Everything But the Turkey Decor:: Pumpkin Pepper Place Settings

Tie pumpkin peppers onto a napkin roll for Thanksgiving to create the perfect pumpkin place settings. Tie pumpkin peppers onto a napkin roll for Thanksgiving to create the perfect pumpkin place settings.

Pumpkin peppers are one of the cutest, most festive fresh items out there this time of year. You can typically find them in the cut flower section of Whole Foods or even at Trader Joe’s. They are branches filled with tiny baby “pumpkins.”

A few years ago, it occurred to me that they’d be super sweet tied onto a napkin roll for Thanksgiving to create the perfect pumpkin place settings. To spruce them up a little bit more, attach the pumpkins to a cinnamon stick using linen ribbon and add a tag with the guest’s name to tell them where to sit at your table.

Sometimes inspiration is just sitting around waiting for you at the grocery store, right?

xx Annette

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Easy 4th of July Table Ideas

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s blog manager. I am bringing you today’s post from lovely Seaside, Florida. Every year, my husband’s family ventures to 30A to spend a week at the beach, and we always celebrate the Fourth here and in style.

The Fourth of July happens to be my second favorite holiday (behind Halloween), and I like to decorate our beach rental’s table as best as I can for the event. Since we’re on vacation and away from our own bevy of vases, plates, napkins, and props, we have to improvise a little when it comes to planning a spectacular tablescape for the Fourth. And improvise we do.

Today, I’ve got a round-up of some of my favorite easy Fourth of July table decor ideas from some of my favorite go-to entertaining magazines. Search your own homes (and yards) for festive items you already own. Be sure to think out of the box and keep it simple. A little goes a long way!

Paper straws add just the right amount of pizzazz to your every day drinks. I have a stash of paper straws in my kitchen in just about every color. If you’re feeling extra DIY-ish, add a paper flag or pompom to each one.


photo by Laurey W. Glenn via Southern Living

A centerpiece doesn’t have to be complicated. Round up bottles and vases in patriotic colors and add punchy red flowers for a bit of pop. Or, head to your own garden and snip a few hydrangeas in white or blue. Hydrangeas are in full bloom right now which is perfect for festive decor!


photo via Better Homes and Gardens

rope vase centerpiece

rope vase centerpiece

photo by Laurey W. Glenn via Southern Living

Don’t discount found items in your home for a pretty place setting. Your red linens from Christmas do double-duty for holidays like Fourth of July. Pull them out & put them to use. I love the idea of tying flatware together for quick grab and go at a cookout, too.

place setting

place setting

photo by Laurey W. Glenn via Southern Living

Finally, a zhush-up a store bought cake with colorful summertime berries. Blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries take a typical cake from the market from drab to fab in no time. Guests will never know the difference, especially if you put it on a beautiful cake plate ahead of time.


Photo by Nicole Hill Gerulat; Styling: One Charming Party via Real Simple

Any other table decor tricks I should know? Share them in the comments, and happy 4th of July!

xo, Nicole

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Tabletop {Masterclass} at Summerill and Bishop New School in London

S&B School

When Summerhill and Bishop asked me to come teach their first ever Masterclass at their new school in London last week, I was honored and thrilled. Summerill and Bishop is located in the most gorgeous neighborhood at 100 Portland Road near Notting Hill. If you’re in London, make a point of stopping by and if time allows, take a class.

S&B School

Okay so here’s the scoop:

When I arrived the day before my class, the school was, well, quite frankly a construction site. A beautiful space with patina walls, large industrial lighting but not quite finished. Talk about down to the wire…

However, once I met the amazing staff at S&B School, I knew everything would be in place and ready to roll by Thursday night at 6:30pm…and I was right.

Eliza and Marcelo made sure everything would be in place; what an amazing team!

S&B School S&B School

After an early morning trip to the New Covent Garden Flower Market for my floral craft project, we were ready to go. Btw, the wholesale flower market was a highlight and not unlike any other flower wholesaler. It was filled with beauty and very funny snarky vendors, but here in London they have adorable English accents.

S&B School

Summerhill and Bishop, quite honestly, has one of the most comprehensive selections of handmade linens I have ever seen, and every other chic thing you would need for your table. And yes, as you can only imagine, I went nuts. Let’s say that there will be some very very pretty props for my next workshop in Italy. The selection of tabletop is beautiful, chic, and approachable. Fair to say if I lived in London, it would be my go-to prop shop. The good news is I can order online and ship everything. Don’t you just love that?

S&B School

Thursday night, the school was filled with nibbles, wine, lovely ladies, and lots of lively banter about setting your table for the upcoming holidays. I talked about how to be prepared, basics of organization, how to produce your party like a pro, and how to create a beautiful flower arrangement in an unlikely vessel, like a juice glass. With our juice glasses in hand, we crafted a votive and vase project using seed paper and raffia. We filled the vase with a beautiful floral arrangement, and even made a place card and take home gift for guests. These are just a few clever solutions for the table using a simple juice glass. You all know that’s the way I like to do it!

S&B School

Punch holes with a hole puncher in a belly band of seed paper that is wrapped around the juice glass tied with raffia. This craft project is the perfect votive holder and vase to parade down the middle of your holiday table. Easy to make and so impressive.

S&B School S&B School

Everyone was so enthusiastic about making a floral arrangement, plus they got to take it home at the end of class. We finished up the class by making my no bake dessert: a Raspberry Cannoli in a glass using the same small juice glass we made our votive vase project with. Unlikely vessels with brilliant results. My basic juice glass project 3 ways was a big hit.

raspberry cannoli PPP S&B School S&B School IMG_4982

As you know, in my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties, I have tons of easy and brilliant craft ideas plus delicious recipes to make all your parties unique and special with that personal touch.

Thank you to everyone  at the S&B School; you all were so delightful, and I feel like we are a family. Thank you for making me feel so welcome in your home.  A special THANK YOU to Seb for coming-up with this brilliant way of connecting creatively. My prediction is that this school will be a HUGE success. Seb, Thanks for letting me be the first.  xx until next time…

S&B School

A bit about the School:

The S&B School:

The school is run by the charismatic chef, Marcelo de Campos.

Marcelo is West London’s best kept secret, and the man behind some of the most exclusive dinner parties and events in town, and he’s bringing his know-how exclusively to us here at School.  Having worked in some of the best kitchens in the world—from Gordon Ramsay’s, to Claus Meyer’s (of Noma fame), to the hallowed halls of Claridges, to some of the most exclusive private London residences—he’s not only a chef, but a trained expert in l’art de recevoir. And, with his Brazilian roots, he brings a sense of fun and warmth to everything he touches.

Sign up for the S&B School newsletter here:

All classes require booking, with a maximum of 12 people per class. We offer a range of class times, listed below:

10:00 – 11:30 am
1:30 – 3:00 pm

10:00 – 11:30 am
1:30 – 3:00 pm
6:30 – 8:30 pm

Prices from £70 per class

Please contact school@summerillandbishop.com or call +44 (0) 20 0001 3415 for more information on classes.

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Easy Fall Centerpiece:: Menu Vase DIY


Wednesday, September 23rd marks the first day of fall. Transitioning your home from summer vibrancy to fall hues can be a bit of a challenge, especially in a month like September. October and November lend themselves so easily to decor because of the holidays within them, but September is a totally different story. If you’re anything like me, you’re eager to make a few changes, but aren’t quite sure where to begin.

This fall centerpiece is definitely an easy fix to get your table in the autumn spirit.  One of the parties in my cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY, is all about Sunday Supper. Sunday Supper is a staple at the Josephs; people gathered on Sunday includes our family and our friends. The entire point of Sunday Supper is to hang out enjoy comfort foods and wrap-up the weekend. So give it a whirl! You’ll love this tradition as much as we do.

This DIY is perfect for Sunday supper, and it would be perfect for Thanksgiving. You will use this great addition to your table scape again and again.

The step-by-step instructions are simple, and the items needed you probably already have on hand, and if you don’t, are easy to find. I love the texture that chalk adds to the vase. Be sure to add vibrant flowers to really make everything pop.

Have fun creating the menu vase DIY, and don’t stress if it doesn’t turn out perfectly; that’s part of the fun! BTW this is a great craft project to do with the kids, get them involved because they will be so proud when you unveil your table scape to friends. Happy Sunday Supper everyone.

Menu Vase DIY

You will need:

– Painter’s tarp
– 1 (8-inch) terra-cotta pot
– 1 chan chalkboard spray paint
– chalk
– Glass vase, slightly shorter than the terra-cotta pot
– 3 dozen fresh mums, dahlias, or other festive flower

To make:

1. Spread the tarp on a work surface in a well-ventilated space.
2. Spray the terra-cotta pot with the chalkboard paint, using 2 coats to cover, and allowing it to dry between coats.
3. Let the paint dry completely.
4. Write your menu on the pot with chalk.
5. Place a glass vase half-filled with water inside the menu pot.
6. Arrange the flowers in the glass vase and use the menu pot as a centerpiece of your table.

For this and more fun crafts run out and buy my book Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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being #behindthescenes :: the rules for aspiring photostylists

IMG_4493 IMG_4435 IMG_7798 Sinskey4 IMG_0211 IMG_3162 photo IMG_9889

Sometimes you see me post #bts behind the scenes photos as I am working on styling jobs.

I love a pretty mess, and when you’re on set, pretty messes happen regularly, but sometimes they are not so pretty. One of the things that is most important when you work as a stylist is logistics. That means you have to be super organized. I cannot tell you how many times I have people want to follow me and when I tell them to organize and load props, they completely fall apart. ALL my interns for the most part want to “style.” When I explain to them that the “styling” is the minor part of our job, they NEVER seem to understand until much later down the road.

So for all you interns and stylists in training out there, here are a few rules for aspiring photostylists to think about before delving into the world of production and styling:

Ask yourself these questions::

1. Am I organized? Clients expect you to be organized and have everything at your fingertips on a photo shoot.

2. Am I physically fit? As a stylist your are a schlepper; you will be carrying, loading, unloading, and moving large pieces of furniture and backdrops, so workout. It’s imperative to your work.

3. Am I a good listener? Can’t tell you how many times I have asked an intern to do something, and they don’t hear me and mess up.

4. Am I a problem solver? Logistics and problem solving are the key component to being a great producer/stylist way before being creative!!!  Being creative is the easy part.

5. Am I patient? No you will not be touching the set to style for about 3 years. Learning to style takes patience, and in this “instant” generation, that’s a really hard concept to grasp.

Quick true story:: I recently took someone along on a shoot. She/he had never been on a “real photo shoot” before and made 3 big mistakes:

1.When I said load “your” car and head to the location ahead of me and unload, she/he loaded my car instead  of theirs and headed to the studio ahead of me. She/he was not doing #3: being a good listener or #4: being a problem solver.

2. In the middle of the shoot, we had our photo subject pouring Champagne…mind you the subject had been an experienced pourer. My new intern took it upon herself/himself to jump in and “show” our subject “How to pour Champagne”; a cringe worthy move that made the whole team and the subject super uncomfortable. Lesson here: Don’t jump in as the expert. You’re the intern. Stand aside, observe, and be quiet.

3.Later in the day the intern asked me if she/he should style up a a shot? WHAT??? “Why sure, I really want to wait around for a couple hours watching while you style up a shot for one of my clients. Um, no thank you.” I was gobsmacked at the arrogance. This person thought they could just waltz in having never been on a shoot, and having never styled in their life??? No.

Final question:

6. Are you willing to shut up? When you’re on a shoot as an intern, your JOB is to help. That means clean-up, be aware, be organized, and BE QUIET. Your opinion is not needed. If you have styling questions for me, save them. I am happy to talk about the shoot as we are loading up.

I know this all sounds very harsh, but lately with the interns and people that want to “follow” me, I have to be blunt. These are my clients, and your behavior on set is a reflection on me. Be professional, and you’ll be invited back. For all you stylists out there wanting to learn, remember it takes time to learn a skill, especially with a profession with a million tips and tricks like styling.

IMG_9640 Justin studying the shot list when he arrives in the morning

Justin has been my styling assistant for over 4 years. He’s an amazing example of someone that is willing to put in his time and understands the value of being patient. I am happy to say that he will be styling all summer for one of my clients while I am in Italy teaching my styling and photography workshop, and I am sure he will shine and style with confidence and ease. I am so proud of him.

Just remember, assisting is worth all the time you invest;  it will benefit you greatly. I have seen so many people come in and out of my styling life, and the ones that stay the longest really thrive and go on to have great styling producing careers.

Let me know if you have any questions about styling as a career; I am happy to answer them because ultimately my goal is to help all those who want to pursue this amazing and creatively fulfilling career.



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