Wednesday, 4 February 2015

When I started this blog I had no idea what I was doing, hey, I still don't, but I am going to try to make a bigger effort with it and try to post more frequently. Cake is part and parcel of life at home and as you can imagine it is difficult to separate them so it's safe to say you can expect a little bit of everything.

Over Christmas I got the chance to take a break from cakes a little, that is, if you don't count baking for my oldest daughter who's birthday is on the 27th December! During that time I was on the lookout for a simple dessert idea and what I discovered I will share with you now as it was easy and more importantly yummy!

I found it whilst scouring Pinterest and it's appeal lay in the fact that I love salted caramel... and dark chocolate... and oreos, and with only 5 ingredients, it had to be a winner! It had been so long since I have used any equipment other than what I use for cakes I had no idea where I had stored my fluted, loose bottomed tin but I had rembered seeing one in Home Bargains for around £2 so off I went on the afternoon of Christmas Eve to buy one.

Click here to find the recipe; Dark chocolate salted caramel oreo pie

When it comes to things like desserts which don't require any baking I tend to throw caution to the wind. I don't actually remember what size the tin was but I do know I didn't quite use 36 oreos. I did however use a conversion chart for the other ingredients despite having a set of cups, I used this one; Cups to grams converter . The recipe doesn't mention adding salt to the caramel but I did, although just a little towards the end of cooking the caramel, as I didn't want to ruin it, in the end you couldn't taste the salt in the caramel very much at all (the 2nd time I made it I was a little more liberal with the salt but not for the better, so be warned!). For the ganache I actually used a half and half mixture of Callebut dark chocolate and milk chocolate callets, ok a little extravagant and not necessary, but it was Christmas. I would definitely recommend half dark if not all dark, depending on how you like it, I think using only milk chocolate would be too sweet with the caramel. As long as you chop your chocolate into smallish pieces before adding the heated cream and then let it sit for around 5mins it will come together beautifully, just don't mix it too frantically. A little sprinkle of salt once the ganache had set and a dusting of icing sugar, and then for the difficult bit, getting it out of the tin... I had used cake release on the tin before pressing the oreos in, whether this helped it come our or not I don't know. One minute I thought it was stuck firm in the tin and the next it popped out. I did this by setting the tin on top of a small upturned bowl and pushing down on the fluted sides, don't even try to take it off the bottom of the tin though, just use it to serve by setting it on a pretty plate/serving dish.



I hope you do try it out, just writing this blog has made me want to make it again, the 5 ingredients are always in our house, and it is pretty quick to put together, dessert tonight perhaps...

Kathryn xxx


Monday, 26 January 2015

Mid January can only mean one thing for me, Quirky Wedding prep! Yes, I know it isn't until Sunday 1st March 2015, from 12-5pm, at the Belfast Waterfront Hall, but if you know me at all, you will know that I have been deliberating over my new designs, well, since before the last fair in September was even over! I have said it before but Quirky really does give me the opportunity to do something different and I relish the challenge of going beyond what I have done previously. Without giving too much away, my new showpieces are designed around 5 amazing and very different wedding venues in Northern Ireland and will hopefully offer lots of ideas to lots of different people.

At the last Quirky Weddings Alternative Wedding Fair, back in September, I choose "Fairytales" as my theme and even up until the night before I was tweaking, it's probably my worst trait, it is so difficult to just stand back and say it is finished. These five designs all have their own very important journey to make before the even make it to Quirky, so time is of the essence.

I always think cake designing, for me, is a bit of a miracle! My head buzzes with ideas every day, I very rarely write them down, mainly because there's quite often something else that takes precedence, usually a little voice calling me from around knee height, and then when I come to actually getting something down on paper, my head is so awash with ideas, that it takes me an age to sift through them. Over the following days and weeks the ideas become designs, then the designs become refined. Once the display cakes begin to take shape the design may well change to accomodate some other idea that has surfaced from deep in my little cakey library, aka my brain, and eventually they are completed. I quite often think about looking at my very first sketch of an "idea" and comparing it to the final product, but there is a very high chance that it will not resemble it in the slightest, apart from perhaps the number of tiers, shape and size, and I might scare myself into playing it safe but they wouldn't be true Candytuft Cakes then, would they?

Here are some of my "Fairytale" wedding cakes;

My Frozen cake design incorporated a moulded snowflake globe keepsake, individually hand rolled icing icicles, handmade faux cake stand and a handcut design based on the embroidery on the sister's Arendelle dresses.


This sweet little two tier was a little homage to my favourite fairytale growing up, Sleeping Beauty, the Disney version of course. I would dance around the house singing "Once upon a dream" and watch it, repeatedly! I loved the tweets from the sweetly singing birds so here is one immortalised in gold.


Next up, Snow White, she began life with a true woodland theme, tree trunk base tier, snow white ruffles and flowers with little tiny bees, dragonflies and butterflies.


Maleficent was a no brainer, based on the modern day take on the Sleeping Beauty tale, told from the antagonist's perspective, I loved it as much as I love the original Sleeping Beauty even though the story was changed.


Rapunzel came next, with beautiful sugar roses and brambles in gorgeous pinks and purples, with antiqued applique lace and pearls.



I also made a small Cinderella themed cake with pale blue square tiers and black velvet ribbon with white florals and crystals and  pillow shaped cake with handmade sugar shoe.





If you are thinking of visiting the Quirky Weddings Alternative Wedding Fair then stop thinking and just make plans to go. It is relaxed and fun and seriously full of amazing exhibitors and I am delighted to be amongst them!

Kathryn xxx

Friday, 2 January 2015

So here I find myself in 2015, wow, how did that happen? You always expect December and the lead up to Christmas and the New Year to fly in, but throw in poorly children, chilly weather and having to wear a dress every day for an entire month and that's a whole lot more to think about. All that aside though I actually really enjoyed my very first Dressember and learned a few lessons, more than I thought I would.

Throughout the first week both myself and my husband were so dedicated to taking photos everyday, hey I even Instagrammed myself! You have no idea how much I do not like pictures of myself, never mind how much my husband does not like taking pictures of me. I am not an easy or willing subject! By the second week the kiddy sickness kicked in and by the time bedtime came around the last thing I was thinking about was posing for a photo! I still wore a dress everyday and I even looked forward to getting dressed every day. How often do you stand at your wardrobe and think, "I have nothing to wear!". I ended up wearing lots of the things I consider as "nothing to wear"! It was a pleasure to get dressed, despite the necessity of tights or leggings every day (all women know how uncomfortable tights can be!) and now that I have been able to wear jeans again for 2 days I can't wait to put a dress on again.

Why did I decide to wear a dress every day for the whole of the month of December? My husband suggested it, as a friend shared it on their Facebook page. Knowing that it's the kind of challenge I'd relish in, none of this climbing mountains or running marathons nonsense, I immediately said I would be up for it. A few weeks passed and the next thing I knew it was a day or two before the beginning of December! Ok, so that was the intial reason but then I thought about why would any woman sign up? Perhaps, if you are a man reading this, you will think "What's the big deal about wearing a dress everyday?", well, it is no mean feat! Imagine getting dressed for an evening out... every morning... but trying to be practical about it! However, the Dressember hashtag, #itsbiggerthanadress, says it all, it is not about the act of wearing a dress, everyday for the month of December, it's about the freedom we have to choose to in the first place. The reason many woman join the Dressember movement is highlighted in the Dressember ABOUT page, here, but I decided to raise money for a local charity, No More Traffik. Why? This local charity aims to spread awareness of human traffiking right here, afterall, how can it be stopped if people aren't aware that it is happening. Have you ever considered that human traffiking is already happening in our little country and, like everything, has the potential to grow? Why would we want any form of modern day slavery to continue? Involving women, men, or children, whether from here or indeed trafficked in from another country.

Whilst I have been faithfully wearing a dress everyday I have been doing it mindlessly in a sense, not mindlessly in that I haven't thought about my reasons everyday but it did become normal, especially after the first week. Imagine that your wardrobe only included dresses, it makes you really reconsider what you have to wear and you do have to become more creative, unless you are happy to wear the same thing everyday. Not only did I wear dresses I perhaps had only worn a handful of times but, I had to layer up with vests, jumpers, leggings, cardigans etc. just to make the colder days bearable. It made me think carefully about the sheer amount of clothing I have accumulated and do I really need them all? I have thought many times about the idea of a capsule wardrobe and it has certainly been brought to the forefront of my mind again. Whilst this may seem quite a trivial thing to mention, the very fact that we can choose what we want to wear on a daily basis is a priviledge, women the world over do not have that choice for many different reasons. I have three young children, two of whom are girls, the thought that the sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and slavery of children is ongoing is heart breaking.

It's now time for a little bit of fun though. I felt so bad about not having a photo taken everyday that on the last day of Dressember I tried on many of the dresses that lurk in the back of my wardrobe. I then did what I normally do about the house, whilst my husband took photos of me. One of the Dressember hashtags is #youcandoanythinginadress and this inspired many women to even exercise and play sport in dresses. This was the inspiration behind my last day, except I just did the normal, everyday stuff, so here they are...

Everyone runs the bath for their kids in a formal dress, right?


Ok, so this dress is a bit more normal...


I'm ashamed to say I don't think I've ever actually worn this green maxi dress outside the house!


My littlest one hates getting out of the bath, only cuddles break her frown, not mummy in a dress!


This dress was bought for a wedding and after making it's debut went straight back into the wardrobe!


My Lucie's hair has grown so long drying it is a nightmare, this maxi dress is so long it's also a nightmare!


I think I'd need to apply a bit of fake tan before heading anywhere in this dress, perfect for washing the dishes though, don't you think?


I had forgotten this dress was lurking in my wardrobe, when my little Arwen saw me the first thing she said was "Elsa!". There was only one thing to do, dress her in her Elsa dress for a photo together.


Christmas holidays always mean several lunches of cheese, crackers and chutney, why not prepare it wearing a dress!


I had to slip into something a little more comfortable to actually eat my lunch in though...


Time for afternoon tea...

...and you can't have tea without cake!


A little bit of silliness I know, but I hope worth the effort!

I know that money can be tight, especially considering the time of year, but My donate page will be open for donations until the 31st March 2015. I have been really terrible at promoting my fundraising but I hope that my small sacrifice, whilst it has been fun, will encourage you to donate even a small amount to this worthwhile charity and perhaps you may consider taking part in Dressember 2015 yourself whether for No More Traffik ot indeed Dressember itself. I have already decided that I will be taking part again but I have a few ideas to make it even more challenging and some extra little dress-related fundraising opportunities which I will be able to plan in advance this time round. If you are interested in joining in please get in touch.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Kathryn xxx

Monday, 8 December 2014

As I begin my second 7 days of Dressember I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on my first 7 days. 7 days which have seen me in a different dress on each of those 7 days! I have had to really think about what I would wear, considering what I would be doing on any given day and what the weather would bring. Not being able to throw on a pair of jeans when that is the one thing you are used to doing took me way out of my comfort zone. Wearing a dress would hardly be the choice of many at this time of the year but doing so speak volumes about why I, and many others, have chosen to do so. This video highlights what human trafficking could mean and the thought that it could very well be happening on our doorstep made me stop and think. I am sure many people would ask as to why on earth I am wearing a dress, especially in the winter, but hopefully, even though deciding what to wear seems like such a trivial thing, limiting that choice is a small sacrifice but can be used as a challenge and an opportunity to inform others. It is in our everyday choices that we can make the most impact and advocate for many different causes in a small way, but when many join together it becomes bigger than us. I love the hashtag associated with Dressember as it says it so succinctly, #itsbiggerthanadress

Now to the dresses, I am happy to admit that it did get more difficult as the week went on but it amazed me how creative I became. Layering especially became so important as it has become colder and when dresses most certainly have been Summer outfits for me I had to find ways to keep warm.

You may have already seen Dressember Day 1 in my previous post but here it is again. Fleece lined tights, a black polo neck, my black jacket, boots and a cosy scarf made my summer dress underneath just warm enough.


Dressember Day 2, navy polo neck, dress, scarf, navy bamboo tights (yes, bamboo!) and boots. The addition of my purple cord jacket made it cosy enough to do the school, ju jitsu and ballet dancing runs.


Dressember Day 3, good old fleece lined tights again, black polo neck, short-sleeved but warm dress, jacket, boots and scarf.


Dressember Day 4, I really had to think about this one, a linen tunic dress with a longline tshirt underneath, navy leggings, scarf, cosy cardigan, leg warmers!!! and boots.


Dressember Day 5, casual grey dress, black vest underneath, fleeced lined tights, scarf, boots.



Dressember Day 6, another one requiring some thought! Summer short sleeved dress, longline tshirt, heavy woolen brown tights, scarf, cosy cardigan and boots.


Dressember Day 7, the coldest day yet! My morning started off like this until I added a mohair jumper over my dress and took my shoes off, swapping them for boots!



I am now looking forward to what this next week will bring. I fully expect to repeat my dresses sometime soon but perhaps add different accessories, I didn't anticipate how difficult this would actually be but I relish a challenge. It would be great if you could join me again next week as I reflect on Dressember Week 2, in the meantime here is the link to mydonate page. Every little bit will go to aid No More Traffik in their work here. Thank you to the few who have donated so far, if you can spare even just a little bit it would be very much appreciated.

Thank you,

Kathryn xxx