Fall Wishlist: Shoes

Fall always brings with it a certain amount of joy with the promise of the soon-to-come holiday season, wonderful food and the fabulous hot coffee drinks. But, switching up your look could be a little bit of a problem in towns where it gets really cold really quickly. In these situations, shoes are a great way to add some style and panache to your look while being buried under layers of coats and sweaters. Here’s my wishlist for this season.

FallShoes

 

  1. Zara Leather Pointed Moccasin – $ 129
  2. Shopbop Soft Lace Up Booties – $144
  3. Aldo Leather Ankle Boot – $100
  4. Topshop Strap Boot – $80
  5. Topshop Pin Stud Boot – $76
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Recipe: The Perfect, Healthy Banana Bread

I can still remember the first time I had banana bread. It was in 2007 and I was on vacation in Goa, a quaint little beach town in Western India. We were staying at a luxury hotel (Taj Exotica) and the breakfast buffet there is what dreams are made of. The lavish spread included banana bread. I remember the enticing smell and the melt-in-your-mouth texture and I also remember not having it again till last week simply because I was sure making something that amazing would be unimaginably complicated. But, boy, was I wrong?

 Like most people, I starting looking for a banana-based recipe because I had a few overripe ones. That’s when I found a super quick and easy no-butter banana bread recipe and it just so happened that I had all the ingredients that it asked for.  I made it on a rainy afternoon. The day turned even more perfect when my husband, who was down with a bad cold, woke up to the smell of freshly-baked banana bread. 

However, I soon realized that if I wanted to make this on a regular basis, I had to find a healthier version. That’s when I found this other recipe that I’ve made twice in the past four days. It is just as easy to make and comes with a lot less guilt. Again, it uses oil instead of butter and has a few other adjustments and substitutions that make it more healthy and it is just as moist and scrumptious as the regular version.

Whole wheat banana bread

Ingredients:

Whole wheat flour – 1 1/2 cup
Overripe bananas (mashed) – 2 to 4
Sugar or honey – 1/2 cup
Egg whites – 2
Canola or vegetable oil – 1/3 cup
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Toasted walnuts – 1/2 cup (optional)
Makes one, 9×5 loaf 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  2. In a large bowl, whip together the oil and sugar or honey. Once blended well, add the eggs and mix well. 
  3. Add the mashed bananas and vanilla extract. 
  4. Next, add the salt and flour. Mix well and let rest for 10 minutes. 
  5. Dissolve the baking soda in half a cup of hot water and add to the batter. Fold in the toasted walnuts. 
  6. Grease a bread pan with a little bit of oil and pour in the batter. Bake for 25 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
  7. Let the bread cool for 15 mins and serve. 

Banana bread slices

Tips: 

This batter also works well for making muffins. 
I use egg whites to cut down on cholesterol. You can use the yolk and it doesn’t affect the taste at all. 
Use this to make baked french toast. 

Beauty Review: Clinique Wash-Away Gel Cleanser

Like every girl, I am constantly on the look out for a great, reasonably-priced face cleanser. A good cleanser is essential for keeping skin problems at bay. If your skin isn’t clean, you will have breakouts and your makeup will not go on smoothly. Also, if a cleanser makes your skin excessively dry, you’ll need a bunch of other products to rehydrate your skin. Needless to say, we all wish to have that one no-frills, dependable product, that does the job just right.

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Clinique Wash-Away Gel Cleanser is that one product. It is true to its name and is really effective as a makeup remover. It works on eye shadow, eye liner and mascara, all of which can be difficult to remove even with some really high-end makeup removers.

You only need two drops of it at a time. It lathers up beautifully and leaves your face feeling clean and smooth. You do need quite a bit of water to rinse it off, though. But, I’ve noticed that with most Clinique cleasers. I follow it with a dab of moisturizer, since I have combination skin. It also has a slightly medicinal smell that many Clinique products have. It does not bother me, but it might be something to keep in mind before buying it.

Pros:

  1. Cleans the skin effectively.
  2. Allergy free.
  3. Removes stubborn makeup.
  4. Does not dry out the skin.
  5. Two drops go a long way.

Cons: 

  1. Expensive at $20.
  2. Not entirely fragrance free.

Overall: 

4/5. This product is now a permanent fixture in my daily skin regimen.

Change of Colors!

I’ve always felt that one of the easiest ways to switch your look with changing seasons is by trying some new makeup. The bright pops of pink, peach and neon of summer just don’t work through fall and winter. So, I took inspiration right off the runways and collected some of my favorite new trends in makeup for this post.

Since good makeup products can be quite expensive and trends can change drastically from one season to another, I picked items below $25.

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  1. Estee Lauder Eyebrow Pencil for the strong brow that could actually be attributed to the phenomenon that is Cara Delevingne. Fashion industry’s big names, including Prabal Gurung and Chanel, favored the look on the runway.
  2. Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner is one of my favorites for creating the perfect cat-eye. Seen in a futuristic version for Christian Dior, a strong, statement eye for Anna Sui and a dramatic, blue for Jason Wu.
  3. Estee Lauder Powder Shadow will add that pop of color to your look. Emerald and orange frequented the runway with Givenchy and BCBG.
  4. NARS Nail Polish in silver is an easy and low-key way to incorporate the metallic trend into your wardrobe.
  5. MAC Lipstick in Russian Red and Cyber will get you runway-ready with minimum effort. Seen in collections from Zac Posen and Vera Wang.

Food Blog Essentials: Part 2

After having spent hours on numerous food blogs, I have come to realize that I am more likely to follow ones that have perfectly-composed and beautiful photos of the final product. So, I am here to share with you some tips to create great pictures like a pro food blogger on a low budget. After all, your money is better spent on exotic ingredients. 

Tips:

  1. The first is as easy as a spare plank of dark wood (as seen here). It provides great texture to the photo and adds a rustic look. 
  2. Serve food in simple white plates or bowls and place them in brightly-colored trays. Image
  3. Place a jar of sauce, a piece of fruit or garnish by the side of the dish
  4. Place the dish on a colorful placemat or piece of cloth
  5. Bring in a little bit of nature by putting a flower in a small vase in the background. 
  6. Use these clear dishes as serve ware. These are especially useful for colorful salads and vibrant soups as the neutral colors make the food stand out. 

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Do try these tips and give your blog an instant upswing! 

Food Blog Essentials: Part 1

I love food blogs. And if you’re remotely interested in food – cooking or eating – you probably have blogs that make you hungry just looking at them. Thanks to some very creative, talented and hard-working bloggers and home-cooks, most popular ones can give a professional food-related website a run for their money. The gorgeous photographs of delectable food are so good they can inspire anyone to cook and come back for more. And isn’t that one of the main aims of every blogger – to get visitors to come back?

But, if you’re a young blogger, just starting out, having a professional-looking blog might seem unattainable, and also, extremely expensive. After all, you don’t have the resources to have a perfectly color-coordinated kitchen and you can’t buy an array of gorgeous cookware and serve-ware to display everything you whip up in your tiny kitchen.

So, I plowed through the Internet to find some cooking essentials that are under $15 and will give your food photographs and videos an upmarket, chic look.

FoodBlog

  1. Measuring spoons: An item that is used in all kinds of cooking, whether you bake a cake or prepare a simple, stew. A classic, stainless steel set of measuring spoons looks great in pictures and shows modern, minimalistic taste.
  2. Multi-colored bowls: Another essential in the kitchen. These bowls occupy less space in the kitchen and will be great of keeping larger quantities of ingredients and can even be used for serving a wide variety of food. Their vibrant colors will also pop in pictures.
  3. Prep bowls: These are great for small ingredients, spices and seasoning. They also come in handy for keeping all the ingredient ready before you start cooking. The clear glass makes the colors of spices stand out and appear vibrant.
  4. Glass jars: Perfect for having flour, sugar or rice easily accessible. Or you can just store brightly-colored candy in these and place them on your counter or table to make a nice backdrop for your pictures or video.
  5. Mixing bowl: A large, stainless steel mixing bowl is another kitchen essential for all chefs. This one’s great because it has a non-skid base and will prove great for mixing batter or making a dough.
  6. Wooden spoons: I love wooden spoons because of their versatility. They work with all kinds of cookware and are great to look at.

Stay tuned for Part II, where I’ll list some great tips and tricks to serve your food like a pro food blogger.

Give your food blog a cheap, but effective makeover with these inexpensive tools. Happy cooking and happy blogging!

Forward to Fall

Fall has always been my favorite season. The changing colors on the trees, delicious apple pie and the delicious, cinnamon-laced warm coffee drinks, all bring me joy. However, this being my first year in the Midwest, August – which, being my birth month, always made me boundlessly happy in the happy – brought with it a feeling of dread. It reminded me of the fast-approaching winter.

So, I thought this is the perfect time to think of some reason to rejoice and along came fall fashion. Here are some of the pieces I am coveting for the upcoming cooler weather.

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  1. Sweater with Embroidered Butterflies – $59.90
  2. Striped Shirt – $69.90
  3. Collection Embellished Pencil Skirt – $695.00
  4. Green Silk Satin Sandal – $79.90
  5. Moto Wine Acid Leigh Jeans – $76.00

Have fun transitioning your wardrobe without losing out on style!