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?!

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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!

 

Tastemaker Tuesday – Kalyn Johnson Chandler of Effie’s Paper

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Who else needs this coffee mug?!

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

 

 

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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.

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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.

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Parents to be, Molly and Jim
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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.

 

 

Motivation and an Update

Sometimes We Need a Little Motivation

This year, we are motivated to be present in the moment, thanks to a recent sermon from   our minister, Dr. Bill Burch.  Present in the moment means focusing your attention on your companion, your conversation, your surroundings, and not checking your phone.  All kinds of good things happen when this happens – better listening, better thinking and better relationships.  The 2018 focus for our church is “All In”, based on the book All In by Mark Batterson.  I plan to read it purposefully and mindfully.

On the flip side, sometimes you can’t be present with someone because they aren’t here.  Perhaps they moved across the country, moved on with a new job, or are gone forever.

You may remember our post last spring about our son’s fraternity brother, Weston Lee, who was killed in action.  This young man is sorely missed by his family and friends.  That’s an understatement, I know.  Now here’s the update — our son, Carter, is running the Publix Half Marathon on March 18th in memory of Weston with a GoFundMe and all money donated will benefit the University of North Georgia  scholarship in Weston’s memory.

The irony of this? Carter admittedly hates running, which he readily admits, and hopes to motivate others to keep Weston’s spirit and his dedication to service alive.  He knows Weston would be urging him on as he doggedly trains for this race.

Another reminder to cherish the time with your friends and family…

That’s what life is about, isn’t it? Connecting, making friends, having adventures together,   motivating each other to be your best self.

On a lighter note, preparations are underway for our son’s wedding in two weeks!  We’re motivated by love to host the rehearsal dinner for this wonderful couple, their supportive friends and family.  Casual, comfortable and special is the mantra for the evening with the Southern Crust food truck, table decor by Steve and more surprises.  Stay tuned for details!

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Game Time

Not only do we have college football and basketball games (Go Butler Bulldogs!) to look forward to this winter, but our family looks forward to board games together.  As our kids are young adults now, it’s the season to gather round the table for some game time.

Steve and I took up backgammon this year and love it.  Keeps us unplugged and thinking strategically about the next move.  Perhaps this would be a welcome gift for someone on your list?

Here is one of the hottest new games, have you played Catan?  Looking forward to learning this interactive game of settlers with our adult kids.

Another fun intergenerational family activity is a puzzle.  Many folks leave one out on a table so family and friends can stop and work on it a bit at a time.

Along with the perennial favorite Georgia puzzle, there are some new ones in stock – State Flags, and New England states.  Stop in or call for the best selection.

Atlanta, state, puzzle, game,
Georgia State Puzzle – 500 pieces for ages 10 and up

Game time calls for crunch snacks.  This Asian-inspired snack mix from Cooking Light looks like just the right recipe to share over your next game.

Photo credit: Jennifer Causey

Thank you for letting us share our thoughts as we make plans to create special memories together. That’s what this is all about, right? And let’s keep it easy, unplugged and authentic.  Tell us what your family does to have fun together.

 

 

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Make some Mother’s Day memories!

To all those in our life who mother – thank you!! For being there for the ones you love and doing all you do, sometimes with little recognition, this one’s for you…


We hope today is a day full of wonderful times, which will become beautiful memories!

Much love to all the moms out there – today and every day!!

May Luck be Your Lady Today

Happy St. Patrick’s Day all!! We hope the day is treating you well and you’re wearing a little green to celebrate…

Enjoy the festivities – and a green beer, if that’s your thing, during cocktail hour this evening – and have a wonderful day!!

Click here to check out our festive St. Patrick’s Day messages from the past three years… There are some gems to enjoy for sure!

More than just suits… Dress for Success Atlanta

We’ve recently been introduced to our local Atlanta affiliate of the Dress for Success organization and were so touched by a presentation by Sandy Johnson, a Dress for Success Atlanta Senior Staff Member, at a West Midtown Business Alliance meeting, we had to share a bit about her and this fantastic organization with you!

And please keep an eye out for information on a future event we’re working on with Dress for Success Atlanta – it’ll be a great opportunity to sip, shop and support at the same time!

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The mission of Dress for Success Atlanta is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. 

Dress for Success Atlanta, formerly Working Wardrobe, was founded in 1997 by Deborah Wolf. Ms. Wolf created the organization after seeing numerous highly-skilled applicants through her medical staffing agency who could not be placed in professional positions because they did not have appropriate interview attire. She urged her friends and colleagues to help her with donations of gently-used suits and accessories and to volunteer as Personal Shoppers to assist clients in finding just the right outfit for an interview. Ms. Wolf secured donated space from the Apparel Mart. Until 1999, Dress for Success Atlanta was an all-volunteer organization.

Sandy Johnson, Dress for Success Atlanta Senior Staff Member
Sandy Johnson, Dress for Success Atlanta Senior Staff Member

In listening to Sandy’s West Midtown Business Alliance presentation and speaking with her since then, we’ve learned that Dress for Success Atlanta really is so much more than providing work appropriate clothes for women looking to enter/reenter the job force. It’s all about preparing them to ace an interview, give them the confidence they need to succeed, as well as the resources they’ll require before and after getting a job to maintain the momentum they’ve built up throughout the process.

May 2015 Going Places Network Graduates
May 2015 Going Places Network Graduates

One of the most interesting components – and one that’s proven especially valuable to the Dress for Success Atlanta participants – is their “Going Places Network,” which is a 6-10 week program, sponsored by WalMart, where women who are un-or-under-employed work to better themselves to become more desirable job candidates. Through this program, mock interviews are held, resume writing classes take place and general interview preparedness processes are put into place.

Through all of the great work Sandy, and the Dress for Success Atlanta team (comprised mostly of volunteers) do, they boast a 70% success rare for hires within 60 days of program completion! That’s amazing. And the soft skills these women work on, such as eye contact, self expression and response development, shouldn’t be taken lightly. These will be skills bound to these women for the rest of their lives, bettering them not just for immediate job placement, but also advancement over time.

A Healthy Cooking Demo at a Pro-Woman's Group Meeting
A Healthy Cooking Demo at a Pro-Woman’s Group Weekly Meeting

Dress for Success Atlanta also hosts a Pro-Women’s Group, who meet on a monthly basis to encourage job retention and advancement. It offers participants an invaluable network of other professional women who truly understand them, and can provide help and support on a personal level, beyond pure professional networking. The 70 long-time members of this group gather together to discuss anything from life balance to financial literacy.

Sandy shared that each time a woman puts on a suit for the first time, their reaction is priceless. Usually it’s a “WOW!” combined with sharper posture and overall more positive demeanor – and these are immediate results!

We’re so looking forward to working with Sandy and Dress for Success Atlanta, and if you’re interested in giving back to this great organization, check out their “Get Involved” webpage for more info and be sure to keep a lookout for info regarding a future event at the steve mckenzie’s showroom!

Museum Monday: Rodin Museum

C’mon on kids – let’s go to a museum!

The Rodin Museum, an ideal place to visit when looking into family-friendly Paris attractions…

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Yes, believe it or not, this classical museum was a wonderful stop for the whole McKenzie clan during previous visits to France.

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It’s located in a neighborhood, in a beautiful mansion, that was actually a home, which was lived in and donated for the purpose of being a museum. This allows you to really picture how one lived back when the home was first built.

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The Rodin Museum also features some lovely gardens, which provide a perfect place for kids to skip around and let off some steam, in the midst of what may be a busy, whirlwind vacation.

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Carter McKenzie enjoying the Rodin Museum on a family vacation to Paris.

It’s also not as fussy as a traditional museum, and the featured artwork is really easy to discuss with family and will encourage the kids to expand their cultural horizons and will hopefully work to inspire them to become even greater art appreciators!

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Here’s a bit on the history of the Rodin Museum in the 18th century:

The mansion that now houses the Musée Rodin was built in the Rue de Varenne, Paris, between 1727 and 1737, for the wealthy financier Abraham Peyrenc de Moras (1686-1732). The project, eventually overseen by Jean Aubert, Architect to the King, is a shining example of the rocaille architecture that was fashionable at this time. Constructed on the outer limits of Paris, it was both a town house and a country residence. Abraham Peyrenc de Moras died in 1732, before his new home, notably the interior decoration on the first floor, was completed.

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In 1736, his widow rented out the mansion to the Duchess of Maine. While the new tenant did little to modify the exterior of the building, rather more alterations were made to the interior layout. When the duchess died in 1753, Peyrenc de Moras’s widow sold the estate to Louis-Antoine de Gontaut-Biron (1700-88), the future Marshal Biron. The changes he made mainly involved the grounds, which had been since then one of the most beautiful and best-known gardens in Paris. While respecting the typical layout of a French classical garden and the species planted by the original owner Abraham Peyrenc de Moras, Biron had added new features. He doubled the size of the ornamental garden, had a circular pool dug and made part of the grounds into an English-style garden. Peyrenc de Moras’s kitchen garden survived, but was moved to a different part of the estate. The appearance of the gardens during this period is well known, notably thanks to the descriptions and engravings of them published between 1776 and 1778. Marshal Biron leaved the mansion the name by which it is still known today, the Hôtel Biron.

For an expanded history, please visit this page on the Rodin Museum website.

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For some other tips on making the most of your family-friendly Paris vacation, check out this “Paris for Kids” Travel Guide from the New York Times.

And if you find yourself in Paris soon, or are planning a visit in the future, be sure to add the Rodin Museum to your list of must-see places; and check out their future exhibitions – we promise you won’t be disappointed!