While we’re normally espousing the advantages of nourishing from within, (and yes we’ll get to that shortly!) a nurturing skin regimen - from the outside - is also important. Here in the Napa Valley, It’s fortunate for us to have so much creative talent that it goes even beyond the extraordinary winemaking efforts and includes an entrepreneur who has taken her creativity and prowess in another direction, and into another sort of bottle – purple-hued nonetheless!
April Gargiulo, who has been called a modern skincare maverick in the press, is the creator of The Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum. Established on a skincare platform of Phyto Radiance Infusion, she uses all natural, toxin free alternatives to formulate a skincare product that is geared to everything from fine lines and wrinkles to acne to elasticity and radiance in general. Wow! ... (read more)
Amanda Wright clearly has an eye for design and a love of form, in many ways! A move to the Napa Valley surprisingly ignited a passion for clay that she is now happily able to fuel and share!
Amanda grew up with a very creative family that included painters, potters, jewelry designers, and woodworkers. And she will tell you that, “My mom has always been my greatest influence; she encouraged me to make things my whole life.” A creative direction then comes naturally.
From a fashion design career in LA, which included costume design for TV and movies, Amanda is now deeply ensconced in a more gentle way of life here in northern California’s enchanting and bucolic wine country, the Napa Valley. She enjoys the slower-paced lifestyle, and space to explore, with her husband and their 2 children.
Not knowing what a move like that would ultimately bring, she was open to all kinds of adventure. As art has always been a part of their lives, she often spent time with her children at a local haven for all forms of art here in the Valley, Nimbus Arts, which provides instruction in a myriad of art mediums for all ages. Finding herself signed up with her children for a kid’s pottery class, she hadn’t expected much. But the first time she put her hands in the clay, that was it! She had worked with clay a long time ago before the fashion design business became the creative expression she pursued. And this one experience brought back a flood of warm memories of that experience long ago and a feeling that this was a direction she needed to embrace. There’s been no looking back!
The common thread in Amanda’s pottery is simplicity and balance. Each of the traditional forms is charged with a modern spirit. Function meets form. The utilitarian art invites you to use each piece in daily life. When designing a new line of ceramics, Amanda sticks to her trademark set of rules: “I start with a theme, a color palette and a cohesive group of designs,” she says. “Then I follow up with the essential details to pull it all together.”
Details these days can include sweeping chain links on a classic vase or corset ties at the neck of a pitcher, which are clearly whimsically inspired by Wright’s former fashion design career. Her process—making functional, wheel-thrown objects and then dressing them with hand-built accents— has echoes in fashion as well. “The objects are essentially the dress forms and the accents are the outfits or accessories,” she explains. Emblematic of her unique aesthetic, her Servitude line, sold through Cavalier by Jay Jeffers, is marked by a matte-black or natural white finish and accoutrements like rivets and chains. “I love getting lost in the details and design,” she explains, “but what’s most important is being able to use these pieces in our daily lives.”
It’s easy to tell this new direction suits her well as she lights up when she talks about her latest clay project, her cozy studio amidst the vines, and how she enjoys interacting with customers at the local Farmers Markets.
She is also heartily ‘giving back’ in the sense that she is now a presenting artist at Nimbus Arts. We love it! You can sign up for her upcoming “Fun-ctional art”! class here that starts this Thursday, March 24th: Functional Fun With Ceramic Forms The class focuses on the basics of slab, coil and wheel thrown construction to create unique mugs, vases, and organic forms while keeping clean, sleek and traditional lines. Techniques in pattern and glazing are also covered.
In the meantime, follow the sound of the music …“Let Her Go,” by Passenger, “Walk Away,” by Ben Harper, or “Landslide,” by Fleetwood Mac, and you are undoubtedly going to find Amanda, happily elbow deep in clay! Thank you Amanda for sharing with us and sharing your passion with this community through Nimbus!
Culture, community, health, flavor, ingredients, vessel and setting – these are all so important for a meal that leaves you feeling energized and exactly what we intend from Crisp! Thanks again Amanda for the inspiration!
If you’ve ever had the pleasure (and pleasurable pain!) of riding the Napa Valley’s Bottega Gran Fondo, you’ve likely been sustained by a chocolate phenomenon known as Kollar Feul! It’s a decadent mixture of dark chocolate with almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, coconut, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, cocoa nibs, pine nuts and raisins. And the mingling of all these flavors is amazing! So it’s clear now that we need to ride to indulge!
We are so fortunate to have the tremendous talent of chocolatier Chris Kollar and his partner, Naomi Pasztor, here in the Valley. What started as Naomi’s college business project at the prestigious Ecole Hôtelière of Lausanne in her native Switzerland, turned into Kollar Chocolates two years later with it’s home base now in Yountville. And the duo has been building momentum ever since. From classic truffles to new world flavors and creative creations like the Kollar Feul (pictured above), Chris has fashioned treats for just about every market tier!
We love their sense of local and sustainable too. They use fair trade and local seasonal ingredients whenever possible. For instance, lavender and fennel pollen truffles are made with flowers from Peter Jacobsen’s certified organic orchards in Yountville (which also is a favorite with chefs from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry). A lot of forethought has gone into their packaging as well and it’s all recyclable.
When you’re in town, it’s a fun jaunt to check out their totally unique “chocolate bar wall.” Say “hi” to Chris behind his glass encased workshop and find out firsthand how he developed his passion for chocolate as he jumped from the savory side of kitchen over to the chocolaterie. You’ll undoubtedly hear about his extensive travel in Europe in pursuit of classic chocolate knowledge and you’ll see for yourself how he has parlayed what he’s learned into his own unique style. With their home base in the Napa Valley, and a booming business, life is good! We wish them much continued success feeding their passion and our need for a superior chocolate fix – particularly as an important aid in ascending Ink Grade!
Yes, we'll get to the chocolate this week – because for me, it's the perfect week for all kind of chocolate indulgence pushing up against the 80:20 formula ? – but for the moment, what else makes your heart sing? How about fresh, organic flowers cultivated with lots of love? We delight in being able to incorporate blossoms into our edible Crisp creations ... but this time it's a feast for the eyes!
This bouquet is from Thomas Farm in Aptos and they're making them with a little extra love this week highlighting stunning red/pink tulips. Thomas Farm's famous tulips are all grown outside, instead of in a greenhouse, so they are bigger and stronger than tulips you might find elsewhere, having taken more time to size up in spite of the most often challenging elements. And we like that all of their flowers are certified organic. We are careful about our sourcing whether edible or merely visual! Organically-grown flowers are rare these days, when most cut flowers are flown in from thousands of miles away and are sprayed heavily with pesticides banned in the United States. Hats off to the wonderful folks who grow, pick and arrange these flowers and for their efforts to manage the land they work with care and devotion!
So here's a shout out to our friends at Thomas Farm where they are well-known for their organic cut flowers, but they also grow a huge variety of other crops, including dry-farmed early girls, winter squash, potatoes, garlic and zucchini. How are they able to do it? The biodiversity of Thomas Farm's crop plan means it’s difficult for pests really settle in. They focus on building their soils by apply plentiful compost: approximately 10-20 tons of compost per acre per year. Cover-cropping is their tactic to prevent soil erosion. The land is a focus but so are their loyal employees. They provide their employees with year-round opportunities which is unusual but shows how deep their commitment is to all things good.
So knowing all this, when we now look at a bouquet from Thomas Farm, our hearts have one more reason to feel the love!
Crisp Lifestyle offers a nod to those who inspire and the moments that are special – and the always remarkable subsequent creations that allow us a daily reminder. Sometimes it is about naive simplicity and sometimes it catches us in the moment. Sometimes it’s the sheer bounty and other times a clean line.
Cristina Weber and her Studiopatró clearly belong happily among our musings. (more)
During this month of love-themed adventure, we simply say, "Yes Please!" to some much needed self care. And leave it to the wonderful Kate Spade to cleverly drive that point home! And for all those times when there's an offer on the table that will clearly take you to the edge of your comfort zone, take a cue from Dorothy and remember the shoes! It's all about growth and adventure -- and paying attention to your inner goddess!