The Meaning of Maggie

When James Lipton asks that question on every show of Inside The Actor's Studio-- "What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?"-- I'm always torn between a painter and an author. Both offer the ability to work from anywhere, like a cute cabin in the woods or that beach house I dream of so often. So, when Atlanta based author, Megan Jean Sovern wrote to me last month, sharing the story of a recent novel she wrote (for kids age 8-12), I was at full attention. I knew I wanted to support her efforts, particularly after I saw how gosh darn adorable it all was....

As Megan shared, "The Meaning of Maggie is about eleven year old Maggie Mayfield's blazing trail to the White House armed with a head full of brains and a backpack full of snacks. She's a girl on a clear mission. But that mission is derailed when her dad's legs permanently fall asleep. What happened? The truth? It's not what happened. It's what's happening. Maggie switches gears from global domination to unraveling the mysteries surrounding her family." 

Megan drew on her own life for some of the storylines and characters but as she concedes, "Maggie is way tougher than I am. She can also handle her Mike and Ikes better than I ever could." She wrote the book in coffee shops and on park benches not far from her home in the Poncey Highland area of Atlanta and felt inspired by the South. Megan, "Southerners are bred with an amazing amount of resilience. To heat and mosquitoes and haunted pasts. And Maggie and her family use that resilience to take on every challenge that lies ahead of them." 

When her publisher, Chronicle Books, wanted a book trailer, she was quick to take on the task herself. As an advertising copywriter by day, Megan wrote the script along with her husband and enlisted Georgia Tribuiani to direct. This short trailer is as delightful and imaginative as her subject matter.  

Megan's writing style helps churn our imagination and create the world of Miss Maggie. What I love about the trailer is how those images in our head now come to life, setting the scene and backdrop so perfectly. Plus, she's conjuring up my own past. Being born in the 70's-- typewriters, candy corn and bad wedding photos on the dressers are all symbolic of my own childhood. I may be older than 12, but I have to admit, this book speaks to me...

Megan, "My intention was to write a story about a family who is handed an incredible challenge and it doesn't tear them apart. In fact, it makes them stronger, better and even funnier. I also always wanted to write something with a Spaceballs reference. I finally succeeded." I'm not sure what other profession Megan herself would like to attempt but I hope she doesn't deviate from author anytime soon.

Find, read, savor and share The Meaning of Maggie, here.


Photos: Raymond McCrea Jones      Content: Sweet Peach


The Masculine, Urban Bed. 

Bethanne Knudson and Stephan Michelson are the founders of The Oriole Mill in Hendersonville, North Carolina. It is here they partake and oversee in the production of jacquard fabrics to create luxurious textiles for the home. To their credit, 100% of the designing and weaving, the cutting and the sewing, happens at The Mill.

To create luxurious, super soft throws, coverlets, pillows and shams, they rely on fabrics that are warm and cozy, yet breathable. All of their textiles are made from natural fibers of cotton, wool, alpaca, linen and/or bamboo. And to ensure high quality and low impact, no chemicals are used in the weaving or finishing at the Mill. 

They currently offer four different collections. This one, the Brooklyn Collection shows off their manly side. As Bethanne shared, "It's a masculine, urban bed that was inspired by a fabric we make that is reminiscent of men's wear." 

Inside the Mill, you'll find Sew Co., founded by Libby O'Bryan. As stated on their site, "Sew Co.'s crew is composed of veteran factory workers who learned how to sew on the job during the South's manufacturing heydays of the 60's and 70's and have been sewing ever since."

The vets work alongside women who have studied fine dressmaking and costume design, so it's safe to say this is an impressive group of artisans. Together they utilize eight Jacquard and two high speed Dobby looms to create their fabrics. 

It was very important for Bethanne to create a manufacturing company much different from those of the past. Every step of the process happens under one roof, ensuring quality control- plus, it's very much a team effort here. Learn more about The Oriole Mill and see the entirety of their scrumptious, luxurious collections, here. 


Photos: Andrew Day/NY Times; The Oriole Mill     Content: Sweet Peach


Malvi Marshmallow Confections

When I met Laura Curtis Retana in front of her display of Malvi Marshmallow Confections, I was trying not to drool. Her marshmallow creations looked so tasty but I knew I couldn't try them, as I'm (so sadly) allergic to eggs. When I shared this with Laura, her reply was my favorite reply I've ever heard from a baker- "There aren't any eggs!" And then, the love obsession took hold, because these things are ridiculously, incredibly, amazingly delectable.  

Laura, "Malvis are all-natural hand made marshmallow cookie sandwiches, like a portable s'mores." She makes her perfectly delicious shortbread-style cookies then adds lots of addictive combinations into her Malvis, like dark chocolate and peppermint, vanilla bean and salted caramel, passion fruit and coconut, blueberries, milk chocolate and cinnamon...and more. Yum. 

Vanilla Salted Caramel is her best seller and my personal favorite. Laura, "Salt plays an important role in my baking and the magical salty-sweet combination is on full display in this Malvi." 

Laura showed up at my work last month with some new flavors and these Vanilla Salted Caramel Minis. Hold me down, lord, these things make me do something I only do on rare occasions- I eat something so unexpectedly delicious, I just can't even talk. To be overcome with joy and happiness is the experience of eating a Malvi Mini. Laura currently just makes them for special events but hopes to package them for customer consumption very soon. Yes please. 

Malvis (which is short for the Spanish word for marshmallow, Malvavisco) are no ordinary marshmallows. Laura, "Marshmallows are 90% air so it's hard to translate flavors through them and most marshmallows are just sugar with a hint of vanilla. Malvis, however, are flavor focused. All the color and flavor in Malvis comes from all-natural, top quality ingredients like organic chocolate, whole bean vanilla and powdered hibiscus. Malvis also have no corn syrup or egg products." 

Laura recently added a Sunshine Sampler to her shop, which is a 20 pack of 5 different flavors for just $25. Check out the entirety of her sweet and salty, super tasty marshamallow confections, here. And happy weekend everyone...


Photos: Three Pennies; Sweet Peach      Content: Sweet Peach


Eclectica Kiddo

If you live in Atlanta, you may have stepped inside Seed Factory, one of the loveliest and inspirational kid shops you'll find. And if you look along the walls, you'll notice some artwork that is hard not to fall madly in love with. All the pieces are commissioned and curated by Atlanta based company, Eclectica Kiddo. 

Laura Liatis and Emily Mann have combined their talents to provide the most scrumptious children's decor. Laura, "We are always looking for artists with a unique take on children's art." She added, "We want the imagery to be appealing to both children and design-minded parents: to be on trend without being trendy and cute without being cutesy." I believe that is exactly what they have accomplished. 

Ekaterina Trukhan, an artist originally from Russia who now resides in London, has built her career on children's artwok. Her cheery, playful images are just the sweetest, don't you think? 

Laura and Emily find artists that they want to work with, then challenge them with the task to create images just for children. Many of their artists (except Ekaterina) have never created artwork specifically for children before so together they guide the artist through the process. Kelsey Garrity Riley spent her childhood in Europe but relocated to the US to study at SCAD in Savannah, Georgia. As shared on the site, "Her beautiful watercolor images have a vintage feel with a unique contemporary twist." 

Teagan White has my heart as her work displays her deep affection for the natural world. Laura and Emily loved these images and decided to display them on birch panels, which is a lovely complement to the style and intention of Teagan's work. 

Atlanta based artist, Justine Rubin incorporated her love of collage and poppy colors to create this adorable series of animals for Eclectica Kiddo. This is Justine's first collection of published children's artwork. 

These days, I'm loving vivid color in design which is why I'm head over heels for the work of Abbey Rhodes. As stated on the site, "Abbey's work shows his appreciation for folk art and simplicity in design and pattern." Mr. Cat or Mr. Dog are available in bright blue, green, orange or yellow. 

Laura, "I absolutely love watching the imagery evolve from a conversation with our artist to a sketch, to a inked drawing, to a final image." While Laura, (seated to the right of Emily) brings a long career on the business side of art and art production to help run the operational side, Emily, an artist herself, is integral in the creative and collaboration process. Together, with a strong love for the arts, they make a perfect match. I loved that they saw a niche in the market and filled it with something sweet and cheery- and beautifully designed! Bravo...


Photos: Eclectica Kiddo site     Content: Sweet Peach


mb art studios

I'm in a bit of a hurry this morning as I went to bed at 2am and back up at the crack of dawn to start another day on set. But- I did luckily have some pics saved of some really pretty ceramics that I'd love to share from mb art studios today.  

Mary Burrows is from Austin, Texas and followed her creative passion after too many years inside an office cubicle. Mary, "What woke me up was having a child who didn't fit into the average 'box,' he helped open up my eyes to a whole new world." 

Today, she has let creativity take the lead in her life and passionately crafts all manner of dinnerware and items for the home. Mary, "My grandfather's parents were from Sweden and I seem to gravitate towards modern, Scandinavian design. I love patterns, black and white, color, wood, textiles and imperfection." 

I'm head over heels for this ocean blue and white porcelain plate. Mary, "Black underglaze is swirled onto each piece and reacts in the kiln with our own recipe of a clear, shiny glaze. The result is a deep blue and has a bit of mystery to it." 

It's funny, this plate is so needed on the TV set I'm working on right now. The crazy cast are acting, as expected, off their rocker. Oh lord, too many tales to tell. For now, I'll let this be my mantra for getting through the end of the show. I'm almost there... See all of Mary's truly gorgeous creations, here. 


Photos: mb art studios     Content: Sweet Peach



Clair Hartmann

I've been out of town a few weeks now on a job and I must admit, I miss my pups. These beautiful paintings of dogs by Clair Hartmann caught my eye today and I can't help but want to share...

Clair grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and is now based in Wilmington, North Carolina. She started painting regularly in 2008 after learning about a project started by painter, Duane Keiser. His idea was to produce one painting every day which would improve his artistic skills (not to mention his bank account). Inspired by all the dogs she saw at the local Farmer's Market where she worked each weekend- many of which were rescues with some incredible stories- she decided to paint their portraits. She loved the fact that each dog (and painting) had a story to tell. 

Besides painting all that inspires her each day, Clair is available for custom portraiture as well. This Great Dane is kind of amazing, don't you think? 

See Claire's current collection of paintings, which includes abstracts, landscapes and much more, here. 


Photos: Clair Hartmann site     Content: Sweet Peach


Maritime Supply 

I've worked on a lot of boats during my tv career and I have to say, I'm never that big a fan. I love the water but I hate rocking back and forth far from shore, feeling sick and wondering when I'm going to get off. But- that's me. I have a bunch of guy friends that love to spend time at sea, which is why I'll be emailing them this blog post today. Ian Nigh of Greenville, South Carolina started making anchor bracelets bent out of 6 gauge copper wire and slowly evolved his line into finished pieces like this Flemish (or figure eight) loop. Ian, "Knots like these are invaluable to workers on wharfs throughout the world as they dock ships for loading and unloading cargo."

These buoy bracelets are pretty ingenious. Ian, "Buoys have many uses in maritime culture. From warning signals of rocky perils to markers aiding fishermen in their daily trips." Each buoy is hand painted and distressed with the twisted cotton rope turned in a small American mill. These are also pre-shrunk. (I love these!) 

The Captain's Link bracelet quickly caught my eye. Ian, "In boating, this knot is known as the 'Duncan Loop' and is used to join almost anything to a line while retaining almost the full breaking strength of the line." The highest quality bolo is used to create this Dreadnought bracelet, which I love too. 

With such quality, original work, Ian's shop, Maritime Supply Co. is growing an impressive following. Ian, "A lot of the brand inspiration comes from and was created by Greenville local, Zach Landrum. He designed our Maritime Anchors and the Maritime Supply Co logo." 

This is quite the handsome bracelet for any boat guy. The Maritime Anchor is hand crafted and is one size fits all. The anchor comes in a silver or copper casting which is paired with an antique brown hand-treated leather cord.


Ian's Maritime Anchor Necklace is his best seller. As with all his products, his intention is to represent the rustic, old soul of America. It's a beauty...see the entirety of Ian's very manly maritime wares, here. And funny enough, I'm about to go work on a boat today. If only I had a stylish buoy bracelet to make it more fun... 


Photos: Maritime Supply site      Content: Sweet Peach


Waxing Kara

When I saw these honey lollipops dipped in dark chocolate, all I wanted to do was order a case of them. These tasty treats are the brainchild of Kara Brook who started beekeeping as a way to make beeswax for her encaustic paintings. (encaustic paint is made with beeswax, damar resin and pigment) Soon, however, she stumbled upon something quite unexpected. Kara, "In the process, I made the serendipitous discovery that honey is a much more precious gift from bees than wax." 

Kara now creates a bevy of natural products from her bees at Chesterhaven Beach Farm along Maryland's Eastern Shore. A true artist at heart, she finds deep satisfaction in keeping her bees happy and healthy. As we all know, without bees, we as a civilization cannot sustain our own agriculture. Kara, "It is my hope that you feel the expansive energy of life in the bees, sun and the waves instilling within Waxing Kara products." Above, are her wildly popular Honey and Lavender Pops.

Her honey looks and sounds divine. This year's Spring honey has notes of apple, pear, black locust, lavender, tulip poplar, wild blueberry and blackberry, clover, tupelo and wildflowers. The black locust tree is native to eastern North America and this past year it was in full bloom, filling the air with a sweet scent. This made for a bold and fragrant honey that goes beautifully with greek yogurt or bold cheeses. 

Kara loves the Orange Blossom honey mixed with butter on hot cornbread. It also pairs well as a syrup for pancakes or combined with a dark chocolate dessert. The Field of Wildflower honey is an excellent daily honey with a mild floral flavor and a strong, earthy finish. 

As honey is so good for the skin, Kara has also created a Honey Body Scrub and Body Butter. The Scrub is used for exfoliation to reduce signs of aging and brighten the skin texture while the Butter provides lavender scented moisture for up to 24 hours. So much goodness...learn more about her line of face and body products, here

Kara appears as busy as her bees as she also offers six different honey soap options- some with lavender or citrus blends, others with oatmeal or clove and cinnamon. 

I loved learning about Kara and her bees and especially how her love for painting has helped her recognize a new passion for honey and beekeeping. She's helping the planet, fulfilling a real passion and we all reap the benefits. It's safe to say I will be a loyal customer. First things first, I'm ordering some Honey Pops...  


Photos: Waxing Kara      Content: Sweet Peach



Ellen Cassilly and Frank Konhaus have combined their talents, passions (and their name) to create their dream home, Cassilhaus. Situated in the woods between Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, this modern home is also an artist retreat and residency. 

Ellen and Frank have a singular mission, "to provide a creative, comfortable, tranquil and visually stimulating environment for artists to get inspired and recharged to make new work." As artists spend their time recharging their creative minds at Cassilhaus, it is encouraged that they offer at least one service to the community during their stay- such as a class, workshop, performance, open studio or a reading. 

Cassilhaus was built to be a home/residency/studio. Ellen and Frank spent three years designing the home, paying close attention on how best to display art by creating diverse architectural spaces, variable ceiling heights, flexible lighting and an overall relaxed, inspirational space. This needed to be a home that worked well for themselves as well as the artists who come from around the world to visit. 

Cassilhaus is made up of two living pods. One pod is a multi level 3000 square foot main house and the other is a 1000 square foot, self contained guest house meant for month-long artist residencies. A long bridge structure joins the pods, which has a photo gallery and master suite. 

The outdoor spaces, which include multiple decks, a screened in porch and two terraces, are just as impressive. The whole home is set amongst the treetops and offers its residents semi-privacy to complete privacy. Learn more about Cassilhaus (and check out more pics), here. 


Photos: JWest Productions; Cassillhaus     Content: Sweet Peach


Kitchens to Inspire...

When I was remodeling my kitchen late last year, I relied entirely on home decor blogs for inspiration. I thought I'd pull some pics out of the folder I created to share some ideas for your own kitchens. And as we all know, it doesn't have to be a full remodel to make a change for the better... 

I love the idea of horizontal boards as a well as traditional subway tile. And I have to say, I'm a fan of open shelving in a kitchen, it just feels more interesting as you can style it like a bookshelf and show a bit of personality. 

It's nice when you can have a white backdrop and then just play with color using all manner of accessories (including the kitchen counter). So many good ideas out there- I hope you create your own desktop folder of kitchen pics you like. In time, you'll be inspired to paint a wall, change a light, put up a I said, small changes make a big impact. 


Photos: My Paradissi;;;;;;; Door Sixteen;;;;;      Content: Sweet Peach