In My Kitchen February 2015

Is anyone else finding it REALLY difficult to type February this year? I type all sorts of combinations before I get it right. Just me then?!

Anyway, let’s get on … I used to periodically join in with one of the most fascinating linkies around, In My Kitchen hosted by Fig Jam & Lime Cordial. For a nosy parker, there is nothing better than being given permission to have a good old peek at what is going on in kitchens up and down the land.

Well, I thought it was time I joined in too – I’m very lucky that I get sent products that people think Me, Derm & the girls would like to try – I’d like to share some of these with you as we go along. There will also be plans for what I intend on cooking in the coming month and no doubt plenty of cookbook action too!

The actual kitchen remains the same as the last time I joined in with ‘In My Kitchen’ from Fig, Jam & Lime Cordial – We are still fighting the eternal battle to get more light into our house. Even harder at this time of year, when it barely seems to get daylight. Hopefully in the next couple of months, the walls will at least get white and the window will be replaced by a bigger, clearer (and cleaner) version. I have already been buying some delightful little plant holders to match the white colour scheme.


I was invited to celebrate Australia Day last week down in London – Sadly I could not make the event but the kind people at Bundaberg Rum sent me a parcel including their rum – I’m going to have great fun coming up with cocktail combinations with this one! Some may even get into a cake planned.

go ahead bars

I remember when Go Ahead bars came out, they were all the range with students. I hadn’t had them for some time and thought they would be great for in-between synchro sessions. I’m a fan of the apple flavour but the Forest Fruits was definitely the winner with the kids – They didn’t last long! Billed as low in saturated fats, they do appeal but these are VERY sweet.

fresha bags

We are also trialling Fresha bags which are said to prolong the life of your fruit & veg in the fridge – Not much tends to last longer enough to spoil in this house, but I will let you know how we get on next month

cherries in kirsch

We still have one jar of our famous cherries in kirsch still to demolish – Our Cherry & Pineapple Crunch went down so well though, we might make it again this week

So what has been going on in your kitchen? Have you any plans for the month ahead. Let me know – I’d love to get excited along with you – It will break up the tedium of decorating!

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!

Resolutions – The Good, The Bad and The Ridiculous

All across the blogosphere there are posts popping up full of resolutions for the year ahead. I’m no different, like a lot of people my mind turns to resolutions straight after Christmas. I’m a big one for making promises for the year ahead, I love the thought of a fresh start. Strangely, my most successful resolution and one I’m probably most famous for, was when I decided to learn how to drink Gin & Tonic – I’ve done spectacularly well at keeping that one up!

Over the years there’s been plenty of resolutions that I’ve managed to keep for the whole year – thinking about it, these have tended to be the ‘doing’ ones rather than the ones where I try to change myself… Being more organised/ being on time/ losing weight/ being more outgoing/ being quieter – I’ve done them all. This year, I’m not trying to change myself – finally I’ve accepted that actually I’m alright. If I’m not someone’s cup of tea, then that’s their loss, I’m not about to change *insert a sticky out tongue here*

So what have been succesful – feel free to pinch any if they appeal!

  • Eating 5 fruit/veg per day – I did this religiously a couple of years ago and felt great. Lots more energy and less inclined to eat other crap. After about 18 months, I became lazy and got out of the habit – definitely one for next year.
  • Using moisuriser every day – People gasp when I tell them that I didn’t for the first 35+ years of my life (I wonder if it would be easier to tell people that I snort cocaine sometimes? I don’t by the way)
  • Walking to school – I don’t every afternoon but I certainly do more than I used to.
  • Reading books – The challenge for 2012 was 25 books, a considerable improvement on the past 5 years. I’ve enjoyed reading more (not quite got to 25 but nearly!) My sister has set the challenge for us both to read 25 in 2013 so the game is on!
  • Reading with the kids – Millie has discovered reading in her own way this year – long may it continue. Violet is getting better each day at reading and writing and we are loving working our way through the Wishing Chair books. Tara is a little bookworm too. Job Done!


What ‘we’ need to work on …

  • Timekeeping – I’ve discovered that all the good intentions in the world will not work if your 3 children and time challenged husband don’t understand the urge to be on time!
  • The ironing –we’re I’m getting there – the pile is getting smaller. I’ve given myself until August.
  • Money – Actually, I’m just not that interested in it. I have to be honest. I do my best at the beginning of the year to find out what our mortgage/bills are but less than 24 hours later, I’ve forgotten. Probably not the best example of a 21st century woman but that’s me.
  • Home Cooking – We still buy too much preprepared food for my liking but we are getting there. We no longer buy pizzas or soup but the next challenge is to stop buying biscuits and cakes – surely with our pedigree we should be making these from scratch?

And so there we are. I’m not going to make any rash promises about blogging more often, not going out of the house without make up, never shouting at the kids – if it happens, brilliant but if not, perhaps that’s just the way it was always meant to be?

So have you got any resolutions/plans for the year(s) ahead? Feel free to comment or add your own blog post – I’d love to know if there’s any good ones out there!


Things I Won’t Miss About Running A Cake Business

I’ve just put a cake in the oven that is only due to come out at 1am. I’m certain I’m not the only cake decorator to have done this but as time is racing towards Aardvark Cakes taking a long/maybe permanent break, I just got a little giddy that these late nights maybe a thing of the past.

With under 3 weeks to go until most orders are completed, I have started to take a light hearted look at what I won’t miss about the cake industry.


  • The Washing Up! (See the pic above for what is waiting for me when I finish this blog post)
  • Endlessly running out of eggs – I had to make an emergency dash to Tesco for 20 eggs earlier AGAIN!
  • Wrapping fruit cakes in newspaper – horrid job.
  • Searching for the cake tester knitting needle – I’m sure there’s a fairy in this house that steals it inbetween cakes.
  • Tidying the house for customers coming to collect their cakes and trying to keep 3 kids quiet and calm at the same time.
  • Phone calls asking if I’m interested in selling the business – funny, I’ve not had one of these calls since deciding to stop the business. Ring me now if you dare 😉
  • Being at a party and getting asked to divide up the cake – I only make the bleedin things, I’m not the expert at cutting them!
  • People apologising for serving me Asda/Costco cakes – Shock! I love Costco cake.
  • Having to keep every receipt – I’m going to bin all receipts with relish when I stop!
  • Never being able to have tea as all 3 ovens have a cake in them. They won’t know what’s hit them in July.


Can you think of anything I’ve missed? What drives you mad about making cakes?

Next week, I will start to look at what I am looking forward to doing – the list is getting ever bigger. I have booked for nail extensions on my last cake day as a symbol that I have actually finished – and also because I’m vain and want to look gorgeous on my hols!

What’s Going On?

I have said for a few years now that the end of the summer holidays and as the children are getting ready for returning to school feels like New Year to me. I mentally go through my New Years’ resolutions of what I plan to do and this year is no different. Well, actually it is a little different in that I now have 3 children and am that little bit more hectic (read: manic)

We came back from a fabulous holiday in Biarritz (finished off with a couple of days in Abersoch) on Saturday night and I’m now raring to go. The next couple of weeks will be really busy with getting ready for school and a couple of cakes to do but that’s life. I didn’t want to put on the blog about when we were due to be back – lets keep those burglars guessing!!

So what’s Going On?

What are we watching?
It seems like the TV schedulers are in synch with me and start loads of new series around this time – I can take or leave X-Factor or Big Brother but my ultimate favourite has to be The Great British Bake Off – Series 2 started last week and we are hooked. M & V love it too. It really inspires me to bake more and try unusual recipes and tastes. I had a serious chat with myself in Jan/Feb when it was time to think about applying – Baby T was due and arrived in Feb and if I was honest with myself I could not have given 10% as a contestant. Still time for future years?!? Just love Mary Berry and even Paul Hollywood doesn’t seem as grumpy as last year.

What are we listening to?
We did a marathon journey last Thursday when we got off the ferry at Plymouth (see picture – I know its rubbish and I really need to get a grip with photos!). We decided instead of pitching up at Plymouth for a couple of night as planned to travel straightaway to Abersoch. This was a 9 hour journey (straight after a 20 hour ferry journey) and serious entertainment was needed for the little Costellos. We stopped at a service station and I declared I was going to buy a DVD – easier said than done. The only one available was a compilation DVD of Rainbow. 9 hours later I was ready for killing Rod, Jane & Freddy. Played 3 times+ behind my head. Especially the one with The Ugly Duckling …

What are we reading?

V has really forgotten a lot of what phonics and numbers she has learnt in Reception so I have been going through a couple of workbooks with her – not in a strict way but hopefully to give her some confidence once she goes back to school.

Holiday reading was not as prolific as normal but I completed 3 books and started 2 others (reviews due shortly) I’s currently about a third of the way through The Postmistress and not finding it as riveting as I thought I would – I’ll keep plodding though.

What’s going on in the Costello kitchen?
This week is all about weaning Tara – I’m definitely going with the homemade. Will let you know how we get on.
I’m itching to get baking but realistically know that it will be next week until those eggs get cracked – I’ll make up for my absence though!

What’s going on this week?
A lot of catching up with friends – the girls are desperate for a sleep over (every parent’s nightmare) and I’ve just had a fab evening with one of my closest friends.
Boring dentist’s appointments and school shoe shopping but preparation for September when I will kick ass!! Watch out cake world!

What’s new with you – I’m intrigued to find out how everyone spends the summer – I do find it difficult with the 3 at home – Constant tidying but never seeming to get anywhere but also wanting to provide fun.

What’s going on? The Holiday Edition

Well, actually that’s misleading – We are constantly going on holiday and we are inbetween breaks as I type.

Its been a fortnight since my last confession Whats Going on so time for an update.

What are we watching?

The Tour de France finished yesterday. It was really good with a white-knuckle finish resulting in Mark Cavendish gaining the Green Jersey. For non-Tour de France viewers, the Green Jersey is awarded to the winner of the sprint stages based on points accumulated over the Tour. Mark is from the Isle of Wight and is compulsive viewing as when he wins he has such a lovely smile but when he loses, he is misery itself.

The rest of UK TV is pretty poor at the moment with a lot of series having finished. We are quite hooked on 24 hours in A&E based at Kings College Hospital in London. They get some mad cases there. One to watch!

What are we listening to?

We came across this blast from the past yesterday in the car and it took me back to my teens. Loved the Beautiful South and this song was my favourite. I think the next time I do a What’s Going On, I will have to include what the kids are listening to. They are growing up so fast and I found myself asking M who was singing a particular song the other day. (It was Bruno Mars) The shame  – I’ve turned into my parents!

What are we reading?

I’ve not progressed too far with my reading in the past 2 weeks – I am plodding on with Sister (Rosamund Lupton) and the Second Coming but life has been so busy that I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on reading.

Some of my reading list planned for the holiday includes: Afterwards (Rosamund Lupton) for a book group, Grace Williams says it Loud (for another book group), Pigeon English (for the same book group!), The Hand that First Held Mine (Maggie O’Farrell) and The Postmistress (Sarah Blake) – My chances of getting through even half of them are VERY slim.

What’s cooking in the Costello kitchen?

2 birthday cakes to be done before I go anywhere but the big news is we are getting organised to start Baby T on real food. From what I can remember from weaning V, it doesn’t have to take over the whole of our lives but who knows? M & V are beyond excited about starting T on food – V told my friend that I met in the supermarket that T would be having food very soon. I am going to have to watch that they don’t start sharing their meals with her – although I suspect, they may not be so quick to share chocolate!

What else is happening?

Lots of washing and ironing. Sorting out a real bed for baby T in the van – she can no longer squeeze into the Moses basket. Lots of August birthdays to sort out (including mine but I won’t hold my breath for a massive celebration) and generally keeping the 3 tweenies occupied. All good!

Feel free to share what’s happening in your patch of the world – would love to hear what you are up to.