FASHION

FASHION
FASHION

BEAUTY

BEAUTY
BEAUTY

FOOD

FOOD
FOOD

VELVET JACKET FOR SPRING


Velvet for Fall, Velvet for Winter and yes, Velvet for Spring ! I know, we are still in Winter, but the recent sunny days, has me dreaming of Spring.50 F and sign me up for bare legs in January.

 I was a huge Velvet fan during the 90s. But then velvet took a back seat for quite some time. With so many other 90s trends making comeback, Velvet too, reclaimed its fashion following. Style comes back in a spiral, and not exactly a full circle. While Velvet did make a comeback, the silhouettes had changed a bit, the aesthetics had changed. So when we wear Velvet now, we dont look like as if our 90s selves, made a time travel in future. That's the beauty of the fashion industry and how it keeps re-inventing itself. So I need not fret about the fact that my Mom gave away my old clothes from the 90s, which I had hoarded for years


 From crazy temps, when we got 50F weather, all of a sudden, I pulled out one of my dresses, for the weekend. daring you might say, as Winter is no way over. I wanted a play of neutrals for a Spring inspired outfit. Cue - My Crushed Velvet Jacket in Champagne. I know, I could have picked out a deep berry or a midnight blue, when it came to picking up my Velvet piece, but I went the neutral route. A white Lace body con dress, Crushed Velvet Jacket in Champagne, and my Leopard Booties. I was all set for Brunch with the fam.



 So many items in our closet, have so many stories with them. Every outfit has a story, they say. I was covering Holiday Mart, last year, and popped into a local boutique - Scoobie. There were so many beautiful things, that I tried on, but I could not decide what I wanted to pick up. Blame it on the fact, that I was jet lagged, as I had got back from Iceland , the night before. So I asked the owner, Sarah, that if she had to style me in any item of her choice, what would that be. She picked out this amazing Crushed Velvet Jacket, with the most beautiful ruching details at the back and along the arms. It was love at first sight. I have worn the jacket, with Denim, with dresses and skirts, and its so versatile. It adds that chic edge to any outfit, that I make it a part of. Not to mention that its a conversation starter. I am wearing it in a Small, and it fits true to size. As its a Bomber style, so it hides my food baby and is the perfect layering piece. Did I mention that its a copy of a Free People Jacket, and priced at exactly half the price.

And yes, I wear White all year round. Just like Leopard, White is a Neutral for me. So while I am in the middle of Winter, White Lace and Champagne Velvet had me dreaming for Spring, even if it was for the weekend. Keep Dreaming ladies !



SHOP SOME VELVET JACKETS :


Leopard Booties under $40 : http://journotalk.blogspot.com/2017/12/leopard-booties-under-40.html

Earrings : http://www.sugarbeebling.com/ 
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SEPHORA PLAY SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER '17 - REVIEW

Sephora Play time once more. I am usually late with my Sephora Play box reviews, but now I have a crazy backlog. I didnt realise that it was the August Play box which I had spoken about on the blog. So I thought of writing about all these boxes I had loved,but with a difference. While I usually review the box, one month at a time, this time I will tackle two boxes in one post. Rather than a basic unboxing and review of the boxes, I will address them category wise - MakeUp, Skin Care, Hair and Fragrance.
So lets start with September and October 2017 Play Boxes. As you know, every month, the box and its ingredients are selected around a particular. Think of September, and we finally make the transition from Summer to Fall. The box was no different. The theme for the month of September was - FALL INTO BEAUTY. Aptly titled, the box contained beauty products which helped you make the transition with the changing of seasons.
With October, as the leaves start changing color, the emphasis of the Sephora Play box was on our faces . COMPLEXION COMPANIONS was the theme for the month of October. It was all about setting you up for a flawless look that takes just a few minutes, and is long staying. From prepping and priming, t finding your foundation shade, this box made it simple to create that #nofilter finish.
Lets look at the products in details :

MAKE UP : 
Make Up Forever Ultra HD Foundation : 
This is one of my all time favorite foundations, and it was so nice to get a sample size of it. And luckily it was a perfect shade match. Guess they finally decided to tap into the SKIN IQ scores stored on my Beauty Insider Profile. My shade is Y245. For a detailed review, click HERE.

Urban Decay Optical Illusion Complexion Primer: 
Its a smoothing pore perfecting primer that blurs imperfections and fills in fine lines, for a baby soft foundation-ready canvas, and make up that stays all day long. I had used Foundation and Concealer from Urban Decay, but not their Primers. And as I always say, that I dont use Primers on an everyday basis, but courtesy the Play box , I have enough stash of Primers now. A little goes a long way with thsi primer, and it did a good job. I was initially skeptical of, the pink color, but it blends into the skin, without leaving a pink cast, per se. I let the primer sink in, for a couple of minutes, before I used the foundation.
Laura Mercier Velour Lovers Lip Color in Happy : 
I love it when there is a Lip color sample, as I am such a lipstick junkie. And more so, when its a brighter color. "Happy," is a strawberry red lip color, with a metallic finish. Think of 80s and frosted lipcolors. This is the same treend , done better. Lip colors can now come in such a variety of finishes, from metallics to shimmers, that there's something for everyone. I am wearing the color in the pictures, in this post.

Benefit Gimme Brow Voluminizing Fiber Gel in Medium : 
I love me some brow products too. And I had never tried out Benefit's Gimme Brow. Its water resistant and packs in fibers, to give you that impression of fuller brows. I loved the tiny wand to add volume and color to fill in my brows. I am surely getting the full size of this product.
Stila All day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Black : 
I dont step out of my home without black eyeliner, so its nice to try out new products. I stopped using liquid eye liner, a decade back, but maybe Sephora didnt get the memo. Jokes apart, Stila's eyeliner, is a felt tip liner, which offers a lot of precision. The color is pigmented and is waterproof. If you are a liquid eyeliner person, then you could try out this product.

SKIN CARE : 

Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb: 
Its a rich satiny cream that delivers comforting, intense hydration . It helped to soften and visibly smooth skin. I have inetsnely dry skin, which is also sensitive. I used this cream at night, along with my anti ageing regimen. my skin seemed to drink it up. You can also use it as a face mask, by using the product generously, and tissuing off excess.
Tarte Rainforest of the Sea 4-in 1 Setting Mist : 
I have used this product earlier and I swear by it. A savior when your skin feels dry during the coloder months, and also during long haul flights. I have repurchased this product quite a few times. For a detailed Review, click HERE. 

Make Up Forever Ultra HD Skin Booster : 
Its a skin perfecting Serum that plumps, smooths, and hydrates skin for flawless make up application. I am a huge fan of Hyaluronic Acid and this serum uses HA as an active ingredient.

Dr. Brandt PoreDermabrasion  Pore Perfecting Scrub: 
It is a three in one formula that targets pores with physical and chemical exfoliation, which makes it perfect for combination skin. I have dry and sensitive skin, and I am usually vary of chemical exfoliants. I used this product once, but it had drie dout skin even more. Maybe i need to use a few times more, to assess it better.

HAIR : 

My Hair is curly and frizzy and colored. Earlier, in my 20s, I used to straighten my hair every day, but now I rock my curls. I have tried out a host of curling products. Of them, one of my favorites is the Deva Curl range. I love all of their products that I have tried. So I was very happy to try out a new product from this line.  Deva Curl Melt Into Moisture Matcha Butter Conditioning Mask is a depp conditioning mask that cares for curly or wavy hair and infuses it with mositure for soft, frizz-free hair. It was just perfect, to add in the moisture to my hair, which had dried out after a long summer of chlorinated pools.

FRAGRANCE : 
The two fragrance samples were Clean Reserve Sel Santal and Citron Fig and Tory Burch Bel Azur. I used both during my Iceland trip and they were refreshing . While one of the fragrances were spicy , the other was fresh.











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POTOL DIYE MAACHER JHOL : BENGALI STYLE FISH CURRY WITH POINTED GOURD

I love me some fish any day of the week.Blame it on my Bengali genes. Luckily my husband shares my love for fish. We often joke that we blow off half of our paychecks on eating good, and splurging on it. Fresh water fish from India and Bangladesh is a weakness of ours. We have grown up with the taste of it, and its connected to our food pysche in such a deep way. Fish Curries are an integral part of Bengali cuisine. Most weekday meals in a typical Bengali household, shall have a serving of Machher Jhol. While Kaliyas(richer curry) is famous by its own right, but what is more common on an everyday basis, are the runny curries or Patla Jhol, as we call it.
The most common fish of the Bengalis , and one of my favorites is Katla. Rui(Rohu) is its closest cousin. But ask any Bengali fish lover and if they truly love it, they will tell you why they prefer Katla to Rui. My parents are foodies, and my father always preferred Katla to Rui. The taste of the fish also changes with the size of the fish. My Dad always picked up Katlas of a certain size - 5lb or so. So when I shop for Fish in my local Bangladeshi grocery store, I dont go below that size. The complete opposite case is the choice of fish in my Husband's family. They opt for Rui and in pretty modest sizes. As they say, every family has their own food history.
Such is the iconic status of Maacher Jhol, that recently a Bengali film was made with the same name. Ever since, I came across the first trailers of this film, I knew I wanted to see it. the reason was sheer nostalgia. The film takes you a through a story which touches your heart Not to mention that they showcase Maacher Jhol in such an iconic manner. One of the types of Maacher Jhol, shown in the film, was one with Potol (Pointed Gourd- Parwal).

Its something my Mom always made , when Potol was available. Making fish curries with seasonal vegetable is something very common. Cauliflower, eggplant, pointed gourd are a few common vegetables cooked with fish. My husband found a fresh stash of Potol from the local Indian store and with the Katla. thsi Maacher Jhol was a no brainer. As I was cooking, I had shared a few snippets on my Instagram stories. So many of you wrote back, asking for the recipe, so Sunday's post on the Blog was taken care of.

POTOL DIYE MAACHER JHOL(BENGALI STYLE FISH CURRY WITH POINTED GOURD) : 

Ingredients : 
Katla Steaks: 6
Potato: I medium sized one : Cut into thick wedges
Potol : 4 or 5, Cut in halves lengthwise
Mustard Oil
Cumin Seeds(Whole) : 1/2 tsp
Dried Red Chili: 1 or 2
Bay Leaves : 2
Ginger paste : 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp( for smearing on the fish and veggies + 1 tsp(for curry)
Cumin Powder : 1 tsp
Coriander Powder : 1 tsp
Salt : to taste
Sugar : 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder : 1 tsp


Procedure: 
Smear the fish steaks/pieces, potol and potato pieces, with salt and turmeric powder. Keep aside. Heat Mustard oil in a deep large pan. When the oil is hot, lightly sear the fish pieces. on both sides. 2 minutes per side should be good. Fry the fish pieces in batches so that pan is not crowded.

 After the fish pieces are fried, fry the potol and potatoes in the same oil. Whne you see caramelisation around the edges, remove the veggies.


Now is the time to temper the oil. Add in whole cumin seeds, dried red chillies, dried bay leaves and ginger paste. Cook it till the ginger is not longer raw. Keep stirring.

In a bowl, make a runny mixture of the dry spices with around a cup of water. Mix well, and add it to the pan. Next add the veggies and fish and add another cup of warm water .

Let the curry come to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium and cover and cook for around 10 minutes. This is a runny curry and you should have enough liquid.

If you wanted to cook something else with Potol, you can always try my Potol-er Dorma 
Bon Appetit !


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CAMEL COAT & LEOPARD COLLAR - WINTER DIARIES










We brace up for yet another cold day tomorrow. its always difficult getting back to the grind after a long weekend, worse still if the Met Office predicts it to be bitterly cold. Add on the layers, I say to myself. One of my most trusted Winter outer wear is my Camel Coat. Its the 6th Winter, I am using it and its still in great shape. I have blogged about so many Outfit Ideas on my Blog, but somehow my trusty old friend got left behind, in the glitz and glam of newer purchases.

A Camel Coat is a wardrobe staple. It made a comeback in the last decade or so, after being a rage in the 70s and 80s. Suddenly it was one of the most pinned outfit items, which was on everyone's shopping list. Its a Neutral and a great alternative to the quintessential black winter coat. While I love my jackets, you cant deny the comfort of a woolen coat. It can be pricey when it comes to wool, but its worth every penny you spend on it. I have been wearing mine for so many Winters straight and it still looks and feels great. Wool blends are a another option , if you are on a very strict budget, but still want to go the Camel Coat route.

There are Camel Coats and there's my Camel Coat with a Leopard Collar. If you know me well, or have been reading my Blog long enough, how deep my love for Leopard runs. So when I had come across this Coat, I just kept hoping that I would get it in my size. The Leopard collar adds that touch of edge to a staple. It makes it all the more special. Not to mention that it keeps me extra warm, and saves me the trouble of carrying a scarf. Don't get me wrong, I love scarves. My Camel Coat just touches my kneee so its a great size for someone who is petite and stands at 5'1'. The cut is flattering, in a somewhat peacoat style, which hides my food baby, pretty well.

Brown and Black do not pair well, is a well known cliche. But I wanted to break just that, with this outfit idea. I am carrying forward the black tone sin the Leopard print in my Black Denim and my Black Leather Boots. Camel Coats are available in a variety of price points, in a variety of styles. There's something for everyone, within this broad spectrum. If you had to style a Camel Coat, how would your style it?

                              SHOP MY STYLE : 
                           
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CAJUN MAC AND CHEESE

A freshly brewed cup of coffee and snow showers at the speed of 20mph. Yes, you guessed it right. Its a Snow day which means we are at home. No school and no activities. Thursdays and Fridays are two of my busiest days of the week, for the sheer bulk of errands scheduled. And losing one day means, Friday hits the crazy note higher than expected.

And on days like this I want meal times to be a breeze, and something comforting to the soul. So Cajun Mac'n'Cheese is on the menu. Its easy, and it packs a punch of flavor. No, its not Jambalaya, so please don't get confused. My daughter went through her phase of Mac'n'Cheese for lunch every day, till she grew. tired of it. It was then ,that I came across this adult version of Mac'n'Cheese ,with a kick. Me and my husband are big fans of Creole and Cajun cooking, so Cajun seasoning I always in stock in my pantry. With species, make sure you keep checking their best by dates.  I used prawns and sausages in mine, but you can add your choice of meat. You can add diced chicken breast or roast beef chunks. You could also add in sliced onions, chopped bell pepper and scallions. I took the easier route. You can surely customize it to your preferences, or whats in your freezer and pantry.

The trick is to get the Bechamel right. Initially, when I had first making it, I landed up with uncooked flour or the flour got burnt. Now, I understand, why restaurant kitchens  have a separate post of that of a Saucier ! My daughter loved Mac'N Cheese then and I didnt want to serve her the orange packaged over processed one. So I had to get my Bechamel right, and I did. Once that was mastered, it was easy to use it in so many different things.

So are you going to give Cajun Mac'n'Cheese a try. Its easy and simple and did I mention quick ! And it brings warmth and comfort to the soul, just after the first bite.

CAJUN MAC AND CHEESE : 

Ingredients : 
Pasta : 8 oz ( I used Thin Spaghetti, feel free to use any kind you love)
Butter : 3-4 tbsp
All purpose flour : 2 tbsp
Cajun Seasoning: 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
Salt : to taste
Cheese : 1 cup - Grated ( I used Sharp Cheddar, you could use a blend)
Black Pepper : 1/2 tsp
Whole Milk : 1 cup
Prawn : 1  cup
Sausage : 1/2 cup (You can substitute it with Chicken/Roast Beef Chunks)
Parsley : Chopped/Dried : 1 tsp
Red Pepper Flakes : 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp (according to heat preferences)

Procedure: 
Cut the sausage in chunks and cook them. Keep them aside. In a non stick pan, melt some butter. Add in the prawns, and 1 tsp of Cajun seasoning.Cook till the prawns have turned pink. Keep aside. If you were interested in adding onion and bell pepper, then I would suggest fry them with the prawns

Cook the pasta till its al dente. Reserve 1/4 of the pasta boiling water, to be used in the final sauce later on.

In a large pan, start making your bechamel/roux. Add in butter, and fry the flour till its cooked, but not burnt. Keep stirring. It should turn light golden.

Add in the milk and keep stirring so that there are no lumps. Cook for around 2 to 3 minutes, till the sauce has started to thicken.

Add in your choice of grated cheese. I used sharp cheddar, but you could do a mix of a few kinds of cheese, for a more intense flavor. Mix and stir till all the cheese has melted.

Time for some seasonings. Add in 1 tbsp of Cajun Seasoning, dried parsley(use fresh if you have), black pepper and salt. Cheese has a salt content so taste the cheese sauce before you add in the salt.

Now add in the cooked pasta, cooked prawns and sausages, and fold in. You could add in your reserved pasta water, if you feel that the sauce needs thinning out.

Garnish with some crushed red pepper flakes for an extra kick.



Stay warm people ! Bon Appetit ! 
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LOOKING BACK AT 2017

Its the first Sunday of 2018 and it seemed like the perfect time to look back at the past year. Every year is special in its own way, but 2017 was super special. I havent ever done a Highlights of the Year post on my Blog, but I enjoy reading or watching those from my fellow bloggers. So I thought, why not, lets try penning it all down.

Without much further ado, here are a few Highlights from 2017 :
1. BLAZE came home : 
I was born in a family, where my older sibling was furry and four legged and was a Giant German Spitz, named Doda. My father rehabilitated an abused pup to the best trained Dog I have ever come across. Over the years, we have had some marvelous pets. So from a family of 3, we became a family of 4. BLAZE completed our family. We were on the lookout for a furry ember to join our family and had been looking at pets at all the local shelter's websites.Finally, we were able to adopt the runt of a Labrador Retriever Litter who had just been relocated to a KC shelter, along with a few of his litter mates. He completes the Chatterjee-Dasgupta pack with his rockstar persona.
 2. We went to ICELAND ! 
 A trip which was planned to the minutest detail by my husband Debashish. Hats off  to you. We walked on an active volcano - HEKLA, and came back alive to tell the tale.It was a fabulous 10 plus days, where we drove around this beautiful country soaking it all in. Northern Loights not once, not twice, but 5 times. Filled our hearts and minds with memories, and our bellies with local Icelandic food. From glaciers on a Black beach - Diamond Beach to unwinding in Blue Lagoon Spa, we had it all. Words are not enough and a vlog is overdue. Not mention loads of Game of Thrones and Gerua trivia memories.


3. Rii had her first Dance Recital : 
I was all tears when my four year old, showed off those dance moves, in her sparkly tutu and dancing shoes. It was a big stage, she rocked it , with not one but two different dance numbers, in two different dance styles. Go Girl go !
4. I went back to School,after close to two decades : 
When I had finished my Masters in Kolkata, with the loudest bang, I had no intention that I would ever go back to school. I had topped the University of Calcutta, I had a good job, life was good. But Life takes many turns and changes. In February 2017, I decided that I wanted to go back to school. The inspiration was my Husband, who kept telling me for the last few years, that I should do it. together we looked at options for different courses, under the broader Communications spectrum. Finally found my match. A master of Science in Journalism and Integrated Marketing Communications, from the University of Kansas, is in the works. Its been a great first semester and am looking ahead to the times ahead.
5.Macy's Mother -Daughter Fashion Show : 
For the second year in a row, Me and Rii got to reprise our spot on the runway, with Macy's Mother's Day Fashion Show. What a privilege it has been.

6. We watched a Total Solar Eclipse :
They say watching a total solar eclipse, is once in a lifetime almost. For me and mys husband,we were fortunate enough to see our second total Solar Eclipse.
7. We experienced what Ranch Life is all about : 
Ever since we moved to Kansas, I have always wanted to experience what life in a ranch is.  We had been looking at ranch holiday options for quite a years, but never quite did it, as some exotic location or the other, won over. Finally it was a fabulous 4th of July weekend, in the Flying W Ranch, in Flint Hills, Kansas. From wagon rides at sunset to look at the buffalo grazing over the hill, to s'mores on a camp fire, to star gazing from the jacuzzi, to hiking through wild flowers and flitting Monrach butterflies, farm to table dinning to some quality family time - a glam ranch life indeed.


7. How can we not have a Beach Holiday ! 
If you know us, you know that, we have an annual holiday to the beaches, usually in December or Novemeber. We turned the tables and headed to a beach holiday in Summer. It was not another locale in the Caribbean(which is our usual haunt), but to the beaches in Texas. Our daughter is an absolute water baby, and she had a blast in Corpus Christi and a few other beaches nearby. Mom and Dad came back with crazy bad sun burn, and noted that beach holidays are best in the Caribbean and in Winter.

8. Colorado for the Nth time, with Blaze: 
We have been to Colorado way too many times ,and we love every one of them. Towards the middle of the year, we decided that we wanted to head back there. It was a lazy holiday, in Boulder, Colorado. Our first holiday as a family of 4. So much fun, introducing both our kids to our old haunts and making new memories. Colorado, might also become an annual tradition now, given the fact, how much both kids enjoyed themselves.












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