Let's say we're all bees. Each and every one of us is buzzing about-
buzz buzz buzz.
The honey that we make is our lives. Experience has taught me two things...


...and LIFE is only as yummy as you make it!

Are YOU a Killer Bee?

bee my guest?

bee my guest?
Howdy Beezers! I'm excited to share something new with you... Over the upcoming months, most of the content you'll be seeing here will be from special guest contibutors! This is sure to add a new texture to this thing we've been weaving over the years. I know that many of my readers (yes, you!) are writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers. PLEASE feel free to contact me if there's something you'd like to contribute! I'd be most honored to pollinate... send me a note: m.mckinley@rocketmail.com

please be seated

February 28, 2009


Originally posted on February 28th, 2009

If you're a real music lover, then you know that every once in a while, a songwriter comes along whose very personal works form a direct link, or emotional connection to your own soul...

The first time Ron Morris caught my eye, was one night last Winter, when the clever video for his song "Boyfriend" was just beginning it's 16 week, top 5 run on The Logo Channel's Click List. I was instantly charmed, and went to his website to learn more.

What I discovered was a songwriter of serious caliber, and the voice of an angel. His songs are wonderfully catchy, and melodic. Lyrically they represent one man's journey- both the light and the dark. Those lyrics come from such an honest place, the listener has no choice but to be drawn in. I think that's the beauty of such honest songwriting. The audience is bound to find and relate to, their own human experience. After all, we all get up in the morning and put shoes on...

I got the chance to meet Ron in person at a gig he did in Chicago last Summer, while promoting his beautifully crafted, self-produced 3rd CD, "Truth Stained Lies". He's also a  terrific live performer, paired simply with his guitar and a microphone, and I can report that he's just a sweet as the songs he writes.

Ron was kind enough to do a little Q&A with me for the blog, and I hope that after you've had a chance to read it, you'll begin a musical journey with him for yourself...

MPM: Let's start with songwriting. First, who has influenced you musically, and who are you listening to now?

RM: I am influenced by everything I hear. When I was a kid, we listened to a lot of country music. I think that's where I got my earliest lessons in songwriting. Simple, straight-forward, honest songs. Dolly Parton. Loretta Lynn. Johnny Cash. There's a lot of romance in that music. Heartbreak and celebration. I listened to a lot of pop music in my teen years. Top 40 music ruled my life. Cyndi Lauper, Cher, Madonna, Tears for Fears, Culture Club, you name it. I was a pop radio junkie!

As I moved into my adult years, my music tastes matured, and became more diverse. I discovered the powers of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, and other greats. I studied theatre in college, and, the story telling elements of that art form also seeped into my psyche. Sondheim, William Finn, Kander and Ebb. When I hit the road for a few years after college(and started teaching myself guitar), contemporary singer-songwriters were on heavy rotation in my truck. Ani Difranco, Indigo Girls, PJ Harvey, Tracy Chapman, to name just a few. That huge, crazy mix somehow melted into me. In my ears allot these days....The Weepies, Joshua Radin, Iron and Wine...to name just a few. My current pop fixation is Jason Mraz. I'm a little like a teenage girl when it comes to his music. Great stuff.

MPM: Every songwriter has their "process". What's yours?

RM: It varies. Sometimes I get a riff that I play with on the guitar and see where it takes me. Sometimes, it's a line I've heard that I know will make a great lyric base. Always in pursuit of truth. More often than not, I find myself sitting with the guitar trying to capture an emotional energy that's in the air. I am driven to write, generally, to highlight an emotional moment... to highlight a truth that is floating out there in the universe.

MPM: In sharing your stories through music, what do you hope the listener takes with them?

RM: An authentic experience. I approach music as a celebration in many ways. That doesn't mean it's all "happy" by any stretch. I feel all the moments we experience in this life are gifts. I'm so grateful to be able to experience every thing this life has to offer. I've experienced my fair share of sadness, anger, angst, you name it. My music often bathes in all of those emotions, but at the core is a positive energy. I hope that resonates with listeners. They are half the conversation after all. Music really is a conversation between the singer and the audience. What you, as a listener, bring to the experience really helps shape what the song is. In that moment. We've all had the experience of listening to a song at different points in our life and having it mean different things. That's the beauty of it.

MPM: You sat in the producers chair for the first time with Truth Stained Lies. What was it like to wear the producers hat this time, and do you wish to write and or produce for others?

RM: I loved sitting in the producer's chair. It allowed me to own the final sound of the album in a way I never had before. It was a completely new experience for me. Listening to what the song really wants to be, and having the tools to sculpt it. That's a tricky thing about recording. You have the ability to play with a song outside of the performance. The key is to still keep the immediacy and authenticity while using those tools. I look forward to continuing to hone those skills. I must say, Bill Pillmore, who engineered and mixed the album was a huge help. He has the technical knowledge, and the ability to translate my grunts, groans, and hand signals, while trying to define what I'm looking for. I'm not sure I'm at a place yet to produce for other artists. I do, however, enjoy having other folks sing my tunes. I look forward to continued work on music for others.

MPM: The song RISE has been very inspiring to me, where did your inspiration come from in writing it?

RM: RISE is one of those songs that really felt like it came from outside of me. My partner's mother gave me her guitar. It was an old Red Ovation. Rusty strings. It had this great moaning quality. I had just started playing around with alternate tunings. She gave me the guitar, I played around with the tuning and found that opening riff. The rattling of the strings, and the "stop and move" nature of the riff took me over. It seemed to capture that need to move. To change. To evolve. There was a longing that felt so of the moment, to me personally. The song came out, rather quickly as I remember. I love it when that happens. A very special experience. I never wrote anything else on that guitar. In my romantic mind, I believe that was the song waiting to be written inside that guitar. I am glad it is inspiring to you. It has helped me through many a dark night!

MPM: I know it's only been 8 months since the release of Truth Stained Lies, but I'm already craving more, more, MORE! What can we expect next from Ron Morris?

RM: Currently, I am working on a new musical with my Roadworm label mate(http://www.roadwormmusic.com/), Jess Pillmore (http://www.jesspillmore.com/) A musical parable about the struggle to live in the Now. It uses music that we have written separately (and collectively) to tell the story of 8 people living in a small urban apartment building. Each persons voice is present in every song, showing the collective nature of life, and how we're all inextricably connected. Some songs from past albums are present in the show. I'm very excited about the project. It's called "Fear of Falling". Sound familiar?

MPM: When the Bees get their TV show, will you be our first guest?
RM: I'm there! Can I hold you to it?
MPM: Get ready for your close-up Ron....

The video for the song you can't stop humming -

 Ron's latest video, for his cover of We All Sleep Alone!


February 27, 2009

Light Up Your Life!

Let's begin with a little trivia.

Q. Why do we paint our ceilings white?

A. Because years ago our homes were poorly lit. Painting the ceiling white reflected more light back down. This was especially important in the evenings, when there was often only once source of light in a room. It's 2009. Between recessed, track, and the sheer amount of ambient lighting we now have in our homes, you needn't paint your ceiling light colors anymore. Especially white! Why no white ceilings? That's another rant, for another posting. Today it's all about lamps!
Most decorative lamps do double duty. They provide "ambient" [mood] light, but they also often serve the purpose of light "task", such as reading or dining. When selecting accent lighting, keep a few things in mind...
  • How much light will it "throw"? Do I need a lamp that allows for multiple levels of light, like one with a 3-way switch? Check to see the maximum wattage for the bulb it will take. For example, if it takes a maximum of 40watts, you won't get much of that "light-task" factor I was speaking of. It's going to just give you a nice glow.
  • How big is the room? Will I need multiple sources of that ambient light to get the glow I want? That also brings up the issue of scale. VERY important. There aren't necessarily any hardcore guidelines here, but a smaller scale lamp is generally more suitable for a bedside, or a buffet. On the other hand, a larger scale lamp can be just as effective, if not more interesting at a bedside, or on a buffet, as it is in a living room. And just so you know, oversize, chunky, "statement" lamps are BACK. Big time.
  • Buffets. It's about the only time I can tolerate a pair of anything. If you're bent on symmetry, you're probably hard-wired that way, so there's nothing I can do about it. Just know this: If you're going to put a pair of lamps in your living room, they had better be interesting! Who wants to see 2 boring lamps in one room? Got it?Traditional retail outlets aren't the only place to find great lamps. Vintage lamps are the rage right now and for good reason. The lamps of the 30's-70's were stylish! I'm not sure what happened in the 80's and 90's...At any rate, re-sale shops, estate sales, and ebay are all great places to look for vintage lighting.

Now the pretty part! I wouldn't leave you hanging without some cool places to start! I happen to have a real affection for the lamps that the following 3 companies manufacture. They all excel in 2 things I believe to be important when selecting a lamp. Quality and uniqueness. Remember that lamps do far more than add light to a room. They are also accessories...

Barbara Cosgrove

To find a retailer, email: customeservice@barbaracossgrovelamps.com



Arteriors Home

February 25, 2009

Kicking Butts Part 3: I Still Want One...

Yes. I still want a cigarette. Yes, it's getting easier every day.

Monday will be 4 weeks, I still have 8 to go. I'm 1/3rd through the program, and that feels great! I'm now on Phase 2, the 14mg patch. And am pleased to report that the awful sticky residue that nicotine patches used to leave behind seems to be a thing of the past. Again, I'm using the Walgreen's version...

A little trick I'd like to share. Whenever a craving washes over me [and yes they do, even with the patch on] I inhale as deeply as I can, and hold it for as long as I can. I slowly exhale, and get a sort of lovely, euphoric head rush that's the equivalent to the kind you get when you've been craving a cigarette for awhile, and finally get to have one. The bonus? I'm filling my lungs and bloodstream with oxygen instead of carbon monoxide! Sounds good. Think I'll do one right now...


Hello! I can't believe it's been almost 2 weeks! Where have I been you ask?

Let's just say I've been a really busy bee. I've been preparing a most important "bee related" document, and that's honestly all I can say about it for now, but I'll keep you posted...

Ooooh. So top secret!

Thank you for your patience. I would like to take a minute though, and let you know what you can be expecting in March & April...

  • I've got a slew of cool people lined up to Bee Our Guest. And we're excited to have them!

  • I've had many requests for more educational pieces on interior design, so I have several I'm working on. "Defining Neutral", and "Light Up Your Life" will be arriving shortly.

  • In a down-turn economy, it's more important than ever to patronize local businesses! Starting the first week of March, a new series called The R&R Report will feature the best of local owned retail and restaurants in the metro Milwaukee & Chicago areas.

  • And on occasion you just get served up a slice of my life. Not always tasty, but with interesting flavors...

Sometime yesterday, we cleared 3,500 hits collectively. In just 7 weeks. How cool is that?! We're certainly enjoying sharing with you! So as always, thanks for stopping by the hive and sharing us with others...

February 11, 2009

Men Are Like Japanese Puzzle Boxes OR Happy Valentines Day

 Originally posted on February 11, 2009

A friend said to me recently when I asked him how it was going with this new guy he's dating: "Well, he's a bit like a Japanese puzzle box"....

Ah, Valentines Day. Though my keester has clearly missed the aim of Cupid's arrow this year, I'm not without a few stellar V.D.'s under my belt. You see I'm all about the love. So about it that I'm determined to keep doing it until I get it right!

Inspired by a particularly painful breakup [that turned out to be less heart crushing than it was a waffle-stompper to my ego], I've spent the last year on what I've been calling my "man sabbatical". Don't laugh, I'm being serious here. At first I strictly forbade myself from dating, but that didn't last long. McKinleys are born flirts. It's something that starts to manifest just before teething, and fully develops at the onset of puberty.

Although a couple of charming devils nearly foiled my attempt to spend " a year without entanglements", I did make it. As I hoped I would, I learned a few things in this year of redirected energy. One interesting self-observation is that I am myself, more complicated than I realized. Not complicated in a "watch out, he needs a 12-Step program" way. Just a little more complex in regards to love. Is it possible that I too, am a bit of a puzzle? All those years I thought I was simply floating through the universe, waiting to hook the right star, making my constellation complete....WHATEVER MICHAEL!

But taking a year off from "love" definitely forced me to take a deeper look at love, in all it's forms. This time of introspection fostered a new reality for me, and gave me a fresh perspective on the question that the human race been asking since the dawn of time: "What in the hell are we all doing here?!"
I've decided my answer is love. It's our soul's purpose. The only reason at all for our existence is to learn how to love. To master all forms of it. In life, this is our COURSEWORK...

The love between parents and children, brothers and sisters, friends, the friends we think of as parents or siblings, sometimes strangers, even our enemies, and of course- ourselves. In the end, projects that are done for extra credit, papers we aced, and all other measurements of "success" will be null-in-void; our grade based solely on one thing: How well did we love?

So far, I'm coasting through with a B.
Cherrie put it perfectly when she used real estate as an analogy for love. "You're either a renter, or a home owner. I'm tired of apartment life, I wanna live in a house"!

Now that my sabbatical is over, I realize that it's futile to avoid the inevitable.
I'm a lover of love and always will be! I've got people to meet, and love to give! It's time to start shopping for real estate, and most of all, improve my grade!
Besides, I love a good puzzle, don't you?

February 10, 2009

Domino Effect...

As you know, I recently posted my review of Domino: The Book of Decorating. It's a wonderful book, featuring the "best of the best" Domino has had to offer you over the last 5 years. Since publishing my review just a week a ago, Domino Magazine has ceased publication. In the last 6 months a slew of magazines have gone under, unable to attract the advertisers needed to keep them going. It's yet another sign o' the times my friends...

Read the editors farewell at: http://www.dominomag.com/

I grieve today not only because we've lost a truly inovative and informative publication, but because hundeds of talented people have lost their jobs. I pray all of the writers, editors, photographers, style mavens, and other cogs that brought this revolutionary magazine to fruition each month, will find new employment swiftly.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

February 9, 2009

Recipe Reminder...

Okay all you shy people...you've got just over 2 weeks left to submit those "killer comfort food" recipes! Remember that I'll be posting all entries in Our Recipe Box. Come on now, friends share! Email your recipes to: m.mckinley@rocketmail.com

February 6, 2009

Book Review: Domino The Book of Decorating

I hate to grouse, but as an interior designer I encounter allot of crap on TV, and in magazines that espouses to be about the art of decorating. My issue is rarely about aesthetics. Every individual has a right to what they find appealing. When you hire me as your designer, its my job to give you the best possible design within the parameters of your taste, not mine. So my gripe with most design-orientated media is that it seems incessant on providing misinformation. I've grown very weary of beautiful television show hosts, referring to sofas as couches, and gushing on about what a great neutral color sage green is. The big rub for me is that all of this misinformation is being presented as facts, on what's intended to be educational programming.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox. Domino magazine emerged about 5 years ago as a fresh-faced beacon for the young do-it-yourself designer. Over the years, it's become a bit more sophisticated, and I have enjoyed my subscriptions tremendously. Not everyone is inclined to hire a designer for their home ( or I'd be loaded by now ), and for those who'd rather take their cues from a shelter magazine than a hired professional, Domino Magazine is truly a great place to see what's hip & stylish, and the resources for obtaining it. We love Domino.

The hot-off -the presses Domino: The Book of Decorating is one of the absolute best, fully illustrated books on decorating I've ever encountered. Not just because the pictures are pretty, but because it's full of REAL, solid & useful information that's rooted in the elements and principals of good interior design. The editors have done a magnificent job in creating a book that not only shows you how to bring together the elements of a well designed room, but also explains WHY they work together. You have to really understand design in order to do this.

I also believe that this is one of the first books to be published that truly illustrates what is the most important "style movement" for interiors in 30 years: Traditional With A Twist. Both Domino and Elle Decor have really fuelled this style movement with their features over the last few years. The truth is that classic modern is well, now classic. And melding genres is not only hip, but practical for most people's decorating budgets. This new style, or way of decorating is really just that, and not a trend. Therefore the style, and advice you extract from this publication is likely to help you create an interior that's something you'll be happy with for a long time, and not bored with in 2 years when the trend runs it's course. It will instead be timeless.
That my friends is good design.

February 5, 2009

Vintage Green

Reduce, recycle, re-use.

There's been allot of talk lately about "going green", and for good reason.
In my profession, there's been a revolution in textiles and wallcoverings, and a host of new sustainable products have been introduced.
I intend to keep you posted on these cool new developments, but today I'd like to make mention of the coolest way you can be green in your next design adventure.

VINTAGE FURNITURE. Think about it. When you re-use a piece of furniture, you free-up a landfill space. Not to mention reduce some of the chemical waste created in the manufacturing process. For the record... I, and many of my friends are in the business of selling and or manufacturing new furniture, so I'm NOT suggesting that you fill your entire home with vintage furnishings ( unless of course that's your style! ). But in addition to the 'green factor', there are other good reasons [aesthetic and psychological] for bringing a little vintage to your house...

For starters, when everything in your house is new, it looks like it. It screams: "I went to a store, and bought all of this"! A well balanced interior looks thoughtful, not purchased. The addition of your grandmother's hope chest to your ultra-modern living room says:"Look at me! I'm interesting, I have a story"! A traditional dining room with vintage Saarinen chairs says: " I'm so chic. Look at how my interior transcends genres"!

Psychologically, a room with no history feels cold. Unless that's the vibration you want to come home to at the end of the day, I suggest you mix it up.
If you're short on hand-me-downs, may I suggest estate sales, or estate sale shops. Some great new textile or coat of paint can and will, transform your great new find in a jiffy. Most importantly, you get to be stylish while minding your pocket book, and giving the environment a break. Happy hunting!

February 4, 2009

Musical Treats!

Obvious to those who've been reading the blog so far, music is a very important part of my life. Music is the universal language that is spoken, and understood in every corner of the world. So beginning this week, I'll be including a "weekly musical treat" for you to click on. In honor of forthcoming Valentines Day, this week's offering is "Rich Girl" by Julie Crochetiere. From her superb album "A Better Place". Enjoy!

February 3, 2009


February 2, 2009


I'm very excited to say that this little blog adventure has managed to ( collectively ) attract over 1,500 hits in it's first 4 weeks! Naturally, we all hoped that you'd not only check us out,
but tell a few friends too. And, you most certainly did! Thank You!

I'm very proud of the content my fellow bees are posting. It's everyone's intention to share the good stuff we know, with you. Whether Stacey's giving you the perfect carrot cake recipe, Cherrie's sharing her sercrets for healthier skin during the Winter, or Cassandra's portioning you a piece of her delicious bread- baked with wisdom and love.
And me? I'm sharing a little of what I know too, but I may be a bit more random. Okay, really random. Because really, I don't know as much as the others. But I'm learning...
All 4 blogs now have a subscription link, so that you can keep posted on the kind of information you may be looking for. Also, with a google account and pic, you can now become a "follower", which is kind of fun because you get to have your tiny, square picture posted on the blog page!
And please, if you're enjoying , share us with others. Because really, this is all about sharing...

Kicking Butts Part 2: Smoking Gun Vs. Non-Smoking Gun

I've been feeling puny ever since I returned from Chicago. Never one to let illnesses get in the way of my nicotine addiction, I usually manage to continue smoking right through them... So despite the fact that I may have recovered a little sooner if I'd laid off them for a few days, I believe I smoked a little more than usual this week. Probably because I knew my quit day was right around the corner!

When I awoke on Sunday morning ( the first of February ), I still had 3/4 of a pack left, and in these tough economic times, it seemed like a grotesque waste of hard-earned money to throw them out. But by this morning, I was mentally locked & loaded to put on my first patch.

I'm starting with the strongest patch (Walgreen's version), and so far have no desire to use foul language around complete strangers, or tear my house apart looking for that pack of cigarettes I misplaced somewhere last week. I'm drinking lots of water today, and chewing successive pieces of Eclipse/Spearmint gum. How about you? Is anyone else quitting with me?

Buzz Out!

Buzz Out!