Our inspiration for the new Honeycomb Tables came directly from the amazing honeybees at our farm in Aurora. Each table is completely made by hand in the Philippines and then further embellished in our New York studios with three-dimensional brass bees and handmade ceramic feet.

My trip to the Philippines really brought this product to life, especially after seeing the beautiful tabletops being made for us by a small group of artisans in Cebu. The honeycomb pattern on each top is a hand-applied marquetry made from maple, khaya, and black-dyed poplar veneers. And don’t forget the bee! Each top is jeweled with one beautiful bee made from tiny pieces of capiz shell, which is indigenous to this area of the world.

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Honeycomb veneer in maple with marquetry tools.

I watched one of the artisans carefully select a piece of shell no bigger than a ladybug and painstakingly place it into the veneer bee framework, as though putting together an incredibly intricate jigsaw puzzle. The inlay for each bee takes at least an hour to create, as each tiny piece is carefully placed into the pattern.


Delicate, tiny shell pieces for the bee inlay.


Upholstered capiz bee sample that production follows.










Once the bee is completed, it’s then carefully laid into the top, and gently polished by hand to reveal the luminescence and soft colors that are natural to the capiz shells.


Capiz bee inlay before final polishing.

It’s difficult to explain just how much care goes into each and every table. But what strikes me most is all of the wonderful friendships we’ve made here on the other side of the world. I want to celebrate these partnerships, which feel like natural extensions of our own studio in Aurora. The skill and artistry we have discovered here and in other small pockets around the globe have allowed us to do things far beyond our capabilities in Aurora, bringing to life our vision for many new designs. It’s simply amazing to me.


Artisan applying capiz bee inlay, one tiny piece at a time.


This process takes such concentration and patience!




Our Honeycomb Round Coffee Table with all its embellishments!


“Paris is always a good idea.” I’ve referenced this quote before but don’t think I’ve ever expressed why I adore this line so much. Oh Sabrina, you took your girlish heartbreak and disappointments and laid them at the feet of the great City of Lights; the charm, the elegance, and the passion for style transformed you. Audrey Hepburn’s brilliant ingenue Sabrina absorbs the essence of this great city and emerges from her chrysalis bright, elegant and so very perfectly stylish. Every time I get to go there, I always hope a little of that magic comes home with me.


Good morning Paris!

Good morning Paris!

vintage bead shop in Marche aux puces

Vintage bead shop in Marché aux Puces

antique bookstore in the 1st Arrondissement

Antique bookstore in the 1st Arrondissement

incredible table lamps made from found tabletop and kitchen pieces

Incredible table lamps made from found tabletop and kitchen pieces

Vive la France!

Vive la France!

place de la Madeleine agaisnt a blue sky

Place de la Madeleine against a blue sky


Best tea in th world- Mariage Freres

Best tea in the world- Mariage Frères

street sweets!

Street Sweets!


antique store in Marche aux puces

Antique store in Marché aux Puces

Place Vendome

Place Vendôme

 adorable shop owner!

Window Shopping

Very favorite restaurant in Paris near 'La Tour Eiffel

Very favorite restaurant in Paris near ‘La Tour Eiffel

Ladurée Macarons- too good to be true!

Ladurée Macarons- too good to be true!




A few weeks ago, I was honored to be featured on WGN TV Chicago’s “Lunchbreak” segment! I was in town visiting our new shop inside Bloomingdale’s Medinah Home Store, and was asked to share some of my favorite holiday recipes.

Palmiers with Parsley Pepita Pesto

These light puff-pastry appetizers couldn’t be simpler! They are inspired by a recipe from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. Feel free to substitute ingredients for the filling! Prosciutto, honey mustard, and Parmesan are perfect too!

Download a printable recipe card

Download a printable recipe card here

Eton Mess

This DELICIOUS and simple recipe is something I learned from Jamie Oliver’s wonderful cookbook, Cooking with Jamie. This one is a tradition–it’s my family’s go-to dessert, and we are NOT allowed to have Christmas Eve without it!

Download a printable recipe card here

Download a printable recipe card here

Buche de Thanksgiving

Bûche is the French word for “log,” and a Bûche de Noël is is a chocolate cake made to look like a tree log and served as a traditional French Christmas dessert. This is a twist on that using the flavors of Thanksgiving, from Cold Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase.

Download a printable recipe card here

Download a printable recipe card here



So how did our beloved Courtly Check get its name and what is its origin? Who knows where the spark actually ignited—might it have been Italian black and white marble floors from a Venetian Palace that started it, or ancient handwoven textiles from Africa? Was it inspired by a chess tournament, or Jean Cocteau’s socks? The traditional black and white check certainly has its place in history and seems to resonate in some way with everyone. Over the past thirty years or so, our unique spin on this much-loved pattern has been incorporated into designs for everything from dinnerware to eyeglass frames, and everything in between. One thing is for certain—our Courtly Check has withstood the test of time and become a favorite to an incredibly dedicated following.

As far as I can remember, our checks first appeared as a thin border composed of a few rows in varnished oil color on the bonnet and base of our hand-painted armoire. Visually, it seemed the perfect punctuation mark to top this beautiful piece, but it also served to divide two other ornate patterns.


Then in 1995, MacKenzie-Childs launched a collection of hand-painted enamelware fondly referred to as Roasted Marshmallow, which featured a new twist on the black and white check. The pattern was part of the Camp MacKenzie-Childs collection, designed for casual outdoor use and glamping, but we soon discovered it was also great layered into our unique point of view on formal place settings. The deliberate but spontaneous use of additional colors dragged through each check made it highly unique and no two pieces were ever alike. The caramel-like amber tones pulled through the creamy white and black checks was reminiscent of the look of marshmallows perfectly toasted over an open fire. A few years later, an editor referred to MacKenzie-Childs as “the court jester of tabletop,” and upon that comment, Roasted Marshmallow was renamed more appropriately as Courtly Check.



The Courtly Check pattern continued to make small, random appearances on a wide variety of designs including hand-painted glassware, but it was nearly a decade later that the pattern began its steady rise to stardom. Alongside the increasingly popular Courtly Check enamelware, the pattern went into use in a full range of artisanal Aurora-made ceramic dinnerware. And then in 2009, after years of development, we were able to successfully print the pattern on linen. Upon doing so, the Underpinnings Upholstered Furniture Collection was born. It was in this moment that Courtly Check began to take center stage not only as a detail pattern, but as a primary foundation on top of which to layer color and other patterns. It’s our version of a neutral surface, if you will. Using our own printed fabrics has launched an entire new wave of ideas, allowing our checks to appear in unexpected places such as accent pillows, outdoor cushions, notebooks, personal accessories, pet accessories, wallpaper, and so much more.


Today, Courtly Check is undeniably our signature. We’ve had fun hand-painting tea kettles, walls, bowling shoes, soccer balls, and pumpkins with it. We’ve worn it as trousers, aprons, and coats, and we’ve dressed windows and beds with it. My son has hand-painted Courtly Check high-tops, and my husband walks our dog with a Courtly Check lead (and of course Flanna sports a matching collar). It’s weird to say, but is has woven itself into the fiber of our household, sort of knitting things together. And I never tire of it. Never. In fact, I’ve got my eye on an old tuxedo that I think might just look fabulous in Courtly Check.





We were beyond excited when we learned that London’s renowned merchants Fortnum & Mason had decided to devote considerable space on their first floor to an installation of MacKenzie-Childs. In case you’ve never been there, the store is quite legendary, and the idea of having our designs in the same shop where the Queen gets her tea made us just unbelievably happy.

The official opening of the pop-up shop happened to coincide with my son Alexei’s spring break, so it provided the perfect opportunity to take him with me to London so he could finally see this fabulous place for himself. I was excited about the trip for so many reasons; it was a chance to return to my favorite city, and for me, a dream come true, to see our products displayed in a store I have always revered as the most beautiful in the world. Best of all, it would be Alexei’s first chance to visit there, and absorb firsthand a bit of its incredible history.


So about Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly…the Queen actually refers to this treasure as her grocery store. I’m sure that conjures up an interesting image, but let me try and paint a more detailed picture for you. The ground floor is filled with handmade confections that turn treats and sweets from your wildest imagination into three dimensional reality. Glass jarred candies are named things like Toodle Pips, Potted Shrimp, Splendid Sweets, Rosey Apples, Licorice Bits & Bobs, Bouncing Babies, and Teddy Tots. Delicious biscuits line the shelves in tins that boast colorful art from a history of nearly 250 years.


Sales associates have a wealth of knowledge about every product, and their attention to each and every customer makes you feel like royalty. Everything in the store is perfectly curated and so very special; particularly fabulous are a range of bespoke products they will tailor-make just for you. A special restaurant can be found on each floor, as well as fine china, picnic hampers, special apparel, home furnishings and much more. They have their own beehives on the rooftop, and legend has it that the bees collect their pollen from the royal gardens at Buckingham Palace. We bought a jar of the Queen’s favorite honey and it is D I V I N E.


What I hadn’t expected from this trip really hit me as a pleasant surprise. Although I talk about it often, and we draw connections to it in many of the pieces we write about our company, the realization that so much of our inspiration really does hale from English traditions came full circle for me. Our founders lived in England for a few years while they worked in a pottery, and when they returned to New York, they brought the technique for ceramics which we still use today. But it’s more than all that. We have a serious connection to English culture, and a deep love for all things English. I confess! I’m an Anglophile! I find people from England so special—and this goes far beyond their lovely musical accents, whether it be Cockney or the Queen’s English. They do things with such flourish and they are such an incredibly sentimental bunch. They have a great sense of humor and they don’t take themselves too seriously. And of course their love of tea and all that goes with it is without rival. Since our very beginnings, we at MacKenzie-Childs have always felt so connected to the English, and we still feel the same way today.

My Londoner friend Martyn (from Battersea, on the south side of the River Thames) shared a tip: Did you know that the English pour their cold milk into their teacups before they pour their tea? Make no mistake—Americans do it the other way around.



P.S. My dear friend and sales director Mark joined us on the trip and shared some of his great photos. Here are a few highlights:


The London Eye

Alexei scrapbooking every detail of our trip

Alexei scrapbooking every detail of our trip

A visit to the Peter Pan sculpture in Kensington Gardens

A visit to the Peter Pan sculpture in Kensington Gardens


Taking a boat ride under Tower Bridge, Union Jack flying!


The Albert Bridge, London’s most celebrated, over the Thames in West London at night

How does an imaginative, super-talented team of photographers, stylists, graphic designers, and set designers make a great catalog spread come to life? I asked members of the team to describe life behind the scenes on one of our most important photo shoots of the season. This spring, we debut the Rosie Sweet Furniture Collection with Posie Pop bedding for little girls. The photo shoot featuring this fantastic collection was a major undertaking; the results look effortless, but actually took days to complete. The shoot consisted of re-outfitting a bedroom (including laying a new floor), creating clouds from cotton batting, directing a dog (a pale pink poodle at that!), designing the illusion of a bright spring afternoon, and trying to stay toasty in a no-heat situation as the brisk fall season in Upstate New York set in.

Here are a few words from each to describe the shoot…
Beth: “Rose-colored glasses aside, this talented team loves a creative challenge.”
Andrea: “The poodle was definitely the best behaved.”
Walter: “Wait…did you just say you need me to ‘build & shoot a bedroom inside of a bedroom’?!?”
Maria: “I had my head in the clouds that day ;)”
Kim: “Clouds came floating into my life…not to carry rain, but to consume me.”


Beth meticulously styling Daisy the Cow with my new favorite (pink) book, The Luckiest Girl.

Beth meticulously styling Daisy the Cow with my new favorite (pink) book, The Luckiest Girl.

Walter making adjustments.

Walter making adjustments.

Beth, Maria, Walter, and Kim.

Beth, Maria, Walter, and Kim.

Kim contemplating the finishing touches on the dreamiest bed, complete with fresh bouquets in the vases.

Kim contemplating the finishing touches on the dreamiest bed, complete with fresh bouquets in the vases.

How is the light? Hmmmmm…not sure. Could you move that pillow a scooch to the left, please?

How is the light? Hmmmmm…not sure. Could you move that pillow a scooch to the left, please?

The other side of the room.

The other side of the room.

Beth making clouds.

Beth making clouds.

Andrea working on the set.

Andrea working on the set.

The final shot: Dreaming in pink.

The final shot: Dreaming in pink.


Last week in our New York City store, we had the wonderful opportunity to host our new friend Joy Wilson while she was in town from New Orleans. The party was to help celebrate the launch of her second cookbook, Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats.


Is your mouth watering yet? If you haven’t seen her books yet or read her blog, then get ready, because she is turning the food world into a party you won’t want to miss. I read about food all the time—it’s one of my passions—and discovering Joy’s blog about two years ago was a watershed moment. She’s adorable, fascinating, and, I might add, a bit sassy…and her take on food fits the MacKenzie-Childs point of view to a “T.”


It’s sort of a girl thing…I mean the way Joy talks about food. She is witty and fresh, and she is all about quality and the art of oven-to-table; a perfect fit for MacKenzie-Childs. Joy is a big fan of our Flower Market pattern, so we set the table for 25 editors and friends with Flower Market enamelware, Courtly Check ceramics, fresh flowers, and towers of her scrumptious baked goods.

Bon Appétit!





Paris in September? Perfect—what could be better! Only, on this recent trip I was laser-focused on our exhibition at Maison & Objet, the most intense home furnishings trade show in the world. It is Paris in miniature, a tempest in a teapot, and the eye candy is overwhelming. Just to attend this show once can be life-altering; yet we were there, exhibiting for our second time. So you see, precious little time was spent wandering the streets, chatting with the street crepe vendor, pawing over the latest fabrics from Pierre Frey and others, or walking leisurely around the fabulous antique markets and small shops throughout the most beautiful city in the world.

Window shopping at 6:00 in the morning; trouble with that is that the shops are all closed!

The trip was short and sweet, and filled with the pressures of working abroad, but as always I savored such moments as these:

  • riding through the streets going to and from working at the show, seeing people just living their lives as though unaware they existed in the true epicenter of the civilized world; the traffic wrapping the Arc de Triomphe, their taillights like a necklace of ruby beads
  • the sparkling Eiffel Tower, a beacon for the city twinkling in the night sky
  • waking up in the early morning in the apartment we leased in the 6th arrondissement; the sounds of bicycle bells and street cleaners coming up from the street below our open windows; the lovely cadences of the French language
  • the flavors of the best breads and pastries in the world
  • the latest street fashions; I never fail to marvel at how fabulous everyone always seems to look
  • the barges on the Seine, a city within the city
  • the great iconic cathedral, like a living character out of Victor Hugo

Like countless before me, I’ve forever succumbed to the charms of this incredible city. I always come home with a new appreciation for the piano music by the French modernists my son is constantly playing.


Let's just say, Flanna didn't want me to go.

Let’s just say, Flanna didn’t want me to go.

Earlier this month, my good friend Sarah and I had the rare privilege to feast on a fantastic Lebanese lunch prepared by none other than our new friend and chef extraordinaire, Julie Taboulie. For those of you who don’t know Julie, I’ll do my best to describe her. A few adjectives will doubtless come to mind the very moment you meet her: radiant, gorgeous, sincere, intuitive, smart, talented, incredibly personable, passionate, delightful beyond belief. Need I go on? Basically, when you are in her presence, Julie just makes you feel like you are basking in gorgeous Mediterranean rays of sunshine. She is full of ideas and is determined to singlehandedly educate the world in the marvels, health benefits, and delicacies of Lebanese cuisine–and mark my words, she will do it! With her delightful (and adorable) “Mama” by her side, who Julie claims is her cultural fact-checker and quality minister, the world will be a better place once everyone has indulged in Julie’s recipes. Trust me. I am on a mission to help spread the word.



Her show, “Cooking with Julie Taboulie,” airs on Create TV. Check her website for listings and updates at julietaboulie.com.

This is what Julie prepared for our amazing lunch at our MacKenzie-Childs Studio. She was kind enough to recap for us here:


Mouthwatering Mezze Plate

Labneh, homemade Lebanese strained yogurt: creamy, dreamy, and deliciously strained, silky smooth yet substantially significant, Lebanese yogurt drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with savory and spicy spices, scooped up with warm wedges of Lebanese pocket pita bread.
Jibneh Mashallale, homemade Syrian string cheese: stringy, soft, and somewhat salty super-skinny strands of braided cheese, seasoned with subtle spices, sea salt, and spiked with itsy-bitsy black nigella slightly-smoky spiced seeds (Habbat al Barakah, meaning “blessed seed”).
Zaytoun, olive: the “unofficial official” olive of Lebanon. These small, salty, and spicy cracked, marinated green olives are seen spread atop small plate upon small plate, and presented alongside traditional Lebanese mezze and meals morning, noon or night, making mouths water for more and more of these zingy-zesty Zaytoun!


Za’atar, Lebanese “Thyme Seasoning” Savory Signature Spice

Za’atar: literally translates to “thyme” in Lebanese. This traditional and staple savory spice mixture is made of freshly dried wild Za’atar, Greek oregano, thyme, sumac spice, sea salt, and sesame seeds that are slightly toasted. Then this earthy and zesty thyme herb blend is finely ground together to create a truly one-of-a-kind taste that is tart, tangy, savory, slightly sour, and salty, yet suddenly sharp all at the same time. This alluring, appealing, and aromatic signature spice of Lebanon is, above all, addictively and appetizingly tasty.

You Just Found Your New Favorite Salad: Fattoush

Fattoush: belonging to the family of dishes known as “fattat,” meaning to use day-old flatbread as a base, this Lebanese-Levantine peasant bread salad is anything but peasant-tasting and full of sudden surprises! An exhilarating and eclectic explosion of colorful, fresh, and flavorful vibrant vegetable variety and hand-picked herbs meet a medley of mixed greens dressed in an extra virgin olive oil, lemon, garlic, and herb vivacious vinaigrette that is generously spiked with sumac spice, then tossed together with crispy-crunchy and toasted-to-perfection pocket pita bread pieces that place this salad in a whole other hemisphere. Unlike its ultra-finely chopped counterpart, taboulie, comparatively speaking this salad is roughly chopped into rather large rustic-style slices, and seasoned sour-to-taste, creating a truly out-of-sight salad!


Crave-a-licious Coosa Bil’ Lahme Mahshi! Stuffed Middle Eastern Specialty Squash

Coosa Bil’ Lahme Mahshi: Middle Eastern specialty squash stuffed with a mixture of lamb meat, long grain rice, and mint, slowly simmered away in a tomato-based broth.

I’m sharing with you my summer-licious Middle Eastern specialty summer squash called Coosa! It is light green in color, small in size, and unique in texture, with a thinner skin and a one-of-a-kind taste that separates this squash in a class all its own. Originating in the Middle East, Coosa is the staple of all the squash selections there, and now it has made its way across the Atlantic into our American heartland; it seems to be coming up everywhere! In our local farms, farm stands, regional markets, and more, I’ve personally noticed people becoming quite curious about it. Typical varieties you may come across are Magda, Bark, and Cancun, and thankfully I don’t have to go too far to find my Coosa, as Mama has her crops coming up in the garden!

Delicately cored, cleaned, and stuffed with a savory filling composed of ground meat, long grain rice, fresh mint, tomato paste, and seasonings that are slowly simmered away in a tomato-based broth, it tastes incredible. The deliciously savory stuffing is enclosed in a tender-to-the-taste squash. A tasty tomato soup is also created as the squash is simmering away, so you will also have two wonderful ways in which to serve it. You can ladle some of the tasty tomato soup in a shallow bowl and lay the cooked, stuffed squash right on top, or serve the soup alongside of the Coosa. So there you have it, one complete main meal or a side dish accompanying a main meal, and either way, as you serve it up, there is no doubt in mind that you will find it to be completely crave-a-licious!


Waraq Inab: Fresh-From-The-Vine Glorious Grape Leaves

Mahshi Waraq Inab Althah: Fresh-from-the-vine grape leaves filled with a vegetable, herb, and long grain rice mixture, slowly simmered in a fresh lemon juice and garlicky-good broth.

When most people think of grape leaves, they may think of the grapes themselves (and wines, of course), but grape leaves are actually delicious and nutritious edible leaves that are used in an array of recipes within Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisines. And, this is one of my culture’s most famous dishes of all time: fresh-from-the-vine stuffed grape leaves. Mahshi Waraq Inab, literally meaning “stuffed grape leaves,” is just that! Freshly picked, filled, wrapped, and rolled up with a simply satiable mixture of vegetables and herbs along with long grain rice, layered alongside one another, then slowly simmered in a saucepot of fresh lemon juice and garlicky-good broth to succulent perfection, tender on the outside and luscious on the inside; it all makes my grape leaves gratifying! Lebanese grape leaves are traditionally served hot or warm right out of the pot, on their own, as part of the Mezze, or as a main meal in and of itself. Paired with my refreshingly cool and crisp Persian cucumber, fresh mint, and homemade Lebanese yogurt salad Khyar bi Laban, it makes one unmistakably mouthwatering Middle Eastern meal!


MacKenzie-Childs Blissful Baklawa

Baklawa bi Bunduq: a lusciously layered phyllo-dough pastry with a hazelnut filling, flavored with subtle sweet spices, vanilla essence, and orange-blossom water, doused in a sumptuous orange-blossom syrup. Delicately decorated with MacKenzie-Childs’ celebrated Courtly Check hand-painted pattern in a creamy milk chocolate and vanilla-bean white chocolate coating for a famously sweet finish. Memorable and moist-as-can-be, it can only be a MacKenzie-Childs sweet, you see! I was inspired by Courtly Check, along with my adoration and affection for the arrangement of hazelnuts and chocolate, to create this signature sweet. Together these two harmonious motivators made a sweet masterpiece!

Julie and Mama in the garden

Julie and Mama in the garden


“People are hives…”
— Virginia Woolf

Once in a while, you meet someone who really makes you stop for a moment, and think a little differently about how you view the world. It might be the inflection in her voice, the way she phrases words like a singer would, how her eyes twinkle when she engages you in conversation, or how she can explain a point of view on any given matter with refreshing earnestness. Sanna Russo, who has worked in the MacKenzie-Childs furniture decorating department for nearly twenty years, is most definitely one of those people. I’ve observed her over the years as she sits at her decorating station quietly working away on countless projects, some of incredible complexity and demanding of exceptional skills; she’s like a one-woman arts-and-crafts movement! Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with Sanna and learn a bit more about exactly what makes her tick.

She grew up on a small farm in Finland among a very interesting family of five: her father a farmer, and her mother a farmer’s wife who was also a sculptor, whose pursuit in the arts was very active throughout the ’80s and ’90s. The entire family cherished education, and Sanna credits her mother for helping encourage her talent in painting and the arts. She claims this early training as a child is where she first developed her ability to see things dimensionally, constantly studying light and shadow while observing her mother sculpting gypsum cast reliefs and busts. In addition to her unbelievable skills with a brush, Sanna is also an incredible and avid knitter, trained in traditional Scandinavian techniques.

She adores where she now lives, tucked away in a quiet corner of the Finger Lakes. Despite the onward rush of society, satellite television, and the ubiquitous Internet, she feels people here are still profoundly connected to nature and the earth. This is important to her in that it’s exactly how she grew up; she even knows how to drive a workhorse! (How many people do you know who can do that?) Sanna also loves the very diverse and colorful nature of her colleagues at MacKenzie-Childs and deeply appreciates the idea of sharing stories of our experiences as a way of contributing to each other.

True to her old-world heritage, where everyone absorbs knowledge and skills from the older generation, Sanna is also an exceptional cabinet maker. At the age of seven, her father gave her a carving knife as a birthday present because he grew tired of her dulling, or sometimes even losing, his carving knives. Today, her left hand is full of scars earned while learning woodcarving. Sanna went on to attend Lahti Institute of Industrial Design in Finland. Her teacher once said “I will never be able to teach you all what you can do, but I can show you what you should not do.” And finally: “Don’t cut your fingers off!”

Today we all feel so fortunate to be able to work side-by-side with such a wonderful talent, and incredibly precious person.










Sanna Russo, furniture decorator since 1996.

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