Cooking Healthy and Local Workshop with Sif Orellana

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Sif Orellana is a force of nature. I have followed her on Instagram for years, and you should too. She’s creative, and oh so talented. We have been IG friends for a while, and when I finally met her in real life, she did not disappoint. In fact she’s even more wonderful which I thought would not be possible.


She arrived from Denmark 1 day before her workshop, and we headed out to an incredible local grocery store here in Italy. Here the super stores are really SUPER. She, like me, LOVES to grocery shop. Her eyes widened when we stepped in to my favorite grocery in all of Italy Esselunga. Read all about it; it has an unusual history and has been around since 1957. Our nearest store has 2 floors and is incredible. We spent the better part of 2 hours buying items for her workshop, but the rest of the produce came right out of my garden.


Everyone arrived on Wednesday. When we all met at the welcome dinner, it was love at first site. What a wonderful group we had. So smart, energetic, and full of life. They had amazing questions and got on with Sif like a house on fire. I don’t think they took a breath until they parted ways.

Cooking in the kitchen with Sif was such fun a whirlwind of activity. Our chef, Teri, and I were non stop making sure all the attendees were busy with cooking chores. The kitchen turned out Sif’s delish and healthy recipes. Some recipes were from her new venture, a healthy restaurant in Aarhus, Denmark called Greenilicious. If you’re in the area ,by all means stop by. Sif’s super electric energy and great tips made for a wonderful meeting of the minds both in the studio and in the kitchen.

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We headed out of the kitchen for two local food excursions, too. One was to our favorite baker Fabio at l Forno in Canoara di Fabio Bertolucci; you can read about him here.

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We also had supper at a local agriturismo di la dall’aqua and watched the ancient preparation of Testerolo, a large crepe which is then cut up into square, boiled for 30 seconds, and served with pesto or ragu, thought to be one of the first inceptions of pasta in Italy. Giovanna, the owner, is a gracious and attentive host, and she is also the local food ambassador to the region. She was kind enough to pop in on Friday and familiarize our attendees of all the local product produced in the region. We had a magical evening at her location and learned a lot about the local cuisine.


I loved spending time with everyone learning their stories and their dreams and goals. Fingers crossed Sif will have time to come back and teach again; she’s such a great addition to our team.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Sif. You really gave it 150%. You’re a powerhouse of creativity and wisdom.

Thanks to Luba for some of these super captures!


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Strictly Styling Workshop

AJS Fortress Workshop-93 Strictly Styling Workshop

Ciao tutti, as you know, it’s been a whirlwind here in Italy. I have held 3 workshops back to back from June – July with a mini break in between. The first workshop (you can read all about it here) was a big success. We all had a great time, and the truth is, I learned a lot.

Our second workshop named “Strictly Styling” was just that. We did have a photographer, but mostly it was all about styling with lectures and demos and lots of hands on. This was a new concept and not so photography based. No cameras were needed, although we did have folks bring along their cameras, and photograph their own set up. But mainly we worked on composition for the camera and prop styling. Of course, shopping for props and inspiration all over the region was a big hit. Let’s face it who does not like to shop? It was such a success that some of my attendees are coming back for more. I have decided to do 2 One on One styling Sessions here next summer. A student will stay with me at the main house, we will style discuss the business of styling and marketing strategies, and of course shop until we drop at all my secret haunts all over the region for exceptional unique props. Stay tuned for the dates on this one.

I loved spending time with our Strictly Styling attendees. They were enthusiastic, fun, funny and above all, a pleasure to hang out with. We shopped, ate, and drank wine and cocktails while taking in the sunset on the terrace. It was a truly unforgettable gathering of creative minds. God I love my job.

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Thanks to Megan for some of these beautiful captures. x

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L.A. Style+Photo Workshop

L.A. Style+Photo Workshop

This past weekend I had the pleasure of teaching a L.A. Style+Photo Workshop with Anne Sage at her beautiful location in Los Angeles, Light Lab. Los Angeles is always an inspiration, and I had not been for about three years since my book signing there. What a perfect opportunity to get inspired and do what I love.

We met for a meet and greet on Friday night at Anne’s new house. Like her, it’s stylish and well edited. Meeting everyone the night before is always so useful, as we can talk about goals and expectations. As always, the group was diverse and delightful.

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Saturday morning we all met at Light Lab full of energy and a little tentative, and we dove into a day of styling.

Sunday we cooked our lunch together, and shot the process, all the while chatting about branding and social media with our guru Anne. The menu consisted of cream of tomato basil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, with fig and prosciutto on freshly baked brioche. We finished with apple tartine with whipped cream.

The last hands-on styling lesson was a lesson on composition and building your set. I used building a charcuterie plate an the vehicle for this lesson.

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We had an amazing day with amazing attendees, and of course, we finished the workshop with a wine and cheese party and devoured the charcuterie plate. Did I mention I love my job??

My Italian workshops are filling-up quickly, and a few are already sold-out. Don’t miss the opportunity to join me and my fabulous team of photographers and guest stylists. Find all the information you need on the workshop website. I’d love to have you come along!

Thanks again to Anne, my partner in crime. xx

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Atlanta Magazine’s Home Summer Issue :: Backyard BBQ with Chip Wade

Atlanta Magazine's Home

Chip Wade and I have been friends for years, and it’s been fun to watch him excel in his profession and his personal life. Recently, I had the pleasure of covering one of his family gatherings at his beautiful home for Atlanta Magazine’s Home where I am the Entertaining Editor.


One of my favorites recipes from the feature is this watermelon margarita. All the recipes are in the Summer issue of Atlanta Magazines Home and will be available online soon. In the meantime, share this yummy beverage with your family and friends at your next backyard BBQ.

Watermelon Margaritas
Serves 6

You will need:

– 1 cup sugar
– 1 cup water
– 3 wide strips orange peel
– 8 cups watermelon cubes
– 1 cup fresh lime juice
– 2 cups white or silver tequila
– 6 Watermelon wedges

To prepare:

In a small saucepan, bring sugar, water, and orange zest to a boil over high. Reduce to a simmer and cook until sugar dissolves, 3 minutes. Let syrup cool in a bowl discard orange peel.

In a blender, puree watermelon cubes until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on solids, into a pitcher (you should have about 1 cup juice). Stir in syrup, lime juice, and tequila. Place in a pitcher

Fill salt-rimmed glasses with ice, then pour margarita mixture over top. Garnish with watermelon wedges.

Pick up a copy on newsstands now.

Photo credit : The Raftermen

Styled by : Moi

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Artists Entertain :: Into the Woods with friends for Atlanta Magazine’s HOME

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The latest issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME, is near and dear to my heart. I met the hosts many many years ago: Rinne Allen was working for Rebecca Wood, RWood Studio at the Merchandise Mart selling her gorgeous wares.

At the time, I was designing textiles for a textile company and attended the mart events on a regular basis. I chatted with Rinne and Rebecca as we whiled away the hours during the Atlanta Gift Show. Full disclosure: I was working on my first book at the time, Artist’s Entertain. I hired Rinne to shoot the “pitch” prototype, and while the book never went anywhere, our friendship did.

The years passed. Rinne had children, and grew her photography business, and Rebecca became well-known and very successful. But the one thing that never changed was their pure natural and organic style. I like to say they were the original “hipsters,” the real crafters because they have always lived in a mindful way, and that has never swayed in the 15 years we’ve known each other.

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Their online journal Beauty Everyday, was one of the original beauty blogs out there. Although they never called it a blog; it was just a collected online journal of Rinne’s beautiful photographic inspirations of nature she saw everyday. They posted everyday and this collaboration became the kernel idea for their book of the same title. Last year, they published Beauty Everyday with another creative partner Kristen Bach. Kristen is a new friend, but like her collaborators, she’s clever, creative, and brings a natural sense of a “maker” to all her endeavors. She’s the owner of Treehouse Kid + Craft  in Athens, Georgia. Her infectious enthusiasm makes her the perfect fit for a business that engages kids imaginations. She was a blast at the “Into the Woods” party, and single-handedly created all of the nature crafts for the party.

Rinne and Rebecca and Christy Collaborators for “Beauty Everyday” book Kristen Bach, Rebecca Wood, Rinne Allen.

I so love and respect these friends; they live an authentic life, and that’s the best example of all.

Check out some of the behind the scenes images from the party they invited me to at Sweet Olive Farm:

IMG_0248 Me :: greeted by roaming Lamas now that’s the kind of Hello I could get used to 🙂 IMG_0264 Editor and Chief of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME with a friend. This guy kept trying to eat all the props. IMG_0263 Recipes will be online soon.

Photo Credit : Amber Fouts and Rinne Allen

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