Toytopia Liverpool Half Term Toy Fair & Giveaway

Win Tickets to the UK's Biggest Totally Interactive Toy Fair - Liverpool Exhibition Centre 24-26 October 2015

Can you believe we are nearly at half term already? Tara’s first half term of school already over (there’ll be more about how we’ve got on soon). Its fair to say we’ve got a busy old half term planned – I’m in Glasgow at the start for Scottish Synchro Nationals (Eek!) plus 5 days of training over in Leeds. We are squeezing in time for a trip to Toytopia in the Liverpool Exhibition Centre one day too though which we are really excited about.

Described as the UK’s only toy fair (Saturday 24th -Monday 26th October) that promises to be truly magical & completely hands on – the girl’s won’t believe their eyes. I’m expecting those Christmas lists to be rather long at the end of the fair. In addition to seeing all the best ‘must have’ toys this year, we will be thrilled by Live Shows, entertainment and Dressing Up (I’ll let you know how I get on with that!) I’m talking having a go on the mini train, meeting the Sylvanian Families – I’m also really looking forward to the sculptures on display by the fantastic people from LEGO.

There’s an Art & Crafts corner where everyone is encouraged to have a go. Take part in the trampoline drop seat challenge or conquer the Giant Inflatable Assault course – You definitely won’t hear yourself saying ‘Don’t touch!’

Here’s the Floor Plan for the event …

Toyota Floor Plan - Who will be there?

So have I sold it to you? Well, you can come too. I’m delighted to be hosting a giveaway for a family ticket to Toytopia – All you need to do is complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Don’t forget to leave a comment at the bottom of this post rather than in the Rafflecopter widget for it to be a valid entry. There’s quite a few ways of gaining extra entries so go for your life! I’ll be at the show on the Monday 26th Oct so if you decide to go that day, shout – I’d love to meet you!

Now for the technical terms & conditions:

    • Open to UK Entries only
    • Giveaway closes at 11.59PM Monday 19th October – This is really soon!
    • I will contact you on Tuesday 20th to ask for your postal details – Your tickets will be posted out asap.
    • Family ticket is for up to 5 people
    • Winner also get a role play pack of their choice from Wannabees

If you are unfortunately not the winner, I do have a 25% discount code off tickets – Simply head to the Ticket Quarter website and enter TOYTOPIA511 in the section for promotional code.
One ticket price for adults and children – Toytopia general admission is £15 pre-show when using a promotional code – TOYTOPIA511
Full price tickets £20. All the entertainment for the day is included in the ticket price!

Best of luck – Hope to see you there!

Toytopia Toy Fair LiverpoolOctober 2015

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Interplay Snow Flake Charm Jewellery Review and Giveaway

Interplay Snow Flake Jewellery Craft Set Giveaway

Where did my baby go? One minute she was a pre-schooler depending on me for everything, the next she is sat making jewellery and doing a pretty good job of it!

Its always a gamble trying toy sets – particularly ones that could result in a lot of hard work like jewellery making – We were really pleased with the Interplay Snow Flake Jewellery Craft Set though. It comes in quite a small box that seemed quite underwhelming – I have to admit the box was hanging around for a few days before I had chance to get Tara organised with it. I suggested that Millie (age 13) might like to open it and help Tara out and luckily she agreed.

They set to work opening the box – First impressions? Wow, there are so many beads and trinkets. The box says there is enough to make 10 pieces of enchanted jewellery but there seems so much more. The quality of the snow flake charms is great – they are really pretty and seem less tacky than other children’s jewellery sets we have had.

Children's Jewellery Making Set

Millie had to help Tara with cutting the elastic for her bracelets and tying a knot in the end but after that, she was all systems go! Its her first real time of doing grown up crafts on her own and she loved it. She’s happily modelling her bracelet and went straight on to make more.

jewellery craft set bracelet

The Interplay Jewellery Craft Set has a RRP of £7.99 which is incredible value – I’ll definitely be stocking up on a few of these for Christmas presents. Don’t be fooled by the small box – this is a set that can provide many happy hours of play. (For ages 4-7 years)

Jewellery making set

I’m very happy to be able to offer a Snow Flake Jewellery Craft Set to the one lucky reader. To enter the giveaway, please follow the Rafflecopter instructions – Please leave your comment at the end of this post rather than on the Rafflecopter widget to be a valid entry. Open to UK entries only – The giveaway will end at 11.59PM on Tuesday 20th October. After this time, a winner will be selected at random then informed as soon as possible – The winner will be asked to give contact details for Interplay to be able to send their prize. Best of luck to everyone!

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Disclosure: We were sent an Interplay Snow Flake Jewellery Set for the purpose of this review – All opinions are Tara’s & Mine (Millie said the set was exquisite – She may have been having a teenage moment!)

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IngenuiTEA Teapot Giveaway

IngenuiTEA Teapot Giveaway

This one is for all the Tea drinkers & gadget lovers – An individual teapot that clips onto your cup and dispenses your brewed tea, exactly as you like it! I’m not ashamed to tell you, I’m a woman that likes her tea super strong – stand your spoon up in it. Most people can’t cope with tea that strong (or wait that long for it to brew either) so an individual teapot works just nicely.

No special cup needed (my trusty Denby mug holds the teapot just fine). You do need a decent sized cup though as the teapot holds quite a bit of liquid – you may have spillage if you prefer drinking from tiny delicate cups and forget when you are releasing the liquid. Makes a great gift for a tea lover.

This IngenuiTEA teapot comes from Adagio Teas that not only do tea drinking gadgets but also a splendid range of artisan teas too. We’ve been trying out the vanilla tea & peach flavoured loose-leaf tea which make a summery change from traditional teas. If you are new to flavoured teas, Adagio also have tea sampler sets so you can mix & match until you find your favourite. For the true tea lover, there are also tea clubs where you are sent a monthly selection of artisan teas.

I have one of these IngenuiTEA teapots (RRP £16) to giveaway to one lucky reader plus some samples of loose-leafed teas. To enter, please follow the Rafflecopter instructions on the widget – As usual, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post rather than on the widget.

The giveaway remains open until 11.59PM on 19th August (My birthday – yay!) Sorry UK entries only. Make sure you head over to Adagio Teas to admire their impressive range of loose leaf teas – Which ones do you fancy the most?

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Google Chromecast Giveaway

Google Chromecast Giveaway

My girls definitely take after me with their love of TV. They certainly have the control of the remote during day time hours. Over recent years, Mr C & me have got used to turning the tv on at midnight to find the remnants of whatever kid’s tv channel was left on. We do like to finish the day by an hour in front of the box though!

We live in a cup-de-sac so cable channels are out for us and quite often found ourselves searching for rubbish across what channels we have left. We listened enviously to people talking about what series they have been watching on Netflix and the like, knowing our tv would never be able to pick them up.

A couple of weeks ago, we received a Google Chromecast from JNB Aerials – In layman’s terms, this is a device that allows you to watch program, watch YouTube and view your photos (using apps) on your TV. I always reserve judgement on how good these things are until I have managed to set them up myself and get them working.

So how did I get on? Easy peasy! Our Wifi is never particularly strong but it manages perfectly well – We are enjoying watching YouTube vids and NetFlix programmes and have had minimal buffering so far.

Setting up a Google Chromecast

The set up was really quick – You just have to download the Chromecast app onto your phone/ipod or iPad and it will search for the Chromecast that you will have plugged into your TV through the HDMI port. The rest is exactly as the instructions tell you. So we are off, our favourite is Iplayer with Netflix coming a close second. Millie is loving the age 12 appropriate films on Netflix – I’m hoping we might finally get to see Breaking Bad (I KNOW, where have we been?!)

More information on the Google Chromecast (RRP £30 approximately) can be found here

Google Chromecast App

I have one brand new Google Chromecast available to giveaway. To enter, please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below. Please note, for your entry to be valid, you need to leave a comment at the bottom of this post, not on the Rafflecopter widget. The competition is open to UK readers only and closes at 11.59PM on Sunday 5th July.

I will contact the winner as soon as possible after the random draw has taken place and ask for your contact details that your prize can be sent to. Best of luck to everyone!

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Family Fever

Tefal Ingenio Induction Set Giveaway worth £250

Tefal Ingenio Induction Set Giveaway

You may remember back in autumn 2014 I talked about how I was working with Tefal and was putting to good use their Ingenio Pans. Well some month later, I thought it was time to do an update. Its fair to say, they get plenty of use in our kitchen – there has been over 50 foodie posts alone since they arrived, never mind daily wear and tear in the family of 5 kitchen.

I will admit that when Mr C and myself were buying our first house 16 years ago, I didn’t know that much about pans. My mum gave me some advice – good lids, not too heavy, which we took on board. We were very lucky with our purchase considering how little time we devoted to buying our pans.

Fast forward 15 years (and oh my! it has gone sooo fast) and we are a little more clued up. I can’t tell you how many times I muttered about not being able to finish cooking things by putting the pans into the oven – something I never considered in 1999. We also found out pretty quickly that pans are so much better when they can stack neatly – not quite sure why we didn’t think of this when we bought our first house with the smallest kitchen ever! Tefal’s Ingenio Pan collection do both of these – They have 2 really clever detachable handles which make for easy stacking and placing in the oven. You have to be brave the first time you pick up a roasting hot pan with a detachable handle – but you soon become accustomed. The pans pictured are ours – they are showing no signs of wear and tear (and we are not gentle).

Tefal Pasta Pan

I have also been testing out Tefal’s Pasta Drainer Insert – I cannot believe how many times since having children that we cook pasta. I am guilty of taking shortcuts though and leaving pasta soaking too long, then not draining or rinsing properly. Tefal’s Pasta drainer takes the chances of soggy, stuck together pasta away. We also love the Ingenio Draining lid that we have been sent – Just feels so much safer when draining out boiling water (especially as there always seem to be a child that arrives in the kitchen at that particular moment). The lid connects to the middle sized (20cm) pan which in most families, is the one you will use most often.

Tefal Ingenio Set

I’m very excited to be able to offer a complete set of Ingenio Induction Pans worth £250 to giveaway to one lucky reader. This is a 13 piece set containing the following:

  • 16cm Saucepan
  • 20cm Saucepan
  • 22cm Frying Pan (this size comes in so handy!)
  • 28cm Frying Pan
  • 26cm Sautepan
  • 16, 20 & 26cm Glass Lids
  • 16 & 20cm Plastic Lids – The pans are great for transferring to the fridge once cooled with the plastic lids. The detachable handle means they take up less room.
  • 2 detachable patented handles

These pans are suitable for using on induction hobs, in the oven, transferring to the dining table and storing cool food in the fridge. They also come with a manufacturer’s guarantee for 10 years (including handles) and Lifetime for the non-stick coating.

To enter the competition, please follow the Rafflecopter widget instructions – Sorry UK entry only. The giveaway will close at 11.59PM on Sunday June 21st 2015. Please remember to actually leave your comment at the bottom of this post, rather than on the Rafflecopter widget. I will contact the winner within 5 days to request your postal details to allow the promoter to send your prize out. Best of luck to everyone – this is a fantastic prize!

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Disclosure: We were sent our Tefal products for the purpose of review – We used Ingenio products suitable for gas hobs as we do not have induction hobs. All opinions and findings are our own.

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Serenata Hampers Review & £40 voucher giveaway

  Serenata Flowers giveaway

I’ve heard a lot about Serenata Flowers – I didn’t realise that they also sold hampers though. When I was asked if I would be prepared to review a hamper from Serenata Hampers, I was really intrigued. I’ve talked before about my love of hampers and food gifts in general. We used to prepare a Christmas hamper for our Grandma each year – I hope that one day my grandkids will do the same for me. I just love the feeling of opening a box, not knowing what will be inside but knowing that it will be full of treats.

I chose to receive the Tantalising Treats hamper which retails at £39.99. I thought this was a reasonable price for a special occasion gift and that the contents were worthy of the price. The hamper contains the following:

  • Monty Bojangles Natural Rhubarb & Custard
  • Salted Caramel Fudge 113g
  • Red Box of Luxury Belgian Chocolates
  • Chardonnay Terres 2014
  • KC Chocolatier, Caramel & Praline Milk Chocolate Bar 75g
  • Luxury Yoghurt Covered Peanut/Raisins
  • KC Chocolatier, Crunchy Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Bar 75g

It comes in a Serenata Hampers box rather than a wicker basket although there are hampers that you can order that are more traditional with the wicker look. The yogurt covered peanuts and raisins were absolutely delicious – the perfect balance of peanuts to raisins and not too sweet. The Chardonnay went down very well, especially considering we are a red household too! I caught Mr C digging into the Caramel Praline Chocolate Bar earlier in the week, who declared it ‘Very nice’ (He’ll never get a job as a food reviewer!)

Delivery was exactly when planned for – Serenata offer next day delivery if requested.

I am pleased to be working with Serenata Flowers and Hampers to be able to giveaway a voucher to the value of £40 to one lucky winner. You have the choice what to order from the Serenata Flowers website which also hosts Serenata Hampers. To enter, you need to follow the Rafflecopter widget instructions below. Please note, for your entry to be valid, you need to comment at the bottom of this post rather than just on the Rafflecopter widget.

Some technical terms and conditions:

  • Closing date 11.59PM on Sunday 7th June 2015 – Sorry UK entries only
  • The lucky winner will be asked to give their details in order for their prize to be sent to them – This information is only to be shared with Serenata Flowers and will not be used for future marketing purposes
  • <The voucher can be used towards either flowers or a hamper from Serenata

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Logitech Ultrathin ipad Keyboard Review & BigBang iPad Cover Giveaway

logitech ultrathin ipad keyboard review

I like to think we are quite on top of technology in this house – Even Tara can teach us a thing or 2 about using our phones. The one item we didn’t own was an iPad keyboard though. I tend to either use my phone or the big MAC, as typing on the iPads was just too much of a faff. When I was asked if I would like to review a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard, I wasn’t sure how well it would go down. We already had Violet’s iPad mini in its own case and I was loathe to take it out. But we gave it a go anyway and right from the word go, LOVED it! The novelty hasn’t worn off even a few weeks later – We haven’t resorted back to using her old iPad cover as paired up with the keyboard, we feel her iPad is well protected.

This keyboard has transformed evenings – for doing quick jobs, like online googling and online shopping, we can now happily sit in front of the TV instead of feeling like I’m constantly at work at my desk. We are now travelling to Leeds 3 times per week with synchro and up and down to London for England Talent training – Millie is finding the keyboard invaluable for keeping up with her studies (and Minecraft of course!) I’m really looking forward to getting on the train to London with it in a couple of weeks, instead of having to lug about the laptop. A winner all round!

logitech ultrathin review

Now to the technical stuff … The keyboard itself attaches magnetically to the iPad which is easy to do. You can also adjust the angle that you are working at to eliminate sun glare. The keyboard is obviously than a traditional PC keyboard but the keys are sufficiently big enough to enable you to type freely. A few weeks in, our keyboard is yellowing slightly at the top – but this is more likely to be due to my dirty monkeys using it with sticky fingers than anything else. Logitech promise a 3 month battery, we have not been using it that long yet but will feed back as we go along. We are promised that it is ‘Thin & Light’ which did make me concerned that it might be too flimsy but we were pleasantly surprised and continue to be so.

I’m happy to be hosting a giveaway for another of Logitech’s products, the Big Bang iPad Cover – This can be for either iPad Air or iPad Mini (The winner will be asked to specify which product they would like). Retailing at £49-£59 this product will protect against even the toughest of children’s wear and tear.

Made from shock absorbent material and liquid repellent, it would survive even in my house! At only 16mm this iPad case is a lot more slimline than other cases but extra reliant against accidental bumps, scratches and dropping.

I have found this very short YouTube video which sells the Big Bang far better than I can – I defy you not to laugh!

To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter instructions below – Please note, to qualify the blog comment needs to be at the bottom of this post, not in the Rafflecopter widget. Sorry UK entries only – Entries close at 11.59PM on April 16th 2015. I will inform the winner within 4 days. You will be asked to provide a postal address for your prize to be sent to. This will not be used for any other promotional activity.

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Disclosure: We were sent a Logitech Ultrathin for the purpose of this review – All opinions are true, honest and correct at time of writing

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Cool Layer Cakes Giveaway – Foodie Friday

cool layer cakes giveaway

A little different #foodiefriday than usual, not a recipe but a giveaway of a book that I highly recommend. Cool Layer Cakes by Ceri Olofsen, is a book that is suitable for bakers wanting to expand their cake repertoire. There’s a good mix of recipes, decorations and some more intricate sugarcraft – well it looks intricate, but actually it is more than achievable for most bakers.

The book itself is bright and fun, with easy to follow instructions. There are cakes to appeal to adults and children, boys and girls. I particularly like the camouflage cake, the colours of which could be changed to suit the party theme.

camouflage cake

Other cake tutorials contained in the book are: The famous Rainbow Cake (pictured on front cover), How to make a Piñata Cake, and an intricate Battenburg type (perfect for a Minecraft lover?). You can learn how to make sugar roses and other sugar flowers, brush embroidery (which is so much easier than it looks) and mini stacked cakes.

cube minecraft cake

I have 1 copy of Cool Layer Cakes to giveaway. Please follow the Rafflecopter instructions below to enter – UK entries only please. The competition closes at 11.59PM on Sunday 12th April 2015. When you leave a comment, please do so at the bottom of this post, rather than in the rafflecopter widget, otherwise it won’t count.

Best of luck to everyone who enters.

strawberry cake

My featured post from last week’s #FoodieFriday entries is Wheelie Good Meals with his Chicken, Pek, Leek & Sage Leftover Pie – Celebrating British Pie Week, this was Richard’s first ever pie and what a success it was. Brilliant step-by-step picture instructions. Congratulations!

chicken leek sage leftover pie

Our other entries were just as marvellous:

foodie friday roundup

1.I absolutely love these top ten tips for Mashed Potato from Tales from the Kitchen Shed – I will never bung the salt in at the last minute ever again!
2. Bakewell Junction has been using up Lemon Curd with her ever so perfect, Meyer Lemon Bars
3. Happy Blogiversary to the Cream Baker with her Chocolate Chiffon Cake
4. This Stunning Spiced Sausage Stew from Wheelie Good Meals would go down very well in our house
5. Making good use of leftover chicken is Wheelie Good Meals again with Leftover Chicken Tikka Masala
6. Beautiful colour in Herbs, Spices & Tradition’s Mango Jam Jelly – Would brighten up any dish
7. I’d be proud of this marbling if I were Eileen from Et Speaks From Home – Chocolate & Vanilla Marble Cake
8. I found Foodie Quine’s post on brushing up her food photography fascinating – Its something I have definitely tried harder with this year but there’s still work to do!

A huge thanks to everyone for entering – Don’t forget to add all your food links while you are entering the book giveaway. There is no theme and all food is welcome as long as you display the badge and link back to this post. I will be sharing like mad this week – Please feel free to spread the word about #FoodieFriday and lets get plenty of people joining in. Each post is commented on, pinned, tweeted and Google+ed. The linky is open until next Thursday morning.

Casa Costello
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Eisberg Non-Alcoholic Wine – Blog Anniversary Giveaway #1

Eisberg Wine Giveaway

Its fair to say our weekends are slightly out of the ordinary – We do not often manage to make nights out but like many others, enjoyed a drink at home on either a Friday or a Saturday. Dermot has to work on Saturdays and now I drive Millie to Leeds (1.5 hour journey) every Saturday for 9.45. This is in addition to being in the pool in Manchester on Sundays at 7am.

You can’t do all that driving (and sitting besides a hot, sticky pool) with a hangover – The legal part of driving under the influence aside, there’s just no way I would survive having a thick head.

Like most women, when I was pregnant I tried all manner of non-alcoholic drinks – They were fine, but just that …nothing special. I was recently sent some Eisberg Non-Alcoholic wines to try and thought I’d give them a go.

The first thing that struck me was they still smell like wine. You get that kick in the back of your throat and not that empty, disappointed feeling. The beauty of Eisberg wines is that they are made in the same way as regular wines, just with the alcohol taken out at the very end of the process. Even better, the fact that they are only 34 calories per glass means that you don’t feel you are consuming too many empty calories either.

wine giveaway competition

As part of my series of giveaways celebrating Casa Costello turning 7, I have the full range of 4 Eisberg Wines to giveaway to one lucky winner.

All you need to do is follow the Rafflecopter instructions below (Don’t forget to leave a comment at the bottom of this post rather than in the Rafflecopter widget) Giveaway closes 11.59pm Wednesday 1st April 2015. Sorry UK entries only.

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Eisbery Non-Alocholic wine giveaway

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NibNibs Snack Review & Giveaway

nib nibs cheese snacks giveaway

I always think at this time of year, you want your snacks to be really tasty. There doesn’t seem to be the same excuse for leisurely feeding your face … even though it is a strictly diet free zone here!

Over Christmas I was sent a selection of Nib Nibs Cheese snacks – Billed as being From Yorkshire With Love they are a selection of both full size and mini cheese straw nibbles.

I’m not a massive cheese lover but even I enjoyed the Mini Cheese & Chilli Nibbles – Not too hard to eat but with a satisfying crunch. The rest of the Costellos have enjoyed nibbling their way through the range with our compulsory Onion & Garlic Dip. The snack pots are really handy for taking out and about.

Available in 4 flavours Cheddar Cheese, Cheddar & Spicy Chilli and Cheddar & Cheeky Onion, Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper flavours – Nib Nibs are ‘Premium baked British Nibbles for the most discerning connoisseur’ produced in North Yorkshire. I love supporting up & coming, local producers – One of my intentions this year is to find and use more food producers with something a little different.

I am offering one lucky reader the chance to win a selection of Nib Nibs products by entering this simple compeition – Please follow the Rafflecopter instructions below. The competition closes on Wednesday 28th January – Sorry UK entries only.

The winner will be notified as soon as possible after the random draw has been made and Nib Nibs will be responsible for sending out your prize once a postal address has been supplied.

Best of luck everyone! Happy nibbling x

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