2017 Holiday Gift Guide

'Tis the season for giving! I always have so much fun rounding up gifts for you, and this year my 2017 holiday gift guide is no different.

‘Tis the season for giving! I always have so much fun rounding up gifts for you, and this year my 2017 holiday gift guide is no different. Below, you’ll find some of my favorite prezzies for everyone on your list, no matter what your budget might be.

It should be no surprise that among my favorite gifts this year is an Italian workshop. It goes without saying that a trip to Italy for one of my workshops would make a fabulous gift, right? If you know of someone who’s itching to travel, nudge them in the right direction with an AJS Workshop gift card. I’d love to have them come along on next summer’s adventure!

Gift Guide 2017:

Get Happy Organic Body Wash: With scents like geranium and peppermint in this body wash, it would make any receiver happy!

904799

Furla Bubble Keyring: Fluffy, feathery, and fabulous, this keyring is bound to put a smile on anyone’s face. It would make a fun stocking stuffer, too!

Dr. Jart Bright Lover Rubber Mask: These masks are not only fun to try, but they work well, too. As you know, I love a mask, and this one is one of my favorites.

img21c

All-Clad Gourmet Slow Cooker: Slow cookers are great to have on-hand in the winter for soups, stews, and other yummy recipes. Add this one to a friend’s repertoire to keep their kitchen chic.

Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker Cookbook: Of course no slow cooker gift is complete without a slow cooker cookbook, and Martha’s is recipe gold.

05d90c21-4f3f-4550-a554-be6836e9601a--2017-1110_menu_salt-and-pepper-bottle-grinders-with-walnut-lids_nudes_mid_rocky-luten_010

Salt & Pepper Grinders: Any home chef will love a set of sleek, streamlined salt and pepper grinders. I love the idea of pairing these with your favorite specialty salt for a gift that wows.

Star-dusted Passport Holder: Every jet-setter needs a passport holder. Pair this one with a gift card to one of our workshops for an unforgettable gift.

If you need more ideas for great gifts, especially for the guys in your life, check out Men’s Health and Esquire. Their gift guides were so good, I couldn’t top them, so I wanted to share them with you.

Happy holidays!

xx Annette

All christmas gifts Crushing On Entertaining Events Holiday Holiday Entertaining holiday guide Holidays last minute gifts Personal shelter Uncategorized wishlist : Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My Life in Photos, October

Between teaching workshops and teaching college students, October has been full of educational opportunities, and I leave for Italy for our Olive Workshop next week. More teaching! I’m thrilled. I’ve found a passion in sharing what I do with other people, and it’s so rewarding.

This month, I’ve enjoyed taking a break from our renovation and getting rejuvenated about our plans and getting started again. I am excited to see the progress when I am back in Italy. I’ve shared a few sneak peeks over the past month, but if you haven’t seen them all, there are a few in the roundup below.

My life in photos for October has been full of teaching, renovating, and of course, cooking. Follow along with my adventures and get an idea of what the month has held below:

My life in photos for October has been full of teaching, renovating, and of course, cooking. Get an idea of what the month has held in today's post.

A glimpse at food styling like what our attendees can learn at next summer’s workshops.

Now available on our site! - G I F T C A R D S :: head to the workshop page in the link, and gift someone a creative retreat in Italy next summer. Brills, right?!

Now available on our site! – G I F T C A R D S :: head to the workshop page in the link, and gift someone a creative retreat in Italy next summer. Brills, right?!

Up-cycling these lovelies in our gust quarters currently being renovated.

Up-cycling these lovelies in our gust quarters currently being renovated.

Fall in the Lunigiana is for work! Pictured here our amazing gardener chopping and stacking our firewood. We will need it in the winter for fireplaces and in the summer for our outdoor oven called a forno.

Fall in the Lunigiana is for work! Pictured here our amazing gardener chopping and stacking our firewood. We will need it in the winter for fireplaces and in the summer for our outdoor oven called a forno.

Teaching students has proven to be very satisfying.

Teaching students has proven to be very satisfying.

Dinner party vibes.

Dinner party vibes.

Meringues filled with strawberries and cream.

Meringues filled with strawberries and cream.

 

 

 

behind the scenes cooking Crushing On dinner party Entertaining Fall Food fall menus Food styling Instagram Personal photography renovation in italy Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cooking Local, the Paper Plane and More: It’s the top 4

4 for August

It’s the top 4 for August, and what a busy month it has been. I’ve enjoyed sharing some of my favorite Italian secrets with you this month. I recapped our final summer workshop with Sif, we discussed the best kept antiques fair secret in Italy, and I may or may not have spilled the beans on one of my guilty pleasures.

I cannot believe it’s almost September and that in just a few short weeks, I’ll be boarding a plane back to the U.S. In the meantime, I’m going to soak up every moment I have left of my first summer at the Fortress. Stay tuned in September for some exciting content. You won’t want to miss it.

Here’s my top 4 August:

Cooking Healthy and Local Workshop

The Testament of Testaroli

The Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe

Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes

xx Annette

All behind the scenes Cocktail of the Week Cocktails Crushing On Events Food styling how to be a stylist Instagram italy mixology my picks Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling photostyling like a pro Recipes style lessons Styling The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My secret mega obsession in Italy

IMG_9621

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.

IMG_9593 IMG_9592

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.

IMG_9599 IMG_9596 IMG_9623 IMG_9619

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

All behind the scenes Crushing On italy my picks Notes from Italy Personal Travel Tuscany Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , ,

Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes Sarzana, Italy

As you know from my last post, I am in love with the little right down the road from us town, Sarzana, Italy, and Melissa's Tearoom and Cakes is a gem. FullSizeRender 3

Ciao! As you know from my last post, I am in love with the little town right down the road from us town, Sarzana, Italy.  My sweet friend from Berlin, Heike, told me that I needed to check out this cute tearoom, Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes, while I was there, and mostly I needed to follow her on Instagram, as she was a German sweets sensation. As I have said before, Sarzana is a treasure trove of hip and yummy places.

Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes is on the main drag, and you cannot miss it. It’s the store front with the charming, super cozy hunter green facade, sparkly crystal lighting, and pistachio colored cafe tables and chairs in front. Inside the deep rich hunter green walls set off the glittery silver teapots on the back wall and draw you right in. Cake stands hold several freshly baked cakes, and cupcakes are displayed like delicious jewels in a vintage glass case. In Italy, there has been a invasion of cupcakes which to me is a revelation since Italians tend to like drier, less sweet pastries and proudly defend their territory as far as pasticcerias are concerned. But I like the fact that Italians are widening their horizons. Check out Melissa’s facebook page, and definitely follow her on Instagram as her feed is pretty yummy.

Don’t worry, there are still plenty of fantastic pasticcerias in Sarzana to choose from, but I love Melissa’s balls to the walls concept of tea and cakes in a espresso and biscotti driven market.

If you’re in the hood, stop by for a visual treat. Of course, it’s a treat for your mouth, too. Like I’ve said before, go off the beaten path and explore outside your comfort zone. You never know what you’ll find…maybe even a cupcake! xx

All baking behind the scenes Crushing On Decor Design Inspiration Instagram italian cooking italy Notes from Italy photography Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , ,