Frozen Inspired Food – Marshmallow Olafs

frozen olaf food

It was a very exciting day for my children yesterday. Violet has never been the same since we took her to see the movie, Frozen just after Christmas. She has lived and breathed that film. Like a lot of children, she knows every word of every song. She spends many an hour ‘researching’ the film on the internet (YouTube!). She has waited and waited, and asked and asked near enough every day, ‘When is Frozen out on DVD?’ and yesterday was THE DAY!

Off she went to school with me promising to get the DVD (Nah, I’m not organised enough to pre-order it) and so off I tripped to the supermarket. I decided we would make a celebration of film night by having a Frozen inspired tea.

Here’s what I came up with – I’m pretty impressed with myself considering I only had an hour. Once Tara got the drift of what I was doing she was solo excited – I’ve never seen her jump up and down so much. Really cute!

I had seen on Pinterest, a few people have had Frozen parties and loved the idea of Olaf noses (Carrots!) so there was one dish.

olaf noses

We had snow topped pizza (Marguerita with some extra Mozzarella) cut into mountain shaped peaks.

My ultimate favourite (and the one that took the most time) has got to be the Marshmallow Olafs – 3 marshmallows stuck together with sugar glue. Matchmakers for arms. Mini chocolate drops for buttons and orange marzipan noses, I drew the mouth and eyes with edible pen. As you can see from the picture below, Tara was more than chuffed with her Olaf! God knows why, but all 3 girls changed into white onesies for the film – bit strange at 4pm in the afternoon but who am I to argue?

Frozen inspired food

Millie made us some paper snowflakes …

disney frozen food
We had snow topped popcorn (Freshly popped kernels with melted white chocolate mixed through it), Snow Mice, Snow topped Marshmallows (dipped in blue icing and edible sparkles), Blue shortbread cookies (which were vile – far too sweet)

frozen white chocolate mice

And best of all…Me & Derm had Chilli for tea (Get it?)

The girls had a ball and were high as a kite from all the sugar when Grandma came to visit as we had parent’s evening.

I think I earned some Mum Brownie points and I did it all without the help of gin!

Body Parts – Wots so Funee

funny children

What do you call this? A belly button? A tummy button? Navel (Eew!)

Apparently in our house. we have a new word for it – Tara has this week become obsessed with showing everyone her BELLY BOOB!!

We’ve had a few alternative names for body parts over the years – Violet at 7 still calls her big toes, her THUMB TOE. I admit I quite like it and am in no rush for her to change its name.

I’m sure most kids also get mixed up between their Shoulders and their Elbows.

Do you have any Body Parts that have unusual names in your house – Clean Names Only Please!!!

I’m joining in this week with Helen at Actually Mummy with Wots So Funee.

Wot So Funee?

The Rules of Trick or Treating …

The obligatory picture of Tara with an axe

The obligatory picture of Tara with an axe

 

…or ‘How Not To Behave WHen Trick or Treating’.

I’ll admit I’m a miserable git when it comes to Halloween. I can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief when its over. We sort of ‘do Halloween’ without ‘doing Halloween’ if that makes sense.

I could harp on about how awful it is celebrating spooks and evil beings (that good old Catholic upbringing coming in again) but there’s not much point. I think each to their own, if you want to celebrate Halloween, go ahead – have a fabulous night! We do carve pumpkins and the girls make their own decorations for the house, which have been brilliant this year. See, I’m not totally miserable!

One thing I cannot abide though, is Trick or Treating. Its not just the accepting sweets from a stranger thing, whilst teaching our kids about stranger danger – although that is a jolly good point. I find it hard to think of something I’d like less than to drag the kids around the streets, knocking on people’s doors.

Before you start thinking that my kids are deprived …they have all been to a party tonight (Tara dressed as Tinkerbell, but what does a 2yo know?) and I’ve given them so many sweets myself that the dentist will be a-knocking tomorrow.

Some people get Trick or Treating so wrong though. I’ve seen it all here tonight. Here’s my guide on How not to Trick or Treat…

  • Silence – I’ve answered the door to more kids standing there looking terrified than to anyone saying ‘Trick or Treat’. Parents, tell your kids to at least have some manners and say hello at the door.
  • Say Thank Younuff said!
  • Dress up properly – A school uniform with a Scream mask does not make a costume.
  • Too Scary – This is a message to the adults. There is absolutely no need to walk around with a face like you’ve just stepped out of Seattle Grace ER.
  • Adults, you don’t need to hold out your hand for sweets – If you are older than 16 its just sad!
  • Don’t say, “We’re not from round ere. We’d get the cr@p beaten out of us round our way”. I kid you not, a woman said it to me tonight. My kids are still stunned.
  • Don’t also say, “Keep away from that cat, Lad” “He can’t stand cats. Hates ‘em!” – Got news for you, love. That cat lives here and is lovely. You don’t and you’re not. (And I don’t know if her son is really called Lad)
  • If you call round after 8PM and wake my kids up, you’ll end up with the dregs of the sweets that we’ve been saving from party bags since last October.

And so its over for another year. I’ve got no more eyeliner left from drawing spiders on the kid’s faces and I’m off to eat my own body weight in Haribo. Happy Halloween!

Funkita – Funky Swimwear – Brilliant PR

funky kid's swimwear

A couple of weeks ago I had the most lovely email ever. You may remember reading a post from during the summer where I talked about my kids using the paddling pool. In the post I used a picture of Violet acting the goat in the pool wearing a red and black costume. The costume is one of Violet’s favourites that we ordered from Simply Swim. As you can imagine we go through tons of swimwear in this house with someone swimming every single day (and more often than not Millie swimming several times a day)

My email from Funkita was basically a thank you for putting up the picture. All the way from Australia!

Even more surprising was the offer of some free gifts as a means of saying thank you. The guys from Funkita expected nothing in return – they just wanted to introduce themselves and send a gift.
I nearly died a week later when a parcel arrived with swimwear for all 5 of us!

A Unicorn Costume for Tara – generous sizes – This is age 3-4
funky children's swimming costume

Mil and Vi are pictured above wearing their Pollock Party Single One Piece and Wings of Paradise One Piece. Both have confirmed that they love their costumes – one thing is certain, they will get a lot of wear!

Last weekend I even got to wear my present at a Spa weekend with some school friends as we continue to celebrate our 40th birthdays. Don’t panic, I’m not going to post a picture of me modelling it!

funky swim wear for men

Perhaps the most talked about present we received though, were these Funky trunks for Dermot. Now let me tell you about Derm’s choice of swimwear … he favours black, plain and understate. Much hilarity when these beauties turned up! Even more when he put them on – Not sure Millie will get over that sight in a hurry. To our surprise though, he says they are perfect for surfing under his wetsuit – expect to see them on Hell’s Mouth beach in Abersoch soon!

Many Thanks to Funkita for the lovely gifts. They did not ask me to write a blog post about the costumes. We are just very grateful and this is our way of saying, Thank you!

Meet the Chimps: The Costellos go to Chester Zoo #MatalanZooDay

family tickets to chester zoo

The day the Chimps of Chester Zoo met the Costello Chimps! We were kindly invited by Matalan to spend the day at Chester Zoo last Sunday. They couldn’t have chosen a nicer September day – the sun was shining & the animals were out in force.

Matalan Girl's clothes

We had a couple of meeting point through the day but other than that, had free reign where to go. The pram was a must – not for Tara, for the packed lunch!

Our favourite animals were the Meerkats with the cutest baby Meerkat ever. Not so sure about the massive porcupine that they live with though!

chester zoo

We went on the train ride which only cost £7 for all 5 of us and is a perfect way of seeing the zoo when your feet are throbbing.

We even saw some turtles doing synchronised swimming – they must have known we were coming!

synchronized swimming animals

Matalan were also very generous and sent us some vouchers to kit out the girls with some clothes for the day. We chose from the online collection (most of which are stocked in store too – I know because I developed a bit of an addiction that week and kept ‘popping’ into Matalan to buy more!)

What they wore: (left to right)

online girl's clothes

Violet: Sequin Collar and Leggings Set £9.00

Tara: Girl’s Tutu from £5.00, Girl’s Pink Top from £5.00, 2pk printed Tights £4.50

Millie: Lace Top £9.00, Skinny Jeans £14.00

(Shoes & Smiles: Model’s Own ;-))

The clothes were lovely quality – I have been into Matalan a few times over the summer and had some lovely t shirts which have washed well and kept their colour. We also bought a beautiful cable cape and a Navy jacket (not pictured) in case the weather was poor – which amazingly it wasn’t! Sizes are very generous so perhaps err on the side of caution if you are ordering for now.

Thanks so much to Matalan for a wonderful day – I can highly recommend Chester Zoo if you have a wide age of children’s ages to cater for.

A 40th Birthday, A Poem and A Lot of Cakes

A rare picture of me & Derm!  Do I look 40?

A rare picture of me & Derm! Do I look 40?

Well, we are back from our holidays! France was fabulous as ever – our 5th year now and we loved it as much as ever. Meeting friends from previous years and making new ones. More on the holiday soon!

I have survived a week of being 40 too – last Monday was a lovely celebration in France. A relaxing day, plenty of champagne and a lovely meal out with friends.

I’m not one to stop at one celebration though so as soon as we headed home on Thursday night, preparations started for a gathering with friends on Saturday. It turned out slightly bigger than the small getogether it was originally supposed to be.

3 sisters drinking 3 sisters beer!

3 sisters drinking 3 sisters beer!

I may have mentioned once or twice about a 40th birthday cake (ok, I haven’t stopped going on about it for months!) My youngest sister amazed me on Saturday by turning up with a real life, proper birthday cake. She said it was one of the most stressful things she has ever done – ordering a cake for someone who makes cakes. I loved it! I did what I always hated customers doing and prodded and poked the decorations like the best of them! Thanks Ray! Fab cake! I actually ended up with 4 cakes – this one, a malteser one, a carrot cake and a costco spectacular!

baker's 40th birthday cake

I’m amazed at the fab presents that I got – plenty of gin! Tons of Pandora jewellery! and much more …
One gift that has stood out though is a poem from one of my friends that I’ve known since we were 4. How did I not know Jo could write poetry like this? I’ll leave you for now with the poem that sums me up perfectly – Normal service will be resumed once I’ve tackled a month’s worth of washing, kids have gone back to school and maybe some of gin and champagne has been consumed …

Hectic as Hel 

Seems I’ve known you forever and you’ve always been
Out there. Involved. Let me set the scene
Youth Mass was fun. Lowe House was the hub.
Followed by debates on Theology in the pub!
 
You set an example of lofty pursuits
Piano, Synchro and playing the flute.
You seemed to stretch time with how you spent it,
You multi-tasked long before it was invented.
 
Now a wife and a mother, nothing has changed.
In fact you carry on like someone deranged!
 
Running your own business with really no fear,
I watched the great bake-off and expected you to appear!
Making, baking, there’s nothing you won’t try.
So hey! You set up your own WI!!
 
Your social networking seems like an art
With links to all sorts, I’m not sure where to start.
But Facebook? And Twitter? Is there really a need?
Ok, I confess Casa Costello’s a good read!
 
So please don’t ever change what you do,
Which is EVERYTHING while others just try a few!

The Big Packing Challenge 2103 – Family Caravan Holidays

Family Caravan Holiday reviews

Well, we are nearly done! Our big trip of 2013 commences very soon (Burglars, don’t bother – once again the house is covered)

There is no cupboard unturned, nothing that hasn’t been washed and ironed, and 3 million lists have been written (and lost) in preparation for the H word -Holiday!

I have absolutely no idea how people go about travelling with little ones on a plane. We have a 26 foot caravan trailing behind us and we still struggle for space. We don’t event have suitcases to contend with as everything gets packed straight into cupboards and wardrobes.

Its our 5th year of the big holiday and even though I hate to say it, I think we may just have cracked the packing lark…

Here’s our family guide to packing with 3 kids in tow:

* You can never have too many outfits! Imagine how many clothes 3 fashion conscious girls can get through and times it by 3 again. Every year I am astounded by how many changes per day the girls need. We try to plan ahead with buying things like shorts and T shirts but know we can always fall back on last minute purchases such as the gingham top and shorts outfit in the girls clothing by K & Co

* We stock up on jars of curry/bolognese and multi packs of crisps – If the kids have the type of food they are familiar with, they are happy and as a result so are we!

* Plan ahead for the journey – save a couple of DVDs that haven’t been watched (one year we bought 120 hours of Tom & Jerry to watch!) but also consider keeping something aside for the journey home.

* We try to make ahead what food we will feel like on our long journey – Our family ginger traybake has always been a popular choice.

* We also keep a bag packed for as soon as we arrive on holiday – this contains swimming costumes, swim nappy, towels and sun cream. After that journey, we know that the children are not going to want to wait until we are fully unpacked before they hit the pool. Time to split parenting in 2 and get the kids out of the way!

* Self catering suits us down to the ground but even we have to admit that the first night is going to have to be a pizza and chips night from the restaurant. Once we stopped beating ourselves up about it, we started to really look forward to our first evening.

I’m not saying we get everything right. Caravan holidays are never going to be for everyone but they suit us. We would never get such long holidays if we were not in our tin box and it has been great to see the girls make friends so easily. A campsite play area is where our girls have learnt so many life skills!

So enjoy your summer, everyone. Get the Factor 30 out, have a swim and most of all relax!

In collaboration with K & C Online

How do you tell your child off?

20130605-204005.jpg

I hate telling my children off. Really really hate it. Not just because it forces me to admit that sometimes they aren’t the little angels they try to convince me they are. Because I’m never quite sure if I’m doing it right.

Is there a right or wrong way to tell your child off? How do you know if you’ve got the tone right? I’m not talking about the times when it’s really serious and instinct just takes over and you really really need to let them know how serious something is. Like the time my 6yo decided to run into a main road after her ball. Still gives me shivers.

I’m talking about the incidents that you want them to know that they have done wrong, you are really peed off and brassed off that they have done it. I have girls that cry quite easily when they are told off. It always makes me wonder if I’ve overdone it when the tears arrive or whether that is just how they are.

I had an incident today when I really needed to show our 7yo how her behaviour must change. What she is doing isn’t terribly naughty but it isn’t doing her any favours. I had to try to tell her in front of her teacher. Oh the pressure! Do I blast her and make the teacher think I’m not to be messed with? Er no. Do I chicken out and say ill speak with her at home? Er no again, I wanted her to know both the teacher and I agree.

I have to admit I did chicken out a bit and threaten her with wait until I tell your Dad. That’s hilarious- he’s no more scary than me.

I thought I was doing fairly well and then the killer moment came. The little hand that slipped into mine and my heart melted.

So I’m none the wiser. Is shouting considered the correct way or are you losing control if you raise your voice?

If they promise never to do the act again, have you achieved what you set out do?

How do other parents do it? How do you know you are being serious enough? Where did you learn to discipline your children? They certainly never covered this in ante-natal classes!

The Costellos visit Chill Factore, Manchester

These are pictures of my children having a brilliant morning. A morning that they are still rabbiting on about 3 days later. Ok, I know the picture of Tara looks like I’ve squashed her into a rubber ring (and to be truthful I had but she looked really funny) but believe me she was having fun.

Last Saturday saw a rare visit to Manchester that didn’t involve a pool and all 5 of us could take part in. The Costellos landed at Chill Factore. We were there to take part in sledging (anyone aged 4 +), Meet Father Christmas in Santa’s Grotto and encounter Peppa Pig.

When we first arrived we were quickly whisked through to the changing area. There’s no messing here so you don’t feel like you are wasting time. It was here I developed a love of ski pants that can be worn over jeans – I’ve never felt so comfy and cosy! Myself and Tara were only going to the snow play area suitable for ages 2-4 so we didn’t need helmets but were still given trousers, boots and jacket (I wore my own). Clever Tip: Put the bottom of the trousers over the heel of a child’s boots if they are too big – will stop them falling off.

There’s plenty of soft padded toys to play on in the snow play so our time passed quickly but the real gem of the morning was reserved for Millie & Vi in the sledging area. They thought it was fantastic – so much more enthusiastic than I gave the place credit for. Pretty safe to say we’ll be going back again and again.

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the changing area (Alas dear trousers may we meet again some day) and get ready for meeting Santa – I’m pretty convinced it was the real one you know. He wasn’t like the fake Santa’s you get round here with tattoos up their arms and elastic holding their beards on. Seriously though, he was fab – He asked all the right questions and his grotto was magical. Every child gets a present which were so appropriate for their ages. Millie (10) got a sequin art pack, Violet (6) got a craft set and baby T got a cute cuddly toy. We did have quite a queue to see the big man but the elves made it better by bringing out story books and reading to the children – genius idea! And there’s a vending machine if you get a bit peckish!

Oh, and a huge Peppa Pig. How could I forget? I’ve never seen so many kids (and adults if we are being honest) get themselves into such a frenzy over a fluffy fancy dress costume – and I HATE people dressed up.

Me trying to pretend I’m not stood next to a HUGE Peppa Pig

Our morning was brilliant – I’d highly recommend a visit especially if you are not sure if skiing is for you and you want to try it out before spending £000′s on a skiing holiday.

To Answer some common questions about Chill Factore

  • Is it cold inside? – a bit but not nearly as cold as I thought it would be. Still advise to take your gloves and a hat.
  • Do you go right up to that pointy bit you can see from the motorway? – you do if you are skiing rather than the sledging ramp/hill/piste?
  • Do you pronounce the ‘e’? – Still no idea – I will admit to always thinking people were a bit poncy for saying Factoreee.
  • Does it feel like real snow? – Yes
  • Would you go again? – Definitely, Violet in particular is insistent that we do.

Disclosure: We were invited to the Chill Factore Santa Experience as a blogging opportunity and didn’t have to pay for our morning’s entertainment. For an idea of what a similar experience would cost see below:

Sledging and Santa (Both Peak and Off-Peak)

  • Child (age 4+) = £20
  • Additional Adult = £15
  • Family of 2 = £35

Prices are the same if you choose to do the Luge or go Tubing instead of Sledging

Snowplay and Santa (Both Peak and Off-Peak)

  • Child (age 2-10) = £10
  • Additional Adult = £5
  • Family of 2 = £12

 

The episode when the Costellos and Glasgow Council fall out

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I had a little rant about the School Bear? Well, I’m off again – Ranting was such therapy that I’m giving it another go (actually I’m just turning into a miserable old trout but bear with!)

I think I mentioned that we recently made a trip further Oop North across the Scottish Border into Glasgow for the Scottish National Synchronised Swimming comp – well, a fabulous weekend was had by all. Millie got loads from being involved with the team and we lost 2 stone each by being at the side of a pool with a 6yo and a 1yo for 2 days.

And so we returned and normal life resumed … or so we thought. About a week after the comp a nasty white envelope dropped onto the mat containing a £60 fine for driving in a bus lane in Glasgow City Centre. The evidence was there in photographic form that yes, indeed our car had driven down the left hand side of the road that was a working bus lane. The time was approx. 4.50PM which was when we arrived. Picture the scene … rush hour traffic in a strange city on a Friday, dancing with rain and no signs that we can think of to tell us it is a bus lane. Pay up now and Glasgow Council will ‘only’ charge us £30. A few mutterings about there definitely being no clear signs but a phone call later, £30 lighter and its ‘almost’ forgotten about.

Fast forward to Thursday just gone and a familiar thump of a white envelope on the mat again. I just knew it couldn’t be good news and I was right. We had only gone and got ANOTHER parking ticket for driving down the same bus lane – this time on the Saturday night when Derm was collecting another swimmer from the train station. 8.50PM on Halloween Saturday to be precise. Again, no recollection of there being any signs and even if there were, wouldn’t you presume that bus lanes were no longer running at that time? In fact, I remember Derm coming back to the hotel telling me how manic the city centre was (Someone dressed as a stick of celery had run out in front of him!)

The mutterings and choice words definitely got a bit stronger on Thursday night and rightly so. It just feels so greedy to be collecting so much money when no-one has done anything deliberately wrong, no-one has been hurt. We were wrapping the shoeboxes at the time to send to Operation Christmas Child – Surely money that would have been better off being sent to needy children?

To make it worse, we googled the bus lane in question …and this is what we found (Sorry its from the Daily Mail)

Britain’s Most Prolific Bus Lane Cameras Rake in £1M in just ELEVEN WEEKS

Glasgow Council, you stink!

We will be appealing – and I have no doubt we will get nowhere.