Friday, 22 February 2013

So Sunday past saw Candytuft Cakes exhibit at the Spring Wedding Fair, at The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn and whilst technically still on maternity leave, these things are too valuable to miss. For the past few seasons we have exhibited at both The Old Inn and at La Mon Hotel and we intend to keep doing so as we build relationships with the venues and other exhibitors. As always it was a lovely day, and, I'm glad to say, a busy day too. With many other wedding fairs taking place in other locations close by you just don't know what the turn-out will be like.

When preparing for wedding fairs I like to design at least one new display cake. With time being limited, I, against all sensibility, got carried away and designed three different styles. I have noticed that more and more couples are having smaller weddings so I focused on two two tier cakes and a small three tier. I also like to provide small samples of cake for people to try in several flavours. Inevitably the night before becomes almost an all nighter as cakes are cut and wrapped and any new designs are completed. This time round, with a 5 week old, it has been an even bigger push to get everything organised.

Well what has been my experience of getting into work again? When I consider my experience of maternity leave with my first two children, this time is a world apart. On both occasions I have had the luxury of 9 months paid maternity leave, broken into 16 weeks full pay and the remainder  statutory maternity pay, this time round however... well you can imagine! Getting back to work is on a needs must basis!  Self-employment does have benefits of course, but throw pregnancy, giving birth and having a newborn completely reliant on you into the picture and it becomes a struggle at best! As for self-employed maternity allowance, almost three months after applying and jumping through several hoops I am yet to be paid a penny! When I consider the stress free, enjoyable, precious time spent with my first two children I do feel sad that this time round is so different but needs must and I cannot abandon my business for a few months so I trek on! On saying that, preparing for the wedding fair has been a welcome distraction, it definitely is a very enjoyable part of what I do!

I relish designing new wedding cakes, that's where my passion lies. I tend to start off with a style or theme and let the design develop. This time I went for classic monochrome with a pretty, vintage edge and beautiful brooch, then soft green with pink, peach and white sugar flowers both made to compliment the pedestal stands they stand on. You can see them on my Candytuft Cakes Facebook page. Not only do I like to create new deigns for each fair but I am endeavouring to be able to provide many different flavours and fairs are the perfect opportunity to trial new flavours. On this occasion, along with my vanilla sponge, chocolate fudge and carrot cake, I made sticky ginger cake with ginger buttercream and white chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream for people to try. I think both new flavours were recieved well.

So with a relatively sleepless night, two children to drop off at grandparents, a car to pack, an exhibit table to set up all whilst looking after a 5 week old, we were set to push it fine, and we did! We were placed in the Gallery, in the Old Inn, I love this room! Each time we have exhibited we have been in the Gallery, only in a slightly different spot, with musicians playing and some familiar, friendly exhibitors,  Marie Cafolla Flowers and Luxe Day Spa, it was perfect. Our baby girl provided a talking point beside the cakes and she was a dream baby all day. I couldn't do it without my husband of course, on occasions I got to see him in action, talking about cake, he did an amazing job and I can't thank him enough!

The next few years are certainly going to be a challenge, with my little boy starting primary school and my little girl starting nursery full time, come September, daily dynamics will change again but with a new workplace and lots of exciting cakes in my future I can't wait to get started.

Kathryn xxx

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

I do, on occasion, have to pinch myself. Here I am, with a husband, three beautiful children, my own business and surrounded by love! Ok, so that's the 'rose tinted spectacle' view, but I can't deny that I am fortunate to have this life. However, I do feel I have had to make compromises, although i do say this hopefully, without sounding dramatic. Presently my social life is pretty much non-existent, with looking after 3 children and a house, and trying to build a profitable business, time is limited. If you count lunch with my mum once a week, a catch-up over a cuppa with friends every few months and Sundays with extended family, then ok, that's as social as it gets. Life is busy: don't get me wrong, I have chosen this. I spend very little time away from my kids as they are my responsibility, not grandparents, other relatives or friends, but mine. I did not chose to have children then fob them off onto anyone who will take them. There will always be times when it is necessary to call on a little help or, occasionally, take a few hours out to do something that with three kids woud be impossible, but it's difficult to get someone willing to take on three. I wholly accept this and just get on with it. Life will evolve as my children grow up, my working hours will become more sociable and hopefully quality of life will exceed my expectations. I see this period in my life as laying the foundations for the future, foundations for the life we, as a family, hope to live.

With the stresses of life, no matter how you live it, we must all have coping mechanisms. I would consider myself as a dreamer, I think this aspect of my personality is what gets me through daily life. I sometimes wonder if I actually spent much of my 'youth' (using the word 'youth' makes me sound OLD!) in the real world for any length of time. Even now, if I do get a minute to myself, I find myself daydreaming. Complex daydreams of the future or simple daydreams such as what colour I would like to paint our bedroom. One thing is for sure daydreaming seems to be my only form of escape these days!

I do remember a time when many things were forms of escape but as life has got busier there just isn't time for those pastimes. Thinking of the different things I no longer have time for makes me sad! Music has always played a big part, having learnt to play piano from a young age and then church organ, it has become a money earner, which, to a certain degree, takes away the enjoyment! Even listening to the radio in the car has been hijacked by the kids! I also love reading but holidays are basically the only occasions I get to read anything other than a recipe or cake decorating book! I even remember a time when I would have written poetry. From time to time I look back through my poems, which I keep in a beautiful handmade paper book. I must have had a lot of time on my hands, that's university life for you! Here is one of my favourites, written way back in 2001 (for my now husband) and with Valentines Day approaching very apt...

A Matter of When

My love is as true
As the sky can be blue,
It's as deep as the core of the earth.
The heavens are vast
As my love will last,
But rare beauty couldn't contest to your worth.

My love is as sure
As the rain from the sky,
You never need worry
Or begin to ask why. 
I'm here for you now,
I'll be waiting for you then.
We were never a matter of if,
Only a matter of when.

(written Friday 10th August 2001)

I guess as life moves on we find different means of escape, we should never underestimate the power of being transported into a different head space if only for a few minutes. For now blogging has become a very welcomed form of escape during days of toddler chat and baby gurgling, and as Candytuft Cakes started as a hobby you just never know where your daydreaming will take you!

Kathryn xxx

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Now that work is well underway on the garage conversion it's time I had a serious think about it's many functions and, most importantly, how I want it to look! (as if I haven't already narrowed down the stye and colours in my daydreams, the only thing that has kept me going at times!) The room will be a blank canvas, I am, however, limited by the size of the room, the placement of the doors and windows, and the number of functions it needs to meet, which is unfortunate but I am thrilled to be finally getting a dedicated work space nonetheless!

When it comes to interior design I tend to pick one element that I have fallen in love with and run with it but in this case my two cake display cabinets have been the focus. They were bargains bought in Ikea and I was very fortunate to get two of them as they are now discontinued. They are actually Edlund linen cabinets and are grey in colour with glass door fronts and a drawer at the bottom with little white ceramic pull handles and a lovely simple print on the interior, complete with adjustable shelves. With grey as my starting point, my mind turned to what type of flooring I could choose, I love white washed wood so searched for laminate with a similar effect and hey presto, Homebase came up trumps! I think my biggest hurdle will be the kitchen units. Whilst they will only occupy the back wall I have decided to go with a grey tone, shaker style door front, to co-ordinate with my cake display cabinets, but until the walls are finished the space between is not definite so the cabinet size and configuration will be decided then. I will also be having an island with more storage and a large work surface; the stuff of my dreams!

The other half of the space will be my consultation area (get me!!!). It will of course feature my display cabinets, seating, coffee table, a co-ordinating floor rug, cakey literature and lots of pretty things! Up until now, when clients came to discuss their cake, they had to sit surrounded by kids toys! I will of course bring in a little accent colour too; I have always had a thing for jewel colours and with the grey and white combination I have decided on plum tones and then perhaps a little touch of pink.

There is one thing however, that I would like to do; I would like to display my wedding dress. As my focus is wedding cakes I thought it would add to the ambiance! Now, whilst my dress was not a meringue, it still has quite a full skirt, but I have seen dresses displayed in 'shadow boxes' and fell in love. My dress currently hangs on the back of my son's wardrobe, what is the point in it just sitting there? Call me sentimental but I just can't get rid of it! All I need to do now is find someone willing and able to make me a shadow box large enough to fit my dress,  like this one!

Since drafting up this post we have progress, below is a photo of the conversion so far, as if we hadn't had enough excitement in January, February is set to be a rollercoaster too!

Kathryn xxx