco Chanel (so creative and never wavered in her style or her vision) and Martin Luther King.  Clearly I am drawn to people with a vision and a strong sense of self!
5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?
I am not sure there is one thing I couldn’t live without. I love things but I am super attached to people and memories so most of what I couldn’t live without is tied to the people I love.
I do love a fabulous and comfortable couch to snuggle with those I love for long conversations and quality time. The bigger the sofa, the more people can squeeze on it! 
6. Would you please share some of your blogging best practices? What do you think makes up a successful blog post?
Be true to you. I have found the success of writing for me has been never straying from who I am .  When I grew, the blog grew … when life changed, the blog changed.  At any point if I had tried to pretend to be someone other than me I would have fizzled out and failed.  I only know how to be me and to share my heart and life with others. 
My goal with the blog and my social media is to inspire and share what inspires me.  Sometimes that is a fabulous room or a new Rosé, sometimes that is a deep post on parenting and life.  Since I share what inspires me that is very personal and can change with the days and months.  At the moment with summer coming to a close I am inspired by pinks, oranges and lots of adventures and that is what I am currently sharing.  I am also really inspired by a few things from the last market which I have been sharing
7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?”
I am very into table settings at the moment… china, linens, monogrammed flatware, flower arrangements. I can not get enough! On the flip side, I don’t know that I am tired of anything. There are very few things I don’t care for and those I truly do. I can usually enjoy just about anything in the right setting. Even the color purple, which I don’t care for at all, I’m starting to appreciate in tones of lavender. I can’t seem to get enough of images of lavender paired with dark ink. Lavender and navy for the win!
8. When first planning for a refreshed space, where do you start? How does artwork fit into your stylings?
Anything I do at home or any styling project starts with one thing that inspires me. I am working on my home office at the moment and have a fabulous oversized bulletin board covered with inspiring things. I am working to add that into my office makeover. For my den it was the desire for white walls and an emerald green sofa. For the kitchen it was an incredible Clearance House wallpaper. I start with one thing and it grows from there. This week it was a fantastic blue and white sugar post I scored while antiquing. I fell in love with it and the next thing I knew I was styling a coffee bar around it. I get inspired by an item or an image and just run with it! I love art – all kinds of it. I love to mix what I love hoping it’ll all make sense; if to no one else but me. We have a few originals recently added to our home and I love them so much. For me, art is just another amazing source of inspiration.
9. What would be the one thing you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island?
My bible, which was given to me by my mother in law early on in my marriage. It is something I will treasure and will pass it along to one of my children.
10. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to become a blogger/interior stylish, such as yourself?
Once again, be you. There have been times I have written or shared something I was inspired by that didn’t receive as much notice as another post. All in all when you step back and look at my blog in its entirety, it’s me. So, I am okay with the posts that may not strike as much of a cord with folks. Any time I do something in our home, write a blog post, style a vignette, teach a class it is 100% me and because it is me it is easy to do. Don’t get sucked into the way someone else writes their blog or their social media accounts, you can only do you. You can’t sustain anything pretending or trying to be like someone else and in the end you won’t love the way it turns out.  It will drain you instead of fueling you and the goal in this life is to grow and to change and to participate in things that allow you to grow and change.  Being yourself will attract people to you for who you are and it will be nothing short of magical.   
Last, but surely not least, surround yourself with those who inspire and challenge you. Pick a mentor (or two!) and ask for help. If you want to start a blog, I say go for it. Mine has blessed me beyond words!
Isn’t Paige just wonderful – and don’t her images just get your creative juices flowing?!? We so appreciate Paige’s mantra about staying true to yourself. Being authentic is a big part of being successful and she certainly has that in spades!
A big THANK YOU to Paige Minear of The Pink Clutch for participating in our Tastemaker Tuesday series! If you’re near the steve mckenzie’s showroom, stop in and take a look at some of her styling gig goodies.

Tastemaker Tuesday – Owen Masterson & Christine Anthony of Anthony-Masterson

We have a treat for you all today! We’re thrilled to feature the husband-wife team that is Anthony-Masterson. This dynamite team specialize in photography and filmmaking. And their work is almost as fantastic as they are… Steve and Jill have gotten to know Owen and Christine by working with them on a number of design projects and have found such like-mindedness, as they’re also a couple that do just about everything together. We believe you’ll thoroughly enjoy this fun little conversation/interview and are so pleased to introduce you to the latest Tastemakers for the blog for steve mckenzie’s, Owen Masterson and Christine Anthony:

Christine & Owen of Anthony-Masterson Photography

We began shooting sixteen years ago determined to combine our individual talents.  Before that Owen was working with some of the best cinematographers in Los Angeles as an actor and Christine was an in-demand food stylist.  We had both spent a lot of time on sets observing what it took to get a great shot.  Inspired, we picked up a camera and a bunch of film and began shooting.  We started with food.  Shortly after that a new stock agency dedicated to food photography began licensing our images.  In 2001 we shot our first job.  Since moving to Atlanta in 2005 we have been shooting Interiors, Food and Travel.

In 2008 we acted on a long held desire to make our pictures move and began experimenting with filmmaking. This led to a number of short films and two award winning feature length documentaries.

Working in both mediums provides great balance plus we get to travel a lot and work with some extraordinarily talented and interesting people.

1. Three words that describe your aesthetic?

Owen:  Do we each get 3 words?

Christine:  What have you got?

Owen:  Fast, edgy and dangerous.

Christine:  I think that describes you more than the aesthetic.

Owen:  Okay, what have you got?

Christine:  How about balanced, uncluttered and provocative?

Owen: That’s why I love you.

2. Would you please share a little about your favorite space/project to date?

Owen:  You go first.

Christine:  I always go first.

Owen:  Ok.  Plaza Towers  25th floor, stunning pied-a-terre, killer view of Atlanta skyline. 

Christine:  And the rich tones in the living room.  What about the first interior project we ever shot? That beautiful home on the coast in Malibu owned by the Fluxus artist Van Schley and his wife.

Owen:  Wow that was so long ago and we shot it on film! 

Christine:  And we hardly knew what we were doing.

Owen:  The challenge was the light bouncing off of the Pacific Ocean into practically every room in the house.  But we figured it out.  

Christine:   Speaking of the coast… what about the light in the house at Wrightsville Beach?

Owen:  Love.

3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

Owen:  Christine.  That was an easy one.

Christine:  I guess I better say Owen.  But really, it is Owen.  When you live and work together 24/7 as a team you each bring something different to the party so it’s essential to be inspired by your partner’s vision – or madness.

Owen:  I always know I’m in for something challenging when Christine says “Tell me if you think this is a crazy idea.”  But we don’t live in a bubble so there’s the things we see and the people we meet in our travels that influence and inspire us as well.

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

Christine:  That’s tricky.  Only three?

Owen:  John Lennon, the Pope, and it might get fun if say, Amy Winehouse comes.

Christine:  The Pope choice seems off unless it’s Alexander Pope.

Owen:  Okay, how about Jimi Hendrix, Jackson Pollock and Howard Finster?

Christine:  Better.  But I’d really like to cook for Joan Didion so one has to go.

Owen:  Wait a minute, don’t we each get three?

Christine:  We could be here all day… how about we move on?

5. A favorite type of space or even a favorite type of object/setting to photograph?

Owen:  We love the skill set of shooting interiors.  It’s so exacting, like a high wire act. 

Christine:  The placement and balance of objects.

Owen: The play of shadows and light.

Christine:  The vignettes.

Owen:  Capturing the more intimate moments that really express the personality of the room.

Christine: But there’s also a freedom to shooting the travel stories that we enjoy.  Being out and about, anticipating, keeping an eye out for the shot.

Owen:  Because we shoot so many different things: interiors, food, people, travel, and then there are the videos too, it’s like cross training.  It keeps our imaginations limber and eyes fresh.

6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when mixing textures, finishes, etc. – how do they work for you?

Owen and Christine:  See it. Love it.  Shoot it! 

Christine:  That’s been our motto from day one.

Owen:  Of course our clients’ needs come first but we always try to take the shots further than they had imagined; the angle, the frame, the composition.

Christine:  And then there’s the lighting.  We shoot primarily with natural light and Owen is the master of light and shadow so we like to wow our clients with the lighting.

7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?”

Owen:  Playing records

Christine:  Owen is the house DJ, he spins, I cook.  I love long hours at the dinner table or on the deck with close friends. 

Owen:  Christine is a great cook so the dinners are always good.  And then there’s the wine and the conversation. 

Christine:  It’s like the exact opposite of social media.

Owen:   Which is anti-social

Christine:  So you’d say social media is over?

Owen:  Definitely over.  And out.

8What would be the one thing you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island?

Christine:  Do we each get one thing?

Owen:  Fire.

Christine:  That way I could cook.  So maybe I’d bring a knife.

9. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the photography design industry. 

Owen:  I’d give the same advice we were given when we started. Just do it!

Christine:  It’s a process and you have to work at it to find your eye.  Just make sure you understand the business end of it.  That can be the most difficult part for creatives.

Owen:  Find your passion.  It’s an art form even if you’re shooting plumbing supplies. It’s a journey and you should have adventures doing it.

Christine:  Oh, the places we’ve been…

Okay, so that was a lot of fun, right?! We need to find more dynamic duos to feature in our Tastemaker series! At least ones with such wonderful senses of humor… And isn’t their work divine. The way they work with lighting – it’s magical. And they make our spaces look absolutely phenomenal. We’re fans of Owen and Christine’s and are willing to bet that after reading this post you are too!

Tastemaker Tuesday – William Peace

For many in our industry, this week’s Tastemaker required no introduction. It’s our friend, William (or “Bill,” as many of your may know him) Peace of Peace Design. You know a Peace Design when you walk into one of his amazing spaces. While they may be standouts, they always have a timeless feeling and a nod to the individual function of the space and its inhabitants. We’re thrilled to share a bit about Bill with you today and are grateful to him for agreeing to be a Tastemaker here on the blog for steve mckenzie’s!

William Peace

William Peace is known for his sophisticated, approachable interiors that are clearly defined. Founder of Peace Design, a full-service interior design firm with offices in Atlanta and Bozeman, Peace has created interiors for signature residences, destination restaurants, museums and select showrooms throughout the country.  His striking interiors have been featured in the pages of Architectural Digest, Veranda, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and multiple luxury publications including, Ranches of the American West and Rustic Elegance.  He is also a frequent guest speaker at various design events within the design community both in the Southeast and Rocky Mountain regions.

1. Three words that describe your aesthetic?

Collected, Curated, Timeless (there’s also textural and comforting!)


2. Would you please share a little about your favorite space/project to date?

A space I favor is filled with warmth of hearth, rich in texture, personal treasures and is comfortable in serenity and times of celebration with family and friends. When these elements thrive whether it be a rustic lodge, modern high rise apartment or elegant southern farmhouse it will be captivating.

3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

Inspiration comes from traveling to unique places, the art and artisans I encounter, nature and a sense of place.  I also draw directly from my clients’ interests and desires for a truly special home.


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

Rudolf Schindler for architectural inspiration 

Elvis Costello for lyrical conversation 

Jack Nicholson….just because he’s Jack!

5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?

I am drawn to a sense of history in a unique piece of furniture. A beautiful walnut 17th century Italian Baroque Credenza with authentic patina can hold its own against most anything, although I could say the same about a modern classic chair designed by Jean Michel Frank designed in the early 20th century, and I believe they can compliment one another in the same room beautifully.


6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when mixing textures, finishes, etc. – how do they work for you?

The combination of layered texture found in nature…stone, wood, leather, steel, silk and cotton can allow subtle contrast in architecture and interiors that will remain timeless and classic.

7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?”

Quality is the only trend I believe is worthwhile. Quality is classic, luxurious and comfortable!

8. How does artwork fit into your designs?

Artwork is personal! I feel that art whether painting, photography or sculpture add soul to a space. I am passionate about my own collection and enjoy working with clients to assist with creating a meaningful body of work. I also feel a thoughtful lighting design and proper framing program will enhance any collection.


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

A deluxe machete would be helpful! 

10. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the interior design industry.

Research and interview with a number of design schools and find the best fit. Explore architecture, fine art, photography and of course business classes and then find an internship with a great firm….work hard and good luck will find you!

Just brilliant! And that may be one of the most unique responses to our desert island question thus far. Leave it to Bill. Smart, practical, but his own unique style. Cheers to Bill Peace and his willingness to share a bit of himself with us!

Tastemaker Tuesday – Tamara Eckles of Jem of the South

Oh do we have a delectable post for you today… Our featured Tastemaker is Tamara Eckles of Jem of the South, a dessert media company. Yes, dessert – as in cookies, candies, cakes and SO much more. Tamara, is an expert in sweet treats and events revolving around them!

This past fall, we attended the Black Southern Belle Collective, where we met Tamara (who’s just as sweet as her desserts!) and we knew we had to share a bit about her and her devotion to desserts with all of you. Plus, not only is she a southern entrepreneur, she’s a neighbor of ours, just north of the city. We know you’ll enjoy this little taste into the life of a dessert enthusiast, who’s made a career out of her passion.

Tamara Eckles

Tamara has been baking since she was a teen and began Jem of the South in 2010 as a way to share her creativity through baking. This adventure has led to her own radio show, hosting dessert events, producing dessert guides and her soon-to-be-launched first cookbook, “Let’s Have Brunch!” 

1. Three words that describe your culinary point of view?

Classic, doable desserts. 


2. Would you please share a little about your favorite project to date?

My favorite and most challenging project to date is my first cookbook. I am self publishing and I’m doing just about everything. Recipe development, styling and photography. I’ve learned in this process that I can do more than I thought I could ever do with my business!

3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

I find inspiration in so many places. Starting Jem of the South I was inspired by both of my grandmothers. But as I’ve grown my business over the last 7 years I’ve been inspired by both of my parents and my brother and many other creatives out in the social media landscape.

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

I’d invite both of my grandmothers so they could see the dream come to life that was inspired by them. I can’t think of a third person.

5. A piece of/type of food (favorite sweet?! :-)) you couldn’t live without?

I couldn’t live without ice cream. I love it and eat it almost every night!

6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when creating recipes – how do they work for you?

When I’m working on recipes I really follow what my heart says. I don’t follow a certain trend. I like classic recipes and also recipes that can actually be made in someone’s kitchen. I like being adventurous too, but I also ask myself before I put a recipe on my website, would this recipe be something I’d make if I didn’t have my website? If it seems over the top or unrealistic, then I don’t put it on the site.


7. Trending: What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?” In regards to cooking/food…

That’s a good question. I’m into baking breads from scratch. I’m into bread baking every year and I’ve yet to bake as much bread as I’d like to. Oh and making candy. I love making candy. Not really over anything because there is always a way to make something that is old new again.

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

Is there wifi? LOL! Okay, I’d need my bible, pictures of my loved ones and an unlimited supply of ice cream.

9. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into your industry.

I’d say stay true to your style and the goals you are wanting to accomplish. Some may want to open bakeries, others may want to write and develop recipes. Do what you feel is right or works for you and don’t let someone else veer you in a direction that isn’t the one you want to go into.

Three cheers for ice cream! Ha! We love Tamara’s favorite treat and are all about a little scoop to put an end cap on a busy day. And we must give kudos to Tamara for keeping it real and accessible. Y’all – check out her Instagram and tell us you can exit uninspired. It’s impossible! Oh my, those peach tarts, homemade marshmallows, sweet potato donuts… what?!?

THANK YOU Tamara for allowing us to tap into your sweet world. At least enjoying your lovely photographs and lusting over the recipes won’t give us a cavity :-)) Looking forward to more treats this year!

Tastemaker Tuesday – Michelle Workman

If you follow steve mckenzie’s on other social media sites, you may have seen us mention Michelle Workman, a phenomenal interior designer, based out of Los Angeles and Chattanooga. Steve was recently commissioned to custom paint the walls in her space for the Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles 2016 Holiday House and we’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Michelle and her work over the last year and she’s an absolute talent! We hope you enjoy getting to know Michelle in this latest installment of our Tastemaker series…


Born in Los Angeles, California, Michelle’s penchant for the craft was almost immediately apparent. Some of her fondest childhood memories were of her mother chauffeuring her about the neighborhoods to take in the endless array of visually arresting homes. As a budding young designer, Michelle frequently took pleasure in envisioning and fashioning her very own custom designed forts.

Described by those who know her as an “easygoing perfectionist,” Michelle’s philosophy is that interior design should embody the spirit and architectural style of the individual whose home is being transformed – literally, a physical manifestation of the client’s most inherent attributes. Michelle’s signature style is a mingling of the modern and vintage. And her engaging personality, calming demeanor and exquisite attention-to-detail continually instill confidence in her clients as she brings into being for them their one-of-a-kind dream home.


1. Three words that describe your aesthetic?

Elegant, Glamorous, Exuberant

2. Would you please share a little about your favorite space/project to date?

Hmmmm. Not sure I have a favorite, each project is so unique and a new adventure, they all have aspects to them that are favored!


3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

Usually the client is the inspiration, but when I do a showhouse or exhibition I make up a person that I want as a client and I design for them.


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

Marie Antoinette, I have so many questions for her, politically, but also she was a revolutionary when it came to style. Ginger Rogers, she seems like not only talented but down to earth and bubbly and wise.. I bet she would have great stories about old Hollywood.  Alexa Hampton, she’s a great designer but is also very well read and knows everything about design and design history, and she’s one of the funniest people in our industry.  I think that would be a lively dinner party!


5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?

A chair. and another chair, and two more chairs, and then one more chair.  I like chairs… oh and lamps too.

6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when mixing textures, finishes, etc. – how do they work for you?

I work very hard to bring disparate elements into harmony, the overriding rule is balance.


7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?”

Into… ART DECO.  Over… gray and beige and taupe, drab, drab, drab.

8. How does artwork fit into your designs?

I try to use local and emerging artists.  I love to get original pieces for clients even if they are not investment grade – I like to support young new artists this way.


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

A kindle with wifi.

10. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the interior design industry.

Avail yourself of museums, and historic tours, and anything that will show you the finer things in life.  Try to find things for your clients that are unique and one of a kind… not from big box stores.

Thank you Michelle! It’s been such a pleasure working with you and being a part of your outstanding designs!!

Tastemaker Tuesday – Kathy Hogan Trocheck aka. Mary Kay Andrews

If you’ve followed the blog for steve mckenzie’s for a while now, you know we’re fans of a great – and many times, beautiful – book! But, what you may not know is that we’re also lovers of fun, beachy reads. Specifically, just about anything by Kathy Hogan Trocheck, or as many of you may recognize her pen name, Mary Kay Andrews. Her novels are lighthearted, fresh and an absolute pleasure to read.

Because Kathy is a native of St. Petersburg, Florida and she’s worked in the Atlanta area, her novels take place throughout the Southeast. Oftentimes, her books reference great design and delicious food – along with a dollup of trouble and maybe a smidge of romance. They have it all, folks! And thanks to her love of “junking,” Kathy has developed quite a keen eye for interior design… Just check out her Instagram feed for evidence.

We are absolutely delighted to have Kathy as our featured Tastemaker and think you’ll thoroughly enjoy getting to know her and her style with this fun Q&A…

Kathy Hogan Trocheck aka. Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of 25 novels, including The Weekenders, Beach Town, Ladies’ Night and Summer Rental. A former features writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she is a self-described decorator in denial and habitual estate sale devotee. Her Tybee Island vacation homes have been featured in HGTV magazine and Better Homes and Gardens magazine. This May, St. Martins’ Press will publish her first non-fiction release, The Beach House Cookbook. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

1. Three words that describe your personal style?

Cluttered, Classic, Quirky


2. Would you please share a little about a favorite space of yours?

My favorite space is currently my kitchen and adjoining breakfast room, designed with my longtime interior designer and pal Clay Snider of Clay Snider Interiors and Robin Pittman of Robin Pittman Designs. We took a narrow, dysfunctional galley kitchen in our 1920s era home, and expanded it into what had formerly been a den, and transformed an awkward pass-through room into a breakfast room with a custom-built butler’s pantry inspired by an antique Welsh cupboard. Now my kitchen has enough space for both my husband and myself to cook together, a roomy island that houses favorite cookbooks, a wine fridge and storage, as well as a fabulous Wolf range with a custom hood supported by chippy antique corbels. And counter-height seating for four.

3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

I’m inspired by movies (Nancy Meyers’ movies like Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday and It’s Complicated) and television (Downton Abbey) and shelter magazines and books. Also? I make a pilgrimage every Christmas to the Ralph Lauren flagship homes store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side just to imagine moving in there.

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

I’d love to have dinner with Nora Ephron, Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham and Harper Lee.


5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?

For our 30th wedding anniversary my husband and I bought a gift for each other, an antique Welsh cupboard. It displays part of my large collection of blue and white porcelains, stores my silver flatware and some table linens and, at Christmas, displays my collection of vintage bottle brush Christmas trees. The new kitchen was designed around that cupboard.

6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when working to design a space of yours?

I’ve long believed in the value of buying classic antiques. That trendy greige Belgian-look console table in the latest Restoration Hardware catalog may be calling your name today, but the day after you bring it home automatically becomes “used furniture.” Whereas a well-made, true antique never really loses value. A fan once called me “a decorator in denial,” which is a pretty apt description of me, as is “a hoarder with good taste.” We are a close family with two young grandchildren who live around the corner and are in and out of our house all week long, so our house has to be comfortable, livable and low maintenance. I buy only what I love, shopping mostly estate sales, trolling high-end antique stores to see how the pros design rooms like movie sets. A designer friend once told me the recipe for a great room includes beautiful hardwood floors, beat-up, colorful Oriental carpets and meaningful art. Add in neutral slipcovered sofas, lots of books and tons of pillows covered in antique textiles and that’s a room I want to live in.


7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?”

I’m over poorly-executed chalk-painted furniture, and am into refining and editing to make our home a statement that reflects our taste and lifestyles. These days I practice “catch and release” upgrading our existing furnishings and “releasing” the placeholder pieces I bought while waiting for that one perfect thing. It helps tremendously to have a designer on speed-dial. I’m forever texting Clay photos of things I see at estate sales or at Scott’s Antique Market. “This?” Seventy-five percent of the time he texts back “God, no!”

8. How does artwork fit into your designs?

I tend to like landscapes and portraits with some antique prints thrown in, and I usually group art in a room according to theme. My husband accuses me of buying the same painting over and over again, but I know what I like! Our living room in Atlanta is mostly hung with oil paintings of European villages and landscapes, while the stair-hall features beautifully matted antique bird prints. The downstairs powder room has a blue and white toile paper depicting bird dogs, so the art consists of watercolors and prints of bird dogs. At our beach house on Tybee Island we have long picture ledges in the living room displaying my collection of vintage oil paintings by amateur artists of seascapes and river scenes—most of which show a full moon reflected in the water.


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

A yellow legal pad. I guess I’d have to MacGyver something to write with, but I can’t imagine a life where I’m not scribbling something.

10. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the writing industry.

My motto is “you can’t fix what you ain’t wrote.”

Once you’ve started a piece of writing, forge all the way ahead to the end of your story before beginning serious revisions. Too many beginning writers succumb to the idea that every paragraph must be perfect. They erase and polish for months on end—ending up with one exquisite paragraph but no story. Bash out your story in rough draft form. Let it “marinade” as an editor of mine once called it, then go back and revise and rewrite.

We love Kathy’s take on design and the relaxed, laid-back, yet refined vibe we’re getting from her responses. And we cannot wait to check out her cookbook next year – it promises some classic cuisine, done with Kathy’s unique, fresh take on cooking. Keep an eye out for an update from us on The Beach House Cookbook, due out in May of next year!

A huge shout out to one of our favorite authors – and “junkers” – Kathy Hogan Trocheck aka. Mary Kay Andrews – we’re so honored to have had the opportunity to feature her as at Tastemaker for steve mckenzie’s!!