Tag Archives: tips and tricks

Spring Gardening Tips & Tricks

Today I'm discussing spring gardening tips and tricks. I've been scouring my favorite publications, and I thought I'd share what I've been learning.

Hi Everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s web-manager. I am back today to discuss spring gardening tips and tricks. When Annette talks about the fruits and vegetables she grows in her garden, I am always inspired. So, this year my husband and I are getting a head start on a garden of our own.

We actually pulled out the Farmer’s Almanac and did quite a bit of research about not only what grows in the spring, but what grows in Georgia. So far, we’re set on planting okra, peppers, and squash (mostly so I can make stuffed squash blossoms).

Today I'm discussing spring gardening tips and tricks. I've been scouring my favorite publications, and I thought I'd share what I've been learning.

I’ve been scouring Pinterest along with some of my favorite publications, and I thought I would share a little bit about what I’ve been learning about spring gardening. Consider this post a great starter resource that combines Martha’s knowledge with Real Simple’s ease.

Today I'm discussing spring gardening tips and tricks. I've been scouring my favorite publications, and I thought I'd share what I've been learning.

Tips and Tricks for Spring Gardening

  1. You can start planting carrots, radishes, and spinach now without worrying about that last lingering frost. Apparently these veggies can withstand light freezing temperatures, but make sure to cover them if it gets too cool out.
  2. Spring is also a great time to plant potatoes. They might be a fun item to plant around St. Patrick’s Day! I love red potatoes, and I am already dreaming of whipping up Annette’s Ligurian Pesto Pasta with green beans and red potatoes.
  3. At home soil tests can tell you a lot about what you’re working with. Martha recommends taking several samples and then using your discoveries to apply different fertilizers.
  4. Remember your zone. It will help you know when and what to plant.
  5. Don’t forget to prep your garden tools and gloves. Besides actually locating them all, remember to clean them all. You can use soap and water and give them a good scrub. Toss those old garden gloves in the washing machine, or simply buy new ones all together.

Is anyone out there a master gardener? I would love to hear your tips!

xo, Nicole

Images by Deborah Whitlaw Llewelleyn & Annette Joseph

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Announcing our Los Angeles Workshop


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.”



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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A Haunting Centerpiece :: Skull Floral Arrangement


skull floral arrangement

halloween floral arrangement

Hi everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s blog manager and friend, and I’m back to bring you a haunting centerpiece for your Halloween table: a skull floral arrangement. In case you don’t know, my absolute favorite holiday is Halloween. Last year, I dressed my mantle for the occasion, and this year, I decided to add a little spook to my table.

One of the things I’ve learned from Annette is to always be looking for vessels that can be used for flowers, food, and more. When I stumbled upon this black skull candy jar at Target, my creative wheels started turning. Take the lid off and voila – the perfect vase (I loved this one, too).

Imagine my excitement when I found seasonal fall flowers in bold, jewel tones including ones that look strikingly similar to brains! I think they’re spot-on.

skull floral arrangement

halloween centerpiece

When it comes to flower arranging, I use floral bricks to keep my flowers in place and fresh. Cut them down to size for your vessel, and follow the directions on the packaging. Make sure you allow your bricks to submerge completely in the water on their own (instead of pressing them down). Then, just have fun arranging the colors and mixing in different textures. I think greenery would have really added another dimension to this particular arrangement, so just use what you have – even if it’s from your yard!

Whatever you use, this easy DIY skull floral arrangement centerpiece will certainly add the right amount of eerie fun to your Halloween holiday table. Happy Halloween!

xo, Nicole

photos via: Nicole Letts

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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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