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

Monday, 1 December 2014

I thought I would do a short post on this, the first day of my Dressember, I promise to keep it short, which, as you may well imagine, is difficult for me, as Mr Candytuft can well attest to! I hope then to do a full post of my daily outfits at the end of each week.

Thinking back to this morning, it may have been a good idea to plan my very first Dressember outfit, especially when I don't wear dresses or skirts a great deal, and the added difficulty of it being cold out, but where would the fun be in that! I was glad, however, to see it was dry, so this is what I decided on.

Most importantly my dress, it is Dressember afterall, is from H&M, bought in springtime, with short sleeves might I add, so underneath my jacket I added a black polo neck for warmth. My scarf was in the Tesco sale last winter, I love scarves and I love a bargain, and I found a little peach flower corsage in my drawer a few weeks ago which has found a home. Now the tights, an essential, are from Asda and are fleece lined, they are cosy but seem prone to bobbling around the ankles so not great for wearing with shoes but I'd imagine will be a lifesaver this month and my slouch boots from New Look were a no brainer. All in all I was warm enough doing the school run and grocery shop, not a bad first day I'd say, here's to the next 30!

Here is the link to mydonate page if you would like to sponsor me and you can read my reasons for doing it in my previous blog post. Thank you.

 Kathryn xxx
Mr Candytuft has this habit of showing me random videos, from social media, at the most inopportune times and about a week or so ago, just as I had settled down to go to sleep, he showed me this video:

I love the quotation at the beginning, from a speech made by the First Lady, and it was preceeded by the following words,  "You may not always have a comfortable life and will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but...

 ...don't ever underestimate the importance you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own."
Michelle Obama

It reminds my cynical self that, despite all the wickedness in the world, there is goodness and there is hope, and hope can be a powerful force. Sometimes hope is the only thing to keep us going,

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."
Desmund Tutu

The message in the video and the ethos of the Dressember movement addresses the exploitation of women and asks that women commit to wearing dresses for the whole of the month of December, in return for sponsorship. This got me thinking about how I could participate as I loved the idea of it. Having three young children, a son and two daughters, who are growing up with loving parents, a roof over the heads, food in their tummies and the freedom to make their own choices in time, it made me consider that the exploitation of women and children does actually happen on our own doorstep. Labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, modern slavery, they all exist so how can we simply sweep it under the carpet without raising awareness and addressing the problem. Whilst the original Dressember movement is aligned with The International Justice Mission I wanted to use their idea and endeavour to raise money for a cause closer to home and I immediately thought of  No More Traffik based here in Northern Ireland, you can check out what they do on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too.

So for the entire month of December I will be wearing a dress or skirt for my very own Dressember and I will be cataloguing my daily outfits at the end of every week on this blog. Ok, so I have bent the rules a little to include skirts but seriously I don't have lots of dresses suitable for this time of year and I will do my best to be clever and creative in my choices. When it is so easy to throw on a pair of jeans I am under no illusions, I do think this will actually be more difficult than my normal everyday dressing which has trials of its own! I do promise however not to wear a prom dress to do the school run even though I may be tempted... I'd love it if you would follow my progress on my Twitter @CandytuftCakes and Instagram @candytuftcakes too and more importantly if you would like to sponsor me I have created a mydonate page linked to No More Traffik, I would really appreciate your support.

So with intrepidation I begin my Dressember journey, it may not be as adventourous as running marathons or climbing mountains but it will make a statement for me and remind me that I am fortunate to be a free woman, respected and supported by my family and friends. How many times do you hear an inspirational speaker, watch a "feel good" movie or even a short video that pops up on social media that makes you feel empowered and inspired you to want to do something to endeavour to make a change? We all have the courage inside of us to make a difference, no matter how small that may seem. I think Michelle Obama said it well (again!);

"As women, we must stand up for ourselves. As women we must stand up for each other. As women, we must stand up for justice for all."

 My three little ones are so excited to finally get to open their Advent calendars in the morning and begin, what will seem like a lifetime journey to Christmas Day for them. Whilst their excitment is based on the hope of what presents they will get and are too young to understand much more, the hope is still evident in their little faces, just thinking of what that hope means to them makes me want to give hope to those who may feel hopeless.

Kathryn xxx

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Hello. My name is Kathryn and I'm a cakestandoholic...

There is something you might not know about me, but the above sentence is a little more than a giveaway. Not only do I love making cakes but I love displaying them just as much! As a result I have more cake stands than my little cake room can handle! If I had more time I would love to make the display of my cakes as big a part of Candytuft Cakes as the cakes themselves but in the meantime I thought I would share my collection. They are not the easiest things to come by so when you see them you really need to snap them up. Many of them are solely for decorative purposes and cannot bear a substantial amount of weight, so tiered cakes tend to be too heavy. Some of my favourites are my two milkglass stands, in pink and black raspberry and my two latest purchases are beautifully rustic tree stumps. I think this photo contains all of the them, although my hanging stand is missing from this photo, yes it was difficult enough fitting them all in the shot, just ask Mr Candytuft! I shocked myself when I started to empty my cupboards!

 I think it's safe to say it's an obsession!

Kathryn xxx

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

... but I guess it started long before then.

If you read my last blog post you may have discovered that I love a bit of almost everything, as a result I have a wardrobe, and more, full of clothes but nothing to wear. I go through phases of wearing the same type of clothing for a while then take a strop, decide nothing suits me and rethink 'my style' although I actually don't think it exists in a singular sense! I think my style incorporates many different looks depending on how lazy I am being. School runs and baking/decorating don't lend themselves to being stylish as you can imagine and I spend most of my days in jeans, casual tops and sensible footwear. When we get the chance to go out of an evening I do love to dress up, but it really doesn't happen very often and although I adore dresses it's difficult not to feel overdressed when you compare it to what you wear on a day-to-day basis. We are bombarded with fashion advice everywhere we look and it is tempting to follow trends but who has the money or the time? Even when researching design ideas for cakes, it is difficult to avoid the myriad of fashion blogs and whilst many don't feel applicable to me, as a working mum, and one usually covered in icing sugar at that, it's nice to dream. This is by no means a fashion blog, or a vintage blog, just me writing about me!

One thing I do love though are clothes with history, which is partly why I have items which I no longer wear, or could wear, but I can't bring myself to throw out. I still fondly remember many items of clothing I wore proudly and my earliest memory has to be a dress and jacket combo that my mum bought for me to take on my first major school holiday when I was about 9yrs old, a week spent in York. The dress was a striped monochrome print with red roses and the jacket was a black bolero with a little red ribbon rose. Other stand out pieces included, a Lichtenstein inspired bomber jacket, a navy polka dot shirt, rust coloured trousers, multiple pairs of combat trousers, navy dungarees and the widest flared jeans ever, all before the age of 20! I hasten to add I haven't kept any of these, no wait... yes the widest flared jeans ever are still in my wardrobe! These days I tend to play it safe, or is that boring?

By far the oldest and loveliest item of clothing I have is a little dress I wore in my baby portrait when I was a year old, yes, that makes the dress 33yrs old! We did take photos of our first daughter in the dress too, although we can't find them! I also still have my wedding dress, like I could ever get rid of that! I do have romantic notions about my daughters perhaps using it in some way, but only time will tell if they share my sentimentality.

I often think about trying to define myself more in terms of my style, if nothing else, to make getting dressed of a morning much easier but I fear getting my head round that may be a long journey. I am an impulsive clothes shopper, I follow my heart, certainly not my head. I have ideas of more feminine dressing but many thoughts perpetuate the little voice in my head that tells me to wise up!

When my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in July this year, we booked a little weekend away to London. I decided I would spend the weekend dressed how I would like to dress all the time and so, over a number of weeks, I planned my outfits. Throughout this time I developed an obsession over vintage clothing. 'This Old Thing' was on tv, I loved the idea of vintage but it was only ever the idea that I loved, suddenly I started browsing Ebay and Asos Marketplace and I looked for vintage inspired pieces in high street shops. Admittedly I felt a bit of a fraud playing 'dress-up' infront of my mirror at home but I figured it was a start, but would I actually commit to buying and even wearing anything truly vintage? I had read that there can be a little bit of snobbery when it comes to deciding what actually constitutes vintage, but hey, if it existed before I was of an age to wear it, then it is vintage to me. You can find the most amazing array of vintage clothing on Ebay and my first three vintage purchases were all dresses, incidently they all came from Ebay seller Tups Vintage. Katie has the most amazing collections of vintage dressses and skirts almost every week and her auctions end on Sunday evenings, go take a look.

This beautiful dress was my first true vintage purchase, I was so excited when it arrived in the post. I loved the pleats and the print. It came with a navy rope style belt but I have been looking for a belt to update a little and whilst I still haven't found a belt I am truly happy, this little waist belt gives it a better shape on me and my navy wedges finish it off. I don't often let anyone take photos of me, the trauma of seeing the end result is too much! On this occassion however, I had to bite the bullet, isn't my husband, the photographer, lucky to have such a co-operative wife, so please look at the clothes, not my face!

My next vintage purchase came little over a week after the first, again from Tups Vintage. A little 80s dress with black bodice and a lovely floral print on the skirt. A big bonus, the skirt has pockets, quite why this excites me so much, I don't know!!! I found this cute little jacket in a high street sale, I love it and it goes with so many things. Black tights and my favourite black shoes finish it off.

Finally this red dress really stood out to me, moreso because of the back detail (which you can't see because we didn't take a pic of it!) and because it is so easy to wear. Oh and did I mention, it also has pockets!!! I can't wait for next summer to actually wear it out and it gives me a bit of time to find some accessories!

I think if I hadn't had such a successful vintage shopping experience the first time round I might have given up as sizing can be tricky, especially when purchasing over the internet, but since then I have discovered the most amazing little shop in Newry, Blackbird Vintage, check out their Facebook page! I'm just sad it's not on my doorstep, I might feel obliged to visit everyday.

Kathryn xxx

Thursday, 16 October 2014

I will be the first to admit that I am random, I love the idea of being organised but the reality is, I fail miserably.  Even my thoughts are random, I quite often begin talking about one thing and fly off at a tangent, forget what I was talking about initially and never make the point I was trying to get across in the first instance. I also have the habit of saying something out of the blue and expecting my husband to know exactly what I am referring to. I sometimes wonder if I wrote down everything I say would I even be able to understand my thought patterns?

Then I wondered, is this 'randomness' linked to my creativity? I have always loved spending time in my own head, walks along the beach talking to myself, sometimes out loud, you know, the kind of thing most wouldn't admit to, or would you? So when it comes to the design process behind my cakes I like to have as many things for inspiration as possible and these things can come from many sources but ultimately I whittle these inspirations down and even as the actual physical process of decorating the cake takes place the design will still evolve, much in the same way as my thoughts and conversation do. You just need to look at the titles of my blog posts to see what inspires me to blog!

I think it's safe to say then, that I am in my perfect job, much of my time is spent in my own little cake design bubble, mostly with my own thoughts and I get to express lots of little aspects of my personality through my work. I'm an eclectic when it comes to music, movies, literature, fashion and food, I sometimes wish I wasn't as I don't think it aids my organisational skills and only serves my randonmness. Occasionally I think even work life would be easier if I had a definitive style but that would be boring, wouldn't it?

Often I wonder why I am in this place at this moment in time and I can't explain it anymore than I am just meant to be. Everything in my life has brought me to this point, my randomness, my creativity, my diffidence, my family, my friendships, my interests, my choices, my actions... but ultimately my God. I don't often speak this personally about my faith to anyone, but spending so much time in my own head I am constantly reminded that what I do in my life is not in my own strength. Wife, mother, businesswoman, baker, artist, cake decorator, teacher, chef, cleaner, taxi driver, personal shopper, organist, friend, I'm exhausted even reading this list! Yet I have been given these gifts and it is my responsibility to embrace them and in turn bring glory to God.

I stumbled upon a blog by Ray Fowler and it makes a quite a thought provoking read especially when you consider this quote from C.S.Lewis “I believe that any Christian who is qualified to write a good popular book on any science may do much more good by that than by any directly apologetic work. … What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects.” (Lewis; God in the Dock, ‘Christian Apologetics’)  You can find it here

No doubt I will continue to be random and create work inspired by whatever pops into my eclectic little head and in the meantime below are some of my creations, beginning with the best three of all!

Kathryn xxx

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

It's been so long since I have blogged and perhaps it makes you wonder what it is that has prompted me to write this post but I felt that it would be good to get it down on paper, so to speak, but also so anyone reading this would understand a little more about me, Mrs Candytuft.

Candytuft Cakes has gone from strength to strength, for that I am happy, but it has come at a price, today we are out of bread and almost out of milk, on our last toilet roll, my floors are in serious need of vacuuming, there is a mountain of laundry, and if I am completely honest this is a regular occurence. Now what am I doing sitting here writing this blog post when I could be doing some housework? Well, I am hoping it will get a lot out of my system that I have been holding onto for so long.

I love my business, or should I say, I love making cakes, the business side of it is just a necessary evil. I am quite often heard saying '...but I just want to make cakes!'. I should clarify, quite often, making the cakes is about all I have time for... cue, Mr Candytuft Cakes. I don't like to give him too much praise, he still needs kept on his toes, but he does so much for Candytuft Cakes and gives so much of his time, replying to emails, doing accounts, ordering stock, collecting stock, making boxes, packing cars, taking photos, updating the website, listening to me sounding out designs and talking cake at wedding fairs, amongst many other things. Even still, there are not enough hours in the day. Most of our time spent together involves the kids, business in some form or another, or sleeping. It would be lovely just to have some time alone without actually having to do anything, just to sit and be!

We are still setting the foundations, with my littlest one still at home and my other two getting involved in more and more activites, dividing our time is getting increasingly more difficult. I feel blessed that I get to spend time with them, watching them grow and missing very little but time management is proving a nightmare.  As Candytuft Cakes grows, the time I can devote to admin seems to be getting less and less... the more interest I receive,  the more orders I accept; the more time I need to complete orders, the less time I have to respond to the increased enquiries. I feel a little trapped and I know it's not forever but sometimes it's hard to accept...

I can't quite believe it's been almost a year since I last blogged, I have been meaning to but just haven't had the time. When I logged on this morning, what you have just read was waiting for me, I have not edited it in any way. It made an interesting read and made me consider, has anything changed?

Well let me reassure you, we have bread, milk and toilet roll, today at least, however, the floor is strewn with bits of toddler food and toys and the pile of laundry waxes and wanes but never disappears! So all in all, not much has changed but perhaps I am a little more positive. Things are quieting down just a little, enough to catch a breath and hopefully Mr Candytuft and I will be getting to grips with a better business routine.

A little earlier today Mr Candytuft posted a photo on Fb and Instagram of our middle child, Lucie. Lucie is so enthusiastic about everything and happy, how lovely would it be to have her view of the world. His post basically said to take a moment today to forget about everything and consider the simplicities of life, the things that only require a thought to provoke a smile. I know that's not something I do often enough.

Kathryn xxx