Wednesday, 30 October 2013

NaNoWriMo!

And now for something completely different...


If you know me in real life you might have heard me mention a little something called NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month is an amazing event that takes place every November when people across the globe come together to do something utterly over-ambitious: write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. 

What's that, you say? What's the point? How can you possibly write anything good in that short a time? Well that's the point! NaNo is an exercise of quantity over quality - going against your perfectionist instincts and just writing. Of course you can't write a good quality book in 30 days (especially if you have a full-time job) but it's great to be able to write freely, without abandon, and just getting practiced at putting words on paper (or screen). 

This year I'm very excited to be taking part again after two years of being too busy - I did take part (and managed to win!) in 2010 during my first year of university. To 'win' NaNoWriMo you simply have to reach the 50,000 word goal - there are thousands of winners each year (and no, you might not receive a physical prize for winning but dude, you wrote 50,000 words in 30 days - respect!) 

I will say that I do not consider myself a writer at all - I don't write much in my free time and NaNo 2010 is the only big writing project I've ever done. However I loved it so much in 2010 that I couldn't not give it another go this year. I've got no intention of publishing or trying to write professionally, but neither have a lot of other NaNo-ers - there's all sorts of people who take part. 

So, have any of you guys heard of NaNo or are thinking of taking part? It's not something that requires a lot of planning - when I took part in 2010 I signed up on the 1st of November with no plan but still managed 50,046 words. So if you have a little free time this coming month and feel like doing something utterly insane, why not give it a try? 

Katy xo


Sunday, 27 October 2013

[stitches] Sunburst Granny Square Placemat

You guys, I am so so sorry for not updating more often; it's been over a month since my last post and I can't apologise enough. My job is eating up all my spare time since I have such an awkward commute and I've been busy at the weekends so I've had barely any time for nails/crafting/baking, taking pictures, or writing posts. However, my weekends are much freer from now on so fingers crossed there'll be more content coming your way! 

Today I have another Platypus Stitches for you, this time crochet rather than knitting. I really wanted to have a go at the gorgeous Sunburst Granny Square pattern by Jenny from Nittybits, so I picked out a colour scheme and knocked up a square. After that, well I had to make it into something more. 


As you can see, I used a green/turquoise colour scheme with two different versions of the sunburst square. The pattern was dead easy to follow and I think it turned out really nicely. 


I attached the squares together just by sewing them along each edge, rather than crocheting them together. The border is made up of one row single crochet (US terms) in white, and then used this scalloped edge tutorial for the turquoise edging. 


Since I was kind of making this project up as I went along, I wasn't sure what it would turn out to be. I knew I didn't have the time to make a whole blanket, but just trying out the pattern and not finishing it would have felt wrong. So I was glad when I realised that the 3x3 square layout made the right size for a table placemat. 


This final photo shows you how it looks on my family's dining room table - it doesn't look super professional I know, but I think it makes quite a cute centrepiece with the plant. I'm thinking of perhaps doing a full set of four or six mats, or maybe some in other colour schemes. What do you reckon?

Katy xo

Sunday, 22 September 2013

[food] Chocolate Chip Cake Balls

It's that time of the week again - when I've finally recovered from a week of 6am starts for work and have gotten around to writing a blog post! I know I don't have a huge number of followers, but for those who do read my posts, I'm so sorry for not paying enough attention to  my little blog. It's only my second week of full-time work and I'm so busy! 

Anyway, I have another Platypus Food post for you, and this one has been waiting to be written up for a while. A couple of months ago I got a cake pop/ball mould which I'd been wanting to try for ages, and the first thing I made was these... simple chocolate chip cake balls. 


The mould is really simple to use, you just place the mixture into the half-mould on the left and then place the one on the right on top to bake. This means the cake rises into the spherical shape. 

The ingredients I used are pretty simple - I just made a small mix of my standard sponge cake recipe, which is from the Be-Ro flour recipe book. 


As you can see, the mix wasn't huge because I was mainly just testing the mould, but I did put in rather more chocolate chips than was strictly necessary... ;)

Here's the mix before baking:


And here are the cake balls after they came out of the oven! I know, I know, why did I put that one bit of mix on the second row instead of having them all round the edge? I don't know, and this picture still bothers me.



By the time I remembered to take pictures of them out of the mould I'd already eaten a few, so that's why there's fewer in this shot...


As you can see, some of them didn't rise as well as others, depending on whereabouts they were in the oven. They were a bit dense too, but that's probably just a result of my skills (or lack thereof) and the whole overloading with chocolate chips. However, for a first try at cake balls I was definitely happy with how these came out and would recommend the mould :)

Katy xo

Saturday, 14 September 2013

[food] Malteser Cake

Hey everyone! I just started my new job this week so it's been a bit hectic in the Platypus household, but the weekend is finally here and I have time to write up a post. This cake is one of my favourite recipes and is a nice alternative to a plain chocolate cake - malteser cake!

If you guys know me at all, you'll know that I love chocolate in all its forms, but Maltesers have to be one of my all-time favourites, so making them into a cake - it's just logical, right?

The recipe comes from the Nigella Lawson book Feast and is just so delicious. Here's the ingredients all ready to go:


The cake uses Horlicks to make it malty, just like the taste of Maltesers. You can see that in the book it's just a two layer sandwich cake, but since I didn't have any tins quite big enough, I made it into three tiers instead. I suppose I could have made a smaller mix... but why do that when you could just have an even more decadent cake?


And here it is! Doesn't it look awesome! I don't want to blow my own trumpet but I was seriously pleased with how this came out. The icing also has Horlicks in it so the cake as a whole definitely tastes like Maltesers - soooooo yummy.



The recipe is really easy to make - a little more complicated than a regular sponge cake since it involves melting the butter in the milk and Horlicks mixture, but it doesn't take long and the results are so worth it! Definitely has my recommendation if you're looking for a twist on a regular chocolate cake. 

Nom nom nom nom nom nom....

Katy xo

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Sunday Smile List #3

I hope you guys had a great week! Mine's been a bit stressful since I'm starting full-time work on Tuesday, but there's still been plenty of things to make me smile. 


Holy crap. My wonderful friend Clement linked this to me and my goodness it is the most addictive thing ever. Give it a try only if you are prepared to give up all of your free time obsessing about cookies. 


This dress and these boots, both from Dorothy Perkins, are part of my shiny new work wardrobe for the autumn. The dress has a cute twist detail on the sleeve and comes in about 15 different patterns/colours, and the boots are one of the comfiest pairs of shoes I've ever worn. Completely in love. 

New of Barry M's new Autumn/Winter releases put me in a good mood - mattes! And in the most lovely autumnal colours. Normally I'm not so excited about the end of summer but this year I'm really enjoying wintry colours like these. Check out the full list of new releases over at Brit Nails.


This version of the 'Seascape Stole' pattern on Ravelry is just beautiful, don't you think? The yarn works so well with the pattern and the light variegation is just enough to keep it interesting without overshadowing the delicate lace. This project is by the Ravelry user melting

Hope you guys have a great week <3

Katy xo

Friday, 6 September 2013

[nails] Green(berry) Stripes & Half Moons

Hey everyone, sorry for being so slow with updating at the moment! There's been a lot going on with preparing to start work at my new job as well as various family bits and pieces. Today I have some more nails for you, using two lovely polishes which are amazing colours on their own but may have been a mistake to put together...

Those of you who live in the UK will know how magical the Barry M Gelly range is, and Greenberry is no exception! I'd only used it in one mani before so I felt the urge to try it out again. I also picked up Sally Hansen Grass Slipper in Poundland a few weeks ago which I'd been hoping to find there - the RRP of the Complete Salon Manicure range is a bit steep for me so it's always a good day when you can grab one for £1! 

Now, as I said, these two are both so so beautiful on their own, but together... 


Bleh. I mean, it's not a complete abomination, but there're just something not quite right about the two colours together, right? 


I used striping tape to create both the striped accent nails and the half moons - I just curved it for the half moons. I had such high hopes for this mani but I only wore if for about a day because the colours freaked me out so much... 


Don't get me wrong though, I still adore these polishes and Grass Slipper is coming up in another mani post soon - but I'm not going to be using them together like this again! 

Katy xo

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

[nails] Passionfruit Daisies

Hey guys! Today I have another nails post for you all, after a bit of a break from them. I haven't been doing my nails as much lately - I had a two week holiday so they didn't get much maintenance then, and I've been so busy since! However I did order some cool new nail stickers yesterday so there should be some more new nail content soon. In the meantime, here's a look that I did back in July before I went on holiday. 

I managed to grab two of the Barry M summer Gelly polishes using my Boots points, and this is one of them: Passionfruit. It's the most deliciously bright red, quite orange-tinted and verging on neon. 


I also picked up two of the Barry M nail art pens, in black and white, so I felt like trying the pen out on this bright background, with a simple daisy design. I used Barry M Lemon Ice Cream for the centres of the daisies and topped the whole thing with a coat of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri. 


I couldn't stop staring at my nails with this look - mainly because of the brightness of Passionfruit, which unfortunately I just could not capture on camera. Trust me, it's so awesome in real life! 


Katy xo