My Friend Betty of Inkspired

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Recently I met someone I have been following on Instagram for years. She’s someone that I was introduced to by mutual friends when I did a book signing event a couple years ago in London at Summerhill & Bishop. Two of the designers at S&B were Italian and of course our conversation led to all things Italian.

They asked me if I knew Betty Soldi. “No,” I said. “Should I?” They both agreed we would love each other, and so that is where it all began. Last month I had Betty and our mutual friend, Sofie, from S&B over for lunch. They drove from Florence where they both live. Since meeting Sofie at S&B, she’s since moved to work for Betty in her business.

Betty wears many hats, so that’s one thing we had in common for sure. She’s a graphic design working for many brands, consulting on packaging and identity. Read about it here. She’s written a book called “Inkspired”  which is well worth buying if you’re interested in calligraphy and the art of writing. Plus she owns and runs three boutique hotels with her partner, Matteo Perduca. Adastra, SoprArno, and their newest hotel, Oltrarno Splendid  , and a restaurant, Regina Bistecca . So as you can see, she’s a very busy lady. She’s also a mom, which she regards as her most important job, to her 8 year old daughter, Alma.

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Our lunch was glorious. We have so much in common, and yes this is the start of a beautiful friendship. We talked for hours, and then toured La Fortezza on the most glorious afternoon which was topped off by Betty writing on the walls of our guest quarters. She will be back most certainly as we are plotting a creative retreat for 2020. Please head to her sites, and don’t forget to book one of her hotels next time you’re in Florence. Betty, I am a huge fan and friend, and I am so happy we met in real life.

 

I interviewed Betty, too. Read below for some insight to this adorable, talented creative creature:

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What is your favorite thing to do on your off time?

What is ‘off time’ ?! As I am a multi-faceted being, working on creative thinking projects, calligraphic commissions, design consultancy for packaging and branding, co-owner of 3 hotels for which I am the brand guardian as well as managing all the PR for them….my favourite escape time is to be with my 8 year old daughter Alma. She makes me laugh and continuously flabbergasts me with her truth, insights, wit and irony!

Who is someone you admire?

Let’s keep it in the family, my partner Matteo Perduca, a man of incredible depth, culture and curiosity has designed all the hotel interiors as well as his Regina Bistecca restaurant. This whilst also being a lawyer, and creating these projects as creative outlets and expressions of his being. The passion and personal involvement is palpable in all of the spaces. It just goes to show you can reinvent yourself at any stage of life, and I am in awe of his achievements.

If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead who would it be?

My younger or older self  – i would have quite a few things to say, and to learn from!

What is your favorite color combination?

A star-filled sky.
Grey & gold or grey & silver.
Darkness & light.

What is the biggest piece of advice you have for someone wanting to pursue and artistic career path.

Look inside, not outwards at what everyone else is doing. Yes travel, look at paintings, read.
But know that the stars, and a whole universe, is inside of you.

Name your favorite spot in Florence.

I have always dreamed of working in a living space, for me there is no difference or distinction between work and life – artistic beings never switch off, we are sensitive to, and inspired by, anything and everything. I have found my dream space for my studio – or rather the universe has manifested it and I have butterflies inside of me as well as all around this secret garden in the more artisanal and authentic Oltrarno area of Florence.
The adage is “you’ll believe it when you see it” but for me, I have seen it because i believed in it, very Galileo!

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Follow Betty on Instagram

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Serving Stylish Pasta

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Pasta is one of the easiest dishes to serve for a crowd. And, let’s be honest: everyone loves pasta! While it’s one of the easiest things to prepare, it’s easily one of the most difficult things to serve (or shoot!) stylishly.

I almost shudder when I think of having to style something like macaroni and cheese for a photo shoot. The cheese sets-up quickly, and it’s just hard to make it look appetizing. Pasta has great texture in photographs, but without the appropriate styling, it’s simply not pleasant to look at.

Even though you might not be styling for a photo shoot, there are a few tricks to serving stylish pasta at a dinner party. In fact, the number one thing you can do to improve a pasta course is the dish in which its served. The vessel you choose to serve pasta in is the most important element in making pasta look delicious.

Here are a few stylist tricks to use to serve stylish pasta is on your menu:

Ditch the glass casserole dish. In fact I don’t even own one. Instead, think about something earthy to present your pasta, like mac and cheese, in. An iron skillet is perfect! I own lots of iron skillets in all sizes. Not only are they great looking, great to bake in, but they make awesome presentation vessels. The photo above was a pretty cover shot for Southern Living that I styled a couple years ago. I still think it’s so yummy looking. It’s one of my favorites.

Use glasses in unexpected ways. Pesto pasta is pretty, so seeing all the bits of basil in the clear glass is great, plus it’s easy to serve. I love these brandy snifters. They are the perfect size for one serving. Think of all your tableware in different ways. Glasses can be used for more than just drinks!

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Look for interesting shapes in your serving dishes. Here the scallop edged bowl really makes a difference. It’s a nod to the sea, and it looks a bit like a sea shell. You will never go wrong with a seafood presentation if you introduce the sea in some form. Even the serving spoon looks like something you would find along the beach.

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I hope that this has helped you look at how you serve your pasta dishes. Like I said above, the key is to always think about the vessel options you have. Plus it gives you an excuse to pull out your very best, most fun props!

xx Annette

Photo credit: Jennifer Davick, Lauren Rubinstein, Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyen

Seafood Pasta Dish from my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties

 

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Girl Crush :: Iris Apfel

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Last night I watched the Iris Apfel documentary. As a stylist, I am always interested in how other stylists see things. Iris is all about shopping and all about style. Personal style is the definition of Iris.

She’s super chic but in a very unique way. It’s cool to see someone that’s lived a full life.  At 93 her wisdom, which she doles out through out the 80 minutes, is inspiring to say the least. She says that every time she gets dressed it’s like JAZZ. She literally riffs with accessories.

The documentary is lovingly shot by Albert Maysles who shot Grey Gardens and GIve Me Shelter. Every frame, just like her, is gorgeous.

Iris’ jewelry collection is vast, varied, and simply the most beautiful collection I have ever seen. Her New York apartment is filled to the brim with her clothing, along with her Palm Beach apartment that could be an episode of Hoarders…one of the most chic episodes that is. Her husband, the love of her life Carl, is a patient and supportive partner in her mad shopping expeditions. You will fall in love with him.

I rarely write about movies on my blog, but this was is so filled with style that it is the ultimate lesson on how to be a stylist and how to be true to yourself. Let’s face it: in a society that reveres the young, it’s wonderful to see an older person given the respect of a life well-lived. We can all learn from her, and we can all benefit, and that’s the truth.

She’s funny, she’s clever, and mostly she’s a really smart cookie; someone I would love to have coffee with…

I will stop going on and on…. this is a must see.

iris

 

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#marrakechworkshop 2015 part 4 – Project Soar

IMG_8662 As many of you followed along on my #marrakechworkshop IG feed, you probably saw us spending our first day in Marrakech with some very cute girls at Peacock Pavilions. Some of you may or may not know that the owners Maryam and Chris spend tons of time to helping young girls ages 8-14 in their neighboring village. Project Soar, their amazing non-profit, is an inspiring project that nurtures and educates girls to aspire to be accomplished, educated women who can affect a difference in the their village and change in the world. Maryam and Chris open their home at Peacock Pavilions every Sunday, and the girls play sports and take part in various programs throughout the year. It’s the perfect environment to learn about opportunities, career paths, and to just have fun. Throughout the year Maryam and Chris work to raise money and awareness for the girls. When Maryam asked Deborah and I to take part in a photography-centric craft project with them, we jumped at the chance.

We all met at 10:30 on the basketball court at Peacock Pavilion; 43 adorable girls were in attendance that day. They were all enthusiastic about spending the morning playing basketball and learning about how a camera works. Deborah put together a really cute video, and I took care of the sun paper craft project. It could not have been more fun!  Our Project Soar translator Faysal ( who works with Project Soar) was terrific, plus he is a photographer/film-maker, so he was jazzed about the program for the girls.

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Project Soar has become near and dear to our heart, and Frank and I are excited to continue to support Maryam and Chris’s efforts. It has become our pet project this year.

Speaking of projects here’s how you can help immediately!!!

Project Soar needs 15 bikes and helmets pronto!!!
The older girls will be moving to high school next year and it is at least a 45 minute walk to school each way.  This is when girls often drop out of school, leading them to become child brides and their childhood as well as higher education end there and then. A bike can make the difference!

We think a basic bike, rigged up with basket for books, a helmet, and a bike lock will cost about $400 in Marrakech. (bikes are more expensive because they must pay a big take since they are imported)

15 bikes = $6000.00 Check out their website, and please find it in your heart to help these amazing girls. please donate now.

Just think a few dollars can make a BIG difference.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Please watch for more on how you can help coming on my blog…

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Crushing On:: Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is getting close which means that I’ve been spending a ton of time rounding up my favorite finds for gifting, and of course, treating yourself, too. Pinks, reds, and taupes are my inspiration for February because I am majoring crushing on Valentine’s Day. How can you not?! From fabulous skirts to fun home decor, here are a few things I’m crushing on:

1. Aerin Lauder Fragrance Wardrobe: I’ve heard wonderful things about Aerin Lauder’s scents, and this little quintet would be a great way to get acquainted with the brand.

2. Kate Spade Heart Earrings: Oh Kate Spade, you steal my heart regularly (no pun intended). How darling are these earrings?

3. Longchamp: Longchamp has long been one of my favorite European brands, but this punchy color of their classic bag has me swooning.

4. West Elm Smeg Kettle: Smeg is such a fun company, and while it would be hard to buy someone a fridge, you could definitely swing a kettle.

5. West Elm Pom Pom Pillow Cover: Pom poms add instant pep to any room. I love this pillow cover for a little Valentine’s Day pizzazz.

6. Valentino Midi Skirt: Gorgeous! Need I say more about this skirt?! I think not…

Enjoy February as a month of celebrating love: love for your significant other, love for your family, love for your friends, and love for yourself. I LOVE love!

 

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