Spring Cocktails, A Day at the Races, & More: It’s the Top 4

Here's a quick glimpse at some of my favorite (and our most viewed) blogs. It's our top 4 for April. Stay tuned for May!

Here’s a quick glimpse at some of my favorite (and our most viewed) blogs. It’s our top 4 for April.  Writing blog content is something I love to do, and it’s always neat hearing and seeing what you like, too. Let me know what you’d like to see more of in the future. Stay tuned for May; I can’t wait to show you what’s up my sleeve.

Top 4 for April:

The Fortress: A Renovation Update from Italy 

It’s Coming Up Cocktails: My Favorite Spring Sips

A Day at the Races

Ikea’s Jassa Collection

xx Annette

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My Life in Photos, April

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Can you believe that April is almost over? It’s been a busy month, but I’ve loved every second of it. April has been full of wrapping-up phase one of our Italian renovation, whipping-up spring recipes using veggies from my garden, and putting the finishing touches on book two.

I’m both exhausted and excited thinking about it all.

As most of you know, I adore Instagram. It’s truly a place where I can share all of my goings on with you. However, I know some of you like to visit the blog instead, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite photos from April with you here. There’s so much color, beauty, and of course, memories in these photos. Enjoy!

xx Annette

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Our master bath door waiting to be installed at our renovation.

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Many people ask me how long it takes to put a book together. When I hand in the final manuscript plus all the photos, it will be 3 years.

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How cute was Vivi as a puppy? We brought her home 5 years ago.

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This torta pasqualina was featured on City Sage a few weeks ago.

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Props, props, and more props for Cocktail Italiano.

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That’s a wrap on photographing book 2! Love this mash-up of the wrap party for Picture Perfect Parties 5 years ago.

 

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A Day at the Races:: Kentucky Derby Party

Annette's tips for hosting a Kentucky Derby party cannot be beat, and a Kentucky Derby party wouldn't be complete without a classic cocktail, a Mint Julep. Annette's tips for hosting a Kentucky Derby party cannot be beat, and a Kentucky Derby party wouldn't be complete without a classic cocktail, a Mint Julep.

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager here. I don’t know about you, but the Kentucky Derby is my unofficial start to summer. One of my very best college girlfriends is from Lexington, Kentucky, and she instilled a love for the race in us while we were in school.

Even though I’ve only gotten to have one trip to Churchill Downs for the run for the roses, there’s something about the Kentucky Derby that keeps me intrigued year after year. Maybe it’s the beautiful horses or the fabulous fashion…or maybe it’s the the Mint Juleps. Either way, it’s such a quintessential, classic event.

This year, I’m planning to watch the races with friends. Who knows? Maybe we’ll don fun hats and chic sundresses for the occasion, too. I’ve already started thinking about decor, food, and beverages for the day, and of course, I’ve turned to Annette for all of the details.

Annette's tips for hosting a Kentucky Derby party cannot be beat, and a Kentucky Derby party wouldn't be complete without a classic cocktail, a Mint Julep.

Annette’s tips for hosting a Kentucky Derby party cannot be beat. I love her ideas for decor like including vintage horse trophies and ribbons, sprinkling in plastic horses here and there, and making sure roses make an appearance. To plan a party of your own, you can find her full list of tips here.

And a Kentucky Derby party wouldn’t be complete without a classic cocktail, and what’s more appropriate than a Mint Julep? A splash of simple syrup and a whole lot of Bourbon makes for one sinfully sweet sip.

Classic Mint Julep by Becky Stayner
serves 1

You will need:
– Crushed ice
– 2 oz. good Bourbon
– 1 oz. simple syrup
– 6 leaves of fresh mint + fresh mint for garnish

To prepare:

Make the simple syrup by bringing one cup of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir in one cup of sugar till it dissolves. Once it’s chilled, stir in mint leaves to steep overnight (a trick from Annette’s friend, Becky). Put crushed ice, bourbon, and mint leaf simple syrup in a julep cup. Garnish with fresh mint leaves. Don’t crush the leaves! Be gentle…after all, this is a Southern drink.

xo, Nicole

photos by Leslie Graham

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IKEA’s Jassa Collection: A Colorful Bazaar

Ikea's latest collection, the Jassa collection, is fantastic. It's colorful, earthy, and bohemian. With all of its punch, it reminds me of a bazaar. Ikea's latest collection, the Jassa collection, is fantastic. It's colorful, earthy, and bohemian. With all of its punch, it reminds me of a bazaar.

As you all know, Ikea is one of my stylist’s secrets. It’s a great place to find funky, affordable, and chic items for your home and beyond. I’ve even been known to use Ikea items for photoshoots from time to time.

Ikea’s latest collection, the Jassa collection, is fantastic. It’s colorful, earthy, and bohemian. With all of its punch, it reminds me of a bazaar. It just screams outdoor entertaining and summer style.

Ikea's latest collection, the Jassa collection, is fantastic. It's colorful, earthy, and bohemian. With all of its punch, it reminds me of a bazaar. Ikea's latest collection, the Jassa collection, is fantastic. It's colorful, earthy, and bohemian. With all of its punch, it reminds me of a bazaar. Ikea's latest collection, the Jassa collection, is fantastic. It's colorful, earthy, and bohemian. With all of its punch, it reminds me of a bazaar.

The textiles are bold, and the furniture is so fun. It’s just a little bit vintage, but full of modernity. I just love it all.

Toss the oversized pillows on the floor for additional cozy seating, grab a large basket or two to hold blankets or beach towels around the pool, or plan an dinner party around the royal blue splattered serving wear. Most of all, plan some springtime fun!

xx Annette

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My Favorite Easter Tablescape Inspirations

Hi Everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s web manager, and I’m back today to share some of my favorite Easter tablescapes. As you all know, Annette is renovating The Fortress in Italy. What you might not know, is that I started my own stateside renovation (on a much smaller scale) just a week after her.

As a result, we’ve been sharing our growing pains with renovations together, and it’s been so nice to lean on Annette for advice since this renovation isn’t her first rodeo. It’s always good to have someone to talk to!

Once our renovation is complete, we will finally have a real dining room. Until now, our home has had an eat-in kitchen, and our dining room space functioned as our office but not anymore! I am thrilled to have a real dining room table along with a space where I can host dinner parties for friends and family, especially for different holidays.

While we’re not quite ready for entertaining, I’ve been spending the past few weeks dreaming-up what my Easter tablescape would look like if I was hosting Easter this year. Sign me up for all the flowers, eggs, and bunnies, please!

Using tulips is not only seasonally appropriate but also a beautiful way to incorporate garden-like florals into your centerpieces. I also love the use of the green bunnies. It’s a cute way to be festive.

These egg place settings are sweet yet chic. It’s a great way to repurpose your dyed eggs (but make sure you save some for deviling!).

I know Annette likes to send guests home with a little something, and I think these baskets of miniature chocolate eggs would be perfect for exactly that. I would place them by the door, so no one forgets their treat!

What are your plans for your Easter tablescape this year?

xo, Nicole

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