Tag Archives: props

Italy Workshop excursions :: Custom Textile Studio in Florence – meet Margherita Pandolfini

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One of the many wonderful things about conducting creative retreats in Italy is all of the available talent around our area. Florence is about 2 hours from our doorstep; it’s a beautiful drive or train ride, so the time just speeds by.

I was contacted by the lovely and talented textile designer Margherita Pandolfini, and she invited me to bring my workshop to her gorgeous studio on the outskirts of Florence, located in the middle of the most beautiful courtyard I’ve ever seen. Sometimes opportunities appear that are just unreal here in Italy. Margherita, greeted us at the meticulously handpainted door which foreshadowed the magical storybook journey through the courtyard up some rickety stairs into her surreal world high a top a centuries old building. The loft studio had the most glorious view of the Villa courtyard and gardens. It was a courtyard that could inspire anyone to create beautiful, whimsical, playful patterns of her and her partner’s company MK Textiles and Atelier. Sometimes the wonky creative spaces are by far the most inspiring to me. This space was one of those places that spoke to me.

Margherita, set up painting stations for our attendees, and then gave a brief demo, so we had plenty of time to paint our own cloth bags. As the birds chirped and the sun shined on the incredible view, we happily painted away all morning long.

Please make sure to visit their site and if you have the chance schedule a time to visit.

I have invited Margherita and her partner to Atlanta to speak at Americasmart, too, so please stay tuned for those dates.

In the meantime, look for these beautiful textiles out and about in London and Florence.

xx Annette

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Great Barware Picks, for your Summer Aperitivo Parties from Cocktail Italiano

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I thought I would pull together my favorite bar supplies, so you can have everything you might need for your epic aperitivo parties this summer. When sourcing items for your home bar, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. I’ve found some of my favorite items on Amazon!

Beyond necessary barware and glassware, you’ll also need the ingredients. Pick up your favorite spirits for your bar, and make it a point to stock popular liquors that can be used in multiple drinks. A local bottle shop is one of my recommended places to look. They always have the best selection and the most unique bottles.

Of course by now you have my book, Cocktail Italiano. It’s full of authentic Italian aperitivo cocktails and snacks (in some cases snacks so filling you probably will skip dinner). Having a fully stocked bar is imperative for getting the perfect cocktail again and again. Here are some great barware picks for your bar cart:

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  1. Metallic Rimmed Cocktail Glasses: vintage inspired for a classic look
  2. Cocktail Sticks: pick-ture perfect for snacks or garnishes
  3. Cocktail Napkin Roll: these make great gifts, especially for summer!
  4. Italian Glassware Set: a set of 6 and such a steal
  5. Deco Tools: a must-have for DIY mixology
  6. 5050 Bar Set by Alessi: for shaking OR stirring
  7. Gilded Beer Glass: zhush-up your craft beer with a chic glass

What are your must-haves? Let me know in the comments!

xx Annette

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Workshop Announcement :: Join us in October

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Ciao guys! As you know, our summer workshops have sold out.

However, fall workshops are now up for grabs. Full disclosure: we only have a couple spots left in each workshop in September, so we have added a workshop in October. Since it’s olive oil season, it’s the best time to visit our region in Lunigiana. We will be visiting food vendors and the oil press, and tasting wine and truffle hunting will also be on the schedule.

However the most exciting part of this workshop announcement is who will be joining us touring and teaching. Drum roll please…

Angie

Angie Mosier, America’s food styling sweetheart, food writer, food stylist, photographer and producer. Yes, she even styled and photographed for Eric Ripert. Angie is someone I look up to. She is incredibly talented and knowledgeable, well respected, and an all around lovely soul. She will be joined by James Beard award winning chef Chef Rebecca Wilcomb, chef at Herbsaint in New Orleans. Rebecca comes from an Italian background, so returning to her heritage is very exciting indeed. Join us as we cook, style, and photograph our region, take tours of purveyors and food artisans, enjoy visits to farms, dairies, cheese makers, olive groves and orchards, cook with local seasonal ingredients, and drink our own wine from our vineyard at La Fortezza. I am over the moon that these two food superstars will be exploring our food culture with all of us in tow.

This is a very special opportunity to explore our region with these amazing instructors, and it is available to you. To say we are amazed and thrilled would be an understatement. Angie and I have been friends for many years, and the idea that she will be joining me in Italy is a dream come true.

Rebecca

We will be launching her workshop on the site May 1st. I suspect it will sell out in a day. If you want the opportunity to be first on the sign up list, please join our mailing list as we will be sending a newsletter a couple days before it posts live.

Join us for our Angie Mosier workshop in Italy, The Story of Place and Taste: Cooking, Styling and Photographing the Food of Lunigiana. Will launch soon.

See you in Italy.

xx Annette

 

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How to Style a Coffee Table like a Pro

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When I enter a home to style it for a photo-shoot, I always bring accessories for a coffee table. I have a big collection of coffee table books in my studio and tons of bits and bobs in my prop stash for this specific purpose. However, you don’t have to be a stylist to achieve a similar look. In fact, your coffee table can look just as amazing as any magazine with the right tools.

To get you thinking in the right direction, here’s a video I did with Ballard Designs that shows you how to style a coffee table. It breaks down different steps, so you can practice and style until you have the perfect set-up.

Here are a few highlights from the video:

  1. Start with what you have. There’s no need to go out and buy a ton of props. Instead, shop your own home or your own prop closet.
  2. Anchor the corners with large objects. Repeat after me: trays are my BFF. Trays are my BFF. A tray will provide a place to corral smaller objects while creating visual interest and helping you organize.
  3. Repeat shapes and colors. If you add pink flowers, add another pop of pink in a book on a different spot. If you incorporate blue, add a ginger jar, too. Repeating colors helps the eye move seamlessly around the table.
  4. Have fun! Don’t be afraid to change-up your coffee table style season to season. If you find a special object while out antiquing, or “treasure hunting” as I like to call it, add it to your coffee table vignette.

If you’d like even more help styling your home for photographs or for fun, come along on my Strictly Styling Workshop this summer in Italy! I’d love to have you.

Do you have any tried and true coffee table tips? Share them in the comments!

xx Annette

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My secret mega obsession in Italy

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Hi I’m Annette Joseph, and I am a professional shopper…and I have a problem. Well not a problem exactly. More like a secret obsession. As you all know, I live in Italy about 1/2 the year, with Donald Trump in office, it will probably be more like 12 months out of the year…(not kidding).

I live here, therefore I live a normal life, and I need normal stuff like wrapping paper, light bulbs, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, glass jars, paper plates, and a mop and pail. When I first summered in Italy about 25 years ago, one had to shop at many specialty stores for those items. There were not giant conglomerate hardware stores like Home Depot, or SUPER markets like Whole Foods or even stores that cover it all like Target. We would go from place to place picking up mops here and laundry detergent there, meat at the butcher (which I still do) and wrapping paper…well there was no wrapping paper…none. I used to have to be super creative with birthday wrapping, or I would bring it with me from the states.

My point is like with all things, things change. It’s still hard to find everything in one place like Target, but the world is becoming more homogenized as the internet has made the world smaller and smaller. Something terribly clever is going on here in Italy. The inception of the catch all store. Mostly owned and operated by Chinese families, these mega stores have everything, and I mean everything. I am totally obsessed with them. Need cute cocktail straws or cute ribbon? Doggie poo bags or votive candles? Pots and pans, hardware or sunscreen? Here’s your place. They even have clothing, hats, cosmetics and perfume. The skus go on and on. Need a grill? Charcoal? A chocolate bar? Gum? Motor oil? You get the picture.

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I AM OBSESSED. It is something that has made living here nearly perfect. I know you’re saying what is she talking about? But these stores are literally life changing. It used to take hours to find wrapping paper, gift bags and even cocktail straws, and now with the Happy Megastore, I can get everything in one spot. The thing I like most is that the store is so unpolished, so utilitarian and almost kitsch. No sparkling photography of pretty people trying perfume or walking their perfect pooch. Just down and dirty racks with all sorts of useful items stocked up in obscene quantities.

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The biggest secret is when I am in a bad mood (yes one can be in a bad mood in Italy :-)), I go there for an instant pick me up. I buy a few items, a scented candle or a bag of charcoal for our grill, and I feel 100% better. Let’s face it: it’s cheaper than therapy, and one can pick up some useful hard-to-find items to boot. Next time you’re in Italy in a town, find the Happy Megastore or something like it. (Hint: they look like a Chinese container threw up on the sidewalk) Go in; you will be amazed. If you forgot to bring something from home, I swear they will have what you need. I know this is not the most Italian-ish romantic post I’ve ever done, but it’s a very important post because it documents the changes that have taken place as the world becomes a smaller place. It’s relevant and important and mainly, it’s my happy mega place.

xx Annette

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