Infusing grandeur into otherwise drab Mondays with five things/ideas/events for the week:

I.  I truly cannot remember the last time it rained for days on end like this in San Francisco. Yesterday, I used it as a delicious excuse to play in my kitchen. Somehow, I’ve never made chicken noodle soup from anything other than a Campbell’s tin can, and decided it was the perfect time to put my spin on the classic. After poring over recipes from Barefoot Contessa, Julia Child, Tyler Florence, and even Guy Fieri, I came up with a ridiculously delicious new Table + Teaspoon concoction. Make a big batch for cold nights the rest of the week, and serve with Cheddar Thyme biscuits (add both ingredients to Pillsbury canned biscuits then top with an egg white wash) and salted honey.

INGREDIENTS: ¼ cup olive oil, 2 yellow onions chopped, 6 garlic cloves minced, 4 carrots sliced, 4 celery stalks sliced, 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, 2 dried bay leaves, 2 lemons cut in half, handful of fresh Italian parsley, one bottle dry white wine, one bottle dry sherry, 2-quarts chicken stock, ½ pound bucatini, two chicken breasts shredded,1 teaspoon each of red pepper flakes, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin, plus salt and pepper to taste.

INSTRUCTIONS: Place onion, garlic, and olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven stirring occasionally over medium heat for five minutes. Add carrots and celery, cook for five more minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the bucatini and parsley, and bring to a boil. Let boil (watch so that it doesn’t boil over) for twenty minutes. Remove the lemons, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs. Add bucatini (break in half so the noodles aren’t too long) and boil for another twenty minutes. Stir in parsley, and serve. Note that if there isn’t enough broth immediately or upon reheating, add tap water or more chicken stock if you have it on-hand.

II.  For years, I’ve coveted these Mongolian lamb stools. Starting at $1,100 each, I haven’t been able to justify the purchase. I’ve posted about DIY options, but never found the time to actually make them. As for ready-made options - Anthropologie’s version is too rustic, CB2′s is too shaggy, and Cost Plus’s is too basic. Determined to find the chicest solution, I turned to the craft and decor haven, Etsy. After researching all of the options, I settled on a pair of stools with gold pin legs from Mod Haute Digs for $150 each. When the stools arrived, all that I had to do was screw in the legs and voila! Striking Mongolian lamb perfection for a fraction of the price.

III.  Speaking of DIY projects, I found one that may be worth finding time to make. During the holidays, many of us find ourselves packing our dining rooms with friends and family from out of town. Fitting everyone at the same table often comes at the expense of decor. While it’s tempting to seat single Uncle Tim at the kids’ table to make room for florals and candelabras, it turns out there is a more polite (and arguably more beautiful) solution: The Hanging Copper Chandelier. Using little more than copper pipes, ceiling hooks, and twine, you can quickly create custom lighting for your dinner celebration. This piece is beautiful year-round, but made extra special with winter foliage for the holidays. Make sure that you use dripless candles (clean-burning soy is always a good bet) to avoid turning Christmas into a personal injury suit.

IV.  Move over polyester-clad fat Santa… Fashion Santa is here to replace you. Hailing from Toronto, this dapper menswear aficionado is updating our notion of St. Nick with his trim physique, handsome face, and authentic white hipster beard. Even better, he’s doing it in the name of charity for sick children. For every selfie posted using the hashtag #YorkdaleFashionSanta, the handsome hero’s local mall will donate $1 to the SickKidsFoundation. Even Justin Bieber is in on the act. Let’s one up the annoying little crooner with our selfie game and raise money for kids! And if you’re in the Toronto area, stop by Yorkdale Mall and give this man a kiss for me.

V.  In 2010, I had the pleasure of meeting Vogue-intern-turned-socialite-whisperer Derek Blasberg during his Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady book tour at The Clift Hotel. I’ve since misplaced the book, but will never forget the inscription he wrote me, “Always remember to put on underwear when you expect to be in the company of a gentleman.” After I blushed awkwardly, we had an ever so slightly less awkward rapport while I begged for intel on my social butterfly crush (and Balsberg-BFF) Lauren Santo Domingo. Fast-forward five years, the cheeky author has been named by New York Times as 2015 Prom King of Instagram. Whether you’re on the slopes, the beach, or waiting in line at airport security, peruse the article The Fabulous (Instagram) Life of Derek Blasberg this week for some much welcomed light reading.

Have a wonderful week!  xx tt