The Ultimate Italian Shopping Experience: What to expect

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We held our first shopping retreat in 2019, and it was such a smashing success, I couldn’t wait to do it again. I announced the retreat last week, but I thought you might want a glimpse into what we do every day. Here’s a recap of my post from 2019, a few days after our first retreat. Give it a read and then head over to the workshop site to sign-up. Trust me, you’re going to want to be there!

You can register here! Take a look at a behind-the-scenes peek at what to expect:

 

From our 2019 trip…

Every day there were new destinations and some surprises. We could not have asked for a more fun group of ladies. Even though they did not know each other before, I think some solid bonds were formed. We danced, drank, made pasta, and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather on the terrace.

Of course, there was a pizza party where a few of our attendees tried their hand at making pizza in the pizza oven. We loved sharing information about how and why we choose certain props, discussed searching for antiques and loved shopping at my super-secret locations.

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We only have 8 spots available for this trip, so this shopping experience is very limited. I have so much to show you, and I cannot express how wonderful it is to meet like-minded shoppers, who share the love of beautiful things.

Let’s shop ’til we drop in 2022! 

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!

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Introducing Grandmillennial Shop:: Nicole’s side hustle

Grandmillennial Shop Living Room

I scored this sofa table at Scott Antique Market for pennies.

Hi All!

It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend here today to introduce something near and dear to me: my side-hustle, Grandmillennial Shop. For nearly two years, I have been perusing estate sales, thrift shops and antique stores for the very best grandmillennial style items. Then, I sell my goods during my weekly sales on Fridays at 9 AM, EST and Sundays at 5 PM, EST.

Are you familiar with the term grandmillennial? It was coined by former House Beautiful editor, Emma Bazillion a few years ago, and it has stuck as the definition of those of us who love great antiques, spend time needlepointing, and can never pass up a vintage floral fabric. Basically, it’s me. And no, it’s not granny-chic. It’s more than that.

Seen here: Staffordshire figure dated 1850s, sterling silver coasters & snuffer, and a crystal vase – all estate finds!

I have always been an old soul. I bought my first antique in 2007, and have been stocking my house with them ever since. I love chintz and chinoiserie, and I have a sterling silver collection that might rival your grandmother’s. Ironically, my great-grandparents owned a furniture store in Montgomery, Alabama. I never knew them, but I like to think that their spirit lives on in my love for old things.

Grandmillennial living room

In the background of this photo of my living and dining room, you can see a bamboo barcart. I actually bought this with Annette a few years ago!

Plus, you simply cannot beat the deals and the quality found in vintage and antique pieces. I’ve even convinced my friends and sister of it! For example, the below rug is a vintage, Chinese rug. It’s handwoven, and my sister scored it for $35!!!! It’s a lifetime piece, and it’s fabulous! The next photo is of my Brunschwig & Fils scallop black-out drapes. All 6 panels were $300. WOWZAS.

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My sister’s vintage rug she scored for $35.

 

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My estate sale drapery.

I get most of my finds at estate sales. They’re so fun to peruse because you get to see how people used the items for sale (hello inspo!), plus who doesn’t love a house tour? My number one tip for finding estate sales in your area is to use estatesales.net. It’s such a great website! You can see how far a particular sale is from your location, as well as see photos to see if it’s worth the trek. I even used it last week while on a buying trip to central Florida! I pulled it up, found a sale a few minutes away, and left with some awesome goods!

A few of my finds on the right and my big tote bag I always bring to sales.

If you’re in Atlanta, you can shop with me at Westside Market Toco Hills. But if you’re not local to Atlanta, you can shop with me via Instagram. I sell everything from vintage P. Kaufmann fabric to mid-century barware and even contemporary Grandmillenial finds like tassels that match the overall aesthetic!

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I’d love for you to follow me over at Grandmillennial Shop on Instagram. It’s a fun, vibrant follow, and it’s quickly become my pride and joy! Thank you, Annette, for letting me share my shop here. I can’t wait to go thrifting with you in Italy!

xo Nicole

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Easy Flower Arranging

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While it might seem like a daunting task, arranging your own flowers can be simple yet stunning, and honestly, nothing gives me more pleasure than to arrange flowers for my own home or parties. If you follow a few easy steps, you’ll be arranging your own flowers in no time!

When beginning the design process, I start with what’s available at my local market (and even Trader Joe’s!), and I try to select a strong color theme like pink or even white. Selecting just one color flower, but choosing several varieties in that same color, is an easy way to pack a punch without a lot of thought. It honestly cuts way down on the stress, especially if you’re not quite ready for combining colors.

However, if you want to give it a go, follow these steps. For this arrangement, I selected a few colors that go well together like pink and lavender.

Step one: clean the bottom of the stems, and make a fresh cut.

Step two: place all the fillers in your container. For this arrangement, I’ve chosen a pitcher for my container, and Queen Anne’s Lace and Baby’s Breath as fillers. Pro tip: this pitcher from Ikea (one of my favs, as you know) is an ideal flower container!

Step three: add in your larger blooms. Here, that’s ranunculus and hyacinth. Be sure to work your way around the vase or pitcher. Either move around the table as you work, or spin your container to make sure your stems are even.

Step four: step back and fluff your arrangement as needed. Try to change the water every 2-3 days, and cut the stems on a diagonal every few days, too. This will keep your arrangement fresh and pretty!

xx Annette

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Where to Shop for the Holidays this Year:: Hint: SHOP SMALL!

where to shop this holiday season

So many people do holiday gift guides this time of year, but I thought I’d bring you something a little different this year. Instead of what to shop, I’m giving you ideas of where to shop.

Shopping small business is a passion of mine. Many of my closest friends have their own businesses, and as a small business owner myself, I know how hard the grind is. This time of year, it’s especially important to remember our small business partners. These are our friends and neighbors. They are the parents at your kids’ schools. They are the people who walk 10 miles a day at America’s Mart to bring you the best items they can find. And I love each and everyone one of them.

Here are a few of my favorite places that I will be shopping this holiday season. I’d love to hear some of your favorite small businesses in the comments!

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Bernard Cohen Collection 
As you all might know, Bernard Cohen is one of my oldest and dearest friends. He recently launched a pearl jewelry collection that is absolutely stunning. Anyone would be thrilled to unwrap one of his pieces. All orders through December 6 will be 20% off with discount code AJSTYLE at checkout.

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etuHOME
Recently opened at Shops around Lenox in Atlanta, etuHOME is bound to be the next big thing in our area and beyond. I recently hosted a book signing there, and trust me, the space and selections are incredible. In fact, something tells me if you wander through etu, you might find something for yourself, too!

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Minted
If my love for Minted isn’t clear enough, allow me to tell you one more time: Minted is a wonderful place to shop any time of year. As I’ve mentioned, their art selections are unlike any other, and art is always a fantastic gift! It’s personal and thoughtful.

PHOTO BY HEIDI GELDHAUSER

PHOTO BY HEIDI GELDHAUSER

Hudson Grace
Ever since I produced this stunning party at Hudson Grace last year for Atlanta Magazine HOME, I’ve had a crush on this unique home store. They have so many awesome goodies, but I especially love their table linens and candles. Oh, and a little birdie told me they have RBG Christmas ornaments. Who doesn’t need one of those?!

By the way, I’d love to invite each of you to join me at America’s Mart in January. I’ll be discussing how small business owners can define their brand, merchandise, and more!

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Arrivederci Italia 2019

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It’s always hard to say arrivederci, but his year, in particular, was bittersweet because it was such a wonderful season. Our La Fortezza Workshops started off with a bang: 2 styling workshops in June kicked off the season. We had 3 talented instructors and 4 lovely attendees. Joanna and Maren and Sarah, had a lively group and did some really fun projects with their guests. The second styling session was with moi, the Strictly Styling Workshop. I had my BFF Barbara, a stylist from Modena, join me to teach styling. She brought all sorts of foodstuffs from Modena. It was epic.

This workshop also marked the yearly return of PR maven Liz Lapidus she brought her mega bloggerlious friend, Alexandra Darling in the City (although unfortunately she never wrote about her experience at La Fortezza on her blog? 🙁  But she did write about neighboring towns lol) NOTE* bloggers do not bother to contact me about a free workshop and that you’ll post about it. No comping anymore…live and learn…). I digress…

During that workshop I met one of my favorite guests (there’s always an upside to all negative experiences) of the season, the super talented photographer and stylist Alicia, The Chic Shot. You can see some of her amazing shots of La Fortezza on this post. Thank you, Alicia, for sharing your amazing talent. I LOVED working with you, and thank you for all the beautiful photos of your experience here. We hosted the fantastic podcast host Heidi Rew, her podcast featured me and Philip and Barbara, and the ladies from our first workshop in June. Listen to it here. It’s a great look into what we do.

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We also had our first ever intern in June and July from Wellesley College, Adri. She was a wonder and delight. She speaks perfect Italian and was energetic and eager to learn. We loved having her help us with guests and chores around the fortress. We loved her so much that we are bringing another intern from the same Wellesley Italian Studies program back next spring. Let’s just say whoever she is, she has big shoes to fill.  Plus Adri learned to drive a stick shift during her 8 week stay – pretty impressive!

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In July we hosted our first-ever Artist in Residence with abstract painter, Steven McKenzie for the month. It was a stroke of genius on my part, if I do say so myself. Steve was a delightful addition to the La Fortezza Workshop roster, and he brought the sunshine everyday in the studio. Because of Steve’s curiosity, I visited places and experienced things I never would have. Like visiting the antique book archives at our local library in Fivizzano and caving in Equi Terme. Some I loved more than others. (Caving not my thing, go figure) He made jam from our plum trees and filled the studio with his beautiful art inspired by the region. Even during his opening party when we had a torrential downpour, he never lost his bright smile and positive attitude. The Opening Party was amazing, sometimes when the best-laid plans are dashed, and the skies open up, it turns out to be just as great. At his opening, we had visitors from London, Paris, Greece, and the US and of course all of our friends from all over Italy. It was a great July. We had a fun visit with Rue Magazine Editor and Chief Kelli Lamb, and her lovely artist hubby Timmy, Kelli made an amazing video series about La Fortezza.

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In August our son visited with 3 friends; we cooked and toured and ate plenty. Then I visited Pulglia, a place the had been on my list for a while. I experienced the Messors Workshop, which was interesting. read about it here.

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September was filled with great cooking by Chef Philip. There were cooking lessons and artisan food visits with our Slow Food Experience group. We had the lovely photographer Kate Blohm visit again, she was part of a workshop with Angie Mosier in 2018. This year she was our BTS photographer; she’s amazing and will be joining us every year in the fall to document the Slow Food Workshops, something that is close to my heart.

September is the time of year we do our grape harvest, although this year the harvest was a month late, we still had an amazing time with our incredible group. One of our guests were a married couple, PR team Valerie and Garrett, a powerhouse PR team in Atlanta specializing in Chefs and Food, from Via Failla PR and Events  They will be part of the La Fortezza PR team helping to promote La Fortezza Workshops in 2020. I can’t wait to see what they have in store. We also hosted a shopping workshop with Lisa Burnett a whirlwind tour with shop til you drop attendees that left me breathless.

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October was the month of photography with 2 of my favorite photographers joining us. Bill Abranowicz and Ros Atkinson of Her Dark Materials on Instagram. I am honored to call them friends and I am excited to announce they will be back with us in fall 2020. The workshops were not only informative but really fun. We got so many beautiful shots!

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These incredible workshops have proved to be even more wonderful than I had imagined. People gathered around the table, like-minded with so much passion to add to the discussion. Being surrounded by creativity from all creators, from what Philip creates and places on the table, to the interesting creatives from all over the world, (this year we had our first attendee from India) they have so much to offer. It is my idea of heaven.

Although our surroundings are gorgeous, I must say without the people that come to visit, it would be much less beautiful. Thank you to all the support people in our village that take great care of me, and to Chef Philip who is gracious and talented and helpful always with a smile on his face he goes above and beyond. Thanks Philip for all the amazing Pizza Parties!

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To the guests that grace our doors, grazie mille. I look forward to welcoming new faces in 2020. Please check the website November 9th for our new workshops to post. We have limited spots, first come first serve with private rooms. So grab your spot in 2020 La Fortezza Workshops and Retreats.

x

Photo Credit: The Chic Shot, Kate Blohm, Nandi Shaw, Ros Atkinson, William Abranowicz

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