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

Friday, 23 August 2013

[food] Apple Crumble Bars

How is everyone doing on this fine Friday night? I'm sure most of you are out partying but I took some time out of my busy night-life schedule (ha) to write up my first Platypus Food post for you all. I've mentioned the amazing Chocolate Covered Katie blog before and this recipe is one from her 'Bars and Blondies' section. I made them about two months ago and have been itching to make them again ever since, they're so tasty!

As a Brit and a lover of traditional puddings, apple crumble has to be one of my all-time favourite desserts. My mum makes a mean crumble, as did my grandma before her, so I tend to have pretty high crumble standards. When I found this recipe for putting my beloved dessert into Katie's Hot Apple Crumble Bars, I knew I had to try it. 


Here's all the ingredients needed for the bars - flour, cornflour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, milk, margarine, maple syrup, and apples. 


The mix consists of two parts. The first is the apple filling...


And the second is the delicious crumble crust. 


The apples are sandwiched in between the crust as I've shown above, and then the whole thing goes into the oven. 


Here's what it looked like when it came out! The smell of this baking filled the whole house with appley goodness. The bars came out moist and crumbly, with a good amount of yummy apple chunks in the centre. 


Luckily I managed to get this picture of the finished bars before my housemate and I devoured them all. You can see the lovely soft centre and crumbly crust here - both the texture and the taste were just gorgeous. Basically, this recipe is amazing and you should all try it!

Katy xo

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Sunday Smile List #2

Howdy folks, how has everyone's weekend been? I'm being slowly driven insane waiting for the yarn I ordered on Monday to arrive so I can continue with my blanket, but apart from that my week has been pretty good. I'm back with another Sunday Smile List for your viewing/reading pleasure :)


First up I have to share this track with you all - if you've seen Iron Man 3 you'll recognise this from the end credits but my goodness I just cannot stop listening to it! I want to have my own suit of armour and go fight crime whilst dancing around to this. 


Next up is this awesome dude who also paints his nails. I saw his story on Tumblr and thought it was too adorable not to share:

'So, I paint my nails pretty regularly these days. I also work as a barista/cashier pretty regularly these days. A few weeks back, I had a customer come in, a fairly typical, sheltered, suburban soccer mom, and she ordered a latte from me. She saw my brightly colored nails and said, “Wow, you’re so brave! My son asked me about painting his nails, and if it’s okay for boys to do that. Now I’ll tell him there’s a cool guy who does it too!” It was a nice moment, very cute.

Then, last week, she came in again, and said, “Hey, I’m so glad you’re here! I want you to meet someone!” She then brings her son forward, and says, “Okay sweetie, show him what you did!” And he throws his hands up, showing off his bright, sparkling blue nails. He shows them off, and I show mine off to him. He smiles. We fist bump.

Guys, I’ve only wanted to cry once at work before, and that was when someone ordered a large dry soy cappuccino on ice.

This time, though. This was a good cry.'

It's so great to hear of kids being able express themselves with things like nail polish/art regardless of their gender. You can check out the specific post here or see the rest of Angelo's blog here


These gorgeous mini crochet satchels/pouches are just perfect, no? I love the details in the embroidery and the beads on the drawstrings. They are sold by Bunadruhu on this Slovakian website.  


Finally, chocolatey goodness anyone? If you've never seen the blog Chocolate Covered Katie, you are soooooo missing out! This is her recipe for 'Fudge Babies', which aren't actually fudge at all but are a healthy combination of dates, walnuts, and cocoa. I made some yesterday and will have a post up soon, but they are so yummy!

Hugs,
Katy xo 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

[stitches] Chichester the Pig!

Hey everyone! Today I finally have my first Platypus Stitches post for you guys. I've been wanting to start this section of my blog for ages and now I've finally had the time to take some semi-decent pictures and put together a few posts. I'll mostly be featuring crochet and knitting, but also things like embroidery, cross-stitch, and hopefully dress-making soon!

For the very first Stitches post I thought I'd feature a really simple project that I saw the pattern for a couple of months ago and just had to try out: Chichester the Pig


This adorable pattern is by Helen from Apocalypse Knits and is so quick to knit - it took me about an hour from start to finish on my first Chichester and then 45 minutes for the subsequent ones. 

The image below is the first Chichester I made, and you can see I used a couple of scraps of black yarn to make the eyes. In the slightly darker yarn version above, I used seed beads instead, but I'm not quite sure which I prefer. Any thoughts?



You can see how little these guys are in comparison to the grass - about an inch long and just perfect to stick in your pocket. I love how detailed the pattern is for its size. 


And here's all three of the Chichesters I've made so far! I can tell I'll be making a whole load more in the future since they're so quick and great for using up scraps of yarn that aren't big enough for larger projects. 

If you're on Ravelry and want to check out my profile or project listing for the Chichesters, just click here :) 

Katy xo

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sunday Smile List #1

Hey guys, today I'm trying out something a little different on the blog today! I've been toying with the idea of starting a weekly favourites list for a while now, and I finally have the organisation skills and the time to be able to put one together. So each Sunday I'll be sharing a few things from the past week that made me smile, from the worlds of craft, nails, food, and general stuff. I hope you guys enjoy it. 



First up is possibly my all-time favourite nail polish, China Glaze's Fairy Dust. I've made a post about this one before, but I'm in love with it even more recently since I wore it on holiday. For the whole two weeks in the USA I wore it over naked nails and it was perfect - it didn't show chips too much and it wasn't too bright to clash with any outfits. Plus it meant I had some sparkle all the time, and who wouldn't want that?



This crochet cherry pie is too cute! The scalloped crust and the bobbles in the side pieces just make it so realistic, and the combination of crochet and food is ideal for me ;) 
You can find the free pattern here if you want to check it out. 


These are actually the shoes I wore for my graduation in July, but they were too nice not to share. They are so comfortable and not too formal to wear out on a regular day. Plus they're currently on sale so if any of you UK readers fancy a bargain... 


I found the most delicious-looking recipe on Tumblr this week - anyone fancy both cookies and brownies together? The recipe is from the glorious Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts blog, which you can find here


And finally, this beautiful, beautiful yarn by Drops. I'm using this in a work in progress lace wrap, using the top colourway in this photo which is unfortunately just named 'Purple', even though it's decidedly pink-toned. It's made from 70% baby alpaca and 30% mulberry silk and is sooooooo soft. Like, rub it against your face soft. 

Check back next week for another Smile List :)

Katy xo

Friday, 9 August 2013

Holiday Snaps

Hey everyone, I'm back in England! Those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook probably already know that I've just got back from an amazing holiday to Florida in the USA. I went with my family and this is actually the fourth time we've been, but it was no less magical than before. I thought it would be nice to share some of my pictures with you :)

This a very pic-heavy post so if you want to check it out, it's under the jump. 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

[nails] Turquoise and Studs

Hey folks, today I have another Platypus Nails post for you, with a design I wore a few weeks ago. I got Barry M Greenberry (from their Spring Gelly collection) a while ago but hadn't had the chance to showcase it on the blog yet, so I came up with a simple but effective turquoise-style look.

Turquoise in its natural form has a gorgeous mottled effect which I tried to mimic in this mani by using the cling-film/saran wrap technique. Although the mottling can be quite dark, I chose to go for a gold base using Barry M's Gold Foil - I thought the contrast with Greenberry would be pretty. I also wanted to use the new mixed set of studs I got from Born Pretty recently, so the gold was a good match. 


I used two coats of Barry M Gold Foil as a base, and then waited for it to dry completely before applying one (fairly thick) coat of Greenberry and sponging with cling-film/saran wrap to remove some of the polish and create the mottled effect. Then I used a coat of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri to stick the studs to my nails, and a further generous coat once that had dried to secure them in place. 


These picture was taken after two days of wear and you can see that the small circular stud on my index finger has gone slightly silver where the gold effect has rubbed off. However, this wasn't a massive problem, and the studs definitely stayed put - I think I wore these for almost a week and I didn't lost one! 


I was really happy with how this turned out (despite my terrible cuticles - too much washing up) as suggested by how long I wore it. Sometimes I have issues with 3D things on my nails (textured polish, for example), but these studs didn't annoy me at all, or snag on fabrics. Definitely recommend! Here's the wheel they came in so you can see the variety I got:


Hope you guys enjoyed this look, and don't forget that you can follow me on Bloglovin
If you followed me on BL before I changed my url you might need to refollow :)

Hugs,
Katy xo

Friday, 12 July 2013

[nails] Blue Waves

Hey folks! I'm sorry for the delay in posting, the past couple of weeks have been completely frantic - job interviews, theatre trips, sickly grandparents, and university graduations. Forgive me for getting a bit behind <3 

Today I have a nail design that I did a few weeks ago but really really loved wearing. I'm afraid I can't really think of a more imaginative name than Blue Waves. I don't wear a huge amount of blue but my sister recently bought some new polishes so I seized the chance to use them while I was staying at home for a while. 

I also felt like doing a tape mani since it had been a few months since I got the striping tapes out! Here's how it turned out: 





The polishes used here are (top down on each finger except ring) China Glaze Sky High Top, China Glaze Ride The Waves, and W7 Blue-Tini, and I topped the whole thing with a coat of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri. The first and last blue polishes both belong to my sister but I couldn't resist sneaking them for myself for the day - especially Blue-Tini. W7 just do the best glass fleck polishes! Here's a close-up in the sun so you can see how much it sparkles:


As I said, I really loved wearing this design. It looked quite elegant (for me) and like it had taken more effort than it really had ;)

Hope you are all enjoying some sunshine,
(and don't forget to check out my Facebook page here)
Lots of love,

Katy xo