It may be messy but its ours – The Costello Shelfie

shelfie blog competition

We’ve all heard of selfies, but have you heard of the ‘Shelfie’? Its exactly what you think it is, a picture of a shelf.

I’d love to be showing you a neat and today, freshly dusted, everything precisely where it should be shelf but I’m not. Actually what you are seeing is everything current about our family. This is the first thing that you see when you step into the living room.

Our shelf is constantly changing – somethings remain on it always but most items get moved and changed regularly.

So let’s look a bit more closely at what is on our shelf …

It was Violet’s 8th birthday on Tuesday so this is where most of the cards go. You can always tell what recent occasions we have celebrated by this shelf. Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day …the cards all appear on here. And if I’m honest, most of them stay there until the next occasion!

birthday card shelf

The Money Tree… As christened by my friend, Sue. Any money we get for birthdays goes on here until it is spent. (It moves quicker than the birthday cards do!) Gift vouchers, thank you cards, party invitations – Its all on here. And I love it!

card tree

Who says money doesn’t grow on trees?

A new addition is our chocolate bouquet – How fabulous is this? I’m determined to make my own one eventually but I couldn’t leave this in the shop when I saw it. Perfect colour for a little girl called Violet on her birthday!

chocolate bouquet gifts

Like any self-respecting shelf, there are the photos. I love the black and white ones of my girls – I know they need updating but I can’t get rid of this one.

home photos

One of my most precious possessions is on this shelf too … The picture of my Dad receiving his MBE from The Queen. There are so many happy memories in this picture. A really special occasion for a really special man.

mbe picture

So there we have it. A glimpse into the world of the Costellos. That’s not all there is on that shelf … there’s a rogue nail varnish, some nail clippers (obviously someone has been improving their personal hygiene recently!), a healthy sprinkling of dust, a clock (that we set 5 minutes fast in a desperate attempt to get to places on time – it doesn’t work) and a spoon (no idea!).

You may be wondering why I’m blethering on about shelves – I’m taking part in the Victoria Plumb Shelfie Competition in conjunction with the Tots100. This comp is all about celebrating style in the Great British Home – I could win money or help with a new bathroom (which considering we still have a grey bathroom suite which makes estate agents gasp, is no bad thing).

Victoria Plumb would like you to take part in the Great British Home Quiz to see which celebrity your shelf is most like – You could also be in with a chance of winning £250. I took the quiz and found out we are Mr & Mrs Glamorous and I’m most like Joey Essex?! I have no words.

Crime & Underpants

curly haired Tara

When you read on, you’ll know why I couldn’t put a photo of today’s incident up!

Now that’s a catchy title? Nope, this isn’t a recipe containing undies *ponders if they would work?*. This is a post to give you just a little window into our world this week.

I try to add the odd snippet of info into my recipe posts but every now and then, a week comes along that necessitates a post all of its own.

Let’s start with Monday Morning – always a joy. Not especially when you open the front door to find your car and your Mother-in-laws have been broken into. No sign of entry, just a holy mess where everything has been ransacked. And a missing purse. Don’t judge, we ALL forget things in our car sometimes?

The Police arrive most puzzled that the car we are adamant we locked (we remember doing it when I got home from Bristol at 10.30 the night before) has been opened. Before long, it appears that 11 other neighbours on our cul-de-sac have also had their locked cars broken into.

We are a veritable Wisteria Lane. Mr PC looked positively bemused when we explained that EVERYONE knows each other in our street and we have a Facebook page to prove it.

The long and short of it is, they caught the buggers. Yay, Police! They have returned some property that they found in their house but not unfortunately the iPod that I told the police was white – how was I supposed to know its black?

Mr Criminal has been sentenced today. He has a curfew and has to stay in his house (probably listening to my iPod) between the hours of 8pm and 7am. Bet that made him think twice *cough*

And so onto other news …

The Jehovah’s Witnesses were around today. They mustn’t think we have had enough uninvited guests around our way this week.

Tara beat me to answering the door. Dressed ONLY in her knickers.

For once the JW’s bade a hasty retreat after looking at toddler T strutting her undies.

It was only when I got in the house, I realised she had 3 Happy Land figures stuffed down her knickers.

Why? Because she says she’s a boy!

I. Give. Up.

I’m adding this post to the new look Wot So Funee – This week we are being hosted by Nicki from Stressy Mummy . I’m also somewhat big-headedly adding it to

Wot So Funee?Brilliant blog posts on

Wigan Food Festival 2014

wigan food and drink festival 2014

Its not often you find someone from St Helens talking freely about Wigan – The 2 towns have a fierce rugby rivalry. When food is involved though, that’s different!

I was invited a couple of weeks ago, to the preview dinner of the Wigan Food Festival 2014. Now in its 7th year, this event is looking at its biggest year by far. There is a real focus on competition – if you fancy showing off your baking skills or even a spicy Chilli, then this is the event for you. Oh and let’s not forget that there is a huge beer and wine section of the festival too! (its also the 27th Wigan CAMRA Beer Festival at the same time) Phew. Its estimated that over 30,000 people will be involved in some way with the festival this year – I love that food events are so popular.

local food at wigan food festival

Our fabulous afternoon tea featuring local north-west food

I thought I knew quite a bit about local food producers but even from just one night talking to other North-West foodies, I was struck by how much the North-West has to offer. The Food festival will be showcasing so many varieties of local food – there really will be something for everyone.

One thing that really strikes me is how many opportunities there are for school children to get involved – I love the thought that at such an early age we are encouraging our kids to get stuck in and have a go. I especially can’t wait to follow the success of whoever comes out as the winner at this year’s Great Wigan School Bake Off Champion!

chocolate custard dessert

There are 5 days of live Kitchen Theatre drama taking place at Wigan Outdoor Market Square, making the event accessible to everyone.

Some of the more unusual events that are taking place, have caught my eye. Here’s a summary:

Thursday 27th Feb – Great Wigan Schools Bake Off

Wednesday 5th March – The Wigan Chilli Cook-Off – Kitchen Theatre, Wigan Market

Saturday 8th March – Kitchen Theatre featuring a masterclass with John Whaite – winner of GBBO 2012

Saturday 1st March – Pirate Fancy Dress event at CAMRA Beer Festival 11.30am-11pm

Sunday 9th March – Festival Finale: Mexican Tapas Party (I would LOVE to go to this!)

For more information, visit

Disclosure: I was invited to the preview dinner at no cost for review purposes. I was given free reign what to write about the Food Festival and I will definitely be trying to get there as much as I can! Thank you!

A Christmas Message …

Thought the Minions could say it better than I could!

minion cake toppers, sugarcraft minions, cremem egg minions, Merry Christmas Message,

Wishing you A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my posts, commented and taken part in competitions during the past year. I hope everyone has someone to share their Christmas Day with tomorrow and some sort of treat to enjoy.

As per normal, the Costello children are finding it hard to go to sleep. Tara is refusing to take her Christmas Onesie off even though she is sweltering. Me & Mr Costello still have a mountain of wrapping to do, Dinner to eat and a lot of Port & Lemon to consume. At least 2 of us have the annual Christmas cold. I still have 2 cakes to finish and I’m wondering where Santa might have stored the rest of his presents for safe keeping. I will have my one bath of the year later (a LOT later) – I’ve even remembered to buy myself some bubble bath to mark the occasion.

Wouldn’t change it for the world!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Lots of Love

Helen xxx

An Autumn Poem – Center Parcs November Challenge

The Costellos at Center Parcs

I’m no poet that’s for sure – I’ll never be as good as my friend, Joanne but that won’t stop me from trying.

Regular readers may have spotted the arrival of the Center Parcs Blogger badge to the left. I’m so happy to have been chosen as one of the 2014 Center Parcs Family Bloggers. As part of our Center Parcs experience, we are invited to take part in a series of monthly challenges. The challenge for November is to write a poem all about autumn and nature.

If you would like to try and become a Center Parcs blogger, you can enter the Wildcard draw by writing your own poem but you’ll have to be quick – Entry closes tomorrow (29th November)

In the meantime, here’s my poem…


Autumn starts with a breeze and the rustling of trees.
It soon becomes gusty. Hats & Scarves worn – though musty.

Trees start to shed leaves at a trickling pace,
Within weeks they have fallen all over the place.

Long summery walks, quickly turn into sprints,
Waiting to get back to steaming hot drinks.

Children collect conkers & crispy brown leaves,
Their artwork, a patchwork made out of trees.

Hot chocolates with cream are the drinks of the day,
Maybe marshmallows too, if the kids get their way.

Our clothing is toasty, with covered up hands,
Distant memories of costumes, sea and hot sands.

We talk about when do we turn on the heating,
Seems a long time until lambs will start bleating.

We love autumn days, but the evenings are better,
Snuggled on sofas wearing a big cozy sweater!

I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and will be visiting Whinfell village with my family. If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go the challenge page to find out how

The challenge closes on November 29th, so be creative. My poet friend tells me her poems take 25 minutes max, so you have plenty of time!

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 You – nuff 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!

Center Parcs Competition – What we like to do together

How to give yourself a stressful day…Wake up and decide to enter the Center Parcs Challenge to become one of their Family bloggers by creating a one minute video.

Doesn’t sound too scary? Not unless you have never even used the video function on your camera before, never mind edited any video on the computer. I didn’t even know we had a video function until this morning!

I have talked on here before about how much we love going to Center Parcs and have spent many a happy week at both the Whinfell and Sherwood Forest sites. Millie & Violet both frequently mention their favourite holidays there – Could be something to do with the non-stop swimming? They completely got behind our ambition to be Center Parcs bloggers – Violet even told the checkout lady in Costco this afternoon that we were making a video for CP as we were going to win a free holiday! High hopes of our video making skills 😉

But here’s our offering…a few hours later. We actually had tons of fun discovering what the girls like doing together and even after filming had finished, they stayed outside GETTING ALONG!!

We tried to be clever and come up with a selection of activities that spell out C E N T E R P A R C S – Get it?

So what did I learn from today?

  • The kids REALLY want to go back to Center Parcs – Whinfell is our preferred location but Sherwood would be great too!
  • Tara will only do so much performing if her fluffy poodle isn’t allowed on set – These child stars eh?
  • The girls do actually get on well with each other
  • I am more of a perfectionist that even I realised – You will never know the faffing I did to get the text and music on that video.
  • I cough A LOT! Several retakes were done!
  • Stephen Speilberg needn’t give up his day job just yet.

So there’s our first foray into video entertainment – we’ve thoroughly enjoyed it – Hope you do too!

One Word


I’ve been having a nosy at some blogs this afternoon – you know how you do when you’ve got so much to do you can’t see straight. I cam across a post by English Mum that got me thinking. She was challenged to describe herself in just one word and say why. Becky had a whole combination of words that she could use and came up with Independent as her word.

There’s only one word that I can think of for me …OPTIMISTIC. Here’s why:

  • I’m optimistic that we’ll get somewhere on time one day.
  • I’m optimistic that one day my kids will be good friends instead of killing each other.
  • I’m optimistic that one day, scientists will discover that a diet of gin and cake is good for you.
  • I’m optimistic that the girls will eat all their packed lunches one day.
  • I’m optimistic that I’ll be a size 12 soon – delusional perhaps?
  • I’m optimistic that there’s the possibility of seeing the bottom of the ironing pile in the future.
  • I’m optimistic that we’ll find that library book.
  • I’m optimistic that my husband will eventually grasp when and where the children have to be at rainbows/beavers/dancing.
  • I’m optimistic that we’ll win the lottery (Best buy a ticket first though)

There’s plenty of more serious things that I’m optimistic about: Plans for the future of my children, That a cure for Alzheimers will someday be found, that I can rely on people if I needed them.

Without optimism how can we get through our day? So with a happy thought to the future I’m off to WI anticipating that everyone will enjoy our evening of Belly Dancing!

So what would your word be? I’m intrigued.

A Girl’s Night In – MoneySupermarket Competition

We had a lot more fun than the photos suggest! I promise ;-)

We had a lot more fun than the photos suggest! I promise ;-)

I’m just about recovered from the weekend. If I tell you that I stayed in, it might help to explain why. I had a Girl’s Night In – You know the luscious sort of night where you don’t have to worry about getting a seat, the only outfit trauma is whether to wear slippers or flipflops and you can have wet hair and no makeup. (If I’m honest, I would normally take a little more care with my appearance but my hairdryer blew up 10 minutes before everyone came and my husband went out in the car, with my makeup bag in it!)

Anyhow, there I was on Friday, waiting for my mates. Millie had gone away to PGL (Parents Get Lost?) that afternoon and I was relishing a whole weekend ahead of me with no synchro lessons (aswell as missing her obviously). A couple of days earlier, the people from Money Supermarket has emailed me, asking if I’d like to enter a competition as to who could arrange and host the perfect Girl’s Night In. They offer to pay £50 and see what you do with it. Game On! Here’s what I did.

Anyone who tells you that they didn’t spend an hour madly cleaning up before they have guests are big fat liars, I tell you! First port of call was to Home Bargains. Not sure if this is a national store. Think they are based in Kirkby but they are blinking brilliant. Bargains like no other….

Bathroom & Toilet Wipes (never said I wasn’t a lazy cleaner!) 89p

Dettol Spray £1.19 – If you want something to keep your 7 year old occupied while you are getting ready, give them some Dettol spray and a cloth. Genius!

Plastic Plates x 20 59p (told you they were cheap!)

Napkins 29p – I was going to go for the classier white napkins with a lovely border for £1.59 but then I spotted the Zingzillas napkins for 29p. Done deal!

Carlsberg Export Lager £7.79 for 20 bottles

Wine (Sorry about the copious amounts of alcohol)

2 Red £5.95 x 2 = £11.90

2 White £5.95 x 2 = £11.90

Snacks £5.95 Crisps, Nuts and Sweets – No party is complete without them. The cheaper, the better!

Next stop was Lidl. My most recent bargain discovery. Cannot believe I’ve spent so many years disbelieving people when they say how good the quality of food there is.

Pepsi (One full fat and One Diet) 89p each = £1.78

Red Pepper 59p (the nod towards being healthy)

And the last stop was good old Morrisons – 5PM on a Friday afternoon with 2 kids, I was so brave!

Lean Minced Beef 2 for £5 (I might be trying to be frugal but I’ve been brought up too well to serve crap meat)

2 jars Uncle Bens Medium Chilli Con Carne £2

Extra large Mushrooms 89p (reduced section)

Veggie Pizza £3.25 (which in the end I forgot about and left in the oven resulting in a rather crispy pizza)

THE FOOD: Crap Crisps and Chilli (I cheated and used some rice that we already had. I had ordered a 5kg bag instead of a 500g bag the week before and desperately needed cupboard space! Online shopping hey?!)

THE ENTERTAINMENT: My £50 was spent so other than listening to me drone on, I had to come up with something quick. I asked Kerry from Partylite Candles to come and entertain us, with strict instructions to my guests that they weren’t to feel pressurised to actually have to buy any candles. The great news is that Kerry and her daughter, Emily were fantastic! We loved them and their candles and amazingly I earned £41.14 in commission to spend on their catalogue by holding the party! I almost made a profit from the evening 😉 I’m also due to receive a gift of 3 free candles as 2 of the ladies at my party went onto book a party of their own – Looks like I’m due for some more girl’s nights in!

We had a great night. There were 12 of us plus Kerry and Emily. My last guest left just before 1am.


Disclosure: I received £50 from Money Supermarket but I had free choice as to how to spend the money on my girl’s night in. Due to participating in the Girl’s Night In project, I will automatically be entered into a prize draw to win £500. Fingers crossed! At least if I don’t win, I’ll have some lovely candles to make my house smell lovely 😉 What would your ultimate night in be?

Bat Out Of Hell: The best music for car journeys?

I spend a LOT of time in the car. In addition to the every day mooching around, I take Millie from St Helens to Manchester 5 times per week for synchro training (between 25-35 miles depending on which pool). As a result our choice of music to listen to is very important. The rest of the time, I am normally accompanied by Tara – and everyone knows that a 2 year old gets the choice of what to listen to, don’t they?

Our synchro journeys are a chance to catch up on current affairs, find out what the rest of the world is up to and indulge my rather eclectic music tastes. I’m having a bit of an 80’s throwback at the moment with tunes from Human League & Phil Oakey featuring heavily. Millie think they are terrible!

Yesterday though I reckon I heard the ultimate car journey song played on Radio 2 (when did I turn into my mum?) Meal Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell. Fantastic and it goes on for ages. Does anyone else know all the words?

Carcraft are compiling a list of the top tunes to listen to whilst travelling – They want to know what your favourites are too. I’m thinking Bat Out Of Hell might just appear.

If you want to take part, here’s how:

  • Nominate your favourite driving song via a hashtag on Twitter (#carcraftsingalongs) or share a suggestion on our Facebook page.
  • Be part of our survey and nominate the songs you love
  • All the nominated entries will then be added to a list here on the Carcraft website and voting will be opened to find the overall favourite.
  • We hope to gather a list of sing along songs that make people drive happy!

This Wednesday, I’m travelling down to London and back in the same day with Derm (not the best date I agree) to collect Mil from England Talent Squad – Any suggestions of good toons will be gratefully received. We are likely to be in car for at least 8 HOURS!! Comment below otherwise he might make me listen to Coldplay *shudder*

This is a sponsored post however all declarations of bad music taste are my own! I also realise that I have shown my age in my choices 😉


And for your enjoyment …