Tag Archives: Behind the Scenes

4 Places to Organize Today to help your tomorrow

It’s resolution time! I know many of you have vowed to become more organized in 2022, so I wanted to share some of my best tips with you. I am crazy organized; it’s just how I am, so I love helping those who are more challenged in this area. Truthfully, it clears your mind to have an uncluttered space. My biggest tip is to start small.

Even the smallest of organizing projects can launch you into a full-on organizing frenzy. In order to keep from being overwhelmed, select one project per week. It’s totally doable and will make a huge difference in your home which will trickle into the rest of your life.

First things first, identify the areas of attack. Let’s go room to room, shall we?

Kitchen

Check your pantry for expired items and toss accordingly. You will be surprised how quickly your pantry clears out. If you make it a regular practice to toss and check labels, your pantry will stay organized.

Closet

I like to go through my clothes and purge them every 3 months. If you are starting fresh in January with a closet purge, start with reorganizing your jewelry. I find that the Container Store has some great jewelry storage solutions.

Home Office

I work from my home, as many of you do these days. Staying organized at home is more important than ever before. An organized office makes for an efficient workplace. Toss unnecessary papers (or go paperless!), and make sure everything has a place.

Laundry Room

I don’t know about you, but I love a well-appointed laundry room. Sometimes this is the easiest room to effectively change. Storage bins and baskets on an added shelf might be all you need. Something decorative like a small piece of artwork makes this workspace feel pretty. A quick and easy fix is to color coordinate some pretty soap and laundry products. There are so many available now at any store like Target, and Mrs. Meyers detergents and cleaning supplies are some of my go-tos. It makes for instant design, and it’s functional too.

I would love to hear about your projects and organizational practices. Use the start of the year to challenge yourself to organize your home and create peaceful and beautiful spaces to live in. All the best for 2022! Make it a good one.

xx Annette

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Spruce Up Your Champagne for NYE

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. We are staying in for New Year’s Eve this year, but that doesn’t mean the holiday should be any less special…it just might mean an earlier bedtime. I wanted to share a few tips for sprucing up your bubbly. In my opinion, nothing beats a glass of bubbles, but you can always add a little something to up the ante.

Tip one: use frozen cranberries

One of my favorite holiday tricks is using frozen cranberries to keep beverages cold. 3-4 frozen cranberries in a glass of champagne are not only beautiful but useful! I usually buy a bag and freeze the entire thing. Such a simple spruce.

Tip two: switch up your glassware

Champagne glasses are tall and elegant, but I never miss an opportunity to use a coupe. My favorite coupe glasses are the ones I find while antique shopping, but these from Estelle are a close runner-up.

Tip three: sprinkle some sparkle

My sister gave me edible champagne glitter for Christmas, and it is honestly so fun. It makes your drink absolutely sparkle! Then, my sister-in-law gave me cotton candy that you put in your champagne. How fun is that?! Clearly, my family knows me well.

Tip four: splash some St. Germain

I love a splash of St. Germain liqueur in my champagne. The elderflower has floral notes which pairs well with crisp champagne. Be careful to only use a dash!

I hope you all have a wonderful start to 2022!

xo Nicole

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My Italian Guestbook Pre-order NOW

As I type this, I cannot believe that I am saying it, but the follow-up to my memoir from May 2020 Italy is My Boyfriend is ready for you to pre-order. I am over the moon. I got some amazing reviews from some of my favorite influencers, and I am extremely excited to share My Italian Guestbook with you. I L-O-V-E the cover! Let me know in the comments what you think of the cover art. I hand-picked the illustrator Melinda Beck; I think she’s extraordinary. Please click here to pre-order your copy. It is full of fun and funny stories from my first ever workshop and last year’s retreats. There’s love, laughter, a few lies, and loads of Limoncello…oh and a little sex too.

Here’s what the Editor in Chief of the Florentine, Helen Farrell, had to say about My Italian Guestbook.

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My Italian Guestbook
 is an upbeat collection of stories about Annette Joseph’s revival of a twelfth-century fortress in the Lunigiana countryside. From the unexpected challenges of La Fortezza’s first photo-styling workshop to a romantic liaison between a local butcher and an American vegetarian, the colorful characters and entertaining anecdotes in this galloping read are bound to make you crave a Tuscan adventure or three.

Pre-order it here. I hope you love it as much as I do.

xx Annette

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Add a little DIY to your holiday parties

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. Over the weekend, I went to an intimate holiday brunch at my friend Paige Minear’s house. Paige served a lovely, simple spread, and we all sipped a prosecco punch while having conversations about our favorite Christmas memories. Then, Paige surprised us with a DIY activity: gingerbread house building!

She purchased these kits which allowed us to get a head start on one of the hardest parts: building the house itself. Our kits came with a few cute candies for decorating, but Paige also provided some other treats to make our houses unique. We laughed and helped each other when sides caved in or our windows turned out looking more like doors. It was a blast, and it got me thinking that having an activity at a party is almost as important as having great food.

Annette has always said that any extra touch at a party is what guests are going to remember. In her archives, she has directions for DIY snow globe place cards (I copied it again below!). You could do this yourself, or you could set out all of the materials ahead of time for guests to make their own take-home gift. Five years from now, I won’t remember the yummy avocado toast that Paige served, but I will remember belly-laughing over gingerbread houses.

Find Annette’s directions for DIY snowglobes below.

Happy holidays!

xo Nicole

You will need:

– Hot Glue Gun
– 2. 5″ ball jar
– Small toy deer, rabbit, or christmas tree
– Faux snow
– 1/2 inch silk ribbon
– Stickers (these are from Michaels)
– Sharpie
– Twine

How To:

1. Cut a 3 inch piece of ribbon, attach the sticker, and write the name of your guest

2. Attach the ribbon banner to the tree or toy animal with a dot of hot glue

3. Remove the lid of the jar, pull the lid apart, and add a little glue to the inside of the outer rim. Glue the round part of the lid to the rim.

4. Place a dime size round of hot glue on the inside of the lid, and attach tree or toy.

5. Place about 1″ depth of the faux snow into the jar.

6. Once the glue has solidified, twist the top onto the jar.

7. Flip the jar and place the jar lid side down on the table. You can shake the snow into place.

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Annette’s Latkes

Hi everyone! It’s Annette’s web manager and friend, Nicole. Yesterday, I met two fellow writer friends (hi Lia and Caroline!) for brunch. When we started tossing around ideas of where to meet, I immediately suggested The General Muir, an Atlanta New York-style Jewish delicatessen. Mostly because I had one request: latkes.

While it *is* Hanukkah, I love any excuse for latkes. The General Muir has excellent ones (ask for their Hanukkah menu if you visit this week! They also have jelly doughnuts…), and Trader Joe’s even has a frozen variety that I have on good authority are also worth their weight. However, there’s never going to be anything like homemade latkes. Today, I’m sharing Annette’s recipe. Take her advice and serve them alongside homemade applesauce, sour cream, or nonfat plain greek yogurt. You can also add caviar for a luxurious bite!

Yellow and Gold Latkes

serves 4 to 6

You will need:
– 3 medium size sweet potatoes
– 3 medium size yukon gold potatoes
– 2 eggs
– 1/4 cup matzo meal or All purpose flour
– 1 small yellow onion diced– salt and pepper to taste

– 1 cup canola oil, add more as needed for frying

To prepare:

Prepare a paper towel-lined cookie sheet for finished latkes.

Hand grate potatoes, so they are shredded. Add salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

By hand, squeeze the liquid out of the potatoes, transfer to another mixing bowl.

Add eggs, matzo meal and diced onion and mix.

Note: if the potatoes still have some water, it’s fine to add 1 more egg and more matzo meal to bind.

In a large skillet put 1/4 cup oil and heat. Drop-in latke mix with a spoon forming small pancakes.

Fry in the oil until golden and crispy.

Place cooked latke pancakes on the towels to drain oil, and continue to fry the latkes and drain. You will need to continue to add oil to the skillet as you continue to fry the latkes. Place the cooked, and drained latkes in the oven on low until guests arrive.

Serve with homemade applesauce, sour cream, or non fat plain greek yogurt.

Latkes photo by Stephanie Meyer for Food & Wine

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