The Italian Style + Photo Workshops Summer Signature Cocktail- The Paper Plane


For those of you that have been following along, we often… well almost always, have a cocktail at the start of each workshop for our welcome Aperitvo. This season has been the season of the Paper Plane since I am coming out with a cocktail book, well it is actually an Aperitivo book, called Cocktail Italiano next spring (April 2018) Skyhorse Publications. A signature cocktail is a must, and we start every meal here at La Fortezza with an aperitivi hour…while the sun sets on the terrace.

I wanted to share the recipe with you today. It includes my favorite: Aperol! This is another use for it besides the Aperol Spritz (which is what we drink at our Farewell Aperitivi)…it’s a swell cocktail, and you must try it.

Let me know how you like it in the comments below.

The Paper Plane
Makes 2

You will need:
– 1 1/2 ounces Amaro, I like Nonino
– 1 1/2 ounces Aperol
– 1 1/2 ounces Bourbon
– 1 1/2 ounces lemon juice, strained

To prepare:
Combine amaro, Aperol, bourbon, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice, and shake until the outside of the shaker is chilled about 30 seconds. Strain into coupe glasses and garnish with a mint leaf.

Cin Cin x


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Atlanta Magazine’s HOME Summer Entertaining Feature:: An Epic Engagement Party

As most of you know, I am the Entertaining Editor for Atlanta Magazine’s Home. It’s a position I truly relish. I get to attend the most interesting parties on Atlanta’s social calendar and rub elbows with the who’s who in the design and creative world of the city. I am a lucky lady.

Most recently, I got to attend a party that I have been wanting to attend for a long time. Our own daughter’s engagement party. All the juicy details are reveled in the Summer 2017 issue.

You can imagine what a thrill it was to plan and execute our daughter’s stellar celebration.

Read all about it in Atlanta Magazine’s HOME on newsstands right now!

Here are a couple sneak peeks of the festivities.

Most recently, I got to attend a party that I have been wanting to attend for a long time. Our own daughter's engagement party. Most recently, I got to attend a party that I have been wanting to attend for a long time. Our own daughter's engagement party.

Photography by: The Raftermen

xx Annette

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Easy DIY Chalkboard Menu Vase

DIY chalkboard menu

October marks the third year my book Picture Perfect Parties (Rizzoli NY) has been on bookshelves. I run into people all the time that tell me they cook from my book regularly, or they threw one of the parties in the book with great success. This makes me extremely happy. To know that I have inspired people to live a better, more stylish life is a gift like no other. I am always humbled and touched with these wonderful personal stories, so thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart for sharing your experiences with my book.

One of my favorite decor hacks is this one. I love chalkboard paint and recycling; this project has it all.

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 that gather on Sundays include our family and our friends. The entire point of Sunday Supper is to hangout, 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 tablescape 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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5 Things I’ve Learned from Annette in 2 Years

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Hi Everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s blog manager and friend, and I’m back again bringing you today’s post. I must say, this post is a little different from some of the ones I’ve done before. September marks my second anniversary as a member of the AJS team, so I thought I’d give you a little insight about some of the things I’ve learned from Annette.

Whether it’s how to snap the best photo or how to plan a party in a flash, Annette has taught be a ton in the two short years I’ve been working with her. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned from Annette:

  1. The perfect photo might be under your nose. Have you seen Annette’s Instagram? It’s stunning. Every photo tells a story, and every photo is as lovely as the one beside it. Annette plays with angles and color, and she’s always aware of the frame. If you take a lot of photos of food, mix up your angles by having a shot that’s from above your meal (a bird’s eye view) followed by one that’s just your ingredients followed by one that shows the recipe process. Play with lighting and color, too. And treat even the most mundane moment as a Kodak…errr….iPhone moment.
  2. A party is all about the feeling that’s in the air, and that comes down to making every attendee feel like they belong. Whether you’re hosting a grand soiree of 100 or an intimate dinner of six, being a hostess is all about how you make people feel. Annette is brilliant at making everyone feel like a friend, and that exactly how you feel at one of her gatherings. Even her workshops feel like a party because of the fun everyone is having. Annette knows how to bring people together and help them have a good time. Preparing the right food, the right atmosphere, and the right company puts the pleasure in the party.
  3. There’s nothing a fabulous espresso can’t fix. True story: I never had an espresso until my first meeting with Annette. In fact, I didn’t even drink coffee! I still have dreams about that espresso because it was so delicious, so you can only imagine how high my expectations are for espresso now. I’ve learned that if I’m feeling extra blah about the day, an espresso perks me right up. Thanks, Annette for opening my eyes to what a great (and what a terrible) espresso tastes like.
  4. But if coffee isn’t strong enough, a cocktail should definitely do the trick. Annette is the cocktail queen. I love how each of her cocktail recipes is unique and completely creative. I’ve made quite a few of them myself, so I feel I can confidently vouch for their deliciousness. Embrace the power of a before dinner drink, and remember, aperitivo is a lifestyle!
  5. Celebrate everything. This is something I learned from Annette’s book, Picture Perfect Parties. Whether you’re celebrating the holidays or celebrating the dawn of a new season, there’s always a reason to throw a gathering.  No event is too small.


Thanks for having me, Annette! Here’s to many more years!

xo, Nicole

photos via: Annette

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