Of polka dots and fashion donts!

Ever since I was little I've been crazy about polka dots. As part of my adoration, I had a dotted play tea set, dotted hair clips, hair bands and ribbons and if an article of clothing had dots on it, I was almost guaranteed to crave it.

It lead to a lot of fashion transgressions in my teens, one which is particularly memorable. Namely a pair of white pants, high-waisted with pleats in the front, ruffles on the elastic waistband with .... orange polka dots all over and a matching polka-dotted fabric belt!!!!

Close your eyes and imagine that for a minute. While everyone collectively shudders at the insane number of fashion blunders in that single sentence, let me assure you those pants looked as bad as they sound. I looked like a diseased white elephant but I wore them with great fondness for a very long time. When I bought them the thinking was that the ruffles were like icing on cake, ummm yes, I loved ruffles too.

A lot of times I look at old pictures and have to scold my mom for letting me out and about looking like a short, plump mess. She did try her best though, so for a long time after the dotted disaster above I was convinced that dots were too young for me and they were completely eradicated from my closet.

If the 'young' thing didn't convince me, mom used to flash me a picture either real or a mental one of the hideousness of the white pants to make me lose all interest in my current dotty craving. She's all kinds of crafty, my mom!

And it's mostly worked for the better part of my adulthood, until a couple of months ago when I came upon the little black and cream number featured in the set below. And, all my dormant polka-dotted fantasies roared back to life. I WANT it, I whined rebelliously though it was my own mental blocked self I had to convince!!!

I was good for a couple months, but couldn't stop thinking about it and in keeping with the theme of the regression of my fashion choices .... it's mine now. Yay! I love it, it's so much fun to wear, the scalloped hem looks adorable and the workmanship is excellent, the lining even has an edging of pretty cream-colored lace. I love thoughtful little details like that.

I styled it as shown in the set below (yes, the cardi has ruffles too but I think this is a more successful pairing than my poor chicken-pox pants), and cannot wait until it's warmer when I wont have to cover my arms or legs and will have cute sandals to pair it with. Will winter never leave?!!


But, to also avoid going over board, I've promised myself that I will only possess ONE polka-dotted item in my closet at a time. This is in addition to my existing rules of owning only one plaid item, no white pants, no wide belts, and only one black item of any kind i.e. dress, sweater, jeans, skirt, kurti, shoe etc (this one's broken already, it only exists to stop me from buying black each time) ... of course when I'm shopping, it's hard to remember them at all. Sigh.

Anyway, moving on from my fashion woes- how about you? Dotty about dots ... or not? Do you have fashion rules for yourself or just wear what pleases you?

Quick 'n easy Quesadillas ...

They might not be authentic, but these quick-fix versions of the Mexican Quesadilla work really well as a work night dinner.

And there are so many ways to fix these up - here I used a stir-fry of onions, corn, tomatoes, bell peppers and spinach with taco seasoning and lime juice, but our favorite version has to be the onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and paneer filling.

I add my taco seasoning mix to most of the stir fries but you can also add cumin powder and red chilli powder for a different flavor. And I use store-bought tortillas. Make sure to brush the sides of the tortillas with a little oil so they get nice and crunchy.

Serve with salsa/ guacamole/ sour cream (or dahi butter)/ refried beans and Mexican rice for a complete Mexican meal in the comfort of home.

A question and an award ...

My favorite pastime is monitoring the various ways people arrive at my blog. Most often it will be a straight-forward request for one of the series reviews - the Black Dagger Brotherhood is by far the most popular.

But, a couple days earlier, this search landed on my BDB review 'who is • No'one will make an appearance - it is sounds like she will ' ... mystery guest, while I'm pretty sure my review did not provide any answers, I do hope you succeed in finding your elusive dot.

While I'm on the topic of series reviews, what I generally do is review all (or atleast as many as I can) the books in the series in one review. But, if I'm not on top of things and dont write about the books as I read them, I find it difficult to remember and review all the past few books. Which has been the bottleneck for the Nalini Singh series. Does anyone have any preference here - would you rather read about the books one by one or should I keep going on as before?

In other news, Nishita of Nishita's Rants and Raves, a book blog I've been following avidly, was kind enough to give me the following award.
Thank you so much, Nishita. As part of the rules, I have to answer the following questions....

1) Where is your favorite place to read a book?
Warm in bed or a couch, with a heavy blanket or quilt to curl under.

2) Do you snack while reading?
Not really, though if it's cold or rainy I might crave a hot beverage.

3) Are you a book borrower or a book collector?
I'm very selective about the books I buy so my personal library only contains books I can read and re-read countless times. So, most of the time I'm a borrower.

4) What is the best book you've read recently?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I'm going to pass the award on to
Smita of Books, Life n More
Avdi's Books blog
Sraikh at Asaaan

As you know ladies, I love your blogs!!

Mini-Series Review: Lost in Austen

Rating: 3.5/ 5

I know at least one of my readers is groaning right about now. It seems Jane Austen is mentioned on this blog every couple of months. I cant really help it, Austen's world is like my favorite comfort read/ watch/ food all rolled up into one.

Last month I found myself trolling Netflix for something light to watch when the mini-series 'Lost in Austen' (LiA) popped up in my queue. It was perfect, over 3 hours long I watched it over a period of two weeks, sometimes as little as 10 minutes when I had time to spare. Being familiar with the story did help with not losing continuity but this version does have enough originality to keep the Austen fan involved and satisfied.

Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper), of Hammersmith, London, spends far too much time with her copy of Pride & Prejudice as an escape from her dull job and unromantic boyfriend. Her idea of a perfect night is at home, pouring herself a glass of wine, curling up in her jammies with Darcy's voice and Austen's language running through her head. Her best friend and mom think she's too involved with Darcy, her mom even accusing her of holding all the men she knows to impossible standards.

But, as Amanda explains, she just loves Austen's England so much, the manners, the gentility, the courtship. So, she thinks she's hallucinating when one evening, as she's engaged in her favorite pastime, hearing an intruder in the bathroom, she investigates to find .... Elizabeth Bennett (Gemma Arterton)!

Apparently, Amanda has opened some sort of portal between 21st century England and the Regency period. And the next time Lizzy turns up, it's to push Amanda through the portal, into the attic in Longbourne. The idea being that Lizzy is visiting Amanda's folks in Hammersmith for an extended period while Amanda takes her place in the bosom of the Bennet family.

Amanda's original delight is unbounded. She arrives just as Mrs. Bennet is clamoring away about Netherfield Park being 'let at last' and with drop-jawed awe she exclaims

'We're right at the beginning aren't we??'

Unfortunately, for Miss Price, things arent quite so smooth-sailing after that. The Bennet family, accepts the strangely dressed girl given over to obscure statements 'Jane will marry Bingley, Lizzy will marry Darcy', with, if not enthusiasm, then fondness for Lizzy's sake.

But, as the days go on, Amanda starts forcing events in an effort at keeping things to Austen's timeline, coercing Jane (Morven Christie) into the rain so she can stay over at Netherfield Park, or strong-arming Bingley (Tom Mison) into throwing a ball at his place. But, these people unlike the 2D acquaintances she has lovingly spent countless hours with, have minds of their own and are not so easily maneuvered. And she comes face to face with the most 'disagreeable' form of Darcy (Elliot Cowan) yet, who as Amanda indignantly objects '... is no Colin Firth is he??'

She soon finds that all her well-intentioned meddling is leading to unforeseen consequences and when a disastrous event occurs (Lady Catherine decides to foist a trio of even more objectionable Collins' brothers on the unmarried Bennets for one, and others which I will not spoil) she ceases actively arranging things and decides to just go along for the ride. And funnily enough, things straighten themselves out, if not as Austen intended, then with a guaranteed happy ending for our heroine.

I'm one of those guilty of holding Austen adaptations to high standards. But, in reality, it's not the adaptations that I find outrageous, it's when someone takes liberties with the original itself (*cough* Keira Knightley's P&P). I thought LiA is well-worth the watch for a fantasy adaptation. It is a very romanticized version, not as real as Austen's world, but with that sheen of happy-endings-for-everyone (even poor forgotten Caroline Bingley) that makes up frothy mind-candy. I liked it for that. And all the actors did a great job. The mini-series is also going to be adapted into a movie by 2011.

If I had to find fault with it, I think it's that the film-makers do not push the envelope too much. When Amanda finds herself in the Bennet household, she's dressed in jeans, boots and a leather jacket with her hair untied and in bangs. No one does so much as raise an eyebrow at the unconventional attire or hair style.

Amanda is similarly very ill-prepared for spending time in Regency England for someone who has read about it for so long, she continually finds things surprising or doesn't understand how society behaves.

And it seems so weird for the Bennet family to accept that Lizzy has traveled alone to an unknown location or leaving all her clothes behind. Or to accept a stranger with no luggage of her own. Ahh, quibbles!!

Darcy follows Amanda into 21st century London at one point, and I loved the scene where she comes across his starched self, completely anachronistic in brocade waist-coat and top-hat blinking wide-eyed at all the commotion around him. He greets Amanda with relief, being the devil he knows, 'What is this infernal place, Miss Price?'

The best part of this adaptation, and one which in Amanda's words would have Ms. Austen spinning in her grave is Wickham (Tom Riley). The charmer everyone loves to hate has a great character arc here. In fact, I would have been much happier with this version if they had done away with Austen's original hero and come up with another in his place.

Now, I'm not certain if this desire to subvert the original isn't because I hated Darcy's character here (except in the scene mentioned below) and didnt think he was believable and thought Wickham was gorgeous (ladies, cast your eyes to the left), but, I'm sure that the film-makers were not looking to be too radical, they just wanted soft-focus romance which LiA does provide.

In closing, I have to mention LiA's nod to the original wet shirt scene. Made all the more sweet because LiA's Darcy doesnt know what it is Amanda's after, he agrees to dunk himself in cold water because he wants to please her. Awwwww!!

Of course, as hunky as Mr. Cowan is, no Darcy to my mind has ever compared to the '95 BBC adaptation, so I will leave you with the infamous clip (really, I'm surprised it took so long for Colin Firth to be embedded on this blog) ..... so, enjoy!!

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