Tag Archives: friends

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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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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Spring Recipes for a Crowd- Passover or Easter

Our family celebrates the holiday of Passover which is on Monday April 10th. Passover has a very specific menu. We are not allowed to eat leavened bread, we eat Matzoh. The story of Passover is an interesting one, and one that we recall at our dinner table on the night of Passover. Here’s a great dessert to make for your gathering this year… and it involves chocolate!

PotsDeCreme

Salted Chocolate Pots de Crème
Serves 6-8

You will need:
1 ½ cup whole milk
– 1/2 cup whipping cream
– 5 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
– 1 teaspoon sea salt, or flake salt
– 6 large egg yolks
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 1 cup whipped cream for topping

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Bring milk and cream just to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and salt; whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk yolks and sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Strain mixture into another bowl. Cool 10 minutes, skimming any foam from surface.

Divide custard mixture among six 3/4-cup custard cups or soufflé dishes. Cover each with foil. Place cups in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake until custards are set but centers still move slightly when gently shaken, about 55 minutes. Remove from water. Remove foil. Chill custards until cold, about 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.) Top with whip cream, and serve.

Photo by Sarah Dorio

Styled by Moi

One of my favorite entertaining stories was for Atlanta Magazine’s Home. It was a Greek Easter party thrown by good friends every year, a party we always look forward to. Greek tradition calls for this sweet bread which makes a lovely and festive presentation. Imagine taking it somewhere for your Easter feast. Get all the recipes and the full feature here.

Passover begins on Monday and last through the following Monday (the day after Easter), and I have two great spring recipes for a crowd to share with you.

TSOUREKI (Easter Sweet Bread)
Serves 4 loaves

You will need:

– 7 cups Flour
– 3 quick rise yeast packets
– ½ cup warm water
– 1¾ cup sugar
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 1 Tablespoon mahlepi
– 1 teaspoon mastic
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 2 teaspoon lemon & orange zest (mixed)
– 5 eggs (room temperature)
– ½ cup hot milk
– 1 cup melted butter

Note : All ingredients should be warm or at the very least room temperature to help the dough rise faster.

Egg Wash for bread:
– 1 egg
– a few drops of vanilla
– 1 Tablespoon water
– ½ cup of sliced almonds

To Prepare:

  1. Mix warm water and yeast, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl put flour, make a whole with your hands in the center of the flour to put the sugar, zest, salt, spices and mix that your hands. Add hot milk and mix again with your hands. Once the dough is incorporated add eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Then add the yeast water mixture, your dough should be stringy when pulled apart.
  3. Next pour melted butter into the bowl one handful at a time and fold the dough (do not knead the dough). Pull and fold and pour in melted butter, repeat until you’ve used all the butter. Don’t worry if you see butter puddle around the edges, it will absorb as the dough rises.
  4. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap that it tucked down inside the bowl touching the dough. Then wrap the entire bowl in towels and place in a warm place for the dough to rise for about 2 hours. Once dough has risen, separate into 4 equal parts. Then separate each of the four parts into three pieces and roll the dough with your hands into approximately 14 inch long and about finger thickness.
  5. Braid the three long cylinder pieces just like you would braid hair. You will have 4 braids.
  6. Place each braid in a 12” round pan that has been lined with parchment paper and cover with towel, place in a warm spot for 30-45 minutes for dough to rise again.
  7. Once each of the braids have risen, prepare the egg wash. Beat the egg with water and vanilla then brush each of the braids, this will give the bread a beautiful shine.
  8. Place pans into a preheated 350° oven (2 at a time) and bake for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the dough, if you see it getting too brown, cover with foil until baked through.
  9. Once bread has cooled, cut out the center and place a hard boiled egg that has been dyed red sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Photo by: PATRICK HEAGNEY

Styled by Moi

xx Annette

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The Fortress:: a renovation update from Italy

Ciao! As many of you know, I have been hopping back and forth from the US to Italy while we are closing in on our deadline for our renovation.

This renovation has been in over drive since November 14, 2016. It’s completion date is April 30th. Whatever you have heard about building and renovating in Italy, in this case I would throw it out the window. Our team in Italy has been amazing…no really really amazing. I am gobsmacked how quickly and efficiently this mammoth project is coming along. Granted we still have phase 2 which will commence in May.

I will say, we could not have done it without our designer/project manager extraordinaire Forrest and our Geometra Marco.

I have been hopping back and forth from the US to Italy while we are closing in on our renovation deadline, and today I have a renovation update for you. *Pictured here is the Terracotta finished, and the hand-painted vintage tiles from the 70s will be placed on the banquette as the kick-plate all the way around.

Last week: The new terrace tiles were laid, and I met with the blacksmith to design custom railings and a gate. We also met with a stone mason about marble counters, and stone seating for the wrap around banquette. I can hardly wait to enjoy aperitivo on the terrace with family and friends.

The terracotta tiles will be laid on all the walkways and in the studio space, as well as in the guest quarters’ out building.

Renovation update: our kitchen This is where the Lacanche stove will be, I adore the vintage pale red and greyish creamy checked tiles.

We observed the completion of the bones of the new kitchen. We took out a tiny pantry and bathroom to expand the kitchen, and when finished it will have 2 refrigerators, 2 dishwashers, 1 Lacanche stove and 2 vintage marble sinks. It will also feature vintage tiles, an antique larder, handmade lighting and plumbing fixtures, metal shelves, Carrara marble counters and back splashes, and plenty of copper. Not to mention nonstop sunlight with 3 windows covering all exposures. Needless to say, I am thrilled and excited to start cooking in my new kitchen.

kitchen before Kitchen Before kitchen after Kitchen expanded (hint: the sink is still in the same place)

It was a crazy week, and it went by in the blink of an eye. I’m back for the summer May 4th, so be sure check out my instagram stories; it is going to be a crazy ride to the completion and the finished styling of our spaces.

Grazie tutti xx

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