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

I.  In honor of the last day of Hanukkah, I’m making my Flourless Chocolate Cake with a touch of gelt. Traditional meals during the Jewish Festival of Lights include fried potato latkes, noodle kugel, and brisket. To counter the heavier dishes, I love making this chocolate cake, which becomes significantly lighter with the removal of flour. Shalom to everyone celebrating this evening!

II.  Coming up with new Christmas gift ideas for my girlfriends is always tricky. I want to give them each something amazing that they will use, which sounds easy - but for some reason I always end up gifting the same Feu de Bois Dyptique candles year after year. Determined to be more original this time around, I’ve been scouring gift-giving guides this month. When I came across Daily Cup of Couture’s Guide for the Girl Who Has Everything, I fell in love with Cuyana’s striking monogrammed leather tassel keychain. The best part is that each one comes in an orange gift box (and everyone knows that the best presents are always wrapped in orange).

III.  Every time chef Thomas McNaughton, of Flour + Water fame, hosts a cooking class series, it sells out instantly and remains the talk of the town for months. If you aren’t able to snag a coveted spot or live far away from the city by the bay, you can now partake in McNaughton’s culinary genius from the comfort of your kitchen. Order a copy of the freshly released Flour + Water cookbook for yourself and the foodies in your life, which includes step-by-step instructions for making three different types of pasta dough and delicious recipes categorized by season.

IV.  For the jetsetters among you, if you aren’t already using Pillow & Pepper, you should be. With the mantra “we check, you travel” the company seeks out the best restaurants and hotels, then figures out the best things to order and best rooms to stay in while traveling (like this gorgeous suite at the Palazzo Vecchietti in Florence). Each venue is personally checked out by one of the three founders of the business, all of whom have extensive experience in luxury hospitality (which is much better than some angry rando on Yelp). I can’t wait to use Pillow & Pepper while planning my next vacation.

V.  What’s better than an enormous Christmas tree lot? Partying in an enormous Christmas tree lot… With 2,000 of San Francisco’s glitterati… In cocktail attire… And open bar… For charity. (Those adorable jumpsuits that the Guardsmen wear certainly up the eye candy ante). Don’t wait to get your tickets - the boys are down to the final few VIP tickets, and last year they turned away 300 ticketless people at the door. See you there!

Have a wonderful week!  xx tt