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

I.  Tasked with bringing dessert to a friend’s dinner party this week, I’m relying on my extremely simple (and extremely delicious) recipe for Chocolate Layer Cake with Vanilla Buttercream. Cakes made from scratch can be overly tedious, and with a million things on my To-Do List this week, I love the fact that the base of this recipe is from a standard cake mix. The addition of brandy and espresso powder disguise any hint of store-bought flavor, and four-ingredient homemade buttercream elegantly finishes off the confection. If chocolate isn’t your thing, use the same method with vanilla or lemon cake (swap the brandy for gin and leave out the espresso), or spice cake (keep the brandy, nix the espresso).

II.  While on my way to return La Tavola linens from a party I designed and catered Friday evening, I walked past home decor shop Serena & Lily on Sacramento Street and couldn’t resist popping in. The wall of fabric swatches for upholstery, bed sheets, and duvet covers is mesmerizing. Within seconds, I spotted at least a dozen prints that I needed immediately. Lucky for me (and you) the store is offering 25% off of everything until midnight.

III.  Nearly everyone I know has complained about finding White Elephant gifts to me in the last week. Do you go chic or kitchy? Overspend or underspend? Gender-neutral or gender-specific? Like most things in my life, when it comes to these gifts I either go all out searching for the perfect present or forget completely until the last minute and buy something from Walgreens. To avoid the extremes this year, I stopped by Jonathan Adler over the weekend to pick up half a dozen presents (all around $30) that can easily double as hostess gifts this season. The best part is that they wrap the pieces beautifully in an orange box and Jonathan Adler ribbon, which will surely make whatever you get ten times better. My picks: the iconic dolls canister, gold zebra tray, Mr. and Mrs. Muse mug, and kangaroo match strike.

IV.  Given how many apps there are focused on getting you into a relationship, it’s shocking that there aren’t any to help you get out of one. Until now… Stila Cosmetics creator (and Goose’s real life wife) Jeanine Lobell teamed up with her therapist friend to create an app that assists you in making it through a breakup in thirty days. Breakup RX provides you with three tasks every morning, designed to coach you through the grief process, such as writing down the reasons behind destructive coping mechanisms like binge-drinking and reckless rebound dating. Though I haven’t gone through a recent breakup, I do have a very-on/very-off ex who resurfaces every few months, so I decided to give the app a try. So far, I’m impressed with both the well-reasoned advice and the darling messages of encouragement the app sends you every night. If you’re in a similar boat, I highly recommend giving the app a try.

V.  Last week, I posted a recipe for ridiculously indulgent hot chocolate. If you don’t have copper cocoa mugs, but still want a flawless presentation, order a set of these adorable mini marshmallow stirrers here, or pick up a similar version at your local Paper Source. Take it up another notch by turning your hot chocolate ingredients into a bar for holiday parties with these printable labels.

Have a wonderful week!  xx tt