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.

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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.

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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.

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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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My Life in Photos, June

If May was a good month, then June can only be described as great. We had tons of visitors at The Fortress in June, including our very first workshop attendees. My son, Levi, and his girlfriend spent some time with us, too, along with other friends. I’ve loved every second of being here.

The Fortress has proven to be a wonderful place for workshops. The energy is rhythmic, the lighting spectacular, and the views awesome. Of course, June has been a busy month too.

There were lots of things that had to be done to prepare for guests, but we found time to tackle it all. We even managed to squeeze in a few area adventures, too.

If this month is any indication of what the rest of the summer will be like, I can’t wait. As always, follow along on Instagram to see first-hand what our day-to-day looks like here. From lots of antiquing to aperitivo on the terrace, there’s always something to see.

If May was a good month, then June can only be described as great. As always, follow along on Instagram to see first-hand what our day-to-day looks like.

Just a day at the beach

Coffee bars are something we like to have everywhere. This one is in our bedroom what a way to wake up in our 12th century fortress.

Coffee bars are something we like to have everywhere. This one is in our bedroom what a way to wake up in our 12th century fortress.

Loving my new side table (and sofa).

Loving my new side table (and sofa).

Morning conversations.

Morning conversations.

It's here it's here the workshop is about to begin, and we are off to the local markets to collect goodies for our photoshoots this session!

It’s here, it’s here! The workshop is about to begin, and we are off to the local markets to collect goodies for our photoshoots this session!

Our welcome dinner was truly dreamy last night.

Our welcome dinner was truly dreamy last night.

Tour day in Parma

Tour day in Parma

Our farewell gathering was lovely the perfect send off.

Our farewell gathering was lovely the perfect send off.

 

xx Annette

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June Workshops registration is about to close

I am very excited about welcoming our June 2017 Style + Photo Workshop students, after all they will be the first to experience our new Tuscan location. We will have an action packed 4 days touring, learning, eating, and styling and photographing. Even better, we have 2 amazing photography instructors joining us in June.

April 30th is the deadline for signing-up for June workshops. Don't miss your chance to be among the first to experience La Fortezza in person! Christina Wedge  is teaching our very first workshop this summer, Christina is a wealth of information. She’s funny, smart, and is originally from Berlin, so she feels right at home in the EU. Her workshop filled-up quickly, too. I think everyone wanted to be the first to say they were at La Fortezza for the first workshop; the first ones to experience our dream come true. Christina and I have taught Style + Photo workshops together for years.

Helen Norman, who is an amazing photographer and instructor, has worked in the business for many years. She is one of America’s well-respected photographers. She’s full of great tips and tricks. She and I conducted a workshop in Maryland last September at Helen’s gorgeous farm Starbright Farm. I can hardly wait to work with her again. Her workshop still has spaces left. If you quickly grab them before we shut down registration, you will not be disappointed. April 30th is the deadline for signing-up for JUNE workshops. Don’t miss your chance to be among the first to experience La Fortezza in person!

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QMUN75rc We still have spaces available in  Sarah Dorio’s July 5th workshop and Sif Orellana’s workshop July 19th. Head to the workshop page and sign up. My strictly styling workshop July 12th is full. I will be scheduling that one again next spring in 2018 for those of you who missed out this year.

The DEADLINE TO SIGN UP for remaining workshops in JULY is May 30th, so head over and grab your space. Italy is waiting for you.

We could not be more excited about opening our new creative retreat location. The renovation is spectacular, and our vineyard will be in full swing. I am living for our first picnic in the vineyard.

Needless to say, this is our dream come true, and we are so incredibly excited to share it all with of our attendees.  xx

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Announcing our Los Angeles Workshop

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Many of you have been requesting a stateside workshop, and I am happy to deliver that to you today! If you follow along on social media or get my newsletter, you may have already heard that I’m partnering with fellow stylist and social media expert, Anne Sage, for a strictly styling and social media branding workshop in Los Angeles, California, January 28-29, 2017.

Anne is a veteran workshop instructor; she has taught with me in Italy the past 2 summers. You’ll love learning from her and creating with us. We’ve created a weekend workshop filled with collaboration, information, and of course, fun.

If you’re ready to take your brand or blog to the next level, this workshop is for you! Students will hone their skills in styling for the camera, gaining an understanding of the foundational tenets of composition and how to apply them when crafting professional quality images. The workshop will also provide strategies and best practices for making your brand shine on social media. Not to mention you will meet like-minded individuals, make new friends and find your best creative self, all while having a great time.

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And did I mention our fabulous setting?! The Los Angeles workshop will take place at Light Lab.

This workshop will gather at Light Lab, a groundbreaking photo studio and events space in L.A. Founded in 2016 by photographers Caroline and Jayden Lee and author/stylist Anne Sage, Light Lab is a supportive and inclusive space for creatives of all kinds. It’s a dream! Full of light, funky furnishings, and loads of texture. 

The best part is this workshop is taking place just before the renowned blog conference, Alt Summit in Palm Springs. Why not make a week of it? Take our workshop then head down to Alt (I’ll see you there!).

Space is filling-up quickly, so don’t wait to sign-up; we have very limited spaces available.

This would make a great gift, too! Treat yo self! Email me with any questions…

xx Annette

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Flea Marketing in the Lunigiana region of Italy

Flea Market

As many of you already know, we are renovating a medieval fortress in Lunigiana. It’s a region so close to Liguria, but considered Toscana. Close to Carrara, (where the marble is from) and only a few hours north of Florence, 1 hour from Parma; it’s sort of the perfect location. The best part is that it’s not a major tourist destination which makes it authentic and uncrowded. The very best part is that the flea markets and antique vendors have tons of amazing goods not yet picked through like major shopping destinations. You can still find unique items at great prices. Of course, NO English is spoken, you can only bargin in Italian which makes it all that much more fun, and of course lively.

The last couple of weeks, I have been dealing with the start of our BIG fortress renovation, plus purchasing the furnishings and finishes. We took a little break from the nuts and bolts of the reno and headed out for a wonderful roadside adventure: flea marketing along the coastline of Italy.

Only 45 minutes away on side roads (1/2 hour via the autostrada), we wound up at a treasure trove of goodies. I hunt with my BFF Forrest (he’s also part of Style Photo Workshops Team) and his boyfriend who’s the best picker I have ever encountered, and he happens to be an Italian prince, so his taste is off the chain. As we entered the joint, 14 chairs leaned against the wall – metal folding chairs that – I snatched them up for the Workshop Studio.

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Then Forrest headed one way, I headed another, and the Prince headed to the garden. Quickly I heard Roberto call out, “Annette come into the garden” (in Italian of course). In the darkest corner of the garden, I found him pointing at an iron bed. Headboard and footboard with delicate swirls. “The bed is complete,” he said. “All the nuts and bolts and frame are here.” “Fantastic,” I said. “It’s the perfect size for the guest bedroom.”

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We found it priced well, too. All we need to do is build a frame for the mattress. Old beds do not have the stability for a mattress since the mattress that most likely fit this bed was made of straw like a giant pillow. Good thing I have a great iron artisan at my disposal here in Italy.

As I get to know my new neighborhood in Italy, these flea markets are the perfect place to take our workshop attendees next summer. I will be continuing my tour of flea markets over the next months with my impeccable tour guides. Indeed I am a lucky girl.

I invite you to follow along on my Italian Renovation adventure on instagram.

Happy hunting xx

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