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
  • a Rafflecopter giveaway

In My Kitchen – May 2015

I’m tempted to start off this post, by telling you what should be In My Kitchen … There should be a First Holy Communion cake all ready to decorate with a tiny sugar model of Violet. There’s not – but there’s a week to go?

There should be plenty of fresh veg and fruit – There’s not … It’s been a crazy weekend and no time to go shopping.

But let’s not focus on the negative, there ARE plenty of wonderful things going on In My Kitchen.

Mini melon baller

I may not have had time to go fruit & veg shopping but I did get time to buy this darling little melon baller – With a diameter of just 12mm, it is so tiny & cute. I am envisioning plenty of meals with little balls from the obvious melon, to ice-cream, to pate to Mini mash balls.


We were also sent these macarons from Baked with Love MCR. We usually reserve macarons for holidays or when we have time to bake our own. Millie especially was overjoyed with this unexpected treat. Bake with Love are trialling new ways of posting macarons in the post – These fared quite well. In addition to the usual flavours, vanilla, pistachio, coconut, there were fabulous other flavours like Passion Fruit and Chocolate Orange.


Everyone knows I’m a fan of all things Irish – Irish Brown Bread Crackers from Sheridans sounded just up my street. We tried them with Soft Cheese as a snack and found them quite a strong salty taste. They are actually lower in salt than traditional Cream Crackers though which was surprising.Great for an alternative on a Cheeseboard for something a little different.

Sheridans Irish Brown Bread Crackers

We have been asked to try products to suit special dietary requirements this month too. Sukrin Cake mix is described as Free From Sugar, Gluten, Wheat, Egg – I have yet to try the cake mix but we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Chocolate which has no added sugar. There’s certainly no shortage of taste with the Sea Salt flavour. I’m intrigued by the low carbohydrate level, Sukrin say they are ‘All natural’ substitutes, encouraging us to lead a healthier lifestyle.


So that’s the lot for this month’s In My Kitchen – By next week the First Holy Communion will be over. A buffet will have been prepared, eaten and cleared up – I hope it is less eventful than Millie’s – we ended up in A & E as Dermot got a wine glass stem stuck in his foot!

Beat My Price

This is a post sponsored by Bespoke Offers

I’ve always said you either save money or time when you are shopping. I don’t have copious amounts of either, to be honest, but I have tended to steer towards saving time. Who has the time to potter around various shops looking for bargains these days?

I was recently introduced and asked to evaluate a new type of shopping service Beat My Price. If you are looking to buy a particular item, you enter it into the search engine and the Beat My Price people will do the hard work for you – looking to see if you can get the item anywhere else cheaper.
This is isn’t an instant service – You are told that they search can take up to 24 hours but is more often than not, a lot quicker.

The idea is that you are searching for well known items from large brands or stores. I searched for items that we would tend to want to do a bit of shopping around for or that fit in well with our usual shopping habits. In other words, I went for foodie items and swimming costumes!

Beat My Price Search Screen

The first thing to do is register with the website – This takes less than 2 minutes. It is a clear form and not too many questions – I am not sure why we are asked for Date of Birth though.

The cooking items were really easy to find – I did a google search for Spiralizer and quickly came across John Lewis’ version. I clicked on the URL and pasted it into the Beat My Price search bar. I was impressed that John Lewis’ brand is recognised as being included. Less than 1 minute later I received confirmation that a search is underway for that particular product.

Beat my Price comparison

My next item was a Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet – I chose Almond colour as I wanted to be specific and see how up to date the search is. I was pleasantly surprised that a search for Almond was accepted instantly – Again from the JL website. A couple of minutes later though, I received an email asking me to clarify which colour with a drop down list. No trouble, it was really quick to choose the Almond.

My next product was a Ricer (This is like my dream shopping list – can you tell?). I avoided John Lewis as I want to give other stores a good test so came up with Amazon. The most obvious choice was an OXO Potato Ricer which was again accepted with no bother in the search.

I then changed my searches to swimming costumes – We buy a LOT of swimming costumes! I tried both of the major online stores that we use – Swimshop and Proswimwear but it seems they are a little too specific for this sort of search. I can’t say I’m surprised really.


We received the results of our searches within the 24 hour period (apart from the Le Creuset which was only 27 hours). I must say, I’m was really intrigued to see what the results were. For the Le Creuset were would have saved £7+ – We were directed to Fireworks Merchant Limited that I had not heard of beforehand so it was useful to find new suppliers. The other items were smaller savings but savings nonetheless. You are also given details on postage/courier costs which helps. From what I have seen so far, I think bigger purchases would be ideal for this type of search – You would be likely to save more as well as saving you time searching around.

We're going on an adventure

Fairy Garden Review – Interplay Craft Set

Interplay Fairy Garden finished product

We are massive craft fans in our house (as our spare room will testify!) I’ve always allowed my girls to use materials that they find around the house and encourage them to be as creative as possible. On the whole, they are fantastic at coming up with ideas and love making projects.

There are times though when they need a little stimulation or a project to work on. I’m very conscious that having Tara at home with me until she starts school, she needs a wide variety of toys and crafts to play with.

We were recently invited to review the Interplay Fairy Garden Craft set suitable for ages 4+. I thought at least one of my girls would enjoy it – I am so lucky that all 3 love making and creating.

All 3 girls were suitably interested when the Fairy Garden arrived – Violet did lose interest though when she found out we had to actually go and get our own soil from the garden.

So … into the garden we went. A sunny (if a little blustery) day was just the job to get Tara, Me & Nanna out into the garden. We collected the soil from the borders in a matter of seconds – then spent a while choosing the perfect pebbles that we wanted to put in the garden. You don’t have to include pebbles but by now we were well into it!

The whole point of the Fairy Garden is to plant the grass seeds and wait a week for the grass to grow. There was no way Tara at 4 was up for this waiting but she was more than happy with our cheat plants that we inserted in the meantime. (as you can tell from the picture)

Interplay Fairy Garden

There are loads of parts to the Fairy Garden and you can put as many or as few as you like in it. As you can see from the completed Fairy Garden above, we went the whole hog and put everything in. We even sprinkled the little glittery stars in the Fairy’s water bath to attract more fairies. The washing is a little bit fiddly but very cute as are the toadstools.

inside the fairy garden

Tara could be really hands on with this toy – there were no sharp edges. The actual bowl is silicone so it really didn’t matter if she dropped it. We do recommend making the Fairy Garden outside just in case soil spills but if its a rainy day, its not the messiest craft activity ever anyway. There are lots of little pieces – like the glittery stars and the teeny pebbles for the footpath but these add to the charm for a 4 year old. The picture below is Tara actually laying the pebble path to the Fairy house. The Fairy house was the only bit we had trouble with – Made out of foam, it blows away if the wind even thinks about blowing. We did laugh as it blew about the garden on more than one occasion! We ended up weighing it down with a big stone through the window to solve the problem.

building a Fairy Garden

We love our Fairy Garden – the grass is starting to grow. Its definitely more suitable for younger children – especially those that like to get stuck in building it. We have a Fairy door at the bottom of the tree in our garden – I like to think now the Fairies have their own garden to play in!

Disclosure: We were sent an Interplay Fairy Garden for the purpose of this review. RRP £14.99

Juicing and Yoga with Curry’s


A couple of weekends ago, myself and a gang of other bloggers all congregated in Leeds for an Introduction to Juicing #currysintrojuicing event hosted by Philips and Curry’s. I don’t own a juicer and have always been a little sceptical about how useful they are – There are tons of green juice pictures that pop up all over the internet every day that frankly don’t look all that appealing. Don’t forget, I’m cake girl through and through!

So off I trekked (actually I completely loved the train journey on a Sunday afternoon with my book!) and arrived safely in Leeds. We were greeted with a small ready made juice which happily wasn’t green – so far, so good!

The room was split into 4 sections – A juicing demonstration by Shakela from Philips, showing us all the ingredients that can go into a good juice. For me, there seemed a lot of fruit and veg, and other supplements, to make up just one juice. I’m not sure I could justify the expense and the wasted residue of products, when I have been brought up to believe that so much of the nutrients in fruit is in the core and the skin. My Dad was renowned for only ever leaving the pips of an apple – he would be horrified how much was left inside the juicer. Having said that though, there were so many bloggers present that were really clued up on what supplements are useful for what part of the body – Its obviously big business.

Now, we had been warned that as part of the afternoon, we would be doing basic yoga and to dress in sports wear. I had woken up with horrific backache and decided to wear what I would be comfortable travelling in so opted for a dress & leggings. When the yoga started though, I couldn’t help but join in, I am so incapable of saying No to anyone! We were introduced to Rocket Yoga, which I believe is a fast type of yoga – you are not kidding – it was REALLY hard! I will admit to panicking that I wouldn’t be able to move my back the next day, I’ve always been so sceptical about the benefits of yoga but amazingly, for the next week I felt better than ever! I’m now wondering if I just need to stretch my back regularly and sign up for yoga classes. Who knew?!

rocket yoga

We then moved onto making mocktails with Nick from Lambert’s Yard, who were hosting the event. I really loved this section (except when it came to emptying out the juicer – Ugh!) I had a go at making my own – , Carrots, Oranges, Lemon, Cucumber and Basil – Sounds horrid, tasted great! Don’t you just love the really flattering picture?

healthy mocktails

My favourite part of the day though was the Gourmet Soup section – We could try from Chicken and Lemongrass or Mushroom and Truffle. I could have eaten that Mushroom Soup all day and will definitely be trying my own version soon – Perfect for after a strenuous yoga session (Isn’t yoga supposed to be relaxing?)

Wild mushroom and truffle soup

Serves 4

2 x white onions
3 x garlic cloves
50g x butter
50ml x white truffle oil
600g x chestnut mushrooms
100g x oyster mushrooms
500ml x vegetable stock
100g x creme fraiche


Slice the white onions and garlic and cook until soft in butter, add the chopped wild mushrooms cook on a high heat for 5 minutes add the stock, simmer for 10 minutes and blend with the creme fraiche and truffle oil and season to taste.

Serve with crusty roll.

currys intro juice event

More information on the event, including some juicing recipes can be found over at the Curry’s Tech Talk blog

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

The Costellos try JUST EAT Takeaways

JUST EAT Tried Tasted logo

I know I love to cook and can happily potter in the kitchen for hours, but even I sometimes want a night off. We don’t often indulge in a takeaway so it feels like a real treat when we do. I was asked by the people at JUST EAT if I would try their service so agreed to give it a go. I have used JUST EAT once before when we were eating a friends but thought it was worth giving it a go ourselves.

JUST EAT is an online service where you can choose from a variety of takeaway establishments, view their menu on screen and order online. I remember first hearing about being able to view menus online and thinking what a brilliant idea.

Not every takeaway is listed in the JUST EAT directory (Our usual Chinese is not) but there is absolutely loads of choice. The majority are Indian Restaurants and Pizza places in our local area but you can find most food cultures. In our postcode alone, there were 65 venues listed – We are a relatively small town so I was amazed to see so many. Most were within a 3 mile radius.

JUST EAT pad nam prik pao

We decided that if we were going to be brave and go to a different restaurant than usual, then we’d really bite the bullet and order Thai food. I recognised the Thai restaurant listed as it is in our town centre – I had no idea though that they offered a takeaway service.

We wanted to order for 8.30PM on a Friday night to give the service a really good test – We placed our order at 6.45PM which I thought was reasonable notice. There was absolutely no problem fitting us in and we received a confirmation email within around 5 minutes. This said our order was confirmed with the restaurant and would be delivered approximately 8.30PM.

Dead on the dot of 8.30PM, a knock on the door and a friendly delivery man asked for Helen. Food order all correct and on time! Brilliant – Our usual Chinese does not deliver so happy days! (Free delivery for order over £10 at the Thai)

JUST EAT thai fish cakes

We had ordered Thai Fish Cakes to share for a starter which comes with a chilli dipping sauce. Dermot fancied a Chicken Green Thai curry with Sticky Rice and I ordered Pad Nam Prik Pao (Tiger Prawns with Thai Roasted Chilli Paste, Red peppers & sweet basil) with Sticky Rice. We also ordered a side portion of chips.

I have to admit our food was not roasting – The curries were fine to eat but only just warm. The fishcakes had not travelled so well though – they were quite unappealing. If I had thought about it, I suppose that is not the sort of food that keeps at its best, crispy and hot, whilst in transit. The chips suffered the same fate too – they were in a foil container which had made them rather soggy.

My Curry (Pad Nam Prik Pao) was a lot runnier than I expected but really quite nice. The plastic containers kept the liquid inside and we had no spillages which was good. The prawns were a decent size and enough of them – IT was super spicy though. Not for the feint hearted! The Green Thai Curry was more liquid than we are used to but fine to eat after a blast in the microwave.

JUST EAT Thai Green Curry

JUST EAT have their own Tried & Tasted awards which are compiled by people using the service, voting for their favourite restaurants every year. The awards focus on quality and consistency – the winning restaurants must have at have 100 reviews left online with a score of 4.5 or over to qualify. (In case you are wondering, the current winner is Hot Spot, American cuisine in Birmingham – Have you ever tried it?)

All in all, we had a good experience of using JUST EAT – I think for future, we would think more carefully about the type of food we were ordering – Would it keep fresh and crispy. I rather like the idea of the Tried & Tasted awards – I like that people can give feedback and JUST EAT monitor for consistency.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post – I was asked to talk about the Tried & Tasted awards and to use JUST EAT but was given free editorial control over this piece. All opinions are my own.

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Eisbery Non-Alocholic wine giveaway

We're going on an adventure

Vegetarian Spring Rolls – #JLCook

vegetarian spring rolls main

I’m a big lover of Chinese Food but don’t often get round to making it from scratch. My ultimate in a lazy night is a Hot & Sour Soup with a portion of prawn crackers to dip in. Can’t say I’m not classy! To become more proficient at cooking chinese dishes is definitely on my list for this year though. When I was asked by John Lewis, to have a go at their Vegetarian Spring Rolls as featured in their quarterly food mag, COOK, I though ‘Here’s my chance’.

COOK magazine is a free quarterly food magazine, packed full of seasonal recipes, handy cooking tips all with the signature John Lewis feel. The recipe for Vegetarian Spring Rolls is one of TV Chef & Food Writer, Ching He Huang’s. There is a video to support anyone attempting Chinese cooking at

chinese ingredients
So how did we get on? I decided to follow my own rules and prepare all the ingredients before I started cooking – I’m so glad I did. I felt much more in control especially as the initial cooking of the veg only takes such a short time.

We are not exactly exotic in St Helens but managed to get all of the set ingredients except for Cavolo Nero – We used Curly Kale instead and it was just fine.

filo pastry spring rolls
The recipe gives a choice of Spring Roll Wrappers or Filo Pastry – We chose the Filo Pastry as it meant we could bake the spring rolls in the oven and cut down on the frying. TIP: Only use 2 sheets of Filo at a time, wrap the rest straight up as it dries out REALLY quickly.

filling spring rolls #JLCook

The end product seems really authentic, which we liked. Good strong flavours – I may cut down a tiny bit on the amount of five spice powder but only because we are not used to using so much. I couldn’t quite get the 12 spring rolls that we were supposed to out of the recipe but it was so easy to follow and all made sense that I would quickly be able to make some more filling.

I have fallen in love with my Julienne Peeler which we were sent for preparing the carrots – I have a feeling lots of recipes are going to feature Julienne veg from now on.(Julienne cakes anyone?) Disclosure: We were asked by John Lewis to try out the Vegetarian Spring Rolls recipe and compensated for our time. All views are my own.

making vegetarian spring rolls #JLCook

If you have popped over to see #FoodieFriday then hello – I have extended the link for another week and will be back with a full round up next Friday – Feel free to add your foodie posts below:

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Money Apps – Saving with L&G

piggy bank
Image courtesy of Mister GC at

A bit of a different post from me today – I can’t say I’m exactly known for my organisation with money. My first ever wage packet saw me buying a fantastic selection of shoes and bags. Thankfully, I have grown up somewhat since then. I’m in the very lucky position that Dermot handles most of the money (not in a 1950’s housewife way, where I’m not allowed to know what’s going on) Just in the way that he is very interested and likes to know what is coming in and going out.

Internet banking was a bit of a revelation to us in the past few years – I even pottered on the Halifax banking from time to time. L & G asked me if I would have a nosy around some money apps and feed back on any that I found useful. So that is what I’ve been doing for the past month. Legal & General (L & G) are trying to promote the use of which ever apps suit the individual best to help us save during 2015.

I will admit that I put off the initial search, if you are not ‘into’ money, its hard to make a start. Once I started looking around for apps though, I became fascinated.

One thing I was certain of though, is that whatever apps I looked at needed to be free – I could almost hear Martin Lewis clapping!

spending tracker app

I’m not sure that I have the time or organisation to completely go over to a financial app for all of our household expenses but for a large project like a holiday or extension, I’m enjoying the Spending Tracker app. Rated 4.5 stars by over 300 users, I felt safe inputting our figures.

Being such a novice though, I had visions of having to put all our bank details in … you don’t! For the more visual user, there are pretty pie charts to measure what you have spent your income on. Scary to see what exactly our money is spent on … In case you were wondering, our is swimming pools!

january spending tracker 2015

I’m part of a couple of committees through Synchro and our WI – We have been really lucky to have accountants filling the role of treasurer. I’d say that if a professional financial whizz didn’t take these roles, then an app like

The other app that I’m forming a slight addiction to is My Supermarket – At first I liked the novelty of seeing how much certain items were in whichever supermarket I was using. The comparison between all the major supermarkets prices is addictive though – There’s so much can be learnt about what items are consistently cheaper in certain shops. I like this app so much that I have transferred it to my phone for easy access.

I do think there is a slight danger though that when you look through the offers, you might be tempted just to buy because they are cheaper than normal – A good old fashioned marketing technique but an easy trap to fall into.

my supermarket app

Disclosure: I was asked by L & G to try out apps of my choice regarding money management. I was compensated for my time but given free editorial reign. More information on how L & G think we can benefit from using finance apps can be found here