Autumn Picnics with #Vitapicnics

I’m going to let you into a secret – There’s a place I know. Its rather perfect. Don’t tell everyone – They’ll all want to go. If you’re thinking of setting out on an autumn picnic over the half term – you may want to think about going.

hell's mouth

Let me tell you about Hell’s Mouth (No, not the hole in my face that talks a bit too much – That’s a completely different type of Hell’s Mouth) A wonderful beach just near Abersoch – I’ve probably told you about it before. Perfect for surfing, perfect for walking, perfect for picnicking – Which is why I’m telling you about it.

vita coco kids

Vita Coco Kids have a campaign running this autumn to keep us picnicking. Just because the weather is a bit fresher doesn’t mean to say we can’t eat al fresco anymore. I’m all in favour of this idea and have been for years – We do outdoor day trips all year round – We are your forever optimistic picnickers – There’s not much a good coat and an umbrella can’t protect against.

Vita Coco want me to tell you all about our favourite picnic spot but shhh! remember to keep it quiet!

Let me introduce you to Hell’s Mouth …

FREE car park – This is a perfect spot for surfers so will spot some brilliant camper vans and maybe the odd half naked man getting into a wetsuit. Its a cross we all have to bear! Even better there is a tea van so if you finish your flask – there’s always a top up!

car park hell's mouth

There’s a sandy walk (about 200m) down to the beach – Good exercise but not too far and you are nicely warm by the time you reach the beach. Perfectly safe to let the kids walk on ahead.

walking to the beach

There’s plenty of waves for the active type – Disclaimer: This is Dermot and not me!

deem surfing abersoch

There’s even peace and tranquility (Maybe not if you take your 3 kids)

surf board beach wales

We don’t live on the doorstep of Abersoch – in fact, we have a good 2 1/2 hour drive to get there but it is well worth it. We quite often set out mid morning on a Sunday and don’t get back until late evening. We take an almighty picnic but it soen’t stop us devouring the chippy at Conwy on the way back.

Disclosure: We were sent a fabulous picnic set to encourage us to talk about our favourite picnic spot. Vita Coco Kids is fruit-flavoured Coconut Water using natural flavours, containing on average 20% less sugar and calories than other fruit juice drinks. I tested the drinks out on the kids without telling them that they were new and they went down really well. My 3yo loved the mango & pineapple flavour (Apple & blackcurrant flavour also available)

#MorningWin with Belvita

belVita #morningwin

Ah, mornings – don’t we all just love them? Here’s how they go in our house …

If we wake before 8.30
If the uniform is not dirty.

If the ham is still in date,
making lunch won’t make us late.

If we find shoes, left and right,
If the kids don’t start to fight.

If all homework is completed,
properly saved, and not deleted.

If the kids get out of bed,
shouted once, not seeing red.

If belVita’s in the tin,
we have what’s called a #MorningWin!

This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by Belvita Breakfast. Learn more at http://bit.ly/belVitaUK

#morningwin belvita
This is Violet ‘enjoying’ a belVita – Seriously. she is – you want to see how grumpy she normally looks in a morning!

We were sent some BelVita to test as part of our entry into this competition – We tried 3 flavours, Apricot, Hazelnut & Choc Chip. I had no trouble getting my girls to taste test them – in fact they were devastated when we ran out. Vi’s favourite is the Choc Chip (See pictured – She just hasn’t told her face! She is so not a morning person). My fave by far are the Hazelnut belVita’s – perfect for dashing off on that school run! Even better dipped in a brew!

No-Cheese Smoked Haddock Omelette – Cage Free Eggs from Sainsburys

no cheese smoked haddock omelette

I first started getting concerned with what eggs I used when I was at the peak of Aardvark Cakes’ wedding season. It wasn’t unusual to use 70+ eggs. I just couldn’t bring myself to use eggs from caged hens although they were significantly cheaper. Slowly more and more customers were asking if I used free-range eggs and it was such a relief to be able to say yes. I searched everywhere for decent priced free-range eggs and found them at my local farm shop.

A few years on and it seems the world has caught up. It more unusual to see eggs from caged hens now but I will admit to not knowing what sort of eggs are used in ready made products that I have bought. Sainsburys are very proud that they are the first major retailer to use cage free eggs as ingredients in all of their own brand products. I really like this declaration – Makes me feel more confident about what I’m buying. Does that mean I’m really grown up? ;-)

Sainsburys have produced a rather cute (and short) video to celebrate all their products containing cage free eggs here.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t share a recipe while I’m on the subject of eggs. Miss Millie has been continuing with her Food Tech lessons at High School. We’ve moved on from Hot Drinks and are now onto proper food. Last week it was omelette – A cold, floppy, rather undercooked omelette arrived home at 3PM. I couldn’t possibly say if it went straight in the bin but a couple of days later, I showed Millie the joy of a properly cooked, tasty omelette.

 

No Cheese Smoked Haddock Omelette

Serves 1
Prep time 3 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 13 minutes
Allergy Egg, Fish
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch, Main Dish, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
Super tasty Smoked Haddock omelette with a cheese free interior

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggs
  • 150ml Milk (+ 2 extra tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons Oil
  • 1 Shallot (Chopped finely)
  • 1 Small Smoked Haddock Fillet
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Parsley

Directions

In a jug, whisk together the eggs and the 2 tablespoon of milk. Season with S & P.
In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and sauté the shallot until transparent and soft
Add the Haddock, remaining milk and dried parsley. Put the lid on the pan and cook for approx 3-4 minutes until the haddock is just cooked and flaky. Remove the fish and the majority of the onions from the pan.
In a frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and add the egg/milk mixture. Spread the mixture as far around the pan as possible and heat until it just starts to bubble - DO NOT STIR!
Use a spatula to lift the edges of the omelette
Add the haddock/onion mixture to one half of the omelette.
Flip over the other half and turn the heat off immediately.
Eat straightaway - I serve with something green!

 

Disclosure: I was asked to share a recipe that I make using eggs and given voucher to cover the cost of the ingredients.

 

Cherishing Family Milestone Moments with Fairy

family cuddles

Super Soft Cuddles

I like to think I don’t take any of my children’s milestones for granted. Everyone always says how quickly time goes by and that you will never get those childhood years back (I’m never quite sure how to take that!) Parents of teenagers are quick to tell me that the toddlers years are the best – I can’t comment yet as we have 43 weeks left until we have a teenager in the house!)

I will admit though that the last 12 years have just flown – I’m wanting to grab hold of my littlies and slow life down. We have less than a year until Miss T goes to school so for this year we have one in High School, One in Primary School and One at nursery – Family planning at its best. Eh?

Tara 2nd birthday

Fairy are running a campaign at the moment to encourage us to make the most of our precious family moments. They have produced a short video that’ll make you gulp! For anyone whose child has ever had a special teddy, this is for you …

We are rearranging our photos in the living room and have been having a potter through our collection – There’s nothing like seeing pics of your kids to realise how quickly the time has passed. I’m vowing to take more pictures over the next few years – and maybe be on a few myself! As we’ve gone through the photos its been lovely to see how often the girls have impromptu cuddles themselves – Long may they continue!

Seems like yesterday!

Seems like yesterday!

Disclosure: I was asked to feature the Fairy video and write about special family time. I was sent some Fairy products to compensate for my time.

Kids go Free over the Summer with CBeebies Magazine

cbeebies kids go free offers

There is much excitement in Casa Costello tonight – tomorrow sees us trooping off to Alton Towers for the day courtesy of CBeebies Magazine. I’m solo parenting (with a little help from my niece) as Mr C has got to work, but looking forward to it nonetheless.

Little Miss T, Violet and I are attending an event prior to going into the main theme park, hosted by CBeebies Magazine – CBeebies Magazine has come up with the genius offer to giveaway free child tickets to major kids attractions in the UK over the summer. I can honestly say that ‘Operation Keep The Kids Entertained Over Summer’ is in full swing here – every night, my 3 ask where we are off to tomorrow? We’ve had to have a couple of home days this week as we have been struck by the Bug of Doom but fingers crossed all that is over!

Every issue of CBeebies Magazine from now until 7th October will have 2 tokens for kids to go free at selected locations: See below for more details – there’s massive savings to be had! The magazine only costs £2.99 to buy!

• Issue 410 (30th July) – Chessington World of Adventures – Save £68 (£34 per ticket)
• Issue 411 (13th Aug) – Alton Towers Resort inc. CBeebies Land – Save £86.40 (£43.20 per ticket)
• Issue 412 (27th Aug) – Warwick Castle – Save £39.60 (£19.80 per ticket)
• Issue 413 (10th Sept) – Legoland and Legoland Discovery Centre – Save £82.80 (£41.40 per ticket)
• Issue 414 (24th Sept) – Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)

Some terms & conditions apply

So that’s it for now – I’ll feed back how we got on at Alton Towers. We’re due to meet one of the CBeebies characters tomorrow … Tara would love it to be Topsy & Tim (whoever they are!). I think Vi would like Nina (with or without her neurons) and I wouldn’t complain at Mr Bloom (as long as he’s scrubbed his nails!). Knowing my luck it’ll be Tree Fu Tom! ;-)

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Homemade Ice Lollies: Peach Melba Smoothies – Center Parcs Family Blogger Challenge

  cooking with kids smoothies

The last in my monthly Center Parcs Family Blogger Challenges – Its been a brilliant experience making blog about various challenges and being involved with the Center Parcs crew. This month’s challenge was just up my street – We had to get in the kitchen, with the kids and come up with some Homemade Ice Lollies. I chose to make Smoothies – Always on the lookout for ways to increase the girl’s fruit intake. Both Violet & me really dislike bananas which feature in about 99% of shop bought smoothies – This is why homemade smoothies suit us so well.

If you can’t wait for these to freeze, these are great as chilled pots of smoothy goodness – even better served with ice-cream! I followed the lead from Center Parcs’ own Ice Lolly expert, Deb Rogerson (yes, there is actually such a job!) and sprinkled some hundreds and thousands in the base of the mould before freezing. Deb does suggest for maximum impact, dipping the tip into white chocolate after freezing then straight into hundreds & thousands. Her other Ice Lolly tips can be found on the Center parks website.

Peach Melba Smoothies

Serves 8
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable
Occasion Barbecue, Birthday Party
Great way to increase children's fruit intake. Fabulous for those of us who crave banana free smoothies! These are more filling than you think, you only need small moulds.

Ingredients

  • 5 Peaches
  • 1 Punnet Raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons Honey
  • 2 tablespoons Icing Sugar

Optional

  • Hundreds & Thousands to decorate

Directions

peach raspberry smoothies
Wash and Chop the peaches (No need to remove skin) and blitz in a food processor until smooth
making homemade smoothies
Add the raspberries and honey and sprinkle in the icing sugar and blitz until all combined
decorating homemade smoothies
In the bottom of each ice lolly mould, sprinkle approx 1/2 tsp of hundreds and thousands
Add the mixture to the moulds and freeze overnight

no banana smoothies peach raspberry

‘I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and have visited Whinfell village with my family. If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how bit.ly/1url80d’

Linking up with A Mummy Too’s Recipe of the Week

recipe-of-the-week

Chocolate Piñata Cake

piñata birthday cake

EDIT: The story behind the Chocolate Piñata Cake …Maybe not the neatest or best decorated cake I’ve ever made but certainly one of the quickest. I’d made the cakes on Friday morning (2 shallow and one deep in case you are interested) then I had 15 minutes to decorate on the Friday afternoon before we went out to celebrate Millie turning 12. It was at this point I discovered I had no icing-sugar – so I used powdered Fondant Icing (I’m thinking its nearly the same) to make the buttercream.

I cut out a circle in the middle of the deep middle tier and poured the chocolates in – Warning! This type of cake used LOADS of sweets. I used 2 packs of Mint Aero Bubbles, 2 packs of maltesers, 1 pack of Chocolate M& Ms and 2 packs of White Chocolate Buttons. To decorate around the outside I used Maltesers, More White Chocolate Buttons and a packet of Jelly Babies. This is not the cake for dieters!

Next time I make a Piñata cake, I will think more about the outside decoration but for such a quick cake, I’m rather chuffed!

There’s still some left in the fridge – want some?

Questions!

giant question mark

Its day of questions … Can you help with any of these from The Costello house?

From Violet: How does the internet work?

I thought I’d start with a harmless but difficult one – She means as a whole, not how does our house get it?

From Tara: How can I get a tail to come from out my bum?

Erm….?

From Me: Why did the man at David Lloyd earlier today, think it was ok to shave his chest poolside then jump in the pool to rinse down?

Eew!

From Me Again: Why did the lifeguard sit there watching him??

Clueless.

From Derm: How after a massive swim, an afternoon of playing and an evening of traipsing about everywhere, can Tara STILL not go to sleep at 10.30PM?

I fear this is one of the mysteries of life and that if we solved it, we would earn millions.

From Me: Why did we think to put ONE trainer up in the loft in the Hand-me-down box?

Anybody want a used Size 11 Child’s Lacoste Trainer?? A Left One

From Derm: Do we put the charity clothes in the Air Ambulance or the Cancer Research bag?

How does one choose??

Self Preservation when Self Catering with Kids – #MatalanSummerTips

tips for self catering holidays

Its that lovely time of year again, our caravan has arrived home! All ready to be cleaned and filled to the gills for our many summer adventures.

You may remember last week, I was involved in a Twitter Party all about sharing your holiday tips? Well, Matalan have asked me to share some of my tips for travelling with kids. I’ve loved every single holiday we have had since having the girls but I do admit its a military operation before we go.

For us, self catering works best – whether we are in the caravan or in a cottage, in this country or abroad. I’m going to share today just some of the things we do that make our holidays work. A lot of our rituals save money, we still have treats when we are away but there’s no way we could go away as often or for as long as we do, if we weren’t a little bit careful.

The Journey

  • Consider night-time travel – We have a 6 hour journey before we even get to our ferry for our abroad holiday. We have tried setting out in the morning but the kids are soon bored. For us, a 2am start works so much better – The kids are excited but then fall back asleep after about an hour. Bliss!
  • Food – No matter what time of day it is, Violet will still get hungry. I go NOWHERE without an emergency bag of food and this cake.
  • Activity packs – I collect notebooks, puzzles, party bag items throughout the year so I can drip feed the kids with new activities along the way.
  • Don’t bother getting them changed – Much comfier to travel in PJ’s and change at a service station when you are nearly there – Did you know service stations are ultra exciting for children?!
  • Have your plan sorted for what/where you are eating on the first night – This may be your night for a pizza. The kids will be happy and you can unpack in peace.

The Clothes

  • Vest tops are my staple item for all 3 kids (and myself) on holiday – Perfect with shorts, cheap, come in all colours and can be dressed up with a posh skirt and a necklace for nighttime.
  • Take a tiny pot of handwash – You may be in denial that you will need to do any washing at all when you are away but there is nothing like a stinky towel or tea-towel to make you yearn to do some washing!
  • Flip Flops – I’ve never been away yet without one of the kids breaking their flip flops – I take at least 5 pairs each!

The Food

  • Jars of curry sauce! Cannot live without them. So quick and homely – and you can always bring them back home if you don’t use them!
  • Try to eat like you do at home – We love experimenting with food when we are away, but we have to admit the kids behave and sleep better if they eat similarly to what they eat at home most days.
  • Bags of rice – Life is too short to be measuring out portions of rice on holiday!
  • Take your own ice-pops – This is my biggie!! Saves an absolute fortune on ice-creams. We have bought 100 for £3 before now. You can freeze them as you need them and at that price, who cares if the kids have 10 a day? Keeps them hydrated too!
  • Tupperware and melon – Our must for the beach. If its just too hot to eat anything else, a whole melon chopped up gets devoured like we are vultures.
  • Take your own spices & sauces – Chilli powder, mixed herbs, stock cubes – Take up hardly any room but make a meal so much better. We took our own bottle of HP sauce last year – we could have sold it at $5 a squirt judging by people’s reactions when they walked past us having bacon butties in a morning.
  • Save your carrier bags throughout the year – Use as rubbish bags. You will need them!

The Journey Home

  • Keep 2 spare outfits clean for the journey – you know the kids will spill something on them just before you set off!
  • A stash of sweets and a new magazine/toy (bought before your hols) for that last minute tantrum as they get in the car home – You will thank me!

 

Disclosure: Sponsored Post

 

One Direction Bento Box

One Direction packed lunch bento box

It seems the craze for Bento boxes is getting bigger and bigger. For people new to Bento, they are packed lunches. You are ‘supposed’ to have a variety of smaller items rather than just a buttie and an apple. I say ‘supposed’ to because really, who can dictate what you should do with a packed lunch?!

Until now, Violet has been a school dinner but as usual for the summer term, she likes to swap to packed lunches. Our Bento box (Lakeland Lunch Box) is quite small for an adult but perfect for Vi.

It was her 8th birthday yesterday so I wanted to give her what I know she will like. Birthdays are not a day to mess around with – You don’t try new food on a birthday. I’ve heard that’s the law.

As with most other 8yo’s, Violet thinks she loves 1D. (I’m not convinced she knows many of the songs but I’ll play along -just as long as I don’t have to go and watch them!). So it was decided that our first Bento box would be One Direction themed box.

Thank heavens for B&M (Are they a national company? Are you now thinking – what on earth is B&M? Think Pound shop but better value) – I came across 1D biscuits.

We haven’t been shopping yet since being away in the Lakes last week so I admit to the selection being rather minimal – We went with Harry Styles Tuna & Cucumber wraps with a Zayn-ey (sorry) Salad Cream type dressing.

Chopped Strawb-louis (groan!) and Chopped Grapes finished it off.

The piece de resistance has to be the little heads on cocktail sticks – which according to Violet, ALL THE GIRLS wanted one! Result! I cut their heads out of newspapers and sellotaped onto little pieces of card with a stick in the middle. Easy Peasy.

I’ll have to give future Bento boxes a little more thought but for a first time, Vi’s reaction was brilliant.

For more Bento box ideas, the fabulous Eats Amazing is the guru – She’s been in the National Press and everything!