Saturday, 25 March 2017

Indian Curries Lunch Review

My local Indian grocery has a permanent sale on a brand of packaged curries called GITS: 3 packets for $6. There are about 15 flavours to choose from. All varieties are vegetarian, and most are vegan and gluten-free. I chose three packets to have for lunch during the week.

The first curry I had was Punjabi Khadi: described as "deep-fried chickpea dumplings immersed in a gravy of yoghurt and chickpea flour". Turmeric, fenugreek and mustard gives it a mild but complex flavour. The spiciness rating is Medium, but I thought it was quite mild. I hadn't tasted this variety of curry before, and I liked it very much. Unlike the other curries I tried, this had no vegetables in it. The dumplings were a little dry, but the sauce made up for it. The number of dumplings was the same as in the photo, which I thought was amusingly accurate.

Palak Paneer is a mild semi-soft cheese in a spinach sauce. I've had this type of curry many times before and enjoyed it again. The spiciness rating was Medium, but again, I found it very mild. The spinach lends a smooth, green flavour and the serving of cheese cubes was not as sparse as I've had in other brands of curry. (Or even in some restaurants I've been to!) This was the least similar to the photo on the box, but it tasted just as good.

The last curry I tried was Aloo Matar, described as "fresh green peas cooked with potatoes and spices in a tomato and onion curry". I don't normally like peas very much, but I liked this curry. The spiciness rating was Mild, but I found this curry to be much spicier than the others. It was also a little oilier: some can be seen floating on top in the photo.

All of the curries I tried were worth purchasing again; I don't think I could pick a favourite! They were easy to heat up in the microwave, and they can also be heated in the pouch on the stove. The size is suitable for a lunch or small meal. If rice, flatbreads, etc are added, it could be a larger meal or serve two.

I'm looking forward to trying more flavours!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Temperature Scarf : First Update

I started my temperature scarf on 1st March. Autumn proper doesn't really start until late March here, and it feels strange knitting in 30-degree heat! I didn't want to wait any longer to start though. Here is the rainbow of colours I chose. They are all from my stash. Perhaps some of the colours don't quite match exactly, but I'm quite proud of myself not having to purchase any yarn at all.

[I apologise for the bad quality photos in this post -- I'm having some trouble with my computer and I wasn't able to edit them properly.]

My temperature scale is this (in celsius):
40+ : purple
37-39 : marone
34-36 : red
30-33 : orange
27-29 : yellow
24-26 : mint green
20-23 : grass green
17-19 : pale blue
13-16 : medium blue
12- : grey

I know Melbourne's temperature range well enough to choose the upper and lower limits, and choose a range of colours that will (hopefully) produce an interesting and varied scarf. Here it is at Day 19:

As you can see, the variable but mainly hot days of late Summer are visualised in warm-toned colours beautifully (if I do say so myself!), and I'm very pleased with it so far. I'm using the tube knitting technique, and planning to pull the ends through to the centre with a crochet hook instead of having to weave them in. I hope it works out!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Lottie Doll Unboxing

Last Christmas I received a Lottie doll, which sparked my interest in dolls again, and led to some research on the best ways to photograph them. I tried it out with a simple background and using my daylight lamp, for the unboxing of my Lottie Autumn Leaves doll. Actually, I've had this doll for a while. I first saw it when I was looking up Lammily doll reviews, and saw a photo of them together. I immediately thought, "Emmy needs a little sister!" At the time, the only source I could find in Australia was an online shop called Gumnut Toys, though I believe they are available in department stores now.

The Autumn Leaves Lottie is one of the earliest produced. The later versions are more diverse and have more defined themes (such as the Fossil Collector Lottie I'll be reviewing in future). I chose Autumn Leaves mainly because of the clothes, but also because of the hair colour. As you can see, the Lottie doll is boxed in a carrier-style cardboard box with a handle. There are windows in the front and sides through which to view the doll. The box can be opened without damaging it, and can be re-used as a carrier for the doll and her accessories. On the back, there's a short but cute story about walking through the forest.

As I was lifting the doll out of the box, I suddenly knew her name would be Alice. Unboxing a doll and naming it is such a magical experience: I understand why people have such large collections! Alice was attached to the backing board with twist ties and plastic around her forehead, and her accessories came in little plastic bags attached to the backing board. Alice's coat was held closed with a stitch which I had to cut. I was worried I would damage her coat in the process as it was a delicate operation. A child certainly could not have unboxed the doll without help.

The Lottie doll stands 18cm (7 inches) tall. According to the manufacturer, the doll's body is modelled after that of a 9-year-old child. Aside from the head, her proportions are realistic. Her head and eyes are slightly large in proportion to her body, but not enough to be very noticeable. The head moves from side to side, the shoulders and hips have ball joints and the knees have click joints. She can sit with her legs straight out in front of her, unlike the Lammily doll. She can stand up with shoes on, but not very well barefoot. The overall shape of the body is very elegant.

Alice's hair is soft and silky and lovely to the touch. It's a little crinkled from the twist tie around her neck, but hopefully that will drop out over time. Alice's face is just darling, and I love looking at it. It reminded me of another doll I'd seen -- the Licca-Chan doll from Japan. I don't have one ... yet! It's on my wishlist.

Alice's clothes are just beautiful, with different textures and fine details like tiny buttons. The coat is lined with a blue polkadot fabric. All of the clothes are very well made. They fasten with velcro and are very easy to put on and take off. The adorable flocked boots have a split in the back so they are also easy to remove. Many of the clothes in the Lottie range have a cohesive style -- with leggings, mixed bright colours, stripes and cute motifs on the tops. The motif on Alice's jumper is attached with velcro, allowing it to be swapped with others in the range. I thought this was a clever and a really cute detail. In the later dolls in the range however, the motifs are printed on. It's a shame that they can't be swapped, but on the other hand I guess I could make my own motifs for Alice.

The only piece of clothing I don't like is the hat. The concept of the hat is very cute, with its animal ears. However, it's made of stiff felt and sits high up on Alice's head. The printed paw motif is set off to one side, and that irks me. At first I thought it was a mistake, but when I saw photos of other dolls online, they were all the same. I wish the motif had been in the centre of the front instead of offset like that. The colour is very similar to, but not quite the same as the coat, which looks rather strange. It's only a small niggle though, and overall I love my Lottie doll to bits. I can't wait to unbox her sister!

As I mentioned in the beginning, I ordered my Lottie from Gumnut Toys, which is a small, Australian family-run company selling educational and wholesome toys. I've placed several orders with them and my experiences have been 100% positive. They are my Lottie provider of choice!

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Monday, 6 March 2017

My February

Once again, February whizzed by, and it was well into March before I even had a chance to look back on the month that was. It became much warmer towards the end of the month -- real Summer weather! I decided this month to focus more on things I want to do, things I won't have a chance to do once I'm working again, and not worry about whether they're 'productive' activities or not. Aside from doing a lot of crafts, I did some drawing and decorating of my Hobonichi art diary. I also watched a lot of Youtube videos, played games and caught up with friends.

I finally got around to setting up my new (well, new-to-me, anyway) phone. I didn't have a smartphone before, so I had to carry my old phone for communications, my ipod for music and my ipad for taking photos and playing Pokemon Go. It's so much more convenient to be able to do all of that on one device! I'm looking forward to getting some cute covers for it.

What I've been making ...
I finished off a couple of smaller craft projects: a scarf and cushion for my dolls and a rabbit plushie trackable. The scarf was actually on my list of projects to rip, but when I looked at it, I saw that all it needed was the fringe on the ends, so I decided to finish it. The doll cushion, as I wrote about in this post, was on my Top 5 crafts list. The rabbit was very easy to make; I used the technique from this site.

I also started my Temperature Scarf on 1st March. There isn't much to see yet, so I'll post a photo in a few weeks. Perhaps I'll do a monthly update.

Where I visited ...
I went to the Melbourne Zine Fair early in the month. It has exploded in popularity over the last few years! There were over 200 tables and it was incredibly crowded all afternoon. I spent way more than I should have, but it's only once a year. If I'm organised enough, I might even set up my own table for next year.

What I've been working on ...
We had a huge harvest of plums this year! I didn't write a separate post about it as I wrote about making plum jam last year. It got to the point where I was despairing a little on what to do with all the plums! I made about 1/3 of them into jam, but ran out of jars. Then I made stewed plums, and even using the large pot I still had quite a lot left over. In the end I made plum puree by cooking them in the slowcooker all day. I was thoroughly sick of de-stoning them by that point, but with this technique they are put in the slowcooker whole. All I had to do was fish out the stones with a slotted spoon. The puree tasted very strong and caramelised. I put it into ziplock bags and froze it. Later I'd like to try making plum sauce or perhaps a marinade.

Selections from Instagram