Wednesday, October 30, 2013

DIY Art Project - How to Make a Diwali Lantern (Akaash Kandil)

So we met some of our friends for drinks and dinner last Friday night, and during the conversation, my friend totally inspired me to making a Diwali paper-lantern (akash kandil in Hindi). Well, I did have some free time on my hand this Diwali (which has happened after quite a few years!) I thought, why not give this a try. I mean it sounded like it's pretty easy; something that doesn't take more than a day....which really clicked with me. I am quite impatient by nature so if something's not coming together (pretty!) quickly, I give it up altogether. Well, lucky for the lantern it got built in a day, thanks to all the step by step instructions here, especially the ones with the dimensions (they are super important I tell you!).

Well, the dork that I am, I missed the step where one is supposed to fold the cylinder only after taping all the cones and decorations. And in my excitement, I cut the cardpaper and folded it right away. Well, decorating the lantern was rather awkward but nonetheless manageable.Other than that, no major issues. Ok, maybe only one 'cause of the stupid glue. The freaking thing wouldn't stick the thick card-paper ends together; so I had to hunt down the stick tape for my rescue. 

I skipped the the serrated edges for the squares, and instead of the flowers (on the folded ends of the card-paper), I used dainty diyas (that I accidentally created) which look kinda-perfect now. Some sparkling stickers later, the lantern was ready to be lit, in all it's glory!
You can go in for any bright color combination; since neon has been so in this past season, I decided to go for neonish orange hue and then nothing screams festive like red, right?

I took some pics on the way to building it, which I was hoping to upload if this project saw the light of the day (which it did and I feel good now....*blushes*)

It's as easy as it looks in these pics so are you gonna give it a try this Diwali!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Marwari Aaloo

While I was India, mum was on a spree of cooking my favorite food. Which was awesome. And Marwari Aaloo is one of them. Usually I have it with plain roti or sometimes just like that. The hot-n-spicy red chillies add a perfect heat to the mushy and starchy aaloos (potatoes). The hint of garlic, squeeze of lemon and fresh coriander are the perfect condiments to this dish. 

I shared a picture on Instagram a few months back and many of you asked for a recipe. I have been bugging my mum since then to write down the recipe for me and my readers. So finally here it is.

It's an easy recipe and the best thing is the readily available ingredients. Everyone has potatoes in the pantry, right? You can very well use big potatoes instead of the small round ones, just remember to cut the big potatoes into 4 small parts.

To make this dish, you will need: 
1. Small round white potatoes
2. 5/6 red chillies (I go with the spicy kind but you can go with the less spicy ones depending on your taste)
3. 2-3 garlic cloves
4. For the tadka/seasoning - jeera, oil
5. Coriander and lime juice for garnish

How to make this dish:
1. Boil the small potatoes till fork-tender ( I usually do this in a pressure cooker, but you can boil them in a cooking pan). After they have cooled, remove the skin. 
2. Soak the red chilies in water for an hour till they become soft and pulpy.
3. Grind the red chillies with the garlic cloves and a little bit of salt for taste.
3. Prepare tadka or seasoning. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a round-bottom vessel.
4. Add jeera and hing.
4. When the jeera starts to splutter, add the red chilli paste and fry it for a minute.
5. Add the boiled potatoes to the tadka and fry it properly.
6. Add some salt to taste.
7. In the end, add finely cut coriander and sprinkle lime juice for garnish.

Serve hot with chapatis or pooris.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Denim on Denim

A denim-on-denim is a classic look and one that's easy one to throw on too. Just keep the denim hues slightly apart - like pairing a darker hue on the bottoms with a chambray shirt. With this look, you just need one striking accessory to break the monotony. I have done one in the past, with bright pink accents which really gave a dramatic contrast against the rugged denim.

So well, that was the theme for the day but I thought of taking up the accent part up a notch in the ethnic department. I got a vibrant orange vest with a delicate paisley design during my 'mandatory' shopping trip to Colaba Causeway (also it came in a cute bandhani cotton bag. For those who do not know, Colaba Causeway is the Holy Grail of street shopping in Bombay). I am quite attracted to such quirky pieces especially since moving to the States. I think they just show off an interesting part of your personality. Added plus for me, in my effort to build a balanced wardrobe, I get to add a orange/ tangerine colored item to my closet (and also that, I am a huge fan of dressing up in vests). So there you go, just one accent and that's it; you ready to head out.

Bee-tee-w, did you see that Fall is here! The pretty-colored leaves, the chill in the air, pumpkin spice latte..all that and more is here! And for me it is the time to get back dressing up in good ol' denims :)

Old Navy Chambray shirt (buy here) | Express denims (similar) | Tory Burch Aviators (similar)
| Vest from Colaba Causeway, Mumbai | Target Shoes | Ring Gift from a friend |

one big YAY for Fall

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fall color-blocking: Philip Lim for Target

I was kinda not affected when the 3.1 Philip Lim collection released at Target. I read and saw pics of a lot of bloggers scoring one piece after another, bags, dresses, jackets and I thought to myself what's the rush. I was like all zen in my mind. Then one day, while grocery shopping, like it always is with shopping at Target, I got distracted by the clothes racks especially the special Philip Lim collection in one small corner.

To my surprise, they were well stocked with the different styles in all sizes available. I tried on this striking color-blocked pullover and fell in love with it. The best part is the fabric and cut are all high-quality but the price is still within the 'Target' range. It looked to be perfect for pairing with regular denims (yes, they are making a comeback after a hiatus!) and a peppy bright colored bag (again from Target).

I am not the biggest fan of clothes or bags in Target, but guess this look has come together, right? Are you lured into shopping at Target's clothes/bag section especially when you are on a grocery run?

3.1 Philip Lim for Target Pullover | Express skinny denims | Target bag and shoes |
InPink Necklace | Ring from Flea Market

Friday, October 18, 2013

India Trip Lookbook

I have shared my Good Times I had in India this summer, but I have been meaning to share the outfits, I wore on my trip to India, for a long time now. Though you will notice most of them are Indian outfits/ dresses and that was kind of intentional, well except for this one. I mean it was a freaking HOT summer! So obviously cotton was my go-to fabric of choice. It was almost impossible to wear the denims (colored or regular) in the hot and humid climate of Mumbai, nor leggings (they tend to get clingy with all the humidity around). So good old Punjabi suits were my trusted choice for my day time escapades in the city or around. 

Also, most of the pics below are from my trip to North India (Amritsar - Dalhousie - Dharamshala - Chandigarh). The temps were like 40-50C (which is around 100F) during major parts of my trip. I did wear denims, colored denims, leggings, mostly during night-outs, or day long trips to the mall or blogger meetups/dinners in the evening. But most of time was spent in a comfy and very traditional punjabi suit.

Top and Patiala salwar from Good Things
When in Amritsar, dress in a Patiala (that actually doesn't rhyme much, but you get the drift right?). I mean, wearing this patiala suit just felt absolutely right. We went to see the Golden Temple, Jalianwala Bagh, shopped for jutis and ate chole-bhatura and then ended the day at the Flag Ceremony at the Wagah border (the India-Pakistan border). By the end of the day I was so happy I was wearing this pure-cotton dress, 'cause the North India heat was getting to me by the end of it!

Tunic from a local shop | American Eagle skinny denims
This is a fun tunic that I absolutely dig for its unconventional cut with the side-knotted fancy danglers and the green-piped frill! I have wore it as a dress in the past, and now as a proper tunic with denims. Mind you this was in Dalhousie and the cooler temps made it absolutely bearable necessary to don the denims. I just love the puffed-up short sleeves on the tunic.

Tunic/ Kurta from Gili store | Leggings from Good Things | Dupatta/Scarf from Westside
Did you know that the Gili brand - yes the one with the diamond jewelry stores - now have started stores for Women's apparel too? I didn't know either! I didn't see their stores in every other mall (there was one in Nashik and then another one in a mall in Chandigarh). But I loved their collection and this black and hot-pink kurta/ tunic just caught my fancy. Love how the sleeves are printed. Well, based on my outfit posts, I think you must have guessed that I have a thing for hot-pink ;)

H&M Black top (borrowed from Mum) | Crazy & Co. necklace (seen here) |
The Tribal-print Harem pants are one of my fave purchases during the India trip. I got them for an awesome bargain during street-shopping in Irla, a suburb in Mumbai. They have this exotic print and it's black and white which can be paired with a number of tops and styles. They are on the slim side and not baggy or drop-crotch ones that I absolutely hate; never liked the extra bulk that they add on. There's a little cloth pouch on the side to hold the cell-phone, how cute is that?

Haute Curry Top | Globus capri | Old Navy Earrings
We visited the Rose Garden in Chandigarh and I decide to dress up like one ;) I loved this super-floral and vibrant kurti and I knew I had to have it. It pairs great against the plain denims and the gold piping on the cuffs and neckline gives it a glam-sham look!

Anarkali dress from Kalki in Santacruz, Mumbai
J and I attended a friend's wedding reception and this is what I wore. Anarkali dresses are so in right now, and they have been around for a while actually. But I don't think anybody will tire out of this style. It's so versatile, looks great on any body type, hides the flabs and with the flare you fell like a Indian princess already :) Dangly Kundan earrings, a bracelet and a clutch were my only accessories.

Kurti from Melange, Lifestyle | American Eagle skinny denims | H&M cuff
I wore this to a mehndi/ henna ceremony for my best friend's engagement. The black and gold is a winner combo for any night-out or party. The mega sleeves assured that I didn't have to fold up my sleeves and could adore my hands with mehndi right till my wrist. I wore cute black and gold jhumkas for a more ethnic look.

Left - Tunic from street-shopping at Crawford Market, Mumbai | Leggings from BIBA
Right - Palazzo pants from Hill Road, Bandra | Calvin Klein tee | Leopard-print scarf from NYC street-shopping
These are my off-beat outfits. I wore this neon whimsical-print tunic with leggings to a mother-daughter luncheon and window-shopping session. I had a great time with my mum, her best friend and her daughter. The ladies day out was definitely fun-tastic. Guess this is something I miss doing in the US!
The outfit on the right is what I wore on a drive to Pune. It's one of the comfy-est outfits - Palazzo pants, tee and leopard-print scarf to break the monotone.
Unfortunately, the palazzo pants have shrunk after a washing cycle and obviously I am so bummed that I cannot re-create this look anymore!

Well, hope you enjoyed my India lookbook. Which outfit was your favorite? Do share in the comments below.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Casual Dressing

I have been watching Modern Family for a while. It's safe to say now, that I am rightfully addicted to it now and will not stop unless I finish watching each and every episode of this funny and awesome TV series. I go through this phase of  'will-not-stop-till-I-drop watching all the seasons' from time to time. When I was finishing my Master's course here in the U.S., I was addicted to watching 'Everybody Loves Raymond'. I finished watching the series and then I was watching it over and over again. In those days, I could hardly afford Netflix so J, who was my bf then, suggested me this Korean (or Chinese?!) website that streamed all the episodes one after another. Watching Raymond kinda kept me going; I was sorta new and adjusting to my life here and I really missed my family back then. So this phase, I guess.

So it started with Raymond and now over the years, I have been through addictive phases of watching The Office (US), The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, 24, LOST, Fringe, Grey's Anatomy, BBC's Sherlock Holmes to the more recent and current Modern Family. Of all these, 24 and LOST were supremely addictive. So addictive that one weekend (a snowy weekend that too) in Boston, J and I spent in indoors, like couch potatoes running through one episode after another. We didn't take any breaks (I pretty much sure we did not take time out to even shower) not even for lunch or dinner. I think we were watching LOST - and anyone who has watched it would vouch that it is super addictive and we did the right thing there!

I really missed watching 24, and was quite sad it was over. Jack Bauer was one of the most dashing heroes ever! The wit, humor and innocence of Michael Scott in The Office is what I loved the most; and of course Pam and Jim's office romance. J and I were office buddies too so it was kinda fun to watch it on the screen :) For a while I stopped watching The Office, but got back right to it after I finished reading this book. It brought back my memories of this awesome, cute and lovable show.
Fringe is all sci-fi and phyics-sy. Husband got me hooked onto it. I have seen some really grotesque things on this show but one thing I learnt from it is the power of controlling your brain (and vice-versa).

I am a HUGE HUGE fan of SHERLOCK HOLMES. And BBC's show on this famous detective is simply awesome! To imagine if Sherlock existed in this era with all the social media, hi-fi gadgets, Watson blogging instead of writing the anecdotes. Sheer brilliance, no? And no, Watson is not (and can never be) a girl; he's a nice young handsome lad as he should be! Benedict Cumberbatch *major drool* is fab raised to the power infinity as young Sherlock! You gotta WATCH this show people now now (thank me later). I can hardly wait for their third season!

All these shows are readily available on Netflix. So which TV series have caught your fancy? Do share in the comments below.

And now it's time for the outfit pictures and simple-n-casual was the theme for the day!

Target Mossimo Top | American Eagle skinny denims and bracelet |
Payless Nude pumps | Jewelry from Old Navy |

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Myrtle beach

Lately, the weather has been so gloomy here in the DC - with all the rains and cloudy days - that I have started to miss summer already. And by summer I mean the beaches, lounging by the pool, eating fried stuff and sipping ice-cold drinks. And also wearing shorts, skirts and all the summery! can we have it all back already!

Anyways, I thought now that I have all these thoughts running amok in my head, I thought this might be the best time to share some outfit pics from summer. I got this pretty pink skirt (in the pics below) almost on the last day of my trip in India. Yeah, I was shopping till the very last day there..I can't get enough of all the pretty stuff, what to do! Another motive behind shopping so late in the trip was getting to eat at the food court in the shopping malls.
The stalls in the food courts, in India, are TO DIE FOR! You get to eat these awesome delicacies, dosas, pani-puri, chaat, biryani, kebabs, indianiz-ed burgers, chinese noodles and rice (slurrrrppp...). I think all my intentions to even step in the mall is - to go to the top floor (or whichever floor the food court is located) and hog on the desi fast-food, especially pani-puri - the one that you get made in BISLERI aka distilled mineral water! For all I know, I am going to miss all this and even the fact that food courts serve delicious food. I mean there are food courts in the malls here in the US, but all the food is just super greasy, no chaaat (!!), and somehow I am not even hungry anymore when I step in the food courts here.

So yeah back to the shopping, I had been on a lookout to buy a skirt during my India trip and voila! I find it on the very last day there! I was so happy that I found it on a deal. I paired it with a bright top for our summer weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We took these pics in the balcony which had some really gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean ....all daaaayyy looonng! The crystal clear water, cool crisp air and just was all so surreal I tell ya!
Can't wait for the summer now...what about you?

Westside pink skirt | Target Merona blue tee | Francesca's fedora hat |
Levis Denim Vest (as seen here and here) | Old Navy flats |

Friday, October 4, 2013

'Make-up' your face - Part 2 - Eye makeup

A BIG thanks to everyone for a great response on my first make-up product review post! I wasn't sure when I penned it down how helpful or how my readers would like it reading. I was happy reading all your responses and sharing tips about your fave products. I am sorry I have been late at responding to them, but I sure hope to get to it soon. Thank you all again and so well, looks like I am gonna be continuing with this series.

For eye make-up, I am not that big into trying different eye-shadows, playing with colors or the eyeliner styles. I play it safe with just three simple looks catered to different occasions -
1. Simple kohl-lined eyes with a bit of mascara - For the everyday look - to the office, or day out in the city, brunch, lunch or that weekday date night. 
2. Eye primer, Fancy smokey eyes with lined neatly with a kohl/ kajal, and touch of mascara for the night-out partaay, or a romantic dinner-date in the city.
3. Eye primer, Fancy-shmancy bright eyeshadow, both top and bottom eyelids lined perfectly and oomph loads of mascara for special occassions like Diwali party, Christmas party or a fancy night out. 

Well, so today I was thinking of sharing my best and trusted make-up products. I have used most of these for a solid couple of years. But that doesn't mean I have liked all of them. I will be listing out the good, bad and the 'meh' ones and of course tell you why they ended up in that category.

My daily eye make up includes a Kajal/eyeliner and a mascara. I had been using the MAC technakohl liner for years now until recently when I switched to the 'eyeconic' kajal by Lakme (during my India trip). The MAC one smudged after a few hours into the day and did not stay on for the whole day. Whereas the Lakme one stays on quite crisply for 6-7 hours with no smudge. The kajal tip is quite thin to draw that perfect line to highlight the eyes.
I did buy a liquid eyeliner from MAC, but it is not something I can use when I am in a hurry (especially the morning rush times). I dont have a steady hand and need some peaceful time to draw a straight line on my eyelids. The result no doubt is glam, but again if you have shaky hands then I would ask you to skip buying it.
The NARS eyeliner is like a felt pen. I did not get a clean, dark line out of it and I don't think it is has done wonders to me. Something you can skip trying/buying. 

I have been experimenting lately, with different brands for Mascaras; after I empty one bottle I usually move on to another brand. Lately, most of the brands have come with dense brushes so the result is more all less the same. Right now I am using the NARS Mascara, and there's nothing really to complain about it. I switch to the Maybelline COLOSSAL VOLUME mascara when I am looking for a change.

Not very experimental in this area. I stick to the Lakme's color palette with dark reds and pink for dressing up for parties and festivals. And so is the pink MAC eye shadow (I think I have had it forever......wait that's not good right?!)
Last here is the a dark-grey shimmer eyeshadow from REVLON. I found this amazing color in Target last year (when everyone, including me, was going ga-ga over the shimmer/glimmer trend..remember!). Since then it has been my trusted confidante for going the smokey-eye way.
 I just dab it on the eyelids after the primer (that I reviewed here) and then spread it with a brush to make the eyelids all sparkly and smokey. A thick-coat of mascara and kohl-lined eyes makes the perfect eye makeup for a night-out.

So that's a wrap on the eye makeup category. I m really looking forward to trying different eye-shadows or eye make-up styles. Do share your trusted products and fave tips to dress up the eyes!


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