Couture Cakery

In an effort to be all inclusive and politically correct, Bloomingdale's theme this season is "Happy Merry Peace Love Holiday." While my personal aesthetic leans more toward Barney's Taste.Luxury.Humor (how awesome are the SNL windows!?) I decided to fully embrace the vision of my place of employment and go all out for the company bake-off. I adapted a red velvet peppermint cake recipe from Southern Living to incorporate our quirky holiday colors. The cake is lined with simple sugar cookie shopping bags adorned with our signature lowercase b. Once the pristine white frosting is sliced, a swirl of neon pink and lime green cake awaits inside to be devoured!

1 (18.25-ounce) package white cake mix
3 egg whites

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 (9-ounce) package yellow cake mix

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

*Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1 cup butter or margarine, softened 1 (2-pound) package powdered sugar 2 teaspoons peppermint extract


Beat first 4 ingredients according to cake mix package directions.

Beat yellow cake mix and next 6 ingredients according to package directions. Spoon red batter alternately with white batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans. Swirl batter gently with a knife.

Bake at 350° for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks.

For Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting:

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at low speed until smooth. Add extract, beating until blended.

Spread Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. (Cake may be chilled up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.) Garnish, if desired. Serve within 2 hours.



All That Jazz

Call it the Michael Jackson effect. Since the entertainer's passing last summer jazz shoes have been seen adorning the feet of everyone from It-Brit Alexa Chung to Belgian model Anouck Lepère. Typically in black patent leather or the occasional metallic, they complement every look from cropped skinny pants to baby-doll dresses. For those who tend to lean toward the New York uniform of all black as a fall back option when pressed for time or creativity, there is no better shoe to add interest to an otherwise safe outfit than Christian Louboutin's Fred glitter lace-up shoes. With the amount of complements you'll receive, you'll be toe-tapping and moonwalking your way to the top of all your peers' best dressed lists.

What You'll Need:
One pair white sneakers
Black Sharpie
Glitter & gem glue
Small paint brush
Silver glitter
2 yards leather cord
Mod Podge® or other glitter sealant

First, remove the shoe laces. Color around the edges and stitched detailing of the shoes with a Sharpie. Don't worry about making the lines perfect; in fact, it is better to color a bit outside the lines as well.

Now, cover your work area with newspaper (and keep a vacuum handy for clean up). Begin painting glue on the white canvas of the shoe, one section at a time. Be sure you are covering all the canvas right up to the black edges. Pour glitter on the glue covered part of the shoe, then shake off the excess. Repeat until the entire shoe is covered in glitter. Allow to dry overnight. Dab on a glitter sealant to prevent the sparkles from falling off (however, I still wouldn't recommend wearing the shoes around your house!). For the finishing touch, lace up the shoes with a leather cord.



Ice Ice Baby

Though the weather outside is frightful, there are still a multitude of holiday parties to attend! With tiered party frocks and sequins getting a bit stale, why not spice things up with a cool asymmetrical tank from Elizabeth and James? Pair with satin skinny pants for the office party, opaque tights and a sleek mini for a festive fête, or denim and ankle boots for a casual night of bar hopping. No matter what your plans are for the holidays, the sleet gray jersey and ice hem detail will keep you looking fresh and sparkling all through the night!

What You'll Need:
Tank top
Bugle beads


Thread (one color matching tank + one color of your choice)


Begin by trying on your tank and lightly penciling a diagonal line from under your rib cage to your hip. Lie the tank on a flat surface and cut along your guide. Next, sew the bugle beads around the entire hem of the shirt using the matching thread.

Using your complementary thread color, sew loops around the middle of each individual bugle bead. This adds the ruffle effect along the hem. The thread will pop against the silver beads to add unexpected color to an otherwise soft and subtle top!



Shades of Jade

I've been DIYING (pun intended) for the perfect shade of nail polish since I saw pops of green all over the classic black and white Chanel runway last spring.

After numerous (failed) attempts at concocting my own varnish, I decided it was time to give up hope.

Then while Christmas shopping this past weekend, I found the perfect color at Urban Outfitters. The title? Simply "Green 2." Guess it only took UO two attempts to match the aforementioned designer shade. The best part? At only $5 a pop it's the perfect stocking stuffer for all your friends!



Shopping Around the Christmas Tree

It's the most wonderful time of year! That time when you have to brave crowded malls, watch your year of hard earned savings deplete, and appear to enjoy every spoonful of Grandma's jello mold. After you're done with your charitable holiday gift giving, why not reward yourself with a little something from recently launched e-boutique Les Nouvelles?

The site was started by two former ELLE magazine staffers who found themselves with a little too much closet space after migrating south to Atlanta. Les Nouvelles offers the perfect selection of separates for weekend brunching from cult faves like Jenni Kayne and Gryphon to party pieces from Karen Walker and Issa. What really sets Les Nouvelles above other online shops is its "paper doll" section - a mannequin on which you can play stylist and test the versatility of the piece you're considering. Considering the holiday marathon you have in front of you, why not start your shopping cart today!?



Gem Dandy

What do you get when you cross a L.A. based stylist/Kitson buyer with a L.A.M.B. designer? The chicest little clothing line for girls with a temerarious temperament - Pencey. Named after Holden Caulfield's boarding school, Pencey has a preppy presupposition with unexpected edge. Case in point? Graphic tees with smileys - upside down - and cozy waffle sweaters cut just a wee bit too short. Pencey's Holiday 2009 collection is available on shopbop.com, but you won't find this simple gray sweatshirt with a sparkling surprise.

What You'll Need:
Gray sweatshirt
Assorted flat back jewels

Fabric glue

Lay your sweatshirt on a flat surface. Insert a magazine/book/dvd case in between the front and back layer of fabric so glue won't seep through. Arrange your crystals in a diagonal line from the collar to the armpit on both sides.

Once you are happy with the positioning, place a dot of glue on the back of each jewel and press firmly. Allow to dry at least an hour, but preferably overnight.



Industrial Revolution

With temperatures dropping and sidewalks getting slicker the standard BFs (ballet flats, duh!) just aren't cutting it anymore. The thought of donning UGGs in public is more horrifying than J. Lo's AMA performance. This winter there is a new way to keep your toes toasty with embellished oxfords thanks to the girls of Vena Cava. The duo's fall collection, aptly titled "Crystalarium," takes the old English staple into the digital age with added studs and industrial size chain along the back heel. Tires need a little chain to make it through the harsh winter, so why not your shoes!

What You'll Need:
One pair loafers or oxfords
Industrial size needle
Industrial size chain

Start by making two even pieces of chain (approximately 7 inches long each), using your pliers to open and close the links. Then double thread your needle, tying a secure knot at the end. Using your thimble to protect your thumb, stick your needle through the back center of the shoe from the inside out.

Loop the thread through the center link of the chain and push the needle back inside the shoe. Repeat, making sure the chain is secure. To tie the thread off push your needle to the outside once again. Loop the thread around itself (the part already holding the link in place) to make a few ending knots. Thread the chain to the shoe at the two ends of the chain, and on either side of the center. This ensures the chain runs straight across the back of the shoe and does not droop.