Today’s post checks in with Todd and Kate McKee on summer pleasures, summer memories, and summer reading!


Todd McKee is, among other things, a craftsman of words and of wood.  He’s an attorney by day and a woodworker by night (or weekend), giving him exactly the right background to co-found the nonprofits ToolLife and Sewn Together.  Both organizations equip and train disadvantaged people to learn job skills and make products to sell.  If you can’t find Todd, check his woodshop at home, where he might be making a guitar or piece of furniture in a happy cloud of sawdust.  You might also check the sidelines for him and his wife Kate, often watching their sons play a variety of sports (well).  Kate is every bit as sporty as Todd, having rowed crew during college.  She’s currently a serious runner who also manages to stay the course in law practice and at home.  This is a woman who knows how to make a plan and execute!  She’s joyful, driven, organized, and efficient.

Today, Todd and Kate answer a few questions and share what they’re reading right now…

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

Todd:  Family camp at Camp Cheley in Colorado.

Kate:  I’m looking forward to relaxing under the fan on our porch and taking our youngest son to Camp Cheley.

What did you love about summer as a kid?

Todd:  I grew up on Boone Lake in East Tennessee.  Pure kid heaven.  We lived off cheese dogs, Nutty Buddies and Dr Pepper.  I went days without a shirt or shoes and stayed perpetually damp from skiing, sailing and swimming.  At the beginning of the summer, your feet were too tender to walk on our gravel road, and by the end of the summer you could run on it.  Night swimming was like being in bathwater after the sun warmed the lake all day.


Kate:  I lived for camp.  When I was a little girl, I couldn’t wait to turn six so I could go to Camp Marymount for 3 weeks.  After 5 years at Marymount I moved onto Windridge Tennis Camp in Vermont for 5 more years.  It was an incredible experience for a kid from Tennessee.  When I was in high school my fearless parents sent me on Swiss Challenge.  The highlights were skiing on a glacier in Zermatt and hiking through the Alps.  It was amazing and inspired a lifelong love of travel.

Zermatt. Seriously.


Loved camp/hated camp/didn’t go to camp?
Todd:  I went to Rockmont in Black Mountain, NC for 3 years.  I enjoyed it, but see above.

Kate: See above!

Memorable summer job as a teen?

Todd:  I washed my grandfather’s hearses at his funeral home.  It’s a little scary how fond my memories are of hanging around the funeral home.  Its employees were some of the funniest and nicest people I have ever known.  I also checked real estate titles at my dad’s law office – which to this day I have no idea why he would have had a kid doing that.  Spent a lot of time with huge, musty deed books in the basement of the Washington County Courthouse.

Kate:  I worked at Laura Ashley at the mall.  I made minimum wage and couldn’t have been happier to get that check.

Ice cream or sorbet?

Todd:  Really? Has anyone ever answered sorbet?  (From Jennifer:  Yes.  Wait for it!  A couple interviews down the line…)

Kate:  We love ice cream!  In fact, the first time I met Todd was at the old Baskin Robbins in Belle Meade where the post office is now located.

Disneyworld, Sea World, or Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Todd:  None of the above.  But if I had to choose, Disneyworld.  In February.

Kate:  I’ve never been to any of them and am not dying to go, but we’re thinking about taking our little guy to Legoland.

Gin & Tonic or Piña colada poolside?  What’s your favorite summer drink?

Todd:  G&T, with a topper of spiced rum.  Whole Fruit Margarita from the VitaMix recipe book.

Kate:  I love a good fruity poolside drink.  My favorites are Piña Coladas and Strawberry Daiquiris.

You can spend a week at any beach in the world.  Which one?

Todd:  St. Barth’s.

Kate:  Mallorca.

Best amusement park ride or game? Or food.

imgresTodd:  I’m a log ride man.  Funnel cake is nature’s most perfect food.

Kate: Definitely a log ride and all the games.  I remember the food at Dollywood being rather good for an amusement park.


If you were getting a tattoo, what would it be (and where)?

Todd:  Rolling Stone’s iconic lips & tongue on right butt cheek; tarheel on left.

Kate:  I’m just not cool enough for a tattoo.

What are you reading this summer?

Todd:  Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain; Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson; Negotiating the Impossible: How to Break Deadlocks and Resolve Ugly Conflicts (without Money or Muscle), by Deepak Malhotra











Kate:  Jon Meacham’s Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power and Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush.  I think this crazy election has me searching for some historical perspectives.










What would you recommend to a friend as summer reading?

Todd: Any collection of P.G. Wodehouse short stories; Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry; Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

Kate: Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat.

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Image of Nutty Buddy from

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