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Guilty Pleasure Confession: I’ve been watching Outlander. Totally and completely sucked into it along with a million-plus other people. Don’t judge me.

I’m reading the book too and about to dive into the second book in the series.

All this to say the mid-season finale is tonight! Ugh. I’m already feeling withdrawals caused by the lack of hearing Scottish accents and seeing the sweeping landscape shots. To help ease the suffering, I found a few small fixes, here-and-there elements, to hold me over until APRIL 4, 2015 (you’re killin’ me, Starz!).

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Knitted Cowl, by Peony Knits; Schoolboy Blazer in Houndstooth, at JCrew (and on SUPER SALE at time of original posting); image via 

Of course, there is an obvious choice: plaid. It is so HOT right now in the fashion sense. It’s also a natural fall choice. The blazer is an easy one to add a little plaid to your wardrobe; dressing up a pair of jeans or adding a touch of color when paired with a black pencil skirt. I have this jacket in a different color and I must say, it’s well-tailored for being off the rack. There’s something incredibly comforting about it as the weather changes.

Cozy knits are a must as well thanks to crisp mornings and evenings. Throughout her time at the castle, Claire often wears a cowl, knit or fur, and a pair of fingerless gloves. Easy items to add into your daily ensemble – throw them on as you walk to work (or wait for the car to warm up), hang at the playground or running errands over the weekend. That faux fur cowl adds a touch of luxury too – and it’s so soft. I spied it recently and it took a lot of restraint to not buy it on the spot.

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Faux Fur Cowl, Anthropologie; Knitted Fingerless Gloves, by Peony Knits (seriously folks, don’t be surprised if I order both of her items by the end of the weekend); image via

If you haven’t seen or read Outlander, grab a chair after filling your favorite mug with something warm. While there are differences between the book and show, the series does a really good job following the book. There are a few changes for the sake of visual storytelling and offering a few surprises, but overall, it’s quite impressive. I’ll do my best to give a general, yet slightly combined, summary of the two.

It starts post-WWII, in 1945, with Frank and Claire Randall on their second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands. He was a British military intelligence officer and during the trip he’s researching his family’s lineage, often sharing discoveries with Claire about an ancestor who was a captain in the British Army. He also explains the demise of Scottish gaelic and clan culture. She served on the front lines as a British combat nurse, deeply knowledgeable in botany, and thanks to her upbringing with her traveling archeologist uncle, she’s a tough, sharp cookie. Oh, she’s quick-witted to boot.

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Frank and Claire Randall, image via. In the show, as part of the storytelling, there are flashbacks – err flash forwards – of Claire’s modern life and as an audience we learn more about the Highlands from Frank’s perspective and findings. 

During the trip, Claire is mysteriously transported to 1743 after a run-in with some large stones. She’s soon rescued by members of the MacKenzie Clan, which includes Jamie Fraser, after an unfortunate encounter with Captain Jack Randall and fellow Red Coats. Yeah, start connecting the dots here people. Soon enough all of those interests noted above come in handy as she becomes the on-call healer (aka doctor) at Castle Leoch, the MacKenzie Clan digs. She learns quickly how to adapt to her new surroundings and how her modern thinking and independence can sometimes endanger others and herself. Claire also realizes she has to carefully negotiate what she knows about the Highlands’ future while not giving herself away as someone from the future.

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Claire and Jamie at Castle Leoch, image viaBy the way, the US wasn’t even a full-fledged country at this point in history. We were still under British rule in 1743. Here are some 18th-century US timeline markers: Baltimore was founded in 1730 and Maryland was still a colony. Thomas Jefferson was born in 1743. Benjamin Franklin “discovered” electricity in 1752 thanks to a kite and key. The Declaration of Independence was penned in 1776. Yep, I’m a history geek.

About mid-way in the first book and more recently in the series, due to safety and other circumstances, Claire is forced to marry Jamie. While she’s unsure of her own feelings and where her vows with Frank stand, there’s been a steady, well-written attraction between Claire and Jamie. Let’s just sum up the rest of the series with Jamie’s words about their marriage, “You are safe…You have my name and my family, my clan, and, if necessary, the protection of my body as well. The man willna lay hands on ye again while I live.”

So, with that said, let the adventures begin!

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The marriage contract scene, image viaDiana Gabaldon, the author, took the much-needed research to task and the amount of detail she includes about 18th-century life is pretty amazing. While some parts are really hard to read due to violence and brutality, and others might make me blush, – and Nobel Prize in Literature this is not – there seems to be a lot of craft in telling a story about amazing strong, modern woman thrown back in time.

Quick thought on the show: For those who have watched Game of Thrones or True Blood, which have a lot of gratuitous sex, over-the-top violence, and often feel like the creators take full advantage of the cable network freedom, there’s actual purpose in what’s happening in Outlander (or at least for a majority of it). While there are steamy scenes, as a friend pointed out those scenes are set up to explain the closeness between Claire and Frank, and later Claire and Jamie. For the violence, even though at times it’s brutal (but nowhere near the Champion Fight ending in GoT), it gives an unflinching look at the time period and basic survival. I hope they don’t jump the shark and bend toward the ways of other cable shows just for the sake of audience shock.

Are you watching Outlander right now? Did you read – or currently reading – the books? Do you think the show is giving it the justice it deserves as it leaps from the pages to the small screen? Any favorite moments – or characters – so far? Any fellow Team Murtagh fans?

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